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Links 29/7/2013: GNU/Linux Supercomputers Milestone, Precise Puppy 5.7

Posted in News Roundup at 6:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Join the team at JaiRo, high powered routers on Linux

    Sabai Technology is not your typical tech company. A networking solutions company created in 2010, Sabai is located on Main Street in Simpsonville, SC in an old cabinet shop. Founder and CEO William Haynes first started modifying routers as a missionary in Thailand, helping his fellow expats discover the power of open source routing solutions.

    After returning to the states and being laid off, William returned to what he does best: using his expertise to help people who just want a solution that works. The company launched with $500 and has grown organically ever since, bootstrapping all the way.

  • As Linux stalks windows, the poor countries will benefit

    What do the International Space Station, the Czech Post Office, the French Parliament and the Turkish Government have in common? All have switched from using a proprietary Operating System (OS) on their computers to an ‘open source’ or free OS; or putting it simply: They have switched from Windows to a free OS called Linux. And they are not alone. A growing number of businesses, educational and scientific institutions, schools and governments are doing likewise. Why are they doing it? And what has all this got to do with Pakistan?


    The US Army is the single largest user of ‘Red Hat’. Malaysia in 2010 switched 703 of its 724 government agencies to Linux.

  • Rikomagic goes Linux with Picuntu

    Mobile enthusiasts already know about Rikomagic’s MK802 III (Rockchip RK3066) and MK802 IV (RK3188) HDMI TV sticks, both of which run Google’s wildly popular Android Jelly Bean.

    However, the device maker is now going Linux with the MK802III LE and MK802IV LE quad-core, as the devices are slated to run Picuntu OS (Ubuntu).

  • A Second Helping of Pi

    In my last article I described how to set up a Raspberry Pi as a network attached storage (NAS) device and UPnP media server. By the time I was done with that project I was so impressed with the power and flexibility of the Pi that I decided to order another unit and set it up to replace my Linux Mint-based home entertainment system computer.

  • Server

    • 20 great years of Linux and supercomputers

      In the latest Top500 supercomputer rankings, 476 of the top 500 fastest supercomputers, 95.2 percent, in the world run Linux. Linux has ruled supercomputing for years. But, it wasn’t always that way.

      When the first Top500 supercomputer list was compiled in June 1993, Linux was just gathering steam. Indeed, in 1993, the first successful Linux distributions, Slackware and Debian were only just getting off the ground.

    • Why Linux is Super (Computing)

      This week the Linux Foundation is issuing a report on 20 years of the Top 500 Supercomputer list. It’s a list that Linux has dominated in recent years.

  • Kernel Space

    • Beggar Varghese

      Kudos to Sarah. Boo to geeky dinosaurs like Linus and Varghese who refuse to mature with the product, Linux, which is now in use by everyone on the planet. Polite society demands better behaviour. Linux has escaped from a crevice in geekdom. It’s mainstream and must adjust to greater visibility and side effects. It matter not only what developers say to each other but how they say it. It would cost them nothing to change and would make Linux more acceptable to more people and organizations, a good thing.

    • Linux 3.11 Kernel Power Use Still Being Investigated

      On Friday I reported that the Linux 3.11 kernel may lower power consumption for Intel systems. Since then, additional power consumption tests have revealed there are some changes within the Linux 3.11 but overall recent kernel releases are in better shape than the past.

    • Tux3 Still Dreaming Of Design Improvements

      The Tux3 Linux BTree-based file-system that isn’t yet mainline in the Linux kernel is continuing to focus on new features and capabilities.

      I’m in the process of preparing some Tux3 file-system benchmarks on Phoronix compared to Btrfs, EXT4, XFS, etc. In the process of benchmarking Tux3, I’ve also been looking to see what the latest activity has been for this out-of-tree project. The last time I wrote about Tux3 was last May when they claimed to be faster than Tmpfs and previous to that was a Tux3 status update from March.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel 2.21.13 Driver Fixes Performance Regressions

        The xf86-video-intel 2.21.13 driver was released on Sunday by Intel’s Chris Wilson. This latest Intel X.Org driver update has some performance regression fixes plus fixes the Intel X.Org driver to build on non-Linux systems.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Meet Nayobe Millis!

        Hi to all, today we have for you an interview with Nayobe Millis. She is a young girl from United States (she is only 16) who has collaborated with us in the webshop, giving us permissions to make merchandise with this cute artwork: Sheep’s Pan Flute. She is our younger artist! thanks to her and enjoy the interview :)

      • Akademy 2013 – Or how a Blog is born

        Akademy 2013 has recently ended and it was so awesome that I need to write a Blogpost about it. Not the only reason, but a good one none the less (The other being that Àlex Fiestas has bugged me about blogging about my work on kio-mtp or rather what I do upstream in LIBMTP to fix the really annoying issues). So now, with some delay due to getting my Blog on Planet KDE first, my impressions about the really amazing Akademy 2013 in Bilbao. Because: What better way to start a Blog, right?

      • KDE Commit-Digest for 23rd June 2013
      • GHNS in Artikulate

        I am currently working on implementing GHNS in Artikulate. So far the user in order to get the course data files had to manually clone git repository. This is not ideal and we would like to support downloading the courses within the application. Therefore I am trying to use GHNS (Get Hot New Stuff) library to accomplish this. Below there is a screenshot of the download window I have so far.

      • Switching the Plasma shells

        For Plasma 2, we are aiming to have one plasma to rule them all, but not in the way the others are doing it. We still believe that different form factors need different UIs (I refuse to use UX instead of UI, so sue me :) ). We just want the same application to be able to load the fitting interfaces for the desktop, netbook or tablets. And we want it to be able to dynamically switch between those.

      • GSoC – Week 6

        I’m Anmol, and this is the report for week 6 of my work on revamping Amarok’s scripting interface. This week has been mostly been about polishing existing functionality and documenting code.

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME Terminal 3.10 Beta 1 Enables Nautilus Extension by Default

        The GNOME developers announced a few minutes ago, July 28, the immediate availability for download and testing of the first Beta release of the upcoming GNOME Terminal 3.10 application for the GNOME desktop environment.

      • GNOME Alone – The Free Software Column

        The developers set about revising GNOME as an up-to-date desktop suitable for both mobile and static desktop devices – and were surprised by the sometimes hostile response their work received. Richard Hillesley reads the runes

  • Distributions

    • 4 Disturbing And Avoidable Linux Distros

      Now we all know that Apartheid was long before banished from earth. But unbelievably this system still exists in the Linux world, and even there is a very disturbing Linux distro on it- Apartheid Linux. Maybe one of the worst Linux distros ever, the Apartheid Linux simply is absurd and pointless. Certainly packed with offensive themes and wallpapers, this OS comes with a very odious banner, basically for the ignorant white racists set of people.

    • Unfaithfully Yours: The Linux Version

      Distro hoppers are few and far between in the Linux blogosphere today if bloggers’ tales are anything to go by, but in the past most have been around the proverbial block a few times. “I used to be,” admitted consultant and Slashdot blogger Gerhard Mack. “I started with Slackware in the 90s but then moved to Red Hat and even tried SuSE before settling on Debian and staying there.”

    • New Releases

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Running PMU-Tools On Modern Intel CPUs

        The open-source PMU-Tools package for Linux allows for a number of performance monitoring units / performance counters to be tapped on the latest Intel processors. PMU-Tools builds on top of the Linux kernel’s perf subsystem to offer a wealth of information to developers.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Price Target Cut to $39.00 by Analysts at JP Morgan Cazenove (RHT)

        Research analysts at JP Morgan Cazenove reduced their price target on shares of Red Hat (NYSE:RHT) from $43.00 to $39.00 in a report released on Monday, Stock Ratings Network reports. The firm currently has an “underweight” rating on the stock. JP Morgan Cazenove’s target price points to a potential downside of 20.34% from the company’s current price.

