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The time one of my colleagues debugged a line-of-business application (msdn.com)
162 points by joshyeager on July 18, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 14 comments

The bogus delivery story at the end made the whole thing worth it. This day and age it might even merit a visit from Homeland Security!

See also: free bonus chapters at http://www.informit.com/store/old-new-thing-practical-develo... , under Sample Chapters.

I really enjoy reading well written software development stories from 90s, like this one. It just has a different vibe, emotion compared to the 'modern' stories. Makes me wish I was born a decade earlier, in a western country :)

That's the problem of an OS without proper process isolation and without privilege protection. The bad old days.

Arguably it would be much better to enforce process isolation and priviledge protection statically in the programming language. Currently system calls have a massive performance overhead, which could be eliminated if the compiler could reason about memory access violations and so on. Legacy code and other applications could run in sandboxed virtual machines. Microsoft has done some research in this direction with their Singularity OS and a programming language called M.

"The Birth & Death of JavaScript"[0] talked about this. From my memory, in "the future" described in the talk, everything is ported to JS so that the VM does the isolation automatically and all the overhead can be thrown away.

[0] https://www.destroyallsoftware.com/talks/the-birth-and-death...

There's also Google NaticeClient (NaCl) which tries a similar static approach, but on the assembly level.

Ah, the MS OS/2 2.0 fiasco, which was one of my favorite topics. I have a bad opinion against MS for it, and another favorite thing to mention about Win9x back when I was discussing this fiasco was how the dependence on DOS allowed Caldera to continue to sue MS. I once dug out PX00307 and mentioned it here: http://www.vintage-computer.com/vcforum/showthread.php?33838...

So, the OS is to blame here? Not the application programmers?

It's the programmers' fault that their application crashed. It's the OS's fault that the OS itself crashed due to the application's crash.

Resisting the urge to put "operating system" in quotes :-)

This kind of nonsense would not have been possible on *nix, OS/2 or VMS back in the early 90s. (written as somebody who had to write a fair amount of C code back then for such things in addition to the scourge of Win16)

Still, hats off for debugging such a goofy work-around with a poorly chosen place for setjmp() to receive a longjmp().

Aaaaand this is where folks that have an MBA joke about engineers ineptitude.

How many MBA's does it take to change a light-bulb? It depends, how many engineers are on their payroll ..

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