September 20, 2008

Blame It On the Code - Yeah - The Code Is Bad

Saw this over at Instapundit this morning and had to laugh.

I used to program in COBOL, and I agree with this statement: "The use of Cobol cripples the mind; its teaching should, therefore, be regarded as a criminal offense." Fortran was better, and I'm sure that newer languages are better still. Anything would be!

They are talking about a weeks old story concerning the fact that the state of California is dependent on quite a large chunk of legacy code written in COBOL, thus making it nearly impossible to make changes to the wages of state workers.

I find this hilarious.  Why?  Well, I always find it amusing when code snobs get on their high horse and tell us that - "ANY code would be better". 

Um... sure - whatever. 

It doesn't matter one iota what the language is. If the program logic is poorly laid out, any code will be a complete PITA to deal with and nearly impossible to change.   Where the code snobs are confused is the fact that they don't like the "syntax" and that is a completely different argument.   Pretty syntax does not mean that their language of choice is more functional and easier to work with, it simply means they like it better.  Ease and functionality are a result of logic and well laid out code.

How do I know this?  Most people I have worked with over the years only have the barest understanding of what they are doing, yet they work in the field.  They don't know what to do if anything deviates from their limited knowledge. They don't don't have the forethought when creating their programs to even consider "how do I make this clear, simple, concise, and flexible as possible?".   All they consider is the end result.  "Do I get what I want? Okay all is good."  This is precisely the type of method that has California in such a mess.

When I sit down to write code, "clear, concise, flexible" are the exact parameters I'm trying to achieve.  Oh yes, I have been burned over the years by throwing together some silly mishmash code, to achieve a single result, only to find that the client wants to keep using it and adding to it - thus making it necessary for me to rewrite the original piece to make it better.  (yeah extra work I could have avoided had I done it right in the first place). 

Yet, even when I have them in mind, there are often times when I miss an obvious logical method.  I consider myself to be an adequate coder, no more than that.  Of course I am comparing my work to that of my boss who, I'm quite certain, has a computer for a brain and writes some of the most elegant code ever.

State government is generally a pretty low paying job.  You are not going to get too many talented people working on code in these jobs.  Therefore it logically stands to reason, the people who wrote the code all those years ago, were not exactly looking to make it functional and easily modified.  All they did was throw out programs that "worked". (back then it might even have been a job security issue - "I'm the only one who knows how it works, so you can't fire me!")  I would be willing to bet that 99% of it is "spaghetti code" - a mishmash of code that works, but is so convoluted it's like trying to follow a spaghetti noodle through a pile of pasta to figure out what it's doing.  If you even think of touching the code - everything breaks.

However, once it's written and working (supposedly), no one is going to go back later and rewrite to make it better.  They'll just keep using it as it is.  No one has the time and the state doesn't have the money to have someone come in and fix it and make it shiny.

So, let's separate the code from the syntax.  Bad code can and has been written in every language out there.  I have to wonder about the code being written by those yelling the loudest about the type of language used.  It would be interesting to see their logic skilz or lack thereof. 

In the end, the major issue is defining the problem correctly or the effort toward solving it will be a total waste of time and money.  Please note, after 20+ years of buffer overflow hacks - people are still writing code in all these lovely new languages that allow these hacks to continue - on that I rest my case.

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 11:34 AM | Comments (9) | Add Comment
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September 02, 2008

Open DNS

Over the weekend my husband told me he was having page load issues with the laptop. Since I seldom use the laptop I had to sit down and see what was going on. (hate the keyboard so I avoid using it unless I'm traveling and MUST use it)

Sure enough - it would take 2 or three tries to load a page.  Very odd.   It didn't take long to figure out it was a DNS problem and not some other sort of problem.  Ho-hum.

After my posts about a month ago about Open DNS  I decided to set up the laptop with that DNS instead, just to see what would happen.

Wow!  In case that wasn't stated strongly enough... WOW!!!

Should've done this quite a while ago.  I am amazed at the increase in browsing speed!  It was an incredibly noticeable increase for the laptop.  The page loading errors have completely stopped.

So, I stuck it on my desktop too.  

Oddly enough, I had a totally different DNS server set up.  I remember changing it a while back because of some issues I was having with my ISP DNS, but I have no idea whose DNS servers I was using... ah my lamentable memory.  It might have been the DNS servers for my previous ISP since they were very reliable back in Chicago.

Anyhow, because I run a VPN for work purposes, I did have to do some extra finagling to get things going correctly for the VPN.  It now works far far better than the other DNS I was using.  The other DNS would think about stuff for a bit while it was deciding whether or not the request was a VPN request or not.  Open DNS doesn't do that - which is excellent.  I should be clear, I was not getting page load errors, it was simply much slower because of routing issues.  Open DNS seems to have a real handle on that. 

I hope they keep up the good work.  I can highly recommend them as a DNS provider.  Especially as they also make a concerted effort in the field of DNS security.  You might want to check them out on your own computer and see if you get a speed boost too.  (I fixed up individual NIC's instead of trying to mess with the router, my choice, you may find it's easier to change your router than to change individual machines. YMMV)

Thought I'd throw that out there for the more technically adventurous.  If anyone has questions, let me know and I'll try to help with any changeover.

Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 11:36 AM | Comments (2) | Add Comment
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September 01, 2008

The Care and Feeding of An Infected Computer

I was over at Sissy's place and I see that Goomp's computer has picked up something nasty.  It's causing big browsing problems because of pop ups too.


I'm taking this below the fold because it's going to get long...


Posted by: Teresa in WebTech at 03:49 PM | Comments (4) | Add Comment
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