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09.19.10

Links 20/9/2010: “Sent Using Ubuntu”, OpenOffice.org Succeeds at Fullerton India

Posted in News Roundup at 6:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • OSS Watch National Software Survey 2010
  • Events

  • Web Browsers

  • Databases

    • PostgreSQL 9.0 Is Now Available

      While we have yet to see any official release announcement, if you browse the PostgreSQL FTP server you can now find the final packages for PostgreSQL 9.0.0. This major update to PostgreSQL brings easy-to-use replication, mass permission-changing, anonymous code blocks, enhanced stored procedure support, exclusion constraints, deferrable unique constraints, and a variety of other enhancements.

  • Oracle

    • Oracle ships Secure Global Desktop 4.6

      Oracle has delivered an updated version of its Secure Global Desktop that offers more browser flexibility, enhanced availability and seamless integration with VDI platforms.

    • OpenOffice.org HackFest

      OpenOffice.org just finished their annual conference in Budapest, Hungary. One of the outcomes of the conference announced today is the need for developers to spend more time together to properly fix problems.

      In light of this, OpenOffice.org decided to have a HackFest specifically targeted at developers. The idea here is for the developers to spend more time face to face working on the code. The OpenOfice.org HackFest is scheduled for November 5-7, 2010 in Hamburg. The location can be seen on Google Maps and Open Street Maps.

    • Book review – Learn OpenOffice.org Spreadsheet Macros

      However, when I got my hands on this book, OpenOffice.org Spreadsheet Macro Programming, I was curious and hoped to find I was wrong, that this would open up new opportunities for clients and organizations that want to get away from Microsoft Office, clients who are already using OpenOffice, so I was really interested to see the level of capability that Calc had in its macro programming.

    • Working with Open Office and Microsoft Office

      Instead you can download an alternative. Rather than add Open Office formats to the Open window, there are options available for opening and saving with the ODF format added to the File menu.

    • OpenOffice at Fullerton India

      Fullerton India saved crores of rupees by moving the bulk of its users onto the open source office suite.

      [...]

      Fullerton India Credit Co. Ltd. wanted to convert the bulk of its users from Microsoft Office to OpenOffice. It would turn out to be quite a complex project involving macro migration, some hardware upgrades and educating users at numerous locations. At that point of time, the company had 850 branches (6,000 PCs, 15,000 users). Currently, after consolidating and downsizing, it has 400 locations (4,000 PCs, 9,000 users).

  • Hacking

    • Trouble with Diaspora
    • iRail meet-up: Report

      Ironically we started a little later as planned due to unforeseen traffic-jams for Yeri and Christophe. Nevertheless we did a great job and I want to start off by thanking all the participants and of course the hackerspace of Ghent.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • FSFE calls on governments to stop pushing Adobe Reader

      Free software and open standards advocates are encouraging web users to put pressure on governments not to ‘advertise’ proprietary Adobe software as a tool for reading documents created in PDF format.

      Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is asking users to conduct a month-long ‘hunt’ for examples of what it says is the promotion of proprietary PDF readers.

    • What is Lundy doing at Software Freedom Day?

      On Saturday, September 18, Melbourne will mark Software Freedom Day, a day observed worldwide to spread the message of free and open source software.

    • Look Who’s Using Free Software: CERN

      “CERN is a leading partner of the Worldwide LHC Computing Grid (WLCG) that provides the distributed computing infrastructure for scientists working on the LHC experiments. This infrastructure links more than 300 computer centers and provides access to 260,000 CPUs on which users run about 20 million jobs every month. These machines are operated under several GNU/Linux variants.

    • [Hurd] what we need

      We created a list of the things we still need for using the Hurd for in our day-to-day activities (work or hobby).

  • Project Releases

    • Update kills code-execution threat in Samba

      Version 3.5.5, which was released on Tuesday, fixes the underlying buffer overrun in functions used to generate a credential known as a Windows Security ID. It can be exploited by sending a booby-trapped ID that overflows the stack variable and injects malicious code into memory.

  • Government

    • Italian Constitutional Court gives way to Free Software friendly laws

      Across Europe, several policy initiatives to implement rules that favour the adoption of Free Software and Open Standards in competitive tenders to public administration have been proposed or implemented. Many reasons have been posited to support such the favouring of such solutions, not least the evidence that proprietary software – through various mechanisms – is unjustly given preferential treatment in many tenders.2
      Italy is no exception. The main national law that rules on software procurement of the Public Administration3 is agnostic, and does not go farther than to say that a Public Administration shall always choose between various options – one of which is procuring “open source” software – and that the choice should be made according to a technical and commercial comparison.4 In the national law one cannot find guidance as to how to evaluate the characteristics of the competing offers. This means that any public administration can decide by following the general principles of public procurement.

