Classical music, alarm clocks, software?

On hearing classical music every day at midnight, our hero, JoS, decides to investigate. He finds the culprit. Excerpts follow:

“Oh, that thing? I have no idea how to use that thing. I never use it,” she said. “I’ll disconnect it completely.”

“Not necessary,” I said, and turned off the alarm, set the volume to zero, and, in my late-onset OCD, set the clock to the exact time.

Mrs. C was terribly apologetic, but it really wasn’t her fault. It took me—me!—quite a while to figure out how to operate the damn clock radio, and let me tell you, sonny boy, I know a thing or two about clock radios. The UI was terrible. Your average little old lady didn’t stand a chance.

Is it the clock radio’s fault? Sort of. It was too hard to use. It had an alarm that continued to go off daily even if nobody touched it the day before, which is not the greatest idea. And there’s no reason to reset the alarm time to midnight after a power outage. 7:00 am would be a completely civilized default.

Somehow, over the last few weeks, I’ve become hypercritical. I’m always looking for flaws in things, and when I find them, I become single-minded about fixing them. It’s a particular frame of mind, actually, that software developers get into when they’re in the final debugging phase of a new product.

It’s hard enough to write well, Joel does it when he’s writing about software and makes it interesting, which is remarkable. Read A game of inches by our regularly featured detective Joel.


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