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Re: The joys of bad code

by McMahon (Chaplain)
on Oct 26, 2004 at 21:51 UTC ( #402810=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to The joys of bad code

I can't resist one more story, from the same company responsible for FATAL-OUT. (As a tester, I see the *weirdest* stuff)...

So besides FATAL-OUT, this company had a custom config tool that was so byzantine that it took weeks of training and mistake-making to grasp even the bare essentials of what it was supposed to do.

This system ran on the Tandem Guardian OS, so as always when I can't figure something out, I crank up the Tandem debugger to check it out. As I start to step into the stack, things are looking weirder and weirder.

I realized that the original author, rather than use the normal OS commands, has *re-written* each Tandem command. And he's done it in Tandem's proprietary programming language, TAL.

This is equivalent to writing from scratch in C and including in your application things things like "ls" or "./" or "cd", giving the user the impression that he is interacting with the OS and not with your program. This was unbelievably paranoid in every sense of the word. He is *impersonating* the actual OS. Did he not trust the native implementation? Tandem was/is *the* fault-tolerant system, those system calls are rock-solid. Did he want to be able to spoof the users later on? Who can tell...

The more I looked at the code, the more I suspected that the developer had a very particular mental illness. I asked around and sure enough, he'd been fired years ago for a substance abuse problem. It showed in his code.

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