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12.29.10

Links 29/12/2010: Another Massive School Move to Desktop GNU/Linux, Ubuntablet Rumours

Posted in News Roundup at 4:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Putin Orders Russian Gov’t to Move to Open Source

    Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin [cq] has ordered government agencies there to open-source software by 2015, according to translated documents.

    Putin’s order, signed this month, follows news reports from October saying the Russian government was planning to drop Microsoft products in favor of a national open-source operating system based on Linux.

  • Vladimir Putin Orders Russian Government to Switch to Free Software by 2015
  • Russia Moves to Linux In 2011

    Prime Minister of the Russian Federation, Vladimir Putin, signed a government order for the transition of federal executive bodies and agencies of the federal budget to use free software between 2011 – 2015.

  • Finally a Download Accelerator for Linux that Works with Chromium

    There are not many download accelerators for Linux that integrate well with web browsers and have support for downloading links right from the browser. Command line tools like Axel download accelerator and Aria2 are available for Linux but then you have to download links by copy/pasting them into terminal or in a GUI for it.

  • Desktop

    • Dysart Unified School District saves more than $100,000 by switching computer operating systems

      In a little-known approach to saving money, the Dysart Unified School District has switched about 3,000 of its computers from the Microsoft Windows operating system to Linux.

    • Schools Prefer Not To Scrap Working PCs

      Same old story. Budget cuts. PCs growing old. GNU/Linux gives them new life and the school district saved $100K in a year. If that is mainstream, imagine the motivation a school like mine without any budget for IT has to switch…

    • Panic at M$

      Further, M$ calls “office workers” demanding and needing better performance. If that were true they would already be using thin clients because with files already cached in the RAM of a powerful server there is no waiting for I/O. Office workers are the least demanding users of PCs that I know. They think IT is just fine if the machine boots quickly and keep ahead of typing. That has been true since P3 and thin clients are more powerful than that these days.

    • Linux for the rest of us?

      However, the Ubuntu distribution installed on my netbook in about 10 minutes and installed all the necessary drivers. Well, almost all of them. I couldn’t get my Wi-Fi card to work with Ubuntu, but a quick Google search led me to the solution. In under an hour, then, I had an operating system that up and running. In other words, you don’t have to be a software engineer or someone with a ton of time on his hands to install this and get it to work well. Linux has come a long way, indeed.

    • Can an old PC be saved by Linux? Yes, but it’s not for everybody

      Jason Detzel of Maplewood converted a nine-year-old Windows laptop to Linux after upgrading its RAM (random access memory) to 1 gigabyte.

      “I’m blown away how fast this system runs,” Detzel said. “If I stick with Web browsing, e-mail and downloading pictures, this PC will last for several more years.”

    • Is Linux dead on the desktop?

      It’s the libertarian’s choice. But Linux needs to stop competing with ‘free’.

    • Buying a Dell without Windows is not easy, but possible

      Buying a PC from any large manufacturer/retailer without a copy of Windows pre-installed is difficult. You have some companies that refuse to sell a machine if you want Windows removed, then there are others that will remove it and reduce the price. Dell offers certain confirgurations without Windows installed, but it’s not clear from the website, and has to be requested either offline or over Live Chat.

      Harish Pillay found this out by actually trying to buy a Dell laptop with Ubuntu installed. He had actually done this before, purchasing a Dell Vostro V13-N series laptop with Ubuntu. However, this time the N-series was nowhere to be seen and a Live Chat was required to get a Windows-less laptop.

  • Ballnux

  • Kernel Space

    • The kernel column #95 by Jon Masters

      We’re now free of the Big Kernel Lock (in many configurations – it’s a config option that will hide other not-yet-compatible options when used) and I have been running systems BKL-free for some time now. Arnd Bergman and others have done an excellent job to rid us of this last vestige of truly ancient non-scalable Linux and unless you need a V4L (Video-4-Linux – TV tuner, webcam etc) device, you can probably run BKL-free today too. It is hoped that V4L will be fixed soon, maybe in time for 2.6.37. You probably won’t notice a huge performance benefit of running without the BKL unless you happen to have something more high end than a desktop, but it’s still pretty cool to know that you could get higher performance if only you could afford to have a system with dozens of CPUs to take advantage of it.

    • Just How Big Is OpenBenchmarking.org?

      With Iveland Alpha 5 arriving earlier today and more information beginning to be released about OpenBenchmarking.org for its February debut with Phoronix Test Suite 3.0, many have become more curious about what this project entails. Last week I posted a few very small screenshots of OpenBenchmarking.org in its current form. I also have already said OpenBenchmarking.org will become bigger than Phoronix itself, so here are a few statistics right now.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Will Intel’s Sandy Bridge & P67 Play Well With Linux?

        Next week Intel is set to roll out their much-anticipated “Sandy Bridge” CPUs during the 2011 Consumer Electronics Show. With these 32nm, LGA-1155 next-generation Intel Core processors will also come the Intel P67 Chipset on a whole selection of new motherboards at launch like the ECS P67H2-A2 and ASRock P67 Pro3. How well though will Intel’s newest hardware play with Linux?

