Critical Section

Archive: February 3, 2006

<<< February 2, 2006


February 4, 2006 >>>

file permissions

Friday,  02/03/06  07:01 PM

<rant superfluous=yes.

I have a question.  Have you ever used OS file permissions?

I have not.  Ever.

I have been programming for 30 years.  I have developed many sensitive and secure applications, including large financial transaction systems, online bill payment systems, internet financial services, and now medical imaging applications.  I have never used OS file permissions.  Ever.  Furthermore I am confident that I will never use them.

Every OS should have a checkbox at the admin/root level that says “I don’t want to use file permissions”.  That single thing would save hundreds thousands of hours of aggravation, trying to get file permissions out of the way so you can do something that would otherwise just work.  At least with Unix / Linux if you’re root you can chmod files and directories and there you are.  I always setup a way to get to root easily (sudo, syscmd) just for this purpose.  However with Windows the file permission story is much more complicated.  I often can’t figure it out, and have to resort to copying files, random editing of directory permissions, etc., in an effort just to get the file permissions out of the way.  MacOS is almost as obtuse as Windows, by the way.

Any application that actually needs file permissions probably can’t rely on the OS, anyway, because it is too hard to get them right.  Only simple things work for security, and file permissions are not simple.  I know of an application that stores all its data in ZIP files just because that way the password mechanism can be used to protect the data.  That’s pretty weird but it works, because it is simple.  Most “real” applications store data in a database, and the database provides the protection.  That can be complicated but not that complicated, so it also works.  File permissions at the OS level just don’t work.

So the moral of this story is that if you ever design an operating system, don’t have file permissions.  Thanks for listening.



Friday,  02/03/06  07:09 PM

Venus Express blasts offWow, I'd missed this.  Venus Express blasted off (last November).  "European-built spacecraft designed to explore the hot, dense atmosphere of Venus made contact with mission control after blasting off on its five-month journey to Earth’s neighbor, scientists said.  The European Space Agency’s unmanned Venus Express probe, which lifted off from the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, should take 163 days to reach Venus."  That's excellent.  Mark your calendars!

I'd saved this but haven't linked it:  In response to the challenges faced by the Space Shuttle, Xeni Jardin asked "what would Burt Rutan do?"  And then she got this answer: "One can argue that Rutan could make a design that could make orbit cheaply.  However, his building SS1 is not good evidence of that.  That is a completely different requirement requiring entirely different engineering.  A much harder and much more expensive requirement."  Exactly.  Which makes what Elon Musk is trying to do with SpaceX (launch next Wednesday, BTW) so impressive.  Check out the post for lots of hard numbers.

I guess we'll find out more when SS2 launches, followed by SS3.  "Orbital vehicle SpaceShipThree (SS3) will be developed by space tourism company Virgin Galactic and Mojave-based SpaceShipTwo (SS2)-developer Scaled Composites, if the planned SS2 suborbital service is successful, says Virgin Galactic president Will White­horn."  So be it.

Lance Armstrong and Sheryl Crow have split.  So be it.  I still love them both :)

Windows 1.01 screenshotO.M.G.  Screenshots from Windows 1.01.  Wow.  Brings back memories.  Good ones, oddly enough.

Penn JilletteSlate on Penn Jillette.  One of my very favorite entertainers, because he doesn't assume the audience are idiots, he assumes they aren't idiots.  And has fun anyway :)

Eric Raymond: The Cheesecake Factory Must Die.  "When some soulless android of a chain restaurant designer willfully perverts the meaning of 'traditional' so he can sell dreck to the ignorant with the illusion that said dreck is just like what his Yiddish grandma made, that’s where I reach my limit."

Continuous partial attention.  Say what?  (Are you paying attention :)  Yes, this is a meme of the moment, to which people are paying some portion of their attention.  Somewhat related to attenuation: "Any time you have to make a choice about anything is a time when you need to attenuate, and maybe you could externalize that method of choice into the system itself; any time there's too much complexity to be understood immediately is a time when time-based attenuation can help."  Riiight.  Clive Thompson tries to clarify; "Can anyone find a way to make your constantly beeping computer leave you alone and let you work?  Inside the nascent field of interruption science."  There is something to this; I find excluding external interrupts so I can concentrate is crucial.

Ottmar's sunsetOttmar: contemplationTonight's sunset is courtesy of Ottmar Liebert (at left, click for bigger pic).  Awesome!  Puts me very much in mind of the artwork at right (click for bigger pic), entitled "contemplation", which Ottmar received from a viewer.  That could be him, composing a haunting ode to the sunset...



Large Hadron Collider

Friday,  02/03/06  08:01 PM

This is so cool: a QTVR of the Large Hadron Collider under construction at CERN (click image to launch):

Large Hadron Collider

I love "big science".  [ via Xeni Jardin ]



Return to the archive.

About Me

Greatest Hits
Correlation vs. Causality
The Tyranny of Email
Unnatural Selection
Aperio's Mission = Automating Pathology
On Blame
Try, or Try Not
Books and Wine
Emergent Properties
God and Beauty
Moving Mount Fuji The Nest Rock 'n Roll
IQ and Populations
Are You a Bright?
Adding Value
The Joy of Craftsmanship
The Emperor's New Code
Toy Story
The Return of the King
Religion vs IQ
In the Wet
the big day
solving bongard problems
visiting Titan
unintelligent design
the nuclear option
estimating in meatspace
second gear
On the Persistence of Bad Design...
Texas chili cookoff
almost famous design and stochastic debugging
may I take your order?
universal healthcare
triple double
New Yorker covers
Death Rider! (da da dum)
how did I get here (Mt.Whitney)?
the Law of Significance
Holiday Inn
Daniel Jacoby's photographs
the first bird
Gödel Escher Bach: Birthday Cantatatata
Father's Day (in pictures)
your cat for my car
Jobsnotes of note
world population map
no joy in Baker
vote smart
exact nonsense
introducing eyesFinder
to space
where are the desktop apps?