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01.29.14

East Asia is Taking Over More Parts of the Computer Industry, Bringing GNU/Linux to the Top

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Samsung at 4:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The world’s biggest OEM is now supporting GNU/Linux, and the nation that it’s in does too

SOMETHING fantastic seems to be happening in the computing world. Android PCs are becoming a recognised trend [1], not one to be ridiculed, and the companies behind it are mostly OEMs from Asia. Given the low cost of some devices (especially those without x86), some people are now running proper GNU/Linux on Chromebooks [2,3] and a South Korean giant, an increasingly-Apple-like Samsung (world leader in smartphones and emerging power in other areas too), is replacing Nokia (Europe), Apple (USA), and to a lesser degree Microsoft (USA/NSA), taking Android to the top as the world’s most dominant operating system. This is great for Linux.

One blogger asks: “Could Samsung Focus Exclusively on Chromebooks?” [4]

It probably should. Dell, despite payments from Microsoft, continues to use Linux for networking [5,6] and continues to sell machines with GNU/Linux preinstalled. That says a lot because even Microsoft partners (with partial Microsoft ownership) cannot resist GNU/Linux. The “Decay Of Wintel” as Pogson called it [7] is very much real; evidence of it includes Intel layoffs and Microsoft losses.

North Korea is reportedly moving to GNU/Linux [8,9] — something which South Korea can hardly do because of Microsoft’s ActiveX (although the country is reportedly trying to move to Ubuntu). Assuming that a lot of the world’s technological leadership is moving to Asia (core parts of IBM head in this direction) the writings are very much on the wall. Samsung is even approaching total semiconductors autonomy/independence because it designs and makes its own chips now, and they improve over time.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Android PCs and other Windows-alternative desktops are for real

    For years, decades, you could put all of alternative desktops — Linux, Mac, whatever — together and Windows would still beat them by ten to one. That was then. This is now.

  2. SJVN Runs GNU/Linux on a Chromebook
  3. How to run Linux on a Chromebook

    Want to run Debian or Ubuntu on your Chromebook? With Crouton, you can do that.

  4. Could Samsung Focus Exclusively on Chromebooks?

    How focused has Samsung become on Chromebooks–portable computers that run Google’s cloud-centric Chrome OS? According to a report in DigiTimes, after cutting its targets for notebook computer sales, the company may have plans to “no longer launch conventional notebook models except Chromebooks in 2015, according to Taiwan-based supply chain makers.” While there is no official confirmation from Samsung, the move would represent a big shift for Samsung and one of the biggest votes of confidence yet for Chromebooks.

  5. Dell, Cumulus Partner on Open Source Networking OS
  6. Dell Embraces Cumulus Linux for Networking

    Dell is no stranger to Linux, having supported it on its server portfolio as well as its own networking gear. Now Dell is expanding its Linux networking effort by enabling its customers to choose Linux, specifically the Cumulus Linux distribution, as a networking operating system on a pair of Dell switches.

  7. More Decay Of Wintel Seen In 2014

    Further, Wintel cannot even compete on price/performance at the low end because M$ charges way too much for licensing and restricting the freedom of users to use the hardware they buy to fullest potential. That just won’t fly any longer. There are OEMs who want to compete selling small cheap computers of every kind and they will ship Android/Linux, Chrome OS/Linux and GNU/Linux in 2014. You can bet on that. Margins are too small in this segment to pay the Wintel tax.

  8. Even North Korea Loves Linux and Open Source

    Just how popular is enterprise open source software? Popular enough, it seems, to power web servers in locations as unlikely as North Korea. That’s where Red Hat (RHT) Enterprise Linux (RHEL), and derivatives of it, are running the few public web servers that exist in the country. Who knew?

  9. North Korea embraces Linux and Open Source

Google Heavily Taxed by Patent Troll (Not a Real Company) That Microsoft Gave Patents to

Posted in Google, Microsoft, Patents, Search at 4:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Litigation by proxy still a hot trend, where Microsoft is the supplier and parasites like Vringo are the executioners

WELL, we sure saw it coming. We have followed Vringo for years, especially after Microsoft/Nokia passed it some ammunition that hits Google where it hurts. Microsoft even paid Vringo.

We are by no means going to defend Google Search, which is horrible surveillance (so-called ‘replacements’ like Duck Duck Go are even worse in some ways), but the point worth making here is that Microsoft and its proxies continue to hassle Google. Here is Joe Mullin’s report [1] on the latest development. It’s a shame that Microsoft’s role is hardly emphasised. Our Wiki has a more complete chronology of it.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Court: Google infringed patents, must pay 1.36 percent of AdWords revenue

    Vringo is a tiny company that purchased some patents from Lycos, an old search engine, in 2011 and then used those patents to sue Google. In December 2012, Vringo won $30 million in a jury trial, but that was far less than the hundreds of millions it was seeking.

    Today, Vringo got the payout it was looking for: a 1.36 percent running royalty on US-based revenue from AdWords, Google’s flagship program. US District Judge Raymond Jackson had already ruled last week (PDF) that the AdWords program, which was tweaked by Google after the Vringo verdict, wasn’t “colorably different” from the old infringing program. He gave Google and Vringo one last session to hammer out a royalty rate, and when they couldn’t, he went ahead and set it (PDF)—at almost exactly the rate Vringo was seeking.

