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Ask Slashdot: Where's the Most Unusual Place You've Written a Program From?

Soulskill posted about 2 months ago | from the you-get-zero-points-if-you-answer-starbucks dept.

Programming 310

theodp writes: "Michael Raithel was polling the SAS crowd, but it'd be interesting to hear the answers to the programming questions he posed from a broader audience: 1. What is the most unusual location you have written a program from? 2. What is the most unusual circumstance under which you have written a program? 3. What is the most unusual computing platform that you wrote a program from? 4. What is the most unusual application program that you wrote?"

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Toilet bowl (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47162711)

I wrote Slashdot Beta if a fetid public toilet using only my puckered anus.

Your mom (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47162731)

1. What is the most unusual location you have written a program from?

Your mom's bed.

2. What is the most unusual circumstance under which you have written a program?

While your mom was giving me a BJ.

3. What is the most unusual computing platform that you wrote a program from?


4. What is the most unusual application program that you wrote?

One that tracks how many times I screwed your mom.

Caravan (4, Interesting)

millwall (622730) | about 2 months ago | (#47162737)

As a consultant in the UK I once worked for a council, programming out of a small caravan. It was cold, wet, and to add to the eeriness one of the guys there kept a collection of jars of pickled eggs on his table.

Re:Caravan (1)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about 2 months ago | (#47162823)

My dad and I did a lot of the design work on a BASIC interpreter for the PC while on a caravan holiday in France when I was a teenager back in the '80s.

Re:Caravan (4, Interesting)

SimonInOz (579741) | about 2 months ago | (#47163037)

The inside of a small yacht, crossing the Atlantic.
I was sailing (an Iroquois 30' cat, in case anyone's interested), and found sight reduction (yes, a sextant was involved) rather tedious. So I wrote a program for my HP calculator to do the calculations.

Those HP41C calculators were really neat.

Re:Caravan (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about 2 months ago | (#47163101)

I remember those. My dad used to have (I'm pretty sure he probably still has it) a 41CV. I thought thew card reader was integrated, but according to Wikipedia it seems it used one of the expansion slots.

Re:Caravan (1)

SimonInOz (579741) | about 2 months ago | (#47163115)

Yup. It was separate. I didn't have one - too expensive.

Re:Caravan (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47163179)

I call bullshit on that.

... FROM? (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47162741)

There is no reason to put from at the end. Is stupid just something caught the internet from?

Re:... FROM? (3, Funny)

Smallpond (221300) | about 2 months ago | (#47163009)

There is no reason to put from at the end. Is stupid just something caught the internet from?

Prepositions on the end of sentences is something up with which I will not put.

Re:... FROM? (1, Funny)

Urquhardt (3529035) | about 2 months ago | (#47163021)

Or to paraphrase, "That is something up with which you will not put".

... FROM? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47163149)

If it must include "from", a nicer way is: "Where's the Most Unusual Place From Which You've Written a Program?"

My Job (4, Interesting)

cyclomedia (882859) | about 2 months ago | (#47162743)

Just my job, generally. They've no idea how to run a software business, think agile means throwing a constant stream of changing requirements and bugs at you until the minute before "go live" ... then they get annoyed at YOU for not being able to put out an emergency patch release within 24 horus (took me two weeks to track down and destroy a nasty bug, but that was my bad, apparently, not management for letting a piece of shit out the door). then there's finding out that our Prototype area of the system is being released to the public in a fortnight. Via a press release that one of our team happened to notice. And then there's the fact that despite my recommendations the manager decided the best platform was Silverlight with a VB backend. Oh and instead of using the .Net EntityFramework or in fact ANY standard components we'd write our own from scratch. Then be stuck with it for 3 years.

Re:My Job (5, Funny)

immaterial (1520413) | about 2 months ago | (#47162803)

A 24 Horus deadline? Just six of those falcon-headed bastards strutting around all godlike and hassling me about missed TPS reports is bad enough, but 24... To be honest, at that point I might just throw myself into the Nile and let my ka move on to the realm of Osiris.

Re:My Job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47162933)

Well played, sir.

