Martin @ Blog

software development and life.


Archive for the ‘Opinion’ Category

Books I’ve read recently

Last months I started reading more books, because I like it 🙂
While I didn’t read that much books recently, I managed to finish some books, but mainly non-fiction.
The Pragmatic ProgrammerThe Pragmatic Programmer – Andrew Hunt. A very interesting book, which provides a very large number of pratical tips and tricks in order to become a better software developer, but also better in other tasks. Essentially, this book should be a ‘must read’ for every person working as a developer in the IT industry. It would probably result in less badly written software and improve the general quality of the IT industry. I can recommend this book to everyone.
The book gives tips and advice on how to become more productive while keeping the quality of your products on a constant level. For example, it provides a large number of hints on how to avoid repeating yourself (DRY – Don’t Repeat Yourself) like using code generation, reducing the efforts for creating documentation, etc. It also provides a large number of tips and references on tools which a decent programmer should use on a daily basis, like a decent texteditor (VIM, Emacs or something different), source code management (CVS, Subversion) and things like that.

Learning Perl Learning Perl – Randal L. Schwartz. I decided to read this book, because I didn’t have any knowledge about this scripting language, while it is used very much – especially in the Unix-world. I don’t think I will the program language use now for everything, but now I know a little bit about the language, I think I will use it when appropriate. The book is easy to read and doesn’t cover everything of the language, but provides basic knowledge sufficient for using Perl on a regular basis.

Helping people is a crime?

Today I read about this article on Slashdot. It is written by a teacher who helped a student reporting a vulnerability on a public (commercial?) website. Because shortly after their report the website was hacked and the police investigated the case, they were almost treated like criminals. I think this is ridiculous. It is almost the same that you will get arrested when you report a suspicious bag on a railway station or warn a house owner when you see that he left his front door open. Fortunately, here in the Netherlands there is no law which enables the police to arrest people for reporting a vulnerability as far as I know (and according to a teacher at our university). Hopefully the EU will not take the US law as an example for this kind of stuff, because the people over there who created this law are obviously not aware of the daily practice regarding the discovery of flaws in software. A typical example of the ignorance of some politician.
The teacher in the article concludes that you should destroy all the evidence that you are aware of an existing vulnerability and certainly not tell the developer/site owner about the bug. While it may be the best thing to do, it is really crazy that you should do this. How the hell do politician want the get a ‘safer and better world’ when it is not allowed to report defects? On the other side, it explains the growing number of spam, the increase in identity theft, the new problems with phising and so on… if they are not going to change this laws and rules, I think we are only seeing the beginning of these things.

Funny stuff

  • People who still are not convinced to use Firefox, this page gives some good reasons.
  • Microsoft introduces a Pay-as-you-go computer, which means that you can only use your (own?) computer when you have bought enough credits in advance…
  • According to a US Attorney, it is not allowed for journalist to publish about leaks.
  • The US State Department is affraid that Lenovo uses their computers to spy the US governement. Since Lenovo bought the computer department of IBM, there is a discussion in the US about this fear. They think that Lenovo, because it is partly owned by a deparment of the Chines government, will install espionage devices in their computers. Ironically, the Lenovo systems which are sold to the US government are manufactured in the VS, while most other US computer manufacturers such as Apple, Dell and HP manufacture their systems in Taiwan or China…

Apple introduces MacBook

Apple today finally introduced the successor to the iBook G4: The MacBook. Not very surprising, because there were rumours about this system for weeks, and the new MacBook is exactly as it was announced by the various Apple rumour sites: a 13″ widescreen display, build-in iSight camera, Intel Core Duo processor, MagSafe powerconnector and the unit is available in both black and white – which is new, because the iBook was only available in white. The cheapest MacBook costs 1099 euro (1099 dollar also) and ships with a 60GB harddisk, 1,83GHz Core Duo processor, build in wireless network and 512MB memory. The display resolution is 1280×800 pixels and has a glossy coating which makes pictures and movies clearer according to Apple, but makes the screen also more sensitive to reflections I suppose. The most expensive MacBook contains a 80GB harddisk and a 2,0GHz Core Duo processor. This system also contains a superdrive and build-in Bluetooth, things which are missing from the cheaper models. I think it is a very nice system for its price – nice design, exelent operation system (Mac OS X) and it is even thinner than the iBook (only 1,08″). The addition of a black version makes it also intersting for people who do not like the white systems, but I think the white version is nicer than the black one. When I had to buy a new laptop now, I would take this system seriously into consideration. However, I think I would wait a few months, because then Intel will introduce the successor to the current Core Duo, the Core 2 Duo. This new processor adds 64-bit support and will probably be faster while the energy consumption will be reduced. The Core 2 Duo is based on the ‘Merom’ core for the laptop version and the ‘Conroe’ core for the desktop variant – yes, Core 2 Duo is both a laptop as a desktop processor.

New MacBook (black)

Very fast electric car

I think electric cars are the solution to a lot of traffic problems we are currently suffering. This article gives us hope for the future. I think products which use sustainable energy are the products of the future and will generate a lot of profit. The car in that article is faster than any Ferarri and almost as fast as the fasted production car on petrol.

