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05.25.11

IRC Proceedings: May 25th, 2011

Posted in IRC Logs at 8:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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GNOME Gedit

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#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

Enter the IRC channels now

Links 25/5/2011: KDE 4.7 Beta, China Gets Debian Mirror

Posted in News Roundup at 7:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Server

    • Platform Gets Graphic with HPC Cluster Manager

      Not everybody who needs to build a cluster wants to be a Linux expert. And that is why Platform Computing has slapped an all-encompassing Web-based graphical user interface onto the 3 release of its Platform HPC cluster management tool.

  • Applications

    • Syncany: A Great Dropbox Alternative Which Supports Multiple Storage Types

      Syncany is a brand new open-source file sync software (similar to Dropbox, or Sparkleshare). “Oh no, not another Dropbox alternative” you might say. Well Syncany is different and has the chance to become better than other such applications. Read on!

    • 13 Reasons to choose GIMP over Photoshop!

      Photoshop is one of the most popular image editing proprietary software, with extensive capabilities and a rather un-affordable price! It will be interesting for you to note that most of the Photoshop copies running on thousands of computers are illegal, that seems to be obvious as even professionals cannot afford to buy such an expensive piece of software. On the other hand, GIMP, photo manipulation software is a free counterpart that is fairly popular in the Linux circle. GIMP is preinstalled on some Linux

      distributions or it can be installed with great ease. In this post we will draw a comparison between the two softwares! The debate is old yet it interests many. In this post we will compare the two softwares, according to current standards.

    • Proprietary

      • 10 Commercial Apps for Linux That I Never Knew Existed

        One thing that keeps Linux in the back foot is the lack of good quality applications that can compete with the best out there. The advent of paid softwares section in Ubuntu Software Center is a start, things like that can kick start application development for Linux in a big way. But things were not as bad I thought it would be. On further browsing, I found out that there are indeed a good number of paid applications for Linux, some of them were a total surprise for me. Here are some of those paid applications for Linux which I found interesting.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • The State of Gaming on Linux

        We recently covered the best paid games that are out there for Linux. We know that the list was too small and disappointing for any Linux fan. The size of the list can only be attributed to the lack of any major progress in this area for years. To be honest, most of the games that are available for Linux are graphically poor with loose plots and terrible AI levels. However, before you start bashing Linux developers for that, let’s take a look at why gaming sucks so badly on Linux.

  • Desktop Environments

    • A bit about Fluxbox
    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • KDE Ships First 4.7 Beta

        KDE has released a first beta of the upcoming 4.7 release of the Plasma Desktop and Netbook workspaces, the KDE Applications and the KDE Frameworks, which is planned for July 27, 2011. With API, dependency and feature freezes in place, the KDE team’s focus is now on fixing bugs and further polishing new and old functionality.

  • Distributions

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • China Has Its Own Debian GNU/Linux Mirror
      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu: Design for all, keep custom options open

            So, here’s the thing. I have two monitors set up in my office, one plugged into my primary Ubuntu machine and one plugged into a Windows PC that I keep around for my business accounting. (Yeah, yeah, I don’t like GNUCash, okay?)

            To move my mouse and keyboard control between them, I use a neat little tool called QuickSynergy that enables control signals to move across the LAN so I can just use both operating systems as if it were one big screen. Normally, the Windows monitor is off the left and the Linux monitor is centered in front of me because it’s the giganto monitor and I use it 90 percent of the time.

          • Ubuntu Showcase, Computex: May 31st

            Next week, Canonical will present an executive briefing on developments in Ubuntu Desktop, Cloud and Server. Christopher Kenyon, Canonical EVP, will be sharing developments in Ubuntu, including:
            * Introducing Ubuntu 11.04 with critically acclaimed interfaces and developer APIs

          • Clipboard manger Diodon debuts Unity Lens
          • Linux User’s Ubuntu Column #100 with Mark Shuttleworth

            To help us celebrate the 100th issue of Linux User & Developer, Ubuntu founder, Mark Shuttleworth, agreed to take the reins from our regular Ubuntu columnist (Dave Walker) and take us through why he believes it was the right decision for Ubuntu to embrace the future with Unity…

          • Ubuntu Light review

            Ubuntu Light is an alternative OS designed to sit on a separate partition to a PC’s Windows operating system. With a look and feel that’ll be familiar to users of Ubuntu Netbook Remix – whose Unity interface has now been rolled out across all versions of Ubuntu – it’s neither full featured nor powerful. But it is fast.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Apache Libcloud is now a top level project

