Remy Porter

Remy is a veteran developer who now operates his own consultancy. As the President of JetpackShark, he leads technology workshops across the North East, training developers to adopt new technologies and find their own best practices.

He's often on stage, doing improv comedy, but insists that he isn't doing comedy- it's deadly serious. You're laughing at him, not with him. That, by the way, is usually true- you're laughing at him, not with him.

The Interview Gauntlet

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Natasha found a job posting for a defense contractor that was hiring for a web UI developer. She was a web UI developer, familiar with all the technologies they were asking for, and she’d worked for defense contractors before, and understood how they operated. She applied, and they invited her in for one of those day-long, marathon interviews.

They told her to come prepared to present some of her recent work. Natasha and half a dozen members of the team crammed into an undersized meeting room. Irving, the director, was the last to enter, and his reaction to Natasha could best be described as “hate at first sight”.

ALM Tools Could Fix This

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I’m old enough that, when I got into IT, we just called our organizational techniques “software engineering”. It drifted into “project management”, then the “software development life-cycle”, and lately “application life-cycle management (ALM)”.

No matter what you call it, you apply these techniques so that you can at least attempt to release software that meets the requirements and is reasonably free from defects.

A Type of Standard

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I’ve brushed up against the automotive industry in the past, and have gained a sense about how automotive companies and their suppliers develop custom software. That is to say, they hack at it until someone from the business side says, “Yes, that’s what we wanted.” 90% of the development time is spent doing re-work (because no one, including the customer, understood the requirements) and putting out fires (because no one, including the customer, understood the requirements well enough to tell you how to test it, so things are going wrong in production).

Mary is writing some software that needs to perform automated testing on automotive components. The good news is that the automotive industry has adopted a standard API for accomplishing this goal. The bad news is that the API was designed by the automotive industry. Developing standards, under ideal conditions, is hard. Developing standards in an industry that is still struggling with software quality and hasn’t quite fully adopted the idea of cross-vendor standardization in the first place?

A Case of File Handling

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Tim W caught a ticket. The PHP system he inherited allowed users to upload files, and then would process those files. It worked… most of the time. It seemed like a Heisenbug. Logging was non-existent, documentation was a fantasy, and to be honest, no one was exactly 100% certain what the processing feature was supposed to do- but whatever it was doing now was the right thing, except the times that it wasn’t right.

Specifically, some files got processed. Some files didn’t. They all were supposed to.


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A long time ago, in a galaxy right here, we ran a contest. The original OMGWTF contest was a challenge to build the worst calculator you possibly could.

We got some real treats, like the Universal Calculator, which, instead of being a calculator, was a framework for defining your own calculator, or Rube Goldberg’s Calculator, which eschewed cryptic values like “0.109375”, and instead output “seven sixty-fourths” (using inlined assembly for performance!). Or, the champion of the contest, the Buggy Four Function Calculator, which is a perfect simulation of a rotting, aging codebase.

Pounding Away

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“Hey, Herbie, we need you to add code to our e-commerce package to send an email with order details in it,” was the requirement.

“You mean like a notification? Order confirmation?”


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C++’s template system is powerful and robust enough that template metaprogramming is Turing complete. Given that kind of power, it’s no surprise that pretty much every other object-oriented language eschews templates for code generation.

Java, for example, uses generics- essentially templates without the metaprogramming. What we still keep is compile-time type-safety, and all the benefits of generic programming, but without the complexity of compile-time code generation.

A Handful of Beans

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The startup Juan worked for was going through a growth spurt. There was more work than there were people, and plenty of money, so that meant interviews. Lots, and lots of interviews.

Enter Octavio. Octavio had an impressive resume, had worked for decades as a consultant, and was the project lead on an open source project called “JavaBachata”. Before the interview, Juan gave the project site a quick skim, and it looked like one of those end-to-end ORM/MVC frameworks.

Roasted coffee beans