Category Archives: Classroom discussion continuation

This is the category for posts that continue discussions from our class sessions.

German Company sues Apple for $2 billion.

An article in USA Today dicusses how IpCom, a German patent holding company sued Apple for $2 billion. A “patent troll” is a term commonly used to describe the company because of its tendency to buy patents with no intent to use them. IpCom has over 1,200 patents with no plan for them in manufacturing.



The company benefits from the license fees and royalties that result from enforcing patents. The ethical question here is  deciding if IpCom’s actions are morally right. The Act Utilitarianism theory may say that the action is morally wrong because it creates more unhappiness because they are suing the company for producing a product that advances society that would not have gotten produced otherwise. While rule utilitarianism would have said they were morally right if the number one rule is something like, “do not violate the patent”.

$2 billion is a lot of money and IpCom was denied their claim. But were they morally right to sue Apple in the first place?


CyanogenMod is an open source OS(Operating System) for android based tablet and smartphones. All of its code can be found on a common open source site, Github. Common neat features CyanogenMod has are supportsare  native theming support, FLAC audio codec support, a large Access Point Name list, an OpenVPN client, revoking application permissions, support for Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and USB tethering, CPU overclocking and other performance enhancements, soft buttons and other “tablet tweaks”, toggles in the notification pull-down (such as Wi-FiBluetooth and GPS), apppermissions management, as well as other interface enhancements.

CyanogenMod was started by Steve Kondik who goes by the name Cyanogen. He started this project back around February 2011 with the Android 2.3 GingerBread.

Since then CyanogenMod has slowly developing. It is becoming more and more stable. There are three parallel and active major versions: CyanogenMod 10 (Android 4.1), 10.1 (Android 4.2), 10.2 (Android 4.3) and 11 (Android 4.4). Which are split into different categories such as Stable, Release Candidate, M-series and Nightlies.

This leads me to my questions, what do you guys think of CyanogenMod versus the rest of the mods out there. Is is better than the Android Stock? How does this tie in with what we are learning in class about open source? Could open source software like this be easily exploited by hackers?

More discussion of e-waste

We really spent only one class session discussing e-waste, but I think it is a really important topic. The starting point of our discussion was “The Electronic Wasteland”, which originally aired on CBS’s 60 Minutes. It is a startling video. I think it is something we should be sharing with our friends and families

When I have had old computers to recycle, I have taken them to either FreeGeek Columbus (which seems to be defunct) or Ohio Drop Off. I assume my old electronics were reused or recycled responsibly, but I have no way of knowing for sure. And even if there are good places that recycle electronics responsibly, there will be others that don’t. It is much cheaper to recycle electronics in developing countries that have little health and environmental regulation or enforcement than it is to do the recycling around here. As long as that is true, there will be businesses that send electronics to the “wasteland” in order to save money — even if it means making people sick and polluting the land.

In class, we mentioned a few possible solutions to the e-waste problem. One idea was to design electronics with more replaceable and upgradable parts. That way things do not become obsolete as quickly, and there is less total e-waste. Another idea was to add to the cost of electronics a fee that would be refunded only if the item was returned to an authorized center for recycling. (This is similar to how some states handle recycling of bottles and cans.)

What are some other solutions? What are the pros and cons of each solution?

I Do Not Like Richard Stallman

I attended Richard Stallman’s guest lecture the other night, and I can honestly say that I definitely do not care for him as a person and I think his movement is far too radical, to the point that I think it can be considered an extremest movement.

I think what Richard Stallman is shooting for is a worthwhile goal, but his way of trying to get there is ridiculous. He cannot truly expect that I am going to quit using cellphones and delete my Facebook because they may invade my privacy a little and can be used to track me. In fact, I promote that. I hope they can use these technologies to track down the coward who blew up the finish line at the Boston Marathon. Without these technologies, it is possible that this shithead may get away with it. Once again, I promote free software, but I do not promote Richard Stallman’s way of getting there.

I also felt that everytime someone asked him a question or exclaimed a criticism he took it as an attack on his movement and in turn, behaved like an asshole. I think he had a very condescending tone toward all of us and behaved very unprofessionally. It’s like he felt so highly of himself and we were all just a bunch of idiots who needed to see that his way of doing things is the only way of doing things; in his eyes we have to change completely and he/his movement are perfect and there is no room for improvement.  In a way, I see him as a bit of a hypocrite. In the same way that Apple ropes in their users, Richard Stallman is trying to rope us into his. If we don’t see things his way we are “unethical” or “evil.” I think he bullies people into his movement with name-calling like that.

Also, here is a video of Stallman eating something off of his foot. It’s gross/funny, but when regular people see this I think it definitely turns them off to his movement and furthers the notion that he is a wacko. Free Software deserves a more professional and appealing leader  —

Skip to 1:52 for the foot-crud feast

^^If you are a Stallmanite I cannot recommend that you watch this video as it was recorded and released in a non-free format. For the rest of you, enjoy the show.

