feeds | grep links > Chrome Store Opens to Developers, Flash in Java, P2P Users as Innocent Infringers, and More

  • Google opens Chrome app store to developers
    The Register has more details on a move from Google that has been puzzling me. From their description, what “installing” a web app in Chrome will do is allow a traditional web application to customize Chrome’s, er, chrome with its own icon and such as well as getting some higher privileges to access the browser’s resources. I suppose the security implications aren’t very different from other kinds of add ons, many of which already integrate with web services. I do wonder if the lower barrier to entry than a proper extension might make auditing for securing harder just because of increased volume.
  • Java based Flash player
  • Legal analysis of Oracle v. Google
  • SCOTUS told P2P users can be “innocent infringers”

feeds | grep links > Still More on P and NP, Google Responds to Oracle’s Java Suit, Touch is Coming to Ubuntu, and More

  • Eight signs a claimed P != NP proof is wrong
  • P vs. NP for dummies
    I don’t always follow Scott Aaronson’s explanations of quantum computation and classical mathematics and computer science but not for want of clarity and accessibility in his posts. If you’ve been swimming in deep water following the proposed P != NP proof, his lay explanation of the underlying concepts and problem are required reading.
  • World’s first voice call with a free GSM stack
    The project in question, OsmocomBB, not surprisingly has been targeting the now defunct OpenMoko phone as well as a limited number of Motorola phones. Slashdot links to a mailing list message marking this critical milestone. The cellularl modems have been a pretty consistent holdout even for phones, like those under the OpenMoko project, designed to be as open as possible.
  • Google responds to Oracle’s Java lawsuit
    As the H describes it, there isn’t much to their comments other than accusing the claims of being baseless and promising to “strongly defend open-source standards”. The H quotes some of the other responses to the suit from around the web, including James Gosling, one of Java’s inventors, and outspoken software patent critic, Florian Mueller.
  • Google chief suggests future norms may include name change privilege on reach adulthood
  • Linux distribution Debian turns 17
  • Next Ubuntu to include software stack for touch, gesture interfaces
  • Tab Candy to become standard feature in Firefox
    I had already just assumed this would be the case, but Wired’s WebMonkey confirms it. Chris Blizzard tweeted just the other day that both Tab Candy and Sync, formerly an extension but already on the road map for conversion to a proper feature, had landed in the nightly builds. We may see both show up as soon as the next beta. I intentionally don’t use a lot of tabs in Firefox, I think having a lot open is a symptom of poor focus. I may have to re-think that view after some time with this new way to organize tabs, even saving groups of them for later work or switching between groups to pursue different tasks.

Oracle Sues Google for Infringing Java Patents with Android

As Eric Bangeman at Ars Technica explains, there isn’t much detail about Oracle’s complaints beyond a press release posted earlier today. Bangeman speculates that Sun’s hostility when it still owned the IP underlying Java towards an Apache attempt for an open re-implementation may be the earlier trajectory leading to this announced suit.

The questions that arise in my mind stem from Sun’s efforts before it was gobbled up by the database giant to free Java. Only seven patents are mentioned by Oracle which may be reasonable, that all others are off limits via patent grants or similar arrangement. Dana Blankenhorn at ZDNet’s Open Source blog confirms this and more broadly argues that participation by both companies in patent defense pools should in theory forestall such a suit.

All the same, Java specifically has a touchy history with third party implementations, most notoriously when Microsoft released an altered version back in the nineties but still labeled it as “Java”. That same spirit may animate this instance as Oracle very clearly calls Google out for intentional infringement, using the words knowingly and willingly. I read that as a signal that they would have been receptive to a license deal bearing stipulations for appropriate brand marks or that they may yet be open to settlement for a piece of the lucrative Android pie.

It is understandable that Oracle would be protective of one of the highest profile elements of its acquisition but targeting Google seems downright foolish. They are no slouches in these sorts of actions, employing some wickedly smart lawerly and policy folks. If push comes to shove, Google could undoubtedly shift away from anything resembling Java to the detriment of Oracle and the wider community of developers who use Java.

Even if this threat goes nowhere, damage has already been done. Oracle is sending a clear signal that the engineering and curation of Java is nowhere near as important as the money making potential of its IP. That may not have been their intent but that is how many who would otherwise support Java are going to read this story. It is really quite hard to read it otherwise, especially considering the near simultaneous news that Oracle is effectively killing OpenSolaris.

