Tales of the Rampant Coyote

Adventures in Indie Gaming!

All These Smart Devices Sure Can Act Stupid!

Posted by Rampant Coyote on May 20, 2016

Chapter 1:

I have a great new gaming laptop. With Windows 10, and a solid state boot drive. With an HDMI cable, it connects to my “Smart” TV if I want to play some games on the big screen (rare, but it happens) or play a video off the computer. It also serves the usual purpose of giving a PowerPoint presentation at a convention (something I find happening surprisingly often these days), or run a game demo with a bigger screen. I even take it with me on a couple of short trips to use it as a DVD player (yes, old school) in a hotel with mediocre WIFI. It has a pretty bad downside, though…  it doesn’t play audio through the HDMI. That’s … weird, but I adapt.

Chapter 2:

My Smart TV automatically (automagically?) updates. Which is nice, as it can now stream from Amazon again.

My laptop also updates (a few times) with new and improved Windows 10. Yay.

Except… suddenly the two no longer connect. Which was extremely frustrating when I was depending on it at the beginning of the month. WHOOPS! Nothing I tried… for an embarrassingly long time of tinkering with people waiting on me… would work.  The computer refused to recognize the TV existed.

Chapter 3:

Cue happy ending! Another update or two later, and suddenly the computer not only interfaces with the TV again, but will play audio over the HDMI cable! Life is good…

… Until I need it again, perhaps.

The Moral of the Story:

Auto-updates are of the devil.

Well, okay. There’s more to it than that. And as a software engineer who understands the true nature of bugs and testing, I recognize that it is a hard problem. Nevertheless, when our technology and our tools become unreliable, there’s a problem. I’m glad the event in Chapter 2 wasn’t a major demo where I’d spent hundreds of dollars on a booth or something. That DOES HAPPEN, sadly.

But when things work one day, and don’t work the next, because of “smart” technology or automatic upgrades, I begin to wonder if how badly those things are named.

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