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11.21.10

Links 21/11/2010: systemd and Mandriva Status Updates

Posted in News Roundup at 2:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Gentoo penguin born in Australia

    An Australian aquarium has welcomed the birth of the first baby Gentoo penguin chick born in the country.

  • The biggest hurdle in FOSS/GNU/Linux adaptation

    Let me put my voice on the biggest hurdle in FOSS adaptation.
    This hurdle is “Proprietary Hardware Drivers”
    In India we recently established a “Open Standard Policy”.It is the great success of FOSS communities and our leaders.
    In the same way we need to have a policy on Hardware selling. This policy must specify that “Anything which Govt is buying must have a Open Specification of their Driver.”

  • Unity Linux 2010_02 Is Powered by Linux kernel 2.6.35.7

    Unity Linux 2010_02 has been released two days ago, on November 17th, and it includes a new kernel, the latest Enlightenment 17 environment, and many fixes or enhancements. Unity Linux 2010_02 is dubbed Unite17.

  • How We Choose Political Candidates and Software.

    The majority of them showed various degrees of surprise or disbelief until I actually re-themed their Linux boxes on the fly.

  • Desktop

    • How to choose a Linux laptop

      With the many choices and factors to consider, choosing a laptop of any kind can be a considerable challenge. Choosing one for use with Linux, however, brings its own special set of considerations, since it’s not yet always a plug-and-play world for the open source operating system.

      Linux is typically not fussy about hardware–that, indeed, is one of its most endearing advantages. Some hardware, however, still doesn’t work well with Linux, due primarily to a persistent lack of the right drivers.

      Still, there are more laptop choices today than ever before for the Linux user. Here are some guidelines for choosing the one that’s right for you.

  • Server

    • IBM tops Green500 list

      While China can take pride in topping the list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, IBM has been given another recognition: building the world’s most energy-efficient supercomputer.

    • NASA’s supercomputing team: Science, not glory, is top priority

      NASA’s biggest supercomputer seems to have gotten a little smaller. Ranked the sixth-most powerful HPC cluster in the world by the June 2010 Top 500 supercomputers list, NASA’s Pleiades fell to 11th place in the most recent rankingreleased this week.

    • A Linux server OS that’s fiddly but tweakable

      ClearOS is the new name for Point Clark Network’s ClarkConnect, which was a commercial server distro, released in 2000, with a limited free version. Now, though, Point Clark has restructured and the distro is managed by ClearConnect, which has made it free and open source. The result is that what was the top-of-the-range Enterprise edition is now free for everyone – with some small caveats, which we’ll cover later.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • SystemD Has New Shutdown Logic, Gives Everyone CGroups

      Fedora 14 was set to be the first major distribution shipping SystemD to replace SysVinit, but that ended up getting pushed back to the Fedora 15 release that will now come in May of 2011. Fortunately, for the developers behind Fedora and SystemD, this means the init replacement daemon will be in much better shape for its premiere. Lennart Poettering, the original developer of SystemD, has written about some of the recent improvements.

    • systemd for Administrators, Part IV
    • systemd Status Update

      It has been a while since my last status update on systemd. Here’s another short, incomprehensive status update on what we worked on for systemd since then.

      * Fedora F15 (Rawhide) now includes a split up /etc/init.d/rc.sysinit (Bill Nottingham). This allows us to keep only a minimal compatibility set of shell scripts around, and boot otherwise a system without any shell scripts at all. In fact, shell scripts during early boot are only used in exceptional cases, i.e. when you enabled autoswapping (bad idea anyway), when a full SELinux relabel is necessary, during the first boot after initialization, if you have static kernel modules to load (which are not configured via the systemd-native way to do that), if you boot from a read-only NFS server, or when you rely on LVM/RAID/Multipath. If nothing of this applies to you can easily disable these parts of early boot and save several seconds on boot. How to do this I will describe in a later blog story.

    • Graphics Stack

      • The First NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 Linux Benchmark

        Earlier this month NVIDIA rolled out the GeForce GTX 580 graphics card as their fastest GPU to date with 512 CUDA cores, a 772MHz core clock, 1544MHz processor clock, 1536MB of 2GHz GDDR5 memory, and support for three-way SLI. The GeForce GTX 580 with its GF110 core is based upon a refined version of the Fermi architecture and is certainly a step-up from the GeForce GTX 480 that launched just earlier this year. For those curious how this NVIDIA graphics card performs under Linux, here’s the first benchmark and it’s compared to the Windows driver performance too.

