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 These days, I mostly post my tech musings on Linkedin.  https://www.linkedin.com/in/seanmcgrath/

Friday, February 22, 2008

Security is hard - a canned air example

IT security is "hard" in the same way that the universe is "big". Just because the words "hard" and "big" are small words...doesn't mean that the concept being conveyed is in any way small.

One of my guilty pleasures is regularly grinning at the sheer cleverness and devious smarts that underlie many security attack vectors. Via John Naughton comes this absolute gem to do with encrypted hard disks. who would have thought that canned air can be a hackers tool?: New Research Result: Cold Boot Attacks on Disk Encryption

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Blogtalk, 2008

The experts on social networks, blogs and Web 3.0 at BlogTalk 2008 in Cork!

I'm looking forward to it. See you there. 12 Noon Monday is the Mashups, microformats and the mobile web panel.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

A Roy Fielding and Mark Baker alignment

So, I subscribed to Roy Fielding's Blog and noticed that my alpha-sorted bloglines feed listing puts "Untangled" right next to "Web Things by Mark Baker".

Very appropriate.

Tuesday, February 19, 2008

Wanted: One new computing paradigm : preferably an old one that is known to work but newly packaged up as a shiny new thing

Bill points to hand wringing on the parallel-programming model problem and wonders if it is overblown.

It is a real problem in my opinion. I have been long enough in this game to have realised an unfortunate truth. Namely, that Computer Science fundamentals are re-learned by each new generation in the field. The "science" doesn't seem to move on much in a formal sense. Instead, stories are handed down in an ad-hoc fashion from generation to generation around digital campfires.

If I had a penny for everytime I have witnessed developers falling into well established tarpits related to distributed atomic operations, reliable messaging, pattern matching, O N-squared performance, cyclic graphs, noun/verb conflation etc. etc. etc....The sad thing is that in that penny jar would be a bunch of my own pennies. Although "classically trained" as they say, I carried very little genuinely useful lore into the field.

Anyway, against this slightly depressing backdrop comes the multi-core era and all around us, there will be rampant re-invention and rampant chewing of long known gristle. A lot of it will be brought on by the perceived need to treat multi-core as just a library problem. You can get a library to bail you out of inventing your own math library, so why not just buy or develop a library for multi-core. That way, you get to keep the current paradigm and the current fav programming language and IDE and dev/debugging methods...

Some things I fear developers will re-invent in struggling to fit multi-core into their current tooling world view: Erlang, Occam, Hoare's CSP, Petri Nets, PI Calculus, Queue-based batch processing, parallel statecharts.

They are all coming to Java/C# libraries - and the IDE's that service them - near you soon. In some sense, the arrival of these things "re-invented" in today's OO-languages-of-choice will be real progress. Reason being, there will be literally years of fighting non-determinism with debugging tools first. I shudder at the thought but fear that this is a road that must be travelled.

"'Non-determinism' you say? Surely my wonderful visual IDE debugger has a module for handling that?"


Monday, February 18, 2008

Boston bound

I'm going to be in Boston for Paddy's week this year mixing some business with some R'n'R. Doing the Parade thing and the scoffing-the-seafood thing. If any blog readers out there want to meet up, let me know.

Ubuntu 7.10 on a Thinkpad X61

Installation went smoothly. The install quietly but firmly apportioned part of the disk to Ubuntu while Vista was asleep. Vista took the hump about the reduction in its disk space when it woke up. It went skulking into the corner doing a chkdsk or something. Anyway, it all "just worked".

By "all" I mean the usual "all". I.e. all the stuff you really, really need like networking and e-mail and all that.

Some tweaking has been ongoing - especially to enable the pen stuff. So far nothing major to report.

Compiz fusion doesn't like the graphics card but its possible to tell it to fly dangerously and then its mostly fine. Useful for moments of Mac envy.

On the "bummer" side, emacs has some stability issues related to Gnome by the looks of it. Xemacs to the rescue there.

Pidgin occasionally has a hissy fit so I'm trying Kopete.