I like to start the year with an empty inbox, so for the past few days I've been ruthlessly slashing and deleting my email. I'm happy to report that - at least for this one, brief moment in time - all my email accounts are zeroed out.
Please don't email me your congratulations.
While house cleaning, I came across a number of random yet interesting links I'd collected from various sources over the past few months, which I now offer up for your enjoyment.
I've written before about the legal and ethical forces that weigh upon some types of software; now where is this more apparent in the recent controversy regarding NSA's wiretapping. Whichever side of the issue you take, the presence of software-intensive systems is the only reason that this work is even possible. Speaking of security, Apple has a patent for tamper-resistent code I suppose in the near future Eclipse will come with child-proof caps. Speaking of the bad guys for which the aforementioned wiretapping is directed, one of the deep problems - both on and off the battlefield - is understanding what your friends as well as your foes are saying: thus enter a universal translator, yet another device brought to you by software. Oh, regarding the battlefield, GPS is essential to doing war these days, but more importantly it's found its way into a myriad of commercial applications. Realizing that GPS is fundamentally a military system with residual commercial benefits that are not necessarily guaranteed at all times, the European Community has started its GPS-equivalent, the Galileo project. While these and many other software-intensive systems continue their slow yet deliberate oozing into the interstitial spaces of society, the impact of software failures becomes greater, as evident in this list of spectacular bugs. In contrast, software-intensive systems have the potential to catalyze incredible social change, as with the one laptop per child program.
The fact that a $100 laptop is even possible is testimony to the vibrancy of the personal computer market, as this market history illustrates; check out this interview of Woz one of the great innovators in this space. Continuing with this historical theme, for a blast from the past check out the wayback machine and the very first browser. If you are gamer, you can relive your past playing games from the 80's. There's an interesting dance between developments in games and developments in computer graphics and animation; for you film fans out there, you too can explore the role of software in contemporary special effects and animation.
Zipping to the future, a number of folks have offered up their predictions for the coming years in areas as specific as user interfaces and as general as basic technology trends. Of course, Microsoft has some things to say on the topic and now even Google has its own metarules that drive its future. Speaking of Google, check out their searching zeitgeist for 2005.
Since a large percentage of visitors to my site are programmers, check out one programmer's bookshelf plus this personal essay from a programmer on how to become a programmer. If you are more visual, there's also a movie about programmers. If you are itching to read some code this day, you'll find more than enough to satisfy your urges at this site. Finally, while interest in pure computer sciences degrees may be on the decline, there's no lack of demand for those with pragmatic development skills. As I've said many times before, the fundamentals never go out of style. While you are dreaming, you may ask what a gazillionire geek does with his/her money: well there's the incomparable Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, and a number of techies are looking to jumpstart commercial space travel.
Ah space: the final frontier. If you are a trekker as am I, you'll enjoy this parody, Star Wreck, or this more serious prequel. If reality is not good enough for you, you can always find a second life here.
For those of you who have been following my blog, thank you; I'll be back blogging after the new year (I am curious if any of you are reading my blog via this RSS device). In the meantime, do note that I'm only one of many IBM bloggers.