Recent Articles

May 2019

Planes, Trains, Automobiles, and Errors

by in Error'd on

"Just a friendly confirmation that I really stayed with them 2 months ago," Jeremy W. writes, "Maybe they just noticed they had 500,000 e-mails sitting in their outbox?"

A Committed Parent

by in CodeSOD on

In Java-land, it’s still extremely common for problems to be solved by application of XML. Nowhere is this more true than in Java build processes, which is where Maven and its infamous POM.xml file come into play.

Maven is an opinionated build framework- it requires that your project fit into a certain pattern. It’s also fiendishly complex. It also has some surprising guns with which you can target your own foot.

When the Man's Hash Comes Around

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One of the risks of cloud-hosted or Software-as-a-Service solutions is that someday, the vendor might cease to be. They might become an ex-vendor. Sure, you have a similar risk with an on-prem solution, but at least there you can probably limp along for a decade without ever getting a software update. But with SaaS, when they turn the servers off…

Well, Wolvenhaven's company had a plan. When their SaaS provider announced they were closing up shop, the company bought their source code. Now, what was a service could be brought on-prem, and Wolvenhaven was responsible for doing the code review to see what that would take.

Software Possession

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KUKA Industrial Robot Writer

Jon worked for a small company that specialized in automation of inspection systems: basically the industrial version of home automation, where you glue together a series of disparate automatable parts to create a specialized workflow. Jon was the only software person at his 15-man company. The client was in Russia, and the company was in the USA, so communication went through email and primarily via a client representative, Sam. Sam would gather the requirements verbatim from the client and hand them to Jon; Jon would augment the software to meet their automation needs, and send a new version over to Sam to deliver. It worked, after a fashion. The system was designed to control a robot that mostly opened boxes, picked things up, ran a series of quality checks on the things, and put them back.

Classic WTF: I Am Right and the Entire Industry is Wrong

by in Best of… on
It's a holiday here in the US, and today, we're reaching WAAAAY back into the archives for this holiday treat. The industry IS wrong, and I know which tool I'm making MY next web page in! (Original)--Remy

Originally posted to the Side Bar by Chris, following the response from "Gary" (a manager at his former company) about a question importing Word-HTML into their template system.

Hi Chris,

Abstractions II: Pittsburgh Boogaloo

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I’ve been a big fan of the work Code and Supply has been doing for years, with their focus on building a community for developers, starting in Pittsburgh and expanding their sights. We’ve co-sponsored a number of events, and I’ve personally found jobs and made friends through the organization.

Their first Abstractions conference, in 2016, was easily one of the best conferences I’ve seen, and they’re bringing it back for 2019.

"W" is for ..."WTF"

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"I do my best at teaching my children the basics in life, but then 'educational' toys like this one get in my way," Roger G. writes.

Powerful Trouble

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FSC Primergy TX200 S2 0012

Many years ago, Chris B. worked for a company that made CompactPCI circuit boards. When the spec for hot-swappable boards (i.e., boards that could be added and removed without powering down the system) came out, the company began to make some. Chris became the designated software hot-swap expert.

Do Fiasco

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Consuela works with a senior developer who has been with the company since its founding, has the CEO’s ear, and basically can do anything they want.

These days, what they want to do is code entirely locally on their machine, hand the .NET DLL off to Consuela for deployment, and then complain that their fancy code is being starved for hardware resources.

Tern Failure into a Success

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Oliver Smith stumbled across a small but surprising bug when running some automated tests against a mostly clean code-base. Specifically, they were trying to break things by playing around with different compiler flags and settings. And they did, though in a surprising case.

bool long_name_that_maybe_distracted_someone()

Destroying the Environment

by in Representative Line on

Andrew H sends a line that isn't, on its own, terribly horrifying.

Utilities.isTestEnvironment = !"prd".equals(environment);

Professionals Wanted

by in Error'd on

"Searching for 'Pink Tile Building Materials' in Amazon results in a few 'novelty' items sprinkled in, which, to me, isn't a huge surprise," Brian G. wrote, "But, upon closer inspection...professional installation you say?"

