Remy Porter

Remy escaped the enterprise world and now makes LEDs blink pretty. Editor-in-Chief for TDWTF.

Nov 2018

Project Scheduling by T-Shirt

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In early 2002, Bert landed a job at Initech, which released its own protocol analyzer tool. Technically, they released a whole slate of protocol analyzers, data loggers, analytics tools, with overlapping features and business cases. Their product catalog had grown over the years, and was a bit of a thicket.

The team Bert joined was a decent mix of talent. Some, like him, were new to the industry. There were some more experienced devs, who knew the product and the low-level internals their software needed to navigate. And then there was Herb.

A Big Change

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Circa 2009, Marylou took a position at an e-commerce firm. It was a small company, which had done its startup phase right in the midst of the DotCom Crash, but somehow made it out the other end with a steady revenue stream.

That itself turned out to be a problem, as once you turn a profit, investors stop investing. The company founders spent the next few years looking for investment to expand, and when they finally got it, they went on a hiring spree. That's where Marylou came in.

Without a Parent

by in Representative Line on

Rob M caught a ticket for a bug in a C# application. Specifically, when the user picked an item off a menu, that item wouldn't get highlighted, thus defeating the purpose of the menu. Strangely, the code hadn't been touched since its first commit, back in 2015.

var sortedParentChildItems = matchedMenuItems.OrderBy(x => x.ParentID ?? x.ParentID).ThenBy(x => x.ParentID);

Classic WTF: Let Me Sleep On It

by in CodeSOD on
We're starting our Thanksgiving break a day early this year. To make up for it, we're dipping back into the archives for a classic WTF. Original

"Perl is a language for getting your job done," is the underlying philosophy of the language. The only right way to write a Perl program is whatever way works. The ultimate flexibility of Perl is a breeding ground for WTFs . That's doubly true when you're new to the language, like Dave once was.

To get Dave started with Perl, his boss paired him up with Alvin, the veteran Perl programmer. He'd been using Perl since version 4, and had a reputation for wielding regexes like a scalpel. After Dave had a few days of ramp up, Alvin started sending him code from their codebase so that Dave could try and understand how their applications worked.

Class Warfare

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Setting aside cross-browser quirks, CSS is a fiendishly complicated specification. There’s a lot to it. From styling rules and how they interact with the DOM hierarchy, to the complexities of using selectors to navigate the DOM- it’s a complex tool that is also very powerful. I mean, it’s Turing complete.

Shiv works with a self-proclaimed “CSS Ninja”- yes, that was actually in their resume when they got hired. They were hired on the strength of their portfolio- it looked very nice. Unfortunately, the implementation left something to be desired.

A Clever Switch

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Today's anonymous submitter has this to say about this code: "It works fine, it's just... clever."

I'm not certain about the relative cleverness of this solution, myself.


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"If at first you don't succeed, try, try again."

We have all encountered situations where we need to attempt an operation, with full knowledge that the operation might very well fail. And if it does, we should retry it. Usually after a delay, usually with a maximum number of retries.

A Profitable Education

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Today’s anonymous submitter is an experienced Python developer. Their team is significantly less experienced. In the interests of training, someone suggested, “Perhaps we should buy books for everyone.” Our submitter was handed a stack of possible books, and asked to pick the best one to help the team mature.

One book spent some time discussing types, and the conversion between them. By way of example, it provided a handy method which would turn a string into a floating point number:

An Equal Crunch

by in Representative Line on

Rina works in an environment which tends to favor crunch. It's a bit of a feast or famine situation, where they'll coast for months on a pretty standard 9-5 schedule, and then bam, suddenly it's 18 hours days.

No one particularly likes those periods, and code quality takes a nosedive. Co-worker Rusty, though, starts making utterly bizarre decisions when stressed, which is how Rina found this line while doing a code review:

To Round a Corner

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Last week we saw an attempt to reinvent the ceil function. Tina raised a protest: "6 lines to re-implement a ceil function? We can do better."

//Rounds to 1000d Superior public int round1000dSup(int value_To_Round) { int finalResult = 0; int resultIntermediate = value_To_Round / 1000; resultIntermediate += 1; int valueRounded = resultIntermediate * 1000; if ((valueRounded - value_To_Round) == 1000) { finalResult = value_To_Round; } else { finalResult = valueRounded; } return finalResult; }

A Swift Update

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Banks are uniquely identified via a “SWIFT Code”. It’s an ISO Standard. Having an accurate SWIFT code for a given bank is of vital importance to anyone doing financial transactions. With mergers, moves, new branches, and so on, the SWIFT codes you do business with won’t change often, but they will change.

Thus, Philip wasn’t terribly surprised when he got a request to update a pile of SWIFT codes. He couldn’t make the change via the database, though, as no one had permission to do that. He couldn’t edit it through an application UI, because no one had ever built one.

Hitting Your Skill Ceiling

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Clia was handed a pile of legacy code and told to upgrade it, but with a very important rule attached: the functionality couldn't change. Any change could break someone's workflow, and thus in the upgraded system, even the bugs had to be reproduced.

Unlike most "legacy" code, this wasn't all that old- it was written in C#. Then again, C# is old enough to drive, so maybe it is old. Regardless, C# has utility methods, like, say, a ceil function. At no point in C#'s history has it lacked this basic functionality.

Enterprising Messages

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Percy's employer is an "enterprise vendor". They have a variety of products all within the "enterprise" space. Like most enterprise products, they're sold on the strength of the marketing team's ability to claim with a straight face that they're secure, robust, reliable, and performant.

While the company offered a "cloud" solution for their enterprise suite, the real money was in the on premises version. With on-prem, any updates or upgrades were almost guaranteed to break the entire environment unless the customer shoveled huge piles of cash at the company to get a specialist to come out and do the upgrades.

For a Long While

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Here’s a philosophical question. Let’s say you’re searching an array. Is it clearer to use a for loop and break when you find the element, or is it better to use a while loop and break if you hit the end of the array?

Most of us would likely use the for loop, but it wouldn’t be wrong to use the while- maybe just unexpected.