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01.17.11

Links 17/1/2011: Amarok 2.4 “Slipstream”, Firefox 4 for Qt4

Posted in News Roundup at 3:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Security on *NIX

    It seems as if most UNIX and Linux users honestly believe that they are secure from day one of installation/purchase. This is simply not true. Any network connected system stands the risk of attack, and beyond that any data transfer from an outside source to a non-network machine is also a risk. Beyond that, there are always exploits than can be done from the physical location. Preventing these attacks is not always easy or convenient, but in an increasingly risky metaverse-like world it is necessary. After all, your entire existence is verified through a computer database somewhere.

  • Linux Fund and anti-harassment policy

    What does an organization’s anti-harassment policy — or lack of one — say about it? Is a policy as meaningless as a mission statement, or does the willingness to have one reflect an organization’s values and how it operates? How an organization answers such questions can directly effect on how it is perceived, as well as its ability to operate, as a recent semi-public discussion about Linux Fund clearly shows.

    Linux Fund is a non-profit organization set up to distribute funds to free and open source software projects and events, chiefly through an affinity credit card program. A few years after it was founded in 1999, the organization became dormant. In 2005, Linux.com staff member Jay Lyman reported that funds were still being collected, and shortly afterwards, Linux Fund was reorganized by an entirely new group of directors.

  • Desktop

    • Huge Migration to Thin Clients

      Once most PCs in an organization run thin clients, it is much easier to migrate to GNU/Linux. If the protocol is RDP, they can just switch the server to run GNU/Linux and XRDP and they are on their way. Searches for “xrdp” are hot in Russia, Taiwan and Europe. Coincidence? I think not.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Eight Great Enlightenment Modules

      Awhile back I did a posting about useful/interesting Gnome Panel Applets. Of the late I’ve been featuring the Enlightenment desktop more and more so I figured it was only fitting that I do a post highlighting some of my favorite Enlightenment Modules.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Amarok 2.4 “Slipstream” Released

        It’s been a busy end of year for the Amarok developers, as the seasons bring the chilling winds of winter for some and the searing suns of the summer to others. Most of the big development branches have been merged, and a lot of new features were implemented. A major version is always a big step forward and it is with pride that we are here to bring you the release of Amarok 2.4, codename: Slipstream.

      • KDE 4.5.5 available for Mandriva 2010.1 and 2010.2 !!

        These packages also include kdepim 4.4.9 and other goodies. Please read his blog for the installation instructions as they are very detailed so it doesn’t make much sence to copy/paste them here.

      • KDE SC 4.6 RC1 – An INTELligent Update

        A few weeks ago, I wrote a post about the beta release of KDE SC 4.6. I lamented the regression that seemed to have occurred with kwin performance on my intel based graphics chip, whilst the performance on my NVIDIA based box had improved markedly.

    • GNOME Desktop

  • Distributions

    • Should you move to Arch Linux?

      Suppose that you have been using GNU/Linux for a number of months now. You had previously been using Windows or Mac OS X, but heard about the freedom, openness, and performance inherent to open source operating systems. More likely than not, you picked up an Ubuntu live CD (or one of numerous other new-user friendly distributions) and gave it a test run. If your case is anything like mine was, you found that this operating system ran faster off of a CD than your current operating system ran while installed! So you decided to install this “Linux” thing and worked through whatever bugs or trouble you may have encountered. That was it, you were sold!

      [...]

      After installing and using Arch Linux, you are guaranteed to have learned a lot about how your operating system works and what you can do to make it work exactly the way you want it to work.