True Confession: Without a Map

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Today, we have the special true confession from Bruce, who wrote some bad code, but at least knows it’s bad.

Bruce is a C# developer. Bruce is not a web developer. Someone around the office, though, had read an article about how TypeScript was closer to “real” languages, like C#, and asked Bruce to do some TypeScript work.

A Problem in the Backend

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Gary works at a medium company. Big enough that workers are specialized in their duty, but small enough to know people in other departments and to make turf wars a little more close and personal: danger close. Most of the departments see themselves as part of a team, but a few individuals see themselves as McCarthy, who will themselves alone save the company and defeat the enemies (who are all spies inside the company sent to destroy it from the inside).

One of these individuals is named Eric. Eric is close to a Kevin. Eric is the front-end developer, and neither likes nor cares about what happens on the backend. Whenever Eric has an issue, he blames the backend. CSS rendering glitch? Backend problem. Browser crash? That’s the backend problem. Slow UI, even when all the data is cached clientside? Definitely a backend problem. Gary used to get mad, but now knows that Eric is so dumb that he doesn’t even know how dumb he is.

Transport Layer Stupidity

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Keith H’s boss came by his cube.

“Hey, you know how our insurance quote site has TLS enabled by default?”

The National Integration

by in CodeSOD on

Sergio works for a regional public administration. About a decade ago, the national government passed some laws or made some regulations, and then sent a software package to all the regional administrations. This software package was built to aggregate reports from the local databases into a single, unified, consistent interface on a national website.

Of course, each regional group did things their own way, so the national software package needed to be customized to work. Also, each regional administration had their own reporting package which already did some of this, and which they liked better, because they already knew how it worked. In the case of Sergio's employer, even more important: their organization's logo was prominently displayed.

From Error to Disaster

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"They're a SEO company, so I'm pretty sure they know what they're doing," Björn E. wrote.

What For?

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Pretty much every language has many ways to do loops/iteration. for and while and foreach and do while and function application and recursion and…

It’s just too many. Mike inherited some code which cleans up this thicket of special cases for iteration and just uses one pattern to solve every iteration problem.

The Master is Simplicity

by in Editor's Soapbox on

When I was in college, as part of the general course requirements we had to take Probability and Statistics. The first time around I found it to be an impenetrable concept beyond my grasp, and I flunked. Since it was a requirement, I took it again and barely skated by. Joy; I had cleared the hurdle!

By that time, it had become clear to me that I was going into a field that required a whole lot more understanding of P&S than I had acquired. Since I wanted to be properly prepared, I signed up for a free summer school course to try it once more.


by in CodeSOD on

C# has always had some variation on “string interpolation”, although starting in C# version 6, they added an operator for it, to make it easier. Now, you can do something like $"{foo} has a {bar}", which can be a very easy to read method of constructing formatted strings. In this example, {foo} and {bar} will be replaced by the value of variables with the same name.

C#’s implementation is powerful. Pretty much any valid C# expression can be placed inside of those {}. Unfortunately for Petr, that includes the string interpolation operator, as a co-worker’s code demonstrates…

If I Failed

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Let's simply start with some code, provided by Adam:

static bool Failed(bool value) { return value; }

Rise of the Sandwich Based Economy

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"When I ordered on Hasbro Pulse's site, I don't remember paying using a large sandwich, we are," writes Zeke.

Switching Daily

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A not uncommon pattern is to use a dictionary, or array as a lookup table in place of a switch or conditional. In some languages, like Python, there is no switch statement, and dictionaries are the main way to imitate that behavior.

In languages like JavaScript, where the line between objects and dictionaries is blurred to the point of non-existence, it’s a common approach. A lot of switch statements can be converted to an object literal with functions as its values, e.g.:

Inching Along

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"Procedures should be as small as possible," is good advice. Like any good advice, you can take it too far.

Mike recently was asked to upgrade a SQL Sever 2000 database to SQL Server 2016. Since this was an upgrade, Mike wasn't supposed to make any changes beyond the necessary changes to make the upgrade work. Still, when he found a bunch of methods with the same basic naming pattern, he had to investigate.