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09.18.14

Links 18/9/2014: Windows Copying GNU/Linux, Germany Moves to Security

Posted in News Roundup at 6:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Sorry, Windows 9 Fans, This Is How Multiple Desktops Should Work – Video

    The Linux platform has always taken pride in this cool feature. Having multiple desktops is a great way to increase the productivity and there are numerous means to implement it. Lots of Linux distributions have this option, which is used in various ways.

  • Germany Seeks The Most Secure IT In The World

    This will be something to watch no matter how it turns out. Practically, I think it is most likely that Germany will ship a government distro with only well-tested software in the vault. I recommend they start with Debian GNU/Linux.

  • Desktop

    • A Linux love story with real love and romance

      Zorin OS had an amazing impact on my relationship. I’m now really well accepted by my girlfriend’s family. For an Italian girl this is quite important. They like me and my girlfriend is so so proud of me. Her family already asked me to update all their Zorin version and I’m willing to do it as soon as I can.

      I love Zorin OS. I feel so grateful to it. My relationship couldn’t work better than now. Love you guys for the amazing work you are doing. Hope you never stop.

    • Is ChromeOS a threat to desktop Linux?

      ChromeOS devices have always struck me as being much more “appliance-like” than traditional Linux distributions. The goal for Google seems to be that you turn them on and just go about your business. With desktop Linux there’s more work involved but along with that extra effort comes a tremendous amount of control over your experience.

      Most ChromeOS users are probably not going to care about having such control. They most likely want to buy a ChromeOS device and then simply do all of their usual tasks without caring much about what’s going on under the hood. No doubt there are some desktop Linux users that are the same way, but I suspect there are many who are the exact opposite and need to be able to fine-tune their systems.

    • 5 more killer features Windows 9 should steal from Linux

      If the latest Windows 9 leaks are any indication, some of the operating system’s coolest new features will look a lot like what Linux users already enjoy: Like the virtual desktops Linux users have had since the 90’s, and a centralized notification center like the one available in GNOME Shell.

      Windows 9 also looks like it’ll co-opt Ubuntu’s vision of a single operating system interface that can run on all form factors, complete with apps that run in windowed mode when it makes more sense to do so. Who would have imagined? Windowed applications are a big new feature in Windows.

  • Kernel Space

    • New Video Series Teaches Kids About Linux

      Growing up in rural Utah, brothers Jared and JR Neilsen spent their free time recording videos that starred a cast of homemade puppets. As adults they’ve reconvened to create their own web series,Hello World, which aims to teach kids about computer science.

    • Graphics Stack

      • The KMS Mode-Setting Driver Was Imported For X.Org Server 1.17

        A few days ago I wrote about the plans to mainline the xf86-video-modesetting driver as the hardware-agnostic DDX driver that (theoretically) works with any hardware having a DRM/KMS graphics driver. Given that this driver doesn’t go through much churn these days and works fairly well, it’s now being merged within the X.Org Server code-base given the increasing number of systems compatible with (and depending on) this driver.

    • Benchmarks

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE Applications and Platform 4.14.1 Officially Released

        The KDE developers have released an update for KDE 4.14, which is actually the last version in the series. It will soon be replaced by KDE Frameworks 5, KDE Plasma, and KDE Applications. The entire system is now much more modular and the projects have been decoupled. The devs won’t have to follow the same version number, so there will be some misunderstandings in the future.

      • Mathematics that you can touch

        These last months have been intense, so intense I needed a bit of a distraction. I’ve always felt some kind of curiosity for the world of 3D printing and, as I’ve said in different occasions, I always push KAlgebra to the limit when I have the occasion.

      • POW! Digia straps Qt into ejector seat, gleefully pulls handle
      • KDE Touchpad configuration ported to Frameworks 5

        Fedora 20 with KDE SC 4.14 has been very stable, and after a while it gets…boring – especially when Plasma 5 is already released and you see screenshots everywhere. If you cannot hold the urge and feel sufficiently adventurous, Dan Vratil has built the Fedora 20 and 21 rpms here. If you install i386 versions, beware that baloo-widgets cannot be installed due to unmet dependencies. So, once you install dvratil’s copr repo, just do:

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • Making of GNOME 3.14

        The release of GNOME 3.14 is slowly approaching, so I stole some time from actual design work and created this little promo to show what goes into a release that probably isn’t immediately obvious (and a large portion of it doesn’t even make it in).

      • GNOME Tweak Tool 3.14 RC1 Ditches Menubar

        The release of GNOME Tweak Tool 3.14 RC1, a utility popular among users of the GNOME 3 desktop environment, has been announced by its developer.

  • Distributions

    • LQ ISO Has Now Facilitated More Than 50 MILLION Linux Downloads
    • New Releases

      • Webconverger 26 released
      • Webconverger 26 Is a Secure Kiosk OS That Doesn’t Store Any Data

        Webconverger is a distribution designed and developed with a single goal in mind, namely to provide the best Kiosk experience possible. This means that people will be able to use that OS as a regular system, although its functionality will be limited and it will be impossible to install any other apps.

        This is a very helpful solution if this is a public PC, like in a library or a cafe, and it preserves the quality of the installation for a very long time. Because users can’t interact with it on a deeper level, the operating system will remain stable and it will be pretty much the same like in the first day that it was used.

    • Arch Family

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Knoppix 7.4.1 Updated with New Linux Kernel and Multiple Fixes – Gallery

        Knoppix 7.4.1, a bootable Live CD/DVD made up from the most popular and useful free and open source applications, backed up by automatic hardware detection and support for a large number of hardware devices, has been released and is now available for download.

