Wayback Wednesday: You can’t blame marketing this time

Brute force is rarely a good idea in computing.

Computerworld  |  Shark Tank
Computerworld / IDG

Flashback a few years to when this support pilot fish gets a frantic call from a marketing guy at a trade show.

“He was setting up a graphics terminal to demo his stuff,” says fish. “The show started in a couple of hours and he couldn’t get the terminal to talk to our service.

“After discussing the problem with him, it turned out he didn’t know that he had to plug the serial cable from the modem into the back of the terminal. When he said to me, ‘What’s that?’ I knew I was going to have to do a lot of hand-holding.”

But the marketing guy follows fish’s instructions, and soon the big terminal is working fine. Marketing guy thanks fish, and then gets back to the job of collecting more customers.

Several days later, the conference is over and the marketing guy and his graphics terminal are back at the office. Fish gets another call from the marketing guy. Once again he can’t connect up the terminal; can fish help?

Did you plug the serial cable into the back of the terminal? fish asks.

I tried, marketing guy says, but it won’t go in.

Fish heads up to the marketing guy’s office to see what the problem is. Sure enough, this time the marketing guy has a good reason that he can’t hook it up.

“Whoever the teardown crew was had no idea that you had to unscrew the connector from the back,” fish says. “Since they had to get out at the end of the show, they literally broke the connector off the back. There was no female part to connect to anymore.

“I ended up having to truck this large terminal to the manufacturer for repair. We charged the marketing department, and we didn’t hear a peep from them when the bill came.”

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