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Zynq Processor Leads ARM/FPGA Embedded Linux Trend
    • $55 board runs ARM Linux on Freescale Vybrid SoC

      Phytec announced a pair of community-backed, industrial-focused single-board computers built around its PhyCore-Vybrid SOM computer-on-modules, which are based on Freescale’s Vybrid system-on-chips. The $55 Cosmic SBC integrates a Phytec COM equipped with a Vybrid SoC having a single 500MHz Cortex-A5 core, while Phytec’s $65 Cosmic+ SBC model provides the dual-core SoC version, which can run Linux on a Cortex-A5 core along with Freescale’s MQX RTOS on a Cortex-M4 core.

    • Raspberry Pi’s Eben Upton: Open Source Lessons from Wayland

      In less than two years the Raspberry Pi has sold more than 1 million units and become widely used and adored among DIY hackers and embedded professionals alike. It began in 2006 as a modest idea to provide a low-cost educational computer for students to tinker with. Now the $25 Linux-based single-board computer is the basis for all kinds of gadgets from near-space cameras, to open source spy boxes, to the PiGate, a full-scale Stargate replica.

    • Rikomagic UK Minix Linux ARM Mini PCs Soon Launching

      Rikomagic UK is gearing up to launch a new line of mini PCs in the form of the Minix Linux ARM Mini PCs that will take the form of the MK802 III LE (Linux Edition) and MK802 IV LE

    • Phones

      • Smartphone with Sailfish OS coming soon to India

        Sailfish operating system, which is based on Nokia’s abandoned Meego operating system and claims to have great multitasking capability, will soon be introduced in India. A spokesperson of Zopo Mobile, a Chinese player which recently entered India, said to The Mobile Indian, “The company is working on a Sailfish operating system based handset and will soon introduce it in the market.” The operating system is said to provide better multitasking than existing smartphones.

      • Ballnux

      • Android

        • Chromecast hacked: uses Google TV code, stripped of Android features

          Google described its new Chromecast HDMI web streaming device as running a slimmed down version of ChromeOS, but hackers have discovered it’s really Google TV without the Android features.

        • Google’s Chromecast Already Exploited

          Released this past week by Google alongside Android 4.3 and the new Nexus 7 tablet was the Chromecast, a $35 device to essentially relay web-pages and video content from your PC or mobile device to an HDMI TV. The Chromecast has now been exploited so a root shell is accessible.

        • Android 4.3 to hit Sony Xperia smartphones, tablet

          The new flavor of Android is due to reach a wide range of Xperia devices, even as Sony is still busy rolling out Android 4.2 to some members of its lineup.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Fidus Writer: Open Source Collaborative Editor For Non-Geek Academics

    While writing my Ph.D in anthropology I found out it’s almost impossible to get non-geeks to help me with editing my thesis because it was written in Latex. Lyx is almost there, but as it’s not web based, it’s difficult to use for online collaboration.

  • Open Source Webcam Software Lineup Published on SoftwareReviewBoffin.Com

    Boffin, trusted software review website published its latest selection of recommended free webcam software, for users looking for quality video experience.

  • Crypton open source project to thwart online surveillance

    Crypton’s “unique” approach comes from its ability to allow web application developers to exert and apply encryption controls in the browser itself i.e. before the application data is sent to perform storage or related processing at a remote server location where the wider spread of malware could potentially occur on unencrypted data.

  • Open source races to the top

    Not only is open source producing the most exciting new software, it’s creating a DMZ where big players can shape the future of enterprise tech

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla experiments with users sharing interests with websites

        SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Mozilla has floated the idea of using Firefox users’ web browsing history to deliver personalised content.

        Mozilla said it has been working on the idea of serving personalised recommendations to Firefox users for a year. The firm is floating the idea that by having the web browser go through the user’s web history, with the user sharing those interests with third party websites, then websites can serve content that’s of interest to the user.

      • Firefox: let us tell websites what you’re interested in

        Mozilla proposes that Firefox harvests users interests so that websites don’t have to suck up your web history

      • How Firefox OS Could Sneak Into the Smartphone Chicken Coop

        With the mobile industry now so heavily dominated by Android and iOS, is there possibly room for another contender? That remains to be seen, of course, but Firefox OS has several advantages to set it apart. Not only is it open source and made by freedom-defending Mozilla — maker of the Firefox browser — but it’s also built on a foundation of cross-platform HTML5.

      • Top Firefox Extensions for Normal People
  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Met Office steers clear of cloud computing due to cost and security concerns

      The UK’s national weather service, the Met Office, is embracing open-source software for major projects, including the prediction of so-called “space weather”. However, the organistion is steering clear of the cloud due to security and cost concerns.

      The Met Office’s portfolio technical lead James Tomkins told V3 that open-source software was becoming an increasingly important part of the organisation’s projects. “Open source has become an increasing opportunity for us,” he explained. “The government was looking for a way to try and reduce its bills and that’s something we really embraced over the last couple of years.”

    • Open Source Software-Defined Storage Platform Ceph Gains Ground

      Ceph, the open source, software-defined storage platform that is contending for its share of the rapidly evolving market for distributed storage systems for the cloud and Big Data, has chalked up a significant victory at the University of Hawaii at Manoa. Inktank, the company behind Ceph, partnered with the university’s College of Education to deploy a private cloud powered by Ceph, OpenStack and Ubuntu Linux to support research activities.

  • Databases

    • EnterpriseDB: Feds Love Open Source Postgres Database

      The open source object-relational Postgres database platform (formally known as PostgreSQL) appears to be gaining ground in the government sector as the database wars rage on. That’s according to EnterpriseDB, which says its list of customers in the federal government is rapidly growing at the expense of Oracle (ORCL) database solutions.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Education

    • The selling of Open Educational Resources (OER)

      As a self-professed metadata geek, I’ve recently been participating in an online discussion about metadata and the Learning Registry. I have to say, it feels as if I’m on a merry-go-round that won’t stop, because for the past 10 years I’ve engaged in dozens if not hundreds of conversations about the use of OER (open education resources) metadata concerning these same issues: Do we need it? How should it be licensed? Who owns it?

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • MidnightBSD and Razor-qt – examining two projects in the ball pit of open source

      Variety is not only the spice of life, it is also one of the greatest strengths of the open source community. Having access to source code and being able to tweak it, build new things with it and even fork it and run off in a completely new direction are all powerful benefits. Sometimes being an open source reviewer is like diving into a ball pit where many of the balls are similar in colour or size, but there are always a few dozen that are shiny or have stripes and they playfully catch the eye. This week I would like to talk briefly about two projects which, while I might not plan to stick with them, did have the ability to catch my eye.


  • Project Releases

    • GDrive mounting released!

      So version libferris-1.5.18.tar.xz is hot off the make dist; including this much ado about mounting Google Drive support. The last additional feature I decided to add before rolling the tarball was support for viewing and adding to the sharing information of a file. It didn’t really do much for me being able to “cp” a file to google://drive without being able to unlock it for given people I know to have access to it. So now you can do that from the filesystem as well.

    • BoFs at Akademy
    • KDE Plasma Desktop 4.11′s new Task Manager

      One of the many things to look forward to in the impending KDE Plasma 4.11 release is a new version of the default Task Manager applet, which had its front-facing bits rewritten from scratch, along with additional support work and improvements in the underlying library.