      The Piedmont law was intended to take advantage of the limited but decisive role regional laws have in skewing the situation one way or the other. However, the national government objected to this approach, and the Constitutional Court found that it is constitutionally permissible for a regional law to try to alter the rules of the game of public procurement in order to favour one type of software offer over another, provided that certain conditions are met.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Iran: Exporting the Internet (part 2)

      Afghans headed to the polls today for parliamentary elections in a tense but hopeful atmosphere. If the Internet has a role to play this year in helping Afghanistan develop a peaceful civil society, it will probably turn on two key developments: cheap GPRS Internet delivered over mobile phones, and strong relationships with neighboring states to provide Internet transit.

    • In-house lawyers have no right to secrecy in EU competition cases, rules ECJ

      In-house lawyers at companies being investigated for competition law offences do not enjoy the same privacy rights for communications with their companies as lawyers from external firms, the European Court of Justice (ECJ) has said.

      The ECJ has ruled that in-house lawyers are in danger of suffering a conflict of interest because they have a duty to their permanent employer as well as to the law. They cannot be allowed the same legal professional privilege (LPP) as external lawyers because they are not independent, the Court said.

Leftovers

  • Report: Tech firms close to settling no-poach case

    Apple, Adobe Systems, Google, Intel, Intuit, and Pixar are reportedly looking to settle the allegations to avoid a courtroom face-off with the Justice Department. The companies have been trying to persuade the government that nonpoaching agreements are not anticompetitive because they help ensure that employees can work on projects with other firms without fear of being stolen away.

  • U.S. Tech Probe Nears End

    Several of the U.S.’s largest technology companies are in advanced talks with the Justice Department to avoid a court battle over whether they colluded to hold down wages by agreeing not to poach each other’s employees.

    The companies, which include Google Inc., Apple Inc., Intel Corp., Adobe Systems Inc., Intuit Inc. and Walt Disney Co. unit Pixar Animation, are in the final stages of negotiations with the government, according to people familiar with the matter.

  • Consumer group slams Britain’s digital radio switchover

    2015 is far too early, says the Consumer Expert Group in its report for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport today entitled Digital Radio Switchover: what is in it for consumers? to start the switchover process. The Group advises that any switchover should only occur when analog radio listening has fallen to 30 per cent of total listening – the current trigger is 50 per cent of “digital” – and says there is far more to do than the radio industry or current policy appreciates.

  • Ex-IBM executive gets six months for insider trading

    WE REPORTED back in March that former IBM senior executive Robert Moffat, who was once lined up as a candidate for chief executive, collected his pink slip and did not pass go when he pleaded guilty to insider trading. He was the 11th person to do so in the Galleon hedge fund probe – the biggest insider trading scandal the US has seen for some time.

  • Ex-IBM heir apparent gets six months in the slammer
  • Former IBM Executive Sentenced to 6 Months for Securities Fraud

    Authorities say profits from illegal trades topped $50 million, though Moffat’s tips resulted in no profits and he received no money, lawyers on both sides agreed.

  • Pi record smashed as team finds two-quadrillionth digit

    A researcher has calculated the 2,000,000,000,000,000th digit of the mathematical constant pi – and a few digits either side of it.

    Nicholas Sze, of tech firm Yahoo, said that when pi is expressed in binary, the two quadrillionth digit is 0.

  • After Inmate Files Some 3,800 Lawsuits, Prosecutors Seek to Stop the Onslaught

    A federal inmate who once dubbed himself the “lawsuit Zeus” is so litigious that prosecutors are trying to put an end to the frivolous filings.

    Jonathan Lee Riches has filed more than 3,800 lawsuits, targeting defendants ranging from the planet Pluto to former president George W. Bush, the Associated Press reports. The Bush suit claimed the president and his brother had snuck into prison to clone his brain. A motion in another case, chronicled by Above the Law, claimed Riches became addicted to video games, causing him to lose touch with reality and his mind to become a living video game.

  • Supreme Court Justice Breyer denies influence of politics

    At a town hall-style meeting in L.A., Stephen G. Breyer says that the few times the court has acted under the sway of politics, the results have been disastrous.

  • Astronomy Picture of the Day
  • X Prize Winners Announced

    Edison2, a company based in Lynchburg, Va., won the $5 million top prize with its Edison2 Very Light Car. The competition was broken up into two classes: Mainstream, which was for four-seat vehicles, and Alternative, which had two divisions: two-seats side-by-side and two seats in a tandem, fighter-jet configuration.

