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03.06.10

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: March 6th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 8:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Links 6/3/2010: Android to Return to Linux, Server/Desktop Success

Posted in News Roundup at 4:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Contributing Upstream: An Editorial

    The foundations of Linux, with how it has been developed and when we look at the Debian model on which Ubuntu is based, the contributions of developers by and large are because of their common interests and a willingness to accept conceptualizations. In recently viewing an interview with Mark Shuttleworth these contributions were stated. Passing on the valor per-say to that foundation and the current developers engaged in the Ubuntu project.

  • Software Choices, Blocking

    I had a TEDTalk recommended to me a few months ago called “The Paradox of Choice” and it’s one of those must read books for people who want to do effective UI design. It’s a very good scientific explanation of why presenting users with millions of choices is a bad idea.

    [...]

    Take for instance the number of choices available on Gnome Look for window decoration and themes. The problem is that there are thousands of possible themes to choose from and no matter what you pick, none of them are going to be perfect.

  • Linux Australia to fund research into licence compliance

    Linux Australia, the umbrella organisation for Linux user groups in the country, has decided to provide funding for research to determine the applicability of the Trade Practices Act as a compliance tool.

    [...]

    Further, Scott pointed out, there were other difficulties involved in going to court over such licences in Australia – the copyright holders were, to large extent, from other countries. If a case was filed to try and enforce compliance, the copyright holder would have to be party to the case and hence present in Australia.

  • Advantages of Combining Training with Outsourcing

    Company B takes a completely different route. Recognizing that their Windows admins are not familiar with Linux and could use structured Linux training to help them achieve the goal, they first send two admins to an virtual training course for Nagios. In the classroom the two admins have practice servers that are available and a live instructor to ask questions and get ideas. The admins build and test Nagios in labs provided by the training company. At the same time, the company outsources the Nagios server install to the same company that trains the admins and within a month they have Nagios up and running and two fully trained admins to support the Nagios server. The training cost $395 each and the Nagios outsourcing cost the company $500. Total cost for training two admins, $2330. This assumes 8 hours of training for each of the administrators.

  • Desktop

    • Computer choice

      In forcing Microsoft to offer easy access to competitive web browsers (Report, 2 March), the EU authorities seem to have “strained at a gnat and swallowed a camel”. What about the operating system, the program every computer has to have in order to run? I happen to prefer to use the Ubuntu Linux operating system, but when I buy a computer I am forced to buy with it a Microsoft operating system. I never use it, but there is no system to reimburse the money that Microsoft has obtained from me for nothing. Why? Why should I not be given a choice of systems when I first turn on my new PC, paying for the one I choose if it isn’t (like Ubuntu) free? An investigation of the process by which this monopolistic situation is sustained would be very interesting. I’d be very surprised if it was proved to involve activity even remotely reminiscent of free competition in an open marketplace.

    • Editor’s Note: Windows is Easier, Just Like Stabbing Your Own Eyeballs is Easier

      My fattest Linux system is Ubuntu Studio with all the bells and whistles. A little over 6 GB, and that includes OpenOffice, Abiword, Gimp, Tuxpaint, Audacity, Ardour, JACK, Hydrogen, and bunch of other audio production software, a bunch of games, multiple Web browsers, FTP, instant messaging, email, text editors, a huge set of networking tools, KDE, GNOME, Fluxbox, IceWM, Digikam, a complete build environment, file managers, spreadsheets, partition editors, cloning tools, astronomy programs, and on and on, I think you get the idea. It’s a feast.

    • Linux and kids: What are the best ways to teach children about open source?

      One thing I found was the Qimo desktop operating system, based on Ubuntu, and designed just for kids. You can download it here.

    • PCs for technophobes go head-to-head

      New Alex laptop takes on Valerie Singleton’s SimplicITy range

      A UK vendor has launched a new specialised notebook aimed at technophobes and computer novices, adding to what is rapidly becoming a mini-sector of ‘idiot-proof’ PCs.

      [...]

      “We are competing with SimplicITy to an extent, but what you get from us is support,” Holmes told PCR. “Where SimplicITy has taken a flavour of Linux and offered you four big buttons to click, I think it just leaves you there. What we’re saying is this is a subscription – you pay by the month so we will be with you every step of the way.”

      As Holmes suggests, this service comes at a cost. On top of the £400 price tag for the 15.4-inch laptop (soon to be upgraded to 15.6-inch), users must pay a monthly fee of £9.99, or £24.99 if they want broadband too.

    • The Death of That Other OS

      The writing is on the wall. More OEMs are producing low-end stuff that is good enough for most of the world and consumers are having more choices. Those who shop on the web are free to buy inexpensive PCs running GNU/Linux. That market will grow rapidly. Businesses and governments will be able to buy naked PCs and supply their distro of choice. Since they have to re-image and all that anyway, they can save money by buying naked PCs. Better, they can buy thin clients.

    • What is Happening in Malaysia?!

      I was kicking around on the web and found the trends are good for GNU/Linux in Malaysia, particularly in Prai Poking further, I find a site which advertises the price of the OS separate from the PC!. At the low end, Vista Ultimate costs 50% of the price of the box.At the high end it’s about 10%. The result may be that folks appreciate the price of GNU/Linux in Malaysia more that where I am. Even Dell sells some identical hardware side by side with Ubuntu and that other OS.

  • Server

    • Adventure with New Technology

      As a server the thing is limited to two drives easily and with a bit of work, perhaps four, two SATA and two PATA. As a desktop, the thing puts out a lot of heat. What were they thinking? As a server 64bitness wins big on throughput. As a terminal server 64bit could make better use of 4 gB RAM.

      I think 64bitness wins the discussion. XP should go. I don’t need one more XP machine to manage. For now, 512 MB means terminal service is out. Probably a GUI is out. I will make a file/backup/clonezilla server out of it. This CPU is overkill for that but the students and I could use it for building kernels or other applications just to say we did it. It could compile and serve fairly well. RAM is on the wishlist.

    • GNU/Linux on Servers

      I notice that in Netcraft’s latest report, sorted by OS, it is easy to see 21 of the top 36 hosters run GNU/Linux and only 6 run that other OS. That says a lot about the cost and reliability of the OS.

  • Kernel Space

    • Google open source guru says Android code will be in Linux kernel in time

      Google’s Android code will assume its rightful place in the Linux kernel — in good time, the company’s top open source guru says.

      The Android code was stripped out of the last kernel release, version 2.6.33, after Google reportedly failed to provide necessary changes and subsystem code required by kernel.org.

    • Graphics Stack

      • The Possibility Of Nouveau 1.0.0?

        Following the very heated kernel DRM discussion that came about as the result of a major interface break in the Nouveau DRM code, David Airlie has asked on the Nouveau mailing list about potentially releasing Nouveau 1.0.0. Right now the Nouveau interface is at 0.0.16 and is wondering if developers will accept just renaming the current code to version 1.0.0.

      • An Explosive Battle Over Nouveau Kernel DRM

        Breaking the Nouveau interface for the kernel DRM is causing the X.Org Server to stop working with this driver and forces the user to upgrade their non-kernel Nouveau drivers. While the Nouveau driver just entered the Linux 2.6.33 kernel unexpectedly at the request of Linus Torvalds himself, he is now outraged over this interface breaking.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

      • Small systemtray change

        This has been done pretty early in the 4.5 cycle, so it’s still open for change, feedback and the due bugfixes :)

      • Let me tell you where to put the buttons…

        You really don’t want me to tell you where to put them, as you might not like the answer. However, with KDE, you can put the buttons wherever you would like Daviey, Mike, and everyone else.

      • Feel a “natural flow” in your desktop (Panel at the top)

        As my friends know, I’m addicted to read KDE/Free Software/Open Source/etc.. blogs when taking my morning coffee, and what I’m going to explain is a good example of why I love it.

