Aboutdev, physicist, rantee
Joined devRant on 6/12/2016
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Just wanted to make a clean install on my iMac. What could possibly go wrong?!
Cleaning the hard disk was interrupted by a process running (kextcache). Catalina wouldn't install ("Incomplete systen on target device". Dropping the terminal I could somehow force unmounting and wipe the disk. Had a BSOD in between. Catalina would still not install ("Failed to install pre boot volume"). Later erasing the disk got blocked by the kernel itself. Felt like trouble and it was: Next time I was greeted with a blinking folder containing a questionmark instead of the bitten Apple.
Last resort: Internet recovery. Installing El Capitan was said to take 7 hours so I took a USB time machine backup of latest Catalina. Installed it, but on reboot it get's stuck when progress bar is at 100%. But at least I've a working recovery again. Yeah, progress!5
You know what's the worst in doing software?
being assigned that dreadful project, that's doomed and cursed just from the start. Nobody dared to try or touch it for 7 years, because it's destined to fail. You will never get the resources to do it properly, all the constrains are just against you. Even as the requirements bars are lowered and lowered you barely make it. You keep testing that shit with QA for like 8 months past schedule. Then before release some core changes need to be done. It passes QA, but you somehow now it's just a ticking time bomb. It will just crumble and fall somewhere out there, if somebody dares to use that shit for real.
And so it goes.
Bug reports coming in.1
Fuck, I'll always be a noob. Knowing next to nothing about software development, hacking, exploits - just anything.
Felt a bit proud to had reached the level "hacker" on hack the box. Was fun solving stego, crypto and reversing challenges, diving into assembly the first time. Felt cool stepping through a disassemblied executable with radare, and understanding what a NOP slide is...
However all the illusion crumbled down, when I watched this CCC talk on OpenBSD security, where the speaker was underwhelmed with one of OpenBSD mitigations, where they tried to disallow them: "NOP slides?! Srly? No one is using that anymore. Just look at current exploits."
I felt so stupid, which I probably am. Will never catch up with those guys.
But whatever. In the end we all know nothing. We have no clue, but some are more apt in disguising it behind big speech.
(really like this German song: https://youtube.com/watch/...
Those lines always give me a chuckle:
"Man has no idea.
The house has no idea.
The tree has no idea.
The fawn has no idea.
The squid has no idea.
The tapir knows, but doesn't tell us.")3
It's time we treat social media like (trash) TV: it's all fake!
(can I buy a "++" - I hope not so, but who knows, everything is possible on the interwebs: your refrigerator liking Facebook pages or videos played in one pixel of a web page to generate more views...)3
Fuck XCode! -
Yesterday I had the stupid idea to rename an icon file. Checked that XCode was building the application still fine. Ran it over the build server: Failed, complaining about the old missing icon file! Checked again and again, but there was no friggin' reference to the old file in the whole repo.
Log in to the machine clear the build folder and try to build the component again. Bang still same error and the references to no longer existing files reappear.
Turns out XCode was caching those references somewhere in the home directory as "DerivedData" and after deleting those, I could build again... but why on earth are you building a cache if you cannot properly invalidate it? Just to waste our time?
"Delete all code!" That should be the mantra!
Was watching some stuff from destroyallsoftware.com. Not entirely convinced. So I should cook up my own shit.
So here is how the argument goes:
There's quite some negativity in the term "legacy" software. Partly it may be the envy to software that runs on actual machines and is not that phantasm, that perfect first lines on a greenfield project until it gets messed up as it has to put up with all the real world messiness. But the negativity it deserves is actually for the code that we cannot get rid of. This ugly class or function that soaked all the complexity and functionality so it defies any positive change. And always when it appears on your screen, it irks you, enrages you, makes you punch the screen, because you can almost feel the distaste physically. - *That* is the definition of "legacy" in its true negativity. No software should be like that. On the contrary. Every line should be replaceable, dispensable, disposable. At the verge to deletable. Because you know: the best code is no code.
This is where my hatred of code could get productive: Delete all the wretched, loathsome stuff and replace it, with something that just sucks less and can be thrown away any time. Don't expect beauty or perfect design. It'll never finish.4
Hell, I always thought I was a team player, but is it a great week being the sole developer (all the other on vacation). So I didn't get interrupted all the time, read overblown PR. Still, even in their absence I spent about three days fixing their build issues and PR's, but I could sit down and read the code, some documentation to get a better understanding why it all sucks and what we should do with our pain in the ass build system.
It's really a blast, deleting some stupid code, removing superfluous dependencies and above all leaving snarky remarks in the commit messages and code comments. Just letting some steam off. Code is where my devrant is.
Sometimes my hatred for code is so.. overwhelming that I think I need a sabbatical or should even stop altogether.
Let's face it. All code sucks. Just on different levels.
Want to go all bare metal? Love low level bit fiddling. Well, have fun searching for concurrency, memory corruption bugs. Still feel confident? Get ulcers from large C/C++ code base already in production, where something in the shared memory, function pointer magic is not totally right?
