The Reproducibility Challenge

One of the biggest challenges in diagnosing technology problems is reproducibility. If a screen breaks then it is easy to see and fix. However if you have an intermittent software problem then it can be hard to show the engineers its occurrence when you complain. The same thing happened to me yesterday with my oven. It has been overshooting its temperature after a while but the technician could not reproduce the issue. I am still stuck with a broken oven.

The trick to exposing intermittent problems is to have a device that instruments the environment and records the problem when it occurs. In the case of a computer you dump logs. In the case of an oven you can have a thermometer that records its temperature as the oven is set to a single setting. Once you have something that sees the problem and the environment under which it occurs, you can then start to dissect what is unique about the environment to debug your problem.

An Oral History of Goldeneye on N64

A fun article from Mel Magazine:

GoldenEye 007 was originally planned to be a 2D, single-player side-scrolling game, much like Donkey Kong, another game that British developers Rare were producing at the time for the SNES. However, lead developer Martin Hollis suggested it be a 3D first-person shooter for the Nintendo 64, a system and technology that didn’t even fully exist yet. He got his way, and assembled a ragtag team of new-to-gaming developers to begin working on what was expected to be “just another film license” game — games that typically rode the movie’s fame, but didn’t prove to be smash hits, critically or commercially.

I remember playing Goldeneye on my brother’s Nintendo 64 when I was younger. We did not own it but it was a favorite rental.

The Magic of iPad and iPhone Tethering

I recently came to discover that my iPad can tether to my iPhone Internet connection. This means that while I am on the red line to work I can use my iPad on the Internet to be productive. Suddenly work that I have been needing to do at home can be accomplished while I am in transit. I found a new block of useful time.

The trick to getting iPad and iPhone tethering to work well is to first have a mobile plan that supports it. The second is to go into your iPad settings where you will see your iPhone. You can click your iPhone and it will connect. Less than a minute later you should be online. The only downside to this is it will go through your iPhone battery quickly.

Processing my email and todo list are chores that keep things organized in my world. While not everyone puts in the time and effort to do this, it makes a big difference for me. So I usually spend time on the train doing that. It also gives me an opportunity to write or read. Now I can spend my time at my apartment doing more important or fun things.

The Blog Gremlin

The other day I wrote a post about going to the dentist and it apparently was reverted from its finished state before I mindlessly committed the post to GitHub. As a result everyone was left with a bit of a cliffhanger, which I have now removed. Unfortunately the result is a post that barely had a story or useful thought.

Rather than trying to re-complete the blog post I am leaving it there as a shrine to the idea that when you go up to bat so often you’re sometimes going to hit a few foul balls. I have some exciting future posts in the hopper about my work at Code for Boston that should hopefully make up for it.

The Dentist

When I was younger one of the things I hated the most was going to the dentist. My feelings towards this have not changed but the experience gets worse as I get older. In the past two years I have had the misfortune of getting multiple crowns. It is one of those procedures that sounds routine but when you experience it, it is always worse than you expected.

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This work by Matt Zagaja is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.