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Real Life Debugged » Software bugs

Tag-Archive for ◊ Software bugs ◊

Embedded Humor: Smart-House 2.0 Crashed My Kitchen
Sunday, December 14th, 2008 | Author: lisaksimone

This is a hilarious set of diaries entries for what can Go Wrong when you network your house. While we laugh now, years into the future when you need to reboot your kitchen, we’ll look back at our innocence and wonder why the heck we didn’t pull an intervention before this could be allowed to happen. (Sadly, or happily, we’ll get here by default.)

Nov 28: Moved in to my new digitally maxed-out Hermosa Beach house at last. Finally, we live in the smartest house in the neighborhood. Everything’s networked. The cable TV is connected to our phone, which is connected to my personal computer, which is connected to the power lines, all the appliances and the security system. Everything runs off a universal remote with the friendliest interface I’ve ever used. Programming is a snap. I’m like, totally wired.

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What? Products have Bugs?
Saturday, April 05th, 2008 | Author: lisaksimone

A few years back, I was blindsided by a problem that is plaguing the creation of technology-based products and services. We don’t teach our technical community of students, developers, computer scientists and engineers how to solve problems.

But I don’t mean original technical problems like how to build a faster computer or how to diagnose cancer through advanced imaging analysis. Those “problems” are the types of technical and social challenges that got us into engineering and science in the first place.

I mean the unintended problems that plague us on the quest to create a portable artificial kidney or deliver high fidelity movies over a cell phone. Problems that weren’t supposed to be there in the first place.

I mean Bugs.

We’re putting more bugs into our products without having the skills and expertise to take them back out again.

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William Wong from Electronic Design Magazine writes,

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.

This storytelling-approach helps you remember the techniques. Even expert programmers with plenty of debugging background can read the book solely for its educational and entertainment value, possibly even picking up a few useful tips along the way.

Debugging is still an art, not a science. Simone attempts to bring some rules and reason to programming.

The narrative approach is used throughout, except for the appendix outline of debugging secrets. Many are common sense or ones usually picked up with experience but some may surprise you.

And yes, one of the chapters is entitled If I Only Changed The Software, Why Is the Phone on Fire?

The review can be found here.

My idea to use fiction and a mystery format to teach debugging skills evolved over time. When I first planned to write a book on debugging embedded systems, I created an outline of typical bugs and debugging techniques, but it seemed kind of boring.

(BORING!)

Who would read this? I wondered. Then I tried explaining the problem-solving thought process in terms of a real life problem, like an industrial over that overheats. This lead to the test case publication, “A Feynman Approach to Debugging,” that appeared in Embedded Systems Design magazine (Embedded.com) in 2004. This article was written in second-person, and it was my first attempt to place the debugging challenges into a mystery format.

It was well-received, but when it came time to write an entire book of mysteries, I wasn’t sure keeping the second-person style would keep readers interested. After some research and trial-and-error for my first foray into fiction, I changed the mysteries to third person, making the move from non-fiction to fiction complete.

Read the test case article,“A Feynman Approach to Debugging,” here.