back to article $1,000 reward offered for stolen cancer research laptop

Medical researchers in Oklahoma are offering a no-questions-asked $1,000 reward for the return of a stolen laptop that contains years of research on prostate cancer. Sook Shin lost the 13-inch white MacBook last Sunday after thieves smashed the window of the car she shares with husband, Ralf Jankecht, and made off with the …

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FAIL

There are two types of people...

Those that make backups.

And those that have never lost irreplaceable data.

I mean, really! What kind of numpty leaves their only copy of important data on a highly nickable computer, without making any backups?

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Happy

Theres actually 10 types of people

Those who understand binary, and those who dont

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And the third kind...

...is wondering how we got here. This is not a numpty, but a highly intelligent person. Nevertheless, she hasn't protected herself from theft, disk crashes, software errors, or even the simple "Oops, didn't mean to press delete." What are we doing wrong?

Talked this over with a colleague, who mentioned losing a paper to a failed floppy disk in her freshman year. Similarly, when I was student, floppy disks and NFS mounts were very much hit-and-miss propositions, so you learned to save early, save often and save in multiple places as a student.

Modern equipment is much more reliable in that regard --which is great--, but apparently nobody has thought about the resulting need to teach students data management in some other way.

Upshot is, I'm not sure to what extent you can blame her. If you had never seen a car crash and seat belts were things you had to re-install in the car every morning, would you use them?

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Jobs Horns

A Life Sciences numpty with MacBook

Before anyone starts shouting I have one at home so this is a first hand observation.

However, a number of incidents where my servers and the email on them ended up the only place to pull the "rabit out of the hat" have taught her the value of backups. Oh and the proverbial MacBook episode of Sex And The City went a long way towards that too...

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Pint

Not on Friday...

Then it's 11 types and unary.

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Happy

Theres actually II types of people

Those who understand roman numerals and those who don't.

(Dont blame me, I wouldn't normally, but they started it...)

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Anonymous Coward

10 types & binary?

Nah. It's 11 types - those who understand Gray code, and those who dont.

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Thumb Up

You only do it once

One of the best things that owning a Sinclair Spectrum taught me was the value of backups. Try relying on a Compact Cassette and cheap tape recorder to store your data and you soon learn :)

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Happy

Easy there!

This is obviously a bright person who just doesn't consider IT stuff to be important. I know bugger all about flower arranging and very little about plumbing, 'cos I don't think they are important to me. If I get in a jam, I pay someone else to fix these things.

We work in IT, we can do the sucking breath through teeth thing when people do stupid things with computers, just like the grease-monkey down the local garage when your big-end-over-arching-oopja-wotnot blows in your fan-groove-thingy-doohickey!

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Bronze badge

Except

she's not, conversely, a flower arranger; she's a scientist and the computer is a tool of her trade. Now, I don't want to be too hard on her individually - It's easy enough to treat backups as "not a priority" - but I seriously wonder at the institutional culture that allows this sort of thing to happen.

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Happy

@10 types of people

And we can tell their proportions on this forum by looking at the up/down votes to that post.

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Silver badge

Having worked in IT for a top international university

I am not that amazed. Being incredibly capable in your field does not automatically bleed across to other areas. The number of conversations I had about how the university's managed (RAIDed, mirrored across two geographically separate campuses, backed up nightly to two distant off-site secure repositories) was too expensive compared to buying a USB hard drive from OfficeWorks! Keep in mind the data to be backed up could have real-world values measured in tens of thousands (usually) or even millions (not uncommon) of dollars (not to mention several years of the complainant's working life) and you will understand why the VC tended to side with IT on this matter.

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Headmaster

Theres actually 10 types of people ...

those that understand counting in any base, those that think this is binary and those who have no idea what fsck I'm on about.

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Silver badge

Dropbox

I use Dropbox for a lot of my important info as well as important stuff like datasheets and any other info I need replicated. Dropbox stores data in offsite servers and replicates it over all your machines. If I had a PhD going then it would be there.

I don't know about US universities, but my son's university here in NZ provides a drop-box like service for students.

There are such simple backup systems out there that there really are no excuses.

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WTF?

You Clown.

Really? Years of important research not backed up one jot? You absolute clown.

