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IRC Proceedings: June 6th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

As Xbox 360 Abandoned by Managers, Sony Gains, Microsoft Sued for Faulty Xbox 360 Hardware, and Bungie Gets Betrayal

Posted in Courtroom, Hardware, Microsoft at 4:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bye, Halo

Summary: How the Xbox business is doing after departures of its leadership, based on the past week’s news alone

Xbox reality is a bit of an eyesore and readers sent us several pointers, firstly to show that Sony is gaining at Microsoft’s expense, taking advantage of Microsoft disarray following the departure of managers. “Xbox360 is in trouble,” wrote Chips B. Malroy, “Bach head of that, was canned.”

Here are some accompanying new articles.

PS3 Increases Global Marketshare to 31 Percent

The PlayStation 3 has jumped from an 18 percent market since last year at the same time, to a 31 percent share. Microsoft better watch out.

“Xbox360 probably hurt MS more long term than even Vista did. Buying a product with that big a failure rate, knowing that at some point the warranty also runs out and you are stuck, has to make people mad as hell,” Chips B. Malroy added.

Another pointer he shared is this one:

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 motion-control upgrade, Project Natal, will ship this October for a surprisingly steep $150. That’s if you believe Edge, which claims a “trusted source” offered the tip that spawned the story that launched another speculative media pile-on.

So the leadership (which includes Allard [1, 2, 3]) left this project and the company, saying that Natal will somehow bring about a turnaround. “Whither Natal? Microsoft’s unique E3 challenge,” says this headline which also appeared in CNN:

Sony had the right idea at GDC

At an invite-only press event during this year’s Game Developers Conference, Sony gave a short presentation on the power of the PlayStation Move with a few gameplay videos and demonstrations, and then set the press free in a large, warehouse-like space next door in order to simply play with the hardware. There were no smoke and mirrors here; we just played games, chatted up Sony representatives, and held what seemed to be final or near-final hardware in our hands.

The next day even more games were shown in the Sony lounge, where drinks flowed like water and everyone was able to play as much as they wanted. It was a party-like atmosphere, which was perfect for the more lighthearted games on display. We were given a private demo of the newest SOCOM title, played with the PlayStation Move. Our time with the hardware left us with some things we liked and some things we didn’t, but it was clear that the technology was ready to go.

Sony is really challenging Microsoft here:

Rival Sony is releasing its PlayStation Move motion control system later this year, bundled with a game, for $100 USD.

Xbox 360 goes belly-up (dead) in South Africa, so Microsoft does “damage control”:

Microsoft has denied claims made by a South African distributor that “Xbox360 has had a rather rough time in South Africa”.

The problems persist. It’s all about extremely high failure rates, which are a serious issue that’s hardly discussed anymore, with exceptions:

Ex-Apple exec criticizes Ballmer over Xbox 360 high failure rate – Microsoft becoming irrelevant?

In a surprising move, a former Apple exec heavily criticized Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer over his conduct with Vista and the Xbox 360’s high failure rate issue. The former exec accused Ballmer of letting his “underlings” take the fall while he remains unapologetic.

Former Apple exec, Jean-Louis Gassée wrote a lengthy piece warning shareholders to worry about Ballmer. According to Gassée, Ballmer seems to be mismanaging Microsoft and shifting blame elsewhere.


The Microsoft booster Todd Bishop is attempting to spin another Xbox 360 lawsuit against Microsoft (there were many). It’s about faulty hardware again.

Lawsuits over Microsoft’s Xbox 360 hardware glitches are nothing new, and the company has acknowledged its past problems with a gigantic write-off and a warranty extension.

But the latest proposed class-action suit against the company stands out for the sheer run of misfortune alleged by the plaintiff, Michael McKinney of Hamilton County, Ohio. Even better, McKinney’s lawyer is one Eric Deters — better known around Northern Kentucky as “The Bulldog” — who comes complete with his own theme music.

“Time to stop buying xbox I think,” cubezzz writes, “sounds like a total lemon.”

In other Xbox 360 news, the lessons of FASA are not being learned by Bungie, which is forced “to accept ‘Combat Evolved’ name,” according to this new report.