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Touch RTM Officially Released – Screenshot Tour

            In just a few months, two years will have passed since the official announcement of Ubuntu for mobiles and tablets. It looks like Canonical is almost ready to release the OS on a device that’s actually selling in stores, and that will be the true test of the new operating system.

          • AMD, Canonical Partner on Ubuntu OpenStack Cloud Server
          • Ubuntu Touch rtm image released!

            Canonical has finally released the first image of Ubuntu Touch RTM. The news comes to the heels of announcement by Meizu that Ubuntu powered devices will becoming later this year. Another Ubuntu Touch mobile partner Bq has not announced any release date for their Linux powered devices.

            RTM means release to manufacturing or going gold, the term is used for the software products which is ready to be supplied to customer as final product.

            Ubuntu Touch has become an important project and product as it is one of those few open source projects from among Jolla and Firefox OS which is fully open source. So Ubuntu Touch going rtm is great news for partners and users.

          • Learn Ubuntu – The Unity Launcher

            Ubuntu’s Unity desktop environment has divided the opinion of many Linux users over the past few years but it has matured very well and once you get used to it you will see that actually it is very easy to use and highly intuitive.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Samsung to accelerate the pace of Tizen based Business from Next Year

      Samsung Electronics are looking at releasing Tizen TV as well as other other home appliances that will use the Tizen Operating System early next year, in fact we should see them at CES 2015. According to an executive that is in charge of the Smart Home range of products, Tizen will be found in increasingly more appliances. This is also what Samsung Co-CEO J.K. Shin mentioned in an Interview in August 2013 with CNET, that Tizen was destined to be the OS of Cross-convergence between many different type of gadgets and Industries.

    • Hackable $39 Allwinner A20 SBC packs HDMI and GbE

      The $39 hackable “pcDuino3Nano” SBC runs Android or Ubuntu on a dual-core Allwinner A20 SoC, and offers GbE, HDMI, and 3x USB, plus Arduino-style expansion.

    • Raspbian 2014-09 and NOOBS 1.3.10 released with new features and software

      The latest version of Raspbian, the official Raspberry Pi distro, and the simple installer package, NOOBS, is out now. There’s lots of new software out of the box including Minecraft Pi and Sonic Pi 2…

    • DiceBot interview

      I worked on it myself. I got a little help on the website from some others at Intridea, but we’ve been working as a company just exploring various interfaces and social machines – Internet of Things, things like that. So it’s kind of how this idea came about. We have a few projects that we’re working on at the moment that are in a similar vein but this is the first one we’ve published. So I came across this little dice roller and I thought ‘Hey, this would make a perfect internet- controlled device’. And it would be a fun project, using something old and retro.

    • Linux-based pedalboard features 100+ virtual effects

      A Kickstarter project called “MOD Duo” is an open source Linux music pedalboard with Arduino hooks and virtual pedals for 100-plus guitar and voice effects.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Launching the project ‘i18nWidgets for Android’

          As of now the platform supported is Android 4.0.3 ICS. One would argue why support an older revision, but that’s exactly where the problem is relevant. As many of the lower end widely used android devices are still to upgrade to the latest version, there are vast number of users still struggling to use their native languages, where as the developers who wish to maintain compatibility with these devices are also struggling while making apps for those users.

        • Motorola Moto X reviews roundup

          The new Moto X phone from Motorola has gotten a lot of attention lately, and now the reviews have started to roll in from many tech sites. But not all reviews are the same, and many folks have waited to see what AnandTech has to say about the Moto X. Their patience has been rewarded because AnandTech has published a very deep review of Motorola’s new phone.

        • How to Give your Smartphone the Android L Look

          Android L is Google’s latest mobile operating system. Apart from a complete UI overhaul, this version brings along a myriad of performance improvements. Compared to its competitor iOS 8, Android L outperforms the Apple mobile operating system in design and performance. Though there is no clear announcement as to when Android L will be reaching our devices, its Material Design has slowly started catching up among app developers. Furthermore, many apps have come up that let you completely change the Android smartphone’s user interface to match that of Android L.

        • How to get iOS 8’s best new features on Android even before iPhone users get them

          When CEO Tim Cook and his fellow Apple executives unveils iOS 8’s great new features on stage during their WWDC 2014 keynote presentation back in June, the most dramatic audience response might have come when the crew unveiled iOS 8’s new Continuity features. With this great new functionality, iOS devices and Mac computers will be more closely connected than ever, able to quickly and easily exchange files and other data. Better still, iOS device notifications appear on a user’s connected Mac, and messages can even be sent and received right from within OS X.

Free Software/Open Source

  • I will never again talk about the benefits of Free Software

    Therefore I am never again going to tell people why they should be using Free Software.

    Instead I am going to ask them why they insist on using closed source software.

    Is it because they love paying lots of money for software that does little more (if anything) than suitable Free Software?

  • Industry titans band together to improve open source

    Facebook, Google, Twitter, GitHub, Walmart, and others have formed a group called TODO, designed to standardize and improve open source releases.

  • TODO – A New Group To Tell Open Source Programmers
  • Another open-source consortium for Facebook, new project to go along
  • Google, Facebook, Twitter Launch Open-Source Project TODO
  • What’s in a job title?

    Over on Google+, Aaron Seigo in his inimitable way launched a discussion about people who call themselves community managers.. In his words: “the “community manager” role that is increasingly common in the free software world is a fraud and a farce”. As you would expect when casting aspertions on people whose job is to talk to people in public, the post generated a great, and mostly constructive, discussion in the comments – I encourage you to go over there and read some of the highlights, including comments from Richard Esplin, my colleague Jan Wildeboer, Mark Shuttleworth, Michael Hall, Lenz Grimmer and other community luminaries. Well worth the read.

