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Another entry from the Clueless Dept.

Someone else who needs to buy a clue. I normally don’t have a problem with John Dvorak, and frequently I actually like his stuff. He’s not as clueless as some people make him out to be. Dvorak’s not as smart as he thinks he is, but one thing I’ve noticed about his critics is that they usually aren’t as smart as they think they are either.
Dvorak’s most recent Modest Proposal is that we fire all the technology ignorami out there and then, essentially, throw away corporate standards, let end-users run anything they bloody well want, and basically make them administrators of their own machines.

I’ve got a real problem with that. Case point: One of my employer’s executives recently brought in his home PC and insisted we get it running with remote access. Only one problem with that: He has Windows XP Home. XP Home’s networking is deliberately crippled, so businesses don’t try to save money by buying it. A sleazy move, but a reality we have to live with. We got it to work somewhat, but not to his satisfaction. He’s mad, but mostly because he doesn’t have any idea what changes went on under the hood in XP and doesn’t know he’s asking the impossible. But he’s perfectly competent using Word, Excel, PowerPoint and Outlook. He’s also very comfortable ripping his CDs to MP3 format–he’s got one of the largest MP3 collections in the company. He’s competent technologically. But he has no business with admin rights on his computer.

The same goes for a lot of our users. The record I’ve found for the most spyware-related files installed on a work PC is 87. These aren’t the technical ignorami who are installing this garbage. It’s the people who know how to use their stuff, but they love shareware and freeware. Maybe some of it helps them get their work done. But these people are the first to complain when their system crashes inexplicably. And I’m expected to keep not only the corporate standard apps like M$ Office running, but I’m also expected to support RealPlayer, Webshots, Go!Zilla, Gator, WinAmp, RealJukebox, AOL, and other programs that run ripshod all over the system and frequently break one another (or the apps I’m supposed to support).

If the users were completely responsible for keeping their systems running, that would be one thing. But install all that stuff on one computer and try to keep it running. You won’t have enough time to do your job.

Dvorak argues that people like me should solely be concerned with keeping the network working. That’s fine, but what about when some Luddite decides to ditch all modern apps and bring in an IBM PS/2 running DOS 5.0 and compatible versions of Lotus 1-2-3 and WordPerfect and dBASE? Unless there’s already an Ethernet card in that machine, I won’t be able to network it. And the person who decides a Macintosh SE/30 running System 6.0.8 is where it’s at will have a very difficult time getting on the network and won’t be able to exchange data with anyone else either.

Those scenarios are a bit ridiculous, but I’ve had users who would have done that if they could have. And someone wanting to run XP Home absolutely is not ridiculous, nor uncommon. If my job is to network every known operating system and make those users able to work together in this anarchy, my job has just become impossible.

As much as I would love for people to use Linux in my workplace and something other than Word and Outlook, the anarchy Dvorak is proposing is completely unworkable. It’s many orders of magnitude worse than the current situation.

This is just wrong too. Yes, New Englanders, I know about heartbreak. I’m from Kansas City. At least your Red Sox have posted more than one winning record in the past 10 years.

Anyway, not only are the Royals’ glory years over, they’ve forgotten where their glory years came from. They’ve once again denied Mark Gubicza entry into their Hall of Fame. Who? In the late 1980s, Mark Gubicza was the Royals’ second-best pitcher, behind Bret Saberhagen. Injuries did him in the same as Saberhagen (only a little sooner) but he’s still among their career leaders in wins and strikeouts.

And after spending 13 seasons in a Royals’ uniform, the Royals had a chance to trade Gubicza for hard-hitting DH Chili Davis. But you don’t trade a guy who’s poured his heart and soul into the team for 13 years and stayed completely and totally loyal to it no matter how much it hurt, right? Gubicza said yes. Gubicza went to the GM and told him that if he could make the Royals a better team by trading him, to trade him.

Chili Davis hit 30 home runs for the Royals in 1997. Then he bolted for the Yankees.

Meanwhile, Gubicza blew out his arm for good and the Angels released him. He pitched two games for them.

It takes a great man to tell the team he loves that the best thing he can do for them is to get traded for someone who can help the team more. That was Mark Gubicza. They don’t make ’em like him anymore.

But even more importantly, the immortal Charley Lau was once again denied entry. Who’s he? He was a journeyman catcher who spent his entire career as a backup and whose career batting average was .255, but that was because he had about zero natural ability. He was a genius with the bat, which was how he managed to hit .255. More importantly, Lau was the Royals’ hitting coach in the early 1970s. He spotted some skinny guy who was playing third base because Paul Schaal couldn’t play third base on artificial turf and their first choice to replace him, Frank White, couldn’t play third base at all. This skinny blond fielded just fine, but he was hitting terribly. Lau asked him what he was doing over the All-Star break. The kid said he was going fishing with Buck Martinez. Lau put his foot down. He told him he was going to stay in Kansas City and learn how to hit.

“He changed my stance. I had been standing up there like Carl Yastrzemski, but the next thing I knew I looked like Joe Rudi,” the kid recalled. But he started hitting. By the end of the year, he’d pulled his average up to a very respectable .282.

