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  • Good grammar for date data type for recursive descent parser LL(1)

    - by Totophil
    I'm building a custom expression parser and evaluator for production enviroment to provide a limited DSL to the users. The parser itself as the DSL, need to be simple. The parser is going to be built in an exotic language that doesn't support dynamic expression parsing nor has any parser generator tools available. My decision is to go for recursive descent approach with LL(1) grammar, so that even programmers with no previous experience in evaluating expression could quickly learn how the code works. It has to handle mixed expressions made up of several data types: decimals, percentages, strings and dates. And dates in the format of dd/mm/yyyy are easy to confuse with a string of devision ops. Is where a good solution to this problem? My own solution that is aimed at keeping the parser simple involves prefixing dates with a special symbol, let's say apostrophe: <date> ::= <apostr><digit><digit>/<digit><digit>/<digit><digit><digit><digit> <apostr> ::= ' <digit> ::= '0'..'9'

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  • Hiring a programmer: looking for the "right attitude"

    - by Totophil
    It's actually two questions in one: What is the right attitude for a programmer? How do you (or would you) look for one when interviewing or during hiring process? Please note this question is not about personality or traits of a candidate, it is about their attitude towards what they do for living. This is also not about reverse of programmers pet peeves. The question has been made community wiki, since I am interested in a good answer rather than reputation. I disagree that the question is purely subjective and just a matter of opinion: clearly some attitudes make a better programmer than others. Consecutively, there might quite possibly exist an attitude that is common to the most of the better programmers. Update: After some deliberation I came up with the following attitude measurement scales: identifies themselves with the job ? fully detached perceives code as a collection of concepts ? sees code as a sequence of steps thinks of creating software as an art ? takes 100% rational approach to design and development Answers that include some sort of a comment on the appropriateness of these scales are greatly appreciated. Definition of "attitude": a complex mental state involving beliefs and feelings and values and dispositions to act in certain ways; "he had the attitude that work was fun" The question came as a result of some reflection on the top voted answer to "How do you ensure code quality?" here on Stack Overflow.

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  • Evaluating software estimates: sure signs of unrealistic figures?

    - by Totophil
    Whilst answering “Dealing with awful estimates” posted by Ash I shared a few tips that I learned and personally use to spot weak estimates. But I am certain there must be many more! What heuristics to use in the scenario when one needs to make a quick evaluation of software project estimate that has been compiled by a third-party (a colleague, a business partner or an external company)? What are the obvious and not so obvious signs of weak software estimates that can be spotted without much detailed knowledge of task at hand?

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  • What is the exact problem with multiple inheritance?

    - by Totophil
    I can see people asking all the time whether multiple inheritance should be included into the next version of C# or Java and C++ folks, who are fortunate enough to have this ability, say that this is like giving someone a rope to eventually hang themselves. What’s the matter with the multiple inheritance? Are there any concrete samples?

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  • What is a good software development plan?

    - by Totophil
    Whilst browsing through answers on SO I came across something that is, in my view, one of the more frequent software development management misconceptions: "[software development] plan is a reasonably detailed description of all the activities you need to undertake". Hence the question: what is good software development plan? Can it be boiled down just to a work breakdown structure; is WBS the single most important thing for a software development plan anyway?

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  • All possible values of int from the smallest to the largest, using Java.

    - by Totophil
    Write a program to print out all possible values of int data type from the smallest to the largest, using Java. Some notable solutions as of 8th of May 2009, 10:44 GMT: 1) Daniel Lew was the first to post correctly working code. 2) Kris has provided the simplest solution for the given problem. 3) Tom Hawtin - tackline, came up arguably with the most elegant solution. 4) mmyers pointed out that printing is likely to become a bottleneck and can be improved through buffering. 5) Jay's brute force approach is notable since, besides defying the core point of programming, the resulting source code takes about 128 GB and will blow compiler limits. As a side note I believe that the answers do demonstrate that it could be a good interview question, as long as the emphasis is not on the ability to remember trivia about the data type overflow and its implications (that can be easily spotted during unit testing), or the way of obtaining MAX and MIN limits (can easily be looked up in the documentation) but rather on the analysis of various ways of dealing with the problem.

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  • Hiring a project or development manager: what are good interview questions?

    - by Totophil
    What questions would you ask a candidate applying for a software project or development manager position? Please could you submit one question per answer (with multiple answer if necessary) or a sequence of related questions. This way eventually all questions will get ordered by how good we all think they are. Please also provide a short guidance for evaluating possible answers. UPDATE: It seems that a large proportion of the answers so far are aimed at generic management skills. What would you ask someone who is going to manage software development, let's say in your organisation? What knowledge, skills and attitude will you be looking for in the candidate replies?

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  • WordPerfect programmers refusing to use anything but assembler

    - by Totophil
    There is a version (popularised by Joel Spolsky) attributing the demise of WordPerfect to a refusal of its programmers to use anything but assembler that led to delay of the first WPwin release and as result eventually to losing the all important battle with Microsoft. There are a few references to programming work being done using assembler in the autobiographical book "Almost Perfect" by W. E. Pete Peterson who used to have a major influence at running the corporation. But these references go back to early 80's when WordPerfect was trying to gain a significant market share by defeating WordStar and not early nineties when the battle with MS took place. I am looking for a second independent source to confirm the assumption. Maybe someone who worked for WordPerfect Corporation at a time, who was close to the company, or had a chance to see the source could clarify the issue. Your help is much appreciated, thanks! Please note that this question is not about any other theories or reasons behind WordPerfect demise. I really just need to clarify whether they used assembler as a primary language for WPwin and (as a bonus really) whether there were discussions held within the corporation about assembler being the right choice. Concisely: Did WPCorp use assembler as a primary language for WPwin? Were discussions held at a time amongst WP Corp staff about assembler being the right choice (was it management or programmers decision)?

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