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Links 17/1/2013: Kite HD Debut, Open Access Debate Continues

Posted in News Roundup at 10:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Free Software/Open Source

  • 10 Best Open Source Programs Ever

    Open-source programs refers to the programs whose source code made available and licensed so that anyone has rights to study, change and distribute the software to anyone and for any purpose.

  • Swartz’s open source cause

    Since his suicide, friends and admirers have cast free-information activist Aaron Swartz as a martyred hero hounded to his death by the government he antagonised.

    One newspaper columnist – whose piece on Swartz was accompanied by a photo showing him at his computer, his head encircled by a golden halo – even compared him to an internet-age Martin Luther King Jr.

    But those closest to the 26-year-old Swartz say the hacker prodigy wasn’t out to be a hero.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Health Reports Headed to Firefox

        Do you use the same browser across multiple devices? Have you ever been perplexed at how, say, a particular version of Firefox might offer perfect, fast performance on one computer, but the same version is pokey and prone to crashing on another comparable computer? Most browser users are familiar with these conundrums.

      • Firefox OS App Day announced for developers
  • SaaS/Big Data

  • CMS


    • Fellowship interview with Anna Morris

      Anna Morris is co-founder of FLOSSIE conference for women in Free Software, Manchester Fellowship Group Deputy Coordinator, and Co-Director of ethical-pets.co.uk. She is currently writing a book on video editing with Free Software, and volunteering with Document Freedom Day 2013 in her spare time.

  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

    • VMware Joins Open Source Software Institute

      Within the virtualization world, VMware (NYSE: VMW) can hardly claim to be more friendly to open source than competing platforms such as KVM and Xen. Nonetheless, the company has signed on as a leading member of the Open Source Software Institute (OSSI), a trade organization dedicated to promoting open source solutions in government. Is this a sign of renewed commitment to open source by VMware, or a more mercenary move by the company to protect its slice of the open source market? Here are some thoughts.

      VMware’s relationship with the open source community is a complex one. Most core commercial VMware products are not open source, but the company does maintain some open source tools. In addition, most of its virtualization solutions support Linux as well as proprietary operating systems. Still, now that open source virtualization platforms have matured to become as feature-rich and robust as many of VMware’s tools—and are also available for free—the company faces an increasingly difficult market within the open source space.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Ignorance: Old Trout Puppet Workshop used ‘open-source’ process

      Attending an adult puppet show about the evolution of human happiness created by a collective from Alberta may not be your idea of a fun way to spend an evening. But the Old Trout Puppet Workshop could alter your perspective. Their latest show, Ignorance, is witty, imaginative, and asks the big questions while indulging in loopy child’s play, some of it moderately X-rated.

    • Facebook, Intel, & Rackspace get more open-source than ever with new designs
    • Rackspace Announces Open Source Datacenter Strategy

      Rackspace launched the industry’s first OpenStack powered cloud platform of compute, storage and networking in 2012.

    • Open Access/Content

      • It’s time for transparency

        A far more urgent task for a government which has promised ”a new era” of openness would seem to be determining why the system is in such turmoil and sending an unequivocal message about what is expected of the public service. And acting to abolish those application fees wouldn’t hurt either.

      • To Make Open Access Work, We Need to Do More Than Liberate Journal Articles

        In the days since the tragedy of Aaron Swartz’s suicide, many academics have been posting open-access PDFs of their research. It’s an act of solidarity with Swartz’s crusade to liberate (in most cases publicly funded) knowledge for all to read.

        While this has been a noteworthy gesture, the problem of open access isn’t just about the ethics of freeing and sharing scholarly information. It’s as much — if not more — about the psychology and incentives around scholarly publishing. We need to think these issues through much more deeply to make open access widespread.

  • Programming

    • Google Wants LLVM To Mainline x32 ABI Support

      The Google Native Client (NaCl) team is looking to upstream some of their LLVM changes such as support for Software Fault Isolation (SFI). As part of pushing forward the changes for Native Client in LLVM, they’re also looking to see mainlined the x32 ABI support. X32 is the Application Binary Interface that looks to take advantage of common x86_64 CPU features like increased CPU registers and more instruction set extensions while using 32-bit pointers.

      David Sehr of Google, part of their Native Client team, wrote a new mailing list thread on Tuesday about upstreaming x32 ABI support inside LLVM. What the NaCl team would like to work on next with their LLVM upstreaming is the x32 ABI portion, “our ABI is dependent on the existence of an ILP32 ABI on x86-64. The conventions we rely on are the same as those developed for the x32 effort, and we propose that the community begin reviewing changes to implement the x32 ABI.”

    • Software Development in the Obama Campaign

      A cobbled-together team of 40 developers built 200 apps in the cloud that could scale from hundreds to millions of users in minutes — and managed to meet their deadline with no major failure.


