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05.05.10

IRC Proceedings: May 5th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 5:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

“The fight has been around a long time, now the target of Microsoft is Theora”

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents at 3:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Darwin fish and Ogg

Summary: With Novell’s help, Microsoft continues to retard the World Wide Web, polluting it with .NET and patents-encumbered codecs (like those provided for Moonlight)

THIS morning we wrote about Novell’s use of Mono — not just Moonlight — to mess about with Web browsers and help Microsoft. The Source has just expressed an opinion about it too.

Expand Microsoft lock-in. This is part of the “lock-in” problem: generally speaking, Microsoft technology is designed to work as smooth as possible with other Microsoft technology, and as difficult as possible with non-Microsoft technology. This means that once you start down the road of using Microsoft technology it becomes ever more difficult to step outside of that ecosystem.

Thus, Team Apologista must constantly replace other parts of the development ecosystem with the Microsoft solution. If you learn a Microsoft language (C#), you can’t be using a non-Microsoft language in your browser – have to get C# in there. And that means implementing .NET in your browser. So it goes.

Move from Opt-in to Opt-out to No-opt. Everyone in the world who deals with telemarker calls or shovelware on new (Windows) computers (or uses Facebook and cares about privacy) knows that “Opt-In” is far more preferrable to the user than “Opt Out”.

So, the defense that “if the user doesn’t want Mono they can just remove it” is bogus from the start – “Opt Out” is always the defense offered by those peddling things no one wants. It becomes more bogus when non-Mono apps are replaced by Mono apps, and it explodes in a mushroom cloud of nuclear bogosity when you start sticking it in their browser.

Miguel de Icaza has proven over the past decade from day one that he intends to make .NET ubiquitious – if he gets his way it will be a crucial component of your desktop, your application choices, and even your web browsing experience.

Another subject we have been writing about quite a lot lately is Microsoft’s and Apple’s cultural threat with MPEG-LA:

“Microsoft, Apple Will Never Allow An Open Web,” says one blogger whose explanation goes like this:

There were high hopes with HTML5. It was expected to set the Web free of locked, closed, proprietary formats. That may not be the case anymore. Apple and Microsoft seem determined to put locks on this possibility.

Microsoft’s Dean Hachamovitch, General Manager, Internet Explorer, has made it clear that “In its HTML5 support, IE9 will support playback of H.264 video only.”

Apple’s Steve Jobs has already written at length supporting H.264 and bashing Adobe for its ‘closed’ Flash for his own ‘airtight’ products.

The high-profile blogs by the two proprietary companies of the world hints at a conspiracy. It seems an environment is being created to ‘distract’ developers and users from true free formats like Ogg Theora and prepare the ground for a proprietary H.264, in which these companies are stakeholders.

In a typical Microsoftish manner Dean wrote, “H.264 is an industry standard, with broad and strong hardware support.”

No, it is not an standard. Industry standard it may be because more companies use this format. It is not even an ISO standard. The way Microsoft’s OOXML was approved at ISO raises doubts about such standards. How many standards does Microsoft really respect? CSS standards in IE is a nightmare for web developers. That is a different topic. Let’s steer clear from it.

This is especially curious because Apple and Microsoft used to fight one another when it comes to codecs and formats. While it’s being speculated that Apple may create a Web-based iTunes (with MPEG-LA patents, obviously), it is worth recalling Comes vs Microsoft memos that showed Microsoft’s fear of Apple’s media business. “The fight has been around a long time,” tells us a reader who adds this old reference. “Just now the target of Microsoft is Theora,” he asserts while adding the direct testimony of Avadis Tevanian, Jr. (context).

“Point #70 of Avadis Tevanian testimony warns of the problems that lead to the EU anti-trust case.”
      –Anonymous reader
He also claims that “Inferior DirectX, mentioned in the testimonies, is a problem via Picasa. There is no Linux version of Picasa because of that, it has to run inside WINE.

“Point #70 of Avadis Tevanian testimony warns of the problems that lead to the EU anti-trust case. We see more problems from Microsoft and Microsoft partners. These can be prevented by *not* using these products and not accepting excuses from individuals.”

Separately, Microsoft is trying to adapt an ‘Apple defence’ to suppress Datel in a case which we mentioned the other day. It’s not succeeding though [1, 2] and it serves as a fresh example of Microsoft’s anti-competitive behaviour.

To end on a positive note, Webmonkey.com asks, “Who Needs Flash?”

In just months, from seemingly nowhere, Apple’s solo campaign to dethrone Flash as the de facto standard for web video has gathered enough momentum to get over the top. The question is no longer whether HTML5 will or should do the job, but when.

Last week signaled the tipping point, when Microsoft confirmed HTML5 video support would be included in the next version of Internet Explorer, which is due later this year. That move will swing the percentage of browsers supporting the nascent standard well above half, and will rapidly accelerate adoption by publishers, despite lingering technical and legal issues.

The shift is already happening on the mobile web, and eventually — in perhaps as soon as two years — HTML5 can be expected to serve most new video online.

Let us hope that this is true and let us help it become true by requesting that sites provide ‘open’ video and demand that governments do so too (they must work for their citizens and put no barriers on corporations’ behalf). By using our voice we can drive change.

“Microsoft does not like negative or even objective press coverage and they have a tendency to be a bully about it. If something appears that they don’t like, they have the ability to punish the publication.”

Knight-Ridder New Media President Bob Ingle

Firm of Bill Gates’ Father Gets Involved in Gizmodo Raid Case, Gizmodo May Sue

Posted in Apple, Bill Gates, Courtroom, Law, Microsoft at 2:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Civil war raid

Summary: K & L Gates steps into the case involving illegal raid of a Gizmodo blogger; Gawker Media may respond with a lawsuit

LAST week we wrote several posts about what Apple and the police (which Apple invoked) did to a blogger quite tactlessly and maybe even illegally. To cite some relevant posts again (many external links therein), we have:

We find it particularly curious that the dodgy K&L Gates (Bill’s dad) is getting involved with this case, although it is not coincidental given the size of this firm and the incredible political power it possesses.

A 21-year-old California man was identified by his lawyer Thursday as the person who sold a prototype iPhone to the Gizmodo technology site, which published photos and other information about the unreleased device.

Lawyer Confirms Identity of ‘lost’ IPhone SellerBrian Hogan, a college student who lives in Redwood City, Calif., was at a local bar with friends when another patron handed him the phone, said Jeff Bornstein, an attorney with San Francisco law firm K&L Gates, in an e-mailed statement. “Brian asked others near him if the phone belonged to them,” said Bornstein. “When they disclaimed ownership, Brian and his friends left the bar with the phone.”

According to this short report, Gizmodo may sue through Gawker Media.

The dispute between Gizmodo and the San Mateo County, Calif., sheriff’s office regarding the iPhone 4G prototype continues. CNET News reported Wednesday that Gawker Media, Gizmodo’s parent company, may sue the sheriff’s office for the search last week that resulted in the seizure of computer equipment from blogger Jason Chen’s home office.

Thomas Burke, a partner in the San Francisco office of law firm Davis Wright Tremaine, told CNET that Gawker has a cause of action “because search is not the appropriate method in this situation.” California shield laws and the federal Privacy Protection Act require police to use subpoenas to obtain information and other evidence from newsrooms.

Why sue the sheriff’s office? Law enforcers have connections inside the system that make them immune to action that delegitimises this very same system. Why is Apple off the hook here?

