To use your own IRC client, join channel #boycottnovell in FreeNode.
To use your own IRC client, join channel #boycottnovell in FreeNode.
Summary: Refutation of Mono disinformation about Banshee being a GNOME project without associated issues
Banshee is a Mono project that we wrote about before, e.g. in:
Banshee is rather unique because it’s a de facto Novell-only project for Novell customers (and a potential Trojan horse for the rest because of parts of Mono/.NET which it uses).
Interesting bit of spin out of Team Mono today.
It’s not what you think, baby.
In a numbers-heavy blog post, Bertrand Loretz tries to make the argument that “Banshee is a GNOME Project” and not a ”Novell project”. While I understand why one might want to distance themselves from Novell, you’re going to have a rough time trying that with Banshee.
For starters Novell owns the Banshee name, logo and icon. One might think that pretty much seals the deal?
Another point of interest is that “one of the purposes building Banshee was to showcase building an application on Mono.”
There’s also this bit right there on the Banshee “About” Page:
Novell employs Aaron and Gabriel Burt to work on Banshee.
So, just going by Mr. Loretz’s own numbers, at least 70.4% of the code contributions came from the 2 developers Novell is paying to work on Banshee.
So, Novell owns the project name and likeness, and pays for the overwhelming majority of the actual code, but it’s not
Mono has come under some more criticism recently [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] (due to Jeremy Allison’s column), leading to comments such as this one: “The really big difference between Samba and Mono is that Samba is necessary and Mono isn’t. I’ll go further, Mono serves no function at all that can’t be better served by other solutions. There isn’t a single important application that requires Mono so why take any risk at all by including it in any distro except Novel’s. It’s one thing to incur risk, even significant risk, to achieve some significant aim. But it makes no sense to incur even the tiniest risk if the potential gain from it is essentially 0.” █
Summary: Groklaw believes that Microsoft plays a role in sabotaging MySQL; Roughly Drafted Magazine explains how Sun and Oracle come to Microsoft’s rescue
THE other day I argued an opinion, claiming that evidence suggests Oracle is bad news for MySQL. It’s not just gut feeling but the result of analysing and looking at literally hundreds of posts and articles on the subject (I spend the better part of my day doing this).
I almost always agree with what Groklaw has to say, but in this case there is insufficient evidence to show that Microsoft may be interested in MySQL (it would be too complicated), as opposed to damaging it, which would still not explain MariaDB and other key factors; yet Pamela Jones warns that Microsoft might be behind an attempt to harm or to buy MySQL. To quote just a few portions (the allegation is better defended when read in its entirety):
Monty Widenius has posted a press release, urging Oracle to sell MySQL to a third party, and there is a link to the materials that he and Florian Mueller, who is working with him, provided to the EU Commission, which appears to have influenced it to delay approval. I’ve been reading all I can find on this topic, and I’d like to tell you why I think the community should support the Oracle deal. The most important reason is that opponents are trashing the GPL [PDF] and calling it a source of “infection” in their FUD submission to the EU Commission.
Update: I see Matt Asay has jumped on board the antiGPL FUD too. Folks, there is no difference between Sun owning MySQL and Oracle, as far as forking rights. Duh. What is this? An elaborate Microsoft production by proxy?
Get the picture? He makes a list of who would have the money to buy MySQL. Guess who is number one on the list? Microsoft.
Speaking of Sun and Oracle, the other day we showed that a known Microsoft shill blamed them (along with Linux) for Microsoft’s Danger disaster. We covered it in:
Roughly Drafted, which is another independent thinker like Groklaw, argues that Sun and Oracle actually saved Microsoft amid the Danger disaster, not caused it any trouble. From the analysis:
Sun, Oracle save Microsoft’s Pink after Danger data disaster
“It will take several days to actually get the database back up,” the source noted, echoing earlier reports that indicated that it took 6 days just to create a normal full backup of the data. The time and storage resources involved in backing up the tremendous amount of data were cited as the reason why Microsoft’s Roz Ho reportedly instructed Danger employees to proceed with work without the full backup in place over their objections, after sources say she was assured by Hitachi that a full backup was not necessary.
Salvaging the damaged data storage without a real backup in place takes even longer, the Sun storage expert explained. “The first thing to do is wheel in a big pile of new disk space, and copy the individual disks so there is a raw backup. This is like making a copy of a jigsaw puzzle one piece at a time. Then they would assemble the puzzle using the copied pieces, in case any pieces need to be re-made from the original.
So there. Sun appears to be saving Microsoft here. It’s not the culprit as the Microsoft crowd wishes to spin this. █
Summary: Intellectual agriculture increases dependence among farmers and makes the Gates Foundation even wealthier
IN OUR continued watch of the Gates Foundation we accumulate information about its investments, which are totally independent from charitable works but at the same time closely tied to them. One strand of activism from the Gates Foundation is to do with spreading food that depends upon United States patents. We covered some of the issues already, e.g. in:
Rather than repeat older observations and external references (we always strive to minimise repetition where cross-referencing is a possibility) we shall add two new posts from Glyn Moody, a journalist who is similarly interested in the impact of Monsanto — a company Gates promotes and invests heavily in.
