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01.11.12

Links 11/1/2012: US Pressures Spain, SOPA Protests

Posted in News Roundup at 9:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Windows to Mac to Windows to Mac to… Linux? It doesn’t matter.

    I’m just as productive on Linux as I was on OS X, and there’s no reason you couldn’t be too

  • Server

    • AT&T Makes a Big Bet On Linux and Open Source in the Cloud

      While there are a number of open source solutions emerging for cloud computing, OpenStack remains one of the best backed platforms, with vendors ranging from Hewlett-Packard to Dell to Citrix supporting it. OpenStack got its early momentum from Rackspace and NASA, though, and late last year Rackspace announced Rackspace Cloud: Private Edition, which is an OpenStack-powered cloud platform featuring managed services and–most important of all–operational support. Now, AT&T has announced that it is delivering an open source cloud platform based on OpenStack, dubbed AT&T Cloud Architect. It signals a big bet on open source from a major telco.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Linux Desktop new goodies: Razor-Qt and Cinnamon

      While there’s no doubt that the leaders in the Linux desktop contest are GNOME and KDE, that does not mean they are catered for everyone. Different people have different needs and there were and still are voices in the community that criticize some of the choices the designers of the two desktops made. We, as always, prefer not to take sides, but we noticed that, as it often happens in Open Source, alternatives started to appear, addressing the aforementioned issues. Today we’ll talk about two of the alternatives, so you know you always have a choice. So, for GTK and/or Qt fans that know how to install software on their distro of choice, we give you Cinnamon, an alternative to Gnome3, and Razor-Qt, a lightweight alternative to KDE4.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Interview with Brian Alleyne, Sociologist Studying KDE

        A few months ago, the British journal Sociology published an article titled “Challenging Code: A Sociological Reading of the KDE Free Software Project”. Eager to find out what a ‘sociological reading’ of KDE entails, Dot editor Oriol Mirosa rushed to contact the article’s author, sociologist Brian Alleyne, who graciously and patiently agreed to be the subject of an interview. Read on to learn more about Brian, sociology, and the significance of KDE for the social sciences:

      • KDE Plasma Desktop Wallpapers

        KDE offers a very attractive desktop environment that is highly customizable. After installing KDE users will most likely want to configure their desktop wallpaper. With KDE you can easily select a different image to use as the desktop background, or you can use solid colors. Background images and be stretched, tiled, and centered as well for convenience. To access your desktop background settings you can simply right-click on your desktop background, then select the desktop settings option. The KDE Plasma desktop provides a fantastic interface for managing wallpapers, and thousands more are only one click away.

      • The Great Features of KDE Workspaces and Applications – Interlude

        Many of you have been asking for my color theme and my widget style that I’m using in the blogseries, so I finally decided to upload it :)

        The style itself is the nice shiny Oxygen, the default widget style that ships with KDE Workspaces. I just tuned the scrollbars a little and you can do that too – just open System Settings, go to ‘Application Appearance’, select ‘Style’ and right next to the widget style combobox is ‘Configure…’ button. Open that, switch to ‘Scrollbars’ tab and tweak it to your liking. I use 10px width and no top and bottom arrow buttons. All the rest is default.

      • Qt 4 moved to open governance

        Since we released Qt under open governance on qt-project.org, there was always one piece missing. The Qt 4 repository was so far still handled in the old system. This was done as a simple prioritization, to get the parts of Qt that we considered most relevant for the development community out first.

  • Distributions

    • Zorin OS 5.2 Lite released
    • BrowerLinux: A Linux Distro For The Sole Purpose Of Browsing The Web

      Apple has made famous the phrase “There is an app for that“. In the open source Linux world, you can apply the same saying too: “There is an distro for that“. Indeed, for whatever functions you want your OS to perform, there is a distro for that. Need a media center? Mythbuntu. Need a multimedia creation tool? UbuntuStudio. Need a distro for kids? DouDouLinux. Need a lightweight OS that runs in old computer? Lubuntu. Need a super lightweight distro that can fit into your USB drive? DamnSmallLinux. Need a distro for browsing the web? BrowserLinux.

    • New Releases

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Happy New Mageia Year!

        Welcome back from the holidays! It seems like we’re all refreshed, we all had a great time and we’re all ready to dive into 2012 and make Mageia even better.

      • On disaster reports

        2012 started as a rather interesting year. Perhaps influenced by the so-called “Mayan Doomsday” prophecies, people today reported hearing strange rumbling noises coming from the Earth.

        Interestingly, the Linux world also has its own disaster predictions–you always listen that Linux is finished on the desktop, that the desktop computer itself is finished, and a myriad more.

