FOLLOWING the damage caused by last week’s fire, the Folk Research Centre will eventually, undoubtedly, resume its operations. The only relevant questions are “how soon?” or “’with what assistance?” or “at what location?” In the unlikely case that no external assistance is provided to restore the FRC to its prior glory, then a seriously coordinated internal sequence of actions will have to unfold. There is an example to be borrowed from the operation of standard computer systems.
When you switch on (or reboot) your PC, it goes through a process called bootstrapping, colloquially referred to as booting up or just booting. During that process, the machine goes through an elaborate sequence of detailed checks, with each check more sophisticated than the preceding step. You might be familiar with the power-on self test or POST sequence of your own machines, and if you are observant, you might also read the diagnostic messages printed to the screen while the machine boots up.
There is a sensible, if not natural order in which a set of activities should occur, for greatest effect. If the computer’s memory is faulty, there is little reason to continue the boot-up sequence. Likewise, if the self-check identifies that the keyboard is missing or damaged, then the boot-up process may be halted for obvious reasons. Without being able to receive or process input, the machine is not going to be useful.
In your own work environment, you are likely to have observed a sequence of checks or activities taking place at the start of the day. Typically, the first arriving person would undertake such tasks, including:
1) Switching off the security lights and burglar alarm;
2) Activating the air conditioning system;
3) Powering up the computer systems;
4) Opening the door; or
5) Metaphorically putting up the “open for business” sign.
The key idea behind a boot sequence is to assess and identify what is available, and to coordinate the steps to return to a well-known functioning state. Does that sound like anyplace which you recognise? If so, where do you start?
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About the Author
Dr.Lyndell St. Ville is an ICT Consultant offering expertise in systems design and analysis.