I wish I had a picture to prove this, but on the other hand, it’s something so common as to be expected any more.
I was riding a city bus last night and noticed a new digital signboard that displayed the destination and fares at the front of the bus. Much like ones in airports or terminals — an LCD screen with scrolling text and large-print numbers.
And no sooner had I finished looking at it, and noting my stop and the fare due, and thinking this was probably an improvement for older passengers with poor eyesight … when the screen flickered, and went to a blue screen of death.
Like I said, something like that is so common that maybe I don’t need a picture after all. Personally I’ve seen BSODs and error messages in airports and restaurants, even in doctor’s offices or factories.
The first of the two things that ran through my mind on the bus last night, as people openly wondered what their fare would be, was, “I should have expected that.”
I should have realized that a digital sign board would probably run some backdated underpowered version of a Microsoft product, and by logical extension, would be prone to failure. It’s just the law of the land.
But what I thought next is what someone, in a bus company office somewhere, should have thought: Why in the world, in this day and age, would anyone use Windows for something like that?
I’m preaching to the choir and I apologize for that, but the underlying logic is what I want to approach here.
Let’s install a computer display to show the fares for our bus lines.
Let’s pay money for an operating system for those displays.
Let’s pay money for an operating system with a hideous track record and an established reputation for failure for those displays.
And if things go wrong, the driver can solve things while on the road.
Which is what happened last night. Passengers asked how much was due, the driver either told them or consulted a tattered paper list. And then the bus rolled on.
With an LCD frozen on a blue screen. Once again, thanks Microsoft. And for the bus company … do your homework next time.