        One of the predictions that I read is that 2012 will be the definite year of Mandriva’s disappearance. Since Mandriva was the distro that made me migrate to Linux, I must admit that I received the news with a grave heart.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat to Host Virtualization-Focused Virtual Event and Announcement
        on January 18
      • Fedora

        • Fedora 16 Times 3: One Month, Three Versions

          I was walking around Fry’s over the holidays. One of the numerous Linux magazines in the technical publications section had an interview with someone at Canonical, and the title on cover was something like “Unity is a Conversation We Must Win”. There was so much wrong with that sentence I wonder now if it read that Unity was a Conversion that they must win. It does not work for me personally either way.

        • Fedora 17 Has More Features: GIMP 2.8, GCC 4.7, oVirt, Etc

          Fedora 17 (a.k.a. the Beefy Miracle) already has an impressive list of new features coming, but several more features have been added to their planned list.

          The Beefy Miracle already has a beefy list of possible changes like maybe the Btrfs file-system by default, multi-touch advancements, GNOME Shell software rendering, and many other features, but now there’s even more.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian passes CentOS as most popular Linux for web servers

        Last year, Debian GNU/Linux and CentOS were the most popular Linux distributions on web servers. According to recent monthly figures from W3Techs, Debian has recently regained the top spot from CentOS and was running on 29.4 per cent of Linux-based web servers (9.6 per cent of all web sites). CentOS had held the lead by a few per cent during most of the last year; Debian moved ahead by a small margin at the end of the year.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu TV brings Linux to television
          • Ubuntu TV eyes-on
          • Unity-based Ubuntu TV takes on Google TV
          • Canonical CEO: Ubuntu tablet OS will battle Android, iOS

            Jane Silber is on a mission to get the Ubuntu Linux distribution onto mobile devices and TVs, rather than be stuck on desktop PCs. The CEO of Canonical (which makes Ubuntu) took over from the previous CEO, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth, in March 2010, but has been with the company since shortly after its 2004 founding. Right after New Year’s Day, she paid a visit to InfoWorld offices in San Francisco to talk with InfoWorld Editor at Large Paul Krill about Canonical’s ambitions in the mobile market as well as reflect on Canonical’s successes and what separates it from rivals.

            [ Also on InfoWorld: Canonical has been looking to attract mobile application developers to its platform. | Read InfoWorld's Mobile Edge blog for the latest perspectives on mobile technology. ]

            InfoWorld: What are Canonical’s goals for the client distro, the server distro, the smartphone distro, and tablet distro, and how will you measure success on these fronts?

            Silber: On the client side, it’s about moving from the desktop to other form factors. So tablet, TV, and at some point down in the future probably phone, but that’s a bit off. And success, there is commercial success in terms of device manufacturers wanting to ship Ubuntu and its user base, its user adoption. There is a real demand for an alternative platform. We believe Ubuntu has all the characteristics that are needed to become that platform.

            To continue reading, register here to become an Insider. You’ll get free access to premium content from CIO, Computerworld, CSO, InfoWorld, and Network World. See more Insider content or sign in.

            Jane Silber is on a mission to get the Ubuntu Linux distribution onto mobile devices and TVs, rather than be stuck on desktop PCs. The CEO of Canonical (which makes Ubuntu) took over from the previous CEO, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth, in March 2010, but has been with the company since shortly after its 2004 founding. Right after New Year’s Day, she paid a visit to InfoWorld offices in San Francisco to talk with InfoWorld Editor at Large Paul Krill about Canonical’s ambitions in the mobile market as well as reflect on Canonical’s successes and what separates it from rivals.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 247
          • Checking Out The Ubuntu TV Prototype

            First of all, after seeing the working Ubuntu TV prototype at Canonical’s CES booth, I was impressed considering that it all came together in just about three months — since the Orlando 12.04 summit where Mark Shuttleworth shared his vision of bringing Ubuntu to TVs and smart-phones. Canonical isn’t ready with any Ubuntu smart-phone yet, which they hope to have ready by Ubuntu 14.04 in two years, but the TV work by them and the community is coming along quickly.

          • Unity 5.0 Arrives In Ubuntu 12.04
          • Flavours and Variants

            • HealthCheck: Linux Mint

              The success of Linux Mint is down to its usability – easy to set up and get running and then use. The latest development is a new user interface, Cinnamon. Richard Hillesley looks at the history of Mint, claimed to be the second most popular Linux distribution after Ubuntu, and considers whether Cinnamon marks a turning point for the distribution.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • British company looks to create cheap, open platforms

      A British community interest company, Rhombus Tech, is part of the way towards developing a micro-computer on a circuit board, much like the Raspberry Pi.

    • Raspberry Pi bids for success with classroom coders

      A test version of the Raspberry Pi computer has attracted bids of more than £3,000 in a fund-raising auction on eBay. With the machine about to start its first major production run, could it be the right tool to revitalise computer science in schools?

