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09.02.10

IRC Proceedings: September 2nd, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Links 2/9/2010: New Survey Shows Red Hat GNU/Linux Increasingly Replacing Windows

Posted in News Roundup at 12:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • Mainframes Have a New Need for Speed

      The first is virtualization, which more IT organizations are starting to consolidate on faster servers. Virtual machines hunger for memory and the mainframe, most likely running Linux, provides an efficient shared memory architecture.

    • IBM launching world’s fastest microprocessor

      Such workloads include data managed by DB2/IMS, and general Java performance on Linux, though we imagine the cards should fall about 60% faster as well when you beat solitaire.

    • MokaFive outs bare-metal PC hypervisor

      MokaFive thinks the market does indeed want a bare-metal PC hypervisor, and so, according to Padmanabhan, the techies at MokaFive have grabbed a popular Linux distro – the company won’t say which one – and ripped out everything that was not necessary and locked it down to turn it into a hypervisor for running the Moka Player.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Podcast Season 2 Episode 16

      In this episode: Sony was legally allowed to remove the ‘Other OS’ feature from the Playstation 3, according to Australian lawmakers. Glibc is now really free and KSplice gets into Fedora. We report back from the mid-point of our games development challenge, and ask, what’s your favourite Linux improvement?

  • Applications

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

    • TrygTech Announces Linux-based BSP for Topaz i.MX25 CPU Module
    • Phones

      • Android

        • Motorola Defy: Android 2.1 goes rugged with water, dust and scratch resistance

          Remember the Motorola i1? Moto has just added its second rugged(ish) Android handset in the 3.7-inch Gorilla Glass-fronted Defy. It’s dust-, scratch-, impact-, and water-resistant. Matching up to the IP67 durability spec means it’s expected to resist being submersed in up to a meter of water for up to half an hour — making it a pretty awesome option for taking your Android to the beach, 854 x 480 is your screen resolution, backed up by an OMAP 3610 chip running at 800MHz (there had to be some tradeoffs, right?).

        • Motorola spins rugged Android phone and a new Milestone

          Motorola has long made ruggedized phones running Linux, but the Defy is only its second such Android model after the Motorola i1 was unveiled in March. The Defy offers a larger display and more features than the 3.1-inch i1, but it lacks the phone’s push-to-talk capability designed for Sprint’s iDEN-ready Nextel Direct Connect service.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • HP netbooks get dual-core Atoms

        HP has revamped two of its 10.1-inch netbooks to include Intel’s recently announced, dual-core Atom N550 processor, along with optional Broadcom video accelerator chips. Both netbooks are available with Windows 7, but the Mini 210 also offers a Linux-based “QuickWeb” fast boot option, and the Mini 5103 is available with a full SUSE Linux installation.

    • Tablets

      • Archos releases five budget Android tablets

        In terms of the individual models’ hardware, the information Archos has disclosed is sparse. To assess the devices’ suitability as internet tablets, such details as their display resolution and battery life would be helpful. In terms of software, Archos offers its own Android apps for rendering videos, photos and music.

      • Haptic technology targets Android tablets

        Immersion Corp. announced technology designed to enable touch feedback effects for tablets and other devices running either Android or Windows 7. The “TouchSense 2500″ solution has already been built into Toshiba’s dual-screen tablet, the Libretto W100, the company adds.

Free Software/Open Source

  • You can make money with open source. Literally.

    This is an old story–two years old, to be specific. But it was new to me when I heard it at LinuxCon, and it was new to a lot of others in the room too. And it was a great story, so I wanted to share it further.

    In 2008, the Dutch Ministry of Finance held a competition to design a coin that would honor the country’s architecture.

    To briefly describe the coin, on one side is a portrait of Queen Beatrix. But on closer examination, the portrait is made of of the names of Dutch architects. The names aren’t all readable with the human eye, which the designer describes as a “compact disc” of information in the ancient format of a coin.

  • Open Source Problem-Solving Tool Helps FOSS Teams Stay Focused

    If you’ve ever been gridlocked in a group decision-making process, you know how quickly things can go from frustrating to downright unwieldy. Even with a common goal in mind, it’s easy to get bogged down in data and competing opinions. Analysis of Competing Hypothesis (ACH) is an open source application that’s been helping the CIA with its research methodologies for years and it’s freely available to the public to help groups look at — and solve — problems objectively.

  • Open Source, Low Cost GSM Cell Service Offered at Burning Man
  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Drumbeat: what’s next?

        But, the fact of the matter is, Mozilla isn’t naturally good at this. We’re more often than not too earnest about the web. We need to develop or lighter sexier side. Especially if we want millions of people across the web to join and support our cause. In terms of Drumbeat next steps, this is a major area we need to work on.

  • SaaS

    • CloudBees Launches Hudson as a Service

      The vision of CloudBees is to offer a Java Platform as a Service. This is cool, but the market will take time to evolve. The interesting twist that CloudBees has come up with is to offer real services to the Java community as a Cloud based service (kind of like how SalesForce is useful to sales teams, CloudBees will initially be very useful to development teams).

    • Skygone Cloud Powers Open Source Web Mapping Suite – OpenGeo Cloud Edition

      Skygone Inc., a leader in geospatial cloud computing, today announces the launch of OpenGeo Cloud Edition; the first fully-supported, open source web-mapping software suite delivered to users via cloud computing.

    • How Facebook Scales with Open Source

      As Facebook has grown, the company has worked to develop a number of tools to handle this data, both in terms of the storage and the delivery of content, and it has open sourced many of these. Facebook has been built from the beginning on open source technologies, according to David Recordon, Facebook’s Open Source Programs Manager. But Facebook’s use of open source goes far beyond the LAMP stack (or even, beyond the LAMP stack plus Memcached). The company has also created and released several open source projects and participates heavily in others, most notably perhaps, Hadoop.