Sun gets new CEO

I did not updated this blog very often. I have the intention to change this, because there are some topics I want to write about.. Although nobody reads here, but well, that doesn’t really matter… I am playing nice and not disturbing anyone 🙂

Last week Sun’s co-founder and CEO Scott McNealy decided to drop its function as CEO. He will remain chairman of the board and keep working for Sun, but he will not be the CEO anymore. The new CEO of Sun is Jonathan Schwartz, who was already Chief Operating Officer (COO) at the company. Now the CEO has changed at Sun, people start speculating that the company will ‘open source’ Java. However, it seems that this is based on the press release in which the new function of Schwartz is announced.. and the statement about Java is relatively vague in my opinion, so one should not expect to much of it. However, it would be interesting when Sun decided to make Java free, mainly for the open source desktop and community. But I don’t think this will happen anytime soon. has been sold to VNU

The website I work for,, has been bought by VNU Business Media. The news became public last monday. The founder of the site, Femme Taken, and the current director, Daniel Kegel, decided to sold because they think VNU gives the opportunity to grow further and improve some parts of the site.
While this news is still relatively hot, today there was a new announcenemt. VNU will probably be sold to a group of private investors. I’m not sure if this is very good news for, but on the other hand, this announcement has been expected for a few weeks already. Among one of the private investor firms is the company Carlyle. People who have watched the documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 should know this name, because this is the company which is involved with the defence industry in the US and has some US politicians on the payroll. The most famous one is the former US president George Bush sr. While a lot of people now maybe think this company is entirely evil (which is may be), it should be mentioned that the number of investments in defence companies is only one 1% and the focus of Carlyle is telecom, media and real estate. Before VNU is aquired by this group of companies, the current shareholders have to accept the offer of the companies and sell at least 95% of the shares (I guess).

Big Brother Awards 2005

Yesterday the Dutch organisation Bits of Freedom, which is watching the preservation of the freedom of speech and privacy in the Netherlands, procured the Big Brother Awards. This is a prize for persons and organizations who doesn’t seem to care about the privacy of Dutch citizen. The winners for the Big Brother Awards this year are the minister Rita Verdonk, Sony BMG and the Flevo Ziekenhuis. Sony BMG got its award for the famous rootkit which is installed when one tries to play an audio-cd of the company on a personal computer. I wrote about the awards in Dutch on

Pointlessness of game journalism

An editor at Tom’s Hardware Guide wrote a column about the pointlessness of current game journalism. The writer argues that the major part of game journalist, both for online as offline media, are an extension to the PR-machines of the gaming companies. The previews and reviews they write are most of the time a constant flow of positive statements about the product and only some minor part of the article is critical, becaus the magazine or website is afraid of not receiving new products for review purposes.

I think the editor of Tom’s Hardware Guide has a point and I think this problem doesn’t only exists in the gaming journalism. In a small country like the Netherlands, were the pr-organisations of manufacturers of computer hardware are pretty small, most publications are very afraid of losing their ‘good relation’ with the pr-people. Many journalists (where one can argue if they deserve the therm ‘journalist’) are very afraid of publishing negative stuff about new products or services. Very recently I heard about an article about new products from a certain company which weren’t officially introduced yet. The editor who wrote the article did receive a press release, but at the end of the press release was stated that there was a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) which provided publication of the information before a certain date. The editor or the organisation he was working for didn’t sign this NDA, so it was an real ‘agreement’ and in fact no reason for not publishing the information. However, the organisation decided to conform to the NDA because it could potentionally damage the relations with the pr department of the company. I think this is not a good thing. Something ‘unimportant’ as a product announcement isn’t a major thing, but what about news about vulnerabilities of certain products? Are they also not published if the producer of the vulnerable software asks it?

Dit is dus geen overheidstaak

De SP vindt dat de overheid een fonds moet instellen zodat slachtoffers van bedrijven als Legiolease/Dexia die een aandelen-lease constructie zijn aangegaan hieruit geld kunnen krijgen om een rechtszaak te starten tegen deze bedrijven. Jan Marijnissen bericht er hier over op zijn weblog. De SP zegt dat dit vergelijkbaar is met een overstroming in bijvoorbeeld Limburg waarbij de overheid ook een fonds instelt waaruit de getroffenen een vergoeding kunnen krijgen voor de schade. Zo’n overstroming wordt namelijk veroorzaakt buiten de schuld van de burgers, zo stelt de SP in hun standpunt.

Ik ben het hier dus totaal niet mee eens. Ten eerste gaat de vergelijking met de overstroming al volledig mank, aangezien de slachtoffers van Dexia wel degelijk er iets aan hadden kunnen doen, simpelweg niet in gaan op de loze beloften. Iemand met een beetje gezond verstand en iemand die zich goed laat voorlichten hoeft er namelijk echt niet in te stinken. Dat bedrijven als Dexia niet netjes werken staat denk ik wel buiten kijf, maar moet de overheid dit dan op gaan lossen?

Als ik ergens een TFT-TV koop voor 50 euro kan ik ook van te voren weten dat er iets niet deugt, en wanneer blijkt dat de TV alleen maar een behuizing zonder inhoud is gaat de overheid me hiervoor ook echt niet schadeloos stellen of geld ter beschikking stellen om een proces tegen de leverancier te starten. Dat is de enige correcte vergelijking. De overheid mag het bedrijf wel opdragen om de klanten schadeloos te stellen of iets dergelijks, maar ik vind het echt niet de taak van de overheid om deze mensen financieel te gaan ondersteunen.

You are currently browsing the archives for the Opinion category.