Remy Porter

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

Aug 2018

Look Ahead. Look Out!

by in CodeSOD on

I'm an old person. It's the sort of thing that happens when you aren't looking. All the kids these days are writing Slack and Discord bots in JavaScript, and I remember writing my first chatbots in Perl and hooking them into IRC. Fortunately, all the WTFs in my Perl chatbots have been lost to time.

"P" has a peer who wants to scrape all the image URLs out of a Discord chat channel. Those URLs will be fetched, then passed through an image processing pipeline to organize and catalog frequently used images, regardless of their origin.


Assertive Programming

by in CodeSOD on

Defensive programming is an important tool in any developer's toolbox. In strictly typed languages, types themselves provide a natural defense against certain classes of bugs, but in loosely typed languages, you may have to be more clear about your assumptions.

For example, in Python, you might choose to use the assert keyword to, well, assert that something is true. It's often used in debugging, but it's also a good way to ensure that the state of the parameters passed to a function, or some other state of your system is correct before doing anything else. If it's not, the code raises an exception.


Extending Yourself

by in CodeSOD on

Optional parameters are a great tool for building flexible APIs. In most languages, they're not strictly necessary- if you have function overloading, the difference between optional parameters and an overloaded function is just the quantity of boilerplate- but they're certainly a nice to have.

Well, they're a nice to have in the right hands.


You Can Only Get What You Have

by in Representative Line on

Sean's ongoing career as a consultant keeps supplying him with amazing code.

Let's talk about encapsulation. We put getters and setters around our objects internalsto help keep our code modular. Given an object, we call something like getUsername to extract a piece of that object safely.


Is This Terning Into a Date?

by in CodeSOD on

Bad date handling code is like litter: offensive, annoying, but omnipresent. Nobody is specifically responsible for it, nobody wants to clean it up, and we end up ignoring it.

Murtaza K offers up a particularly malodorous example, though, that's worthy of note. It's got everything: string mangling, assumptions that ignore locale, bad ternaries, and it's completely unnecessary.


Tern This Statement Around and Go Home

by in Representative Line on

When looking for representative lines, ternaries are almost easy mode. While there’s nothing wrong with a good ternary expression, they have a bad reputation because they can quickly drift out towards “utterly unreadable”.

Or, sometimes, they can drift towards “incredibly stupid”. This anonymous submission is a pretty brazen example of the latter:


Isn't There a Vaccine For MUMPS?

by in CodeSOD on

Alex F is suffering from a disease. No, it’s not disfiguring, it’s not fatal. It’s something much worse than that.

It’s MUMPS.


A Tapestry of Threads

by in Feature Articles on

A project is planned. Gantt charts are drawn up. Timelines are set. They're tight up against the critical path, because including any slack time in the project plan is like planning for failure. PMs have meetings. Timelines slip. Something must be done, and the PMs form a nugget of a plan.

CORINTI

That nugget squeezes out of their meeting, and rolls downhill until it lands on some poor developer's desk.


Knowledge Transfer

by in CodeSOD on

Lucio Crusca is a consultant with a nice little portfolio of customers he works with. One of those customers was also a consultancy, and their end customer had a problem. The end customer's only in-house developer, Tyrell, was leaving. He’d worked there for 8 years, and nobody else knew anything about his job, his code, or really what exactly he’d been doing for 8 years.

They had two weeks to do a knowledge transfer before Tyrell was out the door. There was no chance of on-boarding someone in that time, so they wanted a consultant who could essentially act as a walking, talking USB drive, simply holding all of Tyrell’s knowledge until they could have a full-time developer.


CDADA

by in CodeSOD on

If there’s one big problem with XML, it’s arguably that XML is overspecified. That’s not all bad- it means that every behavior, every option, every approach is documented, schematized, and defined. That might result in something like SOAP, which creates huge, bloated payloads, involves multiple layers of wrapping tags, integrates with discovery schemas, has additional federation and in-built security mechanisms, each of which are themselves defined in XML. And let’s not even start on XSLT and XQuery.

It also means that if you have a common task, like embedding arbitrary content in a safe fashion, there’s a well-specified and well-documented way to do it. If you did want to embed arbitrary content in a safe fashion, you could use the <![CDATA [Here is some arbitrary content]]> directive. It’s not a pretty way of doing it, but it means you don’t have to escape anything but ]]>, which is only a problem in certain esoteric programming languages with rude names.


This Interview Doesn't Count

by in CodeSOD on

There are merits and disadvantages to including any sort of programming challenge in your interview process. The argument for something like a FizzBuzz challenge is that a surprising number of programmers can’t actually do that, and it weeds out the worst candidates and the liars.

Gareth was interviewing someone who purported to be a senior developer with loads of Java experience. As a standard part of their interview process, they do a little TDD based exercise: “here’s a test, here’s how to run it, now write some code which passes the test.”


Constantly True

by in Representative Line on

An anonymous reader had something to share.

"I came across this code in a 13,000 line file called Constants.cs."


The Mike Test

by in CodeSOD on

The Joel Test is about to turn 18 this year. Folks have attempted to “update” it, but even after graduating high school, the test remains a good starting point for identifying a “good” team.

Mike was impressed to discover a PHP script which manages to fail a number of points on the Joel Test in only 8 lines.


Fortran the Undying

by in CodeSOD on

There are certain languages which are still in use, are still changing and maturing, and yet are also frozen in time. Fortran is a perfect example- over the past 40–60 years, huge piles of code, mostly for scientific and engineering applications, was written. It may be hard to believe, but modern Fortran supports object-oriented programming and has a focus on concurrency.

Most of the people using Fortran, it seems, learned it in the 70s. And no matter what happens to the language, they still write code like it’s the 70s. Fortran’s own seeming immortality has imbued its users with necromantic energy, turning them into undying, and unchanging Liches.