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12.27.10

Links 27/12/2010: The Humble Indie Bundle Ends, Mandriva 2010.2 Screenshots

Posted in News Roundup at 2:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 4 Session Restore Not Working? Try This Fix

        I have been experiencing problems with Firefox’s built-in session restore which was configured to load the tabs from the last browsing session automatically on the next startup to allow me to continue working exactly where I stopped the last time.

      • Why Iceweasel?

        It is a valid question. Iceweasel/Firefox is fantastic software, but when compared to some of the newer WebKit based browsers, it begins to look somewhat stale. This lack of freshness is often compounded on Debian systems where the Iceweasel packages can lag some way behind Mozilla’s official Firefox releases.

  • Databases

    • Ubuntu Upstart for automatic MySQL start and stop

      Here at Recorded Future we use Ubuntu (running on Amazon EC2), but so far we have not explored Ubuntu Upstart that much. During the holidays I made an effort to get acquainted with Upstart and to implement proper MySQL start and stop with it.

  • CMS

    • WordPress 3.1 Release Candidate

      An RC comes after the beta period and before final release. That means we think we’re done. We currently have no known issues or bugs to squash. But with tens of millions of users, a variety of configurations, and thousands of plugins, it’s possible we’ve missed something. So if you haven’t tested WordPress 3.1 yet, now is the time! Please though, not on your live site unless you’re extra adventurous.

    • WordPress New Beta– to Upgrade or Not to Upgrade?
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Free software campaigners put pressure on Brussels

      “We would like to see the European Commission back up its public rhetoric regarding free software, open standards and interoperability with its own actions,” it said. “This would require DIGIT to rethink some procurement practices in order to open up public software procurement to competition.”

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Pirate Apple App Store Innovates With ‘Reverse BitTorrent’

      Hackulous, the community dedicated to the cracking of Apple DRM and the indexing of unprotected software for iPhone, iPod and iPad, has announced some interesting innovations. As well as having cracking software for the yet-to-be-released Mac App Store already up their sleeve, they also have an intriguing “reverse BitTorrent” system for jailbroken devices which will increase cracked app availability on the Internet.

    • Zen and the Art of Self-Publishing (cont.)

      You see, in trying everything—audiobooks, POD, limited editions—I’ve discovered the thing that captures the public’s interest is also the thing that makes the most money is also the thing that has the least logistics: super-premium limited editions. Over and over again, when I describe With a Little Help to people, they fixate on the limited editions. I’ve had dozens of e-mails from people practically begging to buy the $275 editions I’m doing—and I stand to make $50,000 or more from them.

  • Programming

    • Progress in Algorithms Beats Moore’s Law

      Every so often Lance tweets about some science policy report. My natural tendency, like any good techie, is to keep my distance from such reports. I do recognize that they serve an important social function (like dentists or lawyers) but personally I would want to have as little as possible to do with them.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Is Ogg Theora a free and open standard?

      For a while now I have tried to figure out of Ogg Theora is a free and open standard according to this definition. Here is a short writeup of what I have been able to gather so far. I brought up the topic on the Xiph advocacy mailing list in July 2009, for those that want to see some background information. According to Ivo Emanuel Gonçalves and Monty Montgomery on that list the Ogg Theora specification fulfils the Digistan definition.

    • Microsoft opens playpen for ‘unstable’ web standards

      Microsoft has unveiled an online sandbox where developers can experiment with unfinished web standards you won’t find in its Internet Explorer browser.

      After years of cold shouldering the web standards movement, Redmond has taken a very different approach with Internet Explorer 9, now available in beta. And with the introduction of its new sandbox, the company hopes to convince you that its promotion of web standards is more prudent than the approach favored by its rivals.

Leftovers

  • The Putinization of Hungary

    NEXT MONTH many European Union members may be regretting their system of a rotating presidency. That’s because the gavel will be handed to Hungary, whose populist and power-hungry government has just adopted a media law more suited to an authoritarian regime than to a Western democracy.

    The right-wing Fidesz party of Prime Minister Viktor Orban won 53 percent of the popular vote in an election this year but gained 66 percent of the seats in parliament – enough to change the constitution. It proceeded to take over or attack the authority of every institution it did not control, including the presidency, the Supreme Court and the state audit office; the central bank is now under its assault.

  • The Unwelcome Return of Platform Dependencies
  • Video Games Boost Brain Power, Multitasking Skills

    Parents, the next time you fret that your child is wasting too much time playing video games, consider new research suggesting that video gaming may have real-world benefits for your child’s developing brain.

