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Microsoft’s and Apple’s GUI Patents (e.g. “Start Menu” and “Dock“) Show Why the USPTO is Seen as a Farce

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OpenSUSE, Patents, SUN at 9:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OpenWindows on Solaris

Summary: Some new examples and a new discussion about Microsoft and Apple “innovations” that were not

MICROSOFT MAY HAVE a patent (or more) on “Start menus”/”task bars”, but Microsoft never came up with these ideas which are merely inspirations and aggregations of existing ideas (well, maybe Clippy was Microsoft’s idea, but it wasn't that good). Just about anything in Windows’ graphical user interface is in some way ‘borrowed’ from another operating system, but that’s not the picture people are getting if they grow up only seeing Windows around them and one day come across something different which looks “just like Windows” (rather than the other way around). It’s worth mentioning right now because this OpenSUSE site is currently contributing to the false perception that Microsoft was the first.

“Just about anything in Windows’ graphical user interface is in some way ‘borrowed’ from another operating system…”“Start me up” said an old motto/song, but Microsoft did not start up a so-called ‘start menu’. It merely repackaged what already existed. The same goes for Apple’s ‘dock’; many people love to call/label everything resembling it a copy/clone of Apple rather that acknowledge that Apple was merely copying some ideas which already existed and were implemented, e.g. by Sun for reflections. That’s just why the patent system has become so tactless and out of touch.

Over at Planet Fedora we found this new rant about what software patents do to computer scientists.

There is a whole mess in here with patents, and this is related to why patents may be unethical for science. In a machine patent, the science isn’t necessarily being patented; it’s the results of the science that is. Any science that leads up to the machine patent should be open and visible for reproducing and verifying.

But a software patent is a slippery thing. The patent may cover the science as well as the product of the science, in that both can be in the code. There is an ethical dilemma for any scientist when they patent the science. They are putting a price tag and control on reproducing and verifying the science. Without verification, the science is invalid.

In case you are wondering if this is just semantics and word choices, it is. Perhaps all of the people who call themselves computer scientists, shouldn’t? I presume the word has meaning for them, as it does for the rest of us, and I expect them to act accordingly.

Being a scientist has a specific meaning that spans a long part of written history. How long? Several hundred to several thousand years, depending on what you are measuring. It is clear that the scientific method has been followed since at least the Middle Ages. It predates copyright and patent law by at least several centuries, if not nearly a full millenium.

Disregard and disdain towards the patent system seems to be increasing. It gets worse even from within, based on Alex Stack who complains about lack of transparency:

USPTO Data: CIPO [Canadian Intellectual Property Office]?

Those of you who know me well know that in the past I have harped on patent office statistics like pendency and backlogs. I think they are important – central, critical even – to understanding how patent law functions in a country.

As Wayne says in the comments (there is only one): “Probably in the 22nd century. And it will probably be the 23rd century before it works properly.”

Here again is an example of embargoes/sanctions being used as a weapon thanks to the USPTO:

The latest skirmish in a giant patent fight over flash memory chips in MP3 players, cell phones, digital cameras and tablet computers got a green light to proceed from the International Trade Commission.

The ITC is one of the worst possible things that can happen to innovation [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It helps demonstrate that the USPTO is imperialistic in the sense that it goes overseas to impose and enforce its controversial views.

ASP.NET a Security Failure, Not Just a Patent Issue

Posted in Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Security, Windows at 8:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

I knew I should have stuck with freedom

Summary: Further new evidence that ASP.NET is a weak technology, Windows is extremely dangerous for use, and developers should replace it, not mimic it

Due to yet more security issues, any Mono and ASP.NET pusher at Novell ought to pay attention to deficiencies in the software it’s mimicking. Here is the latest: [via]

‘Padding Oracle’ Crypto Attack Affects Millions of ASP.NET Apps

A pair of security researchers have implemented an attack that exploits the way that ASP.NET Web applications handle encrypted session cookies, a weakness that could enable an attacker to hijack users’ online banking sessions and cause other severe problems in vulnerable applications. Experts say that the bug, which will be discussed in detail at the Ekoparty conference in Argentina this week, affects millions of Web applications.

That would not be the first such embarrassment. We gave other such examples before. Windows may be the least responsibly patched operating system, based on Microsoft's record as of late.

According to this new statement, things are getting worse than ever for Windows, security-wise.

Windows users are still the number one target: 99.4 percent of all new malware of the first half of this year was written for Microsoft’s operating system. The other 0.6% targeted systems that contain e.g. Unix or Java technologies.

Here is a further analysis/breakdown by Pogson (who also found this cripple-ware cartoon which we missed):

That other OS was the target of 98.5% of malware with a further 0.6% aimed at .NET for a total of 99.4%. The remaining 0.6% was mainly attacks on servers with various scripting and cracking attacks.

The “other OS” is Windows and .NET is there too. .NET is insecure in another sense for other reasons too, patent violations for example.

Next Mono is Coming With Microsoft Code, Microsoft Licences

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 7:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Miguel and Steve

Summary: Mono is no longer a Novell-only product; now it contains Microsoft copyrights and Microsoft software licences

NOVELL continues to promote .NET in GNU/Linux (with well-defined patent boundaries for developers to play in Microsoft’s sandbox with Microsoft’s harsh rules) and the next version of Mono may be imminent now that there is a public preview which OMG!Ubuntu! helps spread. Let’s not forget that Microsoft is already suing over such matters and the new version will contain Microsoft code, which is MS-PL-licensed. This version of Mono is essentially co-developed with Microsoft. By extension, the same goes for the Mono-based Moonlight, which the official Novell/Microsoft Web site (MoreInterop) called "Microsoft Moonlight" (maybe it still does). All Mono-based software may soon rely on Microsoft code, copyrighted by Microsoft and subjected to the patent restrictions Microsoft publicised a year ago.

Still loving Mono? Good luck.

Weird Video About Apple Bullying, Sweatshops, Antennagate, and Damage Control

Posted in Apple, Humour, Videos at 7:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Direct link

Summary: The video above captures some embarrassing moments of Apple which are fairly recent

AS WE stated about a month ago, July was a terrible month for Apple from a reputation perspective. The video we have just transcoded — even though the language may be a barrier — provides a summary. Here is where we found this video:

An enlightening CNN clip that interviews Jimmy Lai and takes us behind the scenes at Next Media’s Taiwan animation headquarters quotes Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz huffily declaring that if this is the future of journalism, he wants no part of it. I can see his point. Lai is out to make money by syndicating his animations far and wide, Associated Press-style. But while the Steve Jobs clip does a decent job of covering a spring and summer’s worth of Apple news — stolen iPhone prototypes, suicidal Chinese workers — it certainly doesn’t fit under what we used to think of as “news.” Steve Jobs isn’t actually Darth Vader.

“I hasten to add,” said the person who brought this to our attention, “I found the last story bizarre rather than useful or well argued but sometimes bizarre is enough.”

IRC Proceedings: September 13th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz




#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

Enter the IRC channels now

Links 13/9/2010: Linux 2.6.36 RC 4, Kongoni 1.12.3, Sidux Becomes Aptosid

Posted in News Roundup at 6:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Windows or Linux: Which is easier to fix?

    Between Linux and Windows, which is easier to fix when broken? It was an interesting question, but one that should be easy to answer (at least in theory). It was time to set up my testing ground. I decided that .NET would be the obvious choice because there is a similar frame work on Linux – Mono. What would happen if I forced the uninstall of each and then re-installed. Would the applications that depended upon those framework applications still work? It should be a simple test. SHOULD.

  • Desktop

    • The Year of the Linux Desktop is not going to happen

      Tablets, slates, and smartphones are growing markets as the traditional desktop market is not growing. Phil believes in a future
      where many of our work day tasks are completed via rapid input with those devices ubiquitously at our sides. HP is very successful in selling Linux-based netbooks – mostly in emerging markets such as China and India. These devices are fun and simple to use for both parents and kids. Can Linux enjoy the glory of the rush to the mobile platform? So far, Linux-based Android and HP’s Palm WebOS platforms have been seen in market share reports by classifying them as separate from the Linux category. Phil exclaims “These are Linux too!” It is time that we celebrate the success of Linux on mobile platforms and fret no-more on winning the Linux desktop.

    • The Linux Sweet Spot

      The future is on the web, how one consumes it is of less importance the the ability to access it. More powerful devices can afford multiple applications that customize web services, but the information is the same. Linux is perfectly positioned to be the operating system of choice for very low cost, portable, almost throw-away devices.

