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Comment: I nearly cost my company millions (Score 2) 333 333

I nearly cost my employer several million by fixing a bug.

The first task I was given in my new job was to look at an old system that printed labels to be put on containers of car parts. A message would come in on a serial cable saying what part was going to be needed within a few hours at a car assembly line, the parts were packed into stillages (a frame designed to hold a certain number of a certain part, like bonnets, bumpers, doors panels, etc.) and when a stillage was full, or when a certain amount of time had passed since the first part was picked, then a label was printed, applied to the stillage, and it was dispatched over the road to the factory.

Every time the serial number rolled over 9999 to 0001, the system would go wrong and stop working. This happened about once a month, and the help desk had a sheet of instructions on how to fix the problem. Some of the staff knew the fix off by heart.

I looked at the code, found a roll-over bug, and fixed it. Everything was fine, and a couple of years went by with no problems.

Then, at 3 in the morning, the help desk called me and said that it had happened again. They didn't have the sheet of paper any more, and no-one could remember how to fix it. I rubbed the sleep from my eyes, and tried to get my brain into gear and remember what to do. It took me about an hour talking with a couple of help desk people, and between us we figured out what the fix was, and they called the warehouse and talked them through it.

The next day I talked with my colleagues, and found out that we had come within a few minutes of triggering a penalty clause for halting the production line that could have run into millions of pounds. This was back in the '90s when millions of pounds were a lot of money!

I looked back over the code, and found that there were actually two very similar bugs in the code, one of which happened fairly regularly, and one which only happend much more infrequently, but the same fix worked for both of them.

Back when I first started working in IT, my boss told me, "One day, you will probably make your million pound mistake. In our business, we build systems that, over the course of our careers, will save millions of pounds in lots of small ways. Eventually you will make a mistake, and one of those systems will go wrong, and it might cost millions. Your employer will bear the cost of it, which is why we don't earn those millions ourselves. You have to be prepared for that eventuality. If it happens while you're working for me then I will kick your arse, and maybe I will fire you, but I'd be wrong to do so, that's just the nature of the business that we are in."

Comment: Re: How is this news for nerds? (Score 1) 1082 1082

respectfully disagree, good sir. I come to /. for the political discourse because it is far above and beyond the vile discourse you find on most news sites. Here, people know how to debate. And while we aren't above getting personal and rude, generally the analysis here in the comments is insightful on both sides. Don't knock the political discourse on here, it's one of the best kept secrets on the internet.

Comment: This assumes that women are witless ninnies... (Score 1) 1082 1082

Whom, of course, the moment that polygamy becomes legal will immediately surrender their autonomy, careers, voting rights, and free will in general in order to cater exclusively to the nearest available rich man they can find, under the notion that a rich and powerful man can be a better arbiter of their own fate than their own selves. We will suddenly see a rush of beautiful hot women at every man worth 100K, eagerly negotiating with each other who gets to be first wife, second wife, etc, abandoning everything they've built in their lives just to get a slice of a rich man's pie, leaving all the not-so-rich and poor men to handle the ugly leftover dregs of femininity.

Comment: Re:this thing comes and goes. (Score 1) 816 816

For the tl;dr crowd, the South wanted to count them as 5/5ths of a person and the North wanted to count them as 0/5ths of a person.

The problem is that the North came around to the right side of things with respect to rights, while the South only wanted slaves counted - not to give them actual rights.

But the fact is, things change. Things changed between the establishment of the constitution and the Civil War, just as things have changed between the Civil War and now. The time for this symbol is gone. If Southerners are the true patriots they claim to be, they'd throw away this symbol to tyranny and rebellion against their country and pledge allegiance to their real flag instead of worshiping the Confederation's rebellious symbol.

As I said, things change. But the South seems to be too stubborn to change fast enough. We in the North are tired of your social heel-dragging trying to keep us in 1950's America. The bottom line is that the world has changed. Fucking adapt, already. Or secede. Don't care which. Just get out of the way.

Comment: Re:Um, what about history? (Score 1) 816 816

Racism goes away one thought, one step, one action, one symbol at a time. It does not go away quickly, nor without struggle. The de-consecration and minimization of this symbol of tyranny and rebellion is a long overdue step in this progress towards the end of racism. Accept that many find this symbol distasteful or offensive and that its time has come and gone long ago. And just as the fact that we have freedom to go about yelling the n-word doesn't mean that corporations have to give everyone a megaphone for their offensive speech, no corporation are required to give racist symbols a platform.

Comment: Re:Abstraction (Score 1) 383 383

A good abstraction leads a user towards understanding, no matter what his level; a good UI reflects the abstraction, leading the user to use it properly, again, no matter what his or her level.

Git may have good abstractions (I'll take your word for it), but it has no UI to reflect it and so is opaque to many. In my attempts to use git, I've grown tired of wading through shitty web pages all of which give examples of use, but no abstraction description and no description of how these abstractions are to be properly used.

If you could point me to one of these documents that clearly explain git's abstractions and their proper use (actually, I'll take the abstractions only - I can probably work out proper use from that), one hopefully having both Windows and Linux information - professionals sometimes have to use both - I'd appreciate it. Until then, I'll have to be fine with using SVN locally and attempting to avoid git as much as possible.

Comment: Re:There is no perfect lang (Score 2) 296 296

No one denies that one can write bad code in any language, but the accusation still stands - languages can help or hinder understandability with their syntax. C++, and it's desire for backward compatibility with C, led to some really unfortunately syntactic decisions that make the code less legible. Operator overloading isn't very good for understanding of performance characteristics (Is this adding 2 ints or an array?). Memory management has provided code bulk (because not everything can be RAII) and the plethora of pointer idioms one must navigate if one has any sort of sizable codebase that has been maintained by many others over the years. Now add on features and libraries so broad and complex that organizations actually have their own dialects of C++ (or so I am told) that their employees are allowed to use. Need I go on?

Frankly, C++ has advantages in some places, but aiding in making code legible and understandable is not one of C++'s strong suits. And I've worked on (and probably helped generate) enough crappy C++ codebases to know of which I speak.

Comment: Re:It's more the Government than the ISPs. (Score 1) 181 181

Bullshit. Mirroring is not the issue. Government data collection, though a problem in its own right, is not the issue. The problem is with the corporations controlling the network space throttling bandwidth to screw over customers. A simple solution would be taking the "free enterprise" out of long-haul communication infrastructure. A government monopoly couldn't do much worse than these deceitful assholes. Or, of course, regulating the shit out of them until they straighten up. But I'm sure I'm just getting tired of their corporate shenanigans.

"Even if you're on the right track, you'll get run over if you just sit there." -- Will Rogers