Archive for the ‘Software Testing Nightmares’ Category
The Cost of Software Failure
Our Software Testing Hall of Shame hosts a gallery of software glitches all serving to illustrate the importance of testing software. The latest addition comes from the London Stock Exchange where, billions of pounds worth of share trades were lost after the London Stock Exchange’s main trading system ground to a halt shortly after the market opened last month.
Dealers were left twiddling their thumbs and angry after the LSE officially called a halt to all trading on its electronic order-driven system.
The London Stock Exchange (LSE) has been the focus of much unwanted attention over the past few months, following problems with its new trading platform, MillenniumIT, that caused irregularities appearing on traders’ screens and trading downtime.
Could these problems have been avoided with more thorough QA procedures? Our guess is yes. This is a great example of how business risk is heightened when systems are launched too quickly, not allowing enough time for testing. But then again, the 15-month system replacement has had a catalogue of problems from the start.
What do you think? What can be done in the future to prevent this sort of thing happening again?
HMRC Software Glitch Makes Returns Taxing
Yesterday, January 31st, was the last chance for self-assessors to submit their tax return online at the website for Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs (HMRC). Even though the HMRC said only on Friday that their computer system was working well and they did not foresee the problems experienced in recent years, our majesty’s government failed to test thoroughly again!!
Apparently, accountants were having problems after it appeared that the company that supplies software which allows accountancy firms and advisors to access the HMRC website had shut its links early. Returns that should have taken no more than 10 minutes to file, were taking up to an hour. HMRC confirmed that some advisors using third party software were experiencing what they called a ‘slowdown’.
CCH Personal Tax was the software concerned and although its parent company, Wolters Kluwer, said they had not been notified of any issues with the software, problems certainly existed.
Now we can’t be sure what the problems really were, but this story is yet another example of poor or incomplete testing. Such high profile software glitches only go to justify Original Software’s mantra that “application quality must become a business imperative” – especially if government reputations are to remain unscathed.
HM Revenues and Customs have done it again! You would think that they would have learnt from past mistakes and have a plaque hanging on their wall that says, “failure to plan is planning to fail.”
Not only is their internal administration process still flawed, but now their shiny new Pay As You Earn (PAYE) computer system is thought to be the problem behind 1 million workers facing a surprise £1,500 tax bill.
A new IT project, which had not been properly tested, has meant that 1.4 million tax payers have underpaid. Almost 6 million tax payers will be told over the next few months that they have paid the wrong amount of income tax.
The new computer system, designed to automate a manual process, brought a promise of organisation. The automation of matching up the information on individual records with the end of year HMRC checks, on the amount of deducted tax and national insurance contributions by employees using the PAYE system, did not work as expected.
The project is a good idea, reduce time, resource and cost of the manual effort, but automation can not be achieved if the computer system has not been properly tested.
Most nightmares in this hall of shame have been detrimental in many ways, but it is never funny when it effects the lives of ordinary people. During a time when money is tight, this quality nightmare will hit the unlucky casualties hard.
Flight company’s booking system, not only riddled with software glitches, but they are so un-customer friendly that in order for ME to do THEM a favour and let them know why their web sales are so poor – alerting them to the software glitch, I either have to pay £s per minute to call their website helpdesk or post a blog about their immense screw-up (thereby shame-facing them at the same time) There is simply no other option available on their website for getting in touch with their webmasters – Come on guys a simple email address wouldn’t hurt, would it?
Sorry, deep breath, this has just got me so riled!
So, knowing that I was planning a short break in Spain later in the year, a friend kindly forwarded me a promotional mail he had received from Aer Lingus, about a sale on flights to Malaga.
Well, I’m in Marketing, so I was never going to be fooled that it would actually only cost £29.99 (not when you take into count that I wanted to fly at the weekend, I actually wanted a seat and to take a bag etc), but anyway, £102.56 each for me and my husband (plus a handling fee of £20) didn’t seem too awful.
Happy with the flight times – check.
Think an extra £370 pp to be able to take checked bags, have seat selection and airport lounge is a bit extreme, but happy to run with the cheap option – check.
Flights cheaper than taxes – typical – £20 handling fee snuck in there – typical – check.
Well, ready to complete the booking then…
Start filling in my details, scroll down – OMG!!! How come the price has suddenly hiked itself right up to almost £600!!!!!
