Half a croissant, on a plate, with a sign in front of it saying '50c'
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Inspired by a true story!
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A robot consisting mainly of a camera, mechanical hands that can work a keyboard, and enough programming to know how and when to press a computer's power button or control-alt-delete keys, plus a few sequences for logging on and launching a program. This equipment is stored nearby - but separate from and never directly connected to a user's computer.

When a system problem occurs that requires multiple reboots to resolve, RebootBot is placed in front of the machine to perform these steps as many times as needed. Once it detects the computer is working correctly, it signals the human operator - "Here, you can have it back now."

This idea was inspired by a real event. A large company recently pushed an update to their malware prevention software. Most of the systems that received it became unusable. Another update was quickly deployed to fix it - but to apply the fix each computer had to stay connected to the network and be manually rebooted several times. On average it took about an hour per machine, and some took a lot longer.

A fleet of RebootBots could have saved them several thousand hours of human labor.

a1, Nov 17 2022

Reminded me of this https://www.tvbgone.com/
[pocmloc, Nov 17 2022]


       [pocmloc] - My wife and I both had those TV-B-Gone things. Great prank in a pub we used to visit, and we never got caught.
a1, Nov 17 2022

       So its a real thing? Wow.
pashute, Nov 19 2022

       Rather than a mechanical hand, it would be easier to plug it in via usb and simulate keyboard presses.   

       Similarly, rather than a camera, it would almost certainly be easier to plug it in to the display output.   

       I imagine that both of these could pass on the data, so you could watch what was happening and maybe interact if necessary.
Loris, Nov 20 2022

       What [Loris] said... Weird coincidence: Yesterday, just before I read this idea, my high schooler was playing with a board someone gave him: a Texas Instruments "MSP430F5529 USB LaunchPad™ development kit". With the default sample firmware, it emulates a USB keyboard and types a configurable message when you press a button. It would need a bit of reprogramming to allow ctrl-alt-delete, since it was only set up to type text from a text file, and that board isn't set up to monitor the video, but for $12.99 new, that's half the solution... The board has lots of other analog and digital inputs, so if the computer update was set up with an audio signal to indicate when it needed to reboot (perhaps it could be enabled with an accessibility feature), then this little board might do the whole job.
scad mientist, Nov 21 2022

       The problem with providing a data interface connection to workstations though is that your system configuration team may then feel they can remotely manage the RebootBots online.   

       That's how we got into this mess to begin with.
a1, Nov 21 2022

       Since that's a concern (wouldn't want a virus on the computer we plug this into reconfiguring the device), we can simply make sure the virtual RebootBot has only a one-way interface. There can be a second USB plug on the device that is used for configuring the device. Alternately only one USB plug, but when plugged in, the device cannot be accessed unless a special button on the device is pressed.
scad mientist, Nov 22 2022

       // the device cannot be accessed unless a special button on the device is pressed. //   

       Good. We can market an infinite regress of button pressing bots.
a1, Nov 22 2022

       A circle is better, if you can wiggle a USB connector 10° to one side then 36 of them form a circle and the last plugs into the first.
pocmloc, Nov 22 2022


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