The KIT ? Knowledge & Information Technology
No. 139 - 2 Mar 2015
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In This Issue
Net Neutrality
Was Gemalto Hacked?
ACM Webinar Replays: Bertrand Meyer and Steve McConnell
ACM SIG Conferences
�Hablas t� Java?
Rainbow Hackathons
Seen Recently
Claude Baudoin

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Net Neutrality       

After years of often heated debate, the US Federal Communications Commission adopted last week a ruling that prohibits Internet Service Providers (ISPs) from treating or billing traffic differently based on who originates it (for example, to attract customers to an online movie service owned by the same company as the ISP). Many analyses of the ruling, its potential effect on competition, and the new services that may be offered to circumvent it, have been published in the few days since this happened. See for example the Computerworld analysis.

Was Gemalto Hacked? 

The Intercept reported on Feb. 19 that according to documents leaked by famous whistleblower Edward Snowden, the US National Security Agency (NSA) and its UK counterpart, the Government Communications Headquarter (GCHQ), managed to jointly penetrate the computer systems of Gemalto, the largest manufacturer of SIM cards used in mobile phones, so that they could obtain encryption keys that would allow them to decrypt traffic.

Since this second-hand news, caution is advisable, but we note that historically, most or all of Snowden's revelations have been proven true. For its part, Gemalto says that they had no prior awareness of the penetration, and still do not have proof of it, but that they are taking the report very seriously and investigating.

Note: the KIT readers who work or used to work at Schlumberger will recognize Gemalto as the company that resulted from the merger of Axalto, the spin-off of the Smart Cards division of Schlumberger, with its competitor Gemplus.

Agile Methods: The Good, the Hype and the Ugly       

If you missed the ACM webinar featuring Prof. Bertrand Meyer, the inventor of the Eiffel language, author of many books, ACM Fellow and Prof. of Software Engineering at the prestigious ETH university in Zurich, you can now watch the replay. This will bring you up to speed with the 1400 live attendees, a record number for ACM Webinars.

ACM also offers a replay of a webinar by Steve McConnell, author of the book "Code Complete." The webinar is entitled "Stranger than Fiction: Case Studies in Software Engineering Judgment."
ACM Special Interest Group Conferences
Who knows? Perhaps one of these conferences happens to be close to you, or in an interesting location to combine your technology interests with visiting a new locale!
  • VEE '15 (11th ACM SIGPLAN/SIGOPS International Conference on Virtual Execution Environments), March 14-15, combined with ASPLOS '15 (Architectural Support for Programming Languages and Operating Systems), March 14-18, both in Istanbul, Turkey
  • IUI '15 (20th International Conference on Intelligent User Interfaces), March 29-April 1, Atlanta, Ga., USA
  • SAC 2015 (Symposium on Applied Computing), April 13-17, Salamanca, Spain
Comment on "�Hablas t� Java?"
In the last issue, we wrote with more than a hint of incredulity about laws proposed in two U.S. states, Kentucky and Washington, to count high school education in computer science as meeting the "foreign language requirement" for admission to university. One of our faithful readers wrote back:
"When I was applying to grad schools for computer science in 1971, at least one (super)major university was willing to accept FORTRAN or COBOL in lieu of the typical French, German or Russian."
Rainbow Hackathons
Hackathons, the "hacking marathons" in which individuals or teams develop an idea or a prototype, often in the form of a smartphone app or Web site, in the course of a week-end, and sometimes get funding or prizes to help them pursue their idea further, are getting a dose of diversity.

In a world where most computer science students, at least in the U.S., tend to be white or Asian males, My Brother's Keeper Hackathon, held in Oakland, Calif. on Feb. 20-22, is targeted at African-American students. Meanwhile HackOut 2015, aimed at young LGBT entrepreneurs, was held on the same week-end in Austin. Texas.
Seen Recently...

""Why did it take 2 weeks to write 200 lines of code? Because I had to write 1000 lines of code to learn which 800 to throw away."

-- Bob Apthorpe (@arclight),

in a tweet reminiscent of Voltaire's apology to a correspondent, saying that he 

wrote him such a long letter because he lacked the time to write a shorter one