Eye on Security: Windows 2003 Web Sites Defaced, SharePoint 2007 Suffers Zero-Day Vulnerability

Posted in Australia, Finance, Microsoft, Security, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 2:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Secure OS

Summary: IDG report about mass defacements of Windows sites in Australia and other security problems that are new

HAVING just taken a glance at the past week’s news from IDG*, we found:

i. Australian Cereal Hacker on Defacement Rampage

The ANZAC Day attacks were conducted by a single hacker, or hacking group, and affected Windows 2003 operating systems.

ii. Microsoft Investigates SharePoint 2007 Zero Day

Microsoft is scrambling to fix a bug in its SharePoint 2007 groupware after a Swiss firm abruptly released code that could be used in an attack.

The proof-of-concept code was released Wednesday, just over two weeks after security consultancy High-Tech Bridge says it disclosed the issue to Microsoft on April 12.

iii. Texas Man to Plead Guilty to Building Botnet-for-hire

A Mesquite, Texas, man is set to plead guilty to training his 22,000-PC botnet on a local ISP — just to show off its firepower to a potential customer.

The third article ought to call out Windows, which is responsible for hundreds of millions of zombie PCs

Microsoft views vulnerabilities also as an opportunity. Here is the latest propaganda whose purpose is apparently to sell Vista 7 using ‘security’ as an excuse (Microsoft is hiding flaws without ever reporting them, probably in order to distort statistics). As we showed before, Vista 7 is not secure. To name some older posts on the subject:

Ian Paul from IDG has just written about Vista 7′s “worst features”:

Windows 7 fixed many of Vista’s ills, but it also introduced a few of its own.

IDG also has this new article about the LoveBug worm, which is estimated to have cost $5-8 billion in damages (for one worm alone). Needless to say, Microsoft did not carry the burden of these damages.

When the LoveBug worm hit 10 years ago, it was a different time when people believed admirers were really reaching out to say “I love you”, personal firewalls were turned off by default and executable attachments weren’t blocked at e-mail gateways.

Those circumstances allowed the Love Letter worm — the first Visual Basic script worm — to infect more than 50 million computers worldwide within a week, causing estimated $5 billion to $8 billion in damages, bringing down networks by maxing out their ability to fire off e-mails and causing painstaking disinfection of affected machines.

Here we are a decade later and Microsoft never resolved those issues which it continually promises to address.

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

Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive

___
* We chose IDG so as not to be accused of choosing a Microsoft-hostile source.

HTC-Microsoft Was Not an Agreement, It Was Apparently an Extortion

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 1:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Extortion

Summary: More evidence that HTC merely settled (probably after threats) rather than be wooed for a patent deal as Microsoft would like to paint it

SETTLEMENT or mere agreement? That is the big question. In a prior post we showed the word "settle" or "settlement" coming up, which usually indicates legal action or a precursor. Microsoft has begun going after Android with explicit threats that it put in the press in order to find more extortion opportunities [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] or engage in ‘pre-settlement’ agreements, which still count as extortion that violates some laws in particular countries which designed rules to prevent racketeering.

The following new article from Glyn Moody mentions the word “settle”, which considering the one-way flow of money indicates that an extortion almost certainly took place. [via]

Then, just to make things more interesting, poor old HTC was accused by Microsoft of infringing on its patents – except in this case, HTC decided to settle, so we don’t know exactly what those patents were. Here’s what Microsoft said:

Microsoft Corp. and HTC Corp. have signed a patent agreement that provides broad coverage under Microsoft’s patent portfolio for HTC’s mobile phones running the Android mobile platform. Under the terms of the agreement, Microsoft will receive royalties from HTC.

Notice that it specifies “mobile phones running the Android mobile platform”, which seems an indirect way of implying that HTC has paid for “problems” with Linux, on which Android is based. Thus, a little more FUD can be spread about Linux’s supposed infringement on Microsoft’s monopolies, without actually making any real claim that needs supporting by facts.

Gavin Clarke, who is a Microsoft booster, spoke to Nokia about the subject and received the following response:

Ari Jaaksi, Nokia’s vice president of MeeGo devices, told The Reg Tuesday that Intel and Nokia could “guarantee and promise” that MeeGo is safe from any and all patent claims because of the size and breadth of the companies’ patent portfolios, and also because of the size of Intel and Nokia themselves. MeeGo is based on the Linux kernel and uses common components such as X-Windows and Gstreamer.

“Both Nokia and Intel have a huge patent portfolio and we have put our investment into the standard Linux-based platform. That’s a guarantee and promise that it’s safe for anyone to take this platform because we will look after your investment with our patent platform,” Jaaksi said.

“With the big patent portfolios already backing up MeeGo as an operating system, that should make some of the concerns go away… we’ll defend that with our patent portfolio.”

Oiaohm calls it M.A.D. (mutually assured destruction) and argues that this is a “True nightmare for Microsoft’s idea of making profit from patents on Linux. It had to happen at some point — Linux protected by a M.A.D shield. Now, if Nokia and Intel can get others to join the M.A.D. shield it will just become that scary that no company that is sane will go anywhere near attacking it. Even a troll would have to watch it. They could really simply find themselves that their valid patents are worth less than the patents that are in the M.A.D.”

Speaking of patent trolls, more coverage regarding Acacia continues to pour in. We also covered the ending of this case in:

Apple is bugged by Elan [1, 2, 3], which seemingly wants to ban Apple products using patents (it went for the ITC to exploit a loophole and apply pressure for quicker settlement, if any).

The US trade watchdog confirmed this week that it would investigate patent infringement allegations made by Elan Microelectronics against Apple last month.

The most effective solution would be to eliminate software patents. They do not promote science and development in any provable way.

Windows Summit Folded

Posted in Microsoft, Vista 7, Windows at 1:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Giant fun slide

Summary: Another event of Microsoft is shelved online while the event in Redmond is cancelled

Times are tough for Windows as revenue declines and interest in the platform generally stagnates (especially when it comes to devices).

Many products from Microsoft are dying these days, the latest examples being Courier (more coverage in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]) and Slate* (both are devices). Accordingly, picnics and other events get canceled (all sorts of other Microsoft events were called off last year).

Microsoft now cancels a Windows Summit, but in order to save face it feeds people with the illusion that online events are better than physical events. Here is Microsoft’s spin (originating from Brandon LeBlanc, the same person who repeatedly lied about GNU/Linux market share and spoon-fed the press with those lies). It is becoming spin from The Register and spin from Ina Fried. Being Microsoft boosters, they are refusing to go beyond the spin and become more responsible or perhaps harsh investigators, instead just playing along with lies.
___
* According to the following news report, Slate lives on but without Windows (probably with Linux instead).

The site claims that HP could also be about to abandon Intel hardware. If both the OS and microprocessor go, the obvious conclusion is that HP is looking to use WebOS, a dedicated Smartphone platform it acquired as part of this week’s surprise deal to buy Palm.

Links 5/5/2010: Collabora Joins GNOME Foundation, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 Tested

Posted in News Roundup at 12:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Trusting GNU/Linux

    I do not think the troll gets GNU/Linux. FLOSS is about sharing and trust. Debian GNU/Linux has a well-defined social contract in addition to the GPL and other Free Software licences used in the distribution. If, after all that a person does not trust a CD marked “Official Debian GNU/Linux” (”Official images are built by a member of the Debian CD team and have undergone some testing to ensure they work. Once they have been released, the images never change – if they turn out to be broken, a new set with a different version number is released..“) one can check the md5sums of individual packages or whole images. If you want to go past that, you can examine all the sources and build your own installation CDs. That is a huge job… Give thanks that Debian GNU/Linux takes care of it.