  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • North Korea accused of hacking South Korean newspaper

      South Korea has accused North Korea of carrying out a series of cyber attacks on the web sites of South Korean government and financial institutions over the past few years. North Korea denies the allegations. A few days before the cyber attack on the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper, North Korea had threatened to stage a “military attack” on the newspaper company and other media firms in Seoul. The threat came after controversial media reports were published about a children’s festival in Pyongyang.

    • Java Security Madness
  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Cablegate

    • Delivery for Mr. Assange (if not trojaned by spooks)

      A parcel containing a camera is sent to Julian Assange at the Ecuadorian embassy in London through the Royal Mail. Through a hole in the parcel, the camera documents its journey through the postal system.

    • Assange’s mum calls for counter protest

      CHRISTINE Assange says a British student organising a protest against her son is unwittingly aiding the misuse of rape allegations as a political weapon.

      Simone Webb is gathering support for a January 23 rally at Oxford University to coincide with a video address by WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange to the exclusive institution’s Union.

    • Punishment Before Trial: More Than 1,000 Days and Counting

      The punishment of Bradley Manning goes directly against the Uniform Code of Military Justice’s own laws, namely Section 813 article 13, which basically states, “No punishment before trial.” This law was obviously broken. People in this country are entitled to a “speedy trial,” which is normally between 100 and 120 days from the date of the crime. Bradley Manning has been incarcerated for more than 1,000 days before his trial has begun and even a United Nations investigation confirmed that Manning was being held in inhumane conditions that was tantamount to torture.

    • Judge limits Manning’s whistle-blower defense, pretrial confinement nears 1,000 days
  • Finance

    • Goldman Sachs And The Big Hedge Funds Are Pushing Leverage To Ridiculous Extremes
    • Revolution for Income Equality (blog)

      The transitions from feudalism and other pre-capitalist economic systems to modern capitalism have always and everywhere been celebrated for bringing a new epoch of human history. Freedom, democracy, and equality were the hallmarks of those celebrations. The French Revolution of 1789 raised the slogan of liberte, egalite, fraternite. The US has long celebrated its capitalism for producing a vast “middle class” that permanently overcame previous societies’ tendencies toward extreme inequalities of wealth and income. Yet the recent decades-long rise in such inequalities inside most capitalist economies has led many today to see in capitalism not the enemy but rather the cause of rising economic inequality. Here we take up that argument and move it a step further to show how a transition to workers self-directed enterprises is a necessary change to solve the problem of rising economic inequality. Our thesis is that the many well-intentioned efforts over the last century to overcome extreme inequalities of wealth and income failed because they left intact the capitalist system with its inherent tendency to produce economic inequality.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Vietnam admits deploying bloggers to support government

      Vietnamese propaganda officials have admitted deploying people to engage in online discussions and post comments supporting the Communist Party’s policies.

      The party has also confirmed that it operates a network of nearly 1,000 “public opinion shapers”.

    • Dennis Kucinich Joining Fox News

      Throughout his career in Congress, Dennis Kucinich has marked himself as somewhat more than a mouthpiece for left-leaning liberal counterpoints. But in his new job as contributing Fox News analyst, that’s pretty much what he’ll be.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Paperless medical records : where’s the privacy protection?

      oday’s announcement from the Health Secretary that all patient medical records will be held in electronic form by 2018 has grabbed some headlines, but the underlying privacy risks seem to have been given short shrift.

      Paperless records is a nice soundbite but the change creates significant privacy risks. The Department of Health needs to be absolutely clear who will hold our medical records, who can access them and reassure patients that their privacy will not be destroyed in another NHS IT blunder.

    • Justice Department Keeps GPS Tracking Legal Opinions Secret

      The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has received what it considers to be two key memos, which indicate how the Justice Department views when it can and cannot legally track Americans with GPS tracking devices. The memos requested after the ACLU sued the department in a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request are both heavily redacted to the point where it makes it pretty much useless that the Justice Department released them.

    • Secret Government Document Reveals: German Federal Police Plans To Use Gamma FinFisher Spyware

      The German Federal Police office has purchased the commercial Spyware toolkit FinFisher of Eleman/Gamma Group. This is revealed by a secret document of the Ministry of the Interior, which we are publishing exclusively. Instead of legitimizing products used by authoritarian regimes for the violation of human rights, the German state should restrict the export of such state malware.

      In October 2011, German hacker organization Chaos Computer Club (CCC) analyzed a malware used by German government authorities. The product of the German company DigiTask was not just programmed badly and lacking elementary security, it was in breach of German law. In a landmark case, the Federal Constitutional Court of Germany ruled in 2008 that surveillance software targeting telecommunications must be technologically limited to a specific task. Instead, the CCC found that the DigiTask software took over the entire computer and included the option to remotely add features, thereby clearly violating the court ruling.