    • Have we reached a tipping point for cloud-based VoIP?

      Given the expectation that most people have now of being able to reach anyone, at any time by e-mail, IM or voice, that would seem to be the case. And by building upon the open source base, that will happen even faster.

    • “Open Standards Of Cloud Computing, Key Challenge To Open Source”
  • CMS

    • Version 4 of Plone CMS released

      The Plone developers have released version 4.0 of their open source content management system (CMS). The developers have improved performance, included a new theme, reduced the system’s memory requirements and implemented an improved user and group management feature.

    • Vividwireless goes social, open source to attract uni students

      Like the Unwired site before it, vividwireless’ website has gone the open source route and is based entirely on the Drupal content management system; a second local win for the community after the Australian Law Reform Commission (ALRC) also launched its Drupal site last week. The company charged with building the site, PreviousNext, has continued to work with the ABC in using Drupal to launch social networking initiatives as well as whole sites including the Hungry Beast, ABC Digital Radio and the forthcoming ABC Music site revamp.

    • ‘Diaspora’ – open source Facebook alternative launches September 15th
  • Education

    • Kitsap Regional Library Catalog System Ailing

      King County libraries have based their software development on Evergreen, an open-source integrated library software system developed by a group of up-and-coming IT geeks for Georgia’s statewide library system.

  • Business

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Software Freedom Day 2010
    • Ohio LinuxFest 2010: sudo install freedom

      The eighth annual Ohio LinuxFest is September 10-12 in lovely Columbus, Ohio. As always, this is a free event chock full of interesting hands-on Linux and free software solutions. Register at the Supporter level for $65 and you’ll get lunch, one of the gorgeous t-shirts pictured here, and that warm fuzzy feeling that comes from supporting an event like this.

  • Project Releases

    • Mahara: Who’d Have Thought?

      One of the things that warms the cockles of my heart is the widening ripple of open source. Starting, as it did, with core system software, it is now moving ever further into more specialised areas.

  • Licensing

  • Openness/Sharing

    • What would scholarly communications look like if we invented it today?

      I’ve largely stolen the title of this post from Daniel Mietchen because I it helped me to frame the issues. I’m giving an informal talk this afternoon and will, as I frequently do, use this to think through what I want to say. Needless to say this whole post is built to a very large extent on the contributions and ideas of others that are not adequately credited in the text here.

    • Open Hardware

      • Apertus Open Source Hardware and Software Targets HD Video Cam Market

        The success of a consumer-grade open-source HD video camcorder may not sound as appealing today due the declining costs and prices of consumer camcorders from Canon, Panasonic, Sony, JVC, and others over the years, but the prospect of a geek-oriented model makes the Apertus stand out in the crowd. The Apertus camera uses the open source Elphel software along with an open source hardware reference design, combining the Aptina CMOS sensor to accommodate C-mount and CS-lenses and a range of shooting modes, including RAW image files.

  • Programming

    • GitHub launches “Pull Requests 2.0″

      GitHub has announced “Pull Requests 2.0″, a revamping of the Git pull request system which enhances the system’s collaborative capabilities. GitHub provides hosted repositories for Git, the distributed revision control system developed by Linus Torvalds, enhancing the system in its own web front end and tools. GitHub has become one of the most active venues for open source developers to share, discuss and develop their code, building on Git’s ability to allow developers to clone a code repository and work with the code without having to coordinate pushing changes back.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Web versus Apps: what is missing in HTML5

      3D gaming: There is at the moment no way to create something like the Epic Citadel demo, or Carmack’s RAGE engine on iOS. The only potential alternative is WebGL, that is (like the previous links) based on OpenGL 2.0 ES, and paints on the HTML5 canvas (that, in the presence of proper support for hardware compositing, should allow for complex interfaces and effects). The problem is that browser support is still immature – most browsers are still experimenting in an accelerated compositing pipeline right now, and there are still lots of problems that need to be solved before the platform can be considered stable. However, after the basic infrastructure is done, there is no reason for not seeing things like the current state of the art demos on the web; modern in-browser Javascript JIT are good enough for action and scripting, web workers and web sockets are stable enough to create complex, asynchronous event models. It will take an additional year, probably, until the 3D support is good enough to see something like WoW inside a browser.

Leftovers

  • The Tweet Paywall

    I encountered for the first time today in accessing Steve Daniels’ book about Kenyan craftsmen, Making Do. Tweeting about the book (with my own verbiage) got me a digital copy of the beautifully illustrated book for free.

  • `Top Gear’ Driver `Stig’ Named as Ben Collins After BBC Loses Court Ruling

    News Corp.’s HarperCollins revealed the identity of the “Stig,” a test driver who appears on the television show “Top Gear,” after the British Broadcasting Corp. lost a ruling to keep his identity secret.

    The publisher said racing driver Ben Collins is the masked man who tests the performance of cars on one of the U.K.’s most popular television shows. The announcement came after High Court Judge Paul Morgan in London refused a request from the BBC to keep the character’s identity secret. HarperCollins plans to publish the driver’s autobiography on Sept. 16.

  • In Defense of Links, part three: In links we trust

    The history of Web linking has been a long chronicle of controversies we didn’t need to have: irrelevant debates over issues like so-called deep linking (if you really don’t want to be linked to, why are you on the public Web?) or the notion of a power-law-driven A-list in blogging (if you want to become a celebrity, other media are far more efficient). To this list, we can now add the “delinkification” dustup.

