Alex Papadimoulis

Alex is a speaker and writer who is passionate about looking beyond the code to build great software. In addition to founding Inedo - the makers of BuildMaster, the popular continuous delivery platform - Alex also started The Daily WTF, a fun site dedicated to building software the wrong way.

Classic WTF: Manager of the Data Dump

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It's a holiday in the US, where we catalog the things we're thankful for. I'm thankful that developers collectively learned to understand how databases work, and didn't start releasing databases that stored flexible documents with no real schema and could just be used as a data dump. That would be terrible! This classic WTF illustrates that. Originally. --Remy

J.T. is not well liked amongst the developers at his organization. As a Database Administrator, it's J.T's job to make sure that database structures and queries maintain data integrity and do not put an unnecessarily load on the server. This often gets in the way of the developers, who prefer to think of the database as a giant dump site where data gets thrown and is rummaged through to be retrieved. Things like "indexes," "valid data," and "naming conventions" are merely obstacles put in place by J.T. to make their life harder.

Generally, the submission-review-rejection procedure happens once or twice with most of the developers. But one particular developer -- a newly hired ".NET Wizard" named Frank -- turns the procedure into a daily cycle that drags on for several weeks. Following is Frank's reply to the first in a chain of rejections on a project that Frank was leading up ...


Overlapping Complexity

by in CodeSOD on

After his boss left the company, Joel C was promoted to team lead. This meant that Joel was not only responsible for their rather large production codebase, but also for interviewing new potential team members. There are a ton of coding questions that one can ask in a technical interview, and Joel figured he should ask one that they actually solve in their application: given two unordered sets of timestamps, calculate how much overlap (if any) is between the two series.

If you think about it for a minute, it's really quite simple: first, find the minimum and maximum values for each set to get the start and end times (e.g. [01:08:01,01:09:55] and [01:04:11,01:09:42]). Then, subtract the later start time (01:08:01) from the earlier end time (01:09:42) to get the overlap (01:09:42 - 01:08:01 = 00:01:41). A non-positive result would indicate there's no overlap (such as 12:00:04 - 13:11:43), and in that case, it should probably just be zero. Or, in a single line of code:


What Lives Beyond the Blue Screen (2019)

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As promised in the sneak peak, we have a very special Halloween feature planned for today! What Lives Beyond the Blue Screen is an animated story by Lorne Kates (voiced by Jack Rhysider), made in collaboration with our new friends at Human Readable Magazine:

An everyday programmer decides to clean up the mess of his company's infrastructure before the big merger only to accidentally run the wrong command on the wrong location. Join the adventure as they rush to fix the mistake before they bring down the entire company.


Sneak Peak: What Lives Beyond the Blue Screen

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I’m totally stoked for what we have brewing for Halloween. It’s called What Lives Beyond the Blue Screen, and we’ve got a fun sneak peak for you:


First Annual Developer Mentorship Survey

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Nearly fifteen years ago, I wrote Pounding A Nail: Old Shoe or Glass Bottle?. It opened by asking how one might respond to the following question:

A client has asked me to build and install a custom shelving system. I'm at the point where I need to nail it, but I'm not sure what to use to pound the nails in. Should I use an old shoe or a glass bottle?


Classic WTF: Hyperlink 2.0

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It's Labor Day in the US, where we celebrate the workers of the world by having a barbecue. Speaking of work, in these days of web frameworks and miles of unnecessary JavaScript to do basic things on the web, let's look back at a simpler time, where we still used server-side code and miles of unnecessary JavaScript to do basic things on the web. Original. --Remy

For those of you who haven't upgraded to Web 2.0 yet, today's submission from Daniel is a perfect example of what you're missing out on. Since the beginning of the Web (the "1.0 days"), website owners have always wanted to know who was visiting their website, how often, and when. Back then, this was accomplished by recording each website "hit" in a log file and running a report on the log later.

But the problem with this method in Web 2.0 is that people don't use logs anymore; they use blogs, and everyone knows that blogs are a pretty stupid way of tracking web traffic. Fortunately, Daniel's colleagues developed an elegant, clever, and -- most importantly -- "AJAX" way of solving this problem. Instead of being coded in HTML pages, all hyperlinks are assigned a numeric identifier and kept in a database table. This identifier is then used on the HTML pages within an anchor tag:


Classic WTF: The Backup Snippet

by in Representative Line on
It's "Independence Day" here in the US, which is the day in which developers celebrate their independence from DBAs and switch everything over to NoSQL, no matter what the cost. Or something like that, the history is a little fuzzy. But it's a holiday here, so in honor of that, here's a related story. Original --Remy

Generally speaking, Andrew tries his best to avoid the DBA team. It's not just because database administrators tend to be a unique breed (his colleagues were certainly no exception), but because of the "things" that he'd heard about the team. The sort of "things" that keep developers up at night and make them regret not becoming an accountant.

One day, while debugging an issue with their monitoring scripts, Andrew had no choice but to check with Thom, a member of Team DBA. It turned out that one of DBA's had recently updated their database backup script, but Thom wasn't really sure who did it, why it was done, or what it looked like before. So, he just sent Andrew the entire backup script.


Classic WTF: The not-so-efficient StringBuilder

by in CodeSOD on
As our short summer break continues, this one is from waaaaay back, but it's yet another example of how seemingly simple tasks and seemingly simple data-types can be too complicated sometimes. Original--Remy

The .NET developers out there have likely heard that using a StringBuilder is a much better practice than string concatenation. Something about strings being immutable and creating new strings in memory for every concatenation. But, I'm not sure that this (as found by Andrey Shchekin) is what they had in mind ...


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