    Daphne Bavelier is professor of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester. She studies young people playing action video games. Having now conducted more than 20 studies on the topic, Bavelier says, “It turns out that action video games are far from mindless.”

  • Winklevoss Twins Take One Last Shot At Facebook In Court

    Despite the film’s tidy ending, the Winklevosses’ litigation is marching on.

    That’s because the twin brothers have asked for a remarkable series of “do-overs” since signing the settlement agreement in February 2008, surrounded by their lawyers. First, they complained that the settlement wasn’t fair, because they were duped into believing that the Facebook stock was worth more than it actually was. Then, they got into a battle with the lawyers who won the settlement for them, from the law firm Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Hedges, alleging the firm had engaged in malpractice. (That dispute ended up in arbitration, which was resolved in September, with the Quinn Emanuel firm collecting the full fee it asked for, reportedly $13 million.)

  • Phone-Wielding Shoppers Strike Fear Into Retailers

    Last year, he might have just dropped the $184.85 Garmin global positioning system into his cart. This time, he took out his Android phone and typed the model number into an app that instantly compared the Best Buy price to those of other retailers. He found that he could get the same item on Amazon.com Inc.’s website for only $106.75, no shipping, no tax.

  • Is Julian Assange a Journalist?

    Despite Vice President Biden’s recent squabbling with Republican senators over the meaning of Christmas, he and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell do agree on something. They both say WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who has published thousands of confidential Pentagon and State Department documents on his group’s website, is “a high-tech terrorist.”

    But assuming that President Obama is not ready to drop a bomb on Assange, punishing him for disseminating military records and diplomatic cables will require specifying what crime he committed under U.S. law. That won’t be easy, unless the Justice Department is prepared to criminalize something journalists do every day: divulge information that the government wants to keep secret.

  • Virgin Passengers Not Named Madonna Wait 3 Hours To Get Off Plane

    When bad weather forced a London-bound Virgin flight to reroute from Heathrow Airport to Stansted, passengers had to wait three hours on the tarmac before they could disembark. A select group did, however, get to leave the plane after about an hour. No, they weren’t disabled, sick or parents with small, noisy children. The group making an early exit consisted of once-popular singer Madonna and her entourage of about 15 people.

  • Paper: Brown letter ‘affront to the First Amendment’

    I couldn’t quite believe that, as that Florida Times-Union editorial I linked to earlier suggests, Rep. Corrine Brown had threatened a libel suit against a newspaper columnist for the sort of criticism most politicians face.

  • Why is international data roaming so expensive?

    How high are international data roaming rates? I have direct evidence from two providers: an Italian provider TIM charges about $10 per megabyte; a U.S. provider T-mobile charges $15 per megabyte. The typical business user uses receives about 15 megabytes per day of email. My smartphone uses about four times this. By way of contrast, you can buy a SIM from Vodafone UK with 30 megabytes of data for about $30. Wifi at the airport or a hotel runs about $10-$60 per day. Over-the-air prices charged to local customers is much lower: TIM charges $25 per month for 5 gigabytes of data, of which probably about 2 gigs is actually used, so the effective rate is about $0.0125 per megabyte. T-mobile in the US charges a similar amount for similar service.,

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • US Senate votes for Russian nuclear arms treaty

      The US Senate today voted overwhelmingly in favour of a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia to reduce their nuclear arsenals.

    • Rights groups drop suit after government changes terror suspect defense licensing scheme

      The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) [advocacy websites] on Friday dropped a lawsuit [notice of dismissal, PDF] challenging the US government’s Specially Designated Global Terrorist (SDGT) licensing scheme after the government changed the policy. The groups announced in August that they would pursue a legal challenge [JURIST report] to the scheme despite being issued a license to represent Anwar al-Awlaqi [NYT profile; JURIST news archive], a US citizen who was labeled an SDGT in July.

    • One law for them, another for us: is it illegal to record the police on the job?

      In Reason magazine, Radley Balko takes an in-depth look at all the places in the USA where it’s nominally illegal to record the police, and all the people who’ve faced fines or prison for recording law enforcement officers breaking the law with illegal beatings and harassment.

