To use your own IRC client, join channel #boycottnovell in FreeNode.
To use your own IRC client, join channel #boycottnovell in FreeNode.
I’m amazed at all the technical people living here in Lawrence, Kansas, so I’ve decided to do a series of interviews to highlight what our small college town has to offer the international tech community. Recently I sat down with local author Stephen Figgins at a coffee shop to talk about what’s new in the latest release of the popular Linux in a Nutshell book.
1. Linux 2,524 43%
2. Mac OS X 1,174 20%
3. Windows XP 1,101 19%
4. Unknown 415 7%
5. Windows Vista 371 6%
6. Windows 7 168 3%
7. iPhone OSX 38 <1%
PlayOnLinux 3.7, the latest version of PlayOnLinux is now available.
WINE is the reimplementation of the windows API for Linux/Unix operating systems. WINE allows you to run some applications on Linux that does not have Linux support or installers ie: Office 2007, World of Warcraft and many others. This is not a how-to but more a idea of what is going around and what its all about. WINE is the underlying technology for all the above applications. But lets face it, this was made so we could run the nice Microsoft games on our Linux distros. I for one love to game and I really would like to have more games written for Microsoft and Linux. I can’t figure out what the big deal is as most games are written in C++ and could be compiled for any OS type.
Bioinformatics, as defined by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (BCBI), is the field of science in which biology, computer science, and information technology merge into a single discipline.
Bioinformatics is being used largely in the field of human genome research by the Human Genome Project, which has been determining the sequence of the entire human genome (about 3 billion base pairs) and is essential in using genomic information to understand diseases. It is also used largely for the identification of new molecular targets for drug discovery.
Even Linux’s advocates are unthrilled at one of its sticking points: binaries built for one breed of Linux don’t always run on another. And since unifying Linux into a common distribution is about as likely as herding a circus ring full of cats into a clown car, people who want to distribute prebuilt binaries for Linux have few choices. Here’s a new choice: FatELF, or universal binaries for Linux.
The KDE developers have announced the availability of the third update to KDE 4.3. The maintenance release for the free open source K Desktop Environment (KDE) includes several bug fixes and translation updates. In addition to several fixes, the release features a number of improvements, such as smoother KWin window effects, improved stability in the JuK audio player and changes to KDE PIM .
KDE 4.4 is scheduled to be released in early February of 2010 as the six-month feature update to KDE4 and now its feature plan has surfaced. KDE 4.4 is poised to pickup a number of exciting new features along with various bug-fixes and other updates. Below is a list of some of the KDE 4.4 features that caught our attention.
Plasma Netbook’s chief virtue is its simplicity. Although a so-called intuitive interface does not exist, Plasma Netbook should be straightforward enough that anyone who uses computers regularly should be able to navigate its desktop with only a few minor stumbles.
On October 29th the NLUUG held their second conference this year (the first, held in the spring, focused on file systems). With over 200 visitors and talks by 19 speakers, all prominent in their respective fields, this conference was of particularly high quality. This is surely emphasized by the location and surroundings and the excellent organization. Read on for a short impression on the conference, which was attended by several KDE community members.
After the last talk there was time to put some of the above recommendations into practice and have a few beers together. There was also handing out of prizes and some fun. At the end, attendees agreed the topics were interesting and, as cloud computing is an area where the FOSS world lags behind a bit, the discussions about ownership of data, privacy and security will hopefully result in more awareness on the issues with the current ‘Walled Gardens’.
Yesterday I was hit by the idea of putting KRunner at the top of the screen and making it ‘slide in’ when called up. The “floating dialog” just wasn’t doing it for me anymore and so I went ahead and implemented this to see what it would feel like. After working out various kinks, I have to say that I really like it. So I decided to do a quick screencast showing KRunner in action at the top of the screen for you to watch and then, hopefully, offer some feedback on it. It’s even better if you can try it out yourself by building from SVN trunk, of course, but I know not everyone can or will do that. If the reactions are generally positive, this will be the default for 4.4.
One pretty long task of plasma themes is to manually rename all the SVG sub elements with the proper names. Let’s say we want to theme a button, we will need a SVG file with the following elements: normal-top, normal-topleft, normal-left, normal-bottomleft, normal-bottom, normal-bottomright, normal-right, normal-topright and normal-center.
For ages, I’ve been using Google Picasa to manage and tweak photos I took with my point-and-shoot cameras. Its editing tools are pretty limited, and the Linux version is just a not-so-pretty port that runs in Wine. When I moved to a DSLR camera these and other limitations became even more apparent. So when Google released Picasa 3.5 for Windows, leaving Linux users behind with the older 3.0 release, I decided that it was time to move on. After testing different photo editing and management applications for Linux, I settled for digiKam.
The Amarok project has joined the Software Freedom Conservancy. This move allows donors to give tax-deductible donations, and it increases the transparency in the spending of Amarok’s funds. This greatly helps us to be more efficient, and focus on what we really do best: Creating kick-ass software. At the same time, we stay fully committed to the KDE project! Amarok is, and will always stay, a fully committed project under the KDE umbrella. We have coordinated this move with the KDE e.V. board, who approves of our endeavors.
Developer Nanni Bassetti has announced the release of version 1.0 of the Computer Aided INvestigative Environment (CAINE) Linux live distribution. CAINE and NetBookCAINE (NBCAINE) provide a complete digital forensic environment that’s organised to integrate existing software tools as software modules and to provide a simple graphical user interface (GUI).
