Alex Papadimoulis

Alex is a speaker and writer who is passionate about looking beyond the code to build great software. In addition to founding Inedo - the makers of BuildMaster, the popular continuous delivery platform - Alex also started The Daily WTF, a fun site dedicated to building software the wrong way.

Classic WTF: The Source Control Shingle

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Our summer break continues. I once worked on a team which made "shingles"- software modules that were layered on top of a packaged product. There were a lot of WTFs in those shingles, but nothing that can compare to this once. Original--Remy

The year was 1999 and the dot-com boom was going full-throttle. Companies everywhere were focused on building revolutionary applications using nothing but top-shelf hardware and state-of-the-art software tools. Developers everywhere were trying to figure out if they should play more foosball, more air hockey, or sit back down on their Aeron and write more code. Everywhere, that is, except Boise, Idaho. Or at least, Dave's small corner of it.

At Dave's company, developers worked at a solid pace, using reliable tools, for a stable industry. They were sub-sub-contractors on a giant project commissioned by the U.S. Navy to condense naval vessel documentation. Generally speaking, the complete documentation required for a modern warship-from the GPS calibration instructions to the giant 130-millimeter cannon repair guide-is measured in tons. By condensing the documentation into the electronic equivalent, they could not only save tremendous physical space, but they could make it much easier to navigate.


Classic WTF: The Virtudyne Saga

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As we usually do around this time of year, it's summer break season for TDWTF. This week, we're going to rerun some old classics, starting with this legend from 2006, compiled into a single article. --Remy

The Virtudyne saga (published 2006-Oct-10 through 2006-Oct-13) is my all time favorite. It tells the story of the rise and fall of Virtudyne, one of the largest privately-financed ($200M) disasters in our industry. Like most articles published here, all names have been changed to protect the guilty, and I've worked very closely with Rob Graves (the submitter) to ensure that this presentation is as close to how it happened as possible.


Part I - The Founding

By most people's standard, The Founder was very wealthy. A successful entrepreneur since age seventeen, he built several multi-million dollar companies and amassed a fortune larger than that of most A-list Hollywood celebrities. He prided himself on having one of the largest private collections of Egyptian artifacts in the world and prominently displayed many of them in his Great Room. And it truly was a great room: having been to The Founder's mansion several times, Rob recalls that his two-story, four-bedroom home could easily fit inside the Great Room.


Six Months of Free Monitoring at Panopta for TDWTF Readers

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You may not have noticed, but in the footer of the site, there is a little banner that says:

Monitored by Panopta


Classic WTF: Quantum Computering

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When does anything but [0-9A-F] equal "2222"? Well, it's a holiday in the US today, so take a look at this classic WTF where that's exactly what happens… -Remy

A little while back, I posted a function that generated random hexadecimal-like strings for a GUID-like string to identify events. At first, I thought it (and the rest of the system that Taka's company purchased) was just bad code. But now that I look at it further, I'm stunned at its unbelievable complexity. I can honestly say that I've never seen code that is actually prepared to run a quantum computer, where binary just isn't as simple as 1's and 0's ...


Classic WTF: #include "pascal.h"

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It's Labor Day in the US, where to honor workers, some people get a day off, but retail stores are open with loads of sales. We're reaching back to the old days of 2004 for this one. -- Remy

Ludwig Von Anon sent in some code from the UI component of a large, multi-platform system he has the pleasure of working on. At first glance, the code didn't seem all too bad ...

procedure SelectFontIntoDC(Integer a) begin
 declare fonthandle fh;
 if (gRedraw is not false) then begin
   fh = CreateFontIndirect(gDC);
   SelectObject(gDC, fh);
   DeleteObject(fh);
 end;
end;


Build Totally Non-WTF Products at Inedo

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As our friends at HIRED will attest, finding a good workplace is tough, for both the employee and the employer. Fortunately, when it comes looking for developer talent, Inedo has a bit of an advantage: in addition to being a DevOps products company, we publish The Daily WTF.

Not too long ago, I shared a Support Analyst role here and ended up hiring fellow TDWTF Ben Lubar to join the Inedo team. He's often on the front lines, supporting our customer base; but he's also done some interesting dev projects as well (including a Source Gear Vault to Git migration tool).


Classic WTF: When the Query String is Just Not Enough

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It's a holiday weekend in the US, as as we prepare for the 4th of July, we have some query strings that are worth understanding. (original)--Remy

As Stephen A.'s client was walking him through their ASP.NET site, Stephen noticed a rather odd URL scheme. Instead of using the standard Query String -- i.e., http://their.site/Products/?ID=2 -- theirs used some form of URL-rewriting utilizing the "@" symbol in the request name: http://their.site/Products/@ID=2.aspx. Not being an expert on Search Engine Optimization, Stephan had just assumed it had something to do with that.

A few weeks later, when Stephan finally had a chance to take a look at the code, he noticed something rather different...


Classic WTF: The Accidental Hire

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At least we get a summer break, I suppose. Not like over at Doghouse Insurance. Original -- Remy

Doghouse Insurance (as we'll call them) was not a pleasant place to work. Despite being a very successful player in their industry, the atmosphere inside Doghouse was filled with a constant, frenzied panic. If Joe Developer didn't delay his upcoming vacation and put in those weekend hours, he might risk the timely delivery of his team's module, which might risk delaying the entire project, which might risk the company's earnings potential, which might risk the collapse of the global economy. And that's just for the Employee Password Change Webpage project; I can't even begin to fathom the overarching devastation that would ensue from a delayed critical project.

To make matters worse, the primary business application that poor souls like Vinny maintained was a complete nightmare. It was developed during the company's "database simplification" era and consisted of hundreds of different "virtual attribute tables" stuffed into four real tables; it was a classic case of The Inner-Platform Effect. But amidst all this gloom and despair was an upbeat fellow named Chris who accidentally became a part of the Doghouse Insurance team.


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