Quick Links for 8/29/2009

  • Why free software has poor usability, how to improve it
    Via Make, a revisit of a six year old essay. The newer version cites a much more diverse set of reasons than volunteers, scarce user design folks, and mimicry perhaps in ignorance. I tend to agree with the other that these appear solvable and he demonstrates a good grasp of how to do so.
  • Canadian copyright town hall stacked towards industry
    Professor Geist has a pretty clear characterize of how big content is trying to suppress dissent. And as he says, this should be a clear call to citizens and consumers to make their voices heard over these sorts of transparently self serving tactics.
  • Student group threatened with ejection from copyright town hall
    Professor Geist shares some more disturbing news of the goings on around this critical public discussion. Doesn’t Canada have a free speech right similar to that in the US, specifically a strong one?
  • American copyright lobby revealed to be involved in town hall, too
    BB has more information on the consequences on the recent public discussion. It keeps get stranger though the fact that big content here in the US is involved is hardly surprising given the pressure they have exerted in the past as copyright reform has been considered twice before in Canada.
  • Obama-Joker takedown story gets weirder
    Mike Masnick follows up on Techdirt. Apparently the responsible party has been identified but he denies having issued the takedown. Seems credible as he apparently is demonstrating a pretty poor grasp of how takedown notices actually work.
  • Microsoft hosting “Screw Google” meetings in DC
    This is a bit surreal if it can be credited. The attitude really seems to be one of an upstart, usually adopted by foes of the Redmond software giant. So odd to see them using this sort of rhetoric against Google.
  • Is the future going to see more good enough technology rather than the best?
    An interesting and example rich Wired article looks into a trend that has been with us in software development almost from the beginning. I also wonder if this is a response to the tired upgrade treadmill that one has to deal with in acquiring premium electronics. The article definitely touches on the agility that merely good enough solutions afford compared to the necessary elaboration and iteration for the alternative.
  • Snow Leopard adoption of a security standard doesn’t quite go far enough
    The Register explains that while Apple finally did implement address space layout randomization, a technique that makes buffer overrun and heap exploits more difficult, they did not do so uniformly. Apparently much of the core of the operating system doesn’t use ASLR to the detriment of users’ security.
  • Australian experts call for a computer license
    I cannot fault the motivation but I think the metaphor of a driver’s license suffers heavily as the challenges of enforcement in a physical system that is fixed and amenable to spot checks are simply dwarfed by trying to do anything comparable in a fluid, every expanding network.

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