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When Physicists and Programmers Collide (From Tim)

I'm a software engineer working in the field of HEP (High Energy Physics) for a physics collaboration working on a LARGE experiment located on the Fracoswiss border. You know, the one some people thought would create black holes and destroy the planet? Yeah, that one. Most of the interesting physics analysis code here is based on a framework using Python scripts for setup and configuration which then calls native analysis code, that usually is implemented in C++.

One day, a physicist two doors next to me wrote a heated e-mail to the collaboration-wide mailing list (mind you, not one of the numerous support lists for all programming issues, physics analysis questions, etc., but the one catch-em-all list delivering the mails to ALL members of the collaboration, including the management). This colleague, let's call him Phil, was a role model of self-taught analysis-programming physicists, until he decided that choosing a script language like Python for the said task was completely insane, because, you know, Bash scripts do things much faster, don't they? He just oversaw that many bright minds had conceptualized and implemented said software and had their reasons for using a language like Python for configuration and setup.

Also that he, while at it,

a) completely missed the point that the actual analysis code was nevertheless written in C++, and b) chose an example that is... well... inappropriate for the things he wanted to show,

made things only worse... Here is his e-mail:

To: [email protected],
    [email protected],
    [email protected],
Cc: [email protected],
    [email protected],
    [email protected],
    [email protected]
Subject: BASH versus PYTHON


Why is python used for the  software framework?

I wrote 2 very short and easy scripts:
performance1 creates and removes files in the local directory.
performance2 calls a c program main.bin that calculates numbers.

I implemented both scripts as a bash and a python script.
I ran these scripts one after the other on my workstation.

For 1st, bash was nearly 3 times faster than python.
For 2nd, bash was nearly 2 times faster than python.




Here is his example "performance1" Bash script:

echo "Starting now..."
while { [ $i -le 1000 ] ; }
	mkdir $i
	touch $i/stdout
	echo $i >> $i/stdout
while { [ $i -le 1000 ] ; }
        rm -rf $i
echo "Finished!"
exit 0 

And here is the oh-so-slow Python implementation of the same "algorithm":

#!/usr/bin/env python
import os
os.system('echo "Starting now..."')
i = 0
while i <= 1000: 
	os.system('mkdir '+`i`)
	os.system('touch '+`i`+"/stdout")
	os.system('echo '+`i`+" >> "+`i`+"/stdout")
i = 0
while i <= 1000: 
        os.system('rm -rf '+`i`)
os.system('echo "Finished!"')

(The second example followed the same pattern...)


The Joys of Automated Emails (From Alex)

I received the below email from Chase Bank in error...what should I do?


Subjective Security (From Tim)

Our company deals with a lot of users and traffic. Not particularly sensitive information, but enough to make sure that we have some security protocols.

Some managers don't seem to grasp this concept very well though. This was taken from the minutes of a general meeting in which the exchange of passwords was discussed:

From: [email protected]
To: *[email protected]
Subject: Never send usernames/passwords on IM/EMAIL etc.


We have talked about the safe way to sent a username or password. 
This is not safe to sent on IM or any other messenger service. 
Even in mail it is not secure enough.

The best way to handle when sending someone a usermame and password 
is this:

1. Sent an email with in the subject "username"
   Text in this is only "this is your username : UserName* 
   ...then send the email

2. After a few minutes you sent another email with NO subject Text 
   in this email is just the password with no description at all: 

You can even set a delay sending rule in this email If you sent an 
email through this method, it is secure.

- Initech Security Mgmt


It Only Takes 3 Seconds (The Daily WTF Inbox)

Ok, so the exact details are fuzzy on our end, but there was apparently some searching that occurred last summer. This ultimately led to what someone had thought was a simple, harmless click leading to some website in a moment of what can be only called a moment of reduced mental capacity. The site visit didn't last long, but was long enough to get an email. (I have to admit though, the idea of sending someone an anonymous telephone greeting in a foreign language sounds deliciously mischievous.)

From: [email protected] 
To: [email protected]
Subject: thank you for visiting our site this summer- your choice is 1/2 the $$ now!

Now you can't say you did not know what to give everyone you love 
for the holiday that would last for years. message; Hello, hey we 
picked up your I.P address from 3 second visit from your internet 
search, a from redirect about our type services. I am a professional 
advisor to business with an online presence who wish to be more 
efficient. Having a computer that you can work fast on keeps you 
working. What's the first thing you do when your computer keeps 
loading slow, try this, try, that until you just give up .Enjoy 
shopping when your computer does work right, you can save a $800-$2000 
just by using a simple resource that has just been shared with??.. 
If you never maintenance your car or computer is breaks down, give 
your computer a tune up, stop loosing time and being in a mood that 
makes you not want to work. 
After months or over years of being exposed to the internet, your 
computer needs 3 minutes of spa treatment. 
Get your computers back to 100%. The visit to us to get educated 
comes with a Free Protection , so you don’t have to worry for years 
for 2 years 
Good for 2 computers, send up to  4 friend's a holiday clean out that 
covers them for many holidays. Take 2 packages and everyone is covered 
for 2 holiday season, look mom , no gift wrap needed 
Ask for the Gold package, 4 computers more total  automatically, Live 
support will call your friends live! on the phone to deliver a HAPPY
 HOLIDAY GREETING in almost any language, the gift, we will make an 
 appointment for a remote computer log-in session . 
If this does not interest you, I'm sorry to have bothered you! Have 
a slow good day! 
Donny- It takes a 3-5 minutes and I can walk you through if you so 
choose , by appointment. and for a 1 year or 2 years- I will be at 
your fingertips. Now that’s a gift
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