    It’s hard to imagine the benefit for ourselves, or for the Web, of a general retreat from linking. Writing on the Web without linking is like making a movie without cutting. Sure, it can be done; there might even be a few situations where it makes sense. But most of the time, it’s just head-scratchingly self-limiting. To choose not to link is to abandon the medium’s most powerful tool — the thing that makes the Web a web.

    A long time ago, I wrote a column titled Fear of Links about the then-burgeoning movement of webloggers. I urged professional writers to stop looking down their noses at links and those who make them: “A journalist who today disdains the very notion of providing links to readers may tomorrow find himself without a job.”

    That was 1999. Today, we live in that piece’s “tomorrow.”

  • Science

    • God did not create Universe: Hawking

      God no longer has any place in theories on the creation of the Universe due to a series of developments in physics, British scientist Stephen Hawking said in extracts published Thursday from a new book.

  • Security/Aggression

    • Compromising Twitter’s OAuth security system

      Twitter officially disabled Basic authentication this week, the final step in the company’s transition to mandatory OAuth authentication. Sadly, Twitter’s extremely poor implementation of the OAuth standard offers a textbook example of how to do it wrong. This article will explore some of the problems with Twitter’s OAuth implementation and some potential pitfalls inherent to the standard. I will also show you how I managed to compromise the secret OAuth key in Twitter’s very own official client application for Android.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • German Military Study Warns of Potential Energy Crisis

      This week a study on peak oil by a German military think tank was leaked on the Internet. The document shows that the German government is closely studying the issue of peak oil, and is aware of the potential for serious consequences as oil production declines. The study is reminiscent of the Hirsch Report, commissioned by the U.S. Department of Energy, that warned of the risks posed by peak oil.

    • Friends of the Earth urges end to ‘land grab’ for biofuels

      European Union countries must drop their biofuels targets or else risk plunging more Africans into hunger and raising carbon emissions, according to Friends of the Earth (FoE).

      In a campaign launching today, the charity accuses European companies of land-grabbing throughout Africa to grow biofuel crops that directly compete with food crops. Biofuel companies counter that they consult with local governments, bring investment and jobs, and often produce fuels for the local market.

    • Tokyo Two: Online March for Justice

      Greenpeace anti-whaling activists Toru Suzuki and Junichi Sato (the “Tokyo Two”) have been facing trial for nearly two years in Japan and now a verdict will be announced on Monday September 6th.

    • Gulf oil rig explodes off La. coast

      An offshore oil rig has exploded in the Gulf of Mexico, west of the site of the April blast that caused the massive oil spill.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Lawyer Offers Self Help To Sued BitTorrent Users

        In recent months thousands of US BitTorrent users have been sued for allegedly having shared movies such as The Hurt Locker and Far Cry. Because the settlement amount proposed by the copyright holders is less than hiring a defense lawyer, many defendants have not sought legal representation. Acknowledging this injustice, attorney Graham Syfert is now offering a cheap solution to the problem.

      • ACTA

        • The Truth about Fakes (and Piracy)

          My reading of this is that whatever the industries concerned might say about how awful, deceptive and damaging fakes and piracy are to the economy, ordinary people – and the newspapers that try to mirror their views – know that the true picture is rather different. It also means that ACTA is even more wrong-headed than even I thought.

Clip of the Day

MSI Company Profile


Credit: TinyOgg

Links 2/9/2010: Red Hat at Year Highs, Fake ‘Open Source’ Called Out

Posted in News Roundup at 8:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Choosing an Open Source Systems Management Solution

    The Little 4 may be smaller in terms of their bottom lines, but in terms of systems management capabilities, there’s nothing little about the open source offerings from Zenoss, Hyperic, GroundWork Open Source, and The OpenNMS Group.

  • Events

    • Nomination period open for Nordic Free Software Award

      The Nordic Free Software Award given to people, projects or organisations in the Nordic countries that have made a prominent contribution to the advancement of Free Software. The award will be announced during FSCONS 2010 in Gothenburg.

  • Web Browsers

  • Databases

    • PostgreSQL 9.0′s first release candidate arrives

      The first release candidate for version 9.0 of the PostgreSQL open source database has been released after four months in beta. The developers expect no changes in commands, interfaces or APIs between the release candidate and the final release, though there may be more release candidates before then, depending on bug reports. The most prominent feature in the new release is integrated replication using “Hot Standby” and “Streaming Replication” while other features include full support for 64-bit Windows, improved reporting queries, SQL standard per-column triggers, enhanced Perl and Python integrations and easier database permission management.

  • Oracle

    • The end of OpenSolaris?

      Sun aspired to be central to the next network-inspired boom, and it was understood that to do that, you had to be promiscuous, available, familiar, and easy-to-acquire. Hence open source, and hence OpenSolaris, and hence creating an OpenSolaris distribution (rather than just offer the source).

    • The State of Oracle/Sun Grid Engine

      Let’s take a look at the good news. According to DanT’s Grid Blog Oracle has plans for Grid Engine. As Dan mentions, Grid Engine does not compete with any Oracle product and like other resource managers has applications outside of HPC, which probably means Cloud based solutions.

  • Education

  • Semi-Open Source

    • Comment: The hype is over

      However, it didn’t quite work out that way: Commercial open source software, it turns out, is just the same as any other commercial software; the only difference is that one gets to take a peek at the source code (and often only certain portions of the code, see The H Open feature “Open core, closed heart?”) and can download a free trial version with varying degrees of functional restrictions from the internet.

      But what about vendor independence? There is only one company that can offer vendor support for SugarCRM. Lower costs? Commercial open source vendors need to cover their development costs just like every other software vendor. Low entry requirements? Not least because of the competition from the open source community, more and more proprietary applications now also offer free trial or community versions. And don’t you dare mess with the code if you wish to have vendor support.

