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06.10.15

Links 10/6/2015: New Krita/Calligra and Clonezilla

Posted in News Roundup at 4:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Blockstream to Release First Open Source Code for Sidechains

    Blockstream has announced it will release an open source codebase and testing environment for its signature sidechains project.

  • Huawei Certified to Offer Apache Spark Open Source Big Data Processing Framework

    Huawei, this week announced that it has become the first global ICT vendor to obtain certification by Databricks for distribution of the Apache Spark open source big data processing framework. Databricks, a company founded by the creators of Spark, has developed the “Certified Spark Distribution” program to highlight and recognize third party vendors distributing Spark. Leveraging the high-performance big data computing architecture and the complete ecosystem of Spark, the Huawei-Spark platform is designed to help customers realize the full potential of data assets to drive agile operation and business innovation.

  • Teradata to Advance Big Data Analytics with Support for Presto Open Source SQL Query Engine

    To help users extract insights from data lakes,Teradata has made a multi-year commitment to contribute to Presto’s open source development. Based on a three-part roadmap, Teradata’s says its contributions will be 100% open source under the Apache license and will advance Presto’s code base, scalability, iterative querying, and ability to query multiple data repositories.

  • Why an open web is important for India

    Priyanka Nag is a technical writer for Red Hat and Mozilla Rep from India. Priyanka has been contributing to open source projects for the past four years. She started by editing Wikipedia pages, and then was introduced to Mozilla during an event at her college. She says that Mozilla was love at first sight, and soon after she became a Mozillian, she was hooked on the project. Now Priyanka is also a regular speaker at community events in India. I recently caught up with Priyanka to learn more about her work in the Mozilla Community and her thoughts on the importance of the open web in India.

  • What TODO means for open source community

    Open source software is not just meant for still-struggling start-ups that can’t afford to pay the licensing fees for proprietary software, and budget-conscious, modest small-to-medium-sized businesses (SMEs) hoping to cut down on IT costs. This was proven in late September when several major companies – running the gamut from technology, right through to retail and media – came together to form the TODO project.

  • 8 excellent open source data visualization tools

    Data visualization is the mechanism of taking tabular or spatial data and conveying it in a human-friendly and visual way. There are several open source tools that can help you create useful, informative graphs. In this post we will take a look at eight open source, data visualization tools.

  • Wine Will Migrate Away from SourceForge

    If you’re reading the news lately, you might know that the SourceForge project hosting website has been accused of hijacking open-source software that have been abandoned by their maintainers or did not have some activity for an extended period of time.

  • The Cloud vs. Open Source

    For years, Linux and free software were perceived as threatened by cloud computing, the online storage of data. However, over the last few years, something ironic happened — free software became a major player in cloud computing.

  • Events

    • Graphics Microconference Accepted into 2015 Linux Plumbers Conference

      Although the Year of the Linux Desktop has yet to arrive, a surprising number of Linux users nevertheless need graphics support. This is because there have been a number of years of the Linux smartphone, the Linux television, the Linux digital sign/display/billboard, the Linux automobile, and more. This microconference will cover a number of topics including atomic modesetting in KMS, buffer allocation, verified-secure graphics pipelines, fencing and synchronisation, Wayland, and more.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla responds to Firefox user backlash over Pocket integration

        Pocket is a service for managing a reading list of online articles (it allows you to save stories, videos, and websites to check out later). Pocket is already offered as a Firefox add-on, and although Mozilla was developing a homegrown Reading List feature for the browser, the company decided to simply integrate Pocket directly into Firefox.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Cisco, IBM Bet Big on OpenStack

      Cisco and IBM are doubling down on OpenStack, hoping “the result lets them develop a solution that will scale. Neither company is yet willing to abandon OpenStack, and both feel there’s still a solution in it someplace,” said tech analyst Rob Enderle. By acquiring Piston Cloud Computing and Blue Box Cloud, they “may correct some of the problems with OpenStack, which should improve penetration.”

