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01.15.11

Links 15/1/2011: 1-Second Linux Boot, Firefox 4 Beta 9

Posted in News Roundup at 1:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Transferring Linux over the network.

    It finally happened. I managed to get my hands on a superseded workstation that had been replaced by a newer model. This workstation also had a brother of the same model in which the motherboard had failed. So I did what any good Borg would do and mashed the two together to make one monster, multi-cpu, fat ram beastie. The only thing left to do was install Linux on it.

    [...]

    Lo and behold! Everything worked! Of course due to some different hardware some files had to be tweaked but that was a minor task compared to installing from scratch and having to set up everything again.

  • Welcome to the 2010 LinuxQuestions.org Members Choice Awards
  • I’m Not A Linux Geek.

    Granted, since running Linux, I’ve learned more about my computer, its hardware, and the way the OS works. But this would be the same if I ran Windows or Mac.

  • The Writer’s PC

    None the less, I was confident that I could build a working machine from an 11 year old 600MHz Celeron with 256MB of RAM.

    I started by downloading the latest Debian Squeeze Beta from here.

    I should say here that even though it’s officially a Testing release, it is , I have found, more stable than many final distributions.

  • Desktop

    • Lawyers Can Leave Windows for Linux OS – Ubuntu

      Most lawyers are managing most processes online or in standard office applications. In fact, when you get on a different operating system like Mac OS X or Ubuntu, you will find FireFox and suddenly experience a feeling of familiarity. With most of your daily work online, transitioning from Internet Explorer to FireFox or Chrome will take no time at all to adjust to and you can immediately proceed with business as usual.

      As for office applications, Oracle’s freely downloadable OpenOffice 3.2 (comes installed on Ubuntu) is compatible with Microsoft Office files and comes with a word processor, spreadsheet application, presentation creator (compatible with MS PowerPoint), and OpenOffice Draw, a more functional desktop publishing tool than Microsoft Publisher (not compatible with MS Publisher formats). OpenOffice is available on Windows, Mac, and Linux operating systems, so you could download it on your Windows computer before committing to it on a Linux installation. We actually switched to OpenOffice four years ago and have not looked back, with only a few of our computers still running Microsoft Office. [3]

  • Server

    • I, for one, welcome our Linux Penguin, Jeopardy Overlords

      There’s nothing surprising about that. The fastest of fast computers have long used Linux In the latest TOP 500 list of the world’s most powerful supercomputers, 459 of the Top 500 supercomputers were running Linux.

      Watson is made up of ten racks of IBM POWER 750 servers running Linux, and has 15Terabytes of RAM; 2,880 3.55GHz POWER7 processor cores and operates at 80 Teraflops. You’re not going to find one of these at your local Best Buy.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • RFC: An Overview of the Linux Integrity Subsystem
    • Upstreaming your code – a primer

      This document describes what steps chip vendors need to take to successfully upstream their code into the mainline Linux kernel.

    • ULatencyD Enters The Linux World

      Daniel Poelzleithner has announced to the Linux kernel world his new project named ulatencyd. The focus of ulatencyd is to provide a script-able daemon to dynamically adjust Linux scheduling parameters and other aspects of the Linux kernel.

    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA OpenCL Linux Benchmarks

        In testing of OpenBenchmarking.org and preparations for the release of Phoronix Test Suite 3.0-Iveland at the end of February from SCALE, a lot of benchmarks have been happening to test the various analytical features and other new capabilities of this open benchmarking platform. In fact, it is really an overwhelming amount of benchmarks; the power capacity in my office is maxed out as benchmark after benchmark and system after system there is all sorts of test scenarios being looked upon. The benchmarks coming out on Phoronix.com over the past two months have just been barely scratching the surface of what has been going into the OpenBenchmarking.org system. Recently a lot of OpenCL compute benchmarks were pumped in, and since we have only published a few OpenCL Linux benchmarks — OpenCL on Linux vs. Mac OS X and OpenCL NVIDIA vs. ATI on Linux — here’s some more in this article.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Different Desktop Environments on Linux

      There are a TON of things that happen when you install an OS, but you only see the graphical parts of it, the “graphical user interface” or GUI. Obviously, if that’s the main thing your seeing, its fairly important to you on every level. Linux however, took this whole concept a step further, and established several “flavors” of GUI for your desktop on your Linux OS. Wikipedia describes a desktop environment as just that: A Desktop Environment (DE) commonly refers to a style of graphical user interface (GUI) derived from the desktop metaphor that is seen on most modern personal computers.

