Michael Eriksson's Blog

A Swede in Germany

Posts Tagged ‘coincidence

Of Mice and Computer Users

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There are days when I can barely suppress the suspicion that life is a weird cosmic joke, “Truman Show”, or scientific experiment that replaces mice in a labyrinth with humans in a Matrix.

Today is one of those days: I had cleared almost every task of my schedule in order to dedicate myself to the tax declaration for 2017—after having postponed it again and again for the last two weeks and knowing that it would likely leave me in too poor a mood to risk anything else that could aggravate me. (Cf. a number of earlier texts, e.g. [1].)

Then a server crashed, which I had had running for several weeks without problems. I rebooted it, started things up again, and decided to do some minor clean-up while still logged in. (Should have stuck to the plan…) In the process, I (very, very unusually) managed to screw-up a command, leading to all the files in the user account being moved. While I discovered this immediately after submitting the command, I could not interrupt it, because my session froze… After a minute-or-so of waiting, I forced a new reboot.

Less than thrilled, I proceeded to clean up the damage (and fortunately, no irrecoverable damage took place)—only to now have my notebook complain about a CPU being stuck and eventually freezing, forcing a reboot of the notebook… Only yesterday, I had noted an up-time of roughly sixty days—today, right in this already annoying situation, it fails! Worse, after the reboot, after I have got everything* back up again, the notebook just crashes. Roughly sixty days without problems and then two forced reboots in twenty minutes. Worse yet, I next decided to use the latest installed kernel,** seeing that I trailed heavily in version, and that newer kernels are usually better—and found myself needing yet another reboot within five minutes…

*With a number of different user accounts, different encryption passwords, and whatnot, this takes a lot more time for me than for the average user. Normally, this is not a problem, because I only need to reboot every few months. When I have multiple reboots in a single day, the situation is very, very different.

**At some point, the newest release became unstable with my notebook, and I set up my boot-loader to use an older, stable kernel per default. However, that was at least six months ago, running an older kernel is a potential security risk, and I had hoped that the current newest release would have resolved these problems in the interim. Unfortunately, this was not the case. Switching to a newer kernel in the above situation was, admittedly and with hindsight, pushing my luck; however, if I had not tried it today, the next “natural” opportunity might have been another sixty days into the future. (Indeed, going by my existing plan, I should have switched kernels already for the first reboot, but simply did not remember to do so until the third attempt.)

As of now, I have an up-time of a little more than four hours (back with the old kernel), and hope for another sixty-ish days. However: Half the day has been wasted between the extra efforts and the time needed to restore my mode—and I am not taking the risk of attempting the tax declaration today, lest things end with a notebook that crashes in a more literal sense (say, into the nearest wall).

Written by michaeleriksson

October 25, 2018 at 3:38 pm

Quality vs. success—illustrated by the preceding post

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I have often made the observation that highly talented people, high-quality products, excellent ideas, whatnot, are not necessarily successful—while less talented people, lower-quality products, …, can be so to a high degree.

The explanations are many, some “worthy” (e.g. that hard work can make a considerable difference), many “unworthy” (e.g. better marketing, luck with timing, knowing the right people).

My Friday post provides an excellent example: I read an article series in a newspaper that I found offensive, threw together a counter-post without deliberation and planning, and probably spent less than half the time on the actual writing than I do on the average text of that size. In fact, the day after publishing, I spotted no less than five very obvious typos that I felt forced to correct after the fact. I often make errors even in published texts, but in this case my proof-reading cannot have deserved the name.

Still, my post took less than 24 hours to become the most visited on my two-months old blog. (Whether the most read is another question: Other articles may have accumulated a larger number of reads while on the home page.) Further, Saturday broke my daily-hits record by a full 50 %—two thirds of the hits landing on that one post.

How did this success (relative to earlier posts) come about? Simple: A link to my post showed up on one of the articles discussed (possibly through a trackback)—and a small portion of the newspaper’s visitors proceeded to visit me.

In effect, I did not see this traffic because I wrote a post that was more valuable or better written than my other posts—but because I accidentally rode on the “popularity coattails” of the newspaper.

(Similar stories are not unusual on WordPress. I have heard of a few cases where a blog got a months worth of traffic in a day, after a high-traffic site linked to it.)

Written by michaeleriksson

April 11, 2010 at 2:24 pm