Remy Porter

Remy is a veteran developer who now operates his own consultancy. As the President of JetpackShark, he leads technology workshops across the North East, training developers to adopt new technologies and find their own best practices.

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.

The Key to Lookups

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After some “miscommunications about coding standards”, Nicolas’s company decided that they should have one of their internal developers do code reviews on anything that came from their external, third-party developers. Nicolas drew the short straw on the most recent project.

The specific problem in play is that they had config-data, structured as nested dictionaries. You know the kind of data-structure- something like:

Secure Login

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“I logged into the admin app.”

Julie’s boss had the username and password for the admin app, so that wasn’t too surprising.

Abstract Test Case

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A great many breakfast cereals promise some sort of health benefit. This brand is good for your heart, that brand has 11 essential vitamins and minerals. This one’s got bran! Just because there’s a promise of health benefits doesn’t mean they actually exist- most of these cereals are lightly fluffed sugar held together with a smidge of starch.

Object-oriented languages promise a lot of code-health benefits, and used properly, they can certainly deliver. In this somewhat tortured metaphor, the Lucky Charms marshmallow of OO features is Inheritance. It’s tasty, it’s easy to explain, but it’s not really good for your code. A little bit, here-and-there, from time-to-time is great. But some folks buy the three pound bag and that’s just not good for anybody.

Too Salty

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The first rule of building your own password storage mechanisms is don’t. Like most other highly-specialized wheels, you aren’t going to do as good a job as someone who specializes in it. It’s bad enough when you write your own date mangling code, but for security-critical features, like passwords or encryption, you’re begging for trouble.

Joni spotted some trouble: many of the users in the database had the same password hash. This, of course, should never happen- the password should be combined with a user-specific salt as part of the hashing, so that even if two users had the same password, they’d have different hashes.

Refactoring the Conditional

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Virginia N was trying to refactor some code, and that meant understanding where the value m_PSOC_SIG was used, and why. So, she did some searching, and found this line, which doesn’t contain our value:


We Know How This Works

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One of the selling points of a language like Java is that it comes with a rich standard library of useful classes. This allows developers to completely ignore those useful features, and instead reinvent the wheel badly. Once this novel square wheel has come off the assembly line, it becomes the defacto standard for the organization.

Take, for example, Caiwan’s office. They have a… special date-handling library.

Hired: State of Contracting

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Our sponsor, Hired, passed us off a report they just published: “The State of Contract Work”. I said to myself, “Wait a second, I’m a contractor!” Well, technically, I’m more of a consultant or sometimes a trainer- one of those evil highly paid consultants who swing in, tell developers how to do their jobs, and leave behind nothing more than the smell of brimstone and invoices.

The bad thing about this line of work, at least from the perspective of a TDWTF article, is that if I encounter a real WTF, it’s because someone wants me to fix it. A WTF that is getting fixed isn’t really a WTF anymore. That doesn’t mean I don’t encounter some real head-scratchers from time to time.

The Anty Pattern

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An anti-pattern that shows up from time to time here is the old “our IDE’s build output is mapped to a network drive on the web server”, but “Drummer” shows us a novel new variation on that theme.

It all started when a co-worker asked them, “how do I change the compiler version?” The code was built using Ant, so “Drummer” opened the build file and searched through it for a javac element- the Ant command which runs the Java compiler.