Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ooh, Those Hilarious Computer Industry Marketers!

Look, I know that picking on marketers is unfair. They have a really tough job, trying to explain the technology they can’t possibly fully understand to business customers and depending on techies to cover their rear flanks. But sometimes, sometimes it’s just impossible not to make fun of them. Because what they say is just so – just so … funny.

I just got an email from IBM that starts out like this: “IBM has announced the closing of its acquisition of Green Hat, which expands IBM's ability to help customers improve the quality of software applications by enabling developers to conduct testing on a software application prior to its delivery.” The italics are mine, all mine. Look, I know what they were trying to say. I know that Green Hat has valuable technology, and it can indeed improve development quality in certain cases. I know that bad grammar played a role. But still …

Gosh, IBM, this is marvelous. I never thought of testing an application before delivery before. What an incredible insight! Maybe that explains why every software application in the world before now has crashed before you can even use it! If it weren’t for the computer hardware that just sits there and blinks its lights, I bet we would never have been able to have such a vibrant and humongous computer industry. Please, IBM, don’t just stop there. Submit this for a Nobel Prize. Turn Green Hat into open source, for the good of all humankind. I beg you – or I will, when I can stop laughing.

Or maybe you’re restricting this to IBM customers. Maybe it’s only IBM customers who have never looked up, never considered the possibility of testing their applications before delivering them. 50 years in the salt mines, never able to get an application to work, always being teased by the developer down the hall who has written a Windows app to add two and two, with the dust and cobwebs accumulating all over you, and now, at last, a ray of sunlight, the mummy arises, the worm turns, and you can write your very first workable application for zEnterprise using Java and JDBC, Web-enabled out of the box, infinitely scalable, but baby steps … to let the entire corporation add three plus three. Oh, the ecstasy!

And the best part is that now I’m remembering all the other screamingly funny computer-industry marketing gems. Perhaps my favorite is a billboard I saw in Boston in the late 1990s, from Sun: “We built the Internet. Let us help you build your Internet.”

Oh, gosh, Mr. McNeally. So that was you in the government all along, pretending to be working for DARPA, physically going out to all the computers in all the telcos all over the world and secretly installing all the Internet software. All those employees at BB&N and CCA that thought up TCP/IP and newsgroups, routing and ftp, they were Sun employees, even though nominally Sun had about five people working for it at the time, supposedly on CAD/CAM! All those techies who did Berkeley UNIX, Mosaic, hypertext, HTTP, and all those administrators who installed them on existing enterprise servers and clients, they were all little Sun robots! It’s a shadow government! It’s the Illuminati! Of course I want you to come into my house and link my two PCs and publish their addresses! I wouldn’t dare not to, because you clearly control everything else in the world … Just give me a moment to stop laughing.

I remember that I actually pointed out that one out to a Sun marketer, back in the day. He was quite surprised, and insisted that it made perfect sense, because Sun had acquired some former BB&N employees. It was very hard to talk to him, because he kept making me want to crack up.

However, aside from their humor value, these marketing claims extraordinaire really do have value to me, and possibly to you, too. No, really. That is a straight face. Let me tell you a story …

Once there was a boy taking biology, faced with a test on which there was a question: When does the female rabbit ovulate? He couldn’t remember the answer. He knew it had to be something dramatic, because he knew that rabbits multiply like crazy – his family had had two in the backyard, until within a very short time of arrival they had gone from two to about 20, and his parents had moved very quickly to get rid of them all before they ate all the vegetation and multiplied again. And so he panicked, and his answer was: upon sight of the male rabbit.

The next class, the teacher handed out the graded papers. But before he did so, he made an announcement. I was grading these last night, he said, and I was getting too tired to finish. And then I ran across this answer – and, without naming the source, he related the boy’s answer to the question.

And so, he concluded, I was so amused by that answer, that it woke me up and I had enough energy to finish grading the papers. By the time the teacher said that, of course, the class was gone – gone to laughter. ROTFL.

And so, thank you, IBM. Thank you, Sun. Thank you, all the hard-working marketers who have ever made a mistake like this. Thanks to you, I can finish this blog post. Thanks to you, I will always remember that there are many amazing new technologies yet to be discovered, that will continue to enthrall me and improve the lot of humankind in the years to come. Like software testing. Like an entire global cloud infrastructure built by one person working for the Illuminati. Like female robots that ovulate on sight of the male. Like marketers that make it all happen without writing one single line of code.

It’s a wonderful world to write about. I’ll start writing immediately. Just as soon as I can manage to stop laughing.


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