    • We’ve started manufacture!
    • The Raspberry Pi is being manufactured
    • Raspbery Pis are in the oven!

      Following the news that the Raspberry Pi foundation was auctioning 10 of the beta model B boards on eBay comes the news a lot of people have been waiting for: they’ve started manufacturing the production models! The Raspberry Pi blog has all the details.

    • Allwinner A10: A GPL-compliant computer for $15

      This is getting seriously ridiculous. Relative to the power and feature sets computers are getting cheaper and cheaper. But they don’t come much cheaper than the Raspberry Pi, a $25 computer designed specifically to encourage children to program. My colleague, Ryan Cartwright wrote about it right here on FSM.

      At $25 it has excited huge interest. But what if I told that it will be bested by an even cheaper computer. Do I hear $20? Do I hear $15? Yes, you heard that right (and it’s being sold in China for $7, for God’s sake). It is planned for educational purposes and as a retail product too. It’s being developed by Rhombus Tech.

    • Phones

      • Tizen Project Releases Preview of OS Source Code

        The Tizen project, which is developing an open-source operating system for devices like smartphones and tablets, is offering a download of the alpha release of the source code of the operating system.

      • Android

        • Polaroid Announces a Smart Camera Powered by Android!
        • Google TV powers Sony, Vizio Blu-ray players, media streamers

          Several companies have announced Blu-ray players and media streaming boxes for Google’s Android-based Google TV TV platform. Sony has its NSZ-GS7 Network Media Player and NSZ-GP9 Blu-ray disc player, Vizio tipped its VBR430 3D Blu-ray player and VAP430 Stream Player — as well as several Google TV-enabled R Series HDTVs — and E Fun will provide its Nextbox set-top.

        • FXI Demonstrated Ubuntu, Android Powered USB PC At CES 2012
        • FXI Technologies’ Cotton Candy: Android 4.0 and Ubuntu on the world’s smallest PC (hands-on)

          FXI Technologies showed off its Cotton Candy PC for us a few months ago, but since then the company has added Android 4.0 and Ubuntu with a Unity UI as supported OSs, along with the original Android 2.3. It still runs on a dual-core Cortex A9 processor and has quad-core Mali 400 graphics that’s purportedly powerful enough to play 3D games. The device itself can be booted via USB or HDMI, effectively turning any television set into a computer. It’s important to note that when using over HDMI, it still requires power over USB.

        • Nuance Announces Dragon Go! For Android, Throws Its Hat In As A Siri Competitor
        • Polaroid develops Android camera combo

          Polaroid clicked into gear at CES this week, launching an Android-powered smart-camera with built-in Wi-Fi capabilities and access to the Android Market.

        • Solar powered Kindle case revealed at CES

          I finally succomed to an ebook reader this Xmas. After having spent years of standing by the traditional “dead tree” format, I made the jump after reading over the shoulder of a fellow passenger on the train recently. I instantly took to e-ink and found its far more comfortable for long drawn out reading sessions than wrestling with a book.

          Despite what I consider as rather high prices for the new ebook titles (when you compare them to the “physical” paperback versions) I still think its a great method of reading and whilst I opted for Amazon’s product, there are a slew of alternatives out there, to which I believe most, if not all are Linux powered.

        • Eric Schmidt: Android Is Differentiated, Not Fragmented

          We’ve spent the better part of yesterday cruising around the Central Hall on a quest to highlight the coolest tech at CES, but Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt was on hand at CNET’s Next Big Thing panel to talk about the future of consumer electronics. While doing so, he (perhaps unsurprisingly) made it clear that he isn’t a fan of the word “fragmentation” when it comes to Google’s Android OS.

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Pantech Announces LTE Tablet For AT&T

        Pantech making their second announcement for AT&T today this one is a Tablet. The Tablet will feature a 8 inch screen, and run on the LTE network. The tablet will be $299.99 with a two-year contract, with planned availability on January 22. The tablet runs android 3.2 and will be waterproof as well.

      • OLPC Unveils XO 3.0 Tablet for Kids in Developing Nations

        At the core of the XO3 is Marvell’s 1 GHz, single-core Armada 618 SoC, which we’ve seen in tablets such as Vizio’s $330 8-inch tablet. The SoC supports Wi-Fi 802.11n, Bluetooth 3, 3G cellular networks, USB 2 and HDMI interfaces, as well as a digital camera with up to 16MP resolution. Marvell says the 618 is capable of delivering 1080p video encoding and decoding at 30 fps.

      • Asus spins more Tegra 3 tablets, starting at just $249

        Not content with shipping the world first quad-core Android tablet, Asus is now showing two more Nvidia Tegra 3 models at this week’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES). They’re the seven-inch Eee Pad MeMo ME370T — which will reportedly sell for just $250 — and the Eee Pad Transformer Prime TF700T, with enhanced wireless performance and a 10.1-inch display that packs an impressive 1920 x 1200 pixels.

