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04.23.10

IRC Proceedings: April 23rd, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 8:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

Microsoft MVPs Nymshifting, Pretending to be Other Gender, Accepting Bribes, and Libeling GNU/Linux Users

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft at 8:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Response to libel from Microsoft MVP Andre Da Costa

Truth, humility, and ethics

Summary: Words of clarification and a call for action against Microsoft AstroTurfing, which is rampant and is a violation of the law

Being a GNU/Linux proponent is not an easy thing. Having looked at Pogson’s blog the other day, we found the usual names of the usual Microsoft AstroTurfers trolling him in his own GNU/Linux blog. But this quick post is intended to be a clarification because I promised not to comment in other Web sites after I had been forged repeatedly.

“Microsoft is giving expensive presents to some of these people to encourage (reward for) this type of behaviour.”Microsoft’s bad behaviour on the Web is being exposed even further and this post ought to explain why Microsoft should be held liable, based on the laws of the United States*. It’s one thing when Microsoft encourages its trolls to abuse people in their personal Web sites, but it’s entirely another when Microsoft sends employees in disguise to do this.

As we explained before, Microsoft is giving expensive presents to some of these people to encourage (reward for) this type of behaviour. To become a Microsoft MVP one needn’t actually promote Microsoft APIs like Miguel de Icaza; MVP awards fly off Microsoft’s shelves even if one is a successful Internet troll, as demonstrated by Andre Da Costa, who keeps nymshifting, most recently morphing into names of females too. For those who have not heard of Da Costa, here are some previous posts on the subject:

In his latest appearance, Microsoft MVP Andre is spreading libel about me, even though I never speak to him. I was never banned from sites, nor was I ever nymshifting as he claims. Andre perhaps relies on libelous sources, so his libel might not be intentional; anyway, the record needed to be set straight. A full-time Microsoft employee/AstroTurfer [1, 2, 3, 4] named Jonathan Wong once did something similar and it’s documented in:

Perhaps it’s time for victims to sue Microsoft for running this type of AstroTurf operation and witch hunts that are carried out by its compensated fiends. We have already complained to the FTC and received a response. But until enough people complain about what Microsoft is doing, the FTC will choose dough nuts over enforcement (they work based on bulk of complaints, not separable incidents and reports, at least based on their letter to us).

Microsoft should not be allowed to get away with these dubious practices that actually do hurt people. There is nothing professional about Microsoft, no matter how much it spends on PR. “Microsoft is sponsoring the History Channel now,” told us our reader Ryan just 20 minutes ago. “This program brought to you by Windows 7,” says the channel. Should Microsoft also be allowed to have a say on history? It’s bad enough as it is.
___
* Microsoft uses tricks here, by sending its AstroTurfers overseas or hiring them indirectly, via PR agencies.

Free Software Enables Developing and Developed Countries to Unshackle Themselves From Intellectual Monopolies

Posted in America, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 7:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Flag of Ecuador

Summary: The heartwarming story of Ecuador, the political opposition to software patents in New Zealand, and areas where patents stomp on people’s lives

Free software and intellectual monopolies are closely related subjects. We typically write about the latter only in our daily links though, because it is not the main focus of this Web site.

IP Watch has a decent new article about how “Free Software [Is] Used To Fight Piracy, Broaden Knowledge Access In Ecuador”

A joint project being launched by a regional non-profit group along with the Ecuador’s intellectual property office (IEPI) aims to reduce software piracy by offering a free software alternative through public libraries. The initiative is meant to encourage the use of legal software and thereby lower the piracy rate.

For the “Free Library” project, the Latin American Center for Intellectual Property Research for Development – known as Corporación Innovarte – has signed an agreement with the national IP office (IEPI), the Free Software Foundation of Ecuador and the associations of libraries. Corporación Innovarte aims to promote access to knowledge, innovation, and culture as tools for development.

The project is meant to use libraries as a vector to build a distribution channel for free software available to users. Free software will be offered as part of the usual library collections. The initiative will disseminate free software among the population, serving two goals: offering people different options while supporting the “spread of educational and research possibilities,” and contributing to the limitation of illegal software use.

Ecuador has already embraced ODF and it’s a solid breeding ground for software freedom, i.e. independence. Glyn Moody, who linked to the above article, has said that Microsoft won’t be happy. We have already shown how Microsoft responds to or retaliates against countries in south America if they ‘dare’ to deviate from Microsoft. A recent example, Argentina, may already be suing Microsoft for damages.

“We have already shown how Microsoft responds to or retaliates against countries in south America if they ‘dare’ to deviate from Microsoft.”Latin America is a victim not just of Microsoft; it has suffered a lot in recent decades, mostly because of imperialists, but we won’t go further into the subject because it’s politically charged.

Speaking of politics, it sure is nice when political parties take a stance specifically on software patents. There is a hot debate about it down under and the Labour party in New Zealand openly opposes software patents, based on NZOSS.

“The issue of who controls software that New Zealanders have developed is an important one. Copyright allows the developer to control the terms under which software is released. Patents remove that right and hand it over to a third party. Basically, software patents create a lottery around control of your own efforts.

“We are pleased that Commerce Minister Simon Power has said that the Government would support a select committee recommendation that the Intellectual Property Office develop guidelines for inventions that involve ‘embedded software’ – software that is built into a physical
device.

“Software will still be protected by copyright, which prevents outright copying. We believe this to be sensible and the right decision,” Clare Curran said.

The ‘embedded software’ trick deserves great scrutiny.

Beyond Software

We recently discussed gene patents (ownership of life’s secrets), which are probably declared void by precedence [1, 2]. Here is a timely new item from The Atlantic:

When Patents Kill Innovation

[...]

Michelle Geis points to a new report in Genetics in Medicine suggesting that “exclusive licensing of gene patents does more to block competition and decrease patients’ access to testing than it does to spur innovation.”