It’s been over two years since Vector Linux 5.8 was released, and a lot can happen in that time. But what specifically is that? And has all that extra time allowed Vector to improve and grow and become a distribution to be reckoned with? Let’s find out.
Overall I like Vector Linux 6. It’s fast, reasonably easy to setup and administer, and system speed is good overall. Would I recommend Vector? Yes, I would, absolutely. It’s a good system, especially for those who like to go lean and mean with their setup, and for those who prefer speed over features.
Other than those previously mentioned, very few if any other problems emerged while using GoblinX so far. In addition, KDE 4 on GoblinX performs rather well, even on a system with only 512 megabytes of RAM. Whereas GoblinX may not be “install and go” to some standards, it gives the user the choice to use proprietary code other distros may take away. GoblinX is simply a nice distribution derived from a solid code base that offers the user even something better than choice – something different. And these days, anything different is good.
But there’s some good things that are going to come out of it – I am going to fork the Gentoo GRUB package, which needs quite a bit of love. It’s time to get GPT partitioning documented properly and grub-1.97 supported offiicially as it is in Ubuntu. So expect to see some things related to that soon.
I’m very pleased to say that Mandriva 2010 is now out! Checkout What’s New! Also see the Release Notes and Errata.
Myself and the rest of the Mandriva Developers and Contributors have put in a lot of work this time round. I’m pretty happy with the PulseAudio->Phonon integration work I did for KDE which builds on our previous approaches which were not quite as functional (although did at least hide potential configuration problems from users unlike on some distros! (for which the usual “solution” was a urpme/yum remove/apt-remove pulseaudio rather than actually finding the real cause!)
eWEEK Labs’ tests show that Fedora 12 will provide the latest and greatest versions of popular open-source applications, as well as features that strengthen not only Fedora but also Linux distributions in general
CentOS has not received much attention here on Ghacks, so I thought I would remedy that by introducing this outstanding flavor of Linux not by way of a Live CD (CentOS does have a Live CD, but you can not install from that CD), but by way of traditional means. Because of this you will have tutorial. But first, a little history (which might divulge reason for you to use CentOS).
Ubuntu has improved since I last tried it. It is steadily becoming more polished and user friendly for non-technical users, though this comes at a price for those who are already familiar with Linux.
Its installation process is emblematic of this. Although it’s quick and very easy, the install sequence doesn’t include some steps and options that enable a knowledgeable user to configure a Linux distribution right from the start. These include some disk partitioning options, setting up networking interfaces, marking services active or inactive, specifying boot loader configuration options and setting up security controls and monitoring. Adding some optional installation steps to let experienced users make such configuration adjustments would be an improvement, I believe.
Overall, although Ubuntu appears well polished on the surface, it doesn’t have the solid feel, depth of integration and finesse that one can discern in some other Linux distributions such as Mandriva, with which I’m more familiar. Perhaps my opinion might change after I get more used to working with Ubuntu, but for now I still like Mandriva better.
If all goes according to plan, Ubuntu 10.10 will sport Gnome 3, which represents a radical overhaul of Ubuntu’s default graphical user interface in the form of Gnome Shell, when it debuts a year from now. In order to get a taste of what this desktop of the future will look like, I’ve spent the last few days using the development version. Here’s what I’ve found.
Gnome has been around now for a decade, and its approach to the desktop hasn’t changed remarkably in that time. Gnome 1.x doesn’t differ in any fundamental way from the 2.2x versions available in the latest Ubuntu releases. Traditional Gnome also behaves similarly to the interfaces of most proprietary operating systems.
We expect this more conservative policy for package syncing will enable us to prepare a more stable long-term support release. The cost of this approach is that not only regressions will be delayed from reaching Lucid – bugfixes uploaded to Debian unstable will be delayed too (packages uploaded to Debian unstable normally don’t reach Debian testing for at least 10 days).
A large chunk of Timelord will land in Kubuntu 10.04 LTS. The more dramatic changes will be targeted at Kubuntu 10.10.
To sum up, Ubuntu 9.10 is a head turning, impressive Linux distribution that is built on the great progress that has been made by all of the contributors to Ubuntu, Debian (on which Ubuntu is based) and all of the upstream projects that make up Ubuntu over the last few years. The new design is superb, Ubuntu One shows a lot of promise and the new remix options offer exciting new computing experiences. There has never been a better time to try out Ubuntu, or to give it another go if you had a less than wonderful experience in the past.
I’ve listed the three OSes in the order of their evolutionary development: First came Ubuntu Netbook Remix (released June 2008), followed by the current version of Moblin (released October 2009) and lastly, the currently-in-alpha Jolicloud.
The program has been tested on an Eee PC 901, but there’s a good chance it should work with other Intel Atom powered netbooks running Ubuntu 9.10. Have you tried it on other Asus Eee PC models or other netbooks yet? Share your experiences in the comments.
PCS ARE MORPHING into netbooks, according to the Associated Press after consulting the season’s computer trends.
Sun’s Zettabyte File System (ZFS) now has built-in deduplication, making it probably the most space-efficient file system there is.
IBM’s Bob Sutor has a good post up discussing advice for those who want to start an open source business. There are more and more open source startups arriving, but Sutor says “I’ve been very surprised as I’ve looked around the web that there don’t seem to be very many good guides about the nuts and bolts of starting an open source business.” He lists seven pieces of advice for those who have an open source business in the works, and here are some of our posts that can help you follow the advice.
