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03.30.11

Restoration of Pace

Posted in Site News at 9:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Modern

Summary: Idle time is over as Internet service is up to speed and news starts rushing in

WE are gradually returning to normality as wired connectivity is up (although a few issues were encountered with it earlier today). BT will issue compensation for the problems it caused and the new connection will permit considerably higher upload speeds, which ought to help with TechBytes. I’ve also sorted out the monitors such that they are 4,000 pixels wide, all combined, just like it was in 2007-2009.

Logging of the IRC channels was done by our server administrator, Tracy, and complete logs will be published at a later point when more urgent issues subside. In the mean time, during the coming days, a little bit of old news will appear in the daily links. This may be a nuisance to those who follow other sites with GNU/Linux and Free/open source software news, but the intention here is to ensure proper coverage (at least by mention) of missed items. If a lot of today’s links digests constitute reruns or belated announcements, then be sure to check things out after the weekend (I will be away in London today and tomorrow, then catch up with the very latest).

“As promised earlier this month, greater emphasis will be put on concepts and not brands.”Our IRC channels have been thriving in recent months, especially with the return of some brilliant members. We also have a following in sites such as identi.ca and Twitter, having attempted to expand to other medium types as opposed to staying the same like “Linux Today” did (they appear to have some internal difficulties, which they will hopefully resolve because everyone needs them).

As promised earlier this month, greater emphasis will be put on concepts and not brands. There are already many brands in the Linux world, including WebOS and Android (which are decreasingly participatory, much less than Ubuntu for example). They have their own plans and their own promotion methods, so we need not help them. They don’t need the help. Instead, we should attempt to remove barriers that harm everyone (collectively), software patents for example.

Server load is very high at the moment, so it’s nice to be back. Thanks to all those who support us by active involvement, for example Eduardo Landaver who built the Spanish portal of Techrights. As we keep broadening our reach and focusing a bit more, meaning in terms of scope (departing a bit from pure politics for instance), we hope to have more impact and offer to our readers a platform in which they can make a positive difference. If you have relevant essays that you want published here, please mail them over or come to discuss this in the IRC channels. If we can sort of ‘outsource’ authorship, then we can post a lot more, leading to POV pluralism too.

Links 30/3/2011: OLPC Training and “Linux Today” Re-rectified

Posted in News Roundup at 8:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Ubuntu 10.10 Vs Windows 7 Vs Mac OS X 10.6 (Snow Leopard)

    Ubuntu is by far the fastest OS in our tests, until multi-tasking is brought into the picture, where it becomes a lot slower.

  • Mum’s the Word at “Linux Today”

    There seems to be trouble in the works over at Linux Today, and everybody’s keeping damn quiet about it.

    The first hint that something was wrong came on Saturday when the site posted no new content. This seemed odd, but not too unusual since weekend postings are often slim on the site. But when usually busy Monday came and went with still no new posts, the “what’s-up-with-that” factor was raised. Things started to get back to normal on Tuesday, however, when new posts began showing-up on the site again, though the pickings were slim, only six posts on a day when normally there would be four times as many.

    I figured that the folks at Linux Today had just experienced some kind of hiccup in their operations or that maybe everyone took the weekend off to celebrate some sort of open source spring break. Then, yesterday at about 1 pm EDT, the site posted a rather cryptic article, Picking Ourselves Up, Dusting Ourselves Off, by Michael Hall, a former managing editor at both Linux Today and Linux Planet who’s been spending the last several years working “on other sites in Linux Today’s parent company.”

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • FLOSS Weekly 158: The 2600hz Project

      The 2600hz Project is home to a collection of open-source telephony software that enables the use of the FreeSWITCH, Asterisk and YATE switching libraries.

    • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 395
    • Podcast Season 3 Episode 6

      In this episode: Canonical and Gnome may benefit from some relationship counselling. GTK+ 3.2 will enable you to run Gnome apps through a web browser. The Debian Derivatives Exchange (DEX) project has launched and Firefox 4 is here. Share our discoveries, listen to our marketing slogans and hear your own opinions in our Open Ballot.

  • Kernel Space

    • When does Linux turn 20?
    • Kernel-Switcher .38 GCC
    • Kernel Log: Development of 2.6.39 under way, series 33 revived

      Among the additions for kernel version .39 are the Xen network backend, support for ipset, and the rudimentary Poulsbo graphics driver; the kernel hackers have now also completely eradicated the BKL. Greg Kroah-Hartman has taken up maintaining the series 33 kernel again because it is the basis of the real-time branch.

    • “A Clear Example Of Why DRM Has Been Problematic”
    • I am now a Linux Kernel Developer

      I have no idea if the patch will be accepted, or even noticed, but I’ve done it and now anyone who gets the compile error…

    • Some Distributions Still Live In A KMS-Less World

      One of the most commonly mentioned terms at Phoronix is KMS, as in kernel mode-setting, whereby the GPU mode-setting is done in kernel-space rather than user-space with an X.Org DDX driver. The major open-source drivers were quick to adopt KMS support in their DRM drivers since it allows for cool features like a cleaner boot process, faster and more reliable VT switching, more reliable suspend-and-resume, greater security by running the X Server as a normal user, the ability to have a Linux kernel panic message (like a Windows BSOD), and for new technologies like the Wayland Display Server to emerge. However, not all Linux distributions are yet on this KMS bandwagon.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Wayland, Dumb Frame-Buffers & Embedded SoCs

        If you’re not following the many Linux development mailing lists out there, the latest major discussion surrounding the Wayland Display Server that’s spanned the Wayland, DRI/DRM, and Fbdev mailing lists has been about using Wayland on “dumb frame-buffers”, KMS vs. fbdev, and DRM drivers on embedded SoCs.

      • Will H.264 VA-API / VDPAU Finally Come To Gallium3D?

        Generic video decoding is not new to Gallium3D or even to being worked on with Google’s Summer of Code. Back in 2008 was the first attempts at Gallium3D video decoding when MPEG support in shaders and exposed by XvMC (X-Video Motion Compensation) was the target. It made progress with the Nouveau driver, but the work is not heavily used at this time.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • The Collaboration Imperative

      People tend to attribute what happens around us in the world to intentions. We believe things happen for a reason. This is quite a strong human tendency already present in very young children. Put a 3 year old in front of a room where stones are moved around by some invisible means like magnets. Ask the kid what is going on and he or she will describe the events in the room in terms of “the blue stone wants to talk to the red one”. We know stones usually don’t really want a lot – so why does the child perceive such intentions? This phenomenon not only forms the base of early religions (attributing ‘intentions’ to weather, trees or growth of crops) but also results in making conflicts worse. Psychologists call it “the fundamental attribution error” and it is fundamental (hence the name) to our perception of the world.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Connect to the Internet in More Than 10 Clicks (BUG)

        (As requested by my audience, I wish to make a distinction in pointing out that my post is mistaken in thinking that the described features of KDE are a default. They are, contrarily, a BUG with my own installation. Nevertheless, I will hold the secondary method of connecting to the internet as something that can be revised and improved.)

        As KDE worked on the new Network Manager for version 4, they decided to make the interface more powerful and through the use of the network manager widget, more accessible to users. The interface is indeed powerful and full of features aimed at working out every corner of customization on a given network. Wireless or wired network, they both have their particulars when it comes to connecting to the internet.

      • Qt Compositor For Wayland Is Made

        If you head on over to the Nokia Labs Qt Blog there is a post about “multi-process Lighthouse”, which is worth reading. It’s written by Jørgen Lind about how up until now Qt has lacked a multi-process client/server solution, but now they are looking for the Wayland Display Server to fill this void. Jørgen and other Qt developers ended up writing “Qt Compositor”, which is a Nokia Labs project for making Qt-based Wayland compositors.

      • The “bleeding edge” dilemma
      • KDE Commit Digest for 13 March
      • New Features in digiKam 2.0: Geolocation

        Geolocation is not a new feature, but in digiKam 2.0 it has been thoroughly reworked to streamline the process of geotagging photos. The new Geolocation interface (Image » Geo-location) aggregates all geotagging tools in one place. The interface itself consists of three parts: the map pane contains a map and a toolbar with several navigation tools; below the map pane, there is a list of selected photos; the sidebar on the right displays the currently active section.

      • platform ho-ooooOOO!
      • Moving media players into the future, and Camp KDE
      • Introducing: Phonon 4.5.0

        After 2 months of development the Phonons are proud to present Phonon 4.5.0, the new and incredibly awesome version of our multimedia abstraction library for Qt and KDE.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • With Days Left, GNOME Shell Continues Advancing

        The release candidate of GNOME 3.0 is due out, and the final release is just days away (6 April), but the GNOME Shell continues to advance with just days to go. GNOME Shell 2.91.92 is now available with a number of improvements.

      • GNOME Shell 3.0 Nears Release

        It’s only been a little over two weeks since the last developmental release, but a substantial list of bug reports have been closed. Several changes have occurred as well. Some of these include:

        * New network indicator for NetworkManager 0.9.

        * Multi monitor improvements

        – Enable workspaces_only_on_primary so that workspace switching only affects the primary monitor
        – In the overview, show windows for each monitor on that particular monitor
        – Use new “pointer barriers” to trap the mouse cursor at hot screen corners
        – Don’t use a slideout for the workspace selector if it’s at a monitor boundary

        * Greatly sped up search

        [...]

      • GNOME 3 live image release 0.2.0 is out

        This week release is version 0.2.0. It features GNOME 2.91.92, including :

        * soon to be released Network Manager 0.9 and new UI integrated in GNOME Shell and GNOME Control Center (be careful, it has still rough edges)
        * a11y support should be improved

  • Distributions

    • A New, Happy Pardus User!

      Pardus 2011 is not only beautiful; it’s also effective. A new, happy Pardus user may be right now playing with her laptop and she may be learning about a totally new–and certainly safer–computing experience.

