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01.01.11

.NET and Windows Presentation Foundation Abandoned by Evernote, “Multi-platform” Means Microsoft-Only

Posted in Microsoft, Novell, Patents at 5:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Keep it clean

Summary: Rejection of Microsoft development software and criticism of its operation even within the limited environment which it’s available on

Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza is still managing Microsoft projects at AttachMSFT/Novell, notably Mono and Moonlight (which empowers the dying Silverlight). What is the point of it? This only spreads Microsoft’s APIs, which are of course encumbered by patents. De Icaza would like us to believe that these APIs are inevitably going to win, despite lack of any evidence (the contrary is easily proven) and based on this good news from Evernote, they are dumping .NET (lots of code down the drain) and rewriting it all in C++. They got intoxicated by the Microsoft Kool-Aid and a development site summarises it thusly:

Evernote’s popular note-taking technology has recently moved to release version 4.0 with some major structural changes in terms of the technology’s previous adherence to Microsoft .NET and the Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF), versus native code.

The company says that Evernote 4 is a major departure from Evernote 3.5 in every way, but that there were some problems that it simply couldn’t fix while using Windows .NET and WPF.

[...]

Evernote says that it decided to start over from scratch and use speedier native C++ code that it felt it could rely on.

Microsoft is a marketing (and litigation) company, so its frameworks are rejected by a lot of people, for reasons ranging from portability to stability and performance. Here is an example of new Microsoft gimmicks which nobody actually needs. It’s an example of marketing at the expense of pragmatism:

The Sound of Code was created using many Microsoft products, including Silverlight 4, Expression Encoder 3 SDK, .NET Framework and Azure, Microsoft’s cloud computing platform.

They make it sound like a whole universe full of diversity, but .NET only really works in Windows while words like “multi-platform” are being misused. Watch what Microsoft calls “multi-platform” these days:

She said the company’s digital formats, which now include Xbox 360 formats, in-game advertising, Windows Phone 7, search engine Bing and performance advertising through the Microsoft Media Network, were now so diverse it was difficult for marketers to understand how they could be used to create impact.

Even compatibility within Windows is a challenge and “C# legacy” is a subject which was recently covered by this article which names the the Gartner Group:

The C# legacy is already part of something that Gartner coined the “IT debt” in a recent report. While the U.S. national debt approaches $14 trillion, the IT debt is estimated by Gartner to be $500 billion, with the potential to grow to $1 trillion by 2015.

Why would anybody want C#? It is just a Java ripoff and it is controlled by a company that is a bully. Evernote’s own tough lesson speaks volumes on its own right. Exactly one year from now (first day of 2012) AttachMSFT/Novell will have run out of Microsoft ‘protection’.

“There is a substantive effort in open source to bring such an implementation of .Net to market, known as Mono and being driven by Novell, and one of the attributes of the agreement we made with Novell is that the intellectual property associated with that is available to Novell customers.”

Bob Muglia, Microsoft President

About 29,500,000 Microsoft Blogs Will Die, 500,000 of Them Moved to GNU/Linux

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Servers, Windows at 4:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sheep on the hill

Summary: What appears to be splogs from Microsoft’s retired service gradually approach the cliff, whereas half a million blogs of Windows Live move from Windows and proprietary software to WordPress on GNU/Linux

EARLIER this year we wrote about users of Windows Live Spaces being transferred to Free/libre software and GNU/Linux in another company [1, 2, 3]. Microsoft does not like facts, so it bragged about having 30 million blogs in there. Well, Wilcox alleged that the vast majority of blogs were spam (or splogs) and he was right. “WordPress.com Gains 500,000 Users From Microsoft Windows Live Spaces”, says this report:

Microsoft has partnered with Automattic for the migration of the approximately 1 million Spaces users into WordPress.com. As of end November, Microsoft and Automattic report that about 500,000 Spaces users have been moved to WordPress.com.

Expect more Microsoft services to be cancelled, such as the example from our previous post. Sometimes there is not even a migration/escape route, which makes being a Microsoft customer very risky nowadays.

Flagship Microsoft Project Killed Before Launch

Posted in Microsoft at 4:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Harvested corn field

Summary: Sources say that a project which 110 Microsoft employees worked on has been killed before materialisation

FURTHER on the subject of dead Microsoft products (see the previous post), not so long ago it was reported that a “flagship project in cloud computing” had been shut down internally — inside Microsoft that is. 110 people were involved in this project and it died. What a waste of time and resources. From the article:

Sources inform ”Globes” that 110 employees working on telecommunications at Microsoft Israel Ltd. were notified in the past couple of days that that their flagship project in cloud computing is being shut down. The project was in the incubation (pre-product) stage. Microsoft Israel confirmed the report.

