By any measure, the rise of open source software as an alternative to the old proprietary ways has been remarkable. Today, there are tens of millions of libraries hosted at GitHub alone, and the number of major projects is growing rapidly. As of this writing the Apache Software Foundationhosts over 300 projects, while the Linux Foundation supports over 60. Meanwhile, the more narrowly-focused OpenStack Foundation boasts 60,000 members living in more than 180 countries.
The Supreme Court issued an opinion today that restricts the ability of patent owners to choose the court in which they bring an infringement suit. The case is called TC Heartland LLC v. Kraft Food Group Banks LLC, and the justices unanimously ruled in favor of the new restrictions.
Several months ago, I called on France to learn from America’s mistakes. I told the French that it wasn’t too late to save themselves. They still had a chance to do what we could not – to vote a xenophobic, nationalist candidate out of the race and away from the presidency (though, in their case, Donald Trump is replaced by Marine Le Pen, leader of the far right party, le Front national). I warned them of the complacency felt by so many Americans in the days before November 8, of the voice in their heads that said it was okay to stay home on election day. The voice that said your vote doesn’t matter, or that it’s okay to cast a vote to show that you’re fed up with the status quo, a vote for a candidate you never expect to win. The voice that yawns and says, ‘Well, it can’t happen here.’
On Monday, Google announced a new program intended to create an expanding umbrella of protection over its Android operating system and Google Applications pre-installed on devices that meet Android's compatibility requirements. Whether the new initiative will provide such protection, or represents only a “feel good” PR opportunity remains to be seen. If history and what’s visible so far are any indication, the odds tip towards the latter.
Along with death and taxes, two things appear inevitable. The first is that wireless connectivity will not only be built into everything we can imagine, but into everything we can't as well. The second is that those devices will have wholly inadequate security, if they have any security at all. Even with strong defenses, there is the likelihood that governmental agencies will gain covert access to IoT devices anyway.
Donald Trump’s escalating attacks on the press should alarm anyone who believes that a free press is essential to the maintenance of freedom and the avoidance of tyranny. That’s what the authors of the Constitution believed, a document Trump pledged on inauguration day to “preserve, protect, and defend.”
Trump’s accusations of falsehood in journalism are particularly dangerous because they invite those sympathetic to the president’s cause to accept his manufactured version of reality and reject accurately reported events and statements. This is a tactic from a very old playbook, and we don’t need to look very far back in history to see where that strategy can lead.
The drama of President Trump’s ban on immigration played out on multiple levels this past week; legal, as multiple courts weighed in, culminating in one granting an injunction that put the ban temporarily on hold; politically, as protesters clogged city streets at home and abroad; and factually, as the slap-dash way in which the order was implemented became increasingly clear. And then, of course, there were the absurdist moments, as when Trump tweeted about the “so called judge” who stayed the ban, perhaps unaware that the judge’s initial order was only a first step – the same jurist this week will listen to the administration’s lawyers attempt to justify the ban before he rules whether to make the stay permanent.
When standards developed by the private sector become laws, should anyone be able to download a copy for free? At first blush, the answer seems too obvious to debate. But yesterday, a U.S. district court held otherwise, saying that the developer of a standard that has been “incorporated by reference” (IBR) into a law continues to have the right to enforce its copyright. It also confirmed the right to charge a reasonable fee for an IBR standard.
The ruling (subject to appeal) is less surprising when it is reviewed in detail.
Last Friday, America gave notice that it will reject many of the refugees most in need of its protection. At the same time, it turned its back on its founding principles and denied the reality of its own history.
When the Trump administration, by Executive Order, shut the door on travel from seven predominantly Islamic countries – some of them our allies – it also put political expediency before actual danger. At most, it fulfilled a campaign promise that was spurious on its face, because refugee vetting procedures already in place are more than adequate to address security concerns.
With the change in administrations, I’ve decided it’s time to revive a series of essays I began posting in 2007. I’ve duplicated the text of that first blog entry below. Sadly, the concerns and moral imperatives I described then are as relevant and urgent now as they were ten years ago.
My goal in these essays will be to lean neither to the right nor the left, but rather to present and analyze issues in a neutral and proactive fashion. If that's an approach that appeals to you, I hope you'll join in the dialogue using comments field below, or by sharing these posts with your friends.