    • Slackware 13.37… I Couldn’t Wait
    • LWN Picks Up On Package Signing

      The author, Nathan Willis, contacted me earlier this week to ask some questions, and I feel his article provides a very comprehensive review of the core issues, including the problems with Arch’s devs refusing contributions in this area and stalemating Arch’s security improvements for years. I think it’s great that LWN is reporting to their subscribers so candidly and giving this issue much needed visibility.

    • Sabayon Five Oh!

      Sabayon. I’m unsure if it got the name after an infamous Italian dessert. Still, it’s “the most beautiful linux distro out there” as some people would say. That might be the case out of the box, but we all know that we can modify any distro to any extent and make it look any way we want. I’ll admit, I’ve always wanted to try Sabayon. This gentoo-based distro is one of the rare that is quite popular, and that I haven’t ever tasted. It currently ranks #6 on DistroWatch (last 6 months ranking), but for some weird reason, none of my friends are running it – I even have some linuxy friends that have never even heard of it (!). But maybe I just have strange friends. Anyway, Sabayon comes in 2 versions: G and K. Obviously, these are the first letters to their respective desktop environments. It also comes with Xfce, LXDE, and E17, but the first two are the most “important” editions of Sabayon. What’s interesting is that neither G or K can be burned to a CD, as the ISO is over 2 GB in size. I smell a lot of crapware. Do continue reading about this interesting distro.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • PCLinuxOS 2010.12 Gnome – Rushed out too early

        PCLinuxOS 2010.12 is not as good as the spring edition. There are just too many errors, most of which could have been solved by a more careful system validation. After all, few or almost none of these showed up in the last two releases I’ve tested, so it’s nothing inherent in PCLinuxOS that is bad, it’s the integration of parts done in a sloppy manner. A bodge work, if you like, which fits nicely with my username, Roger Bodger.

        At the end of the day, PCLinuxOS worked, but it was scarred. There’s no benefit to its default scheduler, most people won’t notice or care. The 32-bit only architecture is not a dealbreaker, but it projects a certain reputation. Multimedia problems are a sore spot. But the worst thing is the package manager. You can’t really enjoy your Linux without it.

        I like PCLinuxOS and I hope it will break into the big league one day, but the Holiday release just shows how difficult this task is, without immense resources to check and double-check every little thing. Now, since PCLinuxOS is a rolling release, you can safely install an older edition and then upgrade it to the latest patch level, which is what I’d recommend. For me, PCLinuxOS 2010.12 Gnome is a missed opportunity.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Is CentOS Dieing?

        There’s apprehension that Centos is probably not going to survive for long. The developer group is really too small and the method that they use to prepare and subsequently deploy Centos is too slow. Scientific Linux and OEL are infinitely superior in every way (paid developers, planned schedules, better communication, etc). IMO, Scientific Linux is no less stable, it’s just that CentOS has gained the reputation for the earlier timely and good releases. And there’s this inertia of change on the mindshare. However, the recent irregularity will definitely force a lot of CentOS user to move to Scientific Linux, and it’s for good.

      • Is Scientific Linux 6 Right for You? The Review.

        Most of you will need no introduction to Scientific Linux, but, as it’s sort of customary for a review to give a short overview before getting started I’ll do just that.
        Scientific Linux is a clone of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) much like the CentOS project, rebuilding the distribution from upstream source rpms and removing and replacing the branding that vendor has applied to the installer, slides, wallpapers and whereever else in the system.
        Scientific Linux is put together predominantly by CERN and Fermilabs with the help of “various other labs and universities around the world” as the web site puts it. It provides a common install base while also leaving space for site specific customizations and modifications to fit more
        specialist needs for the labs, but can of course also just be installed as is. It is fully compatible with RHEL, being essentially the same product, but makes a few minor but important tweaks and additions, in contrast to CentOS. Being based on EL but having the additional layer of QA of the Scientific Linux community should make for a very stable product indeed, but you might as well use it because in a way you have paid towards it with your taxes, as long as you live in Europe. After all, I believe these institutions are all government and EU funded. Now, if that isn’t a good reason, finally we’re getting something for our money.

      • Red Hat and Ubuntu pushing buttons in the community….

        Both Red Hat and Ubuntu have been in the press a lot lately because of changes they are making in their distribution. What everyone seems to forget with both companies are just that companies not communities. While they do a great job of being great community members, people will always complain about them. Here is what we gleaned from the posts I read:

        For Red Hat the change is just how the distribute the kernel itself. They are now shipping just a completely patched Kernel. This is instead of shipping a patch set for each and every bug release that was available. Who does it affect? The folks that want to look in the kernel. As far as we can tell that’s it. We at Linuxinstall.net don’t think that this is an issue for them and more just a reason for people to complain and wish things were better the old way.

      • Red Hat’s Steady March to the Big Leagues

        The idea of an open source company pulling in a billion dollars in annual revenue probably would have been unimaginable a decade ago, but Red Hat has drawn close to that milestone — and it’s likely because of its commitment to Linux, not in spite of it. Red Hat’s continually evolving use of Linux and open source makes it “a more reliable multi-product, multi-service company,” observed Geek 2.0 blogger Steven Savage.

      • Red Hat Proves That Open Source Is Good for Business

        Critics of free and open source software are fond of making the argument that software must be locked up, patented and jealously guarded if it is to serve as the basis for a successful business. Well, Red Hat just refuted such claims in a big way this week with its fourth quarter earnings report, which blew away analysts’ expectations and placed the company well on track for billion-dollar revenues in the upcoming year.

      • Founder of Lulu.com and co-founder of Red Hat speaks at Wake Forest University
    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • An introduction to Embedded Linux, BeagleBoard & its Linux kernel port

      Jon Masters takes a break from his usual kernel column format this month to introduce us to the world of embedded Linux with an overview of the BeagleBoard and its Linux kernel port…

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Dell Inspiron Duo Convertible welcomes Jolicloud

        The Dell Inspiron Duo is a netbook that can transform to a tablet and it uses the Dual Core processor. The screen is 10 inches with a resolution of 1366×768. It uses a capacitive touch display. The convertible feature was designed in a unique way so that it will not rely anymore on swivel that seems not too robust for many users.

    • OLPC

      • Over 900 Teachers to Get OLPC Training

        971 teachers from primary four to six, in all schools designated to receive laptops countrywide, will undergo an extensive training in using the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) computers.

        The second phase of the capacity building program kicked off yesterday in several primary schools in the Northern and Southern provinces.

      • African Union, OLPC laptop plan faces hurdles

        Although the African Union (AU) has sealed a deal with the One Laptop per Child (OLPC) project to buy XO laptops for distribution in African schools, the project still faces funding and organizational hurdles.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Free software, a form of escapism?
  • 5 things to consider when evaluating open source

    According to Kareem, following 5 factors must be considered when deciding whether or not to use open source software:

    1) Cost reduction
    2) Speed of implementation
    3) May not have a foundation to support future desired functionality
    4) Code ownership may be a problem
    5) May need to change systems to match the OSS application

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • CMS

    • ING using Drupal

      You know when a piece of software is mature when it starts being adopted by financial services organizations. ING Financial Services recently moved a number of sites from Oracle Stellent to Drupal. Among these sites are http://ing.us, the main portal for their US market. The driver behind this migration was to move to a platform that was more dynamic and provided faster time to market.

    • Upstream release monitoring for Drupal modules.

      Today I added a couple examples to the Fedora wiki’s upstream release monitoring page that will allow maintainers to track new releases of Drupal modules. You can simply follow the template to add yours.

      The upstream release monitoring system is provided through the courtesy of long-time Fedora contributor Till Maas, whose cnucnu software informs participating maintainers by filing a bug when the upstream releases a new copy of their software. Although most if not all maintainers monitor feeds and mailing lists, the bug is a reminder of what’s left to do, and doesn’t require the maintainer to stop what they’re doing when they get an email or RSS notification. Instead, they can trust their bug list.

  • Business

    • Cutting the cost of innovation

      Open source software might be free to download, but it ends up costing as much as traditional software because of the complexities of supporting it, or inflexible licensing structures. Or so the argument goes.

      You would expect to hear this from Steve Ballmer, Larry Ellison or any of the other grand old men of proprietary software. It is more surprising when you hear such thoughts being aired by the head of corporate services at Canonical, the commercial operation behind Ubuntu-flavoured Linux.

  • BSD

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • 2010 Free Software Awards announced

      This year, it was given to Rob Savoye. Savoye is a long-time free software hacker, who has worked on GNU and other free software for over 20 years. He has contributed to dozens of projects including GCC, GDB, DejaGnu, Newlib, Libgloss, Cygwin, eCos, Expect, multiple major GNU/Linux distributions, and One Laptop Per Child. Savoye has led the effort to produce a free software Flash player, Gnash. This work has enabled free software users to avoid dependency on a pervasive piece of proprietary software. Rob is also CTO and founder of Open Media Now, a nonprofit dedicated to producing a freely licensed media infrastructure.

    • Fellowship interview with Dan Leinir

      Chris Woolfrey: Can you explain what GamingFreedom.org is, and it’s relationship with Gluon?

      Dan Leinir Turthra Jensen: GamingFreedom is a social network for makers and players of games, based on the concept that there are very few people who make games who don’t also play them. So, rather than view game distribution as a way of pushing a product to the users in order to make back the money that was invested, GamingFreedom views it as a social thing: you have an idea for a game, you build that game, and you distribute the game to some repository, which in our case is GamingFreedom.org. From there you can download the game and play it, and you can then provide feedback if you want; through ratings, commenting, even user submitted screenshots and other such things.

  • Government

    • Cost savings in The Netherlands: Now you see it, now you don’t

      Interestingly, a headline from the Court of Audit’s own news excerpt is: “Ministries already use a lot of open source.”

      This report, too, doesn’t seem to be available, except for a summary in English.

      Headlines from outfits covering the story have read “Netherlands open source report says no savings can be made.” Discussion boards have chimed in stoking a conspiracy to cook numbers, government succumbing to Microsoft lobbying, and so on.

      My take: Much ado about nothing.

