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12.30.11

Cablegate: Microsoft Rushes Vietnam to Get Rid of Open Source, Including FOSS Policy

Posted in America, Asia, Cablegate, Free/Libre Software at 8:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cablegate

Summary: A good look at how Microsoft crushes freedom-respecting software in Vietnam

AS ALWAYS EXPECTED, the monopolist from Redmond will never permit competition to exist. Like a tyrant running after potential opposition, Microsoft runs after any signs of Free/open source software adoption and sends its proxies for annihilation, confusion, entryism, or whatever. Cablegate provides some more insight and examples of what Microsoft is doing. The following cable, for instance, gives yet more details on how Microsoft asks US government officials to help derail Vietnam's migration to GNU/Linux.

In ¶6 of the first cable it says: “Software industry members estimate that nearly 90 percent of software in Vietnam is pirated. Several events in 2007 indicate that this situation could improve in the near future, however. Following the Prime Minister’s July 2006 Decision 169 requiring government agencies to strictly comply with copyright laws, a February 2007 Prime Minister’s Instruction laid out the functions, tasks and budgetary means to meet this goal. In May 2007, the GVN signed a landmark software copyright agreement with Microsoft, under which Vietnam will purchase an estimated 300,000 licensed copies of Microsoft Office for government workers, provincial officials and many university faculty and staff (reftel E). In a recent meeting, Microsoft officials informed the Embassy that they are pleased with the GVN’s compliance with this agreement, although “implementation could be faster.” Reportedly in an attempt to avoid copyright infringements, the Communist Party of Vietnam announced in October 2007 that it would switch its 20,000 computers nationwide to open source software. In December 2007 the Ministry of Information and Communication (MIC) issued a list of open-source software products that it recommended other GVN agencies use to avoid copyright violations.”

It is also reassuring to see that “[t]he Government of Vietnam issued the following IPR-related regulations in 2007: . . . — Decision 08/2007/QD-BTTTT, dated 24 December 2007, on the List of open source Software That Meets the Requirements for Usage by State Agencies and Organizations;”

Here is some more lobbying: “Representatives of U.S. IT companies met with Bisbee and Mikalis to voice their concerns about an IT procurement policy announced by Vietnam in late July 2006 (Decision 169). USTR and Embassy Hanoi have worked closely with the Ministry of Post and Telecommunication (MPT) since July to raise USG and industry concerns about the policy, which seeks to provide procurement preferences for localized IT products and open source software. MPT released a draft implementing circular on January 30 for industry comments, and USTR urged the IT industry members to raise their concerns directly with MPT. In response to concerns raised by the USG in July, the MPT has worked to revise the original Decision to limit coverage to only government agencies and explicitly exclude state owned enterprises. USTR and Hanoi Econoff explained to the industry representatives that MPT was open to hearing from industry about global procurement best practices, and industry was urged to engage the GVN directly on this issue. (Note: In meetings in Hanoi, USTR raised industry concerns with MPT directly.”

The those who want to see it in context, here is the first cable:

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Cablegate: President Chavez Smeared for Favouring Free/Open Source Software, Venezuela Added to Shame List

Posted in America, Cablegate, Free/Libre Software at 8:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cablegate

Summary: Venezuela gets the “PRIORITY WATCH LIST” treatment, meaning that it gets sanctioned or at least warned for not kneeling to Western monopolies (‘IP’)

US resistance to the authorities in Venezuela may have been boosted by Microsoft's interests that are all about money and subjugation. If Venezuela accepts Microsoft’s software, then it accepts software which is controlled by US powers, making it simpler to topple those authorities. According to the following Cablegate cables, Free/open source software gets mentioned unfavourably 3 years in a row, in relation to so-called ‘IP’ (monopoly on knowledge). A cable from 2007 says: “The piracy rate for business software in 2006 is 84 percent, according to International Intellectual Property Alliance statistics — a 6 percent increase from 2005. U.S. software companies have repeatedly come under attack from the BRV as exemplars of what President Chavez referred to as the “neo-liberal” trap of IPR. In 2004, the BRV passed legislation that mandates the use of open source software throughout the public sector. While not necessarily a violation of IPR in and of itself, the software industry has concerns about a lack of transparency in its implementation and favoritism shown to certain vendors.”