    • The super new compiz debugging tool

      The tool activates in two ways: Firstly, it handles any signals that would cause compiz to die and spews all information in that case. It then uses some neat tricks the kernel team taught me to re-flag the signal again without our handler installed so that apport can catch it and grab the output we just spewed out. Secondly, if you hit some weird issue (like incorrect menu stacking, or something similar) you can just hit Control-Super-Shift-? and compiz will also begin spewing as much information as possible and feed that to apport so you can just file a bug directly.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Burns Supper and KDE Release Party

        Me and Colin and Tomas are having a Burns supper at my place in Edinburgh to celebrate 4.6, let me know if you want to come

      • Random Ideas for a revolutionized Amarok Icon

        I like the icon, but I am sure that more could be done with it.

      • Revolution Music Player

        Taking after what great work Amarok has done over the years, it has come to my attention the different changes that Amarok has gone through. Now, with their current version 2.3.1 I am left wondering about what more could be done with the graphical interface. Amarok has wonderful technologies underneath as a music player. Amarok is also neatly connected to KDE widgets that display information for just about anything.

      • Opinion: Why KDE is People, Not Software

        A little over a year ago, an article was published on the Dot titled ‘Repositioning the KDE Brand’. The article publicized the outcome of a process within KDE to make sense of the relationship between the community and its products, and to reach a durable solution regarding the terms that should be used to refer to both.

      • Bug Statistics for KWin 4.6 Cycle

        Once again I used Bugzilla to get some statistics on how many bugs are opened, closed in KWin during the last development cycle (statistics are from Final Tagging 4.5 till today). Overall 437 new bugs have been reported and 425 bugs have been “closed”. Many thanks again to the bug day – without it the numbers would look worse. So this means that each day 2.4 bugs are reported. Assuming that we spent 10 minutes on each bug (in general Thomas Lübking and I are reading and responding to each bug comment), we spent 8 days just on bug managing. That sounds reasonable, but is very bad as it’s time spent managing and not fixing the bugs. This can be seen in the table below.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • 2D Unity To Be Available As An Option In Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal [Screenshots]

        “Does Natty’s Unity require proprietary graphics card drivers?” was a question posted on AskUbuntu and who better to answer this question then Mark Suttleworth himself (who apparently is quite an active AskUbuntu user)? Mark answered that there will be a a 2D implementation of Unity, available in 11.04 as an option and posted a link to further info and screenshots but unfortunately the link cannot be accessed anymore.

      • A collection of nice themes for Gnome and Ubuntu | 01-10

        This a nice collection of themes for Gnome

      • GNOME T-Shirt Design Contest Extended

        There were a few periods where the submission form was broken and your entry may not have been submitted. If you would like to confirm we have received your entry, please email Paul Cutler to inquire. We apologize for the inconvenience.

      • Wallpaper Community Pack #1

        * GNOME:Ayatana will have a small Artwork Package by the Community, I’m currently contacting Kmurat to check if he can change the licence on this artwork piece (with over 20.000 downloads on gnome-art) so I can use it for distribution. Currently it’s licensed as CC BY-NC-ND, in which the NC can be probably a problem. Let’s wait a couple of days and see… Either way for those who asked for the source of this wallpaper, click on the image above.

      • Backgrounds in The Board

        When I started writing The Board, I was quite pragmatic about the appearance of the app. I used my limited Gimp and Inkscape skills to produce the UI theme images and grabbed some free background images from internet.

  • Distributions

    • The Gentoo Service Station

      If you have a really ancient Gentoo install that needs to be updated to this decade, or you managed to horribly break things, or you want a lesson in Python programming, or you want a vServer running Gentoo, or you want to play a game of chess, or … well, if in doubt just ask, we’ll most likely do it. Conventional or unconventional, as long as no law is broken and no damsel in distress left hanging it can be arranged.

    • 7 Best Network Security Linux Distributions

      Here are some of the best Linux distributions (in no particular order) specially made for securing computer networks…

    • The ’69 Dart of Software

      The first was a blog post by an Emery Fletcher which paints Ubuntu as the be-all and end-all of Linux implementation. While I am eternally grateful for Ubuntu’s efforts in promoting Linux in the general public (even if it is to the point of putting itself first and FOSS second, but I digress) and while the blog presents an interesting point about Linux implementation, it’s hard to determine whether this blog item suffers from anything more than mere myopia.

      Current versions of Debian, OpenSUSE and Fedora are all as user-friendly as the current version of Ubuntu, but that does not enter into the equation in this blog. That’s unfortunate, too, because what both Fedora and OpenSUSE — with its new Studio spin — have done consistently with each upgrade have been remarkable. Mr. Fletcher may be lacking some perspective — think about where Ubuntu would be without the contributions to kernel development (warning: that link is a PDF file, courtesy of the Linux Foundation) and desktop development without the three distros mentioned at the beginning of the previous sentence — a harrowingly depressing thought, indeed.

    • Reviews

    • New Releases

      • Parted Magic 5.9 Is Available for Download

        Patrick Verner announced a couple of days ago, on January 12th, the immediate availability for download of the Parted Magic 5.9 Linux distribution for partitioning tasks. The new release is just a maintenance version that updates two programs and fixes various booting issues.