    The Apache Libcloud project has left the Apache Incubator where projects mature and has become a top-level project of the Apache Software Foundation. Libcloud is a Python implementation of a common vendor-independent API for cloud services which supports multiple backends to work with cloud provider specific APIs. The project hopes to allow developers to write cloud applications for a single API without the need to write vendor-specific code. The current Python implementation has back-end driver support for over twenty cloud platforms including Amazon EC2, Eucalyptus, OpenStack, Rackspace, GoGrid, IBM Cloud and Linode.

  • Apache Libcloud Graduates
  • Web Browsers

    • Deconstructing browser trends

      All right, the big moment has come. In the past dozen weeks and a similar number of Internet-related articles, I have alluded, hinted and clear-stabbed at various trends and hypes that seem to be gripping the modern browsers. In my Taming Firefox 4 article, we had a brief if heated piece on Tabs on Top thingie. Firefox came into spotlight again with Aurora, a dev-build, and so did Internet Explorer, with its version 10 preview.

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 5 for Android adds CSS animation, support for Do Not Track browsing

        The Firefox team is moving as quick as a…well, you get the idea. Nearly two months after releasing its latest browser to the masses, the folks at Mozilla have unleashed Firefox 5 for Android as a beta for willing souls who happen upon it in the Market. The latest rendition will hook you up with support for CSS animations,

  • Public Services/Government

    • Romania to recommend open source “wherever appropriate”

      Romania’s minister for Communication and Information Society, Valerian Vreme, said at a conference in Bucharest that the country’s public authorities should “use free and open source systems, such as Linux, when a mature evaluation shows it is the proper solution”. According to a report at OSOR.EU, Vreme said he would not support a law which required institutions to use open source, as the job of the ministry was to present the pros and cons of a product and its alternatives.

    • Eve Online source code posted online, DMCA takedown quickly follows

      GitHub, for those that don’t know, is an online repository for source code and software projects. It supports both open and closed source projects, and gives developers a central location to both share and store their projects.

      For the most part the projects listed on GitHub are legitimate, and in the case of the open source repositories, viewing and downloading is encouraged. But sometimes code that shouldn’t be available is posted there, and the owner wants it taken down quickly.

      [...]

      They describe it as the “decompiled source code” of the game and that it represents “infringing material”.

    • European states ‘illegally specifying’ brands in IT tenders

      One in eight government IT tenders in the European Union illegally specifies a brand, according to a new report from Openforum Europe (OFE).

      OFE’s annual assessment of procurement in E.U. member states has found that 13 percent of a sample of tenders for IT products published in the Supplement to the Official Journal of the European Union made reference to specific trademarks or brand names. This is usually illegal under E.U. procurement rules as it is anti-competitive.

  • Licensing

  • Programming

    • GNU-based IDE

      Mentor Graphics has developed Embedded Sourcery CodeBench, a next-generation integrated development environment (IDE) based on the open source GNU toolchain. The technology provides embedded developers with a powerful and easy-to-use tool suite for developing and optimising systems based on a broad range of devices from the most advanced microprocessors to microcontrollers.
      Sourcery CodeBench incorporates technologies which Mentor acquired from Code Sourcery in November last year. The tool introduces new support for the NetLogic Microsystems XLP multicore processor, Freescale Kinetis and Xilinx Zynq. The Sourcery CodeBench product is integrated with the Mentor Embedded Sourcery Probes and third-party probes.

Leftovers

  • Science

  • Finance

    • Goldman CEO Blankfein’s Fate in Hands of DOJ

      Wall Street executives and senior people inside Goldman Sachs (GS) say Lloyd Blankfein may want to hang on as CEO of the big Wall Street firm, but the final decision will not be his to make. Rather, his fate rests in the hands of the U.S. Justice Department, which is probing statements he made before a Senate committee investigating Goldman’s role in the 2008 financial crisis, FOX Business has learned.

