Thursday, February 22, 2007

The Danger of Public Windows

I've written (and showed photos) of how Windows error messages appear at the airport occasionally. Well, looks like I am not alone with this wry observation. The ever-improving Download Squad blog points out a whole flickr group dedicated to these. My favorite is that one to the right: the Vegas-style video billboard that is frozen for lack of a login screen. I want to see some from the Strip, or a football stadium: when those fail, it must be spectacular. :-)

To be fair, the images are not just of Windows crashes/errors, but embedded systems and NT, as well. The reality is that, the more complex the technology, the more that can go wrong. As we move from dumb phones to cell phones, to smartphones, we had better keep this in mind. For instance, my Palm TX is clearly at the end of it's life: the programs I've loaded into it cause memory leaks, and the Palm OS behaves erratically...until it crashes. How to fix it? Rebuild the Palm (hard reset) and start loading the programs on, one by one. Except the Power button is no longer functional, which is required to do a hard reset. End of life.

Now, take my phone. Right now, it has a frustrating thing where, every week or so, it will start acting erratically. It "forgets" what mode it's in, it replaces ringtones, it deletes photos from contacts...until it finally crashes when a call is coming in, and restarts. Annoying, ain't it? But, the phone was the cheapest Bluetooth phone at the time, so I accept it's quirks. If the iPhone starts giving me OSX crashes, I'll have far less tolerance for the $600 it will cost me.

Any Smartphone users out there seeing this today? Windows Mobile (yes, I have been guiltily lusting after the BlackJack) have this? Treo users?

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