MOTD::Archive::Fall 1998 (31 December 1998)

Summer 1998 MOTD

The person heading up the city of Gilbert's Y2K effort is equally concerned about what's going to happen on 09 Sep 99. This date could be represented as the value 9999, which in turn is used as a "sentinel" value to terminate (or even worse abort) some programs. This is the first I've heard about this problem. [15 Dec 1998]

Here are few items to note:
  • Anjali Sood (csc200 and csc260) is the winner of the "hello, world" contest. Congratulations to Anjali and thanks to the eight of you that participated.

  • I learned a new word from this morning's business section of the AZ Republic:
    Ohnosecond  is that minuscule fraction of time in which you realize that you've just made a BIG mistake.
  • I'm in the process of porting my website to my office computer. Although the port is not finished, the new version of my website is usable. The websites for my Spring courses are being initialized; the Y2K Digest is in place; I'm posting to my Internet Observer (this is new); C/C++ resources, Java resources, Internet resources; and, my book reviews, interviews and newsletters. You can visit my server by pointing your browser to
[14 Dec 1998]

Thanks to Kevin Masaryk (csc200 alumni and major Linux fan) for the link to the User Friendly by Illiad comic strip (it's cute). (Note: since I'm editing this file, the American Red Cross has posted a Y2K related webpage. Visit my Y2K Digest for details and a link.) [09 Dec 1998]

Mitnick Trial Postponed Again The long-awaited trial of Kevin Mitnick, the accused computer hacker indicted on 25 counts of "stealing, copying, and misappropriating proprietary computer software" from a number of cellular and computer companies, has been postponed until April 20 after Mitnick's lawyer asked for more time to prepare his case. The trial was slated to begin on January 19. Mitnick has been in jail in Los Angeles awaiting trial since February 1995. (Los Angeles Times 4 Dec 98) [06 Dec 1998].

The last free book contest of the year is now available. This is not a "timed" contest -- you have until noon on 11-Dec-1998 to get it completed. Good luck! [05 Dec 1998]

The C Programming Language by Brian Kernighan and Dennis Ritchie is a classic and should be the property of every programmer (dead and alive). The book has been translated into many languages (e.g. Chinese, Hebrew, Spanish, and so on). Take a peek at the cover art that was used on these books. (Hint: once you get there, scroll to the bottom of the page and move your mouse over a book to see what country it is for.) [04 Dec 1998]

60 Minutes on Sunday will air a Y2K show saying some folks expect serious problems. Programmers-turned-survivalists will be profiled. [26 Nov 1998]

Need something to be thankful for?  The semester ends in three weeks!
Happy Thanksgiving!

If you are interested in Year 2000 (Y2K) stuff, then checkout my Y2K Digest that was added to the website on 16 Nov 1998.

IT (Information Technology) Workers
Would Rather Switch
A survey from George Mason University indicates that information technology workers are almost twice as likely as the general college-educated population to switch careers, with one in three anticipating doing so in the future. The survey polled 400 college graduates between the ages of 30 and 55 who are currently employed and have been out of school at least 10 years. Half of the respondents said they had already experienced one career change since college, and 40% reported at least two. Forty percent of IT workers said if they were starting over, they would study something different as undergraduates, with most of them citing the liberal arts.  "The results suggest that employees are more restless than in the past and that companies, especially in the critically short-staffed high-tech industries, may want to take a hard look at their retention efforts,"  says Alan Merten, president of GMU. (CIO 1 Nov 98 [17 Nov 1998])

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Attention Students: Get Your Degree
as per Bill Gates.
On 05 Nov 1998, Bill Gates wrote an article for the New York Times Syndicate strongly suggesting that students get a degree. Although Gates dropped out of school (college, not high school) and became one of the world's richest men, he doesn't recommend anybody try to follow in his footsteps (and I agree with him). Here is a quote from the article:   "My basic advice is simple and heartfelt: Get the best education you can. Take advantage of high school and college. Learn how to learn."  [10 Nov 1998] is an excellent website devoted to computer security and hacking. It is full of many interesting articles. Late October, the  website was compromised and here are some details. [06 Nov 1998]

Read this interesting memo
@ Open Source Software
An internal Microsoft memo written by one of that company's software engineers indicates that Microsoft is concerned with developing strategies for competing against free programs that have been gaining popularity with software developers, such as the operating system Linux. The memorandum warns that the usual Microsoft marketing strategy known as FUD (an acronym for fear, uncertainty, and doubt) won't work against developers of free software, who are part of the O.S.S. (open-source software) movement that makes source code readily available to anyone for improvement and testing. The memo says:   "The ability of the O.S.S. process to collect and harness the collective I.Q. of thousands of individuals across the Internet is simply amazing. More importantly, O.S.S. evangelization scales with the size of the Internet much faster than our own evangelization efforts appear to scale."  (03 Nov 1998, NY Times) [3 Nov 1998]

