Work has kept me extremely busy over the past few days. Ever since I sponsored a newly-arrived family last week, I have hardly stopped working. The presentation in Cheongwon shortened my weekend by half a day, and on Monday I spent the entire day playing catch up. Today was a quieter one, but it grew hectic again toward the end of the day. At times work feels like a never-ending multitude of firefights. Once I put out one fire, another one (or two or three) flares up. One moment today was particularly humorous. I was busy finishing up some paperwork when a colleague came into my office asking for assistance. Just as she opened her mouth, the phone rang. I politely told her, "Just a moment," and tried to answer my phone. Just then my cell phone also rang. Then my boss came in with something I wrote, giving me his approval to forward it to the "Powers that Be." So I grabbed the document from my boss, picked up the phone and asked the person if I could call them back, answered my cell phone (wrong number), went back to help my colleague, and then called back the person who had just called me on my work phone. I then e-mailed the document my boss approved to the "Powers that Be." All this occurred within a span of about two minutes. Ever had a day like that? It’s not always busy at work, but lately the previous example occurs much too frequently. Perhaps it’s because the lazy days of summer are over and the buzz of fall has arrived. I have a Pocket PC personal digital assistant I use to help me manage my long, rolling to-do list, but right now updating it feels like yet another thing to do. My e-list is so far out of date that it’s no help at all right now. I just have to keep a mental tab of everything I need to do and hope that I don’t overlook something really important.
Sometimes work takes a lot of negotiating and persuasion. Yesterday, someone came in with what seemed like an unachievable request. They have helped a close relative stuck in Korea for many years and simply wanted our help in putting them in touch with someone about their situation. I lent a sympathetic ear, and although they were pessimistic that I could do something, I made a phone call and referred the person to someone who could help them. They were extremely grateful. I could have blown them off, or told them, "Sorry, I can’t help you." But I did my best and helped them achieve a happier result. Today I had to make a very difficult call to someone who wants to run our cafeteria. The cafeteria has been on hold pending the processing of his application. The vendor is very frustrated because there is nothing they or I can do at this point. I followed up with vendor’s application and told them that I would have an answer for them within two weeks. The vendor was angry at first, but after I reasoned with them, they settled down and were resigned to let fate run its course. Sometimes negotiated endings are happy, sometimes unfortunate, and sometimes unresolved.
Note to Wade3016: Well, of course you don’t think Apple is a pioneer. Why would you? 🙂 Sure, Apple did not invent the computer, or the mouse, or the monitor. But think of all the cutting-edge technologies and designs Apple has developed over the years. Apple was the first to eliminate the need for short, cryptic file names (nowhtimean.doc?). Apple was the first to introduce a translucent, self-contained computer called the "iMac." Apple pioneered the PDA with the Newton, and it was the first to cut a deal with major recording companies to legally sell MP3 downloads. Apple pioneered many of the desktop icons and interfaces common in Windows-based today. Apple has been a big technology pioneer since the 1980s. Its problem has traditionally been twofold–Apple has failed to successfully market many of its innovations, and it too often insists on having strict control over its products. That’s Apple CEO Steve Jobs’ fault. It’s part of his persona. Sometimes Jobs is just what Apple needs; sometimes he dominates Apple’s culture too much and makes crazy decisions. Case in point–Apple began licensing iPod technology to Hewlett Packard to make HP-branded iPods, then it suddenly pulled out of the deal. Even though iPod now dominates the MP3 player market and is a tech darling, MP3 player competition is coming on strong. iPod will eventually lose its dominance so long as Apple insists on selling MP3 downloads on iPod.com that only play on Apple-made iPods. Don’t be too hard on Apple, though. Its stock is up 200% since September 2004! You can’t say that about Microsoft’s stock in recent years.
As far as Google, I again have to emphasize that what is innovative about Google is its approach to content delivery, not its software. Google is pushing content from the Web to the desktop through search and aggregation, while Microsoft is pushing applications and content from the desktop to the Web. I know the Sidebar concept is not new, but there is no other technology company today that I know of extending the Web to the desktop and basing it on the concept of search and customizable content like Google is doing on a scale so grand as Google. I don’t know what Windows Vista will look like, but I’m positive that it will not be a content-delivery program. It’s an upcoming operating system. Microsoft may bundle in a content-deliver feature, but based on Microsoft’s past ventures into content and media, I’m not convinced that Microsoft can out-Google Google. Content delivery will be nothing more than a bundled feature in Windows.