Recent Feature Articles

Oct 2016

The Contractor

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As developers, we often find ourselves working in stupid ways because the folks who were hired above/before us think that what they set up is ideal. While this happens in numerous industries, finance, especially at huge conglomerates, takes IT/Software-WTF to a whole new level. As contractors, we often get the we need your help in an emergency even though everything is unicorns and rainbows speech that precedes some meltdown for which they want you to take the blame.


After taking a contract position at a large financial company, Bryan T. expected to see some amazing things. On the interview, they talked a big game and had even bigger budgets. It didn't take long to see some amazing things; but not the kind of amazing you'd think.

The Case of the Missing Signal

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Satellite dish in Austria

"My satellite connection is down," reported the user on the phone. "Can you help me?"

Guaranteed LOC PITA

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Linux kernel loc

The task Tama set out to accomplish was rather straightforward. One of the clients had a legacy inventory management application, and they needed a simple text field added to an entry form.

All Zipped Up

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Moving to version control is hard. It's a necessary step as a company grows into developing more complex software, with more developers working on the various products, but that doesn't make it any easier. Like all change, it's often delayed far too long, half-assed, and generally resented until everyone's forgotten about the indignity and moved on to complaining about the next improvement.


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Brent, who had started at JavaChip in QA several years ago, was tapped for “real” work with the core development team. On the day of his transfer, he gathered his things from his desk in a cardboard box, told his teammates in QA that he’d continue to see them for D&D at lunch, and trekked down the hall to the larger office.

After finding his new desk, he went to find Karla, his team lead. As it turned out, Karla had called in sick, but she had sent Brent an email from home. Get settled in, she wrote. Our repo’s on the company git server. Make sure you have Maven and IntelliJ installed on your machine. Everything else is in the file.


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Given the rise of the internet in the mid 1990's, various events and companies led up to Adobe releasing Flash. Not to be out done, in the mid noughts, Microsoft created their own version called Silverlight. Somewhere down the road, Facebook, Instagram and others put forth React. These can sit on top of a webservice, like, for example, WCF to make it easier for web-facing programs to call home to interact with back-end applications to do useful things like display videos of cats being, well, cats. Occasionally, folks even attempt to use these tools to provide access to business applications.

Some time back, Fred became a hired-gun/consultant/architect to a small financial company to help them replace a dying 150K LOC Silverlight UI with a React front-end, and the underlying WCF API (named Rest.Services for some reason). This allegedly trivial task was budgeted to take three months. Ten months down the road, Silverlight and the underlying code base were way ahead on points while the battle raged on. Eventually, management acquiesced and allowed the entire UI to be rewritten from scratch. The back-end, however...