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ODF News: ODF 1.2, European Support for ODF, LibreOffice and More

Posted in News Roundup, Office Suites, OpenDocument at 3:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


  • ODF 1.2 Submitted to ISO

    Last Wednesday, March 26th, on Document Freedom Day, OASIS submitted Open Document Format 1.2 standard to the ISO/IEC JTC1 Secretariat for transposition to an International Standard under the Publicly Available Specification (PAS) procedure.

  • ODF vs. OOXML: War of the Words Chapter 5: Open Standards

    Plug.and.socket 142One of the two articles of faith that Eric Kriss and Peter Quinn embraced in drafting their evolving Enterprise Technical Reference Model (ETRM) was this: products built to “open standards” are more desirable than those that aren’t. Superficially, the concept made perfect sense – only buy products that you can mix and match. That way, you can take advantage of both price competition as well as a wide selection of alternative products from multiple vendors, each with its own value-adding features. And if things don’t work out, well, you’re not locked in, and can swap out the loser and shop for a winner.


  • Galicia recommends use of Open Document Format
  • Call to fix interoperability of office suites

    Last week Monday, five European public administrations published a new call for tender, to further improve interoperability between free and open source office suites and the ubiquitous proprietary alternative. This is the second time that the German cities of Munich, Leipzig and Jena, the Swiss Federal Court and the Swiss Federal IT Steering Unit have issued such a call. ICT specialists have until 30 April to submit proposals.

    The office suites’ interoperability project is again managed by the OSB Alliance, a trade group representing open source service providers from Austria, Germany and Switzerland.

    According the alliance’s press release, one of the main features to be developed concerns change tracking between open source and proprietary office suites. The public administrations issuing the call want to improve the specification of change tracking, and make this part of the Open Document Format ISO standard.

  • South Tyrol governor: ‘EC, use open formats’

    Such a policy would help the South Tyrol government in its new IT approach, increasing its use of ICT solutions based on free and open source, the governor says.

    South Tyrol’s new policy was announced on 11 March. Responding to emailed questions, Governor Kompatscher said that the region is in favour of using free and open source solutions not only for new IT solutions, but also when upgrading existing IT components. “We’ve started to review our license costs. If there are free and open source alternatives, and where the costs and risks of changing are justified, we will switch to these.”



  • New Document Liberation Project aims to free users from vendor lock-in

    The Document Foundation (TDF) has announced the Document Liberation Project, in an effort to empower individuals, organizations, and governments to recover their data from proprietary formats and offer a mechanism to transition that data into open file formats.

  • 4 Spreadsheet Alternatives to MS Excel

    There was a time when office compatibility was a bit of a problem on Linux, but with the latest office suites out there available for Linux, this is not an issue anymore. The applications here mimic MS Excel’s behavior, so switching to one of them should be pretty straightforward. Exporting and importing to and from MS Excel format works as well, and there aren’t many compatibility issues (however, the native format these programs use is the OpenDocument Spreadsheet (ODS) format.

eGov News: Moves to Free/Libre Software

Posted in News Roundup at 3:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz



Continental Europe

  • EU institutions accused of doing nothing to free themselves from dependence on Microsoft

    The European Commission and European Parliament are doing nothing to rid themselves of their dependance on Microsoft, two lobby groups said Wednesday, Document Freedom Day.

    The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) and Open Forum Europe urged EU institutions to support open standards in an open letter to Giancarlo Vilella, president of the European Parliament’s Directorate-General for Innovation and Technological Support. He also chairs the body that coordinates IT activities for government agencies including Parliament, the Commission and the Council of the E.U.

  • A council of hope – the free software column

    For most organisations the primary reason for moving from Windows to Linux is perceived cost savings. The secondary reasons are factors such as interoperability and greater compliance with standards, which themselves bring longer- term cost benefits. Unlocking interfaces and data from vendor lock-ins may be rather time consuming and costly in the short term, but doing so brings considerable cost and efficiency pay-offs in the long term.

    One of the payoffs for the City Council, other German councils, the Linux community and other interested parties, has been the development of LiMux, the German language Linux distribution which has since been approved as an official distribution by the German government. The work of Munich will make it easier for others to follow.

    In an ideal world, LiMux would provide a model that would inspire more government-sponsored IT projects in the UK, which are all too often outsourced to proprietary interests. Whether it does or not, is yet to be seen.

  • Dutch municipality group adopts and fosters open source

    The TYPO3 CMS project has a long history as open source project, with its foundation going back as far as 1997 when it was initially developed by Danish Kasper Skårhøj. Currently, the TYPO3 project has a solid foundation in Europe. Large cooperations like Deutsche Bank, Airbus, Air France, as well as, universities and non-governmental organizations like Food and Agriculture Organization, Greenpeace, and Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons run on the TYPO3 CMS.

