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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.

June 2012


From ACM Opinion

Why Learn C?

Though C has been around for decades, it's still consistently ranked at the top of any list of programming languages used and studied today.

 


From ACM Opinion

Ugly Buttons

Ugly Buttons

I can't figure out how to watch my brother's TV. He's explained it to me a hundred times, but that's the curse of the baby-sitting uncle: It's harder to work a remote control than it is to change a diaper.


From ACM Opinion

'Lightweight' DRM Isn't the Answer

The world doesn't need another DRM platform, regardless of whether it's called "lightweight." DRM is annoying for customers and provides a false sense of security for publishers. As author Charlie Stross wisely stated, publishing's…


From ACM Opinion

Think Smartphones Are Ubiquitous Now? Just Wait a Few Years

Think Smartphones Are Ubiquitous Now? Just Wait a Few Years

Five years after the first iPhone went on sale, the sales of smartphones—loosely defined as phones that can run third-party "apps," and access the Internet directly—now make up nearly two-thirds of mobile phones sold in Western…


From ACM Opinion

How To Make a Viral Hit in Four Easy Steps

How To Make a Viral Hit in Four Easy Steps

Last Wednesday, BuzzFeed's Jack Shepherd published an irresistible piece called, "21 Pictures That Will Restore Your Faith in Humanity." The post is exactly as advertised, a rundown of photos of people being more wonderful than…


From ACM Opinion

'A Perfect and Beautiful Machine': What Darwin's Theory of Evolution Reveals About Artificial Intelligence

'A Perfect and Beautiful Machine': What Darwin's Theory of Evolution Reveals About Artificial Intelligence

Some of the greatest, most revolutionary advances in science have been given their initial expression in attractively modest terms, with no fanfare.


From ACM Opinion

You Will Want Google Goggles

You Will Want Google Goggles

At first glance, Thad Starner does not look out of place at Google. A pioneering researcher in the field of wearable computing, Starner is a big, charming man with unruly hair. But everyone who meets him does a double take, because…


From ACM Opinion

The Man Who Keeps Facebook Humming

The Man Who Keeps Facebook Humming

Jay Parikh is happy to never get a call from Mark Zuckerberg. Why? It means he's doing his job well. As the vice president of infrastructure engineering at Facebook, Parikh is charged with the enormous task of keeping the machines…


From ACM Opinion

A Weapon We Can't Control

A Weapon We Can't Control

The decision by the United States and Israel to develop and then deploy the Stuxnet computer worm against an Iranian nuclear facility late in George W. Bush's presidency marked a significant and dangerous turning point in the…


From ACM Opinion

Microsoft Is the Most Exciting Company in Tech, Hands Down

I never thought I'd ever hear myself utter such words post-1995. But after the reveal of the Surface tablet—complete with an ultra-thin, pressure-sensitive keyboard cover and the most discreet integrated kickstand ever—and the …


From ACM TechNews

Three Questions for Patti Maes

Three Questions for Patti Maes

Massachusetts Institute of Technology researcher Patti Maes recently spoke with Technology Review to discuss the future of mobile technology.  


From ACM Opinion

The First Five Years of the iPhone Obsession

The First Five Years of the iPhone Obsession

The big question: Is the iPhone a "bicycle for the mind," as the late Steve Jobs said about the first Mac, or a crutch that does too much of our thinking for us and increasingly takes the place of real human connections?


From ACM Opinion

Free Speech for Computers?

Free Speech for Computers?

Do machines speak? If so, do they have a constitutional right to free speech?


From ACM Opinion

What, Exactly, Is a Supercomputer?

What, Exactly, Is a Supercomputer?

It's official: The United States is home to the world's fastest supercomputer. But what exactly are supercomputers and why should we care about them? I decided to go straight to the source—Mike McCoy, program director for advanced…


From ACM Opinion

Microsoft's Research Boss Celebrates Legacy of Alan Turing

Microsoft's Research Boss Celebrates Legacy of Alan Turing

What does Alan Turing mean to Microsoft and the rest of the modern tech world? Rick Rashid can tell you.


