Critical Updates for Java Released

June 16, 2012

Oracle has released its quarterly security fixes for Java.  The new Version 6 Update 33, addresses 14 identified security vulnerabilities; at least one of these is extremely serious, because it can be exploited remotely without a login.  (There is also a Version 7 Update 5 available for developers, with the same fixes.)  The new versions also fix some minor bugs.  Further information is available in the Critical Patch Update Advisory.

The new version is available for almost all platforms: Linux, Windows, and Solaris.  Apple supplies its own versions of Java for Mac OS X; there is usually a time lag of at least a few days after Oracle releases a new version before an updated Mac version is available

Because of the security content of this release, if you have Java installed on your system, I recommend that you install this update as soon as you conveniently can.  You can obtain the new version, including the browser plug-in, from the download page for Version 6 Update 33, or the download page for Version 7 Update 5.  Windows users can also use automatic updates to get the new release.


ACM to Celebrate Turing Centenary

June 16, 2012

Last October, I posted a note here about the upcoming 100-year anniversary of the birth of Alan Turing, the English mathematician and pioneer computer scientist.  Turing was a central figure in the successful British effort, at Bletchley Park, to break coded messages produced by the Germans’ Enigma cipher machine.  Some of Turing’s theoretical papers on cryptanalysis have been declassified only recently.

Network World has an article about some additional activities planned by the Association for Computing Machinery [ACM] around the anniversary, which is June 23.   Vint Cerf of Google, a noted computer scientist in his own right, is president-elect of the ACM and chair of the organization’s commemorative events, points out how fundamental Turing’s work is to modern computer science.

“Alan had such a broad impact on so many aspects of computer science,” says Cerf. “The deep notion of computability is so fundamental to everything we do in computing.”

In designing a hypothetical computing device, which we now know as a Turing machine, Turing provided a framework for analysing the possibilities and limitations of mechanical, and electronic, computing devices.

Since 1966, the ACM has given out its annual Turing Award, sometimes referred to as the “Nobel Prize” of computer science, to “an individual selected for contributions of a technical nature made to the computing community”.   (Vint Cerf received a Turing Award in 2004.)  This year, at an event to be held in San Francisco June 15-16, the ACM is trying to assemble all living Turing Award recipients, and will feature talks and panel discussions on Turing’s life and work.

Turing, who was named one of Time magazine’s 100 Most Important People of the [20th] Century, would have been an important figure even if the war had never occurred.  It is good to see that his contributions are being more fully appreciated.


Firefox 13.0.1 Released

June 16, 2012

Mozilla has released a new version, 13.0.1, of its Firefox Web browser, for all platforms: Mac OS X, Windows, and Linux.  This appears to be primarily a bug fixing release, addressing problems with Windows Messenger and Hotmail, Flash player, and rendering of Hebrew text.  More details are available in the Release Notes.  There do not appear to be any new security fixes.

If you have enabled automatic checking for updates, Firefox should inform you of the new version.  Otherwise, you can obtain the new version via the built-in update mechanism (Help / About Firefox / Check for Updates), or you can download a complete installation package, in a variety of (human) languages.


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