07.27.10

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Links 27/7/2010: Dell Sells Ubuntu Over Phone; Linux-based Pandora Runs Mortal Kombat 3

Posted in News Roundup at 10:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Dell decides to sell Linux boxes over the phone

      TIN BOX FLOGGER Dell has quashed reports that it stopped selling machines preloaded with the Linux distribution Ubuntu.

      It was reported that Dell had given up on its Linux experiment by going back to being a Microsoft only shop, however the firm responded to those stories by telling The INQUIRER that it will continue to sell selected machines with Ubuntu installed. However, punters looking for the capable alternative to Microsoft Windows will have to order by phone.

  • Kernel Space

    • Benchmarking ZFS On FreeBSD vs. EXT4 & Btrfs On Linux

      While ZFS was not faster than EXT4/Btrfs overall, these results certainly show that this file-system is a superior choice to the UFS file-system options on FreeBSD. The performance of ZFS is certainly better than UFS and it has the much greater set of features. It would actually be nice to see ZFS enabled by default in FreeBSD in a forthcoming release or at least for it to be properly integrated with the FreeBSD installer like what has been done with PC-BSD.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Android phone sales triple this year

      “The figures suggest an increasing number of consumers are now asking for Android handsets by name,” said GfK analyst Megan Baldock. “Operating systems are no longer simply a by-product but a key selling point in their own right.”

    • Augen’s $150 Android tablet hits Kmart circular, coming to stores later this week

      We can’t say we’ve heard of Augen before, but the company certainly sparked our interest (and that of Kmart circular readers) this weekend with its $149.99 7-inch Android tablet. Oh yes, you heard right shoppers — the small Florida-based shop is bringing an Android 2.1 tablet with WiFi, 2GB of storage and 256MB of RAM to a store near you for just 150 buckaroos.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Project of the Month, June 2010

    OpenNMS was registered on SourceForge in March of 2000 as project 4141, about two months after NetSaint which later became Nagios. So it has been around for while, almost longer than any other open source management tool.

    It was designed from “day one” to be enterprise-grade, that is to manage tens of thousands, if not hundreds of thousands, of devices from a single instance. Ultimately it will be able to mange unlimited devices with a heavily distributed architecture.

  • If Oracle Bought Every Open Source Company…

    Recently, there was an interesting rumour circulating that Oracle had a war chest of some $70 billion, and was going on an acquisition spree. Despite the huge figure, it had a certain plausibility, because Oracle is a highly successful company with deep pockets and an aggressive management. The rumour was soon denied, but it got me wondering: supposing Oracle decided to spend, if not $70 billion, say $10 billion in an efficient way: how might it do that? And it occurred to me that one rather dramatic use of that money would be to buy up the leading open source companies – all of them.

  • Open Core is a bad word

    Matt Aslett continued his series on Open Core yesterday, and pointed to my post on the subject. He says, and I agree, that we can’t expect companies to call themselves Open Core as a means of differentiating from Open Source if we use pejorative phrases like “crippleware” to refer to Open Core projects.

    But that ship has long since sailed. No company has every described themselves as “an Open Core company” to anyone except VCs, as shorthand for their business model. In the software business, Open Core has no-one defending it, and it has no brand value. In fact, in free software circles, Open Core has been a pejorative phrase almost since it was coined – fauxpen source, popularised by Tarus Balog, cites Open Core as a synonym, and pretty much every mention of it which I have found has not been by a vendor referring to themselves, but by an analyst or commentator referring to a class of business models.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Liberate U.S.: Do government legal files belong to the people?

      Years ago, as young student serfs toiling on the law school legal plantation, several of my peers and I “had a vision.” It was not as big as some, but hopeful and liberating nonetheless, of legal information being freely accessible to all Americans.

    • Navigating the Wild West of non-peer-reviewed science

      Peer review serves as a critical sanity check for the scientific literature. It is by no means a perfect system—flaws ranging from outright fraud to subtle errors can easily slip past reviewers—but peer review can generally identify cases where a paper’s conclusions aren’t supported by the underlying data, or the authors are unaware of other relevant papers, etc. As a result, peer review acts as a key barrier to prevent scientifically unsound ideas from attracting undeserved attention from the scientific community.

  • Standards/Non Standards

    • OpenGL 4.1 Specification Released

      The Khronos Group announced today the release of the OpenGL 4.1 specification, which has been defined by Khronos’ OpenGL Architecture Review Board (ARB). The previous version of the specification, OpenGL 4.0, was unveiled in March.

    • What is Google Punch? A New Google Docs Format

      A Google staff member posted a video on YouTube demonstrating a particular Google Spreadsheet function today, but when she selected a file format to launch – there was a new option on the drop down menu. Called Punch, the video made no mention of the file type and we’ve been unable to find any mention of it elsewhere. Internally, at least, it appears that something very new is in the works at Google Docs.

Leftovers

  • Curated computing is no substitute for the personal and handmade

    But I fear that when analysts slaver over “curated” computing, it’s because they mean “monopoly” computing – computing environments like the iPad where all your apps have to be pre-approved by a single curating entity, one who uses the excuse of safety and consistency to justify this outrageous power grab. Of course, these curators are neither a guarantee of safety, nor of quality: continuous revelations about malicious software and capricious, inconsistent criteria for evaluating software put the lie to this. Even without them, it’s pretty implausible to think that an app store with hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of programs could be blindly trusted to be free from bugs, malware, and poor aesthetic choices.

  • HP guns for printer ink competition

    HP has asked the US International Trade Commission (ITC) to have a look at some of the inkjet ink supplies and components that are being shipped to the Land of the Free.

  • Science

    • What Caffeine Actually Does to Your Brain

      More important than just fitting in, though, caffeine actually binds to those receptors in efficient fashion, but doesn’t activate them—they’re plugged up by caffeine’s unique shape and chemical makeup. With those receptors blocked, the brain’s own stimulants, dopamine and glutamate, can do their work more freely—”Like taking the chaperones out of a high school dance,” Braun writes in an email. In the book, he ultimately likens caffeine’s powers to “putting a block of wood under one of the brain’s primary brake pedals.”

    • Quark discoverer: Decoherence, language and complexes

      BEFORE my interview with Murray Gell-Mann officially begins, we have lunch. We are at the Santa Fe Institute (SFI) in the foothills of New Mexico’s Sangre de Cristo mountains, and here, lunch is a communal affair.

  • Security/Aggression

    • Guv: At least 2 state workers behind ‘The List’
    • The quiet threat: Cyber spies are already in your systems

      Is your company’s data under surveillance by foreign spybots looking for any competitive advantages or weaknesses they can exploit? This might sound farfetched, but such electronic espionage is real. It’s an insidious security threat that’s a lot more common than you probably realize.

    • Sixteen Years in Prison for Videotaping the Police?

      The ACLU of Maryland is defending Anthony Graber, who potentially faces sixteen years in prison if found guilty of violating state wiretap laws because he recorded video of an officer drawing a gun during a traffic stop. In a trend that we’ve seen across the country, police have become increasingly hostile to bystanders recording their actions. You can read some examples here, here and here.

    • Police chief: Yes, my plods sometimes forget photo laws

      The Metropolitan Police Force cannot be guaranteed to abide by the law when it comes to allowing the public their right to take photographs.

      That was the startling admission made last week by Met Police Commissioner John Stephenson under sharp questioning from Liberal Democrat London Assembly Member Dee Doocey during a Police Authority Meeting on 22 July in City Hall. Video footage of the exchange is available on the Metropolitan Police Authority site, with relevant footage from around the 68 minute mark.

    • Who controls the off switch?

      We have a new paper on the strategic vulnerability created by the plan to replace Britain’s 47 million meters with smart meters that can be turned off remotely. The energy companies are demanding this facility so that customers who don’t pay their bills can be switched to prepayment tariffs without the hassle of getting court orders against them.

  • Finance

    • SpongeTech Strikes Out in Bankruptcy

      SpongeTech Delivery Systems, which makes soap-filled sponges in such shapes as (appropriately) SpongeBob SquarePants and whose advertising has dazzled fans at sporting events, has filed for bankruptcy protection

      According to Crain’s New York Business, the Manhattan sponge maker’s demise began after the company’s chief executive was charged with fraud in May. Prosecutors said CEO Michael Metter helped to fake 99% of the company’s supposed sales, and he was charged with conspiracy and obstruction of justice.

    • Hedge Fund Owner in Rothstein Case Agrees to Surrender Bulk of Assets

      Fort Lauderdale, Fla., millionaire George Levin, whose Banyon Investors Fund was the primary feeder fund that funneled about $830 million into Scott Rothstein’s Ponzi scheme, has agreed to surrender the bulk of his assets under a bankruptcy settlement.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • US Newspaper starts charging online commenters token registration fee

      Newspapers have come up with various methods to monetise online content; for example, New Zealand’s The National Business Review has introduced a paywall for some of its online material.

      However, The Sun Chronicle in Attleboro, Massachusetts may be taking the search for new revenue streams just a little too far. It has announced that it will start charging its readers to comment on stories on the paper’s website. Before posting their thoughts on any story, readers must register their name, address, phone number, and a credit card number with the paper. Registered readers are charged a one-time fee of 99 cents for their commenting privileges.

    • Court: Violating Terms of Service Is Not a Crime, But Bypassing Technical Barriers Might Be
    • Privileged Information in a ‘WikiLeaks’ World

      “The advent of something like WikiLeaks kind of makes the traditional concept of prior restraint obsolete,” says Lee Levine, a name partner at Levine Sullivan (Levine is not advising The Times or any parties on the WikiLeaks matter).

    • UK ISP TalkTalk Monitoring its Customers Online Activity Without Consent

      Broadband ISP TalkTalk UK could be about to incur the wrath of privacy campaigners after some of its customers spotted that their online website browsing activity was being monitored and recorded without consent. The situation has caused a significant amount of concern with many end-users worried about the impact upon their personal privacy.

    • Italy: Internet press freedom under threat

      Guilia Bongiorno, president of the parliamentary judiciary committee, decided on 21 July that amendments to paragraph 29 of article 1 of the so-called Wiretapping Bill were “unacceptable”. The amendments targeted the article’s extension of the print press rectification obligation to the web. By eliminating even the possibility that this complex topic will be debated in parliament, the deicison threatens to make freedom of information on the web its first victim.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Intellectual Property Rights and Innovation: Evidence from the Human Genome

      This paper provides empirical evidence on how intellectual property (IP) on a given technology affects subsequent innovation. To shed light on this question, I analyze the sequencing of the human genome by the public Human Genome Project and the private firm Celera, and estimate the impact of Celera’s gene-level IP on subsequent scientific research and product development outcomes. Celera’s IP applied to genes sequenced first by Celera, and was removed when the public effort re-sequenced those genes.

    • Copyrights

      • Fighting With Teenagers: A Copyright Story

        I signed on to the website that is most offensive to me, got an account, and typed my name into the Search box. I got 4,000 hits. Four thousand copies of my music were being offered for “trade.” (I put “trade” in quotes because of course it’s not really a trade, since nobody’s giving anything up in exchange for what they get. It’s just making illegal unauthorized copies, and calling it “trade” legitimizes it in an utterly fraudulent way.) I clicked on the most recent addition, and I sent the user who was offering that music an email. This is what I wrote:

        Hey there! Can I get you to stop trading my stuff? It’s totally not cool with me. Write me if you have any questions, I’m happy to talk to you about this. jason@jasonrobertbrown.com

        Thanks,
        J.

        Nothing too formal or threatening, just a casual sort of suggestion.

        But I wasn’t content to do it with just one user. I started systematically going through the pages, and eventually I wrote to about four hundred users.

        The broad majority of people I wrote to actually wrote back fairly quickly, apologized sincerely, and then marked their music “Not for trade.” I figured that was a pretty good result, but I did find it odd – why list the material at all if you’re not going to trade it?

      • Woot To AP: You Owe Us $17.50 For Copying Our Content

        When Woot announced last week that it was going to be acquired by Amazon.com, just about everyone wrote about it. However, of the many media organizations that covered the deal, only one has floated a policy that would charge bloggers for the kind of excerpting that’s historically been considered fair use. So, when the Associated Press, in writing about the Woot-Amazon deal, borrowed some of Woot’s own verbiage, the deal-a-day site struck back and told the wire service it expected $17.50 for the words. Or the AP could just buy two pairs of Sennheiser in-ear headphones and call it even.

      • RIAA suffers big setback in Tenenbaum case

        The music industry suffered another high-profile legal setback on Friday when a federal judge reduced a damages award against a file sharer found liable for copyright violations.

      • Judge Cuts File-Sharing Fine to $67,500
      • RIAA Appeals Reduction of Tenenbaum P2P Judgment

        Disagrees with Judge Nancy Gertner’s ruling that the $675,000 fine is “unconstitutionally excessive” and formally appeals the case to the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit.

      • Curse of the Greedy Copyright Holders
      • Indian Ocean Pokes at Record Companies, Gives away Latest Album for Free [Kill Piracy]

        Indian Ocean, a favorite of PI team (and our readers) has poked at Recording companies and decided to give away their latest album, 16/330 Khajoor Road for free. The album has seven songs and Indian Ocean is giving away free song from the album starting July 25th, 2010.

      • BitTorrent Releasers Slice The Top Off Movie Piracy Pyramid

        Online movie piracy has largely enjoyed a fairly predictable structure during the last decade. New releases have generally hit the Internet on high-security ‘topsites’ first and then trickled down to become widely available on peer-to-peer networks. TorrentFreak now takes a look at a new wave of release groups who operate with a fresh and BitTorrent-powered philosophy.

      • Peter Sunde Banned From Operating The Pirate Bay

        Earlier this year The Pirate Bay’s co-founders Gottfrid Svartholm and Fredrik Neij were banned from operating the site by a Swedish court. Today, The Pirate Bay’s former spokesperson Peter Sunde was added to this list, and now faces a fine of nearly $70,000 if he does not comply with the decision.

      • Copyright Finally Getting Around To Destroying Player Piano Music… One Century Late

        I’m reminded of this bit of history thanks to this story, brought to my attention by Glyn Moody, about how Jon “Maddog” Hall wanted to try to preserve some deteriorating piano rolls, but discovered (much to his annoyance) that copyright may be getting in the way. He points out that many old player piano rolls are deteriorating, and the small group of remaining collectors are hoping to preserve the music by digitizing them.

Clip of the Day

Ultimate Mortal Kombat 3 SNES – [Linux-based] Pandora emulation


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