feeds | grep links > Scribd Surprises Users with Paywall, An Open Source Low Bandwidth Codec, More on the IP Enforcement Bill, and More

  • Xerox PARC turns 40, The Register
  • Scribd quietly moves users docs behind a paywall
    Mike Masnick at Techdirt shares the realization by law professor Eric Goldman of this little publicized change. This action by the document sharing service defies reason. Goldman articulates how undoubtedly most of the users caught by this change must feel, used and trapped. Once again, this isn’t an issue with open or closed but moving from one to the other after a bargain was offered and a promise made. Even a much more clear shift would have been more tenable, if almost as unpalatable.
  • Is Facebook turning on online activists it used to support?, ReadWriteWeb
  • An open source, low bandwidth voice codec
    Slashdot points to a project whose main developer also worked on the Speex codec, another effort tailored to efficient coding of just voice. Mainly Codec2 looks to be focused on replacing a current, proprietary codec used in amateur radio but its capabilities are compelling, almost 4 seconds of clear speech in just over 1 kilobyte. It would be nice of some of the unencumbered ideas might find application in high quality voice encoding, too, perhaps to help fuel an open alternative to Skype with similar sound quality. Of course, that’s just the podcaster in me thinking out loud.
  • Mozilla joins Open Invention Network as licensee
    HT @glynmoody
  • Wendy Seltzer discusses new IP enforcement bill
    In this post on the Freedom to Tinker blog, Seltzer places the bill firmly in the context of piracy as a legal pretext for censorship. I didn’t touch on the issue of potential abuses but the point dovetails with what I explained yesterday about lowering friction. It simply becomes too easy to press a claim of infringement, legitimate or not, for the correct purpose or some lateral one such as suppressing dissenting speech.
  • EP votes on controversial anti-piracy report, TorrentFreak
  • Bill Tracker launched for legislation in the UK, BoingBoing

feeds | grep links > Newton on an iPad, More Softening of Apple Policies, PostgrSQL 9.0 Released, and More

  • Newton on an iPad
    Ht @stephenjayl. The link, which I also saw on Hacker News, is to a write up on the latest fun with a pre-existing project, Einstein, that runs Newton OS on modern hardware via emulation. Earlier this month, the code was ported to iOS and the poster has embedded a video of it running on his iPad. I only ever had one on loan and enjoyed using it. My enjoyment of nostalgic computing and specifically the MessagePad overrides my current irritation with Apple enough that if I had a compatible device, I might try running this.
  • Google Voice app approved in Apple’s app store
    As Slashdot explains, it isn’t the first app that was infamously approved, rejected, and then removed from the store. However, Google Voice Mobile is apparently in the process of being re-submitted and re-considered. As with the changes in Apple’s developer agreement, this signals a softening of policies, most likely because of complaints resulting in FTC scrutiny.
  • Modders bring emulation, homebrew games to PS3, Slashdot
  • Swedish Pirate Party fails to retain seat in parliament, The Register
  • Return to Castle Wolfenstein source code released, Slashdot
  • iPhone app piracy tool, source code up for sale, ReadWriteWeb
  • PostgreSQL 9.0 released
    The H has the new features in this release that has been backing for a while. One of the most interesting is replication. It answers my questions, as a long time user of the database server, on how the feature works. It is targeted at hot standby, easing the replication of the write ahead log, so it is distinct from the kind of replication performed by newer, post-relational databases.
  • Europe proposes international internet treaty, Slashdot

feeds | grep links > Security Concerns about Diaspora Code, 6502 Assembly in JavaScript, and More

feeds | grep links > Mozilla Inserts a Stability Beta, How-to Read a Patent, Babbage’s Debugger, and More

Apologies for the paucity of posts today. I am feeling brain drain from a technical presentation at the $employer today. And my mind is still spinning on re-working my audio workflow under Linux now that my mixer is working.

Nanoscale Mechanical Logic Inverter

David Pescovitz at BoingBoing points to some research at Case Western Reserve University that at first sounds like the ultimate homage to Babbage’s early mechanical computer. As he explains the project was funded by DARPA which is interested in components that would be much more reliable in high heat environments like inside a jet or rocket engine.

