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Comment Re:Tower spy apps? (Score 1) 62

The problem with this is that in urban areas you'll encounter lots and lots of picocell towers, and these may vary over time. In short, with GSM/3G you're never really sure who you're connected to. Apparently the Chinese embassy in London has its own tower and uses it to gather info on any protestors outside.

Comment Re:subcontracting (Score 4, Informative) 125

The 'bad code written in India' mainly came from the SoC manufacturers who'd write the baseports and drivers, in my time they were Broadcom and ST-Ericsson. (The Raspberry Pi uses the same graphics hardware as the N8). They were so flaky you couldn't believe. And on top of that Nokia management expected the entire stack to be developed in parallel. It was unworkable, they'd release new Symbian environments a few times a day and if it worked you got lucky, if it didn't you just wasted 4 hours downloading Gigs of rubbish only to have to delete it and see if anyone else had a working env. There were other Nokia-proper teams in India but the code they wrote shouldn't have brought down a board and if it did there was usually a workaround. However due to the *appalling communication* within Nokia it was nigh-on impossible to find out what the workaround was, or even who to ask. We'd have to do test runs everyday yet the phones in development crashed constantly and unpredictably so you couldn't tell if it was your code causing the problem or something else. Managers demanded answers and ignored the truth. To be fair the whole system was so fucked there really was nothing that could have been done. The subcontractors that I knew of were Sasken and another I can't think of right now.