Free Software/Open Source

  • FOSS and Names

    It started recently when I bumped into this Larry’s post.
    This persuaded me to think (one more time) about names of operating systems and applications in the world of Open Source.
    The post I linked above tells us that names are not always as good as they originally appear. And it gives at least 4 examples where developers needed to think twice before arriving at the current name.

  • Open Source PageMaker Alternative Scribus 1.4.0 Released With 2000 New Features

    After nearly two years since the last stable release and four years since development began, open source desktop publishing software Scribus has released version 1.4.0. Over 2000 new feature requests and bugs have been resolved in this release since the development started, making it the first major release in several years.

  • Google Release Source Code Of Google Body

    Google is one of the strongest proponents of open source. The company has released the source code of Google Body, a project that company retired last year along with many other such projects. The project has already found a ‘suiter’ body.

    Zygote Media Group has created a Zygote Body using this open source code. Zygote Body offers the same navigation, layering, and instant search as Google Body. Like Google Body, Zygote Body can be used in browsers that support WebGL, like Chrome and Firefox, without needing to install additional software.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Gets Down to Business With Slow-Burn Firefox

        Six months ago, Mozilla’s Asa Dotzler — one of the original members of the team that built the Firefox browser — made it quite clear that the open source outfit wasn’t interested in helping businesses. Their only aim, he said, was serve individual web surfers. “Enterprise has never been (and I’ll argue, shouldn’t be) a focus of ours,” Dotzler said.

      • Delivering a Mozilla Firefox Extended Support Release

        We are pleased to announce that the proposal for an Extended Support Release (ESR) of Firefox is now a plan of action. The ESR version of Firefox is for use by enterprises, public institutions, universities and other organizations that centrally manage their Firefox deployments. Releases of the ESR will occur once a year, providing these organizations with a version of Firefox that receives security updates but does not make changes to the Web or Firefox Add-ons platform. We have worked with many organizations to ensure that the ESR balances their need for the latest security updates with the desire to have a lighter application certification burden.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice Firms Up, Drops Half Its Excess Weight

      “One of the unfortunate things that LibreOffice inherited, as part of the several decades worth of unpaid technical debt, is unused code that has been left lying around indefinitely,” wrote Michael Meeks, a Linux desktop architect at SUSE who coordinates LibreOffice development work, in a blog post on Monday.

    • Oracle releases new Big Data Appliance

      The appliance is an engineered system of hardware and software that incorporates Cloudera’s Distribution including Apache Hadoop with Cloudera Manager, plus an open source distribution of R.

  • CMS

    • Drupal conference keynote to focus on accessibility

      One of the major plus points about free and open source software is that it adheres to widely accepted standards. Rarely does any software of this genre seek to create its own standard in order to do what proprietary systems do – grab marketshare.

  • Education

    • “An Open-Source World”? Where’s The Open Source?

      If we are to believe the early signs, 2012 may well be the year that British schools finally start to address the continuing shame that is ICT teaching. As I and many others have noted, the current approach essentially consists of sitting people in front of Microsoft Word and Excel and making them learn a couple of commands on the menus. It seems that the message has finally got through to the powers-that-be:

      Imagine the dramatic change which could be possible in just a few years, once we remove the roadblock of the existing ICT curriculum. Instead of children bored out of their minds being taught how to use Word and Excel by bored teachers, we could have 11 year-olds able to write simple 2D computer animations using an MIT tool called Scratch. By 16, they could have an understanding of formal logic previously covered only in University courses and be writing their own Apps for smartphones.
      (Or they might just sit down and write a new operating system kernel as someone else did a few years ago.)

      Those words – amazingly – were pronounced earlier today by the UK Education Secretary Michael Gove as part of a long-awaited speech about the future of ICT teaching in the UK.

    • School ICT to be replaced by computer science programme

      The current programme of information and communications technology (ICT) study in England’s schools will be scrapped from September, the education secretary has announced.

      It will be replaced by an “open source” curriculum in computer science and programming designed with the help of universities and industry.

      Michael Gove called the current ICT curriculum “harmful and dull”.

      He will begin a consultation next week on the new computing curriculum.

      He said this would create young people “able to work at the forefront of technological change”.

      Speaking at the BETT show for educational technology in London, Mr Gove announced plans to free up schools to use curricula and teaching resources that properly equip pupils for the 21st Century.

      He said that resources, developed by experts, were already available online to help schools teach computer science and he wants universities and businesses to devise new courses and exams, particularly a new computing GCSE.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Does your local government promote meaningful citizen engagement?

