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02.17.11

Links 17/2/2011: Linux 2.6.38 RC5, SplashTop Makes MeeGo-based Platform

Posted in News Roundup at 5:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Nigeria Uses GNU/Linux to Manage Elections

    120K PCs in a huge network manage the database.

  • Linux Based Cameleon XR1.5 For Indian Telecom Industry

    Donjin Communication Technology, a player in global multimedia communication platform technology and Contarra Systems, a worldwide telecommunica­tions software company specialized in multi-purpose communications solutions, have introduced Cameleon XR 1.5 a service delivery platform based on Linux Operating System for the Indian telecommunications industry.

  • Ballnux

    • Samsung aims for iPod touch with WiFi-only Galaxy S variants

      At Mobile World Congress taking place this week in Barcelona, Samsung was showing off two new WiFi-only Android devices based on the popular Galaxy S smartphone. Coming in both 4″ and 5″ display sizes, the models would serve as non-phone companions to Samsung’s Galaxy S line, similar in many respects to the iPod touch.

      Both new devices feature 1GHz Hummingbird processors, front-facing VGA video cameras, microSD slots, Bluetooth, and WiFi, and they run Android 2.2 (Froyo). A smaller device which looks almost identical to current Galaxy S smartphones features a 4″ LCD touchscreen, a 3.2MP rear camera, and a 1200mAh battery. The larger version has an 800×480 pixel 5″ touchscreen, a 5MP rear camera with flash, and a 2500mAh battery. Both devices are compatible with 32GB microSD cards, but it’s not clear how much, if any, flash storage is built in.

    • LG Optimus 3D video hands-on

      The recently announced LG Optimus 3D (read specs) provides glasses-free 3D vision by sending separate signals to the right and left eyes. The technique creates an image that tricks the eyes into seeing the foreground of videos, games, and the user interface at a closer angle. My only problem with this that angles must be tight. When moving the phone a small degree to the left or right, the desired effect is gone and a distorted image appears in its place. While it’s a neat trick to be able to view 3D video without having to wear glasses, the experience is rather limited.

    • LG Optimus 3D is the new king of the hill when it comes to hardware performance thanks to its TI OMAP 4 chip
  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • KDE Organizing conf.kde.in Conference In India

        The Indian KDE team is organising conf.kde.in, a conference for the KDE community and users. The conference is creating a platform for Qt and KDE contributors and enthusiasts to meet up, share their knowledge, contribute, learn and play.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • GNOME 3: Getting better by the day

        It’s easy to focus on the big new features, but there has been a huge amount of polishing work going on also. Marina has been refining the behaviour of the messaging tray, Owen has been making sure that icons are clearly rendered, and lots of bug fixing has been happening.

        This isn’t everything that’s been happening to GNOME 3 in recent weeks (system settings have been getting a lot of attention, as have many of our applications) but I hope the update’s useful.

      • Gnome Shell is Almost Ready to Rock Your Desktop

        When Gnome Shell was first becoming available over a year ago, we took a look at it to see what the foundation was like, and to see what direction the Gnome desktop was likely to go. At the time, we liked it, though it was clearly a “rough draft” of what it could eventually become. Since then, time has gone by, and while Ubuntu may have decided to go with Unity instead, others have taken Gnome Shell up to the next level. Fedora, among others, will be putting it front and center in future releases. Today we’re going to take a look at one of the most recent builds available to see what this slick desktop environment has got to offer.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

      • Fedora

        • Blog Now Included on the Censored Planet

          My blog is now included on Fedora’s “Planet Edited” – mind you various people won’t like me for calling it censored. Originally, I thought the censored version of planet was going to filter out the ‘I had this-and-that for breakfast’ type of blog posts, which, usually anyway, have nothing to do with Fedora at all. However, after some clarification from Andrea Veri, it seems a relation between the posts content and Fedora isn’t sufficient – the blog post must be specifically about Fedora.

        • Stop blaming Italians for Berlusconi

          The Italian media do not allow public opinion to be formed in an objective and impartial way. We could blame Italians for their leader only if the delicate mechanisms that govern Italian democracy were not distorted by a biased, irresponsible media. Rather, we should blame its “mediocracy”; that is, the dangerous entanglement of power and media that has been afflicting the country for decades.

          The mammoth media power that Berlusconi has built his empire on is unimaginable in any other western democracy. If we overlook his immense and unchallenged power over public opinion, his articulate propaganda machine, we won’t be able to explain why Italians have fallen asleep instead of reacting to the regime.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian 6 Linux finally released

        In a recent article Brockmeier argued that Debian was still crucially important to the Linux world for two key reasons.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • The top 5 desktops from our Facebook competition

          We got over 500 submissions throughout the week, and it was certainly a tough decision to pick only 5 winners out of so many.

        • A Long Overdue Introduction: ecryptfs-migrate-home

          One of my most popular (by number hits) posts on eCryptfs is the one on Migrating to An Encrypted Home Directory. This post contains a lengthy set of instructions when, if followed correctly, allows you to migrate to an encrypted home directory.

        • Live Ubuntu Video Q+A: Every Wednesday
        • Bug search no longer does substring matching of source package names
        • Canonical Re-licenses Ubuntu Wiki to CC BY-SA

          Elizabeth Krumbach on behalf of the Ubuntu Community Council announced in an email to various mailing lists, and posted on the Ubuntu Fridge that the licensing for the Ubuntu wiki will be CC-BY-SA and barring a “substantial number of objections” this change should take place in approximately one month.

        • Thunderbird in the Usability Lab!

          This time, I had the pleasure of working with Andreas Nilsson, who came to London to observe the sessions. It was very useful to get his feedback and to work collaboratively with him on the analysis and implications of the findings. In addition to these benefits of our work together, there is an added one: since he observed participants struggling with certain aspects of the interface, he will no doubt be a very effective user experience advocate with his team.

        • Ubuntu Unity 2D

          Some random musing about Ubuntu ARM Netbook Edition.

          Last month Canonical held its Ubuntu Platform Team rally in Dallas TX. During this rally the Unity 2D launcher was added to the public archive for use with the Ubuntu ARM Netbook edition. We had hoped it would be fairly simply to replace the existing EFL (Enlightenment Foundations Library) launcher with the QT based Unity launcher.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Nokia/MeeGo/Maemo

        • Noki-Soft Windfall – who wins most when Micro-Kia hand away lucrative smartphone empire bigger than Blackberry, bigger than iPhone

          Even more than being an 11x bestselling author of mobile telecoms and a consultant and ex-Nokia executive, I am more than anything else, an industry analyst for the mobile industry and one of its leading statisticians and forecasters. I am known for deep and insightful statistical analysis articles of the industry and its market such as this final review of all the stats and major players in the year 2010 in smartphones. So I have done a thorough analysis of all rivals who stand to gain from the loss of market share, that Nokia’s sudden Microsoft partnership announcement will create.

        • Analyst: Nokia-MS alliance bodes ill for phone giant

          “With the Microsoft deal unlikely to yield any products for nearly one year, Nokia will have no choice except to remain awkwardly reliant on the Symbian and MeeGo platforms in 2011. This will have a further negative impact on the Nokia’s already eroding position in smart phones,” it said.

        • SplashTop Releases Its MeeGo-based OS

          While Nokia has effectively abandoned the MeeGo Linux operating system, Intel is still supporting MeeGo along with AMD and other vendors, including SplashTop. SplashTop has today announced the release of their MeeGo-based operating system.

        • Fujitsu starts selling the first MeeGo netbook

          Fujitsu has just put MeeGo on their existing LifeBook MH330 netbook (originally launched with Windows onboard) making it the first MeeGo netbook shipping commercially. The MH330 (launched in mid 2010) has an Intel Atom N455 @ 1.66 GHz, 1 GB RAM, a 250 GB hard disk and 10.1″ 1024×600 display. The netbook is available now on Asian markets for about € 300.

        • Meego and Qt after Microsoft & Nokia: a summary of “facts”

          # MEEGO@NOKIA: #info Elop: Nokia would continue to develop the MeeGo operating system in collaboration with Intel
          So, definetly this work will continue.

          [...]

          So Meego will live on, both inside and outside Nokia. Qt will live on, both inside and outside Nokia. Symbian will die. Qt will not be ported to QP7. KDE will survive.

        • Collabortage

          I coined the term during an IRC conversation after a friend expressed dark suspicions that the MeeGo alliance between Intel and Nokia might have been a ploy by Intel to screw up Nokia’s ARM-centered product strategy in order to favor Intel’s Atom processors. I do not endorse this theory, but it started me thinking of various historical examples, such as Microsoft’s browser-technology collaboration with Spyglass, for which there is in fact strong reason to suspect deliberate collabortage.

        • Doomed By The Desire For Control?

          By attempting to seize control, Nokia and Microsoft are actually likely to lose influence.

        • Nokia shareholders and unions fight back against Microkia

          First, will be a battle with the Finnish trade union Pro which is demanding €100,000 (in addition to severance payments) for every Nokia employee that loses their job under Elop’s new strategy — money the unions says will be used for reeducation.

        • Otellini: Nokia News Made Me Swear Like Yahoo’s CEO

          When Intel CEO Paul Otellini received a call from Nokia chief Stephen Elop about Nokia’s move to Microsoft, he used a word that Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz “has often used.”

        • Nokiasoft: Who are the Open Source Winners and Losers?

          The clearest loser in the deal is Symbian: it is as dead as the proverbial Monty Python parrot.

          [...]

          Surprisingly, perhaps, I don’t think Qt will be joining Symbian and MeeGo as a Dead Parrot; indeed, continuing the Monty Python theme, I’d say it’s more a question of “I’m not dead yet.” For Qt is, of course, a key element of KDE, which is doing very nicely thank you, and certainly doesn’t depend on the commitment or otherwise of Nokia (luckily). People will continue to hack on Qt because by doing so they can make KDE better – which is what they are passionate about.

          Indeed, you could argue that Qt might benefit from Nokia leaving it alone: it will allow Qt development to concentrate on improving those things that matter to KDE, rather than Nokia’s corporate priorities. And if the eventual owner of Qt (whoever that might be, assuming Nokia eventually sells it, as I think likely) starts messing about – hello Oracle – then there’s always the option of a fork, which in the wake of LibreOffice has become a much more respectable option.

        • Hands on with Intel’s MeeGo tablet UI: good ideas, rough edges

          Although Nokia is gutting its commitment to MeeGo, the platform still has support from a number of other prominent hardware vendors. Intel, which originally cofounded MeeGo with Nokia last year, has released an experimental “pre-alpha” build of its MeeGo tablet environment.

          The software was unveiled at Mobile World Congress this week and is being demonstrated on the Atom-based ExpoPC tablet. It is built with Nokia’s Qt development toolkit and uses the powerful Qt Quick framework for much of the user interface. It appears to be at a relatively early stage of development and is still lacking a lot of basic capabilities, but many of the underlying concepts are promising.

        • Intel Shows Off MeeGo Tablet UI Experience[Screenshots and Video]

          MeeGo is in the news again, this time for all the right reasons. Few days ago, Nokia announced that they are going to partner with Microsoft and use Windows Phone 7 as its primary OS instead of MeeGo. Intel on the other hand is all set to go ahead with MeeGo platform without Nokia. Intel has reiterated its commitment towards MeeGo open source mobile OS project by showing off MeeGo’s latest UI experience at Mobile World Congress currently being held at Barcelona, Spain.

        • Community SSU features to look forward to

          Most of these patches try to improve the user experience and look and feel of the Maemo 5 UI, but tastes differ, so you can choose which one to enable:

          * Blurless desaturation: With this feature enabled, the background of dialogs, menus, the launcher and the switcher won’t get all blurry – instead, they keep their sharpness, but are darkened and desaturated. (thread with screenshots)
          * Bigger task switcher: I think this is one of my earliest patches, now cleaned up to be configurable with different settings. You can choose between the Maemo 5 default layout, the single-column “big” task switcher and the two-column task switcher. I’ve left the horizontal task switcher out of this, as it wasn’t working that well in some situations. (thread with screenshots)
          * Rotation around the Z axis: This one makes the screen rotation look much more natural, just like on the MeeGo Handset UX. Instead of rotating around the X and Y axis, this makes the transitions from/to portrait mode rotate around the Z axis. (demo video)
          * Forced auto-rotation for all apps: By default, hildon-desktop obeys the preferences of application windows and whether or not they support portrait mode. With this option enabled, hildon-desktop ignores those preferences and instead assumes every application can be auto-rotated. There’s no support for the home screen, launcher or switcher, as these things are more complicated to support in portrait mode. (demo video)

        • Intel Giving Away Lots of Cash, Trip to Antarctica, Jet Flight & More for MeeGo Developers

          Intel is currently offering several incentives for developers to create MeeGo apps. The prizes look very interesting. How does a trip to South Pole sound? How about flying former military jets at supersonic speeds? If you’re not into that, you can opt for cash. The first 100 submitted quality apps also get $500 and the best 10 of those apps get $1000.

      • Android

        • Google: Android activations up to 350,000 a day
        • VMware put an Android in your Android, so you can VM while you VM

          So apparently VMware heard you like virtualization (or at least, that corporations do), so it made an Android virtual machine that can run inside Android’s own Dalvik VM.

        • ZTE taking the high road with new Android devices

          One of the more interesting announcements at this year’s MWC has come from ZTE, a Chinese telcom which has held a solid portion of the Chinese market by offering a number of low-end Android phones. Last year, ZTE shipped 2 million Android phones, and this year is looking to increase that number to 10 million, but also aim a little higher with these. ZTE has announced a number of devices ranging from 1 GHz smartphones to 1.2 GHz dual-core devices. The standouts from ZTE’s announcement were the ZTE Skate, the Light 2, the Light 10, and a mysterious “Internet box”.

        • Social discovery app “Tagged” comes to Android this week

          Just about every one loves a little social networking in their lives, right? Well, if you are tired of Facebook and Twitter and hopefully have also moved on from MySpace, then maybe the network Tagged is what you are looking for. Tagged is self-dubbed “the world’s leader in social discovery” and because of that are brought their popular iPhone app to Android this week.

        • Android increases lead over iOS in ad impressions. Let’s break down the numbers.

          As of October and November of last year, Millennial Media reported that Android and iOS were tied in ad impression share at about 38% each. By December, Android had pulled ahead with 46% to iOS’s 32%. Now, Millennial Media is reporting that in Januray iOS had an ad impression share of 28%, compared to Android’s 54%.

        • Huawei announces low-end IDEOS X3 smartphone and X7 tablet

          Huawei is certainly not going for the big money crowd like many of the other Android manufacturers seem to be doing. Huawei has just announced an entry-level phone, the IDEOS X3, and what looks to be an entry level tablet as well, the IDEOS X7.

        • CyanogenMod 7 release candidates now available for a number of devices

          Version 7 of the Android world’s most popular custom ROM, CyanogenMod, has now received its first proper release candidates. This means that a final release of CM7 should be pretty close now. The new builds are feature-complete and have been pretty thoroughly tested, although they might have to do some further tweaking. Nonetheless, these release candidates of CyanogenMod 7 should definitely be stable enough for everyday use.

