Thursday, May 29, 2008

SWEBOK indeed

I suppose it's entirely indicative of the software industry, but I was still saddened when I noticed that the embedded 'title' field of the PDF version of the IEEE Guide to the Software Engineering Body of Knowledge, is "Microsoft Word - Title_page 2004.rtf".

The meta-data shows that the file was created using version FIVE of adobe's own acrobat creation tools, so why doesn't the title meta-data say "Guide to the SWEBOK" or some such? And the author field should be the IEEE Computer Society, not RobertD.

When someone in the IEEE Computer Society, writing a document on how to write software can't even get their tools to work the way the designer wanted them to work, it's a damning testament to the quality of software engineering. I'm sure RobertD isn't an idiot, his software should have helped him make this document, not made the IEEE look like a bunch of morons.

I'm not even going to begin to comment on the fact that the official swebok pdf download page seemingly 'requires' an email address, while the html version is served up anonymously, but you could always just download the pdf directly from the IEEE CSDP education portal.

I've been a member of the IEEE Computer Society and the IEEE for years, and a software developer for even longer. Sadly, this is totally indicative of the mishmash of disciplines that make up software engineering. Computer scientists are keen to point out how every discipline can make use of our science, but frankly software needs other disciplines as well. Marketing, management, communications, you get the idea.

This is what we can do

Phoenix chute
The folks over at Bad Astronomy really put it best, "Never, ever forget: we did this. This is what we can do."

Think on this, and think on it carefully: you are seeing a manmade object falling gracefully and with intent to the surface of an alien world, as seen by another manmade object already circling that world, both of them acting robotically, and both of them hundreds of million of kilometers away.

You can view full images and get a nice collection of links over at Astronomy Picture of the Day (APOD).

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Avalon Hill's Advanced Civilization Is Not Quite Dead

It turns out there are others who are fans of the sadly out-of-print Avalon Hill title Advanced Civilization. A group calling themselves Civilization: The Expansion Project have been working on updated rules and an expanded map board to support 16 player play! Awesome.

If only it were possible to get new prints of the cards and maps so we could play this old game. There is a beta module for VASSAL available, however. VASSAL allows you to play board games online. Mostly geared toward wargames, it's a fairly generic engine that lets you produce your own modules. It seems handy, but I'm yet to find someone to try it with.

Great Southern California ShakeOut

The Great Southern California ShakeOut
November 12รข€“16, 2008

The Great Southern California ShakeOut is a week of special events featuring the largest earthquake drill in U.S. history, organized to inspire Southern Californians to get ready for big earthquakes, and to prevent disasters from becoming catastrophes.

Monday, May 12, 2008

25-Year-Old Bug Fixed in BSD

Marc Balmer has a wonderful writeup of a bug in the BSD directory handling code that laid dormant for 25 years. The only tragic thing was that Samba programmers encountered and worked around the bug several years ago and somehow the message never got back to the BSD folks.

The other day, I got an email from Edd, an OpenBSD user, claiming that Samba would crash when serving files off an MS-DOS filesystem. This was Samba built from sources and not the one from ports. Since I use myself Samba a lot and for a quite large user base, I got interested in the issue and started investigating it.

What I found out in the end is a surprise and was not expected: A bug that has been there in all BSDs for almost all the time, since the 4.2BSD times or for roughly 25 years...