WT Business Beat

By Nick Wakeman

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Nick Wakeman

Snow what? The news keeps happening

When I was a reporter in Virginia's Shenandoah Valley back in the mid to late 1980s, I covered a couple of big blizzards.

For one, I walked about two miles to get to work, and after we put the paper to bed that night, one of the photographers took me home in a large four-wheel drive vehicle.

Around the 1990 time frame, I was living about an hour from the office, covering a different part of the valley for the paper. When the storm hit, I worked the phones from home and filed stories remotely.

I had a Tandy laptop that showed about six lines of text at a time. It also had a 300-baud modem built in, with cups that fit over my phone's handset to transmit the data. At the time, it was a huge deal for the paper, because they weren’t sure it could be done.

When this blizzard approached Friday, the plan was simple – work from home and be safe. If you have a Web browser, you can connect to the content management system for the Web site. From there, you can edit stories, manage the flow of copy and publish them to the Web site.

The only people who absolutely have to be in the office, unfortunately, are our art and production staff because they haven’t been equipped to handle the large files and other high bandwidth needs that building a print publication require.

But for those of us who have company-issued laptops, we can connect directly to the office network via VPN. I could be in Alexandria, Va., or Miami (I wish); it doesn’t really matter.  Those who do not have laptops can still get to the content management system and webmail.

None of this is particularly cutting-edge or surprising but it is still worth taking a short trip down memory lane. Despite how paralyzing this snowstorm has been, we are still getting our work done.

Of course, we’ve had folks lose power, and with it connectivity, but with a Web-based operation, duties get shifted to others and the work continues.

With Facebook, Twitter and instant messaging, it is also possible to be snowbound but not isolated. Scrolling down the News Feed on Facebook, it’s been fun to read the jokes, complaints and other status updates related to the storm.

On the Washington Technology Facebook page, we’ve tried to inject some levity by inviting people to post photos of their home offices and other impact from the storm. I encourage you to do so.

As another possible 10 inches of accumulation looms on the radar screen, the Washington Technology news operation, along with sister publications Federal Computer Week, Government Computer News and Defense Systems, keeps chugging along, snow or sunshine.

Posted by Nick Wakeman on Feb 09, 2010 at 7:23 PM


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