thoughts about software and sensible security.


Taking stock of 18 years in IT. What does it take to make great software?


This year my IT career is coming of age. In the year 2000, when URLs were still awkwardly pronounced double-you-double-you-double-you-dot, I quit an uneventful tech support job in Edinburgh to code in Perl and DHTML, cursing the incompatibilities between IE and Netscape. But I never regretted the career change. Eighteen years have passed and I’m happier and fitter then I was at age thirty, believe it or not. I thought it would be a fun experiment to rank all major projects and companies I worked with over the years in terms of overall satisfaction (without too much regard to pay or perks). You can make such a list intuitively, but I wanted to formulate the criteria which in my experience make a software project enjoyable and then give marks for each. (more…)

Coding like Gaston Lagaffe


My favourite comic hero is Gaston Lagaffe by André Franquin. The series ran from 1957 till the early eighties and has been re-issued to the present day.

At the fictional offices of the Dupuis publishing house Gaston’s job was responsible to sort the incoming mail, but instead he wreaked havoc with his irresponsible fascination for the applied sciences. Everything Gaston touched resulted in a hefty bill from the real professionals and often a quick trip to the emergency room for him and his colleagues. Gaston was impulsive, reckless, without care or a shred of actual know-how, and occasionally brilliant. Granted, he was also an animal lover and never meant any harm. He was drawn most to mechanics and electronics, but also concocted a soap that ate through six floors like the blood of the Alien.

Kotlin’s invoke: it looks like a duck, quacks like a duck, but isn’t a duck


SUMMARY: Kotlin has given us a fresh perspective on some very ingrained OO-habits, particularly the pervasive use of nouns for objects that have only one public method.

Speaking like a native

Pronouncing a foreign language so convincingly that you can pass for a native speaker is one of the hardest tricks to pull off. While it comes natural to young children it is something that very few adults ever master. That is because our ears have become attuned to the speech habits of our native language and we interpret every foreign language according to these patterns. (more…)

Acting the part


It’s not a open to debate that English is the lingua franca of programming and that it’s good practice to use English in your code. It’s equally true that a sizeable majority of developers are non-native speakers of English, many of whom work on products intended for an exclusively local domain. By this I mean software that is used within a single country, like bespoke software for the Dutch tax office. Since English is not an official language in our country, are we allowed to use these Dutch domain concepts in our code or should we translate them? (more…)

There’s no such thing as generic software. My two cents on the Dutch Inland Revenue


In a recent series of four articles Dutch national newspaper de Volkskrant gave a fascinating and unsettling account of the Dutch Inland Revenue (belastingdienst). This has apparently plumbed such depths of disorganisation that the tax collection process itself is in jeopardy. No tax revenues means no oxygen to keep the public sector rolling. Only the most rabid or naive of libertarians would not be horrified by such a prospect. Of course I was most interested in the faltering IT landscape with its six hundred different applications, the actively endorsed exodus of mature IT staff with their in-depth domain knowledge, the glaring cultural divide between generations of developers and the equally large unwillingness to bridge the chasm. (more…)

thoughts about software and sensible security.

Recent Posts

Jasper on twitter

Convention over configuration and add security later. The trouble with CRUD is that it’s pretty crude. New blog
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No Photoshop trickery: this really is Patsy’s way to show who’s boss.
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Who are you calling null, #kobo?
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All software start to resemble the inside of Salisbury Cathedral: a clever patchwork that can barely support its we…
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