      First, I think we can agree The Netherlands has an issue with transparency, at least when it comes to handling this issue. But, beyond that I doubt there is any behind-the-scenes-lurking.

      When the Open Source Observatory wrote about the first report, they noted it was written by one person in the Ministry of Interior, and largely meant for an internal audience. Only after pressure from representatives in Parliament did the Ministry send over the report.

      Report, here, may even be the wrong word. Governments do a lot of internal prospecting via memos, briefs, etc. just like any other organization. Similar to the issues I brought up about the relationship between the US Congress and its Congressional Research Service, government needs some room to think on its own. Not every document amounts to an answer that should be translated into policy.

      It could be that in this case the Parliament caught wind of someone’s quick calculations and wanted to see the analysis without any word on how “official” the document was, the background of the writer, or the vetting process, if any, the report was put through. In all reality, it may be a “bad” report.

  • Licensing

    • Are Your Licenses Compliant?

      The moral of the story is this. Do not wait until the phone rings. Do not wait until the lawyers are sharpening their pencils. Make sure you are in good shape now. The costs — monetary, health, and welfare — are not worth it.

      For more on how you can get your hands around Open Source licensing, read my post from Day 1 of LinuxCon 2010 and visit the Linux Foundation for more details on their license programs.

    • HTC are still incredible ********s

      As has been discussed before, HTC have a somewhat “interesting” interpretation of the GPL that allows them to claim they don’t need to provide source code until between 90 and 120 days after the release of binaries. It’s probably noteworthy that the FSF (who, you know, wrote the license and all) disagree with this interpretation, as do the kernel copyright holders (who, you know, wrote the code that the license covers) I’ve talked to about it. Anyway, after a pile of screaming and shouting from all sides HTC have tended to release their source code in a timely manner. So things seemed better.

Leftovers

  • Security

  • DRM

    • Judge Spero Rules on Jurisdictional Discovery in SCEA v. Hotz

      The telephonic hearing in SCEA v. Hotz was yesterday, the one about how to handle jurisdictional discovery, and here’s what Magistrate Judge Joseph Spero decided to do. Keep in mind, though, that this is still not the main event. This was about how to handle George Hotz’s impounded devices, which is related to Sony’s expressed need to do discovery to oppose Hotz’s motion to dismiss on jurisdictional grounds. So we’re still in the buildup phase, where SCEA is fighting like the devil to find a way to pin Hotz to California’s jurisidiction, which so far it has been unable to do. It’s a split decision, you might say, with Hotz winning some and losing some and ditto for SCEA.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Paramount goes with no DRM bittorrent distribution

        I almost fell off my chair when I heard the news that Paramount will be releasing the Tunnel for free on bit torrent with no DRM of any kind!

        No matter what the film is like, Paramount and the guys behind the tunnel have basically won. A film which would have gone straight to DVD somewhere in a junk bin somewhere could just have been elevated to the most downloaded movie of May (maybe).

Clip of the Day

Bodhi Linux v1.0.0 Distro Review with Enlightment Desktop


Credit: TinyOgg

Patents Roundup: Ill-conceived System Under Siege, Microsoft’s Attacks on Linux and Google’s Response

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 2:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The patent litigation system is getting rusty, must go away

Summary: Opposition to software patents appears to be on the rise and Microsoft’s lawsuits against Linux distributors (whom Microsoft just cannot compete with) contribute to this opposition; Google and Red Hat are encouraged to abolish software patents altogether, not adapt to them

“I’m trying to think of another business,where breaking the law is a necessary part of the business model,” explains this person whose article “Start-ups in the maze of software patents” sheds light on the real benefactors of the patent system:

Have you ever thought about patenting a pop up note, an online poll, a leaderboard in an online game, or a system where you open apps by clicking icons? I have some bad news for you – it’s impossible. Not because the claim is stupid, it’s just that all of those things are already patented (take a look here, here, here, or here).

And it’s all fun and factoids, until one day you find yourself in the role of a software start-up, looking down the long black tunnel of software patenting, leading from Happy Town to Reality Check Station in Breakdown City.

Alexandra Weber Morales argues that the Supreme Court should care about software patents. Really, it’s about time something is done about it. Having addressed the Bilski case, there seems to be not enough precedence to block similar patents from being granted and it’s “iculous software patents,” as Slashdot calls them, that turn into “a developer’s Nemesis”.

Things are not quite as the propaganda puts it — propaganda which typically comes from patent lawyers and lobbyists (working for large aggressors). Those who can benefit from software patents require a lot of patents, otherwise they can easily be defeated in court; everything infringes on everyone else’s monopolies and even Red Hat saw the need the get some patents, for what it claims to be defensive purposes. Sean Michael Kerner discusses a subject mostly brought up by Microsoft boosters who are openly hostile and very combative against Red Hat; he reassesses Red Hat’s relationship with software patents. We touched this subject before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], concluding that Red Hat must change its attitude.

Red Hat played a role in the patent fight in Europe back in the days. It even funded Microsoft Florian, who recently defected to clients on the other side on the face of it. To recall some of the things which happened back in the days, one blogger writes:

For years, the free software movement rallied European citizens and small and medium businesses to reject a very bad directive on patentability of ‘computer implemented inventions’ (in other words, software) that would have damaged society in the long run. We managed to coordinate a strategy between different organizations, like FFII and FSFE. The movement succeeded in building a vast coalition of supporters against the directive, across the political spectrum. We isolated European giants SAP and Nokia, left alone to support a directive that appeared to be written by US-based multinationals.

The FFII has also just responded to Microsoft’s latest attack on Linux — an attack which is of course using software patents. “We predicted years ago that Microsoft would go after Linux challengers with software patents”, the FFII’s president, Benjamin Henrion, is quoted as arguing and to quote the entire thing (from E-mail).

Patent wars on – Microsoft sues Android retailers
===========================================================

Berlin, May 25rd 2011 — This week Microsoft sued the retailers Barnes&Noble, Foxconn and Inventec for distributing devices using the Android platform. The Android is a Linux derivate from Google. It is the most recent lawsuit in a battle of dominance on the tablet and smartphone market.

“”We predicted years ago that Microsoft would go after Linux challengers with software patents”
      –Benjamin Henrion
“What a desperate sales argument to sue retailers which use a competing platform. It’s ‘Take our platform or get sued’. Patent war is on. I am inspired by products like Openmoko and Android, not libel and lawsuits.”, finds FFII vice president Rene Mages.

“We predicted years ago that Microsoft would go after Linux challengers with software patents”, explains FFII president Benjamin Henrion. “It shows how patents stifle innovation”.

The FFII has a track record of making contructive proposals for reforming the patent system to eliminate software patent threats for developers.

===========================================================
Patents
===========================================================

U.S. Patent 5,778,372 “Remote retrieval and display management of electronic document with incorporated images” U.S. Patent 6,339,780 “Loading status in a hypermedia browser having a limited available display area”
U.S. Patent 5,889,522 “System provided child window controls”
U.S. Patent 6,891,551 “Selection handles in editing electronic documents”
U.S. Patent 6,957,233 “Method and apparatus for capturing and rendering
annotations for non-modifiable electronic content”

===========================================================
Links
===========================================================

Microsoft press release

http://www.microsoft.com/presspass/press/2011/mar11/03-21corpnewspr.mspx

Complaint for patent infringement

http://www.geekwire.com/wp-content/uploads/2011/03/msvbandn.pdf

Stop Software Patents in the EU petition

http://www.stopsoftwarepatents.eu

Permanent link to this press release:

http://press.ffii.org/Press%20releases/Patent%20wars%20on%20-%20Microsoft%20sues%20Android%20retailers

===========================================================
Contact
===========================================================

FFII Office Berlin
Malmöer Str. 6
D-10439 Berlin
Fon: +49-30-41722597
Fax Service: +49-721-509663769
office at ffii.org

Benjamin Henrion
FFII Brussels
+32-484-56 61 09 (mobile)
bhenrion at ffii.org
(French/English)

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About FFII
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The FFII is a not-for-profit association registered in twenty European countries, dedicated to the development of information goods for the public benefit, based on copyright, free competition, open standards. More than 1000 members, 3,500 companies and 100,000 supporters have entrusted the FFII to act as their voice in public policy questions concerning exclusion rights (intellectual property) in data processing.

Microsoft’s lawsuits are actually a sign of failure according to some people’s views:

It’s pretty clear that Microsoft, a many-time failure at mass-market tablets has decided that if they can’t beat Apple and Android at popular tablets, they’ll sue them instead. That’s my only explanation for Microsoft suing Barnes & Noble, Foxconn, and Inventec over their Android e-readers.

Vista Phony 7 is still grappling with copy and paste, so Microsoft realises it simply cannot compete by making new products. More Microsoft partners are getting fed up too. Expensify’s CEO explains ‘Why We Won’t Hire .NET Developers’ and “Phone maker publicly says ‘No’ to WP7″, as we noted earlier this month.

The Consumerist says: “Microsoft says Barnes & Noble isn’t licensing the concepts that others, such as Amazon and HTC, pay Microsoft to use.” It’s just extortion. As noted here before, it’s easy to debunk Microsoft’s contention and as Tim noted before, it just shows how Microsoft really feels about “open source” and competition in general, namely:

Again I find myself making the observation that Microsoft’s future appears rather more in the courtroom than actual products on shelves. A rather sad state of affairs? Is Microsoft the dog that sits under the table in the hope that someone will take pity and throw it a scrap of food? I’ll let you decide.

Rob Pegoraro writes (about Microsoft and also Apple): “Throwing out ill-founded software patents is the solution. Until that happens, Microsoft may collect some extra royalty fees from companies like Amazon and HTC that find it easier to settle than to slug things out in court. But the company certainly won’t be earning any respect for this move.”

“Robocast Sues Apple For Infringing Its ‘Automated Browsing’ Patent,” says another headline about another patent, “which is, of course, utterly trivial,” says Glyn Moody.

Apple is on the receiving end of yet another patent infringement lawsuit. A company called Robocast alleges that Apple has willfully incorporated its patented automated browsing technology in a number of products, including iTunes, Apple TV and Front Row, without licensing their ‘invention’.

