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02.17.11

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      People may have heard of this one, but they may have also heard that no programs run on it, it’s old or outdated (which is not true), and it’s hard to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

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