  • Events

    • SOSCON Booms with 1,000+ Open Source Software Developers

      The first-ever Samsung Open Source Conference (SOSCON) opened on Sept. 16 at the Grand Intercontinental Hotel located in Samsung-dong, Seoul. Over 1,000 people attended the largest open source conference in Korea.

      Prepared by Samsung Electronics, the software developers’ conference has the purpose of sharing open source knowledge and experience as with the annual Worldwide Developers’ Conference (WWDC) of Apple held in San Francisco.

      The first keynote speaker was former Ubuntu community manager Jono Bacon, who is currently a senior director at the X Prize Foundation. He made a speech on the topic of the value of sharing and the way open source software enriches people’s lives.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Google’s Chrome Strategy Heads in New Directions, Draws Linux Comparisons

        Google’s Chrome browser and Chrome OS operating system are grabbing headlines this week for several reasons. As Susan reported here, Matt Hartley said recently, ‘Anyone who believes Google isn’t making a play for desktop users isn’t paying attention.’ Hartley favors putting Linux in front of a lot of potential Chrome OS users, and says “I consider ChromeOS to be a forked operating system that uses the Linux kernel under the hood.”

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Cisco Acquires Metacloud for OpenStack as a Service Tech
    • Open source is key building block for cloud, says HP

      When it comes to cloud infrastructure tactics in the enterprise, open source is the winning method among enterprise service providers who we see incorporating it into their own services now. For example, Hewlett-Packard Co. delivers private, hybrid, managed and public clouds to enterprise customers worldwide. HP recently announced that it’s acquiring Eucalyptus Systems, Inc., provider of open-source software for building private and hybrid enterprise clouds.

  • Education

    • Redefining the Public Library Using Open Source Ideas

      “I’m interested in open source as a cultural method and philosophy, beyond software creation,” he explained. “To open source the public library means to do more than bring in Linux computers for public use. The heart of the open source method is participation, so a public library that is open sourced has much greater involvement of the public in library decision making, including all uses of library funds.”

    • 12 open education videos for China

      Last summer was special for the Creative Commons China Mainland team, Wenzhou Medical University, and Guokr.com. These three parties co-hosted an Open Education Resources (OER) summer camp on Luxi Island off the coast of China. For Wenzhou Medical University, the summer camp had been a part of their routine volunteering activities for five consecutive years, but it was the first time they partnered with the CC China Mainland Project; a team that brought a need in rural China to the camp’s participants.

    • Teaching open source changed my life

      Teaching open source has been a breath of fresh air for myself and for many of our students because with the open source way, there are no official tests. There is no official certification for the majority of open source projects. And, there are no prescribed textbooks.

    • Back to school with GRASS GIS

      When we started talking about hosting a ‘back to school’ week at Opensource.com, I decided to take that quite literally, and went back to NC State University earlier this month to attend the inaugural Geospatial Forum at the Center for Geospatial Anaytics. Geospatial analytics and GIS (geospatial information science) is a huge field, with a number of open source tools for research and teaching available, and I wanted to learn more about how these tools are being used in the real world.

  • Funding

    • Coinbase Announces Toshi: The Open Source Bitcoin Node For Developers

      San Francisco-based Coinbase announced Wednesday the launch of a new project called Toshi (most likely after Satoshi Nakamoto, bitcoin’s creator). Toshi is an open source bitcoin node designed for developers.

      In short, the software makes it simpler for developers to build their web applications, and it’s 100 percent compatible with Bitcoin Core. Or as Coinbase says, Toshi is an API to query blockchain data. It’s written in Ruby, and it’s using the PostgreSQL database.

    • Bitcoin for FOSS Projects

      There has been a growing interest among Free and Open Source Software (“FOSS”) projects in the use of crypto-currencies such as Bitcoin and its myriad derivatives (hereinafter “Bitcoin”). However, uncertainty over the treatment of these currencies by US law has dissuaded developers from from using Bitcoin. This post provides some general guidance on the legal consequences of using such convertible virtual currency.

      Please note that different jurisdictions address the issues related to Bitcoin differently. The comments provided in this post are restricted to U.S. law. If you are uncertain of your legal obligations, contact the Software Freedom Law Center or seek other legal counsel.

    • Docker Lands $40M Funding Round As Linux Container Tech Continues Meteoric Rise

      Docker, an open source startup that has emerged as one of the hottest enterprise technologies on the planet, said it closed on a $40 million Series C funding round Tuesday and looks poised to continue making Linux containers more useful for developers.

      Developers love Docker containers because they let them build apps that are portable and can run on any type of machine or cloud. Containers also deliver faster performance than virtual machines because they don’t have the overhead of a guest operating system.

  • Public Services/Government

    • French ministries prove free software is viable

      Free and open source software solutions are suitable for use in public administrations, the extensive use by French ministries proves. The LibreOffice suite of office productivity tools is now installed on more than 500,000 desktops across the ministries. The combination of Postgres, a relational database system and servers running the Linux operating system is also very common.

  • Licensing

    • edX Revisits Completely Open Source License

      Previously, Open edX’s source code had been designated under an Affero GPL license, which stated that developers were free to remix the code—frequently used to create MOOC platforms and individual features—so long as their finished products were open as well.

      However, in a blog post Ned Batchelder, edX Software Architect, wrote that the single license didn’t “fit all purposes.” Given that a key objective of edX is to establish itself as a sort of industry standard platform, it is relicensing XBlock (an API used to create interactive components in MOOC courses that functions as sort of the underlying architecture of the platform) under an Apache 2.0 license, which allows users to choose whether to share their creations or keep them private.

