May 28, 2013

It's Casual Summer In My Office

Usually we must be bottom-left folks, except on Fridays
Now we can be top-middle for the whole summer
If I pay even more can I be the top-left?

It's the beginning of Casual Summer in my office again. copyrightjoestrazzere

Usually we have Smart Casual as our dress code.
And we had Casual Fridays.
Then we had Dress Down for Charity Weeks.
Now we have "Casual Summer". 

If we cough up 30 bucks for local charities, H.R. allows us to wear sneakers and jeans for the summer. (Unless someone "important" makes an appearance in the office, in which case we'll need to revert to Smart temporarily. Hopefully, someone will tell us what "important" means, or at least tell us in advance that such a person will be arriving. For me, they are hard to spot - maybe I'm not Smart enough.)

I've mentioned before how silly I think it is to make non-customer-facing software professionals adhere to a dress code.

The fact that we can get away with an entire summer of Casual (except for "important visitor days"), makes the normal dress code appear even more silly.

This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at

May 20, 2013

I'm Not Joking!

Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!

I've started reading "Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!" by Richard P. Feynman on my Kindle.

It's a series of autobiographical anecdotes by one of the last century's greatest scientific minds. So far, very interesting.

Since I was a teenager, when I read as many of Isaac Asimov's non-fiction science essays as I could find, I've always enjoyed reading about the history of science. Reading Feynman feels very much like that.

This is a book you'll occasionally find on Amazon's Kindle Daily Deals. Grab a copy for yourself. 

Quotes I enjoyed from the book:
The question of trying to figure out whether a book is good or bad by looking at it carefully or by taking the reports of a lot of people who looked at it carelessly is like this famous old problem: Nobody was permitted to see the Emporer of China, and the question was, What is the length of the Emporer of China's nose? 
To find out, you go all over the country asking people what they think the length of the Emporer of China's nose is, and you average it. And that would be very "accurate" because you averaged so many people. But it's no way to find anything out; when you have a very wide range of people who contribute without looking carefully at it, you don't improve your knowledge of the situation by averaging.
Sometime later I heard the energy-makes-it-go book was going to be recommended by the curriculum commission to the Board of Education, so I made one last effort. 
At each meeting of the commission the public was allowed to make comments, so I got up and said why I thought the book was bad. The man who replaced me on the commission said, "That book was approved by sixty-five engineers at the Such-and-such Aircraft Company!" 
I didn't doubt that the company had some pretty good engineers, but to take sixty-five engineers is to take a wide range of ability - and to necessarily include some pretty poor guys! It was once again the problem of averaging the length of the emperor's nose, or the ratings on a book with nothing between the covers. It would have been far better to have the company decide who their better engineers were, and to have them look at the book. I couldn't claim that I was smarter than sixty-five other guys, but the average of sixty-five other guys, certainly! I couldn't get through to him, and the book was approved by the board.

Happy reading!

This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at

May 7, 2013

Free Podcasts I Like

I like podcasts, and these are the podcasts I like

Often when I'm relaxing on the beach, or taking a walk alone, or doing yard work, I use my iPod.  I have found that, while I enjoy some music, I tend to enjoy talk and good discussion even more.  So I have loaded my iPod with podcasts, and refresh them regularly.

Here are some podcast sources that I particularly like:

APM: Marketplace Tech Report
By American Public Media
Marketplace Tech with David Brancaccio is a daily radio segment and Podcast produced by Marketplace from American Public Media exploring the world of technology and the Internet.

Freakonomics Radio
By Stephen J. Dubner
In their books "Freakonomics" and "SuperFreakonomics," Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner explore "the hidden side of everything," with stories about cheating schoolteachers, self-dealing real-estate agents, and crack-selling mama’s boys. The Freakonomics Radio podcast, hosted by Dubner, carries on that tradition with weekly episodes. Prepare to be enlightened, engaged, perhaps enraged, and definitely surprised.

FRONTLINE: Audiocast | PBS
You asked; we listened. FRONTLINE presents audio versions of select full-length episodes for listening on the go. Want more full-length FRONTLINE Audiocasts? Please leave a review and let us know what you think. (For behind-the-scenes interviews with FRONTLINE producers, please see the FRONTLINE Extras podcast with host Arun Rath.)

