USPTO Has Patents Blocking American Innovation, Brainwashed European Minority Wants to Emulate This Mess

Posted in America, Europe, Microsoft at 5:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Board room

Summary: Patent system leniency in the United States is causing legal chaos; the FSFE and FFII try to stop it from entering Europe ushered by lobbyists, countering a Microsoft mobbyist (Florian) in the process

A MAJOR shakeup in the patent world may be catalysed or caused in part by the LG-Sony patent fight, which is proving yet again that the patent system harms customers. It also helps drive companies outside regions which are zealous about patent ‘enforcement’ (taxing or removing products from the market).

TechDirt says that “The White House Wants Advice On What’s Blocking American Innovation”. Except for hostility towards science (including learning of evolution, as indicated in our daily links this week), there is the issue of excessive monopolisation, even of simple algorithms. To quote the concluding words from TechDirt:

I doubt my input will get read or, if read, anyone will care, but at least it’s worth a shot. Unfortunately, to date, it’s appeared that the administration is under the sway of lobbyists, who still pretend that the patent system of today really does increase innovation, and, thus, I can’t imagine they’ll be open to looking at the actual research on the issue or tackling the real problems of the patent system.

One need not look so far back to witness spurious patent battles because the case of TiVo and EchoStar is back to the headlines. Here is the TiVo statement and the DISH Network statement. There is a lot of accompanying coverage [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] and the endless fight goes on and on. Microsoft it also trying to embargo TiVo as part of its new strategy.

There is an ongoing debate about whether or not this mess can penetrate Europe, where such incidents are still very rare (and patent trolls are very scarce). The ‘EU patent’ is currently the main risk factor, so the FFII is fighting it back and the FSFE is trying to stop this too. A patent lawyer from Europe writes:

A decisive few weeks for the future of the European patent system; ECJ decision due on 8th March http://t.co/YcZ1OXU @iam_magazine

The article is accessible to subscribers only (echo chamber) and the President of the FFII says:

18 countries have now declared they want to go on EU patent close cooperation.

Then, Microsoft Florian started intervening, for example by chatting with Jan Wildeboer (Red Hat) and the President of the FFII. While the latter said that “If the harmful German decisions stays in Germany, I am fine with it [FUD from Florian], but the EUPC will expand them to the EU”

The mobbyist replied with more FUD: “UK isn’t much better. We’ll see what they do in the Apple/Nokia case in London.”

There is more of that sort of junk from Florian and the FFII’s representative breaks it apart by writing: “Damage control it is called. Time for a new directive.”

Notice how Microsoft apologists are defending the EU patent. It says a lot about how harmful it can be to Free/libre software.

Eclipse Foundation Director: “Software Patents Are Basically a Bad Idea”; IBM Still Celebrating Patents

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 5:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Eclipse 3.6 Helios

Summary: Mike Milinkovich is unhappy about software patents and at IBM it’s business as usual (more software patents)

UNREST over the issue of software patents is growing. Developers are as mad as Hell as they’re not gonna take this anymore. OK, maybe it’s not that serious, but very few developers actually support software patents. Support for this curse comes mostly from lobbyists of large companies such as Microsoft, as well as their lawyers, who simply profit from software patents. In the next post we’ll cover some developments around the world and in this post we’ll present some opinions of developers who speak out.

OMG!Ubuntu, which typically avoids anything ‘political’, has just made an exception. There is an unusual story from this site, courtesy of Dave Lane from Christchurch, NZ. “Why Software Patents are worse than useless” is the headline of the post which also dares to criticise Microsoft (yes in OMG!Ubuntu, believe it or not!):

But here’s the clincher: MS had tried to submit the same patent in New Zealand after the applications were denied by the US, Europe, South African, and Japanese patent offices for being obvious and subject to prior art. They thought they could count on the incompetence of the NZ patent assessors – and they would’ve been right had it not been for our challenge! It was a disgusting and highly unethical move by Microsoft. But if we had only caught one, how many other trivial software patents (or those subject to prior art) had already been passed? How many were waiting for some unethical kiwi patent troll (or worse yet, one of the multinational corporations who hold approximately 90% of NZ patents) to decide to start sabre rattling?

The Microsoft Patent FUD Threat Bomb

And then in May 2007, it began: Microsoft accused Linux and open source software of infringing on 235 of its patents.

Not only did Microsoft not bring a lawsuit against anyone, Microsoft’s General Counsel Brad Smith and licensing chief Horacio Gutierrez simply stated didn’t even mention which patents Linux and other FOSS software infringed.

Microsoft, with the best lawyers money can buy, felt that they could derail the entire FOSS software movement simply by threatening the possibility of suing for patent infringement. Clearly their goal with the statement was to strike fear into businesses with deep pockets (who, surprise surprise, are most often the targets of patent infringement suits) who were toying with the idea of investing in and/or adopting FOSS. Of course, similar threats could be just as effective against proprietary software users.

To me, not only was that unethical – and exceeding immature (I would’ve been embarrassed to death if I was either of those two Microsofties making that claim on the record): “yes, we think you’re infringing on our patents… but we won’t tell you which ones! Nee nar nee nar.” It also illustrated for me the fundamental wrongness of software patents. Let me try to explain.

If I, or my colleagues, are cutting code to solve a problem, it was almost certain that the use case we were codifying had been seen by someone else, somewhere in the world. And perhaps some component of it was patented. The odds were almost 100% that software we were incorporating into our customer’s solutions from the cornucopia of FOSS could arguably been seen to infringe on someone’s software patent somewhere. How could we ever hope to know?

The answer is: we wouldn’t. Not until we (or, more likely, our customers) received an infringement notice.

Despite IBM's influence over Eclipse, Mike Milinkovich slams software patents (IBM is in favour of software patents). Watch what he says in response to the questions: “Are you worried about the Red Hat settlement with Acacia? And what about patent trolls in general?”

I’m not worried about the Red Hat ruling. Software patents are basically a bad idea. There might even be an occasional software patent that is a good idea, but the pace at which software has been patented over the last 15 years and the sheer number of patents tells you that the implementation of software patents is bogus. There is no excuse for the software patents that are out there, and most of the patents I have read do not strike me in any way as innovative. We have a problem, and there is no way the open source community can stick its head in the sand and pretend it does not exist. I think Red Hat coming up with a solution is actually important for them. Yes, it would be lovely if we could make the US government agree that software patents should just go away. The companies which are big supporters of the open source community… I’m not sure it’s fair to criticise them for making the best of a bad situation. It’s up to them to make the best of a bad hand. I don’t fault Red Hat for resolving the suit. None of us knows what’s in that agreement, but I would not be surprised if they managed to write the agreement with some protections for their downstream consumers.

It’s an incredibly complex issue. I don’t think it’s going to go away. I don’t think somehow pretending open source is somehow immune from patent trolls or patents in general is a very wise course of action.

That’s a bold thing to say. One must remember the shadow of IBM, which is the largest patentor. There is more of that baggage from IBM but none from Novell in this new roundup of Utah patents, which starts with:

Risk assessment within an aircraft, patent No. 7,885,908, and risk assessment between airports, patent No. 7,885,909, invented by Robert Lee Angell of Salt Lake City, Robert R. Friedlander of Southbury, Conn., and James R. Kraemer of Santa Fe, N.M., assigned to IBM Corp. of Armonk, N.Y.

Despite the mischiefs of Samsung, IBM has also just signed a patent deal with it. Among the early articles about it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] we found out that the patent lawyers community called it “[t]he biggest cross-licensing deal the world has ever seen” (yes, Samsung too is one of the top patentors). With a deal like this they are leaving everyone else outside, uncovered by a massive pile of patents. Here is how they puts it in their press release:

Over the past several decades, IBM and Samsung have built strong patent portfolios covering a wide range of technologies including semiconductors, telecommunications, visual and mobile communications, software and technology-based services. This cross-licensing agreement enables the two companies to innovate and operate freely while using each other’s patented inventions to help keep pace with sophisticated technology and business demands.

Well, these two companies could also “innovate and operate freely” without having patents at all. Creating all these market barriers is simply a way of impeding small companies. IBM can be selfish about it as long as it serves shareholders’ interests, i.e. as long as it causes no PR damage.

SUSE Can’t Swing Anymore

Posted in Novell, OpenSUSE, SLES/SLED at 4:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tee time

Summary: OpenSUSE and SUSE rely on old news and past glory while in present/reality there’s depression of progress

IT has been almost a week since we last caught up with SUSE. There is not much to catch up with really. There’s just OpenSUSE 11.4 promotion from the former community manager of OpenSUSE and Novell employee Joe Brockmeier (the article at least contains a disclosure). Sebastian Kügler from KDE ran for the OpenSUSE Board and didn’t get elected. Instead it was Vogelsang and Linnell who got elected:

The last few weeks in the openSUSE project have been very interesting. Two seats on the openSUSE Project board were up for election. The Election Committee closed the polls on Wednesday, and we are pleased to announce the results:

1. Henne Vogelsang (125 Votes)
2. Peter Linnell (72 Votes)

Pascal stepped away under bizarre circumstances. This may have been the last election ever.

Apart from ZENworks 11 proprietary “Appliance” and some more proprietary enhancements to GroupWise, it emerges that Novell has a new SUSE deal with HP. We’ll write about it at a later date, but meanwhile here’s a portion of Timothy Prickett Morgan’s report (there is the press release too, for comparison):

Systems software maker Novell has announced today a special deal for customers building clusters with its SUSE Linux Enterprise Server. If you cluster servers with the company’s High Availability Extensions, you get those extensions for free.

There’s all sorts of other gimmes too, and the deal runs through June this year.

This all sounds well and good. If customers plunk SLES 11 on their ProLiant rack, tower, or blade servers, they can get a support contract for the HA Extensions tossed in for nadda, which costs $699 per server for a one-year support term or $1,890 for a three-year term. According to the Novell announcement, this HA Extension deal is only available through HP and its resellers.

Simultaneously comes more drivel from Novell’s PR people, including this item about Penguin Computing. It says: “Dan Dufault, Novell’s Global Director of Partner Marketing, recently sat down with Penguin Computing’s Chief Hardware Architect, Philip Pokorny and the Company’s director of product management for high performance computing, Arend Dittmer to discuss their experience providing solutions to the Linux market as well as Penguin’s partnership with Novell.”

There is also something about VMware’s use/support of SUSE (not news) and belated announcement regarding LibreOffice for OpenSUSE (they built 3.3.0 later than most). With new security problems in proprietary software from Novell [1, 2] it sure seems like Novell is falling behind. A lot of the above is basically repetition of existing deals; Novell tries to pass them off as “news”.

Bad Security News for Apple and for Microsoft (Updated)

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 3:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Valentines day background

Summary: While technology news may have gotten obsessed with Linux and USB, it is actually Microsoft and Apple that suffer from critical problems

EARLIER this week we noted that Linux is inherently very secure and we also cited someone who had posted a good rebuttal to the “USB” claims that are spread out there right now. The short story is that the alleged USB-related flaw is very much exaggerated and good explanations exist to refute the original claims. On the other hand, consider the fact that Microsoft is claiming to plug 22 security vulnerabilities this Tuesday (the real numbers may be a lot worse):

Microsoft issued 12 security bulletins today to cover nearly two dozen vulnerabilities, including critical ones in Internet Explorer and Windows.

Moreover, The Inquirer says that “anti-virus software is losing the battle, and the war”:

ANTI-VIRUS SOFTWARE is fighting a losing battle against malware, and there’s nothing that can be done to turn the tide, according to a security testing firm.

NSS Labs, an independent security product and certification test lab, looked at 10 anti-virus products on the market. It found that the effectiveness of the software was variable, to say the least, with some products more effective at protecting against malware on USB keys than in email, and vice versa.

From the same source we learn that Apple’s proprietary hypePhone can be hacked in six minutes:

INSECURITY RESEARCHERS have busted an Iphone’s encryption protection in just six minutes to gain access to passwords.

Boffins at the Fraunhofer Institute for Secure Information Technology (SIT) in Germany devised the hack. The researchers did the tests to demonstrate that passwords aren’t secure on Iphones that have been lost.

They obviously had a point to prove and weren’t happy with just hacking Apple’s shoddy security encryption in six minutes. Within the allotted time, the team also managed to retrieve most of the passwords stored on the Iphone, accessing personal data that could be used to get into bank accounts.

Visibility of code and wide sharing of it breed bug reports and quick fixes. The mainstream press has been focusing on the wrong targets over the past few days.

Update: Gordon (thistleweb) has just posted a pointer to “yet ANOTHER #Microsoft story without mentioning the M or W word #BBC #pathetic #poorjournalism http://tighturl.com/2xsj twice in 1 week too”

Wall Street Journal and Bloomberg Confirm Elop Speaks With His Old Colleagues at Microsoft

Posted in Microsoft at 3:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hands in love

Summary: Further confirmation that Nokia has something cooking with the abusive monopolist Elop (Nokia’s CEO) recently came from; other timely reminders of the impact of former Microsoft staff

YESTERDAY we wrote a difficult post about what the sociopaths from Microsoft appear to be doing to MeeGo. We included a lot of links there, so we’ll spare repetitions. Some sceptics used to accuse Techrights of theorising exactly all that, even months before it happened. As in many cases, we were actually right and Elop’s entryism role seems to be further validated by large publications (corporate press) right now.

This is just the unfortunate impact of Microsoft executives leaving the companies in droves, moving from a position of leadership in one division to controlling entire outside companies like VMware, Juniper, or Nokia. Here is a new article about Microsoft’s many other departures: [via]

Microsoft has seen key people abandoning positions across the board—from high, C-level executives to middle managers to evangelists and strategic engineers and architects. Throughout 2010, there were several key departures, and the brain drain spilled over into this year, with some big names leaving in January.

Recently we showed that the OOXML outage in Australia [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] involved someone in government who had worked with Microsoft. Now that there’s some lip service thrown out there as “damage control” (about “open source”), Microsoft carries on playing along as recently covered by ITNews and now by ZDNet Australia. The problem with this government is that its people have vested interests involving Microsoft, so no wonder it favours OOXML, which is not a real standard. And speaking of OOXML apologists, see what Bruce Byfield has to say.

Links 10/2/2011: WebOS and Android Rise Up

Posted in News Roundup at 2:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Bolster Your Exec Tools

    Change at dizzying speed makes leadership tricky, whether you’re a head of state or CEO. “The world is shifting and it’s happening in a pronounced way,” said James Quigley, co-author with Mehrdad Baghai of “As One: Individual Action, Collective Power.”

    Quigley says it’s passe to engage in only a couple of leadership styles, such as commander and collaborator. Combining several characteristics to adapt fast is more effective.

