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Real Life Debugged » Product Bugs

Archive for the Category ◊ Product Bugs ◊

Drat those trial software versions!
Monday, October 04th, 2010 | Author: lisaksimone

I just *love* this stuff.  Trial versions are just that … stuff you get to use for a trial period.  Which (except for roll-under bugs that appear everywhere) tend to expire in reasonable time frames.

Below is a picture I took in Guam a couple weeks ago during a (painfully too long) layover.  Which might be more palatably (is that a word?) thought of as a surface interval between diving WWII wrecks in Truk Lagoon (awesome) and sharks and cool critters in Yap (no mantas.  Rats).

This display was, heck, 8 feet across.  All day it displayed video and ads.  In the middle of a pretty cool extreme sports-kinda video, the following appeared:

“BroadCam Video Streaming Server Upgrade Special..

“You have used BroadCam Video Streaming Server for a while now.  It is about time you should upgrade to the Professional Version.”

Coooool.  Just gotta love it!

I had a challenge getting my blog up after Wordpress was hacked a month ago.

Today I find that every image I’ve uploaded into every post does not appear.  Just Like This.

** pulls hair **


How Could They Have Missed This Software Bug?
Thursday, June 03rd, 2010 | Author: lisaksimone

The correct prize for an apparent $42.9 million slot machine jackpot that a Thornton woman hit at a Central City casino should have been $20.18, Colorado gaming regulators said today. [Denver Post 5/19/2010]

Ouch.  I bet there was a whole lotta screaming going on, starting with great enthusiasm and then ending badly.

The machine was a progressive, meaning that the payout is based on previous bets and other similar machines.  In order to win the Big Payout, the player must bet the max, which in this case was $4.  The player had bet only the minimum, $0.40.

The Colorado Division of Gaming’s forensic investigation found that the slot machine malfunctioned and displayed the wrong payout because of errors in “mathematical calculations built into the game software.”

That’s a heck of a big mistake.  Seems like an extra (missing?) if() statement would’ve caught that one.

I love tripping across relatively harmless bugs.  Amazing how the same types of bugs keep showing up over and over and how we don’t test our code enough before releasing it. has a new radar feature called TruPoint.  Rather than showing radar images from T-30 minutes to the present, this feature predicts future weather patterns of radar images.  T+30 minutes.  Kinda neat if it can actually show the magical storms that materialize out of nowhere just when the traditional radar implies blue skies for as far as the eye can see.

So if a prediction program is T+x, and x is negative, are we going forward or backward in time?

Anyway, I mucked around with the feature and got it to hang.  (Not on purpose.)


Let’s Debug It Live: Recovering My Hacked Blog
Tuesday, April 13th, 2010 | Author: lisaksimone

I’m writing this post in Word because I can’t access my blog. It was hacked this weekend to provide you dear readers with low cost designer shoes and a delightful Trojan virus thrown in for free.

It appears the Wordpress and Network Solutions combo had a design flaw, and Network Solutions sent step-by-step instructions to recover (most) of our content. Like a good engineer (ahem) I followed the directions carefully. Didn’t work. But according to Network Solutions tech support, I am a special case. (Oh, the irony.) Alex expedited my request and then Elmer prioritized my case and now I’ll receive help in 1-3 business days. Grrr.

Thing is, I dug around on the server and found some strange goings-on with my blog files. I think the current account hack fix upset the carefully balanced apple cart Network Solutions built during my last trouble ticket mess.


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.


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

After waiting forever for pictures on my laptop to load to show my family, I finally decided to upgrade my RAM from 1GB to 2GB.  I was ready for SCREAMING fast performance.

Then the Windows Shutdown “Hibernate” option stopped working.

“System Error : Insufficient system resources exist to complete the API.”

Now, I live to Hibernate.  Or, I should say I don’t reboot my laptop unless I *have* to.  The computer gets to Hibernate whenever I take it with me so I can resume with all windows and programs exactly where I left them.

I love Hibernate.

But suddenly Hibernate and I were plunged into a Jr High school relationship of drama and fickleness.


Let’s Debug it: Snow That’s Hot to the Touch!
Monday, January 18th, 2010 | Author: lisaksimone

A friend posted this FailBlog pic on Facebook and (as always) I had to figure out how the embedded system screwed up.

Snow.  Real snow.  Bare branches, no movie set.

And a sweltering 119 degrees!

Fahrenheit?  Not with the snow.  Can’t be Celsius or the snow would be boiling.

And well, it does appear icy cold, but if that’s Kelvin then this town is more than 200 degrees below 0°F.



I had an mind-boggling problem yesterday. I belong to a Yahoo group and I registered with one of my Gmail accounts.  I was able to participate in the group for a couple weeks, but now when I send emails from that Gmail account, they’re rejected back to a DIFFERENT Gmail account.


Okay, to be specific.  I registered with a Gmail address, let’s say, (fake). My main Gmail address is lisaksimone(at) (real).

So I posted as usual to my Yahoo group by sending an email from It was rejected back to me at lisaksimone(at)

Again, this time with more feeling.