Bungie has revealed that Microsoft marketeers forced it to put the infamous ‘Combat Evolved’ tagline on its original Halo – something the studio said it “hated”.

Well, it’s their own fault for sidling with Microsoft. Bungie previously complained about suppression of creativity under Microsoft.

As one last item, Apple’s censorship of sexual content is being mirrored by Microsoft and also by Sony.

Porn Distributor Shot Down by Sony, Now Turning to Microsoft


Even so, I somehow doubt Microsoft, after everything it has done to get the 360 a reputation of being family-friendly, is going to leap at the opportunity to get their system associated with porn — but you never know. If this bid fails, maybe we’ll be next hearing about Hirsch’s attempts to get porn on the Wii.

Xbox 360 has “a reputation of being family-friendly”? Seriously, that has got to be a joke. Many of the games are about death and gore. Nintendo’s Wii is probably the more family-friendly option among this generation’s consoles.

Gartner Group Urged Businesses to Move to Vista, Now It Does the Same With Vista 7

Posted in Asia, Marketing, Microsoft, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 3:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“David Smith commented that Gartner will not bash MS if MS chooses to slip Vista.”

Jamin Spilzer, Microsoft

Summary: Gartner continues its long tradition of Microsoft marketing and over in Asia we find more new evidence of shameless marketing that boggles the mind

ONE reason to never take Gartner seriously is its incestuous relationship with clients like Microsoft. As we showed last year, it was Gartner that participated in the push for businesses to move to Windows Vista, which even Microsoft admits to be a failure. Gartner analysts are salesmen in suits and they are groomed by major investors such as Larry Ellison and Bill Gates, not just their major clients. Their reports are paid for by those who order them.

“Gartner analysts are salesmen in suits and they are groomed by major investors such as Larry Ellison and Bill Gates, not just their major clients.”A few days ago we found Gartner urging a move from XP to Vista 7 (it said the same about Vista back in 2007). Given that large companies such as Intel are struggling to migrate to Vista 7, what is this whole assessment really based on?

Let it be emphasised that in the past week there has been no new article about “Vista” (with this particular word in the headline), compared to just 6 clusters about “Windows 7″ (mostly promotional, not news). Based on this quick survey in Google News, we can only reach the conclusion that the $300,000,000-$500,000,000 marketing campaign of Vista 7 is nearly over. Maybe it’s not entirely over, but people don’t hear so much about it anymore. Journalists are not being served ghost-written material to publish, along with 'free' computers sometimes. Several months ago we showed a Vista 7 coffee shop (maybe not just in Paris) serving as part of Microsoft’s marketing campaign, not to mention those 777 bloggers in Korea. Look what Microsoft is doing in Taiwan right now: [source]

Microsoft has launched a Windows 7-themed restaurant in Taipei to promote its new operating system, an official with the US firm said Monday, on the eve of Asia’s biggest IT trade show.

Microsoft used similar campaigns for Vista in India (involving coffee). It’s rather pathetic marketing.

Watch how “Goodwill Industries” (finely named) engages in Microsoft brainwash with Word 2007 while ODF and OpenOffice.org in the Malaysian government are being fought against not just with Steve Ballmer's lobbying of the prime minister but also a couple of hype ‘placements’ [1, 2]. It’s marketing masqueraded as news, based on the content.

Microsoft Accused of Cracking Down for Added Profit in the East

Posted in Asia, Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 2:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

You have the right to remain unregistered. Please proceed to the nearest Free software repository with your hands behind your mouse.

Summary: News from New Zealand suggests that Microsoft has turned more aggressive against businesses that illegally use Microsoft software

DESPITE benefiting from counterfeiting, Microsoft keeps portraying itself as a victim. Had Microsoft really wanted to impede illegal copying, it would achieve this easily. But Microsoft publicly admitted on several occasions that it wished to give Windows away to many people, in order to increase its profits later on. It’s a long-term investment. “They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade,” Bill Gates famously said. It’s the same mentality of drug companies whose patents he is promoting at the moment (as an investor).

Anyway, Microsoft now denies that it has increased crackdowns on businesses in New Zealand, despite the fact that Microsoft is doing this in China. Can anyone believe the systematic liar called Microsoft? Its word contradicts the rest.

