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February 25, 2011 16:53:50.935

I encountered something today that demonstrated to me just how fragile the environment we've set up is. I went down to a Walgreens to buy some cold medicine. Just before I got there, the power blinked and came back - which forced all of their registers to reboot.

That brought sales to a screeching halt. I was thinking "why don't they just accept cash and keep paper records in the interim, and settle it all up later", but on the way home I realized the issue with that: I bet the registers were locked while they rebooted. So with the power out, they really were dead in the water.

Now, for a few minutes worth of downtime, that's nothing but a hassle. What if power went out for an extended period though? I wonder whether retail outfits have any kind of contingency plan for that kind of thing, or whether the plan is basically "pray that it doesn't happen"?

posted by James Robertson


Re: Fragility

[HKN] February 28, 2011 3:54:32.047

unfortunately this does not stop at retail outfits. all of our daily life depends on the continuous availability of power: communication, transportation, nutrition, health care everything is electricity and electronics based. we've managed ourselves into a situation of extreme vulnerability by war, terrorism, natural disaster and the intrinsic error-proness of complex systems

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