All Posts

Here are all the posts in reverse chronological order!

How Could They Have Missed This Software Bug?

Sometimes the most basic testing could catch some doozies.

You’re the Next James Bond with USB Flash Drive Cufflinks

Neat product but applications?

Microsoft Pulls Over Its Own Registry Police and Gives My Files Back

I lost access to my own files.  Apparently by a Microsoft update that I didn’t get.

Simple Tool Automatically Finds and Assesses Your Facebook Privacy Settings

A nice tool was released that automatically assesses your settings so you can address anything that might not be what you want.

A Facebook Privacy Issue Fix I Haven’t Seen Anyone Try Yet

My own investigations continues.

Your Tax Dollars and War - Great Stuff You Didn’t Know

I participated in a review program to award nearly $1B for medical research and development for soldiers returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.  Your tax dollars ARE hard at work.

Eroding Facebook Privacy - More Hidden Things You Must Do

List of items to consider, and where they are located, with the new Facebook rollout.  Is this debugging?  Well yes, if you’re trying to figure out what of your personal data becomes public and where to find the settings to turn this off.

Let’s Debug It: Is Minus 1 Yesterday’s or Tomorrow’s Weather?

Another temperature bug I found while checking out weather for a recent trip.

Rant about Facebook’s New Strong-Arm Anti-Privacy Upgrade

First of several posts about changes in privacy, how they are thrust upon unsuspecting users, and how to handle it.

Let’s Debug It Live: Recovering My Hacked Blog

When Wordpress was hacked, I had more trouble than the average person in recovering my blog and getting it back up online.  I tried to figure out why that was, based on some other questionable maneuvers Wordpress had asked me to do in the past.

Let’s Debug It: Testing the 222F Forecast Bug Uncovers More Bugs

When chasing down one bug reveals even more.

My Multimedia Epitaph used in Halloween Treasure Hunts Everywhere

Scary product - embedding your final words, wishes, Facebook profile, etc., for all to read for all eternity.

Let’s Debug It - Another Snow Day at 222 degrees F

Another temperature sign goes badly out of control.  Flurries with a chance of flames and boiling oceans.

Let’s Debug It: The Windows Punishment for Increasing RAM

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.”

Let’s Debug it: Snow That’s Hot to the Touch!

Snow.  Real snow.  Bare branches, no movie set.  And temperature reported at a sweltering 119 degrees! Fahrenheit?  Not with the snow.  Can’t be Celsius or Kelvin - what the heck is happening?!?

Let’s Debug It: Personality Disorder Using 2 Gmail Accounts in Thunderbird

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.  Huh?!?

Let’s Debug It: My Demon Car Responds Innocently, Oh, You Want Heat?

My evil car knows I get cold easily, and it purposely screws with me when I desperately need hurricane winds of hot toasty air. “No heat for YOU” in its best Soup Nazi sneer, armrests crossed and headlights rolling in the air. “I just don’t feel like it right now.”

Let’s Debug it: The Tastiest Bug Fix of All


Consumer Mind Control - We’re All Sheep (or is that Lemmings?)

You know the saying, “When I want your opinion I’ll give it to you”? The Onion presents a video that parodies how companies provide what they feel we should want. And like sheep, we assume that they are correct. Kinda like that 54-Button Remote Control.

Cheat Sheets for Jacking Up Google on Steriods

A couple neat Cheat Sheets for using Google in new and pretty cool ways.

Cool Gadget: Outlets-To-Go Powerstrip - AC and USB!

A great little gadget for traveling.

My Blog Server(s) is Sentient and has Dementia

What happens when you create a new user profile on a website and then it magically adds your picture to the profile? Do the servers trade stories after work over SMS martinis? Compare notes and plot random “Your Registration Has Expired” warnings to evil users?

Let’s Debug It: A Rabid War between Technology and Nature (Jet Skis vs Mangroves)

I just wanted to explore around on my Jet Ski in the vast expanses and tiny meandering passages of the Florida mangroves. My Jet Ski did not want to comply. What follows is a three-day argument that ended in somewhat a temporary compromise, with plans of involuntary Jet Ski surgery.

Really, Your College Degrees ARE Worth Dirt!

Sometimes advertisements send confounding messages. FAILBlog rocks with examples. Some are amazingly obvious and others send subtle messages. The other day, an ad informed me that my advanced degrees are worth little more than rodent infested dirt and piles of rocks.