The 2008 cable is similar. It states:”The piracy rate for business software in 2007 was 86 percent, according to the Business Software Alliance. U.S. software companies have repeatedly come under attack from the BRV as exemplars of what President Chavez referred to as the “neo-liberal” trap of IPR. In 2004, the BRV passed legislation that mandated the use of open source software throughout the public sector. While not a violation of IPR in and of itself, the software industry has concerns about a lack of transparency in its implementation and favoritism shown to certain vendors.”

In 2009 it says: “In 2004, the GBRV passed legislation that required the use of open source software throughout the public sector. While not a violation of IPR in and of itself, the software industry has concerns about a lack of transparency in its implementation and favoritism shown to certain vendors. The piracy rate for business software in 2008 was 87 percent, according to the Business Software Alliance. The market for legitimate CDs and DVDs continues to decline. As Venezuela imports a high number of virgin discs, the country may be a distribution source and a production center for counterfeit products. The National Film Law, passed in August 2005, requires distributors to locally copy a percentage of the movies they distribute and to register all films, leading to unauthorized release of confidential information and piracy.”

Once again they lump software in with counterfeits to bloster their case for so-called ‘IP’ and make the government of Chavez weaker. Here is the 2007 cable:

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Cablegate: Venezuela’s Move to Free/Open Source Software “Expected to Reduce the Demand for U.S. Software Products”

Posted in America, Cablegate, Free/Libre Software at 7:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cablegate

Summary: US cables show the attitude towards Venezuela’s adoption of freedom-respecting software

AS we showed earlier this year, US diplomats and Microsoft fight GNU/Linux in Venezuela and according to the following Cablegate cable, they also try to paint the move with the ‘piracy’ brush. “In an effort to move away from proprietary software products, the Government of Venezuela in 2004 introduced a law mandating the use of open-source software in government and public institutions,” says one cable. But it continues: “This is expected to reduce the demand for U.S. software products somewhat, though much software currently in use is unlicensed or pirated.”

Microsoft never seemed to mind this. Gates and other Microsoft executives openly admitted that this so-called ‘piracy’ was beneficial to Microsoft. Let us carry on with ¶29 of the same cable that says: “Unfortunately, pirated software, music and movies remain readily available throughout the country. In the 2003 Annual Review, Venezuela remained on USTR’s Special 301 Watch List.”

We are going to write more about this in the next post. Basically, open source gets mentioned in most such cables and it is lumped in with all sorts of unrelated issue that have it painted as “piracy” and illegalities.

The Cablegate cable is as follows:

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Cablegate: Brazil and Ghana Want Free/Open Source Added in World Summit on the Information Society, US and Australia Oppose

Posted in Cablegate, Free/Libre Software at 7:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cablegate

Summary: A United Nations cable shows the difference between developing countries (oppressed countries) and ruling nations, which obviously get their way

According to the following United Nations-related Cablegate cable, there is truly a struggle between the oppressors and the oppressed, just as we saw in OOXML corruptions, ACTA debates, etc.

Here is the relevant part:

Open Source

¶14. Paragraphs on open source software (OSS) remain open. Brazil proposed the addition of the original “Rio Commitment,” reflecting Brazil’s (and GRULAC’s) promotion of open source software (OSS) over proprietary software products. Ghana, speaking for the African Group, also supported this proposal. The U.S. opposed the addition in that it lacked the requisite technology neutrality previously recognized in the Geneva Declaration of Principles and has proposed technologically neutral language with which Brazil, GRULAC, and Ghana have indicated they could agree. The U.S. resisted Brazil’s attempts to move the technologically neutral language within the paragraph, which would have resulted in promotion of OSS over proprietary software. It appears that all parties are willing to agree to the U.S.’ original suggested placement of the language. Brazil also had communicated its desire to eliminate all other references to OSS anywhere in the final document, in favor of the one reference to OSS in the PoliticalChapeau. This possibility remains an open issue, however, as other references to OSS already were the subject of working group drafts. Drafting group participants have not completed work on all the paragraphs concerned. Australia favored dropping Brazil’s proposal altogether, with which the U.S. would agree. Ghana has indicated to the U.S., however, that it needs this provision on OSS in the Political Chapeau to support its development agenda.

