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Curious Perversions in Information Technology



Last Build Date: Sun, 20 Aug 2017 12:00:03 GMT

 



Error'd: Ride the URL Line

Fri, 18 Aug 2017 10:30:00 GMT

Michael R. wrote, "So, https://TfL.Gov.UK...does that bus go on the 'Information Superhighway'?"

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"BREAKING NEWS: The LA Times web edition demonstrates their solid understanding of single-column layout," writes Mitch T.

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Michael wrote, "Why buy 5 for £5 if you can have 5 for £6?"

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Adam K. writes, "So close! Only 734 petabytes short for copying this file which is already on my laptop disk..."

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"Needless to say, I declined to respond...and they're missing an apostrophe," wrote Steven.

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"I was trying to add German language options to Windows 10, but, apparently, one of my ancestors already did it four hundred years ago," writes Marcus O.

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Featurette: Hired!

Thu, 17 Aug 2017 10:30:00 GMT

As you know, Hired has been sponsoring the site for the past few months. I went “behind the scenes” to have a brief chat with Michael Mitchell, a full stack web engineer focused on their “Candidate Experience” features. To ease in, I started with the only truly important question about life at Hired: how’s the coffee. “It’s amazing,” Michael replied. “We have an operations coordinator that worked at a few large coffee roasters, so she takes care of coffee and makes large batches of cold-brew for the office.” That last is an important one- I’ve had too many cups of “iced” coffee that were just, well, hot coffee with ice in it. Michael was an electrical engineer before becoming a web engineer; while high voltage might kill you, NPM will make you wish you were dead. “I’m partial to the story Overpowered,” Michael said. While he never used angular momentum to destroy a hard disk drive, he did build the automation for an industrial packaging line. That automation was entirely run through a single Arduino. “I wasn’t a complete idiot,” Michael said. “All of the safety critical systems were hardwired in a fail-safe manner, and didn’t depend on the Arduino.” It operated for years without incident, and as the line grew, that Arduino ended up running a multi-million dollar business. Eventually, the support contract for the line went elsewhere, and the company taking it over wanted to know what that tiny little board running the line was, and how they could interface with it. “I told them to rip it out and replace it with a PLC, because they really didn’t want to hear the answers to those questions.” Michael isn’t in the business of hacking together millions of dollars of business on hobbyist equipment anymore. Their current stack- mostly Ruby/React, with Postgres on the backend, and a bit of Scala/Python data-science for matching/ranking- doesn’t have any of those kinds of hacks. “Our code review process is fairly well enforced- culturally, not through tools. Probably, the most horrific stuff I’ve done is commit some pretty tortured CSS.” Despite that, there are lots of growing pains. When Hired was in its early startup phases, it was “move fast and break things,” but as their customers grew, they needed to shift gears. “When you have large client teams relying on your product, moving a button can break an entire HR team’s workflow.” The upshot is that Michael works with a strong team. “Everyone here is incredibly collaborative and easy to work with.” How do they build the right team? Using Hired, of course! At least half of the engineering team were placed through Hired. “The founders started Hired because they had issues hiring good talent for their previous companies. The company was practically founded to dog-food its own product.” Speaking of, Michael’s team is tackling a lot of work- in addition to two web engineers, they have two mobile engineers and a single designer. Five people supporting web, iOS, and working on delivering an Android app. “That’s with only four engineers, so I’d say our bottleneck is mainly engineering resources. We’re currently Hiring!” Hired was also Michael’s chance to dodge a bit of a bullet. When he was last job hunting, he was shopping around, and interviewed with another startup. The CEO may have been the subject of many an article here: the “I know better than you, and you’re lucky I’m even talking to you,” sort. Michael explains: There were some other red flags I picked up on. He disliked developers who negotiated salary, instead of valuing the “experience” and “opportunity to work hard”. When it came time for the “sell dinner”, he pushed fairly hard to close, and asked, “What would it take for you to accept this job, ri[...]



CodeSOD: Object Relational Mangling

Wed, 16 Aug 2017 10:30:00 GMT

Writing quality database code is a challenge. Most of your commands need to be expressed in SQL, which is a mildly complicated language made more complicated by minor variations across databases. Result sets often have a poor mapping to our business logic’s abstractions, especially in object-oriented languages. Thus, we have Object-Relational-Mapping tools, like Microsoft’s EntityFramework.

With an ORM

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