December 2015

The five key phases of software development

by Joey deVilla on December 28, 2015

This photo of someone’s answer to a computer science exam question has been making the rounds:

5 key phases of software development

Click the photo to see it at full size.

I have no idea if they’re still teaching the waterfall model of software development in universities these days, but judging from the exam question, I suspect the “correct” answer to the question was this:

waterfall phases

While psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’ five stages of grief wasn’t the answer the professor was looking for, I’d have awarded the student a couple of points if I were marking the exam.

Consider these recent stats for major software projects:

On second thought, I think that student should get full marks for his/her answer.

Thanks to Peach Flambée for the find!

also appears in linkedin

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Episode IV: The Empire strikes out (on their pen test)

by Joey deVilla on December 23, 2015

Star Wars Episode IV.1.d: The Pentesters Strike Back from CyberPoint International on Vimeo.

While the Empire in Star Wars had a lot of fearsome war machinery, a rag-tag gaggle of rebels was able to defeat them thanks to their terrible computer and network security. The folks at the security company CyberPoint have taken clips from A New Hope (a.k.a. Episode IV, a.k.a. “The Original”) and used them to make a funny video that illustrates the many security mistakes that even the biggest organizations make with securing — or more accurately, failing to secure — their systems.

I know of a number of places whose systems were bamboozled by the system equivalent of the Jedi mind trick…

spoofing

…and it’s amusing how many open USB ports there are in the Star Wars universe for R2-D2 to plug into and start injecting malware…

malicious dongles

…and while it’s forgivable for a 1970s screenwriter to not think that the Death Star’s tractor beam controls wouldn’t have some kind of way of preventing use by unauthorized parties, I’ve seen real-world, 21st-century organizations who should know better do exactly the same thing:

no authentication

In the spirit of all the current nerd hoopla about the new Star Wars movie (and yes, I’ve already seen it, and will probably see it again over the holidays), go watch the video and have a laugh at the Empire’s woefully inadequate security. Then go patch up your own organization’s weak spots. Kudos to CyberPoint for putting together the video, and here’s hoping Disney’s lawyers don’t send them a takedown notice.

I’ve got to give CyberPoint bonus points for using video from the original, non-special-edition version of Episode IV, complete with the English labels on the tractor beam controls (the Special Editions show all text in Aurebesh, the space alphabet), and theold-school ring-free Death Star explosion:

old school

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the first web server

Note the sticker on its chassis, which reads: “This machine is a server. DO NOT POWER DOWN!”
Creative Commons photo by “Coolcaesar” at Wikipedia. Click the photo to see the source.

In this weekend’s collective geeky euphoria over Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the 25th anniversary of the first web page has gone largely unreported. It was on December 20, 1990 when the NeXT computer pictured above served it, kicking off what I consider to be the world’s most successful side project.

The folks at CERN tweeted about the anniversary in the wee hours of the Eastern Time Zone…

…and so far, it seems that the only tech site to It some commemoration of this historic event is Engadget. That’s a shame, for as they put it:

It’s more of a platform than a bunch of documents, and it’s now available on everything from the phone in your pocket to a display on your head. However, its core remains the same: it’s a vital, dynamic tool for sharing information around the planet. Barring surprises, you’ll likely be surfing the web by the time the first site marks its 50th birthday.

The world’s first web page still lives on today in its original, very plain form at the same URL, http://info.cern.ch/hypertext/WWW/TheProject.html, with the exact same content. If you’d like to see it the same way a lot of people did back then, go to CERN’s Line Mode Browser page and enjoy it in all its monochromatic green glory:

first web page in line-mode browser

My first experience with the Web was in the fall of 1994 on the NCSA Mosaic browser at Queen’s University on a terminal running X, followed soon by Mosaic running on my Mac Quadra 660AV. A number of my friends first experienced it on Windows 3.1, where the first web page looked like this:

first web page in mosaic for windows browser

As for the inventor of the web, he’s done quite well for himself. How many developers get to take part in the opening ceremonies of the Olympics, never mind for their technological achievements?

tim berners-lee

Here’s a quick video featuring Sir Tim talking about how the web went from idea to reality, and his continuing hopes for the platform:

To close this article, I’ll leave you with Sir Tim’s TED talk from last year, A Magna Carta for the Web, in which he reminds us that the fight for openness and access, for net neutrality and against filter bubbles and centralized corporate control, continues:

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lumia

Creative Commons photo by “Entirely”. Click to see the source.

The market research and analysis firm IDC says that 2015 will be “the first full year of single-digit worldwide smartphone growth”. Their prediction is that 2015’s smartphone shipments will make up 1.43 billion units, which represents a growth rate of 9.8%.

Some notes takes from their press release:

  • There are still some areas of the world that will see double-digit growth. While sales growth is slowing in most of Asia/Pacific, Western Europe, and Latin America, the hot spots are in the middle east, Africa, India, and Indonesia.
  • Cheap phones are expected to drive faster replacement cycles. As they put it in their press release, “the components that comprise a sub-$100 smartphone simply do not have the ability to survive two years.”
  • More higher-end devices will be sold through financing plans. One example they cite is of Apple taking the reins by introducing their own financing: “Apple has taken the lead with its iPhone Upgrade Program, and several other vendors are expected to implement similar plans in the months ahead. These plans could represent the most effective way to get flagship devices into the hands of consumers while speeding up the upgrade cycle through trade-in and incentives.”

Here’s how the smartphone market share for mobile OS vendors looks like, according to IDC’s numbers:

smartphone market share dec 2015

TechCrunch’s Alex Wilhelm took note of IDC’s prediction for the fate of Windows as a mobile OS:

idc on windows phone sales march 2015

This is a far cry from their wacky 2011 prediction, in which they said that one in five smartphones would be a Windows Phone in 2015:

idc on windows phone sales march 2011

They were so sure that the combination of two industry giants, Microsoft and Nokia, would create a juggernaut that would bring the Windows Phone OS to the number two position, ahead of iOS and BlackBerry.

To quote their press release:

“The new alliance brings together Nokia’s hardware capabilities and Windows Phone’s differentiated platform. We expect the first devices to launch in 2012. By 2015, IDC expects Windows Phone to be number 2 operating system worldwide behind Android.”

Gartner’s 2011 predictions for the 2015 smartphone market weren’t all that different:

But the prize for the most comically-wrong prediction about the 2015 smartphone market has to go to Pyramid Research, who predicted that Windows Phone would take over the number one spot:

As the late great Yogi Berra said: “It’s tough to make predictions, especially about the future”.

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flash to animate

In honor of Adobe’s changing of Flash Professional to Animate and their not-as-subtle-as-they’d-like announcement that yes, even they have to admit that Flash is going away, here’s a video a made back in 2010, — when I was still a Microsoft — about HTML5, RIAs, and when to choose between them.

It was just five summers ago, but it was a different time: the first-gen iPad and iPhone 4 had just been released, Android was just emerging from being awful to not-too-bad with version 2.2, a.k.a. “Froyo”, and Windows Phone 7 was still in beta. If I were to make the video today, I’d change its take-away message to “Sometime is now. Ditch the RIAs.

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