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02.11.11

Links 11/2/2011: Cuban GNU/Linux Distro, Canonical Publishes Certified Components List

Posted in News Roundup at 12:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

  • Server

    • LSE and Canada’s TMX to merge and share their Linux-based trading systems

      The London Stock Exchange has announced that it is to merge with the TMX Group Inc., its equivalent in Canada. The merger reflects a general global trend toward consolidation of exchanges in search of increased efficiencies. In the case of the LSE, a key component in its efficiency drive is its forthcoming move to the Linux-based trading platform, Millennium Exchange, from MillenniumIT.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Podcast Season 3 Episode 3

      In this episode: We try to bury the news, which includes the release of Debian 6.0 and KDE 4.6, along with some Android rumours. Hear how we faired with our challenge to contribute to an open source project, and share our discoveries from the last two weeks.

    • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 389
    • FLOSS Weekly 152: FOSDEM

      A look back at the recent Free and Open Source Software Developers European Meeting, FOSDEM.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • KDE 4.6 Review Follow-Up: A Feature I Forgot to Mention

        Little things like this add the polish that make the difference between good software and great software.

      • Utils, Utils, Utils…

        The Muon Package Management Suite has been getting a lot of attention lately, but this doesn’t mean that cool things aren’t happening elsewhere in the QApt world. Since 1.0, QApt has shipped a utility called QApt Batch, a batch installer used mainly for integrating package installation into KDE applications in Kubuntu. QApt 1.2 will see the inclusion of several more utilities, that have perhaps a bit more… *ahem*… utility than QApt Batch. I will be introducing these new utilities over the next few blog posts as a little blogging miniseries. With that, I’ll start with the first post.

      • Kannasaver 1.2 for KDE 4 Released

        Finally, after only two years of procrastination, I am happy to announce the release of the first KDE 4 version of Kannasaver.

        Kannasaver is a screen saver that shows Japanese syllabic characters (Hiragana and Katakana) with their Rōmaji transcript.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Zeitgeist in Gnome-shell

        A couple of months ago Seif posted about his work to add a Zeitgeist-based journal to gnome-shell. This code unfortunately bitrotted for a while in Seif’s Gitorious repository. As part of the ongoing Zeitgeist Hackfest, I’m taking that old code and rebasing it for the latest gnome-shell.

      • Zeitgeist Hackfest Day 1 – 3

        Sorry for taking so long to blog again. But things at the hackfest are very very tensed in a positive way. The momentum is high. The remote participation is amazing.

      • GTK+ 3 is here

        This marks the end of several years of work. It has been quite a journey, with some interesting turns and a few lessons learned. I may write about that another time. For now, I want to focus on the celebration.

      • GTK+ 3.0.0 Tool-Kit Officially Released!
      • GTK+ 3.0.0 released
      • New GTK+3 is Released

        Today GTK+3 was officially released. After two years of development, the GIMP toolkit for developing graphical interface elements was finally unveiled. GTK is used to develop popular window managers and environments like GNOME, Xfce, and LXDE. Many individual programs use GTK for their interface development as well, such as The GIMP, Evolution, Pidgin, Inkscape, and Abiword. This release means more functionality for your favorite software, and it just may mean better looks too.

      • A Re-Introduction to Zeitgeist

        While the Zeitgeist team has assembled together at Aarhus, Denmark for their 2011 hackfest, I am sitting at home due to shortage of time for Visa application. This hasn’t stopped me from continuing my work and mythbusting is also a very much-needed action.

  • Distributions

    • Why are there so many Linux distros?

      A Linux distribution, for the uninitiated, is the stack of software, configuration tools and desktop environments, all bound to the Linux kernel, that go together to make the entire operating system, which most of us call Linux.

      Everything from the colour scheme, the character set, the update frequency and a contributor’s nationality can be used to differentiate one distribution from another. As a result, there are hundreds. As I write this, there are 317 being followed by www.distrowatch.com, for example, but there’s no real reason why so many exist, and why so many thrive.

    • New Releases

    • Debian Family

      • Best practices when sponsoring Debian packages

        Sponsoring a package in the Debian archive is not a trivial matter. It means that you verified the packaging and that it is of the level of quality that Debian strives to have. Let’s have a look to what you can and should do when you’re sponsoring a package.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Canonical announces a component catalog for Linux

          Canonical has announced the release of a component catalog that lists Linux-compatible devices. “With this database, corporate buyers can specify the design of their Ubuntu desktops or servers from manufacturers much more efficiently. Individuals can be sure that the key components of the machine they are considering will work with their preferred Ubuntu or Linux distribution. The PC and server industry will also have a simple single source to publicize the work that they do in certifying Linux components and making that knowledge freely available.” This looks to be a great resource, but it does not seem to make any distinction between free and binary-only driver support.

        • Canonical launch list of Ubuntu-compatible PC components

          Building your next Ubuntu-based PC is going to be a lot easier from now on.

          Canonical have today launched the largest online list of Linux-compatible PC components, featuring over 1300 certified different components from 161 different manufacturers.

        • Canonical makes certified components list public
        • Canonical Puts Out A Hardware List, But It Falls Short

          - If Canonical wishes for their database to remain release and up-to-date, they must leverage their large community and user-base, otherwise it will continue to lag. Size of OpenBenchmarking.org? As of this morning, OpenBenchmarking.org has data on 444,894 components spanning 311 vendors and 181 recognized product series from these vendors. There’s 35,965 result uploads and 230,468 test completions recorded. Community-provided data must also be trustworthy, but with Ubuntu’s massive user-base there’s lots of duplicates you can check for and compare, etc to get to a point of self-validation. See some screenshots from earlier this week and the last page of the Core i5 2500K for some hints of forthcoming announcements. Community data can also be used for what’s popular or commonly used to reduce the risk of flaky support.

        • Canonical Releases World’s Largest Component Catalog for Linux

          Canonical announced a few minutes ago, February 10th, that it just made publicly available its entire database of certified hardware components for Linux and Ubuntu, for the first time. This will rapidly reduce the time-to-market for ODMs (Original Design Manufacturers) working on Linux or Ubuntu systems.