    • Zotero on Nexus7 in Plasma Active

      Zotero, in a nutshell, is a pretty sophisticated literature management tool. It lets you, “… collect, organize, cite, and share your research sources.” In this post I briefly present how I got Zotero running on the Nexus7 tablet in Plasma Active.

    • Awesome days during Akademy 2013
    • Oz Improves Linux, Windows Guest Installation

      Oz 0.11 has been released, which is an open-source program for carrying out automated installations of guest operating systems with only limited input from end-users.

  • Licensing

    • Defeat UK’s Great Firewall of Cameron with Immunicity

      As the UK government, courts and entertainment lobbyists turn the national network connection into a termite-riddled mess of blocked and censored sites to rival Iran’s “halal Internet,” Britons are questing about for a way to get access to the free,open Internet enjoyed by people in countries where censorship is not considered a legitimate response to political problems.

      Enter Immunicity, a Web-based censorship-circumvention tookit from the same people who created the Torrenticity anti-censorship system. From a normal Web-browser,

  • Openness/Sharing

    • The Matrix Of Hell And Two Open-Source Projects For The Emerging Agnostic Cloud

      Docker, an app container service from the co-founder at DotCloud, and Salt, an open DevOps platform from the founder of SaltStack, were mentioned this past week at OSCON as two of the most exciting new open-source efforts.

    • Can the music industry learn from open-source culture?

      Musician Damon Krukowski has already made waves with one Pitchfork op-ed on streaming music royalties. He returned to the debate on Friday with a thoughtful new piece subtitled ‘How the music industry could learn from open-source culture, and why a decentralized network of musicians and fans should lead the way forward’.

      His theory is that artists and fans still “keep being left out of the equation” in deals between rightsholders and technology companies, and that the solution may be artists going their own way with music streams.

    • First Open Source Airplane Could Cost Just $15,000

      There’s an open source airplane being developed in Canada, and now its designers are looking to double down on the digital trends, turning to crowdsourced funding to finish the project. The goal of Maker Plane is to develop a small, two-seat airplane that qualifies as a light sport aircraft and is affordable, safe, and easy to fly. But unlike other home-built aircraft, where companies or individuals charge for their plans or kits, Maker Plane will give its design away for free.

    • The Matrix Of Hell And Two Open-Source Projects For The Emerging Agnostic Cloud

      Docker, an app container service from the co-founder at DotCloud, and Salt, an open DevOps platform from the founder of SaltStack, were mentioned this past week at OSCON as two of the most exciting new open-source efforts.

    • Open Data

      • Q&A: Tiffani Williams, computer scientist, on creating an open source tree of life

        The Open Tree of Life project culls years’ worth of segmented scientific research in an effort to create a current, open source version of our knowledge on thousands of plant and animal species. Tiffani Williams, a computer scientist at Texas A&M University who is working on the project, said the Open Tree of Life will eventually be a Wikipedia-like living document for scientists and the community to edit and use for research.

        I spoke recently with Williams about the segmented nature of the tree of life, the challenges of the project and how an open tree of life could impact science in schools. Below are excerpts from our interview.

      • Open source data a boon to malaria research
    • Open Access/Content

    • Open Hardware

  • Programming

    • Apple, Google Agree On More SLP Vectorization

      After making more widespread use of the Loop Vectorizer, developers at Apple in Google are at least agreeing that LLVM’s SLP Vectorizer should be more widely-used as well.

      The LLVM SLP Vectorizer was covered earlier this year on Phoronix (and benchmarked) with its premiere in LLVM 3.3. The SLP Vectorizer is about “Superworld-Level Parallelism” and works towards vectorizing straight-line code over LLVM’s already present and proven Loop Vectorizer. The SLP Vectorizer can vectorize memory access, arithmetic operations, comparison operations, and other select operations.


  • BLM, Burning Man organizers confident they can handle larger crowd on Nevada desert

    The largest outdoor arts festival in North America is about to become bigger.

  • Twitter abuse: let’s debate what the police are doing

    Rape threats are vile. They are also illegal. Harassment is also an offence. The recent spate of such threats against Caroline Criado-Perez resulted in a change.org call for a Twitter ‘abuse’ button.

    Now that somebody has been arrested for threatening Caroline Criado-Perez, the debate should shift to where it should have started. How should the police react to complaints of online harassment and threats of violence?

    From a campaigning standpoint, focusing on Twitter seems to make sense. Twitter have a customer base and reputation they need to protect. Rape threats are unacceptable, and Twitter will be under immense pressure to take action. Inaction looks like protecting the bottom line. People will understand that campaigning can have an effect in raising the issue of online threats and abuse. Labour have joined in with Yvette Cooper accusing Twitter’s response of being ‘inadequate’.

  • Facebook Brag Leads To Arrest In Dog Burning Case

    St. Louis’ Mayor Slay Animal Cruelty Task Force has made a felony arrest in an animal cruelty case.

    A dog Stray Rescue later named “Brownie” was found July 10, in the 4300 block of Cote Brilliante. He was chained and severely burned after being lit on fire.

  • Science

    • How a satellite called Syncom changed the world

      Hughes engineer Harold Rosen’s team overcame technical and political hurdles to send the Syncom communications satellite into orbit 50 years ago.

    • The materials breakthrough that might lead to computers thousands of times faster

      As the technology for making silicon circuitry smaller, faster and less power-thirsty approaches the limits of physics, scientists have tried out many materials in the search for an alternative to silicon. New research by a team at the US Department of Energy’s SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory may have put some other promising candidates into the race.

  • Hardware

    • Intel targets microservers with 8-core Atom SoC

      Intel’s Atom low-power processors have found their way into all sorts of devices. Now the chip giant is mounting an assault on the server market with a new 8-core Atom SoC (System-on-a-Chip) part designed with bother performance and efficiency in mind.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Bad Seed: The Health Risks of Genetically Modified Corn

      With symptoms including headaches, nausea, rashes, and fatigue, Caitlin Shetterly visited doctor after doctor searching for a cure for what ailed her. What she found, after years of misery and bafflement, was as unlikely as it was utterly common.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Who is America at war with? Sorry, that’s classified
    • Who Are We at War With? That’s Classified

      The Pentagon has classified the list of groups that the USA believes itself to be at war with. They say that releasing a list of the groups that it considers to itself to be fighting could be used by those groups to boast about the fact that America takes them seriously, and thus drum up recruits.

    • EU’s response to NSA? Drones, spy satellites could fly over Europe

      The European Union is pondering an EU Commission proposal to acquire a fleet of surveillance drones, satellites, and planes as part of an “ambitious action” to boost the European defense industry. It follows revelations of the NSA’s spying programs.

      The European Commission has issued a 17-page report, proposing some concrete steps that would encourage pan-European defense cooperation.

    • New DHS Headquarters was a CIA MKUltra Test Facility
    • US Officials Attack Leaked Report on Civilians Drone Deaths

      US officials are claiming that an internal Pakistani assessment of civilian deaths from US drone strikes – obtained and published in full by the Bureau – is ‘far from authoritative.’

      The secret document was obtained by the Bureau from three independent sources. It provides details of more than 70 CIA drone strikes between 2006 and 2009, and was compiled by civilian officials throughout Pakistan’s tribal areas.

    • Halliburton pleads guilty to destroying gulf oil spill evidence

      The company was charged with one misdemeanor count of destruction of evidence in a New Orleans US District Court. It will be fined $200,000, and one of its subsidiaries will be put on three years probation, according to a statement issued by the company.

