August 15th, 2008

color cycle (slow)

Twitters of the day

  • 10:45 I need to gt my Twitter Mobile settings changed. Usage patternssare different with an unlimited messaging plan. #
  • 11:54 Great, it's becoming more and more obvious that we're vaulting headlong into war with Russia. At least it would be against an actual target. #
  • 15:33 I seem to be developing an ingrown toenail. Not severe yet, just uncomfortable; I know the steps to take, at least. #
  • 15:51 It's fun to watch people stare transfixed at a long, bizarre quote theortically about programming I tacked to a wall in the hallway. #
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Please insert a disk into the (null)

A comment from the discussion thread on today's issue of Error'd, from which the above image was pulled:
Re: Poor Bananas
2008-08-15 09:19 • by ath (unregistered) 212269

"Insert the disk into the (null)" is so much more than just an error message. It's a Zen-error message which requires years of pondering before you understand it's true meaning... OK, Linux has a slightly steeper learning curve than Windows...

I've thought about this a bit, and "ath" is both right and wrong- as, of course, the teachings of Zen would offer, as "right" and "wrong" are in and of themselves an illusory dichotomy. (The concept of "wrong" is, therefore, in and of itself, wrong. Do I contradict myself? So I contradict myself; I am many, I contain multitudes.) He's right that the error message is indeed a path to satori approached correctly, but wrong that it takes years to comprehend it. It really only took me a few minutes*.

The hidden meaning here is understanding what is meant by the (null). It seems, at first glance, like a mere unfulfilled placeholder, an unfortunate glitch in the computer's logic. But it runs much deeper than this. From a technical standpoint, there is no reason for the parentheses. Most string format functions that take a null use, indeed, "null", as in the default text-printing behavior of Java and several similar languages; there are no parentheses. So "null" is generally a drop-in, which means the parentheses would always be there- and hence, the correct message might read something like "Please insert a disk into the (\dev\cdrom0)", in which the parentheses confuse the situation even worse. Therefore, this is no simple "null"; it is, instead, a (null), a concept explicitly searched for in the program and then not used as a reason to summarily terminate the program, which is a CD burner and therefore only useful when your CD-burning device seems to exist.

So again, we must revert to Zen-driven world-view concepts: the illusory, farcical nature of that which we believe to be physical reality. The hollow, frivolous nature of things becomes very apparent after minimal study (see YouTube and the popularity of America's Funniest Home Groin Injuries Videos for evidence, which has nothing to do with the actual hollowness of the universe, of infinitesimal omniescent souls as single points in n space living within their own structured arbitrary weavings) and it is a common old chestnut of many religions, especially Buddhism of all forms, and to a greater degree Zen except when it is less so, that nothing truly exists. So therefore, the program is correct, and very correct to handle this situation, as it is not only expected, it is the only situation: your CD-ROM drive can most accurately be described as a (null), as whatever properties it has, that one is most assuredly correct; and as your CD-ROM drive is a (null), it has no other properties, as it has no properties at all, because it indeed is nothing. No other descriptor would be accurate.

At first, there seems to be an obvious problem with this. The logic that observes your CD-ROM drive to be (null) applies to everything. The error message is suggesting you place your disk anywhere you wish it to be: your CD-ROM drive, your VCR, your toaster oven. (For we want the toaster to be happy, too.) This, to the illusion-shackled mind, is plainly ridiculous; a computer- based CD-burning program needs a CD in what seems to be your CD-ROM drive to burn content onto the equally nonexistent media. (And yet the information exists, as there is an underlying concept there that can be perceived, and the nonexistent disk is a perfectly valid way of carrying those concepts. Why?) To believe in this error, however, is to betray the content of the original message.

The message is perfectly accurate. It would recommend that you put your disk into the (null), without being any more specific than that. The message has no need to be specific. If it believed in your CD-ROM drive, it would have recommended it. But, indeed, you can insert your disk into any of the (null) you want, because it doesn't matter in the slightest; the program isn't going to fucking work anyway.

And that is the true meaning of that error message.

* No, not a few minutes to become enlightened from one error message. That happened a couple weeks ago.**
** Actually, yes, despite my not, before that point, considering myself particulary Buddhist. I still don't agree with the stated purpose of satori, which is to not exist as your consciousness and passions are revealed as illusions; I instead conclude that what you thought was your consciousness feels like it has failed to exist because it is the first time you are confronted with how limited it had been before finding the rest of it. I probably should have posted about this three weeks ago, but at the time, it seemed both too obvious and too impossible to explain to bother to post. It still does.