Re: Coding styles



before the moderators shut down this trip down memory lane…..but, I think it is relevant…as coding is a part of the BitX family and its experimentation…..

we all have stories…..

the last ‘move’ in programming I made was to attempt to work with one of those hoarders…to implement some modernization and a new system….while simultaneously helping him maintain old code (later the CIO told me it was to learn what he was doing as I was stubborn enough and everyone else had failed)..he was a mid level IT manager by default….he was on call overnight every night ‘rescuing' his department in a much larger corporation. He had so many kludges that he wouldn’t share with me…..not with 3 years of working ‘with’ him…..he had a mental breakdown and split….and even though I was in the search for a neurological dilemma myself…..I was able to work on his garbage in the last year, by coming in every other day at noon with a workplace accommodation (partly because they couldn’t get anyone else to willing work on cleaning up his garbage)… while in the hobby world…..some newbies might say…..what is all the fuss about ‘style’ and comments…..if the code works, who cares?…..we know better….

the real story is my first two weeks in this department….he told me…..take a few days and walk through the code and get an idea of what our department does….we all have done this….so I started documenting what was happening… had one of the biggest sins in coding in my estimation……thousands of lines of supposively ‘UNUSED’ code…..old supposed retired code, retired business rules……but the code was left in place… wan’t running…..or so they thought….or better….hoped.

and none of that was going to change….

I found one subroutine that I really didn’t like… looked like it would run on a pretty regular basis and prevent billing…..but, it would take an hour to explain why by showing the multiple ‘retired’ paths that got you there…..if you brought that up you were either trusted…..or he had to give you a blackboard and stack of green bar…..and an hour…..

I stood my ground for two weeks…..refusing to do anything else…..if I was going to be in the same area with him for any time he was going to trust me and ‘work with me' or I was going to walk…..

short version…..he reluctantly implemented my commenting out the old code in an appropriate place…..that department then had the best month of collections they had ever had…..everyone was happy….except my boss….and I lived through 3 more years of that jerk… didn’t help my relationship with him that it was around Christmas time and the company was drawing names from attaboy slips every month…..that month….my name on that slip was $1000 Samsung big screen….

oh…, comments, unused code…..change management, lions, tigers, and bears, oh my

so, not to scare anyone away from coding…..its just worth doing it right the first time, which doesn’t mean doing exactly like anyone else, but, to just make it easy for everyone else and yourself


On May 7, 2018, at 3:17 PM, Art N4EZZ <> wrote:


I normally just sit here and listen to all of you smart folks with the
hope that I can learn something from your discussions, but this trip
down memory lane is too much.

PDP-11/70s, VT-100 terminals and pre-System V Unix the old Version 7,
later all sorts of Unixes and Stratus VOS as well. Yep, I am an old Bell

First screen editor, Emacs, yes I still use it. IDEs, yes although I use
them mostly for compile/debug cycles.

I was for many years a system administrator and typically wrote programs
to accomplish the various utility functions that you would expect. I
also wrote a number of programs to support some rather large conversion

The scariest words I ever heard in a staff meeting, here is some code
install it on XYZ machine "it should work just fine". Almost always that
translated to "you will spend at least a week getting it to compile and
actually run".

So coding style, don't care but be consistent, if you are consistent I
can figure it out.

Functions and variables should describe what they are used for.

Comments, yes please, if you do something that might be
counter-intuitive then please explain why as well as what.

To finish, something I learned back then about unintended consequences.
After 20 hours working with Bell Labs on a problem in a telephone switch
we found the problem, the fix took about 20 seconds. Before the Bell
Labs guys dropped off the call one of them, I think it was Dennis said,
"you know I wrote that code and I never imagined it could do that".

Thanks for keeping my old mind active and it is back to learning mode
for me.

Art N4EZZ <>
GnuPG key ID 0x6712DD0E
Suppose you were an idiot. And suppose you were a member of Congress.
But I repeat myself.
Mark Twain, a Biography

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