Over in India, the issue becomes more political as Indians rejected DNA/drug patents in order to maximise life and welfare. American Indians too (natives/First People) are disturbed by what they consider to be misuse of their DNA.

The Havasupai settlement appears to be the first payment to individuals who said their DNA was misused, several legal experts said, and came after the university spent $1.7 million fighting lawsuits by tribe members.

This story has more to do with invasion, not monopolisation. But either way, DNA patents belong to an area where patents mean death, in the form of TRIPS [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. This relates to ACTA provisions [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14], whose impact on software freedom we wrote about earlier in the week and so did swpat.org. ACTA is disgracing developing countries, probably increasing deaths for the sake of profit, and it is all about intellectual monopoly. Do individual nations have the power to reject ACTA without being cornered and sanctioned against? It’s a rhetorical question.

USPTO Starts Rejecting Software Patents While Germany Mistakenly Overrides the Law and Approves Microsoft’s

Posted in America, Europe, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft, Patents, TomTom at 6:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Keep clean

Summary: Software patents apparently encounter new barriers in the USPTO, whereas in Europe there is a reversal which seems to contradict EPO rules

Microsoft’s business model currently depends on software patents, which is why it has hired lobbyists and recruited front groups to lobby for them all around the world. Yesterday we used Hugo Lueders (CompTIA) as an example, not a scapegoat. CompTIA has lobbies for software patents in Europe even this month.

According to Benjamin Henrion, the president of the FFII (Europe-based), having seen some months ago that the Bilski decision started killing software patents, there might be more of the same. Henrion points to this news and asks: “USPTO starts rejecting software patents?”

From the source:

BPAI Remanding Cases Involving Computer-Oriented Means-Plus-Function Claims

In Ex party Rodriguez, the BPAI rejected a patent applicant’s means-plus-function (MPF) claims as indefinite for failing to provide any corresponding structures in the specification beyond a general purpose computer. That decision followed the Federal Circuit’s Aristocrat holding that “simply disclosing a computer as the structure designated to perform a particular function does not limit the scope of the claim to ‘the corresponding structure, material, or acts’ that perform the function, as required by section 112 paragraph 6.”

This is important news because it’s a software patent on the face of it. A few days ago we saw a film about In Re Bilski being released [1, 2] and there are long discussions about it these days [1, 2]. There is increasing pressure to see the end of software patents.

Ironically, while the US seems to be moving in a better direction, Germany messes up royally by upholding Microsoft’s FAT patent after it was rejected. [via]

The German appeal court has overturned a decision by the German Federal Patent Tribunal to declare Microsoft’s patent for the File Allocation Table (FAT) file system invalid. In judgement number X ZR 27/07, handed down on Tuesday, the tenth civil division of the Karlsruhe-based court confirmed the enforceability of the company’s commercial rights in Germany. It has not yet published its reasoning, but has confirmed the decision in a short press release (German language link).

Some readers have told us about this disruptive development because it relates to the TomTom case and it affects Linux. On the face of it, Scharen is involved but it might be Richter Scharen, not Uwe Scharen, whom we consider to be in Microsoft's fold.

Apple Gets Sued (Again) for Poor Quality Hardware and Denial of Liability/Warranty

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, Hardware at 6:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

iPod control

Summary: The company that brought us spontaneously-combustive telephones is being sued for lacking sense

AS we pointed out a few days ago, Apple is suing Kodak in response to Kodak’s lawsuit, but there are some lawsuits where Apple cannot respond with a counter claim. Apple has a history of betraying partners and customers (even employees) and this time Apple gets sued for having shoddy products like exploding gadgets [1, 2, 3].

Apple on Thursday was sued for denying warranty service to its iPod and iPhone customers based on data supplied by allegedly inaccurate liquid sensors.

Apple began including liquid contact indicators (LCI) in its iPods and iPhones in 2007 and also added them to its MacBook and MacBook Pro computers in 2008.

Palm has also filed a formal complaint against Apple and Adobe might sue Apple (neither company likes Free software, so it’s about Apple’s abuses, not its proprietary nature). Let’s remember that the problem is not just Microsoft. It’s about behaviour, it’s not about brands.

“FSF did some anti-Apple campaigns too. Personally I worry more about Apple because they have user loyalty; Microsoft doesn’t.”

Bradley M. Kuhn (SFLC)

Why Mono is Technically Inferior for Development and Why Microsoft Keeps Promoting It

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents, Ubuntu at 5:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mono car analogy
Picture from guest poster [1, 2]

Summary: A look at the latest news about Mono/Moonlight and what we can learned from the pertinent observations and facts

IS Mono “best of breed” or just a suppressor of productivity? According to this one developer, development with Python and Django has proven to be twice as fast as development with C# and ASP.NET. To quote: [via]

Given equal-sized teams, Django allowed our developers to be twice as productive as our ASP.NET team.

We are always aware of Novell’s attempt to push its Mono-based media player (Banshee) into distributions like Ubuntu and we wrote about it last week. Those who usher Banshee should be aware that only Novell customers are eligible for use of the program because of Microsoft's limitations with software patents.

“Those who usher Banshee should be aware that only Novell customers are eligible for use of the program because of Microsoft’s limitations with software patents.”Novell also promotes MonoTouch for hypePhone and hypePad, even though Apple is blocking it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]. There might be loopholes, but they won’t last forever based on how Apple intercepts access to hypeTunes, for example.

The Examiner has more to say regarding the MonoTouch situation and David Worthington, a booster of Microsoft and by association of Mono [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], has contacted Microsoft’s MVP (Miguel de Icaza) to produce an article/post that defends Microsoft/Mono in the face of Apple (he included a photo of a rotten apple).

