Tale of the mechanical virus
August 27, 2007 10:32 AM   Subscribe

A mechanical virus has broken out at Google. And the response for evil hardware is pretty much the same as for evil software. How entertaining.
posted by Brockstar (43 comments total)

This post was deleted for the following reason: post is a bit meh, and brockstar is a contributor on the blog -- mathowie



 
A broken pin on a cord. Yawn.
posted by WCityMike at 10:38 AM on August 27, 2007


Kinda more like a prion, wouldn't you say?

(Wikiped: "Prions are believed to infect and propagate by refolding abnormally into a structure which is able to convert normal molecules of the protein into the abnormally structured form.")
posted by dontoine at 10:39 AM on August 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


Mad Mac Disease!

Should we next expect calls to slaughter our herds?
posted by CheeseburgerBrown at 10:40 AM on August 27, 2007


dude needs to go dig ditches for a few hours.
posted by boo_radley at 10:41 AM on August 27, 2007


Is this a "virus" in the same way I can "hack" my life?
posted by basicchannel at 10:42 AM on August 27, 2007 [12 favorites]


I think it's more than a broken pin on a cord, it's a replicating broken pin on a cord.
... but its not new. Mainframe standard interface cables used to do this all the time. One bent pin would mesh with a good pin and bend it. 'This cable's no good'. Plug another. 'This one's not working either'. Repeat...
posted by MtDewd at 10:48 AM on August 27, 2007


Entertaining? I know tv isn't that great these days, but really...
posted by shinynewnick at 10:51 AM on August 27, 2007


Is this a "virus" in the same way I can "hack" my life?

What pisses me off most about that is I think the term "mod" would be more appropriate in most of the sentences in which they use "hack." I had a spectacular recent example, but then I forgot it because I had to go hack my drink (Read: Get more ice).
posted by CitrusFreak12 at 10:53 AM on August 27, 2007 [4 favorites]


That's kind of cool. Prion-like too.
posted by Artw at 10:54 AM on August 27, 2007


At first I thought it was just a bad adapter killing the laptops. But the laptops go on to infect other adapters, so that's pretty neat. Maybe not enough to alert the internets about, but then I've blogged about more boring things.
posted by DU at 10:58 AM on August 27, 2007


Y'all are old fogeys, I hope you realize that.
posted by smackfu at 10:58 AM on August 27, 2007


It's interesting because it's a realization of a problem that could have been centuries old, except hardware interchangeability hadn't existed as such until about a century and a half ago, with the rise of mass production. And standardization of freely interchanged parts (switchboard plugs, electrical plugs) were so heavily engineered that they couldn't really break without the damage being obvious.

If the hammer of somebody's Colt rifle got damaged, was removed and later installed in another rifle, which began damaging hammers that were tossed back into parts bin and then reinstalled in other rifles, American history might've turned out differently. But it didn't.
posted by ardgedee at 10:58 AM on August 27, 2007


So do blog posts that are interesting enough to someone to get the person to pass them on count as viruses, too? Your post infected my website!

How about pot holes? They break wheel after wheel after wheel just like a broken adapter pin!

You know ideas are could be thought of as self-replicating, too. Everything's a virus!

For the record, this is meh.
posted by oddman at 11:08 AM on August 27, 2007


oddman, pot holes would only count if the broken wheels could then create pot holes...
posted by Pope Guilty at 11:13 AM on August 27, 2007


See also: Click of Death. Zip drives, don't miss 'em.
posted by exogenous at 11:13 AM on August 27, 2007


mehme, n. an idea transmitted like a virus that isn't very interesting.
posted by grouse at 11:15 AM on August 27, 2007 [15 favorites]


Beware the mechanical virus! Protect your Difference Engine with Dr. Babbage's EngineUtilities! Guaranteed to keep your cogs clean!
posted by lekvar at 11:22 AM on August 27, 2007 [2 favorites]


PC users kick back in relief, aware that they dodged the bullet on this virus.
posted by drezdn at 11:24 AM on August 27, 2007


