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David B. Black
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Credit card systems are among the earlier major enterprise software systems written. The early systems were written in assembler language or COBOL. If programming languages really did get more powerful and advanced, you would think that a wave of re-writes would have transformed the industry as card systems written in creaky old languages were streamlined and turbo-charged by being written in more modern languages. Generations of industry executives and technical experts and leaders have thought exactly this. The earlier posts in this series have described two major such efforts that ended in face-plants, and other efforts that illustrate the ongoing... Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at The Black Liszt
As a direct result of ridiculous, anti-scientific standards, pills to lower blood pressure are the mostly widely prescribed pills in the US, with over 100 million people supposedly cursed by the “disease” of hypertension. Did you know that there’s a never-refuted medical study published by the American Academy of Ophthalmology and sponsored by the National Eye Institute (part of NIH) showing that taking those pills greatly increases the risk of going blind? I didn’t think so. AMD: Age-related Macular Degeneration More than 11 million people in the US have this disease. It mostly affects people 60 and older. The most... Continue reading
Posted Jul 25, 2022 at The Black Liszt
One of the major ways software evolves is by increasing along the dimension of automation breadth. A domain can be dominated by products at a given breadth of automation, and suddenly a existing or new competitor starts winning by increasing its breadth of automation, offering its customers more value for less effort and money. It's a classic move and a good way for new entrants to disrupt a market. One of the most frequently given pieces of advice, including by me, is to “focus,” i.e. basically solve fewer problems, try to satisfy a narrower range of customers, etc. While this... Continue reading
Posted Jul 20, 2022 at The Black Liszt
I’ve talked about how all the medical authorities are united in the importance of fighting the “silent killer” of blood pressure that’s too high, i.e., hypertension. I’ve described in detail that what doctors call ‘essential hypertension” is NOT a disease. Fighting the non-disease of hypertension is an ongoing bonanza for doctors and the drug companies while leading to serious problems for patients. In this post I’ll describe my personal experiences that led me to these observations. What happened to me was not unusual, and others have had it worse than I have. Getting Cancer and Hypertension Eight years ago I... Continue reading
Posted Jul 12, 2022 at The Black Liszt
Most enterprises that build software are proudly flying the flag of AI/ML. "We're technology leaders!" their leaders crow in annual reports and at conferences. At the same time, any objective observer usually sees a lack of common sense in the operation of the company's systems. It often appears that, far from needing beyond-human artificial intelligence, they could use some insect-level functioning instincts that get things done. What's going on? Can it be fixed? The Industry-standard way to fix the problem The usual fix to the problem is to completely ignore the fact that there's a problem in public, while following... Continue reading
Posted Jun 28, 2022 at The Black Liszt
The medical community, organizations and government agencies couldn't be clearer: hypertension (high blood pressure) is a silent killer. You may not feel anything wrong, but if you've got it, your risk of strokes and heart failure goes way up. Therefore it's essential to monitor and treat this deadly condition. They're all wrong. Hypertension is not a disease that needs to be cured. It may be a symptom of a problem, but not a problem itself, just like fever is a symptom, not the underlying problem. By treating it as a disease and giving drugs to lower blood pressure, the medical... Continue reading
Posted Jun 13, 2022 at The Black Liszt
The concept of workflow has been around in software from the beginning. It is the core of a great deal of what software does, including business process automation. Workflow is implicitly implemented in most bodies of software, usually in a hard-coded, ad-hoc way that makes it laborious and error-prone to implement, understand, modify and optimize. Expressing it instead as editable declarative metadata that is executed by a small body of generic, application-independent code yields a huge increase in productivity and responsiveness. It also enables painless integration of ML and AI. There are organizations that have done exactly this; they benefit... Continue reading
Posted Jun 7, 2022 at The Black Liszt
Most of us have heard about high blood pressure. It's one of those conditions that afflict a large number of people. Nearly half of American adults are said by the AHA to have it! You may be able to control it by maintaining a healthy lifestyle, things like avoid eating saturated fats, salt and alcohol, keeping your weight down and getting exercise. Fortunately, there are drugs that can help keep it under control. Why should anyone care? Strokes! Heart attacks! Premature death! Is this one of those things that floats in the air but isn't real? Let's take a look... Continue reading
Posted May 31, 2022 at The Black Liszt
Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are in the news. NFT’s (non-fungible tokens) have exploded onto the scene, with people spending large amounts of money to acquire unique rights to digital images. The explosion of invention and innovation is amazing, isn’t it? Except that it's all just minor variations of things that were created decades ago, grew into huge markets with the participation of a good part of the world's population, and continue to grow today. Invention? Creativity? How about minor variations of proven ideas, giving them a new name and slightly different context, and getting super-rich? From Drawing to Cartoons to... Continue reading
Posted May 28, 2022 at The Black Liszt
Most efforts to improve programmer productivity and software quality fail to generate lasting gains. New languages, new project management and the rest are decades-long disappointments – not that anyone admits failure, of course. The general approach of software abstraction, i.e., moving program definition from imperative code to declarative metadata, has decades of success to prove its viability. It’s a peculiar fact of software history and Computer Science that the approach is not mainstream. So much the more competitive advantage for hungry teams that want to fight the entrenched software armies and win! The first step – and it’s a big... Continue reading
Posted May 23, 2022 at The Black Liszt
What goals should software architecture strive to meet? You would think that this subject would have been intensely debated in industry and academia and the issue resolved decades ago. Sadly, such is not the case. Not only can't we build good software that works in a timely and cost-effective way, we don't even have agreement or even discussion about the goals for software architecture! Given the on-going nightmare of software building and the crisis in software that still going strong after more than 50 years, you would think that solving the issue would be top-of-mind. As far as I can... Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2022 at The Black Liszt
When a thing is held in exaltation by much of the world and its major institutions, when that thing is sure that it's the best thing ever, and when people who support the thing are convinced that they're superior to the rest of us, who are nothing but unsophisticated hackers, then you've got something that's fun to make fun of. A target-rich environment. There are lots of things to make fun of in software. There are project managers who solemnly pronounce that, due to their expertise, the project is on track and will be delivered on time and to spec.... Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2022 at The Black Liszt
There is an obesity problem. Everyone knows it. Public health authorities proclaim it. Over half the population in the US is now obese. The consequences of being obese in terms of health are serious. Solutions are proposed, but they don’t seem to work. The question that’s almost never asked, the answer to which would help us understand AND FIX the problem, is pure common sense: what started the epidemic? What changed to cause the steady rise of overweight and obese people? The reason no one wants to ask the question is because the most probable answer is something our major... Continue reading
Posted Apr 25, 2022 at The Black Liszt
As the use of computers grew rapidly in the 1960’s, the difficulty of creating quality software that met customer needs became increasingly evident. Wave after wave of methods were created, many of them becoming standard practice – without solving the problem! This is a high-level survey of the failed attempts to solve the problem of software development and security -- all of which are now standard practice in spite of failing to fix the problem! There are now software auditing firms that will carefully examine a software organization to see in which ways it deviates from ineffective standard practice –... Continue reading
Posted Apr 19, 2022 at The Black Liszt
I have described the background and evidence of the diet-heart fiasco -- the hypothesis-turned-fake-fact that you shouldn't eat saturated fat because it raises your "bad" LDL cholesterol, which causes hearts disease. Not only is it wrong -- eating saturated fat is positively good for you! This deadly farce has generated a medical effort to lower the cholesterol of patients in order to keep them healthy. There have been over a trillion dollars in sales for cholesterol-lowering statin drugs so far.The entire medical establishment has supported this as a way to prevent heart disease.There's just one little problem, now proved by... Continue reading
Posted Apr 8, 2022 at The Black Liszt
Human bodies can get the horrible disease of cancer. Software programming languages are frequently impacted by software cancer, which also has horrible results. There are many kinds of cancer, impacting different parts of the body and acting in different ways. They all grow without limit and eventually kill the host. Worse, most cancers can metastasize, i.e., navigate to a different part of the body and start growing there, spreading the destruction and speeding the drive towards death. Software cancer impacts software languages in similar ways. Once a software programming language has been created and used, enthusiasts decide that the language... Continue reading
Posted Apr 5, 2022 at The Black Liszt
