Archive for the Helltime Category

Helltime for August 9

Posted in Helltime with tags on August 9, 2010 by moffdub

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  • Ray Chen recounts the old new thing about garbage collection and has an unusual take on the definition. Garbage collection is considered to be the simulation of infinite memory. I suppose that makes sense from your program’s point of view, and I guess from the program author’s point of view: you get to write code as if you had an infinite amount of memory and never had to clean up after yourself. Ray uses this concept to draw the bottom line: don’t assume anything about the timing of garbage collection, particularly of your finalizers in .NET.
  • The offering at simple-talk on database version control by Mike Mooney is epic, and very worth the read. Predictably, I am not aware of any version control of our databases at my place of work, and I certainly never did any version control on The Project’s SQL Server. While it seems silly, this post is good at breaking down the essential differences between code and data that make versioning the latter a non-trivial task. Interesting that he concludes, like I have, that developers should have their own, private, isolated copy of the database.
  • Ending the Helltime show is a cautionary don’t-reinvent-the-wheel chide from the folks at ElegantCode.com, pleading that you don’t write that millionth XML parser and just use something built-in. The methods cited seem slightly involved, and maybe that is how it is for parsing. In particular, I don’t like how the classes are usually written for you, but if they are just data structures, what’s an extra layer of mapping between friends? John Sonmez never did cover building XML, but I will in a post in the near future, since the problem is currently my main focus at the old cube farm. Stay tuned.
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Helltime for August 2

Posted in Helltime with tags on August 2, 2010 by moffdub

Announcer: Now for quick hits and commentary on software development topics from around the web, the EIP web-ring brings you the stigmatized spawn of a refactory, MoffDub, and Helltime!

  • Agile DZone leader Matt Stine writes a good, gentle introduction to Kanban, which I think I first heard about in a podcast some months ago. Currently, we are not in “working sprints”, but in regression mode and, ending last Friday, are working off defects. Our PHB must have played buzzword bingo and said “we are going to run a Kanban board for our defects.”

    Fail. We had no work-in-progress limit. It was essentially a board divided into columns for each phase of a defect: investigating, in progress, awaiting build, awaiting re-test, and so on. I’m somewhat intrigued by the promise made by Stine that WIP limits will reduce thrashing. I’m all for that.

  • Read the latest Daemonic Dispatch from Colin Percival and you’ll get to see what is so ethereal about code sometimes. A mere 48 characters of C code will end up causing any computer to essentially run forever, yet it is not an infinite loop.
  • Finally, after Googling her various online profiles, doing an obligatory image search, staring into space for a few hours, and then doubting her existence, go forth and read Sara Chipps‘ post about a truly feminine perspective on development. The Girl Developer says that she doesn’t dump all over bad code the way she used to. I vow, good readers, to never lose my “swagger”, for it always takes a great deal of arrogance to hold true to the pretense that you can actually take on the machine — and win.
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Helltime for July 26

Posted in Helltime with tags on July 26, 2010 by moffdub

Announcer: Now for quick hits and commentary on software development topics from around the web, the EIP web-ring brings you the stigmatized spawn of a refactory, MoffDub, and Helltime!

  • Bob Nystrom is developing a language called Finch and draws heavily on Smalltalk to eliminate conditionals from the language and from the freaky world of recursion to get rid of loops. It is a good read and thought-provoking reminder of alternatives. Come to think of it, during my Bowling Erlang h’yung, I don’t think I have written a single recursive function. I’ve gotten away with lists:map/2.
  • The Agile DZone offers an indictment of the computer science curriculi at large: true software engineering principles and techniques are not taught and are primarily learned on the job. I do partly agree with Willie Faler‘s assessment — I have learned quite a bit on the job since I got out of college, and it was material that was never in any PowerPoint deck. My college was probably better than most and, from what I hear, far more hands-on and less memorization-oriented than most schools in India. But I think perhaps we can solve this mystery by starting at the beginning. We all get computer science degrees, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that the courses focus on computer sciency topics. What is needed is software engineering curriculi.
  • Stay with DZone but trek to the Java Lobby where James Sugrue says that the one critical change for an organization to make in its metamorphosis to agile is to ditch Big Design Up Front. I’d say that the biggest thing that agile virgins and general morons need to get through their thick skulls is how to write stories. The story is the primary unit in agile dogma. If you can’t get that right, eventually you will be waterfall with a scrum board.
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Helltime for July 19

Posted in Helltime with tags on July 19, 2010 by moffdub

Announcer: Now for quick hits and commentary on software development topics from around the web, the EIP web-ring brings you the stigmatized spawn of a refactory, MoffDub, and Helltime!