Microsoft has denied speculation that it is taking a more aggressive stance auditing Kiwi businesses that it suspects of using more Microsoft software than they have licences for.

Legal counsel Waldo Kuipers declined to comment on rumours that one large listed company had agreed to pay Microsoft $900,000 following an audit a year ago.

Microsoft software such as Windows is neither libre nor gratis. It’s not only China where Microsoft has begun suing more businesses in attempt to “collect” (using Gates’ own word). The propaganda and deception which Microsoft generates through funding of ‘studies’ needs to be ignored, including news articles like this one.

Windows profits decline over the years, so businesses should expect Microsoft to become more aggressive. They should move to GNU/Linux before Microsoft comes knocking or suing (to “collect”).

ElectionMall Targets Politicians, Microsoft at Bilderberg 2010, and TechAmerica Lobbying

Posted in America, Microsoft at 1:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bilderberg Oosterbeek

Summary: Microsoft and ElectionMall capture politics using a software platform; Microsoft’s Craig Mundie is again at the Bilderberg meeting; Examples of lobbying by proxy

Microsoft targets politicians these days [1, 2]. It cannot make products that are competitive, so instead it makes products that grease up decision makers. TownHall is just one example as another scheme for entrapping politicians is being introduced this month. Its partner is called ElectionMall and it receives coverage from 1105 Media, which is tainted by Microsoft influence yet pretends to be a government site (it’s a private entity).

Microsoft announced it is partnering with ElectionMall.com to introduce a cloud-based array of services intended for political and issue-advocacy campaigns.

This was also covered by CNN and there is a press release. Microsoft is using R&D Magazine to advertise itself, as usual. Here is Pamela Passman, the Microsoft Corporate Vice President of Global Corporate Affairs (lobbying), promoting the above scheme.

Meanwhile, it ought to be added that, according to one of our readers from Brazil, Craig Mundie is again attending Bilderberg for Microsoft. We mentioned this attendance of his in [1, 2, 3] and 2010 continues this tradition of Microsoft influence among those big names. Members of the Gates family sometimes attend as well.

Last but not least, here is a new piece of evidence of lobbying by proxy, which is how Microsoft and many other companies get away with reporting grossly underestimated spendings on lobbying:

TechAmerica spent $337,000 on lobbying in 1Q

TechAmerica, as the group calls itself, has nearly 1,500 technology company members including Microsoft Corp., Intel Corp., Apple Inc., Google Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co.

Lobbying in a democratic society is a sign of illness, it’s not a feature.

Microsoft Wants Canada’s Health Records, Telus Gives Them Away

Posted in America, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 1:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: More news from Québec; Telus and Microsoft threaten Canada’s sovereignty just shortly after Microsoft’s deal with a Canadian government was ruled illegal

Microsoft is a threat to national sovereignty. Fortunately, citizens of Québec boldly challenged Microsoft and won [1, 2]. It was a victory for software freedom and a partial translation of this article in French was posted by the operators of p2pnet.net.

“It’s a very good decision for us,” Le Devoir has Cyrille Béraud, president of Savoir-Faire Linux, a company that promotes free software which challenged the validity of the contract awarded to Microsoft by the Québec Pension Plan (QPP).

“But it is also a great victory for the Government of Quebec” which “now has a tool for liberation from the stranglehold of the multinationals on its information system”.

Justice Denis Jacques said the QPP had failed in its duty by awarding a contract for $722,848 to Microsoft distributor Compugen.

“The Court considers that a tender would have to compete various suppliers who could offer unique solutions to meet the needs of the board,” wrote the judge.

“It’s a decision that will set a precedent,” said Beraud, who’s been “battling for years against Microsoft’s monopoly in the equipment of public administration”.

Since we promised more complete coverage of this case, here are South African and Canadian perspectives, as well as a new report from AFP:

A Quebec court ruled a provincial agency was wrong to install Microsoft software on its computers without allowing others, such as Linux dealers, to bid on the lucrative contract, AFP learned Friday.

The province’s public pension fund administrator (Régie des rentes du Québec) spent 720,000 Canadian dollars (686,000 US) beginning in the fall of 2006 to install Microsoft software on its computers.

