- Amazon to allow lending of Kindle books
Groklaw pointed to this ABC News piece over the weekend. Details are scant, other than while a user has lent a book out, they will not be able to read it themselves. Books can be lent for two weeks at a time. Slashdot has one more tidbit, namely that books can only be lent out once. Superficially attempts to emulate the scarce nature of physical books but utterly fails on the one time limit and that lending is enabled or disabled by the publisher, a right of action current unencumbered for print editions.
- MIT Media Lab’s 25th anniversary
I clearly didn’t read closely enough the BBC article on the Lab to which I linked last week. Several other sites since then have posted reminiscences about the various interesting projects to come out of the Media Lab. John Timmer at Ars Technica posted this one over the weekend, which is a bit more whimsical but I think very much in the spirit of play that animates much of what the Lab has done over the past two and a half decades.
- Ubuntu switching to Unity for future desktop
Ryan Paul at Ars Technica was one of several people to mention this in my feeds today. Unity is the alternate shell for Gnome developed by Canonical specifically to improve the experience of users on netbooks. Reactions to the announcement so far are mixed, with some even thinking this signals a split between Canonical and Gnome, which I think is far from the case. Bear in mind that Linux has a long traditional of experimenting with desktops and undoubtedly if you dislike Unity, replacing it with the ordinary Gnome shell, or anything else for that matter, will remain trivial.
- Carl Malamud’s ignite talk on why building codes should be open, BoingBoing
- Mozilla pre-alpha demonstrates new way to customize its browser, The H
- What you need to know about link shorteners, O’Reilly Radar
- Bees beat machines at traveling salesman problem, Slashdot
- Firefox 4 beta for mobile devices
Ryan Paul at Ars Technica has a good run down of both improvements in the latest release of Fennec, now just simply referred to as Firefox 4, as well as the remaining challenges for the mobile version of Mozilla’s browser to stack up well against other mobile browsers. Still trying to get my hands on 4-5 inch Android MID for, among other things, testing these mobile builds my own self.
- Interactive fiction on an e-reader
Tim Carmody at Wired provides what I think is the most compelling reason to get a dedicated e-reader yet, the ability hacked together by some gamers to play interactive fiction. Carmody calls out the one downer that occurred to me too, the pain of entering text on some of these devices. All the same, it definitely is a good match in terms of display capabilities and processing power. Well, and it’s intensely nerdy fun.
- Caught spying, FBI wants its bug back, Wired
- Software evolution storylines, inspired by xkcd, Slashdot
- CBC bans use of Creative Commons music on podcasts
Michael Geist links directly to the discussion in the comments at the Spark site. He also explains that it is a consequence of some collective agreement with talent agencies. It is easy to speculate that this is specifically targeting CC but I suspect that it may be mere boiler plate language that includes exclusivity as part of the deal which would preclude any other licenses, not just CC. Still, how quickly do you think the parties involved might backpedal?
- A step closer to workable brain-computer interfaces, Technology Review
- Latest leaked ACTA draft, BoingBoing
- More on latest ACTA leak, Techdirt
- Analysis of latest ACTA leak, Michael Geist
- ACTA secrecy is all US’s fault, Ars Technica
- MEP demand fundamental rights for citizens in ACTA deal, Open Rights Group
- European Parliament all but rejects ACTA, Slashdot
- European Parliament passes anti-ACTA declaration, Ars Technica
- MEPs try again to force ACTA transparency, The Register
- Righthaven sues senate candidate Sharron Angle, Techdirt
- Sony releases mandatory PS3 update in response to jail break, Ars Technica
- Courts may require warrants for cell phone location records, EFF
- More on debated standards for cell phone location records, Wired
- UK informal consultation on net neutrality, Open Rights Group
- AT&T claiming historical arguments made for non-neutral net, Ars Technica
- EFF’s e-book buyer’s privacy guide, version 2, EFF
- FSF sides with Google over Oracle, Open Source
- Moving forward on white spaces, Google
- Autodesk wins on issue of sale or license on appeal, Wired
- OpenStreetMaps now available for Bing Maps
Adrianne Jeffries at RWW explains that the OSM data is available as a layer in Bing Maps. It requires you to use Microsoft’s rich client platform, Silverlight, which is available for platforms other than Windows. If you are a registered member of the OpenStreetMaps project, you can even contribute edits through the Big Maps layer. I am glad to see OSM gain more traction though this pales a bit in comparison to MapQuest’s recent announcement.
