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Links 14/4/2012: Mandriva Speaks Out, Firefox Demotes Flash

Posted in News Roundup at 11:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Machine Learning with WEKA: An Interview with Mark Hall
  • Syllable chalks up new release

    Syllable, an attempt to write a desktop-focused operating system from scratch using best practices, has notched up a new milestone, with its developers releasing 0.6.7 today.

  • Friday Favorite: Audacity 2.0

    Audacity, the venerable and much loved open source audio editor, has a 2.0 release today in versions for OS X, Windows and GNU/Linux.

  • Eaton touts open-source SDK as a boon to power management

    UPS supplier Eaton has released a new open-source software development kit aimed at providing better accessibility and flexibility to users of its power management products.

    RELATED: Cisco, EMC, VMware unite behind big data, cloud training initiative

    Hervé Tardy, the company’s vice president and general manager of distributed power quality, says the ability to substantially modify the management software based on the specific needs of each client is a powerful upside to the firm’s technology.

  • Eaton Offers Customized Open-Source Software to Address IT Manager Power Challenges
  • Open Source Analytics News Service Debuts
  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Flash and Java to be click-to-play in future Firefox

        After more than two years on the back burner, Firefox has finally introduced click-to-play (or “opt-in activation” in Mozilla terms) for all plug-ins, including Flash, Java, and Silverlight. Plug-ins are the single biggest cause of browser slow-downs and security vulnerabilities — and Chrome has had a similar feature for more than a year — so really, it’s about time Mozilla added this to Firefox.

      • Firefox To Require Permission For Plug-Ins

        Mozilla engineers are in the process of improving the security and speed of Firefox by implementing a permission switch for browser plug-ins.

      • Firefox gets click-to-play option for plugins
  • SaaS

    • HP’s Converged Cloud Services: A Very Big Bet on OpenStack
    • Why Open Source Is the Key to Cloud Innovation

      In the 25 years since Richard Stallman wrote the GNU General Public License, free and open source software (FOSS) have become pervasive in computing: Linux, Apache HTTP Server, MySQL and more can be found in large numbers of enterprises across the globe. And open source is now increasingly undergirding cloud computing as well.

      “Open source is certainly at the foundation in terms of building out cloud technologies,” says Byran Che, senior director of product management at Red Hat and responsible for its cloud operations offerings, management software and Red Hat Enterprise MRG, (Red Hat’s Messaging, Real-time and Grid platform). “If you take a look at market share in the server space, as you look at traditional data centers, about 70 percent are running on the Windows platform and about 30 percent are running Linux. As you take a look at what operating systems people are choosing to build applications on in the cloud, the ratio flips completely.”

    • Red Hat and IBM sign on to OpenStack Foundation
    • IT Consultants Build OpenStack Cloud Business Practices
    • OpenStack Wins the Open Source Cloud

      Over the last two weeks there has been a whole lot of news about ‘open’ clouds. From my perspective though there is now one clear winner – OpenStack.

      As opposed to say Eucalyptus or CloudStack, OpenStack has one key item that those other two ‘open’ cloud efforts do not – THE SUPPORT OF EVERY MAJOR LINUX DISTRIBUTION.

    • Open Source ownCloud Debuts Enterprise File Sync and Sharing
  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • CMS

    • 13 Tips for Better Joomla CMS Security

      With the surging popularity of Joomla, it’s no surprise hackers are drawn to it as well. Don’t panic, however. There are a number of things you can do to strengthen your security and turn your Joomla website into a fortress. Read along as we show you how to guard against the most common exploits and hacks that this open source CMS faces.

  • Healthcare

    • If the Other Shoe Drops, I Want Medicare

      More than five weeks ago, when some of my cancer markers were elevated, I began the process of bartering with the insurance company, doing the tests they said would be covered, and then coming all the way back to the start to finally getting the tests my doctors originally ordered. My full diagnosis and treatment considerations have been pending ever since, and that has given me time to think and to remember. Waiting, worrying, and wondering.

