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04.01.12

Links – An Outbreak of Laws to Justify the Worst Spying. Exposed Racism and Pollution

Posted in Site News at 2:40 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Reader’s Picks

  • Building a GSM network with open source
  • Microsoft Office 365 vs Google Apps

    Princeton University’s Office of Information Technology recently polled 150 students who tested Google Apps’ Gmail and Microsoft Office 365 and results showed only two preferred the latter.

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • Paul Vixie tells us how he and the FBI are dealing with the Windows born malware, DNS Changer and Conficker

      Many victims would have to reinstall Windows on their computers — which at first was the only sure cure for this particular infection. On top of that, many of the victims have had their DSL or Cable modems (“home routers”) reconfigured by the DNS Changer malware, so that they were using ISC’s replacement DNS servers even if none of their computers are still infected and even if none of their computers were running Windows. Most Internet users do not have the skills necessary to check and repair the configuration of their home routers, and most Windows users are also unwilling to reinstall Windows. So, even when we could identify and notify a victim, we had a hard time “closing the deal”. … We still don’t know the identities of any of the criminals who foisted Conficker on an unready world back in 2008. But we do know that the victim population has not dropped below six million (6,000,000). So we still collect the “sinkhole” data about these victims, we still report on it to network operators, and every year we buy another rack of disk drives to hold the next year or so worth of data. We’re out of ideas for how to get people to care that their computers are infected with Conficker.

      The new deadline is July 9 2012. You can check your own non free embedded systems at http://dns-ok.us/.

    • The Illusion of Security Or: How to hack CitiBank

      Several years ago, I was working as a trainer in a Citibank call center. … The building was locked down. … since every computer in the building had access to the complete financial history of every single person who’d ever done business with Citibank … [but] … I went to my own computer, and found many other sites I could access. The Center for Information Technology Integration. Cities Restaurant. The Cape IT Initiative. Random websites that had one thing in common. They started with the letters CITI. … That night, I registered citi.ryanestrada.com

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Who Makes $250,000 a Year? Not Small Business Owners
    • The Rich Get Even Richer

      In 2010, as the nation continued to recover from the recession, a dizzying 93 percent of the additional income created in the country that year, compared to 2009 — $288 billion — went to the top 1 percent of taxpayers, those with at least $352,000 in income.

    • Banksters

      The US required cities and states to buy, from the banksters, billions of dollars worth of fixed-rate loans as a hedge against possible high interest rates. Then the US drove down interest rates to cater to the banksters, making our cities lose while the banksters win.

  • Anti-Trust

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • CMD/PRWatch Asks Ethics Board to Examine Corporate-Funded Gifts to ALEC Legislators

      Although ALEC describes itself as the largest membership group for legislators, over 98% of its $7 million budget is from corporations and sources other than legislative dues. Documents obtained via Wisconsin open records law and other sources show that ALEC corporations are funding lawmakers’ out-of-state travel expenses to posh resorts for ALEC meetings with corporate lobbyists, in addition to gifts of entertainment and exclusive parties.

  • Censorship

    • China’s Twitter-Spam War Against Pro-Tibet Activists

      Over the last week, supporters of Tibet, and the merely curious, have seen information warfare up close. On Twitter, several hundred bots (automated programs that generate content) flooded discussions using the hashtags #Tibet and #Freetibet with meaningless tweets and spam. If you were someone trying to learn more about Tibet, you kept bumping up against these threads, and eventually you may have given up and moved on to some other subject. … More malevolently, Tibetan activists have been threatened on Twitter.

      It’s nice to see mainstream media understand some of the problems that people on technical forums pointed out a decade ago. It’s too bad they only took note when it happened to something they cared about.

    • Protesters See Tweets Used Against Them

      This and recent demands of Facebook passwords are an attempt by the rich and powerful to intimidate people and keep them from organizing. Don’t let them shut you up or drive you underground.

    • Study Finds China Censorship Of Social Media Is Real, Pervasive

      an online publication of the University of Illinois, Chicago, finds that censors in China delete around 16 percent of the messages submitted to Sina Weibo, the popular micro blogging Web site that many have likened to a Chinese version of Twitter.

    • Sarkozy’s plan to criminalize the mere viewing of Islamist web sites is running into some opposition.

      Note how Sarkozy cites the prohibition of “child pornography” as a precedent for prohibiting access to a political opinion. The idea that this was the thin edge of the wedge is no longer just a theory. It is an excuse for censoring all sorts of things. No matter how disgusting some works may be, censorship is more disgusting.