      The fine, amounting to less than one tenth of a percent of Halliburton’s $679 million profits in the second quarter of this year, is less than a slap on the wrist and constitutes a de facto government approval of Halliburton’s criminal activities. Last year, the company set aside $300 million to cover possible fines related to the case.

    • European Court to hear new CIA jail case against Poland

      The European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) has agreed to consider a second case brought against Poland by a man who alleges he was held illegally in a secret CIA jail on Polish territory.

    • Ex CIA Spy Had Residency in Panama

      Panamanian authorities have remained silent about the arrest and release of an ex agent of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), Robert Seldon Lady, who had an ID and permanent residence in this country, an official said.

    • Missoula man was smokejumper at 17, worked for CIA at 20, died mysteriously in Thailand at 40

      She’d spent years in California recording interviews with the Hmong who Daniels had lived and fought alongside in the 1960s and ’70s, during the U.S. government’s secret war in Laos.

    • Pakistan condemns the US drone strike in Shawal Area

      The Government of Pakistan strongly condemns the US drone strike that took placein Shawal Areain North Waziristan on the night of 28 July 2013. These unilateral strikes are a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty and territorial integrity. Pakistan has repeatedly emphasized the importance of bringing an immediate end to drone strikes.

    • Australia and drones: time for an honest and public debate

      Last month a US drone fired four Hellfire missiles into a building and car in Waziristan. The first media reports stated two to four people were killed. The next said seven people killed and two injured. Then the New York Times reported 16 people killed and five injured. Last count was at least 17 killed.

      On the weekend there were drone strikes in Pakistan’s Waziristan region; six were killed according to initial reports – these details will likely change in coming days. Facts are very slippery around this secretive program.

    • US approves drones for civilian use

      The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has issued certificates for two types of unmanned aircraft for civilian use. The move is expected to lead to the first approved commercial drone operation later this summer.

      The two unmanned aircraft systems (UAS) are the Scan Eagle X200 and Aero Vironment’s PUMA. They both measure around 4 ½ feet long, weighing less than 55 pounds, and have a wing span of ten and nine feet respectively.

    • FBI letter to Rand Paul reveals drones used 10 times in US

      The Federal Bureau of Investigations has used unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), or drones, at least ten times in the United States, a letter from the agency to Kentucky Republican Sen. Rand Paul revealed on Thursday.

      “Since late 2006, the FBI has conducted surveillance using UAV’s in eight criminal cases and two nationals security cases,” the letter reads. A footnote at the end of the sentence noted that in three additional cases, drones were authorized, but “not actually used.”

    • The FBI has used drones for warrantless surveillance in the US in 10 different cases

      Then there’s the issue of the Fourth Amendment, which protects US citizens from unreasonable search and seizure, and which typically means that law enforcement has to get a warrant to conduct a search. Kelly, though, reveals in his letter to Paul that the FBI hasn’t actually obtained a warrant for any of its drone surveillance operations so far. “To date, there has been no need for the FBI to seek a warrant or judicial order in any of the few cases where UAVs have been used,” Kelly writes, saying in all of the cases, the people surveilled had no “reasonable expectation of privacy.”

    • FBI Has Used Drones On Americans To Save A Child… And The Rest Is Secret
    • Life as a US drone operator: ‘It’s like playing a video game for four years’

      “It is a lot like playing a video game,” a former Predator drone operator matter-of-factly admits to the artist Omer Fast. “But playing the same video game four years straight on the same level.” His bombs kill real people though and, he admits, often not the people he is aiming at.

    • Awlaki’s killing and the Constitution

      So the president, acting to protect the country, orders him killed. A CIA drone strike takes him out in Yemen.

    • EU to own drones as part of spy agency
    • A Shameful Day to Be a US Citizen

      It is bad enough that we Americans have to hang our heads in shame as our Attorney General pretends, against all evidence to the contrary, that there is still a fair legal system operating in the US, and that the US respects human rights and the rule of law.

      We should not have to also endure yet another kangaroo court trial, this time of Edward Snowden.

      Snowden should be granted asylum in Russia, or should be allowed to travel to one of the other countries of his choice that have had the courage to offer him asylum.

      If we’re going to have trials on the issue of spying in the US, let them be of Holder himself, and of President Obama.

    • Police In Toronto Are Public Enemy Number One

      Now, in Canada, a police officer, or anyone else for that matter, is allowed to use lethal force in self-defence or defence of others, but no one was threatened by this guy. Other officers, not the shooters, were walking around the bus without a weapon drawn. Obviously, there was no emergency requiring lethal force. They could have Tasered the guy without shooting him. Once he was shot at least once, he was even less of a threat. Why the overkill?

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Lew says stubborn Congress risks repeating U.S. fiscal wounds

      U.S. Treasury Secretary Jack Lew on Sunday warned Congress against manufacturing a crisis over federal spending in the months ahead, as looming deadlines set the stage for a repeat of the political deadlock which two years ago triggered worldwide financial market turmoil.

    • We’re Taxing the Rich… and So Can You

      They’ve been saying it for decades. “Taxes are bad,” they also claim. “Government doesn’t work. And public employees are greedy.”

      Consequently, common wisdom had it that “you can’t raise taxes.” Even people who should have known better believed this—while the public sector slid down the tubes.

      So how did Proposition 30 succeed? This measure, passed by voters last November, raises $6 billion a year for schools and services—in California, a supposedly “anti-tax” state. The money comes mostly through an income tax hike on rich people, along with a tiny sales tax increase of ¼ percent.

    • Carl Bildt falls foul of Twitter

      Carl Bildt, Sweden’s foreign minister has fallen foul of Twitter after sparking ridicule for a tweet saying that he was looking forward to an elite Davos dinner to discuss “global hunger”.

    • Florida congressman’s bill would do away with U.S. raisin reserve

      A Florida congressman has introduced a bill that would eliminate one of the U.S. government’s most unusual institutions: the Raisin Administrative Committee, keepers of the national raisin reserve.

    • Bank Robs House By Mistake, Refuses To Pay Up

      Imagine returning home from vacation and finding your home cleaned out. The thieves grabbed all the furniture, all the gadgets, all the kitchenware, and left you nothing. That’s what happened to an Ohio woman recently, and the police are refusing to help.

      That’s because the perpetrator was First National Bank. Except Katie Barnett was not behind on her payments; the bank just repossessed the wrong house.

    • Vinton County Woman Wants Possessions Back After Bank Tried To Repossess Wrong House
    • The United States of… Class War, Inequality, and Poverty

      New economic data obtained and analyzed by the Associated Press appears to show that when billionaire financier Warren Buffett says, “There’s class warfare, all right.. and we’re winning,” he knows what he’s talking about.

  • Censorship

    • Take action: Call out Cameron on online censorship

      David Cameron is asking Britain to sleepwalk into censorship. Everyone agrees that we should try to protect children from harmful content. But unprecedented filtering of legal content for everyone is not the answer.

    • Australia responds to UK porn filter

      Australia’s Internet Industry Association has responded to the UK government’s controversial porn filtering proposal, calling for restraint and considered debate.

    • Blocking Porn At The Google Or Search Engine Level Won’t Work

      David Cameron, the UK Prime Minister, has a bright idea over how to deal with the menace of online porn. Just make the search engines not return a result for a list of banned words and phrases. As usual with a politician sparking the synapses this isn’t a very good idea, indeed it would be, as one writer puts it, applying a tourniquet to the First Amendment (not that the UK has one of those but you get the idea). For the problem is that language is pretty complex. It is indeed true that there are combinations of words that are used to describe certain sexual practices that we might not want the little children to see pictures of.

