Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Future-Proofing: Surviving the Apocalypse

If you are reading this today, then we have survived the 12/12/12 apocalypse that was scheduled for today.  (Did anyone have any doubts about it?)  But in our continuing series of future-proofing, let me talk about an apocalypse of a different kind…  instead of a catastrophic event affecting the world, how about an event which affects just you?

Let’s look at how traditional business owners generally operate: The owner spends the first three (3) to five (5) years doing virtually every aspect of their budding business.  Oh, they may hire some help to ease the load but the owner does everything of consequence.  They rarely take a day off, much less do anything like take a real vacation.  All this work ensues a greater possibility of survival for a fledgling business.

After five years or so, the owner is burned out by all the sleepless nights, the stress of growing a business and all the unexpected that occurs, the owner is convinced to hire someone to assist in managing the business.  This gives the owner a chance to take a much needed mental break and a vacation is taken.  Another added benefit is that the owner starts to take a day off here and there. 

When the business owner hires a manager who can run the business in the owner’s absence, this gives a level of stability to the business.  No longer can the business be disputed by an unexpected event because the owner is nowhere to be found.  The manager can handle minor situations.  This is a good thing.

We bot owners need to look at what we do as running a business.  Most of us have contingency plans on how to run our bots should a hard drive crash or a motherboard burns out.  If we use virtual machines, we have backups of their configuration so we can get a bot back up and running quickly.  Some of us even have backup computers just in case.

But what about YOU?  What if you were unable to manage your bots for an extended period of time?  What would happen?  The bots are designed to run 24/7 with minimal interaction so the bots can run fine for the short term.  But once you get past a week, little quirks start to appear.  As much as Windows was designed to be a stable operating system, in my experience, Windows likes to be restarted once a week.

What about changing the settings?  The bot is not able to select cards from a new set automatically.  (Nor should it as we all run our bots differently)  What about changing advertising messages?  (Would you do business with a bot where the classified message reads “Now selling Zendikar!”?)

So what do I do?  My wife checks on the bots status and can restart the bots when Windows has a hiccup.  She knows how to start and stop the VM’s that the bots are on.  But doing this post made me realize that she should know how to change the messages, how to have the bots select cards based the business model I use so when a new set comes out, she can do it if I am unable to.

In the business world, this kind of planning is called long term contingency or a survival plan.  My wife is part of my survival plan.  What is yours?

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