Quebec Superior Court Judge Denis Jacques ruled the province should have searched for alternatives as required by its own rules for expenditures over 25,000 dollars (24,000 US).

There are two more articles about it — ones which we haven’t referenced before:

Microsoft dealer Compugen of Richmond Hill, Ontario received the contract. Montreal-based Savoir Faire Linux deals in open-source software, and in March 2008, he’d filed a lawsuit. A bid to cancel the contract by Savoir Faire Linux was not approved as the software installation had been finished then. The Company had granted the costs of its litigation.

This is worth celebrating as a GNU/Linux triumph over Microsoft corruption. Rules were being broken, based on a court’s decision.

As we showed a couple of days ago, Microsoft continues its entrance into the Canadian Government. The decision above was not strong enough as a deterrence and Microsoft is now striving to control Canadian patients too. A few months ago, Microsoft hired a top FDA official for the role/purpose of lobbying to take over patient records in the United States and right now the US-based company is trying to control healthcare in Canada too. It covers the whole of Canada, probably Québec included. Coverage that we’ve found so far includes:

Canada’s third-largest wireless carrier, is creating an online medical database with Microsoft Corp. to expand its telecommunication services to the health-care industry.

The service is powered by Microsoft HealthVault and allows patients to manage personal and health information using a secure online platform. Applications include health records, tools for diabetes management and resources such as fitness and wellness solutions.

Here is what the New York Times had to say, emphasising that it’s about the databases (“Microsoft in Venture for Health Database in Canada,” says the headline). No matter the circumstances, giving to Microsoft databases of Canadian patients is a breach of privacy, especially given compliance policies with governments that request snoops (see this leaked manual).

According to a site with Microsoft influence, the Health and Human Services Department accepts the inexcusable, but that’s the United States, not Canada. Giving sensitive data to untrustworthy companies is a massive mistake, especially for countries overseas/outside the US.

Health and Human Services Department officials and executives from Google, Microsoft and other technology companies today encouraged the public to explore and develop applications for the department’s newly released health data in its Community Health Data Initiative.

Those who allow this to carry on do a great disservice to their citizens and lead to increased risk, even elevated costs. Private businesses can do as they wish, but when Microsoft interferes with government operations (including public schools), then it’s a different story altogether. That’s what makes it a sensitive issue that directly affects a lot of citizens.

Microsoft: “Find a Way for [CompuAdd] to Recoup What They Have Paid to DRI, Then License with MS so That Not a Single DRI Machine Ever Ships”

Posted in Antitrust, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 12:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: What happened to DRI and to CompuAdd after a deal had been signed between this pair (another look at Microsoft’s anti-competitive history)

TODAY’s Comes vs Microsoft exhibit is Exhibit PX01010 (1991) [PDF]. It deals with what Microsoft did to DRI and it starts with a message from Tom to Brad Chase, the bully Brad Silverberg [1, 2, 3] (whom the brother of the world's largest patent troll writes to), and several other employees. To quote a portion from the beginning:

We are going to work this as though the Product Marketing were Authors writing a story, Program Management will be editors pointing part of the story they think the author missed and development and test being the background researchers.

Further down we see a message which was also sent to Joachim Kempin, the bully in charge of OEMs [1, 2]:

- Put me on their mailing list

2. Explore these possibilities:
- Find a way for them to recoup what they have paid to DRI, then license with MS so that not a single DRI machine ever ships

It’s probably Microsoft’s #1 innovation — blocking competition (at CompuAdd in this case). Microsoft does similar things against GNU/Linux, so this is very relevant and worth filing below.

Read the rest of this entry »

Links 6/6/2010: “Ubuntu Advantage”, Firefox 4 Early Walkthrough

Posted in News Roundup at 8:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Linux evolves: TVs, smartphones, tablets

    Linux rules supercomputers. It’s vitally important to servers. And, Linux is making gains on the desktop. Where Linux is really going to shine in the next twelve months though is in devices: tablets, smartphones, and TVs.

