A Different Sort of Three-Body Problem

This is post is silly. You’ll shortly see why.

A certain class of problems, known as n-body problems, features a rather famous problem of a special case – the “three body” problem. This problem, which captured the attention of notable mathematicians including Henri Poincaré and Leonhard Euler, is spelled out in Wikipedia as

“…the problem of taking the initial positions and velocities (or momenta) of three point masses and solving for their subsequent motion according to Newton’s laws of motion and Newton’s law of universal gravitation.”

Here’s the silly part. I’ve become persuaded that whenever a customer has to resolve a matter with three separate vendors – who may or may not cooperate and, if they do choose to cooperate, are likely to do so only to the extent their own interests are served – the customer faces a three body problem. Today the three bodies I was wrestling with included Network Solutions (which has long been registrar for the domain tomhigley.com), Google (which manages my tom@tomhigley.com email), and WordPress.com, which now hosts my tomhigley.com blog.

How hard can this be? Turns out, it can ridiculously painful. And I think most of the pain is accidentally inflicted and would go away almost completely if I were purchasing a package from any one of the three vendors. I could buy access to a WordPress.com site and a G Suite account from Network Solutions. If I did, I expect setup would be a breeze. I could buy access to domain, email and GSuite via WordPress, and if I did, the process would be easy to manage. It’s only when I purchase services separately from each vendor that the burden falls to me of coordinating them and making them all play together nicely.

To be fair, the two people who participated from Network Solutions who participated in chats did their very best to try to resolve DNS, A Record, CNAME and other issues. And all three people I connected with at WordPress did whatever they could, with Jess (the last person who responded) finally providing enough detail and enough clarity to make a resolution seem possible.

But you get the issue. I’ve mentioned 5 different people – to resolve a problem that should be stupidly simple to address. So, while it seems silly to say so, the communication process in these 3-cornered situations quickly becomes sufficiently complex that it feels like an attempt to resolve a three body problem.

(A side note. If you’re a science fiction fan and you’ve not read Cixin Liu’s “The Three-Body Problem,” I recommend it.)