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01.28.11

Links 28/1/2011: Debian GNU/kFreeBSD Update, Red Hat Upgraded

Posted in News Roundup at 6:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Learning from the open source movement

    The open source movement has developed a new philosophy about intellectual property, maintaining that knowledge should be free – that although it is important to prevent plagiarism or passing off an inferior product as a trusted brand, to curtail the free exchange of knowledge and ideas is a disservice to society. In pharmaceuticals, this is literally a matter of life and death – or blindness. South Africa’s health minister once called the high prices of lifesaving medicines ‘a crime against humanity’. But this is increasingly an issue for our own NHS. One current struggle involves big business trying to prevent the licensing of Avastin – already being used with great success by doctors treating the main cause of blindness in the UK – at £50 per dose – and instead force them to use the ‘very similar’ but differently licensed drug Lucentis, at £750 a dose. Obviously, this sort of thing is unacceptable – but the importance of the open source movement is that it does not simply reject such approaches to intellectual property, but has built viable alternatives – real business models that outperform proprietary interests but still freely share the knowledge they embody. Viable business models that can deliver free services – something that ought to get the attention of social enterprisers engaged in health and social care. It is also relevant to social franchising.

  • opensource.com on Flickr
  • Web Browsers

    • Browser Wars 2.0: Us vs. Them

      Don’t you just miss the previous version of browser wars? Netscape vs Internet Explorer. Scrappy young start up vs. Mr. Softy. Then Firefox vs IE. Scrappy young startup vs. Mr. Softy, round two. Then Chrome jumped into the mix and gave consumers another horse to bet on.

      But what I didn’t see coming — and I presume many others didn’t either – was that the dynamics of the browser war would change from “Them vs Them” to today’s “Us vs. Them.” How did we, the online advertising community, suddenly find ourselves in the crosshairs of the browsers?

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 4 is so close I can taste it

        Today we’ve shipped Firefox 4 Beta 10. If you haven’t tried a Firefox 4 beta yet, you should definitely give this one a spin. It’s pretty amazing.

      • Firefox 5 announced for Q2 2011

        However, the next version of Firefox is unlikely to require almost a year to be completed. Mozilla’s CTO, Brendan Eich, recently said that Firefox 4 will be released within four month after the final release of Firefox 4. This seems to be a result of discussions at Mozilla to accelerate the release schedule, which is one of the reasons why Google is gaining market share. Faster release cycles support the perception of a fresher browser, whether it delivers lots of new features or not. If you look at it, Firefox 3.6 looks pretty antiquated today.

      • Mozilla’s ‘Home Dash’ is a Dashboard for Your Personal Web

        If you’d like to take it for a spin, head over to the Firefox add-ons site and install Home Dash (you’ll need to be using a Firefox 4 beta release for Home Dash to work). For some tips and help with Home Dash, see Mozilla’s follow-up post.

  • Oracle

    • LibreOffice 3.3: Hands-On With the Free Office Suite

      Two downloads are necessary: the installer for LibreOffice itself, and a “help pack” executable, which contains US English helpfiles. If the latter isn’t installed, clicking the Help menu takes you to the documentation section of the LibreOffice Web site.

    • What’s Next for LibreOffice?

      LibreOffice 3.3 wasn’t even released yet when plans for upcoming versions were being hammered out. A release plan is now in place as well as a development philosophy.

    • OpenOffice.org 3.3

      Editors’ rating:

      7.9 out of 10

      User rating:

      10 out of 10

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GCC 4.6 Still Has Too Many Serious Regressions

      There’s a new status report from Red Hat’s Jakub Jelinek as to the state of GCC 4.6. While a GCC 4.6 release candidate is nearing, as Jakub says in today’s update, “significant effort has been made recently to fix lots of regressions, yet there are still way too many serious regressions.”

    • GNU Status Reports: January 2011

      Table of Contents

      * GNU Status Reports: January 2011
      * Binutils (http://www.gnu.org/software/binutils)
      * Coreutils (http://www.gnu.org/software/coreutils)
      * Electric (http://www.gnu.org/software/electric)
      * Freefont (http://www.gnu.org/software/freefont)
      * Gawk (http://www.gnu.org/software/gawk)
      * GCC (http://www.gnu.org/software/gcc)
      * GNUCOMM (http://www.gnu.org/software/gnucomm)
      * GNUtrition (http://www.gnu.org/software/gnutrition)
      * Grep (http://www.gnu.org/software/grep)
      * GSASL (http://www.gnu.org/software/gsasl)
      * GSEGrafix (http://www.gnu.org/software/gsegrafix)
      * GSL (http://www.gnu.org/software/gsl)
      * GSRC (http://www.gnu.org/software/gsrc)
      * Guile (http://www.gnu.org/software/guile)
      * Hello (http://www.gnu.org/software/hello)
      * Hurd (http://www.gnu.org/software/hurd)
      * Texinfo (http://www.gnu.org/software/texinfo)
      * XBoard (http://www.gnu.org/software/xboard)

  • Government

    • CH: Public spending cuts for cantons using or migrating to free software

      Eva Herzog, Consultant Director of State Finance of the Basel Canton, summed up her Canton’s free software strategy adopted in early 2010, stating, inter alia, that in the future all software developments for the cantons should be made available as open source. She also presented a project where a hundred of workstations will be migrated to GNU/Linux and other free software over a period of two years while being integrated to the current system.

    • Why AGIMO’s open source policy will change nothing

      I couldn’t help but laugh out loud at the irony of it all this afternoon when I read Gary Gray’s pompous pronouncement that from now on, Federal Government agencies must consider the adoption of open source software in any technology purchase that they make.

      Does anyone, I thought to myself, take this kind of thing seriously?

      On the face of it, the policy sounds sensible enough, representing what many have long considered to be a rational idea; that is, if a government department or agency needs to procure software, it should look around to see whether there are free and flexible alternatives available first, before it jumps into bed with a proprietary software vendor like Microsoft or Oracle — with all the cost and, often, technical rigidity that implies.

      The faster moving private sector has recognised this principle for decades now. Long before vendors like Red Hat came along to provide supported versions of Linux, system administrators around the world were covertly running their print and file servers on early versions of Slackware and Debian — and in many cases, their managers didn’t even know.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Al Jazeera Releases Egypt Coverage Under Creative Commons (UPDATED)

      Qatar-based news service Al Jazeera has a long relationship with Creative Commons licensing. Now, for its coverage of the Egyptian uprising, it has released photographs via Flickr and video on a CC license.

      Available photographs and video are available for free use so long as the user gives attribution and does not alter the products. For the record, all the photographs and video in this post are from Al Jazeera.

Leftovers

  • A List of all the things I love about Microsoft Windows
  • Security

    • Sourceforge.net attack
    • FBI Executes 40 Search Warrants for DDoS Attacks, UK Arrests 5

      Paris police also announced on Thursday that a French teenager suspected of involvement in the DDoS attacks in the United States was taken into custody for a few hours last December.

      Meanwhile, in the UK, Scotland Yard arrested five young men, aged 15, 16, 19, 20 and 26. They are also suspected of having carried out DDoS attacks and are said to face a maximum of ten years in prison and a fine of up to 5,000 pounds.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Watching Egypt disappear from the Internet

      My colleague at CPJ, Mohamed Abdel Dayem, was the first to mail me. “Just a second ago,”, he wrote, “about 10 contacts of mine all disappeared off instant messaging in unison. That cannot be a coincidence.”

      That was yesterday, January 27th, at 5:34pm New York time. A stream of similar emails followed. Everyone I knew had lost contact with Egypt. On the wider Internet, the Twitter streams and Facebook updates from Egyptian journalists, bloggers, and others, which had been overwhelming us since the protests on the 25th, had all suddenly gone quiet.

    • look what’s still made in the USA! (SPOILER: tear gas fired on egyptians demanding democracy) #Jan25 #Egypt
    • Who’s doing Mubarak’s bidding in Washington?

      As protests rage on in Egypt, the close relationship between the U.S. government and the regime of Hosni Mubarak has already garnered a lot of attention. But it’s also worth taking a moment to examine the lobbying muscle that Egypt employs to secure its interests in Washington, including a mammoth $1.3 billion annual military aid package.

    • Amidst chaos and riots, Egypt turns off the Internet

      In response to increasing civil unrest, the Egyptian government appears to have disabled almost all Internet connectivity with the rest of the world. The Internet’s global routing table, which is used by Internet routers to determine where to send traffic, has had virtually every Egypt-bound route withdrawn, giving the Internet traffic no path either into or out of the country.

    • When Egypt turned off the internet

      Almost simultaneously, the handful of companies that pipe the internet into and out of Egypt went dark as protesters were gearing up for a fresh round of demonstrations calling for the end of president Hosni Mubarak’s nearly 30-year rule, experts said.

      Egypt has apparently done what many technologists thought was unthinkable for any country with a major internet economy: It unplugged itself entirely from the internet to try and silence dissent.

    • Protesters across Egypt defy curfew

      A nighttime curfew has begun in the Egyptian cities of Cairo, Alexandria and Suez, after a day where thousands of protesters took the streets, demanding an end to Husni Mubarak’s 30-year presidency.

      The curfew was implemented on Friday on the orders of the president, along with an order that the military take charge of security, amid violent clashes occurred between police and protesters.

