There are two significant points to make from these events. First, it is remarkable how media reactions to civil liberties assaults are shaped almost entirely by who the victims are. For years, the Obama administration has been engaged in pervasive spying on American Muslim communities and dissident groups. It demanded a reform-free renewal of the Patriot Act and the Fisa Amendments Act of 2008, both of which codify immense powers of warrantless eavesdropping, including ones that can be used against journalists. It has prosecuted double the number of whistleblowers under espionage statutes as all previous administrations combined, threatened to criminalize WikiLeaks, and abused Bradley Manning to the point that a formal UN investigation denounced his treatment as “cruel and inhuman”.
But, with a few noble exceptions, most major media outlets said little about any of this, except in those cases when they supported it. It took a direct and blatant attack on them for them to really get worked up, denounce these assaults, and acknowledge this administration’s true character. That is redolent of how the general public reacted with rage over privacy invasions only when new TSA airport searches targeted not just Muslims but themselves: what they perceive as “regular Americans”. Or how former Democratic Rep. Jane Harman – once the most vocal defender of Bush’s vast warrantless eavesdropping programs – suddenly began sounding like a shrill and outraged privacy advocate once it was revealed that her own conversations with Aipac representatives were recorded by the government.
Leave to the side how morally grotesque it is to oppose rights assaults only when they affect you. The pragmatic point is that it is vital to oppose such assaults in the first instance no matter who is targeted because such assaults, when unopposed, become institutionalized. Once that happens, they are impossible to stop when – as inevitably occurs – they expand beyond the group originally targeted. We should have been seeing this type of media outrage over the last four years as the Obama administration targeted non-media groups with these kinds of abuses (to say nothing of the conduct of the Bush administration before that). It shouldn’t take an attack on media outlets for them to start caring this much.
This format is flexible, it’s easy to implement, and Adobe, if you are listening you should really give SQLite a serious look. And if there are any other companies out there wanting to work on this- please get in touch with me (email@example.com). I’m not married to Acorn’s format or table names, but I think it would be a great start.
It’s 2013. Wouldn’t it be awesome if you could hand off a single layered file format to multiple image editors, and it would just work?
If you use Gmail, what happens if Google locks you out of your account permanently and without warning? (It happens.) What if they kill IMAP support and you rely on it? Or what if they simply start to suck otherwise? How easily can you move to a different email host? How much disruption will it cause in your workflow? Does your email address end in @gmail.com? What would have happened if we all switched to Wave? What happens if Facebook messages replace email for most people?
Proprietary monocultures are so harmful because they hinder or prevent you from moving away.
This is why it’s so important to keep as much of your data as possible in the most common, widespread, open-if-possible formats, in local files that you can move, copy, and back up yourself.3 And if you care about developing a long-lasting online audience or presence, you’re best served by owning your identity as much as possible.
Investing too heavily in someone else’s proprietary system for too long rarely ends gracefully, but when it bites us, we have nobody to blame but ourselves.
But out of all of the older games, she most enjoys playing Donkey Kong. Maybe it was because it was the first game we really played together, or the fact that she watched the King of Kong documentary with me one afternoon from start to finish. Maybe it’s because Mario looks just like her Grandpa. Whatever the case, we’ve been playing Donkey Kong together for a while. She’s not very good at it, but insists on playing it over and over again until she finally hands me the joystick in total frustration.
Finally, one day after work, she asked to play Donkey Kong, only this time she raised a pretty innocent and simple question: “How can I play as the girl? I want to save Mario!”
It made sense. We had just played Super Mario Bros. 2 on the NES a few days before, and she became obsessed with playing as Princess Toadstool. So to go back to Donkey Kong, I can see how natural it seemed to ask the question. I explained to her that Donkey Kong, while similar, is not the same game. On this occasion, I really could tell that she was disappointed. She really liked Donkey Kong, and really liked playing as Princess Toadstool. We left it at that and moved on.
But that question! It kept nagging at me. Kids ask parents all the time for things that just aren’t possible. But this time, this was different. I’m a game developer by day. I could do this.
