Friday, September 21, 2007

Prenuptial Agreement

A secretary for a foreign embassy was entertaining a wealthy foreign ambassador during lunch at a very expensive restaurant in New York.

The ambassador was so enthralled by the beauty and presence of this secretary that he asked her to marry him. The secretary was startled, but remembered that her boss told her never to insult foreign dignitaries, so she decided to let him down easy.

"I'll only marry you under three conditions."

"Anything, anything," said the ambassador.

"First, you must buy me a 14-karat gold wedding band with a 72 carat diamond, along with a 28-inch studded matching necklace for our engagement."

Without hesitation, the ambassador picked up his cellular phone, called his personal accountant, told him the instructions, and said, "Yes, yes, I buy, I buy!"

The secretary thought that her first request was too easy, so she thought of a more difficult situation.

"Second, I want you to build me a 58-acre mansion in the richest part of the Hamptons along with a 40-acre summer home in the sweetest vineyards of France."

The ambassador picked up his phone, called his personal broker in New York, then called another broker in France, and after his quick conversation, he said, "Yes, yes, I build, I build!"

The secretary was very startled, and knew she must think of a final request that would be impossible to live up to.

"Finally," she said. "I'll only marry you if you have a 10-inch penis."

A sad face befell the ambassador, and he cupped his face in his hands. After weeping in his native language for a few minutes, the ambassador slowly lifted his head and said, "Ok, ok, I cut, I cut!"

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Creators admit UNIX, C Hoax

I hope this is just another 1st April prank.

In an announcement that has stunned the computer industry, Ken Thompson, Dennis Ritchie and Brian Kernighan admitted that the Unix operating system and C programming language created by them is an elaborate April Fools prank kept alive for over 20 years. Speaking at the recent UnixWorld Software Development Forum, Thompson revealed the following:

"In 1969, AT&T had just terminated their work with the GE/Honeywell/AT&T Multics project. Brian and I had just started working with an early release of Pascal from Professor Nicklaus Wirth's ETH labs in Switzerland and we were impressed with its elegant simplicity and power. Dennis had just finished reading `Bored of the Rings', a hilarious National Lampoon parody of the great Tolkien `Lord of the Rings' trilogy. As a lark, we decided to do parodies of the Multics environment and Pascal. Dennis and I were responsible for the operating environment. We looked at Multics and designed the new system to be as complex and cryptic as possible to maximize casual users' frustration levels, calling it Unix as a parody of Multics, as well as other more risque allusions. Then Dennis and Brian worked on a truly warped version of Pascal, called `A'. When we found others were actually trying to create real programs with A, we quickly added additional cryptic features and evolved into B, BCPL and finally C. We stopped when we got a clean compile on the following syntax:

for(;P(" "),R-;P("|"))for(e=C;e-;P("_"+(*u++/8)%2))P("| "+(*u/4)%2);

To think that modern programmers would try to use a language that allowed such a statement was beyond our comprehension! We actually thought of selling this to the Soviets to set their computer science progress back 20 or more years. Imagine our surprise when AT&T and other US corporations actually began trying to use Unix and C! It has taken them 20 years to develop enough expertise to generate even marginally useful applications using this 1960's technological parody, but we are impressed with the tenacity (if not common sense) of the general Unix and C programmer. In any event, Brian, Dennis and I have been working exclusively in Pascal on the Apple Macintosh for the past few years and feel really guilty about the chaos, confusion and truly bad programming that have resulted from our silly prank so long ago."

Major Unix and C vendors and customers, including AT&T, Microsoft, Hewlett-Packard, GTE, NCR, and DEC have refused comment at this time. Borland International, a leading vendor of Pascal and C tools, including the popular Turbo Pascal, Turbo C and Turbo C++, stated they had suspected this for a number of years and would continue to enhance their Pascal products and halt further efforts to develop C. An IBM spokesman broke into uncontrolled laughter and had to postpone a hastily convened news conference concerning the fate of the RS-6000, merely stating `VM will be available Real Soon Now'. In a cryptic statement, Professor Wirth of the ETH institute and father of the Pascal, Modula 2 and Oberon structured languages, merely stated that P. T. Barnum was correct.

In a related late-breaking story, usually reliable sources are stating that a similar confession may be forthcoming from William Gates concerning the MS-DOS and Windows operating environments. And IBM spokesman have begun denying that the Virtual Machine (VM) product is an internal prank gone awry.
Computerworld 1 April
contributed by Bernard L. Hayes

Direct link to this joke is

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

If computer languages were car!

If computer languages were car!

* C is a racing car that goes incredibly fast but breaks down every fifty miles.

* C++ is a souped-up racing car with dozens of extra features that only breaks down every 250 miles, but when it does, nobody can figure out what went wrong.

* Java is a family station wagon. It's easy to drive, it's not that fast, and nobody wants to drive it.

* C# is a competing model of family station wagons. Once you use this, you're never allowed to use the competitors' products again.

* Perl is supposed to be a pretty cool car, but the driver's manual is incomprehensible. Also, even if you can figure out how to drive a perl car, you won't be able to drive anyone else's.

* Python is a great beginner's car; you can drive it without a license. Unless you want to drive really fast or on really treacherous terrain, you may never need another car.

* Ruby is a car that was formed when the Perl, Python and Smalltalk cars were involved in a three-way collision. A Japanese mechanic found the pieces and put together a car which many people think was better than the sum of the parts.

* Fortran is a pretty primitive car; it'll go very quickly as long as you are only going along roads that are perfectly straight. It is believed that learning to drive a Fortran car makes it impossible to learn to drive any other model.