      The “commercial open source” model, it seems to me, has outlived itself. Sure enough, vendors such as Alfresco or SugarCRM have established themselves in the market – because their products stand up to those of their proprietary competitors. Not because their software is open source, however – this “only” gave them an added edge compared to other start-ups. However, this effect is now gone, and companies who develop open source software are no longer considered extraordinary.

    • Open source 4.0: excellent for dancing

      By commercializing open source projects indirectly, through complementary products and services, multiple vendors are able to seize a commercial advantage and run with it without endangering the core open source project. As long as they continue to collaborate on the non-differentiating code, the project should benefit from being stretched in multiple directions.

      There will inevitably be some vendors that want to have their cake and it eat – benefiting from the work of others without sharing – but that is an inherent risk with community-developed open source, and I would argue that most have learned that they stand to gain more from collaborating than they do from forking and that it is in their own commercial interests to contribute to the common good.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD Will Continue Supporting ZFS

      Pawel Jakub Dawidek has announced he has prepared a port of the ZFS v28 file-system for FreeBSD, which is a newer revision of this advanced Sun/Oracle file-system than what is currently available in FreeBSD 8.1. This updated ZFS file-system brings a number of new features to FreeBSD-ZFS users including data de-duplication support, triple parity RAIDZ (RAIDZ3), ZFS DIFF, Zpool Split, snapshot holds, forced Zpool imports, and the ability to import a pool in a read-only mode.

    • ZFS Support Will Continue In FreeBSD
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Spotlight with Karl Berry (August 2010)

      This month we welcome Jose Marchesi as maintainer of the new package recutils, Mike Gran as maintainer of the new package guile-ncurses, and long-time maintainers Bruno Haible, Jim Meyering, and Simon Josefsson adding the new package vc-changelog to their duties.

    • Software Freedom Day to be marked in Melbourne

      Software Freedom Day, a day observed worldwide to spread the message of free and open source software, will be marked in Melbourne on September 18 from 10am to 4pm at the State Library of Victoria.

  • Government

    • Can councils rise to the Open Source challenge? Should they?

      There was an interesting little piece in the Guardian few days ago suggesting that local authorities could save £51 million by moving some council employees to Open Office* and ODF**, and away from Microsoft Office and their document format, with the total savings rocketing to £200 million if every council employee in the country moved over.

      This sensible proposal came from Cllr Liam Maxwell who’s reponsible for IT in the Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead, and I’m sure Cllr Maxwell would be the first to acknowledge it’s not a new suggestion. The office suite – as a commodity piece of software – has long been seen as one of the easiest ways to get open source onto people’s desktops and save money in the process.

      I’m certain Cllr Maxwell also appreciates that there are issues, some of which are mentioned in the Guardian, but they’re not made very clear and it’s worth expanding on them.

  • Licensing

    • Could this Lawsuit Undermine the GNU GPL?

      As Welte says, this really is outrageous: it’s GPL’d code, and the embedded system manufacturer is somehow trying to claim that it has the right to stop someone else from using and modifying that code on those devices – as if the hardware made any difference. But the whole point of the GPL is that others must be able to take software distributed under it and use it as they wish.

      I suspect that with some careful explanation from Welte (and others), the company will see that it doesn’t have a case, and the court action will be quietly dropped. On the other hand, if the case were to go forward and resulted in a win for the company concerned, it would represent a major problem for the GPL. Stay tuned…

    • More GPL enforcement work again.. and a very surreal but important case

      Right now I’m facing what I’d consider the most outrageous case that I’ve been involved so far: A manufacturer of Linux-based embedded devices (no, I will not name the company) really has the guts to go in front of court and sue another company for modifying the firmware on those devices. More specifically, the only modifications to program code are on the GPL licensed parts of the software. None of the proprietary userspace programs are touched! None of the proprietary programs are ever distributed either.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • The Sharing Economy

      Sharing. It’s one of the first things most children are urged to do.

      Few children, though, have the presence-of-mind to ask their parents when they last shared their weed-eater, their water blaster or even their car.

      The fact that virtually every garage has one of each of the above suggests the concept of sharing has some way to go in the adult world.

      Yet if dwindling resources and growing population is the biggest issue of our times, this will need to change. Everyone with one item of everything is not a sustainable thought.

    • The Case For Open-Source Design: Can Design By Committee Work?

      The following is an investigation into the difficulties of extending the open-source collaboration model from coding to its next logical step: interface design. While we’ll dive deep into the practical difference between these two professional fields, the article might also serve as a note of caution to think before rushing to declare the rise of “open-source architecture,” “open-source university,” “open-source democracy” and so on.

    • Open Data

      • The ABCD of Open Scholarship

        We had a wonderful meeting yesterday with Dave Flanders (JISC) David Shotton’s (Oxford) group (#jiscopencite) and our #jiscopenbib (Cambridge/OKF) – more details later. We really believe these projects can make a major change to Open Scholarship. We came up – almost by chance with the ABCD of Open Scholarship:

        * Open Access
        * Open Bibliography
        * Open Citations
        * Open Data

    • Open Hardware

      • Arduino Projects: Getting Started

        Anyone who has ever hacked around in their PC will have been hit with an urge to take their tinkering to the next level and create a custom-built device, but few actually try – believing such things to be far too complicated. At least, until the Arduino appeared on the scene.

        Originally developed in Italy in 2005 as a tool for students building interactive design projects, the Arduino is a microcontroller-based prototyping board – but one that pretty much removes the barriers to entry that previous electronic prototyping systems had.