- OLPC’s Negroponte offers to help with India’s $35 tablet
Ryan Paul at Ars I think identifies the most interesting aspect of this story, that it demonstrates that OLPC may be moving past the model with which it has struggled to broader opportunities to support education and access to technology. That being said, India hasn’t had much success with its home grown initiatives for low cost computing so the offer of help may come with the understanding that OLPC may still bring hardware in if the low price tablet evaporates like its $10 laptop predecessor.
- Web based iPhone jail break relies on unpatched PDF flaw
- Schools build blog-to-ebook tool in one week
This is news cast 220, an episode of The Command Line Podcast.
In the intro, an apology for missing the last two shows, though I had good reason. I will be in San Francisco from August 9th to the 11th for Cassandra Summit and a training day. If anyone is interested in a meet up Monday or Tuesday night, let me know. And if you don’t read the web site, I am a finalist for a Parsec award.
This week’s security alerts are Apple fixes the autofill bug in Safari that I didn’t get to discuss last week and AT&T said it wouldn’t interfere with a Black Hat demo and was true to its word.
In this week’s news EFF wins three DMCA exemptions with deeper analysis from both them and Public Knowledge. There were two additional exemptions granted and many others that were not. I get why most of the coverage is so positive but I cannot help but give voice to my inner cynic. Also, the Senate prepares privacy legislation as industry discusses self regulation, a couple of stories about e-books in developing nations, and Slashdot is losing relevance on the social web.
Following up this week Al Franken frames net neutrality as key free speech issue and Canadian C-32 is clearly following the US DMCA.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
- EU rushing to ACTA agreed
- Report on meeting with ACTA negotiators in Lucerne
- EU action alert on ACTA
- USTR statement on ACTA makes no mention of releasing latest draft
- ACTA will reach final draft in six months
- UK rejects ACTA call to criminalize illicit file sharing
- VP8 codec coming to FFmpeg
- Flash to continue to have large role at YouTube, more so than WebM
- Bilski is affirmed though ruling is narrower than hoped
- EFF’s analysis of the Bilski decision
- Trying to divine the future of software patents in the wake of the Bilski decision
- White House wants more spectrum for wireless broadband
- King’s Quest fan project is back
- The latest between Google and China
- Google to end .cn redirect
- Congress examines US investment in Chinese censorship
- Some Google searchers now blocked in China
- EU launches its own net neutrality inquirt
- Judge orders user-friendly notices in USCG suits
- Judge rejected all of EFF’s arguments in USCG cases
- Broadband now official a legal right in Finland
- Vote to repeal Britain’s Digital Economy Act
- Internet Archive starts lending in copyright e-books
HT Tim Vollmer.
- Canadian copyright astroturfers own up to fronting US labels
- Woman accused of camcorder piracy sues theater
- Fight against telco immunity continues in appeals court
- Will copyright change in the face of ubiquitous recording?
Mike Masnick at Techdirt ponders a scenario that makes the impact of technology on copyright to date appear quaint. The story he digs into is of a fellow with a prosthetic eye capable of recording and broadcasting everything it sees. I think there are parallels in research on genuine life streaming and the not entirely fictional lifebox idea suggested by Rudy Rucker. Masnick hints at these with his mention of ubiquitous, constant recording being applied to help with memory.
- Australia going all in on open access fiber
Jacqui Cheung at Ars Technica has the details of a move by the Australian government, now in cooperation with the dominant telco, Telstra, that will be well worth watching. The speeds are pretty modest for fiber but the model could provide interesting fodder for broadband access discussions elsewhere. The infrastructure itself will by run so that any ISP can pay non-discriminatory rates for access. Sounds an awful lot like what we had here until lobbying resulted in broadband being largely de-regulated.
- Flexible touch screen made from printed graphene
I am floored by how far along this research described in Technology Review is. The key advance is the production of an astonishingly large continuous sheet of graphene. They’ve even used such sheets to prototype the titular flexible display, not just modeled or suggested it could be done. There’s no mention of the heated atomic force microscope work I talked about on the podcast but that would seem like a logical effort to pair with this work for all kinds of electronics applications based on graphene.
- B&N launches cheaper WiFi Nook
The Globe and Mail was one of many carrying the story and as many others have the response from Amazon, to drop the price of the Kindle. I am really only interested in competition in the space hotting up in as far as it just might lead to dropping DRM altogether as a competitive move to get each retailer’s books onto the other’s device.
