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IRC Proceedings: October 29th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 8:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz




#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

Enter the IRC channels now

Links 29/10/2010: Ubuntu Benchmarked, MeeGo 1.1

Posted in News Roundup at 11:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Server

    • Excito B3 Mini ARM Powered Server

      Many interesting things come from Sweden whether it is Tunnbrödsrulle to Glögg to IKEA, but how well are these wonderful people able to create compact, home servers? After reviewing the CodeLathe TonidoPlug and PogoPlug, Excito, a company from Limhamn asked if we would be interested in checking out their new Linux-based home server, the B3. With that said, here is the review of the Excito B3 home server, which is actually a rather exciting device with its capabilities ranging from being a Bit Torrent download server to a home router with web serving capabilities.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • Zack Rusin Talks About Gallium3D’s TGSI IR

        Lately there’s been a lot of talk about Gallium3D’s IR known as TGSI, or Tokenized Gallium Shader Instructions, and attempts by some to replace this intermediate representation. Efforts toward improving TGSI are not particularly new, but it’s been going on for a while and then just earlier this month a new shader and compiler stack was proposed by LunarG. As part of the LunarGLASS proposal, the LLVM IR would be used as a replacement to TGSI.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Ubuntu Developer Summit: Dropping KDE Desktop

        The Ubuntu Developer Summit is in full swing here in Florida. There have been a load of important decisions taken. For example today I dropped KDE from our desktop. I know this may be controvertial with some parts of the community but we can have unity in our new desktop.. Plasma. Of course we’re Kubuntu so we did it upstream.

        Martin and the X.org packagers had a face off about X drivers. Kubuntu Mobile has plans to make it more useful next round. We found problems that need fixed like KDE’s system localisation support. We reviewed all the patches Kubuntu and Debian has for Qt and found a load that can be dropped or moved upstream. Canonical decided it loves Qt and Qt asked what Canonical wants (accessibility was mentioned a lot).

  • Distributions

    • Red Hat Family

      • Fedora

        • Fedora to (try to) remove setuid files for F15

          The report from the October 26 FESCO meeting (click below for the whole thing) includes the news that the remove setuid feature has been approved for the Fedora 15 release.

        • Fedora 14 Dives Deeply into Memory Debugging

          Each release of Fedora offers new features to improve functionality for different audiences. One of those audiences is software developers, some of whose goals are being able to more effectively enhance performance and squash bugs in the software they write. Fedora 14 is expected to include some exciting innovations that allow developers to better achieve these goals.

          One of the tools developers use frequently is the GNU debugger, or GDB. In the past, when a developer started up the debugger, it would load a variety of information about the program to be debugged. This information was stored in indexes which had to be calculated each time GDB was launched. These indexes contain data that help the developer locate which part of their source code is being executed in a program. They similarly come in handy for reporting bugs, since a bug reporting tool like ABRT can use the indexes to report more detailed information to the developer.

        • Orphaning packages
        • Fedora 14 Has Its Head in the Cloud
    • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Ubuntu 10.10: Maverick Meerkat Benchmarked And Reviewed

          If you’re currently using Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Lucid Lynx and everything works, it might be a good idea to leave your install alone. After running it for six months, we can tell you that Lucid is rock-solid. Only time will tell if 10.10 is as good, and we only had a week with it. So, if reliability is ranked highly on your OS wish list, go with the LTS. But if you’re experienced with Linux, or just the type who must have the very latest, there is nothing wrong with choosing Ubuntu 10.10, either. It all comes down to the type of user you are.

        • Other X.Org Discussions At The Ubuntu 11.04 Summit

          Two days ago we reported on what the graphics stack should look like for Ubuntu 11.04 in terms of its X.Org Server, Mesa / Gallium3D, and the open-source graphics driver versions to be deployed in this next Linux operating system release codenamed the Natty Narwhal. This though wasn’t the only X-related discussion to take place at the Ubuntu 11.04 developer summit in Orlando this week, but there were other related topics discussed such as KMS configuration / quirk handling, the multi-monitor experience on the Ubuntu desktop, and multi-touch support. There were also talks aimed at Linaro / embedded Ubuntu on ARM platforms with regards to embedded GPU drivers and OpenGL ES support.

