So I’m sitting here at work. I’m supposed to be making a web site for this company. They make valves. I don’t know what kind of valves. I just know they make valves. Of course, they want to include pictures of all their valves, even though most of their customers already know exactly what they need.

They give us these image files, and they’re all in AutoCAD format. AutoCAD is an extremely proprietary 3-D drawing program. Basically no computer program on Earth can read AutoCAD files except–you guessed it–AutoCAD. It’s like a four thousand dollar program, and we do not have it.

The sales department calls the customer and asks them to save it in another format. They do not know how.

Now, if I bought a four thousand dollar program, I’d prob’ly learn how to use it. Heck, I would consider it an honor to read the manual, which must be worth at least three hundred dollars. Of course, I wouldn’t want to get any fingerprints or scratches on it.

The customer asks our sales department to call this other company, who works with them on AutoCAD stuff, to ask about converting the files. I personally call this company. It turns out they are AutoCAD distributors, and they provide free technical support to the valve company. They’ll be happy to show the valve people how to convert their files.

So my boss calls up the customer and asks him to call his own damn technical support and find out how to convert his own damn files. (She didn’t phrase it quite like that, but if I had made the call, I would have.) She tells them to save them as TIFF files, because TIFF is a pretty standard file format, so it should be easy for them.

A couple days later, my boss hands me the new Zip disk from the valve company. I stick it in the network Zip drive, which is located on the other side of the office, because our company is too cheap to spring for more than one Zip drive per department.

The files are there. They’re all in TIFF format. And they’re the crappiest images I’ve ever seen. I don’t know what kind of options were given to these people when they saved the files, but they chose all the wrong ones. The images are schematics for valves. None of the text there is readable (because it’s about four points and not anti-aliased, for those of you who work with graphics), the images are way too small to see clearly, and on top of that, the files contain an incredible amount of white space, and they take up far more disk space than I can account for.

I know these people have no clue what they’re doing, so I can’t really blame them for giving us such bad images to work with. However, I have two complaints…

First, I know that when we get these images up on their web site, they are going to be very unhappy with the image quality and actually blame us for it, when we’re just using exactly what they provided. True that we didn’t have AutoCAD, which made an inconvenient situation, but we’re a web development company, not a 3-D graphics company.

Second, why did they spend four thousand dollars on a computer program and then never learn how to use it? For that kind of an investment, I would at least read the manual, and I’d prob’ly spend another fifty bucks and take a workshop or hire someone to teach me how to use it. Even if I didn’t do that, I would certainly take advantage of the fact that I have free technical support from my AutoCAD provider, instead of trying to get my web development company to call them for me.

Maybe I’m just upset because for the money they spent on a program they don’t understand, I could have bought myself that previously owned Volkswagon Jetta I’ve been coveting.

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