Overheard: Word of the Day

A Whatis.com blog


August 11, 2008  12:21 PM

Overheard: The great wall of…sheep



Posted by: Margaret Rouse
Black hat, Brian Prince, Security, Technology, wall of sheep
defcon_logo.jpg A group of reporters from Global Security Mag were kicked out of the Black Hat conference in Las Vegas after stealing password information from another reporter who will remain nameless—we’ll call him “me.”

Brian Prince, How eWEEK Got Hacked at Black Hat

Alas, I broke one of the cardinal rules of security and, but for the grace of the Black Hat conference staff, would have had my name added to the infamous Wall of Sheep.

Hackers have the most colorful language. The Wall of Sheep is run by volunteers at the DEFCON security conference. It’s a projection on a wall that lists users at the conference who put their data at risk by running unencrypted information on the conference’s open network. Originally the offender’s names were posted on white paper plates — the wall filled with crinkle-edged paper plates looked like a kindergarten bulletin board of little fluffy sheep and the name stuck.

wall_of_sheep.jpg

August 8, 2008  1:17 PM

Overheard: Software testing explained



Posted by: Margaret Rouse
Black box, Leon Meijer, QA, software testing
black_box.jpg A software system can be tested in two ways. It depends on your point of view. It can be with or without technical knowledge of the system.

Léon Meijer, Test-driven development, Unit Test, VSTS, NUnit, TestDriven.NET, whats all this?

Black-box tests can be functional or non-functional, though usually functional. The tester selects valid and invalid input for the test and determines if the output is correct. The tester doesn’t need to have knowledge of the internal structure of the system. Typical black-box test design techniques include:

  • Equivalence partitioning; To reduce the number of test cases and select test cases that cover all possible scenarios
  • Boundary value analysis Validates input and checks if the input is in the valid range, i.e. if (month > 0 && month < 13)
  • Decision table testing Are about if- and switch-statements. Decision tables model conditional logic.
  • Pairwise testing Test each pair of input parameters to a method. Simple bugs are triggered by a single parameter, next simplest category of bugs consists of those dependent on interactions between pairs of parameters.
  • State transition tables Shows in what state a system moves to, based on the current state and input parameters.
  • Use case testing Users work through use cases with the aid to verify that a UI fulfills the needs of its users, as described in the use case model. The tester identifies which use case(s) to test, the actors (users), input, output and system effects and the flows of interest between the use cases.
  • Cross-functional testing The work of one person is reviewed by the team as a whole.


August 7, 2008  6:32 PM

Tag: You’re IT — Meet Alan Kay



Posted by: Margaret Rouse
Alan Kay, Tag: You're IT!
alan_kay_kyoto.jpg Today, we tagged Dr. Alan Kay

1. Dr. Kay, when did you first discover your love for technology?
I can’t remember when I wasn’t fascinated by “the hip bone is connected to the thigh bone”, i.e. all kinds of causality in all kinds of systems. The non-specific children’s building toys of the 40s (like TinkerToy and Erector and Meccano) plus growing up on a “farm with books” put me in contact with a lot of real examples of causal systems and lots of ways (adults, reading, building, taking apart, etc.) to get more savvy about them.

2. How do you earn a living?
For a few years, I earned a living and college expenses playing jazz guitar, then gradually the majority income came from computer programming. In 1966 I went to grad school and started to earn my living by being sponsored to do research. This was easier in the late sixties and through the seventies when research funders understood the game, and has been more difficult since with funders who by in large do not understand how to fund research (and do not really understand how “research” differs from other technological pastimes).

3. What do you love most about your work?
It’s similar to other forms of art in which I’ve participated. The “stuff” (materials) and flow of ideas one encounters in a civilization create “itches that must be scratched” and “smells that must be followed”. The compulsive nature of this is one of its main properties, and it has nothing at all to do with any kind of compensation or reward, but the need to “scratch” and “sniff”. There is a tension that new ideas relieve.

However, nothing about the process guarantees that success will produce anything cosmically good or useful (think of a huge flea market as evidence for compulsions that produced enormous numbers of items of little artistic or pragmatic value). A tricky part of dealing with the compulsions is to also somehow set thresholds for “goodness” that are more than subjective. This results in a super-tension. The complex part of dealing with this is how to be super-critical about one’s ideas without sliding into immobilizing depression.

