22 Jul

The Word of Notch – On Patents

But there is no way in hell you can convince me that it’s beneficial for society to not share ideas. Ideas are free. They improve on old things, make them better, and this results in all of society being better. Sharing ideas is how we improve.

via The Word of Notch – On Patents. Notch (the guy who started Minecraft) has a really good piece on why patents are a bad idea. My opinion on patents has slowly changed from thinking that just software and business process patents to getting more convinced that patents in general are a bad idea.

19 Jan

TED.com – Defend our freedom to share (or why SOPA is a bad idea)

What does a bill like PIPA/SOPA mean to our shareable world? At the TED offices, Clay Shirky delivers a proper manifesto — a call to defend our freedom to create, discuss, link and share, rather than passively consume.

via TED.com – Defend our freedom to share (or why SOPA is a bad idea). Clay Shirky delivers a clear and cogent history and explanation of PIPA/SOPA, walking through both the intent and what the ramifications of the bill and how it changes the entire legal system under which websites operate. Shirky also makes the very real point that even if PIPA and SOPA are killed (as appears increasingly likely) a bill similar to them will be back.

19 Jan

Electronic Frontier Foundation – The Internet at its Best

Today, we watch in awe as the Internet rallies to fight dangerous blacklist legislation, the PROTECT-IP Act in the Senate and the Stop Online Piracy Act in the House. The originality, creativity, and magnitude of action we’re seeing represents exactly what these bills would harm most: the value of a vibrant and open Internet that fosters these activities.

As the day goes on, we will continue to update you on Twitter (@EFF) and in this space. In the meantime, here are some of today’s #SOPAblackout highlights. Thank these organizations for their participation and go here to make your voice heard!

via Electronic Frontier Foundation – The Internet at its Best. EFF highlights some of the largest sites that participated in the SOPA/PIPA blackout.

16 Jan

O’Reilly Radar – The President’s challenge

All I can think is: we gave you the Internet. We gave you the Web. We gave you MP3 and MP4. We gave you e-commerce, micropayments, PayPal, Netflix, iTunes, Amazon, the iPad, the iPhone, the laptop, 3G, wifi–hell, you can even get online while you’re on an AIRPLANE. What the hell more do you want from us?

Take the truck, the boat, the helicopter, that we’ve sent you. Don’t wait for the time machine, because we’re never going to invent something that returns you to 1965 when copying was hard and you could treat the customer’s convenience with contempt.

via O’Reilly Radar – The President’s challenge. Cory Doctorow has a wonderful saying “Copying is never going to get harder than it is now.” The idea that we’ll be able to go back in time and make it harder for people to get digital information/media/anything is just wrong. Businesses (hello entertainment industry) seems to ignore that fact time and time again. Businesses can either accept that getting media via the internet is getting easier and easier and try to make it simpler for consumers to get it legally or they will fail.

16 Jan

ArsTechnica – Wikipedia to join reddit in SOPA blackout Wednesday

Seeking to “send Washington a BIG message,” Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales has announced that the English version of Wikipedia will go dark on Wednesday to protest the Stop Online Piracy Act and Protect IP Act, anti-piracy bills now being considered by Congress.

“Student warning!” Wales tweeted on Monday. “Do your homework early. Wikipedia protesting bad law on Wednesday!”

He said the blackout, which is expected to last 24 hours, was a decision of the Wikipedia community.

via ArsTechnica – Wikipedia to join reddit in SOPA blackout Wednesday. I’ll also be posting a message to protest and inform people about PIPA and SOPA, though I imagine Wikipedia will have a much larger influence. Stop American Censorship is your one stop information portal to find out more about SOPA and PIPA and how these bills hurt the internet.

10 Nov

American Civil Liberties Union – It Was Close, But We Won: Viva Net Neutrality!

Today in the Senate there was a major win for freedom of speech and the Internet. In a largely partisan vote Senate Democrats defeated a resolution introduced by Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) which would have overturned the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) open Internet rules that are set to go into effect this month.

