About Twunked

This blog takes its name from a Photoshop error encountered in my college newsroom.

We had ancient computers (and remember, this was back in the dark ages) one of which was the designated photo computer, complete with a scanner, a negative scanner (remember: dark ages. Consumer digitals were a) too expensive for college kids and b) 1.2 megapixels.) and a then-ancient copy of Photoshop. Like, before layers ancient.

Well, every so often, Photoshop would crash hard for reasons unknown, and we’d get a box that proclaimed we encountered the TWUNK error.

This was a disaster, because the crash would often affect the other machines on the local network in the newsroom (see: dark ages) and everyone could lose work.

The error name became a joke: the system was twunked; overtired, slap-happy student journalists were twunked; ugly pages were twunked …

Until three years later, when I finally called Adobe and asked what on God’s green earth the TWUNK error was, how to fix it, and why they named it such.

The nice geek on the phone told me it was something wrong with the program’s communication with the negative scanner (yes, still used three years later — dark ages) and how to avoid it, and then explained that programmers named files weird things to avoid having 10 applications all with their own “main” file. So the error was with the twunk file. (I think it was the TWUNK_32 file, but don’t quote me on that.)

Lo these many years later, (okay, not that many) I’m still getting twunked at the intersection of media and technology. But sooner or later, I learn.