What exactly was this project all about? Considering the departure of Fog Computing [sic] leadership at the company, what does it say about Microsoft’s future in the so-called ‘cloud’?

Another Product From Microsoft Allegedly Dies: Pivot

Posted in Microsoft at 4:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Spinning wheel

Summary: Pivot is said to be dead or on its death throes while Massive officially dies this week

MICROSOFT has had around 60 products/divisions/teams die in recent years. It’s a real apocalypse, but one has to step back and take an overview to recall everything which was cancelled and then faded out of memory. Microsoft hardly has new products anymore. Killing Windows Mobile and then (re)naming something new “Windows Phone 7″ won’t really qualify as a new product as it’s more of a substitute.

Anyway, today we wanted to update our decent record of dead Microsoft products by adding to it Microsoft Pivot, which is said to be dead:

Over at the “Internet Evolution” blog, Rob Salkowitz talks about that fun little piece of Microsoft Technology ‘Pivot’ that first appeared around a year ago. It’s a neat interactive way to view data that shows a lot of promise, but hasn’t really materialized in any large way. He wonders why, and breaks it down to the fate of Microsoft’s LiveLabs division.

LiveLabs was insulated from Office groupthink and politics, but also from the unit’s enormous clout as Microsoft’s cash-cow. Consequently, LiveLabs proved a real-life demonstration of the cartoon where the mad scientist comes out of his lab and says, “Eureka! The experiment is a success! Unfortunately, the subject died.”

Further semi-confirmation can be found here although Microsoft usually finds tricks to ‘merge’ products and pretend they never died (we wrote about this spin pattern approximately a week ago and gave some examples):

I was recently pointed to this Microsoft Silverlight keynote, featuring a demonstration of its Pivot data visualization technology (around 1:19). I do a lot of work with Microsoft, but I have next-to-nothing to do with Silverlight; I could barely tell you what it does. However, I’ve done lots of work on “future of information work” planning and strategy, particularly around the vexing issue of information overload and data visualization. Pivot represents the most interesting innovation I’ve seen along these lines, from Microsoft or anyone else for that matter.

Pivot, which was positioned as a reinvention of the Web browser when it debuted in 2009, is now PivotViewer, a Silverlight app that enables end users to instantly build custom visualizations of dynamic datasets. By organizing the data visually, it lets you discover relationships at a glance that would ordinarily take hours of number-crunching. You can also slice, dice, zoom, and scatter the data, even as it’s updating from a remote Website or server.

The demise of Silverlight contributed greatly to this. There was subsequently damage control and more Silverlight abandonment even by Microsoft, with high likelihood that Netflix is next to abandon Silverlight.

Another failure we did not cover quite so well at the time is the implosion of Massive, which is more than just a product. There are still some uncovered articles about it, e.g. “Microsoft to retire Massive in-game ads brand by year end” (that would be now), “Microsoft shutting down Massive”, and “Microsoft Confirms Massive Closure” (here too). That’s not quite it. The next few posts will cover some more Microsoft products that die quietly.

Another Microsoft Vice President Decided to Quit, Some Ex-Microsoft Staff Lands in Strategic Places

Posted in Microsoft at 3:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Going for gold

Summary: Randy Wootton is quitting Microsoft and the flood of Microsoft escapees potentially puts the company’s interests in other places like the Olympic Committee

FURTHER to the previous post which mentioned major departures, one departure which ought to be put on the record is that of Randy Wootton, the Vice President of global search and online marketplace. As we’ll show in a later post, Microsoft’s performance is abysmal in this area and this news is just more of the same from this division:

Microsoft vp of global search and online marketplace Randy Wootton is leaving the company.

Incidentally, “[a]mid Microsoft buyout rumors, Linden Lab founder leaves CEO post”, claims this other new article.

Fool.com, a pro-Microsoft Web site, asked in its headline back in October, “As Executives Flee, Is Microsoft Falling Apart?”

To quote one part of it:

Ozzie’s departure gives CEO Steve Ballmer an excuse to grab more power for himself: The role of chief software architect will not be backfilled when Ozzie leaves. Bill Gates is still chairman of Microsoft’s board but seems content to let Ballmer cut and deal the executive deck as he pleases. I’m not sure that’s a good idea, given Ballmer’s insistence on running Microsoft as an e-business that he doesn’t appear to understand — for evidence of this, look at the failed takeover of Yahoo!, the just-adequate Bing search project, the fall of his pet Internet browser, repeated failures to make a dent in the digital music market, and more.

Since many parts of Microsoft simply fail to function and thus continue to rely on cash cows for a lifeline, John Dvorak and others like financial analysts spoke about breaking up Microsoft and amid such a provocative debate — entertained even by Microsoft boosters — more and more articles pop up questioning Microsoft’s future (that will be the subject of later posts).

