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Monday, January 3, 2011

The IPhone's Alarm Breaks - Again!

OK, so this seems like deja vu all over again. Only a couple of months back, Apple's IPhone had a problem with its alarms that got all confused by the end of daylight savings time, and alerted people to their appointments an hour later than they had planned on being alerted. And now, it looks like the infamous alarm application has a problem dealing with a new year!

I still have not actually read an article that explained the previous failure fully. For instance, when daylight savings time ends, the clock is turned back by an hour. If the alarm were not adjusted correctly, it would seem intuitive and logical that it would wake people up an hour earlier than it had been set to. Instead, it woke them up an hour later. So, the problem is not simply to do with the time adjustment alone.

And, the latest problem with the alarm proves that time adjustments have nothing to do with the tendency of this alarm application to break repeatedly. There was no time change associated with the rollover to a new year, and yet the alarm goes berserk and decides to sleep on the job for an extra hour!

This brings into question the overall competence of whoever was tasked with creating this app in the first place. Alarm applications have been part of computing since the earliest days of personal computing. The first alarm application was probably coded up 30 years back! You would think that the basic and simple functionality required by an alarm application (check the system time every minute or so and if the system time is equal to when the alarm is set for, beep or do whatever you are supposed to do) would have been perfected and mastered by now.

So, what exactly is going on with the IPhone's alarm app? Is it too difficult for its developer(s) to recreate the simple logic of a working, reliable alarm? Assuming the developer was too stupid to do that, the least they could have done was copy an existing alarm application (there are probably millions of such apps available all over the place) without introducing bugs of their own. It looks like the developer was too incompetent to do either of these simple things. They chose to reinvent something that does not need any inventing, and in the process they have introduced inexcusable bugs into the product.

Is this a sign of cost-cutting at Apple? Maybe the alarm app was written by chimpanzees that had not been fully trained. Or perhaps they had been fed fewer bananas than had been promised to them, resulting in them exacting revenge on Apple with insidious bugs in the applications they created! Or perhaps, the work environment at Apple is too good, resulting in too much celebration, leading to inebriated programmers (or chimpanzees) writing malfunctioning code!!

It is as if you tasked someone with designing the wheels for your vehicle (which by the way was going to be the fastest, shiniest, greenest vehicle in the world), and they came up with octagonal wheels instead of circular ones. And they would fall off once you went past 10 mph! It just makes me shake my head in wonder and amazement. This is the company that is credited with reinventing computing, what with the success of the IPhone and IPad. Instead, they seem to be reinventing the wheel, and are still in the experimental stages with it!

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