      • Linus: What’s Wrong With The Whole DRM Crowd?

        Linus is known for an occasional colorful email and in the past has had a number of issues with code in the DRM sub-system, such as calling the initial Graphics Execution Manager (GEM) push by Intel as being untested crap. It was also via Linus that Nouveau unexpectedly got merged into the mainline kernel. With this 2.6.37 DRM bug-fix pull (mailing list thread), Linus has become once again frustrated. This time it’s over the DRM code being messy, useless re-basing of Git trees, large amounts of DRM code always being changed later in the release cycles, and pulling “random crap” into tree.

      • Mee too … the 200 line kernel wonder patch

        Since yesterday I’ve been running with the sched: automated per tty task groups patch and the 2.6.37-rc2 kernel and it has really breathed new life into my old and trusty IBM X61s. The difference is really very significant almost like magic as everybody else noted too:) Yay!

      • The First NVIDIA GeForce GTX 580 Linux Benchmark

        Earlier this month NVIDIA rolled out the GeForce GTX 580 graphics card as their fastest GPU to date with 512 CUDA cores, a 772MHz core clock, 1544MHz processor clock, 1536MB of 2GHz GDDR5 memory, and support for three-way SLI. The GeForce GTX 580 with its GF110 core is based upon a refined version of the Fermi architecture and is certainly a step-up from the GeForce GTX 480 that launched just earlier this year. For those curious how this NVIDIA graphics card performs under Linux, here’s the first benchmark and it’s compared to the Windows driver performance too.

      • Xorg or Wayland: Color me disinterested

        Not for any dislike of Ubuntu, or distrust for the direction it is moving. You might call me old-fashioned, if only because the clicky buttony thingy doesn’t really turn me on. I’ll take a traditional desktop, any day.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • multihead plasma desktop needs YOU!

        Multihead, where there is more than one physical screen and one X server per physical screen (not to be confused with xinerama, xrandr, mergefb, etc.), and Plasma Desktop is getting into a rather usable state thanks to testing and feedback from users with those systems that goes beyond “it doesn’t work”. Thanks to the digging and debugging work of several individuals, my “coding in the blind” has produced finally produced useful results as of the 4.5.3 release. There are still some KWin issues, apparently, but plasma-desktop is pretty well there.

      • KDE 4 Look Part 2: Amarok 2.3.2 in KDE 4.5 and Fedora 14

        There was a time when I thought Amarok was the best music player on Linux. I even used to run it in Gnome as you can see from this 2005 screenshot. In that first link you can read me gushing over Amarok 1.4. I loved all the integrated technologies, especially the metadata juggling Amarok did. The first few Amarok 2.x releases with the KDE 4 libraries were complete crap. They were ugly and were missing nearly all of Amarok’s features. (Mirroring the complaints people were having about KDE 4 at the time) When I took a look at Amarok and KDE 4.4 in October I said I would take another look at Amarok.

      • A Matter of Control: The State of Input Device Support in KDE

        If you look at the various changes from KDE 3 to KDE 4, two major trends emerge: unification and abstraction. Plasma, for example, unifies the various parts of the desktop and panel. Solid provides an abstraction layer that hides the details of device management from applications, while Phonon does the same for multimedia. Akonadi does both, providing a unified system for handling PIM data and creating an abstraction layer so PIM front-ends don’t need to be concerned with the source or nature of the data they display. And of course the success of KDE 4 is not due solely to these trends, it is also due to developers sitting down and ironing out the current state of the tools in KDE, where they fail, where they work, where they should be, and how we can get them there.

      • Help KDE.org defeat the wall of text.

        Everybody knows that effective design is very important to any succesful interface – be it an application, a website, a product, or a physical structure. There are lots of reasons behind this, but the one I’m going to talk about today is how design combats the most dreaded wall of text, of which KDE.org is a victim.

      • Feature Guide for 4.6 Releases

        Early next year, KDE will release new versions of the Plasma workspaces, many of our applications and the KDE Platform that makes the rest possible. You may remember that for our 4.4 releases we had a feature guide that gave a nice visual description of the new features. This helps existing and potential users of KDE software see what is cool in the new releases and gets picked up by other news outlets. Getting your app or feature into this guide is a Good Thing.

