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Developer Week in Review

In a departure from the normally frivolous tone of this intro paragraph, I'd like to extend best wishes to the Japanese people as they deal with their numerous crises. Here's hoping things start to go better soon.

The planet does continue to turn (if on a slightly different axis than a week ago), so here's what happened in the developer world this week.

Mobile insecurity

For years, Apple aficionados have taken pot shots at the (in)security of the Windows platform. But the recent Pwn2Own contest shows that Apple has some problems of their own. During the contest, white-hats were able to break security on both an iPhone and a Blackberry by exploiting a common vulnerability in WebKit.

No one attempted to break into a Windows Mobile 7 or Android phone, which doesn't necessarily mean they're more secure, they just weren't targeted this time around. In any event, it highlights the increasing frequency with which mobile devices are being targeted for attacks.

Twitter gives third-party developers the bird

Most companies go out of their way to court third-party applications that want to integrate into their product. Google certainly has a ton of public APIs, as does Amazon, etc. But Twitter has decided that they should be the keeper of the one true Twitter client vision, and has shut the door on any new clients that wish to use the Twitter content.

Mashups are one of the most powerful features of the Web 2.0 biome, and Twitter has always been a juicy source of (sometimes geotagged) real-time data about what is happening in the world. By closing off their data stream from anyone but their own developers, Twitter is both doing a disservice to the world, and potentially shooting themselves in the foot by preventing compelling new applications from being developed.

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About that self-healing part ...

When the ARPAnet (the Internet's ancestor) was designed, one of the main features was that it could automatically route around damaged segments (handy for a military network in times of war.) However, the recent earthquake has shown just how far we've strayed from that vision. Because of static routings hardwired into the network due to business arrangements between network providers, Internet service to and from Asia took a major hit when some key trans-pacific cables were damaged.

Rather than automatically routing around the problem, engineers had to step in and set up new manual routings to try and alleviate the disconnect. It may have only taken a few hours or a day, but in an increasingly Internet-dependent world, even a few hours can be devastating, especially in an emergency when communications are at a premium.

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