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Humans vs Computers

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Humans vs Computers is a book about people caught between wrong assumptions and computer bugs. You'll read about humans who are invisible to computers, how a default password once caused a zombie apocalypse and why airlines sometimes give away free tickets. This is also a book on how to prevent, avoid and reduce the impact of such problems. Our lives are increasingly track Humans vs Computers is a book about people caught between wrong assumptions and computer bugs. You'll read about humans who are invisible to computers, how a default password once caused a zombie apocalypse and why airlines sometimes give away free tickets. This is also a book on how to prevent, avoid and reduce the impact of such problems. Our lives are increasingly tracked, monitored and categorised by software, driving a flood of information into the vast sea of big data. In this brave new world, humans can't cope with information overload. Governments and companies alike rely on computers to automatically detect fraud, predict behaviour and enforce laws. Inflexible automatons, barely smarter than a fridge, now make life-changing decisions. Clever marketing tricks us into believing that phones, TV sets and even cars are somehow smart. Yet all those computer systems were created by people - people who are well-meaning but fallible and biased, clever but forgetful, and who have grand plans but are pressed for time. Digitising a piece of work doesn't mean there will be no mistakes, but instead guarantees that when mistakes happen, they'll run at a massive scale. The next time you bang your head against a digital wall, the stories in this book will help you understand better what's going on and show you where to look for problems. If nothing else, when it seems as if you're under a black-magic spell, these stories will at least allow you to see the lighter side of the binary chaos. For people involved in software delivery, this book will help you find more empathy for people suffering from our mistakes, and discover heuristics to use during analysis, development or testing to make your software less error prone. <


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Humans vs Computers is a book about people caught between wrong assumptions and computer bugs. You'll read about humans who are invisible to computers, how a default password once caused a zombie apocalypse and why airlines sometimes give away free tickets. This is also a book on how to prevent, avoid and reduce the impact of such problems. Our lives are increasingly track Humans vs Computers is a book about people caught between wrong assumptions and computer bugs. You'll read about humans who are invisible to computers, how a default password once caused a zombie apocalypse and why airlines sometimes give away free tickets. This is also a book on how to prevent, avoid and reduce the impact of such problems. Our lives are increasingly tracked, monitored and categorised by software, driving a flood of information into the vast sea of big data. In this brave new world, humans can't cope with information overload. Governments and companies alike rely on computers to automatically detect fraud, predict behaviour and enforce laws. Inflexible automatons, barely smarter than a fridge, now make life-changing decisions. Clever marketing tricks us into believing that phones, TV sets and even cars are somehow smart. Yet all those computer systems were created by people - people who are well-meaning but fallible and biased, clever but forgetful, and who have grand plans but are pressed for time. Digitising a piece of work doesn't mean there will be no mistakes, but instead guarantees that when mistakes happen, they'll run at a massive scale. The next time you bang your head against a digital wall, the stories in this book will help you understand better what's going on and show you where to look for problems. If nothing else, when it seems as if you're under a black-magic spell, these stories will at least allow you to see the lighter side of the binary chaos. For people involved in software delivery, this book will help you find more empathy for people suffering from our mistakes, and discover heuristics to use during analysis, development or testing to make your software less error prone. <

