Why Church of the Reboot?

Originally posted on the blog

Reboot is life!

I don't know where it started. The first time I encountered it was a Dilbert comic. Now, I throw it out half jokingly when people are asking for suggestions on how to solve a problem. I've worked with people that abused it; used it as an excuse to get the customer off their phone. I've even heard self-proclaimed computer illiterates shout it out from the other room, "Have you tried rebooting?"

When I wrote down the suggestion for a Tech Talk segment (which films this Friday) I had a chuckle over the choice of phrase. "The Power of the Reboot" sounds like the title to an evangelical sermon (and provided inspiration for naming this blog), but the more I've thought about it over the past couple of weeks, the more convinced I've become that a simple reboot is one of the most powerful tools we can use.

Think of it as the snake oil of IT support. Step right up and get your Reboot! You won't believe the wondrous, the fantastical, the near miraculous workings of this simple task. Have a problem sending email? Reboot! Is your printer not printing? Reboot! Internet not connecting? Reboot!

In fact, why stop with computers and other electronics? Reboot everything! My oven sometimes makes a high-pitched whine when I first turn it on. You know how I stop it? I turn off the oven, wait a few seconds and turn it back on. I actually reboot my oven!

What else can we turn off and back on? Cars! Next time your car is acting funny try this: Shutdown your car, wait 30 seconds to a minute for the parts to stop moving and then start it back up again. Just make sure you're not in traffic at the time.

Now that I think about it, it doesn't even have to be something that can be power-cycled. Rebooting has already made it into popular culture. We reboot entire movie and TV series now! Granted, that has more to do with running out of new ideas then recovering from an issue. Or maybe lack of material is the issue...

Joking aside for a moment, rebooting makes sense for a computer that is being left running 24/7/365. System resources are used and not completely released, so a reboot provides a clean starting point. Now that sounds familiar... Think about it. Every night your body enters a sleep state, during which time your brain uses dreams to process old data and thus reclaim resources and provide you with a clean starting point in the morning. So, you could say that, in a way, Reboot Is Life!

Now, if you will excuse me, I'm going to go reboot.