    • Microsoft Wants Google to Censor…. Microsoft.com

      In an attempt to make pirated content harder to find copyright holders ask Google to remove millions of search results every week. While these automated requests are usually legitimate, mistakes happen more often than one might expect. For example, in an embarrassing act of self-censorship Microsoft recently asked Google to censor links to its very own Microsoft.com.

    • Police use of ‘Ring of Steel’ is disproportionate and must be reviewed
    • UK Police’s ‘Ring Of Steel’ Spying On Every Car Entering And Leaving Town Ruled Disproportionate

      The UK is famous for its abundant CCTV cameras, but it’s also pretty keen on the equally intrusive Automatic Number Plate Recognition (ANPR) cameras that can identify cars and hence their owners as they pass. Here, for example, is what’s been going on in the town of Royston, whose local police force has just had its knuckles rapped by the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) for the over-enthusiastic deployment of such ANPR systems there:

  • Privacy

    • Intelligence Officials Can’t Keep Story Straight: Snowden Both Did And Did Not Get Key NSA Secrets

      We’ve already talked about how NSA surveillance supporters are trying to claim both that Ed Snowden’s links were either “nothing new” or “false” and that they “harm America.” We had trouble understanding how both could be true — but supporters were making both statements. Now intelligence officials are doing their own sort of contradictory statements, as pointed out by Glenn Greenwald. First up, we’ve got intelligence officials claiming that Snowden didn’t get the really deep dark secrets of the NSA:

    • Rep. Mike Pompeo Says NSA’s Metadata Program Is A Result Of The Way ‘Government Is Supposed To Operate’

      Rep. Mike Pompeo who, along with Rep. Richard Nugent, whipped up the “red herring” amendment designed to draw support away from Rep. Justin Amash’s more direct NSA-defunding effort, took to the mic to do a bit of orating before his amendment sailed through on a 409-12 vote.

    • Rep. Rush Holt Bill To Repeal PATRIOT And FISA Amendments Acts Now Live, Ambitious
    • Why Does Rep. Mike Rogers Always Mock The Internet And Its Users?

      Rep. Mike Rogers, who has long been a strong supporter of stomping on your privacy in the name of supporting his friends (and family) who are a part of the intelligence-industrial complex, seems to have a real hatred for the internet and the people who express their opinion via the internet. No wonder he was the lead sponsor of CISPA and wanted the ability to undermine the privacy promises of internet companies. Back when the CISPA debate was happening, and there was widespread grassroots opposition, Rogers dismissed it all, claiming that it was just “14-year-olds in their basement clicking around on the internet.

    • The Bizarre Flip-Floppers: 13 Reps Who Voted To Stop Patriot Act Spying 2 Years Ago, But Voted To Continue It Yesterday

      We’ve already noted that there were quite a few oddities in the group of Representatives who voted against the Amash Amendment yesterday, effectively giving their stamp of approval of the NSA spying on every single American. But, the strangest of all were those who had spoken out against the very same program in the past. We noted a few who had spoken out years ago, but the Long Strange Journey blog noticed that there are 13 Representatives who voted against extending parts of the Patrtiot Act (including the provision that the Amash Amendment sought to clarify to stop mass data collection), but then voted against the amendment yesterday.

    • What Edward Snowden Has Given Us

      Less than a week later, Glenn Greenwald was asserting that Snowden’s worst fear had not been realized. That same claim was made somewhat more plausibly a few days ago by Philip Bump, writing in The Atlantic under the headline “Edward Snowden is Winning.” Even if you don’t agree with that optimistic assessment, the narrowness of the defeat of the Amash Amendment shows how far things have come in a few weeks.

    • It’s time to debate NSA program
    • Leaders Of The 9/11 Commission Say NSA Surveillance Has Gone Too Far

      One of the key talking points from defenders of the NSA surveillance program is that they had to implement it after the 9/11 Commission revealed “holes” in information gathering that resulted in 9/11. This is a misstatement of what that report actually indicated — in that it showed that more than enough data had actua

    • Nancy Pelosi Saved The NSA Surveillance Program; Now She Should Help Kill It

      As we pointed out yesterday, there was a bizarre group of Democratic congressional reps who apparently followed the lead of Nancy Pelosi in voting against the Amash Amendment to defund the NSA program to collect all of your phone data despite the fact that those same Representatives had voted against that very same program a couple years ago. We pointed out that it was clearly Pelosi’s lead that made the others follow — and it was likely that Pelosi was responding to great pressure from the White House. Now ForeignPolicy.com confirms that it was Pelosi’s actions that “saved” the NSA surveillance program, noting that her lobbying was much more effective than NSA boss Keith Alexander’s “private briefing” for Congress.

    • Why Won’t NSA Defenders Publish Their Phone Records?
    • Democratic Leadership Says NSA Data Collection Is Fine Because You ‘May Be In Communication With Terrorists’
    • Which Citizens Are Under More Surveillance, U.S. Or European?

      The disclosure of of previously secret NSA surveillance programs has been met by outrage in Europe. The European Parliament even threatened to delay trade talks with the United States.

    • Opinion: NSA must address privacy concerns

      The National Security Agency survived a legislative challenge in the House of Representatives last week. But senior NSA officials still face an uphill fight to convince the American public that its operations can enhance security without jeopardizing privacy.

      The Obama administration had to lobby aggressively to defeat a bipartisan House proposal to defund the NSA’s collection of Americans’ telephone call records. The narrow 217-205 vote shows how fragile public support has become for the agency’s surveillance programs.

    • NSA, GCHQ ban Lenovo PCs due to security concerns

      Lenovo, the biggest PC supplier in the world, has seen its PCs banned from the secret networks of the intelligence and defence services of the UK, US, Australia, Canada and New Zealand – otherwise known as the Five Eyes.

      Sources from intelligence and defence entities in the UK and Australia have confirmed the ban on PCs made by the Chinese company being used in “classified” networks, according to the Australian Financial Review (AFR).

    • Thousands take to streets in Germany to protest US surveillance of Internet

      Thousands of people are taking to the streets in Germany to protest against the alleged widespread surveillance of Internet users by U.S. intelligence services.

      Protesters, responding to calls by a loose network calling itself #stopwatchingus, braved searing summer temperatures Saturday to demonstrate in Hamburg, Munich, Berlin and up to 35 other German cities and towns.

    • Bribery: pro-NSA Congressional voters got twice the defense industry campaign contributions

      A detailed analysis on Maplight of the voting in last week’s vote on de-funding NSA dragnet spying found that the Congresscritters who voted in favor of more NSA spying received more than double the defense industry campaign contributions of their anti-NSA-voting rivals. They were the winners in the industry’s $13M donation bonanza leading up to the 2012 elections.

    • A New Wi-Fi-Enabled Tooth Sensor Rats You Out When You Smoke or Overeat

      Lying through your teeth just took on a whole new meaning. Cigarettes, drinking, eating too much or too little food—we all have our vices, and vices are hard to drop. When, say, New Years rolls around, it’s easy to make promises to cut them out with no intention of following through.

    • “Zero privacy violations” in NSA programs, Rogers says

      There are “zero privacy violations” in the National Security Agency’s collection of phone records, House Intelligence Committee Chairman Mike Rogers, R-Mich., said Sunday on “Face the Nation,” just days after the chamber narrowly rejected a measure that would have stripped the agency of its assumed authority under the Patriot Act to collect records in bulk.

