Forum on Risks to the Public in Computers and Related Systems
Volume 27: Issue 91
Monday 12 May 2014
- NEWS FLASH: RISKS-27.90 caught by Spam Assassin
- "Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Lately, Coding"
- Matt Richtel via Ed Lazowska
- "The FCC has already started destroying the Internet"
- Paul Venezia via Gene Wirchenko
- "Security-vendor snake oil: 7 promises that don't deliver"
- Roger A. Grimes via Gene Wirchenko
- "Oracle's surprise win in Java API case could make it harder for developers"
- Paul Krill via Gene Wirchenko
- Info on RISKS (comp.risks)
NEWS FLASH: RISKS-27.90 caught by Spam AssassinRISKS List Owner <firstname.lastname@example.org> Mon, 12 May 2014 1:09:22 PDT
Please check your spam bucket if you did not receive RISKS-27.90, assuming this issue gets through despite mentioning `large amounts of money'. Oddly, there was NO MENTION of the 2.8-point item, which has to do with H*K*L*O*T*T*O, lightly encoded to avoid a repetition. This of course happened (at least) once before, in RISKS-22.20, almost 12 years ago, as recorded by Danny Burstein in RISKS-22.21. This is what caught my copy of the previous issue. Content analysis details: (5.3 points, 5.0 required) pts rule name description 0.0 T_URIBL_SEM_FRESH_15 Contains a domain registered less than 15 days ago [URIs: estoniaevoting.org] -0.0 T_RP_MATCHES_RCVD Envelope sender domain matches handover relay domain 2.5 US_DOLLARS_3 BODY: Mentions millions of $ ($NN,NNN,NNN.NN) 0.0 LOTS_OF_MONEY Huge... sums of money 2.8 [see above] [see above, lightly encoded]
Matt Richtel, *The New York Times, 11 May 2014 (Ed Lazowska via Dave Farber) This Sunday's front-page lead article in *The New York Times* is worth reading. http://www.nytimes.com/2014/05/11/us/reading-writing-arithmetic-and-lately-coding.html My opinion: It's excellent exposure for "the movement" of driving computer science into K-12. But it's hugely vocationally focused, and thus misses the key point: Computer programming is the hands-on inquiry-based way we teach computational thinking, which is an essential 21st-century capability for just about everyone. The incongruity within the article itself is glaring. Towards the top, it says “It is a stark change for computer science, which for decades was treated like a stepchild, equated with trade classes like wood shop.'' It then proceeds to focus almost exclusively on a vocational/trade/skill rationale for the teaching programming. The wonderful Hadi Partovi (Code.org) says it just right in his one quote in the article: learning our field is “as essential as learning about gravity or molecules, electricity or photosynthesis.'' But people don't learn about “gravity or molecules, electricity or photosynthesis'' for vocational purposes, but rather because they lead towards `modes of thought' that are essential. This angle gets no coverage elsewhere in the article. (And Hadi is referred to as `she' in the print version, further suggesting a level of misunderstanding ...) It would be great if *The New York Times*, at least, would get this right ..., but I guess pretty much any press is good press.
I have long been an advocate of integrating relevant fundamentals of discrete mathematics, principles underlying computer technology, and ethics of computer use into early education, beginning as early as reasonable in K-12 curricula, and at whatever levels of abstraction can be understood at each level. However, it seriously seems overly simplistic to believe that teaching a visual coding (programming) language early will by itself result in programmers who can understand the pitfalls of later trying to specify requirements, programs, and system architectures that can satisfy critical needs for trustworthy systems and networks. Perhaps what is also needed is a graded set of staged versions of the highlights from RISKS that can add some reality to the proposition that being able to write a simple visual program is only one stepping stone to becoming a logical person and perhaps eventually a system architect/software engineer in the sense of real engineering. Computer literacy is essential, but once again we need to dust off the old Einstein dictum: Everything should be made as simple as possible, but no simpler. Instilling a better understanding of complexity throughout the progression of increasingly higher education seems to have been accomplished fairly well in mathematics, but not yet in computer education before college. There is clearly a burden on educating the teachers as well, but visual programming may offer an overly simplistic approach unless the underlying principles are also visible to them and to the students. End of soapbox. PGN
Paul Venezia | InfoWorld, 12 May 2014 The FCC has already started destroying the Internet The mere mention of the awful new rules proposed by the FCC already is causing fallout http://www.infoworld.com/d/data-center/the-fcc-has-already-started-destroying-the-internet-242191
Roger A. Grimes | InfoWorld, 12 May 2014 Beware bold promises from a multibillion-dollar industry that can't http://www.infoworld.com/d/security/security-vendor-snake-oil-7-promises-dont-deliver-242138 prevent your IT systems from being routinely hacked
Paul Krill | InfoWorld, 9 May 2014 The ruling that APIs can be copyrighted could make it a lot harder to take advantage of APIs with a direct license http://www.infoworld.com/t/java-programming/oracles-surprise-win-in-java-api-case-could-make-it-harder-developers-242288
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