Monday, March 1, 2010

Playstation Network Down

Playstation 3 owners were shocked and irritated to discover that Sony's Playstation network, the system that connects the immensely popular PlayStation systems both to other gamers and to online games, went down sometime Sunday. PlayStation owners could not connect to services, the PlayStation store and to corollary services such as NetFlix, which provides streaming movies-on-demand to PlayStation devices. Sony's PlayStation blog, accessible if you have a computer handy, reports as of today that the newer "slim" units of the PS3 are connecting normally and the Twitter post prior to that indicates that Sony is "looking into it" and "narrowing down the issue."

I admit that I am a gadget hound. If it has gears, circuits and/or flashing lights, I am instantly in love. What I don't love is my increased reliance on gadgets for my day-to-day existence. It's the bleeding edge that I transit with the purpose and dismay of a snail on a straight-razor.

I use my PS3 for a little game-play but, mostly, for playback of BD (Blu-ray Discs) and for streaming programming from Netflix. So, when I tried to browse my Netflix Instant Queue and found it wasn't working, I set off on an expedition for information on how to solve this sudden problem. I searched Sony's site, which, like many electronics manufacturers, I have found, has a kludgey and cumbersome to navigate "knowledgebase." After giving up there, I Google-d "PlayStation can't connect" and "PlayStation network error" and read the past misadventures of others, followed the steps and got no result.And I'm no novice at computers and networks but while the PlayStation 3 is a computer of sorts, it has its own proprietary hardware, software, features and attendant issues - and quirks. Those quirks can only be resolved by a careful and studious gleaning of forums rife with dim-witted postings like "WTF!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" and "I'm nothing without my PS3. (Sad emoticon goes here.) Yeah - helpful and very sad. And yes, I DID read the manual. So, I did dick around with the system and the network here at Chaos Manor II for about an hour until my kid let me know that Sony tweeted their admission of a problem.

But something is wrong with this picture.It really shouldn't have taken me nearly two hours of wondering whether my PS3 was broken or whether I forgot to pay my cable bill or whether my router had died again or whether my service provider was having a DNS issue as they have had in the past, also without explanation. Must I be connected to "social media" to understand that some gigantic foreign corporation's axillary service upon which my appliance relies just isn't working today? Really? Don't get me wrong - we're not talking about life support equipment here. But what if we were?

More and more, we are inexorably connected to somewhere else by wire. Information is moving out of Daytimers and into the "cloud," meaning the great virtual communal storage space somewhere other than where we are. While we, that "we" meaning those who can afford it, are afforded flexibility and life-enhancement through gadgetry, it's also a huge vulnerability. And while puppies and babies are cute because they're vulnerable, me not being able to make a phone call because a network is down three-thousand miles away is a bad thing.

In the end, Sony did the Japanese thing and waited to see what the dawn would bring. Two dawns, to be exact. Pretty laid back for a 21st century world. As it turned out, the internal clock of the majority of the older models of PS3s thought this was a leap year . . . huh? Well, that's what Sony's PlayStation blog said. And, apparently, the public accepted this explanation without question. Only . . . this isn't a leap year. Maybe it is in Japan? Who cares? As long as we can all re-connect, we're good. Right?

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