  • Hardware

    • Credit Card with a Computer Inside

      The new cards are no bigger than the one in your wallet, and is actually slightly more flexible. It can display information at the press of a button, and can become several different cards by rewriting its own magnetic strip.

    • Intel wants to charge $50 to unlock stuff your CPU can already do
    • Intel + DRM: a crippled processor that you have to pay extra to unlock

      Intel’s latest business-model takes a page out of Hollywood’s playbook: they’re selling processors that have had some of their capabilities crippled (some of the cache and the hyperthreading support are switched off). For $50, they’ll sell you a code that will unlock these capabilities. Conceptually, this is similar to the DRM notion that I can sell you a movie that you can watch on one screen for $5 today, and if you want to unlock your receiver’s wireless output so you can watch it upstairs, it’ll be another $5.

    • ARM gets ready to enter Intel’s domain

      BRITISH CHIP DESIGN OUTFIT ARM is not flustered by Intel’s recent acquisitions and has been planning its assault on the laptop market for some time.

      That’s the message coming from the UK firm, hot on the heels of Chinese chip outfit Nufront demonstrating its dual core 2GHz system-on-chip (SoC) based on ARM’s Cortex A9 architecture. Speculation has been rife that Intel’s round of big money acquisitions means that Chipzilla is gunning for the plucky British company in the mobile space, but Nufront’s announcement has repositioned ARM as being on the offensive.

    • Intel won’t make more big acquisitions

      IN HIS KEYNOTE SPEECH at IDF 2010, Intel CEO Paul Otellini all but ruled out any more big acquisitions by the chipmaker within the next few years.

    • Lacie releases a USB 3.0 RAID drive

      STORAGE AND DISPLAY VENDOR Lacie is extending its RAID drive and external hard drive portfolios with a USB 3.0 external RAID hard drive.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Food Crisis is Not About a Shortage of Food

      The food crisis of 2008 never really ended, it was ignored and forgotten. The rich and powerful are well fed; they had no food crisis, no shortage, so in the West, it was little more than a short lived sound bite, tragic but forgettable. To the poor in the developing world, whose ability to afford food is no better now than in 2008, the hunger continues.

      Hunger can have many contributing factors; natural disaster, discrimination, war, poor infrastructure. So why, regardless of the situation, is high tech agriculture always assumed to be the only the solution? This premise is put forward and supported by those who would benefit financially if their “solution” were implemented. Corporations peddle their high technology genetically engineered seed and chemical packages, their genetically altered animals, always with the “promise” of feeding the world.

    • Stop Biotech’s Push for GMO Frankenfish!

      The FDA is poised to approve sale of the first GMO animal for human consumption, a fast-growing Frankenfish that hasn’t been fully assessed for food safety or environmental hazards, and that has little benefit outside of corporate profits.

    • FDA rules won’t require labeling of genetically modified salmon

      As the Food and Drug Administration considers whether to approve genetically modified salmon, one thing seems certain: Shoppers staring at fillets in the seafood department will find it tough to pick out the conventional fish from the one created with genes from another species.

      Despite a growing public demand for more information about how food is produced, that won’t happen with the salmon because of idiosyncracies embedded in federal regulations.

    • Microbiologists find the dirt on hand washing

      The American Society for Microbiology and the American Cleaning Institute wanted to see how often people wash their hands in public restrooms. (It’s flu and cold season again!) And, they found the “dirt” on people’s hand-washing habits.

  • Security/Aggression

    • Twitter airport bomb joker loses second job

      Paul Chambers, the Twitter joker victim, has been sacked from a second job a week before his appeal against a widely criticised conviction for sending a “threatening” message to to blow Doncaster airport “sky high”.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Czechs wait for Google Street View

      The Czech data protection authority has confirmed that Google does not have the proper licence to continue collecting images for its Street View service.

      The issue is not just about Wi-Fi data, as reported yesterday, but also images taken by its fleet of Street View cars which have already covered much of Prague, Český Krumlov and some major roads.

    • Appeals court reverses its own privacy ruling

      A US APPEALS COURT has reversed itself on the idea of computer privacy that it had previously upheld.

      Last year the 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals issued a landmark data privacy ruling that curtailed the US government’s computer search and seizure powers. The ruling was made in the case of 104 US baseball players who had their hard drives ransacked by feds looking for evidence of drug use.