History shows us that Apple will do what it wants regardless of what anyone says, but Novell’s case has technical merit. For that matter, Adobe might too. I don’t know much about how its Flash-to-iPhone cross compiler works. My takeaway is that Apple should be flexible with Novell, and at least let it make its case.

Of course it’s his position. He has been bolstering Microsoft’s and Novell’s position for well over a year, without exceptions. He even visited the companies and had lunch with them while they fed him with ‘scoops’ and connected him with their analysts who lied to him for publication purposes. To show another example from the news, watch how Moonlight is being promoted by known Microsoft boosters like Marius Oiaga, not by GNU/Linux Web sites.

How long should it take anyone to realise that promotion of Mono and Moonlight comes from the very same people who promote Microsoft? What does that say about Mono and Moonlight?

“Every line of code that is written to our standards is a small victory; every line of code that is written to any other standard, is a small defeat.”

James Plamondon, Microsoft Technical Evangelist. From Exhibit 3096; Comes v. Microsoft litigation [PDF]

McAfee and Microsoft Cause Immeasurable Financial Damage

Posted in Finance, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 4:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

McAfee

Summary: Enormous scale of problems is seen following McAfee’s error that deleted parts of Windows, which was not secure to begin with (and thus required McAfee’s poisonous placebo)

2010 has so far been a terrible year for Internet Explorer (IE) security [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12]. A few days ago we showed that IE8's XSS filter is broken, so use of recent versions is no guarantee when it comes to security. Microsoft has not addressed this security problem just yet, but The Register says that Microsoft is working on it.

Microsoft will release an update intended to rid Internet Explorer 8 of a vulnerability that can enable serious security attacks against websites that are otherwise safe.

The Register also has this new article about the McAfee cockup which we mentioned earlier [1, 2].

Enterprise customers of a widely used McAfee anti-virus product were in a world of hurt on Wednesday after an update caused large swaths of their machines to become completely inoperable.

“McAfee false positive bricks enterprise PCs worldwide,” says the headline and victims are so furious that a “McFail” campaign seems to have been spawned in Facebook. We have no sympathy for McAfee because this company has a Free software-hostile history which may include GPL violations and fraud. Besides that, McAfee is causing some huge damage to Windows users and to Microsoft as a whole. It is estimated that over a trillion dollars were spent/wasted due to damages caused by Microsoft's shoddy products. “Yet again,” writes a reader to us, “no one mentions it’s only Microsoft and no one mentions the dollar value lost to companies in fraud and revenue diverted into crap AV ‘solutions’.” We intend to press on with the "call out Windows" campaign which will certainly expand over time.

We’ve had our reader quote a new comment from Slashdot which says: “Is there a statistical breakdown as to Operating System platform the vast majority of this ‘aggressive malware’ runs on. Do the designers of such systems bare any responsibility for the current malware infestation. What is the dollar value lost to the economy in fraud, and revenue diverted into security solutions?”

More thought should be given to these important issues. Here is what Pogson had to say:

When I read reports of thousands of PCs disabled by anti-virus foul-ups, I rejoice that FLOSS is replacing XP around here. It is true that the user of XP or other versions of that other OS is helpless. He cannot run the PC without anti-virus software for the threats are too real and he cannot run the PC with anti-virus software because it is just malware in another form. The A-V we use around here is very intrusive and I will be glad to be done with it. It firewalls, filters and blocks applications not on approved list.

It is very counter productive and it costs a lot in terms of real progress. How did the world come to this and how can it get out of this hole?

“I have a nice perspective on what it means to be in charge of the most important project in the history of mankind.”

Microsoft project manager Brian Valentine

“Our products just aren’t engineered for security.”

Brian Valentine (now doing damage inside Amazon)

Links 23/4/2010: Mandriva Linux for Education, Android Beyond Phones

Posted in News Roundup at 4:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Linux, a very powerful but still almost unknown environment for vision-impaired users

    Back in 2006, I wrote that the Free Software community and disabled users must learn to communicate and invited Free Software developers to do their part. Last week I interviewed Tony Baechler, an active member of the Blinux mailing list, to check how things are going in 2010, and to know more about a very interesting project for Linux vision-impaired users he’s trying to launch.

  • Microsoft Windows – Disaster Movie At Eleven!

    And it actually gets worse. I assumed that you could get by with the cheapest possible servers, and with one hundred users, that would be pretty unlikely. The hardware costs for those three Windows servers probably should be about $3000.00 per server higher, and that assumes that you can get by with only three servers – depending upon your operation you might need two or three times as many, and additional Backup Power Supplies. The hardware cost for the single Linux server should probably be about $10,000.00 which is still far less expensive.

    The point of course is that spending money on a Windows solution is an inefficient use of funds. Do you want to be the person reporting to your board of directors that you’ve wasted that much money?

  • Server

    • Cray Releases Highly Scalable, More Inclusive Super-Linux

      We’d all love to have a supercomputer, but sadly, most of us will never have the chance to put that much umph in our computing. If you happen to be in the market for a sweet little Linux box with a half-million cores or so, though, Cray may have just what you’re looking for.

  • Audiocasts

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mandriva.Ru has released Linux for schools and universities

        Mandriva.Ru together with the project EduMandriva and “GNU/Linukstsentrom announced the release of Linux distributions for the Russian educational institutions. Line of software solutions company added to the operating system, Mandriva Academie and EduMandriva, presented in two versions.

        EduMandriva kit includes single-disk distribution EduMandriva One LXDE for low-productivity computers, which works with both disk and lets you install on your PC or flash drive and a DVD with additional educational software EduMandriva Addon, which can be installed on all the official build Mandriva 2010. Among the products included in EduMandriva – programming environments, mathematical packages, CAD/CAM-system, bitmap and vector graphics editors, tools for the layout of the text, the system of testing and distance learning applications to work with sound, music and videos, and other software designed for use in the educational process.