To clarify the obvious, they confuse vendor-neutral with neutral. Open Source is not a company or a product, it is a licensing and development paradigm that helps respect nation’s autonomy and self determination. The word “neural” — like “choice” — is often used by Microsoft and its front groups to mean “not open source”.

Here is the Cablegate cable in full:

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Links 30/12/2011: Cuba Progresses With GNU/Linux, Red Hat Expects Staff Boost of 24%

Posted in News Roundup at 5:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • The Top Five Linux Stories of 2011
  • TLWIR 29: Mozilla News, LibreOffice Chart Trick and Bitcoin Rises Again
  • Desktop

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Ubuntu Razor-qt Remix Screenshot Tour

      Softpedia announced yesterday, December 28th, the immediate availability for download of a new Ubuntu Remix, this time featuring the next-gen, super-fast, simplistic Razor-qt desktop environment.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • GNOME 3.3.3 Heats Things Up For GNOME 3.4

        GNOME 3.3.3 is now available as the latest update in what will ultimately become GNOME 3.4 next March.

      • The Year in Review: Desktop Linux Developments in 2011

        The “year in review” pieces that proliferate old and new media alike around this time of year get tedious pretty fast. But because I’ve yet to see a good compilation of the major developments — and there were plenty of them — that affected desktop Linux in 2011, I couldn’t think of any better topic for my last post of the month. That may make me a hypocrite, but if you can forgive a personal flaw, keep reading for a look at how the Linux world has evolved in the last 365 days or so.

  • Distributions

    • Pinoy Linux flavor stirs ripple in OS community

      The latest version of a locally developed operating system made the country proud early this month when the Linux-based software made a good impression among enthusiasts of the open source community.

    • Google Chrome Uses Graphics Card to Accelerate SVG, CSS

      Google has just added a new flag in its Chromium 18 builds that extends the browser’s hardware acceleration feature.

    • Chakra and Pinguy OS find spots in the top 25 fastest growing projects

      GNU/Linux distros Chakra and Pinguy feature in the Top 25 fastest growing projects compiled by SourceForge.So find out who else features in the list…

    • TechSource’s Top 10 Linux Distributions of 2011

      As we say goodbye to a momentous 2011, it’s time to reflect on some of the big happenings in the FOSS world. Apart from Android’s rise, Torvalds’s rant, and a tasty ice cream sandwich treat, the year also saw some big changes taking place for popular Linux distributions. While many of the changes ranged from annoyingly buggy to downright unusable, a few pleasant minty surprises did manage to cleanse the Linuxiens’ palettes.

    • The Linux top 10 hit parade

      Picking the top ten Linux distributions is fraught with problems. There’s very little hard data to go on and the nature of open source means that most users are getting copies of their favourite Linux release from a variety of sources – from official download channels to third-party sites or even from friends.

    • Austrumi 2.4.5: Small and Mighty

      The Austrumi team released a new version of their operating system recently, on the 30th of September, 2011.

    • New Releases

      • Endian 2.5
      • Calculate Linux 11.12 released

        You are welcome to choose between several flavours: Calculate Directory Server (CDS) if you need a server option; Calculate Linux Desktop featuring a KDE (CLD), GNOME (CLDG) or XFCE (CLDX) desktop; Calculate Media Center (CMC) if a media center is what you want; or, if you would rather prefer a scratch distribution, either Calculate Linux Scratch (CLS) or Calculate Scratch Server (CSS).

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat (RHT) Crosses Pivot Point Resistance at $41.46
      • Get 10% To 20% Returns With Agilent And Red Hat Options

        Tech stocks have taken a beating in 2011, but in my opinion the market has it all wrong. The PowerShares Index (QQQ) has been trending sideways all year in the face of increased revenues and profits. Many tech stocks have been beating estimates and projecting growth into 2012. The QQQ has barely returned 1% for 2011, and 2012 isn’t looking any better. Using LEAPS, you can beat the market and get returns ranging from 10% to 20%.

