Week in Review for 7/26/2009

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  • Proof of useful quantum phenomenon
    According to Johnston’s article at Ars, this confirmation of the predicted phenomenon of quantum walks could have direct and important benefits for quantum computing. In particular, the ability to permute qubits through a space and to leverage useful interference in their wave functions is critical for some of the most compelling quantum computing algorithms.
  • RIAA says DRM is (mostly) dead
    TorrentFreak had to clarify a misquote, that Lamy, an RIAA spokesperson, said DRM was dead. Instead, the statement is hardly interesting, just an observation on the state of the industry has having mostly moved past DRM, not any commitment from them to abandon what we all know is a bad idea.
  • Learning triggers a physiological reward in the brain
    Details linked from this Boing Boing post. I cannot say I am surprised and it certainly explains the visceral thrill I have come to seek out in learning new programming languages, tools and technologies.
  • Weinberger suggests transparency is the new objectivity
    Reading through this reposting at the Sunlight Foundation of his explanation of the remark at Personal Democracy Forum, I keep thinking of how scientific research is conducted. Validation rests solely on whether a peer can get access to underlying data and information on experimental procedure for the purposes of duplication. Why should other forms of knowledge be different, when you think about it?
  • Canonical opens the source to its project hosting service
    Canonical had promised some time back to release the sources. I am thrilled that they are using AGPL to do so, which means that any instance run must share any enhancements. Canonical’s own changes the servers it runs are guaranteed to be propagated.
  • Industry study claims strong copyright fuels the economy
    Timmer’s analysis at Ars goes beyond the usual well deserved skepticism of such industry sponsored reports. He clearly points out where the numbers cited don’t entirely add up. The reports conclusion also really appears to be more willful interpretation in terms of simply claiming the need for more copyright policing rather than proving any useful correlations.
  • Adobe opens up the media component of Flash
    I think Ryan Paul’s comments about this at Ars are right on the mark. As nice as this open framework sounds, it still depends on a proprietary browser plugin. The opportunity presented by the HTML5 video tag seems far greater in terms of developer flexibility and innovation vs. a partially open system still ultimately beholden to a single vendor.
  • Real space counter parts for click through licenses
    Masnick asks whether this photo of a EULA in a NY park is a joke as it claims to affect anyone entering the park. I suspect if it is serious or for an event in the park rather than the park itself as commenters suggest, that it is wholly unenforceable.
  • EFF’s surveillance self defense
    This guide that Cory links to is short and accessible. It offers advice for those who want to help as well as those whose free speech is in jeopardy. The techniques for the directly afflicted are pretty simple and for supporters urges strongly to help expand the Tor network.
  • Revamping Asimov’s three laws
    An interesting piece from Wired clearly inspired by recent advances in robotics. Some of this is really about practical rather than philosophical matters, such as assigning legal and ethical blame in the case of a disastrous malfunction.
  • NSA to use a cloud model for intelligence analysis
    Interesting use of the term cloud computing since I have no doubt that all of this still exists between some pretty hefty firewalls. What really seems to be going on is the adoption of online collaboration, highly distributed processing and storage, and more loosely structured data in addition to no doubt traditional information still in use.
  • New site urging FCC reform
    According to Matthew Lasar at Ars, this is a site built by the commission in response to criticisms and calls for reform. So the opportunities for activists are no existent at the moment. There is a promise the web site will be opened up further, later.
  • Patry answering who copyright is really for
    Cory links to a post by Patry which is a reflection on the passing of Barbara Ringer who I’ve read about before for her role in the 1976 copyright act. Patry paints her as being critical in effecting a compromise amongst very contentious stakeholders. In the midst of it, he touchs on the notion Cory points to, that resonates with Cory’s piece on how copyright broke.
  • Help Nina Paley and her co-creator tag, upload archived comic strips
    Nina is known for her film, “Sita Sings the Blues”, that she had to struggle to release for want of clearing of some of the 1920’s music in it. This project is more straightforward, just a call for volunteers to help getting the strips prepared and uploaded for everyone to enjoy.
  • Call to take action on privacy issues with Google Books
    Good bit of coverage by the Bits blog at the NYT. After the disturbing marketing consequences for orphaned works, privacy is a big sore point with the Google Books settlement because of the resulting aggregation of users to a single service. The EFF and others are making what seems like an entirely reasonable request given the circumstances.
  • Google responds to privacy concerns over Books
    They mostly point out that the actual service isn’t built and won’t be until the settlement is finalized. Google points to its privacy policy for other services as examples of what to expect and, not surprisingly, indicates a strong commitment to privacy moving forward.
  • Public comments on FCC plan stir up neutrality debate again
    Nate Anderson has a good survey of the public comments pouring into the FCC on the proposed broadband plan. Seems like the same sides of the neutrality debate are seizing on new voices if not new rhetoric.
  • Super long lived archival DVD-R’s
    Good details in this longer Register piece. I am encouraged to see improvements in the area of archival data storage but still would like to see better progress on the question of forwards compatibility of formats in the coming decades, centuries and millenia.
  • Making kids safe online with critical thinking
    Not surprisingly, Cory’s views on the subject are pretty close to my own. I especially like how he calls attention to the unintended consequence of censorware, of shifting norms around surveillance for the worse at no real gains in safety.
  • MS to bundle other browsers to appease EU
    Not much to say on this beyond what RWW reports. The proposal still has to be approved and while it may help the other browsers, it doesn’t do anything about compatibility for those already using MSIE. The skeptic in me also suspects if accepted, this won’t really change the status quo.
  • RMS says Pirate Party hurts Free Software
    The argument is actually pretty straightforward and hinges on how the GPL relies on copyright. Any change to copyright itself then has considerable consequence on the GPL. For once, it seems like he’s also wiling to consider compromises.

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