      • Dolphin Improvements for KDE SC 4.6

        As usual after the KDE feature freeze, I’d like to give an overview which improvements have been done in Dolphin for the next KDE SC.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Faenza Icon Theme 0.8 Brings Lots Of New Icons, Reworked Icons For Chrome, Firefox And More

        The well known Faenza Icon theme was updated today (version 0.8), bringing icons for some applications which were missing such as: adobe air, deadbeef, devede, devhelp, dia, facebook, flickr, frostwire, glade, gnucash, gnumeric, homebank, jdownloader, kupfer, netbeans, openbravo, openerp, openshot, phatch, picasa, qtcreator, radiotray, soundconverter, terminator, vim, wordpress, wxbanker, xbmc and xournal.

  • Distributions

    • A young and pretty Linux server OS that takes a bit of work

      Zentyal 2 is something a little bit different, although it too has changed its name recently: version 1 was called e-Box. A decade younger than its rivals, it is based on Ubuntu, but its developers skip the normal semi-annual releases, and only use the Long Term Support ones that Canonical releases every other year. E-Box version 1 was based on Ubuntu 8.04 and version 2, now called Zentyal, uses Ubuntu 10.04.1.

    • Gentoo Family

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Gtk Lightweight Desktops: Xfce & LXDE Special Edition

        The staff of The NEW PCLinuxOS Magazine is proud to announce the release of the Gtk Lightweight Desktops: Xfce & LXDE Special Edition. This issue of the magazine is a compilation of all of the Xfce and LXDE articles that the magazine has ran over the past eight months, and will help serve as a reference source for any users wanting to use these lightweight, but mighty, desktop environments.

      • PCLinuxOS to Get a 64-bit Version

        Reynolds said that he has finished building the first 1000 packages. First he “upgraded gcc to 4.5.1, glibc 2.12.1, xorg 1.9.x then started rebuilding the libraries.” Once those are complete he’ll begin on the desktop packages. Unfortunately, there is no estimated time for release because there are still about 12,600 more packages to go before making ISOs and testing.

      • Some funky fresh news on Mandriva Linux

        Things are starting to look really nice now, cooker activity seems to have gotten back to previous levels and even then some and interest from new contributors seems to have increased as well, really nice to see!

    • Red Hat Family

      • RHEL6 from an Ubuntu Server Developer’s Perspective

        Myself being an Ubuntu Core Developer on the Ubuntu Server, I thought it prudent to take an honest look at RHEL6, and capture a few new notes here, complimenting Red Hat on their new release, noting some differences between Ubuntu and RHEL, and perhaps inspiring a few lessons we could learn in Ubuntu.

      • Forget 200 lines, Red Hat speeds up Linux with 4 lines of code

        Speeding up Linux, doesn’t necessarily have to be a gargantuan task and it doesn’t have to be done by Linus Torvalds either.

      • Red Hat broadens scope of open-source academic program

        Open-source software provider Red Hat is expanding its outreach efforts at universities and colleges. The company is a member of the Teaching Open Source community, and via its sponsorship of POSSE (Professors’ Open Source Summer Experience) workshops, it has facilitated the education of professors in how to best launch and incorporate open source into degree programs.

      • Fedora

        • Fedora Installation User Experience Improvements & Syslinux

          For F15 then, we’ve got some nice polish on the pre-install experience in place. So it’s time to go back to the install experience and try to get some solid polish there.

        • Fedora 14 Laughlin – Could be better!

          Fedora, the controversial distro. On one hand, it’s alpha-beta-zeta-jones quality, with the latest technologies that make you bleed, hence the term, the bleeding edge of technology. On the other, it’s a distro that revolves around the concept of free software. Ubuntu is like that too, only more pragmatic, so much in fact that the latest edition actually gives you the choice of sullying your distribution with evil proprietary software during the installation. Fedora remains the bastion of stubbornness and reduced usability.

          [...]

          Several hours after running autoten against the slow repositories and fixing the nerdy default settings, Fedora was ready for work, with codecs, office suite, music players, and other common programs. So yes, to sum it up, Fedora is the open-source Windows 7. And that’s not a compliment of the highest order. Worst of all, Fedora 14 Laughlin dashes any hopes for Ubuntu refugees come the spring, due to Unity nonsense.

    • Debian Family

      • Release Critical Bug report for Week 46
      • Galbraith Latency Patch Now in MEPIS 11.0 Alpha

        The Mike Galbraith latency patch, which is said to improve desktop performance by an order of magnitude, has been backported by Warren to the 2.6.36 kernel, and released for the SimplyMEPIS 11.0 alpha test cycle.