      It’s not that I believe every cancer is a death sentence. I certainly know that isn’t the case. I am a uterine cancer survivor. My mom is a two time breast cancer survivor. But I am 57 years old now — old enough to be an expensive liability in our society, especially if I get sick and need care, but too young to be covered by Medicare. If I face a serious illness like cancer again that costs me an awful lot in out-of-pocket expenses not covered by insurance and lost time from making the money we need for survival, I will doom my husband to struggles he doesn’t need and that are not his fault. Bad enough that one of us should be sick, there is certainly no need for me to take him down with the ship.

  • Business

  • Finance

  • Public Services/Government

    • European public services must follow Iceland’s open-source lead

      The global economic crisis has triggered a series of unprecedented social and political upheavals that have left many governments on the brink of bankruptcy. The high volume of debts have engulfed even the most well-managed economies, triggering a chain reaction in which cuts to public sector spending have become inevitable.

      A high profile casualty of these consequences was Iceland, where a collapse in the banking system led to long-running financial and diplomatic crisis. Significantly, it has recently been announced that Iceland is set to swap its high-cost public sector proprietary software solutions in favour of open source alternatives. Strategists behind the move cited cost savings as a prime reason for the shift in solution and, to their credit, this is a perfectly logical reason for engaging with open source alternatives.

    • Digital Native Government Agency Embraces The Power Of Open Source
    • U.S. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau Gets Open Source, Publishes on GitHub
    • Open Government is Go for Launch at NASA

      The new Open Government Plan, “Flagship Initiative,” is the creation of an “accessible, participatory and transparent web environment,” a goal reflected in the new site. Users are welcomed to a colorful, easy-to-read and easy-to-browse database of NASA projects and information — and they’re encouraged to comment on everything.

    • NASA’s Open-Source Open Government Future

      NASA chose its website as flagship for a revamp of its open government plan rolled out yesterday, and — as if to show the agency meant business — did so with a brand-new, brightly colored buzzword-catcher of a website.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Agencies lay out plans for Open Gov 2.0
    • Big Pharmas back open source drug discovery with money and molecules

      Call it crowdsourcing for cures. Fed up with outdated models for finding new treatments that have missed the mark, drugmakers and other public health stakeholders have ignited open source efforts that involve networks of companies and scientists joining forces to discover drugs. And one of the pioneering efforts of this ilk in India is moving ahead with a mid-stage trial for a drug against tuberculosis.

      India’s Open Source Drug Discovery unit, which uses an online infrastructure to connect more than 5,500 scientists and others, revealed late last month with the Global Alliance on TB that the anti-tuberculosis molecule will be investigated in a Phase IIb trial in India, Forbes reported. And the open source group has two more TB molecules in advanced preclinical testing that could eventually enter trials and combat the infectious disease, which kills about 400,000 people annually in India.

    • Linux for Your Electric Car: Techies Create Open Source EVs

      Zero is the Apple of electric motorcycles. The Santa Cruz, Calif.,-based company’s bikes coast out of the factory in gleaming perfection with control software that has been optimized for safety and performance. And, as with iPhones, the source code remains a company secret. Gearheads who like to know every detail of how their machines work or want to modify them either have to jailbreak their devices or start from scratch. They can turn to outside sources but, again, the only option is to buy a motor controller kit from a company that has made all of the configuration decisions in advance.

    • The Tumanako project looks to make electric vehicles open source
    • Better EVs Through Open Source Collaboration

      “People who are into electric vehicles like to be able to tweak them to make them faster and to be able to fix them themselves,” says Philip Court, the director of Greenstage, an electric racecar developer in New Zealand.

    • Boom in Nordic crowdsourcing takes in film, lawmaking
    • How Open Source Drug Discovery Is Helping India Develop New Drugs

      Crowdsourcing can boast of many success stories today, but in 2008, when the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) launched such an effort for drug discovery, there weren’t many. Four years on, its Open Source Drug Discovery (OSDD) network is emerging as a cyber platform to garner resources for developing drugs that pharmaceutical companies don’t find attractive enough.