Comment Greg Maxwell's comments (Score 5, Interesting) 252

Here's the reason given in the archive for the theft/release: -----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE----- Hash: SHA1 This archive contains 18,592 scientific publications totaling 33GiB, all from Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society and which should be available to everyone at no cost, but most have previously only been made available at high prices through paywall gatekeepers like JSTOR. Limited access to the documents here is typically sold for $19 USD per article, though some of the older ones are available as cheaply as $8. Purchasing access to this collection one article at a time would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Also included is the basic factual metadata allowing you to locate works by title, author, or publication date, and a checksum file to allow you to check for corruption. ef8c02959e947d7f4e4699f399ade838431692d972661f145b782c2fa3ebcc6a sha256sum.txt I've had these files for a long time, but I've been afraid that if I published them I would be subject to unjust legal harassment by those who profit from controlling access to these works.
I now feel that I've been making the wrong decision.
On July 19th 2011, Aaron Swartz was criminally charged by the US Attorney General's office for, effectively, downloading too many academic papers from JSTOR.
Academic publishing is an odd system—the authors are not paid for their writing, nor are the peer reviewers (they're just more unpaid academics), and in some fields even the journal editors are unpaid. Sometimes the authors must even pay the publishers.
And yet scientific publications are some of the most outrageously expensive pieces of literature you can buy. In the past, the high access fees supported the costly mechanical reproduction of niche paper journals, but online distribution has mostly made this function obsolete.
As far as I can tell, the money paid for access today serves little significant purpose except to perpetuate dead business models. The "publish or perish" pressure in academia gives the authors an impossibly weak negotiating position, and the existing system has enormous inertia.
Those with the most power to change the system--the long-tenured luminary scholars whose works give legitimacy and prestige to the journals, rather than the other way around--are the least impacted by its failures. They are supported by institutions who invisibly provide access to all of the resources they need. And as the journals depend on them, they may ask for alterations to the standard contract without risking their career on the loss of a publication offer. Many don't even realize the extent to which academic work is inaccessible to the general public, nor do they realize what sort of work is being done outside universities that would benefit by it.
Large publishers are now able to purchase the political clout needed to abuse the narrow commercial scope of copyright protection, extending it to completely inapplicable areas: slavish reproductions of historic documents and art, for example, and exploiting the labors of unpaid scientists. They're even able to make the taxpayers pay for their attacks on free society by pursuing criminal prosecution (copyright has classically been a civil matter) and by burdening public institutions with outrageous subscription fees.
Copyright is a legal fiction representing a narrow compromise: we give up some of our natural right to exchange information in exchange for creating an economic incentive to author, so that we may all enjoy more works. When publishers abuse the system to prop up their existence, when they misrepresent the extent of copyright coverage, when they use threats of frivolous litigation to suppress the dissemination of publicly owned works, they are stealing from everyone else.
Several years ago I came into possession, through rather boring and lawful means, of a large collection of JSTOR documents.
These particular documents are the historic back archives of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society—a prestigious scientific journal with a history extending back to the 1600s.
The portion of the collection included in this archive, ones published prior to 1923 and therefore obviously in the public domain, total some 18,592 papers and 33 gigabytes of data.
The documents are part of the shared heritage of all mankind, and are rightfully in the public domain, but they are not available freely. Instead the articles are available at $19 each--for one month's viewing, by one person, on one computer. It's a steal. From you.
When I received these documents I had grand plans of uploading them to Wikipedia's sister site for reference works, Wikisource— where they could be tightly interlinked with Wikipedia, providing interesting historical context to the encyclopedia articles. For example, Uranus was discovered in 1781 by William Herschel; why not take a look at the paper where he originally disclosed his discovery? (Or one of the several follow on publications about its satellites, or the dozens of other papers he authored?)
But I soon found the reality of the situation to be less than appealing: publishing the documents freely was likely to bring frivolous litigation from the publishers.
As in many other cases, I could expect them to claim that their slavish reproduction—scanning the documents— created a new copyright interest. Or that distributing the documents complete with the trivial watermarks they added constituted unlawful copying of that mark. They might even pursue strawman criminal charges claiming that whoever obtained the files must have violated some kind of anti-hacking laws.
In my discreet inquiry, I was unable to find anyone willing to cover the potentially unbounded legal costs I risked, even though the only unlawful action here is the fraudulent misuse of copyright by JSTOR and the Royal Society to withhold access from the public to that which is legally and morally everyone's property.
In the meantime, and to great fanfare as part of their 350th anniversary, the RSOL opened up "free" access to their historic archives—but "free" only meant "with many odious terms", and access was limited to about 100 articles.
All too often journals, galleries, and museums are becoming not disseminators of knowledge—as their lofty mission statements suggest—but censors of knowledge, because censoring is the one thing they do better than the Internet does. Stewardship and curation are valuable functions, but their value is negative when there is only one steward and one curator, whose judgment reigns supreme as the final word on what everyone else sees and knows. If their recommendations have value they can be heeded without the coercive abuse of copyright to silence competition.
The liberal dissemination of knowledge is essential to scientific inquiry. More than in any other area, the application of restrictive copyright is inappropriate for academic works: there is no sticky question of how to pay authors or reviewers, as the publishers are already not paying them. And unlike 'mere' works of entertainment, liberal access to scientific work impacts the well-being of all mankind. Our continued survival may even depend on it.
If I can remove even one dollar of ill-gained income from a poisonous industry which acts to suppress scientific and historic understanding, then whatever personal cost I suffer will be justified—it will be one less dollar spent in the war against knowledge. One less dollar spent lobbying for laws that make downloading too many scientific papers a crime.
I had considered releasing this collection anonymously, but others pointed out that the obviously overzealous prosecutors of Aaron Swartz would probably accuse him of it and add it to their growing list of ridiculous charges. This didn't sit well with my conscience, and I generally believe that anything worth doing is worth attaching your name to.
I'm interested in hearing about any enjoyable discoveries or even useful applications which come of this archive.
- ---- Greg Maxwell - July 20th 2011 Bitcoin: 14csFEJHk3SYbkBmajyJ3ktpsd2TmwDEBb -----BEGIN PGP SIGNATURE----- Version: GnuPG v1.4.11 (GNU/Linux) iEYEARECAAYFAk4nlfwACgkQrIWTYrBBO/pK4QCfV/voN6IdZRU36Vy3xAedUMfz rJcAoNF4/QTdxYscvF2nklJdMzXFDwtF =YlVR -----END PGP SIGNATURE-----

Submission + - Flat lens focuses without distortion (

yahyamf writes: Applied physicists at the Harvard have created an ultrathin, flat lens that focuses light without the distortions of conventional lenses.