        • Interesting Unity Concept For Managing Multiple Desktops [Mockups]

          Now that Unity will be used by default in Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal, it’s been getting a lot of attention and there are discussions going on about if and how the Global Menu (AppMenu) will behave on the desktop, a better way of managing multiple desktops and many other subjects. One such discussion drew my attention and I though I’d share it with you.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Some data on OSS TCO: results from past projects

    On the other hand, it is clear that OOo is – from the point of view of the user – not lowering the productivity of employees, and can perform the necessary tasks without impacting the municipality operations.

    - Hospital:
    The migration was done in two steps; a first one (groupware, content management, openoffice) and a second one (ERP, medical image management).
    In the first, the Initial acquisition cost was: proprietary 735K€, OSS 68K€

    annual support/maintenance cost (over 5 year): proprietary 169K€, OSS 45K€

    Second stage Initial acquisition cost: proprietary 8160K€, OSS 1710K€

    annual support/maintenance cost (over 5 year): proprietary 1148K€, OSS 170K€

    The hospital does have a much larger saving percentage when compared with other comparable cases because they were quite more mature in terms of OSS adoption; thus, most of the external, paid consulting was not necessary for their larger migration.

  • Symbian: A Lesson on the Wrong Way to Use Open Source

    Nokia hoped to revive Symbian’s importance, which once dominated more than 50 percent of the mobile market, by reinvigorating its developer base in light of a rush of Linux-based operating platforms like Android and LiMo. It hoped in vain.
    Related Research

    * Privacy: How to Avoid the Third Rail of Online Services
    * Navigating Google Instant – Tips for Search Marketers
    * Four Reasons to Watch for Power Line Communications
    * Social and Online Media Need Privacy Plan Now

    For years, companies have looked to open source to salvage dying products, and each time these efforts have failed. Often dismally.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • The Made for India, Epic Browser Speeds Up

        We earlier covered the made for India browser, Epic Browser, which is specifically targeted towards Indians keeping their browsing habits in context.


        Epic Browser, a derivative of Firefox offers a few great localized features that makes it an interesting product. We earlier shared some of the useful features of the browser – for example Built-in Antivirus (that scans documents automatically), ToDo (good implementation), snippets, social network integration etc.

      • Cloud, meet Rainbow

        At Mozilla Labs, we’re constantly trying to push the boundaries with respect to what the browser can do. We’ve experimented with audio recording in the browser as part of the Jetpack prototype earlier, and want to revisit the idea. There have been great strides on video playback recently, but there’s still some work to be done before users can create multimedia content for the web, on the web.

  • Oracle

    • A month of LibreOffice

      I strongly believe that in the end, it’s how we will shape the very fabric of our community -which today mostly amounts to the OpenOffice.org project volunteers- that will allow us to progress and innovate together. After a month, I am cautiously optimistic, but it seems we’re on the right track to do something extraordinary. Thank you everyone, looking forward to a great Document Foundation!

    • Oracle, Android and the copy claims: SCO all over again?

      But the relevant point is different: the PolicyNodeImpl.java that is presented comes from the OpenJDK distribution, and was as such released under the GPL+ClassPath exception (something that is not mentioned anywhere within the complaint, by the way). Here, the claims are two and different: the first is that Android (actually, Harmony) copied its API that Oracle claims is copyrighted. The second claim is that the actual source code of the PolicyNodeImpl.java file has been copied verbatim.

      Let’s start with the first one: the claim that Oracle Java APIs are protected and copyrighted. On this, it seem to me that the interface definition themselves (not the actual source code) as a mere interface does not fall within the copyright provisions, unless the actual names are trademarked, and thus its implementation requires the actual copying of a protected name in a way that is deemed incompatible by its licensee (something similar was done by Autodesk, embedding a copyrighted phrase that if not included in the file prevented the application from opening it directly).

    • Oracle says Google directly copied Java code: Here’s the line-by-line comparison

      In its tweaked complaint, Oracle ups the ante against Google, who has called the lawsuit baseless.

    • Oracle Claims Google Copied Java Code – Not So Fast, Though

      But there’s more. The code indeed looks copied, but is it, really? Carlo Daffara generated a diff of the two files, which paints a slightly different picture. According to a comment over at Groklaw (I know, I know, but he makes a good point), any similarities can easily be explained by “using the same naming convention for variables and the widespread use of automatic code generation in the Java community”.

      This is not as clear-cut a matter as it seems, but I’m sure the usual suspects will rail on Google anyway. Surely more to follow.