    • Choose Your Distro according to the Zodiac! (PART II)

      This ends my list of Linux distros and BSD operating systems chosen according to the zodiac. I took the info on each OS from Distrowatch and the info on the zodiac signs from different sources online. So, next time you hear of a friend having trouble picking a distro, tell him/her to look at the stars! ^__^

    • How To Pick The Best Linux Distribution

      I think it really depends on what you’re looking for. Do you want a lot of flashbang in your desktop environment? Then perhaps going with a distro using KDE is a good approach. Something simpler and more straight forward with less option-overload? Consider GNOME or one of the other lightweight desktop options out there.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Ubuntu Tweak – The Ubuntu pimp

          If you are completely clueless about Linux, let Ubuntu Tweak be for a while. If you’re a hardcore user, you definitely do not need a frontend for your customizations. However, if you belong to a majority of intermediate users, Ubuntu Tweak is a very handy tool.

          It works as advertised, it’s fairly simple to navigate and use. The risks are relatively low, although a determined person will be able to inflict damage. Overall, Ubuntu Tweak can improve your Ubuntu desktop experience, especially if you use the tool with moderation, allowing time between tweaks and changes.

        • Ubuntu Unity 2D gets a PPA for Maverick and Natty testers

          The slick Unity 2D we told you about yesterday has now got a PPA for Ubuntu 10.10 and Ubuntu 11.04 users to test.

        • Ubuntu 11.04 Unity update adds new look launcher, more effect options and scrollwheel indicator support

          A few new features/options for Unity landed in the Ubuntu 11.04 alpha recently.

        • Unity 3D Gets New Experimental Options [Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal]

          As usual, here is a video with the latest Unity (build as of January 15th, 2011), showing these latest changes…

        • Ubuntu 11.04 Is Prepping For Mesa 7.10, X Server 1.10

          The Ubuntu X developers are getting ready to push the Mesa 7.10 graphics library and X.Org Server 1.10 into the Natty Narwhal repository for Ubuntu 11.04. Due to API/ABI breakage, this also results in new driver builds going into Natty, and for a period of time at least where the ATI Catalyst driver will no longer be compatible with the xorg-server (though the NVIDIA binary driver should properly support Linux 2.6.37 and xorg-server 1.10 right now).

        • Canonical’s Landscape should be cheaper

          This is a rounded, enterprise-aimed solution and its price tag mirrors this: £104.21 per desktop and £202.11 per server. Plus VAT (sales tax). In total I’d have to spend £1102.75 per year for six computers! For a one-man operation to small businesses or just somebody who wants to manage their home machines, this sort of price seems like a bit of a joke.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Buffalo launches first Pogoplug device with internal storage

      Buffalo Technology announced a web-accessible “Buffalo CloudStor” networked-attached storage (NAS) device for home users with up to 2TB of storage, based on Cloud Engines’ Linux-driven Pogoplug device. The company also announced a new series of “TeraStation Pro” NAS devices for small businesses that can scale from 4TB up to 24TB and run on a dual-core Intel Atom D510 processor.

    • Phones

      • Nokia/MeeGo

        • The N900- Why I chose Maemo over Android

          Being a Linux user, I’ve gotten used to having absolute control over my system, a system that’s created for hacking and experimenting, one that gives u power in the real sense of the word. I found all these and more in Maemo.

        • Dear Nokia, I was not completely right

          The view I actually hold now is that Nokia has a device that Apple will never match. Yes. Apple will never produce a device to match Nokia’s N900 running the legendary Maemo OS. It’s not that Apple can’t produce the hardware or software, it’s that it’d be against their business strategy.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Tablets WIll Not Finish Off Netbooks in 2011

        Despite eWeek and others touting the idea that the netbook is dead, I hold that netbooks will survive and thrive in 2011. The reasons are many:

        * A physical keyboard can be better than a touch keyboard: tactile feedback matters. That’s why we still teach “touch” typing.
        * You can add touch to a netbook.
        * Tablets with slide-out keyboards are here. Are they netbooks version 2?
        * A netbook with GNU/Linux + ARM beats that other OS any day.
        * Prices of netbooks are still falling.

      • Motorola XOOM Makes iPad Look Like A Toy

        XOOM makes iPad look like a toy as the Linux-powered device has a bigger screen, dual core processor, the newest operating system, faster network and two cameras.

