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.