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Real Life Debugged » 2010 » March

Archive for ◊ March, 2010 ◊

I imagine kids on a Halloween scavenger hunt in the cemetery.  Each group’s crumpled paper reads, “Find and take pictures of headstones of the following people -”

Sitka Russian Cemegary Lisa Simone Copyright 2008

Dead person # 1.  Find the grave of a woman who was an avid Scuba diver, underwater photographer and author, and who looked like a million bucks without plastic surgery or Jimmy Choo shoes.

Watch the video of the tragic barrel racing event that took her life, and write down the name of the horse that skidded, rolled over and squashed  her flat.

Morbid, eh?  Well once again, technology is here to save the day.

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In the last post, we explored the cause of Cincinnati’s sweltering 222°F forecast.  After I mused about variable declarations and improper usage that we saw with the 119° snow day, reader John offered a different idea - that 222° was simply a typo for 22°.   I think he’s right, but we didn’t fully test the hypothesis against the original symptoms.  My bad.

And as software debugging usually goes, testing and fixing one bug opens the doors for more of their friends to come out and play.

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A couple weeks ago, we debugged a temperature sign displaying 119 °F degrees in the dead of winter. Turned out to be a variable out-of-bounds problem.

Above is another whacko temperature bug from Fail Blog.

I started mucking with this bug using the same logic. Since the correct value is probably around 23°F, and since 222°F  + 23°F looks dangerously close to 255, the magic roll-over (or roll-under) point of despair and destruction looks to be a prime suspect.

Flipping it around, 255°F - 222°F  = 33°F,  which is dangerously close to the freezing point of water (32°F).

And … 32°F is 0°C, which is another dangerous roll-under point for unsigned chars.

Finally, both the beyond-boiling temperature AND the “Alerts” box in the upper left corner are RED.  While the number of Alerts is zero, somewhere the software knows evilness has occurred.

This time you figure it out - what’s the exact cause of failure?

Related Posts:

Let’s Debug it: Snow That’s Hot to the Touch!
Bugs in Public - Errors in Software and in Common Sense