Tern This Statement Around and Go Home

by in Representative Line on

When looking for representative lines, ternaries are almost easy mode. While there’s nothing wrong with a good ternary expression, they have a bad reputation because they can quickly drift out towards “utterly unreadable”.

Or, sometimes, they can drift towards “incredibly stupid”. This anonymous submission is a pretty brazen example of the latter:

Isn't There a Vaccine For MUMPS?

by in CodeSOD on

Alex F is suffering from a disease. No, it’s not disfiguring, it’s not fatal. It’s something much worse than that.


A Shell Game

by in Feature Articles on

When the big banks and brokerages on Wall Street first got the idea that UNIX systems could replace mainframes, one of them decided to take the plunge - Big Bang style. They had hundreds of programmers cranking out as much of the mainframe functionality as they could. Copy-paste was all the rage; anything to save time. It could be fixed later.

Nyst 1878 - Cerastoderma parkinsoni R-klep

Senior management decreed that the plan was to get all the software as ready as it could be by the deadline, then turn off and remove the mainframe terminals on Friday night, swap in the pre-configured UNIX boxes over the weekend, and turn it all on for Monday morning. Everyone was to be there 24 hours a day from Friday forward, for as long as it took. Air mattresses, munchies, etc. were brought in for when people would inevitably need to crash.

A Tapestry of Threads

by in Feature Articles on

A project is planned. Gantt charts are drawn up. Timelines are set. They're tight up against the critical path, because including any slack time in the project plan is like planning for failure. PMs have meetings. Timelines slip. Something must be done, and the PMs form a nugget of a plan.


That nugget squeezes out of their meeting, and rolls downhill until it lands on some poor developer's desk.

Truth in Errors

by in Error'd on

Jakub writes, "I'm not sure restarting will make IE 'normal', but yeah, I guess it's worth a shot."

Knowledge Transfer

by in CodeSOD on

Lucio Crusca is a consultant with a nice little portfolio of customers he works with. One of those customers was also a consultancy, and their end customer had a problem. The end customer's only in-house developer, Tyrell, was leaving. He’d worked there for 8 years, and nobody else knew anything about his job, his code, or really what exactly he’d been doing for 8 years.

They had two weeks to do a knowledge transfer before Tyrell was out the door. There was no chance of on-boarding someone in that time, so they wanted a consultant who could essentially act as a walking, talking USB drive, simply holding all of Tyrell’s knowledge until they could have a full-time developer.


by in CodeSOD on

If there’s one big problem with XML, it’s arguably that XML is overspecified. That’s not all bad- it means that every behavior, every option, every approach is documented, schematized, and defined. That might result in something like SOAP, which creates huge, bloated payloads, involves multiple layers of wrapping tags, integrates with discovery schemas, has additional federation and in-built security mechanisms, each of which are themselves defined in XML. And let’s not even start on XSLT and XQuery.

It also means that if you have a common task, like embedding arbitrary content in a safe fashion, there’s a well-specified and well-documented way to do it. If you did want to embed arbitrary content in a safe fashion, you could use the <![CDATA [Here is some arbitrary content]]> directive. It’s not a pretty way of doing it, but it means you don’t have to escape anything but ]]>, which is only a problem in certain esoteric programming languages with rude names.

This Interview Doesn't Count

by in CodeSOD on

There are merits and disadvantages to including any sort of programming challenge in your interview process. The argument for something like a FizzBuzz challenge is that a surprising number of programmers can’t actually do that, and it weeds out the worst candidates and the liars.

Gareth was interviewing someone who purported to be a senior developer with loads of Java experience. As a standard part of their interview process, they do a little TDD based exercise: “here’s a test, here’s how to run it, now write some code which passes the test.”