weird software bugs

Software bugs are inevitable in any custom software development project, and a serious development team will carry out extensive testing and bug-fixing to ensure none of those bugs make their way into the final product. However, occasionally we see examples of how software bugs slip through the net and make it into the final product – with results that are sometimes unfortunate and sometimes outright funny.

The world’s weirdest software bugs

In this blog post, we have compiled some of the weirdest software bugs shared by developers across the world. We can safely say we have never experienced any of these issues here at DCSL Software – but if we do, we promise to share them!

  1. Drinking Coke crashes application
    One developer reports working for a project team delivering a financial compliance application. Shortly after delivery, the helpdesk received a support ticket where an end user described an issue with the web application, saying ‘it crashes every time I drink Coke.’

    The issue was initially dismissed as a joke, and ignored. But when the user persisted, adding that the application worked fine when he drank coffee, a member of the project team decided to look into the issue. It turned out that the online web form had a time-out feature that caused the application to log out when the page was left idle for longer than 15 minutes. As the Coke vending machine was on the 11th floor, it would take the user a good 15 minutes to get there and back. The coffee machine, however, was just a few cubicles away.

  2. Unexpected game spies
    The game Skyrim has a series of NPC (non-player characters) who are controlled by artificial intelligence and can influence the game by – for example – reporting incidents to the city guard if they spot the player committing a crime in the game. Just before release, some of the game designers noticed that they were being caught for crimes in places where they shouldn’t have been spotted.

    They investigated the issue and discovered that they were being reported by chickens. The bug was promptly fixed prior to the game being released.

  3. Please insert disc into phone
    Back in 2013, there were reports that the Windows Phone 8 had managed to present an error message explaining that Windows failed to load, requesting the user to ‘insert a Windows installation disc’.

    Fortunately, this was not a mainstream issue but one triggered by firmware changes – so not something the average user would ever see.

  4. Road to nowhere
    One famously bug-infested application was the built-in Apple Maps featured in iOS 6. Launched in 2012 as a competitor to the previously default Google Maps app, Apple Maps was soon exposed as far from reliable when it came to presenting even some of the most fundamental location data. Users reported some of the following fails:
– Statue of Liberty is missing
– Hong Kong is several miles from Hong Kong Island
– Paddington Station does not exist
– Islands in the Pacific Ocean are duplicated
– No location data whatsoever exists for Japan
– Apple’s own Apple Store in Sydney is on the wrong side of the road
– A Florida supermarket is mislabelled as a hospital – which closed in 2002
  1. The £50 million electricity bill
    When a couple in Lancashire had a new electricity meter installed, the engineer made a wiring mistake which in turn impacted the calculation software used to measure the couple’s electricity usage. Shortly after the installation, the couple were informed that their monthly payment had increased from £87 to £53,480,062.

    Once the couple saw the bill – and recovered from the initial shock – they contacted the power supplier who took full responsibility, apologised, and immediately corrected the user account.

  2. Sending selfies to the wrong person
    One of the strangest smartphone bugs started taking place in the default Android Messaging Application in 2010. Users reported having some of their SMS communications sent to a different person than the one intended. It’s easy to imagine the devastating results of private or sensitive information ending up in front of a random phone contact.

    It took a long time for the issue to be resolved as it occurred very rarely and was difficult to reproduce. However, a fix was finally deployed in 2011.

  3. Back door hacked by a five-year-old
    Families using Xbox One will know that there is an account system that limits access to certain users – for example to prevent children from playing age-restricted games. For one family, however, this parental control system proved to be no match for a five-year-old child to crack open.

    The child managed to get into his Dad’s account through a back door, as he could enter the wrong password first, followed by a number of spaces on his second attempt, which allowed him to play all of his Dad’s games. His Dad documented the back door to Microsoft so that it could be patched, and his son was subsequently listed in Microsoft’s 2014 official list of security researchers.

Be part of the process

Software bugs may be unavoidable, but finding and fixing them is the important part. By working with a renowned developer you shouldn’t have to worry about seeing any major bugs in a software release as the application will have been thoroughly tested, but as a user you will still play a key part in reporting any anomalies so that they can be fixed.