Fixing software bugs

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Category: Misc

Set screws.

These are the tiny little screws used to hold on the handles for some bathroom fixtures. I didn’t know what they were called before, that would’ve saved me some time.

The handles of our bathroom faucets would occasionally fall off, not often, but maybe weekly. I never really had a problem with them, but the kids more so, especially the one in the shower.

It took hearing the handle dropping numerous times before I investigated why it was happening—the kids never complained about it. I noticed a small hole in the handle where the missing set screw belonged. Other fixtures in the bathroom had the screw and were relatively stable, though a few needed tightening. What sort of pressure did kids put on faucet handles?

The win from my investigation is having a matching screw so I know what part I need. I also noticed that half the fixtures are missing set screws too, but easy to fix once I pick up new screws. Off to Home Depot to buy some replacements. Well, not immediately.

This entire endeavor took place over several months. The screw sat on my desk tapped to a sticky note for a long while. The problem wasn’t an emergency, the handles worked, they just fell off occasionally. I could pick up the screws the next time I really had to go to Home Depot.

As you would expect, I would forget to take my sticky note taped screw with me whenever I went. It took several visits until I was at Home Depot with the sticky note and the screw in hand.

Of course, they don’t carry them.

The sticky note and screw went back to the desk. I tried searching for “tiny screw” and “faucet screw” online but couldn’t find one matching what I had.

More time passed. I eventually went out to two different specialty stores to see if they had replacement parts.

Them: “Do you know the manufacturer of the faucets?”
Me: “Nope.”

Long story short, they don’t carry parts, but maybe they could order them for me if I knew the manufacturer. The one important thing I did learn is that they are called “set screws”.

So, knowing what they are called, I was able to find them online and order a small bag of replacements screws. A few days and 2 minutes later and all the faucet handles are fixed and don’t fall off.

Now weeks later, my family doesn’t notice the fix at all since everything just works as expected.

This is fixing software bugs—sometimes an absurd amount of effort (or time) to fix a tiny issue that no one will notice.

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