Robocast, which was founded by Damon Torres, who claims to have pioneered the use of automated web browsing in the nineties, has earlier sued Microsoft on similar grounds.

The court documents offer a fascinating read – as far as I’m concerned – so I’ve embedded them below.

In other news, from CNET, “U.S. backs I4i in patent case against Microsoft” (showing that Microsoft does not respect software patents, either, wilfully infringing some). Microsoft is trying to portray Google as some kind of firm that disrespects so-called ‘intellectual property’. Aoife White writes about Google’s latest patent-promoting move and “Google gets patent for its doodles” says another CNET headline:

And yet I still found myself sensing a momentary twitch of the single gray hair between my eyebrows when I heard that Google had been awarded a patent for its doodles.

Sometimes Google seems to be fighting against software patents, just like Red Hat. But at the same time both companies show no true commitment to such a goal, as we repeatedly showed before. Microsoft has just paid Nortel $7.5 million for IPv4 addresses, whereas Google considered buying Nortel’s patents. “Google hasn’t said what that means. But it appears to involve calling on the services of Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan’s Charles Verhoeven to help fend off the complaints,” states this new article, adding context later:

Verhoeven, who helped Google win several patent trials last year, has appeared on behalf of HTC Corp. or Motorola Inc. in four of the five Android-related suits filed at the International Trade Commission and in more than a half-dozen suits in federal court.

One of the most closely watched is Apple’s ITC claim against HTC, which is set for trial next month. Verhoeven and his firm joined the defense in August.

Neither Verhoeven nor his clients will confirm or comment on the arrangements under which he’s appeared on their behalf. “A lot of people like Charlie,” said Michelle Lee, who heads patent litigation at Google. She referred further questions to Google’s press office, which declined to comment.

Rather than concentrate on making products and hiring engineers Google is now wasting effort on lawyers and patents. Who does this benefit? But more importantly, it sometimes seems like there is internal tension between the lawyers and the engineers in companies like Red Hat and Google (the lawyers justify their existence by harbouring patents). This ought to be resolved.

03.29.11

Microsoft Helps Repressive Regimes, Whereas GNU/Linux Makes Those Regimes Powerless

Posted in EFF, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 7:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Machine gun

Summary: Microsoft is gunning down dissidence (for oppressive tyrants only) by deliberately leaving people who use Microsoft software exposed to surveillance and other abuses

THE subject of Free software as a tool of autonomy goes many years back. For a computer user to be in control of the software rather than the servant of this software, there are characteristics which need to be present in the code. The FSF gives one good definition of these characteristics, although there may be others. Richard Poynder explains how “Citizenship and Software” relate to one another in an atmosphere where software is increasingly politicised:

Lawrence Lessig came to understand the power of software to construct and shape our world when he was (briefly) “special master” during the Microsoft antitrust case. As he later put it to me, “[Y]ou can code software however you want, to produce whatever kind of product you want. And that capability is unique with software: you can’t, for instance, say that an automobile will be something that is a transmission and a radio wrapped in one. But you can do exactly that with software, because software is so plastic.”

As such, he added, the Microsoft case was just “a particular example of a more general point about how you need to understand the way in which technology and policy interact.”

Yet, as more and more of our lives are organised and controlled by computers, and the role that software plays in society becomes increasingly central, most people still assume that the virtual world that opens up before them when they switch on the computer, and the choices they are offered onscreen, is how things are and ought to be — not a consequence of the way in which the underlying software has been coded.

People who use Microsoft software are completely controlled by the political inclinations of Microsoft and those governments which Microsoft collaborates with (basically just about any government, for the sake of profit). The recent stories from Russia [1, 2, 3] were a shocking reminder of it and the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) reports that “Microsoft Shuts off HTTPS in Hotmail for Over a Dozen Countries”. As André Rebentisch put it, “Hotmail does not offer https for authoritarian nations” and here are the nations in short:

According to an EFF deeplink Hotmail apparently disabled the https default option for its users who set their location to the following nations: Bahrain, Morocco, Algeria, Syria, Sudan, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Congo, Myanmar, Nigeria, Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan,

Brad explains why “Political Activists Need Linux” — a subject we addressed here many times before.

Over and over again I have stressed the advice of computer security experts: if you must use Windows, do NOT use Internet Explorer. And I’ll go one step further: if you have any reason to believe you may be targeted for attack — either because of your political beliefs, or your business activities — then stop using Windows.

There is also an interpretation from Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols. Here we have yet another example of Microsoft harming computer users. Won’t people learn from Egypt about how governments identify and arrest the opposition following surveillance?

Why Microsoft’s Guy Miguel de Icaza Pushes for C# at Apple, Which is Not Successful

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 6:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The best way to prepare is to write programs, and to study great programs that other people have written. In my case, I went to the garbage cans at the Computer Science Center and I fished out listings of their operating systems.”

Bill Gates

“We’ve always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”

Steve Jobs

Summary: Continued Mono lobby in Apple’s platforms; The empires of ripoff show their continued exploitation of freely-shareable and free/open source-implemented ideas

WHEN MICROSOFT MVP Miguel de Icaza is not praising Microsoft software like Silver Lie and Moon Lie (he is still at it, delivering on Microsoft’s contract/agreement with his employer) he is also promoting hypePad like it’s a badge of honour. He wants to popularise Microsoft’s C# (Java ripoff) on Apple products. That’s what he does. He promotes C# under the guise of ‘open source’ (Mono) and he is still boosting Monospace, which was organised by fellow Microsoft MVPs. It is clear what they are up to. It’s a case of assimilation (to Microsoft), which they also have a go at when it comes to Linux-powered platforms (making mobile Linux more C#-dependent). Aside from that, in Twitter (de Icaza snubs Identi.ca), he apparently defends Apple’s side and mocks GPLv3 in light of this news:

The upcoming release of Mac OS X 10.7 Lion Server will remove the formerly bundled open source Samba software and replace it with Apple’s own tools for Windows file sharing and network directory services.

One thing that Apple and Microsoft have in common is that they dislike GPLv3 and that says a lot. GPLv3 defangs software patents lovers, so those who dislike GPLv3 are often pushing for patent monopolies and software riddled with patent traps (such as Mono).

As an aside, regarding Apple, Robert Pogson explains why Apple is not a success based on grounds measured by the GNU/Linux world (freedom for example) and even market share.

Less than 2% MacOS usage in Asia, Africa and South America… Is that success?

Ballmer’s own slide shows this:

Ballmer's slide on Macs and GNU/Linux

Apple may be popular in some Western countries, but that’s about it. Linux is a major rival to Apple, especially in phones, tablets, portable gadgets, etc. Sooner or later people realise that Apple is just a badge and that Apple’s staff cannot even deal with DST properly (not even in 2011!). To quote the MSBBC:

Some iPhone owners were heading in to work late on Monday after a glitch caused their alarms to malfunction.

Users found their wake-up alert coming one hour late, one hour early or not at all.

The problem, related to the clocks going forward for British Summer Time, does not appear to have affected everyone.

Apple has yet to comment on what caused it, but similar problems have previously hit iPhones in the US.

Maybe Apple is not reusing enough Free software. A lot of Apple’s code is derived from code it merely exploited and contributed almost nothing to (Apple’s version is proprietary). Who would wish to support such a company by rewarding it for these deeds?

When Microsoft Changes International Law to Make GNU/Linux Illegal

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Law, Microsoft at 6:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Collage

Summary: Microsoft’s distortion of the law goes more global with the attempt to marginalise freedom in software using legal instruments, not technical merit

IT IS easy to beat the competition when it can simply be called illegal or borderline criminal and in a later post we are going to write about Microsoft’s use of software patents to do exactly that. Over in New Zealand (see background) Microsoft has been lobbying to make software patents legal — a lobby/fight that New Zealand carries on fighting against, even in the face of Microsoft- and IBM-backed lobbyists and the patent lawyers of those companies from overseas. One of them, a person among “lawyers at Chapman Tripp,” is still betraying New Zealand by trying to convince his government that giving multinationals a monopoly on algorithms would be a good thing. IDG prints this baloney, which in some sense validates opinions on technical matters courtesy of legalese experts (one of whom, Mr. Quinn, keeps on daemosing open source right now because it a threat to those who make a living from litigation). Here is a taste of the baloney:

Champions of software patents are urging Parliament to revisit the ban on patenting “computer programs” in the presently drafted amendments to the Patents Act 1953. They suggest the law as it stands will be unclear and will possibly contravene existing international agreements.

What international agreements will these be? Some speculative consent to sell out sovereignty, a la South Korea? People of New Zealand don’t fall for it. As one person from New Zealand told us recently, over there it is still the people who control the government, not the other way around, and that is increasingly rare. In Western parts of the world the balance of power long ago shifted and evidence of this exists in the fact that companies like Microsoft break the law in its existing form and in order to make themselves more powerful. This last example of it shows how Microsoft wants to criminalise not selling Windows. As Brad puts it, “Do You Sell to Washington State? Dump Microsoft.”

If you sell products or services to any customers in the state of Washington, you need to be aware of a new legal liability you might face. (Obligatory disclaimer: I Am Not A Lawyer, and this is not legal advice.) Microsoft has successfully lobbied to get new legislation passed there, in their home state, that will allow your customers to be sued if you use any “stolen IT” (Information Technology).

Microsoft keeps distorting the system (legalised bribery through lobbying) and it is starting to attack the customers for some extra income, as Groklaw explains: “But the real question is, Why? Why is Microsoft doing this? Does Microsoft need a new revenue stream, now that folks are switching to smartphones instead of PCs? Or is it something worse, something Machiavellian? I ask that because I noticed two things, one, that Microsoft said that it came up with the laws because it is dissatisfied with patent law and two, something odd and frankly alarming in the Washington State version of this bill that leads me to suspect that this is Microsoft’s Plan B in its litigation storm against Linux — its Ace in the hole in case the Supreme Court decides that its software is unpatentable.

