Oct 28, 2012

What one silly software engineer is capable of doing?

You know what one silly software engineer working in an influential software company is capable of doing? Digest this:

  • Millions of laptops waking up unnecessarily from sleep and overheating inside their carry bags
  • Millions of laptop batteries’ life span shortened by 6 months or more
  • Undue energy wastage across the globe
  • Undue global warning across the globe

That’s right. Looks hard to believe? Well, you have to see this for yourself.

For a couple weeks I was struggling with a problem. My Lenovo T420 running Windows 7 Enterprise SP1 (x64) would randomly wake up from sleep while kept in its carry bag. It would do this on its own – without my knowing – and would overheat like crazy till it’s battery ran out.

This started happening only recently. I was not sure what action of mine triggered this behavior. I maintain my laptop software very efficiently and regularly perform the following activities:

  • Updating system BIOS firmware
  • Updating system device drivers
  • Updating installed applications to their latest versions
  • Cleaning up the hard disk using the built-in Disk Cleanup utility and CCleaner (a third-party utility)
  • Defragmenting the hard disk every couple of weeks
  • Installing new software to try out – particularly useful and highly rated system utilities and development tools and frameworks (I am a software development manager by profession)

It was apparent that one of these things had caused a change in my system settings that was causing this weird behavior. But what was it? I wanted to isolate it and revert it so that I could use my laptop when I needed it – and not discover it was at 0% battery charge.

Using the Event Viewer in Windows, this is what I found out:


Hmm… Apparently, there is a scheduled task that tries to check whether an update is available for Windows Media Center application. But why did my laptop wake up from sleep, just to check for this update. I opened the Task Scheduler and opened the properties associated with this task:


Sure enough. There it was. Scheduled to check for updates to Windows Media Center daily. And also setup to wake up the laptop from sleep every time it needs to check for update to itself. Horror of horrors.

What kind of idiot programmer would think that the software application that he has worked on, is so bloody important, that it needs to be CHECKED FOR UPDATES DAILY, and also to WAKE UP THE COMPUTER FROM SLEEP TO APPLY THE UPDATE?

What a shame! This one self-absorbed and pompous guy wants to force the latest version of his software down your throat the moment it gets released, even if he has to wake you, your mom, your grandmother, your laptop and your entire goddamned neighborhood from sleep.

If I were Microsoft, I would fix this issue through an auto-update marked with high importance right away, and save millions of units of power across the globe. Not to forget the blessings from millions of customers who find their laptop battery drained out when they need it the most.

Oct 20, 2012

Broken Website and Zero Support on GreenDust.com

While I was looking for a USB wall charger (i.e. travel adapter) a couple of days ago, I discovered an online retail website named GreenDust.com.

I found a great bargain on this website – a Nextech USB wall-charger (aka travel adapter) for INR 349.


I quickly hit the “Buy Now” button, created an account on the website, provided my e-mail ID, billing and shipping details, credit card information and completed the transaction.

I received two e-mails from the website immediately:

  1. Confirmation for registration. This e-mail displayed the e-mail ID and password (in plain text) that I had used for registration.
  2. Confirmation of order. This e-mail displayed the confirmation of placing the order and had an order number assigned to me.

Satisfied with the job done, I logged out. However, my troubles had just begun.

Next day, I navigated to the website to check my order status. I tried logging in with my e-mail ID and password (the same ones that I had used to register and had an e-mail confirmation for).

This is what I saw: Error: No match for E-Mail Address and/or Password.


This must be some mistake. Maybe I had mistyped the e-mail ID or the password. I tried again. Same message. And again. Same. And yet again. Same message.

What the shit! I hunted on their website and pulled up their Customer Support e-mail ID. Wrote an e-mail to them with the issue and patiently waited for a response.

Nothing. I did some more experimentation using Charles Web Proxy. Looks like they hire idiots as programmers, because I discovered a 21 second delay in loading some web pages due to a CSS page being referenced on a 192.168.x.x IP address. What sort of foolish programmer could make that mistake?


I wrote another e-mail to Customer Support explaining the issue. No response. Finally, I called their Customer Support on phone.

A human answered. Good.

Here’s my order number. Can you please check its status?

Yes, we see your order. However, your order cannot be shipped because it contains neither your shipping address, nor your billing address.

But I provided them on the website. Don’t you see these are mandatory fields and your website cannot accept an order without this information.

Sorry sir, let me check it out.

3 minutes on hold.

Sorry sir, looks like there is some problem. Let me enter the details for you.

I repeated the billing address and shipping address on phone.

Oh, one more thing. Can you please check my account? I am unable to login. Let me give you my account details.

Sir, can I put you on hold again?

Another 3 minutes passed.

Sir, sorry for putting you on hold. But you will not be able to login unless we ship your order.

What!!? Are you sure about that?

Positively sure, sir.

I have shopped online from hundreds of websites, but never encountered this issue. Can you please verify if this indeed is the issue and my account isn’t wiped out from your database?

Yes sir. I am confident.

Whatever. But I hope my inability to login on your website won’t impact my order shipment.

No sire. Have a nice day.

Now I am positively sure that some kind of database rollback happened on their side and my account details are wiped out. That explains my inability to login, and my missing shipping and billing address in the order. But they are not going to admit it, will they?

After this experience, 2 more days elapsed. I am still waiting to hear back from their customer support. I tried logging in their website today, but to no avail. The same CSS problem exists. My account is still not recognized. And I am not sure if my order will ever ship.

Weird website, this GreenDust.com. Avoid if possible.