Links 19/3/2013: Linux 3.8 Approaching, Cyprus Banks News

Posted in News Roundup at 7:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Linux can read optical discs, Windows can’t
  • Taking Stock of Linux Security and Antivirus Needs

    Open source fans like to brag that Linux needs no antivirus software. Yet as executives at security vendor ESET were keen to remind me in a recent interview, that truism holds true only to a certain extent. In an age where Linux commands greater market share, and where a growing number of threats are platform-agnostic, demand for security enhancements may well be on the rise. Is the channel ready?

    That is, of course, what one would expect ESET representatives to say. As a major developer of security software for all operating systems, with a strong presence in the MSP world and about 2,500 VARs in North America alone, the company stands to grow along with demand for antivirus and other security products for Linux.

  • Fusion-io gobbles Brit Linux SCSI gurus ID7

    Fusion-io flogs software to turn a server fitted with its PCIe flash cards into a shared storage appliance. It turns out that the software is based on UK developer ID7′s code and Fusion-io has just bought the company.

  • Ubuntu Gets New Display Server, Goes Rolling Release? openSUSE 12.3 Released
  • Cheap Linux webcam

    Sainsbury’s in the UK is selling the HP HD-2200 Webcam for a very cheap price…

  • Jaguar Land Rover Seeks Automotive Leadership With Linux

    The automotive industry is undergoing a major technological shift and Jaguar Land Rover is at the forefront. The UK-based JLR has embraced Linux as the operating system underlying its next generation In-Vehicle Infotainment (IVI) systems. The company has also taken a leadership role in advocating for open source development within the automotive industry.

  • The Pirate Bay’s Oldest Torrent is “Revolution OS”

    After nearly 9 years of seeding The Pirate Bay’s oldest working torrent is still very much alive. Interestingly, the torrent is not a Hollywood classic nor is it an evergreen music album. The honor goes to a pirated copy of “Revolution OS”, a documentary covering the history of Linux, GNU and the free software movement.

  • Desktop

    • The Linux Setup – Dolores Portalatin, Admin/Designer

      Dolores has an interesting setup, especially her window manager, but I’m really most impressed by the amount of outreach she does in the Linux and Free and Open Source communities. I found Dolores through Arch Linux Women, as I was trying to diversify the kind of people I interview here. Linux is an amazing concept that speaks to lots of different people, but the public face can be a bit homogenous. Dolores and her work helps to more accurately represent the typical Linux users, which seems to be getting less typical—both demographically and in terms of technical skill—all of the time.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Podcast Season 5 Episode 4

      In this episode: OpenSUSE 12.3 is out, Red Hat takes ownership of Java 6, SecureBoot is coming to FreeBSD and Ubuntu ditches Wayland for Mir. We report back on our challenge from a couple of episodes ago, come up with a new challenge, and discuss IT education in our Open Ballot.

    • The Linux Link Tech Show Episode 496
  • Kernel Space

    • The Kernel Column – Linux Kernel 3.8

      Jon Masters summarises the latest happenings in the Linux kernel community, including the closing of the development ‘merge window’ for the 3.8 kernel

    • What Are We Breaking Now?

      End of February devconf.cz took place in Brno, Czech Republic. At the conference Kay Sievers, Harald Hoyer and I did two presentations about our work on systemd and about the systemd Journal. These talks were taped and the recordings are now available online.

      First, here’s our talk about What Are We Breaking Now?, in which we try to give an overview on what we are working on currently in the systemd context, and what we expect to do in the next few months. We cover Predictable Network Interface Names, the Boot Loader Spec, kdbus, the Apps framework, and more.

    • Linux 3.9-rc3 Kernel Brings More Changes
    • Linux 3.9-rc3

      Not as small as -rc2, but that one really was unusually calm. So there
      was clearly some pending stuff that came in for -rc3, with network drivers and USB leading the charge. But there’s other misc drivers, arch updates, btrfs fixes, etc etc too.

    • Graphics Stack

      • The X.Org Foundation Is Undecided About Mir

        The X.Org Foundation hasn’t firmly decided on their position of Canonical’s Mir Display Server versus Wayland.

        The meeting logs for an X.Org Foundation Board of Directors’ IRC meeting from earlier this month have finally been published to the X.Org Wiki.

  • Applications

    • yocto-reader, Will it Replace Google Reader?

      I came upon Yocto-reader in the Debian repositories in my search for a replacement of Google Reader. The front-end is fine, it feels comfortable and familiar. People who live in their browsers and want to keep up with numerous of news should love it.

    • KDE File Manager, Hamsi Manager 1.2, Gets New Tools

      Hamsi Manager, a file manager that can process multiple files at once and that aims to be really simply to use, is now at version 1.2.

    • Migrating to KDE Telepathy

      Last Friday I decided to migrate from Kopete to Telepathy. Believe it or not it was Microsoft that convinced me to migrate. I explain, I used to use Kopete for gtalk, jabber, Windows Live Messenger (wlm), skype and icq. I have just a few contacts in the alternative (to gtalk) jabber server and icq and most of them I can contact using other protocols. Now that wlm contacts are migrating to skype and Kopete’s skype support is kind of broken* I used to use Kopete only for gtalk, so there was no need to wait for the metacontact bug to be fixed anymore.

    • Gaming tip for KDE users

      I am really enjoying playing some of my long-time favorite games under Linux now, and I hope every day when I open Steam that I will see that Valve has ported Counter Strike: Global Offensive. I’m still waiting though :-)

    • Looks like Lightworks for Linux Beta is Almost here!

      Video editing software are not a rarity in Linux. OpenShot and Kdenlive are two good examples. But when it comes to professional grade video editing software, Linux lacks good alternatives. But according to redshark news, that is all going to end now. Lightworks for Linux is not a distant dream anymore. It seems like the first beta release of Lightworks for Linux is almost here. Here’s a live video demo of Lightworks running on Ubuntu.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Kickstarted Legend of Dungeon Game On Now On PC, Mac, Linux (video)
      • Kickstarter overachiever Legend of Dungeon out now for PC, Mac, Linux

        Don’t expect to survive in Legend of Dungeon – at least, that’s what the creepy announcer in the above video warns. From developer Robot Loves Kitty, Legend of Dungeon is a roguelike action RPG beat-em-up with dynamic lighting and soundtrack systems, featuring more than 240 responsive music tracks. Legend of Dungeon is available now for PC, Mac and Linux in “nearly beta,” for $10.

      • Steam’s hardware survey now shows many distro’s

        So the Steam Hardware Survey got updated again, this time they are now including lots of Linux distro’s so we can see just how popular they are!