        The new Parted Magic 5.9 has been released just three weeks after Parted Magic 5.8 was announced on December 28th. It fixes an important booting issue with the for the DVD/CD version. It also fixes some issues with the Save Session function.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mandriva Pulse 2 version 1.3.0

        Mandriva announces the release Mandriva Pulse 2 version 1.3.0 which had been in beta since March 2010.
        Mandriva Pulse 2 is a solution for the management of workstations, mobile computers and servers, designed to help users manage their information systems, notably in heterogenous environments.

    • Red Hat Family

      • What do you want to see ? CentOS 5.6 or CentOS 6.0 ?

        As you probably know (if you are interested in the Enterprise Linux market), Red Hat released earlier today 5.6 . So automatically some CentOS QA team members started to discuss about that in the appropriate IRC channel. As CentOS 6.0 isn’t (yet) released nor ready, the discussion was about putting 5.6 build & release as priority number one or not.

      • Linux ecosystem spins around Red Hat

        And then there’s Red Hat, king of the Linux and open-source crowd. It’s also sitting at a fortuitous moment in software history, when the industry is shifting to the cloud, which is essentially an open-source phenomenon in terms of its composition.

        In fact, Red Hat has become so essential to enterprise infrastructure, that even competitors like Salesforce build on Red Hat technologies.

      • What’s new in Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.6

        Used for more than a year in a number of desktop distributions, such as Fedora and Ubuntu, Ext4 offers a number of advantages, such as more efficient storage with the use of extents, faster checks of file systems than in Ext3, more robust journaling and support for large file systems.

      • Fedora and Derivatives

        • Blag 139k alpha avialable

          After 5 days of hard work, finally an iso is avialable for blag i686. I’ll upload the x86_64 version later today.

        • Live from Fedora Moonbase Alpha, part 3.

          Quite a while ago, I wrote about the dead-simple process for setting up a microphone with Fedora’s PulseAudio sound system. That was part 2 in a series that was meant to discuss creating a better podcast. At the time, I meant to follow up with a piece on how to do some audio sweetening to make your recording sound better to your listeners. Unfortunately, life and work got in the way, and I didn’t get to part 3 — so here it is, hopefully better late than never.

          Thanks to John Poelstra for inspiring me to write this. We had a nice conversation about audio the other day, and I figured it would be worthwhile to capture some of what we spoke about, but also to explain better some of the concepts I tried to pass on to John but perhaps didn’t do it well.

        • Fedora Board Proposes Project Goals

          Fedora Board members have been working for quite some time to etch their vision and long-term goals for the Fedora project in stone. A Vision statement came together last year, but more specific goals were still desired. Well, after a lot of discussion some long-term goals have been proposed.

    • Debian Family

      • Changes to the Debian Mozilla team APT archive

        I made some changes as to how packages from the Debian Mozilla team that can’t yet be distributed in the Debian archives are distributed to users.

      • Invitation to the January 18th Debian-NYC Novice Night

        Novice Nights are Debian-NYC’s meetings for everyone. If you would like to install Debian, come on by. If you would like help with configuring or making Debian do what you need, we can do that too. If you want to hang out with Debianistas to pick up tips and tricks, come on by. We can also provide some help with other derivatives of Debian, such as Ubuntu.

      • Debian Project News – January 14th, 2011

        The first release candidate of the installer for Debian Squeeze was released on January 12. Many fixes are included in this release of the installer, along with new improvements: better OS and partition detection, new supported hardware, etc.

      • Debian Squeeze RC1 is released! | With Screenshots Tour
      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Earth Sunrise Is A Gorgeous Plymouth Theme For Ubuntu / Linux Mint
        • Why democracy will die

          Back in October there was the very controversial news that Canonical would be replacing the GNOME Shell with their own Unity project as the default desktop shell for Ubuntu 11.04 and going forward. The original version and specification for Ubuntu Unity (and as found in Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook) required 3D acceleration and would use Compiz as its compositing window manager. For those without the necessary graphics drivers to support the functionality, Canonical’s plan for Ubuntu was to have it fall-back to the traditional GNOME desktop and inform the user of their sad graphics support. However, now Canonical’s developing a 2D version of Unity for such scenarios.

        • Unity 2D (Qt) Now Available in A PPA For Ubuntu 10.10 And 11.04 [Video]

          I’ve tried Unity Qt in VirtualBox and I must say I am impressed: it’s not identical to Unity 3D but it’s A LOT faster! Further more, because Unity 2D seems to have more elements from Ubuntu 10.10 then 11.04 (even though some new stuff from 11.04 is there), it already has Dash (the application launcher / file browser) – something that’s currently missing in Unity 3D in Ubuntu 11.04.

