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Links 22/4/2014: More GNU/Linux Gains, Syria Updates

Posted in News Roundup at 11:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Telerik Open Sources Mobile App UI Software Code

    The offering makes the source code of 38 UI widgets in the Kendo UI Core publicly available for use by both commercial and non-commercial developers. In addition, developers have access to related tools for mobile app development, such as templates and input validation. The resources are available from both Telerik’s website and a GitHub repository.

  • Why an open source community beats access to tech support

    I’ve been using Drupal, an open source content management system (CMS), for the websites I manage for over four years now. Though there may be some quirks in working with an open source product, I cannot imagine doing it any other way.

  • 7 skills to land your open source dream job

    “Work on stuff that matters” is a famous call to action from founder and CEO of O’Reilly Media, Tim O’Reilly. But, how about working on stuff that matters while getting paid for it? There are an abundance of open source-related jobs out there if you’ve got the right skills.

    Mark Atwood, Director of Open Source Engagement at HP gave a talk on How to Get One of These Awesome Open Source Jobs at the Great Wide Open conference in Atlanta, Georgia this year (April 2 – 3). His talk was originally targeted to students, but he later removed the “Advice for Students” part because the seven tips below really apply to anyone looking to score their open source dream job.

  • Events

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Apache OpenOffice hits 100-million download milestone

      “Apache OpenOffice has been downloaded 100 million times,” reads an announcement by The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) which oversees more than 170 Open Source projects and initiatives. ASF, a non-profit corporation, provides organizational, legal, and financial support for a broad range of over 170 open source software projects. Apache projects deliver enterprise-grade, freely available software products that attract large communities of users. The pragmatic Apache License makes it easy for all users, commercial and individual, to deploy Apache products.

    • Rebuilt LibreOffice 4.2.3 packages fix KDE-related bug
  • Education

  • Funding

    • Google Is Financing A Lot Of Great Open-Source Work This Summer

      Google just announced their list of accepted student projects for this year’s Google Summer of Code. After going through all of the projects on the list for the different upstream open-source projects involved, there’s a ton of improvements to be worked on by students this summer and financed by Google. This is perhaps the most exciting Google Summer of Code ever.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Munich praises open source development community

      The German city of Munich is complimenting the free and open source software development community for providing fast and easy assistance. On the blog of the city’s IT department, Peter Onderscheka, business unit manager for IT stategy and IT security, writes how the developers’ quick responses helped the city implement new services. Examples include sending alerts about new job openings, a solution based on Phplist, and an online order form for coupons, using Pdfsam.

      “Users of open source products can easily get in touch with the developers, pose questions, propose features and even help fix bugs”, Onderscheka writes. “The developers usually respond immediately.”

      “These informal and direct contacts provide straightforward and free access to the core developers of open source software”, he adds.

      Onderscheka thanks two developers in particular, Michiel Dethmers, from the Netherlands, who is involved in the Phplist project, and Italian Andrea Vacondio, helping the the city tweak Pdfsam.

      Choosing the Phplist newsletter solution allowed Munich to rely on the feedback from the community “which answered in detail our questions about security.”

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • Programming is fun – the free software column

      Computer programming is an art and is essential to the way we live. Computing provides the bricks and mortar of our lives, it’s an important component in the way our world is built and shouldn’t be tucked away under sufferance in a dry and dusty science classroom as an adjunct to something else. Programming is fun and practical and useful, and makes things happen. Just by grasping a few concepts, anyone can be a programmer and turn a game on its head, make something work – and this is a world that the Raspberry Pi was made for, a tool such as Meccano and Lego that is useful and fun for both teachers and pupils alike, and is as simple or as complicated as you want it to be.

