November 7, 2013

Technology Gone Wrong

By Doyne Phillips, Managing Editor for Southern Writers Magazine 

Those millions of citizens that attempted signing up for The Affordable Care Act Health Insurance, aka Obamacare, were met with technology gone wrong. This brings to mind Robert Burns poem To a Mouse which states “the best laid schemes of mice and men go often awry and leave us nothing but grief and pain for promised joy”. It is amazing that a government contractor and $500 million, a conservative figure by some, couldn’t do what two college kids in their parent’s garage could probably do on a shoestring budget.   

The city of Memphis, Tennessee, after a year of debate by the city council, recently spent several million dollars replacing their downtown parking meters. Those old metal meters, with the coin slots and hand crank on the front, were replaced with a high tech solar powered model. The meters brought to the city high technology and solar power, techie and green. It is a beautiful piece of technology and something its citizens can be proud of. But there is one problem. When it is cloudy or if the meter happens to be in an area that remains in the shadow of a building it doesn’t work. No solar no power.   

As you drive through the downtown area on a cloudy day you will see cars and meters with notes on them explaining the meter isn’t in working order. They are concerned about a ticket but few people know the one and only meter maid the city had retired recently.  

I do not mean this to be a political rant about government spending but do want to use these examples of technology gone wrong to remind us that it can. It can go wrong due to failed programs as with Obamacare or the misplacement of technology as with the solar parking meters. As writers we depend on our technology to put our thoughts on paper so to say. We depend on technology to research, store and share our work. We feel secure in it and feel we can depend on it but we must be aware it can go wrong. 

The loss of your life’s work would be a tragedy. Take precautions to secure your work. Use a good antivirus program and online backup. I use a local computer service for the antivirus program. They can renew it annually at a much lower cost than the online price. I also use an offsite backup service which will once a week download and backup all my information. Should I ever need to retrieve my information it is available for me.   

In the world of technology gone wrong these things are not a cure all but it will help you sleep at night. Take precautions, leave technology to others and continue to write with confidence.              

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