        • Eva’s Great Guide to Ubuntu – Part 6

          Summary of part 6

          A. External monitor with NVidia
          B. Printers
          C. Useful Ubuntu and Linux links
          D. Ubuntu branding
          E. Final thoughts

        • Ubuntu To Launch Developer Portal

          In what is probably a long over due move: Ubuntu is putting together a developer portal. This portal includes the basics of making applications on Ubuntu, everything from which IDEs to use to publishing your applications in the software centre is covered.

        • Ubuntu 11.10 To Be Called Oscillating Ocelot?

          This was tweeted by Matthew Paul Thomas, who works for Canonical as an interface designer for Ubuntu. But until I hear it from Shuttleworth or as an official announcement, I will continue to support Orgasmic Okapi.

        • Ubuntu Tweak 0.5.11: bug fixed release for Ubuntu 11.04 Natty

          Yet another bug fixed release is coming, but it is for Ubuntu 11.04 Natty only. If you don’t use Natty, you can just ignore it.

        • Ubuntu Hardware Issues Poll – Results

          Proving from this information, half of the voters still find issues with critical pieces of hardware – graphics cards, wireless cards, printers, and scanners. We shouldn’t be focusing our efforts on making the desktop look nice when you can’t even effectively use the desktop because of hardware support fallacies.

        • 2D Unity To Be Available As An Option In Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal [Screenshots]

          “Does Natty’s Unity require proprietary graphics card drivers?” was a question posted on AskUbuntu and who better to answer this question then Mark Suttleworth himself (who apparently is quite an active AskUbuntu user)? Mark answered that there will be a a 2D implementation of Unity, available in 11.04 as an option and posted a link to further info and screenshots but unfortunately the link cannot be accessed anymore.

        • Ubuntu 11.04 to get 2D Unity option
        • Flavours and Variants

          • Linux Mint Debian Edition 10: Rolling Release Nirvana

            We first looked at Linux Mint Debian Edition when it was released in September of last year. Just before Christmas, the Mint team released a new spin of the Debian Edition with features from Linux Mint 10 that’s better than ever.

            The first release of LMDE was a bit of an experiment. I think the Mint team wanted to see how much interest there was in a Debian-based release rather than Ubuntu-based. Answer? A lot. Or at least enough to merit a second take.

            [...]

            For Linux enthusiasts who like Debian but feel it could use a few additional touches, LMDE10 is exceptional.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • 1 second Linux boot!
    • Phones

      • Nokia/MeeGo

        • EPUB E-Rook Reader

          Eugeniy Meshcheryakov has released an E-Book Reader optimized for Nokia N900 with support for EPUB file format. The reader has library functionality, e-books on the device are automatically discovered using Maemo services.

        • Video: Cool as fek: Nokia N900 + MeeGo 1.1.8 + Xbox Media Centre (XMBC!)

          Now think about hooking this up to your TV, connecting it via BT remote, perhaps even an IR remote since it does have an IR app and IR receiver. BAM – pocketable media centre. This would be soooo great on a MeeGo phone or any MeeGo tablet.

      • Android

        • Tablet Battle to Heat Up, Prices to Fall in 2011

          Last week’s Consumer Electronics Show was indisputably dominated by tablets. Almost a year since Apple redefined portable computing with its iPad, competitors launched attempts to cut the Cupertino company’s lead. Taken together, the announcements at CES provide a much clearer picture of the likely evolution of the tablet market in 2011 and provide consumers a few tips on what to look for and when to buy.

    • Tablets

      • Microsoft’s Tablet Strategy and How Linux Compares

        Linux already works on ARM, and virtually every other architecture. Linux was designed for architecture portability and because it’s open, companies like Intel and IBM can work on optimizing the code for their platforms. This is one reason there is so much cross-architecture support.

      • Shogo, the tablet you can control, extend and hack

        Ability to install the software you want based on GNU/Linux in order to run Qt, C++ and HTML applications (See the developer documentation and forums)

      • A new Android tablet aimed at education

        A Canadian startup called mySpark Technologies is creating an Android tablet that sports a dual-core 1Ghz processor, and it’s aimed at educational institutions.

        The tablet slated to launch mid 2011, was solely designed with students and teachers in mind, and it will integrate with campus stores and libraries allowing students to download content and digital textbooks. Hopefully, at a dramatically discounted price.

      • CES 2011: A Tale of an Android Onslaught

        When you look at the wide range of tablets announced at CES, you have to try to break it down by differentiators. The first category is existing tablets running Android 2.2. This would include the Samsung Galaxy, which will soon have both a WiFi-only and a 4G-LTE model available. Then there is a group of devices that will release in the near future with Android 3.0. On the low end of the scale are any number of low-cost devices aimed at the price conscious consumer.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source distributors beyond the Thunderdome

    Besides, as previously noted, we do not dispute that the open source distributor approach will survive, or suggest that Red Hat will be the last man standing. But we do question whether any other vendors will achieve or better the scale achieved by Red Hat.