      If a probe by the DOJ into Goldman’s conduct ahead of the financial crisis is expedited and the focus turns to Blankfein’s actions, the thinking goes, Goldman’s board of directors will likely offer Blankfein up as a sacrifice in exchange for leniency.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Move Over Machiavelli: Wisconsin GOP Kills Public Financing to Pay for Voter Suppression

      You are a new Governor pursuing a radical, budget-slashing agenda. In your spare time, you work to pass the most restrictive Voter ID law in the nation, which turns out to be quite costly. What to do? Here is an idea. To pay for your voter suppression efforts, why not rob public financing for elections, a system designed to encourage a diversity of candidates and a flourishing of democracy?

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Access Copyright Stops Pay-Per-Use Digital Licensing

        Earlier this year, Access Copyright won a Copyright Board decision that granted a new interim tariff for post-secondary education institutions. This is the first of three posts that examine the aftermath of that decision, the current economics behind Access Copyright, and the challenges the copyright collective faces over the long haul. The interim licence, which effectively sought to maintain the status quo as the copyright collective and educational institutions sort through the Access Copyright demand for a massive increase in its current tariff structure, provided the collective with a potential continued revenue stream and delayed what appeared to be a near-universal decision among Canadian universities to drop the Access Copyright licence altogether.

      • Pirate Party Germany server raid – Personal statement by Loz Kaye

        I would like to add my condemnation to that of Sebastian Nerz and Rick Falkvinge, amongst others on yesterday’s police raid of German Pirate Party IT Assets.

        A French investigation into an attack on the IT infrastructure of the energy group EDF resulted in German authorities disconnecting and then confiscating the German Pirate Party’s servers. This had the effect of partially crippling the party two days ahead of state elections in Bremen.

      • Pirate Party Germany Server Raid – Open Letter

        As you will be well aware, German police officers seized a number of servers belonging to the Piratenpartei (The German Pirate Party), provided by AixIT in Offenbach. Some of these servers constituted the information technology and communications infrastructure of the party, a legal and officially recognised political party in Germany apparently at the behest of French investigators.

Clip of the Day

Django Reinhardt & Stephane Grappelli – Minor Swing


Credit: TinyOgg

Xamarin CEO Has Microsoft Employment History

Posted in Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 2:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

XamarinSummary: Nat Friedman becomes CEO of Trojarin

THIS morning we noted that Trojarin [1, 2, 3] is partly bankrolled by Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza. News has just come out that Trojarin recruited Nat Friedman, who had worked for Microsoft. His position? CEO. He left Novell after he had defended the patent deal with Microsoft and earned software patents which are probably in Microsoft's hands now (CPTN).

Nat Friedman, the former CEO of Ximian and one time CTO of Novell’s open source efforts is back in the game.

Friedman left Novell in January of 2010, where he had been since the company (Ximian) he co-founded with Miguel de Icaza was acquired in 2003.

Now De Icaza is out of Novell with a new startup focused on Mono and his old buddy Nat is rejoining him to become the CEO.

Good ol’ .NET club is back together, but with a lot less funding. If they are trying to mimic Microsoft, then ought to look at this latest blunder in Hotmail:

Microsoft has patched a bug in its Hotmail email service that attackers were exploiting to silently steal confidential correspondences and user contacts from unsuspecting victims.

The vulnerability was actively being exploited using emails that contained malicious scripts, Trend Micro researcher Karl Dominguez said Monday. Successful attacks required only that a Hotmail user open the malicious email or view it in a preview window. The commands embedded in the emails uploaded users’ correspondences and user contacts to servers under the control of attackers without requiring the victim to click on links or otherwise take any action.

And these are the role models for Trojarin.

Why We Disagree With Peer to Patent’s Approach

Posted in Europe at 2:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

FOSS stamp

Summary: Why the strategy of reviewing software patents rather than tackle all of them through legislation only helps those who insist on legitimising them

THOSE who have read this site for while probably know that we do not endorse Peer to Patent. After some arguments over at Identi.ca [1, 2] it seemed reasonable to repeat an explanation that we gave here many times before, e.g. [1, 2, 3]. Glyn Moody explains that “it can’t hurt if we squish a few software patents, can it?” He actually wrote a whole article in response to some of the latest developments in the UK-IPO. In it, Moody argues:

Anything that stops more bad patents being granted – particularly in the field of software – is to be welcomed. Once the site launches next week, you might want to take a look – and maybe even join in if you see something that deserves to be squelched. It’s hard to say what impact this will have on the attempts to patent software, but it certainly can’t hurt.

