The police made their excuses and left, and for the second time that day I'd found myself practically levitating with righteous indignation. First, some idiot had taken my laptop, tablet, data cards, digital voice recorders, headphones and all the other accoutrements of life that normal people keep about them while on the road. Second, the custodians of the law were telling me it was my fault for owning the stuﬀ in the ﬁrst place. 'I don't know why everyone's blaming you, daddy,' said my angelic nine-year-old daughter. 'After all,' quoth she, 'it's not as if you stole your own bag, is it?'
I suppose I was lucky there were no cameras or lenses in the bag. In the grand scheme of things it's a lot less expensive to replace a laptop than a set of top-of-the-range lenses. But there had been a load of important material resident on my hard drive that was now being wiped clean in a back-street black market computer-reformatting establishment somewhere in the bowels of Streatham. Some scrofulous pickpocket was out there negotiating with Fagin for a few quid, while in my imagination pretty much my entire business was being hacked into by people incapable of recognising its value. Frantically, I phoned the bank, my accountant and the local priest. I knew I was facing a nightmare of digital forensics: so when you think about it, really I should have phoned the guys at CSI, too.
Despite losing screeds of critical documentation and somewhere in the region of 10,000 photographs, my mood was soon on the upswing as I realised most of this could be clawed back from the dusty corners of the ether. My laptop was actually my tertiary machine and I have lots of backup drives at home. The job I was working on had gone the way of all ﬂ esh, because I'd left the camera's data card in the side of the machine. But all in all, I think the worst of the damage was to my pride, while my jaundiced view of humanity became yellower by the second.
Sometimes you've got to really look for a silver lining, and on this occasion I could have borrowed a scanning electron microscope from one of those physics labs in Switzerland and still have found trouble locating it. But like Robinson Crusoe, I wrote down the positive aspects of being stranded here alone on my digital desert island. First, well, I needed some new toys in any case. My laptop was over four years old and the one I'd bought my daughter for Christmas was starting to look very attractive, not least because it was faster, had more onboard storage and was half the price (Moore's Law is a funny thing, isn't it?). Second, I'd never liked my ﬁle management system, my accounting software or the fact that my domain name email address had always worked less well than my AOL account. Third, there was so much stuﬀ on the hard drive that I never used it had become something akin to a box room in an old house, where if everything were to be thrown away, would anyone miss any of that junk?
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