Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Check your test equipment

I heard about a perfect example of #1 on my test engineering fears list on the radio the other day.  Some doctors announced earlier this summer that they had "identified a group of 150 genetic variants that they said appeared to allow people to live past 100."  Very cool, but now it appears that there was a flaw with their test equipment.

Of course, I've never had that problem before....

Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Power of Complaining, redux

Over two years ago I wrote about complaining to National Instruments and the eventual response from NI.  Well, back in March I wrote about what happened when I took the CLD.

I use Google Analytics periodically, so I know that my blog gets regular hits in the greater Austin area (National Instrument's home).  So I suppose I shouldn't be surprised that eventually someone from NI read about my test experience.  A few weeks ago I got an email from the Manager of Customer Education at NI to apologize for what happened.  She also said that the problems had been addressed and shouldn't happen again.

I'm not a NI or LabVIEW fanboy by any stretch, but I'll always acknowledge when they do something right.  Thank you, Carol.

Image of a man holding up a protest sign that says "I'm fed up".
How To Complain

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Posting from Oregon

I haven’t posted in over a week since I took some vacation time, and then I was hit with a flurry of work that lasted until Saturday afternoon, took a quick break, and is going strong today.  A couple of days ago I was somewhere over west Texas watching electricity light up a thunderhead like a deranged Christmas tree.  So I decided to catch up on my reading.

What follows is a list of four articles from magazines, digests, etc that I subscribe to.  I managed to at least scan each of these and found them at least mildly interesting and at least somewhat related to test engineering.  Some of them are recent, some are over a year or so old.  I sometimes get delayed in my reading, but at least I get around to it.

Why We Need A Theory for Software Engineering
Dr Dobbs, Oct 2009
This is somewhat related to what I wrote a couple years back about software certification.  Plus it gets points for having Ivar Jacobson as an author.

Data Management Speeds Up Simulation of Crash Test Dummy Models
Nasa Tech Briefs June 2010
Crash test dummies are cool, and the idea of simulating those crashes and analyzing that simulated data is perversely cool as well.

The Online Shadow Economy
ZD Net/Messagelabs
This is a white paper, which means it is a piece of marketing with some small amount of redeeming tech value – the actual amount is negotiable.  I don’t know how real the picture painted by the author may be.  But it’s a fascinating one to examine, even if it is touched up with a bit of invisible ink.

Software Tool Integrating Data Flow Diagrams and Petri Nets
Nasa Tech Briefs March 2010
This little article intrigued me on several levels.  First, the tool itself looks like it would be useful for software testing (early in the process).  Second, I had never even heard of Petri Nets before - cool stuff.  And finally, the guy who invented them (at age thirteen no less) died just a couple weeks ago.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Blog anniversary follow-up

I was trolling around the NI website looking for blogs I may have overlooked when I wrote this post.  Then I found this little nugget: a recent presentation for NI employees about running blogs.  I had a good chuckle reading it, especially considering none of the NI blogs I saw were updated at the suggested once/week rate.  Also, several of the statements in that presentation paralleled a Wired article and NYT piece I covered a year ago.

When I worked at HP they had a policy of awarding money ($1000 back then) to anyone who was published in a magazine or journal.  So when I published an article in a visual basic magazine I scored twice: about a grand from the magazine as well as HP (sweet).  I wonder if NI employees that run their own blogs get extra compensation?  Or are they allowed to advertise on their blogs?  Food for thought.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Three year anniversary

I've now completed a third year of writing to this blog.  That's 133 posts, 35 of them over the past 12 months.  That's just a bit above my 32-post pace for year two, and way off my 66 posts the first year.  It's rough to keep up just a ~2.5 post/month pace, much less a post a week.

That's what I want to write about yet again today.  I took a look at the 8 blogs I had recommended after my first year.  Seven of them haven't been updated in a year or more, or only had a single post in the past several months.  I'm not even sure if the eighth blog counts, since it's maintained by Test and Measurement World.

I also tried looking at LabVIEW-specific blogs.  My main source was this list of blogs on the LabVIEW wiki.  Of that really long list, I only found 3 blogs that I would consider current: at least one post per month.  And ALL of those blogs are written by National Instruments employees, so again I'm not sure that counts.

So, aside from patting myself on the back, what am I saying?  I guess my point is that I've kept writing steadily for 3 years and intend to do it for years to come.  As I said a few days ago, I enjoy it.