Dreaming of Bugs

The other night I was half-sleeping and all I could think of was

“——- You are receiving this mail because: ——-
You are the assignee for the bug, or are watching the assignee.
You reported the bug, or are watching the reporter.”

I have dreamed about computer games and all that weird stuff before. But I have never dreamed about bugzilla mails ….

Bug or Feature

Everyone knows this I guess, just another software developer stereoptype. I have just encountered this the first time in this form yesterday.

I had prepared a fancy menu to celebrate Rollands last written exam. After dinner I took a quick look at my email box and found several bug reports. Since our big mega project is going live tomorrow (unless there remain any bugs) I decided to browse them and see what each was. One wasn’t a bug of mine it turned out this morning, the other was uhm ‘interesting’.

The reporter had put this as a ‘Critical Bug’ of absolutely highest priority. I nearly dropped dead, since this is just one short of a showstopper bug. The report contained the sentence “This is bad, what should we do in this case” and there was some sample input to reproduce the bug. Minutes later he had posted a screenshot. At home I don’t have access to our internal bugzilla (still no ipsec) so I could not take a closer look.

The description of the bug though made me think. The error message the tester had encountered was “…. multiple suggestions found for ….” which is a completely legit error message if the input doesn’t match 100% and up to now this one worked just fine. I also noticed how the abbreviations he had used in the sample input weren’t correct and they would have to be corrected. This was the moment I was about 70% sure that the reporter had simply sent me a ‘Critical Bug’ that was actually a feature.

This morning – after having a flat tire on my bike – I arrived somewhat exhausted in the office. The first thing I did was that I entered the sample input into the form and voilà the results were just fine. There were suggestions for the wrong field and if one was selected the complete thing was accepted.

I opened the bugzilla report and started writing my answer while telling my colleagues about the ‘Critical Bug’ that was a feature. At the moment half the team is laughing hard. I marked the bug as invalid and someone has closed it in the meantime. The bad thing is that the project managers are currently making hitlists of the people with the most and meanest bugs. Such a bug is not good for me. I might just have gotten some really negative comments from my boss.

Of course one can laugh about it but on the other hand something like this can make me look bad to the uninitiated and in the light of the launch of the big project this is not good at all.

Menu for Two

Zur Feier des Tages gab es gestern ein kleines Menu.

1. Leberpastete mit Baguette und als Aperitif Noilly Prat Rouge
2. Tomatensalat mit Basilikumöl in Knoblauch und Schalotten mariniert
3. Schweinemedaillons an Sauce à l’Estragon und Kartoffelgratin Dauphinois
4. Selection de fromage
5. Verschiedene Beeren in Sabayon

Dazu ein 1990er Savigny les Beaune
Continue reading “Menu for Two”


slanguage – Slang + language.

e.g., What slanguage do you speak?

I think it’s fun to find someone has done a project on the net that you thought of at some time – in this case the pseudodictionary we have tried to make something like that on the weird wizards homepge The Flump Dictionnary of New Words, but we only got to 5 entries ….

Another language link.

This one is very fnordLost in Translation very very much fnord. And never forget to add Chinese!

No Software Patents

The European Patent Office has published a proposal that contains plans to legalise software patents in Europe.

Sign the petition:


Software-Patente: Opposition im Aufwind – Netzwelt – SPIEGEL ONLINE

Heise News-Ticker: Erneut Protestaktionen gegen Softwarepatente

1und1.de – Pressemitteilungen

FFII: Logikpatente in Europa

This topic brings me to something I have recently noticed and which makes me very sad. There is an old saying ‘Geld regiert die Welt’ (Money rules the world). One should think that in modern times in the western world where most political systems are democracies (or forms of ….) this is not true anymore. When I was a bit younger and I still believed what my teachers told me, I believed, that it’s the people that rule through the representatives they elect. I have always seen it as one of my most important rights and duties as citizen of my country to vote and take part in elections be it the university student council or the elections for parliament. I’ve always felt that through voting there would be people who would represent my interests and politics were being made such that every law that was passed would make our country a better place to live in for the people. The idealism in my thoughts was cute, wasn’t it?

Of course everyone gets older and grows up. In this case I would prefer a lot to not have grown up. Lately I have the feeling that just about all politics are influenced through lobbies and those that do not have a strong lobby – the citizens are on the losers side. It just seems to me that a lot of laws are made to please those that are already well-off: huge corporations and the rich. Those that have the resources to keep telling our representatives what is right and what is wrong.

Currently I tend to think that our so-called democracies are just a big fake to keep the people quiet.

(Patents) ADDENDUM:

Humorix has a couple of very funny/sarcastic articles on patents.

Humorix: It’s Not A Bug, It’s A Patented Feature

Humorix: Making Europe Unsafe For Lawyers

Spam Filter Training

This morning I trained the mozilla spam filter. It’s gotten pretty good after it was fed about 2.5k of spam mails. And this is not 2.5k bytes but 2.500 mails. I did not get all of these over the week-end or I would be considering destruction of <something>. I got them from an old account I don’t read anymore: I decided once more to take a look into my old university mail account. They just never delete these accounts, I left university about 350 days ago. I wasn’t surprised at the number of mails. These accounts do get a lot of spam because there have standardized names which are also posted to a publicly available user list and it seems the university has the bandwidth to ignore spam filters etc.. What surprised me a lot more was that there were no legitimate mails on this account (except for 2 newsletters I didn’t miss and one invitation I also got on another account), which means I finally managed to switch my – way back – main email address and get everyone to use a new one.

Now my spam filter will hopefully recognize everything. Besides the mozilla built-in filter the ‘junk mail controls’, I am also using the spam-assassin our site-admins set up for our mail accounts. I don’t get a lot of spam on those accounts but spam-assassin catches only half of it.

Scenario Design

Tonight I am going to GM some more of our DSA campaign. I designed my own adventure for this and this will be our third session. I create nearly all my campaigns, scenarios and adventures the same way. I start out with one interesting NPC. Sometimes he or she is a good guy, sometimes it is the ‘evil-overlord’ type. It doesn’t matter where I start. I usually make my NPCs likable, I have rarely made a completely evil NPC, that is just not my style. Neither are the ‘good’ NPCs perfect. Everyone should have some weaknesses. This time I started out with a young and pretty female thief and the young gullibe heir of the local baron. I had some kind of highway robbery in mind since the goal of this campaign is testing the new rules for fighting.

Once I have the first of the characters I starting thinking about supporting cast, family, friends and acquaintances. Sometimes the PCs are part of this ‘aura’ as well which makes it much easier to integrate the scenario with the campaign. That is another reason why I keep a long list of all NPCs I ever used in a campaign and a list of names to be used for random people that appear throughout the evening. Each one has to have a name. Later I can re-use these random characters and give them significance in a later scenario.

The actual scenario then results from the network of relations and weaknesses of the cast I designed in the first step. Then I need a couple of locations which are designed to fit some of the characters. To involve the characters I designed a unique inn and some reason why they would need to go there. The innkeeper is special as well. Her personality is just a stereotype: a kind mother to her patrons with some connections to the local ‘underworld’. I threw in some more relations and some weirdness and then I walked the players to the inn and let go.

The whole trick is to be open about everything. If they have a great idea make something of it. The most important thing to me is to be open about the outcome of each and every action and to go with what the players want and still make them paranoid. It is especially hard to leave the outcome of fights open but this time it is really open what happens.