Two hot takes (so to speak):

Auto-updaters shouldn’t run when the system is really busy.

And installers that check to see the whether the same or newer version is “already installed” should either be really thorough about what they’re checking, or offer to do a repair install anyway.

Overheat!

I’d fired up a game of No Man’s Sky, which even after redoing the thermal paste and adding another case fan still pushes the limits of my system’s cooling, especially if I forget to wait for all the background processes to finish loading on Windows startup. I left a space station, landed on a planet, started mucking around with the structure I had found, and hit a waypoint pole to save again—

And the system shut down.

I turned it back on to get the fans running again and help cool off. Which worked. But when I logged in, I had a bunch of errors with Google Drive. Apparently its auto-update launched during my GPU-intensive game and overheated it enough to reach the shutdown threshold.

Fortunately, I’d just saved my game — or so I thought.

I spent about half an hour trying to fix Google Drive before I decided to just go back to the game for now.

No Man’s Sky picked up seamlessly…at the previous save. Maybe the write cache hadn’t been flushed yet or something. I’m glad I only lost about a minute of gameplay, though… I’ve got several hundred hours on this save file, and I’d hate for it to get lost or corrupted!

Anyway, back to Google Drive. I couldn’t reinstall it because I couldn’t uninstall it, and despite my efforts I couldn’t remove enough traces of it for the installer to be willing to run. You can read the whole reinstalling Drive saga on my troubleshooting site, along with the taskbar that lost its icons halfway through.

I eventually fixed it by copying the installed program files from another system and running the uninstaller manually. That resolved both the taskbar icons and the Drive installer being willing to run.

Then I dragged myself into bed.

Yeah, it was a fun Saturday night. 🙄

Comic-Con 2011 ticket sales crashed under heavy load shortly after going online.

I think we’re seeing another shift in the process of getting to Comic-Con.

It used to be that, as long as you were aware of the onsale dates and could both plan your trip and pay for your tickets far enough ahead of time, getting those tickets wasn’t a problem. Sure, the show might sell out months ahead of time, but it would take weeks or months to get to that point.

Now, people are looking at preview night already being sold out, and looking back at their last experience with hotel reservations, and freaking out: We can’t just buy our tickets this week – we have to buy them NOW, as soon as they go on sale, or we won’t be able to get in!

Get enough people reacting that way, and it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. Fear of a rush ends up creating a rush, just like fear of a run on a bank often triggers one. Add in the live progress bars as a feedback mechanism, and it snowballs even faster.

Until it crashes the server, anyway…

(Originally posted as a comment at The Beat.)

A few weeks ago, I stopped at the post office on the way to work. As I walked to the door, my eye was immediately drawn to the big hole in the wall where, apparently, a car had crashed into the building while trying to park.

Whatever vehicle had done the damage was long gone, and the area around was cordoned off with yellow caution tape. Since I like to take pictures of weird stuff, I snapped a photo with my cell phone. (No, I didn’t cross the tape; it’s just not visible in the frame.)

This morning, I stopped at the same post office again. This time, my eye was drawn to a new addition to the facility:

One of these bright yellow posts stood in front of each parking space along the building. You can still see where the concrete has been spread around the base, and absolutely no paint has worn off. Clearly someone decided not to take any more chances with wayward cars!

I put the Pushing Daisies soundtrack CD in my computer and it rebooted. Fortunately it took less than a minute….

Of course I tried it again to see if it was a fluke. Same thing. Then I decided to try with another CD. Apparently any audio CD crashes it. Shows how often I use CDs these days.

At least the DVD-RW drive works. IIRC it doesn’t have CD-audio hooked up, but the player seems perfectly happy to just read it digitally.

I guess I’ll have to set aside some time on Sunday to figure out what’s causing the problem. It’s a bit late tonight, and tomorrow’s going to be busy!

  • Usability question: Is it better for a form to auto-detect the credit card type from its number, or have the user select it as an error check? # (Consensus on Twitter & Facebook was to have the user select it.)
  • In case you were worried, the world will NOT end on this date (or any other) in 2012. #
  • Yay, the PC isn’t totally crashed! Grabbed a current backup & now running chkdsk. Work last week, home this week. Pattern? #
  • Chkdsk is FINALLY running. If you get a “cannot open volume for direct access” error trying to run it on Windows XP, try running msconfig and selecting a Diagnostic startup. #