Sunday, 21 December 2014

My Dog Ate my Homework



Our email server went down the other day. Taking with it our shared drive, our super printer and our broadband access, intermittently. We were bereft. Like most businesses today, everyone in eReco-land is dependent on electronic devices to do even the most simple things.

So, there I was, deprived of Twitter, the ability to lose myself in a little light-emailing or even my beloved sales spreadsheet that acts as my own portable CRM system. That doesn’t have a name but without it, I don’t know who anyone is, what I have said or what I am supposed to be doing next. It lives on the shared drive so when I inevitably leap under a number 46 bus someone else will know what the hell I have done with all the important things I have to do.

I am old, fifty three. I remember internal memos, computer punch cards and filing systems. Not just one or two filing cabinets but whole banks of the wretched things. Filing was an art form. There were simply tonnes and tonnes of paperwork driving business all over the place. But now we have our shared drives and our own hard drives and our lives are stored on there.

There is an advert on the TV at the moment where two girls are comparing their personal system for organising things. One has a battered old filofax with bits of paper sticking out of it and the other has a laptop, or a notebook, or a tablet – I forget which. It says it all really. In my case, that is my beloved iPhone 4. My whole life is on there.

However, much like our server, sooner or later every bit of kit is outdated or obsolete, or simply gives up the ghost. Everyone loves an upgrade...the excitement of taking it out of its box and turning it on is almost like Christmas morning. And as soon as the new toy is up and running no one gives the old one a second thought.

Our warehouse is like an Aladdin’s cave for anyone interested in IT. I often have a nose around on my way to the facilities and during the aforementioned downtime I loitered longer than usual. I had a chat with Dominic, our resident printer wizard, and learned that almost every printer is capable of storing the last few documents it printed. These do not need to be wiped, just reset, but hardly any of them are when they arrive in the cave.

We have had legal contracts spew out of these things. No one resets them. No one either knows or cares about it. It’s like the old dog being superseded by the new puppy. He can still do the odd trick but no one is watching anymore.

Changing subject only slightly, I had a battle with Yahoo. I have an email account with them and they put me through several annoying and tedious hoops to reset my password, all in the name of my security of course. I have my own password system but none of my usual alternatives were good enough, being dismissed as weak or used before. I had to add a new one to the list, which means if I ever have to remember it in the future I will probably fail to do so and be expunged from the Yahoo family.

You see we care about security but only when we feel that we will be the target of any attacks on our property, intellectual or otherwise. We forget about what we did on that old laptop. It is dead and buried, who cares. Whatever.

Well, we care. Here at eReco we are making it our business to promote the safe and responsible disposal of all data bearing devices. And so should you, dear reader. We are as a race too blasé about this stuff. We need to wise up and teach us old dogs some new tricks.