May 24, 2011
Respect stands tall in champions' season
HP once blew up a computer with very high grade explosives, proudly. That Superdome was vaporized, probably. But the happy ending in that film was that an instant cutover of the system preserved all data. Not crowing over a computer as junk, to be sunk as a reef. HP also once wrecked a 3000 while it shot a video. George Stachnik, pitchman of the division, pushed that 3000 off a roof, and there was a happy ending there, too — they booted up the machine they’d tossed off a two-story office building.
But the latest disrespect to the 3000 -- a schoolboy display of firearms online at YouTube -- feels like those years when our Spurs were winning their four basketball championships by playing defense, not being flashy. Preventing scoring was boring. But those four trophies and four banners now gleam and fly in their arena. Boring gets the job done. And as basketball fans have noticed over the last few weeks, scoring drops off during the NBA’s May. Like the 3000’s legendary defense against abuses of flood and fires, the absence of bad times is what we honor. Preventing calamity makes room for prosperity.
I guess if you’ve managed or consulted on one of these 3000s, you’d recall times when even a semi-automatic wouldn’t be enough. This spring I re-gifted a gag called a Tech Sledge, boxed up as a "data processing and technology tool." Just a two-pound wood mallet from the '80s. A gift I had never used, but it enjoyed a featured spot in my old Chronicle editor’s office. My friend Steve, who’s done IT since the ’80s, understood the sentiment in the gift. These days we both consider ourselves part of the old guard. You might, too. For some it's an honor, for others, an epithet.It’s okay to admit your ardor about old guards. Steve Kerr literally is an old guard, even was, during his title days. When he says on a TV broadcast "we might be seeing a passing," he’s not talking about a basketball’s flight. He’s talking about the end of an era. It’s the kind of talk our community hears more often. And yet, there’s always next year for teams. Even hope this year, for some of them on the ropes. As one Laker loss after another stunned sportswriters this year, few scribes would write off LA until the end was more than near — it had to arrive, looking thuggish.
Thugs riddled that 3000 with bullets, shooting up a server no older than others which are still standing watch. The end arrives for every computer’s fans. Even as the short-sighted anticipate it, it's often delayed. Intuit retired its HP 3000s several years ago. This year it bought another company to expand the Quicken empire. Guess which old-guard server was supporting that newest part of Intuit? So another migration is underway, extensive work on a system nobody had in its gunsights.
While I watched the grisly fire foisted on that machine, I felt my 26 years of devotion to a marginalized, underestimated and now-dismissed ideal. Not a moment of those years ever felt wasted, though, not in the company of veterans who marched in the old guard. Your old guard is a playing unit that never needed an automatic weapon to make a point. As champs know better than chumps, making points is what you want to prevent -- if you want to exit the court carrying the honor and respect reserved for the greats in your game.
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