Monday you had a chance to ask Linus Torvalds any question you wanted. We sent him a dozen of the highest rated and below you'll see what he has to say about computers, programming, books, and copyrights. He also talks about what he would have done differently with Linux if he had to do it all over again. Hint: it rhymes with nothing.
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First time accepted submitter cpt kangarooski writes "While it's not a final victory in the long-running Google Books matter, the related case by the Authors' Guild against the universities working with Google in the digitization project has produced a ruling that their book scanning is a fair use. You can read the opinion here. This bodes well for Google's case, although note that this wasn't directly about them."
Following on the success of the various Humble Bundles for DRM-free video games, the organization has just launched its first Humble eBook Bundle. It includes Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow, Pump Six by Paolo Bacigalupi, Zoo City by Lauren Beukes, Invasion by Mercedes Lackey, Stranger Things Happen, and Magic for Beginners, both by Kelly Link. If you choose to pay more than the average (about $11 at this writing), you also get Old Man's War by John Scalzi, and Signal to Noise, by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean. The books are available in PDF, MOBI, and ePub formats, without DRM. As with all the Humble Bundles, you can choose how much you'd like to pay, and how the proceeds are split between any of the authors and/or among three charities.
Jafafa Hots writes "The Supreme Court is set to decide, in the case of Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, whether or not First Sale Doctrine applies to products made with parts sourced from outside the United States. If the Supreme Court upholds an appellate ruling, it would mean that the IP holders of anything you own that has been made in China, Japan or Europe, for example, would have to give you permission to sell it. Your old used CDs, cell phone, books, or that Ford truck with foreign parts? It may not be yours to sell unless you get explicit permission and presumably pay royalties. 'It would be absurd to say anything manufactured abroad can't be bought or sold here,' said Marvin Ammori, a First Amendment lawyer and Schwartz Fellow at the New American Foundation who specializes in technology issues."
another random user writes "Previously redacted documents presented in the Apple-Samsung case seem not to offer actual evidence that Samsung told its designers to copy the iPhone. Documents that have now been unredacted seem to show that there was never any 'copy apple' instruction. There was a push towards things that would be different, such as what is now seen in the Galaxy S3: 'Our biggest asset is our screen. It is very important that we make screen size bigger, and in the future mobile phones will absorb even the function of e-books.' Groklaw suggests, rather shockingly, that Apple's lawyers might have been a little selective in how they presented some of this evidence to the court, by picking little parts of it that offered a different shade of nuance."
First time accepted submitter dsjodin writes "There are only 19% females in Tolkien's works and the life expectancy of a Hobbit is 96.24 years. In January 2012 chemical engineering student Emil Johansson published a website with the hope for it to become a complete Middle-Earth genealogy. Now, ten months later, he has published some interesting numbers derived from the database of 923 characters. The site features a set of unique graphs helping us understand the world Tolkien described. Perhaps the most interesting ones are showing the decrease of the longevity of Men and the change in population of Middle-Earth throughout history. The latter was also recently published in the September edition of Wired Magazine."
hypnosec writes "Amazon's latest Kindle Paperwhite is now officially jailbroken, giving users the ability to do things like turn their eReaders into weather station displays, or connect serially to a Raspberry Pi. To jailbreak the Paperwhite, the user needs to copy a file over to the root directory of the e-Reader and restart the device. The Kindle Paperwhite jailbreak is based on a previously known hack used on the Kindle Touch."
On the anniversary of Steve Jobs' death, reader SternisheFan sends in a story from CNN about how the Apple co-founder's legacy has changed since then. "... in the 12 months since, as high-profile books have probed Jobs' life and career, that reputation has evolved somewhat. Nobody has questioned Jobs' seismic impact on computing and our communication culture. But as writers have documented Jobs' often callous, controlling personality, a fuller portrait of the mercurial Apple CEO has emerged. 'Everyone knows that Steve had his "rough" side. That's partially because he really did have a rough side and partially because the rough Steve was a better news story than the human Steve,' said Ken Segall, author of Insanely Simple: The Obsession That Drives Apple's Success.' ... In Steve Jobs, Isaacson crafted a compelling narrative of how Jobs' co-founded Apple with Steve Wozniak, got pushed out of the struggling company a decade later and then returned in the late 1990s to begin one of the most triumphant second acts in the annals of American business. But he also spent many pages chronicling the arrogant, cruel behavior of a complicated figure who could inspire people one minute and demean them the next. According to the book, Jobs would often berate employees whose work he didn't like. He was notoriously difficult to please and viewed people and products in black and white terms. They were either brilliant or 'sh-t.' 'Among Apple employees, I'd say his reputation hasn't changed one bit. If anything, it's probably grown because they've realized how central his contributions were,' Lashinsky said. 'History tends to forgive people's foibles and recognize their accomplishments. When Jobs died, he was compared to Edison and Henry Ford and to Disney. I don't know what his place will be in history 30, 40, 50 years from now. And one year is certainly not enough time (to judge).'" Apple has posted a tribute video on their homepage today.
redletterdave writes "After seven long years of litigation, Google Inc. and the Association of American Publishers have reached an agreement to settle over the search giant's book-scanning project, which will allow publishers to choose whether or not they want their books, journals and publications digitized by Google and accessed via its Google Library Project. The agreement, according to the two companies, acknowledges the rights and interests of copyright holders, so U.S. publishers can choose to remove their books and journals digitized by Google for its Library Project, or choose to keep their publications available. For those that keep their works online with Google, those publishers will be able to keep a digital copy for their own use and sell their publications via the Google Play marketplace." Also reported by Reuters, as carried by the Chicago Tribune, and the BBC.
