Urgent Matters

Sooner or later, everyone needs someone to light the path

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Expert advice can make just about every task easier. With that in mind, UC and IWCE are presenting webinars on Dec. 5 and Dec. 12 focusing on FirstNet, narrowbanding and LMR-LTE convergence, as well as system design and deployment best practices.

A very long time ago, I bought my first VCR. I was very excited about this event, because I had waited a long time to get one. You may recall that when VCRs first hit the marketplace, they were very expensive. This is typical of just about every technological breakthrough — the cell phone, laptop and high-definition television marketplaces all went through the same thing. When cell phones first emerged, for example, conventional wisdom was that they would be affordable only to doctors, lawyers and stockbrokers — it never was envisioned that they one day would become a commodity purchase.

Typical or not, the cost of a VCR at that juncture was a problem for me, because I am penurious by nature, which is a fancy way of saying that I'm cheap. Fortunately, I am not prone to instant gratification, so waiting until the price became more reasonable wasn't a huge problem.

When I finally brought one of these babies home, I was very excited. Speaking of babies, I had one of those — the real kind — by this point in my life, which is why I needed the VCR. I had discovered quickly what an enormous time-drain the little darlings are — but now that was no longer an issue because I could record my favorite programs and watch them later! (Sleep deprivation did become an issue, but I won't get into that here.)

Once home, I quickly liberated the VCR from its box, plugged it in and started to poke at it. (It's what guys do. What we don't do is read instructions or ask for directions — at least not at first. This is part of our DNA). I managed to turn on the VCR and play a video. But I needed to program it in order to unleash all of its wondrous power. That's when the wheels came off the cart. No matter how studiously I read the operating manual, I got nowhere. This was aggravating, to say the least. I am no dope, but this experience made me feel as if I was. The manual was written in English, but none of the words made any sense to me — and the diagrams were useless.

Finally, after a couple of hours of this — I do not give up easily — my frustration level spiked and I decided to go back to the store and ask them how to program the thing. I felt sure that this was a better solution than tossing the contraption out the third-floor window of my apartment. I also believed that they'd likely know how. I was right — within moments of entering the store, all of my problems went away, as the salesman who sold me the device showed me exactly what to do. It took all of two minutes — I kid you not.

The moral of this story is that it often is far easier, and far quicker, to have an expert explain what needs to be done and how to do it, as opposed to trying to figure it out for yourself. This is why we periodically convene communications technology experts in webinars--something that we have been doing in years. There are a slew of them archived at www.urgentcomm.com/webinars, and more are being planned for 2013. I urge you to take advantage of this free resource. I am confident that you will find it time well spent--and you can't beat the price.

Updated on 1/3/2012.

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Insights from Donny Jackson concerning the most important news, trends and issues.

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Donny Jackson

Donny Jackson is editor of Urgent Communications magazine. Before joining UC in 2002, he covered telecommunications for four years as a freelance writer and as news editor for Telephony magazine....
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