  • Openness/Sharing

Leftovers

  • Secessionists in Texas and Alaska are thrilled about Scotland’s independence referendum

    On Thursday, Scottish voters will head to the polls to decide whether Scotland should break from the United Kingdom and become an independent nation. Here in America, members of various separatist groups are closely watching the referendum and hoping it will boost other independence movements.

  • An Independent Scotland Will Hurt Labour

    Forget North Sea oil. The biggest implications of tomorrow’s Scottish vote are political, and they aren’t good for Labour in the long term.

  • How the media shafted the people of Scotland

    Journalists in their gilded circles are woefully out of touch with popular sentiment and shamefully slur any desire for change

  • Scottish independence: Voting under way in referendum

    With 4,285,323 people – 97% of the electorate – registered to vote, it is expected to be the busiest day in Scottish electoral history.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • U.S. militarism won’t eradicate ‘traces of evil’

      Barack Obama’s central dilemma last week, when he tried to sell a new war to the American public on the eve of the 13th anniversary of 9/11, was to speak convincingly about the wisdom and effectiveness of U.S. foreign policy over the last decade-plus while at the same time, alas, dropping the bad news that it didn’t work.

    • Targeted killings and the rule of law

      President OBAMA recently announced that the United States had targeted and killed Ahmed Abdi Godane, the leader of an Al Qaeda-linked group of terrorists in Somalia, and that it is now targeting ISIS leaders for assassination. We have, of course, targeted several alleged terrorists in the past, including at least one US citizen.

      [...]

      The decision to employ this tactic has generated considerable controversy, most particularly when the target is an American citizen who has joined a terrorist group. But it is also controversial when the target has no connection to our country, other than his hatred of it and his intention to do us harm. The Obama administration’s efforts to provide a legal justification for this practice has proved less than convincing to many.

    • Lanny Davis: Is Obama too much of a hawk for Democrats?

      The day before President Obama’s Sept. 10 speech on the threat of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) to American security — in my judgment, one of the best speeches of his two-term presidency — a pundit I like and respect, Chuck Todd, the new moderator of NBC’s “Meet the Press,” was interviewed on PBS’s “Charlie Rose Show.” He told Rose: “If [Hillary Clinton] were running to be the second woman president, I think she would not even be considered a front-runner. She’d be just considered another candidate.”

    • Obama lauds the troops at MacDill – and insists they won’t be fighting on the ground against ISIL
    • Review: Grounded Is Right on Target in BETC’s Powerful Production

      “I am become death, the destroyer of worlds.” So said J. Robert Oppenheimer of his work on the atomic bomb, quoting the Bhagavad Gita. There’s grief and guilt in the statement, as well a daunting realization of just what he’s unleashed on the world. But as you think about it, you also catch a note of megalomaniacal power.

    • Drones should be restricted to the security forces
    • Stop Postulating the Clash of Civilizations

      The British are mystified by their Muslim citizens becoming “jihadists” and joining the so-called Islamic State. They are horrified by the beheading of an American journalist by “John” a British citizen and member of the IS.

    • How We Missed Mullah Omar

      An inside account of America’s botched first Predator mission.

    • The lost lessons

      Thirteen years have gone by. Thirteen blood-filled years. The number of deaths perpetrated by the United States boggles the mind. The numbers of US deaths, including the first responders dying of cancers and lung ailments, soldiers dying on the battle field, or soldiers killing themselves at home, pales in comparison to the retribution we have meted out across the globe- often to completely innocent victims of our self serving ‘justice’.

      Yet our President endorses more bombing, more destruction, and more death. On the thirteenth anniversary, with the carnage stretching from North Africa to Central Asia our president says, “ISIL has no vision other than the slaughter of all who stand in its way.” He could very easily be describing us.

    • We don’t need another dumb war: Rosa Brooks
    • Rosa Brooks, Foreign Policy: Why America needs to avoid a dumb war, but probably won’t

      Back when he was just a U.S. senator, Barack Obama used to say that he didn’t oppose all wars, just “dumb wars.” I assumed that by “dumb wars,” he meant wars to address phantom or exaggerated threats (see: Iraq, 2003), or wars launched to achieve domestic political objectives (see also: Iraq, 2003), or wars begun without sufficient attention to alternatives, capabilities or strategic consequences (see yet again: Iraq, 2003).

    • George Jonas: The assassin President

      Last week U.S. President Barack Obama announced that he was ready to destroy the monster IS(IS) he helped create. This wasn’t the way he put it, of course, and no doubt some will find the way I put it unfair. President Obama, they’ll say, welcomed and encouraged the Arab Spring, not the masked head-hackers of IS(IS). True as this is, it amounts to falling back on the defence of the sorcerer’s apprentice. The leader of the free world ought to have known the likely consequences of America’s mea culpa coupled with its endorsement of fundamental changes in the world’s most volatile region.

    • Where Are We With Drone Resistance?

      Last Friday, September 5, the President clarified things for me when, in a press conference at the Wales NATO meeting, he committed the United States to an all out war against the Islamic State (IS, ISIS, ISIL) that will depend on the use of drones for surveillance and for assassination.

      The tip-off about the key role of drones in the new war came in his reference to what he sees at success in the US campaign against al Qaeda in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA) in Pakistan, a campaign that has been based on drone surveillance and killing.

    • DARPA testing planes with a ‘Star Wars’-style laser cannon

      We don’t have X-wing fighters just yet, but we may soon have their laser weapons. DARPA is working on a system that’s downright Lucasian.

    • Peres: Terror ‘opportunity’ for Israel to win new allies

      Former Israeli president Shimon Peres said that it would not able to kill every terrorist, therefore it must dry out their source of funding.

