Minimize Typing

It couldn’t have happened to a worse set of people, and I’m glad it did, but I’ll still take a positive lesson out of this. A hacker sent a typo in a command to a botnet and lost control. That’s kind of funny, and I’m glad it happened. The less botnets, the better, IMHO.

The coding in this software didn’t have good error handling, which is a lesson in and of itself. Overall it seems many developers do a good job of error handling, but I still encounter more pieces of software that allow problematic input than I’d like. While we don’t have great error handling in T-SQL, you can make some checks, and you should.

That’s not the big lesson for me. The bigger lesson is that we ought to do less typing in much of our daily work. The last decade has had me work often with companies looking to implement DevOps software pipelines and driving automation wherever possible. We want to limit the chances humans can make mistakes, which means we want to limit their typing. Or clicking, as is the case in much of today’s software.

Instead, we want to ensure all our code or commands are reviewed by someone, they are submitted to an automated pipeline, and they are validated or practiced on some system ahead of production execution. We ought to do this for no other reason than we want to ensure we have an audit trail, but preventing typos is good as well.

I don’t know if you can completely get away from typing, but we can reduce the number of human error mistakes if we include some static code analysis (including for commands), some peer review, some sort of unit testing, and pre-production deployment. A lot of mistakes I find are fairly simple ones. Common human error that occurs because we’re busy, we’re stressed, we’re moving too fast, or we just miss something.

Use the computer for one of its strengths. Tediously checking the simple things that humans do wrong.

Steve Jones

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About way0utwest

Editor, SQLServerCentral
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