My Dog Does Not Bite

Scenario 1: a Joke. Or is it?
Vector silhouette of a woman with a dog. - 50783515Woman walks in the park and sees a man and a dog sitting at a bench. “Does your dog bite?”, asks the woman
“No”.
So,  The woman  proceeds to pet that dog, which promptly bites her. “I thought you said your dog didn’t bite?” says she, angrily indeed.
Says He: “This is not my dog.”
Lady  Loses based on a wrong assumption.
Gentleman  loses due to lack of, well,
common decency in recognizing assumptions of others


Scenario 2: Serious. Sort of.
Man and Dog SetYou are in a park, the same hypothetical park may be.
A dog & its (Obvious) owner are there and Rover approaches you. So you say:
“Can you call your dog back please?”
The owner says something like” “Oh she is friendly” or similar. Wrong answer. basically,  a non-sequitur. You did not ask: “Is your dog friendly?”
Right one is “Yes” and “Heel” or something to comply,
Isn’t it? Anything else basically says: “!F..k you!”
Or am I crazy? Just get the Dog Away. As Above!
The reasoning is the same as above.

Treatment:
Technology is never about technology,
owning a dog is not about owning a dog. Let that sink in.
it’s always about being so called Human.
We Humans imagined, considered, designed, implemented and supported various choices  whether it was a about a fire-stick, tractor,  Boston terrier or nuclear weapon.
Forget the dog.
Think: “Human!”


Scenario 3:
Man Destroying Computer High Resolution Stock Photography and Images - AlamyTech Support: “We have never had any complaints about (xyzzy) before”
Problem: This assumes everything is Fine and that their “dog” does not or would not or could not  bite you or yours
But you just got bitten.
Dump that company.

In providing tech support I generally avoid the parental incantation:
“Because I Say So” about removing questionable software, for example.. and I try hard to cite the source of my concerns, usually with well respected web site links.
Security-wise, I love “Krebs On Security” by the way.
It’s also hard to be the point-person for design screw ups elsewhere.
“I am not responsible for this other person’s dog, right?”
I am well aware of the other company’s shortcomings that  are unknown to the caller.
They are calling ME and not calling Company 1XYZ
They may have tried, mind you. 
This is a minefield of problems, 
Should I take on the shortcomings of Company 1XYX?
Am I willing to get a client’s transfer of angst against 1XYZ to me?
Yes. on two conditions. 
1) I cannot guarantee success or that it will not get worse
2) It’s at least $500/hr with all meals and ‘entertainment’ included and may get posted to YouTube,
Those of you who know me will know which products & company I am referring to- and a few well known Web Hosts to boot.


Scenario #3Playing Tennis Cartoons and Comics - funny pictures from CartoonStock
A tennis star goes to the doctor and reports pain on raising her arm above horizontal- a limited range of motion, it might be called.
“So it hurts when you raise your left arm?” says the good doctor
“Yes” says she
“Well, that’s easy. just don’t do that then”
says the good doctor.

Treatment:
The only real computer security that exists is the computer you don’t have that’s not plugged in and you never owned or touched.
Practical, right? Just don’t do the thing that causes the Problem.
So the only real identity security is the one you don’t have
Unrealistic, right?

Nevertheless, guess what? #3 CAN be a useful insight.
If your database keeps screwing up, ask yourself,
“Does my information need to be in a database at all?”
Years ago I heard- and this may be apocryphal- that nuclear submarines- high tech like nothing else- would keep an inventory of supplies and spares on paper index cards.
Not infallible but orders of magnitude more reliable.
Somerset Maugham, the somewhat famous British writer started out hoping to be a painter in Paris, and was told:
“You are good but you will never be great”- So he took up writing…….


wreck.jpg
Credits: MARYX Blog (Click Image)

