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Real Life Debugged » Software debugging

Tag-Archive for ◊ Software debugging ◊

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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“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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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?

John S. Danaher dreamed up a Debugging is Fun episode of House, likening their problem-solving skills in medicine to our problem-solving skills in software.

Debugging? Yeah.  Dediseasing? Nah, doesn’t sound to sanitary.  Yeeech.

I was psyched because that’s my book - technical mysteries for engineers packaged in individual episodes like House or CSI.  Cool!

And now, a preview of House, PE.

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“Phone on Fire” Foreword by Jack Ganssle
Sunday, December 14th, 2008 | Author: lisaksimone

Foreword by Jack Ganssle

The oldest known book about engineering is the 2000-year-old work De Architectura by Marcus Vitruvius Pollio. One historian said of Vitruvius and his book, “He writes in atrocious Latin, but he knows his business.” Another commented, “He has all the marks of one unused to composition, to whom writing is a painful task.”

Does that sound like the last ten technical books you’ve read?

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!

This is a James Patterson-style fast-paced book with dialog as close to gripping as one can imagine for a computer book. Its uniquely embedded focus twists together elements of hardware and software just as we engineers do in our daily design activities. One can’t be understood without the other. Code makes the hardware smoke. That’s unheard of anywhere but in the embedded industry.

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I received a very nice review from ECN Magazine - the reviewer couldn’t put the book down!

Lisa Simone has done a wonderful job explaining software debugging for embedded-system designers, and I highly recommend her book. Simone uses Hudson Technologies, a fictional company, and several main characters, Oscar, Josie, Li Mei, and Ravi to take readers through nine chapters of debugging dialog.

The dialog, which adds realism and some tension to the stories, shows what software developers go through in realistic situations, from debugging poorly written code to tracking down problems with interrupt service routines.”

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. I decided to tackle a chapter before lunch and went through four chapters in one sitting. I haven’t had as much fun with a book about programming in a long time.

Read the rest of the review here.

Visit ECN Magazine.

Phone on Fire Newsletter, Issue 8
Sunday, March 18th, 2007 | Author: lisaksimone

Folks,

Welcome to Issue #8: It’s Really Happening!

After 6 weeks of silence (from me to you, and from the publisher to me!), we are shipping next week!  The premiere is coming up, and I can finally admit some of the secrets kept from my publisher.  ;-)

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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.