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Clementine Review: Resurrecting The Wolf

        “Thriving on the success of the popular Amarok 1.4, Clementine tries to provide a reminiscent user experience and on par acoustics to the Amarok 1.4.x user base”.

        The Kde 4.x and QT 4 desktop changed the way people used the PC. Touted to revolutionist the PC experience, KDE 4 desktop brought some drastic changes. To cope up with the KDE development Amarok team tried to follow the same bandwagon and audited the ever loved Amarok 1.4 to a newly refurbished Amarok 2. Some hated it, while some loved it. However the mixed bag review was much to the downside of Amarok.

      • YaRock 0.0.41 Released With New Toolbar And IceCast / ShoutCast Radio Browser

        YaRock is a new Qt4 music player designed to provide a nice overview of your music by allowing you to browse your music collection based on the album cover art. We love YaRock here at WebUpd8, especially for it’s simplicity and the nice cover art overview it provides, as well as the ability to fetch albums cover art from Last.fm.

      • call for 4.6 release parties

        A new major release is around the corner and it’s time for all of you to help with KDE release parties around the globe. This is a guest blog by my Google Code-in student Sasu.

        It’s been over four months now from previous major release by KDE and it’s time for a new one. 4.6 is about to be released on 26th of January and it is party time again! Release parties are very fun and educational for visitors. If your party has represented KDE well you can even get new local KDE community members.

      • Promo Release Parties 4.6
      • conf.KDE.in: First KDE Conference in India

        The Indian KDE community will organize its first conference at Bengaluru in March 2011. The 5 day event will bring together KDE contributors, Qt developers, users and FOSS enthusiasts.

        We realise that there are not many KDE/Qt related events that are accessible to Indians. FOSS conferences or meetings are an excellent way to show people the technology first hand and ways to contribute to it. We not only dazzle them with the world of KDE, but show them first hand how simple it is to get involved and make a difference. This is our motivation for conducting this event.

  • Distributions

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • PCLinuxOS 64-Bit Suffers Delays, but Still Coming

        A long anticipated 64-bit version of PCLOS was reported to be in development this past November. And as 2010 draws to a close, some wonder what its current status is. Bill Reynolds, not known for long-winded conversations or laying out rigid development schedules, has given a bit of an update.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat reasserts itself in Thailand

        Currently, Red Hat has a 75% to 80% share of the Linux market and Gartner predicts that at least 80% of all commercial software solutions will soon be based on open source.

      • Fedora

        • Switched to Fedora

          Yeah. Yesterday I was so annoyed by my computer that I burned a cd with Fedora and installed it. I also had a 1,5TB disk waiting to be inserted, combining that made the switch pretty easy.

          For the last couple years, I ran KDE from trunk from svn. That meant that I only had a need for a basic Linux OS. Debian was fine for that. Combined with Equives I could still use some distro packages while compiling most of it myself. But there were problems. Mostly these were caused by my own lazyness in configuring the right stuff in the right way.

          [...]

          So up to now, big compliments to the Fedora team. Nice job, and that needs to be said too sometimes!

    • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Ubuntu tablet rumored for early 2011 launch

          “A new Linux powered tablet is on it’s way!” writes Andrew Sykes, publisher of the China-based gadget site Gizchina, with more enthusiasm than grammatical precision.

        • More details emerge on ‘mystery’ Ubuntu tablet

          More information has surfaced on the new Ubuntu-powered tablet device we wrote about last week.

        • Ubuntu Tweak 0.5.9: urgent update for single-sourceslist users

          In the last Ubuntu Tweak 0.5.8, I made a mistake. If you disabled the “Use Separated Sources” in the preferences in Ubuntu Tweak, all your Launchpad PPA sources may be “lost”(In fact, they’ve been moved to the separated file).

        • 3 Things That Ubuntu One Should Sync, That It Doesn’t

          Ubuntu One a syncing service that Canonical bundles with Ubuntu. I think it’s great that it’s bundled with the OS, but it doesn’t feel like it’s being extended to its full potential (or even most of it). Recognize that I’m talking about the syncing service alone, as opposed to syncing+music store+[insert new feature here].

        • Flavours and Variants

          • AriOS: Light Interface And Heavy Application Base In A Ready To Use Ubuntu Remaster

            AriOS is the successor of mFatOS, an Ubuntu remaster we talked about a while back. AriOS 2.0 was released today and it’s based on Ubuntu 10.10 – the new version tries to replicate Unity but as opposed to Unity, it’s customizable thanks to Avant Window Navigator. In AriOS, everything works out of the box and most popular applications are installed by default which I’m sure those with a limited Internet connection will appreciate.

          • [Mint] News Update

            # The Community Website is now running on its own in our Canadian server in Toronto.
            # We lost our development and testing server in London.
            # A second Cloud Server was allocated to host our public archive (which was previously in London).

Free Software/Open Source

  • LibreOffice

    I did download and install LibreOffice 3.3-rc2 this morning and it worked like a charm.

