A Ping Pong Defect

While sitting in a restaurant, I saw that the closed captioning on the sports program was frequently emitting a string of random characters in the speech:

Forensically speaking, we could assume that this bug occurs in one of the following places:

  • The software transliterating the text to speech. That is, when the software encounters a certain condition, it puts a cartoon curse word into the data.
  • The network transmitting the information. That is, the transmission of the data introduces garbage.
  • The device displaying the transmitted information. That is, the television or satellite box that introduces the captions into the picture inserts the junk every two lines or so.

Okay, I’ll grant you the fourth option: That the broadcasters were actually cursing that much. However, given that the FCC has not announced fines daily, I’m willing to say that it’s nonzero, but unlikely.

The beauty of a defect that could occur almost anywhere, between disparate parts of the product and across different teams and technologies, means that it could ultimately be nobody’s fault. Well, if you ask one of the teams, it’s one of the other team’s fault.

You know, a little something squirrelly happens, you log a defect, and the server, interface, and design teams spend megabytes reassigning the defect to each other and disclaiming responsibility. It drives me nuts.

So what do you do? You find a product owner or someone who’ll take charge of it and pursue it across fiefdoms or who’ll put the screws to the varied factions until it gets fixed.

Because everybody’s got something they’d rather be working on than somebody else’s problem. Even if it’s everybody’s problem.

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