Volume 16, Issue 3 - May/June 2012

Open 24/7
By Manny Hondroulis

In the Dark, Without A Computer

Most of us take technology for grantedóI know I do. The very first thing I do each morning after waking up is to check email and Facebook. That part of my daily routine is akin to the average coffee drinker who indulges before leaving the house. To me, itís a given that all of the hardware and software that impacts my life will work each and every day. I wasnít so lucky recently when I was without a computer and email for several days.

The other day I noticed that Outlook was running slow and that I couldnít read or send any emails. My network administrator responded quickly but didnít know the cause of the problem. While he was busy searching for a solution during the course of several days, I was without a computer and emailóI was in the dark. On any given day I receive about 100 emails that require some follow-up on my part. I was panicking as customers and colleagues emailed me and required follow-up that just kept piling up.

I tried to make the best of being without a computer. I caught up on industry reading. I spent time on the phone contacting customers, prospects and end-users. And I took care of some housekeeping items that would have otherwise gone undone. But with each passing day the number of unanswered emails got bigger and bigger.

I keep my day organized by using a calendar on my computer. It lets me know when I have appointments, conference calls and deadlines. As I was without my calendar, I didnít even realize that I had missed the deadline for this column (thanks to Katie for reminding me and for extending it).

After four days, my network administrator still had no solution to the problem but decided to recreate my network profile in hopes that my problems would be solved. I guess he got lucky because it worked. He couldnít find an explanation as to what caused the issue so itís likely to happen again. Next time I will be more prepared.

We all know that it is vital to keep redundant processes in place in case you experience some sort of mishap like the one I did. The problem is that redundant processes take time to create and maintain so we rarely do it. And Iím guilty as charged. But I learned that taking the time now will save you time and frustration later. So here are some simple precautions that Iím taking (and you can too) to make sure that I wonít be in the dark again. After all, there is a cost associated with every moment of computer downtime.

ē Save all relevant files to a cloud. A cloud is a place, much like an online hard drive, where you can store files and access those files whenever you have an Internet connection. So if youíre without your computer you can simply access the internet from another computer and download the files you need.

ē Familiarize yourself with how to access email online. Many providers allow you to check email through the web in addition to using an application like Outlook. Memorize all relevant user names and passwords.

ē Sync all of your contacts and appointments to your smart phone or tablet. If your computer goes down, youíll have your smart phone or tablet as backup.

ē Write it down. When all else fails, youíll have a written record of important information. It may seem archaic but it wonít be susceptible to crashing.

ē Have a backup computer. When you upgrade to your next computer, consider using the old one as backup. Make sure that it is virus-free and in good working condition. It might seem slow next to your new computer, but itís only temporary.

All of us get frustrated when our computers arenít working properly and we take them for granted. As strange as it sounds, theyíre like living organisms. They need to be maintained. They become slow with age. And at some point they die. But most of us canít live or work without them. Just make sure that when the day comes and you are without your computer, you have a contingency plan in place so that you donít skip a step. I know I will.

Manny Hondroulis is marketing manager for Energy Performance Distribution in Baltimore.
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