Re:My Job (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47162931)

Sounds a lot like my Job, expect think of Web 2.0 (PHP/JQuery on Internet explorer 8) applications with a COBOL backend that spouts JSON trough a custon C router (yep, that's actually "DISPLAY '{name : ' WS-NAME' ' }'" . And management that introduces daily 30 minute meetings for new projects and now thinks we're doing SCRUM because we've never done any analysis/documentation and have always been rushing any and all stupid user requests in as little time as possible.

Re:My Job (3, Informative)

hughbar (579555) | about 2 months ago | (#47163013)

Yes. That's exactly what's wrong with most of agile, lots of project momentum and minimal thought about 'what is this for', 'who wants this', 'will this damage the architecture' etc. Result object-oriented spaghetti and lots of unreadable post-its on a board somewhere in the first circle of development hell.

Re:My Job (2)

soccerisgod (585710) | about 2 months ago | (#47163257)

No, that's what's wrong with people claiming to use agile methods and in reality just acting without plan and reason :)

Re:My Job (1)

N1AK (864906) | about 2 months ago | (#47163305)

It's not what's wrong with agile, it's what's wrong with many implementations. Lots of none agile IT teams spend forever in a never ending development loop, vastly miss deadlines and produce unusable crap; that doesn't mean that traditional methodologies are inherently flawed.

Scrum actually forced us to improve documentation (from woeful to meh admittedly) because we've stuck to the principle that any member of a team should be able to pick up a PBI and do it. I don't want to suggest scrum is the perfect model, I'm borderline on whether scrum is the right model for a development team in our organisation, but the actual scrum principles aren't the cause of most failed implementations.

modified (4, Interesting)

jbeaupre (752124) | about 2 months ago | (#47162753)

I didn't write the program, actually a script, but I did modify it to run on a Kindle. The epaper version with a keyboard. Needed some sort of calculations done while traveling without a laptop. Some sort of one line script, but the simplest solution was to take an existing sample script and modify hard coded numbers.

Yes, modifying a script with a web based editor on an epaper device is a bit awkward. But it got the job done.

SAS?! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47162757)

Don't SAS me, boy!

*Weirdest* place? (5, Funny)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 months ago | (#47162763)

That would be in the butt, Bob. []

Re:*Weirdest* place? (0)

PhilHibbs (4537) | about 2 months ago | (#47162869)

Were you programming a Java Ringpiece?

Car repair shop for me (4, Interesting)

Torp (199297) | about 2 months ago | (#47162767)

When I do yearly oil changes and stuff like that it ain't worth going back home in a cab, or getting someone to drive me away, so I just take my laptop, find a quiet-ish corner and make a customer happy.

Re:Car repair shop for me (4, Interesting)

Torp (199297) | about 2 months ago | (#47162785)

As for most unusual circumstances, about 15 years ago me and the owner (and also programmer) of the company i was working for at the time fixed in 15 minutes a bug that neither of us had been able to fix in the last 2 weeks sober. It was 3 am and we were both dead drunk as we were celebrating someone's birthday at the office :)

On the Toilet (3, Interesting)

necronom426 (755113) | about 2 months ago | (#47162771)

I once wrote the formula for a gravity routine while on the toilet, for a tank game written in Amiga Basic. It was in my head, so I had to quickly get back the the keyboard to type it in before I forgot it :-)

Re:On the Toilet (5, Funny)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 months ago | (#47162821)

Weren't you afraid of a core dump? Or, worse, a buffer overflow?

Re: On the Toilet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47162921)

Peek in the buffer before flushing to make sure it's not too full.

Re:On the Toilet (4, Funny)

coofercat (719737) | about 2 months ago | (#47163233)

Just make sure you have the right back end capacity. It's usually just a matter of checking your logs.

Re:On the Toilet (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47163275)

Stefan? Is that you?

The obvious answer (2, Funny)

comrade1 (748430) | about 2 months ago | (#47162781)

That would be in the butt, Bob.

Re:The obvious answer (1)

comrade1 (748430) | about 2 months ago | (#47162783)

damn it! Someone beat me to it...

At a cocktail robotics festival (1)

Rah'Dick (976472) | about 2 months ago | (#47162797)

I teach 3D graphics, programming and compositing & postproduction at a university of applied sciences. Every year, our students build machines for the annual Roboexotica [] cocktail robotics festival. I usually accompany the students at the event and fix their machines on the exhibition floor - with soldering irons, lots of tape and a notebook. Since most of the student machines are created in a hurry, their Processing [] and Arduino code usually has errors. Sometimes I find myself sitting on the floor between alcohol canisters, pumps and wires, debugging stuff while drunk people stumble around. :-)

Re:At a cocktail robotics festival (1)

Opportunist (166417) | about 2 months ago | (#47162833)

Sounds like our Christmas parties at work...

