Tech

The curmudgeon’s take on the malpractices of software engineering

Review of “Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering” by Robert L. Glass.

Software changes at an accelerating pace. People, on the other hand, stay the same. That’s why some software engineering books are timeless classics: They speak to the human rather than the technical side of development. Robert Glass’s Facts and Fallacies of Software Engineering seems to be hailed as one such classic, and I too found this a highly rewarding read.

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Gaming

Review: Far Cry 4 – just another take on Far Cry 3

In an alternate world, Far Cry 3 and 4 could easily have switched places.

I recently blasted my way through the second half of Far Cry 4 after having meticulously collected and completed everything in its first half. The transition in my playing style happened when I realized that 1) much of Far Cry 4’s “unique” content is really just slight formulaic variations on the same concepts, which aren’t really that interesting in the first place, and 2) I’ve got better things to do. So here’s a ranty kind of review of Far Cry 4, which may be a bit negatively biased because I’m already grumpy about Ubisoft sandboxes’ lack of respect for my time.

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Tech

The slightly outdated and not entirely Pragmatic Programmer

Review of “The Pragmatic Programmer” by Andrew Hunt and David Thomas.

The Pragmatic Programmer: From Journeyman to Master promises to make you a better programmer with around 70 concrete tips covering many different aspects of software engineering. But while I would have hoped for 70 deeply practical and thoughtful tips, many of them aren’t really that great. Pragmatic Programmer lacks depth, and its age (15 years) means that some of its tips are not nearly as helpful today.

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Gaming

So Long, and Thanks for All the Draugr

On putting Skyrim away for good.

Skyrim, Land of my Ancestors,

I write this to you now, at the turn of the era, as my bones have grown weary and old. My arms and armor, imbued with powerful magic still as potent as in my glory days, have been laid to rest throughout your lands, to be discovered by the intrepid adventurers of the next age. Only the Thu’um remains to me now.

In this forsaken place at the far end of the world, I have little save my quill and parchment. It is to these tools I now turn in my final hours on the plane of Mundus. There are things I need to tell you.

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Books

Welcome to Extremistan – don’t feed the Bell Curve

Review of “The Black Swan” by Nassim Nicholas Taleb.

According to Socrates, “the only true wisdom is in knowing you know nothing.” In some respects then, Nassim Nicholas Taleb is very wise indeed, though judging by The Black Swan his ideas are better than his communication.

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Ramblings

Telegram vs. Signal

It’s not about security, it’s about getting away from Messenger.

Update 2016-01-11: Wire seems to be close to the perfect text/voice/video chat service. Thanks to Wolfgang Bremer for letting me know of Wire in the comments. If you’re interested you can read a review of Wire’s whitepapers by by a security researcher at the University of Waterloo, with responses by Wire. My original blog post follows.

Every once in a while I recommend Telegram to my Facebook friends, mostly as a privacy-centric alternative to Facebook Chat / Messenger. Recently a friend of mine pushed back against this recommendation, and suggested that I try out Signal instead. Incidentally, I use both, so here are some ramblings on Telegram vs. Signal.

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Tech

Unit testing” a WordPress widget

Some thoughts on how to test the functionality of a WordPress widget.

I recently finished developing my very first WordPress widget. It’s called GR Progress, and it shows books from your Goodreads shelves together with their reading progress (which, to my knowledge, no other Goodreads or WordPress widgets can do). In this post I want to talk about how I went about “unit testing” the widget.

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Tech

Uncle Bob and the importance of clean code

Review of “Clean Code: A Handbook of Agile Software Craftsmanship” by Robert C. Martin.

One of my earlier functions was a true abomination.

It was 250 lines long, accepted 18 input parameters, and was nested up to 9 levels deep with highly complex conditions at all levels. It’s not only gross; it’s horrible, and I wish it would just go away. But it does its job, and I would need to put in significant effort in restructuring the whole program if I wanted to do something about it. And you can bet I’m not touching it now, not with a ten-foot stick.

The worst part? It’s the central cog in an equally abominable class (written entirely by yours truly) producing these plots, which are still used during scientific rocket launches from Andøya to determine the optimal moment for pressing the big red button.

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Tech

Yes, you can get a software development job without knowing the relevant technologies

Soon I’ll start working with Xamarin. I just have to learn C# first.

I’ve heard it said that you can’t get a job doing something you’ve never done. What a load of equine droppings.

What follows is mostly a personal story of how I switched careers from academia to software development without really knowing the relevant technologies. More specifically, it’s about how I got a job as a C#/VB.NET/Xamarin developer when I started toying with those technologies just before the interview.

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Gaming

Quick-save – impacts on playing styles and difficulty

Quick-save has skewed my sense of difficulty and, surprisingly, made my playing styles more monotonous.

I was heading down a narrow corridor. My trusted KilLite 2k non-lethal taser at the ready, a MegaBlast 3000 Plasma Rifle on my hip, and the Widowmaker sniper on my back. I stopped before rounding the corner and considered my options. I knew a semi-open room laid just beyond. On the scaffolding up to the left, a sniper. I would have to take care not to be seen. Two guards with assault rifles patrolling the perimeter. The brute with the minigun lighting a smoke behind a crate, ready to jump into the fray if things got ugly. And at the far end of the hall – my target.

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