Monday, June 15, 2009

559 The Start Button

559 The Start Button and Other Contradictions

You think you have it all figured out, right? To start a machine going, you push "on," or "start." And to stop it, you push "off" or "end." Seems like a no-brainer, and at one time, it was.

But in a world of Microsoft and mobile telephones, off can be on and on can be... well, something.

Start with the computer programs. Vista and its predecessors have a "start" button. But you can't start the computer with it because it's invisible until you start the computer. Brilliant! To turn the computer off, you push the start button, which IS visible but really isn't a button, but more like a picture of a start button. Brilliant (squared.)

So you have to use something other than the start button to start the computer, but to stop it, you use... the start button.

Same thing on the cell phone. There is no "on." But there is an "end" button. And (will wonders never cease?) It’s an actual button. Of course, you can't just push it. You have to push and hold it. Then your phone turns on. Yes, it turns on by using the off button.

To turn it off, you start and hold the "end" button. Someone has obviously not thought this completely through. If you're looking to get things backward, you need to have an "on" button that turns the phone off. Next generation of phones, maybe.

What if this lunacy catches on? What would that mean for, say, the light switches on your wall, or the TV remote? Or the little gizmo that opens and locks your car doors?

What would it mean for your kitchen cabinets, your padlock or the laces on your shoes? Or your alarm clock? How about your checkbook, your supply of medicine, your blood pressure, your automotive forward speed or your blood alcohol level?

Getting things backward is one of the hallmarks of the era.

Backward is beautiful.

But it's confusing.


--Very few businesses put their street address on the front of their buildings. But a local Walmart just renovated and put up ITS address in big numbers, which seems kind of supererogatory. Especially since... who can miss seeing a 200,000 square foot Walmart sitting alone in a parking lot with little else around it?

--The builder of the Wessays Secret Mountain Laboratory put the address on the front of the building. But it's a trick. The number and the plaque in which the number is engraved are the same color and therefore cannot be seen from more than two feet away, kind of a stealth address sign.

--The former Wessays Secret Seaside Laboratory had a two digit address. But no one paid any attention and no one was able to spot it. That's because the buildings on either side of it had four digit addresses, and when you see four digits on one building, you're unlikely to guess the next one has only two. (It's true. You can't make this stuff up.)

I'm Wes Richards. My opinions are my own, but you're welcome to them.®

©WJR 2009

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