Purity test? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47162813)

Sounds like a Programming Purity Test?

Integration testing of PPG software in a prison. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47162837)

I think this one is going to be hard to beat. I performed the hardware integration testing with the PPG (testing software I had written on-site in a prison psychology department.

Re:Integration testing of PPG software in a prison (3, Informative)

gbjbaanb (229885) | about 2 months ago | (#47162903)

I wrote the basics of a command and control interface for an Ambulance service. I did this sitting on a server (big tower case) with my laptop on another server tower, precariously balanced because the data was coming in from a serial cable that snaked through a hole in the wall and had a splitter on it, nicely held together with a few cable ties and some blutack. The serial cable was delivering telephony from live 999 calls to the call centre whilst I was trying to "reverse engineer" the data being delivered.

And all this because the telephony switch company wouldn't give us the necessary information (without paying a very extortionate amount of money for a full SDK) so I could write the code in my cosy office chair. F****rs. No wonder they went bankrupt in the end (around 2008/2009)

BBS Camp. (2)

Kaenneth (82978) | about 2 months ago | (#47162843)

Wrote and debugged a dial up message board server for the Commodore 64 while at camp for 2 weeks.

In a paper notebook, since this was the 80's are we were 15 miles from the nearest power lines.

When I got home, I transcribed it, and it worked perfectly. (for a single phone line dial up board for a few friends)

Re:BBS Camp. (1)

MrLogic17 (233498) | about 2 months ago | (#47163111)

Similar story here. I wrote a game from scratch, in a dentist's office. Use lined notebook paper, spiral bound, to write out C=64 code.

I was maybe 10 at the time, and thought that number the lines with even numbers would give me room to make changes, should I want to.

Game worked perfectly, even line numbers, not so much,

Wind Industry (5, Interesting)

DeathToBill (601486) | about 2 months ago | (#47162849)

1. From inside the base of a wind turbine tower in rural Inner Mongolia province, China. Or, alternatively, from a caravan in the middle of a forest in Eastern Finland in the middle of winter - minus 30 C outside.

2. While nearly frozen to death (see 1b).

3. Wrote a program from? Or wrote a program for? The latter is probably a Danish PLC which I will not name here. It has an in-house OS with an in-house executable format which is based on ELF, loosely enough that none of the standard ELF tools work on it. A serial console is the only debugging interface available. An actual debugger is out of the question. All debugging output is truncated to 20 characters. The thing has a 100MHz CPU and all floating-point math is done in software (no FPU). Its reaction to almost any programming error is to hard reboot (and "programming error" here includes calling printf with any but the most basic formatting string). Perhaps most frustratingly, when it hard reboots it claims to write a stack trace of the faulting code; about 4 times in 5, this is truncated to some extent, often to only the first function in the stack.

4. A Windows programme to drive EtherCAT IO modules from a standard Ethernet socket.

Do I win?

Re:Wind Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47162881)

me bows in reeespect!

Re:Wind Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47162885)

You are not a True Yorkshireman []

Re:Wind Industry (1)

DeathToBill (601486) | about 2 months ago | (#47163139)

God, but they look young in that.

Re:Wind Industry (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 months ago | (#47163119)

Do I win?

In the big picture, I'd say very much no.

Re:Wind Industry (1)

BreakBad (2955249) | about 2 months ago | (#47163249)

Do I win?

In the big picture, I'd say very much no.


Re:Wind Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47163245)

i'd say you lose and need to get a life and get laid

Re:Wind Industry (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47163319)

You do in my book! Me, my most prosaic experience was to sit on a stool in a huge, mostly empty (except for the robotic PC board line and some CNC machines cranking out ship propellors) aircraft hangar size warehouse to write code to run the US Navy's RAMP project back in the early 1990's.