    • Vodafone confirms role in Egypt’s cellular, Internet blackout

      An executive at London-based Vodafone Group PLC explained Friday morning that it did indeed have a role in the phone and Internet blackout affecting Egypt since Thursday night, confirming speculation that the firm had cooperated with the regime to close off protesters’ communications.

      Vodafone Group CEO Vittorio Colao said that because the order by Egyptian authorities appeared to be in line with the nation’s laws, the company was “obligated” to comply.

      Egypt, which has been under a declared state of “emergency” for decades, long ago passed a series of security provisions that were later mirrored in post-9/11 powers assumed by leaders in the US. Egypt’s provisions, however, went much further.

    • Watching a new beginning in Egypt

      For much of Friday afternoon, this city teetered between hope and fear. We knew the army would come – the question was when. About 7:30 p.m., six armored personnel carriers with mounted machine guns arrived at the main square. Then something extraordinary happened: The soldiers were surrounded by hundreds of people – and after several minutes, welcomed. As I write this, ordinary citizens are walking up to the two vehicles stationed at Ramleh Square, and photographing each other flashing victory signs. The mood, tense for so much of the day, is turning festive.

  • Cablegate

    • An Inside Look at Difficult Negotiations with Julian Assange

      The publication of the US diplomatic cables was a journalistic sensation for WikiLeaks and its media partners, including SPIEGEL. In an excerpt from a new book, Holger Stark and Marcel Rosenbach recount the tense negotiations with Julian Assange in the run-up to the publication of the diplomatic cables.

      The joint publication of classified United States embassy cables in November 2010 in a number of major newspapers and magazines rocked the diplomatic world. In newly published books, editors at SPIEGEL and the New York Times have documented relationships between the founder of WikiLeaks and the publications that were at time tumultuous during preparations for the documents’ release.

    • Viewing cable 09CAIRO544, BLOGGERS MOVING FROM ACTIVISM TO BROADENING

      ¶1. KEY POINTS

      – (C) Egypt’s bloggers are playing an increasingly important
      role in broadening the scope of acceptable political and
      social discourse, and self-expression.

      – (C) Bloggers’ discussions of sensitive issues, such as
      sexual harassment, sectarian tension and the military,
      represent a significant change from five years ago, and have
      influenced society and the media.

      – (C) The role of bloggers as a cohesive activist movement
      has largely disappeared, due to a more restrictive political
      climate, GOE counter-measures, and tensions among bloggers.

      – (C) However, individual bloggers have continued to work to
      expose problems such as police brutality and corporate
      malfeasance.

      ¶2. (C) Comment: The government generally allows bloggers
      wide latitude in posting material critical of the GOE.
      Exceptions to this policy are bloggers who directly insult
      President Mubarak or Islam, and the government has arrested
      and jailed bloggers who have crossed these red-lines. The
      GOE has also arrested activists, such as XXXXXXXXXXXX and
      XXXXXXXXXXXX, who have used blogging to organize and support
      protests (refs A and C). Activists are increasingly writing
      blogs to advance their political aims. Contacts accurately
      point out that bloggers have ceased to function as a cohesive
      activist movement. It is noteworthy that bloggers did not
      play a significant role in the most recent example of mass
      cyber-activism — the April 6, 2008 strike orchestrated
      through Facebook (ref G).

  • Finance

  • Censorship

    • How Egypt did (and how your government could) shut down the Internet

      How hard is it, exactly, to kill the Internet? Egypt seems to have been able to do it. But Egypt’s situation isn’t exactly the same as that in the Western world. And even though Egypt only has four big ISPs, the fact that everything went down after midnight local time suggests that it took considerable effort to accomplish the ‘Net shut-off. After all, it seems unlikely that President Hosni Mubarak ordered the Internet to be shut down as he went to bed; such a decision must have been made earlier in the day, and then taken hours to execute.

      Also, the fact that such a drastic measure was deemed necessary may indicate that more targeted measures, such as blocking Twitter, didn’t get the job done. This nuclear option—see below—was intended to make online coordination of anti-government action impossible; at the same time, the mushroom cloud may give protesters hope that their efforts are not in vain. As one blogger writes: “It’s as if the regime has done the information aggregation for you and packaged it into a nice fat public signal.”

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Bell Canada is Terribad Part Three

      So the history of this issue is that I had DSL and a Cell phone with Hell Canada. The DSL is from a year ago. They are only contacting me about it now. Meanwhile, if you want to switch services from Hell Canada to Rogers or Telus, they will give you mad discounts. Yet if they steal from you and rip you off, they won’t help you.

  • DRM

    • Sony Wins TRO, Impoundment

      Sony’s motion for a temporary restraining order, asking for an injunction and impoundment, has been granted [PDF]. The Hon. Susan Illston says she thinks Sony has demonstrated that it is likely to prevail on its DMCA claim. She has also ruled that Sony has met its burden to show that the Court has specific jurisdiction over George Hotz in California, because “he purposefully directed his activities at the forum state.”

      A TRO is designed to prevent injury until a full hearing can take place, and a date for that isn’t set yet. So that will be the next step. Meanwhile, there’s a list of things that Hotz and anyone working with him can’t do and must do. Like clean up the Internet by taking back whatever he put up there about how to circumvent. Sigh. And hand over any computers or equipment that has any infringing stuff on it, and not erase anything. The judge says Hotz’s lawyers are free to file a motion challenging jurisdiction “on a fuller factual record,” if they want to, and they’ve said they want to. But I doubt it will influence anything, judging by this order.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Sugar beet growers in limbo with Roundup Ready beets

      Russ Mauch is concerned because sugar beet growers don’t know if they will be able to plant Roundup Ready beats this spring.

      Mauch, a Barney farmer and president of the American Sugar Beet Growers Association president, says sugar beet growers are in limbo when it concerns Roundup Ready.

      At issue is a lawsuit filed by several environmental groups concerned about Roundup Ready sugar beets.

      The legal journey for Roundup Ready sugar beets began in January 2008. On Aug. 13, 2010 California Judge Jeffrey White vacated the deregulation of sugar beets, Mauch said. The crop is now regulated and can’t be grown until the USDA prescribes conditions for planting and cultivating the crop.

      In separate litigation, Judge White issued an injunction in November against 256 acres of sugar beet stecklings or seedlings. The stecklings had been authorized by permits under the USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service. The stecklings were part of a research and breeding project for basic seed and hybridproduction for 2012 and beyond. According to the injunction, the stecklings were to be destroyed by Dec. 7.

Clip of the Day

Raw Video: Man Shot in Egypt Protest


Credit: TinyOgg

Techrights Member Explains Smear Attacks on the Site

Posted in Site News at 5:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Guest post by gnufreex (read original: “Opponents of Techrights… can they stoop any lower?”)

Opponents of the Techrights.org website often resort to personal insults and smear campaigns in order to deter people from reading Techrights and seeing the truth about companies that often employ some of those attackers. But this time, they really scraped the bottom of the barrel. They impersonated Dr. Roy Schestowitz on Reddit. They first created an account called “techrights” and later “rschestowitz”.

First (one that had the name “techrights”) was saying nothing much, only posted Techrights articles with modified headlines so that they sound sensationalist. I brought that to Dr. Roy’s attention on Techrights IRC channel, and as expected, it is not him and he had no idea who that might be. But Wayne Borean predicted that usual anti-techrights folks will scream that it is Roy. Guess what? He was right. Bunch of Microsoft/Novell evangelists (and their nymshifts) crept out of the woodwork and started bashing Techrights, pretending that they are disgruntled “linux community” that hates Roy for some reason, even though their nyms are well known as notorious trolls and their agenda is obvious to anyone who bothers to Google the nyms or even just looks at their Reddit posting history. At that point, I asked the submitter what is his motivation for using Techrights name was. Account disappeared hours later, with no answer.

Roy wrote a quick post about the event, but at that point, another forger had shown up on Reddit, under nym rschestowitz. I regret not taking screen-shots, since the account is now deleted and I can’t provide you with actual quotes. But anyway, “rschestowitz” sock-puppet first wrote comments to an unrelated thread on Reddit, claiming that he is Dr. Roy Schestowitz, and that he came to “assure people that this is his only Reddit account”, a then linked to Roy’s post about previous nymshifter. Since Roy’s Techrights post that “rschesowitz” linked explicitly says that he don’t and won’t have any Reddit accounts, and that people who claim to be him on Reddit are forgers, “rchestowitz” immediately looked as forger he is, and got negative response from two people who seem to be genuine Redditors with no stake in this charade (ie, not Novell/Microsoft hacks, judging from posting history). But there is third one who responded violently and whose presence shows that this was coordinated smear campaign. That nick (I won’t mention it here because it doesn’t deserve SEO) is from notorious hater site whose name I also won’t mention here. I will just refer it as NHS, as in notorious hater site.

From here, action moves to Techrights comments. Another NHS troll (which I exposed) comes into play to attack Roy. Troll actually claimed that negative response on twitter (from other NHS trolls) actually means that “linux community” holds Roy “in contempt”. Tries to sell this staged drama as if it was genuine “linux community”. Same as Reddit troll from first nymshifter. NHS troll later went out to say  that “to the best of his knowledge”  NHS never attacked Roy (which is a blatant lie; even UrbanDictionary.com page shows their hate) and actually claimed that Roy is “getting close to libel” when he says otherwise. Like everything is made up. Of course, NHS wanted Google juice so they asked for links to attacks, but Roy knew better than to promote their cesspool site by linking to it. I won’t link it either.

