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04.09.10

IRC Proceedings: April 9th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Links 9/4/2010: PS3 GNU/Linux Refund, Ubuntu 10.04 @ Beta 2

Posted in News Roundup at 6:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Promoting Free Software in Developing Countries

    That’s a reasonable price, but still $190 too much for most people in developing countries. The best solution remains sending out CDs and DVDs that can be copied and handed out locally among people who want them.

    It would be easy to create a Web site where people from around the world applied for free CDs/DVDs, and where those in the countries with more resources could burn those discs and send them out. But there are a few problems here. First, there are issues of privacy: people might not want to send their addresses to a site such as this. Then there is always the danger that the discs sent out might not be “real” distros, but might include malware. That can be addressed using MD5 hashes from the distros concerned (for example UbuntuHashes), but that’s a slow process, especially on older machines.

    [...]

    As well as the purely philanthropic aspect, there are good selfish reasons why people might want to help spread free software in developing countries. It would increase the market share of core software like Firefox, OpenOffice.org and GNU/Linux, which would help persuade more companies to support them, and more governments to adopt them. It would increase the pool of programmers who can contribute to free software projects, making them better for everyone. It would also make it more likely that entirely new, indigenous applications would be created for developing countries and their particular needs. It might even lead to a whole new era of free software creation and use.

  • Sony

  • Events

    • Linux Users Group hosts free quarterly Installfest

      A room strewn with slightly worn, yet comfortable couches, donated computer equipment and a collage of CDs spelling out “UCLA” hanging on the back wall is a haven for the technologically savvy and the technologically inept alike.

      The Linux Users Group office,in Boelter Hall 3820 is home to volunteers who provide software and hardware help to students and faculty in need.

      This Saturday, the Linux Users Group is holding its quarterly Installfest, where members will provide free Linux installations for students required to have it for class or those curious about how Linux works. Group members will give instruction on the basics of the operating system, and for those wary of putting a new operating system on their computer, will put the system on a USB drive, if provided.

    • Linux Users Group hosts free quarterly Installfest

      This Saturday, the Linux Users Group is holding its quarterly Installfest, where members will provide free Linux installations for students required to have it for class or those curious about how Linux works. Group members will give instruction on the basics of the operating system, and for those wary of putting a new operating system on their computer, will put the system on a USB drive, if provided.

    • The Linux Box To Launch New Email Archiving And Retrieval System

      The Linux Box will be launching an open source email archiving and retrieval solution at the AIIM International Exposition + Conference.

  • Desktop

    • A Good Evening

      For a young man a good evening is getting “lucky”. For me it was freeing two PCs from the Wintel monopoly.

      A few community members brought in a sick PC. It was a Lose 2000 box from 2000. Since the OS will soon no longer be supported and they did not like the performance anyway, I suggested using GNU/Linux.

    • Stats from Distros

      Recent estimates based wholly or partially on such data gives 24 million for Fedora and 12 million for Ubuntu. With that information and the rapid growth we all see, the 1% figure bantered about on the web is a joke.

    • Ubuntu Linux has over 12 million users
  • IBM

    • IBM on GNU/Linux

      The difference in costs is largely due to the fine work done by FLOSS developers and the package maintainers at Debian GNU/Linux. While I do not count the time it takes me to be conversant with FLOSS, which is something I would do whether paid or not, it is obvious my organization gets the benefits of software which would cost hundreds of dollars for just a few dollars, so the saving is a very high percentage. The difference in costs is very easy to estimate at around 90%. If we include maintenance, the difference is huge.

    • Voxware Adds IBM WebSphere And Red Hat Enterprise Linux Support To Popular Voxware 3 Software Product

      Voxware, Inc., a leading supplier of voice picking software for warehousing operations, announced support for the IBM WebSphere application server and Red Hat Enterprise Linux operating system. A major US retailer has chosen this technology stack for the rollout of their Voxware 3 voice picking solution.

  • Google

    • Google Updates Chrome Browser for Linux

      The amazing Chrome developers at Google Inc., announced today (April 9th) the immediate availability for testing of the Google Chrome 5.0.371.0 Alpha web browser for Linux.

  • Kernel Space

    • Next-Gen Linux File Systems: Change Is the New Constant

      With support for over 50 file systems, excluding user space implementations, GNU/Linux has been extremely successful at supporting file system innovation. That success has no doubt been aided by open source development. However, the storage industry is experiencing major architectural changes, and understanding emerging file systems — and how to apply them — is critical to keeping up with today’s demands.

    • R500 Mesa Is Still No Match To An Old Catalyst Driver

      Now with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS we have only the open-source driver to test. The Catalyst 9.3 driver that was the last to support the ATI Radeon Mobility X1400 graphics processor is not compatible with Ubuntu 10.04 (or even Ubuntu 9.10) due to the newer kernel / X Server. With our Lucid Lynx testing we ran our same OpenGL benchmarks using its default Linux 2.6.32 kernel (but it has the 2.6.33 kernel DRM), X.Org Server 1.7.6, xf96-video-ati 6.12.192, Mesa 7.7 configuration found in a clean Ubuntu 10.04 LTS installation.

  • Instructionals

  • Games

    • CrossOver 9.0 Linux [Review] Part 2: The CrossOver Experience

      Wine and CrossOver are brilliant products once you accept the flaws as part of the package, and consider it more a product to ease migration to Linux than an instant replacement for Windows. There will be pains, as users switching from Windows to Linux + CrossOver will surely need to adjust to Linux, CrossOver won’t help there. It can however let you make the best of old software licenses, which might have been preventing a full migration to Linux, and let you use Office 2007 in case OpenOffice does not suit your needs.

  • Distributions

    • Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mandriva Linux Names New CEO

        Recapturing mindshare in an era where Ubuntu’s fearless leader makes bold predictions and Red Hat’s enterprise Linux generates over a half billion dollars a year in revenue is no easy task.

      • Mandriva 2010 Spring (2010.1) Beta Available

        Functionally, as I said, I have had mixed results with installation, but on the systems where it did install it has woked very well. It is still fairly early in the development cycle, the final release is not scheduled until early June. If things keep going as they are now, this could be one of the best Mandriva releases in a while.

    • Red Hat Family

      • LinuxIT tempts new customers with Red Hat service

        Specialist Linux VAR LinuxIT has added a new service to its repertoire, targeting Red Hat customers with 10 or more servers.

        The basic-level service is free for all new clients, whether they are existing users of Red Hat or not.

    • Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx Beta 2 available
      • Canonical’s newest Linux operating system to be released April 29

        Every two years, Canonical releases a new “long-term support” version of its Linux operating system and on April 29, it will release the next one, 10.04 LTS, according to Gerry Carr, head of platform marketing for Canonical. Named for the month/year of its release, it will include a Desktop Edition as well as a Server Edition and with the latter, Canonical believes it is ready to replace whatever competitor (Linux, Windows or Unix) you’ve got on your servers now.

      • Ubuntu 10.04 facilitates cloud-based file storage and social media

        The open source OS already had a reputation for being easy to use, so the new features “aren’t earth shattering, must-have improvements,” said John Locke, head of the Seattle-based open source product company Freelock Computing. The listed enhancements are “just the next set of small niceties that get constantly added to Ubuntu and other Linux distributions” every six months, he said.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • EnSilica – New development suite for of eSi-RISC processor embedded application designs

      Debugging is seamless with communication over a USB interface to a host PC with GDB, the GNU project debugger, running inside Eclipse.

    • Timesys Partners with Digi International

      Digi International (News – Alert) has selected Timesys Corporation as the preferred commercial Linux solutions provider for the company’s new ConnectCore Wi-i.MX51 wireless System-on-Module (SOM). Timesys is the provider of LinuxLink, a high-productivity software development framework for embedded Linux applications.

    • Phones

      • Palm

        • Palm CEO Jon Rubinstein still believes in Palm’s Success

          Amidst the takeover rumors, this interview is quite reassuring that Palm is able to make it. Rubinstein also mentions that Palm still has $590m in the bank. This means they still have time to hang in there and mature their smartphones.

      • Nokia

      • Android

        • Watch as Droid Does All Kinds of Wonderful Things [VIDEO]
        • HTC Incredible User Guide Leaks [EXCLUSIVE]!

          The Incredible User Guide was brought to you courtesy of AndroidForums Member and Forum Phone Guide – Anonimac. To see the entire 200+ page guide you’ll want to head over to the HTC Incredible Forum Announcement where, as Anonimac puts it, BOOM GOES THE DYNAMITE!

        • Motorola Release: Bell Gets DEXT, Rogers Gets Quench

          Enter the Motorola DEXT and Motorola DEXT (Round of applause). Despite MotoBlur not being among the most popular of the Android flavours, I am quite excited to see it enter the Canadian market. We will see soon, as there is no official release date, what MotoBlur is all about when Rogers launches the Motorola Quench, to Bell the Motorola DEXT, and recently as well to Telus the Motorola Backflip.

        • Truckbot: An Autonomous Robot based on Android

          The robot builders over at Cellbots have been busy cranking out robots based around the Google Android OS. Their latest effort is Truckbot, an acrylic differential drive robot that relies on a Google G1 phone running the GNU/Linux-based Android OS combined with an Arduino.

