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Things can fail in unpredictable ways

Posted by fabriziogiudici on October 20, 2007 at 9:08 AM PDT

For my today's presentation of blueMarine I really intended to use Linux Ubuntu for the first time - but it's incredible how creative mr. Murphy is (in the end the presentation was perfectly fine, but on Mac OS X).

Well, yesterday I had my final rehearsal at home and everything was fine (with blueMarine definitely more performant on Linux, partly because of the Java 6 VM). This morning, half an hour before my schedule, I turned on my MacBook Pro for the final pre-flight checks and I was appalled in seeing that Gnome was so slow that I couldn't even launch an application.

I had to revert to Mac OS X (that was ready as a backup, of course; with blueMarine 0.9.RC2b everything went absolutely fine, with no glimpses at all - the first time!). When my presentation was over I took the time to figure out what was happening. After fifteen minutes of pain trying to launch a terminal, I got an error about a Gnome applet not being able to load; after closing the error box the system was a bit more responsive and I could inspect it. Apart from the cold (temperatures dropped a lot in a couple of days here in Italy and there was no heating in some rooms of the venue), the only reasonable difference with my home rehearsal was the possible presence of WiFi channels (other than mine, I mean).

Actually I checked and there were _a lot_ of them (the meeting was held in an university venue). Perhaps too many? I disabled the WiFi, rebooted... and everything was fine. Doh! There are no limits in what can fail.

PS I'm experiencing another failure right now, this time more amusing :-) A friend pointed me to http://desktop.ebay.com where you can find one of the first RIA applications delivered on Adobe AIR. Well, the installer froze twenty minutes ago :-) and I've just mercifully killed it. I suppose Java is not the only thing that can fail at installation?