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Links 24/4/2014: OpenPower Foundation, Core Infrastructure Initiative

Posted in News Roundup at 5:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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Free Software/Open Source

  • A Sovereign Server

    Alex Payne, formerly a developer at Twitter and Simple, has released an interesting set of scripts he’s calling “Sovereign” that help with building cloud services on your own server. I’ve been interested in running my own email, calendar, file sharing, and other services for a few years now, and since Alex did most of the heavy lifting already, I decided it was time to give it a shot. My experience so far has been good, but this is still rarefied air, and not for the inexperienced.

  • Events

    • LinuxCon Keynotes Display How Open Source Methods Are Spreading

      You’d expect LinuxCon content to be centered around Linux — and of course the ten tracks we have between LinuxCon and CloudOpen will feature the latest in developer and SysAdmin/DevOps technical topics such as Linux kernel development, virtualization, containers and open cloud technologies. (Plus a keynote speaker you may have heard of: Linus Torvalds.) But it’s been inspiring to see the principles of Linux and open source — open collaboration, meritocracy, crowdsourcing — spread to other areas of society, from education to 3D printing to medical devices and cars.

    • Linux Foundation Event to Highlight Docker, 3D Printing, MOOCs

      Docker container virtualization, massive open online courses, 3D printing and running open source software in your car are among the featured topics at the upcoming LinuxCon and CloudOpen North America event. Each of those subjects appears on the list of keynotes for the conference, which the Linux Foundation just announced.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • TryStack Lets You Tinker with an OpenStack Cluster–Before You Leap

      Late last year, survey results began to appear left and right confirming that IT departments around the world were either planning to deploy the OpenStack cloud computing platform or considering deploying it. An OpenStack Foundation survey found that cost savings and the flexibility of an open cloud platform were key drivers behind these trends.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • CMS

    • How to help your open source project be a success/Five common pitfalls to avoid in open source

      Open source software, hardware, and methods are gaining popularity and access to them couldn’t be more prolific. If you’re thinking about starting a new open source project, there are five common pitfalls you should be aware of before you begin.

      Don’t despair if you’ve already started your project and are just now reading this! These pointers can be helpful at any stage if things are still running smoothly.

  • Business

    • Semi-Open Source

      • NGINX 1.6 Brings SPDY 3.1 & Other New Features

        NGINX 1.6 features improvements to its SSL support, SPDY 3.1 protocol support, cache revalidation with conditional requests, an auth request module, and many other changes and bug-fixes.

  • BSD


    • GNU Xnee among hotpicks :)
    • GNU Cgicc 3.2.14
    • GNU Compiler Collection gains major new functionality

      The Free Software Foundation’s GCC (GNU Compiler Collection), featuring front ends for such languages as C, C++, Objective-C, and Java, has been upgraded with improvements for devirtualization and fixes to bottlenecks.

    • Photoshop without going broke

      GIMP: The cross-platform, open-source GNU image manipulation programme may not win any awards for design, but it is arguably the most complete Photoshop replacement that you don’t need money to buy. The interface is very different, so Photoshop users will have some learning curve to negotiate, but a variety of add-ons allow GIMP plenty of flexibility. Get it at Gimp.org for your PC, Mac or Linux computer.

    • Five Best Text Editors

      If you’ve used an operating system with a command line interface, you’ve had Emacs available to you. It’s been around for decades (since Richard Stallman and Guy Steele wrote it in 1976), and its the other major text editor to stand behind in the Holy Text Editor Grail Wars. It’s not the easiest tool, but it’s definitely one of the most powerful. It has a steep learning curve, but it’s always there, ready for use. It’s had a long and storied history, but the version that most people wind up using is GNU Emacs, linked above. It’s richly featured, too—Emacs can handle almost any type of text that you throw at it, handle simple documents or complex code, or be customized with startup scripts that add features or tweak the interface and shortcuts to match your project or preference. Similarly, Emacs supports macro recording, tons of shortcuts (that you’ll have to learn to get really familiar with it), and has a ton of modules created by third parties to leverage the app for completely non-programming purposes, like project planning, calendaring, news reading, and word processing. When we say it’s powerful, we’re not kidding. In large part, its power comes from the fact that anyone can play with it and mold it into something new and useful for everyone.

  • Public Services/Government

    • US government accelerating development and release of open source

      I had a chance to catch up with David A. Wheeler, a long-time leader in advising and working with the US government on issues related to open source software. As early as the late 1990s, David was demonstrating why open source software was integral to the US goverment IT architecture, and his personal webpage is a frequently cited source on open standards, open source software, and computer security.

    • Open source propels UK healthcare data portal

      Open source is propelling the United Kingdom’s PatientView, a web-based solution written in Java that displays laboratory results, medicine information, correspondence and explanations of test results, diagnoses and treatment. PatientView is already implemented by 60 of the UK’s 70 renal clinics and is used by more than 20,000 of their patients. The solution is increasingly used by other health care disciplines, says Jenny Ure, a researcher at the Centre for Inflammation Research at the University of Edinburgh.

