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A Tip from Jerry Pournelle and Byte Magazine-Keep a Log

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I used to read Byte Magazine. I also had a subscription to Infoweek when John Dvorak was a columnist. There is one very useful, non-computer related tip I picked up from Pournelle’s column, Chaos Manor. Pournelle said that he kept a log and whenever he was given a telephone number (this was before the wide use of e-mail) or another piece of useful information he would write it in his log. The log was a notebook and not a binder so that pages couldn’t be lost. No matter how trivial, the number went in the log. This lessened, but did not eliminate, the little scraps of paper that accumulate during the day and always seem to get lost. Your discussion with customer service three months ago over a problem that was supposed to have been solved? What was the name of the rep who fixed it for you? It’s all in the log. Passwords, account numbers, all of this useful daily information would go into the log. I kept the names of case agents, witnesses, clerks of court and others. The information was kept in chronological order so it helped me remember the event and what I was doing around that time.

A paper notebook has the advantage of longevity, though it can be lost or misplaced and if the information falls into the wrong hands you could have a very serious problem indeed, especially if account numbers and passwords are recorded. Nowadays you can keep an encrypted text file on your computer. The advantage of a text file is that it is multi-platform: everything from the Palm Pilot of recent memory to the latest Samsung Galaxy, any Mac or any other kind of computer can easily display text.

I cannot count the number of times that having such a log pulled me out of a jam. Pournelles’ advice is very, very useful and it’s worth keeping in mind.

Written by mokane

November 11, 2013 at 1:16 pm

Posted in Uncategorized

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