Wednesday, January 5, 2011

When Technology Fails Us- Apple's 2011 Alarm Bug

When alarms do you.
Like millions of others around the globe, I didn't wake up on time on that faithful first Monday of 2011.  Nope, I slept right through my normal work day "wake-up" time.  Eventually my internal alarm clock kicked in and forced me to wonder what I was still doing asleep. I awoke and surveyed the room.  I spotted the nearest digital display which told me that my iTouch alarm had not gone off. I distinctly recall setting my alarm the night before (like I did for the 365 days the previous year). Luckily, I had only overslept for 30 minutes or so.

The culprit was laying right where I put it the night before.  The sound was turned on, the clock icon was displayed in the upper right hand corner as it should, yet no alarm sounded.  At the time this failure was very puzzling, but a little early to be troubleshooting.  I moved on to more pressing matters.

Of course everyone by now has either heard about or experienced first hand the alarm bug that caused a little turmoil in iProduct owner's lives.  Headlines range from "Europe wakes up an hour late" to "Did Iphone Bug Contribute to Lakers Loss?".

Throughout the day the Apple iTouch puzzled me.  "I must have done something wrong.", I thought. It must be "operator error".  It was not until hours later at the campus fitness center that I glanced up from a stationary bike to a muted flat screen on the wall. I read the words "apple alarm bug" as they zoomed by on CNN's news bulletin marque.  Ah ha!  I was almost elated that I was not the only one.  Somehow the news made me feel better, but then it got me thinking.

I imagined the poor programmer, team, or whomever was responsible for the bug/error.  I then imagined the ways in which this simple small (seemingly benign) bug probably caused millions in damages and real heartache to many people.  Being the first Monday of the year, probably many people were starting new jobs, taking the first business trip of the year, or had their first 2011 job interview (hopefully they were not all late).

The point is that technology can fail.  The Apple iTouch alarm that I used for over 1 year everyday worked flawlessly and then one day, fails.  Sure, there was a new calendar year in the mix.  Should we second guess all of our technology at the beginning of calendar years?  Somehow I thought we were over that since the last new millennium 2000 scare. Or was it 2001 that was supposed to be the bad one?  It didn't happen, so we don't care and have all but forgotten it.

In a world that is becoming more and more digital, a lack of a better term "programmed", we must take some control if not some measure of caution when allowing technology to aid us.  Having devices and technology that has proven to work time and time again may go dark on that faithful day that you really need it to work.  HAL 9000 is the classic sci-fi nightmare scenario of technology gone bad, played out in 2001: A Space Odyssey (check it out if you have never seen the movie or read the book by Arthur C. Clark).

If you have a really important appointment or perhaps a really early flight to catch, go ahead and set that iPhone alarm once again.  I am sure that Apple won't let that alarm bug occur again for at least another 100 years.  If you are really worried about waking up on time, better set that trusty wind-up analog alarm clock too.

*Information contained within these pages do not necessarily reflect the opinions or views of Schreiner University.

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