Saturday, February 25, 2012

Finance Group v Cox - Is there a positive outcome?

Jesse Jenike-Godshalk wrote a pursuasive piece that the Finance Group v Cox ruling was not as bad as it seemed on first blush. First, the judge ruled that opinion based blog posts are covered by the First Amendment.

the judge stated that blog posts, by their very nature, are usually “opinions” and not provable assertions of fact. Such “opinion posts” are protected under the First Amendment and are not actionable as defamation—regardless of whether the writer is “media.”

The Judge wrote that the:

Defendant fails to bring forth any evidence suggestive of her status as a journalist. For example, there is no evidence of
(1) any education in journalism;
(2) any credentials or proof of any affiliation with any recognized news entity;
(3) proof of adherence to journalistic standards such as editing, fact-checking, or disclosures of conflicts of interest;
(4) keeping notes of conversations and interviews conducted;
(5) mutual understanding or agreement of confidentiality between the defendant and his/her sources;
(6) creation of an independent product rather than assembling writings and postings of others;
or (7) contacting “the other side” to get both sides of a story. Without evidence of this nature, defendant is not “media.”

This is very interesting. Except for points 1 and 2 these are standards that any blogger can meet. It points to ways independent writers can protect themselves: keep your notes and do your own research.

There's a lot more. If you're interested in the case I highly recommend reading the article.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Take a Second to Review Google's Privacy Policy

Take a second and think about what you have searched for, where you have gone on line over the last few years. Google will soon combine all the information it has collected about you. EFF (The Electronic Frontier Foundaton) has an article describing the steps you can do to "erase" this history

On March 1st, Google will implement its new, unified privacy policy, which will affect data Google has collected on you prior to March 1st as well as data it collects on you in the future. Until now, your Google Web History (your Google searches and sites visited) was cordoned off from Google's other products. This protection was especially important because search data can reveal particularly sensitive information about you, including facts about your location, interests, age, sexual orientation, religion, health concerns, and more. If you want to keep Google from combining your Web History with the data they have gathered about you in their other products, such as YouTube or Google Plus, you may want to remove all items from your Web History and stop your Web History from being recorded in the future.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

An Interesting Read for Developers

I came across an interesting article/eBook, Essential JavaScript Design Patterns For Beginners [Hat Tip: Hacker News]

At the beginning of this book I will be focusing on a discussion about the importance and history of design patterns in any programming language. If you're already sold on or are familiar with this history, feel free to skip to the chapter 'What is a Pattern?' to continue reading.

One of the most important aspects of writing maintainable code is being able to notice the recurring themes in that code and optimize them. This is an area where knowledge of design patterns can prove invaluable.

It is well written. Worth the read if you're so interested.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Recording Memories - Will we see it in our lifetimes?

These scientists have succeeded in decoding electrical activity in the brain’s temporal lobe – the seat of the auditory system – as a person listens to normal conversation. Based on this correlation between sound and brain activity, they then were able to predict the words the person had heard solely from the temporal lobe activity.
Scientists decode brain waves to eavesdrop on what we hear

Hat Tip: Slashdot

This development is intriguing in several ways. In addition to helping people with a wide range of problems (stroke, Parkinson’s, ALS) communicate I see this as one of the first steps necessary to saving memories. If these thoughts can be expressed in 0s and 1s; if you can “read” words via recording synaptic transmissions can we “see,” and “hear” thoughts and memories? Will we be able to store “consciousness,” the “brain-in-a-jar” meme from B sci-fi movies? Will learning, whether facts, applications or physical activities be accelerated as depicted in The Matrix?

The answer, of course, is yes. We need to come to grips with what is coming down the pike. Even before “immortality” becomes an issue (the merging of the brain-in-a-jar meme with robotics) we will have to grasp more mundane issues such as police interrogations, legal proceedings, contracts, advertising, privacy from “hackers” and other issues we can’t conceive of at the moment.

As scary as this may be if we live in a police state – how exciting it is in other endeavors, such as medicine (from diagnosis to helping people who are disabled) and in the spread of knowledge. “Video” memories will be added to biographies, to scientific papers, and in personal records analogous to adding YouTube videos to a blog post or as the Pensieve from the Harry Potter stories.

[Edited 2/25/2012]

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Technological Change will Alter Old Ways of Doing Things

I usually don't comment on articles such as SocialNomics: 40+ Items Tech Will Kill this Digital Decade but I so disagree with so many of the points made that I feel compelled to comment.

Got called away. Will be back to complete this shortly.

Saturday, February 4, 2012

ACTA will Suffer the Same Fate as SOPA

It looks as if ACTA is going down. Poland has rescinded it's vote. ACTA is now all but officially dead within the EU. This, for all practical purposes, kills ACTA. How long until the US and others signers also rescind their votes?

Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk said
that his government had made insufficient consultations before signing the agreement in late January, and it was necessary to ensure it was entirely safe for Polish citizens.

Although it is technically a trade agreement, ACTA is effectively an international treaty aimed at criminalising copyright infringement and associated activities.


Poland has seen the biggest protests against ACTA, with thousands demonstrating on the streets last week. Hackers believed to be associated with Anonymous attacked Tusk's website, as well as the European Parliament site, after the signing.

Critics of ACTA say it has insufficient safeguards for online liberties, particularly in signing countries that do not already have strong principles of freedom of speech and expression. In addition, the agreement negotiations, which took place without the contributions of civic groups or elected representatives, have been widely described as undemocratic.

ZD Net

As of now Germany and The Netherlands (among 5 other countries) have refused to sign ACTA. It's difficult to see ACTA working without Germany and The Netherlands unless other countries are exerting considerable pressure on them. Considering that none of ACTA's 31 signatories have ratified the treaty it seems that ACTA will die a very public and ignomious death.

Now all we need is for the US to rescind their agreement as well.

EDIT 2/16/2012

The government of Bulgaria, which had already signed ACTA, announced that it would not seek ratification of the treaty.

ACTA dissed in Bulgaria, too