        • Canonical releases Component Catalog for Ubuntu & Linux
        • ‘Suspended Sentence’ becomes first post-release ARB app to land in Ubuntu

          The game, called ‘Suspended Sentence’ and described as a free “point-and-click adventure game set on a space ship”, was created for ‘PyWeek‘ – a contest in which teams or individuals are challenged to create a whole new game from scratch in one week.

        • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Nokia/MeeGo/Maemo

        • The Many Brilliant Layers Of Vic Gundotra’s Nokia-Exposing, Microsoft-Bashing Tweet

          The February 11 date that Gundotra references is clearly meant to signify Nokia’s annual Capital Markets Day, which takes place this Friday, the 11th, in London. There, new CEO (and former Microsoft president) Stephen Elop is expected to announce radical changes to the company’s plan and vision. For weeks, rumors have swirled that Nokia may ally with either Microsoft or Google going forward in the smartphone business. Gundotra’s tweet this morning made it very clear who Nokia is going with. The other guys.

        • Getting Started with MeeGo

          The MeeGo project is about to celebrate its first birthday, but there may still be Linux and open source developers who aren’t quite sure how it relates to other Linux-based distributions for tablets, netbooks, or phones — like Android, Chrome OS, or the netbook remixes of popular desktop distros. MeeGo takes a different approach, aiming to be a vendor-neutral Linux platform for a variety of devices. If you’re a developer, that is a key distinction, because it means it is easier to get started writing or porting apps to MeeGo, even digging in to the platform itself.

      • Android

        • Introducing Renderscript

          Renderscript is a key new Honeycomb feature which we haven’t yet discussed in much detail. I will address this in two parts. This post will be a quick overview of Renderscript. A more detailed technical post with a simple example will be provided later.

        • Can cable block the Google TV revolution?

          At present, Google TV is a suite of devices that integrate streaming IP video services like YouTube with various kinds of third-party content, all searchable on a Google TV screen. You can get in on this by buying the Google TV standalone HDTV set, or by hooking your extant screen to a Logitech Revue or Sony Internet TV Blu-ray Disc Player.

        • Sonos Android App Controls Wireless Music Systems [PICS]

          This free Android control software for Sonos wireless multi-room music systems includes unique features that aren’t available on the iPhone version.

          If you’re not familiar with Sonos S5 wireless speakers, you can place them in any room in your house, or pair two of them together. They use Wi-Fi to tap into your network and find all of your digital music for instant playback, and can also play almost any Internet music service.

        • Install The Android 3.0 Music Player On Older Android Versions

          JaJsemMatty user posted the Android 3.0 music player (currently in beta) .apk on the xda-developers forum so you can install it on any Android device (it may not work on any device though, I’m not sure).

        • Can Android become a $10 billion a year platform?

          According to Piper Jaffray analyst Gene Munster, Google could accrue over $1.3 billion in mobile ads over the next year with it expected that each Android user could generate almost $10 per year in advertising.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Hacker Chat: Pinboard Creator Maciej Ceglowski Talks About Why Boring Architecture is Good, and More

    Pinboard runs entirely on a traditional LAMP stack, and it runs amazingly fast. We talked with Ceglowski about the Pinboard architecture and his development process.

    [...]

    The other reason I like the approach is that the tried-and-true stuff is extensively debugged and documented. The chances of you finding a bug in MySQL or PHP as the author of a mid-sized website are microscopic. That’s not the case for newer infrastructure like NoSQL or the various web frameworks.

  • AllJoyn Open Source

    One of the sure signs that open source has entered the mainstream is when companies not normally associated with this approach starting getting involved. A case in point is Qualcomm, not someone that I’ve come across in this area before apart from this kind of half-hearted toe-dipping (but maybe I missed earlier work: anyone know of anything previously?)

  • Who Are This Year’s Free Software Heroes?

    Linus Torvalds was the first suggestion of Hyperlogos blogger Martin Espinoza for the Award for the Advancement of Free Software: “It is hard to conceive of a world in which he doesn’t already have one, but we appear to live in it. I can’t imagine anyone who doesn’t have one who deserves one more.” Next in line, “I would nominate Dries Buytaert, the unifying force behind Drupal.

  • Events

    • LCA2011, Harassment, etc

      The conference LCA 2011 had an anti-harassment policy [1] which was violated by a keynote speech. The speaker and the conference organisers apologised, but of course the matter didn’t end there.

    • The Italian Law on Digital Administration and Software Reuse

      The new Italian Law on Digital Administration (codename CAD) has been presented and thoroughly discussed yesterday afternoon at LUSPIO university with Andrea Simi, consultant of the Italian Minister of Innovation, Gianfranco Pontevolpe (DigitPA, formerly known as CNIPA, the National Center for IT in Public Administration) and Fabrizio Bianchi (Assinform, the Italian association of ICT companies).

  • Web Browsers

    • Why Browser ‘Do Not Track’ Features Won’t Work

      Following the call for action from the United States Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to create some sort of a Web browsing “do not track” list similar to the “do not call” list consumers can use to avoid being harassed by telemarketers, the major browser vendors took some initiative and got to work.

    • Chrome

      • Chromium translations explained: part 2b

        Trunk was the base of the upstream translations, Launchpad received only those. Contributions were merged by Launchpad, and exported. Then for each of the 4 chromium branches, those strings were merged with the branch specific templates and strings. It worked fine for a while, but with a small gap growing with the age of the considered branch. Typically, it was no more than 10%, but that could definitely be improved.

      • Google releases Chrome 9 security update

        Less than one week after Chrome 9 was released into the browser’s stable branch, Google has released version 9.0.597.94 of Chrome for Windows, Mac OS X and Linux, a maintenance and security update. The security update addresses a total of five vulnerabilities in the WebKit-based browser, three of which are rated as “High” priority.