      • SimplyMEPIS 8th Anniversary Release
      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Unity Place People

          I am trying to get used to Vala and Unity.

          So I am hacking up a little Unity Place for People…

          Right now it doesn’t do much but get the contacts from your Zeitgeist history and sort them. Over the weekend I will try to get it to play nicely with libfolks. Once that is done I will be working even closer with DX, Zeitgeist, Telepathy, John Lea and Jorge Castro to make things rock and more usable for everyone.

        • Canonical Software Partners release business software for Ubuntu

          If you use Ubuntu in your company, you’re already familiar with its many advantages for businesses. But guess what? You ain’t seen nothin’ yet, as they say.

        • Changes to the One Hundred Paper Cuts project for the Natty cycle

          During the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Orlando, Florida, we discussed how we wanted to continue the project this cycle. This session resulted in some changes to the requirements of what constitutes a valid paper cut.

        • Canonical Works to Clarify the Ubuntu Brand

          The effort to clarify the Ubuntu brand, then, even if it appears to be only a semi-official endeavor undertaken by a Canonical employee, is an important step in convincing observers that Ubuntu’s assorted products are to be taken seriously. Whether the observers will be convinced, of course, remains to be seen.

        • New Ubuntu Patch Pilot Scheme

          When someone is new to Ubuntu and they want to get started helping to package bug fixes and software, they engage in the Sponsorship Process. In a nutshell, you get the source code for the package, apply the fix (or create the fix yourself), and then because you don’t have upload access, you ask another Ubuntu developer to review your work. This act of reviewing work is known as sponsoring, and it is something we have sometimes struggled as a project to keep up with – there are often many contributions that need sponsoring, but not enough volunteers in the existing developer community to review these contributions.

        • Flavours and Variants

          • Just Another Ubuntu-based Distro or Something More

            Jeff Hoogland, professed Linux Geek, has grown frustrated at the lack of inclusion of his favorite window environment in modern distributions. He said only Austrumi and PCLinuxOS offer a recent release with E17. So, instead of waiting for someone else to do it, he just developed one with E17 Beta himself. But is this just another “ho hum” moment or should you give this new effort a shot?

          • 12 Ubuntu Derivatives You Should Consider

            Though less well-known, Pinguy is also another very nice Ubuntu-based distribution for Linux beginners. It features numerous user-friendly enhancements, out-of-the-box support for multimedia codecs and browser plugins, a heavily tweaked GNOME user interface and a careful selection of popular desktop applications for many common computing tasks.

          • Pinguy OS Review
  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Unlocked Palm Pre 2 available in U.S.

        An unlocked version of Hewlett-Packard’s Palm Pre 2 smartphone is now available in the U.S. via Palm.com and HP’s SMB channels for $449. The upgraded 1GHz Pre 2 runs the new version 2.0 of the Linux-based WebOS operating system.

      • Nokia/MeeGo

        • Initial look at MeeGo Netbook, a minimalistic computer interface

          This week in MeeGo Conference all attendees received Lenovo S10-3t IdeaPad convertible netbook/tablet computers from Intel and Nokia. For many of us this was the first time we’re actually using MeeGo on a device, and so I thought to post some notes on how it feels.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • litl in the Event Boxes

        litl is now donating two webbooks, one for each GNOME event box. We’ve already shipped one for the North American box. I’m still waiting for the European box to be found before sending the other one. The litl OS is fully based on the GNOME platform using GObject, GLib, Clutter, GTK+, Gjs, GStreamer, and others. The webbook is a good example of the strength of GNOME’s platform. We hope this is a useful addition to the event boxes. Enjoy!

      • Jolicloud’s Jolibook Netbook Hitting Stores

        Jolicloud, the self-proclaimed “perfect OS for netbooks,” has been making headlines for a while with their consumer-focused, and frankly very cute Jolibook netbook. Word all around the web is that it is available today in the UK

      • A Shiny New Lenovo Ideapad S10-3s

        - PCLinuxOS 2010.10: Everything works! Hooray, La-la-la-la, it just works, everything from top to bottom, right out of the box!

Free Software/Open Source

  • LibreOffice Is Taking Shape With Third Beta

    It’s been less than two months since the Document Foundation announced that it was launching its own “fork” of the OpenOffice.org productivity software suite, but already its new LibreOffice alternative is beginning to take shape.

  • Documenting and challenging community misogyny

    One of the most uncomfortable items in the timelines is the most recent. Summarized simply as “Sexual assault at ApacheCon,” it refers to what allegedly happened to Noirin Shirley, an Apache board member, a couple of weeks ago.