      “PatientView is not only providing patients with access to their records”, Dr Ure says. “It is a very useful communication tool for multidisciplinary teams, working in different hospitals and health clinics”, she said at the Medetel conference, in Luxembourg on 10 April.

  • Programming


  • Science

  • Hardware

    • ARM says 64-bit chips have begun shipping in high volume

      Although ARM reported a drop in royalty payments for its embedded chip designs, the company reported an increase in licensing revenues and a healthy boost in the chips it sells into smartphones, including the first 64-bit sales.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • WHO hits back at vaccine deniers

      The World Health Organization hit back on Wednesday against vaccine deniers who claim that immunisation is pointless, risky and that the body is better off fighting disease unaided.

      “The impact of vaccines on people’s lives is truly one of the best things that one could see out there,” said Jean-Marie Okwo-Bele, head of the UN health agency’s immunisation and vaccines division.

    • McDonald’s to Add Lab-Grown ‘Chicken’ McNuggets to its Menu

      McDonald‘s just announced it will be the first fast food restaurant in the United States to add lab-grown meat to its menu. Following the success of Sergey Brin’s lab-grown burger experiment in London last year, McDonald’s says they will ‘grow’ their own chicken McNuggets in special laboratories across New Jersey.

    • A fatal wait: Veterans languish and die on a VA hospital’s secret list

      At least 40 U.S. veterans died waiting for appointments at the Phoenix Veterans Affairs Health Care system, many of whom were placed on a secret waiting list.

      The secret list was part of an elaborate scheme designed by Veterans Affairs managers in Phoenix who were trying to hide that 1,400 to 1,600 sick veterans were forced to wait months to see a doctor, according to a recently retired top VA doctor and several high-level sources.

  • Security

    • Designing a Prize for Usable Cryptography

      To that end, EFF is evaluating the feasibility of offering a prize for the first usable, secure, and private end-to-end encrypted communication tool. We believe a prize based on objective usability metrics (such as the percentage of users who were able to install and start using the tool within a few minutes, and the percentage who survived simulated impersonation or man-in-the-middle attacks) might be an effective way to determine which project or projects are best delivering communication security to vulnerable user communities; to promote and energize those tools; and to encourage interaction between developers, interaction designers and academics interested in this space.

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • DSL router patch doesn’t get rid of the backdoor, only hides it

      At the beginning of this year, secret backdoor ‘TCP 32764’ was discovered in several routers including Linksys, Netgear, and Cisco. But even after releasing the new security patch, the backdoor binary continues to be present in the new firmware version, and the backdoor on port 32764 can be opened again by sending a specific network packet to the router.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Brazil’s World Cup Will Kick the Environment in the Teeth

      As Brazil prepares to host the 2014 World Cup and the 2016 Olympics, a topic that plagues the country is the impact hosting these games will have on the local environment and various ecosystems. Despite efforts by soccer’s ruling body, FIFA, to “greenwash” the games—by holding “green events” during the World Cup, putting out press releases about infrastructure construction with recycled materials and speaking rhapsodically about the ways in which the stadiums are designed to capture and recycle rainwater—the truth is not nearly so rank with patchouli oil.

    • Moth study suggests hidden climate change impacts

      A 32-year study of subarctic forest moths in Finnish Lapland suggests that scientists may be underestimating the impacts of climate change on animals and plants because much of the harm is hidden from view.

      The study analyzed populations of 80 moth species and found that 90 percent of them were either stable or increasing throughout the study period, from 1978 to 2009. During that time, average annual temperatures at the study site rose 3.5 degrees Fahrenheit, and winter precipitation increased as well.

  • Finance

    • Interview Highlights: Paul Krugman

      In this clip, Krugman tells Bill that America is on the road to becoming a society controlled not by self-made men or women, but by their offspring.

    • Economic Update: “Tax Injustices”

      Updates on how inequality persists across generations; the nonsense of “taxes are job killers”; governor uses tax revenues to prevent unionization in a private enterprise. Major discussion of state and local taxes in the US; the economics of paying executives very high incomes; and the privatization of public services. Response to listener’s question on recent Medicare report on oversize payouts to doctors.

  • Censorship

    • Duma passes bill criminalizing rehabilitation of Nazism

      The Russian Lower House has approved a bill that provides up to five years in prison for denying the facts set out in the Nuremberg Trial, rehabilitation of Nazism and distributing false information about the actions of Russia and its allies during WWII.

    • The Aaronovitch Scandal

      1) Do you agree it is a reasonable practice for authors to persuade friends and family to post favorable reviews on Amazon? Do you agree with Mr Aaronovitch’s implication that Amazon’s policy forces authors to do this?

