Too Busy For Words - the PaulWay Blog

Sun 24th Jan, 2010

The device will submit!

I arrived a bit early for the Southern Plumbers miniconference at LCA 2011 and ended up watching people trying to work out why the projection system wasn't working - staring at various devices, switching things off and on, sulking, calling for other knowledgeable advisors, opening cupboards, etc. It was rather like that scene in The Diamond Age where Doctor X is trying to get his nanotech working.

And I realised that, with virtually any other conference, if the projection system had stopped working there it would have been "Sorry, everyone, we can't get the projection system working, we're going to have to move". But here at LCA you have so many knowledgeable, analytical, people - people for whom a piece of technology working is almost a personal affront - the problem won't resist for long. The problem will submit.

That's what makes it such a fun conference.

(We do need to realise, overall, that sometimes we need to take a step back and ask whether this is worth solving, or whether even we should solve this problem at all. I put it that if some engineers were told to open the gates of hell and let the unholy minions out upon the earth, they would try to work out how to do it rather than ask whether it was a good idea. But generally I think fixing things so they work - and knowing enough to fix things - is better than relying on someone else to do it.)

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