Microsoft Has Become an Embarrassment to Consumer Electronics Show (CES)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 5:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Watching a movie

Summary: Lacking anything substantial to show in CES, it is time for Microsoft to give the stage to Linux

AS products are being cut at Microsoft, little or nothing new is introduced to make up for the vacuum. That’s a sign of deflation. “Nothing New from Microsoft at CES” says LXNews, which has just marked its official debut:

Proponents of the company are saying that Ballmer and Microsoft are confident in their continued success in many markets, but it sure looks to me like they have no answers and no innovation and any of their reactions to the current trends in technology seem to be one to two years behind the curve. Microsoft will of course plow ahead, just by virtue of being such a huge behemoth and dominating so many markets, but the time to expect exitement from this company seems to be long gone.

Here we have a company that cannot catch up no matter how much it bullies the competition and how hard it tried to produce something, then spend billions of dollars on advertising. “It’s time to yank Microsoft off the keynote stage” at CES, according to the headline from a primary blog of ZDNet. Microsoft by no means deserves a leading spot. In reference to Steve Ballmer’s appearance at this year’s event:

[T]he time devoted to what you could do with Windows Phone 7 came across as very infomercial, more like a marketing campaign or sales pitch. The only thing that made it worse was how obvious it was that the company is still trying to catch up to Android and iPnone.

That’s not necessarily a bad thing – Android and iPhone are the ones to beat and you can’t beat ‘em until you catch up to them. But is that really how anyone wants to kick off the biggest technology show of the year? With a recap of the past and a sales pitch for a ” me too” product?

Joab Jackson has linked to what he calls “[t]he case against the Consumer Electronics Show.” The writer is somewhat of a Microsoft booster whom we mentioned here before. Maybe the problem is Microsoft and not CES. Android, for example, had a new release version. MeeGo devices were also unveiled there. So not the event is the problem.

Apple’s Mac OS X Catches Up — Poorly — With GNU/Linux Two Decades Later, Windows Relies on Legacy

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Windows at 4:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Boy waiting for a baseball

Summary: Catch-up at Apple done the wrong way (with antifeatures or lack of features); Windows the platform one uses when there is no other choice

THE COMPANY of seemingly-infinite hype is failing to impress and it also fails to innovate, except when it sues rivals, including those which use Linux. Apple is actually the one copying from GNU/Linux, not the other way around. Joe Brockmeier, a former employee of Novell who left after about a year there, published a post which contains what lots of people in Ident.ca said in recent days (but in brevity):

But the buzz over the Apple Mac App Store? Meh. Look at the features that Apple touts:

* Install any app with ease
* Keep your apps up to date
* The app you need. When you need it
* Buy, download, and even redownload

Linux folks, sound familiar? We’ve had all of this, modulo “buy”, for a decade at least. The Advanced Package Tool, a.k.a. “APT” for Debian-based systems (that includes Ubuntu), has made all of this possible for years and years. Granted, this has primarily focused on free and open source software, but paid apps are possible too. The Ubuntu folks have had a paid software store since Ubuntu 10.10. (It is, I admit, sparsely populated when it comes to proprietary/paid software.)

But the installation, updating, and such? All very possible with APT — or Yum or Zipper, if you happen to be using an RPM-based distro. (Or APT for RPM, if that’s still being maintained.)

Life Hacker has published “Why the Mac App Store Sucks”:

Apple launched the Mac App Store today, allowing you to browse, search, read reviews, and buy Mac software of all kinds in one streamlined location. And it’s terrible.

Apple is just copying GNU/Linux repositories and Windows is last to implement it (in vapourware), trying to catch up, as usual. “Today I Booted into Windows and Now I’m Mentally Deranged” is the title of this new post:

The problem (and it is a big problem) is that the Garmin update software won’t work on Linux. There are plenty of reports floating around the internet that many people are able to update their Garmin devices using wine. But this won’t work for me.

Therefore, I had to boot into Windows for real. Naturally, the Windows partition is small because it isn’t used for anything.

What is really disturbing is not Windows itself, but the attitude of people who write software for Windows – in particular the writers of the Garmin updater. They seem to operate on the assumption that their users are stupid.

The update file downloaded from Garmin was big – about 8GB. I didn’t have that much space on the Windows partition. If that happens to you, you would normally download it elsewhere right? Do you think Garmin would let you download it and then install it later? No. Do you think Garmin would allow you to select the download directory? No. WHY NOT?

What I had to do, was change the Windows temporary folder to somewhere else (removable USB stick). Once done, the updater worked fine. But why is such stupid mucking about necessary at all?

Garmin, have a little respect for your users. They are not all computer illiterate, virus infested, Explorer-using idiots. In fact, I’d say many people who buy GPS devices are reasonable smart.

Compatibility issues that are the fault of the ISVs rather than GNU/Linux are probably the only remaining inertia factor which keeps Windows relevant. People dislike Windows for problems like viruses that characterise the platform, whereas applications that run on Windows lure/force people in. Disgruntled Windows users should be aware that there are alternatives other than Apple’s. There are more than 2 games in town.

Mono Boosters in Ubuntu Have Conflicts of Interest, LibreOffice Under Similar Threat

Posted in Fork, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Open XML, OpenDocument at 4:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Unwanted intrusions

The end of times

Summary: Banshee booster has history trying to put Mono inside Fedora and a new file format, ‘LOOXML’, is said to be pushed into LibreOffice possibly because of Novell’s influence

A FEW DAYS ago we wrote about OMG!Ubuntu! announcing that Banshee had been added to Ubuntu after a lot of insistence from Mono boosters. Over at Groklaw, Pamela Jones spotted the news and wrote, “Can Canonical find any more ways to stuff Mono into Ubuntu?”

Jones and Groklaw members — like many others including the FSF — have repeatedly warned that Mono should be avoided, and to quote one such opinion on it, “Banshee is just being pushed now in the latest Ubuntu Natty downloads, bad news.”

If one checks where the immense promotion of Banshee came from to OMG!Ubuntu!, it’s this person who says in his profile that he is “maintaining primarily Mono packages including Banshee.” He was to Fedora what Shields et al. are to Ubuntu — Mono pushforce. To quote a mail message sent to him from Matthew Woehlke and posted in his blog:

I’m going to guess a lot of that “disrespectful personal mail” revolves around the use of mono? And why shouldn’t it? Lots of people (myself included) have a special hatred of Microsoft’s Trojan Horse, and good reason to question the honesty and motives of people that push it. (Which is not to say I don’t believe there are honest people that are either deluded or simply don’t care.)

If you’re going to promote the technology of a Linux-hostile, GPL-hating, monopolistic bully of a company that regularly engages in racketeering, encourages people to violate the GPL, and is currently suing against Linux… well, some people aren’t going to like that :-) .

Personally, the only thing I would want to do with mono code would be to port it to !mono. YMMV.

This came around the time Fedora leaders were discouraging his lobbying for Mono inside Fedora by putting it more gently: “Red Hat Enterprise Linux continues to not ship mono. Draw your own conclusions.”

Another source of Mono advocacy is Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza, whose promotion of Mono extends to CES and it’s not surprising that anti-Linux trolls support de Icaza. Microsoft advocates who for years troll and harass people in Linux forums are celebrating news about Mono for Android because they know it’s bad for GNU/Linux (there is only who person there who is a GNU/Linux advocate, others are rude trolls who thrive in an unmoderated forum, one is a Microsoft MVP).

The inclusion of Banshee in Ubuntu extends further into the panels, which are always running and usually within sight. They is increasing dependency on Mono at more levels, as this post helps show:

An update today finally sets Banshee as the default music player in Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal. Since Banshee is now default, it has replaced Rhythmbox in the Ubuntu Sound Menu…

Mono is of course property of Novell (to be AttachMSFT), which received a lot of money from Microsoft in order to advance Microsoft’s agenda. Mono is part of this agenda and the relationship to Novell’s SLES can be watched in this new video. Novell helps Microsoft in turning GNU/Linux servers into .NET hosts and one of the main people from the FFII seems concerned about LibreOffice, perhaps because of the Go-OO connection. We are currently investigating just how much influence Novell has in this fork because Novell staff (including one whom the OpenOffice.org team rejected repeatedly) dominates the IRC channel/s and the gentleman from the FFII, who fought against OOXML, is concerned that LibreOffice is going to support LOOXML in spite of spin. He wrote: “Expect a fresh format flavour would then be named LOOXML, that’s a perfectly silly silly silly nerd pun on LOL (laugh out loud), XML (extensible markup language), LO (libreoffice) and OOXML (office open XML) and possible other British phrases of general interest. LOOXML is an OOXML-inspired format intended to approximate the OOXML-O10 which eventually is known as ISO/ECMA OOXML transitional. LibreOffice 3.3. will be released January 10. Feel free to put to popular vote if LOOXML or LOOOXML or LO-OOXML suits you best.”

