Microsoft Training Retailers in FUD, Cluelessness and Cluefulness around Patents, and More

I managed to catch up a little bit yesterday after getting home from my travels. Catching up involved mostly just flagging things to read later, though, not so much the actual reading and note taking.

  • Microsoft teaching retails to spread FUD about Linux
    Emil at Ars Technica has screen shots of a dodgy quiz for Best Buy staff intended to push their message of Windows 7’s superiority to Linux, content which is continuous with their years of fear, uncertainty and doubt. Reading through this, you get a pretty clear sense of the Redmond giant’s nervousness in the netbook category.
  • A chilling demonstration of how broken software patents are
    If you read the linked piece, you get a pretty clear impression of a company that in no way contributes anything useful to the technology industry. There seems to be some pretty serious self delusion, including their trick to avoid “technically” being a patent troll.
  • Intel’s Grove suggest patents should be used or lost
    Mike Masnick has the details at Techdirt, a pretty good contrast to the Myhrvold piece. Grove seems to have a really good grasp of how the patent system as applied to computing technology has the opposed effect from that stated in the progress clause.
  • Network surveillance an unintended consequence of copyright
    I think the original post to whom Cory links understates this. Starting from a maximalist view of enforcing copyright, universal network surveillance and all of the privacy risks that go along with that, seem pretty inevitable.
  • Why anonymized data really isn’t
    This Ars piece by Nate Anderson details a new paper by law professor Paul Ohm. He digs into research done over the past handful of years showing how it is possible to “re-identify” data that is supposed to be anonymous. Ohm uses these examples, many which Anderson recaps in the article, to point out the critical gap in privacy laws that have traditionally been fixated on protected personally identifying information, a tact that does nothing for recovery of identities from presumed anonymous data.
  • Concerns with Google Books specific to academics
    Unrelated to the privacy and monopoly concerns raised by others, here the issue seems to be the centralization of editing and maintenance. Nunberg, who has been writing about these issues, points out a variety of errors in the project’s metadata and the implication is that Google is a bottleneck, no matter how well meaning, in an time when folks are more used to distributed control, like Wikipedia.
  • One real time web standard gaining adoption
    According to RWW, WordPress has implemented Dave Winer’s proposed syndication for real time updates, RSSCloud. They have a related piece, linked from this post, of an aggregator that has also implemented the technology. This has me curious about the fragmentation risk here, that Google and FriendFeed has selected PubSubHubbub; can these be made to interoperate? Or will it be largely irrelevant like the practical differences between RSS and Atom?
  • Child safety software sells their data to marketers
    Cory posts the relevant details. It confirms my biggest concern with censor-ware of any kind, namely these sorts of unintended uses. And where they are logging data, in this case IMs, the more valuable that data, the more likely someone else will get it, either through theft or, as in this case, via a pretty shameful profit motive.
  • Details on one of the Apps for America 2 contest
    I linked to the finalist list last week, RWW has some good details on the one for which I voted. This entry is also open source, using a very liberal MIT license and you can clone their sources from github. No further insight into incorporating local data sources in addition to federal ones.
  • Web browser inspired by Unix philosophy
    I like the idea, I will readily admit it, but kind of question its usefulness compared to something like curl. Having to write your own scripts for bookmarks, downloads and such would seem to be tedious to me with little upside. I am sure it does open things up to the point where someone could do something wickedly surprising far simpler than via an extension mechanism.

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