January Software Roundup | TechWell

January Software Roundup

In this software roundup, we learn that Maryland and Pennsylvania are using software to prevent murders, new software shown at the Consumer Electronics Show underwhelmed some prominent tech pundits, and the Department of Homeland Security recommended disabling Java for a security exploit.

Software Used to Predict Murder
If you thought that being in charge of software for medical devices might require extreme diligence and attention to detail, you might want to consider the emergence of new software used in Maryland and Pennsylvania to prevent murders.

Wired reports that the two eastern states are using new crime-prediction software that “promises to reduce the homicide rate by predicting which prison parolees are likely to commit murder and therefore receive more stringent supervision.“ Additionally, Washington DC should see the new software in use in the near future.

Researchers in charge of the project studied a dataset of 60,000 crimes and crafted an algorithm that could determine the people most likely to commit future offenses after being released from prison or put on probation. However, the story ends with a somber quote from a professor of criminal justice who said that if the software were to produce false positives, many innocent people would end up being punished for crimes they will not commit in the future.

Software at CES Underwhelms Tech Media
The annual Consumer Electronics Show (CES) came and went last week, and regarding software, pundits in the tech media seemed less than thrilled by what was offered. The folks at CNET wrote up a somber takeaway from CES and said that “At this point, we're beginning to think that software may never take center stage at CES,” as hardware seemed to dominate the coverage.

Most of the apps the CNET staff looked at were made to control hardware devices, and the apps that stood out to the writers were hidden and hard to get to amid all the smartphones and other hardware peripherals.

However, the staff at The Los Angeles Times got to check out Mozilla’s new operating system, which was built to take advantage of HTML5.

From the LA Times:

The interface is like a cross between Apple's iOS and Google's Android operating system. Apps line up in rows similarly to the iPhone, but overall, the interface comes off more playful, like Android.

Department of Homeland Security Recommends Disabling Java
The US Department of Homeland Security sent out an announcement recommending the general public disable Java because “A vulnerability in the Java Security Manager allows a Java applet to grant itself permission to execute arbitrary code.”

According to The New York Times, Oracle fixed the security problem on January 13, 2013.

The NY Times notes that just last April, “hackers exploited a Java vulnerability to infect more than half a million Apple computers with a vicious form of malware in what was the largest-scale attack on the OS X operating system to date.”

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