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07.23.10

Links 23/7/2010: Misc. News and BSD Talk

Posted in News Roundup at 5:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

Leftovers

  • Hack the government

    Code for America has a rather novel notion. It is that the U.S. would be a far, far better place if we stopped complaining about local government and started hacking it

    No, no, they don’t mean hacking it open. Well, actually, they do in a way. What Code for America would like to do is to open up city governments to citizens and move into the 21st century. That’s because, as Tim O’Reilly, CEO of O’Reilly Media stated at the The O’Reilly Open Source Convention, we need to stop thinking of the government as a semi-broken candy machine and get to work on fixing it.

    The “fixing it” part is where non-profit Code for America Executive Director Jennifer Pahlka wants to see developers start devoting their efforts. Why? Because she’s found that much of the government isn’t just using out-dated IT, it’s using idiotic IT practices.

  • Facebook Wants to Own All Your Social Graphs, Not Just One

    Facebook has popularized the use of the term “social graph” as a way of describing all the various social connections you have to people in your life, both online and in the real world. But Chris Dixon, co-founder of Hunch.com and an angel investor in a number of web startups, says in a blog post published today that there is more than just one kind of social graph — in fact, he argues that there are actually about half a dozen different kinds, including graphs related to location and recommendations. Whether he is right or not, one thing seems pretty clear: Facebook not only wants to own them all, but is well on its way to doing so.

  • Newspapers

    • Newspaper Chain’s New Business Plan: Copyright Suits

      Borrowing a page from patent trolls, the CEO of fledgling Las Vegas-based Righthaven has begun buying out the copyrights to newspaper content for the sole purpose of suing blogs and websites that re-post those articles without permission. And he says he’s making money.

      “We believe it’s the best solution out there,” Gibson says. “Media companies’ assets are very much their copyrights. These companies need to understand and appreciate that those assets have value more than merely the present advertising revenues.”

    • What’s Really Going on Behind Murdoch’s Paywall?

      Rupert Murdoch is trying to make news at the Times and Sunday Times in London—but he’s not reporting on it. Will his paywall work is the biggest story in the media business, and it would be quite a journalistic coup to document the progress, or lack thereof, that’s being made in trying to convince a skeptical world to shell out 2£ ($3) a week for what’s heretofore been free.

  • Science

    • Aussie lasers stop satellite collisions, death

      An Australian company is developing a laser tracking system that will help prevent collisions between satellites and space debris, thanks to a $4 million grant from the Federal Government.

    • Heftiest Star Discovery Shatters Cosmic Record

      Astronomers have discovered the most massive stars known, including one at more than 300 times the mass of our sun – double the size that scientists thought heavyweight stars could reach.

  • Security/Aggression

    • US army heat-ray gun in Afghanistan

      A newly-developed heat-ray gun that burns the skin but doesn’t cause permanent injury is now with US troops in Afghanistan.

    • U.S. Navy Laser Weapon Shoots Down Drones in Test [Video]

      In a grainy, black-and-white video that looks like a home movie of a UFO attack a sleek aircraft streaks through the sky one minute, only to burst into flames the next and plummet into the sea. The silent video, which Raytheon Co. debuts Monday at the U.K.’s Farnborough International Air Show 2010, however, is not science fiction. The defense contractor says it depicts part of a test conducted in May during which the U.S. Navy used a solid-state laser to shoot down unmanned aerial vehicles over the Pacific Ocean.

    • Security vs. Convenience

      Although my intent is not to start the next GNOME/KDE-level war, it seems there must be a happy medium between total desktop insecurity and total desktop unusability. Linux offers so many ways to secure data that it’s important to realize it’s okay for folks to have different needs and desires. Sure, there are some basic security measures we all should take—things like:

      * Don’t write your password on a sticky note fastened to your monitor.
      * Don’t leave your e-mail account logged in on a public computer.
      * Keep your system updated.
      * Do have a password.
      * Don’t use “password” as your password.

  • Environment

    • Possibilities for Small Modular Nuclear Reactors?

      Recently, however, a growing body of plant designers, utility companies, government agencies and financial players are recognizing that smaller plants can take advantage of greater opportunities to apply lessons learned, take advantage of the engineering and tooling savings possible with higher numbers of units and better meet customer needs in terms of capacity additions and financing. The resulting systems are a welcome addition to the nuclear power plant menu, which has previously been limited to one size – extra large.

