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SANS - Survey on application security programs

Tuesday
Medals 4 Rep 135

One of the problems of being a Delphi specialist is that Delf programmers are, as a group, wizened and canny. They tend not to ask easy 'how do I make a non-modal popup?' type questions. 'Delphi is a solved equation,' opines a fellow Delf-head gloomily. 'Except for those bits waiting to be discovered by Andreas Hausladen, obviously.'

So I am starting to look further afield, and give users of other technologies the benefit of my pearls. But this can be problematical.

Theoretically I am a C++ programmer too, but have you seen C++ recently? Angle brackets and fancy iterators all over the shop, and smart pointers coming in and displacing dear old memory leaks, and excitement about C++0x. I don't feel I have much to offer. My almost-working string class - you remember, the one that overloaded the + operator in a non-intuitive way - I feel I had better leave at home inside its box, marked '1994'.

PHP looks more hopeful. Have you tried it? A fun little scripting language: a kind of like Perl, but designed to be read back afterwards. It may be picked up in about 10 minutes, simply by recalling the names of the C library functions.

I think I will do well with PHP people. These often seem to be young, moist-behind-the-aural-sense-organs autodidactics, who regard artefacts such as reference parameters and exceptions as aesthetic niceties. To them, the features of PHP 5.3 are an advanced, untried technology; somehow vouchsafed to them from a distant Trekkie future, where money has become redundant and death optional.

True, they may be sceptical that such high-falutin concepts deserve a place in their code, where (I surmise) fragments of logic and HTML layout intermix and frolic happily together like white and black Alabamian citizens in the aforementioned utopia.

However,  I feel sure the PHP crowd will be amenable to a little gentle guidance.

Thursday
Medals 4 Rep 131

PHP programmers are ill-mannered, ignorant, puffed-up little swine.

It was a simple enough question. Something about MySQL access, as most PHP questions seem to be. The OP ('Original Poster', do keep up) explained why he didn't like using functions (as opposed to writing all code in line) because using functions made it more difficult to access global variables.

In the spirit of helpfulness and generosity, for which I am - I say in all modesty - well known, I suggested that this was perhaps a slightly short-sighted view. In retrospect, I may have been a tad glib and demonstrative in the way I phrased this.

Huge hilarity at my expense. Turns out the whole thing was a trap, set up by an informal cabal called 'PHP Hates Patronization', which is working 'to disabuse elder techies of the notion that the next generation is hanging on their every word'.

Ridiculed, downvoted, humiliated.

This is their gratitude for my taking a grip on their Pathetic, Hopeless, Poxy language, and showing them how they might make something of it. To think I built the internet for these people.

In other news, which I suspect is related (well, Wiki runs on PHP, doesn't it?), I discover my Wikipedia article has been scheduled for deletion.

Cannot write any more tonight.

Thursday (Six weeks later)
Medals 6 Rep 870

It just so happens that I was brought up in the old manner, with Papa insisting that we only talk Latin at breakfast, and whiling away car journeys on the motorway by encouraging us to shout out regular expressions to parse the sign writing on passing trucks.

Oh, all, right. That isn't strictly true. So I happen to own a copy of the Blimey O'Reilly regex book. Is that a crime?

Anyway, it proved dead handy in this case; I suggested a non-greedy match that not only solved the problem, reducing 27 lines of code down to four, but also - when the principle was applied elsewhere in his app - perceptibly speeded up the questioner's application everywhere.

He said for 100 rep bounty, my solution was cheap at the price. PHP people are often like that - just that little bit friendlier.

Of course, he is right about the price. My boss came over and asked how the web pharmacy project is coming along. Truth is, there isn't much call for designing databases to handle bulk aspirin distribution on the 'Flow, so I have rather put that to one side while I research a little WDK issue that carries 250 bounty. Well, how hard can it be to write a device driver? But I chose not to admit this.

Because rep is worth it, as you can see. Already I am allowed to 'retag questions', whatever that means.

And at 2000 rep, something really worth aiming for: I get to edit other people's posts, to correct their spelling, grammar and punctuation.

I plan to become the Lynne Truss of typed programming languages.

It would be marvellous. I could sort out all the it's/its confusion; I could prevent people 'loosing' things when they had merely lost them and inferring things they had, in fact, implied; I might even start healing split infinitives.

In short, I could annoy the hell out of a lot of people, who have never harmed me, and without them being able to do much about it.

Now, that really is something to aim for. Oops; something for which to aim.

Monday
Medals 7 Rep 1430

A shadow has passed over my endeavours, a shadow that occludes even the small pleasure I get from rep points I pick up by nailing the bounty on an unanswerable Java question, simply by showing sympathy to the poster.

I know that C# is where the real riches of SO lie, but I hadn't appreciated quite what could be done with them.

Since you started reading this sentence, one John Skeet  has answered three more questions, and his reputation has grown by 41.7. His current rep is in the area of 220k. God knows how he achieves this. I reckon he must have purchased the entire output of the computing department  of a medium-sized Chinese university, and has them working in relays, 25/8.

As somebody once said, under similar provocation: 'he doth bestride the narrow world / Like a Colossus, and we petty men / Walk under his huge legs and peep about / To find ourselves dishonourable graves'.

To paraphrase and to summarise the rest of Cassius' s argument: ballcocks to that.

Since I am not really up for an Ides of March type scenario - among other objections, it would involve travelling to Reading, where I believe Skeet is based - that pretty much puts the kibosh on my Stack Overflow fun.

A shame, because there I was, doing well by doing good.

Wait a moment. Wait a moment, though. A friend just e'd me: the Stack Overflow people have set up a raft of new websites. And one of them is - get this - devoted to English usage.

Hmm.... ®

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