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05.08.11

Links 8/5/2011: SimplyMEPIS in the Headlines

Posted in News Roundup at 8:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Why Not Linux?

    I am always amazed that Linux isn’t more popular. It is a free operating system, is more reliable than Windows, and has many of the advantages of Macintosh. To be sure, Linux used to be more difficult to install and use than the other “big two” operating systems, but that is no longer true. Anyone who has used a recent version of Ubuntu Linux or any of several other versions of Linux will attest that those Linux distributions are now even easier to use than Windows, especially when installing new programs. Installation is a breeze. For instance, Ubuntu Linux does a better job of discovering my networking and sound boards than does Windows. Ubuntu Linux is significantly faster and easier to install than Windows; it even asks fewer technical questions during the installation process.

    Not only is Linux faster, but it is also impervious to viruses and most other forms of “malware” that plague Windows computers. If you have ever dealt with a Windows virus, you already know why Linux is better. Linux users don’t even install anti-virus software as they have no need for such protection.

  • No Linux support? An offer I can refuse

    Now, as I pay my bills online, paying one or two bills does not represent any benefit to me if it’s the same amount anyway. There is a major consideration for switching, nevertheless. This issue is support: The government agency sent a technician to help my mother once. Given the fact that this unsuspecting techie did not chicken away when he saw that my mother uses Pardus GNU/Linux and solved the problem to the best of his abilities, I decided to ask a question to the overly friendly representative on the line to assess the real service that they were offering me.

  • Server

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • 2.6.39 kernel will drop 686 flavour
    • Client Side Decorations For Wayland

      Besides OpenWF support in Wayland being talked about and on the roadmap, another item that’s been hotly discussed the past couple of days is about client side decoration support for the Wayland Display Server.

    • Graphics Stack

      • There’s An X.Org Driver For Nested X Servers

        Announced just hours ago on the X.Org development mailing list is recent work to create the xf86-video-nested driver. As implied by the name of the driver and the title of this news post, this is an X.Org video driver designed to run nested X.Org servers. In other words, X.Org on top of X.Org.

      • Speeding Up The Linux Kernel With Your GPU

        Sponsored in part by NVIDIA, at the University of Utah they are exploring speeding up the Linux kernel by using GPU acceleration. Rather than just allowing user-space applications to utilize the immense power offered by modern graphics processors, they are looking to speed up parts of the Linux kernel by running it directly on the GPU.

        From the project page: “The idea behind KGPU is to treat the GPU as a computing co-processor for the operating system, enabling data-parallel computation inside the Linux kernel. This allows us to use SIMD (or SIMT in CUDA) style code to accelerate Linux kernel functionality, and to bring new functionality formerly considered too compute intensive into the kernel. Simply put, KGPU enables vector computing for the kernel.”

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Dark, light and Openbox

      I have suffered an inordinate number of real-world issues over the last week or so, which is why I am doing such a poor job of keeping this page updated.

      I apologize for that. But in the little free time I have, I have not been idle. Here are two distros that both focus on lightweight desktop arrangements with Openbox.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • KDE Commit-Digest for 1st May 2011
      • On Stability

        KWin has been known as a rock-solid window manager in the KDE 3.5 times. I was wondering how the situation is nowadays with focus no longer on window managing but on compositing. Currently we are experiencing a major problem in combination of Intel/Mesa drivers with either fullscreen flash videos or OpenGL screensavers. Since the release of Kubuntu Natty we receive two to three new duplicates each day. In case you are experiencing this issue: do not report! Neither to us, nor to Mesa nor to (K)Ubuntu. It is a known issue and Upstream is working on a fix! As a workaround, do not use Flash to watch Youtube videos and do not use OpenGL screensavers. The issue is the most often reported bug against KWin of all time, now.

    • GNOME Desktop

  • Distributions

    • Virtual Box OS Distribution

      Using virtual Box from Oracle or any other Virtualization Software we can run one operating system inside another Operating System. For example, my computer runs on Debian Stable and I have Virtual Box in it. So I log into Debian and run the virtual Box program and install in it other operating systems, in virtual Disk Drives created by virtual box.

