Tuesday, September 24, 2013

On Figuring Out What Truth Is

As always seems to be the case, things got a little screwy after OS X got upgraded to 10.8.5. The most interesting, even if it was a relatively small thing, was that the Weather widget on the Dashboard started turning up showing a date from the past, rather than the present. I am not sure whether or not this was a direct consequence of the upgrade, particularly since my immediate conjecture was that this was a server problem, rather than a client problem. As I write this, the widget is consistently giving the right day (Tuesday); but the temperature keeps bouncing between 70º and 65º. (For the record, the page on The Weather Channel site for my ZIP code says 64º.)

When I lived in Palo Alto, I could put a thermometer outside my bedroom window and check it whenever I wanted. Now I go to my MacBook Pro and my wife goes to her iPhone (and we probably both go to the same server). We sort of take it for granted that the server behind the widget is as reliable as a thermometer. For that matter, I would like to believe that the page on The Weather Channel site really is ZIP-code-specific, even if the commonsense side of me tends to be skeptical (particular in a city like San Francisco, which has all sorts of micro-climates). The real point, however, is that none of these digital resources is as trustworthy as a tube of red-colored alcohol or mercury judiciously placed in the shade. However, as a condominium-dweller I do not have the luxury I used to have as a homeowner, which means I am now obliged to invent my own error-detecting algorithms whenever I want to check the temperature!

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