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01.28.11

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.

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