    For example, more than a dozen Apple iPad-like tablets made their first appearance at the Computex computer show in Taipei, Taiwan. The vast majority of these devices run Android Linux or other embedded Linuxes such as the latest MeeGo embedded Linux.

  • Steve Jobs blunders on the Internet TV market
  • SGI ends Itanium era with UV supers

    The full Altix UV 1000 machine, which first lashes together 256 blades into a fat tree configuration and then links these clusters together in an 8×8 2D torus, for a total of 16,384 cores, will be available by the end of the calendar year, delivering 74.3 teraflops in a global shared memory system running Novell’s SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 11 and SGI’s ProPack extensions. Red Hat’s Enterprise Linux is now supported on the Altix boxes, too.

  • Open source growth changes the definition of community

    What’s remarkable about this analysis is that Google is forced by circumstance to live in all three worlds simultaneously. So the early-stage work on the Chrome OS runs into a media that is also looking at the mid-market efforts of Android and the mass market monetization of the base service and getting muddled.

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • Canonical/Ubuntu

      • The Day of the Linux Desktop: Q&A With Canonical Founder Mark Shuttleworth

        LIN: What will take Ubuntu to the next level?

        Shuttleworth: In terms of looking forward and breaking into new areas of production, we are seeing sort of a real shift in the way people think about at Ubuntu in two different environments.

        On the consumer front, we’re seeing a shift in the way people think about alternative platforms to Windows amongst the PC companies. It used to be a kiss of death to present yourself as a genuine alternative to Windows. But the success of the Web and the success of Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) have really made the PC companies think that it is possible to offer something that is perceived to be valuable even if it is not Windows.

        So we’re seeing a rapid ramp-up of the number of PCs that ship around the world with Ubuntu, which is good for us. And those are going to folks who are not Linux enthusiasts and are not Linux specialists. So it has really raised the bar on the quality and crispness of the experience you have to deliver in order to keep those people happy.

      • Canonical to offer new Ubuntu Linux business support options

        Linux is great — if you know what you’re doing. If you don’t, Linux, like any operating system, can be a pain. Enter Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux. On June 7th, Canonical will start offering new Ubuntu Server and Ubuntu Desktop “Ubuntu Advantage” business support services.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Android

      • New Android Smart Phones Coming this Year

        We have all seen the Google Nexus One, HTC Desire, Legend, Sony Ericsson XPERIA X10 and plenty of other Android smart phones and by all means, we are very much impressed. But the availability of the open source platform does not end this year with these handsets alone. In fact, several new smart phones are already on the way.

      • Motorola Flipout Is The Microsoft Kin of Androids

        As per the usual chain of events, spy-shots lead to real products—in this case, the Motorola Flipout. Running Android 2.1, it comes in a quirky little swivel-design similar to the Kin One.

      • What Computex’s Android Tablets Mean for the iPad

        So, don’t get too worked up over what comes out of Computex. They will be about the hardware, but it takes more than hardware to sell hardware. It will be months from now before we’ve digested this show and the pad phenomenon.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Could Chrome OS revive slumping netbook numbers?

        Google’s focus is on netbooks at the moment, though today’s announcement shows that Chrome OS will not be mutually exclusive to the netbook market but notebooks and fully-fledged laptops, perhaps desktops also.

    • Tablets

      • Kno: Big, Dual-Screen Tablet Debuts at D8

        If you were bummed when Microsoft pulled the plug on it’s Courier project, you might be interested in the Kno, another dual-screen e-reader/tablet that debuted at All Things Digital’s D8 conference yesterday.

      • Computex 2010: Year of the tablet?

        HP has clearly been recalibrating its tablet plans and Microsoft killed off its Courier project.

Free Software/Open Source

  • When you should open-source your internal apps

    Enterprise IT departments should revisit their application development strategies to follow some of the approaches used by Facebook and Twitter, argues RedMonk analyst Stephen O’Grady in a recent blog post. Specifically, he says you should invest application development resources only in applications that differentiate your business from your competitors, and rely on open-sourcing and permissive licensing to extend your reach and your development dollars. I believe he’s right.

  • Tiemann on transforming IT the open source way

    In his talk, Tiemman applies the lessons of Darwin to Deming toward transforming the model of IT using the open source way. Adaptability leads to reuse, which leads to sustainability.