National Geospatial Intelligence Agency

  • NGA releases open source code on GitHub

    The National Geospatial Intelligence Agency did a first for a U.S. intelligence agency by opening an account on open source site GitHub earlier this month.



  • Pursuing adoption of free and open source software in governments

    LibrePlanet examines our modern technological society and finds much to criticize. But it is not a crabfest for frustrated policy wonks: these people are making new tools in hardware, software, and networking — tools that may well become as mainstream as GNU/Linux is already in data centers, cell phones, and stand-alone computer systems.


Programming News: Python, Java, LLVM and More

Posted in News Roundup at 2:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz




  • You can’t have DevOps without open source

    You probably think I’m going to talk about all the reasons why you should use open source tooling as the foundation for an effective DevOps culture in your organization, but that’s not what this is about. Not to marginalize the complexity of the challenges faced by the team I work with, but I have confidence that the engineers are going to figure the tooling part out. Believe it or not, the daunting part is wrapped in cultural change.

  • DevOps is a real job, it’s official

    The ‘developer’ and ‘operations’ DevOps role is now an official part of the tech industry nomenclature.

    The number of permanent and officially recognised DevOps Engineer posts in the UK has jumped 347% in the past two years.


  • [LLVMdev] 3.4.1 Release Plans (BSD Development)
  • LLVM Spun Off Into Its Own Independent, Non-Profit

    Chris Lattner has announced the LLVM Foundation this morning as “The LLVM umbrella project has grown over the years into a vibrant community made up of many sub-projects, with hundreds of contributors. The results of this project are used by millions of people every day. Today, I’m happy to announce that we are taking the next big step, and forming a new, independent non-profit to represent the community interest.”

  • Fake MSAA Support Added To LLVMpipe, Yields OpenGL 3.0/3.2

    Months ago there was work on advancing Gallium3D’s LLVMpipe software-based driver with its OpenGL 3.x support, including work-in-progress patches, but nothing was merged at the time. With that said, it was a surprise to see fake MSAA support added tonight for Gallium3D and used by the LLVMpipe driver so it fakes OpenGL 3.0 compliance and forces the necessary extensions for handling OpenGL 3.2.


GNU News: New Releases, Coreboot Milestone, GNU Linux-libre, MediaGoblin, and Compilers

Posted in News Roundup at 2:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Misc. GNU Packages



  • Coreboot Adds Support For The Lenovo ThinkPad T530
  • The GNU Linux-libre 3.14-gnu Ultra-Free Kernel Released

    Following last night’s release of the Linux 3.14 kernel, the GNU folks are out with their Linux-based “Freedom Pi” kernel.

    The GNU Linux-libre 3.14-gnu kernel is the upstream Linux 3.14.0 kernel but is “100% free” and removes non-free components from the kernel source tree like firmware blobs and “[code] disguised as source code." The libre kernel flavor also disables run-time requests for non-free kernel components.


  • Meet MediaGoblin, a Decentralized Alternative to YouTube and Flickr

    Running on GNU, MediaGoblin allows user to upload videos, images, audio, and other types of digital media. But, unlike YouTube, Flickr, and Soundcloud, users control their own servers. And, if Webber, Nicholson, and the rest of the MediaGoblin community have their way, each users' media will be stored on Tahoe-LAFS, an encrypted server that does not know what data it stores.




  • To Hell With Non-Free Software

    It’s clear that a lot of IT hardware is being supplied to consumers and organizations with built-in malware, stuff that spies on us and supplies people like NSA with information we don’t want them to have. Ironically, we actually subsidize this activity with our money either by taxation or the purchase-price.

  • Richard Stallman to speak at TedxGeneva2014

    Richard Stallman will be speaking as part of TedxGeneva. His speech will be nontechnical and the public is encouraged to attend.

  • Introducing Jaewoo, the Licensing Team's spring intern

    Jaewoo Cho recently started working at the FSF as a licensing intern. In this post, he writes about his experience with free software and his goals for the internship.

Links 9/4/2014: Games

Posted in News Roundup at 2:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Links 9/4/2014: Applications

Posted in News Roundup at 1:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Links 9/4/2014: Instructionals

Posted in News Roundup at 1:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


News Links: Abuses of Power, Public Reactions

Posted in News Roundup at 1:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz




Power Abuses and Looting

  • GM’s immunity in recall questioned

    General Motors Co. is shielded from legal liability for nearly all accidents that occurred before its July 2009 exit from bankruptcy. That protection has emerged as one of the most controversial aspects of the automaker’s ignition switch recall.