“Bach, an insider trader who was a Microsoft President until recently, does not quite retire either.”It is evident that some of Microsoft’s more important talent has already left, but it does not mean that the company cannot receive help from the outside, owing to those very same people. The former Microsoft India MD is helping to create a company which may help Microsoft as a partner in due course. To quote the only report we found about him (published in more than one news site), “Gurgaon-based managed IT services startup eTechies, from the stables of LemonLearn eServices, has received an undisclosed investment from Rajan Anandan, who was most recently Managing Director of Microsoft India. eTechies was set up in September to offer managed services to SMEs and consumers. Anandan, who quit Microsoft India in August (and headed Dell’s operations in India before that), picked up a minority stake in eTechies on November 3, 2010, according to the founder, Rohit Chaudhary. Chaudhary quit as COO of the Technical Solutions Group at business and knowledge processing services firm Quatrro BPO Solutions in December, 2009.”

Bach, an insider trader who was a Microsoft President until recently, does not quite retire either. He enters the Olympic Committee, as we feared one year ago:

The U.S. Olympic Committee added five new members to its board of directors Thursday, including former Microsoft executive Robbie Bach, as part of the restructuring of a leadership group that had been widely criticized the past few years.

[...]

Bach, who spent 22 years with Microsoft, is also heavily involved with the Boys and Girls Clubs of America.

Someone else left Microsoft a while ago only to regroup with colleagues at AdReady:

He joins a list of former aQuantive employees — including CEO Karl Siebrecht — who believe that AdReady is on to something big in the display advertising market.

Another person may have left a key position based on this need to fill it. Other departures may be the explanation for filling of another position, namely this [1, 2, 3]:

JWT announced this week that it’s brought on Megan Kent to serve as president of the Microsoft business at the agency.

Techrights has not been tracking Microsoft properly for about 2.5 months. In the coming week we’ll do a concise roundup, as promised.

Microsoft Australia Managing Director Decided to Move

Posted in Australia, Microsoft at 3:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Australian flag

Summary: Shakiness in the ranks of Microsoft Australia as the top person (MD) leaves

IT has been a while since we last covered Microsoft’s most major departures, which continue to be revealed at a steady and alarming pace. One recent one is the migration of the head of Microsoft Australia, who goes to Singapore (the Head of Microsoft Singapore quit two years ago):

Microsoft Australia’s managing director Tracey Fellows will shift to a regional role in Singapore later this month.

Fellows would take on the role of area vice president for Asia Pacific, overseeing sales, services and marketing for 12 countries in the region, according to a statement issued this morning.

Microsoft’s damage control (with mild spin) can be found here. Tracey Fellows is just one among many people at her level who escape or fill in vacuums in the company as it gradually slides into obscurity, just like SCO or SUN.

Links 1/1/2011: Google’s Use of Linux Against Windows, Indie Games’ Use of GNU/Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 2:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Linux Audio Blog #8

      The topics for this edition include a discussion of various open source BIOSes (also known as kernals) for personal computers and my experiences with CoreBoot and SeaBIOS. We also talk about using FreeDOS and running old MSDOS programs in the modern era. Duration is a bit over 16 minutes, 38 megs in size.

  • Google

    • Google Sees Life in the Cloud w/o Windows

      But perhaps most troubling to Microsoft, they now must compete with the economics of free, as Google is offering its Open Source Chrome operating system (O/S) free to hardware manufacturers—taking dead aim at the core business model that sustains rival Microsoft.

      That’s give-away O/S, give-away browser, give-away video player technology all from Google. This can power literally hundreds of next generation devices, from netbooks to iPad tablet /EBR wannabe’s ready to hit the market.

    • Chrome OS: A Shot At Microsoft’s Bow

      Google’s Cr-48 notebook with Chrome OS is an incredibly sophisticated strategy to build traction and reputation for an operating system that is far from being ready and far from being able to replace any major operating system on the market today. But the implication and the goal is clear: The target is to become the future Windows in breadth and reach. There has never been a greater threat for Microsoft’s core business than today.

  • Applications

    • DockBarX 0.42 comes with a new feature codenamed “ScrollPeak”

      DockBarX 0.42 is released, this version comes with some improvements and a new feature codenamed “ScrollPeak” : ” With ScrollPeak instead of rising windows while scrolling, the windows will simply be opacified one by one until you found the one you are looking for and when you move the mouse cursor away from the group button it will be raised. Nothing revolutionary but it should improve the work flow for some of you.”