      • CEO Of Cloud Firm Red Hat Expects To Boost Staff 24%

        Founded in 1993, the company has become a leading provider of support and related services for the Linux open-source operating system, which companies often use to build cloud computing-based data centers. That’s where users store data and apps that they access via the Internet, or the “cloud.”

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu 11.10: Setting up Oneiric

            The latest Ubuntu is slick and sublime, and while it gets a lot right, there’s still some essential tweaks you can do to make the most of your new install.

          • Introducing Ubuntu Calendar Lens for Unity
          • Full Circle Magazine – Lite!

            I know we’ve spoke about a mobile/epub version of Full Circle before, but I have good news! Our latest team member, Jens, is working on an epub edition of FCM which I previewed on our Facebook and Google+ pages. It’s looking good so far, and I hope to have more to show you on that next week some time.

            In the mean time, think of Full Circle Magazine Lite as a quick beta test edition of FCM to read on tablets and mobile phones. The first edition (FCM#56) is available through Google Currents, and app that you can download either from the Android Market*, or the Apple App Store.

          • Poulsbo Looks Better On Ubuntu 12.04, But Still Ugly

            Intel GMA500 “Poulsbo” graphics have a better out-of-the-box experience under the forthcoming Ubuntu 12.04 LTS release thanks to improvements in the open-source field, but ultimately it’s still an ugly mess.

          • Ubuntu AppStore Goes Online

            One thing that GNU/Linux misses the most is marketing. We never get to know about the new and useful tools which are being added due to the lack of PR muscles. Recently Ubuntu made yet another incredible move which makes the application installation process of Windows look ancient. Ubuntu silently took its apps on-line by launching ‘Ubuntu App Directory’ (the name can be more attractive like Ubuntu App Shop).

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Lubuntu is a Nice Clean Desktop

              I am not going to make Lubuntu my day-to-day distro, on this machine. However, I would highly recommend it, and will use it, on older machines. Lubuntu is also a good alternative to those who want an alternative to Ubuntu’s Unity desktop.

            • Xubuntu 11.10 with Xfce4 Desktop

              I wasn’t really planning on installing Xubuntu, but it was the only Live/Install edition with the Xfce desktop that would install on an external USB drive from a USB stick, and that supported the Broadcom Wireless driver required by my HP mini netbook. The Xfce desktop is an alternative for those with older computers with minimal memory and older graphic cards.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • $25 Raspberry Pi Linux PC Said to Arrive in January
    • Enea Inks Binding Deal To Sell Nordic Consulting Business

      Enea said it would focus on operating systems solutions and has the building blocks to deploy an entire system solution featuring Linux, realtime operating systems and hardware environments. Also, Enea would continue to offer services such as training and product related consulting services through their consulting units in Phoenix, Bucharest and Beijing. After the divestment, Enea would have 400 employees in 9 countries.

    • LLVM/Clang On The ARMv7 OMAP4 PandaBoard ES

      Here’s a quick look at running the LLVM/Clang compiler on the OMAP4460-based PandaBoard ES compared to the default GCC compiler.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Android for Dummies: Make your own build of CyanogenMod

          For those of our readers that are looking to get into Android ROM development, but may not know where to start, there is a new tool created by XDA developer Lithid that will allow you to start some basic experimenting using the popular CyanogenMod ROM. The project, entitled CyanogenMod Compiler (CMC), allows users to tweak some simple settings such as wallpapers and language packs then compile ROM builds from the CM repository.

        • Best root only applications for Android devices
        • Smartphones getting the ICS update

          With the impending retail release of the Samsung-made Galaxy Nexus smartphone in some parts of the world, Google will be making Ice Cream Sandwich (Android 4.0) open source.

        • 10 apps to add to your new Android phone
        • India To Become Android Super Hub?