      In a previous post I discussed how Faith Gordon requested the City Council in Lackawanna, NY to make available to the public copies of the entire Council meeting agenda not just a summary. Ms. Gordon requested that the entire City Council meeting agenda including resolutions, memos etc. be put on-line, so that the public can see what the Councilmembers see when voting at a meeting.

      The response Ms. Gordon received from one Councilmember was, “Why do we have to put it on the website? I don’t understand,” said 3rd Ward Councilman Francis J. Kulczyk. “Do we have to do it? Who else does it?”

  • Openness/Sharing

Leftovers

  • Ottawa prepares to launch anti-spam centre
  • Health/Nutrition

    • Rick Santorum Would Be Best President Health Insurers’ Money Could Buy

      I don’t expect that Rick Santorum will be our next president, despite his near-win in Iowa and a decent showing in the New Hampshire primary. I’m pretty certain that when more voters become
      aware of his views and voting record, Santorum will join Michele Bachmann and Tim Pawlenty as former contenders for the GOP nomination.

      But if by some strange turn of events he is sworn in a little over a year from now as our 45th president, no one will be happier than the executives I used to work with in the health insurance industry. Santorum was without a doubt one of the most reliable go-to guys in the Senate when insurers needed a champion for one of their causes. That was certainly true in regard to the industry’s efforts to shift ever-increasing portions of the cost of medical care from them to us.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Spain’s Ley Sinde: New Revelations of U.S. Coercion

      While U.S. officials are scrambling to pass domestic Internet censorship legislation in the name of curbing copyright infringement, they’ve been much more effective in their efforts to export these laws abroad. Previously, we’ve examined US attempts to pressure the prior Spanish presidential administration to enact harsh copyright laws. A new letter reported by the Spanish newspaper, El Pais, reveals that the U.S. government didn’t miss a beat when they renewed their threat to put in place trade penalties toward Spain unless the new government enacted a copyright law in a timely manner. The US was dangerously close to getting their dream legislation in Spain last year, but were disappointed when the Spanish executive office deferred to fully enact the copyright law, Ley Sinde, due to its wide unpopularity. Digital activists and Internet rights lawyers internationally recognized that this Spanish law would overtly skirt due process, violate personal privacy, and limit freedom of expression.

    • US pressured Spain to implement online piracy law, leaked files shows

      The US ambassador in Madrid threatened Spain with “retaliation actions” if the country did not pass tough new internet piracy laws, according to leaked documents.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • ALEC and Westin/Starwood: Who is Your Hotel in Bed With While You’re in Bed at Your Hotel?

      Tucson-based civil rights attorney Stacy Scheff believes that Westin Kierland may have violated federal constitutional law when they threw a journalist (and paid guest) out into the dead of night–due to the simple fact that the journalist evicted had written critically of (and was not liked by) the organization hosting a conference at the hotel. (A new story about these events is available here).

    • Inside ALEC: Naked Contempt for the Press and Public in Scottsdale

      Scottsdale, Arizona–A suburb awash in money and golf courses, set against the backdrop of the jagged mountains surrounding Phoenix.

      I was sitting in a sports bar of the Westin Kierland Resort and Spa, swapping journalism stories with Olivia Ward of the Toronto Star on one of the bar’s overstuffed leather couches. Over the course of an hour, the bar filled with conventioneers from the American Legislative Exchange Council’s 2011 States and Nation Policy Summit (SNPS). (A new story on Westin’s connections to other ALEC corporations is available here.)

  • Censorship

    • Notice & Action: EU Commission Must Put Freedom of Expression First

      Following a consultation held in late 2010, the European Commission just announced an action plan on the role of Internet actors in the policing of online content1. One key issue is that of “notice and takedown” measures, which are today implemented in total opacity at the expense of users’ freedom of communication. As the global war on sharing rages, this announcement underlines the pressing need for citizen involvement in this crucial debate to better protect our freedoms online.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Help Preserve the Canadian Public Domain: Speak Out on the Trans Pacific Partnership Negotiations

        Canada celebrated New Year’s Day this year by welcoming the likes of Ernest Hemingway and Carl Jung into the public domain just as European countries were celebrating the arrival of James Joyce and Virginia Woolf, 20 years after both entered the Canadian public domain. Canada’s term of copyright meets the international standard of life of the author plus 50 years, which has now become a competitive advantage when compared to the United States, Australia, and Europe, which have copyright terms that extend an additional 20 years (without any evidence of additional public benefits).

      • TPP Copyright Extension Would Keep Some of Canada’s Top Authors Out of Public Domain For Decades

        Last week I posted on the government’s consultation on joining the Trans Pacific Partnership negotiations and its potential effect on Canada’s public domain. According to a leaked draft of the proposed intellectual property chapter, the TPP would require countries (such as Canada, New Zealand, and Japan – all current or potential TPP members) that meet the international copyright term standard of life of the author plus 50 years to add an additional 20 years to the term of protection. The extension in the term of copyright would mean no new works would enter the public domain in those countries until at least 2033 (assuming an agreement takes effect in 2013).