“Not that Microsoft would mind having more than one way to harass Linux and it competitors in general, or two revenue streams without having to actually work to make better products. I’d like to show you how Open Source is deliberately excluded, though, a deliberate carve out.”

That is part of a long and fascinating post from Pamela Jones. For a shorter version of what Microsoft is scheming, see Edmundo Carmona’s “Is Microsoft trying to equate selling computers without Windows to software piracy as a new world policy?”

Very recently (as recently as 23rd of March) there was a small event in Mexico. An independent computer builder and a Microsoff legal representative had a meeting at the Legal Direction of Mexico’s National Institute of Author’s Rights. Apparently Microsoft wanted to make a statement specifying that they could take any legal action Microsoft considered pertinent given the builder’s lack of a Microsoft certificate of authenticity or original license included along with a computer built/sold by the independent builder. The builder states that given that they sell their computers with Free Software instead of Windows, the software has licenses and that Microsoft doesn’t have anything to complain about given that they don’t own copyrights for said software.

Greed knows no bounds, said Microsoft at one stage. The hypocrites. As Robert Pogson explains and as everyone else so well knows, counterfeiting has been beneficial if not essential to the monopoly. To use Pogson’s new words:

Illegal copying is just one of the means that non-free software suppresses the distribution of Free Software. It is similar to the tactic of making sure that only non-free software is found on retail shelves. Free Software is not about price but freedom to run, examine, modify and distribute software, something anathema to some big names in the industry of selling licences to software. Because of the four freedoms, Free Software tends to have a low price and purveyors of non-free software treat illegal copying of their software as an advertising cost.

There is no limit to how much Microsoft will distort the truth and distort the law (through lobbying) just to ensure it can squeeze out more money out of the population, which Microsoft software is controlling. Well, ideally, the user/population should control the software i uses.

Links 29/3/2011: Beta of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.1, Bodhi Linux 1.0.0 is Out

Posted in News Roundup at 5:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • The Issues With The Linux Kernel DRM, Continued

      Yesterday Linus voiced his anger towards DRM, once again.

    • Upstart Improved Documentation and New Features for Ubuntu Natty Release

      “Jobs and Events are the primary Upstart concepts,” writes James Hunt Ubuntu Upstart maintainer at Canonical. “The version of Upstart provided with Ubuntu Natty provides a new “initctl” command “show-config” which when coupled with a new tool “initctl2dot” allows these interactions to be understood visually.”

    • Linux Foundation 20th Anniversary of Linux Campaign and Video Contest

      It’s the 20th Anniversary of Linux in August and the Linux Foundation is kicking off celebrations at The Collaboration Summit which takes place April 6-8, 2011 at the Hotel Kabuki in San Francisco. A highlight of the campaign is the annual Video Contest, which this year focuses on the 20 year celebration and will be judged by Linux Linus Torvalds himself.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Gallium3D’s LLVMpipe Under LLVM 2.9

        Version 2.9 of the Low-Level Virtual Machine is set to be released in a little more than a week, but what will it mean much for users in terms of performance? We will be looking at the LLVM 2.9 and Clang performance in the coming days (along with GCC 4.6, which was just released). We are beginning this weekend by providing a look at how using LLVM 2.9 affects the performance of the Mesa Gallium3D LLVMpipe driver relative to the previous LLVM 2.6, 2.7, and 2.8 releases.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Gnome 3 – This is the end, it seems

        I believe Gnome 2.X will be the last version of Gnome I will be using, at least based on my current findings, but hey, anything can change. And despite major progress with KDE, I’m not looking forward to the inevitable switch down the road, should the jab come to stab.

  • Distributions

    • The King of Linux Distros

      How is Debian the king of Linux distros

      As with everything else in software, every distro is much loved by its followers and there is great difference of opinion on which is the best of linux distros. Debian is a point in example of what a good linux distro should be and is the template for almost every other distro to have ever appeared. Hence the discussion was more on how powerful the features of Debian are rather than proving others are no match to this classic distro. Almost every distro has powerful features that set the tone for the entire distro to develop and evolve. Debian is perhaps the only linux distro that is so feature rich that every feature by itself can be spun into an effective application or tweaked to become another distro.

    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

      • Beta version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.1

        Less than five months after releasing Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.0, Linux distributor Red Hat has now announced the beta phase of the first RHEL6 update. As usual in this phase of the RHEL version families’ seven to ten-year life cycle, minor release 6.1 offers not only bug fixes and minor improvements, but also various new functions and hardware drivers.

      • Fedora

        • How Many People Use GNU/Linux? Lots!

          According to Wikipedia, 2,350,000 hits came from Fedora of 111,806,000 hits that came from GNU/Linux (including Android/Linux). Unfortunately some of Fedora’s counts may be for multiple IP addresses to the same machine (DHCP), and some of the machines could be servers.

        • Update on Fedora 15 Development – GNOME 3 Shell Updates

          I’ve been keeping up with Fedora 15 development. I installed a nightly build on my wife’s dual-boot computer. I setup a Fedora 15 KVM virtual machine in preparation for my remix compose… which isn’t quite there yet.

    • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Community Wallpapers for Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Released, The Best Collection So Far IMO

          Community contributed wallpapers collection for Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwhal” is finally released. The collection include 17 brand new wallpapers and this latest set of community contributed wallpapers for Ubuntu is definitely the best so far in my opinion.

        • Uplink, Darwinia released on Ubuntu Software Centre

          Introversion Software, indie developer of hits Darwinia and Uplink, have now launched the aforementioned titles on the Ubuntu Software Centre. The titles are currently selling for US$10 each.

        • Are there 10 reasons to upgrade to 10.10?

          But, as I asked before… Are there 10 reasons to upgrade to 10.10? Probably not. Canonical itself says that most improvements in 10.10 compared to 10.04 are related to netbooks, cloud computing, photo applications and fonts. Are you netbook user? If you’re working on 10.04 and happy with it, why worry? Just use whatever fits you better. Don’t get into arms race!

        • How about a Ubuntu LTS Backports repository?
        • How About Firefox 4′s Panorama Like Workspace Manager in Ubuntu Unity?
        • Ubuntu will not default to installing Flash
        • Ubuntu Software Center Lets You Test-Drive Applications Without Installing Them [Ubuntu 11.04]

          Ubuntu Software Center got a really cool feature in Ubuntu 11.04: it lets you test drive applications without having to install them.

        • Ubuntu: Even the Computer-Averse Can Use It

          Yesterday, I was talking to one of my relatives (whom I shall refer to as $relative) about computers, and I inquired as to whether $relative was still using Ubuntu 10.04 LTS “Lucid Lynx” that I had installed on $relative’s laptop shortly before I left for college. Do note that $relative is pretty computer-averse when it comes to anything other than using a browser or using a productivity suite. To my surprise, $relative said yes! I also asked if $relative’s printing issues were sorted out, because the printer connected is made by Lexmark, and Lexmark printers play as badly with Linux as Broadcom wireless cards do (i.e. they don’t mix). To my further surprise, $relative said yes again!

        • New Ubuntu/Canonical Web Ads Up and Running

          These ads were spotted running on www.theregister.co.uk through Google/DoubleClick ad services.

        • F-PROT Antivirus ‘Fire & Ice’ Software Certified on Ubuntu 10.04

          FRISK Software International, the developer of the world famous F-PROT Anti-virus ‘Fire & Ice’ family of software, is proud to announce that the Virus Bulletin has certified its Home and Enterprise editions on Ubuntu, Long-Term Support Version 10.04. Ubuntu is one of the leading Linux distributions and is maintained by Canonical Ltd., an Open Source software company founded by Mark Shuttleworth.

        • Flavours and Variants

          • Many a Tux Do Not Exist

            In case you didn’t know, Wikipedia articles are case sensitive. The page that had stuck around for about two weeks was located at Bodhi_Linux. Another of our users (not realizing we already had one) put up another page with the title Bodhi_linux. This page was correctly flagged as a duplicate and promptly deleted – the issue? The moderator that deleted the duplicated page also took a look at previous page and this moderator decided there was not enough about the project there for the page to exist. Never mind the fact that it had already been up for two weeks and had already been approved by another moderator.

          • Bodhi Linux sticks with design principles

            After your first fifty distribution reviews, a certain ennui creeps in. Most have the same selection of software, and GNOME or KDE for a desktop, and, if they are new, are derived from Ubuntu. Under these circumstances, features worth writing about tend to be rare. That is why Bodhi Linux has been attracting attention from reviewers — because it has actually done a few things differently.

            Not that Bodhi is revolutionary. You can find other distributions with small footprints, such as Puppy Linux or Damn Small Linux, and other distributions such as Elive that use the Enlightenment window manager as a desktop. However, except for using Ubuntu’s Lucid repositories for packages, Bodhi’s choices are not exactly routine, either, and their integration are enough to make Bodhi stand out among the army of clones that are the typical modern distribution.

          • Review: Bodhi Linux 1.0.0

            Hats off to Jeff Hoogland and the Bodhi Linux team!

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Foremay ships world’s smallest solid state disk

      Foremay is shipping a NAND solid state drive (SSD) claimed to be the world’s smallest SSD “disk-on-chip.” Its OC177 DOC chip measures only 0.87 x 0.87 x 0.07 inches (22 x 22 x 1.8mm), supports standard IDE or SATA host interfaces, and is available in 32GB capacities, with a read/write speed of up to 70/40MB/sec, says the company.

    • Phones

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Hands on: Google Chrome OS netbook review

        We first glimpsed the CR-48 prototype Google Chrome OS netbook at CES in January and they’ve finally appeared in the UK courtesy of the Big G.

      • Asus’ Eee Pad Transformer Is a Notebook in Disguise

        Asus’ latest swing at the tablet scene is the Eee Pad Transformer, a Honeycomb tablet that can be combined with an optional keyboard docking station that turns it into a notebook computer, more or less. The Transformer’s guts seem to be on par with most other Honeycomb tablets in the field, but will its keyboard accessory be enough to make it stand out in an increasingly crowded space?

