Phil Pennock

A SASsy Import

by in CodeSOD on

After ten minutes of Mike staring at the screen unmoving, Jill sighed. As the newly minted tech lead, she knew that she had to help unwedge problems. But she also knew that Mike had been tasked with a task which should have been simple, had the project been developed in their team. Alas, it had been thrown over the wall for them to maintain, as a “reward” for cleaning up so much else.

The calculations for generating quotes for customers were, for some complex scenarios, quoting too low; they were missing some items. The originators of the quote system had used Excel, so there was probably a hard-coded range to be updated. She’d asked Mike to fix it, create a playbook for this system and create a ticket sketching out what might be needed to make the system more resilient and maintainable. Excel would still be required, for the actuaries wouldn’t hand over formulae in anything else, but perhaps some jiggling into independent sheets and just running summaries over “the whole sheet” would reduce the pain. Jill had thoroughly cautioned Mike that he did not want, at this point, to discover the paperwork and bureaucracy to change how the calculations were performed, so the only changes to be made in this first approach were to be the minimum necessary, while keeping the style and solution intact.

Elliptical Curveball

by in CodeSOD on

Why is it that you hear people saying, “don’t roll your own crypto”? It can’t be that bad, right? I mean, if the code gives the correct outputs when given the correct inputs?

Everything in cryptography depends upon “high quality” random numbers, and lots of them. People get into semi-informed flamewars about what “entropy” means, government agencies sneak backdoors into algorithms, performance matters, secrecy matters, and unpredictability matters. The standard which defines four randomness generators is NIST Special Publication 800–90. One of the four raised suspicions because it (Dual_EC_DRBG) was three times slower than any of the others.