      The Chromium project has the right idea, but is being overshadowed by Android. What I’d like to see is an Android release that only had one app, the browser, and boots directly to the browser to get the device online as fast as possible. Low cost, low power chips, low cost memory, low cost flash storage, and the dropping price of touch screens means that the hardware is ready, will Linux be ready for the sub-hundred dollar tablet?

    • Limitations of Windows PowerShell vs. Linux SSH/bash

      On the flip side, SSH is extremely versatile and flexible. And here’s why. First, you can use ANY SSH client you want. Personally, I use PuTTY. It’s very lightweight, powerful, and has the features that work for me. Copy and paste is very efficiently done. Simply select the text (which is intelligent enough to select line by line, not by cursor position), and the text is automatically copied to the clipboard. Simply clicking the right mouse button (or center mouse button/wheel in Linux) will paste at the cursor position. I use this all of the time for editing documents in a shell, very very easy and powerful. This behavior is also done at the text terminal of Linux as well, with the “gdm” service on (allows the mouse to be used in the text terminal).

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 2.6.36-rc4

      So due to travel, it’s been two weeks rather than the usual one, but 2.6.36-rc4 is out there now.

      Nothing in particular stands out, although there’s been more noise in GPU development than I’d like at this point (both Radeon and i915). But that should hopefully all be just stabilization. There’s also been some PCIe/firmware interaction changes, that should fix way more issues than it breaks.

    • Linux
    • Linux

      It fixes a single bug that a number of users have reported in that their USB devices no longer work properly. Sometimes it causes lost keystrokes, and other times X refuses to boot as it can not communicate properly with some tablet devices.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

  • Distributions

    • Security advisories for Monday
    • New Releases

      • Kongoni 1.12.3 (Cicero) released!

        This is the final and stable release of Kongoni 1.12.3 (Cicero). With this release most issues and problems should be solved, also most packages where cleaned-up, updated to the latest version. Kernel upgraded to version, improved the stability and speed, re-build with support for more hardware devices, cleaned-up the kernel configuration, set Rekonq browser as the default web browser, Gnash upgraded to verison 0.8.8, KDE upgraded to version 4.5.1, removed Ktorrent and replaced it with qBittorrent, which should be much more faster and lightweight.

      • Linux distro Sidux reborn as aptosid

        The name change is due to conflicts between the developers and the board of the registered non-profit Sidux e.V. association. Disputes between the board and the developers have been going on since mid-August and the developers decided to separate from the association shortly after the first board chairman resigned. As the Sidux domains are registered to the association, the Sidux developers have forked to a new name.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Staring through the keyhole at KNOPPIX

        Perhaps the most common request I get from readers is to review utility distributions. Without question the CD which gets used the most in my digital toolbox is KNOPPIX. The KNOPPIX distribution was one of the first projects to offer a Linux live CD, giving people the opportunity to test drive a Linux desktop without installing any software. It’s also well-known for automatically detecting and using a wide range of hardware without user assistance.


        KNOPPIX has a slightly different feel to it. The KNOPPIX live CD isn’t a means to an end (i.e. getting you to install it on your hard drive), the live environment KNOPPIX provides is the means and the end. A lot of the tools a system administrator will want are right there on the disc, it’s well put together and its focus allows for a level of polish. This is a distribution which isn’t chasing the latest cutting-edge technology or trying to wow with eye candy (though it does have some nice desktop effects). Instead, KNOPPIX is a stable system which really delivers useful tools and hardware support. I have used this distro steadily for about five years on a wide range of machines and I have found just one computer, to date, where KNOPPIX wouldn’t boot into a graphical desktop environment.

        The KNOPPIX live discs are dependable and, I’ve found, extremely useful under a wide variety of circumstances. It’s a digital tool I think any administrator should carry with them, whether they’re working in a Linux environment or not.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Ubuntu makeover paying off

          Clearly nothing happens overnight. More than two years ago, Ubuntu chief Mark Shuttleworth went out on a limb and said that his ambition was to make the Ubuntu desktop better than Apple’s famously good-looking desktop.

          Over the next couple of releases small changes were made to the interface of Ubuntu, some popular and some not so popular. And then in Ubuntu 10.04, released in April this year, a new theme was introduced and slowly the changes started to flow.

          Ubuntu may not yet have a better interface than Mac OS X (depending on your perspective) but it looks like the many changes that have been made, and many others still being added in time for the next Ubuntu release, are showing signs that the interface changes are paying off.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Nokia/MeeGo

        • MeeGo in with a “chance” against mobile OS rivals

          Intel has defended MeeGo’s progress, saying its mobile joint venture with Nokia is still wanted by the industry.

          The open source mobile operating system is the result of a tie-up between the two tech giants that brought together Nokia’s Maemo and Intel’s Moblin. It’s designed for tablets, netbooks and handsets as well as televisions and in-car systems.

          The MeeGo platform is “gaining traction,” Intel’s CEO Paul Otellini claimed in a keynote at IDF. MeeGo 1.01 is currently supported by about two dozen netbooks as well as the Nokia N900. Touchscreen support is expected to arrive next month.

          Otellini said room remained for another operating system in the market, suggesting that there was demand by mobile service providers for systems other than Apple’s iOS, Google’s Android and those from handset manufacturers or software vendors such as Microsoft.

      • Android

        • O2 upgrades Dell Streak to Android 2.1
        • Piper Jaffray Forecasts 50% Market Share For Android

          Piper Jaffray, an investment banking firm that earned $7.4 million in net income last quarter, is betting on Android in a big way. Today, Piper Jaffray predicted that Android’s market share will pass the 50 percent mark in the next five years.

        • T-Mobile Unveils Its G2, the Successor to First Android Phone

          The carrier didn’t list a price or exact shipment date, merely saying that customers will be able to pre-order the device later in September and pointing to a site on which they can register to do so . Smartphones in this category have been selling for around $200 to $250 with a two-year contract.

        • Android tablets get own app sites, Android Market access denied

          Both Archos and Toshiba will have app stores for their devices because their versions of the Android OS have not been designed for tablets like theirs. The issue of Android tablets being denied access to that operating system’s primary apps market emerged when Google’s global product management director for mobiles, Hugo Barra told a media briefing at the company’s London offices yesterday that, “If you want Android market on that platform, the apps just wouldn’t run, Froyo is not optimised for tablets.”

        • Google’s Big Tease on Tablets: Android or Chrome OS?

          Hugo Barra, director of products for mobile at Google, reportedly told UK tech news site TechRadar that Android 2.0, code-named Froyo, “is not optimised” (British spelling) to run on tablets. In addition, the Android Market won’t be available on Froyo tablets, a major shortcoming.

        • Android Overtaking iPhone and BlackBerry With Plenty of Room To Grow
        • Why Android Is Stealing Share from iOS

          In other words, Apple’s loss is Android’s gain. Much as iPhone fans might argue the reverse, it’s also no real surprise. In fact, there are three key reasons Android is stealing iOS’s thunder.

        • Africa and the Imminent Domination of Android

          There is a no doubt that Africa is a vast market whose profitability is mostly unrecognized or just glossed over by firms from advanced countries. With a population of over 850m people, there should be no question at all about how this market can help a firm dominate its competitors.

          For quite sometime, I’ve been wondering why Google still had no Android powered phones here. Earlier this month, that prayer was answered with the introduction of the Android powered IDEOS smartphone in Kenya .

        • 50 Fantastic Free Android Apps

          A free Android app is a wonderful thing. The problem is, the Android App Marketplace is a bit freewheeling, and it can be hard to separate the wheat from the chaff. Lucky for you, we’ve done the job for you.

          So let the downloading begin. Yes, you heard right – all of these fantastic 50 are completely free Android apps. Think of them as the best free apps the Android Marketplace has to offer.

          1) ASTRO File Manager

          This app is a full-featured file manager that lets you view and manage the files on your Droid without having to plug it into your computer. You can even use it to backup your Android apps to your SD card.

          2) EStrongs File Explorer

          This local and network file manager provides a file explorer for both the local phone and your remote computer. You can view files on your phone and in your computer’s shared folder and transfer files between them. You can even play audio and video, browse images and view text.

