‘s no joke …

Friends from overseas may realise the UK is in the grip of its severest winter for something like thirty years. Not much by some of your standards, even so. But for us these are perhaps twice-in-a-lifetime events, so there’s little sense in investing in lots of heavyweight equipment just for it to stand idle and deteriorate before it’s ever used in anger. There’s the awful warning of the rail network, last time round, which invested in a snowblower and found it wasn’t the right equipment for our rather wet brand of snow.

Well, this is an IT column and I want to share that I’ve discovered for real, today, how easy it is for the wheels to drop off the ICT-enabled bandwagon. We had a power cut around 6 a.m. with nothing back till mid-day. Here’s a list of some things I couldn’t do.

  • Make phone calls from my desk phone (no power-off fallback capability)
  • Receive voicemails on my desk phone (requires power for the answering machine)
  • Use my main computer
  • Connect my laptop to the internet (it had a full charge, but the broadband modem and WiFi station requires power)
  • Connect my laptop to the internet (I have the modem, and the phone line was ok, but the dial-up numbers which I haven’t used for years were trapped on a file in a desktop machine I couldn’t power on. They’re on the laptop now!!)
  • See my work schedule for the day (it’s on the desktop hard disk, though my appointments were ok, see below)
  • Read email (see: Connect my laptop to the internet)
  • Work on any of my projects (all files are on the desktop machine, and Apple’s Time Machine may be brilliant but the backup drive requires power,  so having a working laptop didn’t help)

Here’s a few things I could do:

  • Make calls on my mobile phone (until the battery ran out) – my whole address book is on there so that’s ok
  • Make and receive calls on the home landline (once I’d reconnected the spare un-powered old-fashioned non-answering-machine phone)
  • Check my calendar (which is replicated onto my mobile)
  • Update my Facebook status (I set up the text-message link only yesterday!)
  • File a few papers
  • Catch up some backlog reading (but on a dull day the light wasn’t really adequate)
  • Remember it’s Twelfth Night, and take down the Christmas decorations.

Guess which of these things I actually did? Best wishes for 2010.

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