Technology terrors

It’s Tuesday afternoon, with deadlines approaching like an 800-pound gorilla with a rocket pack attached to its back, and I am writing this from my home because a computer virus is running amok at the RN&R offices.

Ya gotta love technology, eh?

We have no idea how this virus got its start, but it came in on someone’s office computer and then got into our main server. Our incredibly talented operations department is working on the problem as I type, but it looks like a number of computer files—photos, especially—have been wiped out. We’re not sure about the extent of the damage yet. Fortunately, most of the pieces of the puzzle that make up this week’s paper are already safely in the hands of our design department in Sacramento, meaning that this issue should (I am knocking on wood with one hand as I type with the other) come out just fine.

My computer is in quarantine right now, as they want to make sure it hasn’t been zapped—hence my hasty retreat to the safety of my residence, where I have a Mac that is nice and immune to most of the viruses that like nabbing Windows-based computers so often these days.

Ya gotta love technology, eh?

This whole virus debacle comes the day after our voice mail system was finally restored to normal after four days of inactivity. Last Thursday, a piece of hardware in our system went kaput; it had to be ordered and replaced. In the meantime, calls to us while we weren’t around faced one of two fates: endless ringing, or a transfer to Voice Mail Purgatory. Whichever the technology gods chose.

All of this chaos has had our operations department extremely busy with emergencies, meaning that our long-awaited Web site, which was supposed to launch this week, has been delayed at least one more issue. That is a bummer, because the site is really, really awesome and will add a whole new, amazing dimension to the possibilities of this newspaper. But more on that later.

And the most frustrating thing, on a personal level, is that I was supposed to have my mug shot re-taken today, so we could finally put to pasture the above dweeby-looking image, in which I sport a Janet-Renoesque ‘do and deranged-looking smile. But I am here writing this instead of having that shot taken, meaning that this mug has at least one week of life left.

I’ll say it one more time: Ya gotta love technology, eh?

Speaking of technology (they don’t call me the king of transitions for nothing), we’d like to welcome local journalism legend Guy Richardson, known for his years of technology coverage and other work at the Reno Gazette-Journal, to the RN&R staff box as a contributor. His first piece, “Hate Target,” appears on page 9.

The article is disturbing in the respect that it makes one think of the serious hate-related crimes that have been committed in the Truckee Meadows over the last several years. However, it’s encouraging in the respect that local officials actually seem to be taking steps to reach out to communities affected by these crimes.

The sad thing is, there’s not much that can be done to stop attacks stemming from racism, sexism or homophobia in the first place. There are—and always will be—mean, hateful people who want to hurt others simply because these “others” are different.

The real test of a community is how it comes together after something like this happens, as that togetherness can send a message that such hate won’t be tolerated. And Reno-Sparks can take pride in the fact that the community has passed this test as of late.

Let’s just hope it’s a test that does not have to be taken again any time soon.