Like every other IT manager, I’ve always been instinctively attracted to technologies that I don’t really understand. I’m not sure why this is. Is it part of the human condition? I suspect that it may be due to one of the puzzling side-effects of testosterone, which is the urge to have the latest technology.
Marketing department know this, and exploit it. The famous photo on the Microsoft website shows the handsome young executive looking smugly at his PC whilst a very class-looking chick in a tight skirt leans over him to stare thoughtfully at the screen . “Look.” says your Id. “See that? All you need is SQL Server 2008 on your PC and the girls will come flocking.” “Shush,” says your SuperEgo , “What nonsense. She can’t even see what version of SQL Server it is. Besides, a complacent dodo like him is probably just playing ‘Grand Theft Auto’, and she’s just sadly brooding on the shallowness of the male psyche”. “Ah,” says my Ego, “rationally, the latest version of SQL Server will be faster, safer, and full of toys, ..er.. important new features that will ensure productivity gains across the enterprise.” “…and classy young ladies” adds the Id.
To counteract this, I long ago adopted the habit of regularly reading the IT magazines, but only if they are five years old. For their rich, but unintended, humor these cannot be beaten. There is a laugh on every page. Technologies that seemed exciting and magical then are now treated universally with the contempt of familiarity. The Marketing babble that was once accepted unquestioningly then by earnest journalists and industry authorities, is now difficult to read without emitting a low whistle. To add spice to my reading, I have a set of Byte Magazines from the 1980s and 90s. Articles such as ‘Database Wars Revisited’ (Oct 1990), predicting the imminent demise of the relational model in favour of ‘Object -Oriented’ Data Repositories are fascinating for getting the future so startlingly wrong. The Adverts are endlessly diverting ‘There’s a new leader in the relational Database management world. Its name is FoxPro’ . Serious articles are rich in unintended comedy: ‘The future of computing could be Soviet software running on Taiwanese hardware’ Well, half-right anyway!
If ever you feel the need to get over-excited at the PDC, to gasp with wonder over the latest ‘Service’ to be clamped onto the side of SQL Server, or the new application architecture from Microsoft, then just calm down and convince yourself that whatever it is that Marketing man is telling you may not be God’s Honest Truth.
At this point, I stopped writing. As I was at home, I popped up into the attic to get my 1985 Jonos Portable computer out. I switched it on and booted it up, fired up WordStar , the wordprocessor, to view a document. Hmm. Ten seconds. Came back down, with cobwebs in my hair, and I tried it with my current Vista dual core 2 gig Laptop, with Word and this document. 3 minutes and ten seconds. Progress!