    • Glenn Greenwald: Low-Level NSA Analysts Have ‘Powerful and Invasive’ Search Tool
    • Low-level NSA analysts can spy on Americans – Greenwald

      NSA spying programs give access to US citizens’ private data to low-level analysts with little court approval or supervision, says Guardian journalist Glenn Greenwald, who broke the story on Washington’s PRISM surveillance system.

      “[PRISM] is an incredibly powerful and invasive tool,” Greenwald told ABC’s ‘This Week.’ The NSA programs are “exactly the type that Mr. Snowden described. NSA officials are going to be testifying before the Senate on Wednesday, and I defy them to deny that these programs work exactly as I’ve said.”

    • German anti-NSA protests attract small crowds
    • Google engineer blasts domestic spying after receiving NSA award

      Google engineer Joseph Bonneau is the first person to be awarded the NSA’s “Best Scientific Cybersecurity Paper” award for his paper “The Science of Guessing,” which analyzed over 70 million user passwords in an effort to study why we’re all so horrible at making strong passwords. “Even seemingly distant language communities choose the
      same weak passwords,” he concludes.

    • Breakneck NSA growth fueled by insatiable demand for its product

      Twelve years later, the cranes and earthmovers around the National Security Agency are still at work, tearing up pavement and uprooting trees to make room for a larger workforce and more powerful computers. Already bigger than the Pentagon in square meters, the NSA’s footprint will grow by an additional 50 percent when construction is complete in a decade.

    • Edward Snowden, Bradley Manning, and the war on whistleblowers

      Uncle Sam is waging all-out war on whistleblowers, while those managing the exposed systems walk away without a scratch

    • Manning trial judge: verdict coming 1 p.m. Tuesday
    • In Closing Argument, Government Casts Bradley Manning as ‘Anarchist,’ ‘Hacker’ & ‘Traitor’
    • Military Harasses Journalists At Bradley Manning Trial
    • NSA: permission to spy in Germany
    • What the Ashcroft “Hospital Showdown” on NSA spying was all about

      We’ve known for years that the STELLAR WIND surveillance program—a massive NSA effort authorized by President George W. Bush after 9/11—eventually led to a dramatic showdown at the bedside of then-attorney general John Ashcroft. The situation surrounding STELLAR WIND was on such shaky legal ground that top members of the government threatened to quit in protest, though the exact reasons for their unease have been difficult to pinpoint.

    • Senator Chambliss’ Confusing Defense of the NSA

      …says he’ll be shocked if Edward Snowden’s account of analyst access to emails and calls is correct.

    • Details Revealed On Old NSA Intelligence Database: ANCHORY

      You may remember that, back in June, we pointed out that if you plugged in a few of the “code names” for various NSA programs (as revealed by Ed Snowden’s leaks), you could find a few resumes of NSA employees, listing out other such code names. Jason Gulledge apparently saw that post, and used the list of code names that we posted to file a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request on NSA documents concerning those programs. Amazingly, they actually sent back some info — though, just about the very first program, ANCHORY, and the info sent is from 1993 (and some from 2000),

  • Civil Rights

    • The Scariest Quote You’ll Read From the Trial Nobody Is Talking About

      There has been a lot of legal debate throughout the U.S. over the last few weeks. Maybe that has dulled Americans’ appetite for major trials.

      One case in particular that is now reaching its climax has seemingly flown under the radar: that of Bradley Manning. Though the case will likely be a watershed moment in terms of journalism, whistleblowing, and national security policy, the Manning trial has not seen the same media attention given to other proceedings this summer.

    • And the NSA Award Goes To…
    • Winner of NSA award disses NSA

      The winner of this year’s security award, sponsored by US spooks at the NSA, is a little embarrassed.

      Joseph Bonneau, of the Computer Laboratory, University of Cambridge would normally have been over the moon at winning such a prestigious award. After all, his paper “The science of guessing” was chosen by top academics in the security world as the year’s best scientific cybersecurity paper.

      Writing in his blog, Bonneau said that he was honoured to have been recognised by the distinguished academic panel assembled by the NSA.

    • Glenn Greenwald: ‘I Defy’ the NSA to Deny Edward Snowden’s Most Radical Claims Under Oath

      The leaker’s claims about access to private data will be vindicated this week, says the journalist who helped report them.

    • Lawmakers Protecting NSA Surveillance Are Awash In Defense Contractor Cash

      Though it failed by a twelve-vote margin, Congressman Justin Amash’s (R-MI) amendment last week to curtail the NSA’s dragnet surveillance efforts reveals new fault lines in the debate over privacy. The roll call for the vote shows that 111 Democrats and ninety-four Republicans supporting the measure, which was co-sponsored by Amash’s Democratic colleague, John Conyers.

    • Major opinion shifts, in the US and Congress, on NSA surveillance and privacy

      Pew finds that, for the first time since 9/11, Americans are now more worried about civil liberties abuses than terrorism

    • Herald News: New alliances formed in NSA vote

      LAST WEEK, a remarkable thing happened in Congress. Democrats sided with Republicans in great numbers, both for and against a crucial bit of legislation in the House of Representatives that sought to scale back the National Security Agency’s program of secretly collecting millions of Americans’ phone records. The governmental policy came to be widely known only after former NSA systems analyst Eric Snowden went public with some of the agency’s surveillance practices.

    • New Zealand report reignites debate on NSA spying

      A disputed report that U.S. spy agencies and New Zealand’s military conspired to spy on a freelance journalist in Afghanistan has opened a new front in the debate over the surveillance programs revealed by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

    • 7 Big Things Every American Should Know About the 2014 NDAA Bill

      Perhaps the most important new development in NDAA 2014 is its establishment of what it terms the “Conflict Records Research Center,” presumably a Department of Defense authorized agency which examines what it deems “captured records.” There are questions raised here, though, the first of which is the definition of a “captured record.” 1061 (g) defines the captured records as files obtained “during combat” from entities “hostile” to the United States; the problem there lies in the definition not just of hostile, a vague adjective, but also of “during combat;” under the Authorization for the Use of Military Force, or AUMF, passed in the early 2000s, the country technically proceeds in a state of contuining combat, which renders the distinction legally ambiguous. It will most likely, though, include the vast reams of information collected by the NSA and its sister agencies, including through programs like PRISM.

    • U.S. lawmakers want sanctions on any country taking in Snowden

      A U.S. Senate panel voted unanimously on Thursday to seek trade or other sanctions against Russia or any other country that offers asylum to former spy agency contractor Edward Snowden, who has been holed up for weeks at a Moscow airport.

    • Delaware School Resource Officer Interrogated Third Grader, Fifth Grader Over Stolen $1

      The incident started when a Delaware State Police trooper, who was on assignment as a school resource officer in the Cape Henlopen School District, questioned the third-grader and a fifth-grader while investigating the theft of $1.

    • Zero Tolerance Policies Put Students In The Hands Of Bad Cops

      Over the past several years, there’s been a rise in the number of law enforcement officers taking up residence in public schools. This rise corresponds with the proliferation of zero-tolerance policies. Combined, these two factors have resulted in criminalization of acts that were once nothing more than violations of school policies, something usually handled by school administrators. As infractions have morphed into criminal acts, the severity of law enforcement “liaison” responses has also escalated.

    • State Capitols in North Carolina, Wisconsin, and Florida Rumble with Citizen Protest
    • SOCA and the blue-chip private investigators

      Earlier in the year we published a report on the growing use of private investigators by local and public authorities, warning that they were being used without RIPA authorisation. Now the Serious Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) is facing serious calls for it to publish its list of companies and individuals who used corrupt private investigators to obtain personal information.