        • Google Android Powered TV Coming in Fall

          Swedish based manufacturer, People of Lava, set to release an HDTV with a built in Android OS to let you surf the web.

        • Swedish company to launch world’s first Android-based TV
        • Clash of the titans: Apple, Google battle for the mobile Web

          Which platform wins remains uncertain, despite all the hobgoblining around from Apple defenders insisting it will be iPad/iPhone/iPod touch. There also are hints Google is directionally changing towards Apple. Google is unifying applications and services and offering more mobile apps for different mobile platforms. Google also is integrating apps and services around Android handsets. The winning platform, if one is to dominate will make lots of people rich. While I’ve focused here on Apple and Google as titans, Nokia is still the reigning mobile device maker by a huge margin, Research in Motion dominates the smartphone market and Microsoft is plotting a comeback. There are plenty of platforms in play, but Apple and Google are the most opposing.

        • iPhone OS 4 vs Android: Why Apple just lost the game.

          Android market share is going through the roof. With it, we’re seeing developers shifting their attention to Android, and releasing applications that are higher quality every day. Instead of getting wrapped up in politics, Android developers have the autonomy that Apple needs to give. Because let’s face it, approving every application does not mean that every application will be of good quality.

          For those who have crossed over from iPhone to Android, today’s announcements likely come as too little too late. We users shouldn’t have to wait years for basic features, or for nagging problems to be fixed. We should have the ability to find something that works better, if we don’t like what you’re offering, and we should be able to use it on our existing device.

          The Apple xenophobia, in this case, might be alienating iPhone OS 4 from gaining buyers.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • The Coming War: ARM versus x86

        The ARM Cortex-A8 achieves surprisingly competitive performance across many integer-based benchmarks while consuming power at levels far below the most energy miserly x86 CPU, the Intel Atom. In fact, the ARM Cortex-A8 matched or even beat the Intel Atom N450 across a significant number of our integer-based tests, especially when compensating for the Atom’s 25 percent clock speed advantage.

      • Lenovo’s ARM-Based Linux Skylight Smartbook Delayed

        The report states that the only market that Lenovo’s product will reach before June, in May to be exact, is that of China.

    • Tablets

      • ICD’s Tegra 2-powered Gemini is the most feature-complete tablet we’ve seen yet

        Multitouch displays will be available in both resistive and capacitive flavors, with the 1,366 x 768 resolution being filled by Google’s snappy Android OS.

      • Tablet Wars: iPad vs WePad vs Nokia slate

        However, the WePad is also a good looking device and, because it’s Linux-based, it could certainly win over the hearts and minds of technology purists – although, the WePad is slightly heavier than the iPad at 800 grams and the iPad isn’t what you’d call light either!

        At present, very little is known about the Nokia tablet – although, online reports have said that the device will be done in partnership with Intel and it will be powered by the Linux-based MeeGo platform. However, if the picture of the proposed device is anything to go by, it’d certainly be our third choice out of the big three.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Upgrading the motivational operating system: A conversation with Daniel Pink

    And then getting to open source, you have this business model that would have seemed fanciful if not insane 25 years ago, which is built not so much around these carrot-and-stick-motivators but around other sorts of drives becoming very popular.

    So I think that more broadly the operating system that’s used–the kind of societal behavioral operating system that is undergirding open source–is in many ways a model for the upgraded motivational operating system that all organizations need.

  • Mozilla

    • Firefox Lorentz beta available for download and testing

      A beta of the Firefox “Lorentz” project is now available for download and public testing. Firefox “Lorentz” takes the out of process plugins work from Mozilla Developer Previews and builds it on top of Firefox 3.6.3. This beta offers uninterrupted browsing for Windows and Linux users when a problem causes a crash in any Adobe Flash, Apple Quicktime or Microsoft Silverlight plugin instance. If a plugin crashes or freezes when using Firefox “Lorentz”, it will not affect the rest of Firefox. Users can submit a plugin crash report, and then reload the page to restart the plugin and try again.

    • Firefox 3.6.4 Coming May 4 with Out of Process Plugins

      Pressure from Google Chrome and, increasingly, from other main players in the web-browser market is forcing Mozilla to change its ways. Most notably, it’s starting to rethink its update schedule and system for Firefox and favoring small incremental updates, a la Chrome, instead of major releases months or years apart.

    • Firefox 3.6.4 (Lorentz) beta coming tomorrow with out of process plugins

      In recent days, the Firefox 3.6 branch became Lorentz, the code name for the first Firefox release to feature out of process plugins, which aims to improve overall stability by running plugins like Adobe Flash, Silverlight, and Java in their own independent process.

    • Firefox Lorentz Beta Isolates Plug-in Crashes for Uninterrupted Browsing
  • Oracle

    • OpenSolaris on System z mainframe hangs in the balance

      The future of OpenSolaris on the IBM System z mainframe seems shaky at best now that Oracle has acquired Sun Microsystems, but the platform’s supporters are still pleading their case.

    • OpenSolaris, Still Open-Source Software Ready to Serve

      ZFS is an advanced filesystem that offers high performance, near-zero administration, file integrity, scalability, reduced costs and backward compatibility. Without going into a lengthy and complicated discussion of storage pools and block allocation algorithms, realize that ZFS’s design features have the enterprise server in mind to extract every bit of performance possible from a disk-based system. ZFS is an intelligent filesystem that can actually adapt its read behavior on the fly for complex read patterns. ZFS also provides built-in compression and encryption.

    • Databases

      • Brian Aker on post-Oracle MySQL

        BA: There hasn’t been a roadmap for MySQL for some time. Even before Sun acquired MySQL, it was languishing, and Sun’s handling of MySQL just further eroded the canonical MySQL tree. I’m waiting to see what Oracle announces at the MySQL Conference. I expect Oracle to scrap the current 5.5 plan and come up with a viable roadmap. It won’t be very innovative, but I am betting it will be a stable plan that users can look at.

      • Oracle to Outline Strategy for MySQL
      • The future of MySQL in a post-Sun world

        Oracle’s absorption of Sun is complete. Now that the European Commission has blessed the merger, the Oracle logo is proudly displayed to anyone who types “sun.com” into a browser. Yet if you visit mysql.com, you’ll see hardly any mention of Sun, the company that purchased MySQL for $1 billion in 2008, and Oracle’s logo is buried deep at the bottom of the pages.

        [...]

        There’s good news for fans of MySQL: It won’t be left to wither and die any time soon. Oracle has made very public assurances that it will spend more on developing the database than Sun ever did, at least for the next three years. The Community Edition will continue to see improvements, which will be released under the GPL at no charge with all of the source code.

      • Are open source politics behind the delay of JDK7?

        The strong community of volunteer developers is often cited as an advantage to adopting open source technology. But these communities can also be a drawback. The involvement of many developers can lead to disagreement and confusion that can prevent a project from moving forward.

      • Oracle to update about MySQL
      • Oracle to Answer Questions on MySQL, but Will It Be Enough?
      • Consult the Oracle and then Hide Your Money
  • Education

    • Open Source Education

      Open source or software freedom isn’t simply another way of procuring software, it’s more a state of mind, a particular attitude to technology. Of course, you can just treat it as a cheap way of getting high quality, robust code, and there’s certainly no requirement to grow a beard, wear sandals or drink real ale in order to install open source applications. However, the philosophies that lie at the core of open source as a movement are important, and, I think have much to offer to education more generally; furthermore, open source approaches to development can apply to things even more important than software, such as curriculum resources, school policies and even the curriculum itself. This brief paper seeks to explore some of these areas.

    • SunGard Higher Education Launches Industry’s First ERP Community Source Initiative

      SunGard Higher Education and its customers have launched a Community Source Initiative — the first and only vendor-supported community source forum dedicated to higher education Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems. The initiative is designed to bring together the insights and experience of SunGard Higher Education’s extensive user community for the benefit of all institutions; make functionality available faster; and help ensure product quality through functional and technical review.

    • Netlive,a complete Free Software lab in the pockets of every teacher

      Endless cuts to Public Education budgets are creating survival problems to many italian Public Schools, forcing them to ask more or less “voluntary” contributions to parents every year. How can you guarantee quality education in such conditions, especially when many teachers, either because they only get very short term assignments, every time in a different school, or because their school has more than one campus, work every day in a different neighborhood?

  • Business

    • Market finally catching up with OSBI

      Open source business intelligence (OSBI) burst onto the market several years ago, but only now are we starting to see signs of real traction among enterprises at both “ends” of the BI spectrum – front-end reporting and analysis, and back-end data integration. This, coupled with growing awareness, acceptance, and commercial product development, will help push OSBI into the corporate mainstream.

  • BSD

    • Dru Lavigne’s ‘The Definitive Guide to PC-BSD’ is helping me update my packages and ports

      The FreeBSD Handbook appeared cryptic on how exactly to update packages and ports. I’m sure the answer is in there, but I just couldn’t find it.