30 review for Humans vs Computers

  1. 4 out of 5

    Sebastian Gebski

    First of all, this books reminds me one of my fav software conf talks - it was DevDay 2014 (I think) & the speaker was Jon Skeet. The topic was mainly about the conceptual gaps between the real world & deceptively simple models we use to implement it in our applications. Basically, this book is like Jon's talk on hyper-steroids: several times longer, several times more comprehensive & just as enjoyable. So, just to be precise - if you've read previous Gojko's books, this one is nothing like them First of all, this books reminds me one of my fav software conf talks - it was DevDay 2014 (I think) & the speaker was Jon Skeet. The topic was mainly about the conceptual gaps between the real world & deceptively simple models we use to implement it in our applications. Basically, this book is like Jon's talk on hyper-steroids: several times longer, several times more comprehensive & just as enjoyable. So, just to be precise - if you've read previous Gojko's books, this one is nothing like them -> different convention, different topic. Which is good, at least IMHO. What you can expect when starting to read? Very well investigated & documented history of ... fuck-ups :) Not just random ones, but ones that were caused by oversimplifications, insufficient research, surprising border cases, etc. Hats off to Gojko for gathering such great material. What would be the benefit of reading this book? Clearly it's not only about entertainment, but there's no simple, single lesson to be taught. In my case - it's very well aligned with my thoughts regarding where software engineering (as an industry) is heading: writing code gets easier & easier, threshold to create something gets lower & lower, but the consequences of breaking things get more & more serious. Author doesn't answer what we can do, doesn't propose anything that could deal with the issue (for now & in future), but even increasing the overall awareness seems like a great justification for a book like that. VERY recommended, good stuff.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Mark Seemann

    This book contains a collection of stories about software defects (AKA bugs). While I'm a programmer myself, they seem to be written with a broader audience in mind. I don't think that you have to understand technical intricacies in order to be able to follow the stories. While I was reading, I was wondering whether my (doctor) wife would be able to understand the book. Perhaps, but I'd guess it's just so technically detailed that she'd tune out on it. On the other hand, I'd think that anyone who This book contains a collection of stories about software defects (AKA bugs). While I'm a programmer myself, they seem to be written with a broader audience in mind. I don't think that you have to understand technical intricacies in order to be able to follow the stories. While I was reading, I was wondering whether my (doctor) wife would be able to understand the book. Perhaps, but I'd guess it's just so technically detailed that she'd tune out on it. On the other hand, I'd think that anyone who works professionally with software development should be able to understand and learn from it. Developers, managers, testers, designers, operators, etc. The stories are light reads, but their messages still carry weight. Lots of things can go wrong when software executes in situations it wasn't designed for, and they're not only stories of lazy or incompetent developers. There are some stories where I think I wouldn't have been able to predict the defect either. For programmers, the book is a good reminder that the assumptions we make could easily turn out to be wrong, and that that can have real consequences for real people. From an aesthetic viewpoint, I find the typesetting and the illustrations slightly distracting. Chapter titles and illustrations are comics-like, and while I don't mind comics (I have quite a collection!), it makes the book look like toilet litterature, and I think that's a shame; it deserves to be taken more seriously than that.

  3. 5 out of 5

    William Thibodeau

    Loved this book. A lot of examples about real world problems with computers and it shows how everything can go wrong with computers software. 4/5 ****.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Robert Pankowecki

    Fantastic collection of a wast amount of possible programming fuckups. A must read for every developer. Find out how small and funny but also huge and catastrophic bugs cause people to loose time, money or even die.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Alex Fürstenau

    It was very entertaining. A good book for reading during family vacation. It contains several stories about the interaction between humans and computer (systems). A lot of wisdom can be gained about whether something should be automated or how it should be automated.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Nemanja Cedomirovic

    Odlicne price koje na sjajan nacin pokazuju sta se desava kada racunari odbiju da "slusaju", ili kako ljudske greske i nedovoljno istestiran softver moze da napravi ogromne probleme koje kostaju milione i milijarde. Odlicne price koje na sjajan nacin pokazuju sta se desava kada racunari odbiju da "slusaju", ili kako ljudske greske i nedovoljno istestiran softver moze da napravi ogromne probleme koje kostaju milione i milijarde.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Szymon Kulec

