The Prime Directive
Monday, January 3, 2011 at 7:30PM
Jehuda Saar


Sorry Trekkies, this post is NOT about your favourite subject. For Star Trek fans the words "Prime Directive" have a very definite and precise meaning. The term refers to a Starfleet guiding principle banning interference with pre-warp societies. No, this post is about my very own "Prime Directive", one I have come to appreciate more over the past few days.

I go back to the very beginning of my professional life. Back in 1987 one of my first bosses, bitten by the Mac bug the same way I had been a little earlier, made me come out to his house in New Jersey on a Sunday to set up an Excel spreadsheet on his Mac. We essentially created a basic inventory system for our business, entirely from scratch (templates were not very hot in those days or else we were simply unaware of their existence). His Mac (I can't remember whether it was a MacPlus or SE) was seated on top of a surge suppressor that also had power switches to control individual sockets. 

It took us a few hours to set up this gem of a spreadsheet. At the end of a long day, satisfied that we had just created the coolest thing since sliced bread, I dramatically pushed back the keyboard away from me in order to lift my hand up in the air and declare that we were truly a couple of genius software developers. The keyboard touched the main power switch on the surge suppressor, and the computer shut down. Of course, genius that I was, I had not even once saved the file we had been working on so diligently all day.

Hence the Jehuda Saar Prime Directive: ALWAYS SAVE YOUR WORK. ALL THE TIME !!!

I have been screaming that mantra from every roof. I have been pestering anyone I have ever come across sitting at a computer doing work for as long as I can remember. My kids have been hearing this since the day their little fingers every touched their very first keyboard. And yet, over the span of two days last week, I was guilty not once, not twice, but three times of violating this most sacred of principles myself. I had been working on a few music files in Garageband for an upcoming presentation. There were a few hours worth of voice recordings in the can, and suddenly while moving some music portions around, Garageband decided to say "bye bye". The last time I had saved the file had been a couple of hours earlier. Needless to say all that work had been for nought. What is inexcusable though is that, knowing Garageband was running into some problem, I then repeated this mistake twice more.

Leaving aside for a moment the "why" of this occurrence in Garageband (I am working on the solution), the key is that the Jehuda Saar Prime Directive is there for a reason and that this guiding principle cannot be violated in any way...EVER. SAVE you work, ALWAYS save your work. Whatever key combination is used to achieve this action on your particular flavour of computer or OS, use it. If recent developments in iOS, and some of the hints we have had of future MacOS releases are any indication, automatic saving of files will most likely become the norm in future software releases, and maybe this learned habit of constantly saving files is something that our children will have to worry much less about one day. It is possible they won't even understand what this post was about since saving will no longer be a feature they will have to think about. But for now, put on those Mr Spock ears and set your phasers to "stun" cause its time to SAVE !!!


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