      • TPP’s Other Copyright Term Extension: Protection of Sound Recordings Would Nearly Double in Duration

        Europe has been embroiled in a controversy over the copyright term of sound recordings for the past few years. While the law provided protection for a 50 year term, major record labels argued for an extended term to generate more profits from older recordings. Proposals to extend the term in the UK and Europe were widely panned as independent studies found that benefiting a few record labels would come at an enormous public cost (see here or here). For example, the UK Gowers Review of Intellectual Property concluded:

      • Up On My SOPA Box…..

        By now, most people who pay attention to our government and have a pulse, are aware of the Twin Titans of Tech Terror, SOPA and PIPA.

        I am guessing those people comprise about 12 percent of America’s population. The rest are either in tears over Kim Kardashian’s divorce or are ticking off the days until the new season of Dancing with the Stars.

        I’ve often stated that if we were to take measure of the average US citizen’s IQ, based on their television viewing habits, they would place comfortably between a bag of hammers and….uh, Kim Kardashian.

      • Reddit’s anti-SOPA “Nuclear” protest is a good start

        Reddit, the popular link-sharing and social networking site with over 2 billion page-views and 35 million active users a month, is taking the nuclear option in protest about the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) and PROTECT IP draft laws by shutting down on January 18th for 12 hours. During that time, Reddit will suspend its normal operations

        “Instead,” the Reddit administrators state, “of the normal glorious, user-curated chaos of reddit, we will be displaying a simple message about how the PIPA/SOPA legislation would shut down sites like reddit, link to resources to learn more, and suggest ways to take action. We will showcase the live video stream of the House hearing where Internet entrepreneurs and technical experts (including reddit co-founder Alexis ‘kn0thing’ Ohanian) will be testifying. We will also spotlight community initiatives like meet-ups to visit Congressional offices, campaigns to contact companies supporting PIPA/SOPA, and other tactics.”

      • Reddit’s Nuclear Attack On SOPA, The Anti-American Bill

        Reddit, one of the most popular social news site, has decided to go Nuclear to protest the dangerous SOPA, the anti-American bill. The site has threatened to blackout reddit on January 18th from 8am–8pm EST (1300–0100 UTC). Which means there will be no reddit for 12 hours.

        Wikipedia is also planning to block access to Wikipedia in the USA. Many other sites are planning similar protest. It is shameful that the US congress has ignored all the warning by the IT expert and are going ahead to push the bill. These congressmen are not working for the benefit of users or US citizens. They are working for the Hollywood and the corporations who are funding them to pass this bill.

Danish Presidency Wants to Open Europe to Patent Trolls and Software Patents, Italy Reportedly Surrenders

Posted in Patents at 4:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Danish flag

Summary: The Danish Presidency starts its term with disappointing developments that put Europe at risk and the Danish Business Minister claims that Italy gave up its sovereignty, too

THIS year we see Denmark getting the magic wand that is sure to give it fame and notoriety.

The Danish Presidency starts on the wrong foot. It does not look out for the interests of Europe. The Danish EU “Presidency will carry forward efforts to introduce Unitary Patent,” tell us patent folks, who trouble us a lot because they only care about their tax on innovation, not innovation itself (as they impede it). Some UK-based lawyers say that a referendum is possibly imminent, but what facts will the public be given if it happens? Here is the relevant part:

Now with the Danish Presidency at the helm, some are questioning whether the unitary patent proposals will be pushed through with the same momentum as under the Polish Presidency or whether they will languish on the sidelines. With an upcoming plenary vote by MEPS to take place in February (although there is some rumor it will occur this month), the AmeriKat will be interested to see how the Danish presidency will handle this issue. According to this blog post on the Kluwer Patent Blog by Anders Valentin of Danish law firm Horten, apparently the Danes are also concerned about the current proposals and left and right-wing parties have demanded a referendum on whether Denmark should join the unitary system.

One source of opposition to the unitary patent is said to have fallen, but the source for this allegation is just this one article so far (for all we know). It says:

Italy is ready to join the European Union patent system, leaving Spain as the only outcast from the scheme, Danish Business Minister Ole Sohn, whose country holds the EU presidency, said Wednesday.

Introducing a unified patent system – doing away with the need to protect inventions individually in each of the 27 EU states – is seen as a key step to boost the bloc’s competitiveness.

