I Know The Old C Dinosaurs Remember This Pain

Who are yah pointing at, pal?

A cartton of a bewildered programmer baffled by his code
AI image by ChatGPT from my prompt

Original copyright © 1990 Tony Lawrence. This was written in January of 1990, originally published in the Boston Computer Society’s PC Report. Rewritten July 2005 at Updated June 2024 and trimmed for Medium

I admit it: I’m sometimes just not careful where I’m pointing. In ordinary life, careless pointing might be rude, but in C programming, it tends to be unforgivable.

Right now, for example, I’m chasing an errant pointer that cannot be found using Codeview (Microsoft’s debugger). That is, if run under Codeview, the program works correctly, but crashes when run without it. This might sound like a real hair-tearer, but usually this kind of problem isn’t too hard to find.

This particular little stinker has been impossible to find.

If a program works under a debugger but crashes otherwise, the problem is almost always an uninitialized pointer. The reason it works during debugging is because the debugger either provides initialization or happens to arrange memory so that your error doesn’t hurt anything important.

It’s always my fault. Every time. All I have to do is find where I made the mistake — in approximately 100,000…



Anthony (Tony/Pcunix) Lawrence 👀
Tech and Me, Loving It or Hating It

Retired Unix Consultant. I write tech and humor mostly but sometimes other things. See my Lists if your interests are specific.