So what happened here? As far I can see, NHS trolls decided to make some fake accounts and pin them on Roy. Then attack fakers as they are real Roy. Classic straw-man. After that, plan was probably to accuse Roy of nymshifting.  But it failed, because of proper reaction. However, this shows us that bunch of spoiled brats from NHS and Novell/Microsoft nymshifting TEs are willing to go as low as identity theft, to libel anyone whom they disagree with. They have no qualms of claiming that everyone who disagrees with them is zealot, Roy Schestowitz’s sock-puppet or even FSF shill, while every time someone get exposed as puppet, it turns out that opponents of Techrights were pulling strings. They also like to scream “conspiracy theory” whenever obvious agenda is exposed, while they are not shy of making up far fetched theories themselves, repeating the ad infinitum using fake nyms and diversion tactics. This behaviour of theirs is not going to stop, since they think they can support their libel by repeating it enough times on enough places under enough different nyms, so that people start suspecting foul intentions from Techrights. But people are smarter than that.

Microsoft Patent Trolls Intellectual Ventures and Interval Extortion Sue by Proxy, Directly

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 11:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nathan Myhrvold

Summary: The patent system is being prominently broken by patent trolls, the biggest of which (biggest troll, biggest lawsuit) seem to be seeded in Microsoft

THE ENTITY known as Intellectual Ventures, a patent troll of massive proportions (kick-started by Microsoft and run by a former Microsoft CTO), is already suing companies directly. It is reportedly attacking even Linux/Android (by coercion on the face of it, through extortion just like Microsoft’s). Mike Masnick helps show that Intellectual Ventures is still fuelling court battles using patents, too:

Last year, we noted that more and more patents previously held by Intellectual Ventures were showing up in lawsuits — with rumors swirling that IV still got a cut of money collected on at least some of those patents. Then, in December, IV finally filed its first patent infringement lawsuits directly. However, more of its “former” patents are popping up in lawsuits as well. Joe Mullin has the details of yet another secretive shell patent holding company, called Pragmatus, that has some former IV patents and sued Facebook, YouTube and Linkedin last year, and now is suing basically all of the cable industry, claiming that its patents (5,581,479 and 5,636,139) cover the rather broad concept of video-on-demand.

[...]

Once again, the deeper you dig into these stories, you realize that it’s really just a bunch of lawyers passing around patents to figure out who can sue companies who actually do stuff. This is why it’s frustrating when the press falls for IV’s ridiculous spin about how it’s really inventing things. As far as we can tell, nothing “invented” at IV has hit the market in any meaningful way in its many years of existence.

Well, “patent laundering” is what Glyn Moody called it. In some ways, Microsoft can also do the laundering using Nathan Myhrvold. We already know that Microsoft tried to feed some patent trolls with anti-Linux patents because Microsoft got caught [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

“In some ways, Microsoft can also do the laundering using Nathan Myhrvold.”But wait, that’s not all. Microsoft’s co-founder (another one of Microsoft’s patent trolls) who is now suing Android, is rapidly becoming a loathed individual (unless one judges this by the Seattle press, which also showers the Gates Foundation with kisses). The owner or originator of the patent that Traul Allen [sic] of Microsoft and Interval Extortion [sic] (extorting in intervals) is using makes a revealing statement.

“Statement from inventor of Interval Licensing patent on a suit that “will likely exceed annual budget of [NEA]“,” summarises this the EFF, which has a patents-busting project. To quote this message from yesterday:

I am listed as lead inventor on patent number 6,757,682, “Alerting Users to Items of Current Interest”, one of the four asserted patents in the Interval Licensing lawsuit. The origin of the patent was an Interval Research project exploring how to find live events as they happen. The project was focused and specific, and led to, among other things, an Interval spinoff venture called Kundi.com, which built a working, publicly-accessible system in 2001. I am grateful for our team and proud of our accomplishments.

[...]

But the stage is now set for enormous resources, from all sides, to support litigation over innovation. The creative community needs all the support it can muster, and it’s a perplexing thought that the money at risk in this lawsuit will likely exceed the annual budget of the National Endowment for the Arts, possibly several times over. It could be hugely significant if all parties commit to something good for the creative community as an outcome.

Wow.

“And You Will Know Us By The Trail of Patent Trolls” appropriately states thinkprogress.org, a very popular Web site which is clearly concerned about what the USPTO has done to the United States:

To offer an analogy that I actually think isn’t stretched at all, but 21st century standards Isaac Newton should have patented calculus (“A Method For Using Fluxions To Determine Instantaneous Rate of Change”) and then waited patiently until Leibniz published his superior method and then sued the pants off anyone who tried to take a derivative without coughing up a hefty license fee. But would that world have been a better place? The issue isn’t really so much the rents that Newton would have thereby extracted (I’m not going to begrudge one of human history’s greatest geniuses a fortune) but the barriers to entry that would have been created as a secondary consequence. A world in which smart people have access to the stock of existing human knowledge and are free to apply it in new ways is a world of competition and innovation. A world where you need to consult with an army of lawyers first isn’t. If you ask the people who care most about promoting entrepreneurship in America about this they kind of shrug, concede that the patent system is hopelessly broken, and then confess to despair that it can or will be fixed.

In a broader sense, a lot of our politics is about symbolism. And symbolically intellectual property represents itself in the contemporary United States as a kind of property—it’s right there in the name. But it’s better thought of as a kind of regulation. Patents and copyrights are modeled, economically, the same as you would model any state-created monopoly.

There is a long discussion about this (interesting comments) and it symbolises a demise of American production by so-called ‘knowledge workers’. Microsoft is central in the breeding of massive patent trolls (who produce nothing) and Bill Gates too has a dormant patent troll (NPE). Oh, and speaking of trolls, let’s not forget this latest update about Android basher Microsoft Florian. He gets deeper in the mud the more he speaks and he seems to be aware of it.

Environmentalists in China Denounce Apple

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software at 10:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Jobs image licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License (version 1.2 or any later versions); Ellison patch By Thomas Hawk

Summary: Apple is liked neither by Western nor Eastern groups who look after the world we all share

“Chinese Environmental Groups Say Apple Ignores Health, Pollution Issues” says this report brought to our attention by a reader, who helps confirm what we already knew about Apple based on Western environmental groups.

Thirty-six Chinese environmental groups have accused Apple of repeatedly failing to address concerns about pollution and the health of workers in factories that make components for the company’s computers and digital devices.

Apple screws the environment and screws its customers with screws [1, 2].

John from the FSF dents: “Apple using nonstandard screws: http://ur1.ca/2ylgw. Intent seems obvious.” The FSF has many reasons to dislike Apple given that, for example, “no GPL apps [are allowed] for Apple’s App Store” (it’s a little more complex than that).

In many people’s eyes, Apple represents arrogance, selfishness, and extreme consumerism. It also opposes software freedom more zealously than Microsoft in many cases. An Apple a day keeps liberty away.

Eric S. Raymond and John C. Dvorak Declare the Death of Vista Phony 7

Posted in Microsoft, Windows at 10:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Eric Raymond's mug

Summary: Vista Phony 7 [sic] shipment numbers make the inevitable verdict hard to deny; Windows revenues/profits continue to fall

The shipment (not sales) figures quoted the other night explained very clearly why Microsoft is lost in the mobile space. Eric S. Raymond, an Open Source luminary who has been writing about mobile platforms quite a lot over the past two years (see this for example), heralds the “The Fall and Fall of Windows Phone 7″:

And now, for a bit of comic relief, let us examine the state of Windows Phone 7. It launched just over three months ago in a cloud of hubris – Microsoft’s first-ship party featured pallbearers lugging a huge mockup of an iPhone (and the rest of what you need to know about that moment was that the video was caught by an Android phone). Just how is Redmond’s bid to escape irrelevance doing?

Not well enough for Microsoft to want to disclose sales figures, apparently. While Google reports 200K Android phones a day are shipping, Microsoft is reduced to gamely insisting that it is confident Windows 7 will eventually succeed. At least one of its channel partners is, shall we say, less sanguine.

[...]

I predicted that WP7 would be a bust, swamped by Android and iOS. This was not a projection that required a lot of nerve even before launch; today, three months in and with nothing in the way of visible market penetration to show for all of Microsoft’s hype, it’s a complete no-brainer. No rabbit got pulled out of any hat, and network effects are pushing against WP7 rather than for it.

It would take an event at least as dramatic as Nokia betting the company on WP7 to revive this product. But I think nothing like that will happen, and that WP7′s affect on the smartphone market will amount to nothing more than statistical noise.

Tech celebrity John C. Dvorak thinks alike. “Microsoft Phone 7 Is Dead in the Water” states his headline and the article/column is summarised as follows:

Windows Phone 7 is failing, and now’s the time for Microsoft to embrace Linux and Android.

There are many more critiques of Vista Phony 7, but the above are some of the more visible ones. Microsoft already “embraces” Linux and Android (to echo Dvorak’s suggestion) with lawsuits and smears, extorting it from several directions because Windows revenues/profits are still going down, despite the cheating in the SEC-reported numbers. Andrew Bartels from Forrester has a fairly recent post titled “Among Large Tech Vendors, Microsoft Does The Worst Job Of Reporting Its Revenues” (it does not even report the truth).

