Everything breaks


Everything breaks

Our web server has been going up and down for the past few days.  Its frustrating. No one can see the web site and our database which our staff needs to do their job is unavailable. So what to do. Call the techs and raise hell, right?

Well, in the past I would have done so. However I got to thinking about the problem.  We have had our own MAC server located at a company that provides Internet access. It has been running flawlessly, more or less, for over five years. So something in its "rusty innards" breaks and I should get out of control.  Not really.

This computer has run better than anything else I have, including my car, my air conditioning, my coffee maker, take your pick. It has just sat there are chugged along without any maintenance.. Now five years later, something breaks. So, we fix it.  The techs were nice enough to loan us a spare server and within half an hour and a swapped out hard drive, we were back on the air.  The suspicious piece of silicon is at the computer hospital.  Of course it took about four days of "up and down" pain to come to a diagnosis, but then, that’s how it works.

We have an expectation that everything must work all the time. Phone companies and (in Southern California) the water, gas, and electricity simply keeps coming. We have an expectation that nothing fails.  And if it does, it should be back working instantly.

My cable company, Comcast, was taken over by TIme Warner last month.  We had to go on and switch our email addresses, and for a few days, email was problematic. Then it worked fine. TW send out an email apologizing for the down time.  Frankly I thought the change over was nothing short of miraculous. When you consider what they had to do to make it happen I had no complaints.

We live in a society of impossible expectations. If a plane is half a hour late, we are angry. No matter that the problem was that God decided to put a thunderstorm in its path. Frankly when you think what has to be done, all the people that must work together perfectly, from engineers at Boeing to baggage handlers in Des Moines, I am often shocked that air travel works at all.

Oh, well, just a Sunday morning stream of consciousness. More later


Picture of John Van Horn

John Van Horn

One Response

  1. Don’t you think that steel-framed parking structures would be a remedy to the problem of “not enough workers to build all the garages that have been greenlighted”? Whether it is CIP/PT on the west coast or precast concrete on the east coast structural steel offers benefits that can be translated into cost and schedule savings. More importantly, structural steel is readily available at either producing mill or service center outlets. The challenge for all parking consultants, architects, owners and operators is to take a closer look at structural steel before it is dismissed out of hand. Frankly the old perceptions of steel have all been disproved. It all comes down to dollars and cents and material availability today. I challenge the parking engineering consultants to get with the 21st Century and contact the American Institute of Steel Construction’s Steel Solutions Center in the Chicago Headquarters. They can be reached at 1-866-ASK-AISC or solutions@aisc.org.
    In the same January issue of Parking Today Rick Choate is absolutely right about shortage of skilled workers in the CIP/PT industry. The only solution that I see is to look seriously at a steel-framed option next time and compare the results. In fact I would challenge Mr. Choate and anyone out west to make that comparison by contacting the local AISC regional engineer who will put you in touch with a design/build contractor for pricing.
    This same issue is apparent in areas where precast concrete is predominant. In this case the cost and lead times are problematic. I also know that more owners are getting the message and insisting on having a steel-framed structure as one of the approved systems in the planning stage of their project. Steel doesn’t prevail in all cases but we have made considerable progress.

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