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01.27.11

Links 27/1/2011: Release of Sabayon Linux 5.5, Fedora 14 for IBM System z 64-bit

Posted in News Roundup at 2:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • The Audacity of Carla Schroder

    In this exclusive Linux Pro Magazine interview, tell-it-like-it-is, Linux Today editor Carla Schroder talks about her latest book, The Book of Audacity , shares facts about herself you won’t find anywhere else, a peek into her current projects, and offers advice for women on making their own paths, encouraging children, and more.

  • Server

    • Linux vs Windows Hosting Servers

      When you’re looking at hosting options, especially for a virtual private server or dedicated server, you have a choice between Windows hosting or Linux hosting. The reference to Windows or Linux is to the operating system that is used on the server or on the virtual private server. So you might be wondering which one is better.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Podcast Season 3 Episode 2

      In this episode: Ubuntu is going to bundle Qt libraries with its base install. Google will no longer bundle H.264 with Chrome and Firefox 4 will only have limited hardware acceleration. Share our discoveries, try XFCE, and listen to your own conversion stories in our Open Ballot.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Amarok Insider – Issue 16

        In This Issue

        * What’s New in Amarok
        * Google and Amarok
        * Roktober Success
        * Interview with a Developer: Bart Cerneels
        * Automated Playlist Generator: How to Use it
        * Queue Manager in Amarok
        * Installing and using a script in Amarok
        * Amarok on Windows
        * Transcode your media files
        * Amarok Live CD

  • Distributions

    • Sabayon – PackageKit, the Other GUI

      Alright, some of you are out there mumbling and grumbling about Sulfur, the gui front-end to entropy. The largest complaint I see is how slow it is on start up and even slow operations after it is up and running. I personally don’t see this issue. It takes a bit for it to start up, but don’t see it any worse than starting up firefox. There is an alternative to using Sulfur and it’s called PackageKit.

    • Interactive GNU/Linux distro timeline

      An absolutely massive interactive HTML-based graphic shows the timeline of your favorite Linux distributions. With the left side presenting 1992′s Debian, Redhat, and SLS, it shows how the various distributions we know today came into existence. Follow the lines to the right as they branch into CentOS, Fedora, Tinfoil Hat, Knoppix, Freespire, and many many more. Click on each name to be taken to the home site for that selected distribution.

    • Lin4Neuro: a customized Linux distribution ready for neuroimaging analysis

      A variety of neuroimaging software packages have been released from various laboratories worldwide, and many researchers use these packages in combination. Though most of these software packages are freely available, some people find them difficult to install and configure because they are mostly based on UNIX-like operating systems.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • LCA 2011: Travelling far and wide to spread the Debian gospel

        It’s a long way from the cold boulevards of Paris to the searing heat of Brisbane but Stefano Zacchiroli has spent the 20-odd hours needed to make the trip because he wants to tell people in the FOSS community about the vital role that the Debian GNU/Linux Project still has to play.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • The New X Stack Is Going Into Ubuntu 11.04

          For those following closely the development of Ubuntu 11.04, in the process of going into the Ubuntu Natty repository this week is its new X stack. This means the latest snapshot of the unreleased X Server 1.10 and Mesa 7.10 for the open-source DRI / Gallium3D drivers. Due to the usual API/ABI breaks, this also means updated X.Org drivers are also going into the “Natty Narwhal” repository at the same time.

        • Full Circle – Special Edition #01 – The Perfect Server

          Yes, the cover looks familiar, but don’t worry, inside are many pages of Ubuntu 9.10 goodness.

        • Ubuntu 11.04′s Unity: What’s new

          Since Unity has been introduced in Ubuntu 10.10 Netbook Edition, there have been many changes in it just since 10.10′s release. The switch from Mutter to Compiz is one example: Compiz, unlike Mutter, has more animations and other effects that allow some incredible things like autohiding of the Unity Launcher, Launcher transparency, and familiar things like the world-famous desktop cube enabled by other Compiz plugins that can run alongside Unity (also a Compiz plugin).

        • Other Distros May Adopt Ubuntu Software Center

          Samuel: We already agreed that we would like the current Ubuntu Software Center to be improved and used in various distributions. If this happens, then we will have the same software center in many distributions, but this doesn’t mean that the available applications have to be exactly the same in every distribution. There are no plans to merge software repositories for now, nor package managers.

        • Ubuntu’s Warm and Fuzzy Qt Embrace

          After all, there’s been Canonical’s decision to adopt Unity as the next desktop Ubuntu’s default interface, and there’s been the equally shocking plan to switch away from X.org and onto Wayland as the distro’s new graphics system. And that’s on top of a raft of smaller but still significant changes!

          Well, one can only hope Ubuntu fans have been taking their vitamins lately, because recently word got out that yet another big change is planned. Specifically, future versions of Ubuntu — post-Natty Narwhal, that is — will incorporate the Qt user interface libraries; they may, in fact, even include applications based on Qt.

