Tag Archives: Software release life cycle

Beach Ball Induced Heart Palpitations

This is what my desk looked like today, more or less. Reality included more coffee cups, more orange peels, and more snack remnants than pictured here. It also included a lot more me. Sitting. For hours. Thinking.

This afternoon, after spending many hours plunked in front of my computer in my fancy new office working away on notes for the two classes I’m teaching this semester (namely User Interface Design and Discrete Optimization; a second year course and a graduate level course, respectively) I decided it was necessary to stretch my legs and get a little bit of fresh air.

Always striving for efficiency and being a killing-two-birds-with-one-stone type of individual, I opted to saunter over to the MacKinnon building to check out the location of and equipment in the classroom where I will be doing 50% of my Ass. Prof.’ing this semester.

Seeing an opportunity to kill three birds with one stone, I opted to first saunter down the hall to the classroom where I will be doing the remainder of my Ass. Prof.’ing. You see, it’s all of 4 doors down from my fancy new office. Best commute ever!

Anyway, after stretching my legs, getting some air, and checking out both of my classrooms, I made my way back to the office. I may also have made a Starbucks pit-stop for some much-needed go-go juice. Point is, I eventually made it back to my office.

The Mac beach ball fills me with dread when it appears for seemingly no reason whatsoever.

After sitting, I turned to check email on my trusty MacBook Pro. At first, things seemed fine. Then everything went to hell. And by went to hell, I mean I saw the spinning Mac beach ball. While it looks all colourful and wonderful, it’s really the source of much dread whenever it appears for seemingly no reason whatsoever and doesn’t want to disappear. Because when that happens, it means the system is hanging for some reason.

Why does this fill me with dread? Well, I think it hearkens back to the old time-y days when I used Windows machines. A system hang, for me at least, would usually lead to something catastrophic. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times I had hard drives fail, or had systems become completely corrupted. For someone whose livelihood depends on data, any of these things leads to heart palpitations.

This is why I switched to Mac – for the sake of my mental and cardiac health.

Now, don’t get me wrong, the spinning beach ball has never meant anything completely devastating like a system crash. But it reminds me of it. And it always leaves me in a bit of a panic.

Fortunately, my backups were up to date so any data loss would have been limited to a few minutes of work. Possibly 3 minutes at most. I opted, once the ball stopped spinning to reboot the system. On restart, things were worse. My folders were missing. My icons were sketched out. The system was hanging. I couldn’t see any email. At this point, I was in full-fledged heart attack mode. What the hell was going on? Did I somehow contract a computer virus? WHO GAVE MY COMPUTER HERPES?

I calmly (okay, not so calmly) waited for the spinning beach ball to disappear (because if you wait long enough, it always disappears). Then I shut down the system again. But trust me, the panic hadn’t left. I feared that I’d have to buy a new computer, and for the love of all things holy I don’t have the cash on hand right now to afford a new computer. Also, I’d rather spend that money on something else. Like a vacation. Or scotch. Or a vacation filled with scotch. And after this incident, I clearly need a scotch filled vacation.

Not quite the Blue Screen Of Death that I would have seen in the old time-y days when I used Windows, but close. This one is way funnier.

I decided that it was best to just pack up and head home.

It was on my walk home that something struck me. The last time I had some weird stuff happen on my computer, it ended up being Google Chrome. I don’t know how it messed up my system, but it had. For some reason, its files had become corrupted. This didn’t damage any other non-Chrome files, but it did b0rk up my system; slowing it down to the point of being almost useless.

So, following this eve’s yoga class – which was very helpful in terms of calming me down and grounding my thoughts – I rebooted the system and with a few commands in Terminal, deleted Google Chrome from my drive (note to self: should this happen in the future, immediately pour some scotch. Next, open Terminal, migrate from whatever the current directory is to ~Library/Application Support/Google/ and rename [mv oldname newname] or delete the Chrome directory. Following this, drag the Chrome application to the trash and delete it. Reinstall Chrome. Finish scotch. Perhaps pour another. Who am I kidding, of course pour another.)

The result – my baby has been reborn. Everything is functioning as it should. And not a moment too soon, given that I’m going to be using my ever so trusty MacBook Pro to present my first lecture of the semester tomorrow.


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