Remy Porter

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

Apr 2018

The Big Balls of…

by in Feature Articles on

The dependency graph of your application can provide a lot of insight into how objects call each other. In a well designed application, this is probably mostly acyclic and no one node on the graph has more than a handful of edges coming off of it. The kinds of applications we talk about here, on the other hand, we have a name for their graphs: the Enterprise Dependency and the Big Ball of Yarn.

Thomas K introduces us to an entirely new iteration: The Big Ball of Mandelbrot


The Truth About Comparisons

by in Representative Line on

We often point to dates as one of the example data types which is so complicated that most developers can’t understand them. This is unfair, as pretty much every data type has weird quirks and edge cases which make for unexpected behaviors. Floating point rounding, integer overflows and underflows, various types of string representation…

But file-not-founds excepted, people have to understand Booleans, right?


Breaking Changes

by in CodeSOD on

We talk a lot about the sort of wheels one shouldn’t reinvent. Loads of bad code stumbles down that path. Today, Mary sends us some code from their home-grown unit testing framework.

Mary doesn’t have much to say about whatever case of Not Invented Here Syndrome brought things to this point. It’s especially notable that this is Python, which comes, out of the box, with a perfectly serviceable unittest module built in. Apparently not serviceable enough for their team, however, as Burt, the Lead Developer, wrote his own.


All the Things!

by in CodeSOD on

Yasmin needed to fetch some data from a database for a report. Specifically, she needed to get all the order data. All of it. No matter how much there was.

The required query might be long running, but it wouldn’t be complicated. By policy, every query needed to be implemented as a stored procedure. Yasmin, being a smart prograammer, decided to check and see if anybody had already implemented a stored procedure which did what she needed. She found one called GetAllOrders. Perfect! She tested it in her report.


A Comment on the Military Industrial Complex

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Simon T tugged at his collar when the video played. It wasn’t much, just a video of their software being tested. It wasn’t the first time they’d tested Simon’s most recent patch, but it was going to be the last time. There were a lot of eyes in the conference room, and they were all turned on him.

Simon worked for the kind of company which made missiles. The test in the video was one of the highly expensive tests of a real missile under real-world conditions. Several of these had already been done with this software package, so Simon hadn’t expected any problems to crop up. In this case, though, the missile left its launcher and sailed in a perfect parabolic arc into the ground 5 meters away from the launch site.


Without Context

by in CodeSOD on

When writing up a Code SOD, a big part of the goal is to provide context for the bad code. Why is it bad, what would be better,, etc. In other words, we need to… ShowContext. Vasco O has exactly the method for that.

protected string ShowContext(string context)
{
    if (!string.IsNullOrEmpty(context))
    {
        return string.Format("{0}", context);
    }
    else
    {
        return string.Empty;
    }
}

Works for Us

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Containers make deployment easy, or at least that’s what it says on the label. It makes intuitive sense, though- instead of wrangling all your dependencies on a host OS, and then trying to understand why your app can’t see them, you bundle all the dependencies into a container and push that around when you want to deploy. It Just Works™.

Sandra had just left a company which didn’t use containers, but containers wouldn’t have helped: the didn’t have a working deployment process, period. They didn’t even try deploying before the production push 9 months into the project, and the first twelve attempts consistently failed because someone hadn’t tested something, or someone didn’t update the script, or the requirements changed and were signed off but nobody told the development team. It meant a lot of nights, a lot of weekends, and a lot of meetings which devolved into circular firing squads.

Three gears which couldn't possibly turn

30 Days

by in CodeSOD on

Tim B did a little work with an e-learning vendor, with some very old code. The code in question happened to be so old that “this is server side JavaScript” was a horrifying novelty when they wrote it, instead of a standard deployment option via Node.

The code in question is bad date handling code, which isn’t impressive. What is impressive is that it demonstrates a terrible approach to dates which I’ve never seen before. It doubles as a terrible approach to arrays which I have seen before, but… it remains special.


A Repeated Save

by in CodeSOD on

Ian S was going through the portfolio of applications maintained by his company, and stumbled across one that… well, from what he could tell, wasn’t written by a developer so much as spawned by an accident. 90% of the code was copy-pasted from somewhere else in the code, flow-of-control mostly used Exceptions as an attempt at doing GOTO-style logic, and there were piles of unused variables or variables used before initialization. Some modules/packages in the application were full of syntax errors, which implied that they weren’t actually included or used anywhere.

From that mess, Ian extracted this.


AI-Driven Articles

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If you've looked at job postings, you know that there's one thing really big and trendy right now, and that's blockchains. But the other trendy thing is Machine Learning! We'll talk about the Daily WTF's Initial Coin Offering at a later date, but for right now, we're excited to announce our new ML efforts.

Specifically, we recognize that there's a certain structure and pattern to our articles, and instead of paying human writers, we can instead employ the latest machine learning systems to generate new articles that will be indistinguishable from the articles you know and love. The ideal tool, of course, would be an Recurrent Neural Network, which we could train based off previous articles. Unfortunately, that involves a lot of GPU power, and we're already using our GPUs to get ready for that ICO I mentioned. Shhhh. It's a secret.