      However, I do have Dru Lavigne’s new book, “The Definitive Guide to PC-BSD,” and I’m following her instructions on pages 247-251 on how to use csup and portupgrade to update both packages and ports on my FreeBSD 7.3-release installation.

  • Releases

    • Open Source Asterisk 1.8 Aiming for Long-Term Support

      The Ubuntu Linux distribution isn’t the only open source project with a long-term-support release on the horizon. The Asterisk open source VoIP PBX (define) project is moving ahead with its own long-term support (LTS) plans with its 1.8 release.

  • SaaS

    • Open Source Cloud: Usharesoft

      Open source cloud is getting hype, and looking at the different slices of the “burger cloud” among SaaS cloud providers I happened to step into UShareSoft, a French company based in Grenoble providing an appliance factory to design, build and deploy software appliances in virtual and cloud environments.

    • Twitter opens data system to developers

      Twitter is making its Gizzard data management system open source to help developers provide efficient access to large amounts of data stored across multiple locations.

  • Openness

Leftovers

  • Business Has Killed IT With Overspecialization

    What happened to the old “sysadmin” of just a few years ago? We’ve split what used to be the sysadmin into application teams, server teams, storage teams, and network teams. There were often at least a few people, the holders of knowledge, who knew how everything worked, and I mean everything. Every application, every piece of network gear, and how every server was configured — these people could save a business in times of disaster.

  • Bribery Act passed by Parliament

    A new bribery law has been passed by the Houses of Commons and Lords but is not yet in force. The Bribery Act can penalise companies whose employees engage in bribery if the company did not have adequate policies in place to prevent it.

  • Wis. prosecutor: Teachers risk arrest over new sex-ed classes

    A Wisconsin district attorney has warned schools in his county that if they proceed with new state sex-education courses, teachers could face criminal charges for encouraging minors to have sex, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

  • Security/Aggression

    • Target real criminals not drivers, judge tells police

      A judge has criticised a police force for concentrating on harassing motorists rather than dealing with serious crime.

      Judge Richard O’Rorke hit out after being told a hearing to confiscate the assets of a convicted fraudster would have to be postponed.

      He was told Lincolnshire police did not have the manpower to value a catalogue of items worth hundreds of thousands of pounds seized from Tina Crowson.

    • Public being misled over DNA benefits

      The genetics ethics group Genewatch has accused the Home Secretary Alan Johnson of misleading voters.

      On a campaign visit to Stevenage, Prime Minister Gordon Brown and Johnson were pictured with the mother of Sally Ann Bowman, whose killer was caught after his DNA was registered.

      But GeneWatch said their praise for the DNA database in this instance is misleading.

    • DNA database debate is ‘confused’

      Gordon Brown has been accused of confusing the role the DNA database played in the capture of murdered Sally-Anne Bowman’s killer.

      Earlier, he appeared with Ms Bowman’s mother as he criticised Tory plans to remove profiles of people who have not been convicted of a crime.

    • Clarifying our position against ID Cards and the National Identity Register

      To put the record straight, our manifesto clearly states “We strongly oppose compulsory ID cards, and pledge that we will never introduce them.” Some political opponents have tried to twist our use of the world ‘compulsory’ to imply that we want to introduce non-compulsory ID cards, but this simply isn’t the case. Many different voluntary ID cards already exist and are very useful, for example when borrowing a library book, or proving to a foreign hospital that the NHS will cover your medical expenses. The usefulness and unintrusiveness of these voluntry cards is the reason we do not propose a knee-jerk blanket banning of current, non-compulsory, cards that can be used to prove identity.

    • Conservatives compromise on DNA retention

      Instead of blocking the bill, the shadow home secretary Chris Grayling made a fresh commitment that the Tories would bring in early legislation to ensure the DNA profiles of innocent people arrested for minor offences would not be retained on the national police DNA database, reports The Guardian.

    • Spies caught plundering secret Indian docs

      An espionage gang that infiltrated Indian government computer networks across the globe has been pilfering highly classified documents related to missile systems, national security assessments and the United Nations, according to researchers who tracked the intruders for eight months.

    • Veteran of “Collateral Murder” Company Speaks Out

      Josh Stieber, who is a former soldier of the “Collateral Murder” Company, says that the acts of brutality caught on film and recently released via Wikileaks are not isolated instances, but were commonplace during his tour of duty.
      
“A lot of my friends are in that video,” says Stieber. “After watching the video, I would definitely say that that is, nine times out of ten, the way things ended up. Killing was following military protocol. It was going along with the rules as they are.”


    • U.S. Military Releases Redacted Records on 2007 Apache Attack, Questions Linger

      What’s more, the military indirectly blamed the reporters for being in the company of “armed insurgents” and making no effort to identify themselves as journalists. An investigating officer with the 2nd Brigade Combat Team (BCT), 2nd Infantry Division, concluded that “the cameramen made no effort to visibly display their status as press (.pdf) or media representatives” and added that “their familiar behavior with, and close proximity to, the armed insurgents and their furtive attempts to photograph the Coalition Ground Forces made them appear as hostile combatants to the Apaches that engaged them.” A long telephoto lens, the officer says, could have been mistaken for a rocket-propelled grenade.

    • Security Guru Richard Clarke Talks Cyberwar

      The antiterrorism czar who foresaw 9/11 discusses Obama’s cybersecurity plans and North Korea.

    • Securing the smart grid

      Smart meters are arriving at homes and causing a stir. Consumers in California and Texas have complained about higher bills due to smart meters not working properly. And for a second time in about a year, researchers discovered holes in the meters.

      It’s enough to make one wonder: are these devices going to become a security nightmare, allowing attackers to do everything from vandalize home area networks to cause power outages?

  • Environment

    • World Bank to Fund Giant New Coal Plant

      The World Bank yesterday approved a $3.75 billion loan to South African public utility Eskom to fund what will become the world’s seventh-largest coal plant—a move that has frustrated many who have pushed for the development bank to start taking greenhouse gas emissions into account in its funding decisions.

      [...]

      The decision highlights ongoing tensions surrounding the World Bank and other multilateral development banks and their continued funding of dirty energy projects. Despite the fact that climate changed caused by the build up of greenhouse gases will hurt those in the developing world the most, the banks tend to pay little or no attention to the carbon footprint of energy projects in funding decisions. The World Bank and other multilateral development banks and export credit agencies have directed $37 billion to the construction or expansion of 88 coal-fired power plants since 1994, according to an Environmental Defense Fund study released last year. Another $60 billion from private funders and local governments has also been provided to dirty power projects. It is estimated that those 88 plants will spit 791 million tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year.

    • Save the whales, not the whalers

      IN 1986, the International Whaling Commission (IWC) implemented a moratorium on commercial whaling. Many people believed that this would save the whales and end forever the industrial slaughter that had decimated entire species.

      Not so. A proposal before the IWC could lead to the resumption of commercial whaling as early as next year. If it passes – and there is a real chance that it will – one of the greatest conservation successes of our time will be wiped out.

    • Does Paul Krugman Vastly Understate the Economic Argument for Climate Action?

      Here’s the reality with which our economy is colliding:

      * Climate change is already unfolding much more quickly than we thought it would.

      * The models upon which we’re basing our discussions today (largely the IPCC models) are known to be seriously out-of-date and overly conservative in predicting the speed and consequences of climate change.

      * Steady losses that are climate-related (such as losses of ecosystem services) are already exacting a serious economic cost, while droughts, heat waves, flooding and freak storms grow steadily more common and expensive.

    • Swiss solar-energy plane in maiden test flight

      The Solar Impulse aircraft, a pioneering Swiss bid to fly around the world on solar energy, successfully completed its first test flight in western Switzerland on Wednesday.

      “There has never been in the past an aeroplane of that kind to fly. It was a huge question mark for us and it’s an extraordinary relief,” said Bertrand Piccard, pioneering round-the-world balloonist who co-founded the project.

  • Finance

    • A Tax Day Protest We Can All Get Behind

      Indeed, Americans have lost $14 trillion in wages, savings and housing wealth since the start of the financial crisis. According to our Wall Street Bailout Table, we are still $2 trillion in the hole for the bailout, and read with astonishment that the bailout enabled Wall Street to pay out $140 billion in bonuses in 2009 to top executives. With tax lawyers and accountants up the wazoo, big bankers know how to dodge taxes on their earnings and bonuses leaving middle class Americans holding the bag.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Supreme Discomfort: Doubting the Thomases

      In addition to possible conflicts of interest arising from Justice Thomas hearing a case related to the group’s political activities, concerns would also arise if he were to face a decision involving one of Liberty Central’s donors. This concern is exacerbated by the Supreme Court’s recent Citizens United decision, which permitted corporate dollars to flow into political campaigns: Ms. Thomas’ Liberty Central can now accept donations from corporations, and be permitted to spend those funds advocating for candidates. What’s more, because Liberty Central is organized as a 501(c)(4) nonprofit, the group can raise unlimited amounts of corporate money and largely avoid disclosing its donors.

