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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Mar 13

Joseph Weizenbaum, who invented the famous “virtual psychiatrist” computer program Eliza, died from cancer on March 5 in Groben, Germany at age 85. 

> How does that make you feel?

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Mar 05

Several patent reform organizations have joined forces to abolish software patents.  The End Software Patents (ESP) coalition aims to eliminate patents that do not specify a physically innovative step, which would likely include many of the software patents granted today.  The coalition was founded by the Free Software Foundation, Public Patent Foundation, and Software Freedom Law Center

The ESP coalition will fight software patents on two fronts:

  1. Assist companies that challenge software patents in the courts and at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO)
  2. Educate the public about the severe problems with software patents, with the ultimate goal of eliminating many software patents

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Feb 29

Senryu (literally ‘river willow’) is a Japanese form of short poetry similar to haiku, with three lines of 5-7-5 syllables.  Senryu tends to be about human foibles, while haiku tends to be about nature; senryu is often cynical or darkly humorous, while haiku is serious.

Assembled from the Internet is a collection of senryu about software and computers:

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Feb 12

“To err is human, but to really foul things up you need a computer.”  –Paul Ehrlich

Software errors cost the U.S. economy $60 billion annually in rework, lost productivity and actual damages.  We all know software bugs can be annoying, but faulty software can also be expensive, embarrassing, destructive and deadly.  Following are 20 famous software “disasters” in chronological order:

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Feb 12

This is Part 2 of “20 Famous Software Disasters.”
See also Part 1, Part 3 and Part 4.

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Feb 12

This is Part 3 of “20 Famous Software Disasters.”
See also Part 1, Part 2 and Part 4.

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Feb 12

This is the final Part 4 of “20 Famous Software Disasters.”
See also Part 1, Part 2 and Part 3.

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Jan 31

A debate is raging on the ‘net these days as to whether all software, music and digital content should be free.

Wouldn’t it be great if all software was free?  And if cars, homes, sex and big-screen TVs were free too.  And I wish I could stop paying my taxes, fly like a bird, see through solid objects with X-ray vision, and poop out golden eggs by the dozen.

But unfortunately there’s a big difference between fantasy and reality, and in the real world:

If something has value,
we have to pay for it.

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Jan 29

Men Behaving Badly” was a cheeky British comedy from the 90’s that was voted “Best Sitcom in BBC History” for the BBC’s 60th anniversary in 1996.  The series featured two men in their thirties taking a keen interest in “booze, birds and football” (that’s alcohol, women and soccer to our American readers).  The otherwise lovable pair often behaved badly, causing those around them to suffer with comedic results.  Today we discuss a few examples of otherwise good software that occasionally behaves badly, causing its users to suffer with frustrating results.

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