Hockey makes the rest easy, almost

Something I love about the dog is her binary nature. Either she's awake or she's asleep. Either it's dinner time or it's not. Dogs' lives don't contain too many grey areas. Even the smart ones are predictable and reliable. Some suppliers are like that too.

Wasn’t it Jenny Shipley who started life in politics on a committee at a playcentre or kindergarten or something? After my experience of the last week or so, a life in parliament doesn’t seem as scary as it used to. I’ve walked on hot coals and broken glass, I’ve ridden mountain bikes off stupid heights, I’ve even worked with alligators and crocodiles (real ones -- not the ones you come across in everyday business). But this week has been one of the most character-building of my life. I now feel prepared for almost anything.

So where was it that I received this astounding training in bullshit and intrigue? At work? No. At a seminar? No. Fending off my editor at deadline time? Nope. It was at Peewee hockey. That’s right, folks, I am officially the assistant manager/assistant coach/chief dogsbody of the Waitakere Wings Under-13 hockey team. As my Russian pal Alexi likes to point out, sport and politics definitely go hand in hand. Actually, I’m thinking about publishing a politico/scientific paper on the subject. The cornerstone of my thesis is something I’d like to call Nesterov’s law (in honour of my friend), which states:

“The amount of political intrigue surrounding a sport is inversely proportional to the average age of the players, except if that sport happens to be ice hockey, in which case you should square the amount of intrigue.”

How do I get myself into these things? At least I now get to add lobbyist, powerbroker, hostage negotiator, water bottle filler and lace tier-upper to my resume.

Feast or famine

Something I love about the dog is her binary nature. Either she’s awake – herding cats, children, passing bicycles, birds or whatever moves and looks like it needs to be organised – or she’s asleep (and probably dreaming about herding cats, children, bicycles and birds). Either it's dinner time – at least for the 30-odd seconds it takes her to inhale a wodge of dog roll and some biscuits – or it’s not. Despite them apparently not seeing in colour, dogs’ lives don’t contain too many grey areas. Even the smart ones are predictable and reliable.

Some suppliers are like that too. In fact, the very smartest ones make it their business to be thoroughly reliable.

Unfortunately, though, just lately we’ve struggled to get the laptops we want. For some reason our supplier (the manufacturer, not the reseller) just hasn’t been keeping up with the demand for enterprise-level laptops in this part of the world.

It’s a real pain, because when you want a laptop you usually need it for someone who is very technically specialised, very expensive, very senior or some combination of the three (and probably other) factors. So we’re faced with the painful choice of waiting (in this case it’s been several weeks) or of choosing another model or brand and thus deviating from our standard.

Unlike some companies we don’t use a standard disk image – so the standard thing isn’t quite as critical as it could be – but we do like to try to maintain a consistent make/model standard to provide for interchangeability of hardware and to make it easier to maintain our library of drivers, patches, etc.

You’d think that in this day of ERP, SCM, CRM and flow manufacturing that being customer-focused and getting this kind of thing right would be a no-brainer of the world’s biggest PC maker. Guess not.

Swanson is IT manager at W Stevenson & Sons in South Auckland. Send letters for publication to Computerworld Letters.

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