  • Get inside Virtualisation

    There are many alternatives to VMware’s expensive and proprietary software. Join us as we investigate four of the most prolific tools kickstarting the revolution in open source virtualisation…

  • When Linux interoperable incompatibilities frustrate

    I know I should strip the whole thing down and start again, but my other half has the wildly popular Evince PDF reader installed on it, which we need for testing Adobe CS4 pre-flight rendering of InDesign files before they go to print on a project that we shoulder together. Our client is a Linux purist and wants to ensure people can use Evince as nobody uses Acrobat, right?

  • Desktop

    • Linux users may now tidy their desks

      Minimal Linux is a blog for people who like simplicity and freedom: “This site focuses on ways to streamline your Linux-powered life, making it lighter, faster, and easier. More of what you need, less of what you don’t.”

    • A Database Admin/Music Enthusiast’s Linux Workstation

      The $100.00 (USD) Coolest Linux Workspace Contest continues with this entry from Brian, a database administrator (DBA) in a mostly Windows world by day, but off hours a musician/Linux geek. He says that he is also doing some freelance IT work and development for his wife’s company, which gives him more of an opportunity to focus on Linux in a professional capacity.

  • Audiocasts

  • Ballnux

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • KDE vs. GNOME: DVD Tools and Desktop Design

      DVD tools are more important on Linux than on most operating systems. While Windows or OSX users rarely burn CDs or DVDs except for an occasional backup, for many Linux users, burning a Live CD to investigate a distribution is a common task.

      Similarly, although the users of other operating systems may extract audio or visuals from a CD, all the really large local content libraries I have seen tend to be on Linux. What is an occasional convenience to others are standard tools in the free and open source lifestyle.

      For this reason, DVD tools are well-represented in both KDE and GNOME. On both desktops, earlier tools like X-CD-Roast that are formidable in their options have been replaced with more user-friendly default tools: K3b for KDE, and Brasero for burning and Sound Juicer for audio ripping for GNOME.

      All these tools perform their basic tasks well enough for most users. However, what is striking is how clearly each of them demonstrates the design philosophies of the desktops with which they are associated.

    • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

      • i don’t need no stinking nepomuk .. right?

        Nepomuk is being used more and more to track, coordinate / orchestrate and index non-”files on my disk” data. Let’s take two examples: Akonadi and the Plasma Desktop.

        Akonadi is using it to provide search for email, contacts, events, etc. which is one step away from the “file indexing” idea. Instead of building its own search database (and all the overhead that implies), Akonadi is able to lean on Nepomuk for that and, as a bonus, be able to not only index but map the correlations between those sets of data which, as a human being, we’d expect to be there and have at our fingertips.

        The Plasma Desktop is going even further with Activities. We now have the ability to store, retrieve and mark as “active” which desktop activity you are working on. There is no file anywhere that maps to this. KWin will be gaining the ability to map windows to these activities, and any other application (KDE or not!) can also choose to map internal data and settings to activities and take appropriate action when the Activity context changes. The mechanism that ties this together? Nepomuk. Since we’re using Nepomuk, we get the ability to tie documents and other URL based locations together with Activities as well .. for free.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Collabora joins GNOME Foundatio Advisory Board

        Pauliea writes “UK-based open source software consultancy Collabora is joining the GNOME Foundation advisory board today. A long time supporter of GNOME and member of the GNOME community, Collabora contributes directly to GNOME projects like Empathy, PiTiVi, Totem and Epiphany.”

      • Totem Gains New Features For GNOME 3.0

        The first development milestone for GNOME 3.0 is expected to be reached tomorrow with the release of the unstable GNOME 2.31.1 package set. While Zeitgeist, the GNOME Shell, and Mutter are among the most talked about changes for the GNOME 3.0 desktop, many mature packages are receiving new features and work too. GNOME’s Movie Player, Totem, is one of these packages receiving some attention.

      • Other Highlights For GNOME 2.31.1

        As was mentioned this morning GNOME’s Totem Movie Player is preparing for GNOME 3.0 by picking up de-interlacing support and a-synchronous play-list loading, among other improvements. Other packages are also being checked-in this week for the first GNOME 3.0 development release known as GNOME 2.31.1. Besides the updates to Totem and the major work going on to the GNOME Shell / Mutter / Zeitgeist, there is some other interesting new features too.

  • Distributions

    • Horrors That Are Out There

      I fired up SystemRescueCD to a usable GUI – 1m 30s. Yep. It has a 512 MB cache so is Vista-Incapable. I have seen Celerons with 1MB cache do pretty well with it. hdparm shows 700+ MB/s from the buffers and 58 MB/s from the surface so this thing will be a rocket with GNU/Linux.

    • Testing out Funtoo

      The other day I decided to give a try at Funtoo (for those that do not know it yet, a variant of Gentoo). I am very impressed with the improvements that Daniel Robbins has done so far.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Test Driving Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6

        OFB’s Ed Hurst continues his quest for the perfect UNIX or Linux operating system by looking at a recently released beta of Red Hat’s upcoming Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6. Is it the Linux nirvana? Read on to find out.

        [...]

        For the non-profit computer ministry I’m running, I would say the new CentOS 6 is going to become one of our flagship distros based on what I’ve seen in RHEL 6 Beta. Give it a test drive!

      • The Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 Kernel: What Is It?

        Sitting at the heart of every Linux OS distribution is a Linux kernel. When it comes to the upcoming Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6 release, the issue of which kernel is being used is not a cut and dried answer, however.

        RHEL 6 is currently in its first beta release, with a feature freeze now in place. Currently, the mainline Linux kernel is nearing its 2.6.34 release, while the most recent stable release is the 2.6.33 release, which came out in February. But instead of either sticking with the 2.6.33 Linux kernel or holding out for 2.6.34, Red Hat is taking a different approach.

    • Debian Family

      • Using sidux with the newly updated KDE SC 4.4.3

        I have been following the KDE 4 release with interest for quite some time now. When KDE 4.0 was first released, it was quite clear that it was a development-only snapshot. When KDE 4.1 was released, it was somewhat improved, but until KDE 4.1.4, it was still really only a development snapshot at best.

        [...]

        As far as other applications, the OpenOffice suite is also significantly faster and has stronger compatibility than any release in recent memory with Microsoft Office, so it is a true, capable alternative to MS Office.

      • Countdown to Squeeze
      • Ubuntu

        • Solving an upgrade hitch en route to Ubuntu 10.04

          After waiting until after a weekend in the Isle of Man, I got to upgrading my main home PC to Ubuntu 10.04. Before the weekend away, I had been updating a 10.04 installation on an old spare PC and that worked fine so the prospects were good for a similar changeover on the main box. That may have been so but breaking a computer hardly is the perfect complement to a getaway.

        • Variants

          • The other Ubuntu Linux distributions

            I like the brand spanking new Ubuntu 10.04 a lot. But while I like its GNOME 2.30 interface, I also like other interfaces such as KDE. It would be nice if Ubuntu could also play MP3s, common video formats and Flash from the get-go. You could install all these and other extras from the Ubuntu repositories, but there’s also a wide-variety of Ubuntu spin-offs that come ready to give you the functionality you want right out of the box.

            [...]

            Kubuntu 10.04. Like the name suggests, the big difference between Ubuntu and Kubuntu is that the K-Ubuntu runs KDE 4.4.2 instead of GNOME 2.30 for its desktop. But Kubuntu isn’t just Ubuntu with KDE. Instead of KDE’s default Konqueror Web browser, Kubuntu defaults to using Firefox 3.6.3.

          • Linux Mint 9 “Isadora” RC released!

