Thoughts on Stack Overflow podcast 33

I submitted a question to the Stack Overflow podcast, hosted by Jeff Atwood and Joel Spolsky, and it’s answered! Hear about it at podcast 33. I’m at around the 49m50s mark. I sound only marginally better than the Tech65 podcast I was in… So some thoughts about the discussion in the podcast…

24 by 7 on call

For a period of time in my programming career, I was to be available, 24 by 7, to attend to some rare disaster in the unlikely event that critical programs failed spectacularly. Usually it’s a program malfunction or data problem. When I first received my pager (yes, it’s a long time ago…), I was apprehensive. I placed it on a stool and moved the stool beside my bed, just in case I couldn’t hear the beeps when I was asleep.

After a while though, it turned out that the crises were critical, but not that critical. I could still attend to them the next day. The staff on shift duty would page me, and all they really needed was for me to tell them that the error was duly noted, and that I’ll attend to it the next day.

And being the dedicated fella that I am (was?), during one such fine day, when it was a public holiday, when my home country was celebrating her birthday, I returned to the office to attend to one such error after receiving such a page. *bows floridly*

Killer triggers

I agree with Joel Spolsky on this. Triggers should never have been invented. I’m maintaining an application that relied heavily on triggers to do business logic. I’d be firing some innocuous insert statement, and many other tables get updated.

This gets very irritating when you’re testing out code, and you need some data in that first table. It gets worse when you factor in foreign keys and so on… It’s a nightmare…

The only reasonable use for triggers is for logging an audit trail. Even then, I believe SQL Server has in-built capabilities to do that, so you don’t need to create an actual table to store the audit logs. Too bad I’m using Sybase…

That favourite word

It’s just an observation. Alright, I get a little irritated about it. I find it pathological that Jeff Atwood has a pathological fondness for the word “pathological”. There. Although, in his defense, he didn’t use the word in the last couple of podcasts. Some of his blog posts on the other hand…

There was a period of time, when the programming sites I visited had a fad of using the word “egregious”. It means bad, like what-in-tarnation-were-you-thinking bad. Usually used in the context of WTF-like code. Perhaps the programmers felt a need to exert their linguistic capabilities…

If you watch travel documentaries, you might have come across Samantha Brown. I love her Passport to Europe series. She too, has her favourite word. It’s “quintessential”. As in “This is the quintessential town”. I started watching out for when she uses the word.

I’m starting to do that for Jeff and “pathological” too. You know, that’s pathological of me… let me go find something better to do. At least I listen to the podcasts in a safe environment. Jeff nearly killed someone who was driving.