Comencing immediately upon the 9/11 attack, the US government under two successive administrations has spent 12 straight years inventing and implementing new theories of government power in the name of Terrorism. Literally every year since 9/11 has ushered in increased authorities of exactly the type Americans are inculcated to believe only exist in those Other, Non-Free societies: ubiquitous surveillance, impenetrable secrecy, and the power to imprison and even kill without charges or due process. Even as the 9/11 attack recedes into the distant past, the US government still finds ways continuously to increase its powers in the name of Terrorism while virtually never relinquishing any of the power it acquires. So inexorable has this process been that the Obama administration has already exercised the power to target even its own citizens for execution far from any battlefield, and the process has now arrived at its inevitable destination: does this due-process-free execution power extend to US soil as well?
All of this has taken place with very little public backlash: especially over the last four years. Worse, it has prompted almost no institutional resistance from the structures designed to check executive abuses: courts, the media, and Congress. Last week’s 13-hour filibuster of John Brennan’s confirmation as CIA director by GOP Sen. Rand Paul was one of the first – and, from the perspective of media attention, easily among the most effective -Congressional efforts to dramatize and oppose just how radical these Terrorism-justified powers have become. For the first time since the 9/11 attack, even lowly cable news shows were forced – by the Paul filibuster – to extensively discuss the government’s extremist theories of power and to debate the need for checks and limits.
The primary means of mocking Paul’s concerns was to deride the notion that Obama is about to unleash drone attacks and death squads on US soil aimed at Americans. But nobody, including Paul, suggested that was the case. To focus on that attack is an absurd strawman, a deliberate distraction from the real issues, a total irrelevancy. That’s true for two primary reasons.
First, the reason this question matters so much – can the President target US citizens for assassination without due process on US soil? – is because it demonstrates just how radical the Obama administration’s theories of executive power are. Once you embrace the premises of everything they do in this area – we are a Nation at War; the entire globe is the battlefield; the president is vested with the unchecked power to use force against anyone he accuses of involvement with Terrorism – then there is no cogent, coherent way to say that the president lacks the power to assassinate even US citizens on US soil. That conclusion is the necessary, logical outcome of the premises that have been embraced. That’s why it is so vital to ask that.
To see how true that is, consider the fact that a US president – with very little backlash – has already asserted this very theory on US soil. In 2002, the US arrested a US citizen (Jose Padilla) on US soil (at the O’Hare International Airport in Chicago), and then imprisoned him for the next three-and-a-half years in a military brig without charges of any kind. The theory was that the president has the power to declare anyone (including a US citizen) to be an “enemy combatant” and then punish him as such no matter where he is found (including US soil), even if they are not engaged in any violence at the time they are targeted (as was true for Padilla, who was simply walking unarmed through the airport). Once you accept this framework – that this is a War; the Globe is the Battlefield; and the Commander-in-Chief is the Decider – then the President can treat even US citizens on US soil (part of the battlefield) as “enemy combatants”, and do anything he wants to them as such: imprison them without charges or order them killed.
“Ford is a leader in this space and they chose a strategic decision to move like Google did with Android and be as open as possible,” Mark Boyadjis, an analyst at IHS Automotive, told Wired. “Getting these systems embedded and perfected is not something that can be leveraged by Ford or their technology partner alone. This has to be an open environment.”
Even though more automakers are offering in-dash app platforms, there’s little incentive for developers to create specific apps for cars. Developing apps for the relatively limited number of vehicle platforms available – and having to re-code for each automaker’s platform – pales in comparison to creating even a decently successful app for Apple’s App Store or Google Play. It’s the classic chicken-and-egg dilemma, and why most automakers offer only a handful of generic apps like Pandora.
Ford is establishing an open-source Genivi project that will contain the code and documentation necessary to implement AppLink software into any vehicle’s infotainment system for iOS and Android devices. The code, known as SmartPhoneLink, will be released under a BSD open-source license.
“Developers will have access to the software code for the audio head unit and the set of APIs for the smartphone apps and can implement it in their own way,” says Doug VanDagens, global director of Ford Connected Services. “This announcement is about the vehicle-side software being agnostic … and can run on Windows Embedded, QNX, Linux or other automotive OS.” VanDagens added that the AppLink brand will only be used for Ford and Lincoln vehicles. “But when it comes to the end product,” Boyadjis notes, “there will be unique Ford elements that make it different or better.”
