I had a nightmare that went like this. I was giving an acceptance
speech after accepting an award for a dubious IT Honor. IT had finally
overtaken the long-reigning champs for the first time. Lawyers and
politicians were no longer top the DOGs. Here’s some background and then the nightmare. Enjoy!
I was a teenage vampire, and young mainframe geek 20 years ago when the PC revolution that had started in California finally picked up steam and made it to Texas. I didn’t wear boots to work but I could have – after all, I did own several pair. Out of the blue my firm asked me, “Can you handle it?” Handle what? “We ordered ten IBM PCs at $5,000 per and they need to be set up and configured.” Hell, I said, I have six years operating, programming, and troubleshooting mainframe bugs – bring them on.
I was a young 26 or 27 and
cocky, but I could walk the walk so I talked the talk. I already was kicking
CP/M around and had a Commodore 64, but not at work. Mainframe bigots all, and
most of them wore IBM blue around their heads like halos and thought they
could not go wrong by using Blue. Yet, some newcomer CFO really liked the DEC
Corporation and since I was going to a college that had been donated a brand
new, off the factory floor DEC 20/60 series mainframe the year before and I
had became the O/S expert on it, they hired me ten minutes into my first
I could make my DEC 20/60, state of the art, time slicing, kickass mainframe sit
up and bark like a dog and do it twice as fast as anyone else. Nothing like
doing a little fine tuning to pass the time is what I always said. I was
working the graveyard and going to school by day. It was the vampire shift but
it paid the bills. Little did I know that I was about to become “Nick Burns
the Company Computer Guy.” You know, the character created on Saturday Night
Live? So here came the Personal Computer into my simple life, and all hell
I knew DEC equipment better than Ken Olsen. I could make an IBM 360 flash
like a neon sign. You see those computer games now? Well, back then was alpha
time for computer games. I closed down the Steak and Ale for years playing
Asteroids and getting free drinks. This was the era of of Astroids and PacMan,
Centipede, and Space Invaders. Atari was king and millionaires were created a
quarter at a time. I was champion at Adventure and another called Empire
during my College years. I played them on the mainframe and it was nothing but
Xs, Os, text, and the green screen. I built a state of the art 2400 baud dial
up wide area network upgraded from 300 around 1980 and life was fast and
clean. I heard about the Apple II but moved to Dallas somewhere around 1984
and started a new family and ever got one, but this was just the beginning of
the PC revolution.
I caught the wave and rode it hard. I supported DEC Rainbows, Apples,
IBM PCs, XTs, and Macs. I was a guru on CP/M, DOS, OS/2, OS/2 LAN Server,
3Com LAN Manager, Novell, LANtastic, and, don’t forget, Windows 3.11. I was in
my own self-styled heaven. Why? Because I was good at making this stuff work.
I had six years of maintaining communications networks and supporting
mainframes before Local Area Networks first arrived, so it came to me easily.
There was Arcnet, Ethernet, Token Ring, stupid hubs, smart hubs, and even hubs
with both. Don’t ask me why, folks, I didn’t buy any. I learned how to perform
amazing acts of bravery and brilliant acts of stupidity along the way. I
learned many of life’s important lessons late at night under the vampire neon
How do you learn everything you need to know about network packets in a week?
Join a Token Ring and Ethernet network together, that’s how.
How do you quickly teach yourself memory management?
Force feed yourself DOS, hardware drivers, expanded memory, add memory and
video page frames, add assorted 1st generation software, and cram it all in
640k with 384k on top that’s how.
How do you price a network topology technology out of existence?
Ask IBM – they know.
How do you convince thousands of financial analysts to convert from Lotus to
You don’t. You have to cram it down their throats!
How do you use 50 Novell Certified Engineers to convert all of their servers
to Windows NT and brag about it?
Tell them they don’t have the necessary skills or expertise! It worked, I
Eventually, I left the comfortable corporate world of back stabbing, career
paths, ladder climbing suits, and egotistical geeks who had the social skills
of a peanut. I moved to the dark underbelly of business. That’s right, the
boot licking, cold calling, hard pressing, stick your foot in the door, close
the deal at all costs, back scratching, and everything is YES world of consulting.
Since I became a whore – excuse me, I mean a professional network consultant –
CEO, President, and Owner, I have seen the light. Old geeks never die, they just
move into consulting. And the truth that will set you free is that Information
Technology is #1.
We are #1 in customer dissatisfaction.
We are #1 in percentage of failed projects.
We are #1 in client turnover.
We are #1 in the CIO’s Bull’s-eye for outsourcing.
Which leads me to the nightmare that I fear is truth and it’s getting worse
day by day. When Windows first arrived, the spin was that it was going to make
the non-technical user a 200% productivity-increased worker
that spun gold for the company. It seemed to work for a few years, then, BAM!
Boot Sector Virus, BAM, Hard Drive Formatting. They had arrived. The low life
scum sucking MALWARE. My nightmare has been getting worse year by year. Take
a gander at my nightmare and tell me, am I still asleep?
I would like to offer thanks to all who contributed to this great achievement.
I thank programmers the world over for your continued excellence in the field
of overpromising and underdelivering and for your successful proof of the
theory of a 80-20 rule.
I thank the first Virus writers for creating an entirely new industry worth
billions. I appreciate their dedicated persistence in staying far, far, ahead
of any possible cure and, for all I know, of writing and selling the
software that protects us.
A great big round of applause to the thousands of Dot Bomb companies for
showing us how to lose millions on the Internet and proving that someone
actually can make money disappear faster than the U.S. Government.
Thanks to the semi-conscious business executives who have convinced
themselves that frugal management of their capital dollars and their stubborn
refusal to let any hardware or software DIE with dignity and grace leads to
thousand-dollar service calls on WIN95 PCs.
