Working on the Dark Side – Part 5


Chaos Management. That term is such an oxymoron! As if anyone
could manage what is intrinsically unknowable as well as
impossible to control.

Yet we are all called upon to do such things, aren’t we?
You know, if you have been reading these monthly postings here at, that I have been working on the Dark Side. I work in a
great and productive company. I am lucky to be surrounded with
really good people here. The only fly in the ointment is that all
of us must use Microsoft’s OS and their Office suite of software.
For us there are no options here, or Plan B, or anything around
that can rescue us when it all hits the fan. Believe me, when you
use Microsoft products, it always hits the fan!

Part of the basic structure of Chaos is the occasional Nodes we
call Impossibilities. Sometimes in trying to manage the Chaos,
you will strike one of these, or rather, they strike you.
Lately, there have been such Impossibilities in my life, both at
work and at home. (Isn’t this true for all of us right now?)

At work, we must be productive. Competition demands it. We work
for a customer, a Branch of the US Government. One of the things
that is absolutely essential is that what we do for them must
work on their systems. Failure there is fatal. Nothing in our
contract allows for that.

Along comes our friendly Microsoft Upgrade Person, who is
demanding that our company sign expensive new Licensing
Agreements. (Didn’t we just do this a couple of months ago?)
Those Licenses also include mandatory upgrades of everything we
use. OK, so maybe those upgrades are less secure. Perhaps they
require much more personal information about each of us. These
new upgrades to an early prerelease version of WindowsXP might
even secretly police each of our computers to see where we go,
and what we write, and what software we use that is not theirs.
You would be amazed at how normally clear headed people can just
sign away all their computing rights for an upgrade.

My PC is to be upgraded too. No choice in the matter. It is a
done deal. Alarms went off in my head the first time I sat down
to the new system. “Hey, none of my old files will open!” (!!!)
Oh No! If I cannot open these files, then that might mean that
all the new files I work on will not run on the Government’s

Sure enough, very quickly we all found out that we have a major
and fatal problem. See, the Government is not required to upgrade
their software like we are. They are exempt, and Microsoft is
smart enough not to try and make them upgrade their Windows2000
OS and their Office2000 applications just yet. The Government
still tells Microsoft what to do, at least in some areas of life.

That is great, but it is not great for us who are building
products for the Government, because suddenly we cannot
communicate, nor can we share files between their Office2000
applications and our new and improved OfficeXP apps.
That means we are dead meat. We go screaming to Microsoft, to get
them to put Office2000 back on our computers so we can go back to

“I’m sorry, I can’t do that Dave.” We just had a HAL moment with
our local Microsoft guy. He seems incapable of understanding why
we would have a need to go backwards.

“Look, we will pay for the upgrade, but we are putting the old
Windows2000 OS back on our machines, and reinstalling the old
Office2000 software suite on all our PCs.”

“You are not allowed to do that. We own that software, and you
will not be allowed to go backwards here.”

“But our customer’s computers are no longer compatible with ours.
They did not upgrade, and now we cannot do our work.”

“That is not Microsoft’s problem. You work it out yourselves.”

Well, we did make a work around. Some bright person among us used
StarOffice on his PC, and found that our old files would not only
open, but they could be read by our customer, the US Government.
Hooray! We are saved!

Or at least we are until the MS Gestapo gets wind of this, for
everything in our contract with the Government and with Microsoft
dictates that we use only MS software to do our work. But that is
a crisis for next week or next month. At least now we can get our
work done.

Chaos Management, at its best!

You see, Chaos Management is really the management of
Impossibilities. There are a lot more of those around us today
than we ever imagined there could be, arenât there?

My country is in great pain. We have been struck as never before
in our history. People are responding, and they are managing much
better than I would ever have thought they could.

The world wobbled. It is still wobbling, even now. No one is as
sure of the future as we once were. Yet I see people rising to
the occasion, filling roles none of them imagined they could

I see people doing much more than that. Long lines at blood
donation centers. Money and gifts given by strangers. People
meeting together in stadiums and churches, praying and weeping
openly. If someone had said THAT would happen in our country, I
would have said it was an Impossibility!

Chaos Management requires you to do those things you did not
think was possible to do just a few days before. More

I used to thrive on Chaos. Attempting to manage it was a great
game, and never boring. Lately, I do not think that way.