We are developing a next generation display server known as Mir. A system-level component targeted as a replacement for the X window server system to unlock next-generation user experiences for devices ranging from Linux desktop to mobile devices powered by Ubuntu. This document outlines the motivation for the project, describes the high level design, summarizes the scope, and provides the roadmap of the Mir display server.
The purpose of Mir is to enable the development of the next generation Unity.
Wow! And they’re converting the Unity code to QT/QML. Wow, just WOW! This is so much change for the Linux world that i don’t even know how what this could lead on to.
My guess is that Ubuntu will evolve into a “linux-based” System as different from present day Linux distros as Android already is. And, in my experience, that’s probably a good thing.
Current day Linux distros always suffered from a messed up, scattered approach to a modern home-user system when most of its developers were from the server side or hobbyists. The “professional” full-time developers dedicated to produce a fully usable, user-friendly system for “households” were pretty much a rarity and it noticed. Linux has been much better these last years but it’s still a good mile from its competitors Windows or Mac in many aspects. Ubuntu has been a spearhead into attacking this faults, even if sometimes they seriously messed things up.
Also, if you didn’t try recent Ubuntu versions, do so. It’s a very interesting experience and as much “mac-like” as you can get without it being a Mac.
Businesses also have a responsibility to protect customers. As one contributor said, the term “identity theft” is now commonplace to describe what happens when a fraudster manages to pose as someone else, whether online or in a financial transaction. How identity is verified sits at the heart of internet security. Could using a login from a big internet identity such as Facebook or Google to access other websites be the answer?
“You can use Facebook to log in to a bunch of things. I’ve never used it, though it pops up all the time, because intrinsically I don’t trust it, I don’t like it, I don’t think it is a good idea,” said one panel member.
It’s amazing that such obvious statement had to come from a “security guru” in a security roundtable for people pay notice to it. You really shouldn’t use Facebook in the first place but if you do, don’t allow any other site or app to have access to it and don’t use it as some sort of universal key. You’re just inviting yourself to a lot of pain.
However instead of boarding her flight, Ibrahim found herself in handcuffs – detained by the San Francisco Police Department before being searched and locked in a holding cell by TSA agents without explanation as to the reason for her arrest. After being interrogated for several hours by the FBI it was revealed that she had been placed – for reasons not revealed to her – on a No-Fly list which prevented her from routinely boarding her flight. Despite this Ibrahim was cleared by the agents of being a security risk, assured there would be no future problems, and allowed to board a flight for Malaysia the following day.
However upon attempting to return to the United States after her trip, Ibrahim found herself again detained and prevented from boarding her flight by local authorities who had received instructions from the US Consulate that she was to be barred from returning home.
It has now been eight years and Ibrahim has still not been allowed to return to the United States, banished based on secret evidence which she is unable to view let alone contest and trapped in a Kafkaesque legal limbo which has made her an effective exile from the country.
As shocking as Ibrahim’s situation is, it is not unique; over the past decade there have been countless documented cases of individuals who have suddenly found themselves permanently stranded abroad after being banned from the United States despite holding legal residency and/or citizenship in the country.
Take the Clinton doctrine. The Clinton doctrine was that the United States is entitled to resort to unilateral force to ensure “uninhibited access to key markets, energy supplies, and strategic resources”. That goes beyond anything that George W Bush said. But it was quiet and it wasn’t arrogant and abrasive, so it didn’t cause much of an uproar. The belief in that entitlement continues right to the present. It’s also part of the intellectual culture.
Right after the assassination of Osama bin Laden, amid all the cheers and applause, there were a few critical comments questioning the legality of the act. Centuries ago, there used to be something called presumption of innocence. If you apprehend a suspect, he’s a suspect until proven guilty. He should be brought to trial. It’s a core part of American law. You can trace it back to Magna Carta.
