May 06

Influenza virus Influenza, commonly referred to as the flu, is an infectious disease caused by a virus that affects birds and mammals.  The most common symptoms of the flu are chills, fever, sore throat, muscle pains, severe headache, coughing, weakness and general discomfort.  In more serious cases, the flu can lead to pneumonia, which can be fatal, particularly for the young and the elderly.

There’s a lot of hype and concern now about the new H1N1 swine flu and the possibility for a global pandemic.  It appears the swine flu is currently no worse than the regular flu, but health officials worry that the swine flu will reemerge with the autumn flu season even stronger than today.

If there’s a problem in the world, we can always count on one or more innovative computer scientists trying to solve the problem with software.  Here’s a collection of software for analyzing and treating the flu:

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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.

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Aug 11

I Am Rich

Apple pulled the plug on a controversial application sold in its new iTunes App Store.  Last Thursday, Apple removed the $999.99 “I Am Rich” application created by developer Armin Heinrich.  Apparently eight idiots with nothing better to do with their money had purchased the “glorified screensaver” before it was removed from sale.

The “I am Rich” application displays a glowing red gem on the iPhone screen for the sole purpose of proving that the iPhone’s owner is either rich or stupid or probably both.  That’s literally all it does.  Here is the product’s official description:  “The red icon on your iPhone or iPod Touch always reminds you (and others when you show it to them) that you were able to afford this.  It’s a work of art with no hidden function at all.”

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Aug 07

Beerware is software that is released under a very liberal license.  The Beerware license provides the end user with the right to use a software program and its source code for any purpose.  Should the user ever meet the program’s author, the user is encouraged to buy the author a beer.

The term was invented by John Bristor in 1987.  Many variations have been implemented, including the short and sweet Beerware license by Poul-Henning Kamp:

/*
 * ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
 * "THE BEER-WARE LICENSE" (Revision 42):
 * <phk@FreeBSD.ORG> wrote this file. As long as you retain this notice you
 * can do whatever you want with this stuff. If we meet some day, and you think
 * this stuff is worth it, you can buy me a beer in return Poul-Henning Kamp
 * ----------------------------------------------------------------------------
 */

Source: Wikipedia

Jun 06

You’ve spent thousands of hours developing a new software program. Now how do you ensure that your competitors don’t copy your program and steal your market? The sad truth is you can’t, as Apple discovered when Microsoft “borrowed” its graphical user interface to build Windows and corner the PC operating system market. But there are steps you can take to give you an edge over your competition and make it more difficult for others to copy or steal your work. You can protect your software with patents, copyrights and trademarks. Continue reading »

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May 16

Although PC software piracy declined in many countries in 2007, piracy increased in fast-growing PC markets, resulting in an overall rise of piracy from 35% to 38%, and dollar losses that increased by $8 billion to nearly $48 billion.  The annual study was conducted by IDC and released by the Business Software Alliance (BSA).

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Apr 24

To be a “most important” innovation, an innovation has to be an idea that is very widely used and is critically important where it applies. – David A. Wheeler

It’s not easy choosing the best innovators in an industry defined by innovation. The nature of software is such that the technologies, systems and products completely refresh every decade or so. The triumphant invention of just 10 years ago is now considered “legacy” or even obsolete. So making a lasting impression in the software business is a tough task indeed.

Following is my list of the top 10 software innovators of all time. Inclusion on this list doesn’t mean the person came up with every idea or wrote every byte of code. Rather, these are the people whose leadership, ideas, designs and products propelled the software industry forward by leaps and bounds. Their innovations affect us greatly even today.

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Apr 17

A patent is a set of exclusive rights granted by a government to an inventor for a fixed period of time in exchange for disclosure of an invention.  The patent enables the inventor to exclude others from making, using, selling or importing the invention. (wiki)

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Apr 12

In response to my original article, “101 Great Computer Programming Quotes,” José M. Aguilar doubled the fun with “101 More Great Computer Quotes,” which was translated, edited and republished here by Timm Martin (and Google Translator) with permission from Mr. Aguilar.

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Apr 09

“Hello, Mr. Consumer, we offer amazing new widget software that will save you time and money! It can do X, Y, and Z. You can download and install it from our website. Oh, and by the way, you need .NET 3.5. What’s that? It’s a 200MB separate download from Microsoft that takes an hour to install and… Hello? Hello? Mr. Consumer?”

Welcome to my world as a commercial software developer who uses Microsoft .NET. Continue reading »

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