        Before continuing reading, be aware that I’m not an usability guy, I lack any kind of design or usability sense/knowledgement, In fact, I have been I’m using KDE for years and I never succeed to configure my desktop in a beautiful way (only by copying the others configs), so please keep that in your mind when you read this post.

      • keeping it (our source code) together

        The alternative is quite obvious in my mind: take the time to coordinate.

        There is a git migration project that is making progress week by week. The project is documented on Techbase and can use more hands. It can also use our support, e.g. those two projects who still have svn externals in key places that we can’t just ignore (Oxygen and kget) really need to get moving on that (or face more dire results like finding the code migrated one day in a poor state, e.g. with code being copied around or files commented out of the build).

      • Copy your clipboard to the pastebin

        After that you should be able to send your clipboard to the pastebin with one selection (to copy text into clipboard), one hotkey (to trigger Klipper actions) and one click (to choose between different highlighters). You can paste the URL with a single click on the middle button of your mouse. You don’t even have to open the pastebin page yourself!

      • awesome pastebin workflows

        There is some documentation about this very cool Plasma widget on Userbase and someone even uploaded a screencast to Youtube showing it in action.

    • GNOME Desktop

  • Distributions

    • aLinux 12.9 – A Blast From the Past

      How did I find aLinux 12.9? It surprisingly worked real well, for a hobbyist distribution. Packages were as usual, a hybrid of pretty old stuff and new libraries. GCC is a bit outdated; WINE is included in the install as well (it’s old though).

      The planets screensaver for the screensaver settings in KDE always crashed for me. Other than that, all else worked fine.

    • I did it! I found a Linux that works well with Laptops., I installed Mandriva ONE 2010

      For obvious reasons I did not install Mandriva FREE! I had no inclination of chasing all over the place for non-free drivers, and codecs. Although Mandriva ONE is a smaller package, this will suit me fine, since mostly everything works, including wireless laptop networking. And it was all inclusive in the “Live CD Installable Package”. My only immediate concern is that I’ve not been able to install the printer drivers. The Mandriva printer setup is something that I’ve not encountered up ’till now. And my attempt only resulted in the whole thing bombing out.. It is supposed to go on the Internet and download some packages?? to be able to install the printers. But it seems that those applications are broken.

    • PC-BSD 8.0 vs. Kubuntu 9.10 Benchmarks

      PC-BSD 8.0 was released last week and while we have already delivered FreeBSD 8.0 benchmarks including against Debian GNU/kFreeBSD and Fedora / Debian / OpenBSD / OpenSolaris for which PC-BSD is based, we took this opportunity to deliver a fresh set of *BSD benchmarks. In this article we have benchmarks of PC-BSD 8.0 x64 against Kubuntu 9.10 x86_64.

      [...]

      Starting our PC-BSD vs. Kubuntu benchmarking with LAME MP3 encoding, the Canonical OS came out slightly ahead of PC-BSD, but not by a very sizable margin.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • SimplyMEPIS 8.5 RC2 is Available

        Warren Woodford has released SimplyMEPIS 8.4.99, RC2 of MEPIS 8.5, now available from MEPIS and public mirrors. The ISO files for 32 and 64 bit processors are SimplyMEPIS-CD_8.4.99-rc2_32.iso and SimplyMEPIS-CD_8.4.99-rc2_64.iso respectively. Deltas are also available.

        Warren reported: “In the past week, we’ve fixed some bugs reported by the community and updated the MEPIS Assistants. And we’ve updated some packages containing bug fixes: digikam 1.1.0, ghostscript 8.71, kdebase-workspace 4.3.4-5 and wl-modules 5.60.48.36. The community is hard at work on translations, updated manual, and a couple of new utilities. I expect RC3 to be ready in a week or so. It should be the last RC before we go final with 8.5.”

      • CeBIT 2010: Debian with BSD Kernel

        Debian developer Alexander Reichle-Schmehl presented Debian GNU/kFreeBSD at the Open Source Forum at CeBIT. The FreeBSD port should become an official part of the upcoming Debian version 6.0 free distro.

        The new architectures kfreebsd-i386 and kfreebsd-amd64 will become a part of Debian’s new offerings. The “k” in the name, Reichle-Schmehl indicates, is only that the FreeBSD kernel is involved and not the C libraries, for example. The FreeBSD kernel currently in use is version 7.2, with an update to 8.0 possible. The operating system should provide the “best of both worlds,” the stable BSD kernel and Debian’s package management and infrastructure.

      • Elive

        • Elive 2.0 Stable Finally Released

          The Elive developers finally unleashed last night the next major and stable release of their amazing and eye-candy Elive Live CD Linux operating system. Dubbed Topaz, Elive 2.0 is still powered by the Debian mammoth and the lightweight Enlightenment E17 desktop environment. The developers state that the new release is so light that it eats only half of the resources on a system with less than 128 MB of system RAM. Now, that’s amazing, considering that it also looks fantastic!

        • Elive 2.0 Released into the Wild
      • Ubuntu

        • Announcing The 10.10 Ubuntu Developer Summit

          I am tickled pink to announce the details of the next Ubuntu Developer Summit taking place at Dolce La Hulpe Hotel and Resort in Brussels, Belgium from the 10 – 14 May 2010.

          [...]

          For every UDS, Canonical sponsors a number of community members to attend the event. We are looking for those who want to bring some real insight and expertise in their area of Ubuntu, be it development or community governance. If you feel you could offer this but can’t afford to cover your expenses of attending, you should apply for sponsorship.
          How To Request Sponsorship

        • Ubuntu 10.04 Light (Radiance) And Dark (Ambiance) Themes Are Now Available For All (Download)

          The new Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lunx: Light and Dark themes are now available for all. The themes are called Ambiance (dark) and Radiance (light).

        • The Linux Desktop Will Have Its Day: Q&A With Canonical Founder Mark Shuttleworth

          So we’re seeing a rapid ramp-up of the number of PCs that ship around the world with Ubuntu, which is good for us. And those are going to folks who are not Linux enthusiasts and are not Linux specialists. So it has really raised the bar on the quality and crispness of the experience you have to deliver in order to keep those people happy.

        • Is Ubuntu ready to run your business servers?

          I was very surprised to find that nearly 15 percent of Eclipse developers responding to the survey were using Ubuntu on their development machines. I rationalized the lack of Fedora/RHEL or OpenSuse/Suse usage versus Ubuntu as a proof point of Ubuntu’s user experience investments. But then I realized that Ubuntu performed equally well on deployment server market share among respondents. Granted, Fedora/RHEL led Linux deployments, but only by a single percentage point versus Ubuntu.

        • 6 little thing in Ubuntu 10.04 that I love

          1. Drag n’ Click
          You can now click and move a window from anywhere in the top part – both the metacity and the space next to the menu-bar are dragable.

          2. Software Centre’s navigation buttons
          Not only useful but really slick to look at!

        • New in lucid…

          If you’re running lucid with the latest updates be sure to try click n’ drag the window from anywhere in the top dark area. In other words, the windeco and menubar are both dragable now.

        • Ubuntu 10.04’s UI – What Can Less Brown Do For You?

          If there’s two things Ubuntu has always been, it’s brown and orange. This has a striking resemblance to the not-so good looking nature of, say, a shag living room carpet circa the 1970s.

          You can’t convince me that a brown interface with bright orange icons looks good. Not a chance. Ubuntu has been like that for quite some time. While it’s true you could always change the GUI colors to whatever you wish, the point is that you always see a cavalcade of brown and orange on first install.

          [...]

          If you’re wondering what’s breaking familiarity with 10.04’s desktop compared to 9.10, the bottom panel isn’t there by default, the aforementioned window controls have been moved from right to left, and I don’t see any workspace switching options in the top panel whereas you did before in the now-gone bottom panel.

        • Hands-on: a close look at Ubuntu’s new non-brown theme
        • And Ubuntu changed again!

          If there is one thing I do not like about Ubuntu, or better still, that irritates me about the project, it is the frequency with which things keep changing on the GUI front. Heck, seems every release has a learning curve in terms of GUI!