From ACM TechNews

Exascale Computing: The View From Argonne

Exascale Computing: The View From Argonne

In an interview, U.S. Argonne National Laboratory directors Rick Stevens, Michael Papka, and Marc Snir contextualize the challenges and advantages of developing exascale supercomputing systems.  


From ACM Opinion

How Garmin Failed to See the iPhone Threat

How Garmin Failed to See the iPhone Threat

About nine years ago, I had a question for Min Kao, the CEO of the GPS concern Garmin. His answer was determined, and I thought of it as I watched the news from Apple's Worldwide Developers Conference unfold.


From ACM Opinion

The Measured Man

The Measured Man

Like many people who are careful about their weight, Larry Smarr once spent two weeks measuring everything he put in his mouth. He charted each serving of food in grams or teaspoons, and broke it down into these categories: protein…


From ACM Opinion

Alan Turing: Is He Really the Father of Computing?

Alan Turing: Is He Really the Father of Computing?

When Alan Turing arrived to start work at the National Physical Laboratory at Teddington, south-west London, he was 33 years old. It was October 1945 and he was placed in a section by himself, with instructions to design a new…


From ACM Opinion

Why Faces Matter to Facebook

Why Faces Matter to Facebook

Facebook really wants to know what you look like.


From ACM Opinion

Why Microsoft's Surface Tablet Shames the PC Industry

Why Microsoft's Surface Tablet Shames the PC Industry

On June 18, Microsoft beckoned 200 or so members of the media to a grimy, industrial part of Hollywood for what it described as a can’t-miss affair.


From ACM News

The Highly Productive Habits of Alan Turing

The Highly Productive Habits of Alan Turing

June 23 marks the 100th birthday of Alan Turing. If I had to name five people whose personal efforts led to the defeat of Nazi Germany, the English mathematician would surely be on my list. Turing's genius played a key role in…


From ACM Opinion

How Flame Virus Has Changed Everything for Online Security Firms

How Flame Virus Has Changed Everything for Online Security Firms

Here's a question: if you connect an unprotected Windows computer to the Internet, how long will it take before it is infected by malicious software?


From ACM Opinion

Meet the Intel Man Who's Out to Beat ARM in Smartphones

Meet the Intel Man Who's Out to Beat ARM in Smartphones

It's not often you meet someone in the tech industry for whom the only way is up, but Intel's Michael A. Bell is one of those people.


From ACM Opinion

Alan Turing: Why the Tech World's Hero Should Be a Household Name

Alan Turing: Why the Tech World's Hero Should Be a Household Name

I've worked in computing, and more specifically computer networking, nearly all my life. It's an industry in a constant state of innovation, always pushing beyond the limits of current capability. It is sometimes said that "broadband"…


From ACM Opinion

What Have We Learned: Flame Malware

What Have We Learned: Flame Malware

When the news about the Flame malware first broke several weeks ago, people from all parts of the security community, political world and elsewhere quickly began trying to figure out what the significance of the tool was and…


From ACM Opinion

The Vulnerabilities Market and the Future of Security

The Vulnerabilities Market and the Future of Security

Recently, there have been several articles about the new market in zero-day exploits: new and unpatched computer vulnerabilities. It's not just software companies, who sometimes pay bounties to researchers who alert them of security…


From ACM Opinion

Inside Google's Plan to Build a Catalog of Every Single Thing, Ever

Inside Google's Plan to Build a Catalog of Every Single Thing, Ever

The ugly truth is that computers don't know anything. They have no common sense.


From ACM Opinion

'Brave' Director Talks About the Pixar Process

'Brave' Director Talks About the Pixar Process

Mark Andrews has worked in animation and live-action as a storyboard artist, story supervisor, writer, and even as a voice actor, including The Incredibles, John Carter, The Iron Giant, Spider-Man, Samurai Jack, and Star Wars…


From ACM News

How Depressives Surf the Web

How Depressives Surf the Web

In what way do you spend your time online? Do you check your email compulsively? Watch lots of videos? Switch frequently among multiple Internet applications—from games to file downloads to chat rooms?

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