    • America’s Inefficient and Ineffective Approach to Border Security

      Last week, the Senate refused to approve the DREAM Act, a bill that would have offered a path to citizenship for children brought into the country illegally if they attend college or serve in the military. Opponents stated that no immigration reform will happen without first “securing” the 1,951 mile U.S. border with Mexico. America’s current approach to border security is wasteful and ineffective, and “securing the border” will never be achieved until we redefine our approach to, and definition of, border security. With many in Washington expressing concern about fiscal responsibility, reigning in the billions wasted annually on current border security policies should really be a priority. But America’s xenophobic preoccupation with an “invasion” by brown-skinned “illegals” may keep us pursuing an expensive and unreasonable approach to border security.

    • A Banana Republic Once Again?

      Edward L. Bernays, Chiquita, and the CIA-backed Guatemalan Coup

      Chiquita’s most famous act of interference with Central American politics is its role in toppling Guatemala’s left-leaning government in 1954. For the first half of the 20th century, Chiquita poured investment capital into Guatemala, buying the country’s productive land and controlling shares in its railroad, electric utility, and telegraph industries; as a result, the Guatemalan government was subservient to Chiquita’s interests, exempting the company from internal taxation and guaranteeing workers earned no more than fifty cents per day. At the time of the 1944 Guatemalan revolution, Chiquita was the country’s number one landowner, employer, and exporter.

      In 1950, Jacobo Arbenz Guzman was elected with 65% of the vote, and Chiquita perceived his agrarian land reforms as a threat to their corporate interests. Chiquita, with the help of the father of modern public relations, Edward L. Bernays, waged a propaganda war and managed to convince the American public and politicians that Arbenz was secretly a dangerous communist who could not be allowed to remain in power. With McCarthy-era hysteria in full swing, President Eisenhower secretly ordered the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to overthrow the democratically elected Arbenz in a 1954 covert operation.

  • Cablegate

    • Issues and challenges for the post-Cablegate world

      Legislation — privacy, anti-terrorist, national security, copyright, ACTA, SHIELD, Digital Agenda

      Probably the first and if carefully watched, most visible issue will be the legislation.

      After the national security fiasco that resulted in Cablegate most governments around the globe (with the US at its front) will be hard-pressed to “do something about it”. Because neither police, nor court, nor governement can (or rather should) operate against the law and current law does not direcly criminalise WikiLeaks, they will have to change the law.

    • NZ in Iraq to help Fonterra – cable

      Revelations in WikiLeaks cables that senior civil servants are pushing the United States government’s agenda rather than acting in New Zealand’s interests are disturbing, Green MP Keith Locke says.

    • Julian Assange in £1 million book deal

      “Sweden is the Saudi Arabia of feminism. I fell into a hornets’ nest of revolutionary feminism’’, he alleged. The lawyer of the two women who have accused Mr Assange of sexual misconduct hit back saying that he was spreading “false rumours’’ to smear his clients. He denied allegations made by Mr Assange’s legal team that they were CIA “pawns’’ and pointed out that, on the contrary, they were “supporters of WikiLeaks’’.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Goldman’s new bonus plan captures seasonal spirit

      Goldman Sachs’ new bonus scheme should give shareholders and regulators cause for a little celebration this Christmas.

      The Wall Street firm is to link top bankers’ compensation to a wide range of financial measures, in a formal break with the industry tradition of crudely paying out a slice of revenues.

    • Goldman Sachs May Pay Bonuses Tied to Profit, Revenue

      Goldman Sachs Group Inc., weighing 2010 pay packages for a year that could rank as Wall Street’s second best, said it may grant bonuses that depend on future earnings, in addition to stock performance.

    • Teach for Goldman Sachs

      I’m convinced that the best way to track the mood of Stanford University is to keep an eye on your News Feed. And there’s one thing in particular that keeps popping up on mine- a prestigious program for which dozens of my friends have applied, and to which a lucky few have been accepted. I’m talking, of course, about Teach for America, the educational service corps that places fresh-faced graduates in troubled urban and rural classrooms across the U.S. The program’s rise has been meteoric: it currently boasts 8,200 corps members and claims to have reached 3 million students since it was founded in 1990. Its popularity at Stanford is no mere trick of my News Feed. The Daily recently reported that TFA and similar organizations “have witnessed a surge in applications from Stanford” in recent years.