            New features at a glance:

            * New Software Manager
            o 30,000 packages
            o Review applications straight from the Software Manager
            o APT daemon
            o Visual improvements

          • A First Look at Linux Mint 9

            A couple of weeks ago, we talked a little about the upcoming artwork of Linux Mint 9 (codename Isadora) and the plans Clement Lefebvre had for this next major version of the Linux Mint operating system. However, today, we are proud to present a few screenshots and introduce you guys to the main features of Linux Mint 9 (Isadora). First of all, you should know that Linux Mint 9 RC is a development release and it shouldn’t be used on production machines. The final release may be available in a few weeks!

            [...]

            Linux Mint is and will always be an elegant, easy-to-use, up-to-date, 100% free and comfortable Linux operating system based on the very popular Ubuntu OS. It offers paid commercial support to companies and individuals. Also, free community support is available from the forums and the IRC channel.

          • EasyPeasy 1.6 for Netbooks is out ! Screenshots Tour

            EasyPeasy 1.6. is released, the new version comes with many new features…

  • Devices/Embedded

    • TomTom offers drivers the voice of Darth Vader

      TomTom users downloading the voice can also get their hands on free start up screen wallpaper and a Lord Vader map icon.

    • Phones

      • Nokia

        • GTK surprises on Maemo

          Sometimes the creation of the contact chooser used on the N900 can be slow so, using callgrind and kcachegrind, I tried to understand what is the source of the slowness. This lead me to find some unexpected, and apparently undocumented, differences between upstream GTK and the Maemo version.

          [...]

          he results seem quite good; now the contact list is fast, scrolling is smooth and the delayed loading of avatars should not be visible in normal cases.

      • Android

        • G-1 to Nexus One: an informal comparison

          My wife thinks it’s significant that the Nexis One is thinner and lighter than the G-1. I don’t, really, but then I have larger hands and larger pockets than she does. She’s probably right that this difference will matter more to the average mass-market consumer than it does to me.

          The biggest surprise to me about the Nexus One is that I’m missing the physical keyboard on the G-1 far less than I thought I would. I found the soft keyboard on the G-1 annoying and difficult to use, but something about the Nexus One version makes it significantly easier. This could be a consequence of the larger display size, or possibly the touch-recognition software has improved, or perhaps it’s both. The effectiveness of the Nexus One’s voice-to-text feature helps here.

          [..]

          Overall, however, the Nexus is indeed a clear improvement on the G-1. It points the way Android is going pretty unambiguously – towards head-to-head competition with the iPhone, rather than simply vacuuming up the market share of dumb phones and lesser competitors such as Symbian and Windows Mobile.

          In at least one respect – the voice-to-text capabilty – Android is already ahead of anything iPhone offers or is ever likely to be able to support. There’s a huge infrastructure of statistical pattern-matching engines in the Google-cloud behind it that Apple won’t be able to replicate easily, if at all.

        • Watch Out iPhone, Android Use Is on the Rise

          Watch out Apple iPhone, Google’s mobile operating system, Android continues to increase its popularity at a growth rate of 32 percent year over year, according to a recent report.

        • Motorola Droid Still Leading the Android Pack

          A new report by mobile ad company AdMob measures the amount of ad traffic sent from different smartphones in March — and the Droid’s blinking red eye is going to be very pleased with what it found.

        • Android Smartphones Gaining Ground on iPhones

          This is according to the latest research out of AdMob, a mobile advertising network in the process of being acquired by chief Android proponent Google. AdMob bases its stats on requests for access to the 18,000-plus Websites and applications in its network.

        • T-Mobile myTouch 3G Slide: What You Need to Know

          Late last night, T-Mobile officially announced their next Android-powered handset, the myTouch 3G Slide. Is this just the next release in a line of Android smart phones or does it offer something new? Let’s take a look at some of the features that help the myTouch 3G Slide stand out from T-Mobile’s other offerings.

        • Adobe AIR and Flash Running “Flawlessly” on Prototype Android Tablet [VIDEO]
        • Android 2.2 to get full Flash support

          Google gives the finger to Apple by building support for Flash video into Android 2.2 ‘Froyo’, due to debut next month.

          Flash is coming to Android smartphones, with support for the Web video format to be baked into the forthcoming Android OS 2.2 update.

    • Tablets

      • HP eyes webOS iPad rival

        In purchasing Palm, HP intends to build and sell not only a new collection of phones based on Palm’s critically-acclaimed webOS, but a line of webOS tablets as well.

  • UNIX/BSD

    • HP’s Linux OS Alternative Gets a Face Lift

      Sun’s UNIX ecosystem was thrown into turmoil following the company’s acquisition by Oracle. A big question mark remains over the future of Solaris and OpenSolaris server operating systems. In contrast, IBM and HP, the other two big enterprise UNIX players, have been plodding along steadily, hoping all the while to pick up disaffected Sun customers quicker than they lose their own to Linux implementations.

      Let’s focus on HP (NYSE: HPQ). Linux leaves the company in a rather tricky situation. That’s because HP is a big fan of the open source server software — it’s a phenomenon too big to ignore. But it also sells UNIX, so it has to be careful not to cannibalize its UNIX sales by promoting Linux too hard. In other words, HP’s UNIX and Linux staff must push their respective lines of business without unduly dissing their opposite numbers.

Free Software/Open Source

  • FOSS community, FOSS business, and the nature of allies

    Nothing I have pointed out is meant to detract from the genuine service that FOSS-oriented companies have done for the community. Besides the frequent addition of code, FOSS-oriented companies have made free software better known that it ever was before their involvement. Furthermore, Canonical in particular has dragged the community collectively screaming into discussions of usability that the community had previously ignored.

  • Apache

  • Events

    • Red Hat Open Your World forum
    • Announcing the Open Your World Forum

      The opensource.com team is excited to announce our first-ever live event, the Open Your World Forum. The forum, held via webinar on Thursday, May 27, 2010, will feature presentations by leading open source thinkers in the fields of business, education, law, government, healthcare, and music. The event is free and entirely online–so join us for the whole day or any part that interests you, from your desk, your sofa, or anywhere you like.

    • A Funny Thing Happened On the Way to the Linux Forum

      If you’re looking for a friendly community of geeks, tech weinees, and all-round great folks, stop on by for a visit. Tell ‘em Urmas sent you. Heh! I’m not getting involved.

  • Mozilla

    • The Mozilla 2010 T-shirt – Vote Now!
    • Firefox and the open web

      Firefox is the most popular and widely used free software application and boasts more than a billion downloads and more than 350 million users. The H discusses its history, present and future with Mitchell Baker, chair of the Mozilla Foundation.

  • Oracle

  • CMS

    • TurnKey Linux

      Ever wanted to instantly have Drupal, Moodle, OTRS, MySQL, WordPress, Zimbra, Bugzilla, phpBB or a slew of other open source software packages up an running in a hassle-free manner to try out or available for rapid deployment? TurnKey Linux gives you just that.

  • Education

    • Introducing Open Source to A Middle School

      Finally, on January 8th, we were ready to roll. The first class was a bootcamp-style introduction to Inkscape – we went through various essential basic Inkscape tasks one-by-one, such as panning the canvas and grouping objects, and then had the students immediately try them out through small exercises. Walter came in and talked about T-shirt printing technologies at the second class, and we also taught the students about vector paths and how to work with the pen tool. By the time we got to the 4th class, the students were coming up with band names and starting to develop logotypes for their bands. Class sessions #5-7 were primarily work periods for the students, with only the first 10 minutes of the class devoted to explaining a new technique. At the end of session #7, we had designs ready to go for Walter to produce, and we handed out the T-shirts at the final session, #8. After the excitement of the new shirts died down a bit, we took the rest of the last class period as a fun exploratory time: we introduced the students to OpenClipArt.org and we also showed them how to convert photos taken with their webcams into ‘cartoon’ versions via the Inkscape trace bitmap tool (a technique that proved to be very popular!)

