Topic: Software

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πŸ”— Run Commands, the 'rc' in '.bashrc'

πŸ”— Software πŸ”— Software/Computing

In the context of Unix-like systems, the term rc stands for the phrase "run commands". It is used for any file that contains startup information for a command. It is believed to have originated sometime in 1965 at a runcom facility from the MIT Compatible Time-Sharing System (CTSS).

From Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie:

There was a facility that would execute a bunch of commands stored in a file; it was called runcom for "run commands", and the file began to be called "a runcom". rc in Unix is a fossil from that usage.

Tom Van Vleck, a Multics engineer, has also reminisced about the extension rc: "The idea of having the command processing shell be an ordinary slave program came from the Multics design, and a predecessor program on CTSS by Louis Pouzin called RUNCOM, the source of the '.rc' suffix on some Unix configuration files."

This is also the origin of the name of the Plan 9 from Bell Labs shell by Tom Duff, the rc shell. It is called "rc" because the main job of a shell is to "run commands".

While not historically precise, rc may also be expanded as "run control", because an rc file controls how a program runs. For instance, the editor Vim looks for and reads the contents of the .vimrc file to determine its initial configuration. In The Art of Unix Programming, Eric S. Raymond consistently refers to rc files as "run-control" files.

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πŸ”— Yahoo Pipes

πŸ”— Internet πŸ”— Software πŸ”— Software/Computing πŸ”— Maps

Yahoo! Pipes was a web application from Yahoo! that provided a graphical user interface for building data mashups that aggregate web feeds, web pages, and other services, creating Web-based apps from various sources, and publishing those apps. The application worked by enabling users to "pipe" information from different sources and then set up rules for how that content should be modified (for example, filtering). Other than the pipe editing page, the website had a documentation page and a discussion page. The documentation page contained information about pipes including guides for the pipe editor and troubleshooting. The discussion page enabled users to discuss the pipes with other users.

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πŸ”— Cyc

πŸ”— Computing πŸ”— Computer science πŸ”— Cognitive science πŸ”— Software πŸ”— Software/Computing πŸ”— Databases πŸ”— Databases/Computer science

Cyc (pronounced SYKE, ) is a long-living artificial intelligence project that aims to assemble a comprehensive ontology and knowledge base that spans the basic concepts and rules about how the world works. Hoping to capture common sense knowledge, Cyc focuses on implicit knowledge that other AI platforms may take for granted. This is contrasted with facts one might find somewhere on the internet or retrieve via a search engine or Wikipedia. Cyc enables AI applications to perform human-like reasoning and be less "brittle" when confronted with novel situations.

Douglas Lenat began the project in July 1984 at MCC, where he was Principal Scientist 1984–1994, and then, since January 1995, has been under active development by the Cycorp company, where he is the CEO.

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  • "Cyc" | 2022-09-28 | 24 Upvotes 2 Comments
  • "Cyc" | 2019-12-13 | 357 Upvotes 173 Comments

πŸ”— β€œBush hid the facts” bug

πŸ”— Computing πŸ”— Microsoft Windows πŸ”— Microsoft Windows/Computing πŸ”— Software πŸ”— Software/Computing

Bush hid the facts is a common name for a bug present in some versions of Microsoft Windows, which causes text encoded in ASCII to be interpreted as if it were UTF-16LE, resulting in garbled text. When the string "Bush hid the facts", without newline or quotes, was put in a new Notepad document and saved, closed, and reopened, the nonsensical sequence of Chinese characters "η•‚ζ‘³ζ  ζ‘©η ζ•¨ζ˜ ζ‘η΄" would appear instead.

While "Bush hid the facts" is the sentence most commonly presented on the Internet to induce the error, the bug can be triggered by many strings with letters and spaces in the same positions, for example "hhhh hhh hhh hhhhh". Other sequences trigger the bug as well, including even the text "a ".

The bug occurs when the string is passed to the Win32 charset detection function IsTextUnicode. IsTextUnicode sees that the bytes match the UTF-16LE encoding of valid (if nonsensical) Chinese Unicode characters, concludes that the text is valid UTF-16LE Chinese and returns true, and the application then incorrectly interprets the text as UTF-16LE.

The bug had existed since IsTextUnicode was introduced with Windows NT 3.5 in 1994, but was not discovered until early 2004. Many text editors and tools exhibit this behavior on Windows because they use IsTextUnicode to determine the encoding of text files. As of Windows Vista, Notepad has been modified to use a different detection algorithm that does not exhibit the bug, but IsTextUnicode remains unchanged in the operating system, so any other tools that use the function are still affected.