New Examples of Collaboration, Freedom, and Transparency at Work

Posted in News Roundup at 3:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: News items from December and January, demonstrating the power of peer production and cooperation

Sharing/Transparency/Openness

  • Welcome DIY, Open source Lux camera Project

    Another 100% Open Source camera is coming up: we really think that Open Source photography is the next big thing in open source!

  • What I learned while editing Wikipedia

    After my initial stint with Wikipedia editing, I increasingly realized that the English version of Wikipedia lacked articles on Indian writers, famous personalities, cultural artefacts, and more. The problem is multi-layered and includes poor coverage of everything relating to non-western societies as well as to women within those societies. Once, I created article on Wikipedia about an Indian, female writer named Bama. She is from the lowest caste community called Dalits in India; and while the author is a celebrated writer of stories on the subject of double oppression (which is oppession of women by people of higher castes and oppression by men within their own communities), Wikipedia almost naturally had no record of her work. Sadly, within minutes of my creation of her article it was nominated for deletion. I then quickly added more references while simultaneously starting a discussion about why it should not be deleted. At that point, another Indian editor jumped in and helped with the explaination; the next day the deletion tag was removed.

  • Hacking Open the Data Center

    Just a few years ago, the words “open source” and “hardware” were never mentioned in the same sentence. Instead, the focus was on open source software running on top of closed, proprietary hardware solutions.

    Hardware suppliers were inwardly focused on creating proprietary, “converged” infrastructure to protect their existing businesses, instead of working with the community to develop new solutions.

  • What Google can really do with Nest, or really, Nest’s data
  • Spark: Look Ma, an open source thermostat
  • Open source smart thermostats rise to compete with Nest after Google acquisition
  • Building an open source Nest
  • Out in the Open: These Hackers Want to Give You Coding Superpowers

    Built alongside friend and colleague Robert Attorri, his creation is called Light Table, and he believes it can not only improve programming for seasoned engineers like himself, but put the power of coding into the hands of so many others. “We consider programming a modern-day superpower. You can create something out of nothing, cure cancer, build billion-dollar companies,” he says. “We’re looking at how we can give that super power to everyone else.”

  • Five ways to bring a more social, open development environment to your company
  • Four tech terms to forget in ’14

    1) “Open”: Early on, most commonly thought of as short form for “open source” (code all can use, tinker with and contribute to), “open” has opened up a Pandora’s Box of multiple and sometimes contradictory implied meanings: “open standard” (technical standards anyone can apply); “open access” (for participation in online activities); “open content” (digital content that can be reused, remixed and shared); and “open data” (publicly released data, generally governmental or research).

  • The Power of the Commons-based Crowdfunding: Goteo 2013 in Review

    Goteo is a crowdfunding platform for the commons. Founded in Spain in 2011 with an explicit mission to promote and support p2p values of openess, collaboration and sharing, Goteo’s innovation in crowdfunding has seen them go from strength to strength. Their 2013 year end report is an inspiring testament to the power of the crowd. We highly recommend reading the article and encourage you to consider Goteo for your next p2p and commons inspired projects.

  • Using OpenStreetMap to respond to disasters before they happen
  • Release early, release often in scientific research
  • How the network industry should view and understand “open”
  • Solving local problems through citizen participation

    The winners in the domestic challenge covered a broad range of issues Sunlight cares about, including public procurement, public sector innovation and the use of data to improve public administration. If last year’s challenge was any indication, this year’s European-focused competition will likely demonstrate that cities around the world are turning towards new technology and open data to improve the lives of city residents.

  • Steering science back to its roots of reproducibility (a TEDx talk)
  • The open source solution to the bee colony collapse problem

    Last year, a third of honeybee colonies in the United States quite literally vanished. Commercial honey operations, previously abuzz with many thousands of bees, fell suddenly silent, leaving scientists and beekeepers alike scratching their heads. The reasons remain mostly a mystery for what is called Colony Collapse Disorder—a disturbing development of the drying up of beehives throughout the industrialised world.

  • Honey Badger Hedge Fund: Hackers Predict Stock Market With Open Source Mojo

    Most of the Honey Badger platform is written in Python, an open source programming language popular with mathematicians and web programmers. And the team stores and processes its data with a combination of Hadoop — an open source clone of Google’s big data crunching system — and the tried and true open source database MySQL. The team pays Amazon and Microsoft Azure a few thousand dollars a month for cloud hosting — a bargain compared to what they would have had to pay upfront for supercomputers ten years ago.

  • The Open-Sorcerers

    Open-source magic is not about slapping magical secrets up on YouTube; there are more than enough eager teenagers and fun-ruiners willing to do that. Instead, it takes a lesson from the open-source technology activists who believe that better innovation comes through collaboration.

  • Open Source Civilization – A Moonshot Project

    The Open Source Ecology project is designed to develop plans and methods to build these fifty machines, and do it as one collaborative effort. In his TED Talk he confessed that after completing a PhD in Fusion Energy he felt useless. There was no practical knowledge to be used in the world to implement change.

