Summary: Links and news sent to us by readers today (all regarding security in banks)
“Just how bad does it have to get before the powers-that-be is going to do something about the state of `computer’ security,” wrote a reader regarding this article. “Instead of passing bull***t legislation on Capitol Hill… All you need is a `computer’ that doesn’t get compromised by clicking on a URL or opening an email attachment,” he added, “instead of more BS like this.”
The Zeus botnets, which consist of 20,000 to 30,000 compromised computers, are being used to send out regionally-specific infected spam to distribute links to the Trojans, according to Trusteer. Compromised UK websites are also being used in the attack on online banking users, it added.
Raoul Chiesa, a renowned European security expert, was forced to cancel his presentation at the Hack in the Box (HITB) Security Conference after legal threats from ATM vendors. He was supposed to present the results of years of research into the underground economy.
Mr. Raoul Chiesa is an Italian white hat hacker, who works with with several international crime fighting organizations. The researcher is a permanent stakeholder at the European Network & Information Security Agency (ENISA) and a senior advisor with the Global Crimes Unit of the United Nations Interregional Crime & Justice Research Institute (UNICRI).
AppleCare has confirmed what we already knew: The incoming software update won’t fix the iPhone 4′s transmission and reception problems. They acknowledged the antenna problem exists, offering the same solution as before: Buy a case or hold the iPhone differently.
What began as an innocent viral joke may end up costing one Best Buy worker his part-time job. Brian Maupin, of Missouri, recently posted two videos making fun of iPhone and Evo acolytes, respectively. Although neither video made explicit reference to his employer, managers at the Independence, MO Best Buy decided to suspend him from his duties after Maupin refused their polite suggestion that he quit. As the AP reports, Maupin now risks losing his job over a pair of videos that have each garnered over 1.6 million and 340,000 views, respectively. (Videos below, but beware of obscenities.)
Just a few days before its own liquidation hearings, The SCO Group has lodged an appeal against the judgement that pulled the rug out from under the company’s numerous ongoing legal battles. Groklaw reports that SCO now plans to appeal the judgement handed down by judge Ted Stewart. Stewart upheld a jury verdict made after oral hearings that Novell had retained the copyright to Unix when it sold its Unix business to The SCO Group (at the time operating as The Santa Cruz Operation). Stewart also rejected SCO’s application to have the case reheard.
How many times will Groklaw declare it the end of SCO? Seriously, this is like a case that’s stuck in a loop. It makes the legal system look like a game to be won by depth of pockets — one where patience and wealth override justice (SCO has provided no evidence in almost a decade). █
A new poll into Operating System popularity by a British computer magazine has revealed that an incredible 37 percent of respondents are still using Windows XP. That’s more than Windows 7 which managed to woo 30 percent of the folk taking part, and Vista could only garner a pretty poor 16 percent of support. This being a PC magazine it should come as no great surprise to see Linux being used by 8 percent of respondents and Mac OS by 7 percent.
After a successful first year, the Needham High School Linux Club delivered its first batch of computers to residents of the Needham Housing Authority. Penny Kirk, Residents Service Coordinator, will distribute them to families who have requested them.
A couple of months ago the nice ZaReason people sent me their Teo Ubuntu netbook to review. I was favorably impressed and gave it a positive review. Then they let me take it on my vacation, so little Teo traveled 2500 miles with us. This was the ultimate portability, performance, and battery test. How did Teo do? Splendidly.
All in all, it’s clear that the market for virtualization solutions targeted at desktop Linux users is rich and flourishing. While the traditional staples, VMware and VirtualBox, remain the most intuitive options, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ubuntu endorse an “official” desktop virtualization infrastructure based on KVM or Xen a year or two in the future.
If you don’t need a full Windows environment, HyperSpace Instant-on takes you online in seconds, if you don’t want to wait for Windows 7 to boot. This is a Linux set-up which may not suit all users but is certainly quick.
The Samsung H1 runs off the Linux-based LiMO operating system, using the Vodafone 360 skin, and features an 8-megapixel camera and one of Samsung’s fab Super AMOLED screens, as seen in the Samsung Galaxy S.
Power management features for Radeon graphics chips, the first groundwork for supporting 3D with Evergreen GPUs, H264 decoding in Intel’s Ironlake driver and the support of Intel’s next generation of desktop and notebook chips, are some of the major graphics driver advancements of Linux 2.6.35.
The developer of Minitube, the desktop YouTube player for Linux, has revealed a new music player called Minitunes. There are innumerable music players players available for Linux; many of them no different from the other.
Flavio Tordini, an Italian software developer and creator of Minitube, has announced the release of the first version of his new cross-platform Minitunes music player. According to Tordini, who considers his application to be “just another music player, only better”, Minitunes is designed to provide a “clean and innovative interface”.
Using two note-taking applications in tandem — Basket Note Pads and QToDo — leaves the user wanting for few, if any, additional features. Basket’s extensive use of tags is a real plus, and its always-on nature makes quick access a breeze. Meanwhile, QToDo shines in task-tracking. Perhaps merging both sets of functions into one app would create the ideal note-taking environment.
For some reason, text editors are something that us Unix geeks get very passionate about. Whether it’s an argument over which editor is better, or just professing our love for our favourite keyboard shortcuts, it’s an emotive issue.
