links for 2010-07-27

  • "The U.S. Copyright Office, a division of the Library of Congress, has authorized several new exemptions to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA), one of which will allow mobile phone users to "jailbreak" — or hack into — their devices to use apps not authorized by the phone's manufacturer. The new rules will be published on Tuesday in the Federal Register.

    "Jailbreaking iPhones in order to download apps that are unavailable in Apple's App Store had been a legal gray area: Apple technically had the right to request a $2,500 government fine for damages every time a user violated the law that bans "circumvention of technological measures" controlling access to copyrighted works — in this case, the iPhone's iOS software."

  • "the signal strength bars are almost meaningless and should not be relied on.

    Incidentally, this also explains what’s going on when you have a strong signal, attempt to make a call, and can’t connect. The bars only indicate how well your phone can listen to the cell tower. They don’t tell you anything about how well the tower can receive your phone, but that’s a pretty important part of making a call. Similarly, the phone doesn’t know anything about what’s going on in the cell provider’s network past the tower; if you’re on a really busy cell it might not have any spare outgoing circuits to direct your call to, so even if the radio is working fine, you might still not be able to get through. If you’re on AT&T it’s probably all of the above at the same time of course."

  • "Another evolving area of computing concerns programs running on mobile devices linked in "ad hoc" wireless networks. AmbientTalk, an experimental language presented by Tom Van Cutsem from Vrije Universiteit Brussel in Belgium, explores a new paradigm called "ambient-oriented programming," which departs from traditional distributed computing in two main ways. First, it does not rely on central infrastructure. Second, it assumes that network connections are volatile and unpredictable (as is usually the case with mobile devices passing in and out of range with each other). According to Van Cutsem, "AmbientTalk is smart enough to buffer messages so that when the connection drops, they're not lost, and when the connection is restored, it sends the messages through as if nothing happened."

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