        • The System & The System: Overlaying GNU on Android on the Beagle Board

          And so it is with Contraption, my project to overlay a GNU environment on top of the otherwise very un-GNU-like Android on the Beagle Board. Like the citizens of Beszel and Ul Qoma, the GNU and Android environments co-exist in close proximity, within the same geographic file system and random access memory, yet kept separate through the auspices of the Breach-like Linux kernel. You can interact with Android from one one screen while running GNU-based software from a bash shell inside an ssh session from another. For the most part the two systems simply unsee one another by virtue of using different PATH and LD_LIBRARY_PATH environmental variables and by being dynamically linked to different shared objects. The Linux kernel and the dynamic loader keep it all separate.

        • MapQuest Launches Android App with OpenStreetMap and Turn-By-Turn Navigation

          One of the superior apps on the Android phone has long been Google Maps, with its turn-by-turn and voice-guided navigation missing from the iPhone version. So on the surface, MapQuest has a difficult sell to Android users with the launch of its free app today.

          The MapQuest app also offers the turn-by-turn capabilities and takes advantage of Android’s speech capabilities to offer a voice guide as well. The benefits of MapQuest over Google Maps comes from the former’s use of OpenStreetMap (OSM), making the mapping app usable outside the U.S. and adding to it some user-submitted data.

        • Android pwns Mobile World Congress with unique display [Video]

          Android is taking over according to all the stat reports and user surveys released these days. But what happens when the green robot commands a large space of one of the major mobile phone events in the world?

          In Hall 8 of Mobile World Congress, Google has an Android zone that takes up a big chunk of space. There are product demos of Google and third-party apps, massive statues, giveaways, and even a smoothie bar serving up treats with an Android theme (Cupcake, Donut, Gingerbread, and Honeycomb). It’s one of the most popular and crowded destinations at MWC.

        • Google Unveils Android Subscriptions

          Google on Wednesday debuted an Android subscription model, which lets publishers “set their own prices and terms for their digital content.” As Fast Company notes, “It’s a fast counter blow aimed squarely at Apple’s new subscription system.” Indeed, “Google’s been careful to frame its system as a direct competitor to Apple’s App Store subscription service–one that’s far friendlier to publishers–without really mentioning Apple at all.”

        • Android Market on pace to outgrow iTunes 3-1

          According to a recent report by Lookout’s App Genome Project, the number of Android Marketplace apps increased by over 125% since August, putting it on pace to outgrow iTunes apps three to one. Apple still commands a sizeable lead in the total number of apps it offers through iTunes versus AM, the gap is narrowing quickly.

        • Android Ice Cream 2.4 = Gingerbread + Honeycomb

          Google CEO Eric Schmidt confirmed to an audience at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona the upcoming version 2.4 of its Android operating system will combine both Gingerbread 2.3 and the tablet-centric Honeycomb 3.0.

        • TeamViewer6 Stable For Android, Released [Remote Desktop Application]
        • IcedRobot Will Take Android Beyond Smartphones: Exclusive Interview

          A group of developers has announced a project called IcedRobot which will make it possible to run Android apps on non-Android platforms. Something similar to what Alien Dalvik is trying to do. However, there is a significant difference between the two projects, what is it? How is IcedRobot going to affect the Oracle-Google court battle? How is it going to make life easier for developers? How is it going to make life easier for users? We got in touch with one of the founders of the IcedRobot to understand more about the project. Here is an exclusive interview with one of the founding members of the IcedRobot project, Mario Torre.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 4, Socorro at AOL, PyCon 2011, Join Mozilla and more…

        * Firefox 4 playing well on major websites
        * Laura Thomson talks Socorro at AOL
        * Mozillians Take PyCon 2011
        * Now serving weekly updates on Join Mozilla
        * Meet the Developer Engagement Team
        * Thoughts on community from metrics guru
        * Mozilla and IPv6 day
        * Can IE9 be considered a modern browser?
        * Improvements to Firefox 4′s spell checker
        * More on MozMill at FOSDEM
        * What will Add-on updates look like in the future?
        * Software updates
        * Upcoming events
        * Developer calendar
        * About about:mozilla

      • Add-ons Review Update – Week of 2011/02/15
  • SaaS

    • Is the open source cloud computing dream evaporating?

      It’s hard to avoid cloud computing these days, with vendors lining up to support this latest incarnation of an idea that goes all the way back to terminals hanging off a mainframe. In many ways, that’s unfortunate, since the idea of computing ‘in the cloud’ poses particular problems for free software.

  • Databases

    • Database Technology for Large Scale Data

      It is similar to the MapReduce programming model, which has been frequently used as of late. Both Greenplum and Aster Data provide a feature of combining SQL and MapReduce. The following is a description of the SQL used by Greenplum and the manner in which it is processed.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Oracle Linux 6 available

      With a simple email to an in-house mailing list, last Friday Oracle announced the general availability of Oracle Linux 6. There is, as yet, no press release on the release, which is unusual as the company and its CEO usually tend to aim for maximum publicity.

      The new generation Oracle Linux is largely a clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 (RHEL), which was released last November. New features listed in the release email and release notes are, therefore, already familiar from the original, for instance the use of Ext4 as the default file system, the support of XFS and the ftrace and perf tracing tools. One section in the release notes lists all the packages Oracle has modified to adjust the distribution’s “look and feel” and remove Red Hat trademarks.

    • [tdf-announce] LibreOffice Community starts 50,000 Euro challenge for setting-up its foundation

      LibreOffice Community starts 50,000 Euro challenge for setting-up its foundation

    • Webcast recap: General Hugh Shelton
    • Now Hudson moves to GitHub

      The dispute between Oracle and the Hudson community over the continuous integration software Hudson, which led to the creation of Jenkins, a renamed version, has taken an ironic turn.The arguments started over where Hudson’s code and other developer resources would be hosted.

      Oracle had insisted, having ownership of the Hudson trademark, on the code being on its project Kenai-based Java.net service. But after problems with a mishandled migration of the project, much of the community backed a plan that would have moved it to the GitHub repository. Oracle objected to this and the community’s response to Oracle was a vote to rename Hudson as Jenkins to avoid the trademark issue and taking control of Jenkins hosting.

    • Google Files Motion for Leave to File Motion for Summary Judgment on Oracle’s Copyright Claim

      Google has sent a letter [PDF] to Judge William Alsup, asking leave to file a motion for summary judgment on Count VIII of Oracle’s Amended Complaint in Oracle v. Google.

      Count VIII is the one about copyright infringement. So regardless of how the judge rules, we get to see Google’s position, which if I translate into non-legalese would be: “What we did isn’t actionable, being covered by fair use or the files are so few their use is de minimis or they are not copyrightable.” I have done the letter as text for you.

    • New: OOo-DEV 3.x Developer Snapshot (build DEV300m100) available

      Developer Snapshot OOo-Dev DEV300m100 is available for download.

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

    • LibreOffice Starts 50,000 Euro Challenge Foundation Set-Up

      Oracle’s Sun buyout has taught a very important lesson to the Free and Open Source Community: its better and safer to be independent than be controlled by a corporate entity. There are many projects driven by corporates with good intentions, but the risk of buyout remains.

      OpenOffice fork, LibreOffice is one of the role models of community-governed project. To meet the financial requirements without compromising on what the community or users want, the LibreOffice community is calling for monetary contributions.

    • LibreOffice Colorful Icons Land In The US @ SCALE

      LibreOffice is the free office productivity suite developed by the TDF developer community, and is going to be included as the default choice in all Linux desktop distributions announced from March 2011 onwards. The software features a word processor (Writer), a spreadsheet (Calc), a presentation manager (Impress), a charting and graphics program (Draw), and a database front end (Base). The suite supports the ISO standard Open Document Format (ODF) for personal documents, and is compatible with most of the legacy proprietary formats – including several flavors of Microsoft Office, WordPerfect and Microsoft Works – and with the OOXML ISO standard (in the current non-standard Microsoft implementation).

  • Healthcare

    • Parliament Approves European Directive Against Falsified Medicines

      The European Parliament today approved a new law aimed at preventing falsified medicines from entering the legal supply chain, according to a Parliament press release. The law needs to be formally approved by the Council of Ministers.

      The new law will cover internet sales and introduces new safety and traceability measures. According to the release, a “huge growth” in falsified medicines has been witnessed since 2005, with an estimated one percent of products sold in to the European public through the legal supply chain being falsified, according to the release. The law is expected to be posted soon to a link provided in the press release.

  • Funding

    • AdBlock Plus: Open source for fun (not funds)

      It is this last thing that strikes me as offering the most vital reason for the significant contributions to VLC, and it also comes through in Palant’s decision to invest so much time in Adblock Plus. He told me: “I have the feeling that this work is important. I can help many people and in the long term the web might actually become a better place.”

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Stress test FSFE’s new donation options!

      FSFE’s work depends on your donations. Without we would not be able to work on software freedom, follow the policy process in European countries, the European Union, and the United Nations, nor would we be able to run campaigns like pdfreaders.org or Document Freedom Day.

    • Decentralizing the Internet So Big Brother Can’t Find You

      On Tuesday afternoon, as Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton spoke in Washington about the Internet and human liberty, a Columbia law professor in Manhattan, Eben Moglen, was putting together a shopping list to rebuild the Internet — this time, without governments and big companies able to watch every twitch of our fingers.

    • The FreedomBox Foundation
    • Debian and the FreedomBox
  • Project Releases

    • GNU Guile 2.0.0 released

      We are pleased to announce GNU Guile release 2.0.0, the first of a new stable series and the result of almost 3 years of work. It provides many new noteworthy features, most notably the addition of a compiler and virtual machine.

  • Government

    • EE: Ministry saves millions by using open source office

      Using the open source costed the ministry no more than 64.000 Euro over the past ten years, being simply the annual budget for training users. Had it continued to use a proprietary office suite, the costs for purchasing or renting proprietary software licences and user training would have ranged between 1.4 and 2.8 million Euro, Merilo showed in a presentation at the Latvian Open Technology Association (LATA), a trade organisation, on 18 January in Latvia’s capital Riga.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • User-led innovation can’t create breakthroughs. Really?

      2) Getting user feedback ≠ taking user feedback.

      Jens and Rasmus jump to a conclusion that I probably wouldn’t reach myself. They argue that it is actually harmful to listen to users and that innovative brands don’t care about what their users want. They make four key points 1) Users insights can’t predict future demand 2) User-centered processes stifle creativity 3) User focus makes companies miss out on disruptive innovations 4) User-led design leads to sameness.

    • The Lebanese Creative Commons community gains momentum

      In the past three years, the Lebanese CC Community has started to structurally gain momentum and actively co-create together on local, regional and multi-national levels. The community that we have is vibrant and diverse consisting of visual artists, photographers, musicians, NGOs, and publishers—each with his own story and journey with CC.

    • Open Data

      • The State of Open Data in Canada: The Year of the License

        Open Data now an established fact in a growing list of Canadian cities. Vancouver, Toronto, Edmonton, Ottawa have established portals, Montreal, Calgary, Hamilton and some other cities are looking into launching their own and a few provinces are rumored to be exploring open data portals as well.

        This is great news and a significant accomplishment. While at the national level Canadian is falling further behind leaders such as England, the United States, Australia and New Zealand, at the local and potentially provincial/state level, Canada could position itself as an international leader.

      • How Open Data Initiatives Can Improve City Life

        Major city governments across North America are looking for ways to share civic data — which normally resides behind secure firewalls — with private developers who can leverage it to serve city residents via web and mobile apps. Cities can spend on average between $20,000 and $50,000 — even as much as $100,000 — to cover the costs of opening data, but that’s a small price to pay when you consider how much is needed to develop a custom application that might not be nearly as useful.

    • Open Hardware

      • Texas Instruments OMAP 5 may offer the best quad-core chip [Processor fights]

        All cores are not created equal. That was the key message that I took away from a recent meeting with the folks from Texas Instruments. While the trend among mobile phones and tablets is to trumpet how many cores one chipset has, and how many gigahertz can be crammed into a tiny piece of hardware, that doesn’t tell the whole story of how a device will perform.

        Texas Instruments recently announced that its TI OMAP 5 would be a quad-core processor that greatly advances the computing power of smartphones, tablets, and other devices. OMAP 5 features twin ARM Cortex-A15 cores that can each reach 2 GHz of power, and two ARM Cortex-M4 cores that are used to deliver optimal battery with less power requirements. So while NVIDIA trumpets its four Cortex A9 cores, TI plans to counter with what it claims will be a stronger and smarter quartet.

  • Programming

    • Is Eclipse Open-By-Rule?
    • Open Source COBOL-IT Tools to be Distributed by Speedware

      IBM i shops that develop in COBOL may be interested in learning about COBOL-IT, a compiler and collection of modernization tools that is developed in France under an open source license. Last week, the Canadian application modernization company Speedware announced that it’s now distributing COBOL-IT to North American customers.

      According to the Paris-based company, the COBOL-IT Compiler Suite is an ANS85-compliant version of the popular procedural language. The compiler installs on Windows, Unix, and Linux machines, including Linux for z/OS, thereby providing organizations with hosting options besides the IBM mainframe, where a lot of legacy COBOL resides.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • W3C: HTML5 will be finished in 2014

      Those curious about the final release date for the hotly debated HTML5 need wonder no more: The W3C (World Wide Web Consortium) plans to finalize the standard by July 2014, the organization announced Monday.

      “This is the first time we’ve been able to answer people’s questions of when it will be done,” said Ian Jacobs, head of W3C marketing and communications. “More and more people from more and more industries are asking when it will be done. They require stability in the standard and very high levels of interoperability.”

    • Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0) Authorized Translations Now in Six Languages
    • ODF Mime Type Icons Redesign

      Overall, this design decision enables us to make ODF file distinction to be supported via luminance and form/contour contrasts. Which is a significant improvement compared to the current ODF icons, without violating any ODF marketing constraints.

    • ODFDOM 0.8.7 – The new Release of the OpenDocument Java Library

      The new version of ODFDOM – our Apache 2 licensed ODF library in Java has been released!

    • Scramble to set mobile pay standard

      In the business world, the pursuit of profits sometimes makes for strange bedfellows. And in the race to be first in the local mobile payment market, credit card firms, telecommunications companies and mobile phone makers are forging unlikely alliances.

      With the country’s “cashless” payment culture and the ubiquitous presence of mobile phones creating a whole new way to pay for goods and services – via mobile devices – companies in some industries are looking to set the standards for the new business and get in on the first train.

    • Drumming Up More Addresses on the Internet

      They debated the question for more than a year. Finally, with a deadline looming, Mr. Cerf decided on a number — 4.3 billion separate network addresses, each one representing a connected device — that seemed to provide more room to grow than his experiment would ever require, far more, in fact, than he could ever imagine needing. And so he was comfortable rejecting the even larger number of addresses that some on his team had argued for.

Leftovers

  • [Old] Hunton & Williams Sued for $150 Million in Contract-Interference Case

    Hunton & Williams has been hit with a $150 million lawsuit in Wisconsin claiming that the law firm maliciously squeezed a broker out of a contract and should pay up for the company’s losses.