  • Desktop

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Environmentalists Who Spoofed Koch Industries Did Not Break Law, Should Not Be Identified, Public Citizen Tells Court

      A group of anonymous environmentalists who participated in an elaborate prank to highlight Koch Industries’ controversial role in bankrolling climate change denial did not infringe on Koch’s trademark and should not be identified, Public Citizen lawyers argued in papers filed late Wednesday in federal district court in Salt Lake City.

      Koch’s lawsuit against the anonymous activists does not justify unmasking their identities, Public Citizen said, and doing so would have a chilling effect on free speech.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • git ‘er done

        Also of note is that the KTextEditor interface, while still in kdelibs, is primarily developed in (and sync’d with) the code in the Kate git repository.

        This is setting the stage for a nice opportunity for us to work on the further modularization of the KDE Platform for app devel while also giving the workspaces a clearer and more separate footing on their own.

    • GNOME Desktop

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • GNU/Linux From Turkey, Pardus 2011 Released

        Pardus team has announced the release of Pardus 2011. This is the 5th major installation release that has shipped since the project had begun in 2003 by TÜBİTAK BİLGEM (Center of Research For Advanced Technologies Of Informatics And Information Security) and offers many new features among a more stable experience.

    • New Releases

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mageia Alpha May Arrive February 15

        We were waiting for Mageia’s first iso in January, 2011. But as happens with FOSS projects, stability of the product matters more than the date. ISO was delayed and now new dates are in. According to Mageia blog, the first alpha of the Mandriva fork should be available by February 15, 2011.

        Long time Mandriva users are looking forward to this first alpha to get their hands on Mageia and see if its time to stay with it or to move on.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Qatar Exchange Turns to Red Hat for a Reliable, Scalable and High-Performance Trading Platform

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced that the Qatar Exchange, the principal stock market of Qatar and one of the leading stock markets in the Gulf Cooperation Council region (GCC region), has migrated from IBM AIX and Microsoft Windows to Red Hat Enterprise Linux to provide a high-performance trading platform for investors in the Qatari market.

      • Red Hat Close to Resistance

        Shares of Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE:RHT) are trading very close to calculated resistance at $44.89 with the current price action closing at just $44.39 placing the stock near levels that make it difficult to buy.

      • Shares Of Ariba Potentially Overvalued In Terms Of Earnings Yield (ARBA, ROVI, VMW, RHT, FTNT)

        Below are the five companies in the Systems Software industry with the lowest Earnings Yields. Earnings yield is useful to compare the relative benefit of owning a stock vs. owning other yield assets such as bonds. If the earnings yield is higher, stocks may be considered undervalued.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • SODIMM-sized module offers 1GHz SoC, 1080p video playback

      Strategic Test announced a SODIMM-sized computer-on-module (COM) based on Freescale’s ARM Cortex A8-based i.MX535 system-on-chip. Clocked at 1GHz, the 2.66 x 1.2-inch TX53 offers extensive I/O, including Ethernet and dual USB 2.0 ports, plus an available “Strategic Development Kit 5″ baseboard, and a Linux BSP, says the company.

    • DreamPlug: A Linux PC That Looks Like a Phone Charger

      Take a look at your power outlet. If you saw a DreamPlug PC there, you could mistake it for nothing more than your mobile phone charger. Yet Globalscale Technologies’ newest Linux PC offers enough zing to make the “plug computing” concept a serious one.

    • Phones

      • Nokia/MeeGo/Maemo

        • Qt Goes To School – Free Training Course Material For Teachers

          Nokia’s Qt team has unveiled a new initiative – namely to build awareness about Qt – the library that is the building block of KDE – among students and academia.

          Choosing an appropriate library for your software is a significant first step to developing your product.

      • Android

        • China-based white-box vendors to offer below US$100 Android smartphones for emerging markets

          China-based vendors are poised to offer Android smartphones priced at below US$100 for sale in China and other emerging markets including India, Indonesia and Brazil in 2011, according to Taiwan-based handset and component makers.

        • FLOSS Beats Closed/Proprietary In a Competitive Environment

          Rumour has it that Nokia will switch either to Phoney 7 or Android. Are they crazy enough to jump from a burning platform to a sinking ship? I think they will go with Android so they can instantly offer what the competition offers and add their own expertise with phones. That will offer more than the competition and they will win share on brand recognition and features. The question remains what they will do about price. With Android they can provide a range of products all for similar cost of production but they can also sell some added value for higher prices.

        • Pre-Sale Of Android Powered ATRIX 4G Phone Starts Feb 13

          With the loss of iPhone exclusivity, AT&T has started leaning on Android. The company will be launching dozens of Linux-based Android phones in the coming weeks. Motorola, a company which came back from ashes thanks to Linux, is brining its ATRIX 4G phone with AT&T. The phone will be available for pre-sales on Feb 13.

        • Motorola Xoom Price Leaked, Cheaper Than The High-end iPad

          Some blog sites got hold of a Best Buy flier which reveals the pricing and availability of Motorola Xoom. The leaked price of Motorola Xoom is $799 for Wifi + 3G model. If we compare, the most powerful iPad is priced at $829 and has half of the hardware power that Motorola Xoom has. The same model of the iPad (Wifi+3G & 32GB) is only $70 cheaper. Motorola Xoom has much more powerful hardware — Nvidia Tegra 2: 1 GHz dual-core processor, 5 mega pixel main camera and 2 mega pixel camera for video chat. So, going by hardware, Motorola Xoom beats the iPad manifold.

        • Web-Based Android Market Is Not A Secuirty Risk, Yet

          Google has simplified the installation of apps via web Android Market. It has become extremely easy for users to surf the online web market and click on the ‘intall’ button if they want to install the desired app. The app will automatically install on your device. All you need is to log into the online web store with the same email ID you registered/activated your Android phone with.

        • Play Angry Birds Valentine’s Day Special On Android

          Extremely popular game Angry Birds is back with a new season special after Christmas. This time it is celebrating Valentine’s Day.

    • HP

      • Hewlett-Packard unveils Palm-powered tablets

        Hewlett-Packard (HP), the world’s biggest technology company, is making a major play for the multi-billion dollar mobile market with a slew of products based on its own operating system.

        At an event in San Francisco, the company announced two new phones and a long-awaited tablet computer.

      • HP TouchPad Crushes iPad’s Enterprise Dreams

        HP has marked its entry into the tablet segment. The company has finally released a WebOS powered tablet called HP TouchPad. HP’s tablet will crush Apple’s dreams of taking the ‘entertaining’ iPad to no-nonsense enterprise customers.

        HP has a better understanding, ties with businesses than Apple, as I understand. Additionally, the lifespan of Apple product is very short which increases the cost of ownership. The current iPad is extremely crippled when compared with the latest family of Android powered tablets.

      • HP TouchPad sports dual-core Snapdragon

        HP announced its first tablet PC running WebOS, using a new dual-core 1.2GHz version of Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor. The HP TouchPad offers a 9.7-inch, XGA multitouch display, up to 32GB of memory, a 1.3-megapixel, front-facing camera, optional 3G and GPS, plus a TouchStone-based technology for exchanging web URLs with select WebOS-based smartphones with a simple tap.

      • HP thinks small with WebOS-based Pre 3 and Veer phones

        HP announced two WebOS-based heirs to its Palm Pre phones, both with slide-out keyboards, Wi-Fi, GPS, Bluetooth, and five-megapixel cameras. The 3.6-inch, HP Pre 3 runs on a 1.4GHz processor and adds a front-facing webcam, and the 2.6-inch HP Veer offers an 800MHz processor, says the company.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Events

    • PLUG East Side Meeting

      The main purpose of the presentation is to demonstrate how a blind person can independently use a computer equipped with open source software and further demonstrate how the assistive technology works. Also, Steve wishes to conclude with a confirmation that blind people can not only use these configurations, but also be productive and that they have a right to use such.

    • POSSCON 2011 – I’m speaking

      I’m slated to speak this year at POSSCON 2011, the Palmetto Open Source Software Conference in Columbia, South Carolina, from March 23 to March 25.

    • Richard M. Stallman en Ciudad Real
  • SaaS

    • Lucas Carlson, Founder of Cloud-focused PHP Fog, Reveals What’s in His Stack

      Lucas Carlson has been a mover and shaker on the open source scene ever since he co-authored Ruby Cookbook, a comprehensive problem-solving guide for Ruby developers, and he also served as lead engineer for music-on-demand service MOG. Now, his startup company PHP Fog is red hot, and–as we’ve noted–Madrona Venture Group, Founder’s Co-op and First Round Capital have committed $1.8 million of Series A funding for the firm, a Portland-based cloud computing outfit focused on scalable Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) technology.

    • Open Source Cloud: Bitrock launches Bitnami Cloud Hosting

      Bitnami Cloud hosting – a new service aimed at simplifying the deployment of open source stacks in the hosting open source applications in the cloud (faq) – after few months of private beta-testing just went live today.

    • The Backstory of Yahoo and Hadoop

      Somewhat to my surprise, I was recently asked why Yahoo has put so much into Apache Hadoop. We currently have nearly 100 people working on Apache Hadoop and related projects, such as Pig, ZooKeeper, Hive, Howl, HBase and Oozie. Over the last 5 years, we’ve invested nearly 300 person-years into these projects. The Hadoop team at Yahoo is so passionate about our open source mission, and we’ve been doing this for so long, that we tend to assume that everyone understands our position. The recent evidence to the contrary motivates this post.

      Back in January 2006, when we decided to invest in scaling Hadoop from an interesting prototype to the robust scalable framework it is today, it was obvious that our direct competitors had or were building private implementations of map-reduce and clustered storage. We didn’t believe that this type of infrastructure would bring sustainable advantage to any one competitor: the needs of Web Search at the time were driving everyone in in a similar direction. Thus, instead of building yet another private implementation, we believed that investing in an Open Source solution would bring Yahoo! numerous benefits.

    • Why Yahoo Is Discontinuing Its Hadoop Distribution

      The big data marketplace has contracted a bit, as Yahoo is ceasing development of its Yahoo Distribution of Hadoop and will be folding it back into the Apache Hadoop project. The company announced the decision in a blog post yesterday, citing a goal “to make Apache Hadoop THE open source platform for big data” as a driving force behind its new strategy. It’s probably a wise idea, because having three free competing distributions — Yahoo, Apache and Cloudera — unnecessarily compartmentalized features and development efforts, and possibly left new Hadoop users with a tough decision in terms of which distribution to download and get to working on.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Gettings things done in Java – a chat with Eclipse Foundation director, Mike Milinkovich
    • Google Open Sources Java for Contract Under GNU LGPL

      Google has open source yet another tool — Contracts for Java. Google last week open sourced/freed App Engine for Mac OSX.

      Contracts for Java was inspired by Eiffel, a language invented by Bertrand Meyer, which has built in support for contracts.

    • Google’s Android Forked, Will It Affect Oracle’s Lawsuit?

      A group of developers announced at Fosdem that they have forked the Open Source Android project to create IcedRobot. The project contain two sub-projects – GNUDroid, GNUBishop.

    • New: OOo-DEV 3.x Developer Snapshot (build DEV300m99) available

      Developer Snapshot OOo-Dev DEV300m99 is available for download.

      DEV300 is the development codeline for upcoming OOo 3.x releases.

    • LibreOffice VS Openoffice

      When a group of German coders at OpenOffice (belonging to database major, Oracle) finally forked away on Sept28th 2010 there was much for everybody to talk about while Oracle OpenOffice maintained dignified silence. The tussle between a David and Goliath has always been fascinating to watch and the breaking away and regeneration of the minnow LibreOffice against the giant OpenOffice has all the makings of a great epic!

    • Hudson’s Bright Future

      We believe that Hudson users can look forward to a long, bright future.

      Working with the community, Oracle and Sonatype are each putting a number of full-time engineering resources on Hudson. The Hudson lead, Winston Prakash from Oracle, is highly skilled, very thoughtful, and he cares about the community. He is also the first person to create detailed, comprehensive architectural documentation.

    • Oracle patches decade-old ‘Mark-of-the-Beast’ bug in Java

      Oracle has squashed a decade-old bug in its Java programming framework that allows attackers to bring down sensitive servers by feeding them numerical values with large numbers of decimal places.

      The vulnerability in the latest version of Java was disclosed last month and reported by The Reg on Monday. The bug, which stems from the difficulty of representing some floating-point numbers in the binary format, made it possible to carry out denial-of-service attacks when Java applications process the value 2.2250738585072012e-308.

  • CMS

    • Open Source Takes Over Brussels Airport

      Just before the major open source conference — FOSDEM — kick-starts in Brussels, Pentaho, an open source company announced that Brussels Airport has shut windows on proprietary Oracle and IBM and opened doors to Pentaho’s open source solutions.

      But what was the driving force behind this migration, was it cost effectiveness of Open Source or the closed nature of proprietary technologies?

  • Business

  • Funding

    • Basho raises $7.5M to expand NoSQL database sales
    • EnterpriseDB pushes latest round to $13.6M

      Westford-based EnterpriseDB Corp. has bumped its most recent fundraising round from the initial amount of $7.5 million to $13.6 million. When the software company announced the initial round in July, it anticipated the round to cap at $12 million.

      Investors in the round when it was at $7 million included new investors Translink Capital and KT (Korean Telecom), along with previous backers Valhalla Partners, Charles River Ventures and Volition Partners (formerly Fidelity Ventures). The filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission did not disclose if any new investors had come on board in this latest increase.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Newly Published Edition of United States Standards Strategy Supports U.S. Competitiveness and International Trade

      The American National Standards Institute (ANSI), coordinator of the U.S. voluntary standards and conformity assessment system, is pleased to announce the release of the updated United States Standards Strategy (USSS) – Third Edition. The Strategy articulates the principles and tactics that guide how the United States develops standards and participates in the international standards-setting process.

    • Re-Examining Public and Private Roles under the NTTAA

      For more than 100 years, the United States has been the exemplar of the “bottom up” model of standards development. Under this methodology, society relies on the private sector to identify standards-related needs and opportunities in most sectors, and then develops responsive specifications. Government, for its part, retains ultimate control over domains such as health, safety, and environmental protection, but preferentially uses private sector standards in procurement, and also references private sector standards into law when appropriate (e.g., as building codes).

      Until recently, government agencies in the United States commonly developed their own standards for procurement purposes. This era of separate but equal standards creation officially came to an end with the passage of the National Technology Transfer and Advancement Act of 1995. With this legislation, Congress directed government agencies to use “voluntary consensus standards” (VCSs) and other private sector specifications wherever practical rather than “government unique standards,” and to participate in the development of these standards as well. In 1998, Office of Management and Budget Circular A-119 was amended to provide additional guidance to the Federal agencies on complying with the NTTAA.

