8-8-15 Hodgepodge

Saturday, August 08, 2015

Rating the Worst Software Bugs

Simply asking which bugs in history caused the most fatalities misses the point of the question:

Many people believe the worst bugs are those that cause fatalities. To be sure, there haven't been many, but cases like the Therac-25 are widely seen as warnings against the widespread deployment of software in safety critical applications. Experts who study such systems, though, warn that even though the software might kill a few people, focusing on these fatalities risks inhibiting the migration of technology into areas where smarter processing is sorely needed. In the end, they say, the lack of software might kill more people than the inevitable bugs.
There is no such thing as "safety at all costs."

Weekend Reading

"Poseurs and contrary people must recognize, and take responsibility for, the obnoxious behavior that's fueled by their insecurity." -- Michael Hurd, in "What Makes Argumentative People That Way" at The Delaware Wave

"Why does the fact that someone needs your money create a moral entitlement to it, while the fact that you've earned it, doesn't?" -- Peter Schwartz, in "Reconceiving the Idea of Selfishness" at The Huffington Post

"Issues related to age are not nearly as significant as a real connection and the ability to sustain it over time." -- Michael Hurd, in "Age Differences in Relationships: Good or Bad?" at The Delaware Coast Press

"You would think that our President and any candidates would want to avoid anything to do with the German experiment." -- Alex Epstein, in "The Obama-Clinton One-Two Blackout" at Forbes

My Two Cents

The Alex Epstein column is a must-read and it will, I hope, succeed in introducing a much-needed term to the energy debate: "unreliables."

Surfing With A TRS-80 Model 100

Back in grad school, I vaguely entertained the notion of getting one of these after encountering an enthusiast web site:
The machine has some nostalgic significance to me as well -- I filed one of my first assignments as a technology journalist with a Model 100, connecting to MCI Mail over dial-up in a phone booth using acoustic couplers. At the time, the machine was a reporter's dream: 20 hours or more of life on four AA batteries plus built-in text editing, address book, calendar, and communications applications burned into an onboard ROM chip. It was easy to overlook the fact that even the top-end Model 100 only had 24 kilobytes of RAM. Literally any modern device surpasses that figure.
If you like to tinker, there's more at Ars Technica. And yes, I agree with one of the captions: "Any day you have to go to the electronics supply store for work is a good day." I had a few of those days back in grad school.

-- CAV

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