    • A Colossal Mistake of Historic Proportions: The “JOBS” Bill

      From the 1970s until recently, Congress allowed and encouraged a great deal of financial market deregulation … Congress is about to make the same kind of mistake again – this time abandoning much of the 1930s-era securities legislation that both served investors well and helped make the US one of the best places in the world to raise capital. … A new venture could raise up to $1-2 million through internet solicitations, as long as no investor puts in more than $10,000 (section 301 of HR3606). The level of disclosure would be minimal and there would be no real penalties for outright lying. There would also be no effective oversight of such stock promotion – returning us precisely to the situation that prevailed in the 1920s.

      See also, “This business startups act is a hucksters’ charter

  • Privacy

    • Protecting your Facebook privacy at work isn’t just about passwords

      Many big firms use “lawful interception” appliances that monitor all employee communications … [and] may use keyloggers, screenloggers, and other spying tools to watch what you do and capture your passwords. If your employer, school or institution gets to control the software on your computer, you can’t know that it’s not snooping on you at all times. … the presence of your employer’s self-signed certificate in your computers’ list of trusted certs means that your employer can (nearly) undetectably impersonate all the computers on the internet, tricking your browser into thinking that it has a secure connection to your bank, Facebook, or Gmail, all the while eavesdropping on your connection.

    • Consumer Privacy Defended In FTC’s Caution To Congress On Data Brokers

      the FTC called for legislation to give consumers access to personal data held by brokers and allow them to correct any inaccurate information. … to create a national standard for notifying customers if their data is lost in a data breach, suggested mobile application companies — and websites more generally — create “short, meaningful” privacy disclosures and urged the software industry to create a “Do Not Track” mechanism on browsers to let consumers choose how much of their information is collected online and how it is used. … Though largely unknown to the general public, data brokers gather information from a variety of public and private sources, including home purchase histories, change of address forms, credit card activity and even address information from local pizza delivery shops … Then they sell that data to buyers who use it for a variety of purposes, often for online marketing.

    • Don’t Let Congress Use “Cybersecurity” Fears to Erode Digital Rights

      H.R. 3523, also known as the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act of 2011, would let companies spy on users and share private information with the federal government and other companies with near-total immunity from civil and criminal liability. It effectively creates a “cybersecurity” exemption to all existing laws.

      See also this

    • This Creepy App Isn’t Just Stalking Women Without Their Knowledge, It’s A Wake-Up Call About Facebook Privacy

      See also, TLO aggregation service founded by Hank Asher.

    • Yes, the States Really Reject Real ID
  • Civil Rights

    • Cancer v. the Constitution

      I had never encountered this clinical scenario during my training in Canada. I had never seen a woman suffer because she couldn’t afford something as simple as a Pap smear, never mind deal with the indignities of shopping around her sorrow and hard luck to try to patch together what would inevitably be inadequate medical therapy. It is this reality of medical care in America for which I was wholly unprepared.

    • Who is Insulting the Middle Class?

      A deep irony, underlying our political season, is that the U.S. middle class…the biggest victims of the first decade of this century, are also being slandered relentlessly. The ongoing campaign of propaganda that democracy can’t work and we should turn to oligarchy has many threads.

    • Anna Brown: 29-year-old Black Woman Dies in Jail After Being Dragged By Police Out of Hospital
    • All Parties Ignore the One Way to Reduce Health Care Costs: Single-Payer

      Research shows that single-payer reform could save about $380 billion annually that’s currently wasted on insurers’ overhead and the unnecessary paperwork (and screen-work) they inflict on hospitals, doctors and patients. That’s enough money to fully cover the uninsured and eliminate copayments and deductibles for the rest of us

      The non free software business managers tend to favor are another problem that take years to undo.

    • Police face racism scandal after black man records abuse
  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • The House GOP Plan to Gut the FCC

      The bill, H.R. 3309, is called the “FCC Process Reform Act of 2011.” … will disable the FCC, not reform it. … by creating a special set of vague and novel procedural hurdles for the FCC to which no other agency is subject and that will require another decade of litigation to clarify. … [and] significantly reducing the FCC’s ability to take the public interest into account … making every single one of the FCC’s regulatory analyses in support of a new rule — and not just the rule itself — subject to judicial review. Don’t like the FCC’s suggestion that public interest values are worth taking into account? Sue, and paralyze the Commission.

      I imagine this is mostly aimed at stopping the FCC’s TV white space Open Spectrum initiatives. Big media already has egregious monopolies but Open Spectrum can undo them, so publishers seek government unjust government protection of their technically obsolete business models.

    • Mobile operators seek to ‘block’ Skype in Sweden

      Now that Microsoft has admitted to spying on Skype users, this is a good idea but that’s not what ISPs have in mind.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

Links 1/4/2012: Munich Enjoys GNU/Linux, Gentoo 12.1 LiveDVD is Out

Posted in News Roundup at 10:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Ask Stack: How can I find a good open source project to join?

