Microsoft Promo: a PC and Xbox In Every Dorm Room
Obviously this is a response to Apple's back-to-school promotion, which they have run for several years. Last year that program got you exactly the same amount in credit ($199) towards any iPod when you bought any Apple laptop.
One advantage of the Apple program is that you could trade up and get a higher priced iPod touch model and still get the $199 in credit. It looks like the Microsoft program only gets you the slightly gimped 4GB Xbox with no trade-up. A lot of students might be bummed when they realize they need a $100 hard drive accessory to play a lot of the games.
Not a bad deal, but I wonder how many Xboxes will be given to students who were going to buy a laptop anyway. I think the Apple motivation is obvious: to get students to switch to Apple. Not sure if the formula works the same with Microsoft.
CRTC Mulls Canadian Content On the Internet
Are there similar efforts, existing or proposed, in other countries?
How To Fix the Poor Usability of Free Software
At the bottom the article links to John Gruber's "Ronco Spray-on Usability" article, which also provides a lot of background on the challenges of good interface design.
In the original article, I think the most important point is number 8 - "Scratching their own itch." I can see how programmers interested in, for example, having a stable and scalable web server would work on Apache. I don't see the same passion coming from a human interface designer to fix, for example, the horrible user interface for joining wireless networks on desktop linux.
In my opinion the only way the user interface will get fixed is if Ubuntu or another distro pays for expert user interface folks to fix UI issues. I don't see the volunteer community being up to the task.