        It’s good to see see them do it, but we really need a Linux only category like they have for Mac.

      • Skullgirls pencils in Linux port, Squigly to be voiced by Lauren Landa

        Mike Zaimont, the creator of the fighting engine powering Skullgirls, has revealed that a Linux port is currently in the works. Word came via Zaimont’s Salty Cupcakes tournament series, which he’s been hosting on a weekly basis in Los Angeles and streaming through Twitch.

        Skullgirls is currently seeking donations through Indiegogo, having already successfully funded the DLC characters Squigly and Big Band. During his weekly stream, Zaimont also revealed that Squigly will be voiced by Lauren Landa, the voice actress perhaps best known for her voice work as Kasumi from Dead or Alive. Squigly’s sidekick Leviathan will be voiced by Liam O’Brien, who has belted out lines as Rig in Dead or Alive 5 and himself every other time he says anything.

      • The Castle Doctrine Alpha

        Jason Rohrer of Passage fame has released his first Alpha build of The Castle Doctrine. He describes it as A massively-multiplayer game of burglary and home defense.”

      • Kerbal Space Program released for Linux

        KSP is a game where the players create and manage their own space program. Build spacecraft, fly them, and try to help the Kerbals to fulfill their ultimate mission of conquering space.

        The game is currently under heavy development. This means the game will be improved on a regular basis, so be sure to check back for new updates. Right now, KSP is in Sandbox Complete state, but we want you to try it out and have fun with it. The first versions are free to download and play, and will remain so forever.

      • Valve Reveals More Steam Linux Distribution Details

        Valve’s hardware/software survey for Steam that shows details about their user-base, is now showing a lot more Linux distribution details.

        At the beginning of March, the February details were revealed that showed overall about ~2% Linux usage and about one percent behind the Apple OS X adoption levels. Only Ubuntu and a few other distributions were shown but now in an updated version of the list are a whole lot more.

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • Enlightenment Starts Taking Shape On Wayland

      Enlightenment is starting to take shape on Wayland with its own compositor.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • what’s going on in plasma workspaces 2?

        While moving its codebase to Qt5, the KDE Development Platform is undergoing a number of changes that lead to a more modular codebase (called KDE Framework 5) on top of a hardware-accelerated graphics stack. In this post, you’ll learn a bit about the status of Frameworks 5 and porting especially Plasma — that will be known as Plasma Workspaces 2, paying credit to its more convergent architecture.

      • Digikam 3.0 Receives Highly Desired Features

        Digikam has released a new version of their popular photo management software. Exciting new features and plug-ins are now available for users to try. Unfortunately 3.1 has also just been released, though the changes are not as significant. I still wanted to look back to make sure nothing important was overlooked. Here I will investigate some of the most important changes offered with the Digikam 3.0 release.

      • KDE sets its sights on Wayland

        Following the GNOME developers’ decision to focus on porting their desktop environment to the Wayland display server, the KDE project has also indicated that it will go ahead with a Wayland port of its own project. Currently, the developers are debating which display manager will be used in the port. KDM, the display manager the project is using currently, has apparently already been discounted in favour of LightDM or possibly the QML-based SDDM.

      • Slax 7.0.6 Has KDE 4.10.1

        Slax, a modern, portable, small and fast Linux operating system with a modular approach and outstanding design, is now at version 7.0.6.

      • News and answers (Plasma, Lancelot, etc.)

        Me again. I haven’t been online for a week – went on some pub crawls in Dublin : ) – so I haven’t been able to reply to the comments to my last post which showed some nice things coming to Plasma.

      • # Plasma Workspaces 2 Coming To Wayland, KDM Not Invited
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Artistic Differences: Wayland, Mir, and X
      • GNOME 3.10 Might Be Ported to Wayland

        Matthias Clasen sent an email today, March 15, to the GNOME mailing list, in which he proposes the porting of the GNOME desktop environment to the Wayland display server.

        Many of us thought (read: believed) – including myself – that Wayland is the next-generation X.Org server for Linux operating systems, but in order for it to be that popular, it requires a big push from a ginormous project, such as GNOME.

      • Moving from Unique to GtkApplication
      • GNOME 3.8 is Nearly Ready

        GNOME 3.8 is due March 27 and developer Giovanni Campagna says it’s looking good. Campagna is proud of how many bugs and details were addressed this cycle describing the detail board color coding as eco-friendly because of all the green. This evening he spoke of several in particular.

        Campagna reports that “OSDs and global keybindings work in the overview, the screen lock and when a modal dialog is up” in addition to addressing a number of little “annoyances and inconsistencies in the shell.” Campagna also worked quite a bit on adding filters and toggles to Notifications, and with this the Panel can be tidied up a bit. He continues to discuss his work on a new application framework, so see the rest of his post for that.

      • GTK+ Support Merged For Wayland CSD

        For a fair amount of time now there’s been work on client side decorations for Wayland so that the Weston compositor with GTK+ can do the window decorations on the client-side rather than server-side as done with the X.Org Server. That work has now been merged to master.

  • Distributions

    • openSUSE shows how to promote a release
    • Skolelinux 6 got a video review from Pcwizz

      Via twitter I just discovered that Pcwizz have done a video review on Youtube of Skolelinux / Debian Edu version 6. He installed the standalone profile and the video show a walk-through of of the menu content, demonstration of a few programs and his view of our distribution.

    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat, Inc. : Red Hat CIO Lee Congdon to speak at Open Source Think Tank

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced that Red Hat CIO Lee Congdon will be a featured keynote speaker at Open Source Think Tank on March 21, 2013. Open Source Think Tank brings leading global industry experts and visionaries together to discuss the future of open source. This year’s event will focus on building the bridge to innovation with open source in the enterprise.

      • Taking on a new job at Red Hat

        [Christian Schaller:] So I assume most of you have read Jonathan Blanfords blog post about leaving Red Hat and me taking over for him as head of the Red Hat desktop team. First of all I would like to thank Jonathan for both his contributions to GNOME and Red Hat, but also for being a good friend for over a decade now. Luckily Linux is also a major piece of his new job, so I am certain we have not seen the last of Jonathan in the community.

      • Fedora

    • Debian Family

      • Six Weeks to Wheezy?

        I’ve been using Debian 7/Wheezy for more than a year but Debian is still working at getting the bug-count down to meet the high standards for Debian Stable:

      • The newsletter for the Debian community

        Holger Levsen announced the first update of Debian Edu Squeeze since its initial release. “This update contains all the changes between Debian 6.0.4 and 6.0.7, as well as Debian Edu specific bugfixes and enhancements”, explained Holger. The updated installer images are available for downloading.