“One strategy that Microsoft has employed in the past is paying for the silence of people and companies. Charles Pancerzewski, formerly Microsoft’s chief auditor, became aware of Microsoft’s practice of carrying earnings from one accounting period into another, known as “managing earnings”. This practice smoothes reported revenue streams, increases share value, and misleads employees and shareholders. In addition to being unethical, it’s also illegal under U.S. Securities Law and violates Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (Fink).

2002 story about Charles Pancerzewski, Microsoft

Links 28/1/2011: CrossOver Impersonator, Egypt Updates

Posted in News Roundup at 10:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Land the Perfect Linux Job with Security Smarts

    Looking for a Linux system administration job? Many employers are looking for admins with Linux skills, but plenty of people are vying for those jobs. If you want to stand out from the crowd, you’ll need to make sure you have the security skills that employers are looking for above and beyond Linux administration experience.

  • Server

    • Tiny Linux Plug Computers: Wall Wart Linux Servers

      Ever wish you could set up a small, efficient server? Maybe you’re setting up a mail server for a couple of people, or something to hand out music files over a home network. Do you really need a full-fledged PC with a noisy fan, sucking down 100 watts and heating up the room?

  • Ballnux

    • Samsung Ships 2 Million Galaxy Tab Devices

      Samsung has announced that it has now shipped over two million of its Galaxy Tab tablet devices, surpassing the figure in just three months since the device launched.

      The 7-inch tablet is now sold via 200 mobile carriers in 94 countries, with 750,000 Galaxy Tab’s being shipped to Europe, 350,000 to North America and 330,000 units in Asia.

  • Kernel Space

    • Benchmarks Of The Official KQ ZFS Linux Module

      Last summer we delivered the news that a native ZFS file-system implementation for Linux was coming by an Indian company known as KQ Infotech where they leveraged the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories ZFS Linux code, finished it off in some areas, and took care of the POSIX support. This ZFS Linux module was eventually released to a group of beta testers — us included — and we ran some ZFS Linux benchmarks back in November using the latest beta code. Since that point, however, KQ Infotech has made their ZFS Linux port publicly available and earlier this month they declared this work as stable via its general availability release. We have decided to benchmark this latest ZFS Linux code to see where the performance now stands against the EXT4, Btrfs, and XFS file-systems.

    • Graphics Stack

      • This GLX Patch Can Really Boosts The FPS (~ +60%)

        The past few months Chris Wilson has been on quite a coding spree with making many changes and improvements to the xf86-video-intel DDX driver, among other components. Today though he has put out a patch to the X.Org development list that will affect far more individuals than just those using the Intel graphics driver, which is his primary focus being an employee of the Intel Open-Source Technology Center. This GLX patch has boosted the in-game frame-rate for him in one of his tests by about sixty percent!

  • Applications

    • Wine

      • CodeWeavers Introduces CrossOver Impersonator

        The Minnesota developers at CodeWeavers have made the surprise release this morning of CrossOver Impersonator and CrossOver Games Impersonator. The “Impersonator” is their name for the version 10.0 family of CodeWeavers products since they feel that this Wine-based software does a very nice job impersonating Microsoft Windows under Linux and Mac OS X operating systems.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

    • E-Readers in Africa: Non-Profit Brings Thousands of Books to Ghanaian Children

      For the study, Amazon donated 20 Kindles and associated accessories, including covers and power adapters.

    • Linaro image downloads

      The Linaro 10.11 cycle was a great success. A huge amount of engineering effort was undertaken and the organisation as a whole has grown at such a rate as to quadruple since its launch in June last year. Whist the main goal of Linaro is to fundamentally change the way Linux works on ARM hardware upstream it is imperative that any changes Linaro does are well integrated, tested, and validated together in a common platform and that is where Linaro’s whole system images are most valuable.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • PlayStation titles coming to Android-based devices

          While Sony didn’t make its upcoming PlayStation Phone official at its press event, the company did show off the “PlayStation Suite,” a new initiative that will bring original PlayStation games to Android-based devices. The games are coming this calendar year, with titles like Syphon Filter, Wild Arms, and Cool Boarders 2 shown at the event.

        • Google Previews Its Tablet-Optimized Android Honeycomb OS

          Google released Wednesday a platform preview for Android 3.0 (Honeycomb) and an updated set of SDK tools.

          This preview offers the best glimpse that we have seen thus far of the tablet-optimized Android. At CES earlier this month, Google showed off Honeycomb alongside the Motorola Xoom tablet.

        • Android overtakes iPhone in user reviews

          If you’re looking for the fully apped-out 21st century smartphone experience, for the moment the choice really comes down to Apple’s iPhone or a phone running Google’s Android OS. Here at Reevoo, we power reviews for around 18% of the UK market so we have access to a lot of data.

        • I, for one, welcome our new Android forking overlords

          Of course conventional wisdom states that developers don’t want to target multiple environments. Yeah – that was the wisdom that got us a decade of Java uber alles thinking, and a 20 years of Oracle-for-everything architectural decision making. The truth is Android so far has been been pretty decent on phones. I really like my HTC Desire. I am also lucky enough to have a Dell Streak loaner to play with; another solid device, that makes for a great armchair TV companion. But Android wasn’t designed for a bigger form factor, like Apple’s 10 inch iPad, at least in its early versions.

        • Here Comes Mobile: Operating System Performance, 2010

          As the graph indicates, RedMonk properties saw the relative share of Windows usage decline by 8.1% in 2010. The Android, iPhone and iPad platforms gained 6.28% collectively over the same period. Given that Linux and Mac platforms were essentially static on the year, both growing less than 1 percentage point, it seems self-evident that as developers use more mobile platforms, they’re using less Windows.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source powers new Aussie space race

    A group of Australian Linux enthusiasts are using freely available software and hardware designs to engineer a space craft that could one day land on the moon and reap millions of dollars in prize money from Google.

    The Lunar Numbat project was started by a team of Australians and New Zealanders who have partnered with the Google Lunar X-Prize team White Label Space.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Tips and Troubleshooting for Home Dash 1 (and 2)
      • People of HTML5 – Rob Hawkes

        HTML5 needs spokespeople to work. There are a lot of people out there who took on this role, and here at Mozilla we thought it is a good idea to introduce some of them to you with a series of interviews and short videos. The format is simple – we send the experts 10 questions to answer and then do a quick video interview to let them introduce themselves and ask for more detail on some of their answers.

  • Education

    • Obama bets big on open ed — with one little catch

      For those who haven’t heard, the Obama administration recently announced $2 billion in funding for 2-year colleges, much of which will be used to produce open educational resources. The details are complicated and still being hashed out in discussions all over the internet, but it’s clearly the largest single investment in OER since, well, ever. It’s an event of seismic proportions in the world of open education. With silver linings, though, come clouds — and the SCORM cloud looks like it could be a big one.

      Last Thursday, the Department of Labor announced a big grant program with a big name: the Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grants Program, or TAACCCT for “short”. A large part of the grant’s goal is to create great learning materials for career training — with the stipulation that all materials created with these grants will be licensed as CC-BY.

      [...]

      One possible solution might be to earmark some of that $2 billion in grant money for improving SCORM integration with open source projects like Moodle or Sakai, or even for Drupal. There’s nothing wrong with SCORM vendors making money, of course, but it seems like a good idea to invest in open tools to build open content. It’s not yet clear whether anyone will pursue grants for this purpose, and if they do, whether the grantors will consider this to be a good way to spend their money.

    • VIDEO: Education without limits: Why open textbooks are the way forward

      There are 400 million openly licensed materials that can empower teachers to be better instructors through that openness. But there’s a big barrier: adoption. In this video, David Wiley talks about the opportunity and the challenges.

  • Healthcare

    • HMRC’s Latest IT Fail – and What to Do About It

      And the connection of this sorry saga with open source? Well, I’d hazard a guess that we are dealing with proprietary software here, and that my experience offers further compelling reasons why open source should be used instead. I don’t know for sure if proprietary software is at fault here, but I do know there is something that could be done about this ridiculous state of affairs that only open source could facilitate.

      Supposing the system had, indeed, been written with and as open source software. This would mean that by definition it would be available for others to download. Which would mean – in theory, at least – that people could fix some of the bugs that may contributed to people like me wasting hours thanks to downtime and the general uselessness of the code.

      Now, I’m not claiming that I could do that fixing (well, not unless they write these programs in FORTRAN), but surely at least having the possibility that someone could do that has to be better than what we’ve got at the moment?

  • Government

    • US: Government instructs its procurers not to discriminate against open source software

      The ‘technology neutrality’ memorandum from the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) urges Government agencies to “analyse alternatives that include proprietary, open source, and mixed source technologies. This allows the Government to pursue the best strategy to meet its particular needs.” The memorandum also emphasises several key open source factors, such as interoperability and re-use in the selection of IT. The economic implications of this might be considerable, given that currently US Government agencies spend almost $80 billion (approximately €59 billion) to buy IT.

    • EC Research Center makes available its open source guidelines

      The Joint Research Center of the European Commission (JRC) is making available its internal open source guidelines. The document is meant to help it’s software developers to manage their use of open source software.

