If you work for yourself and spend a substantial portion of your day online, have you consciously considered how important your computer and Internet connection are? Do you have a contingency plan if something goes wrong?
While it’s nice to keep a positive attitude, sometimes things just go wrong. Consider: This past Wednesday night, for the first time in several years, I decided to write down some “affirmations”. After spending 10-15 minutes typing into a mindmap all the great things that would happen in my life for the next two years – and envisioning it all – my computer shut down on its own. It wouldn’t turn back on until Thursday morning, only to display a message about the CPU being shut down due to some “thermal event”.
Of course, my heart beat rapidly. My entire work life, passwords, contact info, online banking access, etc., was on there. And while I had intentions of getting another computer because of the way I work, I hadn’t planned on it financially just yet. Out of worry, I did buy another computer last night (thanks to my brother and a generous loan from Ryan). The service guy did manage to fix the old one, after nearly an hour of working on it, but I’m relieved to have a backup.
At this point, I have some redundancy in my equipment and accessories. While I don’t earn much in ad revenue, I do make a reasonable income freelancing. So like any business person, I have to protect my income-earning ability by ensure I have the necessary tools, even to the point of redundancy:
(1) Computers: Usable computers:
- Two active desktops.
- One old backup desktop.
- One active laptop.
- One old IBM thinkpad that some idiot friend of mine trashed but might be salvageable.
I have four functioning desktops but one is an ancient Linux machine that’s painfully slow and which I don’t have space for. Another desktop used to be part of my old home recording studio. However, after I blew away the 17 Gb drive where all my raw files for over 100 compositions lived, I stopped using it. This happened between backup periods, and it put me off pursuing a composing career. Live and learn.
(2) Internet connection: Active connections [*] and additional options:
- [*] Cable Internet.
- [*] Wi-Fi to go.
- Cellular data plan, for my Palm Treo.
- High-speed dialup.
- Satellite Internet.
- Powerline Internet.
- Municipal Wi-Fi
Cable Internet is my primary access, and as of last night, I activated a Wi-Fi to go modem as a redundancy measure. It’ll be costly but it’s a necessary measure for me. That’s because, when I move to Toronto next year, I want no downtime in access. With this modem, I plug it in in any large city here and I can get online. I mean, we all know how long it takes the cable company to show up, and I can’t take the chance that I’ll be offline for weeks.
Wi-Fi to go modems do use a cellular network, but there’s no phone involved. I did have a cellular data plan on my Palm Treo, but it was absurdly expensive – Cdn$100/mth for a maximum 250Mb /month of bandwidth. I’ll only reinstate it when I get back into photography or get into film school, since I’ll possibly need it for location shoots. When revenue permits and needs dictate, of course. [The hardest part of freelancing, other than the ebb and flow of income, is separating “want” from “need”, in terms of technology expenditures.]
I’ve tried satellite Internet in Atlanta, Georgia, and it was unreliable during storms (about every day in the summer). As for Muni Wi-Fi, Toronto is in the first stages of partial citywide coverage. The only other option I’d explore is high-speed dialup as a backup, but only when I’m at the point of hiring someone to work for me. I know that four types of Internet connection sounds like overkill, but I that over a single superfast point of access.
(3) Software: I prefer redundancy in various software categories as well – not just in terms of specific applications but also in platform (desktop, web browser).
- Photo editing/ vector software /diagramming.
- Screen capture/ video capture.
- Video players.
- Mindmapping/ brainstorming.
- Text/ html/ blog editors.
- Chat/ IM/ VoIP.
(4) Cashflow: This is a tough one. Because I do have a few small online partnerships, and because I usually pay the writers each month before I collect from partners, I need to keep a minimum level of funds in my PayPal account at all times. Then there’s funds in my bank account for personal use and a very low-limit credit card. (I don’t like debt of any form.)
Pretty much the only redundancy I don’t have is two phones. I haven’t owned a landline in about ten years. When I worked for the consulting division of Bell Canada, I did carry around two pagers and two cell phones. I looked like a doofus, but I had my own devices as well as those for work – a necessity of the job. I’ll admit, though, that I might succumb to an Apple iPhone sometime in the future.
Are you as redunancy-obsessed as I am? What do you to ensure that your web working will not be affected by some unexpected event?