      • Debian Project News – March 18th, 2013

        Welcome to this year’s sixth issue of DPN, the newsletter for the Debian community. Topics covered in this issue include:

        * Debian Edu Squeeze updated
        * DPL election campaign
        * A deeper look inside the freeze
        * Kali Linux: a new Debian derivative for penetration tests
        * Other news
        * Upcoming events
        * New Debian Contributors
        * Release-Critical bugs statistics for the upcoming release
        * Important Debian Security Advisories
        * New and noteworthy packages
        * Work-needing packages
        * Want to continue reading DPN?

      • Ideas from the -vote@ DPL election discussions
      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • What’s really important

            So . . . I had written a blog post addressing the remote hope that I’d at least get a postcard from the vacation from reality that Canonical’s self-appointed hubris-monger Mark Shuttleworth has recently taken, while urging those in the various *buntu communities do some soul searching when your project leader says, “If you’ve done what you want for Ubuntu, then move on.”

            Then I sat on the blog post for a few days, wondering if it was too incendiary. I took walks. I had coffee with friends. I bounced the theme of what I was writing off a few people. I embarrassingly lost a huge Tetris smackdown to my darling daughter at the arcade at the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk.

          • Ubuntu Linux 13.04 ‘Raring Ringtail’ hits beta 1

            Fans of Ubuntu Linux may recall that the Ubuntu 13.04 development cycle is a little different from those of versions past, as Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth outlined back in October.

          • Putting Dell’s Ubuntu Ultrabook to the test

            Our very first keypress after turning on the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition (running Ubuntu 12.04) drew no response from the Unity desktop. And with that we thought our test of Dell’s Ubuntu Ultrabook for developers was set to go the way of most Linux laptop tests – Linux kind of works, but not really.

          • Unity Tweak Tool gets added to Raring repository

            Good news for Ubuntu fans. Unity Tweak Tool is now available in the Ubuntu 13.04 repository. The tool brings a lot of customization to Ubuntu’s Unity shell and allows users to manage everything – from fonts to Web Apps.

          • Unity Tweak Tool Available In The Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail Repositories
          • Like Ubuntu Linux? This week, help make it better
          • Recent Ubuntu Community Refinements
          • Ubuntu SDK Days: Day 2 is just around the corner

            We had a spectacular response to the Ubuntu SDK Days yesterday. Lots of people showed up, asked their questions and found out how their app for Ubuntu might work best.

          • You can help the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter!
          • First Ubuntu SDK Days kick off today
          • [Ubuntu QML] Writting a game.. Alpha Version
          • ‘New Unity Stack’ Approved for Ubuntu 13.04, Will Bring ‘Smarter’ Search to the Desktop
          • Some Programs I Tested On Ubuntu 13.04 Daily Build
          • Top Things to do After Installing Ubuntu 13.04

            There will always be a lot of things to do after a fresh Ubuntu installation. Ubuntu 13.04 Raring Ringtail was scheduled to be released on April 25th. Here are some steps may help after installing Ubuntu 13.04.

            1. Select Best Download Server: The default server may not be the “Best Server” which will speed up your regular update and software installation by apt command or software center.

          • Ubuntu to halve support length for non-LTS releases

            In a meeting of the Ubuntu Technical Board last night, the technical leadership of Canonical’s Linux distribution decided to halve the support time for non-LTS releases to nine months. At the same time, the developers want to make it easier for users of the distribution to get up-to-date packages on a regular basis without the need to perform explicit upgrades of the whole distribution. Attending the meeting, Matt Zimmerman, Colin Watson and Stéphane Graber unanimously agreed on these points and also clearly voted against moving Ubuntu into a rolling release model. The changes will be implemented in the maintenance schedule starting with the release of Ubuntu 13.04 (“Raring Ringtail”) on 25 April.

          • Dispelling FUD About Ubuntu

            It seems like every time Ubuntu makes any sort of change, the Linux community finds itself up in arms as if the world is about to end. First, they expressed concern over Unity, then the Amazon search results inclusion and now Mir vs Wayland. Admittedly, I don’t personally use Unity as my default desktop these days, as I don’t use any of its features. That said, however, I’m a big fan of the Ubuntu base that I run with XFCE. This desktop environment serves me well, and my experience with the Ubuntu base has never given me any serious problems.

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 307
          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 308
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Kubuntu vUDS

              Kubuntu held it’s own mid-release cycle virtual meeting today. The primary technical output was an agreed community position on the latest release management proposal. Rather than quote the whole thing here, I’ll provide a link to the message I sent on behalf of Kubuntu to the Ubuntu Technical Board. The bottom line is that this is a pretty good proposal from our point of view.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Book helps Windows Embedded developers transition to Linux
    • New Nvidia quad-core SoC packs 60 GPUs, 4G LTE modem
    • ARMBRIX Zero SBC’s bubble bursts

      A project to develop a low-cost ARM Cortex A15-based single-board computer (SBC) reportedly has been abandoned. Initially named “ARMBRIX Zero,” the $145 board got as far as its prototype debug phase when the company behind it abruptly shuttered its doors.

    • Turn your TV into a smart TV for just $27: RapPlex for Raspberry Pi

      We were having dinner with our friends at their place when our friends asked my advice on getting a hard-drive which he can connect to his TV to watch the media he has on it; it was non-networked TV. I looked around and saw they had an iPad two Android smartphones, 3 PCs and to watch movies or listen to music they used the traditional method of copying the media on the device they wanted to play it on. He wanted a hard-drive which had a build-in PC. Well, I think he never heard of a media server; just like the most of us.

    • Building an always available Linux terminal: Shell-In-A-Box on Raspberry Pi

      Recently I was looking for a way to SSH from a network that blocked my outgoing SSH connection. I’d be nice to have a way around firewalls and be able to access your private Linux terminal. To be able to debug a problem from an remote location, for example.

      A collegue suggested a tool called ‘Shell In A Box‘. Shell In A Box implements a web server that can export arbitrary command line tools to a web based terminal emulator using just JavaScript and CSS without any additional browser plugins. This means: connecting your browser via HTTPS to your own hosted Shell In A Box web site, and access a Linux terminal from there.

    • Phones

      • Preview of the Smartphone Wars: Bloodbath Year 4: Smartphones Galore. This year will be pretty ‘stable’ within the context of this industry

        So we’re up to the Smartphone Wars, Bloodbath Year 4, Smartphones Galore. We’ve seen the iPhone 5 and Galaxy S4. We’ve seen Blackberry 10 and Windows Phone 8. We’ve seen announcements from Tizen and Firefox and Sailfish and Ubuntu. What will this year bring? I do think this year brings ‘stability’ and ‘predictability’ to what has been the most volatile industry in economic history of any 100 Billion dollar annual business or bigger (the handset industry is worth $240 Billion dollars annually and the vast majority of that revenue is from the smartphone side). And within the context of smartphones, that is ‘relative’ stability, less volatile than the past three years.