Happy Halloween! [30 Oct 1998] dripping blood

We all owe Jason Inman (csc210 @ SCC) a big pat on the back for opening our eyes with respect to the nasty 100GB problem that is rapidly approaching us. The 100GB problem makes the Y2K problem seem trivial. Thanks Jason! [27 Oct 1998]

The RISKS Digest RISKS (a moderated equivalent of the comp.risks Usenet group) is a forum on risks to the public in computers and related systems. It is amazing the problems that people experience day in and day out because of computers. Here is a recent example of a RISKS posting:
	According to the 16 Oct *Wall Street Journal*, a trader at a French futures
	exchange accidentally leaned on his keyboard.  Without realizing it, he
	placed an order to sell 14,500 government bond contracts, which caused the
	price to drop.  His firm ended up losing several million dollars.
So... if you delete an important file or your computer bites the dust, stay cool and take comfort in knowing that you are not alone when it comes to being frustrated by a stupid machine. [22 Oct 1998]

CSC Tutors Available!!!    Bob Blakeley and Tom Remaklus have been hired as CSC tutors. Bob has taken CSC100 and CSC200 and is currently taking CSC260. Tom is currently taking CSC210 and he has successfully completed both CSC100 and CSC200. All CSC100, CSC150, CSC200 students can seek help from either Bob or Tom via email. Their respective email addresses are:    and [21 Oct 1998]

Prisoners Await Y2K Day Among the more outlandish scenarios envisioned by Year 2000 doomsayers is that the millennium bug will crash prison security systems and open the razor-wire gates, setting loose untold numbers of violent and dangerous offenders. Or, prison records get hosed resulting the premature release of prisoners. For more, see the following article from Wired News. [18 Oct 1998]

Hey, hey, I found another link to that cute animated Y2K cartoon.

Win 2 Free Books!!!

And the winner is...

During the last year and a half, SCC has received a couple of emails that are worthy of framing. I have provided links to these email messages in my MOTDs. Your mission consists of two parts -- they are:
  1. Search my MOTDs and find these two special emails. (hint: you may have to look at MOTDs from prior semesters)
  2. Search my Internet Observer and find Tim Berner-Lee's comments about the current state of the Web
If your searches are successful, then send an email to formatted as follows:
   The "Subject" should read:  special people

   The "body" of the email should contain the following content:

      On mm/dd/yy email received from ???.
      ??? is __________________________________.

      On mm/dd/yy email received from ???.
      ??? is __________________________________.

      Tim Berners-Lee thinks the web is still too _______ and _________.

NetAction @ is a national, non-profit organization dedicated to educating the public, policymakers, and the media about technology-based social and political issues. Microsoft bothers this organization a lot (I can't image why) -- read on:

Red Rock Eater News Service [09 Oct 1998]
Early last month, the state of Texas agreed to pay Microsoft $6.3 million to distribute a full Microsoft Office software package to every University of Texas student at the subsidized price of $5 per student. Few students are likely to pay the full price for any competitor's package. De facto, the Texas state government has just handed Microsoft a monopoly over software in the state's university system.

This follows a deal last Spring by the Indiana University system for a similar Microsoft-only deal for their students, a broad Microsoft-only deal agreed to this summer for most of Pennsylvania's state government, the failed attempt last year by the California State University system to adopt a Microsoft-only software deal, and numerous campus-by-campus deals where state government has given Microsoft mini-monopolies.

For more information about this stuff see the following:

Let Students Decide What Software to Buy!
Microsoft Goes to College: The Education Software Market and Microsoft's Expanding Monopoly

Visit an Internet end-point.

Here are a few tidbits for the week just ended (or the week just starting -- your choice) [03-Oct-1998]:

Marc Andreesen, the creator of Netscape, was recently quoted saying the if he was to start a company today, it would not be a software company, but instead it would be an Internet Server Provider (ISP). I guess he is not alone. Are you in need of an ISP? If you are, then take a look at [I learned about this website from the Oct-98 issue of "Communications of the ACM" (of all places). And, just in case you don't know, David Bowie is a rock star.]

Be sure to visit the comp.lang.c++ Usenet news group and checkout the discussion on coding standards. Numerous postings have been made by Andrew Koenig and Pete Becker. This particular thread of discussion is the best Usenet stuff I've seen in a long time.