        • Flavours and Variants

          • Preview: Bodhi Linux 0.1.4 Beta

            I’ve been reading a lot of good things about Bodhi Linux recently. It’s a young (just a few months old) Ubuntu-based distribution that exclusively uses the Enlightenment E17 WM. (The name is appropriate because Prince Siddartha (later to be known as the Buddha) achieved enlightenment under a bodhi tree.) I’ve used GNOME, KDE, Openbox, and a bit of LXDE, Xfce, and Fluxbox, but I’ve never used Enlightenment before, so this is a totally new experience to me. Plus, not only is Bodhi Linux in beta at version 0.1.4, even Enlightenment itself, after over a decade of development, is still in beta at version 0.17 (hence E17); the release of E17 after E16 (Enlightenment 0.16) was a huge deal for its users. It’s a good thing that it’s built on a familiar Ubuntu base, or else I’d be totally lost. I made a live USB of this with UnetBootin and went on my way, so follow the jump to see how this experience goes.

          • [New release of] Greenie Linux
  • Devices/Embedded

    • And It Came To Pass, The Tiny ARMed PC

      This thing is pocket-sized but it’s not a mobile thingie, it’s a desktop PC. CompuLab has been making industrial controllers and such using x86 but lately it is going with ARM. No doubt they like the performance per cubic centimetre/dollar.

      I was expecting things like this to appear in the fall but these guys plan on shipping in April. No prices yet… If they can undercut eeeBox, we should have some competition in this space. Good.

    • Tiny Tegra-based computer touted as open ARM development platform

      CompuLab announced a 5.1 x 3.7 x 0.6-inch computer built around the dual-core, 1GHz Nvidia Tegra 2 processor, designed as an open platform for ARM software development, among other uses. Claimed to run on only three Watts, the “Trim-Slice” features 1GB RAM, dual SDHC slots, a SATA SSD, dual-head HDMI/DVI, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth, plus gigabit Ethernet, USB, and serial connectivity.

    • Navigation SoCs will adopt ARM Cortex cores

      CSR plc announced a “major licensing agreement” with ARM that will result in the former’s GPS receivers being integrated with the latter’s IP (intellectual property). The “location-aware” SoC (system on chip) platforms will include application processors with Cortex-A5 and Cortex-A9 cores, according to the companies.

    • Phones

      • Nokia/MeeGo/Maemo

        • Is Nokia planning to enter the tablet market with MeeGo?

          Over the past few months, there have a lot of potential iPad competitors entering (or preparing to enter) the market. The most common are Android-based tablets running either the current/recent Android releases or models that will ship with Google’s tablet-optimized Honeycomb release. There’s also a couple of new platforms on the horizon including RIM’s PlayBook and HP’s upcoming webOS tablets (along with potential webOS netbooks).

      • Android

        • Android trumps Apple, every time

          Given the choice of an Apple iOS or and Android powered device, my choice is clear.

          At the risk of sounding like a “hater” – I won’t be buying an iPad.

          I know all the cool kids have iPads but I really don’t want one. I’m also tired of hearing how “awesome” the iPad is. It’s just a tablet PC, for goodness sake. The way some people carry on you’d swear the iPad was the equivalent of finding a cure for cancer or brokering world peace.

          Of course the iPad looks cool. That’s what Apple does best: Apply their excellent design and marketing skills to relatively standard pieces of technology. No matter how cool it is, it is not enough to convince me to become an Apple disciple, which is what most Apple users quickly become.

        • Google has forked Android

          The last thing I wanted to see was Android to split into two “official” versions. Well, guess what, for all intents and purposes that’s what’s happened. Ack!

          It’s bad enough that Android has multiple current versions. Then, Xavier Ducrohet, Android SDK (Software Development Kit) Tech Lead, announced “Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) is a new version of the Android platform that is designed from the ground up for devices with larger screen sizes, particularly tablets.”

        • Preliminary Android 3.0 SDK reveals new delights

          The Google-sponsored Android project has released a preview software developers kit (SDK) for the tablet-oriented Android 3.0 (“Honeycomb”). In the process, it has revealed many more details about Android 3.0, including a revamped “holographic” UI, redesigned keyboard, a new animation framework and graphics engines, and enhanced Bluetooth support — among many other changes.

        • An NXP App For Android

          If you are an engineer and own an Android phone, you can keep a close eye on NXP products through this new app.

          The app allows users to search, buy and share information on over 10,000 products from NXP’s High Performance Mixed Signal and Standard Products portfolio.

        • Android, open source and ZTE conquer world with entry-level phones

          Android as an open platform is continuing to spread its wings far and wide and keeping sure that the smartphone is en route to becoming the standard. By 2015, it may be time to drop the “smart” and just call them phones.

          We have already seen own-brand handsets and cheaper models particularly from the likes of Chinese manufacturers ZTE and Huawei. TechEye has previously reported that ZTE, with its affordable mobile phones and aggressive strategy for going global, is on the way to world domination. Juniper Research agrees: “Pricing of smartphones will come down to $80 by 2015,” analyst Anthony Cox says. With the internet widely regarded as not just a privilege but a right, it makes sense: mobile browsing in emerging markets can be sold on the cheap.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • My Triple-boot Netbook…No More

        In July last year, I wrote about my little netbook Toshiba NB-100. Even though it originally came with Windows XP preinstalled, I forced Redmond’s OS to make room for SimplyMepis 8.0. That’s how my dual-boot computer was born.

        Sometime later, encouraged by the stability of Mepis and the flexibility of Linux, I went for a bolder move and installed Mepis 8.5 as well. I then had a triple-boot computer!! Oh, I was so proud of it!

        Back in those days, I was happy to experiment with Linux. In fact, I seldom booted XP. Little by Little, XP moved away from the center and became more like a storeroom on my netbook. I didn’t wipe that system out because of nostalgic reasons. Besides, the thought “if something goes wrong with Linux, you can boot Windows” was still present in my mind.