      The JRC approved its internal guidelines on the use of open source software in its projects on 6 October. The document can be useful to other public administrations, and the JRC kindly permitted the OSOR to make the document public.

      According to the JRC guidelines, one of the leading ideas of open source projects is the building of a community of developers, that share their contributions and benefit from the contributions of the others.

    • Cellphones Track Voting in Southern Sudan

      Fareed Zein: That’s right. So the technology behind this is called Ushahidi. It’s an open-source system that is developed by an organization called Ushahidi.com, and it’s a great platform. It was started by a group of developers in Kenya after the elections in 2008 where violence broke out. And so there was basically a simple texting mapped into a Google map. And then later on it was developed by volunteers around the world, really, into this open-source system that’s now available and has been used in many many instances, such as the earthquake in Haiti, or the floods in Pakistan, and other election events around the world. So this is the system that we have used, and we are supported obviously by the volunteers from Ushahidi.com that have done a fantastic job of supporting deployments around the world.

    • Ushahidi & Pete Warden Join Forces to Add Open Source Geocoding to Platform

      Disaster response network Ushahidi has been using software called Yahoo Placemaker for this function, as many other developers do. But this week the organization announced that it is adopting an open source alternative called GeoDict. GeoDict, which was created by ReadWriteWeb contributor Pete Warden, detects, standardizes and returns coordinates for text regarding 2.7 million locations around the world. As a part of the deal, Warden has officially joined Ushahidi parent organization SwiftRiver.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Fighting Openness with New Corporate “Rights”

      This would clearly have a chilling effect on efforts by whistle-blowers to expose corporate wrong-doing. But it gets worse, much worse.

      The French government, already one of the chief enemies of a free and open Internet (think HADOPI) wants all of Europe to give business this new “right”…

Leftovers

  • Socialism Puts the Social in Social Democracy

    I keep hearing some of the political discourse from the United States. Apparently socialism is worse than any of the dirty words. I’m surprised the FCC doesn’t bleep the word on network TV.

    Did Americans forget they are a Social Democracy? This means that the US is mainly a capitalist state, but it uses socialism to smooth over some of the rough spots of capitalism.

    In fact all the developed countries do this. But since the Americans do this slightly less than their developed country brothers and sisters they have convinced themselves in their discourse that socialism is evil.

    But Republicans and Democrats are both responsible for the latest advance in socialism. That is they bailed out some banks and other lenders saying that there will be a trickle down effect to every person in the US. This is corporate socialism or corporate welfare. There is no way that every Democrat and Republican didn’t realize this.

  • Openness, Socialism, and Capitalism

    I frequently hear people attempt to equate the open education movement with socialism. After all, the logic goes, what could possibly be more socialist than freely sharing things with everyone? The attempt to characterize the entire movement in a single assertion assumes a uniformity within the movement that anyone working in OER knows does not exist. I will neither agree or disagree with broad, general assertion in this post. Instead, I want to disagree with the statement in a very specific context, and carve out a specific and concrete space in the discourse about the motivations that underlie OER.

  • Schwarzenegger gives MacKay geography lesson

    Defence Minister Peter MacKay might want to give his old Grade 5 geography teacher a call for a brush-up.

  • i might pay for the FT, why won’t I pay for the Times? And: girls.
  • Facebook’s new sponsored stories feature: Are you ready to be in your favorite companies’ ads?

    Facebook’s defense is that they’re not telling anyone anything they wouldn’t have seen anyway. If you check in at Cora’s Cafe, that shows up in your friends’ news feed in accordance with the level of privacy you’ve specified.

  • 100 Apologies
  • India’s most expensive movie yields most astonishingly violent and demented action-scene in cinematic history

    Imagine that you took the Axe Cop kid and teamed him up with the Wachowskis, along with every serious SFX wizard on the subcontinent, and said, “Go ahead kid, spend whatever it takes to make the most demented, blood-drenched, bullet-addled, ultra-super-duper-violent action sequence in the history of films.” Then you waited a generation for another Axe Cop kid to be born and raised on the first kid’s output, to grow to maturity, and you gave her the same challenge: that’s about one tenth of one percent as demented, glorious and violent as this ten-minute climactic scene manages.

  • Science

    • NASA’s Hubble Finds Most Distant Galaxy Candidate Ever Seen in Universe
    • 3D Print a Kindle!

      Not exactly, but it’s surprisingly close to printing a Kindle. Maker Stergios Stergiou has designed a combination case and magnifier that blows up an iPhone 4 screen to 6 inches in size – approximately the same size as an actual Kindle. This makes it much easier to read eBooks, for example.

    • Chemists turn gold to purple – on purpose

      Color change confirms a new way to harvest energy from sunlight

    • Tenure and all that, part 2

      There were some interesting comments on my last post on tenure, and they got me thinking of science in academia and why the tenure track (TT) is becoming so competitive and difficult to enter.

      [...]

      The 300:1 ratio also comes at a time when science education standards in the US are clamoring for more political support. I didn’t realize that today if you’re a prospective US graduate student it’s much less competitive to get into the top graduate schools in the sciences that even10 years ago. So if you do have a prestigious degree from a highly ranked program it’s worth less than in the past. Coupled with this decline in prestige is the push for universities to require higher levels of specialization for positions. The system wants everyone to have more education and raise the bar for professional work. This is fine if the jobs are commensurate with the higher standards. But the 300:1 ratio suggests we here in the US are running the equivalent of a puppy mill. If you read the link you’ll see there are some distressingly similar parallels between current graduate education in the sciences and breeding dogs for profit.

    • Did modern humans go global twice as early as thought?

      Homo sapiens might have spread across the world much earlier than previously thought – and it was a favourable climate, not a sophisticated culture, that allowed them to go.

      Anatomically modern humans evolved in Africa about 200,000 years ago. Most palaeoanthropologists believe they stayed there for 140,000 years before migrating around the world, except for an abortive colonisation of what is now Israel about 120,000 years ago.

    • Thursday’s security advisories
  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Happy New Year text prematurely blows up suicide bomber

      The message wishing her a happy new year came hours before the unnamed woman was to set off her suicide belt near Red Square, an act of terrorism that could have killed hundreds of people, The Leader-Post reported. She ended up dying at a safe house instead.

    • The Laser Sharp Intellect Of John Prescott

      Yesterday I listened to an interview on 5 Live with John Prescott, on the recent news that further evidence had came to light about the News Of The World phone hacking story. He was laser sharp on the dissecting the issues and very passionate in expressing himself. In short that interview showed his attributes that make him a very good MP. Where was this John Prescott on Iraq?

      For people who don’t know John Prescott is now Lord Prescott; awarded a title after spending a long time as a Labour MP and his most recent role as a long serving Deputy PM to PM Tony Blair. John Prescott was an integral part of the cabinet during all of the good, bad and controversial decisions taken under Tony Blair’s time in office.

    • Police could use more extreme tactics on protesters, Sir Hugh Orde warns

      Police could be forced to adopt more extreme tactics to counter the threat posed by student protesters and “hacktivists”, according to Sir Hugh Orde, the president of the Association of Chief Police Officers.

      Speaking before major protests planned across Britain at the weekend, Orde admitted that use of text messages, Twitter and Facebook to organise campaigns in record speed had created “a whole new dimension to public order”.

    • Bandwagon Jumping In Ottawa – Former Tunisian Regime Not Welcome In Canada

      I agree. We don’t want or need the kleptomaniacal members of the ‘former Tunisian regime’ in Canada. But where the hell has our Prime Minister been hiding for the last two weeks? While Tunisians have fought for their freedom, Stephen Harper appears to have made no comments until now. In fact searches do not turn up any comments by him on Tunisia in the past. Ever. Curious that.

    • Bloody and bruised: the journalist caught in Egypt unrest

      In the streets around Abdel Munim Riyad square the atmosphere had changed. The air which had held a carnival-like vibe was now thick with teargas. Thousands of people were running out of nearby Tahrir Square and towards me. Several hundred regrouped; a few dozen protesters set about attacking an abandoned police truck, eventually tipping it over and setting it ablaze. Through the smoke, lines of riot police could be seen charging towards us from the south.

    • How are protestors in Egypt using social media?

      This question has been posed to me constantly over the past two days from journalists doing their best to understand the relationship between online and offline forms of protest. I feel their pain – after the mainstream media went gaga over Iran’s 2009 protests, journalists must be considerably wary when tackling this subject: Go one way, and you risk overstating the influence, go the other and you’re dismissed as assuming individuals in the Arab world incapable of leveraging social media tools for organizing.

  • Cablegate

    • Medvedev says WikiLeaks ‘positive’, ‘healthy’

      Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev said Wednesday he thought the release of leaked US diplomatic cables by the WikiLeaks website could have a positive effect on international diplomacy.

      Brandishing his iPad, the tech-friendly Medvedev said modern communications had linked people in such a way that “no very serious secret can be guaranteed immune from being disclosed today.”

      “At the end of the day, I believe this WikiLeaks story should make the spirit of international relations healthier even if, in itself, this was an illegal activity,” he added.