Ubuntu was alleged to have adopted LibreOffice, but Canonical denied this later. All in all, yet again we see the toxic poison from Novell (paid by Microsoft) having a bad effect on Ubuntu and other projects. Boycott Novell to defend GNU/Linux.

Links 8/1/2011: GIMP 2.8 Status Update, Ubuntu GNU/Linux Ported to Nook

Posted in News Roundup at 2:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • 2011 Calendar Linux Style

    What better time to create your own calendar for 2011, even better if based on the Linux world ?.

    I saw this idea on the site http://cursorlibre.com/ where they made a nice dodecahedron with a Ubuntu theme.

    In the download package, there is a pdf version ready to print and assemble, plus a pdf version of a guide in which is explained what parts should be cut and how to bend the paper to obtain the dodecahedron.

  • LPI 101 screencast from PaulPaulito.com

    LPI is pleased to introduce another great resource for LPI exam preparation available on YouTube: screencasts from Paul Paulito.com

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • CAOS Theory Podcast 2011.01.07

      Topics for this podcast:

      *Our preview of open source highlights for 2011
      *Progress spins off open source middleware company FuseSource
      *Sonatype Professional highlights Apache Maven commercialization
      *Neo Technology updates Neo4j open source graph database
      *2011 to be year of Linux in cloud computing

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux has been released

      A new longterm kernel has been released. This release contains security fixes and all 2.6.34 users are encouraged to update. This continues the 2.6.34 stable series under the new “longterm” name.

    • Expert: Linux capabilities don’t add security

      The developer behind the grsecurity project, Brad Spengler, has pointed out that most of the privilege control capabilities implemented under Linux carry a significant potential for compromising a system and wreaking other havoc.

      The intended purpose of capabilities is to prevent precisely that by restricting services and processes to certain operations and specific resources. Among other things, they aim to reduce the effects of successful attacks and can, for example, prevent an exploit for an office tool from installing a back door because the office tool doesn’t have the capabilities required for binding services to network ports. Capabilities can also make it unnecessary to use SUID – Ubuntu and Fedora are considering this approach. OpenWall has reportedly already implemented it in version 3.0, which was released towards the end of December: The standard installation doesn’t contain a single SUID program.

    • Linux kernel slips out at CES

      This week most of the world did not notice Linus Torvald, the creator of Linux, releasing the next generation of the Linux kernel, since everyone who is anyone is either at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, or watching every bit of news surrounding it.

    • Graphics Stack

      • The Fallacy Behind Open-Source GPU Drivers, Documentation

        One of the points that Linux users commonly say in lobbying hardware vendors to provide open-source drivers and/or documentation — particularly for GPU drivers — is that the open-source community will take the released code or documents and from there develop it into a reliable, working open-source Linux driver. However, that isn’t exactly true.

      • AMD Releases Radeon HD 6000 Series Open-Source Support

        A limitation though of today’s open-source push is that it only supports the Radeon HD 6000 “Northern Islands” GPUs as in the Barts, Turks, and Caicos GPUs, but not the newest GPUs under the Cayman codename, which are the Radeon HD 6900 graphics processors. There’s significant enough differences in the ASICs that the support couldn’t be delivered at the same time. When this Cayman support is delivered, it will come only atop the Gallium3D driver and not the classic Mesa driver.

      • Update On The HD 6000 Series Open-Source Support

        Yesterday afternoon AMD released the Radeon HD 6000 series open-source support for all non-Cayman GPUs. We covered the initial information regarding this kernel DRM / Mesa / DDX code drop well, but there’s a few more tid-bits of information to pass along now that we have received additional feedback from AMD’s John Bridgman and Alex Deucher and have also had time to look at the code patches ourself.

      • Intel Sandy Bridge Linux Testing Is Coming Real Soon

        Following a challenging week for Intel’s Sandy Bridge Linux support in other publications getting the open-source graphics drivers working, Intel came forward to supply us with a Sandy Bridge processor so we can carry out the tests using the needed Linux Kernel / Mesa / DDX / libva Git code. We don’t even need to wait for Intel to send out any hardware, as it was hand-delivered today during a meeting with them.

      • CES 2011: AMD Unveils Low-power Fusion APUs

        After over four years of hoopla, AMD has finally announced the low-power Fusion Accelerated Processing Unit chips. These Fusion APUs incorporate multi-core x86 CPU, DirectX 11 capable graphics with parallel processing engine, dedicated HD video acceleration block and high-speed bus for speedier data processing across the cores. Intel had just announced the Sandy Bridge CPUs and to complement them in the CPU game, AMD rolled out the new low-power platform Brazos based Fusion APUs for notebooks and desktops. The low-power Fusion APU loaded Tablets and embedded devices would be made available in the first quarter of this year.

  • Applications

    • 15+ Useful AppIndicator Applets For Ubuntu

      Appindicator was first introduced in Ubuntu karmic as a replacement for the Gnome panel applet. It is a small applet to display information from various applications consistently in the panel. It can also be used as a access point to access (and control) the application without having to open the application. if you are running Ubuntu Lucid or Maverick, you should see the messaging menu (the applet that contains Empathy, Evolution and Gwibber icons), which is a good example of an appindicator.

    • Best media players for Linux – A choice selection

      As I’ve mentioned before, my multimedia skills and taste probably cater to the average medieval user, but even so, my choice of programs should be decent enough. Without bombarding you with too many options, you have an adequate selection, whether you like KDE or Gnome, whether you prefer free or slightly proprietary software, or better yet, care nothing for things of that sort.

      This compilation is a good starting point. Pick any among the top listed candidates and you will enjoy your media experience. If you’re a fresh Windows convert or just someone looking for more information on media players in Linux, you have a solid baseline, now.

      Amarok is probably the best KDE player, Totem is the best Gnome player, VLC and MPlayer are the best all-around programs. Banshee has music stores, Amarok displays lyrics, Totem can stream Youtube, VLC will play subtitles, and XBMC is a complete media center. Your oyster has just turned a pearly one.

    • GIMP 2.8 still needs some more time!

      Currently there are some features that need to be completed and some bugs that prevent GIMP 2.8 from being finally released. Martin Nordholts just posted something about that on the official mailing list. There is also a discussion about spending money for fixing bugs (so-called bounties), which could be a good way to speed things up. However in the past the devs didn’t like the idea of bounties, because it is difficult to determine what bugs are eligible of being bountied, and of course it isn’t so easy to get a good workflow for a bounty-system in place.

    • Proprietary

      • Opera 11.01 snapshot

        This is a snapshot of Opera 11.01, a possible future minor/bugfix release for Opera 11.

        In addition to mouse gesture fixes and various other things, we have also looked at the top crashers in Opera 11, and several of them have been fixed in this snapshot.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Wine

      • Ubuntu ported to the Nook color

        While unrelated to one another, the Wine development community has released their newest development build (Wine v1.3.11) following TransGaming’s announcement earlier this morning of GameTree Linux replacing Cedega for running Windows games under Linux.

        The Wine 1.3.11 release isn’t too interesting. Its changes include using PO files for translations, JavaScript improvements, fixes to the Wine debugger, translation updates, and various bug-fixes.

      • Classic RPGs, thanks to gog and wine

        I’m happier than a pig in mud today, after getting copies of three of my favorite games off gog.com, and finding that they all work flawlessly in Arch Linux and wine.

        I’ve mentioned my unnatural affection for Neverwinter Nights, and I have an original boxed copy of the Platinum edition. I even “maintain” (if I can call it that) a quick step-through for a script that installs it.

    • Games

      • Cedega To Be Replaced By GameTree Linux Software

        Here’s something interesting, but all of the details are not yet known at this time as the official announcement doesn’t seem to have been issued yet. TransGaming, the company behind the Cedega software for running Windows games on Linux, is going to be replacing the Cedega Gaming Service with something now called GameTree Linux.

      • A list of some commercial GNU/Linux games

        I thought I’d be nice to make a little list of some of the GNU/Linux games I’ve tried out this past year. I’ve tried to keep the list heterogeneous (different game genres, all from different producers, some freshly released and some quite older…).

      • Play Bioware’s Infinity Engine Games PlaneScape Torment, Baldur’s Gate and Icewind Dale Natively on Linux

        Bioware’s Infinity Engine was home to many great games in past that totally defined RPG game genre with deep storyline, engaging gameplay, isometric graphics, and dungeons and dragons rules based gameplay. Almost all the games under infinity engine became hugely popular and are even today considered to be best games in their genre with huge dedicated fan base.

