Week in Review for 11/2/2008

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  • PHP gets namespace separator
    Committing to adding namespaces will make code re-use and maitainability better. The criteria for the new separator seem good on the surface but I have to side with the critics on this one in terms of how poor a choice the back slash really is.
  • RFID deployment moving forward despite provable security issues
    This is a good snapshot of where the technology is at with regards to security concerns and the pressures to move forward, regardless. Unfortunately, fixing the security issues gets harder with each non-secure rollout.
  • Belgian judge reverses order to ISP to filter infringing material
    I linked to this, maybe even spoke about it very briefly when it first was decided. The reason given for the reversible was technical unfeasibility. Despite other service providers now trying to sell filtering as a value added solution. I am against filtering, no mistake, but skeptical we can hold back the tide much longer without some clear, ringing indictment.
  • No e-voting in next year’s EU elections
    This appears to be a temporary reprieve. More of a time to take stock of previous pilots with an eye towards still more testing and deployment further out.
  • Microsoft Office moving into the cloud, too
    Well, they are retaining the desktop versions, too, and are apparently talking about moving components of office, not the suite whole sale. Their emphasis still seems to be on sharing and collaboration, not an outright replacement like Google’s office applications.
  • WV early voters reporting vote switches
    This is the only issue I can think of with early voting, since results won’t be available before election day and exit polls are largely disallowed, both things that might sway later voters. However, getting early reports of problems should put pressure on officials to address them sooner, rather than later, benefiting more voters than without early voting.
  • EFF marks 10 years of DMCA with report on unintended consequences
    Everybody has heard of at least one or two of these, like Lexmark, Chamberlain or the Sony CD rootkit fiasco. This looks to be a pretty comprehensive collection of reasons to reform and better balance copyright laws as they apply to digital goods and technology.
  • Wired asks in the DMCA had a silver lining
    This is a reasonable counter balance to the DRM concerns, though I don’t think the effects of anti-circumvention can be understated. Without the safe harbor which is contingent on the takedown mechanism, things might be different. Given the abuses, I am not entirely convinced we’d be wholly worse off without the safe harbor.
  • Windows Live to become OpenID provider
    This is good news for adoption, even if they are starting as a provider only. No doubt many use Live as their default home page or a big destination so it could act as a big incentive for other sites to accept OpenID for authentication.
  • Google adopts OpenID but forks it in doing so
    The reasons stated for breaking compatibility seem similar to the criticisms raised by Yahoo in their recent research. Still, Yahoo didn’t fork their implementation further muddying the waters. The Google offering seems limited, anyway. Hopefully by the time they open it up more generally, they’ll have come around to be more compatible with other providers and sites participating in OpenID and OAuth.
  • Australian conservatives trying to broaden reach of net filtering
    This seems pretty consistent with the attempts of conservatives elsewhere to condition access on protection of family values. Hopefully it will be as unsuccessful though building this incrementally on such a pervasive filtering scheme to begin with may make that harder to ensure.
  • Australian ISPs speak out against filtering
    As those first responsible for the average citizen’s experience of accessing the internet, these folks should know. And they should be heeded.
  • Student faces felony charges for finding, disclosing security flaws
    He was charged because he admitted it, despite the opportunity for any number of unknown attackers to have exploited this same weakness. It is hard to speak to intention on the scant details but outside of an extortive note, the school should own up for some of the responsibility, at least.
  • Hollywood threatens DVD rentals, first sale doctrine
    This action seems pretty transparent. RedBox beat the studio to the punch so they are threatening to choke off their supplier unless the innovator agrees to share revenues. It is also hugely overreaching in terms of the limits the first sale doctrine establishes.
  • Universal threatens kiosk maker because they are planning their own
    This better explains Universal’s actions though it definitely points to the unfair advantage larger players have in this space. Couldn’t this be argued as a form of unfair consolidation or, maybe more tenuously, bundling?
  • First look at Windows 7 UI
    This seems to be the biggest area of change/improvement in Windows 7. I can’t help but feel that the focus on window handling and the task bar feels hauntingly familiar to similar ideas I’ve seen in OS X and KDE.
  • Twitter pot calls Internet kettle black: “built wrong”
    It is easy to criticize after the fact. Apparently it is just as easy to overlook your own mistakes in trying to predict the outcomes of fresh engineering. I put more stock in those who understand that what we need are practical ways forward, not calls for wholesale scrapping of what we have which is just as likely to lead to similarly bad predictions for replacement systems.
  • Quantum key distribution system is hacked
    Theoretical problems in these systems prove far less costly to exploit practically than researchers expected. Worse, these flaws are pretty fundamental to the nature of the equipment used so just about impossible to engineer or manufacture away.
  • Conflict between entrepreneur and open source community over Twiki
    This seems pretty bone headed since the community is a large part of the value inherent in any mature open source project. This is also some pretty bad press, tantamount to the startup stealing the efforts of the volunteers with little or no consideration.
  • Optical fiber with silicon core
    The silicon core apparently allows the fiber to be more versatile, performing in fiber some functions otherwise done electronically or with separate optical circuits. This research is the first feasible production of a silicon core fiber with these advantages.
  • 3D printers as cheap as laser printers were in 1985
    It is hard not to get excited at contemplating a comparable price/performance curve for future 3D printers. Better yet, would the commoditization of these desktop units have lateral benefits for even more interesting projects like RepRap?
  • Is OpenMoko working on an Android based phone?
    It doesn’t seem that unlikely now that Google has made good on their open source commitments by publishing the full sources and documentation last week. Open hardware combined with a well backed open source sack does indeed seem like a compelling combination.
  • Opera sees new browsers helping awareness of browser choice
    This sentiment is in the mix with some other more Opera specific considerations. The idea makes sense as a form of halo effect, I suppose. Unfortunately, I think there is still a downside, in terms of a limit, at the moment, on the number of users, even if it is rising, willing to switch and a larger number of choices to divvy up that population.
  • Harvard law professor fighting to show RIAA suits are unconstitutional
    The two thrusts of his filing are that the laws in question are unconstitutional for blurring the lines between civil and criminal proceedings and that the RIAA abused the laws, regardless, based on its own words claiming different purposes than those allowed under the statutes. That is suing for educational causes rather than punitive.
  • iPhone apps as trojan horses for higher price music
    This isn’t so surprising, Pandora was available pretty quickly after the launch of the App Store, though that was not at a single label’s behest. The article notes both increased pricing and free or ad based offerings. I am unconvinced this would scale since all this music would live outside of the more manageable music library.
  • Blu-ray’s BD+ is cracked
    The article notes a commercial player previously but they retracted details under obvious fear of suit. This crack is by Doom9 who also previously cracked and published on AACS, the other DRM scheme used by the format.

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