Thursday, February 07, 2013

Open Source LiveCode & MarshalPlan, My Evidence Marshaling Software Application

RunRev, the company that developed and owns LiveCode -- a scripting language that is a descendant of Revolution & HyperCard, -- recently announced that it is turning LiveCode into open source software. This development interests me because my evidence marshaling software application MarshalPlan (which is a descendant of a HyperCard-based software application that David Schum and I developed 20 years ago) is based on the scripting language LiveCode. When LiveCode becomes open source software, I will probably have a much easier time distributing my evidence marshaling application - MarshalPlan - to the world at large. Since I believe MarshalPlan incorporates and illustrates important insights into and productive methods of evidence marshaling, I believe this turn of events is probably a good thing. But a caveat lurks in my brain: I am not versed in "intellectual property." I will have to figure out how or if I can retain any "intellectual property" in future iterations of MarshalPlan if I use Open-Source-LiveCode to develop future iterations of MarshalPlan and if I distribute such Open-Source iterations of MarshalPlan to other people. (I do not expect to get rich from MarshalPlan. But I confess I would like to retain the faint possibility of making some money from my [crude] "app.")

In its announcements RunRev asks the public to "pledge" money to the enterprise of converting LiveCode into open source software. Have I walked into an NPR or PBS fundraiser? Has RunRev turned into a charitable religious organization? Why should people give away their hard-earned money to help RunRev make more money? Am I being retrograde? Is RunRev indirectly selling shares or some sort of property interest in its new enterprise? If so, is this solicitation of "pledges" legally kosher? (Another thing I profess to know nothing about: the law governing shareholding, securities, blue sky claims, and similar matters.) 

Monday, February 04, 2013

Firearms and Toolmarks Identification

William A. Tobin & Peter J. Blau, Hypothesis Testing of the Critical Underlying Premise of Discernible Uniqueness in Firearms-Toolmarks Forensic Practice (Dec. 6, 2012) (footnotes omitted):

Mainstream scientists are likely in agreement that, at some level above the subatomic, every object in the universe is probably unique. Nevertheless, it is argued in the scholarly literature, and correctly in the authors’ opinions, that uniqueness is “largely irrelevant” to the forensic identification practices, which would include firearms identification. The more seminal issue for forensic practice, however, is that of discernible uniqueness. Similar to the familiar riddle of a tree falling in a forest with no one around, if uniqueness does, in fact, exist, what is the probative value if firearms examiners cannot discern it? But to discern uniqueness at some level, it is axiomatic that two conditions must exist: (1) some criteria, indicia, or “parameters of detection” for uniqueness, and (2) rules of application for those indicia to discern “same” from “different.” An exhaustive review of the domain literature reveals no such criteria. Thus, there is no apparent official or scientifically acceptable protocol for distinguishing ‘same’ from ‘different’. 

The dynamic evidence page

Evidence marshaling software MarshalPlan