  • Animal Abuse

    • It’s the World’s Strongest, Most Expensive Beer — Inside a Squirrel

      Oh, and did we mention that the bottles come in stuffed animals-like stuffed animals that were once alive? The 12 bottles have been made featuring seven dead stoats (a kind of weasel), four squirrels and one rabbit. James Watt, one of the two guys behind BrewDog, put it better than we ever could: “The impact of The End of History is a perfect conceptual marriage between taxidermy, art and craft brewing.” Just like we’ve all been waiting for!

  • Finance

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Turkish Citizens Take To The Streets Over Internet Freedoms

      Outrage and concern finally boiled over in Istanbul on Saturday as thousands took to the streets in protest of Turkey’s Internet Censorship policy.

      Physical protests of Internet policy are really a never-before-seen occurance, even with all the twists and turns of cyberspace regulation that have occurred in the past decade. While the protests thankfully remained peaceful, they drove home a strong point of disapproval to the Turkish government that will hopefully be heard and acknowledged.

    • Internet in China: real names, please

      A leading Chinese Internet regulator has vowed to reduce anonymity in China’s portion of cyberspace, calling for new rules to require people to use their real names when buying a mobile phone or going online, according to a human rights group.

    • Australian government blocks out 90% of document on web-spying plans

      Australia’s web-censors have outdone themselves. After Stephen Conroy (the Australian minister notorious for proposing the Great Firewall of Australia) promised greater transparency in his government’s efforts to regulate the Internet, they replied to a Freedom of Information request on plans to monitor Australians’ internet traffic with a document that was 90 percent blacked out…

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

  • Copyrights

    • Why Designers Hate Crowdsourcing

      Acting as a middleman between business owners and graphic designers, the 99designs site hosts contests in which clients post their needs–website design, logos, print packages–and designers compete to fill them. Instead of bidding for the job, designers submit finished work tailored to the client specifications in the contest listing. 99designs calls it a win-win scenario: Its clients gain access to the site’s pool of 73,000 active designers, while the designers are given a chance to compete for “upwards of $600,000 in awards paid out monthly.”

    • Designer Leading The Charge For Fashion Copyright… Caught Copying Someone Else’s Design

      For many, many years, we’ve pointed to the growing body of research on how the fashion industry thrives, in part, because of its lack of copyright. However, time and time again, we hear about attempts by big designers to add a special fashion copyright. This makes no sense. The purpose of copyright law is to create incentives to create new works. Yet, the fashion industry is thriving. It’s highly competitive and very innovative, as designers keep looking to outdo one another. At the same time, the “knockoffs” help spread the concept of “what’s fashionable” up and down the economic spectrum in record time. This is not an industry that needs “incentives” for creativity. The only reason to put in place such a law is to prevent competition, not to encourage more innovation.

    • German court overturns injunction against RapidShare

      File sharing service RapidShare doesn’t have to employ a word filter to combat the sharing of copyrighted files, the Higher Regional Court of Düsseldorf has now confirmed. The court reversed a preliminary injunction against RapidShare it issued last year, handing the company another legal victory.

    • U.S. publisher hits schoolgirl, 10, with £1,300 bill for using Chaplin song in her charity video

      It seemed the perfect way for a budding young actress to raise money for a good cause.

      Inspired by her grandfather’s love of Charlie Chaplin, ten-year-old Bethany Hare dressed up like the legendary comic to star in her own video tribute.

    • Digitisation and its discontents

      The band of analogue holdouts is gradually dwindling. Because they are so few and so large, the holdouts are valuable: any technology firm that can persuade the Beatles to go digital will reap fat rewards. Theft provides another stimulus. All the analogue holdouts are widely available online—just not legally. That seems to be persuading even Harry Potter to look more closely at digital distribution. As Neil Blair of the Christopher Little agency, which represents J.K. Rowling, admits, holding the books back from e-readers “is not the best strategy for combating piracy”.

    • U.S. targeting China in new anti-piracy drive

      The United States will make China “a significant focus” of its beefed-up efforts to fight global piracy and counterfeiting of U.S. goods ranging from CDs to manufactured products, a U.S. official said on Wednesday.
      A customs officer displays a counterfeit branded mobile phone at a rubbish dump site in Kunming

      A customs officer displays a counterfeit branded mobile phone at a rubbish dump site in Kunming, Yunnan province April 26, 2010.

      “It’s fair to say China raises a particularly troubling set of issues,” Victoria Espinel, the U.S. intellectual property enforcement coordinator, said in prepared testimony to the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee.

      “Therefore, China will be a significant focus of our enforcement efforts as we address intellectual property infringement abroad,” Espinel said testifying on the Obama administration’s new intellectual property enforcement strategy, which was mandated by Congress.

    • Fan Feeding Frenzy: AFP’s New EP FTW

      From our view here at Bandcamp HQ, yesterday’s launch of Amanda Palmer Performs the Popular Hits of Radiohead on Her Magical Ukulele less resembled a record release than a coordinated strike of ravenous piranha. In one three minute period, her fanbase snapped up $15,000 in music and merch. It didn’t let up much from there: 4,000 digital EPs were sold, the vinyl sold out, most of the high end packages disappeared in minutes, and at the time of this writing, it looks like every other package will be gone in a matter of days. Late last night I caught up with Amanda’s Man-Who-Make-Internet-Go, Sean Francis, just before he passed out (he’d slept five hours in the last 48).

    • Google Spent $100 Million Defending Viacom Suit

      We wrote about all the top-notch lawyers Google used defending its YouTube division against Viacom’s copyright claims.

    • The copyright cops

      In fact, as a glance at the composition of the PPCA’s board underlines, the agency is run largely by and for the record industry. The board is stacked with record industry executives such as Warner’s Ed St John, Sony’s Denis Handlin and Universal’s George Ash, along with former Go-Betweens drummer Lindy Morrison and prominent artist manager Bill Cullen. Representing around 75 per cent of the recorded music industry by sales, the PPCA is effectively a legalised cartel. (Like APRA, it even has a special dispensation from the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission to operate as a monopolistic collection agency.)

    • ACTA

      • Could the EU Walk Away From ACTA?

        Over the past week, I have had several posts on ACTA in the wake of the most recent leaked text, including a scorecard on the major remaining areas of disagreement, one assessing the growing rift between the U.S. and E.U., Canadian positions on ACTA, the changed U.S. position on anti-circumvention rules, and a look at geographical indications, a key issue for the EU. On top of these posts, there is additional information disclosed last weekend that Luc Devigne, the lead EU negotiator is taking on new responsibilities (though the EU says he will continue on ACTA).

      • Continuing secrecy on ACTA is unacceptable

        The main progressive group in the European Parliament today complained to EU Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht, that Euro MPs have been denied the documents on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations.

        Mr De Gucht today held a one-hour discussion with members of the Committee on Civil Liberties, Justice and Home Affairs at the European Parliament. But S&D MEPs said there could be no serious debate since members do not know the content of the negotiations.

Clip of the Day

Jason Dixon Closing Remarks of DCBSDCon – BSD is Still Dying


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5 Comments

  1. pawel said,

    July 23, 2010 at 6:10 am

    Gravatar

    BSD is not STILL dying, but it’s already dead. It runs on some hardware, but just because nobody cared to replace it by Linux yet. Bull Shit Daily can make stupid videos, but this doesn’t change an obvious fact.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    What about the many devices that still run BSD?

    twitter Reply:

    BSD is free software and free software can never really die. Developers overwhelmingly prefer copyleft licenses that protect their rights and those of their users better than BSD, but there is no need for the acrimony that Microsoft likes to create between BSD proponents and GNU. Sensible people devote their attention to more serious threats to software freedom than the small benefit that belligerents might gain from BSD exploitation. Non free code always goes stale, regardless of the excellence of it’s source.

    pawel Reply:

    Hi,

    Yes, open source code never dies. I meant BSD distributions, it’s very likely they’ll die soon or some can even say they’re already dead.

    @Roy

    Which devices? :) Apple devices afaik doesn’t run BSD kernel (in the meaning – kfreebsd or some other bsd distribution’s kernel), but there’s userspace taken from BSD.

    Dr. Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Which devices?

    SideKick AFAIK, but it’s dying in Microsoft’s hands.

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