Everything's shiny, Cap'n. Not to fret.


The crew of the Serenity. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Fox.

Ah Firefly, how we miss you...

I thought of that quote last week when our Paradigm system completely crapped out. We had been noticing some minor issues, things not quite acting right, so we did some investigation. It seems the IP address changed somehow, so we re-booted. When it came up again, it failed to load the Arch Config File and we were out of business. About a half-dozen phone calls later, it was determined that the Paradigm controller was hosed and needed to go back to ETC for service. Only one problem; it was 5 PM on Friday afternoon. West Coast time. Super. 

Thankfully, the Net3 system was still working fine, and we have control of the lights from the Hog. We can still pull off the weekend, it’s just a little less convenient without Paradigm. ETC will be shipping us a replacement brain this week and we should be back up and running in no time. At least in theory. And I’ll be working on my days off making sure that actually happens. Living the dream as a TD...

But I digress. The reason for this post is to ask the question, “What do you do when you have a catastrophic system failure?” It’s a bit of a rhetorical question as it all depends on what system has failed. But I want to ask the question because most of the time, we expect our systems to just work. And most of the time they do. But when they don’t we should have a plan. In fact, we should have a plan before they don’t work. 

One plan would be to have backup equipment in place. For example, we always have an extra wireless handheld on hand for every service, just in case we lose the pastor’s mic. Plans like that are easy. But how about a main system processor, or a Paradigm brain? Chances are, it’s not practical (or budget-friendly) to have backups of those on hand). And how would you decide what to have on hand anyway? 

But it’s a good exercise to think about what you would do in the event of a major system failure. Let’s say your mixing desk doesn’t power up next weekend. What do you do? It’s Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning, so you can’t get a rental in. There will still be a few hundred (or thousand) people showing up for church in a few hours, what’s your plan? Or let’s say your main projector won’t light up. Do you have another one you can throw up there to get through a service in a pinch? 

Now, I’m not going to even attempt to detail contingency plans here; there are far too many possibilities to even consider. But I will say that the most important thing in an emergency like that is to not panic. Chances are, everyone around you will go into meltdown mode, and it’s important that you remain calm and solutions-focused. Of course, having spent some time actually considering options ahead of time will make it easier for you to develop with a solution quickly and calmly. 

Really, this post is just an attempt to get you thinking. I don’t have a whole more to say at this point, and I really have to get back to solving my lighting issue. Do you have a catastrophic system failure story you’d like to share? Leave a comment...

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