jm + errors   15

Communications data errors: UK police incriminating the wrong people due to data retention system screwups
It seems there have been 34 with serious consequences since 2008. Causes include:
- Omission of an underscore when transcribing an e-mail address led to the wrong subscriber information being provided and a search warrant being executed at the premises of an individual unconnected with the investigation.

- A CSP's data warehouse system change affected how GMT and British Summer Time were treated. This was not communicated to staff using the data retention disclosure system. This led to a one hour error in subscriber information disclosed in relation to IP address usage. Of 98 potential disclosure errors identified, 94 were in fact incorrect and four returned the same results when re-run. Of the 94 incorrect disclosures, in three cases a search warrant was executed at premises relating to individuals unconnected with the investigation (and one individual was arrested).

- Due to a technical fault causing a time zone conversion to be out by seven hours, a CSP voluntarily disclosed an incorrect IP address to a public authority.  That led to a search warrant being executed at premises relating to individuals unconnected with the investigation.


In other words, timezones largely screw up everything, yet again.
timezones  uk  law  data-retention  errors  bst 
10 weeks ago by jm
Simple testing can prevent most critical failures
Specifically, the following 3 classes of errors were implicated in 92% of the major production outages in this study and could have been caught with simple code review:
Error handlers that ignore errors (or just contain a log statement); error handlers with “TODO” or “FIXME” in the comment; and error handlers that catch an abstract exception type (e.g. Exception or Throwable in Java) and then take drastic action such as aborting the system.


(Interestingly, the latter was a particular favourite approach of some misplaced "fail fast"/"crash-only software design" dogma in Amazon. I wasn't a fan)
fail-fast  crash-only-software  coding  design  bugs  code-review  review  outages  papers  logging  errors  exceptions 
october 2016 by jm
Snooping powers saw 13 people wrongly held on child sex charges in the UK
Sorry, Daily Mail article --
Blunders in the use of controversial snooping powers meant 13 people were wrongly arrested last year on suspicion of being paedophiles. Another four individuals had their homes searched by detectives following errors in attempts to access communications data, a watchdog revealed yesterday.

Other mistakes also included people unconnected to an investigation being visited by police and delayed welfare checks on vulnerable people including children whose lives were at risk, said the Interception of Communications Commissioner. [....] A large proportion of the errors involved an internet address which was wrongly linked to an individual.

Of the 23 serious mistakes, 14 were human errors and the other nine ‘technical system errors’.
surveillance  ip-addresses  privacy  uk  daily-mail  snooping  interception  errors 
september 2016 by jm
The Three Go Landmines
'There are three easy to make mistakes in go. I present them here in the way they are often found in the wild, not in the way that is easiest to understand. All three of these mistakes have been made in Kubernetes code, getting past code review at least once each that I know of.'
k8s  go  golang  errors  coding  bugs 
march 2016 by jm
Argon2 code audits - part one - Infer
A pretty viable way to run Facebook's Infer dataflow static analysis tool (which is otherwise quite a bear to run).
infer  facebook  java  clang  errors  static-analysis  lint  dataflow  docker 
february 2016 by jm
_What We Know About Spreadsheet Errors_ [paper]
As we will see below, there has long been ample evidence that errors in spreadsheets are pandemic. Spreadsheets, even after careful development, contain errors in one percent or more of all formula cells. In large spreadsheets with thousands of formulas, there will be dozens of undetected errors. Even significant errors may go undetected because formal testing in spreadsheet development is rare and because even serious errors may not be apparent.
business  coding  maths  excel  spreadsheets  errors  formulas  error-rate 
october 2015 by jm
Three Questions to Answer When Reporting an Error
Very long, but tl;dr:
the trick to creating an effective error message is to answer the 3 Questions within your message: What is the error? What was the probable cause of the error? What is the probable remedy?
errors  ui  ux  reporting  logging  coding 
may 2015 by jm
vim-flake8
vim-flake8 is a Vim plugin that runs the currently open file through Flake8, a static syntax and style checker for Python source code. It supersedes both vim-pyflakes and vim-pep8. Flake8 is a wrapper around PyFlakes (static syntax checker), PEP8 (style checker) and Ned's MacCabe script (complexity checker).


