Following Up for the Week Ending 7/18/2010

Following Up for the Week Ending 7/4/2010

Federal Register Opens Its Data, Apple Reverses on Politically Charges App, And More

  • Apple approves political app if formerly rejected
    Via Daring Fireball. Not much explanation offered from the reversal, the author chooses to believe it was due to public pressure. It seems a bit of a devil’s bargain as one of the updates on their site says Apple insisted that critical statements about the approval process be removed from the app’s description in the store.
  • Federal Register opens up its data
    Google’s public policy blog is just one of those reporting this landmark event. I’ve bookmarked Felten’s discussion of FedThread to discuss further but I expect it will only be the first of many projects intended to take advantage of this new wealth of both current and historic data.
  • Q and A about the Federal Register
    An O’Reilly Radar piece by Public Resource’s own Carl Malamud that gives much more detail about the recent good news. Carl speaks directly to the CIO of the Government Printing Office and the Directory of the Office of the Federal Register.
  • Fear of failure stymying open source in the government
    An intriguing thought shared by Glyn Moody from an event in which he recently participated. The implication, to me, is that commercial, closed software is perceived to be less risky and hence easier to justify to tax payers. I do like that the quote calls out failure as a necessary component to experimentation and innovation. I think it is an interesting challenge regardless of open or closed source, but definitely can see how it fear of failing would chill adoption of open source in particular.
  • Thawte ending its web of trust, personal email certificates
    According to their FAQ, they are citing the cost of continuing to offering personal email certificates backed by their web of trust. I think the implication is clear, that it is also due to lack of interest. Do you know anyone using one of their email certificates?
  • Royal Mail sends nasty gram to Wikleaks
    Glyn Moody does an excellent job following up this almost inevitable story after the postal database was posted a while ago. Glyn also digs into the sui generis rights the EU decided to grant over databases, in particular the near zero net effect doing so actually had.
  • Palm fixes developer program, encourages open source
    I am glad to see my skepticism deflated by this Ars story posted by Ryan Paul. This confirms Sarah’s comments on my link to jwz’s story and includes a lot of positive details like some respectable hires by Palm from the larger community.
  • FSF files amicus brief for Bilski
    PJ has her usual, excellent analysis at Groklaw. With briefs filed by RedHat and the SFLC, it was almost a foregone conclusion there would be one from the FSF, too. The brief adds to the strong anti-patent rhetoric with some compelling examples of software in use by the government that would be adversely affected by a damaging patent claim against free software interests.
  • Eolas files patent claims against big tech companies
    As Jacqui Cheung explains at Ars, Eolas won a much older claim against Microsoft and had that ruling ultimately upheld on appeal. They are apparently now feeling their oats and targeting the likes of Apple and Google.
  • Calling shenanigans on Fox’s coverage of the PATRIOT Act reform
    The EFF has links to some fact checking by the CATO Institute’s Julian Sanchez, including a bit of video covering what the news outlet is getting wrong. The EFF post has links to coverage around the web if you want more information for better context, too.

Following Up for the Week of 10/4/2009

Bilksi Amicus Curae Briefs Filed, Source Control for Legislation, and More

  • Comic depicting the search for logical certainty in mathematics
    The period this graphic novel covers coincides with early developments in computing, too, and appeals to me because of the overlap and that early computer science draws so heavily on mathematics, especially this sort of logical pursuit.
  • Why not use source control for legislation?
    It isn’t surprising that I’d like the idea of using source control for things other than source code. The idea put forward here in an Ask Slashdot post makes a great deal of sense, in particular being able to assess incremental changes rather than reviewing the entire, monolithic body of a draft every time around.
  • The IT Crowd is coming back for a fourth season/series
    Cory was the one who first turned me onto this show. If you are any sort of computer geek, I suspect it will draw you in as deeply as it did me. I love the humor, regardless of the set dressing, but the production was done with extra care and attention that makes me really dig it on a whole other level.
  • EFF files amicus brief to SCOTUS for Bilski
    Not surprising given how strongly pro-innovation and against software patents the EFF has been. Their release gives a bit of background of you haven’t been following the appeal of a case that could be critical at least for business method patents but potentially the patentability of software too.
  • Red Hat files Bilski brief
    Ryan Paul has an excellent write up at Ars of Red Hat’s interest and their brief in Bilski. It is also not surprising to see Red Hat come out against software patents given their work to defend free software and open source projects from trolls and potential trolls in the past.
  • SFLC files a Bilski brief
    PJ has an excellent write up at Groklaw of the SFLC’s main points. Not surprisingly, they are re-inforcing and expanding the suggestion put forward by Knuth and others that algorithms are not patentable in the same way that mathematics are not patentable.

New Version of Ogg Theora Open Video Codec, The Latest in The Security Debate Over Chrome Frame Plugin, and More

  • Ogg Theora 1.1 release
    Thanks to Mike Linksvayer for sharing this link on There is a lot of details and samples in the announcement. The best part is that the 1.1 codec is fully backwards compatible, so no need to re-encode anything, either for existing 1.0 players or to upgrade for software that will use the new version.
  • Google’s rebuttal to MS claims over security issues in Frame
    Google seemed to target earlier versions of Internet Explorer in their remarks, while Microsoft earlier was talking about the most recent. I tend to give Google more credit here, considering the large proportion of folks still using MSIE 7 and even 6 and the truly abysmal security in those vintages coupled with Microsoft’s almost entirely absent support.
  • Clever response to Lily Allen’s anti piracy remarks
    Cory shares a video that remixes one of Allen’s songs with some creative lyrics detailing a very coherent, considered criticism of her earlier remarks on her blog and in response to Techdirt’s own criticisms.
  • Obama finally fills IP czar appointment
    According to Wired, both sides of the debate seem satisfied with the appointment of Espinel, a teacher as well as former adviser to Congress and to the USTR. She has the endorsement from Public Knowledge which tells me she has had a balanced view of the issues around infringement, enforcement and consumer rights at least in her past roles.
  • A view from the pro-business method patent side on Bilski
    PJ invited comment from those support business method patents to comment on the possible outcomes of Bilski. Worth the read to understand all sides of the debate and really to understand that the world won’t come unhinged no matter how the appeal is ultimately decided.
  • AU rolling out “unhackable” netbooks into schools
    This really smacks of a large PR stunt, one aimed at trying to get Windows 7 more traction on both the government and the education markets. I don’t care how much benefit you extend to security improvements in Windows 7, calling any software unhackable is disingenuous at best.