Written by Jerry Stern
There was a power failure here a few months back. 14 hours with no power, and then there were lights outside my window in the dark, and there was a power company truck with cherry picker, a portable lighting truck, and cable truck, all lined up at the power pole, and working in cold rain at 3am. And then the next morning, a fire on same pole took out the other leg of the 240 volt service, just not the 120-volt service I depend on here. I thought I had my communications reasonably well-diversified; now, I still think so, but I made changes, and will consider more.
There was a time when I had no problem turning off the internet, and replying to emails a week later, if that’s when I got back to my desk after a vacation. That was 15 years ago; the world has gotten considerably faster since then. Now, if my business is offline, I can’t monitor websites–can’t really edit them offline because of all the Content-Management Systems (CMS), can’t get to email, can’t get to voicemail, can’t do much at all.
To protect myself from outages, I have backups and redundancies. My business phone is a traditional land line, sometimes called POTS as an acronym for ‘plain old telephone service’, but my personal phone line is from the local cable company, where it is half the cost, and just having it results in a discount on my internet service, so the net cost is that it reduces my bill by $8 a month to have it. OK, the business line stayed up in the outage; cordless phones failed, but there’s one corded phone on each floor of the house. The personal phone line failed, despite having built-in battery backup and being plugged into an Uninterruptible Power Supply; when the system dies at the pole, there’s nothing to do.
Internet is another matter; when power came back on, the internet and the private phone line stayed down. The cable company was able to reset the phone remotely after I called in on the land line, but Internet was still down, and they scheduled that repair for four-days out. In typical clueless-cable fashion, they neglected to find the regional outage, which was fixed some 12 hours later, but still, I had no internet, and a promised 4-day outage, on a Monday of what was going to be a very busy week.
I added a smart phone with a good data plan. That gives me options that don’t rely on any cables coming into my office, either internet or power. It’s not a fix for every problem in an outage, but it’s a start. Next: How to filter spam on a smart phone. (to be continued…)