  • Report: Use savings of open source to develop new tools

    Public administrations should use the savings they realise by their use of generic free and open source applications, to pay for development of specialised IT solutions. “These resources could be used to pay for highly specialised tasks that are too special to attract the attention of the open source community. It will encourage the software companies that operate in this sector.”

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

  • Databases

    • New Cassandra comes with big data support

      Latest version of Apache’s open source distributed database can pack two billion columns into a row, which could be useful to big data cloud computing projects

  • Oracle

    • Libre Office VS Open Office – Looks And Stability

      Given time, the code bases may diverge, but at present, they are so close that there isn’t any substanial difference.

    • OpenOffice.org 3.3.0 RC9 arrives

      While Oracle had already released Oracle Open Office 3.3 in mid-December, the OpenOffice.org developers have only just issued the ninth release candidate for OpenOffice.org 3.3.0, the next major release of the Oracle owned open source office suite. According to the OpenOffice.org Wiki, this release candidate is expected to be the final development preview before the final version arrives. However, a final release date has yet to be confirmed.

    • The localization process changed into a continuous process

      The OpenOffice.org process has been changed into a continuous process which allows to provide l10n turnarounds cycles at every milestone. This process was presented at the OOoConf In Budapest: http://www.ooocon.org/index.php/ooocon/2010/paper/view/207 and is the outcome of Gregor Hartmann, Ivo Hinkelmann and Rafaella Braconi working on the so called “Continuous L10n” project.

  • CMS

    • A First Look At Diaspora – The Open Social Network

      Some people love Facebook, others hate it, and many have a little of both. It can be a great way to keep in contact with old friends and relatives, but it’s also a great way for third parties to harvest loads of free data that may not be used the way you want. Plenty of social sites have popped up over the years in the hopes of dethroning Facebook, but not many have had the goods, or really provided much that would entice a user to switch.

  • Education

    • An Education in Open Source

      The school relies on a text-to-speech program that allows teachers to scan a book and create audio files for students to listen to and take notes on. WordQ, SpeakQ, and Kurzweil Educational Systems’ Kurzweil 3000 lack open source licenses. However, Oracle’s free and open source OpenOffice.org provides word prediction, one of the features provided by the proprietary alternative, WordQ.

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • pfSense development in 2011

      Recently I contacted lead developers of different FreeBSD based projects and asked them about their development plans and ideas for 2011. Yesterday we looked at PC-BSD, let’s now see what the pfSense developers have in store.

      As most of you will be aware, pfSense is a free, open source customised version of FreeBSD tailored for use as a firewall and router. In addition to being a powerful, flexible firewalling and routing platform, it includes a long list of related features and a package system allowing further expandability without adding bloat and potential security vulnerabilities to the base distribution.

    • FreeBSD Foundation requesting project proposals (2011)

      The FreeBSD Foundation has requested proposals for potential funding. If you have any ideas how you can FreeBSD can be improved in 2011, why not submit you idea. In case you have no ideas but don’t mind getting paid for FreeBSD Development, have a look at the FreeBSD list of projects and ideas for volunteers.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Government

    • Open Source for America releases Federal Open Technology Report Card

      The results are in for U.S. agencies’ use of open source, thanks to a scorecard released today by Open Source for America. The Departments of Defense and Energy had the highest scores, largely due to the fact that they have “published agency-created software code as open source and provide clear guidance identifying open source as a permitted procurement option.”

      The survey of the federal departments included questions regarding public budgets, use of social media, and open source technologies practices. The Executive Summary states, “[t]he use of open formats, open source software, and open standards enables the government to make data freely available to the public for a variety of purposes, as well as to create programs that are more efficient and consumer-driven.”

    • Open Source for America Delivers Federal Report Card

      Ever since its inception, Open Source for America (OSFA) has had lofty goals and has been backed by some very heavy hitting people. Red Hat, Jaspersoft, Canonical’s Mark Shuttleworth, The Linux Foundation’s Jim Zemlin and many other companies and people back the organization, which is primarily aimed at encouraging the use of open source software at the U.S. Federal level. Now, the folks behind Open Source for America have published a Federal Open Technology Report Card that “evaluates key indicators of open government and open technologies developed through online crowd sourcing and refined metrics outlined by the OSFA leadership committee.” The report card includes questions and responses regarding public budgets, use of social media, and open source technology practices.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • European Commission Plans for All-Out War Against Sharing

      The European Commission just launched a new consulation on its disastrously dogmatic report on IPRED, a directive on the enforcement of intellectual property rights, adopted by the EU in 2004. The report — whose logic is similar to ACTA — is based on an analysis of the application of IPRED. It calls for the massive filtering of the Internet to tackle file-sharing: according to the Commission, Internet Service Providers (ISPs) should “cooperate” in the war against sharing to avoid the threat of litigation.

    • Open Data

      • Public Data Corporation: How Open, and How Public?

