I've told this story from time to time in my public lectures and I've decided to retire this tale, but before I do, I'll preserve it for reference in my blog.
My wife and I designed and built a home a few years ago, and being an alpha geek I just had to fill it with all sorts of automated elements. I hired a contractor to pull the wires (he put about 5 miles of Cat 5 wires in the walls) but as CTO/CIO of the home, I installed the rest of the network. Shortly after I booted the house for the first time, we invited some friends over for dinner. They arrived at the appointed time, rang the doorbell - but we never heard it. They knocked on the door - and we didn't hear that either - so they finally called us on their cell phone, while standing at the front door.
My doorbell had crashed.
Now, doorbells have very simple use cases: you push the button, it rings a tone inside the home. However, my implementation of said doorbell was a bit more complex, and I failed my user base by having the bones of the underlying technology stick through. You see, the doorbell sends a signal to our PBX system, which I hacked to extract events (such as the doorbell being pressed). That event gets routed to an application server - running a non-Macintosh, non-Linux operating system, I might add - which has a deamon that intercepts various events (such as from the PBX, the security system, and so on) and in this case would send an event to the A/V subsystem, where a seasonally-appropriate and pleasant tone would sound through the home. Alas, I failed to use Rational's own tools (Purify in this case) and I had a memory leak in my application server. The solution was to reboot that server, which brought the doorbell back to life.
I have a very demanding customer (my wife) who really doesn't like to have my software lying around on the floor, and so she was at first annoyed and then amused at the incident. The good news is that I've ripped out the first implementation (I'm not saddled by legacy software here) and my doorbell now works as any good little doorbell should, with all the complexity hidden below the surface.
Yet another example of why the primary task of the software development team is to engineer the illusion of simplicity.
For Whom the Bell Tolls
gbooch 120000P81R 2 Comments 917 Visits