Read those design specs carefully!

Subject: Read those design specs carefully!
From: "Goldstein, Dan" <DGoldstein -at- DeusTech -dot- com>
To: "TECHWR-L (E-mail)" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Fri, 6 Feb 2004 15:23:00 -0500

From AP:

"NASA's Spirit rover was declared cured Friday after repair of a problem
with its computer's flash memory system that stalled the wheeled robot for
two weeks and threatened its mission... The computer software detected the
consumption of the memory as 'a very severe error' and behaved properly in
trying to solve the problem by resetting itself, but instead that triggered
a cascade of resets. Each time the system came back up it would detect the
same severe error and reset."

Note to tech writers:

Next time you see a design spec that calls for a system to solve a problem
by resetting itself, ask the designers, "What happens if resetting doesn't
work? Does the thing just keep resetting itself ad infinitum?" If they still
don't get it, draw them a flowchart and point out the infinite loop.

-- Dan Goldstein

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