Jake Vinson

Apr 2009

Cracking your Fingers

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Felix had an easier time making it to the gym five times a week than the average person, but that was probably because he worked there. It wasn't the ideal job, but it paid well enough for the summer between first and second year of university.

Each day Felix arrived to the familiar scent of sweat and chlorine; the faint smell had permeated throughout the gym, even into the office sections. Most days, when punching in, Felix's boss (who we'll call "Ross") would stop him and bounce off his latest and greatest idea for the gym.

An Unlikely Network Outage

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Dario sighed, placing the call on hold to answer another. "Network support, Dario speaking."

"Hi, this is Seth," the caller began, as though Dario knew who this "Seth" was. "My computer isn't working today. All morning, nothing." Specificity clearly wasn't one of the caller's strengths.

How to Tempt Fate

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"No, it's not write 'click', it's right click, like click the button on the right-hand side." John R. realized his mistake as he said it.

"I already am holding the mouse with my right han-"

Well-Intentioned Destruction

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The custom-built PHP-based content management system suffered from the classic problem of too many cooks in the kitchen. Every code file had conflicting naming conventions and coding styles, structures and duplicate methods all over the place; a Big Ball of Mud. And Dan S. was thrown head first into it.

Dan was trudging through the usual drudgery of low-to-medium priority tickets, when suddenly the heavens cracked open and a Very High priority ticket descended from the sky; the first he'd ever seen. A Very High priority ticket was an all-hands-on-deck, drop everything ticket. You could step in a bear trap, but still be on the hook for hobbling over to your workstation and fixing the ticket before you were allowed to gnaw your leg off. The issue was as vague as it was alarming: One of the clients that used the BBoM CMS system had all of their pages vanish.

The Complicator's Email Address Parser

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A builder sits you down at a table. "I want to show you something," he says, setting a rolled-up sheet of worn leather on the table in front of you. He reaches into his pocket, producing a single screw.

"I keep seeing these," he says, "and they're so hard to work with! I use my hammer to drive them in, but they don't work as well as nails. And once I finally get them in, the claw can't get under the head if I have to remove them." You start to feel embarrassed for the builder.

Foolproof Future-Proofing

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"We had a coder for our project named Clyde," Robert B. writes, "who would have been much happier coding in C, but we had good reasons for choosing VB instead. To make up for the ease of coding in VB, Clyde would eschew the simple way of doing things. No calls to well-defined common routines for him; no, he would code deeply inscrutable functions to accomplish even the simplest tasks.

"Eventually, it came time to move the application to a new, web-based platform. We weren't porting the code – after a decade of Rapid Application Development, it was an unholy amalgamation of conflicting 'common' routines and wildly divergent programming styles. But we did have to document the functionality behind the existing system.

A Statistical Anomaly

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It started simply.


I get this problem when I push this button.