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    Getting Out

    (June 24, 2002) - We took the family to a remote tropical island last week. The cell phones were sketchy, the AOL connection was a single phone number, email didn't flow all that well. The sun was hot and the locals calm. 

    Among the adventures in the jungle, we included the annual family waterfall jump.

    Down an old dirt trail, through a sugar cane field, over a mud bog, and across the volcanic rocks is the home of our yearly ritual. At the edge of the waterfall, the river flows by at a hearty clip, threatening to make the decision for anyone, who doesn't jump. The water explodes in a 35-foot cascade into a crater that is at least 60-feet deep and 100 yards in diameter. 

    From the top of the falls, one feels like royalty surveying the jungle canopy and the massive banyon trees. The edge tempts, terrifies, and taunts. "Jump," it encourages.

    In a period of about 90 seconds, the 19-year old, the 17-year old and, without a hint of hesitation (and for her first time), the 12-year old, pushed off from the cliff into the air. The water at the bottom of the 35-foot drop is deep and parental angst is acute, while waiting for the little heads to emerge from the depths. Up they came, each in turn, with a shake of the head to clear the wet hair from their eyes as they began their long swim to the edge of the crater.

    Getting out was another thing. 

    The only path of departure from the crater is up a 35-foot rope ladder, slimy, moldy, and slippery from the tropical rain forest. The ladder is really a tool for pulling yourself up the rope with your arms. The rungs are too slippery for anything but a bit of rest. The top rung is wrapped around a small bolder that protrudes about 2 feet out over the rest of the ladder. So, getting out involves a terrifying leap from the ladder while hovering in mid-air. Faith and courage are essential elements of the maneuver. 

    The parents followed suit once their charges were safely up the other side.

    As we prepared for the second round, we talked to the 12-year old. "Going into it, I thought the hardest part would be the jumping off," she said. "Really, it was much scarier to get out." Then, she jumped again, empowered by her newfound courage.

    We sat there, in the middle of the jungle, musing about the various automated systems in the other jungle we visit every day. Like our waterfall, the initial objections are about the fear of the jump, but the hardest and scariest part is usually about getting out. Proprietary data formats, ASP issues about ownership, and overpriced translation services make the prospect of terminating a relationship frightening.

    We concluded that any good round of due diligence ought to include a thorough interview with a customer, who used the service under consideration. Ask them what it was like to get out.

     -John Sumser

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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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         © 2013 interbiznet.
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         Materials written
         by John Sumser
         © TwoColorHat.
         All Rights Reserved.