When browsing and culling a folder of RAW files (in my case Nikon NEF) Irfanview is exceptionally fast as it reads the embedded JPEG preview rather than interpreting the RAW data. The preview file is a full resolution file, but compressed with “basic” JPEG quality. When you shoot RAW files and review the images on the camera’s LCD, it’s the preview files you’re looking at.
Irfanview is also fast and intuitive for batch functions such as resizing images and IPTC captioning.
For the first time since switching mostly to Linux almost two years ago, I can do all my image editing in Linux without compromise, even for the most complex professional jobs.
This section would cover how to install PHP, MYSQL and Apache and then hook them together to build an interactive site. The goal would be to install WordPress and maybe Joomla as examples of the LAMP server. The actual process to make this all come together is straightforward but there are a lot of little things that can trip you up. One goal here would be to teach you how to create, use and backup your MySQL databases.
Have you been looking for open-source storage management tools that are easy to use and provide a graphical representation of your storage. Alas, there are no comprehensive tools but there are graphical tools that you can pair with command-line wizardry, particularly LVM.
Most of the Linux sites that list games tend to highlight the same bunch; however, there are a few hidden gems that you may have missed but are still worth playing. In no particular order, here are four you might want to try.
July is when the summer doldrums start to threaten. If you feel your hammock calling, resist the temptation, and turn instead to Chromium B.S.U., an adrenaline-pumping 2-D vertical shooter.
The game has been around for about 10 years. Creator Mark B. Allan came up with it after trying out a Linux port of a DOS shooter called Raptor. “I began to wonder how hard it would be to write a similar type of game using OpenGL. I had been wanting to experiment with SDL and OpenAL for a while, and this seemed like a good opportunity.”
There are several “unknown” game companies which are very friendly towards GNU/Linux, yet because of the poor publicity none heard about them.
One of those GNU/Linux friendly gaming companies is Sake Visual.
They released 3 games so far and all of them have a native GNU/Linux client, 2 of the games where released as freeware.
It looks like I’ll be at least making the migration from GNOME to KDE, even if I don’t leave the *buntu family of distros, so I needed to make a list of what apps I use regularly and see if they work under KDE (without needing to install libraries) and if not what apps may do the job. Apps I now use are listed in BOLD text if I absolutely need to use it regardless of what distro I use, although if I can keep the same features in a different program that will be acceptable.
Today, KDE delivers the second release candidate of the upcoming KDE Software Compilation 4.5. The final version will be available in August 2010 and this RC is intended for testers and early adopters who can help by finding and reporting bugs. It will also interest those who want an early look at what is coming to their desktops and netbooks this summer.
I started using KDE when version 4.0 was out. I had had a taste of KDE 3.5, which I didn’t like, but release 4.0 looked like a big step forward, so I was tempted to give it a go. Just like so many others, I found KDE 4.0 disappointingly slow, unstable and unintuitive. However, I did see lots of potential in it and kept using it release after release.
Up until recently, I was mostly a GNOME user. I considered it faster, leaner, more intuitive… and certainly not as ugly as some say! No matter how hard I tried to like KDE, it would always feel a bit alien and I would always end up going back to GNOME. The tide has shifted lately, though, and I have found myself leaning towards KDE desktops more and more. I believe that is mostly a result of the incredible work the developers are putting in place to improve and polish the product, but also down to the fact that I have been learning more about its “secrets”.
Gnome is the most popular Linux desktop environment and one of it’s key features that makes it so wonderful is the “gnome panel”. For those unfamiliar the “gnome panel” is the bar that is typically located at the bottom (and top sometimes) of the screen where your menu, task-bar, and icon tray are located. If you have never done it, try right clicking on some blank space and click “add to panel”. You will be presented with a list of applets you can add to the panel. While there are a good number to choose from by default, there are piles of other applets you can find online to install. The following is a list of my four favorites I use on my various Linux systems around my house.
With the upcoming release of GNOME 3.0, software development interests will focus increasingly on improved user experience, accessibility and application use. While the GUADEC 2010 conference aims to prmote all of these ideals through the work of the GNOME Foundation, the GNOME Open Desktop Day will place important attention on the desktop in government and education.
In this piece of the puzzle we are going to take a look at Xfce’s “control panel”, the Xfce 4 Settings Manager. From this tool you can configure nearly all of the preferences for the Xfce 4′s desktop. It’s a very handy tool to have installed and will keep you from having to poke around the menu system to find the various setting tools.
This release of Sabayon is proving to be easy, fast, and stable. It is available in x86 or 64-bit KDE or GNOME versions as well as a CoreCD consisting just of the basics. With the included XBMC, Sabayon can easily become a home theater center as well. It is also the only known live distribution to offer musical accompaniment during boot. All the technical aspects aside, the best thing about Sabayon is – it’s just plain fun and easy to use.
Following the release of the first beta for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.0 back in April we delivered our first RHEL 6.0 benchmarks while putting it up against CentOS 5.4 and Fedora 12. Now that the second beta of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.0 was released last week, we took the workstation build and have benchmarked it against the latest releases of Ubuntu, CentOS, and openSUSE.
The Spring version of the popular Mandriva Linux distribution is now available for download on mirrors worldwide. With the release of Mandriva Linux 2010.1 “Spring,” we definitely know that Mandriva is alive and kicking. The final release comes in three editions: One Edition, Free Edition and Powerpack Edition. Mandriva Linux 2010.1 is available for both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures, with GNOME and KDE4 LiveCDs.