Special thanks go to the many end users who believe in the “If you can’t fix
my mistake then it’s your fault” philosophy.
I thank the accountants responsible for every installation of an accounting
package who always force IT to forgo the database cleansing and turn off
required formats and required record fields and immediately upon going live
complain about IT’s inability to maintain data integrity.
I am very grateful to the financial analysts for excellence in the art of
generating positive cash flow for future business against all known laws of
I thank the CIOs who continue to champion “In House” application development
even though they have never successfully completed one single application in
dozens of previous attempts over two decades.
I would also like to give special accolades to and acknowledge the major
contribution of the following companies:
3Com for their excellent executive leadership in taking a market-leading
network company and downsizing it until it’s a mere shadow of its former
self. And thanks again for sacrificing not once, but twice the number of your wonderful
clients by selling them huge hardware or software infrastructures and then
bailing on the whole market leaving them holding now worthless, non-upgradable
junk to run their networks.
A special thanks to Novell for its long refusal to adopt TCP/IP and abandon
its wonderful IPX protocol and for allowing Microsoft to take over and begin
its dominance without competition. And a special accolade to those executives
who continued to insist that IPX runs great across Wide Area Networks.
Kudos to IBM and its marketing team for the wonderful Micro Channel, OS/2,
and Token Ring technologies that it convinced corporate executives to
purchase and force down the throats of IT support at three times the cost of
alternative equipment. I remember the individual configuration diskettes that
I finally took back from users who kept throwing them away. Who else
A huge round of applause for Intel – it is well deserved. It created the first
laugh chip in the industry. It was called the SX, if I remember. It was a CPU
with no math co-processor and the slowest dog in the land. I’m sure those
executives received a huge bonus for dumping that multi-million dollar batch
of bad processors, giving them a new name, and, voila! The SX chip and the first
major company scam was born. I bet they still giggle sometimes just thinking
how many financial clerks got stuck with one because the executives wanted to
save a measly few bucks and did not understand the concept that NO MATH
COPROCESSOR means no MATH PROCESSING.
An extra thanks to all those companies that tweaked UNIX and created
incompatible proprietary versions scattered across the universe.
Thanks to Linux for promises, promises, promises, and let’s bet that it happens
all over again.
Thanks, Compaq, for selling out.
Thanks, HP, for so many models of overpriced printers that you could afford to buy
Thanks, Dell, for making hardware cheaper than a two-dollar cigar.
And since we have been converging for years, I must give a warm welcome to the
group for our close friends Nortel, WorldCom, Adelphia, Qwest, Global
Crossing, and many others for their expertise in creative accounting and
holding up our longstanding ‘fudge the quarter’ reports.
I must give an extra atta boy to Bernie Ebbers, the salesman of the century, for
convincing the board of WorldCom to loan him half-a-billion dollars and a
special achievement award goes to Bernie for his leave no clue or e-mail
And last, but hardly the least, the kings of spin, masters of marketing, proud
owners of the mother O/S DOS, proud co-creators of OS/2, OS/2 LAN Server, the
company that took IBM to the cleaners, the victorious winner of the first
browser war, and proud owner and creator – with side credits to Xerox – of the
enormously stable, secure, cost-effective Windows O/S. I thank the one
company who refused to give up on IT’s once-glowing reputation and future
and truly was and is a major contributor in the current freefall anarchy of
the Internet. It gave us a free browser that is the easiest to use ever
made, it installs anything from anybody to anywhere on any PC you want, and the
user can’t stop you. It originated bloatware, it created the kernel that
loves memory leaks, it created the O/S kernel that is so easy to use that
anyone can use a PC, even when others are using it, even when it’s not logged
on, even with no logon ID, even with no password, even remotely, even through the browser, even through instant messaging, even when locked down with all
security closed, with the firewall enabled, Service Pack 2 installed and not a
port open but “80,” they can use it. Now is that not simplicity? And who can
forget the always familiar, the champion of all bugs, the “Blue Screen of
Death?” Technically, it’s the best crash screen ever invented. No information given,
no information saved, and not anything for a hint or clue to the cause. And, boy,
isn’t the latest Microsoft Office a thing of beauty? Has anyone figured out
the purpose of OneNote, yet? If you do, would you let me know? The self
sacrifice the company exhibited in handicapping its flagship product just so we
could be #1. It brings tears to my eyes.
Yes, it is our friend Microsoft. It is so dedicated to security and its
customers that even underdesperate attempts to beef up security
managed to disable pirated copies from any more Windows Updates and
it forgot to fill the security breaches. Hey, it’s a public company and has
a rep to maintain, not to mention quarterly estimates it must meet. Thank you
so much for all the patches you force us to download, the reboots required,
the lockups of system spooler, and the memory leaks that have been around since I
was beta testing 3.0. Thanks for forcing users off of dial-up and onto
broadband just to stay current and be supportable by the finest support staff
money can buy – but only if you’ve installed all patches.
Your brilliance in marketing bloatware is unsurpassed in the history of the
world. You and your brilliant leader have created and destroyed more
competition than the rest of the industry combined. By sheer force of will,
you have driven companies into the ground or bought them and assimilated them
into your culture like The Borg from Star Trek. The
destroyer of Netscape, the victor in the anti-trust battle with justice. Thank
you from the bottom of my heart for boosting IT to its #1 position in hated
industries. We could not have made it without you.
I always wake up in a cold, cold sweat. And upon waking I remembered
something. A friend and fellow IT expert that I knew said to me one night
after a short 24-hour day: “Well, it keeps us working and food on the table.”
To which I responded, “Yes, you’re right there, and tell me again, how long
will you be staying here in India?” [E.D. Kendrick]