Things I’d Say If I Could

Dear Employee:

First of all, I have no idea how you got hired for the technology-intensive position you occupy. I can understand not being familiar with some of the specialized applications we use here, but with it being 2010 and not 1980, I would have thought that demonstrating at least a basic understanding of how Windows and Microsoft Office operate would be a requirement for employment at this organization. Obviously I was mistaken.

Secondly, many of your issues (at least the ones concerning your computer equipment) can be solved by simply rebooting.  Oh wait, “rebooting” is one of those complicated “techie” words.  Let me rephrase: “Turn your computer off and turn it back on.”  No, not the display; I’m talking about the tower that’s on the floor.

Thirdly, your CD drive will not play a DVD, and whining about it won’t change that fact.  I don’t care if it is work related and you have to see it NOW.  Am I supposed to pull a DVD drive out of my ass? Your director needs to request a quote and if he approves the purchase it normally takes about a week to receive it.

Fourth, all requests for assistance MUST go through the Help Desk, regardless of how incompetent they really are over there. (Something I think we can both agree on.) This is drummed into you folks from your very first new hire orientation, yet you still think that by calling me directly, emailing, or stopping me in the hall your problem will get looked at quicker.  It won’t.  And don’t send me an email at 10pm because your mouse isn’t working and then get all snarky the next morning because I didn’t respond. I do not check email after I leave work.  If you followed procedure and called the frigging Help Desk like you should have, your problem might have been solved then and there, as unlikely a scenario as that is. At the very least they would’ve had the on-call tech get in touch with you.

And lastly, the volume of whining you do has a direct inverse effect on the priority I place on your problem.  Despite what you may believe, yours is not the most important job in this organization and business will not come to a grinding halt because you can’t VPN from home.  If what you need to do is that important, get off your ass and come into the office like the rest of us.

Thank you, and you have yourself a great day!

A New View Of The World

This past weekend I bought a new lens for my camera.  The 18-70mm zoom that came with the Sony was fine for the first year or so, but last November it just stopped producing the kind of results I wanted.  I remember one particular road trip where I became so frustrated with it not staying in focus I simply put it away and stopped making pictures that day.

I even started questioning if it was the camera itself, and was about ready to eBay the whole kit and then after it sold, start fresh with an entirely different brand.

Fortunately cooler heads (Ben) intervened and suggested I start doing some research to see what the problem actually was.  In very short order I learned that the lenses that come as part of a camera kit (from any manufacturer) are generally pieces of crap.  The Sony 18-70 in particular received some extremely unflattering comments.  At the same time, I read one review after another praising the long-discontinued Minolta 50mm f1.7 prime; a lens that could be found on eBay for about $75.

Before throwing the baby out with the bath water, I decided to pick up one of the Minoltas and give it a try.  I figured that if it too was a piece of garbage I could sell it along with the rest of the camera.

Well, it turned out to be anything but.  It was exactly what everyone had been saying: crystal sharp with incredible sensitivity and a beautiful bokeh.  The Sony Alpha body was fine; it was the Sony lens that was at issue.

Several months passed, and with extreme patience I managed to squeeze a few more decent shots out of the zoom, but it was more trouble than it was worth.  The 50mm prime produced beautiful shots consistently, but being a fixed focal length really limited its versatility as a walk-around lens.

I wanted a new zoom with about the same range as came with the camera, but the more reviews I read, the more confused I became. Tamron lenses were great. Tamrom lenses were crap. Sigma lenses were great. Sigma lenses were crap. Everyone had an opinion and at the end of the day they all canceled each other out.  Sony of course offered a wide range of lenses for the Alpha, but after my experience with the 18-70 I was understandably reluctant to shell out any more money on another piece of Sony glass.

I needed the kind of help that only a knowledgeable sales force at a brick and mortar store could provide.  Fortunately, Phoenix still has a few good local camera shops.

I ended up coming home with a heavily-discounted Tamron 18-250 (last year’s model).

Unlike the all-plastic Sony lens, the Tamron is a serious piece of glass (with a much wider zoom range than I had been hoping for at the price point I had settled on) so that’s an unexpected and much appreciated bonus.  After only a few days’ use I’m very pleased with the purchase, but we’ll see how well it ages.  Check back with me in about a year.