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The Daily WTF

Curious Perversions in Information Technology

Last Build Date: Sat, 25 Nov 2017 02:10:51 GMT


Classic WTF: The Shadow over ShipPoint

Fri, 24 Nov 2017 11:30:00 GMT

What's this? A re-run of a spooky article on the day after Thanksgiving? Well, what's spookier than Black Friday? --Remy Original In the winter of 2012-13, I was fired from the ill-rumored e-commerce company known as ShipPoint. Though I remained stalwart to the end, the wretched darkness embodied in ShipPoint's CTO and his twisted worshipers dogs me still, a malignant growth choking the very life out of my career aspirations. And although I fight every day to forget, to leave my time at ShipPoint behind, I still awaken in the uttermost black of night, shuddering, my mind wrenching itself free from nightmare's grip. I record this grim history only because I fear I may soon slip irredeemably into madness. It was 2011 when, freshly downsized, I found myself wandering the LinkedIn Jobs Directory, seemingly in vain. I had almost made up my mind to hang out my shingle as a consultant when I received an email from a recruiter. I don't remember his name, nor the firm that he claimed to represent, only that he demanded that we meet in person; apparently he was privy to a lucrative opportunity whose details could only be revealed face to face. While suspicious, I must admit I was gripped by curiosity — tinged, I must now believe, with a touch of the wild. I met the recruiter, a grim, swarthy fellow of furtive glance and questionable heritage, in a refuse-choked alley far from the central business district. It was there, amidst the dumpsters and commercial-grade recycling bins, that I first heard in a grating croak the name whose syllables I would one day shudder to write. "ShipPoint," he said in response to my question about their development environment, "is dedicated to becoming cutting-edge with their development tools and processes. They use Subversion, and I hear they have a focus on quality and testing." I proceeded through a phone interview, and then on to meet James Akeley, ShipPoint's development manager. Imploring that I call him "Jimmy", he proclaimed his easy-going attitude to be matched only by his and ShipPoint's commitment to quality. Though the pay was a bit on the low side, I accepted his offer. I was to start the following Monday, taking the train and then a bus to the ugly one-story building of nondescript gray that contained ShipPoint's offices, a geriatric hulk muttering tonelessly to itself as it wallowed in its crumbling and almost-abandoned office park by the seashore. My first day at ShipPoint began as prosaically as one could expect with a simple task that would lead me through their codebase. As an e-commerce provider, ShipPoint's stock in trade was web applications written using ASP.NET, and I made careful note of several places where classic code smells made themselves apparent. The team went out to lunch, as was their custom. Jimmy drove, with Jack Mason, the second-most senior developer, in the passenger seat. Sharing the back with me was Rob Carter, the company's web designer — one who would prove himself my most stalwart companion in the unguessed-at trials that lay ahead. While our lunchtime discussion was generally mundane, with only Rob expressing any interest in developing familiarity with his new associate, I found an appropriate pause in the conversation to present Jimmy and Jack with the potential problems I had detected during my brief venture into the code. Given his repeated assertions regarding dedication to quality, I expected Jimmy, at least, to be keenly interested in my discoveries. My surprise was considerate when he and Jack rebuffed me, declaring that Dan Marsh — the CTO — didn't want us to spend time refactoring code. "He and the other executives think it's a waste of time," Jimmy explained, some small measure of remorse evident in his voice, while next to him Jack nodded his head approvingly. "They want us to focus on new deploying new features." I was disappointed by this, and by the subsequent revelation that, though ShipPoint did indeed mandate Subversion for source control,[...]

Editor's Soapbox: Give Thanks for Well Routed Packets

Thu, 23 Nov 2017 11:30:00 GMT

It’s Thanksgiving here in the US, so we’re taking a long weekend. In lieu of a more traditional “from the archives” post, I’m going to give thanks.

You know what I’m thankful for? I’m thankful that data packets on the Internet are routed and handled the same way, regardless of which network originated them, nor which network is their destination, nor what they may contain. You could say that networks are… neutral about packets.


A few years ago, the FCC enshrined this common sense into its regulatory framework. We were all pretty happy about it, and were optimistic that it was done. Unfortunately, it’s never over, and the new management at the FCC wants to reverse that, and plans to vote about it in a few weeks.

Remember: prior to making Network Neutrality the regulated standard, network operators largely (but not completely) followed the rule anyway. Network Neutrality was the default, and then the bean-counters recognized an unexploited revenue stream (why should Netflix get to send data to our customers without paying us for the privilege?). The Internet worked under Network Neutrality, and the FCC only needed to enforce it by rule because network operators wanted to change the playing field.

In any case, if you’re thankful for an Internet that works, between gorging yourself in typical American fashion and arguing with your racist uncle

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