    • Unit 8200: Teaching NSA A Thing Or Two About Dark Arts – OpEd

      James Bamford spent three days in Moscow with Snowden and wrote about it in Wired. Today, he has a NY Times op-ed focussing particularly on the Snowden revelations about NSA collaboration with the IDF’s Unit 8200. None of this is particularly new. Further, at one point Bamford even dubiously claims that material the NSA shared with Israel might’ve led to some of the blackmail and recruiting of spies, which the Unit 8200 veteran’s letter decried. I think that’s doubtful because the activities criticized by the refusers involved listening to phone conversations and reading e mail and text messages by Palestinians in the Territories. It’s hard to believe (though not impossible, I suppose) that NSA spying on U.S. citizens would help 8200 to target Palestinians.

      [...]

      What the NSA refuses to realize in adopting the Israeli model is that Unit 8200 is oppressing Palestinians who, while occupied by Israel, aren’t Israeli citizens. At least technically, from an Israeli point of view, this allows them freer rein in their invasions of Palestinians privacy and rights. The NSA is often spying on U.S. citizens. If they bring Israeli spycraft to these shores, then the American intelligence community will be treating its own citizens the same way Israelis treat avowed Israeli enemies. Is that the standard under which we want the NSA to operate? Do we wish to allow out own spy agency to treat us as the enemy?

    • Israeli Unmanned Systems Conference showcases drones

      Only a few weeks after the recent truce that ended the Gaza war, Israel weapons manufacturers are displaying weapons used in the conflict at their annual Unmanned Systems Conference in Tel Aviv, from Sept. 14th to 19th.

    • An Israeli drone conference is featuring a product recently used on Gaza

      A few weeks after Israel and Hamas signed an open-ended truce to end their nearly two-month-long war in Gaza, Israeli defense contractors are parading weapons used in the conflict at a conference in Tel Aviv. The annual Israel Unmanned Systems conference, which began Sunday and runs through Friday (Sept. 19), is jointly hosted with the US Embassy in Tel Aviv. According to its website, attendees include “senior officials from commercial and government entities” from Europe, Asia, North and South America.

    • Predator: The Secret Origins of the Drone Revolution
    • Must-Read Tale Of Predator’s Tortuous Ride To Fame

      Rick Whittle’s superb book on the creation and uses of the Predator drone needs to be read by the Pentagon’s head of acquisition, Frank Kendall, and everyone else who decides what weapons America buys, including the professional staff on Capitol Hill who tell their congressional bosses what’s real and why.

    • “The Kill Team” looks at out-of-control platoon

      A provocative documentary about American soldiers who killed unarmed Afghans for sport comes to the Naro Expanded Cinema on Wednesday evening.

    • Get Out! – The Only Sane Response to the Islamic State

      The Islamic State (ISIS) proves the law of unintended consequences. Congratulations America! We killed Christianity in the Middle East and unleashed a terror organization with far greater reach and power than Al Qaeda ever possessed. If insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over again, and expecting different results, then our foreign policy needs to have been locked away in an institution a long, long time ago.

    • Don’t Bomb ISIS On My Behalf

      A Washington Post-ABC News poll conducted Sept. 4-7 among 1,001 adults nationwide revealed that 59% of Americans believe ISIS (or ISIL or the Islamic State) is a “very serious threat to US vital interests.” Another 31% view ISIS as a “somewhat serious” threat.

    • Henry Kissinger is not telling the truth about his past. Again.

      Henry Kissinger is back. With this new book, World Order, he attempts to explain the chaotic state of the world through the lens of history. But in the interviews he is giving to promote his book, he rewrites history and obfuscates facts—about U.S. war policy and his own bloody legacy—to make himself look good. He has done this before. Here are some of Kissinger’s biggest distortions.

    • Let Truth Prevail

      10 suspected militants were killed in fresh airstrikes in Boya and Digan area, an Army release said on 8th September.

    • Those Who’ve Seen Bloodshed Warn of Endless, Brutal War in Iraq

      For more than a month, Dakheel Ahmed’s family has been living under a bridge in northern Iraq. They are members of Iraq’s Yazidi minority sect, and each night they sleep in the open surrounded by others like them. The families have nowhere else to go. They were displaced earlier this summer when Islamic State — the well-funded, ultra-violent militant group alternately known as IS, ISIS or ISIL — swept into their country, took over major cities, and declared the Yazidis devil worshipers who could either convert to their brand of radical Islam or die.

    • Drones to fly at Reno air races

      A new kind of aircraft is competing for the first time at this week’s National Championship Air Races in Reno: drones.

      More than 200,000 people are expected to attend the annual air races, which ends a five-day run Sunday. The three-day drone competition, called the Small UAS Challenge, ends Sunday, as well.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Corporate Media: Don’t Worry, Be Fracking

      A new study shows that gas leaks from wells associated with the controversial drilling technique known as fracking are responsible for water contamination. Over at Think Progress (9/15/14), the study was summarized under the headline “Study Links Water Contamination to Fracking Operations in Texas and Pennsylvania.”

    • Things Are Bad in the Good Old U.S. of A.

      This weekend is the People’s Climate March, which will almost certainly be the largest climate march in U.S. history. It is more than just a march about the environment, though, it is an opportunity to begin building a mass movement, one that has the potential to radically change the course of U.S. politics. As all of us living through this increasingly dire period of American history know, environmental devastation is just one of the many serious problems we currently face.

  • Finance

    • Sony quadruples annual loss expectations as smartphone sales falter

      These widening losses are due to the firm’s faltering smartphone business, with the firm admitting that it is struggling to match sales seen by Apple and Samsung, as well as Chinese and Asian smartphone makers like Xiaomi, which are offering fully-fledged handsets at lower prices than most.

