Thursday, 20 September 2012

Because that's not how technology works

It's been a little while since I've ranted about IT stuff, so I'm just gonna make this entry short and sweet.

You know how in that little-known film, Hackers (it's ok if you've never seen it, I'm pretty sure it's not terribly popular), they have these great visual representation of the file systems and servers that the protagonists go through with their h@x0ring wizardry?

Tron: The Better Version Because of Angelina Jolie

Ye-ah... I hate to be a party pooper, but that's not actually what those look like.

I'm sorry. I put content or trigger warnings on my other posts - I should've put this under a spoiler or something.

And you know how in shows like CSI they can take pictures from security cameras and blow them up and use fancy algorithms to catch a clear glimpse of the killer's face? Those don't work exactly like that, either. 

If you start off with a low-resolution photo like this:


If you zoom in directly on the person's face, you're not going to get a school-photo-quality shot. You're going to end up with something more like this:

That's the guy, officer! He's the one stealing all my mushrooms and squishing my turtles!

Why does that happen? Because if the photo is taken at low resolution, then there isn't enough information in the image file to clear it up any more. It's like me telling you that my social insurance number has a 5 in it. Good luck extrapolating the rest with woefully incomplete information.

This sort of scenario comes up a lot when you work in IT. Users who have little to no idea how the technology they use works, see tv shows and movies, and assume that some of that movie magic can happen in the workplace, too.

Now, I admit, technology is advancing and Apple is doing a lot to rock people's expectations and imaginations. So, something that isn't possible today could be possible tomorrow. If you're using that new technology, and not trying to apply new expectations to software released before today's software developers were born.

Hmmm... where is the touch screen... touch screen...

If you're not technologically savvy and want to ask your IT support people if it's possible to automate your Outlook to do your taxes and take your dog out for a walk, it's worth a shot. But kindly believe them and don't treat it as a personal failing of theirs when they politely say "No. Not at all. Please stop asking. And no, you can't get your wife to fax your lunch to you."

Please and thank you.


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