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Blaze staffers share how they really feel about the Mac 'color wheel of death


"I have too many sob stories to count..."

The attendees of the Technology, Entertainment and Design (TED) conference were recently treated to an Improv Everywhere experience that showed the all-too-familiar color wheel icon -- or beach ball depending on who you talk to -- that appears when your Mac decides to take forever while moving onto the next task, if it moves on at all. For PC users, think the endless hour glass.

(See the full prank in this Blaze article: TED pranked with 'color wheel of death' glitch during presentation on a Mac)

While this improv session was entertaining, it hit a little too close to home for Blaze writers -- most of whom work on Macs -- and have suffered forced reloads and loss of precious content to the spinning and overly cheery icon. It got me to thinking how I've often verbally commiserated with my comrades over the years on the color wheel of death (I go with that it's called a color wheel).

I decided to create this online therapy group for sufferers of the color wheel to share their sob stories and their own personal pet names for the icon that has ruined many a term paper, financial report, etc.

I'll start: My first experience with the color wheel of death came in college when I was working for the student newspaper. Our archaic design program ran on Macs that were far to nice for it. Each week on Wednesday nights my fellow designers and I would sit unblinkingly trying to put everything together on deadline. We would try remind each other to save often, but sometimes, it was too late. The color wheel popped up. Quick prayers were said and fingers crossed. But the page was lost. Now, my experience with the color wheel is daily. It's usually only a minor annoyance but occasionally a solid 30 minutes of writing is lost. It's a sad moment and I IM Billy Hallowell for some mental council -- he is our faith editor after all.

I've also polled other Blaze writers for their thoughts on the wheel.

Becket Adams, the Blaze business editor, said that he feels the "pinwheel" -- his preferred term -- has been haunting his activities more often lately. When asked if he had a preference between the pinwheel and the PC hour glass, he responded, "I prefer the hour glass because I expect my PC to be slow and screw up. I have higher expectation for my MAC." When asked if there were a better way, a better icon, he suggested a little positive reinforcement. "Maybe some flashing message of how awesome I am."

Assistant editor Mytheos Holt, like many on the Blaze staff, associates the color wheel with expletives. Like Becket though, he's more likely to side with pinwheel of death/doom. He also prefers the hour glass as he doesn't associate it with anything being broken. "I have too many sob stories to count, most of them involving trying to scroll down on news stories to get block quotes and having the pinwheel show up."

Assistant editor Chris Santarelli, on the other hand, seems to find the color wheel relaxing. When it pops up, he said that he "[goes] into  some kind of trance." For this reason, he prefers the wheel over the hour glass, since the hour glass evokes a sense of stress.

Front page editor Jon Seidl associates the wheel with frustration. "If it's spinning, that means I'm waiting and then not able to get work done! But here's the odd thing: I guess I've never really seen it as a color wheel, as odd as that sounds. I mean, I know it's a wheel that has colors, but it's one of those things that you just get so used to seeing, that it never really registers."

Share your own names, stories, etc. in the comments. Let the color wheel of death healing begin.

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