    • Mozilla

      • People of HTML5 – John Foliot

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

      • Student Outreach: Eric Reiss & Søren Muus (FatDUX) visit the Bauhaus
      • Add-on Metadata & Start-up Time

        One of the best features of Firefox 4 is the entirely re-designed Add-ons Manager that displays more details than ever before about the add-ons you have installed. Screenshots, ratings, reviews, detailed descriptions, and even support for Contributions are all included. In order to power this feature, Firefox checks the AMO API once a day to ask for any updated information about your add-ons, including add-ons that may not be hosted there.

      • Learning to write JavaScript

        So now that I work at Mozilla, I figured it was time to develop a “web app” just to make sure I understood it all. And since my team is working on educational resources for web developers, I wanted to see what it was like to learn how to use some of them using resources online.

        So I decided to use the resources I could find online and write some JavaScript to do a pet project of mine.

      • internet explorer nine – why microsoft still sucks

        Requiring a $200 OS upgrade to get a decent browser is either evil or terribly irresponsible. There’s just no excuse for a software company with the resources that Microsoft has to abandon hundreds of millions of users like that.

  • Databases

    • Couch merges with Membase in Couchbase NoSQL team-up

      In a move that is all about scalability- memcached vendor Membase is merging with NoSQL vendor CouchOne. The new company will be called Couchbase.

      CouchOne is the commercial entity led by CouchDB founder Damien Katz. I’ve written about CouchDB a few times over the years and I use the database myself (as do millions of Ubuntu users) everyday. CouchOne started off as a company called Couchio, before it changed its name in 201.

      Membase on the other hand started out as memcached vendor NorthScale that grew their own NoSQL/memcached database, called ..Membase.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • A year later: Has Oracle ruined or saved Sun?

      In its first year in charge of the former Sun Microsystems technologies, Oracle stepped on plenty of toes, as the company dueled with both the open source community and Google. But Oracle also has released a plethora of products and advanced numerous projects derived from the Sun acquisition, ranging from Java and NetBeans IDE upgrades to StorageTek storage units, the Solaris OS, and Sparc hardware. Has Oracle ruined Sun or saved it?

      Oracle formally took over Sun in late January 2010. Since then, the company has had to pursue a goal that had escaped Sun in the later years of Sun’s existence: profitability. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison in September 2009 said Sun was losing $100 million a month while waiting for the $7.4 billion Sun acquisition to be completed. Ellison since then has criticized Sun management for bad business practices and noted Sun did not make a lot of money from Java, whereas Oracle did.

    • Google extensions could aid Java security

      Google is developing a set of extensions for Java that should aid in better securing Java programs against buffer overflow attacks.

      Last Friday, Google announced that it open sourced a project that its engineers were working on to add a new functionality into Java called Contracts, or Design-By-Contract (DBC).

    • New OpenOffice.org Suite: Adequate, but Uninspiring

      The OpenOffice.org suite may be in danger of becoming an also-ran among office-productivity suites, but not for any lack of capabilities or features. The 3.3 release of the suite debuted at the end of January, shortly after the release of its fraternal twin, LibreOffice 3.3, and is as polished as one might expect in a set of applications that have been under development in one form or another for roughly 20 years.

  • Education

    • ‘OER university’ to cut cost of degree

      Universities in Australia, Canada and New Zealand are hoping to achieve “a quantum shift” in open educational resources (OERs) by launching an “OER university”.

      A group of universities plans to draw together existing free online learning materials from around the world and develop new OERs to create whole degree programmes that can be studied via the internet for free.

    • Is UK education policy being dictated by publishers?

      The JISC do some great work in relation to open source software. In particular they have funded OSS Watch since 2003, long before I joined the team in 2007. Our remit is to understand how and when open source is applicable to our sector. The goal is to help ensure the sector benefits from open source whenever and wherever appropriate.

      In 2003 open source was not widely respected as a viable software development methodology. It was also thought that open source was somehow the opposite of commercial. Major closed source software companies attacked the open source development model rather than competing with specific open source products, at the same time SCO was trying to kill Linux in the law courts whilst marketing machines portrayed open source developers as long haired, bearded social misfits working out of back bedrooms (usually in their parents house) – they weren’t to be trusted.

    • Open source software gains ground in higher education

      Open source software is becoming a dominant force in the software world and the world in general. Unfortunately, many universities still teach computer science without any mention of this recent advance. In the fall of 2007, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) set out to change this.

      The Rensselaer Center for Open Source Software (RCOS) was established with the goal of providing an environment where students can learn about open source software while sharing knowledge, experience, and insight with each other. Students can work on existing open source projects or start their own, honing their technical programming skills in an environment that allows them to work on real-world sized and styled projects while surrounding themselves with other students in many programming disciplines. They can share knowledge, share skills, and learn from others’ strengths and weaknesses.

  • Government

    • ‘UK government committed to open source’

      The government coalition of the United Kingdom wants to increase the use of free and open source software by public administrations. “There is commitment from politicians and ministries and they are looking at implementing it at all levels”, said Laura Czajkowski, marketing manager at Sirius IT, a UK IT firm specialised in free and open source, in a presentation during the Fosdem open source conference that took place in Brussels, Belgium last Saturday.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Creative Commons and The TAACCCT Federal Grant Program

      The TAACCCT is a grant fund cooperatively administered through the U.S. Department of Labor and U.S. Department of Education. The program will make available US $2 billion over the next four years for grants that will “provide community colleges and other eligible institutions of higher education with funds to expand and improve their ability to deliver education and career training programs.

    • Open Data

      • Open Bibliographic Data Challenge

        Sometimes data is not always as open as we would like, restricting our ability to share and collaborate; but one good way to increase the opportunities to work together is to demonstrate just how much we can do with data that is openly available to us, providing proofs of concept that inspire others.

      • Cabinet Office defers publication of Gateway progress reports on IT projects

        Whitehall has postponed by a year the publication of Gateway review reports and performance details on all ICT projects above £1m, ComputerworldUK.com has learned.

