The one with an apology to B

Q: What is the greatest bane of being a software developer?
A: You know how a software works, you know how a software is created, you know how it is created by people like you, you know how easy it is to introduce bugs, and you are aware of the kind of damage bugs can do.

Well.. you might call that a boon — in most cases it is. Anyway: a few days back, while having a private chat (IM) with a friend (say, A) about something that I didn’t want another friend (say, B) to know about, it suddenly strikes me that Google need not be flawless.. they can have erring engineers .. they can have people like me. What if.. what if GMail’s talk interface is buggy, and my chats were getting broadcasted to B?

Well, I kept telling myself .. nah, nah, nah. Such a bug would’ve been caught long ago. But then maybe it’s a new bug and other people are experiencing it, and the Google team is trying to fix it, but the damage would already be done! Or .. maybe it was hard to reproduce? Maybe they had a conditional statement in their code: if ($username == "arnstein") { ... } . I just couldn’t get these thoughts out of my head every time I was chatting.

Today I saw this Seinfeld episode where Jerry and George get into trouble because of a new, but faulty, two-line phone. Jerry keeps a woman waiting on one line, while talking to George on the other, and apparently the woman could hear everything he said.

Now, sometime later, I have a chat with a C .. and GTalk kept giving me these red messages like “C did not receive your message”, while he was receiving atleast some of these purportedly unreceived messages. Both our net connections seemed fine… oh… Bug! GTalk is buggy! Holy fuck!

Oh well. Chatting will never be the same again.


One Response to The one with an apology to B

  1. a says:

    lol!! Here’s some more paranoia fuel… Early on gmail had a very interesting bug… If the mail header contained a malformed header (which someone’s email client was accidentally emitting)… it would show in the receiver’s browser everything in the google ram till the closing tag. This would include in plaintext quite a few users username and passwords. Of course, google fixed it fast enough after disclosure and the thing went public after the fix but yea… bugs… they are everywhere!

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