Who: Shania, Joe, Sally, Alia, the whole rhyming club
When: December 2020
What: To re-code Apple servers
Where: Atlantis + TDM Apple Store
Why: Apple Servers down before Xmas which is important for sales + devices as gifts and Shania loves Apple & coding
How: By mailing Apple + Meeting staff at the store + checking out some sample devices and admin users’ devices
The piece is part of the storytelling sessions, writing workshops, author interaction events, open mic sessions, etc. which are conducted for the creative fraternity; virtual or physical.
This piece is by junior contributor, Ann Mary Joseph, a student of The Indian High School, Dubai
Shania woke up to the sounds of luggage falling and shelves rattling around. However puzzling it may be for you and I, Shania was mentally and physically prepared to deal with this kind of a morning. Shania, her mother Sally and father Joe, were going as a family to Atlantis, the Palm, in Dubai, for a week’s stay.
Another question you might ask would be, “From where do they get the money to PAY for all of this? Unless Shania’s super-rich, as Atlantis is definitely not cheap. I’ll answer that for you. A lot of the funds for most of the family’s entertainment comes out of Shania’s bug bounty. When made simple, that’s ‘money you get as a reward for finding a defect in a software, or app, or tool, and letting the company know’. Bugs are these defects. And….Shania is super duper tech-savvy.
Shania Maria (Shania’s full name) had detected a bug in an app called Navafite, used for health tracking. Going out of the technical stuff, that’s where the money comes from. She dedicated a part of it ‘just’ for family entertainment. Though it’s a tiny fraction, it actually translates into a lot.
After an hour-long drive post exiting the house (after a tedious session of last-minute packs), they reached the room. As soon as Shania got in, she started pacing around to find the newspaper. One thing about Shania is that she loves reading the newspaper. Her dad had got the paper before her, and he began reading some frightening headlines. If not for normal people, it was at least nerve-wracking for the tech-savvy Shania.
Her dad read, “… and that led to a worldwide crash of Apple tools and iOS Devices for over a million global users….” while going back to reading to himself. After stopping in her tracks, Shania exclaimed, “Wait, what did you just say, Pappa?”Tired, her father passed the paper, saying, “Oh I’m tired to read this out again, here, that’s the article.” The action got an “Okay, great!” from Shania.
Shania read that problems in Apple’s servers caused activity on them to go on and on and on, which put a screeching halt to quality activity that was centralized from there. What’s more, is that problem was affecting every device and even all the devices used at the stores. She was filled with an instant desire to solve the problem, and her coding skills came to the fore. Obviously, something was wrong with the code and Shania was moved by her instant desire to find out. The tech-savvy Shania did love Apple and technology, and this challenge would be quite a treat!
Here’s a dialogue between Shania and her parents in the evening. Shania: Pappa, Mummy – (in a babyish voice) Sally: You want something? I sense it out of that voice of yours. Shania: Umm…well…yes! Joe: Go on. Shania: Can you take me to the Apple store? TDM Branch. Sally: That’s IT?? Wow! Joe: Oh well, don’t make it more than that?! That’s enough for now. Ready to move, Shania? We’re heading out! But – I know you just want to see it, and that’s all I grant.
With that, Shania was soon at Dubai Mall’s Apple Store.
Before I forget, let me also tell you that Shania founded a club called ‘Rhythmic Namez’, inspired after reading the Judy Moody series, for REAL people whose names ACTUALLY rhyme (yes….). At the mall, Shania met another member of the club, Alia Amalia, from Egypt, who lived in Dubai.
They chatted for a bit and soon, both of them headed to the store together. Shania explained that she wanted to visit the store to take a look at the store’s sample devices as well as the devices used for administration, for that may give some information that could help solve the problem. Alia wasn’t a very very tech-savvy girl, but she was always happy to help her pal Shania as far as she could.
Entering the Apple Store was, is and would always be easy because it’s a store after all, and stores are meant to be walked in to. They got to enter pretty easily and were welcomed by cheery staff with name tags adorned with Memojis of themselves. Viewing sample devices on display was fairly described as a cakewalk too, but that didn’t offer much of a clue. She could not go too far on those display pieces, but all she saw was that apps were constantly crashing, things were taking forever to load and the results of one request (or action made on the device) were visible some five minutes later, which is too long of a response time.
Of course, good things take time. Here, the Herculean task took time to come, i.e. getting a look at the admin devices. If random people came in asking to look at admin devices (yes, it deserves the bold font), obviously they’d get nothing more than a cold stare. And that’s what happened with Shania too. She begged and pleaded but it just didn’t help. Explaining the cause only escalated matters more, and the admins went to say, “Who are you to fix our problems? Besides, what do you know about them?”
If Shania’s parents had to defend their daughter, then they had to know why and what she was fighting for. For a few brief moments, Shania took her parents aside to explain the hullabaloo, and they were ready to help. All of the pleas went in vain, though. For now, Shania had to work stuff out with what she saw on the sample devices.
Rhythmic Namez meetings happened virtually on FaceTime, every fortnight, and Shania, being president, would preside over them. It never was a very official meeting, and only fun stuff was permitted for discussion, literally, but amidst the whole thing, Alia remembered what happened at the mall. She felt that the club could help with repeated pleas or even an email, so she raised the matter.
Shania had her outlook on problems and preferred keeping them inside her circle. Reluctant as she was to discuss this with a broader group, she could not turn down the discussion started by Alia, because the matter did concern her, after all, and the genuine desire to help was evident in Alia’s actions.
Lost as she was in her thoughts, she escaped the trance with a jerk and took it into her head to listen to all of them. Every member was more than gleeful to help the kind, helpful and cheery Shania, and none of them wanted her happiness to go into jeopardy thinking of this too much. They all came up with ideas, and after some time they decided to mail the customer service at Apple. Shania said that she had her suspicions on what the issue could be, so that also could be mentioned, for that’s some information that’s actually going to count. They also decided to put an admin address into the loop, as customer service emails may not get the attention they need.
The mail was carefully drafted, and it received a reply too, after 10 days. It read as follows:
The mail instigated celebration among the club as well as Shania’s family. Shania became the subject of various headlines thereafter, and even bagged the record of being the world’s youngest bug finder at the ripe age of ten. Shania’s parents were definitely proud of their girl!
Re: Customer review, observations and suspicions on the current crash
Dear Shania and the Rhythmic Namez Club
Thank you very much for your mail. It has been quite motivating to see the in interest you’ve taken into looking into our issues, and your suspicions have actually come out true. On reading, the team looked into the code once again, and as you wrote earlier, it was a case of an infinite loop. Simplified, that’s when we haven’t put a ‘stop’ clause to our code, which makes reactions happen over and over again. Thank you very much for the help!
As bug bounty, the team will be granting a ‘materialistic’ wish of yours for a change, as well as some amount being deposited. Further details will be explained in later mails.
Best Regards Team Apple
Few days later, the amount for the bug bounty was disclosed…and Shania almost saw herself at a loss to count the zeroes in it! If she finds it hard, well, I’ll find it even more tedious, so let the amount stay right there. They asked her to express her desire, and she did, too. Guess what she said! “Well…I’d like to get an Apple Watch SE as of now, and that’s the desire I put forth.” The next thing Shania had was the DHL parcel addressed to her, at her doorstep. It had a…well…you guessed it…an Apple Watch SE with a pink sand strap, something Shania desired for pretty long!
FIFTEEN YEARS LATER Shania was gleefully standing in the aisle of her villa, with an appointment letter in her hand. One that officially appointed her as a staff member at Apple! Her bug bounties served as recommendations and showed how capable she was, so that’s where her fan-ship for Apple took her!