    • PDK standards not in sight

      With disagreements over approaches to PDK standards, a solution that will enable and speed up new analogue and mixed-signal designs in a foundry is not expected anytime soon.


  • Berlusconi faces call to trial over claims of underage sex with prostitute

    Silvio Berlusconi is tomorrow facing the biggest threat yet of his tumultuous career, as prosecutors ask for him to stand trial for sex-related offences that carry a combined sentence of up to 15 years. It was also announced today that his trial for allegedly bribing British lawyer David Mills is to resume on 11 March.

  • Breaking the Web with hash-bangs

    Tim Bray has written a much shorter, clearer and less technical explanation of the broken use of hash-bangs URLs. I thoroughly recommend reading and referencing it.

    Lifehacker, along with every other Gawker property, experienced a lengthy site-outage on Monday over a misbehaving piece of JavaScript. Gawker sites were reduced to being an empty homepage layout with zero content, functionality, ads, or even legal disclaimer wording. Every visitor coming through via Google bounced right back out, because all the content was missing.

  • The Church of Scientology’s friends in Washington

    Along with some incredible new details, there are the previously reported stories of rampant physical abuse of underlings by church head David Miscavige, the church’s “Sea Org” full of underage workers signed to “billion-year contracts” performing manual labor for little to no money, and the tales of the church separating families and milking its members for thousands of dollars. The church is even under investigation by the FBI for what could amount to human trafficking.

  • Facebook and Google size up takeover of Twitter: report

    Google Inc and Facebook Inc, plus others, have held low level takeover talks with Twitter that give the Internet sensation a value as high as $10 billion, the Wall Street Journal reported.

  • Don’t deal away our sovereignty

    After months of secret negotiations, Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced last week his desire to seek a new security deal with the United States. The content of the proposal and the manner in which it came about raise serious questions about the government’s commitment to defending our sovereignty, our privacy and our rights as Canadian citizens.

  • Science

    • Smartest Machine on Earth

      Can a computer beat the best human minds on Jeopardy!? Live during our broadcast on February 9 at 10pm, follow bloggers below from the IBM Watson team, including David Ferrucci, head of the team; David Gondek, strategy team leader; and Eric Brown, DeepQA architecture specialist. Please note we will not be accepting comments from the general public.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Failure to act on crop shortages fuelling political instability, experts warn

      World leaders are ignoring potentially disastrous shortages of key crops, and their failures are fuelling political instability in key regions, food experts have warned.

      Food prices have hit record levels in recent weeks, according to the United Nations, and soaring prices for staples such as grains over the past few months are thought to have been one of the factors contributing to an explosive mix of popular unrest in Egypt and Tunisia.

    • Amish Smugglers’ Shady Milk Run

      Wearing a black-brimmed country hat, suspenders and an Amish beard, “Samuel” unloaded his contraband from an unmarked white truck on a busy block in Manhattan. He was at the tail end of a long smuggling run that had begun before dawn at his Pennsylvania farm.

      As he wearily stacked brown cardboard boxes on the sidewalk, a few upscale clients in the Chelsea neighborhood lurked nearby, eyeing the new shipment hungrily.

      Clearly, they couldn’t wait to get a taste.

      But he wasn’t selling them anything they planned to smoke, snort or inject. Rather, he was giving them their once-a-month fix of raw milk — an unpasteurized product banned outright in 12 states and denounced by the FDA as a public health hazard, but beloved by a small but growing number of devotees who tout both its health benefits and its flavor.

    • How the war on fake drugs risks harming the poor

      There is a lot of talk about the dangers of counterfeit medicines these days and, indeed, counterfeit drugs are dangerous things. But, says Oxfam in a new report today, the war on fake drugs in the developing world is being waged in a way that may suit the big pharmaceutical companies but poses very grave dangers to the health of the poor.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Egypt: 2011-2-9

      Protest in Egypt is approaching the kindling point. Previously youth and intelligentsia seemed to be involved in a major way. Now labour has stepped up. Protests have spread and now involve several large employers like the Suez Canal and the Ministry of Health. Yesterday the vice president of the country declared that the protests could not be allowed to continue much longer. The converse is also true. The dictatorship cannot be allowed to continue much longer.

    • A Villa in the Jungle?

      WE ARE in the middle of a geological event. An earthquake of epoch-making dimensions is changing the landscape of our region. Mountains turn into valleys, islands emerge from the sea, volcanoes cover the land with lava.

      People are afraid of change. When it happens, they tend to deny, ignore, pretend that nothing really important is happening.

    • Kuwaitis mourn the missing in Iraq

      After Iraqi troops occupied Kuwait in August 1990, hundreds of Kuwaitis and nationals of other countries went missing.

      The Iraqis were forced out by an international coalition in February the following year, but as the BBC’s Christian Fraser reports from Kuwait City, many people have still not been found.

    • Offices of outspoken Sri Lanka website burned down

      A group of men broke into the offices of a website critical of Sri Lanka’s government and set fire to it Monday, a journalist from the publication said, adding that he suspected a government role in the attack.

      Bennett Rupasinghe, news editor of LankaeNews.com, said the fire destroyed everything in the offices. He said the attackers could have been sent by the government as punishment for the website’s critical articles.

    • Two detained reporters saw methods of Egyptian secret police

      We had been detained by Egyptian authorities, handed over to the country’s dreaded Mukhabarat, the secret police, and interrogated. They left us all night in a cold room, on hard orange plastic stools, under fluorescent lights.

      But our discomfort paled in comparison to the dull whacks and the screams of pain by Egyptian people that broke the stillness of the night. In one instance, between the cries of suffering, an officer said in Arabic, “You are talking to journalists? You are talking badly about your country?”

    • The truth behind India’s nuclear renaissance

      The global “nuclear renaissance” touted a decade ago has not materialised. The US’s nuclear industry remains starved of new reactor orders since 1973, and western Europe’s first reactor after Chernobyl (1986) is in serious trouble in Finland – 42 months behind schedule, 90% over budget, and in bitter litigation. But India is forging ahead to create an artificial nuclear renaissance by quadrupling its nuclear capacity by 2020 and then tripling it by 2030 by pumping billions into reactor imports from France, Russia and America, and further subsidising the domestic Nuclear Power Corporation of India (NPCIL).

    • G4S security firm was warned of lethal risk to refused asylum seekers

      The multinational security company hired by the government to deport refused asylum seekers was warned repeatedly by its own staff that potentially lethal force was being used against deportees, an investigation by the Guardian can reveal.

      Details of how some G4S guards developed a dangerous technique for restraining deportees by bending them in aircraft seats is disclosed in official testimony drawn up by four whistle-blowers from the company.

    • France’s prime minister spent family Christmas break as guest of Mubarak

      The French prime minister, François Fillon, has admitted that he and his family spent their Christmas holiday as a guest of the Egyptian president, Hosni Mubarak.

      The admission came as Egypt’s president was grappling with widespread protests and calls for him to stand down, and as French ministers’ personal links with unpopular regimes in the region came under unprecedented scrutiny.

    • Mubarak’s Billions

      Should Mubarak skip the country, as Corey Pein points out in War Is Business, he might well do it in a business jet provided free of charge by the US taxpayers. “Pentagon contracts show that the US government has spent at least $111,160,328 to purchase and maintain Mubarak’s fleet of nine Gulfstream business jets. (For those keeping score, Gulfstream is a subsidiary of General Dynamics.)” War Is Busines provides copies of the actual contracts.

    • Suleiman: The CIA’s man in Cairo

      On January 29, Omar Suleiman, Egypt’s top spy chief, was anointed vice president by tottering dictator, Hosni Mubarak. By appointing Suleiman, part of a shake-up of the cabinet in an attempt to appease the masses of protesters and retain his own grip on the presidency, Mubarak has once again shown his knack for devilish shrewdness. Suleiman has long been favoured by the US government for his ardent anti-Islamism, his willingness to talk and act tough on Iran – and he has long been the CIA’s main man in Cairo.

      Mubarak knew that Suleiman would command an instant lobby of supporters at Langley and among ‘Iran nexters’ in Washington – not to mention among other authoritarian mukhabarat-dependent regimes in the region. Suleiman is a favourite of Israel too; he held the Israel dossier and directed Egypt’s efforts to crush Hamas by demolishing the tunnels that have functioned as a smuggling conduit for both weapons and foodstuffs into Gaza.

    • Wrongful Execution Reopens Death Penalty Debate

      Revelations that an Air Force private had apparently been wrongfully executed 15 years ago for the rape and murder of a five-year-old girl have reopened the debate over Taiwan’s retention of the death penalty.

      Taipei District and Taichung District prosecutors announced Jan. 28 that after a new investigation into the case, another former Air Force enlisted man had confessed to the crime.

      The announcement prompted President Ma Ying-jeou to apologise to the mother of then 21-year-old Air Force private Chiang Kuo-ching, who was convicted for the crime and executed by gunshot in 1997. Ma also promised “to use the swiftest legal procedure” to clear Chiang’s name and make reparations.

    • Open letter to the UN: Is the Goldstone report dead?

      As Palestinian and Israeli human rights organizations, we welcome your first visit to the region and take this occasion to ask: is the Goldstone report dead? Over two years have passed since the end of the Israeli offensive “Operation Cast Lead” on the Gaza Strip, and justice for victims has yet to be addressed.

    • Acpo chief calls for judicial oversight of undercover police operations

      Undercover policing operations should be authorised in advance by a judge, the head of the Association of Chief Police Officers (Acpo) said today.

      Sir Hugh Orde, the Acpo president, said the change was needed to restore public confidence in the system after concerns about the role played by the ex-Metropolitan police constable Mark Kennedy, who spent seven years posing as an environmental activist.

    • Egyptian opposition says no deal until Hosni Mubarak steps down

      Leading opposition groups in Egypt, including the Muslim Brotherhood, are standing by a demand that President Hosni Mubarak resign before there can be a political agreement to end two weeks of mass protests against his regime.

      Pro-democracy campaigners called another mass demonstration for Tuesday to keep up the pressure on Mubarak to quit in the face of the government’s attempts to marginalise the street protests as no longer relevant because political talks are under way.

    • Abusive Afghan Husbands Want This Woman Dead

      A 22-YEAR-OLD WOMAN lies naked on a tile platform. Ninety percent of her body is burned—her skin mottled brown and in places torn open, exposing the white tissue of seared muscle. Nurses bathe her with saline solution. An IV tube drips fluid into her right foot, one of the few unburned places on her body. The odor of her flesh mixes with lingering traces of the cooking fuel she doused herself with.

    • If You Thought the GOP’s “Rape Redefinition” Bill Was Bad…

      Last week, the GOP backed down from its attempt to limit the definition of rape under federal abortion law. But hold your applause: While the Republican leadership was removing the controversial “forcible rape” provision from the “No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act,” Rep. Joe Pitts (R-Pa.) was busy slipping a provision into a related bill, the “Protect Life Act,” that could prove just as controversial.

    • Boxer Introduces Legislation on Redeployment of U.S. Combat Forces from Afghanistan

      U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) this week introduced the Safe and Responsible Redeployment of United States Combat Forces from Afghanistan Act of 2011, which would express the Senate’s support for President Obama’s plan to begin the withdrawal of combat forces from Afghanistan in July 2011. It would also require the President to submit to Congress a plan for the phased redeployment of U.S. combat forces from Afghanistan, including an end date for the completion of that redeployment.

    • Human Rights Group Notes that Haiti’s Electoral Council Did Not Approve Run-off Elections (IJDH)
    • Evidence of 2002 Taliban Offer Damages Myth of al Qaeda Ties

      The central justification of the U.S.-NATO war against the Afghan Taliban – that the Taliban would allow al Qaeda to return to Afghanistan – has been challenged by new historical evidence of offers by the Taliban leadership to reconcile with the Hamid Karzai government after the fall of the Taliban government in late 2001.

    • Polar bear swam non-stop for nine days

      IN ONE of the most dramatic signs documented of how shrinking Arctic sea ice impacts polar bears, researchers at the US Geological Survey in Alaska have tracked a female bear that swam nine days across the deep, frigid Beaufort Sea before reaching an ice floe 685 kilometres offshore.

      The marathon swim came at a cost: with little food available when she arrived, the bear lost 22 per cent of her body weight and her year-old female cub, who set off on the journey with her, did not survive, the researchers said.

    • Swiss Miss Bush

      Justice for George W’s torture violations jumped much closer this weekend. Ex-President George W Bush was supposed to fly to Switzerland to speak in Geneva February 15. But his speech was cancelled over the weekend because of concerns about protests and efforts by human rights organizations asking Swiss prosecutors to charge Bush with torture and serve him with an arrest warrant.

      Two things made this possible. Switzerland allows the prosecution of human rights violators from other countries if the violator is on Swiss soil and George W admitted he authorized water boarding detainees in his recent memoir. Torture is internationally banned by the Convention Against Torture.

    • Time to follow Fields’ example and quit Afghanistan

      Arnold Fields, the special inspector general for Afghanistan, announced his resignation late on Monday evening – news that has virtually disappeared among all the other headlines from the Arizona shootings to Joe Biden’s surprise trip to Kabul. Yet the departure of the top US official who set up Sigar, the office charged with making sure that the $56bn that has been spent in Afghanistan was not wasted has the potential to be a milestone in the war in that country.

      Fields, a former major general in the US Marines, has been under public attack for over 18 months. Critics from Senator Tom Coburn, a Republican from Oklahoma, to Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri, have been calling for his resignation for months, as have watchdog groups like the Project on Government Oversight.

    • Immigration officer fired after putting wife on list of terrorists to stop her flying home

      An immigration officer tried to rid himself of his wife by adding her name to a list of terrorist suspects.

      He used his access to security databases to include his wife on a watch list of people banned from boarding flights into Britain because their presence in the country is ‘not conducive to the public good’.

      As a result the woman was unable for three years to return from Pakistan after travelling to the county to visit family.

    • Egypt Arrests 4 Facebook Activists [Updated]

      Egypt’s crackdown against anti-government protesters has ensnared at least four members of the April 6 Youth, a dissident movement organized largely through Facebook and other social media tools. Danger Room has learned that Amal Sharaf, one of the core members of the April 6 Youth, is among those arrested.

  • Cablegate

    • Leaked Security Firm Documents Show Plans to Discredit WikiLeaks, Glenn Greenwald

      Among those documents, an outline of plans to systematically discredit WikiLeaks, along with Salon journalist (and WikiLeaks supporter) Glenn Greenwald.

      A proposal entitled “The WikiLeaks Threat” was developed by Palantir Technologies, HBGary, Berico Technologies upon request from Hunton and Williams, a law firm whose clients include Bank of America, the bank widely rumored to be the target of WikiLeaks’ next leak.