Dr Herbert West writes "The phrase 'correlation does not imply causation' goes back to 1880 (according to Google Books). However, use of the phrase took off in the 1990s and 2000s, and is becoming a quick way to short-circuit certain kinds of arguments. In the late 19th century, British statistician Karl Pearson introduced a powerful idea in math: that a relationship between two variables could be characterized according to its strength and expressed in numbers. An exciting concept, but it raised a new issue: how to interpret the data in a way that is helpful, rather than misleading. When we mistake correlation for causation, we find a cause that isn't there, which is a problem. However, as science grows more powerful and government more technocratic, the stakes of correlation — of counterfeit relationships and bogus findings — grow larger."
theodp writes "Blogger Floopsy complains that he would love to RTFM, but can't do so if no one will WTFM. 'You spend hours, days, months, perhaps years refining your masterpiece,' Floopsy laments to creators of otherwise excellent programming language, framework, and projects. 'It is an expression of your life's work, heart and soul. Why, then, would you shortchange yourself by providing poor or no documentation for the rest of us?' One problem with new program languages, a wise CS instructor of mine noted in the early look-Ma-no-documentation days of C++, is that their creators are not typically professional writers and shy away from the effort it takes to produce even less-than-satisfactory manuals. But without these early efforts, he explained, the language or technology may never gain enough traction for the Big Dogs like O'Reilly to come in and write the professional-caliber books that are necessary for truly widespread adoption. So, how important is quality documentation to you as a creator or potential user of new technologies? And how useful do you find the documentation that tech giants like Google (Go), Twitter (Bootstrap), Facebook (iOS 6 Facebook Integration), Microsoft (Windows Store apps), and Apple (Create Apps for IOS 6) produce to promote their nascent technologies? Is it useful on its own, or do you have to turn to other 'store-bought' documentation to really understand how to get things done?"
An anonymous reader writes "Real-world military conventions have had obvious effects on many sci-fi books, movies, and TV shows. But how does their fictional representation stack up against the evolving rules of high-tech warfare? In an interview with Foreign Policy magazine, a naval analyst discusses some of the technological assumptions involved in transposing sea combat to space combat, and his amusement with the trope of 'aircraft carriers in space.' He says, 'Star Wars is probably the worst. There is no explanation for why X-Wings [fighters] do what they do, other than the source material is really Zeroes [Japanese fighter planes] from World War II. Lucas quite consciously copied World War II fighter combat. He basically has said they analyzed World War II movies and gun camera footage and recreated those shots. Battlestar Galactica has other issues. One thing I have never understood is why the humans didn't lose halfway through the first episode. If information moves at the speed of light, and one side has a tactically useful FTL [faster-than-light] drive to make very small jumps, then there is no reason why the Cylons couldn't jump close enough and go, "Oh, there the Colonials are three light minutes away, I can see where they are, but they won't see me for three minutes?"'"
bcrowell writes "California Governor Jerry Brown has signed SB 1052 and 1053, authored by state senator Darrell Steinberg, to create free textbooks for 50 core lower-division college courses. SB 1052 creates a California Open Education Resources Council, made up of faculty from the UC, Cal State, and community college systems. The council is supposed to pick 50 core courses. They are then to establish a 'competitive request-for-proposal process in which faculty members, publishers, and other interested parties would apply for funds to produce, in 2013, 50 high-quality, affordable, digital open source textbooks and related materials, meeting specified requirements.' The bill doesn't become operative unless the legislature funds it — a questionable process in California's current political situation. The books could be either newly produced (which seems unlikely, given the 1-year time frame stated) or existing ones that the state would buy or have free access to. Unlike former Gov. Schwarzenegger's failed K-12 free textbook program, this one specifically defines what it means by 'open source,' rather than using the term as a feel-good phrase; books have to be under a CC-BY (or CC-BY-SA?) license, in XML format. They're supposed to be modularized and conform to state and W3C accessibility guidelines. Faculty would not be required to use the free books."
benrothke writes "Today's handheld device is the mainframe of years past. An iPhone 5 with 64 GB of storage and the Apple A6 system-on-a-chip processor has more raw computing power entire data centers had some years ago. With billions of handheld devices in use worldwide, it is imperative that digital forensics investigators and others know how to ensure that the information contained in them, can be legally preserved if needed." Read on for the rest of Ben's review.
MassDosage writes "I've always found Chemistry interesting, particularly in high school when I had the good fortune of having a Chemistry teacher who was not only really good looking, but a great teacher too. I studied it for a year at University and then moved on and haven't really given the periodic table and its elements much thought since. This changed when the Wonderful Life with the Elements was delivered to me two weeks ago. It's one of those books that aims to make science fun and, unlike many other attempts which turn out to be pretty lame, this actually succeeds in presenting the periodic table in a fresh, original and interesting manner." Read on for the rest of Mass Dosage's review.