  • Women Who Tech in Open Source

    I tend to agree with the NY Times article that some woman tend to migrate to the human side of IT. Not that we are here to be the mothers/nurturers of the team, but I chose to work with the end users of OSS instead of developing code. I get more satisfaction from that, and does it make me less of a contributing member of the FOSS community?

  • Mozilla

    • Firefox 4: An early walk-through of IndexedDB

      Web developers already have localStorage, which is used for client side storage of simple key-value pairs. This alone doesn’t address the needs of many web applications for structured storage and indexed data. Mozilla is working on a structured storage API with indexing support called IndexedDB, and we will have some test builds in the next few weeks. This can be compared to the WebDatabase API implemented by several browsers that uses a subset of the allowable language of SQLite. Mozilla has chosen to not implement WebDatabase for various reasons discussed in this post.

    • Firefox Sync Shows Mozilla’s Still Got It
  • SaaS

    • WSO2 Launches Open-Source Cloud Platform

      The Mountain View, Calif.-based WSO2 was founded by members of the Apache Software Foundation’s Web services community, and its products are based on Apache technologies. The WSO2 Web Services Application Server (WSAS) is based on Apache Axis2, and the Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) is based on Apache Synapse.

  • Oracle/Solaris

  • Healthcare

    • Open Your World recap: Dr. John Halamka on healthcare, the stimulus, and standards

      Dr. John D. Halamka, is Chief Information Officer of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, a practicing emergency physician, and holds several other positions, which are listed on his profile at his Geek Doctor blog. According to Halamka, his datacenter “holds a couple of petabytes of healthcare data for 3 million patients, and the entire infrastructure is run on Red Hat technologies. So I have multiple datacenters, multiple clusters of Linux servers, and we haven’t had downtime in a couple of years. I think the answer today is, no CIO in healthcare is afraid of open source.”

  • BSD

    • DesktopBSD lives on under new leadership

      Following the September 2009 announcement that version 1.7 of DesktopBSD would be the “last and final release”, a small group of German developers have signed on to continue the distributions development. DesktopBSD is based on FreeBSD using the KDE desktop environment and is similar to PC-BSD which also focuses on a desktop version of the BSD variant.

  • Government

    • Asia tackles copyright quagmire through open source

      Tightly guarded secrets may be a thing of the past for government officials or space researchers as more industries adopt open-source practices, presenters at a conference said Friday in Seoul.

    • Government IT: Open Data, Open Standards and Open Source

      As the UK’s new Government settles into power the direction in which it is taking ICT policy is becoming clear, the only question is how the admittedly great ideas will be implemented in practice.

      Much informed analysis has indentified that despite the counter-intuitive pairing of the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, they are in fact closely compatible in many policy areas.

      ICT policy is one such area, and by far the majority of the excellent policy ideas from both party’s manifestoes have made it through to official UK Government policy.

      Let’s start with a lightning tour of the big picture. Austerity is, of course, set to become the watchword for the coalition, and with Public Sector ICT spending running at over £14,500,000,000 per annum and rising some might say austerity is long overdue in this area.

  • Openness

    • Go fly a kite: Mapping the oil spill the open source way

      Since arriving, we’ve managed to mobilize small teams of Gulf Coast residents, working with local nonprofit Louisiana Bucket Brigade. Thanks to the fishermen and charter boat captains whose livelihood is at stake, we’ve been able to get teams out on boats almost every day. Taken from balloons at as high as 1500 feet, our photography is of higher resolution and greater coverage than much of what the press has, and we’re now coordinating a nationwide effort to stitch the imagery into map overlays, which will be viewable in Google Earth as well as more traditional GIS tools. Most importantly, the data we are collecting is released into the public domain and is available for free here.

    • Open Data

      • Where’s my bus? Open data enables real-time route info for Boston riders

        Traditionally, transit agencies are the sole source of bus information for consumers. Agencies build their own countdown signs, launch their own websites, and build their own smartphone applications to get information to customers. Following in the footsteps of the NWS, MassDOT and the Massachusetts Bay Transit Authority (MBTA) decided to open data for software developers for the first time in September 2009. Within two months, six trip planning applications had been built by developers including websites, a desktop widget, and smartphone apps. In Robin’s words, “These were as good or better than anything we would have built on our own.”

