Week in Review for 9/14/2008

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  • Info on how ISP, backbone peering and transit work
    An excellent high level guide to the technical aspects of how networks interconnect to form the internet and the affects this has, through the mechanisms of peering and transit, on its economics.
  • Law professor warns on ISP privacy apocalypse
    Law professor, Paul Ohm, points out in a new paper that new deep packet inspection gear and market and government forces are putting ISPs in a position to invade user privacy. He suggests the antidote is better enforcement of existing anti-wiretapping laws.
  • Geist calls for digital issues to be part of upcoming election campaigns
    For Canadians, Geist calls out the opportunity to capitalize on the candidates suiting of voters. He details five issues voters should call to their politicians attention during this attention reversal.
  • Without irony de Icaza warns of .NET lock in traps for Mono developers
    Mono’s original author and champion highlights risk in some new shared source from Microsoft. I wonder if the irony is lost on Miguel? I predicted this outcome and while its not anything too central to .NET it does reinforce the substantial risk on relying on a company not directly interested in cross platform support of its technology.
  • Shirky on unexpected results of new abundance
    He compares our current cognitive surplus to similar surpluses of past societies. More importantly, he explores what we might do with this surplus and encouraging pointers that a shift from consumption only to consuming, producing and sharing is being deeply ingrained in the coming generations.
  • More unintended consequences of music industry fighting digital music
    Labels removing of popular singles from iTunes leads some consumers to buy the cover versions rather than the physical CD. A pretty good illustration of consumers placing higher value on the instant, digital aspect than the authenticity of the good, much like with using piracy as an alternative.
  • Reasons for Mozilla’s commitment to Gecko over WebKit
    In short, many of the historical criticisms of Gecko have been addressed. Realistically, though, expecting WebKit, which Apple largely steers through a closed process, to serve to large masters is unrealistic.
  • Possible Kindle killer
    Thin with a full screen touch display and some pretty impressive software capabilities. It will be a while to market but if it can deliver on the promises of its first demonstration, then this could be the start of a trend towards truly usable dedicated ebook readers.
  • Google changes data retention policy
    This is bowing to pressure from regulators and privacy advocates by their own admission. They are not dropping the data after 9 months, as opposed to the previous 18. They start anonymizing the IP addresses after 9 months. This is not as good for consumers as dropping the data as studies have shown that much can still be recovered from anonymized data.
  • Virtual worlds incidentally teach the scientific method
    Hardly surprising given the problem solving nature of games and the tools, such as forums, available for collaborating players. Also, virtual worlds present a forgiving experimental environment where the cost of failure and retrying is very low.
  • New ebook on protecting yourself using electronic voting
    The book is a pocket guide and part of a larger activist group, Black Box Voting. It is a bit more than a pamphlet, at thirty plus pages, more of an activists guide. Definitely worth a read before the polls in November.
  • PGP, others step in to save Bletchley
    A fund raising campaign is being organized. PGP and IBM have already committed to donating and are encouraging other tech companies to do so in order to save this bit of computing history and heritage.
  • Micro payments yielding some success in online worlds
    Article speculates iTunes may have helped at least for digital goods get consumers used to paying small amounts. This appears to have translated into virtual worlds and MOGs where players can and do make micropayments for power ups and vanity goods. A compelling counter example to other attempts at propagating micro payment based systems.
  • TuneCore expands to help with indie film distribution too
    Their service for musicians is excellent, a valuable tool to independents. They are basically extending the same no nonsense model to independent films. TuneCore just does distribution, the article notes that creatives need to consider other aspects, like marketing and promotion, on their own.
  • Who owns ideas
    This is an excellently produced bit of audio by a large venue, the CBC, that covers the so called copyfight quiet well. Some familiar voices and some new ones. Long time listeners will be well familiar with the content, for others, its an accessible survey of the subject.
  • Uncomfortable corporate questions in wake of Red Hat breach
    This is a stark reminder that even the most progressive corporations have concerns, usually liabilities, that don’t perfectly mesh with open source values. What will be more telling is how the Red Hat-Fedora relationship operates moving forward.
  • Future of Django
    Some new features discussion but also a lot of consideration of processes and resources. Nothing particularly earth shattering other than the 1.0 milestone being a solid release on which to build towards some long standing requests. And ponies.
  • Court defends 4th amendment against warrant-less cell phone tracking
    A federal court confirmed a lower courts unanimous defense of 4th amendment protections on appeal. At stake whether law enforces to could bypass probable cause in acquiring location data for suspect cell phones.
  • Telcos rational for suing to stop muni fiber network
    The protection of taxpayers argument is torturous at best. And it is unclear what legal line the telco thinks the city crossed. Seems the telco didn’t want to serve the community until someone else was willing and wants to spin it as they just didn’t realize the citizens seriously wanted fiber before they actually broke ground to build it themselves.
  • VA court strikes down anti-spam law
    The court found the law didn’t make a clear enough, or any, distinction between types of speech and hence ran afoul of free speech. The state’s AG intends to appeal to the Supreme Court and meanwhile a convicted spammer has been set free.
  • Review of “IP and OS”, interview with author
    The book appears to be a survey of current law, less of a guide for innovators as some other books suggest directions where these laws can be stretched and perhaps reformed for the better. For the hacktivist, you can never understand the current laws too well for the purposes of arguing for change.
  • HTML 5 already changing the web before it is even complete
    Sounds like we are back, a bit, to vendors implementing features then trying to get them blessed as standards. Not necessarily for the same reasons as the original browser war but it may be the price of moving the state of features on the web forward, again, after such a lengthy period of stagnation.
  • Government attention turns to cloud computing
    At stake is whether standards around privacy and security should be regulated to match consumer expectations based on systems they own already. These questions will no doubt take a great deal of time to answer to everyone’s satisfaction, or even to a reasonable compromise.

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