    • It’s an “Educational” Ad (Wink, Wink)

      If the ad was considered an attack on Brown, the Chamber would face a slew of cumbersome obstacles to broadcasting them, like having to disclose who is paying for the ads, and how much they are spending.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Lawsuit Says McAfee Plays Loose With Customer Data

      McAfee, a household name for computer virus-protection, is facing accusations it dupes customers into purchasing third-party services, and hands over consumer banking information to enable those transactions.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • EU-India free trade deal ‘will hurt AIDS patients’

      A new Free Trade Agreement between the European Union and India could make it more difficult for the world’s poorest patients to access antiretroviral drugs, according to humanitarian aid group, Médecins Sans Frontières.

      The deal, which is close to being signed by both sides, is likely to curb sales of generic a three-in-one AIDS drug made in India where there are no patent constraints to stop the sale of combination therapies.

    • Court Rules that DNA Is Information, Not Intellectual Property

      A federal judge in New York ruled yesterday that patents on a set of human genes are invalid. U.S. District Court Judge Robert Sweet handed down his decision in favor of the case brought buy a coalition of groups including the American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation. The lawsuit argued that patents owned by Myriad Genetics on two genes connected to breast and ovarian cancer both stunt genetic research and limit access to health care for women.

    • The Pirate Party: how to bypass the great Australian firewall
    • Copyrights

      • Citizen Journalism Platform AllVoices Sets Up News Desks In 30 Cities Around The World

        AllVoices, a fast-growing citizen journalism platform, is announcing significant expansion today. The startup is launching global news desks in 30 different cities around the world, where both professional and citizen journalists will provide regular in-country reports from the ground. With the news desks, citizen reporters will be able to receive assignments from professional journalists. Cities with news desks include Baghdad, Beijing, Islamabad, London, Nairobi, and Shanghai.

      • The Associated Press in Traffic Hunt, Inspired by Mine Tragedy

        First, it was not AP’s place to put together such a list. If a list was needed, the best entity to release it to the media, free of charge, under a GNU license, is the very MSHA, the source of AP’s information. The MSHA is the main source, yet AP doesn’t have the courtesy even to cite it, writing “AP archives, federal mining safety statistics” as the source instead.

        Then, we have the “all rights reserved” issue, AP’s power over the media. To qoute 5 – 25 words from this article would cost $12.50 for profits, and $7.50 for non-profits. If you want to quote more, you have to pay more, naturally. If you want to publish the article for a whole year, that will cost you $750.00 no less. Nothing against paying the price, if the information wouldn’t be copied from the MSHA. The question is, how much did the AP pay the MSHA for the facts?

      • Earliest Known Led Zeppelin Live Recording Hits YouTube

        Before they were busying themselves with supergroups and arguing about reunion tours, the four members of Led Zeppelin were a fierce, inventive rock’n’roll band that helped lay the framework for heavy metal and hard rock. At their peak, Zeppelin were one of the biggest bands in the world. Now, their humble beginning has been documented with their earliest ever recording.

    • ACTA

      • How ACTA will change the world’s internet laws

        This matters because various governments, including the EU, Canada, and the USA, have argued that there is nothing in ACTA that will change domestic law — that it’s just a way of forcing everyone else to adopt their own laws. What we see here, though, is a radical rewriting of the world’s Internet laws, taking place in secret, without public input. Public input? Hell, even Members of Parliament and Congressmembers don’t get a say in this. The Obama administration’s trade rep says that the US will sign onto ACTA without Congressional debate, under an administrative decree.

    • Digital Economy Bill

      • The Digital Economy Bill passed

        Do we have any means of proving we did not download any infringing material? We first need the answers to the previous questions for that.

        Do we know who will intercept our private communications and how personal data will be stored?

        How the Deep Packet Inspection or filtering will operate to catch potential infringers? In other words, how the internet censorship will be organised?

      • Digital Economy Bill passes as critics warn of ‘catastrophic disaster’

        The controversial Digital Economy Bill was forced through the House of Commons last night after behind-the-scenes agreements between Labour and Conservative whips – prompting the Bill’s opponents to warn that it could lead to innocent people having their internet connections cut off, the end of public WiFi, and sites such as Wikileaks blocked.

      • Doublethink – The Digital Economy Bill against the digital economy

        Tonight the UK Labour governement, together with the Conservative arty, forced through the controversial Digital Economy Bill. The Bill now gets a ‘third reading’ in the House of Lords, which means it is almost certain to become law. The government did a deal with the Conservative leadership, which got a number of provisions it didn’t like removed. In other words, it was, to use an old British phrase, a “stitch up.”

        [...]

        Despite opposition from the Liberal Democrats and a handful of Labour MPs, notably long time Internet savvy MP Tom Watson, the government won two crucial votes allowing it to control the content of the bill and its further progress.

      • Twitter crowd redresses #DEBill balance
      • The Technology newsbucket: DEBill Twitterstreamed, Conficker lives!, iPad Luddites and more
      • Did My MP Show Up or Not?

        Since the Digital Economy bill tragically passed, and people seemed to be getting confused about whether the site was about the Second Reading or the session in Parliament when the bill was rammed through I have decided to take the site down. It may return if Parliament gives us access to something which I feel strongly would improve transparency, a proper hour by hour, minute by minute register of attendance of MPs.

      • Yet Another Letter to My MP

        It seems my MP was not at the Second Reading of the Digital Economy Bill. Here’s what I’ve just fired off:

        Following my long conversation with your assistant yesterday (who was very sympathetic) about the Digital Economy Bill, I was disappointed not to see your name on the list of MPs that attended the Second Reading yesterday. The full list is here:

        http://debillitated.heroku.com/

        Now, perhaps your name has been left off by mistake, in which I apologise for the false accusation. But if you were in fact absent, I’d like to ask why a Bill that is so important that it must be rammed through the wash-up with only the barest scrutiny is not something that is worth turning up for?

        I think it is important to recognise that things have changed in politics: that many more of us can – and do – follow closely what is happening in Parliament, and write, blog and tweet about it. This means that politics is becoming more open, and much more public, which I think is a good thing. But it does mean that we are all much more aware of what our representatives are doing at all times.

        Against that background, I would urge you to do all you can, even at this late stage, in pushing for the Bill to be dropped so that it can be debated properly after the election.

      • An Open Letter to Siôn Simon, Pete Wishart, David Lammy, Peter Luff, John Robertson, Stephen Timms

        Dear Sirs,

        This evening, as the Second Reading of the Digital Economy Bill was heard in the House of Commons, you were watched by a great many people. Many of these people had never watched Parliament in session before. Almost universal was the horror and anger at the affront to the democratic process which was unfolding before our eyes.

        This letter is addressed to you because you stated your support for the bill, and helped ensure its passage to the compressed “wash-up” stage of proceedings, despite the wide-ranging, contentious and to many unknown provisions it includes. Some of you expressed your dismay at the contempt shown for the House, the lack of scrutiny which has been afforded, and your deep concerns with respect to certain provisions. Despite this, you pledged your support for the bill, in one case claiming to “do so under duress”.

      • They Work For The BPI
      • What we do next

        What a debacle. Measures to allow disconnection of individuals from the internet, for undefined periods of time, web blocking laws; all with no real scrutiny and limited debate.

      • The Digital Economy Bill has passed

        Fortunately such a party already exists, the Pirate Party. Everyone who cares about these issues should join it. (If you doubt the truth of this assertion, just ask yourself what would IFPI, the BPI, the RIAA, or the MPAA want you to do? Would they want you to join the Pirate Party, or would they prefer it if you despondently admitted defeat and gave up?)

      • Digital Economy Bill passes

        Something important and wonderful was happening online. This is the type of democratic engagement that politicians supposedly dream of. They want our votes, they want us to care, they want us to be involved. Unless it is about something that has already been decided and negotiated by the powers-that-be, in that case we just become a nuisance, part of an annoying self-referential minority that can be easily ignored. It’s back to business as usual. It is precisely this disconnect between genuine public interest and the vested interest of powerful lobbyists what is destroying democracy. When people tuned in to watch the debate online, they could witness with their own eyes just how undemocratic the entire system is. Letters do not matter, what matters is the sickening toadying MP making reference to Feargal Sharkey’s Undertones, while sycophantily winking at him in the stands.

      • Minister for Digital Britain thinks an IP address is an “Intellectual Property address”

        The Right Honourable Stephen Timms is the UK’s “Minister for Digital Britain.” He’s the guy behind the Digital Economy Bill, which makes the US DMCA look good by comparison. Seriously, this is some terrible, terrible lawmaking.

        Here’s what appears to be a letter the DigiMini sent to another MP, explaining why the Digital Economy Bill needs to go forward. It reads, in part, “Copyright owners are currently able to go on-line (sic), look for material to which they hold the copyright and identify unauthorised sources for that material. They can then seek to download a copy of that material and in so doing capture information about the source including the Intellectual Property (IP) address…”

        If this letter is genuine (and it seems to be), it means that the guy who’s in charge of Britain’s digital future thinks that the “IP” in “IP address” stands for “Intellectual Property.”