      • PCLinuxOS 2010 Review

        As you probably expect at this point, I absolutely recommend PCLinuxOS 2010. I have been using it for only a couple days, but I have the feeling that it is the best Linux release I have tested in years.

        PCLinuxOS 2010 is excellent for any kind of user, but probably most recommended for new comers. It brings down the need for CLI typing to almost zero. In my case, I actually have only opened Konsole because I like it, not because there was no other choice.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Inside Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.0 Beta

        Red Hat has launched a beta version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux Version 6.0 with increased power and performance for the KVM hypervisor, greater Linux server scalability and a new version of the Enterprise Linux file system.

        The priorities in Version 6 in effect set an expanded agenda for Red Hat Enterprise Linux. “This release sets the scene for the next decade,” said Nick Carr, Red Hat marketing director in an interview. The beta release of Version 6.0 became available for download on April 21. General availability will come at an unspecified time later this year.

      • Jim Whitehurst: Don’t build a better mousetrap. Change the business

        Companies that are creating massive value typically aren’t building a better mousetrap. They’re not improving on existing technologies or simply adding new features. Instead, they’re changing the business model. This was the message behind Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst’s keynote at today’s CED Venture 2010 Conference.

      • Red Hat near Key Support Area

        Shares of Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) are trading very close to calculated support at $30.25 with current price action closing at just $31.29 places the stock price near levels where traders will start paying attention.

      • Fedora

        • Fedora 13 Goddard set to launch with Amazing Features

          The folks at fedora Project have been working hard to release yet another release of the Fedora OS. Fedora 13 codenamed Goddard is all set to launch on 18th May 2010. As always Fedora has been always on forefront to implementation of latest updates from the Open Source World. Let’s have a look at the features which are expected to be included in the final release of Fedora 13.

    • Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu Thoughts

        For embedded and lower-cost devices, I think Ubuntu (or similar distros) are the way to go. However, I just don’t feel it’s there yet for the desktop environment. What are your thoughts?

      • Appearance Changes: Ubuntu 10.04 vs Ubuntu 9.10

        If you’ve been following the Ubuntu 10.04 testing releases you’re probably aware of some significant changes to the appearance of Ubuntu. Among the top changes in question are the new black theme, black/purple gradient background and Mac-style title bar buttons that appear on the left side of the windows. These are just a few of the changes/improvements of this release but some of the most controversial. Today’s release of the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS release candidate sets these changes in stone for the release at the end of the month. Is this a good change? Here’s a few screenshots to help you decide.

      • Near Perfect Ubuntu Desktop

        One of the common questions I get for my Ubuntu User column is what is my desktop or what is a good desktop for Ubuntu Linux. A few weeks ago I got a Dell Inspiron 560 on sale at Best Buy. It was a great deal, and ended up being a near perfect Ubuntu desktop.

      • Ubuntu 10.04 – An Extremely Simple Operating System [Linux]

        Well guys, what do you think? Is Ubuntu 10.04 as amazing as I’m making it out to be, or am I just a hopeless fanboy raving about a shiny new toy? If you’re trying the beta, is there a great new feature that I’m missing? Should I wipe my hard drive and install Gentoo, like a real man? Commenting doesn’t kill kittens, so feel free to do so!

      • Ubuntu 10.04 LTS

        I’m very glad that Linux distributions in general (and Ubuntu in particular) have matured to the point where I get the luxury of talking about shiny new features and visual tweaks to the OS instead of getting bogged down in system errors and wonky configurations.

      • It’s almost Lynx time

        We have a mere 7 days until Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx LTS is released and this morning I got an email from Steve Langasek through the Ubuntu Announcement email list letting me know that they now have a release candidate available for testing.

      • Ubuntu server OS 10.4 set to ship

        Canonical, the company that distributes the Ubuntu flavor of the Linux operating system, is set to drop a new Long Term Support (LTS) version of its popular distro on April 29, 2010. Canonical will make its 10.4 distribution available for download on the Ubuntu Web site (Server version link, desktop version link). LTS versions are guaranteed to be supported by Canonical for at least five years.

      • Mythbuntu 10.04 RC is out!

        Mythbuntu 10.04 Release Candidate has been released. With this release, we are providing mirroring on sponsored mirrors and torrents.

      • Canonical releases Ubuntu 10.04 LTS release candidate
      • Announcing the Release Candidate for Ubuntu 10.04 LTS
      • Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx dark theme and Skype

        If you use Ubuntu’s latest release Lucid Lynx and you enjoy to chat with your friends using Skype, then you might have noticed that Skypes default theme clashes with Lucid’s dark theme. Personally, I think the new theme is kick-ass, but I was a bit annoyed that I couldn’t read any of the menus in Skype. I’m taking about the kind of menus you get when you right click on the Skype icon in your top taskbar. The dark text on dark background makes it unreadable.

      • Ubuntu, the family album

        A few days before the release of the new Ubuntu, here’s a guided tour through the Ubuntu family album with some annotations telling my story with the different versions.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Android

      • ELC: Android and the community

        Greg Kroah-Hartman delivered some “tough love” to Android in his keynote at this year’s Embedded Linux Conference (ELC). He is very clearly excited about Android and what it can do—uses it daily as his regular phone—but is unhappy with Google’s lack of community engagement. There is hope that things will change, he said; there has been a fair amount of “introspection” at Google that he hopes will lead it in a more community-oriented direction.

        [...]

        There were several things that Google did right, Kroah-Hartman said, starting with its choice of Linux. In an aside, he noted that all phone manufacturers bring up their phones using Linux, including Apple with the iPhone; “a little-known fact”. He also lauded Google for following the kernel license, which is something that Palm didn’t initially do with WebOS, he said. He pointed to android.git.kernel.org as a “wonderful site” that contains all of the Android code in easily accessible Git repositories. But “that’s all the good”.