  • Will the Government Rescue GM Again?
  • Energy Privatized: The Ultimate Neoliberal Triumph

    On December 21, 2013 Mexico’s president, Enrique Peña Nieto, posed for the cameras holding the official decree ending the 75-year history of the national oil company, PEMEX. The decree also closed the era in which Mexico’s electrical generating and distribution system had been under the control of two public institutions—Central Light and Power (LyFC), from 1960 to 2009, and the Federal Electricity Commission (CFE), from 1937 to 2013. In a literal sense, neither PEMEX nor CFE will cease to exist, but they will quickly become mere shadows of what they were: the two largest firms operating in Mexico. In response to these comprehensive changes, noted public intellectual Arnaldo Córdova has acknowledged that “the Constitution is dying,” while Cuauhtémoc Cárdenas declared: “Never, throughout our history as an independent nation, has the country seen such a dismantlement of the protections to our sovereignty and self-determination.”1 For its part, the Mexican government immediately saturated the news media with full-page ads, the most prominent of which declared: “The oil will continue to belong to the Mexicans.”

  • Sentencing Corrupt Bankers to Death by Firing Squad

    One duo now on death row embezzled roughly $25 million from the state-owned Vietnam Agribank. Their co-conspirators caught decade-plus prison sentences.

    In March, a 57-year-old former regional boss from Vietnam Development Bank, another government-run bank, was sentenced to death over a $93-million swindling job.

    According to Vietnam’s Tuoi Tre news outlet, several of his colluders were sentenced to life imprisonment after they confessed to securing bogus loans with a diamond ring and a BMW coupe. And last week, in an unrelated case, charges against senior employees from the same bank allege $47 million in losses from dubious loans.

    None of this would impress Bernie Madoff, mastermind of America’s largest ever financial fraud scheme. The combined amount from all three Vietnamese cases adds up to less than 1 percent of his purported $18-billion haul.

    But these death sentences nevertheless are high profile scandals in Vietnam.

    That’s the point. Human rights watchdogs contend that splashy trials in Vietnam are acts of political theater with predetermined conclusions. The audience: a Vietnamese public weary of state corruption. But these sentences also sound loud alarm bells to dodgy bankers who are currently running scams.

  • The Rich Will Destroy London Like They Destroy Everything Else

    London’s housing market is being turned into a billionaire’s casino…


  • HSTS: A secure standard that isn’t respected enough

    Not so, according to a post by Jeremy Gillula, a staff technologist at the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF). In a blog he complains that most Web sites still don’t support HTTPS Strict Transport Security (HSTS), a standard that was approved in the fall of 2012 by the Internet Engineering Steering Group.


  • US Supreme Court passes on NSA surveillance case

    Supreme Court declines an early look at a challenge to the NSA’s bulk collection of American’s phone records — but that doesn’t mean it won’t hear the case down the road.

  • Supreme Court Ducks NSA Surveillance Case

    The move isn’t surprising, as it is unusual for the Supreme Court to allow escalations straight from district courts without letting the US Court of Appeals have a go at it first.

  • US Supreme Court declines to hear NSA mass phone-slurp case

    Lawyer Larry Klayman won the first round of the case against America’s top online spying agency in December, when District of Columbia Judge Richard Leon found in favor of the plaintiff, saying the NSA tactics were an “arbitrary invasion” that was “almost Orwellian.”

  • Did UK spooks use NSA data to spy on Britons?

    “British intelligence agencies do not circumvent domestic oversight regimes by receiving from US agencies intercept material about British citizens which could not lawfully be acquired by intercept in the UK”.

  • NSA logs reveal flood of post-Snowden FOIA requests

    The National Security Agency (NSA) has been flooded with thousands of Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) requests from journalists, civil rights groups and private citizens who have asked the agency to turn over the top-secret records that former contractor Edward Snowden leaked to the media, Al Jazeera can reveal.

  • Executive of telecom giant that aided NSA spying is on India’s cyber security panel

    Sensitive government committees aimed at boosting India’s cyber security and formulating its internet policy have featured intensive participation by representatives of US telecom giant AT&T, a company with a record of voluntary participation in online spying by the US, and a strong interest in ensuring rules of the internet road favour large corporations.

  • NSA ‘ally’ AT&T’s exec is member of Indian govt.’s cybersecurity committee
  • Privacy roundup: Public wary of tech companies, plus NSA-spying news
  • New Captain America movie with clear anti-NSA message is a massive hit abroad

    When the original Captain America movie came out, many wondered how well it would play in massive new Asian markets like China. Would a superhero movie with an in-your-face, pro-America message fare well? Well, the first movie in the franchise was a bit weak outside the U.S. — it grossed $194 million in all international markets combined. Fairly mediocre.

