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FileMaker is a registered trademark of FileMaker, Inc. in the U.S. and other countries.

November 2000

Objection, Your Honor
by Brian Dunning

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We've all met Him: the No-it-all IT manager with the massive key ring (and pager and cell phone and Leatherman) hanging from His belt. His role in life, as in business, is to feel important by using any and all authority granted by His superiors to refuse and deny every request made of Him. The purpose of the large, highly visible key ring is to shout His authority to the world: to remind everyone who looks at Him that He literally holds the keys to their environment, that He and He alone is able to provide Ethernet cables, Post-it notes, and bathroom access. Plus a lot of other keys that He just threw on there to make you wonder what other mysterious realms He has control over.

His favorite luxury to deny is Apple Computer and all of its subsidiary products, like FileMaker Pro. Here He has the natural elements working in His favor: Apple is a tiny minority in the business world, not generally accepted and widely maligned. Here is a bandwagon which He can easily jump on and be lauded as correct and knowledgeable and "having displayed brilliant foresight" with little effort on His part.

Should you encounter this anomalous being in your daily business, you may need these tools. He will, as usual, inevitably excrete one or more of the following objections, telling you why FileMaker Pro is not allowed in His department. Here are some responses to fling back at Him, compiled and refined through years of laborious strugglings with such personages.

FileMaker Pro is owned by Apple, and Apple went out of business years ago.

The first thing to understand is that it's pointless to argue with Him. For starters, forget the fact that Apple has enough liquid cash on hand that they could sell nothing and lose $100 million each quarter for the next ten years and still not "go out of business." Behave as if every word out of His mouth is a Heavenly nugget of golden angelic wisdom, and thank Him profusely for the black volumes of foul misinformation which He vomits all over you. Only thus will you win His favor and hope to have Him listen to you.

It's always well to ask His advice on matters and treat Him as if He is the oracle of wisdom He imagines Himself to be. So ask Him, "Since they're out of business and not publishing it anymore, is it in maintenance mode? Are they still supporting it?" He will never look dumbstruck and confounded; He will always quickly invent an answer for any question. So He will probably say yes, no, or come up with something clever like they contracted support out to some third party, etc.

The point is to drill down to His specific objection, which will probably be something like the company will not allow software to be used unless paid support contracts are in place and current. Find out what the penalty is for a violation. He'll come up with something. Then compile a list of software applications that are unlicensed around the office (be sure to include mission critical programs) and include FileMaker on the list. Show it to management, get specific approval to run the programs on the list anyway (or at least authorization to purchase support for them) and then you're in the clear.

FileMaker Pro is not relational.

Never disagree or argue with Him. You will never be in His favor if He perceives that you have any knowledge of anything. Sing His praises whenever you can. Do not wrinkle your brow at this bizarre objection. You will only be waving a red flag at the bull.

Instead, act relieved at the revelation. "Oh, sir, I could never use a relational database. They're much too complex." He will smile pleasantly as a father does when His child has learned to count to three. Assure Him that He is regarded as the only One capable of operating a relational database, and add "We need something amateurish for us beginners to use, without wasting your important time." You'll get to use it.

FileMaker Pro causes computers to crash.

Darn it, He found out about that pesky Set Crash Mode [On] command that someone snuck into a script. Or did He discover the skeleton in FileMaker's closet: that the program itself is dangerously unstable, and cannot keep itself alive in any environment? He may have called 60 Minutes and reported this scandalous release of software...where Darren Terry dresses in a trenchcoat and meets reporters at midnight in a Santa Clara parking garage and reveals in a scratchy voice: "FileMaker Pro crashes people's computers!"

"Good," you should answer. "We're working on a crash detection and recovery routine. We need a program that will crash for testing purposes." You'll get to use it.

FileMaker Pro is not supported by this department.

I always wanted to know exactly what "support" means. Do they withhold charitable contributions to FileMaker Inc.? Do they refuse room and board to FileMaker employees? Exactly what type of support don't they give? And why does this mean I can't use FileMaker software in the office?

I would ask this guy what program He does support. "Microsoft Excel," He'd probably answer. What is the specific nature of this support? Does He paint "Cheers for Excel" on a sandwich board and parade up and down in front of city hall? Does He paint His face, doff His shirt, and drink beer in front of Microsoft's Headquarters pumping His fist? Exactly what kind of support must a company provide to software before its employees are allowed to use it?

Simple answer: "That's OK, FileMaker provides the support."

FileMaker Pro allows users to create their own databases.