Our concern is that by giving attention to patent-busting schemes like those advocated by the EFF, Groklaw (currently run by Mark Webbink, who is very closely associated/affiliated with Peer to Patent) and other initiatives like Peer to Patent we take away from the efforts of those who strive to abolish all software patents at once. There are some companies out there which are still patenting 3-D maths and these patents might be harder to invalidate. They harm real science, including the field that I work in. In Europe we do not formally have software patents and it is important to keep it that way. The FFII warns about [1, 2] the latest schemes of Barnier, whom we wrote about in many older posts. There are people inside Europe — people with a lot of power — who work hard to bring software patents (importing them from the USPTO for example). They need to be stopped urgently. To start gardening the UK-IPO’s monopolies arsenal with Peer to Patent is not good use of time and effort.

“To really abolish software patents, embrace the campaigns of the FFII, the FSF, ESP, and the FSFE.”All the efforts to abolish software patents might in some sense be complementary, but we advise people to work 100% against software patents, not legitimise them with the OIN or with Peer to Patent (to whom the issue is the quality of patents, not software patents in general). Those latter two groups help the agenda of companies like IBM, but they do not do enough to help small companies and individuals without an employer boasting a warchest of around 50,000 patents. To really abolish software patents, embrace the campaigns of the FFII, the FSF, ESP, and the FSFE. Being a conformist does not help much.

“The reasonable man adapts himself to the world; the unreasonable one persists in trying to adapt the world to himself. Therefore all progress depends on the unreasonable man.” –George Bernard Shaw, Man and Superman (1903) “Maxims for Revolutionists”

DistroWatch: Fedora Keeps Mono in Rawhide

Posted in GNU/Linux, Mono, Red Hat at 1:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Fedora and Mono

Summary: Discussion about the phasing out of Mono (removal from GNU/Linux distributions) and what remains to be done

OUR dear Mr. Forbes has brought to our attention his observation that, despite the fact that Mono is dead as a Novell project and is now running on funds from Miguel de Icaza et al. (spending his own savings promoting Microsoft’s patents-encumbered APIs), Fedora still includes Mono in Rawhide. They actually removed Mono some years ago (from final releases), so it is not clear why nightlies/intermediate builds still have it. It’s not exactly news, but it is worth getting an answer to the question, why even bother with Mono at all?

Less than an hour ago one reader asked (in IRC): “When will GIMP go back into Ubuntu’s CD?”

Forbes replied: “Doesn’t seem so, though some official Ubuntu derivatives like Xubuntu still include it by default” (this can be confirmed).

The other reader noted that “room can be made by removing Mono and Mono-dependent apps” (we made this point many times before).

“Hopefully,” said Forbes, “with the BS surrounding the current state of “official” Mono development, the removal may actually happen”

“I look forward to the removal. it is more than just wasting space,” concluded the anonymous reader. ” There are better apps it is holding back” and “Mono slows down performance in other ways as well,” noted Forbes. It's true.

Links 25/5/2011: MeeGo TV Platform, Trisquel 4.5.1, Wary Puppy 5.1.2

Posted in News Roundup at 12:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open is a Loose Term in the Mobile Market

    I guess in the end “open” is a loose term when it comes to the mobile market. Yes, Android is more open than a good deal of other mobile operating system alternatives – but it is far from the freedom we see in desktop computing. Our mobiles won’t be truly “open” until hardware manufactures stop riddling FOS operating systems with closed source hardware and software components.

  • 55 Open Source Replacements for Information/Project Management Tools

    Experts say that interest in IT project management has grown substantially in recent years. A December 2010 report from Dice.com put project managers fourth on its list of the most in-demand IT jobs for 2011. And a Forrester report found that for 2011, CIO priorities are shifting from cost reduction to improving execution. As a result, they’re looking to the disciplines of project management and project portfolio management to help them “allocate resources effectively while killing off bad ideas quickly.”

    Project managers have a huge list of software tools that can help them do their jobs, ranging from simple spreadsheets to groupware with collaboration features to full project management solutions. These tools can be very expensive, but a growing number of open source projects offer similar functionality without the high price tag.

  • SaaS

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Why TDF should be the place for one united Community

      We all have similar goals: a free office suite, available to everyone. So let’s not discuss about the past, about what has happened and about the reasons that led to this, but rather focus on the future.

  • Business

    • If you tolerate this… the commercial open source window of opportunity

      One of the ‘things I wrote down during OSBC’ was this statement from Benchmark EIR, Rob Bearden:

      “Misalignment between a business model and the community’s tolerance point will never be accepted. This will manifest itself in multiple distributions.”

