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Real Life Debugged » Software bugs

Tag-Archive for ◊ Software 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!

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.

Weather.com 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.)

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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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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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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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Yo, Today is December 31, 1969?
Wednesday, April 22nd, 2009 | Author: lisaksimone

Couple weeks ago, I was transported back to December 31, 1969 when I was informed a license for some software expired. Huh? I bet you’ve seen this - Mysterious Little time machine references to December 31, 1969 are caused by a simple software bug - so why does such obvious evidence continue to get completely overlooked before software is released?

That got me thinking so I Googled “December 31, 1969.” Of the first 100 search results, only 8 refer to that Wednesday evening nearly 40 years ago.

The other 92 entries? Oooooh, let’s have some fun exploring the debris trail of software date problems (with very few examples I found of what REALLY happened on December 31, 1969).

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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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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!

Huh?!? I renewed it last month. It’s been running fine!

BitDefender further admonished, “The specified key is not valid. Please enter a valid license key.” After much cajoling and growing ire on my part, it refused to yield, and dragged me way down the rabbit hole.

This is one of those debugging scenarios where you DON’T get access to the source code. OR access to any tool to debug it faster than real time. So, we’re stuck debugging by permutation, with the results of our testing presented as snippy little error messages. But pictures are so much fun, so let’s have a go at it.

(And one of those big hints… Party Like It’s December 31, 1969.)

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Jack Ganssle is an embedded guru and also a really neat guy. He collects real life disasters - when products behave Not As Intended. Some are pretty sad when they involve loss of life, but others are funny - like this store sign that reports a temperature of 501 °F. Whew!

When I pitched the concept of individual product disaster mysteries like “Law and Order” or “CSI” for my book, he liked the idea. And I was even more psyched that he would dig through his collection to find Real Life Disasters with similar root causes to the bugs in each of my chapters.

So I thought of Jack when I ran across a post about errors at a site called “The Daily WTF.” (Man I like that name!)

Check out these pics of other interesting Bugs in Public at - There’s Gotta Be A Catch.

And the Walgreens bug? It’s still out there - a student of mine sent me a picture he took of it in mid 2008.

And what caused the bug?  The bias current to an unconnected processor input in the electronic billboard changed; the normal “zero” state drifted to a logic “one.”  Firmware didn’t ignore this unused bit, and accepted the unnecessary and incorrect new data, generating a temperature display that was insane. - From Jack