Week in Review for 8/10/2008

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  • IETF on P2P bandwidth optimization, conservation
    Research into making P2P more operator friendly continues. During regular meeting, IETF held BoF sessions on bandwidth identification for P2P and optimizing bandwidth utilization.
  • Fixing the poor usability of free software
    This is detailed and constructive. I think it is also pretty fair. The suggested solutions fall across the spectrum, from economic and reputation incentives to altering team composition and norms.
  • New variation of MySQL tries to tackle performance for the cloud
    Experimental version is stripped down and lean, intended for large scale applications and to compete with innovative large data stores from Google and Amazon. It also drops Windows support. If successful, could help spark a shift in data layer design and development away from pure relational systems.
  • Fraunhofer invests in next generation audio research
    The articles title is misleading as Fraunhofer is already backing AAC. The investment is into a research center working a wide variety of applications, including improving HD AAC, their lossless format, as well as audio for portable devices and digital radio.
  • Legalizing remote recording services
    On appeal, the judge ruled that the key element was customer volition, not where the data is stored, local or remote. The judge also clarified that for a copy to be considered under copyright, it must be permanent and stable, distinguishing these from incidental or transitory copies like during file transmission and other uses.
  • Two key privacy cases for which the EFF has filed briefs
    The first case concerns interception of email and the second access to cell phone location data. Both are up for appeal and the EFF is working hard for privacy protecting outcomes.
  • TorrentSpy appealing ruling on MPAA hacking into its email servers
    Here’s some more detailed on the first case in the previous link. While TorrentSpy has shuttered their server, they are fighting on appeal the legality of the MPAA hiring a hacker to acquire their internal email messages.
  • US government is apparently exempt from the DMCA
    This smacks of a double standard though apparently there are established standards for sovereign immunity. Where there are not, as in this case with the DMCA, the judge simply ruled arbitrarily that the law was targeted at individuals and didn’t apply to government bodies. Could the LoC, others use this to their advantage?
  • Sneak peek at Microsoft supposed next OS
    That this is the next Windows is uncertain, it is more an incremental step from pure research to more practical software. From the description, it is unclear if this project is meant for the server space or the desktop. I am unconvinced the needs of both, even in the future, will overlap strongly if at all.
  • Future of Mozilla, web concept video
    The structured data and remix functionality is pretty damn cool. Some of the privacy concerns, like sharing personal data so freely with online services (there’s one example of it doing so automatically not in response to a user action) is a bit concerning. The actual graphics are the least interesting to me.
  • IBM opens supercomputer code
    Released at LinuxWorld and already available at NCSA. Odd that the hardware choices are limited though hardly surprising they show a bias towards IBM systems. Looks like a toolkit for building clusters specifically for super computing applications. Not likely to be as accessible to a wide variety of users as other open source projects, like Beowulf.
  • iPhones appearing to be calling home, allowing remote app disabling
    This in the wake of some remote application deactivation, the dark side of the iPhone that some, like Zittrain, warned of. Based on one hackers investigations uncovering a url in the software that looks like the site of a remote black list.
  • Alternate explanation for iPhone black list site
    A plausible alternative to the black list url being for application disabling is that it actually is a location services black list, to turn off Core Location in sensitive places.
  • Why COBOL could come back
    I’ve always maintained that there is no such thing as legacy code. The arguments here are that the cost to maintain existing, functional COBOL code are lower than the cost to rewrite/replace, especially in the wake of shrinking budgets. That means there could be a rise in demand for COBOL maintenance coders.
  • Black Hat wrap up
    A very brief overview for those that weren’t there. Highlights mentioned were Kaminsky’s talk on the DNS flaw, EFF’s coders’ rights project, and Cisco coming around on its former stance of secretiveness to the point of litigation.
  • Correct attribution more important than stopping piracy of works
    This is a good corollary to the norms around copying on the internet and that obscurity is a bigger threat than piracy to creators. Ensure attribution is consistent, clear and correct is more important, then, to stopping illicit copies, especially for artists who continue to produce and audiences who will seek them out for more of the same.
  • O’Reilly’s news site on Patry ending his blog
    This is mostly an excerpt from a new O’Reilly book, one on my wishlist, that helps explain how we got to the state of affairs that Patry cites as being too depressing. This touches on a lot of ideas I’ve seen explored and discussed in the last few years by some of the best and brightest.
  • WP based roll your own social network
    I have to agree with WebMonkey, I’d like to see WordPress do more like DiSo. Also the open micro blogging protocol would be a good idea, along with OEmbed and OAuth. WordPress already doesn OpenID.
  • Finger print test reveals what owner has touched
    This product is already in the market, for one, and the privacy implications are stunning. It sounds difficult to use widely and for anything other than after the fact analysis, but the remarks by the researchers to miniaturize it, admittedly for other applications, could see if used more proactively by law enforcers in the field.
  • MIT students gagged by courts from fare card hack demo
    The MBTA has pressed charges under the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, EFF is defending on First Amendment grounds. The students planned to withhold a key detail to help prevent their work being used for fraudulent purposes. Undoubtedly this information is already in the hands of attackers, even if it is a small number of them.

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