07.30.10

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Links 30/7/2010: Mandriva One 2010 Spring KDE Reviewed, Neoclassical Economics

Posted in News Roundup at 5:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Contents

GNU/Linux

  • The Best Way to Learn Linux – Ubuntu

    You have no doubt heard some of the “I lost everything on my hard drive” stories that have come from feeble attempts to install various flavors of Linux in a dual boot system with Windows.
    Partitioning hard drives is probably not a good idea for the typical computer user, but the desire to learn more about Linux while keeping the Windows option open is entirely too mouth watering for the eager mind to resist. I have a story or two myself. Here are the basics I have learned about Linux and the best way to learn Linux while preserving ALL of your Windows files, etc.

  • Applications

    • Instructionals

      • Open Source Toolchains for Linux Systems Administrators

        Software developers are very familiar with toolchains, series of programs where the output of one program forms the input for the next. A free software example would be using the GNU Emacs editor, the GNU bin-utils and the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) to write a program. Software developers frequently create programs and subroutines that are used in other programs rather than recoding the same process over and over again.

  • Distributions

    • UberStudent To Offer Online Courses

      UberStudent is upping the ante with its plans to offer free online courses, using the Moodle learning environment, to teach students to academically excel with its platform. UberStudent dubs itself ‘a free Linux learning platform for learning, doing, and teaching academic computing at the higher education and advanced secondary levels’.

      “I began UberStudent as a way to place sets of smart and dedicated computing tools, and just the right amount of support, into the hands of college and college-bound secondary students,” said Stephen Ewen, UberStudent’s founder and lead developer. “At core, it’s an academic success curriculum in the form of an installable, ready-to-go learning platform. With UberStudent, students can learn to really excel at the skills and habits they must have to succeed in college,” he added.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mandriva One 2010 Spring KDE

        Like Mandriva Control Center, for example. It’s a very user friendly distro. It just needs to be a bit leaner, faster and less obnoxious to look at. If you want a heavyweight distro with a general ease-of-use, speed and looks, with a good KDE implementation and the latest software, plus all the proprietary drivers out of the box and um, music playing while the OS boots, I’d recommend going for Sabayon rather than Mandriva. The two fall in the same category, but Sabayon seems to be winning.

    • Debian Family

Free Software/Open Source

  • Does Neoclassical Economics Rot Your Brain?

    This is, of course, ridiculous. There’s no reason all lemonade stands need to be for-profit enterprises. Kids learn a variety of lessons from lemonade stands. Charging might teach valuable lessons about budgeting and self-sufficiency, but giving lemonade away can teach equally valuable lessons about generosity and public service. Savage apparently doesn’t care what the girls’ parents might have hoped their kids would get out of the experience. The mere fact that the girls were failing to conform to the neoclassical model of homo economicus was enough to condemn their activity.

    That’s a frivolous example, to be sure, but the same mixture of intellectual laziness and arrogance crops up in more serious contexts. I’ve written before about this Richard Epstein column where he criticizes the free software movement for, basically, failing to conform to the assumptions of the neoclassical model:

    The open source movement shares many features with a workers’ commune, and is likely to fail for the same reason: it cannot scale up to meet its own successes. To see the long-term difficulty, imagine a commune entirely owned by its original workers who share pro rata in its increases in value. The system might work well in the early days when the workforce remains fixed. But what happens when a given worker wants to quit? Does that worker receive in cash or kind his share of the gain in value during the period of his employment? If not, then the run-up in value during his period of employment will be gobbled up by his successor – a recipe for immense resentment. Yet that danger can be ducked only by creating a capital structure that gives present employees separable interests in either debt or equity in exchange for their contributions to the company.

    This passage bears no relationship to reality. Free software projects scale up just fine without “a capital structure that gives present employees separable interests in either debt or equity.” Contributors are not employees or shareholders. The inability to cash out does not, in fact, generate “immense resentment.” And Epstein could have learned all of this pretty easily if he’d talked to a few people in the free software community before writing his column. But why let facts clutter up a perfectly good theory?

  • Swivel Viewer, an open source embeddable album viewer

    If you prefer to host a viewer and images on your own site, check out
    the Swivel Viewer site at code.google.com, where you’ll find an open source embeddable album viewer that also supports zooming and panning.

  • Military Open-Source Software Could Increase Flexibility, Lower Cost

    Researchers at the Georgia Institute of Technology are helping the U.S. military analyze and develop the advantages of open-source software — programs that make their source code open to others so it can be changed and improved.

    Bringing many minds to bear on a given program can lead to software that is both high quality and low cost, or even free. For example, the Linux operating system, which licenses its basic source code for free, is now used to run many servers in companies, government and academia.

  • Europe’s Tender Words About FOSS
  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Data

      • Science Online 2010: What shall I say?

        Seriously – is there any exciting and new we could communally do before in the next month? My guess it would have to be in the area of data-driven chemistry. I was talking with Jean-Claude Bradley at breakfast about liberating chemical reactions from the literature. There will be new science in that. Not world-shattering, but worthy.

      • Open Data needs Open Source tools

        The biggest problem many data-driven apps contests have is that it’s too hard to get started. A developer has to download some strange dataset off of a website like data.gov or the National Data Catalog, prune it, massage it, usually fix it, and then convert it to their database system of choice, and then they can start building their app. It reminds me of being a Linux user before APT existed. While fun, it was still a hassle to get all dependencies and compile everything from source.

  • Programming

Leftovers

  • D.C. judge issues injunction against news organization

    D.C. Superior Court Judge Judith Bartnoff issued a temporary restraining order against the National Law Journal last Friday after she discovered the news organization was planning to publish a story regarding the fee dispute between District of Columbia-based law firm Hogan Lovells and one of its former clients, beverage maker POM Wonderful. POM had hired Hogan Lovells to represent the company during a regulatory investigation.

  • Glenn Beck’s gold-investment scam/scheme: an explanatory infographic

    Jess Bachman, infographic designer extraordinaire, shares this new work which shows how Glenn Beck “uses his influence to peddle dubious information and endorse fraudulent companies, and how how those companies go about scamming fear ridden consumers into buying terrible investments.”

  • U.S. sues Oracle, alleges software contract fraud

    The Justice Department said on Thursday it sued Oracle Corp, alleging it defrauded the federal government on a software contract in effect from 1998 to 2006 that involved hundreds of millions of dollars in sales.

  • Security/Aggression

    • Cell phone eavesdropping enters script-kiddie phase

      Independent researchers have made good on a promise to release a comprehensive set of tools needed to eavesdrop on cell phone calls that use the world’s most widely deployed mobile technology.

    • Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, Giving Up On Victory, Not War

      If you ever needed convincing that the world of American “national security” is well along the road to profligate lunacy, read the striking three-part “Top Secret America” series by Dana Priest and William Arkin that the Washington Post published last week. When it comes to the expansion of the U.S. Intelligence Community (IC), which claims 17 major agencies and organizations, the figures are staggering.

  • Environment/Wildlife

    • Scientists warn of global warming threat to marine food chain

      Numbers of phytoplankton – the microscopic organisms that sustain the marine food chain – are plummeting as sea surface temperatures rise

    • Global warming pushes 2010 temperatures to record highs

      Global temperatures in the first half of the year were the hottest since records began more than a century ago, according to two of the world’s leading climate research centres.

      Scientists have also released what they described as the “best evidence yet” of rising long-term temperatures. The report is the first to collate 11 different indicators – from air and sea temperatures to melting ice – each one based on between three and seven data sets, dating back to between 1850 and the 1970s.

  • Finance

    • Citigroup Pays $75 Million to Settle Subprime Claims

      Citigroup agreed on Thursday to pay $75 million to settle federal claims that it failed to disclose vast holdings of subprime mortgage investments that were deteriorating during the financial crisis and ultimately crippled the bank.

    • Federal Reserve’s James Bullard: Long-term deflation is a possibility

      A top Federal Reserve official warned Thursday that the nation faces the risk of an extended period of falling prices known as deflation, such as that experienced by Japan over the past two decades.
      This Story

      *
      Fed official warns of deflation risk for U.S.
      *
      Fed ready to step in if economy relapses
      *
      Ezra Klein: The economy can’t recover until the economy recovers

      James Bullard, president of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis, argues in a new paper that large-scale quantitative easing — or purchases of government bonds and other assets by the central bank — would be the best policy tool to prevent that possibility, though he doesn’t endorse making such a move now.

    • SEC charges billionaire Texas brothers who donate to GOP with fraud

      Sam and Charles Wyly, billionaire Texas brothers who gained prominence spending millions of dollars on conservative political causes, committed fraud by using secret overseas accounts to generate more than $550 million in profit through illegal stock trades, the Securities and Exchange Commission charged Thursday.

    • Obama hails auto bailout as good news in Michigan

      President Barack Obama on Friday heralded the recent turnaround for U.S. automakers, arguing that thousands of jobs and increased production vindicate his unpopular decision to bailout the industry.

      With Americans facing a still-limping economy and potentially pivotal congressional elections in three months, Obama is seizing on the positive new trends in the auto industry as evidence of broader economic good news. He launched an intensive campaign to highlight the story as a concrete area of improvement with direct ties to his administration’s actions.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Senators fail to agree on privacy approach

      After six months worth of allegations of privacy invasions involving some of the largest Internet companies, it should come as no surprise that politicians are calling for new laws. The fact that it’s an election year probably made it inevitable.

    • Second Student Sues School District Over Webcam Spying

      A webcam scandal at a suburban Philadelphia school district expanded Tuesday to include a second student alleging his school-issued laptop secretly snapped images of him.

    • DHS tries to defuse privacy criticism, asks for help

      A top Homeland Security official on Wednesday sought to downplay concerns about privacy and Internet monitoring raised by recent reports of the department’s activities.

    • Court Says Privacy Advocate May Publish Social Security Numbers

      A federal appeals court has ordered Virginia’s attorney general to back away from threats of suing a privacy advocate who publishes Social Security numbers of elected officials on the internet.

    • White House Seeks Easier FBI Access To Internet Records, Blocks Oversight Attempt… Just As FBI Caught Cheating On Exam To Stop Abuse

      Oh, and just to make this all more comically depressing, just as I finished reading both of these stories, I saw a story about a new investigation into reports that FBI agents were caught cheating on an exam, which was designed to get them to stop abusing surveillance tools. Yes, you read that right. After all the reports of abuse of surveillance tools, the FBI set up a series of tests to train FBI agents how to properly go about surveillance without breaking the law… and a bunch of FBI agents allegedly cheated on the test that’s supposed to stop them from “cheating” on the law. And, not just a few. From the quotes, it sounds like this cheating was “widespread.” But, of course, it might not matter, since the requirements for surveillance are being lowered, oversight is being blocked, and apparently the White House is willing to retroactively “legalize” any illegal surveillance anyway.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Broadband speed – the facts

      You may have read this morning about Ofcom’s report on broadband speeds. We thought it would be helpful to set out why speeds vary and what you can expect from an ISP like TalkTalk.

    • Ofcom Slams ISPs For Misleading Broadband Speeds

      In its latest delve into the state of the nation’s broadband provision, the regulator praised infrastructure providers for a 25 percent increase in the speed of the average actual fixed-line residential connection. The average connection was advertised to have a speed of up to 10Mbps in May 2010, compared to 8 percent in April 2009.

    • Ofcom Faces Backlash For Broadband Criticism
  • 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.

    • What IP is really about

      From my spam folder:

      You could be sitting on a potential gold mine!

      It’s right under your nose, in the form of intellectual property created by you & your lab. Don’t let your invention representing millions in potential revenue sit idle simply because you aren’t aware IP & patent protection laws and other key aspects of moving innovations from your lab to the market..

    • Copyrights

      • Copy Fight

        In a recent Wired.com article, Gibson was certainly candid about the money-making potential of his approach. “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,” he said.

        But in my phone conversation with him, he also characterized his approach as the best way to discourage infringing activity. “There are these folks out there who say, ‘Oh, they should send out a takedown letter.’ But people have been sending takedown letters for over a decade now and it’s had little or no effect on infringements. Infringements continue to grow.”

      • British Library Worries That Copyright May Be Hindering Research

        Michael Geist points us to the news that The British Library has apparently come out with a new report entitled Driving UK Research — Is copyright a help or a hindrance? The paper brings together 13 different researchers to all share their opinions, and the general consensus appears to be that copyright today is a serious problem in need of reform (and, no, the “Digital Economy Act” in the UK didn’t help at all).

      • Dear Warner Bros., It’s Not ‘Word Of Mouth’ If You Have To Pay People To Promote Your Movies

        There was an amusing post this week at TheWrap.com discussing how the various Hollywood movie studios are confused about the basics of social media and Twitter. You may remember (or, maybe not), back in 2003, when Hollywood suddenly started blaming text messaging for certain movies failing, because some kids would go to a movie, realize it sucks, and quickly warn their friends to stay away. Of course, Hollywood blamed text messaging, instead of the fact that they made a crappy movie, and couldn’t rely on their old methods of squeezing a ton of money out of people before word got around. In the age of Twitter, of course, this has only increased, so the studios started blaming Twitter, calling it “the Twitter Effect” and proceeding to freak out about it.

      • Our Rotting Video-Game Heritage

        Diverse technologies, missing or secret documentation, and hostile copyright laws threaten video-game preservation.

      • Perfect 10 Loses Again, As Court Says DMCA Notices Need To Be Properly Filed

        Just last week we were talking about Perfect 10′s lawsuit against Google in Canada, where we noted that in Perfect 10′s own bragging press release, it effectively admits that its takedown filings were not properly filed. They admit that they just sent images to Google saying that it owned the images, without telling Google where they were actually located to take down. This was the same charge that Rapidshare recently made against Perfect 10, noting that the company seemed to purposely not want companies to take down their images, so that it could sue.

      • ACTA

        • From Wellington to Lucerne: Tracking the Major ACTA Changes

          While the parties have not formally disclosed it, the immediate ACTA schedule now appears to include discussions between the U.S. and the EU next month in Washington followed by a full round of talks (Round Ten) in Japan in September. Some have criticized the exclusion of the remaining ACTA countries in the August discussions, but as I posted earlier, the ACTA text has really come down to a U.S. vs. EU document with the remaining countries picking a side. The sticking point in Washington will undoubtedly be scope of the treaty, with the EU pushing for inclusion of geographical indications and the U.S. making it clear they are willing to cave on almost anything that does not involve changes to domestic law. Geographical indications would require change, however, which is what led to my post speculating about the possibility of an ACTA without Europe.

Clip of the Day

Free Software Movement


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