        • Ubuntu 10.10 To Be Released on 28th of October

          Ubuntu 10.04 LTS will not even be released until next month towards the end of April, but Ubuntu 10.10 (with a codename yet to be announced) already has its release schedule available.

        • Variants

          • The Mint Newsletter – issue 101

            Some news in the blog – a LXDE edition is on its way as well as the Helena XFCE edition Development started on Mint 9, a new menu and a completely new software manager are to be introduced

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Analysis: How to get Linux to boot in one second

      MontaVista Software has always been a leader in embedded-Linux commercialization. The company has developed Linux-development platforms since 1999, when founder Jim Ready pledged to bring “100% pure Linux” to the world under the GNU (GNU’s not Unix) GPL (general public license). Since then, MontaVista has specialized in embedded and real-time Linux.

      Its approach is not simply an RTOS (real-time operating system) that runs Linux as one of its tasks. The company has changed the Linux kernel to provide determinism and real-time performance in a real Linux operating system. Cavium Networks recently acquired the company, which just announced the release of Version 6 of its operating system.

    • Hypervisor supports Linux guests

      Enea announced a multi-core-focused “Enea Hypervisor,” which is based on its OSE real-time operating system, but supports Linux clients via its Linx inter-process communication protocol. Meanwhile, Enea announced that its Android Competence Center has been chosen by mobile anti-malware firm Fatskunk to develop an Android proof of concept.

      [...]

      The Enea Hypervisor is based on Enea’s telecom-oriented OSE micro kernel real-time operating system (RTOS), and can run Enea OSE applications at native processor speeds without compromising real-time critical properties, claims Enea. Yet, the Hypervisor can also accept Linux as a guest OS, says the company.

    • Towards Day One

      Hey there! And welcome to MeeGo project on my behalf too. In this post written on behalf of the MeeGo Technical Steering Group I will address some of the top questions on everybody’s mind and written all-across meego.com by now. By doing so, I also will outline the first concrete steps to get the core of the software work on foot by all of us together, including various mobile computing companies and individual members of moblin and maemo communities.

    • Android

    • OLPC

      • Laptops aid villagers

        Thanks to the nonprofit organization One Laptop Per Child, children living in the electricity-void village now have access to a learning tool prevalent in the United States and developed countries.

      • Hillary Clinton Touts the Work of OLPC

        She started off by commending Chile’s immediate response to the Haitian earthquake which indicated the increasing strength and cooperation of the region. She goes on to praise region efforts at economic growth including our very own OLPC initiative in Uruguay:

        And like you, I have followed the progress that Uruguay and Panama have made towards spreading the benefits of the digital age through initiatives that distribute laptops to children. I was just in Uruguay, meeting with the out-going president and now-president Mujica, and their “one laptop per child” program has given a great boost to learning and access to the wider world.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Can open source make 311 relevant?

    But rather than run for anything at a time when being in public service is assumed to disqualify you for it, he might be better served seizing the opportunities Open311 affords. A foundation to run the .org, a company to run the .com, and the same charismatic gentleman on top of both. Government’s answer to Dries Buytaert, with better clothes.

    Sounds like a better political plan to me. He can gain standing without taking responsibility for running anything, since actual implementation remains in the hands of local governments. He can take credit for success without risking much blame for failure. And he can make money doing it.

  • FLOSS Weekly 111: CMake

    Hosts: Randal Schwartz, Jono Bacon, and Leo Laporte

    CMake, the cross-platform, open-source family of tools designed to build, test and package software.

  • OSI “categorically rejects” IIPA’s attack on open source

    The Open Source Initiative has condemned the International Intellectual Property Alliance (IIPA) for unjust attacks on open source. The IIPA is pushing for the US government to blacklist a number of countries for their open source policies. The OSI’s strong criticism appears in a blog posting on the OSI site by the president of the Open Source Initiative, Michael Tiemann, who points out that the IIPA is singling out countries such as Indonesia for having open source policies which are already implemented by governments and businesses across Europe and the US. He writes “It is a blatant case of selective enforcement, one which hides the absurdity of it’s claims by the narrowness of their application”.

  • MSBBC

    • BBC iPlayer Content Protection Enhancements

      A number of our users have expressed concern about BBC iPlayer’s recent content protection enhancements. It’s a complex area so I asked our techical team for an explanation of what has happened. Here it is:

      We make iPlayer content available in a variety of media formats (WMV, H.264, 3GP, MPEG, etc) many of which are open source, or at least not tied to a particular company’s products.

      In order to respect the rights agreements that allow us to make the content available in the first place, we use a range of content protection techniques and technologies:

      - for downloads, we use digital rights management systems (Windows Media, Adobe, and OMA)

      - for streaming, we use systems like SSL, RTMP, RTSP, HTTP

    • BBC claims angry iPlayer plugin mob ‘conflated’ open source term

      Hunter said people had drawn the wrong conclusion because the first iPlayer users to be affected by the change were linking to the BBC’s Flash streams. Auntie has now added what the BBC online MD described as “similar protection levels” to that which already existed with its open source streams.

      At the same time, he reaffirmed that the iPlayer is available in a range of media formats, based on open source and/or proprietary tech.

      “The discussion around this issue suggests that two different uses of the term ‘open source’ are being conflated,” said Hunter.

      The Beeb hasn’t altogether blocked out open source formats, he noted. But he also acknowledged the “unfortunate” demise of the open source XBMC plugin, which “stopped working” after the BBC tightened up its “content protection”.

      Hunter also reminded UK iPlayer viewers and listeners that the corporation uses Windows Media, Adobe and OMA digital rights management (DRM) systems for downloads, while streaming is subject to (acronym alert!) SSL, RTMP, RTSP and HTTP DRMs.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Swiftfox: a fast Firefox alternative for Linux users only

        In my ongoing search to find the perfect browser, I’ve generally stuck to Opera for the past several years, on Windows and on Linux.

        I’ve used Firefox of course, but I’ve discussed a number of issues that I’ve had with Firefox over the years, and in my hunt for a great browser, I’ve always found myself going back to Opera.

        [...]

        As I mentioned above, I was amazed to find that my opinion of Firefox all these years has been so strongly affected by its performance. I have found that when you fix the performance problems the way Swiftfox has, suddenly all my other quibbles with Firefox become significantly less important and don’t bug me anywhere NEAR as much as they used to.

      • Firefox alpha dons Flash flack jacket

        Mozilla has pushed out a Firefox developer preview that runs Adobe Flash and other plug-ins as a separate process, hoping to prevent crashing plug-ins from crashing the browser proper.

        The move comes as Apple Insider reports that Steve Jobs and cult have asked a group of “elite” testers to kick the proverbial tires on a new version of Safari that includes some sort of Flash crash protection.

      • Mozilla Lands Out-Of-Process Plugins in Firefox 3.7

        One of the big things that Google Chrome introduced is the idea of out of process plugins. It’s something that has now (finally!) landed in Mozilla — albeit in the Alpha 2 release of Firefox 3.7 (officially called Mozilla Developer Preview 3.7 Alpha 2).

    • Chrome

      • Google Chrome extends

        When Google first released its Chrome browser no-one really knew how popular it would turn out to be. Initially its major failure in the face of Firefox’s extensive extensions database was that it couldn’t be extended with additional plugins. Now, however, there is a growing list of extensions available for Chrome. We look at some of the best.

      • Friday Fun: Play 3D Rally Racing in Google Chrome

        If you love racing games and want a fun way to waste the rest of afternoon at work, then you should definitely give 3D Rally Racing a try.

      • Google pumps out Chrome build which knows where you are

        Google yesterday released a dev-only build of Chrome for Mac OS, Linux and Windows which comes loaded with rough-round-the-edges versions of the Geolocation API.

      • Customize Chrome for Better Browsing

        Google Chrome has only had extensions available for a few months, but it already has a great collection of add-ons that will boost your browsing experience. We look at a handful of extensions that let you manage tabs effectively, learn more about the sites you browse, and read feeds with panache.

