Monday, November 11, 2013

All Eggs in One Basket

 The recent outage causing thousands of Cincinnati Bell Fioptics subscribers to be unable to watch the Bengals trounce the New York Jets calls to mind an old saying: “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.”  The problem is that with the integration of all things digital, that good advice may be difficult, if not impossible, to follow.

Not too long ago you made telephone calls on a wired phone, watched TV using rabbit ears, paid your bills with a check, envelope and stamp and watched your favorite movie at the local movie theater.  When planning a family trip to Aunt Gertrude’s house you sent her a letter using the post office and you plotted your route using a free map picked up from the Esso station down the road.

Today literally all the tasks listed above are routinely accomplished with a smart phone and the internet.  Great when it all works as it does most of the time, but a real pain in the (fill in your favorite word here) when it does not.  Our eggs are indeed now firmly packed into a single basket.  While the integration provides great convenience, when the technology fails bad things can happen and sometimes it can be more serious than just missing out on a touchdown.

For example, many have cut the cord with Ma Bell and use a voice over internet (VOIP) service from Time Warner or another internet provider.  A power outage can render the phone useless.  Since Cincinnati Bell provides power to their network, even powering standard phones in your house, very seldom will you lose the use of your wired phone, even if your whole neighborhood is without power from Duke.

A few months ago there was a story on the news about a motorist who placed a bit too much confidence in her malfunctioning GPS, only to get lost in the Mohave Desert.  This does not happen often but a healthy skepticism of technology can be good idea.  Digital or not, you are using machines, very sophisticated machines but still machines.

Just as you most likely have a flashlight on hand for those times when the lights fail, you should have some alternate ways of handling those tasks that you take for granted and are handled solely by the internet.  So the cloud is fine for storing your files but make sure you have copies of those important files in a safe place. 

In the case of the customers relying in Cincinnati Bell Fioptics, a $10 rabbit ears antenna would have solved the problem.

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