May 30, 2017

Perhaps They Should Have Tested More - The Schiaparelli Mars Lander

Schiaparelli Lander

Bugs have consequences! 

The wrong bugs can crash your Mars lander, cost you a lot of money and cost you a lot of confidence in your planned Mars missions, as the European Space Agency found out.

Back in October 2016, the ESA attempted to land the Schiaparelli lander on the surface of Mars. But software bugs caused the craft to crash and to produce a rather impressive crater.

Here lies Schiaparelli

Recently, an independent investigation has concluded that insufficient parachute modeling, inadequate handling of alerts, and an “insufficient approach to Failure Detection, Isolation and Recovery and design robustness" were to blame for the failure. #copyrightjoestrazzere

Essentially, the software thought the spacecraft was closer to the ground than it actually was, and released the parachute and shell early. When the control system shut down, the craft was still 3.7 km in the air - oops! This resulted in a 34 second free-fall, subsequent crash at a speed of 540 km/h, and the destruction of Schiaparelli.

In spite of the failure in the planned soft landing, the Europoean Space Agency declared the mission "a success". Maybe they were just really excited about the brand new Martian crater they discovered?

Perhaps the European Space Agency should have tested more.

See Also:

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

May 9, 2017

Songs about Testing, QA

I was looking for some music related to Testing or QA to use in a presentation.  The pickings are slim, but I found these.

Works on My Box
- Art Leonard
Art Leonard is a Seattle-based Christian, radio and novelty songwriter / performer. His software engineering anthem, "Works on My Box", made a big splash at a major software development company and is now played to new employees at orientation.

Feature Creep
- Geordie Keitt

I performed this a month or so ago at CAST2009 in Colorado Springs, where Becky Fiedler recorded it. The intro to this song went, “This song is written from the perspective of a piece of bloatware that used to be sleek and clean.” I did this during a Lightning Talks session, meaning I had to bring it in under 4 minutes. That’s why there’s little time for dramatic pauses…

Black Box

Cem Kaner and James Bach presented a course on Black Box Software Testing that I took circa 2003. I performed this song, Black Box, to wrap up the training.

Rapid Tester
- Geordie Keitt
I this wrote on the occasion of attending my first RST class at James Bach’s Satisfice world headquarters in Front Royal, VA. I’ve edited it slightly since then as my understanding of the material has grown, but the essence remains the same. It borrows pretty much everything from Steve Earle’s beautiful song “Someday”.

Not on The Test
- Tom Chapin and John Forster
Ok, so this one isn't really about QA or software testing.  It still made me laugh and has a few poignant lessons about metrics and relying solely on a script, rather than on rational thinking:  ".. Don't think about thinking, it's not on the test!"

- Ron Brown
Another one that isn't really about software.  But it's a cute song, and how can you not like a song that starts off "B-b-b-bugs, bugs, bugs"?

Piece of Crap
- Neil Young
While it's not really about software, this song fits well. I was particularly looking for a music video that James Whittaker and some of his students performed a while back. I tried all the searches I could think of, but no luck. Fortunately, my friend Martin sent me the above web archive link.
Know of any others I could add to this list?

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