  • Programming

    • September Project of the Month: GPL Ghostscript

      The end of the year is right around the corner (already!) but we’re not quite done showcasing projects that have been with us for 10 years or more. September’s Project of the Month is GPL Ghostscript, a complete set of page description language interpreters including PDF, PostScript, PCL5, PCLXL, and XPS.

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Bill would let repeat offenders hide record

    Six state senators want to give a break to ex-convicts who might be haunted by their criminal records when they attempt to land jobs.

    Senate Bill 291 would remove court and police records from public view by allowing nonviolent criminals with multiple convictions to apply to seal records documenting their offenses after five years of clean conduct.

  • Northern Ky. teacher wins $11 million judgment against gossip Web site

    A gossip Web site has been hit with an $11 million judgment for libel and slander after posting false accusations that a Northern Kentucky teacher who works on the side as a Cincinnati Bengals cheerleader was exposed to two venereal diseases.

  • Perhaps Avoiding Links Is Really A Way To Get People Not To Read The Details Of The Studies You’re Misrepresenting

    Earlier this year, as part of a discussion about Nick Carr’s most recent book we pointed to some reports that noted Carr appeared to misrepresent the scientific research to support his point. It appears that others are finding more examples of this as well. There was a little web-hubbub that I ignored earlier this year when Carr declared that links in documents were bad, and he was shifting all his links to the end. This was apparently based on some research, Carr claimed, that showed links in text are really distracting. Personally, I found that premise to be laughable, as I think after my second week online I stopped being distracted by links and quickly learned to use them effectively.

    Still, without having a chance to dig into the research, I didn’t have much to say on the subject. However, Scott Rosenberg is digging in and finding that, once again, it appears that Carr is conveniently misrepresenting the studies he relies on to support his anti-link thesis. T

  • The new banana republic

    All governments need to be watched. You never know when one of them will slip in a nasty tax on the quiet or pass a seemingly simple notification that can be the undoing of entire communities or of the environment. That is the nature of the beast. But how vigilant can people be with a government that will try to alter the entire complexion of a critical law-in-the-making by sneakily replacing a clear-cut ‘or’ with a lethal ‘and’—under the very noses of the MPs opposed to legislation?

  • Why our jobs are getting worse

    And all this was enabled by technology. The modern supermarket – with its electronic scanning and inventory controls and price reductions decided by a software program run out of head office – is probably more hi-tech than any web-design firm. The result is that the man or woman in charge of your typical supermarket (or other chain shop) now has little to do with the selling or arrangement of goods: nowadays they concentrate on driving their staff to meet the targets set by head office. Their job is not so much retail-management as rowing cox.

  • Science

    • Ancient brewers tapped antibiotic secrets

      of ancient Nubians shows that they were regularly consuming tetracycline, most likely in their beer. The finding is the strongest evidence yet that the art of making antibiotics, which officially dates to the discovery of penicillin in 1928, was common practice nearly 2,000 years ago.

      The research, led by Emory anthropologist George Armelagos and medicinal chemist Mark Nelson of Paratek Pharmaceuticals, Inc., is published in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology.

  • Security/Aggression

    • Special constable jailed for Wigan ex-soldier attack

      A Greater Manchester Police special constable convicted of assaulting an off-duty soldier and lying about the attack has been jailed for three years.

      Peter Lightfoot, 40, was filmed hitting Mark Aspinall while attempting to arrest him after he had been thrown out of a Wigan club last July.

    • After Katrina, New Orleans Cops Were Told They Could Shoot Looters

      In the chaotic days after Hurricane Katrina, an order circulated among New Orleans police authorizing officers to shoot looters, according to present and former members of the department.

    • Vladimir Putin says ‘unsanctioned’ protesters can expect police brutality

      Vladimir Putin today angrily dismissed protests against his regime as “provocations” and said anyone who took part in unsanctioned street rallies against the Kremlin should expect a “whack on the bonce”.

    • Hay-what?

      So, in essence, the outside public – including Iranians – are asked to believe that a) Haystack software exists b) Haystack software works c) Haystack software rocks d) the Iranian government doesn’t yet have a copy of it, nor do they know that Haystack rocks & works. (And who could fault them for not reading Newsweek? I certainly can’t). For someone with my Eastern European sensibilities, that’s a lot of stuff to believe in. Even Santa – we call him Ded Moroz – appears more plausible in comparison.

    • Andy Coulson discussed phone hacking at News of the World, report claims

      The prime minister’s media adviser, Andy Coulson, freely discussed the use of unlawful news-gathering techniques while editor of the News of the World and “actively encouraged” a named reporter to engage in the illegal interception of voicemail messages, according to allegations published by the New York Times.

    • Blair Almost Ordered London Plane Shot Down On 9/11

      Those who were in London on 11 September 2001 may recall the wild speculation flying around about potential attacks on our own city. Several hijacked planes were heading for London, the whole of Canary Wharf was being evacuated…anything might happen. Fortunately, we were hit by nothing more than rumour. But a new revelation from Tony Blair’s memoirs reveals how close we came to accidental tragedy.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • ‘Phantom’ oil slick was a smear against Climate Camp

      What’s ironic about all this is that the big news on the Guardian’s website isn’t an investigation into whether or not the police deliberately misled the public by duping lazy newspapers into regurgitating a fake smear story. Rather, some journalists think that it’s the Climate Camp who are the ones supposedly controlling the media.

  • Finance

    • Goldman feels heat in suit vs. Dollar Thrifty

      The investment bank, which is still trying to burnish its reputation after settling fraud charges brought this year by the Securities and Exchange Commission, stands accused in a lawsuit of using information it gleaned from one client to win business from another.