  • Databases

    • MySQL migration and risk management

      Oracle’s acquisition of Sun has opened up all sorts of questions: Will MySQL get the support it needs? What will become of the MySQL community? Where should database administrators put their efforts and resources?

      Ronald Bradford can answer that last question. Bradford, an RDBMS expert and a speaker at the upcoming MySQL Conference and Expo, has been guiding DBAs through key aspects of MySQL integration for years. In the following Q&A, he discusses the pros and cons of migrating from Oracle to MySQL (hint: it’s not just about cost savings). He also weighs in on the future of MySQL and its community.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU

    • The Scoop on LibrePlanet: Interview with Deborah Nicholson of the FSF

      The Free Software Foundation is gearing up for a big event March 19th through 21st to be held in Cambridge, Mass. at Harvard’s University Science Center. LibrePlanet 2010 is a three day event with workshops on using free software for everything from Web development to video editing and graphics. This year’s LibrePlanet is going to feature a new “Women’s Caucus,” a day-long track on Sunday to boost participation by women in free software projects.

    • Tech Comics: “Geeks in a Bar”
  • Releases

    • Midnight Commander: Small Update, Big Enhancements

      The MC team has released a new version 4.7.1 version of its Midnight Commander for download that, despite a minor release change, has numerous improvements.

      [...]

      The MC developers additionally fixed more than 30 bugs, among them a few that led to crashes. A few fixes were already integrated in version 4.7.0.3, which the MC project page still identifies as the latest stable release.

  • Licensing

    • SCALE 8x: Free software legal issues

      The casual view of open source software is that the code always comes first: releases are made when the code is ready, new contributors prove their chops by the quality of their code, and so forth. But in reality the FLOSS ecosystem relies on a complex legal framework in order to run smoothly and to stand up to proprietary software competition: the various software licenses, contribution agreements, copyright and other “intellectual property” law. Every once in a while, a good status check on the legal dimension is healthy for the typical developer, and SCALE 8x offered just that in a series of talks.

  • Openness

    • UCLA Will Resume Streaming Video After Legal Dispute

      The University of California at Los Angeles has restored its streaming video service about two months after temporarily suspending the service amid complaints from an educational-media trade group.

      The Association for Information and Media Equipment told UCLA in the fall that the university had violated copyright laws by letting instructors use the videos, some of which were full-length productions. UCLA decided that beginning this semester it would suspend the password-protected video-streaming service, available only to students in specific classes.

  • Programming

    • Second maintenance release for PHP 5.3

      A now available second maintenance release for PHP 5.3 fixes more than 60 bugs and closes several security holes which were already corrected in version 5.2.13, from the 5.2 branch, last week. Among the problems is a validation flaw in the safe_mode configuration variable within the tempnam() function that occurred when the directory path didn’t end in “/)”. The developers also fixed an open_basedir/safe_mode bypass vulnerability in the session extension.

Leftovers

  • Campaign to Stop Killer Coke

    On February 25, 2010 a lawsuit was filed on behalf of eight plaintiffs in the Supreme Court of the State of New York against The Coca-Cola Co. and Coke processing and bottling plants in Guatemala. This case involves charges of murder, rape and torture. The plaintiffs include union leaders and family members. This case has been brought in New York State because plaintiffs and other victims of human rights abuses lack access to an independent and functioning legal system within Guatemala, a country with a corrupt judiciary which has been undermined by the intimidation and murder of witnesses, prosecutors, lawyers and judges.

  • Newegg Ships Counterfeit Intel Core i7 920 CPUs

    In an almost surreal tale of events, USA electronics retailer Newegg has discovered a reported 300 counterfeit Intel Core i7 920 CPU’s in its inventory, some of which were inadvertently shipped out to buyers!

  • Cutting Saturday Mail Delivery? Sure, If It Makes Good Business Sense.

    With a loss of $3.8 billion last year, the US Postal Service is facing a challenging business climate. Mail volume fell to 177 billion pieces for 2009, from 203 billion a year before. Outside consultants have estimated a deficit of $238 billion in the next decade.

  • Security

    • Blackwater: Senate Committee Says the Contractor Is Armed and Dangerous

      Both Paravant and Xe are owned by Erik Prince, the owner and founder of Blackwater.

    • One Quarter of Germans Would Embrace an Implantable Microchip

      Privacy-loving Americans have roundly rejected the idea of implanting microchips within their bodies, but one in four Germans is enthusiastic about the idea of having a chip implanted as long as there are tangible benefits involved. Those benefits don’t even have to be of the life-and-death nature; some said they would implant a chip simply to make a shopping experience more enjoyable.

    • First, they came for the Muslim

      As you may have read, two Muslim women refused to go through full-body scanners at Manchester Airport this week.

      My support for them has seen the Big Brother Watch mailbag swell with abuse, and we’ve had some pretty tasty phone calls, too (all pretty much along the lines of the charming comments left over at the Daily Mail website). I suppose that this is bound to happen at some point with an organisation like ours, but it’s the first time for us, so it’s had a particular impact.

      [...]

      People are understandably afraid of terrorism. But as I’ve said before, we didn’t allow the IRA to impede our freedoms or change our way of life to anything like the degree we are changing now. Those upset by the prospect of undergoing these scans shouldn’t be forced to choose between their dignity and their flight. What kind of a free society does the Government think it is “protecting”, when it invades our privacy like this? When we are forced to expose ourselves at the airport in order to go on holiday, the terrorists have won.

    • One big joined up surveillance system, everywhere… the future of CCTV?

      The Home Ministry wants to take footage from CCTV cameras run by agencies under the Transport Ministry and local authorities such as Kuala Lumpur City Hall, as well as private firms to monitor security and traffic flow, and use of all these CCTV feeds as well as their crime-spotting CCTV to counter crime.

    • Lifting the Lid: Number of councils installing chips in bins rises by 62 per cent

      Research conducted by Big Brother Watch reveals that there are now 68 local authorities secreting microchips in the bins of residents, up from 42 a year earlier

  • Environment

    • World’s coral reefs could disintegrate by 2100

      The world’s coral reefs will begin to disintegrate before the end of the century as rising carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere make the oceans more acidic, scientists warn.

    • Climate scientist admits sending ‘awful emails’ but denies perverting peer review

      Phil Jones, head of the Climatic Research Unit at the University of East Anglia, told a parliamentary inquiry that there was nothing in the hundreds of emails released on to the internet last year that supported the claims.

    • Going Global: Social Innovation

      How should you go about finding new answers to the challenge of an aging population, unemployment, mental illness or cutting carbon emissions? Social innovation has started showing up everywhere, with EU programmes, networks, funds and even an office in the White House. But how should it best be done? Once you leave the rhetoric and the sometimes self-serving case studies behind, what actually works in achieving change?

    • Study Says Undersea Release of Methane Is Under Way

      Climate scientists have long warned that global warming could unlock vast stores of the greenhouse gas methane that are frozen into the Arctic permafrost, setting off potentially significant increases in global warming.

  • Finance

    • The Wrong Policy at the Wrong Time

      Widely used in Europe, the Value-Added Tax (VAT) has always seemed a non-starter in the United States. That may be changing given apparently insurmountable structural deficits and fear that the financial collapse of Greece could happen here if revenue isn’t increased. These days, the VAT is being taken seriously even by pro-market conservatives and libertarians. A VAT is a consumption tax which is levied at each stage of production based on the value added to the product at that stage.

    • Could Goldman Sachs Do to California What It Did to Greece?

      Recent reports that financial legerdemain engineered by Goldman Sachs helped destabilize the Greek economy ought to make Californians nervous. It’s time to ask if Goldman could do to us what it appears to have done to the Greeks and, indirectly, to the rest of Europe.

      [...]

      There are reasons to be nervous about California’s entanglement with Goldman, which has been a major participant in bond sales to finance our state’s ballooning deficit.