“Brazilian elections went electronic many years ago, with very fast results but a few complaints from losers, of course. Next month, 10 teams that accepted the challenge will have access to hardware and software (Google translation; original in Portuguese) for the amount of time they requested (from one hour to four days). Some will try to break the vote’s secrecy and some will try to throw in malicious code to change the entered votes without leaving traces.”
OB: Was Qi Hardware conceptualised from the beginning as an Open Source project, and could you describe what openness means specifically in the case of hardware?
SM: Yes Qi Hardware was conceptualized from the start as an Open Source project. The founders of Qi have spent the last 2 years working together at Openmoko on the open phone project so the benefits and challenges of open source are well know to us. On the hardware side we are going to create a new kind of hardware, CopyLeft hardware. Today you can join as a Qi developer and get access to the hardware design files as well as participate in creating the roadmap.
Although I do most of my professional writing in Bluefish, I usually use OpenOffice.org at least once a day. Consequently, I keep a close eye on the OpenOffice.org Extensions page.
When it comes to Linux, or more generally FOSS (Free and Open Source Software), there are two major factions. There is the Free Software faction and the Open Source faction. The Free faction has a different ultimate goal from the Open Source faction even though they, to the outside viewer, may seem the same. Not everybody subscribes to the mandates of one faction or the other. In fact some of us can emphatically disagree with the methods and mandates of the leaders.
Yet even though we disagree, even though we may find their actions and methods detrimental to the FOSS movement, we still choose to participate in FOSS. Why is that? Personally, for me, it is because it gives me control over my computer. I have the freedom to decide how my computer should run and I have the freedom to express my individuality with it (yes even Borgs are people too :). I also do not agree to having to use my computer under conditions dictated by those who’s only goal is to make money and control my computer through forced upgrades and invasive audits.
Yahoo! has open sourced the back-end software platform that underpins the company’s webmail client and countless other applications offered up across its sweeping web portal.
Known as Traffic Server, the platform handles general edge caching, edge processing, and load balancing at Yahoo!, but it’s also used to manage traffic on the company’s internal storage and server-virtualization services.
It’s not only “homogeneous”, it’s based almost entirely on open source software (as far as we can tell), with all that this implies for robustness. So, to that extent, it’s probably true that for many companies, the server side of cloud computing is indeed relatively safe. But if they’re still using Windows with all its vulnerabilities to access those servers, much of that security is squandered. Perhaps that’s why Google is coming out with its Linux-based Chrome operating system…
Mozilla continued to rise going from 27.8% in March to 28.4% in September, while Opera remained stable at about 2.2%.
Representatives of the open source Mozilla project where pleasantly surprised this week, discovering that the city of Munich is making far more use of their software.
The first official Mozilla Firefox 3.6 Beta release is now available, bringing with it a whole bunch of improvements to the open source web browser. It’s also (to my naked eye) missing a few features that I had initially expected to see in Firefox 3.6.
“One of the defining characteristics of the Chrome experience is speed,” O’Grady explained, and “the Mozilla folks have done a good job of responding to that, both in Firefox 3.5 and 3.6,” he said. “Both versions are noticeably quicker.”
Indeed, even Firefox 3.5 is more than twice as fast as Firefox 3, Mozilla says, and 10 times as fast as Firefox 2.
Mozilla has also been continuing to build out user enhancements, O’Grady added, “ranging from the aesthetic — such as personas, where you can reskin the user interface — to the more subtle, but potentially more significant.”
As an example of the latter, O’Grady cites the Ubiquity plug-in, which is integrated in the new release and makes the browser “more programmatically accessible,” he explained.
Mozilla has announced the availability of the first Firefox 3.6 beta release. Ars tests the new version, which introduces support for fullscreen video and lightweight theming.
My three laptops have relatively comparable hardware and run Chrome on Windows, Mac, and Linux respectively. The Linux version of Chrome feels ridiculously faster than Windows and Mac. Do we understand why this is? Can we make Windows and Mac feel that fast too?
1) Scroll performance is extremely good. Even on Gmail, I can only get the mouse to lead the scroll bar by a dozen pixels. On Slashdot, it doesn’t even look like I can do that.
2) Tab creation is very fast. Maybe the zygote is helping here? Can we pre-render the NTP on other platforms?
3) Startup time is faster than calculator.
More people will get a chance to try out bookmark synchronization with Monday’s release of a beta version of Google Chrome for Windows.
Firefox 4 is not due for release for more than a year but Mozilla has released a mockup of what it will look like.
Great new !fsf homepage! http://www.fsf.org/ thanks to @cure & @mattl !gnu !linux !ubuntu !gentoo !freesoftware
The Inverse Team [External] is pleased to announce the immediate availability of SOGo 1.1.0. This is a major release of SOGo which focuses on new features, improved stability and which includes many bug fixes ad several small enhancements over previous versions.
Much has been written for librarians about copyright law. Despite the importance of the public domain, it has attracted much less scholarly attention than has copyright law generally, and yet a healthy and robust public domain is crucial to our society. It provides the building blocks for authors, composers, artists and movie makers who can borrow from public domain works without seeking permission of copyright owners. Unfortunately, the public domain is under attack from expanding the term of copyright, to making it more difficult for works to enter the public domain in the United States. Some librarians have asked if vigorous application of fair use cannot substitute for the shrinking public domain. It cannot. Fair use is a defense to copyright infringement and is very fact determinate. A court’s finding of fair use applies only to the two parties to the litigation while the public domain is available to everyone from individual users of works, to artists and authors and to publishers and producers. It is crucial that the public domain be energetically defended. Today, it is not clear whether an author can even place his or her work in the public domain since copyright attaches automatically. A statutory method must be developed for authors to place their works in the public domain.
