Sunday, December 15, 2013

The Republican Brain

Science and technology are very important to me.  I look back on the thousands of years of human civilization, of failed empires, of the rise and fall of governments and it just makes me sad.  Then I look at how far civilization has come in just the past few hundred years, and I'm hopeful.  Maybe it's a little bit religious, but I do have faith that most people are basically good and, if we continue to emphasize scientific and engineering advancements, humanity will prosper.

Then I spend a little time watching Fox News, or reading a website like this, and I get depressed again.  The earth is getting warmer.  Mankind evolved from apes, which evolved from earlier species, all the way back to primordial ooze.  The Earth is a few billion years old, not 6000.  All these statements are supported by mountains of evidence and theories.  Why don't people accept this?  I finally got around to reading "The Republican Brain," and I have to say it was very convincing.

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Labview versioning hell, pt 2

Back in July I wanted to look at some fairly old code I had stumbled across - in the past I've had to do this a time or three.  This code was too old to up-convert with the version of LV I had, and I didn't have access to any older versions of LV.  While I worked on posting the code online to ask someone to convert it for me, I posted a suggestion to the LabVIEW Idea Exchange.

Basically, I was asking for a way to at least view very old code, and maybe include reasons for why it couldn't be up-converted.  The response I got was, basically, "If you are an SSP member you can download older LV versions.  If you don't pay to keep up your SSP, you're SOL."

Needless to say, I found that less than satisfying.  First of all, why would I want to spend the time and effort to download and keep track of older versions of Labview?  Second, it sounds like just another way to have owners of the LV software to continually pay money to NI...

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Test your code

So at my new company I'm back to software testing.  What goes around comes around I suppose - I first learned the ins and outs of software testing at HP about 15 years ago.  Even though most of my jobs have been hardware testing since then, I still enjoy reading about it (i.e. - here, there, and way back then).  As my dad has said many times, it never hurts to learn something new.

Speaking of which, I recently found two articles about the costs of NOT testing your software that I enjoyed, in a perverse sort of way.  The first article is a bit esoteric unless you've done serious code testing before.  Basically, it explains how Kaspersky released an update to software that wasn't regression-tested.  In other words they made changes to the software, and, while they may have tested their changes, they didn't test whether those changes would mess up the base code.  That's the whole point of a regression test suite.

The second article is of somewhat more personal importance.  For a long time I owned only Toyota cars.  But once I started reading about braking problems back in 2009, I decided to buy Ford instead (here and here).  This past October a court finally ruled against Toyota, and central to the case was the Engine Control Module's firmware.

Will companies forever keep neglecting software testing in favor of releasing product ASAP?  I mean, just reading a paper like this from NASA and anyone with half a brain should realize that software testing is of paramount importance.  Jeez.