House panel approves copyright bill

I think this could best be characterized as moving in the exact wrong direction. We need to loosen copyright restrictions if we are to survive as a culture, not tighten them.

A House of Representatives panel approves a sweeping new copyright bill that would boost penalties for peer-to-peer piracy and increase federal police powers against Internet copyright infringement.

(link) [CNET]

00:00 /Copywrongs | 0 comments | permanent link

On Situated Software - Designing For The Few?

Very interesting piece on software design: to some extent, consultants (like yours truly) have been doing this for years: crafting very specific solutions for a limited set of customers.

Clay Shirky has published a thought-provoking (and long) essay discussing the concept of 'situated software', musing on changes in software development, from general systems catering to thousands towards applications 'form-fitted' to small, specific groups and particular social contexts.

(link) [Slashdot]

00:00 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

Revenge of the Killer Drones

I've noticed a lot of chatter about unmanned drone planes lately - and I find the whole concept intensely disturbing, for the exact same reason that proponents find the prospects of these weapons so alluring: they [apparently] save lives.

Were these types of robotic soliders to come into general use, it would, I believe have a tendancy to make war more politically palatable. Fewer body bags, fewer casualities, less mess. A "new and improved" tool in a diplomats bag of tricks. This is a dangerous thing.

Think about it: if a leader of a technologically advnaced country could launch an all out air (or eventually, ground) assult against a foe with no risk to the lives of his citizens, would not that make such an assault more of a first resort, rather than the final option considered in a diplomatic crisis? We've seen some of the effects of this already with the developement by the US of cruise missle technology: these drones simply expand on what has been started. The future of warfare is, apparently, a push button future.

Over the long term, I believe this will actually end up costing humanity in terms of lives lost to war and conflict, rather than reducing them. No strike is ever wholly "surgical" - there's always "collateral damage". And these drones and their earthbound descendents could send the arms race into a dangerous new sprial, ushering in an era of war by mechanical proxy.

Dangerous stuff, indeed.

Unmanned military aircraft have become valuable spying tools, but now the Pentagon wants them ready to shoot to kill as well. A combat-ready prototype will drop its first test bomb this week. Noah Shachtman reports from Arlington, Virginia.

(link) [Wired News]

00:00 /Technology | 0 comments | permanent link

Another ISP Goes Offshore

It seems as though AOL is following the lead of Earthlink in moving to India. I can't threaten never to return to their service, however, as I was never a customer of theirs. But I'll bet these guys (fellow coders) are happy about the situation:

AOL laid off 450 software developers in California in December and closed two offices in the state. This came months after it laid off 50 employees at its Mountain View-based Netscape Communications unit.

I just wonder if they'll change their name ...

U.S. Internet giant America Online, plagued by subscriber losses and American job cuts, is stepping into the software development market where many big companies come to save money: India.

(link) [CNN]

00:00 /Politics | 0 comments | permanent link