We had another snow storm in Denver this weekend. We woke up Saturday morning to howling winds and a near whiteout. We could barely make out the house next door or the truck parked up on the road about 1/4 mile away. It was early, but we were thinking it would be a quiet day at home.
Assumption #1: I was sure my son's basketball game would be cancelled, but since it was the last game, I called the league. To my surprise the games were still on. Fortunately he had a 12:00 game, so I had plenty of time to plow the driveway.
Assumption #2: When we woke up, we wanted to check the weather, but our Internet connection was down. We assumed the howling wind, still a good 30-40MPH, had knocked things out, so we went to a backup plan: we checked the local TV news, something we haven't done in years, and I made plans to go to Starbucks that afternoon to work on newsletters (and editorials). About 2:00 in the afternoon we still weren't up and called the DSL provider. After learning that they'd changed our username and password for the router, we got things sorted out and were connected again. Glad we called!
Assumption #3: After having our yard and road covered in snow, I was pretty sure that my first baseball practice would be put off another week. I slept in and almost as an afterthought called the coach at 9. I learned that people that wanted to play were going to practice, so I scrambled to get out the door and to practice by 10. It ended up being a great day and I'm glad I called and didn't stick with my assumption.
In the IT world we often have our viewpoints clouded by recent events. We expect something and end up looking for it as the cause or reason that something occurred. Often this serves us well and allows us to quickly hone in on problems, especially if we have a feel for the system.
But when that doesn't work, even the best of us have trouble stepping back and discarding our assumptions, or at least checking to be sure that they are valid.
Teaching someone to troubleshoot and how to look at a problem is hard. It's almost something of a knack that you have or don't. Which seems crazy because you'd think we could make a list of steps to follow. We could, but with even a moderately complex system we'd end up with 78,426 steps, the first 4 or 5 of which would be to check power cords and be sure things are plugged in. And people would quickly start skipping steps and we'd be back where we are.
Maybe that's why we're here.