    The longest 200 pages that I read in a while. Books is constructed in a very repetitive way, presenting stories and chopping them into paragraphs. It looks almost like it was glued from different pieces. I admit that I truly admire the author as an IT professional. In this book I found nothing from him. It's a generic book about humans' mistakes related to computers. No human touch included. Topics covered in this book: null, address, dates and a few others. All the things that usually make IT's The longest 200 pages that I read in a while. Books is constructed in a very repetitive way, presenting stories and chopping them into paragraphs. It looks almost like it was glued from different pieces. I admit that I truly admire the author as an IT professional. In this book I found nothing from him. It's a generic book about humans' mistakes related to computers. No human touch included. Topics covered in this book: null, address, dates and a few others. All the things that usually make IT's heads hurt. On the positive note, the amount of gathered data is quite impressive. You can tell it by reviewing all the sources at the end of the book. This is the only reason why I didn't give it 1/5.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Johnny

    A must read for every software developer. Automation helps to get things done faster, not better. Gojko explains all the different ways how automation can go wrong and what consequences this may have. Trivial things like names offer endless opportunities for big failures, the same is for error conditions, test data and many other parts we never think about. Before you automate your next task, read this book and stop yourself from becoming part of the next edition.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Piotr Stapp

    Interesting book, but not as good as I expected. A lot of rather sad stories from computer software history, about how IT made stupid mistakes, which affected people live. A lot of them are funny, and I'm sure I will use them in "beer" conversations Interesting book, but not as good as I expected. A lot of rather sad stories from computer software history, about how IT made stupid mistakes, which affected people live. A lot of them are funny, and I'm sure I will use them in "beer" conversations

  10. 4 out of 5

    Peter Eysermans

    Was doubting between a 2 and a 3 star rating. Although the stories are entertaining and the book is well written, I have the feeling this could've just been a blog post. The stories become monotonous and more of the same after a while. Was doubting between a 2 and a 3 star rating. Although the stories are entertaining and the book is well written, I have the feeling this could've just been a blog post. The stories become monotonous and more of the same after a while.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Dennis

    Readable and enjoyable short stories on how software behaves in unexpected and unwanted ways. Moreover, Gojko suggests how these bug, flaws and glitches may be avoided. Great holiday read for developers, testers, product owners/managers, project managers, business analysts and auditors.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Isidro López

    Very shocking, funny and interesting real stories about the dangers of "not correctly" tested or monitored software systems :-) Besides the tones of examples, I found very valuable advices to avoid them (e.g. names, dates, unicode, cultural and ethnic differences, etc). Very shocking, funny and interesting real stories about the dangers of "not correctly" tested or monitored software systems :-) Besides the tones of examples, I found very valuable advices to avoid them (e.g. names, dates, unicode, cultural and ethnic differences, etc).

  13. 4 out of 5

    Pedro Santos

    Lots of examples on how some minor software errors generated huge problems. Great book for QAs.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Erik M

    Fun anecdotes of computer bugs caused by humans having catastrophic effects.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Nilesh Ps

    Written for everybody with no dull moments !

  16. 4 out of 5

    Paul Horvath

    If you are working in software development it's a must read. If you are working in software development it's a must read.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Rosie

    I loved it, but I did find it funny that a book on this topic would have so many editing errors.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jose Antonio

    Great stories. Very easy to read and an amazing set of references for cases where software created real world problems.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Åsa Svensson

    This is a good collection of anecdotes, but that is not enough to make a good book.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Artur Skowroński

    Trivia book, but very well written and funny trivia book. It is easy to read, while not having huge depth. The last chapter is a quite nice book form of pages like https://github.com/mtdvio/every-progr.... This chapter "upped" my rating from 3 to 4 stars. Trivia book, but very well written and funny trivia book. It is easy to read, while not having huge depth. The last chapter is a quite nice book form of pages like https://github.com/mtdvio/every-progr.... This chapter "upped" my rating from 3 to 4 stars.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Matthijs

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ivan

  23. 5 out of 5

    Steve Lydford

  24. 5 out of 5

    Alexandre Klaser

  25. 5 out of 5

    Marcel Zumstein

  26. 5 out of 5

    Gabriele

  27. 4 out of 5

    Mitchell Mohorovich

  28. 4 out of 5

    Kuba Piszczek

  29. 5 out of 5

    yasha

  30. 5 out of 5

    Julien Sobczak

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