So, I’m really, really curious: What happened? No, seriously, it’s enough to make sunspot and solar flare jokes, but in truth I might as well be checking lucky numbers.
• Perhaps yesterday was ominous, because my car suffered a bizarre, one-time symptom by which everything else was working, but there was no signal to the dashboard gauges. No tach, speed, temp, or fuel, but all the lights were working, and the odometer continued counting. It was a quick run down the hill to the grocery store; so the test was simple enough to shut the car off and then start it again, and yes, everything worked fine.
• This morning my bank’s phone system failed; as near as I can tell, when they updated for the holiday weekend, someone forgot a switch. For all the system asked for the usual information to access the account, it simply could not receive, and thus disconnected for lack of anyone to communicate with. Perhaps the problem is the phone.
• To wit, the iPhone lost its preferences and histories today, and could not write new data to either. This was a mysterious symptom not apparently concomitant to an update, and seemed easily enough solved by shutting down and rebooting the phone.
• By the time weirdness hit the laptop it was easy to feel superstitious. But this collapse of basic shell functions like copy and paste was easily enough remedied. The problem was, of course, HTML 5, and as with most such problems these days, shutting down browser tabs or windows running website applications will eventually allow your system to copy information to its own clipboard. So, hey, there’s one that isn’t a mystery.
• The Samsung television can no longer access its own system features. At the very least, the power switch and input selector still work. And the volume buttons. But anything that requires that candy-looking, branded button in the middle of the remote? Sorry, it’s a Samsung, so you can’t have it. The most likely solution is to disconnect all cables including power supply, leave the thing to wallow in its own oblivion for a few minutes, and then put it all back together and turn it on again. And then the system will work long enough to automatically update, and then collapse. Some products are like that, and apparently no part of watching television can be done these days without a software update.
↳ It seems well enough to mention that the Comcast Xfinity platform box freaked out today to the point that it couldn’t find itself, but it’s the cable box, and such is the Comcast experience. No, seriously, these jokers can’t go twenty-four hours without a software update. So, yeah. Comcast. There’s another one that isn’t a mystery. Most days, they’re a lot like Adobe; there’s a bug in the update to the updater. Maybe there is a lesson here about contrast; the bit with a lethal combination of WordPress, Bitly―and, oh, I don’t know, what else was open that, like either of those sites, might have had a say whether or not something gets copied to the clipboard?―is the sort of thing the average user probably will not and, frankly, should not have to expect. To the other, one need not be a genius to figure out the same lardassed HTML5 that plagues everyone and everything is causing a problem with the web browser, but, still, it’s a bit more subtle that reciting a truism like, “The cable box is on the fritz!” Oh. Right. Never mind.
▸ Nor are such rants without their rewards. The thing is that the internet pretty much skewers the phrase, “I think”. That is to say, as first world problems go, “Why don’t you look it up?” is one of the most obvious and pretentious things we ought never say to one another. Or, how about sunspots on Proxima Centauri, a solar wave eruption from a sunspot closer to home, and, if you really need something fascinating to worry about, there is the bit about a solar flare cracking the Earth’s magnetosphere. And, come on, that all is a hell of a lot more interesting than anything I might whine about. Then again, neither did I bother looking up my lucky numbers.
Mohanty, Pravata. “GRAPES-3 indicates a crack in Earth’s magnetic shield”. Tata Institute of Fundamental Research. 1 November 2016.
Munroe, Randall. “All Adobe Updates”. xkcd. #1197. 10 April 2013.
Wargelin, B. J., et al. “Optical, UV, and X-Ray Evidence for a 7-Year Stellar Cycle in Proxima Centauri”. arXiv. 11 October 2016.
Yulsman, Tom. “Scientists snare their first ever observations of a solar wave erupting upward from a sunspot”. ImaGeo. 29 October 2016.