        Although the Government plans to implement many large and risky IT-based schemes, it is, for the time being, following Labour’s strategy of keeping Gateway progress reports on IT projects secret. Gateway reviews comprise a series of independent reports on the progress or otherwise of medium and high-risk IT and building projects.

      • OpenBiblio Principles

        If you’ve got an idea for an app using open bibliographic data (you can enter the idea or a prototype app), you’ve just about got time to enter the OpenBiblio Challenge before it closes on 17 February and win some money. Good luck!

      • Open Knowledge Foundation Open Data Advocate

        My colleagues over at the Open Knowledge Foundation have been thinking about recruiting an Open Data Advocate, someone who can coordinate a number of the activities they are up to in the open data space. I offered to think about what the role should entail and how that person could be effective. Consequently, in the interests of transparency, fleshing out my thinking and seeing if there might be feed back (feel free to comment openly, or email me personally if you wish to keep it private) I’m laying out my thinking below.

        [...]

        There are some basic things that the role will require including:

        1. Overseeing the Working Group on Open Government Data
        2. Managing opengovernmentdata.org
        3. Helping organize the Open Government Data Camp 2011, 2012 and beyond

      • Government data like crime maps is not enough – there needs to be action

        Turn on the radio, check the papers, listen to the demonstrators: it’s clear that the Tory notion of a smaller, more accountable state lacks credibility. The coalition government is trying to fix this with data, but while data is a necessary precondition for change, it is insufficient on its own. If the government wants a “big society” of motivated watchdogs, volunteers, and waste-cutters, it’s going to have to convince us that it’s responsive as well as transparent.

      • Government transparency doesn’t matter without accountability

        My latest Guardian column is “Government data like crime maps is not enough – there needs to be action,” and it looks at two recent data-crunching apps for UK policing: first, the crime-maps that tell you what the crime’s like in your neighbourhood, and second, Sukey, an app that helps protesters evade police “kettling” — an inhumane form of arbitrary detention practiced by police.

    • Open Hardware

      • Open Source Hardware definition v.1.0 released

        Last year, Massimo, David Mellis, and I attended the Open Hardware Summit in New York, and began working with several others at the summit on a definition and statement of principles for producing open hardware. We’re happy to announce that after several months of discussion, writing, and debate, version 1.0 of the open source hardware definition and statement of principles has been released.

      • First open hardware definition has been released

        After last September’s Open Hardware Summit, today version 1.0 of the Open Source Hardware Definition was released.

        Last summer, people and groups that included Bug Labs, MakerFaire, Creative Commons, The New York Hall of Science, and littleBits gathered to plan the first Open Hardware Summit. The event was held with the goal of creating the Open Source Hardware Definition announced today, similar to the OSI’s Open Source Definition regarding what is and isn’t open. Today’s release marks a big milestone for those efforts.

  • Programming

    • TIOBE Index: Python more popular than PHP

      Python has surpassed PHP in popularity while C# is coming on strongly. At least according to TIOBE, the coding standards specialists, which has published its Programming Community Index for February 2011. Compared to last years index the top two most popular languages remain Java followed by C while C++ has risen from fourth position to third. Python is on the rise from seventh position last year to fourth position this year, while PHP, which was third, has fallen to fifth position in the rankings. This movement is reflected in the popularity share; Python has gained being 2.72% up on last year, while PHP is 3.03% down over the same period. C#, now ranked sixth, gained 1.79% on last year.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • W3C Opens Germany and Austria Office at DFKI

      W3C announces today the opening of a new W3C Germany and Austria Office, hosted at the Project Office Berlin of the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence (DFKI), the leading German research institute in the field of innovative software technology based on Artificial Intelligence. W3C and DFKI celebrate today this collaborative effort at an opening event, at Theseus Innovation Center in Berlin.

    • Freedom to Read, Freedom to Write: Celebrating Document Freedom Day 2011

      Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) invites individuals, community groups and institutions to celebrate the Document Freedom Day (DFD) on March 30th. DFD is a global day to celebrate Open Standards and open document formats and its importance. Open Standards ensure the freedom to access your data, and the freedom to build Free Software to write and read data in specific formats.

      You can participate by organizing activities in your home town. Distributing fliers, organizing talks, adding a banner on your blog, donating money: there are many ways you can help spread awareness about Open Standards.

    • HTML5 Is An Oncoming Train, But Native App Development Is An Oncoming Rocket Ship

      HTML5 versus native apps. It’s a debate as old as — well, at least three years ago. And pretty much since the beginning of that debate, there has been a general underlying current among the geek community that HTML5 is good and native is bad. Native is what we have to deal with as we wait for HTML5 to prevail.

    • The Versions of ODF

      It has been a few months now since the OASIS ODF TC has done substantive technical work on ODF 1.2. We had a 60-day public review last summer, a 15-day public review last December and we will start another (hopefully final) 15-day public review starting this week. Every time we make a change to the specification in response to public comments we are required to have another 15-day review of the changes. This is all necessary procedural work, to make sure all stakeholders have the opportunity to comment. But it is not very exciting.

      However, as the ODF 1.2 specification goes through remainder of its review/approval process in OASIS, we’ve increasingly turned our attention to ODF-Next. Tentatively (and we should have a TC vote on this work plan in the next few weeks), we’re looking at a two-year schedule for ODF 1.3, with four intermediate drafts (Committee Specification Drafts or CSDs). The first CSD would appear in September, 2011. We have not yet defined what features will be in ODF 1.3. So this is a great time to join the ODF TC, to “get in on the ground floor” for defining the next release.

Leftovers

  • Babygate or Child Endangerment? Sarah Palin’s Bizarre Pregnancy

    I just don’t know any woman who would take a ten hour plane ride involving a layover from Texas to Alaska hours after they had already broken water, especially not while carrying an at risk baby who was premature. No matter how many times I looked into this story, there was never a satisfactory answer from Palin. She claims she was in labor, then not in labor just broke water. She claims she wasn’t in pain. People who saw her had no idea she was pregnant. But she gave birth hours after landing.

