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.

A MLearning Process

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If you go by the popular press articles on the tech field, anyone who's anyone has migrated into the "machine learning" space. That's where all the "smart" programmers go.

Of course, ML is really just statistics and automated model fitting. It's a powerful tool, and it does require some highly specialized skills- skills that might involve programming, but maybe don't quite overlap with programming.

Getting Funky

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When RJ was trawling through some SQL Server stored procedure code, they spotted this line:

IF LEN(LTRIM(RTRIM(@funky_interval))) = 0 SET @funky_interval = NULL

Javascript Best Practices

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For those looking to get into software development, there's never been more access to tutorials, guides, training programs, and communities of developers ready to foster those trying to get started.

Unfortunately, you've got folks that think because they've written a few websites, they're ready to teach others, and write up their own tutorials without having the programming background or the educational background to effectively communicate best practices to the public.

A Key to Success

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Sometimes bad code arises from incompetence, whether individual, or more usually institutional. Sometimes it's overly tight deadlines, misguided architecture. And sometimes… it's just the easiest way.

Naomi writes in to confess to some bad code.

Touch of Death

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Unit testing in C offers its own special challenges. Unit testing an application heavily dependent upon threads, written in C, offers even more.

Brian inherited an application where the main loop of the actual application looked something like:

A Specified Integration

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Shipping meaningful data from one company's IT systems to another company's IT systems is one of those problems that's been solved a billion times, with entirely new failure modes each time. EDI alone has a dozen subspecifications and allows data transfer via everything ranging from FTP to email.

When XML made its valiant attempt to take over the world, XML schemas, SOAP and their associated related specifications were going to solve all these problems. If you needed to communicate how to interact with a service, you could publish a WSDL file. Anyone who needed to talk to your service could scrape the WSDL and automatically "learn" how to send properly formatted messages. The WSDL is, in practice, a contract offered by a web service.

A Real Switcheroo

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Much of the stories and code we see here are objectively bad. Many of them are bad when placed into the proper context. Sometimes we're just opinionated. And sometimes, there's just something weird that treads the line between being an abuse of code, and almost being smart. Almost.

Nic was debugging some Curses-based code, and found this "solution" to handling arrow key inputs:

Secure By Design

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Many years ago, I worked for a company that mandated that information like user credentials should never be stored "as plain text". It had to be "encoded". One of the internally-developed HR applications interpreted this as "base64 is a kind of encoding", and stored usernames and passwords in base64 encoding.

Steven recently encountered a… similar situation. Specifically, his company upgraded their ERP system, and reports that used to output taxpayer ID numbers now outputs ~201~201~210~203~… or similar values. He checked the data dictionary for the application, and saw that the taxpayer_id field stored "encrypted" values. Clearly, this data isn't really encrypted.