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The Daily WTF

Curious Perversions in Information Technology

Last Build Date: Wed, 22 Feb 2017 06:00:08 GMT


Blind Obedience

Tue, 21 Feb 2017 11:30:00 GMT

Murray F. took a position as an Highly Paid Consultant at a large firm that had rules for everything. One of the more prescient rules specified that for purposes of budgeting, consultants were only allowed to bill for 8 hours of work per day, no exceptions. The other interesting rule was that only certain employees were allowed to connect to the VPN to work from home; consultants had to physically be in the office. The project to which Murray was assigned had an international staff of more than 100 developers; about 35 of them were located locally. All of the local development staff were HPCs. With that much staff, as you would expect, there was a substantial MS Project plan detailing units of work at all levels, and assorted roll-ups into the master time line. The managers that had created this plan took all sorts of things into account. For example, if you attended three hours of meetings two days a week, then you only had 34 hours available for work; if you had to leave early one day to pick up your kid, it set those hours aside as non-work, and so on. The level of detail even took into account the time it takes to mentally put down one complex task and pick up another one. It was awful to look at but it was reasonably accurate. Until... Weather forecasters are wrong as often as they are right. However, the spiraling pin-wheel of snowstorms was getting bigger and barreling down on the local office, and was so imminent that even the forecasters were issuing absolute warnings. Not "It looks like we might get six inches"; but more along the lines of "Get groceries and plan to be shut in for a while". The storm hit at night and by first light, anyone who looked out the window immediately realized that the forecasters were right and that they weren't going anywhere. In an attempt to be good team players, the consultants called their managers, pointed out that they were snowed in and unable to travel, and given the special circumstances, could they use the VPN and work from home? The managers all responded that the rules were very specific and that the consultants could only work from the office. Since the consultants were powerless to do anything about the weather or the mountain of snow that had to be shoveled, they took snow days and no work was done. That's 35 consultants for 2 days or 70 days of (loaded) work, or about 2 ½ months of work that vaporized. Needless to say, this turned the otherwise green time line quite red. The managers called a meeting to discuss how to make up the time. Their first suggestion was that the consultants put in more time, to which they responded The rules specify that we cannot bill more than 8 hours each day. The managers then asked the consultants if they would work without pay - to get it done. Wisely, the consultants said that they were required to play by the rules set forth by the company, and could not falsify the billing sheets with the wrong number of hours worked. The sponsoring agencies of the consultants all agreed on that one (free labor means no commissions on said labor). This went back and forth for a while until it came time for scheduled demos. Only the work was about ten person-weeks behind schedule and the features to be demo'd had not yet been built. At this point, the senior people who could not see their expected features in action had no choice but to address the snow delay. After much discussion, they decreed that the budgets had to be adhered to (e.g.: billing was limited to 8 hours per day), but the line development managers could hire additional consultants to make up the missed work. The managers got to work adjusting the master project plan. The existing consultants pointed out that it would take a substantial amount of time to find new consultants, get computers, set up development environments, do general on-boarding and get new developers up to speed; and that it didn't make sense to hire new developers for something like this. It was decreed that rules had to be followed, and it didn't matter if it wasn't [...]

CodeSOD: A Date With a Parser

Mon, 20 Feb 2017 11:30:00 GMT

PastorGL inherited some front-end code. This front-end code only talks to a single, in-house developed back-end. Unfortunately, that single backend wasn’t developed with any sort of consistency in mind. So, for example, depending on the end-point, sometimes you need to pass fields back and forth as productID, sometimes it’s id, productId, or even _id.

Annoying, but even worse is dealing with the dreaded date datatype. JSON, of course, doesn’t have a concept of date datatypes, which leaves the web-service developer needing to make a choice about how to pass the date back. As a Unix timestamp? As a string? What kind of string? With no consistency on their web-service design, the date could be passed back and forth in a number of formats.

