Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Imaginary Hardware:

I blogged once before about how I needed to imagine the existence of unseen hardware, in order to turn my Archos player on and off. The ON button tended not to do anything until I imagined that there was a contact beneath it that was loose inside the case, that had to be pressed by pushing the ON button at just the right angle. I have no idea what is truly under that ON button, but my imagination enabled me to control the player.

Well, my newer Zen player also has unseen hardware that I need to press just at the right angle. This player has a common feature: you turn it off; then later you turn it on, and it picks up playing where it left off. The player is turned on and off by sliding a switch to the left. Recently this feature stopped working. I would turn the player on and it would start playing from the beginning of the current track. I could not imagine what had gone wrong. I had no choice but to manually bookmark the track before turning the player off, an infernal nuisance.

One day, as I turned the player off, I noticed that before losing power, it went back several tracks. For example, let's say I turned the player off in the middle of track 5. Before the display shut down, I saw the player go to the beginning of track 5, track 4, track 3.

I had the inevitable inspiration. The “left arrow” hardware button must be right next to the “on/off” button, inside the player's case. When I moved the on/off slider to the left, it touched the “left” button on the way, because that button had somehow scrunched up a little beyond where it ought to be.

The player is working fine for me now. But every time I use the on/off slider, I'm careful to slide it without pushing it down at all. That way, I avoid touching the unseen “left” button. Once again, I've conquered my player by learning how to operate its imaginary hardware.

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