Remy Porter

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

Jul 2018

An Incomparable Event

by in CodeSOD on

Sandra’s ongoing battles continue. She currently works for Initrovent, and is doing her best to clean Karl’s dirty fingerprints off their event-planning codebase.

Now, as it turns out, Karl wasn’t their only developer. Another previous developer was a physicist who knew their way around APL and Fortran, then decided to follow the early 2000s money and became a self-taught web developer.


You'd Need an Oracle to Understand These Docs

by in Feature Articles on

Documentation is difficult in the best of situations. I've encountered lots of bad documentation. Bad because it's unclear, inaccurate, or incomprehensible. Bad because it's non-existent. Bad because it insists on strictly using the vendor's own in-house terms, carefully chosen to be the most twee little metaphors they could imagine, but never explains those terms, thus being both incomprehensible and infuriating. "Enterprise" packages bring their own quirks and foibles, and tend to be some combination of unclear, inaccurate, or incomprehensible. Unless, sometimes, what we attribute to incompetence probably is actual malice.

An augur, sitting on the hilltop, predicting the future

I've brushed up against a lot of ERP systems in may day, ranging from the home-(over)-grown Excel spreadsheet on the network drive all the way to gigundous SAP build-outs.


A Symbol of Bad Code

by in CodeSOD on

As developers, when we send data over the network, we can usually safely ignore the physical implementation of that network. At some level, though, the bits you’re sending become physical effects in your transmission medium, whether it’s radio waves or electrical signals.

You can’t just send raw bits over the wire. Those bits have to be converted into a symbol suitable for the transmission medium. Symbols could be the dots-and-dashes of morse code, tones transmitted over a phone line, or changing duty cycles on a pulse-width-modulated signal. The number of symbols per second is the baud rate of the channel. What this means for digital transmission is that even if your channel has a potential bit rate of one gigabit per second, the actual baud rate may be different- either much larger or much smaller. For example, modems might send 4-bits per symbol, meaning a 2,400 baud modem actually can transmit 9,600 bits per second. GPS, on the other hand, can transmit 50 bits/s, but over one million symbols per second thanks to spread spectrum broadcast.


Is the Table Empty?

by in CodeSOD on

Sean has a lucrative career as a consultant/contractor. As such, he spends a great deal of time in other people’s code bases, and finds things like a method with this signature:

public boolean isTableEmpty()


To Read or Parse

by in CodeSOD on

When JSON started to displace XML as the default data format for the web, my initial reaction was, "Oh, thank goodness." Time passed, and people reinvented schemas for JSON and RPC APIs in JSON and wrote tools which turn JSON schemas into UIs and built databases which store BSON, which is JSON with extra steps, and… it makes you wonder what it was all for.


An Eventful Career Continues

by in CodeSOD on

You may remember Sandra from her rather inglorious start at Initrovent. She didn't intend to continue working for Karl for very long, but she also didn't run out the door screaming. Perhaps she should have, but if she had- we wouldn't have this code.

Initrovent was an event-planning company, and thus needed to manage events, shows, and spaces. They wrote their own exotic suite of software to manage that task.