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ExtraBITS for 17 October 2011

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Steve Jobs wasn’t the only industry giant to pass away the first week in October — we also note the passing of Dennis Ritchie, father of the C programming language and co-creator of the Unix operating system. Plus, we direct you to an important article by Instapaper developer Marco Arment, pointing out a potentially serious failing of iOS 5.

With iOS 5, It’s Cache as Cache Can -- Marco Arment, developer of Instapaper, explains why iOS 5 could mess up Instapaper and many other apps. If an app stores a lot of data in Documents, Apple now slaps its hand because Documents can be backed up by iCloud; but if an app stores a lot of data in Caches, iOS 5 can now delete that data at will. So any app that moves its data store from Documents to Caches can lose that data. Apple argues that this is okay because Caches is for data that can be reconstructed — say, by re-downloading it from the Internet. But what if the deletion happens while offline? Someone with a Wi-Fi-only device could store stuff just before leaving the house, only to find it gone later. And, as Marco points out, Apple deletes the data but the app developer receives the hate mail.

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Dennis Ritchie, Father of C, Passed Away October 8th -- Another giant of the computer industry died last week. Although nowhere near as famous as Steve Jobs, Dennis Ritchie was responsible for two of the key technologies that have made the modern Internet possible: his C programming language and the Unix operating system he built with Ken Thompson at Bell Labs. Ritchie was also the co-author, with Brian Kernighan, of the definitive book about C, “The C Programming Language,” which became so well known among programmers that it is usually referred to by the authors’ initials: “K&R”. Wired has more about Ritchie’s life.

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