Moody’s first post says that Monsanto is even worse than Microsoft.
Do genetically-modified seeds bring increased productivity? There seem doubts; but even assuming it’s true, Gates sets up a false dichotomy: one reason GMO seeds aren’t sustainable is because they are patented. That is, farmers *must* buy them year after year, and can’t produce their own seeds. It’s a situation that’s relatively easy to solve: make GMOs patent-free; do not place restrictions on their use; let farmers do what farmers have done for millennia.
And look, there you have it, potentially: productivity and sustainability. But we won’t get that, not because the idealistic environmentalist are blocking it, but because the seed industry wants farmers dependent on their technology, not liberated by it. It is sheer hypocrisy for a fan of patents to accuse environmentalists of being the obstacle to productivity and sustainability: that would be the industrial model of dependence, enforced by intellectual monopolies, and espoused by big companies like Monsanto, the Microsoft of plant software.
In another new post, Moody explains why taking perfectly acceptable farming and then taxing it using patents from the West is a recipe for disaster.
Good to see that I’m not a lone voice crying in the wilderness:
The continuing patenting of seeds, conventional plant varieties and animal species leads to far-reaching expropriations of farmers and breeders: farmers are deprived of their rights to save their seeds, and breeders are under strong limitations to use the patented seeds freely for further breeding. The patent holder controlls the sale of the seeds and the planting, decides about the use of herbicides and can even collect royalties at the harvest – up to the finished food product.
Our food security is increasingly dependent on a few transnational chemical and biotechnological companies.
The European Patent Office (EPO) has continuasly broadened the scope of patentability and undermined existing restrictions, in the interest of multinational companies.
This exactly parallels the situation with software patents, where the EPO is using every trick in the book to approve them; except it’s even worse.
People must remember that Monsanto is not in the business of helping people; it’s in the business of increasing shareholders’ value. Its stock surged sharply as a function of dependency in the developing world and it just happens to be the case that Bill Gates is a leading investor. █
Summary: Harsh words from “Mini-Microsoft” shortly before the marketing blitz peaks and the financial results arrive
Microsoft’s negative results (due tomorrow morning) will probably provide reason for more layoffs. Microsoft is still quietly sacking employees across the United States and a Microsoft employee, “Mini-Microsoft”, believes that the company needs to be reduced further in terms of scale. To say more about his blog post:
Mini-Microsoft giving up on Windows Mobile, getting iPhone
On the eve of the Windows 7 launch, the anonymous “Mini-Microsoft” employee blogger has resurfaced to offer his take on the state of the company, the new operating system, CEO Steve Ballmer, and more. It’s a mixed bag, but the part that stands out most is this: Mini is getting an iPhone. And he’s not happy about it.
As Comes vs Microsoft exhibits show us, many of the bad decisions come from the top, so it’s rarely the fault of programmers alone. But as long as they work for Microsoft they simply serve the interests of those who viciously attack the competition, violate rights, and break the law in the process. IDG has this new article about how companies can collapse from within.
The tipping point is when the organization and its leaders are Always Right, even when they’re wrong. The problem with overt self-confidence is that it creates a culture wherein the leaders have no responsibility towards the membership and the community-at-large. A organization that never says, “We were wrong. We will fix this. We will change our behavior to avoid the recurrence of this problem, and we will look for the cause” — whether that happens in a small open source project or at Microsoft or a [Pick a Famous Cult You Love To Hate] — will always crumble from within. Some companies and organizations learn the lessons of their arrogance — we could argue who ought to be on that list — and survive. But that, too, comes at a painful cost.
Summary: Adam Kapel says goodbye to Microsoft and moves to another company
MICROSOFT has suffered from major departures and layoffs recently. The latest reported departure (amongst other colleagues in this “aQuantive Exodus”) does not bode well for Microsoft on its special "party day", which already falls short of the standards set by Windows Vista’s launch in 2007.
The aQuantive brain drain continues. Two years after Microsoft gobbled up the Seattle online advertising powerhouse for $6 billion, top executives from the company continue to find employment elsewhere.
Summary: Headlines about Vista 7
Will home users pay that price? I’m betting they won’t. True, some Microsoft diehards will line up on October 22 to grab the first copies of Win 7, but most consumers will spot the price tag and walk away.
During this year’s WWDC, Apple took the time to talk up Snow Leopard, the successor to Mac OS X, but also made sure to talk about Windows. Apple’s Bertrand Serlet made a point to say that the company loves and is proud of Leopard, so to show that the next version built upon the previous one, the company called the operating system Snow Leopard. Serlet called Windows 7 “just another version” of Windows Vista, noting that the user still has to deal with DLLs, the registry, disk defragmenter, and so on. He emphasized that Microsoft has dug quite a big hole with Vista and is trying to get out of it with Windows 7, at which point the screen showed the rather harsh quote: “Vista has failed to catch on with mainstream computer users, while businesses have shunned it outright.” On top of that, he said that Windows 7 has “even more complexity” since it is “the same old tech as Vista” and is “just another version of Vista.”
