IT work for no fun and no profit

Hey non-heartless geeks, how do you avoid be­com­ing some ran­dom person’s com­put­er guy1?

I was just blind­sided by my friend’s aunt and be­fore I knew it, I was show­ing her how to use her laptop’s right-click but­ton to delete un­want­ed desk­top short­cuts in Windows XP. Then, she want­ed to know how to delete a book­mark from her Internet Explorer bar.

She scared me on the last one, though; through her bro­ken English, she seemed to be de­scrib­ing an un­want­ed brows­er tool­bar, and warn­ing sirens went off in my head as I start­ed think­ing I was go­ing to be asked to re­move one of those. Then, as she cursed Internet Explorer while it took near­ly a full minute to load, I had to fight the urge to make a quick ex­it through the win­dow — closed and locked, of course — be­fore I could be asked about re­mov­ing spy­ware or de­frag­ment­ing. I al­most sug­gest­ed she just buy a whole new com­put­er, be­fore re­al­iz­ing that I could just as eas­i­ly be con­script­ed in­to help­ing with that.

Ugh. It turned out to be sim­ple stuff in the end… but this is how it al­ways starts.

Before I know it, I’m go­ing to be fix­ing her router, be­fore trou­bleshoot­ing her DSL prob­lems, be­fore be­ing roped in­to ad­vis­ing her on which of the pro­grams that she in­stalled on her com­put­er she no longer needs and can be re­moved to free up space on her hard dri­ve.2

Proof that there is no god: I look the part.
This is bug #2. Let’s fix this.

  1. Did that term sound sex­ist? I meant on­ly to re­fer to Nick Burns, my tech sup­port hero.
  2. This is ac­tu­al­ly a true sto­ry.

“Real artists ship”

I’m by no means an Apple fan, and don’t own any Apple prod­ucts (though I’ve al­ways want­ed to play with a Newton!), but to a geek, it’s pret­ty hard to ig­nore the ef­fects that Apple has had on the world around us.

This prob­a­bly wouldn’t make it to the av­er­age list of Apple’s con­tri­bu­tions, but my per­son­al fa­vorite is a Steve Jobs saying:

Real artists ship.”

I take this to mean that you can keep pol­ish­ing the prod­uct un­til it’s per­fect, but it doesn’t mat­ter how great it is un­less it makes it out the door while it’s still rel­e­vant. (No, it didn’t take a lot of read­ing deeply in­to the phrase for me to come up with that, Mr. Hypothetical Snarky Commenter. An al­ter­nate mean­ing could be an ex­pla­na­tion for push­ing a prod­uct out the door when it con­tains bugs that may give oth­ers pause.)

I some­times find my­self spend­ing more time than I should on some­thing, in pur­suit of get­ting it unim­peach­ably per­fect. It’s a flaw of mine. I need to do some­thing about that, but I’m not sure what… and giv­ing up on qual­i­ty isn’t an op­tion. Consider this bug #1 in my pub­lic bug track­er, pow­ered by WordPress. ;-)

Now, if you’ll ex­cuse me, I’m go­ing to ship this post so I can go ship that e-mail I’ve been craft­ing so I can fi­nal­ly ship my­self some Zs.