      At first glance the statement may seem obvious to anyone who has studied open source-related business strategies or communities, but I believe provides the context for further understanding the complexities of balancing the needs of a business for control and the needs of a community for openness.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

    • SE: Framework agreement increases use of open source

      Sweden’s public administrations, municipalities and health care are increasingly turning to free and open source software solutions, following legal clarifications made to a public procurement framework contract. From April 2011, a new framework agreement makes providers of services based on this type of software legally responsible for issues pertaining to copyright, licences and distribution. This has made public administrations less hesitant about using open source, says Daniel Melin, one of the software procurement specialists at Kammarkollegiet, a government agency.

    • How can the state simultaneously cut budgets, provide better services, and promote growth? “By adopting an Open Government mindset”.

      All truth passes through three stages, said the philosopher Schopenhauer. First, it is ridiculed. Second, it is violently opposed. Third, it is accepted as being self-evident. Just over a week ago the Financial Times paraphrased the formula I have been promoting for a decade in business, and in Politics for the last five years:

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Hardware

      • Digital Foosball Offers Open Source Awesomeness

        Foosball tables, that ever-present staple of dot-com startups, YMCA rec rooms and your parents’ basement, have long been in need of a digital upgrade. Now, a German interactive firm has devised a way for you to spruce up the play behind those miniature plastic soccer players.

        [...]

        Unfortunately, the actual detailed instructions on how to complete all the steps haven’t yet been posted, but SinnerSchrader claims they have a proof-of-concept prototype that works, and that the blueprint and software will be available for download soon.

Leftovers

  • Science

  • Security

    • DenyHosts: Keep on Knocking but You Can’t Come In
    • PSC Accelerates Machine-Learning Algorithm with CUDA
    • LinkedIn slashes cookie lifespan after research exposes security flaws
    • A whole new era for cookies begins this week
    • PlayStation Network breach will cost Sony $171m

      The cost of a criminal intrusion that exposed sensitive data for more than 100 million Sony customers and resulted in a 23-day closure of the PlayStation Network will cost the company at least $171 million, executives said.

      The estimated cost doesn’t included expenses related to any lawsuits that may be filed in response to the security breach, which was discovered on April 19. The estimate includes expenses of an identity theft prevention program and promotional packages to win back customers, among other things.

    • Microsoft Support Scam (again)

      We have mentioned the “Microsoft Support” scams a few times over the last 6 months or so (http://isc.sans.org/diary.html?storyid=10135), but a recent change in their operations grabbed my interest. A colleague of mine mentioned that other day that he had been the recipient of the mystical “Microsoft Support” call to inform him that they had received an alert from his computer. It was the usual scenario, with a twist.

      In previous iterations of this scam the person on the phone would get you to click through to the event viewer to “find something red”. Strangely enough there is usually something red in most people’s event log log. However, do not despair if you don’t have anything red, yellow is just as bad. Once the problem (well any problem) was identified your support would have expired and they redirect you to a web site where you can part with your money and download some version of malware.

      The new iteration of the scam goes one step further. Rather than get the victim to look, they get you to install teamviewer (although no doubt other similar tools are likely used). They take control of your machine and start moving the files across. Manually infecting, sorry fixing, your machine. In this particular instance they noticed they were in a VM and promptly started removing the files they had moved, before the link was dropped and the phone call terminated.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • UK and US “special relationship” taken to a new level amid anti-war protests

      All eyes remain on London for the second day of the US president’s state visit, which will see talks on violence in the Arab world. These talks come amid calls for Obama and British PM, David Cameron, to overcome their addiction to war games.

      Obama’s visit comes as NATO escalates its involvement in the war in Libya. France has said it will deploy helicopters, bringing combat operations closer to the ground. The global war machine rumbles on, with the alliance of London and Washington in the engine room – and this new agreement to pool information and resources may only add fuel to the fire.

      Warm greetings and a royal banquet on the opulent premises of Buckingham palace – Britain has well and truly rolled out the red carpet for Barack Obama, designed to affirm the so-called “special relationship” between the two nations.

    • NATO ups strikes in Tripoli, sees no Iraq parallel

      NATO warplanes pounded Tripoli for a second day, raising military pressure on Muammar Gaddafi while diplomatic efforts mounted to force his departure.

