Politics, Weather, Photography, and the Dog
Monday 20 April 2015

(Note: The developer in question does not work for my company.)

I'm looking at some code in one of the products I'm responsible for, and I just came across this.

// ReSharper disable once RedundantAssignment
Tuple<List<SomeChartData>, string> objReportdata = null;

Let's review the WTFs:

  1. The developer didn't understand ReSharper's admonition that the "= null" is completely useless, so he disabled the warning.
  2. The Tuple is actually the return value of the method. It doesn't even need to be declared as a variable; it can simply be returned to the caller.
  3. Why are we using a Tuple in the first place?
  4. Oh; the string part of the Tuple is the title of the chart. This is a code smell, but I haven't analyzed it deeply enough yet to figure out how to clean it up.
  5. Wait, so why a Tuple? Why don't we simply have a first-class data transfer object that has everything one needs for a chart?
  6. OK, so even with a Tuple, why are we declaring it with a List instead of an IEnumerable or ICollection? What business is it of the calling method what concrete object we use to return chart data?
  7. Despite repeated directions to read our sodding code standards document, he named the variable—which is useless, remember—with a forbidden Hungarian prefix and used what I'm going to call for the moment "humping camel case." I don't know what that camel is really doing, but I'm pretty sure "data" should be capitalized.

The entire method of 40 lines had too many WTFs in it so I simply had ReSharper re-write it for me. It's now 20 lines, avoids the second of two doubly-nested foreach loops, and uses named constants instead of magic numbers. And it still stinks.

</rant>

Monday 20 April 2015 15:26:10 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Business | Work#

After almost two years, the trail opens June 6th:

Built on a long-defunct railroad line, the trail runs through Bucktown, Wicker Park, Logan Square and Humboldt Park.  Work on the $95 million project began in fall 2013.  Take a look at the path under construction.

When the trail opens, four of the access points will be through ground-level parks: Walsh Park, 1722 N. Ashland Ave.; Churchill Park, 1825 N. Damen Ave.; Julia de Burgos Park, 1805 N. Albany Ave.; and Park 567, 1805 N. Milwaukee Ave.

When completed, the 606 it will include six parks, an event plaza, an observatory, art installations, educational programming and other amenities, Emanuel said in a news release.

Parker and I will take a hike on it as soon as practical—possibly June 7th.

Monday 20 April 2015 13:18:09 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Biking | Chicago | Geography#

Parker didn't get picked up this morning by 8:15 so I had to cart him off to day care. Apparently the guy showed up around 8:20. But no matter, because at that point I was nearly an hour past the time I usually leave and nearly 90 minutes past his usual Monday pick-up time.

So, survey: should I just trust that he'll get picked up and leave him home? Or should I continue to make sure he leaves the house before I do, just in case there's a problem and they can't pick him up?

Monday 20 April 2015 11:07:30 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Parker#
Friday 17 April 2015

New Republic's John Paul Rollert explains:

That a flight on Spirit will occasionally cost you less than $40 highlights for its defenders the airline’s essential promise: bargain basement ticket prices. “Offering our low fares requires doing some things that some people complain about,” [Spirit’s CEO, Ben] Baldanza wrote in an email to the Dallas Morning News last April, after the paper ran a story about the egregious number of complaints his company receives. “[H]owever, these reduce costs which gives our customers the lowest fares in the industry.” The contention is not unreasonable, it's merely disingenuous. Baldanza would have us believe that the frustration with Spirit is simply a matter of obtuse passengers confusing the constraints of a low-cost carrier with a wanton unwillingness to afford First Class frills. Most people, however, don’t expect artisanal mustard at McDonald's or concierge service at Save-a-Lot. The discontent is not a consequence of failing to meet ridiculous expectations, but flouting those that are entirely reasonable.

Success breeds admirers. In December, Delta announced that it was introducing five categories of service, including its answer to Spirit’s Bare Fare: Basic Economy. In addition to its precarious grammar, Basic Economy does not allow passengers to pick their seats, change their itineraries, or fly standby. The move is merely the most recent evidence that Spirit has become a trendsetter—arguably, the trendsetter—in the American airlines industry. But what trend is it exactly? Baldanza has repeatedly affirmed that Spirit is refining the art of offering affordable airfare, an effort which he qualifies as nothing less than an essentially democratic endeavor. He has a point, insofar that we live in a world where social mobility and simple mobility increasingly go hand-in-hand. Yet other low-cost carriers have long provided models of budget air travel without engendering nearly the angst of Spirit.

This seems like a familiar story. I mean that literally: didn't someone else run almost the same story a few months back?

Friday 17 April 2015 13:52:14 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | US | Business#

...and also preparing for a fundraiser at which I'm performing tomorrow:

And did I mention Apollo After Hours?

Thursday 16 April 2015 20:31:05 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Chicago | Geography | Photography | Software | Blogs | Weather | Windows Azure | Work#
Thursday 16 April 2015

I'm still trying to debug the performance of our principal application, which shouldn't be struggling the way it is.

I did, however, take two minutes out of my life to watch this:

Thursday 16 April 2015 16:42:53 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink | Software | Work#
Wednesday 15 April 2015

I was here until 7:30 last night and would probably stay that late tonight if I didn't have a prior commitment. At least last night I got to see this:

At least I've isolated the code causing the problem. Unfortunately it's one of the most-called methods in the application. Sigh.