    • Tablets

      • Acer locates ‘missing’ tablet strategy
      • 2011: Revolution in IT

        That is all changing with the move to notebooks and smart thingies. Notebooks are over 50% of shipping units and smart thingies shipments are expected to exceed x86-like PCs in 2011. This has changed how people use their person computers and how IT is done. More people are using stuff from outside the monopoly at home and bringing it to work. I saw it last year, out in the bush… People were bringing all kinds of web-enabled gadgets to school even though there were rules against doing so for students. Many of the gadgets were from Apple but now Android/Linux and other Linux variations are appearing.

      • Neat Product, Awful Price

        The floodgates of products that look somewhat like “normal” personal computers but run ARM and Android/Linux are cracking open. One by ASUS is great but priced too high for wide adoption. ASUS and others do want to recoup costs of development and there is a market for “new” at any price.

      • The first great Android Tablet: Nook Color

        Let’s get real. There are only two great tablets out there today: Apple’s iPad and the iPad 2. Android has always had the potential to be a wonderful tablet operating system, but most Android tablets have been non-starters and, even the best of them, the Samsung Galaxy Tab aren’t as good as an iPad. But, the iPad may soon have a serious Android opponent: Barnes & Noble’s Nook Color.

      • Customizable tablets and panel PCs run Linux, Android

        Sparkpad has begun selling customizable display computers at sizes ranging from eight to 15 inches, complete with a touch-ready, Lua-based Linux SDK and promised Android support. Sparkpad’s Wi-Fi enabled tablets and panel PCs run on ARM11-based Telechips 8902 processors, and are touted as enabling customers to develop and deploy their own touch panels, digital signage systems, and tablets quickly.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Awards Highlight Impact of Open Source Software

    It’s hard to beat stellar earnings as proof of a technology’s business value, and Red Hat provided that for Linux with its Q4 report last week. Adding further fuel to the celebratory open source fires over the past few days, however, have been several batches of awards recognizing the global impact of various free software projects and contributors.

  • Documentation and free software

    As a former technical writer and a sometime reviewer of software, I don’t need anyone to tell me how important documentation is — nor how often it is the last part of a project if it is considered at all. But recently, I had a frustrating reminder.

    The reminder came when I was setting up my new computer. All went smoothly through my backup, installation, and restore, during which I suffered nothing worse than boredom. I was just wrapping up the final touches, indulging in the obligatory musings about how, these days, I hardly had to worry about GNU/Linux hardware compatibility — when, suddenly, I found myself in undocumented territory.

  • Open Goldberg Variations Raises $16,000 in 20 Days for “Open Source Bach”
  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • I’m not jumping on Firefox 4 or GNOME 3 just yet
      • The Day Firefox Left IE in the Dust

        Firefox 4′s victory is “just another sign that Microsoft is past its prime when it comes to generating excitement,” opined Barbara Hudson, a blogger on Slashdot. “For decades users have internalized the ‘upgrading Microsoft products can put you in a world of hurt’ meme: ‘What I’ve got works. Let someone else be the guinea pig.’ Can you blame them?”

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Education

    • Computers in the Classroom

      I recommended some changes that could be made:

      * Using GNU/Linux would reduce licensing costs and improve performance,
      * using thin clients would reduce the workload of staff while improving performance, and
      * mounting monitors and thin clients on the wall might make better use of space.

      A lot of FLOSS has been written by teachers and used by teachers in just such situations. It works for us.

    • How to Sell Linux to Schools

      In my view the best Linux distro for the job of being used in a school which is both fast and user-friendly would have to be Ubuntu, as it has a great community and lots of support available. Certainly the Ubuntu distro which I would chose would have to Lucid Lynx (10.04) which is a Long Term Support (normally called LTS)distro meaning that it will be updated as much as possible for around 3 to 4 years by the Ubuntu developers and community. In some respects Linux Mint 9 would be a better choice for schools because most children and teenagers won’t have tried Linux before and Mint is more like Windows in the menu aspect of it. Mint is also a spin-off of Ubuntu so it is like it in many ways including the Software Center and the different applications available for it alongside the the ability to install .deb files easily.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • The pragmatism of free software idealism

      “Propriety and single interest divides the people of a land and the whole world into parties and is the cause of all wars and bloodshed and contention everywhere” – Gerrard Winstanley, 1649

      “If you want to accomplish something in the world, idealism isn’t enough – you need to choose a method that works to achieve the goal. In other words, you need to be pragmatic” – Richard Stallman

      Free software is and was an idealistic proposition. Its aim was to change the world and the way we live, work and play, albeit with particular reference to computer programs and the way they are put together.

      In the beginning, the idea that software should be free was deemed unrealistic and laughable, and then unworkable. Now, for the most part, it is deemed acceptable and desirable – not just as a workable approach to writing software, but as a means of writing better software.

      Free and open source software is no longer a fringe movement. But, as Dan Cohen points out, “if the movement toward shared digital openness,” (he is also writing about the wider issues of open access and digital freedom), “seems like a single groundswell, it masks an underlying tension between pragmatism and idealism.”

  • Licensing

    • RMS weighs into Google GPL debate

      Free Software Foundation chairman Richard Stallman has weighed into the debate over whether Google may be guilty of a GPL violation or not by saying that what the search giant has done is not limited by copyright.

    • Open sourcers urged to adopt dancing poultry license

      In an effort to revolutionize the world of open source, a free software advocate has submitted a new license to the Open Source Initiative. The document is two years in the making, and it’s known as the CDL, short for Chicken Dance License.

    • Google’s ‘clean’ Linux headers: Are they really that dirty?

      The trouble with open source is that most coders aren’t lawyers and most lawyers aren’t coders. And even if everyone did wear both hats, there would still be ample room for disagreement. The law, you must remember, is subjective.

      Two intellectual-property lawyers have told the world that Android is at risk of legal attack because it uses Googly versions of the original Linux header files. But Linux daddy Linus Torvalds says this is “totally bogus”. The truth lies somewhere in between. But good luck finding it.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • The Freeloading Digital Economy

      This is the terrible bargain of free content: in exchange for content we don’t have to pay for, everyone pays in crappy content, ads masquerading as news and reviews, and wholesale invasion and exploitation of our privacy and personal business. We already have crappy advertiser-controlled TV and radio, why would anyone want to extend that to movies, books, and music?

      Jose_X wrote an interesting comment on the hurdles to making money in a digital economy. This shiny new digital marketplace is completely nuts, and I think it’s going to settle into a tip jar economy, which Jose_X talked about, whether we want it that way or not. It’s already most of the way there because despite the best efforts of the brainiacs at Sony, RIAA, MPAA, and our other beloved titans of the entertainment and publishing industries, treating copyright infringement like shoplifting doesn’t work.

      Digital copying and distribution are so easy, and making people pay for it is so hard, it seems obvious that trying to keep the old retail model going is not going to work. Market value is irrational in so many ways. I think digital media should be worth more– you can copy it to multiple devices and modify it in all kinds of ways to suit your own needs, for example run an ebook through a reader so you can listen to it, get glorious color copies without the high cost of color printing, print out just the pages you want, copy and paste and assemble selected passages onto one page. With movies and music you can erase the dirty words if that is your desire, do-it-yourself karaoke, put yourself in the movie, convert them to lower-fi formats, store thousands of them on a single small computer, copy to multiple devices. It’s the ultimate in convenience and flexibility.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Document Freedom Day 2011

      “In cooperation with the Dutch Digital heritage Foundation and the Club for History and ICT, we will be celebrating Document Freedom Day 2011 in Royal Library (National Library for the Netherlands) in The Hague this year on March 30th. The theme for this event will be “Open Heritage”. The importance of information and open formats is in this branche very well known, because of broad availability, openness of information and endurable access.

Leftovers

  • Science

    • Scottish invention ‘improves phone storage’

      Scottish researchers have helped to create a device which improves memory storage for technology including MP3s, smartphones and cameras.

    • Understanding Parallel Computing: Amdahl’s Law

      More cores mean better performance, right? That’s not what Amdahl says. Learn one of the foundations of parallel computing in “Amdahl’s Law.” Prepare yourself for math. And lawn mowing.

    • Security

    • Defence/Police/Aggression

      • Sudan to unleash cyber jihadists

        Sudan’s ruling National Congress Party has warned that its “cyber jihadists” will “crush” internet-based dissent.

        It follows an increase in anti-government campaigns organised on Facebook and Twitter.

        Senior NCP official Mandur al-Mahdi warned opposition groups that its “cyber battalion” was leading “online defence operations”.

    • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

      • Adorable loris videos: maimed, tortured, dying endangered trafficked animals on YouTube

        You may be one of the millions of people who’ve enjoyed videos of slow lorises behaving adorably while being tickled or clutching tiny cocktail umbrellas. However, according to animal rights activists, these endangered lorises have been illegally trafficked, brutally mutilated, and are doomed to die from infection, covered in their own feces and urine.

    • Finance

      • The Collapse of Globalization

        They presage growing misery for hundreds of millions of people who find themselves trapped in failed states, suffering escalating violence and crippling poverty.

        They presage increasingly draconian controls and force—take a look at what is being done to Pfc. Bradley Manning—used to protect the corporate elite who are orchestrating our demise.

    • Privacy

      • France fines Google over Street View data blunder

        Google has been hit with a fine by France’s privacy watchdog CNIL over the personal data it mistakenly gathered when setting up Street View.

        The £87,000 (100,000 euro) penalty is the largest ever handed out by CNIL.

      • No Privacy on Amazon’s Cloud Drive

        Don’t believe me? Read the Amazon Cloud Drive Terms of Use for yourself. In particular, take a glance at: Section 5.2:

        “5.2 Our Right to Access Your Files. You give us the right to access, retain, use and disclose your account information and Your Files: to provide you with technical support and address technical issues; to investigate compliance with the terms of this Agreement, enforce the terms of this Agreement and protect the Service and its users from fraud or security threats; or as we determine is necessary to provide the Service or comply with applicable law”

    • DRM

      • US hacker denies fleeing justice

        The American hacker who unlocked Sony’s PS3 has denied fleeing the country to avoid legal action.

