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GM Recalls 370 000 Pickup Trucks for Software Update to Reduce Fire Risk

Plus: United Airlines software update hits flights and more stock exchange troubles

3 min read
GM Recalls 370 000 Pickup Trucks for Software Update to Reduce Fire Risk

IT Hiccups of the Week

There were a wide-variety of errors, faults, and general IT-related ooftas to choose from last week. But GM’s recall of 370 000 of its 2014 model year Chevrolet Silverado and GMC Sierra full-size pickup trucks, in order to update their software and reduce the likelihood that their exhaust systems will overheat and catch fire, caught our eye. According to the Detroit News, “When [a] truck idles, it should use two cylinders…but because of a software glitch, the recalled trucks idle with most of the cylinders. That causes the vehicles to overheat and leads to the fires.” So far, there have been eight reported fires, but no injuries.

All of the affected trucks have V-8 engines, but the recall is also being extended to trucks with V-6 engines. Owners should be on the watch for a continuously yellow “check engine light” and an “engine power reduced” message on the vehicle’s information center, the News reported. GM is also telling truck owners not to leave their trucks to idle unattended, which they may do especially in colder climates while warming them up.

The recall is a bit of an embarrassment for GM, because the Silverado, a highly popular and profitable product for GM, is also one of three finalists for the North American Truck of the Year award that is to be announced later today. [Update: the Silverado did win Truck of the Year.] Owners of the affected vehicles will be notified later this week about when they can come in for the software update. The procedure should only take 20 minutes or so to complete.

Your Flight Will Take Off When We Locate the Crew

The recent cold and wintery weather has made flying in the U.S. and Canada a most unpleasant experience for many travelers. While the weather has been responsible for over 20 000 canceled flights and 40 000 delays since the first of the year, Bloomberg News reported that problems with United Airlines’ Crew Communication System (CCS), which is used to communicate schedules and other information to its onboard personnel, has added to the woes. According to Bloomberg, on 30 December 2013, all 10 200 of the airline’s pilots were shifted to the crew communication system previously used only by Continental Airlines pilots.  You may recall that United and Continental merged in 2010, and that the merger of their automated reservation systems wasn’t the smoothest on record. Further complicating the transition was a CCS software update designed to comply with a new federal requirement, which came into effect on 4 January, that limits the number of consecutive hours a given pilot can be on duty.

However, Bloomberg reports, since the shift, the CCS has been prone to crashing and displaying out of date crew scheduling information. As a result, the system has lost track of crews' whereabouts, left them stranded, or made them late for flights, leading to both flight cancellations and delays, Bloomberg claims. United acknowledges there have been some technical issues with the CSS, but denies it has lost or stranded crews. United told Reuters that most of the reported crew problems were due to weather, not CCS, issues.

In other air travel news, a software problem with check-in counters coupled with bad weather meant hours of delays and several flight cancellations over the weekend at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport. The cause of the software issue, which was cleared up early Sunday morning, was not given by the airport's spokesperson.

Stock Market IT Reliability Not Trending Upward

Stock traders had hoped that 2014 would bring fewer of the exchange and other stock-related “glitches” that plagued them throughout 2013. Alas, last week saw fresh problems reported with the NASDAQ Options Market, as well as online brokerage firm E*Trade. While the former lasted for less than 30 minutes, the E*Trade outage lasted for nearly 5 hours. The causes of both outages are reportedly still under investigation.

Finally, the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) website and supporting systems continues to make news. According to the Washington Post, the ACA website development and support contract for prime contractor CGI will not be renewed. Instead, the maintenance contract will be given to Accenture under a sole-source contract. CGI insists it was not fired; let's just say it wasn't rehired due to the underwhelming quality of its work.

GM Issues Software Update to Reduce Fire Risks to Pickup Trucks

GM Recalls 370 000 Trucks for Fire Risks

GM Recalls Chevy, GMC Pickups

GM Recalling Majority of 2014 Pickups Due to Fire Risk

United Airlines Has Problems with its Crew Communication System

Crew Communication Systems Problems Lead to Flight Cancellations, Crews Being Stranded

United Says Bloomberg Wrong about Pilots Stranded by CCC Issues

Software Problem at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport Said to be Fixed

NASDAQ and E*Trade Suffer Outages

NASDAQ Options Market Issue Resolved

E*Trade Suffers Disruption To Website and Mobile Trading Platforms

Of Other Interest …

Alaskan Airlines Online System Offers New but Already Expired Promotional Deals

Software Crash Takes out Ohio’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles

Computer Failure Leads to Burst Water Pipe, Water Outage in West Memphis, Arkansas

Dropbox Says Outage Caused by Maintenance Issue, Not Hackers

Google Apologizes for Berlin Map with Nazi-Era Street Name

Marks & Spencer Advertises £700 Chairs for 50p Online

Tulsa, Oklahoma’s Malfunctioning Fire Dispatch System Now Working Correctly

Photo: GM

The Conversation (0)

Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar

You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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