      This is fine, but to have more fun somebody should configure a linux, or opensolaris, or bsd distribution that opens directly into a Virtual Box Graphical User Interface. Just like the ChromeOS opens directly into the Chrome Browser, in a similar manner the Virtual Box Distribution should have Virtual Box running on top of the linux (or BSD or solaris) kernel.

    • New Releases

      • Xange 2011.06
      • Última versión estable: Canaima 3.0
      • Alpine 2.2.0 released

        The Alpine Linux project is pleased to announce immediate availability of version 2.2 of its Alpine Linux operating system.

        This release introduces several new features:

        * A new Linux kernel branch based on 2.6.38 with all of the Alpine patches either rebased or included in upstream Linux sources.
        * New support for the x86_64 architecture. Alpine 2.2 is able to efficiently take advantage of modern x86 processors supporting all available general purpose registers

      • PelicanHPC 2.4

        03 May 2011. v2.4 is available on the download page (see below). This version adds support to run better as a Virtualbox guest. Octave is at v3.4.0, added dsh, updated tutorial, general sync to Debian. Serious users should read the pelican_config file, which is in /home/user after booting up.

      • Clonezilla 1.2.8-37
      • VortexBox 1.9 released

        We are pleased to announce the release of VortexBox 1.9. This release adds updated versions of many of that packages that make VortexBox work so well. This version includes a new kernel for better hardware support. The DVD ripping package has also been improved and of course we added the latest version of SqueezeBox Server (7.5.4).

      • Scientific Linux release 4.9 has been released for i386 and x86_64.

        Scientific Linux 4.9 has been released. We want to thank all those who have contributed time helping us build and test this release. Scientific Linux 4.9 contains almost 2 years of security and bug fixes. There are no new features or packages, but it is a nice stable release.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat OpenShift Express & The Leafy Miracle

        Red Hat made a lot of awesome announcements this week at The Red Hat Summit, one of which being OpenShift.

        I had the opportunity to play with the internal beta for a little while now, and I must say that as a developer I am extremely impressed with the service. Just being able to git push my code into to the cloud drastically simplifies large-scale software deployment, and makes it so I don’t even have to leave my development environment.

      • Videos: Red Hat Summit 2011

        Red Hat held their annual Red Hat Summit and JBoss World conferences in Boston from May 3-6, 2011. I’ve yet to be able to attend a Red Hat Summit but I do search the web for information and videos from it.

        Red Hat announced a number of new developments including OpenShift (Platform as a Service) and CloudForms (Infrastructure as a Service). Basically Red Hat continues to sponsor development on a large number of open source projects and bundles them together into more comprehensive solutions. I haven’t yet done enough reading to speak intelligently about either of those… but give me some time… although they do seem primarily oriented towards the “enterprisey” folks.

      • The Tale of Red Hat’s Name!

        Version Three!

        While Marc wore a red hat in his university he became known by it. If any of his mate encountered problems in computer they used to ask Marc for help. The people who did not know him asked “Who is Marc?” and they received replies “The one in red hat!”. Therefore red hats become synonymous with technical expertise!

    • Debian Family

      • SimplyMEPIS

        • Review: SimplyMEPIS 11.0

          Yesterday, the MEPIS developers released SimplyMEPIS 11.0, a year after the release of SimplyMEPIS 8.5, which I have reviewed before. (I went back and read that review and had a pretty good laugh at how short and shallow it was. Please feel free to do the same. That said, if you feel like doing the same at this review, please explain why in the comments.) In that review, I liked that it included many codecs and useful programs out-of-the-box along with the MEPIS tools, which were basically the Linux Mint tools before Linux Mint existed. I didn’t like that Synaptic Package Manager refused to work.

          [...]

          And finally, I’ve also seen comments on reviews of software that didn’t work complaining that I didn’t talk about the nuts-and-bolts of the software or show pictures or stuff like that. If I review a piece of software that works, I post pictures of my time with that software to prove that I really did use it. If I don’t post pictures, that means the software didn’t work for whatever reason. It’s as simple as that. So from now on, if I review software that doesn’t work and you want to see pictures or read release notes, go to the software’s website, because I’m not going to post pictures here. If you want to know whether the software might work for a newbie or whether it might work on your computer’s hardware, then do come here; having used Linux for two years, I’m not a novice anymore per se, but because I’ve stuck with the newbie-friendly Linux Mint through those two years, I’m still only epsilon above novice level, so when I do reviews, it’s still from the perspective of the newbie, not from the perspective of the experienced pro.

