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Sender: "Team Ada: Ada Advocacy Issues (83 & 95)" <[log in to unmask]>
Date: Wed, 20 Dec 2000 19:57:27 -0600
Reply-To: Tony <[log in to unmask]>
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From: Tony <[log in to unmask]>
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Hey all!

  I am sympathetic to your interest in fantastic software failures.  I have
a file of my own collecting interesting stories of engineering failures, but
by doing so I think we miss the forest for the trees.  While a multi-million
dollar error chalked up to a line of code or two is interesting, it is very
difficult to make an argument that languages, design methodology, processes,
and so on can catch unexpected errors when the system is deployed in an
environment (e.g. Mars, the internet 8) that has not been predicted in test
cases.  This is problem is not really specific to software engineering, but
we are a bigger victim due to our arrogance (or naiveté) to take on such a
vast responsibility in controlling systems.

  What seems to be a better direction to go with 'sucky software' is the
really basic stuff.  What failures exist because of poor practices that
repeatedly cause a loss of 5 minutes or fifty cents (shillings, fenig, etc.
for our international readers).  How much time is wasted by engineers
hunting down errors because the compiler did not make a sensible check, or
the engineer is allowed to goof.  How much time do I waste when a web
developer makes an error on the 4th of 6 pages of forms to fill out and I
start over again 3 times before writing a nasty e-mail to tell them to get
it fixed?  I think these are much more applicable 'sucky software' problems,
and in many ways more interesting to see why people hang on to silly taboos.

  You also can have the added benefit of insulting an entire population of
C, C++ or Java programmer instead of focusing your ire on a small group of
engineers on a single application environment! 8)

My humble contribution and warped perspective,

Tony


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