Alfred v State of CT

clip_image002Within hours of the first few inches of heavy wet snow from Storm Alfred, power lines and branches across Connecticut started to sag. Eventually, more than 12” would fall, and in our town and across the state, those branches fell in record numbers, bringing the power lines with them. Long before the damage was assessed, the following series of messages was dispatched from our dying servers:

  • Enabled AVR Boost; low incoming voltage
  • Switched to battery backup power
  • On battery power in response to an input power problem
  • A graceful shutdown process is being used to shut down the load equipment

Of course the final three messages were generated in such quick succession that they weren’t actually delivered until power was restored at the office 3 ½ days later. In an unusual twist of fate, the office had power restored before I did at home. In fact, as I finish this on Saturday morning, we are sitting at 160 hours without power, rapidly approaching the one-full-week mark in darkness. Still, it’s my nature to try to see the bright side of every situation, and this event has had many. We are better off than many people in CT. There are a lot of things I am grateful for, including the fact that my wife bought herself a wood stove several years ago and is quite adept at keeping this house warm with it. I have thanked many people for their kind offers of help, and there are only a few that I might like to strangle. Of course, I need to try and put this in the context of SharePoint.

OK, let’s start with this blog entry. I’m writing it by the light of an LED book lamp, and when I say “writing”, I mean fine-tip marker in a Composition Book (remember those?) An interesting benefit of this process is being able to see what I originally wrote, and then crossed out, re-wrote but now realize was the correct thing to say. Of course, whether I wrote something useful is ultimately up to you to decide. This experience is making me think that versioning, particularly minor versions, probably has more benefit than what I am getting out of it.

Also, I will make another case for SharePoint Workspace. After hurricane Irene, I started using Workspace to locally sync the SharePoint content I work with all the time. This time, I was able to find what I needed while the office was without power. Even now, I can edit/create lots of that content before adding the additional power drain of my AirCard to make the VPN connection. In case you’re wondering, those otherwise insignificant load factors (AirCard, iPhone, Bluetooth etc.) reach crisis proportions when the nearest working outlet is across 3 miles away at Town Hall.

clip_image004One of the projects we are working on right now is a dashboard for our inspection reporting process. Marc Anderson @sympmarc might be comfortable enough with XSLT to start hacking his way through (actually I witnessed his prowess earlier this year), but I’m not there yet. Instead, I am taking advantage of the 4×4 grid in this Composition book to design the rest of that dashboard. Of course, I always start with a hand-drawn design anyway, but this situation is forcing me to realize what I normally ignore. Usually, I start on paper, but I quickly reach an “oh, I got it” moment, and I abandon the paper in favor of the instant gratification of seeing my design come to life. (Yes, I realize that “instant” should never be used when referring to SharePoint Designer.) Many times, the decision to start building “for real” surfaces the fact that I abandoned my paper too soon.

Of course, the best part of this pen-to-paper deal lies in the fact that my wife/proofreader is not a strong fan of technology. In fact, her favorite technology is her wood stove. I think she is enjoying watching me struggle like a schoolboy practicing penmanship. I feel like I just really dated myself, but that’s ok – this blog’s for you dear!