Tag Archives | open source

ReMail Lives! Maybe!

Last month, Google bought ReMail, a company that made a nifty e-mail program for the iPhone–then promptly yanked the app out of the App Store and announced plans to discontinue support for it. Today brings some news that sounds modestly hopeful: Google has decided to open-source the ReMail code. If there are any developers out there with the interest and technical chops, they’ll be able to adopt ReMail, get it back in the App Store, and release upgrades.

Of course, there are no guarantees that such developers will emerge and save ReMail. Last year, when Google decided to cease work on the Twitterlike Jaiku service it had bought, it released Jaiku as open-source code–and that’s pretty much the last time Jaiku attracted attention at all. But ReMail is a unique, useful product with a clear audience. Maybe someone out there will see an opportunity to make money by rescuing it–I hope so.

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Is Cloud Computing Dangerous?

Cloud services like Facebook and Gmail might be “free,” but they carry an immense social cost, threatening the privacy and freedom of people who are too willing to trade it away for a perceived convenience, according to Eben Moglen, a Columbia University law professor and founder of the Software Freedom Law Center.

On Friday, Moglen was the guest speaker at a seminar at New York University that was sponsored by local technology organizations. Moglen criticized the hierarchical nature of the Web today, and called for a return to peer-to-peer communications.

“The underlying architecture of the Net is meant to be about peerage,” Moglen said. “…There was nothing on the technical side to prevent it, but there was a software problem.”

The client/server architecture has been locked in over the past two decades by Microsoft Windows, Moglen claimed. “Servers were given a lot of power, and clients had very little.”

Control has been moved even further away from the client (people) by cloud services, which can be physically located anywhere in the world where the provider chooses to operate, Moglen said. Privacy laws vary widely from country to country.

There was no discussion of social consequences on the part of computer sciences as they created technologies that comprise the Web, Moglen said. “The architecture is begging to be misused.” Cloud providers are the biggest offenders, in Moglen’s view.

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