    • Tablets

      • Student E-Reader Startup Kno Raises $46 Million

        Kno says the device will be be available for purchase “by late fall.” The company hasn’t said what the device will cost, but CEO Osman Rashid tells TechCrunch it will sell for under $1,000. Rashid is also the co-founder and chairman of textbook rental startup Chegg, which has raised its own big round last fall.

      • India’s $35 Android 7-inch Tablet to Hit in January

        We’ve been hearing about India’s plans for a $35 computer for a few months now, and for a while we thought it might be all talk. However, it seems India is pushing ahead with plans for the educational tablet.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Could Plexus Help Deliver a Knockout Punch to Facebook?

    It’s very early days, but if it takes off, Plexus could have a very important side-effect. Imagine using it to manage Facebook, say, and then adding the free software replacement Diaspora (assuming it delivers on its promises) too. As the people you follow start to shift across from Facebook to Diaspora (well, I can dream, right?), you would see…precisely nothing, since Plexus would effectively act as a compatibility layer to different social networks, insulating you from the details.

  • Here is the New Open Source

    The reason it’s not a problem for open source as a whole is that what we are seeing in the world of commercial apps is part of something that has been under way ever since free software existed: the software stack is being progressively commoditised by open source code. A less charitable way of putting this is that open source has succeeded when it improves to the point of being able to replace all the rival proprietary systems – and makes that sector somewhat boring as a result.

    This process began at the lowest level, with fundamental operating system code being written to create the basis of an entire free software ecosystem. Once that was on course to overtake commercial systems – and therefore beginning to run out of sufficiently appealing hacking challenges – people started to work on key middleware applications that would run on it, where there were new problems to be solved. That was some time back: remember, Apache has been around for 15 years, as has MySQL, and the LAMP stack combining them with GNU/Linux and programming languages goes back at least to 1998, when the term was coined.

  • Citizen Linus

    I’ll test that myself (but in a bit – I need to go do voter registration and socsec update first, though – I became a US citizen
    last week).

  • Events

    • OpenTech 2010

      In short: Ben Goldacre‘s launching a project to keep track of abandoned or never-published medical trials. Keep also an eye out for Rob McKinnon’s Whoslobbying.com as well. The guys at Young Rewired State showed that despite the relatively poor provision of teaching code in schools, there are some great young talented enthusiastic hackers coming up and making things like this. I missed the talk about Frontline SMS but really like the idea – not everyone has a fancy smartphone after all (see also Terence’s excellent talk on designing for all phones). Finally, I will probably be playing a bit with Scraperwiki and the datasets on data.gov.uk, amongst other things…

    • OpenOffice.org HackFest 2010

      the OOoCon just ended, and we realize how little time we can spend together face2face each year. To properly fix that problem, we hereby announce the next event around OpenOffice.org – a HackFest in Hamburg, specifically targeted to developers, to give all of us more face time & collectively work on the code.

    • Think Tank – Open Source Marketing: “All Change Please”
  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 4′s bold, browser-specific move with HTML 5 audio API

        With the HTML 5 crowd increasing in volume – both in terms of numbers and noise – Mozilla is looking to regain sole possession as standard-bearer for Web standards. Last Tuesday, with the release of Beta 5 of its upcoming Firefox 4, the organization opened up public comment on its own experiment with a possible browser-based API for audio, which may later open up doors for a video API as well. If it gains traction, it could enable Web developers to develop on-screen tools for visualizing and accessing the data contained within an audio stream.


    • Free Software PDF Readers

      What would you think about a sign on the highway stating “You need a Volkswagen to drive on this road. Contact your Volkswagen dealer for a gratis test drive – Your Government”? When it comes to PDF reading software, many governments do this every day.

    • Who’s using free software?

      Free software is software you can study, modify and share without restriction. But unlike proprietary software, there is no big budget marketing campaign behind it. Rather, people discover it and come to value the freedom it provides.

  • Blender

    • Blender 2.54 Beta Released

      Note that in the uploaded packages, the OBJ exporter is still broken. Read more below on how to get and install the correct version and more important note from the release logs.

    • Blender Foundation’s Sintel Open Movie Will Have Its Official Premiere in Another 14 Days

      Sintel is an independently produced short film, initiated by the Blender Foundation as a means to further improve and validate the free/open source 3D creation suite Blender. Between, if you haven’t heard about it yet, you probably haven’t heard about 3 previous open source movie projects by Blender namely Yo Frankie, Elephants Dream and Big Buck Bunny. The initial funding for the project was provided by 1000s of donations via the internet community.

    • Sintel official premiere
  • Government

    • As California goes, so goes the nation?

      Calif. Secretary of State Debra Bowen on open source voting systems and digital literacy

    • Transparency

      I understand your anxiety about the new government’s fixation on what they are pleased to call ‘transparency’, but you are distressing yourself unnecessarily. It afflicts all incoming administrations. It used to be called ‘open government’, and reflects the frustrations they felt when they were in opposition and could not find out what was going on, combined with an eagerness to discover and publicise the deception, distortions and disasters of their predecessors.

    • The government doesn’t look good naked.

      Not so, says Ellen Miller of the Sunlight Foundation, one of the leading advocates for government transparency. On Tuesday at the Gov 2.0 Summit, she made it clear that transparency wasn’t enough. She also wants accuracy, relevance and quality in the data. Instead, Sunlight found $1.3 trillion in inaccuracies on USAspending.gov. She’s also got some choice words for data.gov and other Open Government initiatives. The keynote was a remarkable turn: the administration was completely eviscerated by one of its closest allies. Today, I read that Fast Company’s Austin Carr is similarly disillusioned by this week’s announcement of Challenge.gov. I think it’s safe to say there will be more pieces like this in the next few months.

    • The government doesn’t look good naked.
    • Opening Up Government IT: Better for Less

      It’s true that our new lords and masters (and presumably ladies and mistresses) have made some vaguely encouraging noises about adopting open source, and opening things up in general (which, to be fair, is starting to happen) but so far there’s been precious little evidence of free software actually being used in UK government.

      But moaning is one thing: making concrete suggestions how to get us out of this almighty mess, and to move us to a different procurement regime, quite another. That’s what makes a new report “Better for Less: How to make Government IT deliver savings” particular valuable: it goes beyond pointing out the almost painfully-obvious problems to offering steps that can be taken to address them today.

  • Licensing

    • Dell finally releases sources of GPL licensed software on the Streak

      Today I have received news that Dell has released the source code of the GPL licensed software on the Dell Streak at http://opensource.dell.com/releases/streak. This includes, among other things, the source code to the Linux kernel they are using on the Qualcomm Snapdragon processor.

    • Google Code now accepting all OSI approved licences
    • Google Ends AGPL Embargo

      In a low-key announcement at the end of last week, Google’s open source supremo Chris DiBona announced that their project hosting service, Google Code, is ending its embargo on open source licenses they don’t like, such as the Free Software Foundation’s (FSF) controversial AGPLv3 (a license designed to make the give-back compulsion of the Gnu GPL apply to web-hosted services like the ones Google provides) and Sun’s CDDL (the licence used by OpenSolaris and by many of the former Sun’s Java projects).

    • Are contributor agreements subversive?

      This is a different issue from that of the license. Many projects licensed under the GPL are still subject to contributor agreements.

      These agreements have their fans, and their purpose. They let business be done centrally, without having every minor decision subject to a veto by developers.

      Having a corporate center to an open source business can be a very good thing, assuring regular updates, a quality Web presence, and software worthy of use by an enterprise.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Data

      • Widgets, maps and an API make World Bank data sing

        New tools will help tell stories, but they won’t make every aspect of World Bank data analysis easy. For one, World Bank workers have to integrate data input into their business processes, building a regular reporting framework. For another, there’s the classic challenge of instituting governance and quality for all of that data.

      • Wasting Public Money: Birth, Marriage and Death Digitisation

        Anyway, let me go on record now and say this: FreeBMD will complete this transcription, without cost to the taxpayer, given access to the source records. There’s just one condition: we have to be able to publish the complete transcription, free of charge, on the Internet. Of course, it’ll go a bit faster if we do get some money, so I won’t say we wouldn’t accept if it were offered!

      • OpenStreetMap reaches 300,000 contributors

        The OpenStreetMap (OSM) Project has confirmed that it now has more than 300,000 registered contributors. Founded in August of 2004 by SteveCoast, OpenStreetMap is an open source project that is building free online maps, not based on any copyright or licensed map data.