Printer Unique Identification Technology

According to this article the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) has been aware of and alerting the public to unique printer identification or “printer dots” since about 2004. It goes on to state that the companies who have implemented this have done so of free will and in collusion with the United States government. The EFF has kindly provided a list of printers that have been tested for “anomalous yellow dots” that indicate unique identification. This article explains what the results mean and how they were obtained as to expose their methodology to as much scrutiny as possible. According to this document obtained by the EFF through a Freedom of Information Act request Canon, Brother, Casio, Hewlett-Packard, Konica, Minolta, Mita, Ricoh, Sharp, and Xerox are complicit in these acts.

The implementation of a tracking device, especially without informing the citizen/consumer of its existence, is very troubling because it directly violates the right to anonymous, free speech, a pillar of our cultural identity. A more troubling idea is that not only can the government read and interrupt this data, but so can anybody with the knowledge to do so which includes _AT LEAST_ the a handful of people in each of the above mentioned companies. This also opens the door for a person or persons to forge a paper from another persons printer and use it against them while being much harder to detect or disprove.

Interestingly enough act utilitarianism could plausibly used to justify this, especially since most people are ignorant of this fact, but the more applicable idea of moral rights theory is in a strange stalemate depending on who is asked. Founding father Ben Franklin stated “[s]ell not virtue to purchase wealth, nor Liberty to purchase power,” or more colloquially, “[h]e who sacrifices freedom for security deserves neither.”

Are the freedoms sacrificed worth the security gained?

Globalization and Technology

I came across this article on BBC business news section and surprisingly, it is related to our reading for Monday;  the article talks about the next phase of technology and globalization. Speaking from experience as a foreigner, technology has changed the way the world communicate, i can Skype, Facebook chat with my cousins in the most remote village in The Gambia. The article divided the effects of technology and globalization into three sections.

Most businesses operate on a rationality concept- getting more done and spending less. According to the article, except for the jobs that require complex knowledge and expertise, many middle skilled jobs will be at risk of been outsourced. I am not okay with this part of technology and globalization because not every person can become an engineer, a lawyer or a doctors; if semi-skilled jobs are outsourced, it may become hard for people who do not have complex expertise to find decent jobs.

Another highlight the article talked about is external competition. One of the  crucial reason people the outside world are lured to the West is access to better education. With Educational platforms like MIT’s OpenCourseWare, Open Yale, and iTunes U, high quality education can be acquired by students living in some remote parts of the world. I think this is a good move, because it will minimize immigration and open the world to people who may not have to chance to travel to the West.

The article finally talked about emergence of Transnationals. To summarize the last part of the article  it simple said that technology will continue to re-balance the world by creating leaders form different parts of the world. what i understand from this is that in the near future, ones look  may not judge his origin and the American for example will have a prefix, say a Chinese American.

In most aspects, I am in support of the rising trend of technology and globalization,  because i think it will help bring light the many different cultures and people of the world on some kind of similar platform, what do you think?


Today I read an article about two Navy lieutenants named Scott Cheney-Peters and Matthew Hipple. In the journal of the U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, the pair talked about the growth of 3D printers and that in the future these printers could change almost everything about the way the Navy builds things “through the design and construction of ships, submarines, aircraft, and everything carried on board.” As 3D printers evolve, their hope is that the Navy can use them for everyday logistics and producing tools and supplies. Cheney-Peters and Hipple want 3D printing to be so heavily incorporated into Navy use that it is used to print plates, tools, medical supplies, and even ships. They even hope that 3D printers can be placed in Naval hospitals so doctors can use them to print medical tools and prosthetic limbs. At this point in time, 3D printers are not capable of being used to the degree that these lieutenants are hoping, such as for printing ships and aircraft. The highest quality 3D printers cost hundreds of thousands of dollars, and they still cannot print high quality rubber or metals that the Navy needs in production.

In our class, we have discussed 3D printing a number of times. We have also discussed drones. What is they were combined? Researchers in Virginia and the United Kingdom have printed working, flyable drones (without engines of course). As 3D printing becomes more popular and affordable, we will continue to hear more stories like this. However, the time is coming where it will be possible to print ships. If we can print ships, why not a nice car? Printable houses are already possible. What will be done to keep this all in line? Will the Government soon make limits on what can be done with 3D printers? Or will we continue to print 3D guns and whatsoever we desire as 3D printing evolves?

Documentary explores 3D printed guns

I know it’s been a while since we’ve talked about this but I recently stumbled on a documentary about the potential of printing assault rifles and high capacity magazines that I don’t believe we’ve talked about yet.