The Association of American Universities yesterday posted a series of documents relating to a previously-unpublicized effort by the U.S. House Committee on Science and Technology.
The international Confederation of Open Access Repositories (COAR) was launched in Ghent on 21 October, during Open Access Week 2009. The aim of the organisation is the networking of over 1000 global scientific repositories comprising peer reviewed publications under the principle of Open Access. This will be achieved by means of common data standards and the co-ordination of scientific research policy development. Coinciding with the sixth anniversary of the Berlin Declaration to provide free and unrestricted access to sciences and human knowledge representation worldwide, COAR takes responsibility for the execution of this vision in bringing together scientific repositories in a wider organisational infrastructure to link confederations across continents and around the globe in support of new models of scholarly communication.
While colleges can be a great place to build up your knowledge of technologies of all kinds, real world experience and free learning resources on the web can do a pretty good job of showing you the ropes as well. Here are 100 free resources to help you hone your techie skills and learn more about the ever-changing world of technology.
Some of the most beautiful artistic treasures created during the millennium we refer to in the Western world as the Dark Ages are books — usually of a religious nature, they were transcribed by hand in sumptuously precise calligraphy, illuminated with wonderfully colorful and imaginative borders, and graced with elegant inset illustrations that were themselves jewels of inspiration, meticulously set down with pen, brush and burnisher in inks, tempera and gold leaf on laboriously stretched and scraped sheets of parchment. When complete, these beautiful pages were bound in volumes large and small, from enormous folios that were easily read in the pulpits of candlelit cathedrals, to breviaries that nestled comfortably in the pocket of a monk’s cassock. Lovingly preserved through many centuries, they are as wonderful to observe today as they were when they were fresh from the standing desks of the monks who gave them birth.
RepRap (replicating Rapid-prototyper) is a 3D printer and it is impeccably free and open source under both the GPL and the Creative Commons Licence. It’s early days but the implications and the promise are potentially enormous in their own right — but the fact that it is resolutely not proprietary is what caught my attention.
I’m still not going to talk about my attack on the forge infrastructure problems quite yet; the software is coming along nicely, but I intend to announce only after it handles its fourth forge type (yes, that was a tease). But I will say this: I now think I know what the future of forges looks like. It’s called Roundup, and it is astonishingly elegant and potentially more powerful than anything out there. Anything, not excluding the clever decentralized systems like Fossil or Bugs Everywhere.
I wrote a greasemonkey script called Theoratube that connects to the Firefogg extension. It’s based very heavily on the really great Youtube without Flash Auto user script that lets you embed videos as a plug-in. But in my case I decided to use native Theora and HTML5 video because it’s more reliable, has controls and doesn’t require any additional software to start working.
How does it work? It pulls down the video, uses Firefogg to transcode it, and then stuffs it back into the browser via a private URL. It’s slow because it has to pull + encode the entire video, but it works surprisingly well for something that is as hacky as it is.
In the land of IT, the one thing you can count on is a slick vendor presentation and a whole lot of hype. Eras shift, technologies change, but the sales pitch always sounds eerily familiar.
In virtually every decade there’s at least one transformational technology that promises to revolutionize the enterprise, slash operational costs, reduce capital expenditures, align your IT initiatives with your core business practices, boost employee productivity, and leave your breath clean and minty fresh.
Soda-pop makers courting medical groups. Potato-chip producers curling up with dietitians. Beer companies linking arms with traffic-safety advocates.
These marriages of convenience have become an increasingly common part of corporate America. That leaves consumers and government regulators wondering if we can trust all the advice coming from organizations that buddy up with industry.
The Justice Department invoked the state secrets privilege Friday to try to stop a lawsuit over Bush-era wiretapping – the first time the Obama administration has done so under its new policy on such cases.
Attorney General Eric Holder announced the decision in a California lawsuit challenging the warrantless wiretapping program begun after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.
Under the state secrets privilege, the government can have a lawsuit dismissed if hearing the case would jeopardize national security.
President Barack Obama received a great deal of media attention on Wednesday for signing a historic hate-crimes bill into law. But, on the same day, the US president also signed a Homeland Security spending bill that received far less attention, even though it effectively blocks efforts by activists to reveal photos of detainee abuse in US custody.
More than 90,000 innocent people have been added to the national DNA database since a landmark human rights ruling that keeping indefinitely the profiles of unconvicted suspects was illegal, according to new figures.
USDA and the Vermont Agency of Agriculture have suspended operations at the Bushway Packing plant in Grand Isle, VT, a facility that processes veal calves, pending a continuing investigation based on abuses uncovered by the Humane Society.
At the ASPO conference in Denver, October 2009, I had the good fortune to meet Stoneleigh, former editor of The Oil Drum Canada, who left the The Oil Drum crew with colleague Ilargi to set up The Automatic Earth where they publish stories, news and analysis of the unfolding financial crisis. I spent a couple of days chatting with Stoneleigh where she recounted her rather gloomy prospects for the immediate future of the global economy.
Time magazine’s cover story this week titled “What’s Still Wrong with Wall Street,” by Allan Sloan, is a remarkable indicator of where the public stands on the recent obliteration of the economy by a gang crooked financiers and speculators. It shows that even the corporate media is now making the connection that millions of Americans have already made, namely, that a criminal gang of rich white guys in New York did some extremely reckless things with the nation’s collective wealth and the middle class got clobbered.