I program smart buildings... (2)

Lumpy (12016) | about 2 months ago | (#47162855)

So I have written software sitting on a bucket in the electrical closet many times.
One place they were grinding the cement floors, so I found the only room that was not a cement cloud, the womens bathroom.
Behind the racks in an AV closet on the floor.
One place had no heat at all until my software was up and running, it was winter, so I was in my car with a 200 foot cat5e ran to inside the building to a small switch, and then into their network.

Re:I program smart buildings... (1)

Assmasher (456699) | about 2 months ago | (#47163289)

One place had no heat at all until my software was up and running, it was winter, so I was in my car with a 200 foot cat5e ran to inside the building to a small switch, and then into their network.

You win - that is a cool visual :). I could see Gary Larson going to town on that.

On a barrel at an open air music fest (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47162865)

A about 8 years ago I was fixing a bash script for some bluetooth-related stuff at an open air music fest, sitting on a barrel because the grass was wet :-).

Years ago.. (1)

CFBMoo1 (157453) | about 2 months ago | (#47162895)

A DOS based database I programmed to handle a video stores inventory from a rental storage building. I was just starting out and the guy who wanted me to write it didn't pay me for it but said it was a trial. That was the last time I programmed in a rental storage facility.

by Candlelight (3, Interesting)

Demerara (256642) | about 2 months ago | (#47162905)

I spent some time writing billing data analysis by candlelight. This, of itself, is not unusual in a developing country (where I lived at the time). But since the client was the electricity company and it was their data being analysed, the irony was not lost on my client who insisted that I never mention this fact to anyone... Well, that's all over now!

Under a tree, at the airport (2)

6Yankee (597075) | about 2 months ago | (#47162911)

I wrote parts of an aviation photo database while sat under a tree by the airport fence. (Keepin' it real, yo.) Naturally, I picked days when it looked like this [] , not like this [] .

OUL isn't the busiest airport in the world, so it's actually a really peaceful place most of the time, especially if you walk round to the south side. You're right on the edge of the forest, and you hear far more birdsong than jet noise.

Malfunctioning Full Motion Simulator (4, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47162913)

In a very expensive 6DOF full motion flight simulator capsule with projectors whilst the motion platform was malfunctioning, all jittery. Was easier to boot up Visual Studio on the system driving the projectors used for visuals and motion then it was elsewhere, so here I was coding in a cockpit that was being thrown about waiting for me to fix it, examining debug data.

Re:Malfunctioning Full Motion Simulator (1)

jeillah (147690) | about 2 months ago | (#47163003)

Me too only it was writing 8051 assembler code. Talk about a test of concentration...

Re:Malfunctioning Full Motion Simulator (1)

6Yankee (597075) | about 2 months ago | (#47163301)

Please tell me you BSOD'd the thing and got a photo...

Dripping with sweat... (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47162929)

Dripping with sweat, inside a demountable building with no air con and 12 other programmers + machines (including CRT monitors, heat makers that they are) in the middle of a large black-tar carpark in the middle of an Australian summer.

The company we worked for was trying to get us to quit, so they dumped us there.

We quickly reasoned that if they were prepared to pay us for working in debilitating conditions, we were going to take their money and produce the small amount of work it was possible to get done under those circumstances.

Work attire was the first thing to go, replaced by shorts and hawaiian shirts. Management dropped in and threatened to put a mark on our files - prelude to being allowed to terminate our employment - until we pointed out that it was not in their interest for us to get the work safe authority involved.

This continued for several months while our effective output dropped to near zero, but they were still paying us.

Management blinked first. One lunchtime we all watched while the biggest forklift I've ever seen picked up the whole demountable and carried it inside one of the warehouses on site, where it became our home for the next couple of years.

The warehouse was used for military storage. One day I came into work and looked over at Mark.

"Hey, Mark" I yelled out.

"Whaddya want?" he said

"OK, " I replied, "follow these instructions. Put your chair in front of your monitor. Look at your screen. Now, swivel 90 degrees left".

Mark was a sport, so he did all that.... pointed straight at his head on the other side of his window was some sort of military artillery cannon. He screamed and fell off his chair. How we all laughed!