  • 9 Free and Open Source Software Stories to Watch in 2011

    Unless GNOME developers can pull a last minute rabbit out of their collective hat, a mixed response for GNOME 3.0 seems inevitable. Even then, a fork to continue development of GNOME 2.0 is probable. A strongly hostile reaction may weaken GNOME’s dominant position on the desktop, increasing the popularity of KDE or opening the way for Ubuntu’s Unity desktop.

  • 7 Predictions For Open Source in 2011

    This feels like a no-brainer at this point, but Android is clearly going to continue on its upward path throughout 2011. Holding nearly a quarter of the smartphone market in October, it’s widely expected to become the number-one mobile operating platform in the world in the next few years; I predict that will happen sooner rather than later, possibly even by the end of next year.

  • Year in Review: Open source

    The Apache Foundation also had a busy year, with Hadoop taking most of the spotlight. The open-source map/reduce implementation was the most popular project at Apache in 2010, whether you’re measuring by code contributions, sub-projects or discussion lists.

  • Web Browsers

  • Databases

  • Education

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • Upcoming Release 8.2 – RC1

      27 December: The first Release Candidate builds for the FreeBSD-7.4/8.2 release cycles are now available. ISO images for Tier-1 architectures can be downloaded from most of the FreeBSD mirror sites. Please see the official announcement for further details about these releases.

  • Project Releases

    • Shotwell .8 is out.

      The Yorba folks have released a new version of Shotwell. You can snag it here.

  • Programming

    • Open Source Languages in 2010: Developer Year in Review

      In terms of tools and servers, 2010 was a year of plenty for Java users.

    • Ettercap Troubles on SourceForge

      Recently, there have been reports in the news that an unauthorized third party viewed and modified ettercap forums database (hosted on our Project web service). Among other things, this exposed hashed values of ettercap forum user passwords. (In other words, if you have an ettercap account/password and you’re using the same password other places, such as your SourceForge account, it would be in your best interest to change them. And not do that anymore.)

    • Coding styles comparison in the Open Source Software world

      While looking for existing C coding standards I discovered that the GNU and Linux projects officially suggest very different styles. Inside the Linux kernel documentation, Linus Torvalds goes so far as to mock GNU coding standards:

      First off, I’d suggest printing out a copy of the GNU coding standards, and NOT read it. Burn them, it’s a great symbolic gesture.

      At this point I wanted to understand the difference between the coding styles of established open source projects.

Leftovers

  • Infographic: Chinese, the new dominant language of the internet
  • The Letters of the Law: 2010 in Tech Law from A to Z
  • Our Economy of Kindness

    Who wouldn’t agree that our society is capitalistic, based on competition and selfishness? As it happens, however, huge areas of our lives are also based on gift economies, barter, mutual aid, and giving without hope of return (principles that have little or nothing to do with competition, selfishness, or scarcity economics). Think of the relations between friends, between family members, the activities of volunteers or those who have chosen their vocation on principle rather than for profit.

  • No web access at home for 2m poor pupils, warns charity

    The original web headline for this article – More than 3m UK children have no internet access at home, warns charity – conflated two figures: 1m children are without computers and 2m are without internet access. This has been corrected.

  • Libel Reform Part I: the purpose of defamation law

    So familiar are we with its presence in English legal and media life that we perhaps take the existence of defamation law for granted.

    In practical terms, the law of defamation provides the means by which legal action can be taken (or threatened) in respect of statements which are unwelcome to the claimant, regardless of any public interest in those statements being made.

  • 2011 preview: Peak internet comes into view

    The internet is already considered so important in Finland, Spain and Estonia that access is a legal right. And the list of online possibilities keeps on growing. In 2010, the launch of Apple’s iPad and other touchscreen computers made surfing more fun and intuitive, while several smartphone operating systems, especially Google’s Android, took off, extending the mobile net’s reach.

  • What lies ahead: Publishing
  • Anti-LGBT Ugandan Pastor Martin Ssempa Charged With Blackmail

    Ugandan pastor Martin Ssempa has been charged with blackmail for allegedly paying a man to falsely accuse another pastor of sexual assault. Ssempa is notorious in Uganda and around the world for his anti-LGBT sentiments and past efforts.

  • Science

    • The Truth Wears Off

      On September 18, 2007, a few dozen neuroscientists, psychiatrists, and drug-company executives gathered in a hotel conference room in Brussels to hear some startling news. It had to do with a class of drugs known as atypical or second-generation antipsychotics, which came on the market in the early nineties. The drugs, sold under brand names such as Abilify, Seroquel, and Zyprexa, had been tested on schizophrenics in several large clinical trials, all of which had demonstrated a dramatic decrease in the subjects’ psychiatric symptoms. As a result, second-generation antipsychotics had become one of the fastest-growing and most profitable pharmaceutical classes. By 2001, Eli Lilly’s Zyprexa was generating more revenue than Prozac. It remains the company’s top-selling drug.