McClatchy is out with an incredibly important series on Goldman Sachs, the first two parts of which have gone up already, that raises questions about whether Goldman committed securities fraud at a massive level. I am guessing the next three parts of this series are going to be really explosive as well.
If there’s one guy in the Obama administration that I really can’t stomach, it has to be Timothy Geithner. What qualifies him to be Secretary of Treasury anyway? Is it because he has spent his life coddling up to the most powerful men on Wall Street?
Well then…perhaps Geithner and the Fed were so irresponsible with taxpayer money that they should not be trusted to negotiate for their constituents. If the best defense of Geithner anyone can offer is *he got stared down by Goldman and gave them billions of dollars for nothing* do we really want this guy as Secretary of the Treasury?
When California wildfires ruined their jewelry business, Tony Becker and his wife fell months behind on their mortgage payments and experienced firsthand the perils of subprime mortgages.
The couple wound up in a desperate, six-year fight to keep their modest, 1,500-square-foot San Jose home, a struggle that pushed them into bankruptcy.
The lender with whom they sparred, however, wasn’t the one that had written their loans. It was an obscure subsidiary of Wall Street colossus Goldman Sachs Group.
Goldman spent years buying hundreds of thousands of subprime mortgages, many of them from some of the more unsavory lenders in the business, and packaging them into high-yield bonds. Now that the bottom has fallen out of that market, Goldman finds itself in a different role: as the big banker that takes homes away from folks such as the Beckers.
Theirs is an infrequent happy ending among the hundreds of cases in which subsidiaries of Goldman, better known for sending top officers such as Paulson to serve in top Washington posts, have sought to contain bondholder losses by foreclosing on properties and evicting delinquent borrowers.
Was the risk that Goldman hedged with AIG as bad as Goldman Sachs Alternative Mortgage Products’ GSAMP Trust 2006-S3? Any risk manager worth their salt would have reasonable doubt about this deal and conduct a fraud audit. A fraud audit doesn’t mean you are accusing anyone of fraud, only that the audit will be thorough, because there are indications of grave problems. If there is fraud, however, the audit should be rigorous enough to uncover it.
The firm tells McClatchy reporters it had no duty to tell those investors about what it thought was going to happen to the housing market. Check out the report and see if you agree.
In 2006 and 2007, the upper echelons at Goldman Sachs (NYSE: GS) realized that a fall in housing prices is imminent. Did they tell their investors not to buy securities backed by home mortgages? No; CEO Lloyd Blankfein does not think they have a duty to be honest, and tell people “how they manage risk.” So they peddled over $40 billion worth of securities backed by over 200,000 risky home mortgages.
Citigroup and the three other firms that either merged into or became commercial banks — Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley, and Merrill Lynch — showed signs that “a bank run was indeed taking place” on Oct. 10, 2008, days before the Paulson plan was announced, Veronesi and Zingales wrote.
A California couple close to losing their home found that Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs was the company behind their subprime mortgage and was trying to take away their home.
As CIT goes bankrupt and Treasury Secretary Geithner warns today that the “damage caused by this crisis” will “take some time” to repair, a key Wall Street player has managed to weather the storm at the expense of an unwary, drenched public.
Meanwhile, after raking in more than $23 billion of taxpayer money (most of it funneled from the AIG bailout), Goldman is repaying the $10 billion it received directly to escape federal limits on $20 billion in bonuses it wants to pay executives from more than $50 billion in expected revenue this year.
In these rainy days for the American economy, there is one place on Wall Street where everybody is staying very dry.
Three new high-street banking chains are expected to be created by the government by splitting up Royal Bank of Scotland and Lloyds Banking Group, it emerged last night.
A few days before the start of this year’s Melbourne International Film Festival its executive director received an “audacious” telephone call.
An official from China’s consulate in the city called him to “urge” the festival to withdraw a film about the Chinese activist Rebiya Kadeer.
If you think I’m going to talk about the moral, legal, financial, and political implications of using software not according to various license agreements set by money-loving companies, you’re wrong. This article is not about the subtle use of the word piracy, which is all about plunder, robbery and violence, with the somewhat foggy misuse of software in the free world of Internet. This article is not about big corporations and their draconian use of capital to squash competition and choke technological advancements. This article has nothing to do with digital piracy.
There aren’t many journalists walking away from paying jobs these days. With news organizations struggling and newsroom jobs disappearing, each week brings new calls from writers and editors who believe their flagging employers should save themselves by charging for Internet access.
So count Saul Friedman a contrarian twice over.
Mr. Friedman, who had written a column for Newsday since 1996, quit last week over the paper’s decision to require some readers to pay for access to its Web site.
CEO David Gilbertson told us in an interview that all websites in the Inform division (19 business magazines including Construction News, Retail Week and Drapers) will stop giving away free news and instead start bundling web access in with subscription packages. There’s no exact timeframe, though the process has been one year in the making. Retail Week will start on November 13.
On the whole, this sounds like someone decided they wanted to “help out” the major media companies, but without anyone putting much thought into the actual details or inevitable consequences of such a law. A more cynical person might suggest that this proposal is really designed to gain the current ruling party a bit of support from the mainstream press in Germany…
CBS’s 60 Minutes has made itself out to be more of a laughingstock than usual when it comes to “investigative reporting,” putting on an episode about “video piracy” that is basically 100% MPAA propaganda, without any fact checking or any attempt to challenge the (all MPAA connected) speakers, or to include anyone (anyone!) who would present a counterpoint. The episode is funny in that it contradicts itself at times (with no one noticing it) and gets important (and easily checked) facts wrong. And, of course, it basically mimics that old episode that history has shown to have been totally (laughably) false.
