Week in Review for 6/7/2009

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  • Ten applications that changed computing
    This list seems almost entirely random. There are some good ones in here, like mosaic and apache but listing Microsoft Office and Lotus 1-2-3 instead of VisiCalc just seems ignorant. And how about going further back into database history to Oracle’s antecedents rather than just list today’s behemoth.
  • Can Page’s Law be broken
    In theory, making software faster on the same software should be possible, as Google is attempting but I think the key variable is the size and scope of features. Users and vendors are locked into a treadmill for new features and as long as that holds, that is going to be the main driver of Page’s Law.
  • Urban construction increasingly encountering “black” fiber
    This looks credible and given the location, so near to where several agencies are headquartered, it is not surprising. The details make for a good read, especially the point about how the telcos bill for repairing and moving the cut line simply disappeared.
  • MS sneak installs a FF extensions–again
    Why didn’t they learn the first time they tried this? How hard would it have been to prompt the user with a clear question like, would you like to be able to more easily .NET applications with one click? Sites beyond the Reg picked this up, so glad to see they aren’t able to get away with this despite their ignorance or brazenness to try it a second time.
  • And MS releases a patch to deal with FF extension backlash
    A nice follow up by Krebs of the WaPo. This begs the question of why if Microsoft could have made this so easy to disable after the fact could they simply not have done this in the first place?
  • SCOTUS nominee aligns with RIAA on question of damages
    Wired has the details. Her nomination was initially met with acceptance for her having ruled on technology issues in the past. Sadly, while she may have more considered opinions on other areas of technology policy, it is hugely discouraging to see her siding so strongly with the content industry on the issue of damages.
  • Early challenges to open government clarified
    This is a nice survey piece from the NYT comparing how the internet and technology were used in the Obama campaign and the different challenges faced in using these same technologies in the actual running of the administration.
  • Possible side effects of right to repair law
    Reid on Freedom to Tinker points out some potential pitfalls of a bit of legislation looking to set up a right to inker, at least in the auto industry. Not surprisingly, one is the potentially more thorny liabilities this would open up. More reasonably is that the law is limited, it really doesn’t give consumers themselves any rights with regards to hacking their possessions.
  • Profile on lock picker who bumped “unbumpable” Medeco locks
    I talked about Tobias as part of the Medeco story from a while back, taking in their responses to him proving their so called unbumpable locks were actually flawed. This is a very nice, in-depth profile of the sum of Tobias’ work and interests.
  • Data breach suit targets certifying auditor for the first time
    This Wired piece talks about the history and state of the industry as well as this unusual case. I suppose it makes sense, that if the checks meant to help catch errors is itself flawed, a suit may be a useful tool to try to repair the broken system.
  • The case for open, de-centralized search
    This is a pretty good framing of the issue. I agree strongly that transparency and peer review are critical values for something so ubiquitous as search. I also like Cory’s concession that tackling this challenge is immensely difficult, so much so, no one has managed it yet. I would have liked to see a survey of efforts to date, like Wikia and Mahalo, and where they fall short.
  • Town laying its own fiber prevails in law suit
    According to Ars, the judge’s ruling allows fiber to be considered a utility. The jurisdiction is narrow but may provide a model for other localities that run afoul of similar suits.
  • Adobe previews browser testing tool for designers
    Looks like a nice tool though there are already similar offerings. I do like the mention in the ZD article of the tool calling attention to issues. I wish there were more details on how that worked or what that looked like as such incompatibilities are the whole point of this sort of tool.
  • Disturbing findings of detailed privacy study
    I think many of us suspect the widespread usage of web bugs and the legal contortions buried within privacy policies that tacitly allowed them. I am hugely encouraged by the size and quality of the data cited in this study. I hope they, or anyone else, builds on their findings to improve consumer awareness and protection.
  • Confidential list of nuclear sites ends up on Wikileaks
    Ars has a pretty good explanation of what happened. It is worth noting that this data was available from other sources despite its sensitive nature. My question, really, is whether we should be considering ethical limits on WikiLeaks acceptance of documents or whether it must remain unfettered in order to be effective at all.
  • Ridley Scott to create CC-licensed Bladerunner prequel series
    I like that the project is going to be open content but am skeptical given the hit or miss nature of Scott’s more recent works. I suppose with the CC-license, if it is less than satisfactory, some hungry artist could make a good name by editing it to improve on its almost inevitable weaknesses.
  • Terms of use on Java’s new GC quietly revised
    Hard to say whether this was a slip of the legal pen in the first place or ret-conning the license in the face of complaint. Given that Oracle has placed Java at the top of its list of desired technologies in the acquisition, I still think we’re going to see more attempts to more directly profit from Java by Oracle, despite community back lash.
  • Early dev builds of non-Windows versions of Chrome
    I downloaded these and gave them a whirl. With the remaining features unimplemented, they are clearly not ready for daily use. But they do serve the point of showing the strong progress Google has made to date. I think if the next release of Firefox drops first, Google is going to have an uphill climb on Linux and OS X.
  • Screencast for command line neophytes
    This is a neat idea but is locked up behind a paywall. Nine dollars US doesn’t seem quite so worth the price when there are so many great free resources, even for beginning users. I am not sure if there is a comparable, free screen cast but I am not sure the screencast format here, and the length, is worth the price.
  • Considering Verizon’s real interest ing a 5th NN principle
    A good discussion of Verizon’s non-statement on Network Neutrality principals. PK’s advice to craft and adopt any new principles through open deliberation is good for any number of open questions with the network and public policy.
  • Coherent analysis of newspapers’ future by Xark’s Conover
    Dave Slusher turned me on to Dan Conover and Xark. I have to agree with Cory here that Conover’s analysis of the paid-content model is one of the most coherent I’ve read yet. There is a thrilling implication here that despite not having a good funding model as of yet, as long as journalists provide a public good, we will find a way forward that isn’t about protected failed business models yet again.
  • UK ISP concedes pirates cannot be stopped
    The corollary statement from Dunstone, according to The Guardian piece /. links to is also something we’ve known for some time. Education on respecting copyright and reasonable alternatives to piracy being espoused by an industry chief is also a cause for some optimism about at least a portion of the industry finally “getting” it.
  • Debunking big content’s stats on piracy
    A great story linked to by Cory. Dr. Goldacre is not an activist, just a scientist in the habit of deconstructing hard to swallow claims. In this case, he tackles the ridiculous numbers cited by the content industry in the UK.
  • Defcon organizer joins DHS Advisory Council
    According to Wired he was one of 16 advisers sworn in recently. No one is more surprised than he is himself. It does show an astonishing level of original thinking in terms of sourcing expert advice by the fed.

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