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04.02.10

IRC Proceedings: April 2nd, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Links 2/4/2010: Ubuntu 10.10 is Maverick Meerkat

Posted in News Roundup at 2:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Easter rights

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • 7 Things That Are Easier To Do In Ubuntu Than In Windows

    When the average computer user hears about Ubuntu or Linux, the word “difficult” comes to mind. This is understandable: learning a new operating system is never without its challenges, and in many ways Ubuntu is far from perfect. I’d like to say that using Ubuntu is actually easier and better than using Windows.

    This doesn’t mean you’ll experience it that way if you’ve used Windows for a long time: at a certain your habits begin to feel like conventional wisdom, and any system that doesn’t match your current habits will seem difficult.

    [...]

    In many ways, Ubuntu is easier to use than Windows. Does this mean Ubuntu is superior to Windows? Of course not, and I wouldn’t suggest so. You should use whatever operating system works best for you.

  • Linux Gazette – April 2010 (#173)
  • KVM, QEMU, and kernel project management
  • Lexmark’s Linux Secret

    Not only are they providing CUPS drivers, but also they are even printing Tux in the corner of every box they ship right besides the Windows and Apple logos. Do you know who we are talking about? Probably not, but it’s Lexmark. After months of wrangling within the company, Lexmark has stepped up to become a Linux and open-source friendly company. We are seeing how far this Linux support extends as we try out the Lexmark Pro905 Platinum multi-function printer.

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • Element 1.1 for home theater PCs

      Element is a lightweight Linux distribution for use on a home theater PC (HTPC). It comes with most of the same video-playback applications one would find in a modern desktop distribution, but the development team has put considerable effort into wrapping the applications in an environment that is easy to navigate from across the room, and comfortable for non-multimedia-hackers. Tough challenges still remain for any HTPC distribution at the hardware and configuration level, but Element’s results are definitely an improvement over basic Linux systems in setup, application integration, and usability.

    • What’s new in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.5

      Optimised virtualisation, support for recently introduced AMD and Intel processors, new versions of OpenOffice, PostgreSQL and Samba as well as numerous fresh drivers are all among the major advancements of RHEL 5.5.

      After releasing a beta version in early February, Red Hat has now released version 5.5 of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL). As usual at the first stage in the life cycle of this Linux distribution for corporate customers, the new version not only offers new drivers and various corrections, but also numerous new features.

    • Ubuntu

      • Shooting for the Perfect 10.10 with Maverick Meerkat

        Our mascot for 10.10 is the Maverick Meerkat.

        This is a time of change, and we’re not afraid to surprise people with a bold move if the opportunity for dramatic improvement presents itself. We want to put Ubuntu and free software on every single consumer PC that ships from a major manufacturer, the ultimate maverick move. We will deliver on time, but we have huge scope for innovation in what we deliver this cycle. Once we have released the LTS we have plenty of room to shake things up a little. Let’s hear the best ideas, gather the best talent, and be a little radical in how we approach the next two year major cycle.

      • Ubuntu 10.10 to be codenamed Maverick Meerkat

        Ubuntu 10.04 is a long-term support release, which means that the focus during the current development cycle has largely been on stabilization and refining the existing technology. Shuttleworth says that we can expect to see a return to experimentation in the 10.10 release, with the potential for some radical changes.

        Some of the most important goals include delivering a new Ubuntu Netbook Edition user interface, improving the Web experience, boosting startup performance, and extending social network integration on the desktop. Shuttleworth also hopes to advance Ubuntu’s cloud support by simplifying deployment and making it easier to manage cloud computing workloads.

      • Final Decision For Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Window Controls Placement Announced By Mark Shuttleworth

        Mark Shuttleworth announced seconds ago that the Metacity window controls will remain on the left in Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Lucid Lynx), however the order will change to: close, minimize, maximize.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Paralyzed Artist Relies on Open Source Device for Drawing

    Even though Los Angeles-based graffiti artist Tony Quan’s body has been ravaged by Lou Gehrig’s disease, his mind is as sharp as ever. Unable to move anything but his eyes, he nearly had to give up his love of creating art until a group of hackers stepped in with an alternative. They designed Quan an open source eye tracking device that allows him to continue creating his artwork using nothing but the muscles in his eyes.

  • Mozilla Labs where the future is being made today

    A good place to join the discussion is around Mozilla’s Concept Series, which as the name implies is really a system for brainstorming. Once a prototype is built and a group created around it, it gets its own icon and identity, as with the Bespin code editor or Raindrop messaging group.

  • WordPress theme generator for non-geeks

    WordPress is unquestionably the most used blogging platform out there. There also are thousands and thousands of templates ranging from the free to the most expensive available for use on any WP powered blog.

