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Vintage Solutions to the Rescue

August 1, 2011
Mary Jane Copps

First, my thanks to each of you for taking the time to read my blog. I know the value of the moments you spend here, and it means a lot to me.

Last week’s post obviously “struck a chord”. Great feedback! I’ve already adopted a new system for qualifying the referrals I make, i.e. I’ve worked with them and they were terrific – or – they have a great reputation in the industry but I’ve never worked with them – or – I’ve never worked with them but I’ve met them and they could be a good choice.

And yes, it makes sense to follow up on our referrals, make sure we are promoting companies and individuals that deliver results. Which is why I’ll be able to update you on last week’s story soon.

Now on a completely different topic: Having young Lindsay in my office this summer has been a delight, and a daily reminder that I am now the older person with old-fashioned ideas that I used to work for (not that many years ago – or at least they went by very quickly!). Things like sending faxes and mailing letters and writing cheques … things that aren’t part of Lindsay’s life and are fading from ours. But a couple of incidents this week revealed that some of the systems I learned as a young woman are still valid today – and can eliminate a bit of anxiety.

Incident # 1

Late on Thursday afternoon I received a message from my friend and business associate Dan MacFadgen of Quarterback Communications saying that he had replied to an email of mine but that his message was returned. Curious, I sent a message to myself from another account. It bounced back implying that thephonelady.ca didn’t exist. Not particularly good news at 4:15 pm when I’m hoping to start my long weekend in 45 minutes!

My first call is to my internet hosting service. The customer service agent isn’t particularly cheerful but he is fast and what he tells me gets my heart racing. He “pings” my website and says to me “It’s not there. There’s nothing there. It’s gone.” Nope, this is not what anyone wants to hear – ever. But most especially when the technology part of life is not their forte. Once I clarify there’s nothing my hosting company can do to help me I hang up the phone. I’m now alone in the office, a wee bit panicked and … I rely on some vintage solutions.

I go to my filing cabinet. One of the first tasks I gave Lindsay when she began working with me was filing away paper. I take a ribbing occasionally from the more technically proficient in my shared office space – that its time to have a paperless office, that I have too much “stuff”. And admittedly when several projects are in full swing my office can become a maze of binders and files and stacks of printed material.

But in this instance all I can say is “Thank Goodness!” There in the filing cabinet in an orange file folder was all the information on how I registered my website, when I made a payment, etc. I called my certified registrar in Ontario (the time zone worked to my advantage as it was now about 4:50 pm in Halifax). The gentleman that answered was also not overly enthusiastic but efficient. Apparently they’d been trying to reach me since January without success because the email on file hasn’t existed for quite some time. But they’re no longer using regular mail and no one thought that since I registered a website I might now have an email with similar nomenclature. That aside, he said I needed an authorization code in order to activate my website again and I had to get that from CIRA – Canadian Internet Registration Authority.

Fortunately the vintage filing system held my initial correspondence from six years ago with the Authority and I was able to call Ottawa and speak to someone very quickly. Here’s the story – back in January CIRA ceased working with my certified registrar because they were not following CIRA’s internet guidelines. CIRA took over all of the domains the company represented and have been trying to reach them (at incorrect email addresses) for seven months. Thursday at noon they “pulled the plug” on all of these domains as part of their strategy to connect with everyone. Well – they certainly got my attention!

So, thanks to my trusty filing cabinet, file folders and paper trail, my website and email were only down for about 6 hours. Of course a big THANK YOU to Dan, for taking the time to call and alert me that my email was bouncing back. A lesson here for all of us I think. I have several accounts that feed my office inbox and without Dan’s call it’s possible I still wouldn’t know my website was missing.

Incidents #2 and #3

Lindsay is having a tough time with her cellphone. For some inexplicable reason her phone is saying that this is her last chance to get her entry password correct. If it is entered incorrectly, all her information will be erased. Yikes!

Convinced there is a problem with the phone and not wanting to lose a lot of data, she hasn’t risked entering the password one last time. So for a week, she’s had no phone. And she is part of the text generation. Not having a phone means she has been almost totally out of touch with family and friends. Not good.

Enter the vintage solution – a landline! It finally occurred to me on Thursday that I hadn’t specifically said to Lindsay “use the office phone”. She did talk to her dad in Timmins, who supported her in organizing a landline for her apartment. This is a good lesson on the fragility of some of the technologies we depend upon and that it’s important to have older, dare I say more stable, systems we can access.

When I encouraged Lindsay to use the office landline to call her friends she revealed another modern day problem – she doesn’t know anyone’s phone number. They are stored on her cellphone. Right – of course!

Enter the vintage solution – the address book. For years I’ve felt a little crazy carrying my old green address book with me, but no longer. Any of us can lose a phone, damage a phone or have a phone simply stop working and where is the valuable information we need? Lindsay mentioned that she should have been backing up her phone, which is great in theory but will one phone’s backup files really translate onto a new phone? I have my doubts.

So I’ll present Lindsay with what may be her very first address book this week and I’ll cease to feel silly for the old-fashioned systems I’m still maintaining.

What about you? What vintage processes have you kept in place and have they ever saved the day?

Happy dialing everyone! TPL

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