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Google Apps contracts promise no ‘scheduled downtime’

    Google has updated the contracts for its Google Apps suite so that they no longer make allowances for scheduled maintenance, and that any downtime – no matter how small – will be counted and applied to the customer’s agreement.

  • Thin clients and the cloud: how ARM beat x86 to the punch

    On the first day of CES, I dropped by the Qualcomm booth looking for ARM-based smartbooks to try out. As I poked and prodded the Lenovo Skylight, I pulled out my Nexus One and dropped it on top of the unit for a size reference so that we could snap picture of it. As I stood there looking at the phone laying on top of the smartbook and contemplating the fact that both of these (Android-based) devices had 1GHz, ARM-based Snapdragon processors in them, I glanced across the booth and spotted an ARM-based game console sitting right next to the ARM-based iRex Iliad e-reader. And then there was the portable media player (PMP) positioned not far away… then it really sunk in: smartphone, netbook, e-reader, PMP, game console—all popular consumer electronic categories with real computing needs and a huge audience, and all on ARM right now.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Deadly Spin Strikes a Chord

      The sad story of Nataline Sarkisian is pivotal in Wendell Potter’s new book, Deadly Spin, because it was the event that transformed Potter from corporate flak to a human being with a heart. Potter worked as Cigna’s highly-paid vice president of public relations, and after living through the Sarkisian PR nightmare, he decided that he no longer had the intestinal fortitude to remain an advocate for America’s uniquely cruel system of doling out health care funding.

    • Rite Aid Healthwashes Cigarette Sales

      Rite Aid not only knows cigarettes cause heart disease, but has taken steps to inoculate itself against legal claims arising from that fact. Drug store chains, like Rite Aid, Walgreens and others that sell cigarettes, sign indemnification agreements with tobacco companies to protect against lawsuits that could arise from knowing selling cigarettes, a product that, when used as intended, kills the user.

    • Wendell Potter: The Deadly Spin on Health Care Repeal

      Insurers helped finance the “government takeover” fear-mongering campaign not because they wanted the law repealed but because they hoped it would enable the GOP to regain at least one chamber of Congress. They fare much better when Republicans are in control. They also are not too worried about the challenges to the law’s constitutionality because insurers had a hand in writing the individual mandate provision to ensure that it could ultimately withstand a court challenge.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • As Tunisians tear ousted strongman’s picture from buildings; gunbattles erupt in several areas

      Major gunbattles erupted outside the palace of Tunisia’s deposed president, in the center of the capital, in front of the main opposition party headquarters and elsewhere on Sunday as authorities struggled to restore order and the world waited to see if the North African nation would continue its first steps away from autocratic rule.

      Police arrested dozens of people, including the top presidential security chief, as tensions appeared to mount between Tunisians buoyant over Zine El Abidine Ben Ali’s departure and loyalists in danger of losing major perks.

    • Army’s “Spiritual Fitness” Test Comes Under Fire
    • The Army’s Religious Test

      Non-religious soldiers say the test’s spiritual component asks questions written predominantly for soldiers who believe in God, leading atheists and other non-believers to score poorly and be forced to take remedial courses which employ religious imagery to “train” troops up to a satisfactory level of spirituality.

  • Cablegate

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Global Oil Production Update and EIA Data Changes

      Global crude oil production in 2010 has been benefiting from two factors. One, the financial collapse and reduced global oil demand of 2008-2009 reduced pressure on supply, and allowed for projects to come on stream. Second, 2010 average oil prices were the second highest ever, at $79.48 per barrel. That particular price is just high enough for the world to fight decline, from existing fields. However, as you can see in the chart, with only two more months of data yet to come through on 2010 it’s a near certainty that–for a fifth year in a row–global oil production will come in below the peak year of 2005.