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πŸ”— Razor 1911

πŸ”— Software πŸ”— Software/Computing πŸ”— Norway

Razor 1911 (RZR) is a warez and demogroup founded in Norway, 1986. It was the first ever such group to be initially founded exclusively as a demogroup, before moving into warez in 1987. According to the US Justice Department, Razor 1911 is the oldest software cracking group that is still active on the internet. Razor 1911 ran the diskmag 'Propaganda' until 1995.

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πŸ”— British Post Office Scandal

πŸ”— Human rights πŸ”— Computing πŸ”— Finance & Investment πŸ”— Law πŸ”— Computing/Software πŸ”— Software πŸ”— Software/Computing πŸ”— United Kingdom

The British Post Office scandal is a widespread and long-lasting series of individual miscarriages of justice which, between 1999 and 2015, involved over 700 subpostmasters being wrongly convicted of theft, false accounting and fraud when shortfalls at their branches were in fact due to errors of the Post Office's Horizon accounting software. In 2019, the High Court ruled that the Horizon system was faulty and in 2020 the government established a public inquiry. Courts began to quash convictions from 2010. As of January 2024, some victims are still fighting to have their convictions overturned and receive compensation, the public inquiry is ongoing, and the Metropolitan Police is investigating the Post Office for potential fraud offences.

The Horizon accounting system was developed by ICL Pathway, owned by the Japanese company Fujitsu. In 1999, the Post Office started to roll out the new software to its branch and sub-offices, the latter managed by subpostmasters on a self-employed basis under contracts with the Post Office. Almost immediately, some subpostmasters noticed the new system reporting false shortfalls, sometimes for thousands of pounds. The Post Office insisted that the system was robust and, when shortfalls occurred, prosecuted the subpostmasters or forced them to make up the amount. The impact of court cases, criminal convictions, imprisonment, loss of livelihood and homes, debt and bankruptcy took a heavy toll on victims and their families, leading to stress, illness, divorce and, in at least four cases, suicide. In May 2009, Computer Weekly broke the story about problems with Horizon software and in September 2009 subpostmaster Alan Bates set up the Justice for Subpostmasters Alliance (JFSA). In 2012, as a result of pressure from campaigners and Members of Parliament, the Post Office appointed forensic accountants Second Sight to conduct an investigation into Horizon. The investigators concluded that Horizon contained faults that could result in accounting discrepancies, but the Post Office insisted that there were no system-wide problems with the software.

In 2019 a group of 555 subpostmasters led by Bates won a group action brought in court against the Post Office, with the judge ruling that Horizon contained bugs, errors and defects. The Post Office agreed to settle out of court for Β£58 million. The subpostmasters' legal costs amounted to Β£47 million of, leaving them with only about Β£20,000 each. The government later agreed to supplement the settlement, as they were excluded from the compensation scheme set up by the Post Office for other victims of the scandal. The first convictions to be quashed were those of six subpostmasters who had been convicted in magistrates' courts and whose appeals were heard at Southwark Crown Court in December 2020. In allowing the appeal by 39 subpostmasters in April 2021, the Court of Appeal judges ruled that in cases that relied on Horizon data a fair trial was not possible. Further appeal cases followed.

In September 2020, the government established the Post Office Horizon IT Inquiry, chaired by retired judge Sir Wyn Williams, to look into the implementation and failings of the Horizon system that led to the prosecution of subpostmasters and termination of their contracts. Evidence was due to be heard from subpostmasters, the Post Office, UK Government Investment, the Department for Business and Trade, and others.

A four-part television drama, Mr Bates vs the Post Office, was broadcast on ITV in January 2024, after which the scandal became a major news story and political issue.

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πŸ”— List of failed and over-budget custom software projects

πŸ”— Lists πŸ”— Software πŸ”— Software/Computing

This is a list of notable custom software projects which have significantly failed to achieve some or all of their objectives, either temporarily or permanently, and/or have suffered from significant cost overruns. For a list of successful major custom software projects, see Custom software#Major project successes.

Note that failed projects, and projects running over budget, are not necessarily the sole fault of the employees or businesses creating the software. In some cases, problems may be due partly to problems with the purchasing organisation, including poor requirements, over-ambitious requirements, unnecessary requirements, poor contract drafting, poor contract management, poor end-user training, or poor operational management.