  • Open Access/Content

    • Governor Schwarzenegger Announces Results of Free Digital Textbook Initiative Phase Two Announces 17 New Standards-Aligned Free Digital Textbooks Available for California’s Classrooms

      Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger today announced the results of the second phase of his first-in-the-nation free Digital Textbook Initiative to provide California’s students and teachers with free, high-quality open educational resources. Seventeen free digital textbooks for high school history, science and higher-level math were reviewed against California’s rigorous academic content standards and are now available for use in California’s classrooms.

    • The Future of Open Data Looks Like…Github?

      I’m sure there are others. Still, the future to me in this area seems clear: we’re going to see transformation of datasets incorporated into the marketplaces. As the demand for public data increases, the market will demand higher quality, easier to work with data. With that demand will come supply, one way or another. There’s little sense in having each individual consumer of the data replicate the same steps to make it usable. The question will be which one of the marketplaces learns from Github and its brethren first.

  • Government

    • Australian Federal Government Commits to Open Access

      Big news from the Australian Federal Government on the issue of access to public sector information (PSI).

      CCau followers will remember the Government 2.0 Taskforce report released in December last year, which gave Creative Commons a very big tick as the licensing model of choice for Australian PSI. The Federal Government’s official response to the report was released yesterday and is generally positive, with the Federal Government agreeing (at least substantially) to 12 of the 13 recommendations to come out of the report.

    • Government Response to the Report of the Government 2.0 Taskforce

      Government 2.0 or the use of the new collaborative tools and approaches of Web 2.0 offers an unprecedented opportunity to achieve more open, accountable, responsive and efficient government.

    • Video: The DoD makes it official: open source IS commercial software.

      Towards the end of 2009, the office of the DoD CIO issued a memo clarifying their position on open source software. There were some misconceptions, misunderstandings, and just plain FUD surrounding their stance previously, and they wanted to make it clear that they considered open source just as viable for development as any other type of software.

Leftovers

  • Storage Technology for the Home User

    For anyone looking to get a handle on all of their personal data, there are several products on the market right now aimed at the average home-or-desktop user. This wide range of new products available offer excellent storage density, management and performance — and Linux compatibility. While a good friend always tells me, “technology is meant to be owned” sometimes the bank account doesn’t always support that philosophy. So the products discussed in this article are for a range of prices from $20 to thousands of dollars. But the focus is on products and technologies that can be used in desktops to really boost performance or ease storage management.

  • Execs to serve jail time for LCD price-fixing

    The former president of Chi Mei Optoelectronics has agreed to pay a fine and go to jail for his role in a scheme to fix prices for TFT-LCDs (thin-film transistor-liquid crystal displays), the U.S. Department of Justice said Friday.

  • Google’s Taxpaying Habits Scrutinized In Australia

    Google’s practice of channeling its revenues through Ireland is getting the company into trouble yet again. This time, onlookers in Australia have taken note, and although no government officials have become involved, people are definitely unhappy that Google may be shirking its tax obligations.

  • Oregon Goes Google (Apps)

    Google scored a big win today, and by all accounts, the state of Oregon made out well, too. This is because the Oregon school system will begin using Google Apps for Education, saving it a boatload of cash while allowing Google to increase its market share.

  • Land grabs threaten Anuak

    Ethiopia is one of the main targets in the current global farmland grab. The government has stated publicly that it wants to sell off three million hectares of farmland in the country to foreign investors, and around one million hectares have already been signed away. Much of the land that these investors have acquired is in the province of Gambella, a fertile area that is home to the Anuak nation. The Anuak are indigenous people who have always lived in Gambella and who practise farming, pastoralism, hunting and gathering. Nyikaw Ochalla, an Anuak living in exile in the United Kingdom, is trying to understand what this new wave of land deals will mean for the Anuak and other local communities in Ethiopia.

  • Science

    • A gallery of stunning Hubble images from new book

      These images are featured in the stunning new book Hubble: A Journey Through Space and Time by Edward J. Weiler, published by Abrams in collaboration with NASA. All images: Courtesy NASA.

    • Earth from Mars
    • STEPHEN HAWKING: How to build a time machine

      Time travel was once considered scientific heresy. I used to avoid talking about it for fear of being labelled a crank. But these days I’m not so cautious. In fact, I’m more like the people who built Stonehenge. I’m obsessed by time. If I had a time machine I’d visit Marilyn Monroe in her prime or drop in on Galileo as he turned his telescope to the heavens. Perhaps I’d even travel to the end of the universe to find out how our whole cosmic story ends.

      To see how this might be possible, we need to look at time as physicists do – at the fourth dimension. It’s not as hard as it sounds. Every attentive schoolchild knows that all physical objects, even me in my chair, exist in three dimensions. Everything has a width and a height and a length.

      But there is another kind of length, a length in time. While a human may survive for 80 years, the stones at Stonehenge, for instance, have stood around for thousands of years. And the solar system will last for billions of years. Everything has a length in time as well as space. Travelling in time means travelling through this fourth dimension.

    • Color Survey Results
  • Security/Aggression

  • Environment

    • Chemicals Meant To Break Up BP Oil Spill Present New Environmental Concerns

      The chemicals BP is now relying on to break up the steady flow of leaking oil from deep below the Gulf of Mexico could create a new set of environmental problems.

      Even if the materials, called dispersants, are effective, BP has already bought up more than a third of the world’s supply. If the leak from 5,000 feet beneath the surface continues for weeks, or months, that stockpile could run out.

    • The Last Four Minutes of the Deepwater Horizon
    • The Gulf oil spill blame game

      A “setback” for offshore-oil drilling advocates, a profound opportunity to say “we told you so” for environmentalists, the Deepwater Horizons oil spill is above all a big huge mess. If you are searching for the perfect metaphor to describe humanity’s 21st century plight — an energy-hungry and energy-dependent civilization occupying a resource-constrained planet — then you need look no further than at a satellite photo of the giant spreading oil slick in the Gulf of Mexico. That massive hydrocarbon stain is our collective scarlet letter, the price we pay for a lifestyle of extraordinary affluence and comfort — at least as compared to most of the humans who have ever lived.

    • Industry Leaders Seem to be Showing More Openness to Energy Descent Issues

      There were a few of us academics as well. At this retreat, I introduced ideas relating to peak net energy, and the possibility of major changes in the years ahead. I found industry leaders much more open than I had expected to listening to and understanding our energy predicament, and talking about what may be ahead. In this post, I would like to tell you about my experience.

    • Wind’s latest problem: it . . . makes power too cheap

      Implicit in the article, and the headline (which focuses on lower revenues for RWE) is the worry that wind power will bring down the stock market value of the big utilities – which is what the readers of Bloomberg et al. care about.

    • Your tuna is too cheap

      We need to support the Maldivian pole-and-line fishery. We need to develop similar operations elsewhere too. Many of the Pacific Island Countries are in prime position to limit foreign fishing operations and develop locally owned and operated sustainable pole and line fisheries instead. And we need to clean up purse-seining, and support those who are leading the charge on that, too. Illegal fishing needs to be totally stamped out, and bycatch needs to be eliminated. With the UK’s evident appetite for guilt-free fish, it’s clear that these are things we care about.

    • EU: Stop Spain’s overfishing!

      We are destroying our oceans: around 75-80 percent of the world’s fish stocks are already at dangerously low levels. And without urgent action, we may experience a future without fish.

