Swine Flu Pandemic

by agrace 30. April 2009 06:58

As the World faces a swine flu pandemic, or gripa del marrano as they say in Mexico, one tries to keep one's sense of humor!


Relieve your Swine Flu Symptoms with Oinksip


Debugging ASP.NET - Irish Style

by admin 2. April 2008 19:09

Irish Aplomb I work in a fairly relaxed development environment. I guess you could call it RAD. Most Web development work is Rapid Application Development by nature anyway. That said, I'm not totally ignorant of the newer methodologies such as Test Driven Development (TDD). However, all the tools and methodologies in existence will not make the slightest bit of difference if your mindset and approach are out of whack for the job at hand.

10 Rules for Debugging - Irish Style

1) Keep it simple, stupid (KISS principle). Many people get in a bind because when given a choice between a simple solution and one that seems more elegant, they of course go for the latter. Elegant code is achieved through experience and refactoring. Get it working first!

2) Divide and conquer. Why look for a needle in two haystacks? Narrow it down.

3) Don't let your emotions get the better of your thinking - always a recipe for disaster.

4) Never panic. Only wimps panic. In the face of insurmountable odds, get drunk, read Hemingway and proclaim your genius loudly to all.

5) Your brain works productively for 40 minutes at a time. This is a universal rule and you are not different. At the 40 minute bell, go away from your desk for 10 minutes as you're only going downhill from that point on. For some strange reason, most people cannot accept this fact. Look around you at work to see who the idiots are. "Gee, I'm sure to get promoted if I never leave my desk"... and pigs will fly.

6) Do not presume that the first change you make to your code that makes it run, is the actual solution. You may have been looking at a symptom...

7) There's a reason why error messages are neither friendly nor helpful. If the guys who penned them were shining beacons of descriptive prose, they would be working for the New Yorker instead of doing that job in the first place. Guess how they get their kicks? Never rely on your bog-standard error message clueing you in to anything other than the onset of an early ulcer.

8) Learn how to think, if you haven't already. I was in my 30's before I started asking the right questions about anything, let alone software development. Ask someone what they really want in life and 90% of the lemmings will reply that "they want to be happy". See where I'm going with this?

9) Creativity is your number one asset. Be creative and learn how to develop new synaptic pathways in that grey matter. The brain needs to be exercised in different ways, regularly. Get out of bed on a different side tomorrow and put your clothes on in a different order. If you really want a laugh, do everything in the washroom with the opposite hand to the one you normally use.

10) As for ASP.NET, if you don't know the life cycle inside-out, you shouldn't be wasting your time skipping a chapter to debugging in the first place ;-)

I've often jokingly thought to myself that if I was ever pulled over by a member of the Californian constabulary using a speed detection radar gun, that I would demand to see the source code in court. I'm neither a lawyer nor a physicist, but my intuition tells me that machines used for measuring anything need to be calibrated correctly and frequently. In addition, they are driven by software. Hypothetically speaking, since I would never break the speed limit, just because a machine tells someone I'm speeding, that doesn't make it so. Software never makes mistakes, right?

On a similar note, the Minnesota Supreme Court recently ruled that the makers of the Intoxilyzer 5000EN Breathalyzer turn over the source code by August 17 to defense attorneys for use in a DUI case. Since this is not likely to happen, the guy will most likely walk free. Interestingly, it seems that the Intoxilyzer is based on the old Z-80 microprocessor from 1976. The software that runs the breathalyzer is 24K worth of sophistication. This would be funny if it wasn't so serious. Peek me, poke me, but don't send me to prison on the word of an antique games chip as an expert witness.

The gap between technology and some form of sensible, enforceable legislation continues to widen. And it's not just speed guns and breathalyzers. Recently, a spate of traffic light cameras have appeared in my local twin-city area. Some say that they solved local budget woes overnight with the almost $400 fine for busting a light. If you go before the court, they present nice shiny B+W pictures of your face and your license plate. "Yes, that's me and that's my car. But where's the picture of the traffic light your honor? It was as green as the fields of Ireland when I drove though it..."

Speaking of tickets, we have the speed monitored here by aircraft. If you end up in court as the result of a radio call from the pilot to the police officer, make sure the pilot is present in court along with the police officer when you cross-examine the witnesses ;-)