About Me

I ramble about a number of things - but travel experiences, movies and music feature prominently. See my label cloud for a better idea. All comnments and opinions on this blog are my own, and do not in any way reflect the opinions/position of my employer (past/current/future).

30 March 2013

Software Fragmentation

Software version fragmentation refers to the disparate versions of software installed across the user/install base. Fragmentation occurs primarily because the end user does not update or patch their applicable software to the latest version. Fragmentation has been in the popular news lately - firstly with regards to mobile operating systems (where Apple's iOS is probably the least fragmented mass used software platform, and Android seems to be heading the opposite direction); and secondly on Java virtual machines (which is actually under reported, as most reports only cover the PC based JVMs, and not the other JVMs out there, such as mobile JVM or embedded JVM; not to mention the non SUN/Oracle JVMs).

Not being on the latest version is not necessarily a problem - the recent JVM vulnerability was most widely exploited on the latest versions. Likewise, there are now very few exploited vulnerabilities on deprecated Microsoft operating systems, such as Windows 2000 - and there are many of those out there. But for the majority of cases, not being on the latest version implies that there are potentially vulnerabilities that can be exploited in the software.

While operating system and JVM fragmentation is discussed quire frequently, fragmentation in common applications is, I think, a bigger problem. Consider Adobe Acrobat Reader - the latest version is 11.0.2, but how many users are actually on this version? How many are on version 9 or earlier? In an investigation I did for a client earlier this year, less than 0.5% of the install base for either Adobe Reader or Adobe Flash were on the latest versions - and over 50% of the install base was at least 2 versions behind. Not to mention, that some really old versions of the software existed across the user base.

The problem with keeping software up-to date is that it seems to be incredible difficult on a large scale. It is not that there are no auto-updates - but there are lingering problems with dependencies (updating the JVM requires all applications that run on the JVM to also work, or integration of applications like Adobe Reader and Flash in other applications); and some users just don't update. There are other mitigations, such as Host IPS, but there is not a lot of widespread usage of these technologies. 

It seems that the platforms that have managed to get the least fragmentation, are the tightly controlled and integrated platforms - that connect to the Internet, and offer updates easily. Is the Apple, X-Box, Playstation model the way of the future?

29 March 2013

Cirque du Soleil - Dralion

I first saw Circue du Soleil on TV about 10 years ago. At the time, I wasn't that impressed - after all it seemed more like a variety arts show with fancy costumes and some choreographed acrobatics. So, when P suggested we go to the Dralion show, touring South Africa, I wasn't overly enthusiastic.

TV and even video doesn't really do the Cirque du Soleil show justice. Each of the individual acts within the show - from the aerial hoops, to the juggling to the trampoline - are all in the standard circus repertoire. However, each of the acts seem to push the boundary for each discipline to, sometimes unbelievable, levels. The trampoline is an easy example in this regard - it was not only the standard acrobatic skills showcased in the trampoline, but the performers themselves were seemingly effortlessly scaling walls and jumping over tall structures. Likewise, in every act, there was something jaw-droppingly different/insane that made these acrobatic endeavours standout.

And the circus acrobatics are encased with clowns (which I do think got a bit tiring at times), amazing costumes and live musical performances. All these put together, this makes it a special type of circus and far more interesting than what I saw once on TV. I have been to a number of circus/acrobatic shows across many countries - Cirque du Soleil is certainly something special.

27 March 2013

Movie: Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters

As Lincoln's credits were rolling, M commented that we needed to watch another light hearted, frivolous movie to make up for the heavy atmosphere of Lincoln. So, Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters, on its last week in South Africa was the selected frivolous movie. The movie has a poor script, nothing spectacular in its acting and mundane dialogue. That said, the concept of taking a classic fairly tale, and turning it into a steam-punk revenge story is cool, with some spectacular make-up and costumes - especially for the witches. It was a great, frivolous action movie - exactly what was needed :)

24 March 2013

Movie: Lincoln

Daniel Day-Lewis' gives such a commanding performance as Abraham Lincoln, he effectively makes the viewer forget that this is an actor, playing a role. As a movie about one of the most significant events in history - abolishment of slavery in the United States - it brings forward the amazing nuances of the actual event - the balancing act between just ending the war, and ending the war with the abolishment of slavery, the horse trading required to get the action done, the archaic positions put forward by those who oppose the abolishment (but thoroughly endorsed by the general public). It is a story about a man who seemed to carry all the burdens of the world on his shoulder - and still persevere.

And the movie is supported by a host of excellent performances - most notably by Tommy Lee Jones, Sally Field and James Spader. In terms of sheer amount of amazing acting performances, there is probably no other recent movie with such a great ensemble. It is a movie with a great script and amazing oratory (something missing from most modern political engagements). It is a movie definitely worth watching.