Back to basics

weekly roundup I must have made twice as many phone calls in the last two days than I did in the last month alone, not to mention the several number of visits to the fax machine as well. No doubt, many business users across the region must have had similar experiences this week.

weekly roundup I must have made twice as many phone calls in the last two days than I did in the last month alone, not to mention the several number of visits to the fax machine as well. No doubt, many business users across the region must have had similar experiences this week.

The widespread disruptions to Internet communications began late Tuesday evening after a major earthquake off Taiwan's southern coastline severely damaged seven major submarine cables linking Asia to the United States and Europe. Millions of Internet users across the region, including China, Japan, Malaysia and Korea, were kicked offline as the major carriers scrambled to reroute their traffic to alternative cables. While Net access was gradually restored yesterday, connections remained slow as the remaining functional cables struggled to cope with the additional load.

But, the news must go on and it's back to basics--lots of phone conversations and faxing of media queries to the relevant parties. Ironically, Singapore Airlines just last week announced that its phone and fax check-in services will be terminated from Jan. 1 next year, and recommended passengers use the airline's Internet check-in service.

With my mobile phone glued to my left ear, I realized what I didn't miss from the pre-Web era--having to deal with terse replies and testy PR and corp comm executives. Press relations officers, often placed at the frontline of any crisis control, would understandably have been stressed out this week from having to deal with no e-mail and Net access, not to mention being pounded by the flurry of media queries on how their companies are resolving the network downtime.

But while I empathize with the trying situation that they're in and the strain they're under, it can be terribly off-putting and frankly, quite disconcerting when those who are unable to handle the pressure turn their frustration on the other party.

Cold as they may seem, and at times abrupt, e-mail messages effectively hide any mood swings and the ill-effects of a bad day the other party may be going through. Once again, three cheers for the Internet!

How was your company affected by the Taiwan quake?

In other news this week, find out why Dell Computer has become a bit of a nag and how an anti-spam service ended up in the junk bin. Microsoft tries to resolve a stirring dispute over the security of its Vista platform, while Apple Computer's own security problems come under the spotlight.

ZDNet Asia's site and newsletter services were also affected over the last two days by the network disruptions but are now gradually returning back to normalcy. We apologize for any inconvenience caused. The team would also like to wish all a merry new 2007!