Wednesday 15 April 2015 17:43:00 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Software | Work#
Tuesday 14 April 2015

Chip-and-PIN cards have ruled Europe for almost 10 years, because (a) they reduce fraud that (b) customers are liable for over there. In the U.S., where banks are liable, consumers haven't pushed as hard for the security measure, so it's rare. I've had a chipped card for two years now but even my bank hasn't gone the whole way to requiring PINs for purchases with it.

Chase, however, has had enough, and has decided to issue them to everyone:

Chip cards have significantly cut into fraud globally. For example, in the United Kingdom, card fraud in stores dropped by 75 percent from 2004 — when a large-scale rollout began — to 2012, said Zilvinas Bareisis, a senior analyst for Celent, a consulting firm to the financial services industry.

A December 2014 report by the Payments Security Task Force, whose members include Visa, Bank of America and Riverwoods-based Discover, estimates that 47 percent of U.S. terminals will accept chip cards by the end of 2015.

Chase, which holds almost 25 percent of deposits in the Chicago area, said its rollout here will be followed nationally.

Other banks are slowly introducing chip cards. BMO Harris Bank, which holds 12 percent of deposits in the Chicago area, said it recently began issuing chip debit cards. Any new or replacement debit cards include chips, spokesman Patrick O'Herlihy said.

It's sometimes amusing and sometimes sad that the U.S. lags the rest of the OECD in technology. This one is sad. I'm glad Chase is making this push. We could finally have chip-and-PIN cards in time for Europe to roll out whatever comes next.

Tuesday 14 April 2015 18:14:28 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US | World | Security#

I was going to write a couple of entries today on various topics, but then this happened in production:

That's a production database getting overloaded. I am now going to continue debugging it.

Tuesday 14 April 2015 17:16:08 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Software#
Monday 13 April 2015

The Trib expects noise complaints to take off:

The Federal Aviation Administration is expected within the next four months to release a preliminary report based on thousands of computer-generated flight simulations involving what will become O'Hare's fifth east-west runway and a subsequent runway that the city plans to open in 2020.

All this work, however, might not bring relief after a record year for O'Hare jet noise complaints. The simulations are aimed in part at finding the best way to squeeze in hundreds more daily flights at the airport.

Suburbs expected to hear more jet noise as the result of the 7,500-foot runway opening this fall include Bensenville, Franklin Park, Wood Dale, Bloomingdale and Addison, FAA and city aviation officials say.

So, people in Bensenville—which lies along the southern edge of O'Hare and is notable for its immense rail classification yard—are unhappy with their noisy neighbor. Keep in mind, the runway plans have been around for over 10 years. And jet noise today is far lower than before.

Monday 13 April 2015 15:17:28 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Aviation | Chicago | Geography | US#
Sunday 12 April 2015

I mean, yes:

Saturday 11 April 2015 21:27:20 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | Kitchen Sink#
Saturday 11 April 2015

The New York Times has the story:

Mrs. Clinton is expected to begin her campaign with a video message on social media, followed by a visit to important early-primary states next week, said two people briefed on her plans.

But for all the attention paid to how Mrs. Clinton would reveal her 2016 candidacy, little has been said about her reasons for mounting another presidential bid. Her campaign rollout is expected to provide voters, particularly users of Twitter, Facebook and other social media, a succinct rationale that she is best positioned to address an American electorate that has seen virtually stagnant wages for middle-income earners over the last 15 years.

Meanwhile, the remnants of New Republic caution that she has become a single point of failure for the party:

In Hillary Clinton’s case, though, there’s still a good argument that the Democratic Party could use a contested primary this cycle: not to toughen Clinton’s calluses, but to build some redundancy into the presidential campaign. It may even be the case that some of these Democrats with rattled nerves are less anxious about Clinton’s prowess against Republicans than about the fact that all of the party’s hopes now rest on her shoulders. Her campaign has become a single point of failure for Democratic politics. If she wins in 2016, she won’t ride into office with big congressional supermajorities poised to pass progressive legislation. But if she loses, it will be absolutely devastating for liberalism.

If you’re faithful to the odds, then most of this anxiety is misplaced. Clinton may have slipped in the polls by virtue of an email scandal and her return to the partisan trenches more generally. But she's still more popular and better known than all of the Republicans she might face in the general, her name evokes economic prosperity, rather than global financial calamity, the economy is growing right now, and Democrats enjoy structural advantages in presidential elections, generally.

If nobody serious challenges Hillary Clinton, nobody can be her understudy. In the near term that isn’t a problem, but if doubts about her inevitability develop late in the year or early next, the placid silence in the Democratic field will grow eerie.

We're still a long way from the 2016 election. Clinton may be the best we have, or she may just be the best one running. But looking at the other guys, I can't help but think we're still going to win.

Saturday 11 April 2015 10:08:21 CDT (UTC-05:00)  |  | US#
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David Braverman and Parker
David Braverman is the Chief Technology Officer of Holden International in Chicago, and the creator of Weather Now. Parker is the most adorable dog on the planet, 80% of the time.
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