Why not to overthink a problem

I’ve recently become the proud owner of a 27″ iMac, with the i5 quad core processor and 8GB RAM. It’s faster than stink, and I love it.

Unfortunately, my background does not permit me a full move to Mac OS X, because I have written several applications for Windows, and I must support SQL Server databases for several customers.

So … laziness dictated (it’s a known fact that all software developers are lazy, otherwise they wouldn’t spend so much time trying to do so much with so little code) that instead of installing a brand new virtual machine running Windows XP Professional, I would simply reuse the one from my Windows 7 install (Virtual XP), and do an in-place upgrade using my Action Pack licence to get around the licencing issues.

In other words, I wouldn’t have to reinstall SQL Server and Visual Studio, and copy over all my files and code.

It worked beautifully. Except, for some reason, my virtual machine seemed to be shutting itself down every night around the same time. At first I thought it might be the Windows Activation thing getting confused, because I was doing something unusual.

But, after rerunning the in-place upgrade with an XP SP3-streamed install last night, and reactivating my OS, the machine shut down all by itself tonight at 11:17pm. I know, because last night I checked when it happened, and tonight I made a special note to see if it happened again at the same time.

Sure as bears in woods and Catholic Popes, it was a definite recurring problem. Was the OS infected? I checked. Was the activation a problem? I couldn’t think why it would be, and I reactivated to make sure.

So I went onto Google, my saviour. I call it that because Google has saved my job many times. Tonight, I searched for “XP shutting down same time every day”. The first few pages were garbage, but then … oh yes, then …

“Check if you have any scheduled tasks that might be shutting down your computer” in some or other forum.

*Click* goes the brain, and let me explain why.

I wrote a little application called ShutOff 2000. For the past few years, I’ve been working here and there on its replacement, ShutOff 2010. One of the new features of ShutOff 2010 is its integration into the Windows Task Scheduler for all versions of Windows, from lowly XP up to 2008 R2.

And because I do my best work at night, I had tested it to shut down every night at 11:17pm, just to see if it was saving the scheduled task correctly.

And then I forgot about it.

Until tonight.

Yes, you may laugh at me.