Gee, thanks SOPA. Sort of.

Comment on Web Giants Form US Internet Lobby Group

I remember this being something that came up during the fight over SOPA: Namely, that while the entertainment industry is used to lobbying the government, the tech industry was fractured and didn’t see lobbying as a high priority, so the success Hollywood had at railroading some of those crazy ideas just blindsided them. (Stacked hearings, deliberately ignoring experts, etc.) It became clear that something would have to level the field, and since we know the RIAA, MPAA and friends aren’t going to back off on their lobbying (and we know the government isn’t going to stop listening to lobbyists), the solution is a tech lobby.

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Long Court Cases

Sometimes, lawsuits take a *long* time to get through the courts to the point where they’re dismissed or resolved. Six years from incident to dismissal doesn’t surprise me as much as I wish it did.

There’s a book called “The True Stella Awards” [stellaawards.com] by Randy Cassingham, which is full of documented court cases that waste time & money, set bad precedents, try to punish the wrong people, etc, and it’s disheartening to see how long the process can take.

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What the News Feed is

Comment on Facebook Patents the News Feed

If I’m reading the summary correctly, it’s about building this kind of list:

– Alice became a fan of Wonderland. [Become a fan of Wonderland]
– Bob just won an apple in the Halloween tournament. [Play Halloween]
– Carol is attending the Yadayada concert [RSVP]
– Dave and Ellie are now friends
– Frances joined the group, “I Hate Software Patents” [Join “I Hate Software Patents”]
– Greg commented on Hayden’s status. [Read comment]

Probably a key element in it is trying to make the list relevant enough to the user that they’ll want to click on the “Become a fan of…” or “Play…” or “RSVP…” links.

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Compliance Rates & Hands-Free Use

Comment on Phone and Text Bans On Drivers Shown Ineffective

Just because a behavior is banned doesn’t mean people have actually stopped doing it. California’s ban has been in place for a year and a half now, and I still regularly see people driving while talking on their phones. So hand-held phone use has reduced in these areas. How much?

The other thing to consider is that at least the California law allows you to use your cell phone while driving as long as you use a hand-free system, like an earpiece or a car system that acts as a speakerphone. I seem to recall that other studies have shown that hands-free cell phone conversations are just as distracting as conversations carried out while holding the phone. (The article spends a whopping one sentence on this.)

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It’s about the streaming

Comment on Netflix Will Delay Renting New WB Releases

I’m sure that’s [a discount on DVDs] a big part of it…but the press release also mentioned that WB is giving them access to more of its catalog for their streaming service.

With physical DVDs, if WB refuses to sell directly to Netflix, they can always send someone to Costco, buy a bunch of DVDs, and rent them under the first sale doctrine. With streaming, they need an active contract with WB to do it (legally) at all. If WB decides not to renew that contract…well, there goes their streaming service. Or at least anything from Warner Bros.

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One difference: the seasonal flu vaccine is based on…

One difference: the seasonal flu vaccine is based on predicting ahead of time which strains of flu are likely to circulate during the upcoming flu season and targeting those strains. Sometimes the predictions are accurate, sometimes they’re not. The H1N1 vaccine targets a specific strain that we know is circulating.

In RFC terms:
A seasonal flu vaccine MAY protect you from seasonal flu.
An H1N1 flu vaccine SHOULD protect you from H1N1 flu.

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Non-Standard = Ambiguous

So, have you got some specs for exactly the way IE and Gecko handle every single case of non-standard code? Including cases where it’s clear the code is broken, but it’s not clear what the author meant, and multiple interpretations are equally valid?

No? There’s no specification? They’ll have to reverse-engineer it by visiting every page on the internet with IE and Firefox and seeing what those browsers do with them? Gee, that sounds workable!

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What uses does it have?

* Running commentary on an event.
* Random thoughts.
* Announcements (news sites, software updates, blogs, etc.)
* Sharing interesting links
* Conversations
* Fiction told one line at a time.
* Tips of the Day

I’m sure if you think about it instead of dismiss it you can come up with other uses.

All of it tied into a single feed that can be access via the web, via a multitude of desktop applications, via smartphone apps, or even via SMS on mobile phones, making it ubiquitous.

Sure, many of these things can be done via email, or RSS, or instant messaging, but Twitter — or rather, a system like it — provides a simple way to combine them all into one easily-accessed stream.

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It’s official: Google mows goats – er, mows *with* goats.

It’s official: Google mows goats – er, mows *with* goats. https://googleblog.blogspot.com/2009/05/mowing-with-goats.html

On Twitter

Google’s Mountain View headquarters has fields that need to be kept clear of fire hazards. This year instead of mowing them, they took a low-carbon approach: they hired a herd of goats to eat the grass for a week. “It costs us about the same as mowing, and goats are a lot cuter to watch than lawn mowers.”

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Comic Sans, Font of Ill Will

The Wall Street Journal profiles Vincent Connare, designer of the web’s most-hated font, Comic Sans. Not surprisingly, the font’s origins go back to Microsoft Bob, where he saw a talking dog speaking in Times New Roman. Connare pulled out Watchmen and The Dark Knight Returns for reference, and created the comic book-style font over the next week.

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Bored? Try Doodling To Keep The Brain On Task

The next time you see someone doodling during a meeting, don’t criticize them for drifting off. It turns out that doodling is the mind’s way of keeping itself just busy enough to avoid checking out entirely and slipping off into a daydream, and doodlers actually remember more of that boring talk. (Judging by my college notes, this probably helped me remember a lot of otherwise-boring lectures.)

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Bossie Awards Honor Open Source Software

InfoWorld has announced the 2007 Bossie Awards for the Best of Open-Source Software. Awards were given to 36 winners across 6 categories. Honorees include (among others) SpamAssassin, ClamAV and Nessus in security, Wireshark and Azureus Vuze in networking, and ZFS for storage. Interestingly, they split the operating system winners across two distributions, with CentOS winning for server OS and Ubuntu for desktop.

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Typing Patterns for Authentication

“NPR’s Marketplace is reporting on a new authentication scheme. BioPassword tracks the way you type your password: how long each key is depressed, the time between keystrokes, overall speed. When someone tries to log into your account, it compares the pattern to what it has on file. It only allows you in if both the password and patterns match. The technique has been around a while: World War II morse code operators used it to determine whether a message was sent by an ally or an impostor.”

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Browser Wars Declared Over

Opera Watch reports that Microsoft, Mozilla, Opera and Google declared the Browser Wars to be over at a panel at Web 2.0 Expo yesterday. “Instead of trying to trump one another by adding features in point releases, the companies that developed these browsers are instead intent on advancing their use as platforms for a new generation of rich Internet applications and for tackling the hurdles that will come along with that shift in strategy.” ComputerWorld and eWeek have more details. Apple, the remaining major browser manufacturer, was not represented at the panel.

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Fedora Core and Fedora Extras to merge

Fedora Weekly News is reporting that, beginning with Fedora 7, the distinction between Core and Extras will cease to exist:

Starting with Fedora 7, there is no more Core, and no more Extras; there is only Fedora. One single repository, built in the community on open source tools, assembled into whatever spins the Fedora community desires.

The post goes on to list three “spins” they plan to have for Fedora 7’s April release: server, desktop and KDE. Presumably these would be 1-disc installation sets, with further packages downloaded over the network, rather than the 5-CD collection needed to install Fedora 6.

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