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Challenges, triumphs and the bit in between – Part Two

January 30, 2010

I started telling you about the fun-filled day I had last Monday… I’ve finally had time to get around to writing Part Two, so here goes. (You might want a cup of tea, it’s a little longer that Part One.)

It’s 12.20. Technology hates me and I want to cry…

I look at the screen for the desktop. It’s quite happy, doing nothing – except telling me to wait. Eventually I manage to track down the number of our IT callout guy. “It’s lunch time,” he tells me (“for some people,” I think!), so he’ll get to me as soon as he can. I tell him we need him “now now, not now in a while.” He assures me he’ll get here.

I go back to the laptop and start to write an email to the Very Very Nice Man from VC’s webmail account. At least I can send him the contents of the letter and the images, right?

I open a new message. It takes a little while… it’s a pop-up. I type out my message. It’s a good mix of information and apology, without being grovelling. I attach the images. I find the original information, copy, and paste into the body of the message. I figure the fewer attachments the better – slow service an’ all. I double check the address, add in the CCs, and I’m ready to hit the Send button.

Where’s the Send button?

No, really.

Where is it?

Why can I not see the Send button?

I scour every pixel on the screen… The Send button is not there. I drop the pop-up down. The Inbox looks at me. There’s no Send button. I pull the message back up, check it again… it’s really not there.

I feel spectacularly foolish as I interrupt the meeting again to pull VC out again. “Where’s the Send button?” I ask, wondering how I can possibly maintain a professional façade in this situation.

“Did you copy and paste?” he asks. “It disappears when you copy and paste from another program.”

I stop walking.

“Oh,” I say, and start walking again. “Right… Okay.” He rejoins the meeting, and I go back to the laptop.
Time for a little experiment… I’m quite proud of the message I wrote in the email, and I’m really loosing the ability to think, never mind write eloquently. I don’t want to have to rewrite it if I don’t have to, and it’s not like it’s come from a different program now… So I copy, open a new message (eventually), paste, and the

Send button disappears.

Bleeep! [this is family show folks]

I try it again – just to make sure. I can’t believe this is really happening from a real email provider.
I’m about to open another new message when something flickers in the corner of my left eye.

The desktop has come back to life. Not in Safe Mode.

I tell it to restart. And hold my breath a little.

It’s fine. Tickety boo. If it had a face it would be distinctly smug. I’m too relieved to want to smack it.

I tempt fate – if it’s broken it’s broken, right? The IT guy’s coming out… it’s 13.30 and the Very Very Nice Man has a meeting with His Excellency in 30 minutes. And at least I know the email works on this machine. Well. Most of the time. Sometimes. Ok – at least I’ll know sooner if it doesn’t. Or something. Did I mention I’m not thinking clearly at the moment?

I throw the images onto the memory stick. Behind me, I hear the Standing Committee walking out towards the YWCA. “I hope there’s enough food left,” I think to myself. I move the stick to the desktop and plug it in. And I pray.

Nothing happens. In a good way this time. There’s the faint, reassuring chime that says it’s registered new hardware… then the virus checker pops up to say it’s clean. Naturally I don’t trust it, I run another scan just to be sure. This one says it’s ok too. Well, it should do really – it put it in quarantine, didn’t it.

Then VC comes back in. “Everyone’s ready to take that photo now,” he says cheerfully.

Photo? What photo?

Oh!! That photo… I’d forgotten. Last night I had a brainwave! Well, more of a remembering than a new thought… I didn’t manage to get a photo of the newly elected Standing Committee at Synod last year, so their first meeting is a perfect opportunity. First thing this morning I’d made a point of requesting a photo session in the mid-morning break we then didn’t have.

And they’re all about to go to lunch, whereupon they will go their separate ways and won’t be back together again for another three months. So we need to take the photo.

“Where’s the camera?” someone asks.

“Which camera?” someone replies.