The IT manager of this institution should be brought to task as well - IT management isn't just about ensuring the hardware works.

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Paris Hilton

Muppetry

"Sook Shin lost the 13-inch white MacBook last Sunday after thieves smashed the window of the car she shares with husband, Ralf Jankecht, and made off with the laptop. Data on the machine was not backed up."

<facepalm>

El Reg really, really needs a facepalm icon.

Pais icon because it's the only one with a face and a palm.

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Joke

There are two types of people....

Those that use Windows and those who use Mac's

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Anonymous Coward

Re: There are two types of people...

and Mac is beginning to get annoyed.

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Pint

You missed an opportunity...

to say the reason that Windows users backup is because the flaming OS fails so often.

Don't get annoyed, it's Friday, have a beer instead then go home like the rest of us and back up all the bits that we forgot to include in our backup regime.

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Anonymous Coward

Silly me

I just finished a long overdue round of backups at work yesterday (they don't pay me enough to work harder at fitting it in) so feel ok about myself.

THEN I realised I left all the USB drives sat next to the server, and won't be able to get to them until Monday. Bugger. Let's hope no-one sets fire to the premises before then :/

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Pint

those that use Mac's

Mac's what? Did they ask first? Who knows?

The mystery deepens.

I'm only joking, it's Friday.

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WTF?

That sounds...

...like the worst backup solution ever!

Apart from the whole not backing up thing of course.

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Look, mac

I like that; almost as good as leaving your only copy of years of hard work on an expensive and attractive device, which itself is left on a car seat where anybody can see it....

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Ouch

We see this time and time again. I hope that this is returned for the benefit of all potential sufferes...

Make the reward $50,000 dollars and take it out of his paycheck!

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Silver badge

Jesus H Christ

I don't normally comment on backup issues, but years worth of vitally important data -NOT BACKED UP?!

Makes you wanna cry.

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Joke

No - there are 10 types of people.

Those that understand binary..

and those that don't

ttfn

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FAIL

What a tit !

OK it was stolen, but an OS corruption, a disk fail, a spilt cup of coffee or 100 other things would all have lead to the same end.

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FAIL

Coverup??

Are they not just covering up for the fact they have done no work for years.

This sounds as flimsy an excuse as "the dog ate it"

Anyone dumb enough to not backup data THAT important I wouldn't trust to sweep a floor let alone look for a cure to cancer.

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Anonymous Coward

Not everyone ...

thinks about that sort of thing unfortunately. I know quite a few people who I regard as academically intelligent in most respects but they seem to have reached that point by either trading a fair chunk of their common sense to get there or are so wrapped up in whatever their specialist field is that they've made some very big (and sometimes quite amusing) errors in the 'real world'.

Backups and general IT contingency are always on our minds as we're computer-literate people but maybe she thought that it was one of those things that just magically happened in the background or that her assistant did it for her. Not saying that's a valid reason but rather than just labelling her as incompetent I feel sorry for her having to learn the realities of disaster recovery in such a serious way.

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FAIL

There is Fail...

... there is Epic Fail...

And then there is this, some sort of universe encompassing extra dimensional mega-Fail.

Seriously, anyone who keeps all their important stuff on the single hard drive of a laptop deserves to lose it, and never be allowed to use a computer again.

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Chief Operating Officer

C'mon y'all, even Boo backs up his important data, mostly "Educational Videos"

Whats wrong with these people??

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FAIL

the other Fail

There's plenty talk about the numptiness of not making backups, so I won't add anything on that score

In addition to that though, by the sounds of it the machine was in plain view and the miscreant ne'er-do-well only had to break a window to get at it. If it had been locked away securely then maybe we wouldn't be having this conversation at all.

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WTF?

Haunting

If ever I die of cancer that could of been cured or prevented because of this... I'm so gonna haunt her

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Headmaster

common mistake

It's not quite "would of", but "would've", spelled "would've".

http://www.wsu.edu/~brians/errors/couldof.html

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I Heard That..

...prostate cancer is caused by Deadly Sperm Backup.

So get busy.

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shes a doctor for crying out loud

She's not a cynical IT professional. She / He ( i cant tell from the name) is researching cancer as well, so cut her some slack.

Einstein for example was known to have 7 sets of identical clothing, his brain could not cope with such mundane matters as dressing himself.

