Week in Review for 10/26/2008

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  • Horrible terms of Sony’s new ToS for the PS3
    The twin thrusts of the changes are that Sony will retain all of the users data, both incidental and generated, and that the user bears all risk for downloaded content. This is notable more for the degree to which it reaches rather than what it is doing specifically.
  • Washington Post on growing voting database problems
    The problems discussed appear to be with matching between state and federal databases. The consequences are potentially as dire as the known issues with e-voting systems though the origins of the problem are more general, similar to the Achille’s heel of metadata.
  • ISP shuts label down because it thought it was infringing itself
    The ISP was clearly being over zealous, somewhat understandably given the suits and press for secondary liability. The problem was compounded by the label in question, one supporting free music, having issues producing paper proving they cleared or owned the copyrights in question.
  • PGP to offer encryption in the cloud
    The parts in the cloud are apparently the management components of disk encryption, targeted at agencies and enterprises who want to reduce operating cost but need the added protection. It may be an entre to adding encryption for email and other data that actually does live or traverses through the internet.
  • The problem with Wikipedia’s valuing of verifiability
    The press to ensure citation may have over balanced the scales. The article does a good job of identifying the accuracy risks presented by well cited articles that otherwise have problems with their factual correctness. Citation is somewhat measurable, accuracy otherwise is still a challenge.
  • Feds target biker’s IP in raid
    This is an odd wrinkle but seems to be a small part of a criminal bust. It makes a certain amount of sense, in context, that part of the danger of a gang is its ability to so strongly self identify. So being able to seize gang logo paraphernalia may be seen as a way to erode the gangs morale.
  • Google helps get voting information out
    Doesn’t appear to be any partisan angle to this. Just services to help get everyone out to the polls by helping them find their designated polling place.
  • Rackspace buys Slicehost, moves to compete with Amazon
    A good sign that the platform as a service space is lively.
  • New state of matter could have computing applications
    The matter in the research is in the form of a novel crystal-like structure that may yield higher density of packing transistors. However, when the mention the temperatures involved, comparing to intergalactic space, I have to wonder about the barriers to practical applications.
  • OH elections web site hacked
    This appears to be part of a larger battle over the key state. State officials stated no personal data had been compromised, but some services were disabled while the site was being investigated.
  • Yet another “open” DRM scheme
    Despite the rhetoric about allowing users to own their content, it is still DRM. And not the first such approach. I am all the more skeptical as Sony is involved.
  • Broadband over power lines is dead
    Its demise appears to be a combination of higher than expected costs in necessary equipment and speeds of incumbent technologies improving while BPL’s performance remained relatively static. The silver lining is that the technology may remain in limited use for smarter, better managed power grids.
  • First video game, in 1958
    I heard about this on CBC’s Spark. A fascinating bit of computing and video gaming history.
  • Court rules search engine caches aren’t copyright infringement
    There is actually some interesting detail here, though the plaintiff seems a bit suspect. The case is moving forward on a question of implicit contracts, but otherwise the activity in the case is helping to protect search engines as a critical internet service.
  • Exchanging pictures to generate passwords
    This seems interesting on the surface but I have to agree with one of the commenters. If the photos are being reduced to biometrics, rather than a full input hash, then any picture of the subject will do, leading to some real world man-in-the-middle style attacks that would be hard to prevent.
  • Google launches user debate site to complement Knol
    This is actually a feature within Knol. Sounds somewhat like the discussion aspects of Wikipedia and perhaps for similar purposes.
  • Sharing innovation online
    This is another compelling aspect about online content creation and sharing, not just the content but also exchanging knowledge and helping foster skills and research. This is a single example, but read the Make blog these days and a high percentage of the posts have accompanying video.
  • Recommendation engine for music by “Father of MP3”
    The system works on per computational analysis, based on Brandenburg’s not inconsiderable knowledge of the subject. The results may not sound entirely desirable based on the article’s tests. However, it may suggest an intriguing balance between such a pure approach leavened with the most basic, and easiest to verify, metadata, like year, composer, performer and genre.

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