First Release of Open Source Voting System, Mozilla’s Social Messaging Aggregator, and More

  • MySQL developer responds to Stallman’s plea to free MySQL from Oracle
    The basis of Brian Akers’ response seems to be taking issue with RMS’ apparent support for dual licensing. His argument makes a certain amount of sense but I don’t think this risk of dual licensing is unique to the GPL, I think concerns around copyright assignment and ownership persist regardless and require more discussion and thought.
  • Mozilla’s answer to aggregating social conversation?
    My biggest disappointment with Wave is that I don’t see it ever addressing the need to aggregate distributed conversations across multiple social networks. Raindrop, a new project from Mozilla, however, appears to be aiming squarely at this need. I am cautiously excited at the potential in this project.
  • AT&T urges employees to speak against FCC’s net neutrality plan
    Via the Net Neutrality Squad, a correct link to the original email text. The link some sites used is in many cases apparently broken. Looking this over, it seems to be carefully worded enough to remain legal but I think it is still pretty sleazy if not outright immoral.
  • EFF steps in to defend culture jammers, Yes Men
    At Ars Matthew Lasar explains what has the Us Chamber of Commerce peeved to the point where they issued a DMCA takedown against the pranksters. The EFF is working to defend them on a fair use basis, as the site in question is clearly intended as satire and social commentary. I am guessing the USCoC is stinging more over a Yes Men member infiltrating a meeting.
  • Data entry errors result in improper sentences
    This story is horrifying, really, and I would think a very strong case for usability expertise for any sort of system where such a human error could have dire consequences.
  • Foundation opens the source to Symbian’s kernel
    As Ryan Paul explains at Ars, this is the latest step in responding to competitive pressure from other, newer mobile platforms that started their lives as open source. Paul also spoke with the executive director of the Symbian Foundation about the relative advantages the more mature and widely adopted OS brings with both the opening of its sources and the delivery of a supporting SDK.
  • First release from open source voting system project
    According to Wired, this project has already been in the works for several years, not sure how I missed prior mention of it. This release is essentially very early prototype code but hopefully will get the academic community analyzing and providing necessary feedback, as they have been doing to the less receptive commercial vendors.

Audio of Court Proceedings, Dissecting Lily Allen’s Fevered Piracy Arguments, and More

  • Microsoft objects to Google Chrome Frame on security grounds
    According to the Zero Day blog at ZD, Microsoft says they think the plugin increases the opportunities for malware to attack the browser. I don’t see how it is any worse than Flash, really, with which the Redmond giant seems perfectly fine despite repeated and prolonged exposures from problems with Adobe’s plugin.
  • Using debate with Lily Allen to teach
    In case you missed the full back and forth, Mike Masnick has been interacting with UK musician Lily Allen over the p2p file sharing debate. In his latest piece on this, he takes to heart a very constructive comment about turning the situation into a teaching moment. This post is also a good one for back tracing the full story on Techdirt.
  • More on Lily Allen’s anti-piracy meltdown
    Corry actually reminds me that the story started with a TorrentFreak interview with Mike Masnick, among others. Cory’s BB post also adds his perspective, focusing on the constructive takeaway rather than piling on Ms. Allen.
  • Limited reform of the states secret privilege
    The EFF has a nice bit of analysis on the Obama administration’s announced reform of how it will use the states secret privilege that lets it pull evidence from a court case if it would interfere with state secrets. The only problem is the vague wording around the rules that will limit the privilege and that those rules will be enforced by the executive branch itself which will undoubtedly make the planned checks more of a rubber stamp than even a speed bump.
  • Pilot program to add audio to PACER to be extended
    Nate Anderson at Ars has details about this program that has been underway since 2007. He also discusses some of the concerns around too much open-ness that is limiting some courts from participating. He nicely dovetails it too with the kerfuffle around the RECAP Firefox plugin to free up the documents normally locked behind PACER’s paywall.
  • Shuttleworth offers usability testing to Linux app developers
    I think he is especially on to something with the rule on developers being present during the offered tested, namely they have to keep quiet. There is nothing quite so informative as focusing solely on observing users trying to puzzle out the design choices you may have undertaken in too strong a development vacuum.

Quick Links for 8/29/2009

  • Why free software has poor usability, how to improve it
    Via Make, a revisit of a six year old essay. The newer version cites a much more diverse set of reasons than volunteers, scarce user design folks, and mimicry perhaps in ignorance. I tend to agree with the other that these appear solvable and he demonstrates a good grasp of how to do so.
  • Canadian copyright town hall stacked towards industry
    Professor Geist has a pretty clear characterize of how big content is trying to suppress dissent. And as he says, this should be a clear call to citizens and consumers to make their voices heard over these sorts of transparently self serving tactics.
  • Student group threatened with ejection from copyright town hall
    Professor Geist shares some more disturbing news of the goings on around this critical public discussion. Doesn’t Canada have a free speech right similar to that in the US, specifically a strong one?
  • American copyright lobby revealed to be involved in town hall, too
    BB has more information on the consequences on the recent public discussion. It keeps get stranger though the fact that big content here in the US is involved is hardly surprising given the pressure they have exerted in the past as copyright reform has been considered twice before in Canada.
  • Obama-Joker takedown story gets weirder
    Mike Masnick follows up on Techdirt. Apparently the responsible party has been identified but he denies having issued the takedown. Seems credible as he apparently is demonstrating a pretty poor grasp of how takedown notices actually work.
  • Microsoft hosting “Screw Google” meetings in DC
    This is a bit surreal if it can be credited. The attitude really seems to be one of an upstart, usually adopted by foes of the Redmond software giant. So odd to see them using this sort of rhetoric against Google.
  • Is the future going to see more good enough technology rather than the best?
    An interesting and example rich Wired article looks into a trend that has been with us in software development almost from the beginning. I also wonder if this is a response to the tired upgrade treadmill that one has to deal with in acquiring premium electronics. The article definitely touches on the agility that merely good enough solutions afford compared to the necessary elaboration and iteration for the alternative.
  • Snow Leopard adoption of a security standard doesn’t quite go far enough
    The Register explains that while Apple finally did implement address space layout randomization, a technique that makes buffer overrun and heap exploits more difficult, they did not do so uniformly. Apparently much of the core of the operating system doesn’t use ASLR to the detriment of users’ security.
  • Australian experts call for a computer license
    I cannot fault the motivation but I think the metaphor of a driver’s license suffers heavily as the challenges of enforcement in a physical system that is fixed and amenable to spot checks are simply dwarfed by trying to do anything comparable in a fluid, every expanding network.