        Judging by the phrasing of that, it seems that the government hasn’t yet learned that open data is not an end itself, or something that can be bolted on to traditional government. It is actually part of a wider move towards a more transparent, collaborative form of democracy – and that implies seeking input from anyone interested before making major decisions. That’s particularly important for a body that calls itself the Public Data Corporation: we need to know just how open, and just how public it will really be.

      • What’s that coming over the hill, is it… the Public Data Corporation?

        A couple of days ago, there was a brief announcement from the UK Government of plans for a new Public Data Corporation, which would “bring together Government bodies and data into one organisation”.

    • Open Hardware

      • Open Source Your Rave with OpenLase

        Without a doubt, Laser Projectors are a great way to project large, bright images on any surface you can imagine. With a high enough quality projector and software package, excellent images and visualizations can be displayed in real time. [marcan], of the openkinect project, decided that there were not any open source laser projection packages out there that suited his wants or needs, so logically he decided to write his own. Because home-made laser projectors often use the audio out port of a PC, building the framework on top of the JACK unix sound software to control the hardware made perfect sense. OpenLase includes plugins for audio visualizations, 2D and 3D gaming, as well as converting video streams into laser format in real time.

  • Programming

    • Is Hand-Coding Becoming Obsolete?

      Increasingly, software developers are turning to a new approach for rapidly building robust database applications without programming — application generators. Today’s business environment demands managers find ways to do more with less, and application generation allows for building applications quickly and efficiently.

    • Why You Can’t Hire Great Perl Programmers

      It’s difficult to find great developers in almost any language, unless your language community is so small that it’s self-selecting against people just in it for a paycheck. (Even in that case, the truly great developers who know Haskell or Smalltalk or Common Lisp tend not to be in want of work for long.)

      In another sense, it’s difficult to hire great Perl developers because it’s so very easy to become a mediocre Perl developer. Despite the repeated myth that Perl 5 is difficult to learn, it’s not. It’s shockingly easy to learn just enough Perl 5 to build a working system. If you remember the mid to late ’90s at all, think back to all of the tiny little form scripts that you could FTP into a cgi-bin directory. Most weren’t worth using, due to various limitations, but real people learned just enough Perl 5 to write them.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • The march of WebM

      On Tuesday Google announced that it would be withdrawing support for the video standard h.264 from its Chrome browser in two months’ time. Back in June 2009 we covered the contortions that Google had gone through to use the open source video codec FFmpeg in Chrome to decode embedded videos without risking the wrath of the the owners of that standard, the MPEG LA h.264 patent pool. Essentially Google used FFmpeg but did not acquire a licence from the patent pool for FFmpeg itself, but instead for its Chrome browser. This was a cunning move but at the time it annoyed some around the open web standards community who felt – with some justification – that Google’s move was something of an ‘I’m alright Jack’ statement to the rest of them. Representatives of the Mozilla project who produce Firefox scalded Google on public lists, as reported in that previous post.

Leftovers

  • EU Report Warns of “Digital Dark Age” if Digitization of Cultural Heritage Left to Private Sector

    The European Union says its member states must do more to digitize Europe’s cultural heritage and not simply leave that work to the private sector. To do otherwise, suggests a recently commissioned report, could steer Europe away from a digital Renaissance and “into a digital dark age.”

  • Google Buys eBook Technologies – Possible Plans Leaked

    A company by the name of eBook Technologies has recently become part of the internet monster known as Google. ebook Technologies is aimed towards supplying “intelligent” reading devices and licenses technologies that enable publishing to be completely automated as well as control over content distribution.

  • Runet: Why the Russian internet doesn’t need the West

    Last month I visited Moscow to help chair the country’s first English speaking technology conference (TechCrunch Moscow) and was pleasantly surprised to discover a very self-contained and self-sufficient industry.

    The US technology giants, such as Google and Facebook, have a presence in the country, but unlike the majority of territories they have entered around the world, they have failed to dominate; Russian companies reign across search, social networking, digital media and email services.

  • Internet 2010 in numbers
  • What to Do When You Find Something Cool on the Internet: A Flowchart
  • First thoughts on Tunisia and the role of the Internet

    News from Tunisia looks good. For better or worse, many of us will be pondering the role that the Internet played or didn’t play in the events of the Jasmine Revolution. Below are some preliminary reflections, which, if you know me well, are likely to change by the end of next week!

    One thing to keep in mind is that revolutions will continue and Twitter won’t go away anytime soon. So, it’s reasonable to assume that there WILL be some new-media activity for any social or political turmoil. But correlation, as well all know, doesn’t always mean causation.

  • Tweeting tyrants out of Tunisia: the global Internet at its best

    Even yesterday, it would have been too much to say that blogger, tweeters, Facebook users, Anonymous, and Wikileaks had “brought down” the Tunisian government, but with today’s news that the country’s president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali has fled the country, it becomes a more plausible claim to make.