        In recent years, the OSM project has become increasingly popular; in March of 2009 it surpassed 100,000 registered users and, in January of this year, hit its 200,000 user milestone. In mid-April, OSM’s Richard Weait stated that the project “gets hundreds of new registrations a day”. OSM statistics can be found on the OSM Statistics page and on the Stats wiki.

      • Announcing the LOD2 project
  • Standards/Consortia

    • The line between book and Internet will disappear

      What lurks beneath the EPUB spec

      The secret among those who have poked around EPUB, the open specification for ebooks, is that an .epub file is really just a website, written in XHTML, with a few special characteristics, and wrapped up. It’s wrapped up so that it is self-contained (like a book! between covers!), so that it doesn’t appear to be a website, and so that it’s harder to do the things with an ebook that one expects to be able to do with a website. EPUB is really a way to build a website without letting readers or publishers know it.

      But everything exists within the EPUB spec already to make the next obvious — but frightening — step: let books live properly within the Internet, along with websites, databases, blogs, Twitter, map systems, and applications.

    • Adobe adds HTML5 controls to Illustrator
    • Microdata: HTML5’s Best-Kept Secret
    • Disney to Propose Standards for Web-Connected Toys
    • Interop Demo Illustrates Breadth and Power of ODF to Handle Enterprise, Academic and Gov. Needs

      Last week, OASIS held the ODF 1.2 Interoperability Demonstration to showcase support for ODF 1.2 and the interoperability across eight implementations. The Demo showcased both open source and commercial software applications processing ODF documents on the desktop, in the cloud and on mobile devices, including IBM Lotus Symphony, KOffice, OpenOffice.org Novell Edition, Oracle Open Office, the Python programming library IpOD, Nokia Maemo FreOffice, and Open Framework Systems (OFS).

      The ODF 1.2 Interoperability Demonstration was held in conjunction with the OpenOffice.org Conference in Budapest, Hungary, at Central European University. Real-world documents, provided by scenario partner Louvre Labs, many containing images of artwork in various states of restoration, were programmatically extracted and stored as a new ODF presentation file. This new presentation file was reformatted with the lpOD Python programming library, applying templates provided by KOffice and OpenOffice.org for automated styling. The resulting ODF file was read and edited by a number of desktop ODF applications including Oracle Open Office and KOffice. The edited document were then reviewed a colleague using a Nokia N900 smart phone. By accessing the embedded RDF metadata, including the author’s vCard data, the N900 automatically connected to the author where a discussion completed the review and approval process.

    • Understanding ODF – Open Document Format

      The Open Document Format is a means of saving and encoding documents so that they can be freely opened and edited by non proprietary software. As an example, Microsoft’s .doc format for their Word documents is proprietary and requires that you use Microsoft software to open, edit and save the document. In contrast, the Novus .ODT format is an “open document format” and can be freely opened, edited and saved by numerous software applications.

    • Defining Open standards

      Critics of open standards do not like the equalizing effect of openness on the market. Open standards are best for business. Open standards are best for governments. Those two facts make open standards a panacea. Recalling for a moment that in Greek mythology, Panacea was the goddess of healing, we can simply say that open standards are pure goodness. Those who defend them are heroes. Superheroes, even. Little iron men and women working silently in small meeting rooms for hours, days, months, years.

    • HP Holds Navy Network ‘Hostage’ for $3.3 Billion

      Someday, somehow, the U.S. Navy would like to run its networks — maybe even own its computers again. After 10 years and nearly $10 billion, many sailors are tired of leasing their PCs, and relying on a private contractor to operate most of their data systems. Troops are sick of getting stuck with inboxes that hold 150 times less than a Gmail account, and local networks that go down for days while Microsoft Office 2007 gets installed … in 2010. But the Navy just can’t quit its tangled relationship with Hewlett-Packard. The admirals and the firm recently signed another $3.3 billion no-bid contract that begins Oct. 1st. It’s a final, five-year deal, both sides promise, to let the Navy gently wean itself from its reliance on HP. But that’s what they said the last time, and the time before that.


  • Interview with Pastor Jones’ Daughter

    It remains unclear whether Pastor Terry Jones will go ahead with his plan to burn Korans in Florida on Saturday. His daughter Emma has begged him not to go through with it. In an interview with SPIEGEL ONLINE, she describes a man who became a victim of his own delusions.

  • Afghans protest US church’s plans to burn Quran
  • End of a nation? ‘Get ready for the break-up of Belgium’

    A top Belgian politician warned the country’s citizens on Sunday to “get ready for the break-up of Belgium,” as King Albert II seeks to relaunch knife-edge coalition talks.

    Leading francophone Socialist Laurette Onkelinx, considered a potential successor to party chief Elio Di Rupo, who gave up on negotiations with separatist Flemish leaders on Friday, gave her prognosis in a newspaper interview.

  • Cisco pays millions to end DoJ probe

    Cisco Systems and distie Westcon Group North America, owned by South African firm Datatec, are to pay $48m to end an investigation by the US Department of Justice into overcharging.

  • Has HP blundered big time?

    Oh dear HP, what have you done, what Pandora’s box have you opened to unleash terror and despair on yourself?

    This is all to do with ejected HP CEO Mark Hurd who is joining Oracle as its co-president.

  • Murdoch’s paywall is down today ‘for maintenance’

    While the website’s homepage is present, clicking on any story leads to a blank page that just has the word “OK” in the top left hand corner. But what would seem like a total meltdown of the Media Mogul’s beloved walled garden’s wall is said to be only “maintenance”.

  • World’s Most Cramped Airline Seat to Launch Next Week

    The SkyRider is a saddle-style airplane seat which will allow airlines to squeeze even more passengers into already cramped cabins. The poor passenger will perch atop a sculpted squab that has more in common with a horse-saddle than a comfy chair.

    The new seats are due to be launched next week at the Aircraft Interiors Expo Americas conference in Long Beach, by manufacturer Aviointeriors. They’re intended to introduce a new cabin-class, below economy. It should probably be called cattle-class.

  • Norwegian newsreader quits in live radio broadcast

    Pia Beathe Pedersen accused her employers at the regional radio station of public broadcaster NRK of putting too much pressure on the staff.

    Pedersen said in the live Saturday broadcast that she was “quitting and walking away” because she “wanted to be able to eat properly again and be able to breathe.”

  • Craigslist lawsuit against SC’s McMaster dismissed

    A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed by Craigslist against South Carolina’s attorney general, who is trying to prosecute the Internet company for carrying ads for prostitution.

  • Police: Thieves Robbed Homes Based On Facebook, Social Media Sites
  • Science

    • Peak MHz

      This chart demonstrates that we hit the era of what I’m calling Peak MHz in about 2004. That’s the point when processor speed effectively peaked as chip manufacturers began competing along other dimensions. Those other dimensions–energy efficiency, size and cost–are driving ubiquitous computing, as their chips become more efficient, smaller and cheaper, thus making them increasingly easier to include into everyday objects.

    • Stanford and Berkeley teams create ‘electric skin’

      Interestingly, the Berkeley team mentions their prosthetic skin not only has applications for biomedical devices, but also applies to the interactions of artificial intelligence and humans (Data’s artificial skin in First Contact anyone?). They also mention that while such technology has been explored before, it has yet to be created in a cost-effective and sufficiently sensitive way.

    • Spaceflight formation flying test bed takes off

      Getting complicated systems onboard a single spacecraft to operate as one integrated unit can be hard enough but some space agencies are trying to address the challenges of getting multiple spacecraft to fly in formation and operate together as one unit.

  • Security/Aggression

    • 102 Taser-Related Deaths in the United States

      Something is wrong in America when the police electrocute folks on a WEEKLY basis with their taser arsenal … and the public is mute in its response.

    • Mexican Crime, American Guns

      A shocking new report obtained by ABC News says that as many as three out of four guns used in crimes in Mexico and recovered and capable of being traced can be traced to gun stores just across the border in the U.S. The numbers bolster complaints by Mexican officials that the country’s unprecedented bloodshed – 28,000 people have died in drug-cartel violence since 2006 – is being fueled both by the U.S. appetite for drugs, and by American weapons.

    • Report: US must deal with domestic radical problem

      Report says US has failed to create systems to deal with homegrown terror

    • Robert Fisk: The truth about ‘honour’ killings
    • Assange under fire from Wikileakers

      Criticism of Wikileaks mouthpiece Julian Assange is growing, with more voices joining the chorus calling for him to step aside while his various Swedish legal problems are sorted out.

