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Skynet is Coming!!

Software That Fixes Itself

Martin Rinard, a professor of computer science at MIT, is unabashed about the ultimate goal of his group’s research: “delivering an immortal, invulnerable program.” In work presented this month at the ACM Symposium on Operating Systems Principles in Big Sky, MT, a group of MIT researchers, led by Rinard and Michael Ernst, who is now an associate professor at the University of Washington, developed software that can find and fix certain types of software bugs within a matter of minutes.

via Technology Review: Software That Fixes Itself.

Speaking of the news and getting paid for it

Jason Falls is one of the very few Social Media guys who actually has more sense than hype notes how the Wall Street Journal gets paid.
What The Wall Street Journal Has, Few Will Match | Social Media Explorer.

Where’s the Beef at the Washington Post?

One of the latest stories and a ‘scoop’ from the Washington Post Online is this story on an alleged confidential House ethics committee report found on a P2P file sharing network.
Dozens in Congress under ethics inquiry screams the headline. The article goes on to ‘report’ on the title and contents of the ‘report’ but fails in producing the document.

This is a classic “Where’s the Beef” problem. A 22 page document is not that heavy in size for hosting, downloading or viewing. Unless of course it is a word doc chock full of metadata goodness.

According to the article this is a report from July. Certainly not breaking news by any stretch of the imagination even for a moron in a hurry. The story is all bun and no meat at this point. A Google search brings up a lot articles discussing it, but all point to a single source, the Washington Post.

Journalism reporters, teachers and editors all say that single sourcing a story is bad. Think Jayson Blair of the New York Times.

This is not journalism, this is marketing. Think page views. This is the type of story that would fly in the dead tree world to get you to buy the next edition, but online is a different animal. There are hyperlinks to the Representatives mentioned in the story, but no document. Aside from the single source problem, the story does not even validate the document’s authenticity.

Where’s the Beef? It is not like allegations haven’t been used to create news.
The 4th paragraph of the article provides a get out of jail free card:

Shortly after 6 p.m. Thursday, the committee chairman, Zoe Lofgren (D-Calif.), interrupted a series of House votes to alert lawmakers about the breach. She cautioned that some of the panel’s activities are preliminary and not a conclusive sign of inappropriate behavior.

“No inference should be made as to any member,” she said.

The last paragraph does not validate the document either.

Leo Wise, chief counsel for the Office of Congressional Ethics, declined to comment, citing office policy against confirming or denying the existence of investigations. A Justice Department spokeswoman also declined to comment, citing a similar policy.

That quote is stenography and not journalism either.
Where’s the Beef?

Judge rules metadata is public record – Ars Technica

Arizona’s Supreme Court has ruled that metadata,(the hidden information that is contained most famously in Microsoft Word created documents) is part of the document and subject to disclosure under public record searches.
Metadata contained in Word documents, tracks and records versions, creation dates, changes, and authorship information. This is one reason that Word docs are so large in relationship to what actually is presented on the screen.

Doom on the poor bastards who do not pay attention to this. For folks with secret agendas,  Word is probably not the tool they should be using.

The article points out some of the more famous and recent ‘gotchas’ with using Word for creating papers and letters.

Link: Lobbyists beware: judge rules metadata is public record – Ars Technica.

A Google search on Word Metadata brings up a whole cottage industry on scrubbing it and viewing it. The former being more important than the latter.
Interesting Times, indeed.

Firefox Bitchslaps Microsoft

The other day I noted that Microsoft had done an ‘invisible’ alteration to Firefox, the open source alternative, and to most folks a much more secure browser. This alteration ‘increased the attack surface’ as Microsoft coined that phrase in regards to Google’s Chrome Browser. It’s confusing I know, but stick around. The attack surface can be looked at like a balloon. When it is flaccid, a pin will just push it around. The more you fill it, increases its surface area making the pin much more dangerous with catastrophic results. Microsoft’s .NET increased the attack surface of Firefox to an alarming degree by injecting itself into the browser like a virus.

Firefox fired Back.
This is the notification you will probably see.
firefoxblock
This is a good thing. Restart your browser.

Checking Tools>Add-ons>Extensions you will see this:
firefoxblock2
This lets you know that it has been disabled. This too is a good thing.

The More Information link takes you to the Bugzilla page where it is discussed. Following this discussion is illuminating for the level of civility and attention to detail. Another reason to use Firefox, knowing that a lot of thought is going into it.

You have to wonder what is so scary to Microsoft that they devote so much time and energy to examining the Firefox code which is Open Source, and then building and deploying code in a manner that is identical to malware infections. Especially since this code ‘phones home’ in the background, as one if its ‘Features’.

Adds ClickOnce support and the ability to report installed.NET versions to the web server.

The Browser Wars are getting much more esoteric, just when you thought it was starting to be safe to surf the web.

Microsoft Screws Firefox Users

The latest “enhancement” from Redmond is the invisible installation of the ‘.NET Framework Assistant’ plug in into Firefox. This increases the probability of your computer being compromised by malware delivered by malicious websites. This also breaks the tradition of plug ins for Firefox being something that You control, unlike malware, viruses, keystroke loggers, and other attack software on the web, which use .Net, ActiveX, Visual Basic, COM and COM+ holes to make your life miserable.

This plug in is removable.But not in the standard method that Firefox has. It is much more complex. Directions are here. Note: Read the directions carefully and follow to the letter.

Being a Windows user, you are not required to install the .Net Framework,(which is just another Microsoft crapola product like ActiveX, and COM objects that have been insecure for years, and only provide marginal functionality for using a browser to surf the net.) regardless of the warnings by websites telling you need them. Need like a second asshole. All of these things provide interfaces and shortcuts to coding applications, which begs the question of how lazy programmers and coders really are, or just how far from HTML which stands for HyperText Markup Language, with emphasis on HyperText folks think we need.

A lot of the geewhiz crap on the web has nothing to do with text but is either data tracking or ego stroking exercise. In either case, it is not necessary.