Paycheque

by in Error'd on

There are an infinite variety of ways to be wrong, but only very small number of ways to be right.

Patient Peter W. discovers that MS Word is of two minds about English usage. "Microsoft Word just can't seem to agree with itself on how to spell paycheck/pay check." Faithful readers know it's even worse than that.


To Tell the Truth

by in CodeSOD on

So many languages eschew "truth" for "truthiness". Today, we're looking at PHP's approach.

PHP automatically coerces types to a boolean with some fairly simple rules:

  • the boolean false is false
  • the integer 0 is false, as is the float 0.0 and -0.0.
  • empty strings and the string "0" are false
  • arrays with no elements are false
  • NULL is false
  • objects may also override the cast behavior to define their own
  • everything else is true

Terminated By Nulls

by in CodeSOD on

Strings in C are a unique collection of mistakes. The biggest one is the idea of null termination. Null termination is not without its advantages: because you're using a single byte to mark the end of the string, you can have strings of arbitrary length. No need to track the size and worry if your size variable is big enough to hold the end of the string. No complicated data structures. Just "read till you find a 0 byte, and you know you're done."

Of course, this is the root of a lot of evils. Malicious inputs that lack a null terminator, for example, are a common exploit. It's so dangerous that all of the str* functions have strn* versions, which allow you to pass sizes to ensure you don't overrun any buffers.


Two Pizzas for ME

by in Feature Articles on

Gloria was a senior developer at IniMirage, a company that makes custom visualizations for their clients. Over a few years, IniMirage had grown to more than 100 people, but was still very much in startup mode. Because of that, Gloria tried to keep her teams sized for two pizzas. Thomas, the product manager, on the other hand, felt that the company was ready to make big moves, and could scale up the teams: more people could move products faster. And Thomas was her manager, so he was "setting direction."

Gloria's elderly dog had spent the night at the emergency vet, and the company hadn't grown up to "giving sick days" yet, so she was nursing a headache from lack of sleep, when Thomas tried to initiate a Slack huddle. He had a habit of pushing the "Huddle" button any time the mood struct, without rhyme or reason.


They Key To Dictionaries

by in CodeSOD on

It's incredibly common to convert objects to dictionaries/maps and back, for all sorts of reasons. Jeff's co-worker was tasked with taking a dictionary which contained three keys, "mail", "telephonenumber", and "facsimiletelephonenumber" into an object representing a contact. This was their solution:

foreach (string item in _ptAttributeDic.Keys)
{
string val = _ptAttributeDic[item];
switch (item)
{
    case "mail":
    if (string.IsNullOrEmpty(base._email))
        base._email = val;
    break;
    case "facsimiletelephonenumber":
    base._faxNum = val;
    break;
    case "telephonenumber":
    base._phoneNumber = val;
    break;
}
}

Past Imperfect

by in Error'd on

A twitchy anonymous reporter pointed out that our form validation code is flaky. He's not wrong. But at least it can report time without needing emoticons! :-3

That same anon sent us the following, explaining "Folks at Twitch are very brave. So brave, they wrote their own time math."


A Valid Applicant

by in CodeSOD on

In the late 90s into the early 2000s, there was an entire industry spun up to get businesses and governments off their mainframe systems from the 60s and onto something modern. "Modern", in that era, usually meant Java. I attended vendor presentations, for example, that promised that you could take your mainframe, slap a SOAP webservice on it, and then gradually migrate modules off the mainframe and into Java Enterprise Edition. In the intervening years, I have seen exactly 0 successful migrations like this- usually they just end up trying that for a few years and then biting the bullet and doing a ground-up rewrite.

That's is the situation ML was in: a state government wanted to replace their COBOL mainframe monster with a "maintainable" J2EE/WebSphere based application. Gone would be the 3270 dumb terminals, and here would be desktop PCs running web browsers.


Gotta Catch 'Em All

by in CodeSOD on

It's good to handle any exception that could be raised in some useful way. Frequently, this means that you need to take advantage of the catch block's ability to filter by type so you can do something different in each case. Or you could do what Adam's co-worker did.

try
{
/* ... some important code ... */
} catch (OutOfMemoryException exception) {
        Global.Insert("App.GetSettings;", exception.Message);
} catch (OverflowException exception) {
        Global.Insert("App.GetSettings;", exception.Message);
} catch (InvalidCastException exception) {
        Global.Insert("App.GetSettings;", exception.Message);
} catch (NullReferenceException exception) {
        Global.Insert("App.GetSettings;", exception.Message);
} catch (IndexOutOfRangeException exception) {
        Global.Insert("App.GetSettings;", exception.Message);
} catch (ArgumentException exception) {
        Global.Insert("App.GetSettings;", exception.Message);
} catch (InvalidOperationException exception) {
        Global.Insert("App.GetSettings;", exception.Message);
} catch (XmlException exception) {
        Global.Insert("App.GetSettings;", exception.Message);
} catch (IOException exception) {
        Global.Insert("App.GetSettings;", exception.Message);
} catch (NotSupportedException exception) {
        Global.Insert("App.GetSettings;", exception.Message);
} catch (Exception exception) {
        Global.Insert("App.GetSettings;", exception.Message);
}

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