Week in Review for 2/1/2009

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  • A platform for social issue games
    Its really more of a course or tutorial for using games to raise social consciousness. Latest in Games for Changes efforts. Chartier’s Ars piece has more details, screen shots, as well as some information on recent funding to G4C.
  • New book on the history and ideals of the digital commons
    The book is “Viral Spiral” by Public Knowledge co-founder, David Bollier’s. It is available in print and as a CC-licensed PDF. It covers the early history of projects like the Creative Commons and the ideals that drive them.
  • Senate approves DTV delay
    The reasons cited include consumers not being ready and the voucher program running out. The recent article by Doc Searls I discussed also shows how poorly the technology stacks up against analog television. I am not sure more time would fix that without an urge to re-tool the specifications.
  • But House rejects DTV delay
    This Infoweek piece by David Gardner only mentions the Republican opposition in the house. I am guessing it is due to lobbying interests despite a unanimous Senate vote and a simple majority in the House. He does mention the bill may be re-visited with amendments that may make it more palatable to House Republicans.
  • Mozilla donates $100K to Ogg development
    According to Ars’ Ryan Paul, the donation is for a collaborative effort with Wikimedia which uses Ogg and its media formats for all of its rich media. This is consistent with a recent upgrade to handle more media. What I really want to see, as much as I hate Flash in and of itself, is a Flash based player for Theora and Vorbis. HTML5’s support for the formats may help but I am not counting on it.
  • End of life announced for AMD Geode chip
    According to the PCWorld article /. links to, this is most likely a belt tightening move by AMD. OLPC’s XO was the most known user of the Geode chip but its unavailability apparently won’t affect plans for the XO-2, rather that OLPC will source the needed chips from Via or Intel instead.
  • Sensitive data found on used MP3 player
    According to this Ars article by Dave Chartiers, no one knows how the sensitive military data made it onto the media player. At least the guy who purchased it is doing the right thing, turning it over to the US Department of Defense.
  • Presidential memo on open, transparent government
    Nice bit of reporting by Gwynne at on dot-gov. The memo lays out the open government directive the to be named CTO will be responsible for implementing. It overlaps some with the ideas and ideals discussed at the Wiki White House event a few weeks back.
  • Usability of open data may foil actual use of government data
    Princeton’s Robinson points out a profound counter intuition about open government. Data needs to be published in the least likely to be directly read format to reach the widest audience. This happens because of the interested third parties that will remix and re-use machine readable data in ways the government won’t.
  • Secure browsers need to be usable in order to be adopted, used
    In this Ars piece, John Timmer discusses a study, based partially on quite a bit of Google data, that covered over a year time span. I found the notes about weekend switching away from IE and to newer versions across the board interesting. The main conclusions, though, were around the presence or absence of an auto update feature, supporting what I have contended for some time. Auto update makes it simpler for users to stay on top of security updates, period.
  • Location aware platform for Linux
    Ryan Paul discusses the GeoClue framework in this Ars article. He discusses how it ranks against other, similar tools for the Linux desktop. Mainly the point is that GeoClue makes much of the complexity of location aware code simple to the point that we may see more applications that use it in the near future, a big plus to potential switchers.
  • KDE 4.2 released
    I talked about this release a little in my recent interview with Celeste Lyn Paul. This is a huge milestone for the desktop project, stabilizing many of the drastic changes in the 4.0 release to make it highly suitable for day-to-day use. I believe it also includes the recent, freedom friendly license changes in Qt.
  • FCC reform starts before transition is complete
    Matthew Lasar has a nice discussion of the interim chair of the FCC, one of its commissioners, not lame ducking it until Obama’s chief starts his new job. Mostly he seems to be opening up the operation of the agency, undoing some of the secrecy Martin had favored.
  • Cox announces plan for aggressive traffic shaping
    Masnick has the details, such as they are, at Techdirt. As he puts it, this is really a clueless move by the cable company with a new administration coming in promising a commitment to a neutral network and access for all.
  • Judge awards discovery rights in key Usenet case
    This was in a secondary liability case pressed against Usenet.com. According to Copyrights and Campaigns, one ruling went poorly for Dave Farber questioning his lack of independent analysis in the judge’s opinion. The other ruling had to do with the service operator not retaining sufficient customer data, further acting in bad faith with regards to supplying the requested information. A better day for the industry than for proponents of a more consumer friendly balance in digital copyright.
  • Dutch search engine ignores IP addresses
    The search engine in question actually aggregates results from other search engines, according to The Register. It also has been advertising itself as privacy friendly for a few years, now.
  • Obama already failing to live up to transparency promises
    Jim Harper has the story on TLF, of a bit of legislation that was not posted five days before signing per an Obama campaign promise. Harper also has an update that explains how this may have been a bit of politicking to curry favor with the ACLU trumping the transparency promise.
  • OLPC to open source hardware
    Phil Torrone at Make discusses the ramifications, that this opens up for the best hardware provider who can produce the open source spec to thrive. The goal seems ambitious given how the target price for the first generation XO was missed by almost 100%. Regardless of the price, if they form factor succeeds, it could transform the netbook category even further.
  • Microsoft open sources web security project
    Ryan Paul as a surprisingly fair discussion on Ars of Microsoft’s plans to share their sandbox project. He brings in a bit of skepticism around the potential performance concerns and the fairly mild license choice, Apache, rather than a more freedom promoting public license like GPL.
  • Embedding license and copyright info directly into HTML
    Some of The Register’s criticism of Ito’s breathless claims around RDFa and HTML5 are no doubt warranted. In particular, the comments about pinning CC’s machine formats too closely to the contested RDFa seem constructive. But the nattering on about the malcontents ignoring CC machine licenses misses the point that this is happening today, regardless, and that CC is about enhancing the discovery of general license grants, not necessarily enforcing limitations.

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