Recent News About Free Software in Education

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 7:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: New examples of sharing and freedom (data and programs) benefiting education

  • Open source events grow at the university

    Catherine Dumas is a PhD student in the College of Computing and Information (CCI) at the University at Albany at the State University of New York (SUNY). She teaches two undergraduate courses, one in the Computer Science department and one in the Informatics Department.

  • Can open middleware revolutionize education?

    “It is a miracle that curiosity escapes formal education.” These words by Albert Einstein reflect a lot about the current state of education. It also captures the need for overhauling the fabric of our school system. Society needs technology solutions that extract the best out of all the stakeholders in education—students, teachers, and parents. And we need enterprises that revolutionize the learning ecosystem. inBloom is one such company that utilizes and integrates massive amounts of data to change the landscape of the education sector.

  • How computer science teachers can better reach their students

    Imagine being a high school freshman walking down the halls of your new school on the very first day. You somehow make it to first period without becoming epically lost in the unfamiliar halls. Finally, the bell rings, signaling that you’ve officially made it through your first high school class. Taking a look at your schedule, you see your next class is Exploring Computer Science. You think: “Wow, computers! This should be fun!”

  • Trust your students with open source
  • Open source educational tools for 2014

    Last year was a big year of open source learning for me. I had the pleasure of meeting a bunch of awesome people in the open source field, attending my first OSCon, and being a Community Moderator here on Opensource.com. I learned more than I can say last year, especially in education. Here, I’ll share with you some my favorite (and super interesting) open source educational tools for teachers, students, parents, and others to use in 2014.

  • Where to start: Upgrading your school system to open source
  • Opigno aims to be a true e-learning platform
  • OpenHatch brings open source to campus
  • U Washington Deploys Kuali Open Source Student Information System

    The University of Washington (UW) has deployed Kuali Student, a student information system built on Kuali open source platform. The SIS includes modules for student academic planning as well as course and program development.

    The institution selected rSmart to lead the implementation of the new SIS. The company develops enterprise-level open source software for colleges and universities.

  • rSmart Selected by University of Washington to Implement Kuali Open Source Student Information System (SIS)
  • Open source for homeschooling or supplementing your child’s education

    I never realized how much I rely on open source and public libraries until I started homeschooling last year. When I started to write for Opensource.com, my son was in school. He’s nearly eight years old, but he’s already been in both public and private schools and in both special needs and gifted programs. I’ve thus been on both sides of the educational spectrum. As a librarian, former teacher, and homeschooling mother, I am familiar with what formal schools can offer and what homeschooling and open source resources (programs, tools, etc.) can offer.

  • Open source resources to teach the youth of America self-control

    As an educator, you don’t expect violence in school or prepare yourself for the inevitability of it. Even violence like suicide is far from your mind. Teachers are not prepared for that. Neither are they trained to handle behaviors that can lead to horrific violence: murder as well as fighting, bullying, sexual assualt and harassment, and alcohol and drug use. Despite the heartbreak of violence among youth in school, there is something educators, teachers and administrators alike can do.

  • Dumbing Down America: The Decline of Education in the US as Seen From Down Under

    My first memories of the idea that Americans actually needed education (and weren’t born winners) were scenes of armed troops blocking students from school – or escorting them, it wasn’t clear. Newsreels of Arkansas (it’s pronounced what?) Governor Orval Faubus (seriously?) hit the screens in my little town about the same time as Blackboard Jungle (which I certainly wasn’t allowed to see) and Jerry Lewis’ Delicate Delinquent, which terrified me: Why would kids fight with knives? Somebody might get hurt. Years later, when I saw James Dean in Rebel Without a Cause and black children being bused across town, my overwhelming feeling was: Why are these people so awful to each other? A good question, we’ll come back to it later after we have a look at the scene in Australia.

  • Computing in the national curriculum: A guide for primary teachers
  • Open Source For Education

    Gregg Ferrie, the Director of Information Technology for a school in British Columbia, posted a behind the scenes look at deploying open source at his school on opensource.com. Gregg describes how his school uses Ubuntu on the server and desktops, and that 90% of his school has transitioned to open source. Importantly, Gregg explains how using open source software is fostering a new generation of innovators, ready for the workforce with a real technical education.

  • Prepare students for a rapidly changing world by teaching with open source (the original)

    At the school district where I am the director of information technology, over 90% of our information systems have been transitioned to open source software. Ubuntu is the server operating systems at the district office and schools, while the Ubuntu desktop is deployed for students, teachers, and administration through the use of diskless clients.

Architects of Microsoft Financial Fraud Enter the FOSS World

Posted in Finance, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 7:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft is losing money, paying its CFOs a lot of money to shut up after they depart, and now a guy from Microsoft becomes the CFO of Puppet

A COUPLE of years ago Puppet invited me to interview their executives and even sent a signed book. The company also sent many E-mails, hoping to receive some positive coverage from us (we declined because we never do this). I personally work a lot with Puppet and I am thankful for what it does (even at no cost), so the news in [1] troubles me greatly. It basically says that the CFO will be a guy from Microsoft, the company which engaged in serious financial fraud, got caught after an insider blew the whistle, and then paid the Feds to walk away (so basically another Enron, but one that got away with it). According to this new article, “revisiting the SEC filing from late October makes it clear the company [Microsoft] also spent more than it made then.”