  • Business

  • Funding

    • Rancher Labs is the Latest to Cash in on Container Technology

      Container technology remains red hot and VC money is flowing toward it. Rancher Labs, a startup developing Docker infrastructure software, has announced $10 million in Series A funding from Mayfield and Nexus Venture Partners. “With the rapid adoption of container technology, the company’s open source software has grown in popularity by allowing organizations to run containers in production, across any cloud,” Rancher Labs’ leaders have stated.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Dutch government agency switches core services to open source

      Public administrations that switch to open source regain financial scalability, says Jan-Taeke Schuilenga, IT architect at DUO, the Dutch government agency managing the financing of the country’s educational institutions. “We had reached the limit of proprietary licence possibilities. Switching to open source gave us freedom of choice.”

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Licensing Standards that Include Code: Heads or Tails?

      Once upon a time, standards were standards and open source software was open source software (OSS), and the only thing people worried about was whether the copyright and patent rules relating to the standards would prevent them from being implemented in OSS. Actually, that was complicated enough, but it seems simple in comparison now that OSS is being included in the standards themselves. Now what?

      If this sounds unusual and exotic, it isn’t. In fact, code has been creeping into standards for years, often without the keepers of the intellectual property rights (IPR) Policies governing the standards even being aware of it.

Leftovers

  • Security

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Republicans Trashed Democracy in Michigan. Now They Want To Trash It in Your State, Too.

      One city neglected to inform its residents that its water supply was laced with cancerous chemicals. Another dissolved its public school district and replaced it with a charter school system, only to witness the for-profit management company it hired flee the scene after determining it couldn’t turn a profit. Numerous cities and school districts in the state are now run by single, state-appointed technocrats, as permitted under an emergency financial manager law pushed through by Rick Snyder, Michigan’s austerity-promoting governor. This legislation not only strips residents of their local voting rights, but gives Snyder’s appointee the power to do just about anything, including dissolving the city itself—all (no matter how disastrous) in the name of “fiscal responsibility.”

    • 5 Ways Powerful People Trick You Into Hating Protesters

      Let’s say that tomorrow you are elected Secret Ruler of the USA, a position that gives you total power over the government, economy, and the culture at large — everything that hippies refer to as “the system.” Now, your first job is to not get beheaded by rioting peasants, which means your first job is really to maintain “stability” (i.e., “keeping things mostly the way they are”).

      Immediately you’ll find that you’re facing a never-ending stream of protests from disgruntled groups who say they’re being treated unfairly or otherwise getting left out — this group over here is upset that somebody got abused by the police; this other bunch is demanding better wages or something. How do you handle it? Sure, you could crush their movements with an iron fist, using violence to kill, intimidate or arrest their most vocal members. But that can backfire, often turning them into martyrs and proving them right in the process — you’ve seen Star Wars; somebody always finds the exhaust port.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Why Did It Take the Pentagon a Month to Figure Out Its Files Were Compromised?

      Edward Snowden’s leaks exposed a federal government unable to protect its most sensitive secrets.

    • Feds Must Encrypt Government Websites by Dec. 2016

      The White House now requires all publicly accessible federal websites and services to use a secure HTTPS connection.

      Government agencies have until Dec. 31, 2016 to comply with the new HTTPS-Only Standard directive.

      Unencrypted HTTP connections “create a vulnerability and expose potentially sensitive information about users,” U.S. Chief Information Officer Tony Scott said in this week’s announcement. That includes data like browser identity, website content, search terms, and other user-submitted details.

    • Obama lawyers asked secret court to ignore public court’s decision on spying

      The Obama administration has asked a secret surveillance court to ignore a federal court that found bulk surveillance illegal and to once again grant the National Security Agency the power to collect the phone records of millions of Americans for six months.

      The legal request, filed nearly four hours after Barack Obama vowed to sign a new law banning precisely the bulk collection he asks the secret court to approve, also suggests that the administration may not necessarily comply with any potential court order demanding that the collection stop.

    • French Surveillance Bill: Public Liberties Abandoned as Senators Cast Disastrous Vote

      The Surveillance Bill was adopted today by the French Senate with 251 votes for, 68 against and 26 abstentions. This bill was fast tracked and discussed under the pressure of a government wielding the argument of an extreme terrorist risk to impose massive spying of the French population with expansive purposes. It will put France under a surveillance all at once diffuse, intrusive, indiscriminate and without effective control. La Quadrature du Net bitterly regrets the blindness of the French Parliamentarians and calls on citizens not to give up on their liberties.