    • Assange abused my cat: WikiLeaks insider
    • Secret plan to kill Wikileaks with FUD leaked

      Fear, uncertainty and doubt behind divide-and-conquer sabotage.

      Three information security consultancies with links to US spy agencies cooked up a dirty tricks campaign late last year to destroy Wikileaks by exploiting its perceived weaknesses, reads a presentation released by the whistleblowers’ organisation that it claimed to be from the conspirators.

      Around December 3, it was believed consultants at US defence contractors Palantir Technologies, Berico Technologies and HBGary proposed an alliance to lawyers for a desperate Bank of America to discredit the whistleblowers’ website using a divide and conquer approach.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Projections for 2010 Global Primary Energy Use

      While the BP Statistical Review of World Energy (2011) will not be published until this summer, I keep a notebook of global energy consumption throughout the year and below is my current estimate for 2010 data, by energy source. Once again it’s coal, of course, that is leading the way as coal is currently the only major global energy source that is significantly growing in both production, and consumption.

    • Punk US Oil Demand and Export Confusion

      The US is using spare refining capacity to export millions of barrels of oil products, while US domestic demand remains weak. One of the more common misunderstandings I see in energy circles right now is the idea that US oil demand has rebounded strongly since 2008.

    • Spain’s salad growers are modern-day slaves, say charities

      The exploitation of tens of thousands of migrants used to grow salad vegetables for British supermarkets has been uncovered by a Guardian investigation into the €2bn-a-year (£1.6bn) hothouse industry in southern Spain.

      Charities working with illegal workers during this year’s harvest claim the abuses meet the UN’s official definition of modern-day slavery, with some workers having their pay withheld for complaining. Conditions appear to have deteriorated further as the collapse of the Spanish property boom has driven thousands of migrants from construction to horticulture to look for work.

    • Whaling in Japan is on the verge of collapse

      In 2008, a colleague and I intercepted a box of whale meat intended as “souvenirs” for the Japanese whaling fleet’s crew. Greenpeace investigations of corruption inside the whaling programme funded by Japanese taxes, prompted by whistleblowers inside the industry, revealed that the embezzlement, gifting and eventual sale of prized whale meat cuts on the black market was a common practice.

    • Record Low Sea Ice

      Despite record cold in the US and Europe this winter, the Arctic has experienced unusual warmth. Sea ice has been slow to grow.

      The red line in the image above shows the average January sea ice extent from 1979 through 2000. The white marks the average Arctic sea ice concentration for January 2011—the lowest measured extent since satellite record keeping began.

    • Indians call on Brazil’s President to halt Belo Monte dam

      Hundreds of people, including over 80 Amazonian Indians, gathered yesterday outside the Brazilian Congress and Presidential Palace to protest at the proposed Belo Monte dam in the Amazon rainforest.

      A delegation of Indians entered the Presidential Palace to deliver a petition signed by around half a million people, calling on Brazil’s new President Dilma Rousseff to put a stop to the ‘disastrous’ dam.

    • Crabzilla! At 5 Feet Tall, Biggest Known Crab Heads to UK

      Hail Crabzilla! The Japanese Spider Crab is the biggest arthropod on Earth–their legs are believed to grow up to 12 feet long. But since they live at such great depths (typically 1,000 feet down or so) a full grown spider crab has yet to be caught. So for now, we’ll have to make due with the 5 foot long Crabzilla (that’s what it’s called–I didn’t make it up!), one of the largest known crabs in the planet.

  • Finance

    • Rich Take From Poor as U.S. Subsidy Law Funds Luxury Hotels

      The landmark Blackstone Hotel in downtown Chicago, which has hosted 12 U.S. presidents, opened in 2008 after a two-year, $116 million renovation. Inside the Beaux Arts structure, built in 1910, buffed marble staircases greet guests spending up to $699 a night for rooms with views of Lake Michigan.

      What’s surprising isn’t the opulent makeover: It’s how the project was financed. The work was subsidized by a federal development program intended to help poor communities.

    • Wonkbook: White House throws states a lifeline. But will the GOP let them catch it?

      Next week’s budget will include a complicated, two-pronged proposal to forgive the states some debt and give them access to more tax revenues after 2014. It’s evidence that the White House s pretty worried about both the long and short-term fiscal position of the states. Worried enough to propose a policy that’ll be called a “job-destroying” tax hike on a Hill (actually, it’s already been called that, as you’ll see in a moment). But this won’t necessarily be easy on the Republicans, either. Post-election, the GOP controls a lot of governor’s mansions and statehouses. And they’re looking at budget projection that frankly terrify them. A bit of help from the Feds may be ideologically unwelcome, but it also might be a lifesaver.

    • Banks in Britain Reach Deal on Pay and Lending

      The British government on Wednesday announced an agreement with the leading banks in the country to increase their lending to businesses to help the economic recovery, while reducing bonuses and increasing transparency in pay practices.

    • Cuts to SEC would imperil the market, says finance sector

      A rift is emerging between congressional Republicans and the financial-services industry over the funding of Wall Street’s watchdog: the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

      Republicans, riding campaign promises to cut spending, have had tough talk for the agency and its failings since before the financial crisis. But the financial industry worries that scarce funds are hampering the SEC’s work and could actually increase the burdens created by the Dodd-Frank financial reform law as stretched-thin regulators have to do more with less.

    • AIG expects 4Q charge of $4.1B for loss reserves

      American International Group Inc. said Wednesday that it expects a fourth-quarter charge of $4.1 billion to build up loss reserves for its Chartis property and casualty insurance units.

    • Plans Near for Freddie and Fannie

      The Obama administration and House Republicans are settling into a game of chicken over Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, with each side daring the other to advance a plan for replacing the two housing finance companies.

    • I.R.S. Offers a Tougher Amnesty Deal for Offshore Accounts

      Under the initiative, Americans with hidden offshore accounts have until Aug. 31 to come forward voluntarily and report the accounts to the I.R.S. in exchange for penalties that, while below what they would ordinarily pay, are still higher than those offered in an earlier amnesty program.

      The additional carrot in the new program is a continued promise by the I.R.S. not to prosecute those who come forward for tax evasion.

    • Fed Casts A Wide Net In Defining Systemic Risk

      The Fed says at least 35 companies, all of them big banks, may pose systemic risks, but that number could grow to include nonbanks like large hedge funds, insurers, asset managers and consumer finance companies. Even payment companies like Visa and MasterCard could face greater oversight under the Fed’s proposed guidelines.

    • Bernanke to face sharp questions from Republicans

      Bernanke is a Republican who served as President George W. Bush’s chief economist. Bush chose him to run the Fed in 2006.

      President Barack Obama ran into initial resistance in his effort to get Bernanke confirmed for a second term as chairman in late 2009. Republicans led the opposition, upset over the Fed’s role in bailing out Wall Street firms during the financial crisis. In January 2010, the Senate confirmed Bernanke for a second term, though by the narrowest margin for any Fed chairman.

    • Insider Inquiry Steps Up Its Focus on Hedge Funds

      The government has taken its strongest action against hedge funds as part of a vast investigation into insider trading on Wall Street.

      Federal prosecutors on Tuesday announced charges against three hedge fund managers, depicting a “triangle of trust” in which the three shared tipsters and illegally pooled confidential information about publicly traded technology companies. The complaint also details a brazen cover-up that involved destroying computer hard drives with pliers and tossing them into random Manhattan garbage trucks in the dead of night.

    • The optimists of Davos past now face a world whose script has gone awry

      Three Davos summits on from the west’s Great Crash, we begin to see where we are. This is not the total collapse of liberal democratic capitalism which some feared at the dramatic meeting here in early 2009, but nor is it the great reform of western capitalism, then the devout hope of Davos.

      Western capitalism survives, but limping, wounded, carrying a heavy load of debt, inequality, demography, neglected infrastructure, social discontent and unrealistic expectations. Meanwhile, other variants of capitalism – Chinese, Indian, Russian, Brazilian – are surging ahead, exploiting the advantages of backwardness, and their economic dynamism is rapidly being translated into political power. The result? Not a unipolar world, converging on a single model of liberal democratic capitalism, but a no-polar world, diverging towards many different national versions of often illiberal capitalism. Not a new world order, but a new world disorder. An unstable kaleidoscope world – fractured, overheated, germinating future conflicts.

    • Obama’s Onslaught on Community Action

      Having left the Wall Street Journal to interview National Community Action Foundation’s Director David Bradley after President Obama’s State of the Union sneak attack on the country’s community action programs, the New York Times has gone a step further in its neglect of a serious social issue. On Sunday Feb. 6 the newspaper published an editorial by White House Budget Director Jacob Lew, which called for a 50 per cent cut in financing for the Community Services Block Grant. Here was an unprecedented slash to a successful liberal program—one which has received scant review either by the Times or the President himself The famously noisy editorial staff offered no comment.

      In his State of the Union President Obama said he has “proposed cuts to things I care deeply about, like community action programs.” Since the President mentioned only this one program for proposed cuts, he could have at least forewarned Executive Director David Bradley who was seated in the gallery. He didn’t.

      When I interviewed Director Bradley he said, “I think this is a sea change, not a fiscal year change. What we are seeing is numerous agencies—good ones—all competing for the same federal dollars. What this proposed cut has done to our network has sent us a chilling message. It says that our leaders have seen the goodwill expressed towards our work in communities and the successful work of our agencies—especially in the downturn—but are telling us, ‘No thanks.’ That is a hard bitter message to swallow.”

    • IMF loan policies ‘hampering aid efforts’

      A study has tested whether aid to tackle disease and improve healthcare actually translates into a better health system for the countries that receive it.

      The Oxford-led study found that aid that went to some of the poorest countries was not used to supplement existing spending on public health projects, but instead aid often displaced state spending. Countries that relied on loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) were found to channel the least aid towards its intended purpose.

    • Corporate America’s Public Enemy No. 1: The EPA

      On Monday, House oversight committee chair Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) released more than 100 letters he has received from corporations, trade groups, and associations outlining the regulations they’d like to see changed. The letters make clear that the Environmental Protection Agency is corporate America’s top target.

  • Censorship

    • Thai webmaster on trial in free speech test case

      The head of a popular Thai political website went on trial today, charged with violating the country’s tough internet laws in a case seen as a bellwether for freedom of expression in the politically troubled nation.

      Chiranuch Premchaiporn, manager of the Prachatai website, faces up to 20 years in jail on 10 separate charges of failing to promptly remove offending comments posted on the website by readers.

    • 11 Muslim students face charges in UCI protest

      Eleven students were charged Friday with conspiring to disrupt a speech last year by the Israeli ambassador to the United States at UC Irvine.

      The incident occurred Feb. 8, 2010, when Ambassador Michael Oren was the featured speaker on campus at a meeting co-sponsored by several organizations. Eleven Muslim students were arrested in the incident.

  • Civil Rights

    • The Constitutional Liberty We Lost

      David N. Mayer: We are facing a vast expansion of the 20th century regulatory and welfare state, and in debates over the welfare state it’s important that people understand that the regulatory state has been built on a number of important myths: myths about economics, myths about history, and myths about constitutional law.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/UBB

    • In telecom competition, it’s all about culture

      Political reluctance to open Canada’s $40-billion telecommunications industry to foreign competition boils down to one thing: culture.

    • The Usage Based Billing Consultations: What the CRTC and the Government Should Do Next

      The controversy over usage based billing has shifted from public frustration and demands for change to several public consultations. Yesterday, the CRTC posted its consultation notice, which gives Canadians until April 28, 2011, to provide their views. Since the CRTC asks whether oral hearings are needed, it seems likely the issue will not be resolved until the summer or early fall at the earliest. In addition to the CRTC consultation, the Standing Committee on Industry continues its investigation into the issue with hearings this week (independent ISPs appeared yesterday, Open Media, Bell, and Shaw are up Thursday) and Shaw Communications announced that it is freezing the implementation of usage based billing pending a customer consultation on the issue.

    • Paying so much for bandwidth, getting so little

      The great Canadian billing brouhaha has begun to attract attention in the United States. It’s not every day that one sees national leaders weigh in on something seemingly as obscure as “bandwidth caps.”

      It’s also odd, as the Internet gets faster, to hear Bell Canada complain about “congestion” as if it were 1999. I suppose there are strange things done under the midnight sun, and the instinct of Stephen Harper and his cabinet to pay some attention to the issue righteous. For hidden in the complexity of billing policy is part of a larger movement to change some of what we take for granted about the Internet. And it’s starting in Canada.

    • BCE profit up 25%

      BCE Inc.’s profit is up sharply, with the telecom and media company’s net income in the fourth quarter rising by 25.4 per cent to $439 million. That’s a rise from $350 million in the comparable period of 2009.

    • New digital divide? Internet caps far higher in Western Canada

      Internet customers in Western Canada are being spared from the stringent pricing regimes their counterparts on the other side of the country have become unwitting victims of, at least for now.

    • Software glitch triggers inflated data usage for some Bell customers

      The Bell Canada software that helps customers calculate how much bandwidth they’ve used each month has gone offline in the middle of a national debate over Internet pricing.

      As the furor grows over so-called usage-based billing — a regulatory change by the CRTC that would allow larger providers to charge per-byte prices to small Internet providers that lease space on their networks — the tool that allows Bell’s own customers to calculate their usage has been taken down.

  • DRM at SCOny

    • Hearing on TRO in SCEA (Sony) v. Hotz Tomorrow at 10 AM – At Hotz’s Request

      This is last-minute-y, but there’s going to be oral argument tomorrow morning at 10 AM in Sony Computer Entertainment America v. Hotz regarding the temporary restraining order. It’s at Hotz’s request, by the way, because tomorrow is the day he’s supposed to turn over his computers to Sony, and he’d like to have a chance to speak, to present to the judge his concerns. It seems there never was a hearing on the merits of the TRO, so tomorrow is his opportunity to explain why he feels it’s too broad, at a minimum.

    • Fake Sony PS3 VP Tricked Into Tweeting PS3 Security Key

      As Sony continues its quixotically backwards attempt to delete the PS3 jailbreak code from the world, it appears that they might want to start by informing their own ad firm not to tweet the code. As a whole bunch of you sent in, apparently a guy named Travis La Marr tweeted the PS3 security key at the Twitter account of “Kevin Butler,” who describes himself as a VP at PlayStation. Of course, if you’ve seen any PS3 commercials, you would know that “Kevin Butler” is actually a made up person — a character played by actor Jerry Lambert.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Canadian Bar Association Speaks Out On Bill C-32

        The Canadian Bar Association, which represents 37,000 lawyers, law professors, and students from across the country, has released an important submission on Bill C-32. The submission, which was approved as a public statement by both the National Intellectual Property and the Privacy and Access Law Sections of the CBA, does a nice job setting out the debate over Bill C-32 (I was once a member of the CBA’s Copyright Policy section but was not involved in the drafting of the Bill C-32 document).