    • Choosing Computer Tools for Tiny Geeks
    • Proprietary

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Open Source and Games

        Motivations for Open Sourcing

        Why do people Open Source code in general? Looking at a lot of Open Source code I came in contact with I can probably assign each piece of code into one of four categories:

        Working with Others

        If you want to work together with other people, Open Sourcing code is a great idea. If you want to connect different systems it makes a lot of sense to make the communication interface open source so that everybody can work on that. I think the buzzword for that is probably “interoperability”.

        Community Maintenance

        If a company went out of business or is no longer maintaining a particular piece of software, projects are often opened for everybody.

        Marketing

        Some people open source code for marketing reasons. These releases come often with ridiculous strings attached to the license or are missing essential bits. At the very least, these projects are not noticed as Open Source projects, even if they are technically Open Source.

        Because it makes sense

        Certain things only make sense to be distributed as open source. Either because people expect it to be open source (like libraries for Python or other dynamic programming languages) or because there is just no reason to keep it closed. My stuff falls under this category for instance. None of the Pocoo projects would work in any way if they would not be Open Source.

      • Why Indie Games Need GNU+Linux

        Indie games are not very popular, on any platform. They are independent of the big game companies like EA, id Software, Infinity Ward, and Crytek. Thus they also lack the kind of funding these companies have. Windows users started taking games for granted a long time ago. With Windows being the dominant operating system, Windows users know that high quality commercial games have to have Windows versions, so when an indie game comes out, with an average price of $20, they seem too expensive to most people using Windows. As evidence, the average price Windows users are paying for the recent “Humble Indie Bundle #2″ is $6.63.

      • Dilogus fantasy RPG comes to life with Unigine engine

        Unigine Corp. announces that Digital Arrow Studio has started working on “Dilogus – The Winds of War” fantasy RPG based on Unigine engine.

        Do you enjoy Unigine Heaven benchmark? Have you ever imagined a game with the same setting powered by its stunning to the eye technology? Your dreams come true: now there is a RPG based on the Unigine engine featuring floating islands and mystical caves in a fantasy setting.

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • KMail adventure

        After I moved to Linux, I favored Thunderbird as my email client because I found it easy to configure. Of course, I knew that KDE includes a client called KMail, but its appearance was not attractive enough for me. However, I decided to give it a try now that I have some spare time…those brief moments in which my four-month old daughter is asleep and I can go play with the computer.

        The question was if I could configure KMail on my own and get it to work properly. Given the fact that I am not an expert, the issue is significant because if I can handle it, that means that KMail is user friendly.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Near the 50 Day

        Shares of Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) closed the trading day at $46.25 close to its 50 day moving average currently set at $44.32. Red Hat’s price action is just above this important support level translating into a trading opportunity.

      • Fedora

        • gbuild: Meet the new boss (Same as the old boss)

          Checking that nothing (or almost nothing) needs to be rebuild is faster. On a sample system (Notebook with Core2Duo, 2 GHz) on Windows XP (anti virus software installed), rechecking that nothing needs to be done for module sw takes 7 sec with a warm cache. On the same machine build.pl/dmake took 210 sec with the same “full” header dependencies.

    • Debian Family

      • Linux Mint Debian Edition now available in 64-bit, with performance boost

        The Linux Mint Debian Edition — built from Debian Testing, unlike “regular” Mint editions that start with an Ubuntu base — just released a new image that pushes the project forward much more quickly that I expected.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Share the Knowledge with Freedom: Partimus

          Partimus is a California Ubuntu LoCo Team and 501c(3) non-profit which has successfully deployed Linux on the desktop in 6 Bay-Area schools.

        • Jack Valenti on Ubuntu

          In a post yesterday, we mentioned Jack Valenti, the late but not lamented ex-boss of Hollywood’s MPAA (centre).

          With him (on both counts) is/are Dan ‘The Joker’ Glickman, the failed and now departed but still alive ex-MPAA boss.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Linux-based NAS supports 45TB of storage

      Synology announced a high-end model in its line of NAS (network attached storage) devices targeting small- and medium-sized business. The DS1511+ has a 1.86GHz dual-core processor, room for up to five hard disk drives and 15TB of storage, two gigabit Ethernet ports, and compatibility with two external storage units, according to the company.

    • Review: Giada Slim N20
    • HP’s webOS-based PalmPad may play spoil sport for Microsoft

      FoxNews reported that HP will release three versions of PalmPad that will run on webOS juice, version 2.5.1. It further reported that the fourth tablet primarily crafted for university students will not be showcased at the CES event.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • My 5 Essential Android Applications
        • Android Watchers See Thunderbolts on Verizon’s Horizon

          Verizon’s first LTE phone, an Android smarpthone called “Thunderbolt,” will reportedly make its first official public appearance at CES next week. Meanwhile, Thunderbolt specs and images are making their way around the Web. The phone will allegedly have a 4.3-inch touchscreeen with a resolution of 1,280 by 800.