      • Motorola Device Codenames: “Yeti” and “Sasquatch” to AT&T, “Ghost” to All Carriers

        Last week, a never-before-seen Motorola device surfaced that caught most of us by surprise. The device, sort of deemed “mid-range” is actually far from being mid-range. In fact, the more you look at the specs, the more you can see that it’s as good as the Nexus 4, just not necessarily where the Galaxy S4 or HTC One sit because it lacks the newest processor available and a 1080p screen. But that device with model number XT912A could be our first preview at a new Google-powered Motorola. Gone was the kevlar backing and RAZR styling – in was a more rounded Nexus design. If this is Motorola’s next, though, will it be good enough to compete with Samsung and HTC’s newest? Or does Motorola have something else in the works. It appears as if they do.

      • Ballnux

      • Android

Free Software/Open Source

  • USC starts a web hub for DIY, open source virtual reality projects USC starts a web hub for DIY, open source virtual reality projects

    For the sheer variety of virtual reality headsets available, there’s been few resources available for those who want to craft their own devices. USC wants to save us the effort of searching around. Its MxR Lab has just launched a showcase of creations and modifications that DIY enthusiasts can build, including open source code for both the devices and integrating full-body motion control through Kinect for Windows or OpenNI. The most ambitious is Socket HMD, a complete 1,280 x 800 headset that involves a 3D-printed shell and custom-assembled electronics. If your own ambitions don’t stretch that far, you can still build the VR2GO viewer, which uses iPhones and iPod touch players as the eyepieces, as well as mods for the Oculus Rift developer kit that add stereo cameras or increase the field of view. Yes, you’ll need a 3D printer and a knack for programming to get most of these projects going, but you won’t have to wait for someone to make them for you — a big help when many ready-made VR displays are either in development or priced out of reach for the average person.

  • The freedoms, concerns of an ‘open source’ society
  • Google’s Open Source YouTube Channel — Worth a Look

    If you’ve followed Google for any length of time, you already know that the company has donated many open source projects and leverages a lot of open source code internally. But did you know that the company has a dedicated video channel for information on open source topics? If you haven’t explored it, it’s worth visiting, found here. Here is more on what’s available there, and other good open source resources from Google.

  • The spread of open source at SXSW

    If you need evidence of the spread of interest in open source, look to the history of SXSW Interactive schedules. Just between this year and last, the number of talks tagged with “open source” grew from 17 to 26, and that doesn’t include the growth in relevant book readings, meetups, sponsors, and parties. Even one of this year’s keynotes was delivered by Julie Uhrman, founder and CEO of OUYA.

    And it’s not just about the code, though there’s plenty of that, from sessions on APIs and datacenters to (of course), the cloud. Daniel Buckley, a design researcher at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design talked about his work studying interpersonal connection and what it means to be human, which he titled, “open source empathy.”

  • Don’t blame security breaches on open source technology – the problem is lack of oversight

    Open source software is an easy punching bag when security breaches arise. But getting rid of open source isn’t the answer — it is too valuable. Instead, we need to take some key steps to ensure the security of components throughout development.

  • Developer releases source code of Linux speech recognition program

    Independent developer James McClain has developed a program which uses Google Voice API in the back-end to conduct various tasks on a GNU/Linux machine, just the way Siri does on the iDevices. The program allows a user to open sites, ask questions and perform other tasks just by voice. While initially developed for Ubuntu it is distro agnostic and can be used by other distributions as well.

  • Only our name is changed

    I’m not sure I’ve mentioned before that SourceForge has been acquired by Dice Holdings back in Septmeber 2012. As a result the name of our parent company has been changed in Slashdot Media. As you could easily guess the name comes from the heritage of Slashdot, one of the three Geeknet media properties bought by Dice (namely FreeCode, Slashdot and SourceForge).

  • Open source genealogy with Gramps

    Genealogy is a fun hobby for many people around the globe. While there are lots of programs for Windows, Linux options have been lacking. Gramps helps fill this gap

  • Quick looks aLinux 15.0 and MINIX 3.2.1
  • Main reason to use open source software: customizability
  • Open source culture: Do you vote with your code or participation?

    CTO of Getable, Mikeal Rogers, talks open source and the Github generation. What’s the next big thing on the innovation horizon? And who’s leading the charge? Find out in this interview.

  • Rolling Release – w/ Upstream Stable Cadenblah blah blah
  • The freedoms, concerns of an ‘open source’ society

    Imagine a large vault that houses everyone’s personal information: medical records, financial data, Facebook pictures, etc. Now imagine everyone in the world has a key to that vault.

    That’s how several students at Coahulla Creek High School describe an extreme version of an “open source society” where digital coding blueprints are freely accessible and easily understood to the point where all digital information can be accessed and redistributed.

  • Events

    • ESC to feature dozens of embedded Linux, Android sessions

      Next month’s Embedded Systems Conference (ESC) to be held April 22-25 in San Jose, Calif. will offer embedded developers a sumptuous menu of embedded Linux, Android, and open source session topics. ESC, which celebrates its 25th anniversary this year, is now part of UBM’s big Design West show.

      UBM describes Design West as “the world’s only technical conference and expo for electronics design engineers, entrepreneurs, and technology professionals.” In addition to the venerable ESC event, Design West now also includes Black Hat and Android design summits.

    • Live from PyCon 2013
  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • BSD

    • GhostBSD 3.0 Review: Complete operating system and FreeBSD on steroids!

      For quite sometime I was thinking of trying out a Unix operating system, something a bit different from the usual Linux distros I try out every week. I didn’t want to jump directly to FreeBSD and hence, I chose the Gnome derivative of FreeBSD, GhostBSD. Eric Turgeon announced the release of GhostBSD 3.0 on 10th March 2013. The reason for my choice of GhostBSD over FreeBSD is obvious – I wanted to use something easier and ready-to-use over FreeBSD.

  • GNU/Project Releases

    • gv 3.7.4 released
    • March 2013 GNU Toolchain Update

      It has been a very quiet month this month. The GCC sources are still closed to new features, pending the creation of the 4.8 branch.

      The binutils sources now have support for a 64-bit cygwin target called x86_64-cygwin. Patches for GCC are currently under development and a full gcc port should be ready soon.

