Saw something interesting at church the other morning, as the speaker was preparing her message.

A set of PowerPoint slides, for display alongside the message itself had been saved on a USB key, and needed to be loaded on to the A/V computer used during the service. However, when the key was inserted, it didn’t appear under My Computer, making it kinda difficult to access the files.

The immediate response of the person driving the computer was to dive into the control panel, clicking things at random, looking for something wrong.

Someone else asked for my assistance to solve the problem, as we were just minutes from the scheduled start of the service. Grabbing the USB key to give it a try, I was able to tell - by feel - that the key was not plugged in properly.

Turns out that the computer cases bevel was preventing the USB key from plugging in properly - the USB socket was effectively recessed, and therefore inaccessible. Switching to a more accessible USB port on the back of the machine solved the problem immediately.

There’s an immediate - and I hope, obvious - parallel to software development.

It seems that, all to often, we assume that select is broken and spend a heap of time looking for a complex answer to a simple problem.

Sometimes, the simple answer is all we need.


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January 2010