Nary An Unpublished Thought







April 25, 2008: The Nightmare

Somewhere deep in the tech center of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), there are people for whom this screen is their worst nightmare:


runtime error


For about an hour yesterday morning, I was getting that screen when trying to get information from PC-Biz. PC-Biz is the site used for all the business and updates for the 218th General Assembly. In April, not having instant access is not a big deal. In June, it will be a huge deal.

Imagine a system crash during the Assembly. Remember: the Assembly is paperless and is depending entirely on this system. A good 2/3 of the commissioners will be attending their first assembly (that will be about 600 commissioners plus another 200 advisory delegates). The average age is well above 40 ...er, 50?...closer to 60? Many will laptops supplied by the denomination and will be using a laptop for the first time -- remember how frustrating it was to try to use a trackpad instead of a mouse for the first time?

Now, to the credit of the tech people, PC-Biz was restored quickly. However, I'm not sure what is the stress load and demand on a Thursday morning in April. On the Thursday of the GA, it would be more than a distraction. It could induce chaos. At that point, resorting back to the distribution of discs would not make things much better -- it could look like one of those pictures of the breadlines in the Soviet Union that you see on the History channel.

I have no doubt that the tech people pray. A lot.

This is just another reason why it is so important to do the preparation ahead of time. It is much easier to adapt to the unforseeable if you know what is supposed to happen.