So you strive for more clean abstractions, fancy the high level stuff? Well, can you make sense of gcc's template error messages, are you ready for the monad, leaving behind the mundane everyday programmers, who still wonders about the scope of x and xs?
Wherever you go. Isn't it a stinking shit pile of entropy, arbitrary human made conventions? You're just getting more familiar with them, so you don't question them, they become your second skin, you become proficient - congrats you're a member of the 1337.7
I don't write monads,
nor intricate templates,
my code shall be stupid
and simple - free of any
arbitrariness and superfluity.
Clear and evident.2
Audience question to Uncle Bob: Which parts of the code do you unit test? What about code coverage?
Uncle Bob: Well (chuckling).. You test the parts of the code that you want to work.
I would have wanted to bring up SICP again, with the great big warning about the evil assignment operator and state and all the troubles that ensue (just think: concurrency).
But in a way, nothing has really come up from this or my attempts to dig deeper into "everything is a file/object" (Unix, smalltalk), neither from formal languages or the Curry-Howard correspondence. - Maybe there's just nothing, no firm bottom ground to discover. Like the physicists going for their world formula, but instead of a grand, beautiful symmetry that explains everything, we face a shattered world of (incompatible) theories, that is ever so more complex and chaotic through our theories applied to it. There may not be a Platonic ideal world of ideas, but rather partial constructs explaining some particular perceptions.
Similarly the one perfect programming language to rule them all, the perfect abstraction, pattern is probably just another prepubertal fantasy to be sunk.
So maybe instead of seeking the perfect epiphany, we should go for something quite different: the nagging, brooding uneasiness that something is wrong there, that there's something to be fixed... that even negative feeling would propel us to search further, not to stay in whatever is touted as the real thing.
Such irritations I found with Pieter Hintjens' writings. For example when he actively engaged in conspiracy theories. And I'm still not sure, if he just went off the cliff or he's even right alluding that these theories are an act of sanity, a self-defence against the hidden evil mights. I just don't know. Anything.
How rotten and half bitten is this most valuable Apple? See that they get quite some bashing for their latest Catalina release. And they deserve every portion of it, I think.
Honestly, when I saw our testers going through the different betas, which hardly installed and on which our software kept behaving differently, nevertheless they pushed their Golden Master and released. Didn't seem a good idea.
Currently I had to update to Catalina to check some small broken feature of ours and now the active window keeps on losing focus every few minutes. Have to grab the mouse and click there again to continue working. Really fucking annoying. Hope I can track it down some time.. or trash my iMac.3
Is this a technological metaphor?
For some Hacker challenge I was reading up on different keyboard layouts, Dvorak and stuff. And the technological lock in is baffling me: The rationale for qwerty was to reduce jamming of the typewriter letter arms. Today that doesn't make sense anymore, yet we stick to it. Wondering how much of today's tech is dragged down by things like that.
This stuff often also makes me weary of the first decisions, like choosing a protocol or data base - its kind and layout, because we might be stuck with it for reasons of backwards compatibility.... Like when Microsoft opted for the backslash as a directory separator..33
Some people are really getting high on this Agile shit. Probably because they learned some new bullshit bingo phrases - and it suits them: lots of vapory talk and expensive meetings and others will have to do the work anyway, while they can circlejerk on how to have shorter iterations to improve the time to market, increase the business value, inspect and adapt to faster deliver a minimal viable product - yeah, do the agile transformation, update to the digital age, you noobs. Throwing around some catchy phrases will let you compete with Google? Maybe need some blockchain or machine learning?
While you are clustering your post its, the coders who keep the ship afloat, sit in their legacy code base that's so bitrot they are mainly doing bugfix releases without a single feature for three fucking years. Consider this.5
One nightmarish project that was doomed from the beginning, had me as the sole developer. I could hardly sleep when we began testing on a separate test system, but with (nearly) all the config stored in shared memory and copied from the production system, I dreaded, half awake, that the production server data base connection was still configured in the test system and that it was shooting all it's test data repeatedly to prod.
Finally drove to company in middle of the night at 4 o'clock. Checked everything was OK, tried to sleep 3 hours before the start of the work day.
This system also had the most hideous memory corruption in some shared memory that was used across several processes and should have been thoroughly protected by a mutex, but somehow, sometimes this crucial map, that was used to speed up the access to all the customer data just contained garbage.
Still haunts me to that day. (Like xkcd's unresolved tension of a non-matching parenthesis - an unresolved bug.
Me: Could you give me the path to your Desktop folder, please?
Linux Distros: ... *shrug*, nope?!10
Just as an extension of last rant to explain how much fun it is to keep up with Apple's security through obscurity bullshit.
AFAIK this full disk access (FDA) feature was touted to protect a user's data on macOS. Programs that want to access those files need to request the user's permissions to do so. Now to the fun part: Apple is not providing any API. A staff member suggested, that you should only try to access the files your app needs and if you can't as for the user's allowance. One should not use some fixed files and try to access them, because their locations might change, as well as their (UNIX file) access rights (ACL), or if they fall under FDA. Not to speak about the other security features that might hinder you accessing files (you might be sandboxed, or the files might be subject to SIP/rootless).