        Bullseye! At least in part. Something went wrong with Linux! This was something that both Mepis 8.0 and Mepis 8.5 brought about…

Free Software/Open Source

  • What Factors Justify the Use of Apache Hadoop?

    The question posed at this week’s San Francisco Hadoop User Group is a common one: “what factors justify the use of an Apache Hadoop cluster vs. traditional approaches?” The answer you receive depends on who you ask.

    Relational database authors and advocates have two criticisms of Hadoop. First, that most users have little need for Big Data. Second, that MapReduce is more complex than traditional SQL queries.

  • Events

    • LFNW 2011, Call for Presenters, Exhibitors, Sponsors

      The LinuxFest Northwest organizers are pleased to request proposals for exhibits and presentations for the 2011 Fest! Attendee participation is important to the success of the Fest. Thanks to sponsors and exhibitors the event is free to attendees again this year. Thank you for your support!

    • Texas Linux Fest Seeks Koha Guru

      The first Texas Linux Fest was, by most measures, a success.

      Personally, I attended as a voyeur…attending many of the talks and I caught Joe Brockmeier’s keynote. Something I enjoyed throughly. I also messed around and learned some things…both about Linux and the people that breath the rarefied air at the top.

    • LinuxFest Northwest 2011: Calls for Exhibits and Presentations

      LinuxFest Northwest, which will be held in Bellingham, Washington from April 30 through May 1, is calling for exhibit and presentation proposals.

    • Linux.Conf.Au – Day Three

      Wednesday opened with Geoff Huston from APNIC presenting on Internet Address Exhaustion, and how it presents a real and present threat to the openness of today’s Internet. Geoff walked the audience through the history of the internet, and covered some of the barriers to IPv6 adoption. Geoff then discussed how without open addressing there’s no open network, and detailed how the current environment provides little incentive for the very big internet players who have benefited from the initial openess of the Internet to maintain that openness when it levels the playing field for their competition. Geoff’s vision of the IP apocolypse was a bleak one, with only one viable solution left – to alter our environment to favour the rapid adoption of IPv6.

    • SambaXP 2011 conference call for papers

      Organised by German information security and data protection specialist SerNet, the 10th international Samba conference, Samba eXPerience 2011 will take place in Göttingen, Germany from the 9th to the 11th of May.

  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle

    • OpenOffice.org 3.3 New Features
    • OpenOffice.org 3.3 Released to Deaf Ears
    • LibreOffice – A beginning

      If you’re a person inclined toward free software, your automatic reaction toward LibreOffice will be a positive one. You will also rebel against Oracle and find it a cold, cruel, merciless corporation. But please don’t, the first part, at least.

      Least of all, LibreOffice needs your approval. What it needs is support and criticism. The splitting from Oracle is an excellent opportunity to make it a so much better product. Yesmanning it won’t do here, I’m afraid. You should be objective and harsh, if needs be, so that LibreOffice can learn from existing mistakes and grow into a powerful and modern competitor for the office suite market.

    • Linux, Open Source & Ubuntu: LibreOffice 3.3 Suite Advances While Staying True to OpenOffice Roots

      In September 2010, a third of OpenOffice.org developers (about 20) objected to the open-source office suite falling under the custodianship of Oracle after the company completed its buyout of Sun Microsystems. They feared that Oracle wouldn’t provide whole-hearted support to an open-source application project that didn’t significantly contribute to its bottom line. They created the Document Foundation and forked the office suite code to create another open-source suite they dubbed LibreOffice. A little more than four months later, the developers unveiled on Jan. 25 a stable release of their first product, LibreOffice 3.3 (the numbering sequence conforms to the OpenOffice product chronology). The developers spent the time adding new features as well as extensively cleaning up portions of the the legacy code, said Italo Vignoli, one of the founding members of the Document Foundation. Previous OpenOffice fans will appreciate that LibreOffice 3.3 looks very similar to OpenOffice 3.3 and that many of the new features are also new in OpenOffice. But there are also a number of key differences that set the two open-source suites apart. The installer file is available on libreoffice.org, as well as a “help pack” executable, which contains the English language help files. Not installing the help pack means users end up in the documents section on the LibreOffice Website. If Java is not installed on the system, the application returns an error, but the installer doesn’t perform that check. So check that Java is installed before running the installer. Here are a few new features and cleanups that eWEEK found noteworthy.

    • Five things I love about LibreOffice 3.3

      It’s only been a few months since the Document Foundation fork of OpenOffice.org was announced, and here they are with the first stable release of LibreOffice. The 3.3 release isn’t a huge leap away from OpenOffice.org, but it does have some features that make it worth the switch.

      There’s a long list of new features for the 3.3 release, but a couple stand out above the rest for me.

    • Yes We Can

      Yesterday the Document Foundation has released LibreOffice 3.3 . I guess you may already have seen the news if you read this blog. I wanted to express my joy and my pride of our community who made this release possible. Not only did we make our first release, but we also showed everyone we could improve the software in a significant way. This is just a beginning as you can imagine. In addition, we have now published our short term roadmap (stay tuned for our other releases of February, March and May) and announced our will to work along time-based releases.

    • Office Automation Suites, Interoperability and Migrations

      As promised we are finally organizing an Open Source Focus Group meeting to talk about office automation suites, interoperability and migrations.

    • Finally, Java That We Knew Is Dead!

