16 Nov

Adobe donates Flex to foundation in community-friendly exit strategy

Adobe and the Open Spoon Foundation are preparing to open up development of the Flex SDK. They plan to donate the technology to “an established open source foundation” so that the Flex community and other stakeholders can participate in developing future versions of the SDK.

Flex is a development framework for building conventional applications with Flash. It’s especially targeted at the enterprise space and has some specialized capabilities for creating data-driven software. The core components of Flex were released as open source under the Mozilla Public License in 2007.

Flex development, however, has always been directed solely by Adobe. The move to an open governance model will make the process more inclusive. Going forward, Adobe says that the Flex roadmap will be defined in the open by the project’s governing board. The group will include Adobe engineers, third-party Flex application developers, and representatives of companies that use and contribute to Flex.

via Adobe donates Flex to foundation in community-friendly exit strategy. First Adobe kills Mobile Flash and now Flex looks like it’s about to wither away.

14 Nov

Ars Technica – Apple launches iTunes Match: music hoarders need not apply

Apple has quietly released iTunes 10.5.1 to the public, which enables support for its iTunes Match service. The service allows syncing your music library to iCloud for easy remote access from other computers or iOS devices. But don’t get too excited just yet, as iTunes Match’s hard 25,000 track limit means those with extensive collections simply cannot take advantage of the service.

iTunes Match is a subscription-based iTunes library syncing service that works with iCloud. Unlike Amazon Cloud Player or Google Music services, iTunes Match can identify tracks in your library that are already part of the iTunes Store’s extensive library of music. Those tracks are immediately added to a user’s iTunes Match account by connecting to the 256kbps, DRM-free version on Apple’s servers. This is true even if you ripped the album yourself at lower bitrates using older versions of iTunes or other software.

The remaining tracks, up to 25,000 total, are then uploaded to iCloud. Any songs purchased directly from iTunes don’t count toward this limit, but if you have more than 25,000 tracks not purchased from iTunes in your library, the service simply refuses to let you sign up. Apple has yet to make any allowance for users with massive libraries to choose a subset of their music to upload—an unfortunate limitation in our view, since such avid listeners are among the most likely to consider paying the yearly $24.99 fee.

via Ars Technica – Apple launches iTunes Match: music hoarders need not apply. Seems like a great deal if you either have a lot of music that is in cruddy versions or are away from wherever most of your music is a lot. Neither of those is true for me.

08 Nov

Prop Store – Butter Cup Valley

It was the Spring of 1982. In the Southern California desert region known as Buttercup Valley, cameras were rolling on a film called BLUE HARVEST: HORROR BEYOND IMAGINATION. A SoCal science-fiction nut named Mike Davis had heard rumors about the production just having gotten under way. He and his pals decided to pack up some camping supplies and go check it out. This was the 1980s, a time when film productions were able to remain much more secretive than they do today, due in large part to the producers being able to stem the flow of information much more effectively in the absence of the internet. But just Earthling spies do their best work when boots are on the ground, so too would Mike Davis and his network of Bothan spies.

None of these Bothans died to bring us this information, but they did get sand everywhere imaginable (and unimaginable). The photography that follows is a never-before-published archive of private shots snapped on set during the filming of RETURN OF THE JEDI.

via Prop Store – Butter Cup Valley. Behind the scenes photos of Return of the Jedi, what more do you need to know?

24 Oct

TechCrunch – Creator Of Lisp, John McCarthy, Dead At 84

The creator of Lisp and arguably the father of modern artificial intelligence, John McCarthy, died last night. He studied mathematics with the famous John Nash at Princeton and, notably, held the first “computer-chess” match between scientists in the US and the USSR. He transmitted the moves by telegraph.

McCarthy believed AI should be interactive, allowing for a give and take similar to AI simulators like Eliza and, more recently, Siri. His own labs were run in an open, free-wheeling fashion, encouraging exploration and argument. He won the Turing Award from the Association for Computing Machinery in 1972 and the National Medal of Science in 1991.

He was born in 1927 in Boston and taught himself higher math using Caltech textbooks when his family moved to the area, allowing him to take advanced classes when he enrolled as a teenager. He received a Ph.D. from Princeton in 1951.

via TechCrunch – Creator Of Lisp, John McCarthy, Dead At 84. Reminded of what I wrote not even two weeks ago after Dennis Ritchie died, of how the innovators of Computer Science were mostly still alive and it became a little less true.

13 Oct

Tim Bray – Dennis Ritchie

It is impossible — absolutely impossible — to overstate the debt my profession owes to Dennis Ritchie. I’ve been living in a world he helped invent for over thirty years.

via Tim Bray – Dennis Ritchie. I remember in one of my early Computer Science courses, the professor mentioned that one of the great things about Computer Science is that the field is so young the people who invented the core theory are still alive. That became a little less true today.

02 Feb

The Big Picture – A harrowing, historic week in Egypt

They have been days of chants and chaos, bloodshed mixed with moments of breathtaking solidarity between the protesters and the soldiers sent to subdue them. The flame of social unrest that first flickered in Tunisia has spread to Egypt, culminating with the announcement Tuesday by President Hosni Mubarak that after three decades in power, he would not run for another term. The clashes left government buildings in ashes, stores ransacked, and an economy teetering. Cairo’s international airport teemed with Americans and other foreigners trying to flee; Egypt’s tourism industry froze. At Cairo’s Liberation Square, Mubarak’s announcement was met with jeers and calls for an immediate resignation. Pro-Mubarak forces struck back, attacking the protesters in waves. The country of 80 million, rich in history but bereft of personal freedoms, awaits the next stage. Collected here are images from the last week focusing inside Egypt. — Lloyd Young

via The Big Picture – A harrowing, historic week in Egypt. Some incredibly powerful images here of the Egyptian protests.