    • Light Peak Explained: New Connection Standard Promises 10 Gbps Or More

      Transfer junkies may be excited for USB 3.0, but Intel’s Light Peak solution promises up to double the speeds of that standard. We’re talking data rates of up to 10 gigabits per second, fast enough to transfer a full 1080p digital copy of No Country for Old Men (about 4GB) in less than 4 seconds (normally a two-hour process). But that’s not all Light Peak can do. To learn more about this exciting technology, we spoke with Victor Krutul, director of the I/O optical team at Intel and a former head Light Peak engineer.

    • Researchers: Ancient human remains found in Israel

      A Tel Aviv University team excavating a cave in central Israel said teeth found in the cave are about 400,000 years old and resemble those of other remains of modern man, known scientifically as Homo sapiens, found in Israel. The earliest Homo sapiens remains found until now are half as old.

    • Printing Musical Instruments

      Tipster Jb pointed us at a video of a rather startling project: Printing a complete musical instrument. In this case, MIT Media Lab researcher Amit Zoran attempted to print an entire and working flute in one operation.

    • How to afford a big sloppy genome

      Prokaryotes are all about efficiency and refinement, while eukaryotes are all about flamboyant experimentation by chance, not design.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • NHS staff cuts could cost lives, says nursing chief

      Patients could die because staffing levels in the NHS are being reduced to dangerously low levels, the leader of Britain’s 400,000 nurses has warned.

      The quality of care received by patients in hospitals is also bound to worsen as tens of thousands of posts are cut, says Dr Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing.

    • Nicotine patches to be offered to England smokers

      The government is offering free nicotine patches to smokers in England planning to quit in the new year.

      A week’s free trial of the patches – part of the NHS Stop Smoking Quit Kit – will be available at many chemists for the first time from 1 January.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Humiliate, strip, threaten: UK military interrogation manuals discovered

      The British military has been training interrogators in techniques that include threats, sensory deprivation and enforced nakedness in an apparent breach of the Geneva conventions, the Guardian has discovered.

    • Iran poised to execute student accused of being Kurd terrorist

      A 29-year-old Iranian student activist is facing execution tomorrow unless an international campaign launched by human rights groups can persuade authorities to quash his conviction.

    • “The Darkness to Expel!”

      The book makes very depressing reading, and not because it details gruesome atrocities. On the contrary, the editors made it a point not to include incidents of exceptional brutality committed by sadists, which can be found in every army unit in Israel and throughout the world. Rather, they wanted to throw light on the grey routine of the occupation.

    • Help Silwan Resident Adnan Gheith Stay in Jerusalem
    • Brooklyn-Jenin: Why didn’t the judges prevent the demolition in Lod?

      One morning, when the storm started shaking the treetops and the dogs howled in terror because of the thunders and the flashes of lightning, fifty children of different ages went out to school in the city of Lod, Israel. During the day most of them worked diligently on their studies, hoping the storm would abate so they could go back safely to the home where they were born and raised. To the sound of the bell announcing the end of the day they all set off running back home. The tempest intensified, and with it the will to find oneself in the warmth of one’s home; in the warmth of the seven homes of their extended family – the Abu Eid family.

    • Airline Pilot Disciplined After Posting Video of Security Flaws

      The Transportation Security Administration did not like a series of Youtube videos posted by an airline pilot, which highlighted the ineptness of its security procedures.

      So they dispatched a team of federal and local agents to his Northern California home to intimidate him.

    • More consumers letting insurers monitor mileage

      Car insurance rates have always been based on risk, and risk has usually been measured by the number of miles driven. So drivers often underreport the miles they travel to keep their rates low — at the expense of other drivers.

      But a form of insurance that requires electronic verification of miles driven, in return for a discount, is gaining popularity. These so-called pay-as-you-drive policies — miles are often tracked through a GPS system in the car — are now offered in more than half of the states and are spreading, albeit slowly, despite privacy concerns.

    • Suicide bomber kills 45 outside Pakistan food relief centre
    • Mr Cameron doesn’t understand Pakistan. Sadly, he is not alone
    • Tory-appointed watchdogs reluctant to probe wrongdoing, critics charge

      The three independent federal watchdogs created by the Conservative government operate largely behind the closed doors of their own offices and, after one was exposed this fall for having done little in three years, critics are asking questions about the effectiveness of the other two.

    • TSA has no system to test its body-scanners

      According to the post on Boing Boing that references an AOL news investigation, even when an expert endorses the TSA’s scanners they are careful to preface their support with some warnings: the safety of the machines depends heavily on their being properly maintained, regularly tested, and expertly operated.

      You may or may not be in favor of the radiation that comes from the Transportation Sex-crime Administration’s scanners, but I think most people would agree that a malfunctioning machine that beams your vital organs with 10,000 or 100,000 times the normal dosage is bad thing.

  • Cablegate

    • Julian Assange: FOX News Is Closer to Terrorism Than WikiLeaks

      Say what you will about Julian Assange, but the guy’s smart as a whip. In an interview with MSNBC yesterday, the WIkiLeaks captain eloquently and vehemently defended his First Amendment rights, while decrying the U.S. media’s “digital McCarthyism,” entailing a call for his assassination.

