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A few years ago, I had the opportunity to visit some parts of the USA. We landed at a major airport around 9pm and our destination was still 90km away. Taking a taxi was no option therefore and we decided to rent a car at the airport. We also agreed to add a GPS and the Car Rental Company attendant was kind enough to enter the address of our hotel in the device and we were all set to drive towards a place, in the dark and over roads I never drove before. Indeed, a GPS was indispensable if we were to find our hotel at all. Driving out of the parking garage of the Car Rental Company, the GPS needed some time to pick up the satellite signal but meanwhile I had to drive on as it was not allowed to stop on the road. By the time the GPS had picked up the satellite signal I had already made a few wrong turns and was guided back to the airport by the GPS voice that repeatedly said: “Recalculating”. So, we started over again and now found our way to the right exit. The road was good, well illuminated at some stretches and road signs clearly indicated how far we still had to go. I had to remember to convert miles into kilometers though to get a really good idea of the distance still ahead. As we got closer to our destination we began to look forward to checking in to the hotel and find a bed as we had a long journey behind us. We couldn’t find the hotel though. The GPS made us turn left from the highway but there was no hotel. So, we went back to the main road and tried again, with the same result. To make a long story short, the Rental Car attendant had entered the street name into the GPS alright but not the house number. It turned out that the same road continued on the other side of the highway and it was there where the hotel was located. It was midnight when I walked into the reception of the hotel and I was relieved to find a receptionist on night duty. A few minutes later we could rest our heads and stretch our legs.
The next morning, we enjoyed a true American breakfast and got ready to drive to a major attraction in the State, located a two-hour drive away. Twenty minutes into our drive however the GPS stopped working. We checked the connection to the charger but nothing seemed to be the matter. It simply did not work anymore. Luckily, we found a very simple map of the State in the glove box. In fact, it was flyer of the Car Rental Company with a rough map on the back but good enough to find our way to our destination and back again in the evening. Before going back to our hotel, we dropped into the local branch of the Car Rental Company where it was quickly found out that the charger of the GPS did not function. We got it replaced and moved on. First thing in the morning I went to a bookstore and bought a comprehensive Road Map of the USA, just in case, as we were planning to drive much more during our stay. It turned out to be a real help. In fact, I used to study it every evening before taking off again next morning and I felt much more confident as I had a pretty good idea of the roadmap ahead. It has now become a habit of mine to make sure I have a hard copy roadmap with me wherever I go, just in case the electronic GPS and Google Maps fail. In fact, the most common reason why drivers call the breakdown services in The Netherlands, is because their GPS does not work anymore and they get lost. Most drivers have now gotten so used to their GPS that they overlook to plan their journey and have a look at the map before they step on the gas.
Electronic and digital devices are great and they make life a lot easier most of the time indeed. As long as they work. The same applies to internet supported systems. People can do their work anywhere they go these days and we are getting used to saving and sharing our work in the so called “cloud”. How dependent we have become and how fragile such systems are, we have experienced ourselves here just a few weeks ago, when the
Internet was shut down. As it shut down without prior notice, many of us were caught by surprise and were really handicapped in doing our work effectively. Those of us who depended on saving our work in “One Drive” did not have access to the latest versions of their files anymore, if they did not have a copy saved on their computer or another device. Even saving files on your computer alone is not enough and it should be anybody’s habit to save work on the computer as well as on at least one other device. It should also be standard procedure for any organization or company to regularly save all work on the main server and in addition on an external drive that is kept somewhere outside the office. The last measure is to make sure that all important files are kept safe, should a building catch fire for example or be broken into.
These may be obvious and simple measures to be taken but I bet that most of fail to take them consistently and thus expose ourselves and our company to the risk of losing important files. Such risk is easily prevented. Just back up.