        • SimplyMEPIS 11.0 Screen Shots – MEPIS website
        • SimplyMEPIS 11 Final Released

          As the release announcement says, “Making it your own is simple, too”. The KDE desktop and SimplyMEPIS itself are easily and extensively configurable, and whether you prefer the standard KDE desktop or the KDE Netbook desktop, a few tweaks like this can make it just right for you to use. Because MEPIS is derived from Debian, the repositories contain a vast array of applications, utilities and other software. It all adds up to a really excellent distribution.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • 8 Really Useful Ubuntu Unity Quicklists

            One of the useful features in Unity (Ubuntu Natty) is the adding of quicklists to the application icons in the launcher. For example, you can right click on the Google Chrome icon and access the option to open an incognito window, or right click the Gmail icon and select “Compose New Email” option. For those who came from the Windows background, this is very similar to the Windows 7′s taskbar jumplist.

          • All the Icons on Unity Launcher will be Movable in Oneiric, Including Lenses
          • Ubuntu 11.04: Great Promise, Quirky Execution

            It has been my experience for a number of years now for a new Ubuntu release to show lots of promise, and then disappoint. It always looks and feels great, but try and push it across a few delicate limits and it will show its real quirky face, and sometimes it doesn’t even need a push.

          • Bye, bye Ubuntu Ready – Hello Ubuntu Friendly!

            Instead of just removing Ubuntu Ready, we would like to start a non-commercial new hardware validation programme, created by Canonical, and with co-ordination with the rest of the community. This new programme is called Ubuntu Friendly (although the name might change).

          • The Good, the Bad and the Ugly About Unity

            We’ve talked about Natty and its features in our previous article (see: Ubuntu 11.04 ‘Natty Narwhal’: To Upgrade or Not to Upgrade?); however, we didn’t touch upon Unity much. Unity, the brainchild of the Canonical team was an out-of-the-blue decision which surprised and even shocked many users and developers alike. The shocking part of it was the decision to part ways with the GNOME desktop, which had been part of Ubuntu for so many years. The move has left many GNOME loyalists changing clans. However, there are also many users who have welcomed the changes. One reason why Unity works is because it brings something completely fresh to the user as opposed to the traditional GNOME desktop, which was getting too old-school to compete with Windows, Mac and even KDE4. Unity also relies heavily on the trusted Compiz window decorator, thus making the switch relatively smoother as compared to the one with GNOME 3 and Mutter. Furthermore, the GNOME 2.x series was a desktop that had not gone any major visual changes for years, and thus it failed to keep up with many of the modern desktop usability standards. For example, GNOME 2.x included two panels, one at the bottom and one at the top which consumed a lot of space. Also, the menus were too outdated when likened to modern desktops like Windows 7 and KDE4. Furthermore, the tray, the menubar, and indicator applets made the panels look way too crowded and tacky.

          • Thoughts on Ubuntu and Unity

            I have been giving a lot of thought to Unity and Ubuntu 11.04. I have to admit that I was, at first, very hostile toward the changes implemented in this latest release of the most popular Linux distribution.

          • Ubuntu CTO Matt Zimmerman leaving. Good Luck and thanks for all the fish.
          • My Week with Ubuntu Natty Narwhal

            So here’s the end of my little rant. For anyone out there interested in trying Linux for the first time I would still heartily recommend Linux Mint, or if you really want lots of apps and bells and whistles pre-installed, Pinguy OS is quite groovy, too.

            If you’ve been around the block with Linux a bit, also try Bodhi Linux with the Enlightenment window manager. It’s light, gorgeous and configurable to the nth degree. And in my opinion, makes Unity look old and crude in comparison.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Kubuntu 11.04 review

              Final Thoughts: Given the lukewarm reception to Ubuntu’s Unity desktop environment, Kubuntu presents an option that you might want to explore. It is still the same Ubuntu, but with a different and better desktop environment. If Kubuntu does not appeal to you, try Chakra, another KDE-based distribution that was just reviewed here.

            • Will Linux Mint outdo the popularity of Ubuntu?