      2) A wayback archive search shows that in fact a number of poor reviews of Voodoo Histories were deleted by Amazon. Did Mr Aaronovitch contact Amazon to initiate these deletions?

      3) In fact, the poor reviews deleted were not, with a single exception, posted any earlier than similar quantities of five star reviews. Why was it decided to delete several one star reviews and no five star reviews? Who took this decision? Was it in any way motivated by Amazon’s own political sympathies? Was it motivated by a desire to boost sales?

  • Privacy

    • Rhodri Marsden: Use email encryption services? The trouble is, we can’t be bothered

      For years, I felt the same way about email. When I send a message to a specific email address, I figure that it’ll be opened by the person who owns that email address, and even if anyone else did stumble across that message, it’s unlikely that they’d be interested in the contents. I knew about methods of email encryption such as PGP (Pretty Good Privacy) and GPG (Gnu Privacy Guard), because I occasionally saw the email signatures of people who cared deeply about such things; they’d include a public key that you could use to send them encrypted messages. But rather like the lemon juice, dealing with the various keys and additional processes all seemed too much like hard work. I reckoned that the people who emphasised its importance were at best excessively geeky and at worst ridiculously paranoid.

    • Google reportedly wants to make email encryption easier, but don’t hold your breath

      Still responding to the National Security Agency surveillance revelations, Google is reportedly preparing to help users beef up Gmail security with end-to-end encryption. The search giant is working on a way to make Pretty Good Privacy (PGP) encryption easier to use for Gmail fans, according to a report by Venture Beat.

    • Google mulls PGP integration with Gmail
    • European Media Art Festival (EMAF), Osnabrueck

      The 27th European Media Art Fest­ival began this even­ing in Osnab­rueck, Ger­many. In the wake of all the global intel­li­gence whis­tleblow­ing that has gone on over the last few years, the theme for the artists of 2014 is “We, the Enemy”.

    • Microsoft OneDrive Secretly Modifies your BackUp Files

      Why Microsoft is altering files on OneDrive for Business, is not documented anywhere by the company, but the revelation has again raised doubts about the integrity with Microsoft.

    • Microsoft OneDrive alters user files, adds unique IDs
    • “Russian Facebook” founder flees country after being forced out as CEO

      Pavel Durov, the founder of Vkontakte (VK)—the largest social network in Russia—said on Tuesday that he fled the country one day after being forced out of the company, claiming that he felt threatened by Kremlin officials.

      In a post on his profile page on Monday, Durov explained that he was fired from his position as CEO of VK and that the so-called “Russian Facebook” is now “under the complete control” of two oligarchs close to President Vladimir Putin.

    • Should Australians prepare for rubber-hose cryptanalysis?

      Law enforcement peak body wants to make it easier to decrypt communications

    • Data retention: Just like diamonds, metadata is forever

      Law enforcement agencies represented at today’s Senate committee hearing, including the Australian Crime Commission (ACC), South Australia Police, Queensland Police, the Australian Federal Police, the ATO and ASIC, all backed a data retention regime that would impose requirements on service providers in terms of the storage and release to law enforcement of metadata.

    • Putin: The Internet Is A ‘CIA Project,’ Russia Needs Greater Control

      President Vladimir Putin on Thursday called the Internet a CIA project and made comments about Russia’s biggest search engine Yandex, sending the company’s shares plummeting.

      The Kremlin has been anxious to exert greater control over the Internet, which opposition activists — barred from national television — have used to promote their ideas and organize protests.

      Russia’s parliament this week passed a law requiring social media websites to keep their servers in Russia and save all information about their users for at least half a year. Also, businessmen close to Putin now control Russia’s leading social media network, VKontakte.

  • Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Global governance for a global, common, public resource

      This blog post is my extended remarks to the opening session of Netmundial 2014. I can only say about 80% of it live because of time limits.

    • This project aims to make ’404 not found’ pages a thing of the past

      The “404-No-More” project is backed by a formidable coalition including members from organizations like the Harvard Library Innovation Lab, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Old Dominion University, and the Berkman Center for Internet & Society. Part of the Knight News Challenge, which seeks to strengthen the Internet for free expression and innovation through a variety of initiatives, 404-No-More recently reached the semifinal stage.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • 106,000 Signatures in Support of Pirate Bay Founder Delivered to Danish Govt.

        After amassing 106,000 signatures a petition aimed at improving the prison conditions of Gottfrid Svartholm has been delivered to the Danish government. In the hope that it may even prompt the total release of the Pirate Bay founder, yesterday the Danish Pirate Party handed the petition to Karen Hækkerup, Denmark’s Minister of Justice .

      • Help Put More Pirates In the European Parliament

        Defending free culture doesn’t come cheap. Nor does running elections. We don’t get the money we need to campaign from fat cats and big backers. We are funded by people like you, through your donations and your membership payments, we couldn’t do it without you.

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