Sunday, July 31, 2005

What Lab Work is Like

"Dr. X and his assistants would gather around whichever subsystem was believed to be farthest out of line and shout at each other in a mixture of Shanghainese, Mandarin, and technical English for a while. Therapies administered included but were not limited to: turning things off, then on again; picking them up a couple of inches and then dropping them; turning off nonessential appliances in this and other rooms; removing lids and wiggling circuit boards; extracting small contaminants, such as insects and their egg cases, with nonconducting chopsticks [Ken actually did have an insect in his vacuum once. It was freeze dried by the time they found it] cable-wiggling; incense-burning; putting folded-up pieces of paper beneath table legs; drinking tea and sulking; invoking unseen powers; sending runners to other rooms, buildings, or precincts with exquisitely calligraphed notes and waiting for them to come back carrying spare parts in dusty, yellowed cardboard boxes; and a similarly diverse suite of troubleshooting techniques in the realm of software. Much of this performance seemed to be genuine, the rest merely for Hackworth's consumption, presumably laying the groundwork for a renegotiation of the deal."

-The Diamond Age, "Hackworth in the Hong of Dr. X"

Neal Stephenson is clearly a man who knows.

I also meant to post a link to Google Moon as long as we were mapping... Make sure to try zooming in. Today, the moon, tomorrow, the whole solar system.

And that's it. The next post here will either be from an internet cafe in a country with funny symbols on its keyboards, or will be at the end of August.


Simon W said...

I was disappointed with Google Moon - when people told me to zoom all the way in, I expected a black monolith...

Anyway, stop posting and get back to honeymooning...

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