              It is raining new releases this month as a result of the domino effect caused by the release of Ubuntu 11.04. The latest in line is Linux Mint. Team Mint has always managed to come up with a distro that improved the strengths of Ubuntu many fold while remaining true to the original one. However this time the scene is completely different. The team had recently announced the release of Linux Mint 11, codenamed Katya. Although, its usual to give a feminine name to each Mint release, this one seems to have a meaning. Katya which means “pure” In Russian seems to hint subtly that the Mint team is upto something.

            • Sabily 11.04 Is Based on Ubuntu 11.04, Has Unity

              The Sabily developers proudly announced the immediate availability for download of the new and improved Sabily 11.04 operating system.

              Dubbed Al-Badr, Sabily 11.04 is now based on the recently released Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) operating system and features the new Unity desktop interface. The release includes lots of new applications and various system improvements.

            • Sabily 11.04 released!

              The Sabily team is proud to announce the release of the new version of Sabily 11.04, codename “Badr”.

    • Devices/Embedded

      • $25 computer is barely larger than the average USB stick

        The Raspberry Pi is one tiny computer that’s actually functional enough for modern use. It doesn’t get any more barebones than a little circuit board with a 700MHz ARM 11 processor, a USB port, an HDMI port and an install of Ubuntu Linux.

        Designed by game developer David Braben and his friends, the Raspberry Pi’s basic structure was created to encourage schoolchildren to hack and mod it to unlock its true potential. On the stock Raspberry Pi, all one needs to do is plug in a display through the HDMI port and a keyboard through the USB and it’s good to go — getting online requires another adapter.

      • Phones

        • Sony Encourages Linux On Their Phones

          neokushan writes “Sony has been in the news a lot lately — from the PSN downtime and the identity theft issue that came with it, to the numerous court cases launched to try and quell the PS3 hacking scene. It may come as a surprise to many, then, that Sony’s mobile smartphone division has taken an almost polar-opposite approach — they’re actively encouraging developers to create, modify and install customized Linux kernels into their latest lineup of phones, including the Xperia Play, the device that was once known as the ‘PlayStation Phone.’”

Free Software/Open Source

  • GOEPEL electronic supports open source Initiative

    During Technology Days UK GOEPEL electronic announces the accession to the open source initiative goJTAG. The networking founded by various universities and the Company Testonica Lab pursues the goal to provide the industry JTAG/Boundary Scan tools and knowledge based on an independent and non-commercial platform, sustainably accelerating the wide adoption of standardized IEEE 1194.x test methods. The centre piece of GOEPEL electronic’s engagement is the provision of free hardware and respective reference designs.

    goJTAG is the first university-driven open-source project aiming at providing a full package for a JTAG/Boundary Scan newcomer including training materials, slides and exercises. The software includes a simulation component that fully reveals every single bit movement along the scan chains with a single TCK precision. The user can directly step-wise control TAP states and observe system’s reaction in a real time as an on-screen simulation. Using PicoTAP controller, all actions can be synchronized on the hardware attached. Such a fine-grain illustration of JTAG test principles has never been possible so far.

  • Cassidy: Lotus founder Mitch Kapor sets his sights on fixing education

    Kapor is a tech icon, for starting Lotus, for cofounding the Electronic Frontier Foundation, for being the first chairman of the Mozilla Foundation, which supports Firefox and other open source projects. He’s a San Francisco-based venture capitalist now and he’s done well for himself.

    But he has always had a wide progressive advocacy streak. Born in Brooklyn, he worked as a rock disc jockey, taught Transcendental Meditation and worked as a mental health counselor before making his name in the tech field.

  • The case for developer driven open source governance

    Disregarding the developer community in developing an open source governance policy is just bad policy. Many times developers are well versed in the issues relating to open source governance: legal risks, IP leakage, security vulnerabilities, etc.

  • Open Source`s Greatest Hits
  • Events

    • LinuxFest Northwest 2011 Report

      The end of April… is LinuxFest Northwest time. This was my 5th year attending and it was their 11th annual conference. As usual, I took my camcorder along and recorded all of the presentations I attended. Oddly no one from the BozemanLUG nor the BillingsLUG were able / interested in going with me so I was all by myself.