  • Pentaho Secures $7 Million in Funding, Looks Toward the Future

    Open source business intelligence (BI) software vendor Pentaho has raised a cool $7 million in fourth-round funding, bringing it’s total funding to around $32 million. Company CEO Richard Daley talked to OStatic about how Pentaho plans to use its cash influx, and has some advice for other companies considering an open source business model.

  • Programming

Leftovers

  • ‘Supertaskers’ can safely use mobiles while driving

    A University of Utah study into the effects of mobile phone use on people’s driving skills has come to the expected conclusion that using a phone while driving can be highly dangerous.

  • Developers aim to attach transfer fee to homes

    Freehold Capital Partners, a company started in Texas, is selling developers across the country on a plan that would attach a private transfer fee to homes, allowing developers to profit for generations.

  • EBay Wins Tiffany Trademark Appeal, Faces Ad Claim

    EBay Inc. isn’t responsible for the ssale of fake Tiffany & Co. jewelry on its Web site, an appeals court ruled, while returning Tiffany’s lawsuit to the trial court for further action on a false-advertising claim.

  • Security

    • How many does China execute?

      You might have heard it said that China executes more people than all other countries in the world put together. Not just a handful, but thousands and thousands of people every single year. This, broadly, is true.

  • Environment

    • Rotterdam whale meat blockade

      The activists chained themselves to the mooring ropes of the container ship NYK ORION, which has meat from 13 endangered fin whales onboard in seven containers. Greenpeace is calling on the authorities to seize the containers and urging the protection of whales at the upcoming meeting of the International Whaling Commission.

  • Finance

    • A London trader walks the CFTC through a silver manipulation in advance

      On March 23, 2010, GATA Director Adrian Douglas was contacted by a whistleblower by the name of Andrew Maguire. Maguire is a metals trader in London. He has been told first-hand by traders working for JPMorganChase that JPMorganChase manipulates the precious metals markets, and they have bragged to how they make money doing so.

    • Goldman Sachs not sorry for role in economic crash

      Goldman Sachs is back. This time, they are not at the door asking for handouts to shine their guilded toilet fixtures. They are on a public relations mission to recover their image. Perhaps, they shouldn’t have claimed they were doing God’s work as they plundered billions from public coffers to save themselves if they cared about public perception.

      [...]

      The fact of the matter is that Goldman Sachs has reached its tentacles into the Obama administration, as it had the administrations of George W Bush and Bill Clinton. Thus, there has been little movement by the adminstration to follow through on it’s promise to reign in Wall Street’s risky behavior. This is where the people need to be heard.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Why Quietly Pro-War ‘Hurt Locker’ Has the Oscar Edge

      After another divisive war, Hollywood now has a chance to get back in the good graces of the American people, who always want to see our fighting men portrayed positively.

    • US oil company donated millions to climate sceptic groups, says Greenpeace

      Greenpeace says that Koch Industries donated nearly $48m (£31.8m) to climate opposition groups between 1997-2008. From 2005-2008, it donated $25m to groups opposed to climate change, nearly three times as much as higher-profile funders that time such as oil company ExxonMobil. Koch also spent $5.7m on political campaigns and $37m on direct lobbying to support fossil fuels.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Israel’s Supreme Court rules that no legal procedure is available to reveal anonymous commenters
    • Sham Email Subpoena Violates Whistleblower’s Constitutional Rights

      The whistleblower, Charles Rehberg, uncovered systematic mismanagement of funds at a Georgia public hospital. He alerted local politicians and others to the issue through a series of faxes. A local prosecutor in Dougherty County, Ken Hodges, conspired with the hospital and used a sham grand jury subpoena to obtain Mr. Rehberg’s personal email communications. The prosecutor then provided that information to private investigators for the hospital and indicted Mr. Rehberg for a burglary and assault that never actually occurred. All the criminal charges against Mr. Rehberg were eventually dismissed. Hodges is currently running for Attorney General of Georgia in the Democratic primary.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Obama admin: time to make radio pay for its music

      The recording industry scored a significant victory today with news that the Obama administration will provide its “strong support” for the Performance Rights Act. The bill would force over-the-air radio stations to start coughing up cash for the music they play; right now, the stations pay songwriters, but not the actual recording artists.

    • Spain’s piracy epidemic has studios considering no longer selling DVDs there

      As if problems in the U.S. home entertainment market weren’t bad enough, with declining sales revenue and continued pressure from low-cost rental services Redbox and Netflix, the major movie studios are close to being overwhelmed by piracy in a second major foreign market.