People who illegally download music from the internet also spend more money on music than anyone else, according to a new study. The survey, published today, found that those who admit illegally downloading music spent an average of £77 a year on music – £33 more than those who claim that they never download music dishonestly.
As Mandelson shows his sheriff’s badge to the net’s bad guys, who’s making money from the web and whose well has run dry?
Q28 Mr Watson: Has the music industry estimated how much it will cost industry to police the system with the suspension system?
Not long ago, if you wanted music, you had to save up your pocket money, take a trip to the local record shop and lovingly leaf through its racks.
Now, it’s almost all free, instant and infinite. And our relationship with music has changed forever.
I use the free version of the music streaming application Spotify almost every day – and I now understand that it represents a genuine revolution in music consumption (and makes iTunes look pathetically old-fashioned).
It has become lamentably common for courts to issue preliminary injunctions in copyright cases once rights holders have shown a reasonable likelihood of success on the merits without going on to require them to prove that they will suffer irreparable harm unless the injunction issues. Harm is too often presumed to be irreparable if plaintiffs have made out a prima facie case of infringement. This presumption cannot be squared with traditional principles of equity, as interpreted in numerous Supreme Court decisions, particularly eBay, Inc. v. MercExchange LLC, 547 U.S. 388 (2006).
The temporary closure of the Pirate Bay had the unforeseen side effect of forcing torrent sharers underground and causing a 300% increase in sites providing access to copyright files, according to McAfee.
Mandelson in the UK. “3 Strikes” in France. Fascist Censorship in Australia. Phorm. Net Neutrality. The Pirate Bay attacks. The RIAA. The DMCA. There’s a recurring and accelerating theme of attacks, which have accelerated over the past ten years, to attempt to control what can and cannot be done with the Internet, that is beginning to blur with Science Fiction predictions from well-renowed authors. The question is: why? What’s the driving force, and what motivates these attacks, when, mathematically and statistically, they are simply impossible, leaving an alienated populace feeling threatened by and distrusting their Governments, just like in China, Iran and other “Regimes” which we believe that we are “better than”?
I’m sorry to have to remind you that the answer is very simple and straightfoward: the answer is “Global Capitalism”. The Global effects of Capitalism – the enshrinement of “maximisation of profits” as a right, on a Global scale, concentrates ungodly amounts of money – and power – into the hands of Directors who are required, by law, to enact the “maximisation of profits” mantra, to the exclusion of all other considerations. An uncontrollable positive feedback cycle results, that has eerie similarities to Cancer, “consuming” all natural resources.
Summary: Criticisms of Novell’s marketing strategy arrive early this week, even from the press
NOVELL’S attempt to save face has only led to public backlash [1, 2]. Novell ought to have silently accepted a defeat in Los Angeles [1, 2]. Instead, since Novell made a mistake, even the press is now criticising its attitude of insulting the customer. Bad, bad move from Novell’s PR Director (the heir of Bruce Lowry, who quit Novell last year).
And amidst the hype, there stood Novell spurned and nodding solemnly at the critics. In an unusual move of announcing a customer loss, the open-source firm has given LA a mild tongue-lashing about jumping aboard the cloud bandwagon.
Not only Novell’s PR Director gets criticised this week. Novell’s chief marketing officer (CMO) is now being criticised by The Source for attempting to change what FOSS means, casting Free software users as “consumers”.
John Dragoon, Novell’s Chief Marketing Officer, walks an interesting path. I first noticed his comments back when he took a swipe at Canonical while praising Microsoft’s kernel “contributions”.
What this is about is an additional blog posting Mr. Dragoon made, “The Operating System Battle Heats Up“, where he goes just a tiny bit further and states: “While the winner on the vendor side is far from clear, it seems obvious that the consumer will win no matter what the outcome.”
This is foolish. The “consumer” – why not the “user”, I wonder? – will not win “no matter the outcome”, because the “consumer” has been losing continuously under proprietary software offerings. In fact, it is only the recent increase in “wins” from Free and Open Source Software that has in turn forced Closed and Proprietary Software to change that has led to wider consumer wins.
The so-called “new OS War” exists because the “consumer” was tired of losing as Closed and Proprietary Software “won”.
This analysis as a whole is worth a read; Novell perceives SUSE users as consumers who also “consume” licences for software patents from Novell/Microsoft. Who is Dragoon trying to appeal to? Novell does not deserve business for playing this kind of game. █
Summary: Companies that screw Free software by paying Microsoft for unnamed software patents grow even closer to Microsoft
Microsoft and Samsung agree to help each other
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer and Samsung Electronics CEO Yoon-Woo Lee met and decided to work together to encourage users to buy more environmentally friendly PCs.
It is difficult to boycott Samsung because many computer components are made by it (even if there is no visible sign of branding). This company is probably larger in terms of staff size than all the software giants in the United States combined.
There are some Samsung products that are easy to boycott nonetheless. We recently gave Samsung's LiMo phones as an example. It turns out that some of these will be “rebadged” as Vodafone, according to the following:
Made by Samsung but rebadged as a Vodafone 360 mobile, the H1 has a 3.5-inch OLED screen, 16GB of storage, Wi-Fi, and a 5.0-megapixel camera.
