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Links 28/4/2014: Debate About Improving GNU/Linux, Android Beyond Mobile

Posted in News Roundup at 4:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Tools to Empower Librarians

    Open source software is a popular choice for libraries and librarians, not simply because recent austerity measures in many developed countries have tightened available budgets. The ability to customise the software for a library’s particular needs, the potential for interoperation with other software, and the lack of license restrictions makes open source software attractive.

    Modern libraries need robust, scalable and flexible software to make their collections and services attractive, especially as digital libraries are radically transforming how information is disseminated. There are very few barriers to any library adopting an open source library system.

  • Out in the Open: Occupy Wall Street Reincarnated as Open Source Software

    Those challenges could become more important as the software spreads to other uses. Unlike applicators like Democracy OS or Liquid Feedback, Loomio isn’t really designed for large scale political decision making. But it’s already been used for at least one government initiative. Last year, the Wellington City Council used Loomio to gather ideas and feedback from the public for new alcohol policies. The ideas floated included closing bars at midnight — which was shot down — and limiting the hours of operation of 24 hour liquor stores.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • OpenStack fundamentals taught by Rackspace gurus

      An OpenStack training workshop was held as part of the recent, 4th Open Source Festival at the State University of New York at Albany. The workshop brought together over 40 participants for three hours to learn some of the fundamentals of OpenStack.

  • Databases

  • CMS

    • Dutch municipality tailors and shares Drupal site

      The Dutch town of Vught is making available the source code for its website, a preconfigured version of Drupal, an open source content management system. The software is now being implemented by the municipality of Almelo, and, says Frank Schaap, ICT policy maker for the town of Vught, “there are three more that are seriously considering to do the same.”

  • Education

    • 5 lessons open education resources can learn from FOSS

      One of the distinctive elements of the open source software movement are open development projects. These are the projects where software is developed cooperatively (not collaboratively, necessarily) in public, often by people contributing from multiple organizations. All the processes that lead to the creation and release of software—design, development, testing, planning—happen using publicly visible tools. Projects also actively try to grow their contributor base.

  • Healthcare


  • Public Services/Government

    • 143 French politicians pledge to support free software

      Of all the politicians newly elected in France’s municipal elections 143 have pledged their support for free software. The new councillors signed the Free Software Pact, a support campaign organised by April, an advocacy group. Signatories include the mayor of the city of Dijon, François Rebsamen, appointed Minister for Employment in France’s new government on 2 April.

  • Openness/Sharing


  • 64-bit MenuetOS M64 0.99.57 Released

    On the MenuetOS download page, the 0.99.57 release notes just list, “Updates and improvements (httpc, ehci, picview, memcheck, menu, wallpaper, ohci, uhci, maps/streetview, icons, dhcp, freeform window, smp threads, smp init).”

  • Stop It With the Silicon Valley Buzzwords

    The entire Silicon Valley tech scene is filled with ludicrous buzz phrases that are often decried by the media. Terms like “engagement,” “disrupt,” and “innovation” are commonly thrown around by those who want to be part of the Valley subculture.

  • Science

    • Giant Chinese 3D printer builds 10 houses in just 1 day (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

      A private company located in eastern China has printed ten full-size houses using a huge 3D printer in the space of a day. The process utilizes quick-drying cement, but the creators are being careful not to reveal the secrets of the technology.

      China’s WinSun company, used a system of four 10 meter wide by 6.6 meter high printers with multi-directional sprays to create the houses. Cement and construction waste was used to build the walls layer-by-layer, state news agency Xinhua reported.

  • Security

    • Active 0day attack hijacking IE users threatens a quarter of browser market

      The zero-day code-execution hole in IE versions 6 through 11 represents a significant threat to the Internet security because there is currently no fix for the underlying bug, which affects an estimated 26 percent of the total browser market. It’s also the first significant vulnerability to target Windows XP users since Microsoft withdrew support for that aging OS earlier this month. Users who have the option of using an alternate browser should avoid all use of IE for the time being. Those who remain dependent on the Microsoft browser should immediately install EMET, Microsoft’s freely available toolkit that greatly extends the security of Windows systems.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Deal Welcoming US Military Into Philippines Slammed As ‘Betrayal’

      The U.S. and Philippine governments have agreed on a 10-year pact to open this southeast Asian country to more U.S. troops, warships, and fighter planes, flouting the people’s movements that booted the U.S. military from its permanent Philippine bases over twenty years ago.

      “We have lost too much because of the U.S. military presence in our country,” Bernadette Ellorin, Chairperson of BAYAN-USA—an alliance of Filipino organizations in the U.S, told Common Dreams. “The Philippines has long history of protests against militarization. The protests now are only going to grow.”