    The lawsuit alleges that Hunton & Williams and client Insight Equity Holdings LLC ousted plaintiff Minerals Development & Supply Co. from a supply chain agreement in which Minerals Development was the middleman. Filed in Monroe County, Wis., Circuit Court, on July 30, the lawsuit seeks punitive damages for what Minerals Development asserts was the law firm’s intentional and malicious conduct.

  • Why You Should Use Emoticons In Your Emails

    Language is a means of communication, buts its only as effective as the person using it. Without inflection and emotion, language loses a lot, making text communication one of the poorest forms. While emoticons can be informal, they may actually be the best way of bringing additional meaning to your emails.

  • Guilting parents out of child care

    In the crass world of Canadian right-wing politics, there is a surefire way to diffuse voters’ earnest desire for affordable, high quality child care and early learning options: play the guilt card.

    Human Resources Minister Diane Finley did it just last week in response to a federal Liberal promise to revive the national child-care program Paul Martin said he would implement before losing grip of his fledgling minority government five years ago.

  • No courting in public, Hindu group warns Delhi

    “We won’t allow our culture to be hijacked by foreign multinationals who have introduced concepts like Valentine’s Day just to sell cards,” said its spokesman, Sunil Tyagi. The group plans to equip its members with cameras to film couples in action. “When we upload such footage on YouTube, the couples will learn their mistake.”

  • Police issue arrest warrant for rabbi that supported book which justifies killing non-Jews
  • Stop the global land grab

    “NGOs don’t mobilise people, desperation mobilises people,” said a Cambodian land activist as he related the experience of Boeung Kak villagers who were driven off their land by their own government to make way for corporate profiteering.

  • Science

  • Hardware

    • ARM Marches Onward

      Obviously ARM is doing very well in embedded stuff and smart thingies but nVidia’s newest Tegra chip is mind-blowing. They tout it for mobile but demonstrate it doing video and games on huge monitors. Does that not spell desktop/notebook/gaming console? Yep! There’s a rumour that this will power the next iPad.

    • 3TB Drives are Here
  • Health/Nutrition

    • Monsanto Aims to Own Our Food, While Profiteering Off of Toxins and Pesticides

      In its latest of many articles on the increasing threat of Monsanto to world agricultural production, Truthout once again points out that the multinational corporation is in the process of privatizing much of our food supply through the patenting and aggressive marketing of genetically engineered (GE) seeds and crops.

    • Doctors Sue Federal Government for Deceptive Language on Meat, Dairy in New Dietary Guidelines

      A nonprofit physicians organization is suing the federal government over the newly released Dietary Guidelines for Americans, accusing officials of using deliberately obscure language regarding foods consumers should avoid. The Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) cites the government’s conflicts of interest and arbitrary and capricious behavior in developing nutrition advice that was supposed to help Americans fight record obesity levels.

      In a lawsuit filed this week against the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the Department of Health and Human Services, PCRM says the Dietary Guidelines are clear about what to eat more of—vegetables, fruits, and whole grains, for example—but deliberately hide the foods Americans should eat less of. The Guidelines use biochemical terms, such as “saturated fat” and “cholesterol” instead of specific food terms “meat” and “cheese.” This deliberate omission can be traced to the USDA’s close ties to the meat and dairy industries, including fast-food companies such as McDonald’s.

  • Security

    • Anonymous speaks: the inside story of the HBGary hack
    • Wednesday’s security updates
    • Legal Defenses For Anonymous In The Excited States – IANAL

      This is actually a multi-layered defense. The FBI appears (from some statements) to be trying to claim that having a copy of the Low Orbit Ion Cannon is illegal. The Low Orbit Ion Cannon is a network testing application. Network testing applications aren’t illegal, however they possibly could be used for illegal uses. I can see a defense lawyer claiming that the LOIC application is the cyber equivalent of a rifle, and possession is covered under the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

      The use of Distributed Denial of Service Attacks against Mastercard, Paypal, Visa, etc. is being regarded by the FBI as illegal. However the use of a gun in self defense isn’t illegal in many places. Expect to see arguments that use of the LOIC software is equivalent to using a gun for self defense.

      Also expect to see arguments that the social engineering attack on Rootkit.com was also self defense, assuming that the FBI can locate whoever actually did it. This would also cover any of the actions by anyone against HBGary Federal.

    • Anonymous victim HBGary goes to ground

      The computer security company hacked by members of activist group Anonymous has gone to ground as further revelations about its activites leak online.

      HBGary has cancelled its appearances at public events, saying that members of staff had been threatened.

      It follows the release of internal documents which appear to show the firm offered to smear Wikileaks’ supporters.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • [Old] Police arrest four at Toronto homes

      Toronto police are arresting many of the key organizers behind anti-G20 protests, several of them during pre-dawn raids on houses across Toronto that resulted in four people being charged with conspiracy to commit mischief.

    • CBS News’ Logan recovering after ‘brutal’ attack
    • Yemen protests turn violent

      Yemen protests started in mid January with a self immolation and the arrest and release of Yemeni activist Tawakel Karman, and they have not really stopped since. A Day of Rage was organized for February 3 but tens of thousands were in the streets on January 27 as well as many smaller protests, throughout the time period. The last five days have seen a huge increase in the numbers in the streets, as well as the violence directed at them. According to Human Rights Watch, president Ali Abdallah Saleh’s security forces have attacked demonstrators, activists, lawyers, and journalists in Yemen capital city Sanaa without justification. An estimated 3000 people protested from Sana’a University, clashing with police and pro-Saleh demonstators using batons, rocks, and occasionally knives. Today in Taiz, over 2500 people are refusing to leave and are forming committees and buying tents to continue occupying their protests grounds.

    • ‘Best lead’ before 7/7 not followed

      Police failed to chase up their “best lead” after a suspected armed robbery, which may have led them to one of the July 7 bombers weeks before the atrocity, an inquest has heard.

      Inquiries were “left outstanding” after Jermaine Lindsay was linked to an alleged gun crime in May 2005. Though police were able to identify the 19-year-old as the owner of a red Fiat Brava spotted leaving the scene, this information was never fully followed up.

      Officers launched an investigation named Operation Bugle after a man dialled 999 to say there was a gunman in his flat on May 27, 2005 – five weeks before the terror attacks on London.

      Three women and a child were later seen fleeing from the property “in fear” while three men – wearing balaclavas and gloves – were spotted getting into the Fiat Brava.

      When armed officers arrived later that evening, neither the owner of the Luton flat nor the gunman were there. Attempts to identify the gang of men – two black and one Asian – or the group of women seen leaving the area in a taxi were unsuccessful.

    • Somali pirate gets more than 33 years in prison

      A Somali pirate who kidnapped and brutalized the captain of a U.S.-flagged merchant ship off the coast of Africa in 2009 was sentenced to more than 33 years in prison Wednesday by an emotional judge who told him he deserved a stiff punishment for leading a crew of armed bandits bent on committing “depraved acts.”

      U.S. District Judge Loretta A. Preska choked up as she read at length from letters written by Capt. Richard Phillips and traumatized sailors who were aboard the cargo vessel commandeered by Abdiwali Abdiqadir Muse.

    • Vaughan Smith’s new film ‘Blood and Dust’ broadcasting on Al Jazeera

      Above is a preview of Vaughan Smith’s dramatic new film BLOOD AND DUST recording life and death with an American helicopter medevac unit in Southern Afghanistan.

      ‘These Medivac teams, US military air ambulances, are amoungst the only soldiers that go to war to save lives and they are very good at it.’

    • Two TSA agents arrested at JFK Airport for stealing $39K from passenger’s bag

      Under questioning, the pair also admitted swiping up to $160,000 from other unsuspecting passengers.

      Rogue agents Davon Webb, 30, and Persad Coumar, 36, were busted after a sharp-eyed colleague blew the whistle.

    • Libya cracks down on protesters after violent clashes in Benghazi

      Hundreds of anti-government protesters clashed with police and government supporters in Libya’s second city yesterday as unrest spread across the Arab world.

    • Mubarak ordered Tiananmen-style massacre of demonstrators, Army refused

      Buried in this Robert Fisk report for The Independent is a startling account of the Egyptian army refusing to move with tanks against the Tahrir Square protesters on January 30. If this is true, it must be the defining moment in the history of the movement that toppled Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year reign.

      [...]

      Last night [Feb 10], a military officer guarding the tens of thousands celebrating in Cairo threw down his rifle and joined the demonstrators, yet another sign of the ordinary Egyptian soldier’s growing sympathy for the democracy demonstrators. We had witnessed many similar sentiments from the army over the past two weeks. But the critical moment came on the evening of 30 January when, it is now clear, Mubarak ordered the Egyptian Third Army to crush the demonstrators in Tahrir Square with their tanks after flying F-16 fighter bombers at low level over the protesters.

      Many of the senior tank commanders could be seen tearing off their headsets – over which they had received the fatal orders – to use their mobile phones. They were, it now transpires, calling their own military families for advice. Fathers who had spent their lives serving the Egyptian army told their sons to disobey, that they must never kill their own people.

    • Baghdad wants U.S. to pay $1 billion for damage to city

      Iraq’s capital wants the United States to apologize and pay $1 billion for the damage done to the city not by bombs but by blast walls and Humvees since the U.S.-led invasion that toppled Saddam Hussein.

    • Iraqi lied about weapons of mass destruction

      An Iraqi defector has admitted for the first time he fabricated claims that Saddam Hussein had weapons of mass destruction, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported Wednesday.

      In an interview with the newspaper, Rafid Ahmed Alwan al-Janabi said he made up a story told to German intelligence officials throughout 2000 about mobile biological weapons and clandestine factories. His motive was to overthrow the Iraqi government, he said.

    • Bahrain: 2011-2-16

      In the last hour police raided the Pearl Roundabout in Manama. The protestors were camped when teargas, buckshot and rubber bullets were fired into the square from the bridge overlooking the circle. When the crowd stampeded away from the bridge another barrage from the opposite direction scattered them. The circle has been locked down with no one allowed in or out. Many were wounded and some deaths have occurred. Men, women and children were injured. This attack came after the king promised to investigate the previous deaths from buckshot.

    • Bahrain: 2011-2-17

      It looks like the regime will not roll over as in Tunisia and Egypt. I expect tomorrow will be a very interesting day in Bahrain. Friday is the holy day when many passionate speeches will be made in the mosques.

    • Bahrain Police Refuse Ambulances Access To Wounded Protesters
    • Domino Theory 50 Years Later
    • Tsunami in Egypt

      UNTIL THE very last moment, the Israeli leadership tried to keep Hosni Mubarak in power.

    • Tea Party declares war on military spending

      In his speech to the conference on Friday, Paul the elder was the only speaker to address the current crisis in Egypt and criticised successive US administrations for “propping up a puppet dictator”, citing 30 years of uncritical support for Hosni Mubarak. Traditionally, Ron Paul’s supporters (and the libertarian philosophy they espouse) have been dismissed as merely boisterous gadflies fluttering around the real heavyweight horsetrading for political power within the Republican party. The issues they champion range from the practical (passing a balanced budget amendment), to the fanciful (abolishing the Federal Reserve and reintroducing the gold standard); thus they have never been taken seriously by the Republican establishment.

  • Cablegate

    • The WIKILEAKS NEWS & VIEWS BLOG For Tuesday, Day 80

      Six in 10 say WikiLeaks played role in Tunisia revolt, which sparked so much else, and other demos. “More than 60 percent believe that Wikileaks will change the way governments behave. 55 percent of Arabs revealed in the poll that they believe little to nothing of what their governments tell them.”

    • WikiLeaks, free speech and Twitter come together in Va. court case

      In the courtroom, John Keker, a lawyer representing one of the Twitter clients, said the users’ data would give the government a map of people tied to WikiLeaks and essentially halt free speech online.

    • Notes From a Father of the Open Internet, 15 Years On

      As a revolution that was in many ways organized on Facebook continued in Egypt, John Perry Barlow said Wednesday that the Declaration of the Independence of Cyberspace that he wrote 15 years ago Tuesday is still as relevant now as it was when he penned it.

    • The Australian’s double standard on Julian Assange

      The Australian’s love-hate relationship with Julian Assange and WikiLeaks — possibly a little more co-dependent on The Oz’s side — continues apace. Like much of News Limited, its right-wing columnists turned their guns on him early, before The Oz began a desperate attempt to acquire some of the “cablegate” cables after Philip Dorling began publishing reports of them in Fairfax (which disgraced itself as the only news partner unwilling to actually publish the cables in question).

      [...]

      The implicit accusation is absurd and simply wrong.

    • EFF Argues for Privacy in Hearing Over Twitter Records

      These secret government requests for information only came to light because Twitter took steps to ensure their customers were notified and had the opportunity to respond. In fact, EFF was only able to speak publicly about the hearing and the motions we filed on behalf of our client, Icelandic Member of Parliament Birgitta Jonsdottir, after petitioning the court to lift the seal on the legal proceedings. We also asked the court Tuesday to go further with its unsealing, and make more documents public. The issues at hand — WikiLeaks, privacy, free speech, and social networking — are all important matters of public interest, and the orders and motions before the judge should be available to inform public debate.

    • Obama Admin Touts Internet Freedom While Targeting Twitter, WikiLeaks

      The Obama administration has unveiled a new policy it says will help protesters worldwide evade curbs to internet freedom. Drawing on the key role of online organizing in the recent uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the U.S. will help bloggers and activists evade state censorship.

    • Hillary Clinton Talks The Talk On Internet Freedom; Will The Administration Walk The Walk?

      A year ago, Hillary Clinton gave a speech about the importance of “internet freedom” that many of us later pointed out appeared to be in stark contrast with the federal government’s (including Secretary of State Clinton’s) reaction to the publishing of various State Department cables. So a lot of folks were interested in what Clinton had planned for her followup speech on internet freedoms, which she gave yesterday. I’ve embedded the full speech below, but you can also read a summary of the speech at Wired.

    • Friend of Suspected WikiLeaks Source Alleges Torture

      A friend of the alleged whistleblower, U.S. Army Private Bradley Manning, says the U.S. government’s treatment of Manning amounts to torture.

    • WikiLeaks: Egypt’s new man at the top ‘was against reform’

      The military leader charged with transforming Egypt opposed political reform because he believed that it “eroded central government power”, according to leaked US diplomatic cables.

    • Hillary Clinton champions Internet freedom, but cautions on WikiLeaks

      The 50-minute speech was also an opportunity for the US to weigh in on a event that has been a thorn in the discussion over freedom of speech since it began, namely the WikiLeaks document release, says Depauw University communications professor Kevin Howley.

      He noted the “surprisingly small” amount of mainstream attention given to the fact that WikiLeaks was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize two weeks ago.

    • Clinton: We Love Net Freedom, Unless It Involves WikiLeaks
    • Government challenged on Twitter records access

      Birgitta Jonsdottir, a member of Iceland’s parliament, is the most high-profile of the three defendants.