    • Ex-Lehman CEO says regulators refused to save firm

      The former chief of Lehman Brothers told a panel investigating the financial crisis that the Wall Street firm could have been rescued, but regulators’ refused to help – even though they later bailed out other big banks.

      Richard S. Fuld Jr. told the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission at a hearing that Lehman did everything it could to limit its risks and save itself in the fall of 2008.

    • No holiday for labor unions

      Labor Day this year comes draped in mourning. More than half of all workers have experienced a spell of unemployment, taken a cut in pay or hours, been forced to go part-time or seen other such problems during and after the Great Recession.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • The Billionaires Bankrolling the Tea Party

      Another weekend, another grass-roots demonstration starring Real Americans who are mad as hell and want to take back their country from you-know-who. Last Sunday the site was Lower Manhattan, where they jeered the “ground zero mosque.” This weekend, the scene shifted to Washington, where the avatars of oppressed white Tea Party America, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, were slated to “reclaim the civil rights movement” (Beck’s words) on the same spot where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. had his dream exactly 47 years earlier.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • William Gibson jacks into Google’s cool menace

      I don’t like William Gibson’s Op-Ed piece on Google in today’s New York Times merely because, barely a week after I went all Jeremy Bentham Panopticonic on the cat bin lady, he writes that “Jeremy Bentham’s Panopticon prison design is a perennial metaphor in discussions of digital surveillance and data mining, but it doesn’t really suit an entity like Google.” Even though it’s kind of a put-down (perennial!), still, great minds think almost alike, right?

    • India lifts threat of block on BlackBerrys

      Stepping back from the brink of a crackdown, India’s ministry of home affairs said RIM had made “certain proposals for lawful access by law enforcement agencies and these would be operationalised immediately”. It did not offer any detail on these concessions and RIM, which is based in Toronto, declined to comment.

    • Sneaky Senate Trying To Slip Internet Kill Switch Past Us

      Sensing Senators don’t have the stomach to try and pass a stand-alone bill in broad daylight that would give the President the power to shut down the Internet in a national emergency, the Senate is considering attaching the Internet Kill Switch bill as a rider to other legislation that would have bi-partisan support.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • AT&T: Net rules must allow ‘paid prioritization’

      AT&T said Tuesday that any Net neutrality plan restricting its ability to engage in “paid prioritization” of network traffic would be harmful and contrary to the fundamental principles of the Internet.

      Telecommunications providers need the ability to set different prices for different forms of Internet service, AT&T said, adding that it already has “hundreds” of customers who have paid extra for higher-priority services.

    • AT&T calls net neutrality advocate a conspiracy theorist

      In a letter to the Federal Communication Commission (FCC), AT&T tried to rubbish points made by the group, calling them “not exactly true”. The argument revolves around the notion of “paid prioritisation” of Internet connectivity, something that net neutrality activists are fiercely against.

      AT&T claims that the Free Press, in supporting Diffserv, is in direct contradiction to its support of equal packet rights. Diffserv is one of a number of mechanisms proposed to provide differing quality of service (QoS), though typically it is run on customers’ routers.

      The telecom behemoth argues that paid prioritisation will not create an Internet ‘rich club’, saying that small to medium businesses voluntarily take AT&T up on the offer. However the fact that a few firms purchase managed connectivity from AT&T doesn’t really change the fact that applying such policies at the network core is something that will concern the majority of users. Judging by the lengths to which AT&T goes to promote it, those fears won’t be allayed any time soon.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Mixing it up without IP

      Intellectual property exists to promote progress. Its purpose is not to ensure that no one’s ideas are stolen or that creative people can earn a living, unless those things are needed to promote progress in a field. The granting of temporary monopolies in the form of patents and copyrights is the price we pay for progress, not a goal in itself.

      It might be completely true that bartenders are shamelessly stealing from each other, and that’s certainly something we should condemn, but we probably shouldn’t get the law involved unless we can show that this theft is causing mixology to stagnate. Along with fashion, cooking, and even magic, we’re in an industry that’s arguably better off with weak IP. This decade’s boom in craft cocktails is a sign that we’re doing OK without stricter protections, and I’d be worried that additional threats of lawsuits would have a chilling effect on the sharing of new techniques and recipes.

    • Copyrights

      • Indian gov’t issues music royalty directive

        A long-standing issue over revenue terms between private FM radio stations and music labels here saw the Copyright Board issuing a directive Wednesday laying out a revenue-sharing model instead of the earlier fixed-cost structure.

        The Copyright Board, part of the Ministry of Human Resources Development, has been mediating a bitter dispute over the last couple of years between FM stations and music labels over establishing a revenue model between both parties. Private stations launched here over five years ago after the government auctioned licenses inviting private players in radio broadcasting.

      • Consumer survey on copyright access barriers

        Access to Knowledge: Reports of Campaigns and Research 2008-2010The biggest barriers that consumers face in accessing copyrighti works are those created by copyright law. Even so, consumers around the world will choose original copyright works over pirated copies, provided that they are available at an affordable price.

      • ZeroPaid Interviews Russell McOrmond 2 – Canadian Bill C-32 (Part 2 of 3)

        A law closer to the language of the WIPO treaties wouldn’t protect this practice. In the short term even the USA DMCA doesn’t protect this practise. Bill C-32 would legally protect this practise, given circumventing access control technical measures and even providing tools to change the locks on what we own are being made illegal.

      • Foreworld as Foretaste

        That is, piracy isn’t a real problem if you *out-innovate* the pirates, making your paid-for offering better than their free one. Indeed, if you do, pirated copies become like tasters, encouraging people to upgrade and pay for the full, latest version. Similarly, by the sound of it, part of the strength of this project will be the interweaving of other elements into the text – again, something that pirates can’t offer.