    • Open Source Better Than Proprietary Code


  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Fukushima disaster: Tokyo hides truth as children die, become ill from radiation – ex-mayor

      The tragedy of the Fukushima nuclear plant disaster took place almost three years ago. Since then, radiation has forced thousands out of their homes and led to the deaths of many. It took great effort to prevent the ultimate meltdown of the plant – but are the after effects completely gone? Tokyo says yes; it also claims the government is doing everything it can for those who suffered in the disaster. However, disturbing facts sometimes rise to the surface. To shed a bit of light on the mystery of the Fukushima aftermath, Sophie Shevardnadze talks to the former mayor of one of the disaster-struck cities. Katsutaka Idogawa is on SophieCo today.

    • Russia won’t import GMOs, has ‘enough space and opportunities to produce organic food’

      The importation ban, issued with the consent of the Russian parliament, was initiated in late February. As the orders trickle down, a widespread monitoring effort will be placed over the Russian agricultural sector. Imports will be heavily inspected to assure that GMOs aren’t entering the country. This new all-out ban strengthens very restrictive policies already put in place. Current Russian law requires producers to label any product containing GMOs in excess of 0.9 percent of the product.

  • Security

    • The Heartbleed drama queens

      The news is rife with screeching reports about the Heartbleed vulnerability, with some news outlets questioning the security model of open source. If you aren’t familiar with it, Heartbleed is “…a security bug in the open-source OpenSSL cryptography library, widely used to implement the Internet’s Transport Layer Security (TLS) protocol” according to Wikipedia. While it certainly is a bad thing, it’s also not the armageddon of the Internet that some in the media have been proclaiming it to be, and it’s not a harbinger of doom for open source software development either.

    • Easter egg: DSL router patch merely hides backdoor instead of closing it

      First, DSL router owners got an unwelcome Christmas present. Now, the same gift is back as an Easter egg. The same security researcher who originally discovered a backdoor in 24 models of wireless DSL routers has found that a patch intended to fix that problem doesn’t actually get rid of the backdoor—it just conceals it. And the nature of the “fix” suggests that the backdoor, which is part of the firmware for wireless DSL routers based on technology from the Taiwanese manufacturer Sercomm, was an intentional feature to begin with.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • MANPADS to Syria Rebels: Good or Bad Idea?
    • Syrian rebels get SA-16 anti-aircraft missiles after receiving advanced anti-tank weapons

      Syrian rebels have been sighted wielding anti-aircraft weapons in various combat sectors including the Damascus region in the last few days. Just as on April 6, debkafile was the first publication to disclose the arming of Syrian opposition forces with their first US weapons, BGM-71 TOW anti-tank missiles, our military sources now reveal that they have also acquired – and are using – Russian-made 9K310 Igla-1 aka SA-16 anti-tank rockets, which have an operational range of 5.2 km.

    • US ordered to release memo in Anwar al-Awlaki drone killing

      Federal court rules in favour of ACLU and New York Times to force release of papers describing legal justification for strike

    • Obama ordered to divulge legal basis for killing Americans with drones

      The Obama administration must disclose the legal basis for targeting Americans with drones, a federal appeals court ruled Monday in overturning a lower court decision likened to “Alice in Wonderland.”

    • Obama Will Finally Have to Explain Why the US Can Kill Americans with Drones

      In the years-long conversation about President Barack Obama’s incredible drone wars, we’ve heard opaque, albeit scintillating, references to threat matrices and kill lists. But there’s one thing we’ve never heard: What is the president’s legal rationale for extrajudicial killing of Americans with drones?

    • 55 al-Qaida militants reported dead in Yemen after US-backed air offensive

      At least 55 al-Qaida militants have been killed in Yemen, the country’s interior ministry claimed after an intensive weekend air offensive in which US drones are believed to have been involved.

    • In Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, and now Ukraine: catastrophe follows US and Nato meddling

      Different though Ukraine is from Iraq and Afghanistan there are some ominous similarities in the Western involvement in all three countries, says Patrick Cockburn

    • More than 100 hate-crime murders linked to single website, report finds

      Stormfront founder Don Black, a former grand wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, criticized Miller for giving users of his site a bad reputation. “We have enough of a problem with how we are portrayed without some homicidal whack job coming along and reinforcing that,” Black told the Daily Beast. After he was banned from Stormfront, the SLPC said Miller posted more than 12,000 times on a similar forum, Vanguard News Network, whose slogan is “No Jews, Just Right.”

