Every PC user should know how to program, and there’s never been a better time to learn
With the huge variety of computing devices all around us, it’s important to remember what it is that’s special about a full-fledged personal computer. We think the main difference can be summed up in one word: mastery. No matter how much time you spend with an iPad or an Android phone or in a web browser, you can never truly master it. There’s just not enough there to learn. But the PC? That’s different. The PC goes deep.
Note: This article was originally featured in the October 2013 issue of the magazine
A federal appeals court has overturned the 2010 conviction of former Goldman Sachs programmer Sergey Aleynikov, ordering the trial court to enter a judgement of acquittal. Aleynikov was previously convicted under the Economic Espionage Act of stealing source code from projects he had worked on at Goldman Sachs. It seems technology outstripped the law once again in this case.
According to a report at ZDNet, earlier reports indicating that Google's Android operating system had directly copied code from Oracle/Sun were greatly exaggerated. The controversy was ignited today when an article called out a number of files available in the Android open source repository. These files, the reports said, were exact copies of files that Oracle makes available, but they were not marked as such. Many of them had the Apache license attached instead.
Now that everyone has had some time to digest the news, we see that this is simply a mistake. 7 of the files are part of the unit test tree, and are only a developer tool. These are not shipped with Android and cannot be called part of the OS. An additional ZIP file contained more Oracle files, this time related to an audio chipset driver. This file was added by a user for unknown reasons. It too is not part of Android. In fact, the most recent version of the repository doesn't even have many of these files.
If the original information had panned out, it would have been a big headache for Google in their legal battle with Oracle. The latter company claims their code has been inappropriately included in Android. Do you think there is some shady business going on at Google?
This morning, Google released the source code for the newest Android platform update, Android 2.3 Gingerbread. The source code is available from the Android Open Source Repository now. Engadget reports that Google is asking interested parties to wait several hours to download the new code to balance out server loads.
Android 2.3 is the software version shipping on the new Nexus S that launched yesterday. Now that the software code is open, ROM modders will be hard at work incorporating it into their ROMs. The ROMs that have so far been made are ports from the Gingerbread SDK, and tend to be very slow. Additionally, now that the code is open, many hardware manufacturers will start working on their phone updates in earnest. Though, some close partners get early access to the code. In any case, get ready for the Gingerbread ROMs and updates to flow.
Back in August, Oracle joined the list of companies suing Google over various elements of the open source Android operating system. Now the lawsuit has been updated with a claim that Google "directly copied" Oracle's Java code. It looks like Oracle is contending that Google is not just using code that functions in a way that infringed patents, but rather that they took code directly from Oracle (or Sun at the time).
The updated legal documents contain code snippets that Oracle says show copyright infringement. In all, Oracle is claiming that one third of Google's Java APIs are infringing on Oracle's Java API packages. Google has, in the past, called Oracle's claims "baseless".
Oracle also accused Google of violating some Java patents, and that part of the suit remains unaltered. Google hasn't responded to these new claims as of yet. We'll have to wait and see what they have to say to this.
Adobe is no stranger to criticism. The company has consistently drawn flak for its piss poor security track record. In fact, it would be reasonable to believe that Adobe is inured to the constant castigation.
But it now seems to be making more serious efforts to plug the many holes in its software. Back in April, it introduced an automatic updater for its Acrobat and Reader products, giving it the ability to tackle critical security issues speedily. And now it has turned its focus to “sandboxing,” a security mechanism that involves running the concerned software in an isolated environment - the sandbox.
Initially, the new feature, dubbed “Protected Mode, will only be used to sandbox “write calls.” But a subsequent update will also help stave off exploit code that tries to copy sensitive information from the user’s machine. "In the first release, everything that is involved in rendering a PDF has to happen within the sandbox.”
Adobe expects to have the next version of Reader ready before the end of the year.
If you like to shop online, you really have no reason to not save additional money when purchasing, well, anything. That's a pretty generic statement, so let me break things down for you: A number of online retailers (or brick-and-mortar stores with online presences) have tons of deals, coupons, and promotional codes floating around the Web at any given time. These might be geared toward specific audiences; they might be sent out to locations you don't frequent or email addresses that aren't yours.
So how, then, can you save money and access these coupons or promotions when shopping your Firefox Web browser? Well, I'm glad you asked...
Google has released a new web security tool developers can use to check their sites for security vulnerabilities. The tool is called Skipfish and it runs on a Linux or Unix command line in a similar way to well known utilities like Nmap or Nessus. The only difference is that Skipfish runs much faster.
The software is capable of processing 2,000 HTTP requests per second on even a modest system. Tests on local networks have yielded more than 7,000 requests per second. Skipfish owes this amazing speed to its straight-up C implementation.
The tool was designed to identify code that could allow vulnerabilities like cross-site scripting attacks and SQL/XML injection attacks, among others. It even supports asynchronous processing of multithreaded processes for high scalability. If you’re a web developer interested in the software, you can get it here.
It was an innocuous question, part of a grander lunchtime chat about life, the Internet, and The Future Way of Things. My coworker was curious about the benefits of open-source--specifically those advantages with a dollar sign preceding them--and naturally thought that the upstart Google operating system could someday attract a huge portion of Microsoft Windows's market share.
Why wouldn't enterprise businesses love the Google solution? The amount of money they would be able to save from the reduced desktop licensing requirements would be large enough to transform a CFO's eyes into saucers, Roger Rabbit-style. Similarly, entities that rely on a variety of customized programs and applications to conduct business could weave these elements into the open-source architecture of Chrome OS.
So let's roll out the red carpet and prep the TV hosts for the big unveiling of Chrome OS in big busin... or not. There's one reason, and one reason only, why an open-source desktop isn't going to succeed in the consumer or enterprise markets: Microsoft was there first.
A thousand pardons! I got so caught up in various bits and pieces of the weekend that I completely forgot to grace Maximum PC with a Web App of the Week for last week! It's a real shame too, as I was totally proud of (and wasted a lot of time playing with) last week's big selection.
I won't put off the details any more than necessary with my usual rambling introductions. The app's called Codeorgan and, like the name implies, it's an excellent fusion of raw geek Web construction with music--truly, my two passions.
So what is Codeorgan? You'll find out pretty quickly as soon as you hit up the main Web site. In short, the Web app uses a fairly complicated algorithm to scan the behind-the-scenes HTML content of any given Web page. It then takes this information and automatically crafts up a little synthpop-style piece of music that's somehow related to the coded mumbo-jumbo. Your results will vary (extremely). However, the beauty of the app isn't necessarily for the music it creates. Rather, it's just a great example of how data in one construct--Web creation--can be parsed out to a completely different form and function--music--with a touch of engineering prowess.
That, and Codeorgan will waste two to three hours of your day as you frantically leap about the Web trying to find the coolest automatic construction of a song that you can lay your hands on. I had great results with CNN one day, yet found the song lacking as the news updated throughout the next few hours. If you find a relatively static site that delivers a rocking beat, do be sure to leave it in the comments!