Windows 7 starts out on the wrong foot
Although it’s too early to fully measure the impact Windows 7 will have on the third-party market, it’s already off to a bad start with its heavy-handed dismissal of third-party video codecs. Third-party codecs cooperate with video compression standards that Microsoft’s own video applications, such as Media Player, were heretofore loathe to support.
But Windows 7 adds some new codecs to Microsoft’s quiver, and where these collide with third-party products, you won’t be surprised who comes out on top.
Windows 7 preempts third-party codecs in Microsoft’s own applications, such as Media Player, by using its own embedded codecs whenever possible. This is a major change from XP and Vista operation, where users could override Microsoft codecs globally. Although users can circumvent Windows 7 codec usurpation with some effort, the process is not intuitive and decidedly less convenient than the old behavior.
Likewise, power users soon learn that their ability to hack Windows 7 to make it work the way they want is often limited by the closed, black-box nature of its proprietary code base. These users see how easy it is to custom-tailor Linux and even Mac OS X, and they feel that twinge of jealously. They want what these other platforms provide, and soon they find themselves coveting their neighbor’s OS.
The latest round of comments could further indicate that following the troubles of Windows Vista, competitors may be sensing blood in the water with Redmond’s latest efforts. The remarks from IBM and Salesforce.com come after Apple suggested that it would be gaining users following the release of Windows 7.
A few points that came to mind:-
* I don’t recall such a review of OSX Snow Leopard when it came out, BBC biased towards Microsoft?
* Will there be a similar review of other OS releases this month/year such as Ubuntu and others?
* Why focus so much on the touch elements if most computers don’t have a touch screen and it’s a ‘gimmick’. Perhaps it just makes good telly, even if it’s somewhat misguided
* No mention of the pain users will have upgrading
* No mention of the cost
* No mention of the fact that OSX is cheaper, instead focussing on the cost of Apple hardware. Isn’t this an OS review, not a hardware review. I’d bet that Sony touch screen Rory used isn’t exactly cheap
* ‘little community’ building Free Software you say Rory? Dismissive and unnecessarily Patronising
* ‘don’t want to bother with that sort of stuff’. I find many users don’t want to ‘bother’ with viruses, malware and broken software, but they do, on Windows
* Ubuntu isn’t ‘out next week’. The latest version is. Ubuntu has been around for 5 years (this week). What we’re doing is no different to Microsoft shipping a new release of Windows, and Apple shipping a new OSX. It just so happens ours is free
Rory, please feel free to come along to the Ubuntu Release Party next Thursday 29th in London, and you can meet some of the great people who help put Ubuntu together.
Microsoft is set to launch an advertising campaign promoting the security of Windows 7 that even its own executives admitted was less than sincere.
During the Windows 7 launch event in Sydney this morning (see photo gallery top right), journalists were shown a number of advertisements that will feature in an upcoming television campaign – including one touting the operating system’s security capabilities.
The advertisement in question features an elderly gentlemen with what looks to be his grandson. They are playing with a very grand toy castle and talking about IT security.
“A while back something just popped into my head: ‘My PC should have more security’,” said the grandfather. “Like 50-foot castle wall-type security. Next thing I know, whammo! There’s Windows 7. Now it keeps all my personal info safer and I don’t have to worry about bad stuff getting through. Victory is mine. How’s that for secure?”
“Don’t you worry that [the advert] might just be misleading a few people into not buying antivirus software?” Ross asked. “Because you’re still going to have to, aren’t you?”
Putt responded by saying consumers should get “more sincere guidance” from a third party.
When asked if whitelisting legitimate security products – so rogue security applications would be automatically blocked – was a possibility, Strathdee explained that this would be “an enormous amount of work” and is made more difficult in countries that have a large number of relatively unknown security vendors.
On the eve of Microsoft’s launch of Windows 7, the gloves are off in the fight for business customers. IBM today unveiled an all-out campaign to persuade U.S. companies, governments and organizations to finally break their Windows habit and make the switch to Linux.
Last month during LinuxCon, IBM and Canonical announced their Client for Smart Work initiative: a client package that runs Ubuntu and uses Eclipse and Lotus products to provide users with a solid client with the capability to connect to cloud-based services. The Smart Work client will run on netbooks, thin-clients, and smartphones.
Yesterday, IBM and Canonical announced availability of a cloud and Linux-based business desktop alternative for existing PCs or low cost netbooks.
The IBM Client for Smart Work package , which was first introduced in Africa last month, runs Canonical’s Ubuntu and IBM’s Lotus Symphony office suite, Lotus Notes e-mail or LotusLive iNotes for cloud based email and other social networking tools. It can be hosted on site or in a cloud based model.