    • Oracle Responds to JCP Concerns
  • CMS

    • Vote for your favorite Hall of Fame CMS

      Vote for your favorite Hall of Fame Content Management System (CMS) here.

      From the list below, choose which Open Source Content Management System in the Hall of Fame category you would like to win.

  • Project Releases

  • Government

  • Openness/Sharing

    • You’re making decisions by consensus, but are you collaborating?

      Recently I came across an article by Roy Luebke at Blogging Innovation that asked the rather interesting question, “Is Management by Consensus Killing Innovation?” While I’ve (thankfully!) never had a manager whose decision-making was contingent upon the agreement of a team, I have spoken with many people who confuse the concept of collaboration with consensus.

    • The Limits of Openness?

      Aside from their aesthetic value, what’s interesting about these films is that the content is released under a cc licence.


      Those are reasonable, if not killer, arguments. But his last point is pretty inarguable:

      One last thing on the “open svn” point: in theory it could work, if we would open up everything 100% from scratch. That then will give an audience a better picture of progress and growth. We did that for our game project and it was suited quite well for it. For film… most of our audience wants to get surprised more, not know the script, the dialogs, the twists. Film is more ‘art’ than games, in that respect.

      That’s fair: there’s no real element of suspense for code, or even games, as he points out. So this suggest for certain projects like these free content films, openness may be something that needs limiting in this way, purely for the end-users’ benefit.

    • Study Reveals Big Opportunities in the Sharing Economy

      Latitude and Shareable Magazine recently released the findings of The New Sharing Economy study, which uncovered new opportunities for entrepreneurs, investors, and established companies in the emerging sharing economy.

    • Group Genius and Collective Intelligence

      A new study in Science magazine* provides additional evidence for group genius. My own research with collaborating groups has repeatedly demonstrated that groups manifest emergent properties, that are not reducible to the individual characteristics of the group members; this new study confirms my own findings, using a novel qualitative approach combined with “smart badges” designed by MIT’s Alex “Sandy” Pentland.

    • Open Data

      • Let’s do an International Open Data Hackathon

        Last summer, I met Pedro Markun and Daniela Silva at the Mozilla Summit. During the conversation – feeling the drumbeat vibe of the conference – we agreed it would be fun to do an international event. Something that could draw attention to open data.

        A few weeks before I’d met Edward Ocampo-Gooding, Mary Beth Baker and Daniel Beauchamp at GovCamp Ottawa. Fresh from the success of getting the City of Ottawa to see the wisdom of open data and hosting a huge open data hackathon at city hall they were thinking “let’s do something international.” Yesterday, I tested the idea on the Open Knowledge Foundation’s listserve and a number of great people from around the world wrote back right away and said… “We’re interested.”


  • Expired software license halts N.M. voting

    Early voting in New Mexico was temporarily disrupted when a voter-registration computer system was made inaccessible due to an expired license, officials said.

    The secretary of state’s office, responsible for maintaining the license, said the Tuesday night problem was fixed within an hour.

  • What if the future of media is no “dominant players” at all?

    Denton’s Gawker, Huffington Post, and similar-scale ventures won’t “become dominant players.” But those that husband their resources and play their cards smartly will survive, continuing to grow and to figure out the contours of the new media we are all building. They’ll be active, important players, without “dominating” the way the winners of previous era’s media wars did.

  • Science

    • From touchpad to thought-pad?

      Move over, touchpad screens: New research funded in part by the National Institutes of Health shows that it is possible to manipulate complex visual images on a computer screen using only the mind.

      The study, published in Nature, found that when research subjects had their brains connected to a computer displaying two merged images, they could force the computer to display one of the images and discard the other. The signals transmitted from each subject’s brain to the computer were derived from just a handful of brain cells.

    • The Leaking Pipeline: Should I Go to Graduate School?

      You need to hear some horror stories; I’ve left quite a few out from this essay.

    • The new barbarism: Keeping science out of politics

      Joe Romm, climate activist extraordinaire, is upset at Scientific American for featuring a dumb online poll on global warming.

      Online polls are notoriously amenable to manipulation, and it seems pretty clear that climate skeptics organized in force to skew the results. Like Romm, I have a hard time believing that anything close to 56.1 percent of Scientific American readers believe that the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is “a corrupt organization, prone to groupthink, with a political agenda.”

      But even if you grant that the poll was the victim of an organized attack, I’m still amazed by what we can learn from it. In response to the question “Which policy options do you support?” 42 percent of the respondents chose the answer “keeping science out of the political process.”

