Week in Review for 12/7/2008

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  • Reality mining and the privacy debate
    This is an incremental step beyond the existing privacy threats, driven by the same concerns, largely the tension between convenience and the desire to use this data, these tools to improve revenue.
  • Potential effect of the Drew verdict
    The problematic verdict conflates violation of terms of service with the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, itself a tricky bit of legislation that has been misused repeatedly already. It sets a precedent, a bad one, where others could make similar arguments, effectively turning ToS into private laws.
  • Busting the myth of the inevitable PC upgrade
    Linux users have know this for some time, getting more use out of older systems for longer than PC makers want us to believe. This is kind of an interesting silver lining to Vista’s woes, at least for consumers tired of the upgrade treadmill.
  • change.gov switches to CC license
    Probably more valuable for the example it sets and the signal it sends than out of any necessity. Lessig points out that much government works, like sites, is already exempt.
  • MySQL 5.1 released with mixed success
    Most of the problems seem to be in the new features, though MySQL’s original creator urges extensive testing even for those considering 5.1 just an upgrade to existing features. Monty blames the quality issues on changes in process and goals around releases.
  • OpEd on what still needs fixing in Linux
    This list is a real mixed bag, some of it seems to reveal the author’s ignorance. I’ll concede a few like the kernel ABI’s and audio, but the rest seem overstated, in my opinion, or just flat out wrong.
  • ReadWriteWeb details Facebook Connect vs. OpenID
    They have a good graphic laying out the differences between the too. They like both but are slightly favoring OpenID since it is an open standard.
  • Google launches Friend Connect
    This is a direct response to Facebook Connect but has a couple of drawbacks. Data is not truly exchanged, staying locked up in Google’s widgets and there is no central point for managing privacy. Otherwise it is standards based, using OpenID and OAuth.
  • Publishing info on law enforcers to carry stiff penalty in the UK
    This is a proposed amendment to the pretty hideous Terrorism Act in the UK. It isn’t passed yet but would make the battle between advocates for transparency and accountability and the authorities that much worse.
  • 20 year anniversary of seminal Dijkstra paper
    I think his contention about radical novelty still holds water. I am tempted to say that several decades of coping with computing has better acclimated us but he does a good job of ruling that out by drawing the notion into a deeper historical context. Online innovation also makes the novelty of standalone or personal computing look tame by comparison.
  • Low cost of netbooks gives them hack appeal
    I think this is actually fairly obvious but glad someone is discussing it. I think this also goes to explain the appeal of the OLPC, arguable the prod that created the netbook category, amongst first world buyers.
  • Valve condemns DRM in games, Microsoft endorses it
    Encouraging to hear such condemnation for a popular game maker. Too bad that most of the distribution channels override their stance and add DRM anyway. Seems silly when it is pretty trivial to roll your own channel, like Penny Arcade did for their games.
  • UK regulators no fans of Hulu work alike
    Regulators cite diminishing competition as their primary concern. If the new service would be inclusive, which it seems to me when they talk about working with third parties, then I am not sure how that follows.
  • Apple believes someone is behind Psystar
    They are amending their DMCA complaint to add ten Does. This based on “information or belief”, we won’t know any more until they’ve completed their discovery. It could explain the legal firepower Psystar has been able to muster but otherwise seems a bit crazy
  • Free ebook on Vim
    vim is my favorite editor so I love seeing such a work in and of itself. That it is being built collaboratively as a wiki and released under a liberal license just seems like icing.
  • Examining Psystar’s EULA
    This analysis is hardly surprising. I want to say that the suggestion that Psystar’s case could be used to break the back of EULAs came from observers and pundits, not from them. Even if it is central to their case, it doesn’t mean they are clueful enough to avoid their own EULA or make it more consumer friendly.
  • Moving to functional programming for parallelism
    I am not sure functional programming is the only answer but will concede that a new model is needed and it has to come from computer science, not from chip makers. Intel, in particular, has been involved with compilers to this point, though, so would be surprised to see that go away entirely just because of the shift to many cores.
  • This year’s CCC to feature an experimental, RFID panopticon
    This is actually a successor project to the one run at the Last HOPE. It looks like it adds some cool new features. As with the one at Last HOPE, it is all open and imminently hackable.

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