      • The Spring Project – An Open Source Strategy Game Engine With An Impressive Selection of Free Games

        Developers can take the engine and use it as they please, without having to pay the creators any money for the licence. This has helped the Spring engine build up a roster of games that will please even the most seasoned RTS fan.

      • Hedgewars sees special 0.9.15 Winter Release

        Hedgewars, a popular open source Worms-like strategy game, has received a winter update which brings a variety of new features.

      • Open source gaming

        Looking for something to while away the hours? Try some of these open source games

        Gaming has never been a strong point in the open source world, but gradually things are getting better and more open source games are emerging for Linux, as well as other non-open source platforms. Here we look at some of the better open source games, most of which run on multiple platforms.

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • January Stable Updates Available

        Today, KDE has issued a series of stable updates to the Plasma workspaces, the various applications and the KDE development frameworks, versioned 4.5.5. Between 4.5.4 and 4.5.5 there have been 54 commits to the codebase, so the somewhat meagre changelog does not include all the fixes.

      • KDE Platform, Workspaces and Applications 4.6 RC 2 Available

        Packages for the release of the KDE Software Compilation 4.6 RC 2 are available for Kubuntu 10.10 and Natty.

        These are beta packages for beta software, expect bugs.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Notifications with Character

        Persistent and resident notifications enable complete interaction between the user and the application using only notifications. In GNOME 2, authors would use GtkStatusIcon to anchor the information shown in the notifications, but this is no longer necessary and the applications should move away from the GtkStatusIcon usage. The suggestions for individual applications and system components can be found in these compatibility guidelines. Please find us on #gnome-shell IRC if you would like to discuss the use of the notifications by your application in GNOME 3 or help out with the message tray features.

      • AwoKen – full iconset Token-style theme for Ubuntu Gnome

        inside the pack there is a customization script that give the possibility to change between:
        * 84 distributor logos (this number is growing according to the requests)
        * 34 folder types
        * 4 trash types
        * 5 computer icons
        * 5 gome icons

      • GNOME Shell Theme Pack- A nice collecion of themes for Gnome shell

        This is a nice pack of themes for Gnome shell, the pack contains 6 nice themes : deviantart theme that is based on the deviantART website, Gaia theme based on gaia style, a site raising awareness of climate change, Dark Glass, Elementary -Based on the GTK theme, Equinox Ambiance Light theme ,Ambiance – (Based on the GTK theme in Ubuntu 10.04), Sonar – Based on the GTK theme in openSUSE and finally Tron Legacy.

  • Distributions

    • 5 Reasons why Arch Linux Rocks

      Arch Linux is a distribution for advanced linux user. The basic goal of Arch Linux is to provide users with a fast & smooth linux experience. I’ve been using Arch Linux for over a month now & I’m quite liking it. If you’re a seasoned linux user & want to try out a new distro then maybe Arch Linux is for you. Here are five reasons I feel Arch Linux rocks.

    • Reviews

      • Zorin OS 4 reviewed

        Aside from those quibbles, I quite like Zorin OS 4. I’m going to leave it on this laptop and use it for work indefinitely. When the next Ubuntu comes out in April, I may need somewhere to go to still have Gnome available, and right now it’s quite possible Zorin OS will become my default choice.

      • Fastest OS Puppy Lucid 5.2 Quick review

        Barry Kauler created Puppy Linux, bringing out version 0.1 in June 2003. Now Puppy Linux
        reached its Lucid 5.2 version, an independent, minimalist Linux distribution for the desktop.

    • New Releases

      • Waiting (im)patiently

        OK, this is the list of final releases I’m waiting for (im)patiently during this year…

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Making Ubuntu More Personal

          Community is a deeply personal experience. While write communities such as Open Source get together to make things (as opposed to read communities who consume content together), the attraction and thrill is only partially in the collaboration. What really makes write communities fun are the personal relationships that develop; what starts as nicknames on a screen shortly burst with life and become friends who we enjoy spending time with, sharing our ideas with, and in many cases relying on to help us through tough patches of our lives. The very reason Open Source and community attracted me in the first place is that this is not just boring, cold, and unfeeling computing, it is computing driven by people who share their humanity to make the world a better place.

        • Integrating with web apps

          Everyone knows I love web apps. You have two extremes. Old school “native apps and in control of my data” and then the other which is basically ChromeOS; No local state, all web. Most people are in the middle. You might love Gmail but the thought of having a remote word processor might not work for you.

        • User Days

          Its that time of the year again! We’re having the Ubuntu User Days!

        • Ubuntu ported to the Nook color

          Another day and another device finds itself capable of running Ubuntu.

          This time the device in question is Barnes and Noble’s ‘Nook Colour’ eBook reader.

        • Breaking: Nook Color Hacked to Run Ubuntu
        • Ubuntu At CES: Courtesy Chinese Companies

          Chinese company Nufront has announced a series of laptops powered by ARM chips and running Ubuntu. It is good to see Ubuntu’s presence at CES through a Chinese vendor, but it’s also disheartening to see that the entire tablet market that could have been Ubuntu’s forte has gone to Google’s Android. None of the major brands are considering Ubuntu on the machines.

          Brands like Sony don’t have issues with GNU/Linux; their love for Android proves that. Then what are we missing here? Why we don’t get Ubuntu running popular brand? What’s stopping the same companies which adore Android to keep a distance from Ubuntu? Only Canonical can answer, we can only speculate.

        • Ubuntu Adds Sparkle to Nufront Laptops at CES

          Two Nufront laptops were actually unveiled at the show, according to reports: one 10-inch and another 14-inch version. Both are powered by a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 running at 2GHz, and both are displayed running Ubuntu. Either 1 or 2GB of RAM is expected.

          A reference design of the 10-inch model, for instance, features HDMI output, full-size VGA, two USB hosts, and an SD card. It is reportedly “very light” and offers lengthy battery capability, but no further details were available.

        • Declan’s Freestyle Ubuntu

          I originally wrote this script for myself to simplify the installation of Ubuntu 10.10 on multiple computers, it includes the Medibuntu repositories and all multimedia codecs, restricted, multiverse and others to play all audio or video files. A friend suggested that I should make this available to a wider audience by putting it on Infowars Ireland – Basically it involves installing an Ubuntu ‘command line system’ and then running a Bash Script which downloads and installs everything for you.

          Not included in this installation are most of the default applications normally bundled with Ubuntu, there is no Totem media player – VLC and Gnome Mplayer do the job very nicely instead, GMplayer provides the functionality for Mozilla browsers to play absolutely all multimedia content on the internet, all the plugins are configured, including the Flash plugin which gets installed during initial set-up.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Nokia/MeeGo

        • Cambridge firm puts MeeGo into set-top boxes

          Amino Communications is to launch an “add-on” set-top box to add new functions to existing pay-TV services.

          Based on the Cambridge-based company’s Freedom media centre, the Freedom Jump is powered by the Intel Atom processor CE4100 and the MeeGo Linux operating system for TV.

        • HTC HD2 Hacked To Run MeeGo Linux

          Independent iPhone and Macintosh developer Steven Troughton-Smith has been able to get MeeGo Linux running on the HTC HD2 smartphone.

        • Intel demonstrates first open source MeeGo tablet at CES

          In a quiet corner of the giant Intel booth at CES there’s a not-so-crowded demo stand with the the label MeeGo. There you’ll find the WeTab tablet, the first MeeGo tab already shipping in Europe. From this underwhelming beginning the Intel/Nokia-sponsored effort, now under the direction of the Linux Foundation, hopes to offer a better open source alternative to Android.

      • Android

        • Android Users Now Outnumber iPhone Users In U.S

          The report, which takes into account smartphone subscribers over the age of 13, puts RIM at the top of the smartphone platforms with a 33.5% market share over the three month period – it did however find its market share drop 4.1% from 37.6%.

        • VideoSurf is like Shazam, but for video

          Most people with an Android phone remember the first time they used Shazam to tag a song they heard on the radio. It was one of the coolest apps in the early days of Android and probably one of the most used when people wanted to show off what their new smartphone could do.

          VideoSurf hopes to recreate that same magical experience, but this time with video.

        • Parrot ASTEROID – Android for your car stereo

          AV equipment maker Parrot has stuffed Android into its newest in-car entertainment system, bringing a 3.2″ touchscreen and Google features to your car stereo. It is a significantly more elegant solution for Google Maps and GPS than licking a suction pad and sticking a cheap car dock to your windscreen.

