The Servers Are Burning

by Dale Markowitz

An engineer pushes a small change and OkCupid goes up in flames.

A fire truck extinguishes a fire at Tyndall Air Force Base in Florida.

One of the first things I learned after learning how to write software was how to write tests for that software. First you wrote code to perform a certain task—say, find the square root of a number. Then you wrote more code to test whether the first piece of code did what you wanted. Does the function return the correct value? Is two the square root of four?

I thought this type of testing was ridiculous. If you wrote buggy software, why would the software you wrote to check that software be any less buggy? That happened to me a lot: I’d spend twenty minutes trying to figure out why my tests said my programs were broken only to realize that the tests themselves were


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