  • Open-Source Schematic Lets Users Build A Functioning Paper Speaker [Pics]
  • Taking ‘A Total Disruption’ Open Source

    Sundance winning documentarian Ondi Timoner isn’t in the habit of doing things in half-measures. Her latest endeavor, the web series “A Total Disruption,” features some of the biggest names in Silicon Valley. The project is in a sense a quest to profile the entrepreneurial spirit of the age.

    As such, the project hasn’t been limited to the tech sector. Timoner has turned her lens on creative luminaries like Shepard Fairey and Amanda Palmer. Those two are headlining a benefit soirée for the next phase of “A Total Disruption,” that will also feature Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian and YouTuber Jhameel, this Sunday in Los Angeles.

  • The open source solution to the bee colony collapse problem
  • The first supercapacitor-powered portable speakers are open source

    Sam Beck is the guy behind Blueshift, an open source sustainable eletronics business that is all about building cool stuff. Helium speakers are the company’s first product to market and will be the world’s the first supercapacitor-powered portable speakers. Not to mention the design files are open source.

  • Paperhouses Offers Open Source Blueprints of Contemporary Architecture
  • Neurodreamer: open source sleeping mask/mind machine
  • Souliss Open Source Home Automation Framework Now Supports Plug And Play
  • Paperhouses: Architecture in Open Source

    But what if architecture could make life better for the many. What if good-quality, life-bettering architecture were open-source and available to download off the internet? For free?

Open Data

  • What GitHub is doing for women developers, Tim O’Reilly speaks on open data, and more
  • Tim O’Reilly on open data: Cheap may be open enough
  • Open Data Empowers Us to Answer Questions that Matter
  • MIT Offers For-Profit Online Course on Big Data, with Certification

    EdX, the non-profit online learning organization with a huge roster of global institutions under the xConsortium participating, has been a leader in the free online education arena for several years. In June of last year, the organization released the code for its learning platform under an open source license. And, MIT has been leveraging the platform to deliver free online courses, as we covered here. Now, MIT has announced that it will start offering for-profit courses on edX, beginning with a course on Big Data. Because of the salaries that people with Big Data skills are commanding in the job market, the course could be a good opportunity for job seekers.

  • Credit for code: enough with the half-measures already

    Few things are more frustrating, or more likely to result in irreproducibility and error, than trying to reconstruct a computational analysis based on a prosaic description of an algorithm in a research article. Yet this is a very typical part of the working day in my field (bioinformatics) and I imagine, in many others.

  • Open data should be for justice

    Being unprepared for the conversation, our 45 minutes together wandered through introductions and eventually focused on a conversation about how public data could be used to advocate for employment opportunities for communities of color around municipal development sites. My perspective was that we could use public data to document the ways that these employment opportunities often are not given to members of the community adjacent to or containing the development site. While we didn’t get very far on this topic, many participating (myself included) seemed interested in exploring it further.

Elsevier Against Open Access

We last covered this a month and a half ago. Here’s later coverage:

  • Elsevier steps up its War On Access

    I thought Elsevier was already doing all it could to alienate the authors who freely donate their work to shore up the corporation’s obscene profits. The thousands of takedown notices sent to Academia.edu represent at best a grotesque PR mis-step, an idiot manoeuvre that I thought Elsevier would immediately regret and certainly avoid repeating.

  • Elsevier Ramps Up Its War On Access To Knowledge

    We just recently wrote about the terrible anti-science/anti-knowledge/anti-learning decision by publishing giant Elsevier to demand that Academia.edu take down copies of journal articles that were submitted directly by the authors, as Elsevier wished to lock all that knowledge (much of it taxpayer funded) in its ridiculously expensive journals. Mike Taylor now alerts us that Elsevier is actually going even further in its war on access to knowledge. Some might argue that Elsevier was okay in going after a “central repository” like Academia.edu, but at least it wasn’t going directly after academics who were posting pdfs of their own research on their own websites. While some more enlightened publishers explicitly allow this, many (including Elsevier) technically do not allow it, but have always looked the other way when authors post their own papers.

  • Elsevier’s David Tempest explains subscription-contract confidentiality clauses

    As we all know, University libraries have to pay expensive subscription fees to scholarly publishers such as Elsevier, Springer, Wiley and Informa, so that their researchers can read articles written by their colleagues and donated to those publishers. Controversially (and maybe illegally), when negotiating contracts with libraries, publishers often insist on confidentiality clauses — so that librarians are not allowed to disclose how much they are paying. The result is an opaque market with no downward pressure on prices, hence the current outrageously high prices, which are rising much more quickly than inflation even as publishers’ costs shrink due to the transition to electronic publishing.

  • How one publisher is stopping academics from sharing their research

    One of the world’s largest academic publishers has launched a wide-ranging takedown spree, demanding that several different universities take down their own scholars’ research.

Open Hardware

  • Got questions on open hardware? Just ask an engineer.

