Week in Review for 1/4/2008

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  • Latest Linux kernel release
    The two biggest changes are a new memory manager for the GPU, GEM, and the ext4 file system. The article also mentions moving new driver development to a more visible location in the mainline which may help prompt contribution. The article has links to more detail on the other changes.
  • FBI code cracking challenge
    This is their second such challenge in as many years. Contests like this are common, just not coming from law enforcement agencies. I’d be willing to bet it is a recruiting tactic of some sort.
  • Swedish Pirate Party rises about the margin
    The party is apparently experiencing solid growth and surprisingly positive results in voting polls. The article speculates that progress made by copyright maximalists may be encouraging voters to consider the alternative.
  • CCC hackers demo critical crack of telephony security
    The standard in question, DECT, has been cracked before but required an expensive set up. This research shows eavesdropping accomplished with a cheap PC-card meant for wireless VoIP. Not surprisingly, encryption and authentication are often weakly implemented, if at all. Apparently, even when encryption is enabled, the researchers are able to spoof a base station and disabled it after the fact.
  • Python on the G1
    Good news for early adopters who want another option beyond Java. It builds already on existing work and I have to imagine as it attracts interest, we’ll see the setup become easier for the average user or casual script hacking.
  • AMD releases more code for open source ATI drivers
    This was apparently done by a couple of motivated employees and should boost driver development and cascade on through to a better end user experience.
  • Interview with creator of online tools for civic life
    More good hacktivism, using tech to make data more available regardless of progress on government transparency.
  • Google dropping support for IE6
    They are pushing both Chrome and Firefox 3, instead, and some features of Gmail no longer work in the aging browser. IE7 is still supported, as will IE8, no doubt. Not that surprising just on how old IE6 is, though it also supports the theory that Google is trying to become an independent channel through Chrome.
  • Silicon that emulates stem cell growth, differentiation
    Not a lot of detail but it makes me think of a story I covered a while ago. A computing substrate that self assembled. The problem with that system was the unevenness of the quality of elements in the resulting computer. The trick to that project was software that mapped out the resulting system to route around unusable elements. No idea if this is the same thing.
  • Interview with RMS on 25 years of free software
    This is a good history of GNU but also covers free software and the GPL more generally. It even discusses the popularization of Linux and the problems getting contributions up stream, not just from individuals but also from distro makers, in particular,Canonical.

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