September 29, 2008

Perhaps They Should Have Tested More - Skynet

What's wrong with advanced artificial intelligence systems these days?

It's no surprise that self-aware systems will always turn on their creators - anyone could see that coming.  But buggy robots?  There's just no excuse.
  • A robot forgets who she is
  • Malfunctions cause her to flip from protecting John to attempting to assassinate him
  • Another software glitch causes gynoid Cameron to go missing
  • A software glitch causes her to wreck her shopping cart into a display of watermelons at the grocery store
Perhaps they should have tested more?

Oh wait, they still can!  Just go back in time and do the testing that they should have done in the first place.

And if you can go back in time, why can't they go back and avoid the bugs altogether?

I guess the future just isn't what it used to be.


September 15, 2008

Join ASQ, Earn More Money?

Like many of you, I get a lot of QA-related email.

An email I received recently from the American Society for Quality (ASQ) titled "Want the potential to earn more money?" says:
"Research shows people who joined associations have experienced increased job satisfaction, earn more money, and are generally happier*. An ASQ membership can help by giving you the tools you need to become successful in your industry and differentiate you from the competition. So why wouldn’t you want to be a part of ASQ?

Have the opportunity to meet, communicate, and collaborate with your peers within the quality community through conferences, local section meetings, ASQ forums or divisions, ASQ Communities of Quality discussion boards, and more.
Take this opportunity to be an integral part of the recognized leader in quality and be happy as an ASQ member. Visit and use priority code XXXXXXX to join today.

*2008, The William E. Smith Institute for Association Research"
The clear implication from the title and the text is - join ASQ and you will earn more money.

But when I searched for this "research", I found that the press release from The William E. Smith Institute for Association Research itself makes it clear that this is not a cause-effect relationship:
"The report reveals that, on average, association members earn higher salaries, like their jobs more and are happier people than those who do not join  associations. Rather than suggesting that association membership itself leads to success, the report concludes that success in one's profession increases the likelihood of joining an association."

Now I'm sure this is just a bit of sales puffery, right?

After all, a group that bills itself as "the world's leading membership organization devoted to quality" and which requires its members to be "honest and impartial in serving the public, their employers, customers, and clients" wouldn't intentionally mislead people, would they?

I'm sure there are good reasons to join ASQ.  But I'm not sure that this research provides any compelling reason to do so.

(If I read research which indicates that owners of Rolls Royces earn 50% more than the average, should I go out and buy one in hopes of increasing my salary?  Or, perhaps I should just hang around and collaborate with people who already own one?)

September 6, 2008

Let's All Play Crash That Browser - Google Chrome

Note: Typing nothing more than :% into the Chrome address bar will crash the entire browser.

Tom:   It's time once again to play America's favorite game show - Crash That Browser!

Tom:   With us today we have a new contestant - Google Chrome.  Is it ok if I just call you Chrome?  Alrighty then.  Tell us a bit about yourself, Chrome.

Chrome:   Why thanks, Tom.  Yes, I'm the new browser on the block.  And I combine minimal design with sophisticated technology to make the web faster, safer, and easier.

Tom:   Well isn't that interesting.  So Chrome, are you actually in production now?

Chrome:   Well, of course I'm still in (BETA), but I am part of the Google family, and my cousin Gmail is still in Beta too (wink, wink, nudge, nudge, know what I mean).

Tom:   Why are you winking at me?  Stop that!  Oh, I get it!  Anyway, so tell us something interesting about yourself.

Chrome:   Tom, one of my features is Crash Control.  Each tab is a separate process.  That way every tab you're using is run independently in the browser, so if one app crashes it won't take anything else down.

Tom:   Good for you!  Good for you!

Chrome:   And of course, we're Google, so our slogan is "Don't be evil (BETA)."

Tom:   Great, great.  So let's get to the game.  Chrome, how many keystrokes will it take to crash you?

Chrome:   Ha!  Tom, I don't think you can crash me in 32K keystrokes.  After all, I'm a fresh take on the browser, started from scratch and built on the best elements out there.

Tom:   Wow, that's quite a bold prediction.  How about if we start just a bit smaller?  How about two keystrokes?

Chrome:   Well, you can try, but as I said, my technology allows me to prevent one tab from crashing another.  Give it your best shot, Tommy boy.

Tom:   Ok, here goes...


Chrome:   Whoa!  Er, uhm, (cough) I think Google Chrome has crashed. Is the camera rolling (gasp)?  Can I just Restart now, Tom?  Please (gurgle)?

Tom:   Sorry, Chrome - that's all we have time for.  Bye, bye folks!  Thanks for playing along.  Join us again next week at this time and we'll all play Crash That Browser!


September 17, 2008 - an update:

So the good news is that as of build, this bug is fixed.
The bad news is - other side-effects.

Try this:
  1. Clear Chrome's browser history
  2. Type :% in the address field
  3. In the dropdown list that appears below the address field, select the ":%" entry, and press Enter.
On my system at least, I get a dialog box indicating that Chrome must "launch an external application" to handle this link. That's odd.  The dialog seems rather ominous.  Am I under attack?  Should I notify Homeland Security, or just hide under my chair?

And it is missing the name of the application which will be launched. Hmm... An application with no name!  Didn't America sing that song?  In the desert, you can remember your name...  

And clicking the Launch Application button doesn't actually do anything. Well, it seemed promising.  At least it didn't do anything evil... or did it?

Oh, Snap! Welcome to Google Chrome (BETA)

Care to play Crash That Browser?  If you know how to crash a browser (any browser), send me a note and I'll post it.