    • Interview of Daniel Ellsberg on Bradley Manning [MP3]
    • 06YEREVAN1019, A PROSTITUTE’S STORY: SEX AND TRAFFICKING IN

      Poverty and desperation are the largest factors contributing to trafficking in persons in Armenia, according to prostitutes, police and NGOs in Vanadzor, Armenia’s third-largest city. We met them during a July 14 trip to the city, where prostitutes gather after dusk in the traffic circle outside a central church to begin the day’s work. To each we posed the question, “What can be done to eradicate trafficking in persons in Armenia?” No one had an answer, but all agreed that lack of jobs drove women to sell themselves both in Armenia and overseas, where the money was better, but where they often didn’t actually get paid. They told us that girls as young as 11 and 12 have started walking the streets. A police officer told us that parents send their daughters to Turkey fully understanding the cost at which remittances will be sent home. We visited a decrepit shanty town, where prostitutes work for bread and rice, to see first-hand the conditions in which many of them live. We left Vanadzor convinced that, while stricter laws and harsher sentencing are needed in Armenia, prostitutes work in large part because they have to put food on the table, and they go to Turkey and the UAE because they believe the money is better there.

    • Lawmaker reintroduces WikiLeaks prosecution bill

      New legislation in the U.S. Congress targets WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for espionage prosecution.

      Representative Peter King, a New York Republican, introduced the Securing Human Intelligence and Enforcing Lawful Dissemination, or SHIELD, Act on Tuesday. The bill would clarify U.S. law by saying that it is an act of espionage to publish the protected names of American intelligence sources who collaborate with the U.S military or intelligence community.

      King introduced similar legislation in 2010. Senators John Ensign, a Nevada Republican, Joe Lieberman, a Connecticut independent, and Scott Brown, a Massachusetts Republican, introduced similar legislation in the Senate last week.

    • Julian Assange Has NEVER Done ANYTHING That Would Give The U.S. Jurisdiction! Alan Dershowitz
    • Cables illuminate U.S. relations with Bahrain, potential for unrest

      The United States and Bahrain are close allies. In fact, according to an April 2008 U.S. diplomatic cable, one of several released by WikiLeaks this week, the two countries have “about as good a bilateral relationship as anywhere.” The cables recount a number of interesting details, particularly in light of ongoing unrest there this week, about the government’s leadership, U.S. interests in Bahrain and the region, and about the backstory of sectarian tensions between a ruling Sunni government and a large underclass Shiite majority.

      U.S. interests in Bahrain, according to the cables, center around two issue: Iran and Iraq. And the two are related. The April 2008 cables notes that Bahrain’s “number-one security concern is Iran. They support [the U.S.] tough stand toward Tehran.” The cables claim that Bahrain worked with the U.S. government to monitor financial transactions from Iran. And perhaps even more importantly, Manama expressed interest in creating a broader alliance of countries in the Gulf and the region to resist Iran, the cables claim. And here’s where Iraq comes in, according to a 2008 cable: “Our point that reintegrating Iraq into the Arab fold is critical to limiting Iranian influence has had real resonance with the Bahraini leadership.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Sterility in frogs caused by environmental pharmaceutical progestogens

      Frogs appear to be very sensitive to progestogens, a kind of pharmaceutical that is released into the environment. Female tadpoles that swim in water containing a specific progestogen, levonorgestrel, are subject to abnormal ovarian and oviduct development, resulting in adult sterility. This is shown by a new study conducted at Uppsala University and published today in the scientific journal Aquatic Toxicology.

    • The True Cost Of Coal – Up To A Half Trillion Dollars Per Year

      Dr. Paul Epstein from the Center for Health and the Global Environment at Harvard’s Medical School has written an article set for publication this month in the Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences quantifying the true costs of coal in terms of economic, health and environmental impacts.

      Dr. Epstein’s study details how each stage of coal’s life cycle (extraction, transportation, processing, and combustion) has enormous costs, all of which are directly borne by the public. Notably, the report estimates some $74.6 billion a year in public health costs for Appalachian communities, mainly from increasing healthcare burdens, injury and death.

    • Video: Carnivorous Bladderworts Catch Meals With Vacuum Power
    • Amazon pollution: Chevron hits back in row with Ecuador

      US oil giant Chevron says it will appeal against an $8.6bn (£5.3bn) fine imposed by Ecuador judges, carrying on a long-running row over pollution.

      Chevron’s Kent Robertson told the BBC the case was an “extortion scheme”, and accused Ecuador’s state-run firm of polluting the country’s Amazon region.

    • Mining giants bury Canadian critics with lawsuits

      Canadian academics and free speech advocates are up in arms over two mining multinationals’ use of libel law to bury their critics in lawsuits. Alain Deneault, Delphine Abadie, and William Sacher published a book called Noir Canada. Pillage, corruption et criminalité en Afrique that detailed well-sourced human rights abuses by the multinational resource companies Barrick Gold and Banro Corporation.

  • Finance

    • NYSE traders say yes to Germany, no to lederhosen

      A German takeover of the New York Stock Exchange, the citadel of American capitalism, would have shocked its floor traders in years gone by. But not now.

    • Is the Great Stagnation a great opportunity?

      As Tyler points out in this book, and catalogued at length in his other excellent book, Create Your Own Economy, recent increases in happiness come from growth in internal economies. That is, internal to humans. In the past, increased well-being came from not having a toilet and then having one, or the invention of cheap air travel. Today they come from blogging, watching Lost on Netflix, listening to a symphony from iTunes, tweeting with your friends, seeing their pictures on Facebook or Path, and learning and collaborating on Wikipedia. As a result, once one secures a certain income to cover basic needs, greater happiness and well-being can be had for virtually nothing.

    • We All Work at Enron Now

      Remember Enron? That paragon of turn-of-the-century new-economy triumphalism, gushed over by pundits, lauded by investors, celebrated by the cognoscenti — until it turned out to be a roadside bomb in disguise? The cause of its demise, ultimately: overstating benefits and understating costs. The result, of course, was a spectacular flameout, today the stuff of legend.

      So here’s a question. Is the global economy going Enron? Just like Enron, does it systematically and chronically overstate real benefits (consider just how vanishingly little “profit” reflects trust, happiness, joy, delight, inspiration, passion, wisdom, or a sense of meaning) and understate real costs (like damage to nature, the future, communities, society, or human achievement itself)? And is that, perhaps, the prime mover of what both Tyler Cowen and I have termed a Great Stagnation?

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Egypt’s Lobbyists Worked To Block Pro-Human Rights, Democracy Resolution

      New disclosures filed in the past few weeks by Egypt’s lobbying team in Washington shine a light on the activity the country took last summer and fall to block the discussion and passage of a resolution calling on the United States to support human rights in Egypt and demand an end to the emergency law, two key demands of the protesters who, last week, toppled former President Hosni Mubarak.

    • Beck warns against searching his conspiracy theories on Google

      Okay, Glenn Beck has completely lost it. Now he’s warning his audience against looking up his conspiracy theories on Google…

    • UPDATED: The HB Gary Email That Should Concern Us All

      According to an embedded MS Word document found in one of the HB Gary emails, it involves creating an army of sockpuppets, with sophisticated “persona management” software that allows a small team of only a few people to appear to be many, while keeping the personas from accidentally cross-contaminating each other. Then, to top it off, the team can actually automate some functions so one persona can appear to be an entire Brooks Brothers riot online.

  • Censorship

    • Algeria tried to block internet and Facebook as protest mounted

      The Algerian government was blamed by protesters for preventing access to internet providers across much of the capital, Algiers, and other cities including Annaba for much of Saturday morning and afternoon in an attempt to prevent planned demonstrations gathering pace.

      Plastic bullets and tear gas were used to try and disperse large crowds in major cities and towns, with 30,000 riot police taking to the streets in Algiers alone.

    • Salinger’s Ghost Censors From The Grave

      Jay McInerney in the NY Times reminds us why there will never be a biographical account of J.D. Salinger that is as accurate and insightful as it could be, all thanks to a bit of stifling censorship from the current copyright regime…

  • Privacy

    • Using Real Names has Real Consequences

      I post under my own name, but I do it with a consciousness of the risk.

      I’ve been on the net (it was the ARPANET then) since 1977. At that time, we actually had user profiles with a place to supply your social security number, and people often complied because there was no reason to suppose it was dangerous. Those were certainly different times. People today are often horrified as they look back at the practices of those days, but everyone’s sensibilities were different then. At some point we noticed that there was danger in having such information out in the open, so the data was erased and the ability to attach it was removed. But initially we were more trusting.

    • Council survey causes privacy concern

      A survey issued by Wiltshire Council has stirred up a privacy debate in the local community, as it asks questions about resident’s sexuality, debt levels and qualifications.

      According to the Salisbury Journal, the document has been sent out to 26,500 households across the county “to help the council develop its housing and planning policy” to provide affordable housing in the area.

    • Obama assertion: FBI can get phone records without oversight

      The Obama administration’s Justice Department has asserted that the FBI can obtain telephone records of international calls made from the U.S. without any formal legal process or court oversight, according to a document obtained by McClatchy.

      That assertion was revealed — perhaps inadvertently — by the department in its response to a McClatchy request for a copy of a secret Justice Department memo.

      Critics say the legal position is flawed and creates a potential loophole that could lead to a repeat of FBI abuses that were supposed to have been stopped in 2006.

    • Congressmen Urge State Department to Investigate Internet Spying Company

      To recap, Narus is a Sunnyvale, California, Internet surveillance and filtering company begun by Israeli security experts, and subsequently bought by Boeing. The company has nefarious links to the NSA, and to AT&T efforts to monitor phone communications domestically.

      Among Narus’ many cyber-sleuthing products is one called “Hone,” which can filter through billions of packets of online data to target individuals on social networks and then link that information to their “VOIP conversations, biometrically identify someone’s voice or photograph and then associate it with different phone numbers.” Those using cell phones or Wi-Fi connections can then be located geographically.

  • Civil Rights

    • WATCH: Our new ad opposing the PATRIOT Act
    • Free Press Congratulates Electronic Frontier Foundation on 21 Years of Service

      Free Press wishes to offer our congratulations and thanks to EFF for their work on behalf of the American public.

      Long before most people had heard of the Internet, EFF was on the job to ensure that it remained an open space for the free exchange of ideas. Little could anyone have imagined then the global impact it would have 21 years later, and in many ways, we have EFF to thank.

    • Happy 21st Birthday EFF
    • EFF Appoints Jonathan Zittrain to the Board of Directors

      EFF is extremely pleased to announce a new addition to our Board of Directors: Harvard Law and Computer Science Professor Jonathan Zittrain.

      For many of you, Jonathan does not need an introduction, as he is one of the true luminaries of Internet scholarship. His work encompasses the critical issues at the heart of EFF’s work, including privacy, speech, digital property, and the role played by private intermediaries in Internet architecture.

    • Thousands protest anti-union bill in Wisconsin

      Thousands of teachers, prison guards and students descended on the Wisconsin Capitol for a second day Wednesday to fight a move to take union rights away from government workers in the state that first granted them more than a half-century ago.

      The Statehouse filled with as many as 10,000 demonstrators who chanted, sang the national anthem and beat drums for hours. The noise level in the Rotunda rose to the level of a chainsaw, and many Madison teachers joined the protest by calling in sick in such numbers that the district had to cancel classes.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/UBB

    • Does Secretary Clinton Have a Double Standard on Internet Freedom?

      Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Tuesday highlighted new U.S. Internet freedom policy that is designed to help democracy movements gain access to open networks and speak out against authoritarian regimes.

      According to Clinton, the program will provide $25 million in new grants to support “technologists and activists working at the cutting edge of the fight against Internet repression.”

    • French Parliament to Consider Net Neutrality Law

      Net Neutrality in France is the subject simultaneously of government attacks and parliamentary efforts to protect it. After French Minister for Digital Economy Éric Besson’s direct attack, the French Parliament will on Thursday discuss a bill which strongly supports the principles of Net Neutrality. La Quadrature du Net calls on its supporters to contact French MPs and ask them to support this proposal in order to protect a free Internet.

    • We’re helping to make a safer internet – but it’s a shared responsibility!

      Anyone can be affected by security issues on the internet. It sounds like a boring cliché, but it is true. I recently I found out about someone attempting to impersonate me and my work at the Commission – using fake webmail and other tactics. My advice is to check how your name is being used online! Not only that – be sure you know who you are communicating with. Most of us like to share personal information online, but we rarely think about how embarrassing – or worse! – it could be if that information was forwarded or simply available to the wrong people. That is the thinking behind the theme of this year’s Safer Internet Day: “it’s more than a game – it’s your life.” (see the video above from the recent Data Protection Day which highlights this exact point)

    • The Internet Strikes Back: Tell Congress to Stand Up for Net Neutrality

      Make no mistake: this will be a decisive vote. This is the only time that Congress will vote “yes or no” on Net Neutrality, so it’s crucial that they vote the right way. Help us send a clear message to Congress: a vote for the repeal act is a vote against internet users.

  • DRM

    • PS3 Sparks Debate

      This device has caused a great deal of controversy Ranging a possible band in Norway due to unfair ToS’s that protect the consumer to Hackers entering into the system and breaching it Which has lead to a Lawsuit with an infamous hacker “gehot”
      to a Lawsuit that is pending Known as the “Other OS” Lawsuit that states SCEA wrongfully had removed the “Other OS” function in which was deemed as a security threat , The lawsuit also states that the “Other OS” was taken from a group of consoles that a Consumer had purchased.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Flip side of IPR protection

      Champions of intellectual property rights (IPR) say it is the driving force of economic growth and technological innovation. China has made its legislators perfect IPR laws ever since it decided to embrace market economy, and asked its law-enforcement agencies to ensure that they are properly implemented and protected. The country’s increasing foreign trade has further strengthened this demand, and the government and judicial authorities have made great efforts to perfect the IPR system.

      China has enacted and implemented a series of laws and regulations on IPR protection and issued the Outline of the National Intellectual Property Strategy in 2008. Its judicial authorities at various levels continue to crack down on people and companies violating IPR. On the whole, the country has made considerable progress both in legislation and enforcement of IPR laws.

      But the purpose of an IPR system is not only to protect intellectual property, but also to encourage innovation, maintain social justice and thus promote comprehensive economic and social progress.

      The present tendency to lay undue emphasis on intellectual property both at home and abroad may go against the original intention of an IPR system. Some practices and disputes in the United States and other Western countries have taught a lesson to China, rather than being experiences worthy of emulation.

      The fundamental driving force of innovation is competition, while IPR protection in substance is a kind of monopoly. Monopoly can provide incentives for innovation, but it can also prompt former innovators to gain high return by relying on the products they have already innovated, rather than pushing them toward further innovation. Such a situation will ultimately weaken the power of technological innovation.

    • International Civil Society Demands End To Secrecy In TPPA talks

      Negotiators in Santiago, Chile for the fifth round of Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) talks were delivered a forceful message today by prominent civil society groups, demanding an end to the secrecy that shields their negotiations from the scrutiny of national lawmakers and the general public.

      Jane Kelsey, who is at the meeting, said that open letters addressed to government leaders in Australia, Chile, Malaysia, New Zealand and the United States of America, signed by trade unions, environmentalists, faith and social justice organisations that speak for hundreds of thousands of concerned citizens, were handed to each delegation.

      The letters object that the proposed agreement is deeply undemocratic in its process and its effect.

    • Copyrights

      • KEI comments on USTR 2011 Special 301 Review

        KEI’s comments on the USTR 2011 Special 301 Review are available here.