* Cobol is reputed to be a car, but no self-respecting driver will ever admit having driven one.

* Assembly Language is a bare engine; you have to build the car yourself and manually supply it with gas while it's running, but if you're careful it can go like a bat out of hell.

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Prank starts 25 years of security woes

NEW YORK - What began as a ninth-grade prank, a way to trick already-suspicious friends who had fallen for his earlier practical jokes, has earned Rich Skrenta notoriety as the first person ever to let loose a personal computer virus.

Although over the next 25 years, Skrenta started the online news business Topix, helped launch a collaborative Web directory now owned by Time Warner Inc.'s Netscape and wrote countless other computer programs, he is still remembered most for unleashing the "Elk Cloner" virus on the world.

"It was some dumb little practical joke," Skrenta, now 40, said in an interview. "I guess if you had to pick between being known for this and not being known for anything, I'd rather be known for this. But it's an odd placeholder for (all that) I've done."

"Elk Cloner" — self-replicating like all other viruses — bears little resemblance to the malicious programs of today. Yet in retrospect, it was a harbinger of all the security headaches that would only grow as more people got computers — and connected them with one another over the Internet.

Skrenta's friends were already distrusting him because, in swapping computer games and other software as part of piracy circles common at the time, Skrenta often altered the floppy disks he gave out to launch taunting on-screen messages. Many friends simply started refusing disks from him.

So during a winter break from the Mt. Lebanon Senior High School near Pittsburgh, Skrenta hacked away on his Apple II computer — the dominant personal computer then — and figured out how to get the code to launch those messages onto disks automatically.

He developed what is now known as a "boot sector" virus. When it boots, or starts up, an infected disk places a copy of the virus in the computer's memory. Whenever someone inserts a clean disk into the machine and types the command "catalog" for a list of files, a copy gets written onto that disk as well. The newly infected disk is passed on to other people, other machines and other locations.

The prank, though annoying to victims, is relatively harmless compared with the viruses of today. Every 50th time someone booted an infected disk, a poem he wrote would appear, saying in part, "It will get on all your disks; it will infiltrate your chips."

Skrenta started circulating the virus in early 1982 among friends at his school and at a local computer club. Years later, he would continue to hear stories of other victims, including a sailor during the first Gulf War nearly a decade later (Why that sailor was still using an Apple II, Skrenta does not know).

These days, there are hundreds of thousands of viruses — perhaps more than a million depending on how one counts slight variations.

The first virus to hit computers running Microsoft Corp.'s operating system came in 1986, when two brothers in Pakistan wrote a boot sector program now dubbed "Brain" — purportedly to punish people who spread pirated software. Although the virus didn't cause serious damage, it displayed the phone number of the brothers' computer shop for repairs.

With the growth of the Internet came a new way to spread viruses: e-mail.

"Melissa" (1999), "Love Bug" (2000) and "SoBig" (2003) were among a slew of fast-moving threats that snarled millions of computers worldwide by tricking people into clicking on e-mail attachments and launching a program that automatically sent copies to other victims.

Although some of the early viruses overwhelmed networks, later ones corrupted documents or had other destructive properties.

Compared with the early threats, "the underlying technology is very similar (but) the things viruses can do once they get hold of the computer has changed dramatically," said Richard Ford, a computer science professor at the Florida Institute of Technology.

Later viruses spread through instant-messaging and file-sharing software, while others circulated faster than ever by exploiting flaws in Windows networking functions.

More recently, viruses have been created to steal personal data such as passwords or to create relay stations for making junk e-mail more difficult to trace.

Suddenly, though, viruses weren't spreading as quickly. Virus writers now motivated by profit rather than notoriety are trying to stay low-key, lest their creations get detected and removed, along with their mechanism for income.

Many of the recent malicious programs technically aren't even viruses, because they don't self-replicate, but users can easily get infected by visiting a rogue Web site that takes advantage of any number of security vulnerabilities in computer software.

Although worldwide outbreaks aren't as common these days, "believe it or not there's exponentially more malware today than there ever was," said Dave Marcus, a research manager for McAfee Inc.'s Avert Labs. "We find 150 to 175 new pieces of malware every single day. Five years ago, it would have been maybe 100 new pieces a week."

Symantec Corp. formed the same year Skrenta unleashed "Elk Cloner," but it dabbled in non-security software before releasing an anti-virus product for Apple's Macintosh in 1989. Today, security-related hardware, software and services represent a $38 billion industry worldwide, a figure IDC projects will reach $67 billion in 2010.

Even as corporations and Internet service providers step up their defenses, though, virus writers look to emerging platforms, including mobile devices and Web-based services like social-networking sites.

"Malware writers can't assume you are on PCs or won't want to limit themselves to that," said Dave Cole, Symantec's director of security response.

That's not to say Skrenta should get the blame anytime someone gets spam sent through a virus-enabled relay or finds a computer slow to boot because of a lingering pest. After all, there no evidence virus writers who followed even knew of Skrenta or his craft.

Fred Cohen, a security expert who wrote his Ph.D. dissertation in 1986 on computer viruses, said the conditions were right, and with more and more homes getting computers, "it was all a matter of time before this happened."

In fact, a number of viruses preceded "Elk Cloner," although they were experimental or limited in scope. Many consider Skrenta's the first true virus because it spread in the wild on the dominant home computers of its day.

"You had other people even at the time saying, `We had this idea, we even coded it up, but we thought it was awful and we never released it,'" said Skrenta, who is now heading Blekko Inc., a month-old startup still working in stealth mode.

And where was his restraint?

Skrenta replied: "I was in the ninth grade."