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    Man Smart - Computer Smarter

    (April 18, 2002) - One more time we enslaved ourselves to our true master. Vowing allegiance and fealty did not seem adequate. The master demanded time, attention, the taste of our fear and the sound of our curses. The master, when in an irritated mood can only be pleased by visible suffering. Sometimes, our merciless master demands the undivided attention of every able bodied human being in the organization. The master delights in our discomfort.

    We've heard that the computer age is soon to dawn on our countryside. Today, however, the primitive monster demanded the usual tax. Unhappy customers leading to late night troubleshooting. Once again, we were forced to familiarize ourselves with the meanings of the intricate settings of Microsoft's Office, Windows, Outlook and Word.

    Time to blame the computer. If we get good enough at blaming the machine, we'll probably go to work for a bank or credit card company.

    Certain that it was a new fangled virus, we described the symptoms to the usual sources. "Must be a new one." They all said. "Let us know when you figure out what it is."

    The machine's manufacturer (Sony), better at whining about its losses in the entertainment business while it blames its customers for the problem, hung up after we waited three hours on the support line. The second call resulted in an answer something like "Yeah that happens. Our wait for support is about three hours. The phone system generally terminates calls that are on hold for that long. Just call back."

    We'd promised the new white paper a week ago when the machine first started turning single email attachments into 8 or 20 separate messages. Hoping that time would fix it, we procrastinated. Our favorite solution to computer problems is, like most people, wait and hope that it goes away. It didn't. As a result, we buried one of our favorite people in hundreds of unreadable emails.

    So, we called in the team. Everyone took a turn at the controls, betting that his or her theory would result in a cure. It was a tragedy to see those great minds wasted on such silliness.

    Late in the evening, amidst a troubleshooting team of five, too many coffee cups and a desk that looked like the Florida Coast after a hurricane, we found the problem. A teensy weensy little box in an obscure place that shouldn't have been was checked. As usual, the machine was doing only what it was told to do.

    We know that anyone who reads this note will have hands on experience with the frustrations we're describing...it happens to everyone. So, the next time you are in a design review (or paying some schlub for a usability evaluation), please remember that it is our systems that cause our customers these problems. Most really smart people wish they could throw their desktops out the office window a couple of times a day. The world would be a better place if we worked to make the complexity disappear.

    - John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.


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    Copyright © 2013 interbiznet. All rights reserved.
    Materials written by John Sumser © TwoColorHat. All Rights Reserved.
    Mill Valley, CA 94941

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         Materials written
         by John Sumser
         © TwoColorHat.
         All Rights Reserved.