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That Was Mildly Terrifying

By which I mean, my computer blue-screened for the second time in two days earlier this afternoon; the first time was about 20 hours after I applied Patch Tuesday patches, and the second time was about 20 hours after the first time. Each time it came back from the restart, but the second time, I went into all the programs that auto-restarted themselves in their prior states, closed out all their work, exited them, and cleanly shut the box down before restarting.

And after 10 seconds of the Windows 10 logo and the spinning progress circle, my computer stopped pumping out a video signal to my monitor. Oops.

It was running, but I couldn’t see anything. After figuring out a keyboard sequence to request a shutdown with no visual feedback, I rebooted — Windows logo, spinny circle, then no video. I did it again, and this time I interrupted during the logo three times, which is how you get to Safe Mode these days. Fortunately, telling Windows to roll back the latest stability release seems to have done the trick, but it was — as the late Graham Chapman once said — a bit of a brown trouser moment¹.

So why am I going on about computer woes that are obviously resolved, other than perhaps to pad out today’s word count? Because things fail.

Case in point: in my EMT sideline, I am required to keep patient records in electronic form so that the patient can be tracked easily through the medical system (possibly facility to facility) and population-level studies can be done on anonymized data. On duty night, I went to sign my crew into our chart service and was presented with an error indicating unscheduled downtime. Probably about 30% of the EMS systems in the country were cut off from their charting capability². The next day, I got the following [mildly redacted] email:

On Tuesday, February 9, 2021, [ ] experienced a severe outage for approximately two hours, beginning at approximately 4:15 p.m. MST (UTC – 07). Services were not restored until 6:27 p.m. MST. All charting capabilities were halted during this outage.

What You Need to Know
All [ ] customers were affected.
No action is required, but some PCRs that were in progress at the time of the outage may not have been saved and should be reviewed for completeness. There was no loss to saved data. [ ] is 100% available and fully returned to service.

What We Are Doing
On behalf of the entire staff of [ ], please accept our sincerest apologies. [ ] has a long record of minimal disruptions and we are dedicated to maintaining the highest possible level of reliability. We have assembled a clean-room of subject matter experts who are forensically investigating to determine the root cause. We expect to have the results within the next few days. At that time, we will undertake a plan of action to prevent that issue from repeating in the future. Please be assured that we will not rest until we are sure of a permanent solution.

[ ] commits to provide industry-leading, world-class solutions that are trusted to deliver the reliability you need for critical operations. We have not met our commitments with this outage and truly apologize for the disruption to your service.

Of course, if you experience any lingering issues or find further anomalies, our Support team is available 24/7 to help. Please do not hesitate to reach out for additional assistance by phone at [ ] or through our Customer Community.

[ ]
Vice President, Customer Success & Operations

That is how you do it. A clear indication of what they know, what they’re doing, and a commitment to not let it happen again. Clear lines of communication for any concerns, with the name of the party taking responsibility.

Compare, if you will, the utter noncommunication around last year’s Eisner’s fiasco; yes, I’m still mad about that. Or to cite a more recent example, Box Brown discovered that a cannabis company stole one of his Andre The Giant character designs and has built their entire corporate identity around it.

Now you may recall that Brown is generally in favor of cannabis, but he’s said that even if they had contacted him ahead of their use he wouldn’t have agreed to this use of his art because he believes (rightly, to my reading) that Mr The Giant’s estate is the one that should be able to say how his likeness is used. The weedcorp has been stonewalling Brown, so I used their contact form (no email or phone I could find) to pose some questions:

[clipped from the top — introduction of me as writing on comics; this is a formal request for comment for publication, with a deadline for response of 5:00pm EST Wednesday, 10 February 2021]
You are using, and appear to have built your entire brand identity, around Box Brown’s depiction of Andre The Giant, as seen in his bestselling and award-winning biography, “ANDRE THE GIANT: LIFE AND LEGEND” from :01 Books.

Mr Brown has stated publicly that he did not authorize this use of his artwork, and has not been paid for it. What response would you like to provide about what appears to be fairly blatant copyright theft?

No response has been received, so we’ll call that No comment. To add a little more context, Brown tells us:

So what happened is:
A company wanted to call themselves “Giant Cannabis” so they went to a company called @99designs and got a cheapo logo designed. The “artist” searched “giant cannabis” and lo and behold MY WORK came up. The artist traced it and sent it in.

They printed it on tons of packaging. Then I called them out and they tried to pay me off. Then when I said no (bc its an illegal use of Andre the Giant’s image) they said they won’t use the packaging anymore. Here we are a year later and it’s still on shelves [spellings to get around Twitter’s limits corrected]

One of my goals of the last few years is to design a cannabis package but… not like this

spent a long time on the phone with them about a year ago and they told me they would pull it but obviously have not. I alerted the Andre the giant people who have a bigger claim than I do.

So yeah — don’t try to stonewall, kids. It doesn’t work. If you screw up, it is always better to own it.

Followup from yesterday: It appears that Meredith Gran has control of again. Take that, account-jacking dick!

Spam of the day:

I have performed a website optimisation and performance audit on your website, if you would like the results please head over to [nope!].com & select 25 point complimentary website security and performance audit and I will send it over to you.

Yeah, I’m good, thanks.

¹ He did a lecture tour of colleges when I was a student; he was talking about his involvement with a group of utter whackjobs called the Dangerous Sports Club, who decided that skiing was an insufficient challenge unless there was stuff between you and your skis.

Stuff like a full grand piano that you sat at and played whilst schussing your way downslope.

They also invented bungee jumping, and immediately decided that wasn’t good unless you were strapped to, say, a comfortable overstuffed leather chair. The BTM was the assessment of a DSC member to Chapman, regarding a fellow member who suddenly appeared to not have his femur where it belonged, but instead in its place was a rather nasty (irony alert) poin-ted stick.

He also taught us medical student drinking games. What I am saying is I paid closer attention to that lecture than probably any other during all my college years.

² This is why we still carry a clipboard and paper forms.

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