    • The H Half Hour: Open source and evil genius

      A typical evil genius will attempt to conquer the world and keep his or her plans secret. As any reader of The H knows, that’s no way to build a culture of innovation within the evil genius community. The H was pleased, therefore, to talk to Simon Monk who has been using open source technology, like the Arduino, as the basis for a series of Evil Genius books for aspirant evil geniuses and other people who want to get building open source based gadgetry.

    • Open Data

    • Open Hardware

  • Programming

    • Legit introduces alternate Git workflow
    • Reasons Behind Popularity of Open Source Language for PHP Web Application Development

      PHP as an open source language has gained more popularity from PHP developers and PHP programmers because of its more interactive approach than HTML. Not only it is very fast, secure, economical, and efficiently manages the data but PHP codes can also be incorporated very easily. Moreover, another reason behind its popularity is that a web developer can download it free of cost and customize it according to the project requirements. Several business owners and big corporate are attracted towards PHP custom web application development due to its easy availability and flexible terms and conditions.

  • Standards/Consortia


  • Is Lobbying Closer To Bribery… Or Extortion?

    We’ve certainly talked quite a bit about the institutional-level corruption of the way Congress and lobbying works, but a recent This American Life episode, done in partnership with the Planet Money team takes a much deeper dive into how lobbying works. You absolutely should listen to it. It’s really fascinating, even for folks who follow a lot of this stuff. There is also a full transcript, but hearing the whole thing is quite fascinating. Among the elements that are most interesting are the details of just how much time and effort goes into politicians raising money, and how the various fundraisers work.

  • Whatever happened to Unix?

    Open Source Initiative cofounder Bruce Perens said that, thanks to Apple, Unix is more popular than ever. “We now have more Unix systems than we’ve ever had before. They are in our phones and our access points. I think if you actually set out to count, you could make a graph and show that Unix—if you define Unix as something that serves a POSIX I/O—that Unix is at its peak today,” he said.

    “What’s the difference? We don’t care about the stuff the user doesn’t see. The user doesn’t see Unix. This is something I often have a hard time explaining to companies.”

    And while one of the world’s largest companies—Apple—is based entirely on Unix kernels, that doesn’t mean Unix is on the cusp of a massive comeback. In fact, it would seem that the formal Unix market has essentially stood still in recent years.

  • Security

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Global Oil Production Update: EIA Revises Two Decades of Oil Data

      With the most recent release of international oil production data, EIA Washington has revised figures back to 1985. This is one of the most comprehensive revisions I have seen in several years. Generally, the totals were revised slightly lower, and this was especially true for the past decade. Data for the full year of 2011 has now completed. | see: Global Average Annual Crude Oil Production mbpd 2001 – 2011.

  • Finance

  • Censorship

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Shut your kale-hole

        CHICK-FIL-A sells an average of nine sandwiches per second at its roughly 1,600 restaurants. Bo Muller-Moore paints T-shirts in the garage next to his house in Montpelier, Vermont. In 2011 Chick-fil-A’s sales were more than $4 billion; Mr Muller-Moore (pictured) estimates that his were $40,000.


        They warned Mr Muller-Moore that they had successfully pressured other miscreants into dropping some 30 slogans, from “Eat More Dog” to “Eat More Music”. Their letter also alleged that Mr Muller-Moore’s “misappropriation of Chick-fil-A’s EAT MOR CHIKIN intellectual property…is likely to cause confusion.”

TechBytes in 2012

Posted in Site News at 6:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Techbytes 2012

Summary: TechBytes update after last night’s recording

THIS YEAR I stayed over at Tim’s house a couple of times. I saw how hard it is to record with two young children around (I am godfather of his daughter). Hopefully, having just recorded the second episode of this year, Tim and I will manage to record a lot more regularly and we may also keep the show’s length shorter to make that feasible. Richard Stallman is still scheduled to be on the show, but we haven’t managed to organise anything; even last night’s recording was planned at very short notice (just minutes). Thanks to all those who listen to the show and give it reason to exist.

