High Profile WTF Guests

The Daily WTF had some interesting guest bloggers a few weeks ago: famous (by software developer standards) coders Raymond Chen, Tom Kyte, Eric Sink, and Blake Ross all weighed in. Blake Ross, cofounder of Firefox, had the best one, IMHO, since it shows an inside look at Netscape, post-AOHell…

Some funny Ross lines:

It’s hard for me to write a WTF, not because I can’t remember one, but because I remember too many. Netscape was one giant WTF, or as they called it back then, AOL. The company had grown so inept that “WTF” became just another thing we said each day, like “Hey” or “What time is it?” or “We just lost another 5%” or “Marketing wants to replace the Back button with an ad for Bowflex”.

I hate to be down on anyone on the WTF guest writer list, but one guest WTF was just lame. First of all, it was a self-WTF (the author’s own code), which is already suspect, given the lack of objectivity. Second of all, it was for an algorithm for a fairly complex geometrical calculation (whether a line segment is completely contained by a polygon). The calculation already involves a tradeoff between accuracy and speed, and the WTF, such as it is, simply leans too far, in the author’s opinion, towards speed: “Eventually I would end up with an implementation of SegmentInside which is robust for any practical situation even though it would require essentially infinite time for any case which returns true.” So the improvement would be a much bigger WTF! He should have posted that!

Anyway, I don’t know why I’m being so hard on the author – he took time out of his day to contribute (I assume for free) to one of my favorite websites. And he did post about a topic that is of interest to me. It just rubbed me the wrong way. I guess it struck me as being more about self-promotion (“hey – this is my worst code, and it’s not even that bad!”) than WTF. Just a hunch.

–YY

p.s. In case you haven’t noticed, I dropped the author’s name from my blog – I’m not about to be badmouthing coders by name on my blog.

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