March Humor

Top 10 Reasons a Dog Won’t Use a Computer

1. T0o0p hqa5rxd 6tt0[o 6ty[2w 9ig tjh je7&rw(oe (Too hard to type with paws.)

2. "Sit" and "stay" were hard enough; "delete" and "save" are out of the question.

3. Saliva-coated floppy disks refuse to work.

4. Three words: carpaw tunnel syndrome

5. Involuntary tail wagging is a dead giveaway he’s browsing the Web site www.purina.com.

6. Fire hydrant icon is simply too frustrating.

7. Can’t help attacking the screen when he hears, "You’ve got mail."

8. Too messy to mark every Web site he visits.

9. Fetch command not available on all platforms.

10. A dog can’t stick his head out of Windows 95.

Contributed by Kevin Frey

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The Making of a Systems Programmer

Systems programmers are different from other IT people. I learned this many years ago as a novice performance analyst. It was back then that I first met Brian, a systems programmer who especially exemplified the breed.

One day he was given the unwelcome task of turning the newest member of our staff, a recently graduated college kid, into a member of his own profession. Under Brian’s expert guidance the kid was soon writing assembler code, installing software and reading dumps. He was sharp and I believe Brian was impressed. (Of course, he didn’t show it.)

Instruction into the rites of the systems programming craft is always conducted secretly, but one day I accidentally witnessed Brian’s lesson to the kid on how to treat an end user. "You know kid," began Brian, "it takes more than technical competence to make a real systems programmer – it also requires an ‘attitude.’ And at no time is an attitude more important than when dealing with end users.

These pests, with their insipid questions, will drain away your productive time faster than a head crash will bring down a disk drive."

"The key to an attitude is the ‘look,’" explained Brian. "You need a ‘look’ so intimidating that it will make a user maggot crawl back under his rock without saying a word. Here, watch." Brian screwed his face into a fierce scowl composed of two parts contempt and one part aggravation. "Now you try it," he said.

The kid made a few earnest attempts to duplicate the expression then broke into a big broad smile. "No, no, no!" exclaimed Brian in his best drill instructor voice. "That was terrible! You know what I think? I think your tie is so tight that you haven’t got enough loose skin on your face to make a decent ‘look.’ By the way, kid, real systems programmers don’t wear ties, let alone suits." Brian gulped some coffee from his ever-present mug as the kid tried to regain his composure.

"Okay," Brian continued, "let’s forget about the ‘look,’ it’s a lost cause. If you don’t have the ‘look,’ then you need to know what to say to the user reptile. What would you say kid?"

The kid thought for a moment then hesitantly replied, "Hello, may I help you?" "You have gotta be kidding me!" bellowed Brian. "Who do you think you are, the help desk? Listen closely, here’s the right way. The first thing you say is ‘Go away, I’m busy’ in a dismissive tone. If they still don’t leave, maybe they are whining that the payroll job has abended or some such nonsense, listen to them for about 20 seconds, then shout ‘USER ERROR.’ If even that doesn’t work, hand them both volumes of the Messages and Codes manual and tell them ‘RTFM,’ then grab your cigarettes and leave for a smoke break. You DO SMOKE, don’t you kid?" demanded Brian, his eyebrows arching.

"No sir," stammered the kid.

Brian turned, grabbed his cigarettes, and headed for the door while muttering "Oh God, why me?"

As you might expect, the kid didn’t stay in systems programming very long. He is now in a field to which he is much better suited – management.

Contributed by Fred Wagner