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 Internet of Nope

by in News Roundup on

Folks, we’ve got to talk about some of the headlines about the Internet of “Things”. If you’ve been paying even no attention to that space, you know that pretty much everything getting released is some combination of several WTFs, whether in conception, implementation, and let’s not forget security.

A diagram of IoT approaches

I get it. It’s a gold-rush business. We’ve got computers that are so small, so cheap, and so power-efficient, that we can slap the equivalent of a 1980s super-computer in a toilet seat. There's the potential to create products that make our lives better, that make the world better, and could carry us into a glowing future. It just sometimes feels like that's not what anybody's actually trying to make, though. Without even checking, I’m sure you can buy a WiFi enabled fidget spinner that posts the data to a smartphone app where you can send “fidges” to your friends, bragging about your RPMs.

A Lazy Cat

by in CodeSOD on

The innermost circle of Hell, as we all know, is trying to resolve printer driver issues for all eternity. Ben doesn’t work with the printers that we mere mortals deal with on a regular basis, though. He runs a printing press, three stories of spinning steel and plates and ink and rolls of paper that could crush a man.

Like most things, the press runs Linux- a highly customized, modified version of Linux. It’s a system that needs to be carefully configured, as “disaster recovery” has a slightly different meaning on this kind of heavy equipment. The documentation, while thorough and mostly clear, was obviously prepared by someone who speaks English as a second language. Thus, Ben wanted to check the shell scripts to better understand what they did.

Highly Functional

by in Representative Line on

For a brief period of time, say, about 3–4 years ago, if you wanted to sound really smart, you’d bring up “functional programming”. Name-dropping LISP or even better, Haskell during an interview marked you as a cut above the hoi polloi. Even I, surly and too smart for this, fell into the trap of calling JavaScript “LISP with curly braces”, just because it had closures.

Still, functional programming features have percolated through other languages because they work. They’re another tool for the job, and like any tool, when used by the inexpert, someone might lose a finger. Or perhaps someone should lose a finger, if only as a warning to others.

The Gassed Pump

by in Feature Articles on

“Staff augmentation,” was a fancy way of saying, “hey, contractors get more per hour, but we don’t have to provide benefits so they are cheaper,” but Stuart T was happy to get more per hour, and even happier to know that he’d be on to his next gig within a few months. That was how he ended up working for a national chain of gas-station/convenience stores. His job was to build a “new mobile experience for customer loyalty” (aka, wrapping their website up as an app that can also interact with QR codes).

At least, that’s what he was working on before Miranda stormed into his cube. “Stuart, we need your help. ProdTrack is down, and I can’t fix it, because I’ve got to be at a mandatory meeting in ten minutes.”

A Promise of Timing

by in CodeSOD on

Asynchronous programming is hard, and there’s never been a perfect way to solve that problem. One of the most widely used solutions is the “promise” or “future”. We wrap the asynchronous process up in a, well, promise of a future result. “Someday, there will be data here, I hope.” The real beauty of promises comes from their composability- “getData promises to fetch some records, and then the calling method can promise to display them.”

Of course, it’s still asynchronous, and when an application has multiple asynchronous processes happening at the same time, “weird behavior” can happen, thanks to timing issues. Keith W encountered one of those timing related Heisenbugs, and became immediately suspicious about how it was getting invoked:

Variation on a Theme

by in CodeSOD on

If you’re not already aware, the Daily WTF is open source. We went the route of building our own CMS mostly because our application needs are pretty light. We don’t need themes, we don’t need WYSIWYG editors, we don’t need asset uploads. Also, with home-grown code, we know what’s in it, what it does, and any problems in the code are our own.

Which brings us to WordPress, land of the themes. There’s a cottage industry around building WordPress themes, and it’s a busy enough space that there are specialists in developing themes for specific industries. Alessandro ended up doing some work in the real estate business, tweaking a WP theme to change the way certain images would get displayed in a slide show.

Switched Over

by in CodeSOD on

Twelve years ago, a company decided they needed a website. They didn’t have any web developers, and they didn’t want to hire any, so they threw a PHP manual at the new hire who happened to “be good with computers”, and called it a day.

Ms. “Good With Computers” actually learned something from the experience, and moved on to a lucrative career in web development. Unfortunately, she left behind the code she learned by doing, and now Bert has been brought in to clean up the code.

Flubbed Buzz

by in CodeSOD on

Interviewing developers always poses a challenge. You can’t rate their skills at writing code without seeing them write code, and most of the code they’ve written probably belongs to someone else. Writing anything non-trivial takes time, which both the candidate and the interviewer may not be willing to spend. Even then, it’s not always representative. And let’s not even talk about whiteboard programming.

Douglas’s company makes a compromise- they’ll give a time-boxed programming challenge. A developer is given two hours, access to the Internet, and a moderately complex problem. A smart developer might make some mistakes on the trickier parts of the problems, which is great, because it doesn’t fail them- it shows how they think. One candidate, Steve, never quite got that far.