A Bug's Life


In my MVS Project Opening today, I showed a few lighthearted slides that highlight the humor in the bug. We've all had bugs, some more than others. :)  Bugs have existed since the beginning of computers. Even the arguably most simple program ever, IEFBR14, has had an APAR or two against it.

The bug I was speaking about today was the Olympic Ring Bug. Certainly it's embarrassing to have your bug displayed so prominently to half the world. Maybe it's unfair to call it a bug. I guess it could have been a performance issue or a hardware failure. It could be referred to as a glitch, a flaw, or a malfunction. But for my purposes it's a bug. For those that haven't seen it, five lit-up snowflakes were to turn into five olympic rings. But one didn't.


Two things to tell you about that have shaped my perspective on bugs. First, what I can recall as my very first bug. It technically wasn't even a bug, it was a compiler error. In 1989 I was working as a COBOL programmer at a bank in Altoona, PA. I had compiled a program and had two errors, undefined name. The fields were WS-CREBITS and WS-DEDITS. I stared at the errors long and hard, and couldn't see anything wrong.    I took a break, came back, and realized instantly they were spelled wrong. CREDITS. DEBITS.

The second epiphany was at a hospital where I programmed. An analyst, responsible for testing, came to me and said 'I was able to put a dead person in a bed on 4E'. I was dumbfounded, and responded with the age-old classic computer reply 'Why would you do that?' I realized that although I was a pretty good programmer, she was a far better tester than I was.
Testing is a skill that I have never excelled at. Not even been competent at, truth be told. Someone once told me you can't test your own code, that it's impossible to have two conflicting ideas in the brain at one time. In my case, 'I did a good job programming' and 'My program is broken'. Or better yet, 'I didn't try to make any errors, so there aren't any'.  The thought was loosely based on the cognitive dissonance theory.
Welcome back from Wikipedia. Shall I continue?

I don't like testing. I don't like trying to make something fail. I would be a rotten hacker. Testing for me is a necessary evil. I, and most people,
I think, test on the basis of success rather than failure, ie, making sure it works, rather than trying to break it.

Testing tools have come a long way though. Intertest, LoadRunner, Tic Toc, etc. It certainly makes the job easier, more efficient and effective.

But getting back to my opening today. The internet of course, was merciless in their ridicule. My favorite was this:


To be fair,the Russians kept their sense of humor about the incident, and even poked fun at themselves during the closing ceremony:


Do you recall a particularly nasty, widespread, or vexxing bug in your past? A snafu that has haunted you all these years? Or a recent one? My bugs of course, were quite small, and rather obscure. (Unless you count the millions of people who read this blog). Bugs happen to everyone. May yours be nice and hidden, unlike the Russian bug to end all bugs.

Your link today is to the rest of the article on the 'Best of the Internet's response to the fifth olympic ring not opening' And many thanks to Ray Mullins for the link.

3/11/14 edit to add Sam Knutson's link from his comment below. http://cbttape.org/funny/bug3.jpg

Till next time,

Mary Anne



1 Like

Bug vs Feature

March 10, 2014 09:55 PM by Sam Knutson

It can be difficult to tell a bug from a feature



An old joke...

March 11, 2014 05:57 PM by Mary Anne Matyaz

"It's not a bug; it's an undocumented feature"

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