feeds | grep links > Profile of a Hacktivist, How the Internet Changed Language, Natty Narwhals, and More

  • Profile of a hacktivist who first helped with elections in Iran
    Slashdot links to a Newsweek article that is well worth the read. A lot of criticism has been flying around lately against clicktivists and slacktivists. This is a reminder that there are programmers quietly working on pieces and parts to support real social change.
  • How the internet has changed language
    BBC via Slashdot
  • Next version of Ubuntu gets a name–Natty Narwhal
    Ryan Paul at Ars Technica has some good perspective on the rather silly, even for Canonical, name and the plans around the release that are a bit more serious. There is more evidence, beyond the big announcement yesterday about multitouch coming in Meerkat, that the roadmap will pay more attention to mobile computing. Whether that will be at the expense of the traditional desktop remains to be seen but count me as one of the skeptics.
  • Court OKs covert iPhone recording
    As David Kravets at Wired explains, the fact it was an iPhone is incidental as it wasn’t a call that was recorded. The ruling in the 2nd Circuit is apparently consistent with other recent rulings that I have to imagine are about recording in public or semi-public spaces not over telephone lines which is traditionally scrutinized much more closely.
  • Mobile super computing
    According to the article to which Slashdot links, this is rather different than the mobile cloud about which I posted yesterday. This refinement of an existing approach combines the horsepower of true super computers with the convenience of mobile devices. Essentially, most of the heavy lifting is done before sending what reads like a intermediate result or cheaper to run, partially pre-digested simulation to the phone. A small but interesting space of what-if changes can be made and re-run at decent speeds on the less capable devices.

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.

feeds | grep links > Wikileaks Release 90K Documents, Open Source Software-Based GSM Network, Firefox Beta Delayed, and More

feeds | grep links > Ubuntu on a NexusOne, Google’s New System for Infringing Music, Possibilities for Scalable Quantum Computers, and More

  • Installing Ubuntu on a Nexus One
    Make has a video of the installation process from NexusOneHacks.net, document and demonstrated over the long weekend. It isn’t that much of a stretch as Android, the phone’s default OS, already uses a Linux kernel, just an entirely different stack on top of it. Mm, I could definitely see Ubuntu’s forthcoming Unity interface for netbooks running well on a smartphone.
  • Google’s potential new system for avoiding takedowns for infringing music copyrights
    According to Slashdot, the novel aspect of this patent application isn’t identifying potentially infringing music in YouTube videos, but a set of actions from which an uploader may be able to choose: remove the video, swap the soundtrack for something approved, or to mute the video. As the post notes, there is no allowance for use with permissions. Once again, there is also no room for no action, relying on fair use. If implemented, this rely isn’t much better than the filtering system in place now.
  • New fabrication technique could lead to scalable quantum computers
    The key, as Technology Review explains, is inducing nitrogen vacancies within a diamond crystal. The vacancies can be made to luminesce so the implication is they could be used to stored and emit photons, which have been used in other quantum computing rigs. The research hasn’t advanced that far, it really is more about the fabrication technique but the potential is fascinating.
  • Blizzard to require real names to post on its forums

Security Alerts for the Week Ending 6/20/2010

feeds | grep links > OH Supremes Pierce Jurisdictional Boundaries, MS Sneakily Installs a Firefox Add-On (Again), Ubuntu for Tablets, LLDB as Fast as GDB, and More

  • Top court says businesses may sue residents of other states in Ohio over Internet comments
    HT Chris Miller. I thought there was a pretty strongly established practice, at least for some types of complaints, of a case being heard where the defendant is located. Or am I confusing that with weapon choice and duelling? At all events, expect cases like these, fighting over who has jurisdiction over an interaction that takes place exclusively online. Is there any good precedent for the defendant in Virginia to contest the ruling by the Ohio Supreme Court?
  • Microsoft sneaks a Firefox extension into an update–again
    As Emil Protalinski at Ars Technica explains, at least this time the notes on the update are targeted at an issue with an extension itself. The problem is that the knowledge base article doesn’t exactly say so in as many words. Worse, if the add-on or extension is not present, the update installs it. It does so without permission which is simply insult on top of the injury of “fixing” software that isn’t event install.
  • Canonical working on an Ubuntu version for tablets
    Via Slashdot. Makes sense and seems consistent with the version targeting netbooks. I am consistently impressed with screenshots of that version, makes me wish I had a netbook to give it a spin. Hopefully the tablet version will be that polished and whizzy.
  • The flip side of Apple’s relationship with Open Source
    Via Glyn Moody on Identi.ca, The H has a piece balance some of the criticisms I leveled about Apple’s poor handling of their (entirely legal) re-use of the Readability project’s code. I’ll give on the competitive pressure front but not so much on the enabling, the much belabored example of KHTML/WebKit. I suspect Google would have still created a browser if WebKit had evolved at Apple’s behest. They might have even adopted and helped improve Mozilla’s components which I would argue would have been better for the state of open web standards.
  • Can privacy, social media and business get along?
  • LLDB, relatively new sub-project of LLVM, already as fast as GDB
    Slashdot has the details and links to the projects’ pages. If the scripting languages being ported and built on top of LLVM can access and benefit the debugging capabilities LLDB brings to the table, then I think the argument goes well beyond Clang/LLVM replacing GCC into LLVM driving the velocity of a lot of language and tool development more broadly.