      Six loud explosions rocked Tripoli late on Tuesday within 10 minutes, following powerful strikes 24 hours earlier, including one on Gaddafi’s compound, that Libyan officials said killed 19 people and state television blamed on “colonialist crusaders.”

    • CMD Opposes Effort to Gut Whistleblower Protections

      The Center for Media and Democracy, Common Cause, the AFL-CIO, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington, Public Citizen and other organizations have signed onto a letter to members of Congress opposing a draft bill by Rep. Michael Grimm (R-NY) that would weaken whistleblower protection and award programs at the Securities and Exchange Commission and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CTFC). Grimm’s bill seeks to strip newly-enacted protections for whistleblowers who face retaliation for contacting enforcement agencies. It would also remove incentives for corporate insiders to inform regulators about wrongdoing, hamstring enforcement at the SEC and CTFC and give lawbreaking financial firms a way to escape accountability for their actions.

  • Cablegate

    • Iraq War Logs wins Amnesty Award

      The Bureau of Investigative Journalism picked up the Digital Media prize for it’s dedicated website www.iraqwarlogs.com at the 2011 Amnesty Media Awards on Tuesday.

    • Anti-Americanism rife in Pakistan army institution – Wikileaks

      Officers received training biased against the United States at a prestigious Pakistan army institution, according to Wikileaks, underscoring concern that anti-Americanism in the country’s powerful military is growing amid strains with Washington.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Get Green, with Brown!

      The folks at Recompute have taken the notion of “Going Green” to a whole new level. They’ve made computer cases out of recyclable cardboard. We had the pleasure of speaking with Recompute’s Brenden Macaluso and took one of their computers for a test drive.

  • Finance

    • How an Inquiry of Goldman Sachs Might Play Out

      Goldman Sachs has already received subpoenas from unnamed regulators investigating its mortgage securities operations. Now, federal prosecutors appear to be interested in those operations as well, and subpoenas could follow.

      If so, this would signal a new and potentially more threatening inquiry into its conduct during the financial crisis.

      Goldman paid $550 million last year to settle civil charges by the Securities and Exchange Commission over its structuring of a collateralized debt obligation known as Abacus that regulators said was designed to fail. But the size of that settlement may pale in comparison if federal prosecutors find sufficient evidence to pursue criminal charges.

    • Growing Pressure Facing Blankfein at Goldman

      CUNY Professor Fred Kaufman and FBN’s Charlie Gasparino debate the growing pressure for Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein to step down.

    • A Once-Tight Flock at Goldman, Now Scattered

      When Goldman Sachs went public 12 years ago this month, an elite group of 221 executives controlled the strategy and shares of the investment bank.

      While the clubby culture remains, the tight-knit group has lost its viselike grip on the company, as the wishes of the insular partnership have given way to the demands of the outside shareholders. The roughly 480 partners currently own less than 10 percent of the company, down from approximately 60 percent at the initial public offering in 1999.

      Their power base may soon erode further. Senior Goldman executives are considering whether to cull partner-heavy divisions like investment banking, according to people with knowledge of the matter who were not authorized to speak on the record.

    • Commodities Gone Wild

      Over the last few weeks prices on oil, food and gold have all hit all-time highs, and then suffered pricipitous drops. And there seems to be little agreement as to why.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Insurers Blame Americans; Blue Cross Blue Shield of Tennessee Ducks Questions

      The reaction of health insurers to the Obama administration’s requirement that they start justifying rate increases of 10 percent or more was quick and predictable: “Not fair!”

      The PR and lobbying group America’s Health Insurance Plans (AHIP) absolved the industry of any responsibility for constantly rising premiums and pointed the finger of blame at just about everyone else. The real culprits, AHIP president Karen Ignagni insisted, are greedy doctors and hospitals, state legislators who make insurers provide coverage for an overly broad range of illnesses, and, of course, irresponsible American citizens, especially healthy young people who decide not to buy insurance.

  • Privacy

    • Wikipedia founder opens new front in privacy battle

      Lawyers and celebrities seeking to prevent the world knowing their indiscretions have another hurdle in their path – Wikipedia – after its founder, Jimmy Wales, pledged to resist pressure to censor entries.