      Say what?

      Keep science out of the political process? Science? I thought it was supposed to be the other way around; that the goal was the keep politics out of science. I can understand, albeit disagree with, categorizations of anthropogenic global warming as bad science, but I’m afraid I just can’t come to grips with the notion that we should keep “science” from influencing politics at all. What is the point of civilization in the first place if we don’t use our hard-won understanding of how the universe works to influence our decisions on how to organize ourselves?

    • How science funding is putting scientific data at risk

      A Policy Forum in today’s issue of Science takes a look at what’s become a significant problem in the sciences: enabling and maintaing unfettered access to large collections of scientific data. Although the report focuses on the biosciences, many of the problems it describes apply to other areas of research as well. The biggest problem, however, is fairly simple: there’s no good mechanism for determining who pays for maintaining large amounts of data, which leaves existing repositories at risk of either duplicating efforts or losing funding entirely, with a resulting loss of data.

  • Security

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Report: BP dispersants are making people sick

      Things could be going from really bad to even worse around the Gulf of Mexico, for residents and for BP. An investigation by Al Jazeera reveals that the dispersants BP is using to treat the spill are making people sick.

    • James Cameron on “Avatar 2″ and the Impending Environmental Crisis

      On stage at a private event in Silicon Valley last night, legendary director James Cameron and Google CEO Eric Schmidt held a fascinating two hour conversation that touched on everything from the technology needs of the upcoming Avatar 2 film to the perils that face the environment if action isn’t taken.

      Eric Schmidt, acting as moderator, questioned Cameron on a plethora of topics in front of an audience of Silicon Valley movers and shakers for the Churchill Club Premiere Event. The conversation started with a video highlighting Cameron’s decades of accomplishments, including Terminator, Rambo, Alien, Total Recall, Titanic and of course Avatar. It quickly moved into a conversation about how he created the most expensive and most profitable film in human history.

  • Finance

    • Ad server changes on Identi.ca

      As mentioned before, we have been using AdBard on Identi.ca for almost 8 months. Although we support what AdBard is doing, we haven’t been getting the kind of ad rates that we expected. AdBard is covering about 5-7% of the hosting costs of running identi.ca, with nothing left over to cover any percentage of the salaries of the people who support the site.

    • FTSE 100 executive pay rises 55%, survey says

      The pay received by chief executives of the companies listed in the FTSE 100 rose 55% this year, a survey has found.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Facebook Now Tries to Tell the Story Between Two Friends

      Facebook is rolling out a new breed of Pages called Friendship Pages that pull together the public wall posts, comments, photos (based on tags) and events that two friends have in common.

    • Database right: proving infringement

      In order to detect any infringement of their database right, Binley’s include in their database a number of what they call “seeds”. These are bogus entries, giving the address of Binley’s staff. When any post is received addressed to a seed address, Binley’s can then presumably check the source against their list of clients to check that the marketing comes from someone authorised to use their database.

    • An Upgrade for MyTube: Protect Your Drupal Website’s Visitors from Tracking

      Students at the Ohio State University Open Source Club have made some excellent and much-needed upgrades to EFF’s MyTube software.

      Real privacy risks are presented by all of the Web’s solutions for embedded video — from user-generated-content sites like YouTube to proprietary sites like MSNBC and Comedy Central. When you visit a site with embedded video, you’re not only sending your information to your destination site, but also to the website which hosts that video. In addition, you’re allowing the video-host to place cookies and other tracking devices onto your computer. This means that loading an embedded video from within a blog could enable the video hosting site (and, in some cases, its advertising partners) to compile a history of which blog entries you were reading and when — even if you didn’t try to play the video.

    • Government Withholds Records on Need for Expanded Surveillance Law

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) filed suit against three agencies of the Department of Justice (DOJ) today, demanding records about problems or limitations that hamper electronic surveillance and potentially justify or undermine the Administration’s new calls for expanded surveillance powers.

      The issue has been in the headlines for more than a month, kicked off by a New York Times report that the government was seeking to require “back doors” in all communications systems — from email and webmail to Skype, Facebook and even Xboxes — to ease its ability to spy on Americans. The head of the FBI publicly claimed that these “back doors” are needed because advances in technology are eroding agents’ ability to intercept information. EFF filed a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request with the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), and the DOJ Criminal Division to see if that claim is backed up by specific incidents where these agencies encountered obstacles in conducting electronic surveillance.

