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'With great code comes great responsibility'

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QuotW This was the week when hacking group Anonymous felt it was doing the world a favour by shutting down a child pornography site and outing its membership list, forgetting that the people whose actual job is dealing with this sort of thing (the police) might have liked to arrest the members and get some info out of them.

It was also the week when Google's transparency report showed that video of dirty cops (as in bad, not saucy), Nazis and jihadists were the US, Germany and the UK's top picks to get pulled from YouTube and the Apple iPhone 4S' battery life was found to suck the big one.

And it was the week when there was an unfortunate email blunder here at The Register, which prompted many, many, many responses, including this one from blogger Matt J that commended the subsequent falling-on-our-sword story to let people know about the mistake:

So ElReg, as much as you’ve amassed a million cocks to put yourself (and my e-mail address) in such a bastardy situation, it’s not going to stop me reading your news in a morning, fair play for making a hard decision.

The IT world was rocked by news that its favourite dysfunctional TV BOFHs, The IT Crowd, would not be returning for a new series, with creator Graham Linehan giving some excuse about it not feeling right or something:

I felt that the last series was a nice strong point to go out on, and anything further might just be running on the spot.

Meanwhile, from beyond the grave, Steve Jobs continues to preoccupy the media and come up with new quotes to mull over as his biography hit the shelves, featuring such tidbits as:

Definitely taking LSD was one of the most important things in my life. Not the most important, but right up there.

Speaking of Jobs, Apple continued to assert total and complete domination of touchscreen devices by managing to get a patent on the unlock gesture used on most phones, here in wording that explains very well why no one understands patents:

The performance of the predefined gesture with respect to the unlock image may include moving the unlock image to a predefined location and/or moving the unlock image along a predefined path.

But not everything was rosy in Apple's world, as security experts continued to worry that the persistent myth of Macs' invulnerability to malware would leave the machines wide open to attacks such as a new Tsunami Trojan. Graham Cluley of net security firm Sophos said:

We fully expect to see cybercriminals continuing to target poorly protected Mac computers in the future. If the bad guys think they can make money out of infecting and compromising Macs, they will keep trying. My advice to Mac users is simple: don't be a soft target, protect yourself.

Here in Blighty, the unions were up in arms about a leaked document that proposed replacing a load of London Underground staff with new technologies like driverless trains and bankcard ticketing, with the Rail and Maritime Transport Union general secretary Bob Crow fuming somewhat exaggeratively that:

This ill-conceived and finance-led document ignores reality in favour of austerity and would impact on every single staff member on London Underground. It would leave passengers stranded in tunnels with no means of evacuation and would turn the platforms and stations into a muggers' and vandals' paradise.

And in a lovely example of irony, a load of binned PCs was discovered to hold the personal details of staff members from the Sun, some of whom later went on to be embroiled in the phone-hacking scandal. The Cyber Security Research Institute chairman Peter Warren said:

In the case of News International, this information on staff could have been used by competitors or criminals to glean vital and commercially confidential information. It could even have been used to hack their staff members’ phones

Google's decision to take the '+' out of Boolean searches, perhaps in a bid to make its social network more searchable, provoked the ire of users who showed up in force on the Chocolate Factory's forums to vent their frustration, with one ranting:

How does requiring us to type two characters instead of one in order to ensure that a key word appears in the search results simplify the search experience? For that matter, how do random and unannounced changes requiring us to change our documentation (and you your own – which you haven't done) help anyone? If you want to expand the functionality of quotation marks, that's great, but why remove functions that have worked before?

While a security expert/hacker in the employ of McAfee, Barnaby Jack, managed to hack into a medical insulin pump and instruct it to give a fatal dose, possibly spawning a whole new range of trashy novels about shady murders. He told The Register:

I could make it dispense its entire reservoir of insulin, which is about 300 units. I just scan for any devices in the vicinity and they will respond with the serial number of the device.

And US Assistant Secretary of State Michael Posner has obviously hired himself an ace speechwriter, coming up with this gem in his talk about authoritarian governments attacking the internet at a Silicon Valley Human Rights Conference in San Francisco:

With great code comes great responsibility. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

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