Don't immediately answer "Duh! That's why we want to use it." Instead, analyze why He brings this objection. It's because He doesn't want anyone to be able to do anything by themselves, He wants everyone to rely on Him for everything, He wants to remain important. You may suspect that a solution would be to frighten Him with the amount of work you're going to need Him to do if you can't do it yourself. If this is what you think, you are mistaken. He has no intention of doing the work Himself. He'll tell you that you can't do it yourself, but rather must "Put in a request." Any such requests merely disappear into His file of things which He keeps to remind Himself how important He is.

Propose a way to sing His praises. Pretend to have suddenly struck a great idea. Propose that everyone who uses FileMaker Pro to create their own databases will wear a little badge boasting that they've met His tough standards and are authorized disciples of His; privileged appointees who are trained and deemed worthy by Him to use FileMaker. He'll think you're all His adoring little children and will proudly ordain as many of you as He can.

Macs are not supported by this department.

Ah: now we see the wisdom of His judgment, the method to His calculated doctrine. If it works on a Mac, it is tainted and must not be used in this department, not even on Windows: because even that would imply support for that A-word company which "went out of business years ago."

Never mind that you're advocating FileMaker Pro, not Macs. Never mind that this objection is completely meaningless and irrelevant; you will hear it anyway, sooner or later. Act really disappointed (you're giving Him what He wants) and say "Oh, so I have to order a Windows program?" He'll answer yes, and then you can order the Windows version of FileMaker.

Nobody uses FileMaker Pro.

This is the classic "Everyone else is jumping off the cliff, so we should too." This is His philosophy, so it should become yours as well. Ask, in all humility, what specific level of general acceptance is required for the department to adopt a program. He'll probably say that it needs to be part of the Microsoft Office suite of products. Look really confused until He asks what's wrong. Show Him FileMaker's statement of Office 2000 compliance.

This probably won't get you anywhere, but it will be fun to watch Him stammer and backpedal, and the excuse He comes up with will be really entertaining.

We only allow Microsoft products in this department.

Find out what the penalty is for a violation, and then send a list of all managers who have Acrobat Reader or Netscape on their machines.

FileMaker's stock is really low right now.

Believe it or not, I Hear this with startling frequency. FileMaker is not publicly held, therefore it has no ticker symbol, therefore its stock cannot possibly be low. Before you chime in with the reminder that Apple's stock is low and Apple owns FileMaker, let me state that not one person who has made this objection has ever known that Apple owns them. If they did know that, when they claim that FileMaker's stock is low, I would quickly ask "Really? FileMaker has its own stock? I thought they were owned by Apple."

Before the conversation goes too far, remind Him that Microsoft's stock is also at its lowest in years. Except phrase it "Visual FoxPro's stock is really low right now."

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Mar 05 Lies, Damned Lies, and Project Specifications
Feb 05 Pick the Right Tool for the Job
Oct 04 Home Media Server Requirements
Jul 04 Leveraging Your FileMaker Lingo
Apr 04 Technical Support Redux
Mar 04 Enforce Seats in FileMaker 7/8/9 Commercial Solutions
Feb 04 Reinventing the Wheel
Oct 03 WAP: The Technology That Wasn't
Aug 03 Brian Dunning's California Governor Election Platform
Jul 03 Sex and the Single Software Developer
May 03 XSLT: Creeping Out of the Closet?
Feb 03 A Consultant's Guide to Traveling
Nov 02 Adventures of Bat Magnum, FileMaker Consultant
Sep 02 FileMaker at Area 51
Aug 02 FileMaker Terminology
Feb 02 Computer Shunts
Dec 01 Aquabase Alpha & the Consultant's Challenge
Aug 01 It IS the Size That Counts
Jun 01 On the Trail of Sasquatch
May 01 Spring Cleaning
Feb 01 FileMaker Mobile Survivor Challenge
Jan 01 Letter from Nürburg
Dec 00 Performance Anxiety
Nov 00 Objection, Your Honor
Oct 00 Leveraging Convergence: Jargon for the 21st Century
Sep 00 Top Ten Things to Do at Devcon
Aug 00 Aesop's FileMaker Fables
Jul 00 Ten Commandments of FileMaker Pro
Jun 00 Explats Cross Examined
May 00 iMac, Therefore iServe
Mar 00 Valley of the Dollars
Jan 00 Are You Up for a Review?
Nov 99 Tales from the Script
Sep 99 Tech Support Revisited
Jul 99 Moderns vs. Classicals
Mar 99 Nashoba, We Hardly Knew Ye