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Fanciful musings

2002-07-02 01:17:46+00 by Dan Lyke 4 comments

A few days ago, I ranted about a blog entry by Arnold Kling about version fatigue. Tom, over at Backup Brain, linked to an expansion of those ideas titled The Programming Soviet, which got me to thinking about what we've accomplished by making software easy enough for lawyers and management to use directly. And then, after a little ranting in response to Meuon's "playing with snakes" entry, it came to me: If, as Edward Tufte asserts, "power corrupts, PowerPoint corrupts absolutely", how much of the billions bilked by executives at Enron[Wiki], GlobalCrossing[Wiki], WorldCom[Wiki], Xerox, and who knows what else were enabled by GUIs? Is it, perhaps, that, rather than helping boost the economy, MacOS[Wiki] and Windows[Wiki] will turn out to be the biggest indirect drains on the economy in the last decade? Confidential to Dubya, this might be your chance to find a scapegoat that'll keep you from going down in history as the Herbert Hoover of your era...

[ related topics: Politics Microsoft New Economy Open Source Current Events Macintosh ]

comments in ascending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment made: 2002-07-02 02:26:27+00 by: meuon

Yep. Winders and MacOS makes management think they understand computers. Look, move the numbers from this cell in the spreadsheet to that cell and all of a sudden we look good. The computer says so :)

#Comment made: 2002-07-02 18:51:11+00 by: Dan Lyke [edit history]

Arnold Kling has some thoughts on this, a bit of expansion on the relative information density of PowerPoint versus paper. Obviously my entry was an off the cuff snide remark, not meant to be taken too seriously, but what the hell, I'll run with it.

So, another factor: The extra sets of eyes looking at data as its prepared. It used to be that, as you went through revisions, secretaries had to type it, graphic designers and layout artists had to figure out what went with it, typesetters had to set and proof it, and by the time all of this happened you had a gazillion extra sets of eyes, many who had little financial stake in your success, looking at your presentations. I can't help thinking that the idea that those extra eyes monitoring your work are no longer there makes it a little easier to think about fudging numbers. Nobody's going to say "you missed the entry for..." because the people who used to be paying that sort of attention to detail, who got bawled out if a single letter got dropped, are no longer as intimately involved in the preparation of presentations and reports.

#Comment made: 2002-07-02 22:20:38+00 by: Dan Lyke

Spending a lot of time waiting for Windows Installer builds today (I don't hate GUIs without lots of reason...), so, from that article referenced in my previous quote where I'm accused of thr

If you want to go that far, other phenomena that helped enable the corporate scandals would include the Internet, the emancipation of women, and flush toilets.

Just to take a simile way too far, I've ended up opening up a lot of toilets to manually jiggle the float valve. It would be just a little to teach people how to flush toilets with a fixed connection, a bar or something, between the handle and the valve rather than the chain that's there now, but we'd save a hell of a lot more water.

#Comment made: 2002-07-04 19:12:45+00 by: Shawn [edit history]

Dan; are you working directly with the MSI? Or are you using third-party stuff like Install Shield?

I spent quite a while developing installer solutions a couple jobs back. What I found is that MSI sucks rocks - big, hairy ones. I was put on the task because the previous installers were extremely unreliable. After some research, I settled on Nullsoft's Installer (which I extended with some features that we needed). Last time I checked, it was completeley free - not as in GPL (although you do get the source), but free to do whatever you want with it. I highly recommend it - if you have the option to use something other than MSI.