Linux giant Red Hat has announced that Linux System Dynamics (LSD), an open source consulting firm, has been appointed a Red Hat Premier Business Partner for the Southern Africa region.
Red Hat Premier Business Partners are top-tier Red Hat partners, who have demonstrated expertise in the Red Hat product portfolio and have met the stringent technical, sales and training requirements specified by Red Hat, in order to deliver the benefits of Red Hat services and products to customers.
When it comes to Linux distributions, Sidux is an interesting character. While many distro’s “piggyback” on well known distributions (especially Ubuntu) and release their own “flavor” after the parent distribution is released, Sidux does things a bit differently. Sidux is still built on top of a parent distro (Debian) but is made to be a rolling release distribution by taking the packages that are in Debian Unstable, though adding customizations to make it stable.
I tried out Sidux very briefly a few months back, and was turned off by the number of updates that were available initially and the fact that they broke my system. The problem was that so much time had passed since their last spin (the previous version was released in April of 2009), that there have been so many changes that the updates just completely broke my system. (Linux changes faster than any other operating system, bar none, so having updated spins is a very important thing).
Sidux is a really good distribution, though it’s not perfect. It’s clearly not for beginners, though there is a nice manual included so it may not be all that bad. As a power user, I had absolutely no problem using it and getting it up and running. I can see that excessive updates may be a problem to a beginning user, as package update overload can sometimes break things, but for me it’s been stable. As a matter of fact, if I wasn’t using Arch, Sidux would probably be my next best choice as I don’t think I could use anything but a rolling distro. Sidux is definitely well worth checking out, though I do recommend you try it in a Virtual Machine first to get the hang of it before installing it on a production machine.
When Canonical unveiled Ubuntu’s branding overhaul and new desktop theme earlier this year, the company also revealed that it had commissioned well-known type foundry Dalton Maag to design a new font specifically for Ubuntu. The font will likely be used by default in Ubuntu 10.10, which is scheduled for release in October.
Today Canonical launched a closed beta for the new font, making it available to testers and Ubuntu contributors. I tested it on my desktop computer, running Ubuntu 10.04. After installing the package, I enabled it in the GNOME appearance preference dialog. It matches the new Ubuntu logo font, but it’s designed for optimal screen readability. It looks very smooth on my LCD monitors and is very easy on the eyes. I think it’s a big improvement over Bitstream Vera Sans, the font that currently ships by default in Ubuntu.
Canonical Design has introduced new Ubuntu fonts which will be used in the next release, Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat. The new fonts will not be available to everyone, though, as it has been released as a private beta. Only Ubuntu Members are allowed access to the new font through a private PPA. The fonts will be released as a public beta on 8th August. So if you are not an Ubuntu Member, you have to wait till then.
You should be able to find the Liberation fonts on most distributions, though they may not be installed by default. Search for Liberation in your favorite package tool, and you should find a package with all three or separate packages for each. On Ubuntu 10.04, for instance, you’ll have the ttf-liberation package. Actually, if you do a search for ttf, you’ll see a number of fonts you can grab from the Ubuntu archives.
But the open font movement, if can be called such, has progressed beyond Red Hat’s triple header of Freedom. Check out the Free Font Manifesto, for example. It links to a number of fonts that have licenses that allow redistribution and modification, as well as a manifesto about free fonts. Check out the blog as well if the free font issue is important to you.
Last evening while reading the SA forums, I encountered a thread about Linux and what was required to bring it to the general public. One of the goons mentioned a post that indicated ten reasons why Ubuntu wasn’t ready for the desktop in India. I kid you not – the most ridiculous reason was because users couldn’t perform the important ritual of right click/Refreshing on the desktop five or more times before getting down to work.
In an earlier blog I wrote about the TI eZ430-Chronos. This is a $50 development kit with a twist. Instead of a generic target board, you get a wristwatch. Its more of a “Casio-style sports watch” than a Rolex, but inside is a fairly powerful MSP430 CPU and I/O including a 3-axis accelerometer, a temperature sensor, a pressure sensor, and a wireless connection back to a PC. You also get a USB programmer, and the USB receiver for the watch. Use coupon code HALFMSPTOOL (don’t know when that expires) and the price drops to under $25.
The platform is currently a prototype, based on Sirrix’ Turaya Security Kernel, which handles encryption, VPN and a trusted user interface; and the OKL4 Microvisor, which can host the Sirrix trusted desktop alongside a variety of guest OS, including Android and other Linux variants, in OKL4 secure cells. The platform will initially run on Nokia’s N900 product, which runs Linux-based Maemo.
FemtoLinux is a new Linux flavor optimized for real-time embedded systems. Our design goal is a low system call and interrupt-to-application latency and overhead. We achieve this by allowing to run critical Linux applications in kernel mode.
The video above shows the MeeGo VT320 video terminal start up. It takes 17 seconds from pressing the power button to a login prompt on the video terminal. That includes 11 seconds for the BIOS, 1 second for bootloader and a further 5 seconds for MeeGo to get its act together.
For one thing, it runs on the Linux-based Maemo 5 operating system. This is one very niche device aimed specifically at those passionate guys that reside within the wider Debian and Ubuntu communities – the ones who love to tinker with things.
