[Background in the beginning … those who are interested in reading about bug I am talking about, skip first few paragraphs and go straight to Bug]
There is a saying that "Software users, most of the time, do not use the software as perceived by the designers or analyst". I happen to deploy Microsoft outlook as an alarm clock for me to help with a wake-up call. I am away from home, not carrying a cell phone, ipod is not a good tool for this purpose, buying an alarm clock for short duration would be a waste … hence zeroed in on Outlook meeting reminder feature as a software solution to help me to give wake up call.
I set up a recurring meeting of 0 minutes at say 7:00 AM everyday in the morning with reminder zero minutes. I thought this would work. I needed another hack … a sound alarm long enough for me to wake up. Most of small sound files shipped with windows/MS office were not helping me with this purpose. I had Yahoo messenger on my machine with an audio file that plays for few seconds. I decided to use that as reminder sound file. Even there was a problem. I thought 2-3 secs of Yahoo sound file might not be long enough to wake me up. So I needed to play this one file repeatedly say 7-8 times and record the whole thing so that I can get a sound file that plays for 8-10 seconds.
I went live with this setup, thinking that my next day's worries of waking up at specified time were over. It seems that UAT was not proper … first morning the alarm did not wake me up at all… when I investigated, I discovered that previous night before sleeping, I had muted the audio of the laptop … so far so good. I was waiting for next day to see if it works … Bingo … it did … exactly the way I wanted. No big deal I thought. However, I was happy to discover a low cost (zero indeed) technology to a problem in hand … software alarm clock.
I am sure there might be better ways … one could have written a small program in VB or Perl or Python to do this … with even snooze feature …. But, I think my solution worked for me … only to fail next day …. What ..? Yes, next day, the important day where I had some important meetings to attend… Outlook alarm failed … Is that a bug … Looks like I accidently stumbled on this bug …
[BUG] I think few hours before the scheduled appointment – alarm to kick off, a pop-up message about (Junk Email alert) came up prompting the user to take action. This is a modal window. Hence before dismissing this dialog box, outlook cannot proceed with any other pop-up windows like meeting reminders. So, my wake-up alarm did not get activated as there was a modal window waiting to be acted upon.
Is this a bug? May be or may not be …. Some might argue that this is not a bug as outlook is not supposed to be used this way. A developer may say that Junk email feature was required to be implemented as modal dialog box, it was assumed that people will act upon it … as they do for any other modal dialog box. Others may say it is too small problem to worry about …Some may even point out a work around for me … check on "Please do not show this dialog again"… so that my alarms will work without any problem. The Fix might be simple … (superficially) just make it as non modal window…. Or there can be other implications. I do not know... What if I had missed the flight back to India due to this software problem? What if I was delayed to all important meeting due to this software problem leading to huge financial loss?
What do you think?