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Week in Review for 9/21/2008

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  • Palin flaunts privacy, generates spam
    This sort of misapprehension about the state of technology and the law is worse than the usual and somewhat rampant technical illiteracy. This regardless of the other issues raised by the article.
  • Google’s floating data havens
    I wonder how genuine this is? Or is Google put it out as some form of disinformation since getting bandwidth out to these centers would be such a challenge. If it is disinformation, to what end, though? Still, its a compelling idea outside of its core flaw.
  • Murder conviction based on brain scan
    This raises uncomfortable questions that we should attempt to answer even if the science in question is not as advanced as claimed. If lie detectors are inadmissible and in the developed world we cannot be made to self incriminate, I think the standard in this case should be clear.
  • New consortium forms to enable some consumer rights
    Beyond an announcement and a list of participants, from whom Apple is notably missing, there is little here. Despite CSS and the DMCA, we largely have what they are proposing at the cost of buying and ripping DVD library, much like CDs and MP3s. I’d be happier with dropping of HDCP/ICT.
  • Industry consortium is all about new DRM
    There is some more detail on DECE here, clarifying that the technology and services will be built around DRM. If industry wants to complete with Apple, it should follow music which ditched DRM to get into Apple’s devices at everyone’s benefit.
  • Web inventor wants truth ratings for web sites
    I am not sure that issues of trust and reputation are paramount to the goals of the new WWW Foundation which seems more focused on access for all and social development. If the whole web is accessible to more and more people, they will have all they need to research and exercise critical judgment in defense against control and propaganda.
  • AT&T to temporarily throttle high bandwidth users
    If the FCC hadn’t been investigating, would this have come to light? It still sounds like the telco wants everyone to believe this is just reasonable network management when it seems at least as much about favoring their captive services.
  • Microsoft responds to privacy concerns with MSIE8
    As much as I hate to give Microsoft some props, their explanations seem reasonable. Even if they are not being completely honest, this sort of response should increase pressure on all the browser makers to improve privacy.
  • OneWebDay is here again
    It is actually Monday, the 22nd, and this year’s theme is online democracy. The PK article has tons of links to stories and events to commemorate the day. This resonates with the focus of the new WWW Foundation, social development and access for all.
  • Latest in battle for source code of breathalyzer
    The follow effects of these requests for source code are staggering. But really, any such complex tools used by public servants should be open for inspection by members of the public, plain and simple. Contracts should not be awarded to suppliers who won’t comply.
  • PC Magazine’s top ten hacks
    There are some serious entries here but it is liberally leavened with the irreverent. I think that is actually pretty fair given how irreverence is a key hacker quality.
  • Paper on problem of interoperability under the DMCA
    Another compelling criticism of the DMCA. And it bolsters the characterization of the DMCA as allowing companies to essentially craft their own, new, exclusive rights via technology protection measures.
  • Researchers claim to have created first true 3D processor
    According to their claims, this processor seems to take genuine advantage of the 3D geometry rather than just stacking for higher density. It also looks like the research is building on the notion of incorporating more diverse functions into the processor that traditionally are done in software or with off chip components.
  • Reality of 3D processor cubes
    Some background and context on chip stacking and the research around 3D processors. Clarifies that the Rochester cube is a valid research milestone but not as revolutionary as its own PR claims.
  • Public Resource, et. al. buy gov’t data they think should be open
    This is comparable to other open and transparent government efforts and the cost and effort they had to go to emphasizes the point.
  • New state database could introduce problems at the polls
    It is hard to fault the motives but as at least one critic notes, perhaps some greater transparency would have allowed for more accurate solutions to issues of bad data entry and the like.
  • Paying extra for an RFID driver’s license
    There are the same privacy risks here as usual but the fact that it is opt in and has an associated additional cost suggest that maybe some will think a bit before putting down their change. Also, the fact that the chip adds limited capabilities to only cross near by borders may help limit the risk.
  • TV Watch helps parents keep tabs on kids’ TV on their own
    This sounds like an excellent resources for fans of responsible parenting rather than cumbersome additional regulations for “safe” content. I am happy to see we have arrived at some of the suggestions independently in our own home.
  • Comcast discloses throttling practices
    Despite the disclosure, Comcast still seems to be trying to maintain it did nothing wrong. The information seems to bear out what critics have been saying, however. The FCC, at least, seems resolute in its ruling.
  • More on Comcast’s new network management approach
    At least one paper, the provider seems to be complying with the FCC’s ruling. I am curious to see how and if customers perceive any difference in their level of service if Comcast carries out these new measures in good faith.
  • New version of SquirrelFish leap frogs TraceMonkey, V8
    I take this as a good sign that at least outside of Redmond the browsers are competing in a healthy way to the benefit of web developers and users. I am also pleased to see increasing sophistication in the techniques used to speed and stabilize the script interpreters. Perhaps real implementations will put pressure back on the standard for that to percolate into the language itself, again.

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The Command Line by Thomas Gideon
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