Meanwhile, Google’s Chrome OS netbooks will dispense with the operating system completely when they become available in late fall in favor of apps from the Chrome Web App store.
Of course, Linux and Windows netbooks like the ones Intel is targeting with the AppUp Store can run whatever software you want them to run — just like laptops and desktops. Their rebranding as things that run apps is, if anything, a step backwards.
It used to be that folks would be busy trying to get Linux running on various electronic devices, such as an iPod, but the latest trend is to get Google’s Android OS running on phones that don’t officially support it.
Google’s Android Market offers the largest share of free apps at 57 percent, while the Windows Mobile Marketplace offers the smallest share at 22 percent, says a report on mobile app stores released last week by Distimo.
The Android operating system is a free Linux-based open-source platform for mobile devices. It managed to appeal a lot to users around the world, mainly due to the fact that it can take great advantage of the hardware resources packed inside mobile phones. Already adopted by a wide range of manufacturers and carriers around the world, Android has all chances to lead the smartphone market in the near future.
Considering how hackable the Nexus One is already, we can only imagine a whole new host of interesting things thanks to Ubuntu running on the device. [Max Lee] set his heart out on getting not just Ubuntu on the Nexus One, but also Debian, and he wrote a perfect install guide to help out those wanting to give it a shot.
Froyo was unveiled at at the Google I/O developer conference in May during a keynote presentation by Google VP of engineering Vic Gundotra. Stabilizing the platform for an official Nexus One release took Google a little bit longer than expected, but the software is now being made available to users through an over-the-air update. We took it for a test drive to see how it compares to the previous version.
OK, we admit it. Despite our public loathing of Motoblur, the Motorola Charm (just announced for T-Mobile) has piqued our interest a bit, given that it’ll be the first front-facing QWERTY Android phone. Motorola’s done up a cute little video showing off its latest. And while we’re not exactly convinced it’s going to be the Android messenger we’ve been dreaming of, we’re definitely looking forward to giving it a shot.
Manipur has been added to the global project One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), a mission to empower the children learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child with the commencement of distribution of the laptop to four schools today.
IBM, in collaboration with the European Union, industry and academia, is launching a research consortium which aims to help businesses more easily take advantage of Internet-based services – or “e-services” – to create collaborative business operations and achieve shared business goals.
The unique effort focuses on the development of a new computer science model that will enable organizations to greatly accelerate the typically time-intensive process around the coordination of e-services and increase the automation and efficiency around deploying new e-service blends. The research will enable even small to mid-sized businesses to create or join into flexible e-service blends, without investing in expensive IT expertise. The initiative will create open-source software to enable many organizations around the world take advantage of the technology.
In general I have found that, in terms of quality, number of bugs and ease of usage, there is no real difference between OSS and proprietary software. I know that many people will disagree. I also know that they disagree because they have a biased point of view. As these people are used to a particular piece of software, for example msoffice or photoshop, then the OSS equivalents, open office and gimp, seem to be inferior.
The conference landscape evolves constantly. Old events pass away, new ones arrive and it’s good to get pointers to know what’s worthwhile. I can recommend this year’s Open World Forum, happening in Paris on September 30 and October 1.It’s a volunteer-run conference for the open source and free software community and covers multiple tracks and events both for business and community interests.
Slides and videos of the presentations at Red Hat’s annual convention provide a host of information about the features and capabilities of current and forthcoming Red Hat products. The presenters offered a particularly wide range of details on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, scheduled for release in the coming months, and on the various virtualisation products in the Red Hat Enterprise Virtualisation family.
Absolute Linux 13.1.2 has been released bringing several updates and fixes as well as the switch to Google Chrome as the default browser, replacing Mozilla Firefox. Chrome was found to have several advantages over Firefox and the developers believed it to be the better choice for the light-weight distro. Firefox is still available on the second CD.
Firefox has successfully grabbed a quarter of the browser market, but Google Chrome is growing very rapidly, and the fact remains that the world is moving to a new, need-driven browser model. For many people, it makes sense to run more than one browser. I’ll definitely adopt Firefox 4, primarily because I use a lot of the best Firefox extensions, but I’ll run Chrome as well.
CSQL is a very powerful command line interpreter. You are recommended to read our online Wiki CSQL Interpreter Tutorial. You will learn about reading, saving, and appending SQL statement, Shell command execution/registration, transaction processing, outputting schema information/syntax rules and examples, parameter setting, etc, which are beyond those provided by CUBRID Manager or other simple query editor tools.
MIT OpenCourseWare ( http://ocw.mit.edu/ ) is a web-based publication of virtually all course content from the Massachusetts Insitute of Technology (MIT). It is a resource that is used by students, teachers and average people around the world via the web, giving average citizens access to a wealth of information previously only available to students who could attend one of the world’s most recognized and respected universities.
1. Don’t buy any software. No, seriously, just stop buying software licences. If you’d like to carry on using your Windows machines, check out the Open Education Disc, with a comprehensive suite of absolutely free applications providing tools for (almost) every area of learning within and beyond the curriculum, including OpenOffice.org, Inkscape and the GIMP, to replace Office, Illustrator and Photoshop for starters.
Furthermore, you’re allowed, indeed encouraged, to duplicate this so your pupils have access to the same software, legally and for free, at home too. Better still, put the temptation to buy more software firmly out of your grasp by switching to Linux desktops, such as the undeniably excellent Ubuntu. This comes as standard with a great suite of applications, with at the last count 30,046 packages (such as Tablix, a genetic algorithm based timetabler), that you can install (for free) over the net as and when you need them: think app store for a desktop, but all free and (generally) of very good quality.
If you’re worried that your pupils won’t cope with an unfamiliar interface, don’t be, they’ll quickly adjust and will be far more discerning users of computers as a result; if you’re worried that this won’t prepare them for the world of Windows, don’t be, just have a glance at Ofsted’s comments about alternative operating systems.
AccProbe uses IAccessible2 platform services to assist developers in discovering and correcting code problems in their Windows applications. It was developed in Eclipse by IBM and donated to The Linux Foundation’s Open Accessibility Workgroup.
The Free Software conferences held in Berga during the last weekend, where eyeOS participated with a conference and a workshop, ended with a very special moment: The official inauguration of the first “Free Software” street in the world.
Richard Stallman, founder of GNU Project and Free Software Foundation, was invited and after speaking, officially inaugurated the street.
* Mult-screen feature: support of many opened editors and viewers (#1490)
* Reorganization of menu and configuration dialogs. More options are available in UI (#320)
* Mark of text in input fields is available now, DEL removes selected/unchanged text (#2161, #2228)
* Now copy/move dialog shows the full path with file name in the field “to:” (#1907)
* Removed hardcoded shortcuts in dialog.c (#212)
* Added new actions for panels: PanelMarkFileUp and PanelMarkFileDown (#2021)
* Added new capability to create relative symlinks: menu item and “C-x v” default shortcut (#2042)
* Now we can use external utility to copy/paste text to X clipboard (#30)
* Cursor is hidden in menu and listboxes (#1771)
* All hotkeys in MC (in menu, checkboxes, etc) in the middle of a word are in the lowercase now (#2168)
* Use system realpath(3) function if available (#1911)
* GLib deprecated functions are not used (#2085, #2249)
CMS-Maestro is a new PHP-based content management system (CMS) released by South African Web development company Valente Online.
Easy to install and use, CMS-Maestro offers the basics such as page and article management and adds to that the ability to add additional widgets, and manage menus and a range of media formats. In a release the company says that “CMS-Maestro is built with extensibility in mind and is designed in a modular fashion, therefore additional features and functionality can be added easily to the Maestro”.
One key element of open source compliance is to know your obligations. There is a lot of confusion about what open source means exactly and some people believe that open source means you can do whatever you want. While open source grants users many freedoms, open source code comes under specific license terms which often include obligations that have to be followed by companies distributing open source software.
Last week I participated in the third (and sadly final!) conference of Communia project, a European thematic network on the digital public domain. The theme of this conference was University and Cyberspace and several of the talks articulated a vision in which universities, academics, and students play a key role in creating, curating and promoting the digital commons.
Every politician understands what is in his or her short-term interest. They know what the party leadership wants, what their campaign contributors want, and what lobbyists want. At what point does the long-term interest of the nation as a whole come into play? Who represents the interests of future generations? Today, our future is determined by cowardly politicians who can only think as far as the next election. Our economy is guided by short-sighted corporations that only care about hitting their quarterly numbers, lest their stock nosedives and they get taken over by a rival corporation.
Prosecutors in a New Jersey ticket scalping case are pushing the envelope on the federal computer hacking law, setting a precedent that could make it a felony to violate a website’s terms of service and fool a CAPTCHA, according to electronic civil rights groups intervening in the case.
Imagine that right after briefing Adam about which fruit was allowed and which forbidden, God had installed a closed-circuit television camera in the garden of Eden, trained on the tree of knowledge. Think how this might have changed things for the better. The serpent sidles up to Eve and urges her to try the forbidden fruit. Eve reaches her hand out – in paradise the fruit is always conveniently within reach – but at the last second she notices the CCTV and thinks better of it. Result: no sin, no Fall, no expulsion from paradise. We don’t have to toil among thorns and thistles for the rest of our lives, earning our bread by the sweat of our brows; childbirth is painless; and we feel no need to wear clothes.
As we’ve seen so often before (indeed, we’ve got a whole category devoted to it) – law enforcement throws funds at this technology which then can’t be spent elsewhere, policing becomes dependent on that technology, and it promptly fails.
Want to slow global warming? Save a sea otter. So says Chris Wilmers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, whose team has calculated that the animals remove at least 0.18 kilograms of carbon from the atmosphere for every square metre of occupied coastal waters.
That means that if sea otters were restored to healthy populations along the coasts of North America they could collectively lock up a mammoth 1010 kg of carbon – currently worth more than $700 million on the European carbon-trading market. Wilmers explained this at the annual meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology in Edmonton, Canada, this month.
MEPs voted to approve a political inter-institutional agreement on a new regulation that sets obligations on operators that place timber or related products on the EU market.
The new legislation issues a ban on illegally-harvested timber. Covering the whole timber supply chain from logging sites to European consumers, the law aims to guarantee legally-sourced products access to EU markets while halting deforestation in third countries.
The slow-moving airship will be arriving at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport in Mississippi after more than a month of travel from Yuma, Arizona where it’s based. The blimp will ultimately operate from a mooring three miles southeast of the Mobile Bay shoreline in Alabama.
The primary purpose of 178-feet long MZ-3A airship will be to spot and monitor for oil contamination along the Gulf Coast.
But, does that mean oil in ocean water can’t possibly become involved in the hydrologic cycle? Nope. There is some evidence, according to the Christian Science Monitor, that floating oil can evaporate under the right conditions. In that case, though, you wouldn’t get oil droplets falling from on high. The more likely result would be normal-looking rain tainted with chemical compounds from the oil. According to Popular Mechanics, the only way you’d really get black “rain” is if a hurricane picked up polluted water and dumped it—sans evaporation—onto a coastal area.
What to do about the size of too-big-to-fail banks? Order a study. How to hold stockbrokers accountable for their dealings with clients? Another study. How to ensure the reliability of credit rating agencies? Study that, too.
In what could be a first step toward restoring confidence in the health of European banks, a panel coordinating stress tests of major institutions has confirmed that they will be much broader than initially planned, covering most of the market. It also set a date of July 23 for releasing the results.
The Committee of European Banking Supervisors, made up of national regulators from across the European Union, said it will release results of the anxiously awaited tests for 91 banks. Those banks account for 65 percent of the E.U. banking market and at least 50 percent of the market in the respective countries, it said in a statement late Wednesday.
A standard refrain from U.S. banking industry lobbyists is “you cannot put us at a disadvantage relative to our overseas competitors.” The Obama administration has largely bought into this line and cites it in public and private as one reason for opposing size caps on our largest banks and preventing Congress from raising capital requirements.
The US Treasury puts its faith instead in the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision process, a somewhat murky convocation of bank regulators from various countries that has a weak track record in terms of setting sufficient prudential standards (also the assessment of Dan Tarullo, now an influential Federal Reserve governor; disclosure, I have a part-time position at the Peterson Institute, which published his book). But, the official US reasoning goes, the crisis of 2007-08 was so traumatic, our European counterparts will now want to be more careful.
Wells Fargo said Wednesday that it would no longer make subprime mortgages and as a result would close a 100-year-old finance division that specialized in those loans.
The bank has a reputation as a conservative lender, but it has been battling heavy losses amid the financial crisis on its own subprime mortgages as well as on the loan portfolios it acquired when it bought the Wachovia Corporation.
Target-date mutual funds — investment vehicles that automatically change your mix of assets as you near retirement — are thought by many investors to be a safer investment choice that’s relatively insulated from market gyrations as the funds get closer to the target date.
But lately, people on the verge of retirement have been surprised to see how much these funds have been affected by recent turbulence on Wall Street. In some cases, the funds have performed far less well than had been anticipated.
Federal Reserve officials, increasingly concerned over signs the economic recovery is faltering, are considering new steps to bolster growth.
With Congress tied in political knots over whether to take further action to boost the economy, Fed leaders are weighing modest steps that could offer more support for economic activity at a time when their target for short-term interest rates is already near zero. They are still resistant to calls to pull out their big guns — massive infusions of cash, such as those undertaken during the depths of the financial crisis — but would reconsider if conditions worsen.
It starts with an apparent mystery. At the end of 2006, food prices across the world started to rise, suddenly and stratospherically. Within a year, the price of wheat had shot up by 80 percent, maize by 90 percent, and rice by 320 percent. In a global jolt of hunger, 200 million people – mostly children – couldn’t afford to get food any more, and sank into malnutrition or starvation. There were riots in over 30 countries, and at least one government was violently overthrown. Then, in spring 2008, prices just as mysteriously fell back to their previous level. Jean Ziegler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, called it “a silent mass murder”, entirely due to “man-made actions.”
For over a century, farmers in wealthy countries have been able to engage in a process where they protect themselves against risk. Farmer Giles can agree in January to sell his crop to a trader in August at a fixed price. If he has a great summer and the global price is high, he’ll lose some cash, but if there’s a lousy summer or the price collapses, he’ll do well from the deal. When this process was tightly regulated and only companies with a direct interest in the field could get involved, it worked well.
Then, through the 1990s, Goldman Sachs and others lobbied hard and the regulations were abolished. Suddenly, these contracts were turned into ‘derivatives’ that could be bought and sold among traders who had nothing to do with agriculture. A market in “food speculation” was born.
The U.S.’s Financial Reform bill is over 2,000 pages. It includes exemptions and lots of opportunities to create loopholes. Behavior that caused our ongoing global financial crisis is guaranteed to continue, if we don’t have swift and effective deterrents.
When the nation’s most prestigious investment banks found themselves on the verge of total annihilation in the fall of 2008, the most radical and effective government response was not the infamous $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. The wildest salvation scheme for Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and the securities system at large was a plan from the Federal Reserve to give these speculative institutions access to cheap loans from the central bank. It worked. With access to unlimited cheap funding from the Fed, the Wall Street titans survived. Hurrah.
A well-coifed, dulcet-toned Harvard Scot named Niall Ferguson says that’s a bad idea and bond market vigilantes will show up in the dark of night and pummel U.S. bonds to applesauce, twist Uncle Sam’s arm around his back, and force him pay through his bleeding nose to borrow.
Poised as we are for the most comprehensive financial reform in this country since the Great Depression, it is time to fess up to the fact that it likely would not have occurred without a concerted effort by the Obama administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress to demonize Goldman Sachs.
Army intelligence specialist Bradley Manning was charged yesterday for allegedly leaking video and documents to secret-sharing website Wikileaks. He faces up to 52 years in prison. Now, nerds are waging fierce campaigns to discredit both Manning’s informant and Wikileaks itself.
Bradley Manning was arrested last month after his confidant, ex-hacker Adrian Lamo, turned him in. Lamo won Manning’s trust by portraying himself as a minister and a journalist, and likely traded on a shared queer identity to convince the 22 year-old, deeply troubled soldier to confess his illegal activities over instant message. Lamo immediately notified Army investigators and spilled the story to his long-time unofficial mouthpiece, Wired’s Kevin Poulsen.
A German data protection official said Wednesday he launched legal proceedings against Facebook, which he accused of illegally accessing and saving personal data of people who don’t use the social networking site.
Johannes Caspar said his Hamburg data protection office had initiated legal steps that could result in Facebook being fined tens of thousands of euros for saving private information of individuals who don’t use the site and haven’t granted it access to their details.
Separately, some governments are now kicking off investigations into Monsanto’s advertising statements about the very same Roundup Ready soybeans. Combine all of that and Monsanto also reported dreadful earnings, with a 45% profit drop.
Once again, we’re seeing what happens when you live off of artificial monopolies. They can make you rich in the short term, but they’re no trick to building sustainable businesses. What the government gives in the form of monopoly rights, it can also take away.
The piece was written by Christina Mulligan, who recently got plenty of attention for her thoughtful piece on the mixed messages on copyright found in the TV show Glee. It’s great that a paper like the Washington Post is giving her a platform to write about these concerns. Hopefully it will finally reach some of our more stubborn and misguided DC-based politicians that intellectual property is being widely abused in troubling ways.
Summary: Novell news items reveal a proprietary software company boasting an agenda that conflicts with software freedom; Turbolinux too gets its paws on the Linux cake
WHILE companies and entire cities are bailing out on Novell, there is realisation that Novell “continues to disappoint,” according to this new report (Bharat Book Bureau), which accompanies an older one from the same source. What is up with Novell’s present strategy anyway? Let’s find out by reading this week’s news.
This second note is for users of Sun Microsystems identity management products. Novell is now offering a free license for the equivalent Novell product. That’s right — Sun customers with a perpetual license can now swap their products with a Novell equivalent for only the cost of maintenance.
BasisOne (Pty) Ltd., a member of Swicon360 group of companies and one of Africa’s first SAP-accredited hosting providers, has received a European Identity Management Award for a cloud computing solution the company implemented utilising IAM technology provided by Novell.
Fog Computing is sometimes worse than proprietary software.
Liu was most recently president and CEO of Univa UD, a recognized leader in cloud systems management software. His extensive technology and management experience includes serving as CEO of Callisto Software, a mobile systems management company acquired by Novell, and as CEO of Intrinsic Technologies, a Microsoft infrastructure software and services provider.
In the other news of the year, one will also note that the Linux Foundation has opened an office in Beijing earlier this year and appointed a local representative, Cliff Miller, who is a Linux and open source veteran. He’s former TurboLinux founder and now a DeviceVM and LF executive. This signals that Chinese companies are also starting to contribute financially the Linux Foundation and it’s a very strong sign of changes in my opinion.
TurboLinux signed a patent deal with Microsoft and DeviceVM has software patents which it uses to sue rival companies. Does the Linux Foundation endorse that?
As with Flash, Apple remains a non-supporter of Silverlight, because it does not allow runtimes and third party compilers on its operating systems (something that proposed changes to EU competition law may challenge). The main side door with which to run Silverlight on the iPhone – or, until it is officially ported, Android – is the open source Novell Mono project, whose Moonlight platform puts .Net technologies on non-Windows OSs. It has shown off MonoDroid, and iPhone and MeeGo versions (unlike some attempts to divorce Microsoft tools from Windows, Mono has the giant’s support).
Right… OK. So in summary, Novell primarily promotes proprietary software (and adheres to Microsoft protocols), it wants to spread software patents, it strives to control OpenOffice.org and it works against Java, instead promoting Microsoft’s way of doing things. Why are some people still defending Novell? It must be PR. █
Summary: Patent aggression vectors are named; HP is criticised for taking away what’s public and then ‘donating’ it back
THE Bilski decision’s interpretations regarding software patents continue to arrive [1, 2], but we won’t delve into them because it’s becoming too repetitive. It also applies to just one country, which happens to be home of the world’s largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures.
I enjoyed Levitt & Dubner’s “Freakonomics”, and picked up the followup “Superfreakonomis” recently at an airport. The last chapter, however, was astonishing. The entire chapter was devoted to a glowing advertisement for Intellectual Ventures, pointing out that they own 20,000 patents “more than all but a few dozen companies in the world”, but of course “there is little hard evidence” that they are patent trolls.
But this bunch of wacky genius billionaires have solved global warming (much of which they dispute anyway) and can control malaria and prevent hurricanes from forming. Unlike the rest of the book which covers analysis of well-known facts and disputes them with insightful economic research, this chapter is so breathless and gushy that it makes me question the rest of the author’s work.
I first came across Intellectual Ventures when The Economist reversed their 100-year opposition to patents, and the only reason I could find was a similarly cheerleading piece about this company. (I had naively expected new research revealing some net positive of patents, or some such revelation).
The PR from Intellectual Ventures appears to be working whenever anyone describes this parasitic bully as something worth keeping around.
Speaking of trolls, NetApp happens to be one among the few companies that sue Free/open source projects using software patents [1, 2] and it is doing it again:
NetApp has threatened Ethernet and ZFS storage supplier Coraid with implied legal action unless it stops selling its EtherDrive Z-series NAS. Coraid has buckled under the threat and temporarily withdrawn the product.
The back story here is that NetApp sued Sun in 2007 for infringing its patents with the ZFS file system product which it used in its 7000 storage system and which it made available to the open source community. Sun counter-sued NetApp to destroy the validity of the patents in question by showing that there was prior art – existing IP – rendering the patents null and void.
The two legal actions were combined, with the case ongoing in a northern California court. Oracle has inherited the case with its acquisition of Sun. A letter from Coraid’s CEO, Kevin Brown, to Coraid users and partners says NetApp and Oracle are trying to resolve the dispute out of court.
Now we see a significant hardening of NetApp’s stance as it directly attacks the open source community using ZFS with this offensive against Coraid. This could be part of a negotiating tactic against Oracle.
One last news item which is worth addressing is this PR move from HP, which takes away from the Commons and then sells it back. It’s like ‘donating’ what you took away in the form of a monopoly, just like IBM and like Google:
The World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) announced late last week that HP will join the likes of IBM, Nokia and Sony in making some of its patented technology freely available under the Eco-Patent Commons scheme. The scheme, launched in January 2008, is a joint effort between the WBCSD and IBM, Nokia, Pitney Bowes and Sony.
Why are they allowed to acquire monopolies on these ideas in the first place? Those who are already cynical about the patent system will only be inclined to strengthen those beliefs of theirs. The better solution is to just reject all patents of this type at the USPTO level. Certain things are beneficial neither to the economy nor society when they become a government-protected monopoly. █
Summary: InternetNZ and other groups that actually represent New Zealand’s population speak out against software patents; Mozilla’s Robert O’Callahan offers words of wisdom
THE patent situation in New Zealand is an important matter because few countries other than the US and Japan actually accept software patents (although there may be loopholes). The “software patent debate rages on,” says this new report from IDG which quotes InternetNZ:
The question of software patents looks unlikely to go away soon, with significant lobbies forming on both sides and a wealth of comment in live forums, letters to the Minister by InternetNZ and the NZ Computer Society, in Computerworld’s own online comment space and on Twitter and Slashdot.
Official bodies and individual commentators are not easily letting go of an apparent reinterpretation of a Select Committee’s wishes regarding a clause excluding software from patent in the Patents Bill. In some quarters the argument is sliding over into one of openness in the legislative process and who truly represents the local ICT industry.
Committee member and Labour ICT spokesperson Clare Curran is uncomfortable with what she calls the “revisiting” of the clause. At last week’s OpenGovt2010 “unconference” she cited the incident as a good example of how the lawmaking process is sometimes less than open or transparent. She referred to “how legislation gets made and the discussions that go on behind closed doors” – discussions that should, she said, “happen in a more transparent environment”.
NZICT’s most prominent members are multinational ICT companies, like IBM and Microsoft – companies used to having their intellectual property stringently protected.
In its own letter to Power, InternetNZ has called for the “changes” in the Patents Bill on software to be referred back to the select committee, with an opportunity for further input by “those who originally made submissions”. Ironically, this would cut out NZICT, who did not make a submission. To get a representative point of view the committee may be forced to open submissions more generally.
As we explained before, the “NZ” in NZICT is deceiving because NZICT is a front for multinationals [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].
Mozilla produces the Firefox Web browser, used by more than three hundred million people around the world. Firefox is open source and is the result of a collaboration of a large group of paid developers and volunteers. In fact, Mozilla funds a team of paid developers in New Zealand working on core Firefox code; some key innovations in Firefox, such as HTML5 video, are the work of our New Zealand team. The work we do is some of the most highly skilled and high-impact software development to be found anywhere in the world. I write about software patents in my personal capacity as one of Mozilla’s senior software developers, and manager of our Auckland-based development team and also our worldwide layout engine team. I also formerly worked for three years at the IBM T.J. Watson Research Center where I participated in the filing of several software patents based on my research.
The patent system was designed to promote invention and especially the disclosure of “trade secrets” so that others can build on them. Research casts doubt on whether it has succeeded at those goals (see an example), but even if it did, in software development — especially open-source software development — it is clear that no patent incentive is needed to encourage innovation and publication of our work.
Software development is uniquely able to have huge impact on the world because copies can be made available to users for free. If we had charged users for each copy of Firefox there is no doubt we would not be nearly as successful as we have been, either at changing the world or even at raising money — Mozilla has substantial revenues from “tie-ins” such as search-related advertising. The patent system threatens this business model, because most patent licensing arrangements require the licensee to pay a per-unit fee. This is not necessarily a problem for traditional manufacturing, where there is a per-unit manufacturing cost that must be recouped anyway, but it completely rules out a large class of software business models that have been very successful.
So basically, every coder is an inventor and all the inventions are published in the form of source code. This is not a statement from Mozilla, just an employee’s blog. █