Robert V. Binder

Archive for Business

How Technical Debt turns into Technical Bankruptcy

March 27, 2012  |  Blog, Business, Process, Software Products  |  No Comments
Cosmic matter spiraling into a black hole

Technical Bankruptcy occurs when technical debt overwhelms the maintainers of a software system. I’ve previously blogged about a case study:  how the accumulation of poor development practices resulted in the business failure of highly successful Enterprise IT software company.
The technical debt metaphor provides a nice handle for a software development …

Read More

Britannica Brat

March 19, 2012  |  Blog, Business, Technology  |  6 Comments

I’ve been reflecting on the recent announcement that Encyclopedia Britannica (EB) will no longer publish in print. Subscription to its web site is now the only offered media.

My full set of the 15th edition (1974) rests on the lower two shelves of a bookcase in the room where I’m writing this…

Read More

What I Learned Building a Software Product with Tcl

February 25, 2012  |  Blog, Business, Networking, Process, Software Products  |  7 Comments

Through Google Circles, I happened to see David Welton’s very interesting reflection on the Tcl programming language (posted in 2010):
http://journal.dedasys.com/2010/03/30/where-tcl-and-tk-went-wrong/
About ten years ago, I chose to develop a commercial automated software testing tool with Tcl and Tk. This post explains that decision and its consequences.
Despite testing tools that tout “visual programming”…

Read More

Real Users of Model-based Testing

I think’ve finally found a good visual metaphor for model-based testing. In Aliens, Ellen Ripley uses the power lifter suit to battle the Alien Queen. Model-based testing is like the power lifter suit. It has to be driven with intelligence and skill, but it’s your only hope against the super bugs that…

Read More

Supporting Software Inspections and Reviews

December 3, 2011  |  Blog, Process, Software Products  |  6 Comments
Machinist's Gauges

In every software project where I’ve used some form of review process (formal inspections, walkthroughs, or reviews — for this post I refer to all as “reviews”), the gain has always justified the pain. Invariably, some developers really dislike this process, leading to tantrums reminiscent of Orange Country Choppers.
But I’ve regretted every time…

Read More

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…

Read More

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,…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More

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…

Read More