    • Banks and WikiLeaks

      But a bank’s ability to block payments to a legal entity raises a troubling prospect. A handful of big banks could potentially bar any organization they disliked from the payments system, essentially cutting them off from the world economy.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • The Great Islamophobic Crusade

      Nine years after 9/11, hysteria about Muslims in American life has gripped the country. With it has gone an outburst of arson attacks on mosques, campaigns to stop their construction, and the branding of the Muslim-American community, overwhelmingly moderate, as a hotbed of potential terrorist recruits. The frenzy has raged from rural Tennessee to New York City, while in Oklahoma, voters even overwhelmingly approved a ballot measure banning the implementation of Sharia law in American courts (not that such a prospect existed). This campaign of Islamophobia wounded President Obama politically, as one out of five Americans have bought into a sustained chorus of false rumors about his secret Muslim faith. And it may have tainted views of Muslims in general; an August 2010 Pew Research Center poll revealed that, among Americans, the favorability rating of Muslims had dropped by 11 points since 2005.

    • Taxpayers Subsidize Big Screen Movie Promos for Cigarettes, and More

      Steven Antin’s new movie, Burlesque (PG-13), features about twenty different brands of products, including gratuitous use of R.J. Reynolds’ Camel cigarettes. Other films that have showcased cigarettes this year include the Disney film The Sorcerer’s Apprentice (rated PG, which features Newport cigarettes), and For Colored Girls (rated R, by Lionsgate, which features Marlboros).

    • New Memo Shows Fox News’ Unacceptable Level of Bias

      Media Matters uncovered another internal email sent out by Fox News’ Washington, D.C. Managing Editor Bill Sammon which ordered Fox Network journalists to slant coverage of the climate change issue by “refrain[ing] from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question.” The memo is inflammatory because the increase in global annual average temperatures over the last 50 years is a well-established fact.

    • Fox Slammed by L.A. Times — ‘Shouldn’t Call Itself a News Organization’

      The editorial was prompted by the leak of an internal Fox News memo ordering its “reporters” to “refrain from asserting that the planet has warmed (or cooled) in any given period without IMMEDIATELY pointing out that such theories are based upon data that critics have called into question.” The memo was sent by Bill Sammon, Fox News’ Washington managing editor, in 2009 and released by Media Matters last week.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Reactionary forces are shaping the debate on internet porn

      Government plans to block internet pornography at source, amid concerns about the “premature sexualisation” of children, have prompted a fierce backlash from digital rights campaigners. The proposals have also highlighted how the debate around children and sexual material is increasingly shaped by religious conservatives.

      One of the organisations quoted extensively over the last few days is Safermedia, a pressure group campaigning to “reduce the harmful effects of the media on our children, families and society”.

      Safermedia, formerly known as Mediamarch, supports the “porn lock” proposals and its spokespeople claim academic research substantiates their view that sexual imagery harms children’s mental health. But their moral stance is an explicitly Christian one – the group’s co-founder Miranda Suit is an organiser for the Christian People’s Alliance, and its website cites Saint Paul’s epistles to the Philippians and the Ephesians as inspiration for the campaign.

    • 2010 Trend Watch Update: Hardware Hacking
    • Full Homeland Security Affidavit To Seize Domains Riddled With Technical & Legal Errors

      Another day and even more evidence that Homeland Security’s decision to have its Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE) group seize a bunch of domain names without any warning or adversarial hearing was a colossal screw up. We haven’t heard too much about the sites seized concerning trademark infringement, but there were five that were the focus of copyright infringement — including a bunch of hiphop blogs (which were regularly used by artists and record labels alike to promote their songs) and a search engine. Last week, we went through a partial affidavit from a newly minted ICE agent named Andrew Reynolds, which showed numerous technological and legal errors in explaining why the domain of the search engine, Torrent Finder, was seized. Yesterday, we wrote about how some of the “evidence” used against the blogs included songs sent by the labels for promotional purposes.

    • Warrantless-Wiretap Win Nets Victims a Paltry $40K

      A federal judge on Tuesday awarded $20,400 each to two American lawyers illegally wiretapped by the George W. Bush administration, and granted their counsel $2.5 million for the costs litigating the case for more than four years.

    • Web attacks target human rights sites

      Human rights groups and campaigners are being hit hard by huge web attacks launched by those opposed to their views, finds research.

      Many web-based campaigning groups are being knocked offline for weeks by the attacks, it found.

      The researchers expect the tempo of attacks to increase as the tools and techniques become more widespread.

    • DDoS attacks threaten free speech, says report

      Computer attacks launched against sites run by human rights and dissident media groups threaten to knock free speech off the Web, a new report warned this week.

      The study conducted by Harvard University’s Berkman Center for Internet & Society showed that distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks frequently knocked such sites offline.

