Security Engineering: free to download

Oh, happy day! Ross Anderson‘s classic work “Security Engineering: A Guide To Building Dependable Distributed Systems” is now free to download. Yay!

This might explain why the publishers didn’t send me an inspection copy when I asked them for one about six months ago…

“And on rhythm guitar… give it up for… gimbo!”

Late notice but: tomorrow I will be playing steelpan in the parade at Swansea Carnival!

I had never played one before Wednesday (ie two days ago). I got roped into it by one of my African drumming buddies, went to rehearsals Wednesday and yesterday, and tomorrow is the big day.

So if you’re in town tomorrow around 1PM, 2PM or so, look out for me at the front of the steelpan float, dressed up crazy, probably with painted face, trying desperately to keep up with Rocco’s frantic hammering. Hopefully I’ll look like I’m having a good time – possibly ending up in the Monkey in the evening.

Tonight it’s “Jab Jab”, which is some crazy pre-carnival procession-cum-pub crawl. I’ve been told it’s better than the carnival. Alas, I don’t think I’ll make it, because one of my work computers has just died (the Windows one, obviously), right in the middle of me trying to do my post-resit-exams marks admin work. Gaaaah! Fricking computers! Ah well, party time tomorrow, anyway.

“Ridiculously easy” distributed programming with Ruby

MapReduce for Ruby: Ridiculously Easy Distributed Programming [raganwald]

Great for tasks which trivially parallelise, anyway.

How to make a corporate butt pucker

How to make a corporate butt pucker – sounding the death knell of “Enterprise Development” with a capital E and a capital D. Good. [raganwald]

Bruce Schneier Facts

One for everyone who took CS-318 last year, or will be taking it next year: Bruce Schneier Facts.

(And if you don’t get it but want to, check out this and this.)

Keep on Truckin’…

I saw this in G2 the other day and literally (and yes, I do mean literally!) laughed my head off.

Prescott at the cinema

Somewhat in the spirit of “Gabriel at the airport”, here’s an amusing little snippet from Paul Miller.

Eyewitness account of atomic bomb attack on Hiroshima, 1945.08.06

61 years ago today, atomic weaponry was used in anger for the first time, against the Japanese city of Hiroshima. Here is a first-person eyewitness account of that event and the days that followed. It is worth reading.

Computational Theology – made up name!

Reading this eWeek article on Sun’s desire to support dynamic languages better on the JVM (via lambda) I was struck by the following sentence:

Gilad Bracha, a computational theologist at Sun delivered a presentation called “Dynamically Typed Languages on the Java Platform” at the Lang.NET 2006 Symposium here on August 1, and said Sun plans to broaden its support for dynamic or scripting languages.

Exqueeze me? Computational Theologist?

Perhaps, I mused, this had something to do with computing The Nine Billions Names of God (not something I’d use Java for, I think). Or maybe some other scripture-related buffoonery such as finding predictions of Lady Diana’s death in Moby Dick… So I googled for it.

Nope, turns out it’s something Gilad Bracha made up because the task of interpreting natural language specifications of languages and virtual machines reminded him of Talmudic scripture interpretation.

Oh, how I laughed. It is, from one point of view, a beautifully subversive move on Brachca’s part – perhaps a first step in decoupling the word theology from anything to do with God or gods, which is bound to annoy existing theologians and is thus worthwhile. Also, I can completely see what he means in that most natural language specifications I’ve seen are full of ambiguities, irreconcilable contradictions, and just bad thinking. I leave the reader to close the loop on this analogy.

On the other hand, I’m cautious about welcoming the use of the word, and its associations, anywhere near computer science. If science and reason free us from having to use religious dogma to explain the world, and if mathematics is the language of science, and if computer science is simply one form of mathematics – all of which I believe – then religious tools and terminology are a poor fit to the domain, if you ask me.

By the way, I’m not saying in the previous paragraph that I believe science makes religion completely unnecessary, or proves it to be hogwash. I don’t believe that for one moment – although some people do, and you can say what you like about science being their religion. I believe the rational worldview and the religious one are two orthogonal ways of looking at the world. Anything we can explain or deduce with science, religion has nothing to say about; for me, religion lives in the gaps between the theorems, in the undecidable propositions, in the time between the end of this universe and the start of the next, in the unknowable, in the sublime.

Kissing Hank’s Ass

Kissing Hank’s Ass – spot on.