    • No proof WikiLeaks breaking law, inquiry finds
    • WikiLeaks Cables Help Uncover What Made Tunisians Revolt

      A set of 10 diplomatic cables released by whistleblower website WikiLeaks offers some insight into the recent upheaval in Tunisia and starts to answer the question of why so many Tunisians took to the streets to topple their leader.

      The cables, written by the U.S. Embassy in Tunis between January 2006 and June 2009, cover topics ranging from corruption in the country to a dinner for the U.S. ambassador hosted by the son-in-law of Tunisia’s then-President, Zine al-Abidine Ben Ali.

    • Whispering at Autocrats

      In one fell swoop, the candor of the cables released by WikiLeaks did more for Arab democracy than decades of backstage U.S. diplomacy.

      It would be rational, for example, for American diplomats to believe that the revolution in Tunisia is unlikely to spur similarly successful popular movements in other authoritarian Arab countries, such as Egypt and Algeria. But by the same token, it would have been rational for them to believe just a month ago that no such revolution was possible in Tunisia. Or to discount the likelihood that the people of Kyrgyzstan would overthrow their corrupt government just weeks before it happened last year. Or to dismiss as a pipe dream that the mighty Soviet Union would fall, and that the powerless Baltic nations would become independent, democratic states, just a year before it happened. If we bet on the stability of authoritarian states, we will be right most of the time, but wrong at the crucial time.

    • Julian Assange to Appear on “60 Minutes” Sunday

      Julian Assange, the controversial founder of WikiLeaks, has given a lengthy interview to Steve Kroft for a segment to be broadcast on “60 Minutes” this Sunday, Jan. 30, at 7 p.m. ET/PT.

      Kroft spent two days with Assange on the grounds of the private residence in England where he is under house arrest as he fights attempts to extradite him to Sweden to answer allegations of sexual assault.

    • Marines change commander at facility where WikiLeaks suspect held

      The Marines have changed the commander of the detention facility where WikiLeaks suspect Pfc. Bradley Manning is being held, days after his attorney filed a complaint claiming that Manning is being unfairly treated in detention.

      Chief Warrant Officer James Averhart, who had been in charge of the detention facility at Marine Corps Base Quantico in Virginia, was replaced by Chief Warrant Officer Denise Barnes, Quantico spokesman Lt. Brian Villiard said.

      The change in command was ordered back in October and is not related to the concerns raised by Manning’s lawyer, said Villiard. But Manning’s lawyer is holding out hope that the new commander will move his client to a less restrictive incarceration status.

    • PFC Bradley Manning Is Not Being Treated Like Every Other Detainee

      Despite the assertion of Pentagon Press Secretary Geoff Morrell, PFC Bradley Manning is not being treated like every other detainee at the Quantico brig. Morrell stated during today’s Pentagon briefing that PFC Manning’s “confinement is not in the least different from the manner in which anyone else at the brig is being held.” This statement is patently false.

      PFC Manning is being treated differently. He is the only detainee being held in Maximum (MAX) custody and under Prevention of Injury (POI) watch. Every other detainee is being held in Medium Detention In (MDI) and without POI watch restrictions. What is the difference?

    • DOD News Briefing with Geoff Morrell from the Pentagon
    • Localeaks: A Drop-Box for Anonymous Tips to 1400 U.S. Newspapers

      Although the mission of WikiLeaks is to “open governments,” it’s done quite a lot to make us think about how to open journalism as well. We’ve seen a number of new whistleblower sites crop up – OpenLeaks and Rospil, for example – as well as major news organizations – Al Jazeera, and perhaps even The New York Times – investigate ways to facilitate more whistle-blowing and leaking.

      But why wait for local newspapers to roll out their own anonymous tips pipeline when a project from CUNY Graduate School’s Entrepreneurial Journalism program has designed just that thing.

    • Visa: WikiLeaks Guilty until Proven (Twice) Innocent

      The AP reports that a Swedish company Visa Europe hired to study whether WikiLeaks was breaking the law or Visa’s own rules has “found no proof the group’s fundraising arm is breaking the law in its home base of Iceland.” But, the AP goes on, Visa will not accept WikiLeaks donations until it completes its own investigation, which has thus far lasted eight weeks.

      Shorter Visa: “we’re going to keep investigating this until we find some justification to explain why we’ll accept donations to the Ku Klux Klan but not WikiLeaks.”

    • Wikileaks ISP Anonymizes All Customer Traffic To Beat Spying

      In order to neutralize Sweden’s incoming implementation of the European Data Retention Directive, Bahnhof, the Swedish ISP and host of Wikileaks, will run all customer traffic through an encrypted VPN service. Since not even Bahnhof will be able to see what its customers are doing, logging their activities will be impossible. With no logs available to complete their chain of investigation, anti-piracy companies will be very, very unhappy.

    • Wikileaks ISP refuses data hand-out to Swedish government

      No details, no data

    • WikiLeaks: the latest developments

      • Assange has been giving interviews and taking part in online Q&As. He told the Associated Press he currently has 20 media partners and hopes to enlist as many as 60 as WikiLeaks seeks to speed up its release of the cables. In an online Q&A on a Brazilian blog, he said he was taking no part in the current slew of WikiLeaks film projects, but if he were to sell production rights it would be on condition that he was be played by Will Smith. (I get the impression Assange isn’t taking WikiLeaks the Movie / TV mini-series that seriously.)

    • Welcome to OpenLeaks

      OpenLeaks is a project that aims at making whistleblowing safer and more widespread. This will be done by providing dedicated and generally free services to whistleblowers and organizations interested in transparency. We will also create a Knowledge Base aiming to provide a comprehensive reference to all areas surrounding whistleblowing.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • England’s forest sell-off plan gets a partial rethink

      The government is to make a partial climbdown tomorrow over proposals to sell off England’s woodlands, following pressure from campaigners and Liberal Democrats. The Department for the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is expected to announce that up to 80,000 hectares of England’s most cherished woodlands, such as the Forest of Dean and Cannock Chase, will be put into charitable trusts with the requirement that their current goals are maintained.

    • The future of the Public Forest Estate in England

      This consultation is about the future ownership and management of the public forest estate in England – land managed by the Forestry Commission on behalf of the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs.

      It sets out the rationale for a move away from the Government owning and managing significant areas of woodlands in England and the principles which will guide the Government in deciding on the way forward. The consultation proposes a mixed model approach to reforming the ownership and management of the public forest estate to create a far greater role for civil society, businesses and individuals.

      We invite views on the mixed-model approach, the criteria for deciding which parts of the estate fit within each model, the principles guiding each model, the safeguards for providing public benefits, and alternative approaches. We also invite views on the implications for the future role of the Forestry Commission in England of these proposals.

    • Right to roam is not good enough – without robust rights of access we need to keep our forests in public ownership

      But I’ve since discovered our rights to roam will not be enough to guarantee continued access for everyone who currently enjoys our forests, if they’re sold off.

      Firstly the right to roam only applies to walkers – it does not extend to cyclists, horse-riders and other activities that are currently permitted in many of our forests.

      Secondly, there’s nothing to compel private landowners to maintain the existing car parking, toilets and play areas available at many forests. Without such facilities, a visit to the forest comes difficult if not impossible for some, especially families with small children and those with disabilities.

    • PhotoCrawl

      The entire global capacity to generate electricity is about 2 TW.

      To give you some idea of how big that is, if you were to weigh all the electricity humans generate in a year (we’re talking E = mc2 here) it would come in at almost a tonne. A year of the world’s electricity weighs about as much as your car.

      To give you some idea of how small that is, if you were to cover a 100 kilometer square of one of the world’s deserts near the equator with solar photovoltaic cells, they would comfortably generate more than 2 TW, at least in the daytime. That’s an area slightly bigger than Devonshire.

    • Koch Brothers Feel the Heat In DC, as Broad Coalition Readies Creative Action to Quarantine the Billionaires Gathering in California Desert

      Charges of conflict-of-interest — particularly in the infamous Citizens United decision that opens the floodgates to anonymous corporate money in elections — have been raised by Common Cause. Both Scalia and Thomas have admitted, according to a newspaper in Palm Springs, to speaking at private dinners hosted by Kansas oil tycoon Charles Koch, who, along with his brother David, has funded a wide array of right-wing causes and spent many millions on behalf of right-wing candidates.

  • Finance

    • Official: Trading software did not cause financial crash

      High speed trading systems were not the cause of the 2008 economic crash, according to the results of a two-year US government investigation.

      “The crisis was the result of human action and inaction, not of Mother Nature or computer models gone haywire,” said a leaked copy of the report’s conclusions, seen by the New York Times. The investigations instead blame incompetence, aggressive risk taking and a total failure of political oversight.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Guess What? Letting Corps. Make Anonymous Unfettered Political Donations Quadrupled Contributions!

      That’s a bit different outcome from what the Supreme Court majority wrote in their opinion, which held that “with the advent of the Internet” citizens and shareholders would basically be able to Google all the information they would need and that would provide the necessary transparency.

      The answer is obvious. Instead of complaining about corporations perverting our democracy, average Americans should buckle down and make make more money so they can out-contribute them.

  • Censorship/Libel Tourism

    • In the Dock, in Paris

      My entire professional life has been in the law, but nothing had prepared me for this. I have been a tenured faculty member at the finest institutions, most recently Harvard and NYU. I have held visiting appointments from Florence to Singapore, from Melbourne to Jerusalem. I have acted as legal counsel to governments on four continents, handled cases before the highest jurisdictions and arbitrated the most complex disputes among economic ‘super powers.’

