Recent Articles

Mar 2024

Good Enough Friday

by in Error'd on

We've got some of the rarer classic Error'd types today: events from the dawn of time, weird definitions of space, and this absolutely astonishing choice of cancel/confirm button text.

Perplexed Stewart found this and it's got me completely befuddled as well! "Puzzled over this classic type of Error'd for ages. I really have no clue whether I should press Yes or No."

Sorts of Dates

by in CodeSOD on

We've seen loads of bad date handling, but as always, there's new ways to be surprised by the bizarre inventions people come up with. Today, Tim sends us some bad date sorting, in PHP.

    // Function to sort follow-ups by Date
    function cmp($a, $b)  {
        return strcmp(strtotime($a["date"]), strtotime($b["date"]));
    // Sort the follow-ups by Date
    usort($data, "cmp");

Never Retire

by in CodeSOD on

We all know that 2038 is going to be a big year. In a mere 14 years, a bunch of devices are going to have problems.

Less known is the Y2030 problem, which is what Ventsislav fighting to protect us from.

Exceptional String Comparisons

by in CodeSOD on

As a general rule, I will actually prefer code that is verbose and clear over code that is concise but makes me think. I really don't like to think if I don't have to.

Of course, there's the class of WTF code that is verbose, unclear and also really bad, which Thomas sends us today:

Contains a Substring

by in CodeSOD on

One of the perks of open source software is that it means that large companies can and will patch it for their needs. Which means we can see what a particular large electronics vendor did with a video player application.

For example, they needed to see if the URL pointed to a stream protected by WideVine, Vudu, or Netflix. They can do this by checking if the filename contains a certain substring. Let's see how they accomplished this…

You Can Say That Again!

by in Error'd on

In a first for me, this week we got FIVE unique submissions of the exact same bug on LinkedIn. In the spirit of the theme, I dug up a couple of unused submissions of older problems at LinkedIn as well. I guess there are more than the usual number of tech people looking for jobs.

John S., Chris K., Peter C., Brett Nash and Piotr K. all sent in samples of this doublebug. It's a flubstitution AND bad math, together!

Reading is a Safe Operation

by in CodeSOD on

Alex saw, in the company's codebase, a method called recursive_readdir. It had no comments, but the name seemed pretty clear: it would read directories recursively, presumably enumerating their contents.

Fortunately for Alex, they checked the code before blindly calling the method.

Do you like this page? Check [Yes] or [No]

by in CodeSOD on

In the far-off era of the late-90s, Jens worked for a small software shop that built tools for enterprise customers. It was a small shop, and most of the projects were fairly small- usually enough for one developer to see through to completion.

A co-worker built a VB4 (the latest version available) tool that interfaced with an Oracle database. That co-worker quit, and that meant this tool was Jens's job. The fact that Jens had never touched Visual Basic before meant nothing.

A Debug Log

by in CodeSOD on

One would imagine that logging has been largely solved at this point. Simple tasks, like, "Only print this message when we're in debug mode," seem like obvious, well-understood features for any logging library.

"LostLozz offers us a… different approach to this problem.

How About Next Month

by in CodeSOD on

Dave's codebase used to have this function in it:

public DateTime GetBeginDate(DateTime dateTime)
    return new DateTime(dateTime.Year, dateTime.Month, 01).AddMonths(1);

Can't Be Beat

by in Error'd on

Date problems continue again this week as usual, both sublime (Goodreads!) and mundane (a little light time travel). If you want to be frist poster today, you're going to really need that time machine.

Early Bird Dave crowed "Think you're hot for posting the first comment? I posted the zeroth reply to this comment!" You got the worm, Dave.

Query the Contract Status

by in CodeSOD on

Rui recently pulled an all-nighter on a new contract. The underlying system is… complicated. There's a PHP front end, which also talks directly to the database, as well as a Java backend, which also talks to point-of-sale terminals. The high-level architecture is a bit of a mess.

The actual code architecture is also a mess.

Check Your Email

by in Feature Articles on

Branon's boss, Steve, came storming into his cube. From the look of panic on his face, it was clear that this was a full hair-on-fire emergency.

"Did we change anything this weekend?"

Wait for the End

by in CodeSOD on

Donald was cutting a swathe through a jungle of old Java code, when he found this:

protected void waitForEnd(float time) {
	// do nothing

Some Original Code

by in CodeSOD on

FreeBSDGuy sends us a VB .Net snippet, which layers on a series of mistakes:

If (gLang = "en") Then
    If (item.Text.Equals("Original")) Then
        item.Enabled = False
    End If
ElseIf (gLang = "fr") Then
    If (item.Text.Equals("Originale")) Then
        item.Enabled = False
    End If
    If (item.Text.Equals("Original")) Then
        item.Enabled = False
    End If
End If

Time for more leap'd years

by in Error'd on

Inability to properly program dates continued to afflict various websites last week, even though the leap day itself had passed. Maybe we need a new programming language in which it's impossible to forget about timezones, leap years, or Thursday.

Timeless Thomas subtweeted "I'm sure there's a great date-related WTF story behind this tweet" Gosh, I can't imagine what error this could be referring to.

A Bit of a Confession

by in CodeSOD on

Today, John sends us a confession. This is his code, which was built to handle ISO 8583 messages. As we'll see from some later comments, John knows this is bad.

The ISO 8583 format is used mostly in financial transaction processing, frequently to talk to ATMs, but is likely to show up somewhere in any transaction you do that isn't pure cash.

A String of Null Thinking

by in Representative Line on

Today's submitter identifies themselves as pleaseKillMe, which hey, c'mon buddy. Things aren't that bad. Besides, you shouldn't let the bad code you inherit drive you to depression- it should drive you to revenge.

Today's simple representative line is one that we share because it's not just representative of our submitter's code base, but one that shows up surprisingly often.

Moving in a Flash

by in CodeSOD on

It's a nearly universal experience that the era of our youth and early adulthood is where we latch on to for nostalgia. In our 40s, the music we listened to in our 20s is the high point of culture. The movies we watched represent when cinema was good, and everything today sucks.

And, based on the sheer passage of calendar time, we have a generation of adults whose nostalgia has latched onto Flash. I've seen many a thinkpiece lately, waxing rhapsodic about the Flash era of the web. I'd hesitate to project a broad cultural trend from that, but we're roughly about the right time in the technology cycle that I'd expect people to start getting real nostalgic for Flash. And I'll be honest: Flash enabled some interesting projects.

Classical Architecture

by in CodeSOD on

In the great olden times, when Classic ASP was just ASP, there were a surprising number of intranet applications built in it. Since ASP code ran on the server, you frequently needed JavaScript to run on the client side, and so many applications would mix the two- generating JavaScript from ASP. This lead to a lot of home-grown frameworks that were wobbly at best.

Years ago, Melinda inherited one such application from a 3rd party supplier.

Once In A Lifetime

by in Error'd on

Not exactly once, I sincerely hope. That would be tragic.

"Apparently, today's leap day is causing a denial of service error being able to log into our Cemetery Management software due to some bad date calculations," writes Steve D. To be fair, he points out, it doesn't happen often.