    • Revealed: The 95 FOIA Requests Flagged for Pentagon Approval

      A few weeks ago, the nonpartisan organization Cause of Action posted a story on its website about a secret Pentagon policy that calls for certain Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests that may generate media attention to first be approved by the Pentagon.

      Naturally, I was eager to find out what FOIA requests analysts believed would be of interest to the Pentagon. So, I filed a FOIA for a copy of the list of those FOIAs.

    • Largest Fast Food Workers Strike Hits Seven Cities Across US

      Thousands of fast food workers went on strike in branches across seven U.S. cities on Monday in what could be the largest strike of its kind in U.S. history.

      The workers are protesting unlivable wages and are calling for a nationwide living wage of $15 dollars an hour.

      “A lot of the workers are living in poverty, you know, not being able to afford to put food on the table or take the train to work,” said Jonathan Westin, director of Fast Food Forward, who has been organizing fast-food workers in New York City.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • TTIP’s “Science-based” Assault on Democracy Begins

      Some of the statements there are truly incredible – for example, the idea that animal welfare or consumer preferences have no place in a country’s trade policy, or that standards “stricter than their international counterparts” are somehow bad, and should be forbidden (isn’t that what we should be striving for – doing better than the average?) The latter also confirms what I’ve noted elsewhere: that the only way TTIP can “succeed” on its own terms is if all health and safety standards are levelled *downwards*, to the detriment of the public.


      Without realising it, the corporations are revealing their profound contempt for democracy, and for the right of citizens to choose the laws that govern them. Instead, the huge multi-nationals are asserting the primacy of profit – and of their right to over-rule local laws. I’ve warned about this previously, specifically in the case of Monsanto, but it’s still frightening to see the naked expression by companies of their desire to see law trumped by lucre.

    • To Counter Secret Negotiations Over TPP, Coalition Sets Up Open Alternative

      By this point, we’ve covered the absurd secrecy around trade agreements like the TPP many times over. TPP, TAFTA and other such trade agreements are being negotiated entirely in secret, with no chance for public feedback or discussion, but with plenty of access for special interests who are driving the key aspects of the negotiation. While various government officials — mainly the USTR in the US — have claimed that (1) negotiations are transparent because anyone can go talk to them and (2) that the actual text needs to be secret or no deal can get done, neither point is even remotely accurate. Transparency is not about listening, but sharing openly. They can listen all they want, but that’s not transparency when what’s actually being debated and agreed on is still secret. Furthermore, plenty of other agreements, such as those at WIPO, are negotiated much more publicly with drafts being released and debated in public. There is no reason that cannot be done with TPP or TAFTA.

    • Companies Request Special Permission From Feds To Register Intellectual Property In North Korea

      The folks over at NPR’s Planet Money recently did a fun podcast discussing requests by US companies for permission to route around the sanctions imposed by the US government on North Korea in order to do business with North Korea. This came about after Planet Money got back a bunch of documents from a FOIA (Freedom of Information Act) request revealing the letters that various companies sent to the Office of Foreign Assets Control, basically begging for exceptions to the sanctions. The podcast mostly focused on the “novelty” items — the guy who wanted to buy a single pair of North Korean jeans for his wife, the company that wanted to import North Korean beer, the stamp trading company that wants North Korean postage stamps because they’re so rare, etc. But at the end of the podcast, they mention that among the stuff they didn’t cover, were requests having to do with… intellectual property.

    • Copyrights

      • Kim Dotcom Battle Sees Kiwi Public Burn Through US$1.6m in Legal Costs
      • Piracy Collapses As Legal Alternatives Do Their Job

        Entertainment industry groups in Norway have spent years lobbying for tougher anti-piracy laws, finally getting their way earlier this month. But with fines and site blocking now on the agenda, an interesting trend has been developing. Quietly behind the scenes music piracy has collapsed to less than a fifth of the level it reached five years ago while movie and TV show downloading has been cut in half.

      • Fed Up Germans Are Trying To Crowdfund A GEMA Alternative That Isn’t Evil

        We’ve had many stories over the years about just how evil and awful the German music collection society GEMA can be. I’ve been to Germany a few times over the past few years, and have spoken to musicians who tell me horrifying stories about how you basically have to sign up with GEMA, and then GEMA controls what you can do with your music. For example, I met a band that wanted to license its music under a Creative Commons license, but GEMA doesn’t like to recognize such licenses. Another band showed me its “official” website, which it told GEMA about, and then its “real” website, which it told its fans about, where the band could actually put up their own music for free. GEMA is basically controlled by the legacy interests and only pays attention to a small group of very successful musicians. Everyone else is left out in the cold. There’s a reason why GEMA is the only major collection society that still hasn’t worked out a deal with YouTube.

      • Copyright, Control and Censorship

        This morning, the House Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property, and the Internet held its second in a series of hearings that form the beginning of a review of current copyright law. And while the first hearing was largely comprised of copyright critics, today’s hearing featured those who make their livings and who are innovating new technologies based on the copyright system.

      • Why Yes, Copyright Can Be Used To Censor, And ‘Fair Use Creep’ Is Also Called ‘Free Speech’

        So, as we’d been discussing, Congress recently had a hearing about copyright reform that was supposed to be about the “content creators’” view of copyright — but which actually mostly presented the views of the legacy industry which makes money off the backs of creators, rather than hearing from any creators themselves. The hearing was about as silly as you might expect, with Parker Higgins from EFF presenting a good run down of the problems, including the claims that it’s copyright that enables free speech, that copyright is good because it’s “about control” and that “fair use creep” is dangerous. Of course, if you want a funny, and nearly totally wrong counterpoint, you can read the overview from Tom Giovanetti, who runs a “think tank” that is a favorite of copyright maximalists. Let’s compare and contrast, and add some reality.

TechBytes Video: Richard Stallman on Privacy

Posted in TechBytes Video at 7:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Techbytes 2013

Direct download as Ogg (00:03:08, 10.5 MB)

Summary: Richard Stallman speaks to TechBytes about ECHELON, PRISM, and other issues that relate to privacy after the NSA leaks

Made entirely using Free/libre software, heavily compressed for performance on the Web at quality’s expense

The Crisis of Microsoft and the Coverup

Posted in Microsoft, Vista 8, Windows at 6:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hiding from the truth


Summary: Recent news about the demise of Microsoft’s common carrier (Windows) and coverage that belittles this fundamental problem

Without the monopoly on platforms and document formats Microsoft will have to complete based on technical merit (which it doesn’t have). This is why Microsoft has bribed and engaged in other crimes to promote OOXML and ensure that almost nobody runs a desktop/laptop without Windows. A lot has changed since smartphones became as powerful as last decade’s desktops and tablets compensated for size differences. Nowadays Linux in the form of Android outsells Windows.

“Some people suspected that Steve Ballmer would get fired over the latest major dip, which was caused by vanity and oversupply.”Some people suspected that Steve Ballmer would get fired over the latest major dip, which was caused by vanity and oversupply. Microsoft just cannot enter the smartphones and tablets market. Windows is not good enough and people don’t want it. “Even the “Friends of Bill” on the board of directors,” said one article, “will have to consider making a change if Ballmer can’t get the Windows 8 mess straightened out by the end of this year. Without the automatic revenue from the Windows cash cow, Microsoft doesn’t continue being the kind of company that can go a decade without a new hit product. If Windows 8.1 doesn’t stop the bleeding, Ballmer loses his safety net. Don’t expect the Microsoft board to give him until Windows 9 before giving his CEO tenure the blue screen of death.”