Canonical, Red Hat, CSS Corp, Compariv, Midas Networks, Virtual Bridges and ZSL are among the selling the package.
So in the end, I think that focusing on pushing people to use Linux strictly on the merits of the OS is the wrong way to go about this. We should instead focus on the applications and what they can offer the end user, with Linux as the bonus prize. And if we can do that, we should see a lot more people converting over.
Phoenix Technologies continued the arms race in the pre-boot Linux shell market by signing a contract with Samsung Electronics to equip all of Samsung’s notebooks and netbooks with the Phoenix pre-boot environment.
The two companies did not indicate when Samsung would add the technology to its mobile products, however.
Labs Analysts Jason Brooks and Andrew Garcia found that Version 7 makes big strides on the Windows front with its new features, but that Linux is competitive by most counts.
On the same day of the first X Server 1.8 snapshot being released, Sun’s Alan Coopersmith who has been leading the X.Org 7.5 katamari release efforts has shared his thoughts going forward for X.Org 7.6. X Server 1.7.1 should be released by week’s end and X.Org 7.5 final should be out shortly thereafter. However, it’s not likely that X Server 1.8 will be greeted by X.Org 7.6.
The release announcement with source download links for this X Server 1.8 snapshot and the change-log can be found on the xorg mailing list.
As a homeschooling family, my wife and I are very involved in our children’s education and since we’re both a couple of nerds, much of our children’s education is done on the computer. I use Linux for work almost exclusively so I was a bit curious to see if there were any good children’s educational programs for Linux; it turns out that there are some very good ones and I’m going to discuss 3 of them today: Tux Paint, Tux Typing, and Tux of Math Command. Do you sense a theme developing here?
The Hulu Linux desktop client makes watching TV (and movies) a breeze. I am thrilled that Hulu has brought out a Linux client without making the Linux community wait as the Windows and Mac community enjoy it’s services.
AbiWord is a good solution if you need a word processing program, but don’t need an entire suite. It is light on system resources and with the plugins, has plenty of options for creating quality documents. It will save to several different types of document formats as well, which makes interchanging with MS Word or Open Office easy. It is also available in a portable version which is perfect for netbooks.
Did you ever want to fly a plane yourself, but lacked the money or ability to do so? Are you a real pilot looking to improve your skills without having to take off? Do you want to try some dangerous maneuvers without risking your life?
Nexuiz 2.5.1 is a tremendous improvement over old versions and a great standalone game overall. It has everything a young, violent mind needs – good, fast pace, mindless killing, lots of weapons, and graphics par excellence. Singleplayer has shaped up, offering new challenge to the players. The multiplayer mode is as fun as it has always been, quick and brutal.
Most people who use Linux for desktop use are well aware of the one of the largest issues facing the platform: Lack of commercial software. Now in most cases this is not an issue, no MS Office – use OpenOffice, no Internet Explorer – use FireFox. However one thing which there is currently no replacement for is gaming. Try as they might there are just not enough Open-Source game developers (or even closed-sourced ones) that bring the level of gaming quality, as of yet, to Linux that Windows enjoys.
I prefer Codeweavers to Cedega, come the end of the year I do not think I will be renewing my Cedega license Which of the two is right for you is your choice, I just hope my little comparison here may have presented you with some information on each of them you had not known before.
Alien Arena, an open source multiplayer game that combines retro and modern sci-fi themes, is now at version 7.32…
Registration for Camp KDE 2010 has officially opened! Check out the beautiful new web site at http://camp.kde.org and click on the Registration link to sign up. (Many thanks to Eugene Trounev for the graphics and Eugene and Leo Franchi for the site design).
There’s a lot of discussion about user experience around these days. That’s good, though sometimes the focus is kept on solving “big issues” and a lot of the small everyday type things get missed. Here are two things that I personally run into a bit too regularly that can be easily improved on and which really do help with the user experience.
In other words, the desktop morphs to the subjective preferences and personality of its user rather than trying to assume what most users want. If usability is to some extent in the eyes of the beholder, as I think it is, then such a desktop adapts to that reality and becomes a perfectly usable desktop not by the definition of a particular group of experts, but by the definition of the user standing in front of it.
If that’s the vision behind KDE 4, as it seems to be, then I think the potential is limitless. Of course, literal achievement of such a potential may be an unreachable ideal, at least with current technologies, but KDE 4 is making significant steps forward in that direction.
Fedora 12 will not see the light of day for a few more weeks still, but the first features for Fedora 13 are now known. On the Fedora Project Wiki is now the Fedora 13 feature list.
Fedora 12 beta has been released with a new set of features and improvements. Fedora 12 beta includes optimized performance, smaller and faster updates, NetworkManager improved, graphics support improvements, automatic crash reporting and SELinux issues, new Dracut initrd generation tool, PackageKit plugins, Bluetooth on-demand, Moblin graphical interface for netbooks, PulseAudio enhancements and much more. What’s you favorite feature or improvement included in this release?