Well, the company is said to have lost 18 billion dollars in 1998 alone. It’s seemingly some kind of Ponzi scheme, relying on government protectionism and collusion (e.g. with the NSA, whose secret/black budget may somehow subsidised the acquisition of Skype through familiar proxies). Citing the above article, iophk said, “hence the current noise about revenue… a distraction from the losses.”

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Puppet Labs pairs open source entrepreneur with Microsoft exec

    New Puppet CFO Bill Koefoed is leaving the executive suites of the world’s largest software company, where he ran Microsoft’s investor relations department for four years before taking over in 2012 as CFO of its Skype subsidiary.

The Desperate Attempts to Discredit Android

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Google at 5:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: An overview of some very recent FUD against Android — something that has become extremely common because Android is the world’s leading platform

WE HAVE NEVER been short on Android FUD. We have covered Android FUD for as long as the platform existed, including Ballmer’s disgusting words that spread to the press as soon as Android was first announced (he called it just some words on paper, or something to that effect). Windows insecurity firm Symantec has played a role in some later FUD and it wasn’t alone. Even this weekend we found it claiming [1] — quite arrogantly — that Android is at risk. And why? Because Windows is a security joke, with or without the NSA back doors it is gladly providing. Muktware used an appropriate headline: “New malware uses Windows to infect Android devices” (hence, don’t use Windows, but Android is not to blame here). As the press continues to note in recent days, Android may increasingly replace Windows even on the desktop [2], so Windows insecurity firms must be worried.

What other FUD have we got? Well, a Bill Gates-funded publication continues to slam Google and Android [3], mysteriously never accusing Windows and Microsoft of much worse things (like tax evasion, security issues, high costs, lock-in, etc.) and it’s probably no coincidence. We are not going to feed the FUD; instead we’ll just say that this same publication often quotes and cites a Microsoft lobbyist, not noting his affiliation, in order to boost Android FUD. We gave numerous examples before and also directly challenged the authors. There is a similar flavour of FUD in another Android-hostile publication [4] and numerous other reports that make Android look bad for simply doing the right thing [5,6]. Similar FUD portrays Android as bloated [7] and not secure [8], so we find ourselves having to rely on excellent news sites like Muktware for real coverage [9] of Andorid, not bait and trolling (for hits).

Android is becoming the world’s only dominant platform, replacing Windows in the process. It makes Android an attractive target for FUD, so watch out and be sceptical of Android-hostile coverage. Gather the pertinent facts and decide whether it’s just sensationalism, hypocrisy (like blaming Android for what every other operating system is guilty of) or lobbying for antitrust/competition purposes (labelling Android distribution illegal, anti-competitive, expensive, incompetent and so on). A lot of very large companies really want Android to fail.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. New malware uses Windows to infect Android devices

    As it continues to gain popularity among consumers and developers alike, malware authors now seem to have shifted their target to Android in a not-so-common manner. According to security firm Symantec, a trojan, dubbed Trojan.Droidpak, tries to install mobile banking malware on Android devices via a Windows machine.

  2. Android’s next target could be the desktop
  3. Why Google Android software is not as free or open-source as you may think
  4. Report: Google charges Android OEMs for Play Store licenses
  5. U.S. DOJ Files Charges Against Alleged Android App Counterfeiters
  6. A Future Version Of Android Could Potentially Break A Large Number Of Root Apps, Chainfire Explains
  7. How to Slim Down a Bloated Android Device

    Determine where best to free up space. Take a look at the Pictures and Videos space used in particular. Look for the numerical value next to the descriptive label. Video and images, unlike music, often don’t need to be stored on the device and can be moved. HD video is a major memory hog. Photographs and music are other forms of media that take up a lot of space.

  8. China builds own phone OS, aims to be more secure than Android or iPhone

    US surveillance and the end of support for Windows XP played into its creation.

  9. Xperia Z Ultra now available as a Wi-Fi-only ‘tablet’

    It features the same 6.5mm-thick waterproof casing, 8-megapixel camera, Android 4.2 Jelly Bean OS, Snapdragon 800 processor clocked at 2.3GHz, 2GB of RAM and a 3000mAh battery as found on the regular Xperia Z Ultra.

Apple is Rapidly Losing the Smartphones Market, But Don’t Cheer for Samsung

Posted in Apple, Google, Patents, Samsung at 5:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Samsung is still playing with software patents and it is now turning Android devices into restrictions devices, similar to Apple’s

APPLE ‘news’ sites are trying to elude the fact that Android is a real headache to Apple. Here is gross spin from pro-Apple sites along with a report from a former Microsoft booster (who worked for a pro-Microsoft site). One pro-Apple site says that “Apple’s smartphone marketshare continues to ease downward despite record sales for the company’s latest handsets, while rival Samsung’s share of the Android ecosystem is being squeezed in key markets, according to new analysis covering the fourth quarter of 2013.”

