Part 38. Poison Ivy
When someone has an allergic reaction to poison ivy, the resultant skin rash can
be very aggravating and frustrating. The itch can be so nerve-wracking that scratching
the skin happens subconsciously, while the victim is concentrating on doing something
else. Therefore, the act of scratching spreads the rash to an ever-larger portion
of skin. The infection can even adhere to clothing and spread to other people.
There are other things in life that are made worse by "rash" attempts
to find a quick relief from pain. Among them is the quick-fix mentality that is
commonplace in today's business world, especially when it comes to computer problems.
When Microsoft products are involved, the urge to scratch is often unbearable, and
especially when Microsoft itself offers a steady supply of scratching aids -- bug
fixes, so-called "upgrades," new product versions, companion products,
and demonstration versions of extra products.
Often the affliction starts with something small, like a patch of users performing
a specific task. However, their file formats are not readable by other computer
programs, so the company buys more Windows machines to connect these people to their
co-workers. Scratch, scratch. Then a new version of a software package arrives,
and it gets passed around the office. Sometimes this means that a vital program
that used to work suddenly doesn't work any more. Quickly, a large batch of "upgrades"
is performed at once, to get everyone on the same version level. Scratch, scratch
Of course, the news leaks out that so-and-so's group got all new software packages,
so another workgroup demands the same thing. Scratch, scratch. Suddenly some of
their programs don't work right, so they have to be replaced by Microsoft applications.
Scratch, scratch, scratch scratch scratch. Now the wound is bleeding a little. The
people in the first group have to change their applications also, so that compatibility
is maintained. Scratch-scratch-scratch. A supplier the company regularly does business
with has converted to a particular Windows application that requires a special file
format, so some of the machines have to be "upgraded" to support this
change. Scratch scratch scratch scratch scratch. And so it goes.
Unlike most poison ivy sufferers, however, the business world seems intent on scratching
their skin raw. They do not apply soothing solutions with medicating qualities --
like IBM, Novell, or Unix products -- but stubbornly continue to claw at their bleeding
wounds. Like some kind of mindless beasts, unable to endure the momentary itch and
unwilling to accept medical treatment, the business managers scratch their companies
raw by requiring employees to put in unpaid overtime to attempt to fix problems,
as well as hiring helpers to patch things up momentarily, and spending ever-increasing
amounts of money on Microsoft technical support and version changes.
The surviving companies will find out too late that like poison ivy, uncured Windows
problems also leave scars on their victims.
Most recent revision: February 27, 1998
Copyright © 1998, Tom Nadeau
All Rights Reserved.