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Links 19/10/2010: GNU/Linux in Large Hadron Collider, Edubuntu Promotion

Posted in News Roundup at 2:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Free Software/Open Source


  • Project Releases

  • Openness/Sharing

    • What if We Ran Universities Like Wikipedia?

      A silly question? Maybe. But the analogy, made by a speaker at the Educause conference here today, reflects a recurring theme at this year’s event: Do our university bureaucracies still make sense in the era of networks?

      In a session called “The University as an Agile Organization,” David J. Staley laid out the findings of a focus group he conducted asking educators what a college would look like if it ran like Wikipedia.

    • ‘How We Collaborate is More Important Than Who Collaborates’ – new post

      So, ‘having a bunch of smart people in a group doesn’t necessarily make the group smart’.

      This is one of the conclusions from new research on collective intelligence by Carnegie Mellon & MIT (full story below). While this seems counter to what we might expect at a superficial level, on reflection it makes perfect sense. Any of us who’ve been in group ideation or creative processes can attest to the fact that sometimes things just seem to click, other times the group or team just never quite gets up to speed, even if all the smart people have been painstakingly fought for, gathered, briefed, fed Haribo & put to work.

    • How Wikipedia works: Webcast with author Joseph Reagle, Thurs. Oct. 21

      We had the chance to learn more about his book and how Wikipedia works in an interview with Reagle last month. We were interested to learn more and thought you would be, too.

    • World of Giving: A Q&A with Jeffrey Inaba
    • Open Data

      • Nottingham University Open Data Masterclass

        Nottingham University is giving masterclasses around the UK for those who want to do something with the government data has become available since the launch of data.gov.uk.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Open Access Advantage

        The 25,000 peer-reviewed journals and refereed conference proceedings that exist today publish about 2.5 million articles per year, across all disciplines, languages and nations. No university or research institution anywhere, not even the richest, can afford to subscribe to all or most of the journals that its researchers may need to use.

      • Making ‘E-Textbooks’ Real — and Really Accessible — in Public Schools

        Last year Melanie Manuel, a high school Spanish teacher, decided to reinforce vocabulary by requiring her advanced students to study human rights. She sent them to the Web to analyze the United Nation’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights and asked them to watch films about Latin America with the Declaration in mind. They created an annotated archive of video clips about human rights’ abuses to be used in classrooms around the world.

      • CC and Open Access Week 2010

        This week is the fourth annual Open Access Week, and starting yesterday Oct 18, the official kick-off date, the CC community has been participating in various open access events around the globe. “Open-access (OA) literature is digital, online, free of charge, and free of most copyright and licensing restrictions.” Taking place the same week everywhere, Open Access Week brings together people from all ends of the academic and research communities at various worldwide conferences, workshops, and other events to “continue to learn about the potential benefits of Open Access, to share what they’ve learned with colleagues, and to help inspire wider participation in helping to make Open Access a new norm in scholarship and research.” Below is a (not exhaustive) list of what CC jurisdiction leads, open culture and open education advocates, and the Creative Commons staff are doing to inspire open access.

      • Dramatic Growth of Open Access: September 30, 2010

        The growth rate of open access is robust and growing. DOAJ added 312 titles this quarter (more than 3 per day), for a total of 5,452. There are now more than 6,600 journals using OJS. The number of journals fully participating in PMC continues to grow, while the NIH Public Access Policy compliance rate is about 60%, indicating significant progress but still room for improvement. BASE now searches more than 25 million documents. Hindawi’s monthly submissions have grown to over 2,000 this quarter.


  • Evernote Raises $20M In Bid To Become A “Global Platform For Human Memory”
  • BBC fears coalition licence fee raid

    BBC bosses fear that the coalition government is gearing up for a £500m-plus raid on the licence fee, by forcing the broadcaster to meet the full cost of free television licences for the over 75s.

  • ‘Permanent Artificial Respiration’: France Buys Its Citizens 210k News Subs

    France expects to give away another 210,000 free newspaper subscriptions to citizens aged 18-24 over the next year, in a state intervention designed to help save the country’s news media by regaining young readers.