        • The irony of Microsoft being Android’s safeword

          It’s nice when a post with such a grandiose title like “The Unbearable Inevitability of Being Android, 1995″ actually delivers. It takes a look at the number of “Android will crush everyone in 2011” articles and ponders what that actually means. Not directly for the industry as a whole, but what it means for Google as a business, and the hardware partners who have tied themselves to the Mountain View company?

        • Google Aims Twin Daggers at Microsoft’s Heart: Rich Jaroslovsky

          Of the two new offerings, the Nexus S is the one most visible to consumers. The phone went on sale in the U.S. yesterday at Best Buy Co. stores and online for $199 on a two- year contract from Deutsche Telekom AG’s T-Mobile USA, and for $529 with no contract.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Education

    • Potsdam schools eye switch from Microsoft to save money

      James M. Cruikshank, a middle school principal and member of the Potsdam Central School District’s technology committee, said the switch would alleviate the rising cost of licensing fees associated with Microsoft’s suite, which includes Word, Excel and PowerPoint. The free alternative, OpenOffice, has similar components and can open Microsoft documents.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Project Releases

    • Pligg 1.1.3 updates open source digg clone for Karma

      The open source Pligg project has been around now for five years and is celebrating with a new release.

      The Pligg 1.1.3 release provides security and bug fixes as well as a new Karma-based voting method to complement the existing digg and reddit styles of voting.

  • Programming

    • Application Development: Java, C, C++: Top Programming Languages for 2011
    • The Top 7 Java Stories of 2010

      eWEEK takes a look at seven of the biggest stories to impact or raise the interest of the Java community in 2010 – starting with Oracle acquiring Sun.

    • Java Lives

      Many users see Java as stuck in a quagmire. But there’s hope. The innovation needed to keep Java relevant will come from the broader Java ecosystem, and not from Oracle or the Java Community Process. However, frameworks and APIs can only provide so much innovation. The community is starting to turn to new programming language paradigms.

Leftovers

  • Twins’ Facebook Fight Rages On

    The Winklevosses — identical twins and Harvard graduates — say that they, along with another Harvard student, Divya Narendra, had the original idea for Facebook, and that Mark Zuckerberg stole it. They sued Facebook and Mr. Zuckerberg in 2004, and settled four years later for $20 million in cash and $45 million in Facebook shares.

    They have been trying to undo that settlement since, saying they were misled on the value of the deal. But it has not been an easy decision.

  • A Game of Clue: What Killed Skype

    I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: People should be forced to upgrade their systems if they’re going to be on the Internet. One way to do that is to make sure applications, like Skype, which depend on the Internet, can be automatically updated. Yes, that can be a headache for system administrators, but then so is having out-of-date software on the loose that contributed to taking down an important service.

  • IT Acquisitions 2010: Who Bought What?
  • 10 Most Popular Linux.com Stories in 2010
  • When Will That Other OS be FREE?

    No amount of advertising, FUD, bribery or corruption will keep the Wintel monopoly strong after 2012. M$, Intel and their “partners” will have to earn a living the old-fashioned way, by working for a living.

  • Marvell CEO Says ARM Chips are “Here to Stay,” With or Without Microsoft Windows

    The CEO of Santa Clara, CA-based semiconductor maker Marvell, Sehat Sutardja, has downplayed the significance of rumors circulating this week that Microsoft plans to unveil a version of Windows that runs on low-power ARM chips like those made by Marvell, Qualcomm, Samsung, and many other companies.

  • Science

    • ‘Eternal’ solar plane’s records are confirmed

      The UK-built solar-powered Zephyr aeroplane has been confirmed as a record-breaker following its non-stop two-week flight earlier this year.

      The world governing body for air sports records, the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI), gave Zephyr three records including longest time aloft.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Worst Kind of Ham Sandwich

      Over the last decade, the federal government has been targeting doctors who treat pain patients with prescription drugs like Percocet and Oxycontin. Advocates like Reynolds argue that doctors who overprescribe painkillers should be disciplined by medical boards if they are sloppy or unscrupulous, not judges and prosecutors. Dumping them into the criminal justice system puts drug cops in the position of determining what is and isn’t acceptable medical treatment. One promising treatment of chronic pain known as high-dose opiate therapy, for example has all but disappeared because doctors are too terrified of running afoul of the law to try it.

  • Security

    • Elgan: How spammers will poison your social graph

      Well, it wasn’t. And it won’t be, at least not anytime soon. The reason is that unscrupulous, shameless marketers who pursue a spam strategy evolve and adapt like a virus. As soon as you build a better spam filter, they figure out how to get around it.