      • The DEBill, and why we’re *really* screwed

        Last night, along with most of the geeks in the country, I watched the Digital Economy Bill get rammed through the Commons thanks to a combination of a whipped vote and some supine opposition. It’s not really worth me trying to articulate the combination of rage, frustration and disappointment that I felt, because others have done this far better than I can already. But once I’d had a few hours sleep, while I was walking the dog I managed to gather some thoughts coherent enough to be worth trying to type out.

Clip of the Day

SourceCode Season 3 – Episode 4: State of the Oceans (2006)


Why IBM Does Deserve Scrutiny (Updated)

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Patents, Servers at 10:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Linus Torvalds

Summary: Techrights responds to people who believe that IBM should be left alone after using software patents to negotiate a competitor’s departure from the market

TOO MUCH flak would be bad for IBM and its GNU/Linux venture in mainframes, but too much IBM apologism would give IBM the signal that it is free to misbehave and get away with anything.

This will hopefully be the last post in a series of posts that so far includes:

  1. Microsoft Proxy Attack on GNU/Linux Continues With TurboHercules
  2. Eye on Security: Windows Malware, Emergency Patches, and BeyondTrust’s CEO from Microsoft
  3. IBM Uses Software Patents Aggressively
  4. IBM’s Day of Shame
  5. IBM Will Never be the Same After Taking Software Patents Out of Its Holster
  6. Thumbs up to Ubuntu for Removing a Part of Microsoft; TurboHercules Likely a Psystar-Type Microsoft Shell

“IBM says it won’t sue to protect open-source patents,” says this new report from IDG and we particularly liked Simon Phipps’ take. He wrote:

Despite the temptation to believe that some companies are unequivocal supporters of free and open source software, we should never forget that all for-profit companies are actually reptiles, acting instinctively on behalf of their shareholders and not acting on the basis of intellectual or philosophical insight. An expression of support will inevitably be a statement by a group of people within the company, motivated by a business activity. It will have been made in the context of a set of tensions between different priorities and with other groups of people in the same company. It will be the direction instinct has been steered by the availability of “food” and the presence of “threat”. Every expression of support – or act of aggression – needs to be seen in that light.

An important part of my job at Sun was to monitor actions they took that affected communities. I monitored the flow of requests to use and release open source code, ran the Ombudsman service so that I was first to hear of community issues, and acted as a (mostly!) ‘trusted friend’ to Sun’s legal staff prior to any action they took. At regular intervals throughout my five year tenure, I spoke up for communities and ensured that the actions taken in Sun’s name were not harmful to a community or Sun’s FOSS reputation. On some occasions I even had to request executive back-up for my position, in effect requesting a veto power.

Regardless of the merits of IBM’s case against TurboHercules, the fact the incident has happened at all is an important signal. I can’t for a moment believe this is the first time since IBM’s patent pledge that any part of the company has wanted to act against a community participant. We can see the tension between the statement Dan Frye makes through the Linux Foundation and the statement of another IBM spokesperson in the WSJ attempting to say the Pledge doesn’t apply to everyone. To hazard a guess, the competition is now characterised by Google – a huge user of and contributor to open source software – instead of IBM’s old foes, Microsoft and Solaris.

Matt Asay, who is an IBM partner right now, is once again defending IBM (he has just told me that Groklaw is the basis for his defense). So, be sure to watch the comment where Matt Asay is defending a business partner, IBM, without disclosure. He does not intend to mislead, but Simon replies to him with: “Thanks, Matt. I’m amazed by how many prominent people are willing to automatically give IBM a free pass rather than asking serious questions about serious actions.”

We are pleased to see that Phipps has no blind faith. Pointing to this old article, Rui Miguel Silva Seabra writes: “Just to put IBM’s actions in perspective, Simon I’m sure you’re familiar with this forbes article, even though it predates your time, where it reports how IBM “manhandled” SUN with software patents.”

We have been hearing over the years (from other sources) about IBM’s aggression with patents, so this is nothing new. To let it slide would be a mistake.

Scott Merrill, whom I know from WordPress (back in the days), writes:

It’s no secret that I’m a big Free Software fan. It’s no secret that IBM is a giant company with more money than I can possibly imagine. So I was pretty happy in 2005 when IBM, in an obvious PR stunt to get buddy-buddy with the open source community, made its Statement of Non-Assertion of Named Patents Against OSS, ostensibly saying that it would permit open source projects to use any of the items covered by those patents without risk of penalty or lawsuit. Yay! Finally, a BigCo getting it and doing the right thing! But five years is a long time, people come and go, and promises can be forgotten. IBM has lately threatened to sue someone for infringement of a lot of IBM patents, including at least two that were included in the Non-Assertion statement.

[...]

More plausibly, what I think is going on here is one of two things. Either the lawyers got a little over-excited in creating the non-exclusive list of patents used to threaten TurboHercules and included two patents covered by the Non-Assertion statement; or IBM thinks they’re free to sue the company, and not the open source project itself, for the patent infringement. My guess is it’s the latter.

That last part is important. IBM views corporations differently from the way it views individuals, but Microsoft is the same. Like Apple versus HTC maybe? It gives no excuse to these companies because they hurt actual people who are running projects outside any particular company. To attack a company that uses some piece of Free software is to cause a lot of trouble to developers, who would in turn struggle to market their work to large companies (for fear of litigation).

IBM’s parenthood of Linux (whether real or just perceived) is not particularly healthy because of the issue of control. Linus Torvalds can hardly afford to stand up against IBM's policies at this stage. When Microsoft attacked Linux with patent FUD back in 2007, Torvalds ran away to IBM’s vast portfolio and implicitly warned about retaliation (M.A.D.). But is this really the way to run a Free software project? Building of patent coalitions? A few days ago we wrote about Ooma joining IBM's patent pool for Linux and this is now being covered by IDG.

An organization created to protect Linux vendors from patent trolls has scored a new member, consumer VoIP device provider Ooma. Ooma is the second new company in as many months to join the the Open Invention Network (OIN). In March, another VoIP vendor, Guest-tek joined.

The OIN does serve an important function [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], but backers of the OIN could instead just abolish software patents in the very few countries where they exist. In reality, most/all of those companies choose to encourage the extension of one’s patent portfolio. This is not something that start-ups — particularly ones that revolve around Free software — are able to afford. Viability is limited to conglomerates that encircle the market.

Phipps does not agree with people who defend IBM without qualm. Examples include Groklaw (see yesterday’s post) and Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols (SJVN), who is not much of an active opposer of software patents or proprietary software (same with Microsoft’s Novell deal). SJVN fires off this article which he titled “Get Off IBM’s Back Already!”

As Inna Kuznetsova, IBM’s VP, Marketing & Sales Enablement for Systems Software and former director of Linux Strategy, told me, “We stand by our pledge of 500 patents to the open-source community. The pledge is applicable to any individual, community or company working on or using software that meets the OSI definition of open source software – now or in future. The letter in question was not a legal document but a part of ongoing dialog between IBM and TurboHercules. Intentionally taking things out of context to create FUD and throw doubt on IBM’s commitment to open source is shameful and facts-twisting. ”

[...]

Come on! What really bothers about this entire affair though isn’t the patent issue at all. To me, IBM’s letter strikes me as business as usual in a world with software patents. Given my druthers, we wouldn’t have software patents period and, IBM, really, would it kill you to work with TurboHercules? I see their efforts as being more complementary than competitive to your mainframe business. No, what really bothers me is how this has turned into an ugly mud-slinging mess with IBM as the target.

We never defended TurboHercules. We are not defending IBM, either. We never trusted Florian, but the leaked document indicates that IBM uses software patents to do its bargaining. That’s why IBM deserves some scrutiny (but not too much).

“It’s certainly a lot more likely that Microsoft violates patents than Linux does [...] Basic operating system theory was pretty much done by the end of the 1960s. IBM probably owned thousands of really ‘fundamental’ patents [...] The fundamental stuff was done about half a century ago and has long, long since lost any patent protection.”

Linus Torvalds, 2007

Update: Simon Phipps has just posted an update which is also important to read. In part he says:

It’s been fascinating to watch so many commentators on the open source world drawing a tight circle in defence of IBM over the last day. We’ve seen PJ at Groklaw coming to some highly questionable semantic conclusions in order to leave IBM with no case to answer; the Linux Foundation parroting IBM’s original pledge without asking the hard question; SJVN rubbishing me and ignoring the actual point; Joe Brockmeier at least willing to say IBM has an issue but pulling far short of calling for an explanation. For more balanced views you have to look further afield – to CrunchGear or to Thomas Prowse for example. Presumably those two (like me) aren’t on IBM’s PR calling list!

What’s fascinating is the way people I would have expected to remain balanced instantly sprang to IBM’s defence without any hint that IBM owed the FOSS community an answer. Maybe it’s a consequence of being allowed little grace over the last 5 years, but I wish we could hear a little less lionising of IBM and demonising of anyone that questions them. Calling to account is different from judging.

New Zealand’s Software Industry Under Attack by the ‘Patent Leeches’

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 9:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Anand Satyanand
New Zealand’s Governor-General Anand Satyanand.