    • Breaching the great firewall

      Bloody ethnic riots in the far-western region of Xinjiang in July last year sealed the fate of Twitter and its domestic clones. The government, observing their growing popularity, feared that troublemakers in Xinjiang could use them to foment unrest. Since then Twitter has been available in China only to those with the skills to penetrate the Chinese internet’s “great firewall”. But the authorities quickly gave approval to new China-based microblogging services, or weibo, which employ armies of censors. In February even the Communist Party’s own mouthpiece, the People’s Daily, opened one.

    • New Freedom House Study Shows Blasphemy Laws a Serious Threat to Human Rights

      Domestic blasphemy laws, far beyond their clear violation of freedom of expression, are responsible for broad violations of human rights, particularly when applied in weak democracies and authoritarian systems, according to a study released by Freedom House today.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Has illegal filesharing just become “a little cheaper” in Germany?

        An interesting decision on damages in cases of copyright infringing file-sharing has been handed down by the Regional Court Hamburg (LG Hamburg, decision of 8 October 2010, case reference 308 O 710/09).

        In a press release the Hamburg court informs that it decided that a 16 year old file-sharer was only liable to pay damages of 15 Euros for each title he had illegally shared online. In this case the overall damages amounted to 30 Euros for two songs he had offered illegally on an Internet file sharing site. The claimant, who owned the distribution rights for these songs, had asked for damages of 300 Euros per title, which appears to be a fairly common amount usually awarded for such damages.


        …German courts appear to adopt a rather pragmatic real life approach when assessing the level of damages to be awarded.

      • Court Slams Music Pirate With Huge Fine – of $41.00

        A young man, who as a teenager file-shared two music tracks, has finally discovered his fate. After rightsholders demanded damages of 600 euros ($828) the case dragged through the legal system. After nearly five years a court in Germany has just published its decision. It ruled that the damages demands of the rightsholders were excessive and instead ordered the defendant to pay 30 euros ($41.00) damages.

      • If You Want to Download All 900 Gigabytes of Geocities, Now You Can

        Do you need to access the fan webring for Boy Meets World’s Rider Strong, but can’t now that Geocities has been shut down? Fret not! The “Archive Team” is putting all 900 GB of Geocities into a publicly-available torrent.

Clip of the Day

The Digital Prism Screencast – MintNanny

Reader’s Story: Facebook Censorship

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software at 9:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tiananmen Square protests of 1989

Summary: Concerning words from a Facebook user who views the site’s misuse of power over communities

Facebook, which is partly owned by Microsoft and serves Microsoft, was last mentioned here yesterday for bullying rivals using intellectual monopolies (through litigation). Facebook is said to be covered by the press more than Microsoft these days and until last year we totally neglected to deal with the threats presented by Facebook, especially to our freedom and everyone’s privacy. Earlier this year we shared compelling warnings from Prof. Eben Moglen about Facebook. One of our readers has just mailed us the following post which reminds people that Facebook is not as innocent and impartial as one is led to believe. Without further ado we quote our reader in full:

I wanted to write about an incident which just happened on Facebook. One of my “friends”, a classmate from high school, wrote some comment about Facebook doing something for not being at its “beck and call”. I interpreted his remark that somehow Facebook deleted something and I commented that Facebook does censor comments without going into the types of comments which they censor. One of my friend’s other friends replied “huh?” and another responce came that “this is generally a blessing.” Now I don’t need to explain anything because now it seems that the whole thread, starting with my friend’s original comment, has been deleted.

I also have another prior experience with this. I used to have a friend on Facebook who is Palestinian and he started a group supporting the Palestinian cause. His group was not extremist, but it was nonetheless shut down for no reason. My friend decided to delete his Facebook account (or perhaps they deleted his account too?). This incident is what I referred to in my recent Facebook posting, which was deleted even though I made no attempt there to clarify my assertion. Facebook did it for me. Thanks, Facebook!

My best explanation would be that, in the United States, they have the 1st Amendment. However, this only applies to prevent government prior restraint to speech. Private entities like Facebook are free to use censorship as they wish.

Perhaps it is time to try some other social network.

Yesterday we recommended Identi.ca, which is a good host for people who promote and understand freedom. It has many of the same features as Facebook (picture upload, groups, ‘friends’, private messaging, etc.) although there are substitutions for facilities.

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