Brad Feld

Tag: bugs

The word “platform” used to mean something in the technology industry. Like many other words, it has been applied to so many different things to almost be meaningless.

Yesterday, when I started seeing stuff about the MacOS High Sierra blank root password bug, I took a deep breath and clicked on the first link I saw, hoping it was an Onion article. I read it, picked my jaw up off the floor, and then said out loud “Someone at Apple got fired today.”

Then I wondered if that was true and realized it probably wasn’t. And, that someone probably shouldn’t be fired, but that Apple should do a very deep root cause analysis on why a bug like this could get out in the wild as part of an OS release.

Later in the day, I pulled up Facetime to make a call to Amy. My computer sat there and spun on contacts for about 30 seconds before Facetime appeared. While I shrugged, I once again thought “someone at Apple should fix that once and for all.”

It happened again a few hours later. Over Thanksgiving, I gave up trying to get my photos and Amy’s photos co-managed so I finally just gave all my photos to Apple and iCloud in a separate photo store from all of Amy’s photos (which include all of our 25,000 or so shared photos.) I was uninstalling Mylio on my various office machines and opening up Photo so that the right photo store would be set up. I went into Photos to add a name to a Person that I noticed in my Person view and the pretty Apple rainbow spun for about 30 seconds after I hit the first name of the person’s name.

If you aren’t familiar with this problem, if you have a large address book (like mine, which is around 20,000 names), autocomplete of a name or email in some (not all) Mac native apps is painfully slow.

I opened up my iPhone to see if the behavior on the iPhone was similar with my contacts and it wasn’t. iOS Contacts perform as expected; MacOS Contacts don’t. My guess is totally different people (or teams) work on code which theoretically should be the same. And, one is a lot better than the other.

At this point, I realized that Apple probably had a systemic platform layer engineering problem. It’s not an OS layer issue (like the blank root password bug) – it’s one level up. But it impacts a wide variety of applications that it should be easily abstracted from (anything on my Mac that uses Contacts.) And this seems to be an appropriate use of the word platform.

Software engineering at scale is really difficult and it’s getting even more, rather than less, challenging. And that’s fascinating to me.

Let’s start with my bias. I love Twitter, use it all the time (a lot more than Facebook), and will continue to love and root for Twitter.

I’ve been a Twitter for Mac user for a long time. I know it’s out of favor with all the cool kids, but it works for me.

It sits quietly on the left side of my giant screen and whenever a little dot shows up next to the second icon (I think it’s a tilted bell) I know I have something that has @bfeld in it that I should look at or respond to. And, when I feel like tweeting something, the app is right there on the left side of my screen.

Last week when Twitter for Mac was upgraded to raving from folks like Cult of Mac in their post Twitter for Mac doesn’t suck anymore I was psyched to install the update from the Mac App Store. So I did.

Here’s the problem. Suddenly refresh no longer works on the notification page (second icon). Now, when there’s a little dot there, I have to click the first icon (Home) and then the second icon (titled bell).

Sadness ensued. I presume that this has already been reported to gang at Black Pixel. I was hoping this would get fixed in version 4.0.1 which came out yesterday. But it didn’t. So here’s hoping for 4.02.

I’ve always had a knack for quickly finding bugs.  It’s not hard with most software / web services as the bugs are everywhere, but they like to emerge from the shadows when I tickle my computer.

I’ve been running Outlook 2010 for a few weeks since it shipped.  Now that I’m used to the new ribbon UI, I find it much improved over Outlook 2007.  I particularly like the Conversations view which was long overdue (and works really well) and am amused that most of the memory leaks / shut down issues are gone.  Given the amount of email I jam through on a daily basis, my Outlook workflow is particularly well tuned and while I’ve tried to switch to Gmail, it hasn’t happened yet.  Maybe I’ll try again when Gmail gives me an option to not have a conversation view.

I ran into a surprisingly lame Outlook 2010 bug the other day.  I run an inbox zero drill although I fought to get there for about ten days after my week off the grid in May.  When I got there the other day, I was stunned to see that apparently no one tested for a classic off-by-one error – namely what happens when you have no messages in your inbox after you delete the last one.

They got half of it right.


Note the “There are no items to show in this view” in the left mail items list view.  However, not the remnant message – the last email that I was reading that I recently hit delete on – in the right reading pane.  Since there are no items in the mail item list view and nothing selected (since there is nothing to select), the right reading pane should be blank.  It’s obviously not.

Through the magic of email I was able to test this several times.  Specifically, inbox zero is a condition that doesn’t remain for long in my world.  As a few new messages came in, I read, responded, and deleted.  The error persisted.

It’ll be interesting to see if Microsoft fixes this in a quick patch or, if like the Snipping Tool close error, it persists – well – forever.