    This Q&A is part of a biweekly series of posts highlighting common questions encountered by technophiles and answered by users at Stack Exchange, a free, community-powered network of 80+ Q&A sites.

    Lord Torgamus asks: I want to join an open source project for the same reasons as anyone else: I want to help create something useful and become a better coder.

  • Gorilla Free Software Marketing, Chapter 8: Community Metrics

    Revolutionary movements require revolutionary progress. However, at the start of a Movement, such progress may not be immediately evident to those whose views of progress have been tainted by commercial software, where progress is measured by feature enhancements, quality improvements and user satisfaction. These are false idols and the shallow view of progress they support are irrelevant for true free software.

    Rejecting the repressive capitalist view of progress-as-production and production-as-consumption, and the doctrinaire emphasis on results-oriented metrics, we instead adopt the dialectic of progress-as-being and being-as-becoming, with metrics illustrating not what is produced, but what is willed. Rather than galley slaves, prodded by whip lashes to “row harder!”, our motto shall be: “row louder!”

  • TACC Releases Open Source Display Tiling Package

    AUSTIN, TX, March 28 — The Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) at The University of Texas at Austin has released a new open-source software package called DisplayCluster that is used to drive large-scale tiled displays and allows scientists to interact and view high-resolution imagery and video up to gigapixels in size.

  • ☆ OSI Affiliate Scheme Grows

    It’s been an open secret all month, but two new members have joined the Affiliate scheme at OSI – Spain’s CENATIC (the national open source competency centre that’s been so important to the government adoption of open source in Spain’s regions) and the venerable Debian Project. Both bring a much-needed international flavour to OSI, along with a wealth of hard-won experience.

  • Web Browsers

  • Education

    • You Can Acquire Open Source Companies, But You Can’t Buy Open Source Community

      Blackboard has just announced its acquisition of Moodlerooms and Netspot, two companies that help provide support and deployment services for schools that use the open-source LMS Moodle.

      “Wait. What?” is an acceptable, albeit mild response.

      This is, after all, the LMS giant — one that once claimed the patent on e-learning technology and sued other companies who provided competing software. Blackboard now says it is embracing open source — “Ours is no mere dalliance with open source, but a very committed plunge into the pool,” says the company’s Ray Henderson. To that end, Blackboard has also announced it’s creating an Open Source Services Group that will help institutions manage their open source LMSes, including Moodle and Sakai.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Ruby Creator Wins Free Software Award
    • GNU Telephony and cross platform development

      With cross platform development comes some important questions of software freedom. There would be no true software freedom if we said we would permit our software to compile and run only on specific platforms, that is after all what proprietary software vendors often do. However in GNU Telephony we do principally develop and test our software on GNU systems specifically and do not have expertise in or interest in supporting proprietary ones.

      If people wish to work on or support other platforms also, they are certainly free to do so. As one of our goals in GNU Telephony is ubiquity, this is essential. However, unlike some groups who choose such goals, or distributions who choose “popularity” as their essential goal, we will never do so if it means also compromising the freedom of our contributors and users. Given this, if people want to submit patches for building and running on other platforms, we are happy to take such patches in, so long as they do not break features or functionality on free software platforms, and do not impose any additional restrictions on how we convey software to others.

    • GNUtrition 0.31.1 Released

      GNUtrition is a diet and nutrition analysis program for the GNU Operating System. The US Department of Agriculture Nutrient Database of Standard Reference is used as the source of food nutrient information.

    • FSFE celebrates Document Freedom Day by sending handcuffs to policymakers

      The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) is celebrating open standards today in an annual event called Document Freedom Day. The event, which was first held in 2008, is observed on the last Wednesday of March. The purpose of the celebration is to raise awareness of the critical role unencumbered interoperability and open standards play in protecting data from vendor lock-in.

      According to the FSFE, 34 organizations are hosting 48 events in 17 countries to honor the occasion. The FSFE’s list of Document Freedom Day partners includes The Document Foundation, the KDE eV, the Pirate Party of Baden-Württemberg, and many regional Linux user groups.

  • Public Services/Government

  • Open Hardware

  • Programming

Leftovers

  • World Backup Day

    Thanks to our friends the Millers, I learn that yesterday was World Backup Day. I don’t know why it was especially important to be backed up on March 31st, unless because of worries that Anonymous was going to carry out their threat to bring down the Internet. If that had happened, and you use the “cloud,” you’d want a local copy.

  • Hardware

    • World’s slowest Linux computer, says ‘Hello Wor…’ (video)

      Evidently tired of smooth running graphics, lightning fast processing and bags and bags of available memory, programmer Dmitry Grinberg decided to go back to computing basics. And then some. As Linux was developed on a 32-bit machine with 1MB of RAM, this has always been considered the minimum system requirements to run the open source OS.

