Open Tech Today - Top Stories

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Porn Offers Old School Answers to Piracy

DRM and other embedded controls on digital content will never stop peer-to-peer copying and sharing on the Internet. The answer is an "old school" approach -- pioneered by radio, TV and the Grateful Dead -- live performances. And once again, the porn industry leads the way, proving that it remains the barometer for high-tech innovation and entrepreneurship.

But with the Internet, live shows are not limited by the reach of a radio signal or a loudspeaker, or the lousy picture quality that defines most online video today. The world is the audience. Broadband streaming of high-definition, live video is a winning business model online, and the porn industry is proving it with record revenues.

Forget the grainy, lousy 70,000 pixel videos that populate the Web today. Real high-def -- with resolutions of 1 million pixels and more -- is the killer app for online content. For now, that requires cutting edge hardware and fiber to deliver fast enough to feel live. But that will change.

Hopefully, it is a lesson that Viacom, CNN and other mainstream content creators will learn.

Categories: media, Internet

Wednesday, March 28, 2007

Blogging Gets a Presidential Endorsement

If the mark of a credible news source is the importance of the people who cite it, blogging just got a big endorsement -- from President Bush. In a speech on Wednesday, Bush cited a pair of Iraqi bloggers to support his argument that the US military surge in Iraq is making progress.

The bloggers are two Iraqi dentists who write an English-language blog, These bloggers, who have met President Bush in the Oval Office, are generally supportive of the US efforts in Iraq. But neither that nor your opinion on the Iraq (civil) war, diminishes the import of this. The President of the United States has cited a blog as a news source.

While some governments use bloggers as scapegoats, blogging has reached the top of the political mountain in the US.

Categories: blogging

Is Oregon Wobbling on Open Standards?

Oregon has yet another new bill before its legislature about open standards in government. Unfortunately, this one equivocates on the choice of document standards and may produce more confusion than uniformity and interoperability among agencies.

House Bill 2920 "[r]equires state agencies to disclose public records in electronic form in certain circumstances and, when practicable, in open formats for which freeware is available."

Not the clearest language. "Requires" "in certain circumstances" "when practicable"? Now that's language only a lawyer could love.

More importantly, the bill defines an open standard as:

"Free of legal or technical restrictions on the specification's use for encoding, displaying, reading, printing or storing information or data in electronic form."

AND ...

"Developed or updated by more than one independent software provider in a well- defined, inclusive process."

Three questions come to mind:

1. What "freeware" will exist for OOXML's implementation?

2. What "technical restrictions" exist in OOXML? It certainly is loaded with legacy specs to ensure backward compatibility with MS products, and I suspect that creates many technical barriers for its use with products by other software providers.

3. Is OOXML truly "developed and updated" by more than one independent software provider? Its progress through the EMCL and ISO processes is about approval of the standard, not really its development. Or am I wrong about that?

The good news? The bill gives the Secretary of State the authority to fix its built-in equivocation. The Secretary can issue rules setting a
preference among open formats to "encourage uniformity among state agencies where different open formats exist that serve the same purpose, shall prefer the open format for which the widest selection of freeware is available for use by the

Now who would win that competition?

A hearing on competing open standards bills is scheduled for next Tuesday, April 3rd at 1 p.m.

Categories: OpenStandards, Oregon

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

One Laptop per Millionaire

The difference between this

... and this ...

... is more than a few zeros.

Forget the $100 laptop per child.

A UK-based company Luvaglio is offering the world's first $1 million laptop. No, that is not a typo. And the company is being very secretive about it. Entering their website is by appointment only.

What does $1 million buy in a laptop? A 17-inch, special anti-glare, self-cleaning screen, 128GB hard drive, and ... wait for it ... a removable diamond power button that also serves as security identification.

One laptop per millionaire. As the Luvaglio website says, "We're not interested in 'mass production' or designing entry-level products ... or children." (OK, I added that last part)

Conspicuous consumption trumps social entrepreneurship? Maybe not.

Luvaglio is obviously targeting the other end of the Digital Divide -- the ultra rich who have been unable to join the Age of Computers.

Categories: OLPC, digitaldivide

Monday, March 26, 2007

Democracy Meets Open Standards in Texas

Tomorrow, an unusual thing will happen. Open standards -- for most a very technical and opaque matter -- will be the subject of a political hearing in Texas. State lawmakers will debate adoption of a technology policy for Texas in which open standards will have a central role.

Public comments (by Texas residents or anyone else, non-residents, even non-Americans) may be sent online here.

It will be a chance for lawmakers to hear about the value and importance of open standards -- to drive innovation, to ensure future access to public records, for cost savings and public control over vital IT infrastructure.

The hearings will be publicly webcast live.

Here is the link for the House hearing at 10:30AM.

And here for the Senate hearing at 1:30PM.

Categories: OpenStandards, Texas