    • A Key Test for International Law

      In truth, if colonial conquest and force majeure are legitimate grounds of sovereignty, and if extermination of a population can wipe out the legal right to self-determination, then in international law Britain has the right to Diego Garcia and to give it as tribute to their US overlords. But if international law has any relationship of any kind to principles of justice, then Britain should not be permitted to reap the dubious benefit of genocide. What international law actually is in the neo-conservative era is the real question before the UN tribunal now looking at the Diego Garcia question.

    • Missile Strikes in Yemen and Weapons to Syria: the US Steps Up its Middle East Military Interventions

      American drone missile attacks and air strikes killed more than three dozen people in southern Yemen over the weekend. The carnage coincided with press reports that the Obama administration is moving to ship advanced weapons to “rebel” groups fighting the Assad government in Syria.

    • Seymour Hersh: Turkey Behind 2013 Sarin Gas Attack in Syria

      Turkey was behind the horrific Aug. 21, 2013, sarin gas attack that killed hundreds of innocents in a Damascus suburb “to push [President] Obama over the red line” and strike Syria, Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh claims in the London Review of Books.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Spain’s ‘Robin Hood’ swindled banks to help fight capitalism

      They call him the Robin Hood of the banks, a man who took out dozens of loans worth almost half a million euros with no intention of ever paying them back. Instead, Enric Duran farmed the money out to projects that created and promoted alternatives to capitalism.

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • Police raid home searching for owner of Twitter account mocking mayor

      Covered by the Peoria Journal Star in Illinois this week, seven members of the Peoria Police Department executed a search warrant yesterday in order to discover the identity of someone operating a fake Twitter account that parodied Peoria mayor Jim Ardis (pictured above). The police seized multiple mobile phones in addition to computers stored at the residence. Three people at the home were brought into the police department for questioning and two members of the household that were working at the time were picked up by police from their place of employment and taken to the station.

    • Sweden Goes Full Retard, Requires Registration Of Every Individual Playing Lottery

      Sweden, like most European countries, has a number of governmentally-run state lotteries that are an efficient extra tax on the people who can’t math properly. Because of the jackpot sizes (nine-figure euro or dollar amounts), they are still hugely popular. From June 1, the Swedish state lottery requires people who want to buy a simple lottery ticket to identify and register.

    • Science teacher’s suspension spurs petition drive

      A popular Los Angeles high school science teacher has been suspended after students turned in projects that appeared dangerous to administrators, spurring a campaign calling for his return to the classroom.

  • DRM etc.

    • Home entertainment implementations are pretty appalling

      Which left dealing with the installed software. The BDT-230 is based on a Mediatek chipset, and like most (all?) Mediatek systems runs a large binary called “bdpprog” that spawns about eleventy billion threads and does pretty much everything. Runnings strings over that showed, well, rather a lot, but most promisingly included a reference to “/mnt/sda1/vudu/vudu.sh”. Other references to /mnt/sda1 made it pretty clear that it was the mount point for USB mass storage. There were a couple of other constraints that had to be satisfied, but soon attempting to run Vudu was actually setting a blank root password and launching telnetd.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Five Things to Know About How Corporations Block Access to Everything From Miracle Drugs to Science Research

      Should a company be able to patent a breast cancer gene? What about a species of soybean? How about a tool for basic scientific research? Or even a patent for acquiring patents (see: Halliburton)?

      Intellectual property rights are supposed to help inventors bring good things to life, but there’s increasing concern that they may be keeping us from getting the things we need.

    • Copyrights

      • Google Asked to Censor Two Million Pirate Bay URLs

        The Pirate Bay reached a dubious milestone today, as copyright holders have now asked Google to remove two million of the site’s URLs from its search results. According to Google this means that between one and five percent of all Pirate Bay links are no longer discoverable in its search engine.

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