How To Write Unmaintainable Code

Roedy Green has a funny (and very long) guide called How To Write Unmaintainable Code [Ensure a job for life ;-)]

Misleading names

Make sure that every method does a little bit more (or less) than its name suggests. As a simple example, a method named isValid(x) should as a side effect convert x to binary and store the result in a database.

a naming convention from the world of C++ is the use of “m_” in front of members. This is supposed to help you tell them apart from methods, so long as you forget that “method” also starts with the letter “m”.

o_apple obj_apple
Use an “o” or “obj” prefix for each instance of the class to show that you’re thinking of the

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Efficient Strategy Games


I like efficiency, and part of efficiency is eliminating redundancies and all that is inessential.
There was a game first coded in 2001 by Taro Ito called Dice Wars that embodies this idea well.

It is a game like the classic board game, RISK! or the newer Conqueror! – a territory-expansion game based on invasions and dice rolls.
But instead of having territories equal values and instead of having the number of dice rolled based on the number of territories in control, Dice Wars uses the dice themselves as the “armies”.
It is an elegant interpretation.

In 2006, KDice a multi-player version was released by a different developer, Ryan Dewsbury.

And more recently, a version with an American presidential campaign theme was released – Battleground StatesRead the rest

Candy Vote


I hadn’t heard of this, but apparently our very own Decatur, Georgia had a moment in the media Sun a few weeks ago when a local kid named Moey dressed up as a voting booth and essentially polled the neighborhood, taking candy in lieu of ballots.

Sometimes it’s weird when a parent gets so involved in a child’s costume (I’m guessing this wasn’t Moey’s idea) but the kid seems to be having fun.

A door-to-door poll should be a pretty good indicator of how the public will vote, although Oct 31 is late in the game for a poll to have much impact on anything. Moey’s poll is remarkably accurate.

CandyVote.comRead the rest

Popup Books

Pop-up books have changed a lot since I was a kid.
Maybe it’s because the ones I saw were from the library and were already all torn to pieces, but I had no idea that pop-up books had gotten as elaborate as they are now.

There is one ‘paper artist’ named Matthew Reinhart who has created a retelling of the traditional Cinderella tale.


And Reinhart collaborated with Robert Sabuda to create a summary of sorts of some of Tomie dePaola’s classic books in, Brava, Strega Nona


I enjoyed those books a lot when I was young.

And one that blew me away was ABC3D by Marion Bataille. You really have to hold it your hands to fully appreciate it.

The problem is, little kids would simply … Read the rest

Ed’d Edited the Pelophone

About 8 years ago, a colleague of mine, Alex Goldman, mentioned a phrase. I don’t recall whether he came up with it himself or exactly how he described it, but the explanation had something to do with the potential ambiguity of spoken phrases.

The phrase is, “Ed had edited it”, which, if spoken quickly but not unnaturally fast, sounds more like a sound effect than a phrase.

I don’t think there is a name for such a phrase; one that is so potentially unclear when spoken – one that must be spoken slowly and deliberately to be understood.

So, let me coin one, ‘pelophone’ from the Greek ‘pelos’ for ‘muddy’ and ‘phone’ for ‘sound’.… Read the rest


I don’t own an iPhone. It seems pretty cool, but I don’t think I would actually use it very often. Of course, that’s what I said about email in 1991 or so.

MP3 players are now so cheap and ubiquitous that they are given away for free by banks with promotional audio files in them. It’s not hard to delete the bank’s files and upload my own, and I prefer using a cheap-as-free device, especially when there is a significant risk of losing it.

I appreciate miniaturization, but the iPods I’ve seen are just too small. If I had one, I know that I would drop it in the recycling and lose it forever.

But iPod gripes aside, the iPhone seems like something I might actually … Read the rest

Bud American Ale and Michelob Pale Ale

As of today (November 18 2008), Belgian InBev has completed its takeover of Anheuser-Busch (A-B), one of the oldest and most iconic American brands, becoming the largest brewer and fifth-largest “consumer-products” company on the world.

This has resulted in a windfall for Senator John McCain’s wife, Cindy.

The Anheuser-Busch name will not disappear; the new company name will in fact be Anheuser-Busch InBev.

The traditional A-B brands, including Budweiser and Michelob will join solid import brands including Stella Artois and Hoegaarden, along with more obscure brands such as the Argentine Quilmes and the Belgian Jupiler.

Although the constitutional prohibition against the sale of alcohol was repealed in 1933, it was nearly four decades before high-quality beer existed for most Americans, and another before it … Read the rest

Ricky Gervais Meets Comedy Writers

After greatly enjoying (years after the fact) the original (BBC) “The Office” I looked around for other projects by the same people and found that the writer and star, Ricky Gervais, had done another show called, “Extras”.
It was a more polished show, although more bitter in tone. Both shows seemed to aspire toward making the audience cringe, which seemed like a new kind of storytelling, at least to me.

I looked around for more Ricky Gervais stuff and found three interviews (from 2006) of his “heroes” – the men who inspired him to go into comedy: Larry David (Seinfeld, Curb Your Enthusiasm), Christopher Guest (This is Spinal Tap, Best in Show), and Garry Shandling (It’s Garry Shandling’s Show, The Larry Sanders Show). All three are … Read the rest

Music Machine

Mike Chiaramonte and I have been talking about creating a console game together, something that combines Rube Goldberg devices and algorithmic music, where the device is a physical (or at least visual) representation of the algorithm. Imagine the boardgame Mousetrap, but with each of the components having an aural aspect, and some parts repeating to create rhythm.

Below is a sketch. We (he) will code it for the XBox, at least initially…

sketch-2.pngRead the rest

Earth Impact Effects Program

The Lunar and Planetary Laboratory at the University of Arizona in Tucson has an impact effect calculator that gives estimates of what would happen if a extraterrestrial body were to strike the earth. You need to know lots of information in order to use the calculator, such as the size, velocity, and density of the object, but the results are quite specific, such as how likely it would be that trees within 1,000 miles of the impact would ignite.… Read the rest


Xombie is a post-apocalypse Flash animation series with surprisingly good animation and narrative quality – good enough for TV, which isn’t saying much, but TV in general has a higher bar than the Web, which has none.… Read the rest

Bitey Castle


Bitey Castle is the portfolio of an Aussie named Adam Phillips, and contains some of the highest-quality flash animations I’ve seen (particularly the backgrounds), the most recent of which serve to expand the world of the forest planet of Brackenwood and it’s fantastic inhabitants.

Check out:
Animation for the Brackenwood series
Stories for a number of amusing ‘practice’ animations.

Shown here is Bitey himself, a bad fawn of sorts who is the anti-hero of sorts of the latest series.

Also of note is the storytelling itself, which does not rely on language, in general, and has wonderful, compelling pacing – led by some great musical scores.… Read the rest

On the Road

Toll booth agents are normally pleasant enough, with a tired “Hi” or an indifferent glance away from the TV screen long enough to take my money.

But the other day the fellow manning the gate had a surly expression and as I held out some coins I mentioned the weather as a way of trying to extract some human interaction from him.

But he ignored what I had said. “Keep it moving, you’re holding up the line.”

I looked in the rear-view mirror and out the side window and saw that mine was the only car there. “Just trying to be friendly,” I smiled. “You look like you’ve had a hard day.”

His face finally brightened a bit. “Yeah, some of the people who come through … Read the rest