feeds | grep links > Limited Lending on Kindle, MIT Media Labs’ 25th Anniversary, Unity as Default in Future Ubuntu, and More

  • 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

Quick Security Alerts for the Week Ending 10/24/2010

Mozilla Labs Gaming Announces First Competition

I wrote about the new gaming initiative from Mozilla Labs a little while ago when it launched. Marshall Kirkpatrick at ReadWriteWeb notes the announcement by that project of its first gaming competition.

Mozilla, home of the popular Firefox browser, has announced a new effort to challenge the dominance of Adobe Flash in the casual gaming market. Called Game On 2010, the effort is an international competition that will highlight “games built, delivered and played on the open Web and the browser.” The crux of the issue is no Flash allowed.

The contest will run between now and January 11th of next year. Marshall notes there is skepticism that HTML5 and related technologies are quite to the level needed to take on Flash directly. He, at least, seems game to see what the development community might come up with.

I think the pump is definitely well primed. I noodled around with several of the JS1K entries from that contest I linked to yesterday. If some addictively fun games can be written in less than a kilobyte of JavaScript, imagine what will come of Mozilla’s contest regardless of how the entries stack up to Flash. I also think efforts like these will keep pushing newer killer apps into the conscious of users such that demand for advanced, open standards will only grow to the benefit of all.

Mozilla Takes Aim at Flash-based Casual Games, ReadWriteWeb

feeds | grep links > Mozilla Concept Smart Phone, Progress in Fennec Nightlies, and Other Non-Mozilla Links

Once again, crushed for time so only offering up some links without comment. Going to see the favorite angry liberal of mine and my wife’s, Lewis Black, later this evening after a nice dinner out in the heart of DC.

feeds | grep links > Scribd Surprises Users with Paywall, An Open Source Low Bandwidth Codec, More on the IP Enforcement Bill, and More

  • Xerox PARC turns 40, The Register
  • Scribd quietly moves users docs behind a paywall
    Mike Masnick at Techdirt shares the realization by law professor Eric Goldman of this little publicized change. This action by the document sharing service defies reason. Goldman articulates how undoubtedly most of the users caught by this change must feel, used and trapped. Once again, this isn’t an issue with open or closed but moving from one to the other after a bargain was offered and a promise made. Even a much more clear shift would have been more tenable, if almost as unpalatable.
  • Is Facebook turning on online activists it used to support?, ReadWriteWeb
  • An open source, low bandwidth voice codec
    Slashdot points to a project whose main developer also worked on the Speex codec, another effort tailored to efficient coding of just voice. Mainly Codec2 looks to be focused on replacing a current, proprietary codec used in amateur radio but its capabilities are compelling, almost 4 seconds of clear speech in just over 1 kilobyte. It would be nice of some of the unencumbered ideas might find application in high quality voice encoding, too, perhaps to help fuel an open alternative to Skype with similar sound quality. Of course, that’s just the podcaster in me thinking out loud.
  • Mozilla joins Open Invention Network as licensee
    HT @glynmoody
  • Wendy Seltzer discusses new IP enforcement bill
    In this post on the Freedom to Tinker blog, Seltzer places the bill firmly in the context of piracy as a legal pretext for censorship. I didn’t touch on the issue of potential abuses but the point dovetails with what I explained yesterday about lowering friction. It simply becomes too easy to press a claim of infringement, legitimate or not, for the correct purpose or some lateral one such as suppressing dissenting speech.
  • EP votes on controversial anti-piracy report, TorrentFreak
  • Bill Tracker launched for legislation in the UK, BoingBoing

feeds | grep links > Mozilla Inserts a Stability Beta, How-to Read a Patent, Babbage’s Debugger, and More

Apologies for the paucity of posts today. I am feeling brain drain from a technical presentation at the $employer today. And my mind is still spinning on re-working my audio workflow under Linux now that my mixer is working.

Mozilla Launches Gaming Initiative

As Adrianne Jeffries at ReadWriteWeb explains the new project, Mozilla Labs Gaming, is meant to encourage developers to use the new technologies being built into modern browsers both to highlight those capabilities and capitalize in the growing interest in casual and social games. The intersection makes a great deal of interest and is a more productive notion than the usual anti-Flash sentiments offered when discussing HTML5, CSS3 and other newer standards.

“Modern Open Web technologies introduced a complete stack of technologies such as Open Video, audio, WebGL, touch events, device orientation, geo location, and fast JavaScript engines which make it possible to build complex (and not so complex) games on the Web,” Mozilla Labs wrote on its blog. “With these technologies being delivered through modern browsers today, the time is ripe for pushing the platform. And what better way than through games?”

The new efforts reinforces why Firefox is still my favorite browser despite market share gains made by Chrome. Mozilla is as dedicated to the broader space of open web standards as it is to its own particular entrants. Driving developer adoption of these technologies forces all browser makers to evolve and innovate ensuring that users get the best experience of the web regardless of what software they use.

Mozilla Hopes Web Games Will Remind Us That Browsers Are Still Awesome, ReadWriteWeb

feeds | grep links > Mozilla Cloud Editor Renamed, Google to Simplify Privacy Policies, Brazil May Legalize File Sharing, and More

I am still on the road, returning from Dragon*Con in Atlanta. There four more hours between me and DC, which will be tackled tomorrow, bright and early. My blogging should return to normal either tomorrow or Wednesday.

feeds | grep links > More Open Cloud Computing, More API’s for Mozilla JetPack, Diaspora to Release Next Month, and More

New Alpha Release of Mozilla’s Fennec

Fennec is Mozilla’s mobile browser, currently targeting the Nokia internet tablets and the Android operating system. This latest release still bears the the alpha tag signifying users should try it with the utmost caution as all bets are on in terms of reliability. The prior alpha truly looked unusable but as Frederic Lardinois at RWW explains, addressing performance was the top priority informing this fresh update.

The video is well worth a watch, giving a sense of where the browser’s speed is at but also highlighting Fennec’s interface.  I cannot wait to get a mobile friendly version of Firefox’s awesome bar.  The search engine integration in Fennec’s awesome page is a nice touch.

One of the reasons I am particular interested in getting an Android MID as my next mobile gadget is the possibility of running Fennec. I am an immense fan of Firefox, the full browser, both for the software itself but also for the principles of an open web on which it is built. Fennec would bring that same openness to the mobile web, not to mention the recent data sharing via Sync that has shaped up to be a killer feature across most of Mozilla’s offerings.

Mozilla Fennec, First Browser for Android with Support for Add-Ons, ReadWriteWeb