I've mentioned before that prior to founding Calahan Solutions, Inc., I worked for a large consulting firm in the Chicago area. As I look back at those days, of course, I miss the people I worked with, but in my business I miss 1400.
Do you have a 1400? I really wanted one these past few weeks.
Back then, any technical problem that I had — phone, computer, palm pilot (remember, there weren't smart phones back then…), pager, etc. — I could dial extension 1400 and all of my problems would disappear. Our IT support department just plain ROCKED!
My daily work and that of my staff, rarely got interrupted with trouble shooting. When problems came up, they were resolved efficiently so that we could get back to work.
Of course, I now work in a small boutique consulting firm. We don't have a team of 100s that can jump to our technical challenges. Truth be told, I have more technology knowledge than anyone else that works here. So, when my computer crashes (it did a week ago) I have to deal with it–somehow–and dialing 1400 is not an option.
Today I'll share my saga, what went well and what didn't and how I plan to make my own 1400 so I never have to have this type of frustration again!
It all started with a good plan…or so I thought
I'm responsible with my technology, really! I do all of the things that I recommend in my writing and podcasts.
- I back up my computer using Carbonite to the cloud.
- I have a listing of all of the software installed on my computer.
- I have my electronics plugged into surge protectors so that they don't get zapped unexpectedly.
- I keep my virus scan software current as well as my other software.
- I even do everything listed in this great article.
It seems though, that I don't always have the best luck… Looking back, I have had 3 laptops, one Palm, and one backup hard drive all crash on me since 2002.
So, knowing that technology does not always last as long as I expect (I've been told I'm a power user?), I also purchased a “Black Tie” plan from Best Buy. This plan has served me well in the past. When something does not work well, I would drop my computer off at the desk and they'd fix it in a few hours and I'd be up and running again.
The One Instance I Slipped and Disaster Struck
It was Friday morning and I was getting ready to run to a meeting. I had quickly logged into my computer to record my podcast and to grab some information before heading out the door.
As I was getting ready, I had my regular morning protein drink.
The doorbell rang, a delivery person was there with something I needed to sign for.
I set the computer down on the floor to go to the door. I never put my computer on the floor… and put the drink on the closest table and went to answer the door.
While I was at the door, my dog, Danny, who was not yet in his crate for the day, decided that he wanted to help me finish my breakfast. He jumped up on the couch and then on the end table and knocked over the protein drink.
The Wet Aftermath
Yup! Down went the protein drink all over the floor.
I quickly ran to grab a towel and dry up as much as possible as quickly as possible. At first I thought that my computer had been missed.
However, when I went to finish what I was doing, I realized that only part of my keyboard was working.
My name Stephane Calahan looked like this Ste80an*e Caaan.
I Drive to Get it Fixed…or So I Thought
I went to my morning appointment and then took my computer over to what I thought was going to be a hand off.
Off to Best Buy. I give the guy my information only to learn that my special Black Tie protection had expired 2 months earlier! But I had never received notification!
They tell me that without the plan, it will be 3 weeks to get it fixed (if it could be fixed) and about $380.
I can't afford to not have a computer for that long and I don't even know if I can get it fixed at this point.
It was 2.5 years old.
So, Now I Have a New Computer
Ultimately, I decide to purchase a new computer. The first one I pick is a Toshiba. I give them the old computer and the new computer and the backup account. Two days later, all of my data (about 400 gigs) is transferred and I have the new computer.
The drama is over, or so I thought.
I log into the new computer the next day and started my normal routine of recording my podcast.
The unthinkable happened! As I was in the middle of my recording, the computer starts to shut itself down.
I sat in amazement as I watched each window close itself. Nothing I did with the mouse could stop it.
I tried to turn it back on and only got a weird orange screen.
Back to the store I go. They tell me that it was very unusual, but the motherboard is bad. Since I had just purchased it, they'd do an exchange.
Um…. I don't want another one like that. I think I'll exchange for a Sony Vaio. (At this point I know my MAC users are laughing and wondering why I'm still on a PC. One word–software.)
So, another 2 days go by as they convert the data onto this new computer.
I'm finally up and rolling again.
Outside of the actual dollar cost of the new computer and warranty plan, there was a horrible cost in time.
While I did not have a laptop, I was able to do some work. I used my iPhone to access email and my family laptop to do some things on-line.
I was slow though. Things just took longer. Not to mention, the back and forth between Best Buy and standing in line made me want to pull my hair out at times.
Why Did I Share All of This?
#1 People generally like a good horror story when they are not in it.
#2 I hope you will learn from my mistake. Very simple split second things can happen that will slow your business down. Have a plan!
My 1400 Plan
The time lost was the biggest challenge with this whole situation. In addition to the things I have above, I'm now adding the following to my 1400 plan.
- External backup I keep in a fire safe to be able to access fast. Carbonite is great because it automatically backs stuff up for you and you don't have to worry about it, but downloading 400 gigs from the internet takes a LOT of time.
- I've set up meetings with local technicians to build a relationship. I need more than a big box store as a resource. The next time I have a problem, I want a phone number to call rather than running back and forth to stores.
- I've asked one of those technicians to look at my dowsed laptop to see if it is reparable. My goal is to have a backup pc just in case so that my business is not interrupted in the same way.
- I have a reminder set on my calendar to double check the warranty 2 years from now.
- What other things do I need to do?
- What do you do?
Think through your technology. What would you do if it went down for a day or a week? What could you do until you were back up and going again?
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