Stories by Computerworld (US) staff

Reasons behind Apple's growth in the enterprise

Chris Pearson, CEO of JAMF Software, chats with Computerworld at the MacIT Conference about the reasons why Apple is making in-roads into enterprise environments beyond the traditional markets.

Humour: debugging the origins of the term 'bug'

It's an oft-repeated tale that the grand dame of military computing, computer scientist and US Navy Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, coined the terms "bug" and "debug" after an incident involving Harvard University's Mark II calculator.
The story goes like this:
On September 9, 1945, a Harvard technical team looked at Panel F and found something unusual between points in Relay 70. It was a moth, which they promptly removed and taped in the log book. Grace Hopper added the caption "First actual case of bug being found," and that's the first time anyone used the word bug to describe a computer glitch. Naturally, the term debugging followed.
Yes, it's an oft-repeated tale, but it's got more bugs in it than Relay 70 probably ever had.
For one thing, Harvard's Mark II came online in summer of 1947, two years after the date attributed to this story. For another thing, you don't use a line like "First actual case of bug being found" if the term bug isn't already in common use. The comment doesn't make sense in that context, except as an example of engineer humor. And although Grace Hopper often talked about the moth in the relay, she did not make the discovery or the log entry.
The core facts of the story are true — including the date of September 9 and time of 15:45 hours — but that's not how this meaning of the word bug appeared in the dictionary. Inventors and engineers had been talking about bugs for more than a century before the moth in the relay incident. Even Thomas Edison used the word. Here's an extract of a letter he wrote in 1878 to Theodore Puskas, as cited in The Yale Book of Quotations (2006):
'Bugs' — as such little faults and difficulties are called — show themselves and months of intense watching, study and labour are requisite before commercial success or failure is certainly reached.
Word nerds trace the word bug to an old term for a monster — it's a word that has survived in obscure terms like bugaboo and bugbear and in a mangled form in the word boogeyman. Like gremlins in machinery, system bugs are malicious. Anyone who spends time trying to get all the faults out of a system knows how it feels: After a few hours of debugging, any problems that remain are hellspawn, mocking attempts to get rid of them with a devilish glee.
And that's the real origin of the term "bug". But we think the tale of the moth in the relay is worth retelling anyway.

Dell to buy virtualised storage provider

Dell today announced it has agreed to acquire virtualized storage provider 3PAR for about $1.15 billion, a move that will boost its capabilities for building public and private cloud computing environments. The deal is expected to close later this year.

Recession a chance to gently squeeze vendors

For CIOs, the temptation to put the big squeeze on vendors must be high. Many have endured years of licensing and maintenance increases from vendors, increases that have only abated temporarily due to the recession's toll on IT budgets.

IBM to buy Ilog

IBM has agreed to buy French software company Ilog for around €215 million (NZ$457 million). IBM plans to combine Ilog's business rules management systems with its own business process management and business optimisation tools.

Shark Tank: Human error

Company's new president, who has a heavy technical background, calls in IT director pilot fish and snarls, "Our @#$%! network is absolute junk!" What's wrong? asks shocked fish. Turns out the boss doesn't have the web access he requested weeks before. As he tries to log in to prove his point, fish asks, "Why are you spelling your name wrong at the log-in?"

Shark tank: Yeah, right

School district servers are underpowered for all the traffic they have to handle, reports insider pilot fish. So new high-performance servers are installed but the network is still unusable. IT boss' explanation to the school district staff: "Before, the servers didn't have enough memory to hold and process all the information. The new servers are so big that the information is getting lost."