    One of my favorite quotes is “We are what we celebrate.” Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST Robotics, says this and it comes up on an almost daily basis one way or another in my work in open source hardware and education. One of the challenges of getting more young people into engineering and computer programming is that we’re collectively competing with the high profile status that becoming a famous, professional athlete or musician, or reality show star, promises. I don’t expect the mass media to change, because change happens from small groups of motivated people. And, this is where the maker, hacker, and open source software and hardware communities are making great progress.

  • RS adds mechanical design export to open-source PCB tool
  • Make sure your computer hardware is NSA-free with these transparent building plans.

    With growing concern about government agencies such as the NSA, open-source software has stepped into the spotlight as a way to ensure complete transparency. While this has so far only applied to software, there could soon be a way for you to take complete control of your hardware as well, all thanks to Project Novena.

  • 2014: The Year of Free Hardware

    Usually, I avoid making predictions. However, increasingly, I believe that the sleeper trend of 2014 will be free-licensed hardware — and that its availability could transform free and open source software (FOSS) as well as hardware manufacturing.

    As 2013 closes, the trend is already well-advanced. Ubuntu Edge’s crowdfunding might have failed, but Ubuntu Touch is supposed to have a still-unnamed vendor, while the first Firefox OS phone was released in July, and Jolla released its first phone based on Sailfish OS.

  • A review of the Printrbot 3D printer
  • 3D printing could herald the Age of Open Source Stuff

    3D printing is set to disrupt multiple industries thanks to its unique position at the intersection of three important trends in technology: the Internet of Things, our growing desire to personalize our things, and the coming revolution in the way things get delivered to us.

UK Government Seems to Be Serious About Moving to Free Software and OpenDocument Format This Time Around

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Office Suites, OpenDocument, OpenOffice at 3:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: British politicians finally decide that by throwing away Microsoft spyware (in favour of FOSS and ‘cloud’ spyware like Google Docs) savings can be passed to the British public

AS ONE who works with the British public sector, I have heard some truly disturbing stories about FOSS projects being derailed by outside intervention (Microsoft partners, lobbyists, etc.) and seen some for myself. This is not a gentlemen’s club; it’s a fierce, manipulative race for domination. Those who are enjoying overpriced contracts with the government would never let go.

Earlier today there was this report in the British press [1] about something that requires looking at the date stamp. The headline says “UK government plans switch from Microsoft Office to open source” and it seems like a blast from the past. On many occasions before the government said it would transition to FOSS and ODF (on which there were workshops), but it hardly ever happened. Is this time different from the previous times? Let’s wait and see. Microsoft sure is lobbying and probably setting up “task forces” or “response teams” (Microsoft’s terminology) with the sole goal is derailing this policy by all means necessary (ousting those involved has been a common strategy).

Meanwhile, suggests this piece of news from Belgium [2], the “Dutch city of Ede spends 92 percent less (!) than its peers on software licenses” and owing to FOSS use a “Dutch town lowers IT cost 24% vs peers” [3]. Fantastic, but it’s consistent with what Dutch researchers showed more than half a decade ago (Microsoft partners demonised them and criticised/ridiculed their reports). In other news from the same source [4,5], “Finnish schools using open source reap savings” (no surprise here either). Remember what BECTA did in the UK? As we’ve argued many times over the years, the UK is likely to be the last country in Europe to migrate to FOSS, but it would be pleasing to be proven wrong.
Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. UK government plans switch from Microsoft Office to open source

    Ministers are looking at saving tens of millions of pounds a year by abandoning expensive software produced by firms such as Microsoft.

    Some £200m has been spent by the public sector on the computer giant’s Office suite alone since 2010.

    But the Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude believes a significant proportion of that outlay could be cut by switching to software which can produce open-source files in the “open document format” (ODF), such as OpenOffice and Google Docs.

  2. Dutch city of Ede spends 92 percent less (!) than its peers on software licenses

    The city of Ede, the Netherlands, currently has an annual total ICT budget of six million euros. According to the Dutch Berenschot benchmark for municipal ICT costs, that is 24 percent less than other municipalities of comparable size are spending. Drilling down shows that most of this reduction can be explained by Ede’s extremely low spend on software licenses: only 56 euros per full-time equivalent employee (FTE) instead of 731 euros. That’s a very impressive 92 percent less than average. Such a large reduction was achieved by moving from proprietary to open source software.

  3. OSS use Dutch town lowers IT cost 24% vs peers

    Public administrations that switch to free and open source software can expect a large reduction of their ICT costs, a study published on Joinup shows. The annual ICT costs for the Dutch municipality of Ede are now 24% lower than its peers. “Most of this reduction can be explained by Ede’s extremely low spend on software licenses: only 56 euros per full-time equivalent employee instead of 731 euros. Such a large reduction was achieved by moving from proprietary to open source software.”

  4. Finnish schools using open source reap savings

    Municipalities in Finland that have switched their schools to Linux and other open source solutions are saving millions of euro, says Jouni Lintu, CIO of Opinsys. “Typically, our centrally managed open source computers are at least 40 percent cheaper than the proprietary alternative. The total savings could be 10 million.”