    • Wikileaks will soon post biggest military leak ever
    • The General Gunning for WikiLeaks

      As WikiLeaks prepares a new dump of secret war documents, the feds’ intel SWAT team races to do damage control. Philip Shenon reports on its leader and its inner workings.

      In a nondescript suite of government offices not far from the Pentagon, nearly 120 intelligence analysts, FBI agents, and others are at work—24 hours a day, seven days a week—on the frontlines of the government’s secret war against WikiLeaks.

    • McKinnon family welcomes extradition treaty review

      The coalition government’s decision to review extradition law has been welcomed by family and supporters of Gary McKinnon, even though it’s unlikely to have an immediate effect on his case.

      Home Secretary Teresa May announced plans to review the UK’s extradition arrangements on Tuesday in response to long-running complaints that the existing system, introduced in 2004, is unfair. US authorities are not required to present evidence in making extradition requests, a requirement of reciprocal extradition proceedings from the US to the UK.

    • One in four gives fake net names

      More than a quarter of people online have lied about their name and more than one in five has done something online they regret, says a new report.

    • UK police terror trainers lose USB stick in street

      The curse of the unencrypted memory stick has stuck Manchester Police, which has suffered embarrassment as a drive containing apparently sensitive information was found lying in the street.

      The unsecured data on the drive related to training information on coping with riots, violent suspects, and public disorder. According to the Daily Star, the red top newspaper to which the drive was handed in by a passer-by, some of the information has bearing on terrorism training, including blast control, firearms handling and strategies for dealing with petrol and bomb attacks.

    • Wiltshire policeman bailed over cell attack appeal

      A police officer who was jailed for six months after he was caught on CCTV throwing a woman into a cell has been granted bail pending an appeal.

      Sgt Mark Andrews was filmed dragging Pamela Somerville, 59, through Melksham police station in Wiltshire.

      The 37-year-old was jailed last week after being found guilty of causing her actual bodily harm at a trial in July.

    • DARPA Wants to Install Transcranial Ultrasonic Mind Control Devices in Soldiers’ Helmets

      DARPA has been trying to crawl inside the minds of soldiers for a while now, but a new ultrasound technology could let them get deeper inside than ever. Working under a DARPA grant, a researcher at Arizona State is developing transcranial pulsed ultrasound technology that could be implanted in troops’ battle helmets, allowing soldiers to manipulate brain functions to boost alertness, relieve stress, or even reduce the effects of traumatic brain injury.

    • Chile: the other 9/11 anniversary

      Of the many military coups faced by the republics of Latin America, it is the coup of 11 September 1973 that has engraved itself most permanently on the collective memory. The images of the bombing of the Moneda Palace, of the despair on the face of Salvador Allende shortly before his suicide, of the defiant expression worn by Pinochet behind his dark glasses and of the public burning of books that circulated around the world and became the symbol of military brutality.

    • Fidel Castro says remarks about Cuban model ‘not working’ misinterpreted

      Fidel Castro said today that his comment to a US journalist about Cuba’s system not working had been misinterpreted.

    • Homeland Security Department Begins Using Iris Scanners to Track Illegal Immigrants

      Last month, we reported on Global Rainmakers Inc. (GRI), a biometrics R&D firm that’s bringing iris scanning technology to Leon, Mexico. GRI aims to make Leon “the most secure city in the world” by dotting the city with scanners and creating an iris database to track all residents. Now, it appears the technology will be crossing the border sooner than we expected.

      Today, it surfaced that the Department of Homeland Security is planning to test GRI’s tech at a border patrol station in Texas, where it will be used to monitor illegal immigrants. Rather than continue to rely on oft-unreliable fingerprints, the DHS is experimenting with the scanners to see whether they have a viable future for border security.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Arctic defenders deported from Greenland

      Sadly, all four of our climbers will not be coming back to the Esperanza after all. Jens, Sim, Timo and Matt are flying home to Germany, USA, Finland and Poland respectively. Their personal belongings are still on board and they are going home in spare clothes bought for them by friends in Greenland. I’m sure they’ll be glad to see their families again but we’re really going to miss them on the ship and we haven’t finished our ‘Go Beyond Oil’ tour yet.

    • Activists are not criminals

      After more than two years of political prosecution, my colleagues Junichi Sato and Toru Suzuki were this week handed a one-year jail sentence, suspended for three years. Their crime: exposing corruption in the Japanese whaling programme.

      Over the course of their trial, Junichi and Toru produced substantial evidence of embezzlement within the decaying relic that is Japan’s whaling industry. When I came to Japan in February for the start of this trial I was shocked that Junichi and Toru were even in court. What I saw in the Aomori court is deeply concerning.


      Greenpeace activists are keenly aware of any risks they may take with life, limb, and liberty, and all are prepared face the consequences of their actions. Activists are not above the law, but neither are the authorities. When activists challenge the authorities they do so in the public interest and not for personal gain. It is unacceptable for authorities to abuse their power to try to silence them.

    • A Symbolic Solar Road Trip To Reignite a U.S. Climate Movement

      As I write this piece, we’re in the midst of a (biodiesel) road trip to Washington, D.C., towing behind us an unwieldy piece of history: a solar panel off the roof of the Carter White House. It’s decades old, though it still makes hot water just fine. In a sense, we’re traveling backward—which in another sense is what I think we’re going to have to do for a while in the U.S. climate movement.

    • Steady Growth of Wind Industry Moves EU Closer to Green Goals
    • New Solar Trees Light Up Angkor Wat, Cambodia

      New solar powered street lights installed in Angkor Wat, Cambodia add much needed public lighting to the area, in a fun, low-energy design that increases night-time safety and facilitates greater earnings for local businesses. Nothing Design Group conceived of the tree-like design, and developed the lights in partnership with Asiana Airlines and Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA). The project team wished to create lights that would both increase night-time safety and help elevate Cambodia’s image.

    • Mass collaboration to improve climate data — a new frontier in citizen science

      Scientists meeting in the UK this week are crafting a revolutionary new project aimed at transforming their ability to predict meteorological disasters. The goal, as reported by the Guardian, “is to create an international databank that would generate forecasts of unprecedented precision.” To make that happen, the scientists behind the project are contemplating something even more radical: enlisting thousands of ordinary citizens around the world to gather, classify and even help analyze the meteorological data required to build more accurate, real-time models of the Earth’s climate.

    • Sensor networks and the future of forecasting

      Weather has caused great disruption to many lives in both Russia and Pakistan in recent months. While these are separate circumstances, they share common physical factors. The following is a look at how events in one part of the world influence weather elsewhere.

    • BP ultimatum: Let us drill or funds will dry up

      Oil giant BP is telling lawmakers that if it isn’t allowed to get new offshore drilling permits in the Gulf, it will not be able to afford to pay for the damage caused by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, the New York Times reported in its Friday edition.

      The Times reports the UK-based oil giant is on the warpath against a drilling reform bill passed by the House earlier this summer that would effectively bar BP from getting new drilling permits in the US.

      The CLEAR Act, passed by the House in July, includes an amendment (PDF) that states any oil company that has received more than $10 million in safety fines, or has seen more than 10 workers killed in the past seven years, is barred from being granted new drilling permits. The Times notes that, currently, only BP fits that criteria.

    • How Big Oil will stop my children from driving electric cars

      One reason is that the Department for Transport can no longer afford to help me buy one. The government has allocated £43m to subsidise ultra-low-carbon cars, but at £5,000 a car that’s only enough to help the first few thousand of us who switch over. So whether or not I end up with an electric car doesn’t have a great deal to do with consumer subsidies.

  • Finance

    • The problem with economics

      Monetary theory seems to have fallen in disgrace. Very few academics actually focus on macro monetary theory as it is judged irrelevant. Austrians treat money as if it didn’t exist. Keynesians barely scratch the subject. Ironically I had to read marxists to actually make sense of the banking system (critical eye I suppose). Yet the macro cycle, the minsky cycle, receives a huge contribution from monetary levels. As monetary mass increases (say subprime debt) the price of assets run-away in a positive feedback loop (more debt, more money, more expensive assets, better returns, more debt). This is why the initial phase of a monetary minsky cycle is such a political aphrodisiac. Open the money valves and watch your economy grow in nominal and real terms.