      • Government spending details published

        The government has published millions of public spending data as part of what David Cameron says are efforts to lift its “cloak of secrecy”.


  • Does the Internet Make You Smarter?

    But of course, that’s what always happens. Every increase in freedom to create or consume media, from paperback books to YouTube, alarms people accustomed to the restrictions of the old system, convincing them that the new media will make young people stupid. This fear dates back to at least the invention of movable type.

  • Science

  • Environment

    • Gulf oil spill: BP to go ahead with $10bn shareholder payout

      Tony Hayward, BP’s embattled chief executive, will risk incurring further wrath in the US over the Gulf oil spill tomorrow by defying calls from politicians to halt more than $10bn (£6.8bn) worth of payouts due to shareholders this year.

    • How BP, MMS Ignored Spill Warning Signs

      New documents released over the weekend to the New York Times show that both BP and federal regulators at the Interior Department’s Minerals Management Service had plenty of warning that the drilling operation at the Macondo well site was plauged with problems—dating as far back as June 2009. But despite known issues with the well and the blowout preventers, the operation continued until the April 20 blast.

    • BP Hires Former Dick Cheney Spox To Run PR Ops

      BP, struggling to maintain its image while taking responsibility for the worst oil disaster in U.S. history, has hired someone new to head its American public relations operation: Anne Womack-Kolton, the former campaign press secretary for Vice President Dick Cheney.

    • Whole, whole on the range

      A quarter of the land area of Earth is turning into desert. Three quarters of the planet’s savannas and grasslands are degrading. And because the main activity on rangelands is grazing livestock, on which 70% of the world’s poorest people depend, grassland deterioration therefore causes widespread poverty.

    • Monckton takes scientist to brink of madness at climate change talk

      That import, Christopher Monckton, Viscount Monckton of Brenchley, had given a rousing speech to a crowd at Bethel University in Minnesota, near where I live.

      His speech was on global warming and his style was convincing and irreverent. Anyone listening to him was given the impression that global warming was not happening, or that if it did happen it wouldn’t be so bad, and scientists who warned about it were part of a vast conspiracy.

      I know a thing or two about global warming. I have worked in the field of heat transfer and fluid mechanics and I have published more than 80 papers on these topics.

      I am a university professor and also an active consultant in the energy and environment industry. What I heard in his talk surprised me.

      Monckton cited scientist after scientist whose work “disproved” global warming.

      He contended that polar bears are not really at risk (in fact they do better as weather warms); projections of sea level rise are a mere 6cm; Arctic ice has not declined in a decade; Greenland is not melting; sea levels are not rising; ocean temperatures are not increasing; medieval times were warmer than today; ocean acidification is not occurring; and global temperatures are not increasing.

      If true, these conclusions would be welcome. But there is a problem with this kind of truth – it is not made by wishing.

      So I began a journey of investigation (the full results of which you can view here).

      I actually tracked down the articles and authors that Monckton cited. What I discovered was incredible, even to a scientist who follows the politics of climate change. I found that he had misrepresented the science.

      For instance, Monckton’s claims that “Arctic sea ice is fine, steady for a decade” made reference to Alaskan research group (IARC).

      I wrote to members of IARC and asked whether this was true. Both their chief scientist and director confirmed that Monckton was mistaken.

    • U.S. Climate Satellite Capabilities in Jeopardy

      The United States is in danger of losing its ability to monitor key climate variables from satellites, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

      The country’s Earth-observing satellite program has been underfunded for a decade, and the impact of the lack of funds is finally hitting home. The GAO report found that capabilities originally slated for two new Earth-monitoring programs, NPOESS and GOES-R, run by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the Department of Defense have been cut and adequate plans to replace them do not exist.

