Maryland patches its voting system

elections, certification/testing, reform, standards, news, policy, legal
(I started writing this as a comment on Ben's post... then realized I would be using way too many links!)

Ben Adida (now a postdoc at Harvard) points out ("Fixing Bugs and Breaking Certification") that DESI has developed fixes to address the rampant problems experienced in Maryland counties in their recent election. Ben asks, "Clearly, this fix required an update to the voting machine software. [...] So, what happens to the certification process? Is there really time to re-certify between now and then? Is certification happening at all?"

Well, technically, the poll books broke down, although I did hear of a few cases of the BSOD with machines. Under Maryland election law, the voting system has "examined by an independent testing laboratory that is approved by the National Association of State Election Directors" and "shown by the testing laboratory to meet the performance and test standards for electronic voting systems established by the Federal Election Commission" (§9-102(2)). However, the definition for "voting system" is "a method of casting and tabulating ballots or votes" (§1-101(yy)); that doesn't seem to include the registration/voter authentication process. So, it would seem that changes to the pollbook subsystem are outside of Maryland election law.

(The Maryland legislature had better get hopping to change §9-102(2) to reflect the new sheriffs in town... they should read something like "shown by a voting system testing laboratory (VSTL) that is approved by the Election Assistance Commission (EAC)" and "shown by the testing laboratory to meet the version of the voluntary voting system guidelines in effect at the time of certification as established by the EAC".)

However, Linda Lamone (the director of the Maryland SBoE) has stated publicly, "If I'm not 100 percent sure that this system is 100 percent operational, it will not be used on election day." So, it sounds like there is some state-level testing and IV&V left to be done on the pollbooks.

So, federal certification isn't happening. In fact, it remains to be seen if the pollbook feature is included in the federal certification process at all (I have conflicting evidence and no one has access to the ITA reports). As for the question of regression testing (have other bugs been introduced), we'll probably find that out on November 7.

GPLv3 DOA

copyright, open source, patents, politics, berkeley, policy, DRM, legal

Heather Meeker from Greenberg Traurig spoke yesterday at Pam Samuelson's open source class... and confirmed what I had feared: GPLv3 is dead on arrival.

Later: Oh yeah, she also said that SCO v. IBM is totally irrelevant to the GPL... that case is finally seeing some action as both sides have filed for summary judgement (they've been in discovery and other BS for like 3 years).

iSchool T-Shirt, Yo

berkeley, photos, friends, iSchool

Here's my (preliminary) design entry for the UC Berkeley School of Information T-Shirt. It's all vectorized, so can be any size and it's simply a two-color design.

all your database are belong to us

There are a lot of other people who are vastly more graphically-oriented working on their designs... including kid k. (Yes, Dan Perkel, I was thinking "sinister" when I made this.)

Explanation: The bottom stuff is American Sign Language for "all your database are belong to us". I wanted the central part to be a mickey mouse skull to poke fun at the death of Disney's killing of culture... however, here I used the Misfits skull with mickey mouse ears and that might be too spooky for some people. There's a great painting of a mickey skull in the current issue of adbusters that I wanted to work from, but I can't contact the artist... all the fonts are freely-licensed fonts and the artwork is severely tortured and repurposed from CC-licensed images on flickr: thanks ohsoabnormal and bright. So, the end result will be by-nc-sa/2.0/.

This is definitely not a tame design. I can amend this design if people would rather have it one way or another... a more tame design I had been working on had a symmetrical tribal-like design in the middle using the ischool logo.

The Dangers of Blurring Lines in Academia...

copyright, chilling effects, patents, politics, friends, policy, legal, threats, education, iSchool

Lilia, a recent Master's graduate from here at the iSchool, recounts her frustrating experience with her Master's project, her adviser and intellectual property associated with her project: "An Unfortunate Graduate School Experience".

Lilia and her counsel are spot on about the joint works issue; each author has the ability to do what they want with the materials they produced for their final project. And the blurring of the academic, business and other roles of the students and the adviser is a particularly ill-advised arrangement. However, how the hell is a group of students going to be able to know if they have a marketable product from the beginning? If they would have known that from the beginning, they would have done many things differently and surely would not be in this state where, presumably, the other students are fine with this sub-standard arrangement and the one student who questions things is fired.