      Java seems to be joining the community/open source versions of OpenSolaris and OpenOffice as they slide under the butcher’s knife.

      The day ASF decided to quit the Java Executive Committee, Java’s distance with the community started to broaden. Unfortunately, Oracle took a U-Turn from its previous stand on Test Compatibility Kits (TCKs). When Java was under Sun, Oracle was pushing Sun lift restrictions from Java but the day Oracle acquired Java, it also acquired Sun’s stand on TCKs.

      Oracle’s stand on TCKs has made it clear that the only reason Oracle wanted Sun to lift TCK restrictions was to gain access to it, there weren’t any concern for the community.

      Oracle doesn’t need the community. It’s one of the hard-core enterprise centric proprietary companies, which is also known to be ruthless. The company was recently sued by the US government for overcharging the government itself.

  • Business

    • Ten More ERP Trends: Open Source and Pricing Pressures

      Last month, eCRM Guide wrote an article on the top ERP trends. As it turns out, there’s a lot more going on in this vibrant $20 billion market than could be squeezed into one article. So here are 10 more major trends in enterprise resource planning (ERP).

    • In search of thriving open source

      But then, for the sake of completeness, I looked at Chrome’s extension count, and was completely blown away: Google’s rising-star browser lists 11,431 extensions. That’s nearly 250 percent more extensions than Firefox!

    • Semi-Open Source

      • Talend Tops Off 2010 with Company Growth and Expansion

        Talend, a global open source software leader, today announced that it continued record growth and innovation in the second half of 2010. In just the last six months, Talend broke into the application integration market with the acquisition of SOPERA, completed a $34 million round of funding led by Silver Lake Sumeru and attained record growth numbers for the fourteenth straight quarter. Heading into 2011, the company is ideally positioned to extend its leadership position in the open source middleware market.

      • BIRT onDemand Provides Cloud Based Interactive BI, In-Memory Analytics, Google Friendly Dashboards & Mobile Deployment
      • Jaspersoft Announces Industry’s First and Only Native Reporting Offering for Any Big Data System

        Jaspersoft today released a broad set of software to support a wide variety of Big Data sources for Business Intelligence (BI) reporting. Companies are storing more and more of their data in data stores such as Hadoop, NoSQL databases and massively parallel processing (MPP) analytic databases because of their inherent cost and scale advantages relative to traditional databases. Today, with the release of over a dozen Big Data connectors as part of its open source “Big Data Reporting” project, as well as beta connectors for selected Big Data proprietary databases, Jaspersoft becomes the first and only BI vendor to deliver native reporting for Hadoop, NoSQL and MPP analytic databases.

  • Project Releases

  • Government

    • Aust govt enforces equal rights for open source

      Government agencies in Australia should actively participate in open source communities and will be required to consider open source options equally when going to tender, under new policy announced Wednesday.

    • Leading the govt to open source

      Another option for open source could be a government open-source advocate like the government’s small business advocate Don Easter. Certainly in enterprise, open source seems to get more of a run if there’s a passionate advocate in the company (think De Bortoli CIO Bill Robertson or CIO for the Sydney Anglican diocese George Lymbers).

    • Australian government forces open source option

      Australia’s federal government has published a policy that mandates the consideration of open source software equally alongside proprietary products.

      The move represents a dramatic change in the government’s position, according to Australian reports.

      The policy was anounced just days after a decision by the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) to standardise on Microsoft’s Office Open XML document standard sparked controversy.

  • Licensing

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Pirate Bay, Decentralised P2P-DNS, ICANN and the law of Unintended Consequences

      I’ve always been a great fan of the law of unintended consequences. It takes you places. Unexpected places. Sometimes good, sometimes bad but never a dull moment. The recent kerfuffle over Pirate Bay is too well known to require detailed recounting here. What is really interesting though is where it might just eventually take us in terms of internet freedom. This article describes the one fallout of the legal judgements against Pirate Bay and how its response may unintentionally help to protect and promote internet freedoms.

    • Open Hardware

      • Open Source Creativity: Hackerspaces

        I hadn’t heard of hackerspaces prior to producing this story about Noisebridge, a hackerspace located in San Francisco’s Mission District. A member of the space and our Tuesday Tech blogger, Laura Khalil, gave me a tour and introduced me to one of its co-founders, Mitch Altman.

        Mitch is a technological Renaissance man; he’s a hacker, author, instructor and the inventor of TV-B-Gone, a device that allows one to turn off any television with a click of a special remote.

Leftovers

  • What Does a Good IT Manager Look Like?

    In the previous two installmants of this series (It Management Fail: Always Blame the Worker Bees and More Tales of Terrible IT Managers) I shared some bad IT manager horror stories. We could mine this topic forever, and I would be tempted to except Scott Adams already does it with Dilbert, and I can’t improve on Dilbert.

  • Prizes

    I can remember about 1957 I won a 5 cent coin for my efforts in the high jump at Field Day in a one-room school house in the bush. That was a prize rewarding me for accomplishment. Another more recent prize was for $600K or so for development UNIX by Dennis Ritchie, Ph.D., Distinguished Member of Technical Staff Emeritus, Bell Labs,
    Alcatel-Lucent Inc., and Ken Thompson, Ph.D., Distinguished Engineer, Google Inc., a major step up in operating systems and, as it turned out, something of lasting value still widely used. That’s sweet. Here, I have been told that GNU/Linux or any UNIX-like OS is so old-fashioned.

  • CRTC endorses telecommunications consumer agency and extends membership requirements to better serve Canadians

    The Canadian Radio-television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC) today reaffirmed its support for the Commissioner for Complaints for Telecommunications Services (CCTS), an agency that works to resolve disagreements between Canadians and their service providers.

  • Ron Paul, Ralph Nader agree on ‘progressive-libertarian alliance’

    In this corner, a libertarian, tea party hero who ran several campaigns as a candidate for US president on the Republican ticket. And in that corner, a progressive icon of the left who also ran several campaigns for the US presidency but on the Green Party ticket.

  • Barack Obama’s State of the Union address – full text
  • Bush White House Broke the Law

    A new report issued by the Office of Special Counsel says George W. Bush’s Office of Political Affairs routinely violated the Hatch Act, a federal law that prohibits using federal dollars to pay for political activities and bars federal employees from engaging in partisan political activity.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Drug experiment

      What happens when an entire country legalizes drug use?

    • “How Everybody Exists” Doesn’t Have To Be

      Here’s the context. Pierce — an old (and probably now former) friend from my nearly two decades inside the insurance industry — was quoted by DiStefano as saying that I erred when I wrote that APCO set up and operated a fake grassroots front group, Health Care America, to discredit Moore and his movie because insurance company executives were terrified that Sicko would convince even more Americans that the government should play a much greater role in the U.S. health care system.

  • Security

    • Are you in danger of Phone call hacking?

      Unlike the UK’s Royal family, I doubt anyone is listening in on my phone calls. But, if someone wanted to, they could.

      Many mobile phone calls in the U.S. and Europe are encrypted with a stream cipher called A5/1, which is commonly used, in GSM (Global System for Mobile Communications) voice communications. A5/1 is not secure. It’s been broken for years.

      More recently, in 2009, A5/1 was busted by a German hacker in a way that demonstrated that if you can capture the voice stream anyone with generic computer equipment could break it. Since then, A5/1 has only gotten easier to crack.

    • Five arrested over ‘Anonymous’ web attacks

      Five men have been arrested over a spate of recent web attacks carried out in support of Wikileaks.

      The five males are being held after a series of arrests at residential addresses in the West Midlands, Northamptonshire, Hertfordshire, Surrey and London this morning.

      The men were arrested in relation to “recent and ongoing” attacks by an online group that calls itself “Anonymous”.

      Targets included the websites of PayPal, Mastercard and Amazon.

      [...]

      It is not the first arrests in relation to the attacks. In December two Dutch teenagers were taken into custody and subsequently released over allegations that they had helped coordinate them.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • In the Crosshairs

      That, as H.G. Wells imagined it in 1898, was first contact with a technologically superior and implacable alien race from space, five years before humanity took to the air in anything but balloons. And that was how the Martians, landing in their “cylinders,” those spaceships from a dying planet, ready to take over ours, responded to a delegation of humans advancing on them waving a flag of peace and ready to parlay. As everyone knows who has read The War of the Worlds, or heard the 1938 Orson Welles radio show version that terrified New Jersey, or watched the 1953 movie or the Stephen Spielberg 2005 remake, those Martians went on to level cities, slaughter masses of humanity using heat-rays and poison gas, and threaten world domination before being felled by the germs for which they were unprepared.

    • The Gun Lobby Removes Its Silencer

      After the shooting spree in Tucson, a simple message appeared on the website of the nation’s premier gun-rights booster, the National Rifle Association: “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims of this senseless tragedy. We join the rest of the country in praying for the quick recovery of those injured.” Asked to comment on gun-control legislation floated since the massacre, the NRA sent a similar statement to Mother Jones: “At this time anything other than prayers for the victims and their families would be inappropriate.” Was the powerful gun lobby standing down amid calls for stricter gun laws? Nope, it was merely prepping for what could be a fierce legislative fight.

    • Extremist Killing Is as American as Apple Pie

      Not much, you might say, when taken in the context of about 30,000 gun-related deaths annually nationwide. As it happens, though, these murders over the past couple of years have some common threads. All involved white gunmen with ties to racist or right-wing groups or who harbored deep suspicions of “the government.” Many involved the killing of police officers.

    • David Davis: ‘Control orders lite’ will not make us any safer
    • Iraq Inquiry: Freedom of Information lives!

      Transparency and disclosure in action! But wait! I shouldn’t mock! We can see from the punctuation that at least one exchange involved a question!

  • Cablegate

    • NY Times considers creating an ‘EZ Pass lane for leakers’

      The New York Times is considering options to create an in-house submission system that could make it easier for would-be leakers to provide large files to the paper.

      Executive editor Bill Keller told The Cutline that he couldn’t go into details, “especially since nothing is nailed down.” But when asked if he could envision a system like Al Jazeera’s Transparency Unit, Keller said the paper has been “looking at something along those lines.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Scrap Metal Cowboys

      Schnitzer Steel of Portland, Oregon reported record revenues earlier this month. No surprise. The recycled-metal giant, which has roots going back over 100 years to the Alaska Junk Company, is uniquely positioned for the ongoing commodity supercycle. With iron ore, copper, and a selection of other metals now exceeding their 2008 price highs, the demand for salvaged metal is soaring. 2011, so far, pressages more of the same as the worst copper deficit since 2004 is set to unfold over the next two years. With production from mining under pressure, industry will have to turn increasingly to scrap.

    • “Clean Natural Gas?” Not So Fast.

      Acquiring “clean natural gas” and “getting off of foreign oil” are pitched as reasons to continue natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale. And yet, beyond all the problems associated with fracking, Pro Publica’s Abrahm Lustgarten revealed in a January 25, 2011 article that “clean natural gas” isn’t all that clean after all.

    • “Gasland” Up for Best Feature Documentary At Oscars

      Gasland, the documentary produced and directed by Josh Fox, is up for an Oscar for Best Documentary in the Feature Category.

      The film put the harms associated with natural gas drilling in the Marcellus Shale in the national limelight and begat a propaganda campaign by Energy in Depth (EID). EID, for those who have not heard of it, is a pro-oil-and-gas drilling industry front group formed by the American Petroleum Institute.

  • Finance

    • Financial Crisis Was Avoidable, Inquiry Finds

      The 2008 financial crisis was an “avoidable” disaster caused by widespread failures in government regulation, corporate mismanagement and heedless risk-taking by Wall Street, according to the conclusions of a federal inquiry.

    • Republican draws line on funding boost for ‘failed’ regulators

      A Republican who will play a leading role in the oversight of the Wall Street reform law said federal regulators should not be “rewarded” with budget increases for past mistakes.

      Rep. Scott Garrett (R-N.J.) told The Hill in an exclusive interview that it is “troubling” that financial regulators want to be given more funds and staff after failing to prevent the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.

    • Wonkbook: So much State of the Union

      The question that gets asked of every investor is the same: “How much?” Investments, after all, primarily matter for how much capital they give their beneficiary access to. But “how much” was a question that President Obama studiously avoided answering in last night’s State of the Union. And without knowing what Obama is actually asking from Congress, it’s hard to know what his vision amounts to. Yes, it would be good “to out-innovate, out-educate, and out-build the rest of the world,” and yes, public policy has a role in helping us do that. But a small commitment to public investment is very different than a big commitment to public investment. Obama, after all, is not the first president to make competitiveness a theme of his State of the Union. The question is whether he’ll be the first to actually do something serious about it.

    • Yen hit by S&P’s downgrade of Japanese debt

      The dollar spiked higher against the yen Thursday after a leading credit ratings agency downgraded its view on Japan’s debt amid concerns over its elevated borrowings.

      Stock markets mostly traded higher, however, after the U.S. Federal Reserve gave few, if any, indications that it is thinking about changing its policy anytime soon. That suggests interest rates will remain at historically low levels and that the central bank will continue its program to pump $600 billion into the U.S. economy – a welcome combination for stock market investors.

    • Goldman Sachs scholarship challenged at Senate

      A controversial MBA scholarship has been introduced at Western. As it sits now, the Goldman Sachs Scholars Fund MBA Award (School of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies, Business) is under review by the Senate Committee on Academic Planning and Awards (SCAPA). It is under review because Dr. Nick Dyer-Witheford, Associate Dean and Associate Professor in the Faculty of Information and Media Studies (FIMS), raised concerns at the past SCAPA meeting about UWO receiving money from an organization such as Goldman Sachs.

    • Financial crisis was caused by corporate mismanagement, says US government

      The 2008 financial meltdown was avoidable and largely caused by unnecessary risk-taking, corporate mismanagement and inept regulation, according to the US government’s official report.

      The financial crisis inquiry commission’s official report is due tomorrow but according to leaks in the New York Times it will conclude: “The greatest tragedy would be to accept the refrain that no one could have seen this coming and thus nothing could have been done. If we accept this notion, it will happen again.”

    • Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission Report Due

      Word is beginning to leak out about the contents of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission’s (FCIC) final report, a 576-page official analysis of the causes of the crisis. The Commission, which got off to a slow and rocky start, managed to hold 19 days of hearings and interviewed 700 witnesses. According to the New York Times, the report puts blame where blame is due, on reckless Wall Street gambling, but also on the colossal failure of government.

    • Why Do Firms Exist?

      The Economist marked Professor Coase’s 100th birthday with an article, Why Do Firms Exist?, that reviews his major accomplishments. I like its edgy first paragraph:

      “For philosophers the great existential question is: ‘Why is there something rather than nothing?’ For management theorists the more mundane equivalent is: ‘Why do firms exist? Why isn’t everything done by the market?’”

      Professor Coase’s work provides simple answers to to these questions. He explained that, in principle, a firm should be able to find the cheapest, most productive goods and services by contracting them out in an efficient, open marketplace. However, markets are not perfectly fluid. Transaction costs are incurred in obtaining goods and services outside the firm, such as searching for the right people, negotiating a contract, coordinating the work, managing intellectual property and so on. Thus, firms came into being to make it easier and less costly to get work done.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Report: Fox News gave GOP presidential candidates $55 million in free advertising

      Being on the Fox News payroll has its advantages.

      Not only did five potential Republican candidates get regular paychecks from the network last year, but they also got something even more valuable: airtime

      Liberal watchdog group Media Matters found that the five received about $55 million in free advertising over the course of more than 85 hours of appearances in 2010.

  • Censorship

    • Twitter and web video site face clampdown in Egypt

      Egypt appears to have clamped down on web services, such as Twitter, that have been used to help organise anti-government protests in Cairo.

      Twitter confirmed that its service has been blocked in Egypt on Tuesday from around 1600GMT.

      A Swedish mobile video site called Bambuser also reported that it had been blocked around the same time.