  • Web Browsers

    • PhotoFloat — A Web 2.0 Photo Gallery Done Right via Static JSON & Dynamic Javascript

      I don’t really like database driven photo management software, and prefer instead to manage my photos in a good old no-nonsense directory structure. For this reason, I was particularly attracted to Zenphoto as a means of getting my photos online, as it works on directory structures. Unfortunately, Zenphoto is horrible; it’s riddled with bugs, inconstant, a cluttered architecture, and most of all, it’s extremely slow. Every time it runs, it re-scans directories and makes a bazillion SQL calls. The viewer interface is also outdated and clunky, having a different html page for each photo. So I went back to the drawing board and considered how to make things better.

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 4 — a major update

        Mozilla Firefox 4 was released out of beta on March 22 and is a significant update from Firefox 3.6 as it is, apparently, the company’s attempt to stay ahead of the competition that’s nipping at its heels and gain ground on Internet Explorer.

      • Mozilla Firefox 4 Review: A powerful browser in the making

        What’s the big deal about web browsers anyway? They’re only here to make life easier for internet users, right? But those who spend eons of time rambling through the virtual world seem to care a lot judging by comments posted across the web about some browser or the other. We might venture to say that Internet Explorer has always been the most used web browser by default due to the fact that it’s been coming with Microsoft’s Windows OS since forever through a large part of the PC revolution time zone. But there were always going to be cult favorites and when Firefox seemed to rise like a ‘Phoenix’ from the ashes, a lot of people started checking it out. Firefox is the second-in-command when it comes down to browser market share wars at present. Our fresh review of Mozilla Firefox 4 for Windows should give you a better idea of what makes the browser tick for the large number of users who resort in order to access the web.

  • SaaS

  • Healthcare

  • Funding

    • Crypto Currency

      The Internet has left plenty of dead and maimed paper-based institutions in its wake. If Gavin Andresen and his underground cadre of cypherpunks have their way, another archaic slice of pulped tree may be next: the dollar.

      Bitcoin is a grassroots nonprofit project that seeks to fashion a new currency out of little more than cryptography, networking and open-source software, and Andresen is the closest thing the project has to a director. Bitcoin is not, he explains, just a new way to digitally spend dollars, pounds and yen. That’s been tried before. Remember Beenz and Flooz?

  • BSD

    • FreeNAS 8 – Released.

      The release of FreeNAS 8 includes major architectural optimizations, a django-driven user interface, and ZFS – lending us some useful features like thin provisioning, periodic snapshots, LDAP and Active Directory authorization along with the most popular platform sharing protocols.

    • FreeNAS 8.1 Roadmap

      In the last 48 hours FreeNAS was downloaded ~43,000 times. That is like 890 downloads an hour, every hour. With stats like that it is no wonder how we’ve gotten so much feedback from the community!

      According to “the cloud” the community needs UPnP, iTunes, DAAP, RSYNC, and Bit Torrent support before they can use FreeNAS 8. This is on our Roadmap for 8.1…

    • PCBSD 20110502
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Introducing Stuffed Baby Gnu
    • FSF announces publication of two new books by Richard Stallman

      The Free Software Foundation (FSF) has just released in tandem the second edition of its president and founder Richard Stallman’s selected essays, Free Software, Free Society, and his semi-autobiography, Free as in Freedom: Richard Stallman and the Free Software Revolution.

    • Righting Wrongs by Re-writing Ebooks

      One key property of printed books is that it is very hard to modify them. Digital books, by contrast, are trivially easy to re-write – provided they are released under a licence that permits that.

      One early enlightened example of a book that does allow such modification is Free as in Freedom, a biography of Richard Stallman that came out around the same time as Rebel Code.

      Although Free as in Freedom was based on extensive interviews with him, Stallman was not entirely happy with certain aspects of it; he has therefore taken advantage of the GNU Free Documentation Licence it was published under in order to offer his own gloss on the text and facts [.pdf]:

      I have aimed to make this edition combine the advantages of my knowledge and Williams’ interviews and outside viewpoint. The reader can judge to what extent I have achieved this.

      I read the published text of the English edition for the first time in 2009 when I was asked to assist in making a French translation of Free as in Freedom. It called for more than small changes. Many facts needed correction, but deeper changes were also needed.

      The first edition overdramatized many events by projecting spurious emotions into them.

