How Our Science Group Helps Us Squash Bugs
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How Our Science Group Helps Us Squash Bugs

Foreword by David Atten-Bear-ough

The lifecycle of a software bug is a curious and remarkable thing. From an early age, they manage to hide and scurry past even the most adept and astute of developers. They may lay dormant, waiting for the right time to appear, or run amok frequently, jumping from process to process as dependencies change till finally, the lair of the bug is found. For the software developer, bugs are both boon and burden as bugs allow one to sharpen their already significant talents by finding and eliminating them, but at the potential cost of slowing down production schedules.

Join us, if you will, as we explore the intriguing world of bugs, and how our intrepid team of engineers, support and testers not only unearth these mischievous little pests, but catalogue and remove them from our production builds. We present to you, the life of a bug.

Identifying and finding bugs

To find, test and fix projects, you need a dedicated team. Depending on the size and scope of the project, developers might form closed alpha or beta test groups and ask for feedback. For us, testing is important because it exposes our apps to more people, devices, locations and networks than we'd ever be able to replicate internally at TunnelBear.

The interactions we have with our Science Group are an important part of our engineering process because they help us to make secure, easy-to-use apps. With the release of our new RememBear Beta, we felt it was the perfect time to highlight a few of the ways our Science Group help us squash bugs.

Tuning the tunnels for speed

One of the features we're always working on is how to provide you with fast connections to servers around the world. You connection speed is a tricky thing for us to measure for a number of reasons. Server loads, time of day in the specific area, how close someone is to the tunnel they’re trying to connect to, and lots of other factors, can affect speed.

. . .we can’t pull up your usage logs or view technical events that are tied directly to your account

Unlike most services, we can’t pull up your usage logs or view technical events that are tied directly to your account. Usage logs would be helpful in the troubleshooting process, but storing this data would mean less privacy for our customers. When we have to choose between privacy or more data, we always choose privacy.

To better understand how to optimize server speeds, we challenged our Science Group to test their speeds and report back to us. By testing speeds in different locations then sending screenshots to explain where they were tunneling to and from, we were able to see patterns where speeds could be improved in specific scenarios.

Thanks to the test results we collected, we were able to focus on specific sets of servers to optimize. Our Science Group’s findings saved us months worth of testing and research in more places than we could have reached by ourselves. We’re grateful for the time and effort they put into this project.

Who's in the Science Group?

Our Science Group members come from more than 30 countries and share TunnelBear’s belief that the Internet is better when it’s open. They’re curious, like taking things apart and, most importantly, want to make TunnelBear better for everyone.

Having people pinpoint bugs by testing different devices and compiling their results helps us narrow down issues quickly.

Having people pinpoint bugs by testing different devices and compiling their results helps us narrow down issues quickly. Just because one person’s iPhone is having issues doesn’t mean the bug can be produced on every iPhone. Sharing your findings helps us learn a lot. When you can tell us how you found a bug and how we can recreate it, that’s a an even bigger help.

Calling all bug hunters

Not all bugs are app breaking. The worst part about bugs is that they tend to ruin the user experience with nagging little things like causing an app to open slowly or taking too long to connect. Small things that might not break an app, but could cause you to turn TunnelBear off, leaving you unprotected.

We depend on our Science Group to help us find these bugs and make sure they don’t impact people outside of testing. It’s an important job that we can’t do by ourselves, which is why we’re always looking for more people to join the team. If you’re interested in bug hunting, even if you don’t have any experience yet, signing up is the best way to start learning. You’ll be the first to hear about updates, new products and every now and then we have contests with prizes.

Happy hunting,