      • Compartilhamento legal! – Brazil is putting an end to the ‘war on copying,’ at R$ 3,00 per month

        An overlapping constellation of civil society and art actors focussed their submission on a single issue: file-sharing. Under the slogan “Compartilhamento legal! R$3,00 de todos para tudo,” this network is proposing to legalize non-commercial file-sharing in exchange for a levy on broadband Internet access. The idea is nearly as old as peer-to-peer file-sharing itself. It has been tested in technology and in law making a few times. Here and now in Brazil, it feels like it might actually become a reality.

Clip of the Day

emacs text editor


Credit: TinyOgg

Microsoft Saved the Bush Family From Embarrassment

Posted in Microsoft at 4:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bush daughters

Summary: A migration to Microsoft Exchange in the White House led to loss of crucial data which could help show how the United States entered wars and why

OVER THE years we have given several examples where Microsoft is said to have ‘faked’ loss of E-mail. A quick look at Comes vs Microsoft exhibits ought to explain why. It’s about elimination of evidence and thus obstruction of justice. The Bush government either deliberately or inadvertently moved from IBM to Microsoft, knowing damn well the consequences (as everyone knows). The following may seem like old news that we covered before, but it’s actually new and it’s about a report:

Report: Warnings about e-mails went unheeded in Bush White House

[...]

Top aides to President George W. Bush seemed unconcerned amid multiple warnings as early as 2002 that the White House risked losing millions of e-mails that federal law required them to preserve, according to an extensive review of records set for release Monday.

[...]

Problems first arose when an e-mail record-keeping system established during Bill Clinton’s presidency failed to archive messages sent by the Bush White House as it started converting e-mail accounts from Lotus Notes to the Microsoft Exchange program, the report said.

We heard this story before, but now it’s more validated. Microsoft can lead to data loss. Look no further than the SideKick disaster from last year.

Insanity of Microsoft Patents and the Insanity of ‘Green’ Patents

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 4:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bulb - outdoor lamp

Summary: Microsoft earns a patent monopoly on “[o]perating system shut down”; Patent monopolies prey on ideas that help preserve the planet

A LOT OF ATTENTION HAS BEEN GIVEN THIS WEEK TO MICROSOFT’S latest patent troll, Paul Allen (it’s still in the news). Not many people have paid attention to Microsoft’s patents pipeline, with which it occasionally feeds patent trolls [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

So, what’s one of Microsoft’s latest software patents? “Operating system shut down” — yes, what a broad title! Harish Pillay writes: “Yay! M$ get a patent for OS shutdown? I want to file one for OS Replacement!” [via]

A user interface and scheme is provided for facilitating shutting down an operating system. Aspects include the operating system receiving a command to initiate shut down, and automatically terminating graphical user interface (GUI) applications that delay shut down which do not have top level windows. Also, aspects provide a user, through a graphical user interface, the ability to automatically terminate all running applications in response to determining that a running GUI application has a top level window.

Microsoft has got some nerve claiming credit for it. But it’s just about accumulating many patents, not assigning/granting them to the right people or even doubting the true merit of this ‘invention’; even senior Microsoft developers are cynical about these patents. If the lawyers and bosses demand an application for a patent, most of their subordinates just obey, especially those with poor work security (e.g. those whom Microsoft brings on visas).

TechDirt points out that the wrong people have been put in charge of this system, which completely lost sight of its original purpose.

How The Patent Office Outsourced Its Job To Non-Expert Jurors

[...]

This is a pretty big problem when you think about it. Already, there are concerns that the supposed patent examiner “experts” often don’t have enough expertise to judge the non-obviousness of certain inventions. To then shift the burden to inherently unskilled non-experts to make that decision, even with advocates for both sides fighting it out in front of them, seems to go against the very idea that patents are supposed to only be allowed if they are non-obvious to those of ordinary skill in the art. Asking those not skilled in the art to make that judgment seems like a mistake.

TechDirt has found another new example where patents not only ruin competition but also ruin the planet. [via]

A trial program meant to speed the pace of innovation in green technology hasn’t unleashed the torrent of activity as hoped.

Launched in December, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s Green Technology Pilot Program puts patent petitions related to environmental technologies at the front of the line for appraisal. The goal is to encourage economic activity in the sector.

Not yet enough with this patent madness? The planet cannot just wait for a bunch of solicitors in suits to bicker about patents rather than do what’s least harmful to the environment. Earlier this morning we wrote about "death patents" and this too is a close relative of them (euphemistically called “green patents”). We alluded to the subject about a year ago.

Microsoft Looks to Communism for Answers

Posted in Asia, Hardware, Microsoft at 3:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Castro and Trudeau in 1976

Summary: Microsoft turns to China, hoping that therein exists some way to rescue Xbox 360; instead, China brings competition to Xbox 360, whose price is going up, not down

Chips B . Malroy shared some interesting thoughts about Microsoft last night. We recently explained how to Microsoft and to Apple China is mostly about cheap labour that can be mistreated in sweatshops that exploit China, making it subservient (“creating jobs” is just a degrading euphemism, as “creating slavery” would sound more appropriate a description). Over the past year or so Microsoft also described China as strategic to Microsoft’s growth and tightened its political affairs there (a US congressman accused Microsoft of “enabling tyranny”). This carries on this week.

Apple makes no substantial money in China and “taken into account,” explains Malroy, “China might be just another cash sink for Microsoft in general.

“They will never get paid in China for Microsoft Windows and Office by the masses. Microsoft has educated people on how to be pirates.”
      –Chips B . Malroy
“As Microsoft has taken control of Yahoo’s search engine and replaced it with Bing, Yahoo loses markets. Reaction to using Bing, causes first Japan and now South Korea to abandon Yahoo.

