inessential by Brent Simmons

The opposite of Murphy’s Law

In software development, what’s worse than Murphy’s Law is its opposite: that whatever can go wrong, will not go wrong.

Today I’m working on an intermittent crash a few people have reported when marking all as read in a group. I have been completely unable to reproduce it, even using the subscription list of one of the people who reported the crash.

In other words, the thing that should go wrong—the crash—just positively refuses to go wrong.

Well, this wouldn’t be the first time. I’ve fixed many crashing bugs that I was never able to reproduce. But it’s so much easier when I can reproduce the crash.

If NetNewsWire were a car, I could drive it into a brick wall and it would be fine, it wouldn’t even get scratched. In fact, it would go through the wall and just keep going without slowing down. But that’s only if it’s me driving it, it isn’t the same for everyone else.

It’s a reverse Murphy’s law: whatever can go wrong, will not go wrong, will refuse to go wrong—for the developer of the app.

Which is why I live on your crash logs.

The thing to do, when you get a crash log—whether you’re using Lite or the full version, whether you’ve bought NetNewsWire or not—is either post it to the online bug tracker or send it via email to beta at ranchero dot com. Same thing goes for MarsEdit too, of course.

Along with the crash log, some description of what was going on would be nice—for instance, knowing what layout you’re using can be helpful. But crash logs are valuable in any case.