I am grateful to have the health insurance I have, and grateful for the payments they've made to resolve problems I've had. Nonetheless, I can't help but be astounded at the never-ending flow of expensive, incompetent, annoying and utterly useless interaction I have had with the company's computer systems. It's small potatoes in the overall scheme of things. It's also simple stuff. Why can't they (and others like them) get it right? The answer is simple: the company's leaders, like most enterprise companies, want to be leaders in technology. Today, that means funding big, publicized initiatives in AI and ML.... Continue reading
Posted Mar 30, 2022 at The Black Liszt
The experts and authoritative institutions are clear: you should eat a low-fat diet and take drugs to reduce your blood LDL cholesterol to safe levels in order to make your heart healthy. Here is their advice about saturated fat and about blood cholesterol. The capital-E Experts are wrong. They were wrong from the beginning. There was never any valid evidence in favor their views, in spite of what you might read. The quantitative and biochemical evidence is now overwhelming. Here is my summary of the situation. In this post I’ll cover more of the evidence. Origins and growth of the... Continue reading
Posted Mar 15, 2022 at The Black Liszt
DCash, the Digital Currency issued by the ECCB (Eastern Caribbean Central Bank) Is a pioneering effort with good intentions. Here is the background, covering how it was studied carefully, piloted in March 2019, had its first live transaction in February 2021, rolled out in March 2021, expanded in July 2021 and then, on January 14, 2022, went dead. Not just down for a few hours ... or days ... or weeks ... but long enough for any sensible person to completely give up on it. Then the ECCB announced that DCash would be back soon, and then announced that it... Continue reading
Posted Mar 11, 2022 at The Black Liszt
The United States is seriously planning to issue FedCoin, a CBDC (Central Bank Digital Currency), following the lead of the Chinese government and others around the world. I have previously spelled out why we don’t need Fedcoin, basically because the currency of the United States is already largely digital. In this article I argue that not only don’t we need FedCoin, but that issuing such a CBDC has a strong potential for disaster. For a perspective that is broad and deep on this subject, see Oonagh McDonald’s recent book Cryptocurrencies: Money, Trust and Regulation. The Eastern Caribbean Central Bank Did... Continue reading
Posted Mar 9, 2022 at The Black Liszt
What?? Object-oriented programming (OOP) is practically the standard in software! It’s taught everywhere and dominates thinking on the subject. Most languages are O-O these days, and OO features have even been added to COBOL! How can such a dominant, mainstream thing be bad? The sad truth is that the badness of OOP isn’t some fringe conspiracy theory. An amazing line-up of astute, brilliant people agree that it’s bad. A huge collection of tools and techniques have been developed and taught to help people overcome its difficulties, which nonetheless persist. Its claims of virtue are laughable – anyone with experience knows... Continue reading
Posted Mar 8, 2022 at The Black Liszt
The magnificent, century's-rare Two's Day itself has already come and gone. But while it's still fairly large in the rear-view mirror, there is still time to celebrate the nine day wrapper around the day (and hour and minute) of Two's Day itself. Because we're still early in the amazing nine day long celebration of Palindromic Two's Week. Today is February 23, 2022. It's a pretty two-y day, right? Particularly when you toss out boring and easily-misspelled "February" and replace it with a nice proper two, as in 2/23/2022. We all know we're in the middle of the 2000's, I trust.... Continue reading
Posted Feb 23, 2022 at The Black Liszt
Everyone knows it’s important to maintain a healthy diet, things like avoiding fatty meat and fish and whole-fat dairy products. All the experts tell us it’s so, and the nutrition guides on food products help us choose food wisely. Everyone knows what “fat” is. Most of us have also heard of “cholesterol,” but it’s not so clear just what that is. It gets clear when you visit a doctor, have your blood tested, and hear the doctor tell you that your cholesterol levels dangerously high. The doctor says you’ve got to get your cholesterol under control, or else your odds... Continue reading
Posted Feb 21, 2022 at The Black Liszt
When you have a tumor that's supposed to be vanquished by radiation therapy but refuses to go away, you're supposed to check on it periodically to see if it's resumed rapid-growth mode. While experience hasn't made my heart grow fond of MRI's, I reluctantly decided to give it another go, since I still have lumps I shouldn't have.. Here's what happened last time. I'm reluctant to dive into MRI-world again because even simple medical scheduling like for a covid test is a big problem -- but small compared to the nightmare of scheduling something like an MRI. Why don't I... Continue reading
Posted Feb 15, 2022 at The Black Liszt
What will happen on Tuesday, February 22, 2022 is something remarkably rare in history. 2/22/2022 has SIX two’s and a zero. The recently-passed 2/2/2022 was also pretty amazing, well worth making a big deal out of were it not for its grander cousin following just 20 days later. 2/2/2022 has only FIVE two’s and even worse, it fell on that ignominious day of the week Wednesday. Wednesday is a terrible day. It’s the low point of the week, just as far from the last weekend as it is to the next one. It’s a contradiction in terms, a Wednesday trying... Continue reading
Posted Feb 6, 2022 at The Black Liszt