2144: Adjusting a Chair

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Adjusting a Chair
When I was looking at the box, I should have thought more about what "360 degrees of freedom" meant.
Title text: When I was looking at the box, I should have thought more about what "360 degrees of freedom" meant.


This comic shows Cueball's attempts to adjust a swiveling chair. This comically culminates in a massive chair with a big central seat and several other chairs branching off of it as Cueball continues learning how to adjust it. The chair also apparently has so many controls it takes two hours to discover them all (although Cueball may have shown off his newly-discovered abilities in the mean time, so it might not take two hours of continuous experimentation).

As many people have experienced, these chairs can be quite difficult to raise, lower, or maneuver if one does not know how. Typically, the chairs have multiple knobs and levers underneath the seat, which requires the user to rely on muscle memory to find them, since these levers are commonly used while sitting in the chair. There are often several ways to manipulate each control (may be rotated, moved laterally, vertically, or axially.) One usually needs to experiment with the levers and knobs in a new chair to understand how to work the chair, and it appears Cueball is experimenting with them.

Each step gets farther away from what real-life office chairs could do. In sequence, Cueball finds his chair doing more and more surprising things:

Step Sound Chair's Ability
1 Clunk Being able to recline the seat back. Many office chairs do have this ability, which one can use for sitting comfort or perhaps to take a nap.
2 Hiss Being able to raise or lower the seat. Most office chairs have this ability, but the comic departs from real chairs in two ways. First, it's much higher than any real chair. Second, he can raise the height while sitting on it; under normal design, pressing the raise/lower lever while sitting on the chair is how one lowers the seat, using one's own weight to depress the spring or hydraulic piston (which is what's used here, as indicated by the sound). However, it's not uncommon to find a chair that has worn out or been improperly calibrated, so that it does rise even when sat on (especially with lighter people), or does not lower even when not sat upon with the lever active.
3 Poof Being able to have the seat inflate. Some chairs have inflatable backrests for better lumbar support, but typically no inflatable seats. Although this could be useful (e.g. to help people who need to use extra seat cushions because of hemorrhoids or coccyx injury), it is not a typical office chair capability. However, in addition to simply inflating, Cueball's chair appears to actually make the seat longer and wider. Some chairs allow the arm rests to be adjusted closer or further away. Having the seat also adjust would similarly be useful to accommodate larger people (as for instance some wheelchairs are built wider than usual for wider people or for people who have extra dressings).
4 None Forming a chair out of multiple sub-chairs. Putting out branches and growing extra seats, wheels and backs. Chairs definitely cannot do this in real life[citation needed] and use cases are doubtful. Some chairs do have back-rests in several pieces. Being able to add more wheels could be convenient to increase stability, or decrease pressure on soft flooring.

The title text refers to a common claim on such chairs, that the chair offers 360 degrees rotation and several degrees of freedom. This is a double entendre, depending on if "360 degrees" or "degrees of freedom" is interpreted as an object. However, here it means there are 360 mechanical degrees of freedom, which is the number of independent parameters that define the configuration of an object; in other words, the chair has 360 different levers and options, far more than a standard chair[citation needed].


[Cueball is shown adjusting a chair by pressing a button on the bottom of the chair. There is a caption in a frame over the top of the panel:]
Adjusting a chair:
[The seat back of the chair swings backward with him rather fast as shown by a few movement lines.]
Chair: Clunk
[Cueball leans forward against the new chair position and presses another button.]
[The chair extends to several times its previous height, very fast as shown by many lines beneath the seat.]
Chair: Hiss
[At the top of this very high seat Cueball leans forward and presses another button.]
[The seat expands in all directions, so Cueball only sits in the middle of it with his legs on top of the inflated cushion.]
Chair: Poof
[The chair is now a massive contraption. It has 5 bases, each with wheels as the original chair. The main's seat is in the middle of the contraption with a single trunk going up from the five bases connecting them and the large cushion of the seat. Two entire chairs are branching out from underneath this central seat, they are each hanging in a thin wire more or less upside down to each side of the main trunk. Two poles are coming up from the central seat, each with a new seat and two back-to-back seat backs. Yet another seat is supported by a thin rod connecting the two top seats, looking almost like a table between the two chairs. Cueball is still on the main seat's cushion. He is holding on to one of the poles above him as he leans down and attempts to press yet another button beneath the seat. There is a caption in a frame over the top of the panel:]
Two hours later...