Ubuntu’s New Netbook UI, Unity

Ryan Paul at Ars Technica has an excellent write up of what Canonical is planning for Ubuntu Unity, a new shell that will be part of its new Ubuntu Light project aimed primarily at netbooks. Even though Unity is a completely distinct design from Gnome 3.0’s new graphical shell, I am impressed at the aggressive re-use of components and services under the hood. I am tempted once this is released to see if I could use it as a minimalist environment on my full desktop machine.

The idea is to maximize the real estate available for applications to help offset the limited screen size and resolution commonly available in cheaper portables. I think some of the tricks he describes are pretty clever and look snazzy regardless of how much resolution and real estate you may have. Of course, the Mac user in me is instantly attracted to the separated menu bar position constantly at the top of the screen. The more I look at it, the more Mac like it appears explaining why I keep poring over the screen shots.

Paul also has a detailed hands on with a developer build he was able to secure from Canonical. It clearly is rough and he notes what is missing and is still in progress. For all that, it sounds promising.

Get Your Personal Supercomputer, Asking Whether New Technology Makes Us Dumber, and More

  • Patent troll defamation case settled
    I was unaware of this case until Mike Masnick mentioned it on Techdirt earlier in the week. He asks the key question now that the case has been settled, whether the blogger in question will keep writing about the tactics and actions of patent trolls, enlightening the rest of us and hopefully placing that much more pressure for reform.
  • SGI to sell personal super computer
    I was skeptical until I saw that the system in question will scale up to 80 cores. While it may be at the personal scale, to effectively use such a machine, you really would need to use super computing tools and frameworks, like MPI to fully utilize that many cores. Maybe OpenCL and similar initiatives will make programming a personal super computer more approachable.
  • Next Ubuntu release will be a long term support release
    Ryan Paul discusses what an LTS release means at Ars. He also recounts the disappointments with past LTS versions and forthcoming changes, in particular Gnome 3, that may cloud the LTS aspect of 10.04, or Lucid Lynx.
  • Industry group sides with Apple over block Pre sync with iTunes
    The question, as the Globe and Mail eventually points out, is over Palm spoofing Apple’s USB vendor ID to make their phone sync. Palm apparently made the complaint to the USB Implementers Forum but they sided with Apple. It makes sense if you think about the effort and rules behind assigning IDs to be able to clearly distinguish host and device makers. It still doesn’t mean Apple closing their ecosystem to Palm is a good or moral move.
  • Microsoft receives patent on peer to peer DRM
    The article linked to by Slashdot at least has the good graces to acknowledge that this patent is now largely moot. I was willing to concede his point about P2P DRM helping grow P2P networks until I realized that the only thing that makes it P2P is how it distributes and serves keys. I initially thought that the DRM would only be effective in the P2P system, which would be a cool compromise, allowing personal use copying. That is clearly not the case.
  • FCC stance on net neutrality may reset the bar for other countries
    This Globe and Mail piece is mostly a backgrounder and concludes with a quote from Prof. Geist where he makes the point about the new US policy setting a different example for Canada specifically. I think the point could easily be generalized to any country fully engaged with the question of an open internet as a value in and of itself.
  • Google launches web site annotation service
    RWW explains how the service is intended to work, largely as a distributed comment system but with a few twists that distinguish it from struggling predecessors like Disqus. The piece also very briefly considers the ramifications of Google collecting yet more data.
  • Greater risks of Google’s Sidewiki
    Jeff Jarvis points out how the new service diminishes value at destination sites, shifting it to Google. He contrasts this to Google’s other services that drive traffic and value to the edges of the network. He has some updates with worthy rebuttals that really just reveal that Google perhaps should have thought through how this offering changes the dynamic with target sites.
  • Ruling upholds legality of GPL in France
    Saw this on Glyn Moody’s blog, a bit of good news in a country that is descending down a scarey rabbit hole with its pursuit of a three strikes regime against copyright infringers.
  • Do pencils make us dumber?
    At Techdirt, Mike Masnick mentions a book I think I need to add to my pile. It contemplates a question that has occurred to me with increasing frequency when hearing industry incumbents struggle to veto or otherwise suppress innovation. Namely that this dynamic is far from new and I really do wonder what we can learn from history to strike better balances.