    • WikiLeaks cable: Japanese whaling vessel collision with Sea Sheperd – NZ’s perspective

      Japanese Whaling Vessel Collision With Sea Sheperd Boat –
      New Zealand’s Perspective

    • Assange warns of ‘digital McCarthyism’
    • WikiLeaks cables: Mauritius sues UK for control of Chagos islands
    • Wired Magazine Slammed for Withholding Chat Logs That Could Prove Assange and Bradley Manning Did Not Conspire

      By his own admission, Wired Magazine Senior Editor Kevin Poulsen is withholding a large majority of chat logs that could prove WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange did or did not conspire with the US soldier accused of leaking a cache of diplomatic cables.

    • Social Preferencing Note: Wired

      There will be no more Wired renewals from this household so long as Wired continues to shill for the state versus Bradley Manning.

      A complete reversal, a public apology and a substantial financial contribution to the Bradley Manning Support Network might get that subscription back in play.

    • OPEN LETTER

      THOSE INCITING MURDER UPON JULIAN ASSANGE AND/OR MEMBERS OF HIS FAMILY.

      We, among many law abiding citizens of the world deplore and condemn, as applicable, your utterances and writings calling for the extra judicial ie unlawful: kidnapping/assassination/murder/physical harm of Julian Assange, his supporters, Wikileaks workers or members of Assange’s family.

    • The worsening journalistic disgrace at Wired

      For more than six months, Wired’s Senior Editor Kevin Poulsen has possessed — but refuses to publish — the key evidence in one of the year’s most significant political stories: the arrest of U.S. Army PFC Bradley Manning for allegedly acting as WikiLeaks’ source. In late May, Adrian Lamo — at the same time he was working with the FBI as a government informant against Manning — gave Poulsen what he purported to be the full chat logs between Manning and Lamo in which the Army Private allegedly confessed to having been the source for the various cables, documents and video that WikiLeaks released throughout this year. In interviews with me in June, both Poulsen and Lamo confirmed that Lamo placed no substantive restrictions on Poulsen with regard to the chat logs: Wired was and remains free to publish the logs in their entirety.

    • [Old] Wikileaks writers killed in Kenya

      From Wikileaks: Two Wikileaks-related senior human rights activists have been assassinated. We ask for your assistance.

      On Thursday afternoon March 5, Oscar Kamau Kingara, director of the Kenyan based Oscar legal aid Foundation, and its programme coordinator, John Paul Oulo, were shot at close range in their car less than a mile from President Kibaki’s residence. The two were on their way to a meeting at the Kenyan National Commission on Human Rights.

    • Julian Assange, My Parents and the Espionage Act of 1917

      I view the Espionage Act of 1917 as a lifelong nemesis. My parents were charged, tried and ultimately executed after being indicted for Conspiracy to Commit Espionage under that act.

    • Case Overview

      Julius Rosenberg was arrested in July 1950 a few weeks after the Korean War began. He was executed, along with his wife, Ethel, on June 19, 1953, a few weeks before it ended. The charge against the Rosenbergs was vague – “Conspiracy to Commit Espionage.” But they really were tried and sentenced for giving the secret of the atomic bomb to the USSR. Their co-defendant Morton Sobell also was convicted and received a 30-year prison sentence.

    • WikiLeaks’ Imitators Proliferate But Go Their Own Way: A Catalog of Clones

      The contentious whistle-blowing site WikiLeaks has ruffled so many feathers that it’s been shut down not just in the countries we think of as repressive, but in those we like to think are open. Because of that, mirror sites have proliferated. But accompanying the mirrors are clones. Clone sites reproduce access to some or all of the material available on the home site or serve a similar function as WikiLeaks but independently of that group. All of them add value by focusing on a specific concern or geography.

    • ‘Jewish WikiLeaks’ goes live in Jerusalem

      “A breakthrough in journalism research,” the director of the National Library of Israel, Oren Weinberg, called the institution’s project to scan and upload to the Internet hundreds of thousands of pages from Jewish newspapers from the 19th century to the present.

      Historical Jewish Press, whose official launch was on Monday, is a joint initiative of the national library and Tel Aviv University “that will give researchers, teachers, students and the general public rapid, easy and unprecedented access to periodicals,” Weinberg said.

    • FDL Manning-WikiLeaks Key Articles Table

      The task was made all the more challenging by the fact that most of those conflicting stories were being told by one person, the principle source for almost all media stories regarding Bradley Manning: the recently institutionalized hacker Adrian Lamo, who turned his alleged chat logs with Manning over to authorities.

    • The WikiLeaks News & Views Blog for Tuesday, Day 31

      El Pais only news outlet still publishing daily WikiLeaks stories based on cables. Question remains for others: Why?

    • How Many Documents Has WikiLeaks Published?

