Saturday, July 16, 2005
may be it is rocket science after all
It's 2005 and you still cannot spend weekends on the Asteroid Belt. Every geek I know is seriously depressed by that. Instead, bunch of smart people is spending weekend debugging stupid fuel indicator on Discovery.
That made me think about unit testing. Pretty much eveything does these days. Some time ago I have read Columbia Last Flight. By now everyone knows about that fatal piece of foam that smashed into Columbia's wing during lift off. Apparently for a long time, despite of increasing evidence, some NASA engineers could not accept that. They decided to test the "foam did it" hypothesis. They were actually shooting foam pieces into shuttle panels and monitoring the damage. William Langewiesche in his Atlantic Monthly article describes the critical test: The gun fired, and the foam hit the panel at a 25-degree relative angle at about 500 mph. Immediately afterward an audible gasp went through the crowd. The foam had knocked a hole in the RCC large enough to allow people to put their heads through.
I like to think that this is what happens when you type "ant test-all". A gun is fired, big piece of foam hits sipXconfig code, damage is assesed. There are no gasps, just test report. And if there is a hole, no-one's life depends on it. (Well, there is this e-mail from lazyboy with your morning coffee.)
Now the sick part: it almost makes the lack of Asteroid Belt vacation package bearable.