  • Science

    • Objet is Certified

      Objet Geometries, makers of the powerful Alaris, Eden and Connex lines of commercial 3D printers just announced they’ve managed to receive ISO 13485:2003 certification. This certification means Objet is now able to deliver various types of 3D printing equipment into a wide variety of medical roles. We’ve seen Objet dabble in dental before but this certification means they can go much, much farther.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • fight terror, defend freedom

      To the House of Commons last night where I have been invited to join the panel for the launch of the new booklet by Dominic Raab MP — “fight terror, defend freedom” (PDF format). As well as Dominic, we were joined on the panel by David Davis MP, the former Shadow Home Secretary, and our host Alex Deane from Big Brother Watch.

      Dominic’s paper is well worth a read (as indeed is his book, “The Assault on Liberty, What Went Wrong with Rights”). One of his key points is that our justice system is an underused weapon in the fight against terrorism. We should be strengthening our capacity to prosecute terrorists, not least by lifting the ban on using intercept evidence in court.

    • A Defence Review

      The aircraft carriers are important to our ability to support US invasions abroad.They have no other purpose. The big question so far ducked is whether we have abandoned the disastrous “Blair doctrine” of liberal interventionism. or bombing foreigners to make them better people. The unspoken presumption isthat we are still maintaining this option.

  • Finance

    • The Mortgage Fraud Scandal Is The Biggest In Human History

      We have long known that lender fraud was rampant during the real estate boom. The FBI began warning of an “epidemic” of mortgage fraud as early as 2004. We know that mortgage originators invented “low doc” and “no doc” loans, encouraged borrowers to take out “liar loans”, and promoted “NINJA loans” (no income, no job, no assets, no problem!). All of these schemes were fraudulent from the get-go.

    • DON’T Let Goldman Be Goldman

      At first glance, I thought the Times piece might be a report on New Age self actualization for investment banks. But the title suggests something more troubling. The whole point of financial reform is that Goldman (and the others) should no longer be permitted to be Goldman. A return to business as usual is the last thing we need.

    • Goldman Pushes Its Image Rehab

      Goldman Sachs Group Inc. is taking its first steps to change the way it does business after it weathered harsh criticism and paid a $550 million fine tied to its actions before and during the financial crisis.

      The Wall Street firm, which is trying to rehabilitate its public reputation with an ad campaign that, among other things, tries to show how it helps create jobs, is planning to make changes in the way it reports its finances and how it relates to clients, investors and analysts, people involved in the planning say. It has also gone outside the company and hired an executive who has been a vocal critic of Wall Street pay practices and weak corporate governance.

    • From Obama, the Tax Cut Nobody Heard Of

      In a troubling sign for Democrats as they head into the midterm elections, their signature tax cut of the past two years, which decreased income taxes by up to $400 a year for individuals and $800 for married couples, has gone largely unnoticed.

    • Bring Your Questions on the Foreclosure Crisis

      Mr. Lawler is a founder of Lawler Economic & Housing Consulting LLC, which provides data, analysis and forecasts of housing, mortgage, financial and economic trends. His clients include hedge funds and financial firms or fund managers, as well as the mortgage insurance company Fannie Mae. He had previously worked for Fannie Mae for 22 years, first as director of financial economics in 1984, and as a senior vice president from 1989 until he retired from Fannie in January 2006. Before joining Fannie Mae, he worked at Chase Manhattan Bank and at the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond.

    • Banks Shared Clients’ Profits, but Not Losses

      JPMorgan Chase & Company has a proposition for the mutual funds and pension funds that oversee many Americans’ savings: Heads, we win together. Tails, you lose — alone.

    • White House Urges Calm on Foreclosures

      Amid a rising uproar over slipshod bank foreclosure practices, members of the Obama administration on Sunday expressed anger about the revelations, but urged caution as multiple investigations into the crisis unfold.

    • Can the Fed still rejuvenate the economy?

      It is widely, though not universally, assumed that the Federal Reserve will soon move to bolster the economy by trying to nudge down long-term interest rates on Treasury bonds, home mortgages and corporate bonds. Just how much rates would decline and how much production and employment would increase are uncertain. What’s clearer is that the move would be something of an act of desperation, reflecting a poverty of good ideas to resuscitate the economy.

