Week in Review for 3/22/2009

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  • A positive example of a Google service respecting consumer choice
    This is subtle, an example only revealed incidentally when working with just one Google service. But it highlights how users’ data should be handled and really that it should be this much of a non-event. Kind gives us a glimpse of how it could be while reminding us how much farther we have to go.
  • How reliable are Red Hat’s defensive patents for actual FLOSS defense?
    The question is raised by a patent RedHat has taken out in relation to its contributions to an open protocol for messaging. RH is maintaining that it will not enforce this patent against open source projects but is their word enough, without a more formal agreement or contributing it to a third party like OIN?
  • Protocol for a spoken web
    I think this suffers from the same limitations I think other types of audio exhibit, being predominantly linear. For accessibility, this is a huge development, but outside of that, I don’t think it is going to do much as mobile phones are getting more and more standard data capabilities.
  • Facebook’s latest experiments with their privacy controls
    They are finally exploring the middle ground between the default, of profiles being private to anyone but friends and the public profiles and pages they have offered more for groups and celebrities. It is hard for me not to see this as more in their interest, though, free up more formerly private data for them to riddle with ads.
  • EFF celebrates Sunshine Week working on missing docs
    As the EFF explains, there is still some important information just in the timeline these documents draw out. This is part of EFFs document oriented efforts this past week, focusing quite a bit on their FOIA work, including launching a new search engine to that end.
  • EFF fights tougher sentences when privacy technology employed
    The EFF’s argument runs to the effect that many of the tools the government assumes require some knowledge or sophistication are actually quite common place and trivial. I think the parallels to criminal hackers and script kiddies are particularly relevant and telling here.
  • Wikileaks snared in Australian internet black list
    It seems like all of these black list and filtering efforts eventually run afoul of a public, knowledge sharing effort like Wikileaks or Wikipedia. I think that needs to make its way into the litany of reasons why such efforts are doomed to fail–they rely on secrecy that is just not feasible on the internet.
  • DoJ now seeking jail time for non-commercial file sharer
    This is the Guns’n’Roses case, notable for the DoJ’s involvement in a non-criminal piracy case. The EFF points out how little effect the defendant’s leak of the tracks has had on their availability.
  • Artists hack a green neighborhood out of a down real estate market
    This is an intriguing bit of environmental hacking made possible by the depressed real estate market. I am encouraged to see such novel experimentation enabled by a drop in risk and the need for capital. A fascinating bit of silver lining.
  • Nina Paley’s copyright song, projects
    As if Nina’s story, which has had a relatively happy ending, wasn’t inspiration enough. She has now set her experience to song to be even more of an inspiration to copyright activists.
  • Songbird bug wipes files from small number of users’ iPods
    This could have happened to any project but it furthers my consistent impression that Songbird isn’t as mature as it should be by this point.
  • Firefox 3.5 nightly adds web IRC client as a protocol handler
    I find it odd that a grand daddy tech like IRC is living on though its similarities to how micro blogs are typically used makes this hardly surprising.
  • Accurate and precise programmning jargon
    I would push the point further and broader about how accuracy and precision in communicating about code is critical to saving time and making sure understanding is as deep as possible but I am relatively happy with the limited point Atwood makes here about the value of a few bits of coder jargon.
  • FSF files brief in RIAA, Tenenbaum case
    The FSF is seeking permission to file. Their proposed brief takes the statutory damages in this infringement case to task, an issue that has arisen in many of the industries suits against its customers. They claim a need to send a message to potential infringers but this is massively distorting the law and due process, way out of step with norms and expectations, just to shore up failing business models.
  • Obama DoJ files brief in Tenenbaum siding with the labels
    This would seem to bear out concerns over the number 2 and 3 appointments in the new administration’s DoJ. The briefing makes some tenuous connections with older rulings on statutory damages but as the Slashdot article points out, nothing anywhere near the magnitude of the actual damages in this case.
  • Filterable database of coding errors that affect security
    This seems immensely useful, especially as a means to avoid repeating known mistakes. I think many projects commit the same security errors in their code for want of experience with these bugs, so making them easy to access and understand should help hedge against such continued mistakes.

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