Sometimes the best-planned weeks appear to come unglued. I think that this was the case this week.
As we adopt new technology, it appears to simplify our life. We become dependent on it and it doesn’t take long before we have forgotten how we did things without the technology.
Such is the case with e-mail.
At 2:55 p.m. last Friday, our ability to talk between the two offices in Fort Frances ended. A module that converts electrical signals to light signals and passes the information between two buildings died without any indication that something was wrong.
By the time we had the problem diagnosed, the clock had reached 3:30 p.m.
You might not consider that a major problem, except that the main storage devices are located in one building for everyone to access while the Internet signal comes in at the other building.
That left the newsroom and the advertising department in the dark because reporters and sales people could not access news and advertising from the Internet. It also prevented the advertising department from downloading material from customers’ sites.
Meanwhile, our electronic department above the credit union could not access the storage devices where they keep all the artwork and information they use to build customers’ websites.
The time it happened is really crucial. The manufacturer and distributor of the switch are located in Toronto and trying to get help from Toronto on a Friday at 4:30 p.m.—and having parts shipped—is almost impossible.
Luckily for us, the help desk and parts department were more than helpful and promised that the parts would arrive here by noon Monday.
On Friday afternoon, the information for our website was placed on the portable storage device and transferred to the electronic division to upload. It was late getting up, but we managed.
Over the weekend, we developed contingency plans to get the information we required. A computer was set up in the credit union building and everyone’s e-mail account was loaded. Everyone has taken time to go next door and download what was needed immediately.
The information was saved to a portable unit that was brought to the Times building and plugged into the server.
As the day goes on, everyone again will take turns going next door and downloading his or her e-mail. It is not efficient.
Before we became dependent on e-mail, we were dependent on fax service. News articles and advertising orders were received that way. Hourly trips were made to the fax machine to see what had come in and the information was manually distributed.
Before that, we picked up our mail early every morning at the post office and then distributed it to the editor, publisher, accounts receivable, etc. It was simple. Mail arrived and was sorted once a day in Fort Frances.
Occasionally a courier also would show up, but that happened only once or twice a week.
Everyone understood the timing and allotted time for longer delivery.
Today, everything is delivered at the speed of light. You can be on the phone and someone will say, “I’ll send you the document right now,” and before you hear the end of the statement, your computer has bonged and the document is there for you to read with the person on the phone.
Companies take advantage of the new technology to send you the latest announcement immediately. In the course of a day, the newspaper will receive almost 200 of those business notices. We’ll also receive a half-dozen from each of the major political parties in Toronto and Ottawa, along with that many from lobby groups.
We make time today to sort through all that e-mail. It is not efficient, and for some reason we think that we have to respond immediately to the message.
Monday, however, the newsroom seemed to be ahead of itself. No one was bothered.
By noon, we still were waiting for the arrival of the parts. And in early afternoon, tracers were being placed to see where they were. We seem to be at a little loss.
And perhaps the best thing that can be said is that we all are getting a little extra exercise walking between the two buildings and climbing an extra flight of stairs.

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