    What is unusual about the incident is not — unfortunately — that it simply happened. Shirley undoubtedly speaks for many women when she writes, “It’s not the first time something like this has happened to me, at all. It’s not the first time it’s happened to me at a tech conference.”

    However, what is unusual is that this time Shirley not only reported the incident to the police, but also blogged about it and named names. “I’m tired of the sense that some idiot can ruin my day and never have to answer for it. I’m tired of the fear. I’m tired of people who think I should wear something different. I’m tired of people who think I should avoid having a beer in case my vigilance lapses for a moment. I’m tired of people who say that guys can’t read me right and I have to read them, and avoid giving the wrong impression.”

    Shirley showed exemplary courage in her actions, and many people said as much. Yet an alarming number of people attacked her instead, suggesting that the assault was her fault, because of how she dressed or acted.

  • Web Browsers

    • A Closer Look at the Next Generation Address Bars

      I decided to fire up four popular browsers and snag some screenshots of how each of them present a site’s URL to you. In my tests I used pre-release versions of each browser because, for the most part, these heavily represent what we should see released over the coming months. Of course the appearance can always change before the final version makes it out-the-door, but this is a better representation of how each company is attacking the address bar appearance today… and not a year ago. This particularly applies to Opera who just revamped their address bar in their latest Beta release.

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox vs. Explorer: Which is better?

        …finally won me over.

      • I Love Thunderbird 3.x

        Anyway, this version of Lightning works like a champ. I did have to modify the install.rdf to allow for a minimum version of TB 3.0, because that’s the version in my Slackware repos right now. I’m happy now! I use Lightning to plan my life. I would have been seriously disappointed if I couldn’t have gotten it to work eventually. I pretty much got T-bird 3 to behave the way I wanted it to, also. I think I’ll be able to get used to it. It’s a bit different from T-bird 2, but not that much. Check out figure 1 for a screenie of my T-bird 3 on Slackware.

      • Mozilla re-assesses its mission

        Following the publication of Mozilla’s audited financial statements for 2009, Mitchell Baker, Chairperson of the Mozilla Foundation, has taken the opportunity to re-examine Mozilla’s mission, its successes, opportunities and challenges.

      • Firefox 4 UI update brings snazzy, new alert pop-ups

        Lest you think blogger Long Zheng is all about Microsoft apps, our Australian friend has a keen eye on all kinds of bleeding-edge software. — including Firefox 4. Today he noticed a change in the Firefox 4 nightly build — sexier, semi-translucent alert dialogs, complete with a blur effect to obscure the webpage content in the background.

      • Mozilla Plans Open App Store

        The Mozilla Foundation has released a sort of non-profit’s annual report, “The State of Mozilla,” which provides a glimpse under the covers of the popular browser and e-mail provider.

  • Oracle

  • CMS

  • Education

    • EPIC FAIL: the sorry state of web education in schools

      Some highlights from Anna’s talk:

      * Younger students often have nowhere to turn if they want to learn web design or development. Serious training often isn’t available until the post-secondary level — despite the fact that the most talented developers (like Anna herself) start early. Matt Mullenweg, for example, created WordPress.com before he could legally drink. And Anna’s colleagues launched their own online business (UploadRobots.com) while still in the fifth grade.

  • Project Releases

    • Claws Mail Release Notes

      Claws Mail is a GTK+ based, user-friendly, lightweight, and fast email client.

    • Phoronix Test Suite 3.0 “Iveland” Alpha 2 Is Here

      Again, this work includes graphing improvements, system tables, HTTPS connection support, statistics reporting, and mobile / ARM-based benchmarking support for the Nokia N900 smart-phone and other ARM tablets running Linux operating systems.

  • Licensing

    • Sigh.

      The flood of generic Chinese Android devices with no source code makes it very easy to think that GPL adherence is something that’s only problematic with devices sourced from countries with poor records in IP enforcement. In reality, it’s a problem everywhere. Barnes and Noble are a US company and the contractors for the Nook were based in Canada. They’re aware enough to include the GPL notice in their documentation, but not concerned enough to make sure that they actually posses the source code that they’re legally obliged to provide.

    • Software Freedom and the GNU GPL

      The GNU General Public License (GNU GPL) is perhaps one of the easiest software licenses to both understand and use. Yet, in part due to corporate astroturfing campaigns of deliberate disinformation, it and the concept of software freedom is often also misunderstood.