Scenario #4 AND Treatment, All In One!
the so called X Y Problem
In imagining Y is the solution to problem X, means to support problems with Y completely lose the original objective: Problem X.
Example:
“Ink Jet Printer Ink Is So Expensive!”
so, I tried elaborate “Solutions to Problem Y”: refurbished cartridges, refilling cartridges, “economy” printing, different brand of inkjet printer that could print using a single black and white cartridge even when the colors had run out. Yep. You know what I am talking about. I even got a “Chip Resetter” to defeat the manufacturer’s clever trickery that tried to force you to buy only their own  fresh cartridges. Here’s looking at you, HP, Epson…
All of it a Big Problem- several, really.. and Very Interesting:
Which led me to think:
The problem is really X: “Cheaper Printing- How?”
not: “Expensive cartridges are a Problem”. If I mostly print in black & white, why not use a laser printer?
(Color lasers are still too expensive for me)
In fact, at “root cause” one might even ask- Why print at all? If you need to give some pages to someone, why not send a PDF files..?
Just Sayin’.. (I hate that expression)
On the face of it, a laser printer may cost a bit more. 
Inkjet printers are “loss leaders” or “Sample Drugs” so you are now stuck with cartridges that cost more than the printer itself when you need them. I did check- Most laser printers don’t have a means to prevent you refilling them or buying inexpensive refurbished ones.
In my case: a monochrome Canon MF4700 has lasted me 8+ years and a 1200 page toner cartridge costs $8 refurbished from Amazon.
(Less Crap in the Landfill, guys!)
I use the vendor feedback and the knowledge I can return it if need be. NO PROBLEM!
So! How do I print in color, if indeed I must?
I send them to a Print Service like Kinko or CVS or Shutterstock. 
So! your Business generates forms that are required to have colored fields? (This is true if you do Insurance claims etc) 
Simple. Order a batch of pre printed color forms from Kinko, etc, then overprint with your black and white laser.
Some forms are even available online as PDFs.
Hell, many of them you can even order from Amazon if they are a common type such as bank check stock
Love photographs? I now have mine loaded into a digital Photo frame
Above are several examples of the X Y Problem at work-
Job #1 in Troubleshooting is, “Define the Problem”
Not: “Assume a solution and have at it” : )


Scenario #6Economic Jargon Cartoons and Comics - funny pictures from CartoonStock
“I have an opaque solution using jargon to your simple problem”
Sometimes when providing reference link to articles describing someone’s technical problem I realize there is enough jargon present to alienate that person.
Even the words: “Update” and “Upgrade” and the important difference between those 2 words- which are totally distinct- can cause bafflement.
Worse, context can change meanings in horrible ways. 
“Arguments” in computer science are words and numbers used as inputs to a program, not about people beating each other up.
It also has a different meaning in  debate which is not what is commonly understood to mean.
“Do not assume we speak a common language”
“Do not assume someone understands correctly just because they did not ask you what some word meant”
Most people I meet are smarter than they think about technology, given half a chance and not blindsided by jargon & tech elitism.


Conclusions:
Who noticed there was no Scenario #5? I went 1,2,3,4, to #6.
“Always Question your Own Assumptions First”
But It’s my blog, I can do what I like, right? Most tech companies and vendors essentially get to do whatever they like with their bottom line being the driving force, not the product.
If an oil company could make as much money by not drilling refining and selling oil, don’t you think they would?
There’s a very common misconception that “Big Companies Must Know What They Are Doing”.
or they are in the business of doing whatever it is they sell.
False- Their first responsibility is to their shareholders, not you.
Ironically- a great or at least useful product with no real need for improvement can kill a company as the need for further income may be gone. (Looking at you, Wordstar!) It’s why so many companies now have gone to a Subscription model where you pay monthly.
Damn them.

Not for profits are rather different which is why I prefer them
Commercial companies can afford to screw up more often and bigger than you and I can and they consist entirely of fallible arrogant humans just like you or me.
One year my business partnership (Pre Dot-Com Crash in 1999) only broke even in the same year IBM lost billions. Was I doing “Better’ than IBM? worth thinking about that.

Let us, we so-called Humans watch our assumptions closely.
We,
And our dogs. 

Credits: Various royalty free photo agencies or as Linked.
Thank you
Draft. Comments Welcomed!

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