Though the FCC’s rules are not great, they do offer some protections for net neutrality on the wired Internet and overturning them would have been a huge setback for free speech on the web. During debate on the Senate floor yesterday supporters of the resolution railed against government regulation while opponents defended the rules saying they were necessary to maintain the openness and innovation that has allowed the Internet to thrive.

via American Civil Liberties Union – It Was Close, But We Won: Viva Net Neutrality!. Yeah for Net Neutrality, boo for my State Senator being the one who introduced this resolution.

29 Oct

GeekWire – Gates to students: Don’t try to be a billionaire, it’s overrated

Bill Gates made a rare appearance at the University of Washington this afternoon, talking about how qualitative and measurable advances in technology are coming together for major advances in the areas he cares most about these days, including education and efforts to help the poor people of the world.

But the appearance in the UW Computer Science & Engineering Department was most memorable for the question-and-answer session with students at the end — including one student who asked Gates for advice on how she could become rich like him.

“I can understand wanting to have millions of dollars, there’s a certain freedom, meaningful freedom, that comes with that. But once you get much beyond that, I have to tell you, it’s the same hamburger. Dick’s has not raised their prices enough,” he said, referring to the Seattle-area fast-food chain. “But being ambitious is good. You just have to pick what you enjoy doing.”

Here are notes from the presentation and the Q&A session with students, not verbatim quotes but a shorthand summary to convey what was said as accurately as possible on the fly. You’ll find lots of little gems sprinkled throughout, particularly in the Q&A session.

via GeekWire – Gates to students: Don’t try to be a billionaire, it’s overrated. Some really interesting stuff in here.

24 Sep

The White House – Direct the Patent Office to Cease Issuing Software Patents

The patent office’s original interpretation of software as language and therefor patentable is much closer to reality and more productive for innovation than it’s current practice of issuing software patents with no understanding of the patents being issued.

Under the patent office’s current activity, patents have been come a way to stifle innovation and prevent competition rather than supporting innovation and competitive markets. They’ve become a tool of antitrust employed by large companies against small ones.

To return sanity to the software industry – one of the few industries still going strong in America – direct the patent office to cease issuing software patents and to void all previously issued software patents.

via The White House – Direct the Patent Office to Cease Issuing Software Patents. Why haven’t you signed this petition?

16 Sep

Ars Technica – Newzbin2 builds block-averting measures into its software

Usenet index Newzbin2 claims to have built software that will defeat court-ordered ISP blocking tactics and allow users to access it as normal.

Following complaints from content companies back in July 2011, BT was forced to implement its child-porn blocking software to stop customers from accessing the website, which aggregates links to copyrighted content. At the time there were fears from charities that by using this technology to combat copyright infringement, it would divert more attention to making it easy to circumvent these blocks.

Those fears turn out to have been justified—it took coders less than two months to defeat the ban. Newzbin Client 1.0.0.127 has been released, which evades BT’s Cleanfeed technology by creating an encrypted session between the client and the Newzbin2 site. It also lets the user access the site through the TOR anonymity network, adding an extra layer of encryption.

via Ars Technica – Newzbin2 builds block-averting measures into its software. Every time someone tries to prevent information from being reached on the Internet someone else finds a way around it.

28 Aug

Universal Hub – Court says state law used to ban recording of police officers in public is unconstitutional

A Boston lawyer suing the city and police officers who arrested him for using his cell phone to record a drug arrest on the Common won a victory today when a federal appeals court said the officers could not claim "qualified immunity" because they were performing their job when they arrested him under a state law that bars audio recordings without the consent of both parties.

In its ruling, which lets Simon Glik continue his lawsuit, the US Court of Appeals for the First Circuit in Boston said the way Glik was arrested and his phone seized under a state wiretapping law violated his First and Fourth Amendment rights:

via Universal Hub – Court says state law used to ban recording of police officers in public is unconstitutional. I could not be happier with this ruling.