The Vodafone 360 is a phone to boycott because the Linux inside it provides means by which Microsoft applies software patents to Linux. Samsung is said to have shipped 60.2 million handsets this quarter, so such patent tax does add up and it is dangerous as a precedence. There is newer information here and here, but no publication bothers to mention Samsung’s strong relationship with Microsoft and their patent deal. The following article describes it all just as “Linux”, we call it “Ballnux”
Linux is Here, the Vodafone 360 H1
Linux Mobile is one of the underdogs of mobile operating systems. Playing practically the same role they have with desktop computers, Linux systems tend to play more towards function and practicality over style and form. This is usually compensated by skinning and other customization options. With mobile phones, their position is a little more accepted than with computers. Since mobile applications are easily ported to other platforms, the Linux mobile operating system does not share the same problem as Linux based computers; direct compatibility with a lot of programs.
We happen to find a lot of the same coming from Xandros. For the uninitiated, Xandros signed a Novell-like patent deal with Microsoft back in 2007 and it also bought Scalix, which pays Microsoft for ActiveSync software patents. Scalix claims to be expanding this dangerous patent tax under the guise/flag of “Linux” and the Xandros relationship with ASUS is not over yet.
Xandros today announced that key staff will host a session on “Enhanced Moblin for the Asus Eee PC: Custom Dual-Mode Netbook Experience” at the Moblin Roadshow, The Westin Taipei, Taipei, Taiwan, October 29, 2009.
Microsoft Gold Partner Infront Delivers BridgeWays Cross-Platform System Center Solutions in North America
BridgeWays, a division of Xandros Inc., today announced an agreement with Infront Consulting Group to deliver cross-platform management packs, training, and consulting services to Microsoft Systems Center customers in North America with mixed software and hardware environments.
It is not a coincidence that near allies of Microsoft were the ones to sell Linux out. It is not something that came after the patent deals had been signed. In other words, fortunately enough, companies that were never truly loyal to Free software have already shown where they stand. Now is the time to avoid these companies and explain to them why they are rejected. By participating in GNU/Linux they actually did more harm than good — probably more harm than if they had never come to GNU/Linux in the first place. █
Summary: Windows security issues show no signs of abatement
The volume of worm infections exploded in the first half of 2009, compared with the second half of 2008, according to Microsoft. In volume seven of the Microsoft Security Intelligence Report (SIRv7), the Redmond company indicates that Conficker and Taterf have made worm infections second only to those caused by miscellaneous Trojans. According to the software giant, worms such as Conficker and Taterf are designed to exploit unsecured file shares, as well as infect removable storage devices, while spreading from one machine to another. Microsoft warned that, unlike home users, enterprise IT environments were more exposed to the threat presented by worms because of unsecured file shares and removable storage.
Microsoft’s latest security intelligence report shows a resurgence in worms, although rogue security software also remains a big issue.
Summary: An attempt to promote a more ethical and beneficial ICT policy gets derailed by Microsoft and its allies/minions, quite frankly as usual
THE PREVIOUS post talked about Gartner and its pointing out that SAP and Microsoft are advisaries of Free software. That’s too obvious to everyone who just listens to the venom that comes from these two companies, which at least once before did consider a merger/takeover. In some ways, SAP is like “the Microsoft of Europe”.
We previously showed in a great level of detail how a European software strategy document got corrupted by Microsoft lobbyists and SAP. See for instance:
In previous posts we also highlighted the fact that known Microsoft front groups which include CompTIA, BSA, and ACT worked in tandem to ruin the European Interoperability Framework (EIF) [1, 2, 3]. It’s not surprising at all; it is predictable. Microsoft usually sends its external agencies not just to do unethical marketing but also political campaigns.
Version 1 came out in 2004, and since then battles have raged over how Version 2 would address the issue of “openness”. Judging by a leaked version of the near-final result, it looks like the lobbyists acting on the behalf of closed-source software houses have won.
Got that? “Closed” lies at one end of the *open* spectrum, which conveniently means we can *include* closed solutions in the interoperability framework because they are part of that continuum.
“Just who exactly was involved in drafting the EIF,” asks us a reader. “Just a rhetorical question,” he adds. “What saddens me is how they have no hesitation in subverting the democratic process in pursuit of their goals. There isn’t any lie they won’t use. It’s the perversion of the language that is the worst crime.”
What is rather disgusting is how Microsoft keeps pretending to have embraced FOSS while still attacking it, even openly in the press. That’s an example from a few days ago. Watch how Microsoft still attacks FOSS with slurs.
Another company that attacks Free software is Blackboard, which was initially funded by Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4]. We wrote about it a few days ago, reminding people that Blackboard sues its competitors using software patents [1, 2, 3]. Now watch the following Blackboard press release, which pretends that Blackboard has embraced “open source”. It is a bunch of self-serving nonsense, which only serves to confuse people.
…the Blackboard Building Block(TM) has been released as open source to let other institutions use or build on the technology at no cost.
In the ‘Microsoft press’ (Redmond developers) we now find this Citrix/Xen piece. “Citrix to Open-Source XenServer” says the headline, but the reality behind Xen and Citrix is a lot more complicated [1, 2]. █
Summary: Advice from a skeptic of the Gartner Group
LAST month we wrote about Gartner getting sued [1, 2]. It was well deserved. Regardless of the plaintiff’s individual case, there is generally a real illness at Gartner, whose interests and advice got polluted by money from the very same companies whose products they are supposed to impartially assess. You can never let a fox guard the hen house.