  • Six killed in Cork plane crash

    Two Irish citizens, three British passport holders and a Spaniard have been killed and six others are injured after a commuter flight from Belfast crashed at Cork Airport this morning.

  • Nerd saves entire BBC archive for $3.99, you can help for free

    Interestingly, as you will read when you get there, it cost a massive $3.99 to create this important historical archive, you can download it for free to keep the thing safe, and I strongly recommend you do so now, quickly, before some insightless person at the BBC activates lawyers to shut the site down.

  • AOL-HuffPo: Arianna And The Free Blog Economy

    One set of writers is even demanding a boycott by readers and bloggers on the Left, claiming that Huffington sold it out by taking a fortune at their expense.

  • Tell Clarence Thomas: Recuse yourself

    A case challenging the constitutionality of the health care reform bill passed by Congress is headed to the Supreme Court, and Justice Clarence Thomas has a supreme ethical conflict.

    It’s been widely reported that the Thomas family has financial ties to the conservative organizations leading the campaign to bring down our new health care law — the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

  • The European Citizens’ Initiative

    The European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) is the EU’s foremost instrument of direct democracy and the first of its kind in a transnational context. Introduced by the Lisbon Treaty, it is expected to be used from 2012.

  • Sarkozy under pressure as French judges take to the streets

    Thousands of judges and lawyers have taken to the streets in unprecedented protests against Nicolas Sarkozy, paralysing the legal system and shutting down almost all France’s courthouses this week.

    Magistrates’ unions have for days expressed outrage at the president by hearing only urgent cases, after the president used a shocking murder case to attack judges for being too lax.

  • Former super-head is first to have damehood revoked

    One of Labour’s first school “super-heads” has become what is thought to be the first woman to have her damehood revoked.

    Jean Else was made a dame in 2001 for transforming a failing Manchester comprehensive into a flourishing school.

    But eight years later, the General Teaching Council charged Else, a former truancy adviser for Tony Blair’s government, with cronyism for promoting her twin sister from part-time clerical assistant to the post of assistant head.

  • Global CIO: Sam Palmisano Reveals Secret Behind IBM’s Century Of Success

    We all know IBM used to make PCs–but did you know they also used to make clocks?

  • Science

    • Colliding galaxies spawn dazzling black hole ring

      Combining images from the Hubble Space Telescope and the Chandra X-ray Observatory, NASA offers a glimpse into a dazzling ring of black holes 430 million light years from Earth.

    • Can This Journalist Be Replaced by Software and Mechanical Turk?

      An experiment being conducted by an alliance of journalists and computer scientists aims to combine the distributed human brainpower of Amazon’s small-task outsourcing engine, Mechanical Turk, with a software boss pre-programmed with all the logic required to stitch myriad discrete human-accomplished tasks into something resembling the work of a single person.

      The project is called My Boss is a Robot, and the boffins involved include the team of Niki Kittur, a Carnegie Mellon assistant professor of Human Computer Interaction, as well as freelance science and technology writers Jim Giles and MacGregor Campbell.

    • World’s first programmable nanoprocessor unveiled

      Scientists have successfully built and demonstrated what is believed to be the world’s first programmable nanoprocessor.

      The breakthrough, made by scientists and engineers from Harvard University and the MITRE Corporation, is a significant and tangible step forwards in the ability to produce working computer circuits that can be assembled from components made on a minute nano-scale, so they say.

      The processor will be able to perform a number of basic mathematical and logical functions when programmed electronically.

    • Criss-crossed nanowires can compute

      Scientists have stitched together nanowires to create a microchip capable of basic computation.

    • The ‘New’ Kilogram Is Approaching
  • Health/Nutrition

    • Still drinking diet soda? Don’t be a fashion victim!

      In plain English, Diet Pepsi consists of artificially blackened water tarted up with synthetic chemicals. The references to “natural flavor” and (chemical-induced) “freshness” aside, what really gives Diet Pepsi its main flavor — that special jolt of sweetness — is aspartame, the famous calorie-free sugar substitute.

    • Daily diet soda tied to higher risk for stroke, heart attack

      61 percent higher risk of vascular events for those who drank diet soda each day, study finds

    • Earth economist: The food bubble is about to burst

      That’s when food production is inflated through the unsustainable use of water and land. It’s the water bubble we need to worry about now. The World Bank says that 15 per cent of Indians (175 million people) are fed by grain produced through overpumping – when water is pumped out of aquifers faster than they can be replenished. In China, the figure could be 130 million.

      Has this bubble already burst anywhere?

      Saudi Arabia made itself self-sufficient in wheat by using water from a fossil aquifer, which doesn’t refill. It has harvested close to 3 million tonnes a year, but in 2008 the Saudi authorities said the aquifer was largely depleted. Next year could be the last harvest. This is extreme, but about half the world’s people live in countries with falling water tables. India and China will lose grain production capacity through aquifer depletion. We don’t know when or how abruptly the bubble will burst.

    • Welcome to the Age of Dilemma

      Another week, another potentially destabilizing global mini-crisis. This time, it’s (yet another) global food crisis: food prices are set to skyrocket and the FAO’s food price index is already spiking. It’s likely to ignite even more political instability and social turmoil — in layman’s terms, that’s riots, panics, protests, and violence.

      Should we raise interest rates so there’s less hot money sloshing around to fuel the bubble, bringing down food prices? Even at the expense of squelching prosperity in developed countries, turning today’s stagnation into tomorrow’s sheer misery? Starvation or depression — which do you choose?

  • Security

    • Advanced sign-in security for your Google account
    • Security updates for Thursday
    • How one man tracked down Anonymous—and paid a heavy price

      Aaron Barr believed he had penetrated Anonymous. The loose hacker collective had been responsible for everything from anti-Scientology protests to pro-Wikileaks attacks on MasterCard and Visa, and the FBI was now after them. But matching their online identities to real-world names and locations proved daunting. Barr found a way to crack the code.

      In a private e-mail to a colleague at his security firm HBGary Federal, which sells digital tools to the US government, the CEO bragged about his research project.