It's not her fault but the IT dept where she works, although i would lay odds that becuase she insisted in using a mac, their IT did not have a group policy they could use on it, so she just went without backup's and they let her.

If your not going to educate your users then make sure your backing their data up for them. Dont blame them though when their laptops get nicked and they turn to you. It's your job to make sure they are backed up

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Anonymous Coward

Even simpler

Why assume it's failure of group policy?

I work for an IT consultancy, and I don't back up either. It's not that I don't know the importance of backups -- it's just that my company doesn't provide the infrastructure. I'd love to back up, truly I would, but I'd have to use personal kit to do so, and that would breach our data security policies.

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Bronze badge

Collective responsibility

"It's not her fault but the IT dept where she works"

Not sure I'd apportion blame in any one place as it's a collective failure; a great loss to her, but also a great loss to everyone.

People are crap, we all are, all fallible and I bet many here discovered the cold truth about backup the hard way. Backup devices are so cheap these days that there's no real excuse for not having some sort of backup and there's always CD/DVD, so it really is a matter of educating people.

But even then the message isn't really taken on-board until disaster strikes and it's then too late.

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FAIL

"I can't tell from the name"

Nor, clearly, the words "...that she shares with her husband"

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Jobs Halo

TIME MACHINE

For pity's sake, it's a Mac! Just plug a sodding USB disk in and it does it all for you. It isn't hard, in fact it is enabled by default!

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FAIL

Did you miss the "Stolen" bit

Did you miss the bit where it said it was stolen?

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exactly!

what I thought... a usb disc or a time capsule would have seen all that work saved in a second location... all without her actually having to dao anything!

This sort of thing beggars belief! its not hard to back stuff up nowadays...

and leaving a laptop in plain view in her car? or, if her laptop was 'hidden' then there was still another reason that made a thief want to open the thing...

One stupid mistake is bad enough, but 2 of them???

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Unhappy

Chances are...

...the USB stick was with the laptop.

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WTF?

Point?

Your point is... what? Backups are only good for failed hard drives, not stolen laptops?

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FAIL

"Did you miss the bit where it said it was stolen"

.. no but what difference does that make?

Had she backed it up with a removable USB drive (as simple on a Mac as plugging it in and clicking on "yes" to the prompt) she could have recovered from fire, theft, flood, coffee, mechanical failure or abduction (of the laptop) by aliens.

Its so dumb on so many levels ( here's my laptop with 4 years unprotected work on it lets put it on the parcel shelf whilst we leave the car) , you've got to wonder if instead she actually had done no work and this was a way of covering that up.

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Silver badge

"Just works"

which is why Mac users rarely backup.

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FAIL

RE: Did you miss the "Stolen" bit

Err, no.

For those where such easy to use things are not the norm, on a Mac you can use any external hard drive, or a drive on another Mac (or server), or space on a disk attached to an AirPort Extreme (Apple's wireless base station/router), or the disk in Apple's Time Capsule (a sort of NAS style backup appliance with integrated dual-band wireless access point) - for backups with Time Machine.

It's a complete doddle to set up for most common situations, and once set up is completely automatic. It just copies your data to the other disk, keeping multiple versions until the disk is full - at which point it starts deleting the very oldest.

The neat thing is that the UI for retrieving files is also easy to use.

OK, it's not a substitute for multiple rotated media kept offsite, but it's far better than the non-backup most people don't use at all. Seeing as the facility is built into Airport And Time Capsule, many people could use them as their network router and not have to have an extra box. So, whenever at home (or work if you want to put it there), your Mac will silently do your backups - every hour - all the time you have the backup drive connected (USB) or are on the network (network storage).

OK, so it's not really cheap, but it's not really expensive either - and a LOT less that the $1000 this loon is having to offer in the hope of getting years worth of priceless data back.

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Silver badge

Backup isnt just for tragic data loss

Backup (particularly with Time Machine) also allows you to re\cover from those nasty evens where you inadvertently delete a file or a paragraph and want to retrieve it.

Anyone using a computer for their research should be using backup. Products like Time Machine make it trivial.

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$1000

just thinking about it... either she didnt get very far with her research, or doesnt value it that much! Id value 'years' of holiday snaps at over $1000!

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