    Of course there was more to such demonstrations than some new technology. An individual act of desperation set off the last month of rioting, as a college-educated young man set himself on fire after police confiscated his unlicensed fruit and vegetable cart. Tunisia’s high unemployment rate, rampant corruption, and rising food prices added to the anger at Ben Ali’s 20+ year rule.

  • One tweet *can* change the world

    Knowing that I wanted to do more to help people in the developing world, I took Karl up on his challenge immediately—lending $100 to a group of women in Bolivia who wanted to start small businesses selling groceries.

    And I felt remarkable.

  • Science

    • Bright star on January 2011 evenings? It’s the planet Jupiter

      Do you see a bright ’star’ in the south to southwest sky at early evening on these January evenings? You’re really seeing a planet, Jupiter.

    • Science: Ugly fonts aid content memorization

      Having difficulty getting your message across? Try an uglier font.

      Perhaps because people learn better when it’s a struggle to do so, content written in difficult-to-read fonts is more readily remembered than content rendered in visually pleasing fonts, a group of researchers has found.

      Their seemingly counter-intuitive findings could interest computer user-interface specialists wishing to maximize the impact of their designs.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • The Unexpected Return of ‘Duck and Cover’

      A terrorist bomb is likely to be relatively small — possibly only a fraction of the Hiroshima bomb’s explosive power — and likely exploded at ground level. This means that the area totally destroyed by the explosion is likely to be much smaller than the area exposed to lesser damage or to fallout radiation (this nuclear weapons effects calculator from the Federation of Atomic Scientists will let you see the effect of different sized bombs burst at different heights). Because of this, Homeland Security people in the Obama Administration have been encouraging a duck-and-cover approach, followed by advice to “shelter in place” against fallout rather than trying to evacuate the area.

  • Cablegate

    • The First WikiLeaks Revolution?

      Tunisians didn’t need any more reasons to protest when they took to the streets these past weeks — food prices were rising, corruption was rampant, and unemployment was staggering. But we might also count Tunisia as the first time that WikiLeaks pushed people over the brink. These protests are also about the country’s utter lack of freedom of expression — including when it comes to WikiLeaks.

    • Confinement Conditions Update

      Due to the lack of response from the confinement facility, the defense, pursuant to the provisions of Rule for Courts-Martial (R.C.M.) 305(g), filed a request earlier today with the Garrison Commander to direct the release of PFC Bradley Manning from pretrial confinement. This request is based upon the fact that the confinement conditions currently being endured by PFC Manning are more rigorous than necessary to guarantee his presence at trial, and that the concerns raised by the government at the time of pretrial confinement are no longer applicable. Further steps to address PFC Manning’s confinement conditions will be taken, if necessary.

    • Song for Bradley Manning
    • NRC, RTL access 3,000 Wikileaks cables from The Hague

      Iran, Geert Wilders and the joint strike fighter are among the subjects covered in some 3,000 diplomatic cables from US officials in The Hague to Washington, the NRC reports on Friday.

      The NRC and RTL news were given access to the cables – part of the 250,000 cable Wikileaks collection – by Norwegian newspaper Aftenposten using a back door route.

    • A Media Intervention for Wikileaks

      EFF staff activist Rainey Reitman will be talking about the rights of online publishers and the perils of censorship during an outdoor rally for Wikileaks. This event is part of the global days of action called for by Wikileaks activists. There will be outdoor art projects as well as speakers.

    • Blacklisting WikiLeaks

      Peter King, Chair of the House Committee on Homeland Security, wants WikiLeaks placed on the Treasury Department’s blacklist in order to “strangle (its) viability,” by threatening, if not strangling, the viability of any person or company that dares to engage in any economic transaction with WikiLeaks or Assange. Conducting business, or providing any economic assistance to a blacklisted entity, even unknowingly, no matter how trivial, is a violation of federal law, for which you too may be blacklisted, losing access to all your property and interests in the U.S. (I’ve written previously about the blacklists here and here.)

      King is especially incensed that an American publisher, Knopf, has entered into a book deal with Assange (who is reportedly receiving over a million dollars for his memoir); and if he is now blacklisted, you could conceivably break the law merely by buying his book, or contributing to a WikiLeaks defense fund. In other words, King is not simply targeting Assange and Wikileaks; he is targeting all of us — every American citizen and company. In his view, even a paying consumer of information and ideas from WIkiLeaks or Assange is collaborating in terrorism.

      [...]

      Blacklisting is enabled by a network of federal statutes and executive orders, which requires study to begin to understand. (I doubt many members of Congress can explain it.) Complicated, obscure, and arbitrary, with an incredibly wide reach, this is a legal regime practically designed to be abused. It represents the politicization of law, for which both parties are responsible; and it’s a lot more tyrannical than health care reform.

