Remy Porter

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

Mar 2018

Attack of the WASPs

by in CodeSOD on

Werner sent us some code from the telcom industry. Before we even get to the code, we have to look at one of the comments.

// This is a hack to be
// able to compile

A Unique Solution

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Ruby is a nice little language, but I think it wouldn’t have exploded in popularity like it did without Rails. Nowadays, Ruby still seems to be the first choice of early-stage startups. A big part of that is how easy ActiveRecord makes database access.

Adrian was doing some code reviews, when he came across this line:


Authentication Failure

by in CodeSOD on

There are certain programming problems that I generally say you shouldn’t try and solve yourself. Dates, of course, are a big one. They’re more complicated than you think, and unless you want to make managing a date handling library your life’s work, just use someone else’s.

Encryption is another. There are so many subtle ways to do it wrong that unless it’s your specialty, you’re going to screw it up. Another similar problem is authentication.


An HTTP Code

by in Representative Line on

Peter B’s company didn’t have the resource availability to develop their new PHP application entirely in-house, and thus brought in a Highly Paid Contractor™ to oversee that project. This story could end here, and you could fill in the rest, but Peter found an… interesting block of code during the autopsy on this disaster.

Now, I want you to imagine that someone has handed you an integer. You need to know if that integer constitutes a valid HTTP status code. Now, this could get difficult, as just because a number falls between 100 and 599 doesn’t mean that it’s actually a defined status code. Then again, services may define their own status codes, and clients should understand the class of a status code, even if they don’t understand the number, so getting a 147 code isn’t wrong, so we can just probably assume any n where 100 <= n < 600 is valid enough.


A Passion for Details

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Passion projects are so common in our industry that there are some people who won’t hire you as a programmer if you’re not also programming in your free time. That’s TRWTF, honestly. There’s nothing wrong with being the kind of programmer who shows up for your 9–5 and then goes home and doesn’t touch a computer until the next day.

There’s also nothing wrong with passion projects. I have a bunch of them, usually carefully chosen to have absolutely no utility whatsoever, so they never start feeling like a job.


Flushed Down the Pipe

by in Representative Line on

No matter how much I personally like functional programming, I know that it is not a one-size fits all solution for every problem.

Vald M knows this too. Which is why they sent us an email that simply said: “We have a functional programmer on the team”, with this representative line attached.


Lightweight Date Handling

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Darlene has a co-worker who discovered a problem: they didn’t know or understand any of the C++ libraries for manipulating dates and times. Checking the documentation or googling it is way too much to ask, so instead they opted to use the tools they already understood- a database. We’ve seen that before.

There was just one other problem: this application wasn’t data-driven, and thus didn’t have a database to query.


And Now You Have Two Problems

by in CodeSOD on

We all know the old saying: “Some people, when confronted with a problem, think ‘I know, I’ll use regular expressions.’ Now they have two problems.” The quote has a long and storied history, but Roger A’s co-worker decided to take it quite literally.

Specifically, they wanted to be able to build validation rules which could apply a regular expression to the input. Thus, they wrote the RegExpConstraint class:


Let's Set a Date

by in CodeSOD on

Let’s imagine, for a moment, that you came across a method called setDate. Would you think, perhaps, that it stores a date somewhere? Of course it does. But what else does it do?

Matthias was fixing some bugs in a legacy project, and found himself asking exactly that question.


A Very Private Memory

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May the gods spare us from “clever” programmers.

Esben found this little block of C# code:


What a Stream

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In Java 8, they added the Streams API. Coupled with lambdas, this means that developers can write the concise and expressive code traditionally oriented with functional programming. It’s the best bits of Java blended with the best bits of Clojure! The good news, is that it allows you to write less code! The better news is that you can abuse it to write more code, if you’re so inclined.

Antonio inherited some code written by “Frenk”, who was thus inclined. Frenk wasn’t particularly happy with their job, but were one of the “rockstar programmers” in the eyes of management, so Frenk was given the impossible-to-complete tasks and given complete freedom in the solution.