  5. Finnish Schools Save Big With FLOSS

    I’ve seen it repeatedly. New systems cost half as much and migrating old systems costs a fraction of that. The saving in money is important but so is the saving in time. In a typical school the effort could drop from many hours per week to minutes.

British Government is Cracking Down on Climate Activism, Japan is Nuked, Germany Turns to Renewable Energy

Posted in Europe at 3:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Oppression against those who want a clean world and more news about energy and climate (which have a strong correlation between them)

THE LARGE BRITISH companies (or their CEO) must be glad to know that the police is on their side [1], including privatised, Bill Gates-funded police/thugs like G4S. There are more and more of their vans around here, increasing in presence over time (I went past one today) and decreasing in accountability (privatised police can get away with almost everything). 5 miles from where I live women are being arrested for protesting against fracking. Today I heard a lot of nasty details from one who is involved, too. Why is the British government so eager to help fracking companies that inject toxins into our water? Who’s the real villain here?

It could be worse though; look at what happens in Japan [2-4] (where reporting is suppressed and cruelty to life is “normal” [5]). With radical climatic changes [6,7] we should be better aware of the harms of combustion-based fuels [8], then move to alternative, greener forms of energy (new example from Germany [9]). Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Austria-born steroid-taking politician, is turning into a climate activist [10], so let’s hope that his endeavours are more successful than his political career. Given the spread of climate change denial, we really do need some “superheroes” if change is to occur. It’s depressing to see the criminalisation and infiltration into environmental groups, not just in the UK.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Emails reveal UK helped shale gas industry manage fracking opposition

    Government officials accused of cheerleading for fracking by sharing ‘lines to take’ and meeting for post-dinner drinks

  2. TV: “Many young people in Fukushima who are in high school have died suddenly”; Officials “ignore all the problems” — Former Mayor: People are always told “any disease they have is not caused by radiation” (VIDEO)
  3. Japan TV: It gets worse every minute at Fukushima plant, groundwater mixing with melted fuel — Gundersen: There’s no end in sight because the nuclear core is in contact with groundwater (VIDEO)

  4. Bloomberg: ‘Highly radioactive’ leak at Fukushima Unit 3 — NHK: Melted fuel coolant thought to be flowing from containment vessel for ‘unknown reason’ — 24 Million Bq/liter of strontium, other beta emitters (VIDEO)
  5. 200 Bottlenose Dolphins Held a Fourth Night in Cove; 11 More Dolphins Taken Captive Yesterday

    As we have witnessed the torture endured by 250+ dolphins in a cove in Taiji, Japan the past four days, as their families have been torn apart, and as our Cove Guardians continue to witness and show the world what is happening, we would like to share a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., who was a pioneer of human as well as animal rights, on the anniversary of his birthday:

  6. A Norwegian Bay Was So Cold That Thousands Of Fish Were Flash-Frozen
  7. The Great Lakes Go Dry: How One-Fifth Of The World’s Fresh Water Is Dwindling Away

    The frozen opalescent lake and thin, gray sky fade together into white light where the horizon should be. Tall, skeletal grasses shiver on the beach in a wind that makes any sliver of exposed skin burn. The Arni J. Richter, an icebreaking ferry, is about to pull away from Northport Pier for its second and final trip of the day to Washington Island. It’s loaded with food and fuel for the more than 700 hardy residents who call the remote island, just north of Door County peninsula in Wisconsin, home.

  8. It’s time to stop investing in the fossil fuel industry

    Earlier this month, the trustees of the city graveyard in Santa Monica, California (final resting place of actor Glenn Ford and tennis star May Sutton) announced they were selling their million dollars worth of stock in fossil fuel companies. As far as I know they were the first cemetery board to do so, but they join a gathering wave of universities, churches and synagogues, city governments and pension funds.

  9. Over Half of Germany’s Renewable Energy Owned By Citizens & Farmers, Not Utility Companies

    Germany’s promotion of renewable energy rightly gets singled out for its effectiveness, most often by me as an example of how to do things well versus the fits and starts method of promotion common in the US. Over at Wind-Works, Paul Gipe points out another interesting facet of the German renewable energy saga: 51% of all renewable energy in Germany is owned by individual citizens or farms, totaling $100 billion worth of private investment in clean energy.

  10. Arnold Schwarzenegger has a new role: Activist

    Arnold Schwarzenegger is tackling his newest role: Climate change activist.

Copyright Law Still All About Protectionism, Needs Revision

Posted in Intellectual Monopoly at 3:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: News about the negative impact of copyright on the Web

THE WAR on sharing benefits a great deal from the death of net neutrality, which apparently now permits ISPs to throttle particular protocols [1] (based on stigmas), even here in Europe. The copyright law may soon change in the European Union (with input from people [2] and progressive parties [3]), but for the time being we see even “progressive” or “liberal” countries such as Sweden acting like [4] the US [5] when it comes to copyright. It’s irrational zeal. As Muktware illustrated some days ago [6], other business models need to be adopted because Moby, a five-time Grammy Award nominee, is now moving to a Creative Commons-like model (free sharing as a core principle). The real problem with today’s enforcement of copyright law is that it is trying to protect a dying business model, not to create new business opportunities. It’s all about protectionism.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Is Your ISP Messing With BitTorrent Traffic? Find Out

    For more than a decade Internet providers have slowed down BitTorrent transfers for traffic management purposes. Today we look at fresh data from the Google-backed Measurement Lab, which provides new insight into the BitTorrent throttling practices of ISPs all over the world. The data show that many ISPs still interfere with file-sharing traffic, but to varying degrees.

