3. November, 2014
Thomas Schuetz from Protos Software showed some surprising similarities between embedded and finance systems: Both need to run a long period of time without human interaction, they shouldn’t show “odd” behavior, and you can’t simply shut them down to look for a bug.
Granted, lives are much less at risk when a financial software crashes (as opposed to, say, a pacemaker). So at first glance, the strict safety rules which apply to embedded systems seem too strict for financial software. But safety is built on top of reliability. And we very much want reliability in any system we build.
An important tool here is tracing. Tracing is the pedantic brother of logging. The goal is to collect enough data to simulate the state of the system at any point in time.
In a demonstration, he showed a demo for project eTrice. In a mix of a textual and UI editors, he created a simple application with two objects that could send data back and forth. Since everything is based on EMF, changes on one side are immediately reflected on the other. As a free bonus, you get a sequence diagram of the whole process by clicking a button after the application has finished.
3. November, 2014
Matthias Stürmer from the University of Bern explained what kinds of OSS communities exist, how they work and why the financial sector should look at them.
For one, investment into open source software is always paying back: No matter what anyone else does, you will always at least get back what you invested. As an example, several public departments needed to improve Microsoft Office support in LibreOffice/OpenOffice. Not a single one of them could afford the CHF 50,000 which this would cost. But all of them could.
Another important point is that OSS never goes out of maintenance. Sure, there are many abandoned projects but that doesn’t stop anyone from taking the source and continuing the work. By definition, no one cares about an abandoned OSS project.
If you need help with OSS, there is a directory of companies which sell support: http://www.ossdirectory.ch/
3. November, 2014
Etienne Juliot from Obeo, demonstrated Sirius, a tool to create your own modeling tools in Eclipse. Under the hood, the new UI editors work on EMF models. If you struggled with EMF (and it’s … uh … “basic” set of default editors), you should definitely have a look.
The tools also work well with Xtext, so you have a mix of textual (detail) and graphical editors (overview) in your product. The magic sauce in EMF makes sure that updates on one side propagate to the other.
3. November, 2014
Ralph Müller from the Eclipse Foundation Europe gave an overview of the current state of OSS in the industry. He showed examples how huge companies like Airbus, Deutsche Bahn and financial institutions are looking into open source software to run their core business.
What sounds like selling your very soul (or at least exposing it to all your competitors) at first is driven by several factors. For one, those companies don’t sell software. They sell services. Software is just a means to be efficient. Therefore, if they give the source code for the software away, they don’t lose money as such (as opposed to, say, Microsoft). There are security concerns but economically, developing software themselves puts a huge burden on them: Airbus needs to maintain that software for 60 years. Deutsche Bahn needs a system to implements ETCS, so lives will depend on this software. Doing this in-house would cost an insane amount of money.
On top of that, if everyone used the same code basis to implement the standard, a lot of discussions could be avoided. Source code doesn’t lie.
Closed source software isn’t more reliable or secure as open source (or the other way around) by default. Web browsers showed that exposing the source helps to find and plug many security holes in a short time.
This follows the same lines as the first big software developers – IBM and DEC – who gave the software away for free when you bought (or rented) their hardware.
Last but not least, here is a quote from the talk which got me thinking: “Bad artists protect their work, good artists share.”
10. October, 2014
Some years before people even know what a “blog” was, Thomas R. Fasulo had one. “I Hate Computers” or IH8PCs for short. Tom was famous at his time for being paid “to develop buggy software“.
It was a place full of wit, wisdom and incredibly funny jokes (especially in the “Non-Computer Humor” section ;-) All his blog posts ended with:
You should never believe anything you read or hear.
Especially if you read it here.
Another teaser: I have a rock garden. Last week three of them died.
Alas, the original site is down. But thanks to The Internet Archive, there is a backup: IH8PCs
3. October, 2014
For your IT security, you want
- It must be cheap
- And comfortable
Now choose at most two.
As always in life, everything has a cost. There is no cheap way to be secure which is also comfortable. Home Depot chose “cheap” and “comfort” – you’ve seen the result. Mordac would prefer “secure” and “cheap“.
Those example show why the answer probably is “secure” and “comfortable”. Which means we’re facing two problems: “cheap” is out of the question and the two contradict each other. Secure passwords are long, hard to remember, contain lots of unusual characters (uncomfortable the first time you travel to a different country – yes, people there use different keyboard layouts). Turns out there is a “cheap” part in “comfortable”.
Taking this on a social level, the price for security is freedom. To quote Benjamin Franklin: “Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety.” I don’t know about you but I feel bad about terrorists dictating us how much of our freedom we have to give up.
In a similar fashion, you can either punish criminals or prevent future crimes but you have to choose one. We have learned through bad experience (witch hunts, flaws of the US penal system) or good (like the Norwegian system) that punishment doesn’t always help nor does it make victims happy. Which leaves us with the only conclusion: We, as a society, pay money to prevent future crimes because that’s the most reasonable thing to do.
Even if it leads to people mistakenly attribute modern penal system as “holiday camps.”
19. September, 2014
Just noticed that I have 150,225 reputation on stackoverflow.com.