      In recent weeks, NPR hosts, reporters and guests have incorrectly said or implied that WikiLeaks recently has disclosed or released roughly 250,000 U.S. diplomatic cables. Although the website has vowed to publish “251,287 leaked United States embassy cables,” as of Dec. 28, 2010, only 1,942 of the cables had been released.

    • Wikileaks-Lamo-Manning Transcription Roundup: What We Still Need

      The response has been absolutely amazing to the call we put out last night for transcription help. So far we have:

      * CBC Radio Interview, transcribed by SteveNS AND nedits
      * Glenn Greenwald Interviews Lamo Pt. 1, transcribed by bmull
      * Glenn Greenwald Interviews Lamo Pt. 2, transcribed by calamar
      * Adrian Lamo at The Next HOPE Informants panel, Pt. 1 of 5, transcribed by LC
      * John Draper interviews Lamo at The Next Hope, pt. 1 of 4, transcribed by nedits and KF
      * John Draper interviews Lamo at The Next Hope, pt. 1 of 4, transcribed by Michele in PDX
      * LocalFrequencies Extended audio, transcribed by Duncan

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Japan to drill for controversial ‘fire ice’

      Japan seeks to improve energy security by drilling for frozen methane but environmentalists fear a leak of the greenhouse gas, which is 21 times as damaging as carbon dioxide

    • Why biodiversity loss and climate change are equal threats

      Since the Rio Earth Summit in 1992, the media and many organisations have pursued as separate narratives the issues of climate, biodiversity and sustainable development. One of the changes this year, at a UN level, has been recognition that this does not make sense.

      Without protecting and enhancing biodiversity in forests and other systems we are losing our biggest ally. These living systems can lock away carbon at a fraction of the price that technical solutions for carbon storage could only do at huge cost and by expending even more energy.

    • Climate change leaves Assam tea growers in hot water

      Climate change is affecting the cultivation of Assam tea, with rising temperatures reducing yields and altering the distinctive flavour of India’s most popular drink, researchers say.

      High hills and abundant rainfall make the north-eastern state of Assam an ideal place to grow tea, with 850 gardens over 320,000 hectares (593,000 acres) producing the majority of the country’s harvest. But in the last 60 years, rainfall has fallen by more than a fifth and minimum temperature has risen by a degree to 19.5C.

    • Weatherwatch: Global warming is evident in Scotland

      As Scotland has endured its second extreme cold weather event of the winter it is hard to accept that overall the climate is warming. But the evidence is that despite human doubts, the natural world north of the border is responding to an increase in average temperatures.

      Flying insects, particularly noticeable ones like butterflies, are the first to take advantage of more favourable conditions and colonise new areas. Perhaps the most dramatic expansion is that of the orange tip. Thirty years ago it would have been rare to see one in Scotland but now the species is common as far north as Easter Ross and Sutherland. Only Caithness, Orkney and Shetland have yet to report sightings.

    • The Tiger Summit and the “Tiger State”

      With as few as 3200 tigers in the wilds of the world as many as thirteen tiger-range countries met in November 2010 in Tiger Summit in St. Petersburg in an effort to save the species. They committed around $300 million during the next five years towards doubling the current world population of the species by 2022. Hosted by Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, governments concerned capped a year-long political process with new funding to support the plan, known as the Global Tiger Recovery Programme

    • Today’s war on climate scientists is worse than under the Bush Administration

      “The war on climate science and scientists that’s going on now makes the Bush Administration look moderate,” we said to Science for their December 17 news article “Climatologists Feel the Heat As Science Meets Politics.” Bush can’t be rehabilitated on climate change, but during the past two years the global warming denial machine has launched a nihilistic war on climate science and climate scientists that makes Bush officials seem tactically subtle and rhetorically nuanced in comparison.

    • Overstretched Jakarta’s future as Indonesia’s capital is in doubt
  • Finance

    • Regulators exist to ‘serve the banks,’ next House finance chairman declares

      Alabama Republican Spencer Bachus, the incoming chairman of the House banking committee, suggested Congress and federal regulators should play a subservient role with banks.

      “In Washington, the view is that the banks are to be regulated, and my view is that Washington and the regulators are there to serve the banks,” Bachus told The Birmingham News in an interview.

    • Shouldn’t We Fix The Check Clearing Loophole That So Many Scammers Abuse?

      Slashdot points us to a recent story about a guy who lost his lawsuit against a bank, over a variation on a classic Nigerian email scam. The scam is one we’ve discussed many times in the past: somehow the victim gets a big check, which they’re expected to deposit in a bank. After the check “clears,” the victim/recipient is supposed to transfer a large chunk of that money to the scammer, on the belief that they get to keep whatever is left over. What really happens is a few days after the check “clears,” the bank finds out it’s fraudulent, and tries to void the transaction. But, by then, the victim has already transferred out a big chunk of money (and the scammer has already taken all that cash out of the bank and disappeared) — leaving the victim footing the bill, with the bank expecting them to come up with the missing cash.

    • Economic growth expected to slow in 2011

      Canada’s economy faces subdued growth in the new year as an initial strong rebound from the recession shifts into a more sluggish expansion, a prominent business group says.

