Wednesday, May 26, 2004 Will code-check tools make for worm-proof software?

Wow. $60M for Intrinsa. Nice dough for a software development tool.

Dave Aitel, principal security researcher and founder of security software maker Immunity says he does not believe the current crop of products is up to the task. The reason: Many pieces of code are falsely labeled as flaws by the tools. Such false positives can sidetrack the developers for a long time, reducing productivity, he said.

"If it finds 500 bugs, you have to go through those 500 bugs and fix them--any false positive rate destroys the economics," Aitel said. "Maybe in three generations it will be economically feasible for large code bases."

Sounds bogus to me. I doubt that this guy has seen results from a decent source code checker. Damage estimates from the MSBlast and Sasser worms, while inflated, make his "destroy the economics" statement laughable.

Lint is not a decent source code checker nowadays. PC-lint was okay when I looked at it several years ago, it has a relatively high hurdle to get good results. The perl script is good for finding obvious errors. Microsoft's PREfix is in a different, better league.

If we could get developers to stop using plain null-terminated strings, we'd get rid of the easy exploits.

Tuesday, May 25, 2004
  The Seattle Times: Microsoft: Microsoft cuts some perks with an eye on bottom line

The cuts are expected to save the company at least $80 million a year, and come as part of an across-the-board effort to reduce costs. Microsoft has promised investors it will limit new spending in the coming year.

In an e-mail sent to employees Tuesday, Ken DiPietro, vice president of human resources, said the changes were the result of a regular review to ensure that benefit programs 'balance the interests of our employees and the expectations of shareholders.'

Previously, employees could buy shares at a 15 percent discount off the market price. Their purchase price was based on the share price at either the beginning or the end of a designated time frame — a feature known as "look back."

Starting July 1, employees will get a 10 percent discount and it will be based only on the closing share price on the last day of each quarter.

Chambers said that most tech companies with stock-purchase plans offer workers a 15 percent discount compared with Microsoft's 10 percent. But Microsoft lets employees contribute up to 15 percent of their pay to the plan, while other companies generally cap that at 10 percent.

The company also told employees it will not pay full price for brand-name prescription drugs if generic versions are also available. Over the past two years, Microsoft's prescription-drug expenses have increased and now eat up 16 percent of the company's overall benefit budget, DiPietro's memo said.

Also next year, employees must take their four weeks of paid parental leave within six months of having or adopting a child. Previously, employees were able to take their leave within a year.

Finally, new employees hired after Jan. 1, 2005, will accrue two weeks of vacation a year for the first two years instead of three weeks a year. After the two years, they'll get three weeks a year.

Thursday, May 20, 2004
  Building VC6-compatible code with VC++ Toolkit 2003

I tried to compile some code that works in VC6 with the VC++ 2003 Toolkit. I've got VS.Net 2003 but I keep on hearing how bloody slow the IDE is, even though a) this is MS's second go at the .Net IDE, and b) people complaining about the IDE speed have decent machine configs.

Unfortunately there were errors when compiling. Some of the errors were due to errors in the ATL template code where the specialized template code didn't use actual args. Some errors were due to new features in VC7 that aren't supported by the supplied toolkit libraries (/GZ and /RTCx switches need some functions that only exist in the single-threaded LIBC[D].LIB).

Here are some useful links:

  VHJ: Bits & Bytes: The P4 is Dead

A decent read on why the P4 sucked no matter how much Intel tried to pretty-up that pig of a CPU.

Wednesday, May 19, 2004
  Flaws drill holes in open-source databases | CNET

The writer, Robert Lemos, thinks that CVS and Subversion are database apps. Boggles the miind. He just doesn't get it.

Friday, May 14, 2004
  Bad Signs For Bush In History, Numbers (

I guess history won't be able to help us predict the next President of the USA.

Frank Newport of the Gallup Organization pointed out that, in Gallup's surveys, no president since World War II has won reelection after falling below 50 percent approval at this point in an election year. 'Looking at it in context, Bush is following the trajectory of the three incumbents who ended up losing rather than the trajectory of the five incumbents who won,' he said.

But Newport was quick to add that history may be an uncertain guide, given the volatility of events in Iraq. 'There is the potential for this to be a disruptive year that doesn't follow historical patterns,' he said.

This president's problems are linked directly to deteriorating perceptions of how he is dealing with Iraq and the economy. A solid majority of Americans now disapprove of his handling of both. As a result, his overall approval rating has declined. But Bush's advisers said his standing in October, not May, is what counts.

Matthew Dowd, senior adviser for the Bush-Cheney campaign, said Bush occupies a unique position compared with former presidents. In past campaigns, Bush's predecessors have either been above 53 percent in approval by the time of the election and been reelected, or have been below 46 percent and been defeated.

'We're in that place where no presidential reelection campaign has ever been,' he said. 'People say this is a referendum on the president. It's both a referendum on the president but also a referendum on the alternative.'

Thursday, May 13, 2004
  Yahoo boosts free e-mail storage to 100MB | CNET

Let's see if Hotmail decides to join the game. Then both Yahoo and Hotmail would have to code up an ActiveX control to keep up with GMail's user interface run by an ActiveX control.

  Duke News & Communications: News Tip: Blackout Baby Boom a Myth, Duke Professor Says

The prof is taking the fun out of all the tongue-n-cheek news reports.

Tuesday, May 11, 2004 Living Down to a Low Standard
Nicholas Petreley blames, (facetiously, perhaps?), SCO and MS moles for screwing up the Nautilus file mananger in the latest GNOME, 2.6. How lame. There have been many recent diatribes about how most open source developers do not 'get' UI. This is just another example. Beggars can't be choosers. Live with the crap. Any forecasts of a desktop Linux in the next few years will mean a lot of pain for users because much of the open source GUI software just hasn't been thought through.
Friday, May 07, 2004
  New York Post Online Edition: business

"At the 99-cent price, only about 10 cents from each song sale goes to Apple's bottom line, with about 70 cents going to the record labels and the other 20 cents paying for credit-card fees and distribution costs, sources say."

Wednesday, May 05, 2004
  MSNBC - Spartan diet may slow aging

The 5-foot-4 Skelton dropped about 20 pounds after she started the diet, and now weighs a slight 115.

"I have the figure and the body of a woman at least 25 years younger, and feel that way," said Skelton, who says she's in a "mixed marriage" because her husband is not a practitioner.

Scientists think caloric restriction may work by reducing the body's production of harmful molecules known as free radicals. Another theory is that it creates a chronic state of mild stress that actually protects the body, just as stretching the mind may ward off Alzheimer's disease and taxing muscles with exercise makes them stronger.

That's what motivates Khurram Hashmi, 36, of Los Angeles, who has been practicing severe caloric restriction for about four years. Hashmi slashed his daily caloric intake from about 3,500 calories a day to about 1,800. The six-foot computer programmer dropped from about 170 pounds to about 116.

  The New York Times: Record Labels Must Pay Shortchanged Performers

Boy, record companies are either lazy and/or neglectful and/or evil.

Mr. Donnelly encouraged Mr. Spitzer to use New York State's abandoned-property law. "The law says that after five years of holding somebody's property that has been theoretically abandoned, you have to turn the money over to the state," Mr. Donnelly said.

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