We shall wait and see if it’s just a single person’s fantasy or actually true. We previously saw some wishful thinking-derived disinformation. With software patents in Europe (through the unitary patents) companies like Microsoft will hurt people in Europe with additional taxes, even within communication paths with one's government. The FFII’s president explains that “Microsoft [is] lobbying for royalties in “Open” standards, so that citizens all pay the bill at the end” (source)

“It will allow any US-based troll to rob Europeans just like it robs Americans.”That’s what patents do. Microsoft’s own patent troll makes matters worse, i.e. more expensive for everyone, for the enrichment of sociopaths who are billionaires that legally loot the system using laws they lobby to create. Bringing patent trolls to Europe is the main outcome the unitary patent will entail if it’s passed. It will allow any US-based troll to rob Europeans just like it robs Americans.

Intellectual Ventures, the Microsoft patent troll which is the most radical example of this, is among the main culprits which not only extort real companies but also lobby politicians (using the money they stole from legitimate companies and customers). The business press is promoting this abominable troll even these days, despite all the known problems with this racketeering operation (critics do get mentioned in the article). Whose pockets is the London press in? When will the public be told the simple truth about this pyramid scheme? This practice should be banned in a civil society.

“They are not implementing all parts of the OOXML standard, so he [technical director of Microsoft Denmark] is lying.”

Mogens Kühn Pedersen, chair of the Danish Standards Committee

Linux/Android Still Faces Proxy Challenge

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Oracle, Patents at 4:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“…Microsoft wished to promote SCO and its pending lawsuit against IBM and the Linux operating system. But Microsoft did not want to be seen as attacking IBM or Linux.”

Larry Goldfarb, BayStar, key investor in SCO approached by Microsoft

Summary: MOSAID and Oracle as seen in the context of Android; more new rants about the USPTO, which loses support from the US public

OUR resource page about MOSAID is being expanded as it becomes increasingly evident that Microsoft uses it as a proxy.

Groklaw has been following this patent troll since it took on Red Hat and according to this update, MOSAID’s case becomes ever more bizarre:

If you were a patent holder contemplating suing a bunch of companies for patent infringement, what’s the first thing you would want to know? Do you think maybe it would be that you actually own the patent(s) you are asserting. That thought obviously never crossed MOSAID’s mind when it brought suit back in August against Red Hat, IBM and others. (See Mosaid v. Red Hat – A new patent infringement complaint aimed at Linux).

And if that weren’t bad enough, your attorneys then demonstrate they have no clue that the America Invents Act (patent reform act) was signed into law on September 16, 2011, or that pleading patent infringement requires something more than saying I own a patent and you infringe it. These guys can’t get anything right.

Of course, what makes it all the worse is that MOSAID Technologies is that patent troll that has now climbed into bed with Microsoft and Nokia to try and cause more havoc with Android. There are a number of things I love about Canada – MOSAID is not one of them.

Let’s recap the history of this litigation. MOSAID brought its original complaint (PDF; Text] for patent infringement on August 9, 2011, against Red Hat, IBM, Alcatel-Lucent, Adobe, Juniper, VMWare, and NetApp. That original complaint asserted two U.S. patents: 6,505,241 (’241), allegedly infringed by Adobe, Alcatel, IBM, Juniper, and NetApp; and 5,892,914 (’914), allegedly infringed by Red Hat. Interestingly, although VMware is identified as a defendant in the heading and as a party to the suit, the complaint contains no specific allegation that VMware infringed either of the patents, despite the fact that VMware’s vFabric GemFire Platform is identified as an infringing product. Screw-up number one.

On September 16, 2011, President Obama signs the America Invents Act into law. More on that in a bit.

On September 27, 2011, purported defendants IBM, Juniper, Adobe, Alcatel-Lucent, NetApp, and VMware wrote to MOSAID informing MOSAID of its second big mistake – MOSAID didn’t own the ’241 patent. Oops!

After receiving the Complaint, defendants discovered that MOSAID could not assert the ‘241 patent because more than three years earlier—on June 30, 2008—MOSAID’s predecessor-in-interest, Network Caching Technology, LLC, had dedicated the entire patent to the public pursuant to 35 U.S.C. § 253.

Screw up number two!

For those who are new to it, MOSAID tried to get Nokia patents (with Microsoft’s help) through some dodgy route in a tiny European country. B&N complained about it. It saw what was happening there and the obvious target is Android/Linux.

The patent system is a big sham and the hype we see about patents in the news ought to stop because it kills the real, i.e. producing, industry. Ed Lazowska, writing for Xconomy, is one of the latest to complain about the patent system. He writes:

Just about everything about the system is broken. In my view it is working strongly against real innovation. Major companies amass enormous portfolios of questionable patents that they can use to bludgeon one another (until they sign cross-licensing agreements, at which point only the little guys are left to be bludgeoned). Organizations that are not in the innovation business acquire portfolios that they assert for profit alone. I have absolutely nothing against the licensing of substantive innovations by those in the innovation business, whether by major companies or little guys . But much of what goes on today does not fall into this category, and something needs to change. I am not sufficiently expert to make appropriate detailed proposals, but I am sufficiently expert to smell a rat.

