Sunday, June 20, 2010

Server 1, Office 0

So, today when I came into work, our server was down. This meant Word, Excel, and ProLaw didn't work, and we couldn't save anything to the server (so even though email and the internet worked, they were mostly useless). Since our emails worked, I got to read a really condescending email that had most of the women in the office hopping mad all day long - but that has more to do with "don't-send-stupid-emails-telling-the-women-you-work-with-their-writing-sucks-if-you're-the-new-guy-in-the-office" than any real economic concepts, so I'm going to move on.

What was genuinely interesting was what a day looks like without our computer server. I came in, and was told to not even bother turning on my machine. So, I got some coffee, texted a friend, and looked for things to do. During the time-of-no-computers, I filed about 15 folders and 7 loose papers, shredded the equivalent of a small forest, sent two long emails, cleaned out the dishwasher, tested a fax, and listened to my co-workers complain about the email above - about 25 minutes' worth of real work.

The sender of the infamous email (who I've always gotten along with, for the record) told me I could go home sometime after hour two, but I waited around until I had heard from one of the two partners - both because I didn't want to be stupid and because it wasn't terrible to get paid to chat and email. After cementing the fact that the servers wouldn't be up the rest of the day, me and my two still-fuming coworkers went to lunch, taking the day off.

All of this brought to mind interesting questions about technology - I'm not going to complain and say that the world's going to end because we rely on computers too much, but honestly, it was a little weird. Our office isn't even particularly cutting-edge - we're still in the process of eliminating paper files, and will probably always have to send certain letters by "snail mail." We're pretty dependent on paper even now, and we couldn't do ANYTHING except catch up on emails when our server crashed - we couldn't check the status of certain files, prepare forms, or make any real progress. The company lost a whole day's worth of work (and paid at least three of us for half of it), and the server might not even be back up on Monday.

That being said though, computers save us hours and hours every day. I can prepare a letter in about half an hour, because I can check three websites for crucial information (information I would have had to either phone for or drive somewhere and look up), open a file by copying and pasting (instead of having to make and label actual hanging files), enter information into a master spreadsheet and a database, which allows me to bill directly (instead of having some sort of office encyclopedia of cases and having to bill in a separate ledger), calculate amounts owed on the computer (instead of having to merge ledgers by hand), change information on a form letter (instead of having to manually copy and paste on a typewriter-generated form letter), and email it to my boss for review (instead of dropping it in his "to do" box). Even if I'm doing a different kind of document, the computer gives me these kinds of alternatives.

I don't have the numbers, and I'm not going to pretend I do, but I imagine that the computer allows me to do in an hour what it would otherwise take me at least a day to do. So even if it crashes and renders our entire office totally useless, I still think that it is overall a huge benefit. In a world full of rapidly-changing technology, it is easy to fall completely on one side or the other - where either technology is worse than Hilary Clinton in an orange pantsuit (go google image THAT), or better than deals at a blowout sale. I think after my very uneventful day at the office, I'd conclude that technology is like highways - if it works, it speeds things up exponentially. If it's jammed or under construction, it's a nightmare - but still not as bad as the ramifications of sending a stupid email.

I did all this in:
White, knee-length linen swing skirt, white and cornflower-blue layered camis, white jean jacket with rolled sleeves, blue and silver beaded hoop earrings, blue bead and shell ring, and pink and blue plaid wedges.

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