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The Rupp Report: A Nightmare Or A Break?

By Jürg Rupp, Executive Editor

Do you remember, dear reader, the era of letters and phone calls? It was a time when the recipient had the time to think about an answer. Nowadays with email and other possibilities to exchange information, one doesn't have time to answer. If you don't answer within 24 hours, you will be hassled to answer. Nobody has time to think about the correct reply and the consequences of the decisions.

And what happens when one is under pressure? Probably the decision is made blindly, and maybe wrongly, due to the lack of time and because the original sender is waiting for the answer. After all is done, you may have a nightmare and a lot of stress. And you feel totally cut off from the daily business because you did not prepare for worst-case scenarios to react in a quiet and thoughtful way. Okay, you may say that it depends on the importance of the situation, but a worst-case scenario happened to me the other week, which explains why many people are waiting for answers.

Cut Off From The World
On July 19, this author was on a weeklong trip. As usual, everything was prepared, including the notebook, which secures connection to the world. As does everybody, you connect your PC in the hotel. Knowing the oddest stories about spying occurring on the Web, you only connect your PC by cable because this can eliminate virtually all attacks on your own data.

Unfortunately, none of the hotels had a cable connection, only wireless access. That was a shock and the thought came: Oh, what to do about all the missed information? Back in the office after a full week away, the notebook was connected without any success. The next day was full of investigation into how to get access to the Internet. Still no success, so I rang up the hotline — the provider is the national Swiss Post. After an endless wait, and explanations at least five times, a sweet voice said: "Mr. Rupp, we have sent you a new modem, and your connection was switched to this new modem last week. So with your old system, you have no access anymore!" The provider made this change without giving any notice.

The problem was only solved with a lot of help from a friend, and after spending money for a new notebook, software and so forth. In the meantime, on Sunday afternoon, the connection to the so-called world was restored. A lot of stress, nerves and money were dedicated, and the provider promised to send all outstanding e-mails again.

And what are the consequences of all this? Nowadays, in the current IT world, you want to be, and you must be, the first at any time. Of course, without all the necessary electronic tools and gimmicks of today, you would not even have read this and other Rupp Reports. As another example, without concentrated attacks, it would also not be possible to bring trouble to the whole (virtual) financial system and the world.

A Problem Or An Opportunity?
In times of trouble, you can't find the time to think about the situation, as mentioned above. However, being totally disconnected for the first time ever since the start of the electronic age provided a moment to reflect on the situation and to think about how to avoid the same nightmare again. And, in my earliest work in textiles, the 76-year-old director in the silk mill always said every problem is a chance to make it better and improve, and eventually emerge stronger than before.

It Is An Opportunity
Young people probably cannot understand how older people grew up with letters, telex and fax machines, and not with cell phones and websites. That's why these younger people will tell ask, "Why didn't you use your cell phone to get your emails?" Maybe because I'm old fashioned and don't want to be a slave to modern communication.

However, big companies have enough resources to be prepared for a blackout. Nevertheless, everyone with his own notebook is a small company, on the road. But it is not only the lack of information through the Internet that makes people shudder. When problems occur, there's also a general lack of information within the companies.

So this problem provided a chance to make it better next time. And this Rupp Report is also a chance to apologize for keeping many people waiting. The provider said some 300 emails are waiting to be read. It's time to connect again.

August 2, 2011