Speaking Personally: Harry Porter on the new king of the neighbourhood - the IT expert


Car mechanics and tradesmen, these were always the two professions you had to look out for.

The mechanic would open your bonnet, stick his head in, remain motionless, like a cobra about to strike then... the head would shake and you’d hear the sharp intake of breath.

This equated to a big bill on the horizon, even if the only thing he’d spotted was that your washer reservoir was empty.

Plumbers, sparkies, heating engineers – they could baffle you with science too and the rule was, the more baffled you appeared, the bigger the bill.

We’ve maybe got more savvy now and there’s a better awareness of what is actually wrong before you call in a professional... and the bill you can expect.

But they now look like rank amateurs, complete innocents, compared to the new king of the neighbourhood – the IT expert.

These planned words of nonsense took an entirely different direction about one hour ago. That’s when my computer suddenly informed me: “The server threw an exception.”

To what?

The music I was listening to?

My shirt?

If you live in a world where you rely on a computer to do your job, then you’ll appreciate the adage that it allows you to make more mistakes, faster, than any invention mankind has come up with – though guns and hard liquor will come pretty close.

And you will also know top of the charts in computer problems are computer solutions.

To be honest I was never very good with mechanics or tradesmen, but ‘my’ IT helper lost me after ‘good morning’.

Of course, silly me, I should have realised that the parameters of my parallel systemised transitional matrix approaches on the server were playing up.

You could see the server taking an ‘exception’ to that eh?

Now I have to accept that, because I don’t know any better, but I would feel more confortable with an explanation along the lines of: “Sorry. Fred dropped his Bovril into a big shiny, humming thing that’s plugged into the wall that’s quite important and does stuff. Once we’ve dried it out it should be fine.”

That I can relate to. Even sympathise with.

Now, maybe IT is a very complex and technical world but, at the user end, your computer is a tool. Again, I may just be naive but if you need someone on standy 24/7 for that tool, then it can’t be very good one.

You don’t get that with a washing machine... some bloke moving into your kitchen, just on standy for when it WILL go wrong.

However, it does seem the information superhighway will continue to be littered with pile-ups for the foreseeable future, as the wheels come off our networks and our sensitive servers take the huff over something.

And we will continue to glaze over when we’re told we are unable to do what we planned to do because of something we don’t understand not doing something we didn’t know it needed to do in the first place.

But, there is the possibility, just the smallest possibility, that we’re being taking for the mugs we actually are.

After all, non technical as I may be, there’s something just not just right about this warning message:

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