Sunday, February 10, 2013

What To Do When Things Change

A few weeks ago, you all saw me post pictures of my daughter going to the screening of the Puella Magi Madoka Magica movies. In the process, she received a poster from the movie, and I thought it would be fun to get it framed for her, like we did so many times before for so many other things.

The way this used to work is that we would go down to the mall, and there, prominently displayed, would be a place that would have thousands of posters or art prints. These places are famous for probably decorating thousands of college dorm rooms and first time apartments. The Salvador Dali, Michael Parks and Pablo Picasso prints that were on everyone's walls in the 80s or 90s mostly came from these places. I used to go to them regularly, get something framed up, spend about $40 or $50 to do it, and get it within an hour or two (sometimes a little longer, but rarely).

I say used to because, a couple of weeks back, I wanted to go and call up one of these places. I looked online... and realized that all of the places I used to use for this purpose don't exist any more. They have all either gone out of business, or they have gone totally online (which is great if you want to get something they have in stock). If you want to get something custom framed (i.e. something that you already have), now you're left with just two options. The first is the Aaron Brothers model, which does do cool stuff, but it's way overblown and really expensive (and you can add in other custom framing places that do the same) or you can go to Michael's art supply place, which does do some framing things, but they take a long time to do it (a basic dry mount process, no framing or covering, for $50 required a two week wait, or they'd charge me $20 extra to expedite it). Needless to say, I went with the less expensive option, and it should be ready this Thursday.

My point with this is that we seem to not realize the things that we have or how much we like them or care about them until well after they are gone, and we remember that we need them. Testers, how much of your knowledge and skill set do you still rely upon from several years back? How much of it still applies? Are you going to be able to adapt when that thing you know how to do suddenly becomes obsolete, or is no longer available in a needed format? While my example of getting a poster framed may seem silly, it's really something that goes on all the time, and is more common than we like to believe. The reason we don't notice it is that we often just transition to other things that we use, and don't give a second thought any longer to what came before. For common use items, this isn't so weird (I don't think anyone is really bemoaning the loss of the 8 track tape, for instance). When we lose access to things that are less frequent, but then we remember them and can't use them any longer, that's a little more frustrating. 

To this end, I think it might be wise to have a regular rotation that we do, an occasional inventory of the skills we have, their relevance, and where or when we might be able to use them. This way, we won't find ourselves totally blind-sided when we realize that the hip thing we learned and were good at no longer fits into the rest of the industry. 

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