The Bug That Dare Not Say Its Name

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I have long felt that the minimal unit of computer-related annoyance, the bug, is a bit too large and unwieldy to truly and accurately express the actual experience of interacting with a computer. We all know about the regular bugs: the show-stoppers, the app-crashers and system-lockers. But what about those littler critters, the sub-bug issues — things too small to report, or call tech support for, or even really consciously notice, but which are constantly cropping up under our fingertips.

An example: When I’ve got too much going on in Firefox, the hot keys start cutting out. I’ve learned to expect it. They just go cold. Command N no longer produces a new browser window. Command 1, 2, 3, etc. no longer assist me in cycling between tabs. You can still do what you wanna do, you just have to do it manually — go to the file menu, select new window. Click on the tab you want with the mouse. Etc. There’s nothing you can do to fix it, and barely any point in fixing it anyway. It’s not a big problem, you’re barely aware of it. It’s just annoying, and it happens all the time.

I feel like my day is made up of such idiotic, meaningless microevents. Scroll bars that won’t scroll. Links that don’t feel like linking. There must be a word for these things. Critters? Microbes? Sub-bugs? Buglets? Buggles?

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