Best Bugs

I was having a chat with my brother earlier about software bugs, and I started trying to remember about the best bugs I’ve encountered in software I’ve had a hand in. Below are my list of favorite bugs that I found entertaining. I’m kind of curious as to what other people would choose for their favorites.

My favorite bug would have to be Gaim’s flying buddies. When the rewrite of the Gaim buddy list was commited, in 0.60, we had a fun little bug where the drag-and-drops weren’t completed. This triggered a Gtk bug (I think it was Gtk’s bug?) where the nodes in the GtkTreeView would fly around the screen a bit from point A (where the node originally was) to point B (where the node is now). When the buddy list was off-screen, this made it particularly fun. As these were flying around, we quickly named them Flying Buddies.

Between classes one semester, I wrote a Snake game for my TI-89 calculator. It was rather easy to do, but I had an off-by-one error that generated what I called “snake droppings.” When the snake ate one of the blocks on the screen, it would of course extend. As soon as the tail started moving again, it would leave a pixel or two behind, hence the name.

My third favorite bug was during the development of my BilliardZ game for the Sharp Zaurus SL-5×00 PDA. Occasionally when hitting a ball, a big black hole would open up on the board, and the ball would disappear in it. Playing pool with black holes littering the table is a little inconvenient. I’m still not sure what caused it, but I ended up fixing it.

Speaking of bugs, something messed up on gnome-blog. I’ve spent over an hour trying to get it working again. Works now though.

(Update: I somehow lost the top paragraph. I don’t know how, but it’s back. That should provide more context.)

4 thoughts on “Best Bugs”

  1. My favourite bug was when I was very young (12?) before GUI’s were popular. I wrote a library that would render bitmap fonts to the screen for a game I was writing. I then wrote a font editor, and I defined a whole heap of charactors. I remember changing something (I think it was the alignment of the text), then rerunning the program and then I couldn’t see any of the charactors, so I reversed the change, Hmm, still nothing. 3 days later I was still looking for the bug. By this point I had a hex editor out and was decoding the FAT filesystem by hand. I asked my father to help (he’s not a programmer, but is computer literate), he was reasonably certain he wouldn’t be able to help and as I described the problem to him (“I’ve written a font editor and I’ve defined all the uppercase let… Oh”) I realised that when I’d stopped to edit the code I’d turn Off capslock and since I’d only defined the uppercase letters, when I pressed a key it was trying to render the lowercase letters. So, it wasn’t a bug at all, it was just me using my program incorrectly 🙂

    The lesson from this is that there is no bug too dumb 🙂

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