Saturday, November 13, 2010

Android experimental "Trojan" angry birds add-on

This was only an exercise in proof on the part of the researcher, but I'm afraid this marks the beginning of the end for android. Note where this story is, and it closes with "buy F-secure's crappy antivirus software for your android handset". All the vendors are pushing hard, just ask Graham Clueley from Sophos, who pops up all the bloody time regarding mobile security issues.

Those nifty 1GHz snapdragons are going to seem pretty crappy when antivirus gets in there. Stick with platforms which don't allow unsigned code to be installed BY DESIGN - why did google leave that backdoor in there? Idiots!!

Btw another rehearsal on the 29th, and the cheese keeps on coming. New strings for the Tobias I think.

Airbus jets - not the A380 oil leaks, something worse... Software?

Something caught my eye yesterday. My day job is in software, mainly in testing. Anyone who will listen to my droning on this subject will know I have huge worries about the reliance we place now, and will in the future, on embedded software systems (e.g. Google's recent trials of a driverless car in California).

It seems airbus has more than mechanical troubles (recent A380 oil fire and the rather journalist friendly shots of bits of engine cowling). Mechanical issues don't worry me enormously as they get fixed (this is a very rare error on Rolls Royce's part), but what is happening to some A320 series airlines worries me enormously.

Now, it could be electrical, but the idea that at any point cockpit systems, including computers, might just "wink out" scares the living daylights out of me. These planes are exclusively fly by wire. Do they have manual backups? And even if they do, do the pilots still have the skills to pilot a plane whose aerodynamic profile is at least partly compensated for by auto stabilization systems? God, I hope so.

If it's software, it would feed into my software engineer tinfoil hat paranoia about software in everyday life; I'm perilously close to choosing the devices I use and rely on by their reliance on embedded software and not upgrading where possible. I'm starting to think I should get a pre-1974 car, a very old washing machine, and extremely cheap TV... Where could it end?

We don't fly often, which is a comfort, and I'm actively considering next summer as an exercise in what can be done without using modern airliners.

Human beings are human, they get bored and lazy. Software project managers are stressed and driven by gantt charts. Software engineers are at the bottom of the heap. Software test engineers are at the end of the project (and usually that gets squeezed so hard the testing is compromised).

All this makes me think that increasingly complex software (and it's usually just enhancements of existing software, they rarely do rewrites, too expensive, so it's patching and extension all the way, baby) will lead to higher failure rates in devices which use software as control systems, and it doesn't get more critical than airliners.

Watch the skies, and wear rollerskates.

Saturday, November 06, 2010

First rehearsal in a while... Oh yep.

Well, the function band thing has kicked off. The exploratory operation on 2/11/2010 turned out to be in a surreal location - the main hall area of a preschool in caversham! I was cranking it out surrounded by painted lizard cut outs on the Walls (one of which was labelled "tortoise" - education education education eh?).

Ts been a while since I did any serious live playing so it's fair to say I was worried about levels of preparedness. I didn't do as much work on the tracks as I wanted to, but I figured this was a get together to see what our dynamic would be like.

After about an hour I'd loosened up a lot: things started to flow a little. Then I realised I was dancing while I played and my face was sore. From smiling. Grinning, actually. This is what I was made for: the interplay, the vibe, the groove, the good feeling, the drummer and me tearing the roof off.

It was a little rough at the edges like you'd expect, and I don't have the tones ready on the pod yet, plus I took the synth with me and didn't use it (not sure if I need it yet - I could do the brass into on celebration I guess!), but it was simply glorious.

I lit up like a dusty bulb after the pullcord ping. Can't wait to dig into the tracks properly now, get them bang on so I don't fall into my Jaco habits when overplaying! I tend to bubble a bit.

People, live music is a joy everybody should experience. Go out there, do it now.