        • CES: Moto spills full details on Atrix 4G and laptop dock

          AT&T gave us a sneak peek at the Motorola Atrix 4G this morning, but it was up to Motorola to announce the full details of the device at its CES press conference that ended a few minutes ago.

          As we told you, the Atrix’s biggest draws will be its dual-core processor and support for AT&T’s 4G network. Yet, a deeper dive shows some equally impressive features plus a unique accessory. We’ll start with the device first.

        • CES: Hands-on with the Motorola Droid Bionic

          Motorola kicked off the Verizon 4G extravaganza that was promised this week when it introduced the Droid Bionic, one of the first few phones to run on Verizon’s 4G LTE network. If that wasn’t enough to have the tech enthusiasts drooling, it even boasts a dual-core processor, with each core running at 1GHz for a total of 2GHz. And from what little we saw of it, we have to say we’re impressed.

        • Asus’ new Eee tablets include Android, Windows

          Asus introduced four tablets today, the Eee Pad Slider, a 10-inch Android tablet with a slide-out keyboard, the Eee Pad Transformer, another 10-incher with a breakaway keyboard, a 7-inch Android tab and a 12-inch Intel Core i7-powered Windows 7 “slate.”

    • Tablets

      • Open Ballot: will you be buying a tablet in 2011?

        Maybe the shiny videos of Android 3 have whetted your appetite, or perhaps you’d rather have a full-on Linux installation with all the Gnome/KDE bells and whistles. Alternatively, you could be getting tempted by Apple’s famed Reality Distortion Field, or you just think that tablets are a silly fad that will go away soon.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source Lion Collars and the Coolest T-Shirt You’ve Ever Seen

    New York-based consulting and research firm GROUND Lab has come up with one of the most creative implementations of open source technology I’ve ever seen. As part of a collaborative effort with Lion Guardians and Living With Lions, the GROUND Lab development team is building an open source lion tracking collar system. At first glance, the idea may seem a little odd, but once you understand the reasoning behind it, it’s actually quite awesome.

    The Maasai tribe in Southern Kenya raise and herd cattle as a primary source of income and sustenance within their community. Unfortunately, the local lions find their livestock to be a pretty tasty buffet so the Maasai keep the lions at bay by killing them. Conservationists estimate there are only about 2,000 lions left in Kenya and they may disappear entirely within the next two years if the Maasai continue to hunt them.

  • GROUND LAB Part 3: How open source objectively affected our development process

    GROUND LAB is a research and development company focused on designing and fabricating prototypes and solutions for a wide range of clients, ranging from large organizations like UNICEF to smaller NGOs, conservationists and artists. We use the open source approach in our development not only for the benefits and context described previously, but also for the advantages it provides for our clients.

  • We’re Hiring: Full-Time Developer Opening in Corvallis, Oregon

    Reporting to the Operations Manager of the Open Source Lab, the Analyst Programmer will contribute in-depth knowledge of open source software development using languages such as Python, Ruby and Java.

  • Events

    • ODF plugfest UK

      The fifth ODF plugfest will take place at Maidenhead town hall, in the Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead, on February 24/25th 2011.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • HTML5 Guitar Tab Player with the Firefox 4 Audio Data API

        Greg Jopa, an Illinois State University grad student studying web development, built a web-based guitar tab player using Firefox’s Audio Data API and Vexflow (HTML5 music notation rendering API). Here is some details from Greg. You can also read more about this experiment on his blog.HTML5 Guitar Tab Player with the Firefox 4 Audio Data API

      • Changing Jobs

        Today was my last day as an employee of the Mozilla Corporation. I’m leaving to work at the law firm of Greenberg, Traurig. This was not an easy decision for me to make, but I’m pretty sure that it is the right one, both for me and for Mozilla.

      • Firefox Mobile and window.console Support

        Desktop Firefox added native support for a subset of the window.console API. It’s a subset in that only the following API methods are supported:

        * console.log(arguments)
        * console.info(arguments)
        * console.warn(arguments)
        * console.error(arguments)

  • Oracle

    • Oracle Makes TTM GPU Drivers Work On Xen

      Yesterday and today there’s been patches published by Oracle’s Konrad Rzeszutek Wilk that make it possible for open-source GPU Linux drivers that use the TTM (Translation Table Maps) in-kernel memory management to work within Xen virtualization. The TTM drivers include the open-source Radeon and Nouveau DRM drivers, among others.

    • Forget the hype: Oracle Cloud Office is just a demo

      Of course, the devil’s in the details, and the details aren’t at all apparent. Perhaps Oracle is saying that, among other things, you can open a Word .doc or .docx file with Oracle Open Office, then share that opened (and converted) document via Oracle Cloud Office. That’s a little bit different than collaboratively editing a native Office document.

      The Oracle Cloud Office data sheet [PDF] mentions that Oracle Cloud Office has browser-based collaboration capabilities using Windows, Mac OS, and Linux. It also says that you can “view documents on smartphones and tablets” — implying that collaborative editing can’t take place on a mobile device.

    • Open for Business

      Sometimes, relatively small things can make a big impact. Take the case of the MySQL database. First released in 1995 and purchased by Sun in 2008, MySQL has quickly graduated from the realm of hobbyists to the world of business, becoming the leading open source database for many Web applications and an integral part of the LAMP (Linux, Apache, MySQL, PHP) Web application stack. Almost a year after Oracle’s acquisition of Sun, MySQL plays an even bigger role in enterprises of all sizes worldwide.

  • CMS

    • My Initial Thoughts On Drupal 7

      Yesterday I started playing with Drupal 7 since it hit final, and it’s different. I am far too used to Drupal 6, so it’s a case of unlearning some things to use Drupal 7. To be honest, I’m still kinda lost at times in the UI but that’s just familiarity. I have a few obvious changes to relearn.

    • Social-network open-source project Diaspora named ‘rookie of the year’

      Showing how social networking was a hot trend in 2010, open-source project Diaspora topped Black Duck’s third annual “Rookies of the Year” list, which distinguishes the most “buzz-worthy” open-source projects started last year.

    • Drupal 7 dives into machine-readable web

      That means Drupal 7 is adding native support for the W3C’s RDFa – a set of XHTML attributes that are designed to turn human readable data into data that’s readable by machines. That could be data such as a location’s map coordinates. RDFa is already being used by Google (see here).

  • Business

    • If you open source an old market, are you doomed to fail?

      A few years back, a host of open-source businesses raised hundreds of millions of dollars on the promise that they would commoditize old, dying markets, and make a bundle of money in the process. Missing from this thesis, however, was its logical conclusion: winning in a fading market is tantamount to losing, as the commoditizing vendor goes down with the sinking ship.

    • As Dimdim Loses Independence, Some Doors Close, and Others Open

      In the wake of the news that open source online conferencing and collaboration provider Dimdim is being swallowed up by cloud CRM provider Salesforce, one conclusion seems clear: Many long-standing open source applications are low hanging fruit for powerful proprietary software companies to acquire and metamorphosize for their own purposes. It’s easy to be lulled into thinking that this is happening at the same rate that it used to, but the rate at which well-known open source technologies are being flipped under the wing of proprietary software companies is in fact picking up pace exponentially. In Dimdim’s case, there are positive and negative aspects of the buyout.

  • BSD

    • Can DragonFlyBSD’s HAMMER Compete With Btrfs, ZFS?

      The most common Linux file-systems we talk about at Phoronix are of course Btrfs and EXT4 while the ZFS file-system, which is available on Linux as a FUSE (user-space) module or via a recent kernel module port, gets mentioned a fair amount too. When it comes to the FreeBSD and PC-BSD operating systems, ZFS is looked upon as the superior, next-generation option that is available to BSD users. However, with the DragonFlyBSD operating system there is another option: HAMMER. In this article we are seeing how the performance of this original creation within the DragonFlyBSD project competes with ZFS, UFS, EXT3, EXT4, and Btrfs.

  • Project Releases

    • Blender 2.56 Beta Released[Ubuntu PPA]

      Blender is an incredible open source cross platform suite of tools for 3D creation. And if you are unaware of the capabilities of Blender, you should watch these stunning Blender made short films and animations you probably haven’t seen ever before. Blender 2.56 beta is the fifth beta release of Blender 2.5. Blender 2.5 is undergoing massive changes and the final release date is still quite uncertain.

  • Government

    • Irish Government Adopts Open Source

      The application can be used seemlessly out-of-the-box allowing users to begin reaping ROI from the very beginning, or customised to suit the specific needs of a business and its users. It’s unique in so far users can choose to host the application either in the cloud or on-premise, and gives users the flexibility to access their data in whatever location they are.

    • Kundra Encourages Open Source…& Proprietary

      White House officials on Friday sent agency chief information officers and senior procurement executives a memo directing them to weigh open source options when buying technology.

