Santa Run for the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice

On Sunday 14th December, I will be taking part in the annual Santa Fun Run in aid of the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice.

As all who know me will confirm, I am not built for running…

But sometimes, one must escape from the comfort zone, and do something silly…

How to Support

JustGiving - Sponsor me now! Please help me raise money for the Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice, by clicking on the JustGiving logo.

You can also donate by TXTing ADBX74 to 70070.

The Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice

The Phyllis Tuckwell Hospice is the only adult Hospice across the whole of West Surrey and part of North East Hampshire, supporting and caring for terminally ill people and their families, both at the Hospice and in the community.

For more information, please visit their website.


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ISO/IEC/IEEE 29119-5 Keyword Driven Testing

Following on from the successful publication of ISO/IEC/IEEE 29119 Parts 1, 2 and 3 and the progress on Part 4, the attention of attention ISO/IEC JTC1/SC7/WG26 has now turned to Part 5 – Keyword Driven Testing.

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ISO/IEC/IEEE 29119 Faces Objections

As a member of the UK Mirror Panel to WG26, which is responsible for the ISO 29119 standard, I am disappointed to read of the objection to the standard led by the International Society for Software Testing, which has resulted in a formal petition to ISO.

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Is Software just a Black Art?


In the August 2014 edition of the IET's E&T Magazine, Tim Fellows wrote an article titled How to avoid getting sucked into the black hole of software development (link).  The article seems to blame the bulk of software related problems on the contracts, but I think Mr Fellows misses the point completely.

I'd like to challenge some of the points made…

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A trip down memory lane

Between Easter 1978 and the summer of 1979, we lived at RAF Locking in Somerset.  Since we left, following my father's posting, I have never been back.

Yesterday (20th May) I attended the Reliable Software Developer's conference in Bristol, and (as reported on my Amateur Radio page) used the spare time between sessions to activate a few local Worked All Britain squares. A quick glance at the map had shown that a drive-by was possible…

RAF LockingLocking - The Water Tower

RAF Locking closed in 1999, following the relocation of No.1 Radio School to RAF Cosford.  The site was sold by the MoD in 2002.

Approaching the camp, the water tower was still prominent, and as a glanced at the tower, the car immediately in front of me turned directly into the married quarters at Mendip Road – this threw me slightly, as when we lived there, this entrance was gated and permanently closed. Of course, nowadays, the married quarters are in private hands, so there is no need for the gate to be closed… so I followed…

It was like entering a time-warp… even after 35 years, everything was exactly as I remembered it…

Flowerdown Road

Following Mendip Road, passing the Water Tower, I turned into Broadway, then into Flowerdown Road.

Flowerdown Road - FrontFlowerdown Road - SideJust to repeat what I said above: it was like entering a time-warp… even after 35 years, everything was exactly as I remembered it… although the garage clearly had a new roof, even the garage door was still the same blue that I remember!

I stopped briefly to take some photos, without wanting to draw too much attention to myself.

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Could MISRA-C have prevented the Apple iPhone SSL Bug?

The mainstream media has been reporting a vulnerability in the SSL, in Apple's iPhone

What Was The Problem?

According to a diff of the source code, an extra gotowas inserted in the nest of conditions.

if ((err = SSLHashSHA1.update(&hashCtx, &signedParams)) != 0)
    goto fail;
    goto fail;  // This one added by mistake

By a quirk of the C language, only the single statement (or compound statement) after an if is executed when the condition is met – so the second goto (line 62) becomes unconditional.

At first glance, this could be put down to "one of those things" – but errors such as this are easily preventable.

Compound Statements

Most coding guidelines, (for example, MISRA C produced by the MISRA Consortium) require [Rule 15.6 MISRA C:2012] that the body of … a selection statement shall be a compound statement.

So in the Apple example, this would have become:

if ((err = SSLHashSHA1.update(&hashCtx, &signedParams)) != 0)
    goto fail;
    goto fail;

Which would not have been a problem!

Use of Goto

The second aspect that requires scrutiny is the use of multiple goto statements – quite simply, the code snippet at the heart of this bug could very easily be restructured to an if … else if … else if … else ladder, therefore removing the need of the goto statements.

