Anno Domini

by in Error'd on

Buffalo, New York is a recovering Rust Belt city which has given the world several notable achievements. First, a fairly forgettable sliced meat sandwich au jus more known for its barely edible stale roll than for the entirely unremarkable beef entombed within. Second, an innovative repurposing of a castoff fowl appendage into a drunkard's delicacy (and Mlle Simpson's famed befuddlement). Most of all, it's indispensable for the construction of a lighthearted linguistic shibboleth: Buffalo buffalo buffalo buffalo... and so on. Unfortunately, the city also brings us bad news this week.

But first, Tony H. reminds us of a famously scandal-ridden bank. Theirs might not have been the worst fraud in 2016 (or 2017, or 2018, or 2019) but apparently they're now tightening down the screws on consumer lending. Tony observes, frostily, "a credit card with a limit below zero is alarming even for Wells Fargo."

Submit Your Vacation

by in Feature Articles on

"We have an internal website that shows, among other things, the daily availability of my coworkers for the next three months to help with scheduling, especially when planning vacations," writes Alexander.

"This vacation planner data is represented as a table. An image of a table to be more precise."

Heading On Out

by in CodeSOD on

Madeline inherited some Python 2.7 code, with an eye towards upgrading it to a more modern Python version. This code generates CSV files, and it's opted to do this by cramming everything into a 2D array in memory and then dumping the array out with some join operations, and that's the real WTF, because that's a guaranteed way to generate invalid CSV files. Like so many things, the CSV files are actually way more complicated than people think.

But we're going to focus in on a smaller subset of this pile of WTFs. I'll lead with the caveat from Madeline: "I've changed some of the variable names around, for a bit of anonymity, but couldn't get variable names quite as terrible as the original ones."

Show Thumbnails?

by in CodeSOD on

Christopher Walker continues to struggle against ancient PHP applications in the automotive industry. With the point system behind him, there was a whole pile of internal applications for handling information about laws, misconceptions about the law, and other driver services.

One, a home-grown CMS, was useful for publishing blog-style content about changes in the law. There was just one problem: if a post was published without a thumbnail, attempts to view that post failed with an error. It wasn't hard to find the offending line.


by in CodeSOD on

There's an old saying in programming: you don't have to spell correctly, you only have to spell consistently. As long as you mispell everything the same way, your language will understand your code. However, most editors and IDEs have spell-check integration, though, because it's hard to get everyone on a team to spell things wrong consistently.

Unless, of course, you know just implement some bonus methods, like John's co-worker. This was frequently spammed in the Java codebase:

Classic WTF: Pure Eval

by in CodeSOD on
We close out our week with something evil. Someting… eval. Original. --Remy

When Jeff saw a line like this one, he knew there was something terribly wrong in the code he had inherited.


Classic WTF: GHOST Busted

by in Feature Articles on
We're wrapping up our vacation week with a look at something really scary. A GHOST. A spooky GHOST, not the Swedish metal band, which isn't really spooky. Original. --Remy

Some developers look at a problem and say, “Let’s solve it. With code!” Then there are other developers, who say, “This specific problem is a subset of a general class of problem, which, if we solve the general class, will automatically solve the specific class.” The best programmers know when it’s time to keep it simple, and when they really should shoot for the stars.

Chris worked for a startup run by former academics. They wanted to shoot for the stars, some black holes, and maybe, if there was budget left over, the primordial galaxies that formed after the Big Bang. They had an idea for a product which would… well, Chris had no idea what it did.

The vision was codenamed SPRIT. Walter, the wizard behind it, couldn’t explain its purpose in terms anyone else understood. The only thing he could explain was that SPIRIT needed to be implemented in the in-house language, GHOST. “It’s a joke,” Walter explained once, “It stands for ‘Generic Hybrid Script for Transactional Objects’. The acronym is out of order because GHOST is all about parallel processing. It’s funny.”

Classic WTF: Back That Thang Up

by in Feature Articles on
We're still away for our summer break, skimming our inbox and horrified by all the things you're sending us. Keep doing it. Speaking of horrors, this one's about backups. You know what's about to happen… Original. -- Remy

It ain't easy being number one, especially for R.B.'s company. With €730 million in annual revenues, they're the leader in a relatively small (€1.6 billion) niche market and are constantly struggling to maintain their dominance amongst a handful of vicious competitors. Recently, an executive at the company came up with an astonishingly brilliant plan that would ensure that they stayed on top for many years to come. This plan was named The Convergence.

The Convergence was, in all seriousness, a really good idea. It represented a completely new way of doing business that relied heavily on technology and its ability to integrate the supply chain with the customer experience. It would do nothing short of revolutionizing their entire industry, leaving their competitors struggling just to stay afloat.