Good work Times staff!
This past week the staff at the Fort Frances Times has gone through intensive training on new software. You will not see a great deal of difference in the paper, but the changes were required because the software that we were using was becoming very dated.
By dated, I am admitting that the software was four years old. But we were beginning to have issues with advertisements that were created in newer software from outside the newspaper that we could not use. Our order entry system and accounts receivable system were almost 10 years old.
In September of last year we suffered a server malfunction and even though we were able to recover and get the server rebuilt the support for the system had ended.
We made the decision then to upgrade the accounting, order taking side of the newspaper.
That sounded easy. But with that knowledge we also learned that we would have to upgrade our news writing software and the various automated tasks that are involved in publishing the paper.
Both halves of the updating were coordinated. Earlier in January, new computers had arrived for all the reporters and editors and the new software was installed on them awaiting the arrival of the trainers.
New counter computers arrived and some computers were upgraded with more active memory. We thought we had all the bases covered.
Our original plan was to create the Thursday Bulletin with the old system, and then go live with the new system on the afternoon and redo the paper.
The plan fell apart Wednesday afternoon when we discovered that the old computers and software could not talk with the updated data base where our photographs and stories and contained. We were going live first thing Thursday morning without any prior testing.
As with all good things, there are always bugs between the theory and the practice. The new computers that arrived could not find the printers on the network which required some scrambling by our IT department. The problem was solved and a little addendum was added to the training manuals.
After publishing on Thursday, we discovered that we had missed a couple of ads. We don’t know why, but the trainers went back in and found them. We apologize for this error.
They did appear properly on Friday.
We also encountered some unexpected problems which has caused some minor delays in the distribution of the paper on Thursday afternoon.
You will not see any major changes in the paper. As our population has become older, many seniors have expressed concern that our type was too small. We have made the type size slightly bigger and that makes it easier to read.
There are many new features available on the system that we will roll out in the next several months. Those features will make it easier to do business from your homes or desks with the newspaper.
Should you happen to come to the counter to pay a bill or place an advertisement, the front off ice staff may appear to be a little slower. They are just continuing to learn and adapt to the changes in the software.
Our staff has been working overtime to learn and use the new tools and will continue to learn and make more use of these upgrades. It has been stressful and I really have to say thank you to them for the extra hours they have put in to master the new systems.