Friday, April 08, 2005


This morning I tried to post something to Blogger (the service that makes it possible for me to edit and publish SadTech). However, every time I tried to pull up Blogger, I would get this screen:

Blogger, apparently, is dead. It has been unreliable for about the last two months -- long delays, flakey behavior, database problems, etc.

But maybe it is not Blogger that is the problem. Maybe the operating system has become unstable. It has been about a day since my last reboot, and typically after 24 hours or so Windows XP starts getting squirrely like this. XP is certainly much better than Windows 98 was, but it is still remarkably unreliable. So, just in case, I try a reboot.

When I reboot, one thing that starts up automatically is Google Desktop Search. The problem I am having with Desktop Search is that, the instant it starts running, it accesses the hard disk continuously. This brings the computer to its knees. I have written to Google and received an automated reply back several days later telling me that I am delusional -- that Desktop Search works fine. I keep hoping it will magically fix itself because I really like it as a tool when it is working. But every day when I reboot, it reminds me that it is not working and I kill it off.

Maybe I need to try Firefox rather than IE. I use these two browsers interchangeably (I would use Firefox all the time except that it is more unreliable than IE). But when I try to pull Firefox up from the Start menu, I find this:

Inexplicably, Firefox has vanished. That's pretty unreliable.

Of course if it had been yesterday and I was unable to get to Blogger, that would have been a problem with Time Warner's high-speed cable connection. It has been failing about twice a week for the last month for reasons that are inexplicable. A service guy is supposed to be out today to look at the problem.

Last weekend, if I had been unable to get to Blogger it would have been because the whole machine was dead. The problem there was a hard disk failure. Hard disks are the most unreliable part of any computer system today.

When we get on the phone to call in for service, we often use our cell phones. But, for no apparent reason, we frequently get cut off during our cell phone calls. The unreliability of cell phones is legendary. So legendary, in fact, that Verizon has spent hundreds of millions of dollars on a huge ad campaign built around the tag line, "Can you hear me now?" The whole point of the ad campaign is to say, "Cell phones suck. They suck out loud. But use Verizon because our phones suck the least."

I think you can see the point -- we are surrounded by unreliable products. They are everywhere. You go to a park and the water fountains do not work. You try to start your car and the battery is dead. You use the toilet at the mall but it will not flush. You go to the airport for a flight but your plane takes off two hours late. And when you get to your destination they have lost your luggage. Every morning in most cities you find yourself at a dead standstill stuck in traffic. And so on. Unreliability is everywhere.

It is probably a pipe dream, but I would like to imagine that by 2050 things have gotten better. Your computer works all the time. So does your cell phone. So does your cable service. And so on. The amount of time that we waste on unreliable products today is sad.



At 9:58 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hear, hear!

At 1:43 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bloggers Pitch Fits Over Glitches

At 3:10 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Life got a lot simpler in my household when we replaced our Windows boxes with Mac OS X. I never realized how much time I spent degunking the machine and repairing problems of the like you describe.

Not to say that OS X is complete nirvana, devoid of any annoyances. But I estimate it's saved at least 10 hours a month or more, time that I could spend working with my computer instead of working on my computer. All the power of a UNIX operating system with an excellent GUI on top. My wife took it, apprehensive at first, but loves here iMac and now spends more time on email, browsing and other tasks that previously were "work" to her.

Windows did make the PC ubiquitous but in many respects, it set the field of computing back 10+ years IMV. All the complexities of using a computer haven't dissipated, in fact, they've multiplied now, and it's a far cry from other advances in technology where you simply turn the item on and press a button or use a steering wheel.


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