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Journal Journal: Open-Source Briefing for Congressmen?

I was chatting with one of my elected representatives recently, and he asked me to give him some material to educate himself on the subject of Open Source Software and its variants. I immediately mentioned The Cathedral and the Bazaar and The Open-Source Definition, but after that I had to start scratching my head. I've been working with FOSS since the late 1980s, but I've never thought about explaining it to a politician. Any ideas on good magazine articles, introductory texts, or other basi

Submission + - OOXML's 662 New Year's Resolutions (robweir.com)

Rob Isn't Weird writes: "Microsoft has finally responded to the resolutions concerning OOXML. The only problem? The JTC1 NBs who are deciding OOXML's fate have to download 662 individual PDFs from a slow, password-protected server and many had trouble getting the password. Don't misunderstand the ECMA's intent, though. There would have been 662 OOXML files if they had wanted to make it hard for people to read and criticize the responses. Thanks to the Internet, other interested parties have put all 662 resolutions online in a searchable, taggable format and are requesting that everyone interested help examine them. That means you, Slashdot."
The Almighty Buck

Submission + - Who Are the Heavy Clickers? 3

Reservoir Hill writes: "While focusing on clicks makes a lot of sense in search advertising, since the audience has already been highly qualified by their search term and is "hand-raising" — announcing their interest in a particular product or service or activity — what about banner ads on Web pages where the audience is not in an active search-and-buy mode? Dave Morgan has an interesting post on his blog about research done analyzing behavioral and click data to determine who clicks on banner ads, and whether they are different than the Web population in general. Ninety-nine percent of Web users do not click on ads on a monthly basis. Of the 1% that do, most only click once a month. Less than two tenths of one percent click more often. That tiny percentage makes up the vast majority of banner ad clicks. Who are these "heavy clickers"? They are predominantly female, indexing at a rate almost double the male population. They are older. They are predominantly Midwesterners, with some concentrations in Mid-Atlantic States and in New England. Not surprisingly, they look at sweepstakes far more than any other kind of content. They are the same people that tend to open direct mail and love to talk to telemarketers. Morgan makes the point that focusing banner ad campaigns to optimize on clicks means skewing campaigns to optimize on middle-aged women from the Midwest."

Submission + - Former MS (now FF)Security Honcho: MS Hides Holes (mozilla.com) 1

theranjan writes: "When Jeff Jones, a Security Strategy Director at Microsoft, decided to compare Internet Explorer security vulnerabilities with those of Mozilla Firefox, and decided to publish his results showing that Internet Explorer was more secure, he perhaps forgot that the Head Security Strategist of Mozilla, Window Snyder, was a former MS employee, in fact the security lead for the Service pack of Windows XP and Server. In a rebuttal of the study, Window Snyder said that the number of vulnerabilities publicly acknowledged was just a "small subset" of all vulnerabilities fixed internally. The vulnerabilities found internally are fixed in service packs and major updates without public knowledge. This is probably one of the first times that we have confirmation from one of Microsoft's former workers that this practice is routinely followed in Microsoft. This also confirms that the studies performed or referenced by Microsoft touting itself as the safest Operating system, comparing the vulnerabilities between OSes, needs to be taken with bucketfuls of salt. Finally, Window speaks out against the practice of counting bugs,stating plainly that "If we as an industry would just acknowledge that counting bugs is useless then vendors could feel safe talking about what they are doing to protect users" and "Were not building fixes for our PR team, were building them for our users. Go ahead and count.""

Submission + - Football field-sized kite powers latest freighter (networkworld.com) 2

coondoggie writes: "A kite the size of a football field will provide most of the power for a German heavy freight ship set to launch in December. The Beluga shipping company that owns the 460-foot Beluga said it expects the kites to decrease fuel consumption by up to 50% in optimal cases as well as a cutback of the emission of greenhouse gases on sea by 10 to 20%. Interestingly, the ship will be hauling windmills from Esbjerg, Denmark to Houston, Texas. The company that makes the kite for the German transport, SkySails, has made kites for large yachts but is targeting commercial ships with new, larger kites. And it has the ambitious goal of equipping 1,500 ships with kites by 2015. http://www.networkworld.com/community/node/22225"

Submission + - The ACS's Hostility Toward Open Access Journals (the-scientist.com)

Beetle B. writes: "'An anonymous email that was circulated on October 10 calls into question the practices of the non-profit publishing giant, the American Chemical Society (ACS), which has long been under scrutiny. The Email, signed only by "ACS insider," was sent to college librarians, ACS administrators, and a science writing listserv. It said that the ACS is growing more corporate in structure and described how it manages the 36 chemical journals under its purview. Among other criticisms, the anonymous emailer wrote that the bonuses given to ACS executives are tied to the profits of the publishing division, and such bonuses explain why the society has had such a strong stance against open-access publishing.'

