Traveling home from Montreal the other day, I was (un)fortunate enough to be on a brand spankin’ new 777 (complete with new plane smell) from Chicago to Denver.
Well, predictably, we sat at the gate for 1 1/2 hours past departure time (another connection already missed) while the techs scampered on and off the plane conferring with the pilots. Lights, air and other stuff going on and off, engines starting and stopping and all manner of mildly disconcerting things happening.
Finally the pilot gets on the PA and announces that ”…we have to reboot the airplane to see if that clears the spurious indicators”.
That sounded an awful lot like what I tell people to do when they can’t get Windows to work: just reboot it and try again.
I looked around to see if anyone else was visibly unconfortable with this announcement. The pilot up one row was still reading his book - either unconcerned or terrified and being professional. The attendants were still chatty and smiling - more pros - they’re no help. I saw no one else even paying attention. I thought, “Ok, they’re happy with the announcement and blissfully unconcerned that the flight crew and mechanics have no fucking idea what’s wrong with the plane.”
It’s been a mild irritant the last 10-12 years that Microsoft has lulled the lay public into believing/accepting sub-standard software that needs to be rebooted occasionally to keep it working. It now terrifies me that apparently the public in general is okay with the same concept in their airplanes.
I realize that this is really not a big deal (with the plane that is) and the only real issue is that the pilot decided to phrase his
announcement in what to him was the most innocuous way he could. But the fact that it’s become acceptable that complicated
things ‘need to be rebooted’ should be bothersome to all.
As a software developer for over 20 years, I’ve seen a decline in customer’s expectations - they used to demand that everything work like magic right outta the box. And they’d demand that things work forever. Now it seems that recommending a reboot once a week ‘just to make things run better’ has become acceptable, even expected.
I s’pose I should be grateful because this actually makes my job a little easier: near perfection is good enough. But it still indicates something’s terribly wrong in the high tech world - either we’re too lazy to make things right or there’s not enough tiime.
In my experience it’s always time: never enough to finish the job, never enough to do a proper design. Unfortunately there’s always enough time to reboot the plane.
I just hope there’s always enough altitude.