Week in Review for 10/19/2008

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  • 3D printing on demand
    I believe this is a recognizable step on the commoditization of 3D printing technology. We saw this with computing before it, between the large bastions making huge investments and small business and individuals being able to afford computers, there was a window where motivated actors could cost effectively bridge that gap. Let’s hope 3D printing for everyone is on the horizon.
  • Another criminal hacker gone legit
    This is almost not news. I do worry that publicity for former criminals going legitimate like this may foster an unfair impression that this is a common way for experts to enter the field when that is decidedly not the case.
  • Keeping chip lithography going, without masks
    Maskless lithography is not new but traditional approaches are slow despite the benefit of being able to change chip designs much more cheaply. The breakthrough here is solving some lens control issues for existing research into etching in parallel with multiple beams of light. Could keep Moore’s law marching on die size alone for a bit longer.
  • City of DC adopting cloud computing for office apps
    I hope such a high profile win brings more attention to the importance of data ownership and autonomy. And not just as a one-off, a special consideration for a customer like the district.
  • English court allows patent for “complex” software
    Software patents in the UK have traditionally been weaker or non-existent. A ruling, re-affirmed on appeal in a case involving Symbian, allows for stronger patents there, lamentably bringing it in line with the rest of the EU and the US.
  • Three out of five competing machines pass Turing test
    Some are skeptical of the results, including one of the contestants. The other coverage I read chalked up some of the success to conversational tricks, like sarcasm. This article even admits the outcome is potential in limited commercial applications, not ringing any bells of AI research.
  • UK ruling reduces rights to not self incriminate
    The case in question involves suspected terrorists and RIPA, so is pretty charged to begin with. Hardly surprising that a judge ruled on appeal that the accused had to hand over their encryption keys, regardless of other rights to not self incriminate, based on the key having an independent existence.
  • Linux to get new, advanced file system
    The motivation is large volumes in the enterprise, not any concern with desktop systems per se. The plan seems to be to release an incremental improvement on ext3, ext4, and see what comes of putting a call out for an entirely new file system.
  • Microsoft’s ethical guidelines
    All this really does is drive home the uncomfortable gap between morals and the law. Like the fact that plagiarism is not illegal it is only immoral. The legal concept of infringement is different and of necessity has a strict, practical definition.
  • Mozilla starts new R&D group
    This is a new group within Mozilla labs with a focus on developer tools and open standards. The goal seems to be to improve the web overall by helping build better tools for developing sites and applications.
  • OOo 3.0 released, amid concerns
    Response has been mixed, with Ars being favorable and others thinking the new feature, improvements are mediocre at best. The concern comes from friction between Sun managing the overall development and some of the corporate backed contributors. The real cause for concern is possible stalling of development just when ODF, an independent standard but OOo’s default file format, is beginning to pick up in adoption.
  • Citrix enters field of portable VMs
    Another test balloon in making VMs interoperable. Looks like they cover about half of the currently popular virtualization offerings.
  • German court OKs retention of IP addresses as non-personal data
    This is a hefty blow against privacy. The problem is that it is trivial to correlate an IP address across vast amounts of data to infer identity even in the absence of direct association with other customer data.
  • Canada elects 34 who support fair copyright
    The conservative minority is likely to table another attempt at a Canadian DMCA. Support for Geist’s copyright pledge will be critical in any attempt to achieve a balance when considering changes to Canadian copyright law.
  • Comprehensive internet scan reveals millions of idle IP4 addresses
    The question is whether recovery of these idle addresses is practical. Maybe when IP blocks need to be renewed, that renewal could be conditioned on consolidating and freeing idle addresses. More likely are some changes to future allocations to help reduce unused addresses.
  • Internet literacy seems to engage the brain more
    Just observations comparing reading to searching on the internet. Perhaps due to the multivariate nature of such searches. One of the researchers seems to be suggesting internet use as a way for aging folks to keep their minds sharp, like cognitive puzzles. I think there are plenty of other good reasons, such as staying up on current events affecting their lives better than by using other media.
  • Android has a remote kill switch, Google admits it up front
    This is hardly surprising. I have to imagine that this is motivated by their alliance with the carriers, much as would have to be the case with Apple and AT&T. Apple has drawn fire for using theirs beyond what would seem to be legitimate concerns for the carrier, such as abusing bandwidth or other resources.
  • World’s smallest IP6 stack
    There is an interesting implication, here, that using IP6 for ubiquitous computing conducted in appliances and devices first may alleviate the strain on the nearly fill IP4 address space, buying time for workstations and servers to make the leap much later than they would need to otherwise.
  • New UK bill threatens mass electronic surveillance
    The Home Secretary defends it by trying to characterize it as similar to pen registers, as content-less. Critics point out this data is already available under voluntary retention by operators and call for better justification.
  • Australia starts censoring internet access
    You can opt out only by opting into a different filtering scheme. The stated goal, not surprisingly, is to protect kids from online porn. Despite all the evidence that filtering doesn’t work and the cost of false positives is too high, governments just keep trying this–isn’t that the very definition of insanity?
  • Opera study finds small percentage of standards compliant sites
    The fact that so few sites are compliant is hardly surprising. Browser makers have bent over backwards to support quirks and to leniently parse markup. The characterization of tags and technologies being used it much more interesting.
  • Schneier skeptical of quantum crypto
    Actually, he doesn’t see it as any more useful, commercially, than mathematical crypto. His reasoning is that crypto is usually already the strongest link in a security system whose overall security is bounded by the strength of its weakest link. Strengthening the crypto doesn’t improve the overall security of the system.
  • Mass ARG used to speculate, plan for the future
    I first heard about McGonigal’s lastest on CBC’s Spark. Sounds like fascinating stuff and a novel way of engaging people to thinking about problems and circumstances that otherwise they might not.
  • Google opens their XML page technology
    This seems pretty similar to the XML flavor of Sun’s Java Server Pages and Java Server Faces, though it may solve outputting to multiple syntaxes better than JSF.
  • RNA based logic gates in living cells
    Biological computers won’t necessarily outperform classical ones but may provide avenues into biological sensing that work better than other approaches.
  • The benefits of Google’s Android kill switch?
    The article cites two differences between Google and Apple. Google publishes the existing of this kill switch in their service agreement. The Android marketplace is completely open, as compared to the tightly controlled App Store, so the reasoning goes that a kill switch is the only safety and security mechanism available to Google.

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