Giving up on BitDefender - Lisa, Your Claims are ABSURD

I continued to debug the BitDefender “Your license expires every night” problem with the help of others on the forum. I was awarded an extra year of service and was trashed by a moderator. Sometimes ya gotta have a thick skin when politics and egos clash with technical facts. Sigh.

Wedding Receptions - Want Fries With That?

I love the Indexed blog - always a surreal and interesting way to start the day.

New Episode of House, MD: “We’ve Got a User Error Message”

What if Wilson informed House: “When I moved the code around, I found three subtle bugs that had probably been annoying users for months.” Or what if House entered the room and tossed his team a stack trace? A new episode of House for engineers!

Let’s Debug It: My Internet Security Software HATES me, TOLERATES me, REVILES me. Evil BitDefender

I suspected my antivirus/firewall software had a virus. Ya see, out of nowhere at 7am over a nice cup of coffee, BitDefender screamed at me, “Your system is NO LONGER PROTECTED!” And thus we slid down a twisting debugging rabbit hole with other folks at the BitDefender Forum.

Let’s Debug It: Alaskan Scuba Stuff and iPods Don’t Exercise

Photographers who drag electronics underwater tempt fate. Up in brrrrr Alaska, I found more colors and creatures than in the Caribbean! But my camera strobe refused to fire. “WHY NOW?!?” I screamed through my regulator. “I NEED PHOTOGRAPHIC EVIDENCE OF THIS BEAUTY! No one will believe this is Alaska!”

Neat Blog on Creativity and Emerging Technologies

Taco Lab Blog explores this kind of creative thinking from all angles including emerging technology, education, and product design with international perspective.

Siftables - Toys that Think: I Want ‘Em!

Hi tech toys are pretty cool. Hi tech toys that think are beyond cool! And what if they also secretly foster learning and problem-solving? Sign me up!

A Completely Boring Post about Requirements Disasters (And a Terrific Success!)

Product requirements are useful? I didn’t even know what they were my first couple jobs. Guess what - all those products were late. But even my engineering students figured out how to get it right.

Cooking for Engineers: An Analytical Cookbook for Visual Learners:

A neat (and I think practical) approach to cooking that presents recipe ingredients and instructions spatially rather than in list/paragraph form. Approved by this techie, seriously.

Rant: Practical Education for Computer Science and My Practical Response:

A short digression about the programming/design gap between what industry needs and what academia provides. And the embedded systems course I developed and taught as a result.

Jack Ganssle’s Review of My Book:

“Bad code that makes a phone burst into flames? What fun!”

Rant: Quality, Innovation, and the 53-Button Remote Control:

Ridiculous trends in product development that lead to poor quality and usefulness, and irate customers. And the assumption we need 1000 buttons on a remote control in order to live our lives most effectively.

Let’s Debug It: A Cat’s Plea to Microsoft - “Can You Hear Me Now?:

My cat is the source of various computer failures, although the disastrous and mind-boggling states she leaves my computer in are pretty cool to illustrate debugging and useful tools.

Reminiscing: My Very First Computer - the Atari 800:

I found a neat site that has pictures and info of computers going back decades. I found my first computer and had to smile - your’s is probably here too!

DEADBEEF and Kids These Days:

Short musing on coding at the metal and the joys of HEX and ASCII codes. Ah, the memories!

Let’s Debug It: “No Ma’am (Idiot), You’re Calling from Line 2″:

A 10-year bug laying latent in my house takes down all our phone lines. And rewiring my house didn’t help. And even Verizon thinks I am an idiot. (And perhaps they were right.)

Bugs in Public - Errors in Software and in Common Sense:

I just love public presentations of bugs - often software mistakes leading to hilarious public billboard displays, and advertisement typos. Don’t forget your $999,999,999 cell phone.

Let’s Debug It: My Computer Plays “I’m Ignoring You Now”:

Ever come back to your computer and the CPU usage is pegged at 100%? You live in a cave if you haven’t. I figured out where mine went and so can you. Don’t let your apps Phone Home to the Mothership.

Let’s Debug It: Keyboards and Endothermic Mammals:

An amusing (and completely serious) war between me and my cat for control of the keyboard. She won.

You Don’t Choose the Title for Your Book, Amazon Does:

Look at the title of my book. Trying saying that over and over. But you know what? Each and every word was debated and rearranged in order to optimize the Amazon search engine. Amazing.

Sample Chapter from “If I Only Changed the Software … Phone on Fire?”:

Take a little read from the first chapter of the book. Really, it isn’t a boring textbook. I get to wander into interesting arenas 4 letter words, humor and practical jokes, implications of management incompetence, and the importance of tequila and vending machines.

