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Real Life Debugged » Quality

Tag-Archive for ◊ Quality ◊

I’m doing a little feasibility project for work, and digging up dirt on bathroom scales.  (Don’t ask - really - my specialty is *not* bathroom scales. It’s actually kumquats as alternate energy sources, but that’s not important yet.)

ANYWAY, I was online looking for customer complaints.  Because, you know, manufacturer’s blame EVERYTHING on us stupid customers.

Then I tripped across the beauty by Savvy Shopper over at Amazon.com:

Nowhere in the description did I see this [bathroom] scale displays only in kilograms. The description says maximum capacity 330lbs. That certainly would lead most to believe it displays in pounds. I don’t want to do mathematical problems when I step on my scale in the morning. Although, this may be good for my brain, that wasn’t the reason for my purchase. I will be returning it.

Oh, Snap!  It warms my heart to see reality, truth and sarcasm (along with the product itself) flung back at idiot manufacturers.

My What a Lovely, Yet Worthless, Picture
Thursday, October 14th, 2010 | Author: lisaksimone

I recently joined the Visual Analytics group on LinkedIn as I drag my many ad-hoc and homemade visualization techniques into the 21st century.  Representing data without bias, but with clarity and with usefulness is hard.

Years ago, one of my favorite data mining profs intoned, “If tortured enough, the data will confess.” - Lyle Unger, UPENN.  Whether good or bad depends purely on intent.

One discussion in LinkedIn focused on an odd graphic from the Wall Street Journal article “Broader U-6 Jobless Rate up to 17.1%: Why the Jump?”

What the heck does this picture mean?!?   It’s got some red stuff on it, should I be worried?

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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

My Blog Server(s) is Sentient and has Dementia
Saturday, June 20th, 2009 | Author: lisaksimone

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?

I have a couple blogs with an elusive entity called “Wordpress.” I found out the hard way that massive social networking servers are as temperamental as Paris Hilton looking for a new BFF.

Apparently, according to Wordpress, I am 3 different people, but really only 2½, 2 of whom share the same face. Who had to be introduced to one another through a server matchmaker.

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Really, Your College Degrees ARE Worth Dirt!
Monday, April 20th, 2009 | Author: lisaksimone

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.

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“Lisa, you’re wrong and your technical claims are absurd.” So when do you throw in the towel? Especially when you keep debugging (for free)? I’ve hammered on this BitDefender “License expired” and now “no updates happening” problem for 14 days. I posted a few days ago about my BitDefender debugging - since then, I’ve provided additional updates on the BitDefender forum and then been awarded an extra year for free. And then attacked by a moderator.

Reward? Or bribe? Ahhhh well. Let’s ride the debugging train just a little bit further, shall we?

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In the same issue of JackGanssle’s Embedded Muse newsletter where he reviewed my book, he let me rant on about the state of computer science/engineering education and its disconnect with industry needs.

He had mused in an earlier newsletter article when (and what type of) programming languages should be taught at the university level. He proposed banishing all such courses until Junior year so students can learn more about decision-making, methodologies and real design, rather than just cranking out code. His article struck a real nerve with me.

I blathered on for a bit, but apparently coherently enough that he decided to print my response.

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Jack Ganssle’s Review of My Book
Friday, February 27th, 2009 | Author: lisaksimone

JackGanssle presented a book review of my book, If I Only Changed the Software, Why is the Phone on Fire? in his latest Embedded Muse Newsletter #174.

An except from Jack’s review:

Engineers are famous for being very bright but also for lacking basic writing skills. Yet writing is still our primary means of communication, so we buy heavy tomes created without the benefit of basic grammar and often bereft of a coherent structure. Storyline? Character development? Forget it.

Welcome to a very different kind of technical book. Lisa Simone’s work isn’t the usual dreary tome stuffed with arcane wisdom buried beneath paragraph-length sentences seemingly written by someone just learning English as a second language. This is certainly the first embedded book with characters. The first with action, and with interesting and cool stories.

Bad code that makes a phone burst into flames?

What fun!

And yes, at one point in my sordid technical past, I did have to debug a very hot phone.

After successfully (I hope!) hiding the problem from potential customers at an international trade show in Singapore. Thankfully, the phones were displayed on marble tables - very good for heat dissipation between hurried demonstrations!

I was reading a post about the danger of cutting innovation efforts and R&D costs in this radically crappy economy - kinda like the farmers’ saying about not eating the seed corn. Seems a no-brainer to me that while forward-looking efforts might be optimized, long-term strategy and activities should not be compromised or curtailed.

You tech companies want a hint? Bag the next generation 140-button electronic gadget remote control that manages every electronic device in the house, washes your dishes, and vacuums the rug. Instead, gimmee a 15-button remote control in a fashionable color that doesn’t require me to turn on the lights to find the button to pause my DVD.

You want a rant? Here ya go.

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