I mean, I commute 250 miles each week down to Sandy Eggo from my
little home in the Upper Mojave Desert. I love it up here, but
even this place is not exempt from Chaos.

Our little church just sort of died recently. Too few people, too
many of them retired, and all the young families got transferred
out from the nearby Navy base. So now where do we go? There is a
denominational church in town that is almost a viable
alternative. More good people, friendly and accepting. So we go
there now. Yet I will never completely subscribe to a few of
their doctrines, nor will I ever wear their name. I am “this”
kind of a believer, not “that” kind. (Yeah, you don’t need to
ask.) Still more Impossibilities.

How much Chaos can I take in my life? How much can you?

In a world gone mad, where people and nations are choosing sides
for a very possible World War Three, there are also all the other
sudden Impossibilities of life that so many of us must face.

Perhaps it is a marriage going bad, which to us was something
impossible to conceive of before.

It might be the sudden loss of friends, family members, parents
or children in accidents or battles.

Perhaps you lost someone in the bombing of the World Trade
Centers or the Pentagon. Even our little town lost one person
there. Impossible!

Perhaps the ordinary resources and everyday paradigms that we
depend upon might no longer be there.

The good old faithful Mac that we know and love is not the
computer we once knew. Its OS is new and different, but that is
required for the continued survival of Apple in the future.
Oh, I know Apple will survive. I still have faith that one day I
will work on a Mac again.

I also know, and am convinced, that America will survive. It will
win over Terrorism eventually.

Even Microsoft, as capricious as it is, will not always be the
Evil Empire that it is now. History tells us that nothing stays
the same, if it tells us anything. What goes round will come
round, and every foe will get their just desserts – eventually.

So, what does your heart tell you? Some things in life are worth
fighting for, aren’t they?

Fight for those things that are worth your best effort!

Do your best to make those things right again!

Take back your office from the Dark Side.

Fight to make your country free from fear once more.

Work hard to make your world free from tyranny and fear at the
hands of violent madmen.

Fight the Good Fight to make the world a safer place to live for
every man, woman and child in it!

Fight for your right to have privacy where you work.

Fight to keep the computer nazis from taking over your workplace.

Fight for what you believe in!

(You and I have lots of choices here, don’t we?)

We live in Chaos. Chaos contains Impossibilities. We fight those
things with new Possibilities and Hope.

Our daily battle is not against the Chaos, but against those
Impossibilities that come our way. In those battles, it is
ourselves that we must overcome, which is our lack of faith in
our ability to do the Impossible.

This is where we must exercise Faith, and consider something as
Possible, which we never considered before. That is how we face
all the Impossibilities.

These past few weeks, we have watched in amazement all the
ordinary people who were doing extraordinary feats of heroism and
self sacrifice for utter strangers. Somehow they found that one
thing to do that was suddenly possible.

I am comforted by this, for that means that if they can do those
kinds of things in their interaction with Chaos, then so can I,
— and so can you.

Choose your battles well. Know which ones you can win, and which
ones it is better for you to walk away from. This is also a part
of good Chaos Management.

And for the battles that choose you, and when you must tackle a
sudden Impossibility, have faith that even in this, you will
overcome. People as individuals always do, and no one is more
surprised by their survival than they are.

Yeah, I work on the dark side. So what? That has NO parallel with
all that I have seen recently in New York and Washington D. C.
where people faced utter madness and hatred with courage and

I must laugh at myself after all, because sometimes here it gets
to look like a movie scene about the war between freedom loving
Americans and Nazis, played out in some gray business Ghetto.
Working for the Dark Side is also a bit like the watching a
comedy of the Keystone Cops. Surreal!

You know, right now I actually miss that recent world, where it
was just Bill Gates who was the meanest man around, and where
only Microsoft was the worst enemy we ever had. Don’t you miss
that too?

The fact is, that world we knew is gone, (such an Impossibility!)

Yet even in this new and fearful world we must live in, each of
us must buck up and face our own daily enemies of freedom and
liberty, even if it is just with those annoying nazis in our

Write me, and let me know how your battles are going, and how you
are dealing with your own Impossibilities. I would really like to

Thanks for your time.

Be well,
Roger Born

Roger Born

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