  • Privacy

    • New e-mail shows “stingray” maker may have lied to FCC back in 2010

      A newly published e-mail from 2010 shows that Harris Corporation, one of the best-known makers of cellular surveillance systems, told the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) that its purpose “is only to provide state/local law enforcement officials with authority to utilize this equipment in emergency situations.”

      That e-mail was among 27 pages of e-mails that were part of the company’s application to get FCC authorization to sell the device in the United States. Neither the FCC nor Harris Corporation immediately responded to Ars’ request for comment, and Harris traditionally stays mum on its operations.

    • Rogue cell towers discovered in Washington, D.C.

      Towards the end of July, ESD America, the makers of the ultra-secure CryptoPhone, said that their engineers and customers had discovered more than a dozen rogue cell towers (also known as interceptors or IMSI catchers) around the U.S.

  • Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • As three million comment on net neutrality, the FCC adjusts its plans

      With AT&T already banning Apple users from using Facetime on its network, and Verizon settling out of court to avoid an investigation of traffic shaping for its mobile data customers, there is already some conflict on the issue that the FCC could be about to turn to its advantage. However, we won’t know until the FCC announces its decision.

    • Why Hasn’t The Obama Administration Weighed In On The FCC’s Net Neutrality Comment Period?

      Marvin Ammori has a good article over at Slate questioning why the Obama White House does not appear to have submitted comments with the FCC concerning net neutrality. As you know by now, the FCC received over 3 million comments when the commenting period finally closed on Monday — but so far, it does not appear that the Obama administration weighed in (it’s possible that not all comments are in the database yet, but still…).

    • More Than 3 Million Told the FCC What They Think About Net Neutrality. Why Hasn’t Obama?

      The FCC has received more than 3 million comments on Commissioner Tom Wheeler’s controversial plan to rethink net neutrality. If the last couple of million comments are anything like the first 1.1 million, 99 percent of commenters were strongly in favor of protecting net neutrality. They include startups, small businesses, artists, and small- and medium-size broadband providers, among many others.

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Pirate Bay Founder “Will Wear Handcuffs” to Carry Father’s Coffin

        After succumbing to a long illness, Peter Sunde’s father has passed away. While the Pirate Bay founder will be allowed to attend the funeral, prison staff have told him he can expect to carry the coffin while wearing handcuffs. For someone convicted of copyright offenses with just 50 days of his sentence left, it’s an unpalatable threat.

      • Copyright Holders Want Netflix to Ban VPN Users

        If copyright holders get their way it will soon be impossible to access Netflix though a VPN service. The entertainment industry companies are calling for a ban on privacy services as that opens the door to foreign pirates.

Web Site ‘Patent Progress’ Now Officially ‘Powered by CCIA’ (FRAND Proponent, Microsoft Front)

Posted in Patents at 7:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ed Black
Source: DECLAN MCCULLAGH PHOTOGRAPHY

Summary: After talking a job at CCIA, “Patent Progress” and its chief author should be treated as dubious on real patent progress

EARLIER this year and last year we warned about a site that calls itself “Patent Progress”.

The new (redesigned) “Patent Progress” now states “Powered by CCIA”, which is funny given CCIA‘s track record when it comes to patents. One of my followers in Twitter said: “Funny use of the words “Powered by” – could think of a move accurate phrase, like “A front for”…”

CCIA is a Microsoft-funded front/lobby group; it has been paid millions of dollars by Microsoft (Ed Black would know where his money comes from).

Over the years, and especially in recent years (after Microsoft payments), CCIA echoed a lot of Microsoft’s agenda and there has not been much for CCIA to say about the demise of software patents in the United States after the Supreme Court's decision. The site does, however, say a lot about trolls and this new post says: “The Supreme Court ruled in a couple of cases, Iqbal and Twombly, that a complaint has to have enough facts in it to support the legal claims. But, thanks to a Federal Circuit decision, that rule doesn’t apply in patent cases. The Federal Circuit relied on Form 18 in making its decision.”

CCIA remains a FRAND booster (hence anti-Free software) that would rather talk about trolls (except Microsoft) than about patent scope. At Dennis Crouch’s blog there is a new guest post from Professor Jorge L. Contreras, who says about FRAND: “There has been a fair amount of controversy recently over commitments that patent holders make to license patents on terms that are “fair, reasonable and non-discriminatory” (FRAND). As I have previously written here and here, FRAND commitments generally arise when a patent holder wishes to assure the marketplace that it will not seek to block implementation of a common technology platform or product interoperability standard. Making such a public commitment encourages widespread adoption of these technologies, which is often beneficial for both the patent holder and the market. As such, it is important that these commitments be enforced.”

But what about exclusion of Free software? Contreras continues: “I am not arguing, of course, that FRAND commitments should not be enforced. I feel quite the opposite, and have argued that these promises form an important subset of a larger category of “patent pledges” that ought to be enforced for the benefit of the market. However, there are many more sound and coherent theories for enforcing patent pledges, and FRAND commitments in particular, than common law contract. These include various antitrust and competition law approaches, which have been advanced by the FTC and others, as well as my personal favorite, a modified variant of promissory estoppel that I call “market reliance”. The market reliance theory is grounded in the fact that patent pledges are promises, whether or not they fulfill the requirements of common law contract, and promises ought to be enforced. The theory overcomes the requirement that specific and actual reliance be proved in promissory estoppel cases by introducing a presumption of reliance based on the “fraud on the market” theory used in Federal securities law.”

How about getting rid of software patents altogether? That would eliminate the need for FRAND in software. Being a lawyers’ site, however (same as “Patent Progress”), don’t expect these people to be too technical or to represent the views/interests of non-lawyers.