  • National View: Tech titans must do more than criticize NSA snooping

    When it suits them — and when events affect their bottom line — these companies like to make a stink about democracy and free speech. After humblebragging about calling President Barack Obama to complain about NSA snooping, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg delivered a paean to the Internet’s utopian spirit:

    Together, we can build a space that is greater and a more important part of the world than anything we have today, but is also safe and secure. I’m committed to seeing this happen, and you can count on Facebook to do our part.

    Sounds good!

    But while Facebook claims to take seriously the security concerns of its billion-plus users, it’s also in the business of mining and exploiting its customers’ data.

  • The NSA Has Been Ordered To Disclose How Much Water It Uses
  • Defendant targets use of warrantless NSA wiretaps in criminal prosecutions

    When federal prosecutors charged Colorado resident Jamshid Muhtorov in 2012 with providing support to a terrorist organization in his native Uzbekistan, court records suggested the FBI had secretly tapped his phones and read his emails.

    But it wasn’t just the FBI. The Justice Department acknowledged in October that the National Security Agency had gathered evidence against Muhtorov under a 2008 law that authorizes foreign intelligence surveillance without warrants, much of it on the Internet. His lawyers have not been permitted to see the classified evidence.




  • Why Do Soldiers Commit Suicide And Global Warlords

    Soldiers do not go to fight the unknown enemies on their own. They are indoctrinated and pushed to war paradigm by the political monsters who use them as digits and numbers – to compile official statistic, and to support the economy of dehumanization. Consequently, the fighting soldiers – men of conscience lose unity of the human consciousness – unity of material and spiritual factors of life and balanced characteristic– fair and foul. It is a tragic conjuncture of inner revolt of human consciousness for a crime that is not part of the human nature and character and not visible to scientifically expert minds – the doctors who simply identify mental health issues of those suspected of syndrome to commit suicide. These are the net causalities of man’s insanity against man. The real reasons are hardly mentioned in expert reports.


  • Torture, The CIA, And How We Lost Our Herd Immunity

    Dick Cheney, Patient Zero in this particular outbreak, and a towering public combination of inhumanity and cowardice, is out in public bragging about how deeply infected he is. (His daughter, Liz, went on TV over the weekend and suggested that we should ignore the decade of torture inspired by her father and concentrate instead on the true crime of the past 20 years…Benghazi.) Over the weekend, the inexcusable Fred Hiatt loaned the space over which he presides at The Washington Post to Jose Rodriguez, a truly monstrous figure in the events in question, so that Rodriguez could spread the infection even further through the subject population.

  • Doctor Zhivago: How the CIA turned fiction into propaganda
  • CIA Used “Dr. Zhivago” as Cold War Weapon
  • CIA Debunks Its Own Claims About Torture

    High-Level U.S. Officials Debunk CIA Claims About Bin Laden

  • Time to expose the CIA’s ‘dark side’

    The partial declassification of a report critical of interrogation and detention policies used by the CIA after 9/11 is a crucial part of confronting the abuses of our past.

  • Eric Holder Calls For Release Of ‘As Much As Possible’ Of CIA Torture Report
  • Robinson: Senate must release CIA torture report
  • Jon Stewart Explains the CIA Torture Report: “We Are a Moral People, in Hindsight”

    New details emerged last week outlining the CIA’s use of torture during the Bush Administration, after the Senate Intelligence Committee voted to declassify a comprehensive report. But don’t ask the government officials behind the program to actually call it torture. As Jon Stewart explained on last night’s The Daily Show, it was more along the lines of “super-aggressive, terrorist suspect spa treatments.”

  • It’s Time the CIA Gets Some Serious Oversight

    Every once in a while, the CIA’s “Because I said so” club lets loose with a bit of preposterous condescension that reminds us why, along with extraordinary rendition and drone strikes, we’re also a nation of transparency and checks and balances. In this case, the crowing comes from Jose A. Rodriguez Jr., former head of the CIA’s National Clandestine Service and the administrator of that agency’s post-9/11 enhanced interrogation (i.e., torture) program. We shouldn’t believe the “shocking” results of Senator Dianne Feinstein’s (D-CA) Senate Intelligence Committee’s investigation, Rodriguez says, especially those that lay bare the lies and exaggerations promulgated by the CIA and the ineffectiveness of the program itself.

    Why not? Because Rodriguez was there, and you weren’t. Never mind that Rodriguez hasn’t actually read the report, or the fact that CIA-sponsored torture isn’t a yoga class, so “being present” doesn’t really count as the endeavor’s ultimate objective. And never mind the findings of the “Internal Panetta Review,” conducted by the CIA, that, according to Senator Feinstein, “documented at least some of the very same troubling matters already uncovered by the committee staff—which is not surprising, in that they were looking at the same information.”

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