Seven War Stories and a Moral


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Seven Victories over the Forces of Chaos & Entropy; with some Morals attached for the Instruction & Edification of the Young

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Seven War Stories and a Moral

  1. 1. 7 War Stories & a Moral John Ashmead Mpsig November 2Nd, 2013
  2. 2. Informix Stored Procedure Template ✤ Stored procedure -- about 100 lines long & did nothing! ✤ Standard comments! ✤ Standard security checks! ✤ Logged that it ran! ✤ Copy & hack! ✤ Most useful thing I did at 1838 apparently???
  3. 3. Reading the meta data ✤ All the foreign keys are in the meta data! ✤ Most stored procedures are just joins & a few fields! ✤ So give it the tables & it can lookup the join keys! ✤ Generated 100K lines in < 2 minutes! ✤ 90% useable, 8% good starting point, 2% -- what is life without work?! ✤ Two month contract done in 3 days
  4. 4. How to lie to the software ✤ Only four fonts; needed eight! ✤ Needed only four at one time, however! Did have to use the font tables! ✤ So, just mapped the four we needed on the way in & back on the way out.! ✤ Wrote a shell script to lie systematically! ✤ Got idea at 11:30 am on a Saturday in a garden
  5. 5. Brain damaged co-worker ✤ Had negative typing speed! ✤ Wrote a 4 up address program he couldn’t screw up! ✤ So he formatted our journal articles using it!! ✤ Finally gave up & just put him in front of a pile of envelopes
  6. 6. File system checker ✤ Checked for overlaps, not in backups, & so on! ✤ 1000 lines, written in a single day. ! ✤ One bug, co-worker worked it out! ✤ Had every setting known to be needed by man! ✤ Operators said they needed just one: fix it!
  7. 7. The report of many colors ✤ 60% hit rate on video; should have gotten 90%! ✤ four departments each pointing the finger in three directions! ✤ Wrote report of: of 100 going in to your stage, what % escaped? Red, yellow, green! ✤ Turned out the damage about equally spread out! ✤ A great silence descended on the company or at least the four departments
  8. 8. Falling off the edge of the world ✤ Idiot switchers kept overflowing their 64K buffers! ✤ Had trouble calling home when the satellite told them to! ✤ Wrote a report: switchers at the edge of the world, with those most delinquent in orange & red! ✤ Wrote a mad-polling script to hammer them. Operators loved this! ✤ Tweaked continuously
  9. 9. Twelve for one ✤ Previous programmer had died; moonlighting IRS agent.! ✤ 12 copies of main report; 3 minute gaps on ideas, 11 edits would be right! ✤ Told lab director, I can do it the same way. Or I can spend two days consolidating using “make” & “m4”, so there is really only one report! ✤ Take the two days!
  10. 10. And a Moral ✤ Know the tech! ✤ Know the business! ✤ Take a walk in the garden