    • Apartheid-era minister carried ‘nuclear trigger’ in hand luggage to South Africa

      Eschel Rhoodie transported device used to detonate atomic bombs on flight from Israel in mid-70s, say journalists


      Two renowned South African journalists have revealed that Eschel Rhoodie, the apartheid government’s information minister who played a central role in establishing military ties to Israel, privately described in 1979 how he had transported “the trigger” as hand luggage on a flight from Tel Aviv. But they say they were unable to publish the account at the time because of censorship and the former minister’s concerns for his safety.

  • Finance

    • Goldman Was a “Predatory Cat,” and Moody’s a “Goat”

      Many are waiting for Warren Buffett to speak out, for the first time, about his investment in Moody’s Investment Services before the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission today. (He is due up at 11:30 a.m. and hasn’t provided the panel with any written testimony.)

      But for those closely following the role of the credit raters in the financial crisis, the more-interesting testimony may come from a little-known former Moody’s executive named Gary Witt.

      In Witt’s written testimony submitted to the commission, Witt says: “concerns that rating analysts and investment banking analysts worked too closely together prior to the issuance of securitized debt is a legitimate concern.” In particular, he describes a situation involving one of his staffers, a lawyer named Rick Michalek, who was removed from rating Goldman Sachs Group CDOs because the investment bank requested that he be taken off their deals.

      “In my opinion, Rick Michalek was an exceptionally thorough legal analyst. His zealous document reviews were an added expense for investment banks who hired top law firms as transaction counsel with high hourly fees. It was my understanding that this behavior (exceptionally thorough document reviews that resulted in high legal fees being charged to investment banks) had led to a personal reprimand from Brian Clarkson, then head of structured finance.”

    • The Final Fight: No More Gambling with Taxpayer Money

      We agree, the bills are far from perfect and will not prevent the next crisis. But while some will walk away in frustration, we think there are a few things left in the legislation that are worth fighting for. Chief among these is the Senate derivatives chapter, which is head and shoulders better than the House version. The main goal of the Senate derivatives chapter is to separate reckless Wall Street gambling from the taxpayer guarantee.

    • Whistleblowers, Cooperators Making Their Way to the SEC’s Door

      While speaking at a recent Practicing Law Institute seminar, Reisner said the SEC has signed 10 cooperation agreements so far with other potential deals in the pipeline. The insiders are helping investigators in probes involving insider trading, financial and accounting fraud, stock offering frauds, and public company disclosures, he said.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Full Disclosure: A Response to Citizens United

      Instead of offering outright support for campaigns, it seems some corporations have funneled funds into political organizations. According to an article in the Washington Post, the Chamber of Commerce, American Crossroads, and American Action Network have pledged to raise $127 million for the upcoming election season.

    • Investigative Report: Richard Berman

      But this is no ordinary PR operation. This is where white-knuckle lobbying and media buys merge with a handful of public charities Berman has created to spin and cajole public perception on a variety of issues. But for the most part, he attacks and intimidates those with contrary views, and under the banner of the public good serves the agendas of corporate America.

    • The Latest on Rick Berman, Attack Dog Extraordinaire

      Berman targets non-profit organizations with views that conflict with those of big business. The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is one example. It lobbies against animal cruelty, which puts it at odds with beef, pork and poultry producers, dairies, puppy mills, captive (“canned”) hunting operations, and contract research labs that do animal experimentation for pharmaceutical and cosmetics manufacturers. Another favorite Berman target, Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), lobbies for lower legal blood alcohol levels for drunk driving charges, and mandatory use of ignition interlock devices for convicted drunk drivers, which puts it at odds with alcoholic beverage manufacturers, whose business success depends on people drinking more.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Press release: BabyBarista resigns from The Times over their decision to charge

      Barrister and writer Tim Kevan has withdrawn the BabyBarista Blog from The Times in reaction to their plans to hide it away behind a subscription-based paywall. He commented: “I didn’t start this blog for it to be the exclusive preserve of a limited few subscribers. I wrote it to entertain whosoever wishes to read it.” In a further post he said, “I think the decision will prove to be a disaster. There are so many innovative ways of making cash online and the decision to plump for an across-the-board blanket subscription over the whole of their content makes them look like a big lumbering giant…Canute-like in their determination to stop the tide of free content and using a top down strategy which makes even the Post Office look dynamic.”

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NASA Connect – AO – Observatories (3/17/2005)

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