    • Shock jock Hal Turner gets 33-month prison sentence

      “This is beyond opinion … beyond commentary. He wanted to threaten and intimidate these judges” by trying to incite an audience made up of dangerous extremists, she said. The judges testified they feared for their lives, she said.

      Turner maintained the posting was nothing more than protected political speech.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Not Neutrality

      On Tuesday FCC Chairman Julius Genachowski gave AT&T a decision that was gift-wrapped for the holiday season. By a 3-to-2 vote, the FCC passed a rule that, in the chairman’s words, “protects Internet freedom.”

      If only that were true.

      After a year of promises to deliver on President Obama’s pledge to protect Net Neutrality, this chairman has pushed through a rule that favors the very industry his FCC is supposed to regulate, leaving Internet users with few protections and putting the future of the open Internet in peril.

    • The Trojan App

      Look for shortly to appear what I’m calling the Trojan App, a hybrid mobile application that doesn’t exist yet but certainly will within hours or days of the new rules going into effect. The Trojan App is a legitimate mobile application that performs multiple functions, at least one of which is to circumvent the new wireless rules.

      Here’s what I mean. Maybe you saw the story a couple of days ago about technology being brought to market that would enable mobile phone companies to charge Facebook users by the page for access. Under the new rules a mobile carrier can do that, no problem. But because that mobile network offers its own voice service (they all do) under the new rules they can’t similarly restrict Skype or Google Voice or any of the dozens or hundreds of Voice-over-IP third-party services out there. So what’s to keep Skype or Google or Yahoo or iChat or MrVoIP from offering a mobile version of its service that includes a free gateway to Facebook?

      Nothing.

      These are perfectly legitimate applications that are protected from throttling by virtue of their competing with a core service of the ISP, yet in this instance they will have gained a secondary function of acting as a Virtual Private Network link to an otherwise-regulated service like Facebook.

      It’s a digital loophole.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Software Copyright Infringement by the EU Commission

      In a decision as remarkable for its amusement value as for its value as a precedent in law, the General Court has ordered the Commission to pay Systran liquidated damages of over €12 million

      Between 22 December 1997 and 15 March 2002, Systran Luxembourg adapted, under the name EC-Systran Unix, its Systran-Unix machine translation software to the specific needs of the EU Commission.

    • What not to do about China’s IP violations

      The New York Times lead editorial today is entitled China and Intellectual Property link here. It is a familiar litany of complaints about their theft of U S “property” with no suggestion that there might be another side to the question.

      If we were in China’s position, still poor and backward in so many areas, we too would try our hardest to skate around the obstacles to using the latest innovations. Innovation is the key to rapid development and national material progress. We ourselves have violated the IP of other countries when we were behind and trying to develop. Of course, that was before we had fully developed the mythology of IP as “property” and that copying without paying was robbery.

      [...]

      The present IP system in the US is marred by its harmful and excessively long term, by its grossly ambiguous and generous definition of what constitutes innovation, by the capture of the system by big business which dearly loves its monopolies, and by a legal system that grows fat on litigation.

    • Copyrights

      • Porn site: publicizing takedown notices is copyright infringement

        Perfect 10, the porn website that bills itself as displaying “the world’s most beautiful natural women,” claims that disclosing its copyright takedown notices is a little too revealing.

        The copyright-infringement allegations are part of Perfect 10’s ongoing lawsuit against Google, a suit with a tortured procedural history. In 2007, a federal appeals court rendered a far-reaching decision, saying search engines like Google were not infringing copyrights by displaying thumbnails and hyperlinking to Perfect 10’s perfect babes.

      • Discussing The Music Industry Comically Speaking, With Mimi & Eunice

        Mike’s recent post about OK Go is just crying out for some Mimi & Eunice cartoons.

      • isoHunt Continues Legal Fight To Thwart MPAA Censorship

        BitTorrent search engine isoHunt is fighting the permanent injunction issued by the District Court of California last summer in their case against the MPAA. isoHunt contests the imposition of a site-wide keyword filter based on a list of movie industry keywords. By doing so, the search engine also makes a case for the public’s ‘freedom of search’, not just on BitTorrent, but on the Internet in general.

      • Newspaper Lawsuit Factory Sues Over ‘Death Ray’ Image

        Righthaven, the Las Vegas copyright troll formed this spring, has moved beyond lawsuits over newspaper articles and begun targeting websites for the unauthorized reposting of images. First up, more than a dozen infringement lawsuits concerning the so-called Vdara “death ray.”

Clip of the Day

Frost over the World – Julian Assange


Credit: TinyOgg

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