Now, if you’re familiar with the JavaScript Date datatype, you’d know that it can take most date formats as an input and convert them into a Date object, which gives you all the lovely convenience methods you might need. So, if for example, you wanted to convert a date string into a Unix timestamp, you might do something like this:

    var d = new Date(someDataThatProbablyIsADateStringButCouldAlsoBeANumber); //Could also use Date.parse
    return d.getTime();

That would cover 99% of cases, but PastorGL’s co-worker didn’t want to cover just those cases, and they certainly didn’t want to try and build any sort of consistency into the web service. Not only that, since they knew that the web service was inconsistent, they even protected against date formats that it doesn’t currently send back

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Error'd: Garfield Only Wants the Best for You

Fri, 03 Feb 2017 11:00:00 GMT

"I have two questions: First - Why make the dropdown go all the way down to 1908 if you don't want people selecting it? Second - Why can't I view if I'm 101 years old?" wrote Tom.



"Hopefully, CloudFlare's TLS 1.3 implementation is better than their public-facing website describing the same," writes David B.



"Lately, I've been having an issue with Amazon Assistant re-installing itself," Michael C. wrote, "After clicking on the 'Amazon Assistant help' link, I'm not very surprised."



"The good news is that Westpac New Zealand has streamlined their processes," wrote Gregory E., "However, the bad news is that you need to be able to read Latin."



Ruben L. writes, "While reading some of the details of always on for SQL Server I noticed that some topic names about the availability group name weren't... well... available...( "



"Steam really messed up here, but hey, at least they're being apologetic about it," Pete writes.



Paul N. wrote, "Almost makes as much sense as IHttpActionResult not giving access to the response status."



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Software on the Rocks: Episode 1: Traveling Angular

Thu, 02 Feb 2017 11:30:00 GMT

Welcome to Software on the Rocks, the Daily WTF podcast. This is a new feature we’ll be running on a bi-weekly basis for a first season of a few short episodes. If folks like it, or more important, if we really like doing it, this may continue, but for now, we’re committed to season of 6 episodes. In this episode, Alex and Remy discuss ruining the site, the dangers of booking airline tickets, and why Angular 2 is absolutely the best possible framework for those who love lots of boilerplate. This episode of Software on the Rocks is brought to you by Atalasoft. Tune in two weeks, when we’ll have special guest, Justin Reese of Code & Supply, to discuss software communities and the value of a good bar. Follow future episodes here on the site, or subscribe to our podcast. Direct MP3 Download src="" style="border: none; min-height: 265px; max-height: 320px; max-width: 558px; min-width: 270px; width: 100%; height: 100%;" scrollbars="no"> Transcript Welcome to software on the rocks, a daily WTF podcast brought to you by Atalsoft. Remy ® So, I guess we are going to do a podcast thing. This is one of our new things and I guess I probably should take it lame. Hello everyone, welcome to software on the rocks, I’m Remy Porter, chief editor of the daily WTF and responsible for single heading, ruining the site, if I judge by the comment section. Alex (A): Hi everyone, this is Alex and I started daily WTF and still tried to take all the good credits for it. And any times someone complain, just really blame on Remy. I remember starting WTF in 2004 or something like that and literally in the 2 months it had been going downhill. I don’t know… R: The high of the first day. Let’s talk about why we are doing a podcast: we have been doing periodical sponsor posts and this is really not a site that makes a lot of money by driving traffic. A: WTF it could be probably be a full time job, if we were able to turn it into a proper media publication, but it is a hobby site. It’s not free, there are server bills and other expenses and in order to pay for that you could just get google ads, but we wanted to do something different and that is why we have a handful of sponsors. By enlarge they are taking care of the website costs. One things that we wanted to do by giving sponsors, was starting a podcast, so thanks to them we are doing it. R: Atellasoft is a vendor that makes SDK for doing document imaging: scanning documents, storing and processing them. It seems like a relatively good idea to solve the problem and I don’t see other good solutions. A: well, they have been around forever and have a solid community and product and I would recommend to just check them out. R: one of the bullet thing that they do: web scanning for dot net. So they do scanning from a Java script API, which is a funny possibility. It brings back one of the projects I worked on. This was for a company called TPG industry. They almost certainly made the paint on your car. They care about colour, that means a lot. This is something that as a developer I really simpatize with: they make the paint. They take it to GMs factory and than GM applies the paint to the cars. The application process has to be extremely tightly controlled, because if the pressure used is wrong, the colour will come out different and when you will put the bumper on the car, the colour will be different of the one of the fender. And so they will get in fight with their customers: GM will say “the paint you gave us is bad, because we sprayed them to the fender and it doesn’t match the bumper. But then TPG says “no, the paint we gave you was good, we fulfilled your requirements, [...]