Week in Review for 12/28/2008

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  • Open source tool adopted in Colorado for e-voting audit
    First PyVote, now this. I guess if there is too much money involved in the systems themselves, this is a reasonable and effective role for open source software to play.
  • Mozilla chief admits Chrome complicates Google relationship
    I’ve wondered why Google didn’t partner more closely with Mozilla rather than release Chrome. I guess the fact that despite the substantial revenue Mozilla receives from them they remain independent would limit Google’s ability to set direction for the browser. By maintaining the relationship, I’m guessing Google still gets to claim some credibility for supporting Mozilla.
  • Lori Drew case inspiring updated laws, new cases but at what harm?
    The only charge mentioned in the article is a misdemeanor. I would suggest condemning the new law should wait to see if it is merely consistent with offline harassment or whether, like cyber crime laws, it is unbalanced and levies much stiffer charges andpenalties.
  • Comparison of slot machines to e-voting systems, vua USACM
    It is easy to be cynical about the better investment in sin. I’d rather look at this as proof and a model that security, accuracy and accountability can be achieved. Assuming you are willing to overlook a slightly flawed analogy in terms of where vested interests lie in gaming.
  • Vint Cerf weighs in on national CTO role
    Not surprisingly, Cerf has a broad view of the role. He makes a good point, though, that thought leadership and infrastructure investment may be easier than ensuring smooth operation of government IT as there are agency level IT officers already that represent a bit of a political minefield.
  • Psystar denies rumors of conspiracy against Apple
    What else would they say? Really, though, it is much simpler to suggest that they figure they have little to lose by fighting Apple and have simply drawn the caliber of help they have because of the stature of their target.
  • Secret censorship list in Denmark
    This is the UK and IWF all over again. The exact same problems, prior to the leak, no one knew the contents of the list, its formulation was private. And there is no clear avenue fordispute.
  • Lessig thinks the FCC has outlived its usefulness
    He points out the commission as being held almost entirely by captive interests, a prime example of the corruption he is now focusing in on. He proposes an alternative model aimed at fostering network innovation, not entirely a bad idea.
  • Generated paper accepted by tech conference
    Reading the abstract, it is clear to me this story is not about how sophisticated the generator code for the paper was. Looks like a 3-order Markov chain with a reasonable set of input papers. One of the commenters suggests a likely theory, that the review used automation, as well, closing a metaphorical, maybe even literal, loop.
  • Haskell, Python make one programmer worse
    I’ve read this before, Tim O’Reilly re-tweeted it this week. I have a certain amount of sympathy, I suppose, but I think the author needs to get over it. A true urge to being a polyglot would find a way to either compartmentalize or abstract away the values of different languages to keep them distinct for the purpose of coding for pay.
  • Underestimating benefits, overestimating danger of openness
    I think this is the most reasonable response to the claims that closed systems are so attractive the public will favor them over open ones. Openness is pervasive and unlikely to be out-competed. It also assumes more of a zero sum aspect, which I don’t entirely agree with, either. We’ve had open and closed systems co-existing for some time without one eliminating the other entirely.
  • Are operating systems fated for irrelevance?
    Really this is more a question of automated update and user space installation making enterprise OS and network level policy management irrelevant. I doubt the typical home user cares and that is clearly who his example, Chrome, is targeting. I am uncertain of his conclusion, that these types of apps in the enterprise will keep sailing past IT’s efforts to manage them since they can always resort to draconian measures to simply block them outright.
  • Domain specific language for cryptography
    Fascinating though I really want to see some independent researchers put it through its paces. If it bears out, this could make the next NIST competition much more lively.
  • Objective-C to get anonymous functions
    Looks like this makes closures and similar constructs, like list comprehension, much more tractable. It also cements this trend among language development more broadly, a move to hybridize functional programming with existing paradigms.
  • Cygnus patents desktop icons, starts suing
    This is not the outfit that gave us Cygwin, thankfully, but just a run of the mill troll. The earliest filing date is in the 1990’s so prior art will no doubt limit the traction their complaints will be able to gain.
  • UK culture minister wants web sites ratings, censorship
    This is the same person pushing for term extensions for music copyrights in the UK, again, on moral rights grounds. This shows how out of touch Burnham really is with how the networked world works and the marginal effects of this sort of regulation.
  • AGPL approved by Debian
    Excellent, one less barrier to access as this means that packages of AGPL’ed software will be available in the core repositories rather than in supplemental, non-free ones.
  • OOo developer thinks the project is stagnating
    This is based on analysis of code commits, so is hard to interpret as anything other than depressing.

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