    • Analysts: Iraq war ‘partly to blame’ for financial crisis

      The financial crisis that rocked the world in 2008 and still reverberates today was “due at least in part” to the Iraq war, which also made it more difficult for the government to react when economic problems happened, argue two prominent policy makers.

      In an article in Sunday’s Washington Post, former Clinton-era economic adviser Joseph Stiglitz and Harvard University public policy lecturer Linda J. Bilmes say that the Iraq war forced the US to take on more debt than it had to, and caused in part the rising oil prices that resulted in large amounts of money flowing out of the US economy.

    • British economy in ‘great danger’, trades union warns

      The government’s programme of drastic spending cuts is putting the British economy in “great danger”, the Trades Union Congress has warned ahead of its annual conference opening in Manchester on Monday.

    • Goolsbee Refuses to Say How Many Jobs Obama’s New Stimulus Will Create

      President Barack Obama spent last week rolling out new plans to help America’s struggling economy — $50 billion in infrastructure spending and about $200 billion in tax cuts for companies’ investments in research and development. But just how many jobs will these pricey proposals create?

    • FTSE 100 executive bonuses close to pre-crisis levels

      Executive bonuses are close to their level before the financial crisis, a survey by business advisory firm Deloitte says.

      It found that the average bonuses for directors of FTSE 100 firms amounted to 100% of their basic salary, rising to 140% in the top 30 public companies.

      However, Deloitte said the days of fast increases in executive salaries were over for the present.

      And in mid-sized FTSE 250 firms, one in seven paid no bosses’ bonus last year.

    • Bankruptcy Court Is Latest Battleground for Traders

      “Now what happens is you have very sophisticated people whose primary objective is material gain,” says Harvey Miller, a veteran bankruptcy lawyer at Weil, Gotshal & Manges. “You’ve changed [bankruptcy] from at least the semblance of a rehabilitative approach to a casino approach of ‘how do I make more money?’”

    • Trustee for Rothstein Law Firm Files Clawback Suits Worth $14 Million

      The bankruptcy trustee for Rothstein Rosenfeldt Adler is casting a wider net to recover money distributed by the insolvent Fort Lauderdale, Fla., law firm in the final months before it tanked in a spectacular $1.2 billion fraud.

      Berger Singerman attorney David L. Gay, representing court-appointed trustee Herbert Stettin, filed a series of eight clawback actions late Friday seeking $14.2 million that went out the door within 90 days of the bankruptcy at Scott Rothstein’s law firm.

      The investment commitments illustrate the success of Rothstein’s Ponzi scheme as he recruited investors with promises of annual returns as high as 164 percent.

    • Trading Eludes Dodd-Frank as Investors See Black Box

      It took a Congressional inquiry this year to force Goldman Sachs Group Inc. to disclose how much it made in the mortgage market — and that was only for 2007.

      Goldman Sachs hasn’t revealed mortgage-trading revenue since then, leaving investors to guess how much it contributes to the fixed-income, currency and commodities division, or FICC, which also trades junk bonds, yen, oil and uranium, sells weather derivatives and operates power plants. The division brought in $23.3 billion last year, or 52 percent of the New York-based firm’s total, and by itself would rank 90th by revenue in the Standard & Poor’s 500 Index, just ahead of McDonald’s Corp., according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

      The Dodd-Frank Act, designed to prevent future financial crises, does little to improve investors’ ability to analyze results at the five biggest U.S. firms that trade securities, which together lost $38.6 billion as markets froze in the fourth quarter of 2008. Since taxpayers may have to bail out banks again, firms should be forced to disclose more, said Tanya Azarchs, former head of North American bank research at Standard & Poor’s.

      “The health of the banking system impinges on all areas of the economy,” said Azarchs, now a consultant in Briarcliff Manor, New York. “So their disclosure has to be top-notch.”

    • Banks get years to adjust to new global rules

      Bankers and analysts said new global rules could mean less money available to lend to businesses and consumers, but praised a decision to leave plenty of time – until 2019 – before the financial stability requirements come into full force.

      The so-called Basel III rules, which will gradually require banks to hold greater capital buffers to absorb potential losses, are likely to affect the credit industry by imposing stricter discipline on credit cards, mortgages and other loans.

    • How Many Jobs Do We Need?

      Do those unemployed really need jobs? Some economists suggest that many are just free-riding on the rest of us by taking extended unemployment benefits. In last week’s post, I argued that a focus on the decline in wage and salary jobs is useful, because it sidesteps the assertion that the unemployed are just pretending to want work.

    • New banking rules lift global markets

      A warm response to new global banking rules and robust Chinese economic data shored up sentiment in the markets Monday, with stocks up strongly, the euro climbing over a cent against the dollar and oil prices spiking to a one-month high.

    • Regulators Back New Bank Rules to Avert Crises

      The world’s top bank regulators agreed Sunday on far-reaching new rules intended to make the global banking industry safer and protect international economies from future financial disasters.

      The new requirements will more than triple the amount of capital that banks must hold in reserve, an effort to move banks toward more conservative positions and force them to maintain a larger cushion against potential losses. They come two years after the collapse of Lehman Brothers set off a worldwide banking crisis that required billions in government bailouts.

    • Wis. Harley workers approve contract to freeze pay

      The proposed deal freezes employees’ pay, slashes hundreds of production jobs and assigns large volumes of work to part-time workers. But it also saves at hundreds of other jobs, at least in the short-term.

    • Regulators meeting in Switzerland agree on new global rules to strengthen banks

      Regulators meeting in Basel, Switzerland, on Sunday agreed to take new steps to immunize the financial system from the sort of crisis that pushed the world into recession two years ago.

    • Global banking rules aim to balance safety, growth

      Banks will have to significantly increase their capital reserves under rules endorsed Sunday by the world’s major central banks, which are trying to prevent another financial collapse without impeding the fragile economic recovery.

      The new banking rules are designed to strengthen bank finances and rein in excessive risk-taking, but some banks have protested that they may dampen the recovery by forcing them to reduce the lending that fuels economic growth.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • No recession here: Election spending sets records

      Turns out politics, for all its focus on the gloomy economy, is a recession-proof industry.

      This year’s volatile election is bursting with money, setting fundraising and spending records in a high-stakes struggle for control of Congress amid looser but still fuzzy campaign finance rules.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • MPs backed down from calling Rebekah Brooks to Commons

      Brooks was summoned to give evidence for the committee’s report, Press Standards, Privacy and Libel. Most of the hearings were held in early 2009. But a second round of hearings were held in the summer after fresh allegations about phone hacking were published by the Guardian in July 2009.

      The committee was highly critical of News International, which said that the News of the World’s former royal editor Clive Goodman, jailed for his role in phone hacking, was a rogue reporter. The committee accused Rupert Murdoch’s company of “collective amnesia”.

    • Polls Show Netizens Oppose Craigslist’s Censorship
    • Zimbabwe: Mugabe bans music group over “chicken” song

      Zimbabwe’s government has banned South African group Freshlyground over a music video that portrays President Mugabe as a chicken afraid to relinquish power.

    • Swaziland pro-democracy protesters threatened with torture

      Swaziland has threatened pro-democracy activists with torture as tensions in sub-Saharan Africa’s last absolute monarchy continue to grow.

      The warning that sipakatane – beating people’s feet with spikes – could be used against protesters was condemned by trade unions in the country after a week in which 50 protesters were arrested and several foreigners treated roughly and deported.

    • Archbishop Bans Pop Music at Funerals

      Eric Idle of Monty Python discusses the popularity of “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life,” one of the songs a Roman Catholic leader in Australia does not want to hear during funerals.

      On Thursday in Australia, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Melbourne announced a ban on the playing of pop music at funerals, which, he said, are not to be described as “a celebration of the life of” the deceased.

    • “Magic Words” Trump User Rights: Ninth Circuit Ruling in Vernor v. Autodesk

      In a triumph of legal formalism over reality, the Court held that the copyright’s first sale doctrine – the law that allows you to resell books and that protects libraries and archives from claims of copyright infringement – doesn’t apply to software (and possibly DVDs, CDs and other “licensed” content) as long as the vendor saddles the transfer with enough restrictions to transform what the buyer may think is sale into a mere license.

    • School suspends crying son of murdered man because his eyes were red

      A high school in the town of Trophy Club, TX suspended a 16-year-old boy because he came to school with bloodshot eyes. School administrators say that’s enough to make the case he was using marijuana.

