The world won’t end with a bang or a whimper

I spring out of bed hours early, show up at work three hours ahead of time, log in ready to play with some software … and the entire system is down for an undetermined period of time for no reason that anyone can figure out. I’m literally just sitting here watching people play phone games and gossip. I don’t know how many zillions in company resources are lost every year due to computer crashes, but it must be staggering.

Just a few days ago it was really windy in central Texas. A tree fell across some power lines twenty miles away. It caused a surge that skipped down the line for dozens of miles, knocking off power and crashing systems in every building along the way, or at least those that were too cheap to use proper surge protectors. Our system was knocked to smithereens, everyone one that was logged into our servers — including something on the order of tens of thousands of customers — were kicked off, every single PC inside the building went dead and with it every piec eof data on every spreadsheet that hadn’t been saved, the power flickered, and because our phones go through our comnputers, every phone call dropped in mid sentence. It took over an hour to get everything back up. Again, I don’t know the total dollar lost, but it must be enormous, and this happens here several times a year.

When the world ends, it won’t be with a bang or a whimper, it will be with a completely avoidable systemic electronic crash.


  1. The Lorax says

    “Oh and here they come. The human race. See. The end comes as it was always going to: down a video phone.” – The Doctor

  2. says

    If the “avoidable systemic electronic crash” (or the ASEC as it will now be known) happens while I’m at home practicing my hermit skills, I doubt I will notice the world has ended for quite some time. *Sigh* I’m always the last to know….

  3. timberwoof says

    Hmmm. Did the tree dying leap cause a voltage spike that broke computers, or a blackout that shut them down? If the power fails, a surge suppressor isn’t going to help.

    At some places where I’ve worked, everyone gets a UPS for the computers at their desk. Laptops already have UPSes built in. The servers and network toys all have their own UPS systems, so we could ride out a short glitch. If a power failure was widespread or promised to last longer than the UPSes, we could at least save our documents and shut down the servers gracefully.

    (One of the reasons the Mac OS completely changed the tried-and-true Save and Save As functionality in Lion was to enable automagic saving. The idea is that applications save your stuff as you work, so you lose only the last little bit … if the app has been updated.)

    Power failures happen. Protect stuff that can’t tolerate them with a UPS. And do a plugs-out test of the UPS from time to time.

  4. jamessweet says

    Yeah after the power got glitchy at work, everyone on our project got UPSes… but that was years ago, and all the batteries are dead now :D It’s good practice, though.

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