Time to slow down and be more careful

Eric S. Raymond esr at thyrsus.com
Mon Apr 17 17:14:25 UTC 2017

This morning, while investigating a recent code change that smelled
bad to me, I discovered that an error cascade of small, wrong changes
starting some weeks ago had destroyed the mechanism that would allow
instances of ntpd to interoperate across the epoch 1 boundary in 2036.

I fixed the problem, recovering the old code required to make this
work again, but it's a blot on our record. Up to now all our mistakes
have been very minor. This wasn't.  If it remained undetected until
actual symptoms were visible it would have been extremely difficult
to fix.

I fear we've gotten a little too used to success, a bit cavalier
about checking our assumptions.

So: It's time to slow down and be more careful.  Check your
premises twice before you hack.  At this point in the game, if
you think you've detected dead code, check with other devs; it
may be a sign that something that should be calling it has
been incorrectly removed.
		<a href="http://www.catb.org/~esr/">Eric S. Raymond</a>

The whole aim of practical politics is to keep the populace alarmed (and
hence clamorous to be led to safety) by menacing it with an endless series
of hobgoblins, all of them imaginary.		-- H.L. Mencken

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