What's wrong with you people? This is utterly, utterly fascinating!! It's a poor reflection on your curiosity about the world and your interest in the world and how it works that you don't find this interesting, especially if this is a new concept to you. This is something I could never have expected or predicted, i.e. something completely and totally new to me. That is valuable! BTW, the potholes thing is not analagous because a broken wheels don't immediately form new potholes every time you drive your car on a road...
posted by mokey at 11:24 AM on August 27, 2007


THIS IS AMUSING.
posted by ~ at 11:24 AM on August 27, 2007


or: WHAT SAID MOKEY!
posted by ~ at 11:27 AM on August 27, 2007


Also, this guy calls himself a "UX designer" WTF is that? Is that some ubernerd 2.0 speak for "UI designer"

A little ironic googling tells me it's "user experience". Gag.

It's a poor reflection on your curiosity about the world and your interest in the world and how it works that you don't find this interesting, especially if this is a new concept to you.

I find it slightly interesting, but the problem is that for people this is not a new concept at all, in fact it's an old concept. Some of the posters here even experienced this with older connectors.

Once you understand something, it sometimes turns out not to be so interesting, and frankly people who are all "gee willikers!" about stuff that really isn't so interesting is annoying.
posted by delmoi at 11:28 AM on August 27, 2007


Mad Mac Disease!

Should we next expect calls to slaughter our herds?

posted by CheeseburgerBrown

First time I read that I thought it said: Should we next expect calls to slaughter our nerds?
posted by micayetoca at 11:32 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


You may not know this, but if you yawn in a crowded room other people will start to yawn, too. In fact, I may never have yawned at all until sympathetically illicited to do so by, say, a yawning stranger at a bus-stop or a teller at my bank. Truth is, I don't know who gave it to me, but I guess that's what I get for my promiscuity. So now I have this yawn-virus thing that I keep unintenionally passing on to those around me. Once I became aware of the ease of transmission I tried to keep my yawns private. I quickly found that using my hand as prophylaxis wasn't sufficient; transmission was still more or less assured. I started dashing into the closet to yawn, or diving quickly behind a bush when I felt one coming on. This had the unintended side-effect of causing the 'gasp' virus to evidence itself in some people, so I quit. It took a while to get it right, but now I keep my yawning in check with regular exercise, a healthy dose of self-control and a Pavlovian self-conditioning regimen of slapping myself in the face that I stick to religiously.

Only, this thread fucked all that up. Now I've passed the yawn virus on to two of my office-mates. Thanks a lot, Brockstar.

Pft.
posted by Pecinpah at 11:32 AM on August 27, 2007


A little ironic googling tells me it's "user experience". Gag.

Wait, you've never heard of UX but you know how to google ironically? Talk about not appreciating the fruits of a movement.
posted by contraption at 11:33 AM on August 27, 2007


Was coming here to mention Click of Death. For those too lazy to skim exogenous' link to the Wikipedia Article: on Zip Drives, a bad disk could more or less slice off the read head of the drive; the broken read head would then cut an edge into any disk put in the drive, and that edge would lob off the head of another drive, and so on. Of course, you would put in your disk, say "Oh crap, it's not working," and immediately run to another computer in your office or house with it, or see if your friend could read it on their machine.

So boo to the naysayers. It's a fascinating concept.
posted by rafter at 11:34 AM on August 27, 2007


Another example of retronaming something.

I swear, the older I get the less new things are out there but the more terminology I need to learn. The basic principles don't change, just what we call them.
posted by Dagobert at 11:34 AM on August 27, 2007


Wait, you've never heard of UX but you know how to google ironically? Talk about not appreciating the fruits of a movement.

