Neologism: Entropic debugging

entropic debugging - noun phrase - The phenomenon in which one can spend weeks on end debugging something using a multitude of techniques, give up in frustration and/or disgust for a couple of days, come back to the project and discover that somehow the bugs have magickally fixed themselves (as verified by diffs and file hashes if one cares to check).  The phenomenon is so named due to the second law of thermodynamics, which states that entropy can never decrease, only increase in an isolated system.  In other words, as entropy increases overall in the universe it somehow wiped out the …

Read more...

Have you tried turning it off and back on again?

Disclaimer: The content of this post does not reflect my current employer, or any of my clients at present.  I've pulled details from my work history dating back about 20 years and stitched them into a more-or-less coherent narrative without being specific about any one company or client because, as unfashionable as it may be, I take my NDAs seriously.  If you want to get into an IT genitalia measuring contest please close this tab, I don't care and have no interest.

Time was, back in the days of the home 8-bit computers, we were very limited in what we …

Read more...

Neologism: Debuggery

debuggery - noun - The unshakable feeling that your code is completely fucked when you spend multiple all nighters in a row tracking down a single annoying bug that winds up not being in your core code, nor any modules you've written, nor any of the libraries you're using, but in a different part of the system entirely.  In other words, your code is so poorly architected that you can't tell when problems aren't actually in your code.

Spectrum analysis on the cheap.

If you’ve ever hacked around with wireless communications, in particular data networking chances are you’ve come across the oh-so-nifty USB spectrum analyzers that operate in the gigahertz range (which 802.11a, b, and g networks, among other wireless applications, operate within). The idea is simple: you plug the analyzer into a USB port on your laptop, fire up the software, and you can see the whole spectrum broken down into channels with relative signal strengths representing activity on the screen just like in the movies. While granted this can be a useful tool for anyone doing serious RF …

Read more...

At last, system change tracking for Windows.

Windows XP, let me be clear. And they won't let you download it unless you're using IE on a known valid (by WGA) copy of Windows, but there are ways around that (thanks, cow-orker!).

Microsoft has released a utility for Windows XP that parses the System Restore data and shows you everything that's changed for a specified period of time to aid in debugging. It can show you what software has recently been installed, what hotfixes and Windows Components have been installed, what BHOs (browser helper objects - read 'call it spyware and be done with it') have infected IE, what …

Read more...

Random knowledge VI.

The actions of a systems cracker trying to get a foothold in someone's network by social engineering the people in the NOC and someone hunting for a job who is trying to get hold of a human being in the HR department somewhere in a company are not that different.



When writing Perl code, generally speaking the simplest code is what will do exactly what you need. If you overthink what you're working on, you won't get anywhere.. especially with the reverse operator.

Perl gives you enough rope to not only hang yourself but your entire family, too. Don't make …

Read more...

Random knowledge V.

GNU Screen makes coding so much easier: Run screen to multiplex your shell, then run a text editor in one, a debugger in another, have another shell open to compile.. no more mousing between windows. There isn't much of a learning curve, if you feel comfortable coding under Unix (or using the Cygwin tools for Windows) you'll pick it up in no time.



Sleeping just enough to recoup your strength so you can go out again isn't a good thing. Sleep enough to get all your energy back. Don't pull two or three all-nighters in a row, either. It'll crush …

Read more...