Following Up for the Week Ending 11/7/2010

Following Up for the Week Ending 10/10/2010

feeds | grep links > More Comics about Copyright, Google Coding Contest for Younger Kids, and More

  • More comics about copyright
    Techdirt links to a more humorous looking comic, about sixty pages on the history of copyright. That’s not just recent history, either, but goes far enough back to show how copyright has transformed in form and purpose. Looking over the site, the work is at least partly inspired by RMS and the Free Software folks. You can download the comic as an ePub or CBZ file.
  • Sonification project working with pollution data, Wired
  • LLVM 2.9 released, The H
  • Negroponte on XO3 tablet and beyond, Slashdot
  • Google launches coding contest for younger kids
    Audrey Watters at ReadWriteWeb has the details of what is essentially Google Summer of Code but for junior high and high school aged kids. It also likes more comprehensive than just programming, offering tasks that cover all kinds of contributions to open source projects, including but not limited to QA, documentation, translations, UI design, and outreach. Applications will open on November 22. I hope this is repeated for a few more years so my sons can participate once they are old enough.

feeds | grep links > UK Teen Jailed Over Encryption Key, OLPC’s New Tablet Not for the Developing World, Data Portability Comes to Facebook, and More

  • British teen jailed over encryption password
    Slashdot has the details and link to the full story. I cannot say that this would have end better here in the US as there is a fairly straightforward dodge to 5th Amendment protections. In and of itself, an encryption key is not incriminating. I don’t know that all judges hold with that interpretation but I am sure some prosecutors have pushed the argument or will do so.
  • More details on hacking the DC internet voting pilot, Freedom to Tinker
  • DC suspends online voting test, Slashdot
  • OLPC’s new tablet not for the developing world
    I didn’t catch this aspect of the new grant to the OLPC project to work with Marvell in producing a new tablet. The device in question, as The Register explains, won’t be produced for distribution in developing nations like the XO. Negroponte is explaining the tablet, a departure in many ways for efforts past, will be an interim step to the XO 4, the next devices meant to serve the project’s main mission of affordable educational technology.
  • Libyan, .ly, domain shut down for violating that countries standards, ReadWriteWeb
  • Data portability finally comes to Facebook
    Jacqui Cheung at Ars Technica was one of many to cover the announcements today from the dominant social network. She doesn’t speculate about the ability to export all of your data or the new dashboard, similar to Google’s privacy dashboard, that gives a more comprehensive view of your apps and what data they access. I am skeptical they’ve turned a new leaf. The other announcement, about ways to group your friends, also seems like it is reactionary to me. Rumors have been floating around for a bit now about a Google social network and the most compelling evidence would have the service strongly differentiating based on a user’s ability to segment their friends into different contexts and audiences.

feeds | grep links > OpenStreetMaps Available for Bing Maps, OLPC Offers to Help India’s $35 Tablet, and More

feeds | grep links > Self Replicating MakerBot, AI Predicting Manhole Explosions, Mousing without the Mouse, and More

  • Self replicating MakerBot
    Via Nat’s Four Short Links on O’Reilly Radar. As he notes, highly appropriate as MakerBot started as a modified RepRap which was all about being self reproducible.
  • AI used to predict manhole explosions in NYC
    I had no idea the scale of this problem was worth harnessing machine learning to tackle but according to Slashdot, apparently it is. It sounds to me like a pretty big multivariate analysis depending on pretty laboriously collected data and observations from the field. Regardless of the risk of a heavy, iron manhole cover being ejected in a gout of flame and gas, the idea to use an AI to help stay on top of the mammoth maintenance challenge for a city as old as New York greatly appeals to me.
  • NetApp threatens sellers of appliances running ZFS
    What the Slashdot summary glosses over but the linked articles make a bit more clear is that there is a history to these complaints to goes back a ways. The same company apparently repeatedly threatened Sun for much the same reason that they are now threatening NAS maker Coraid. I find it hard to credit that there isn’t a less fraught file system offering similar capabilities originating more directly from the FLOSS world.
  • Mousing without a mouse
    Priya Ganapati describes an MIT project from the creator of Sixth Sense, Pranav Mistry. It definitely seems to be strongly related, using commodity hardware to track your mousing hand as you pantomime the gestures you’ve become used to in order to drive your computer without actually needing a mouse. Given the rate at which scroll wheels get gummed up, I would gladly invest many times more than the $20 figure quoted to never have to clean any part of a mouse ever again.
  • Incremental update to OLPC XO to include multitouch screen
    Via Hacker News.
  • Skype’s encryption is partially reverse engineered
  • Fan remake of Ultima VI released
  • Blizzard backs down on requiring real names in its forums

The Next OLPC Device to be a Tablet

The Globe and Mail has solid coverage of this change of direction for the project. The base device, a tablet in the works by Marvell, is already at the right price point. It solves some of the problems of the original XO, reducing the moving parts by eliminating the keyboard and simultaneously eliminating the need to properly localize the key caps. I wonder at how well touch screens will fair in the developing world, though. Can they be ruggedized cheaply without losing functionality, the same way a keyboard can?

Negroponte is looking to unveil the next XO in January, an ambitious deadline. He didn’t mention much about the software other than the desire to use Linux and ruling out Windows 7 altogether. His reasons make sense being entirely practical, that Windows requires too much power. If he uses an existing OS, like Android, what exactly will make it an OLPC device? I suppose we’ll have to wait until January to see whether the prototype will sport Sugar or something else altogether.

What I think is safe to say is that a new manufacturing partner isn’t going to solve the infrastructure problems that plagued the original XO. I’d be more excited about this story if we’d seen more constructive responses to the economic questions around original OLPC laptop and its deployment. I would hope the OLPC project would re-focus on unresolved issues that are more critical than what the next device will be.