          Chennai, the capital of south Indian state Tamil Nadu, is known as an electronic manufacturing hub with multinational corporations setting up Electronics/Hardware manufacturing plants in the region, especially in the Sriperumbudur electronics SEZ. The city is also home to many IT companies is fast becoming the support hub for Android, reports IBNLive.

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Death and Rebirth of the Netbook

        As much as some of the Wintel “partners” would wish small cheap computers to go away, the netbook keeps going like the Energizer Bunnytm. Shipments are down quite a bit from a year ago with all the noise about smart thingies but the netbook is beloved because it is small, cheap, portable and comes with a keyboard.

        Intel has just announced an Atom processor designed for netbooks. At 1.6gHz it can be fanless but at 1.8gHz it wants a fan. In spite of 32nm technology and lots of features to reduce idle power consumption the thing must still be a hog. It uses 3.5 to 10 W while ARMed CPUs are way less than 1W per core. These gadgets are dual-core/dual-threaded. I guess Intel expects heavier batteries will do the trick…

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Unix Server Market Poised For Growth, Transitions

    While the Unix server business has lost much of its glamour in the face of assaults from Windows, Linux, and the cloud, there is still plenty of life — and growth — in the business, although for the foreseeable future that growth will be enjoyed only by IBM.

  • One of the Nails in M$’s Coffin

    In all that time, shareholders reaped short-term gains. Insiders reaped huge windfalls. End users suffered one indignity after another. A better product was not produced until 2009 by which time the world had seen a better way to do IT: GNU/Linux on desktop and server and Android/Linux on mobile devices. M$ has climbed to the top of the “shareholder value” ladder only to find it’s not resting on anything. The monopoly is a house of cards now that OEMs are discovering they can cut M$ out of the stream of revenue. M$ is scrambling to put something forward in the mobile space buying Nokia (more or less) and pushing a laughable product consumers don’t buy and suing competitors to hold them back. In a year or two all this will bear fruit and M$ will be on a downward slide with no bottom.

  • The secret to getting rich in 2012: Open APIs

    If the last decade was all about open source, the next decade will be about open APIs. However, as with open source, APIs aren’t necessarily a guarantee of billions in the bank. They’re simply the ante for playing the technology game at scale. That scale will be determined by who gives developers the best access to data, and that access is a function of open APIs.

  • Security

  • Finance

    • Bill Black: What if the SEC investigated Banks the way it is investigating Mutual Funds?

      The Wall Street Journal ran a story yesterday (12/27/11) entitled “SEC Ups Its Game to Identify Rogue Firms.” “Rogue” is an interesting word with a range of definitions. When it is used as an adjective its meaning is: “a playfully mischievous person; scamp.” The trivialization of the most destructive elite frauds is one of the most common forms of what criminologists call “neutralization” of the moral content of wrong doing. Neutralization increases crime.The actual story makes it clear that the criminals that the SEC was identifying were not “rogues.” They were the CEOs of seemingly legitimate firms. The SEC is identifying “accounting control frauds” – the frauds that cause greater financial losses than all other forms of property crime combined. The SEC is not identifying a few rotten apples, but roughly 100 hedge funds likely to have engaged in accounting fraud. The WSJ describes the SEC’s identification system:

    • Good Luck Occupiers, But Here’s Why “Facebook For Protesters” Won’t Work

      Members of the Occupy movement are building a “Facebook for protesters” called The Global Square, Wired reported yesterday. Less than a traditional social network, it’s an international collaboration network. While a valiant effort, I see 3 big problems with the project’s concept that will limit its success and impact.

