Monday, July 06, 2015

Problem (#500)

So... I am using my g-mail and when I attempt to go to my "sent" files to find some old e-mail...I forgot what... when a yellow box appears at the top of the screen. 

"Oops... the system encountered a problem (#500)" or something like that. 

There is a little clock counting down when it will try to do what ever it was doing. Next to that are the blue highlighted words "Retry now." 

So I retry. Same result. Only now the clock is reset to a longer time. Before it was one minute. Now it's one minute fifteen seconds. 

Hmm. I think I have just been put in the penalty box for 15 seconds for my impatience. Let me see.

So I "retry" again.

Now the timer reads 1:45. A thirty second penalty! 

I look around. No. I am not carrying a 600 year-old elfen wizard on my back and this is my study, not a swamp. So, no, I am not here to learn patience. 

What the hell is Problem #500? 

I retry again. 2:08. Penalty box me, will ya? But 23 more seconds? Weird.

Curious. I open a new tab and then open G-mail. No problem #500! Cool! Send a test e-mail. Out it goes. I find a sent e-mail from my other e-mail account and reply to it. Hit send. Aaannnnd... ding!... it shows up on my phone. I then look at old tab. The countdown clock is now reading 4:41.

From the old tab, I notice that my activity in the new tab is dutifully recorded without my having to refresh. There sits the test e-mail. But the Problem #500 clock is still ticking.

Apparently Problem #500 has nothing to with my functionality. So what the hell is Problem #500? And whose problem is it?

The numbers are not red, and the clock is not counting down in tousandeths of seconds, so it can't be a bomb. Maybe if I let the clock run down, it will go away?

I let it count down to zero and (Thank you St. MacGyver and all the angels) there is no explosion! But it did reset to 3:00. 

What to do? I know!

I open a new tab and Google "What the hell is Problem #500?" 

The first thing I got was a Google screen asking me to ask the Google Plus community what a Problem #500 is. Or I could go directly to the Google Plus world and find out what other people have said. I choose that. Others have asked this question. I am not alone. 

There is very entertaining conversation between some IT techs sharing war-stories about Help Desks I Have Known. Funny. But not enlightening.

So I scroll down and find that it has to do with some problem at a server in Googleland. What problem? Doesn't say. 

I envision that there is some lowly tech who has had to spit out his coffee, and run around looking to reset some switch that has gone wonky and that my request (whatever that was... by now I've forgotten) is hanging out there in cyber space causing a light bulb to blink in helpless digital frustration.


Just for giggles, I open another new tab and go to Bing and ask "What the hell is Google problem #500?" This generates an ad--cleverly disguised as a search engine answer-- that tells me, in effect, that I would not be having this problem If only you were using Bing! 

So "would you like to make Bing your default search engine?" 

"Certainly not! Are you mad?!" I click.  

No answers for you! Next!

There are no answers on my first g-mail screen either. The clock is now reading 5:13. Minutes and seconds, I presume, but now I am not so sure.

At first I imagined the tech whizzing off through some windowless warehouse sized server farm on a Seqway to fix that errant switch. Now I think that perhaps he is deep into his phone rescuing Kate Upton from dragons and trolls on company time and has shouted to no one in particular "Can't you see I'm busy!" 

Or maybe he's lost in the warehouse. Or maybe the Segway ran out of juice because the last tech forgot to plug it in. Or there is no Segway and maybe through a lonely, dark warehouse sized server farm, at 3 am Pacific Time. 

Or the tech is lost in some swirling vortex where time is running backwards!

Or he doesn't know what Error #500 is either and is flipping through a fat notebook right now, cursing. 

Timer: 7:37. 

Now totally bored and seeing that there is apparently nothing is wrong with anything I really care about, I say "The heck with it." And close the tab. 

I'll bet Google loses a lot of techs this way. They disappear into warehouse sized server farms like so many socks in dryers. And when the user signs out while the clock is still running... Oops!

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