      • Canadian Council of Archives on C-32: Digital Lock Rules Disastrous For Long-Term Access

        The Canadian Council of Archives, a national non-profit organization dedicated to nurturing and sustaining the nationwide efforts of over 800 archives across Canada, has submitted a brief to the C-32 legislative committee and requested an opportunity to appear.

      • Canada’s wild digital frontier needs policing

        Bill C-32: the Copyright Modernization Act sounds so boring you’re in danger of falling asleep halfway through its title. Yet U.S. President Barack Obama raised this apparently innocuous piece of legislation when he met Prime Minister Stephen Harper last week and urged Canada to take steps to strengthen its intellectual-property rights.

        The reason is that Hollywood is a powerful lobby in Washington and it is fed up having its expensive motion pictures and TV shows ripped off by Canadian peer-to-peer file -sharing pirates.

      • Makers of ‘The Expendables’ Sue 6,500 BitTorrent Users

        With worldwide box-office grosses totalling $274 million since its premiere in August of last year, The Expendables can be classified as a modest blockbuster. The film also did well on file-sharing networks such as BitTorrent, but thus far without any direct revenues. In an attempt to cash in on these unauthorized downloads, the makers of the film stood by an earlier warning and sued 6,500 BitTorrent users in the United States.

      • MPAA threatens to disconnect Google from the Internet

        Over the last few months, Google has received more than 100 copyright infringement warnings from MPAA-affiliated movies studios: most are directed at users of Google’s public Wi-Fi service but others are meant for Google employees. The MPAA is thus warning the search giant that it might get disconnected from the Internet.

Clip of the Day

Fosdem 2011 Keynote Eben Moglen Part 1 of 3

Fosdem 2011 Keynote Eben Moglen Part 2 of 3

Credit: TinyOgg

Links 10/2/2011: PC Pro Covers and Uses GNU/Linux, Linux-powered WebOS Advances

Posted in News Roundup at 8:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Once Upon A Time, There Was A USB Vulnerability In Linux

    But can a cracker do it?

    Everything boils down to the level of security. From the ‘level of security’ point of view, GNU/Linux systems are secure by design so the vulnerability rate is million times lower than that of insecure by design systems like Windows. When it comes to core system, fixes don’t wait for Tuesdays, they come immediately.

    After this background, I restate GNU/Linux systems are ‘almost’ immune to attacks. If Windows is like a bicycle, GNU/Linux is like an armored tank.

    A Demo Of USB Vulnerability
    IBM’s expert Jon Larimer recently gave a demo about a *previous* vulnerability in Evince, the document viewer for GNU/Linux systems, which could be used to compromize a system.

    According to an Ubuntu vulnerability report published on January 5, 2011, “Jon Larimer discovered that Evince’s font parsers incorrectly handled certain buffer lengths when rendering a DVI file. By tricking a user into opening or previewing a DVI file that uses a specially crafted font file, an attacker could crash evince or execute arbitrary code with the user’s privileges. In the default installation of Ubuntu 9.10 and later, attackers would be isolated by the Evince AppArmor profile.”

  • Desktop

    • PCPro to run on Ubuntu – for one day only

      PCPro – a website and magazine purposed primarily around Windows – are to switch operations to Ubuntu for one day.

    • Can we run PC Pro on Ubuntu?

      Tomorrow PC Pro is going to put its money where its mouth is. To coincide with the release of the new edition of PC Pro – which features our Ultimate Guide to Ubuntu on the front cover – we’re going to attempt to run the magazine and website exclusively on Ubuntu-based PCs*.

  • Server

    • Stock exchange Linux system at forefront of proposed merger

      The London Stock Exchange’s Linux-based trading system is at the forefront of a proposed merger between the venue and Toronto Stock Exchange parent TMX, announced late last night.

      The LSE immediately put its money where its mouth is, proposing 40 million of technology investment to put the two companies onto a common technology setup, led from London. Exact details of technology plans are expected to be announced shortly.

    • Linux Servers Are the Smart Business Choice

      Linux servers are the smart business choice; Windows servers are not. In this series we’ll look at how server and network admins can get started learning Linux, and in future installments learn about excellent Linux/FOSS servers and software for all business tasks.


      FOSS does not punish you for sharing ideas and implementations; quite the opposite.

  • HP

    • HP to Put Linux in Printers and PC’s: It’s the End of an Era for Windows

      I attended HP’s press conference this morning and Linux again took center stage as a major technology leader revealed the details of its mobile device strategy. HP announced two new WebOS phones and more importantly an impressive new tablet that is a clear contender against the iPad. While I don’t for one second underestimate Apple, that was not the most interesting part of the event for me.

      The most interesting part of the event came near the end when HP announced that it is going to ship WebOS not only in phones, tablets and printers, but in PC’s as well. In doing so, the worlds largest PC supplier is indicating that they are going to ship PC’s without Windows. For Microsoft – who was nowhere at this event – that has got to hurt. Perhaps this really IS the year of the Linux desktop.

    • WebOS could be a Contender

      What I found most interesting though was that HP is planning on taking webOS 3.0 to laptops and desktops as well. What’s this!? HP wants to get into the Linux-based desktop operating system business!? As my buddy from the Washington Post, Rob Pegoraro put it, “‘We’re going to bring webOS to PCs’” almost two hours into a keynote raises the bar on burying the lede.”

  • Kernel Space

    • Ralink in-kernel drivers

      Instead of the old boring “here’s what drivers are being merged and deleted” and the like as I’ve posted in the past, I thought I’d just write about one specific project that has recently gone public that I think is a great indicator of how far the Linux Driver Project has come these days.

    • Ralink Adds RT5390 Support To Open WiFi Driver

      Back in September there was the major victory for the open-source and Linux hardware support communities when Broadcom open-sourced an 802.11n Linux driver after years of their WiFi chipsets being notorious under Linux. There’s another wireless chipset vendor now getting more serious about open-source driver support too and that’s Ralink. They’ve now contributed patches to the rt2x00 driver project that enables their new RT5390 chipset family to be used by this open-source Linux wireless driver.

    • Kernel Log: updated Radeon drivers, mdadm and ALSA

      A new version of the AMD driver from X.org improves support for modern Radeon graphics chips. An updated mdadm, initially only designed for developers, allows the RAID functions of modern Intel motherboard chip-sets to be used. After nine months, the ALSA project has published a new version.

    • Samsung Laptops and Linux
    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA’s Looking To Expand Its Linux Team

        NVIDIA’s Andy Ritger updated the thread their forum seeking a new Linux software engineer. Candidates for this position must have three or more years developing software for Linux/UNIX, be very strong in programming C, have three or more years experience in writing low-level software, have experience with OpenGL and be familiar with 3D concepts, experience in working on large/complex software components, be experienced in debugging, knowledge of the x86 architecture, graphics driver experience, and carry a BS degree or equivalent.

      • Wayland Looks To Do Multi-Monitor The Right Way

        Two weeks ago the hot discussion item being talked about by those interested in the Wayland Display Server was how to handle input with Wayland (e.g. using X Input, create a separate “Inland” input project, or designing something entirely different). The new subject now brought up on the Wayland mailing list is how to handle multiple monitor support. Fortunately, it looks like Kristian plans to implement multiple monitor/display support in a different — and better — way than how it’s dealt with by the X.Org Server.

        The multi-monitor topic was brought up by Marty Jack after he wrote a patch that allocates the CRTCs to avoid black screens on multiple monitors. Up to this point, Kristian Høgsberg, the creator of Wayland, hasn’t really said how he would like support for multiple monitors to be implemented. That changed though this afternoon. In Marty’s email, he mentions, “I don’t know what Kristian’s ultimate vision of this is. Do we allow windows to move like they do now on a virtual desktop where you can slide one to a RightOf monitor by dragging it and it appears part on one and part on the other? A lot of the data structure and processing change for multiple monitors would depend on whether it is possible to have one pair of big FBs added to both CRTCs at the same time, with different (x,y,w,h) if it is tiled and the same (x,y) if it is cloned or how he would want to handle this case [moving the rbo, fb_id, image up to drm_compositor]. With some philosophical guidance I could get the underpinnings in place.”

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • KDE Has Many Web Services

        KDE has quite the array of web services, and the sysops team has done some pretty neat things in the last months. Recently Tom’s post on geoaware anongit DNS caught my eye. It made me wonder — what kinds of goodies in general is KDE hosting?

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Gnome Shell Gets Automatic Workspaces [Video]

        Remember the Gnome Shell automatic workspaces mockup we’ve talked about a while back? It has just been added to the main Gnome Shell branch today.

        However, the automatic workspace Gnome Shell implementation seems to have more in common with this Unity mockup than the initial Shell mockup: the Unity mockup proposed to always have an empty workspace so the user doesn’t have to create it while the Gnome Shell mockup proposed to never have an empty workspace. Either way, the idea seems very good so it doesn’t matter where it came from. Too bad this won’t be in Unity too – unfortunately Mark Shuttleworth turned it down.

  • Distributions

    • AriOS 2.0 – Looking good, babe, looking good

      AriOS is a pleasant and unexpected surprise, showing a lot of careful attention to details and hard dedication. Well executed, on all levels, including a surprising touch for aesthetics, which typical geeks are not graced with. We can only hope the project will flourish.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Upgrade from lenny to squeeze – first impressions

        Otherwise I am quite satisfied with the result of the upgrade. A huge “thank you” to all people involved in the development of squeeze.

      • SimplyMEPIS 11.0 Starting to Look Good

        So, all in all, SimplyMEPIS 11.0 is shaping up quite nicely. It appears it is going to be the familiar SimplyMEPIS we all know and love for its loyal users with nice appeal for new users.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Project Bossanova To Set A New Trend in Ubuntopia.

          Project Bossanova, launched by Ohso wants to deliver the first ever 3D game that runs exclusively on Ubuntu/Linux to Ubuntu fans all over the world.

          Ohso is no stranger to Ubuntu fans as they bring out trending news, opinions and tips for Ubuntu lovers through their websites like the all too famous OMG! Ubuntu, Ubuntu Gamer and OMG! SuSE! Ohso’s contributions to the Ubuntu world do not end here. Their new mobile applications for Ubuntu are in the production phase and the download links are expected to hit websites soon.

        • Documentation Updates Reflect Appeal to Developers by Ubuntu

          With these difficulties in mind, Ubuntu developers and community members long ago developed the Ubuntu Packaging Guide to help software developers navigate the various intricacies of Debian packaging, so they can distribute their work more easily to Ubuntu users.

        • Unity

          • Random small bling

            And lastly, Jason’s made it so that when you drag a certain file type into the launcher the application that launches it stays lit, but the rest “shut off”. So assuming you have say, GIMP and Shotwell in your launcher dragging a .png close to the launcher will keep those lit and the ones that don’t support .png will not be lit. Small, but slick.

          • Unity Bitesize Report for 8 Feb

            Cando’s been working on two fixes (which are under review). The first is being able to middle click on a maximized window title in the panel and have that be pushed to the background.

            In case you didn’t know, you can middle click on window titlebars and they get pushed behind other windows. This can be a very handy window management technique, but now that we’ve welded the title bar with the top panel when a window is maximized this was missing. So thanks to Cando for preserving this bit of “UNIX Law that this feature must exist” on our desktops.

          • Progress Meters, quicklists, and number count for the Unity Launcher

            We now have an API for applications to leave a progress meter and/or a number on their launcher. The wiki page is a bit sparse so expect more detail there over the coming week.

          • Unity Launcher API: ready when you are

            A while back we mentioned that the Unity Launcher in Natty was to add support for badges/counts, transfer/progress bars and ‘quick lists’ on launcher icons, similar to that seen in use on Docky.

          • Unity Launcher API
  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Putting Android Apps on Non-Android Phones

        How could a non-Android device run software made specifically for Google’s Android platform? It sounds like a stretch. In reality, all apps that run on Android phones or tablets run in a virtual machine (VM), which Google calls Dalvik. The solution is much like the Java Virtual Machine on a desktop: it’s a constrained software implementation of a computer via software code. It brings greater security because apps in a VM are essentially walled off from other applications and from the device’s operating system. When the app in a VM crashes, it has no effect on other applications or on the operating system, ensuring stability. This video demo of Myriad’s solution on a Nokia N900 running MeeGo shows that it performs on a level equal to that of the same app running on a comparable Android device.

      • Smartphone Shipments Surpass PCs for First Time. What’s Next?

        Vendors shipped 100.9 million smartphones during the fourth quarter, according to Monday data, while IDC logged 92.1 million PC shipments during the same time period, according to IDC numbers from January.

        The milestone was first noted by Fortune, which said that smartphones surpassed PC shipments much faster than expected. A Morgan Stanley analyst predicted it might happen in 2012.

      • Nokia/MeeGo/Maemo

        • Three Qt Web Runtime games for the N900

          Jusso Kosonen has written three puzzle games for the N900 using the Qt Web Runtime:

          * Block Drop is a Tetris clone
          * In RectBlock you should create rectangle shapes with four corner blocks
          * In Color Line you reate lines with three same colored blocks in horizontal or vertical direction.

        • MeeGo roadmap updated

          The MeeGo project has updated its roadmap. The project will now release Meego 1.2 in April 2011 and plans to release MeeGo 1.3 in October, moving to a biannual release schedule. The six-monthly release schedule has been a target for the MeeGo developers as they establish their open development and release process.

      • Android

        • Android Update Latest – Edition 456

          Teleca, maker of software solutions for the automotive and mobile industries is announcing today that they have created an Android platform for SiriusXM. This will allow manufacturers to embed SiriusXM on top of an Android build into say, vehicles, boomboxes and other things. (This is all assuming that people are going to want to still pay for satellite radio service).

        • Google’s Android: A Billion-Dollar Ad Business In 2012?

          Munster notes that former CEO Eric Schmidt last summer said he though Android could be a $10 billion business if there were 1 billion users each generating $10 a year – and the analyst contends the company is well on the way to hitting the $10 per user level. Pointing out that Google has said it is on a $1 billion annual run-rate in mobile advertising, he estimates that the company had $850 million total mobile revenue in 2010, with Android generating about 16% of the total, or around $130 million, which would translate to $5.90 per Android user. (That implies about 22 million Android users for 2010.)

        • 1.6 billion phones sold as Android grows 888.8%
        • Tech-savvy volunteers create Android application to help fight child trafficking

          As the movement becomes more structured and organised, people have stepped forward to volunteer their skills in various ways. One of the more exciting announcements yesterday was the launch of an Android app for the campaign called 乞讨儿童数据库, or the Beggar Children Database.