Summary: Leeches in suits are trying to block a policy that would enable Free software developers to build the country’s infrastructure in peace

LAST week we wrote about New Zealand's admirable prospective law that would forbid the patenting (make-believe ‘ownership’) of mathematics encoded as algorithms. It only makes sense and it agrees with the wants/desires of software engineers, who realise that copyright law protects their work and does not ever lead them to accidental infringements (unless they merge external code that they do not recognise).

“All the big guys are flying to New Zealand to send their lobbyists and patent lawyers to lobby for software patents”
      –Benjamin Henrion, FFII’s president
There are two types of people who can conceivably protest against such sane laws; one is the person who works for the meta-industry that’s making money by taxing software developers (software monopoly tolls can principally be patent trolls or law firms) and the second is the person who works for a company that monopolised an area of computing and is now trying to block any entrants from entering the same market/s.

Here is the latest report about the “software patent ban” that New Zealand plans to put in place. “All the big guys are flying to New Zealand to send their lobbyists and patent lawyers to lobby for software patents,” says the president of the FFII (Europe) and IDG has just published this article about the role Microsoft plays, along with other developers of non-Free software (which does not respect its users’ rights):

The New Zealand Open Source Society is expecting powerful interests to bring pressure on the government to reverse plans to exclude software from patent protection in New Zealand.

In a post on the NZOSS website yesterday, vice president Peter Harrison applauded the Commerce Select Committee’s recommendation to exclude software from patent protection and responded to critics of the proposal.

“In all honesty it was very unexpected that we would be able to change the direction of this legislation. That we have put forward a argument that was sufficiently compelling means our hard work over the last several years has indeed born fruit,” Harrison says.

[...]

In response, Harrison says many members who also develop proprietary software support the exclusion and patents are harmful to all software development houses.

They already have copyrights. Harrison was not alone though; Ken Moon from A J Park (which describes itself as “New Zealand’s leading intellectual property firm”) wrote this piece on the first of April. At first sight I was certain it was a joke (April’s Fool), but upon closer inspection it turned out to be serious in tone. It also says: “The US allows patents for all types of software inventions and the distinction is irrelevant, but the UK, following the European Patent Convention, does draw a distinction and only excludes from patentable subject matter computer programs “as such”. This wording was specifically to allow patents for embedded software.

“A loud minority of monopolies/monopolists, their lobbyists, and the lawyers whom they pay are trying to make everything under the sun patentable (and thus a monopoly protected by law, not just practice).”Here in the UK we have Brimelow’s arrogance to thank for that [1, 2]. Microsoft’s Marshall Phelps said that the EPO “can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway.” Brimelow essentially let Microsoft exclude or sue Free software in Europe and even though she is leaving, the damage she did is here to stay (for now).

Anyway, New Zealand is in a position that’s similar to that of Europe. A loud minority of monopolies/monopolists, their lobbyists, and the lawyers whom they pay are trying to make everything under the sun patentable (and thus a monopoly protected by law, not just practice). Here is a development from yesterday’s news:

If this is “innovation”, then innovation is not such a wonderful thing.

More of Microsoft Sought to Manage Yahoo! (Coup D’état)

Posted in Google, Microsoft, Search at 9:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yahoo the spook

Summary: Blake Irving, a former Microsoft executive, may be moving into Yahoo! and no lessons are learned from past cases of Microsoft entryism

Microsoft’s hijack of Yahoo! carries on, based on fairly simple observations. Yahoo! is just becoming like a department of Microsoft over time and we have given many examples of staff that moves from Microsoft into Yahoo! (executive staff, not just developers).

The latest example of this disturbing trend is the potential addition of Blake Irving from Microsoft (his exit was mention here) to Yahoo’s top chairs. “While it is unclear if Irving has agreed to take the job, sources said Yahoo (YHOO) management was keen on him working there,” says Kara Swisher, who also writes:

According to numerous sources, Yahoo has been seriously courting former Microsoft exec Blake Irving to take over as one of its key execs, running its product organization and essentially becoming the Internet “visionary” many think the company lacks.

Comes vs Microsoft court exhibits such as this one teach us about Irving’s involvement in the very dark side of Microsoft. This example is from the Corel saga. It is a company that Microsoft took over through staff/direction. Yahoo’s CTO is now leaving, which only validates this observation that Microsoft is taking over Yahoo! from the inside and putting inside Yahoo! some of its own moles, including Icahn and then Bartz.

“Google’s dominance is not a healthy one, but considering what Microsoft does, it’s a lot healthier than the alternative.”To Microsoft, this fight for presence in search (Microsoft heavily doctors its search results for self promotion) is a case of pushing hard with a poor product, all as part of an attempt to use PR for self-fulfilling prophecies. Microsoft’s partner comScore [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10] is among those who help this prophecy, but to be fair, Apple does that too, especially with hypePad [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10] (it is Apple’s latest case of using a media blitz to pretend that there is high demand, which in turn it hopes will generate sales to fulfill the delusion).

Anyway, we humbly applaud Canonical for deciding to dump Yahoo!/Microsoft and the corresponding Slashdot post (which links to this post) seems equally positive about it. Google’s dominance is not a healthy one, but considering what Microsoft does, it’s a lot healthier than the alternative.

SchoolOS to Remove Mono, Apple ‘Blocks’ MonoTouch

Posted in Apple, Debian, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Ubuntu at 7:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

sudo apt-get remove mono-common

Summary: Yet another distribution makes the decision to put Mono in the wastebasket; Apple keeps Microsoft’s and Novell’s MonoTouch out

LAST NIGHT we wrote about Netrunner, which removes Mono from Ubuntu GNU/Linux (Mint actually). Someone who read about Netrunner has told us that SchoolOS is also removing Mono. “See part A , toberemove section,” he told us. Another Ubuntu derivative that removed Mono was gNewSense [1, 2] (it later moved to Debian).

“Another Ubuntu derivative that removed Mono was gNewSense…”Who is left to support Mono? Surely not Fedora and Red Hat (the GNU/Linux leader). Even Apple is virtually blocking MonoTouch right now (for background about MonoTouch, see [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]).

In other news, Ryan Paul, who is a longtime promoter of Mono and Moonlight, seems like the latest person to promote Microsoft’s ‘embrace’ of “Open Source” (for Windows only). He writes about CoApp [via Slashdot], which has so far been promoted by Microsoft boosters [1, 2]. Paul is an excellent journalist (we usually agree with him) and he is attempting to promote “Open Source” as a whole (regardless of the underlying platform), but as pointed out in the comments section, he spreads the misconcpetion (in the headline) that it’s about “development” rather than just installation for Windows.

Here at Techrights we consider CoApp to be a misguided idea that only empowers Microsoft.

Trash sign with Mono

Links 9/4/2010: Ubuntu 10.10, Android’s Contribution to Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 7:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • TLLTS Ep. #348 – Ogg
  • Becoming a “Linux Security Artist”

    As I mentioned before, the architecture of Linux follows closely the architecture of the Unix systems. A relatively small monolithic kernel with libraries and utilities that add functionality to it.

    This alone adds security value, since it allows the end user to turn off a lot of services (both hosted and network services) that they do not need, and if left to run on the system would create more avenues and possibilities for attacks.

    For example, the average desktop system acts as a client for services, not as a server. Turning off these services means that other people across the network cannot attach to them. In the early days of Linux a lot of distributions would be distributed with the services turned on when you installed and booted them the first time. This was under the mistaken impression that having the services running would make them easier to administer, but security people quickly pointed out that having the services running at installation time (before needed patches could be applied) also left the systems, however briefly, open to attack. Now most, if not all, distributions install with these services turned off and you are instructed to turn them on at the proper time, hopefully after you have applied needed patches.

  • Graphics Stack

    • Open-Source ATI Evergreen Acceleration Builds Up

      While up to this point AMD has only cleared Evergreen shader documents for release to the general public, the developers at AMD responsible for working on the open-source support have been working on some code too for this Radeon HD 5000 series support. The Linux 2.6.34 kernel has kernel mode-setting (KMS) support for the ATI Radeon HD 5000 series graphics cards, but it goes without any 2D/3D/X-Video acceleration support. There’s also DDX Evergreen support allowing these “R800″ class GPUs to work with user-space mode-setting. That’s really been the extent of the open-source support though for these graphics cards that are a few months old.

    • Concerns Over Merging Drivers Back Into The X Server

      While development efforts within the X.Org community are now ramping up for the release of X Server 1.9 that should arrive in August, there is an ongoing discussion concerning a planned long-term change for the X Server: pulling the drivers back in.

  • Applications

  • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

    • KDE 4.4 Positive Spin

      KDE 4 right now is an awesome desktop and doesn’t need to retroactively justify the earlier releases.

      Instead focus on a clear listing of the improvements and features, and maybe even engage in a little self-depreciation and poke a bit of fun at the 4.0 release along the way. Let people know what they are missing today if they decide not to give KDE another look.

      Try to re-capture those that might have left KDE! Don’t burn calories calling them liars – they obviously at one point cared enough to give 4.0 a try, I bet they could be convinced to give 4.4 a try as well –hopefully with a different result!

