I've been blessed with an internal GPS. It's something I've taken for granted. It's just there. I've left wooded trails to get to climb a rocky feature and carried on from there confident of …
I've been blessed with an internal GPS. It's something I've taken for granted. It's just there. I've left wooded trails to get to climb a rocky feature and carried on from there confident of intersecting with the trail further along. At sea, even in dense fog or the darkest of nights, rarely have I lost my bearings.
I found myself testing my GPS this fall while rowing along the Conimicut shoreline. When rowing you don't see where you are going unless you turn around. My morning routine most frequently takes me north toward Cole Farm and occasionally, depending on the wind, south to the boat ramp at Conimicut. When heading to Cole Farm I usually turn at a life ring that is used as a buoy about 100 feet off shore. It's about a half mile from where I launch.
Usually without looking I end up within 10 feet of the ring before turning and heading back. Then I wondered if I could hit the ring, no wider than three feet without looking after covering a half mile of open water under variable wind and wave conditions.
It took me several days of coming within two and three feet before a direct hit.
But as I write this I've never felt more lost, which will explain why you didn't get this paper until your Friday mail or see it on newsstands until late Thursday. In fact, as I'm writing this I'm hopeful of meeting those objectives.
In the course of publishing the Beacon we've been through blizzards, hurricanes and floods - fortunately not fires although there was an attempted arson when we were located in the Victorian building that now houses the Central RI Chamber of Commerce.
I assume it was a disenchanted reader who shoved a lit flare through the mail slot. A tenant on the third floor caught wind of the smoke and sounded the alarm. We've weathered power outages and failed equipment and been bailed out by the Providence Journal when a storm knocked out our printer in Attleboro.
But what started out as a two-hour power outage Tuesday night has evoked into a nightmare. No one was in the office when the power died about 7:30 so there's no knowing if the generator started and if it did how it might have affected our computer systems. Yet I knew something was wrong when I attempted to log in that evening. I texted our IT guy, Dave Faucher , who lives a good hour's drive away and he attempted checking the system remotely. Nothing.
Once the power returned, we were still denied access.
With the FaceTime on our phones, Dave has walked me and others in the office though the process of rebooting servers, trouble shooting monitors and changing fuses for the phone system. When that fails, Dave makes the drive and usually within an hour has it all running again.
That's what I and the Beacon staff - prepared to put together the Beacon and our Johnston paper the Sun Rise believed would happen. It didn't, which produced a cascade of events from having our printers extend deadlines in hopes of getting us on the street Thursday morning to calling drivers. Finally, at 4 p.m. Wednesday we accepted the fact we would have to do the paper Thursday and most of us went home. Dave stayed on until 8 when he went home to work on the system remotely.
This was no ordinary computer crash. Everything was down. We couldn't access circulation files to label the paper, billing and payroll records were inaccessible. And most frustrating given efforts to produce papers we couldn't access files from obituaries to stories, photos and page layouts. Dave could see copies of files but retrieving them was problematic.
While newspapers look simple enough when flipping through them putting them together involves a multitude of actions. Point sizes, fonts, leading and space all impact the print while color correcting, DPI and sizing all go into getting reproducible photos. We use different systems when it comes to composing papers that interface with a program used to edit and manage files. Our staff know the system and have used it for decades, but now - assuming that Dave can get to all of it – the system would be turned on its head.
I question as I write this at 4 a.m. Thursday how we're going to pull it all together.
That gift of knowing where I am has been shaken. I could use a GPS.
Obviously, if you're reading this you know we pulled it off - there is a Beacon - the question is, when did you get it?
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