“They will never get paid in China for Microsoft Windows and Office by the masses. Microsoft has educated people on how to be pirates. [...] So far China has banned the defective product known as the MS XBox360 from being sold to Chinese consumers.”

China is now coming up with its own console. “According to AFP reports,” Malroy quotes, “the device, known as the eBox, will be a controller-free console that will be controlled solely through the use of gestures, not unlike Microsoft’s soon-to-be-released Kinect attachment for the Xbox 360.”

How can Microsoft survive this? Well, except for the possibility of trademark bullying, there is not much that Microsoft can do. It has already lost billions of dollars on this product and now the prices go further up: [via]

It’s been revealed today that Microsoft has increased the price of an Xbox Live Gold subscription by $10, meaning it’ll cost gamers $59.99 to gain access to the online service for a year. Of course, gamers opting for the free Silver tier (which doesn’t offer online play) won’t be affected by this.

The thing about Xbox lock-in is that Microsoft can change the cost at any time. How much will eBox cost and can it destroy the Xbox franchise for good?

“Novell Laboratories” and Patent Extortion Against Generic Drugs

Posted in Novell, Patents at 2:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pills

Summary: Notorious “death patents” are being used against Novell

A COMPANY we never heard of before, called “Novell” (not the same as Novell Inc.), turns out to have finished a patent fight against Salix (not Scalix, which is property of Xandros now). This is fascinating becase there are quite a few companies called “Novell” and this one may be a sign of things to come from Novell Inc.

From the news:

The settlement calls for Salix and Norgrine to grant Novell a license to the patents covering Moviprep no later than Sept. 24, 2018. If approved by the court, the agreement will result in the dismissal of Novell’s claim that MoviPrep’s patents are invalid and a lawsuit by Salix and Norgrine to stop Novell from selling a generic version of the drug.

Watch what they are doing here. Killing generic drugs is often a death knell to many people who can only afford generics (c.f TRIPS [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]). That’s what we call “death patents”.

In separate news, a company called Active Endpoints (for business process management systems) has someone who was bought by Novell inside its management now.

Chris Keller, Founder and Vice President, Product Development, has founded three technology companies. He was previously at Novell, GemLogic (acquired Novell/SilverStream), and LexiBridge (acquired by Level3 Communications).

It sure seems like a lot of Novell executives leave quietly. We wrote about Chris Keller some days ago. Perhaps all that will be left of Novell Inc. is other companies with the same name.

It’s True, Android is Not Free (Because of Microsoft Patent Extortion)

Posted in Apple, FUD, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 2:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Steve Ballmer as penguin

Summary: New FUD from Microsoft staff and a reminder of what it is that really puts a price tag on Android (and it’s not Google)

OVER AT Business Insider there is a sort of ghost-written item which trolls Google’s CEO and uses people from Microsoft to hypnotise readers into believing that Android is expensive. Coming from the company which is taxing Android and saying that you should choose Microsoft to avoid lock-in, critical thinking is a must and someone is already rebutting this FUD, thankfully. Microsoft taxing Android at vendor level is probably the only substantial cost the buyer may feel when buying a Linux-powered phone from HTC, Samsung, or LG. In other words, Microsoft is the cost, not Android.

A recent Business Insider post provided, other than a nice retouched photo of Google’s Schmidt with menacing red eyes, a snippet of conversation with an anonymous MS employee that claimed that Android “free” OS is not free at all, and its costs are much higher than the $15 asked by Microsoft as licensing fees. Having had my stint on mobile economics, I would like to contribute some of my thoughts on what is actually implied by the MS employee, and why I believe that some parts of it are not accurate. Before flaming me as a Google fanboy, I would like to point out that I am not affiliated with Google, MS, anyone else (apart my own company, of course), and my cellphone is a Nokia. Enough said.

Watch Apple’s CEO throwing some insults at Android this week, claiming that Google counts upgrades as “activations” and then throwing some number out there without being specific about its meaning. That’s the same CEO who decided to sue Android rather than compete against it. Microsoft went directly into extortion mode, so no need for lawsuits, just threats.

Tim from OpenBytes calls it “extortion – The One Microsoft Way”:

Previously I wrote regarding Microsoft having a “double whammy” on Android phones, first being that there is a “deal”[1] in place with certain providers of Android and secondly the platform that Mr Ballmer was so quick to dismiss not so long ago, is now flavor of the month with Microsoft as it tries to push its Bing onto it (with, I hasten to add, “innovative features” which it appears Google already provides). I don’t personally blame Microsoft for trying their luck on a Linux platform and I am sure that they pick up a few new Bing users from charitable Android consumers. You can read that article here and I’ll let you decide if you think Microsoft’s actions re: “deals” and Android is a type of extortion or not.

Tux Radar asked last night, “what’s your favourite Linux improvement?”

They are talking about technical aspects alone but not legal. Linux has also a lot to do with a software licence, so sites like ours (or OpenBytes or Groklaw for that matter) might want to say something about laws, freedom, community, and so forth.

We’re gearing up to record our next podcast, and we want you – yes YOU! – to contribute your views in our Open Ballot section. This time the question is, out of all the changes we’ve seen in the Linux world in the last year, what’s your favourite? If you want to go big and say “all of Fedora 13″, or if you want to go small and cite the SSE improvements introduced into Glibc 2.11, we don’t mind as long as your stick to our simple rules: keep it short, and use a name other than “Anonymous Penguin.”

My favourite “Linux” (they refer to the whole GNU/Linux system) improvement is the decreased dependency on Mono, at least in some distributions. It helps “Linux” stay autonomous and safe.

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