      The GNU GPL as a license says nothing about how you use GNU GPL software that you receive. There are no terms or conditions that say how many copies of such software you can have, how many computers (seats) you may run it on, or how you modify it and combine it with other software. This is because the GNU GPL is neither a contract nor a “use” license, but rather a pure copyright license, and hence does not in any way interfere with how you may use software that you receive. It’s only condition is that if you do redistribute the software to others, that you do so under the same terms you received, nothing more.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • University of Michigan Library enables broader sharing and reuse with change to CC BY

      The University of Michigan Library now offers content on its website under the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY) license. This announcement is significant because the Library had been using the more restrictive Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial (CC BY-NC) license. By switching to the Attribution license, the Library has granted more permissions to use, share, and repurpose its research and technology guides, video tutorials, toolkits, copyright education materials, bibliographies, and other resources.

    • ☂ Essays Now Creative Commons Licensed
    • Creative Commons reporting from the International Open Government Data Conference
    • On the limits of openness I: the digital humanities and the computational turn to data-driven scholarship

      The digital humanities can be broadly understood as embracing all those scholarly activities in the humanities that involve writing about digital media and technology, and being engaged in processes of digital media production, practice and analysis. For example, developing new media theory, creating interactive electronic archives and literature, building online databases and wikis, producing virtual art galleries and museums, or exploring how various technologies reshape teaching and research. Yet this field – or, better, constellation of fields – is neither unified nor self-identical. If anything, the digital humanities are comprised of a wide range of often conflicting attitudes, approaches and practices that are being negotiated and employed in a variety of different contexts.

    • Creative Commons retiring the Public Domain dedication

      I strongly believe in not re-inventing the wheel, not only in the technical parts but also in licensing, this is why I use and promote Creative Commons licenses (despite their flaws) and this is why I supported using the Creative Commons definition of Public Domain for projects like the Open Clip Art Library. And it worked well for a while.Until Creative Commons was unhappy with the Public Domain dedication, probably not branded enough for their taste and for their need for attention, and “invented” a replacement, CC0, which was received not as warmly as they hoped.

Leftovers

  • Geek Gen X
  • Take a Tiny First Step Toward Controlling Your Internet Addressing Destiny

    Greetings. ICANN is preparing to inflict hundreds, and then thousands, of new top-level domains (TLDs) onto the global community of Internet users, which will serve mainly to sow confusion among consumers, and award vast monetary treasures to the tiny set of entities poised to rake in the dough as the masters of the existing domain name system (see: It’s Time to Stop ICANN’s Top-Level Domain (TLD) Lunacy!).

  • Science

    • ‘Alien’ planet detected circling dying star

      Astronomers claim to have discovered the first planet originating from outside our galaxy.

      The Jupiter-like planet, they say, is part of a solar system which once belonged to a dwarf galaxy.

    • Snapshot from Space

      [An aurora borealis, as seen from the International Space Station. The wicker-looking thing floating in the middle is a solar array from the space station. Image via astronaut Douglas Wheelock/AP]

    • Astronomy Picture of the Day
  • Health/Nutrition

    • Biowatch concerned about monopolisation of SA seed industry

      Biowatch South Africa, an NGO involved in promoting biodiversity and sustainable livelihoods, raised serious concerns about consolidation and emerging monopolies in the South African seed industry with the Competition Commission of South Africa in Pretoria today.

      The hearings were initiated by the Competition Commission to investigate concerns raised about a proposed merger between Pannar Seeds, the largest remaining South African seed company, and Pioneer Hi-Bred, a US-held seed company, part of DuPont Incorporated.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Cancer surviving flight attendant forced to remove prosthetic breast during pat-down

      A Charlotte-area flight attendant and cancer survivor contacted WBTV after she says she was forced to show her prosthetic breast during a pat-down.

      Cathy Bossi lives in south Charlotte and has been a flight attendant for the past 32 years, working the past 28 for U.S. Airways.

    • Why Congress Isn’t So Concerned With TSA Nude Scans & Gropes: They Get To Skip Them

      The NY Times notes that Speaker of the House John Boehner (who does regularly fly commercial) got to walk right by security and go directly to the gate.

    • No Security Pat-Downs for Boehner

      Representative John A. Boehner, soon to be the Speaker of the House, has pledged to fly commercial airlines back to his home district in Ohio. But that does not mean that he will be subjected to the hassles of ordinary passengers, including the controversial security pat-downs.

