Thursday, March 31, 2011

Software patents are dumb

I knew there were problems with software patents, but this article outlines just how bad it is. In the software industry, standard practice is to break the law. Because there are thousands of bad patents out there, so you can't help but violate them. And the big companies are collaborating with the patent trolls instead of fighting them. At least the EFF is fighting back, but it's an uphill battle.

On the negative side, Halliburton actually filed a patent on how to create a company to make money filing stupid patents. Bastards.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Quark - German sour cream

In german class, I learned about Quark, a dairy product. Our teacher couldn't explain what it is. Is it cheese? No. Is it yogurt? No.

My lovely wife got me some for my birthday. It's sort of like sour cream, and sort of like ricotta cheese. Tangy, sour and granular.

Another mystery solved. Now if only I can taste some marsh mallow. Apparently the Egyptians used it as a tea.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Music video I've been trying to remember for months

I'm sure no one else cares about this, but this video from the 90s of 3 kids in a school play has been in the back of my head for months. Thanks to NPR, I finally remembered it.

And the Weird Al version.

Monday, March 28, 2011

Google Books settlement rejected by judge

I don't know how I feel about the judge rejecting the Google Books settlement. The settlement proposed had a lot to be concerned about, with publishers attacking the public domain, with Google profiting exclusively from the public domain, and not allowing old books to enter the public domain.

I guess it's a case of wait and see. Google and the publishers could make good changes to the settlement. The judge certainly criticizes the bad parts of the agreement. Hopefully this is good news.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

History of Memory

Amazing article in the New York Times about memorizing vast amounts of material. In particular, I was fascinated to know that the Romans wrote a book about memorizing, back in the day when memorizing was an important skill since books were rare and labor-intensive.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Apple censorship - who do you choose?

Apple's App Store chooses what content to approve and what not to approve. They're a private company, so they have that right. Although their choice to disapprove political satire until they were called on it was questionable.

But now they face further difficulties in deciding what to approve and what to reject. Apple approved an app by a group that tries to turn gay people straight. Then thousands objected. Now the app has been removed. Apple has tried to market itself as the Disney of computers, offering a safe space for families to play with computers, specifically not allowing porn. (Except for Sports Illustrated...) They are trying to be everything to everyone, and had to choose between their Christian market and the gay rights market. I'm glad they chose the latter, but it's the sort of choice you end up making when you approve and disapprove content.

Like the choice of whether to host apps that help drivers avoid police checkpoints. The US Senate called on Apple to remove all such apps, saying they encourage drunk driving. The 3rd party developers who write those apps argue that they discourage drunk driving, but that's what they're going to say in front of senators. I think I should be allowed to take a photo of a police officer, even post it with geotags that show when and where I took it. It seems like someone should be allowed to collate that information to see where police are and aren't, but you can definitely see why criminals would find that information useful. (Although when the app developers are collating information made public by police departments on their websites, I'm a little confused why the police are complaining about the extra dissemination.)

Friday, March 25, 2011

Sony suing its customers

Sony has quite a history of suing its customers. Which is unfortunate because part of their work is creating cool technology that enables creativity.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Rich people have ALL the money

This was always true, but it's gotten way more true over the last 30 years. When rich people complain about class warfare, I think it's because they like winning and don't want that to stop.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Hacking wi-fi easier than ever

Wireless internet has never been secure. When you go to a website on a wireless connection, your password (for email, facebook, whatever) has theoretically been available for anyone nearby to detect.

But it just got a lot easier. Hackers released software that makes it easy for anyone to spy on internet communication and pick up passwords. Luckily, a password protected wireless connection is secure, and a website that uses encryption is also protected.

But a lot of websites aren't.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Archie: The Movie

Thank you Vancouver, Canada. Thank you for your cinematic hilarity.