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Showing posts from May, 2008

Get ready to spew your morning coffee...

...onto your computer monitor and keyboard. Literally.

Following hot on the heels of the "Perl is a terrible language" post comes the reason why I had to re-learn Perl in the first place.

I just barely released MyProBB 2.3. It took nearly two months to get this release ready. 1.4 months of that 2 months consisted of writing a single plugin for the forum. What follows is the shamelessly copied portion of text from the MyProBB 2.3 announcement post:

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[This plugin is] perhaps the best little gem to hit the Internet since AJAX-driven websites, er, Google...

The Official Instant Message plugin. Yup. That's right. I single-handedly hold the distinction of having the first web software package that sends Instant Messages. I hold the distinction of being the first to send IMs to five major IM networks from a web forum. I also hold the distinction of having the only web forum software package that sends real Instant Messages. I even hold the distinctions of having the m…

Perl is a terrible language

Every time I go to use Perl, I end up having to re-learn it entirely from the ground up. That is how bad the language is. Most languages I can come back and look at some code and say, "Oh, I remember what that does." Not Perl. Perl is the only language I've ever used that I come back to the code and say, "Huh? What in the world did I do there?" And then as I read yet another Perl tutorial (how many do we really need?) to re-learn Perl for the zillionth time (okay, more like 25 times), I say, "Good grief. This language is terrible."

Plus Perl has these weirdly named modules and sticks everything, and I mean everything in the global namespace. Including variables you define inside a function. Perl is the only language I know of where, if you forget to use the word 'my' before using a variable for the first time, it royally messes up the entire script execution and takes hours to diagnose.

Additionally, every last Perl module reeks to high…

Sins of improper website operation

People who run websites are generally clueless about securing their websites. What follows is a short list of "seven sins" (I know...a cliché) that are committed by those who operate a website that use a dynamic backend scripting language (PHP, Perl, etc.):

1) Installing third-party components without first reviewing them for how well-written they are, if they have had major security vulnerabilities and/or exploits in the past 12 months, how well defended against automated scripts they are, and how well each component defends itself from known and unknown exploits. If you don't know how to do this, then employ the services of a security expert.

2) Not upgrading components the same day an upgrade becomes publicly available. PHP, MySQL, third-party components, etc. All major releases typically have fixes for security vulnerabilities. And most releases likely already have exploits for those vulnerabilities floating around in the wild. Security firms track both the vulnerabili…

The day of the first mandated rolling blackout

Fossil fuels are important to programmers. We use computers which rely on electricity which rely on power plants which rely on transportation which rely on fossil fuels. When we run out of fossil fuels is the first day you won't be able to turn on your computer. Or much of anything else. I try to avoid doom-and-gloom in general but this is something that has been on my mind for a while. Basically, if we do nothing, all we will be able to say is, "Well, it was fun while it lasted." So, what should we do? Let's start with automobiles. The biggest consumer of fossil fuel/oil. I'm going to go for a myth vs fact approach here.

Myth: We have many, many years left before we run out of fossil fuels.
Fact: Nope. We've got maybe 30 years left. If even that. Some very conservative figures state 15 years before the first mandated rolling blackout. 30 years would be entertaining for sure - the magical year "2038" should ring some bells. You know - when all 3…

Google CAPTCHA broken

CAPTCHAs are those annoying little images that we have to use now to stop spammers from creating free e-mail accounts on the Internet. GMail, for several years now, has been considered a "safe haven" free e-mail address site where only manual signups were possible. This was made possible via their own homegrown CAPTCHA technology. But now it has been broken:

Article on The Register

Google actually uses its own CAPTCHA technology across multiple sites. For instance, Blogger requires filling out a CAPTCHA when posting comments to blog entries or having an account, which, unfortunately, uses the Google CAPTCHA.

What triggered this post is something I heard combined with a recent comment on an older blog posting.

At the top of every blog on Blogger is a little "Flag This Blog" button. I suspect that if enough people click that, it causes Blogger to declare the blog spam. Or at least it factors in. It could also include sudden bursts in traffic and maybe actual analy…