    • Tablets

      • Say Hello To The Palm Touchpad

        It’s official: HP/Palm is releasing a new tablet called the Touchpad. Precentral has some hot news about this new 10-inch Palm slate. It is a touchscreen device running WebOS. It weighs 1.5 pounds and 13mm thick and has a front webcam as well as up to 64GB of storage.

Free Software/Open Source

  • A Darwinian theory of open source development strategies

    In the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin explains his theory of natural selection, and compares with man’s selection – or artificial selection – in the breeding process to produce a desired characteristic. Compare this with the single vendor model in which the vendor drives the development of a project to meet its commercial needs.

    If we think about development models and processes then it is possible to the various potentially competing players in collaborative communities as having a similar impact on the development of a particular project as various potentially competing factors – climate, habitat, existence or dearth of predators etc – do in the evolutionary process.

  • 27 Inspiring Blender Animations That Will Make Your Jaw Drop

    Well, I’ve been hanging out in the Blender community for the last 8 years and so I’ve encountered quite a lot of blender animatons. You’d be surprised at the quality of blender animations out there.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox roadmap, Do-not-track update, New beta, Summer of Code and much more…

        In this issue…

        * Firefox in 2011
        * Meet Mike Hommey
        * Help teach girls the power of the Web!
        * What’s up with Socorro?
        * Results of the Firefox 4 FIXED Bugday
        * Introducing Perf-O-Matic 2.0
        * Mozilla and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation partner
        * More on Do-not-track!
        * Mozilla in Summer of Code 2011
        * An Overview of the AMO Review Process
        * Design Jam London #2
        * It’s a wrap: FOSDEM
        * Software updates
        * Upcoming events
        * Developer calendar
        * About about:mozilla

      • Do Not Track arrives in Firefox beta, ad industry not on board yet

        Mozilla has rolled out an eleventh beta release of Firefox 4, the next major version of the browser. In addition to the usual assortment of bugfixes and performance improvements, the new beta also adds support for a “Do Not Track” setting.

        The implications of behavioral advertising are a growing source of concern among privacy advocates. In an effort to appease regulators, the most prominent Internet advertising companies voluntarily offer a cookie-based opt-out service that allows users to indicate to advertisers that they don’t want to be tracked. It’s a good start, but Mozilla sees a lot of room for improvement.

      • Wiki Wednesday: February 9, 2011
      • Firefox Takes Unusual Approach In Unveiling ‘Do Not Track’ Option

        For all the talk among among policymakers and the press about online privacy, it still isn’t clear how much average consumers are even aware of online ad tracking. Firefox, the browser of choice for a third of all internet users, is apparently looking to change that. The beta of the latest version of Firefox trumpets the new “Do Not Track” feature prominently—listing it, in large font, as the very first item on the “What’s New in Firefox 4” page. The move could increase the pressure on other browser companies as well as advertisers to beef up their own privacy options.

      • Time to Stop Managing Tabs

        There have been many add-ons to Firefox that help users organize their tabs to hide unwanted tabs. One approach is to automatically place newly opened tabs as children of a parent tab, and another is to let the user manually group tabs by dragging them over each other. Now with a group of tabs, the user can collapse the group to appear as a single item to give more space to the remaining tabs.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Contracts for Java

      If you’ve ever spent hours debugging your Java code, today’s blog post is for you.

      Often bugs that are frustratingly elusive and hard to track down appear simple or even trivial once you have found their cause (the fault). Why are those bugs hard to track down? One possibility is that the fault is in a completely different part of the program than its symptom (the failure).

    • LibreOffice 3.3: First Impressions

      LibreOffice is a cross-platform (Windows, Macintosh, Linux) OO.org derivative productivity suite that includes the six original OO.org applications: Writer, Calc, Base, Impress, Calc, and Draw. The LibreOffice project has also merged code, patches, and other resources from the now discontinued Go-oo project.


      Sure, LibreOffice 3.3 is basically a recolored OO.o, at this point.

  • CMS

  • Project Releases

    • MuseScore 1.0 is released

      We are proud to present MuseScore 1.0, our best and most stable release to date. MuseScore 1.0 is free software available for Windows, Mac and Linux and translated in 35 languages. It is the ideal solution for creating beautiful sheet music.

    • Shutter 0.87

      New version of Shutter, a somewhat underestimated screenshooting tool for Linux, is out with both internal and user visible changes.

  • Government

    • IdealGov evidence to Public Admin Select Cttee enquiry into government IT

      4. It’s true that Government expenditure on IT has been excessive in the last decade. It’s the highest per capita spend of any major European economy, approaching the very high per capita spend of Nordic countries which offer higher and far more e-enabled levels of social care. Reasons include large, unmanageable centralised systems, excessive supplier margins, inflexible contracts which exact punitive charges for essential changes. But above all the problem is a deeper and wider failure to ensure government IT is based on the right intentions.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Designing assessment and credit pathways for open education learners

      Getting students formal credit for their free and open education is a challenge, but groups and institutions are working around the world to come up with alternative pathways to recognition. The Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) is one such group that explored the topic in an assessment workshop last September and then co-designed virtual “badges” for recognition in real time at the Mozilla Drumbeat Festival in Barcelona. P2PU and Mozilla are piloting these badges via the P2PU School of Webcraft, and have solicited would-be developers for the skills and competencies that would best be reflected by a badge system. In collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation, they have drafted An Open Badge System Framework: A foundational piece on assessment and badges (Google doc).

    • Community

    • Open Access/Content

      • The Open Knowledge Foundation will soon help to run ePSIplatform

        We’re proud to announce that the Open Knowledge Foundation is part of a new team which will take on the maintenance of ePSIplatform project for the next two years. As many of you will know ePSIplatform is a key resource for people interested in laws, policies and practices related to the reuse of European Public Sector Information (PSI).

      • Thoughts on the HEFCE Review of JISC

        Finally the thing I felt most uncomfortable was the seeming dismissal of JISCs support of the ‘open’ agenda as being ‘controversial’. This smacked of publisher influence and made me a little sad.


        So many of my beliefs about the (open) web were founded during my time at JISC thanks to the opportunities I was given and the amount of doors that were opened up to me just by being a member of JISC that I’ll always be supportive of the organisation no matter what direction it goes in but I think my support would wane considerably if ‘open’ was off the table.

  • Programming

    • SourceForge.net Gets a Shiny New Look

      Today we are proud to unveil a brand new look, which will lay a clean, simple foundation for the rebirth of the entire SourceForge.net site.

    • Eclipse takes on content management

      The Eclipse Foundation is making a move into content management, with Nuxeo donating Java-based content management repository services to the open source tools organization.

      The Eclipse Enterprise Content Repository project is being unveiled Wednesday. It features such services as versioning, authentication, and document content management from the Nuxeo Enterprise Platform. The project, if it gains its expected approval, will build on the initial contribution to deliver a modular content repository leveraging the CMIS (OASIS Content Management Interoperability Services) standard, Nuxeo said. The company said it is spinning off the project in an effort to spur innovation in the content management space.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • W3C Priorities and Milestones in 2011

      Last year I published several posts about our efforts to establish a new vision for the W3C organization. I wanted to update you on how we have turned the results of the organizational vision task forces into specific plans and actions.


  • Obama Creates World’s First Superstate With US-Canada Merger
  • Harper scorns Commons call to reverse corporate tax cuts; opposition wins vote

    Opposition parties have joined forces to demand that the Harper government reverse tax cuts for the largest, most profitable corporations.

    A Liberal motion calling on the government to roll back the corporate tax rate to 18 per cent has passed by a vote of 149-134, with the support of the NDP and Bloc Quebecois.

  • Mayor of Detroit rejects RoboCop statue suggestion

    Paul Verhoeven’s RoboCop was a classic of 80s action cinema. So why won’t the mayor of Detroit erect a statue in the law enforcer’s honour…?

  • The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind
  • High-ranking Scientologist’s defection, in detail

    I’ve casually followed scandals regarding the C of S for decades, mostly out of curiousity about the “free personality tests” I’d see as a kid, and later, because of high-profile anti-anonymity/dirty tricks involving the Internet, starting with the outing of the users of the anon.penet.fi remailer. There wasn’t an enormous amount of new material in here, though Wright does a good job of spinning out Haggis’s remarkable life in Scientology and in the entertainment industry, and, towards the end, some damning material about physical abuse and financial malfeasance from the Church’s highest leaders.

  • Are Federal Courts Biased in Favor of Big Business?

    A panel discussion today at the New York University School of Law explored the touchy subject of whether business interests hold too much sway over federal judges.

    Moderated by NYU’s Arthur Miller, a/k/a Mr. Federal Court and organized by the American Constitution Society, the discussion was a veritable who’s who of high-wattage thinkers from the worlds of academia (George Washington’s Jeffrey Rosen), public policy (Monica Youn of the Brennan Center for Justice) private practice (Latham & Watkins’s Maureen Mahoney and trial lawyer Stephen Susman), along with many, many more.

  • Cisco Linksys routers still don’t support IPv6

    It’s hard to fathom why Cisco hasn’t added IPv6 to its Linksys consumer routers yet, but the company has promised support will come this spring.

  • The 10 types of crappy interview questions
  • Huffington Should Pay the Bloggers Something Now

    We already know that Arianna Huffington is smart. She and her small team have built a media company from nothing in just a few years, and now they’re flipping it to AOL, where she’ll be content editor in chief. The price sounds bizarrely high to me at $315 million, but so do lots of prices these days in what looks like a new Internet bubble.

    Others have commented at length on the synergy of the deal. If AOL is going after a link-driven community, the blend could work in the long run. The Huffington Post has been evolving from its origins, as the left-wing op-ed page of the Internet, into a blend of aggregation, curation, pandering — all of which have been done with some genuinely intriguing if not innovative technology initiatives — and some home-grown content. The first three of those are likely to be, in the end, much more important for the business than the original content.

  • Huffington Post and AOL: the end of Web 2.0

    It’s because we write for HuffPo for free, and – because it’s Arianna – we do it without resentment. There’s value being extracted from our labour, for sure, by advertisers or whoever, but the sense was always that we were writing for Arianna – contributing to an empire that spent its winnings bussing people to watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert do their thing in Washington.

  • Bloomsbury eyes worldwide rights

    As digital platforms grow and morph, it’s getting harder to understand who owns what rights. In the Publisher’s Weekly piece, Bloomsbury’s Richard Charkin said “Bloomsbury won’t do a deal that doesn’t include digital rights.” This concept of including digital rights will become even more important as publishers such as Harper Collins start packaging digital rights with audio rights.

  • Cameron’s approach to “British values” is outdated and divisive

    David Cameron’s speech in Munich on the failure of multiculturalism showed that the Prime Minister has not yet learnt to master nailing jelly to the wall either. There was little new in a speech, which emphasised the muddled thinking within the coalition on this sensitive issue.

  • My Life as an EIR

    While there are as many variations on the EIR position as there are venture firms, there are two flavors, generally speaking: Entrepreneur-in-Residence and Executive-in-Residence. Most firms have some experience with Entrepreneur-in-Residence programs. Essentially, they give office space, coffee and food to a proven entrepreneur so he or she can spend a few months researching or prototyping a new product or service.

  • Science

    • Our misunderstanding of evolution is distressing

      This Saturday, Feb. 12, would have been Charles Darwin’s 202nd birthday. While his place in history is assured, the theory he popularized is misunderstood or disbelieved by a great number of Americans.

      Recent polls have found that out of the world’s democracies, the United States ranks second to last (Turkey is last) in acceptance of evolution. This is disturbing, as it contributes to the decline of American power in the 21st century.

    • House Republicans push energy and science cuts

      But with Obama pushing for targeted increases in scientific research and other areas, consensus will not come easily.

    • Google’s Eric Schmidt predicts the future of computing – and he plans to be involved

      In the days when Eric Schmidt first starting getting excited by computers, the only way he could find directions to the next town would be by looking at a map. Printed on paper. In a book.

      The only way he could find out what his friends thought of a restaurant in New York would be by ringing them, each individually, and asking them.

    • Without language, numbers make no sense

      People need language to fully understand numbers. This discovery – long suspected, and now backed by strong evidence – may shed light on the way children acquire their number sense.

      Previous studies of Amazon tribes who lack words for numbers greater than three – or, in the case of the Pirahã, for any numbers at all – had shown that they struggle to understand precise quantities, when numbers are relatively large.

    • NASA Invents New Technique For Finding Alien Life

      Researchers from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., have come up with an idea to improve on an old standby of space exploration instruments and improve the odds of finding life, if any, on Mars.

    • Kepler Data Visualized

      Last week the Kepler satellite released results indicating that the mission had discovered over 1200 planetary candidates (most of which are expected to be actual planets) orbiting stars in our neighborhood of the galaxy. In technical terms, that’s a “buttload.” A back-of-the-envelope calculation implies that there might be a million or so “Earth-like” planets in our Milky Way galaxy. A tiny fraction of the hundred billion stars we have, but still a healthy number.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Tories team with Liberals to kill genetically modified food legislation

      Liberal MPs teamed up with the Conservatives on Wednesday to kill legislation that would have required the government to take into account a Canadian farmer’s access to overseas markets when considering approval of new genetically modified seeds.

      The private member’s bill, authored by the NDP’s agriculture critic, was voted down in the House of Commons 178 to 98, following an aggressive lobby campaign by the biotechnology industry’s group, BIOTECanada.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Israel bombs medical aid warehouse in Gaza

      Israeli aircraft carried out a number of air raids on the Gaza Strip early on Wednesday 9 February, destroying a medical aid warehouse in Gaza City. The raids began shortly after midnight, hitting several places across the Strip, from Jabaliya in the north to the Rafah border with Egypt in the south.

    • Just How Rich Is Hosni Mubarak?

      While a fifth of Egyptians live on less than $2 a day, Mubarak is worth somewhere between $40 billion and $75 billion, CNN’s Tom Foreman estimates. Egyptian law fixes the president’s income, and forbids any outside sources of money. Foreman reports that Mubarak’s wealth likely comes from his time in the military–he probably had a hand in military contracts and kept up his contacts over the years. That said, peruse at these photos, and you might also give credence to some of the other theories as to how Mubarak got quite so rich–contracts don’t really seem to explain this kind of opulence.

    • 28 hours in the dark heart of Egypt’s torture machine

      The sickening, rapid click-click-clicking of the electrocuting device sounded like an angry rattlesnake as it passed within inches of my face. Then came a scream of agony, followed by a pitiful whimpering from the handcuffed, blindfolded victim as the force of the shock propelled him across the floor.

      A hail of vicious punches and kicks rained down on the prone bodies next to me, creating loud thumps. The torturers screamed abuse all around me. Only later were their chilling words translated to me by an Arabic-speaking colleague: “In this hotel, there are only two items on the menu for those who don’t behave – electrocution and rape.”