  • Justin Bozonier states how he left IoC containers behind. In the offering on Explorations of a Code Monkey, Justin constructs a perfectly valid premise — that IoC can’t compensate for poor object design where some objects in the graph set and/or instantiate others in the graph — but stumbles on his conclusion. I don’t buy the argument that an IoC mechanism of whatever kind is not preferrable to hard-wiring the dependencies. I do agree that hard-wiring can serve as informative documentation, but so can the non-code artifacts of your IoC mechanism of choice.
  • Armed and Dangerous features a post that targets the real problem for the gender imbalance in software development — the industry itself. It is an interesting read that isn’t polluted with left-wing feminist ideology. The contention is that women are less likely to put up with the poor aspects of this field — unpaid overtime, unrealistic schedules, PHBs, etc — partly because women hear their biological clocks ticking and don’t want to put up with it, a concern that does not afflict us menfolk.
  • Rounding out the Helltime show today is Steve Benner‘s query: what kind of programmer are you? Are you a duct tape coder, OCD perfectionist, anti-programmer, half-assed programmer, or theoritician? Any doubt as to where I fall? No? Good.
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Helltime for July 16

Posted in Helltime with tags on July 16, 2010 by moffdub

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  • Brian Goetz delivers a State of the Lambda address via OpenJDK that gives a behind-the-scenes look at how first-class closures in Java will be implemented. Very clever is the equivalency that is going to be established between language-supported lambdas and single abstract method (SAM) classes. Unclear to me is how the yield keyword will work with this. yield, regardless of language, has always been a shady character to me.
  • While the details are mostly lost on me, Evan Broder exposes some interesting concepts regarding arbitrarily mapping URLs to a file system. The post on Ksplice is Ruby/Python-heavy, but if you take your time reading, you can follow. The code featured serves as an example of basic-yet-solid Open/Closed design.
  • From the blog of Daniel Lemire: The five most important algorithms. It seems to be a relatively resurgent topic. In my experience, three of his top five are relevant in my day-to-day Enterprisey life: binary search, hashing, and merge sort. The post does serve as a wake-up call for me, though. I’d certainly like to refresh my knowledge of algorithms, especially those that extend beyond looping through an array — with a for-each loop.
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Helltime for July 5

Posted in Helltime with tags on July 5, 2010 by moffdub

Announcer: Now for quick hits and commentary on software development topics from around the web, the EIP web-ring brings you the stigmatized spawn of a refactory, MoffDub, and Helltime!

  • Edmon Begoli chimes in on Developer.com with part two of a series comparing Scala and F#, timely since I recently finished a .NET Rocks! podcast on F#. What fascinated me the most about this was the evaluation of the OO features of both languages. Maybe it is just me, but what is stopping me from writing purely functional code in Java? Simply have an IDE plug-in that would make sure that every accessor in an object returned either the requested property or a new copy of the object and made sure that all local variable declarations were final.
  • Keeping with the functional theme, we’ve got Nick Wiedenbrueck giving us an introduction on lambda expressions in Java, which, even though I am not a Java-hate fan-boy, I agree the language could benefit from. I have often found myself describing interfaces for what are essentially functions. The offering from Nick’s blog is a good thought provoker for Java developers, like me, to start following Java 7′s progress.
  • Finally, I can’t tell you how timely the piece by Antonio Cangian is on achieveing Excellence In Programming. It is a lengthy post that is relevant because of my recent re-commitment to this blog and to programming at home in general. I strongly relate to his rules regarding not having enough time or not going to bed until you’ve written some code or written a post of some kind. I also can relate to the genius-vs-hard-worker side of things. All my life, people have told me that I’m so smart, and I’ve always disagreed with them. I’m not smart. I just work harder than 90% of people out there.
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Helltime for July 2

Posted in Helltime with tags on July 2, 2010 by moffdub

Announcer: Now for quick hits and commentary on software development topics from around the web, the EIP web-ring brings you the stigmatized spawn of a refactory, MoffDub, and Helltime!

  • An offering from an outfit simply titled A Window decries the injustice that programmers aren’t recruited and hired by other programmers. A penman with psuedo-name Phoenix has a point that I can relate to quite closely. My interview for the job I currently hold did not involve a single programming question, a fact that to this day I am not happy about because I am 100% sure that there are people in my department whose first lines of code we written in our code base. And we are the ones who suffer.
  • Keeping with the hiring theme, RethinkDB blogger Slava asks the real programmers to stand up. The post is essentially a reaffirmation of the FizzBuzz problem. I’ve always been an extremist about that topic; I either cannot believe that I’m such a hot commodity, or I think that I am peered by stupidity.
  • Rounding out the tour is an entry on testing your code in production at something called the CertPal blog. Do I ever test my code in production?

    Well, kind of. Our elevations last for about a week, and they involve a “swap”. Basically, there is a mirror of the real live servers, and our stuff is moved onto these machines first, and we verify that everything looks good before we “swap” them out into the wild. Sure, we have to come in at 3:30 in the morning, but frankly, I look forward to driving 85 m.p.h. on the expressway twice a year and eating donuts while I tail the production logs.

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