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True IT rebuttals: DOS, we hardly knew ye

When we published the seemingly silly, yet ultimately controversial, "Oops! True IT blooper #97: DOS, we hardly knew ye", we could have never anticipated the onslaught of user responses it would generate. We've listed some of our favorites in this collection of humorous and brutally honest repllies.

Last week when we published the seemingly silly, yet ultimately controversial, Oops! True IT blooper #97: DOS, we hardly knew ye, we could have never anticipated the onslaught of user responses it would generate.

Some of you offered constructive criticism and your thoughts on the viability of modern defrag utilities. Some of you enjoyed the article but were confused as to why we were being so hard on older IT professionals. A few of you absolutely hated it and accused us of everything from ageism to "being wet behind the ears."

Below are a few responses that we particularly enjoyed reading.

In defense of the defrag
Submitted by David D.

I was working with the same application, and it was acting up severely. After trying every other alternative I could think of, I decided to try a defrag and it worked flawlessly. In this business, sometimes even the oldest and most crotchety of us must accept a solution to a problem for what it is -- a solution to a problem. I have fixed many application errors through defrags over the years and feel that, although the results can be somewhat intangible at times, the defrag tools of today are much more resilient than back in the dark ages of DOS.

But tell us how you REALLY feel
Submitted by Jon B.

The blooper was boring and outdated; the material was uninteresting, poorly written and difficult to read. I read the blooper twice and could not believe it met your quality standard. The most entertainment I got was when I deleted the e-mail.

He loves us, he loves us not. He loves us…
Submitted by Tom G.

The article's relentless association of age with stupidity started to get to me. However, the humorous part of your article is that I, in fact, know relatively young people who feel old in today's workplace like the subject of your blooper. I believe that your well-written article could have been just effective if the label of stupid had been spread a bit broader than the 'over 37' age bracket.

Give me some more to go on
Submitted by Chris C.

You didn't specify the hardware platform the server was running on. Typically, you'd have an Exchange server running on a fairly beefy server with a SCSI controller hardware RAID array. With RAID 5 striping, file fragments aren't something that would be of particular concern. If this data was being stored on a single drive, however, having the data read sequentially should produce some impact.

Desiring a denouement
Submitted by Tammie W.

I have definitely encountered real-world situations, with both desktop PCs and Windows-based network servers, where fragmentation levels had a noticeable impact on system performance. Your story does not reveal whether or not the persistent admin solved his problem with the .pst file. I would have liked to know how he solved the problem, as we relics need all the help we can get.

I kid the forty-somethings
Submitted by Herbert F.

I'm well into my 40's and have no problem keeping pace with the "world of young programming prodigies." I like the article, but was not totally comfortable with the age-related-themes.

Don't shoot the messenger
Submitted by "AllINeed"

I have no idea what you were going on about in that article. Perhaps you should go back to school and learn about binary, COBOL and things that predate even that old nasty DOS that you can't seem to understand. Once you have more than two years of experience, you might understand that everything you are currently using has its structure in the stuff that came out 40+ years ago, before your dad was born!

Well, no wonder!
Submitted by Duwayne E.

There are definite improvements in speed when the hard drives of data disks on NT servers are defragged -- as long as the files are for applications that benefit from contiguous data. If the server is an Exchange or SQL server, the benefits are always less noticeable. Outlook has a utility to compact .pst files that will decrease their size and improve performance.

With (polite) sympathy
Submitted by Odeed S.

In the article the user said that he was copying files from one place to another. This could be the source of the problem! If he had a two-partition server with the .pst file on the first, he could first defrag the second partition and then move (not copy) the .pst file there. Then he could defrag partition one and move the .pst file back before then defragging both partitions a second time. This has worked for me on several occasions. If he is attempting to use Windows 2000 defrag lite for much of anything, all I can say is: poor chap!

Reprehensible irony
Submitted by Martin R.

I have just read your article and was disturbed to discover that the author was referring to a 36-year-old man as being old, wizened etc. I am a 38-year-old IT Professional and the father of two small children. My personal opinion is that there can be no substitute for experience, as long as that experience arms you with knowledge that allows you to look forward with wisdom. Your article was derogatory towards people who are not even middle aged! I find it reprehensible, especially considering that you are in the business of enlightening people.

An exercise in futility
Submitted by Craig S.

If this is an Exchange administrator worth his salt, he wouldn't be wasting his time trying to defragment a .pst file. Everyone that has done any research on the subject knows that .pst files are an accident waiting to happen if they get very large, and it being fragmented is the least of his worries.

Just when you thought it was safe to go back in the rest home
Submitted by Paul H.

My boss is the 62-year-old great grandfather of the coffin-dodgin' Exchange admin who has just amused me greatly with his problematic .pst. I am regularly subjected to tales of running a network on an eight megabyte hard-disk made out of broccoli and floppy disk drives that cost two year's wages. I also enjoy listening to him string sentences together with the word "system" because he either doesn't know or can't remember what the correct word is.

Allow us to reassure you that we are not rabid ageists -- we simply wanted to use a little humor for the sake of a good blooper. Whether you loved it or hated it, know that we do indeed read every e-mail that comes in and encourage you to keep them coming. As always, e-mail us at -- we may just publish your comments in a 'Letter to the editor' article.

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