      • Dell Thunder explodes Android with 4.1-inch OLED screen, promises Hulu app

        It’s like Dell’s making up for lost time with smartphones: while “Lightning” is the company’s answer to Windows Phone extravagance, the Dell Thunder that’s leaking out along side does up Android 2.1 with similar aplomb and a 4.1-inch WVGA OLED screen. There’s a heavily custom Dell “Stage” UI on top, which seems much different (and classier) than what we’ve seen on the Streak or Aero.

      • Dell Looking Glass tablet leaks: Tegra 2 coming your way in November

        We’d already heard that Dell was working on larger tablets, and tonight’s huge leak brought us tons of info on the Looking Glass, a seven-inch big brother to the Streak 5 that’s due out in November.

      • Adobe Previews Flash/AIR Games Coming to Android
      • Sony X10 The GutReactionReview(TM)

        Okay, I’ve had the X10 since 8:30pm last night now (but I had to sleep some) so here is my initial GutReactionReview™. This will be quick, and mostly point form. It’s possible that any “problems” I list might have solutions, but the whole point is what the reaction of a first-time smart-phone buyer might be, especially if they aren’t too savvy, or know how/where to solve these things on their own.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Get Ready For HP’s AirLife 100: Official Specs Revealed

        HP Compaq gave us a sneak peak at their Android-powered netbook at the most recent CES and Mobile World Congress, but they’ve remained rather tight-lipped on the device’s specifications (even after it’s passed FCC). We’ve already gotten our taste at an initial list of expected specs, but HP has officially confirmed them today.

    • Tablets

Free Software/Open Source

  • Four Considerations When Using Open Source in Production

    Most IT staff and developers have no problem technically evaluating open source software. However, they often overlook other considerations that could mean success or failure of a production system.

    Here are some of the top non-technical issues you should consider for any open source that will be running in your production environment.

  • Debunking Free Software Myths

    I fancy myself to be what some would call a “Free Software Advocate” and as such when I am making recommendations of free software to people I hear many of the same common misconceptions day in and day out. Lets separate some of the fact from the fiction shall we?

    #1 Free software is Illegal

    This is easily the most common phrase I hear when recommending free software to new people. (Not just the un-educated make this mistake either, one of my college professors made this assumption when I brought up the topic in class) Let me assure you that free software is 100% legal, you are not breaking any laws by downloading and using it. Most free software is typically released under the GNU license or some similar license.

  • Free 451 Group report on regional differences in attitudes to open source adoption

    The recent survey of 1,700 open source software users, conducted as part of our recent CAOS report Climate Change: User Perspectives on the Impact of Economic Conditions on Open Source Adoption, provided us with an opportunity to generate some quantitative evidence to support our qualitative research.

  • Better test data generation with Benerator

    Benerator addresses these issues. It makes it easy and fast to configure data generation in early project stages, so you can start performance testing as soon as you have running code. You can run Benerator from a nightly build system and trigger nightly automatic performance tests. As your project evolves, you can fine-tune data generation, or extract and anonymize real production data.

  • Don’t let FUD kill your business goals

    If there’s one thing business leaders can learn from open source developers, it’s when you begin disrupting the comfortable ways that people do business, you’ll experience the power of FUD—Fear, Uncertainty, and Doubt. And your ideas, in all their brilliant, open-minded glory, will be the target. Open source software developers have heard it all. Open source is risky. It will destroy your profitability. It will turn you into a communist. Worthy of inclusion on an international watchlist. And you should probably be quarantined.

    So if you’re facing opposition to bringing the open source way to your organization, find an established open source community and ask what has worked for them—and what hasn’t.

    Drupal developer Bryan Ollendyke likes to point to successful implementations of Drupal, like Penn State or the White House. This is an excellent strategy for silencing the nay-sayers. Arm yourself with examples of respected companies who embody the open source way.

    Rob Weir of the OpenDocument Format looks carefully at the lies and half-truths and then formulates a concise response that sets the record straight. It’s hard to argue with facts.

  • Mozilla

    • A look at the future of Firefox add-ons

      Recently we came across some information that Firefox would be getting restart-less add-ons sooner than we expected, and it prompted us to take a look at the future of Firefox add-ons.

      [...]

      Jetpack started off as a Mozilla labs experiment for the future of Firefox extensions. It was meant to be a simple new way to get started writing extensions for Firefox using web standard technologies such as HTML, Javascript and CSS. The Jetpack system was supposed to eventually become an alternate — perhaps a replacement — for the current way of writing extensions for Firefox.

      Jetpacks were restart-less extensions for default which used the Jetpack APIs to do all the work. This meant that Firefox could make as many changes as they wanted between two versions of Firefox, and as long as they ensured that the Jetpack API does not change no add-on functionality will break.

      After 8 iterations, the Jetpack project came to an end, as the original project had lost clarity in its goal. However from its ashes the Jetpack SDK has arisen, which takes into account some of the lessons learnt while creating Jetpack.

    • 10 MORE outstanding Firefox extensions

      It’s been a while since we last took a look at worthwhile Firefox extensions. Well, it’s time again. But now, Firefox has added collections to the mix. Extension collections are exactly what they sound like — collections of related extensions. In this list, we have a few worthwhile collections (since they’re new, there aren’t many) as well as some stand-alone extensions.

    • Firefox Add-on of the Week: GoogleSharing
    • Mozilla Balkans 2010

      After a lot of talk about a possible event somewhere in South-Eastern Europe, we finally did it. We are now organizing a whole new and somewhat experimental event in the Rocky Balkans. Leaders of local Mozilla communities from the Balkans have joined their efforts to organize this event, the first of this type in the Balkans.