Undoubtedly, this follows many of the smaller disputes we see in the intellectual property space: it's not about the intellectual property but about control and, in some sense, the dispute itself. We need to be able to work things out... and everybody has to give a little to allow that to happen.

Batali's Parmigiana di Melanzane

wine, recipe, food

Parmigiana de Melanzane One of my favorite cooks and restauranteurs is Mario Batali.

I'm not exactly sure why, but I use to not really like Batali. Maybe it's because he uses a lot of meat and we don't eat much of that around here. Well, after eating one of the best meals of my life at Esca in New York City, I totally re-evaluated what I thought of him and his cooking. That night, over a nice bottle of Gruner Veltliner and a plate of homemade pasta in a sea urchin sauce, I decided to pay more attention to Mario Batali. He's a formidable opponent on Iron Chef America, and his dishes are fun and easy to make.

The following recipe is an eggplant parmesan recipe of Batali's. I've modified it a bit; I can never make a recipe without some modification. This makes about 8 portions, two of which and a fresh salad make a very hearty meal.

(Joe's Take on) Batali's Parmigiana di Melanzane

Ingredients:

  • 2 pounds good eggplant (late summer to early fall)
  • Salt
  • 4 tablespoons (and then some) extra-virgin olive oil
  • a few egg yolks (3-4... start with one) and a bit of water
  • 1 cup Panko bread crumbs
  • 1/4 finely chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 1/4 cup finely grated pecorino romano
  • 2 cups tomato sauce, (see below)
  • 1 lb. fresh mozzarella in large balls, thinly sliced (1/4-inch)
  • 1/2 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350°F.
  2. Wash and dry the eggplant. Slice the eggplant into 1/4-inch thick rounds. Sprinkle slices generously with salt, place the slices in a large colander and set aside to rest about 30 minutes (or longer) with the colander sitting on a few paper towels (this pulls water out of the eggplant, so we want to catch that stuff with the paper towels).
  3. Make the tomato sauce; recipe below (while the tomato sauce is reducing, you can prepare a salad).
  4. Make an egg wash by taking putting 3 egg yolks in a bowl and adding a bit of water (a Tbsp. or so). Add the basil and romano to the bread crumbs (have more of this stuff on hand if the mixture gets lame near the end of cooking the eggplant... and you'll need some for constructing the parmigiana).
  5. Now it is time to bread and cook the eggplant: first, rinse the eggplant to remove excess salt and dry with towels. In a sauté pan, heat olive oil until damn hot. Press the drained eggplant pieces into the eggwash, then into the seasoned bread crumb mixture and sauté until light golden brown on both sides. Remove to a plate or large bowl lined with paper towels. Repeat with all of the eggplant.
  6. Prepare the parmigiana: on a cookie sheet place the 8 largest pieces of eggplant. Sprinkle a 1/2 Tbsp. of the bread crumb mixture over each piece of eggplant. Place 2 Tbsp. of tomato sauce over each eggplant slice and place a thin slice of mozzarella on top of each. Sprinkle with Parmigiano. Then, continue layering by topping each with the next smallest piece of eggplant, then sauce then mozzarella and finally with Parmigiano. Repeat the layering process until all the ingredients have been used, finishing again with the Parmigiano (This requires having multiples of eight in eggplant and mozzarella... make do as best you can and don't be afraid to end each stack with a half slice of eggplant and mozzarella).
  7. Place the pan in the oven and bake about 15 minutes, turning once (quickly) while cooking. If tops aren't browned, remove from the oven, turn on the broiler and brown the tops for about a couple of minutes when the broiler is hot.

Simple Tomato Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup fine olive oil
  • 1 red onion, dice
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, very finely chopped
  • 2 (28-ounce) cans peeled whole tomatoes (I like San Marzano)
  • about 1 tsp. Salt (but salt to taste, damnit, not to recipe!)

Directions:

  1. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil over medium heat.
  2. Add the onion and garlic and cook until soft and light golden brown, about 8 to 10 minutes.
  3. Add the thyme and carrot and cook 5 minutes more, until the carrot is quite soft.
  4. Add the whole tomatoes with their juice and bring to a boil, stirring frequently.
  5. Lower the heat to a simmer and cook for 30-45 minutes until the sauce is "as thick as hot cereal". Season liberally with salt and serve (or cool for use in the recipe above).
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