So there were a couple of voices saying maybe we shouldn’t throw out the whole basis of Anglo-American law. That led to a lot of very angry and infuriated reactions, but the most interesting ones were, as usual, on the left liberal end of the spectrum. Matthew Yglesias, a well-known and highly respected left liberal commentator, wrote an article in which he ridiculed these views. He said they’re “amazingly naive”, silly. Then he expressed the reason. He said that “one of the main functions of the international institutional order is precisely to legitimate the use of deadly military force by western powers”.
Of course, he didn’t mean Norway. He meant the United States. So the principle on which the international system is based is that the United States is entitled to use force at will. To talk about the United States violating international law or something like that is amazingly naive, completely silly. Incidentally, I was the target of those remarks, and I’m happy to confess my guilt. I do think that Magna Carta and international law are worth paying some attention to.
In the “web vs. apps” war, I think you can infer which side I’m on. I wouldn’t download a BBC app or an NPR app for my computer. Why would I want one on my phone? Do I buy a separate radio to listen to different stations? No. The functionality is the same, the only thing that differs is the content. Apps ought to provide some actual functionality, not just blobs of content wrapped up in binary files.
The worst thing in this fashion i’ve encountered was the Haaretz iPad app. Not only it provided you a worst visual design than the site, but it keep bothering me for a paid subscription and not allowing me to read news that were freely available on the website. I’m sure there’s some hidden wisdom on this sort of behaviour but i fail to see it.
It’s Courier, just better.
Since the beginning, screenplays have been written in Courier. Its uniformity allows filmmakers to make handy comparisons and estimates, such as 1 page = 1 minute of screen time.
But there’s no reason Courier has to look terrible. We set out to make the best damn Courier ever.
We call it Courier Prime.
A freely downloadable redesign of Courier. I actually never used Courier because i always found it quite ugly, but i’ll try this font the next time i have to write something that requires this graphic appearance.
FV: Document syncing is indeed another subject I wanted to touch upon. You’ve written (and talked) about how you use Dropbox to manage files, but you obviously covered the new iCloud document storage in your Mountain Lion review. You mentioned how “segregating” document storage by application won’t likely surprise users accustomed to the iOS model. More than a year after the launch of iCloud on iOS, do you believe a unification of document storage is something Apple should consider for iOS 7? Where would you draw the line between consistency and frustration caused by having documents separated by app, only “connected” by an “Open In” menu?
JS: I’m not sure the problem can be solved by simply improving communication between silos, but if Apple doesn’t do something, Dropbox will continue to eat its document-syncing lunch. It would be nice if the model Apple came up with for iCloud document management solved most people’s problems, but it doesn’t.
Dropbox is obviously tailored to people who already understand files and folders. It’s tempting to view it as a “nerd solution,” with Apple on the side of the novice users. Philosophically, I think that’s true. But practically speaking, even expert users often find themselves stumped by iCloud document sharing across iOS and OS X. Unfortunately for Apple, Share Happens™ for experts and novices alike. And when it does, iCloud is nobody’s friend.
Precisely! And you can add to that exact argument, Versions and the iCloud as default save location in Lion and Mountain Lion.
Something that was meant to be for a “virgin” user, that never actually existed, and for whom there will always be moments where his computing needs and workflow increases; and then, Apple’s current approach won’t just work and it will be an additional challenge for him. An useless additional challenge.
I recall the Oracle from “The Matrix” movies, and for anyone that perpetually tries to change this well established analogies and workflows, first think if the current model is so broken as you think; second, some day someone might come and devise a brilliant new system, but you’re not that someone.
If you saw the Matrix movies, you know Neo was actually the One. The purpose of the Oracle was to provide an additional mental barrier for Neo, if he was in deed the real One, he would overcome it just by being sure of himself. The same that thing should make most companies think and reflect if they need to drastically change the workflow of their clients (without any option!!) for something that, although not perfect, has been working really well the last decades. And on a basis that every schools in most countries teach students on to work on it!