    • Paper reveals EU plan to boost GM crop cultivation

      Europe faces a major overhaul in the way it deals with genetically modified (GM) crops, after the European Commission sparked controversy with new plans to circumvent its cumbersome legislative review process.

  • Finance

    • Buffett on Madoff, Greece and other ‘defective systems’

      Commentary: What other ‘business’ practices does the Oracle want to defend?

    • From Buffett, Thought-Out Support for Goldman

      Why is Warren Buffett sticking his neck out so far in defense of Goldman Sachs?

    • Lobbyists fret over legislation to reshape financial system

      As the Senate dives into the details of far-reaching legislation to overhaul financial regulations this week, lobbyists who represent some of the nation’s biggest banks are feeling on edge.

    • Fake Debate: The Senate Will Not Vote On Big Banks

      The financial reform package now on the Senate floor puts surprisingly little constraint on the activities of our largest banks going forward – preferring instead to defer to regulators to tweak the rules down the road (despite the fact that this approach has gone badly over the past 20-30 years).

    • Ernst Fehr: How I found what’s wrong with economics

      In that paper, he and his co-authors showed that testosterone, despite its reputation as a promoter of aggressive behaviour, actually made people more cooperative when playing economic games. They used female volunteers since previous studies have indicated that women are more likely than men to show behavioural changes if given very low doses of the hormone. “In the end we had six referees. Some had legitimate points, but one was really irrational and emotional,” Fehr says. “The referee suggested that maybe we had done a more general study and then decided only to report the effects in women, basically accusing us of being dishonest.”

    • Goldman Sachs now hit with 6 shareholder suits

      Goldman Sachs said Monday that six private lawsuits alleging “breach of fiduciary duty, corporate waste, abuse of control, mismanagement and unjust enrichment” have been filed against the bank since the government charged it last month with committing fraud.

    • What a Criminal Inquiry Portends for Goldman

      The disclosure of the Justice Department’s inquiry into Goldman Sachs substantially alters the calculus for how the firm and its employees should approach the civil fraud charges filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission.

      Even though a criminal investigation is only in its earliest stages at this point, the mere revelation that the United States attorney’s office in Manhattan is involved shows the powerful impact such information has on the firm, as Goldman’s shares dropped almost 10 percent in response to the news.

    • Goldman Sachs fined, censured over ‘naked’ short sales

      Regulators have fined Goldman Sachs $450,000 and censured the firm’s market-making division for violating rules governing short sales in the wake of Lehman Brothers’ collapse in 2008.

    • Goldman Sachs Pays $450,000 to Settle NYSE Finding (Update1)

      The company clears an average of 3 million trades a day, said Canaday, who added that an automated system began in May 2009.

      NYSE said that from around Dec. 9, 2008, to Jan. 22, 2009, the Goldman Sachs unit failed about 68 times to close out positions after short sales had failed to settle. Goldman Sachs also didn’t notify customers that short sales in particular stocks had failed to settle on time, the exchange said.

    • Goldman Sachs Pays European Bankers Average of $670,000

      Goldman Sachs International, the European unit of Goldman Sachs Group Inc., paid its 5,500 employees average compensation of about $670,000 last year.

    • Goldman Sachs makes the case for financial reform

      They’re greedy. They’re unethical. They’re clever in a borderline nefarious way.

    • Full Disclosure And The Goldman Sachs Investigation

      Gretchen Morgenson, who covers the world financial markets for The New York Times, discusses the investigations into Goldman Sachs by the Securities and Exchange Commission, the Justice Department and a Senate subcommittee — and reflects on the role Goldman Sachs played in the financial crisis.

    • Humorous poke at Goldman Sachs
    • NYT’s Goldman Scoopster, Louise Story, Joins Bloomberg TV As Contributing Editor

      Louise Story, one of the two New York Times reporters who broke the news on April 16 about the S.E.C. suing Goldman Sachs for fraud, has joined Bloomberg TV as a contributing editor.

    • The Would-Be Governor From Goldman Sachs

      In 2002-04, Meg Whitman was the poster child for a fraudulent practice known as “spinning.” She received preferential allocations of scarce IPO shares in technology and other hot stock issuances, very likely to shoot up in price after the offering, assuring that profit making for stock recipients would be identical to shooting fish in a barrel. New York investment bankers, particularly those at Goldman Sachs, hopeful of receiving eBay’s future investment banking business, controlled those hot issues and made the allocations to Whitman. Ms. Whitman has denied any knowledge of the wrongdoing although Goldman bankers funneled shares to her accounts in over 100 instances. After being sued, Ms. Whitman disgorged several million dollars, tacitly admitting that any opportunity in being awarded favorable treatment by investment banks belonged to the corporation (eBay), not to the CEO.

    • SEC’s fraud case against Goldman generates shareholder suits

      Other suits pile the new problems with the SEC on top of previous complaints against the company. A union pension fund filed an amended complaint to an earlier lawsuit complaining about the structure and size of Goldman’s executive bonuses, alleging now that those bonuses led to unethical behavior at the company.

    • A Call to Separate Top Goldman Jobs
    • The Criminalization of Wall Street: Will Any Exec at Goldman Sachs Go to Jail?

      Will Goldman survive the assault? Will the threat of criminal charges being pursued against the world’s leading investment bank spill over onto others on Wall Street? Is the criminalization of the crisis underway, or is all this just a maneuver?

    • Cox Says Blankfein’s Defense of Goldman `Not Credible’: Video
  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Tobacco firms take aim at Bangladeshi, Asian women

      angladeshi chest doctor Kazi Saifuddin Bennoor has seen many misleading cigarette advertisements, but the one that suggested smoking could make childbirth easier plumbed new depths.

      Advertisements telling smokers they are smarter, more energetic and better lovers than their non-smoking counterparts are a familiar sight across Bangladesh — something unimaginable in most other countries.

    • 50th Anniversary of The Pill: Triumph and Controversy

      As the pill turns 50 this May, it is worth remembering the positive impact this tiny pill has had on women’s advancement out of the domestic sphere. It is also worth noting the history of campaigns that attempted to block women’s access to it, and the continuing efforts to block women’s access to contraceptives.

      In Wisconsin, a prosecutor in the Juneau County District Attorney’s office is urging schools not to follow a new state law that requires school sex education programs to tell students about the proper use of contraceptives. He warned that teachers face “possible criminal liability” for teaching youths how to use contraceptives. Only about half of Missouri hospitals have a written policy requiring rape victims to be counseled about emergency contraception — the so-called “morning-after pill.”

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Panelists: Democracy Would Suffer If Google Left China

      Analyzing the quarrel between Google and China raises questions of how the Web helps an oppressed country develop democracy, according to a Massachusetts Institute of Technology panel discussion.

    • Google: “Internet censorship getting worse, more sophisticated”

      Last month, during the main annual session of the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, UN Watch worked with a global coalition of 25 human rights groups to organize a conference focused on the countries that rank as the world’s worst violators. Our Geneva Summit for Human Rights featured leading dissidents, attracted hundreds of activists, and was covered in the Wall Street Journal, Le Monde and La Stampa. Internet freedom for human rights defenders was a key theme. Below is an edited transcript of the most news-making speech.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Microsoft’s Position on Net Neutrality ‘Evolves’

      According to EnterpriseNetworkingPlanet.com, Microsoft, which has appeared to stay out of the net neutrality fray until now, took advantage of every last second to formulate its response, filing it just before the comment period ended. And apparently, the company has changed its tune at least a little since the early days. Even though Microsoft stands to be significantly affected however the FCC acts, the company did not recommend either extreme. Instead, Microsoft recommended a third approach – a middle ground, if you will.

