Remy Porter

Remy is a veteran developer who provides software for architectural installations with IonTank.

He's often on stage, doing improv comedy, but insists that he isn't doing comedy- it's deadly serious. You're laughing at him, not with him. That, by the way, is usually true- you're laughing at him, not with him.

An Ugly Mutation

by in CodeSOD on

If there’s a hell for programmers, it probably involves C-style strings on some level. C’s approach to strings is rooted in arrays, and arrays are rooted in pointers, and now suddenly everything is memory manipulation, and incautious printf and memcpy commands cause buffer overruns. I'm oversimplifying and leaving out some of the better libraries that make this less painful, but the roots remain the same.

Fortunately, most of the time, we’re not working with that sort of string representation. If you’re using a high-level language, like Java, you get all sorts of perks, like abstract string methods, no concerns about null termination, and immutability by default.

String Up Your Replacement

by in CodeSOD on

Generating SQL statements is a necessary feature of many applications. String concatenation is the most obvious, and also the most wrong way to do this. Most APIs these days offer a way to construct SQL statements out of higher-level abstractions, whether we’re talking about .NET’s LINQ, or the QueryBuilder objects in many languages.

But let’s say you’re doing string concatenation. This means you need to have lots of literals in your code. And literal values, as we know, are bad. So we need to avoid these magic values by storing them in variables.

A Military Virus

by in Feature Articles on

The virus threats we worried about in the late 90s are quite different than the one we're worrying about in 2020, because someone looked at word processors and said, "You know what that needs? That needs a full fledged programming language I can embed in documents."

Alex was a sailor for the US Navy, fresh out of boot, and working for the Defense Information School. The school taught sailors to be journalists, which meant really learning how to create press releases and other public affairs documents. The IT department was far from mature, and they had just deployed the latest version of Microsoft Word, which created the perfect breeding ground for macro viruses.

Deep VB

by in CodeSOD on

Thomas had an application which was timing out. The code which he sent us has nothing to do with why it was timing out, but it provides a nice illustration of why timeouts and other bugs are a common “feature” of the application.

The codebase contains 9000+ line classes, functions with hundreds of lines, and no concept of separation of function. So, when someone needed to look at an account number and decide if that account needs special handling, this is what they did:

GUID Enough, I Guess

by in CodeSOD on

Philemon Eichin has a depressing problem: his codebase is full of WTFs and git blame always returns his name. It's not his fault! Before he joined the team, "source control" was "a zip file named

Periodically, he'll trawl through the codebase, tracking down ugly, bad code and fixing it, as a way to cut down on how many WTFs are attached to his name.


by in Representative Line on

Five years ago, someone at Adam’s company made a commit. Like all good commits, it touched 200 individual files and 3,500 lines of code, and the commit message was simply: “Fixed”.

One of those 200 files was a .h header file, declaring a long pile of function prototypes. One of them is this one. It has no implementation, and isn’t used anywhere:

Dating for Three Months

by in CodeSOD on

Nathaniel P writes: “We have long agreed never to ask ‘why’ for any code in this project. We can only speculate, and therein lies madness.”

There’s a lot to speculate about in this block. Like so much bad code, it touches upon that favorite source of bad code: date handling. And, at its core, this code is actually fine, but it still puzzles us:

Request for Quote

by in CodeSOD on

Once upon a time, a client needed Initech to develop a custom tool for them. It would be mildly complex to develop, in terms of developer hours, and in respect of that, the client offered a budget of zero dollars. “But,” they added, “we are looking to do a major upgrade later this year.”

The hint came through loud and clear. Since the development teams charged billable hours, the boss didn’t want to run the project through the usual channels. Besides, there were perfectly good internal development resources, who maintained the internal SharePoint site.