New England Patriots: PFW In Progress
By New England Patriots
Take a break with PFW's Fred Kirsch, Paul Perillo, Andy Hart and Erik Scalavino as they bring you behind the pages of Patriots Football Weekly. Get the latest scoop from Gillette Stadium and answers to your Patriots questions. For more information about New England Patriots official podcasts, visit

NPR: Planet Money Podcast
Money makes the world go around, faster and faster every day. On NPR's Planet Money, you'll meet high rollers, brainy economists and regular folks -- all trying to make sense of our rapidly changing global economy.

Science Friday Audio Podcast
By Science Friday
Science Friday, as heard on NPR, is a weekly discussion of the latest news in science, technology, health, and the environment hosted by Ira Flatow. Ira interviews scientists, authors, and policymakers, and listeners can call in and ask questions as well. Watch the latest science videos from the Science Friday website.

Science Talk
By Scientific American
Science Talk is a weekly science audio show covering the latest in the world of science and technology. Join Steve Mirsky each week as he explores cutting-edge breakthroughs and controversial issues with leading scientists and journalists. He is also an articles editor and columnist at Scientific American magazine and his column, "Antigravity", is one of science writing's rate venues for humor. Check our the new daily podcast from Scientific American: "60-Second Science." To view all of our archived podcasts please go to

Any podcasts that you particularly enjoy?

This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at

May 2, 2013

Perhaps They Should Have Tested More - Chicago Board Options Exchange

Perhaps the Chicago Board Options Exchange should have tested more

The Chicago Board Options Exchange (CBOE) experienced a shutdown lasting 3.5 hours last Thursday, April 25th, with residual effects lasting through Friday morning. copyrightjoestrazzere
  • The outage came as CBOE celebrated its 40th anniversary last Friday.
  • The interruption left some auction processes unavailable to traders until Friday morning.
  • A software glitch shut it down for three hours, wrecking trades and shaking confidence.
  • Glitch was related to the planned reconfiguration of the exchange’s systems.
  • Root of Thursday's problem is seen as being changes made to the software underpinning its systems that handle "complex" orders.
  • Outage paralyzed the biggest U.S. venue for options trading.
  • The shutdown left customers unable to manage positions in some of the options industry's most heavily traded contracts, which are available only at CBOE. 
  • Traders could not deal in CBOE’s S&P 500 Index options contract, the most active US index option, as well as its popular Vix index.
  • The market's shutdown for more than three hours created chaos for customers wanting to trade the exchange's proprietary contracts, such as options on the Standard & Poor's 500-stock index and the VIX, and left them without key hedging tools..
  • Consequences could have been much worse had the failure occurred on a busier, or more volatile, day.
  • CBOE Holdings Inc. technology staff knew of software issues in the hours before the largest U.S. options exchange suffered a three-hour outage.
  • “We have determined that the catalyst was preliminary staging work related to the planned reconfiguration of our systems in preparation for extended trading hours on CBOE Futures Exchange and eventually CBOE options,” the company said in a letter to traders. “It was this staging work, and not a systems upgrade or new systems load, that exposed and triggered a design flaw in the existing messaging infrastructure configuration.”
  • The solution has to be more investments on creaky IT infrastructure.
  • CBOE and its peers won't get away with that "it-doesn't-happen-much-around-here" explanation for very long.

Perhaps there was no way to avoid this problem (although some reports indicate that CBOE's technical staff knew of problems in advance of Thursday outage.)

Perhaps, as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Bill Brodsky wrote in a follow-up letter to traders "Unfortunately, the nature of a software bug is sometimes only identifiable once the system is operationally ready."

But, perhaps CBOE should have tested more.

CBOE Says Software Bug Resolved

CBOE Letter to traders explaining what happened

CBOE Preaches to Vegas Choir as ‘Glitch’ Crashes Exchange

CBOE Staff Knew of Problems in Advance

CBOE details software bug that shut down options trading

CBOE's Systems Preparation for After Hours Caused Outage

How a "Harlem Shake" shook Wall Street

Time for a Reboot For Tech on Street

And yet another CBOE outage just one week later!
Thursday's isolated delay "was triggered by a product maintenance function being performed for a symbol change to one of the classes in the cluster," CBOE CEO William Brodsky and CEO-designate Ed Tilly said in a memo to clients.
"The software maintenance function was recently updated in preparation for the extended trading hours initiative."

CBOE has 2nd outage in a week,0,2170747.story

CBOE defers start of extended trading day after recent outages,0,7588326.story

This article originally appeared in my blog: All Things Quality
My name is Joe Strazzere and I'm currently a Director of Quality Assurance.
I like to lead, to test, and occasionally to write about leading and testing.
Find me at