Will your technology stand up to a crisis?
Last week I had a scare. In the middle of a big project, and on my fifteenth wedding anniversary, no less, I turned my computer on and it didn’t start up. All I could see was a blue screen with a picture of a bird and what looked like an olive branch. What was going on? I turned it off at the mains and tried again. Exactly the same thing happened. What had happened to my usually ultra-reliable Dell machine that had never let me down before?
Panic set in. On top of everything else I’d become a little complacent and had failed to carry out my back-up routine the night before. So as well as having to have my computer repaired if it was, as I feared, some sort of virus attack, I was looking at having to repeat a day’s work. But even that wasn’t the worst of it because I was going to have to do it on my back-up computer. It’s the laptop I’m writing this blog on now (also a Dell, strangely enough) and, although it can’t be considered old, the truth is that it has never worked properly. It has various annoying faults which made my heart sink when I contemplated the idea of having to work on it for however long it took to get my main computer cleaned and repaired. I’d planned to replace it this year, but I hadn’t got round to it.
By this time, my computer was on its third or fourth restart attempt, and appeared to be running some sort of repair program, although I doubted it was going to be any use. While I waited, I used the laptop to search the Internet, hoping to find information about whatever virus it was, and eventually managed to discover the truth. In fact, this odd blue screen with its little bird is something that happens sometimes to Windows 7, particularly when it has been installing updates. It isn’t a virus at all, although from the information I could find it is sometimes almost as difficult to deal with, as there is no way you can manually force the computer to continue the start-up process.
I thought I’d go and look at the computer again before deciding how to tackle the problem and almost collapsed with relief when I found that the repair program had worked after all. The wretched little bird and its branch had disappeared and in its place was my normal Windows background screen. I hadn’t lost anything and I’d be able to work as normal. I was saved!
But things were going to have to change. My back-up routine is now going to be carried out strictly every day (not just when I remember) so that I have a updated hard-drive copy of my work files. And the dodgy laptop is being scrapped as soon as Amazon deliver my new one. I simply cannot afford to have an unreliable back-up system and the peace of mind alone will be worth every cent.
What I’ve learned, or relearned from all that is that technology can never be relied on and the more we do rely on it the more we need to think about what we will do when it goes wrong and how we can minimise any possible damage. It’s also no good to think about changing malfunctioning or inadequate machines if you don’t actually get round to doing it. I’m not a gadget enthusiast and too often I become paralysed with indecision faced with the many options we have nowadays. I worry particularly because I’ve made a few bad buys in the past (this laptop probably being one of the worst of them) and the idea that the devil you know is better than the devil you don’t can be very persistent. But if the success of changing my mobile phone a few weeks ago is anything to go by, I probably shouldn’t fret so much. In that case, the difference from my old, slow and virtually useless model is astonishing and I finally realise why they’re called “smart” phones. Now all it needs is a smart owner.