      Referring to the case of the “family footballer” who has injuncted the media from revealing that he had an affair with the Big Brother contestant Imogen Thomas – whose Wikipedia page now records this fact – Mr Wales said: “This only became a story because the footballer is pursuing legal action against Twitter. It started to become a big political and social issue. Once that happens it is a valid issue for Wikipedia. As an encyclopaedia, we try to document facts taken from reputable sources. We should not be stopped from recording facts.

    • Do-not-track off to a slow start, Mozilla adds support for Android

      Whenever an average consumer is confronted with the idea of “opting in,” typically they don’t bother. They are not aware they have a choice, it’s too complicated to follow through or they simply don’t understand the importance.

      A great example of this is Facebook’s introduction of HTTPS via opt-in back in January. In a post on the Facebook developer blog, Naitik Shah points out that 9.6 million Facebook users are now using HTTPS on the service.

    • BT cheerfully admits snooping on customer LANs

      BT reserves, and makes use of, the right to remotely detect all devices connected to LANs owned by its broadband customers – for their own good, of course.

      BT Broadband customers can expect to have their network checked any time the operator feels it needs to take a peek to help it provide the service, or when the safety of the customer is in doubt – the latter being the motivation behind the only instance where we know the capability has been used.

      That happened last week, when some BT Broadband customers received letters about the kit they had plugged into their networks.

      The kit in question were powerline networking (PLT) boxes originally supplied by BT. Some of the units supplied suffered a manufacturing flaw that could, potentially, expose live wires. So BT shipped out replacements back in October last year. But customers who eschewed the operator’s advice (having examined the devices and satisfied themselves that they were safe) have now received letters telling them that BT’s “remote diagnostic test” shows the devices are still connected and warning the customers of the ongoing danger.

      PLT devices don’t have IP addresses; they operate like switches, so they shouldn’t be detectable from the internet. We assume that BT is getting round this issue by running a scan of MAC addresses from the supplied router, but the company hasn’t confirmed that.

    • BT spies on the networks of their customers
    • CCTV camera looks straight into our homes, say residents

      FURIOUS residents have taken action against a CCTV camera they say is spying on their homes.

      They have branded the device on Elm Drive, Mold, as Big Brother having ‘gone mad’ after discovering it was pointing at a row of houses instead of a trouble hotspot opposite.

    • Privacy, the Press and Twitter: some uncomfortable truths

      I wrote last Friday’s blog before the weekend’s Twittering events and it is quite clear that the injunction protecting the footballer’s privacy is unsustainable. Clearly barring all of the press from mentioning a name simply is a non-starter (especially as the footballer’s name was chanted by fans at yesterday’s Premier League games).

      However, several facts are being missed in the current reporting furore. First is that the Court granted the footballer an injunction because the newspaper concerned was the beneficiary of an unsuccessful blackmail attempt. Then the newspaper concerned arranged photographers to be present at meetings between the woman and footballer as pretence so that it could claim that it stumbled on their relationship by accident.

    • Your guide to the EU Privacy Directive

      As of May 25, new European privacy laws come into play, which will determine how web users can be tracked online.

      The changes will require technology companies, retailers and other suppliers that track information online (usually via cookies) to seek consent from web users in order to do so.

  • Civil Rights

    • Identity scheme echoes ID cards, say campaigners

      The identity assurance scheme, announced by Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude last week, will create services that will verify a person’s identity when they access public services online. The scheme will, according to Maude, allow people to access various government services online without having to remember multiple log-in details.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • The Netherlands To Enact Law That Ensures Net Neutrality

      The Netherlands might be a tiny country, but when it comes to broadband, it is one that likes to make big moves. It had been quick to embrace fiber broadband. It was early to the idea of gigabit per second connectivity. And now it is enacting a law that guarantees “net neutrality” for its citizens.

      The country’s telecom law was amended yesterday, to ensure free access, according to the Ministry of Economic Affairs, Agriculture and Innovation. In addition to the wired Internet, the new amendment will ensure network neutrality is extended to the mobile network and services such as Skype are allowed to work without interference.

    • France attempts to “civilize” the Internet; Internet fights back

      For some time, French Pres. Nicolas Sarkozy has talked about his dream of a “civilized” Internet, but this dream has long been a nightmare for those who worry that “civilization” is really a code for “regulations favorable to big business and the national security state.” To make his vision a reality, Sarkozy helped to create this week’s e-G8 meeting currently underway in the Tuileries Gardens next door to the Louvre—and the critics are fuming.

