We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

I came across this free desktop app called f.lux once while on one of my tool-browsing sprees. According to their site, it’s something that automatically changes a display screen’s lighting according to the time of the day to make it sight-friendly. I imagined some similar setting that works well on smartphones, and I thought that it might be cool to try it out. So I installed it on my work desktop to see how it works. I clicked the download button on their site, ran the executable after it finished downloading, then waited for the app to finish installing. After that, I changed some of the app settings as needed and waited for something to happen. One minute went by, two minutes, 15 minutes.. bummer. Okay, nothing happened. Maybe my screen is already at the best lighting condition, adapted to the room where I was working. Happy path, I guess. Hmm, I could turn off some of the lights or turn on some of the others to test if it changes anything on my display, but it would be rude to do so when there are many people in the office. Maybe some other time. I went back to work after thinking that, then pretty much forgot about f.lux when weeks passed by.

Then one day I decided to stay in the office later than the usual. I remember wanting to finish some test code I was writing so that’s what I did, while it got dark outside and people went home one after another. It was a good day, and I was really in the mood to finish what I was doing, typing what’s in my head steadily, like a master conductor in the middle of a beautiful concerto. Then suddenly my Samsung S22B310 desktop monitor started flickering like crazy and the music abruptly stopped. Horizontal lines unexpectedly flew everywhere in my screen, looping back and forth. “Great, things break when you need them,” I muttered to myself.

I started checking the cables first because those are usually the culprit. Remove, re-attach, see if they fit snuggly to both the desktop and the monitor. Looks good, no problem there, but the screen is still acting up. Okay, let’s try restarting the computer.. monitor behaved well at bootup but then several minutes later flickers are all over the place once again. I tried replacing the cables with ones I’m sure was working but the same rapid flutters continued happening. “Okay, what did I do?,” my mind screamed. By this time, I’m thinking that maybe it’s the video card or the screen itself. Hardware failure, darn. I guess I won’t be able to work this evening now that the thing is busted.

Let’s back up data, I thought, trying to calm myself, and let’s just clean the system before I hand the machine to the techs tomorrow. That’s what I often do when similar hardware symptoms start to occur, before they totally break and do their worst, like when hard disk reads begin to fail some of the time. It’s always better to be prepared, I won’t be able to finish what I did today anyway. I synced important files to personal cloud storages, even if the flickers began to hurt my eyes. After that, I decided to clean up installed apps. Okay, there isn’t really much to clean in my system.. but perhaps I should remove this f.lux app because I don’t think it has been of any use since the day I installed it. I remember having high hopes for the app but I guess it wasn’t very helpful. Going to Control Panel, I clicked Programs and Features, then f.lux, clicked Uninstall, and there we go. Done.

As quickly as the flickering started earlier in the evening, they immediately stopped right after the f.lux uninstallation process finished. My monitor went back to normal. Fuck. That was it? After staring blankly at the screen for a few seconds, I suddenly found myself laughing. Haha, I realized I was the culprit after all.

Testing happens that way sometimes. Life too. We sincerely believe that the reason why an event happened is something we know for sure, because we’ve been playing with the system for many years now, because there can’t be any other possible cause after exhausting the known possibilities. But then again, we don’t know what we don’t know, and  when a time comes where unexpected new events happen and we see new information that we’ve never seen before and we realize how things became the way they are, we laugh at ourselves and honestly say that we haven’t known everything yet after all. Lesson learned.

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One thought on “We Don’t Know What We Don’t Know

  1. Pingback: Five Blogs – 15 October 2015 | 5blogs

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