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Where is my Data?
This really happened. I didn't make it up.

Copyright © 2009, Paul LutusMessage Page

Where is my Data I | Where is my Data II | Where is my Data III | A Reader's Reply

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I receive lots of inquiries about my free computer programs. In fairness to the non-narcissists among my correspondents, most messages say something like, "Thanks for writing all these cool free programs." But about 25% of inquiries sound very much like what follows.

Where is my Data I
i saved the data directory from a previous plcash session/s and reinstalled my OS. now I cant get the file to load in a plcash. i backed up, but cant restore. please help. I would love to help you, but you need to provide some information besides saying, "It's broken, please help". If you really saved your data, and if you really put it back in the same position, there would be no problem. But you report that there is a problem, and based on the copious information you have provided, I can only come to the conclusion that ... something went wrong.

In a normal PLCash installation, there is a data directory located at (user directory)/.PLCash/data that contains all your data. If this directory is present, you will see your data. If this directory is missing, you won't. Present, yes. Missing, no.

Did you really save you data? Did you really restore it to its former position after reinstalling your operating system? Only you know this. And the importance of your data directory is clearly spelled out in the documentation. Did you read the documentation?
Where is my Data II
Yes I read the help file. If you read it, you didn't understand it. I think you didn't read it, but if you did, it was during some kind of violent neurological storm that blew down the lines between your eyes and your brain. It doesnt give any information beyond "back up your files." On the contrary, here is what the PLCash documentation says, word for word:

"The conclusion is that data backup is your responsibility. Here is the general outline:
  • The PLCash data files are located in the directory (user directory)/.PLCash/data. To see the exact location of this directory on your machine, press the "About" toolbar button.
  • Back up all the files in this directory to at least one other location, preferably on a separate machine or on backup media, so that a machine failure will not wipe out all copies of your data files."
Conclusion? You never read the documentation, and you never backed up your data.
Yes I REALLY saved the data folder. But you didn't, because you didn't read (or understand) the documentation, and it appears that you have no idea where your data files are located, for my program or any other. I never even mentioned anything being "broken". I really put the data folder back in the same exact place in the newly installed plcash program and it still doesnt work. Well, you sound very sure of yourself. Let's see how this assurance holds up as we get to the specifics. After placing the data folder in the appropriate place, (c/programfiles/plcash) Bingo. In the PLCash documentation, and in my prior post, I explained where the data files must go. But, because you have totally ignored these several sources of information, I will spell it out for you.

On a Windows system, the PLCash data file set must be placed in this folder:

C:\Documents and Settings\(user name)\.PLCash\data

But it serves no purpose to place the data files in this folder:

C:\Program Files\PLCash

Notice how one of the above-listed names have the word "DATA" in it, and the other has the word "PROGRAM" in it. Are you aware that a computer program, and computer data, are separate and distinct categories of information?

Before this point in time, you could have:

  1. Read the free documentation that comes with my free program,
  2. Clicked the PLCash "About" toolbar button to see the exact location of the data files on your system,
  3. Backed up your real data files, then
  4. Restored them according to the plainly worded instructions.
But, as things stand, I still have no idea whether you actually ever backed up your data files, or whether you actually have them, or whether you will be able to figure out out where they are supposed to go.
the plcash program opens up as if to start from scratch and does not contain my saved information. That's because it doesn't, and that in turn is because you haven't placed the data files where they belong. I don't know what else to tell you. I am pretty computer literate and have done things like this a million times with no problems. Oh, no, you haven't. You have no idea what you are doing, and you don't know where your personal data files are located, on either the new or old operating system, with regard to my program or any other.

Because a Windows computer system might be used by more than one person, data files are NEVER (and must NEVER be) located in "c:\Program Files", instead they must ALWAYS be located in "C:\Documents and Settings\(user name)\(program name)" or another suitable location separate from the program itself.

But one thing is perfectly clear — you are absolutely confident in your computer skills. You have no doubt that you understand your computer and you believe you can reliably locate, back up and restore your data files. But your self-confidence has no connection with reality.

On that basis, I respectfully recommend that you read this article:

"On Being Perfect"

I realize this should work with no problems, but it doesnt. And now you know why it doesn't. You couldn't imagine why I needed to have more information than you provided until now, but now you do. Or you should. Thanks. You're welcome.
Where is my Data III
If you didnt want to help you should have just said so. Let's be perfectly clear. You asked for my help — "please help" — and I responded by helping you. I managed to solve your problem, but to do that I had to get some information. You didn't expect to have to provide any information, and I had to persuade you otherwise. So I did — I got you to reveal your error, and now you have your data files again. Which part didn't you understand?

When you ask for help, you simply must consider the possibility there is something you don't already know. Your first message clearly indicated there was no need to provide any information because the issue was obviously a defect in my program, not your use of it. Your second message tried to expand on your first, but included some details meant to prove your point. Instead, they proved the opposite.

You could have saved both of us a lot of time by including in your first post what ended up in your second, and you could have saved even more time by reading the free documentation that accompanies my free program.

