Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Down Day

I hope I haven't come across as critical today.

I really appreciate the work my colleagues in ISD are putting in to get our systems up and running again tonight. If I were in the office tomorrow I would bake them a batch of cupcakes to say thank you. It's hard to imagine a more stressful situation to be in - struggling to put right a situation that is affecting the productivity of countless colleagues, all of whom have deadlines to meet and a mountainous workload as they seek to do no less than eradicate worldwide poverty - no pressure then.

But - maybe - it is time to pause. And breathe...

I find myself asking the question - again and again - have we become too dependent on technology?

But I'm not sure if we have, after all if something works for the common good, is accessible, available, affordable - why not make use of it at every given opportunity and hey - why waste time backing up with handwritten notes (for example) if actually the new reality means that all our work is available wherever and whenever we find ourselves.

I don't want to be laying blame as I don't doubt for a minute everyone in ISD does their darndest to ensure situations like this don't arise. What I do want to do however is try and unravel how the rest of us can ensure we are prepared for days like today. The sense of frustration has been aired on Facebook and Twitter but I don't see anyone angry at the organisation or colleagues - rather there is a general sense of concern that we should find ourselves in such a situation.

So I'm interested to hear from all you IT geeks and nerds out there. WWJD? What would Jobs do? Dropbox has been suggested to me as a way forward - store any documents I need to work on urgently in a folder and access from anywhere in the world.

If you are in the office on a day like today then of course you can hold impromptu meetings; catch up; tidy up; make good use of the time networking and doing all those things you have been meaning to do.

If you are working from home - having opted for peace and quiet to finish work on an important document - the situation is more complex. Clearly no point in travelling to the office to sit and do the above - but no opportunity for those actions either. I had a pleasant enough day at the garden centre but of course I am now seven flexi hours (that I hadn't budgeted for) down ;-(

I don't have the answer - just a whole load of questions. And I find myself thinking back almost thirty years to when, sat at my desk with a dictaphone, I would mutter "letter to Mrs Jones...." and send the tape to the typing pool....

Times have indeed changed. For the better I'm sure ... but for the best?


  1. I ask myself "why do we have to employ these 'belts and braces' strategies to ensure things get done if modern technology is so good"? Slightly different, I know, but only yesterday my washing machine, which was sold to me with a so called "known fault", wouldn't start because of the damn door mechanism, AND of course I hadn't renewed the breakdown cover for the third year! Luv K xx

  2. I used to put stuff in a password locked zip or rar and attach to draft emails on GMail, which I'd then save locally as soon as I got home, so if the connection went at my end, it didn't matter. Dropbox sounds like a good idea, but whatever you do should always be password locked if it is at all sensitive. While it's a pain to type in, a phrase is good because it can be easily remembered. I used to use nursery rhymes and the like: "HumptyDumpty sat on the w411" for example (there's a really good cartoon strip somewhere about how what we've done with password rules is to make stuff that computers can crack and humans can't remember - phrases rather than single words or random strings often solve both of those problems to a good degree)

  3. Thank you for the comments ladies - how's the washing machine situation Kaz? And thanks for some good ideas Titch - especially for passwords as I am RUBBISH at both choosing and remembering them! Good idea to attach documents to draft emails too - never thought of that one! x