I spent several hours, split between last night and tonight, trying to get the wireless NIC in TheWife’s laptop to push packets. It had been pushing packets just fine, and then it decided to up and quit with the packet pushing business. It was quite happy to talk to the DHCP server, and it would occasionally return a languid ping or two, but it just couldn’t be bothered with this whole routing traffic thing.

It’s now back again, after about 20 messages on a local sysadmin mailing list, some web searching, and — the key ingredient, I’m sure — repeating the same actions over and over until they mysteriously worked. How did I know they were the right actions? Well, I really didn’t, but the guy recommending them is a pretty good Windows admin, and, well, there really wasn’t much else I could do, short of just buying another wireless NIC and hoping it worked better.

The saddest thing of all is that this is WinXP Pro — this is the current enterprise OS offering, from the current market leader in operating systems. And what does this modern wonder bring us? A piece of hardware suddenly spontaneously quits working — so suddenly that my first thought was that the hardware itself must be broken — and then is fixed on the third iteration of a relatively stupid procedure? We were better off with slide rules. Fsck, we were better off with sticks and lines in the dirt.

Actually, come to think of it, that’s the second saddest thing of all. The saddest thing of all is that I’ve got stuff to do early in the morning tomorrow, which means that I can’t get stinking drunk tonight and attempt to erase the memory of this entire episode before it gets committed to long-term storage.

Speaking of long-term, I’m a wee bit concerned about the long-term cognitive and cultural effects of large groups of people becoming habituated to the idea that if they repeat a seemingly random series of actions over and over again enough times, they’ll eventually manage to get what they want. You’d predict that you’d see any effects in the Windows admin population first, since they’re getting the highest exposure to this stuff.

I don’t know about your Windows admins, but the ones I hang out with are a twitchy, superstitious bunch — about what I’d expect to happen if you spent all day working in an environment where you can’t predict the outcome of your actions based on previous history. This fails to give me a warm fuzzy feeling about the future.

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