Asking the Right Questions

Understanding the mind of a computer programmer can be quite difficult and sometimes I forget to ask the right questions. Yesterday, I asked one of the programmers to set me up an account on a Unix machine for a new designer. This was done promptly and I sent the designer details of the account. What the programmer hadn’t done was given the designer the required permissions to change the design! Now I thought this was self evident. What was the point of setting up an account on a machine for a designer if they can’t change the design? The programmer told me that I hadn’t asked him to set up file permissions.

It happened again this afternoon. I was printing a large document which died in the middle with a stack error. I asked a programmer to help me. What I wanted was to be told how to print specific pages of the document from the command line. What I was told was “You can’t fix a stack error – you need a new postscript interpreter”.

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