This post, rather than what may seem like a rant about Gartner (we are usually producing evidence of misconduct to back the allegations with), will attempt to focus on constructive criticism and advice.
“First of all, Gartner must always offer disclosure.”What would it take for Gartner to be taken seriously by the very same people whom it's attacking?
First of all, Gartner must always offer disclosure. Not only should studies be labeled clearly with their sponsor/s; Gartner offers other services too, and these which ‘inform’ tend to completely conceal the names of companies that pay Gartner in other ways, including investments (Larry Ellison and Bill Gates, for instance, invest heavily in Gartner).
To give a contrary example, Red Monk should be praised for its disclosure policies. It is easy to tell what conflicting interests may exist. Red Monk does not hide these.
Gartner knows that Free software people lack confidence in its output. Now it is stating the obvious by saying that Microsoft and SAP are not taking advantage of Free software, which is an understatement. SAP and Microsoft actually attack Free software. We will write about this later, in a separate post containing new examples about this pair.
Microsoft and SAP are falling behind when it comes to taking advantage of open source technology, despite cut-throat competition in the enterprise software market, a new analysis by Gartner has found.
This resulted in some suggesting that Gartner’s research was simply a reflection of which companies paid it the most money (and recently netted the analyst firm a lawsuit).
I made similar accusations myself.
Gartner responded to such attacks, defending the integrity of its research. Yet its blind spot to open source seemed to persist.
Gartner has a long, long way to go. Disclosure would be only the beginning; getting rid of the bias caused by money is a much bigger challenge because customers come to Gartner with expectations of a return. That’s just the type of business Gartner is in. █
“Analysts sell out – that’s their business model… But they are very concerned that they never look like they are selling out, so that makes them very prickly to work with.”
–Microsoft, internal document
Recent posts about the Gartner Group:
Summary: Vista 7 has uncanny parallels in hype; iPlayer incompatible with Vista 7, to name just one show-stopper issue
WINDOWS VISTA came to our world with great compliments and congratulatory reception. For many months we were told that it would take over the world and replace Windows XP everywhere. We were also told that it was “the last nail on Linux’ coffin. When the marketing budgets ran out and actual users became louder than marketing people (and by extension — the media), only then people began to realise that they they had been deceived. We are seeing a lot of the same symptoms in Vista 7. It’s no exaggeration to say that it was hyped up a lot less than Windows Vista, so the road ahead will tell its story, in due time. In term of adoption, it’s doomed to fail.
If the word from 2006/2007 is to be believed (watch articles from that time), Vista was a wonderful award-winning product; well, it ended up winning the "great fiasco award", among many other such honours in 2008. Jack Wallen has just published an article about “the 10 biggest failures in IT history” and Vista is #1 on the list.
1: Windows Vista
What a disaster! Could Microsoft have assembled a bigger failure if it tried? Well, possibly. But Microsoft wasn’t trying to make a failure — it was trying to make the best of the best. The result was the worst of the best.
People absolutely must remember what type of coverage Vista was enjoying when it was new and just before it was released. It was mostly wonderful, but if one looked closely enough at individuals’ blogs, the picture painted was very different, with the exception of people who were fans of Windows to begin with (many of them ended up using Vista on a permanent basis).
“Wine is a better Windows than Vista”
The marketing offensive is too obvious to see and we have documented a sheer number of examples. Here is another new example. We pointed this out before, but as Osama Khalid puts it, “Microsoft is adding Windows 7 ads to Hotmail messages.”
“People absolutely must remember what type of coverage Vista was enjoying when it was new and just before it was released.”That’s a lot of incoming messages with Vista 7 advertisements in them. Those adverts purport to be coming from people’s peers, friends, colleagues, and family. E-mail advertisements are seen as personalised, or just personal. It’s easy to see why people can fall for the illusion that Vista 7 is inevitable.
If back in 2006 you said that Vista would be as disastrous as it is today, people would label you “zealot” or “crazy”. Well, it’s not crazy to be a realist; it is only ignorant and irresponsible not to learn from history and actually believe marketing. I personally received a lot of abuse when I showed the reality of Vista/Longhorn in 2005-2007. By 2008 I almost stopped receiving abuse (mostly comprising insults to one’s intelligence and sanity) because Microsoft had given up on pretending. E-mails from inside Microsoft (revealed due to subpoenas) showed that they too realised that Vista was bad; they knew it all along, but nonetheless they pretended and lied to the public for years.
One reader sent us this link yesterday, showing that even the BBC does not support Vista 7 users. This lack of support is very much reminiscent of what happened with Vista and it is a huge barrier to adoption that acts as a deterrent to those even considering Vista 7. The iPlayer page states: “Please be advised that currently BBC iPlayer is not compatible with Windows 7. We do intend on making the service compatible with all platforms. However at present it is not possible for us to confirm an exact date this will be released. We’ll announce these versions as soon as they’re ready…”
The funny thing is that the iPlayer is compatible with Vista. So somehow Vista 7 managed to ‘break’ even backward compatibility with Vista. “It’s a Flash app isn’t [it],” says our reader, “apart from the DRM ‘stuff’. So now the BBC has to rewrite the app. Yet another case of the never-ending Microsoft upgrade bandwagon.” █
“[Vista DRM] seems a bit like breaking the legs of Olympic athletes and then rating them based on how fast they can hobble on crutches.“
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