Happy Halloween From uTest!

It’s not easy to make a connection between software testing and Halloween, but I’ll give it a shot…

Does anyone remember the horrible half-star horror movie from the 1980s called Maximum Overdrive? It starred Emilio Estevez and was based on the Steven King novel. Well, if you have seen it, I apologize. If you haven’t, here’s a quick synopsis from IMDB.com:

For 3 days in 1986, the earth passed through the tail of a mysterious comet. During that time, machines on earth suddenly come to life and terrorize their human creators. A small group of people in a truck stop, surrounded by “alive” semi-trailers, set out to stop the machines before the machines stop them.

The movie also included a soda machine killing a little league head coach, which to my knowledge is a cinema first. Anyway, if you think scenarios like this are reserved for the movies, think again. Here’s a story from Geek.com on a real-life maximum overdrive software bug:

Car manufacturer Jaguar has had to recall nearly 18,000 of its X-Type cars after a serious software bug has been identified in the on-board system of the vehicle. The bug potentially stops a driver from turning off the cruise control system, which is more than a little dangerous.

The good news is there have been no reports of this happening in an X-Type as of yet beyond the Jaguar employee who identified it in his own car. Luckily for Jaguar it only affects a subset of their X-Types, notably those produced between 2006-2010 and having a diesel engine. In total, 17,678 vehicles have been recalled.

What Jaguar has found is in the diesel X-Types the disabling may not work, meaning you could be traveling at 70, hit the brakes, and nothing happens. That would be a very scary moment, especially if there was traffic ahead. If it does happen, then turning off the engine is the only way to regain control.

No word yet from Jaguar’s testing team on what caused this bug, but we’re going to assume it was a rogue comet. This is software testing 101.

Continue Reading

Which One of These Software Testing Stories is Fake?

If you scan the headlines for terms like “software bugs” and “software glitches”, then you know how crazy the world of faulty software can be. So, to have a little fun here on a Friday afternoon, I’ve included summaries of five recent news stories that involve software glitches. Four of them are real. One is fake. Can you figure out which one is fake? Good luck.

Software Glitch Blamed For Property Overvaluations

After months of inquiry from the group of co-op presidents and council members, the Department of Finance responded (to angry residents) by blaming the skyrocketed valuations on a computer glitch. The glitch, according to members of the Council’s Finance Committee, allowed for the incongruous comparison of many co-ops to much pricier real estate—including commercial properties.

Software Glitch Turns Satellite Into Space Zombie

A telecommunications satellite, which remained electrically active while adrift in orbit for more than eight months, was rendered unable to take commands by an electrostatic discharge that fouled its onboard software, officials said. The glitch forced operators of neighboring satellites to perform orbital maneuvers to avoid frequency interference as the satellite drifted along the geostationary arc. Officials say the glitch had nothing to do with solar activity.

Continue Reading

More Year 2010 Bugs Surface

Shortly after Mike posted his article about German banks experiencing Y2K fashionably late with their 2016 glitch, two more great 2010 bugs came across my desk:

SpamAssassin Loses Its Mind – Marks Everything as Spam
SpamAssassin filters spam on thousands of email servers around the world, blocking millions of emails you don’t want.  And as of January 1, 2010, it also blocked all the emails you do want.  You see, one of SpamAssassin’s rules blocks emails that were sent from the distant future because some spammers use that tactic hoping they’ll appear at the top of your inbox.  For years now, that rule has hard coded January 1, 2010 as the cutoff date for emails – meaning anything with that date or later was flagged as spam.

If you run SpamAssassin and are wondering why you haven’t received any emails lately, you should probably update your software.

Symantec – Have You Updated Lately?  What About Now?  Now?  How About Now? I Don’t Believe You.
For reasons that are not clear, Symantec’s Endpoint Protection Manager product believes that any virus definitions received after December 31, 2009 are out of date.  Of course, it would really like you update your obsolete definitions even though they’re perfectly fine.  A fix is apparently in the works, but workarounds have already been posted.

Fashionably Late: Y2K Bug Hits German, Aussie Banks

It arrived much later than expected – 10 years in fact – but the Y2k bug may finally get its time to shine. According to the AFP,German Banking officials have warned that as many as 30 million card holders may be unable to withdraw cash or make online payments due to the “feared Y2k computer bug.”

Apparently, certain chips used in a new series of “high tech” banking cards are unable to recognize the year 2010. The problem could persist for the next ten days, which is especially bad for the “EC” cardholders, as they are direct debit instruments, and are not able to purchase anything on credit even when they function properly.

This news coming just days after similar problems had been reported in Australia, where certain POS (point of sale) transactions were unable to be processed. This bug was dubbed the “2016 glitch”, since the machines apparently recognized the year 2016 in place of 2010.

Either way, I suppose this would be a good time to remind our readers of the importance of regression testing….

Two Phrases That Don’t Belong Together: Software Bugs and Airplanes

Flight DeelaayyyyyyyyysThe mere thought of air travel during the holidays is annoying enough to send most people running to their nearest bus or train station.  The crowds, the lines, the delays, the zip-lock bags and 3 oz bottles of shampoo… but wait, there’s more!

Late last week, a five-hour computer glitch caused flight delays across the U.S. that were still rippling through the transportation system for most of the day.  The problem was made worse by the fact that the National Airspace Data Interchange Network failed at both its locations — Atlanta and Salt Lake City.  (Ed. note:  I’ll try hard to avoid using the word “crash” in this post.)

Bloomberg.com had this to say:

The Federal Aviation Administration blamed a four-hour software failure for causing airline delays and cancellations across the U.S.  The shutdown lasted from 5 a.m. to 9 a.m. ET after “a software configuration” malfunction today in Salt Lake City.

And The New York Times chimed in with this little bit of sunny news:

Continue Reading