Remy Porter

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

Sep 2018

Flip to a Blank Page

by in CodeSOD on

You have a web application, written in Spring. Some pages live at endpoints where they’re accessible to the world. Other pages require authentication, and yet others require users belong to specific roles. Fortunately for you, Spring has features and mechanisms to handle all of those details, down to making it extremely easy to return the appropriate HTTP error.

Unfortunately for you, one of the developers on your team is a Rockstar™ who is Officially Very Smart and absolutely refuses to use the tools your platform provides. When that Certified Super Genius leaves the organization, you inherit their code.

Switch On Suppression

by in CodeSOD on

Krista noticed our article explaining that switches were replacements for ifs. She sent in a version she found in her codebase, around the same idea:

	public void removeAssetFromPackage(Package pkg, Asset assetToRemove) {
		// Delete from DB and asset store.
		removeAsset(pkg, assetToRemove);

		// If we're removing LIVE asset, also delete AsyncJobs.
		switch (assetToRemove.getType()) {
			case LIVE:

		// Flush package cache.

The Secure Cloud API

by in CodeSOD on

Melinda's organization has purchased a cloud-based storage system. Like any such system, it has a lovely API which lets you manage quotas and login tokens. It also had a lovely CLI, which was helpful for administrators to modify the cloud environment. Melinda's team built a PHP front-end that could not only manage files, but also allowed administrators to manage those quotas.

Melinda was managing those quotas, and when she clicked the link to view the quotas, she noticed the URL contained ?token=RO-cmV1c2luZyBrZXlzIGlzIFRSV1RG. When she went to modify the quota, the URL parameter became ?token=RW-cmV1c2luZyBrZXlzIGlzIFRSV1RG. That looked like a security key for their cloud API, transmitted in the open. The RW and RO looked like they had something to do with readwrite and readonly, but that wasn't the security model their storage provider used. When Melinda had another co-worker log in, they saw the same tokens. What was going on?

Crazy Like a Fox(Pro)

by in Feature Articles on

“Database portability” is one of the key things that modern data access frameworks try and ensure for your application. If you’re using an RDBMS, the same data access layer can hopefully work across any RDBMS. Of course, since every RDBMS has its own slightly different idiom of SQL, and since you might depend on stored procedures, triggers, or views, you’re often tied to a specific database vendor, and sometimes a version.

Keulemans Chama fox.png

And really, for your enterprise applications, how often do you really change out your underlying database layer?

Padding Your Time

by in CodeSOD on

Today will be a simple one, and it’s arguably low-hanging fruit, because once again, it’s date handling code. But it’s not handling dates where it falls down. It falls down on something much more advanced: conditionals. Supplied by “_ek1n”.

if ($min == 0) {
    if ($hours == 12) {
        $hours = 12;
        $min   = '00';
    } else {
        $hours = $hours;
        $min   = '00';

Wear a Dunder Cap

by in CodeSOD on

In the Python community, one buzzword you’ll find thrown around is whether or not an approach is “pythonic”. It’s a flexible term, and something you can just throw out in code reviews, even if you’ve never written a line of Python in your life: “Is that Pythonic?”

The general rubric for what truly is “pythonic” is generally code that is simple and code that operates explicitly. There shouldn’t be any “magic”. But Python doesn’t force you to write “pythonic” code, and it provides loads of tools like decorators and metaclasses that let you get as complex and implicit as you like.

Legacy Switchout

by in CodeSOD on

About a decade ago, I attended a talk. The speaker made the argument that "legacy code" may have many possible interpretations, but the practical view was to simply think of legacy code as "code without unit tests". Thus, the solution to modernizing your legacy code was to simply write unit tests. Refactoring the code to make it testable would have the side effect of modernizing the code base, and writing tests would act as documentation. It's that easy.

Andrew is struggling with some legacy code right now. Worse, they're trying to integrate a large mountain of legacy code into a custom, in-house CI/CD pipeline. This particular pile of legacy code dates back to the mid-2000s, so everything in it is glued together via XML. It was some of that XML code which started failing when Andrew threw some unit tests at it.

Not a Not Bad Approach

by in CodeSOD on

In terms of elegance, I think the bitmask has a unique beauty. The compactness of your expression, the simple power of bitwise operators, and the way you can see the underlying implementation of numbers laid bare just speaks to me. Of course, bitmasks can be a bit opaque, and you may have to spend some time thinking about what foo &= 0xFF0000 is actually doing, but there’s also something alluring about it.

Of course, bitmasks are surprisingly hard. For example, let’s look at some code submitted anonymously. This code is meant to run on a line of coin-operated dryers. Depending on the particular install, how many coins a patron puts in, what modes have been enabled by the owner, and so on, different “extra” features might be disabled or not disabled.

Caught Up in the Captcha

by in CodeSOD on

Gregor needed to download a network driver. Upon clicking the link, a "captcha" appeared, presumably to prevent hotlinking to the driver files. It wasn't a real, image-based captcha, but a simple "here's some characters, type them into the box".

The code which popped up was "S i u x q F b j NaN 4". He hit the "new code" button, and got "T o A 0 J V s L NaN a". In fact, "NaN" showed up in the penultimate position in every code.