    • Tightened muzzle on scientists is ‘Orwellian’

      Documents reveal federal researchers, whose work is financed by taxpayers, need approval from Ottawa before speaking with media

    • Benioff monitors worker communications

      Salesforce.com chief executive Marc Benioff has been monitoring worker communications to identify key employees.

      Chatter is a Salesforce social networking tool designed to plug into the companies’ customer relationship management software. Chatter lets staff post status updates in a similar manner to Twitter, and review feeds, like Facebook.

    • Once Again, Yelp Not Liable For Reviews Someone Doesn’t Like

      It’s really quite stunning how frequently people sue review sites because they’re unhappy about reviews of their business. You would hope that the lawyers these upset business owners use would know better — but all too often the lawyers appear to be totally unfamiliar with Section 230 of the CDA and with the basic concept of properly applying liability to the party who actually did the action. And every time this happens, the case gets thrown out on 230 grounds. It’s happened yet again, with a dentist having a case against Yelp dismissed thanks to Section 230.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Market Extremism in Spectrum Policy

      So to get back to spectrum policy, the ideal regime would be one in which there was no spectrum rules at all and devices self-organized to avoid interfering with one another. Given that that’s not within the realm of technical possibility, the questions we should ask are: which set of regulations maximizes the freedom of individuals to use the spectrum as they choose? And which set of regulations will lead to the most efficient utilization of spectrum? Jerry’s preferred scheme of exclusive licenses for the entire spectrum doesn’t fit the bill because it puts a thumb on the scale in favor of large, capital-intensive firms that can win multi-billion dollar auctions. (Yes, some firm or charity might win an auction and choose to create a WiFi-style band, but such applications would be very much second-class citizens.) Similarly, a “pure” commons regime doesn’t fit the bill because it only leaves room for small-scale, short-range applications like WiFi. What’s needed is a policy that accommodates both uses.

    • British Telecomm and Cisco’s Network Neutrality Fix

      British Telecomm and Cisco are quietly putting their own answer to Network Neutrality in place: Set up an entirely separate national wide network, Content Connect This will be used to deliver the BBC’s forthcoming Internet video and Video on Demand (VoD) service Project Canvas to users.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • No P2P for Irish Vodaphone customers? – and then a change of mind?

        Vodaphone, the provider of mobile and broadband services has allegedly prohibited the use of p2p protocols on its networks albeit verbally. Whilst a p2p blow to the phone service would be bad enough, the fact that they have taken the step to hit the desktop services aswel would be for many, a step too far.

        Looking past the customers that would be driven to other providers who have not taken this stance, I would like to address a point raised by The Mad Hatter and where previously my own lack of foresight negated to consider a potential problem when p2p was linked with “piracy”.

      • Sarko hit by ‘asshole’ Googlebomb

        Nikolas Sarkozy has become the latest high profile victim of a Google bomb, after bloggers linked his Facebook page to the phrase “trou du cul”.

      • Bollywood ‘recruits DDoS hired guns to fight movie pirates’

        An Indian firm claims it was hired to carry out denial of service attacks against film download and torrent tracker websites at the behest of Bollywood movie distributors in India.

        Girish Kumar, managing director of Aiplex Software, said it was paid to search for sites offering download of newly released films, before issuing copyright takedown notices.

      • Video game piracy: Is it good for business?

        Putting digital diversions in more people’s hands and letting them pay what they want, when they want, has the potential to massively expand gaming’s reach and profitability. By taking the same approach Google has to online advertising, clever game makers could turn rampant copying of games not only into the sincerest form of flattery but into a workable future.

      • Court ruling in Eminem case may raise pay for digital downloads

        In a development that could have fallout in the world of digital music, Eminem stands to gain tens of millions of dollars in a federal court decision handed down Friday.

      • Disruption: how one webcomic welcomes the future that so many fear

        A copy of the famous xkcd comic “Duty Calls” hangs just outside my office door, signed by creator Randall Munroe. I didn’t have to pay for the comic; it was free to view anytime, and I could have printed the (smaller) Web version if I desperately needed it on my wall. But xkcd is funny, Randall comes across as a good guy whose work I’d like to support, the print came signed on thick paper stock and printed at a higher resolution, and it was about $15. The real question isn’t why I paid; it’s why wouldn’t I pay?

        Munroe’s approach to “protecting” his content might be best defined as “lenient.”

      • Copyright and free speech in conflict

        Some very interesting copyright events being reported this weekend. The most concerning is from the New York Times, who report that Microsoft lawyers are co-operating with Russian police to suppress environmental and civil society campaign groups, by taking the groups to court for violations of Microsoft copyright.

        The strategy seems to be to pick government enemies exclusively, and raid their premises to find copyright violations; ie, copied, unlicensed software. Since illicit copying of software is rampant in Russia, the chances of success are high, and the penalties are conveniently very severe.

      • The Super Highway and censorship

        More cars, more highways, stricter copyright, censorship – absolutely primitive ideas!

        In a fragile democracy like the mexican one, with few formal ways of influencing policy, we have to be alert and protest every time copyright is used to censor the voice of citizens or control public space.

        Even though YouTube shows in this broken link that the department of communication of the state of Jalisco as the ones that asking for the removal of the video, the government has issue official statements through Twitter, denying their involvement in the removal of “Via Express en el mundo”.

      • artists and record companies

        Last week the music industry was shaken by court decision on a lawsuit. Universal Music, one of the big four record companies. has been ordered to distribute more of the money collected in royalties to the rap star Eminem.


        Universal is unwilling to give creator Eminem 50% of the profits.

        This record company is going to go back to court and fight this.

      • Geist: Significant new costs loom for students

        This is a win-win situation for the educational sector and creators of educational works. The savings happen not by not paying creators, but by getting rid of unnecessary overhead that exists in the educational publishing sector. It also gets rid of the necessity for per-student licensing from organisations like Access Copyright, with the educational sector then calling upon collectives as a “one stop shopping” for the remaining (primarily fiction) materials that students still require that use royalty-based licensing models.

        Will the Canadian educational sector make the right decision, or will they continue to be behind the times in their adoption of Open Access? Lets not take these articles as a justification for feeling sorry for the educational sector’s self-inflicted wounds, but as a reminder that they have some forward-facing choices to make.

      • CC is for Creator’s Choice

        Creative Commons licensing is a marvelous tool that allows creators to get around the detrimental and restrictive aspects of copyright law. Creators can release their work in the way that they want to.

        The reason I love Raffaella Traniello’s film so much is because it does such a good job getting the message across. Every song I’ve heard, every movie I’ve watched, every picture I’ve seen, every bit of art I’ve ever been exposed to, everything that has danced across my senses has been absorbed and makes me who I am. The creativity of others has become part of my life experience, and as it’s distilled through my unconscious and forms the basis of my own creativity. No art comes out of a vacuum; it collaborates with a culture. Art needs to share and be shared, which is why I believe that the current copyright law has already gone too far.

      • Vandals’ Bass Player Not A Fan Of The Public Domain, Thinks PD Recordings Will ‘Destroy’ Classical Music

        We’ve covered how Vandals’ bass player, Joe Escalante, a former entertainment industry lawyer, is currently in the middle of a legal fight with Reed Elsevier over a parody logo the band briefly used — but has since stopped using. His discussions of the lawsuit have been interesting and informative, so I’m a bit shocked to see the following article, submitted by a bunch of folks where Escalante goes a bit off his rocker in attacking the public domain as “communism.” Honestly, I had to read it a few times, and am still sort of wondering if this is pure satire. If it is, bravo. If it’s not, Escalante may have taken cluelessness about the public domain to previously unheard of levels.

      • Online appeal sets classical music free

        The project, Musopen, aims to deal with a problem caused by the way copyright laws work. Although the actual symphonies written by composers in, for example, the 19th century are long out of copyright, there is separate protection for every individual performance by an orchestra. That means that in most cases, the only recordings currently in the public domain are very old performances generally recorded with poor quality equipment and plagued with hiss and crackle.

      • Attribution

        The most basic element included in all of the six standard Creative Commons licenses is “Attribution“.
        In other words, when using the the digital works of others, the license requirement is to give the artist credit for the work we are using. As far as I know, the only CC license that doesn’t require this is the public domain license.

        Even so, I prefer to credit the artist if I know who it is. For pre-digital creative work, a lot of effort can go into trying to find out who the artist was. There’s speculation that Shakespeare didn’t really write the plays he is attributed with having written.