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I believe "degrees of freedom" is referring to the how the term is used in scientific theories, where degrees of freedom refers to how many variables exist in the theory to "tune" its predictions. A theory with many degrees of freedom is less constrained in what it can predict, like with the Big Bang theory of cosmology. Ianrbibtitlht (talk) 15:22, 1 May 2019 (UTC)

I stand by my definition on mechanical degrees of freedom, aka axes of rotation/extension/motion. That's right, Jacky720 just signed this (talk | contribs) 19:52, 1 May 2019 (UTC)
That's definitely the correct meaning for this. See Degrees of freedom (mechanics) and Six degrees of freedom. And maybe specifically number of degrees of freedom on robotic arms (which tends to be number between 3 and 14). -- Hkmaly (talk) 21:08, 1 May 2019 (UTC)

This feels like it would have been a good concept for an April Fools comic if it were made to be interactive 16:57, 1 May 2019 (UTC)

So, English question, somebody corrected the explanation on this. Is it "maneuver" or "manoeuvre"? I think it's a matter of British or American English, and I'm not sure what the wiki prefers. That's right, Jacky720 just signed this (talk | contribs) 19:52, 1 May 2019 (UTC)

Clearly this chair is one of the products that Beret Guy's Business sells. 23:15, 1 May 2019 (UTC)

I was more surprised it was not Beret Guy producing this last chair. It would have been something that was possible for him to do with any old office chair. --Kynde (talk) 12:26, 3 May 2019 (UTC)

Isn't the "Two hours later" caption a reference to SpongeBob?

I'd say these type of time passing descriptions are more or less the same age as comic books. I didn't even know this is a meme, now... Example in the fourth panel at 2:44 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lSKp8cjpEUo ;) Elektrizikekswerk (talk) 07:33, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
Yeah, I'd say it's not any more a reference to spongebob than to every other play, comic book, movie, tv series, or novel that skips over a time period in that way. PotatoGod (talk) 20:12, 2 May 2019 (UTC)
Yes that is not a specific reference. It is a reference to time passing... As old as time itself ;-) --Kynde (talk) 12:26, 3 May 2019 (UTC)
Just checked and Randall already used it back in 309: Shopping Teams in 2007. --Kynde (talk) 12:33, 3 May 2019 (UTC)

But can it do this? 13:07, 2 May 2019 (UTC)

The chair in the last panel looks like something a GAN (generative adversarial neural network) would come up with. It has lots of very chair-ish parts, so it must be a chair, right? Aaron Rotenberg (talk) 15:13, 2 May 2019 (UTC)

The chair in the last panel also looks like one large chair made up of normal-ish size chair parts. Tait marconi (talk) 19:42, 2 May 2019 (UTC)

Hmm yes as seen from the front maybe? --Kynde (talk) 12:26, 3 May 2019 (UTC)

There's those school lunch tables - Google will show you - that fold away, and that have rows of seats built-in to the mechanism, so that all the seats are deployed as you open out the table. Robert Carnegie, gml. rja.carnegie. 08:15, 3 May 2019 (UTC)

I think I fought one of these chairs in Undertale 14:29, 3 May 2019 (UTC)

My office chair likes to randomly pop up on its own when I stand up. More often than not, the backrest cushion ends up smashing into the table behind me. These Are Not The Comments You Are Looking For (talk) 04:42, 6 May 2019 (UTC)

The last picture looks like a reference to discworld, the elephants on a turtle supporting the world.