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Murphy’s Law and the Computer
Everybody knows about Murphy’s Law. It says that if anything can go wrong, it will.
That’s certainly true at the WIND. We thought converting the WIND from a cut-and-paste operation to a computerized layout would be easy and fast, but two of Murphy’s corollaries are that nothing is as easy as it looks, and everything takes longer than you think.
It might have been fast and easy if the good folks who put this together every month had nothing else to do, but that’s not the case. So it hasn’t been easy, and it sure has been slow.
Murphy’s seventh corollary is that every solution breeds new problems. That’s been true, too. Learning how to manage a complex desk-top publishing program, even when it has to do only one thing, has been tricky. Murphy’s eighth corollary is that it’s impossible to make anything foolproof because fools are so ingenious. We have been pretty ingenious.
We have also been plagued by Murphy’s sixth corollary, which says that whenever you set out to do something, something else must be done first.
The result is that we’re making progress, but we’re not yet to the point where we’ve been able to take the plunge by putting the whole works into the computer. For one thing, there’s something comforting about having the pieces of paper in hand; moving them around on the layout boards. There they are. Once they’re in the computer, where are they?
Just about every month we get a little closer to entrusting the WIND to the machine, but after 18 years of doing it one way, it’s hard to let go.
And we’re not alone in being subject to Murphy’s law. When was the last time you saw something done quickly and quietly in the valley? The telephone company has been fooling around with our lines without much progress. They’ve made it harder to call each other, but that’s about all. The work on about a quarter of a mile of roads has taken more time, money and energy than it may be worth. We’re still thinking about public toilets. The community bulletin board, fixing Crystal Spring, water, sewage treatment, are all works-in-progress. That’s pretty much the way we do everything in our valley.
It’s a little like mating elephants: it’s done at a high level, it’s accompanied by a lot of roaring and screaming, and it takes two years to show results.
© 1985 – 2003, David E. Steiner
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