Focus Change

Posted in Site News at 5:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: A call for the community to become more actively involved in Techrights

DUE to me doubling my working hours and owing to personal reasons, I have not been able to keep up with the news recently, let alone record TechBytes. Patent news items are accumulating in my box, Novell news I have not kept up with in over a month, and Gates watching is very badly curtailed. Right now the priorities have changed to focus on GNU/Linux first, not only in blog posts/wiki but also in our daily links. If anyone is willing to help with news coverage and can contribute posts, please come to the IRC channels to discuss. We still attract thousands of hundreds of hits per day and can’t fulfill the potential of this high reach.

Apple and Google/Android Suffer the Wrath of intellectual Monopolies

Posted in Apple, Google, Oracle, Patents at 4:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Venitian mask

Summary: A quick roundup of legal news about the market leaders in mobile and tablets

Pamela Jones is back to tracking the SCOracle case on a more permanent basis (when she does not help Apple against Psystar and patent trolls). Jones is rightly concerned that copyright law may be putting programming languages in danger, so it’s not just a matter of patents anymore. Both Android and iOS are impacted by the patent troll she’s tracking and yet another patent troll is harming both sides:

PATENT TROLL Touchscreen Gestures has claimed that Apple’s Iphone and Ipad infringe its touchscreen patents.
Touchscreen Gestures seems to be nothing more than a shell company that has ownership of a number of patents that cover screen tapping and dragging gestures. The firm has also claimed that Samsung and Research in Motion (RIM) infringe its patents with their respective tablets.

In other news, Apple gets a taste of its own medicine in Europe. As one reporter puts it:

German Court Upheld Ban On iCloud, MobileMe

Apple needed to get a taste of its own medicine. The Wall Street Journal reports that a regional court in Mannheim (Germany) has upheld its ruling to ban Apple’s iCloud and MobileMe services. Motorola had accused Apple of infringing upon its patent EP0847654. The ban was enforced after the February ruling. Apple had appealed the courts decision challenging the validity of Motorola patent.

Apple and Android don’t get along because the spiritual leader of Apple declared war, but both share some similar problems. They really should work together against software patenting. What we meanwhile are left with is a system which is unfriendly to competition and innovation. Intellectual monopolies are of no benefit to society. They help some of the biggest corporations gain more power over society.

Promotion of Microsoft Linux

Posted in Novell, OpenSUSE, SLES/SLED at 4:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Slipping in talking points

First class mail

Summary: A look at some SUSE coverage from this week

THE OPENSUSE project marks another milestone with something that looks rather crude and unexciting (although it may be a matter of personal taste). The official word and fans/enthusiasts cover the project’s news despite the problems it may bring and Sam Varghese goes batting with the latest PR talking points, perhaps in exchange for something (exclusive interview). He writes:

Moving back to Europe appears to have made a difference. Nils Brauckmann, president and general manager, SUSE, said: “We have a lot to celebrate in 2012. SUSE is a recognised market leader that is well positioned to take advantage of growing demand for commercial Linux and open source technologies.

No, all it does is add a Microsoft tax. The same numbers that we criticised before are quoted again, perhaps in exchange for this interview with Mantal. It says: “Last year, SUSE, since 2004 a part of Novell, was moved back to Nuremberg as a separate unit after Attachmate Corporation bought Novell and took the company private.

“One of the original SUSE hackers, Mantel, rejoined the company a few years back and now has a chance to help the company re-cultivate some of that original culture which made it so well-known.”

Well, if helping Microsoft tax GNU/Linux is what made SUSE “well-known”, then perhaps Mantel is at the right place. In order to avert the threat of Microsoft extortion we must continue to boycott SUSE.

