Four short links: 13 Apr 2009

Worms, sorting, languages, and infrastructure:

  1. Twitter XSS Attacks (Lynne Pope) — several incarnations of a worm spread quickly across Twitter this weekend. Twitter profiles are generated by themes, whose parameters users can change. The user-supplied value for the colour was used directly in the CSS color field without filtering, which the original worm strain used to end the CSS and begin Javascript to put the worm into the profile of any Twitter user who viewed the infected profile. Infected users were made to tweet about the worm, with links that would infect anyone who viewed. The worm spread quickly through RTing one of the worm’s messages, which claimed to link to instructions on fighting the worm. Later variants use background-color and background parameters. Initial variations downloaded Javascript from, since closed down by its hosting company. Later variants download the code from, the site that the initial variation spammed about. I wonder whether the 17-year old author of the variants will be able to pay his inevitable legal bills through Google click dollars? (also interesting: Sophos and bdonews)
  2. Visualising Sorting — some beautiful and informative illustrations of how sorting algorithms work. (via @ajtowns)
  3. Art and Code: Obscure or Beautiful?In the presentation called “50 in 50″ you can see Guy Steele rap about APL and later in the video about spelling keywords backwards. The song about God wrote in Lisp code is also a part of the presentation. Among the languages mentioned are APL, Cobol, AP/I, Scheme, IPL-V, AED, Madcap, Piet, SNOBOL, ADA, Algol60, Intercal, Logo, Perligata, Shakespeare, Lucid, Occam, HQ9+, MUMBLE, Rake, Perl and of course Lisp. It kicks in at about 3m20s and is rather a post-modern presentation. (via
  4. Experiences Deploying Large-Scale Infrastructure in Amazon EC2As an aside, I’ve been very impressed with the reliability of EC2. Like many other people, I didn’t know what to expect, but I’ve been pleasantly surprised. Very rarely does an EC2 instance fail. In fact I haven’t yet seen a total failure, only some instances that were marked as ‘deteriorated’. When this happens, you usually get a heads-up via email, and you have a few days to migrate your instance, or launch a similar one and terminate the defective one. (via Simon Willison)

[Heapsort Illustration]

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