Week in Review for 12/14/2008

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  • Risks of automatically scaling in the cloud
    George Reese distinguishes between the ability for an informed operator to add capacity in the cloud and the idea of having a system do it automatically. Really his criticisms of the latter are also an exhortation to understand proper capacity planning, first and foremost.
  • FF extension to bypass British censorship of Wikipedia
    Using SSL apparently bypasses the filters. This extension is a compiled Greasemonkey script that seamlessly switches between plain text for browsing and encrypted for editing.
  • Re-framing privacy on social networks
    The idea behind the paper makes sense and I look forward to reading it. It occurs to me that this re-framing may also be useful when considering the existing case of privacy in public spaces.
  • Unlimited licensing model for universities
    This has support from both sides so may come to pass. I am most interested in seeing how it operates as a model in the small for more broad application. I am not sure how you would account for the difference in norms, that college students have less money but more time, a fact cited for their favoring of file sharing over existing legitimate offerings.
  • Critique of Warner’s licensing plan for universities
    Techdirt’s Masnick is critical because he doesn’t think the plan can be effectively administered, which I think is fair to a degree. I am more concerned by the fact he calls out about the details more generally, that the labels just aren’t being open about any of the specifics.
  • OpenCL 1.0 spec released
    The spec was originally part of Apple’s plan for Snow Leopard but has rapidly moved to a final form and a good number of backers.
  • The mouse turns forty
    Amazing to think how long ago this peripheral was first demonstrated and how pervasive it has come since. The original demo included the select, copy and paste operations with which we are so familiar and rely on in multi-tasking, multi-window environments.
  • OIN, SFLC and Linux Foundation launch a grass roots patent defense tool
    This is what I was hoping RPX would be, which really seems to be just another form of troll. Linux Defenders is centered on defensive publication and genuinely seems like it would benefit everyone, not just companies that can afford a membership fee.
  • MD court weighs online anonymity
    Defamation is definitely about harm and one of the more widely accepted limits on free speech. If the plaintiff can prove harm, I don’t think it is entirely unreasonable to press for the speaker’s identity. I also don’t see how it could be applied more broadly as an erosion of anonymous free speech as a whole.
  • BitTorrent to favor local peers to ease burden on ISPs
    This bolsters the more charitable interpretations of their move to switch to UDP by default, that they are as interested as the ISPs in making torrent traffic more manageable. It makes a certain amount of sense, that fighting with ISPs slows adoption of BitTorrent’s technology.
  • MacFUSE 2.0 released
    Most of the changes seem targeted at making development easier and to improve support for 64-bit hardware and newer versions of OS X. Hopefully it will encourage more experimentation and contribution as a result.
  • Stroustrup on educating software developers
    The core of the interview seems to focus on the gap between computer science and practical programming. Most of what he seems to be lamenting is lack of design, good style and other skills more applicable in the work place than academia.
  • Adoption of DNSSEC and its alternative
    Maybe this is a bit of fallout from the bug Kaminsky uncovered. Certainly many were calling for a more secure alternative to the aging DNS. One, Bernstein, thinks he has a better alternative, DNSCurve, than DNSSEC which has received criticism of its own.
  • McCartney releases album as DRM download
    Its an experimental project, not McCartney’s own next album, but noteworthy that such a high profile musician is involved. It seems very, very similar to Reznor’s experiment, minus the pay what you think it is worth aspect and the CC-license. Still, 9USD for highest quality MP3 and a higher cost option that includes CD and vinyl is certainly very attractive. You can listen before you buy, too, so much to like here.
  • iPhone Doom with video out
    This is an update to a previous port of the game. The article points out what is really most exciting, sources demonstrating how others can hack on the TV out capabilities of the iPhone.
  • Browser security handbook from Google
    This is more of a reference than a guide which is good news for application developers. The handbook is presented as a wiki with invitation to provide feedback so hopefully it will track as browsers continue to evolve.
  • Teacher confiscates Linux CD’s, claims no such thing as free software
    This is initially horrified but prompted an excellent outcome. An advocate, from Helios itself, contacted the teacher and helped explain to her how wrong she had been. She was apparently very apologetic and awed.
  • Mozilla security chief is leaving at year’s end
    No details yet but it sounds like Snyder isn’t leaving Mozilla so much as going towards something else. Many capable people at Mozilla will take over.
  • Criminal hackers help illegal timber loggers
    This is a reminder that when mass attacks, like spam and botnets, are more common that when there is sufficient money incentive, targeted, expert attacks still occur. This is all the worse because of the ecological impact.
  • Apps can silently switch on roaming on G1 phones
    As the article points out, Apple received a very visible black eye for this exact issue. Worse, users cannot disable roaming to prevent applications from using it unbeknownst to them.
  • Open source program reveals Diebold bug
    In the absence of open source in the systems themselves, it is encouraging to not only see open source used to audit voting systems but also to see a volunteer effort to improve transparency and hopefully accountability.

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