May 1, 2008

What Singleton saw

Both L.A. Observed and an anonymous commenter say Dean Singleton is in town today - perhaps to peruse the balance sheets - and so has likely seen firsthand the massive misfire of his already buggy Unisys system, as well as the ongoing troubles with LANG's blog server*.

To be sure, the IT people are working overtime to get Unisys back on-line in time for tomorrow's editions. The backup system, meanwhile, appears to be straining under the pressure. Here's a memo from SGVN:

The backup system is far more limited than we originally believed. IT has called for a list of users who they will allow into the system. Those names, who are most critical for access, have been identified and their sign-ons will be shared with IT. For SGVN, we have been given
5 sign-ons.

Write everything in WordPad and e-mail it to your editor. Proceed as if Unisys won't at all be available today.

I was there when Unisys was first introduced - SGVN was the guinea pig - and can state with certainty that no one would mind if the system never came back. Still, something is better than nothing.

Frank Pine, senior editor at SGVN, has more on contingency plans at his papers:

To All:

As you've no doubt discerned from today's editions and from previous e-mails, we're up against major server problems that have severely limited our ability to access the Unisys system. The system crashed about 6 p.m. last night, and when we learned a couple of hours later that it was unlikely to come back online, we went to an alternate production/pagination plan. We're refining that plan for production of Friday's editions. We'll be building all pages on Macintosh Quark stations. That means that all copy should be written on desktop applications (open office, wordpad or notepad) and e-mailed to the appropriate assignment desk editors ...

We'll have a production meeting early this afternoon to book the papers and plan our evening strategy. We will proceed cautiously. That means we should all file stories and photos as early as possible, and we should make every effort to communicate efficiently and thoroughly. In this kind of a situation, it's hard to anticipate what problems might arise suddenly, so be prepared for anything. Thank you all for your patience with this and for your diligence and commitment. We'll have a story in tomorrow's paper explaining to our readers why were late today and why the newspaper's was … um … different today ...

More info on Unisys/server issues as we get it.

One silver lining is that this problem didn't hit until after most of the Santa Anita Fire coverage was completed.

*A commenter asked me what the connection is between the crash of LANG's front-end system, Unisys, and the MNGi server, which is now handling the blogs. I don't know for sure and am asking around to see if they are related or if this is all just an unlucky coincidence.


Mike Rappaport said...

So they've almost reached the point where they can't put out newspapers anymore.

That doesn't really matter to the folks running things. I was in an editors meeting more than two years ago when Steve Lambert said all he cared about was the Web.

So get those Internet servers running and don't worry about the folks who don't have computers.

Heck, it's the future.

Anonymous said...

This is definitely funny, borderline hilarious. As a former paginator in San Bernardino who was trained to use Unysis and watched it fail on several occasions, I can say that somebody, everybody saw this coming. I was only at matter of time.

Anonymous said...

more of the same from the most inept group of "leaders" ever to masquerade as newspaper executives.

Now, can't put out a print product.

The good news is the over the next year there won't be many subscribers left to worry about.

I wonder how Mr Singleton enjoyed his briefing from his "leaders".

I would wager that a lot of crap was told about innovation that is phantom and not working.