Week in Review for 8/9/2009

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  • Google plans synchronization for Chrome
    At first glance this looks like a “me, too” situation. Ryan Paul at Ars identifies the details that make Google’s efforts distinct from Mozilla’s more mature Weave sync extension, namely that Google is taking more of a messaging/push approach that may scale better.
  • AP will sell you a license to quote the public domain
    Cory has the story on Boing Boing from James Grimmelman who tested out a tool from AP for calculating license fees for quoting stories. The problem is the tool cannot discriminate quotes or material from public domain sources. AP’s response reveals their cluelessness and a passive-aggressive attempt to just confuse the issue further.
  • Latest “unpickable” locks defeated
    Good coverage from Wired on an impressive demo from Defcon. It reinforces the point that security isn’t about a single tool or technique, rather it is about layering processes, tools and systems together and consistently re-assessing defenses. But that clearly doesn’t make good ad copy for a several hundred dollar lock.
  • Peter Sunde quits The Pirate Bay
    Not much detail in this brief Wired article, mostly because I am guessing brokep is saying so little about it. It probably is as simple as it seems, him moving on to other projects with the sale of the site close to fruition and the appeal under way for the recent conviction.
  • EFF defends Wikipedia’s right to the public domain against UK NGP
    I linked to this story, before, but didn’t discuss it. The EFF has now agreed to defend a Wikipedian who is trying to post and share several thousand photos of public domain paintings. The gallery’s claims hinge around subtle differences in UK copyright and a claim of circumvention under the UK version of the DMCA.
  • Student arrested for jail breaking game consoles
    According to Wired, the defendant is claiming he offered his services jail breaking for playing personal backup copies only. Sadly, there is no exception to the DMCA for this, even if you did it just for your own use let alone shared it with others. I hope he fights the charges but I am not optimistic about his chances without some serious legal big guns.
  • New anti-DRM petition targeting Kindle faces long odds
    Anderson actually has a pretty charitable description of FSF’s petition despite his overall skepticism. His comparisons to Apple’s use of DRM are compelling and have me wondering if an innovator could do to Amazon what they did to Apple and bust open e-books by selling open ones to circumvent Amazon’s distribution channel.
  • New FCC chief compares broadband to electrification, national highways
    Genachowski isn’t the first to make this comparison and the Wired article quickly moves past it to discuss funding, early examples of evolving IT and the challenge before the FCC to realize a comprehensive and implementable broadband policy.
  • Big content, big radio battle over royalties
    Jacqui Cheung has good coverage at Ars of the latest hearings centered on the controversial Performance Rights Act. Other than on principle, I find it hard to care about the outcome of this bill because I haven’t listened to any kind of radio for music in years.
  • KDE 4.3 released
    Ryan Paul has an excellent survey of the highlights, with special emphasis on the new social desktop features, at Ars. He also has links to how you can try out the new desktop environment if you are curious.
  • EFF calls for protection of location data on the web
    RWW has a good explanation of a new report from EFF on how to use the popular, location based services safely. The piece brushes up against but doesn’t strongly enough state that privacy here hinges on a reasonable expectation of behavior by observers, not necessarily on the need to hide something.
  • App store rejection of a dictionary
    Techdirt is one among others calling attention to this story. I am beginning to suspect that the burden of rules under which Apple operates by its own volition may crush the App Store or force it to evolve into a more sustainable, open form.
  • Apple responds on dictionary app rejection
    Daring Fireball has substantial quotes from an email he received directly from Apple’s Schiller. Really seems to be a case of Hanlon’s law, magnified by Apple’s really poor practice of clear communication around these sorts of technical issues as they affect the public.
  • Twitter, others knocked offline
    RWW was one of many sites to cover this as it unfolded this past week. I don’t have a lot to add as I intentionally try to keep my use and investment in sites like Twitter and Facebook light exactly for the sort of risks this story materializes.
  • More on Twitter DoS attack
    According to the Zero Day blog, the outage was definitely the result of an attack. It built on previous techniques we’ve seen used on and against Facebook and Twitter.
  • Twitter attack targeted a single user
    Glyn Moody was one of just a few to share this particular wrinkle. Odd to think of the scale of damage caused for the pursuit of a single person, though the issue at hand was definitely larger than a single target would suggest on its own.
  • Twitter, Facebook attack not a surprise to security experts
    Wired has some more details on the technical aspects of the attack. It’s continuous, even a proper superset, of the discussion of it on Zero Day. The discussion also just considers the ongoing threat of DDoS, common mitigation strategies and the occasional exceptions.
  • Could recent Google acquisition lead top a new open codec?
    An interesting and plausible theory not only advanced by The Register. I’d rather seen Google grant a sub-licensable patent license to Xiph, especially since as the article mentions, Theora is based on an earlier open source version of ON2’s codec. I still think there would be considerable resistance from Apple, unless Google invests in hardware acceleration compatible with Apple’s portable devices.
  • New standard for 3D on the web
    Good details not just on the new standard by Ryan Paul at Ars. He also discusses the heritage of the folks spear heading the spec and competing efforts from Google. There’s also a good summary of remaining challenges.
  • Ubuntu’s new search extension for Firefox also tracks users
    This is unfortunate and commits a mistake we’ve seen over and over again. The extension is installed without notice and no clear explanation of its additional phone home feature. Thankfully, once you know about it, it is easy to disable and/or remove.
  • Microsoft receives patent on storing documents in XML format
    Timmer at Ars has a good explanation of what the patent covers and its timeline. No real guesses on what Microsoft might do with it or how those in the FLOSS community might move to bust it, which seems like a distinct possibility given the age of XML versus the date of filing.

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