Thursday, December 13, 2007

Chain Letters Are Worse Than Viruses

Yesterday I got once again a Chain Letter. In case you don't know - I HATE CHAIN LETTERS!!!

This time, it was a pseudo virus alert. When I complained with the sender, urging her to stop sending me chain letters, she said: "But it's a VIRUS alert! I can't take the chance you'll miss it!"

What people don't understand, is that if 50% of the users would think like this sender, there would be no Internet. Nada, zip, nil, rien du tout, nothing, niets, kadachat...

Just do the math:

Let's assume 50% of the people believe in those nonsense and send such a virus alert to 20 other people.

Now assume it takes on average 5 minutes from the moment you get the email until you forward it (some a little more, some a little less).

In this worst case scenario, we flood the Net with 10^12 emails after 1 hour. Keeping the 5-minute window I assumed above, it's more than 3 BILLION emails per second. No need to calculate how many emails would be sent after 2 hours - there would be no Internet by then.

Fortunately for the Internet, most users know better than to forward Chain Letters...

Wednesday, December 12, 2007


My curiosity has been arisen big time. Apparently, there is a new kind of malware, which involves the use of natural language dialogue to extract information from users, in the disguise of a flirtatious conversation. It's called CyberLover and was apparently developed in Russia. According to PC Tools, this program can converse with a human for 30 minutes without the dude being able to see he's talking to a robot.

The Turing Test has officially been passed...

Read the original warning issued by PC Tools, or an article at ComputerWorld.


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

A Killing IDE Feature I Would Like To See

A long time ago I used to use BugTrapper - an application that sits on the production server, records every instruction, and makes it possible to "play" everything back, step by step. It's a great tool to analyze bugs and especially crashes "post mortem", as long as it's not related to some obscure race condition (the overhead of using BugTrapper often ruling out the race in the first place).

I think there definitely is a case for applications like this, and the fact that Mutek hasn't been able to push itself farther into developers' awareness is quite surprising to me.

The feature I would like to see in an IDE is a mini-BugTrapper. I would like the IDE to be able to record up to a certain amount of instructions (say up to 100,000) during debugging. How many times did you stop at some breakpoint and suddenly realized you should have put this breakpoint a little bit earlier in the flow? You really need to see  the value of some parameter, or the actually executed flow, a few steps back - but you can't. The only thing the IDE gives you is the static current call stack - which just isn't enough. You want to know what variables caused you to get into that current call stack, but that's beyond the scope of the IDE's features.

That's, IMHO, a killing feature that could significantly boost debugging time.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Is GOTO always evil?

The other day I decided to use a "goto" statement in my C# code. It was a difficult decision to take, and was primarily motivated by the need for readability.

Apparently, Linus Torvalds also thinks there are cases where "goto" is appropriate, so I'm in good company...

Thanks to Scott Hanselman for pointing to this thread.

How do you Exactly Approximate??

Let me quote from MSDN about System.Double:

"A mathematical or comparison operation that uses a floating-point number might not yield the same result if a decimal number is used because the floating-point number might not exactly approximate the decimal number."

I found this funny, go figure...