Archive for the 'quickies' Category

TV is too passive.

Monday, April 28th, 2008

Nice article by Clay Shirky: Gin, Television, and Social Surplus discussing the similar social roles of gin and TV, and how we’re at the start of a big social change from passive to active:

In this same conversation with the TV producer I was talking about World of Warcraft guilds, and as I was talking, I could sort of see what she was thinking: “Losers. Grown men sitting in their basement pretending to be elves.”

At least they’re doing something.

Linux Kernel Development – Who, what, how fast, and who’s paying.

Wednesday, April 2nd, 2008

Nice report from The Linux Foundation on Linux Kernel Development. A choice statistic:

…an impressive 3,621 lines added, 1,550 lines removed, and 1,425 lines changed every day for the past 2 1/2 years. That rate of change is larger than any other public software project of any size.

Photoshop on the web

Friday, March 28th, 2008

Adobe have released a Flash-based photo editing site Photoshop Express. The functionality is limited, and similar to other products like Picnik. Will probably be useful for casual snappers, but isn’t going to replace Photoshop or the GIMP.

Linux pretending to be Windows

Monday, March 17th, 2008

My housemate has user account on my Ubuntu laptop, which she mainly uses for browsing the web. Last night I noticed that the online poker game she was playing wasn’t browser-based, but an MS Windows application.

This made me a little nervous at first, as I believe those sort of downloads are a major vector for malware, but as a) the site looked reasonably respectable, and b) I suspect that running Windows malware in an unprivileged account in Linux is less dangerous than running it on Windows – I figure it was probably safe.

But how was this Windows poker program running on Linux in the first place? I had already installed WINE, a Windows compatibility layer, to try and run Populous: The Beginning, and when my housemate downloaded and ran the installer program, it Just Worked – she hadn’t even realized anything special had happened.

Getting Populous to run hasn’t been so easy (I’m still working on it), but well done to everyone at the WINE project for a great system!

U.S. to hunt terrorists in WoW (maybe)

Thursday, March 13th, 2008

Via Schneier: The terrorism-obsessed U.S. is running project Reynarda study of massive multiplayer online games looking for “baseline normative behaviors” with the intent to “determine the feasibility of automatically detecting suspicious behavior and actions in the virtual world”.

Terrorism aside, the research is unclassified – so it might be possible to see their results eventually.

Take study groups online and they become cheating, apparently…

Friday, March 7th, 2008 reports on a student facing disciplinary action for running a Facebook study group. Sounds like the institution took a dislike to normal study behavior just because it was happening online.

Lying and telling tales

Wednesday, March 5th, 2008

“Kids lie early, often, and for all sorts of reasons—to avoid punishment, to bond with friends, to gain a sense of control. But now there’s a singular theory for one way this habit develops: They are just copying their parents.”

Really interesting article in the New York magazine: Learning to Lie.

Copyright infringement is different from theft

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

Although the media industries like to confuse copyright infringement with theft*, it’s not the same thing. The Los Angeles Times has a nice article covering the subject: File ‘sharing’ or ‘stealing’?.

* For instance, the annoying would you steal… trailers, at the start of DVDs.
Whilst on the subject, the fact that you cant skip these messages about not viewing the DVD on an oil rig, etc. is a fine example of DRM – which should be enough reason for anyone to conclude that DRM is a Bad Thing.

Even hard drive encryption can be defeated

Friday, February 22nd, 2008

If an attacker has physical access to a computer, then there is no way to secure its data against him: New Research Result: Cold Boot Attacks on Disk Encryption (via Schneier).

Creating mashups involves real work

Monday, February 11th, 2008

A nice article at The Register relating the complexity in building mashups that is sometimes forgotten.