Zune in the zone (aka It is not easy to embarrass a man with no shame)

by Michael S. Kaplan, published on 2009/01/06 03:01 -05:00, original URI: http://blogs.msdn.com/b/michkap/archive/2009/01/06/9284189.aspx

I am a little embarrassed.

For a man with no shame such as myself, this is quite a feat.

I was not trying to set any kind of record with this "accomplishment", for what its worth.

Nevertheless, I am a little embarrassed.

Perhaps I should explain.

You see, I have a Zune.

No, this is not why I am embarrassed.

To be more accurate, I have three Zunes.

And no, this is not why I am embarrassed, either.

The three Zunes are the 30 gb white one I first mentioned in I guess we're not exporting the Zune just yet, the more comfortably sized 80 gb black one that I can actually better fit music on, and the 4 gb too small fuscia one I mentioned in Doing a thorough brushing of the gift horse's teeth.

As an aside, the I guess we're not exporting the Zune just yet blog is the only one that I have written that I was ever told by Kieran that her husband thought was cool.

Back to me ring all embarrassed.

It is the individual Zunes that embarrass me.

You see, the 4 gb one, I am embarrassed about how openly I criticized a gift, which I finally did find a use for -- I simply put all of my Liz Phair stuff on it, and I can use it for any time I am in a Liz Phair mood. I think it also has an Aimee Mann sing or two on it, since there are a few that fit with Liz Phair moods.

But anyway, I am embarrassed about the whole thing.

And I am embarrassed about the 80 gb one for the reasons I mentioned in I guess we're not exporting the Zune just yet.

I am, quite simply, not cool enough for either a black or a brown Zune.

Buying a black one seemed to me to be as artificial a joining the The Association For Justified Narcissism Facebook group.

Which I admittedly also did. But that was only for a joke (I thought the Bill Clinton pic they used was funny) and it didn't cost me anything. Since I bought the black Zune, I feel like I paid to sit at the cool kids table or something. And that is embarrassing.

But the one that embarrasses me most is the 30 gb Zune.

It was just days ago that an old friend from way back (Todd) mentioned to me in a comment after I pointed out I was blowing of all my New Years Eve plans:

As long as you aren't doing anything, maybe you could go kick some Zune-group butt and make them fix the things.

Just a thought.

He was talking about the bug that popped up recently for 30 gb Zunes.

It happened to me too -- the unit, which had been charging, was basically frozen and could not be made to power down or play music or change modes or do anything. I scroaned and took it off the charger, figuring I'd look into doing something about it after the holidays were over.

Then after Todd's note, I went looking around and found out about the 30 gb Zune time zone bug.

Best described here, in an FAQ that was updated as comments came in to better answer the questions people had. This had an interesting side effect of making the upset customers who complained in comments look like retards who didn't read the FAQ before commenting -- something I should try here at some point. I like the effect. :-)

Anyway, here is the FAQ as of a few hours ago:

Early this morning we were alerted by our customers that there was a widespread issue affecting our 2006 model Zune 30GB devices (a large number of which are still actively being used).  The technical team jumped on the problem immediately and isolated the issue: a bug in the internal clock driver related to the way the device handles a leap year.

The issue should be resolved over the next 24 hours as the time change moves to January 1, 2009.   We expect the internal clock on the Zune 30GB devices will automatically reset tomorrow (noon, GMT). By tomorrow you should allow the battery to fully run out of power before the unit can restart successfully then simply ensure that your device is recharged, then turn it back on.  If you’re a Zune Pass subscriber, you may need to sync your device with your PC to refresh the rights to the subscription content you have downloaded to your device.

Customers can continue to stay informed via the support page on zune.net (zune.net/support).

We know this has been a big inconvenience to our customers and we are sorry for that, and want to thank them for their patience.

Q:  Why is this issue isolated to the Zune 30 device?
It is a bug in a driver for a part that is only used in the Zune 30 device.

Q:  What fixes or patches are you putting in place to resolve this situation?
This situation should remedy itself over the next 24 hours as the time flips to January 1st.

Q:  What’s the timeline on a fix?
The issue Zune 30GB customers are experiencing today will self resolve as time changes to January 1.

Q:  Why did this occur at precisely 12:01 a.m. on December 31, 2008?
There is a bug in the internal clock driver causing the 30GB device to improperly handle the last day of a leap year.

Q:  What is Zune doing to fix this issue?
The issue should resolve itself.

Q:  Are you sure that this won’t happen to all 80, 120 or other flash devices?
This issue is related to a part that is only used in Zune 30 devices.

Q:  How many 30GB Zune devices are affected? How many Zune 30GB devices were sold?
All 30GB devices are potentially affected.

Q:  Will you update the firmware before the next leap year (2012)?

Now I embarrassed because I work for Microsoft, the company that sells the Zune.

I am not embarrassed by Microsoft's response, which has been very quick, and the people involved worked hard to isolate, investigate, and report on the issue very soon after it was reported, despite the fact that this happened on a holiday.

And I am not embarrassed that there are some others who do not seem to see the problem resolved just by waiting till after the 1st, as I know people are looking into that too.

And I also not embarrassed by the fact that the problem was not solved with a fix so much as a "just wait a day, all will be better" as bugs that will indeed be better in a day have no good update mechanism that will solve the problem any sooner. The right call was made here and I am not ashamed of it.


I am embarrassed that this problem was even there at all, in the first place.

After the huge code scrub and set of actions taken by all of the people at Microsoft involved with time zones after the DST 2007 problems, the notion of anything being released by Microsoft that has trouble with the fact that not every year has the same length, that just embarrasses me.

Now don't get me wrong, I am glad they are committed to updating the firmware before the next leap year.

But you see, there are two kinds of bugs:

Perhaps the fine details of the bug (not released) place it in the first castegory, but without those details I put this one in the second.

So absent proof that this could have been found, I'm conditionally embarrassed, for now.

As an employee of Microsoft, I get to hear people complain about stuff, and I have the inalienable right to make this determination (as long as I agree ti be allowed to be convinced otherwise if more information would inspire such a change!).

Though either way, the team is now on notice -- because no matter which category that bug is in now, any future occurrence is definitely in the second category. This is now a permanent test case to add to the product....

I hope they do discuss the problem more widely, so others can add it to their test cases, too!

Geez, I'm embarrassed. :-)


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John Cowan on 6 Jan 2009 11:19 AM:

Brian Hayes has an excellent writeup of the nitty-gritty at http://bit-player.org/2009/the-zune-bug , showing the original source code and various repairs.

Michael S. Kaplan on 6 Jan 2009 11:54 AM:

Okay, this falls into category #1 given the huge post DST 2007 push to fix time zone issues. These ad hoc "clever" routines are the bugaboo of quality software....

Michael S. Kaplan on 6 Jan 2009 12:03 PM:

And to be 100% clear, I agree with Brian, and I have written code like this too sometimes. But it is a mistake that should have been found. Category #1....

Igor Levicki on 18 Jan 2009 3:10 AM:

Y2K anyone?

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