  2. A Rare Invitation To Help Shape European Copyright Law

    Back in May last year, we wrote about how the European Commission’s “Licences for Europe” initiative had turned into a fiasco, with public interest groups and open access supporters pulling out in protest at the way it was being conducted. The central problem was the Commission’s attempt to force everything into the straitjacket of copyright licensing, refusing to allow alternative approaches to be discussed.

  3. You Can Make A Difference in May

    As you will be aware, this year is a big one for the party – we have the European Parliamentary elections coming up this May. The European parliament is vital to many of the issues we care about – from mass surveillance, copyright reform, international cooperation, to transparent trade agreements.

  4. Swedish Public Television Claims Copyright Publication Rights To Everybody’s Sports Photos If Posted On Twitter

    Well, this is a new one. Swedish Public Television just posted legal terms and condition as to what they are allowed to do when others are posting sports photos from the Winter Games in Sotji on Twitter. In terms of the worst copyright monopoly bullshit I’ve seen, this ranks pretty high.

  5. MPAA & ICE Confirm They Interrogated A Guy For Wearing Google Glass During A Movie

    We wrote earlier about the guy who told the story of being pulled out of a theater in the middle of a movie for wearing Google Glass (turned off), which he wears all the time, because he got prescription lenses installed on the device and uses it as his regular pair of glasses. As we noted, there were some oddities in the original story, including references to the FBI and “The Movie Association,” neither of which made sense.

  6. Moby tries creative commons like model

    There is no rocket science to the fact that it is tough for most musicians to make a living based solely on album sales and streaming revenues. In fact the major amount of money that these artists make comes through touring and merchandise. But Moby, a five-time Grammy Award nominee, has a slightly different approach towards making and distributing music.

Head of GCHQ Eliminated, But the Hydra Remains Alive and Harms Lives

Posted in Law at 2:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The Open Rights Group and others are challenging the gross practice of surveillance (pre-requisite of censorship, espionage, torture, and assassination) for political ends

Britain’s Open Rights Group (ORG) may soon provide evidence against the GCHQ, whose head is said to have just been metaphorically chopped off (breaking news). For the uninitiated, GCHQ plays a role in assassination by drones — a highly-controversial practice which the NSA is a major player in (with the CIA doing the execution). This breeds a lot of hatred/contempt towards the US and Britain all around the world. Charges were recently pressed by British victims or their relatives, but the UK government tends to dismiss those (cover-up). A government that’s “just” by virtue of being a government and a police force that’s “lawful” by virtue of upholding subjective laws are both symptoms of tyranny. GCHQ also plays a role in selecting people to be tortured, even in the UK (although in secrecy, with secret courts, as that helps hide something that’s inherently illegal).

We live in an awkward world right now. It seems acceptable for the government to attack Web sites/computers of activists, whereas if activists attack sites of wealthy people who harm society they go to prison for a very long time [2].

In Europe, as it turns out [3], torture by the CIA is indeed happening and the US Department of ‘Justice’ is actively trying to hide illegalities relating to this [4]. How can these governments expect people to obey the law when these governments themselves grossly violate the law? John Kiriakou, the man who blew the whistle on illegal torture by the CIA, is still in prison, whereas those who promote and engage in illegal torture are free [5]. People who support Kiriakou’s positions are now being characterised as “dangerous” [6]. Amazing! This is freedom of speech?

Speaking of dangerous, as “Obama’s drone war hits its fifth year” [7] we now see that the CIA wants to continue to occupy a country just so that it can continue to assassinate people in a neighbouring country [8-11], especially using drones. This is aggressive imperialism, not even colonialism. Fortunately, however, reformed people (some of whom left high positions in the US Army) protest against drone strikes [12] because the strategy is counter-productive [13] and it leads to serious ethical issues [14] (automating an assassination). After the latest assassination by drone [15] the Russian propaganda press asks: “Can other countries bomb USA like it bombs Somalia and many others?”

Of course not, but it’s called American exceptionalism and we in Britain should play no role in it. GCHQ should distance itself from the NSA (which ironically funded GCHQ at the expense of US taxpayers through black budget). We need to restore Britain’s reputation as valuing human life and human rights. Anything else would be counter-productive because the UK has become somewhat of a laughing stock in Russian media (Britain has historically bashed the Soviet system, claiming oppression and poor record on human rights).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Open Rights Group and impact litigation

    I’m writing this blog today ORG has an unprecedented opportunity to make a difference to the world’s digital future — a chance to argue before the European Court of Human Rights in coalition with Big Brother Watch and English PEN, in a crucial case over GCHQ’s lawless program of indiscriminate, total Internet surveillance.