      As he left Washington on Friday, Mr. Boehner headed across the Potomac River to Reagan National Airport, which was bustling with afternoon travelers. But there was no waiting in line for Mr. Boehner, who was escorted around the metal detectors and body scanners, and taken directly to the gate.

      Mr. Boehner, who was wearing a casual yellow sweater and tan slacks, carried his own bags and smiled pleasantly at passengers who were leaving the security checkpoint inside the airport terminal. It was unclear whether any passengers waiting in the security line, including Representative Allen Boyd, a Florida Democrat who lost his re-election bid, saw Mr. Boehner.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • For EPA regulations, benefits consistently exceed costs

      Research shows that the benefits of environmental regulations consistently exceed costs, in part because they end up costing far less than both industry and the EPA predict.
      When EPA promulgates regulations, industry often expresses concern that the regulations will cause extreme economic hardship. Now this argument is being made regarding EPA regulation of carbon pollution using existing legal authorities like the Clean Air Act.

  • Finance

    • Group Calls For Citizens Arrest Of John Paulson

      A group of corporate pranksters called The Yes Men is pranking again: This time, one of their targets is hedge fund manager John Paulson. The group is calling for a citizen’s arrest of Paulson, based on his large holdings of AngloAshnati Gold stock—as pointed out by Lawrence Delevingne in his article today for Absolute Return + Alpha.

    • Why U.S. IT jobs aren’t coming back
    • Government spending: Britain’s reliance on private firms revealed

      The scale of the country’s reliance on private companies to power the state is revealed today as the government takes the historic step of publishing its accounts for the first time.

      The disclosure of the majority of payments made by government departments over the first five months after the election reveals Whitehall’s struggle to wean itself off high-cost contracts – and a burgeoning industry emerging around the coalition’s reforms.

    • Chinese state firms Jan.-Oct. profits up 45% to 1.6 trillion yuan

      The Ministry of Finance published today the operation results of state-owned enterprises (SOEs) for the first ten months of the year. Robust growth was recorded in profits, revenues and taxes.

      SOEs (excluding state-owned financial institutions) made 1.63 trillion yuan of profits this year by October, marking a remarkable growth of 44.8 percent year on year. Their business revenue went up by 34 percent to 24.5 trillion yuan. The tax payable reached 2 trillion yuan, 27 percent higher than the same period of last year.

    • Alibaba’s Big Plan for Mobile Internet

      Recently, I have been studying the mobile internet sector in China closely, and I have talked to most of the major players. Many people told me Alibaba is a player I should watch out for.

      Although currently Alibaba Group has no substantial mobile business, it has huge ambition in the mobile internet sector, and has been quietly acquiring assets.

    • Brazil now wants to be China, in a good way

      That said, I think it would be a good trend if Brazil started trying to compete with China on low end manufacturing. They probably aren’t going to get anywhere near China’s economies of scale, but they could quite quickly move up the technical latter, and provide knock-on benefits for several regional economies. It’s also always good to diversify out of finance and commodities as much as possible.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • 489 – How the West Wasn’t Won: Powell’s Water-based States

      But other interests were at work; the railway companies lobbied for large-scale settlement and agricultural development. Counter-expertise for Powell’s point of view was provided by professor Cyrus Thomas, who claimed that ‘rain follows the plough’. That theory was thoroughly disproved by the Dust Bowl of the 1920s and 1930s, which caused tremendous hardship among the pioneers attracted to farm the arid regions, and led many of them to migrate even further West.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Senate panel approves website shut-down bill

      The bill, with 17 Senate co-sponsors, is unlikely to pass through the House of Representatives this year, with only a few working days left in the congressional session. After the newly elected Congress meets in January, Leahy, a Vermont Democrat and Judiciary Committee chairman, would have to reintroduce it in the Senate.

    • The 19 Senators Who Voted To Censor The Internet

      * Patrick J. Leahy — Vermont
      * Herb Kohl — Wisconsin
      * Jeff Sessions — Alabama
      * Dianne Feinstein — California
      * Orrin G. Hatch — Utah
      * Russ Feingold — Wisconsin
      * Chuck Grassley — Iowa
      * Arlen Specter — Pennsylvania
      * Jon Kyl — Arizona
      * Chuck Schumer — New York
      * Lindsey Graham — South Carolina
      * Dick Durbin — Illinois
      * John Cornyn — Texas
      * Benjamin L. Cardin — Maryland
      * Tom Coburn — Oklahoma
      * Sheldon Whitehouse — Rhode Island
      * Amy Klobuchar — Minnesota
      * Al Franken — Minnesota
      * Chris Coons — Delaware

    • Senator Threatens to Block Online Copyright Bill

      Senator Ron Wyden, an Oregon Democrat, said late Thursday that he would seek to block the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act, or COICA, from passing through the full Senate, unless the legislation is changed. Earlier Thursday, the Senate Judiciary Committee voted 19-0 to approve the bill and send it to the full Senate.

