Dan’s Online Diary 

# 27.6.03 by Dan
I write about stuff, I write about things and I write about places, I write about good times, and I write about bad times, I even write about me sometimes.
But I fail to write about the most important things - firstly God, and the things of Him, and a most important second - people.
Why I have skirted these issues is perhaps akin to the fact that my classical thinking processes are not comfortable dealing with that which is not rational, logical, and tangible. But I don't know. I've never felt a specific dislike for the irrational, emotional, arty side of things, as I see the evaluation of that which is presently inexplicable as a challenge. A challenge to make these issues of inexplicabilty fit a(my) rational thought process without attempting to reduce them to a system of complex, yet rational and logical nodes of thought. So I dunno. Anyway...
Every single person is a universe of intrigue, mystery, surprise and wonder. I went up to level 25 to see a fellow who logged a job with our helpdesk. His email and calendar entries had disappeared (all but 7 of them). I've seen this fellow around before, but haven't introduced myself, or had any opportunity to interact with him. He is 50ish, and he's an uncle. Not my uncle, but if I conjour up the image of an uncle in my mind, this guy is it. Maybe he does remind me a little of one of my uncles, but anyway.
He has rather bushy eyebrows, and what is perhaps one of his more grabbing(not quite 'striking') features, is his choice of spectacles. They aren't at all outrageous, or anything special, but the frames do have very straight top edges, accentuating the bushy eyebrows, giving him a distinct air of severity. I really wonder if these initial outward appearances are a true reflection of a person's self, or whether they are red-herrings, serving only to make interaction with a person more of a challenge - something requiring effort, which is in turn rewarded. A smoker, is this chap, which adds to his character - how it does so would be a whole nother chapter - but I think it might tend to fit with the 'air of severity'. Yet despite the slight edginess that this presents, he is an apporachable chap, with a nice warm unhurried voice.
I could keep on describing him from a purely objective point-of-view, but the real person is more fully revealed when we examine a given scenario where one can interact with this person.
I fixed his problem quickly and simply, copying back the missing messages and calendar entries from a local replica of his mail file. He was grateful, and was pleasantly surprised that it took so little time and effort to resolve. He did, however, ask what might have caused the messages to disappear. Most users are simply happy to have their problem solved, and aren't interested in the guts of it. But the occasional user thinks enough to realise that if they understood the problem, then perhaps they could prevent it from happening in the future. But another reason for this inquisitiveness - which could quite possibly apply in this case - is that people are worried that the problem was caused something that they have done, and want to be reassured that it wasn't - that its a known bug in 'the system', and that they couldn't possibly have instigated it themselves, even unwittingly. I have had three and a half years experience working with Lotus Notes, and I have not, if recollection serves me rightly, encountered a case of 'dissappearing messages' where user error has not been the cause. Now, to share this information with our 'uncle' here would indeed be truthful, for it would be the most correct answer to his question. But I can see that revelation of this fact, and the subsequent implication that it was in fact him that had caused the problem, would be unhelpful. The whole reason he asked me what might have caused the problem could be that he himself may suspect it was user error, but wants assurance that it was, in fact, 'the system' itself - so that he might maintain his confidence in working with 'the system'. Telling him it was user error would diminish his confidence in 'the system', which might lead to further errors being made. Lots of 'if's, 'but's and 'maybe's here, but what I am driving at is that in order for him to sign off the experience on a positive note, he needs to be told it wasn't his fault. This means I have to be 'creative' with the truth. I don't want to admit to him that I don't know what the problem is, for that would lower his confidence in my ability(and the rest of my team) to diagnose and resolve problems with 'the system', and hence confidence in 'the system' itself would wane. So I have to blame 'the system' itself, which may not be an outright lie, for the 'user-unfriendliness' may have presented more opportunity for user error, but at the same time, is not the specific truth. Even though blaming 'the system' makes 'the system' look bad, this response does not in any way reflect on the ability of either myself, or himself, to manage 'the system', despite its faults. So, everybody is happy - uncle and 'the system' are at peace. But am I at peace. I'm semi-uncomfortable with the fact that I was not specifically truthful. I didn't tell him that I was %80 sure it was user error, which is what I believe and am telling myself. So what do I do? and does it really matter?

[Bumper Sticker]
'My boss is a Jewish Carpenter' - seen on the back of a van, Southern Motorway, this morning.