  • Finance

    • Schedule for Week of January 16th
    • U.S. Bills States $1.3 Billion in Interest Amid Tight Budgets

      As if states did not have enough on their plates getting their shaky finances in order, a new bill is coming due — from the federal government, which will charge them $1.3 billion in interest this fall on the billions they have borrowed from Washington to pay unemployment benefits during the downturn.

    • State Budgets: Year Ahead Looms As Toughest Yet

      States that already have raided their reserve funds, relied on borrowing or accounting gimmicks, and imposed deep cuts on schools, parks and public transit systems no longer can protect key services in the face of another round of multibillion dollar deficits.

    • State and Local Budget Update
    • Stricter Lending Guidelines for Condos

      STELLAR credit and steady income will go a long way in helping borrowers secure a home mortgage, but they may not be enough when it comes to buying or refinancing in certain condominium buildings.

    • Arbitration, Litigation, Aggravation

      WHEN investors file complaints against their brokers, the matters are almost always heard by an arbitration panel rather than by a judge or jury. Arbitration forums like those run by the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority typically adjudicate cases more quickly than the courts and less expensively, because costs associated with discovery and extensive legal filings are minimized if not eliminated.

    • Early Social Security Projections

      Well, it turns out that Table 9 in the 1945 report (pdf) shows high and low estimates of the population distribution looking forward as far as 2000, which we can compare with the actual population distribution in 2000.

      What you can see right away is that the SSA expected a much smaller population than we actually ended up with — the baby boom and immigration weren’t anticipated. But they also expected a somewhat older population than we actually got: their “low” estimate put the ratio of seniors to adults under 65 at 20.8%, almost the same as the actual 21.1%, while the “high” estimate put the ratio at 29.1%. That is, in 1945 the Trustees thought that America would probably be a grayer, older country by 2000 than it actually ended up being.

    • Camden, NJ braces for deep police, fire cuts

      Yet another crisis is upon this burdened city, among the most impoverished and crime-ridden in the country.

    • Small Business Lending Fund getting mixed reviews from bankers

      While Cardinal closed more loans in December than any other month, Clineburg can attest to an overall lull in demand for credit. He suspects that some small businesses are still trying to regain their footing.

    • Utopian Thinking on Jobs and Unemployment at the Washington Post

      Fox on 15th went Utopian on its readers today, ridiculing the suggestion by James Galbraith to temporarily lower the age at which workers can receive full Social Security benefits to 62. The plan, which also was put forward in a bill by Representative Dennis Kucinich, would pull some number of older workers out of the labor force and thereby create more jobs for unemployed younger workers.

    • Solar Panel Maker Moves Work to China

      But now the company is closing its main American factory, laying off the 800 workers by the end of March and shifting production to a joint venture with a Chinese company in central China. Evergreen cited the much higher government support available in China.

    • Is Law School a Losing Game?

      In reality, and based on every other source of information, Mr. Wallerstein and a generation of J.D.’s face the grimmest job market in decades. Since 2008, some 15,000 attorney and legal-staff jobs at large firms have vanished, according to a Northwestern Law study. Associates have been laid off, partners nudged out the door and recruitment programs have been scaled back or eliminated.

    • Goldman Sachs: “We Consider Our Size An Asset That We Try Hard To Preserve”

      To great fanfare, this week Goldman Sachs unveiled the report of its Business Standards Committee, which makes recommendations regarding changes for the internal structure of what is currently the 5th largest bank holding company in the United States. Some of the recommended changes are long overdue – particularly as they address perceived conflicts of interest between Goldman and its clients.

    • What Goldman Sachs Failed to Acknowledge

      To great fanfare, this week Goldman Sachs introduced the report of its business standards committee, which makes recommendations regarding changes to the internal structure of what is currently the fifth-largest bank-holding company in the United States. Some recommended changes are long overdue – particularly as they address perceived conflicts of interest between Goldman and its clients.