    • New Post poll finds negativity toward federal workers

      More than half of Americans say they think that federal workers are overpaid for the work they do, and more than a third think they are less qualified than those working in the private sector, according to a Washington Post poll.

    • The White House KNOWS That a Foreclosure Moratorium Will Hurt Bank Profits, the NYT Doesn’t Know What the White House Thinks

      The mind readers at the NYT told readers that:

      “The Obama administration has resisted calls for a more forceful response, worried that added pressure might spook the banks and hobble the broader economy [emphasis added].”

      It is easy to see how a foreclosure moratorium might hurt bank profits. After all, the banks could be forced to follow the same laws on mortgages and property transfers as the rest of us. This would raise their costs and reduce their profits, which is why they had been taking short-cuts instead of following the law.

    • In France, Labor Strikes Head for Showdown

      Flights were canceled, drivers scavenged for fuel and hundreds of thousands of people, young and old, took to the streets of Paris and other cities on Tuesday as protests over President Nicolas Sarkozy’s plans to change France’s pension system mounted in advance of a parliamentary vote.

    • Are there ‘shovel-ready projects?’ An interview with Jared Bernstein.
    • Stiglitz vs. the Fed
    • A Better Way to Fix the Foreclosure Process

      In the 1990s, capitalism was on the march and the United States mortgage market seemed like a model. In much of the world, it seemed miraculous that ordinary Americans could move into a big home by borrowing large sums of money for 30 years. A crucial element in the American system was that lenders could take the homes of delinquent borrowers; it was impossible to imagine a well-functioning mortgage market in places like Russia and Bolivia, without a similar ability to foreclose.

    • “This Is Criminal”: Foreclosure Process “Rife with Fraud”
    • ‘Inside Job’: Rampant Conflicts of Interest, Cronyism Led to 2008 Crisis, Charles Ferguson Says
    • Chinese rate hike jolts markets, dollar buoyed

      The dollar surged and stocks slid after a Chinese interest rate hike Tuesday left investors pondering whether the U.S. and China were looking to ease market tensions ahead of a crucial meeting of finance ministers this weekend.

      Worries that China’s monetary authorities are putting the brakes on an overheating economy also weighed on sentiment and demand for more risky assets – in times of heightened risk aversion, the dollar gains ground through its status as a safe haven currency while stocks retreat.

    • Bank of America posts $7.7B loss on special charge

      Bank of America Corp. said Tuesday it lost $7.65 billion during the third quarter due to a charge related to credit and debit card reform legislation passed over the summer.

      The bank also announced a change in its consumer banking strategy to focus on providing customers with incentives to do more business with the bank instead of generating revenue through penalty fees such as overdraft charges. The bank is already starting to implement some changes, and has cut overdraft fees on small amounts that customers charge to their debit cards.

    • A Hedge Fund Controlled by Women, So It Claimed

      Amid the testosterone-fueled trading floors of Wall Street, Ms. Buchan has not only built a hugely successful hedge fund investment firm but also one that is, on paper, owned and run by women.

      But questions have surfaced about whether her firm, Pacific Alternative Asset Management Company, is now — or ever was — controlled by women at all.

      It turns out that S. Donald Sussman, a hedge fund mogul who has bankrolled some of the biggest (male) names in the business, has quietly stood behind Paamco for years, pocketing much of its profit. A recent court ruling officially put a chunk of Paamco’s parent company in his hands.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Google Book Search will never have an effective competitor

        MIT’s Tech Review reports on a paper in the Stanford Technology Law Review, in which law/economic scholar Eric M. Fraser explains the anticompetitive aspects of the Google Book Search settlement that the Authors Guild has proposed.

      • Want to Change German Copyright Law?

        Of course you do – and here’s your big chance. Dirk Riehle is not only the Professor for Open Source Software at the Friedrich-Alexander-University of Erlangen-Nürnberg (Germany orders these things better than we do), but he is also part of a “multilateral commission instituted by the German parliament to discuss and make recommendations on, well, Internet and digital society.”

