Monday, June 6, 2011

A Right Way, A Wrong Way and the . . .

Back in my home town of Norfolk, Virginia one quickly learned that the Navy—a dominant presence—had its own rules.  The Navy Way was not right or wrong.  So when I get frustrated or confused I often attribute it to simply not knowing all the applicable rules.


I unintentionally downloaded and launched Microsoft’s Internet 9 web browser and quickly noticed that the list of frequently viewed web sites appear not on the left side, but on the right.  How many weeks will it take me to adjust to the new Rule?


Why the change?  Because Microsoft and its managers can make arbitrary decisions without much concern for user inconvenience. The Microsoft Way tends to create three steps where one or two previously worked.  Of course the Microsoft Way provides users the opportunity to shift favorites to the left side of the screen, but maybe you guessed that they revert to the right the next time you launch Internet Explorer.

The Microsoft Way predominates in the word processing market, much to the chagrin of people like me who found Wordperfect superior.  Today—on deadline or course—Microsoft Word suddenly lost its ability to count and number footnotes.  Yes, some academics face and meet deadlines and no, this glitch was not the product of operator error.  The Microsoft Way apparently does not change numbering until one accepts all changes when using the editing review process.  Of course I did not have that process in operation.  So the footnote editing process took three times as long as it otherwise would.


There’s an FCC Way as well, and it seems to work regardless of which political party controls the Whitehouse.  Top managers at the Commission determine whether people like are “with us, or against us” and whether outsiders have enough juice to make problems.  It comes across as a siege mentality, but cross one of these gatekeepers or fail the significance test and your calls and emails don’t get answered.  Apparently my work on regulatory reform, critiques of FCC decisions, and occasional work with certain out of grace public interest groups make responding to my infrequent calls and emails unnecessary.  Or maybe I am unworthy of a callback in light of my insignificance.  Or maybe I simply lack the gravitas worthy of a response. 


In any event my queries, offers to provide insights, volunteering to join an advisory group and even a free copy of my latest book trigger no response.  This frustrates me and creates every incentive for me to give up and accept my insignificance.  I’d like to think if I ever filled one of their positions I’d do the right thing and return their call.

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