      As a result, e-mail long ago became a bad neighborhood. And now an increasing number of people, especially young people, avoid e-mail altogether.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

  • Cablegate

    • Jaron Lanier’s Virtual Reality: Secrecy Is Good Because Secrecy Is Necessary

      If I had several hours to spare, I might try to go through it addressing his various arguments, from those which amount to unsubstantiated assertions about “the ideology that drives a lot of the online world,” to ad-hominem sniping (for example, “we didn’t necessarily get to know where Mr. Assange was at a given moment” — maybe because he is doing things a lot of governments and organisations don’t like and so discretion is the better part of valour), to outright misapprehension (“Wikileaks isn’t really a “wiki,” but it is designed to look and feel like the Wikipedia” — er, well, no actually, it doesn’t look like it in the slightest), and to various straw men: “What if we come to be able to read each other’s thoughts? Then there would be no thoughts. Your head has to be different from mine if you are to be a person with something to say to me.” As far as I am aware, nobody is calling for mandatory telepathy.

    • UN defends human right to WikiLeaked info

      The United Nations has responded to the ongoing WikiLeaks kerfuffle, urging member states to – ahem – remember the basic human right to access information held by governments and other public authorities.

      In issuing a joint statement on Wikileaks with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, the United Nations (UN) special rapporteur on freedom of opinion and expression does not mention the US or other involved countries by name. But he does mention “the release of diplomatic cables by the organization Wikileaks” – a reference to the classified US State Department cables released late last month – and clearly, he’s concerned that in responding to the leaks, the US and other countries will step on established international legal principles – if they haven’t already.

    • Nuclear News: WIKILEAKS – Africa Offers Easy Uranium – ‘abysmal safety and security standards’

      Wikileaks cables have revealed a disturbing development in the African uranium mining industry: abysmal safety and security standards in the mines, nuclear research centres, and border customs are enabling international companies to exploit the mines and smuggle dangerous radioactive material across continents.

    • John Pilger in conversation with Julian Assange
  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Tears for the Tuna
    • End the Ethanol Insanity: Ed Wallace

      It is now conceivable that the myth of ethanol as the salvation for America’s energy problem is coming to an end. And maybe we always should have known it would wind up in italics, underlined, with the real facts of the damage ethanol can do to gas-powered motors laid out for all to see in a court of law. I say that because this past Monday a group calling itself the Engine Products Group, comprising small-engine manufacturers, automakers, and boat manufacturers, filed suit in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia to vacate the EPA’s October ruling that using a 15 percent blend of ethanol in the nation’s fuel supplies would not harm 2007 and newer vehicles.

    • U.S. Rare Earth Mine Resumes Active Mining

      A major U.S. mine for rare earth metals has gone back into operation, adding a much needed source to offset China’s control of the unique group of materials necessary to build tech gadgets like smart phones and laptops.

    • Radioactive spill at AREVA Uranium mine in Niger

      Greenpeace has today received and verified reports that since December 11th, more than 200,000 litres of radioactive sludge from three cracked waste pools has leaked into the environment at the SOMAIR uranium mine in Niger, operated by French energy company AREVA [1].

    • Japan finally starts taking action against its corrupt whaling industry

      After two and a half years of hard work in Japan to expose corruption at the heart of the whaling industry – we have a significant victory!

    • Finnish Forest Rescued!

      And that’s where the good news comes in. last week, Matti, Greenpeace’s hard-working forest campaigner in Finland, let us know that following a decade of endeavor, a final victory has been achieved in the campaign to protect old-growth forests in northernmost Finland. Negotations between the Saami reindeer herders and the Finnish state forestry company Metsahallitus have resulted in a deal to protect 80% of the forests defined as important by both reindeer herders and Greenpeace in 2002.

  • Finance

    • SEC Probes Private Trades In Facebook, Other Firms

      The Securities and Exchange Commission is looking into the trading of shares in privately held companies that include Facebook Inc. and Twitter Inc., according to people familiar with the matter.

      Such trading has taken off on small, private exchanges in the past year, helping to boost the multibillion-dollar valuations of the social-networking companies and other closely held concerns.

    • MasterCard may cut off file sharing sites over piracy

      This piracy link means that the sites in question could fall foul of the proposed—but essentially dead—Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA). COICA would allow judges to force service providers, including credit card companies, to block payments to websites “dedicated to infringing activities.” However, the bill was blocked by Senator Ron Wyden (D-OR), who described it as a “bunker-busting cluster bomb,” when what was needed was “a precision-guided missile.”

      In spite of COICA’s failure to pass—in this Congress, at least—the RIAA and MPAA have been pressuring payment providers, advertising networks, and ISPs to do more to fight piracy, and the combination of industry pressure and the possibility of legislation appears to be having some effect. Earlier this month, Google announced a range of measures to improve its response to copyright infringement.

