Taxonomic Software

A small window into a large world, with its own software:
biological software, including DELTA, a DEscription Language for TAxonomy, database software, ecology software, morphometric, paleontologic, and phylogentics software. (Hey, I need a taxonomy just to keep the breakdowns straight!)

Or DMOZ has a page, but it doesn’t seem as comprehensive.

What I want to do is to throw keywords at database and have them organized for me. I suspected that this may be sufficiently specialized as to not have software available for it, but I’m no longer so sure.


Biological taxonomy is not fixed, and opinions about the correct status of taxa at all levels, and their correct placement, are constantly revised as a result of new research, and many aspects of classification will always remain a matter of judgement. The ITIS database is updated to take account of new research as it becomes available, and the information it yields is likely to represent a fair consensus of modern taxonomic opinion. Inevitably, however its information cannot be final, and is likely to be more reliable for some groups than others.

So says Wikipedia, in discussing ITIS, the Integrated Taxonomic Integrated System. Who knew that the USDA was in charge of calling us homo sapiens?, the story

As anyone who takes advice from the Vice President now knows, he didn’t really mean to tell you to go to, but, whose article still doesn’t fully support his point.

This little glitch lead the owners of, a small site that lists sellers of dictionaries and encyclopedias, to suffer a massive denial of service attack.

When they figured out what was happening, they redirected visitors to George Soros’s anti-Bush site, which seems to be down as I type it.

File under security not only for the denial of service attack, or the clever response, but the important need for integrity as a component of a security plan.

(Via Dave Farber, posting to interesting-people.)

Ranum on the root of the problem

Marcus Ranum writes a good article for ACM Queue, in which he points out that better tools to improve languages can help. I take issue with his claim that better languages can’t help. Java, because of its string representation, is harder to mess up with than C. Its not perfect, and no useful language can solve the entire problem.

Richard at Taosecurity propagates the myth of -Wall. Things are about to get (deeply) technical, follow the jump if you know what -Wall means.

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How about "Align with the business?"

I normally have a lot of respect for CIO Magazine. Their journalists cover the topics that matter to CIOs, they remain focused on how to make the technology support the business, etc. That’s why I was surprised to see this CIO’s Guide To Safe Computing, which starts:

Ellyn believes that companies should strive for a holistic approach to achieving security. The top 15 strategies for computing responsibly are highlighted in the report and are practices IT departments of any size should implement if they haven’t already done so.

1. Establish strong identity management for network access, ideally including passwords, smart cards and biometrics.

2. Strictly control password management and administration; avoid outsourcing this at all costs.

Not until #14 do we get to policies, and even there, its not about the business.

Number 13 starts out well: “Inspect the software development practices of vendors to determine …” their ability to control backdoors? How about their ability to control the use of gets()?!?

To be fair, I haven’t read the report–it may contain language about business alignment which is hard to summarize into a bullet list.