    • Guile 100 Programs Project Challenge #2, ls

      Challenge #2 in the Guile 100 Programs Project is to write a version of the Posix program ls. ls is a program that lists the files in a directory, and it is the second challenge in this month’s theme, which is “/bin – reimplementing common Posix tools”.
      The completed version need only support the standard flags -a -l and -R

      The Guile 100 Programs Project is an attempt to collaboratively generate a set of examples of how to use the GNU Guile implementation of Scheme.

    • Announce: NoZone 1.0 – a Bind DNS zone generator
  • Openness/Sharing

    • Death Star petition inspires citizen collaboration

      In October, I used “We the People” as an example of how to get citizens engaged with government in an open manner. In November, those engaged citizens petitioned the government to consider building a Death Star. By January, enough signatures had been gathered to garner the administration’s consideration and, in my mind, a well authored response. The exercise may have been a geeky back and forth which you may see as a joke, but I feel any citizen engagement is good engagement. You may also think that’s the end of the story, however, someone who read my earlier post sent me a link to the Death Star Kickstarter page.

    • Open Data

    • Open Access/Content


        On the opening day of this year’s South by Southwest festival, in Austin, an audience gathered in a giant conference hall to remember the life and tragic suicide of Aaron Swartz. Tim Berners-Lee, the inventor of the World Wide Web, spoke of Swartz’s curious and restless mind. Swartz’s girlfriend Taren Stinebrickner-Kauffman described him as a man who was constantly asking whether what he was doing was the most important thing that he could be doing. (A quality extensively documented by Larissa MacFarquhar in “>her profile of Swartz.) The proceedings were yet another reminder that Swartz’s suicide was heartbreaking beyond belief, and that something must be done about the law that he was aggressively prosecuted under, the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act.


  • Washington Post latest newspaper to put faith in paywalls

    Post’s parent company last month announced losses of $45.4m as newspaper asks readers to ‘help support our news-gathering’

  • 9 Google Reader alternatives
  • Disruptions: Stuck With a Provider Over the Long Haul

    If dating were like the cellphone industry, you would have to sign a contract when you entered a relationship stating that you would remain monogamous for two years, even if you wanted to break up. That’s what cellular carriers have pulled off by successfully lobbying for a recent government ruling that you cannot take the phone you paid for and switch to another provider.

    It’s the latest reminder that owning a cellphone on one of the biggest United States providers can sometimes feel like an unhappy relationship. Time and again, in the minds of many customers, these companies take advantage of us and there isn’t much we can do about it.

  • Science

  • Security

    • Crooks Spy on Casino Card Games With Hacked Security Cameras, Win $33M

      A high-roller and hacker accomplices made off with about $33 million after they gamed a casino in Australia by hacking its surveillance cameras and gaining an advantage in several rounds of high-stakes card games.

    • JOIN US – Tor Project Boston Hack Day Event – March 20, 2013 – Hosted by Boston University’s Department of Computer Science
    • AT&T Hacker ‘Weev’ Sentenced to 3.5 Years in Prison

      A hacker charged with federal crimes for obtaining the personal data of more than 100,000 iPad owners from AT&T’s publicly accessible website was sentenced on Monday to 41 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.

      The judge handed down the sentence following a minor skirmish in the courtroom when the defendant, Andrew Auernheimer, aka Weev, was pinned and cuffed. Auernheimer was reportedly asked to hand the court a mobile phone he had with him during the hearing, and after handing it to his defense attorney instead, court agents cuffed him.

    • Kickstarter overachiever Legend of Dungeon out now for PC, Mac, Linux

      Don’t expect to survive in Legend of Dungeon – at least, that’s what the creepy announcer in the above video warns. From developer Robot Loves Kitty, Legend of Dungeon is a roguelike action RPG beat-em-up with dynamic lighting and soundtrack systems, featuring more than 240 responsive music tracks. Legend of Dungeon is available now for PC, Mac and Linux in “nearly beta,” for $10.

    • Rep. Gohmert Wants A Law That Allows Victims To Destroy The Computers Of People Who Hacked Them

      Last week, we had talked about some concerns about how various cybersecurity provisions would allow those hit by malicious hackers to “hack back” or, as some call it, engage in an “active defense.” There were significant concerns about this, but as Marvin Ammori briefly mentioned in last week’s favorites post, Rep. Louis Gohmert seems to not only think hacking back is a good idea, but that it should be explicitly allowed under the CFAA (Computer Fraud and Abuse Act).

    • Telenor reports industrial espionage

      Norwegian telecoms firm Telenor has, for the the first time, reported a case of serious industrial espionage to the national police unit Kripos. Newspaper Aftenposten reported Sunday that high tech-spies managed to infiltrate Telenor’s extensive security network and empty the contents of top executives’ personal computers.

    • SSH – Can It Be More Secure?
  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Cablegate

    • Update 3/18/13: Recap of Bradley Manning’s statement and audio coverage
    • On the Tenth Anniversary of the US Invasion of Iraq: When WikiLeaks Exposed the ‘War Logs’

      The release of the Iraq documents, some 391,000 in number, was originally set for August. But a week before that happened, Julian Assange told The Guardian’s David Leigh that he wanted a more diverse group of partners for this round, “and asked that Leigh delay publication to give the other outlets time to prepare programs,” Sarah Ellison would recount in Vanity Fair.

      Leigh said he’d agree to a six-week delay if Assange handed over so-called “package three,” the biggest leak of all (which would become Cablegate). According to Leigh, Assange said, “You can have package three tonight, but you have to give me a letter signed by The Guardian editor saying you won’t publish package three until I say so.” Leigh agreed.

    • The New York Times’ Bill Keller smears Bradley Manning

      On February 28, at his pretrial hearing at Fort Meade, Maryland, Private Bradley Manning revealed that before releasing government files to WikiLeaks, he contacted major newspapers, including the New York Times, in an effort to pass on the documents in his possession. Manning did so, he explained, because the files contained “some of the most significant documents of our time, removing the fog of war and revealing the true nature of 21st century asymmetric warfare.” These files exposed government crimes and atrocities, including the deliberate murder of civilians by the US military.

    • Correcting the Error-Riddled Wall Street Journal Column on WikiLeaks, Bradley Manning, and Press Freedom

      Since the audio of whistleblower Bradley Manning’s statement to the court leaked last week, it’s becoming clear how much of a threat the government’s “aiding the enemy” charge against Manning threatens all whistleblowers. Famed law professor Yochai Benkler and First Amendment scholar Floyd Abrams wrote an op-ed in the New York Times denouncing the unprecedented charge, and this past weekend, On The Media dedicated its whole program to Manning’s trial.