      Open source refers to technology based on nonproprietary parts, which allow third-party developers to improve and modify the product without having to pay the technology’s maker. Advocates have said a move toward open source in the government could save taxpayer dollars and bolster security.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Creating democratic, scalable innovation

      There has been a big response to Dave Briggs’s blogpost, Is there a need for a local government skunkworks?, some of which Dave summarises here. Dave’s point goes beyond the traditional technology-prototyping skunkworks, familiar from companies like Lockheed Martin, and I think he is really asking “do we need to have a machine/structure that will create and implement innovation in local government?”.

    • Tau Meta Tau Physica: Bringing Open Source to Fashion

      In this exclusive interview, Susan Spencer Conklin tells Linux Pro Magazine how she re-entered the open source world with a project that combines her programming skills with her interest in fashion. Susan explains how her vision for an open source fashion tool has expanded since she first introduced the Tau Meta Tau Physica application at the Libre Graphics Meeting in Brussels last fall.

    • Open Data

      • Opening up public bodies to public scrutiny

        New plans to extend the scope of the Freedom of Information Act (FOI) to open up government and other bodies to public scrutiny, were unveiled by the Ministry of Justice today.

        The changes will make it easier for people to use FOI to find and use information about the public bodies they rely on and their taxes pay for, by:

        * increasing the number of organisations to which FOI requests can be made, bringing in bodies such as the Association of Chief Police Officers, the Financial Services Ombudsman, and higher education admissions body UCAS; and also all companies wholly owned by any number of public authorities


      • Mozilla Open Data Competition – Winners To Be Announced on Jan. 11

        We want to give a short update on the announcement of the winners of our first Mozilla Open Data Visualization Competition. We originally planned to announce these winners tomorrow, but will now make the announcement on Tuesday, January 11th.

      • The DH documents that mock open government

        Below are some of the edits in two NPfIT Gateway Reviews that officials published after removing all useful information.

        The published portions of the reviews exclude all information on the progress or otherwise of the projects under scrutiny. All of the findings and recommendations in each review have also been excluded.

      • Jon Stewart Calls Out Facebook, Goldman Sachs for Their Shady New Deal

        Jon Stewart Calls Out Facebook, Goldman Sachs for Their Shady New Deal

        On Monday, news broke that Goldman Sachs had invested $500 million into Facebook, valuing Mark Zuckerberg’s social network at $50 billion. Tonight, Jon Stewart laid bare the real—and hypocritical—reason for the investment: an avoidance of government-regulated transparency. Uh-oh.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Nature Publishing Group Announces New Open Access Journal and Support for CC!

        Nature Publishing Group has long been a leader in scientific and medical publishing. The company’s flagship publication, Nature, has been publishing across a broad range of scientific disciplines since 1869 and is the world’s most cited interdisciplinary journal. In the past several years, Timo Hannay as head of web publishing and Annette Thomas as CEO of MacMillian (NPG’s parent company) successfully brought NPG into the digital age with a wide variety of new scientific journals and projects that leverage the power of the Internet.

        As part of this program, NPG has made very clear its support of open access publishing. Last month, the company announced that an additional 15 of its journals now offer open access options. And this week, the company announced a brand new online open access journal called Scientific Reports. With this launch, a full 80% of NPG academic and society journals and 50% of all journals the company publishes offer open access options to authors.

      • PLoS (and NPG) redefine the scholarly publishing landscape

        Nature Publishing Group yesterday announced a new venture, very closely modelled on the success of PLoS ONE, titled Scientific Reports. Others have started to cover the details and some implications so I won’t do that here. I think there are three big issues here. What does this tell us about the state of Open Access? What are the risks and possibilities for NPG? And why oh why does NPG keep insisting on a non-commercial licence? I think those merit separate posts so here I’m just going to deal with the big issue. And I think this is really big.

    • Open Hardware

      • Arduino The Documentary now online

        Arduino The Documentary is finally out. We have been waiting for long, but now you can see it at Vimeo (EN, ES) and download it from Archive.org (links coming soon). The file is licensed under CC-SA 3.0 and can be redistributed.


  • Sad John Boehner and Sad Don Draper (Update: by popular demand, now with Sad Glenn Beck, Tiny Sad Keanu, Sad James Van Der Beek)
  • Fog Computing cartoon
  • Whose house is of glasse, must not throw stones at another.

    All broadband technologies are suffering badly from bufferbloat, as are many other parts of the Internet.

    You suffer from bufferbloat nearly everywhere: if not at home or your office, then when you travel, you will find many hotels are now connected by broadband connections, and you often suffer grievous latency and jitter since they have not mitigated bufferbloat and are sharing the connection with many others. (More about mitigation strategies soon). How easy/difficult to fix those technologies is clearly dependent on the details of those technologies; full solutions depend on active queue management; some other mitigations are possible (just set the buffers to something sane, as they are often up to a megabyte in size now, as the ICSI data show), as I’ll describe later in this sequence of blog posts.

  • Decoding Nick Clegg

    I don’t want to join the sheer hate campaign against Nick Clegg. Not because I want to be generous to him on his birthday, even though I’m a humanist. But for three reasons: it is driven by Labour scapegoating that displaces the way they screwed up onto the Lib Dems; because it displaces attention from the Prime Minister who is the prime mover and architect of government policy and goes along with his use of Clegg as a heat shield; and because Nick Clegg is not a cynical, wicked politician. In fact his problem may be that he does not know how to be a politician at all.

  • The ‘Lost’ Paradox: Why Some Free Shows On The Web Are So Heavily Pirated

    The No. 1 most-pirated show—that would be ABC’s Lost, which was illegally downloaded nearly six million times—had a strange characteristic about it. It was available, for at least several months of 2010, for free via Hulu.

  • Koo af, yinz: regional US slang thrives on Twitter

    It’s commonly accepted that widespread national television helped smooth over many local US accents and standardized “proper” English usage; will services like Twitter, where people use more colloquial language, have the same effect on regional slang? A new study from Carnegie Mellon University finds that, so far, regional variation is alive and well on Twitter. All yinz in Pittsburgh and all yous in New Jersey can still find plenty of support on the microblogging service.

  • How a ‘free school’ will deliberately exclude poorer pupils

    Plans for a new ‘Free school’ in Wandsworth will include pupils from households from rich households, but deliberately exclude students from poorer households, even though the latter are 0.2 km nearer to the selected site.

    The ‘Free schools’ policy has been loudly championed by Conservative minister Michael Gove. It allows practically anyone to get state funding to set up a school.

  • Musical Chairs: Tom Goldstein Is Leaving Akin Gump

    Superstar Supreme Court litigator Thomas Goldstein — who has argued 22 cases before the high court, racked up numerous honors from legal and general-interest publications, and, most importantly, served as a judge of ATL Idol — is leaving Akin Gump.

  • Science

    • Bacterial bloom ate Deepwater Horizon’s methane

      The Deepwater Horizon oil leak released far more than just crude oil; prodigious amounts of methane gas also spewed out of the well. This gas was responsible for many of the problems associated with the disaster. While the well was uncapped, all of that methane ended up being released into the ocean. A study in today’s issue of Science, however, suggests that it never made it to the surface. Instead, a large bloom of methane-eating bacteria seems to have thrived during the leak. The authors of the new paper suggest that their results have implications for some future climate change scenarios.

    • Plasma jets make Sun’s corona so much hotter than the surface

      The Sun’s core is millions of degrees, while the solar surface is a balmy 5800 kelvin. But travel to the Sun’s outer atmosphere, the corona, and it heats up to millions of degrees again. The corona is a wispy plasma envelope extending millions of miles above the Sun’s surface. Why the tenuous atmosphere above the sun is hotter than the actual surface has remained a mystery. One generic explanation has been that magnetic fields must be involved, but getting beyond this superficial understanding has required more detailed observations.

    • GOP Kills Science Jobs Bill By Forcing Dems To Vote For Porn

      In an example of Republican obstructionism rendered beautiful by its simplicity, the GOP yesterday killed a House bill that would increase funding for scientific research and math and science education by forcing Democrats to vote in favor of federal employees viewing pornography.

      Rep. Ralph Hall (R-TX), the ranking member of the House science committee, introduced a motion to recommit, a last-ditch effort to change a bill by sending it back to the committee with mandatory instructions.

      In this case, Republicans included a provision that would bar the federal government from paying the salaries of employees who’ve been disciplined for viewing pornography at work.