  • Distributions

    • Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Beta 2 Has GNOME 2.30 and Revamped Installer

        A few minutes ago, the Ubuntu development team unleashed the second and final Beta release of the upcoming Ubuntu 10.04 LTS (Lucid Lynx) operating system, due for launch at the end of this month. As usual, we’ve downloaded a copy of it in order to keep you up-to-date with the latest changes in the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS development.

      • Eye On Ubuntu 10.10

        As you may have heard, Mark Shuttleworth announced his vision for Ubuntu 10.10 a few days ago. Without prejudicing the more pressing release of Ubuntu 10.04 in a couple weeks, here are some thoughts on what Shuttleworth said, and what we can expect from Ubuntu 10.10 in October 2010.

      • Ubuntu: Consumer ready, Enterprise grade.

        What’s the best new feature coming to Lucid? You could even call this one Lucid’s killer feature.

      • Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx Beta 2 Released [Screenshots]

        Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx Beta 2 doesn’t come with drastic visual changes, but there are quite a few minor improvements and tweaks. In this post I’ll try to cover all the changes made since Beta 1 (see also: Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Beta 1 screenshots).

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Will Linux succeed through the Android OS?

      Last week I finally dumped my Blackberry smartphone and got myself one of the Verizon Droid phones; specifically the Droid Eris. I was waiting for the Nexus One to come to Verizon Wireless for quite some time and when I read that it was to be offered through Google only (unlocked and without a contract deal) for $530, I said forget about it. I will go to the store instead and get one of the Droid phones (Motorola Droid & HTC Droid Eris).

Free Software/Open Source

  • Let he who is without proprietary features cast the first stone

    If the recent debate about open core licensing has proven one thing, it is that the issue of combining proprietary and open source code continues to be a controversial one.

  • Oracle

    • Better Default Settings, Anyone?

      OK, OK! All of you who raised your hand and are hopping in your seats to get called upon for your suggestions, click here. If your hand is sort of wavering at shoulder height and you need a little more urging, read on for more info on “Better Defaults”, the new subproject of Project Renaissance which just began in the UX community.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Why Is Free, Open Source Software So Great?

      All what I’m going to write here, is likely to be considered happening in a world that, even not perfect, is a bit better of the real world we all live in together; a world where software patents don’t exist, as they bring out the worst part of legal troubles, and heavily step into the Freedom given by Free Software.

    • FOSS: The Consideration Bridge

      Back in the days when the FSF was finding it’s feet Richard and others began this amazing process of taking functional proprietary tools and recreating these tools as free software, drop-in replacements. This process of “doing all the boring bits” really set the technical foundations and I think is why a lot of people were really amazed by the principled dedication and out of this grew respect.

      [...]

      The open source movement grew out of the lack of compromise in the Free Software community, but it’s grown further from being just about inviting businesses into a friendly arena and into a more pragmatics’ hiding hole, there are no difficult questions to answer, and free as in beer software is how it’s all advertised with no further explanation about how it became free in the first place.

Leftovers

  • Lawsuits

    • How Pfizer And The US Gov’t Set Up A Fake Subsidiary To Take The Brunt Of Lawsuit Over Falsely Marketed Drugs

      The pharmaceutical industry is a huge mess, which has little, if anything, to do with making people healthy. The way the system is currently designed, if it’s more profitable for a pharmaceutical company to put you at greater risk, it will do so. And sometimes the US gov’t will help them brush it under the rug. Reader Bill Pickett points us to a recent investigative report concerning the big, high-publicity lawsuit the US gov’t filed against Pfizer, after the company blatantly went against FDA approvals and marketed a drug for all sorts of alternative uses, which the FDA had specifically noted could be dangerous and could put people at greater risk.

    • Son Files Harassment Charges Against Mother for Facebook Posts

      Denise New’s 16 year old son filed charges against her last month and requested a no contact order after he claims she posted slanderous entries about him on the social networking site. New says she was just trying to monitor what he was posting.

    • Cuyahoga County Judge Shirley Strickland Saffold files $50 million lawsuit against The Plain Dealer and others

      A Cuyahoga County judge sued The Plain Dealer and affiliated companies Wednesday, claiming that they breached a Web site privacy policy when stories linked an e-mail account used by the judge to a series of online comments related to some of the judge’s high-profile cases.

  • Science

    • Touring The Chernobyl Nuclear Accident Site In 2010

      While the nuclear accident of 1986 is what Chernobyl is known for, there were two other nuclear accidents of smaller magnitude that took place at this nuclear power plant before it was finally decommissioned in the year 2000. In 1982, there was a smaller accident within Chernobyl’s Reactor #1, but it was not nearly as significant and the reactor returned to an operational state within months. In 1991, there was a fire in Reactor #2 that caused severe damage and ultimately led to the shutdown of this nuclear reactor. Reactor #4 is home to the infamous Chernobyl accident. The other reactors were not permanently shutdown immediately as Ukraine was dependent upon Chernobyl for its electricity production and for the country it would not make economic sense to prematurely discontinue the use of the other reactors. Reactor #1 was permanently decommissioned in 1996 and Reactor #3 was finally retired from operation in 2000.

  • Finance

    • MEPs scrutinise summit solutions to euro-zone’s hardship

      European Council President Herman Van Rompuy found MEPs in trenchant mood Wednesday when he reported back to them on the conclusions reached by European leaders at their summit last month. MEPs took a critical look at the summit’s solutions to the current euro-zone crisis, with many demanding a more ambitious European approach to current difficulties

      [...]

      Austrian Socialist Hannes Swoboda disagreed, saying the summit was disappointing, especially on Greece. He said that leaving help in the hands of the IMF meant giving up a common economic policy in favour of a technocratic approach. “The Council is like the Titanic – they hit an iceberg and as a response they set up a task-force.”

    • Goldman’s spirited defence

      Of course, Goldman has become the proxy for all attacks on the role financial firms played in the crisis, so its boss does not enjoy the same latitude as Dimon. Nor are Blankfein’s words likely to silence his critics — short of closing the bank down, nothing will. His letter underscores the jam Goldman’s in. But it is, at least, a spirited defence.

    • Goldman denies betting against mortgage clients

      The New York-based firm received $10 billion of taxpayer aid in the credit crisis, which it repaid in June. That money led politicians and pundits to blame Goldman Sachs for profiting from taxpayers. Labor unions led protests calling for bonus payments to be canceled, and a Rolling Stone magazine writer last year labeled the firm a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity” and criticized it for selling securities backed by subprime mortgages.

    • Goldman Sachs calls for more financial regulation

      Why should Goldman have to pay for mitigating the risk of its deal-partners when the SEC or the Fed can do Goldman’s work for it — on the taxpayer dime?

    • Goldman Seeks Leave to Foreclose on Sawgrass Resort

      Goldman Sachs Mortgage Co., the lender to the owners of Florida’s Sawgrass Marriott Resort, asked a bankruptcy court for permission to take over and sell the company’s assets.

    • Goldman Sachs’ Revolving Door

      Crony Capitalism. Government influence buying. Insider information and trading schemes, derivatives and market manipulations, shadow banking.

      Goldman Sachs is arguably the most powerful financial institution since the House of Morgan, during the Robber Barron days of capitalisms ‘Golden Age’ of the turn of the 19th century.

    • Goldman Sachs Didn’t Profit From Mortgage Defaults, But It Tried

      We’re good guys, really!

      Goldman Sachs, the publicly vilified former investment bank famously nicknamed a “great vampire squid wrapped around the face of humanity” by Rolling Stone’s Matt Taibbi for the way its seemingly wraps its tentacles around every far flung money-making opportunity, issued a defense in its annual letter to shareholders this week. The company did not benefit by wagering that the mortgages behind the securities it originally issued and sold would default, it said. Goldman’s chief operating officer Gary Cohn wrote in the letter: “The firm did not generate enormous net revenues or profits by betting against residential mortgage-related products, as some have speculated.”

    • Goldman Sachs Has No Apologies

      The company, which received $10 billion in preferred stock investment from the U.S. Treasury through the Troubled Assets Relief Program in October 2008, downplayed the aid it received from the federal government in the midst of the crisis.

    • Why Is Goldman Sachs Revisiting AIG?

      Then there is AIG. In today’s letter Goldman continues to insist that its “direct economic exposure to AIG was minimal” and that Goldman limited “overall credit exposure to AIG through a combination of collateral and market hedges.” Goldman’s primary exposure to AIG was through some $10 billion of insurance Goldman purchased on super-senior CDO tranches. When AIG became insolvent, that insurance did not look too secure. But Goldman and other banks were made whole, collecting 100 cents on the dollar, by the U.S. government. First, AIG used bailout cash it received from the government to post collateral that Goldman was allowed to keep. Second, the Federal Reserve Bank of New York purchased the CDOs directly from Goldman and the other banks.

      As for Goldman’s hedges–they remain unclear. Tim Geithner, who headed the Federal Reserve Bank of New York at the time of the bailout, has said he never inspected them. The Special Inspector General for TARP has said Goldman might have had difficulty collecting on the credit protection it had bought on AIG. Goldman believes that it would have been able to collect.