      The Global Square is designed to allow Occupy Wall Street, local Occupy movements, and other protesters to coordinate and share knowledge across different content management systems. Some of the reasons for starting the project that its developers told Wired include:

      1. Connecting and mobilizing protest movements
      2. Creating an open-source alternative to Facebook and other corporate social networks
      3. Protesters don’t trust Facebook to keep their data and messages private from authorities

IRC Proceedings: December 29th, 2011

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

Enter the IRC channels now

Cablegate: BSA Smears Sri Lanka’s Government for Moving to Free/Open Source Software

Posted in Asia, Cablegate, Free/Libre Software at 2:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cablegate

Summary: US diplomatic cables from Sri Lanka reveal interesting stories about the small country’s flirtations with freedom-respecting software

According to the following Cablegate cables (first one in ¶7): “During a March 22 meeting with members of the American Chamber of Commerce, DAS Patterson outlined USG views on regional developments of the past two years and asked for insights into the current domestic political situation and business climate. IBM Managing Director and former Amcham President, Kavan Ratnayaka described IBM efforts to support open source software development, noting that Sri Lanka has become an internationally recognized “brand” in the open source community.”

IBM is right because here in Techrights we accumulated many examples of Free software in Sri Lanka. But just like in Thailand, there is a fight back from Microsoft proxies. Let us remember that “[w]hen the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami seriously damaged the coastline of Sri Lanka, Virtusa funded salaries and benefits for its employees as they developed open-source software for disaster relief management. It continues to fund its employees as they travel to disaster-affected countries and assist in implementing the software program.” (see cables below)

The BSA (Business Software Alliance) is not happy with the country’s embrace of Free software. Here is what the BSA says according to cables: “While we see this as a step in the right direction, the Business Software Alliance (BSA) is not fully satisfied with the policy and accuses the government of “more funny business.”"

So when a country seeks digital independence, that is “funny business” in the eyes of the BSA. Good to know. Perhaps the BSA does not speak for FOSS like it claims to. Here are three Cablegate cables from which we extract the evidence:

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Cablegate: Microsoft’s Friends at Frost and Sullivan Bash South Africa’s Migration to Free Software

Posted in Africa, Cablegate at 1:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cablegate

Summary: More cables from South Africa and new information that they provide

Frost and Sullivan, a familiar source of anti-FOSS, pro-Microsoft FUD, brings back memories of South Africa's interesting podcast where experts claimed that Microsoft buddies did a lot of work to derail the government’s migration to Free software. According to the following Cablegate cable, the FUD from Frost and Sullivan is bordering the ridiculous. To them, Internet speed if an impediment of Free software development. What utter crock. From the Cablegate cable: “High cost of internet access is stifling South Africa’s software development industry and thwarting the SAG’s open source procurement policy and commitment to use locally developed software. According to Linda McDonald, an analyst for Frost and Sullivan, the SAG’s plan to save million of rands yearly by cutting out annual software license fees, boost local skills and create more jobs as developers are hired to modify open source software to suit the government’s needs, is a false hope unless the cost of Internet access drops. Unless developers can spend numerous hours in online discussions at an affordable rate, they will not be able to create the necessary programs for the SAG’s software. (Business Day, September 25, 2007)”

What utter nonsense. So accessing forums is the impediment for Free software implementation and the primary cost constraint? This sounds so made up that one might consider it a hoax. A sceptic might ask, how can we know she was not sincere? Well, there is an implicit suggestion there that Free software needs a lot of querying (as though proprietary software needs none), that online forums/E-mail are bandwidth intensive, and that the country is not talented enough for the task (Microsoft used the same insulting talking points and it backfired). So if Linda McDonald was honest, she should probably be fired. But we gave examples of some other Microsoft proxies (like Computing Technology Industry Association) that did similar things to have South Africa abandon its ODF and FOSS plans. It’s like a cult assault. Here is another cable from the same nation. From ¶3: “One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is a nonprofit initiative launched by MIT Media Labs’ Nicholas Negroponte to donate low-cost and rugged notebook computers to poor children of the third world. (For details see http://laptop.org and http://wiki.laptop.org.) The resulting “XO” machine is designed for kids: smaller and lighter than regular PCs, with a waterproof keyboard sized to small fingers, and a carrying handle. Its bright colors prompt comparison to Fischer- Price toys. The XO’s screen resolution is sharp, however, and it comes loaded with an open-source operating system and software ranging from a web browser to e-book reader and puzzle games, as well as applications for word processing, drawing, and composing music. A built-in video camera and wireless modem enable video chat with other users.”

Here is another interesting cable from South Africa. The two newer ones (to us) are:

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