    • When Innovation, Too, Is Made in China

      AS a national strategy, China is trying to build an economy that relies on innovation rather than imitation. Clearly, its leaders recognize that being the world’s low-cost workshop for assembling the breakthrough products designed elsewhere — think iPads and a host of other high-tech goods — has its limits.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Supreme Court to decide drug marketing case

      This data mining is a multiple-billion dollar business, and drug makers say it is invaluable in helping them promote new drugs to physicians. Last year, the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America said this data helps the industry “properly educate doctors about prescription drugs and their characteristics…in a more targeted and expedited manner.”

      But lawmakers in three New England states moved to halt the practice. They said the tracking of prescriptions “really interferes with the doctor-patient relationship and leads to more spending on expensive drugs,” according to Sharon Treat, a Maine legislator and executive director of the National Legislative Assn. on Prescription Drug Prices.

  • Security

    • Friday’s security updates
    • Everyone’s spam is unique

      How much spam you get depends on three main things, how many spammers know (or guess) your email address, how good your spam filtering is, and of course, how active the spammers are.

    • Proof of ownership for IP addresses

      On 3 January 2011, RIPE NCC officially ushered in a new era in internet routing. 73 of RIPE’s 7,000-odd members have already certified IP address blocks. The practice is intended to prevent future internet routing ‘hijacks’, but should also help prevent incorrect addressing. In practice, the latter is more frequently responsible for sites temporarily disappearing from the web than hacking.

    • PlayStation 3 hack – how it happened and what it means

      This feature allowed owners to install their own Linux OS onto the console, giving them the ability to create and run their own applications, and to load apps developed by other users.

    • How to Secure Your Smartphone

      With phones falling into the wrong hands every day and California residents subject to warrantless cellphone searches, now’s a pretty good time to think about protecting your smartphone.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Drug gangs seize parts of northern Guatemala

      Narco gangs have opened a new front in South America’s expanding drug war by seizing control of parts of northern Guatemala, prompting the government to suspend civil liberties and declare a state of siege in the area.

      Hundreds of soldiers have reinforced police units in an offensive against a Mexican cartel known as the Zetas which is said to have overrun Alta Verapaz province.

    • Separating Terror from Terrorism

      Nineteenth-century anarchists promoted what they called the “propaganda of the deed,” that is, the use of violence as a symbolic action to make a larger point, such as inspiring the masses to undertake revolutionary action. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, modern terrorist organizations began to conduct operations designed to serve as terrorist theater, an undertaking greatly aided by the advent and spread of broadcast media. Examples of attacks designed to grab international media attention are the September 1972 kidnapping and murder of Israeli athletes at the Munich Olympics and the December 1975 raid on OPEC headquarters in Vienna. Aircraft hijackings followed suit, changing from relatively brief endeavors to long, drawn-out and dramatic media events often spanning multiple continents.

    • A chapter of accidents

      2010 was not a particularly good year for airline safety. Data put together by Ascend, which provides information to the aviation industry, show that the year’s rate of one fatal accident for every 1.3m flights compared poorly with one per 1.5m in 2009 (the safest year ever). Similarly, the number of fatal accidents rose from 23 in 2009 to 28 in 2010. And passenger deaths on passenger revenue flights rose from 609 to 726, of whom 472 died in four main accidents.

    • Feds relax export curbs on open-source crypto

      Federal restrictions will be relaxed on the export of open-source software that incorporates strong encryption, the US government announced on Friday in a lengthy disclosure.

      The effect of the changes announced in the US Federal Register is that cryptography software now may be exported to Cuba, Iran, North Korea, Syria, and Sudan as long as the source code from which it was derived is already “publicly available”. To qualify for the exemption, exporters must first notify the federal government exactly where the code is located.

    • Cross-sex strip searches ruled unconstitutional

      female jail guard’s strip search of a male inmate was a “humiliating event” that violated his rights, a divided federal appeals court in San Francisco ruled Wednesday.

      Such searches of a prisoner by a guard of the opposite sex are unconstitutional except in an emergency, the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said in a 6-5 decision.

    • Emergency human rights petition seeks to halt deportations to Haiti

      Civil and human rights advocates filed an emergency petition [pdf] this week with the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights in an effort to halt the imminent deportation of hundreds of Haitian nationals by the U.S. government, calling the move a “death sentence.”

  • Cablegate

    • Vanity Fair profiles Julian Assange: Wikileaks threatened to sue Guardian over leaked cables

      But among the more interesting revelations in this piece: at one point, VF reports that Assange threatened to sue The Guardian because he was upset that the newspaper secured an unauthorized copy of one leak “package” from a Wikileaks volunteer, and was considering breaking the embargo.

    • Why Bradley Manning is fighting for his sanity

      For the past seven months, 22-year-old US Army Private Bradley Manning, first in an army prison in Kuwait, now in the brig in Quantico, Virginia, has been held 23 hours out of 24 in solitary confinement in his cell, under constant harassment. If his eyes close between 5am and 8pm he is jolted awake. In daylight hours he has to respond “yes” to guards every five minutes. For an hour a day he is taken to another cell where he walks figures of eight. If he stops he is taken back to his other cell.


      Accusations that his treatment amounts to torture have been indignantly denounced by prominent conservatives calling for him to be summarily executed. After the columnist Glenn Greenwald publicised Manning’s treatment in mid-December, there was a moderate commotion. The UN’s top monitor of torture is investigating his case.

    • Julian Assange Captured by World’s Dating Police

      I see that Julian Assange is accused of having consensual sex with two women, in one case using a condom that broke. I understand, from the alleged victims’ complaints to the media, that Assange is also accused of texting and tweeting in the taxi on the way to one of the women’s apartments while on a date, and, disgustingly enough, ‘reading stories about himself online’ in the cab.

      Both alleged victims are also upset that he began dating a second woman while still being in a relationship with the first. (Of course, as a feminist, I am also pleased that the alleged victims are using feminist-inspired rhetoric and law to assuage what appears to be personal injured feelings. That’s what our brave suffragette foremothers intended!).

    • An open letter to the president of the United States, regarding WikiLeaks and PFC. Manning

      The letter was signed by David Jaris; and outlined some very interesting quotes stated by Obama himself.
      “We only know these crimes took place because insiders blew the whistle at great personal risk. . . Government whistleblowers are part of a healthy democracy and must be protected from reprisal.”

      ~ Senator Barack Obama, 2008

    • Wiki Rehab

      Until Cablegate, this situation, while theoretically problematic, was something that most geeks accepted as some kind of necessary evil inherent to capitalism. It seemed unlikely that Amazon or PayPal would bow down to pressure from the governments of Vietnam, Azerbaijan, or Tunisia (the moral resolve of Facebook and Google, which had ads to sell in these very markets, was a different case). Likewise, it seemed unlikely that democratic governments would want to bully the intermediaries rather than pursue their grievances via the legal system.

    • Assange vs. Zuckerberg
    • DOJ sends order to Twitter for Wikileaks-related account info

      The U.S. Justice Department has obtained a court order directing Twitter to turn over information about the accounts of activists with ties to Wikileaks, including an Icelandic politician, a legendary Dutch hacker, and a U.S. computer programmer.

      Birgitta Jónsdóttir, one of 63 members of Iceland’s national parliament, said this afternoon that Twitter notified her of the order’s existence and told her she has 10 days to oppose the request for information about her account since November 1, 2009.

      “I think I am being given a message, almost like someone breathing in a phone,” Jónsdóttir said in a Twitter message.

      The order (PDF) also covers “subscriber account information” for Bradley Manning, the U.S. Army private charged with leaking classified information; Wikileaks volunteer Jacob Appelbaum; Dutch hacker and XS4ALL Internet provider co-founder Rop Gonggrijp; and Wikileaks editor Julian Assange.

    • DOJ subpoenas Twitter records of several WikiLeaks volunteers

      Last night, Birgitta Jónsdóttir — a former WikiLeaks volunteer and current member of the Icelandic Parliament — announced (on Twitter) that she had been notified by Twitter that the DOJ had served a Subpoena demanding information “about all my tweets and more since November 1st 2009.” Several news outlets, including The Guardian, wrote about Jónsdóttir’s announcement.

      What hasn’t been reported is that the Subpoena served on Twitter — which is actually an Order from a federal court that the DOJ requested — seeks the same information for numerous other individuals currently or formerly associated with WikiLeaks, including Jacob Appelbaum, Rop Gonggrijp, and Julian Assange. It also seeks the same information for Bradley Manning and for WikiLeaks’ Twitter account.

      The information demanded by the DOJ is sweeping in scope. It includes all mailing addresses and billing information known for the user, all connection records and session times, all IP addresses used to access Twitter, all known email accounts, as well as the “means and source of payment,” including banking records and credit cards. It seeks all of that information for the period beginning November 1, 2009, through the present. A copy of the Order served on Twitter, obtained exclusively by Salon, is here.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Republicans attempt to stifle action on climate change


      Republicans have wasted no time in using their new majority in Congress to try to block the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to act on climate change.

