There's been plenty of interesting stuff popping up in the news, so it's time to collect a bit.
This article describes a current patent case in cryptography, where apparently Ron Rivest testified (by deposition) and Whitfield Diffie took the stand. While I can't help but wonder if the article has dramatized the proceedings a bit, it does give some idea of what patent trials are like. I found it interesting both legally and technically. Anyone interested in the legal/expert witness side of technical work should find it worthwhile.
Update: The case was decided, as Suresh notes.
In other legal news worth noting, Google Books was found to be fair use. The decision is online (and available at the link) -- I'd definitely recommend reading it if you're interested in fair use and the legal framework for how fair use is currently (at least of this decision) is understood.
Harvard's CS50 course just made the Boston Globe business section. I'll quote the conclusion from the new boss, David Parkes: “There’s a new willingness among the student body to take risks, to not follow what has been the default path of going into medical school or going into finance,” said David Parkes, Harvard’s dean for computer science. “I think part of it is that students are seeing a new way to contribute to society through computer science”
Michael Nielsen put up a chapter of the latest book he's working on, on neural networks.
I found myself more interested than I expected when reading the article How Academia Resembles a Drug Gang. The issue of PhD overproduction is already well known, but this brought in a new dimension for me, with the discussion of "dualisation" -- employment systems with an "insider" class with unusually high benefits (supposedly, from the article, tenured professors) and a large "outsider" class of people trying to get on the inside and supporting their lifestyle (from the article, untenured part-time faculty and PhD students). Probably worth thinking about in terms of trends in our field, but also just generally, I'm now curious about the economics. Dualisation doesn't seem like it would lead to long-term stable systems -- what's the model?
I'll have to pay more attention to the news myself these days. I was asked to serve on the Communications of the ACM editorial board, news division, and found myself unable to find a suitable reason to decline.
Finally, a question. 'Tis the season to purchase some new machinery. So is retina display for my next laptop a must-have, not worth it, or somewhere in between? I'd appreciate opinions.