    • Reagan Revisionism And Reagan Mythology

      Before I wade into this, I should summarize my view of Reagan. I don’t think he was a great president. The main accomplishment which he’s credited, winning the Cold War, is one in which his policies contributed a very small amount. The most important cause of the fall of the Soviet Union by far was its failed, unsustainable political and economic system, which would have eventually collapsed regardless of American policy. (It’s interesting that conservatives’ mania for crediting Reagan with the fall of the USSR has required them to downplay the inherent faults of communism, which you’d think they’d naturally emphasize.) The second factor, a distant second, is the postwar containment architecture, created by Harry Truman and maintained by every president through George H.W. Bush, which including a military commitment to defend Western Europe, a series of anti-Soviet alliances, military support for governments threatened with communist invasion and occasional diplomatic or military support for anti-communist guerillas. A third factor, far less significant than the second, was Reagan’s incremental ratcheting up of the bipartisan containment policy, which may have slightly hastened the Soviet crackup.

    • Omar Suleiman, “Egypt’s Torturer-in-Chief,” Tied to False Iraq WMD Tortured “Intel”

      Mayer added to her piece: “Katherine Hawkins, a sharp-eyed human-rights lawyer who did legal research for my book, points out that, according to [author Ron] Suskind, Suleiman was the CIA’s liaison for the rendition of an Al Qaeda suspect known as Ibn Sheikh al-Libi. The Libi case is particularly controversial, in large part because it played a role in the building of the case for the American invasion of Iraq.”

    • Since D.C.’s handgun ban ended, well-heeled residents have become well armed

      Since the landmark court ruling in June 2008, records show, more than 1,400 firearms have been registered with D.C. police, most in the western half of the District. Among those guns, nearly 300 are in the high-income, low-crime Georgetown, Palisades and Chevy Chase areas of Northwest.

      In all of the neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River – a broad swath of the city with more than 52,000 households, many of them in areas beset by poverty and drug-related violence – about 240 guns have been registered.

    • An expert view on the Police.uk crime map

      Ultimately, any information-sharing initiative like this should have, at its core, a set of outcomes that the initiative hopes to achieve. What do we want people to do with this information? Then, with these outcomes in mind, we must ask whether the initiative provides enough information, or the right type of information, to achieve them.

      For instance, advocates of these measures usually say that they want the public to be able to see where the hot spots are and take steps to prevent their own victimization. So what information would a typical citizen need to prevent victimization?

    • Businesses still waiting for G20 compensation

      Business owners in Toronto have asked for more than $10-million in compensation in lost profits following last summer’s G20 Summit that shut down portions of the downtown core, the federal government has revealed.

      There have been 371 applications for ex-gratia payments to the Summit Management Office that total $10,656,869.

      As of Jan. 5, 44 claims had been rejected, according to documents tabled last week in response to written questions from NDP MP Olivia Chow.

    • Shooting the Messenger: Egyptian Journalist Shot Dead by Sniper While Covering Cairo Protests

      The only journalist known to have been killed during the Egyptian uprising was honored Monday in Cairo. Ahmed Mohamed Mahmoud was a reporter for the state-owned newspaper Al Ta’awun. He was shot on January 28 when he tried to use his phone to film riot police as they fired tear gas canisters at protesters.

    • Ghonim and Suleiman: The Two Sides of Egypt

      One man is an emotional 30-year-old protest leader and regional manager for the world’s largest Internet company who has become the reluctant face of a revolutionary movement.

      The other man is a reserved 74-year-old former longtime head of the feared Egyptian General Intelligence Services who was appointed as a dictator’s first vice president in the midst of a national crisis.

      Together, Wael Ghonim and Omar Suleiman have come to represent the two sides of the revolutionary unrest in Egypt. Each personify the struggle not just in their current statements and behavior, but also in their backgrounds and the manner in which were thrust from the shadows into the limelight as the protest movement took shape.

      Suleiman could be described as not just a member of the establishment in Egypt – it’s also probably fair to give him a good bit of credit for having helped prop up Mubarak’s regime for nearly two decades. Often described as suave and collected, Suleiman has used his fluency in English and powerful position in the intelligence services to become an important go-between for Washington and Cairo.

    • U.K. Police Will Use Twitter to React to Protestors

      While some countries aim to stop revolution by cutting off access to services like Twitter and Facebook, others try to turn social media use on its ear and use these services to monitor its population. Late last month, the Egypt erupted in revolution and the government quickly shut off all social media, before shutting down the Internet entirely. China has taken a similar stance, banning sites like Twitter and Facebook for long periods of time, as an attempt to prevent protests, among other things.

  • Cablegate

    • Lawyer: Julian Assange Was in Hiding — from Sarah Palin

      Julian Assange could not be reached by the Swedish authorities who are investigating sex-crimes allegations against him because the WikiLeaks founder had become spooked by “death threats” issued by American politicians, including Sarah Palin, Assange’s Swedish lawyer told a British court on Tuesday.

    • Britain, France, and U.S. considered suspending war crimes investigation into Sudanese president

      During the summer of 2008, Britain, France, and the United States discussed the possibility of delaying the Internatoinal Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into Sudanese President Omar Hussein al-Bashir — if Bashir’s government played ball in Darfur and Southern Sudan. According to a series of cables released by WikiLeaks on Tuesday, the three powers considered enticing Sudan’s president with an Article 16 deferral of his indictment — a U.N. Security Council resolution that could suspend the investigation for up to 12 months. According to an August 2008 cable, “If ‘played right,’ the UK [United Kingdom] assessed the leverage of an Article 16 deferral could provide an opportunity to ameliorate conditions in Darfur and possibly the [implementation of the] Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) [that ended conflict between northern and southern Sudan].”

    • Details on the strange death of a former Chilean president

      The death of former Chilean President Eduardo Frei Montalva is that country’s equivalent of the John F. Kennedy assassaination: a national mystery around which so much speculation circulates that no truth will probably ever be known. On a January day in 1982, Frei checked into the hospital in the capital, Santiago, for what should have been a routine operation. Hours later, he was dead. His family and supporters believe he was poisoned. A December 2009 cable released by WikiLeaks on Tuesday offers odd details about what happened next — including an in-hospital autopsy — that will only further stoke the conspiracy theories.


      So in short, no resolution and lots more intrigue. As the December 2009 cable puts it: “the death of this emblematic president seems destined to be yet one more area [from the Pinochet years] in which the full truth may never be known.”

    • Air Force Abandons WikiLeaks Threats Against Servicemembers’ Families

      The US Air Force has backed off of its puzzling threat to prosecute members of servicemembers’ families for “espionage” if they read WikiLeaks today, insisting that the “guidance” they released was actually not sanctions by headquarters and was not in keeping with official policy.

    • WikiLeaks hearing set in dispute over Twitter data

      Share 99

      A federal judge in Virginia has set a hearing for next week in a high-profile case that will decide whether the U.S. Justice Department can obtain records about the Twitter accounts used by WikiLeaks activists.

      The hearing, scheduled for February 15 in Alexandra, Va., is expected to focus on whether the Justice Department has the legal justification for its request for the account details, and whether the almost-entirely-secret court records in this case should be made available for public viewing.

    • Americans for Assange
    • Crowdsigliere: Plouffe Asks for a Little Public Guidance

      The Obama White House’s latest effort to use this here Internet to connect members of the public with folks working inside the executive branch is a little project they’re calling “Advise the Advisor,” where-in an administration official frames what’s happening on the presidential front and then asks for feedback from anyone who cares to give it. Think of it as “Your Direct Line to the White House,” said the White House at the program’s launch yesterday, and in the first installment, David Plouffe, the Obama campaign manager who joined the administration in a formal capacity last month, asks for takes from the masses on what they’re seeing in the world of innovation, and in particular what seems to be stymieing it in the United States at the moment.

    • Please explain uranium move, Greens demand

      The Australian Greens are demanding the Gillard government explain whether it privately supports uranium sales to India.

      Leaked WikiLeaks cables reveal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson told US officials in 2009 a deal to supply India with nuclear fuel could be reached within years.

      The stance contradicts the government’s public position of insisting that India sign up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty before being allowed to import Australian uranium.

    • WikiLeaks exposes Oz double speak on uranium sale to India

      Ferguson also said that former prime minister and serving foreign affairs minister Kevin Rudd had been “careful to leave the door open” for uranium sales to India.

    • EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Wikileaks, Assange, And Why There’s No Turning Back

      Half a year later, Assange was no longer a relatively obscure Australian transparency activist. “CollateralMurder.com”–WikiLeaks’ publication at of a decrypted American military video showing two U.S. Apache helicopter gunships firing on and killing about a dozen Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters journalists–had vaulted him onto the global stage. And with our annual New York PdF conference around the corner in June, Andrew and I thought we had pulled off a coup: the first-ever face-to-face appearance of Assange with his hero Ellsberg, on stage together to talk about how the Internet was changing the power of whistleblowers.

    • WikiLeaks: oil deal executive ‘was paid £46,000 a month’

      Mark Rollins, vice-president of BG Group in Kazakhstan, was overseeing negotiations about selling a stake in an oil field to Kazmunaigaz, the state-owned oil company.

      In January the US ambassador in Kazakhstan had dinner with Maksat Idenov, former vice-president of Kazmunaigaz. As he arrived at the restaurant in Astana, the capital, Mr Idenov was apparently finishing a call to Mr Rollins.

      According to the ambassador, he was angry because Mr Rollins had failed to deliver a letter about arbitration of the oil field to the energy minister.

      The cable states: “When the Ambassador arrived, Idenov was barking into his cell phone, ‘Mark, Mark, stop the excuses! Mark, listen to me! Mark, shut up right now and do as I say! Bring the letter to my office at 10pm’.”

    • Data intelligence firms proposed a systematic attack against WikiLeaks

      After a tip from Crowdleaks.org, The Tech Herald has learned that HBGary Federal, as well as two other data intelligence firms, worked to develop a strategic plan of attack against WikiLeaks. The plan included pressing a journalist in order to disrupt his support of the organization, cyber attacks, disinformation, and other potential proactive tactics.

    • Did Security Firms Pitch Bank Of America On Sabotaging WikiLeaks?

      According to a report at the tech news site Tech Herald, data intelligence firms including Palantir, Berico and HBGary were all recruited by the law firm Hunton & Williams to propose ways of subverting or sabotaging WikiLeaks on behalf of Bank of America. Those plans were found in the hacked email account of HBGary executive Aaron Barr, after he was targeted by the loose hacker group Anonymous in retaliation for what the group believed was an attempt to infiltrate its ranks and identify members to the FBI. (Forbes reporter Parmy Olson interviewed Barr about the ongoing incident Tuesday.)

      Among the files pulled from those 50,000 stolen emails are what appear to be suggestions by the firm and its collaborators about how WikiLeaks could be weakened, sabotaged or shut down. The emails suggest the three security firms were pulled together at the request of the law firm Hunton & Williams. One month into the talks, Booz Allen Hamilton was also brought in as a consultant, as the New York Times reported in January.

    • Wikileaks: No 10 urged commander to play down Afghanistan failures

      A senior adviser to Gordon Brown put pressure on the commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan to play down the “bleak and deteriorating” situation to reduce criticism of his government, leaked documents disclose.

    • WikiLeaks: Mohamed ElBaradei was ‘too soft on Tehran’

      The United States and Israel warned that Mohamed ElBaradei, a key leader of the Egyptian opposition, was soft on Iran and was becoming “part of the problem” in the Middle East, according to leaked diplomatic cables.

    • Why Kim Jong-il wished Egypt’s Mubarak a Happy New Year

      In this Jan. 23 photo, North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Il talks with Naguib Sawiris, executive chairman of Cairo-based Orascom Telecom, at an undisclosed place in North Korea. Kim held talks with the Egyptian telecoms magnate whose company set up and operates an advanced mobile phone network in the impoverished communist nation.

    • WikiLeaks: Hosni Mubarak told US not to topple Saddam Hussein

      By ignoring his advice and invading Iraq, Mr Mubarak warned that the Americans had managed to increase the threat posed by Iran.

      Mr Mubarak made the comments during a breakfast meeting with US congressmen at the presidential palace in Cairo in December, 2008.

      He told one of the delegation, Sen Byron Dorgan, that the US needed to ”listen to its friends” in the region.


      “’I told (Vice President) Cheney three or four times’ that Iraq needed a strong leader and that it would be unwise to remove Saddam Hussein; doing so would only ‘open the gate to Iran.’ Unfortunately, he said, the vice-president did not listen to his advice.”

    • WikiLeaks fights to keep Twitter data from U.S. government

      An Icelandic lawmaker and two other people associated with the website WikiLeaks are asking a federal judge not to force the social networking site Twitter to turn over data about whom they communicate with online.

      The dispute cuts to the core of the question of whether WikiLeaks allies are part of a criminal conspiracy or a political discussion. It also challenges the Obama administration’s argument that it can demand to see computer data and read months’ worth of private messages, even if they have nothing to do with WikiLeaks.

    • Greg Mitchell: WikiLeaks vs. Donald Rumsfeld’s Lies: An Eyewitness Account

      WikiLeaks’ massive “war logs” release on Iraq last October exposed Rumsfeld in this regard over and over, but were quickly forgotten by mainstream journalists — even though the material was not “political” or even from the media but rather from U.S. soldiers on the ground.

    • Air Force: Reading WikiLeaks is espionage

      This is something of an interesting twist in the larger WikiLeaks espionage debate, which is proceeding apace. Today in Alexandra, Virginia, WikiLeaks supporters are in court to try to prevent the U.S. government’s request to Twitter to reveal their private information. Ostensibly, tweeters who helped disseminate the leaked cables could be implicated in any eventual espionage case against the whistle-blower organization.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • WikiLeaks May Have Just Confirmed That Peak Oil Is Imminent

      It’s getting more and more difficult to deny that an oil supply crunch is just a few years down the road, especially now that WikiLeaks has released cables revealing that Saudi Arabia’s oil reserves have been exaggerated by as much as 40%, or 300 billion barrels. Saudi Arabia is the world’s largest oil exporter.

    • Attack Of The Anti-Green Mutant Right Wing Computer Geek

      So let’s get this straight. There’s some huge conspiracy that exists to claim Climate Change is real, and it exists because there’s some huge economic benefit to scientists and certain companies.

      And this benefit is so huge that it’s killing small businesses like Exxon, BP, etc. that are in the oil and coal businesses. It’s going to kill thousands of U.S. jobs, even though most of the jobs in the oil business are actually overseas, where the oil is actually pumped! Which doesn’t mention the thousands of workers required to build, install and maintain wind turbines, solar cells, etc.