Honestly, you should be starting to take drugs, if you want to stay sane. I mean UNIX ACL are weird enough: e.g. you can make a directory only readable for root such that a user cannot list the files inside, but you can place files inside that the user can read (if she knows about their existence). On macOS you'll never know. You may have all the rights to access a file,.. but Apple will only give you the finger.
As they always do to us developers.2
Fucking Apples hold my bananas! Collegue and me see our naïve thought refuted that a commercial vendor, most valuable company would create an OS that is not as split and fucked up as Linux distros.
It is hard even where to begin, so deep is the shitfest they are putting developers through with Mojave and Catalina.
Our testers weren't hardly able to install Catalina beta 6-7. Behavior of kernel extension and full disk access varying on a daily basis. Fixing these bugs is like nailing a pudding to the wall.
Makes me wanna quit software. Whom should you trust if even your OS is flaky as hell?9
webbrowser should know 'ls' command. - would be great for the web to support it.
Or am I the only one, who sleepy, coffeine-deprivated, swapped out of multitasking, not knowing where he is, goes for default command to orientate oneself: *ls* - even in a browser addressbar?8
Fuck external stake holders, like politicians, those know-nothings, that pump their ego by finding multiple "issues" with our software like how we display the privacy data agreement and impose their stupid fucking nonsense rules on our software. Even if it is not part in any official law or GDPR
So there is the request that one needs to scroll down the whole data privacy crap nobody reads until you can press "Continue" and we *have* to implement that shit. Although it is completely out of line with Apple's usual installer handling. Nobody will understand it. It cripples the workflow.
But some Mr. Important demanded it, as if he is protecting users with this and makes a great contribution to the data privacy in our country. Yeah! And guy is so high up, unreachable for us through all the layers of other people, leaving us no time and means to dissuade this shitty request. If all your 'ideas' are so great you should not be allowed to do jack shit.1
One of biggest epiphanies came through this fundamental critique in SICP of the assignment operator. Through years of imperative programming it seems so innocent, doesn't it? But that you lose referential transparency, run into the alias problem and fundamental difficulty to determine object equality (or of their instances) - that was kind of eye opening considering all the pain I had already experienced with state in concurrency.
(It led me so far to think it's an ontological issue, that even in the discrete computing universe we have not come so much further than Zenon's paradoxa on change.)7
The "AH"-moment when as a boy discovered that with this instructions in QBasic I could literally let the thing do *anything*.
The "HA"-moment only little afterwards that I'll probably never have a clue what a worthwhile thing to make it do would be.
Hackerman strikes back. Always thought the new knowledge about stego tools, reversing, enumeration, privesc were just my private amusement. But could now use it, hopefully resolving a severe crash by dropping our binary into radare2 (cutter) and ghidra, identifying some dangerous code.
Also it gives you new angles to look at things. E.g. the vectors your code might expose...4
The worst of Agile and Sc(r)um: All those people knowing the right way(™) to do it. Endless discussion about useless tooling: the proper use of the custom workflow in Jira, on when and how to create sub tickets. The hour-less meta-discussions on what should be discussed where and when (what's subject of the backlog refinement, retro, etc), the roles: the PO's, what he should do, cannot, the PM's. Who is allowed to pull a ticket to the sprint or not. How many reviewers need to acknowledge a pull request. To and fro. Pointless, but fought with heart and blood, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.
And everywhere I hear: "In my previous company, we did Scrum like.. and it worked perfectly!"
Some of you might remember my rants on Mr. Gitmaster, with whom I thought I'd made my peace. Guess what? He's now a team member and turning into Mr. Agile - a more severe reincarnation! As our company starts flogging that dead horse of Agility, he seems to feel strong tailwind. Our team lead would constantly cut his monologues, but he's now on holiday, so we have no escape from the never ending: "In my previous company..."
If it was so great, why didn't you stay?
We are not allowed to pull a ticket to the sprint unless every team member is notified? I don't fucking care. If our software fails on customer's machines and I can fix it, I will do if there is a ticket, if it's in the sprint or not. Screw Scrum, if it is getting in the way of it. You can waste your hours discussing horseshit, I want to sit at my desk, deep in the test-compile loop and ship some fucking code.3
Because he gave us Psychobitch (https://youtube.com/watch/...)
His British humor,... just watch some talks..1
Agile my ass.
What has become of: "Individuals and interactions over processes and tools"?
A fuckton of rules and processes to do it the 'right' way: tickets, estimations, hours of sprint planning. Yeah, we're so professional we no longer have time to write code.
Note: manifest was mainly full of fluffy business buzzword bullshit (effective sustainable excellence), but one thing resonated:
>Simplicity--the art of maximizing the amount of work not done--is essential.
(I cherish every line of code deleted or unwritten, so it needn't be maintained)5