    • Hollywood Threatens To Stop Selling DVDs In Spain In A Push To Increase Unauthorized File Sharing?

      I’m really curious how Lynton keeps his job when his response to a market challenge is to leave the market entirely, shifting the unauthorized rate from whatever it is all the way up to 100% by choice. This is the same guy who claimed that the internet was killing the movie business, in the midst of a year with more movie releases than ever before and the largest box office take ever. He’s also in charge of the company that wouldn’t even support one of its own movies for the Oscars because it was afraid that the Oscar reviewer copies would end up online, even though the movie was already available for download.

    • On April 11, Jill Sobule and John Doe are recording their next solo releases in Los Angeles and they’re doing it together. YOU ARE INVITED ! !

      Keeping with the idea of creating innovative ways to fund recording sessions of new music while involving fans in the creative process, Jill Sobule and John Doe are inviting 40 fans to buy tickets to both participate and observe an exclusive recording session with Grammy-award winning producer, engineer, and mixer Dave Way on Sunday April 11th in Los Angeles. We’ve laid out a couple of different paths to experiencing the studio with the artists for your enjoyment:

      ALL-DAY “MUSICIAN’S MUSICIAN” ACCESS ($200)
      For recording engineers, DIY musicians or anyone that wants to see it from the ground up. Only 10 tickets are available.

      Attendees will be able to see and interact with every aspect of the recording process for the entire day, starting at 10am: set up, getting sounds, tracking, overdubs, editing and rough mixing. No prior recording experience is required but we’ll drill down as much as you’d like into the technical side of the process.

Clip of the Day

SourceCode Season 1: Episode 5 (2004)


Patents Roundup: Microsoft Patents “Guardian Angel”, Subverts EIF; 20 Years Wasted on One Patent

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 1:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patents in Easter

Summary: New indicators of a failed patent system, with Microsoft playing a role in this failure; April responds to Microsoft’s lobbying

‘Tis the season to abolish ridiculous patents, such as patents on human life [1, 2].

Microsoft is one of the major barriers that continue to plague the world with software patents (sometimes exploiting loopholes that allow them to be filed almost everywhere). It’s one of those things that make Microsoft a unique competitor and not “yet another” proprietary software company. According to this new post from the blog of Om Malik (whom Microsoft paid to secretly recite slogans):

….Microsoft has been granted a patent for a virtual assistant called “Guardian Angel.”

Based on the description in the patent (which was originally filed in 2006), Guardian Angel sounds like someone took the idea behind Bob and Clippy and turned the dial up to 11.

April, an advocacy group from France, writes to the European Commission about the EIF (European Interoperability Framework) which we wrote about earlier this week after repeated warnings from David Hammerstein that Microsoft had injected its patents agenda.

April publishes a letter to the European Commission supporting Commissioner Neelie Kroes’ approach in favor of open standards and interoperability in the digital agenda.

At the European level, open standards and interoperability are endangered and could disappear from European Union’s digital policy agenda. Neelie Kroes, European Commissioner in charge of Digital Strategy (and former European Commissioner for Competition), is currently drafting the agenda for Europe’s digital policy.

[...]

These pressures come within a context in which proprietary software lobbies, Microsoft at their head, are trying to revise downward the open standard definition. See especially “EIF 2.0: lettres ouvertes à la Commission européenne pour sauvegarder l’interopérabilité”.

In other patent news we have:

After 20 years, local physicist gets patent for magnet [via]

Roy Weinstein had given up.

To heck with the patent office, the 82-year-old physicist decided. After waiting two decades for a patent on his potentially revolutionary superconducting magnets, he’d had enough.

“As you might imagine, waiting 20 years is a pretty nasty chore,” said Weinstein, an emeritus professor at the University of Houston.

Don’t Protect Patent Lying [via "Patent Reform Bill Would Curtail Lawsuits Against Those Who Falsely Claim Patent Protection"]

Without the cloak of behind-the-scenes corporate influence, it becomes immediately apparent that there is no rational explanation for the Senators’ sudden rush to overturn a law that has been part of our country for over 150 years and whose only impact will be to help rid our marketplace of intentionally deceptive false statements.

 

Daniel Ravicher, who has been really active in these kinds of lawsuits — and, incidentally, was also a major player in the Myriad gene patent case — helping to get gene patents invalidated — has an article up trashing the patent reform bill for “protecting patent lying.”

Rejoice: It’s No Longer Patent Infringement To Sell A Trading Card With Memorabilia

Justin Levine highlights the ridiculousness of the patent system today by noting that it took the court system eight years to determine that attaching memorabilia to a trading card shouldn’t be patentable (pdf)… and even then, a CAFC judge dissented, claiming that the patents could be valid. The patents in question, 5,803,501 and 6,142,532 are pretty straightforward. Basically, they’re about taking some piece of memorabilia and attaching it to a trading card (for example, attaching a piece of a jersey worn in a baseball game to a baseball card of the player).

