Classic WTF: Gaming the System

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Our summer break continues. For some people, summer means outdoor fun. If, like me, you hate sun and temperatures above "chilly", it can instead mean air-conditioned indoor fun. And it's all fun and games until someone loses their job. Original. -- Remy

Frank slammed his axe into his co-worker's skull. Ernest grunted and raised his double-barreled shotgun in reply. "Merry Christmas!" he shouted as he fired both barrels. Frank exploded into several gore-colored polygons.

"Jerk," Frank grumbled as he waited for his respawn. It was late Decemeber, 1997, an era of before thumb-drives and when Quake was the best deathmatch money could buy. Normally, such lunch-time and break-time violence was frowned upon, but it was the holidays. When most of the office is on vacation, and the people that aren't just need to keep the lights on and not make trouble, you can get away with those sorts of things, so long as you uninstall it after the New Year. They Quaked away through the holidays.

Classic WTF: The Great Code Spawn

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We're taking a little summer break this week for our regular articles. Since we're re-using articles, let's start with one about developer efficiency. Why write code when you can automate writing code? Original -- Remy

Several years ago, Dan D’s predecessor, Steve, came to the realization that many of us arrived at one point or another: writing data-access code can get boring and repetitive. To ease the tedium, Steve did what many developers in his position do. He wrote some code to generate a lot of code.

Unfortunately, Steve’s coding skills weren’t all too hot. Worse were his code-writing-code writing skills. In the years since The Great Code Spawn (as it has come to be known), the data-access layer has become an unmaintainable disaster – so much so that, rather than add a new database column, developers have “split” single fields into multiple through bit-shifting and string manipulation.

Some Sunny Day

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Filter Your Kwargs

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Mark's team needed someone to write a pretty straight-forward report for their Python application. It would take a set of keyword arguments, turn those into a filter, apply the filter, and get the results back.

This was implemented in two methods. First:

World Class Contracting

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The time and effort needed to complete a project and the amount of time available rarely line up well. Wayne M's company found themselves in a position where what they needed to deliver and what they could deliver by the deadline simply didn't match up.

The requirements were well specified, so they bundled up a bunch of requirements for search-related functionality, and handed them off to a self-described "world class" developer working on contract.

A Date With Yourself

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Once upon a time, someone wanted to add a banner to a web page. They also wanted the banner to only appear after a certain date. Jack stumbled across their implementation when trying to understand why the banner would vanish for two weeks at the start of every month.

// get date var MyDate = new Date(); var MyDateString; MyDate.setDate(MyDate.getDate()); MyDateString = ('0' + MyDate.getDate()).slice(-2) + '-' + ('0' + (MyDate.getMonth()+1)).slice(-2) + '-' + MyDate.getFullYear(); if (MyDateString > '13-04-2014') { // do stuff... }

Experience is Integral

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Behind every code WTF is a process WTF. For example, Charles W was recently tasked with updating some file-handling code to match changes in the underlying file-format it parses. This is the C code which parses an integer:

if ((*p == '-' || ('0' <= *p && '9' >= *p)) && retCode == -256) { retCode = 0; p = _tcsrev(p); if (*p == ' ') p++; for (i = 0; '0' <= *p && '9' >= *p; i++) { retCode += (int)pow(10, (double)i) * ((int)*p - 0x30); p++; } if (*p == '-') retCode *= -1; }


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It's been quite a few years since I was last in Silicon Valley. So it wouldn't surprise me at all if some enterprising restaurateur has unveiled a trendy pub and stolen all the humorous thunder from Sean's submission. I'll be more surprised if they haven't.