      In its outlook for 2011, the Canadian Chamber of Commerce said “more prudent spending” by Canadians is a factor in the country’s slowing economic growth. Gross domestic product expanded by 2.3 per cent in the second quarter of 2010 and only one per cent in the third quarter.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • RapidShare Shows MPAA/RIAA: We Can Lobby Lawmakers Too

      Last month RapidShare discovered that they had been reported by the MPAA and RIAA to the US Government for being one of the world’s “most notorious pirate markets”. Now, on the heels of reports that the entertainment industries spent a small fortune lobbying for domain seizures in the last quarter, RapidShare has hired a Washington based lobbying firm to represent its interests in the US and to start correcting misconceptions.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Why the Internet Is a Great Tool for Totalitarians

      The last time American leaders were this ecstatic about the power of information was at the end of the Cold War, when illicit fax machines and photocopiers and the work of broadcasters like Radio Free Europe were presumed to have been a leading cause of the collapse of the Soviet Union. (In 1990, Albert Wohlstetter—the ur-technocrat who was one of the inspirations for Dr. Strangelove—told an audience of perplexed eastern Europeans that “the fax shall make you free.”) Today, most historians reject such views as reductionist, but they are still extremely popular among US politicians (probably because celebrating smuggled technology allows them to celebrate the politicians who made the smuggling possible—particularly Ronald Reagan). Such Cold War thinking showed in Clinton’s speech: “Virtual walls,” she said, are “cropping up in place of visible walls,” and viral videos and blogging are “becoming the samizdat of our day.”

      But not all blogs are revolutionary. China, Iran, and Russia all have bloggers who are more authoritarian in their views than their governments are.

    • Online anonymity will come as standard on a Tor router

      If you want to remain anonymous on the Web, then Tor is a very good solution. Our identity is governed by the IP we use, which your ISP knows, and which can be shared with the authorities if requested.

      To get around that identification and tracking problem, Tor offers a solution by routing your requests through multiple servers. All your ISP, or anyone else looking will see is a repeated request to a non-descript Tor server rather than the actual destination you are heading to.

    • Report: Spanish Minister Vows to Pass Site Blocking Anyway

      A few days ago, we reported on the defeat of web censorship in Spain where ISPs would be mandated to block websites if the government ordered them to block them over copyright infringement. The law was brought forth due to US industry threats, lobbying and pressure. Now, news is surfacing that the defeat won’t be enough to deter site blocking in Spain.

      There was no shortage of Spanish celebration when site blocking was defeated. Spanish copyright observers noted the celebrations on Spanish sites that a law the Spanish people fought so hard to defeat was finally shot down. For many Spanish, the Sinde Bill represented one of the very symbols of foreign industry intervention on the domestic marketplace and the very country itself. It’s no surprise many in Spain were happy to see foreign interference defeated by a vote.

    • The first truly honest privacy policy

      It’s been a hell of a year for consumer privacy, or the lack thereof. From Facebook leaking personally identifiable information to advertisers, to data brokers harvesting reams of user information on social nets, to Google’s Wi-Fi slurping, 2010 may be remembered as the year the privacy chickens came home to roost — and quickly got roasted.

    • 2010 Trend Watch Update: Three Strikes: Truth and Consequences

      As we also expected, IP rightsholders and global policy-makers have realized that Three Strikes automatic disconnection laws and policies are a short-term measure, and are now focusing their efforts on Internet intermediary obligations to block webpages.

    • Anonymity
    • Video: Scrap the law on Sedition
  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Beware Counterfeit Goods

      There is an assumption that consumers are unsuspecting in what they’re buying, that somehow they don’t know that a video game bought for £5 from a flea market on a domestically burned DVD with the name scribbled in marker pen and maybe a cheap inkjet photocopy of the cover badly sliced to fit is not in fact the real deal. They know it’s a copy. They see the difference in being able to play a DRM free version of a video game for £5 is a vast difference from buying a DRM infested version of the same thing for £40+. This is not what I’d call “counterfeit” as it’s obvious to both buyer and seller that it’s not legit. Counterfeit is about passing something off as legit when it’s not.

    • How ‘Piracy’ Helped Establish The Dominance Of Nigerian Films

      Earlier this year, we wrote about Kevin Kelly’s fascinating look at the movie industries of India, Nigeria and China, which represent the three largest film industries in the world. Yes, all three are larger than the US. And all three are places known for extremely widespread “piracy.” Given that Hollywood insists that “piracy” kills the movie industry, it certainly seemed worth noting that these three countries had hugely thriving movie industries despite (or perhaps because of) widespread infringement.