The entire Debian kernel team assembled for a four day meeting at the annual Linux Plumbers Conference in Portland, Oregon, to set out the key features for the forthcoming version 6.0 (codename Squeeze) of the open source Linux distribution. As long as kernel development is not delayed, the Debian development team plan to use version 2.6.32 for the first release of Squeeze.
One of the ways in which many people have been able to experience Ubuntu is via Canonical’s ShipIt program, which has shipped millions of CDs to new users. This has provided a valuable opportunity for new users to try Ubuntu and for our community teams to obtain CDs as part of their advocacy efforts.
Inspite of all these variants, Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Xubuntu, Edubuntu and Ubuntu Studio are basically the same thing underneath the desktop environment. As a result of this even if you choose to use any one of these, you can just install another over it and have both of them so that you can choose which one you want to use. For example, if you are using Ubuntu, you can just install kubuntu-desktop and have both Ubuntu and Kubuntu. So the great thing about this is that it does not really matter which *buntu you start off with; you can always install another and have two or maybe more of them.
Dell is preparing an Android-based mobile Internet device (MID), according to two web sites. The Dell Streak is said to offer a five-inch WVGA touchscreen, WiFi, Bluetooth, and 3G connectivity, say the reports.
Texas Instruments (TI) announced two Linux-compatible, Cortex A8-based processors that are based on its OMAP35x SoCs, but aimed at the industrial market. The Sitara AM3505 and AM3517 run at 500MHz while using less than one Watt, include 10/100 Ethernet, support DDR2 memory, and offer CAN controllers, according to the company.
Google CEO Eric Schmidt stated emphatically during Google’s most recent earnings call that “Android adoption is about to explode.” We agree – despite developer hiccups, Android is about to have its moment in the sun. An avalanche of new devices are hitting worldwide markets, and some of them are serious contenders.
Earlier this year, we blogged about project Eyes-Free — a collection of Android applications that enable efficient eyes-free interaction with your mobile phone. Since then, one of the questions we have received most often is about a complete access API to enable general purpose adaptive technologies such as screenreaders.
We are happy to announce the first version of such an API as part of the latest Android release (Donut). This new API is now available within the Android 1.6 SDK , and we welcome developer feedback. The Android Access framework generates android.view.accessibility.AccessibilityEvent in response to user interaction events; the event payload contains additional details about the event, e.g., the user interface control that received focus. This access framework enables the creation of general purpose screenreading applications that make all of Android’s user interface, as well as native Android applications built with standard Android widgets usable without looking at the screen.
Android is no longer a contractual commitment. T-Mobile has launched Pulse: the UK’s first Android-based smartphone available on pay-as-you-go.
Apple, you’re paying attention, right? Enough with the “iTunes link” stuff. It’s annoying. And not everyone wants to install 100+Mb of software just so they can browse your virtual shelves. Palm beat you to the punch, but you can still prove you’re the king of the app store and get something similar online for us.
Since it launched in 2004, Firefox has chipped away at Internet Explorer’s market share and established itself as the world’s second most popular browser. But while attacks on open source still make Kapor’s blood boil, he suggests that the bigger picture indicates that resistance is futile.
“What’s remarkable is that nobody remarks on it, because a few years ago people were virtually pulling out their guns to shoot at each other – and now it’s a settled matter, as I read it.”
While Firefox is widely regarded as a huge success, Kapor warns that it is not actually the best example of the victory of open source. Instead, he suggests, the movement’s main achievement actually lies out of sight – amid the systems that underpin the web itself.
However, after fans of Blender donated over $100,000 to pay creditors to release the source code of Blender under the GNU General Public License, Ton created the non-profit Blender Foundation which actively develops Blender software as a completely free program.
I don’t think this blanket judgment is true. There have always been freeriders in Open Source communities, but the overall benefits of an Open Source community to an Open Source business always outweigh the community loss imposed by freeriders.
Gimplabels is about as easy as it gets; no guesswork is involved when creating the new image to the exact specifications required, and the script composes the sheet without your intervention — all you have to worry about is designing one label the way you want it.
Developer Snapshot build OOo-Dev DEV300_m62 which still installs as OOo-DEV 3.2 has been uploaded to the mirror network.
Mozilla has announced that it ‘s now officially endorsing the Web Open Font Format (WOFF) specification. The WOFF specification is a new web font format developed by Mozilla, Type Supply LettError and several other organisations.
Mozilla announced Tuesday that version 3.6 of Firefox, due by the end of the year, will support the new Web Open Font Format, or WOFF. Web authors will be able to include WOFF fonts in their page designs by linking to the font files in their code the same way they link to images and other downloadable files.
John Lilly, CEO of Mozilla, told technology blogger Om Malik that they will release an application for the iPhone a few weeks from now and that it will be “really exciting”. No further details have been said yet so we are left guessing.
Success for anything user-facing on the scale of Mozilla Thunderbird requires scalable approaches. One person, no matter how well qualified and efficient, can’t help everyone who may have issues (especially as many people come to us with questions that are really about their mail provider). So we need to look to systems and communities to help us help users.