    • Goldman Sachs, Business Standards and the Critics

      Goldman, Sachs & Co.’s release of its 67-page report of its business standards committee on proposed internal changes in practice has been met with skepticism — with one exception. The Wall Street Journal Wednesday chose to interpret it as a sign that investment banking is making a comeback at the firm. The report “showed how Goldman is trying to reassert the traditional primacy of deal making while playing down the firm’s recent reliance on trading. One of the bigger reasons why: Trading caused most of the turmoil, suspicion and reputational damage suffered by Goldman since the financial crisis erupted.”

    • The Financial Times Vindicates BoomBustBlog’s Stance On Goldman Sachs – Once Again!
    • Vincent McCrudden, CEO Of Alnbri Management, Arrested For Threatening To Kill Members Of SEC, FINRA And CFTC

      Yet another person appears to have flipped out, and attracted the government’s attention, this time luckily without any actual casualties. Curiously the target of the latest FBI arrest is not some insane gun toting troglodyte, but a 20 year Wall Street veteran: Vincent McCrudden of Alnbri Management. Presumably the reason for the arrest is that the commodities trader had threatened to kill 47 members of the SEC, CFTC and Finra in a post on his website.

    • Revisiting the rights and responsibilities of business

      A short-term focus on shareholder gains has substantially increased the velocity of stock market trading. In the past 25 years, holding periods for stocks have fallen from eight years to six months. CEOs focusing on meeting the demands of short-term investors have led to the destruction of many once-great companies, including General Motors, Sears and Enron. This culminated in the 2008 global financial meltdown, when over-leveraged financial institutions collapsed as they tried to maximize short-term value.

    • The Stakes Are Huge: There’s Another Bank Crash Looming, and We Must Prevent Another Bailout

      Everything I am reading these days on financial issues points to some serious reckoning soon to come, especially because of — as the folks at Third Way are calling it — foreclosure-gate. The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruling in the Ibanez case, along with a growing body of cases where the banks and/or their servicers have been ruled against in foreclosure cases, and even the banks’ lawyers are being castigated in court by judges for bringing in made-up paperwork, is causing a growing sense of panic among the biggest banks that hold the most mortgages. Spokespeople for the banks are talking bravely, trying to dismiss the situation as some minor paperwork errors, but everyone who has been paying attention to the situation fears that there are really big consequences afoot.

    • Dr. Martin Luther King’s Economics: Through Jobs, Freedom

      Martin Luther King Jr. was working hard to get people to Washington, DC. But when he told an audience, “We are going to bring the tired, the poor, the huddled masses. We are going to bring those who have known long years of hurt and neglect…. We are coming to ask America to be true to the huge promissory note that it signed years ago,” the year was not 1963, and his issue was not segregation. Instead, it was 1968, five years after his “I Have a Dream” speech, and now the issue was joblessness and economic deprivation. King was publicizing a new mass mobilization led by the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, a drive known as the Poor People’s Campaign.

    • Structural Unemployment in America and Liebig’s Law

      HSBC has released a fanciful report this week that forecasts a trebling of world economic growth between now and the year 2050. It’s a reminder that most in the global financial community, informed by neo-classical economics or Abundance Economics, do not understand limits to the system.

    • Peak California Budget? Or Brown-ian Motion?

      The headline out of California this week is that second-time-around Governor Jerry Brown has delivered a tough-love budget, one designed to make everyone equally miserable.

    • What Does Wikileaks Have on Bank of America?

      BofA doesn’t just want you to know that their CEO Brian Moynihan doesn’t suck, they want you to know that their top staff does not suck either. The bank has started buying damaging domain names for a long list of executives, prompting many to wonder: just what have those executives been up to over there at BofA?

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Political Rhetoric, Before and After Arizona

      Jesse Kelly, a former Marine, Iraq war veteran and Gabrielle Giffords’ Republican opponent in last November’s election, ran a campaign that used gun imagery as its main eye-catching visual. Several of Kelly’s campaign ads show him brandishing an M-16 automatic rifle with the slogan, “Send a Warrior to Congress.” A print ad for one of his fundraising events reads, “Sat., 6/12/10, 10:00 AM – Get on Target for Victory in November Help remove Gabrielle Giffords from office Shoot a fully automatic M16 with Jesse Kelly.” Kelly’s spokesman, John Ellinwood, naivley claims he doesn’t see any connection between promoting fundraisers featuring weapons and the public shootings in Tucson.