    • WSJ Claims That Wikileaks Is Not Journalism But Espionage By Taking A Bunch Of Quotes Out Of Context

      Um, might that have something to do with the fact that the US government went absolutely apeshit over the release and charged Manning with a variety of offenses that have the possibility of capital punishment? We’ve already discussed the fact that the administration’s reaction likely created massive chilling effects for whistleblowers around the world. Pointing to the lack of anyone willing to step into that breach doesn’t mean Manning was necessarily an “outlier.” It just means the government’s intimidation campaign against whistleblowers may have been quite effective.

    • More Iran lies exposed by WikiLeaks, honest intelligence

      Former US National Intelligence Council chairperson Thomas Fingar received the 2013 Sam Adams Award for Integrity in Intelligence on January 23 for his role overseeing the 2007 US National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran.

      The NIE finding’s that all 16 US intelligence agencies judged “with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program” removed the immediate threat of a US-Israeli military attack on Iran.

      It contradicted the previous NIE report from 2005, which had judged with “high confidence” that “Iran currently is determined to develop nuclear weapons despite its international obligations and international pressure”.

    • WikiLeaks reveals US fury at Chavez’s legacy of solidarity

      Tens of thousands of Haitians spontaneously poured into the streets of the Haitian capital, Port-au-Prince, on the morning of March 12, 2007. Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez had just arrived in Haiti all but unannounced.

      A multitude, shrieking and singing with glee, joined him in jogging alongside the motorcade of Haiti’s then President Rene Preval on its way to the National Palace (later destroyed in the 2010 earthquake).

      There, Chavez announced that Venezuela would help the impoverished Caribbean half-island by building power stations, expanding electricity networks, improving airports, supplying garbage trucks, and supporting widely-deployed Cuban medical teams.

    • Legal Errors in Wall Street Journal’s Dangerous Manning Article

      The Wall Street Journal has an article about Bradley Manning that is self-serving and dangerously wrong on the facts and law–including the assertion that he aided the enemy.

    • Wall Street Journal Publishes Weird Hit Piece On Wikileaks

      Crovitz has a history of being fact-challenged…

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • The Bankers’ New Clothes

      What is wrong with today’s banking system? The past few years have shown that risks in banking can impose significant costs on the economy. Many claim, however, that a safer banking system would require sacrificing lending and economic growth. The Bankers’ New Clothes examines this claim and the narratives used by bankers, politicians, and regulators to rationalize the lack of reform, exposing them as invalid.

      The book argues that we can have a safer and healthier banking system without sacrificing any of the benefits of the system, and at essentially no cost to society. Banks are as fragile as they are not because they must be, but because they want to be–and they get away with it. Whereas this situation benefits bankers, it distorts the economy and exposes the public to unnecessary risks.

    • Faced With A Lawsuit, J.P. Morgan Chase Claims Plaza is Private

      A year and a half after the fences first went up around Chase Manhattan Plaza, new court filings show the fight over public access to the space is still heated.
      We’ve written extensively about the fight over the fences, which were first erected the day before Occupy Wall Street protesters first gathered in Lower Manhattan. Open space activists initially challenged Chase’s unilateral closure of a treasured downtown plaza on the grounds that the fencing violated prohibitions against altering the exterior of landmarked buildings. Chase countered that the fencing was only temporary, and was needed not to keep out the bank’s critics, but rather to protect the public during scheduled maintenance on the plaza. The landmarks challenge fizzled, and the fences stayed up, though neighborhood residents saw little if any maintenance work being performed behind the fences.

    • Supreme Court Rejects Goldman Sachs Appeal in Mortgage-Backed Securities Case

      The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to consider an appeal by subsidiaries of Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) that sought to derail a class-action lawsuit alleging the company provided false and misleading information about mortgage-backed securities it underwrote and issued.

    • UPDATE: Riots Hit Cyprus After Bank Accounts Frozen

      Cyprus president Nicos Anastasiades agreed to the deal, which completely reversed his previous assurances that it would not happen. It sets a very dangerous precedent for future bailouts. As if brutal austerity wasn’t enough, the EU is now demanding a bailout tax making citizens and expat depositors alike personally liable for government and private bank debts. Reuters also notes that according to a draft of the legislation, criminal penalties of up to 3 years in jail and 50,000 euros could be imposed upon anyone who doesn’t comply.

    • Cyprus bailout: crisis deepens as MPs reject savings tax – live
    • Former Cyprus Central Bank Head Slams ‘Blackmailing’ European Leaders

      In a brief 30-second clip during a Bloomberg TV interview, none other than Anthanasios Orphanides, the former Central Bank of Cyprus Governor, explains the terrible reality of what just happened in Europe: “What we have seen in the last few days is a very serious blunder by the European governments that are essentially blackmailing the government of Cyprus to confiscate the money that belongs rightfully to the depositors in the banking system in Cyprus.” He then concludes quite clearly, “It is not clear how this can affect in a positive manner the European project going forward.” The Cypriot then goes on to explain how the EU is making a mockery of the idea of a banking union…

    • National planning Cyprus-style solution for New Zealand
    • The Great Cyprus Bank Robbery Shows That No Bank Account, No Retirement Fund And No Stock Portfolio Is Safe
  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

    • Royal Charter or Star Chamber For Stars?

      Alec Muffett points out that the new Royal Charter being rushed through the UK Parliament includes some drafting that appears to drag blogs, Twitter and other social media into the penalty net. This is an extremely worrying development that needs rapid response from the meshed society of citizen creator-consumers (that almost certainly means you).

    • Outstanding questions about Leveson’s Royal Charter

      The Lib/Lab version amended the test for third party reduced the threshold for ‘representative’ groups to make complaints to the new regulatory body. Will this remain?

      The amended version was: “b) where there is an alleged breach of the code and there is substantial public interest in the Board giving formal consideration to the complaint from a representative group affected by the alleged breach”

      Why do we need ‘representative’ bodies making complaints to a press regulator? If so much harm is done to individuals and we have a regulator with a simple and accessible process, what is wrong with having a test of a substantial public interest? Will the EDL use this loophole to complain about its coverage? How about

    • Royal Charter or Star Chamber For Stars?

      The new Royal Charter being rushed through the UK Parliament includes some drafting that appears to drag blogs, Twitter and other social media into the penalty net. This is an extremely worrying development that needs rapid response from the meshed society of citizen creator-consumers (that almost certainly means you).

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • ACLU finds domestic drones the Worst. Thing. Evah.

      One of the stable of writers at Huffpo is getting the Left all up in arms over the latest complaint from the ACLU. This week, the new topic of outrage is drones, but not the ones flying over Afghanistan. (At least not today.) They’re more concerned with the idea of domestic law enforcement using the new technology to fight crime. Because they’re way worse than helicopters or something.