  • Civil Rights

    • Six lies they told me about the anti-Israel boycott

      The bulk of recent incidents concerning the anti-Israel boycott, which are mainly symbolic for now, could have served as a warning sign. But a mixture of nationalistic and false statements is blinding the Israeli public and preventing a real discussion of the issue. Here are a few examples.

    • British tourist Eleanor Hawkins arrested for naked photo on top of Malaysian mountain

      A British woman arrested in Malaysia for posing naked on top of a sacred mountain has been named as Eleanor Hawkins.

      The 24-year-old Southampton University graduate from Derby was detained on Tuesday at Tawau airport, as she was flying out from the island of Borneo to the capital, Kuala Lumpur.

    • Theresa May Condemns Majid Ali and Defies Scotland

      Despite numerous representations and an Early Day Motion signed by the large majority of Scotland’s MPs, Theresa May has ordered that Majid Ali, a Glasgow City College student, be deported back to almost certain torture and probable death in Pakistan in just twenty minutes from now. I attended the demonstration on his behalf yesterday at the Scottish Office.

      Majid is a member of the much persecuted Baloch minority. Two of his immediate family have been “disappeared” by the Pakistani military since his asylum application was submitted. There is no doubt that given the numerous MP’s who have raised his case, and the well-supported early day motion, civil servants will have put the decision to May personally. She was however not even prepared to grant a delay for a look at the evidence. May is very likely not merely pandering to the racist UKIP voting electorate – she is on the far right of politics herself. The callous sacrifice of Majid Ali is proof, if any more were needed, that this Conservative administration is nothing to do with Cameron’s purported “compassionate conservatism.” They are the nasty party indeed.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • EU Commission Tries to Rip Citizens Off Net Neutrality

      The European Commission attacks Net Neutrality again, by introducing a “compromise document” that refuses to enshrine a definition of this crucial principle into the law. A strong coalition including the EU Council, the European Commission and a handful of MEPs is working against the general interest by including loopholes that will be used by the telecom lobby to circumvent the proposed protections against discrimination, thereby undermining fundamental rights and innovation.

    • EU digi-chief to meet ministers and sort out the net neutrality thing

      Gaffe-prone Gunther H-dot, Europe’s digital chief, has waded into the net neutrality debate once again, but has vowed to sort everything out in a meeting with national ministers next Friday.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • EU vice-president: Copyright legislation is “pushing people to steal”

        Andrus Ansip, the European Commission’s Vice-President for the Digital Single Market, has admitted that EU copyright law is “pushing people to steal,” because they seek out illegal copies of works that are not available to them legally because of the widespread use of geoblocking in Europe.

      • Elsevier Cracks Down on Pirated Scientific Articles

        Academic publishing company Elsevier has filed a complaint at a New York District Court, hoping to shut down the Library Genesis project and the SciHub.org search engine. The sites, which are particularly popular in developing nations where access to academic works is relatively expensive, are accused of pirating millions of scientific articles.

      • Kim Dotcom’s MegaNet Preps Jan 2016 Crowdfunding Campaign

        Kim Dotcom’s dream of a people-powered, censorship-resistant Internet will rely on the goodwill of supporters to get off the ground. In an announcement this morning, the entrepreneur confirmed that his MegaNet project will seek equity via a crowd-funding campaign set to launch on the January 2016 anniversary of the raid on Megaupload.

More European Politicians Pressure and Sometimes Slam the European Patent Office (EPO) Amid New Scandals

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Elżbieta Bieńkowska
Elżbieta Bieńkowska – Photo by Adam Nurkiewicz, CC BY-SA 3.0

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) cannot catch a breath these days, as its management comes under yet more fire from more directions and more nations

EARLIER this year we wrote about French politicians' complaints about Benoît Battistelli, taking note of French Senator Jean-Yves Leconte’s letters [1, 2] and Philip Cordery’s letters.

“EPO criticism is acceptable and popular now.”Mr. Cordery has some new letters [PDF], whose French originals were posted in his site. As SUEPO put it: “Earlier in February, Philip Cordery, member of the French Parliament, had published an article criticising the “antisocial policy of the EPO” and sent a letter to European Commisionner [sic] Elzbieta Bienkowska calling upon her to intervene. Philip Cordery has now published the letter of reply (printable version) from Elzbieta Bienkowska.”