Soon Lau had every player on the Royals standing at the plate like Joe Rudi, and taking the top hand off the bat after contact with the ball. And the Royals created a mini-dynasty in the American League Western Division.

What was the name of that kid, anyway?

George Brett.

If it hadn’t been for Charley Lau, George Brett would have been nothing. The Royals probably would have never won anything. And they probably wouldn’t be in Kansas City anymore either. Who puts up with 30 years of losing, besides Cubs fans?

Charley Lau belongs in their Hall of Fame. Even if nobody besides George Brett and me remembers who he was.

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9 thoughts on “Another entry from the Clueless Dept.”

  1. Sad to read about the Hall of Fame denials. Though I grew up in North Carolina (where everyone was a Braves or Reds fan), I inexplicably started following the Royals in the mid- to late-70s b/c of guys like Brett, Patek, White, Otis, Mayberry, Herzog, Splittorff, Hrabosky, Willie Wilson, & U.L. Washington. (I have a Journalism degree also, so maybe it’s a genetic thing??)

    It wasn’t until much later that I realized who Charley Lau was. (Did you happen to see him as himself in the 1983 Matthew Broderick/Jason Robards flick "Max Dugan Returns"?)

    Those were great years. Sadly, long gone are the days of the Younts, Bretts and Gwynns playing for the same team forever. Thanks for the reminder tho…

  2. It may not have actually been 87. It may have been 84. I just know it was eighty-something.

    Keep in mind these are DLLs and other files, and most apps install more than one, so 80+ instances of spyware probably means the bozo installed 20-30 spyware-enabled programs. Which is still way excessive.

    I’ve seen systems with 50+ instances twice.

    Oddly enough, after I ran Ad-Aware on those three systems, they ran a lot faster and they didn’t crash half as often as they used to. And running Ad-Aware is the only sure way to get rid of Gator, other than running fdisk, which is mildly excessive.

  3. Jeff, I’ll have to go get that movie. Thanks for pointing it out.

    And maybe one day baseball will return to sanity. I know Brett and Yount and Yaz were the ideal, but among the all-time greats, a lot of them bounced around a lot too. Ruth played for three teams. Cy Young played for more than one team, as did Grover Cleveland Alexander. Even Ty Cobb didn’t spend his entire career in Detroit.

    I think after we get rid of Selig and rein in the owners, we’ll have heroes again. Or at least I can hope. I always will. When it comes to baseball I’m a hopeless romantic. (Maybe I’m caught in a bad marriage that’s only getting worse and all I can think about is the honeymoon, but so be it. I can’t be totally cynical about everything.)

  4. Once again… I’m glad I don’t know a thing aboot baseball, or some of those "injustices" might have actually bothered me. ๐Ÿ™‚

    But computers… I do know a bit aboat… (a very small bit, but still a bit.)

    As usual, people have a hard time finding a rational middle-ground. We’ve always gotta go runnin’ off in one direction or another. When I started reading that article I thought, "He’s got a point." I mean,… people I work with routinely mess up their computers through stray mouse clicks and inadvertent keystrokes and what not. And God help us if they try to figure oat what’s wrong and attempt to "fix" it on their own. :p Fortunately, I’m usually able to clear things up before we have to get IT involved. But other departments don’t have it so well. (especially "Field Sales",… Holy Lord, they are one witless bunch) ๐Ÿ™‚ So I know from experience that the average user’s nescience is a cause of inefficiency. (not to mention, undue stress on the poor tech-heads.)

    But then this Dvorak guy starts talking aboot buying our own computers (huh??) and using whatever software we want. (eh???) *egad* What’s he smokin’? First off, I only have enough money right now to buy ONE computer.. (one "good" one, at least) and it sure ain’t gonna be sittin’ in my office all weekend while I’m at home, and I sure ain’t gonna be cartin’ it back an’ forth from my house to work every day. And then there’s the software compatibility issues that Dave already covered. I mean… where’s the happy medium here folks??

    Simply require that users have a working knowledge of computers in general, not just of one piece of software. (that alone will cut down on probably 50% of your daily calls to IT) Then maintain uniform software standards to insure compatibility and to avoid self-installed apps that cause conflicts. Is it really that hard? :op


  5. I wasn’t trying to say that the greats shouldn’t switch teams. Just that seeing the same guy on a team for a career is great for a young fan to watch. As a kid, it was comforting that Brett was always a Royal. And even as an adult in San Diego, it was great to have Gwynn’s stability w/ the hapless Padres. It especially helps w/ team loyalty. But we can also follow great players from team to team to team…

  6. Yeah Jeff, what I was wondering was if the movement tendency isn’t cyclical too. Of course that depends as much on the owners as the players.

  7. David-Amen! We need to contact Dean Witty who is primarily to blame for my father not being in the Royals Hall Of Fame. I plan to call him tomorow and fax your brilliant comments over to him. Thank you for your thoughts!
    Sweet Swings,
    Charley Lau jr.

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