Steve Kemp's Blog Writings relating to Debian & Free Software

The selfish programmer

Fri, 25 Jul 2014 12:32:38 GMT

Once upon a time I wrote a piece of software for scheduling the classes available to a college.

There was a bug in the scheduler: Students who happened to be named 'Steve Kemp' had a significantly higher chance (>=80% IIRC) of being placed in lessons where the class makeup was more than 50% female.

This bug was never fixed. Which was nice, because I spent several hours both implementing and disguising this feature.

I'm was a bad coder when I was a teenager.

These days I'm still a bad coder, but in different ways.

| 5 comments.

 

Comments On This Entry

[gravitar] Franco

Submitted at 14:24:29 on 25 July 2014

As long as it wasn't Perl, fine by me.

[gravitar] Anonymous

Submitted at 18:55:02 on 25 July 2014

That's really terrible. At least you're willing to admit to it now, though.

[gravitar] Patrick

Submitted at 19:57:47 on 25 July 2014

I can't see a problem with that. After all it's not your fault, that your parents named you 'Steve', is it? ;-)

[gravitar] LN

Submitted at 21:09:53 on 25 July 2014

So at long last, you DO admit to have something in common with Bill Gates:

- Gates wrote the school's computer program to schedule students in classes. He modified the code so that he was placed in classes with "a disproportionate number of interesting girls."

From wikipedia:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bill_Gates

[gravitar] Steve Kemp

Submitted at 21:29:06 on 25 July 2014

To be honest this a task I was given in 1992-1993, and I did it for the fixed fee of £50.

The only thing that I remember was that it used some system that had "forms" and a "query-language". The language/environment was called "S" and I had to show that it gave different results each run, as proof of functionality - which is why the percentages were involved.

I looped over candidate-names and built hash on the ASCII-values involved, I knew there were potential collisions involved, but over the names in my year there were only a couple, so I figured that was good enough.

 

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