Foolproof

A common mistake that people make when trying to design something completely foolproof is to underestimate the ingenuity of complete fools.

Chapter 12, Mostly Harmless, HHGTTG

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3 thoughts on “Foolproof

  1. mwclarkson says:

    Programming today is a race between software engineers striving to build bigger and better idiot-proof programs, and the Universe trying to produce bigger and better idiots. So far, the Universe is winning.

  2. Stephen says:

    Early on, i wrote code that meticulously caught every possible error. Then i learned that no matter how good you are, you make mistakes. So you test. But since error conditions are often difficult to test, some errors would slip through – in the error handling. In one piece of code (in C), the code masked off the low 3 bits of an integer, and used a switch for all eight cases. But C has a “default” clause. Now, there’s no way the value could be outside the range 0-7. And for some reason, i added a default. What to do? It’s an error. The program was long running, and after a few months, an error was in the log. Apparently, computers make mistakes. All i’ve tested. I’ve not yet gotten a chance to run such code on a fault tolerant computer. I suspect that there’s no fool-proof hardware.

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