Technology and the small business

May 24, 2011

I appreciate technology, especially when it works. When it comes together seamlessly, I don’t spend an iota of time thinking about it, which is how it’s supposed to be. When one little element cracks, though, my entire day, or week, unravels.

For example, two weeks ago, I updated Adobe Reader. After weeks of clicking the “ask me later” button, I finally clicked “OK.” It seemed to upload fine. A little while later, I tried to add an email address for Amber. That is when the stack of technology cards came toppling down. Outlook started to send the same emails four times clogging my inbox. Something went wrong, terribly wrong. My whole computer slowed down to molasses; websites would not load or timed out trying to load; I could not process wholesale orders or create shipping labels. But, this was the interesting thing: I tried to access the USPS website from a laptop, and could not print the labels either. The labels pop up as a PDF file, so I thought it was related to the Adobe update.

Emily chatted with USPS and they said to remove and then re-install Adobe Reader…no luck. I de-fragmented the desktop…no luck. I removed the new email address…no luck. It was three days of the dead-man’s float in the water. I was about to call in the experts when some angel recommended rebooting DSL. Bingo! Once again the tiny 1’s and 0’s inside my computer were happily working their magic. (Of course, I have yet to set up the new email account.)

Around the same time, our credit card machine in the cafe kicked the can. If the sales rep had not taken it to try to finagle the batch out, I would have chucked it at the can. I lost over $300 in sales, so if you happened to come in that day and pay with a credit card, it was on the house. We got a loaner until the new one came in. The loaner worked fine. Not the new one, though! It did not like our phone line. The other credit card machines liked our phone line. What is wrong with our phone line? Every third card swipe actually worked, but the other two thirds that failed were do to Line Idle. Argh. So, we McGrubbered it to work by using the office phone line until we got the loaner back.

I spent hours on the phone trying to trouble shoot these technology issues. I could have used that time to do something more valuable in the business. As of right now, things are back to running seamlessly, where I don’t waste a second of time thinking about it; just the way it should be.


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