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Real Life Debugged » Real-life problems

Tag-Archive for ◊ Real-life problems ◊

So I got a new job doing embedded systems forensics - debugging medical devices that have possibly Gone Wrong.  Turns out my Phone on Fire book was an excellent calling card, as the position requires the same problem-solving brain twists as my own technical mysteries!

Pretty cool when your potential boss has read part of your book.

Anyway, we’d been working towards a Final Written Offer Letter for a little while.  I got a Verbal shortly after the interview, a Tentative Written Offer Letter a while later, and over the next couple months I completed two pretty comprehensive application packages about 1/2 a ream thick.  It would have been less stressful if Microsoft would have let me open my own thesis, but it got all registry passive-aggressive on me.

The final weeks we ramped asymptotically to 99.999% Goodness with the Tentative Official Offer Letter.  (My language, not theirs.)

So, happily, I get The Official Call from HR and I’ve passed all security clearances, have garnered the last 0.001% and am now officially 100% approved as a new hire!

… and (baited breath) shortly there after the long awaited Official Official Offer Letter arrives via email!  I double click, excited the day has finally arrived …

… and I can’t open the document.

 

Click to view

 

 

 

 

Gaaaaaa.

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Simple task - a job application requires the abstract of my PhD dissertation.  So I find the file, double click, and … ERROR.

Huh?

(Yes, I hear you cry!  I knew where the files were!)

You see, about 5 years ago I spent a couple days pulling stuff off boxes of floppies before the data puddled into magnetic goo.  Surrounded by mostly 3 1/2’s and many 5 1/4’s (and several disk backup tapes), I found my dissertation and with mixed memories (yes, the terror does fade with time), I tried to open the files.

Back then, Microsoft presented me with a different, although more frightening message when I attempted to open the files.  Something about not being able to read the old Word file format at all (Yikes!).

Had the ghost returned?

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I got a check from the Department of Defense that represents Your Tax Dollars At Work.  You paid for me to recommend where some of that defense money goes.  I tried my best, and I hope you’re happy with my performance.

Whatever your opinions or political leanings, I think we all agree that the effects of war on our warriors and their families is tremendous.  And we hear stories how returning soldiers and veterans don’t receive the best possible care.

Let me tell you about some of the medical research being funded.  Real research and development projects aimed directly at the most significant medical problems.  A huge new challenge is dealing with IEDs - Improvised Explosive Devices - causing blast injuries.  Those who survive often suffer lost limbs, traumatic brain injury, PTSD.

I’d like to tell you about where the money is going, and how the government decides to spend it.

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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.

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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

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.

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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.

Brrrr.

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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?

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

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

Again, this time with more feeling.

Huh?!?

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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.”

Northbranch Park. When I was *prepared* for the icicles.

Last spring, I jumped into my car, damp from a light afternoon shower and jacked up the heat. It was overcast but about 70ºF outside. Brrr - I was chilled! But when when I maxed out the temperature (90ºF) my car refused to emit the anticipated waves of warmth. Grrrr.

The gas tank was full, car nicely washed and detailed, clean air filter and sated with meandering drives in the country: she should be happy and content. But nooo, she’d gone bipolar and my car insurance doesn’t cover mental health.

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