      From the filing:

      [B]roadband is a powerful engine for innovation and investment in America in part because the Internet is an open platform…At the same time, the adoption of unnecessary or insufficiently tailored regulations, such as a prohibition on all types of discrimination, could have the unintended consequence of limiting innovation and investment going forward.

    • Take Action: Tuesday May 4th, is the Day Against DRM

      Today is about taking time out of your usual routine to speak out in favor of a DRM-free society. We do not have to accept a future where our interactions with computers and published works are monitored and controlled by corporations or governments.

    • About the Day Against DRM
    • iQuenching your iThirst
  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • To be the best, learn from the rest

      YOUR plane crashes and you find yourself stranded in the middle of a vast jungle. How would you work out which fruits are safe to eat and where to find clean water? You could muddle along on your own for a while, but you would probably end up sick and very hungry. Far better to find some friendly locals and learn how they do things.

    • Copyrights

      • Murdoch newswire sues over ‘hot news’

        News agency Dow Jones Newswires is suing an online news distributor based on US law’s controversial ‘hot news’ doctrine. The court-created right came into being in 1918 and has recently been revived in internet cases.

      • Fox News, Rupert Murdoch… All Pirates

        Fox News, a prominent media outlet owned by copyright evangelist Rupert Murdoch, is blatantly infringing on the rights of an individual photographer. The irony, or hypocrisy, is that Murdoch himself is going after Google, the BBC and many other companies that he believes are infringing on the rights of his news empire.

      • RapidShare Not Liable For Pirating Users, Court Rules

        RapidShare is not liable for acts of copyright infringement committed by its users, a German court ruled yesterday. The Dusseldorf Court of Appeals overturned the earlier decision of a local district court in a case brought by the movie outfit Capelight Pictures.

      • The Rise of Self-Publishing

        In analog times, one sign that it was time to retreat was if a big talker, having declared himself an author, produced his “book” and something about the book just wasn’t . . . booky. Maybe the pages carried a whiff of the Xerox or mimeograph machine. Or maybe the volume — about Atlantis or Easter Island — looked too good, with engraved letters, staid cover, no dust jacket. After a casual examination of the spine or the title page, realization would dawn: self-published.

      • Exclusive: The Big Debate – Jeremy Silver on ‘That Piracy Thing….’

        Considering that he has a criminal conviction hanging over his head, he didn’t seem so bad, the Pirate, even though we all condemn what he was part of. He didn’t seem like a malicious human being out to subvert the very moral framework of our lives. He seems like a nice, well-educated middle class tecchy, with some impish delight and without much sympathy for an industry so fragile that he could deflate its balloon with his tiny needle.

      • Pirate Bay Operator Dimisses Tale of New Acquisition

        A new buyer for the domain name thepiratebay.org has come forward, even as the legality of a previous attempt to buy the name is still in dispute.

      • Songwriters: piracy “dwarfs bank robbery,” FBI must act

        The Songwriters Guild of America has a message for the government: start prosecuting file-sharers, both criminally and civilly, because file-sharing is much worse than bank robbery.

      • File-sharers are content industry’s “largest customers”

        Drawing on a major study of Dutch file-sharers, Prof. Nico van Eijk of the University of Amsterdam concludes, “These figures show that there is no sharp divide between file sharers and others in their buying behaviour. On the contrary, when it comes to attending concerts, and expenses on DVDs and games, file sharers are the industry’s largest customers… There does not appear to be a clear relationship between the decline in sales and file sharing.”

      • Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore: The iPadLock Minister?

        Since his appointment as Canadian Heritage minister in 2008, James Moore has carefully crafted an image as “Canada’s iPod Minister.” Young, bilingual, and tech-savvy, Moore has expressed regular support for the benefits of the Internet and is always ready with a quick “tweet” for his many followers. Yet as my op-ed in the Hill Times notes (HT version (sub required), homepage version), according to the scuttlebutt throughout the copyright community, Moore may be less iPod and more iPadlock. As the government readies its much-anticipated copyright package, Moore is said to be pressing for a virtual repeat of Bill C-61, the most anti-consumer copyright proposal in Canadian history.

      • Viacom v YouTube is a microcosm of the entertainment industry

        As Viacom’s lawsuit against YouTube inches through the US judicial system, YouTube’s chief counsel, Zahavah Levine, posted a bombshell to the company’s weblog: writing after the release of previously sealed documents, he said that even as Viacom was suing YouTube for allowing infringing copies of its content to be posted by YouTube users, Viacom was also using at least 18 marketing agencies to secretly upload its videos to YouTube. It even had the agencies “rough up” the clips before uploading, wrote Levine, so that they’d appear to be illegitimate, smuggled copies, imbued with forbidden sexiness. He claimed that in a moment of Pythonesque petard-hoisting, Viacom even sent copyright complaints to YouTube over some of these videos, which it subsequently followed up with sheepish retractions when it became clear that the infringer in question was another arm of Viacom.

      • Ahoy there!

        In this sense the pertinent parallel is not with music or films but with newspapers and magazines. These days print piracy is a trivial issue, since most general news articles are given away free. If newspapers and magazines begin charging people to read their output, the pirates are likely to turn up, and quickly. So it may be with television.

      • Copyright in money?

        An interesting case of art ownership and moral rights is taking place in Costa Rica at the moment. The new 2,000 colones bill will enter into circulation soon. However, there has been a dispute because the author of the portrait of educator Mauro Fernández (pictured) has claimed that he was never asked for permission to use his painting in the bills.

      • The rewards of non-commercial production: Distinctions and status in the anime music video scene by Mizuko Ito

        Anime music videos (AMVs) are remix videos made by overseas fans of Japanese animation. This paper describes the organization of the AMV scene in order to illuminate some of the key characteristics of a robust networked subculture centered on the production of transformative works. Fan production that appropriates commercial culture occupies a unique niche within our creative cultural landscape. Unlike professional production and many other forms of amateur media production, transformative fan production is non–commercial, and centered on appropriating, commenting on, and celebrating commercial popular culture.

      • Inside The Bulgarian BitTorrent Crackdown

        Last month we reported on the media announcement by Bulgarian police that they would shut down the country’s two largest BitTorrent trackers, Zamunda.net and ArenaBG. As with any story, there always two sides. TorrentFreak caught up with someone with inside knowledge of the trackers and the scene in general, for their take on the situation.

      • ACTA

        • Indian Official: ACTA Out Of Sync With TRIPS and Public Health

          All the “noble announcements” made by EU and US officials about respect for the Doha Declaration on intellectual property trade and public health when negotiating the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) does not match the ACTA text, warned Ashutosh Jindal, adviser at the Embassy of India to the EU at a hearing organised by the Green Party Group in Brussels yesterday. The much-debated agreement that has only recently been made public would be very hard on countries like India that are trying to balance competing public policy issues, IPR protection and public health. Jindal pointed to provisions like ex-officio actions by border personnel on all types of IP rights infringements, including not only trademark infringement. The bar for searches and seizures is proposed to be lowered to a mere suspect of counterfeiting. ACTA seems to be an attempt to force developing countries to much harsher IPR protection measures, he said.

        • Help sign the Written Declaration 12/2010 about ACTA

          The Written declaration 12/2010 was initiated by the Members of European Parliament Françoise Castex (S&D, FR), Alexander Alvaro (ALDE, DE), Stavros Lambrinidis (S&D, GR) and Zuzana Roithová (EPP, CZ). It expresses concern about ACTA by declaring that the negotiated agreement must respect freedom of expression, privacy and Net neutrality (by protecting Internet actors against excessive legal liability). It calls on the Commission to publish all the texts under negotiation.