“The camera that was around earlier”

“My camera is on the table,” I say.

“Which camera?”

“I saw a camera earlier…”

“My camera?”

“No, not your camera, the other camera!”

“My camera is on the table,” I say again.

“Oh, I don’t know where that camera is”

“Here it is”

I am presented with my mobile phone.

I’m too stressed to laugh, and it would be unkind in any case. I have been taking photos with it. But I want to.

I retrieve my camera from the table, everyone is gathering in the car park… I turn on the camera to show someone how it works.

PHOTOS WILL BE STORED IN THE CAMERA MEMORY it informs me. Then it tells me the camera memory is full.

There’s that naughty word again. Except it isn’t because I’m standing next to a priest.

I dash back in to my laptop, ‘Safely Remove’ the memory card (why does that take so long?), and put it into my camera. Apparently I’ve scared off the priest who was going to take the photo. Maybe I did say that word after all. 😦 So now I really am the only one who can take the photo. And I have to send this email!

I take a deep breath, lift my head and put on my brightest smile. It’s like I’m stepping out on stage.

“Okay – everybody get in close! Closer… closer… I promise the Moruti* won’t bite you Mma! Closer… Perfect! Big smiles!”


“And one more…” Everybody says cheese and tries to be suitably jolly.

I review the pictures I’ve taken and remember that it’s gone midday…

“Now everyone about face!” I cry.

“What?” They all shuffle round, switching places, huddling up again.

Two more photos taken, and we have at least one that I hope will be useable and doesn’t have everyone’s face in shadow.

Actually, I feel better. The sunshine, the warmth, the smiling, the genuine friendship and camaraderie… I wave goodbye, and head on back to the office.

Ok… so I have my copy, I have my images, I have a working machine and I have a mail client I trust (mostly). We’re cooking on gas!

I write my mail, yes, I actually re-write it, I attach the images, and then I add the actual letter. I add the address, I add the CCs, I include my own (just in case), and then I hit Send. The blesséd Send button!

Then I look at the time. It’s 13:55. I really hope he has a Blackberry!

So, that was the challenge… well, most of it anyway – you don’t need to know about the rest, with the IT guy (who turned up precisely 2½ mins after I tried to call him to cancel) and the man from BTC (who confirmed our net connection isn’t all it should be). Sometimes it’s annoying to be right. It has improved slightly, so he must have done something.

The triumph? Well, it turns out that the Strategy was presented (good job I did that dry run) and it went down a storm. They’ve taken it away and will come back with comments. We’re circulating it around the different groups, refining it, but basically they like it. So now we need to polish it up, and start part two – the Action Plan! It’s pretty exciting. I’ve never done anything on this scale before – a 6-year plan for a national institution. Now we have to turn the theory into the practical. It’s going to be fun!

As for the bit in between… Did you spot it?

The photo.

The point at which I gave up and stopped trying to make everything perfect, stopped fighting everything and started to go with the flow. The point at which I accepted that people were actually trying to help me (which they were), and I stopped stressing. I just put it all aside for a few moments, and when it came back, it wasn’t so big. Sure, it helped that the tech started behaving properly. That helped a lot! But my frame of mind changed too – and that made the biggest difference.

Now all I need to do is remember to do it next time, and I’ll be fine!



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3 Comments leave one →
  1. Chris permalink
    January 30, 2010 5:04 pm

    one thing Africa can teach anyone, is you cannot rush anything, and everything will get done, eventually!

    • oneredsock permalink
      January 30, 2010 7:46 pm

      Ain’t that the truth!

      I’m trying, really trying, to get my head around it… but sometimes… sheesh!

      I think maybe I need to develop a new little mantra. A friend of mine used to say, “It’s only ink on paper.” (He probably still does – I haven’t seen him in a while.) That worked really well when I was working in print – but I need something new now…

      Suggestions anyone?


  1. Challenges, triumphs and the bit in between – Part One « Tales from the sock drawer

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