  • Oracle

    • OpenSolaris 2009.06

      Occasionally I get an interesting, off-the-beaten-path suggestion on the Request A Review page. This time around somebody suggested doing a review of OpenSolaris. Why do a review of OpenSolaris? Well why the heck not? It’s always fun to check out a different kind of desktop operating system. Sometimes you can find an unexpected jewel when you least expect it. Is OpenSolaris a jewel? I’ll try to answer that question in this review.

  • CMS

    • Improving Your WordPress Blog: Five Essential Plugins

      WordPress is a full featured and simple to use publishing platform, and it just gets better with each release. But even as good as the standard WordPress release is, you can always make it just a little bit better. In this guide, we’ll look at five plugins that will help protect your blog from spam and malware, simplify keeping backups, and even help you make a little cash off your blog if you’re so inclined.

      The WordPress community has developed thousands of plugins and themes. If you haven’t tried out WordPress plugins yet, you owe it to yourself and your blog to give them a try. They’re amazingly easy to set up and can boost the functionality of WordPress by quite a lot.

  • Releases

    • System message logger with pattern database

      The program compiles statistics in which log messages can be evaluated by server host, destination, pattern database classes and rules or tags. Encryption and hashing can also be set up separately for each storage location. The open source version under the GPL2 license is available to download from the development website for various Linux and FreeBSD versions.

  • Open Access/Content

    • OpenStreetMap data is on your train

      From Simon Clayson’s Flickr stream, we learn that OSM iz in yer tranez. I’m sure that’s what the cool kids would say. More from Simon:

      Great Western Trains have some seats with airline style LCD “entertainment” screens. More interesting than paying £1.50 to watch an episode of Friends is the “You are exactly here” screen which is free. And it uses Open Street Map! Good work Volo TV.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Adobe Should Open Source Flash

      Even if Google opens VP8 there are slim chances that arch rivals like Microsoft, especially Apple, will adopt Ogg format, despite its superior quality and openness.

      Google should add more weight to Ogg by dropping support for proprietary H.264 and encouraging usage of Ogg. Considering its ownership of YouTube, Chrome browser, Android and upcoming Chome OS, Google is in a very strong position to boost deployment of Ogg over H.264. IE is weakening; Firefox is gaining market, Chrome is picking up; Opera already supports Ogg, this would be the best move for Google to ‘force’ a free format.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Sun sat sends stunning solar snap
    • New speed cameras trap motorists from space

      The cameras, which combine number plate reading technology with a global positioning satellite receiver, are similar to those used in roadworks.

    • Study to probe mobile health risk

      The world’s largest study on the safety of using mobile phones has been launched by researchers in London.

      The project will recruit 250,000 phone users across five different European countries including the UK.

      It will last between 20 and 30 years and aims to provide definitive answers on the health impacts of mobile phones.

  • Security/Aggression

    • European DNA seizure plans slammed by Conservatives

      The European Union has put forward a proposal for a continentwide search warrant, which could be issued in any state, and which would be binding on all police forces.

      Under the proposals, authorities in countries such as Poland would be given the power to demand that British police seize the bank account details of a suspect living in this country.

      Warrants could also be issued which would force police to intercept phone calls, set up CCTV surveillance, monitor bank accounts, and even demand body samples such as fingerprints or DNA.

    • Teacher Gareth Thomas claims his life has been blighted by the CRB after his identity was confused with a drug dealer

      A teacher has been left traumatised after his identity was confused with a convicted drugs offender.

      Gareth Thomas taught English at the Archbishop’s School in Canterbury for seven years.

      But he was left stunned when he couldn’t return to the profession after taking a career break in 2007.

      The reason was the Criminal Records Bureau (CRB) found his details closely matched those of a man convicted and jailed for a drugs offence in Winchester 29 years ago.

    • Full-body scanners can store images

      We are clearly on an uphill struggle with body scanner technology, as the dubious poll from airport security firm, Unisys, showed last week – people are more blasé about body scanners than other intrusive technologies. However, if the government have lied they need to be brought to account.

    • £80m boost to TfL as CCTV catches 1m illegal parkers

      Figures released by London Mayor and TfL boss Boris Johnson show that while staff have ticketed 950,000 times in the last five years, CCTV has overtaken them and broken through the million barrier.

    • Plaid Cymru calls for an end to identity cards

      Plaid Cymru has launched its election manifesto and promises to end the identity card project and the national DNA database.

    • UK jails schizophrenic for refusal to decrypt files

      The first person jailed under draconian UK police powers that Ministers said were vital to battle terrorism and serious crime has been identified by The Register as a schizophrenic science hobbyist with no previous criminal record.

  • Environment

    • Treating Climate Change as a Curable Disease

      Nearly 200 scientists from 14 countries met last month at the famed Asilomar retreat center outside Monterey, California in a very deliberate bid to make history. Their five-day meeting focused on setting up voluntary ground rules for research into cloud-brightening, giant algae blooms and other massive-scale interventions to cool the planet. It’s unclear how significant the meeting will turn out to be, but the intent of its organizers was unmistakable: By choosing Asilomar, they hoped to summon the spirit of a groundbreaking meeting of biologists that took place on the same site in 1975. Back then, scientists with bushy sideburns and split collars — the forefathers of the molecular revolution, it turned out — established principles for the safe and ethical study of deadly pathogens.

    • Tipping Point: Near-Term Systemic Implications of a Peak in Global Oil Production–Principal Mechanisms Driving Collapse

      We begin with the state of globalised civilisation that we argued in sec: 4.1 has been in a relatively stable dynamical state for the last century and a half or so. In its broadest outline we might say that declining energy flows reduce economic activity which further reduce energy flows. A series of increasingly severe processes are set in train which start to cause cascading collapse in major hub infrastructures and the operational fabric of the global economy. These processes have different time-scales, some could evolve over years, some could be relatively abrupt but because of coupling between them, the faster processes are likely to lead the overall collapse rate.

