Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Steve Wozniak on data security and privacy

Speaking at the Apps World conference this February, these were Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak's comments on the current state of affairs regarding the security and privacy of our data, in particular given our increasing reliance on the "Cloud" for mundane tasks such as listening to music while walking the dog...

Internet Explorer vulnerability given a high profile

A vulnerability in Internet Explorer announced by Microsoft last week appears to have received a much higher profile reaction compared to other vulnerabilities, with even the UK and US governments getting in on the act to advise people to switch browsers. (Some might say that advice about data privacy is a bit rich coming from them...)

The specific vulnerability is reported to be the exploitability of Adobe Flash Player using a technique baptised "Heap Feng Shui". Reported, that is, apparently not by Microsoft, who have so far disclosed little information other than that they are still investigating the matter.

And this may be one of the reasons for the higher-profile reaction. Since the recent retirement of Windows XP, the world is now coming to terms with the reality of a vulnerability report effectively saying: "There's a serious security risk whose details we are not fully disclosing, which we do not promise to fix on 29% of computers in the wild".

And it's a reality they may need to get used to.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Historic source code: Apple II DOS

Those programmers into a bit of nostalgia may be interested in various early Apple documents made available on line by the Computer History Museum. Notably, these include the Apple II DOS source code, in M6502 assembler. The code is a reminder of just how hideous and painstaking it must have been to have to code something such as a disk operating system in what is reckoned to be a relatively short space of time.

Other hand-scribbled planning/specification documents released in the bundle will make programmers feel more relieved about the contents of their own notebooks.

For those wishing to pore even further over historic assembly language with that feeling of "How on Earth did that ever work?", you may also wish to take a look at the Spectrum ROM Disassembly (I have fond memories of having had this in book form at one stage: with the same feeling of disbelief!).