Recent Feature Articles

Nov 2017

Classic WTF: The Shadow over ShipPoint

by in Feature Articles on
What's this? A re-run of a spooky article on the day after Thanksgiving? Well, what's spookier than Black Friday? --Remy
Original

In the winter of 2012-13, I was fired from the ill-rumored e-commerce company known as ShipPoint. Though I remained stalwart to the end, the wretched darkness embodied in ShipPoint's CTO and his twisted worshipers dogs me still, a malignant growth choking the very life out of my career aspirations. And although I fight every day to forget, to leave my time at ShipPoint behind, I still awaken in the uttermost black of night, shuddering, my mind wrenching itself free from nightmare's grip. I record this grim history only because I fear I may soon slip irredeemably into madness.

It was 2011 when, freshly downsized, I found myself wandering the LinkedIn Jobs Directory, seemingly in vain. I had almost made up my mind to hang out my shingle as a consultant when I received an email from a recruiter. I don't remember his name, nor the firm that he claimed to represent, only that he demanded that we meet in person; apparently he was privy to a lucrative opportunity whose details could only be revealed face to face. While suspicious, I must admit I was gripped by curiosity — tinged, I must now believe, with a touch of the wild. I met the recruiter, a grim, swarthy fellow of furtive glance and questionable heritage, in a refuse-choked alley far from the central business district. It was there, amidst the dumpsters and commercial-grade recycling bins, that I first heard in a grating croak the name whose syllables I would one day shudder to write.


Jumped The Gun

by in Feature Articles on

1904 Olympic sprint

Sheldon was a support engineer at Generic Media Co. In his 6 years with the company, he'd enjoyed working for several great managers—but then came the reorg. Once the dust cleared, he found himself in the wrong department, reporting to one of the most loathed individuals in the entire organization.


The For While Loop

by in Feature Articles on

Alex R. was the architect of a brand spanking new system that was to read inputs from numerous other internal systems, crunch a whole bunch of numbers, record everything in a database and spew forth a massive report file. He spent months designing the major details of the system, and more months designing the various sub-components. From all this came a variety of business-level data structures which spawned POJOs and the underlying DB tables to store assorted inputs, flags and outputs. He did a fairly thorough job of documenting all the interfaces, and provided detailed specifications for all of the next-level methods that were left as TBDs in the design.

Java Programming Cover

The project manager then assigned units of work to numerous offshored junior developers who managed to get virtually everything wrong. If they couldn't understand what a spec required, they changed the spec to reflect what they actually wrote. This caused Alex to start versioning the requirements document in order to catch the changes by the junior developers so that they could be rolled back.


Theory Versus Reality

by in Feature Articles on

I went to college at the State University of New York at Albany, where back then, most of the Computer Science curriculum courses were entitled Theory of xxx. The programming assignments were the usual small-scope demonstrations of some feature of programming, typically something an experienced developer would code in 15-20 LOC.

My Masters project was to modify the TeX typesetting system (by Knuth) to leverage the more advanced features of a new typesetting system. It took me about two months to reverse engineer it only to find that the entire required modification amounted to a single character change.

Albert Einstein c1890s

Replacement Trainwreck

by in Feature Articles on

GreenMountainTrainWreck

There's an old saying about experience in IT: Some people have 10 years of experience, and some have 1 year 10 times. Every day, someone learns the hard way how true this statement really is.