Although the subject can be divisive, Rule 15.1 of MISRA C:2012 recommends that the goto statement should not be used. Note that MISRA C:2012 has relaxed the required status of previous editions, and now additionally provides guidance on how to use goto statements, if you do choose to use them…

Static Analysis

ALthough it is said that the bug was not discovered in testing, it was entirely preventable, by adopting the simple process of running static analysis. Most compilers provide some static analysis support, and I am very surprised that Apple does not require static analysis to be performed on all of its code.

Perhaps it will now…

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BSI relaunches UK C Panel

After a number of years without an "official" UK mirror panel, the British Standards Institute has launched a new panel IST/5/-/24 to act as the UK's contribution to ISO/IEC JTC1/SC22/WG14 – the C language standards body.

The previous UK panel IST/5/-/14 was disbanded in 2008.

The new panel, chaired by Joseph Myers, will provide input to WG14 during future work to improve ISO/IEC 9899 – the C standard.  I have joined in a two-hatted way: firstly purely in a personal capacity; but also as a representative of the MISRA C Working Group.

I look forward to being able to contribute usefully…


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Andrew becomes “Osprey”

For the last year, my eldest daughter, Emily, has been a member of the 7th Farnborough Beaver Colony… and I've been an occasional helper on an informal basis.

However, with the imminent departure of the current Beaver Scout Leader (aka Nightingale) and her Assistant (her son, aka Hawk) to pastures new, this is about to change!

osprey_perched_uprightWhile the Group Scout Leader (aka Kingfisher) will be taking over as the Beaver Scout Leader, I have agreed to become a Beaver Scout Sectional Assistant.

Within the Colony, all leaders take the name of birds; I have chosen the name of my favourite bird…

So now (at least from a Beaver Scouting perspective) I have become Osprey!

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Andrew starts to Graze

According to the Garfield school, I'm not so much over-weight as under-tall… but given that I'm now unlikely to grow, it is the weight I need to manage.

This isn't helped by my eating habits – skipping breakfast (and often lunch) and then pigging out at (a late) dinner – which I have resolved to improve.

To add into the mix, I've recently been diagnosed as wheat-gluten intolerent, which (as well as explaining a lot) eliminates many of the obvious snacks.

Enter Graze

GrazeBoxFor a few months now, every time I've bought something in WH Smiths, I've received a voucher for a free sample box from Graze… and having looked at the website, I was tempted. But for one reason or another, I'd never proceeded… until now.

The idea behind Graze is the delivery of healthy snacks… everything is managed via their website, which allows you to designate each snack as one of four categories:

  • Bin – never receive it
  • Try – give it a go
  • Like – send occasionally
  • Love – send regularly

There is also a Send Soon tick-box to request an item.

The first box is free, and £3.89 per box thereafter – so less than £1.00 per snack. 

The Graze Range

Currently there are over 140 products to choose from… to avoid any pre-conceived ideas, I only flagged those containing wheat gluten to be binned (so I don't get any) but pretty much left everything else to chance…

Review to follow…


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National Blood Week 2013

On Friday, I did something that I hadn't done for nearly three years – In recognition of National Blood Week I gave blood.


Having completed 52 donations, in a largely uninterrupted run over 23 years, I had not given blood since August 2010, after which the new appointments based system (supposedly introduced for donor's convenience…) meant I couldn't just turn up when I was able to.

But I thought I'd give it another go. So shortly after 2:30pm I arrived at a quiet St Peter's Church-hall… "Do you have an appointment?" The next free appointment was 3:10 – OK, I'll wait…

Ten past three arrived.  Because it had been over two years since my last donation, I had an extended questionaire (fair enough)… but because I ticked the "wrong" box on three questions (for reasons that had been declared at the previous 52 donations) I had to see the nurse (no longer a doctor)… there was only one nurse, and she was busy.

At 3:45 she became free.  And approved my answers with a quick swish of the pen.

One thing had changed over the past three years… the old rickerty beds have been replaced with reclining chairs!

Twenty minutes later I was done… a few minutes rest, a drink and a packet of crisps, and at just before half-past-four I was free to go.

Hopefully, see you in three months…

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