May 29

Most programmers know that throwing exceptions takes a relatively long time to execute versus normal processing.  Some say throwing exceptions is as much as two orders of magnitude slower than passing arguments (that’s 100 times slower for non-geeks).  However, another article claims there’s almost no impact to throwing exceptions, unless you are running your software in a debugger.

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May 28

Return to Sender A Michigan couple decided to go to Florida to thaw out during a particularly icy winter.  They planned to stay at the same hotel where they spent their honeymoon 20 years earlier.

Because of their hectic jobs, it was difficult to coordinate their travel schedules.  So the husband left Michigan and flew to Florida on Thursday, with his wife flying down to join him the following day.

The husband checked into the hotel.  There was a computer in his room, so he decided to send an email to his wife.  However, he accidentally left out one letter in her email address, and without realizing his error, sent the email.

Meanwhile, somewhere in Houston, a widow had just returned home from her husband’s funeral.  He was a minister who was called home to glory following a heart attack.  The widow decided to check her email for messages from relatives and friends.

After reading the first message, the widow screamed and fainted.  Her son rushed into the room, found his mother on the floor, then read the computer screen:

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May 21

Want to snoop on your friends’ porn viewing habits?  Then follow these simple steps:

Step 1.  Copy and paste some code into a widget on your website or blog.

Step 2.  Send you friends to the webpage where you put the widget.  Their porn history will be captured in the widget.

Step 3.  See what porn sites your friends have been visiting by looking at the widget you put on your website.

How does this work?  The widget takes advantage of a security leak in the web style sheets (CSS).  Your web browser displays links you have visited in a different color.  The code mentioned above displays a list of porn sites and detects which sites have been visited based on the link color.  The best/worst part of this trick is that will likely never be fixed because it is a fundamental feature of the Web browser.

We installed this on one of our blogs, and it failed to catch any of the porn sites that we’ve visited.  I guess isn’t considered porn.

I Caught You Watching Porn

May 20

Documentation for the next generation of the Visual Studio, the .NET Framework, and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF) is now publicly available at MSDN.

Visual Studio 2010 Docs
.NET Framework 4 Docs
WPF Docs

May 20

Visual Studio 2010 Beta 1 is now available for MSDN Subscribers.  Visual Studio 2010 is a complete suite of tools for building both desktop and team-based enterprise Web applications.  In addition to building high-performing desktop applications, you can use Visual Studio’s powerful component-based development tools and other technologies to simplify team-based design, development, and deployment of enterprise solutions. 

Visual Studio 2010 Product Highlights
MSDN Subscribers Download

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May 18

Since terrorists have no problem violating the human rights of innocent citizens, it’s difficult to imagine a terrorist being dissuaded by Google’s App Engine Terms of Service:

2. Your Account and Use of the Service

2.1. You must provide accurate and complete registration information any time you register to use the Service. You are responsible for the security of your passwords and for any use of your account. If you become aware of any unauthorized use of your password or of your account, you agree to notify Google immediately.

2.2. Your use of the Service must comply with all applicable laws, regulations and ordinances, including any laws regarding the export of data or software. You agree not to use the Service in the design, development, production, or use of missiles or the design, development, production, stockpiling, or use of chemical or biological weapons.

May 14

Dealing another significant blow to the Microsoft Silverlight web development platform, the New York Times is abandoning Silverlight and Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF).  Rob Larson from the New York Times writes:

Next week we’ll be introducing Times Reader 2.0. This version is powered by Adobe AIR and will run equally well on Windows, Mac and Linux computers.  With this latest release, Times Reader resembles the printed paper even more closely, and it updates every five minutes with the latest news from the Web.

The timing is awkward to say the least, with Microsoft actively promoting its New York Times Silverlight Kit.  This toolkit enables developers to use the Times’ APIs with little or no coding, instead using mostly XAML.

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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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May 05

Microsoft has just released the Windows Software Development Kit (SDK) for Windows 7 and .NET Framework 3.5 Service Pack 1 (SP1): Release Candidate (RC).

The Microsoft Windows SDK is a set of tools, code samples, documentation, compilers, headers, and libraries that developers can use to create applications that run on Microsoft Windows operating systems.  The Windows SDK combines two formerly separate SDKs: the Platform SDK (PSDK) and the .NET Framework SDK.

The following is a small sampling of what’s new or updated in this SDK:

  • Documentation – Approximately 80% of the SDK documentation set has been refreshed
  • Headers/Libraries – numerous new and updated – please see What’s New in the Windows API under the top-level Getting Started section in the documentation
  • Samples – Over 200 new and/or updated samples
  • Tools – Several new tools added
  • Visual Studio 2008 SP1 C++ command line compiler toolset and matching CRT

Windows SDK
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May 05

Shamus Young is a software engineer who has created a nighttime cityscape that is “mostly made of lights and suggestions rather than real detail.”  The city is entirely procedurally-generated, meaning the the program will contain no art assets such as bitmaps, textures or models — everything must be built from scratch at startup.  The result is an amazingly realistic live model: