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08.31.10

Links 31/8/2010: Linux Developer Community From Wind River, Multitouch Tablet

Posted in News Roundup at 8:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Burning Man’s open source cell phone system could help save the world

    Today I bring you a story that has it all: a solar-powered, low-cost, open source cellular network that’s revolutionizing coverage in underprivileged and off-grid spots. It uses VoIP yet works with existing cell phones. It has pedigreed founders. Best of all, it is part of the sex, drugs and art collectively known as Burning Man. Where do you want me to begin?

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Thousands of Firefox add-ons already work on Firefox 4
      • Firefox 4.0 Feature Freeze Delayed to September 10

        In the first half of September 2010 Mozilla will deliver a new Beta development milestone of Firefox 4.0 which will contain the same features as the final version of the next major iteration of the open source browser.

      • Firefox 4 Review: App Tab, Panorama and Sync

        Mozilla has recently released the fourth beta of the Firefox 4 browser. I have been testing it since the first beta and I am happy to see the progress and the addition of new features with each beta. I have held on the review of Firefox 4 because most of the features are still unstable or not in place. With the release of beta 4, things are becoming more stable and plenty of new (and revolutionary) features are added to it, so it would be a great time to do up a review. There will probably be another one or two more beta before we see the release candidate and the final version.

  • Healthcare

    • EU: International team developing open source hospital information system

      An international team of software developers specialising in medical systems is working on a hospital information system. Earlier this month on the OSOR Forge, the project began soliciting others to join the team. “If you are willing to participate of this great community, there are plenty of things to be done, from translation, quality control, adding new functionality to localization.”

      The developers, including specialists from Brazil, Germany, Greece and France, aim to build a system for managing electronic medical records, manage hospital information and health information. Services include prescriptions, billing, patient information, managing epidemiological and statistical data and management of medical stock. The entire project is published using the GNU GPL open source licence.

  • Solaris

    • StormOS Hail Beta – A very stormy experience

      On paper, StormOS is an excellent technological concept: it is based on Nexenta, which itself is based on Solaris, and packaged with Ubuntu user-land and package management system. In theory, you get Ubuntu-like behavior on top of a UNIX kernel. Sounds like a healthy marriage.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • The Gnashing of teeth

      For better or worse, I can think of no other single tool whose development would do more to give GNU/Linux parity on the desktop. You can tell the priority that many groups in the community place on Gnash from the fact that Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, and openSUSE

      Still, the Gnash project has announced this milestone before. In 2007, Gnash announced compatibility with Youtube videos — only to have the goal posts moved by the site’s decision to standardize on a more recent version of Flash. In 2008, Gnash could, in fact, handle Youtube videos, but not small bits of Flash on sites like WordPress, where it is used to give a graphical representation of page hits. So, I was prepared to be disappointed.

    • Software Freedom Day is Coming!

      On September 18, it is international Software Freedom Day. Software Freedom Day aims to celebrate Free Software and the people behind it. It wants to spread the word about Free Software and help people find each other.

  • Government

    • Learning from project success and failure

      When big UK government IT-related projects have failed, people have asked: how could such basic mistakes be made and repeated? In some cases it was because of what in the US is called – and I apologise for repeating such a grotesque phrase – the “normalization of deviancy”.

    • EU: Rise in use of EUPL for publishing open source software

      The European Union’s open source licence, (European Union Public Licence, EUPL) is being used more and more. A third of the projects available on the European Commission’s software development site, the OSOR Forge, 47 out of 147 projects, are published using the EUPL. On Sourceforge, a commercial venture for open source software development based in the US, the licence is now selected by 49 projects. One year ago there were non.

      The EUPL was written to be used for distributing open source software applications built for or by the European Commission. No wonder that on the OSOR Forge, many of the projects using the EUPL are published by European Commission and the EU’s member states.

      The EUPL was reviewed favourably last month in a document on copyright an licences French Ministry for the Budget, Public Accounts and the Civil Service. “The EUPL can be used and produced, in the framework of some litigation, in courts and administrations of numerous EU member states, without the obligation or the risk to call upon a sworn translator. The EUPL is also compliant with the European Member States laws.”

    • UK: ‘Government use of ODF would help break vendor lock-in’

      A UK government’s decicion to use ODF (Open Document Format) for its electronic documents, would help public administrations overcome vendor lock-in for office applications, says Liam Maxwell, councillor for Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead. He says the move will start the process to the billions of savings that British government needs to find in unproductive areas of spending.

      According to Maxwell, the borough wants to start using OpenOffice, an open source suite of office productivity tools on many of its 1400 workstations. It also wants to increase the use of free Internet-based office tools. “We are slowly moving our councillors over to use Google-docs.”

    • EE: Tallin city and college fund poll and referenda application

      Diara, an open source application allowing public administrations to us the Internet to organise polls, referendums, petitions, public inquiries and allowing to record electronic votes using electronic ID cards, is developed with support from the city of Tallin and the College of Technology in Estonia.

      A first version of Diara was made available at the OSOR Forge, the OSOR’s software development website last week. Says Hillar Põldmaa, one of the developers, Diara: “We just finished the registration, and we are now starting to upload the code of the application, including the English documentation.” The Estonian version is already available on Google’s forge.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Lewis Hyde, author of Common as Air: Revolution, Art, and Ownership

      The point being: for a long time I’ve been aware of the commons narrative in regard to ideas and for a long time I’ve thought of something as old as patent law as being among the methods we’ve devised for moving potentially private knowledge into the public sphere.

    • Scholars Test Web Alternative to Peer Review

      Now some humanities scholars have begun to challenge the monopoly that peer review has on admission to career-making journals and, as a consequence, to the charmed circle of tenured academe. They argue that in an era of digital media there is a better way to assess the quality of work. Instead of relying on a few experts selected by leading publications, they advocate using the Internet to expose scholarly thinking to the swift collective judgment of a much broader interested audience.

Leftovers

  • AMD jettisons ATI brand name, makes Radeon its own
  • Breaking the Internet in one easy step

    For about an hour on Friday, about 1 to 2 percent of the Internet went higgly-piggly.

    The confusion was caused when a major Internet registry — known as Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC) — inserted additional information into the database entries used by routers to direct data packets to the correct destinations. The addition, which was part of its research into Internet infrastructure, complied with standards, but many routers — including those made by Cisco — could not handle the change, said a representative for the registry in a statement published Friday.

  • Science

    • Heaps of Fossils From Evolutionary ‘Big Bang’ Discovered

      One of paleontology’s most revered fossil sites now has a baby brother. Scientists have discovered a group of astonishing fossils high in the Canadian Rockies, just 40 kilometers from the famous Burgess Shale location.

      [...]

      Until now, paleontologists had thought one reason the Burgess fossils were so well preserved was because they settled in thick deposits at the bottom of an ancient ocean protected by a submarine cliff. But the Stanley Glacier fossils weren’t formed in the presence of such a cliff, suggesting that creatures can be fossilized in amazing detail in other environments.

  • Security/Aggression

    • Innocent man spent three months in jail after CCTV blunder cops mistook rose for knife

      AN innocent man was thrown in jail for three months – because he was carrying a rose.

      Cops viewing CCTV thought the single rose Stephen McAleer had in his hand as he walked home was a knife.

      He was arrested and sent to Barlinnie Jail on remand. And 28-year-old Stephen’s prison ordeal only ended when he was cleared at a two-day trial this week.

      A CCTV expert enhanced the images and testified that the item he was carrying was a rose in a plastic sleeve, which tapers to a knife-like point at the end of the stem.

    • Israeli actors to boycott new West Bank theatre

      Dozens of Israeli actors, playwrights and directors have signed a letter refusing to take part in productions by leading theatre companies at a new cultural centre in a West Bank settlement, prompting renewed debate over the legitimacy of artistic boycott.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • The rare earth element big squeeze

      If a conservative is a liberal who just got mugged, then an advocate of government intervention in the economy is nothing more than a free market believer who just realized that China dominates an industry with major implications for national defense and renewable energy technology.

      That’s the primary conclusion to be gleaned from a review of three recent studies of Chinese dominance of rare earth element mining and processing, “Rare Earth Elements: The Global Supply Chain,” a report published by the Congressional Research Service in July, the Government Accountability Office’s “Rare Earth Materials in the Defense Supply Chain,” published in April, and China’s Rare Earth Elements Industry: What Can the West Learn?” published by the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security in March.

  • Finance

    • SATIRE: U.S. Economy Grinds To Halt As Nation Realizes Money Just A Symbolic, Mutually Shared Illusion

      For some Americans, the fog of disbelief surrounding the nation’s epiphany has begun to lift, with many building new lives free from the illusion of money.

      “It’s back to basics for me,” Bernard Polk of Waverly, OH said. “I’m going to till the soil for my own sustenance and get anything else I need by bartering. If I want milk, I’ll pay for it in tomatoes. If need a new hoe, I’ll pay for it in lettuce.”

      When asked, hypothetically, how he would pay for complicated life-saving surgery for a loved one, Polk seemed uncertain.

      “That’s a lot of vegetables, isn’t it?” he said.

    • SEC change makes Goldman top target

      Goldman Sachs is target No. 1 for activist investors looking to shake up corporate boards now that the Securities and Exchange Commission has made it easier for shareholders to nominate directors.

      Corporate governance activists are looking to replace Goldman directors at the firm’s annual meeting next spring unless the board strips Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein of his position as chairman.

    • Axa cuts Goldman stake by half

      Goldman Sachs’ largest investor slashed its stake by more than half in the last quarter as the bank contended with civil fraud charges by US securities regulators and brutal market conditions that crimped its results.

    • Axa cuts stake in Goldman Sachs: documents

      Goldman Sachs last month disclosed that its profits had slumped 82 percent in the second quarter when the company was hit by a massive US fraud settlement and a new British tax on bonuses.

    • Get Briefed: George Walker

      Prior to working at Neuberger Berman, Walker was a partner at Goldman Sachs ( GS – news – people ) and part of the company’s partnership committee.

      Walker is on the Mayor’s Board for New York City as well as the board of directors of Local Initiatives Support Cooperation. He is also the vice chair of the board of trustees of The New School.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • How Involved Should The Government Be In Protecting Online Privacy?

      Rotenberg responds that individuals really can’t do much in response, and uses the example of Google Buzz’s privacy screwup as an example. But, the response to that sort of proves Harper’s point rather than Rotenberg’s. Right after Google screwed up with the Buzz launch, in a manner that caused serious privacy concerns, the public and the press responded within hours, calling out Google for what it had done, and forcing Google to backtrack almost immediately and admit that it had screwed up. What more could the government have done? If it was solely up to the government, there would have been a months (years?) long investigation, and finally some sort of wrist-slap and a fine. The public response to Google’s misstep and the concerns that raised among many people about their privacy in using Google seemed to function fine, and should (one hopes) cause Google to think a lot more carefully before making a similar mistake in the future.

    • Trying to exclude WikiLeaks from shield law stinks

      One of the odors emanating from Washington, D.C., these days is from journalists marking their territory.

      Whatever awkwardness previously existed as journalists desiring a federal shield law wooed the legislators they’re supposed to be watching, it’s now worse. In recent weeks, the two groups have publicly joined forces to exclude WikiLeaks from possible protection under the bill. In doing so, journalists have managed both to look territorial and to endanger the independence they’re striving to create.

      On Aug. 4, Sen. Charles Schumer, the New York Democrat and Senate sponsor of the Free Flow of Information Act, announced that he intended to include in the proposed law new language specifying that WikiLeaks and organizations like it would not be able to use the act to protect the identities of confidential sources.

      [...]

      As comforting as it might be to “real” journalists to incorporate editorial oversight into a shield law and to use it to distinguish further between the “us” who are entitled to the law’s protections and the “them” who are not, at least two dangers exist in that approach.

      First, does anyone — including the most mainstream of traditional journalists — really think it a good idea that Congress and judges define, analyze and evaluate what is appropriate “editorial oversight”? For decades, news organizations have struggled to resist those efforts in libel cases and, so far, those struggles have succeeded. If those same organizations now invite legislators and judges into their newsrooms to see how worthy their reporters are of protection under a shield law, they shouldn’t be surprised if the legislators and judges decide to stay.

      Second, is the free flow of information really served if the act’s protections are denied to those who don’t have or practice editorial oversight? As Schumer acknowledged in his statement, the act already contains language that would limit or deny protection to those who provide or publish classified military secrets. Specifically exempting WikiLeaks and other organizations that might otherwise qualify for protection under the act in at least some cases seems designed not to enhance the free flow of information but to channel that information to mainstream sources.

    • Three digital myths

      The release of the Afghan War Diaries on Wikileaks, with stories published in The Guardian, the New York Times and Der Spiegel by agreement with Wikileaks, has made news around the world. Le Monde Diplomatique, in conjunction with Owni and Slate.fr, have also made the documents available online via a dedicated website. The security implications of the leaked material will be discussed for years to come. Meanwhile the release of over 90,000 documents has generated debate on the rising power of digital journalism and social media. Many of the discussions are rooted in what I call internet or digital myths — myths which are rooted in romantic, deterministic notions of technology.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Who Steals the Gene from Off the Common

      The anonymous poem above was written in protest at the enclosure of common land in England – the process of converting the commons to private property and handing it over to a single proprietor. In two rhyming couplets, the poet managed to sum up the massive resentment felt by the commoners, resentment that has found eloquent expression over the last 500 years at the hands of writers as diverse as St Thomas More and Karl Polanyi.

      Economists have told a very different story, however. With a few significant recent exceptions, they portrayed the process of enclosure as benign. Private property avoided the “tragedies of the commons” such as underinvestment and overuse. Thus it allowed an expansion of productive capacity that produced more social wealth – even if unevenly distributed – and helped feed more people. Enclosure, in this story, was a triumph; getting unproductive common resources back into the engine of the market.

    • Copyrights

      • Attacks On The Creative Commons Licenses

        Consider the lawsuit which forced Internet Service Providers to block The Pirate Bay in Italy. It’s the equivalent of blocking your neighbor’s lane by flooding it, so that he can’t deliver his harvest to market, leaving all of the sales to you, and allowing you to raise your prices to the maximum the market will bear.

      • Mark Waid is Right

        Mark’s speech reminded everyone that copyright was invented to limit the amount of time that a family or estate could lay claim to an idea after the death of that idea’s creator. That it was not created to protect the creator or ensure that their family line could forever control their intellectual property. He suggested that contributing to the greater culture is something artists should consider as important (maybe more important) than making a living as an artist. And then he made the boldest statement of the evening by suggesting that the file-sharing genie was out of the bottle and rather than spend fruitless hours trying to get it back in, we should all just stop being afraid of this new culture and instead embrace it and try to harness its power.

      • P2PU launches 3rd round of courses, with “Copyright for Educators”

        The Peer 2 Peer University, more commonly known now as P2PU by a growing community of self-learners, educators, journalists, and web developers, launches its third round of courses today, opening sign-ups for “courses dealing in subject areas ranging from Collaborative Lesson Planning to Manifestations of Human Trafficking.”

        P2PU is simultaneously launching its School of Webcraft, which is a collaboration with the Mozilla Foundation and “is a powerful new way to learn open, standards based web development in a collaborative environment. School of Webcraft courses include Beginning Python Webservices and HTML5.”

      • Wrongfully Accused Of File-Sharing? File For Harassment

        There are tens of thousands of people out there receiving letters from lawyers which demand payments to make potential copyright infringement lawsuits go away. Those wrongfully accused have been fighting back in a number of ways, and not without success. Now a team of lawyers is offering to coordinate a group action, with the aim of gathering compensation for victims through harassment claims.

      • US movie tickets get biggest price hike in history

        Don’t weep for the movie biz. While still concerned about camcording and P2P piracy, the industry has been hauling in the cash at the box office. 2007, 2008, and 2009 all set new historic highs for movie theater revenue in the US and Canada, and 2010 looks poised to do even bigger business.

        “Theater owners have gotten away with the biggest year-to-year increases in ticket prices ever,” says Hollywood-focused publication The Wrap, “with average admission costs spiraling upward more than 40 cents in 2010, or over 5 percent.”

      • ACTA

        • ACTA & the Telecoms Package: a mutually supportive relationship?

          The ghostly spectre of the Telecoms Package that has stood behind ACTA, is becoming more clearly discernible. And a devious PR move by the ACTA negotiators is bad news for Internet users.

          Following the Washington meeting of the ACTA (Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement) negotiators in August, it is now emerging that the requirement for secondary liability on ISPs could be dropped. Apparently, this is at the request of the US.

        • 1 Step Forward 500 Steps Back, ACTA Will Violate Your Rights

          It’s been said that “all good things must come to an end.” That phrase certainly holds true now. It seems like it’s only been a month since the changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) were passed by Congress, allowing us to jailbreak our phones as well as other things that should have always been part of our rights as consumers. No longer could we be told what we could or could not do with our own property. However that brief reprise has basically come to an end thanks to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Now on the surface ACTA actually doesn’t sound like a bad idea. At it’s core its an international institution similar to but seperate from organizations like the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. It’s purpose, “to establish international standards on intellectual property rights enforcements.” Which in itself isn’t such a bad thing, the U.S. alone loses around $200 billion each year as a result of the fake goods being traded on the global scale and plenty of artists have had their work stolen and used for profit without any hope for legal action. The problem however comes with semantics, and what’s being specified as intellectual theft in this agreement.

          [...]

          It’s blatantly obvious that our privacy and freedom is at stake but what else is actually being threatened? Below we have compiled a very surprising list.

          1. Your Privacy – Think going through the airport is violating now? Wait until they search EVERYTHING you own for pirated data. And we haven’t even gotten to ISPs being required to monitor ALL of your online activities in order to enforce these laws, since they will be responsible for “allowing” you to download not-so-legal things.
          2. Your Money – You’re ISP watching you is more work for them. So they will charge you for it (and those nasty little legal fees they incur when you download illegal things or someone sues them for violating their no-longer existent rights.)
          3. Your Health – How can that happen? Well generic drugs are contraband under ACTA. So increase that insurance premium (assuming you have insurance, if you don’t just don’t get sick) and if you happen to be traveling with your medication… try not to die when they confiscate it.
          4. Your Video Quality – Under ACTA free and open source media software such as VLC, MPC & the CCCP project would be illegal since all purchased media must be DRMed (any non-purchased media must be piracy) and open source software can’t use DRM technology.
          5. Your Freedom – ACTA gives governments and ISPs the right to block websites deemed “unsuitable” (a word that isn’t defined in the agreement). That opens the doors to your government acting like China and banning anything they don’t want you to see. (Note: There is no YouTube, Facebook, Blogspot in China.)

Clip of the Day

Firefox 4 Beta 4 Panorama


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