Recent Articles

Jan 2019

The Pair of All Sums

by in CodeSOD on

Learning about data structures- when to use them, how to use them, and why- is a make-or-break moment for a lot of programmers. Some programmers master this. Some just get as far as hash maps and call it a day, and some… get inventive.

Let’s say, for example, that you’re Jim J’s coworker. You have an object called a Closing. A Closing links two Entrys. This link is directed, so entry 1->2 is one Closing, while 2->1 is another. In real-world practice, though, two Closings that are linked together in both directions should generally be interacted with as pairs. So, 1->2 and 2->1 may not be the same object, but they’re clearly related.

Ternt Up GUID

by in CodeSOD on

UUIDs and GUIDs aren’t as hard as dates, but boy, do they get hard, don’t they. Just look at how many times they come up. It’s hard to generate a value that’s guaranteed to be unique. And there’s a lot of ways to do it- depending on your needs, there are some UUIDs that can be sorted sequentially, some which can be fully random, some which rely on hash algorithms, and so on.

Of course, that means, for example, your UUIDs aren’t sequential. Even with time-based, they’re not in sequence. They’re just sortable.

Switch the Dropdown

by in CodeSOD on

Bogdan Olteanu picked up a simple-sounding bug. There was a drop-down list in the application which was missing a few entries. Since this section of the app wasn't data-driven, that meant someone messed up when hard-coding the entries into the dropdown.

Bogdan was correct. Someone messed up, alright.

Crushing Performance

by in Feature Articles on

IBM-qwert keyboard

Many years ago, Sebastian worked for a company which sold self-assembled workstations and servers. One of the company's top clients ordered a server as a replacement for their ancient IBM PS/2 Model 70. The new machine ran Windows NT Server 4.0 and boasted an IPC RAID controller, along with other period-appropriate bells and whistles. Sebastian took a trip out to the client site and installed the new server in the requested place: a table in front of the receptionist's desk, accessible by anyone walking through the main entrance. Not the best location from a security standpoint, but one of the new server's primary tasks in life would be to serve the company's telephone directory, installed on CD-ROM. Server Migration Complete

by in Announcements on

If you're reading this message, then it means that I managed to successfully migrate and the related settings from our old server ( to the new server (

Shameless plug: I did all of this by setting up a configuration role in our internally-hosted Otter instance for both old and new servers (to make sure configuration was identical), deploying the last successful build to the new server using our internally-hosted BuildMaster instance, and then manually installing the certificate and configuring the database.

Next Stop...Errortown

by in Error'd on

"Rather than tell me when the next train is supposed to arrive, this electronic sign is helpfully informing me that something's IP address is...disabled?" Ashley A. writes.

Certifiable Success

by in CodeSOD on

“Hey, apparently, the SSL cert on our web-service expired… in 2013.”

Laura’s company had a web-service that provided most of their business logic, and managed a suite of clients for interacting with that service. Those clients definitely used SSL to make calls to that web-service. And Laura knew that there were a bunch of calls to ValidateServerCertificate as part of the handshaking process, so they were definitely validating it, right?

It Only Crashes When It Works

by in Representative Line on

We already know that Kara’s office has a problem with strings. Kara’s back again, with more string related troubles.

These troubles are a bit worse, once we add in some history. You see, some of their software does machine control. That is to say, it sends commands to some bit of machinery, which then moves or extrudes or does whatever the machine does. Kara wasn’t specific, only granted that this machine was neither large enough or mean enough to kill someone. Minor cuts, burns, scrapes, bruises and damage to the equipment itself is still possible, but nobody will die.

CSS (Under)Performance

by in Feature Articles on

Heterobranchia composite 02

Ah, WordPress. If you hadn't heard of it by reputation, it sounds pretty good: one platform where you can build a blog, an e-commerce site, an app, or some combination of all of the above. Their site is slick, and their marketing copy sounds impressive: "Beautiful designs, powerful features, and the freedom to build anything you want. WordPress is both free and priceless at the same time." With WordPress, the hype insists, anyone can build a website without having to know anything about coding. Just pick a template, add free modules, and it'll look great without any effort.

Without Compare

by in CodeSOD on

Operator overloading is a messy prospect. In theory, it means that you can naturally extend a language so that you can operate on objects naturally. An introductory CS class might have students implement a Ratio or Fraction class, then overload arithmetic operators so you can (a + b).reduce().

In practice, it means you use the bitshift operator also as the stream insertion operator. Thanks C++.

All Aboard the System Bus

by in Error'd on

"The classic 'If transportation had evolved at the same pace as computers...' comparison is no longer merely academic as this TTC streetcar proudly displays it's nearing 32K RAM," Carlos writes.

Is Num? I'm Numb

by in CodeSOD on

"The hurrider I go, the behinder I get," is one of the phrases I like to trot out any time a project schedule slips and a PHB or PM decides the solution is either crunch or throwing more bodies at the project.

Karl had one of those bosses, and ended up in the deep end of crunch. Of course, when that happens, mistakes happen, and everything gets further behind, or you're left with a mountain of technical debt because you forgot that Integer.TryParse was a function in C#.

Innumerable Enum

by in Representative Line on

Ah, the enumerated type. At its core, it's really just a compile-time check to ensure that this constant containing 1 isn't getting confused with this other constant, also containing 1.

We usually ignore the actual numbers in our enums, though not always. Perhaps, though, we should just pay more attention to them in general, that way we don't end up with code like Andrew found.

2018: Another Bitmask Fail

by in Best of… on
To wrap up our best-of year in review, here's yet another case where a simple problem is solved using simple tools, and everything still turns out entirely wrong. Original. And a happy New Year to you all! -- Remy

Sucre blanc cassonade complet rapadura

As we've seen previously, not all government jobs are splashy. Someone has to maintain, for example, the database that keeps track of every legal additive to food so that paranoid hippies can call them liars and insist they all cause cancer and autism. Today's submitter, Cass, had just released an update when users started getting the dreaded blue Internal Error screen—never a good start to the week.