The content of this blog is my personal opinion only. Although I am an employee - currently of Imagination Technologies's MIPS group, in the past of other companies such as Intellectual Ventures, Intel, AMD, Motorola, and Gould - I reveal this only so that the reader may account for any possible bias I may have towards my employer's products. The statements I make here in no way represent my employer's position, nor am I authorized to speak on behalf of my employer. In fact, this posting may not even represent my personal opinion, since occasionally I play devil's advocate.

See http://docs.google.com/View?id=dcxddbtr_23cg5thdfj for photo credits.

Thursday, March 08, 2012

Different device inputs => different passwords, different writing styles

I am probably not the only one to notice that the reasonably secure passwords I type fairly easily on my PC, or even with handwriting recognition on my Windows tablet, can be really painful to type on an iPhone or tablet with onscreen keyboard.

? Will there be a rash of security breakins because smartphone and tablet passwords are too easily broken?  Or at least the subset of easy typing common to both PCs and portable devices?

Today added a new device: a Kindle with keyboard.  Not the latest and greatest, but okay. I love the battery life.  I can access my wiki using the experimental web browser. But the keyboard... sheesh, I force myself to write in a different style. "Zero" rather than "0".

Still, nice when its the only device I have.

(And, yes, I have 2 Android tablets - and I prefer the Kindle. e-Paper. Battery life.)

Good programmers generate good error messages

On the list of my favorite things - NOT:

Programs that respond to user input errors with crashes and stack dumps.  Whether the stackdump is machine code, Perl, Python or whatever...

I could say something like "Good programmers write code that runs with legal input.  Better programmers write code that gives good error messages and/or otherwise handles illegal input better."

Except that it is as that programmers have to write so much error handling code.  Error handling code can grow to take up more space than the real code.

I like language systems that make it easier to write error handling code.  Not necessarily user friendly error messages, but error messages that give the user more of a chance tio figure out what went wrong.

this is one thing I like about C++ exceptions: throw a string-like error message.  When caught, add more info to the string, and throw again, until you get to the outpmost level whedre you die - oer some intermediate level where you can die or otherwise handle.

But I can here the dweebies say "You aren't supposed to throw string or char* exceptions".  True - in an "out-of-memory exception.  But except for that, concatenating or stacking string exception error messages are some of the simplest and best ways to report errors.  So make the exception system handle it.

Similarly, this sounds just like a stack dump.  But it is a user intelligible stack dump - some thought can go in to the strings that get thrown.