My Windows XP Powered Root Canal.
Everyone seems to like to talk shit about Microsoft. The bashfest of recent years has become an entire platform for the press (even publications like PCWeek seem happy to adopt the National Enquirer’s standard for insightful journalism) and a business platform for the uncreative.
I don’t apologize for Microsoft or for working at Microsoft, quite the contrary. Microsoft, in spite of our faults, is the most significant corporate entity of the modern era, and I’m proud as hell to work here.
True North in many conversations at Microsoft is the core mission of providing technology that improves people’s lives.
When you work with the bits-n-bytes every day, sometimes you loose track of the real impact of how that mission actually find’s its way to people’s lives.
This week I had Root Canals for breakfast.
Last week, I broke a molar. Growing up in the 60’s, it wasn’t deemed so important for boys to have nice straight teeth, so I never got braces, though I really should have. The net result has been a good number of dental problems in recent years.
I went to the dentist on more-or-less an emergency basis. I knew what was coming; another round of root-canals, crowns, and other reconstructive fun.
If you haven’t experienced theses things, then you lack insight as to the empirical research on which modern military torture is predicated.
Spending five hours in a dental chair is an experience to be avoided.
However, it’s better than it used to be. My dentist is a modern technology kind of guy.
First, he has a tool that’s driven by a Windows XP application that allows him to administer Novocain injections at the exact right position and depth. Instead of thrusting a needle in an out at a dozen different locations to maximize anesthetic coverage like the old days (a few years ago) he is able to insert a needle ONCE and the anesthetic effect is complete.
Next, he has a new digital x-ray machine, powered by rendering software on Windows XP. The result? The several tries of inserting razor sharp film carriers, waiting until the film is developed only to discover the location wasn’t quite right is replaced by the use of a digital pallet (with comfortable rounded edges) which is held in place with a small handle and the image is immediately seen. In short – PAIN FREE !
Next, the highlight!
The root canal.
Even objectively speaking the root canal is a barbaric medical procedure. In layman’s terms, after drilling enough of the tooth’s surface away in order to gain leveraged access, a series of alarmingly long circular files is bounced up and down in the center of each root in your tooth in order to YANK the nerves out. (This especially sucks since you generally wouldn’t have this done if you weren’t already in agony – thanks to the inflammation of the very nerves the dentist is abusing.)
At my Techno-Dentist, this discomfort is minimized by a Windows Powered application that lets the dentist see exactly where and how deep the roots are, there-by preventing him from have to “explore my roots in the dark” sort of speak.
With the root canal complete, the coolest software application comes into play. He uses a Windows XP powered 3-D modeling application with digital scanning to “draw” both the crown needed to replace one of the teeth and to design the porcelain prosthetic to repair the other tooth in crisis.
After only a few minutes with the 3-D software he clicks a button to send the designs to a milling machine in another room where my crown and prosthetic are created while I wait.
So what used to be 2 or 3 trips to the dentist and 1 day out of work followed by one or two days of PAIN has been reduced to a morning at the dentist and about ½ the price (though still obscenely expensive).
Instead of spending the afternoon, evening, and next day at hone anesthetizing myself, I left the dentist, went to McDonalds for lunch then drove 3 hours to present at the Rhode Island .NET User’s Group.
Now over on Slashdot, they probably say “so what?”
I say; I saved time, money, and pain and I think about how my children won’t have to go thorough what I did for my first root canals.
Microsoft Developed Windows, Visual Basic, etc, etc, etc, and engendered an entire 3rd party industry of Software Venders who have developed thousands of software applications that make peoples lives better.
So in between cheap shots at Bill Gates and Complaints about Internet Explorer Security, how about once in a while we remember that Microsoft changes the world?