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    • Join Date: Apr 2006
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    #1

    Re: Bounty Hunter -from economist.com

    HERE is a dilemma. Suppose you are a computer hacker and you discover a bug in a piece of software that, if it were known to the bad guys, would enable them to steal money or even a person's identity. It would be a feather in your cap. But feathers do not pay the rent. So how might you sell your discovery for the highest price? Asking for cash from the company that sold the buggy software in the first place sounds a bit like blackmail. The implicit threat is that if the firm does not stump up, the knowledge might end up in disreputable hands. But, in truth, it is mainly that possibility which gives the bug value in the first place. What, then, is a fair price, and who is to negotiate it?
    1. Is “software” an uncountable noun?

    2. feathers do not pay the rent.= another slang too?
    (I know what “ a feather in your cap means here)


    3. Isn’t a computer hacker a bad guy? It seems that there is a little contradictory for me in below paraphraph.

    Suppose you are a computer hacker and you discover a bug in a piece of software that, if it were known to the bad guys, would enable them to steal money or even a person's identity


    Computer security | The bounty hunters | Economist.com

  1. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #2

    Re: Bounty Hunter -from economist.com

    Quote Originally Posted by florazheng1015 View Post
    1. Is “software” an uncountable noun?
    Yes. Software (plural), not softwares, but that doesn't mean it can't take quantification like, e.g., a piece of bread. The noun bread is also non-count.

    2. feathers do not pay the rent.
    In other words, there isn't a monetary reward for the good deed, for discovering the bug in the software.

    3. Isn’t a computer hacker a bad guy? It seems that there is a little contradictory for me in below paraphraph.
    Not at all. There are three meanings:

    1. One who is proficient at using or programming a computer; a computer buff.
    2. One who uses programming skills to gain illegal access to a computer network or file.
    3. One who enthusiastically pursues a game or sport: a weekend tennis hacker.
    Source: The American Heritage®
    Dictionary of the English Language, Fourth Edition
    Published by Houghton Mifflin Company. 2006 by Houghton Mifflin Company.


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    #3

    Re: Bounty Hunter -from economist.com

    Casiopea, merci!

  2. BobK's Avatar
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    #4

    Re: Bounty Hunter -from economist.com

    Quote Originally Posted by florazheng1015 View Post
    1. Is “software” an uncountable noun?

    2. feathers do not pay the rent.= another slang too?
    (I know what “ a feather in your cap means here)


    3. Isn’t a computer hacker a bad guy? It seems that there is a little contradictory for me in below paraphraph.

    Suppose you are a computer hacker and you discover a bug in a piece of software that, if it were known to the bad guys, would enable them to steal money or even a person's identity


    Computer security | The bounty hunters | Economist.com
    1 Usually; in "21st century lives are run by software" it is. But some software developers are getting into the habit of using "software" as a countable equivalent of "software package".

    2 No. it's not an idiom; it just borrows the image of "feathers" from the ones in your cap. (There is a related idiom, "to feather your nest" - meaning take advantage of present circumstances to provide for your own comfort in the future - but that isn't used here [although it may have been swimming around in the back of the writer's mind].

    3 A "hacker" is often bad, but usually by implication. Some people distinguish between a "cracker" (someone who 'breaks in' to computers/accounts) and a "hacker" (someone who messes around with computer code, but not a professional - I've met people in the IT world who said things like "I'm not a software engineer, just a hacker".) The verb 'hack' can be used to refer to the process of taking a working program and making it do what you want; the resulting code is inelegant, and wouldn't pass muster in professional circles - perhaps it defines variables that aren't used, and so wastes memory in a way that wasn't done in the first 20-30 years of commercial computing, when every byte mattered. But it works.

    b

  3. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #5

    Re: Bounty Hunter -from economist.com

    Quote Originally Posted by florazheng1015 View Post
    Casiopea, merci!
    You're most welcome.

  4. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #6

    Re: Bounty Hunter -from economist.com

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    1 Usually; in "21st century lives are run by software" it is.
    I'm kind of lost here. How is that count? How is it different from, say, the non-count noun in Man doesn't live by bread alone?

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK
    But some software developers are getting into the habit of using "software" as a countable equivalent of "software package".
    Again, sorry, I'm a wee bit lost. Isn't software an adjective in that phrase?


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    #7

    Re: Bounty Hunter -from economist.com

    Bob, thank you for your reply. I got it.

  5. BobK's Avatar
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    #8

    Re: Bounty Hunter -from economist.com

    Quote Originally Posted by Casiopea View Post
    I'm kind of lost here. How is that count? How is it different from, say, the non-count noun in Man doesn't live by bread alone?

    Again, sorry, I'm a wee bit lost. Isn't software an adjective in that phrase?
    It's not. I'm agreeing with 1 (see quote).

    And yes, it is. I'm saying that in order to get round the uncountability of "software" some people use periphrases like "software package", and other people in the IT world (possibly not native speakers) shorten it to "software" (as if it were a countable noun). I don't like it, but it happens often enough for me to think the grammar's in a state of flux. But - florazheng1015 - the safer option is as Casi says.

    b

  6. BobK's Avatar
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    #9

    Re: Bounty Hunter -from economist.com

    Afterthought:

    Casi: I don't understand what happened to the timestamps, but when I posted my reply stamped at 16.53 I hadn't seen yours of 16.15. Sorry if I ruffled any feathers - I certainly didn't intend to contradict you.

    b

  7. Casiopea's Avatar

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    #10

    Re: Bounty Hunter -from economist.com

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    Sorry if I ruffled any feathers - I certainly didn't intend to contradict you.

    b
    No feathers were ruffled. The more contradictions, the better the discussion.

    Contradict away!

    Thank you for explaining your post. You're intended meaning wasn't clear to me. Now it is.

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