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Finding the Needle In the Haystack

A new search technology could make peer-to-peer networks easier to use and help them become a legitimate online distribution channel

4 min read

Peer-to-peer networks are one of the last wild frontiers of the Internet. Anything that can be converted to bits, from the latest pop hit to political samizdat, can be shared between users. The decentralized designs common to public peer-to-peer networks make them resistant to legal or technological disruption, but they also create a weakness: it's hard to find anything but the most popular material, usually illegal music or barely legal pornography. Now, Los Angeles-based Streamcast Networks Inc. hopes to fix that weakness and to improve peer-to-peer's image into the bargain with a new search technology known as NEOnet.

If NEOnet succeeds in allowing users to find rarer content reliably on a peer-to-peer network--in the way that people use search engines today to find content on the Web--then it would be a big boost for peer-to-peer networks to become another channel, alongside the Web and FTP, for the legal distribution of things like software, multimedia products, or documentation.

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Why Functional Programming Should Be the Future of Software Development

It’s hard to learn, but your code will produce fewer nasty surprises

11 min read
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A plate of spaghetti made from code
Shira Inbar
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You’d expectthe longest and most costly phase in the lifecycle of a software product to be the initial development of the system, when all those great features are first imagined and then created. In fact, the hardest part comes later, during the maintenance phase. That’s when programmers pay the price for the shortcuts they took during development.

So why did they take shortcuts? Maybe they didn’t realize that they were cutting any corners. Only when their code was deployed and exercised by a lot of users did its hidden flaws come to light. And maybe the developers were rushed. Time-to-market pressures would almost guarantee that their software will contain more bugs than it would otherwise.

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