      Last week, for the first time I found myself in the dock, as a criminal defendant. The French Republic v Weiler on a charge of Criminal Defamation. The setting could not have been grander. As I entered the Tribunal de Grande Instance de Paris, the French Old Bailey, my lawyer whispered: ‘Emile Zola was tried here.’ Vive la difference: This was no Dreyfus Affair but the stakes for Academic Freedom and liberty of expression are huge.

      As Editor-in-Chief of the European Journal of International Law and its associated Book Reviewing website, I commissioned and then published a review of a book on the International Criminal Court. It was not a particularly favorable review. You may see all details here. The author of the book, claiming defamation, demanded I remove it. I examined carefully the claim and concluded that the accusation was fanciful. Unflattering? Yes. Defamatory, by no stretch of imagination. It was my ‘Voltairian’ moment. I refused the request. I did offer to publish a reply by the author. This offer was declined.

    • Google Starts Censoring BitTorrent, RapidShare and More

      It’s taken a while, but Google has finally caved in to pressure from the entertainment industries including the MPAA and RIAA. The search engine now actively censors terms including BitTorrent, torrent, utorrent, RapidShare and Megaupload from its instant and autocomplete services. The reactions from affected companies and services are not mild, with BitTorrent Inc., RapidShare and Vodo all speaking out against this act of commercial censorship.

    • Will Google’s New Hamfisted Censorship On Autocomplete Raise Questions Of Human Meddling?

      One of the key arguments that critics have often made against Google is that the company “meddles” in search results, effectively “picking winners and losers.” Google’s — quite reasonable — response for years has been that it’s all in the algorithm, rather than any personal choices. And, the algorithm was just trying to recommend the best result, no matter what that might be. Indeed, this is a perfect and sensible response. However, after lots of pressure from the entertainment industry (and politicians closely associated with the entertainment industry), last month Google announced plans to start censoring “autocomplete” results, such that “terms that are closely associated with piracy” don’t appear.

    • Google won’t autocomplete “bittorrent” but will autocomplete “how to kidnap a child”

      Google won’t autocomplete searches for “bittorrent,” but if you are interesting in learning how to kidnap someone, make meth, build a bomb, cheat on your taxes, or shoplift, they will happily autocomplete your search for you.

    • Internet Security Savvy is Critical as Egyptian Government Blocks Websites, Arrests Activists in Response to Continued Protest

      As we’ve seen in Iran and Tunisia, social networking tools have given activists in authoritarian regimes a powerful voice, which can be heard well beyond their own country. But the use of social networking tools has also given their governments ways to identify and retaliate against them. This week we are watching the same dynamic play out in Egypt. This is why it is critical that all activists —in Egypt and elsewhere—take precautions to protect their anonymity and freedom of expression. The protests in Egypt this week also highlight another important point: authoritarian governments can block access to social media websites, but determined, tech-savvy activists are likely to find ways to circumvent censorship to communicate with the rest of the world.

  • Privacy

    • Spying in a see through world: the “Open Source” intelligence industry

      The Open Source Intelligence (OSINT) industry has grown rapidly over the past decade. Private companies and state agencies are now collecting and analysing “publicly available” data on a vast scale.

      This article by Ben Hayes, published in the Statewatch Journal last year, looks at the evolution, theory and practice of OSINT; its use by police and security agencies; the rapidly developing OSINT industry; the blurring of the boundaries between OSINT and covert surveillance; and the embrace of OSINT by the EU.

    • RIPA – a victory for privacy (and, ahem, BBW)

      Over at Public Service, I’ve written an article about the fact that (rejoice) local authorities have finally been denied surveillance powers for many purposes and have to get warrants to authorise use for the rest. Just as we called for in our report, our manifesto and our book. Very pleased. Let’s call this a win.

  • Civil Rights

    • Cuban dissident released after brief detention

      Cuban authorities have released a well-known dissident after detaining him briefly as he and other opposition figures tried to block the eviction of a woman from a home in the central city of Santa Clara.

      Guillermo Farinas told The Associated Press on Thursday he and 25 other opposition figures and local residents were taken into custody Wednesday afternoon, then released with a warning to stay out of trouble late in the evening.

    • Congress & DOJ Take On Internet Data Privacy

      The Justice Department hopes to force ISPs to archive personal user data usage for help facilitate future law enforcement investigations, which puts the fate of our Internet privacy up in the air. Kevin Pereira talks to EFF’s Richard Esguerra about the upcoming hearing and the details.

  • DRM

    • Sarkozy wants a “civilised” Internet

      With France at the Presidency of the G20 group in 2011, Nicolas Sarkozy has recently announced the intention to convene a G20 meeting to discuss Internet and copyright issues, before the full G20 summit of heads of state and government in Cannes in November.

      The French President has had the same discourse for some time now, having pushed the idea of a “civilised” Internet on various occasions since the signature in November 2007 of the so-called “Olivennes agreement”, which established the Hadopi authority.

      The subject of a “civilised” Internet will also be discussed during the G8 meeting that will take place in Deauville, France, on 26 and 27 May 2011. “We will table a central question, that of a civilised Internet (….).We cannot consume as never before images, music, authors, creation, and not ensure the property rights for the person who put all the emotion, talent and creativity (…). The day we no longer remunerate the creation, we will kill the creation” said Sarkozy.

      In the French government’s opinion, expressed by Deputy Muriel Marland-Militello, France is the “world’s pioneer of the civilised Internet”, thanks to Hadopi.

    • 25 Years of Digital Vandalism

      Last fall, when I learned of the Stuxnet attack on the computers running Iran’s nuclear program, I briefly thought that here, finally, was the real thing: a cyberweapon purpose-built by one state actor to strategically interfere with the business of another.

      But as more details emerged, it began to look less like something new and more like a piece of hobbyist “street” technology, albeit one expensively optimized for a specific attack. The state actor — said to be Israel, perhaps working with the United States, though no one is sure — had simply built on the unpaid labor of generations of hobbyist vandals.

    • Sony wins restraining order against Geohot

      The courts have just issued a temporary restraining order against George Hotz (Geohot). Sony filed this lawsuit because they were unhappy that Geohot had released the Playstation 3 decryption keys so other people could play unsigned games on it.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Mickey Mouse Protection

        There is a reason US copyright law is sometimes “affectionately” known as the Mickey Mouse Protection Act; there is a strange coincidence at play here – every time the copyright on Walt Disney’s early creations is about to expire, US copyright terms get magically extended by another few years. Currently, a work is under copyright both in the US and the UK for 70 years after the author’s death. This might make sense for Disney—at least someone is still making money from Walt’s creations—but for the vast majority of creative works out there, this lengthy copyright term is an issue.

      • Spanish Film Academy President May Be Fired For Listening To Fans Who Don’t Like New Copyright Law

        While he claims his decision is because he believes that “pitting creators against the web is a mistake,” and noting that politicans have refused to listen to the people, his critics are claiming that “his compulsive passion for Twitter has played a dirty trick” on him. Not only that, but the Advisory Board of the Film Academy is threatening to oust him before his resignation, because of his being “tricked” by the internet. Apparently just talking the consumers and film fans and getting their opinion is prohibido in the Spanish Film Academy.

      • MPAA Takes A Dozen Torrent Sites Offline

        The MPAA has managed to take a dozen torrent sites offline in the United States, with help from Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN. The 12 torrent sites – which remain anonymous – were pulled offline by their hosting companies following complaints from the two organizations. What effect this ‘massive’ takedown operation will have on the BitTorrent ecosystem is yet to be seen, but thus far there are no reports of ‘missing’ torrent sites.

Clip of the Day

Blocks & Regions


Credit: TinyOgg

ES: Microsoft se Está Convirtiendo En una Compañía de Embargo

Posted in Courtroom, Microsoft, Patents at 5:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Container ship

(ODF | PDF | English/original)

Resumen: Las demandas tratando de bloquear a los competidores se están convirtiendo en una norma de negocios para Microsoft.

En la última fase de su incierta vida útil Microsoft puede ser recordado como una cáscara rota, que había demandado con patentes para embargar la competencia. Eso es lo que vio hacer a TiVo esta semana[http://techrights.org/2011/01/25/banning-tivo-with-swpats/] y ahora esto se hace en contra de Datel [1[http://techrights.org/2010/05/09/bungie-says-goodbye-and-more/], 2[http://techrights.org/2010/05/03/moonlight-vs-mozilla-firefox/], 3[http://techrights.org/2010/05/05/microsoft-turned-from-apple/], 4[http://techrights.org/2009/11/24/microsoft-kicks-datel/], 5[http://techrights.org/2010/04/06/zune-mobile-xbox-failure/], 6[http://techrights.org/2010/05/17/novell-and-lg-boost-microsoft/], 7[http://techrights.org/2010/08/24/datel-settling-apple-spyware-swpat/]] en la cara de ello[http://www.theinquirer.net/inquirer/news/1939308/microsoft-calls-itc-investigation-british-company]:

EL VENDEDOR DE JUEGOS DE CONSOLA Microsoft, parece estar un poco molesto con una empresa llamada Datel Design & Development.