A somewhat better site, IP Troll Tracker, seems uplifted by news about USPTO arranging an event today. As Steph put it, “here we are two-plus years later and what has the USPTO gone and done? Set up a webinar to help business owners find relief from patent litigation. It’s all right here in their flyer. And if you’ll look closely on their list of resources for people who’ve been sued, you will find a familiar link.”

If the USPTO is serious about reducing litigation, then it will raise the bar and stop issuing a patent for almost every application that comes in. Thankfully things are changing for the better as even the USPTO has begun rejecting software patents based on the now-famous SCOTUS ruling from the summer. New guidelines were issued for examiners (one of whom is the wife of the man who operates “Patent Progress”).

Remember to view “Patent Progress” as what it really is; it’s a lawyers’ site run and powered by a front group that is funded by Microsoft and mirrors some of Microsoft’s policies. Names of sites can be deceiving, misnomers even.

Articles About the Death of Software Patents in the United States

Posted in Patents at 6:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

American cemetery

Summary: Recent coverage of software patents and their demise in their country of origin, where even proponents of software patents are giving up

THE NEWS has been largely positive when it comes to patents — positive and good in the sense that software patents are dying. Today we give a motivational summary.

Jeff John Roberts says that “After a key Supreme Court decision this summer, courts are shredding software patents and trolls”. Yes, he too mentioned the effect on patent trolls, as we highlighted in the previous post. The article speaks for itself and it starts by alluding to the pointless “reform”. Jeff John Roberts says: “Patent reform failed in Congress this year but a spec of hope has arrived in the form of a spate of court decisions in which courts are deciding that so-called inventions can’t be patented because they are old and abstract ideas.”

Here is a useful summary from Dennis Crouch, who gave a list of cases to watch:

The Supreme Court’s decisions from Alice and Mayo are beginning to really have their impact. A few examples:

Walker Digital v. Google (D. Del. September 2014) (data processing patent invalid under 101 as an abstract idea) (Judge Stark).

Genetic Tech v. LabCorp and 23AndMe (D. Del. September 2014) (method of predicting human performance based upon genetic testing invalid under 101 as a law of nature) (report and recommendation from Magistrate Judge to Judge Stark)

Ex parte Cote (P.T.A.B. August 2014) (computer method and hardware for ‘phase shifting’ design data invalid under 101)

Ex parte Jung (P.T.A.B. August 2014) (diagnostic method associated with epigenetic risk factors invalid under 101).

“Supreme Court ruling has wiped out 11 “do it on a computer” patents so far” and “balance of power is changing as courts vigorously apply Alice v. CLS Bank,” says Joe Mullin. Excellent article.

“If Alice v CLS is the game-changer some believe, software patent values may be about to collapse,” states the headline from one of the most extreme pro-software patents Web sites, IAM Magazine. So even the other side is admitting defeat. Here is one of the most vocal proponents of software patents saying: “Lemley and I share the opinion that Alice v. CLS Bank represents a significant change in the law relevant to software patents. To my surprise this truth is not understood or appreciated by many in the patent community.”

He has some other articles to that effect. The important thing is, even some of the leading proponents of software patents are unable to deny the undeniable. Here is Fox Rothschild LLP (law firm), with typos/incorrect English at the end, stating: “The USPTO is continuing to issue patents for software-related inventions that are assigned to it’s non-business-method examining units, so it’s clear that at least some software remains eligible for patenting. However, it’s also clear that new and potentially significant challenges are now in place for those who want to obtain or enforce software patents in the future.”

Timothy B. Lee. a longtime opponent of software patents, says that “Software patents are crumbling, thanks to the Supreme Court”. To quote his analysis: “The Supreme Court’s June ruling on the patentability of software — its first in 33 years — raised as many questions as it answered. One specific software patent went down in flames in the case of Alice v. CLS Bank, but the abstract reasoning of the decision didn’t provide much clarity on which other patents might be in danger.

“Now a series of decisions from lower courts is starting to bring the ruling’s practical consequences into focus. And the results have been ugly for fans of software patents. By my count there have been 11 court rulings on the patentability of software since the Supreme Court’s decision — including six that were decided this month. Every single one of them has led to the patent being invalidated.”

Days later Lee also published the article “You can’t patent movies or music. So why are there software patents?”

To quote Lee: “As the courts increasingly flirt with excluding software from patent protection, a common argument from software patent supporters is that wholesale abolition of software patents is a crude way to deal with the system’s problems. The legal scholar John Duffy is the latest to take this line, decrying abolition as a “brute-force ‘reform’” that has proven to be “profoundly shortsighted.”

“But the reality is that everyone thinks certain kinds of innovation should be excluded from patent protection. The only disagreement is whether software should be on the list. For example, though you can copyright a specific movie or a song recording, you can’t patent the general concept of the buddy comedy or the verse-chorus-verse pop song structure. And hardly anyone wants to change that.”

An article by Mike Masnick, another vocal opponent of software patents, is titled “Be Happy: Software Patents Are Rapidly Disappearing Thanks To The Supreme Court” and “Software patents dying out in US” is another headline to keep a record of. Some of the most popular lawyers’ sites are prepared to acknowledge this.

We are very happy to see lots of articles (from high-reputation sources) about software patents dying, especially this week and earlier this month. This isn’t fantasy; it’s really happening!

The Death of Software Patents is Already Killing Some Major Patent Trolls

Posted in Patents at 6:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Danger

Summary: VirnetX seems to be the latest victim of the demise of software patents in the United States

IT was exceptionally pleasant to see this new article titled “And with them so go the trolls? Software patents are crumbling, thanks to the Supreme Court” (recommended article from UK Progressive).

