Thank Grog It’s Firday!
I am particularly happy it is “Firday” today, because that means tomorrow is “Smatterday” which for me will end up as SkeeDaddle Day. Which means my hospice shift is over, and my stay in crazy-town will be relieved by my sister, taking over the arduous task of “loving my mom to/til death.” But, I digress…
What made my duty here all the more challenging, was that TSTO, one of my diversions from the day-to-day insanity, decided to break. I know that is a very simplistic version of the truth…but, that’s literally how it felt.
For almost three days, EA was refusing to recognize me. First I got booted, and had to log back in. Then I started getting a handful of error messages. And of course, being in a situation where I am watching my Mom’s life “disconnect,” it was hard not to take it personally…and wonder if we have become slaves to the digital slaves, and who is serving who, when it comes to an interconnected life.
The Bart Screen of Death (BSOD) takes on a new meaning when you suddenly realize that about 75% of life as we know it, can be “turned off,” on purpose, by mistake, or by error. Servers, slaves, and the BSOD…where do we all fit in?
When your device doesn’t connect when you want to tap…I often go online to make sure that I’m not the only one.
And in the Case of EA…They have problems a lot.
As someone who has worked with digital multimedia, and has made a business out of the Internet since there was an internet, I have to admit that I never saw a future like the one in which we live. I did imagine that we would be using digital data for TV, radio (remember radios?), and maybe even short-streaming video. But, I never imagined a time when we would be so reliant on the “bleeps and bloops” of packet swapping, that our Movies would actually threaten our vacuum cleaners, when the battle for data “in the cloud” overwhelmed the life-supply of zeros and ones that keep us all going.
But, it happened.
On November 25th, 2020...the future (or the beginning of the end) came to fruition, and rattled us to our very Roombas!
On this date…for a matter of hours (or days by some reports), AWS (Amazon Web Services), lost a ton of its server capacity. And when AWS hiccups…so do tens of thousands of businesses and services large and small (check out this article!).
While you might think that Amazon delivering stuff “next day” or “day of” for their Prime members is amazing…that is nothing compared to the services it actually “hosts” on servers in “the cloud” for some of the biggest companies in the world…companies that “make our lives easier” while handing over so much of our day-to-day to them.
Which brings us to the side-street of PC and Vine. Because once you try to start understanding who is serving who, the nomenclature of computing starts to get a bit muddled and archaic in the language it uses. As it turns out, Slave, Server, Master Slave, and a number of other computer terms feel sadly out of date and inflammatory. I don’t have space to dive into it…but, if you want to get an idea of how perplexing this is for actual IT folks and Coders…read this article.
But, I think anyone who has watched the amazing documentary, “The Social Dilemma,” or countless others about phone/device addiction, and you start to get the picture about how reliant and influenced we have become by digital technology.
But don’t if you watch them on “Netflix,” as you may very well be messing with someone else’s ability to Roomba! Or worse…far, far, worse!
There are loads of reasons that a system as large and redundant as the services that AWS provides could go down. But, one of the biggest drains on the resources is Netflix. With close to 200 million paying customers (and who knows how many who share logins, like my daughters do), and loads of them binge-watching during the pandemic, something had to give. There is only so much juice in the pipeline…and when the servers get overloaded, they go on strike. OK…again with the non-PC metaphor. But they bog down, and shut down, and create havoc for everyone else in the system.
The aforementioned article shows a SHORT list of clients who use AWS. But what isn’t shown, is how many service providers, who provide service to companies that provide services and data connections, aren’t listed here. The “data tree” has more branches than you can imagine…and it all has to happen at the speed of light.
Every key stroke…every frame, made up of millions of data packets in a movie, or an internet page, is “SERVED” from a server. And yes…we expect it to happen instantaneously.
Every packet sent and received has to go to a server, and back to your device. Every key stroke, click and tap, signals the server to DO something. And frankly, it is all pretty amazing.
But are we are the point of TOO AMAZING??
Consider the fact that almost every modern device is now enhanced, driven, or operated in some way by the “Interwebs.” What happens when the grid goes down? So does everything that is connected to the services on that grid.
In the case of this “outage,” some of the first people to notice were the folks who were trying to hook up the “New Smart Tech” on their Roombas. Now…you can program where, how, and in direction you want your Roomba to Roomb. But, without an internet connection, and bluetooth, it may just roam from room to room, roombing away until the smart computer in your refrigerator tells it to stop…oh…wait, that wouldn’t work either with the grid down.
This all sounds kinda funny to me…until you look at the BIG companies who are using the AWS system.
Netflix, Twitch, LinkedIn, Facebook, Turner Broadcasting, BBC, Baidu, ESPN, Adobe, and yes…even Twitter!!!
Sweet Jeebus! What would we do if we couldn’t Tweet about a post on Facebook, about the latest LinkedIn profile on the famous sports star we just watched on ESPN!!!!
Or…on a more serious note…in the near future, what about those “Self Driving Semi Trucks” they are testing?
Grid goes down. The trucks crash. That is a LOT worse than your Roomba vacuuming up your cat in a flurry of misdirection…or your smart refrigerator suddenly dispensing its supply of ice and water all over your floor.
Why am I not surprised that “Drone Delivery” is still on the board for Amazon?
Self-driving, flying, navigating, vacuuming, refrigerating, droning, or any other part of AI technology that is based on “the grid” staying connected to “the cloud,” when it can all be brought down with the release of the newest season of “The Crown?” NO THANK YOU.
We are too reliant on something that is clearly so unpredictably fragile. We really need to let Big Tech know that we aren’t going to take it any more!
And I will tell them, just as soon as I can get my phone to connect to my Mom’s network.
Oh. And for the record…I FIXED my TSTO Login Problem! I rebooted my device.