    • Matthew Keys Was An Undercover Journalist, Attorney Says

      Matthew Keys, the Reuters deputy social media editor charged with helping Anonymous attack the website of his former employer, acted as an “undercover” journalist when he communicated with members of the hacker group, his attorneys told The Huffington Post Friday.

    • Settlements, cell phones, and red tape: challenges to Palestine’s mobile market

      Israeli settlements within the West Bank are connected by a highly regulated road system. Palestinians are unable to access some roads within the West Bank, and forced through checkpoints on many others. The International Court of Justice concluded in 2004 that “Israeli settlements in the Occupied Palestinian Territory (including East Jerusalem) have been established in breach of international law.” An independent UN inquiry has also called for a halt to all settlement activity due to resulting human rights violations in the region.

    • Prison Profiteers Are Neo-Slaveholders and Solitary Is Their Weapon of Choice

      If, as Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote, “the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons” then we are a nation of barbarians. Our vast network of federal and state prisons, with some 2.3 million inmates, rivals the gulags of totalitarian states. Once you disappear behind prison walls you become prey. Rape. Torture. Beatings. Prolonged isolation. Sensory deprivation. Racial profiling. Chain gangs. Forced labor. Rancid food. Children imprisoned as adults. Prisoners forced to take medications to induce lethargy. Inadequate heating and ventilation. Poor health care. Draconian sentences for nonviolent crimes. Endemic violence.

    • The Shame of America’s Gulag

      If, as Fyodor Dostoevsky wrote, “the degree of civilization in a society can be judged by entering its prisons” then we are a nation of barbarians. Our vast network of federal and state prisons, with some 2.3 million inmates, rivals the gulags of totalitarian states. Once you disappear behind prison walls you become prey. Rape. Torture. Beatings. Prolonged isolation. Sensory deprivation. Racial profiling. Chain gangs. Forced labor. Rancid food. Children imprisoned as adults. Prisoners forced to take medications to induce lethargy. Inadequate heating and ventilation. Poor health care. Draconian sentences for nonviolent crimes. Endemic violence.


      The bodies of poor, unemployed youths are worth little on the streets but become valuable commodities once they are behind bars.

    • At Putin’s Order, FSB Now Using Social Networks to Target Opposition

      At the direction of President Vladimir Putin, the FSB is not only monitoring social networks but using one of their features to create problems for those opponents of the regime who use them by posting statements on their sites and then invoking the appearance of those materials to intimidate or even bring charges against them.

      This disturbing new development is documented by Irina Borogan, a researcher on Russia’s security services who writes for the Agentura.ru site. In an article last week entitled “Social Networks as a Field for Provocations,” she describes how FSB has begun to operate in this regard (agentura.ru/projects/identification/provocation/).

      When Putin met with the FSB leadership a month ago, Borogan says, he called on the security service to act “decisively to block the attempts of radicals to use the possibilities of information technologies and he resources of the Internet and social networks for their propaganda (kremlin.ru/transcripts/17516).

    • Challenge To NYPD’s Stop-And-Frisk Policy Begins In Federal Court

      A class-action suit challenging the New York Police Department’s stop-and-frisk policy got under way Monday with a lawyer saying that officers have been wrongly stopping tens of thousands of young men based solely on their race.

      Darius Charney of the Center for Constitutional Rights said the policy is legal, but the department is doing stops illegally. Changes must be ordered by a federal judge to ensure the department stops wrongly targeting black and Hispanic men, he said.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Python Software Foundation wins a battle for the Python name

        The Python Software Foundation (PSF) announced it has reached a settlement with POBox Hosting Ltd. of the United Kingdom over the latter’s trademark application for the term “Python” in connection with cloud hosting and its application for a figurative trademark in Europe incorporating the word “Python.” While the PSF owns the trademark for Python within the United States, it did not have an equivalent filing within the European Union.

    • Copyrights

      • No Copyright in EU-US Trade Agreement

        Last year, millions of Americans told their government not to undermine the open internet. We sent the SOPA and PIPA bills down to defeat.

        Soon after, hundreds of thousands of people took to the streets of Europe to protest against ACTA, a secretive trade agreement that would have violated our rights online and chilled generic drug competition.

        Meanwhile, leaked trade texts revealed US and EU threats to access to affordable medicines, which significantly disrupted trade talks in India and the Pacific.

      • Kim “Billy Big Steps” Dotcom Still Causing Headaches For Spy Agency

        Yet more embarrassing information on the Kim Dotcom spying fiasco has surfaced in New Zealand. Documents show that in December 2011 when the spying began, police already had information which stated that Dotcom – codenamed “Billy Big Steps” – was a NZ resident. As those deemed responsible are held accountable, the GCSB spy agency’s deputy director has become the first high-profile casualty, and the Prime Minister is warning of more “big changes” to come.

Patent Trolls Come Under Government Scrutiny, Some in the Government Turn Into Patent Trolls

Posted in America, Patents at 12:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bush, Cheney, and Pelosi

Summary: Ambiguous message from the US government, which has so far failed to make progress on patent reform and even contributes to the problems

Some days ago we wrote about how MPEG-LA managed to extort even free codecs. As one site notes:

Last week, MPEG LA and Google announced that they entered into agreements granting Google a license to technologies that “may” be essential to VP8, the video codec fueling WebM. While this agreement may have little impact in the traditional streaming market, it could be very significant in other markets, particularly WebRTC. No financial terms of the agreement were announced, and MPEG LA declined to answer our questions.

These secret deals usually mean payment. Neither party wants the public to know about it as they collude against the public interest. It was only last Thursday that the Committee on the Judiciary in the US House of Representatives spoke about patent abuse. This comes from the US government:

Hearing on: Abusive Patent Litigation: The Impact on American Innovation & Jobs, and Potential Solutions

One notable victim, SAS, issued some feedback. The SAS statement [PDF] says: “In none of the cases where SAS has been sued for patent infringement is the plaintiff an operating company that makes anything, sells anything, produces anything or employs anyone (other than a bunch of lawyers). All of these cases involve what I call “patent trolls” – which others more demurely call Non-Practicing Entities, or Patent Assertion Entities — as plaintiff. It is a problem that is only becoming worse for companies like SAS for one simple reason: it is a business model that is incredibly cheap to pursue, remarkably profitable to the pursuers, and disproportionately damaging to the victims.”

This statement was highlighted by Groklaw, which recently made some suggestions for the debate of the USPTO. Here is more of it:

Here’s Groklaw’s response to the USPTO’s request for suggested topics for discussion in the future by the Software Partnership. We just sent it to the USPTO today.