    • Whales Under Threat!
    • Whale poop is vital to ocean’s carbon cycle

      Saving endangered baleen whales could boost the carbon storage capacity of the Southern Ocean, suggests a new study of whale faeces. Whale faeces once provided huge quantities of iron to a now anaemic Southern Ocean, boosting the growth of carbon-sequestering phytoplankton.

    • Hollywood and “The Cove” Join Forces for Dolphin Awareness PSA [VIDEO]

      Hollywood is coming together to spread the word about the brutal slaughter of dolphins off the coast of Japan. In the Academy Award-winning documentary The Cove, these practices are exposed from the perspective of those that are working to put a stop to it.

    • Iceland volcano: why we were lucky we weren’t wiped out

      The volcanic ash cloud from Eyjafjallajokull has caused travel chaos and misery. But we were lucky. An eruption in the future could wipe out the human race

    • Once-hidden EU report reveals damage from biodiesel

      Biofuels such as biodiesel from soy beans can create up to four times more climate-warming emissions than standard diesel or petrol, according to an EU document released under freedom of information laws.

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Top European companies ‘lobbying in secret’, says NGO

      Referring to the Commission’s lobby register, Hugo Lueders at the Brussels office of CompTIA, an association representing the global IT industry, said “we are not registered and have no interest in doing so while the scheme remains voluntary”.

      Lueders said some of the association’s members are registered with the European Parliament in order to get access badges.

      Speaking ahead of the report’s launch, co-author Paul de Clerck of Friends of the Earth Europe said “in its current form the European Commission’s lobby register fails in its goal to safeguard reliable information and to end the culture of secrecy around lobbying in Brussels”.

      “To give the public an accurate picture of big company lobbying, a joint Parliament and Commission mandatory register is needed that includes names of individual lobbyists, the specific dossiers they are lobbying on, and has stringent financial disclosure requirements,” de Clerck concluded.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Draft Bill Propostion on Civil Rights Framework for Internet in Brazil

      Brazil is going through a remarkable procedure for the establishment of a civil-rights based legal framework for the use of Internet. The Ministry of Justice, in partnership with the Center for Technology and Society from Fundação Getúlio Vargas (FGV/CTS), has launched a collaborative process to try to underline how Brazilian society is willing to structure rights and responsibilities for using the web, as well as providing access and content.

    • This is insane – new ISP censors the web with movie-style age limits

      UK-based Tibboh proudly states that it “protects your family with cinema style ratings for the internet developed with the BBFC. Providing all the benefits of the internet whilst minimising the risk for your children.”

    • Wikileaks Claims Facebook Deleted Their Fan Page Because They “Promote Illegal Acts”

      Wikileaks Claims Facebook Deleted Their Fan Page Because They “Promote Illegal Acts”Secret-sharing website Wikileaks is at it again, tweeting allegations against people who have pissed them off. Previously, it was Robert Gates, whom they called a “liar”. Tonight, it’s Facebook, which Wikileaks claims deleted its 30,000 member-strong fan club.

    • First They Came For Hitler…

      The thousand-year reich of Downfall parodies has ended in ruins. Constantin Films, the German producer of the 2004 film Der Untergang, has compelled YouTube to start taking down the popular Hitler-rants-about-funny-thing-X clips.

    • Hitler Rants Video About DMCA Takedowns Is Taken Down Itself

      Since this video, which uses the same Downfall clip in question, can be considered parody, then it should be covered under fair use. Since its creator filed a dispute after it was taken down, for now, the video is viewable on YouTube (and on Vimeo, as in the link above), awaiting review from Constantin on the copyright claim.

    • 10 Nations Demand Online Privacy – Or Else

      That some of the same governments that have recently enacted strict new laws that will give media companies greater control over the Internet are the same ones complaining about Google violating users’ rights is somewhat ironic, said privacy expert Lauren Weinstein of Vortex Technology.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Now, Apparently It’s Not Just Content Providers That Are Getting A Free Ride On Broadband Networks, But Consumers Too

      One of US telcos’ favorite talking points is the “free ride” that Google and other content providers get on their networks. It’s fundamentally wrong, since Google and others obviously pay their bandwidth bills, but it’s also conceptually flawed, as telco execs seem to think it’s their networks, rather than the content which travels over it, that consumers value. The stupidity isn’t bounded by this country’s borders, though, with the head of a UK broadband-via-satellite provider saying that “Neither consumers or providers are bearing the cost” of data traffic over broadband networks. With that, we’d like to extend our usual challenge to the exec: if neither consumers or content providers are paying, how about paying their bandwidth bills for a month?

    • Just like Comcast? RCN accused of throttling P2P

      Net neutrality skeptics routinely point out that only a pair of ISPs, Comcast and Madison River, have been FCC targets for willfully interfering with specific Internet content—so what’s the problem?

    • Ubisoft’s Despised DRM Continues To Annoy, Fail

      We’ve been covering how Ubisoft’s new DRM requires that users be constantly connected to the Internet if they want to play even the single-player portion of the game. That didn’t exactly thrill customers to begin with, but the DRM was made considerably worse by the fact that many paying customers couldn’t play the game they owned because Ubisoft’s servers initially kept going down or their connection wasn’t particularly reliable. Of course like all DRM’d games Ubisoft’s games eventually wind up being cracked anyway — which makes all the annoyances customers experience all the more pointless.

  • Murdochmania

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • No Surprise: MPAA Wouldn’t Reveal Data On How It Came Up With Bogus ‘Piracy’ Numbers

      Starting last year, I started receiving reports from folks at the GAO that they were getting massive resistance from the entertainment industry when it came to their attempt to look more deeply into the actual economic impact of unauthorized file sharing. Some even told me that industry pressure had resulted in the GAO never releasing a particular report. However, last week, as everyone knows, the GAO came out with its extremely damning report, showing that industry figures on the impact of unauthorized file trading were totally bunk. The numbers — which were regularly used by politicians in pushing for entertainment industry-supported legislation — had little basis in fact, greatly overstated the issue and totally ignored the benefits of file sharing.