      • Movie theatres generating record results in Canada

        Cineplex Inc, (CGX) the largest motion picture exhibitor in Canada has recently released its 2010 year end totals, and its net revenue is up 17.8 percent from 2009.

        The entertainment company has interest in over 132 theatres across Canada with 1,366 screens, and it’s currently serving approximately 70 million guests annually. The latest financial report shows that they’re making record gains aside from attendance which is down .09% from last year.

      • Premium VOD Is Doomed If This Piracy Study Is Correct

        A new PricewaterhouseCoopers study casts serious doubt on consumer willingness to pay for movies on digital platforms. Warning: Film-industy executives interested in reading further may want to first increase dosage of any anti-depressants they might be taking.

        If, as recent comments made on media-conglomerate earnings calls would suggest, studios are gearing up to charge consumers $20-25 to watch movies in their homes two months or so after theatrical release, the new revenue stream known as premium VOD is headed for quite a bumpy ride.

      • Would Shakespeare Have Survived Today’s Copyright Laws?
      • UK Law Enforcement Also Looking To Be Able To Seize Domains

        And with both the US and the UK looking for such rights, won’t more and more countries now start to follow? It certainly makes you wonder about the impact of the overall internet, when various countries can just seek to shut down various domains without any trial determination.

      • An Open Letter From Internet Engineers to the Senate Judiciary Committee

        Today, 87 prominent Internet engineers sent a joint letter the US Senate Judiciary Committee, declaring their opposition to the “Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act” (COICA). The text of the letter is below.

      • Don’t Mess With Texas: Another Texas Judge Scrutinizes Mass Copyright Litigation

        Looks like the Texas courts are no place to file suit if you want to bypass due process. A few weeks ago, we reported that Mick Haig Productions had dismissed its copyright infringement lawsuit against 670 “John Does,” complaining that the court’s appointment of attorneys from EFF and Public Citizen had impeded its ability to prosecute its case. In a brief filed on behalf of the Does, EFF and Public Citizen had argued that Mick Haig should not be allowed to send subpoenas for the Does’ identifying information, because it had sued hundreds of people in one case, in the wrong jurisdiction and without meeting the constitutional standard for obtaining identifying information. We have also raised questions about the plaintiff’s conduct, as it appears it sent out subpoenas without the court’s permission.

      • 6,374 DISMISSED John Doe Defendants cheer as the LFP Internet Group lawsuits go down in flames.

        I would like to personally congratulate the 6,374+ John Doe Defendants (3,120 + 635 + 2,619) who have been dismissed from the LFP Internet Group, LLC (Larry Flynt Productions) cases. This is a huge victory for our clients and internet users in general. What makes this case significant is not the daunting number of defendants, but that this case provides great case law for future cases.

      • the “specter of e-book piracy” is a crock

        Used to be copyright was justified as an encouragement to creators to create more. The thing is the terms have become downright silly… extending copyright terms from fifty to seventy years after the death of the author is not going to encourage the author to create more. Once you’re dead that’s it. The current trend in ridiculous copyright laws don’t benefit the creators, but rather the corporations, who have never been particularly beneficial to creators. Corporations do NOT have the same objectives as creators.

      • Digital Economy (UK)/HADOPI

        • Concerns over the DEA Costs Sharing Order

          First is an acknowledgement that the Act will have implications on affordability of broadband. The Government “has acknowledged that there may be an effect on broadband take-up should ISPs pass on the full cost of the process. This is regrettable, but needs to be balanced against the wider benefit to the UK’s digital economy.”

Clip of the Day

Tim Berners-Lee: The next Web of open, linked data


Credit: TinyOgg

MSBBC Cracked, Canadian Government Cracked, Microsoft Blames Users, and .NET-based Aviation System Crashes

Posted in Microsoft, Servers, Windows at 2:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When system crashes can lead to plane crashes

Aeroplane

Summary: Another atrocious week for Microsoft’s security and reliability record

“Thanks to Windows’ built-in insecurity, its easy to create huge Windows botnets,” wrote the honourable SJVN a few days ago. It is widely recognised that Microsoft is largely responsible for many of Windows’ security failings, but Microsoft pressures journalists not to call out Windows using techniques that we covered here before.

MSBBC’s music sites have just been cracked and they turned hostile towards site visitors who use Windows. As the report puts it, “other top name insecurity vendors like Sophos, McAfee and even Microsoft’s anti-virus tools didn’t register the hack at all. That is an appalling detection rate from both free and paid-for anti-virus kits and, as of yesterday, Websense reckoned the anti-virus toolkits were still vulnerable.” This is just a Windows problem and someone who informed us that the Canadian government had just been cracked too says that 99% of the systems there run Windows (we cannot verify this claim, but if anyone can, please leave a comment).

It is unclear whether the attackers managed to compromise other departmental computer networks, including those that contain Canadians’ sensitive personal information such as tax and health records.

Once the attack was detected, government cybersecurity officials immediately shut down all internet access in both departments in an attempt to stop stolen information from being sent back to the hackers over the net.

It is obvious what’s happening here. A suicidal dependence on poor systems (such as Windows) is a crucial factor that can easily affect national security or suspend emergency services like dispatch of ambulances. The latter new example speaks of Windows viruses leading to a likely loss of lives (although disruption to service is denied by the face-saving officials). What is Microsoft’s response to all of this? As we noted yesterday, the company’s lobbyist from the government [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13] is trying to blame the users and there are strong responses to it again, such as:

Microsoft Vice President Scott Charney, a longtime advocate of a coordinated approach to cybersecurity, describes a vision of Internet health:

“We broke Windows. It’s your problem now.”

At least, that’s how I interpret his comments. Charney wants to have users pass a kind of “health test” for their computer before they can use web services.

“Security is not a problem that can be addressed fully by individual consumers, or even individual companies or governments. That is what led to the development of my public health model proposal, which calls for collective defense against cyber threats,” he said.

Charney uses a public health model to support his new idea. Basically, in order to access web services (say, your bank – or cloud services, maybe even social networking like Facebook) you first need to let the provider run their virus check on your computer. Intrusive? I think so. Would you let a web site run their code (virus scan) on your machine before you are allowed to use their web application? I think I smell more malware coming.

Charney’s appalling remarks are also mentioned by Lia Timson at ITWire and Lia’s colleague Sam Varghese, who writes:

Passing the buck is a game at which Microsoft is adept. In the computer security industry, one needs to have tons of chutzpah to hold others responsible for one’s own security stuff-ups.

The good folk at Redmond possess this quality in spades.

Probably the best example of chutzpah that I can recall came from a young Bill Gates many years ago when the company was getting off the starting blocks. As Paul Allen, the other co-founder, had also taken up a job as head of software at MITs, the maker of the Altair, Gates argued that since he was working for Microsoft only and Allen was dividing his time, he (Gates) should have 64 percent of the founders’ shares and Allen should only get 36 percent.

Shortly after the division was done this way, young Bill went to MITs founder Ed Roberts and got a job there as well, for $US10 an hour. Microsoft’s culture has always been defined by Gates.

Scott Charney’s comments at the ongoing RSA conference are a good example of the blithe manner in which Microsoft tries to force the rest of the world to carry the can for the abysmal security of its products.

The monoculture otherwise known as Windows is in the main responsible for the plethora of viruses, worms, malware, scumware and other such $wares that plague the internet. DDoS attacks come, more often than not, from armies of Windows machines grouped in a botnet.

Sure, there are other operating systems involved too but they are in a minority. A very small minority. Windows is the main problem and everyone, his/her dog, his/her cat and his/her goldfish is aware of that.

Dr. Glyn Moody links to the article “Microsoft has a change of heart on how to keep Internet safe” and he adds: “or how about if Microsoft just wrote some decent code?”

“Will Virgin do the same thing as LSE following this daunting incident?”Yes, journalists too recognise that this is Microsoft’s fault, as stated at the beginning. The gullible, weak ones just bend to Microsoft PR agents and deceive the public about it. These are the sorts of people who do the scaremongering regarding “cyber war” so that companies like Microsoft and suppressive regimes can find good excuses for taking more control over people’s computers, spying on PCs of Windows users for example.

There is another timely example of the failed design of Microsoft software. It’s a major .NET failure just like the ones in LSE (a former Microsoft poster child). Not so long ago it turned out that a plane crash had been caused by Windows malware (with Microsoft boosters blaming IBM in vain [1, 2]) and amid other plane crashes and downtimes in airports [1, 2] it became evident that Microsoft belongs nowhere near aviation. Virgin made the mistake of going with Microsoft and watch what happens:

This latest computer crash, which looks to be as serious as the 2010 fiasco, will place more question marks around the integrity and robustness of the .NET based Navitaire New Skies system which claims to be able to handle load spikes and scale easily as passenger volumes increase.

The crash also raises questions about the level of redundancy built into Navitaire, which is supposed to provide back-up systems in the event of failure.

Will Virgin do the same thing as LSE following this daunting incident?

Nicolas Sarkozy ‘Pulls a Kissinger’ on Steve Ballmer

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Steve Ballmer at 11:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bush and Sarkozy
Nicolas Sarkozy with Laura Bush

Summary: French president Sarkozy associates himself with a Microsoft thug by giving him a medal

“PULLING a Kissinger” is giving someone an award rather than a deserved jail sentence. This is not a political site, but just to give people a taste of what’s happening here, the wording is about giving respect to war criminals such as Henry Kissinger (foreign policy person), who once said: “Military men are dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns for foreign policy.” In the World Affairs Council Press Conference (Regent Beverly Wilshire Hotel, April 19th 1994) he said: “The illegal we do immediately. The unconstitutional takes a little longer. [...] cannot happen without U.S. participation, as we are the most significant single component. Yes, there will be a New World Order, and it will force the United States to change its perceptions.”

On another occasion he said: “Today, America would be outraged if UN troops entered Los Angeles to restore order. Tomorrow they will be grateful! This is especially true if they were told that there was an outside threat from beyond, whether real or promulgated, that threatened our very existence. It is then that all people of the world will plead to deliver them from this evil. The one thing every man fears is the unknown. When presented with this scenario, individual rights will be willingly relinquished for the guarantee of their well-being granted to them by the world government.” Kissinger is probably better known for his role alongside Nixon and all the carpet-bombing of innocent civilians.

But anyway, for the uninitiated we have this wiki page about Nicolas Sarkozy. As a quick recap, Mr. Sarkozy was vacationing in the houses of Microsoft executives, recently posing to the cameras with Bill Gates (the article is about François Fillon and Microsoft), and also helping OOXML. He seems to be very deep inside the pockets of the ‘Microsoft family’, which leads him to causing damage to many French companies such as Archos (e.g. with Android copyright tax, the infamous “you’re definitely a pirate” tax). One reader passed us the following message from Microsoft Europe, which says: “French President Nicolas Sarkozy has awarded Steve Ballmer for Microsoft’s impact on French economy” (the accompanying link is to a French page).

France has recently done a lot of things that are jaw-dropping and at the same time directly beneficial to Microsoft. The remarks from François Fillon are telling. “French prez sticks pin in Steve Ballmer,” says this new article from The Register:

French president Nicholas Sarkozy delivered a profound judgement on Microsoft yesterday, declaring that the company personifies the values of France and Europe.

While such a declaration would quicken the heart of US artists and filmmakers, it might not be the sort of endorsement that a nakedly capitalist, (sometimes) bleeding edge US firm would welcome.

Sarkozy made his declaration as he adorned Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer with the Legion D’Honneur, a knightly order originated by Napoleon.

Glyn Moody said they are “made for each other” and tagged it “authoritarianism”. The Napoleonic origin is fitting. Just like Kissinger, here we have merciless imperialists to whom huge numbers of casualties don’t mean a thing (Microsoft harmed a lot of French companies). Sarkozy is associating himself with some bad neighbourhood.

“I think he [Bill Gates] has a Napoleonic concept of himself and his company, an arrogance that derives from power and unalloyed success, with no leavening hard experience, no reverses [...] They don’t act like grown-ups!”

Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson

Proprietary Software Turns Society Against Itself

Posted in Asia, Microsoft at 11:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Repressed

Summary: Proprietary software — and Microsoft’s software being a notable example — is being used to marginalise and increase hostility within society, even put in prison those who challenge misuse of power

FOLLOWING the Russian spin [1, 2, 3] which resembles events in countries like Kyrgyzstan [1, 2], there has been a lot of debate about Microsoft’s role in crushing activists and supporting suppressive regimes. In fact, Microsoft’s Russian spin (pretending to help the very people whom it is crushing) can still be found in this new incomplete report. To quote the better parts:

Noting that legitimate antipiracy laws can be abused in pursuit of illegitimate ends, today’s report provides a set of best practices for tech companies that operate in environments where the rule of law is weak and governments use legitimate antipiracy law as a tool to actively suppress civil society. It also details the role U.S. officials should play in supporting companies like Microsoft in their efforts to address the threat of selective enforcement.

This report is a bit of a whitewash. It does not quite mention the option of just dumping Microsoft software for the use of Free/libre software and it seems to be giving Microsoft credit for exactly what it should be slammed for; Microsoft assisted the regime and only when the PR damage (backlash) became considerable enough, it started to pretend to take the other side. But a better illustration of the motion to crush people using proprietary software is the following news about SIIA’s bribes (we wrote about SIIA in [1, 2]), which divide people and make them enemies of one another:

In 2010, SIIA’s Corporate Anti-Piracy program paid out 16 rewards totaling $57,500.

Proprietary software breeds hostility and distrust. It gives more power to those who already have power. It widens gaps in society and centralises power in the hands of a few, i.e. tyranny. Why do some people accept it?

Vista Phony 7 a Disaster to Developers, Verizon Gives It Thumbs Down

Posted in Microsoft, Windows at 10:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Exasperation

Summary: The new smartphone platform from Microsoft is proving to be a disaster with developers, carriers, and manufacturers

DESPITE the noise from NoWin [1, 2, 3, 4], Vista Phony 7 is going nowhere fast. Motorola is dumping Windows upon the arrival of Vista Phony 7 and Verizon too has been telling people publicly that it has no real interest in Vista Phony 7. Microsoft booster Preston Gralla recognises this brutal reality and developers too soon realise that they wasted their time developing for Vista Phony 7:

Here on TNWmicrosoft we wrote a post that was called “Top Windows Phone 7 apps are in the six figure club,” touting surprisingly high sales numbers for the top apps in the WP7 marketplace. We got parts of it dead wrong.

We got wind that some of the numbers might that we reported might be incorrect when the developer of an app called Krashlander, which according to our source had been downloaded around 16,000 times, told us that had only sold around 3,000 copies. We got it immediately. Whoever had compiled the data had counted trial downloads as sales.

Always count on Microsoft et al. for lies and spin. These numbers are fake just like the applications count (ports really), which includes utter, outrageous lies.

Microsoft has possibly spent billions of dollars on Vista Phony 7 (including virtually buying Nokia). What a total waste of money it has been given that not even a million phones have been sold. The market share of Vista Phony 7 must be well under 1%, maybe around 0.1%. That’s pathetic.