In a transistor, the voltage applied to one of the terminals, the gate, determines whether a current flows through it. But above 250 °C, the device becomes so awash with thermally generated electrons – even when it is supposedly off – that the voltage leaks through the gate to render the device useless. Even silicon carbide, the semiconductor material hardiest against heat, doesn’t remedy the situation.

The nanoscale levers that make the connection necessary for the inverter to function operate via electrostatic attraction when a current is applied, so are not purely mechanical. They are, however, resistant to temperatures in excess of five hundred degrees Celsius. Work remains, however, before practical application as some of the levers have melted or snapped after two billion cycles for reasons that remain unclear to the researchers.

I am usually very critical of the blithe application of the steampunk label. In this case, I think it resonates with the lateral thinking. Te-Hao Lee and his team re-visited concepts that pre-date modern electronics and effectively carried them forward, like retro futurism realized, to find benefits that complement the computing machinery that so successfully supplanted Babbage’s original designs.

Steampunk chip takes the heat, New Scientist (via BoingBoing)

feeds | grep links > Schmidt Steps in It Again, Acting Against Broadening of the CFAA, Automate News Site Digg is Gamed, and More

First Chapter of Rewritten Hacker Graphic Novel Complete

I enjoyed the original three volumes of Ed Piskor’s well researched and lovingly crafted graphic novel, Wizzywig. When I read a few months ago that instead of producing the conclusion as originally planned, Piskor was going to re-work those volumes improving the art and story telling then release everything as a single printed book, I was far from dismayed. I very much respect the courage it took for him to respond to constructive criticism in such a positive way. I’ll happily add the completed story to my book shelf next to the original version.

As part of the re-work, Ed has been posting a couple of the updated pages a week as a web comic. That’s a very savvy move as he’s more likely to attract new readers and hence potential buyers for the final book when its complete. He also just collected the first quarter of the story into a convenient download, in either CBR or PDF version. I think that is another clever move, giving potential readers more ways to enjoy the work how they want and hopefully then follow along for the rest of the story as he re-vamps and finishes it. I am especially pleased that both the new web site for the pages as web comic and the collected first chapter are now under a Creative Commons license enabling fans, like me, to more easily share Ed’s work.

Oh, and if you are curious about Ed, he’s posted a ton of video material lately that informed Wizzywig and his talk from HOPE about his experience working on the book. I am also planning on interviewing him early in September as he’ll be in town for the Small Press Expo in Bethesda, MD.

Chapter 1 is Complete, Wizzywig Comics by Ed Piskor

MacPaint Source Code Released to Museum

This article is well worth the read. I have been down on Apple quite a bit recently. The story here involves Donald Knuth’s admiration of the early Mac program as the impetus. It harkens back to some of the original developers of the software of the first Macintosh and the sort of coding required to do something so clearly useful with so few hardware resources. It is a solid reminder that even for a company that is beholden only to its bottom line, attitudes and values change over time, for both better and worse.

I am also drawn to the archaeological and historical aspects of the efforts needed to liberate the code. It is fortunate that a network enabled Lisa was ultimately found to read the floppies the original author, Bill Atkinson, was finally able to unearth. It is a matter of luck–I wonder how much software of this vintage and early has been resigned to the dust bin of history for want of even an emulator, let alone original hardware.

Apple donates MacPaint source code to computer history museum, via Slashdot.

TCLP 2010-07-11 News

This is news cast 218, an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

In the intro, thanks to new donor, Scott, and a request that existing donor Ryan contact me so I can send him his merit badge. Also, there will be new feature cast this week. I need to catch up on writing features for the show and I will be attending two events in DC this week: What Does Light Taste Like and Decoding Digital Activism.

This week’s security alerts are researchers form collective in response to Microsoft’s dismissal of a security concern and REMnux, a linux distro designed for reverse engineering malware.

In this week’s news new quantum states could lead to new approaches to quantum computing, the Apache web server conquers the world, another constructive criticism of transparency, and the NSA is looking to implement domestic surveillance of our infrastructure though they are quick to deny any active monitoring.

Following up this week, two UK ISPs are taking the Digital Economy Act to High Court.

View the detailed show notes online. You can also grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.

feeds | grep links > Origin of the Blink Tag, Blocking Political Speech with Copyright, 3D Information Storage, and More