Here is Bienkowska‘s (of Poland) response in English:

Brussels, 28.05.2015

Dear Sir,

I wish to thank you for your letter of 20 February last, informing me of your concerns with regard to the social climate which is presently prevailing at the European Patent Office (EPO).

The European Patent Organization (the “Organization”), of which the EPO is the executive body, is an independent international institution, which has no organic links with the European Union. Apart from the EPO, it is composed of a legislative body, the Administrative Council, on which sit the representatives of the States which constitute the Organization (38 States, of which 28 are Member States of the European Union), whose task is, in particular, to monitor the activity of the EPO, for which the President assumes responsibility. The Commission has only the role of an observer within this assembly. I have been informed of the social tensions which have transpired between the management of the EPO and the staff representatives, and which have been widely reported in the press.

As you point out in your letter, the EPO will be in charge of the issue and management of the Unitary European Patent. With this in mind, I have issued instructions to my staff who represent the European Commission as observers on the Administrative Council to monitor the developments of the situation closely.

I have also requested the President of the EPO to make every effort to return to a constructive social dialogue.

In this respect, I have welcomed with interest the initiatives which have been recently announced, and the determination of the Administrative Council of the EPO to address this matter as an issue of priority.

I hope that this will be the harbinger of a process of sustained return to a social dialogue of appropriate quality within the EPO.

Yours faithfully

Elżbieta Bieńkowska

Considering the previous cowardly approach of the European Commission (or that of the European Parliament), this can be considered another small escalation. They are at least intervening this time. It puts pressure on the EPO.

Today, as already noted in our previous post, we increasingly see European politicians taking more shots at the EPO’s legitimacy, partly motivated by media coverage that has made them aware of the issues and much better informed. In our humble assessment, EPO management is very much concerned about the European media. We’ve always been getting the vibe that it’s the media which they fear more than disgruntled staff. It’s the media that’s being attacked. EPO criticism is acceptable and popular now. It’s not the subject of taboo anymore and journalists are not so afraid of retribution, for which the EPO had become infamous (or notorious).

Incidentally, the recent events pertaining to patents in Europe have gotten the attention of corporate media in the United States. Hosuk Lee-Makiyama writes: “Europe continues to compete with the United States and Asia in the high-tech global economy, both through business and government. Intellectual property in particular is a contentious issue that has continued to divide Europe ever since its grassroots derailed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) in 2012. But with patent reform a major political priority in the United States, and countries like China modernizing their intellectual property systems, Europe’s IP regime risks falling behind. This decline has lessons for the United States, as Congressional leaders embark on the latest round of U.S. patent reform.”

At the moment, the US patent system really needs a reform because it is more out of control than the EU system. But if we do nothing to stop Benoît Battistelli and his ilk, things in Europe are about to get worse very rapidly. Things are already getting worse; UPC is just the beginning of that.

“They [EPO examiners] claim that the organisation is decentralising and focusing on granting as many patents as possible to gain financially from fees generated.” —Expatica, European Patent Office staff on strike

Euros

EPO Comes Under Fire From the Bavarian Data Protection Supervisor After the Spying Scandal

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gothenburg

Summary: The European Patent Office (EPO) has just come under fire from the political establishment in Germany

TECHRIGHTS published 5 articles about the EPO yesterday (surely an all-time high), including two articles about keyloggers that the EPO is using. SUEPO’s public site heralds right now that “EPO hits the news in Germany” because of the “Spy scandal”.

Süddeutsche has just published another article (it wrote about the EPO several times before). “Bavarian Data Protection Supervisor calls for external oversight at the EPO,” wrote Wikinaut about the article, citing Süddeutsche (again) with today’s big article.

The EPO’s management is being very naughty with this tactless last resort to blackhat surveillance methods. Comments in IP Kat focus on who was aware/involved and ultimately who is accountable. When will the German police get involved? It’s clear who the criminal is; it’s clear whose favour the courts ruled in; it’s clear who’s not obeying the law.

A translation of the Süddeutsche article would be very much appreciated, if any of our German-speaking readers are able to provide it (e.g. post it in the comments below).

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