Tuesday, October 25, 2005

First-hand Account of an Urban Legend

It all started about 10 years ago. I moved into an IT role at an air freight company, and started to support a time and attendance system. This thing was written in FoxPro 2.6 DOS (because Fox Software was a local company before MS bought them), had multiple clients running on 386-SX machines, and centralized tables that resided on a Netware 3.11 filesystem.

So, there was always this story (urban legend, actually) that went around the office about when the supervisors were first trained. Despite the application being DOS-based, it did use the mouse to allow for field selection and button clicking. The instructor was in front of the class, and was telling the supervisors how to fill out a timesheet. One of his instructions was something to the effect of "click the button at the bottom with the mouse".

All of the supervisors completed the task successfully except for one. This guy couldn't figure out what he was doing wrong. The instructor walked over to him and asked him to repeat the task to see if they could figure out why it wasn't working. The supervisor picked up the mouse, actually pressed it to the computer monitor, and clicked.

Now, I had always thought that this was truly an urban legend, similar to the Tech Support Horror Stories email chain circulating on the internet. But, at tonight's User Group meeting, I got first-hand confirmation that this really happened...from that instructor himself! Small world.