The System’s Down

By Peter L DeHaan, PhD

Peter L DeHaan, publisher of TAS TraderOn Monday I called a vendor about my invoice. “I’m sorry,” the rep said, “but we’re doing an update, and I can’t access your records.”

Given that they only operate sixty hours a week, doing an update in the middle of the day was strange timing. Evening would be a great time, and the weekend would be even better, but not in the midst of the busiest day of the week.

Then I realized the true meaning of her words: “The system’s down.”

I remember in the early 80s, switching from cordboards to a computerized TAS system. This was in the early days of computers, before many businesses had them and before many PCs existed.

On occasion we needed to tell clients the system was down. They reacted strongly to that, especially given the relative stability of cordboards and accessibility of handwritten messages. However, as more businesses installed computers and more people brought PCs into their home, the concept of a down computer became understood – and accepted.

I’ve heard the “doing an update” excuse a lot recently, but it’s been years since I heard “The system’s down.” I guess the euphemism of an “update” is less jarring than “We’re down.” An update sounds planned; a down system isn’t.

However, as much of the industry migrates to cloud-based solutions with monitored data centers, redundancy, backups, and controlled upgrades, the chance of being down or caught in the midst of an update decreases dramatically.

The new threat becomes a lost Internet connection. But I’m not sure what reason call centers will give for that problem, because if they also use VoIP, they won’t be able to tell callers anything.

Peter L DeHaan is publisher of TAS Trader and Connections Magazine. Read other articles by Peter L DeHaan or receive his newsletter about writing.

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About Peter DeHaan

Peter DeHaan is the president of Peter DeHaan Publishing, Inc., ( the publisher and editor of Connections Magazine and AnswerStat, and editor of Article Weekly. Peter DeHaan’s personal website ( contains information and links to his blogs, newsletter, and social media pages.