Think your code is pristine? These tech war stories suggest not

Commentary: Given these examples of terribly “janky” code, it is a marvel organizations can perform in any respect.


Picture: Shutterstock/fizkes

Years in the past Princeton CITP fellow
Zeynep Tufekci bemoaned

how we’re “constructing skyscraper favelas in code — in earthquake zones.” Tufekci’s level was that there is little or no greenfield code in an enterprise: All of it builds upon current code, leading to less-than-pristine code to energy small and gargantuan enterprises alike. Therefore, whereas Twitter is buzzing with the promise of Web3, analyst Benedict Evans correctly reminded us that “most of enterprise has but to maneuver to Net 2.0, and even Net 1.0,” and when (if?) they finally get to Web3, it may be shakily standing atop some fairly crufty Net 1.0 code.

Do not imagine me? iRobot’s Brandon Rohrer asked folks to explain “the jankiest piece of tech you’ve got seen an organization rely on.” The solutions, nicely, let’s simply say the solutions ought to fill us with marvel that our software-driven society features in any respect.

SEE: 10 methods to stop developer burnout (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Greatest to shut your eyes

Should-read developer content material

To be clear, not all enterprise software program is like this. In any case, Rohrer requested for examples of “the jankiest” code folks have seen operating. However odds are good that one thing like that is operating in your enterprise, too.

And, maybe, that janky code could be dealt with by people ill-equipped to handle it. As one respondent (“Erin”) told Rohrer, “One group needed to carry out advanced calculations for all our 60k+ shoppers, had no IT help and had been fully staffed by 22 yr outdated enterprise majors who had by no means heard of databases.” What may go mistaken? Properly…”They created an insane Excel sheet, 1 copy per consumer.  By the top there have been TERABYTES of Excel sheets, every containing tons of delicate private data, saved unprotected on a large shared drive.”

Let’s simply say that this does not sound like “greatest practices.” 

After which there are these organizations that depend on historic expertise. I suppose we may have a look at this as a testomony to the standard of the merchandise in query, however listed below are two examples of firms operating on decades-old Home windows applied sciences.

Jean-Marc Alkazzi related how he “labored at an insurance coverage firm the place all monetary knowledge was saved on 1 dusty Home windows NT 4 server. The day earlier than closing the fiscal 12 months it crashed and could not hook up with the [Active Directory]. Needed to seek for drivers and OS patches on and use 3x 💾 as well from… .” Not preferrred. But in addition not as scary as this from Travis Dawry: “The UK’s Trident (nuclear weapon) submarines nonetheless run on Home windows XP.”

Okay, then. 

There are additionally tales of anonymous machines which are operating for causes unknown to present workers, however nobody dares to show them off. Take, for instance, this from Lukas Brausch (Determine A):

Determine A


Picture: Twitter

Properly, what a few time when a type of nameless machines stopped working? According to Delip Rao, “Within the very early days of Twitter, a manufacturing going through service was deployed on a Mac Mini that simply lived on the ground subsequent [to] a bunch of random issues and cables. Each time somebody tripped over the cables, it could disconnect the Mac Mini and the service would go down.” Neither is Twitter alone on this, as Mike Fosker noted: “[I] labored someplace the place we solely came upon that two shoppers’ web sites had been operating from a PC within the nook after we threw it out.” Or this one from Jason Gerard? “The actuarial dept for the office div of a really giant insurance coverage firm relied on an app operating on a[n] outdated desktop underneath the developer’s desk. He had a stack of three and all the time forgot which one was ‘manufacturing’.” What may go mistaken?

SEE: Metaverse cheat sheet: Every thing it’s essential know (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Lots, it seems. However generally this janky tech simply retains plugging away, like this story from Dr Lyndon Walker: “An IBM XT PC operating key switches in a phone trade for an entire suburb. It was on 24/7 for 20 years earlier than lastly catching fireplace and burning down a piece of the phone trade.” Twenty years? That is an eternity in tech. Let’s hope the “favelas in code” are operating on IBM XT PCs. 😉

Disclosure: I work for MongoDB however the views expressed herein. And, any janky code I write are mine

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