Ouch, that’s a nasty software glitch. Working at a company that actually manufactures software testing solutions, I can tell you straight off, that this here is an application error – and not just a malicious ploy by the budget airline to part you from more of your hard-earned cash! It seems that Aer Lingus have not been testing their application very well. We’ve seen time and time again that choosing not to invest sufficiently in quality assurance can really come back to bite you on the rear end! With ample time devoted to testing, better test coverage, some validation rules and database effects, this would have been picked up way before it went public. Oh well.
Maybe some customers might not have double-checked the price again, and unknowingly proceeded, only to be ripped off by the good chaps at Aer Lingus, but more likely, customers like me, would have just been put off and decided to check out prices at BA instead! I guess I’ll do a good dead and let them know – perhaps suggest they buy our software while they are at it… An hour later and after crawling their website, I discover, to my annoyance, that unless I want to waste even more of my time and money phoning a premium rate number, there really is no way to contact their technical team! GRRRRRR! Oh well, at least it is good fodder for our ‘Software Testing Hall of Shame’!
In trying to re-create the error before I put this post live, I came across another, completely different bug , where the system now wouldn’t process to that last screen, but looped me back to the start again. Do they do ANY testing on their systems? It’s just riddled with bugs.
Software errors force Boris to back-pedal on hire charges
A cycle hire scheme championed by Boris Johnson is having to refund thousands of pounds of taxpayers’ money after it was hit by glitches.
This week my favourite London Mayor, the enigmatic Boris Johnson, makes it into our Software testing Hall of Shame!
Mr Johnson apparently told LBC radio: “I have no doubt lots of things will go wrong.”
He insisted it would prove a “great success” in the long run but added: “The reality is that the software issues and technical issues of getting the whole thing up and running for tomorrow has been extremely difficult.” “It will be more of a gradual launch than a big bang. I have so many concerns it’s hard to pick one out.”
It seems that the blonde haired buffoon had not allowed enough time for adequate testing of the scheme and ironing out the kinks. By this point they were left with little choice but to go ahead with the launch despite concerns, but as the saying goes: Failure to plan is planning to fail.
Unsurprisingly Monday morning came with numerous reports of mayhem in the capital over the weekend.
The London Evening Standard reported that a quarter of both the promised bikes and their docking stations weren’t ready in time. The Boris bike section of the TfL website froze on Sunday and users yesterday claimed their electronic keys were not working despite activating them online. Problems have emerged with people who purchased multiple electronic keys from the same bank account – the daily or weekly subscription charge is automatically levied on all keys as soon as one is used, even if the others are not in use.
Oh dear, Boris.
The Telegraph humorously reported that ‘Mr Johnson, who describes himself as cycling like a “very elderly French onion seller”, admitted he is expecting “delirious” criticism of the scheme.’
It's not a bug, it's a feature! Apple: 'Hold your iPhone 4 differently'
This week saw the release of most sought after smartphone on the planet, the iPhone 4, but a fatal flaw was quickly discovered – that holding the gadget in a certain way kills reception, which means making phone calls or downloading games is rather difficult.
Here’s a video of the issue, courtesy of TechRadar –
Apple’s statement brushes off the defect as a common issue that is found in most devices.
“Gripping any mobile phone will result in some attenuation of its antenna performance, with certain places being worse than others depending on the placement of the antennas,” it says.
“This is a fact of life for every wireless phone. If you ever experience this on your iPhone 4, avoid gripping it in the lower left corner in a way that covers both sides of the black strip in the metal band, or simply use one of many available cases.”
So, if you’re having problems, hold the phone in a different way or spend more money to fix the issue preventing the device from performing its primary function. That’s that then.
TechWorld reports that ‘One user saw a boost in signal strength after wrapping the phone in a Ziploc bag, call it a super-cheap alternative to Apple’s $29 bumper. Another post on Apple’s forums recommends covering the sides of the phone with InvisiShield tape. But as one official Apple forum-goer noted, “Apple needs to fix this problem, we should not have to rig a fix for a brand new phone.”’
Thorough testing should have uncovered this bug, but how are Apple now going to appease the thousands of customers who not only queued up for up to 32 hours to get the buggy phone in the first place? One speculation is that Apple are going to release a propeller for the iPhone 4 so that it can hover next to your ear while you make a call!
Wipro employee fraud repercussions
A news story last week on Silicon India has caught my attention – Wipro employee commits $4 Million fraud. The Indian IT services outsourcing firm has lost millions of dollars due to one of its employees embezzling money over the last three years. The employee stole a password and transferred funds from Wipro’s bank account.
