HardReboot

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"Maybe a complete interrupt might restore the both of us back to some functional state again."

My blog software failed again last week. Hardly a story worth repeating (again), since it fails about annually with great regularity, each time utterly abandoning me. I can never remember how to snap photos of the offending screen and must relearn the jargon tech support insists upon when receiving a fresh problem report. I decided to post the issue to the User Forum, reasoning that other users must have encountered this same paradox, but after a few days without a response, I gussied up an email directly to tech support, which resides in Brighton in the UK, which guarantees an extra day's delay before I receive a response. My routine had already been disrupted for four full days by then. I hoped to receive something before the weekend.

Late Friday afternoon, I picked up tech support's response, which suggested I might quickly install their latest build, a Beta version not yet deemed ready for general distribution.
I carefully partitioned off a space to try this option and quickly determined that it did nothing to resolve my apparently unique difficulty. I responded to tech support, knowing that the conversation would be suspended until the following Monday. I'd gone days without writing my daily essay by then, neither refreshed nor renewed by the disruption. I write daily because I've never known myself to be much more than twenty-four hours away from the sure conviction that I've lost whatever writing skill I might have once possessed. It's not so much that I lack self-confidence, but more that writing seems to be one of those skills which exhibit no sign of presence absent fresh examples. One might demonstrate past skill as a writor, if I may, someone who once wrote, but that hardly demonstrated any ability as a writer, one still actively engaged in the practice.

Saturday night, I dreamt of my hard stop, imagining in my dream that I could completely resolve the difficulty by simply restarting—rebooting—my laptop. I am nobody's technician, though I can almost reliably figure out how to change batteries in a remarkable array of devices. Just yesterday, I figured out that loosening three tiny Phillips head screws could gain me access to the waterproof battery chamber in a sprinkler timer. One of the heads was mildly stripped. I gained access anyway, and replaced the ancient batteries inside. The device immediately responded with a gratifying buzz. I tried without success to follow this initial success by resetting the clock, but the case featured no mystifying icons outlining that procedure. I passed the damned thing on to The Muse to reprogram, mostly to get it out of my sight before I attempted to reprogram it with the business end of a claw hammer.

Sunday morning, I rebooted my laptop and the blog software returned to its accustomed operating state. This told me that the software had always been teetering on some insubstantial foundation, This information hardly needed further confirmation. All software teeters on such foundations. It's complicated stuff filled with usually inconsequential contradictions. Software handles paradox no better than any of us humans do, often much worse. The restart button serves as the modern version of the hammer our forebears used to tap some sense back into their mechanicals. Software just needs to be cut off from its sustenance every now and then. This imperative hardly qualifies as a problem. As they say in the software biz, this difficulty has feature written all over it.

In my life, too, I sometimes encounter some existential contradiction, a barely believable state I have no idea how to escape from. I tend to cower and fester a bit in the face of these, instinctually understanding that decisive action rarely improves these situations. One must be cut off for a spell, isolated into a pre-technology state providing an opportunity to reflect and reconsider. The apparently hapless user also experiences a prolonged HardReboot of their relationship with electro-mechanicals. A few days fretting might lead the frustrated user back to the most basic of all responses. If the machine's confounding me, I could just turn off the damned thing. Maybe a complete interrupt might restore both of us back to some functional state again. This tactic works often enough that I really should remember next time. I will not remember, for it seems to be the nature of the user as well as his systems to forget about the existence as well as the utility of an occasional HardReboot to bring everything back to home again.

©2019 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved









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