- In NJ, higher tech lowers crime
- Urgent ACTA communique to which you can add your name, by June 23
- Recent quantum random number generator record already broken
- File sharing has weakened copyright, helped society
- NSA gets geeky after dark
- VLC forced to drop shoutcast support due to AOL anti-OSS provision
- Search data retention clause snuck into EU child protection declaration
EFF has the details, including that a majority of members of the EP didn’t spot the close and signed the declaration. Several have since withdrawn their signatures. Once again, no one is suggesting that protecting children online is a goal not worth pursuing. As the post says, it is not worth utilizing measures to do so that compromise other human rights.
- Where are the promising e-book readers, post-Kindle, post-iPad?
Jon Stokes at Ars Technica takes a look at two of the more promising e-book readers announced but not yet on the market. Both appear to have succumbed to delays and possibly an inability to deliver on ambitious technology promises. Both may be in financial trouble, with rumors of sale being sought for the companies behind them. Stokes sees the iPad as contributory but not entirely causative for the once promising future of these devices having evaporated. I’d be more upset if I, like Stokes, wasn’t still being print editions and enjoying them more than any kind of screen.
- Apple’s iOS tools should compete on their strength, not arbitrary rules
Dana Blankenhorn at ZDNet’s Open Source blog has a decent rant that sums up many of the issues with Apple’s restrictions on tools and languages for its mobile platforms. He talks up Appcelerator, a company and tool caught in the middle that translates from other languages to Objective-C, seemingly getting around Apple’s restrictions. It is unclear whether this tactic will work but the adoption by developers points to a clear opportunity if Apple would just relax about its proprietary tool chain.
- Macedonia introduces law allowing deep, persistent online surveillance
Cory shares the horrifying tale at Boing Boing, what reads like any cyberlibertarian’s worst nightmare. Just about everything a law enforcement agency could want for wire-tapping online appears to be included. I don’t know what the history of policy is in Macedonia but it seems clear that the government ignored advice from several NGOs that gathered to discuss the human rights implications of the draft being passed without amendment.
- Did SC use 2nd hand voting machines de-certified in another state?
- Why banning filming of police is a terrible idea
- New technical paper on ways to shift TV spectrum to wireless broadband
I linked to the remarks by Penguin CEO David Shanks earlier but didn’t comment as I was trying to catch up on a glut of stories over the long weekend. Jacqui Cheung at Ars Technica has a thoughtful follow up explaining the problems with publishers saying they want open formats for electronic books but doing very little to bring them about.
Cheung talked with a couple of authors who gave more nuance to the issues holding back forward momentum on an open standard. Cesar Torres describes a problem, lack of consensus leading to stalled progress, common to all sorts of open technology standards. Hold outs use the remaining warts in a standard as an excuse to abstain forming a self reinforcing barrier to getting either a common standard or even a subset of the features they individually are after.
Edward Champion paints a picture that sounds like what every distributor of size has gone through in the wake of digital technology. Self interest in preserving stable markets almost always outweighs investment in the future goods in which customers are most interested. As a lover of both hard cover editions and ebooks, I stand as an example of his point about a desire in the market to be able to purchase both on the same day.
I love that O’Reilly already offers bundles like this and appears to be thriving, not thrashing. I’d much more willingly pay the exorbitant price for a hardcover edition of the latest fiction title on my wish list if it came bundled with an ePub edition as part of the deal. Right now, paper and electronic books complement each other well in my experience. I would accept either a smaller number of publishers simply experimenting to improve availability or all publishers tinkering with a small number of their titles. Even if they could not settle on a single format, maybe competing two or three against each other, I suspect the publishers would be surprised by the positive response to a truly open and portable option.
I’ve been home from Balticon for half a day, at least, and still am deeply weary. I promise to write out some more coherent, extensive thoughts on my experiences, all constructive and enjoyable, when I am more caught up on my rest. I have audio from two panels I will be sharing this week and next. This will give me an opportunity to get caught up on writing features without straining my brain. That poor organ is currently awash in a vicious stew of fatigue toxins.
I did manage to get caught up on my feeds, only making all as read on the one or two with the highest volume and lowest signal-to-news ratio. I don’t think these few stories that interested me require much comment. All to the good as I cannot manage anything terrifically insightful at the moment. I will re-engage more fully with my reading, thoughts and writing on the blog tomorrow.