Finagle’s Creed

I worked for many, many years in the Information Technology (IT) business.  Throughout my checkered career (and there were many checkered moments), I encountered all sorts of problems and ways to solve them.  There was never a shortage of either.  What I found was that over-simplification and under-estimation were an essential part of almost any solution.  A few well-known sayings addressed some, but not all, of the solutions posed and are well-known to anyone who has existed and survived (existence and survival being the keys) for any length of time in this business.

First and foremost is Murphy’s Law.  Murphy’s Law says that anything that can go wrong will go wrong … with a corollary that it will go wrong at the worst possible moment.  It is not so much a description as it is an expectation.  Expect nothing and you won’t be disappointed.  There are numerous sources but its current name is attributed to Capt. Edward A. Murphy, an engineer working on an Air Force project at Edwards Air Force Base in 1949.

Parkinson’s Law is an adage first stated by Cyril Northcote Parkinson as part of a humorous essay published in The Economist in 1955.  Parkinson’s Law says that work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.  He derived the dictum from his extensive experience in the British Civil Service.  Parkinson noted that the total of those employed inside a bureaucracy increased each year “irrespective of any variation in the amount of work (if any) to be done.”

The Peter Principle, formulated by Dr. Laurence J. Peter and Raymond Hull in their 1969 book of the same name, states that “in a hierarchy every employee tends to rise to his level of incompetence.”  The principle holds that in a hierarchy, members are promoted so long as they work competently.  Eventually they are promoted to a position at which they are no longer competent (their “level of incompetence”), and there they remain, being unable to earn further promotions.

All three rules – Murphy’s Law, Parkinson’s Law and The Peter Principle – have been bandied about for decades and properly cover part of the commonly expressed view of projects under most situations.

But have you ever heard of Finagle’s Creed?  Probably not.  And yet Finagle’s Creed correctly describes every information technology project that was ever worked on or will be worked on.

Finagle’s Creed states:

  • The information you have is not the information you want;
  • The information you want is not the information you need;
  • The information you need is not the information you can get;
  • And the information you can get costs more than you want to pay for it.

Those of you in or associated with the information technology business, regardless of how complicated or straightforward the project you encountered, can tell me if this does not cover every project that you have ever worked on.

Finagle’s Creed, you heard it here first.  You’re welcome.

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Postscript:

Do not be confused by Finagle’s Law: Science is truth – don’t be misled by facts.

Imponderables vs. Alien vs. Predator

Yet more imponderables to amuse you (waste your time):

  • Do radioactive cats have 18 half-lives?
  • How come wrong numbers are never busy?
  • Do people in Australia call the rest of the world “up over?”
  • Can a stupid person be a smart-ass?
  • Does killing time damage eternity?
  • Why doesn’t Tarzan have a beard?
  • Why is it called lipstick if you can still move your lips?
  • Why is it that night falls but day breaks?
  • How come abbreviated is such a long word?
  • Why is it that when you’re driving and looking for an address, you turn down the volume on the radio?
  • Why is lemon juice made with artificial flavor, and dishwashing liquid made with real lemons?
  • Why is the third hand on the watch called a second hand?
  • Are part-time band leaders semi-conductors?
  • Can you buy an entire chess set in a pawn-shop?
  • Daylight saving time – why are they saving it and where do they keep it?
  • Did Noah keep his bees in archives?
  • Do stars clean themselves with meteor showers?
  • Have you ever imagined a world with no hypothetical situations?
  • Have you ever seen a toad on a toadstool?
  • How can there be self-help “groups”?

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Stuff Happens!

I have stuff.

The stuff is everywhere.  It grows in closets, shelves, drawers, along bookcases, in the attic, the basement, the utility room.  I have books, tax forms, collectibles, old photographs, old phonographs, Rose Canton china, pottery, pictures, magazines, schoolbooks.  I have wine bottles, half completed kits of medieval instruments and trains and Wright Brothers’ flyers.  While there are no bean bag babies or Barbie dolls or model cars or Coke Cola paraphernalia, there are Hummel figurines (from my mother), old salt shakers, Stieff Rose pattern silver, antique tiles and old decoys.  The list goes on and on.

Where did all this stuff come from?  I secretly believe that, while I’m sleeping, some stuff copulates with other stuff and produces even more stuff.  I have not yet gotten to the point of an extreme hoarder.  Not yet.  You can enter my house and believe that you have entered the home of a normal person with normal tastes.  You do not have to climb over anything to get from one room to another.  However, if you hazard the chance to open a drawer or veer into a back room or the space above the garage, then a whole new and abnormal world awaits you.

There are Christmas ornaments, stained glass windows, trebuchets, Chinese roof tiles, Mongolian entry doors (Was I ever in Mongolia?), antique Roman glass and whiskey barrels.  I have my notes from college courses.  You never know when someone will quiz you on whether or not you really passed that exam in Inorganic Chemistry and, voilà, you produce your college notes to show that, yes indeed, you aced the course.  I am prepared to defend myself with supporting documentation against the Internal Revenue Service in case they ever dare to question me about the$2,342 (USD) I made in 1972!

Logic dictates that there is no need for old suitcases whose rollers no longer roll or traveling alarm clocks that run 30 minutes slow every 24 hours.  You don’t need a Jolly Rodger flag or one from the last Tsar or the Detroit Yacht Club.  On the other hand, who knows when a pirate or a pretender to the throne or the Commodore may appear suddenly at your door and, there you are, with no flag to run up the flag pole, which you also keep.

There is every reason to believe that you need a battering ram (from the Baltimore, Maryland police department, no less), brass knuckles, 18th century scales (from Poland), seven different types of wine bottle openers, Rummer glasses, shark jaws, a blow fish, a cannonball from the shipwreck of the Atocha, sundials, an antique Egyptian eye of Horus, a picture of the Enola Gay, antique easels (to hold antique manuscript pages), an English copper ash sifter, a miniaturized still, Japanese prints, antique embroideries, not to mention a full size Fairbanks grain scale in case you need to measure out two or three hundred pounds of grain.

Oh, to start over again in a simpler life, with nothing more than the clothes you’re wearing, a knapsack and your toothbrush.

Of course, then you need a few reference books (or your kindle), your PC (or your iPad), your cell phone, your HD TV, your home theater, your hiking gear, your scuba equipment, your opera glasses, eating utensils, night vision goggles, snake bite kit, a bazooka, emergency rations …