Shutting Down Or Why There Are So Many Patches

When you teach computer science, one of the key important things is the testing of the student created applications.  To make your point, you test the limitations of the program and do things like asking it to divide by zero or type a letter when the prompt is supposed to be looking for a digit or ask the program to do a calculation that exceeds the capacity of the computer or …

Why?

Because, “in the real world”, people want your software to work perfectly.

We all know that perfection isn’t necessarily our reality.  If you actually read the updates that are pushed out by your software developer, you may have been curious to find out what a Buffer Overflow is.  Fortunately, good software developers have a mechanism for collecting feedback about problems, analyse it, and then issue an update to fix the problem, if warranted.

This past week has been an embarrassing one for Apple.  They’re known for hardware and software that “just works”.  Apple fans will proudly proclaim this is what separates their products from the rest.

So, it was big news when a stream of text characters could be sent via text message and cause the receiving iPhone to shut down.

It was big news everywhere.

This is but a quick sampling.  You can tell the level of technology expertise with the various news sources in how deeply they investigate and report this.  Regardless, it’s not a good news event for Apple.

And, what do you do for a big news event like this?  Document it with a YouTube video, of course.  You have lots of offerings to choose from.

The good news is that Apple is actively working on a fix for this.  There’s rumours of at least a patch that’s available.  I don’t own an iPhone so can’t confirm it.  If you do, and are notified of an update, you should apply it as soon as possible.  It’s been a great fun event in schools with reports of people sending friends the message.  Obviously, students are skipping the advice that “just because you can do something, doesn’t mean you should do it”.  I guess everyone should have a proof of concept moment.

Supposedly, this is the text that causes the event.  Again, I can’t confirm this.

صّبُلُلصّبُررً ॣ ॣh ॣ ॣ

So, in other news of problems comes Alfred Thompson’s post about Windows LiveWriter not working with his Blogger account.  In this case, he was using software that had stopped being developed.  It’s a real shame since it really is the best (in my opinion) offline blog editor.  Because it is no longer supported, his options now are limited.  Either he’ll have to use another blog editor or he’ll have to change his blog host to something that does support it.  It’s a real problem for him but shows the concerns of working with software or hardware that is no longer supported by the original developers. In this case, it appears as though a relatively simple patch would resolve the issue.

It’s the price that we, as users, pay for having the latest and greatest tools.  If only things were so simple like a 1984 iPhone.

 

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