Recommended by several pythonistas of my acquaintance!
vim  python  syntax  error-checking  errors  flake8  editors  ides  coding 
april 2014 by jm
Poka-yoke (ポカヨケ)
'a Japanese term that means "mistake-proofing". A poka-yoke is any mechanism in a lean manufacturing process that helps an equipment operator avoid (yokeru) mistakes (poka). Its purpose is to eliminate product defects by preventing, correcting, or drawing attention to human errors as they occur.'
human-error  errors  mistakes  poka-yoke  failures  prevention  bugproofing  manufacturing  japan 
march 2014 by jm
error-prone - Catch common Java mistakes as compile-time errors
It's common for even the best programmers to make simple mistakes. And commonly, a refactoring which seems safe can leave behind code which will never do what's intended. We're used to getting help from the compiler, but it doesn't do much beyond static type checking. Using error-prone to augment the compiler's static analysis, you can catch more mistakes before they cost you time, or end up as bugs in production. We use error-prone in Google's Java build system to eliminate classes of serious bugs from entering our code, and we've open-sourced it, so you can too!
analysis  java  static-analysis  code  errors  bugs 
november 2013 by jm
You probably shouldn’t use a spreadsheet for important work
Daniel Lemire comments on the recent cases of bugs in spreadsheets causing major impact:
There are several critical problems with a tool like Excel that need to be widely known:

* Spreadsheets do not support testing. For anything that matters, you should validate and test your code automatically and systematically;

* Spreadsheets make code reviews impractical. To visually inspect the code, you need to click and each and every cell. In practice, this means that you cannot reasonably ask someone to read over your formulas to make sure that there is no mistake;

* Spreadsheets encourage redundancies. Spreadsheets encourage copy-and-paste. Though copying and pasting is sometimes the right tool, it also creates redundancies. These redundancies make it very difficult to update a spreadsheet: are you absolutely sure that you have changed the formula throughout?


Agreed on all three, particularly on the impossibility of testing. IMO, everyone who may be in a job where automation via spreadsheet is likely, needs training in SDE fundamentals: unit testing, the important of open source and open data for reproducibility, version control, and code review. We are all computer scientists now.
spreadsheets  excel  coding  errors  bugs  testability  unit-testing  testing  quality  sde  sde-fundamentals  dry 
april 2013 by jm
Austerity policies founded on Excel typo
You've probably heard that countries with a high debt:GDP ratio suffer from slow economic growth. The specific number 90 percent has been invoked frequently. That's all thanks to a study conducted by Carmen Reinhardt and Kenneth Rogoff for their book This Time It's Different. But the results have been difficult for other researchers to replicate. Now three scholars at the University of Massachusetts have done so in "Does High Public Debt Consistently Stifle Economic Growth? A Critique of Reinhart and Rogoff" and they find that the Reinhart/Rogoff result is based on opportunistic exclusion of Commonwealth data in the late-1940s, a debatable premise about how to weight the data, and most of all a sloppy Excel coding error.

Read Mike Konczal for the whole rundown, but I'll just focus on the spreadsheet part. At one point they set cell L51 equal to AVERAGE(L30:L44) when the correct procuedure was AVERAGE(L30:L49). By typing wrong, they accidentally left Denmark, Canada, Belgium, Austria, and Australia out of the average. When you run the math correctly "the average real GDP growth rate for countries carrying a public debt-to-GDP ratio of over 90 percent is actually 2.2 percent, not -0.1 percent."
austerity  politics  excel  coding  errors  bugs  spreadsheets  economics  economy 
april 2013 by jm
Ah Here (To Coin A Phrase)
'A €10 silver coin being offered for sale to the public in honour of James Joyce by the Central Bank tomorrow contains a misquote from the author. The line used on the coin from Chapter 3 of Ulysses includes a superfluous conjunction – a rogue ‘that’.' [..] The coin reads:

“Ineluctable modality of the visible: at least that if no more, thought through my eyes. Signatures of all things *that* I am here to read.”


(Incorrect 'that' emphasised)
james-joyce  typos  funny  fail  central-bank  ireland  coins  minting  errors  ulysses 
april 2013 by jm

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