Oracle sues Google over use of Java in Android, Ars Technica
Oracle-Google suit challenges open source establishment, Open Source at ZDNet
The Future of OpenSolaris Revealed, Slashdot

feeds | grep links > Pirate Bay in Parliament, Futures Other than the Singularity, Facebook Adds Facial Recognition, and More

feeds | grep links > Open Skype SDK, New Release of Eclipse, iOS 4 Jail Broken, and More

  • Skype releases an SDK, it may be open
    Ryan Paul has the details at Ars. The beta for using the SDK is closed at the moment so I am guessing speculation about the SDK being open in some way has to do with it only being available on Linux. Nothing on the Skype site for the SDK mentions an open license. What I do find interesting, and prodded me to finally remark on this is that the SILK codec is available royalty free. I count myself among many who stick with Skype, despite it being proprietary, for the very high audio quality SILK provides.
  • New release of Eclipse IDE and associated tools
    I stopped using Eclipse a few weeks back because I was getting bogged down by its idiotic insistence on continually re-compiling my project. I suspect this is very peculiar to a large Java project using Maven, not to Eclipse itself. As Ryan Paul explains at Ars, this latest, on-time release developers more tools, for more languages and targets, increasing Eclipse’s scope as well as its features.
  • Mozilla committed to web standards over native code
    This Register piece actually ranges over much of the plans for the forthcoming releases of Firefox’s browser, not just the rational for not embracing native code and plugins the way Google has with Chrome. This is one of the reasons I am still a devoted Firefox user, despite claims it is bloaty or that it is being out innovated by Chrome. Mozilla strives harder to make a contribution of greater value to everyone on the web, not just their own browser, users or services.
  • iOS 4 jail broken
    Sarah Perez has the details at RWW. The break works in 3G phones and 2nd generation Touches. It will be interesting to see if this helps prove out the rumor that over-the-air updates in iOS 4 are designed to detected and disable service on jail broken devices. I am also interested in seeing how fast the mod community can mow down the new hardware, the iPhone 4. I don’t expect it to take long, once hackers can actually lay hands on the devices.
  • More research into implications of stronger copyright on digital content
  • More ideas, details on Google’s dedication to speeding up the web
  • Twitter gets warning, settles with FTC over last year’s data breaches
  • Latest IE9 preview makes strides in performance, comaptibility

VMKit: JVM and .Net on LLVM

Via Hacker News, VMKit is a demonstration of the LL (Low Level) nature of the LLVM project. Rightly or wrongly, I tend to think of the relationship between certain high level languages and LLVM like the one between certain lower level, compiled languages and GCC. In the effort to generalize and optimize across languages, some interesting features and capabilities arise that might not have with language specific VMs and compilers.

(My characterization, even after just a few minutes perusing the LLVM web site, is not entirely fair as it can also be used for static compilation. This doesn’t affect my point, below.)

VMKit is a research project at present. It is some way from being a drop in replacement for either the JVM or .Net’s CLI. Even with that caveat, the project seems to have made some considerable progress, noting that on the Java side it is quite capable of running some non-trivial projects like Tomcat and Eclipse.

VMKit in a way shows how LLVM can run circles around the JVM and .Net. Both of the latter two have projects for running languages other than the ones for which they were originally created. Looking at the projects based on LLVM and the sort of advanced research that makes use of it, VMKit’s choice of LLVM seems highly appropriate to me.

I tend to think that language choice is much more driven by developer preference than any objective difference. LLVM and VMKit make me wonder if the future of programming might see the objective differences genuinely fade away. I like the idea of optimization being targeted at LLVM well below the concern of popular languages while those same languages all enjoy the mutual benefit. I suspect there are still enough legitimate differences that this idealized common platform may never be completely practical. It would merely be nice to end at least one class of hacker religious wars by pointing out everything ultimately runs off the same low level code.

Quick Security Alerts for Week Ending 4/18/2010

Gosling Leaves Oracle

As this Register piece notes, the departure of the creator of Java is hardly surprising given the cultural differences between Sun and Oracle. Gosling was conspicuously tight lipped about his exit, admitting that anything he said would do more harm than good. That alone seems to do harm to Oracle’s stance post acquisition of Sun, in particular with regards to Java. It isn’t hard to imagine what internal goings on were so troublesome for Gosling that he’d feel compelled to depart and constrained from speaking about it for fear of harms.

I expect that Java will keep moving the way it has, through a bureaucracy laden steering process. I think the days where any single voice had much effect on the trajectory of the language and the platform are long gone, even from such a bright luminary as Gosling. Still, it is a bit saddening to contemplate the closing of the chapter where Gosling was directly involved with the language as an employee of its corporate benefactor.

He didn’t say where he was going next or what he’d be up to. I hope he shares, soon, as I am sure it will be something worth following.

Quick Security Alerts for Week Ending 4/11/2010

TCLP 2010-04-07 Java, the Gray Lady

This is a feature cast, an episode of The Command Line Podcast.

In the intro, an update on the advertising experiment.

There is no listener feedback this week.

The hacker word of the week this week is farm .

The feature this week is a monologue on Java, the Gray Lady. In it, I mention COM, specifically criticisms against it. I also mention a timely piece by Neil McAllister and the Zen of Python.


Grab the detailed show notes with time offsets and additional links either as PDF or OPML. You can also grab the flac encoded audio from the Internet Archive.

Creative Commons License

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