We are also publishing here on Groklaw a more detailed supplement on those four topics, explaining in depth why we propose them, with references, on the theme, “Using Semiotics to Identify Patent-Eligible Software”. The supplement is referenced in the document sent, if they wish to read more in-depth arguments, based on interest level.

Groklaw shows how, based on the report “Top U.S. lawyer to high court focuses on antitrust, patent cases”, further action is expected to be taken. Lastly, the troll InterDigital [1, 2] is mentioned by patent lawyers. No signs of trolls being impeded by government action just yet. Lots of rhetoric and promises, no actions at all.

Here is a former US prosecutor turning into a troll:

High-profile former U.S. federal prosecutor Andrew Stolper said Tuesday he had teamed up with an ex-FBI agent to form a private equity firm specializing in litigation finance, a growing business in the legal industry.
Stolper, whose career included the ill-fated Broadcom case in 2009, said Crux Capital launched on Monday. He resigned last week from his position with the U.S. Attorney’s office in Santa Ana, where he had worked for 10 years.
The litigation finance boutique, based in Irvine, Calif., will specialize in plaintiff’s commercial litigation and eventually staff up to about five people.

A spokesman for the U.S. Attorney’s office declined to comment about Stolper’s move into private practice.

A U.S. District Court judge singled out Stolper for criticism when he dismissed criminal stock fraud charges against Broadcom Corp co-founder Henry T. Nicholas III in 2009, citing a “shameful” prosecution campaign to intimidate witnesses.

And now, having had a career as a ‘servant’, this man simply becomes a patent troll. The government seems to manufacture more trolls than it ever stops (zero). What ever happened to the antitrust complaint against MPEG-LA? Despite Promises™ and Hope® (when it comes to patent policy), President Obama is no better than his predecessors when it comes to tackling patent mess.

How Apple Attacked (and Marginalised) the Linux-powered WebOS

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Patents at 11:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Palm Pre with WebOS and Palm OS

Summary: Professor Michael Risch talks about WebOS, responds to our criticism

There is a fascinating story about WebOS, the operating system built on Linux and optimised to work well on the Web, using some portable framework that is Web-compatible (a growing trend in SDKs). Apple’s devices are poor at Web browsing, so WebOS (now open source as we hoped but unfortunately patents-encumbered) and some platforms like Android, which now has Chrome, have had a huge potential for growth, mostly at Apple’s and Nokia’s expense. Android is well ahead of Apple in technical terms and “Samsung [is] Innovating Faster Than Apple” claims a minister. So anyway, after Apple threatened Palm with lawsuits [1, 2] we find out in Risch’s rant about the already-controversial SHIELD act that WebOS was derailed by Apple:

Consider Palm, which developed WebOS, and made stuff. Consider HP, which has spent billions of dollars in research and development. HP bought Palm, and made WebOS tablets. For various reasons, maybe in part due to patent claims from other tablet makers like Apple, HP decides to stop selling WebOS tablets. HP then decides to enforce Palm’s patents. Mind you, HP didn’t just buy the patents, it bought the company. And then it made stuff, it researched, it developed, and it has even licensed WebOS out to LG try to resurrect it for televisions. Is HP a troll now? It falls under the text of this act. I think that just cannot be right, and yet there it is, in black and white.

Pamela Jones wrote: “Apple did that? I didn’t know that. If so, then I spit in their general direction. I love WebOS, and Apple needs to cut it out. It can’t be the only tablet maker in the universe. The more they sue and threaten, the more determined I am never to buy anything from them again.”

Wired had Risch (prominent in the debate over patent trolls) as a guest in a debate full of lawyers whose opinions omit the obvious solution (here is
another recent example) and after our criticism of his suggestions he wrote to me to say: “Thanks for reading, even if you don’t agree. I’m glad to hear that I’m even slightly controversial, as I usually see myself as plain vanilla.

“I outside us was a bit surprised by your characterization of the op-ed, though. For one thing, I quote Stallman’s editorial. For another, my very first suggestion was: ” More patents should be rejected, and especially weak software patents. Limiting these should continue regardless of who – troll or product company – owns those patents.” I realize that this doesn’t go far enough for those who would abolish software patents, but it’s hardly a defense. Indeed, at least one person shared this sentiment as the takeaway from the op-ed on twitter. I actually had a lot more written about software patents, but they limited me to 1100 words, so anything not core to the primary argument got slashed – so it goes.”

I replied by saying that “I do believe that we need to end software patents as a whole.”

“I hear you,” he said, “I know a lot a people feel that way. Even though I disagree, at least that would be owner neutral!”

That’s why it’s a debate. Every debate has some factions on each side. Anup Malani, writing this paper about patents, says: “Counter-intuitively, we propose raising the stakes of patent litigation by providing enhanced rewards to victorious patent holders and imposing enhanced penalties on owners of patents that are invalidated at trial.” This is not the obvious solution, either. It evades the obvious fix which is related to scope, not legal action.

Stephen Ornes, a writer based in Nashville, Tennessee, wrote this article in the New Scientist yesterday. He opposes software patents on the ground that they are akin to patenting mathematics. To quote:

AT SOME point in their career every mathematician comes up against the question, is mathematics invented or discovered? The query makes some cranky. The answer doesn’t directly affect their work, after all, and the discussion often leads nowhere useful. Spending time debating the ultimate nature of mathematics takes away from actually doing it.

Some scholars take issue with the terms themselves. In his 2008 essay Mathematical Platonism and Its Opposites, Harvard University mathematician Barry Mazur called discovery and invention “those two too-brittle words”. One might be tempted to defuse the question altogether with a merger: perhaps maths involves inventing new relationships between things we have discovered.

It’s a metaphysical query, a nerdy way to ask whether or not some pre-existing truths underlie our existence. Here we bump up against theology. If mathematical ideas are discovered – the Platonist position – then a proof is a real-world encounter with an immortal truth. But then where, exactly, is this ethereal pool of truths? Did prime numbers exist before the big bang?

If, on the other hand, mathematics is invented, then proofs spring from human intelligence a bit like art or law. But then why do mathematicians across time and space always agree on what’s right and wrong?

The question about invention versus discovery flares up every few years, often in a different guise. The latest incarnation concerns something very down to earth: money. In this case, the discovery versus invention question has profound consequences. In fact, there may be no mathematical question with higher stakes. That’s because mathematics powers the algorithms that drive computer software, and software is big business, worth over $300 billion a year to the global economy.

If we start with the hypothesis that algorithms are reducible to maths — which they are — then it becomes apparent that the patent system is inherently broken in the scope sense. Talking about damages in litigation is not the point. We must identify and address root causes, not symptoms.

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