    • Feds hampered by incomplete MPAA piracy data

      But the GAO never got all of the information it requested from the Motion Picture Association of America, according to GAO administrators, including Loren Yager, the author of the summary report that ensued and director of the GAO’s International Affairs and Trade efforts. The agency said as much in the report: “It is difficult based on the information provided in the study to determine how the authors handled key assumptions.”

    • Oh Look, UK Piracy Statistics Are Based On Nonsense Too

      In the UK, the recent Digital Economy Bill was rushed through without any real debate — but with plenty of typical claims of how piracy was going to lead to economic armageddon if the bill wasn’t passed. Just like in the States, the UK government never actually bothered to study whether any of these claims were accurate. If they had, they would have found that — also just like in the United States — the claims weren’t based on real science but on the usual combination of flawed logic (assuming a copy shared naturally equates to a lost sale) and skewed, industry-supplied data.

    • Innovation By Imitation: Study Shows That Success Comes From Imitation

      The results, however, showed that the runaway winners of the contest were those that used “social learning” the most. In other words, they were the ones who took what, on the face of things, appeared to be the most “costly” move — and focused on what was working best for others and then using it successfully themselves. In other words, yet again, we see that the strategies that make the most sense for the greatest output tend to be those where participants in a market have the ability to copy others. Now, this upsets those who may have come up with the results first, but as other studies have shown, it’s rarely the exclusivity of patents that leads to that invention in the first place. So if you don’t need exclusivity to invent, and a more open solution of copying leads to greater overall output and social benefit… what, exactly, is the reason for creating these kinds of monopolies anyway?

    • RIAA and MPAA Make Outrageous Proposal, Sit Back, Stroke White Cat

      The United States government is still wrestling with the tricky problem of intellectual property rights in the digital age, and so the Intellectual Property Enforcement Coordinator (also known as the Copyright Czar) has asked the big players in intellectual property to submit proposals full of steps the government could take to curb pirates and other copyright infringers.

      The joint proposal from the MPAA and RIAA is, as one might suspect, the sort of thing that wouldn’t seem amiss coming out of the mouth of a black clad man with one cataract-filled eye, who sits in a swivel chair at one end of a glossy conference table and strokes a white Persian cat. Once he finishes speaking, his henchmen drag you away from your computer, screaming.

    • She Fought the RIAA; Tortoise and Will Oldham in ’06; Smile, You’re Up for a Grammy

      In February I covered the story of Cecilia Gonzalez, who was one of 261 people across the country–51 in the Chicago area–accused of illegal downloading in the first wave of civil suits brought by record companies and their trade organization, the Recording Industry Association of America, in 2003. In a summary judgment in January a district court judge ordered Gonzalez to pay five major record companies a total of $22,500 for 30 songs she downloaded using Kazaa.

    • Copyrights

      • Flea market beats music giant Sony in copyright suit
      • Climate sceptic wins landmark data victory ‘for price of a stamp’

        Belfast ecologist forced to hand over tree-ring data describes order from information commission as a ‘staggering injustice’

      • India Introduces Major Copyright Reform Bill

        The Government of India has just introduced a major new copyright reform package. Of particular note from a Canadian perspective are the approaches to fair dealing and anti-circumvention. On fair dealing, the provision is expanded to cover “private and personal use.” On anti-circumvention, the bill is consistent with implementing the WIPO Internet treaties in a manner that retains equal rights both online and offline. The provision specifically targets circumvention for the purposes of copyright infringement and does not target the distribution or marketing of devices that can be used to circumvent.

      • Canadian Entertainment Industry Begins New Media Campaign For Draconian Copyright Laws

        Along those lines, a few folks have submitted a writeup by Canadian intellectual property lawyer Richard Owens, who claims that the public consultation on copyright in Canada last year was not fair because it was dominated by evil pirates and “shadowy organizations.” Seriously. The article dismisses the public consultation because sites like TorrentFreak (which he mischaracterizes, ignoring that the site is a well-respected journalistic endeavor) encouraged people to make their views known, and that many of the submissions came via a submission system put together by the Canadian Coalition of Electronic Rights — which he also mischaracterizes as “a clandestine group of mod-chip manufacturers.”

      • Filesharing? OK cool…but…do us a favor too

        We get asked a lot if we’re cool with filesharing, and downloading our album “illegally”…..so here’s the deal. We’re totally cool with it. As any of you who have taken us up on our free sampler CD offer know, we spend a small fortune on printing and postage just to send out our music for free. We’re pretty broke too, and like listening to tons of music that we can’t always afford….and in the end the most important thing to us is that you get to enjoy our music.

        [...]

        So here is our win/win proposal to people who download the record from a filesharing site: If you like the album, pick your favorite song and email it to 10 of your friends.

    • ACTA

      • ACTA and intermediaries

        So, the text of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) has been released. Much of what I’ve read so far brings me back to an earlier comment I made regarding one of the early drafts. If you don’t feel like reading the link, the gist of what I said is that the agreement was not particularly cumbersome, but that it contained two points of concern, the export of American punitive and statutory damages, and the criminalisation of a wider range of copyright infringement. Not much has happened to change my mind from that opinion. I have been advocating a “wait and see” approach to ACTA. Some of the leaks have worried me, but personally I do not think that the agreement will have the wide-ranging nefarious effect advertised. There is however, room for concern.

      • Consolidated ACTA text is released, without country positions

        Today the first public draft of the ACTA text was released. A copy is available here. Earlier leaked versions of the text, which include country positions, are the January 18, 2010 consolidated text, a February 2010 EU memorandum of the selected sections, and seven documents from 2008.

    • Digital Economy Bill

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