    • Nigerian E-mail Scam Victim Sues Bank, Loses Appeal

      While many victims of the so-called “Nigerian e-mail scam” would be too embarrassed to trumpet that fact, others end up infamous for their victimhood like the appellant in a published opinion of the California Court of Appeal in Riverside. Also known as an advance-fee fraud, the Nigerian scam baits the victim with an advance sum of money now in the hopes of realizing an even larger payment later.

    • For Las Vegas, cold comfort on jobs front

      Here in this large, airy room, all high ceilings and exposed beams, it’s warm; outside it’s cool and breezy, in advance of the near-freezing temps said to be coming just in time for Black Friday. Lowest November lows in 17 years, they say. But the real chills are coming from the economy — on Monday came word of a study by Forbes.com that seemed to confirm what we already know: Las Vegas is the hardest city in which to find a job.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Arch-networker Mandy banned from lobbying: No Blair-style cashing in for next two years, say MPs

      Peter Mandelson has been barred from lobbying ministers and civil servants for two years – amid fears he could exploit his former government contacts for private gain.

      The former Labour business secretary has been told he must not attempt to influence decision-makers in Whitehall on behalf of the foreign billionaires and wealthy corporations expected to employ the services of his new ‘global consultancy’.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Analysis: California’s Online Impersonation Law, Effective January 1

      As of January 1, 2011, California’s first online impersonation law – SB 1411 – goes into effect, making malicious digital impersonation a misdemeanor that comes with fines up to $1000 and/or up to a year in jail.

    • A Censorship-Resistant Web

      What’s nice about this system is that it gets you censorship resistance without introducing anything wildly new. There are already certificate authorities. There are already hash-to-URL servers. There are already mirrors. There’s already Tor. (There’s already tor2web.) The only really new thing specific to censorship resistance is URL-to-hash servers of the form I described, but they’re very simple and hopefully uncontroversial.

      There is some work to be done stitching all of these together and improving the UI, but unlike with some other censorship-resistance systems, there’s nothing you can point to as having no good purpose except for helping bad guys. It’s all pretty basic and generally useful stuff, just put together in a new way.

    • *PC Pro scoop* – the ICO colluded with Google in the course of their “investigation” into the Wi-Fi scandal

      Over at PC Pro, an unbelievable story: the Information Commissioner’s Office and Google “teamed up” on their response to Rob Halfon MP’s complaint about the search giant’s Wi-Fi scandal.

      PC Pro obtained documents using the Freedom of Information Act which support this explosive allegation of collusion between “watchdog” and data snatcher.

      As readers of this site will know well by now, Google was caught scraping private data from unsecured Wi-Fi connections in May as their cars trundled around the country, but initially said no personal information was collected.

    • Hungarian media authority punishes radio for playing “It’s On” by Ice-T

      In another thread, I have already mentioned the situation in Hungary. In a nutshell, if you don’t feel like reading that, the new media related law in Hungary consists of the following ridiculous regulations effective 1st January:

      - News about crimes can’t take up more than 20% of the total amount of news in any news program in any kind of media. Which is just ludicrous. What’s next? Ministry of Happiness?

      - Anything in any media can be reported by anyone on the grounds that it violated some hazy rule (the section which explains what can be regarded as a violation is deliberately ambiguous). Nationwide television and radio stations can be punished up to 200 million Hungarian Forints ($1 million ballpark) – any random person who owns a blog, writes down their opinion and gets reported by some moron can be punished up to 50 million Hungarian Forints (approx. $200.000)!

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Gibson Gets An Injunction Over PaperJamz; Retailers Ordered To Stop Selling Them

      If you happened to have received a PaperJamz guitar toy for the holidays this year, you may want to hang onto it as a collectors’ item. In November, we wrote about how Gibson, the famed guitar company, was suing a bunch of companies over PaperJamz. The main target, of course, was Wowwee, the toymaker who makes the devices (which are plastic — not actually paper — guitars with a capacitive touch screen that turn your air guitaring into something a bit more real), but Gibson also sued a bunch of retailers, including Walmart, Amazon, eBay, Target, etc. for selling the toys.

      Eric Goldman now lets us know that Gibson successfully got an injunction against all the defendants, with the court ordering them to stop selling the toys, just days before Christmas, though the defendants quickly appealed the ruling. The full injunction is embedded below.

    • American judges, European citizens – and the Vatican: It’s NO to GE!

      In San Francisco last week, US district judge White couldn’t have been clearer. The GE seeds company Monsanto had illegally planted GE sugar-beet in Arizona and Oregon; the permits for it had been granted by the US Department of Agriculture in violation of an earlier ruling. The judge’s order: Up-root and destroy the whole lot of it!

