Software testing day

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Today's xkcd:

Mouseover title: "The company tried to document how often employees were celebrating Software Testing Day, but their recordkeeping system kept mysteriously crashing."

Caroline Davies, "‘They thought I was a child’: US airline repeatedly registers 101-year-old as baby", The Guardian 4/28/2024:

A 101-year-old woman has been frequently mistaken for an infant because an airline’s booking system was unable to compute her date of birth.

The woman, named only as Patricia, was born in 1922, but the American Airlines system apparently does not recognise that year, defaulting instead to 2022, the BBC reported.

We should keep in mind that recent hires were infants — or not yet conceived — at the time of the infamous Y2K panic.

And of course there's also the looming Year 2038 Problem with (some implementations of) Unix time




  1. bks said,

    May 4, 2024 @ 7:34 am

    It is well known that computer programmers confuse Hallowe'en and Christmas because 31 Oct == 25 Dec

  2. Gregory Kusnick said,

    May 4, 2024 @ 9:50 am

    I had a colleague who celebrated DEC 10 Day on December 10th (in honor of Digital Equipment Corp's workhorse mainframe, the PDP-10).

  3. chris said,

    May 4, 2024 @ 10:44 am

    Is "assuming the scheduling system doesn't crash" really that fun of a plan? (Since it's xkcd I feel confident the syntactic ambiguity was intentional.)

    A holiday celebrated once every 65,535 years seems like it really should call for a bigger plan. (Since this is Language Log and not Computer Science Log I should probably explain this one: attempting to store or calculate the value -1 in an integer variable that was not set up to allow negative numbers can result in a bug known as "wraparound" or "underflow" which results in the highest possible positive value that can be stored in that size integer instead.)

  4. ernie in berkeley said,

    May 4, 2024 @ 12:33 pm

    Yes, QA engineers often use "edge cases" to make sure the software doesn't break. I found this joke and modified it a little.

    A QA Engineer walks into a bar and orders a beer.
    Then he orders 0 beers.
    Then he orders -1 beers.
    Then he orders 65,536 beers.
    Then he orders a lizard.
    Then he orders a lizard'; drop table bars; —

    And the bar vanishes.

    The last one refers to "SQL injection", taken from this other XKCD cartoon:

  5. Magnus said,

    May 5, 2024 @ 12:33 pm

    Another version of that joke, which illustrates potential shortcomings in testing:

    A QA engineer walks into a bar, and orders a beer.
    Then he orders 0 beers.
    Then he orders -1 beers.
    Then he orders one trillion beers.
    Then he orders asdfghjkl beers.
    Having completed the testing protocol, he goes home.

    The first actual customer walks into the bar, and asks where the bathroom is. The bar immediately explodes, killing everyone inside.

  6. Brian said,

    May 5, 2024 @ 12:35 pm

    Don't forget the followup joke:

    After six months the QA Engineer greenlights the (re-built) bar and closes their test plan. Ten minutes later a regular user walks into the bar and asks to use the batthoom, and the bar catches on fire.

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