Gartner is Wrong

Posted in Deception at 4:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Wrong way

Summary: Another reminder of why Gartner Group should be ignored for the most part

TECHRIGHTS spent a considerable amount of time showing what the likes of Gartner are really all about. Those firms sell recommendations, just like some financial firms which do exactly that. Those who are unwilling rate the bond the way the prospective client wishes will simply lose the business, which a corruptible firm will then get instead (Moody's for instance) and thrive as a reward for this gross misconduct. Here is a timely reminder of Gartner’s incompetence:

The upshot: Gartner completely misread the netbook market and failed to spot a disruptive technology — tablets — that would reshape the market.

How come some people still cite Gartner? It is grossly overrated and it is funded by the same companies Gartner recommends. The so-called 'analyst tax' is a form of bribe and these practices should generally be investigated.

Microsoft and Slashdot

Posted in Deception, Microsoft at 4:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lady and dog

Summary: Examples of Microsoft AstroTurf in a once “news for geeks” site

TECHRIGHTS compiled a large list of AstroTurfing examples, especially from Microsoft. It’s not an hypothesis but a proven fact with plenty of evidence. Slashdot too seems to have been a victim of this and it failed to cleanse itself from the corrupting influence of Microsoft PR. Recently we saw IDG publishing and pushing Microsoft propaganda into the site whereupon Peter responded as follows:

There’s something about late spring that seems to bring the corporate asstroturf out of the woodwork (oops, I made a “Freudian typo” there!). College graduation is coming up after all, with all those fresh new students hitting the market and becoming truly adult consumers for the first time. Gotta get ready for them. Today’s front page of Slashdot brings us not one, not two, but three examples.

The first is rather telling: An unnamed company employee posts about how their company asked them to asstroturf, posing the ethical question to the hivemind. The comments are surprising in their lack of condemnation, kind of “Meh, if you want to, everyone else does.” Most of them say to go ahead if they feel the social marketing hype is warranted. Almost nobody raises the ethical issue of an employee posing as a customer giving fake reviews of their company’s product. Certainly nobody brings up the potential violation of FCC law.

I always get the blankest looks when I bring up that 2009 FCC ruling. You can hear the fact bounce off the skull with an audible “thud”.

Next, a story posts alleging that the media is unfairly biased against poor widdle Microsoft, while all the other tech companies “seem to get away from missteps unscathed”. The Slashdot crowd barely has time to shovel themselves out from under this mountain of manure when one AC posts pointing out that in fact, the piece author is a paid Microsoft evangelist, a fact not immediately evident from the bald story.

Slashdot is quite rotten these days. The managers allowed it to be this way. From “news for geeks” it became noise for geeks. Microsoft is now trying to pollute FOSS in the same way, hijacking its opposition.

Microsoft Deals Another Blow to Businesses While Trying to ‘Fix’ the Mess It Created

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 3:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Palm trees

Summary: The lesser-known story about Microsoft’s actions against Windows botnets

ACCORDING TO Pogson, Microsoft betrays yet more companies. To quote these quick remarks, “It turns out they were a bull in a china shop breaking all kinds of legitimate sites and blocking the work of real security businesses.”

Here is the original complaint about Microsoft. It says:

A little over 2 weeks ago Microsoft announced operation B71. It was being brought as the biggest blow to ZeuS botnets in history, and was picked up in the media globally

This is just a Microsoft PR campaign, a bit of reputation laundering. The reality is this:

Apart from trust there is one more thing, and that is due diligence, there is no other explanation than Microsoft not having done any due diligence in their actions and verification of data and sources in this case. They wanted to have a quick win, they might have gotten their quick win, but in the process sacrificed a lot. The advice is, check where the data is coming from, check it with your sources, get the confirmation that you can use it. Do not proceed until you are sure everyone has agreed and everything has been verified as much as can be possibly expected from you. Listing and seizing sinkholes and legitimate domains should be limited to a few and not dozens as was the case here.

This whole thing started when Microsoft’s incompetence led to trouble and Microsoft wanted to claim credit for ending a mess that it itself should have been made liable to. Sites like Slashdot were always happy to help this kind of reputation laundering and a case of distraction from the real problem: Microsoft.

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