technology from hell

There’s been quite a dust up the last few days in some corners of the blogosphere over an interview that Bill Gates gave for Newsweek in which he gets a bit peevish about Apple’s ads tweaking Windows, and comparisons between the Mac in general and Vista. Personally, I thought he came off sounding a bit defensive. A general rule of thumb I’ve found is that you never come off sounding good when you accuse someone of lying.

I might have a bit more sympathy for old Bill if Microsoft could manage to get even some basic details right in some of their other products. Case in point: my wife has a Windows Mobile phone from Cingular. It’s nice, very nice. She used to carry around a PDA, cell phone, day planner and god knows what else to keep herself organized. About 6 months ago she “upgraded” to a Cingular 8125 mobile phone.

It’s an impressive piece of technology. I almost wish I had one, sometimes. It does almost everything you could want an all-in-one thing to do.


It’s alarm clock is unforgivably broken.

She’s made the mistake of using her it as an alarm clock. After all, it has a built-in alarm function. She uses it for everything else, in the interests of keeping things simple, why not use it to get her up in the morning? For the first month or so it worked perfectly. Then it started occasionally missing alarms. That went on for a couple of weeks until one morning, it wouldn’t shut off for a couple of minutes after it did decide to go off. Things rapidly got worse. Within a couple of days the alarm was going off repeatedly, refusing to shut off until she removed the battery. It was stuck on an alarm set for 6 am, and unfortunately the alarm was the sound of barking dogs.

When was the last time you reset it?” “Remember, it is a computer, shit happens.” “How do you do a hard reset?” “Does syncing it with your PC take care of the problem?” “What happens after you put the battery back in?” I was full of helpful suggestions, none of which helped. Removing the battery stopped it (obviously), but as soon as she put the battery back in the barking would pick up right where it left off. The last straw came one early morning when, more than half asleep she removed the battery and it kept barking. I let the confusion, mixed with panic sink in for a couple of seconds until I pointed out that it was still plugged in. 🙂

Do a google search for Windows mobile alarm problem. It seems that it’s well known that Windows mobile 5 (and earlier versions) has a completely broken alarm clock. We decided as a last ditch effort to fix it that reinstalling the most current version of the ROM might be a Good Thing to try. Wrong. Half way through the reinstall, the screen on the phone locked up, and the poor thing died. Four paws up.

Long story short, after spending 2+ hours on the phone with Cingular raising her blood pressure, they agreed to replace the phone. She got the new phone and for the last four months everything has worked fine, until today when it started displaying exactly the same dysfunctional behavior that the first phone did as it slid into digital dementia.

With a market cap of almost $300B, Microsoft can’t write a simple alarm clock that works for Windows mobile devices. There’s no excuse. Let me just say that again, there’s no excuse. So let’s just say that I don’t have too much sympathy for Mr. Gates when he gets a bit bitchy when the subject of Apple comes up.

It’s a good thing my $20 Timex wristwatch has a reliable alarm clock function. I don’t know what we’d do otherwise.


~ by Dave on 02/07/07.

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