  2. Wisconsin man sentenced for participating in Anonymous DDoS

    A man from Wisconsin was sentenced for participating in a DDoS (distributed denial-of-service) attack by hacker group Anonymous on a Kansas company.

    Eric J. Rosol, 38, is said to have admitted that on Feb. 28, 2011, he took part in a denial of service attack for about a minute on a Web page of Koch Industries — Kochind.com, using software called a Low Orbit Ion Cannon Code, which was loaded on his computer.

  3. On CIA Prisons, Poland Sold Out for ‘Pathetically Little’ (Gazeta Wyborcza, Poland)

    Roman Imielski defends the implied consent of Polish authorities on CIA prisons. Well, I understand: the war on terrorism, the support of an ally, and joint operations in Iraq. Also: patriotism, national security, and the defense of democratic freedoms. But why did our U.S. ally sucker punch us on this occasion?

  4. DOJ challenges journalist’s claim to CIA interrogation report

    The US Department of Justice (DOJ) has moved to dismiss a case arising from investigative journalist Jason Leopold efforts to obtain documents from a congressional oversight report of the US Central Intelligence Agency’s (CIA) detention and interrogation program.

    At the heart of the case is a report by the US Senate Select Committee on Intelligence (SSCI) into the CIA’s former detention and interrogation program.

  5. Bureau of Prisons Considers CIA Whistleblower John Kiriakou’s ‘Letters from Loretto’ on Firedoglake to Be Dangerous
  6. CIA whistleblower Kiriakou’s letters from prison on Firedoglake blog “dangerous,” says Bureau of Prisons

    Kevin Gosztola at Firedoglake: “The Bureau of Prisons, with a little assistance from the Central Intelligence Agency, have been engaging in a ham-handed attempt to stop former CIA officer John Kiriakou from sending letters from prison, according to a recent letter from prison.”

  7. Obama’s drone war hits its fifth year
  8. Our quagmire in Afghanistan

    All through the movie I kept asking myself, “Why?” What are these men fighting for? Once, I knew the answer. After Sept 11, 2001, I wanted to wipe out al-Qaida and kill its Afghan hosts, the Taliban. Even before the terrorist attack, reports of the Taliban’s treatment of women — stonings, public executions in the soccer stadium, etc. — and the beheadings of men convinced me they simply had it coming: Send in the Marines.

    But American fighting units have been there since 2001. The initial mission was completed long ago: the destruction of al-Qaida in Afghanistan. The Taliban and their allies remain, but unlike al-Qaida, they are indigenous and, seemingly, undeterred. They apparently have an unlimited supply of suicide bombers (who are these people?), and they continue to inflict mayhem on Afghans and foreigners alike. Earlier this month, the Taliban struck a Kabul restaurant with a Western clientele and killed at least 21 people. The attack by gunmen was preceded by a suicide bombing.

  9. Afghan exit seen as peril to CIA’s drone mission
  10. US exit from Afghanistan concerns CIA

    American intelligence agencies are concerned about Afghan President Hamid Karzai’s decision to not sign a controversial security deal with the United States, Press TV reported referring to a report.

  11. Peace activist raises awareness of drones

    A peace activist and retired Navy commander told a Salem group Sunday that America’s secretive combat drone program is illegally killing innocent people, mentally torturing survivors and is negatively changing the way people live.

    Leah Bolger, of Corvallis, gave her speech at the monthly Salem Fellowship of Reconciliation meeting. She visited an area of Pakistan she said experiences frequent drone strikes and spoke with victims and survivors.

  12. Drone strikes have crashed weddings, schools, funerals and rescuers. When will it end?

    Nabila’s drawings are like any other nine-year-old’s. A house rests besides a winding path, a winding path on which wander two stick figures. Tall trees, rising against the back drop of majestic hills. Clouds sprinkled over a clear sky.

    Nabila’s drawings are like any other nine-year-old’s. With one disturbing exception.

  13. Should a robot decide when to kill?

    By the time the sun rose on Friday, December 19th, the Homestead Miami race track had been taken over by robots. Some hung from racks, their humanoid feet dangling above the ground as roboticists wheeled them out of garages. One robot resembled a gorilla, while another looked like a spider; yet another could have been mistaken for a designer coffee table. Teams of engineers from MIT, Google, Lockheed Martin, and other institutions and companies replaced parts, ran last-minute tests, and ate junk food. Spare heads and arms were everywhere.

  14. US missile strike kills senior al-Shabaab leader in Somalia

    Official spokesman for the Somali federal government Ridwan Haji Abdiwali said Somali National Security Minister Abdikarim Hussein Guled confirmed the death of senior al-Shabaab leader Ahmed Mohamed Amey, who is believed to be the same al-Shabaab commander named in local news reports as Ahmed Abdulkadir Abdullahi, also known as “Iskudhuq”.

  15. Can other countries bomb USA like it bombs Somalia and many others?

    The missile attack of U.S. drones on Somalia that came out of the blue over the weekend showed that U.S. ” doctrine of exceptionalism” allows to violate international law, bomb foreign territories and kill suspects without trial. Accordingly, other countries have a right to bomb the U.S., haven’t they?