Unusual circumstance.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47162939)

I work for a company with about 1000 employees as a sysadmin. I have done a fair bit of scripting with Powershell/vbscript, but no real development work. One day my boss asks me to write a web application in c# because the Dev team 'didn't have enough resources available'. He said he couldn't tell me why they needed the application, and I would have to use the free editions of visual studio as no licenses were available. I told him I had never written an application in c#. He asked me to write it in a week... 2 weeks later I had a multi-tier MVC app with an ajax frontend that queried custom restful web services to work with exchange web services using impersonation. A few weeks after that I found out the reason they wanted it... they wanted the tool to support our soon to be outsourced helpdesk staff. :/

On my laptop while driving down the freeway. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47162945)

True story. It was an emergency. Yes, I was stupid. And no, I will never do it again.

LP Mud (5, Interesting)

Rei (128717) | about 2 months ago | (#47162951)

So this is more of an "unusual way to patch a system" story...

Back in the day, I used to code for an LP mud, and I accidentally locked myself - and everyone else who wasn't already logged in - out of the mud. The guy who could reboot the thing was often inaccessible, and there was only one person - another wizard (coder) - still logged in, coding away and oblivious to what had just transpired. I managed to get him to resolve the problem by inserting a file in his working directory called "(His name)_PLEASE_DO_NOT_LOG_OUT,_READ_THIS_IMMEDIATELY!!!.txt", which explained the problem and how to fix it. Half an hour later, he noticed the file and undid my mess ;)

The problem was the consequence of a coding arms race (oh, coding for LP muds was so dang fun.... every instantiated class object is treated as a physical object, its functions can be bound to user commands, and you can override the default interaction functions). Wizards (coders) often made "dest" tools - tools designed to destruct player objects, aka, kick them (temporarily) off the mud and make them have to log back in. Often they were done with artistic fluorishes, such as a long leadup sequence.

My friend at the time - oh, let's just pick a name nobody would realistically have and call him "Elim" - created this elaborate dest, wherein the target sees him pick up a flower and play "she loves me / she loves me not" with it, and when the last petal is plucked ("she loves me not"), the target would get kicked off. After he used it on me once, I wrote a counter tool which would detect when he was using his dest, and instead kick him off instead with my parody of his dest**. So he wrote an alternative dest tool, which would instantly kick me off without any leadup to detect, and do the flourishes afterward. So I wrote a tool which would be invisible and hop into his inventory and detect when he tried to use his dest tool, take precedence, and kick him off instead; plus a tool that would sit in my inventory and look for any unexpected objects and instantly destruct them. And on and on the code war went. The problem that one night, however, was when a bug led to my inventory-protector desting me and thus dropping to the floor, where it would wait to destruct any objects it could see in the same room (thinking the room was my inventory). And stupid me was coding in the login room at that time (which led to a new policy, never code in the login room! ;) )

** My parody of his dest involved sticking a paralyzation object into his inventory (one that would intercept and ignore all of his commands) and had a giant ogre run into the room, pick him as the flower, and play "She loves me, she loves me not" with his limbs making him randomly scream out for help.

At the bottom of a swimming pool (2)

ghenne (537543) | about 2 months ago | (#47162963)

Using NS Basic for Newton, a complete IDE that ran on the Newton. I wrapped the Newton in a baggie, then went to the bottom of the pool and tapped in "Hello World".

Maasai Community, Rift Valley, Kenya (5, Interesting)

Port-0 (301613) | about 2 months ago | (#47162967)

Currently I'm sitting in the rift valley of Kenya, in a small rural Maasai community. We are the last house on the power line. No one south of us has any Utility power. We had a Giraffe just outside the back yard a few days back. Internet is via the cell network... there is a single spot in the yard where I've found 3g works. So I've planted a short pole, which has a power and a spot for the hotspot modem to sit. It's covered with a plastic bottle with the bottom cut out. to keep the rain and dust off.

Re:Maasai Community, Rift Valley, Kenya (1)

DoofusOfDeath (636671) | about 2 months ago | (#47163133)

That's pretty unusual. What has you there?

Well, that's easy (1)

azav (469988) | about 2 months ago | (#47162969)

Either Heathrow airport, or the middle of the Kalahari.

It was the production system for FiOS TV's design to development pipeline.

I told my team and bosses I was going to go into hiding for a week. I was off coding in a bar in Africa when they asked me if I wanted to go down the street for Indian food.