Since you're an expert, what exactly is the difference btween UI design and UX design? Other then sounding more 'customer focused' like the 2.0 cluetrain version of using 'utilize' when you mean 'use'.
posted by delmoi at 11:37 AM on August 27, 2007


Gosh, it would be even cooler if the site actually worked and didn't throw a 500 error. Perhaps it's spread?
posted by Samizdata at 11:38 AM on August 27, 2007


That 500 error has happened to me about a dozen times this morning, Samizdata, making me suspect Google's got some other mechanical troubles today. YouTube was balking, and this guy's site seems to be Google-local, too.

Anybody else having trouble in the Google-centered internet?
posted by cgc373 at 11:43 AM on August 27, 2007


Now I've passed the yawn virus on to two of my office-mates. Thanks a lot, Brockstar.

Shit. For some reason that made me lose The Game.
posted by The Bellman at 11:44 AM on August 27, 2007 [1 favorite]


Looks like that WordPress install saw the MeFis comin' and hightailed it out of town, afeered of the viruses we picked up reading this thread.
posted by mistersquid at 11:54 AM on August 27, 2007


Holy poop, I never knew that about the Click of Death!

For the record, I thought the pst was pretty cool. I like the notion of a mechanical virus. No, it's not earth-shattering, but the fact that it was diagnosed is pretty cool
posted by lekvar at 12:00 PM on August 27, 2007


Since you're an expert, what exactly is the difference btween UI design and UX design?

A UI designer will tell you that your button needs to be 8px from the right edge of the dialog and right-aligned with some other thing, give you an icon for your toolbar, assign proper size and spacing to individual elements, check for appropriate use of fonts and colors, ensure that your elements are accessible, and generally make sure your interface looks and feels nice.

A UX designer will tell you in which circumstances giving an error message is better than graying out the OK button, which order of pages will most help the user get through a complex wizard, whether launching a child dialog is better than embedding the controls in-place, check that message boxes have logical responses, and generally design a set of logical behaviors that help users understand what's going on and what the consequences of their choices are.

I don't know how you would confuse these tasks.
posted by 0xFCAF at 12:05 PM on August 27, 2007 [3 favorites]


For some reason that made me lose The Game.
Thanks. I was geezing about 3330 disk drive crashes in the 70's, but this link completely messed with me.
Time to re-IPL (I mean reboot).
posted by MtDewd at 12:19 PM on August 27, 2007


Aint that long since calling oneself a "UI designer" would have generated harumphs. Misplaced hostility. The only irritating part of it is abbreviating "experience" with an x.
posted by ~ at 12:25 PM on August 27, 2007


I would rather this post was about viruses. But I'll live.
posted by radgardener at 12:30 PM on August 27, 2007


As in, like, actual viruses. The RNA type things.
posted by radgardener at 12:32 PM on August 27, 2007


I used to run a small school that taught using macs, and the same thing happened there.

What was interesting at the time was the process of figuring out what was happening, because before realizing that it was something as simple as a series of bent pins the situation was definitely exhibiting viral behavior in spite of the extreme unlikelihood that anything "virus-like" could be passed from computer to screen.

So it would probably make for a better blog post if the writer had described the viral aspect before giving away the solution, so to speak. In any case, it's a neat little story. Does everything in the blue really need to be earth-shattering?
posted by nobody at 12:38 PM on August 27, 2007


No, nobody, it needn't be earth-shattering, but it needn't be a single link to a blog post either.

Furthermore, not everything that fails to occur to me is inherently interesting when it's brought to my attention. Please, that would be an awful way to go through life.

Also, damn it! You made me lose. You bastard.
posted by oddman at 12:48 PM on August 27, 2007


Once you understand something, it sometimes turns out not to be so interesting, and frankly people who are all "gee willikers!" about stuff that really isn't so interesting is annoying.

I understand you.
posted by srboisvert at 1:01 PM on August 27, 2007


...what exactly is the difference btween UI design and UX design?

User interface design and user experience design are different, by definition. Just because it sounds like web2.Wankery doesn't mean that it is.
posted by dammitjim at 1:19 PM on August 27, 2007


He calls himself a UX designer because that's what Google puts on his business cards.
posted by Brockstar at 1:44 PM on August 27, 2007


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