Yes, this man is getting it. Then there are rats like Tuxera, which acts more like a Microsoft proxy (we are still working on it by speaking to XFS copyright holders). There is this new press release about this rat which helps Microsoft put a patent tax on Android and Linux. To quote:

Marvell and Tuxera’s joint solution is designed to reduce overall development cost and enable faster time to market for customers’ NAS platforms..

Only if your aim is to make Microsoft the standard (Microsoft’s file systems). This is one of the ways Microsoft currently extorts backers of Android, according to what we learned from the OIN (ActiveSync is another vector, but it’s under NDAs). Then there is Oracle’s attack on Android, the latest on which is summarised as follows:

A judge’s ruling on the Android Java patent battle between Google and Oracle has given both battling companies some wins and some losses. A potentially embarrassing email by a Google engineer has been allowed in as evidence. On the other hand, Oracle has been limited in its ability to introduce other evidence for its claim that Google has infringed on its Java language patents.

We still believe that the lawsuit may have been motivated by Steve Jobs, who is Larry Ellison’s best friend. Apple will hopefully get spanked in the courtroom for patent violations, to the point where Apple will need to rethink its stance on patents. One of the major lawsuits against Apple is from the dying Kodak, which turned into a patent aggressor in light of its failures:

The 132-year-old photography icon has been pummeled by consumers’ switch to digital. Its fortunes deteriorated further last year, and it said in November that it could run out of cash in a year if it couldn’t sell a trove of 1,100 digital-imaging patents.

Given that Kodak keeps suing Apple, we hope that Kodak keeps those out of the hands of trolls and keeps giving Apple reasons to reconsider its patent strategy.

Only Fools and Horses… Run Windows on the Server

Posted in Microsoft, Servers at 3:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Horses

Summary: Microsoft server chief leaves the company as the company’s share in servers declines; back doors recalled

THE exodus of Microsoft executives was covered here when we watched the company very closely, especially in 2009. Although we no longer follow this sort of stuff (Microsoft is dying on its own), the Microsoft booster writes about an important departure that serves as evidence of the problem Microsoft has got against GNU/Linux, especially on servers in this case. To quote:

Corporate vice president Robert Wahbe is leaving Microsoft at the end of next month, according to an updated version of his corporate biography here.

Wahbe is responsible for all product and business management for Windows Server, SQL Server, Visual Studio, System Center, and Forefront – meaning he’s in charge of pricing, packaging, branding and advertising. Microsoft’s $15bn Server and Tools group is also home to Microsoft’s cloud effort, Windows Azure.

There was no word on why Wahbe is leaving or where he’s going, while it’s reported here he is being replaced by Office product management group corporate vice president Takeshi Numoto.

Not just Apache is ahead of Microsoft when it comes to Web servers (another player is ahead of IIS now). The monopolist just cannot offer good reasons to choose something proprietary. Given that we now know for a fact about back doors in proprietary software, only a fool would put Windows on Internet-facing servers. And speaking of back doors in secret code, Xbox turns out to have them too (although in another form):

In June 2009, a Massachusetts state trooper was gathering evidence in a case that involved a suspect having sex with an underage girl. He hoped to find one crucial piece of evidence—video of the encounter—on a digital device from the suspect’s home. But the device wasn’t a computer; it was the suspect’s game console. The investigator was stumped as to how to sift the device for clues, and he turned to a digital forensics mailing list for help.

[...]

Do police actually hang out on Xbox Live, trying to strike up audio chats with criminal suspects, then recording the conversations as evidence for investigations in robberies, child porn cases, and more? Apparently they do. A Microsoft presentation to law enforcement, included in the leaked e-mails, makes clear that “investigators may participate in Xbox live in undercover operations.” The company even sketches out diagrams for recording suspect conversations by building a special “Frankenbox.”

Investigators have long wanted access to IP-based voice services like Skype and, more recently, those offered on game consoles. Thanks to laws like CALEA, they already possess potent wiretap capabilities on traditional phone networks. Internet communications can be tapped, but when they are also encrypted, things get difficult. (When communications are peer-to-peer, rather than passing through central servers, this can get even dicier.) In 2010, the FBI was pushing to extend CALEA to a much broader array of Internet applications, forcing the companies behind them to provide built-in, realtime backdoor access to encrypted communications. The agency backed off a bit in 2011, but it still has its sites on IP-based voice chatting of all kinds.

Recall what we wrote about COFEE [1, 2].

IRC Proceedings: January 10th, 2012

Posted in IRC Logs at 5:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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