      When things don’t add up, you have to look carefully at the numbers. First let’s look at those small businesses which are under threat by the powerful Climate Change Lobby:

      Exxon Mobil – Sales of $269 Billion for 3/4 year – from Jan. 2010 to Sept. 2010

      BP – Sales of $239 Billion for 2009 – 2010 report not finished yet

      OK, let’s take a step back. The rich Climate Change Bullies were pushing around a bunch of small businesses. At least that’s the impression we were given. But the numbers don’t make those look like small businesses. Not small at all. Hell, Microsoft often considered one of the most successful companies on the planet only managed sales of $62 Billion in fiscal year 2010.

      These companies are big enough to look out for themselves. Why is everyone concerned about the Climate Change Bullies hurting them? Could the Climate Change Bullies even have any effect on them? Rather it would seem like the classical mouse-elephant confrontation.

  • Finance

    • The Myth of Obama’s Big Spending

      Does the president really suffer from what House Speaker John Boehner calls a “spending illness”? Not according to an exclusive Newsweek-Daily Beast estimate of his outlays on new legislation since taking office.

      Nothing unites Republicans quite like the unshakable belief that Barack Obama has become the Carrie Bradshaw of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, unable to stop himself from frittering away ridiculous sums of money on frivolous things. But what Republicans never mention when railing against Obama’s alleged fiscal recklessness is how much money he has spent, and what exactly he’s spent it on.

    • Organized Crime: The World’s Largest Social Network
    • Banks agree Project Merlin lending and bonus deal

      A long-awaited agreement with the largest UK banks on lending, pay and bonuses has been announced.

      Under Project Merlin, banks will lend about £190bn to businesses this year – including £76bn to small firms – curb bonuses and reveal some salary details of their top earners.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Glenn Beck: Should Fox Toss Him Out of the Coop?

      Glenn Beck is walking toward a cliff — or running, or skipping. The question is, will Fox News go flying over the edge with him, or give him a push?

      For years, Beck has pitched various conspiracy theories with a rather predictable thrust: The left is out to take over and/or destroy the United States. (The relationship between assuming control of the country and scheming its decimation has always been a bit fuzzy.) And his targets have been sinister lefty outfits that are not household names: the Tides Foundation, ACORN, and others. As long as Beck stuck to this classic tale — secret commies undermining this great land of ours — he wasn’t much of a problem to most conservatives and his patrons at Fox. Sure, some conservative commentators (such as David Frum) derided Beck. But Beck was more like the crazy uncle in the attic who could be ignored. And Fox News could bank the revenue Beck generated without worry. Good ratings forgive much.

    • Olbermann Said to Be Going to Current TV

      Keith Olbermann, the former MSNBC anchor, will host a prime time program for Current TV, the low-rated cable channel co-founded by Al Gore. The one-hour program will begin sometime in the spring.

      Mr. Olbermann will also become the chief news officer for Current, the company said in a news release Tuesday.

      “We are delighted to provide Keith with the independent platform and freedom that Current can, and does uniquely offer,” Mr. Gore said in a statement.

    • Fox News Brings Video Game Violence Debate To a New Low
  • Censorship

    • French LOPPSI Bill Adopted: The Internet under Control?

      Yesterday afternoon, the French Parliament voted the LOPPSI bill whose 4th article enables administrative censorship of the Internet, using child protection as a Trojan horse. Over time, such an extra-judiciary set-up will enable a generalized censorship of all Internet content. Consistent with Nicolas Sarkozy projects for a “Civilized Internet”, administrative censorship of the Internet opens the door to dangerous abuse while leaving pedophiles and pedo-pornography to prosper.

    • Egypt’s Internet Blackout Highlights Danger of Weak Links, Usefulness of Quick Links

      In response to ongoing protests, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak ordered a shutdown of all Internet access for five whole days, from January 28 to February 2, but social media and news continued to flow in and out of the country thanks to a group of protagonists dedicated to supporting the flow of information.

      EFF board member and co-founder John Gilmore once described the technical robustness of the Internet against censorship by saying: “The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it.” Egypt’s Internet blackout demonstrated an additional dimension to this adage: that the Internet’s anti-censorship features are enhanced by, and to some extent may depend upon, the willingness of individuals and companies to stand up for free expression.

    • Stop the Switch!

      Inspired by Egypt’s ability to cut off internet access to almost all of its people, governments around the world are racing to develop the same kind of “internet kill switch.” As we saw in Egypt, information blackouts created by shutting off the internet, fundamentally deny people their freedom of speech, prevent them from doing business online, and stop them from communicating with their friends and family. The spectre of an internet kill switch is now facing people living in democracies and dictatorships alike — there is even an “internet kill switch” bill before the U.S. Congress!

  • Civil Rights

    • Rank-and-file reject Patriot Act

      House Republicans Tuesday night got a harsh introduction to the majority, as more than two dozen rank-and-file GOP lawmakers voted against reauthorizing the Patriot Act.

      And just hours before the vote on the Bush-era homeland security measure, GOP leaders yanked a trade bill from consideration as the Ways and Means Committee is “working through issues.”

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/UBB

    • Shaw backs away from usage-based Internet billing

      Shaw Communications is suspending plans to charge customers for going over their Internet usage limits.

      Company president Peter Bissonnette said one option that could be considered is a no-cap, unlimited Internet service.

      Shaw made the move in response to consumer outrage that was fuelled by a crackdown on customers who exceed the bandwidth caps on their Internet plans — a crackdown that coincided with a CRTC decision that effectively put an end to unlimited Internet plans in Canada. “We’re putting everything on hold,” Bissonnette said.

    • French Government Wants to Sacrifice Net Neutrality

      By giving telecom operators the possibility to sell prioritized access to the network, the government would put an end to equality among Internet users. Time after time, Nicolas Sarkozy’s vision of the “Civilized Internet” that he’s promoting at the G8/G20 level is coming to light: an Internet controlled by the State and by telecommunications and entertainment industries, while fundamental liberties are shunted to the side.

    • Why the US should be very worried about Canada’s debate on Usage based billing

      Canada and the US have many similarities with respect to the makeup of the Internet market. Both countries’ Internet markets are largely controlled by a duopoly of cable and telephone companies. This ersatz competition between telephone and cable companies has given regulators and policy makers on both sides of the border the excuse that this supposed competitive market will solve all problems. More importantly both countries are also allowing major concentration of ownership between pipe and content providers. In the US it is the marriage of Comcast and NBC. In Canada it is Bell and CTV as well as Shaw and Global TV.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Whiners, mercenaries and alternatives

      Large telecommunications companies, copyright stock owners and some content producers complain that large centralized content sites now concentrate a large share of Internet usage, creating unbalance in the traffic. These centralized sites are accused of free riding without contributing to financing infrastructures nor remunerating artists (read producers and distributors).

    • Copyrights

      • Spanish author mocks Latin pop star copyright troll to benefit hungry kids in Africa

        Via the BB Submitterator, reader GuidoDavid says, “Juan Gómez-Jurado, who wrote a great piece against criminalizing of downloads in Spain, was challenged by copyright troll, tax dodger and singer Alejandro Sanz to offer his novel for free. He did, and donated the resulting 4000 euros to the charity Save The Children.”

      • Judge rules ACS:Law cases to continue

        ACS:Law and its client MediaCAT have failed to see 27 cases of alleged illegal filesharing discontinued, the London Patents Count Court heard today.

        Judge Birss QC confirmed the cases have been stayed, saying the notices of discontinuance were an abuse of the court’s processes.

        Earlier this month, it emerged both MediaCAT and ACS:Law had shut down and wanted the proceedings, which they initiated, to come to a close.

      • Your tweets aren’t private and can be quoted in the UK press

        The decision by the Press Complaints Commission follows a complaint from a government official whose tweets about being hungover at work were published in the Daily Mail and Independent on Sunday newspapers. The BBC reports that Sarah Baskerville claimed that she had a reasonable right to expect privacy on Twitter.

      • Is Downloading And Converting A YouTube Video To An MP3 Infringement?

        The reality is that this is yet another case of the law not being able to keep up with technology. There simply is no intellectually honest rationale that says recording songs off the radio is legal, but recording songs off your computer is illegal. It’s a weak attempt by an industry that doesn’t want to deal with changing technology to put in place laws that prevent what the technology allows. Those never work.

      • R.E.M. Stands For R.E.M.I.X. (The SoundCloud Singles)

        R.E.M.’s upcoming album Collapse Into Now is coming in March, but the band is already getting the buzz going with a little crowdsourcing experiment. A couple days ago, the album’s producer released some tracks from the song “It Happened Today” in files that can easily be imported into Garageband, the music mixing software that comes on new Macs. Fans are invited to remix the song and upload their new versions under Creative Commons license to SoundCloud.

      • Your chance to re-make the UK’s IP laws in the image of a startup

        Back in November last year the UK’s Prime Minister said he was announcing a number of initiatives aimed at technology companies. Since then there have been a few periphery announcements from the various large tech companies (Google, Facebook et al) about what they would do to help. But one thing that was on the agenda was a review of the Intellectual Property rules. PM David Cameron confirmed a six month review into IP law that he hopes will help attract technology companies to the UK.

        The US position on IP leans towards a ‘fair use’ environment, whereby IP can be used to a certain level without owner consent. This is very close the to Creative Commons licenses which aided the growth of startups like Flickr. In the UK copyrighted material is more highly restricted in use. Generally in Europe we rely too much on copyright and not enough on innovation. Witness Nokia’s suing of Apple for instance.

      • Anti-transparency

        IMPORTANT NOTICE: None of the information contained in this legal notice is to be transmitted and/or released to any third party, including but not limited to Chilling Effects (chillingeffects.org), without the express written permission of the the copyright owner and or his agent. As stated in Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and in the normal course of processing and notifying the infringing counter party, recipient must only include information specific to that counter party’s infringement and must not include this entire notice. Any re-transmission in whole or in part of this legal notice by the intended recipient will be a direct violation of U.S. and International Copyright Law and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law by the copyright owner.

      • MPAA sues Hotfile file sharing service

        On behalf of U.S. movie studios, the MPAA filed the civil lawsuit against Hotfile and its operator, Anton Titov, in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida, for damages and injunctive relief for violations under the United States Copyright Act of 1976. Hotfile is based in Panama City, Panama.

      • Filesharing prosecutions will face serious problems, says judge

        A senior court judge has pointed to severe problems with the way the Digital Economy Act enables copyright owners to prosecute people accused of illegal filesharing.

        Judge Birss QC said on Tuesday that the process of connecting copyright infringement to a named individual based on their use of an internet address is fraught with difficulties because internet connections, or IP addresses, are often used by more than one person.

      • Is It Copyright Infringement To Pass A DMCA Notice On To ChillingEffects?

        Yes, that’s right. The company is claiming that the DMCA takedown notice itself is copyrighted and that passing it along will constitute infringement. Of course, this raises some questions. Assuming that such a notice is copyrightable (and I’d argue that, depending on the text, it might not be), who owns the copyright. The paragraph above appears to imply that it’s the copyright holder of the original content that the takedown notice is about, but that wouldn’t be true. It seems that the copyright, if there is one, would be held by whoever wrote the letter, which is the third party firm hired by the original copyright holder. Also, did whoever write this letter actually register it with the Copyright Office?

      • Recording Industry Persecution Complex: Claiming EMI’s Plight Is Due To File Sharing

        Can someone — anyone — explain how getting people to stop downloading creates a profit anywhere? Getting people to stop downloading doesn’t magically make them start buying. And it’s not like EMI hasn’t been among the efforts by all the major record labels to get legislation changed for years, and all of that has done absolutely nothing to stop file sharing. It’s pure folly to suggest that there’s some sort of magical legislative move that will stop unauthorized file sharing and create “profits” at the same time.

      • Usenet Portal Loses Landmark Court Case Against BREIN

        FTD, one of the largest Usenet communities on the Internet, has lost the legal proceedings it started against Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN. The case, through which FTD hoped to have its operations declared legal, today resulted in a verdict which prohibits community members from talking about ‘locations’ where copyright infringing material can be downloaded.

        Founded in 2001, FTD is The Netherlands’ largest Usenet community with around 500,000 members. FTD and its associated software allows its members to ‘spot’ the location of material they find on Usenet, which could include the locations of copyrighted movies, music and TV shows.

      • Will the MPAA Target RapidShare, Megaupload or Dropbox?

        Hollywood opened up a new front in its war against piracy Tuesday by taking the Florida-based file host Hotfile.com to court. Hotfile facilitates copyright infringement “on a staggering scale,” the Motion Picture Association of America alleged, and “profits handsomely” from distributing unlicensed copies of major motion pictures and TV shows.

        This is the first time the movie studios have taken a so-called one-click file host to court, and the legal arguments used in the lawsuit could spell trouble for sites like Megaupload and RapidShare, or even backup services like Dropbox.

      • ACTA

        • EU: ACTA Is A Binding Treaty; US: ACTA Is Neither Binding, Nor A Treaty

          We’ve noted in the past how the US government (mainly via the USTR) has worked hard to try to play down the importance of ACTA to its critics (while, simultaneously, playing up how important it is to various lobbyists). For example, after years of promising that ACTA wouldn’t change any US laws, the fact that the US does not actually comply with everything in ACTA represents a problem. The USTR gets around this by saying that we can just ignore the parts that don’t match up with US law. Also, there’s the whole lie about how ACTA is not a treaty. Oh no no no. According to US officials, ACTA is merely an “executive agreement.” Of course, if you talk to legal experts, they’ll point out that the only real difference between a treaty and an executive agreement is whether or not the Senate has any say in approving it. Making it an executive agreement is just a ploy to avoid Senate hearings. It also raises serious constitutional questions, since the Executive branch of the US government has no mandate to approve such things.

        • ‘War’ On Fake Drugs Really An Excuse To Boost Big Pharma; Putting The Poor At Risk

          We’ve pointed out similar things before, but Oxfam has come out with a new report, claiming that the claims from developed nations about the need to fight “fake drugs,” is quite frequently really just an excuse to protect big pharma firms from generic competition. No one is denying that actual fake drugs can potentially be harmful. But, the problem is that the various efforts, including ACTA, to deal with the issue often lump together actual dangerous fake pharmaceuticals with drugs that are simply cheaper but perfectly safe. Oxfam would like to see a legitimate strategy for getting the real fake drugs out of the market, but says the current strategies are all about boosting patent protections, increasing prices for the poor and developing nations and better protecting big pharma against upstart competitors.

Clip of the Day

Chernobyl The Lost Film

Credit: TinyOgg

IRC Proceedings: February 9th, 2011

Posted in IRC Logs at 1:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz




#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

Enter the IRC channels now

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources




Samba logo

We support

End software patents


GNU project


EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com

Recent Posts