In 2005, the ACS opposed PubChem, an open access chemical compound database.

Slashdot has covered open access journals numerous times."


Submission + - Mixed news on Wiretapping from 9th Circuit USCoA

abb3w writes: The bad news: the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit has ruled that the Al-Haramain lawyers may not submit into evidence their recollections of the top secret document handed to them detailing the warrantless electronic scrutiny they received. "Once properly invoked and judicially blessed, the state secrets privilege is not a half-way proposition." The good news: they have declined to answer and directed the lower court to consider whether "FISA preempts the common law state secrets privilege" with respect to the underlying nature of the program itself... which also keeps alive hopes for the EFF and ACLU to make those responsible answer for their actions.

Coverage at CNET, the NYTimes, and elsewhere; PDF of ruling here.

Submission + - Open Source Mathematical Software

An anonymous reader writes: The American Mathematical society has an opinion piece about open source software vs propietary software used in mathematics. From the article : "Increasingly, proprietary software and the algorithms used are an essential part of mathematical proofs. To quote J. Neubüser, 'with this situation two of the most basic rules of conduct in mathematics are violated: In mathematics information is passed on free of charge and everything is laid open for checking.'"

Submission + - Universal Offers Classical, Jazz Catalog DRM-Free (gramophone.co.uk) 3

Mode_Locrian writes: Gramophone Magazine reports that Universal Classics and Jazz will be making its entire catalogue available for sale in DRM-free form. While Universal stresses that this will be a trial run, it certainly looks like a step in the right direction. Now, if only they'd offer downloads in formats other than mp3...

Submission + - LAPD Plans to "Map" Muslims

eggoeater writes: AP and others are reporting about the backlash to a plan by the LAPD's counterterrorism bureau to "map" Muslims in and around LA.
From the article:

The LAPD's counterterrorism bureau plans to identify Muslim enclaves in order to determine which might be likely to become isolated and susceptible to "violent, ideologically based extremism," said Deputy Chief Michael P. Downing on Thursday.
"We want to know where the Pakistanis, Iranians and Chechens are so we can reach out to those communities," said Downing, who heads the counterterrorism bureau.
Understandably, the ACLU and many Muslim organizations are upset over this, but amazingly one organization, the Muslim Public Affairs Council, has offered to work with the LAPD on the project. I'm sure the federal government wouldn't dream of using this data in conjunction with other projects to track, er, I mean "map" Muslims.

Submission + - Japanese Lunar Probe Returns First HDTV Video (www.jaxa.jp) 3

Riding with Robots writes: "The Kaguya probe, now in lunar orbit, has sent down the first footage of the moon's surface from its onboard high-definition TV camera. The Kaguya mission, which consists of a main orbiter and two smaller satellites in a 100-km-high, polar orbit, is slated to officialy begin its science phase in December."

Submission + - Scary New Book on Privacy (gwu.edu)

pasquafa writes: "Dan Solove earlier showed us why "I've Got Nothing to Hide" is a foolish reason to brush off privacy concerns. Now his book The Future of Reputation shows us that we've all got a lot to fear from new surveillance technologies. In past articles, Solove's done a great job advocating for individual rights against big data aggregators like Choicepoint, banks, and the government. His latest book breaks new ground because it focuses on a harder issue: how to deal with Web 2.0's swarm of privacy-invading individuals. When it comes to privacy, we may well be our own worst enemies. Against the tide of knee-jerk libertarianism, Solove demonstrates that there are some baseline norms that should govern the spread of personally identifiable information, gossip, and rumors. He even offers hope that the blogosphere can become a more fair, decent, and perhaps even public-minded place."

Use the Force, Luke.