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • Facebook’s HipHop Can Now Build Grimstad

      Announced to the public last year by Facebook was HipHop, an open-source project that transforms PHP code into highly-optimized C++ and then uses the GCC C++ compiler to produce a native system binary. Facebook’s original numbers showed that by using this transformer/compiler on their servers the CPU usage went down by about 50% and they were able to supply around 70% more traffic on existing resources since the PHP code is no longer being dynamically interpreted. Here’s a look at Facebook’s HipHop during some of our first tests.

    • Perl and Python float on open source VMware cloud

      PHP might dominate the web LAMP stack, but ActiveState is taking steps to fluff the two other dynamic languages that put the “P” in LAMP: Python and Perl.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • This Could be Big: Decentralized Web Standard Under Development by W3C

      It just so happens that something like that may now be under development in the most official of venues. The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) announced today the formation of a new Web Real-Time Communications Working Group to define client-side APIs to enable Real-Time Communications in Web browsers, without the need for server-side implementation. The Group is chaired by engineers from Google and Ericsson. It sounds like Opera Unite to me (see video below), but democratized across all browsers. It sounds like it could be a very big deal.

Leftovers

  • Adobe Faces Antitrust Monopoly Class Action

    Adobe Systems bought Macromedia to remove its competitor FreeHand from the professional graphic illustration market, and to force users to switch to Adobe’s more expensive, and inferior, Illustrator software, graphic designers say in a federal antitrust class action.

    The class claims Adobe “has engaged in unlawful, willful acquisition and maintenance of monopoly power in the market for professional vector graphic illustration software.”

    Vector graphic illustration software uses mathematical formulas plotted by the graphic designer.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Are Health Insurers Writing Health Reform Regulations?

      One of the reasons I wanted to return to journalism after a long career as an insurance company PR man was to keep an eye on the implementation of the new health reform law. Many journalists who covered the reform debate have moved on, and some consider the writing of regulations to implement the legislation boring and of little interest to the public.

      But insurance company lobbyists know the media are not paying much attention. And so they are able to influence what the regulations actually look like — and how the law will be enforced — with little scrutiny, much less awareness.

    • Tobacco Companies Secretly Added Appetite Suppressants to Cigarettes

      A recent study of tobacco industry documents reveals that cigarette makers added appetite-suppressing substances to cigarettes and strategized on how to enhance the appetite-suppressing and weight-reducing effects of smoking.

  • Security

    • Sony issue apology after personal details of 100m customers stolen
    • Sony President Apologizes for Breach, Offers Free Identity Theft Protection
    • Sony and “friends” Or transparent damage limitation open letter style?

      The Sony hack has been very well documented and probably one of the few times when I have seen “average users” taking an interest in tech issues. True, this interest may have been merely selfish, but as a testament to the popularity of the PS3 I have had numerous “non-tech” folks engage me in conversation about their lack of PSN access and its ramifications.

      I’ve said on numerous occasions that I think Sony products are excellent and to that, I stand by my view completely, however I am very quick to jump on the shortcomings of others and it would be nothing short of hypocritical should I not do the same for Sony in light of this attack.

      Recently Howard Stringer (Chairman, Chief Executive and President of Sony Corp) posted an open letter on the Playstation blog, giving one of those “update with no update” type responses to the millions of customers who by now are probably very irate at having no PSN for a considerable time.

    • The PSN hack and open source

      I’m one of the people who has recently (perhaps in an excess of caution) cancelled their credit card because of the security breach of the Sony Playstation Network. Now you might wonder what this has to do with open source, but bear with me. Back in 2004 I went to a conference in The Hague about open source in the secondary software sector (meaning industrial sectors where software was a part of their product but not the core offering). One of the companies there was Sony Computer Entertainment. The presenter explained that Sony was a very open source friendly company, and that within the development division in Japan Linux desktops were the norm. The presenter also pointed to the Linux installation kit that Sony had released for their then-current games console the Playstation 2 (PS2), and advised us to look out for more Linux-related tie-ins in future games consoles. True to their word, two years later the Playstation 3 launched with the facility to install Linux in the basic model. True, you could not access most of the consoles advanced hardware via this ‘Other OS’ option, but it was a nice gesture, and generally appreciated by the open source community.