My Story of BrainFuck (1)

captjc (453680) | about 2 months ago | (#47162977)

I was really bored in my college compiler design class, so I was browsing the web and came across the programming website [] . While browsing, I discovered a language with the greatest name ever, Brainfuck [] . After looking it up on Wikipedia and quickly reading over the code sample [] at 99 Bottles, I wrote an interpreter during class. By then end of the lecture, I had a working interpreter that ran the sample code perfectly. So in the span of ~40 minutes, I went from never knowing about this language to having written an working interpreter for it, all out of pure boredom in a compiler design class. I showed it to the professor, who found it neat, but I couldn't get any extra credit because it is a *compiler* design class and not an *interpreter* design class.


Not really coding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47162983)

Not really coding, but when I was doing the port of Wolfenstein 3D to the Acorn Archimedes, I printed out all the source code (2" of paper when printed two 80x66 pages per sheet) and stuck it in a large ring binder. Then I took it on a lads' holiday to Majorca. I sat and read it by the swimming pool while my friends were preening in front of girls. Still got more action than they did, too :p

The far end of my parents' garden (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47162987)

The far end of my parents' garden. I live 50 miles from my car mechanic, while my parents lives one mile from the mechanic. So when I needed to have some repairs done, rather than take the train home, I slept at my parents place, and worked "from home" from there.

I had a 3G modem for the laptop, but unfortunately coverage was crappy. So crappy that I couldn't get a usefull signal inside, or even near the house, I needed to go to the far end of their garden, which is closer to the nearest cell tower. Eight hours of working outside with a laoptop. At least it was a sunny day and not raining, otherwise I don't think the laptop would have lasted long.

Another time, while not involving any development, I have been checking mails via a telnet to port 25 from the console port of a Cisco router, while we were waiting for a colleague to bring a hub with RJ45 and BNC, so we could connect the Cisco (RJ45) to the rest of the network (BNC).

Slot machine source at a camp fire on an iPad (1)

Vic Metcalfe (355) | about 2 months ago | (#47162991)

Just the weekend before last I was writing a SMS slot machine game using my iPad while sitting around a camp fire at a Scout camp. A few of my Scouts were interested enough to let me walk them through how it worked. It was javascript for node.js.

Early morning coding (1)

bunratty (545641) | about 2 months ago | (#47163011)

Once my wife woke me at 2am to fix some code in a Perl script I had written months earlier. It took a few minutes to figure out what was wrong, but I soon realized it was a case that I realized could happen when I wrote the code, but I didn't account for. Maybe it took 10-15 minutes to fix the bug, and I went right back to bed. Good thing I wrote readable Perl code.

The bug was in some code that removed rows and columns of no data from a table. Where there was no data, there was a period "." in the input instead. When I wrote the code it was just easier for me to assume that the first column would never have missing data. It took months to hit this case, and it happened at 2am when my wife was on a tight deadline.

In a hut on an island in Norway (1)

Required Snark (1702878) | about 2 months ago | (#47163017)

I wasn't writing code from scratch, I was modifying it to work in the field.

The user display end of the system was in the hut. The sensor end was in an WWII gun pillbox that was built by the Nazis as part of the Atlantic Wall. It was an empty concrete shell with all the emplacement hardware removed. Being there was unsettling.

Poolside (1)

statemachine (840641) | about 2 months ago | (#47163023)

1. What is the most unusual location you have written a program from?

As soon as WAPs became available, I was outside by the pool on my laptop, coding from a lounge chair without cords. It was beautiful.

2. What is the most unusual circumstance under which you have written a program?

Way back in school, I helped someone write a program on a phone call. The compiler was on his side. I just dictated and debugged code by memory.

3. What is the most unusual computing platform that you wrote a program from?

From? Linux used to be fairly unusual. Hardware... uh Vic20, Apple][, and an old PDP mainframe. I guess those weren't unusual for the time.

4. What is the most unusual application program that you wrote?

I wrote a quick-n-dirty caching-server for SETI@home before it had the capability. SETI's servers were very trusting of input which made it easy to reverse-engineer. I poked around to see the limits, but I didn't allow anyone to abuse it.

I also wrote a wxradar gif scraper. It saved and cataloged the radar images every 5 minutes. Weather sites didn't save this data for more than a couple of hours, and I wanted to track the progress of storms and recall it much later.

At the (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47163031)

Strangest single incident I can remember was when I was on a tight deadline (in less than an hour) and had to write r/w caching to a filesystem while the rest of the company was having a loud party at the office.