The documentary found here takes a realistic view on the potential of the new and rapidly developing technology. The documentary focus on a 25-year old who is advocating the creation and open distribution of CAD blueprints for various weapon parts and demonstrates their functionality. His main argument is that gun control and bans are futile and pointless due to the availability of new these new technologies(internet + 3D printing). The self-described crypto anarchist uses his own website, along with friends in the field, to host and create new and better pieces available to the open public. Anyone with internet can access these files and anyone with a 3D printer can create these objects. There is a chilling resemblance between his methods of addressing a situation and that of firesheeps’s. He has also recently been approved for a federal firearms license. This means that he will be able to sell his printed guns, as well as host blueprint of the files via his website. No one can predict the impact of this new technology but everyone agrees it is getting easier and cheaper to do. It’s only a matter of time until 3D printers become common household items.

Obviously new technologies bring change but what is the potential for this new technology? Do you think the danger lies with the ability to create a gun at home, the open source nature of the blueprints or both?

Do you agree with Cody’s methods of spreading awareness or do you think he is going too far?




As technology increases and people get smarter, there will always be a new technology or service that pushes the limits of what is “acceptable” in society. Today, I was reading an article about an new app called Koozoo. Basically, it allows people to stream live video from a phone to anyone using the Koozoo app. Other people can also “tune in” to a video feed to watch what is being broadcasted. Sounds intriguing, right? The creator of Koozoo based this app upon an old website that had a live video stream of a bar in Michigan that people could log onto in order to see if the bar was busy that day or something. Koozoo seeks to be similar, but less complicated doing so. They want you to take an old smartphone (“There are billions of dollars of smartphones sitting in sock drawers all over the world”), download the app, and set up a live stream of whatever using that phone. It could be a stream of a city intersection, the outside of a library, whatever. They just want it to be a stream of a public place.

The cool thing about Koozoo is that a 24/7 feed is not actually being streamed, but your phone is actually taking a picture every few minutes to use as a thumbnail, then takes a live feed once someone “tunes in.” The stream is geo-tagged so people know where it originates from. Also, no audio is streamed, only the video itself. However, I believe that Koozoo is already doomed to privacy struggles. In Koozoo’s terms of service it states that only public spaces can be streamed. Koozoo’s founders said “unless a front yard is obscured in some way, it is visible to the general public.” According to this rule, if people can see my backyard from the street, they can stream me swimming.. This would be considered a public spot, and could be streamed. Koozoo says that they are going to be working hard to make sure that only acceptable content is streamed, but how successful will they be? Already, it sounds like privacy can be infringed here and Koozoo will not have a problem with it. What do you think? Is Koozoo a bad idea that will cause privacy concerns, or will it be a beneficial app?

UK Anonymous Hackers Get Jail Time

Even though I have just written a post, I came across this article and I am completely mind blown. Anonymous, probably the most popular and well known hacker group in the world, is basically an independent hacker organization that seems to run on their own morals. Basically, they want an open internet, and they stand for a lot of other things, but they are famous for hacking into websites and exposing people’s sensitive information. They are known for launching DoS (denial-of-service) attacks on websites to shut them down, most notable being the FBI’s website, Government websites in the UK, and GoDaddy domains, among others. They have threatened Governments around the world, criminal organizations, even religious groups. Recently they attacked the Westboro Baptist Church, a religious group that acts as a hate group that had plans to picket the memorial service for the Sandy Hook Elementary School, by launching a DoS attack on their website to shut it down, exposed sensitive information of the WBC members (addresses, full names), and even hacked a member’s Twitter page. Anonymous seems to live above the law, and is very successful at it too.

The reason for such a length summary of Anonymous is because of what this article means. Four members of Anonymous have been arrested in the UK for attacks on websites as part of actions carried our by Anonymous. Guess what the longest prison sentence received was? 18 months. Honestly I am confused. These members launched DoS attacks on websites owned by Paypal, Visa, Mastercard, and the British Recorded Music Industry, and are receiving pretty lenient sentences, considering what Anonymous has done in the past. Anonymous’ actions have put many people’s lives in danger, security at risk, and ruined people’s lives, as in the case of Michael Nodianos, who even though was in the wrong for saying what he said about a rape victim in the video, the video surely was not intended to be made public and has made it dangerous for Nodianos to even walk around in public in Ohio. Why is it that some members of the secret Anonymous organization have been found out and given such lenient prison terms, when they can get out sooner than 1.5 years and continue working for Anonymous?

3-d printed high-capacity magazines

In class Monday we talked for a moment about whether and how news stories about new technology could be ethically significant. I said that if technology changes the ways we live and interact with each other, then a new piece of technology might be very ethically significant.

Here is a great example. Forbes has an interesting write-up about Defense Distributed, a group using 3-d printers to create high-capacity ammunition magazines. (See also this article at The Verge.) People are using 3-d printers to print high-capacity magazines to hold bullets for assault rifles. Magazines holding more than ten rounds used to be banned. Since the Newtown shooting, there is growing support for banning them again. Well, how effective would a ban be if people could just download the design and print one from home?

Of course this issue goes well-beyond just gun magazines or even firearms in general. 3-d printing promises to allow DIYers to manufacture things that, up to now, have had to come from large factories. In many ways, this should be great. But what about people who want to manufacture something illegal or dangerous?