Microsoft Boosters Want Apple Derailed for Antitrust Violations

Posted in Antitrust, Apple, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 10:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Longtime proponents of Microsoft still want Apple crushed, so the advice for Apple ought to be behavioural reform

A COMMON enemy of Linux and Microsoft would have to be Apple, which is a company whose value climbed a lot as its anti-competitive practices grew. Microsoft's booster Joe Wilcox is just one of the latest people calling for antitrust action; there are other Microsoft-boosting sites that do the same thing and it has been going on for years really.

Apple is going through some managerial changes these days and Techrights hopes that Apple will decide that sharing and collaboration are better than exclusion and restriction. Apple’s leader may never be the same as he has been since the company saw a reconnaissance. There’s a new article whose headline is: “Steve Jobs receiving cancer treatment in hospital. May be terminal.”

It has been confirmed today that Steve Jobs is receiving treatment for cancer in the Stanford Cancer Center in Palo Alto, California. RadarOnine reported today that it’s the same Clinic where Hollywood Actor the Late Patrick Swayze was undergoing chemotherapy for pancreatic cancer in April 2009.

There has been no formal confirmation of what type of cancer Jobs is being treated for or if he is being treated at all for cancer from the Apple spokes team. Jobs was not forthcoming about the reason he took a medical leave of absence.

The goal of Techrights is not to destroy Apple (or Novell for that matter) but to reform its behaviour through awareness. Can a ‘new Apple’ be reborn with an identity that embraces Linux and Free software like Google does to a degree?

Nexus

Links 17/2/2011: London Stock Exchange Reports, Mageia and Firefox 5 Previews

Posted in News Roundup at 3:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • We want more Linux presentations inside shopping centers!

    Last october I wrote about the first Italian presentation of Free Software inside a supermarket chain because it looked to me, and still looks, a wonderful idea that should find many followers worldwide, since it proves that Free Software isn’t a boring topic best left to software professionals.

    When I published the Italian version of that article I got some congratulation and this critique from Italy, born out of the fact that the article explains how and why Coop (the supermarket chain) promoted Gnu/Linux even if (as of october 2010) they didn’t use it internally or sell computers with Gnu/Linux preinstalled…

  • Read Kindle books on your Linux PC

    Andrei Pushkin at blogkindle.com has put together a short tutorial on how to get the Kindle for PC app running on his Ubuntu operating system. The solution, which you can probably guess if you’ve spent any time with Ubuntu or other Linux OSes, is to use Wine 1.3 or higher, which is a new enough version that you have to install it through a terminal window and not the software repository.

  • Linux for Mobile Users

    The smart mobile user shouldn’t overlook Linux. The question is, which distro should you pick? You’ll get a different answer depending who you ask.

    You’ll probably be pointed in the direction of Arch for performance, Debian for stability and Ubuntu if you want easy access to the biggest collection of apps. If that’s not enough choice to make your head spin, Slackware has its fans too – particularly among people who use older laptops.

  • 5 Reasons why kids should use Linux
  • Desktop

    • 7 Reasons to Use the Ubuntu Linux Operating System

      Everyone has heard of Windows and OSX. But what about the safe, secure, and open source operating system called Ubuntu Linux?

      People may have heard of this one, but they may have also heard that no programs run on it, it’s old or outdated (which is not true), and it’s hard to
      use.

      Well these five reasons should put your worries at ease, and maybe even convert you.

      [...]

      I highly recommend it.

  • Server

    • Watson vs Carbon Life Forms (Day 1)

      While I am amazed at how well he can assimilate knowledge, I am also amazed at how much knowledge he holds. There is no Internet connection. The range of topics was quite vast from Beatles songs, to cough, cough, a reference to Grendel and Beowulf (the literary version).

    • London Stock Exchange: The road to Linux

      The London Stock Exchange’s move to Novell SUSE Linux based systems and a new matching engine written in C++ – set live on its main market on 14 February 2011 – was a major decision taken shortly after the appointment of a new chief executive two years ago. The systems replace a Microsoft .Net setup, with programs written in C# and running on Microsoft Windows Server and SQL Server.

    • London Stock Exchange tackles closing auction system problem

      The London Stock Exchange has taken steps to resolve a system problem that occurred at 4.30pm yesterday (Tuesday), which saw a delay to the start of the closing auction and knocked out automatic trades during a 42 second period.

    • Freedom Box: Freeing the Internet one Server at a time

      Free software isn’t about free services or beer, it’s about intellectual freedom. As recent episodes such as censorship in China, the Egyptian government turning off the Internet, and Facebook’s constant spying, have shown, freedom and privacy on the Internet are under constant assault. Now Eben Moglen, law professor at Columbia University and renowned free software legal expert, has proposed a way to combine free software with the original peer-to-peer (P2P) design of the Internet to liberate users from the control of governments and big brother-like companies: Freedom Box.

  • Kernel Space

    • Atheros wifi free software laptops

      I looked for an Atheros wifi free software laptop for a long time without finding anything that was still in production.

    • Graphics Stack

      • What NVIDIA’s Linux Customers Want

        Last week when talking about NVIDIA looking to expand its Linux team (hire more engineers), I asked what else NVIDIA Linux customers wanted that already wasn’t offered by the proprietary driver for Linux / BSD / Solaris operating systems. Aside from the obvious one, of many desktop users wanting NVIDIA to support some sort of an open-source strategy, other expressed views are listed below.

      • Intel Graphics On Linux Still Behind Windows, With Sandy Bridge
  • Applications

    • LCA: Lessons from 30 years of Sendmail

      The Sendmail mail transfer agent tends to be one of those programs that one either loves or hates. Both its supporters and its detractors will agree, though, that Sendmail played a crucial role in the development of electronic mail before, during, and after the explosion of the Internet. Sendmail creator Eric Allman took a trip to Brisbane to talk to the LCA 2011 about the history of this project. Sendmail is, he said, 30 years old now; in those three decades it has thrived without corporate support, changed the world, and thrived in a world which was changing rapidly around it.

    • BookmarkBridge Looking Kind of Rickety

      Installing beta versions of software is usually less of a risk with open source apps than with commercial third-party apps. BookmarkBridge has stagnated with version 0.76 beta. It also is not uncommon to find plenty of beta applications distributed through Linux distro repositories. I found that if an app is available through a repository, it will work as described.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Purity

        A long time ago, on the old FreeGameDev forum, I heard of Purity; an original game based on the idTech3 engine.
        Recently, I was wondering what the project had become, and with the help of a few people on the irc channel, we managed to find the website, unfortunately, it appears the development stopped two years ago.
        But the game is pretty cool, let me explain you what makes it interesting:
        In Purity, there are no enemies! The enemy is the map, and you have to get you to the end.

  • Desktop Environments

    • WTF Desktop Environments: GNOME, KDE And More Explained

      You can customise nearly every last inch of your Linux installation to fit your liking, and it starts with choosing the right desktop environment. Whether you’re a Linux beginner or you’re just looking for a new interface, here’s an overview of how desktop environments work and how to pick the right one for you.

      Windows and Mac OS X come with pretty specific graphical interfaces (you know, the windows, the skin, the system toolbars, etc.) that aren’t really built for customisation. With Linux, you can fully customise not only how your desktop looks, but even its functionality, and the settings available in its preferences. If you’re a beginning Linux user, you may have heard of popular desktop environments like GNOME, KDE, XFCE, Openbox, or others — but what do they all mean? Here, we’ll discuss what desktop environments are, and how to try new ones out on your existing Linux installation.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Geotag Photos with Open GPS Tracker and digiKam

        You don’t need a fancy camera with a built-in GPS receiver to geotag your photos. An Android device with the Open GPS Tracker app and digiKam can do the job just fine. The app lets you track your route and save it as a GPX file which you can then use to geocorrelate your photos in digiKam.

    • GNOME Desktop

  • Distributions

    • FOSDEM 2011: building distro bridges

      FOSDEM. I finally got to the “blog about it” todo I took from there. I have to talk about the distribution collaboration panel discussion Jared Smith (Fedora Project Lead), Stefano Zacchirol (Debian Project Lead) and myself led on Sunday (video here). We discussed what barriers there are to cross-distro collaboration and what to do against them.

    • Reviews

      • Comparing CTK Arch Live and ArchBang

        Verdict
        1. ArchBang
        It’s more mature and gave me less trouble, from the boot process to recognizing the network to letting me do things like take screenshots and gauge RAM usage for this review. That said, the disabling of repositories by default is a little annoying.
        2. CTKArchLive
        It’s a younger project, to be sure, and it does things its own way rather than trying to emulate a particular project, but the fairly serious boot and network problems relegate it to runner-up.

    • New Releases

      • Berry 1.07
      • SystemRescueCd 2.0.1
      • 2/15/2011: Parted Magic 5.10

        It seems like it’s been longer than a month, but it’s time for a new release. The most notable changes are the Linux 2.6.37 Kernel, GParted 0.8.0, and the move back to Firefox as the default web browser.

      • GhostBSD 2.0 Beta Release

        We the developing team of GhostBSD would like to announce the release of GhostBSD 2.0 x64 beta. This Flavor is only a live cd as of the moment. There are great improvements on the look, feel and the speed of this release. Some of the things that were done to the new release was our new logo, bug fixes, New live cd file system, and improvements to GDM where there is no more white screens during booting. GhostBSD 2.0 is base on freebsd 8.2.On GhostBSD 2.0 you will see Gnome 2.32, Rhythmbox 0.12.8_3, Pidgin 2.7.7, Firefox 3.6, Thunderbird 3.0.11.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • PCLinuxOS 2011 KDE: A Review and Retrospective

        PCLinuxOS is a great distro for individuals who favor rolling updates, performance, and a dedicated community. If you’re a first-time Linux user or if you favor aesthetics over technological prowess, better choices are available.

      • Mageia Alpha 1 Released: Visual Preview

        Mandriva fans and users have a reason to cheer and keep trust in the system they love, as an Avatar of Mandriva is taking shape. Mageia, the fork of Mandriva, has hit the alpha 1 version. The version is only meant for developers and not for ordinary users as it is “alpha” and not ready for use. However, the version does promise that we will be seeing a final stable release in June as Romain stated in an exclusive interview with Muktware.

      • This is MAGEIA!

        That’s the installation: a real piece of cake.

      • Mandriva Linux 2011 Alpha 1: A Quick Peek

        Hey! Did you notice the penguins? I like them! The black and blue pattern is reminiscent of my Mepis 8.0 wallpaper (my favorite).

    • Debian Family

      • Debian 6 Offers Updated Applications, Few Rough Spots

        Debian 6 is also available in a LiveCD version, similar to what other Linux distributions offer, which enables users first to try out the operating system before installing it on their hard drives.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Ubuntu Increasing Its Diversity

          In a blog post, Bacon highlights some key points that show the dedication of Canonical and the Ubuntu Project about combating the issue of so few women participating in Open Source events and communities. Those highlights include: adoption of an anti-harassment policy, a page on the Ubuntu Women site for UDS, UDS stories page, as well as the UW teams discussing how to provide support for this diversity effort.

        • A Kernel By Any Other Name
        • Canonical Re-licenses Ubuntu Wiki to CC BY-SA

          Elizabeth Krumbach on behalf of the Ubuntu Community Council announced in an email to various mailing lists, and posted on the Ubuntu Fridge that the licensing for the Ubuntu wiki will be CC-BY-SA and barring a “substantial number of objections” this change should take place in approximately one month.

        • DanRabbit on the Ubuntu One Desktop

          Hey Ubuntu One and Design fans! This is my first post here, and I have to say I feel priveledged to be able to write to you all. Recently I’ve been working with the Ubuntu One team on the desktop syncing apps, and trying to give them some special attention. I feel like these apps have the potential to be such an important part of not only the Ubuntu experience, but also the experience of users who may not have converted over to Ubuntu yet.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Nokia/MeeGo/Maemo

        • Dear Nokia We Know You are Confused- Just Don’t Try Confusing Us

          The argument put forward by Steven Elop, the Microsoft shareholder turned Nokia CEO, is that going with Android would have made them just one more OEM with little chance of differentiation…fragmentation anyone? But by choosing Microsoft’s Windows Phone 7 he argued, would help create a third force in a two horse race, referring to Apples iOS and Google’s Android. I’m assuming all that Elop sees is what he’s telling us.

        • The Nokia N900- Long Live the Device

          Then there is the Voip integration on the device. At the time of the release, it really was ahead of the it’s time. Simply enter your Skype and Google Talk credentials and you have the two Voip networks integrated into your phone calling function.

      • Android

        • Google to merge smartphone and tablet versions of Android

          Google has promised Android updates will arrive every six months, with the next full version bringing together the best of the smartphone and tablet editions.

          The Android roadmap was laid out by Google’s executive chairman and former CEO Eric Schmidt, who was delivering a keynote speech at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

          Regarding the follow up to Gingerbread (version 2.3 of Android) and the tablet-focused Honeycomb (version 3), Schmidt said: “you can imagine the follow up will start with an I, be named after dessert, and will combine these two.” That version is expected to be called “ice-cream sandwich”.

        • Motorola’s 3LM Acquisition is Focused on Android in the Enterprise

          However, a startup company run by a group of ex-Google employees, dubbed Three Laws Mobility (3LM), has its eyes squarely fixed on the market for security software on Android smartphones, which could boost Android’s presence in the enterprise market.

        • GetJar Snags $25 Million As It Looks to Ride Android Growth

          Independent mobile app store GetJar announced it has grabbed $25 million in Series C funding as it looks to become the premier open Android market. The San Mateo, Calif.-based start-up’s latest round was led by Tiger Global Management, and Accel Partners, which participated in earlier rounds, will also contribute. The latest investment brings GetJar’s total funding to $42 million.

        • Mozilla: Firefox 4 for Android to Ship in a Few Weeks

          The Mozilla Foundation expects to release the final code for the Firefox 4 browser for Android mobile devices in a few weeks, with one more beta version to be released in the next week or so.

          The latest version of the mobile browser has a sync feature that allows users to replicate information contained in the desktop version of the browser on their Android device, including bookmarks, saved passwords, open tabs and browsing history, said Jay Sullivan, vice president of products for Mozilla, during an interview at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona on Tuesday.

        • The dual-core ‘phone’ that runs Android and Ubuntu

          There’s more than enough glitz and smartphone glamour at Mobile World Congress to keep me writing previews well into next week, but when I dropped in at the ARM stand, it was something a little unusual that drew my attention.

          On the edge of a narrow bench sat a rattly-looking development unit – the kind of device phone and chip makers use to test hardware before squeezing it into the shiny, sleek chassis I’ve seen so many times over the past three days. But that’s not the interesting part: ARM was using it to demonstrate the benefits of multicore mobile processors, the sort so many of the new devices this year are set to employ.

        • Acer shows laptop lid look tablet

          Wireless connectivity? 2.4GHz 802.11n W-Fi and Bluetooth 2.1 – it’s “upgradeable” to 3.0, Acer said. And some models will incorporate quad-band HSPA 3G.

          There’s a gigabyte of Ram on board, plus a choice of 16GB or 32GB storage, to which you can add Micro SD cards of up to 64GB capacity.

