Perhaps a few of our Faithful Readers are of my generation of TV watching, weaned on Hasbro merchandise-inspired fare like Transformers and He-Man And The Masters Of The Universe. Any such readers undoubtedly remember He-Man’s faithful companion Orko, the mysteriously incompetent wizard. He was the court magician of the parents of Prince Adam, He-Man’s alter ego, and had wonderful magical powers, which he used to perform silly conjuring tricks that inevitably ended up with Man-At-Arms, the official court, um, man at arms, having something embarrassing happen to him, usually by something being dumped on him.
Anyhow, that is all excessive prelude to declare I now christen Microsoft to be the Orkos of Redmond, capable of wonderful feats which invariably end up embarrassing both us and themselves. Leave it to Microsoft to build an mp3 player which suffers from the Y2K bug, only 9 years after the fact of Y2K. In the late hours Tuesday night this week, thousands of 30 GB First-Generation Zune mp3 players froze and could not be reset. The head Orko technology team announced that the problem was with the way the Zune handled a leap-year calendar, although details were lacking – maybe it got confused by the 366th day of the year? – and that the only solution was to let the device run until the battery had totally discharged, then recharge and restart it.
Look, these sorts of things happen – these devices are incredibly complicated, and a faulty line of code buried somewhere in there can lead to unexpected outcomes. Apple suffers from issues like this too, from overloaded iPhone servers on rollout day to too-easily scratched iPod screens. But still, it just somehow kills me that only Microsoft can give us a juiced-up Walkman which is so baffled by a calendar that it completely freezes up on you.
Possibly unrelated: A classic article from The Onion reporting on the massively-overhyped launch of the second generation of Zunes.
Even skeptics have found it difficult to deny the Zune’s appeal. With its video capability, “squircle”-shaped control pad, Microsoft logo emblazoned on the back, and iconic black earbuds, it has become a must-have item for everyone from high-powered executives to trendy young scenesters. Many consumers consider owning the newest model of Zune to be the most essential status symbol of the past 10 years, hailing it as the hallmark fashion accessory of the so-called “Zune Generation.”
“The second-generation Zune has it all,” said Brian Lam, editor in chief of Gizmodo, a popular tech blog. “It’s got a great design, and the cult of personality that the undeniably charismatic Bill Gates has created with his Microsoft product launches only adds to the Zune’s desirability.”