Deep Fried Offshore

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Stephen worked for an Initech that sold specialized hardware: high-performance, high-throughput systems for complex data processing tasks in the enterprise world, sold at exorbitant enterprise prices. Once deployed, these systems were configured via a management app that exposed an HTTP interface, just like any consumer-grade router or Wi-Fi access point that is configurable through a website (e.g.

Stephen worked with a diverse team of American engineers who were finishing up the management application for a new model. The product was basically done but needed a little bit of testing and polish before the official release. They expected several months of post-release work and then the project would go into maintenance mode.


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In HTML5, the data-* attributes were codified, and this is a really nice thing for building applications. They are an app-defined namespace to attach any sorts of custom data to your HTML attributes. For example, a div responsible for displaying a User object might have an attribute like <div data-user-id="5123">…</div>, which allows us to better bind our DOM to our application model. They can even be used in stylesheet selectors, so I could make a styling rule for div[data-user-id].

I’m not the only one who thinks they’re a nice feature. Eric W has a co-worker who’s come up with a very… unique way of using them. First, he has the following Django template:

Test Overflow

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WidCo was a victim of its own success. It had started as a small purveyor of widgets: assembling, storing, transporting, and shipping the widgets to their small client base in their podunk state. They'd once had the staff to fill orders placed by phone. As they'd begun to make a name for themselves in the surrounding tri-state region, however, their CEO had caught wise to the value of "this Internet thing."

Keeping it Regular

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Regular expressions are like one of those multi-tools: they're a knife, they're a screwdriver, they're pliers, and there's a pair of tweezers stuck in the handle. We can use them to do anything.

For example, Linda inherited a site that counted up and down votes, like Reddit, implemented in CoffeeScript. Instead of using variables or extracting the text from the DOM, this code brought regular expressions to bear.

The Duke of Error'd

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"Ok, so what happens if I'm a duke? Then what?" wrote Adam S.

The Contractor

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As developers, we often find ourselves working in stupid ways because the folks who were hired above/before us think that what they set up is ideal. While this happens in numerous industries, finance, especially at huge conglomerates, takes IT/Software-WTF to a whole new level. As contractors, we often get the we need your help in an emergency even though everything is unicorns and rainbows speech that precedes some meltdown for which they want you to take the blame.


After taking a contract position at a large financial company, Bryan T. expected to see some amazing things. On the interview, they talked a big game and had even bigger budgets. It didn't take long to see some amazing things; but not the kind of amazing you'd think.

Work Items Incomplete

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Owen J picked up a ticket complaining that users were not seeing all of their work items. Now, these particular “work items” weren’t merely project tasks, but vital for regulatory compliance. We’re talking the kinds of regulations that have the words “criminal penalties” attached to them.

What made it even more odd was that only one user was complaining. The user knew it was odd, their ticket even said, “Other people in my department aren’t having this issue, so maybe it’s something with my account?” Owen quickly eliminated their account as a likely source of the problem, but Owen also couldn’t duplicate the bug in test.

The Case of the Missing Signal

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Satellite dish in Austria

"My satellite connection is down," reported the user on the phone. "Can you help me?"