In the classic 1983 John Carpenter horror movie “Christine,” the radio on the possessed 1958 Plymouth Fury can only play old rock and roll stations. Owners of 2016 Mazdas in Washington State now have the same experience. They don’t even get rock’n’roll but are instead forced to endure NPR.
Their cars are not possessed by evil spirits but suffer from a software bug. It turns out that the local NPR station sent out “now playing” album images without a .jpg extension. That was enough to send the radio and navigation unit into an endless loop, making it impossible to use navigation or Bluetooth – or change the station. Embarrassed, Mazda is offering a free replacement of the $1,500 connectivity master unit.
This incident illustrates the dangers of casual testing. A professional tester would have sent the unit all kinds of corrupted or misnamed files, files with zero length, and very large files. That would have uncovered the bug. Do you have testing professionals on your teams? If you let developers test their own software, you’ll end up where Mazda is – or worse.