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Repair Order Mayhem and Madness

©01 The Media Desk

        The Desk's new day job digs has a rather archaic system for tracking and logging repair and service calls from clients and customers and employees and Elvis Clones that Telecommute and whoever else has a gripe.
        The name of the software is irrelevant. Suffice it to say that it is an orphan program long since disowned by the guy that wrote it, the company that sold it, and the little old lady what is supposed to dust the server room at night.
        Compared to it, Excel (see the article '...Weeping and gnashing of teeth') is a joy to use. The original Wordperfect was user friendly. And Dos is progressive. "Bring back 1-2-3!"
        The program isn't just clunky. Most Clunkers the Desk has owned would run more often than not. And when they did die on the road it didn't take a conference call to everybody and their sister to figure out what it'd take to get it running again. The Desk owned a 1980-something Ford van that would catch fire on occasion. You'd put the fire out, tape up a few wires, and go on your way. Another clunker, a mid-eighties Chevy pick'em-up truck ran when it wanted to. If it didn't start now, tinker under the hood for awhile, play with the fuses, bang on the carburetor, and it'd go.
        With this service log software they light candles, mutter in Latin, hang the skin from a three-legged toad off the server, then they start troubleshooting in the software. Usually there is no problem, it's simply a server spasm or a memory fit someplace. But they have to do that fire-dance anyway.
        The manager pulls her hair, the network guru's point at each other, everybody drinks bad coffee and lukewarm soda for awhile. Then the system comes back up on its own, or it doesn't, and life goes on.

        Why would anybody maintain a program that has been forgotten by time? The thing belongs in the Technology Museum right next to the Apple II and that nine pin printer that makes carbon copies on tractor feed paper.
        When this program was state of the art, it was a novelty to enter anything into a database. And while they were typing it into their green and white screens, they were listening to the coverage of the Mount St Helen's eruption on the radio.... Getting live streaming news coverage from your computer was still something best left to the next Star Trek movie... 'Wrath of Kahn'.

        In any case... the Desk has to at least act like it is trying to use the thing.
        And then it locks up The Beast 2. Causes it to reboot. Or even better... after you spend half an hour trying to put the information in, it simply looses it. As if you hadn't even come in today.
        That and the fact that the Desk's co-worker's computer seems to be dreadfully allergic to the program. It will open the first screen, and sit there. For a couple of hours. It simply can't run it.

        When the Desk started asking questions about the program. Boy! Did it get an earful.

        "It's a piece of crap." Was among the mildest.
        References to various bodily functions and the fifth level of Dante's Hell were mentioned.
        Some talked about visits to the dentist and the pleasure of a tax audit in favorable terms when compared to this program.
        They knew its reliability was nil and its ability to accept new information and be reconfigured to meet the changing demands of its users and customers simply didn't exist.
        It seems it would be easier to move the Great Wall about twenty miles south than it would be to change the way this program works.
        The Great Master of All Things associated with it knows they are in charge of the last of a dying species of flatworms without even one environmentalist chaining themselves to the server to protect it. Rumors abound that it is in the process of being replaced. However, rumors abound that we are all being replaced. That the building is even going to be torn down and replaced with a monument to the Lost Brigade or another rainwater runoff control and mosquito breeding pond or something.

        Oh well. We shall overcome. Or at least act like it.
        The Desk managed to enter a couple of repair calls into it last week. And then when it tried to go back in and update them, it got to watch Window's 98 shut down and reboot, and ScanDisk work its magic.
        So much for trying to update the tickets.

        The Manager Lady is in charge of trying to rip the information they want out of the existing database, which, by the way, is incompatible with everything else on the planet. It cannot be directly exported into anything else, and nothing else will recognize it to import it. The program will not allow any playing with the information to translate it into, say, Access or Excel, or any other program, period.
        So when the Desk observed that the program is a 'bastard unto itself' she agreed wholeheartedly.
        There is no hope for working with it, or doing anything to it. And it seems it will not go quietly into that good night.

Gotta love Software.... It makes the Amish way of life so attractive....


[NOTE: 1-2-3, Excel, Dos, and other trademarked software names are used without intent to defame the owners of those programs. The name of the program under discussion in the article was deleted at the insistence of the Desk's paralegal who is afraid of lawyers and other poisonous reptiles.]

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