Thursday, October 19, 2023

MyShake Awake

MyShake is an app designed to warn users an earthquake's coming. It can't predict the future; rather, it relies on the fact that shock waves through the ground move much slower than the speed of light--similar to how the sound of thunder trails the flash of lightning--so that if a temblor happens a fair distance away, a cell phone signal can outrun the quake and give you a few seconds to drop and cover. 

It seems a prudent app to have here in California earthquake country. It seemed less prudent last night when a system test meant to go off at 10:19 a.m. this morning went off at 3:19 a.m. instead. By 3:25 a.m., I had fired off the following email to the MyShake people:

"I understand the need to test your system. Two notes:

"1. What good is a test without some way for us to tell you that we received it? 

"2. You don’t test a system designed to jolt users out of bed full of adrenaline IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT!

"Unintended Consequence: I will be deleting the app in the morning."

In the light of day, I probably won't delete the app. If/when I ever really need it, it could save my life, and that's worth a few false alarms. But last night, I was steamed.

My best guess is that somebody screwed up and set the alert time for the wrong time zone. 3:19 a.m. PDT is 10:19 a.m. Coordinated Universal Time (aka Greenwich Mean Time), which a lot of software defaults to. I would still appreciate an explanation and apology. MyShake owes me an hour of sleep.

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