At the Women in Free Software Summit and the Boston celebration of Software Freedom Day 2009, FSF kicked off a new video testimonial campaign. See how it went, and help support the campaign by submitting a video response to these questions!
FSFE: Microsoft’s neglect highlights value of Free Software
Microsoft’s latest operating system, Windows 7, is currently shipping with a potentially serious defect. Ahead of the product’s global launch on Thursday, Germany’s federal IT security agency (BSI) has issued a warning  about a high-risk vulnerability in the SMB2 protocol. This can be exploited over the network to shut down a computer with a Denial of Service (DoS) attack.
And finally there is the issue of promoting commercial activity around a Free Software technology segment based on an equal footing where all companies have the same starting position and none is more equal than others. This is something that I’ve been thinking of for quite some time now, starting from some initial thoughts in 1999 towards the idea of the GNU Business Network, and so were many others such as Simon Phipps who recently brought this back on the agenda.
So when I heard of the idea of combining all these aspects into a new kind of Free Software organization, I was intrigued, then curious, and quickly convinced to help bring this about. What followed were several weeks of rather frantic but highly rewarding activity.
The results of this work have just become visible with the re-launched web site of the Open Database Alliance, which has been incorporated as an association under Swiss law and also just launched its Weblog and Identi.ca channels.
Were those code bases run by foundations, as I suggested yesterday, this kind of thing would be both easier and much more natural. That’s clearly not going happen, at least in the short term, so it will be interesting to see how the ODBA goes about nurturing its ecosystem. In any case, it’s good to see open source companies working together, since ultimately they are all on the same side.
The open source Metasploit penetration testing framework has been acquired by a firm called Rapid7.
An ambitious new website that will open up government data to the public will launch in beta, or pilot, form in December.
Reams of anonymous data about schools, crime and health could all be included.
Al Jazeera has just launched the latest of its online project called Al Jazeera Blogs.
But… what happened now is that these studios (Fox, Universal and Warner Bros.) told not just the distributors (Ingram and Video Product Distribution) but also retailers like Best Buy and Wal-Mart to not sell to Redbox. That’s restraint of trade. The studios have every right not to sell videos to whomever they want — but those distributors and retailers can then sell to whomever they want. The studios should have no say in the downstream sales of the videos once they’ve been sold to the distributor, wholesaler or retailer. That’s where the antitrust issue is. The studios are successfully controlling downstream sales.
Google will soon launch a music service, we’ve heard from multiple sources, and the company has spent the last several weeks securing content for the launch of the service from the major music labels. One source has referred to the new service as Google Audio.
So there’s been a huge mess on; you probably all know about it by now. Bunch of unethical corporate cowboys, gang of lawyers, Byzantine (not to say Kafkaesque) legal proceedings obsessed with letter rather than spirit, left-wing newspaper fighting back by sticking to the letter of Parliamentary procedure and making the spirit do triple reverse somersaults.
Not my field, so I’m not going to comment further on that, but I have just read the Minton Report (PDF link) and have some comments to make about the chemistry involved.
Most of them are unrepeatable, but can be summarized as “they did WHAT? WHY? What the BLOODY HELL did they think they were doing?”
In short, they found a nice-looking process to refine their partially treated crude, decided that using an actual chemical plant and some sensible procedures was too much like work, churned all the stuff together in the hold of a ship, and then slung in some more caustic soda for good measure, presumably on the age-old pharmaceutical principle of “well, if a little bit is good for you, a lot must be much better, right?”. After that, they separated out the bit they wanted and threw away the rest.
The nomination of Mr. Southers has also been referred to the Committee on Homeland Security, which plans to hold its own confirmation hearing after it receives further background information from Mr. Southers, probably in late November.
So now there’s a project underway to analyze the code, which can’t make Sequoia very happy. But what may be even more interesting is that the folks hosting the code are suggesting that the way Sequoia buried its code in data files may violate federal election law concerning e-voting systems.
The Banksters have pulled off the biggest heist of all time. They have crashed the global economy, throwing 7.5 million Americans out of work, emptying retirement and college funds and forcing many into hardship and homelessness. Yet they continue to be rewarded with trillions of taxpayer dollars that underwrite their Bankster bonuses, they prey upon the vulnerable with ballooning bank fees and macabre investment schemes such as “death bonds” and their taxpayer-subsidized lobbyists swarm Capitol Hill to prevent the passage of any meaningful reform of the financial system.
“We have to tolerate the inequality as a way to achieve greater prosperity and opportunity for all,” Brian Griffiths, who was a special adviser to former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher, said yesterday at a panel discussion at St. Paul’s Cathedral in London. The panel’s discussion topic was, “What is the place of morality in the marketplace?”
Weekend drama: Formula 1, NFL, Sunday talk shows? Forget it: this weekend, the drama was in the econoblogsphere — where the new book SuperFreakonomics inspired a mass freak-out. Freakonomists Steven D. Levitt and Stephen J. Dubner’s chapter on climate change met furious charges of irresponsible journalism and deliberate contrarianism from economists, climate scientists, and journalists alike.