“Our flat lens opens up a new type of technology,” says principal investigator Federico Capasso. “We’re presenting a new way of making lenses. Instead of creating phase delays as light propagates through the thickness of the material, you can create an instantaneous phase shift right at the surface of the lens. It’s extremely exciting.”

Comment Re:Smartphone vs Feature phone (Score 2) 210

Symbian was designed by several phone manufacturers, there was no 'one-designer'. It's not unmaintainable at all, but it was difficult to write for as developers had to know about things uch as asynchronicity (you'd be surprised by how many can't get this right... every API in Symbian was asynchronous - it saved battery). As for S40, when I left Nokia they were considering a rewrite because expanding the platform became so difficult. What saved it was that it seemed to have a long-term group of developers who knew it inside out and they were mostly all in Denmark and Finland. Symbian OS was developed in London and then it spread out to India and China. Quality dropped.

Comment Re:v1 was bullshit too (Score 1) 101

IIRC, you have to encode the key, encode the parameter, append them with '&' and encode again, and then sort them, generate the signature, encode the signature key and the signature itself. Or something. Oh and the encoding routine is urlencode plus some extra characters so that has to be written from scratch too.

Comment Re:v1 was bullshit too (Score 1) 101

Hi Mark, thanks for replying. Do you not think it was a flaw to target a spec towards a specific language/architecture? Another thing that really pissed me off was the complete lack of help testing my implementation. I'd have given up far sooner if it hadn't been for this site:

Comment v1 was bullshit too (Score 2) 101

I tried to implement OAuth v1 on a mobile device. What a pain in the hole. And it all fell down once you had to get the user to fire up the browser to accept the request. There was no way (I could figure out) to handle the callback so instead it seems to have been implemented via a corporate server thereby defeating the whole purpose of it. The easiest to work with was DropBox. I never got what extra level of security sorting the parameters provided the signature would show up any tampering, it just means you gobble up memory unnecessarily.

Comment " They just couldn't let go of Symbian..." (Score 2) 105

I don't see what Symbian had to do with Meego. They were totally independent projects with Meego having a far higher level of secrecy. Symbian had its own developers and Meego had theirs. The problems with Symbian were several-fold: - High learning curve: chipset manufacturers didn't like it as they couldn't get decent developers. India didn't churn out Symbian developers. Their code was typically very buggy and due to low level nature of it buggy code in a driver could prevent any development in the higher levels from happening at the required pace due to development boards (early phone prototypes) freezing up with no way of diagnosing the problem easily; the baseports and higher level development were expected to be done simultaneously. Project deadlines constantly slipped (the N8 was late by about a year). A QEmu simulator was under development but ultimately abandoned for reasons I'm not too sure about. Code would be committed that wouldn't compile... basic shit. This would affect *every* developer as they'd waste several hours downloading the latest environment only to find it didn't work. - Underpowered hardware: It just wasn't up to the job, RAM was never enough. Use-case tear-down and reconstruction rarely worked (related to the point above) - Politics: Symbian was a cash-cow for years and every ladder-climbing manager wanted in. It soon became impossible to get a 'Yes' decision on anything, and if you weren't in Finland your opinion counted for little. It was unclear who was really in charge. - Symbian Signed: 3rd party developers were really shat on. Sure tools like Carbide were free (and fairly decent) but getting an app signed was a joke. I'm not sure how much of this applied to Meego development, I was under the impression they were given a free hand to do as they liked, but Politics definitely became an issue there too when it became clear the project had a future.

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