      “They think I have nothing but a heirarchy based on IRC [Internet Relay Chat] aliases!” he wrote. “As 1337 as these guys are suppsed to be they don’t get it. I have pwned them! :)”

      But had he?

    • ‘eGo’ Turns The Human Body Into Its Own Wireless Network

      In the brave, new world of smart-card authentication, all you have to do is touch a device to authenticate yourself to make payments, phone calls, log into a computer, start your car, or open doors to restricted areas.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Suleiman may have questioned tortured Canadian

      Omar Suleiman – spymaster, CIA ally and heir apparent to Egypt’s throne – has been accused in the interrogation of a Canadian citizen tortured overseas.

      The allegation appears in the federal findings from a former Canadian Supreme Court judge, who faulted Canadian intelligence practices for setting into motion a snowballing series of global investigations in the aftermath of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

    • Egypt’s army ‘involved in detentions and torture’

      The Egyptian military has secretly detained hundreds and possibly thousands of suspected government opponents since mass protests against President Hosni Mubarak began, and at least some of these detainees have been tortured, according to testimony gathered by the Guardian.

    • China says Egypt should decide future on its own

      China said on Thursday foreign powers should stay out of Egypt’s affairs, in an oblique swipe at the United States and some European countries that have put pressure on embattled President Hosni Mubarak to step down.

      “China advocates that Egyptian affairs should be determined by the Egyptian people, and should not face outside interference,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Ma Zhaoxu said at a regular press briefing.

      “We believe Egypt has the wisdom and ability to find the proper solution and get through this difficult time,” he added.

    • Of Tahrir Square and Tiananmen Square

      There are frequent analogies going around these days between events in Cairo and the rise and fall of demonstrations in Tiananmen Square. “We cannot afford a Tiananmen Square in Cairo,” Senator John McCain said on CNN. One of the few who is well qualified to draw a comparison is Nick Kristof, who shared a Pulitzer Prize for his coverage of the 1989 protests and crackdown in Beijing. Arriving in Tahrir Square yesterday, he wrote that the mood “reminds me, painfully, of the equally giddy mood at Tiananmen Square before the shooting started. Some of the regime’s moves—earlier curfew, buzzing protesters with fighter planes, nasty media—don’t seem conciliatory at all.” One of the few to frame the comparison in positive terms is the liberal Chinese activist-lawyer Teng Biao; when he saw the video of a lone Egyptian protester, standing before a truck fitted with a water-cannon, he wrote on Twitter, “‘Must see! Egypt’s Tiananmen movement, a warrior blocks a military vehicle!’”

    • Mexico drug violence not an ‘emergency,’ White House says

      While drug violence continues to spread in Mexico, White House officials have decided the situation doesn’t rank as an “emergency” under federal rules, officials tell NBC News. The decision scuttles — at least for now — a controversial proposal requiring gun stores in four Southwest border states to report multiple sales of semiautomatic assault rifles and other long guns to authorities.

    • Mubarak is Defiant

      Defying the will of the people that have come out in their millions throughout Egypt in premature celebration of President Mubarak’s widely rumored resignation.

    • Bangladesh: Teenage girl who died after punishment prescribed by the Qur’an bled to death

      An update on this story. The tragic and disturbing details of Hena Begum’s last days demand reporting not only because her punishment of lashes for alleged adultery was straight out of the Qur’an (24:2), but because of that verse’s specific injunction to Muslims to suppress any natural aversion to human suffering in carrying out this cruel and unusual punishment.

    • Israel’s whitewash report into the Mavi Marmara massacre
    • ‘Kids main victims of US-led Afghan war’

      A recent report shows that Afghan kids as young as 13 are paid to get killed in the U.S.-led war in Afghanistan.

      Childhood innocence is soon lost in a country like Afghanistan. However, children have not only been the victims of the war but also its perpetrators on both sides.

    • Egypt protests intensify as Mubarak leaves Cairo

      Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak arrived in the Red Sea resort of Sharm el-Sheikh as hundreds of thousands of protesters packed squares and marched on presidential palaces and the State TV building in Cairo on Friday.

      Mubarak spends a good deal of time in Sharm, about 400 kilometres from Cario, where he has a palace.

    • Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak steps down

      Egypt’s powerful military tried to defuse outrage over President Hosni Mubarak’s refusal to step down, assuring it would guarantee promised reforms. But hundreds of thousands demanding Mubarak go only grew angrier, deluging squares in cities across the country Friday and marching on presidential palaces and the state TV building, key symbols of the authoritarian regime.

  • Cablegate

    • Wikileaks responds to one of the Wikileaks tell all books

      WikiLeaks has been taking legal action against former employee, Daniel Domscheit-Berg who was suspended from the organization in September. The reasons for these actions will gradually become clear, but some are hinted at by extracts from Domscheit-Bergs book.

      In the book Domscheit-Berg confesses to various acts of sabotage against the organization. The former WikiLeaks staffer admits to having damaged the sites primary submission system and stolen material.

      The sabotage and concern over motives led to an overhaul of the entire submission system, an ongoing project that is not being expedited due to its complex nature and the organization´s need to focus its resources on publication and defense.

      [...]

      Domschiet-Berg was never an architect for the organization, technically, or in matters of policy. He was a spokesperson for WikiLeaks in Germany at various times, but he was never the spokesman for WikiLeaks, nor was he ever WikiLeaks editor, although he subedited some articles. He was also never a computer scientist, or computer security expert, although he was a computer science student many years ago. His accounts of the crucial times in WikiLeaks history since April last year are therefore based upon limited information or malicious falsifications.

    • Foreign Policy: Keep Assange Free, Keep Internet Free

      It is time for the United States to drop the case against WikiLeaks. Pressing forward with efforts to prosecute an Internet publisher at home while standing up for an open Internet in Egypt and the world at large is an increasingly tenuous position. The WikiLeaks case endangers the reputation of the United States as a defender of free speech and an open Internet globally, while forcing the Obama administration to take uncomfortable constitutional positions better suited to the Nixon administration. The importance of this issue is hard to overstate: At a time when the Internet is increasingly recognized as a medium of global resistance to authoritarian rule and when protestors in Tahrir square are holding up signs that say “Thank you, Facebook!”, the Obama administration and the United States must make sure that they stand on the right side.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • The Clean Air Act by the Numbers

      Forty years after the passage of the Clean Air Act, it is extraordinary to look at the numbers.