    • Financial Warfare Exposed: Soros, Goldman Sachs, Hedge Funds Attack Greece to Smash Euro

      Another obvious expedient is that of a bear squeeze or short squeeze. Soros, Goldman Sachs, and their gang of hedge fund allies have now used derivatives to establish short positions against Greek bonds and the euro, betting that these latter will go down. Political pressure is now being brought to bear on the European Central Bank and the Greek central bank to undertake an unannounced large-scale purchase of Greek bonds and euros in the forward market, causing the Wall Street predators to lose their bets, thus punishing them severely with extravagant losses. This is normal central bank practice, and it will be astounding if the Greeks do not execute such a maneuver very soon.

    • Goldman Sachs Authors a Greek Tragedy

      Another Greek-based cargo ship and its crew was recently hijacked by Somalian pirates, costing the Greek owners an undisclosed amount in ransom.

      Such ongoing acts of brazen piracy off the coast of Somalia have riveted the establishment media’s attention. But the same news hawks have missed (or ignored) a much more brazen, longer-running and far larger robbery in Greece by Gucci-wearing thieves who are more sophisticated than common pirates — but lack a pirate’s moral depth.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Miffed Minister’s Gag

      Earlier this year, you may remember, the South Australian government tried to make it unlawful for websites like The Advertiser’s AdelaideNow to publish posts about political matters during an election campaign, unless they carried the writer’s real name.

    • Google convictions reveal two flaws in EU law, not just Italian law

      Criticism of last week’s conviction of three Google executives has focused on Italy’s legal system. That focus risks missing a wider point. Web hosts are unfairly exposed all across the EU and two legal changes are needed.

      It could be three months before we get the court’s full explanation for convicting Google’s Chief Legal Officer David Drummond, Global Privacy Counsel Peter Fleischer and former Chief Financial Officer George Reyes. That judgment will explain why they were held responsible for a video that showed an autistic child being bullied by Turin school pupils, a video that appeared on the Italian site of Google Video in 2006.

    • Soldier Sues Because He Insists Movie ‘Hurt Locker’ Must Have Been Based On His Life

      Of course, it’s amusing to note that while he claims the movie was based on him, he’s also claiming defamation, in that the movie portrays him in false light (such as in that the character is a bad father).

    • Judge: Web site must yank story about center giraffe

      A state judge ordered a Web site to pull a story about a fictional giraffe attack at Global Wildlife Center in Folsom.

      District Judge Brenda Bedsole Ricks signed the temporary restraining order Tuesday and scheduled a hearing for March 15 in 21st Judicial District Court in Amite on whether to make the injunction permanent, court records show.

    • Horror Blogger Threatened With Defamation And Copyright Lawsuits After Writing An Open Letter To Horror Magazine

      It’s amazing how some people seem to think that basic criticism is defamatory. We recently wrote about how the editor of a journal that published a review of a legal book is now facing a defamation lawsuit in France, even though the book review was just a typical book review (and only slightly negative). Now, Robert Ring points us to the news of a “horror” blogger who wrote a somewhat critical “open letter” to the horror magazine Gorezone, complaining about the apparent grammar and spelling problems in the magazine combined with what the blogger felt was rather sexist content. Frankly, the open letter isn’t even that critical. It’s one blogger’s opinion with some constructive criticism.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Digital Economy Bill Could Be Pushed Through Before Election

      The controversial Digital Economy Bill could be pushed through parliament as part of the “wash up” ahead of the election in April, according to industry insiders

    • Lib Dems make the Digital Economy Bill even worse

      The government’s Digital Economy Bill has just got even worse:

      Imagine that, in the Summer of last year, you had been following the MP’s expenses scandal and heard that The Telegraph was publishing a rather less redacted version that MP’s were prepared to give us. Interested, you navigated your way to www.telegraph.co.uk only to find it was not responding. After some searching around and asking friends you discover that the website has been blocked by most major UK ISP’s. It seems a junior official in Parliament had asked them to block The Telegraph for copyright violation.

      Just this could happen as a result of amendment 120A to the Digital Economy Bill that was passed yesterday in the House of Lords.

      Amendment 120A was proposed by Lord Tim Clement-Jones, a Liberal Democrat life peer. The amendment could provide a lot of lucrative work for intellectual property law firms whose clients want to crack down on free speech; law firms such as DLA Piper, who — entirely coincidently — Lord Clement-Jones works for.

    • My Lords, you can’t please the entertainment industry and sustain privacy

      Liberal Democrat peers have added an amendment to the Digital Economy bill which outlaws ‘web lockers’. Have they never tried to send a large, personal, private file?

    • Thousands Sign Petition Protesting Net Neutrality Loopholes for Copyright Enforcement

      San Francisco – The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) submitted a petition signed by more than 7000 people to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) today demanding that the agency close a loophole for copyright enforcement in its proposed regulations for network neutrality.

    • So what is a digital agenda?

      Is Minister Clement is serious about modernizing the digital landscape in Canada? I don’t know. If he is however, he needs to look at some of the basics:

      1) Is universal internet access important?
      2) If universal access is important, how do you implement it?
      3) If universal access is important, how do you handle the costs?
      4) Is our current system delivering the level of internet access that we need?

      To a certain extent Internet Access is equivalent to Road Access in how it affects the citizens of Canada.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • The Cult of Originality

      I write this not to be “original,” but to share what I perceive as true. I share an idea because I am lonely. The less my reality is reflected back to me, the lonelier I become. I want to find “my people,” people who can see what I see, who know what I know. Because the arguing gets tiring. And it turns out that many who argue with me do see what I see and know what I know – they just aren’t aware of it yet.

    • RIAA Claims File Sharers Are ‘Undermining Humanitarian Efforts In Haiti’, But Leaves Out The Facts

      Wow. The RIAA is getting seriously desperate these days. In the past, at least, its arguments made a little bit of sense, if you didn’t understand the details or have the data. But these days, they’re really reaching. We’ve already covered Mitch Bainwol’s bizarre attempt to link Chinese hackers breaking into Google with copyright law — despite the two being totally unconnected. And, now, the RIAA is claiming that P2P file sharers are “undermining” humanitarian efforts in Haiti. Now that’s quite a claim, and you would think the RIAA would have some evidence to back it up, but (of course), it doesn’t. It’s just making stuff up.

    • Tiny Novato winery wins trademark case against Trek Bicycle

      A federal judge in Wisconsin today tossed out a trademark-infringement case against tiny Novato-based Trek Winery LLC brought by Trek Bicycle Corp., one of the largest bike manufacturers in North America.

    • Subway, Quiznos Agree to Stop Fighting Over Hard-Hitting Viral Video Campaign

      Subway and Quiznos settled their long-running deceptive advertising dispute just days after trial judge ruled that Quiznos’ CDA Section 230 defense of its user-generated viral video marketing campaign is too meaty for summary disposition.

    • Dissent of the day

      The U.S. Federal Circuit, which usually goes out of its way to unjustly expand the contours of patent law, has issued a typically outrageous decision holding that a U.S. stamp which depicts a view of a public Korean War memorial violates the copyright of the sculptor who designed it.

    • First web copyright crackdown coming

      A coalition of traditional and digital publishers this month will launch the first-ever concerted crackdown on copyright pirates on the web, initially targeting violators who use large numbers of intact articles.

      Details of the crackdown were provided by Jim Pitkow, the chief executive of Attributor, a Silicon Valley start-up that has been selected as the agent for several publishers who want to be compensated by websites that are using their content without paying licensing fees.

    • Archiving Britain’s web: The legal nightmare explored

      A proposal that could give select institutions the power to take snapshots of websites without their owners’ permission is being ruminated by our Government. Civil servants at the Department of Culture, Media and Sport are now processing opinions on whether we should be archiving websites for future generations.