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πŸ”— Dennis Ritchie

πŸ”— Biography πŸ”— Computing πŸ”— Computer science πŸ”— Biography/science and academia πŸ”— New York (state) πŸ”— New York (state)/Hudson Valley πŸ”— Computing/Computer science πŸ”— Software πŸ”— Software/Computing πŸ”— C/C++ πŸ”— Japan πŸ”— New Jersey πŸ”— Linux

Dennis MacAlistair Ritchie (September 9, 1941 – c. October 12, 2011) was an American computer scientist. He created the C programming language and, with long-time colleague Ken Thompson, the Unix operating system and B programming language. Ritchie and Thompson were awarded the Turing Award from the ACM in 1983, the Hamming Medal from the IEEE in 1990 and the National Medal of Technology from President Bill Clinton in 1999. Ritchie was the head of Lucent Technologies System Software Research Department when he retired in 2007. He was the "R" in K&R C, and commonly known by his username dmr.

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πŸ”— Grace Hopper

πŸ”— United States/U.S. Government πŸ”— United States πŸ”— Biography πŸ”— Computing πŸ”— Military history πŸ”— Military history/North American military history πŸ”— United States/Military history - U.S. military history πŸ”— Military history/Military science, technology, and theory πŸ”— New York City πŸ”— Women scientists πŸ”— Biography/science and academia πŸ”— Women's History πŸ”— Military history/Military biography πŸ”— Biography/military biography πŸ”— Software πŸ”— Software/Computing πŸ”— Military history/Maritime warfare πŸ”— Pritzker Military Library

Grace Brewster Murray Hopper (nΓ©eΒ Murray December 9, 1906 – January 1, 1992) was an American computer scientist and United States Navy rear admiral. One of the first programmers of the Harvard MarkΒ I computer, she was a pioneer of computer programming who invented one of the first linkers. She popularized the idea of machine-independent programming languages, which led to the development of COBOL, an early high-level programming language still in use today.

Prior to joining the Navy, Hopper earned a Ph.D. in mathematics from Yale University and was a professor of mathematics at Vassar College. Hopper attempted to enlist in the Navy during World War II but was rejected because she was 34 years old. She instead joined the Navy Reserves. Hopper began her computing career in 1944 when she worked on the Harvard Mark I team led by Howard H. Aiken. In 1949, she joined the Eckert–Mauchly Computer Corporation and was part of the team that developed the UNIVAC I computer. At Eckert–Mauchly she began developing the compiler. She believed that a programming language based on English was possible. Her compiler converted English terms into machine code understood by computers. By 1952, Hopper had finished her program linker (originally called a compiler), which was written for the A-0 System. During her wartime service, she co-authored three papers based on her work on the Harvard Mark 1.

In 1954, Eckert–Mauchly chose Hopper to lead their department for automatic programming, and she led the release of some of the first compiled languages like FLOW-MATIC. In 1959, she participated in the CODASYL consortium, which consulted Hopper to guide them in creating a machine-independent programming language. This led to the COBOL language, which was inspired by her idea of a language being based on English words. In 1966, she retired from the Naval Reserve, but in 1967 the Navy recalled her to active duty. She retired from the Navy in 1986 and found work as a consultant for the Digital Equipment Corporation, sharing her computing experiences.

The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USSΒ Hopper was named for her, as was the Cray XE6 "Hopper" supercomputer at NERSC. During her lifetime, Hopper was awarded 40 honorary degrees from universities across the world. A college at Yale University was renamed in her honor. In 1991, she received the National Medal of Technology. On November 22, 2016, she was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Barack Obama.

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πŸ”— Namecoin

πŸ”— Computing πŸ”— Computing/Software πŸ”— Numismatics πŸ”— Software πŸ”— Software/Computing πŸ”— Numismatics/Cryptocurrency πŸ”— Cryptocurrency πŸ”— Computing/Computer Security

Namecoin (Symbol: β„• or NMC) is a cryptocurrency originally forked from bitcoin software. It is based on the code of bitcoin and uses the same proof-of-work algorithm. Like bitcoin, it is limited to 21 million coins.

Namecoin can store data within its own blockchain transaction database. The original proposal for Namecoin called for Namecoin to insert data into bitcoin's blockchain directly. Anticipating scaling difficulties with this approach, a shared proof-of-work (POW) system was proposed to secure new cryptocurrencies with different use cases.

Namecoin's flagship use case is the censorship-resistant top level domain .bit, which is functionally similar to .com or .net domains but is independent of ICANN, the main governing body for domain names.

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