Murphy’s law is an old time favorite of mine. Perhaps not always used as originally intended. In it’s most general form it says : “Whatever can go wrong will go wrong, and at the worst possible time, in the worst possible way”. According to Wikipedia the law was “invented” by an engineer who was testing crash test dummies and had to deal with devices which could be wired in several ways. Only one way was the right way, which led to Murphy complaining about his assistant “If that guy has any way of making a mistake, he will”.
Which sounds like a plea for plain unambiguous procedures, connectors and whatever. Have we learned ? A famous quote is “Murphy was an optimist”. Indeed he was. Take this.
These are the connectors of a brand new notebook and an USB mouse dongle which has to be inserted in one of them. The keyboard has nice backlighting but the symbols at the connectors are poorly visible and the slots look all very much alike.
Trial and error, from left to right
– The dongle almost fits. Perhaps I should push a little harder. Which will result in damaging my network connector.
– The dongle seems to fit, at least it does slide inside. I don’t know what pins I am touching and damaging while moving the thing around. My mouse doesn’t work as it is a displayport adapter.
– The dongle does not fit. This HDMI connector wouldn’t understand the pins anyway.
– The dongle does fit. Provided enough pressure is applied and I didn’t enter it upside down. My mouse even works, this is an USB adapter
– This connector does not only look like it’s neighbor, it is one of the same kind. Again, provided the right side was facing up, this will lead to success.
So 2 out of 5 might result in a working mouse and 2 out of 5 might result in hardware damage. What makes it even harder is that also the right way requires some force. That is a bad score, really bad. And things don’t stop here, my experiences in finding the right connector for an HDMI cable, working in the dim light next to the TV, are even worse.
All the form factors for these connectors were designed recently, long after the assumed common knowledge of Murphy’s law. Who was indeed an optimist.