    • New study shows some correlation between free ebooks and higher print sales

      John Hilton, a doctoral candidate in Instructional Psychology and Technology at Brigham Young University whose interests focus on open education and open access, recognizes that there could never be a completely controlled study on the matter, but that hasn’t hindered him in collecting as much data as possible. Hilton coauthored a study recently published in The Journal of Electronic Publishing titled “The Short-Term Influence of Free Digital Versions of Books on Print Sales,” for which he examined Bookscan sales for dozens of print titles before and after they were released online for free.

    • Murdoch’s NY Post Continues To Source Articles From Bloggers With No Credit

      Rupert Murdoch and his minions at News Corp. have been going around banging the drum that Google and others are “stealing” from News Corp. newspapers by linking to their stories and sending them traffic. But at the same time, they seem to have no problem totally taking credit for stories that they source from elsewhere. Late last year, the Times (of London), which is a News Corp. paper was caught publishing someone’s blog post without their permission at all. And then there’s the News Corp.-owned NY Post, which last year had a reporter admit that it was the paper’s “policy” not to credit bloggers as the sources for stories. After that story came out, the NY Post insisted that wasn’t true, but it appears the paper has been caught doing it again.

    • How Balanced Copyright Gives Us As Many Freaky Alice in Wonderlands as We Can Handle

      Each of these versions are inspired by the original Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. Each was made with commercial motives in mind, not some urge to set information free (and generally made a lot of money for their creators to boot). Each, at least according to the descriptions in the Times, is bizarre. However what is most striking is that each is bizarre in a way that was probably unanticipated by Alice’s original author.

    • If you blog unauthorized “Daily Show” or “Colbert” clips, Viacom will sue your ass

      News broke yesterday that Comedy Central would no longer allow popular video site Hulu to present episodes of “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report.”

    • Senate bill would make state’s biodiversity pay off

      Hillyard’s bill would require that people who remove single-cell organisms for research or commercial purposes register with the Utah Geological Survey. It is expected that, in the future, another law would require those who turn that material into a commercial product pay royalties to the state.

    • ACTA

      • Sweden Says It Won’t Agree To ACTA If It Requires Any Changes To Swedish Or EU Laws

        While US negotiators keep insisting that ACTA won’t change US law, they’re perfectly willing to admit that’s not the case for other countries. That’s why much of what the US is insisting on in ACTA looks like the US’s quite problematic existing copyright law (minus a few consumer protections and with some “hints” at stricter compliance).

      • EU Apparently Agrees That ACTA Should Be More Transparent

        As far as I can tell from the earlier list, we’re now down to Singapore, South Korea and the US. That’s odd, because Singapore, South Korea and the US already have trade agreements of this nature. In fact, much of ACTA is actually based on the agreement between the US and South Korea — which is already proving problematic for those in South Korea.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Nakata Maho, founder of the OpenOffice.org Language project (2004)


Digital Tipping Point is a Free software-like project where the raw videos are code. You can assist by participating.

Novell and Yahoo! Gifts to Microsoft

Posted in Google, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Search at 6:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yooha!

Summary: A look at what goes on in Mono, Moonlight/Silver Lie, and Yahoo!, which relays users to Microsoft

THE latest news from Mono ought to suggest that the project makes too little progress. Nonetheless, Ubuntu is increasing its Mono dependency with gbrainy, which former Novell employee Joe Brockmeier is promoting at the moment.

Two years ago we explained how Novell helped Microsoft fight against SVG, which Microsoft is now pretending to have embraced [1, 2] (the results remain to be seen). Novell’s work on Moonlight helps Microsoft ‘extend’ the Web with Silver Lie, which is direct competition to the standard, SVG. Will Microsoft try to ‘extend’ HTML5? Microsoft is always trying to control both sides of the competition so as to manipulate the struggle in all fronts. Microsoft usually does this by ‘extending’ the standard in proprietary ways while promoting its own proprietary substitutes to that standard. This is very typical and includes Java, as well as ODF [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

“Microsoft is always trying to control both sides of the competition so as to manipulate the struggle in all fronts.”Need one recall the hostile hijack of Yahoo!, which gives Microsoft control of both companies? There are several Microsoft executives who are now in Yahoo’s management. Sooner or later it’s possible that Yahoo! too will spread Silver Lie.

Microsoft booster Joseph Tartakoff shows a development (by linking) after he reported that “Yahoo’s Bartz says there will be “smallish acquisitions;” Specifically, she mentions mom sites and analytics firms.” Analytics for what? For search? Advertisements? That can actually serve Microsoft and spy on Ubuntu users [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] (Novell/Mono and Yahoo! in Ubuntu both help Microsoft). Yahoo also disbands its mobile group as another manager quits.

Mitch Lazar, Managing Director and General Manager of Yahoo Mobile Europe, is leaving Yahoo after about five years. According to Tricia Duryee, Lazar admitted in a message to some colleagues that he doesn’t know what he’ll do next, either, which makes the situation look rather worse for Yahoo.

Microsoft destroyed Yahoo! in a very major way just before its big anniversary. On the other hand, Microsoft loses its ability to track customers of T-Mobile (via Yahoo!). “Yahoo may have lost its exclusive search deal with T-Mobile USA,” says this report, “but it is banking on a major reorganization to help recharge the company’s mobile efforts.” When Yahoo! wins a mobile search contract, it is a win for Microsoft, whose presence in mobiles is very scarce.

Apple Uses USPTO/ITC Protectionism to Fight Desktop GNU/Linux

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, DRM, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents, Ubuntu at 5:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Green-red apple

Summary: Apple shows its true colours and reminds people that it’s a fundamental threat to the Free desktop not because it competes but because it stampedes

Apple’s nasty attack on Linux made use of software patents [1, 2, 3, 4] rather than any technical merit. Based on this analysis, desktop GNU/Linux is also affected, not just Android. [via]

You have likely heard about the lawsuit Apple has filed against HTC claiming patent infringement. Kevin offered a good analysis of the suit and how it claims HTC is using Apple technology from the iPhone. Basically Apple doesn’t like what HTC is doing with Android on the phones it is selling in the U.S., as they claim it uses various technology developed in Cupertino for the iPhone. Much has been said that the real target of Apple’s suit is Google Android, as the smartphone OS is growing at a fast clip. I suspect that is true, but I think Apple’s fears go even deeper. I think the scheduled appearance of the Chrome OS later this year has Apple tied up in knots.

Chrome OS is the operating system based on the Chrome browser that has generated a lot of interest from both enthusiasts and companies producing hardware since the Chrome OS announcement. It is intended to be an alternative OS for cheap netbook-like devices, and is aimed squarely at the mainstream consumer. Google expects to capitalize on its familiar brand, and use the Chrome OS to push its online services into the device category.

Chrome OS is based on Ubuntu; if anything, it’s a simplified, stripped-down version of Ubuntu, so if Apple gets an upper hand here, it would do nothing to help GNU/Linux. It’s not just about HTC by the way. IT Business Edge put it like this:

Google Most Likely Apple’s Real Target in HTC Lawsuit

When Apple filed suit against HTC Tuesday for infringing patents Apple owns on technology used in the iPhone, it wasn’t clear which particular HTC devices were at issue in the case. Observers surmised the Google/HTC collaborative effort known as Nexus One was somewhere in the mix, but Google isn’t named in the suit.

As a side note, we have always been critical of Groklaw’s obsession with helping Apple in court; Apple has its share of corporate lawyers (it needs no help from a community) and Apple is no friend of the Free desktop. This latest lawsuit is proof of this, as there was no provocation to justify this (although everyone is suing everyone in this area of computing).

Slate, which has connections with Microsoft [1, 2], calls Apple’s action “Patently Stupid”

Apple’s multitouch lawsuit is both dumb and dangerous.

“Apple’s HTC attack is a very dangerous game,” says the leader of ZDNet UK. Apple’s hypocrisy is also mentioned in Android Web sites. It becomes somewhat of a fight between Google supporters and Apple supporters, but little is said about Linux, as opposed to the big brands which lead the reputation charts.

There is no doubt that Google is a big reason Apple has gone after HTC. In our eyes, this shows us that Apple views Android and the coming wave of smartphones as a threat to their business. Will there be a counter suit against Apple? Probably. HTC has been making smart phones of their and likely has a few patents they could dust off.

Glyn Moody says that this article is “another indication this is iPhone vs. Android” and HTC will fight back with Google’s support.

In other interesting news, Dave Winer covers what Apple is up to. Get a load of this:

Then I read this article in CNET that says Apple wants to cut a deal with the entertainment industry to store all their content on Apple servers. There’s a chilling comment in the middle of the story saying they want to get rid of hard disks. That, my friends, is Hollywood’s dream.

Let’s remember that Apple has connections in Hollywood and Apple is big supporter of DRM. It’s not just the company’s stance on software patents that makes it a disaster to software freedom.

“Apple is fighting against powerful and fundamental economic forces. In the short term, Apple’s technological and industrial design prowess can help to prop up dying business models.”

Timothy Lee

David Kappos Does Not Understand Why the USPTO is Broken

Posted in Google, Patents at 4:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A ring

Summary: The USPTO claims to be working to resolve its problems, but it might only make things worse (patent saturation) rather than better

LORA Bentley from IT Business Edge says that the US patent office is trying to “streamline [the] application process” as though the issue with the office is that it doesn’t issue patents quickly enough.

In a Mercury News piece at SiliconValley.com, writer Chris O’Brien details a conversation he had with U.S. Patent and Trademark Office director David Kappos. Even Kappos admits the system is broken. “We are trying to work our way through a broken system,” he told O’Brien. The goal is to improve the average time between application and approval from the typical three and a half years (which is how long Facebook waited for approval of its news feed patent) to a single year.

What’s broken is scope, not pace or litigation (e.g. amassing damages for collection from several jurisdictions). It sometimes seems as though those who are greedy for more patents, namely lawyers, have hijacked the criticism and the call for a reform. They pretend that the USPTO is broken because it does not issue enough patents. Rather, the office should adjust scope, then the workload will not be an issue and there will be no backlog, either (or a much smaller one). David Kappos, the Director of the USPTO, once complained about “creating a new 20-year monopoly for no good reason.” He was referring to patents that should not be granted, so how is streamlining the solution? It’s not.

The USPTO ought to look at how a particular class of patents actually advances/hinders science and society, not how it helps protect a company from competition. In separate news, the USPTO ratifies a project that uses free labour (volunteers) to endorse or reject patents. How is that beneficial? Bad patents should just not be allowed in the first place.

The first change is that it looks like the Patent Office is going to open up the patent approval process in a pilot program by allowing for a sort of peer review using evidence of prior art or prior patents to be submitted to disqualify a current patent application filing.

This is not the solution, it’s a band-aid on top of a broken system (just follow the symptoms). The USPTO should abolish many types of patents that do nothing to improve science. Software patents are just one example. Early in the week we wrote about Gregory Girard getting arrested. He had a software patent which was used for trolling, as this new article reminds us.

Last year, The Prior Art covered Garrod’s side project, an unusual one for a PubPat attorney: he owns a patent-holding company, Bedrock Computer Technologies, which has enforced a software patent by suing several technology companies in East Texas.

Google should also drop its obsession with software patents, which it not only applies for [1, 2, 3] (trivial ideas even) but also harbours in YouTube. The same goes for Facebook, whose latest controversial software patent [1, 2] gives reasons for unrest.

Earlier this week, Scottish blogger and law lecturer Andres Guadamuz accused Facebook of aiming to protect “a trivial use of databases”.

“It seems like the software patent standard in the US is so low that all one needs is to get a clever patent attorney to attach a lot of mumbo jumbo to mundane database functions and voila, you are given a patent,” he wrote.

Another controversial type of patents would be gene patents. There’s a broad spectrum of patents on life and nature; this is ridiculous as not only does it contribute nothing to advancement but it also increases deaths [1, 2]. “Commons Sense” is the title of this new post which is critical of such patents.

One of my recurring frustrations in making my case against gene patents is the failure by some to grasp the argument I am trying to make regarding the nature of “the commons”. Perhaps I have been unclear, or maybe the approach I am taking to property law and justice is too far afield from those more frequently made to be immediately understood. Yesterday, however, I gave a guest lecture in an ethics course for ICT students (software programmers, mostly), and gained a lot from the experience. These students not only grasped the argument, but embraced it, and helped to clarify a subtlety that I need to elaborate upon in defining the “commons by necessity” that I believe genes and other parts of the universe belong to.

Briefly, to summarize, I argue that the justice of property rights derives from the logical and practical ability of people to enclose a space, and the need for a rival to use violence to dispossess a possessor of the space. Thus, property rights in land and movables are grounded in these brute facts. There is no such grounding for intellectual property rights. Moreover, there are parts of the universe that cannot be justly owned, and IP claims over these “commons by necessity” are unjust. These are parts of the universe which cannot be held exclusively by anyone, as a matter of brute fact. Examples include: the laws of nature, radio spectra, and genes which are de facto unencloseable. My thanks to Stephan Kinsella who helped me to realize that this applies, actually, to all ideas, and thus makes all IP law a similar incursion on an unencloseable commons by necessity.

Here is an informed opinion about the Eastern District of Texas, where many patent trolls choose to strike.

My friend Sawyer is back with another post in his series of talking about software patent issues. As I mentioned before, Sawyer is a real person named after our intrepid friend in LOST (I haven’t seen it this week – no spoilers please) who has agreed to help us navigate the parallel universe known as software patent land. I’m channeling Sawyer’s points of view as a public service announcement since he’s uncomfortable being named publicly – these are his words, not mine. Today’s post is on the famed “Eastern District of Texas” (EDTX), one of the most popular places in the United States for patent litigation.

To patent trolls, it’s simply a matter of loopholes and economics. “How to Cut Your Patent Costs” is the title chosen by this person who described himself as: [emphasis is ours]

Rick Martin is a native of Brooklyn, N.Y. He entered law school at age 38, and now is a patent attorney in Colorado. He founded his firm in 1992 and has written hundreds of mechanical, electrical, and software patents over the past 25 years.

“Patent attorney”… and what has he actually contributed to science?

The USPTO is in serious trouble because lawyers and patent trolls (who are often lawyers) took over this system, which only rewards monopolies and lawyers; neither contributes to the betterment of science and the USPTO is looking to expand granting of monopolies (to use the phrase of Kappos) rather than reduce them. This system is self-defeating in a way.

Microsoft Angers the World by Asking for a Form of Security Bailout, More Fundamental Windows Flaws Found

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 4:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Screaming

Summary: Microsoft’s recommendation of “Internet tax” for removing Windows botnets/zombies doesn’t fly; Windows DEP (data execution prevention) is busted

EARLIER in the week we wrote about Microsoft’s Charney suggesting that everyone — UNIX and Linux users included — should pay [1, 2] to compensate for Microsoft’s own negligence [1, 2, 3]. Many people already pay for the damage collectively; for instance, if banks lose money due to zombie Windows PCs that compromise accounts, then interest rates will be lessened. These are some of the hidden costs everyone pays for Microsoft’s incompetence. In Germany, it's hardly even hidden anymore.

“Microsoft’s Laugh-a-Minute Show Continues,” says Glyn Moody regarding Microsoft’s arrogant suggestion.

Can you believe it? Microsoft’s lousy programming has caused *billions* of pounds worth of damage to the global economy in terms of downtime, lost files (and probably blood pressure problems) and it has the bare-faced cheek to suggest there should be an “Internet usage tax” on *everyone* (including GNU/Linux users) to pay for the rectification of *its* mistakes? No wonder Scott Charney has the humorous and manifestly self-contradictory title of “Microsoft Corporate Vice President for Trustworthy Computing”….

Here is another response: “Taxing every citizen for Microsoft Windows problems? Are we insane?”

Just when you think you’ve heard everything, something new arrives. Two years ago, we heard that half a million computers are infected with malicious bots every day (a “bot” is a software program that enters your computer from the Internet or inside infected files, then runs in the background to steal your data, send spam or wreak havoc in some other way).

This is a huge problem both because we depend on digital data in too many ways to explain them here (but you may read about them in the Open Government Book) and because of environmental reasons. According to a McAfee report published in May 2009 the amount of energy used every year to transmit, process and filter spam would be enough to power 2.4 million homes, with the same Greenhouse Gas emissions as 3.1 million passenger cars.

On March 2nd, 2010, Microsoft Corporate Vice President for Trustworthy Computing Scott Charney spoke at a computer security conference about this very theme, that is how to fight the damages caused by computers infected by bots (or “malware”).

According to the summary published on ComputerWorld, Mr Charney started correctly. He pointed out that, just as there are quarantine programs for people with infective diseases, the same thing should happen with people who have computers infected by malware but, for any reasons, won’t fix them up as soon as possible: such people should not be allowed to go online until their computer is clean and safe.

Windows is insecure not because people are negligent; Microsoft itself is extremely negligent and there are many examples of this. “Typical Windows user patches every 5 days,” says this new report from IDG (quoting Secunia).

75 Microsoft, third-party patch events each year are a burden most users can’t bear, says Secunia

Here is Berend-Jan Weve finding another security problem in Windows. From SJVN:

Honest to God I don’t go around trying to pick on Windows for its security problems, but the hackers keep finding new ways to break into it. And, this time, they’ve found a doozie. Berend-Jan Wever, aka “Skylined,” a Google security software engineer has busted DEP (data execution prevention), one of the few significant security improvements Microsoft has made to Windows.

DEP, which was added to Windows back in August 2004 in XP SP2. It addressed the very common hacking technique of buffer overflows. In a buffer overflow attack, a malicious program tries to overwrite the buffer, the amount of memory a program has been allocated for running its code in. By so doing, a buffer overflow overwrites memory that may or may not have been allocated to other programs. In either case, it can then use this overwritten memory for its own purposes. Usually this means running malware or even taking over the computer itself.

[...]

Unfortunately, Wever, using a variation of a hacking technique he helped perfect called heap-spraying has busted DEP. In heap-spraying, the attack code made an educated guess at where vulnerable memory that could be used to execute unapproved programs could be found. In Wever’s latest trick, the attacking code looks for clues on where to find memory that’s allowed by DEP to run programs. Once armed with this information, the attack code can then successfully plant itself in the system.

While the attack code isn’t ready to go for any script-kiddie, as Wever himself points out, he has given enough information on how to defeat DEP that it’s only a matter of time before a competent cracker uses the code to start enabling new attacks.

[...]

In short, if you’re running 32-bit Windows of any sort-XP, Vista, 7, Server 2008-you can look ‘forward’ to being even more vulnerable to attacks. Have I mentioned lately that I tend to do most of my desktop computing with Linux? Well, I am. This exploit opens up a new and huge hole in Windows’ already vulnerable defenses.

For some of its better enhancements to security, Microsoft relies on Free software in the form of firewalls, even virus scanners.

The open source ClamAV project is often used on servers as a way to scan and secure e-mail gateways and Windows file shares. Now ClamAV is coming to the Windows desktop too, by way of the cloud.

Vista 7 is not a solution because it’s not secure either. See the links below.

  1. Cybercrime Rises and Vista 7 is Already Open to Hijackers
  2. Vista 7: Broken Apart Before Arrival
  3. Department of Homeland Security ‘Poisoned’ by Microsoft; Vista 7 is Open to Hijackers Again
  4. Vista 7 Security “Cannot be Fixed. It’s a Design Problem.”
  5. Why Vista 7 Could be the Least Secure Operating System Ever
  6. Journalists Suggest Banning Windows, Maybe Suing Microsoft Over DDoS Attacks
  7. Vista 7 Vulnerable to Latest “Critical” Flaws
  8. Vista 7 Seemingly Affected by Several More “Critical” Flaws This Month
  9. Reason #1 to Avoid Vista 7: Insecurity
  10. Vista 7 Left Hijackable Again (Almost a Monthly Recurrence)
  11. Trend Micro: Vista 7 Less Secure Than Vista
  12. Vista 7 Less Secure Than Predecessors? Remote BSoD Now Possible!

Gates Foundation’s Head of Global Health Gags Academic Researchers With Threats, Forbes Magazine Calls Gates Vaccination “Utterly Repellent”

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception, Microsoft at 3:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Summary: Lesser-explored aspects of the Gates Foundation’s work (especially in health) are analysed further in light of coverage from the business press

LAST WEEK we wrote about the Head of Global Health for the Gates Foundation having somewhat of a criminal past. Gates Keepers has more to say on the subject.

It certainly looks like a lucky coincidence that this flufftalk interview of Tachi came out just as the heat is being turned up on investigating his threatening behaviour in his previous job. The Senate Finance Committee “says he made phone calls to officials at the University of North Carolina and the University of Pennsylvania to shut down studies of possible negative side effects of Avandia” made by Tachi’s company.

Tachi says he likes to give direct negative feedback so he will like Gates Keepers speaking straight: Gates Keepers thinks you acted unethically by threatening academic researchers. Restitution and amends are in order.

The Gates Foundation helps establish monopolies in health and it doesn’t take a cynic to see it*. Forbes Magazine slams the Gates Foundation in one of its latest issues that we found out about last night. It is a fascinating long article which speaks about the effect of the vaccines and monopolisation in the area. It’s titled “Utterly Repellent”.

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is fascinating. So is the just-released 19-page annual letter that describes the work of his charitable foundation–the world’s largest. But for someone so smart who can afford to hire a bevy of experts on any subject under the sun, some of Gates’ foundation’s strategies for problem-solving are baffling.

Consider its two-pronged approach to malaria. It focuses on bed nets–an ultra-low-tech, only modestly effective intervention–and the development of a vaccine, a high-tech solution that has eluded the intensive efforts of scientists for decades. Yet it dismisses the chemical DDT, an old, cheap and safe tool to control the vector–the Anopheles mosquito–that spreads the disease.

[...]

Consider its two-pronged approach to malaria. It focuses on bed nets–an ultra-low-tech, only modestly effective intervention–and the development of a vaccine, a high-tech solution that has eluded the intensive efforts of scientists for decades. Yet it dismisses the chemical DDT, an old, cheap and safe tool to control the vector–the Anopheles mosquito–that spreads the disease.

[...]

But policies based on science and data enjoy a short half-life at the UN. Last year, with a notable absence of fanfare, WHO reverted to endorsing less effective methods for preventing malaria. In a May 6 statement the WHO and the UN Environment Program announced that their goal was “to achieve a 30% cut in the application of DDT worldwide by 2014 and its total phase-out by the early 2020s, if not sooner.” In the absence of effective vaccines or new anti-malarial drugs–and the funding and infrastructure to deliver them–this decision is tantamount to mass murder, a triumph of radical enviro-politics over public health.

Gates has been doing many questionable things that we wrote about. Some people whisper about his suggestions at TED that vaccination is also used for sterilisation. Here is a video that highlights this. Now, to be clear, reducing the world’s population is not the issue here, but it’s about telling people what’s involved and what side effects may exist (if any do exist).

Watch this other report from this week. It seems almost like a bribe and Gates Keepers interprets it as follows:

Well those Southeast Asian lawmakers who earn billions a year from producing tobacco products are unlikely to just roll over and increase taxes to reduce consumption without a people’s movement to push them. SEATCA will receive seven million dollars but doesn’t look like a citizen participation organization to Gates Keepers.

We previously covered this subject in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].
____
* As a side story, Bill and Melinda travel the world, pressuring governments to accept the bill (at taxpayers' expense) for vaccination. They brags about donating access to patents (on life forms) that they invest in, i.e. profit from.

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IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: March 5th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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