If you’re an experienced developer, you may have encountered a strange phenomenon: a program can run perfectly fine under a debugger, yet still crash when executed standalone, i.e. outside a debugger session. The mere act of observing the program under a debugger yields to different results than running the program as-is.

After a recent update to FreeBSD 8, my USB attached HP LaserJet 1320 stopped printing via CUPS. No hint at all why, and /var/log/cups/error_log was of no help either. Print jobs simply accumulated in the print queue, but there was no LED blinking on the printer. Sending PostScript directly to /dev/ulpt0 worked, but sending it via CUPS didn’t do any good.

Bruce Schneier’s new op-ed in CNN regarding government-mandated secret backdoors in communication software and equipment, and how Chinese government may have misused a (possible) backdoor in Google’s GMail that was designed to allow remote access to the U.S. government, doesn’t come as a surprise. It’s just funny how badly secured those remote access capabilities are, and how easily they can be used by third parties.