Last night Google rolled out a bug that would be comical if it weren't so astounding and grating: Open your Gmail inbox, and old school ragtime music starts playing, and can't be stopped. The solution: Use less Google.
The bug, you see, only occurs if you're using Google's browser, Chrome, and if you're among those initially offered a new Gmail feature called "Priority Inbox," which was rolled out last night and which automatically decides which of your mail is most urgent and puts it at the top of your inbox screen. The ragtime music is only supposed to play when you select a link about Priority Inbox; it's apparently connected to an embedded YouTube video demonstrating the feature, a video that's supposed to be visible and audible only after you click the Priority Inbox link. There's a video of the bug in action above; the music starts about eight seconds in. (The video shows how to turn off the music, but it comes right back whenever you load a new Gmail page.)
The fix for now: Switch from Google's browser to Firefox, per the Google support forums, or mute your computer. There are also reports that activating Priority Inbox will banish the music. Google, for its part, says it is working on fixing the bug, though it's been active for more than 12 hours now. It's fairly amazing that this bug made it past Google's testers; perhaps Priority Inbox, like Google Buzz, bypassed the company's customary quality assurance process. Given how long it's remained unfixed, and given that Priority Inbox will be rolling out to new users throughout this week, get ready for random bursts of ragtime from fellow coworkers, roommates and café patrons. If that happens, just have some giggle water and tell the offender he's being a real palooka.