Tweets from outer space

Friday Five: Why gambling and coding don’t mix

Chris Mayer

A smorgasbord of content that we noticed in the opening days of 2013.

After successfully sidestepping the apocalypse, the team at JAX Towers are back in the office and ready to take on 2013. Deep down, we’re secretly missing 2012 (after all we’re in London), but there’s plenty to be excited about within the development world.

Friday Five makes its return to provide an irreverent look back at the week that was. Whether you’re still enjoying the last days of your vacation or looking for a reprieve from the office, here’s five tidbits that we think deserve your attention.

1. Winning is the worst thing that can happen in Vegas

This thoughtful post from Ruby on Rails creator David Heinemeier Hansson caught our eye for its comparisons between ‘future coding’ with Las Vegas casinos, in discussing the gamble made by developers when opting for flexibility too early.

Our favourite quote: “The hardest—and yet most important—thing in the world of design is the conviction to say no.”

2. Software maker charged for promoting illegal gambling

Sticking with the betting theme, this Wired story sends out a stark warning to developers.

Software maker Bob Stuart has been charged with promoting illegal gambling in New York through his company, Extension Software. The software they create is sold to entities overseas, but the authorities say it also being used in that state by others for illegal betting. According to Wired:

New York authorities say that about $2.3 million that Robert Stuart and his company, Extension Software, received in cash and money orders for licensing his software constitutes direct proceeds of illegal, U.S.-based bookmaking operations.

Stuart maintains that he is “not aware of anyone using it in the U.S. or using it to take illegal bets in the U.S”. He adds that their software doesn’t place the bets themselves, but instead provides gambling sites with the infrastructure to select and display which sporting events they want to offer for betting and also stores the bets.

It’s a pretty complex case but it does bring about an intriguing question: should the developer be liable for how his/her software is used down the line?

“These defendants abetted large-scale illegal gambling in the U.S. and abroad,” said District Attorney Vance in an October press release when Stuart was indicted. “In doing so, they gave bettors an easy way to place illegal wagers, and created an appetite for further unlawful activity.”

“It’s overreaching where they’re going after a software developer who sells the software with a legal license, and yet we’re still being prosecuted on how it’s being used,” Stuart argues.

3. Tumblr of the Week – Devops Reactions

Flagged up on Twitter by Redmonk’s James Governor, this Tumblr is full of glorious and hilarious gifs to describe Devops feelings. Our personal favourite is this one, which is described as “The Operations room after a successful release”. 

4. A peek inside Google’s wallet

This eyecatching infographic, courtesy of Masters in Finance, charters Google’s meteoric rise in becoming the 2nd most valuable tech company in the world. Google’s profit margins have skyrocketed since 2008, with 96% of revenue coming from advertising. When you make your services available for free, you rake in the rewards if you can grow to Google’s size and link it into advertising.

5. An out-of-this-world Twitter exchange

This one is Star Trek gold. Actor William Shatner, best known for his role as Captain Kirk of the Enterprise, asks real-life Canadian astronaut, Chris Hadfield if he’s tweeting from space. Hadfield’s reply is brilliant. He’s also well worth following for some glorious shots from the International Space Station.

That’s your lot for this week – have a splendid weekend.

Image courtesy of clry2

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