Chapter 9. The Long Term

Usability deals with errors that occur when a device or system is used. It is one source of failure. Another source of failure is when the device itself breaks. In the case of software and computer data, that is not just when the hardware on which it is running stops operation. It is also when the program does not function correctly in light of a new or changing environment or when previously accessible data cannot be read anymore.

I've written about this issue since the early days of my blog.

Wednesday, November 3, 1999 : After we're gone

My connections to the Internet have been quite flakey the last few days. My cable modem's been quite slow in the evening (I guess the loop I'm on is popular). Our email was out at work over the weekend a lot. And for hours at a time our main connection to the Internet at Trellix was out. Something about "routers in New York" having problems.

On the way to work yesterday, I passed by some digging in the street and stopped. Here's what I saw:

Water main from 1929

I asked what was going on. It was a water main, made of steel and originally built in 1929. They were doing periodic maintenance cleaning it out. Unlike a water main I remember in my town that broke a while back and that had outlived its intended life by many decades, they said this one was still OK.

What a contrast. Here we were building infrastructure for ...

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