The “love” is quite like and is as intense as one’s feelings for one’s beloved, which in part is to want to merge with one’s love. I have a friend who is a glassblower and who once said that he would take a bite out of a glob of molten glass if he could. That is, he wants to become one with the glass. I understand what he means quite deeply.

4. What keeps you up at night?
Human beings stubbornly staying unaware, becoming ever more dangerous, and doing ever more dangerous things to themselves and their surrounds.

5. What do you do when you’re not working?
“Working” for me is fund raising for our research, and to a lesser extent dealing with the human factors associated with the group nature of computing research. Everything else has been and is real play, both in computing, music and my other interests. The key is to spend more time playing than working….

6. Youʼve looked in your crystal ball and have seen the future of enterprise IT. What does it look like?
Enterprise IT has changed very slowly over the years (and in some senses has not changed at all except for size). For a large variety of reasons it has always been disinclined to learn important things about computing and has eschewed the idea of taking control of its own destiny despite the enormous backing and resources available.

Contrast this with Xerox PARC in which the major technologies of today were invented in a few years by about two dozen researchers total, including designing and building all the hardware and software. This was relatively easy, very inexpensive, and produced a revolution in how computing can be done. It also earned Xerox about a factor of 100 in profit over its costs for PARC (10,000% ROI, which my business friends say is good).

Nonetheless I’m not aware of any company that is funding processes like those of PARC today. As Pogo said in a cartoon “We have met the enemy and they are us”. This is not likely to change anytime soon, since how businesses are trying to cope with situations that actually need new inventions, is making the situations worse, to which they respond with more coping instead of sponsoring much better ways to do things.

Bonus Question: If Stephen Spielberg was going to make a movie about your life, what would it be called?
Close Encounters of the Fourth Kind


August 7, 2008  1:01 PM

Overheard: The father of object-oriented programming



Posted by: Margaret Rouse
Alan Kay, object-oriented programming, OOP, Programming
alan_kay.jpg But just to show how stubbornly an idea can hang on, all through the seventies and eighties, there were many people who tried to get by with “Remote Procedure Call” instead of thinking about objects and messages.

Dr. Alan Kay (he coined the name OOP)

Doesn’t this quote remind you of Grace Hopper? She said: The most dangerous phrase in the language is, “We’ve always done it this way.”

If you want to learn more about the guy who “invented” object-oriented programming, Wikipedia has a good entry — but I absolutely love this video where he shares his ideas about how we learn. I HIGHLY recommend it. Apple should have a poster for Alan Kay. He thinks different(ly). My favorite quote of Dr. Kay’s is “The best way to predict the future is to invent it.”


August 6, 2008  7:45 PM

Tag: You’re IT — Meet Aseem Kishore



Posted by: Margaret Rouse
Aseem Kishore, Tag: You're IT!, Technology
walter_bender2.jpg We tagged Aseem Kishore this week!

1. Aseem, when did you first discover your love for technology?
When I was about 7 years old. It was the first time my father asked me what I wanted for my birthday and I told him to get me something that was “electronic”, whatever it was. For several years, I took apart anything that was no longer being used: VCR, camera, watches, etc. After that I knew I would always be interested in technology.

2. How do you earn a living?
I work as an IT Systems Analyst/Programmer in Dallas, TX. I mostly design and write software for a laboratory.

3. What keeps you up at night?
Usually thinking of ways to quit my job and start my own Internet Marketing or blog consulting company!

4. What do you do when you’re not working?
You can find me spending time with my wife, reading blogs, researching the newest gadgets like TVs or computers, and writing my own tech blog.

5. You’ve looked in your crystal ball and have seen the future of enterprise IT. What does it look like?
Virtual. Virtual servers. Virtual desktops. Also, cloud computing. Everything will eventually be in “the cloud”.

Bonus Question: If Stephen Spielberg was going to make a movie about your life, what would it be called?
The Digital Life


August 6, 2008  6:33 PM

Tag: You’re IT — Meet David Berkowitz!



Posted by: Margaret Rouse
David Berkowitz, Tag: You're IT!
We tagged David Berkowitz this week!