    • Copyrights

      • NBC Universal & MPAA Get NYC To Run Propaganda ‘Anti-Piracy’ Ad Campaign

        Reading through the details of the “ad campaign,” we’re not surprised to see the driving force behind it is our old friend, Rick Cotton, the General Counsel at NBC Universal, who often seems to have no shame in saying stuff that makes absolutely no sense concerning movie piracy. Cotton, most famously, is the guy who once made a filing with the FCC where he tried to claim that movie piracy was killing the American corn farmer. This ignored two rather important points: (1) people who watch unauthorized copies of movies can also eat popcorn and (2) corn — one of the most subsidized crops in the US — continues to grow as a market. Oh yeah, speaking of growing markets, have we mentioned how the movie industry keeps breaking records at the box office, despite all of this file sharing.

      • Once Again, More State Dept. Cables Show Swedish Copyright Enforcement At The Behest Of US

        There’s absolutely nothing surprising at all about the following, but Christian Engstrom (one of the two European Parliament Members from The Pirate Party*) highlights yet another leaked State Department cable that shows that many of the copyright enforcement efforts of the Swedish government were in response to a six point checklist given to the Swedish government by the US Embassy (English translation from the original Swedish — though at the end of the Swedish post the original cable is available in English). The six point check list passed on by the embassy was almost certainly originally from US industry lobbyists. There’s nothing in this that is even remotely surprising (and hints of this had already leaked previously).

      • “Copyright expired, everybody free. 2011 will be the year of Gatsby and Margarita”

        A comprehensive article published last week on Il Venerdì, a weekly magazine of the Italian daily la Repubblica, is focused on various international authors whose works are now entering the public domain and the upcoming publications of many new translations (in Italian). Under the title “Copyright expired, everybody free. 2011 will be the year of Gatsby and Margarita” (full pdf here), Brunella Schisa explains that right after the 1st January 2011 deadline — also known as Public Domain Day — several Italian publishers will launch new translations of such masterpieces as “The Master and Margarita” by Mikhail Bulgakov and Francis Scott Fitzgerald’s best novels (“The Great Gatsby”, “Tender Is the Night”).

      • Permission Culture And The Automated Diminishment Of Fair Use

        SinkDeep alerts us to the news that a bunch of DJs are upset after discovering that SoundCloud took down a bunch of the mixes they had hosted on the service. If you’re not familiar with SoundCloud, in the last few years, it has become one of the most popular tools for musicians and DJs to host their music. It offers a really nice toolset for anyone looking to promote their music online (and for others to build apps on top of it). SoundCloud has also been a pretty big supporter of open culture, supporting things like Creative Commons along the way.

        I contacted SoundCloud to find out what was going on, and the response was pretty much as I expected. Due to the nature of the copyright world we live in today, the company recently implemented a fingerprinting-type technology, similar to those used by YouTube (ContentID) and MySpace (Audible Magic), which lets copyright holders designate their own works, and which SoundCloud then automatically blocks. While the original link above “blames” SoundCloud for becoming a “walled garden,” that’s not really fair nor accurate. The real problem is the nature of our copyright laws today, that assume infringement over fair use. As we’ve discussed before, copyright law is effectively broken when it sets up fair use as a defense, rather than a proactive right. Fair use should be seen as the default until proven otherwise, if fair use is really (as is claimed) designed to be a pressure valve on copyright law to allow free speech.

      • Copyrights vs Human Rights

        What crime do you have to commit where you live to be forbidden use of electricity (not just disconnected)? To be forbidden use of a phone? To be forbidden to walk on the streets? To have your family punished along with you? Yes, the lack of due process in these bad laws promoted covertly by USTR is an enormous worry, but much more of a concern is its calculation that the infringement of a copyright justifies the removal of the main conduit of social engagement from a citizen. Removal of basic rights is a matter of criminal not civil law so moves to make “internet bans” easy are an unacceptable expansion into criminal law for something that was never even meant to affect ordinary citizens in civil law.

        This is not a matter for a “voluntary code of conduct” either. As use of the Internet becomes more complex and more fundamental, it’s becoming clear that groups like the Internet Watch Foundation – a group set up by ISPs so they wouldn’t be regulated over every politician’s excuse for bad legislation, “protecting children” – is harmful to us all, cracking small nuts with pile drivers and lacking transparency and accountability. Development of a voluntary code of conduct so citizens rights can be repeatably infringed in support of media business models is as unacceptable as a hard law because it still agrees that citizen access to the internet is worth less than media business models. On the contrary, if we need new laws at all, they should be to prevent businesses from terminating service without a court order.

      • Cables: US driving Swedish Data Retention

        Taking a closer look at the Stockholm 09-141 cable, we find that the United States was the driving force behind the IPRED legislation, that it was the driving force behind threats to Swedish ISPs in 2008, and that it is currently the driving force behind the so-called “step two of the data retention”, which was presented by the Justice Minister last Thursday. This legislation will give police at-will access to all and any collected records under Data Retention in the proposed Police Methods Report (polismetodutredningen, PMU). Ordinarily, prison sentences of more than two years would have been required to collect IP addresses, but the PMU changes this before the Data Retention is even in place.

        [...]

        The United States Government is driving the creation of a Big Brother state in Sweden, including draconian data retention measures, in order to have it combat simple and everyday petty copyright infringements on behalf of American interests.

      • ACTA

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