    • John Pilger’s Investigation Into the War on WikiLeaks and His Interview With Julian Assange

      The attacks on WikiLeaks and its founder, Julian Assange, are a response to an information revolution that threatens old power orders in politics and journalism. The incitement to murder trumpeted by public figures in the United States, together with attempts by the Obama administration to corrupt the law and send Assange to a hell-hole prison for the rest of his life, are the reactions of a rapacious system exposed as never before.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • US environmental agency revokes mine’s permit for mountaintop removal

      The Obama administration has vetoed one of the biggest coal projects in the US in a historic decision against the destructive practice of mountaintop removal mining.

      The Environmental Protection Agency said it was revoking the permit granted to the Spruce Number One mine in West Virginia, which would have involved blasting the tops off mountains over more than 2,200 acres, because it would inflict “unacceptable” damage to surrounding valleys and streams.

    • Japanese team confident of cloning a mammoth

      Previous attempts to clone the mammoth have failed because nuclei in the cells were too badly damaged by ice crystals. But in 2008, Japanese scientists succeeded in cloning a mouse from cells which had been frozen for 16 years, raising hopes for the resurrection of the mammoth.

    • Borneo indigenous leaders arrested

      Police in Sarawak, in the Malaysian part of Borneo, have arrested two indigenous leaders for possession of ‘seditious materials’.

      The offices of the Sarawak Dayak Iban Association (SADIA) were raided and its secretary, Nicholas Mujah, arrested along with two others, while indigenous lawyer Abun Sui Anyit was arrested at a Sarawak airport last Thursday. The two men were held separately and questioned, then released on bail. Abun Sui Anyit was called for further questioning by police yesterday.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Interception Modernisation Programme

      That this House expresses its deep concern about the Government’s proposal, contained within the Strategic Defence and Security Review, to develop an interception modernisation programme; notes that such a programme would include a proposal to store every email, webpage visit and telephone call made in the UK for an unspecified period; further notes that the Home Office has previously estimated that sucha database would cost in the region of 2 billion to develop; believes that the development of an interception modernisation programme raises serious privacy, data storage and access concerns; and calls on the Government to issue a full public consultation on its proposals as soon as possible.

    • Facebook, the Control Revolution, and the Failure of Applied Modern Cryptography

      Fast forward to 2011, and the world is vastly more centralized than it ever was. Almost everyone’s most intimate conversations are held by four companies. And one company knows basically everything about everyone under 25.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Net Neutrality: Why It Matters

      The discussion about Net Neutrality continues to heat up. Over at LifeHacker, they asked “What Would You Miss Most if the Net Wasn’t Neutral Anymore?” One user responded with a comment that compared Cable TV to the Internet. Either I failed to understand his sarcasm, or he’s totally missing the point.

      Until recently, your cable company was just a transporter of someone else’s data — the TV networks. You paid extra for extra channels, which is fine with me, as your cable company is then paying the TV producers for the content. If paying my ISP meant all sites were then free to access, that might even be fine. But it won’t be, I’ll still be paying Netflix and my ISP.

    • The costly anti-piracy lesson Sony failed to learn from Microsoft

      Sony is in the news right now. It has taken several security researchers to court, after they released code circumventing the company’s digital rights management (DRM) technology. Unfortunately for Sony, this problem could have largely been avoided had it learned from Microsoft’s lessons.

    • The .wwf format in practice

      These were the reactions I got:

      1. My girlfriend wasn’t even able to open it, because the MIME-type wasn’t known in her Vista installation.
      2. I p*ssed off a very expensive consultant at work who ordered me to send a printable version or I’d have to look for another assignment.
      3. A colleague of mine who prints virtually everything sent it to another nerd colleague of mine who returned a printable version of the document using my “cracking” pages.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Megaupload to Copyright Critics: If We’re “Rogue” So is Google

        Says that Google is “probably hosts the world’s largest index of pirated content” and yet the site is “non-rogue,” and that we don’t blame Microsoft because people use its OS to transfer and “consume pirated content on a massive scale every day.”

      • Deep Linking Could Be Infringement In Germany If Website Puts Even Ridiculous Weak Attempts To Block It

        We’ve pointed out numerous problems with anti-circumvention rules, which make it infringement to break pretty much any attempt at circumventing any type of content protection measures (even if not to infringe on the copyright). Sometimes courts realize how silly this is, such as a ruling from a few years ago in Europe, which noted that it’s silly to consider such anti-circumvention rules reasonable if the technical protection measures are not considered “effective.” In other words, if your protection scheme is laughable, it’s silly to make it infringement to get around it. Apparently not all the courts in Europe have gotten this message yet. An anonymous reader points us to a case from a few months back in Germany, in which the court said that deep linking to content that had ridiculously weak measures to block deep-linking is still infringing (that link is a not so great Google translation of the original German — though, the submitter gave a more complete explanation).

Clip of the Day

Watch President Obama’s Full Speech at Tucson Memorial


Credit: TinyOgg

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