Missing category: Most unusual state of mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47163039)

I'd like to hear those stories. Ballmer peak etc.

Re:Missing category: Most unusual state of mind (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47163097)

I wrote a realtime 3D fractal generator when I was on acid once. Man that was good.

Ski trip (1)

kubajz (964091) | about 2 months ago | (#47163051)

When I learned programming my Dad took us to a skiing trip in the Slovak mountains - small cottage in the woods with a simple wood stove, nearest shop was 30 minute walk through the hills in deep snow, and whole days were spent skiing. The nights, however, we spent programming - with a pencil and an eraser ("the most important tool of a good programmer", my Dad said), and he was my compiler, debugger and processor, executing my handwritten programs for me and pointing out mistakes :)

Brothel (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47163053)

1. In two different occasions, I had to edit Haskell code (on my VPS) with an N900 when I was in a bordello club. You know you are a real nerd when there is a bunch of naked ladies walking around and you can still focus.
2. Back when I was a teenager, they called me to fix an accounting bug in a COBOL program my uncle wrote. The place was a small factory of sorts and everyone was high on glue vapor. I also instantly got high and became their laughing stock. I can't remember whether I managed to fix the issue.
3. DR-DOS I guess.
4. A compressor that could squeeze any data to 5 bytes. Didn't work on the uncompressor though.

Outside Maternity Ward (1)

AlecC (512609) | about 2 months ago | (#47163061)

A friend wrote a Basic-like interpreter for our embedded product to occupy his mind while waiting for his first children to be born. We did uses it a little.

Underneath a glacier in the Arctic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47163087)

Working on open source Kinect drivers.

Commit message here:!topic/openkinect/8lOmCb4BFNo

This changeset pushed to github from 200 m underneath a glacier north of the Arctic circle. []

In the middle of the Atlantic (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47163107)

When I was in the Navy programming was just a hobby for me. So in my spare time on the ship I did play around with learning Java 1.0. However, I did write a few UNIX scripts and DOS batch files as part of my job on the ship here and there. The only issue I had was that spending long periods of time looking at a screen would get me a little sea sick so regular breaks were always needed.

During conference keynote - for conference keynote (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47163113)

I once put the final code in place for a system that was due to be demoed live to thousands of people as part of a big keynote conference speech after the keynote had started. One of the most stressful moments in my life!

Deep in the cave... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47163117)

... at the Northern Caucasus. In the underground base camp. Firmware for self-designed datalogger. AVR-based.

Rocking, rocking (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47163121)

one day I was "privelaged" to spend about 4 hours programming in a rowboat. The barge I was working on was full of visitors so with no chairs available I ducked out and did my work in a rowboat tethered nearby. No computer there but all I n eeded was a space to lay out some print-outs and do my editing, and thinking on paper. The language, HP Basic. That's how long ago this was.

Testing not coding (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47163125)

As I'm a tester (yes, we read slashdot as well) thought I would give my answer to 4

Many years ago I worked for a large multinational who had a desktop program being translated into different (spoken) languages. One of these could not / would not be done, so we had to have a small stub program that did nothing (instead of running an external help demo). And by nothing I mean nothing - you start it up, it just closes down. This was a windows program.

As a tester, my test script was somewhat limited, and I'm sure the coder's unit tests were equaly simple.

It took the coder 7 (SEVEN!!") attempts to get it right.

Perl (1)

Hamsterdan (815291) | about 2 months ago | (#47163127)

Modifying something in Perl without having ever used the language. The only background I have in programming is 65xx BASIC (Apple ][e and C64) along with 65xx and 6809 assembler in the late '80s/early '90s.

Inside a huge 3D printer. (1)

daid303 (843777) | about 2 months ago | (#47163143)

Did some programming&debugging from inside a 3D printer: []

Most unusual circumstances? (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 2 months ago | (#47163145)

Perched on a rickety kitchen chair in front of a monitor that was sitting on top of the computer tower with the keyboard in my lap and the mouse on a card table to the side.

