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GUI

How To Fix the Poor Usability of Free Software 690

flosofl writes "Matthew Paul Thomas has an entry on his blog called Why Free Software Has Poor Usability, And How To Improve It. While this advice is helpful and may indeed lead to improvements in many open source programs, the guidelines may be much more difficult for smaller projects. From the entry, 'Free Software has a long and healthy tradition of "show me the code." But when someone points out a usability issue, this tradition turns into "patches welcome," which is unhelpful since most designers aren't programmers. And it's not obvious how else usability specialists should help out.'" Thomas has been developing the ideas in this essay for years. The critique is comprehensive, listing 15 challenges in the way software projects, and in particular free software projects, are structured, with suggestions for improving each one.
Privacy

Face-Swapping Software To Protect Privacy 85

(0d0 writes "Some researchers at Columbia University's Computer Vision Labratory have developed software to automatically replace faces in batches of photos. Practical applications include protecting the identities of people in Google's Street View, coupling it with a digital camera's burst mode to create a perfect group photo, or protecting the identities of witnesses or law enforcement and military personnel. Other links to coverage include Boing Boing, American Public Media, and New Scientist."
The Courts

User Charged With Felony For Using Fake Name On MySpace 931

Recently a user, Lori Drew, was charged with a felony for the heinous crime of pretending to be someone else on the Internet. Using the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act, Lori was charged for signing up for MySpace using a fake name. "The access to MySpace was unauthorized because using a fake name violated the terms of service. The information from a "protected computer" was the profiles of other MySpace users. If this is found to be a valid interpretation of the law, it's really quite frightening. If you violate the Terms of Service of a website, you can be charged with hacking. That's an astounding concept. Does this mean that everyone who uses Bugmenot could be prosecuted? Also, this isn't a minor crime, it's a felony punishable by up to 5 years imprisonment per count. In Drew's case she was charged with three counts for accessing MySpace on three different occasions."
The Almighty Buck

Close but no Cigar for Netflix Recommender System 114

Ponca City, We Love You writes "In October 2006, Netflix, the online movie rental service, announced that it would award $1 million to the first team to improve the accuracy of Netflix's movie recommendations by 10% based on personal preferences. Each contestant was given a set of data from which three million predictions were made about how certain users rated certain movies and Netflix compared that list with the actual ratings and generated a score for each team. More than 27,000 contestants from 161 countries submitted their entries and some got close, but not close enough. Today Netflix announced that it is awarding an annual progress prize of $50,000 to a group of researchers at AT&T Labs, who improved the current recommendation system by 8.43 percent but the $1 million grand prize is still up for grabs and a $50,000 progress prize will be awarded every year until the 10 percent goal is met. As part of the rules of the competition, the team was required to disclose their solution publicly. (pdf)"

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