    • Critical hole in the Exim Mail server closed

      A missing format specification in a logging function of the free Mail Transfer Agent Exim has been identified by the developers as offering an attacker a chance to execute arbitrary code on the server. The particular line of code wrote a string directly to the logfile. An attacker could exploit this by adding particular formatting instructions into the DKIM information string in an incoming email which would allow them to inject their own code and run it with the rights of the mail server. Although no exploit is known to exist, the developers believe that an experienced attacker would not find an exploit hard to construct.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Pensioner arrested for feeding pigeons

      Neighbours had complained that the birds were blighting their lives, as hundreds flocked to feed from Monica and Janet McIntosh’s garden in High Harrington, Cumbria.

      The residents claimed they were unable to go outside and that the sky would

    • Drivers to be fined for littering even if they didn’t do it

      Ministers are considering a change in the law that would see motorists issued with £80 fixed penalty notices for littering – whether they are responsible for it or not.

      The change would be inserted into the Localism Bill which is currently progressing through Parliament.

    • Protests in Benton Harbor follow Martial Law Enforcement

      The stripping of all power of the local government in Benton Harbor, Michigan has brought the national spotlight to the tiny town on the shores of Lake Michigan. The first city to be declared in a “financial emergency” by Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, CMD reported that Emergency Financial Manager (EFM) Joseph Harris was assigned to the city back in 2010 by then-Governor Jennifer Granholm. But it wasn’t until March of this year that Harris essentially disbanded the local government and boards.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Don’t Be Duped by the Sewage Sludge Industry’s “Compost”

      That company calls its Kellogg brand “quality organics” and deceptively labels bags sold at the garden store as “garden soil” made from “compost” — with no mention which are made from industrial and human waste that contains tens of thousands of contaminants. That’s why federal law bars the use of sewage sludge-based products in organic gardens.

    • “I Never Promised You an Organic Garden”

      She asserted that her organization never claimed the gardens were organic. Then, in the next week, EMA removed the word “organic” from its webpage about its school garden program … but left it in on some pages. (See screenshots here.) EMA referred to the gardens as “organic” in a fundraising form, leading donors to believe they are contributing to organic school gardens. Ironically, in 2003, EMA gave an award to King of the Hill for its episode titled “I Never Promised You an Organic Garden.” Talk about foreshadowing.

  • Finance

    • Blue Cross, Blue Shield Getting Richer, Like Corporate Insurers

      I’ve written frequently in recent weeks about the eye-popping profits the big, publicly-traded health companies have been reporting. Last year — as the number of Americans without health insurance grew to nearly 51 million — the five largest for-profit insurers (Aetna, CIGNA, Humana, UnitedHealth and WellPoint) had combined profits of $11.7 billion.

    • Big Bank Backlash: From Coast to Coast People are Moving their Money

      As the economy continues to sputter and new unemployment claims surge to an eight-month high, it hasn’t escaped the notice of people on Main Street that the folks on Wall Street are back in the black.

      According to Fortune magazine, profits of the 500 largest U.S. corporations have surged 81 percent this past year. Fortune’s editors write, “We’ve rarely seen such a stark gulf between the fortunes of the 500 and those of ordinary Americans.”

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • 60 Plus Association Ads Mislead Public About GOP Budget Plan

      Association, a front group that FireDogLake reported in 2009 is “almost fully funded by the pharmaceutical industry,” started running 60-second radio ads in 30 Congressional districts thanking Republicans for voting for House Budget Chairman Rep. Paul Ryan’s budget plan, which would phase out the current Medicare program completely for those under 55 years of age.

    • Deep pockets behind school choice

      Students First grabbed headlines in 2010 when its political action committee, largely bankrolled by a trio of ideologically driven wealthy Philadelphia-area businessmen — Jeffrey Yass, Joel Greenberg and Arthur Dantchik — poured millions of dollars into the gubernatorial campaign of state Sen. Anthony Williams, D-Philadelphia. Williams made school choice the cornerstone of his failed bid for the Democratic nomination.

      Williams is a co-author, with Senate Education Committee Chairman Jeffrey Piccola, R-Dauphin, of the vouchers bill now before the Senate.

    • Blackwater (Xe) Hires John Ashcroft as an Ethics Adviser

      Xe, the private security firm formerly known as Blackwater, has hired former U.S. Attorney General John Ashcroft as an ethics adviser.

