Week in Review for 4/5/2009

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  • Reframing the debate between Gnome, KDE
    Given how increasingly similar the two desktops are under the hood, this is a thoughtful way of characterizing the remaining differences. The sort of gradualism that Gnome is following lately does indeed seem to be a hallmark of efforts that gradually lapse into irrelevance, suggesting they may wish to look at some sort of quantum leap post-2.30.
  • Open cloud manifesto revealed, along with its authors
    I see this as more of a marketing play than a philosophical one. I don’t think IBM or the signees are saying otherwise. I just credit earlier thinkers, like Joyent and autonomo.us as being more committed to freedom for its own sake.
  • Microsoft criticism of secret open cloud manifesto
    CC’s Mike Linksvayer already commented on this piece but I only just saw the original. There isn’t much of interest here other than the blatant hypocrisy when you think about any of Microsoft’s efforts in large, open standards processes,
  • Microsoft won’t allow others to host Azure
    And here is the stronger reason why Microsoft is picking on what aspects of the open cloud discussion that it can. No surprise they want to see the same sort of proprietary principals in this spaces as has secured their success elsewhere in the market.
  • Amazon says no to open cloud manifesto
    This is the flip side, the kernel of truth that in a lot of cases, proprietary lock-in is not actually considered a cost by decision makers buying software and services. This is also game theory 101, Amazon has such a lead in this space that they don’t want to see anything like interoperability that will upset their apple cart.
  • New service links web, real identities
    Ars’ Chartiers has the details on this novel value added OpenID provider. If OpenID is going to enter into critical uses, like government bureaucracy or other environments where trust is required, then MyID makes sense. I think it may be premature given current adoption, though.
  • Seeqpod bullied into bankruptcy
    Ars’ Cheung identifies the real risk here, that copyright can be used to chill innovation. This is a theory to which I happen to subscribe, that stiff statutory damages and technology specific measures, like the DMCA, are less about infringement or piracy and more about crystallizing the market in legal amber.
  • Microsoft kills off Encarta
    I think this RWW piece only glancingly touches the real issue. Sure, the cost of Wikipedia and even search engines is a factor, especially versus the cost of curating a proprietary knowledge store. I think the network’s function in ease of access to information contributed more to its death.
  • MySQL forks confuse the identity of the official codebase
    This post by an ex-core engineer is actually as much about the future of MySQL, where will the focus of development be, rather than any current confusion over forks. The answer at the moment is not clear.
  • Brain on a silicon chip
    This is an effort to understand the sort of parallel programming that neurons carry out. The effort is novel for building circuits that mimic the electrical activity of neurons, though at a fraction of the scale.
  • The real rights battle on the Kindle2
    This actually mirrors Lessig’s comments in the wake of the Authors Guild complaints, harkening back to some of the first generation e-book readers disabling and locking up features against the wishes of authors.
  • FTC recommends labeling for game DRM, does little else
    I think this is a pretty anemic solution given that information about DRM already spreads readily via the network, especially gamer forum and review sites. For those to whom DRM is a decision factor in the purchase decision, they’ll already know and for the rest, I doubt any amount of labeling will eliminate confusion.
  • SCOTUS lets rejection of anti-spam law stand
    The rejected law was logistically problematic, regardless of issues of first amendment protections. Hopefully the SCOTUS ruling will encourage better thinking about any legislation, that it most find more effective ways to add cost or friction to spammers to be truly effective.
  • EA releases DRM removal tool
    A little bit of good news, hopefully the start of a trend.
  • Human powered search engine, Wikia, to shutdown
    Do remember that Wikipedia had a very different model at its start. Given Wales’ commitment to free search, I am surprised he isn’t exploring other models to keep the effort alive in some form.
  • MSIE 8.1 to support alt rendering engines, Firefox extensions
    Wait a second, server-side de-compile? Did anyone else catch that? I am guess this is a well executed prank.
  • New bill introduced to reign in national security letters
    This bill was introduced before but hopefully will make better progress, now. The act is designed to address freedom of speech concerns as well as the core attack on civil liberties according to Ars’ Sanchez.
  • Computer program intuits laws of physics
    This is the latest in a series of efforts to intuitively deduce rules from raw data. Compared to the past attempts described in the Wired article, this is probably the most genuine in terms of least human intervention.
  • Consumer groups ask Obama to stop appointing RIAA lawyers
    Yeah, Obama, how about it? Can we balance the appointments, restore some weight to the progressive side of the debate?
  • OpenMoko ends
    I cannot say I am surprised. I don’t think a free platform precludes commercial success but I do believe the compromises required may be incompatible with certain aspects.

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