Sunday, August 06, 2006

Everything of Importance …

This blog entry is about everything of importance: Man’s search for God, the ever-rising tide of civilization and technology, failure to communicate, constancy in relationships and so on. Please bear all that in mind while I discuss the ON button of my mp3 player.


My mp3 player is old, but I’m nursing it as far as I can, hoping that its replacement will be ever so much better in the far-as-possible future. Actually I almost gave up on it months ago, but I discovered I could download a new Open Source user interface that made it much better. And then, the player started failing to turn on.


When I press the tiny ON button, a little light goes green and then the screen lights up, and soon the player is playing. But I would press that ON button, the little light would go on, and … nothing. So I would press OFF to turn the light off, then hit ON again. Usually the player comes up fine in one of the first four tries, but I’ve turned it on sixteen times to get it to come up. It’s frustrating, time wasting and even a bit terrifying when the thing fails to respond.


Now I’m getting no feedback from the player about what ails it. No beeps, no flashes, no hums. It’s just a question of whether the screen will start working. But I can’t settle for pressing ON sixteen times, every ten seconds, can I? So I’ve got to find a way to make it run better. My first idea was that the LENGTH of time I pressed the ON button would make a difference. I tried a pattern: press ON for a long time; try that again; try a brief press; try a long press. And with that pattern I rarely had to go more than, oh, six tries to turn it on. Not good enough. In fact, I felt the responses to my “durational” presses were too much like random responses. Maybe.


Next I tried to press the OFF button before pressing ON. I might press OFF quickly four times, then press ON. That seemed to work a little better. I might explain that this experimenting has been going on over a two month period. The scientific method wasn’t built in a day!


My newest idea was to try pressing the ON button in different ways. And frankly, that's why I'm inspired to write this blog entry. Not to be proud, but just to shake my head sadly at the irresistable human imperative to try to do something about anything. I've found that using my fingernail to press the ON button at the left edge, and holding it firmly down, makes the player come up the first or second time. Of course, "First or second" means I'm still dealing with a deep, inexplicable mystery. One of these days, if I feel like a renegade, I'll try to find a better ritual.

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