Mar 12

Even billionaires are getting slammed by the global economic crisis.  Forbes Magazine found only 793 billionaires for its annual list of the world’s richest people.  This represents a drop of 30 percent from last year and the first decline since 2003.

The total net worth of people on the magazine’s “Richest List” fell 46 percent to $2.4 trillion.  The average billionaire is now worth only $3 billion, 23 percent less than last year.

Despite losing $18 billion in wealth, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates regained the title of world’s richest man with a net worth of $40 billion.  Warren Buffett is #2 with $37 billion.

Mar 11

For decades we’ve been told by security software vendors that to truly delete data from a hard drive, you have to overwrite the data multiple times with different patterns of 0s and 1s.  But now we can file this away with other computer urban legends.

Computer forensics expert Craig Wright and his colleagues ran a scientific study that overwrites hard drive data and then examines the magnetic surfaces with a microscope.  They published their results in Lecture Notes in Computer Science as Overwriting Hard Drive Data: The Great Wiping Controversy.

The study concludes that after a single overwrite of hard drive data, the likelihood of being able to reconstruct a single byte is 0.97 percent.  The odds of recovering multiple sequential bytes of data (such as a password or document) are significantly less and would require exact knowledge of where on the hard drive the sensitive data is located.

This means data-wiping software that overwrites data up to 35 times may make you feel better, but it only wastes your time and money.

A much bigger data security hole is to overwrite all copies of the data that’s to be deleted.  This is not a problem if you are wiping an entire hard drive, but if you are trying to delete a single sensitive document, you have to worry about temp files, shadow copies, backups, file fragments, the Windows swap file, etc.

Mar 09

100 million lines of code in your car,
100 million lines of code,
If one of the lines develops a bug…

An article by IEEE indicates that a premium-class automobile “contains close to 100 million lines of software code.”  The software executes on 70-100 microprocessor-based electronic control units (ECUs) networked throughout the body of your car.  Even low-end cars have 30-50 ECUs embedded in the body, doors, dash, roof, trunk, seats, etc.  Software controls just about everything from your brakes to the volume of your radio.

Continue reading »

Mar 05

Microsoft patents the human body Microsoft received its 10,000th U.S. patent earlier this month.  This makes Microsoft one of the leading patent filers, though IBM still files the most patents and in 2008 became the first company to issue 4,000 patents in a single year.

“Logging the 10,000th patent really is a testament to all of the innovation that has been taking place,” said Microsoft chief patent counsel Bart Eppenauer.  Although Microsoft maintains its patents are mostly for defense, its huge patent portfolio hasn’t kept it out of the courtroom.  The number of patent lawsuits filed against Microsoft has actually increased significantly in the past few years.

“That increase has come almost entirely from entities that do not produce products,” Eppenauer said.  Most of the patent suits come from “patent trolls” whose primary business function is acquiring patents and suing for royalties.  In those cases, having a large patent collection is of little use since the patent troll has no products of its own for which it can be countersued.  But Microsoft’s patent portfolio has other uses such as licensing its technology to companies such as Novell or bullying Linux.

Microsoft’ has become so prolific filing patents that it dedicated a staff of 100 people including 40 attorneys that focus solely on the 2500-3000 U.S. patent applications the company files each year.

This news bodes poorly for independent software vendors, for whom it is nearly impossible to create original software without violating literally thousands of patents.

Story at CNET

Mar 03

The Managed Extensibility Framework (MEF) simplifies the creation of extensible applications.  MEF offers discovery and composition capabilities that you can leverage to load application extensions.

MEF presents a simple solution for the runtime extensibility problem.  Until now, any application that wanted to support a plugin model needed to create its own infrastructure from scratch.  Those plugins would often be application-specific and could not be reused across multiple implementations.

Continue reading »

Mar 03

Want insight into the design and development of C#?  Then check out these blogs by key members of the Microsoft C# development team:

Continue reading »

Mar 03

I was having trouble with my computer.  So I called Richard, the 11-year-old next door whose bedroom looks like Mission Control, and asked him to come over.

Richard clicked a couple of buttons and solved the problem.

As he was walking away, I called after him, “So, what was wrong?”

He replied, “It was an ID ten T error.”

I didn’t want to appear stupid, but nonetheless inquired, “An, ID ten T error?  What’s that?  In case I need to fix it again.”

Richard grinned. “Haven’t you ever heard of an ID ten T error before?”

“No,” I replied.

“Write it down,” he said, “and I think you’ll figure it out.”

So I wrote it down: I D 1 0 T

I used to like the little bugger.

Click to buy this ID10T shirt!

Buy this ID10T T-shirt!