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Real Life Debugged » Vent-Rant

Tag-Archive for ◊ Vent-Rant ◊

So my faithful little Dell Inspiron 700m laptop finally waved the white flag in the face of burgeoning memory requirements from many  programs that shall remain nameless, rude programs, Microsoft saying What The Hell to a zillion instances of the same program, and ramping memory leaks from other commonly used programs.

If I leave my computer for a while, that whole glacial crawl thing happens, and I finally got sick of apologizing for the wait when attempting to show pictures to my family.  Horrible.

So, how much memory can you put in an Inspiron 700m?  I didn’t realize it would be a difficult and contentious question.

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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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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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“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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Subtitle: Another digression about talking with those silly customers

I had a discussion with a good friend the other day - we’d spent years fire-fighting embedded systems gone wrong. During many all-nighters and several 110-hour weeks, our deepening ire became sharply focused on the idiocy of using zillion-line industry standards as product requirements.

On that project, there was no “customer need” or requirements document. I’d never met a customer. That was 12 years ago. It hasn’t changed much, he admitted. Now, as it was then, buggy products are still late.

Then I was approached by a university to redo their senior design program. Cooool - I got to indoctrinate brand-new engineers to the entire industry-standard process: starting with customer needs and requirements. “Back away from the keyboard,” I told them. “TALK to the customer.” And you know what? They got it!

To my delight, my best teams delivered beyond the customers’ expectations, and one won a national design award for their work. (Their story is below)

If graduating engineers can do it, why can’t we?

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The stereotypical learning style for engineers is that of visualization - we learn through seeing. Pictures and diagrams, watching facial expressions, doing practical projects. The other two learning styles are auditory (hearing) and kinesthetic (feeling). Since ~65% of the population are classified as visuals, proposed changes in education include adding more visual elements to improve learning.

And here it is in practice! While searching for a recipe online, I found Cooking for Engineers. Lemmee jump to the punch line - here’s the summary for Shrimp Scampi.

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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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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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