      Numbers like 200,000 — which is the count of premature deaths the Clean Air Act prevented in its first 20 years. Over the same period, the Act prevented 672,000 cases of chronic bronchitis and 21,000 cases of heart disease. It avoided 843,000 asthma attacks and 18 million child respiratory illnesses.

      1.7 million is the number of tons of toxic emissions removed from our air every year since 1990. In the last two decades, emissions of six common pollutants dropped 41 percent. Lead in our air is down by 92 percent since 1980.

    • Palm oil giant vows to spare most valuable Indonesian rainforest

      The world’s second biggest palm oil company has agreed to halt deforestation in valuable areas of Indonesian forest, bowing to pressure from western food processors and conservationists.

      Golden Agri-Resources Limited has committed itself to protecting forests and peatlands with a high level of biodiversity, or which provide major carbon sinks, as part of an agreement with conservation group the Forest Trust.

  • Finance

    • Forged Comment Letters Sent to U.S. Regulators Writing Derivative Rules

      Forged comment letters purportedly from an H.J. Heinz Co. executive, a Burger King Co. franchise and at least five other Arkansas-based officials or businesses were sent to the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

      Some of the letters to the agency, which is writing rules for derivatives trading, contain identical passages criticizing banks for their “cartel-like control” of the $583 trillion swaps market. They include signatures from a circuit court judge, a county sheriff and a mental health counselor. All were forgeries, according to interviews conducted by Bloomberg News.

    • Rajasthan puts its stately homes on sale

      If you ever fancied owning a fort in Rajasthan, now is your chance. The government of the western Indian state is putting thousands of properties on sale. But be warned, the competition for the best of the 100-room palaces and fairytale castles will be steep. Your rival bidder is likely to be the original owner – or at least a descendant.

      Properties include a fort at Madhorajpura near the famous pink city of Jaipur with a starting price of £650,000. For those on a budget, there are merchants’ family houses from the 18th and 19th century for less than £15,000 – though some are a little the worse for wear. For lottery winners, there is the vast fortified palace at Badnore with its double sets of battlemented walls, its elephant-proof gate and its dozens of individually decorated balconies, for £70,000 rental per year. For those unwilling to risk long drives across India’s western desert to their new homes, there is even a palace in the centre of Delhi, which the Rajasthani government recently reclaimed as its own.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • WATCH: “Outfoxed” Director Discusses How Fox News’ Lies Alter Americans’ Perceptions of Reality

      On last night’s The Ed Show on MSNBC, filmmaker Robert Greenwald (the founder of Brave New Films and the director of Outfoxed) joined host Ed Schultz in a discussion of how Fox News’ disinformation and falsehoods damage U.S. political discourse and alter Americans’ perceptions of reality.

    • FOX NEWS INSIDER: “Stuff Is Just Made Up”

      Indeed, a former Fox News employee who recently agreed to talk with Media Matters confirmed what critics have been saying for years about Murdoch’s cable channel. Namely, that Fox News is run as a purely partisan operation, virtually every news story is actively spun by the staff, its primary goal is to prop up Republicans and knock down Democrats, and that staffers at Fox News routinely operate without the slightest regard for fairness or fact checking.

    • Beyond left and right? The Huffington Post’s delicate balancing act

      Arianna Huffington has a knack for navigating competing social worlds, deftly handling decision-makers and activists with divergent views on politics and business. She’s done so in public for decades.

    • Beyond Left And Right: It’s About Reality

      In the wake of the news that The Huffington Post is joining up with AOL, much speculation has ensued about what this means for the future of our journalism. Given the spirit of engagement the HuffPost has fostered in just a few years, there is naturally some concern among the denizens of our Web community about the prospect of change — and what sort of change.

      Much of the conjecture centers on decoding the meaning of a phrase much in vogue here, the idea that we are aiming to lift the conversation above left and right. As an editor who oversees the HuffPost’s business and economic coverage, I thought it might be useful to offer some thoughts on what this means to us and, just as important, what it emphatically does not mean: We are in no way seeking to retreat to the phony version of journalistic objectivity that pretends the truth always lies in the middle, between two generally exaggerated and intellectually-disingenuous extremes.

  • Censorship

    • Dan Snyder Helps Us Demonstrate The Streisand Effect In Numbers

      Having coined the term “The Streisand Effect” a while back, I’m always interested in more examples of it in action. We recently talked about how Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder sued the Washington City Paper over a tongue-in-cheek article criticizing him, and the response may actually give us some Streisand Effect data. Paul Alan Levy sends over a neat blog post from Tech Cocktail that tries to quantify how much more attention was driven to the article Snyder was so upset about. The answer? An awful lot.

    • Mumsnet backtracks support for net filter

      Cuddly, child-loving web forum, mumsnet was last night licking its wounds after a page providing fairly uncritical support for government proposals to censor the web was first mauled by geek attack – and then taken down.

      However, in a swift repositioning, mumsnet have now come out as part of the search for a solution, rather than advocates of any particular approach.

    • Nominet asks what you think of police domain grab

      Nominet is asking for feedback on proposals from the police which would allow them to “switch off” websites used by criminals.

      The UK domain registrar is setting up an issues group to look at the change which would bolster police powers quite dramatically – assuming the pesky crims stick to .uk websites of course.

    • Russian volunteer army to fight ‘dangerous content’ online

      The call is going out in Russia for a new volunteer army to combat the menace of “negative” content on the internet.

      First in its sights is the usual enemy of all right-thinking people – child abuse material – but critics fear that once up and running the newly launched League of Internet Safety will cast its net much more widely.

      [...]

