Sometimes the tech stuff just gets weird

Sometimes the tech stuff just gets weird.

I understand it when I write some code badly, or screw it up later, which happened the other day when I put in a line about “if the device is a phone, show this footer, not that one” and hadn’t defined the variable for the device.

I sort of understand it when a php include sometimes passes a variable, and sometimes doesn’t. (If there was ever an invitation for bathroom humor…)

But it drives me nuts when software seems to do stuff on its own. I was just wondering why news items on Allpar weren’t showing up in the forums. It turns out that the scheduled “bring in these feeds” program had shut itself off. Or maybe I shut it off in my sleep,… though I really, really doubt that.

feeder - chron

I hadn’t even been in the admin system and there it was, suddenly off. Meanwhile stuff I shut off weeks or months ago was back on. Is there a chron (scheduled) job somewhere that just screws around with settings?

Computer systems seem to be getting to the point where they’re more manageable than they used to be. Where will we be in the future?

  • Complex and practically impossible to understand without an expert (like health insurance or MySQL settings)
  • Complex, but with clever user-facing systems, so you don’t have to worry about the complexity most of the time (like your car’s powertrain controls)

wordpressWhat’s interesting to me is how much effort is being put into the latter. WordPress is one example, though its attempt to be ultra-flexible makes it unpredictable at times. They try to make something very complex, simple.

CPanel and Plesk and Webmin try to make the UNIX and Linux operating systems, along with the software most web sites have, simpler and more manageable. None come close to doing for them what Apple did for digital music players, but then, Apple’s been having a hard time making complex things simple but still flexible and highly usable for both beginners and power users lately. (I won’t say that anyone else has done better, other than Apple of the Past.)

Anyway, if you spot something weird on Allpar, let me know, because sometimes I don’t know about it, and sometimes “stuff just happens.” Maybe it was an overnight security update, maybe it was me making a mistake, and maybe it was Loki doing some mischief.

Does this sort of thing happen to you, or is it a matter of kludging together too many systems?