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20 November 2016 @ 09:30 pm
Retail nightmares: equipment failure right before Black Friday  
Today was supposed to be relatively easy. I would wake up early, go to church, go to work in the late afternoon to put up Christmas decorations.

It didn't quite work out that way.

First, I slept like a champion, right past the start of the Sunday service at Church of the Chimes. Oops.

When I finally woke up, it was to bad news: the computers at the bookstore weren't working, and restarting the computers (the only form of tech support my coworkers can do) had not fixed the problem. I showered, grabbed Seanie, and together we hurried off to work. Once we arrived, we established more details about the problem. IBID, the program we use for inventory management and our register system, had stopped functioning on any of its six terminals. This meant we couldn't search for books in the database, enter special orders, or ring books through the register. The most tech-savvy of our Sunday crew had been on the phone with Kate, IBID's tech support, for nearly an hour trying to diagnose the problem. Her conclusions were dire: we had to reinstall the entire system from floppy disks (remember floppy disks?) and hope we wouldn't lose our entire database.

Seanie said that couldn't be right, and took over the phone. After speaking with tech support and getting down and disassembling part of the computer, he and Kate came to a new diagnosis. My explanation of it won't be very good, but this is my basic understanding of the situation. The IBID program is installed on one computer, which I'll call Prime, and then the rest of the computers are terminals that remotely access IBID on Prime. The communication card that allows Prime to connect with the other computers has failed due to old age, and must be replaced. When Seanie uninstalled the communication card, it allowed Prime to once again access IBID, so we can get into our database, but it can't be accessed remotely, so the registers, ordering desk, etc. are still down.

The problem? Locating a replacement communication card, which haven't been manufactured in well over a decade.
The good news? We found one.
The bad news? It's $200 and on the East Coast.

But, needs must. We ordered the card and hope it arrives by Tuesday - and that when it is installed, the problem will in fact be fixed. Kate was about 85% sure the card was source of our issues, but it's entirely possible that it's not the only thing failing in that old computer.

The one silver lining is that after ordering, we noticed the company that sells old bits of tech is located in Fremont, so there's a chance we can pick the card up tomorrow. Seanie will call as soon as they open on Monday to find out.

All this took several hours. In the meantime, I had to teach staff how to use our tablet (normally reserved for off-site events) as a Square register and since this is slower than our usual process, I also acted as a backup cashier. Thankfully, on Sunday we are normally only opened for a half-day. No time to rest, though. After all that we still had to decorate the store for Christmas.

After the stress of the last few hours, I wanted to go straight home. But all of the Sunday crew was staying to help, so how could I not? Anyway, it's still fun to pull down the evergreen garlands from storage and string them up with lights and hang them all around the store. Seanie and David, two six-foot-something strapping young men, were able to hang the wall garlands in record time while I draped boughs over the bookcases. Other people set out the Christmas books and rearranged displays for Thanksgiving and Hanukkah. It all went much faster than I expected.

Since we finished so early, Seanie and I decided to reward ourselves with a treat: seeing the new Harry Potter movie. David decided to join us, even though he'd already seen the film on opening day, and the three of us were lucky enough to enjoy Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in a relatively quiet and uncrowded theater. I'll write about it more later, but I think it's easily the best movie in the franchise.
 
 
 

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