    • Senator: Web censorship bill a “bunker-busting cluster bomb”

      The Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA, S.3804) sets up a system through which the US government can blacklist a pirate website from the Domain Name System, ban credit card companies from processing US payments to the site, and forbid online ad networks from working with the site. It passed the Senate Judiciary Committee 19-0 this week, but it’s never going to pass the Senate before the end of the current Congress.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Internet neutrality?

      With the global hunger for communications constantly growing, problems of traffic management and possible data congestion are inevitably surfacing, inducing some internet providers to impose restrictions on data traffic and online services provided. Does this signal the end of the open, neutral internet? Industry players, consumer associations and regulators met MEPs for a “net neutrality” to discuss quality of service, transparency of terms and conditions and anticompetitive behaviour.

    • Tortoise For Sale

      With net neutrality being an ongoing debate, another angle has just hit me as being open to abuse. The fear people have is about the well known, rich corporate sites being able to pay the ISPs for extra bandwidth, making those sites load quicker for their visitors. Those who can’t afford to pay are left quite literally on the slow lane. Start ups doing anything bandwidth intensive don’t stand a chance. What happens if Company A pays extra to restrict the bandwidth of Company B?

      Imagine if Google paid extra to ensure that all visitors on AT&T who went to Yahoo got served at dial up speeds. That would affect people’s perception of Yahoo negatively and they wouldn’t know why, therefore it’d help Yahoo’s competitors, including Google. Yahoo would then need to cough up money to AT&T to counter the effect, that’s assuming they track it down to the fact that they’re being hobbled by a deal between Google and AT&T. If they do pay up, what are Google paying extra for?

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Law and the GeoWeb, a workshop on IP and geographic data in the internet era sponsored by Creative Commons and the United States Geological Survey

      A workshop on “Intellectual Property and Geographic Data in the Internet Era” sponsored by Creative Commons and the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in conjunction with the annual meeting of AAG, April 11, 2011, Seattle, Washington. The workshop will be held at the campus of Microsoft Research, and will be streamed live on the Internet.

    • Copyrights

      • Anti-P2P solicitors get a hearing

        SELF-REGULATION of UK lawyers seems to be a very slow affair that is often overtaken by events.

        Before ACS:Law made a name for itself by suing alleged file-swappers in the UK, another legal outfit, Davenport Lyons tried it.

        Two partners from Davenport Lyons, David Gore and Brian Miller were accused of “proceeding recklessly” by demanding cash from thousands of people based upon only an IP address.

        In March the Solicitors Disciplinary Tribunal (SDT) decided to look into the case and now has finally decided to have a hearing on 31 May, 2011.

      • UK Court Says Making Available Online Only Happens Where The Server Is Located

        So, here’s the question that some people asked: if you only make the work available, but there is no evidence that a copy was made, then was the copyright infringed? After all, no reproduction was made. No copy was distributed. So, where’s the infringement? Supporters of saying that merely “making available” is infringing claimed that it was the equivalent of distributing because you had effectively offered it up for distribution or reproduction.

      • ACTA

        • ACTA includes confusingly similar trade mark goods

          onfusingly similar trade mark goods. This is bad for access to essential medicines.

          In an answer to a parliamentary question, the EU Commission wrote: “b) on the inappropriate seizures of medicines on the strength of mere allegations that trademarks are similar – the introduction of the concept of “confusingly similar trademark is proposed by one of the ACTA partners but not supported by any of the other;”

          But ACTA lacks a clear footnote like footnote 27 in the EU – Korea free trade agreement, limiting “goods infringing an intellectual property right” to “(a) counterfeit goods (…)”.

          ACTA’s criminal measures are limited to counterfeit goods (as far as trademarks are concerned). Some of the civil trademark measures are limited to counterfeit goods. But ACTA’s Chapter 2 section 3 on border measures is not limited to counterfeit goods. ACTA’s border measures regard suspect goods (art 2.X.1, page 10), and the test is whether the suspect goods infringe an intellectual property right (article 2.10, page 11).

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