    • Copyrights

      • Your Party Needs You

        On Thursday 13th January we will have a world first, a Pirate Member of Parliament. Did you just laugh or rubbish that statement? Well, I don’t want your help. If you didn’t and you do genuinely believe that we have a chance of winning the Oldham East & Saddleworth by-election, albeit an outside chance, I want to hear from you as soon as possible.

      • Porn Site Says Revealing Takedown Notices Infringe Copyright

        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.

        Fast forward to today.

        Part of the case, originally filed in 2005, is back before the San Francisco-based appeals court. Among other things, Perfect 10 (NSFW) alleges Google’s forwarding of Perfect 10’s takedown notices to the Chilling Effects Clearinghouse website constitutes copyright infringement.

      • United States: Appeals Court: World of Warcraft “Bots” Do Not Infringe Video Game Developer’s Copyright But DMCA Claim Survives
      • Megaupload dares the RIAA to sue it

        Megaupload has hit back saying that it is not up to payment processors to take the law into their own hands.

        Bonnie Lam of Megaupload said that it is not up to them, rather than elected governments, to decide what’s right and what’s wrong.

        Otherwise we would be getting into the silly situation where people cast their votes by choosing a conservative or a liberal credit card, she said.

      • Indie Music Association Comes Out In Favor Of Seizing Domain Names Of Blogs That Promote Their Music

        Yet, we’ve noticed an unfortunate pattern. A2IM often seems to want to be the “mini-RIAA,” frequently staking out identical positions on the issues, and simply adding a “me too” to whatever the RIAA says. Early on it came out in support of ACTA. It’s also been involved in astroturfing campaigns in favor of 3 strikes laws, and most recently, argued against the concept of net neutrality (Update: to be clear, as Bengloff explains in the comments, they were only against specific aspects of a proposed net neutrality plan). The group’s leadership has effectively admitted at times that they take orders from the RIAA. For example, on the issue of ACTA, A2IM’s President, Richard Bengloff, admitted he had not seen ACTA, but supported it because the RIAA told him to.

      • Fashion Design and Copyright

        Should fashion designs be eligible for copyrights? When I listen to people talk about this issue, many of the same interesting arguments come up. These people know about designer knockoffs and feel that something is not quite fair about them. Yet they also view copyists as moving innovation along in the fashion world. Copying releases new fashions from the small circles of their origins to the wider marketplace; it translates designs from abstract experimentation on the catwalk to concrete wearability on the sidewalk. Copying thus plays a vital market role in fashion. And so, in my admittedly small and biased sample, a typical conversation about fashion copyright invariably trends toward a reluctant opposition.

      • Court Dismisses ShareConnector Case Citing Faulty Evidence

        After six years, the criminal proceedings against P2P index site ShareConnector have finally come to an end, much to the embarrassment of the Dutch Department of Justice. The Court dismissed the case and ruled that the Public Prosecutor relied too much on evidence provided by anti-piracy outfit BREIN, and failed to do a proper investigation of its own.

      • walling off another garden: is Soundcloud turning on its supporters?

        This is a real shame. Every aspect of music that I care about and that I participate in, for the past 15 years Djing across 19 countries on 3 continents, has been based in practices and traditions in which remixing and mixtapes are a fundamental element. In fact, similar practices are fundamental to every living musical tradition (from hiphop & reggae to jazz improvisation to tecnobrega and beyond (and are vital to nonmusical creative traditions too). Whether they involve re-using copied digital recordings or live re-performances or re-incorporating riffs, quotations, basslines, and beats… those specifics are different in different times and places, but their legality is not relevant to the creative practice. Recycling/repetition/reference is a basic element of creativity. Creativity is a living, social practice that arises from people (and peoples) interacting and communicating.

        So I am sorry to hear of Soundcloud cracking down on this practice and making it harder. I don’t really care what they say their official policy was (it’s there if you look), in practice they knew what was happening because they benefited from it. And the law on this is hazy, there’s fair use arguments to be made even within the law as it stands, but nobody can afford the lawyers to make it.

      • ISP won’t reveal names of alleged porn pirates

        Time Warner Cable, one of the nation’s largest Internet service providers, has refused to turn over customers accused in a lawsuit by Larry Flynt Publishing of pirating one of the company’s porn films, according to Flynt’s attorney.

      • Online music previews case goes to top court

        The Supreme Court of Canada has agreed to hear a case involving whether previews of music downloaded from the internet should be subject to royalties.

Clip of the Day

Linux, Debian 6 (Squeeze), KDE 4.4.5


Credit: TinyOgg

IRC Proceedings: December 31st, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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