  • Finance

    • Goldman, Landesbank argue CDOs in US appeals court

      A U.S. appeals court was asked on Friday to decide whether Goldman Sachs Group Inc and TCW Asset Management Co should have foreseen the housing market implosion that caused a $37 million loss for German state-owned Landesbank Baden-Wurttemberg.

      A three-judge panel on Friday did not make an immediate ruling on a trial judge’s decision last September to dismiss the German bank’s lawsuit claiming fraud against Goldman and TCW, an investment advisor.

  • Privacy

    • Ex-Googler Fears Google’s Greed, So He Launched A Company To Protect People From It
    • Snooping law – Why be concerned? Its the UK Government!

      So now we start getting some of the actual facts and not the bold headlines or the wishy-washy text from the BBC. So it appears, no, your actual data activity will not be monitored in real time, just your affiliations whilst in cyberspace. So the requirement of a warrant still is in place for anything more and I’d suggest that if an intelligence agency has a level of interest in you which would have your affiliates logged, then there would be a warrant on the cards anyway. A lot of fuss from the average user about nothing and a good way for the UK to look as if its not completely lost on its tech vision. Remember “digital Britain”? And how about your digital contract with your ISP? If I interpret mine correctly, I’ve already agreed for them to give my particulars away to any law enforcement agency if so requested – without warrant. In respect of my ISP, no new law or even warrant is required to get this information. More likely this is a good chance for the UK Government to pretend they are doing something.
      In the UK we’ve seen the expertise the courts and the criminal/civil justice system operate under – dealing with a chap who recorded a movie on his phone in a cinema in order to post it on the net for nothing but having an “image”, blundering through a circus like the ACS:Law case, where in the end, it was the law firm itself (not the alleged File-sharers) that ended up with big problems.

IRC Proceedings: March 31st, 2012

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:44 am 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

IRC Proceedings: March 30th, 2012

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:35 am 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

SUSE POS is Repackaged Red Hat, Largely Ignored by the Press

Posted in OpenSUSE, SLES/SLED at 2:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

microvellarax

Summary: A look at some SUSE news, of which there is very little

THE world of SUSE has been quiet. Hardly anything is being written about it, not even many HOWTOs. SUSE has this new press release which hardly got any press coverage, with few exceptions:

SUSE Linux Enterprise Point of Service includes a centralized directory-based administration server and point of service (POS) branch servers, as well as tools and templates to easily create, roll out and maintain operating system images for a wide variety of POS devices.

Security enhancements include full disk encryption on terminals for both data and root partitions, making it easier for administrators to build PCI DSS compliant systems.

This is mostly covered like a press release, always repeating itself:

New release will create, launch and maintain operating system images for a wide variety of POS devices

SUSE is just using a lot of Red Hat’s work in this case. It rallies a small number of developers who repackage things and openwashes itself by setting up activities.

Speaking of Red Hat, the company’s results are impressive and we hope to hear from the company’s CEO soon (they invited us to ask him questions). Curiously enough, another patent lawsuit has just been filed against the company and Groklaw has the details:

A company called Business Process Modeling Solutions LLC, doing business as DE-BPMS LLC, filed suit against Red Hat (and a separate suit against IBM) asserting infringement of U.S. Patent No. 5,873,094 (Text of Patent). (Complaint [PDF; Text])

This yet again emphasises the need to address the subject of patents. As Groklaw‘s Webbink puts it, it “strikes me as just the type of claim that will have trouble under the Bilski standard, but it certainly wouldn’t hurt to see what can be found in terms of prior art. This patent was filed July 3, 1997, but it claims priority back to a filing made April 11, 1995, so prior art must pre-date this earlier priority date.”

Xamarin to Dump Mono, Repackage C# for GNU/Linux Instead

Posted in Microsoft, Mono at 2:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: April shower of news from Xamarin

In a move expected by many industry observers, Xamarin clarified that Mono was “an utter waste of effort”; Xamarin reached an agreement with another ape-themed company — an agreement to distribute a rebranded version of Visual Studio and related products.

“Our CTO already got a Microsoft MVP title, removing all pretences and blowing away our cover.”
      –Manfred Tan
“The openwashing of C# was already done anyway,” remarked Manfred Tan, the CEO of Xamarin. “Our CTO already got a Microsoft MVP title,” he emphasised, “removing all pretences and blowing away our cover. So we might as well go all the way.”

Shareholders of Xamarin (both of them) were very excited by the news. “I am overfilled with joy,” one of them was quoted as saying, adding that he has never been so excited about anything since Silverlight was released by Apesoft.

C# 2012, All Rights Reserved(R#)

In more serious news, who gets excited about Microsoft news [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] that dilutes “Open Source” and openwashes proprietary software.

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