1. David, when did you first discover your love for technology?
One of my earliest memories of really embracing technology was when I wrote my first book report in first grade on Stuart Little. My family had our first PC (my brother already had an Apple IIe), and I learned how to use the thesaurus on Wordperfect. I never turned back. Typing had a great impact on me too, allowing me to get thoughts on paper much faster than I could write them, so even in the early 80s I seemed to be itching to be a blogger.

2. How do you earn a living?
It isn’t by blogging. I’m Director of Emerging Media and Client Strategy at 360i, the digital marketing agency, where I help big brands with their social media and mobile strategies.

3. What keeps you up at night?
I sleep pretty well, thanks. What really keeps me up though is information overload.

4. What do you do when you’re not working?
I’m relatively recently married (still within the first year) and my wife and I love to travel. During the summer it’s fun exploring various parts of New York City, where I live. I like to catch movies, I read a good amount, and thanks to the DVR I manage to watch a lot of TV (my latest ‘discovery’: Californication – can’t wait for the next season).

5. You’ve looked in your crystal ball and have seen the future of enterprise IT. What does it look like?
It’s a big, white, puffly cloud. Not the cumulo nimbus kind. This is a very happy cloud, the cottony kind.

Bonus Question: If Stephen Spielberg was going to make a movie about your life, what would it be called?
Bloggers of the Lost Ark? No… Saving Private Berkowitz… no, that’s not it either. Here it is – I’d actually title the film by the screen name I used on the dating site when I met my wife: “Google This.”


August 6, 2008  11:22 AM

Overheard: A good SOA architect is like an expensive wedding planner



Posted by: Margaret Rouse
Pam Baker, SOA
pam_baker.jpg Like a high-dollar wedding planner, an SOA architect can spare you mistakes and embarrassments while making the big event relatively painless, mostly by eliminating any unforeseen and unwanted surprises.

Pam Baker, Best Reuse Plays in SOA

I laughed out loud when I read this analogy, picturing the CEO as Bridezilla and the rest of the executive board as the wedding party. Coincidently, Jason Bloomberg, over at SearchSOA.com, was just explaining that there’s a shortage of good SOA consultants right now.


August 6, 2008  10:59 AM

Overheard: SOA – how do you measure success?



Posted by: Margaret Rouse
SOA
jerry_smith.jpg Combining both the Service-oriented Vitality Index and the SoROI provides a much clearer picture of a company’s SOA health.

The Service-oriented Vitality Index, or SoVI, is the ratio of revenue generated from a service (or services) over the last 12 months as compared with all other existing SOA revenue…

The SoROI is the cumulative before tax profits over “N” number of years from SOA-driven products divided by the cumulative product expenditures for that same period.

Jerry Smith, 10 Measures for Successful SOA Implementations

Jerry Smith does a nice job breaking down some of the issues involved in making a business case for SOA. How do you measure success? And how do you get everyone to agree on the metrics? Jerry suggests there are ten ways you can measure success. All of them make sense to me except for SoVI. I need to go read more about SoVI and SoROI. Are they legitimate metrics or are they just biz-tech voodoo?


August 5, 2008  11:56 AM

Overheard: Desktop Apps from the Web



Posted by: Margaret Rouse
Aseem Kishore, browser applications, desktop applications, mosaic prism, run-time environments, Technology
aseemkishore.jpg Just when everyone was expecting that all our software and services would move completely into the browser and off the desktop, a movement begins to bring services out of the browser and back onto the desktop.

Aseem Kishore, Web apps on your desktop

Pritesh Desai also does a really good job cutting through the clutter and explaining exactly what you’re getting with Mozilla Prism.

Prism lets you create an web app for any web page by downloading a small extension called Prism. Then to make a web app simply go to that web page and then select Tools>Make a web app. Prism is more or less like creating a shortcut pointing to a url on Internet.

My first thought was “Who would want to use Prism?” Then it occurred to me that Prism would be very useful for low-tech desktop management. It would be a fairly easy way for network admins in elementary education, for instance, to provide access to particular web sites without giving students access to the entire Internet.


August 4, 2008  12:01 PM

Overheard: Gzip your website



Posted by: Margaret Rouse
compression, download, Technology
gzip1.png Gzip is a method of compressing text that is sent from your server to the browser. In the same way that zipping a file reduces its download size, gzipping a webpage decreases the amount of data that has to be downloaded. A smaller download size means faster download speeds.

corbyboy, Optimise Your Pages for Faster Load Time


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