We were just starting a contract and the furniture hadn't arrived yet. :)

Re:Most unusual circumstances? (1)

msobkow (48369) | about 2 months ago | (#47163147)

I was lucky to have the card table -- one of the guys had a mouse pad on a couple of milk crates. :P

Re:Most unusual circumstances? (1)

6Yankee (597075) | about 2 months ago | (#47163271)

My first day here, I had a desk but no chair, and had to run power and network cables to the desk myself (as well as hunt down an extension cable when I refused to run power straight across a door at floor level). I also went monitor-shopping with the sysadmin, which involved a long cycle ride through the forest.

Took three days to get it all set up, and another three hours to work out that I couldn't do a damn thing with five other people bouncing about in a room built for two.

Bees! (2)

MTEK (2826397) | about 2 months ago | (#47163167)

Arrived at a client site and was directed to a terminal in a server closet. As I was making changes to a script something flew past the corner of my eye. There was an active wasp nest above and behind my head. I never coded so fast in my life.

Software Process (1)

lourd_baltimore (856467) | about 2 months ago | (#47163185)

From the first issue of an approved design document that itself was based on the first issue of software requirements as approved by the customer. How quaint.

Next Door to the Freak Show (1)

Mister Transistor (259842) | about 2 months ago | (#47163199)

Balancing a Compaq luggable and an MCS-8051 full in-circuit emulator on top of a cigarette machine in the vestibule of a restaurant next to a Methadone clinic in Brooklyn, New York. I was writing answer-detection and rate tables for a pay telephone for which I developed the hardware and firmware. After getting things right, I burned an EPROM on-site and it was good to go. This was back in about 1986 or so...

Preposition (1)

Hrrrg (565259) | about 2 months ago | (#47163205)

"Ask Slashdot: Where's the Most Unusual Place You've Written a Program From?"

A preposition is a terrible thing to end a sentence with!

phone (2)

Lehk228 (705449) | about 2 months ago | (#47163207)

remoted into a server with my old blackberry bold using a SSH app that bound certain keys to the shoulder switches, volume, and custom side buttons, I had volume down bound to tab

That would have to be in the butt, Bob. (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47163239)


Work! even though it was nearly impossible (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47163241)

I actually got away from status meetings and design discussions once.

this aught to be fun :) (2)

nimbius (983462) | about 2 months ago | (#47163259)

1. What is the most unusual location you have written a program from?

while working for a major automotive manufacturer in the south, I once wrote a perl script from 40 feet off the ground in a hydraulic lift to update firmware across several switches in the plant. I was replacing a switch that had been tucked away near a sodium vapour lamp and had melted.

2. What is the most unusual circumstance under which you have written a program?

during a celebratory lunch for our team I acted as the on-call engineer, and ended up spending an hour writing a python script to set watchdog bmc timers on servers. I never ate, and cant even remember what speech the manager gave.

3. What is the most unusual computing platform that you wrote a program from?

I once wrote a program through a dmx512 board to control conference room lighting and a projector. 5 buttons, one joystick, and a week of hell. i also programmed a 4 button sequence that triggers 'disco mode'

4. What is the most unusual application program that you wrote?"

A major insurance company i worked for had an HR office that could never remember to shut off the coffee maker. After several fire department visits I repurposed an old PDU from the datacenter and wired the thing up so the HR department had to send an email to get the coffee maker to turn on for 5 minutes. This started out as a joke, and unfortunately received praise from the office for 'upgrading the coffee maker' :(

written, nothing special. but debugged?? (1)

unfortunateson (527551) | about 2 months ago | (#47163277)

Many years ago, pre cell phones, I was paged by an FDA reviewer writing on a database system I wrote, Friday night at the drive in theatre.

Fixing his proven required stepping through the code (Borland Paradox) over a pay phone in the concession stand, remembering exactly how the code worked, to tweak the behavior.

Admittedly not millions of lines of code, but still a pretty nifty feat.

A biscuit factory (1)

neilo_1701D (2765337) | about 2 months ago | (#47163291)

The "only" place I could fix my system control code was sitting on a chair right next to the oven's output cooling fans. Lots of snacking on nice, fresh biscuits :)

Plenty of time spent in other snack food factories, and lots of other stories (eg. packaging machine failure left me frantically rebooting an NT4 system whilst it was raining corn chips from the overflowing scale above me).

Unusual Place? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47163303)

You mean like the back of a Volkswagen?

The butt (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about 2 months ago | (#47163309)

That'd be the butt, Bob.

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