29 Jan

Salon.com – Why can’t we watch Al Jazeera?

Indeed, it’s nice to have world news at all. Since 2006, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Newsday, the Boston Globe and the Baltimore Sun have all closed their foreign bureaus. When news organizations do send reporters abroad, they are rarely able to move about freely. On December 19, 2007, the Pew Research Center’s Project for Excellence in Journalism released a survey of reporters working in Iraq that illustrated how removed our press corps is from the lives of the people they report on. Eighty-two percent of the reporters surveyed have minimal to no knowledge of Arabic, and 86 percent work within about three miles of the Green Zone. Perhaps because of these constraints, 62 percent of the surveyed reporters rated coverage of the lives of ordinary Iraqis as only fair to poor. In addition, though a major aspect of the “story” that is the Iraq war is the story of Iraqi terrorists and insurgents, 63 percent of journalists reported that access to insurgents was “nearly impossible.”

Compared to American news channels, AJE is remarkably staid. With bureaus on four continents, and reporters based in places such as the Cote d’Ivoire, Caracas, and Gaza, AJE’s news format tends to feature long-form, on-the-ground reporting, often by area natives. Aesthetically, the channel looks nothing like the sensory assault of Fox News or MSNBC, with their constantly updated tickers, red, white and blue graphics, and endless talking-head chatter. AJE runs one headline at a time on the bottom of the screen, and the font is small, so as not to distract from the newscast. Most images are from the field, and reporters tend to use voiceovers instead of stand-ups, so that the pieces end up being about the people and places that are being reported on, as opposed to the personality and appearance of the reporter or anchor.

On the day after the Pennsylvania primary, when U.S. cable news ran nearly nonstop coverage of the democratic race for president, AJE had reports on post-election violence in Zimbabwe and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s calls for an arms embargo on the south African nation, the resumption of fuel shipments from Israel to Palestine, General David Petraeus’s promotion, an elephant rampage in India, bombings in Mosul, Iraq, and a documentary program on the veterans of the Falklands War.

via Salon.com – Why can’t we watch Al Jazeera?. The first part is just sad, the second makes other cable news companies look pathetic in comparison. I also enjoyed the bit where AJE is accused of being to American. Pretty poignant considering Al Jazeera is the only news organization able to report on the Egypt protests.

24 Jan

The New Yorker – News Desk: Why Is Eric Schmidt Stepping Down at Google?

Was Eric Schmidt pushed or did he jump? Both. According to close advisors, the Google C.E.O. was upset a year ago when co-founder Larry Page sided with his founding partner, Sergey Brin, to withdraw censored searches from China. Schmidt did not hide his belief that Google should stay in the world’s largest consumer marketplace. It was an indication of the nature of the relationship Schmidt had with the founders that he—as Brian Cashman of the Yankees did this week—acknowledged that the decision was made above his head. He often joked that he provided “adult supervision,” and was never shy about interrupting the founders at meetings to crystallize a point. In the eleven interviews I conducted with him for my book on Google, he freely told anecdotes about the founders, sometimes making gentle fun of them, never seeming to look over his shoulder. Yet he always made clear that they were “geniuses” and he, in effect, was their manager. After a bumpy first couple of years after he joined Google as C.E.O. in 2001, they had developed a remarkable relationship. But also a weird one. How many successful organizations have a troika making decisions? Schmidt, according to associates, lost some energy and focus after losing the China decision. At the same time, Google was becoming defensive. All of their social-network efforts had faltered. Facebook had replaced them as the hot tech company, the place vital engineers wanted to work. Complaints about Google bureaucracy intensified. Governments around the world were lobbing grenades at Google over privacy, copyright, and size issues. The “don’t be evil” brand was getting tarnished, and the founders were restive. Schmidt started to think of departing. Nudged by a board-member friend and an outside advisor that he had to re-energize himself, he decided after Labor Day that he could reboot.

via The New Yorker – News Desk: Why Is Eric Schmidt Stepping Down at Google?. Typically when I’m posting to The New Yorker, I’m talking about how it’s a super long article with tons of detail and sources. This is super short article but man it details the entire story of Schmidt leaving Google as C.E.O. In all honesty this should be used as an example to journalism students everywhere.

09 Jan

BBC News – Giffords shooting: Suspect Jared Loughner charged

US authorities have charged a 22-year-old man over Saturday’s Arizona shooting in which a congresswoman was seriously wounded and six people died.

Federal prosecutors charged Jared Loughner with trying to assassinate Gabrielle Giffords, 40, and killing two other government officials.

Mr Loughner, who is due to appear in court, could face the death penalty.

Ms Giffords is in a critical condition after being shot in the head at a public meeting in Tucson, Arizona.

via BBC News – Giffords shooting: Suspect Jared Loughner charged. So the aftermath is 6 people dead, including a federal judge, and a nine year old girl, along with 14 injuries including Rep. Giffords. What a tragedy.