Cover Art: The Acid Flashback Big Reveal:

Creating the front cover was an exercise in frustration and anguish. Here I present one example of cover art proposed by my publisher. It freaked me out.

Reviews: Embracing Debugging - It’s Not Just for Software Anymore:

Nice comment from a fellow embedded engineer stressing that we all need to get our heads out of the cubicles and look for better ways to solve problems.

Bugs: Product Features or Warranty Restrictions?:

A neat site called Indexed launched this post - if you can’t fix the bug, try to spin it as a feature. Yup, we’ve all done it. Check out one of mine.

Quick Debugging Tips: No Sound from Electronic Device:

I just love some of the useful help provided by experts and manufacturers.

An Engineers’ Guide to Cats:

A great little video made by two professional engineers on the joys of owning cats. They describe many aspects of felines including different aspect ratios, similarity with engineer’s eating habits, and using fur static electricity to charge batteries. Really.

Let’s Debug It: Hacksaws are Your Friend:

After a few hours of careful mechanical and electrical debugging of my Bose stereo system, which had eaten a CD, my husband resorts to more extreme measures. **Rolls Eyes**

“Phone on Fire” Foreword by Jack Ganssle:

Jack wrote the foreword to the book, and it’s pretty funny, discussing early problem solving methods of Cro-Magnon Grog and the poisonous berries. And also very nice - being compared to James Patterson? Wow!

Embedded Humor: Smart-House 2.0 Crashed My Kitchen:

A really funny description of how a virus takes control after he installs a delightful program called House 2.0.

Book Review: “This new book manages the unthinkable” (

One of the first reviews on the Amazon webpage for the book.

Book Review: “I haven’t had as much fun with a book about programming in a long time” (

Neat - An industry magazine wrote, “Dialog is tough to create, but Simone writes well and quickly connects readers with the cast of characters at Hudson. The dialog makes the book easy to read.”

Book Review: “A good read if you like stories from the trenches” (Electronic Design Magazine):

“Great title and a good read too, especially if you like stories from the trenches. Simone does more than just revive old ghosts. She brings out the debugging techniques in context.”

Press Release: NJIT Professor Authors Book Detailing How To Debug Small, Large Electronics:

From NJIT where I taught - mutual publicity.

Interview: Professor Writes a Mystery Book about Engineering: A Talk with Lisa Simone:

An amazingly complimentary story that blew me away from the start, “For students, Lisa Simone is a dream professor.” And I also got to talk about Scuba diving!

Phone on Fire Newsletter, Issue 9 - The Premiere and Shameless Photos:

Mementos from the trip.

Book Premiere at the Embedded Systems Conference, San Jose, CA

Phone on Fire Newsletter, Issue 8 - It’s Really Happening!:

And all the fun I had creating the book’s index - some of the better entries: three-finger salute, exploding batteries, GAME OVER, MARS Expedition Rover, Monty Python, Piers Anthony, rogue pointer.

Phone on Fire Newsletter, Issue 7 - Results of the Completely Unscientific Reader Poll:

I’d taken a poll to see who liked the proposed cover art (and not).

Phone on Fire Newsletter, Issue 6 - Completely Unscientific Reader Poll:

The twisting adventure of the cover art, from what I envisioned to what we got. And for my wonderful editor who was “held up to public scorn by management in a office-wide meeting last week for daring to allow an author to be involved in cover design.”

Phone on Fire Newsletter Issue 5- The Ballbreaker Epiphany:

When my editor and I cruised for synonyms for “ballbreaker”.

Reader Feedback: “Feynman Approach to Debugging” Article:

A sample chapter was published online a few years back, and I got some nice reader feedback.

Phone on Fire Newsletter, Issue 4 - Author Anguish:

Several elements of stress. And some neat initial ads for the book online, including Japan! I found it already discounted before it was available. :-(

Phone on Fire Newsletter, Issue 3 - the Amazon & Elsevier fight over Phone on Fire:

One common elements of the production process, in addition to the fight with Amazon over the exact wording of the book’s title.

Phone on Fire Newsletter, Issue 2 - We’re on Amazon, and the book isn’t even published yet!

Phone on Fire Newsletter, Issue 1 - Welcome to the Newsletter about the Trials of Book Publishing

“A Feynman Approach to Debugging”: published at

This was the trial embedded systems mystery submitted to It was published in 2004 and generate a positive response. That planted the seed in my head for a full set of technical mysteries.