This will undoubtedly have major implications for the company. Confidence in Indian outsourcing firms is at a low following the recent scandal at Satyam Computer Services. Satyam served as the back office for some of the largest banks, manufacturers, health care and media companies in the world. The fall of Satyam was supposed to have created a big opportunity for Wipro but with the latest news, not only has it lost its chance of monopolizing on this, but a big shadow has been cast over the company’s credibility and trustworthiness.
Commenters on the news story at Silicon India have the measure of the situation.
“Think about the Client INFO…… If wipro not able to protect their own money how will they protect client’s data ? This is truly a shameful situation.” RanjeetMemane 18 Feb, 2010
“This is really Shameful, A reputed company like Wipro cannot be so careless in Financial matters. when they are not able to protect their company information how they can protect other client’s data?” Arun Kumar PB – 18 Feb, 2010
Perhaps the worst thing is the slur that these companies have cast over Indian outsourcing as a whole. It has built up to be a billion dollar business with some genuinely great and reputable service providers out there doing a fantastic job, such as our partner AppLabs. I do hope that they are not all tarred with the same brush.
Faulty Software Caused Car Troubles
Poor Steve Wozniak, it wasn’t very nice for Steve to find that his accelerator pedal went crazy whilst he was driving his new 2010 Toyota Prius!
It seems this issue of software quality, or lack of quality, has finally made it to the vehicles we commute in. Reading stories about big companies being sued or fined over data breeches because of a software bug, does not top being almost killed in your car by a software bug!!
The message here is, get your software properly tested before it really does kill someone!
Tell us what would be the worst software glitch that could happen to you? I’ll start with one…the worst software glitch in my everyday life would probably be if my Sky plus software did not record Star Trek Voyager! Okay, sounds tame, but I really don’t like missing episodes.
How about you??
The pains of poor testing: Loss of customers, blocked airways and public ridicule
Computerworld reported that the Co-operative bank was ‘losing customers’ through system problems.
Co-operative Financial Services has severe system problems that are causing it to lose online customers. Users told the BBC they were unable to access their accounts at times, and that transactions online often do not work.
Marc Palmer, from Gloucestershire, who runs a small business, told the BBC: “A lot of the time you can’t even log in. Other times, you can’t see your bank balances or any of your accounts listed. There comes a time when it’s damaging to your business.”
The bank is now set to upgrade its systems in response to the complaints of customers, who vowed to move to a competitor, BBC Radio 4’s Money Box programme found. John Hughes, director of retail products at the bank, apologised for the “inconvenience, difficulty, frustration and irritation we’ve caused our customers”.
FAA Computer Glitch Delays US Flights
Flights ground to a halt throughout the USA on Thursday morning, reported Stickyminds, after a mysterious computer glitch hampered a key Federal Aviation Administration flight processing system.
The system electronically inputs pilots’ flight plans to computers, telling air traffic controllers the anticipated route and altitude of each flight after taking off. ABC News, who originally broke the story, said Controllers they spoke to had to enter those plans manually, resulting in a slowdown of takeoffs and landings.
Bird Brain Collider
Oh, and because it made me chuckle, I’m including a tweet this week, courtesy of @danfusion – http://twitter.com/danfusion/status/5460071784. Speaking about the latest in a string of failures concerning The Large Hadron Collider, he says ‘Thinking about software testing: How many times has an app broken because of a bird brain with bread?’ If you haven’t read the story, It seems that the billion dollar piece of machinery has yet again gone caput, this time due to a bird dropping a piece of bread on a section of the accelerator!
Software Testing Hall of Shame: Big Blue Red Faced over poorly tested congestion charging debacle
This week IBM step up to the podium in our Software Testing Hall of Shame. Computerworld UKyesterday reported that London’s congestion charging payments system crashed after IBM took over the contract.
London drivers were unable to pay the congestion charge online on Monday, following a system glitch after IBM took over the work from Capita. The problem emerged after IBM began a “significant upgrade” to the transport agency’s computer systems. IBM had spent the weekend – when no congestion charge is applicable – migrating data from Capita’s databases to its own systems, as it took over the work.
It looks as though the IT giant was not very ‘rational’ in its approach and did not fully test the system before go-live on Monday, as Computerworld reported “there were issues with the new systems and some of the data matching between different programs.”
A spokesperson at Transport for London, which operates the congestion charge, apologised for the online problem and insisted no registered drivers would be penalised if they had had problems paying. She added that the glitch was “resolved by the afternoon and all of the new IBM systems are up and running as they should be”.
The IBM system upgrade is aimed at saving TfL £200 million on running costs by 2018, but so far IBM has only cost the company, in terms of lost revenue.