We wrote about that last one in this post.

Red Hat/Fedora Deliver GNOME Without the Mono

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Red Hat at 1:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Fedora 12 with GNOME

Summary: GNOME 2.30 is out and Fedora leaves Tomboy out of the loop

F

edora rejects Mono and Moonlight, so with the new release of GNOME the following observations surface, thanks to an exchange of information with Stormy Peters:

Not all Linux distributions that use GNOME choose to include the application, however. Fedora Linux, for example, has moved to the gNote application as a substitute for Tomboy. Tomboy relies on the Novell-led Mono effort, which provides .NET functionality on Linux, but which has raised eyebrows of some in the Linux community due to its connection to Microsoft technology and intellectual property.

“The Tomboy and gNote projects are different teams,” Peters said. “Tomboy is also working on Tomboy Online, which will be a Web service capable of hosting your notes so you can access them from multiple locations.”

Opponents of Gnote (mostly Mono bullies and Novell employees) have been spreading the rumour that Gnote is dead, but it's doing just fine. It works a lot better than Tomboy and Fedora has been using it for almost a year.

Federal Appeals Court Deals Blow to OOXML as This Proprietary Microsoft Format Becomes Increasingly Irrelevant

Posted in Courtroom, Deception, Formats, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 1:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“ISO is dead for software standards. Do you need an official funeral?”

Benjamin Henrion, FFII

Summary: This past week of Document Freedom brings even more abysmal news for Microsoft’s corruption-riddled response to ODF (OpenDocument Format)

LAST NIGHT we wrote about attempts being made by Alex Brown to pass the blame to Microsoft, having actually helped Microsoft be where they are. What a fox. Does he really believe that people will forget what he did to promote OOXML while serving as a supposedly-independent participant [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21]? Tim Anderson, a longtime Microsoft booster, has mentioned Brown’s mea culpa and so did Andy Updegrove, who apparently foresees failure for OOXML.

In reviewing my RSS feed this morning, I found this interesting blog entry by Alex Brown, titled Microsoft Fails the Standards Test. In it, Alex makes a number of statements, and reaches a number of conclusions, that are likely to startle those that followed the ODF-OOXML saga. The bottom line? Alex thinks that Microsoft has failed to fulfill crucial promises upon which the approval of OOXML was based. He concludes that unless Microsoft reverses course promptly, “the entire OOXML project is now surely heading for failure.”

Wow.

Andy Oram points out in the comments: “The OOXML battle is no joke; it had serious repercussions throughout the public setting. Microsoft launched its OOXML campaign in the mid-2000s at a time when several countries and US states (notably the state Andrew and I live in, Massachusetts) made real efforts to move to ODF for the public good. The fake standardization of OOXML helped Microsoft’s propaganda campaign to keep MS Office in government use, although I’m sure it wasn’t the critical factor. The movement failed and history has moved on. Microsoft avoided the loss of customers and the PR boost open source could have achieved had ODF gotten into government agencies. Now the question is whether desktop office tools will be replaced by Software as a Service, so there’s little point in refighting the old battle. But open formats are more important than ever, and the new power of the movement for transparent government can correct the historical grievance.”

“The fake standardization of OOXML helped Microsoft’s propaganda campaign to keep MS Office in government use, although I’m sure it wasn’t the critical factor.”
      –Andy Oram, O’Reilly
As we pointed out before, fragmentation issues already plague OOXML (there have always been too many Microsoft implementations, none of which complied with the specifications). These are further exacerbated by the i4i case [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12], which revealed that Microsoft had hidden software patents affecting OOXML.

Some sources have spoken about a potential appeal in the i4i case (or a settlement), but OOXML seems to be dead in the water at least as a ‘standard’ because the i4i ruling is final, based on Reuters.

A federal appeals court denied on Thursday Microsoft Corp’s request that a full panel of judges rehear arguments in its long-running patent dispute with a small Canadian technology company.

 

One of the more troubling patent rulings in the past year involved a Canadian company, i4i, that held a patent (5,787,449) that appears to broadly (very broadly) cover editing a custom XML document, separate from the presentation layer of a document.

The 5th anniversary of ODF is less than a month away. From Rob Weir’s Web log:

We’ll be hitting a significant date next month. It was on May 1st, 2005 that Open Document Format (ODF) 1.0 was approved by OASIS.

