Archive for the ‘Thoughts/Reflections’ Category

Hacking Vs. Troubleshooting

Wednesday, July 30th, 2008

When I was in grade 11, I bought an old VW bug. Occasionally things went wrong with it. Did I complaint to VW or blog about it?
Of course not, the car was 26 years old, and there was no world-wide-web in 1989. If something went wrong with the car, I just looked for cheap solutions to fix it… Like when the gas tank rusted through, pulling a gas tank from a similar beetle in an auto-scrap yard. Or when the steering went, re-attaching it by bending and tying a coat hanger around the steering shaft.
Fast forward 7 years to 1996. When some software package wouldn’t work just right on my Mac, did I complain or blog about it? Basically same answers to the VW… On one occasion I contacted Apple Canada to mail me some printer drivers on floppy disc. The most public complaining I might have done would be at a Mac Users group.
Fast forward to the 2000s. When personal hacks, troubleshooting fail to resolve issues, where do I go?
I Google error codes/messages and find solutions other people have gone to the trouble of posting to the web.

I am grateful for this, and yet don’t take part in the online community as much as I think I should. I don’t have a high enough rank on Yahoo Answers to rate others’ answers, don’t have trackbacks linking my WordPress blog to others, and most times can’t even bother finding the right online Forum/BBS to post my questions to.

Despite that I do occasionally post technical issues, like bugs, or just usability issues with web-applications/software in my blog or some where.

Why do I do this?
I do this with the hope that someone from the company that owns that site/software will address the issue in future releases, and that people with similar issues will stumble across my posting and perhaps offer useful work-arounds. But I stress occasionally. Most times, I just look for the hack or work-around or even just giving up using the software for awhile, hoping that others will complain about it and it will get fixed the next time I come back. And I think this “pragmatic” method of letting the next person worry about an issue is how most people handle the perceived problems with computer software or life. So I guess the reason I titled this Hacking Vs. Troubleshooting was that I find myself seeing the need for more “trouble-shooting” and “fixing” in the world and yet realizing the economic realities that in 99% of the cases, I have to leave issues/pass the buck and let it be “somebody else’s problem”.