        • ‘What is the point of ACTA?’ asks French collecting society

          The French audio-visual collecting society, SACD, says the dispute over ACTA transparency is “ a dialogue of the deaf”. The SACD, which lobbied heavily for the copyright enforcement provisions in the Telecoms Package, now seems to be suggesting that there is no point to ACTA (Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement). We should ask why they might say this?

Clip of the Day

Video: The DoD makes it official: open source IS commercial software.


Apple and Microsoft a Threat to Culture (Data), Not Just Software (Tools)

Posted in Apple, Google, ISO, Microsoft, Patents, Ubuntu at 4:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

MPEG crisis

Summary: Microsoft’s and Apple’s cultural threat with MPEG-LA; Canonical listed as H.264 licensee; Google perceived as potential game changer with YouTube

OGG THEORA has been a hot topic recently because it’s under attack from Apple and from Microsoft. Previous and very recent posts about that subject include:

The Microsoft Bott continues his war on Theora this week, so Chips B. Malroy responds by calling him “major Microsoft shill” (which is actually true because his career is dependent on Microsoft). Malroy added that “audio and video codecs and the patents on them, are in some ways, an attack on the right of free speech” and later he argued that: “Most of us do disdain software patents. They only help the monopolies. They do not promote science or innovation. But there is a worse form of software patents, its software patents on codecs. This should never have been allowed in any reasonable world. Software patents on multimedia codecs are basically a patent on sight and sound, two inalienable senses of the human experience.

“Beyond that the monopolies (Microsoft and Apple) want to use software patents as a way to block free operating systems, to control the web, and to profit by taxing those who have to use these multimedia video and sound software patents.

“Multimedia software patents are completely against the idea of standards, or even standards that can be freely used on the web. We must try to educate those in power to reject software patents on video and audio codecs and to get free standards on these codecs for a free web. Not a web that will be controlled and taxed further by unnecessary Microsoft and Apple lockin.

“It is not enough to just have Theora or the new free Google codec.”
      –Chips B. Malroy
“As far as IBM and Google with their support of software patents. While we would be better off without the patents, in the meantime, Google has to play the patent game in some countries, as that is the law of the land in the USA. To be able to sue those who come against you, is a weapon that we should not say to Google; “do not sue MS or Apple.”

“It is not enough to just have Theora or the new free Google codec. All of these video and audio software codecs should be free if used on the web, as the web should be free. Free standards for a free web, should be the call. Invalidate the software patents on these video and audio codecs, and make them public domain.”

This point of view is further supported here:

Why Our Civilization’s Video Art and Culture is Threatened by the MPEG-LA

We’ve all heard how the h.264 is rolled over on patents and royalties. Even with these facts, I kept supporting the best-performing “delivery” codec in the market, which is h.264. “Let the best win”, I kept thinking. But it wasn’t until very recently when I was made aware that the problem is way deeper. No, my friends. It’s not just a matter of just “picking Theora” to export a video to Youtube and be clear of any litigation. MPEG-LA’s trick runs way deeper! The [street-smart] people at MPEG-LA have made sure that from the moment we use a camera or camcorder to shoot an mpeg2 (e.g. HDV cams) or h.264 video (e.g. digicams, HD dSLRs, AVCHD cams), we owe them royalties, even if the final video distributed was not encoded using their codecs! Let me show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

Microsoft is of course choosing to lobby for MPEG-LA, of which it is a participant. Microsoft is going to use Internet Explorer* to promote H.264 and Canonical’s old codec affairs won’t help, either:

Canonical licenses H.264 – Theora out for the count?

Canonical are currently the only Linux company to license H.264/AVC, the patented non-free technology used to compress video and favoured by companies such as Apple & Microsoft for HTML5 Video.

Neither RedHat, makers of Fedora, or Novell, makers of Suse, appear on the list of over 800 licensee’s.

What’s interesting is that the rival, if you will, to H.264 is the free and open codec Ogg Theroa which one would naturally assume would be the favoured choice for a Linux distribution’s parent to support.

Let us remember that MPEG-LA's CEO (Larry Horn) is a patent troll. TechDirt has just caught up with this news.

Joe Mullin has a great blog post, looking in detail at MobileMedia, a recently launched “company” that fits all the traditional characteristics of a “patent troll” or “non-practicing entity” (if you’d prefer). It doesn’t appear to do anything but hold patents, demand licensing fees and sue. So what’s so interesting about this one? Well, it’s a subsidiary of MPEG-LA, the company that manages some important digital video standards, and manages the patent pools related to them — and both companies have the same CEO.

[...]

What I find interesting, of course, is that many patent system folks have said that patent pools are the “answer” to issues like non-practicing entities filing crazy lawsuits. And yet, here we have an example of one of the major patent pooling administrators apparently deciding it’s more lucrative to get into the other side of the business instead…

In the meantime, while all this has been going on, it’s worth noting that Steve Jobs — one of the targets in this lawsuit — has apparently been telling people that MPEG-LA is getting ready to sue open video codecs, such as Theora, for patent infringement. Of course, such threats have been made before and never carried out — but if MPEG-LA now thinks that suing for patent infringement (rather than just alerting the patent holders to possible infringement) is the way to go these days, perhaps the lawsuits above were an opening salvo.

MPEG-LA is hardly a legitimate business if it bullies like this, but ISO, which is a farce that sells out to whoever has enough money to corrupt it, won’t do anything/much to stop this. As the president of the FFII put it yesterday, “ISO [is] pushing for a patent-free video codec, committee stuffing, yes you can do it [...] The analysis of patents is outside of the scope and competence of ISO and MPEG [...] MPEG believes that 20 years after its publication some technology will become royalty-free” (posted in Twitter).

One new writer at IDG puts it like this:

It’s Apple and Microsoft versus Google and Mozilla in a tag team match for the video codec in HTML5

[...]

As I wrote about earlier, there has been a horse race going on about which video codecs will be supported by HTML5. With the stakes so high, the race is starting to get a bit rougher. Now it is turning into a tag team match, with Apple and Microsoft on one side and Google and Mozilla on the other.

This past weekend both Apple (of the open standards according to Steve Jobs) and Microsoft (never afraid to assert an alleged patent claim) have supposedly put down the hammer that Ogg Theora (supported by Mozilla) and other open source video codecs may violate patents.

[...]

This sets up an interesting tag team match. On one side, the defenders of “open standards that we like” Apple and Microsoft. In the other corner, the open source champions Google and Mozilla. Hey maybe Adobe can be the guest referee? The winner of this match will determine what technology will underlie the video you watch on the web or your TV in the future.

Dana Blankenhorn has more to say about Apple:

Will Apple put its lawyers behind the open codec patent attack?

[..]

All this makes the pending decision in Bilski vs. Kappos, still unknown at this writing, so important. A decision that encourages Apple to proceed, especially against Google, may make for the biggest lawsuit of all time.

Apple has already sued Android through HTC.

Do not support Apple and Microsoft, though not just because they produce non-Free software and engage in anti-competitive activities (bad faith and conduct); they are also a threat to freedom in culture. This helps nobody but stakeholders like Disney, which Apple is tied to.
_____
* Not that Internet Explorer matters so much anymore. Even Microsoft-friendly meters like Net Applications (mostly from the US, secret data and secret methods, funded in part by Microsoft) say that Internet Explorer is losing browser share while about one in two Windows PCs is infected with no foreseeable solution, certainly not even snake oil marketing like this new example:

The word about Immunet’s free anti-virus solution is spreading fast. The agent installed on my computer tells me that there are currently 162,597 people in the Immunet Cloud, and that I’m protected from 12,637,576 threats. When I first installed it almost a month ago, the number of users was around 122,000.

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