    • Mozambique blocked rioters’ texts

      A letter apparently from the Mozambique communications authority asked mobile networks to block text messages during food riots in the southern African country earlier this month.

      Hundreds of people were arrested over the protests and 13 killed, after the government put up the price of bread by a third. Petrol and electricity also went up sharply. The riots were encouraged by round-robin text messages.

    • Parents back legal ban of violent vidgames sales to kids

      The war between the video games industry and critics who think that playing violent games are harmful to children moves to the US Supreme Court in November.

    • T-Mobile Censoring Text Messages

      A mobile-marketing company claimed Friday it would go out of business unless a federal judge orders T-Mobile to stop blocking its text-messaging service, the first case testing whether wireless providers can block text messages they don’t like.

    • Public Knowledge Sees Lawsuit Over Unlawful Text Message Blocking as Another Reason for FCC Action

      Earlier today, EZ Texting, a mobile marketing company, filed suit in U.S. District Court in New York City against T-Mobile for unilaterally blocking its customers from exchanging text messages with EZ Texting’s customers, which the company said could put it out of business. The parts of the suit are here and here. The declaration of Shane Neman, CEO of EZ Texting, is here.

    • The Internet as a human right

      You don’t have to assert something as a fundamental human right to believe that it provides a social good of deep, deep of value. So, I remain an Internet exceptionalist and fanatic. I am all in favor of providing Internet access to the world, preferably for free. (Of course, I’d first want to make sure everyone can read and write, and has electricity, has a full belly, and has access to medical care, so that they can use the Net in the first place. Also, so they can live.) Access to an open Internet is an incredible social good. We who have such access should cherish it, use it, spread it, share it, and fight to keep it open. Nevertheless, calling Net access a human right blurs the line between social goods and demandable human rights. That does not bring the Net to the world any faster, and diminishes the effect of claims of genuine human rights.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Gallo report plenary vote campaign

      If voted in the European Parliament, the Gallo report will promote a dogmatic, repressive vision of Copyright for the future of EU policymaking, calling for instance for more repression of not-for-profit online filesharing. A recently tabled proposal for a resolution by the ALDE group contains the same inaccuracies and biased approach; it is almost as bad.

    • Copyrights

      • Filmmaker Premieres Movie In Theaters and on The Pirate Bay

        While most filmmakers shy away from anything remotely related to BitTorrent, Swedish director Stina Bergman has partnered with The Pirate Bay for the release of her latest movie. Today the film, titled “Die Beauty”, debuts in Swedish theaters as well as on The Pirate Bay.

      • Police spent tens of thousands on failed BitTorrent probe

        A failed three-year police investigation of a filesharing website, run in cooperation with the music industry, cost taxpayers at least £29,000, and probably much more.

        Figures released by Cleveland Police detail some costs of Operation Ark Royal, a raid on invitation-only BitTorrent site OiNK.cd.

      • State Bar of Nevada reviewing grievance against Righthaven CEO

        The Nevada agency that regulates attorneys is looking into a grievance filed against the chief executive officer of Righthaven LLC, the Las Vegas copyright enforcement company that has sued at least 124 individuals and companies in North America since March over unauthorized online postings of Las Vegas Review-Journal stories.

        The nature of the grievance hasn’t been disclosed except that someone filed it with the State Bar of Nevada against Righthaven CEO Steven Gibson, a Las Vegas attorney, and that it is related to Righthaven.

        The State Bar calls complaints filed against attorneys by citizens or clients “grievances” so they’re not confused with “complaints” the State Bar may file against lawyers.

        The grievance under investigation could relate to any number of allegations defense attorneys have made against Righthaven and its procedures — which are unusual for the newspaper industry — of detecting online infringements of Review-Journal material, obtaining copyrights to the infringed material and then suing over the retroactive infringements.

      • Prof. Richard Dawkins Advocates the Use of BitTorrent

        Professor Richard Dawkins is one of the best known evolutionary biologists today. Affiliated with the University of Oxford and Berkeley, he is famous for his fierce and outspoken critique on religious institutions through his publications and documentaries. In common with many scientists, he wants his work to be read and seen by the public, even if that means ignoring copyright by going to The Pirate Bay.

      • 4chan to DDoS RIAA Next – Is This the Protest of the Future?

        Over the last 36 hours or so, the ‘Anonymous’ masses and many unaffiliated sympathizers joined forces to attack the MPAA’s website. Continuing with ‘Operation Payback’, today an attack will be launched on the RIAA. The ultimate in decentralized protests will go ahead and there’s not a lawyer or police force in the world who can do anything about it. Is this the protest of the future?

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