Lisa K Simone

"Phone on Fire" Technical Mystery Book

If I Only Changed the Software, Why is the
Phone on Fire?

Embedded Debugging Methods Revealed: Technical Mysteries for Engineers

Lisa Simone
Your new product crashes and what do you do?

Welcome to Hudson Technologies, the home-away-from-home for four engineers who tackle real-life software and hardware technical problems while upper management and customers hover nervously. Chapter after chapter, the engineers are faced with a series of technical mysteries of products behaving badly, with the pain of management pressure that "this must be fixed today."

"Phone on Fire" at

Think for a moment - How many software or debugging books have you bought and rarely opened? Learning about debugging can be painful. But what if you could absorb the lessons during individual "CSI for Embedded Systems"-like mysteries?

The Engineers

Meet Oscar, Josie, Ravi, and Li Mei - technical folks who you've all met and worked with (or for). They're a typical engineering team with good days and bad; flashes of inspiration following head-banging frustration after days of little sleep. They explore traditional and nontraditional debugging methods and testing, while working with folks from hardware, system test, and marketing. While they're less dysfunctional than some teams can get, they feel the same pressure to nail the bugs amid sometimes frustrating team dynamics, broken or missing tools, some idiot customers and a stressful trade show demonstration.

The Mysteries

Each mystery begins with a Real-World Bug from Jack Ganssle's collection of embedded disasters that relate to each mystery. While some Real-World Bugs are humorous (temperature in a hot Texas town is reported at 505 F) others result in loss of life - a sobering tribute to the ease with which we randomly change 1's and 0's in our code.

This book can be enjoyed in a number of ways - it was written for folks of all experience levels from students and new engineers to seasoned technologists. Each mystery is a window into technical team dynamics and provides a "Day In The Life" for folks curious about the field. Each mystery stands alone, although the Hudson team is the thread that weaves the stories together.

While you get caught up in the mysteries, let the team's tricks get lodged in your brain to come floating back out when you find a similar bug or symptom in your own technical travels.

It's all about your approach to problem solving.
Make your next step a logical one instead of a random one.


Chapter 1: The Case of the Irate Customer: Debugging Other People's Code, Fast
Chapter 2: The Newest Employee: Learning the Embedded Ropes through Code Inheritance
Chapter 3: It Compiles with No Errors; It Must Work! Integrating Changes in a Larger System
Chapter 4: The Case of Thermal Runaway: Rare Transient Bugs Are Still Bugs
Chapter 5: The Case of the Creeping Slider Carriage and the Case of the Hesitating Clock: Alternate Methods of Understanding System Performance
Chapter 6: If I Only Changed the Software, Why Is the Phone on Fire?
Chapter 7: The Case of the Rapid Heartbeat: Meeting the Spirit of the Requirement
Chapter 8: What Kind of Error Message Is "lume Fault"? When all of the Symptoms Seem Impossible
Chapter 9: When It's Not Hardware, It's Software. And Vice Versa. Blurring the Interface.
Appendix: Li Mei's List of Debugging Secrets

ISBN-13: 978-0-7506-8218-3
ISBN-10: 0-7506-8218-3