      The Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement was announced Sunday by the White House and confirmed by two anonymous Philippine officials speaking to the Associated Press.

    • Ukraine: pro-Russian separatists hold European military observers captive

      Pro-Moscow separatists in eastern Ukraine were holding a group of European military observers in the city of Slavyansk on Friday night, claiming they had been travelling with a spy for the Kiev government.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • China says more than half of its groundwater is polluted

      Nearly 60% of China’s underground water is polluted, state media has reported, underscoring the severity of the country’s environmental woes.

      The country’s land and resources ministry found that among 4,778 testing spots in 203 cities, 44% had “relatively poor” underground water quality; the groundwater in another 15.7% tested as “very poor”.

      Water quality improved year-on-year at 647 spots, and worsened in 754 spots, the ministry said.

    • Some Birds Thrive in Chernobyl’s Radioactive Glow

      Nearly 28 years after the worst nuclear accident in history, several bird species are doing the seemingly impossible: flourishing inside the radioactive Chernobyl Exclusion Zone in Ukraine. Due to lingering radiation from the 1986 meltdown of the Chernobyl nuclear power plant, humans aren’t allowed to live there—but the region has become an accidental ecological testing ground for scientists interested in studying the effects of radiation on wild animals. Ionizing radiation damages living cells by producing free radicals, leading to genetic damage and, eventually, death. An animal’s only hope is to neutralize those free radicals by upping its production of antioxidants. And that’s exactly what most birds in Chernobyl seem to be doing—with even better results than scientists expected. A team of ecologists used nets to capture 152 birds from 16 species inside and around the 2600-square-kilometer exclusion zone. After assessing the birds’ antioxidant levels, amount of DNA damage, and body condition, the researchers were surprised to find that most of the birds, like the hawfinch pictured above, seemed to benefit from the chronic exposure to radiation. Birds found in areas with higher radiation levels had more antioxidants and better overall body condition, the team reports online this week in Functional Ecology. This is the first known example of wild animals adapting to chronic radiation exposure, the researchers say. The only two bird species negatively affected by the radiation—the great tit (Parus major) and barn swallow (Hirundo rustica)—both produce large amounts of pinkish pheomelanin pigment in their feathers. Because pheomelanin production requires lots of antioxidants, the researchers suspect these birds may not have enough left over to fight off the free radicals. In Chernobyl, it seems that fancy feathers come at a high price.

    • Earth: Game Over?

      We’re in the middle of a sixth mass extinction, and this will be the first one—and possibly the last—we will witness as human beings.

    • Top award for toxic dump campaigner

      Mr D’Sa said he would not be prevented from standing up for the truth

    • Report: US Unprepared for Arctic Oil Spill

      A warming Arctic and the clamor for more unconventional energy resources bring increased interest by fossil fuel giants in exploiting the fragile region’s potential vast resources.

      Yet a new report warns that the the United States is inadequately prepared to deal with an oil spill in the Arctic.

      The nearly 200-page report issued Wednesday by the National Research Council follows years of warnings from environmental groups that there is no way to safely drill for oil in the Arctic.

  • Finance

  • Privacy

    • Pretty soon, we could all be using the Dark Net

      The term “Dark Net” is shorthand to describe the hidden and encrypted part of the internet beyond the reach of normal browsers, accessible only using the anonymous browser Tor. It’s protected by a clever traffic encryption system which makes it very difficult to locate the servers which host sites – called Tor Hidden Services – and the IP addresses of the people the visit them. Tor used to stand for The Onion Router, and so some call this world “Onionland”. Anonymity and freedom rule Onionland, not censorship.

    • Reddit Scope Leaking User Queries

      If you are currently using the Reddit Unity Scope on Ubuntu, you should consider disabling it. The reason for this is that a Reddit admin pointed out that Ubuntu user dash searches were ending up in Reddit’s server logs.

      This is happening because the Reddit Unity Scope uses a URL that does not have SSL configured so instead redirects those queries to HTTP plain text. The good news is a fix is already under way on a bug I filed and Reddit’s API documentation explains how to properly use SSL when making queries.

    • An Eerie New Project Shows How Much Facebook Really Knows About You

      A new, eerie web project called Digital Shadow combs through your Facebook profile and pulls together enough of your information to create a dossier creepy enough to make you want to quit social networking altogether.

      Once you login and grant the site access to your Facebook profile, the system simulates a hacker attack and creates a list of “pawns” (friends who can betray you), “obsessions” (people you creep on the most) and “scapegoats” (people you would be willing to sacrifice), as well as photos of your favorite places and an analysis of your posting habits.

  • Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • Intellectual Monopolies

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