The article correctly states: ‘The Supreme Court’s June ruling on the patentability of software — its first in 33 years — raised as many questions as it answered. One specific software patent went down in flames in the case of Alice v. CLS Bank, but the abstract reasoning of the decision didn’t provide much clarity on which other patents might be in danger.

“Now a series of decisions from lower courts is starting to bring the ruling’s practical consequences into focus. And the results have been ugly for fans of software patents. By my count there have been 11 court rulings on the patentability of software since the Supreme Court’s decision — including six that were decided this month. Every single one of them has led to the patent being invalidated.”

Indeed.

We shall cover this matter in another (later) post. There’s lots of coverage on the topic. The important point there is that since patent trolls have been so reliant on software patents the death of the latter kills or significantly weakens the former. We wrote about this for years, stressing that the goal should be to eliminate software patents, not just trolls who use them (big corporations like Microsoft and Apple use software patents offensively as well).

Yesterday in the news there was a lot of analysis about a VPN software patent. Dennis Crouch asked:

Is VPN Software Patent Eligible?

An E.D. Texas jury sided with the patentee VirnetX — finding that the four asserted patents are not-invalid and that Apple’s VPN-On-Demand and FaceTime products infringe. The jury then awarded $350 million in damages. On appeal, Apple presented a number of winning arguments that, in the end, result in only a partial victory because some of the claims remain valid and infringed. After altering claim construction of the term “secure communication link”, the jury will re-determine whether FaceTime infringes and recalculate damages.

Crouch posted this in light of the news about VirnetX, a patent trolls which has just lost and collapsed:

A top appeals court has thrown out a jury ruling that ordered Apple to pay $368 million to VirnetX, a patent-holding company that many consider a “patent troll” because it exists exclusively to enforce patents. On Tuesday, the United States Federal Circuit Court of Appeals remanded the decision back to the lower federal court in East Texas.

We wrote about VirnetX many times before and we also wrote about Vringo. Both are using software patents to shake down large companies and BusinessWeek is comparing their fates in this new article:

VirnetX Holding Corp. (VHC:US) lost almost half its market value yesterday after an appeals court threw out its $368.2 million damage award against Apple Inc. and lessened the chances of a big payday when the case returns to the trial court. Last month, Vringo Inc. (VRNG:US) plunged 72 percent after the same court tossed a $30.5 million verdict against Google Inc.

In a later post we are going to show just to what degree software patents are truly dying in the United States. This is excellent news all around. Free software is winning on many fronts.

More Microsoft Layoffs

Posted in Microsoft at 5:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mouse

Summary: More Microsoft layoffs go ahead as the company is unable to compete

Microsoft’s acquisition of Minecraft (probably using shares rather than real money) is baffling a lot of people and Wired calls it a sign of “desperation”. Something must be terribly wrong if Microsoft claims to be spending billions of dollars on some lousy game while laying off a lot of existing staff.

More Microsoft layoffs are now being confirmed, according to Microsoft’s unofficial spokesperson Mary Jo Foley, who wrote:

Microsoft will continue with its planned layoffs of 18,000 with job cuts across nearly all divisions of the company with its second wave of cuts later this week.

Earlier this year when we covered the latest Microsoft layoffs we showed that it was not about Nokia; the layoffs go well beyond Nokia and these recent layoffs may be part of a bigger wave to come because Microsoft struggles in many areas of its business.

Microsoft has destroyed many jobs when it engaged in criminal activities that sank rivals; a lot of ethical jobs would be created if Microsoft declared bankruptcy.

ODF on the Rise

Posted in OpenDocument at 5:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yellow folder

Summary: Milestones for OpenDocument Format (ODF) and the launch of FixMyDocuments

THE UK has moved to adopt ODF and the world at large is gradually embracing real standards. Andy Updegrove wrote about OpenForum Europe and Rob Weir wrote about ISO approval of ODF 1.2 last night:

OASIS ODF 1.2, the current version of the Open Document Format standard, was approved by ISO/IEC JTC1 National Bodies after a 3-month Publicly Available Specification (PAS) ballot. The final vote for DIS 26300 was: 17-0 for Parts 1 and 2, and 18-0 for Part 3.

More interestingly, now emerges a campaign called FixMyDocument, which Glyn Moody wrote about yesterday [1]. It is a campaign in favour of ODF and it has already got some big backing, including explicit backing from Neelie Kroes [2,3,4]. Go there now and sign the declaration. Supporting FixMyDocuments only takes about 20 seconds and it sends out an important message.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. FixMyDocument and Global Legislative Openness

    Back in July, I wrote about the huge win for open standards when the UK government announced that it would be adopting ODF for sharing or collaborating on government documents. I also implored the open community to support this initiative in every way it could to ensure that it took root and maybe even spread. So I’m delighted to see that Open Forum Europe has done just that with a new site called FixMyDocument.eu. (Although I am a “fellow” of the associated Open Forum Academy, I had nothing to do with this.) Here’s how it explains the initiative:

  2. Neelie Kroes Supports ODF In Government

    Locking in one’s self to doing things M$’s way is not smart. It’s stupid, especially when we know it’s a trap M$ deliberately created to keep it’s cash cow pouring milk into M$’s pail.

  3. Open document formats campaign backed by Europe’s digital commissioner

    European government agencies should adopt open document formats in their dealings with citizens, outgoing European Commissioner for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes has urged.

  4. EC Commissioner Kroes supports ODF campaign

    European Commissioner and Vice President for the Digital Agenda Neelie Kroes supports the FixMyDocuments campaign that is urging Europe’s public administrations to make better use of open document formats. The campaigners aim to get public administrations to publish their documents in open formats that can be read and manipulated by anyone, without imposing the use of software from any particular vendor. The campaigners are pushing the authorities to use the Open Document Format (ODF).

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