This year has been a trying one for many, but it’s time we remind ourselves about what’s really important in life.
The past year has been an odyssey that Auntie would like to stuff down
the trash-masher and grind into a tidy bag to tap dance out to the alley.
OK, I know I shouldn’t hold back my full emotions, but that’s the best
I can do in a family magazine. You’ll have to pardon me. I’m still a bit
cranky about Thanksgiving—Fabio’s parsnip soufflé went flat and my tofu
turkey just wasn’t the hit I was hoping for. Regardless, from almost any
standard of measure, 2001 has been a waste of 12 perfectly good months.
On the professional side, the good times we thought would last a lot longer—well,
didn’t. We saw that no matter how essential IT may be to an enterprise,
technologists aren’t immune to downsizing; rightsizing; and other smarmy
synonyms for having one’s butt handed to oneself as one is told to empty
out one’s desk under the watchful eyes of one or more security personnel,
after which one’s butt, still in hand, is politely but firmly escorted
to the nearest exit.
It wasn’t as bad it could’ve been, but it’s been a number of years since
so many IT departments and consulting firms cut staff so severely. Independent
consultants weren’t spared, either, feeling the squeeze in the amount
of available work as well as contract rates. Ouch!
The antitrust case against Microsoft was another exercise in pure joy.
Those of you who don the paranoid’s wardrobe and view anything anti-Microsoft
as the work of the devil, consider this: On Aug. 23, an article in the
Los Angeles Times noted that Utah’s attorney general received two letters
in support of Microsoft from citizens who just happened to be, uh, dead.
Apparently the group orchestrating the pro-Redmond mail campaign—Americans
for Technology Leadership (which receives money from Microsoft)—wasn’t
too thorough in checking the identities appropriated for the mail blitz.
Oopsy. To be fair, this doesn’t necessarily top the time that Oracle hired
a private investigator to sift through Microsoft supporters’ trash—but
I doubt Mother Teresa would have approved of either venture.
And Hewlett-Packard purchasing Compaq? Auntie’s not too sure about this
one, kiddies. On the surface, it means fewer choices for retail PCs, but
are there major differences in functionality or quality between an HP
Pavilion and a Compaq Presario? Not to this techno-goddess. PCs have become
appliances, and that’s OK by me. At the higher end, Auntie chuckles that
HP is buying Compaq for one of the same reasons Compaq bought Digital
Equipment Corp., but corporate IT departments can’t be thrilled about
less vendor competition at the enterprise-geek level.
So how do we put handle the doom and gloom and shut down our collective
How about we try finding a little thing called perspective. That’s right,
kiddies, it’s true that the business we’re in is an important part of
driving the world’s economy, but we all need to keep it in context. When
you’re grousing about some workplace issues, a ridiculous deadline, a
cranky customer, an OS bug, sloppy code or a deflated soufflé (not to
mention ego), try and keep in mind what’s really important. Take a deep
breath and let that blood pressure drop just a little.
Celebrate the season. Love your family and friends, be generous to those
less fortunate, and keep in mind the fragility of our high-tech culture.
And keep your skills current. Between the ongoing evolution of Microsoft’s
operating systems and application software and the business needs of your
customers and employers, knowing more is going to be more useful and more
highly valued. And who knows? If you’re really good boys and girls, perhaps
Fabio will knit a kickey red scarf for you.
Happy holidays from Auntie and her Fabio. May the year to come be a brighter,
safer, and more peaceful year for all.
Em C. Pea, MCP, is a technology consultant, writer and now budding nanotechnologist who you can expect to turn up somewhere writing about technology once again.