From ELECTRONIC ENGINEERING TIMES, 26 Sept 1988, p. 25: Ada SUBSET ADDRESSES SOFTWARE SAFETY Southampton, England - (A subset of Ada called Spark) is reported to overcome the drawbacks of (Ada) in applications where software integrity is critical. ... Spark was developed at the University of Southampton with the sponsorhip of the British Ministry of Defence. It is now being marketed by Program Validation Ltd. (A representative of Program Validation) said that the use of Ada for safety critical programming poses some serious problems. There is no formal definition of the language and the precise meaning of some its constructions is unclear. According to Program Validation, the resulting uncertainties make formal verification of Ada programs impossible and cast doubts on the integrity of the compiled code. A further complication is that the richness of Ada allows programs to be constructed that are apparently simple, but hide great underlying complexity. ... To achieve Ada integrity, Spark has introduced several restrictions. It does not allow the use of tasks, exceptions or generic units. Access types are also omitted, as these are considered unacceptable in real-time safety critical applications. ... Certain features - such as "go to" statements and "declare" statements - are totally barred.
>From RISKS-FORUM 7.74: (Scott Wilde) The problem is not some nebulous >fear of the Pentagon "poisoning" the industry as a whole, but rather >that they would interfere _with the particular game under consideration_. In fact, one of the games designed by Simulations Publications, Inc. (SPI) before they were bought out by TSR was _ordered_ by the Army. _Firefight_ was intended as a simulation for warfare in Europe, to teach tactics to infantry and armor commanders. Within a number of simplifying abstractions, it modeled the weapons systems available to a unit commander in Germany. SPI later made this game available as part of their regular line. It soon became apparent that the game was not only useful for teaching tactics, it was also a device to build confidence and improve morale -- the way the rules and weapons systems data were set up, it was almost impossible for a Soviet player to pull anything better than a draw out of the game. The game mechanics were biased so that an American player could win by using the `right' tactics (`right' in the Army sense -- the approved Army tactics for a given situation), rather than encouraging the players to come up with their own tactics. >From the Army's point of view, it was a very good simulation. From the opinions expressed about it in the gaming community, it flopped miserably as a _game_. Sean Malloy, Navy Personnel Research & Development Cntr, San Diego CA 92152-6800
Thanks to Anthony Atkielski for providing information on privacy legislation in France. I hope that France's legislation closes some of the loopholes in U.S. privacy legislation. But it is worth pointing out that laws that may sound good on the books often do not translate into tough action. For instance, the Fair Credit Reporting Act (1971) specifies expiration periods, for bankruptcy data (14 years) and other adverse data (7 years), which is not well defined. Where legislation contains vague definitions, applying it may be left to the judgement of the agency being regulated. The FCRA also requires credit agencies to provide you with the data in their file about you, on request, and to allow you to correct it. Sounds good. But you can get such info. for free only after you have been denied credit on the basis of it. If you want to get the info. before you have a problem, it's not too expensive, but you'll have quite a time trying to find all the private organizations that maintain files about you. If you make a correction, there is no guarantee that it will be propogated to other files based on this one and to other organizations that obtained the false data previously. And if you lost something, such as a mortgage, because of false data, tough luck. The Privacy Act (1974) makes it easier for people to know about their files (in government agencies and the private organizations with which they do business). But publication of the existence of records is done in the Federal Register, which is not exactly handy. Agencies are restricted from releasing personal data to another agency without written permission of the person who provided the data, except for "routine" purposes. In 1979, the Office of Personnel Management released lots of its data to other agencies. What was the "routine" purpose? "To protect the legitimate interests of government." Similar definitions can be used to "justify" the collection of any sort of info. Atkielski thinks that individuals in France can insist that a credit bureau erase its file about themselves. But if society is structured so that many of the normal transactions of life depend on credit ratings, how real a "choice" do you have about participating? I wish much more of the burden were on the organizations that maintain (and, in many cases, profit from) data banks. I'd like to see organizations held responsible for notifying individuals directly about the existence of files about themselves; requesting permission from individuals every time info. is released; guaranteeing that corrections will be made and propogated quickly; assuming liability for losses based on false data; and so on.
[This was picked off the net in Australia, from "cbp", including and commenting on a letter from B L COOMBS. Lee] Software Warranties - The Truth [The Trade Practices Commission recently sent the following letter to 2000 Australian computer companies. Permission has been obtained from Ian Searle of the TPC to reproduce this letter here <
RISKS of EPROMSGeorge Sukenick <firstname.lastname@example.org> Mon, 10 Oct 88 15:35:08 EDT> RISKS of EPROMS (Daniel Klein) >The UV eraseable EPROMS that are found in many smaller computers are also >subject to failure when their picture is taken. Yep, you read that correctly. (Due to camera shy EPROMS? :-)) Electronic flashes draw a lot of current in a short time. The unshielded system might have been crashing due to EMP rather than light interfering with the EPROMs. I guess that the test would then be to see what happens with various combinations of covering the EPROM's windows (they were open in the machine?) and shielding the flash. -george
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