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Missing Real-World Assertions in Computer-Land

Comments(2)Filed under: Functional Verification, ABV, formal, uvm, assertions, assertion-based verification, outlookI was reviewing the page view statistics on the Cadence Functional verification blog and noticed that my previous three posts about missing real-world assertions are among the most read. So, in the spirit of milking the cash cow, I've collected a few more incidents that amused me with their utter illogic. My examples this time all have to do with some aspect of computer programs or Web sites being out of sync with the times in which we live.

As a member of several airline frequent-flier programs, I receive lots of email about travel-related sites and offers. I recently received an invitation to something called the "SkyGuide Executive Privilege Club" from American Express. It caught my attention because it promised reimbursement for one-time stays in airline lounges. Most frequent travelers are members of one airline club but there are times when its lounge is not convenient. Non-member "day passes" tend to be quite expensive, so the prospect of someone paying for those sounded good.

I went to their site and perused the details of the offer. Most of the benefits were the usual sort of vague "services" and discounts that are hard to value. But digging down a bit I found "SkyGuide Executive Privilege Club members who purchase one-day guest passes at any health club or airline-run airport lounge will receive a reimbursement for their visit." That still sounded good, until I read "Mail us your receipt via certified mail within 30 days of use." Certified mail? Seriously? What century are we in?

My second example is one that I see frequently in the Microsoft Outlook client I used to read my email at Cadence. When I sort an email folder by message size, it groups them into the following rather amusing categories:

  • Size: Enormous (> 5 MB)
  • Size: Huge (1 - 5 MB)
  • Size: Very Large (500 KB - 1 MB)
  • Size: Large (100 - 500 KB)
  • Size: Medium (25 - 100 KB)
  • Size: Small (10 - 25 KB)
  • Size: Tiny (< 10 KB)

I'm sure you can see where I'm going with this. When was the last time you considered a 100 KB file "large?" I have lots of Microsoft PowerPoint files with only three or four slides that consume more than 500 KB. The average MP3 audio file is several megabytes, so by Outlook's definition most of us have thousands or tens of thousands of "huge" files on our systems. I'm using Office 2007, but these categories were just as outdated in 2007 as they are now. I'm not sure I see any reason to include adjectives at all, but I chuckle every time I sort mail by size.

This reminds me of the common observation that many of the icons used in computer programs are anachronisms: desktop telephones, old-fashioned broadcast microphones, 3.5" floppy discs for "save" and so on. It is ironic that computer software-as modern an invention as any-so often hangs on to outdated terminology and iconography. But this is not an original observation so it doesn't count as one of my examples. Type "outdated icons phone floppy" into your favorite search engine for lots of entertaining commentary on this topic.

My final example is Web sites that don't date-stamp much of their content. In the early days of the Web could look at the HTML properties to see when a page was last modified, but these days just about all Web content is dynamically built so that doesn't work. I ran into this just recently when I was helping my Accellera colleagues collect links to refresh the UVM World site. I was searching the Web for recent UVM articles, papers, presentations, etc. I was amazed at how many publications and blogs didn't have a clear dateline.

Here is just one of numerous examples I found. If you happened upon this article via a Web search as I did or if someone sent you the URL, you would have no idea when this article was written. That's important to know since technology changes very quickly and the date may help you decide whether to read or skip a particular page. By looking around elsewhere on the sites I was eventually able to find original publication dates for all of the links of interest but it took significant extra effort. If this sort of thing bugs you, too, please comment!

Tom A.

The truth is out there...sometimes it's in a blog.



By AB777 on September 27, 2011

This is an interesting thread that is why you have maximum reads and comments . True experiences in the "paperless word of computers"  and how sometimes they bother you!

I recently had an experience then I was booking ticket for a Theme park online. When I searched Google I got to see some offers on particular credit cards. So I was all set to do a bulk booking since I had that particular card. Only to realize later while filling forms at such an offer was valid in 2010 and "conditions apply" and "FCFS basis" :(


By tomacadence on September 29, 2011
Thanks for the kind words. It is ironic that a medium capable of providing worldwide  instant updates has so much content that is out of date.
Tom A.

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