An Open Letter

Dear God,

I have been a faithful client since around seven or eight years of age. Prior to that, I was a sort of involuntary client if you will. I have tried various service plans, and for some years now opted for the "Pre-Pay" option which suits both my economy, and my mode of usage.

Please don't take offense at my very direct, personal and familiar tone. While we use formal language with an employers, chiefs of state, and so on, there is a threshold of importance after which it seems more appropriate to use the language I would use with my most dear friends. Or if you prefer, I speak to you as I would speak to Bill Gates, Steve Jobs or whoever runs Google these days. After all, you are so public it's as if I know you, and you of course know me absolutely.

Regrettably, I have come to write you having passed many fruitless years in communications with Customer Service. While they have been ever so helpful, and always polite (even when I, in exasperation, lose my temper), my problems seem to go unresolved. In talking to other clients I have often heard that many problems arise due to the shoddy work of subcontractors, who try to maximize profits at all costs. You would know better than I the truth of these stories.

I have been asked for my client id number many times, but I have yet to see any documentation which would provide me with such a number. Probably my invoices are still being sent to some old address from my childhood (I moved around a lot). As I am still a US Citizen, I can provide you my Social Security number which will I hope, allow you to find my dossier:


SS# 1XX-XX-XXX6.

Speaking of subcontractors, I can understand (and commend) the decentralized approach your organization has taken to servicing such a very large client base. I imagine that when all goes well, turn around time is greatly reduced, and everyone agrees that time is after all money. Or something.

On the other hand, when things do not go well, one cannot help but feel that the system is in effect too impersonal. While all the marketing material (By the way, to whom may I demand to keep my information from being given to third-parties ?) stresses that I am a valued client, I admit that after several decades of demanding a copy my service contract, which I have still never seen, it begins to ring hollow. So I kindly ask you to refrain from returning this matter to whatever subcontractor is responsible for me : in all likelihood it will only complicate the process.

Now that we have gotten all the niceties out of the way, I would like to make some general comments about your products. Myself I have been active most of my career in design, planning and sometimes development. And no, I am not looking for a job : I deal very poorly with hierarchical organizations and dislike too much procedure.

First, there is this problem of the hypostasis. I am sorry to just drop this turd of Ancient Greek on the table like that, but the best English translations : "existence", "instantiation", etc. don't really do the idea justice. For my example below, I will use the word "instance", which is found in compiled executables (the command "strings - filename" is extremely useful to those who would know.)

I didn't see anything in the EULA (End User License Agreement) that prohibited it, so I did a bit of disassembly and remarked that there is a clearly a point where :

/* Create an individual, then let a bunch of crap happen to it. Detach

and leave the object for garbage collection after the object or a caller

invokes ->destroy() method. */

 

Living instance = Person->create();

 

while (someUnknownCondition == true) {

 

instance.GenerateRandomEvent();

 

instance.detach();

 

}

I cannot provide you with the line numbers for the above, due to the proprietary, monopolistic, nature of the operating system. Have you heard about the Open Source movement ? Google it.

I think most problems reported by your clients come after the detach() method is invoked. Clearly, as I can self-reference we can know everything was fine in the process up until that point (er, by the way, I am not sure Java was the best choice of language. For future versions, consider Pike or at least Perl.)

Having taken the time to explain the above, I realize finally that no doubt my problem with Customer Service is that I explain things in terms which are way too technical - No doubt a common problem with do-it-yourself type clients. They are no doubt more prepared for questions such as, "Why do my crops fail ?", "How can I escape an abusive husband ?", "How can I avoid persecution at the hands of all powerful state actors ?", etc. whereas my problems are, no pun intended, simply Greek to them.

All things considered, perhaps it's best that you just ignore this letter.

Any one of your subsidiaries (I am sorry to have to tell you, some of them are not the best of people) might see any action on my behalf as some kind of favoritism or endorsement, which would no doubt make matters worse in light of your extremely "hands off" approach to management.

In any event, my compliments on the product up until now, and I look forward anxiously to the day when I can download the next version.

Respectfully Yours, Me

PS. I tried the (15 cents per minute!) Help line 1-XXX-XXX-XXXX, and their clues were useless at passing my current level. Someone needs to have a few choice words with these people !

©2011 - C Ewen Mac Millan