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The *hidden* Obamacare website code.

I just saw this video of Congressman Joe Barton questioning Cheryl Campbell of CGI about the Obamacare website’s *hidden* code. It really doesn’t bother me that the congressman doesn’t understand that he’s looking at a ‘comment’, not ‘code’. And it doesn’t bother me that he doesn’t understand that it was probably commented out because of the dynamic, incremental, nature of software development with decisions being made and unmade continuously on the fly. And it doesn’t bother me that he doesn’t understand this commented code doesn’t affect compliance since it’s not functional, not displayed, and completely ignored by the computer. I can almost guarantee how this played out; An overly defensive business analyst decided to add this in as a CYA tactic. The developer added it then somebody realized it was not to spec and told the programmer to remove it. The programmer commented it out instead of removing it because they’ve seen the flip flopping on functionality like this in the past (possibly multiple times in this project). The comments were never removed (are they ever?), and it was promoted to production. Then somebody with enough knowledge to be dangerous, but doesn’t know what they are looking at found it, and pushed it through the ranks until if finally wound up being questioned in a Congressional Hearing. What bothers me is that nobody was able to clear up this misunderstanding. There was nobody to step in and say, “Hey, this is a non-issue”. It’s a non-threat. I was a little disappointed that Cheryl Campbell didn’t chime in and say “Actually, Mr. Congressman, I understand your concern, but it’s not what it looks like”, then explained what it was. Ok, she obviously doesn’t have the skills to understand or explain it, but you would think the solution architect would’ve rode shotgun to clear up misunderstandings like this. I’m also embarrassed that programmers are still commenting dead code instead of removing it. It’s not 1990 anymore, the source control tools we have are awesome, so don’t be scared to delete anything which is no longer serving a purpose, it will live in your source repo history forever. Don’t be a hack. Once it is understood this commented out code is a non-functional historical artifact of an extremely dynamic process, it could also be asked “Why was this added in the first place?”. And that would be a valid question, to which I would answer, “It doesn’t matter since that functionality was... read more

The asp.net-mvc predicate

I have a theory that you can tell if a Microsoft web developer is good or not based on as single question. Would you choose webforms or MVC on a new project? Many readers probably consider this obvious, perhaps even equivalent to the choice between punch cards vs keyboard/monitor. I suspect most people reading this consider asp.net-MVC the logical choice, and only an idiot would choose otherwise However, I suspect most Microsoft web application developers would still chose webforms … scary as that is. I think that right now, MVC has really separated the good from the bad, at least as far as asp.net developers go. Developers on top of their game have at least overview experience with MVC, yet most weak or lazy developers haven’t been forced to make the leap yet, as a result they either haven’t looked into it, or have been so confounded by the paradigm shift that they’ve passed it off as a trendy fad. Please notice I said ‘choose on a new project’, not ‘currently working in’. I’m sure there are many developers who are working in webforms who would prefer to be working in MVC … I’m one of them. On the flip side, I recently met a developer working in an MVC app who wishes it was webforms. There is a presumption in my statement, that MVC is inherently better than webforms. To most of us, this seems obvious, but there are many who disagree … and that’s fine. However, I’ve yet to find a valid argument for webforms over MVC. … don’t get me wrong, I’ve heard people tell me that webforms is better, but I’ve never heard a rational argument. Those who have tried have basically given me buzzwords like ‘event-driven’ but fail to contrast it against, or even recognize the cost of that paradigm. Take for example; answers to this Stackoverflow question When to favor webforms over MVC? I’m not going to argue about integrating MVC into an existing webforms app because I think maintaining technology consistency is important. But some of the other reasons include : Leveraging existing training – True, but good developers usually keep their skills up to date, so is this really that big of a deal? View/edit modes makes duplicate work – This is actually better than all edit pages, yes … even for enterprise apps. If you don’t believe me, just think about all the functionality you added to ensure users couldn’t ‘save’... read more

7 Features I Wish C# Had

…I couldn’t come up with 10 things I hate about C#, so I’m going to settle for 7 features I’d like to see. There may be good reasons why we don’t have some of them, but here’s my list anyway…

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Twitter users need a Valet Key for 3rd Party Tools

I’m noticing a lot of Twitter tools requiring the user to enter their Twitter user id and password to use the tool. These tools obviously need the users’ credentials to access the Twitter API and act on behalf of the user.

But am I the only one who is uncomfortable with this? I mean, isn’t the first rule of passwords not to give them out to anybody? Isn’t it?!?!?

Instead it’s become the acceptable practice to enter it into every app requesting it! Correct me if I’m wrong …..

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