    • ‘Beat You to a Pulp,’ Says Cowardly Delegate

      The same PR Society Assembly delegate who verbally assaulted this reporter and threatened physical harm while I was standing in front of the Washington Hilton Oct. 16, 2010, has sent me a letter saying he might “beat you to a pulp.”

    • Awful PR for the Public Relations Society of America

      O’Dwyer also reports other harassment while attempting to attend the conference, like getting an anonymous letter in which the writer threatened to beat him “to a pulp,” and being set upon by a flash-mob while he was conducting an interview. O’Dwyer has criticized PRSA for withholding transcripts of their organizational assemblies over the last five years, concealing the names of their delegates and refusing to make available a PDF version of their members’ directory. O’Dwyer has also exposed techniques now in wide use by big PR firms that violate PR ethics, like working through front groups and creating and disseminating fake news.

    • “Power Balance” Wristbands: Rubber Bands with a Big Marketing Budget

      But on December 22, 2010, the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission ruled that claims that the bracelets improve strength, balance and flexibility “were not supported by any credible scientific evidence,” and made Power Balance admit that it engaged in “misleading and deceptive conduct in breach of 2.52 of the Trade Practices Act of 1974.”

    • Slap on the wrist for Power Balance bracelets

      Skirting the line between truth, fiction and a bitch slap from the advertising regulator – the ongoing Power Balance bracelets scenario is a great case study in finely crafted messaging, of the art of spin, and discipline in damage-control PR.
      Power Balance of Orange County, California, may or may not make a band that makes you stronger and more flexible, but it certainly is a fine example of consistency power and messaging flexibility.

      Let’s backtrack a bit. Power Balance is the makers of R500+ rubber bracelets with a hologram inset, “are designed to work with your body’s natural energy field” to increase strength, balance and flexibility.

    • Closure of Fiji Water Facility Should Be Permanent

      “Bottled water company Fiji Water has pulled out of Fiji after the government imposed a tax of 15 Fiji cents per liter on the water, up from just one-third of a cent per liter. While Fiji Water’s announcement may be posturing at this point in protest of the tax, the closure should be permanent. Fiji Water exports bottled water to the U.S., which enjoys clean and safe water from the tap, while half of Fijians lack access to safe water. There is something wrong with this picture.

    • ‘Podbuster’ Ads, Calculated To Make You Hit Pause

      Call it smart advertising — or bad boundaries. You may have noticed a spike in the number of TV commercials designed to look and feel like whatever show you’re watching. They’re called podbusters, DVR busters or interstitial ads, and they’re designed to remove viewers’ fingers from the fast-forward button during blocks — or “pods” — of ads.

      The advent of TiVo and similar devices can be thanked for the rise of the podbusters. About 40 percent of households have DVRs — meaning 40 percent of households can easily zip past commercials. Think of podbusters as speed bumps for ads.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Don’t Make An App That Shows You ‘Drinking’ Liquid From Your Phone, Or One Company Might Sue You

      A few years back, we wrote about how indie iPhone app developer Hottrix had sued beer giant Coors for making a competing beer app. Hottrix, of course, makes various gimmicky apps that make your iPhone look like it is full of some sort of liquid that “drains out” as you tilt the device to make it look like you’re “drinking” from the phone. They’re pretty silly, but some people have liked them and were actually willing to give Hottrix money for them. One of Hottrix’s apps was iBeer. Coors created their own beer drinking app, called iPint, and offered it for free. That’s when Hottrix sued. I can’t find any information on what happened to that lawsuit. After it was filed nothing much seems to have happened. Perhaps it was settled out of court?

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