      “I was invited to the e-G8 and declined,” said author and activist Cory Doctorow recently. “I believe it’s a whitewash, an attempt to get people who care about the Internet to lend credibility to regimes that are in all-out war with the free, open ‘Net. On the other hand, I now have a dandy handwriting sample from Sarkozy should I ever need to establish a graphological baseline for narcissistic sociopathy.”

    • Big day for better EU telecom services approaching

      Do you know what happens on Wednesday this week? In late 2009, the European Parliament and all 27 EU Member States agreed that the new telecom rules must be implemented into national laws by 25th May 2011. I know Member States are working hard to meet the deadline – and there are only two days left. But let me be clear, if these rights are not made available in practice, I will take the necessary measures to fix the situation.

      Both citizens and businesses across Europe will benefit from the new EU telecom rules. From higher levels of consumer protection and more choice, to improved online privacy and safety and more consistent regulation across the EU, I hope customers will take full advantage of the opportunities these new rules will give them.

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyfight: EFF co-founder enters e-G8 “lion’s den,” rips into lions

      “I may be one of very few people in this room who actually makes his living personally by creating what these gentlemen are pleased to call ‘intellectual property.’ I don’t regard my expression as a form of property. Property is something that can be taken from me. If I don’t have it, somebody else does.

    • Copyrights

      • Major Vulnerability Found in Leaked Anti-Piracy Software

        As detailed in our earlier reports, anti-piracy company Trident Media Guard (TMG) recently failed to secure some of their systems. Blogger and security researcher Olivier Laurelli, aka Bluetouff, originally reported the breach which included a wide open virtual ‘test’ machine containing various tools. These, of course, spilled into the wild.

Clip of the Day

Jeremy Zimmermann


Credit: TinyOgg

ZDNet Spins the Spreading of Free Software as a Loss to Free Software

Posted in FUD, GPL, Microsoft at 6:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Spin award goes to ZDNet and OpenLogic (headed by Steven L. Grandchamp from Microsoft)

Champ

Summary: Many mobile applications embody Free software and foes of the GPL use that to say that it’s a bad thing

Backed by proprietary data from OpenLogic (whose claims cannot be verified or reproduced), we recently saw yet more GPL bashing articles. While it is true that companies like Apple mistreat Free software projects, to say that “App store licensing hinders OSS growth” is quite a stretch, but hey, it’s based on the data from a company run by a Microsoft veteran (and also partly funded by Microsoft). Kim Weins, senior vice president of products and marketing at OpenLogic (she keeps sending me mail each time I criticise her company), is once again quoted in an article predicting problems with GPL-licensed software. All that OpenLogic ever does is help generate negative press for the GPL. The last time, earlier this month, they led to articles saying that the GPL was “viral” and that it was bad (see discussion in IRC after the Apache push). To be cautious and not accuse of malice, we’ll choose to assume that maybe it is not their intention, but this is definitely their effect.

Even Patent Lawyers Struggle to Defend the Broken Patent System

Posted in America, Patents at 5:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Piggy bank

Summary: New lows for the USPTO as even those who benefit from it question its legitimacy

The Lodsys story recently turned up the heat on software patents and it is not quite over yet. In fact, anti-Linux troll Acacia is still accumulating more patents with which to extort companies [1, 2] and as we mentioned yesterday, “Likewise Software Resolves Patent Dispute with Quest Software” (Likewise promotes Microsoft APIs/protocols in UNIX/Linux). Well, even boosters of software patents (Gene Quinn in this case) struggle to defend it. “Increasingly patent trolls are shaking down small businesses and the payments they force look far more like extortion than anything else,” he wrote. This new setback reminds us that companies use patents not to invent but to extort. It is not surprising that the “Campaign Against America Invents Act Intensifies” [via Groklaw]:

Some might say that they are a bit late to the game considering that the Patent Reform bill pending in Congress passed the Senate 95-5 in March and by a similar huge majority passed the House Judiciary Committee in April, but opposition to the America Invents Act is intensifying.

Specifically, the issues of the virtual elimination of the current one year grace period and the change from a first-to-invent to a first-to-file regime are being attacked.

One major problem with the USPTO is that prior art search is limited to existing patents, not existing implementations. Moreover, ideas that are too abstract pass the test of patentability. Until this is stopped, the patent office will be called a “crock” or at least a nuisance. It is simply not there to promote science, not anymore anyway.

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