The Latest FOSS FUD Revolves Around Fakes and Bogus Arguments

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Security at 2:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: How Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) gets discredited over “security”, based on something which has nothing to do with FOSS and more to with human error or social engineering

THE reports from IDG make it sound as though FileZilla is a security threat [1,2] when it fact it is fakes that are a threat, as Sean pointed out to counter these allegations [3].

Yesterday we took note of the trend and two days ago we gave some examples of security-flavoured FUD against Android, of which there is plenty these days (and even today). Some of it is correctly being characterised as platform-agnostic [4]. This sometimes requires user intervention [5] or social engineering [6], so there’s a lot more to be taken into account. When the OpenSSL project got compromised some weeks ago it was actually the fault of a weak password [7,8], but some of the media spread FUD about OpenSSL itself. Weak passwords are a common human error [9] and those who don’t encrypt E-mails that contain passwords (they should!) only have themselves to blame [10,11]. To get an example of real vulnerability, consider Apple’s Safari storing passwords in plain text [12]!!! GNU/Linux, by contrast, facilitates strong encryption and has protection against all sorts of attacks [13-14].

Blaming FOSS for issues that relate to social engineering is a common FUD pattern these days (like blaming Android for users installing malware they download outside repositories), but the real security issues are back doors like Microsoft’s, security flukes like Apple’s, and data leakage through so-called ‘clouds’ (which are typically promoted by proprietary software players, tightly connected to the crack-leaning NSA).

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. FileZilla warns of large malware campaign
  2. FileZilla warns of large malware campaign
  3. FileZilla, Other Open-Source Software From ‘Right’ Sources Is Safe

    A basic tenant of open-source software security has long been the idea that since the code is open, anyone can look inside to see if there is something that shouldn’t be there.

  4. Java-based malware driving DDoS botnet infects Windows, Mac, Linux devices

    The cross-platform HEUR:Backdoor.Java.Agent.a, as reported in a blog post published Tuesday by Kaspersky Lab, takes hold of computers by exploiting CVE-2013-2465, a critical Java vulnerability that Oracle patched in June. The security bug is present on Java 7 u21 and earlier. Once the bot has infected a computer, it copies itself to the autostart directory of its respective platform to ensure it runs whenever the machine is turned on. Compromised computers then report to an Internet relay chat channel that acts as a command and control server.

  5. Yahoo users exposed to malware attack

    Users clicking on some ads are redirected to sites armed with code that exploits vulnerabilities in Java and installs a variety of different malware.

  6. Password Security Requires Multiple Layers of Protection

    The gist of the story is that “123456″ is now the most commonly used weak password—surpassing the use of the word “password.”

  7. No hypervisor vulnerability exploited in OpenSSL site breach

    The OpenSSL Project confirmed that weak passwords used on the hosting infrastructure led to the compromise of its website, dispelling concerns…

  8. OpenSSL site defacement involving hypervisor hack rattles nerves (updated)

    Code repositories remained untouched in the December 29 hack, and the only outward sign of a breach was a defacement left on the OpenSSL.org home page. The compromise is nonetheless rattling some nerves. In a brief advisory last updated on New Year’s Day, officials said “the attack was made via hypervisor through the hosting provider and not via any vulnerability in the OS configuration.” The lack of additional details raised the question of whether the same weakness may have been exploited to target other sites that use the same service. After all, saying a compromise was achieved through a hypervisor vulnerability in the Web host of one of the Internet’s most important sites isn’t necessarily comforting news if the service or hypervisor platform is widely used by others.

  9. 7 sneak attacks used by today’s most devious hackers
  10. 10,000 Top Passwords

    Back when I wrote Perfect Passwords, I generated a list of the top 500 worst (aka most common) passwords which seems to have propagated quite a bit across the internet, including being mentioned on Gizomodo, Boing Boing, Symantec, Laughing Squid and many other sites. Since then I have collected a large number of new passwords bringing my current list to about 6,000,000 unique username/password combos, including many of those that have been recently made public*.

  11. All Your Internet Are Belong To Iceland*

    All that being said, and given that the Luddite solution of forsaking the Internet may not be terribly practical, this is another reason to encrypt technical data that you are sending by email even if the recipient is a U.S. person firmly planted on U.S. soil. No, the encryption isn’t a defense to the violation, but it is at least a mitigating factor. Remember, as I posted last May, that the U.S. military thinks it can put ITAR-controlled technical data on a Chinese satellite if it’s encrypted; so if you don’t have anything else to say in your defense when an email with export controlled data accidentally wanders through Lithuania, you will at least have that. And maybe one day in the distant future, BIS and DDTC will admit that the Internet exists and that encryption works.

  12. Older Versions of Safari Store Login Info in Plain Text

    Older versions of Safari for Mac store unencrypted user login credentials in a plain text file, according to security firm Kaspersky (via ZDNet). Safari saves the information in order to restore a previous browsing session, reopening all sites, even those that require authentication using the browser’s “Reopen All Windows from Last Session” functionality.

  13. Quantum crypto pitches for data centre links
  14. Linux Is the Only Way to Protect Against Potential Sound-Transmitted Malware

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