Failing in public

We all know that things don’t always go as planned. But there should be a special category for the failures that proceed to publicly display themselves, oblivious to the need for a solution or the consequences of inaction. In these situations the ghost in the machine that runs various low-key aspects of our society reveals itself for the unconscious automaton it is.

This airport information kiosk is having a bad day. It isn’t clear what happened here, but the Dr. Watson Postmortem Debugger is on it in spades, imploring passersby to Please Tell Microsoft About This Problem. Meanwhile we get a rare glimpse behind the curtain, as the kiosk breaks the fourth wall and admits that it is merely an ordinary Windows application, turned sideways. Somebody will fix this soon.

Here’s another airport directory having a public breakdown. We all are susceptible to oversharing in a time of crisis, but it’s hard to see what benefit comes from revealing one’s MAC address and GUID, when clearly what is needed is boot media and a keypress. Though they are a permanent part of the sign, the two “?”s at the upper corners still seem surprisingly on-topic. Somebody will fix this soon.

This drinking fountain and bottle filler, also spotted at an airport, seems to have filled so many bottles it lost count. Perhaps this is an error code of some kind. But it filled my bottle just fine, so it must not have been a critical one. I wonder what kind of errors this plumbing fixture lives in fear of? Somebody will fix this soon.

This backlit airport directory must have seemed like a great idea at first. Unfortunately, the concept did not anticipate the importance of an update mechanism. Over time, it has revealed a strong anecdotal case for what I have always suspected: that the average airport restaurant has greater longevity than the average airport retail shop.

Not only did the sign maker get the second line wrong, the sign posting crew either didn’t notice or didn’t care. After all, how important is a sign that signals the end of road work? The sign went up, and after six weeks, came down with the rest of them. Maybe nobody noticed but me.

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