As one blogger put it: “Six million unsold Surface RT tablets? Something went wrong there. Perhaps Microsoft was a little, uh, over-confident…”

Yes, well, and this arrogance is dragging down Nokia, too. Watch this disturbing-yet-poetic Nokia photo which shows Elop getting closer to Microsoft rather than taking some distance (as a mole, he cannot go away from Ballmer). “Microsoft Is The Cancer Killing Nokia,” says one headline in the financial press, so perhaps it’s not the GPL that’s the “cancer” Steve Ballmer wants us to believe it is. Over at the Washington Post, which is usually Microsoft-friendly, this one blogger says Microsoft is “doomed” and he adds that:

Microsoft stock lost about 10 percent of its value in the wake of a quarterly earnings report on Thursday that investors deemed sub-par. Yet revenue for the second quarter was up 10 percent, to $19.9 billion. And the company’s profits were more than $6 billion, compared to a small loss in the second quarter last year.


The problem is that no technology CEO wants to admit that his firm is no longer capable of succeeding on technology’s cutting edge. Selling Windows and Office may be profitable, but it’s not as glamorous as writing the software that powers smartphones and Web apps. So just as DEC continued producing innovative but doomed products like the Alpha and Altavista in the 1990s, Steve Ballmer is likely to continue pouring money into money-losing projects like Bing, the Zune, and Surface. That’s probably not good for Microsoft’s shareholders, but it could be great for consumers.

This is actually not the full story. Accounting tricks are hiding the real financial situation of this company. Here is another new take which says “Microsoft’s stock plunge in the wake of disappointing earnings could force a compromise with shareholders pushing for a change.”

“There are already layoffs, going for almost half a decade now, mostly silently.”Microsoft booster Preston Gralla helps cover up the problems and the fact that a lot of money is accumulated by Microsoft owing to corrupt government contracts, which essentially act like a conduit of subsidies for NSA spying on Microsoft dependants.

One investor of Microsoft is saying that Windows 8 a “flop” and says that a “decade of mismanagement has put Microsoft at risk of becoming a shrinking company.”

Risk of shrinking? There are already layoffs, going for almost half a decade now, mostly silently. It started after Vista, which Microsoft never recovered from, definitely not with Vista 8. Even “Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer Admits He Made A Huge Mistake” and as AOL puts it: “Despite some good reviews, Microsoft had an extraordinarily difficult time getting the Surface off of shelves, and an overwhelming number of Surface RT tablets have been left unsold. If you break down the $900 million Microsoft lost on the Surface RT, it comes out to about 6 million unsold devices.”

“Microsoft wants to force people to use Windows because they won’t buy it.”Actually, how many of these reviews were bribed for or written by Microsoft boosters? That’s just how it usually goes. Chips B Malroy wrote in IRC: “I wonder what landfill all those unsold Kin’s went too?”

Microsoft has always failed in the hardware business and Frederic Lardinois says that “Microsoft had a pretty bad week. The software giant announced disastrous earnings, which prompted its stock to tank more than 11 percent the next day. One reason for the bad quarter was the $900 million charge it took against “Surface RT” inventory adjustments, but even without this writedown, its quarter still would have been pretty bad. If the earnings show one thing, it’s that outside of its business and enterprise offerings (which delivered relatively good results), Microsoft just doesn’t have any products right now that consumers want to buy.”

Microsoft wants to force people to use Windows because they won’t buy it. This strategy is assisted by UEFI, but with Android as de facto platform on many devices, we are going to see Windows sliding further and further into minority market share. Without Windows, Microsoft is doomed. Shareholders increasingly recognise this.

In Debating Patents, Avoiding the Excessive Focus on Patent Trolls

Posted in Patents at 6:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A matter of focus


Summary: The scapegoat of an inherently broken patent system becomes almost the only element to be criticised, leaving the biggest issues unaddressed

The point about US patent debate (or USPTO policies) being distorted cannot be stressed too strongly. It is becoming a major issue. Evidently, given the increased coverage of the wrong issues, we can’t risk repeating the point about lost focus. Not much is said about software patents and cartels these days. The corporate press and the corporations-funded government warp the debate to remove criticism of large corporations’ misuse of patent monopolies [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. Several people are starting to notice this. The problem with the Eolas patent is that it’s a software patent, not that it’s being used by a troll (see “Eolas Doesn’t Own Internet” from FOSS Force).

In his joint blog, Judge Posner writes about patent trolls, saying that a dubious “court has long played a promotional role in the patent system, having been created at a time (the early 1980s) when there were fears that the United States was being overtaken on the technological front by Japan. Those fears of course proved groundless. But the idea that American inventors needed more encouragement and therefore that the standard of patentability should be relaxed persisted. The result today is a vast number of patents in force—some 2 million—providing a rich source of inputs for the patent troll industry.”

“Not much is said about software patents and cartels these days.”Posner also opposes software patents [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], so he knows that trolls are not the only problem. The head (President) of the OSI responds to Darrel Issa, a politician who like many others in his field does not recognise the broader issue. Simon Phipps explains that it’s not just trolls when he tells Issa that “corporations are also using patent law to chill valid competition. Remember to deal with them too.”

The White House is serving big corporations by going only after trolls, and hardly even targeting entities like Intellectual Ventures (IV). The other day Steph said: “What’s frightening is how long IV sat on their stash and claimed they were just “helping innovators” and “furthering the field of science” by amassing all those patents. No one believed you, IV.”

Here are some of the latest numbers: “Intellectual Ventures (“IV”), a patent-holding company founded by the former chief technology officer of Microsoft Corporation, recently began a patent enforcement campaign against the financial services industry. IV purports to have 70,000 patents, $6 billion in committed capital, and more than $3 billion in licensing revenue to date. IV has a history of aggregating a significant number of patents relating to a particular industry and then initiating aggressive litigation and licensing efforts against companies in that industry. IV has sufficient size and substantial resources to pursue its enforcement campaign and poses a considerable economic threat to its target industries, including financial services.”

What will the White House do about it? This is a racketeering operation. Mark Bohannon, a sort of lobbyist from from Red Hat, acknowledges that trolls are an issue but does almost nothing to highlight issues relating to patent scope.

Giving its platform not to a lawyer for a change (this series is stuffed with them), Wired now features Patrick Hall, who explains how patent law harms innovation:

Patent Law Broken, Abused to Stifle Innovation


Software patents should last no longer than five years from the application date. Currently, patents last for twenty years, which is an outdated timeframe given the pace of software innovation. Patent lengths should reflect the speed of innovation within individual industries.

He does not focus only on patent trolls and his closing words are: “So long as malicious companies and opportunistic patent assertion entities can cannibalize the productivity and ingenuity of America’s tech community, advancements will stall, great ideas will crash before they ever take off, and the global community will miss out on opportunities to improve the human condition.”

Given the way CPTN members like Oracle are conspiring to kill Android using patents, it is clear that not only trolls are a problem. Copyrights too are being used. Here is the latest from Oracle. As Pamela Jones put it, “Oracle is making a big fuss over trivialities. Normally, nobody sues over this kind of trivial copying. But since Oracle has, Google says it was supposed to demonstrate why such copying was *not* de minimis, which it has failed to do. Like, who could? It’s stupidly teensy weensy stuff. Why Oracle can’t see that it’s making itself look petty and small is the only mystery.” Notice the spin there from Oracle lobbyist Florian Müller.

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