Samsung is not Android. Pro-Apple sites are desperate for some positive angle for Apple and negative for Android.

Samsung, as we noted in 2007, began supporting Microsoft’s patent assault on Linux and was one of the first companies (for embedded devices at least) to do so. We spent years drawing attention to this problem and here we are 7 years later with Samsung as some kind of “champion” thanks to Android. Samsung — like LG — is not championing Android, it is helping Microsoft assert ‘ownership’ and hence it is endorsing extortion.

This morning we came to discover that Samsung is boosting patents again, this time with Google. To quote the Head of Samsung’s Intellectual Property Center (notice the propagandistic terms): “This agreement with Google is highly significant for the technology industry…Samsung and Google are showing the rest of the industry that there is more to gain from cooperating than engaging in unnecessary patent disputes.”

This is nonsense. We don’t need this kind of public endorsement of patents, with or without so-called “peace” (only for large patent holders, such as IBM and Microsoft, or even Apple and Microsoft).

There are also technical and practical reasons to avoid Samsung, never mind the patent policy. Samsung is hoping to conquer the Android market with lots of new devices, not just phones [1], and based on reports such as [2,3], Samsung is now doing exactly what Apple has done, making devices jails for their users and taking control over people’s devices. This is bad and one way to say “no” to this behaviour is to avoid, as a matter of principle, anything from Samsung.


  1. Samsung coming up with multiple Galaxy Tab variants in 2014

    Samsung has revealed plans to expand its smartphone and tablet portfolio in 2014. At the company’s conference, Executive Director Hyunjoon Kim announced that Samsung will first “create a new tablet category” that will be aimed at businesses with a high-end, “high-resolution,” large screen tablet around 20-inches. He added that the company will produce many variants by modifying their Galaxy Tab series.

  2. Samsung brings accessory restriction on Note 3, inspired by Apple?
  3. Note 3 users: Samsung disabled unofficial accessories via software update

    A number of users are claiming that the Galaxy Note 3 KitKat update breaks compatibility with some third-party accessories. The accessories affected are unofficial versions of Samsung’s S-View Flip Cover, a case with a window over the top half of the screen. A working S-View cover will turn the screen on and trigger a special display that shows the time and notifications through its window. In the previous update, Android 4.3, unofficial S-View covers could trigger this special display mode as well, but after the update to 4.4, the phone will only recognize Samsung-made products.

Richard Stallman on How He Started GNU

Posted in TechBytes Video at 4:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

TechBytes with Stallman

Direct download as Ogg

Summary: Dr. Richard Stallman, the Free Software Foundation’s founder, talks about the dawn of days in the GNU project

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

Privacy News: Ten States Against the NSA, Snowden Speaks About Espionage

Posted in Law at 4:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: News from the past couple of days, mostly about the NSA

State-level Actions

Edward Snowden

Radical Politicians

  • Peter King slams RNC on NSA resolution
  • Obama signs off on nomination of Rogers as NSA director

    White House spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden declined to comment, but people familiar with the matter said an announcement is expected soon.

    Rogers, a Navy cryptologist, had long been seen as the frontrunner to succeed Gen. Keith Alexander, who has been NSA director since 2005. Alexander, who will retire March 14, is the longest-serving NSA head. He is also the first commander of U.S. Cyber Command, which launched in 2009.


  • The NSA’s website for kids isn’t creepy. Nope. Not creepy at all.

    Just a friendly reminder that the NSA’s children’s website, “CryptoKids,” is an actual thing that exists.

  • Leonard Pitts: NSA’s bulk collection of metadata isn’t helpful

    If, for instance, you wanted to stop mass shootings, legislation outlawing the sale, possession or manufacture of any gun capable of firing more than one bullet without reloading might work. It would also be a terrible idea.

  • Letter: NSA tramples freedoms

    As it tries to protect us from the “bad guys,” the government has become more intrusive in our lives. Where do we draw the line? If you have nothing to hide, would it be OK for government agents to show up unannounced at your door (without cause) to search your home? Would it also be OK for agents to randomly select citizens from off the street and subject them to full body searches?

  • My NSA Nightmare Last Night

    Try to think back to the 1970s if you are old enough. Imagine if one day there had been a decree from the Nixon Administration that all citizens must within a week pay for a hand-held device that will allow government to keep track of all your movements and to monitor your telephone calls and written messages you’d be able send through the air to other devices.

    I think it would have scared the crap out of most people, and I think they’d be massive resistance to it. So 40 years later millions of people are cajoled through gradual technological advances, advertisement, government secrecy, and peer pressure to actually line up at stores to pay for the latest model of these monitoring devices.

Corporate Spying

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