      • ACTA

        • Latest leaked draft of secret copyright treaty: US trying to cram DRM rules down the world’s throats

          Ironically, this DRM push comes just as the US courts and regulators have begun to erode the US’s own extreme rules on the subject. Or perhaps this isn’t so surprising: in the past, the US copyright lobby has torpedoed the courts and Congress by getting USA to commit to international agreements that went far beyond the rules that they could push through on their own at home.

        • ACTA hanging on a camembert ?

          The representatives of Act Up-Paris, April and La Quadrature du Net met on September 10th with one of the French officials in charge of the ACTA negotiations. Strong concerns remain regarding the way this anti-Counterfeiting agreement is bypassing democratic processes. Whether it is access to medicines in poor countries, free communication on the Internet or the protection of Free software, the recent modifications to the text don’t change anything to the dangerous nature of ACTA. Ironically, the hopes to see this illegitimate agreement rejected now depend on the ability of the European Union to defend its camembert, its parmesan and its champagne…

Clip of the Day

Qt for S60 – PLC Realtime data

Credit: TinyOgg

Novell’s Decline, OpenSUSE, Ballnux Tax, Proprietary Software and Fog Computing Obsessions

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Novell, OpenSUSE, Patents, SLES/SLED at 8:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell as moon

Summary: A comprehensive look at one week of Novell news, which ought to help show the company’s sad direction (which decreases emphasis on freedom over time)

Novell’s value is now far lower than Red Hat's. A glance at some financial news reveals that Novell has “[m]arket cap of $1,994B. Price/Cash ratio at 1.91.”

That’s under $2 billion. How low need it go before Novell is bought? It’s time for OpenSUSE to rush and escape Novell, which will totally control the project otherwise.


Some people still favour OpenSUSE and longtime supporters of it write about the latest milestone:

On Thurday, September 2 two leading Linux distributions released milestone developmental versions on the road to their next releases. OpenSUSE released Milestone 1 of 11.4 and Ubuntu released a beta of their upcoming 10.10, codenamed Maverick Meerkat, for developers and community testers.

There is some more news in the OpenSUSE Web site [1, 2], but it’s rather quiet and not all is well (OpenSUSE has lost to other distributions of GNU/Linux). It’s not just OpenSUSE that deals with flaws; Novell’s proprietary software too has new problems:

Today’s vulnerability is a Novell NetWare parsing buffer-overflow flaw.

We’ll come to NetWare in a moment.


Google’s Tim Bray writes about his new Tab (which is subjected to Microsoft tax of the first kind, just like other Korean products including this new Android smartphone from LG):

Friday afternoon, Fedex brought me my Samsung Galaxy Tab, and from here on in let’s just say “Tab”, which I predict everyone will and may represent mad product-naming skillz from Samsung. Since then it’s been in my pocket and living room.

It is a tad disappointing that Google does nothing to protest — let alone to mention — Microsoft tax on these products. This type of tax is the main reason Techrights came into existence (as the “Boycott Novell” campaign). Nearly 4 years later we are still facing the problem of Microsoft tax on Linux from numerous vendors (inspired by Novell). At least Microsoft has not managed to spread this tax much further since 2007 (most patent deals were signed back in 2007 and then GPLv3 was released, closing a loophole that Novell had identified and exploited).

Dell’s new server has SUSE support, but as Rui Seabra put it earlier this month “[o]nly idiots want to pay for Novell” because it’s irregular and expensive for no good reason (Microsoft tax). Seabra needs to deal with this mess because of those “idiots” as he calls them.

Proprietary Software Galore

Last month we saw a Novell account in YouTube uploading an advertisements archive (see for example [1, 2, 3, 4]). It’s not just from recent years as there is more from the 90s and about a decade ago. Novell “success stories” were meanwhile uploaded by Novell’s main YouTube account [1, 2, 3] while other accounts promoted Novell Data Synchronizer [1, 2, 3, 4], Novell Secure Login [1, 2], Accounts Payable Scanning Showcase [1, 2], and a Sentinel Log Manager presentation [1, 2, 3]. New adverts arrive at the video site owned by Google [1, 2, 3, 4] and the VAR Guy helps promote the company’s agenda, still [1, 2]. It is all proprietary software by the way, unlike Google’s Wave, which will see its liberated code exploited by Novell within a proprietary context (GroupWise):

It seems unlikely that Wave in a Box will compete with Novell Pulse in the enterprise in terms of features — but if the developers are there, I believe Wave in a Box could attract some enterprise business.

Zonker writes about Wave and mentions his former employer:

A few companies, like Novell, are still soldiering on with products based on Wave.

Eskom is dumping Novell for even worse lock-in right now.

Eskom is in the process of upgrading its information technology architecture, which includes migrating from Novell to Microsoft.

Despite Microsoft et al. spreading FUD about the large-scale Los Angeles migration, Novell loses a major contract there too

Previously, Los Angeles used Novell’s GroupWise suite for email and other productivity applications. In all, once the project is complete, more than 30,000 employees will be using Google’s hosted apps for email, calendaring, documents, spreadsheets, instant messaging and video. The city also will use Google Sites, a website creation and sharing service.

Another little bit of interest (also proprietary):

For those who do not use computers on campus and are unfamiliar with Active Directory, it is a new service on campus which has replaced the Novelle Directory which was previously used. Active Directory allows students to create their own personal accounts within the network.
“One thing we’d never done with Novell is we’d never created accounts for students,” Joe Newton, director of Information Technology said. “We decided it was time that we should be able to give students their own personal accounts within the active directory system.

Fog Computing

Novell’s PR blog was only marketing proprietary BSM software last week [1, 2] and the company’s relationship with VMware (proprietary) is still in some news items [1, 2] along with Intelligent Workload Management, which is proprietary software for Fog Computing/virtualisation. Here are Novell’s PR people explaining what this proprietary addon to SUSE can achieve:

In two conference presentations, Novell experts detailed how cloud-enabling technologies like the SUSE Appliance Program, Novell Cloud Security Service and Novell Cloud Manager are helping enterprise organizations solve the complexities of cloud computing by helping them better understand and leverage the intelligent workload management market.

Robert L. Mitchell writes about Fog Computing and mentions Novell as follows:

Private cloud architectures may be gaining a toe hold in the enterprise, but standards to facilitate managing across competing platforms are still many years away, says Benjamin Grubin, director of data center management solutions and product marketing at Novell. Grubin dropped by Computerworld’s offices today to talk about Novell’s approach to private cloud management.

Watch Novell in this new panel discussing Fog Computing.

Former Novellers

Former employees of Novell may matter too, e.g. Chris Lundell who becomes the CEO of Corda:

Prior to LANDesk, Lundell served in a variety of roles at Novell, including head of North American marketing, where he cultivated relationships with many of Novell’s largest customers and partners.

Jaffe, Novell’s former CTO, is mentioned in this article. He is in the W3C now, not causing any real damage so far (he is pro-software patents).

Microsoft’s Clippy Voted Most Hated Mascot Ever

Posted in Apple, Marketing, Microsoft at 7:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Vigor's evil assistant!
Vigor’s evil assistant! (licensing details at the bottom)

Summary: News about Clippy and about Apple’s ‘antennagate’, which are said to have caused damage to Microsoft’s and Apple’s reputation, respectively

Thomas Claburn has this new gallery of “Top 10 Most Hated Tech Mascots Ever”. At number 1: “Clippy”

Introduced to the world in Microsoft Office ’97 for Windows, Clippit the Office Assistant, AKA Clippy, has been declared “one of the worst software design blunders in the annals of computing,” by Smithsonian Magazine. And similar sentiments have been expressed in countless other publications, blogs, and videos. Everyone hates Clippy, and such unanimity is rare online. Really, we should be thankful for Clippy as the source of endless mirth.

Here is another new poll of interest (regarding Apple):

About 20 percent of mobile phone users said the antenna problem on the iPhone 4 caused them not to buy one. But more than 60 percent said it was because of Apple’s exclusive carrier contract with AT&T–and that they couldn’t use carrier Verizon Wireless–that they didn’t want the handset.

Apple is believed to have lost executives due to the antenna problem. Apple has been good at taking BSD-licensed code, hacking on it (for proprietary products), and then mass-marketing it using billions of dollars in spendings on brand names. ‘Antennagate’ helped show that despite all the hype, Apple’s products fail just like everything else.


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