Oct 09


BugSpy crawls the web in search of the latest bug reports in open source software.  It tries to display only open bugs.  You can search by tag or product name.

Jul 16

Outrageous Visa bill

Many Visa prepaid cardholders were stunned when they opened their bill Monday to discover a $23,148,855,308,184,500 charge.  That’s $23 quadrillion, which exceeds the combined GDP of every country on the planet.

Josh Muszynski, 22, of Manchester, New Hampshire, was one of the unlucky Visa customers.  Adding insult to injury, he was also charged a $15 overdraft fee.  According to his statement, he spent all that money in one transaction at a nearby Mobil gas station where he often stops for Camel cigarettes.

He checked with the gas station, but they had no record of the charge.  Next he called his card issuer Bank of America, which put him on hold for two hours.  Eventually a bank rep told him the charge and overdraft fee would be removed from his account.

In a statement, Visa said the bad charges affected “fewer than 13,000 prepaid transactions” and resulted from a “temporary programming error at Visa Debit Processing Services … [which] caused some transactions to be inaccurately posted to a small number of Visa prepaid accounts.”

Story at CNN
Stupid Is As Stupid Does

Jul 01

TheDailyWTF describes how poor database design and user error bankrupted a small chain of pet stores.

“MegaPetCo” was upset that its website ran incredibly slow.  Consultant Rick discovered MegaPetCo was using a single shared database for its website and everything else in its business — sales, payroll, HR, inventory, tax records, invoices and maintenance tickets.  The database was incredibly simple: a single table with hundreds of columns.  It probably had humble beginnings as a spreadsheet and organically grew into a vast monolith over the seven years that MegaPetCo was in business.  All told, the database had millions of rows in a single table.

Then one day a developer was optimizing the database and removing records that MegaPetCo no longer needed.  All it took was a single, poorly-formed delete query to wipe out each and every row in the database table.  MegaPetCo’s sales immediately ground to a halt, along with everything else in the company.  And of course — you guessed it — there were no backups.

Within a few months, the company filed for bankruptcy and was forced to close every one of its stores, laying off several hundred people along the way.

Read the story
More Stupid Stuff

Mar 13

And we thought gas prices had fallen…

When Juan Zamora refueled his car at a Conoco service station in Richland, Washington, the gas pump showed a total fee of $26.  But in a freak computer glitch, the PayPal debit card he used recorded the transaction as $81,400,836,908, i.e., 81 billion dollars.  “That’s a B, as in billions!” Zamora said.

Zamora got the shock of his life when he received an email later that afternoon informing him that his debit card was maxed out.  At first he thought it was a joke. But after contacting PayPal customer service, Zamora was surprised to see that the company wanted its 81 billion dollars.

“Somebody from a foreign country who spoke in broken English argued with me for 10 to 15 minutes,” Zamora said. ” ‘Did you get the gas?’ he asked.  Like I had to prove that I didn’t pump $81,400,836,908 in gas!”  He would have had to fill up more than 3 billion cars to reach that outrageous sum.

Eventually Zamora was able to convince PayPal how ridiculous his bill was.  The cause of the glitch is still unknown.  “I guess the moral of this story is to pay cash,” Zamora said.

Story at Consumer Energy Report

Jan 14

Experts from more than 30 U.S. and international cyber-security organizations jointly released a consensus list of the 25 most dangerous programming errors that lead to security bugs and cyber-crime.

The impact of these programming errors is significant.  Just two of these errors resulted in more than 1.5 million website security breaches during 2008.  These breaches allowed malicious software to take control of the computers that visited those web sites, turning their computers into zombies that committed further cyber-crimes.

Shockingly, most programmers do not understand or look for these errors.  Colleges rarely teach programming students how to avoid these errors.  And most software companies don’t explicitly test for these errors before releasing their products.

Continue reading »

Aug 18

This programmer discovered the hard way the importance of testing:

in 1998, i made a C++ program to calculate pi to a billion digits. i coded it on my laptop (pentium 2 i think) and then ran the program. the next day i got a new laptop but decided to keep the program running. it’s been over seven years now since i ran it. and this morning it finished calculating. the output: "THE VALUE OF PI TO THE BILLIONTH DIGIT IS = "

mindblowing eh? i looked in the code of my program, and i found out that i forgot to output the value :(.

Comment: true story, i fixed the code and am running it again.  (Source)

This cautionary tale reminds me of a certain fictional computer that worked for 7-1/2 million years to calculate the meaning of life, only to output the number 42:

"I think the problem is that the question was too broadly based…"

"Forty two?!" yelled Loonquawl. "Is that all you’ve got to show for seven and a half million years’ work?"

"I checked it very thoroughly," said the computer, "and that quite definitely is the answer. I think the problem, to be quite honest with you, is that you’ve never actually known what the question is."  (Source)

Jul 17

A creed is a statement of belief or faith often recited as part of a religious service or organizational gathering.  The word “creed” derives from the Latin credo (I believe) or credimus (we believe).  Perhaps the oldest is Apostle’s Creed cited in Christianity.  However, the Rifleman’s Creed is arguably the most famous, made popular by the Stanley Kubrick war movie “Full Metal Jacket” (warning: language).  This has inspired me (with tongue planted firmly in cheek) to write a creed for our noble profession of software development.

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Feb 12

“To err is human, but to really foul things up you need a computer.”  –Paul Ehrlich

Software errors cost the U.S. economy $60 billion annually in rework, lost productivity and actual damages.  We all know software bugs can be annoying, but faulty software can also be expensive, embarrassing, destructive and deadly.  Following are 20 famous software “disasters” in chronological order:

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Feb 12

This is Part 2 of “20 Famous Software Disasters.”
See also Part 1, Part 3 and Part 4.

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Feb 12

This is Part 3 of “20 Famous Software Disasters.”
See also Part 1, Part 2 and Part 4.

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