This is a classic exchange with what is technically known as a malignant narcissist — a twisted personality type who will not, who cannot, accept personal responsibility for anything, and for whom everything is unacceptable. All problems are by definition the fault of others, and if someone offers help, the narcissist stops whining about the problem and starts whining about the help.

Narcissists haven't the slightest idea how their behavior looks to others, they constantly whine about reality as though they are not responsible actors in their own lives, and the condition is regarded as incurable.

Software vendors will doubtless say, "You can't talk to customers like that! How can you stay in business?" My answer is that I have no customers and I'm not in business. Before downloading free programs, people should understand how freeware works, and when they clearly don't, I ask them to read my article about freeware.

Many years ago I thought I would put a philosophical "price" on my otherwise free programs — in "payment" I would ask that people stop whining about their lives for a spell. I called this idea "CareWare". But over the years I've received so many inquiries like the above that I have reluctantly abandoned the CareWare idea — given the nature of modern society, CareWare appears to be spectacularly out of touch with reality.

CareWare is kind of silly, anyway. Stop whining? I might as well ask people to stop breathing.

A Reader's Reply
I have just this moment read your posted exchange with the person who was confused about putting their PLCash data files back into the correct directory. The problem was not that he was confused. The problem was that he took the position that my program was defective. And he failed to read the free documentation — he expected me to read it for him. Then, when I did read the documentation for him, he failed to read what I wrote. I gave him the information he needed in my first reply, but he couldn't be bothered to read it, instead he continued to insist that the problem was my program, not his use of it. It was at that point that I realized I was dealing with a malignant narcissist. I do not write computer programs, so I am not accustomed to receiving feedback about them. Although, come to think of it, I do sometimes get technical enquiries from acquaintances along the lines of "I tried x but it's not doing it, stupid program, please help." That describes the interaction between a narcissist and an enabler. The fundamental question in a case like this is whether the enabling behavior makes the situation better or worse. With narcissists, enabling behavior always makes the situation worse — always. This is true because narcissists are perfect, and any problems that come up are by definition the fault of others.

Being an enabler is an easy trap to fall into. You want to be a coöperative, helpful person, someone with constructive values and behaviors. But it is critical to understand that this behavior must not be extended to narcissists, who are skilled at exploiting "helpers", and who famously claim that everything is unacceptable. What have you done for me lately? That's not good enough. Life is so unfair. A free program? And I have to read the documentation? So unfair!

Obviously someone might try to claim that everyone who asks for help is a narcissist. But narcissists are easy to spot — when confronted by generosity, a normal person responds with his own generosity, while a narcissist responds by declaring the generosity inadequate and demanding more. Narcissists are mental infants.
Your correspondent should have gone into a little more detail in their first message. In fact, the more I think about it, the more I understand your response. Perhaps you perceived, probably correctly, that this person was somewhat thoughtless and interested only in a quick fix. It was not merely an incident. As the remainder of the exchange proved (including parts I held back to keep from embarrassing my correspondent further), it reflected a lifelong pattern of avoiding personal responsibility. Still - and this is what prompted me to write this message - I beg you to consider the fact that in society at large (especially among your generation... j/k) it's OK to be unfamiliar with computers, and OK not to read the manual (well, unless something goes wrong). It is certainly OK to be unfamiliar with computers, but it is not OK to falsely claim to be familiar with computers as this correspondent did, and it is certainly not OK to fail to read the manual and then claim you did, as this correspondent did. This correspondent falsely claimed to have read the manual, then went on to make a false claim about what the manual said. At first glance - I say again, at first glance - it seemed to me like you were rather harshly tearing into an innocent and typical user. No, actually I was dealing with a malignant narcissist, a social parasite, someone congenitally incapable of accepting personal responsibility for anything. It was a textbook case. And true to type, this correspondent continued to avoid any hint of personal responsibility — first the problem was my program, then when I solved his problem, the problem was how I solved it. Classic narcissism. I think you could have taken a higher road and been a little more polite. Maybe. I tried that approach for about thirty years, until I met the housewife from hell:

Asperger's by Proxy / Case History

For many years I believed narcissists were simply incredibly annoying, until I was taught by direct experience that they can also be incredibly dangerous. So please, don't ask me to take the high road with people who can't be bothered to locate the road.
I wasn't there, and I didn't write the program, so I wouldn't know. I'm just wondering if you may turn off other people at first glance. That's a risk I'm willing to take. I want nothing to do with these twisted characters. Life is too short to spend it trying to please people who are to human society what a tick is to a dog. It's possible that not everyone will take a few minutes to think it all over. Yes, that's right, and they will continue with the same childish behavior until they meet someone who won't tolerate it. And even then, according to mental health literature, the most malignant among narcissists will insist on holding someone else responsible, then carry on whining their way through life.

Are you familiar with "boot camp" in the military? Put very simply, boot camp is an efficient way to weed out narcissists, because (just as in real life) to survive the experience a person must accept personal responsibility for his circumstances. Narcissists cannot do this. A narcissist is a spectator in his own life — a critic, not a participant. Life demands participation.

Thanks for writing — I hope this clarifies the issue for you.

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