Remy Porter

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

Jan 2019

A Date with a Consultant

by in CodeSOD on

Management went out and hired a Highly Paid Consultant to build some custom extensions for Service Now, a SaaS tool for IT operations management. HPC did their work, turned over the product, and vanished the instant the last check cleared. Matt was the blessed developer who was tasked with dealing with any bugs or feature requests.

Everything was fine for a few days, until the thirthieth of January. One of the end users attempted to set the “Due Date” for a hardware order to 03-FEB–2019. This failed, because "Start date cannot be in the past".


Sort Sort Sort Your Map, Functionally Down the Stream

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A while back, we saw "Frenk"'s approach to making an unreadable pile of lambda-based Java code. Antonio has some more code, which didn't come from Frenk, but possibly from one of Frenk's disciples, who we'll call "Grenk".

Imagine you have a list of users. You want to display those users in order by "lastname, firstname". Your usernames happen to be in the form "firstname.lastname". You also have actual "firstname" and "lastname" fields in your dataset, but ignore those for the moment, because for whatever reason, they never made it to this block of code.


Giving 104%

by in CodeSOD on

Dates, as we have explored exhaustively, are hard. And yet, no matter how much we explore dates, and the myriad ways developers can completely screw them up, there are constantly new borders of date-related idiocy ahead of us.

The app Michael supported was running on a server running an Ubuntu version that was more than a little ancient, so as a test, he upgraded to the latest LTS version. That also included upgrades to the MySQL version they were running.


Internal Validation

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If you’re doing anything financial in Brazil, you have to manage “CNPJ” numbers. These numbers are unique identifiers for every business and every branch of that business, along with a pair of check-digits to validate that it’s a correct code. Everyone from banks to accountants to businesses needs to track and manage these.

When Patria joined a microscopic startup as an intern. The startup made an accounting package, and thus needed to track CNPJs. She asked the lead developer, “Hey, how do I validate those check-digits?”


Why Is This Here?

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Oma was tracking down a bug where the application complained about the wrong parameters being passed to an API. As she traced through the Java code, she spotted a construct like this:

Long s = foo.getStatusCode(); if (s != null) { //do stuff } else { //raise an error }

Relative Versioning

by in Feature Articles on

Today's submission comes from someone going by Albert Einstein. Before we look at what they sent us, let's talk a little bit about version numbers.

Version numbers, if you think about it, are a deeply weird construct, and they're trying to balance a lot of difficult goals. At its simplest, a version number is meant to order your releases. Version 2 comes after version 1. Version 3 comes next. But even this simple goal is surprisingly difficult, because your releases only exist in order if you only have one chain of history for your product. The instant you have to have a custom build for one customer, or you start doing AB testing, or your library has to provide multiple interfaces for different deployment conditions, or one developer down in the basement decides to fork and not tell anyone- releases cease to have a linear order.


The Pair of All Sums

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Learning about data structures- when to use them, how to use them, and why- is a make-or-break moment for a lot of programmers. Some programmers master this. Some just get as far as hash maps and call it a day, and some… get inventive.

Let’s say, for example, that you’re Jim J’s coworker. You have an object called a Closing. A Closing links two Entrys. This link is directed, so entry 1->2 is one Closing, while 2->1 is another. In real-world practice, though, two Closings that are linked together in both directions should generally be interacted with as pairs. So, 1->2 and 2->1 may not be the same object, but they’re clearly related.


Ternt Up GUID

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UUIDs and GUIDs aren’t as hard as dates, but boy, do they get hard, don’t they. Just look at how many times they come up. It’s hard to generate a value that’s guaranteed to be unique. And there’s a lot of ways to do it- depending on your needs, there are some UUIDs that can be sorted sequentially, some which can be fully random, some which rely on hash algorithms, and so on.

Of course, that means, for example, your UUIDs aren’t sequential. Even with time-based, they’re not in sequence. They’re just sortable.


Switch the Dropdown

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Bogdan Olteanu picked up a simple-sounding bug. There was a drop-down list in the application which was missing a few entries. Since this section of the app wasn't data-driven, that meant someone messed up when hard-coding the entries into the dropdown.

Bogdan was correct. Someone messed up, alright.


Certifiable Success

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“Hey, apparently, the SSL cert on our web-service expired… in 2013.”

Laura’s company had a web-service that provided most of their business logic, and managed a suite of clients for interacting with that service. Those clients definitely used SSL to make calls to that web-service. And Laura knew that there were a bunch of calls to ValidateServerCertificate as part of the handshaking process, so they were definitely validating it, right?


It Only Crashes When It Works

by in Representative Line on

We already know that Kara’s office has a problem with strings. Kara’s back again, with more string related troubles.

These troubles are a bit worse, once we add in some history. You see, some of their software does machine control. That is to say, it sends commands to some bit of machinery, which then moves or extrudes or does whatever the machine does. Kara wasn’t specific, only granted that this machine was neither large enough or mean enough to kill someone. Minor cuts, burns, scrapes, bruises and damage to the equipment itself is still possible, but nobody will die.


Without Compare

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Operator overloading is a messy prospect. In theory, it means that you can naturally extend a language so that you can operate on objects naturally. An introductory CS class might have students implement a Ratio or Fraction class, then overload arithmetic operators so you can (a + b).reduce().

In practice, it means you use the bitshift operator also as the stream insertion operator. Thanks C++.


Is Num? I'm Numb

by in CodeSOD on

"The hurrider I go, the behinder I get," is one of the phrases I like to trot out any time a project schedule slips and a PHB or PM decides the solution is either crunch or throwing more bodies at the project.

Karl had one of those bosses, and ended up in the deep end of crunch. Of course, when that happens, mistakes happen, and everything gets further behind, or you're left with a mountain of technical debt because you forgot that Integer.TryParse was a function in C#.


Innumerable Enum

by in Representative Line on

Ah, the enumerated type. At its core, it's really just a compile-time check to ensure that this constant containing 1 isn't getting confused with this other constant, also containing 1.

We usually ignore the actual numbers in our enums, though not always. Perhaps, though, we should just pay more attention to them in general, that way we don't end up with code like Andrew found.