    • Tablets

      • Tablet wars: Those with the most and best apps win

        Personally, I think the market will end up supporting two top contenders: the iPad and the best tablet that runs Android 3+. Then there will be a strong #3, but with far less marketshare than the top two. Though it is really too early to make a fact-based prediction, I would not be surprised if that #3 eventually was a WebOS tablet from HP.

        Samsung may be #4, but after that all other contenders will have share lost in the error term. That is, something, but so small that the top contenders’ share and revenue will dwarf it. Put yet another way, share so small that executives at the companies will ask themselves why exactly they are in the market at all. I think Microsoft will not be a significant player here.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Dress Up Your Documents with Free Graphics Tools and Resources

    If you think back to what you were doing with documents 10 years ago, and then think about what you’re doing today, odds are that you work with graphics and multimedia much more than you ever did before. Within the world of open source, there are not only outstanding free applications that can improve your experience in these areas, but there are many free guides and tutorials to get you going with them. In this post, you’ll find collected resources for sprucing up your documents. Spend some time with these, and you’ll collect some rich dividends.

  • Events

    • Linux Foundation announces the Android Builders Summit

      Everyone and their brother seems to be coming out with some kind of Android powered doohickey. This is generating a fair amount of fatigue in consumers, as well as developers, as they grapple with the differing features in each vendor’s Android product. The Linux Foundation hopes to help remedy some of this with their upcoming Android Builders Summit, April 13-14 in San Francisco. This isn’t some Android Users Group potluck, but rather “an intimate forum for collaboration at the systems level and discussion of core issues and opportunities when designing Android devices.”

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 4 in March, A First Look At Firefox 5

        The elimination of the remaining bugs in Firefox 4 isn’t proceeding as fast as Mozilla would like and it appears that the release of the browser has shifter one more time. The RC is now targeted for a finalization on February 25, while the final version of the browser is now targeted for sometime in March. First mockups hint to dramatic UI changes with a site-specific browser that integrates Apps within tabs.

      • Mozilla Infographic Compares Firefox And Internet Explorer

        Is Internet Explorer 9 a modern web browser, and how does it compare to Firefox 4. Those are the two questions that Mozilla’s Paul Rouget tries to answer with an infographic and a blog post. The infographic looks at the technical side of things, web compatibility, platform support and hardware acceleration to name a few. All show that Firefox 4, and sometimes even Firefox 3.5 or 3.6, do better than Internet Explorer 9.

      • First look at Firefox 5

        Firefox 4 isn’t even out of beta yet, but that doesn’t stop the UI team from thinking about Firefox 5.

        ConcievablyTech uncovered mock-ups posted by the Mozilla UI team that show the possible UI for Firefox 5.

  • Mono

    • Nine Current Flame Wars in Open Source

      Mono is a FOSS implementation of Microsoft’s .NET Framework. Although MONO is FOSS in itself, Mono is dependent on resources that Microsoft has not released for general use, and many worry that it might become the basis for a patent infringement case. Supporters counter that Mono is a first rate development platform, and suggest that the current licenses on .NET resources are adequate guarantees for their safe use.

      Ordinarily, such a geeky flame war would never attract popular interest. But the debate is especially bitter because of the widespread distrust of Microsoft in the FOSS community. To further complicate matters, Miguel de Icaza, the founder of Mono and its chief public representative, is outspoken even by FOSS standards, and many of the criticisms of Mono become personal attacks on him.

      Currently, the debate is relatively quiet. However, the issue never quite goes away if you search the blogs, and is certain to flare up again. It always does.

    • Canonical bid to profit from Mono app fails

      Burt wrote on his blog that Canonical approached the Rhythmbox developers as it was concerned that the Amazon MP3 link would affect its earnings from its own Ubuntu One music store.

      Canonical proposed that when it used Rhythmbox it would disable the Amazon store code by default – it could be re-enabled with a few easy steps – and leave the affiliate code unchanged.

      A second option offered, according to Burt, was to leave things as they are but change the affiliate code so that 75 percent of the affiliate’s fee would go to Canonical and 25 percent to GNOME.

      The Banshee developers accepted the first option, which means that Canonical will make no money out of using Banshee.

      “As maintainers of the Banshee project, we have opted unanimously to decline Canonical’s revenue sharing proposal, so that our users who choose the Amazon store will continue supporting GNOME to the fullest extent,” Burt wrote. “The GNOME Foundation’s Board of Directors supports this decision.”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Money gone, people gone: Oracle’s open-source blowback

      Now, Oracle has a growing reason to dislike the projects themselves and it’s got everything to do with the two things Oracle values most: money and control.

    • Open office dilemma: OpenOffice.org vs. LibreOffice

      OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice each consists of six applications, called Writer, Calc, Impress, Draw, Base, and Math in both suites. The modules provide word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, business graphics, database management, and formula editing, respectively.

      Both suites are available for Windows, Linux, and Mac OS X (Intel and PowerPC). You can also get OpenOffice.org for Solaris (Sparc and Intel).

    • Novell’s Michael Meeks talks LibreOffice 3.3, The Document Foundation & Oracle

      Enter the Document Foundation. As an aspiring non-profit organisation, the Document Foundation has already spent six months helping to bring new contributors and new code to OpenOffice, which the Foundation has essentially forked and renamed LibreOffice. From making word count actually work, to repairing bugs that caused the number 1,000,000 to be ignored entirely in certain situations, those six months have already made a huge difference to the project.

  • CMS

    • Joomla vs. Drupal: An open source CMS shootout

      Before we begin, it should be noted that both Joomla and Drupal keep getting updated — e.g., Joomla 1.6 was released January 10, 2011, and Drupal 7 on January 5, 2011 — and get more add-on modules. This is a good thing, obviously. But it also means that the opinions expressed in this article may become outdated or invalidated. As always.

  • Business

  • Openness/Sharing

    • The open source revolution

      Open source is basically a model for innovation driven not by intellectual protectionism but by cooperative competition toward a common, continuously expanding goal. On the battlefield of software technology, the big open source names are familiar even to non-tech savvy users: Mozilla (makers of Firefox and Thunderbird), Wikipedia, WordPress, and Linux are all titans on par with their proprietary counterparts. Most people are probably not aware that social media services like Facebook have been built from open source building blocks such as PHP and MySQL. Programmers and developers have produced the technologies that power our modern lives because those building blocks are readily available through distributed code, APIs, and open languages. At its core, open source means we do not have to reinvent the wheel in order to build a better car.

      The philosophy behind open source extends beyond arguments for efficiency and quality. There is a shared understanding among open source converts and evangelists that it ultimately improves the world. Sharing code and data is only the grease that makes the machine work. The fuel is the collective understanding among the open source community that the combined effort of individual contributors is far greater that the sum of its parts.

Leftovers

  • TOM THE DANCING BUG: Judge Scalia Spans the Time/Space Continuum!
  • Case Study: Leah Day Brings Free To The Quilting World

    It’s Connect With Fans + Reason To Buy in action.

  • Innovation Far Removed From the Lab

    Since the Austrian economist Joseph A. Schumpeter published “The Theory of Economic Development” in 1934, economists and governments have assumed that the industrial and business sectors are where ideas for products originate. A complex net of laws and policies, from intellectual property rights to producer subsidies and tax benefits, have flowed from this basic assumption.

  • CPAC hears plan to deny citizenship to Americans born to foreigners

    Presenting at the right-wing love-in CPAC, cuddly Kris Kobach (architect of Arizona’s racist “papers, please” law) revealed his plan for getting around the pesky Constitutional guarantee of citizenship for people born in the USA — he’s going to get state legislatures to deny “state citizenship” to kids born to foreigners. Presumably this means that they wouldn’t be issued birth certificates and wouldn’t be entitled to attend school, etc. Kobach was joined by numerous birther loonies who, um, think that states should provide special super-birth-certificates attesting to the citizenship of one particular American.

  • Customer Bites Retailer? That’s the Argument

    THE idea for this week’s episode comes from Scott Wainner, the founder and chief executive of ResellerRatings, a Web site that allows consumers to rate products and retailers. Mr. Wainner wrote to the Haggler to recount the tale of a shopper who posted a negative review of a company called Full House Appliances, an online appliance seller in Washington State.

  • Parents sue Disney, say son suffered ‘severe burns’ from nacho cheese

    os-disney-lawsuit-child-burned-cheese20110210
    San Diego parents who say their young son suffered “severe burns” at the hands of scalding hot nacho cheese served to them during a family vacation have filed suit against Walt Disney Parks and Resorts, records show.

    In their suit, filed in California district court on Wednesday, parents Michael and Maria Harris said they were eating dinner at Disney World while on vacation in March when the cheese was spilled on their son’s face.

  • Science

    • Awesome DIY Electric Bikes Defy Laws, Good Sense

      Building your own electric bike has many advantages over buying one. It’s cheaper: you can pick up parts from scrapyards or buy cheap off-the-shelf motors, and even a purpose-made conversion kit can be had for $400, a lot less than buying a new electric bike.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • What we still don’t know about Lasik

      That’s all anyone ever wants to know these days: How my eyes are doing after my collision with Lasik almost three years ago. Are they still dry? Do they still hurt when exposed to sunlight? Is my vision still blurred? And what about glasses — am I still wearing them?

      The answer: Yes, yes, yes and yes. Emphatically, resoundingly, blindingly yes. My eyes sting. They burn. I look at neon signs and the colors bleed into a fluorescent Rorschach test. I have difficulty deciphering black lettering on white boards; I have personally helped elevate the stock of Allergan, which manufactures Refresh Plus, the drops that allegedly help dry eye.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Hillary Clinton’s speech: Shades of hypocrisy on internet freedom

      Hillary Clinton is back, lecturing the world on internet freedom, but thirteen months after her original speech on the topic, the dimension of the debate has changed. Back then she targeted the Chinese, whom she could confidently and credibly criticise in the wake of attacks on Google.

      Last year, the secretary of state made her position clear, warning that “countries that restrict free access to information or violate the basic rights of internet users risk walling themselves off from the progress of the next century” – a pointed criticism of China’s ‘great firewall’ approach to a technology that many previously thought inherently democratising.

      Yet after the WikiLeaks affair it is harder for the United States to so readily moralise. It is only two months ago that WikiLeaks saw its US domain name briefly taken away. Julian Assange’s site was also stripped of its ability to raise money via PayPal, MasterCard and Visa.

    • Two TSA Agents Stole Over $160,000 From Checked Luggage

      n yet another bad look for the TSA, two agents at New York’s JFK Airport ‘fessed up to pilfering $160,000 from passenger bags.

    • Bahrain: Police Attack Sleeping Protesters
    • Authorities Search and Copy U.S. Journalist’s Notes, Computer and Cameras After Returning from Haiti

      Independent journalist Brandon Jourdan recently returned from Haiti after being on assignment documenting the rebuilding of schools in the earthquake-devastated country. However, when he returned to the United States, he was immediately detained after deboarding the plane by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents. He was questioned about his travels and had all of his documents, computer, phone and camera flash drives searched and copied. This is the seventh time Jourdan says he has been subjected to lengthy searches in five years, and has been told by officials that he is “on a list.”

    • Why can felons buy guns at a gunshow without a background check?

      I like our former great U.S. Senator in Wisconsin, Russ Feingold, am a supporter of the 2nd Amendment giving an individual right to bear arms. This is one of the few issues that I disagree with the majority of those on the left. The Bill of Rights was written for a broad view of individual liberty, not a narrow one. I would be remised if I ignored its’ protections when it came to the 2nd Amendment, because the left when it comes to the Constitution are for a broad view of liberty and rights, while conservatives are usually for a narrow view. But, like libel/slander laws when it comes to freedom of speech, it isn’t of course absolute. Violent felons should not have guns. Not much argument from many Americans on that one. The problem is when it comes to ensuring that they don’t have the ability to acquire firearms. We can’t stop all of them from getting guns, but we sure can make it darn hard that they do so with ease.

    • St. Louis police detail January’s ABB plant shooting spree

      St. Louis police made the fullest accounting yet this morning of a shooting rampage in which an employee of ABB, Inc., killed three co-workers and wounded five at the north side electric transformer plant last Jan. 7.

      Among the details explained by Capt. Michael Sack of the homicide unit:

      • The attacker, Timothy Hendron, 51, bought two of the four weapons he used – an AK-47 rifle and 12-gauge shotgun – the day before the spree.

    • Sticklers for Procedure

      It would be difficult to cite a more shameful episode in the history of America’s criminal justice system than the pedophilia panic of the 1980s and ’90s. Police, prosecutors, and social workers all over the country were overcome by hysteria about the supposed proliferation of ritual sex abuse, a fear fed by a new movement of quack, Christian fundamentalist psychologists. Although dozens of convictions have been overturned, we are nowhere near uncovering all the damage wrought by this panic. The case of Nancy Smith and Joseph Allen shows how the same criminal justice system that rushed to convict innocent people can take decades to recognize and correct its mistakes.

    • What Islamist Terrorist Threat?

      Know thy enemy is an ancient principle of warfare. And if America had heeded it, it might have refrained from a full-scale “war” on terrorism whose price tag is touching $2 trillion. That’s because the Islamist enemy it is confronting is not some hyper-power capable of inflicting existential—or even grave—harm. It is, rather, a rag-tag band of peasants whose malevolent ambitions are far beyond the capacity of their shallow talent pool to deliver.

      The shock and awe of 9-11 was so great that Americans came to think of Islamist jihadists as a low-tech version of Dr. Strangelove, an evil genius constantly looking for ingenious ways of spreading death and destruction. America is so open and vulnerable and the Islamists so crafty and motivated that it was just a matter of time, everyone thought, before they got us again.

  • Cablegate

    • Leaked HBGary Documents Show Plan To Spread Wikileaks Propaganda For BofA… And ‘Attack’ Glenn Greenwald

      Once again, as I’ve said before, I really don’t think this is a good idea. The potential backlash can be severe and these kinds of attacks can create the opposite long-term incentives that the folks involved think they’re creating. It also gets people a lot more focused on the method rather than the message and that seems unfortunate.

      Still, the leaked emails are turning up some gems, with a key one being that Bank of America (widely discussed as Wikileaks’ next target) had apparently been talking to HBGary Federal about how to disrupt Wikileaks. That link, from The Tech Herald, includes tons of details. The full proposal (embedded below) feels like something straight out of a (really, really bad) Hollywood script.

      It appears that the law firm BofA was using as a part of its Wikileaks crisis response task force, Hunton and Williams, had reached out to firms asking for research and a plan against Wikileaks. HBGary Federal, along with Palantir Technologies and Berico Technologies put together their pitch. According to the emails discussing this, the firms tried to come up with a plan as to how they could somehow disrupt Wikileaks , see if there was a way to sue Wikileaks and get an injunction against releasing the data.

    • Assange Probe Hits Snag

      U.S. investigators have been unable to uncover evidence that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange induced an Army private to leak government documents to his website, according to officials familiar with the matter.