        Specifically he is looking at revisions to German copyright law, and being an open source-y chap he is soliciting views and ideas from everyone, which is jolly kind of him. He rightly points out that maybe a glance at existing German copyright law would be a good idea before letting rip. The closing date for comments on the blog post is the beginning of next week.

      • Prosecutor Takes Down Torrent Site, Industry Group Sets Terms For Truce

        Following a complaint from a group representing local music and movie companies, prosecutors ordered the takedown of Moldova’s biggest torrent site last week. As the authorities try to work out if any crime has been committed at the 270,000 member TorrentsMD, the entertainment industry group is setting out its terms for a truce with the tracker.

      • How The RIAA Took My Vintage Mustang

        When Shane Comegys was 16 he loved two things: his 1970 Mustang and illegally downloaded music. Given the choice, he’d happily take the car and delete the music, but the RIAA’s lawyers didn’t give him a choice. They took both.

      • Artist Revenue Opportunities Without Playing Live

        In most cases, recorded music has always been somewhat of a promotion for the live show. It’s a little known fact that most musical artists have always made as much as 95% of their income from playing live, if we take publishing out of the equation. Even artists that were selling millions of albums during recorded music’s heyday from the 70’s through the 90’s weren’t making as much on record or CD sales as you might think.

      • 10 Things Bands Can Do to Book More Live Shows
      • Musicians benefit in digital era

        Re: “Modernized copyright law crucial to artists’ success; In digital age, musicians still need to sell music,” by Jeff Rogers, Opinion, Oct. 11.

        As an avid music fan, I read this piece with great interest, but could not disagree more with the author.

        Jeff Rogers claims he wants Colleen Brown to be fairly compensated for her creative expression.

        I would argue she already is. In the age of digital file sharing, artists cannot rely as heavily on album sales as a source of income. To compensate for this, a greater emphasis is placed on live performance.

        Since consumers now have free access to an artist’s work, they will be more inclined to listen to it and if they like it they will attend a live performance. In this sense, the artist’s album is no longer a product, but is instead an advertisement or promotional tool to get people to pay to see a live performance.

      • Fault digital locks

        I wish singer/songwriter Colleen Brown’s career well, but for Jeff Rogers to lay the problem of the decline of music sales at the door of Internet downloading is unfounded.

        A 2007 Industry Canada report “found that music downloads have a positive effect on music purchases among Canadian downloaders, but that there is no effect taken over the entire population aged 15 and over.”

        Other reports conclude there are no negative effects of downloading on the music industry. The music industry is facing stiff competition, particularly video gaming, now overtaking music in terms of sales.

        Bill C-32, the Copyright Modernization Act, is not the answer to declining music sales. Rather, the draconian system of digital locks presently proposed by the legislation is more likely to alienate those who purchase music or any other form of digital media.

      • Copying a Right: Ripping off someone else’s work isn’t always indefensible

        California schoolchildren are obliged to copy ideas, and it was copyright lobbyists who put them up to it.

        Since 2006, the school system of a state dependent on a profitable entertainment industry has made it mandatory for teachers to run their students through a programs like “What’s the Diff?” which has them role-play as different stakeholders in the unauthorized downloading of a movie: actors, directors, producers against a feckless, hard-drive-stuffing computer user.

        The program leads students to pre-determined conclusions: “If you haven’t paid for it, you’ve stolen it,” “Intellectual property is no different than physical property;” for the record, there is no “diff” between digital piracy and shoplifting. The curriculum was developed by the Motion Picture Association of America, which also provided the Boy Scouts in Los Angeles with the guidelines for a Respect Copyright badge.

      • ACTA

        • Bloc MP Seeking Canadian Hearings on ACTA

          The motion will be tabled today and voted on Thursday. Unlike other ACTA countries, which have held meetings with interested parties and politicians since the last round of negotiations, Canadian officials and politicians have remained silent. These hearings offer an excellent opportunity to learn more about the Canadian approach at the ACTA talks.

        • When the Camembert tops democratic governance

          A European Parliament majority accepted a written declaration on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) which iterates the calls to European Commissioner Karel de Gucht for more legislative transparency.

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Geany snippets

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