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Communications of the ACM

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The opinion archive provides access to past opinion stories from Communications of the ACM and other sources by date.

January 2013


From ACM Opinion

How to Build the Perfect Gaming PC for 2013–and Beyond

How to Build the Perfect Gaming PC for 2013–and Beyond

There's little doubt that PC gaming is undergoing a renaissance at the moment.


From ACM Opinion

The Natural Experimenter

The Natural Experimenter

Josh Angrist is an acclaimed experimentalist who does not work in a lab.


From ACM Opinion

A Fuzzy and Shifting Line Between Hacker and Criminal

A Fuzzy and Shifting Line Between Hacker and Criminal

In January 2011, I was assigned to cover a hearing in Newark, where Daniel Spitler, then 26, stood accused of breaching AT&T's servers and stealing 114,000 email addresses.


From ACM Opinion

The Two Classes of Cyber Threats

The Two Classes of Cyber Threats

There is one number that matters most in cybersecurity.


From ACM Opinion

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer Does Not Fear Dropbox or an Office-less iPad

Microsoft's Steve Ballmer Does Not Fear Dropbox or an Office-less iPad

When Microsoft Chief Executive Officer Steve Ballmer does his bounding these days, it's often in front of an 82-inch interactive display mounted on the wall of his office.


From ACM News

Cellphone Chips Will Remake the Server World. Period.

Cellphone Chips Will Remake the Server World. Period.

Facebook recently ran an experiment. Inside a test lab, somewhere behind the scenes at the world's most popular network, engineers sidled up to a computer server loaded with software that typically drives the Facebook website…


From ACM Opinion

Talking, Walking Objects

Talking, Walking Objects

Meeting Simon for the first time was one of the most sublime experiences I've had. With every coy head nod, casual hand wave and deep eye gaze, I felt he already knew me.


From ACM Opinion

Meet the Man Who Would Make BlackBerry Apps Cool

Meet the Man Who Would Make BlackBerry Apps Cool

Alec Saunders needed a little bait.


From ACM Careers

Becoming Biohackers: Learning the Game

Becoming Biohackers: Learning the Game

When you have lunch courtesy of the FBI, you are offered chicken Caesar salad, hamburger, or fish.


From ACM Opinion

Google's Approach to Government Requests for User Data

Today, January 28, is Data Privacy Day, when the world recognizes the importance of preserving your online privacy and security.


From ACM Opinion

Why We Should Build Software Like We Build Houses

Why We Should Build Software Like We Build Houses

Architects draw detailed plans before a brick is laid or a nail is hammered. Programmers and software engineers don't. Can this be why houses seldom collapse and programs often crash?


From ACM Opinion

Innovation Is Messy Business

Innovation Is Messy Business

Nine years ago, Boeing Co. BA executives decided to take the biggest leap in airliner technology in a generation and develop the 787 Dreamliner.


From ACM Opinion

Ito: Think Twice About Immortality and the Singularity

Ito: Think Twice About Immortality and the Singularity

Ray Kurzweil's vision of the "singularity"—when nanobots make humans immortal and computer progress is so fast that the future becomes profoundly unknowable—is a bad idea.


From ACM Opinion

Don't Divorce Design from Manufacturing

Don't Divorce Design from Manufacturing

The software company Autodesk doesn't manufacture anything.


From ACM Opinion

Neil deGrasse Tyson: Science Funding Can 'Guarantee Your Economic Future'

Neil deGrasse Tyson: Science Funding Can 'Guarantee Your Economic Future'

Neil deGrasse Tyson came to Washington on Wednesday to deliver the science-specific version of President Barack Obama's second inaugural address.


From ACM Opinion

IBM Predicts Cognitive Systems As New Computing Wave

IBM Predicts Cognitive Systems As New Computing Wave

At year's end, IBM selects a new innovation that has the potential to change the world.


From ACM Opinion

Crapware Won't Crap Out

Crapware Won't Crap Out

For a few years now, I've been expecting to write an obituary for crapware. Or not an obit, exactly—I was hoping to dance on its grave.


From ACM Opinion

Apple Shouldn't Make Software Look Like Real Objects

Apple Shouldn't Make Software Look Like Real Objects

Last fall Apple fired executive Scott Forstall, considered by many to be a Steve Jobs protégé.


From ACM Opinion

Remembering Aaron By Taking Care of Each Other

My friend Will Morrell, brilliant and sardonic, was the first person I ever knew to make his living close to the machine.


From ACM Opinion

Jill and Scott Kelley on the Petraeus Scandal and Loss of Privacy

Jill and Scott Kelley on the Petraeus Scandal and Loss of Privacy

We woke up on the morning of Nov. 9 expecting the usual: for one of us, the tending to patients; for the other, the morning rush of packing lunches and getting the kids to school.


From ACM Opinion

Why Subtraction Is the Hardest Math in Product Design

Why Subtraction Is the Hardest Math in Product Design

Simple doesn't just sell, it sticks.


From ACM Opinion

What Makes a Mind? Kurzweil and Google May Be Surprised

What Makes a Mind? Kurzweil and Google May Be Surprised

After writing about Ray Kurzweil’s ambitious plan to create a super-intelligent personal assistant in his new job at Google (see "Ray Kurzweil Plans to Create a Mind at Google—and Have it Serve You"), I sent a note to Boris Katz…


From ACM Opinion

Hacktivism: Civil Disobedience or Cyber Crime?

Hacktivism: Civil Disobedience or Cyber Crime?

When Reddit co-founder and internet freedom activist Aaron Swartz committed suicide, he was facing up to 13 felony counts, 50 years in prison, and millions of dollars in fines.


From ACM Careers

The Trouble With Tinkering Time

The Trouble With Tinkering Time

It's the latest R&D trend: penciling in tinkering time on the company clock.


From ACM Opinion

Samsung's Secret Weapon in the Mobile Wars: Tizen

Samsung's Secret Weapon in the Mobile Wars: Tizen

You've probably never heard of Tizen, but the companies behind it are some of the most recognizable brands in the tech industry.


From ACM Opinion

Many Hands Make Fractals Tactile

Many Hands Make Fractals Tactile

Human beings are born with an innate capacity to learn languages. Yet while mathematics is the language of pattern and form, many people struggle to acquire even its basic grammar.


From ACM Opinion

The FBI Needs Hackers, Not Backdoors

The FBI Needs Hackers, Not Backdoors

Just imagine if all the applications and services you saw or heard about at CES earlier this month had to be designed to be "wiretap ready" before they could be offered on the market.


From ACM Careers

Atari's Bankruptcy: Gen X Bids Pong Farewell

Atari's Bankruptcy: Gen X Bids Pong Farewell

Reading the news that Atari’s U.S. subsidiary is filing for bankruptcy was a little like hearing that Bob Hope died—in that you were surprised to discover he had been alive all that time.


From ACM Opinion

For Amusement Only: The Life and Death of the American Arcade

For Amusement Only: The Life and  Death of the American Arcade

If you’ve never been inside a "real" arcade, it could be hard to distinguish one from say, oh, a Dave & Buster's. Authenticity is a hard nut to crack, but there are a few hallmarks of the video game arcade of days gone by: first…


From ACM Opinion

What the FBI Doesn't Want You To Know About Its 'Secret' Surveillance Techniques

What the FBI Doesn't Want You To Know About Its 'Secret' Surveillance Techniques

The FBI had to rewrite the book on its domestic surveillance activities in the wake of last January’s landmark Supreme Court decision in United States v. Jones.

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