Those assumptions are what demand reinvention — not broader application. Economics needs fundamental reinvention — not trivialization. That’s going to take a new era of geeking out, getting philosophical, and re-examining the basic assumptions on which econ is founded. Freaking out is fun, but getting constructive is where the future of economics lies.
So, why do I care? Well, frankly, because I really enjoyed reading the original “Freakonomics” book. Dubner and Levitt are engaging writers, and they have a big audience. And that means they have a lot of influence. Part of me would like to ignore the problems with this new book, because it kind of comes across as an attention-grabbing ploy and I hate to bite the marketing stick. But, it’s factually wrong. They’re influential. And so their factual inaccuracies will enter into public debate as “fact”. And so I feel the need to make a big, damn long post about it.
The utter cluelessness and fatuity of the publishers’ response is breath-taking: the problem is that the rights-holders *cannot be found* – that’s why they’re called “orphans”. Demanding “due diligence” just misses the point completely.
At least this proves that publishers simply have no credible arguments against introducing an “exception” to use orphan works, for example in digitisation projects. And against their non-existent downside, the upside is just immense. Let’s hope the European Commission is beginning to understand this.
Trust is the new black, as I like to say. The great opportunity for news organizations is to constructively demonstrate trustworthy reporting, and to visibly do so.
News curation, that is, selecting what’s news and should be visible, that’s an equally big deal.
Back in 2003, I was the first writer to use a Creative Commons license in connection with a commercially published novel—my first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom (Tor) was released as a freely shareable e-book the same day it came out in stores. It’s now gone through several printings, has made me a fair bit of money, been widely translated—commercially and noncommercially—and it’s been followed by three more novels, including the New York Times bestseller Little Brother (Tor Teens, 2008), all of which are also available as free, remixable downloads. Two more novels are on their way on the same terms.
Ex-House GOP leader is firing up opposition to health care overhaul
Armey’s FreedomWorks organization has fired up grass-roots opposition to President Barack Obama’s health reform proposals, promoted town hall demonstrations and organized a giant anti-Obama D.C. march and rally in the nation’s Capitol. That has put the 69-year-old Armey right where he wants to be: in the middle of the fight for the same conservative principles that have animated him since he was a farmer’s son in South Dakota.
Politico is reporting that the financial services industry has lost about 600 registered lobbyists this year with the economic meltdown. But, the amount of money being spent on financial services lobbying is actually up from last year. So in general, the remaining bank lobbyists are actually making more money now, despite the crashed economy!
The two judiciary committees have had their say on the Performance Rights Act, and both moved the bill on toward the floor in their respective houses. The most immediate reaction in the aftermath is likely to be heightened lobby work from NAB and RIAA.
AT&T’s top lobbyist, Jim Cicconi, sent a letter to all of the telecom giant’s 300,000 employees on Sunday, urging them to express their concerns over a net neutrality proposal under consideration by the Federal Communications Commission. Check out his letter and comments on the Actuarian Outpost Web site.
Here is an example of them using subtle threats against a beverage review site for posting a picture of a product they were reviewing.
I’m sure the people at Continental Enterprises must be proud of their work. And I’m sure Monster Energy drink must feel that its money well spent.
This is a technology white paper written by an internet censorship company (“filter vendor”) about internet censorship system in many countries. The company, “Watxhdog International” is based in New Zealand and behind the censorship system used by New Zealand, parts of the UK and controversial ‘live pilot’ of the controversial mandatory ISP-level filtering in Australia. The latter trial is using the “ACMA” blacklist, three editions of which were released by WikiLeaks in critical articles. WikiLeaks was itself then added to the blacklist and became the subject of a police raid in Germany and Federal Police investigation in Australia.
I have found myself placed under that necessity in the last week. A member in good standing of the open-source community, one Beth Lynn Eicher, had sought and achieved the suppression of public speech by one Mikhail Kvaratskhelia, aka ‘mikeeeUSA’, aka serveral other aliases. When I first approached her privately on the matter, she refused to apologize or retract. In my judgment, she was committing a crime against our community’s future by setting a precedent which might one day reach to all of us.
Ms. Eicher has earned my respect for avoiding the harm of censorship, and my personal gratitude for navigating us both out of a collision neither of us wanted. And I hope her solution will indeed set a precedent that will enable us to never, ever advocate the suppression of public political speech, no matter how vile we find it.
On Thursday, Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Julius Genachowski is expected to unveil draft rules aimed at imposing network neutrality obligations on Internet Service Providers (ISPs). In the excitement surrounding the announcement, however, many have overlooked the fact that the this rulemaking is built on a shoddy and dangerous foundation – the idea that the FCC has unlimited authority to regulate the Internet.
