November 29, 2017



Top 5 Software Failures & Causes

software failure

Have you ever heard about software testing? Well if you don’t know about it now is the time to. Despite seeing much technological advancement in 2015, this year saw many software failures as well. Below is a list of the top five software failures and their causes. The list is in no specific order. now we will discuss in detailed what is a software failure.

1. Software bug flattens NYSE trader

NYSE trader Plunged into $US440 MILLION loss

An algorithmic trading software bug is being blamed for a day of wild swings at the New York Stock Exchange – and has resulted in the trader placing the dodgy orders reporting a $US440 million pre-tax loss.

What’s been called a “mini flash crash” by Forbes saw 150 NYSE-traded stocks, from General Electric down to minnows, subject to wild swings before things were brought under control. Knight Capital, the firm fingered for the glitch, responded by telling its customers to use other traders – and has since reported the loss as a result of the Wednesday, August 1 software problem.

With a huge chunk of its value wiped out by the glitch, Forbes now says the cost of the bug is roughly equivalent to Knight Capital’s entire market capitalization.

Reuters states that the only comment to come from the company is a terse statement that “a technology issue occurred in Knight’s market-making unit same to the routing of shares of approximately 150 stocks to the NYSE”.

Cause of Problem software failure

The Reuters report suggests that timing may have been the problem: the orders may have been intended to be filled during the trading day, but instead were filed in the opening minutes of trading.

The latest trading disaster follows the 2010 “Flash Crash”, in which a single bad order triggered a thankfully-temporary trillion-dollar market crash; and the embarrassing crashes that plagued the Facebook IPO, preventing the stock from plunging anywhere as quickly as it probably should have on listing.

2. Microsoft Zune’s New Year Crash

The software company’s answer to Apple Inc.’s (AAPL) iPod — unexpectedly conked out Wednesday and showed users an error message, prompting references to “Y2K for Zunes.” The problems appeared when people tried to start up their devices.

Frustrated users lit up Microsoft’s online support forum for Zunes with more than 2,500 messages by Wednesday afternoon.

Late Wednesday, the Redmond, Wash-based company said the outage affected only the 30-gigabyte Zune models and was caused by a problem with their internal clock. Microsoft expected the problem to clear up as the clocks ticked over to Jan. 1, though users will have to jump through some hoops to get their Zunes back to normal, including letting the batteries die down completely before the devices will restart successfully.

The crash of so many Zunes at once drew comparisons to the Y2K programming problem that stoked fears about a widespread computer meltdown in 2000 when the machines ticked over to the new millennium.

Zunes have paltry popularity compared the iPod, which owns nearly three-quarters of the MP3 market, compared with Zune’s single-digit market share, according to statistics from the NPD Group. But some users are fiercely loyal, and newer Zunes have gotten positive reviews.

Cause of Problem

The Zune’s real-time clock stores the time in terms of days and seconds since January 1st, 1980. When the Zune’s clock is accessed, the driver turns the number of days into years/months/days and the number of seconds into hours/minutes/seconds. Likewise, when the clock is set, the driver does the opposite.

The Zune frontend first accesses the clock toward the end of the boot sequence. Doing this triggers the code that reads the clock and converts it to a date and time. Below is the part of this code that determines the year component of the date:

year = ORIGINYEAR; /* = 1980 */

while (days > 365)


if (IsLeapYear(year))


if (days > 366)


days -= 366;

year += 1;





days -= 365;

year += 1;



Under normal circumstances, this works just fine. The function keeps subtracting either 365 or 366 until it gets down to less than a year’s worth of days, which it then turns into the month and day of month. Thing is, in the case of the last day of a leap year, it keeps going until it hits 366. Thanks to the if (days > 366), it stops subtracting anything if the loop happens to be on a leap year. But 366 is too large to break out of the main loop, meaning that the Zune keeps looping forever and doesn’t do anything else.

3. Amsterdam airport plunged into chaos due to air-traffic control system

More than 50 flights to and from Amsterdam’s airport have been cancelled, and hundreds more delayed, because of an air-traffic control systems failure.

At around 8am, local time, Eurocontrol warned of a “critical systems issue” affecting Amsterdam Schiphol airport, and told pilots to “expect delays/diversions”.

The fault apparently occurred with radar correlation software, which compares and assesses information from primary and secondary radar.

Schiphol is one of Europe’s five busiest airports, normally handling around 160,000 passengers per day.

The traditional remedy of switching the equipment off and on again has not worked. Eurocontrol said: “Successive system re-starts have failed to rectify the problem which will insure you in future from software failure.”

Seven hours after the fault was detected, Eurocontrol reported “system remains unstable”.

Cause of Problem

This timing issue was an oversight, Harris, the manufacturer, was aware of the problem but didn’t really know how it would impact the system. It was insane for the FAA to continue to operate a system with a known problem. And by doing that,  they expose themselves to this software failure.

4. Intel Pentium Stinks at Long Division, and Customer Service

In November 1994, the New York Times reported on a rather embarrassing issue with Intel Pentium chips that had affected a variety of PCs. A number of chips were flawed in a way that prevented them from accurately handling long division — unnoticeable to the common PC owner but a big deal for scientists and engineers, who required precise calculations in the handling of their work. Intel refused to recall the chips, stating that it wouldn’t affect that many people. For those who needed the precision, they were forced to “prove” why it mattered to them. There is nothing better than giving your customers a flawed product and then putting the burden of proof on them before deciding to make reparations. That’s customer service par excellence.

Cause of Problem

The Pentium error occurs in a portion of the chip known as the floating point unit, which is used for extremely precise computations. In rare cases, the error shows up in the result of a division operation.

Intel said the error occurred because of an omission in the translation of a formula into computer hardware. It was corrected by adding several dozen transistors to the chip.


5. Amazon sellers hit by nightmare before Christmas as glitch cuts prices to 1p

There was Christmas shopping bargains galore on Amazon’s website over the weekend for about an hour. Because of a technical glitch, the prices of thousands of items crashed to 1p – giving eagle-eyed customers a pre-Christmas treat while leaving scores of small family-owned businesses nursing heavy losses; with some warning they could enter the New Year facing closure.

Cause of Problem

From 7-8pm on Friday, software used by third-party sellers to ensure their products are the cheapest on the market went haywire and reduced prices to as little as 1p. “Amazon is all kinds of broken,” one observer tweeted. “Mattress 1p. Headphones 1p. Batteries, clothing, games all 1p. Someone messed up big time in shape of software failure.”

Martin Le Corre, who sells toys and games via his MB Housewares store on Amazon, told the Guardian that the glitch in software developed by RepricerExpress could have cost him more than £100,000.

So these are the causes of software failure.

Content Written by: Anbreen Inayat

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