        George Hotz, also known as Geohot, said his trip had been planned for months and added that he was still in contact with his lawyers.

        Sony had raised questions about the reason for his sudden disappearance in recent legal papers that it filed in California.

    • Digital Economy (UK)/HADOPI

      • Digital Act heads to High Court

        Parts of the Digital Economy Act that deal with illegal file-sharing are being challenged in the High Court.

        Internet providers BT and TalkTalk demanded the judicial review, arguing that the legislation was rushed through parliament without proper debate.

Clip of the Day

Customising The GDM Login Screen


Credit: TinyOgg

Links 29/3/2011: IBM Celebrates Linux, Android Gets Java Father

Posted in News Roundup at 8:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Editor’s Note: Picking Ourselves Up, Dusting Ourselves Off
  • IBM

    • The Era of Open Innovation

      In 2011, Linux is a fundamental component of IBM business—embedded deeply in hardware, software, services and internal development. It is present in every IBM business, geography and workload, and its use only continues to increase.

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • REVIEW: GhostBSD 2.0 (LiveCD)

        Looking at GhostBSD from the view of a migrating Windows user, again there is nothing wrong with what’s on offer here but I think for someone who has led a Windows lifestyle, they are going to want more “bells and whistles”. I say that though with a little reservation since I have seen nothing from the developers which suggests its specifically aimed at such a user.

        For established Linux users, again, I cannot see anything which would tempt them over. I say that not to create flame as I would really love to say that GhostBSD offers something really special, much hard work has obviously gone into this but as it stands I can best sum up the distro as: stable, solid and “does what it says on the tin”.

        The homepage for GhostBSD is certainly starting to look the part. I say starting because it has typos and incomplete sections to it. I would stress that this is not a harsh criticism because a lot of hard work has gone into the distro and its very generous of the GhostBSD devs to spend their time working on this great project. With that in mind I think new users will not be filled with confidence in a project where the site intended to promote it has so many obvious errors and omissions. This is a shame because GhostBSD is in no way lacking functionality or stability and I think errors on its homepage will undersell GhostBSD.

        In closing, I would expect it’s a welcome release for established GhostBSD users but new users may find that it’s neither polished or packaged as fully as they would like.

    • Red Hat Family

      • S&P 500′s Top Performers :RHT , NVDA , MU

        Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) is the S&P 500′s top performer this morning with the stock trading at $46.77 representing 17.01% versus the previous trading session. Shares of Red Hat, the world’s leading open source technology solutions provider have defined support at $38.47 and resistance at $41.98.

      • Red Hat Global Support Team Honored as a Leader in Support Excellence
      • Piper Jaffray Reiterates OW Rating, $57 PT On RHT

        “Strong demand for open source Cloud infrastructure drove billings growth of 31%, materially above consensus of 17%. Results correlated to our recent survey findings, which indicated resellers finished above plan and observed an improving pace of business,” Piper Jaffray writes. “We see ongoing catalysts, as inroads into the large Windows market have only just begun and RHEL6 adoption won’t peak for 6 to 12 months.

      • Red Hat profit up as sales increase 25%

        Red Hat Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!rht/quotes/nls/rht (RHT 46.09, -0.25, -0.54%) said Wednesday its fourth-quarter net income rose to $33.5 million, or 17 cents a share, compared to $23.4 million, or 12 cents a share in the same period a year earlier. The provider of open-source business software said total revenue for the period ended Feb. 28 rose 25% to $244.8 million. On an adjusted basis, Red Hat said earnings for the quarter were 26 cents a share. Red Hat said earnings benefited by 2 cents share in the quarter, thanks to the U.S. research tax credit. Analysts polled by FactSet Research had expected Red Hat to report adjusted earnings of 22 cents a share, and $235.9 million in revenue.

      • Red Hat, Micron climb after financial reports

        Investors sent shares of Red Hat Inc. and Micron Technology Inc. higher Tuesday evening after each company issued quarterly results that surpassed Wall Street’s projections.

      • Red Hat Close to Resistance
      • Red Hat Closes in on $1 Billion in Revenue

        Three years ago, Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) CEO Jim Whitehurst predicted that his company would be the first pure-play open source vendor to hit $1 billion in revenues. Red Hat is now nearly there.

    • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Ubuntu technical board: no non-free software by default
        • Ubuntu nixes Netbook Remix for good, starting Natty Narwhal

          Canonical has nixed Ubuntu Netbook Remix from it’s plans, and it will not appear starting version 11.04, which is also Natty Narwhal. So we say goodbye to an experiment that lasted a few distros at the time netbooks were the “in-thing.”

          The core around Ubuntu Netbook Remix will now be integrated an edition called Ubuntu Desktop edition for laptops, Ubuntu said in a blog entry on March 9.

        • Flavours and Variants

          • AriOS Review – Yet Another Ubuntu Derived Linux Distro

            Recently, the distribution AriOS made it to DistroWatch’s database. I had read Dedoimedo’s review of AriOS earlier, where he said that it is a user-friendly and very pleasant distribution to use, and it is much better than its predecessor mFatOS. Intrigued, I decided to try it out.

          • Tux Which Does Not Exist…

            I managed to get Zorin OS 4 distributive downloaded. This OS has several versions, and some of them are not free. You need either purchase DVD with distributive or donate to get a download link. But there are still Core and some other versions available for free. Moreover, Core is available in 32 and 64 bit. My choice was for 32 bit.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • LiMo 4 spec adds support for Linux tablets

      The LiMo Foundation says it has approved four mobile device class specifications for the LiMo 4 mobile Linux stack. Citing first-time tablet support plus three different smartphone specs, the Foundation projects commercial releases within multiple LiMo classes starting in the second half of this year.

    • Phones

      • Nokia/MeeGo/Maemo

      • Android

        • Google Holds Honeycomb Tight

          In the great mobile-device wars, Google (GOOG) has portrayed itself as the open-source crusader doing battle against the leaders in proprietary software—Apple (AAPL), Microsoft (MSFT), and Research In Motion (RIM:CN).

          Unlike its rivals, Google makes the underlying code for its popular Android operating system publicly available, and anyone can access it and tailor it for use in mobile phones, tablets, television set-top boxes, even automobiles.

        • Java creator hangs his shingle at Google

          The Java world got a bit of a surprise this morning when Java creator James Gosling revealed that he is now working for Google.

          In his blog entry today, Gosling announced the news in brief fashion:

          “Through some odd twists in the road over the past year, and a tardis encountered along the way, I find myself starting employment at Google today. One of the toughest things about life is making choices. I had a hard time saying ‘no’ to a bunch of other excellent possibilities.”

          One can only imagine the opportunities Gosling has been offered since he left his former employer Oracle last year. But Google, it seems, is his next landing pad.

        • Android on top in the US, Microsoft in decline

          he latest quarterly statistics showing US smartphone market share show Microsoft’s task with Windows Phone 7 is daunting, as the new OS is already losing ground. The latest US smartphones figures from comScore cover November of last year through the end of January, and while the figures are largely as expected the drop of market share by Microsoft is a bit of a surprise.

        • The Android OS Update Problem

          The reasons that Android phones are either slow to get system updates, or fail to get them entirely are pretty clear. The process of getting an update ready to push to a handset is decidedly non-trivial:

          1. Google creates, tests and releases a system update.
          2. Handset manufacturers take the system update and apply their vendo-specific tweaks to it (MotoBlur, HTC Sense, etc.), then test it on their various devices.
          3. Carriers then test the update, certify it, and push it out to the handsets.

        • Google Announces Nexus S 4G
        • Motorola XOOM Wi-Fi Coming To Canada This April

          Motorola Xoom Wi-Fi, the Android-powered tablet will be available in Canada this April.

        • Why Android Could Help Amazon and the Kindle Threaten the iPad

          Quick, across the entire history of Amazon, and all the types of products that the site has sold, what is its top selling product ever? The answer is that the Kindle eBook reader is, and that feat was attained while the Kindle functioned as a reading device, without the bells and whistles found on popular tablet devices. No Harry Potter book or other product comes close to the sales Amazon has reaped from the Kindle, and those sales have, of course, driven sales of lots of content from Amazon. For these reasons, and because of the increasing unpopularity of Apple’s policies regarding in-app purchasing, the Kindle could emerge as the biggest competitor to Apple’s iPad, if Amazon plays its cards right.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source Junction: cross-platform mobile apps

    The open source mobile app space is getting increasingly crowded. The recent opportunities for developers to produce and distribute mobile apps through a range of app stores is taking the developer world by storm. If, as the saying goes, all people dream of writing a poem at least once in a lifetime, then perhaps there aren’t many developers out there either who haven’t dreamed of building a great mobile app themselves.

  • Why What FOSS Needs is a Unified Message

    Of course, the FOSS movement has had notable leaders over the years, ranging from Linus Torvalds to Richard Stallman, but there is no single charismatic leader who regularly keeps open source and open standards topics alive in public conversations. While one person with enough charisma might make a big difference, though, what FOSS really needs is more unified messaging, and on the commercial open source front, more unified marketing.

  • Open source communities: trust vs. control

    u can succeed in starting an open source community:

    * Be honest with those people you are trying to recruit about your reasons for working in open source. Clearly state your goals and how you will measure success for yourself and the community.
    * Contribute your code, but accept improvements or better solutions.
    * Give up sole control of the project to a more democratic leadership in order to get a better code base that you can use, at a lower development cost to yourself. Don’t stack the leadership group with cronies or puppets.
    * Don’t act like a prima donna just because you started the project.
    * Trust that if you and everyone else plays fairly but works hard, you’ll get something of great value that many can use.