  • Privacy

    • Privacy Superhero Reveals Her Plan

      By virtually every measure, 2010 was a remarkably successful year for Canadian privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart. Riding the wave of high profile investigations into the privacy practices of Internet giants Facebook and Google, Stoddart received accolades around the world, while garnering a three-year renewal of her term at home.

      Last week Stoddart used her first public lecture of 2011 to put the Canadian privacy and business communities on notice that she intends to use her new mandate to reshape the enforcement side of Canadian privacy law. Speaking at the University of Ottawa, Stoddart hinted that she plans to push for order-making power, tougher penalties and a “naming names” strategy that may shame some organizations into better privacy compliance practices.

    • Jennifer Stoddart’s Shot Across the Privacy Bow

      By virtually every measure, 2010 was a remarkably successful year for Canadian privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart. Riding the wave of high profile investigations into the privacy practices of Internet giants Facebook and Google, Stoddart received accolades around the world, while garnering a three-year renewal of her term at home.

      My regular technology law column (Toronto Star version, homepage version) notes that last week Stoddart used her first public lecture of 2011 to put the Canadian privacy and business communities on notice that she intends to use her new mandate to reshape the enforcement side of Canadian privacy law. Speaking at the University of Ottawa, Stoddart hinted that she plans to push for order making power, tougher penalties, and a “naming names” strategy that may shame some organizations into better privacy compliance practices. Canadian privacy law has quietly undergone some important changes in recent years. Legislation designed to implement changes to the broad-based private sector privacy law (PIPEDA) has been stuck in the slow lane, but the federal government has passed anti-spam and identity theft legislation, while several provinces have enacted health privacy and security breach disclosure reforms.

    • Facebook ads use your face for free

      Yesterday, Facebook introduced a handful of new ad units that combine your “Likes,” Facebook Places check ins, and your use of certain apps with advertisements for things like Starbucks, Coke, Levi’s jeans and Budweiser.

    • ICO warns local councillors on data protection responsibilities

      Data protection watchdog the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has warned local councillors who handle personal information that they may have to register as a data controller or risk a fine of up to £5,000.

    • 13,000 councillors may risk data fines

      Up to 13,000 councillors could be breaching data protection laws, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has said.

      Warning of financial penalties, the ICO said councillors who handle personal data must check if they need to register as a data controller or potentially face a fine of up to £5,000.

  • Civil Rights

    • Jesse Ventura Sues TSA Over Body Scans, Pat Downs

      The lawsuit said the pat-down “exposed him to humiliation and degradation through unwanted touching, gripping and rubbing of the intimate areas of his body.”

    • Mark Kennedy: 15 other undercover police infiltrated green movement

      Mark Kennedy, 41, a former Metropolitan Police officer who posed as a climate change protester known as “Mark Stone”, spoke out about the “grey and murky” world of undercover policing in which he said “really bad stuff” was secretly going on.

      Last week the £1 million trial of six environmental activists accused of plotting to break into the Ratcliffe-on-Soar coal-fired power station in Nottinghamshire collapsed amid questions over Mr Kennedy’s involvement.

      The Independent Police Complaints Commission is now investigating whether Nottinghamshire Police withheld secret recordings made by Mr Kennedy showing that those accused were innocent of conspiracy from the prosecution.

    • House Panel Presses for ISP Data Retention Mandate
    • When is Terrorism Not Terrorism?

      The mainstream media largely ignored a story about an especially sophisticated and deadly backpack bomb found along a Martin Luther King Day parade route in Spokane, Washington last week, barely covering it beyond an initial mention. The device drew special attention from some news outlets because it contained shrapnel, was equipped with a remotely-controlled detonator, was “directional” (meaning aimed toward the parade route) and in the FBI’s words, was “capable of inflicting multiple casualties.” The major media barely mentioned the incident, and the lack of follow-up stories on it is even more deafening now that the FBI has concluded that the connection between this incident and racism is “inescapable.”

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Senators Bash ISP and Push Extensive Net Neutrality

      “Remember when Verizon sued the FCC over net neutrality rules? Well, Senators Maria Cantwell (D-WA) and Al Franken (D-MN) see it a bit differently and have authored a new working bill titled ‘Internet Freedom, Broadband Promotion, and Consumer Protection Act of 2011 (PDF).’ The bill lays out some stark clarity on what is meant by Net Neutrality by outright banning ISPs from doing many things including ‘(6) charge[ing] a content, application, or service provider for access to the broadband Internet access service providers’ end users based on differing levels of quality of service or prioritized delivery of Internet protocol packets; (7) prioritiz[ing] among or between content, applications, and services, or among or between different types of content, applications, and services unless the end user requests to have such prioritization… (9) refus[ing] to interconnect on just and reasonable terms and conditions.’ And that doesn’t count for packets sent over just the internet connections but also wireless, radio, cell phone or pigeon carrier. Franken has constantly reiterated that this is the free speech issue of our time and Cantwell said, ‘If we let telecom oligarchs control access to the Internet, consumers will lose. The actions that the FCC and Congress take now will set the ground rules for competition on the broadband Internet, impacting innovation, investment, and jobs for years to come. My bill returns the broadband cop back to the beat, and creates the same set of obligations regardless of how consumers get their broadband.’”

    • Mobile mesh network finds interest in NGOs

      Paul Gardner-Stephen, who co-founded the Serval project, first demonstrated the mesh network technology while experimenting with the use of Wi-Fi transmitters on phones to carry VoIP conversations.