The October issue of the SCC CSC Newsletter will be distributed the week of 05 Oct 1998. The newsletter contains a link to an interview with ASU CSE/CS majors.

I found these links while preparing for the Unix class. [27 Sep 1998]
Talk about striking gold -- here are a couple nuggets for you!
The Development of the C Programming Language is a paper by Dennis Ritchie that was presented at the Second History of Programming Languages conference, Cambridge, Mass., April, 1993.

Writings from the Past are some old notes that Dennis Ritchie has been able to restore from those early days of Unix development.

Thanks to Jerry Fewell (csc260 fall '97 @ MCC) for this cute animated cartoon concerning the Y2K problem. <== Oops! This link is currently broken![24 Sep 1998] Oh well, thanks to Don Parks (csc185 fall '98 @ MCC) who provided me with a link to this Y2K countdown webpage. [26 Sep 1998]
We have a winner! Chris Ring @ SCC
The first MCC or SCC student to send me an email with the  Subject: Orange backgrounds suck!  will get a FREE book. (Structured and Object-Oriented Techniques: An Introduction Using C++, Prentice-Hall, 1997) [19 Sep 1998]

It has been a while since I've added a link to my C and C++ Links webpage, but the C++ FAQ Lite is an excellent resource that cannot be ignored. [19 Sep 1998] Thanks to Kevin Masaryk (csc200 spring '98 @ SCC) for this link. For Linux information be sure to visit Kevin's The Linux Philes website.
Free PCs coming soon? Marc Andreesen, the primary creator of the Mosiac browser (now known as Netscape), predicts that in the near future PCs will be available for free (I'll take one! What the heck, give me two!).

Andreesen also predicted the "death of the consumer software industry" as more programs become free over the Internet. Question:  Does that mean we are wasting our time learning how to write programs? [19 Sep 1998]

In my Internet class, we are always looking at reports that discuss the growing popularity of the Internet. Most of these reports are in the form of statistics and the data must always be taken "with-a-grain-of-salt." Here is an Internet related survey that provides strong evidence as to the Net's popularity [13 Sep 1998]:
A survey of 1,200 students at 100 colleges and universities nationwide, conducted by research firm Student Monitor LLC, shows that when asked what was "in" on campus, 72.5% of the respondents answered "the Internet," whereas only 70.8% named "drinking beer." Up until now, beer-drinking has held the top spot since the bi-annual surveys began in 1988. [Information Week 31 Aug 1998]

On 03 Sep 1998 the Arizona Republic Community Section for the Southeast Valley contained an opinion titled:  "College education: Why even bother?"  Well... given my BIG mouth, I just had to make a comment. Here is a copy of the response that I sent to the AZ Republic. [06 Sep 1998]

I teach my classes that the food of the programmer is the Snickers bar, but the Techie cuisine: Pop-tarts and poutine? article from  TechWeek  magazine indicates that programmers live on more than just Snickers ( hungry?) [28 Aug 1998]
Audree Thurman is a software professional with 16+ years of experience and she was a residential faculty member at MCC for three years. Here is an interview that I did with her. [25 Aug 1998]

NAU 1998-1999 Computer Science Engineering Transfer Guide is available for those of you who are thinking about majoring in computer science at Northern Arizona University. In a nutshell, CSC150 or CSC200, CSC210, and CSC120 transfer to NAU (there are also MAT, PHY, CHM, ECE courses that transfer). [19 Aug 1998]
Wow! Email security problems galore -- first Microsoft and Netscape followed by Eudora -- they all appear to be suffering buffer overflow problems. For those of you familiar with the STDC library, functions such as  strcpy() ,  sprintf() , and  gets()  (just to name a few) could be responsible for some of these problems. [11 Aug 1998] [ see CIAC for more details]

I got this information from the 26-July issue of  NetSurfer Digest  :
Bruce Schneier, author of one of the most authoritative books on modern cryptography, has launched a free newsletter "providing summaries, analyses, insights, and commentaries on cryptography and computer security." The two online issues are full of good crypto related links of interest to both professionals and amateurs.

I'm baaaaack... Prior to the start of the Fall '98 semester, I am going to do a re-structuring of my website. As a result, any bookmarks you may have to any of my stuff will probably be broken. I will try to re-direct when possible, but don't count on it. [03 Aug 1998]

I'm off to Mission Beach for a week of vacation. You can't beat being on the ocean in S. California during summer -- it's great! Now, where did I put those boogie boards... [24 Jul 1998]