  • FFmpeg Becomes Multi-Threaded Happy

    Last week following a dispute among several core FFmpeg developers, FFmpeg was forked as libav. The group remaining in the “FFmpeg” this week have now merged the ffmpeg-mt branch to their SVN trunk code-base. This is the code that’s been worked on now for nearly three years to provide multi-threaded decoding support in FFmpeg.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS

  • Education

    • How To: Founding an Open Source Software Center at a University

      Raising open source awareness in any organization is a very important, and sometimes difficult, task. Particularly important is open source awareness among college students. These are the engineers and computer scientists of the next generation who will be able to usher these modern practices into their workplace. This article discusses the process that was used to form the Rensselaer Center for Open Source (RCOS), a very successful open source center at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI).

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Programming

    • Tiny Core Fraud on Source Forge

      If you watch new projects that are added to source forge then two weeks ago you might have noticed that Tiny Core Linux was added to their projects.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Open Network Foundation to Promote New Network Architecture

      This morning brings news of what may become another new and important consortium – the Open Network Foundation (ONF). This time the goal is to adapt network architecture to streamline its interoperation with cloud computing. And while the news is intriguing, the way in which it has been broken is a bit odd, on which more below.

Leftovers

  • [Old] IT panel endorses adopting Google
  • Science

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • China activist Liu Xianbin jailed for 10 years

      A Chinese democracy activist has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for inciting subversion of state power.

      Liu Xianbin was charged after writing a series of articles calling for democratic reforms.

      He was convicted after a trial lasting only a few hours; the third time he has been sent to jail for his activism.

      Dozens of lawyers and activists have been arrested or detained in China recently following calls for Middle East-style protests.

    • Chapeau Sarkozy – the brilliant strike against Qaddafi

      The escalation and the attack on Qaddafi’s Lybia to enforce the no-fly zone is a brilliant strategic move of Nicolas Sarkozy and the French nation. Sarkozy’s right wing challenger Marine Le Pen took a more traditional French position, and voiced scepticism in recent days. Even Internal Market Commissioner Barnier intervened in the matter, a highly unusual move for an EU official. It is common knowledge that France had good relations with Qaddafi which makes the French intervention and Sarkozy more credible. Even the abstention of Germany in the UN security council perfectly fits the scene because it strenghtened the leadership of the neighbour on the matter.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Nuclear Optimism and the Reality of How Humans Price Risk

      The cataclysm visited upon Japan this March has produced an understandable debate over the future of nuclear power. As so often is the case, however, these post-crisis conversations presume the freedom to decide new policy choices when such choices, by society, have already been made. Decades after the advent of nuclear power, this modern energy source still provides only 5% of total global primary energy supply. Reality tested, risk adjudicated, and cost denoted, nuclear power has been given more than enough time to be adopted. We can talk all we like. There is little reason for nuclear optimism. | see: Global Energy Use by Source 2010 (estimate).

  • Finance

    • Credit Unions Want Their Money Back – IRA Takes on PMI

      I got into writing financial blogs three years ago for one reason. It was the mortgage insurance industry “PMI” that got me out in the open. I saw first hand what a terrible concept this was. I saw (in advance of the problem) that PMI was going to result in a mortgage explosion for the country. Of course it did.

      I had a family member working at one of the big PMI firms. I argued with them regarding the insanity of what they were doing. Before the crisis the response was always the same, “We’re doing God’s work of getting people into their own homes. Plus we’re making a boatload in the process.”

    • Goldman Sachs’s Revelatory E-mails: 2006-2007

      It is interesting that Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, is appearing before the court as a witness for the prosecution of Rajat Gupta, ex-member of Goldman Sachs’s board. Blankfein confirmed that Gupta violated the company’s “confidentiality policies” when he gave tips to outsiders about Goldman Sachs’s financial position.

      It’s the pot calling the kettle black!

    • Goldman Sachs and the Mortgage Market

      This part of the memo ( pages 7-10 with footnotes omitted) explains Goldman Sachs’s Conflict Between Proprietary and Client Trading, and its Shorting the Mortgage Market. It is easy to see the role that Goldman Sachs played in bringing the financial system to its knees and the CEO was not above lying about the profits GS made.

    • Goldman Sachs: Here’s What You Are

      If someone described a bank by what it does rather than by what it says, he/she would find that getting high fees for risky and poor quality products is what matters; that creating junk CDOs for investors and using CDSs for making a huge profit is common practice; that taking a short position on the toxic mortgage market and thereby cashing in with billions of dollars at others’ expense is the way to do business; that taking advantage of clients’ positions and creating a conflict of interest is not material; that paying a small fine for a civil action suit where clients were not properly informed is a small price to pay for profit; and that, finally, using naked CDSs on assets it did not own to bet against the mortgage market and making huge amounts of revenue for itself shows little in the way of ethical conscience. That would be Goldman Sachs!

    • Pension funds to lead suit vs. Goldman over Abacus

      A Manhattan federal judge on Friday named three pension funds as co-lead plaintiffs in an investor lawsuit against Goldman Sachs Group Inc to recover losses tied to the Wall Street’s bank’s alleged misleading statements about Abacus, a product linked to subprime mortgages.

    • All My (Economist) Friends Get High: California Jobs

      California reported its job numbers on Friday, and once again it was not good news. Although total California employment in January “rose” to 15.905 million people, this is only because December was revised down from 15.945 million to 15.878 million people.

    • US equivalents

      IT HAS long been true that California on its own would rank as one of the biggest economies of the world. These days, it would rank eighth, falling between Italy and Brazil on a nominal exchange-rate basis. But how do other American states compare with other countries? Taking the nearest equivalent country from 2009 data reveals some surprises. Who would have thought that, despite years of auto-industry hardship, the economy of Michigan is still the same size as Taiwan’s?

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • US military creates fake online personas

      The $2.76m contract was won by Ntrepid, a Californian firm, and called for an “online persona management service” that would enable 50 military spies to manage 10 fake identities each.

      The personas should be “replete with background , history, supporting details, and cyber presences that are technically, culturally and geographacilly consistent”, a US Central Command (Centcom) tender document said.

    • Revealed: US spy operation that manipulates social media

      The US military is developing software that will let it secretly manipulate social media sites by using fake online personas to influence internet conversations and spread pro-American propaganda.

      A Californian corporation has been awarded a contract with United States Central Command (Centcom), which oversees US armed operations in the Middle East and Central Asia, to develop what is described as an “online persona management service” that will allow one US serviceman or woman to control up to 10 separate identities based all over the world.

      The project has been likened by web experts to China’s attempts to control and restrict free speech on the internet. Critics are likely to complain that it will allow the US military to create a false consensus in online conversations, crowd out unwelcome opinions and smother commentaries or reports that do not correspond with its own objectives.

    • Twitter Powers of Ten

      This is essentially the situation we find ourselves in with Twitter. They do have APIs that can be used to query their user data. But it is all “rate-limited”, meaning only a certain number of requests can be made per IP address per day. So it is impossible to get a running stream of all activity (a “video”) or even a snapshot of all activity at a single time (a “still camera”). But what we can do is access the “Twitter Public Timeline“, which will give you the most recent 20 tweets. This can be queried every 60 seconds, up to your daily limit.

      I’ve been capturing the Twitter Public Timeline since late 2009. I have now nearly 6 million records, each one containing the message, of course, but also the name of the user and their “Followers” and “Following” count at that point in time. I started doing scatter plots of this data and was amazed at the detailed structure evident in the data, that illustrate some interesting ways in which Twitter is being used. No single graph can show it all, so I’m giving you a series of charts, each one showing an area of the Following/Followers phase space 10ox larger.

    • Is Samsung’s New Galaxy Tab Fibbing About Its Figure? And About Those Galaxy Tab Fans…

      [FURTHER THOUGHTS: Did Samsung mean for us to understand that these were imaginary users or not? The more I think about it, the more befuddled I get. The Raw Feed's Mike Elgan points out that the company's PR director earnestly described the "project" during the event in a way that made it sound real. And commenter Karl notes that Samsung referred to the users' tales as "true-life stories." But the bits with Hess and Kolinski are so profoundly artificial that they could have involved Madge the Manicurist and the Maytag Repairman. Actually, Kolinski seems to be channeling a certain real-life "leading New York real-estate CEO."]

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Intellectual Property: Silly or Sinister?

      Now imagine that some lobbyists have staked out part of Antarctica and brought suit in federal court against tourists who trespassed on “their” land. Fine, you say: After all the lobbyists got there first. Replace “Antarctica” with “ideas” and you have the surreal world of “intellectual property.” Unfortunately, while you and I cannot both mine for gold in the same spot, we can certainly make use of the same idea, and therein lies the heart of this story.

      A good spot to start the tale is in 1998, when a panel of judges ruled that software was patentable, thereby starting the intellectual property equivalent of the California gold rush (State Street Bank & Trust v. Signature Financial Group). Every child knows how to answer the door: “Knock knock.” “Who is there?” But what if I taught a computer how to say, “Who is there,” and patented the idea? Absurd, you say. Well, we all understand how to run an auction—but do not try doing it with a computer because the holder of U.S. Patent 7,702,540 (also known as e-Bay) will sue you. And that in a nutshell is what software patents are all about.

    • Copyrights

      • Google Books Settlement Rejected

        We applaud the rejection by Judge Denny Chin of the Google Books class action settlement with authors and publishers regarding the digitization of books. SFLC filed a letter with the court on behalf of the Free Software Foundation and author Karl Fogel, urging the court to reject the settlement as it was last proposed and asking the court to consider the impact of the settlement upon members of the class who have distributed their works under Free licenses.

      • Judge rejects Google’s attempt to create a universal library

        Google’s vision of a universal library archiving all books ever published on Earth is once again at odds with laws protecting the authors of those books.

        A federal judge on Tuesday rejected a settlement deal Google hammered out with publishers over its controversial Google Books archive, saying the proposed agreement went too far in giving Google control over the digitalization of books.

        “The question presented is whether the [settlement agreement] is fair, adequate, and reasonable,” Judge Denny Chin of the U.S. District Court in New York City wrote in his 48-page ruling. “I conclude that it is not.”

Clip of the Day

PullQuote


Credit: TinyOgg

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