      [...]

      Presenting at linux.conf.au 2011 this week, Gardner-Stephen said community response had already surpassed expectations, with the Australian Red Cross voicing enthusiasm at the possibilities.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • The Great RetCon of Twenty-Eleven

      About a week ago we got a nice letter from Franklin Covey letting us know that the number “7″ in conjunction with the word “habits” was their trademark, and that in order to keep their trademark they needed to vigorously defend it. The words “cease” and “desist,” while not trademarked, appeared in the letter as well. But it was worded as nicely as such a thing can be.

    • Copyrights

      • Canadians: Speak Out on Copyright

        Bill C-32, the bill to amend the Copyright Act, is now being examined by a parliamentary committee in Ottawa.

      • BitTorrent Users Sued for Sharing Paris Hilton’s Sex Tape

        Just when we thought it couldn’t get any worse, the company exploiting the Paris Hilton Sex Tape ‘One Night in Paris’ has filed lawsuits against 843 alleged BitTorrent users. While it has already made millions of dollars in profit from the dubiously obtained ‘motion picture’, the company is demanding compensation for losses allegedly caused by mass copyright infringement on BitTorrent networks.

      • How Long Until A Lawsuit Is Filed Against eBook Trading Service?

        We’ve already talked about how people are starting to freak out about “lending clubs” forming on Facebook to share Kindle ebooks, now that Amazon has launched a ridiculously limited “lending” feature. Not surprisingly, such efforts are quickly moving beyond Facebook as well, such as with the launch of a service called eBookFling, which is basically a marketplace for matching up folks for “lending” such limited ebooks.

      • “Bullies”: P2P lawyers demand sanctions against those suing them

        Late last year, Massachusetts resident Dmitriy Shirokov teamed up with a pair of young lawyers to file a class-action lawsuit against attorneys from Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver—the firm operating as the US Copyright Group. Shirokov had received a letter from DGW saying that he had shared the film Far Cry online; would he please pay $1,500 ($2,500 if he waited too long) to make the whole matter just go away?

        He would not. Instead, he sued the DGW lawyers for racketeering, extortion, and committing fraud on the US Copyright Office (among 25 total claims). Even the settlement letters were said to be misleading, since they referenced other cases like the Joel Tenenbaum $675,000 P2P verdict—but without noting that a judge has already slashed that amount as being unconstitutional. According to Shirokov, DGW’s idea is merely to scare the accused into paying up.

      • Universal Cuts 50, WMG & EMI Sale Rumors Grow. But At The Top, They’re Playing Musical Chairs

        The major label roller coaster ride has intensified over the last few days with a series of staff cuts, executive changes and sale rumors that should radically shift the major label landscape. But will they lead to real change? Last week, new UMG CEO Lucian Grainge began his reign with 50+ staff cut across the U.S. operation. Finance, IT and administrative services appear to be the heaviest hit. Over at Warner Music Group, CEO Edgar Bronfman Jr. seems to be trying to have it both ways.

      • Digital Music Has Only ‘Failed’ If You’re Not Paying Attention

        Apparently Forrester music analyst Mark Mulligan told the press recently that “digital music has failed,” which seems like an incredibly short-sighted statement. Mulligan’s a smart guy, and while we’ve disagreed with him in the past, I’m hoping he really said that because it’s a good line to feed the press, rather than because he had any actual belief in it. The fact is digital music has been a massive success for those who know how to use it. Digital music has allowed musicians to go from nobodies to stars. Digital music has allowed artists to connect with fans they never would have reached before. Digital music has allowed artists to massively expand their fan bases. Digital music has allowed artists to cut out unhelpful middlemen and route around gatekeepers. Digital music has meant more music is being produced, released and available today than ever before. How you can consider that a “failure” is beyond me.

      • Is copyright the devil? Or should we store Icebergs in the Sahara?- speech at Eurosonic Noorderslag 2011 Hans

        If I would only find myself on Twitter and not in real life I would almost believe that copyright is just a burden, just so much dead weight. And today I have the honour to exchange ideas with you about whether this is in fact true. Is copyright the devil?

      • ACTA

        • ACTA and the EU’s historic mission to “civilize” the Internet

          “The creation of a civilized internet” is what French President Nicolás Sarkozy proposed a few days ago for the agenda of the upcoming G-8 meeting. President Obama has also agreed to give priority to the issue of “taming the web” at the meeting of the most powerful countries. There seems to be a certain coincidence of interests in favor of varying degrees of repressive digital measures from a broad coalition formed by intellectual property hardliners, rabid wikileaks critics and a number of big brother authoritarian governments like those of Egypt or China.

        • European Commission Sued Over ACTA Secrecy

          The European Commission has revealed that it is currently being sued over ACTA secrecy. In October 2010, MEP Marietje Schaake asked several questions of the EC including one on non-transparency.

      • Digital Economy (UK)

        • How does the Digital Economy Act compare to ACS:Law?

          In some ways, the DEA will make it much easier for copyright holders to pursue those they believe have infringed their rights than it was for those who worked with ACS:Law.

          Whereas Andrew Crossley needed court orders to identify those he wanted to target, the new laws will force large ISPs (with more than 400,000 subscribers) to cooperate immediately.

          They will not hand over the names and addresses of customers observered unlawfully filesharing to rights holders, however, but will send out warning letters their on behalf.

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