      New findings suggest Pfc. Bradley Manning, the intelligence analyst accused of handing over the data to the WikiLeaks website, initiated the theft himself, officials said. That contrasts with the initial portrait provided by Defense Department officials of a young man taken advantage of by Mr. Assange.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Vexed By Natural Gas

      The problem is that the United States doesn’t know, just yet, what to do with its natural gas. In addition, the US economy doesn’t have enough growth in its power and manufacturing sectors to demand more natural gas, that would spur a faster transition away from oil. The result is a kind of stasis, in which a consumption-led economy is still trying to operate with oil. Previous energy transitions, on a historical basis, are instructive here. For example, it took Britain decades to transition from Wood to Coal–even though coal was cheaper on a btu basis. Sound familiar?

    • Rare Amazon Tribe Nearly Extinct from Deforestation

      It was the ‘civilizing’ spirit of colonialism which first drove the Awa-Guajá from their settlements along the eastern shore of Brazil and into the Amazon rainforest. There, under self-imposed isolation from a world that’s changing so rapidly around them, they live in remarkable harmony with nature — going as far breastfeeding animals alongside their own children. Nowadays, colonialism has given way to developmentalism, and the bearers of ‘civility’ to loggers and businessmen. But for the Awa-Guajá, perhaps there is little difference; both signal the destruction of their land and their very way of life.

    • Obama’s $36 Billion Nuke Giveaway

      Barack Obama’s 2012 budget marks a major escalation in the nuclear war against a green-powered future, whose advocates are already fighting back.

      Amidst massive budget cuts for social and environmental programs, Obama wants $36 billion in loan guarantees for a reactor industry that cannot secure sufficient private “marketplace” financing for new construction.

    • Rare metals found in Cornish tin mine

      A Cornish tin mine hopes to be producing hundreds of kilos of valuable indium – used in iPads and other devices and costing up to £500 a kilo.

  • Finance

    • When Recovery’s Just a Word

      I was disappointed last week when two of my favorite publications, The Economist and the Financial Times (both British) capitulated to the new recovery myth in the US Labor Market. I generally depend on London, not New York, to give me a better read on the US economy. This has been true for over two years now as the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal have either leaned in an overly optimistic direction, or, missed whole portions of the story entirely. For example, let’s look at the big picture. Here is a chart of the total number of employed Americans over the past ten years.

      [...]

      Now you know why annual government budgets have blown out into the trillions: the economic flows normally provided by a functioning economy are now provided through unemployment checks, food stamps, FDR style spending and other distributions. In short, the “economy” cannot be experiencing a recovery when, after 10 years of population growth and growth in future liabilities, the number of people employed is hovering around levels last seen in 2002-2004. Whether you chose to look at just Non-Farm Employment, or Total Employment, the US Labor Market is essentially flat-lining since a deep trough was reached in late 2009, early 2010.

    • TSX closes above 14,000

      The Toronto Stock Exchange closed above the 14,000 level Wednesday for the first time since July 2008.

    • Swiss ex-banker custody appeal turned down-lawyer

      Swiss ex-banker turned whistleblower Rudolph Elmer has lost his appeal against a court ruling remanding him in prison over possible breaches of Swiss banking secrecy, a lawyer representing Elmer said on Wednesday.

      Elmer was taken into custody by police on Jan. 19 after handing over computer discs to WikiLeaks two days earlier. The former Julius Baer (BAER.VX) banker indicated the CDs contained details of as many as 2,000 offshore bank accounts.

    • Amazon.com shutting Irving office over tax dispute

      As a result of an ongoing tax dispute with Texas, Amazon.com has decided to take its ball and go home.

      The online retailer said Thursday that it would shutter its Irving distribution facility April 12 and cancel plans to hire as many as 1,000 additional workers rather than pay Texas what the state says is owed in uncollected sales tax.

    • Actually, Texans Save $600 Million a Year

      A Texas tax official estimates in this story that Texas loses an estimated $600 million in Internet sales taxes every year. Its part of a long-running debate about whether state governments should be able to collect taxes from out-of-state retailers who send goods into their jurisdictions.

      What happens with the $600 million depends on what you mean by “Texas.” If you mean the government of the state of Texas in Austin, why, yes, the government appears not to collect that amount, which it wants to. If by “Texas” you mean the people who live, work, and raise their families throughout the state—Texans—they actually save $600 million a year. They get to do what they want with it. After all, it’s their money.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Walkom: Oda’s attempt to mislead is part of Tory strategy
    • Mallick: Canadian democracy, Soviet-style

      Denunciation was the weapon of choice in Stalin’s Soviet Union. Anyone could denounce anyone else, which they did, writing letters to the authorities with venom and energy, ending careers, destroying families and worse. Anyone anywhere — at a university, in Stalin’s inner circle, on the factory floor — looked left and looked right, and wondered which friend would stand up and denounce them as kulaks (educated types, i.e., peasants with more than two cows).

      “Some denunciations were the Stalinist equivalent of awkward parliamentary questions and investigative reporters,” the historian Simon Sebag Montefiore wrote in his 2003 book on office politics in the Stalin era, Stalin: The Court of the Red Tsar. They were as effective “as kerosene on a fire.”

      Stalin loved it. “You probably find it unpleasant,” he wrote, “but I’m glad. It would be a bad thing if no one complained.”

    • HBGary Federal Spied On Families And Children Of US Chamber Of Commerce Opponents

      The story of HBGary Federal keeps getting worse and worse. After threatening to reveal the “leaders” of the leaderless group Anonymous, the company’s servers were hacked and emails released, exposing a bizarre plan to intimidate Wikileaks critics to get them to stop supporting the site, and to plant false information. A few days later, it came out that HBGary Federal (along with partners Palantir and Berico) also had proposed a similar campaign to help the US Chamber of Commerce silence critics. New reports show that HBGary Federal boss Aaron Barr apparently went so far as to “demonstrate” his ability to intimidate people by using social networking info to dig up information and photos on people’s families.

    • How To Debunk A Fact-Free Fox News Fearmongering Piece About New Video Game

      So there you go. When someone like Fox News publishes a ridiculously wrong and misleading attack on video games, three perfect templates for debunking.

  • Privacy

    • California high court: Retailers can’t request cardholders’ ZIP code

      California’s high court ruled Thursday that retailers don’t have the right to ask customers for their ZIP code while completing credit card transactions, saying that doing so violates a cardholders’ right to protect his or her personal information.

      Many retailers in California and nationwide now ask people to give their ZIP code, punching in that information and recording it. Yet California Supreme Court’s seven justices unanimously determined that this practice goes too far.

    • We know where you’ve been: privacy, congestion tracking, and the future

      Highway congestion is a serious problem that will only get worse as the US population grows. And our traditional solution to congestion—building more lanes—seems to be running out of steam. With governments facing record deficits, elected officials are having enough trouble finding the money to maintain existing infrastructure, to say nothing of adding new capacity. And in many places, proposals to expand highways encounter fierce resistance from nearby residents.

      So public officials are searching for strategies to use existing highway capacity more efficiently. Recently they’ve begun experimenting with a new strategy for controlling congestion: demand-based pricing of scarce road capacity. Congestion pricing promises to kill two pigs with one bird, keeping traffic flowing smoothly while simultaneously generating new revenue that can be used for public investments. New technologies—notably RFID transponders and license-plate-reading cameras—are allowing the replacement of traditional tollbooths with cashless tolling at freeway speeds.

    • Justice Department assertion: FBI can get phone records without oversight

      The Obama administration’s Justice Department has asserted that the FBI can obtain telephone records of international calls made from the U.S. without any formal legal process or court oversight, according to a document obtained by McClatchy Newspapers.

      That assertion was revealed – perhaps inadvertently – by the department in its response to a McClatchy Newspapers request for a copy of a secret Justice Department memo.

  • Civil Rights

    • The Trouble With “Balance” Metaphors

      Reading Orin Kerr’s new paper outlining an “equilibrium-adjustment theory” of the Fourth Amendment, I found myself reflecting on how thoroughly the language of “balancing” pervades our thinking about legal and political judgment. The very words “reasonable” and “rational” are tightly linked to “ratio”—which is to say, to relative magnitude or balance. We hope to make decisions on the basis of the weightiest considerations, to make arguments that meet their burden of proof. We’re apt to frame almost any controversy involving heterogenous goods or values as a problem of “striking the right balance” between them, and many of those value dichotomies have become well worn cliches: We’ve all seen the scales loaded with competing state interests and individual rights; with innovation and stability; with freedom and equality; with privacy and security. There’s obviously something we find natural and useful about this frame, but precisely because it’s so ubiquitous as to fade into the background, maybe it’s worth stopping to unpack it a bit, and to consider how the analogy between sound judgment and balancing weights may constrain our thinking in unhealthy ways.

    • As Expected, House Agrees To Extend Patriot Act With No Discussion, No Oversight

      We all knew last week, when the House failed to renew three controversial clauses in the Patriot Act that allow the government to spy on people with little oversight, that it was a temporary reprieve. Indeed, just a week later, with a slight procedural change, the same provision has been approved, and now it moves to the Senate, where there are three separate bills for extending these clauses (and none about getting rid of them, as was supposed to have happened by now). Only one of the three bills, put forth by Senator Patrick Leahy, includes additional oversight. The two others — from Senator Chuck Grassley and Senator Dianne Feinstein — do not include any oversight.

    • EPIC Opposes TSA’s Secret Evidence in Body Scanner Case

      EPIC has opposed an effort by the Transportation Security Administration to provide secret evidence to the court in EPIC’s challenge to the the airport body scanner program. The TSA claimed that it can withhold documents that it has designated “Sensitive Security Information” and scientific studies because they are “copyrighted materials.”

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/UBB

    • Bell Class Action lawsuit seeks payback of Early Termination Fees
    • Regulators of Our Digital Future Have Lost Public’s Trust

      The government has told the CRTC to go back to the drawing board on its Internet metering decision. The Liberals and NDP have blasted the regulators, too.

      And yet remaining defenders of the decision cling to the argument that someone has to pay for Internet infrastructure, so why not let it be the so-called bandwidth hogs among us?

      To still make that the basic issue is to have missed the citizens’ revolt of the past week, a backlash far beyond the wonky specifics of how many gigabytes are too many or too pricey.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • U.S. Government Shuts Down 84,000 Websites, ‘By Mistake’

        The US Government has yet again shuttered several domain names this week. The Department of Justice and Homeland Security’s ICE office proudly announced that they had seized domains related to counterfeit goods and child pornography. What they failed to mention, however, is that one of the targeted domains belongs to a free DNS provider, and that 84,000 websites were wrongfully accused of links to child pornography crimes.

      • Feds Seize 18 More Domains in Piracy Crackdown

        The U.S. government seized 18 more internet domains Monday, bringing to at least 119 the number of seizures following the June commencement of the so-called “Operation in Our Sites” anti-piracy program.

        The Immigration and Customs Enforcement seizure, in honor of Valentine’s Day, targeted sites hawking big-name brands like Prada and Tiffany & Co.

      • Debate opens on domain closures

        Police plans to shut down web domains believed to be used by criminals are to be debated in public.

        In November, the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (Soca) tabled a plan to give such powers to Nominet, which oversees the .uk domain.

      • Can A Contract Remove Fair Use Rights?

        Last year, we wrote about a ridiculous situation in which the Association for Information Media and Equipment (AIME) threatened UCLA, after discovering that the school had set up an online video service, that let UCLA professors put up legally licensed video clips so that students could watch them from their computers. AIME claimed that UCLA’s license did not allow for such uses. UCLA claimed this was fair use. After initially taking down the videos, UCLA decided this was worth fighting over and put the videos back up last March. At the time, we thought a lawsuit from AIME would come quickly, but apparently it took until December. UCLA recently filed a motion to dismiss the lawsuit, setting up a few reasons why — including the claim that, as a state university, it has sovereign immunity from copyright lawsuits and, also, that AIME is not the copyright holder in question, and thus has no standing.

      • Did The Record Labels Kill The Golden Goose In Music Video Games?

        And now it looks like the labels may have succeeded in bleeding those types of games dry. With Activision announcing that it was dumping Guitar Hero, one of the major reasons given is the high cost of licensing music. Yup, the labels priced things so high that they made it impractical to actually offer any more. Yet another case of the labels overvaluing their own content. Now, it’s also true that these games haven’t evolved that much, and people haven’t seen the point of buying new versions, but part of that lack of evolving is because so much of the budget had to go towards overpaying for music, rather than innovating.

      • Once Again, If You Don’t Offer Authorized Versions Of Released Content, Don’t Be Surprised If People Get Unauthorized Copies

        We just had a post about a guy in the UK who could not buy the version of RosettaStone’s language training software that he wanted because the company would not sell it to him. In response, he felt compelled to pirate it, rather than pay lots of money for a lesser version with no promised upgrade. And here’s another, similar case, involving venture capitalist Fred Wilson, who could not find a legitimate way to buy The Streets’ new album after hearing that it was being released. After searching all over for it, the best he could do was order a CD. Instead, he ended up getting an unauthorized copy.

      • UK Gov’t Admits That Protecting Big Record Labels More Important Than Getting Poor Online

        Via Glyn Moody, we learn that the UK government has responded to a question about how the Digital Economy Act might increase the price of internet access. The government’s response? Yes, the Digital Economy Act might price poor people out of the internet, and that’s “regrettable,” but somehow necessary. Huh? So it’s more important to protect the profits of a few obsolete record labels, than to help get more people connected to the internet?

      • Class Action Lawsuit Filed Against Coach Over Bogus Takedowns, Trademark Bullying

        We’ve seen so many cases of trademark bullying, and it’s so rare to see people fight back, that it’s interesting to see it happening — and even more surprising to see it done as a class action suit. Eric Goldman points us to the news that this class action lawsuit has been filed against luxury goods maker, Coach, for apparently issuing takedowns to eBay for perfectly legitimate second-hand sales, while also threatening those who put up those items.

      • Judge in Jimi Hendrix Case Declares Washington Publicity Rights Law Unconstitutional

        In a surprise decision, a federal judge in Washington has ruled that the state’s publicity rights law violates the U.S. Constitution. The case involved the estate of Jimi Hendrix battling against a vendor, HendrixLicensing.com, which sold t-shirts, posters, lights, dartbords, key chains and other items designed to capitalize on the fame of the rock legend. On Tuesday, Judge Thomas S. Zilly ruled for the defendant.

        The lawsuit against HendrixLicensing.com begin as a trademark dispute, but after Washington amended its law in 2008 so that dead celebrities could enjoy more generous publicity rights in the state, the defendant asked for a court order that declared that Hendrix’ publicity rights weren’t applicable to the dispute.

      • How Come No One Calls Out Pandora For False Promise Of Profitability?

        Yet, on Friday, Pandora filed for a $100 million IPO, and the filings show that the company is still a long way from profitability. And, now, the company that talked up how profitable it was going to be in 2010 is claiming it might not really be profitable until the end of 2012 or later.

      • Would the Bard Have Survived the Web?

        Copyright, now powerfully linking authors, the printing press (and later technologies) and the market, would prove to be one of history’s great public policy successes. Books would attract investment of authors’ labor and publishers’ capital on a colossal scale, and our libraries and bookstores would fill with works that educated and entertained a thriving nation. Our poets, playwrights, novelists, historians, biographers and musicians were all underwritten by copyright’s markets.

Clip of the Day

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Credit: TinyOgg

IRC Proceedings: February 16th, 2011

Posted in IRC Logs at 1:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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