    • Goldman Sachs Trader Hedayat Said to Leave Firm

      Ali Hedayat, co-head in the Americas of Goldman Sachs Group Inc.’s largest internal hedge fund, has left the firm, the second senior departure from the unit in less than a month, said three people familiar with the matter.

    • Another Executive Said to Exit Goldman Fund Unit

      In what would mark the second high-profile departure in less than a month from Goldman Sachs’s Principal Strategies unit, Ali Hedayat, the co-head in the Americas of the bank’s largest internal hedge fund has left the firm, Bloomberg News reported, citing three people with knowledge of the matter.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Pirate Party and Philip Nitschke teach seniors to hack filter

      Pro-euthanasia group Exit International is holding national hacking crash-courses in how to bypass the Federal Government’s planned ISP-level Internet content filter with help from the Australian Pirate Party.

      The first of eight “Hacking Masterclasses” was held in Chatswood NSW on Thursday last week, and drew about 50 elderly people — some bearing laptops. Exit International director and controversial Australian physician, Philip Nitschke, created the class to help the elderly access euthanasia-assistance material online, following fears that the Internet filter will block access to the information.

    • ISP Privacy Proposal Draws Fire

      A proposal to let Internet service providers conceal the contact information for their business customers is drawing fire from a number of experts in the security community, who say the change will make it harder to mitigate the threat from spam and malicious software.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Verizon CEO: Other nations ‘not even close’ to U.S. in broadband

      Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg on Tuesday subtly slammed the premise of the FCC’s National Broadband Plan, stressing the United States was already the envy of other countries in broadband adoption.

      Even though the FCC argues otherwise — chiefly presenting its broadband recommendations as a way to expand high-speed Internet services while returning the U.S. market to the top of the world rankings — Seidenberg said it was other nations that lagged behind.

      “One. Not even close,” the CEO said of the U.S. market’s broadband standing during a discussion at the Council on Foreign Relations.

    • Verizon CEO: Studies be damned, US is tops in broadband

      Verizon CEO Ivan Seidenberg sat down for an on-the-record conversation yesterday at the Council for Foreign Relations, and he pulled no punches: the US is number one in the world when it comes to broadband. We’re so far ahead of everyone else, it’s “not even close.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • TheWrap’s Cease & Desist Letter to Newser

      (“Newser”), and any agent or affiliate of Newser, immediately cease and desist using The Wrap as a source for Newser content. Newser is not following industry best practices, is intentionally misleading consumers/users at the expense of The Wrap and at the expense of other unnamed sources, and has effectually demonstrated no intention to allow consumers/users to logically and easily ascertain the source of Newser articles.”

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright and wrong

        The moral case, although easy to sympathise with, is a way of trying to have one’s cake and eat it. Copyright was originally the grant of a temporary government-supported monopoly on copying a work, not a property right. From 1710 onwards, it has involved a deal in which the creator or publisher gives up any natural and perpetual claim in order to have the state protect an artificial and limited one. So it remains.

        The question is how such a deal can be made equitably. At the moment, the terms of trade favour publishers too much. A return to the 28-year copyrights of the Statute of Anne would be in many ways arbitrary, but not unreasonable. If there is a case for longer terms, they should be on a renewal basis, so that content is not locked up automatically. The value society places on creativity means that fair use needs to be expanded and inadvertent infringement should be minimally penalised. None of this should get in the way of the enforcement of copyright, which remains a vital tool in the encouragement of learning. But tools are not ends in themselves.

      • Yes, Authors Have Copyright Issues With Quoting Others As Well

        Much of his concern is how these costs will multiply in an age of ebooks, but it seems like a serious enough issue from the start. Just the fact that authors who are discussing and building on the works of others are being blocked due to copyright is hugely problematic. In this context, it hardly sounds like the new works would act as substitutes for the old works at all — but could actually drive more interest in those original works. It’s difficult to see why or how copyright policy makes sense in these cases.

      • If ‘Piracy’ Is Killing Filmmaking, Why Do Nigeria, China And India Have Thriving Movie Businesses?

        Another point that he found was that the movie makers recognized they needed to “compete” with unauthorized copies, and priced things accordingly — so that the price wasn’t all that different than the unauthorized VCDs. Now, that did mean that some of the movies produced in these countries were quite low budget — but, again, if you combine a higher quality movie with a real reason to buy (see in the theater/additional benefits for buying) there’s no reason why big Hollywood movies can’t take advantage of the same economics.

      • Are There More Copyright ‘Pre-Settlement’ Groups Setting Up Shop In The US?

        We recently covered how a recently created outfit going by the name US Copyright Group, had launched tens of thousands of lawsuits (some of which appear to be quite questionable from a legal standpoint), as part of what appeared to be an attempt at copying the efforts of companies like DigiProtect and ACS:Law in Europe (where such practices have been widely condemned). The lawsuits appear to be a smokescreen to get contact information for people to whom this “company” can send “pre-settlement” letters, in which they’re told to pay up to avoid the lawsuit.

        Considering that this pseudo-shakedown is apparently lucrative in Europe, perhaps others are preparing to do the same in the US as well. A reader who prefers to remain anonymous, but who works for a small ISP, passed along an email he recently received from what appears to be a newish operation called the Copyright Enforcement Group, whose website has a mock law enforcement shield on it.

    • ACTA

      • USTR Releases Openness Plan, While Celebrating That It’s In The Pocket Of Industry Lobbyists

        We were confused a few weeks ago when the USTR started promoting letters from lobbyists in support of ACTA. After all, of course the lobbyists want ACTA. They’re the ones who wrote much of it in the first place. In the meantime, thousands have been writing the USTR to express their concerns about ACTA… but the USTR doesn’t bother mentioning them at all. It’s as if the USTR is flat-out admitting that it’s controlled by the lobbyists.

      • ACTA will undermine European Parliament’s power in IP matters

        An ACTA Oversight Committee will undermine the European Parliament’s power in intellectual property rights enforcement, according to the Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII). A recently leaked Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) document shows negotiating parties want to create an “Oversight Committee”, which is planned to supervise the implementation and consider the further development of ACTA. It may also address “disputes that may arise regarding the interpretation or application” of ACTA.

    • Digital Economy Bill

      • Digital economy bill rushed through wash-up in late night session
      • Digital Economy Bill: Proposed By The Unelected, Debated By The Ignorant, Voted On By The Absent

        With the UK’s Digital Economy Bill rushed through with little real debate, it’s worth looking at the ignorance behind those who supported and pushed through the bill. The more you look, the more you realize they didn’t even understand the very basics of what they were talking about. As some have noted it was “a bill proposed by the unelected, debated by the ignorant and voted on by the absent.”

      • Internet provider defies digital bill

        TalkTalk’s refusal to cooperate with ‘draconian’ anti-piracy measures reflect growing resistance to the digital economy bill

      • Digital Economy Bill – it’s a wash up

        It looks like much of the Digital Economy Bill will make it through to get Royal Assent by the end of the week.

        The Bill is now in much better shape than when first tabled by the Government last year – the ability of the Government to impose disconnection at will has been checked and the Henry VIII clause that literally allowed the Government to do anything else to reduce copyright infringement has been removed.

        However, many draconian proposals remain such as the responsibility on customers to protect their home networks from hacking at a collective cost of hundreds of millions of pounds a year, the presumption that they are guilty unless they can prove themselves innocent and, as in China, the potential for legitimate search engines and websites to be blocked.

Clip of the Day

SourceCode Season 3 – Episode 3: Enemies of the Environment (2006)


Gordon Brown Goes to Microsoft

Posted in Bill Gates, Europe, Hardware at 3:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

G8 brown

Summary: The British PM allows himself to be associated with a company that engages in illegal activities

LAST year we showed that Bill Gates was professionally linked to Tony Blair. Like his predecessor, Gordon Brown has been mostly supportive of Microsoft’s monopoly (BECTA is a good example), so the following new report about him visiting a convicted software monopolist is not surprising at all:

Prime Minister Gordon Brown visited Microsoft’s London headquarters in Victoria for what his campaign managers had dubbed as the ‘Peoples’ PMQs’.

Members of the public sent in questions through Twitter, Facebook, MSN and the Labour Party Web site. There were also a few questions from the studio audience.

Given the huge overlap between Microsoft executives and BBC executives [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] (the BBC typically repeats the British government’s positions rather than challenge any), it is not surprising that the BBC was promoting Microsoft's Natal earlier this year, despite it being pretty much a copycat that will never catch on for the reasons explained in this new essay from Arizona University.

In video games, merit can be found in motion control. At the beginning of this home console generation, Microsoft and Sony opted to win the sales race with high-definition powerhouses while Nintendo gambled with its innovative motion-controlled system.

[...]

This is evidenced by the company inviting media members to test Project Natal instead of the mass gaming audience. It’s shown through developer support for the platform, not consumer survey results. Microsoft hasn’t gobbled up popular developers and their related gaming franchises, it hasn’t published any large-scale customer feedback and it hasn’t asked its online subscribers how they feel about Project Natal. Everywhere you look, Microsoft caters to anyone but you.

Xbox in general is going nowhere. The US and British press paint a different picture though, for obvious reasons (the “special relationship”).

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