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Computer glitches, board meetings and unexpected guests

Recently, I fell victim to computer technology. If this had happened in January I could have blamed it on Y2K, but it occurred while checking into a hotel late last year.Perhaps it was caused by an im...

January 1, 2000  

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Recently, I fell victim to computer technology. If this had happened in January I could have blamed it on Y2K, but it occurred while checking into a hotel late last year.

Perhaps it was caused by an improper cabling installation, perhaps it was a computer glitch — or perhaps it was just good old human error. In any event, the incident I speak of occurred when I was in Tampa, Florida for the BICSI Board of Directors meeting.

I had just arrived after a five-and-a-half hour flight from Toronto. Those who have taken Toronto-Tampa flight know that it only takes about two-and-a-half hours — but that’s another story. Upon checking into the hotel (which shall remain nameless), the woman at the desk confirmed that my pre-reserved room was ready and handed me one of those electronic card keys. More often than not, this type of key does not work on the first try, forcing you to drag your luggage back down to the front desk to get it “reprogrammed”.

Unfortunately, this room card key did work. For when I opened the door and walked into my room I was greeted by a somewhat startled man who had just emerged from the shower. After making apologies on behalf of the hotel’s computer system, I headed back to the front desk, luggage in tow.

“Excuse me miss,” I said to the nice woman that provided me with the key, “I believe there has been a mistake. There is a naked man in room 115 who is probably not too happy with you guys right now.”

“Let me check the computer sir,” she politely replied. “The computer says that the room is empty,” she said with absolute certainty.

“Look miss,” I said, “this is one of those few times when I can say, without any doubt whatsoever, that the computer is wrong and I am right!”

After making a faint-hearted attempt at apologizing, she gave me a new room — one without a unclothed man as part of the dcor. Yet afterwards, I had to reflect on just how reliant we have become on computers, and the infrastructures that support them. And how susceptible we have become when things do not work quite right.

Meeting Highlights

That was the beginning of my December visit to the BICSI Board of Directors meeting. Fortunately things got better. Here are some other highlights that you might find interesting:

The Board of Directors approved the operating budget for 2000. This is a little more complex than most people think. Running BICSI is like running any medium-sized organization. The bottom line is that the budget must be balanced and the money must be spent wisely. Thank you to Executive Director Jay Warmke and his staff for providing all the detailed information required to make this a relatively painless task.

The Board also approved the expansion of BICSI’s global headquarters building in Tampa. Believe it or not, the organization is expanding at such a rapid rate that the building will need to be expanded in 2000. Fortunately, BICSI was looking ahead when the building was constructed, and the future expansion was part of the original plan.

The expansion will be slightly larger than the original structure, and, due to excellent money management, we will once again be paying cash for the expansion. (If only the government could operate like that!) It will include additional office space, as well two new classrooms to accommodate the training demands for BICSI courses.

Present at this Board meeting were the newly elected members that will become part of the BICSI Board of Directors in January. Carole El Zein, Director of Marketing with Anixter in France will represent Europe as the Director for Region 6. Also present was Edward Donelan, President of Telecom Infrastructure Corporation who will represent Region 1 on the Board.

See You in Orlando

The next Board meeting will be held at BICSI’s winter conference in Orlando, Florida, which should be right around the corner by the time you read this. If you have any issues that you would like me to raise at the meeting, please send me an email at

The Orlando conference promises to be the biggest and best conference ever. I look forward to seeing all of you there. Just make sure to open your hotel door slowly — you never know what surprise the computer system has left for you inside!CS

Greg Porter, RCDD, is Region 5 Director of BICSI and Business Development Manager for Ontario-West at AMP of Canada Ltd., Markham, ON.

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