    • Planet Blue Coat: Mapping Global Censorship and Surveillance Tools
    • Spies on the corner

      A quick Google search for IntelliStreets shows that the company has attracted the attention of activists who are worried that these lighting products represent a kind of spy tool, and a spooky public monitoring system that would strip citizens of their right to privacy and bolster law enforcement activities.

  • Civil Rights

    • Obama re-election ‘not objective’ – Russian monitors
    • Uzbek Cotton Slavery Campaign

      I am delighted that a new canpaign has started today against the state enforced child slavery in the uzbek cotton industry, especially as this campaign originates in Germany, where a significant portion of society appears to have finally woken up to the reality of the German government’s appalling complicity in the Nazi style regime and atrocities of Karimov.

  • DRM

    • Pharma Companies Try ‘DRM’ For Drugs As A Ploy To Stymie Generics

      One of the striking features of the drug world is how pharma companies become noticeably more inventive immediately before their patents are due to run out and their drugs are about to enter the public domain. That’s because they need to find a way to differentiate themselves from the generic manufacturers that are then able to offer the same medicines for often vastly lower prices.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Carmen Ortiz and Stephen Heymann: accountability for prosecutorial abuse
      • MIT’s Role as Described in Aaron Swartz’s October Motion to Suppress ~pj

        It portrays MIT as the core problem in this tragedy. In fact, there are claims that it was actually MIT who was breaking computer laws. Because not only did Aaron Swartz have JSTOR guest visitor privileges on MIT’s completely open network, it claims, but once MIT discovered Aaron’s laptop, all it had to do was disconnect it from the network and hold it, according to the filing. If Aaron showed up to claim it, they could tell him that they felt he was excessively downloading and to cut it out. And that could have been all there was to it. Instead, MIT contacted the police and the rest is the tragedy that ensued.

      • Aaron Swartz’s Politics
      • Dear Aaron Swartz, Please Save Me From Your Followers. Amen.

        In a freak legal accident straight out of the movie Brazil, Swartz, amidst his hacktivism, managed to download a bunch of free academic articles from a freely accessible website, an act which inexplicably angered somebody in the academic sausage-grinder. Then, like so many hacktivists before him and so many hacktivists that will come after him, the government proceeded to pursue Swartz as their target as this decade’s lottery-selected cybercrime scapegoat.

      • Reddit founder’s dad: Son ‘killed by government’

        The two fathers’ anguished comments came as criticism continued to mount against U.S. Attorney Carmen Ortiz, who has refused to comment. A citizen’s petition at Whitehouse.gov calling for her ouster topped 33,000 signatures last night — 8,000 more the threshold needed for an official response. A White House official said the petition is being reviewed. Ortiz and Assistant U.S. Attorney Stephen Heymann are under fire for what critics call an overzealous prosecution of Swartz. The reddit.com co-founder was facing more than 30 years in prison on charges of hacking into MIT computers to freely post academic papers held by a subscription service.

      • New ‘Aaron’s Law’ aims to alter controversial computer fraud law

        The CFAA is incredibly broad and covers swaths of online conduct that should not merit prison time. To point out that under the CFAA, Aaron’s defense was hard is not to say that I believe Aaron was guilty. Aaron was authorized to access JSTOR as a result of being on MIT’s campus. The CFAA may protect the box from unauthorized access, but it does not regulate the means or the speed of access. If you are allowed to download, and Aaron was, then it is not a crime to download really, really fast. Even if the server owner would prefer you took your time.

      • A Sad Irony: The Federal Judiciary’s PACER Pricing Is Illegal

        Most people have never heard of PACER, and those who have might not have heard of it prior to the press coverage surrounding Aaron Swartz’s untimely death on January 11th. PACER is the federal judiciary’s database of all federal court cases. It includes information on civil, criminal, and bankruptcy cases. All of the information in PACER is public.

        But it is not free. That is why Aaron was trying to download it—because he was savvy enough to understand the importance of access to information in the justice system at a remarkably young age, without being a lawyer—and because the Administrative Office of the Courts never suspected that someone like him would take incredible advantage of a short trial period in 2008 when the per-page pricing suddenly dropped to zero at a few locations nationwide.

      • “Aaron’s law,” Congressional investigation in wake of Swartz suicide
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A Single Comment

  1. Needs Sunlight said,

    January 17, 2013 at 12:11 pm


    Left out of most descriptions of Swartz’s plea bargaining is the fact that they were still trying to get him for 13 felony counts, not misdemeanors. That’s for downloading articles that were freely available to him at the time.

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