      Russia has a long history of censorship, commencing with the Tsars in the 19th century. This continued after the revolution, with the establishment in 1922 of the central censorship office, Glavlit, which was attached to the Council of Ministers of the USSR.

      At the time of its abolition, under perestroika (“reconstruction”) in the late 1980s, Glavlit’s collection of banned books contained around 27,000 Russian books, 250,000 foreign books, 572,000 issues of foreign magazines, 8,500 annual sets of foreign newspapers and 8,000 publications.

    • Malmström worried by vote on child porn

      European commissioner fears that European Parliament amendments will curb member states’ ability to block child porn websites.

      Cecilia Malmström, the European commissioner for home affairs, is worried that MEPs’ amendments to a draft directive on the sexual abuse and exploitation of children would make it more difficult for EU member states to block access to websites carrying child pornography.

  • Civil Rights

    • Former FBI Agent Turned ACLU Attorney: Feds Routinely Spy on Citizens

      Too often, we’ve seen U.S. Intelligence agencies whose actions are cloaked in secrecy until someone uncovers governmental abuse that places innocent people under surveillance or on watchlists. It’s truly scary to ponder how much more stays hidden. I’d love to interview an FBI agent with in-depth national security and intelligence experience, but one who would answer truthfully and believes in privacy. It is with delight that I interviewed Mike German, formerly a 16-year veteran as an FBI special agent who became ACLU’s Policy Counsel on National Security, Immigration and Privacy.

    • Minister destroys national identity register

      The immigration minister fed some of the last batch of 500 hard drives, which were used to hold the national identity register, into a giant crushing machine at RDC in Witham, Essex on 10 February.

      “This marks the final end of the identity card scheme: dead, buried and crushed,” he said. “What we are destroying today is the last elements of the national identity register, which was always the most objectionable part of the scheme.”

  • DRM

    • Sony Threatens To Take Legal Action Against Those Who Distribute PS3 Hack; Asks For Names And IPs From Google, Twitter

      Sony is threatening to take legal action against anyone who distributes or posts the key used to hack PS3s. To further their point that they aren’t messing around Sony has also gone after YouTube and are seeking “All information and documents related to the use of your service(s) to host the content associated with and/or comprising the video titled “Jail broken PS3 3.55 with Homebrew”, posted by user “geohot” and located at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U kLSXsCKDkg.” (The video is no longer on YouTube.) Sony is now hoping a federal judge will demand Google to release the names, addresses, IP address logs and any other information of anyone who has commented or even simply seen the video.

    • Neil Gaiman On Internet Piracy: “It’s People Lending Books”

      Anyone who read our piece on Underground sales skyrocketing after the comic was bootlegged on 4chan will not be surprised by Neil Gaiman’s revelation in this interview with Open Rights Group. Everyone else, hang on to your seats, because he thinks piracy may help increase sales.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Open letter demands secret TPPA talks see daylight

      Open source technology and open government advocate Daniel Spector said that setting up a 100 year so-called “trade” agreement was short-sighted and foolhardy.

      “Working under a veil of secrecy to create 100-year agreements with foreign governments is a challenge to our democracy. Decisions made in secret now will affect citizens for literally a century to come, and will damage the options of every future government of our own nation for effecting positive change as their electorates would desire.”

      “It is essential that the text of TPPA be made public as it is developed, for appropriate consideration of the citizenry,” he said.

      Robert Reid, General Secretary of the National Distribution Union said that trade unions and other organisations were sick and tired of agreements such as the TPPA being negotiated in secret.

    • Why Is President Obama Setting Up IP Enforcement Committees Rather Than IP Effectiveness Committees?

      The White House recently announced that President Obama has signed an executive order creating two new, very high level “intellectual property enforcement committees.” The idea is to have high level folks in different federal government agencies coordinating their “enforcement” strategies, when they do things like seizing domains without due process or First Amendment considerations.

      Of course, if President Obama were serious about improving American innovation and creative output (and living up to the Constitution), he would have put together intellectual property effectiveness committees, rather than enforcement committees. By this point, you would have to willfully ignore all of the studies highlighting how today’s intellectual property laws tend to cause plenty of harm to think that the laws are “effective.”

    • Copyrights

      • ACTA

        • Greens/EFA MEPs Engström, Sargentini, Beliér, Albrecht ask question on ACTA and Vienna Convention

          At this point, the US Congress considers ACTA a political agreement, that is not binding on the US. The US has no intention of amending its copyright and trademark laws to be consistent with ACTA, and will consider legislative proposals that are inconsistent, such as to address access to orphaned copyrighted works. The European Commission is aware of this, but prefers to provide misleading communications to the European Parliament, in order to obtain ACTA approval by the Parliament.

      • Digital Economy (UK)/HADOPI

        • UK government acknowledges that Digital Economy Act may keep net access from the poor

          The explosive revelations are contained in a government response by the Department of Culture, Media and Sport to an obscure parliamentary body known as the Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee.

          The committee met to discuss the Statutory Instrument (SI) that sets out how the cost of running the anti-copyright-infringement measures of the Digital Economy Act will be shared between rights holders and ISPs. I’d already blogged that the European Commission had raised official concerns about this SI.

        • Concerns over the DEA Costs Sharing Order

          If the Digital Economy Act were a celebrity, it would probably be phoning for Max Clifford. In March it faces Judicial Review. Ofcom have been asked to review the web blocking provisions. The Culture, Media and Sport Committee are looking at the framework for the protection of IP.

          And through James Firth’s ‘Slightly Right of Centre’ blog, we learned that the European Commission raised plenty of doubts about the ‘Costs Sharing’ order that decides how much of the costs associated with the Digital Economy Act ISPs and rights holders should pay. Today the Merits of Statutory Instruments Committee have advised Parliament of these and other concerns in their 21st Report.

          The report raises a number of problems identified with the order. They range from fears that it will price some people out of broadband access, through to concerns for liability faced by libraries and schools. It also features responses from a range of individuals and organisations from DCMS, Consumer Focus, Francis Davey and the Creative Coalition Campaign.

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How The Social Network Should Have Ended


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