Worse, while we citizens can go to prison for unwittingly breaking laws of which we weren’t aware, prosecutors and law enforcement officers who wrongly arrest, charge, and try citizens based on a misunderstanding of the law generally face no sanction or repercussions. Under the doctrine of qualified immunity, a police officer who illegally arrests someone because he wasn’t aware of the law can only be held liable if the law in question was “clearly established” at the time he violated it. Prosecutors are protected by absolute immunity, which basically shields them from liability no matter how egregious their mistakes.
We need to move away from the idea that every act we find immoral, repugnant, or unsavory needs to be criminalized. Every new criminal law gives prosecutors more power. Once we have so many laws that it’s likely we’re all breaking at least one of them, the prosecutor’s job is no longer about enforcing the laws, but about choosing which laws to enforce. It’s then a short slide to the next step: Choosing what people need to be made into criminals, then simply picking the laws necessary to make that happen.
The biggest difficulty for Brown, as tutor to a machine, hasn’t been making Watson know more but making it understand subtlety, especially slang. “As humans, we don’t realize just how ambiguous our communication is,” he says.
Case in point: Two years ago, Brown attempted to teach Watson the Urban Dictionary. The popular website contains definitions for terms ranging from Internet abbreviations like OMG, short for “Oh, my God,” to slang such as “hot mess.”
But Watson couldn’t distinguish between polite language and profanity — which the Urban Dictionary is full of. Watson picked up some bad habits from reading Wikipedia as well. In tests it even used the word “bullshit” in an answer to a researcher’s query.
Why Samsung Androids? Because right now they’re the cheapest phones in their segments. To put it mildly, economy of scale applies to the Android device market — and the absence of any royalty payments for the OS is a nice extra. Operators make more money by selling their clients Androids than on iPhones, BlackBerries, Nokias, and all the rest.
Thus, once consumers arrive in the operator store the clerks efficiently steer them toward the Samsung Androids that make everybody most money. (Unless the consumer demands an iPhone, of course. That short-circuits the plan.)
Many consumers don’t particularly want to surf on their phones, because they don’t see the point and they think it’ll cost them a lot of money (and, especially in the developing world, they are likely right). A friend of mine, who recently got a mid-range Samsung Android with his new contract, explicitly asked me to turn off his Internet access because of the cost.
What I think is happening is that consumers who in the past would have been happy with a mid-range Nokia are now buying mid-range Androids. They don’t really care what kind of phone they have, so they’re willing to take a Galaxy, especially if it’s “free.” But they won’t surf. That’s too expensive.
However, this Court is constrained by law, and under the law, I can only conclude that the Government [...] cannot be compelled by this court of law to explain in detail the reasons why its actions do not violate the Constitution and laws of the United States. The Alice-in-Wonderland nature of this pronouncement is not lost on me; but after careful and extensive consideration, I find myself stuck in a paradoxical situation in which I cannot solve a problem because of contradictory constraints and rules — a veritable Catch-22. I can find no way around the thicket of laws and precedents that effectively allow the Executive Branch of our Government to proclaim as perfectly lawful certain actions that seem on their face incompatible with our Constitution and laws, while keeping the reasons for their conclusion a secret. But under the law as I understand it to have developed, the Government’s motion for summary judgment must be granted, and the cross-motions by the ACLU and the Times denied.
We’ve sometimes referred to the Netflix software architecture in AWS as our Rambo Architecture. Each system has to be able to succeed, no matter what, even all on its own. We’re designing each distributed system to expect and tolerate failure from other systems on which it depends.
If our recommendations system is down, we degrade the quality of our responses to our customers, but we still respond. We’ll show popular titles instead of personalized picks. If our search system is intolerably slow, streaming should still work perfectly fine.
One of the first systems our engineers built in AWS is called the Chaos Monkey. The Chaos Monkey’s job is to randomly kill instances and services within our architecture. If we aren’t constantly testing our ability to succeed despite failure, then it isn’t likely to work when it matters most – in the event of an unexpected outage.
Which, let’s face it, seems like insane advice at first glance. I’m not sure many companies even understand why this would be a good idea, much less have the guts to attempt it. Raise your hand if where you work, someone deployed a daemon or service that randomly kills servers and processes in your server farm.
Now raise your other hand if that person is still employed by your company.
Who in their right mind would willingly choose to work with a Chaos Monkey?