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Debugging by David J. Agans

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chapter

4

Make It Fail

“There is nothing like first-hand evidence.”

—SHERLOCK HOLMES, A STUDY IN SCARLET

War Story. In 1975, I was alone in the lab late one night (it’s always late at night, isn’t it?) trying to solve a problem on a TV pong game, one of the first home TV games, which was being developed at the MIT Innovation Center with funding from a local entrepreneur. We had a practice-wall feature, and the bug I was trying to solve happened occasionally when the ball bounced off the practice wall. I set up my oscilloscope (the thing that makes squiggles on a little round screen in old sci-fi movies) and watched for the bug, but I found it very difficult to watch the scope properly—if I set the ball speed too slow, it bounced off the ...

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