El campañol se ha quejado en los términos más enérgicos posibles a la Comisión de Comercio Internacional de los EE.UU. que Datel Design ha hecho algunas cosas terribles y ha pedido una investigación inmediata.

Según Microsoft, Datel ha estado violando sus patentes y robando sus ideas. También parece que hay una historia de mala sangre entre las dos compañías.

Wolfgang Gruener sostiene[http://www.tomshardware.com/news/Xbox-360-Kinect-Windows-7-WP7-Xbox,12071.html#xtor=RSS-181] que en 2011, Microsoft puede estar “Hacia la deriva a la insignificancia”. El resumen dice:

Microsoft ha desarrollado un talento muy especial para darse a sí mismo un tiro en el pie y me pregunto qué pasó con la empresa que hizo commodities equipos con ideas y pasión inusual para el futuro de la informática?

Microsoft nunca se convirtió en éxito en el mercado de hardware. Rebadging algunos periféricos apenas cuenta (de hardware de marca Apple también tiene sus limitaciones artificiales[http://www.treehugger.com/files/2011/01/pentalobe-screw-apple-war.php] que molesta a mucha gente [1[http://techrights.org/2011/01/24/cult-mentality-in-classroom/], 2[http://techrights.org/2011/01/26/software-oligarchs-distraction/]]). Así que Microsoft se está convirtiendo rápidamente en una EMPRESA DEMANDANTE, en el pasado reciente (hace aproximadamente 2 años) que se jactaba de no demandar por patentes, pero las cosas han ido cuesta abajo desde entonces, Microsoft demanda por patentes más que uno puede perder de vista. Esto un signo de pérdida.

Many thanks to Eduardo Landaveri of the Spanish portal of Techrights.

Patents Roundup: Coverage From the United States, China, Vietnam, South Pacific, and Europe

Posted in America, Australia, Europe, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 3:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

World Map patents

Summary: Reports on the continued attempts by Microsoft et al. to spread software patents to every corner of this planet

“Patents Roundup”-themed posts have become rather extinct recently, but since we view software patents as by far the greatest threat to software freedom (and over time more people agree with us), this post will provide a quick summary of news of relevance. Special gratitude goes to the likes of the FFII and Digital Majority, who help collect reports and research of interest.

United States

Let us start with the United States because this is the country where software patents are bred and spread to other countries.

“NYTECH.org Examines Software and Financial Patents” says this new report. Here are some scary numbers, especially if one assumes that an inventor must be aware of existing patents, as well as be familiar with academic publications in his/her field (this is a problem I personally face):

In 2009, out of a total of 295,219 patents granted, only a small number were for software, databases and financial methods. This is because patenting software or a business process is open to more variables than a new invention for a machine or physical manufacturing process. At last week’s New York Technology Council panel on technology patents, speakers tried to ascertain why these types of inventions have come under question since the advent of the computer, and why obtaining a patent for them is so costly, complicated and uncertain. Their reasoning was that that in general, it’s not totally clear what the exact difference is between a concrete idea and an abstract idea.

That’s why lines are being drawn, but how? And who does it serve? A limitless patent system is exceptionally good for patent lawyers, who thrive in a landscape that invites litigation and rewards applications.

Asia

The new article “China: A Country of Imitation to Innovation?” helps remind us that decreasingly will the US maintain its dominance over rising China using all sorts of intellectual monopolies, so what’s the point of them? It’s a huge, colossal, massive bubble.

The enforcement system in China is still new and developing, but the country is dramatically increasing the number of patent filings it wants to receive (up from 300,000 in 2009 to an estimated 2 million in 2015) and adding patent examiners at an astounding pace. China will enforce intellectual property rights as soon as doing so is in its national interest. That day will come sooner than most people expect.

For American companies, they must grasp the reality that patents are local—there is no worldwide patent. Companies that view the Chinese market as important must build intellectual property portfolios in China, not just the U.S., because Chinese companies are dramatically increasing their domestic (Chinese) patent filings at a rate far outpacing the patent filings of U.S. companies.

Compare China’s 300,000 patent filings to 295,219 patents granted in the US in 2009. It’s very revealing what goes on here.

Over in Vietnam, Doan Hong Son (from IPMAX Law Firm, i.e. lawyers) writes about all sorts of issues like TRIPS [1, 2, 3, 4] and the patent system in the EU. Doan Hong Son — like most lawyers in this position — is trying to promote the idea of software patenting in Vietnam. The title is telling because the phrase “patent protection” gets used (“protectionism” or “monopoly” would be better terms). From the article:

For instance, the Agreement on Trade Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS), an international agreement administered by the World Trade Organisation, provides that “computer programs, whether in source or object code, shall be protected as literary works under the Berne Convention”, which is the convention for copyright protection.

TRIPS does not, however, specifically exclude software from the allowable subject matter of patents.

A patent grants a limited monopoly, usually a term of 20 years, to the patent holder on an invention or idea, e.g., a new device or process that involves an inventive step that is not obvious to others skilled in the same field. While copyright protects the original expression of an idea (such as the source code or object code), patent protects the embodiment of the idea, the functional aspect of the software, independent of the form in which it is expressed. In this context, patent offers stronger protection than copyright because it may prevent others from using software embodying the same concepts, even if the software is independently developed and there is no copying of code.

[...]

In the European Union, meanwhile the European Patent Convention excludes computer software “as such” from patentable subject matters. However, that does not mean that patent protection is not available to computer software that meets the conditions of an invention, i.e., being new, having a potential industrial application, and involving an inventive step.

[...]A reading of Viet Nam’s Law on Intellectual Property would suggest that only copyright protection is available to software. Article 14 includes “computer software” as one of the “forms of copyright-protected works”, while Article 59 specifically excludes “computer software” from “subject matters” eligible for patent protection.

However, similar to other countries, some computer-related patent applications may still be granted so long as they are presented as a process (implemented via computer software); the process includes a machine, computer or other equipment; and a physical transformation takes place or some tangible/visible results are obtained. In fact, the National Office of Intellectual Property has granted a number of software-related patents, including a patent for “a system for payment by electronic means” and a patent for a software-related system for generating and facilitating the display of high-quality images in a web browser.

Europe has just loopholes, but on paper at least, software patents still have a mountain to climb.

New Zealand and Australia

It is the same in New Zealand (as in Europe) and over in Australia people are setting up new initiatives to drive software patents away. From the latest such effort: [via Dr. Glyn Moody]

Following on from the success of the letter to Kim Carr, signatures are now being collected on a paper petition to the Australian House of Representatives. This petition formalises our request to the parliament. Parliamentary rules require original signatures on paper.

Please sign the petition at an event such as Richard Stallman’s speeches in Australia or Software Freedom Day. Please download and print a copy of the petition and help collect signatures at your workplace or other local events.

Europe

The loopholes which exist in New Zealand and in Europe need to be closed, but there has been something rather rotten (general distrust) in the Commission recently. The Establishment press in the US rightly gives the Commission some scrutiny over the issue while the EPO keeps celebrating a sharp rise in patent applications (which may mean very much the opposite of innovation and rise of protectionists instead). This class partisanship in no way can be viewed as beneficial to the market at large. The European Parliament is meanwhile “fast-track[ing] vote on EU patent” according to a report which echoes what we wrote earlier this month:

The European Parliament will tomorrow (27 January) give its first green light to 23-country enhanced cooperation for the European patent, confirming a fast-track approach chosen by the European Commission despite a number of unresolved controversial issues.

The FFII cheerfully states:

Euractiv quotes #FFII procedural objections to the Unitary Patent http://bit.ly/i0E1DY

For those who are interested, the full text of FFII’s press release is available in their site, starting with:

The European Union advances on a super-fast track on the “enhanced cooperation” for unitary patent protection among a coalition of the willing after an envisaged Community Patent has once again failed to reach consensus in the Council, attributed to the linguistic divide.

Miscellany

The FFII’s president shares some more news links, such as “Secretive Company Sues The Cable Industry, Claiming It Owns Patents On VOD”; “Patents: Nokia GmbH and Others v IPCom GmbH & Co. [2011] EWCA Civ 6 (20 Jan 2011)” and “Judge says Apple, RIM not violating Kodak patent”. “Kodak loses initial patent battle against Apple and RIM,” says one report on this latter subject, which is not so much about software patents but is relevant for other reasons.

CAMERA MANUFACTURER Kodak has lost the first round in a patent infringement complaint it lodged against Apple and Research In Motion (RIM) almost a year ago.

Way back in February of last year the US International Trade Commission (ITC) launched an investigation into mobile phone digital camera components from Apple and RIM that bear a striking resemblance to Kodak’s. But after nearly a year’s deliberation the ITC has ruled against Kodak’s patent violation case.

Kodak is the classic example of a company that chose patent litigation over innovation. We covered this a month ago and generally watched the company in [1, 2, 3, 4].

The bottom line is, patents are a protectionist’s tool for ever-demising companies to extort their competitors when they win. Lawyers are just the cost of doing ‘business’ like that (Microsoft is choosing such a strategy right now) and when anti-patents companies/startups like Twitter get “sued over ‘community’ patent”, it is clear that software patents are not for the ‘small inventor’, they are for the software oligarchs (IBM, Apple, Microsoft, and so on). Software patents are not just a nuisance, they are one of the biggest threats to software development in general, be it free/libre or proprietary.

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