I hope we can all take time to reflect on far we’ve gone, with the specification itself, with the quality and diversity of implementations and with world-wide adoption.

A lot of coverage about “Document Freedom” has appeared over the past week (included in our daily links), which is evidence of continued momentum for a real standard that everyone can use and many vendors have already implemented. According to this new gem from Glyn Moody, Tim Berners-Lee refuses to accept Microsoft Office files.

We all knew that Sir Tim was a total star, choosing to give away the Web rather than try to make oodles of billions from it. Some of us even knew that he contemplated using the GNU GPL for its licence, before being persuaded that placing it in the public domain would help it spread faster.

Tim Berners-Lee is also against software patents.

Microsoft Hijacks Ed Roberts’ Death, Not Just His Career

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception, Microsoft at 12:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ed Roberts, by Spencer Smith
Photo by Spencer Smith, 2002

“He [Bill Gates] acted like a spoiled kid, which is what he was.”

Ed Roberts, Gates’ employer at MITS in the 1970′s (Atlanta Journal-Costitution, 04-27-97)

Summary: Thanks to publications that are in Microsoft’s pocket, Microsoft uses yesterday’s death of Ed Roberts to boost its own image

THE TRAGIC DEATH of an historical pioneer has just been hijacked by Microsoft and Microsoft boosters who pretend to be journalists. What really irritates about this is that they dance on the grave of the very same man whom they virtually ‘robbed’. As a reminder of the history of Microsoft, in 1975 “Bill Gates and Paul Allen “borrowed” computer time to produce a rip-off of the BASIC computer language (see 1964) for the MITS Altair. The product was announced and advertisements placed before work began to keep others from entering the market. It was expensive, released late, incomplete and riddled with bugs. When copies were passed around by users trying to come up with bug fixes (and who were reluctant to spend a lot of money for something that didn’t work), Bill Gates accused them all of “Software Piracy”. Thus we find the tone of Microsoft’s ethics, business practices, product quality, and attitude toward users (they’re all thieves) already fully formed in the first weeks of the company’s existence.

What did the BBC publish upon the death of Microsoft’s roadkill/victim? Here:

Microsoft founders lead tributes to ‘father of the PC’

The “father of the personal computer” who kick-started the careers of Microsoft founders Bill Gates and Paul Allen has died at the age of 68.

An anonymous reader who logged it to our IRC channel an hour ago (his nickname was “MSBBC”) wrote: “How MS hijacks even Altair founder’s death, and MSBBC reports on it” (for those who know nothing about Microsoft and the BBC, we are adding links below).

On Microsoft and the BBC

Cory Doctorow Explains Why Apple’s iPad is Bad and SJVN Shows That Mac OS X is Not Secure

Posted in Apple, DRM, GNU/Linux, Google, Security at 12:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cory Doctorow in 2005

Summary: Apple’s shoddy-but-highly-expensive products come under fire for artificial limitations and security problems

WE have already written quite extensively about why the iPad is technically inapt [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] (never mind the inapt company which makes it — a clearly misguided company that is suing Android [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] with Microsoft’s support [1, 2] because it has fallen behind GNU/Linux).

Here is Cory Doctorow’s new explanation of why he won’t buy an iPad (and thinks you shouldn’t, either).

Danny O’Brien does a very good job of explaining why I’m completely uninterested in buying an iPad — it really feels like the second coming of the CD-ROM “revolution” in which “content” people proclaimed that they were going to remake media by producing expensive (to make and to buy) products. I was a CD-ROM programmer at the start of my tech career, and I felt that excitement, too, and lived through it to see how wrong I was, how open platforms and experimental amateurs would eventually beat out the spendy, slick pros.

I remember the early days of the web — and the last days of CD ROM — when there was this mainstream consensus that the web and PCs were too durned geeky and difficult and unpredictable for “my mom” (it’s amazing how many tech people have an incredibly low opinion of their mothers). If I had a share of AOL for every time someone told me that the web would die because AOL was so easy and the web was full of garbage, I’d have a lot of AOL shares.

And they wouldn’t be worth much.

Coincidentally, SJVN (occasional OS X user) shows:

The latest Mac OS X upgrade is both enormous, 784MB and necessary. It fixes no fewer than 88 security holes.

“I have found that Macs are less secure than their current Windows and Linux counterparts,” said Dai Zovi, the co-author of The Mac Hacker’s Handbook. OS X is probably the most closed operating system that exists for the desktop and the iPad is no better in that regard.

Windows Wimpy (22.22)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Humour, Microsoft, Ubuntu, Windows at 11:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Windows Wimpy - small

Update: just to clarify (this might be elusive), the image shows Ubuntu influencing Microsoft rather than the other way around.

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