Archive for April 2014

the single most catastrophic design bug in the history of computing

Space exploration history offers a pool of well-publicized and expensive mistakes, but interestingly, I didn’t find any valid candidates there. Fortran syntax errors and space shuttle computer synchronization mistakes do not qualify for lack of intent. Running one part of a project in imperial units and the other in metric is a “random act of management” that has nothing to do with CS or IT.

The best candidate I have been able to come up with is the C/Unix/Posix use of NUL-terminated text strings. The choice was really simple: Should the C language represent strings as an address + length tuple or just as the address with a magic character (NUL) marking the end? This is a decision that the dynamic trio of Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie, and Brian Kernighan must have made one day in the early 1970s, and they had full freedom to choose either way. I have not found any record of the decision, which I admit is a weak point in its candidacy: I do not have proof that it was a conscious decision.

As far as I can determine from my research, however, the address + length format was preferred by the majority of programming languages at the time, whereas the address + magic_marker format was used mostly in assembly programs. As the C language was a development from assembly to a portable high-level language, I have a hard time believing that Ken, Dennis, and Brian gave it no thought at all.

Using an address + length format would cost one more byte of overhead than an address + magic_marker format, and their PDP computer had limited core memory. In other words, this could have been a perfectly typical and rational IT or CS decision, like the many similar decisions we all make every day; but this one had quite atypical economic consequences.

via The Most Expensive One-byte Mistake – ACM Queue.

Heartbleed Exploit

In the hours immediately following the public disclosure of the so-called Heartbleed vulnerability, several readers reported their Ars accounts were hijacked by people who exploited the bug and obtained other readers’ account passwords. There’s no way of knowing if compromises happened earlier than that. Ars has no evidence such hacks did occur, but two years is a long time. There’s simply no way of ruling out the possibility.

via Dear readers, please change your Ars account passwords ASAP | Ars Technica.

Yes unfortunately it is that bad, and no way of telling how long this has been exploited in the last 2 years. Patch, Reissue Certs, Change passwords. We need something other than passwords. Only thing better curently is Two-Factor Authentication

Not a Joke! Oh wait crash is a bad term to use here isn’t it?

Microsoft Demos Concept for Windows in the Car – YouTube.

he says this is not a joke this is real we put it in a car.. then seriously 2mins later.. he says when it crashes.. this is why it’s a concept

?Why Roku Matters More Than Ever

You have more streaming TV options than you could hope for, especially now that Amazon has entered the fray. And while Apple TV, Chromecast, and Fire TV all have their strengths, they also share the same crippling weakness: self-interest. That’s what makes Roku so important.

via ?Why Roku Matters More Than Ever.

Aggregation News

The publishing business wants to be dependent on ad revenue. But there is too much content and not enough advertising to fill the ad space. That exacerbates these bad practices.

Aggregators seek high click volume, which can generate more advertising and improve page rates. To repeat: Google’s business model enables them.

via Aggregation is Plagiarism | 5 minutes with Joe.

Mac Pro