Remy Porter

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

Nov 2019

Repeat and Rinse

by in CodeSOD on

The challenges of doing a national integration continue to plague Sergio. More specifically, the “solutions” left behind by his predecessors continue to annoy.

Sergio has inherited a system which needs to plug in to a national database. As the national integration was something which was added after the business processes were already determined, that means that certain terms/descriptors/captions/etc. are used internally than are required externally, and vice versa. So, for example, one laboratory test Sergio’s company performs might be called “QD1” internally, but is known by the government as “F3+”.


Newly Singleton

by in Feature Articles on

Shery was brought on to help with a project which was “going well”. “Going well” meant that all the little icons on the project management dashboard were green, which is one of the most effective ways to conceal a project which is struggling.

Shery’s component was large, and it was complicated, and it had a well defined interface to the rest of the application. Specifically, they had a documented JSON message format which her code would receive via JMS. That meant she could do the vast majority of her work in isolation, without talking too much to the existing team, so she did.


A Very Personal Role

by in CodeSOD on

Nohemi has a program which needs to apply role-based security. Due to their organizational needs, the rules for role names are a bit unusual. Some roles have to be a case-insensitive match. But some roles have a more flexible pattern they need to have. This is how her co-worker implemented this:

public static String decodeRole(String role) { String decodedRole = ""; if (role != null && !role.trim().equals("")) { if (role.trim().equalsIgnoreCase(ROLE_1_STRING)) decodedRole = CODE_ROLE_1; else if (role.trim().equalsIgnoreCase(ROLE_2_STRING)) decodedRole = CODE_ROLE_2; else if (role.trim().equalsIgnoreCase(ROLE_3_STRING)) decodedRole = CODE_ROLE_3; else if (personalContains(role.trim(), ROLE_4_STRING)) decodedRole = CODE_ROLE_4; } return decodedRole; }

What Am I?

by in Representative Line on

Object oriented programming is the weapon of choice for many programmers, and when wielded properly, you can often rely on a mix of convention and strong types to make it clear what type of object you’re working with. Sometimes though, you need to check. In a language like Java, you have the instanceof operator, a boolean comparison which answers if obj instanceof SomeClass. Seeing a lot of that in a codebase is a clear code smell.

Sometimes, though, not seeing it is the code smell.


Never Refuse a Fifth

by in CodeSOD on

Sometimes, you want your dates to look like this: 3/3/2019. Other times, you want them to look like this: 03/03/2019.

There are plenty of wrong ways to do this. There are far fewer right ways to do it, and they mostly boil down to “use your language’s date library.”


Sorting Out a Late Night

by in CodeSOD on

Karl’s trials of crunch (previously) didn’t end with a badly written brain-fart. After too many consecutive late nights, Karl noticed that their grid layout was wrong.

It did this:

AlphaBeta
DeltaGamma

How The Semester Ends

by in Feature Articles on

Ginger recently finished an advanced degree, and during her work, she of course had to work as a TA for a number of classes. Computer science professors are, at least in theory, capable of programming, and thus can build automation around assignments- providing students with templates to highlight specific tools and techniques, or to automate the process of grading.

Dr. Buchler taught the computer graphics course, and the ultimate assignment was to build a simple 3D game. Buchler provided a pre-scaffolded project with a set of templates that could be filled in, so the students didn’t need to worry about a lot of the boilerplate. Beyond that, Buchler didn’t offer much guidance about how students should collaborate, so students did what came naturally: they set up git repos and shared code that way.


Assert Yourself

by in CodeSOD on

Chris V does compliance testing. This often means they trace through logic in code to ensure that very specific conditions about the code’s behavior and logic are met. This creates unusual situations, where they might have access to specific and relevant pieces of code, but not the entire codebase. If they spot something unusual, but not within the boundaries of their compliance tests, they just pass on by it.

One of the C++ code bases Chris had to go through featured this “defensive” pattern everywhere.


One Way to Solve a Bug

by in CodeSOD on

Startups go through a number of phases, and one specific phase is the transition from "just get it done and worry about the consequences tomorrow" into "wait, maybe if we actually did some planning and put some process around what we do, we won't constantly be one step behind the current disaster."

And that's when they start to hire people who have more management experience, but are also technical enough that they can contribute to the product directly. At BK's company, the latest hire in that category is Sylvester.


The Most Secure Option

by in Feature Articles on

“The auditors have finished examining our codebase.”

That was how Randy’s boss started the meeting, and she delivered the line like a doctor who just got the tests back, and is trying to break the news gently.


Time Dilation

by in Representative Line on

A good variable name is clear and specific about what the variable does. But sometimes you can have a variable name that's perhaps a little too specific. Victoria found this representative line of Rust code:

let threeseconds = time::Duration::from_secs(60);

A Botched Escape

by in CodeSOD on

Nancy was recently handed a pile of "modern" PHP that weighs in at tens of thousands of lines of code.

This is how every query is executed: