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03.13.10

AstroTurfing for Vista 7 Still Alive

Posted in GNU/Linux, Mandriva, Mono, Novell, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 5:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Kid with laptop

Summary: Andre Da Costa is still trolling the competition of Vista 7 while promoting this incarnation of Vista in exchange for gifts from Microsoft

OUR dear reader Goblin is the man who exposed a Microsoft AstroTurfer, Andre Da Costa, who also goes by the pseudonym “Mr Dee” in CNET. We have noticed that he is still trolling articles about GNU/Linux. “After he confessed to nymshifting one has to wonder,” wrote Goblin. “Maybe the Da Costa name has become too toxic to use? I see now he’s pimping Window 7 competitions,” he added [1, 2]. The reality behind Vista 7 is still being warped. Also from last night’s conversation:

_goblin Speaking with many non-tech folks who are using Windows 7….all is not well…. Mar 12 21:21
_goblin the general consensus is “Its just as bad as Vista” Mar 12 21:21
_goblin looks and works great the first couple of times…..connect to the net, install a few apps and it reveals its true form. Mar 12 21:22
Omar87 _goblin, let’s hope more sounds like these come to the surface. Mar 12 21:22
_goblin these comments are coming from “average users” who already had their fill of Vista. Mar 12 21:23

We are not at all surprised to hear this. On the contrary, many people are pleased with Mandriva, which is one of my favourites (others in the family use it). Another reader commenting on the same superb article from Richard Hillesley points out that:

Anyone else see the irony?

[...]

This paragraph brought a wry smile to my face:

“Miguel de Icaza, at that time a rising star of the free software movement and co-creator, with Federica Mena, of the rival GNOME project, expressed the mixed feelings of many users and developers. “KDE was an inspirational project,” he told Linux Journal, “but at the time, the Qt toolkit on which KDE was built was a proprietary toolkit.”

The fact that he’s working with Microsoft now in producing the wretchedly slow Mono to provide compatibility with .NET and potentially laying Linux open to all sorts of future problems is deliciously ironic.

In terms of Mandriva, hopefully they will survive and flourish again, it still hangs in there fairly high up in Distrowatch. They probably do KDE better than any other distro and have done a splendid job with the now excellent KDE4 desktop.

There is some new Mono software from Novell employees this week [1, 2]. It’s fine for Novell, but it’s a patent fine for the rest.

Mandriva is indeed an excellent distribution. It puts to shame other operating systems, but it just doesn’t advertise as much. Since it is still KDE-centric for the most part, it hasn’t much of a Mono problem, either.

Links 13/3/2010: Fedora 13 Benchmarked; OpenGL 3.3, OpenGL 4.0

Posted in News Roundup at 3:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • SerialTek Adds Linux Support for BusXpert and BusMod SAS and SATA Protocol Development Tools

    “We designed the BusXpert and BusMod to be portable from the start and we’re proud to be the only analyzer/error injector in the market to deliver Linux support,” said Dale Smith, President/CTO of SerialTek. “Many Linux users will greatly appreciate not having to maintain separate Windows systems for their test tools.”

  • MSI Donates Computers to Help Virginia Tech Students Form the First Ever Linux Laptop Orchestra

    MSI Computer, recently donated a number of MSI Wind U100 Netbooks to the Virginia Tech Music Department to help create the first ever Linux-based laptop orchestra. The diverse group is made up of theater arts, political science, engineering, biology and math majors and called the L2Ork, in honor of the open source software used by the group.

  • The history of Linux: Get your popcorn
  • Desktop

    • Nettop taps Ion 2 GPU

      Shuttle announced a Barebone XS35 nettop equipped with a dual-core Intel Atom D510, and Nvidia Ion 2 graphics. Meanwhile NewEgg is selling a Linux-equipped Eee Box B202 nettop for only $189, and the Eee PC-oriented Eeebuntu distro is moving from Ubuntu to Debian with EB 4.0.

    • Dell offers new Mini 10 netbook with Linux in Japan

      Dell Japan is selling the Linux version of the new Inspiron Mini 10 netbook. Like the Windows version, the Linux model has a 1.66GHz Intel Atom N450 processor, a 10.1 inch, 1024 x 600 pixel display, 1GB of RAM, a 160GB hard drive, and 802.11b/g/n WiFi. But it comes with an open source operating system.

      The product description says this model comes with Ubuntu 9.10, Moblin 2.1. It’s not entirely clear what that means, but my best guess is that it’s a version of Ubuntu Linux that uses the latest version of the Moblin user interface and incorporates Moblin’s optimizations for speedy performance on a low power Intel Atom chipset.

  • Server

    • Linux is the cloud’s future: IBM Canada

      While Elliott believes Linux is the ideal choice for cloud computing, he said any operating system will work because it’s really just a matter of making applications available.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux summit dissects MeeGo

      The Linux Foundation has announced sessions for its Collaboration Summit, scheduled for Apr. 14-16 at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco. This year’s event features a full-day workgroup on MeeGo, as well as discussions of Linux topics including toolchain, cloud computing, printing, filesystems, ISV porting, and open source compliance.

    • Linux.com 2010 Community Survey
    • Linux Foundation Announces Call for Participation for LinuxCon Japan

      The Linux Foundation (LF), the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux, today announced its Call for Participation (CFP) for LinuxCon Japan, which takes place September 27-29, 2010 in Tokyo.

      Formerly known as the Japan Linux Symposium, LinuxCon Japan will continue the tradition of educating attendees with technical and informative presentations and will foster collaboration between developers from Japan and Asian countries and their International colleagues.

    • Phoromatic Tracker Strides Forward

      Following in the success of the Phoronix Test Suite, last month we launched Phoromatic as a remote test management system targeted for enterprise users of the Phoronix Test Suite that allows the automatic scheduling of tests, remote installation of new tests, and the management of multiple test systems all through an intuitive, easy-to-use web interface.

    • Graphics Stack

      • The software renderer

        Currently the entire fragment pipeline is code-generated. Over the last two weeks I’ve been implementing the vertex pipeline, which I’m hoping to merge soon (hence the light smile). Code generating the entire vertex pipeline isn’t exactly trivial, but one can divide it into individual pieces and that makes it a bit easier. Start with the vertex shader, then go back and do the fetch and translate, then again move forward and do the emit, then go back and do the viewport transformations and clipping and so on, finally combine all the pieces together.

  • Applications

    • Text-to-Speech Software for Linux

      Text-to-Speech Software for Linux: If you’ve been using Mac OS X or Windows Vista before, you may be a bit disappointed to learn that there’s no speech synthesizer or text-to-speech (TTS) application that is installed by default on your Linux distribution. For those of you who don’t know what a speech synthesizer is, it’s simply a computer program that converts normal language text into speech. Text-to-speech software can be of great help particularly for people who are visually impaired and those who are mute.

    • Instructionals

    • Games

      • Involving and Challenging Casual Games of all Genres – Now Compatible with Linux!

        Kristanix Games announces the release of Linux versions of its most popular games. The Linux Games project now includes such high quality casual games as Sudoku Epic, Solitaire Epic, Mahjong Epic, Jewel Twist, Fantastic Farm, Crossword Twist and many more. The clear interface, rich graphics and variety of genres (time management, puzzles, cards, match3, math games, etc.) guarantee hours of entertainment! Free trial editions of Linux Games are available at http://www.kristanix.com/linuxgames/

      • GDC 2010: How Palm is pushing mobile gaming with its C/C++ PDK

        Palm’s highly regarded webOS is based on Linux, with many general applications created for it using web technology such as HTML, CSS and JavaScript.

        When it comes to games however, developers usually require low level access to hardware. That’s why Palm has come up with Palm’s Plug-in Development Kit (PDK).

  • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

    • Desktops and their performance

      Phoronix has used its Test Suite to compare the memory and power consumption of different desktop environments. However, the results should be handled with care.

      The “Power & Memory Usage” test was done to evaluate whether XFCE and LXDE consume less power and memory compared with their “big” siblings KDE and Gnome. The tests were done on a stock Ubuntu installation. At first glance the results suggest that KDE consumes much more power than the others. However, these results are misleading.

  • Distributions

    • Fedora

      • Fedora 13 Alpha Benchmarks

        We fired up the Phoronix Test Suite to run the LAME MP3 encoding, 7-Zip compression, LZMA compression, PostMark, Unpacking the Linux kernel, John The Ripper, GraphicsMagick, and the Bullet Physics Engine. As Fedora 13 still has a ways to go before its release and there are debugging options enabled within the alpha build as well as other development packages, its system performance now is not the same as it will be in May once it is officially released. With that said, we are publishing these graphs as-is for those interested in comparing Fedora 13 Alpha to the past releases or to Ubuntu 10.04.

    • Ubuntu

      • Adding Ubuntu to a list of distros I use, in addition to Fedora & RHEL…

        I have recently fed up with the broken dependencies and potential boot problems after ever every update and decided to give Ubuntu a try – an action that was long awaiting on my to do list.

      • Ubuntu as project in Google Summer of Code 2010

        I’m very excited to announce that Ubuntu has applied as participating organisation in the Google Summer of Code 2010!

        We submitted an organisational application, along with suggested ideas for potential projects for students. We also encourage students to come up with their own ideas.

      • Appearance

        • The color of stability

          What is the color of stability? A certain blue to be sure. Can it be aubergine? Well, this is what Ubuntu is trying to do with its upcoming Long Term Support (LTS) release, 10.04 Lucid Lynx. Make Ubuntu look different. Step away from its legacy orange.

          My initial reaction, as I was fighting a not so successful Jaunty update that turned my Shutdown button into Logout button, was a kneejerk impulse. Browsing through a gallery of copy-pasted images from Ubuntu Brand page and replicated like Borg in a kazillion blogs, I did not like much what I was seeing, a Mac-like imitation.

        • It’s time to fix the window controls

          March 3rd was a strange day. It was one day before User Interface freeze for the upcoming Ubuntu Lucid long term support release. By the end of the day we were supposed to have the entire look and feel of the desktop settled on so people could start writing documentation and books.

        • Purple vs Orange

          Scottie posted an entry earlier about the new Ubuntu branding. I’ve been meaning to make a very similar post, but I’ve had lots more important things to do the last two weeks.

          For those who have missed it, Canonical announced the new branding and artwork on the day of the User Interface Freeze for the Lucid development cycle. The decisions around the new branding have been met with some controversy, and as Scottie pointed out, some awkwardness around it. I’ll try to sum up my views about it in this post.

        • 2 reasons not to use when claiming Lucid changes are bad

          1: Ubuntu users aren’t used to the change
          I’m getting pretty sick and tired of the Ubuntu users out there that revert to saying that all changes that canonical has made to Ubuntu for 10.04 are bad “because Ubuntu users aren’t used to them”. I don’t really see how you can consider anything change unless something has … well … changed. Yes, these same people that are making those claims are the same people that are out there complaining about there being no changes.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • DD-WRT to power Buffalo Wi-Fi routers

      Buffalo Technology has announced that it will be using the free DD-WRT Linux-based alternative open source firmware in several of its upcoming consumer and small business wireless routers, including the WZR-HP-G300NH, WHR-HP-G300N and WHR-HP-GN. Discussing the new partnership, Ralph Spagnola, vice president of sales at Buffalo Technology, said that he considers the move to be a “natural evolution,” adding that, “With DD-WRT, we now deliver professional grade solutions at entry-level prices”.

    • Phones

      • Pocket computer that’s also a phone

        For this review, the spotlight is on Maemo, a Linux-based OS developed by Nokia that was initially made for its Internet tablet devices. Now, Maemo has been shoehorned into Nokia’s N900 smartphone.

      • Android

        • HootSuite Buys Android Developer Swift App

          Twitter client HootSuite, which recently raised $1.9 million in funding, has now made an acquisition, buying up Android app developer Swift App. HootSuite says that Swift App was behind the development of HootSuite’s own Android app, which was released last week. The company says the acquisition “means quicker development for the growing Android market.”

        • Inventor of the Cell Phone Joins the Android Community.

          Martin gave his iPhone to his grandson in favor of a Motorola Droid. Good move Martin! What better of an endorsement to the Android Community than the inventor of the cell phone picking up an Android phone. I wonder if Martin’s phone is rooted? Could he be running the latest 2.1 custom ROM all theme’d out?

        • Android Has Enough Class for Opera

          The availability of an Opera browser for Android handsets means more than additional choice for users. It means that the Android platform has achieved a new level of respect in the smartphone marketplace. “This is a clear sign that at least from a browsing standpoint, the platform matters,” said ABI Research analyst Neil Strother.

    • Tablets

      • JooJoo’s trip to the FCC reveals N270 Atom, Nvidia ION internals

        The JooJoo will ship with a Linux user interface, however other pictures from the FCC show it running with Windows 7 that could point to future OS choice. The non-removable battery should last for 5 hours. The JooJoo is due to launch on 25 March. Check out some more pictures below.

      • Here comes Linux’s iPad clones

        But — and this is the important bit — you don’t have to buy an Apple iPad to get all of the iPad’s goodies. ARM, a mobile microprocessor power, is predicting that we’ll see no less than 50 ARM processor-powered iPad clones by year’s end — and these ARM-powered entertainment tablets will all be running Linux.

        There will be also other Linux-powered iPad clones. Some of them will be running Android. Others will be running MeeGo, which is Intel and Nokia’s combining of their embedded Linux efforts. These latter devices will have the new Intel Atom Pineview processor family at their heart.

        All these Linux entertainment tablets are going to be cheaper than the iPad. You can expect to see the first of them by midsummer. Some of them will not force DRM on your content and, unlike the iPad, you’ll be able to watch Adobe Flash videos on them.

Free Software/Open Source

  • OSFA joins OSI in refuting IIPA’s attack on open source

    Open Source For America (OSFA), an organisation created to promote the use of open source in government, has denounced the IIPA’s “Special 301″ call saying it is irresponsible and misleading. The International Intellectual Property Association (IIPA) had called for the US Trade Representative to place countries such as Indonesia, Brazil and India, on a “Special 301″ watch list, normally reserved for dictatorships or repressive regimes, because the governments advocate the use of open source. OSFA say that this request is “both irresponsible and misleading in its characterisation of OSS”.

  • Mozilla

    • Seven Firefox Plug-ins That Improve Online Privacy

      Worried about preserving your privacy in an online world where privacy is disappearing? Here are seven Firefox add-ons that will help.

    • Thunderbird Lanikai Beta 1 Released

      The goal of this release is to smooth out the problems created by upgrading the Gecko engine that powers the program, and this is the first semi-stable release of Mozilla’s email client to use Gecko 1.9.2. The final version of Thunderbird 3.1 is expected to be available sometime in June, though the date hasn’t been set in stone yet, so there is still a possibility the release date to be changed.

    • Thunderbird 3.1 hobbles into beta
    • Updating the Mozilla Public License

      Here’s what interests me: I’m hoping to watch closely to make sure no one pushes to make the patent clause weaker in the name of “freedom to do what you want” or some such nonsense. After reading Jonathan Schwartz’s account of a meeting with Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer where they tried to sell him a license to use and distribute OpenOffice, it’s vital, in my view, that patent clauses are, if anything, strengthened. Microsoft is real life. They don’t change. There is no footnote to that truth.

  • CMS

    • Moodle: e-learning’s Frankenstein

      Offshoots, such as the OU, that promised to take Moodle to new heights, have then turned out to be separate species in themselves. This project put paid to the myth that Moodle is ‘free’, as they spent nearly £6 million 2 years ago (a cool million on Moodle development alone) and that was just the pilot! In fact, it turned out not to be such great, functional leap forward, more of a cul-de-sac in terms of the usefulness of the code. As a projects across the OU it’s been a great success.

  • Business

    • Building an open source business

      In 2002 I was working for Oculan, a company that founded an open source network management application platform called OpenNMS. Oculan used this platform as the basis for a network management appliance, but my job was to create a services and support business around the platform itself.

      In May, just after the release of OpenNMS version 1.0, Oculan got new investors, who decided to focus on the appliance and to stop working on OpenNMS.

      I knew that without at least one person dedicated to OpenNMS it would die, and I wasn’t ready to give up on it. So I went to the CEO and asked to become the administrator of the project. We talked for a bit, and then he looked at his watch and said that if I was off his payroll by Friday, he’d give me a couple of servers, the OpenNMS domain names, and his blessing to continue on with OpenNMS.

      [...]

      In conclusion, I should add that the first year I spent as the admin of OpenNMS cost me $5,000 of my savings. I’ve made money every year since then, and currently the commercial arm of the project has a dozen employees in three countries and seven-figure revenues. Oculan closed its doors in 2004.

      Open source isn’t just a good design philosophy; it’s good business.

  • Releases

  • Openness

    • Where indeed?

      Having taken a job in biotech, I feel a bit cut off from any such community — industry is notoriously protective of IP and fond of secrecy besides. I feel a bit of a fraud, for instance, taking part in discussions of Open Science issues on FriendFeed (such as the conversation kicked off by Alan’s blog post), knowing that I can’t talk openly about my own work. It doesn’t keep me from shooting off my yap, of course, but it’s a nagging icky feeling — and I keep getting the meta-feeling that it doesn’t have to be this way. Just as secrecy in academia only makes sense within the existing reward structure, secrecy in industry could be at least partly offset by policy decisions that recognize the gains in efficiency that collaboration can bring. I’ve heard multiple times from multiple sources that industry may close itself off from the rest of the world, but within a company, the teamwork ethic is amazing. Clearly, the value of co-operation is recognized. Why shouldn’t that also work for (larger and larger) groups of companies? What you lose by not being the only company to know something from which profit can be made (call it X) is offset by the fact that you might never have learned X without the collaboration — and in the meantime, the world gets X that much faster.

      It seems clear, though, that such top-down decisions are more likely to be made in academia, and perhaps the nonprofit sector, than in profit-driven industry — at least until there are enough concrete examples of success to tip the perceived balance of risk. If I’m — if we Open Foo types are — right, it’s actually riskier to compete than to cooperate in the long term. Better to own a share of X sooner than to delay any return on your investment in the hope of owning X outright later. This is especially true when the resources required to try to own X could be used to get you shares in multiple other projects at the same time.

    • WikiPremed: Making Money from Free

      The virtues of free are pretty inarguable, but advocating the open release of stuff inevitably begs the question: but how do you make a living from it? So it’s always great to come across a *thriving* business built on giving stuff away, like WikiPremed MCAT Prep Course, “an open access comprehensive course in the undergraduate level general sciences”.

      [...]

      But irrespective of the how, the simple fact of WikiPremed’s success is good news: it means that Wetzel is likely to continue to offer his content for free, helping who knows how many impecunious students in the process; it also means that free content has another great case study showing how you can make money from giving stuff away.

    • Association of American Publishers continues its campaign of textbook (mis)information

      The Open Educational Resource movement, based on the idea that educational content which is publicly licensed for modification and redistribution is a positive innovation in education, has just begun to break into the mainstream. Conceptually, the idea has been in the public sphere for years now with projects like the OpenCourseWare growing to over 200 schools and universities with over 13,000 courses online getting over 100 million visits from around the world.

    • A digital renaissance: partnering with the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage

      Today we’re announcing an agreement with the Italian Ministry of Cultural Heritage that will push this vision forward. Working with the National Libraries of Florence and Rome, we’ll digitize up to a million out-of-copyright works. The libraries will select the works to be digitized from their collections, which include a wealth of rare historical books, including scientific works, literature from the period of the founding of Italy and the works of Italy’s most famous poets and writers. It marks the first time we’ve ever joined forces with Italian libraries, and the first time we’ve worked with a ministry of culture.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Khronos Unleashes Cutting-Edge, Cross-Platform Graphics Acceleration with OpenGL 4.0

      The Khronos Group announced the release of the OpenGL® 4.0 specification. This is a significant update to the most widely adopted 2D and 3D graphics API, and includes the GLSL 4.00 update to the OpenGL Shading language allowing developers to access the latest generation of GPU acceleration.

    • Khronos Releases OpenGL 3.3 & OpenGL 4.0

      The OpenGL 4.0 specification (along with the OpenGL 3.3 spec) is available for immediate download at OpenGL.org. The OpenGL 3.3 specification is designed to bring as much of the new OpenGL 4.0 functionality back into OpenGL 3.x as possible while still retaining compatibility with existing graphics processors. The press release announcing OpenGL 4.0 and 3.3 can be read via the Khronos Group.

Leftovers

  • Government is an elephant

    Government is a big and unwieldy beast. Even when it is looking where it is going, it is all to easy for it to step on small creatures and hardly notice the crunch. All too often, it isn’t particularly looking where it is going and can tread on things without malice or intent – but if you are the small creature, the motives of the elephant are hardly your top concern.

  • China

    • Vanishing China
    • 11 more dead tigers discovered in northeastern Chinese zoo

      We’ve mentioned that it’s been a bad year for tigers thus far, ironic since it is The Year of The Tiger, but it seems like every other week just piles on more sad tiger preservation news. At least 11 Siberian tigers were found starved to death in a zoo in Shenyang, northeastern China.

  • Science

    • Eyeless hydra sheds light on evolution of the eye

      One of creationists’ favourite claims is that an organ as intricate as the eye could never have simply evolved. Fresh evidence to the contrary has now arrived, courtesy of a creature related to jellyfish.

      The tiny freshwater hydra has no eyes but it will contract into a ball when exposed to sudden bright light. David Plachetzki and colleagues at the University of California, Santa Barbara, have found that hydras “see” light using two proteins closely related to those in our own eyes.

  • Security

    • Ten reasons to feel uneasy

      Then the photo journalist Marc Vallée spoke about how he discovered the police were storing a private photo-database of everyone then can get pictures of at demonstrations, while intimidating us from taking pictures in public.

    • French bread spiked with LSD in CIA experiment

      A 50-year mystery over the ‘cursed bread’ of Pont-Saint-Esprit, which left residents suffering hallucinations, has been solved after a writer discovered the US had spiked the bread with LSD as part of an experiment.

      In 1951, a quiet, picturesque village in southern France was suddenly and mysteriously struck down with mass insanity and hallucinations. At least five people died, dozens were interned in asylums and hundreds afflicted.

    • Info Commissioner pleads with Tories to jail data thieves

      The data protection watchdog has strongly urged an incoming Tory government to quickly bring in jail sentences for data thieves, after the current government reneged on the idea.

    • HSBC admits huge Swiss bank data theft

      About 24,000 clients of HSBC’s private banking operation in Switzerland had personal details stolen by a former employee, the company has admitted.

  • Olympics

    • London Olympics: police powers to force spectators to remove non-sponsor items, enter houses, take posters

      The Olympics are coming to London, so our civil liberties are going out the window: because nothing epitomises the spirit of global competition and cooperation like corporate bullying and unfettered truncheon-waving.

    • Liberticide

      I always hated the Olympics as a vulgar, corrupt and expensive display of corrosive, narrow-minded nationalism. Later, I came to realise that it is also a splendid example of all that is wrong with intellectual monopolies, as the IOC tries to claims “rights” over everyday word combinations.

  • Environment

    • New Study Tracks ‘Outsourcing’ of Emissions Caused by Consumer Products

      More than one-third of the carbon dioxide emissions associated with consumer goods used in developed nations is actually emitted in other nations where the products are made, according to a new study. In the U.S., about 2.5 tons of carbon produced per person annually — or about 11 percent of U.S. per capita emissions — are emitted elsewhere, researchers at the Carnegie Institution for Science say. In Europe, it’s about four tons of carbon per person. In fact, in smaller European nations like Switzerland, the emissions associated with products manufactured outside the borders exceed the actual emissions produced at home.

    • IPCC Rainforest eco-tastrophe claim confirmed as bunk

      More bad news today for the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), as another of its extravangant ecopocalypse predictions, sourced from green campaigners, has been confirmed as bunk by scientists.

      The UN body came under attack earlier this year for suggesting that 40 per cent of the Amazonian rainforests – dubbed the “lungs of the planet” by some for their ability to turn CO2 into oxygen, and also seen as vital on biodiversity grounds – might disappear imminently. This disaster would be triggered, according to the IPCC’s assessment, by a relatively slight drop in rainfall of the sort to be expected in a warming world.

    • Open Letter from U.S. Scientists on the IPCC

      An Open Letter from Scientists in the United States on the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and Errors Contained in the Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

    • Can lobbying colour our whole UK democracy?

      We begin to see, I think, a very clear and chilling picture of what is happening to UK democracy as a direct result of its disastrous military alliances… Next week, as it happens, there is the launch of a rather different project which also deploys ‘futures thinking’. For this group of thinkers, it is also obvious that a radical claiming back of people power is on the cards. More of this project here on openDemocracy shortly. But in what Stephen Graham calls, ‘ the transformation of Western militaries into high-tech urban counter-insurgency forces’, my point is that these campaigners for a better democracy just happen to be on the other side. Is this scary undeclared war already changing the way we live now?

    • MPs and peer invoke parliamentary privilege as they plead not guilty to expenses charges

      Three Labour MPs and a Conservative peer facing charges over their expenses appeared in court today to argue that their cases should be dealt with by parliament rather than the criminal justice system.

    • Casting a Vote Against Internet Voting

      Caution on Internet voting appears prudent, since experts have identified a long and costly list of necessary precautions, including random spot checks and post-vote verification programs to preserve anonymity. Given the security risks, opening the door to provincial or federal Internet voting seems premature. In the zeal to increase voter turnout, the reliance on Internet voting could inadvertently place the validity of the election process at risk.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Simon Singh: This is goodbye

      I recently discussed this with Dr Peter Wilmshurst, the eminent cardiologist who is being sued for libel for commenting on the efficacy of a new heart device. Peter was put under immense stress when he received legal papers on Friday 21 December 2007 at 5.09pm, which was nine minutes after most solicitors closed for their Christmas holiday. It was not until the new year that Peter was able to get any legal advice, so it was an anxious Christmas.

      Perhaps it was just as well that Peter was not aware of the full implications of what lay ahead of him, namely at least two years of anxiety, misery and the threat of bankruptcy. Almost all his spare time has been spent on the libel case. When finalising his defence, he took two weeks of annual leave to work on the documents. Moreover, dealing with ongoing legal issues has prevented him from carrying out his usual medical research, and a number of publications have been put on hold.

    • Science journo quits writing to fight chiropractic libel suit

      The UK’s libel laws, which place the burden of proof onto those who have published inflammatory statements, have had a chilling effect on journalism in that nation, and have led to a closet industry in “libel tourism.” As such, there have been repeated efforts to reform the laws, often led by professional organizations of writers and journalists. A 2008 case, however, brought a new community into the fight: science communicators, drawn in when the British Chiropractic Association sued a journalist for calling some of its medical claims “bogus.” Although the legal fight has continued, the journalist in question, Simon Singh, has now been forced to quit his job at The Guardian in order to defend himself.

    • Censors of the Net (from LeMonde2)

      The last weapon in the Internet users’ arsenal is humor, and it can be devastating. Ridicule always kills a policy’s credibility. In China, since February, a tough “antivulgarity” campaign for a Web without crude language or photos forced ISPs to ask public forgiveness for the “indecent content” they had provided and to sanitize thousands of sites and social networks.

    • Donkey-politician vid keeps two Azerbaijani bloggers in jail

      Two Azerbaijani bloggers will remain in jail after using a donkey to represent their government in a satirical YouTube video. Adnan Hajizade and Emin Milli lost an appeal Wednesday asking for them to be released from their respective 2 and and 2.5 year sentences. Their lawyer vowed to continue appealing all the way up to the Azerbaijan’s Supreme Court and the European Court of Human Rights if necessary.

    • Govt internet filter going live is sad day for NZ

      The Department of Internal Affairs has admitted that the internet filter is now operational and is already being used by ISPs Maxnet and Watchdog. It appears that Maxnet have not told their customers that they are diverting some of their internet traffic to the government system to be filtered.

    • Chinese minister insists Google obey the law

      China’s top Internet regulator insisted Friday that Google must obey its laws or “pay the consequences,” giving no sign of a possible compromise in their dispute over censorship and hacking.

    • Beijing official warns Google to obey China’s laws

      A Chinese government minister has issued a stern warning to Google in the event the company stops filtering search results at its Chinese Web site: Follow our laws, or else.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • UK Liberal Democrats rise against Net blocking

      Members of the UK Liberal Democrat party are angry that one of their own put through an onerous web blocking amendment to the Digital Economy Bill. This dangerous amendment provides for web blocking by courts, in addition to 3-strikes provisions. It could usher in a bi-directional blocking of the UK Internet.

    • BT’s boss comes out fighting

      What Mr Livingston had to say will not make comfortable reading for Labour, the Conservatives or the Liberal Democrats. On the bill, he was concerned that people were going to have their right to fair hearing in court taken away – that his customers could end up having their internet accounts suspended for alleged illegal file-sharing without due process. He proposed an alternative – a system of fines much like those imposed on speeding motorists, with the accused then choosing either to pay up or have their day in court.

      [...]

      BT has appeared content in recent months to let Charles Dunstone of Carphone Warehouse grab the limelight when it comes to telling politicians what to think about technology policy. Now it seems Ian Livingston wants to make sure his voice is heard.

    • A wrecking amendment ?

      For the past few months the Digital Economy Bill (DEB) has been quietly making its way through the House of Lords. As is the way of these things, large numbers of amendments have been proposed, their lordships have had a series of mini-debates on each set of issues, and the Government have been busily amending the Bill in an attempt to fix all the things that they didn’t think through properly.

    • Digital Economy Bill is disaster for digital economy

      As well as ORG’s own campaign, Liberty and Consumer Focus have expressed concern about the Bill. Universities and libraries have expressed outrage that they are, somewhat perversely, covered by the Bill’s proposals much as householders are. Internet giants like Google, Facebook and BT have banded together to object to to the Bill, as have small businesses.

    • Three Strikes Rule: Sleeping for Seven Months

      Last month I requested the South Korean government to disclose information on the three strikes rule that came into effect on July 23, 2009. Surprisingly there was no single case in which the rule has been actually applied or considered to be applied.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Film piracy: Lord Puttnam targets tween curriculum

      During a keynote speech as president of the Film Distributors’ Association, Lord Puttnam said young people needed to be educated at an early age that it was wrong to illegally download copyrighted material.

      “The concept of intellectual property and its value needs to be embedded inextricably into the school curriculum,” he said.

    • Social networks a challenge to cable news: CNN US president

      The biggest challenge to Cable News Network is not other 24-hour television news stations but social networks like Facebook and Twitter, the president of CNN US said Wednesday.

    • James Murdoch: illegal downloading no different from stealing a handbag

      James Murdoch today called on governments to get tough on illegal downloading, which he said was no different from “going into a store and stealing Pringles or a handbag”.

      Murdoch, the chairman and chief executive of News Corporation’s European and Asian operations, was joined in calling for tougher piracy measures at the Abu Dhabi Media Summit today by other media executives including Ari Emanuel, co-chief executive of William Morris Endeavor, the biggest Hollywood talent agency.

    • Hollywood’s Post-theatrical Problem, Isn’t

      That is, the analogue side – ticket sales in the cinemas – is soaring, while the digital part – those “post-theatrical markets” – are on the way down. And that’s absolutely inevitable, of course, because the scarcity is all on the analogue side, while the digital artefacts – downloads, DVDs and Blu-ray – have close to zero marginal cost (not so true for DVDs and Blu-ray, but close enough), so you’d expect their prices and profits to diminish.

    • ACTA

      • Why Jordanians Should Be Against ACTA

        Back in 2007, the USA, EU, Switzerland and Japan started the negotiations to create an international agreement on intellectual property rights, the claimed goal was to reduce the trade of counterfeit goods and pirated copyright protected works through a legislative framework. The agreement is now known as Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement or ACTA.

      • What’s up with the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement?

        If you follow technology news services and blogs that are vaguely interested in digital rights issues, you must already have heard about ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. This is a multilateral trade agreement between the EU, the US, Mexico, Canada, Australia, South Korea, New Zealand and a few others, currently negotiated in secret that is set to tackle copyright infringement issues. As the name indicates, the aim of the agreement is to tackle counterfeiting. However, the most controversial aspect is that various sources have disclosed that the agreement is set to export some of the worst maximalist legislation out there, particularly in an attempt to curb illegal file-sharing. For the most detailed in-depth analysis of what has been happening so far, Michael Geist’s blog is the place to be. Nonetheless, I have been meaning to take stock and write a synopsis of what has happened so far for my own benefit. If you are confused about the various claims and counter-claims, I hope you find this useful.

Clip of the Day

Speech at Italian Parliament: Internet is Freedom

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: March 12th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 12:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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