      In their first full day in the new Congress, Republicans outlined three different bills – encapsulating three different strategies – aimed at limiting the powers of the EPA. It also shut down a house committee that had tackled energy and climate issues.

      The first, introduced by Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee, would declare that greenhouse gas emissions are not subject to the Clean Air Act – even though supreme court ruled in 2007 that they are.

    • NSFW: Official tells Coast Guard to “Kiss my ass” — “This Is Bullsh!t” (VIDEO)
    • More than 8 months after BP disaster, boat tour finds oil still fouling Louisiana marshes

      Federal and Louisiana officials got into a heated argument Friday over the cleanup of oiled marshes during a tour of an area that remains fouled 8 1/2 months after the Deepwater Horizon rig explosion in the Gulf of Mexico.

    • Thousands of crabs die along Thanet’s coast

      THOUSANDS of dead crabs and mysterious deposits of black sand have littered the Thanet coastline.

      Environmental experts belive the cold weather is again to blame for the deaths of velvet swimming crabs, which have been found at Palm, Walpole and Westbrook Bays.

      In January 2010, the dead bodies of 30,000 to 40,000 of the crabs – also known as devil crabs – came ashore.

  • Finance

    • Facebook, Goldman Sachs & How Money Seeks Regulatory Free Zones

      This is, in many ways, the exact opposite of what was intended with things like SOX — which was designed to increase oversight. But, instead, it’s done the opposite. The end result is that wealthy clients of Goldman Sachs and other Wall Street firms can invest in these companies, but others cannot. Now, some might claim that this is a “good” thing, in that the general public shouldn’t be investing in highly risky stocks that could easily collapse. But, it’s also creating a tiered system where these companies are able to avoid going public for much longer, but the wealthy and well-connected can get in at about the same point that the public used to be able to get in. And, they are buying. Goldman has already announced that it’s already oversubscribed.

    • Showdown looms over raising the nation’s debt limit

      As lawmakers and the White House engage in another game of economic chicken, Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says hitting the debt ceiling would cause ‘catastrophic damage to the economy.’

    • MPs’ expenses: David Chaytor jailed over false claims

      Ex-Labour MP David Chaytor has been jailed for 18 months for fraudulently claiming more than £20,000 in expenses.

      Chaytor, 61, the former MP for Bury North, last month admitted three charges of false accounting.

      He submitted bogus invoices for IT consultancy work and claimed rent he never paid on homes owned by his family, the court was told.

    • Hedge Funds Bet Heavily on Republicans at End of Election

      A small network of hedge fund executives pumped at least $10 million into Republican campaign committees and allied groups in last year’s elections, helping bankroll GOP victories that changed the balance of power in Washington, according to a review of campaign records and interviews with industry insiders.

    • Goldman Sachs Efforts to Burnish Image May Be Undermined by Facebook Deal

      Just as Goldman Sachs Group Inc. prepares to unveil business standards aimed at improving its reputation after settling fraud charges last year, the Facebook Inc. stock sale to clients shines new light on the firm’s potential conflicts of interest.

    • Facebook Readies Track for I.P.O.; Goldman Faces Questions

      The S.E.C. is interested in several issues surrounding Goldman’s Facebook deal, including its structure and news media reports about the offering, which was supposed to remain private, according to people with direct knowledge of the inquiry who requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the matter.

    • So, Now That We Know Facebook’s Numbers, Is It WORTH $50 Billion?

      From a high level:

      2009 REVENUE: $775 million
      2009 PROFIT: $200 million

      2010 REVENUE: ~$2 billion
      2010 PROFIT: ~$500 million

      So, based on this, is the company WORTH the $50 billion that Goldman’s clients are desperate to buy it for?

      The answer, as always, is “It depends.”

    • SJC rules against banks on mortgage assignments

      The Supreme Judicial Court has upheld a Land Court judge’s decision in U.S. Bank v. Ibanez invalidating foreclosure sales conducted by two plaintiff banks to which mortgages had been assigned.

      “We agree with the judge that the plaintiffs, who were not the original mortgagees, failed to make the required showing that they were the holders of the mortgages at the time of foreclosure,” Judge Ralph D. Gants wrote for the SJC. “As a result, they did not demonstrate that the foreclosure sales were valid to convey title to the subject properties.”

      The banks claimed that “securitization documents” they submitted established valid assignments that made them the holders of the two mortgages before the notice of sale and the foreclosure sale.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • House leader invites corporate criminals to submit regulatory wish lists

      The new chair of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee has been sending letters to various companies and industry groups asking business leaders what regulations they think should be stricken — and among those whose ideas he solicited are companies with a history of serious wrongdoing.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Uncle Sam has $30M to bypass Chinese, Iranian ‘Net filters

      Need to get around a Chinese government firewall? Burning to smuggle your samizdat writings past Iranian Internet censorship? Hoping to blog with impunity in Burma? Uncle Sam wants to help. The US government has a $30 million pot of money to spend on “Internet freedom” programs around the world, and it’s not afraid to make a few enemies.

      Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last year gave a major speech on Internet freedom and the new “Information Curtain” of censorship that has fallen in some parts of the world. In that speech, she said that State would support development of tools that can bypass Internet censorship. She also outlined a program in which State would fund mobile phone apps that allow people to rate government ministries on responsiveness and efficiency and that can ferret out corruption through crowdsourcing. The hardware is already in the wild, she said; all what’s needed is some money to make it worth developers’ time.

    • MP thinks privacy is a “waste of public money”

      According to This is Derbyshire, Conservative MP Heather Wheeler wants police to be able to access raw Streetview footage without needing a court order because proper checks on what the police are up to are “a waste of public money”. This is despite the fact that the UK already tops the Google snoopers chart when measured as a number of requests per person in the country.

    • Columbus Dispatch Issues Takedown On Famous YouTube Video Of Homeless Guy With Great Radio Voice

      Unless you’ve been under a rock the past week, you probably have heard about Ted Williams, the homeless guy in Columbus, Ohio, who panhandles off of a highway, but whose panhandling sign noted that he had an amazing radio voice. Someone from the Columbus Dispatch shot a short video of the guy showing off his voice, and after it went up on YouTube it went viral. Within days there were over a million views, and people were talking about how the guy really deserved a voice over job. The Cleveland Cavaliers offered him a job and apparently MSNBC has hired him to do some voiceover work. All that sounds good.

    • Still No Country For Good Men

      Dr Binayak Sen — a man who has now become a cause célèbre across the country — was sentenced to life imprisonment by a sessions court in Raipur, Chhattisgarh, for “conspiracy to commit sedition”. Sen had worked for 30 years with the tribal poor in the state both as a doctor and a human rights activist. According to the Chhattisgarh state, however, Sen is a dangerous Maoist leader who is a serious threat to national security.

      There was a spontaneous surge of outrage in civil society and the media over this scandalous miscarriage of justice. But there was little that could be done. The State had timed itself well. It was a day before Christmas. The high court and Supreme Court were on vacation; most lawyers were away. It would be at least two weeks before Sen’s family could appeal. Enough time for the dread to sink in; the message to go out.

    • Facebook CEO Makes the Rounds With Tech Executives, Fueling Speculation Over Effort to End Ban

      Facebook CEO Makes the Rounds With Tech Executives, Fueling Speculation Over Effort to End Ban

    • Facts and Figures: China’s efforts in fighting porn, illegal publications in 2010

      China has made steady progress in containing the spread of illegal publications and cracking down on the dissemination of lewd content through the Internet and mobile phones in 2010, according to the National Office Against Pornographic and Illegal Publications.

      The office has recently disclosed the following facts and figures about the related efforts China has made so far this year:

    • Google Digital Newsstand Aims to Muscle In on Apple

      Apple is planning to share more data about who downloads a publisher’s app, information publishers can use for marketing purposes. According to people familiar with the matter, Apple would ask consumers who subscribe to an iPad version of a magazine or newspaper for permission to share personal information about them, like their name and email address, with the publisher.

      Some publishers remain unhappy with this arrangement because they think few customers would opt to share such data, according to these people.

    • Cell Phones Can Be Searched After Arrest, Justices Say

      Delving into privacy concerns in the age of the smart phone, the California Supreme Court determined today that after police take a cell phone from a suspect during an arrest, they can search the phone’s text messages without a warrant.

      The majority in the 5-2 decision reasoned that U.S. Supreme Court precedents call for cell phones to be treated as personal property “immediately associated” with the suspect’s person.