Genachowski has announced that the draft regulations will require ISPs to abide by the “Four Freedoms” set forth in the FCC’s 2005 Internet Policy Statement, as well as the additional principles of nondiscrimination and transparency. EFF strongly believes in these six principles. Our work speaks for itself: we are developing software tools to Test Your ISP in the wake of uncovering Comcast’s meddling with BitTorrent traffic, seeking a DMCA exemption to let you run applications of your choice on your mobile phone, and fighting Hollywood’s efforts to force DRM restrictions into your television.
A proposal by the motion picture industry to use “selectable output control” to hobble the functions of set top boxes won’t stop movie theft but will harm consumers, Public Knowledge told the Federal Communications Commission
Yesterday, a federal court tossed a lawsuit against craigslist over erotic advertisements. In March, Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart alleged that craigslist was liable for the illegal ads posted by its users in its “erotic services” (now “adult services”) category. As craigslist argued in their motion for judgment on the pleadings, and as EFF and others pointed out at the time, Dart’s complaint had virtually no chance of success because Section 230 of the Communications Decency Act plainly immunized Internet intermediaries like craigslist from civil liability for material posted by third parties.
This evening, the Director of National Intelligence and the Department of Justice filed yet another emergency motion with the Ninth Circuit, asking for a stay of the deadline to release telecom immunity lobbying documents, less than 24 hours before the documents are due to be released to the public.
Our friends over at JKOnTheRun, who evaluate a whole lot of mobile devices, have pronounced that Barnes & Noble’s $259 Nook is so good it “knocks the Kindle to the curb.” It has a 6-inch E-Ink screen that is augmented with a small color LCD touchscreen at the bottom. The Nook has free 3G via AT&T which is used to shop for and download books to the reader, and it can be synced with other devices. (It does not have a browser, though.)
It’s a classic “race to the bottom”, where the bottom is total openness: see you there, Amazon.
A report accidentally published on the Internet provides insight into a secretive European Union surveillance project designed to monitor its citizens, as reported by Wikileaks earlier this month. Project INDECT aims to mine data from television, internet traffic, cellphone conversations, p2p file sharing and a range of other sources for crime prevention and threat prediction.
Virtually everything imaginable is covered, most in great detail. A few topics were not covered in detail, such as creating alternate identities, or trusts and financial instruments, since the information tends to go out of date rapidly, or would require their own books, or might be illegal to even talk about (in the supposed land of the free). So it is not a complete how-to, but it is nearly complete.
ChoicePoint, one of the nation’s largest data brokers, has been fined $275,000 by the U.S. Federal Trade Commission for a data breach that exposed personal information of 13,750 people last year.
This is another good point that highlights the separation between price and value — which too many falsely assume are the same thing. There were also a significant number of people who said they paid because they liked the “pay what you want model, and wanted to support it.” So they were paying to support the model, rather than the game itself, which is interesting. I wonder if that component would fade over time as these sorts of models become more popular.
Here’s something of a climbdown to warm the hearts of pirated content fans everywhere: the government has signaled it is to add safeguard measures to Lord Mandelson’s controversial P2P disconnection plans and will give accused illegal file-sharers the right to appeal against disconnection.
Jeremy Nicholas, a British TV reporter, was told that he wasn’t allowed to bring his laptop into a Cineworld movie theater because the chain had taken the advice of FACT (The Federation Against Copyright Theft) and banned computers from cinemas “to prevent piracy.” The cinema had no facility for securely storing laptops — which are worth thousands in and of themselves and often contain crucial and invaluable private and commercial information — and suggested that he leave the laptop in his car in the unguarded parking lot.
The Government continues to post copyright consultation submissions (still lots to go one month after the consultation concluded) with many making for interesting reading. Access Copyright’s submission is worth noting for two reasons. First, rather than simply arguing against flexible fair dealing, it argues that the current fair dealing provision as interpreted by the Supreme Court of Canada is actually too broad.
Webcasters and satellite radio pay the music labels for the songs they play, but not radio. The Performance Rights Act could change that, and it’s now ready for a vote in both chambers of Congress.
Shakira, Norah Jones and Nelly Furtado have added their weight to the ongoing crisis in the music industry about whether or not fans should be able to listen to music for free.
When asked about Allen’s recent outburst on the subject Shakira insisted she embraced the inevitable sharing of her songs.
“I like what’s going on because I feel closer to the fans and the people who appreciate the music,” she explained.
“It’s the democratisation of music in a way, and music is a gift. That’s what it should be, a gift.”
Songwriter Norah Jones agreed she was less concerned about illegal downloads than others but conceded she was in a better place than some smaller artists might be.
One of the sad things about the current mess in the music industry is that artists are too often pitted against fans, when in fact both want the same thing: good music in a convenient format at a fair price.
Members of Congress, already bruised by the struggles over the health care overhaul, had better get ready for another bitter fight, this time over the future of the music business.
Record companies and radio stations are battling over a legislative proposal, called the Performance Rights Act, that would require broadcasters to pay royalties to air recorded music.
The appeals in the Pirate Bay copyright trial have been pushed back from November to next summer amid controversy surrounding some of the judges involved in the case.
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