Whom to blame

Once upon a time I was called to help a company that was ready to throw all FrameMaker and Acrobat out the window. Thankfully for all involved, a manager was hired that had been a client of mine from another company, and he recommended me to his superiors.

The company has several buildings and many floors, with Frame + Acrobat distributed in pockets -- maybe 200 seats. And they did indeed have problems everywhere you turned: crashes, trashed files, pages would not print or would not distill. You name it, they had it.

The first thing I did was to take quick look at some machines. Frankly, from the point of view of someone (me) who likes to keep a "clean-running, sterile" machine, their machines were a mess. These folks had damaged fonts, different levels of printer drivers on machines, and so on. Again, you name it, and all of it installed by I.S. (man, they hated me!)

To make a long story short, I took one pocket, claimed it as my lab, and nearly gutted it. I threw away nearly everything their I.S. department did and then I redid it myself. This included removing an reinstalling printer drivers, fonts, Acrobat, and Frame.

After all was said and done, and after many nights in a hotel next to the office, they once again ran smooth.

All problems were traced back to configuration or to user error (lots of the latter!). But was is most important about this missive is this: These folks used the argument "we have 100 seats, we have 99 crashes, so it MUST be the software." The argument appears valid on its face, and indeed, even Star Trek's Mr. Spock might say "it sounds logical." But in the end, things were not as they seemed.

There are two points to be made here. First, rants of the nature "software X just doesn't work" or "X is incompatible with Y" won't fly. There are too many thousands of working installations that say otherwise.

The other point is that without some technical sleuthing, rants don't work either. If you say: (1) here's the problem; (2) here's the setup; and (3) here's what we've tried to do to fix it ... now THAT is how you get the attention of support, and THAT is how you get things fixed.