Robert V. Binder

Archive for Blog

If It Moves, Test It

The FDA has just published a new draft of guidance about mobile technology in FDA-regulated systems. This guidance is open for comment and isn’t binding yet.
So, what does this mean for testing FDA-regulated products with mobile technology?
The draft guidance defines when mobile platforms are considered as part of a regulated system or not. The criteria for inclusion…

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Steve Jobs’ Product Design Philosophy and Systems Engineering

October 7, 2011  |  Blog, Business, Software Products  |  No Comments

Steve Jobs’ genius was in conceptualizing unique interfaces and packaging that resonated very deeply for large numbers of customers, and in the second half of his career, combining this with a business and operational model that generated huge returns to shareholders and delighted 100s of millions.
During his interlude with NeXT,…

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Déjà vu All Over Again – The Mobile Testing Nightmare

I attended a great talk today about testing mobile applications, given by Lee Barnes of Utopia Solutions. It recounted the Rubik’s cube permutations that affect mobile app quality and reliability: multiple stacks, multiple handheld devices/form factors, constrained battery life, constrained memory/processor, variability of wireless connectivity, different behavior in dedicated…

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Competent, Mediocre, or Dangerous?

A Chicago Tribune article recounts how a software bug in an infusion pump lead to brain-death for a patient in 2009 (“Medical Industry Taking Hard Look at Software Faults,” Christine Mai-Duc, Chicago Tribune, August 31, 2011, p. 19)
It reports that the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), which regulates and…

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Software Testability, Part 3: Accidental Untestability

This post covers part three of my 2010 talk on testability.
Aren’t the dancing hamsters a stitch?
Not so funny if you have to test code whose stability or controllability makes you feel like you’re wearing the hula-hoop.
To reveal a bug, a test must:

Reach the buggy code
Trigger the bug
Propagate the incorrect result to an observable interface
Incorrect…

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VCs Say the Darndest Things

August 2, 2011  |  Blog, Business, Software Products  |  3 Comments
Exit sign Sand Hill Road

 As the fundraiser for startup mVerify, I contacted over a hundred venture capital (VC)investors and then had serious discussions with several dozen. Although I came close to getting a terms sheet a few times, all the discussions ended in a brief email or call saying “pass” or “pass, let’s stay in…

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Software Testability, Part 2: Controllability and Observability

July 20, 2011  |  Blog, Software Testing, Testability  |  2 Comments

What makes a software system easier or harder to test?

 
 The general aspects are controllability and observability.
This post covers part two of my 2010 talk on testability.
 
 Controllability determines the work it takes to set up and run test cases and the extent to which individual functions and features of the system under test…

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Software Testability, Part 1: What is it?

My 2010 keynote at the Google Test Automation conference considered the dimensions of software testability and its implications.

Click here for the slides.
Click here to view the video

This presentation is serialized in following posts.

Part 1: Testability: What is it?
Part 2: Controllability and Observability
Part 3: Accidental Untestability
Part 4: White Box Testability
Part 5:…

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How a Big Ball of Mud becomes a Black Hole: Why Software Architecture and Process Matters

July 11, 2011  |  Blog, Business, Process, Software Products  |  No Comments
Cosmic matter spiraling into a black hole

Once upon a time, I had a Software 25 company with a struggling division as a client. They were selling and supporting an integrated enterprise system brought in by acquisition. This product, at version 7.0, was dominant in its market. But, with apologies to Gresham, bad software was driving out…

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Is Making Movies Like Making Software?

June 20, 2011  |  Blog, Business, Process, Software Products  |  4 Comments

After proving that good project management and software engineering could result in on-time, in-budget, high quality results for contract software development, I was designated as the project manager of a large fixed-price development project. Despite my objections, a second project manager was also assigned to this project. The relationship was explained as…

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