Tag Archives: Fault

Time Gentlemen Please

At one of my previous employers, in our part of IT you were always well advised to avoid being on out of hours support over the last weekend in March and especially over the last weekend in October, the reason being that these are the clock change weekends, and more often than not one system or other would not cope with the changeover particularly well. Indeed there was one system that we were usually advised to shut down overnight on the Saturday because it really didn’t cope very well with having 1am-2am twice.

Clock change problems are not a new issue, if the system hasn’t been properly coded and tested it’s quite easy to program the system against the local time and run into quite serious issues when the clocks change. The generally accepted technique is to code everything to work from UTC, which doesn’t change, and then present times in local time.

As a result, what happened today with iPhone’s all across the UK came as rather a surprise – especially as it’s not been a problem before.

I have a couple of recurring alarms. One is set for weekdays, but then I have one timed at 8:15am for church on a Sunday.

This morning it didn’t go off. The time on the phone was correct, as was the time in the clock application, but it just didn’t ring. An hour later whilst I was in the bathroom, at 9:15am it did finally go off.

Those people used to time change problems would probably be quite surprised by that – if the alarm hadn’t taken account of the change you’d expect it to go off an hour early rather than an hour late, but from testing recurring alarms are consistently going off an hour late.

What is even more interesting is how I’ve got the alarms to ring at the right time. I tried restarting the phone and changing the timezone to somewhere else and back, and also trying to change the time, none of them appear to work. The one thing that has is something that will work for people in the UK, and that is changing the timezone to Iceland.

The significant point about Iceland is that they don’t observe daylight savings – they are permanently on UTC/GMT, so in the winter their time is the same as the UK, and in the summer an hour different. Switching to that timezone and immediately all the recurring alarms start working at the correct time.

What is perhaps most surprising about the problem is that Apple have known about it for a while, as there were similar problems in Australia and New Zealand when their clocks changed. Apple however haven’t fixed it, and unless something appears in the next week are sailing headlong into a massive problem when the US and Canada change their clocks next week. Best get ready for the uproar as thousands of people who rely on their iPhones to wake them up are all an hour late…

Update Day two after the clock change, and one iPhone worked fine, the other still went off an hour late! The difference between the two is the one that worked had alarms that were recreated in the London timezone after the clocks had changed. Whilst they still rang an hour late whilst in the London zone, they work fine in Iceland. On the other the only change we made was to switch the timezone, so the alarms were created in BST.

Further comment online indicates that the problem doesn’t occur if the alarm is set to repeat every day, only if they repeat on some days in the week.

Alarms have been recreated on the second iPhone, so we’ll see what happens on day three.

Sluggish Site Performance

Apologies if the site seems rather sluggish at the moment. Unfortunately having done maintenance work on their systems today, my ISP has suffered a couple of hardware failures, and is currently operating on reduced capacity on their server cluster – especially with regards to sites like this one that use a lot of PHP. As a result, although things are up and running, they’re a little slow at the moment. Normal service should be resumed later in the week, once the hardware faults have been rectified.

An Annoying Fault

Hopefully this won’t be the start of a Golf grumbles category, to go with the category full of Focus grumbles, but the Golf has developed a bit of a fault. Currently it’s at the annoying stage, the kind of thing that I won’t take it in to the dealer for specially, but will get them to look at the next time it’s in for a service.

Faulty Dashboard 2

The fault is easiest to see in the pair of pictures here, and is with the dashboard lighting. The Golf has a system whereby when the car is unlocked, if the ambient light level is low it will switch on the headlights and internal lights automatically. It will also illuminate the dashboard in the normal night mode as if the headlights were turned on manually.

However, on Saturday night, it did all this, and just as I started the car, suddenly the dashboard behind the headlight controls, and on the central panel containing the courtesy lights switched back to day mode, whereby only the headlight switch is illuminated, with the automatic mode highlighted in green. Having said that, it didn’t seem to make any difference to the operation of any of the controls, or the car, so I drove home with it like that, and when we got home, took a look at the problem.

Faulty Dashboard 1

Having said that, when I got home and turned everything off, and repeated the same process it worked fine. I put it down as a temporary glitch, and went to bed. However, last night it did the same thing again. This time I tried a number of techniques to try and solve the problem. Restarting the car didn’t seem to solve it – the illumination would start up correct, and then change back to the single green light. Ultimately the problem just seemed to go away – after a couple of goes turning the headlights off and back on, it just seemed to stay in the right mode. Indeed, when it subsequently did it this morning, it seemed that the problem goes away after a couple of minutes – however you have to turn the lights on and off to get it to go, it’s just that it doesn’t come back after the car has been running for a bit.

Of course, being an intermittent problem that goes away when the car is warmed up, it will be just the kind of problem that the garage will spend ages trying to disprove, hence why I took the two pictures, just to prove it. It strikes me that it will probably be something pretty simple, and almost inevitably in one of the many microprocessors that are buried in the car. Since the car is still under warranty, it will be the kind of problem that will be fixed at VW’s expense too.

Crazy Heating

We’ve been having weird problems with our heating lately. Back on Sunday, we came home to a decidedly chilly feeling house, and adjusting the thermostat the ‘click’ was down at about 17’C, and yet the boiler was resolutely staying off. Turning the thermostat didn’t seem to do any good, the system just sat there. As a last ditch attempt, I turned everything off, turned it back on, and the boiler fired up first time.

Everything was OK yesterday, but then today when I got home from work, Beth was huddled under a blanket on the sofa, and the house was again cold. The same symptoms again, with the ‘click’ being at about 12’C. I tried repeating what I had done on Sunday, but nothing happened. So it was recourse to the emergency boiler cover that we got a couple of years ago.

Having said that, it proved to be not quite so simple. The cover is one of those things that gets paid regularly by direct debit, and until you need it – which we haven’t, to be honest you don’t really look at. When I got the paperwork out, I realised that the company with whom we had originally taken out the cover, wasn’t the company that had most recently written to us. A quick dig around on the internet found that the company had been sold twice over the past couple of years.

I gave the current company a call, who could find no record of us, so I then went back to the original cover certificate, and dialled the original number, which thankfully routed through to a real person, at the same company I’d just spoken to.

I got a really helpful girl on the phone, who tried every possible combination of post code, reference number, bank account details, but couldn’t find anything. As an aside to this, during the phone conversation, the boiler fired up – very strange. In the end she passed me over to their claims department, who found me pretty quickly on their system – it seems that as with any merger, the company ends up with multiple systems, but thankfully it allowed us to put in a call.

Following the surprise start up of the boiler whilst I was on the phone, I had another fiddle with the controls, and it seemed that the boiler had fired up to heat the hot water, but not due to the heating – so maybe it’s just a fault with the heating thermostat.

Anyway, the heating specialist phoned us back within the hour, and arranged to come over tomorrow morning to take a look.

What is interesting just now is that the time-clock had shut off the heating system as usual a few minutes ago, so I just pushed the one hour run button for both hot water and heating, and the boiler fired up absolutely normally – more than that, the radiators are all heating up, and the temperature in the house has almost reached 20’C. Hopefully this is not going to be one of these difficult to locate problems, but with the intermittent nature of the fault I fear it might be…