    • Mark Zuckerberg shares his info only with . . .

      There is a delicious irony in the reluctance of Facebook to go public. Mark Zuckerberg may not care for your privacy but it seems he can see some advantages to his own; hence the company’s preference for private share placings and the use of Goldman Sachs to create a secondary market for its shares

    • What They Know – Mobile

      Marketers are tracking smartphone users through “apps” – games and other software on their phones. Some apps collect information including location, unique serial-number-like identifiers for the phone, and personal details such as age and sex. Apps routinely send the information to marketing companies that use it to compile dossiers on phone users. As part of the What They Know investigative series into data privacy, the Journal analyzed the data collected and shared by 101 popular apps on iPhone and Android phones (including the Journal’s own iPhone app). This interactive database shows the behavior of these apps, and describes what each app told users about the information it gathered.

    • PRR – Privacy Respecting Router a #freedentity idea

      The only solution is actually quite simple. In order to gain more control over your privacy and data, you should keep it under your control whenever possible. Handing your data to Facebook, twitter or gmail however is the opposite of that. You hand over your data under typically broad terms of use that give Facebook, Twitter, Google a lot of rights and leave you in the dark about what actually happens with it.

    • Internet Freedom Alert: Obama Admin Pushing Ahead Today with Dangerous “Internet Trusted Identity” Scheme

      Greetings. At this moment — as I type this — the Obama administration is pushing forward with its horrendous DHS-linked “Trusted Internet Identity” scheme (formally – “NSTIC”: “National Strategy for Trusted Identities in Cyberspace”) via a meeting and announcements today at the Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.

      As I’ve discussed in Why the New Federal “Trusted Internet Identity” Proposal is Such a Very Bad Idea and postings linked within that article, NSTIC is an incredibly dangerous concept fraught with all manner of major direct and collateral risks to individuals, organizations, freedom of speech, and civil rights in general.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Intel Insider tech risks monopoly accusations

      Intel’s Sandy Bridge line of processors is impressing the tech community with its power, but a sneaky little feature designed to appease Hollywood has some concerned about Intel’s intentions: Intel Insider.

      The new technology, which ships as standard with Intel’s Sandy Bridge CPUs, is designed to offer a trusted computing platform for high-definition video streaming over the Internet – a sort of HDCP for TCP/IP, as it were.

      Taking the Intel Insider technology at its face value, it seems like a win-win scenario for publishers and consumers: it provides a way of turning the humble desktop or laptop PC into a ‘trusted’ device in the same way as a Blu-ray player or HDMI-connected TV, meaning that video streamed over the Internet can be encrypted and piracy made significantly more challenging.

      With such technology, studios are significantly more likely to offer streaming services for new-release feature films to PCs – and the fact that the Intel Insider security can be layered over existing Digital Rights Management (DRM) implementations means that Hollywood stays in control of the video the entire time.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • When Will Quora Be Quorate?

      Over on Twitter, Brenda Wallace asked me a very good question:

      do you know a good umbrella term for things like ACTA, TPPA, 3strikes, guilt on accusation etc. ?

      Since I couldn’t think of one, I naturally turned back to Twitter to ask people what they thought. And since I’ve recently joined the all-too trendy Quora, it occurred to me that this was just the kind of thing it was designed to answer: what is effectively a “new” question whose answer is not available elsewhere, but which the collective efforts of qualified people might successfully address.

      Literally within minutes, I had dozens of witty suggestions from people on Twitter, which you can see by scrolling this list of tweets; here’s just a small selection:


      IP enclosure

      legislative o’erweening

      LRM (legislative rights management)

      Corsair Laws


    • Johnson & Johnson Leads $9 Million Investment In Personal Genetics Startup 23andMe

      23andMe, which was founded in 2006, aims to help individuals understand their own genetic information through DNA analysis technologies and Web-based interactive tools. DNA analysis helps participants find information about their ancestry and their risks of getting certain diseases (Michael has tried the service).

    • Tobacco Companies Using Trademark Claims To Try To Avoid Putting Warning Labels On Cigarrettes & Cigars

      Apparently, Australia has a new rule coming into effect that says all such products must soon be offered in plain packages — and some lobbyists in support of the tobacco companies have been claiming that plain packages violate trademark, and go against Australia’s treaty obligations — including its free trade agreement with the US. For years, we’ve noted that when lobbyists break out the “international obligations” claim, you know that they’re really full of it, but this seems especially ridiculous.

    • Copyrights

      • Pirate Party Slams Anti-Piracy Outfit for Filing ‘Illegal’ Complaints

        Wearing “Piracy is Illegal” T-shirts and carrying several boxes of complaints against file-sharers, a group of movie industry representatives showed up at the Attorney General’s Office doorstep in Portugal this week. By clogging the judicial system they hope to raise awareness of widespread online movie piracy. However, this ideal may backfire as the local Pirate Party believes that the actions of anti-piracy activists may very well be illegal.

      • Harry Potter plagiarism case thrown out of US court

        A plagiarism case brought against author JK Rowling has been dismissed in the US, after a judge ruled that comparing the two books involved “strains credulity”.

        The estate of British author Adrian Jacobs, who died in 1997, had claimed that Rowling plagiarised part of his book The Adventures of Willy the Wizard for the plot of her fourth Harry Potter novel, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. A PR representative for the Jacobs estate claimed in February that it would be a “billion-dollar case”.

      • Swedish Music Service Launching In U.S. (No, Not That One)

        While many continue fretting over whether and when Spotify will open up Stateside, another digital music company from Sweden is going ahead there – and may even become a beachhead for its better-known compatriot.

      • Right to free use of sound recordings in student bars removed.

        A little noticed statutory instrument that came into force on 1 January, the snappily entitled “The Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988 (Amendment) Regulations 2010″ – SI 2010/2694.

      • The Atlantic Posts Profit for First Time In Years

        The Atlantic says it turned its first profit in decades in the fourth quarter of 2010, driven by double-digit revenue increases year-over-year in digital (up 70 percent), events (up 37 percent) and even print (up 27 percent). Overall advertising revenue grew 37 percent.

      • Claim: ISP Identified Non-Subscriber In Troubled File-Sharing Case

        Last year when thousands of Internet users had their privacy breached due to the actions of ACS:Law, watchdog Privacy International said it would pursue the anti-piracy law firm for breaching the Data Protection Act. Now, in PI’s 2010 report, there is a suggestion that BSkyB “contaminated” subscriber information it sent to ACS:Law, which led to someone being accused of piracy who had no broadband account with BSkyB.

      • EU law not tough enough for online piracy, says Brussels

        Rates of intellectual property infringement in the EU are “alarming”, according to the European Commission. It says that an EU law on IP rights has had some effect, but that the legal measure was not designed to deal with online piracy.

        Current laws are not strong enough to combat online IP infringement effectively and powers to compel internet service providers (ISPs) and other intermediaries to take more proactive steps should be examined, the Commission said.

      • When You Have A ‘Chief Content Protection Officer,’ You’re Doing It Wrong

        . What I didn’t realize is that there’s a whole bunch of folks with similar titles. Hillicon Valley has an article about how the MPAA’s content protection staff is shuffling roles, and it mentions how Suh has been promoted from VP of Content Protection to Senior VP of Content Protection (congrats, btw). But the article also points out that his boss, Mike Robinson, has been promoted to Executive VP of Content Protection and his boss is “Chief Content Protection Officer” Daniel Mandil.

      • CC Website Changes

        If you watch our website carefully, you’ll notice a few changes today. Some of those changes are small, and some are fairly significant, and we’ll be making more changes later in 2011.

        We’re making these changes because we’ve received feedback — from our community of users, friends, supporters, and more — that the current set of web properties we have here at Creative Commons isn’t working as well as it could. Our websites have always emphasized using Creative Commons tools, or finding Creative Commons-licensed works. But we haven’t always made it easy to understand exactly how we are making possible the full potential of the internet via open licensing.

      • Second Life Ordered to Stop Honoring a Copyright Owner’s Takedown Notices–Amaretto Ranch Breedables v. Ozimals

        Amaretto Ranch Breedables v. Ozimals, Inc., 2010 WL 5387774 (N.D. Cal. Dec. 21, 2010). The Justia page. The complaint with exhibits. Ozimals’ C&D to Amaretto and its blogged statement on the case.

        Here’s a line you don’t see every day in judicial opinions: “The gist of the copyright dispute between the parties is whether Plaintiff’s virtual horses infringe on copyrights associated with Defendant’s virtual bunnies.” This reminded me a little of that great line from Ghostbusters: “dogs and cats living together… mass hysteria!”

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