    • Another Big Business Win in the U.S. Supreme Court

      Because the Federal Arbitration Act (FAA) requires arbitration agreements be enforced according to their terms, Justice Scalia wrote, state laws that strike down contractual class action bans are preempted. Even though California’s Discover Bank rule applied equally to all contracts, the Court held it did not fall under the FAA exemption permitting non-enforcement “upon such grounds that exist at law or in equity for the revocation of any contract.” Additionally, the Court’s majority held that it not only is impermissible for states to prohibit bans on class action lawsuits, states also cannot prohibit bans on class action arbitrations.

    • Skin Care Company Tries to Get “Newsvertising”

      A skin care company that claims to have a cure for acne, psoriasis, folliculitis and other disorders is contacting Virginia media outlets and offering to pay them $100 for each person who sees the company’s press release and signs up to get treatment. The company asks editors to “consider running our press release as a win-win project.”

  • Censorship

    • AT&T’s broadband data caps start today

      Starting today, AT&T will begin restricting more than 16 million broadband users based on the amount of data they use a month. The number-two carrier’s entry into the broadband cap club means that a majority of American broadband users will now be subject to limits on how much they can do online or risk extra charges as ugly as video store late fees.

      The new limits—150 GB for DSL subscribers and 250 Gigabytes for UVerse users (a mix of fiber and DSL)—come as users are increasingly turning to online video such as Hulu and Netflix on-demand streaming service instead of paying for cable.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Tattoo Artist Claims Copyright Over Mike Tyson’s Tattoo – Sues Warner Bros.

      The Plant Patent Act of 1930 was the first step towards creating property rights for biological innovation: it introduced patent rights for asexually-propagated plants. This paper uses data on plant patents and registrations of new varieties to examine whether the Act encouraged innovation. Nearly half of all plant patents between 1931 and 1970 were for roses. Large commercial nurseries, which began to build mass hybridization programs in the 1940s, accounted for most of these patents, suggesting that the new intellectual property rights may have helped to encourage the development of a commercial rose breeding industry. Data on registrations of newly-created roses, however, yield no evidence of an increase in innovation: less than 20 percent of new roses were patented, European breeders continued to create most new roses, and there was no increase in the number of new varieties per year after 1931.

    • The Rate and Direction of Invention in the British Industrial Revolution: Incentives and Institutions

      During the Industrial Revolution technological progress and innovation became the main drivers of economic growth. But why was Britain the technological leader? We argue that one hitherto little recognized British advantage was the supply of highly skilled, mechanically able craftsmen who were able to adapt, implement, improve, and tweak new technologies and who provided the micro inventions necessary to make macro inventions highly productive and remunerative. Using a sample of 759 of these mechanics and engineers, we study the incentives and institutions that facilitated the high rate of inventive activity during the Industrial Revolution. First, apprenticeship was the dominant form of skill formation. Formal education played only a minor role. Second, many skilled workmen relied on secrecy and first-mover advantages to reap the benefits of their innovations. Over 40 percent of the sample here never took out a patent. Third, skilled workmen in Britain often published their work and engaged in debates over contemporary technological and social questions. In short, they were affected by the Enlightenment culture. Finally, patterns differ for the textile sector; therefore, any inferences from textiles about the whole economy are likely to be misleading.

    • Copyrights

      • Mike Tyson’s Tattooer Sues Warner Bros.

        The tattoo artist who did Mike Tyson’s face claims Warner Bros. “pirated” his work to advertise its movie, “The Hangover 2.” S. Victor Whitmill wants a federal judge to bar Warner Bros. from using the tattoo in its promotions, and damages for copyright infringement.
        Whitmill says he created and applied the tattoo to the upper left side of Tyson’s face on Feb. 10, 2003.

      • LimeWire and Labels Face Off Over Damages

        Attorneys offered competing explanations of how major record labels view file-sharing software as opening arguments kicked off the damages trial against former LimeWire CEO Mark Gorton on Wednesday.

        Industry insiders paint the phenomenon in biblical terms of “Thou shalt not steal.” An attorney for the labels said LimeWire’s operations invited “the biggest theft of music in the history of the world.”

        But Gorton’s defense attorney Joseph Baio claims that, behind closed doors, label execs spoke candidly about how peer-to-peer downloading could benefit their businesses, if they only adapted to changing times and technologies.

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