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20101003

Dymocracy (True Story VI)

Entry 1718 posted in: 6. Self-Made Monsters


Resistance is futile I can be such a prick sometimes and I wouldn't like to be one of my own colleagues.

Because Dell delivered a truckload of computers at the place I pretend to work I found it a pretty neat idea to stick some labels on the machines. I knew there had been a Dymo label maker in our company before but it had disappeared in the mist of time.

Time to call the office equipment department. The office equipment department (OED), in our company, is regarded as the earthly equivalent of a black hole. It is a mysterious place known for sucking in things, like paper, tape or pencils, with almost no chance for the paper, tape or pencil in question to ever appear again. It is a constant fight for our people trying to balance on the office equipment department's event horizon hoping that something might fall out.

One sunny day, a few years ago, I had purchased some laptops but because I would be away for a couple of days I wanted to secure these. So I strolled over to the OED and asked one of the wayward witches if I could put the laptops in their safe. "No way.", was the answer, "There is no place in the safe because we keep our staplers in there." I immediately believed them as it is easier in our organisation to get a new company car than a stapler.

You need to know there have been several stapler wars going on for the past decades in the company I work for. In one of these battles I emerged as a freedom fighter although the OED general staff probably will define me as an Al Qaeda inspired terrorist. One day a stapler squad team, lead by one of the witches, sealed off the building to do a physical inventory. They entered my office and saw my stapler on the desk. "Aha! A stapler!", they triumphantly sneered. Before I could make any move they produced a paper. "Sign this!" I laughingly asked what the paper was for and was explained, in the same tone US marines use when they unexpectedly break into an Afghan hut and ask the owner what he has been doing at his own place, that I had to agree that I was in the possession of a company stapler and that I would be physically and economically responsible if this piece of equipment ever went missing.

I refused. This was clearly a reaction they didn't expect. I took the stapler that had been serving me for the past decade, caressed it for a while, and handed it over to the squad leader. "Here.", I said with a sob in my voice, "I don't need it anymore." I haven't had a stapler since. (Although you probably won't believe me, I assure you this is a true story.)

But, like I have written some paragraphs ago, I now urgently wanted an embosser to stick some labels on some computers. Sweet memories encompassed my mind from decades ago when I was still a young boy and one could conquer the world with a Dymo embosser in one hand and a View-Master in the other.

To my amazement it was immediately agreed on that I was worthy of getting this and, probably a record in the history of our company, a carton box with D-Y-M-O written all over it was brought to my office a couple of hours later. I had hoped for something I could squeeze inside my pockets but the box didn't exactly predict good news.

The apparatus that came out of the box could be easily described as a secret doomsday weapon from a Star Wars movie with more buttons than an average jet fighter. It also came with a USB-cable and a message on the box proudly proclaimed that you could type (and obviously print) your labels using your computer keyboard, making the zillion of buttons on the machine somewhat redundant.

I was willing to boldly go where no man had went before and although the Dymo doomsday machine looked pretty ridiculous next to my slick laptop, a bit like hanging a trailer behind a Porsche, I opened the typical white envelop that contained the software cd and inserted it. The installation went smoothly, but something in the EULA bothered me. The first sentence of the End user License Agreement read:

BY OPENING THE SEALED DISK ENVELOPE OR USING THE SOFTWARE YOU ARE AGREEING TO THE TERMS OF THIS SOFTWARE LICENSE AGREEMENT AND LIMITED WARRANTY (collectively, the "Agreement").

What I found pretty weird was that some obviously overpaid and overzealous lawyers of the law firm representing Dymo had decided that shredding some paper to pieces in order to grab a CD already was enough to limit their warranty. Probably they had suffered from a million dollar lawsuit in the past by someone who had cut a finger by opening the envelop. I found the first sentence so intriguing that I read the second one as well, that went:

IF YOU DO NOT AGREE TO THE TERMS OF THIS AGREEMENT, DO NOT BREAK OPEN ANY SEALS OR USE THE SOFTWARE. PROMPTLY RETURN THE UNUSED SOFTWARE ALONG WITH THE REST OF THE PACKAGE CONTENTS TO YOUR SUPPLIER FOR A FULL REFUND.

That one made me laugh out loud and several people from the office hid under their desks because they thought there was a hyena on the loose.

Because: in order to read the agreement one has to open the sealed envelop and insert the CD in a computer.
But: if you do not agree with the agreement you are not allowed to break the seal, but that knowledge is only given after you have opened the envelop.
That is what I call a contradiction.

I am aware that Superman with his X-ray vision can read letters through envelopes, but I doubt that Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster gave him the ability to read texts from a CD, bit by bit, as CD-ROM technology was pretty rare in 1932, so I wrote a letter to Dymo explaining my dilemma.

And guess what. They answered. Dymo told me there was indeed a contradiction in their EULA and added they will ask their legal department to come up with a better version. The rain stopped raining, the grey clouds suddenly disappeared from the sky and a giant golden sun painted a rainbow in the skies.

Just a small step for Felix Atagong, but what a giant leap for the world. And I don't even ask a fee for it.


Other True Stories on this blog:
True Story
True Story (the sequel)
True Story (part 3, the horror returns) 
When in shit, call IT (True Story IV) 
True Story V, Atagong's continuing struggle with helpdesks...