Summary: Another milestone for this Web site
Summary: Another milestone for this Web site
Summary: Aaron Swartz, a man of ethics, is no longer with us
MR. Aaron Swartz, a man of ethics, is no longer with us. What a tragic loss for the world. Here is Wikipedia‘s summary of Aaron’s contributions, which themeselves make a massive — arguably lifetime-worth — contributions worthy of high praises and a special tribute.
“Swartz’s father worked in the computer industry, and from a young age Aaron was interested in computing, frequently studying computers, the Internet and Internet culture. At the age of 14 Swartz co-authored RSS 1.0 Specification. He later attended Stanford University, however he left after one year of studying, stating “I didn’t find it a very intellectual atmosphere, since most of the other kids seemed profoundly unconcerned with their studies.” Instead he founded the software company Infogami, a startup that was funded by Y Combinator’s first Summer Founders Program.
“Through the Y Combinator program, Swartz found himself working on the Reddit website. Initially finding it difficult to make money from the project, the site later gained in popularity, with millions of users visiting it each month. In late 2006, after months of negotiations, Reddit was sold to CondéNet, owners of Wired magazine. Swartz moved with his company to San Francisco to work on Wired, but grew unhappy with the set-up and in January, 2007, he was asked to resign from his position. Swartz described himself as being ill and suffering from a constant depressed mood throughout 2007. In September, 2007, Swartz joined with Simon Carstensen and launched Jottit. In 2010–2011 he was a fellow at Harvard University’s Edmond J. Safra Center for Ethics.
“Swartz was also the creator of the web.py web application framework, and co-founded Demand Progress, a progressive advocacy group that organizes people via email and other media for “contacting Congress and other leaders, funding pressure tactics, and spreading the word” about targeted issues” █
Summary: How to move forward from here; feedback welcomed
THE Vista 8 failure has been shown everywhere we look. It is a mainstream position to say that Windows monopoly is dying. There is no denying the fact that Vista 8 is an apt name; the difference is, the public learned its lessons from Vista. Microsoft is already given buyer’s remorse to the few who bought Surface and the prices remain too high. Android has more applications and much better prices. All that Microsoft can at this stage now is distort the market with patents, jointly with Apple and other Linux foes.
Now that Novell is gone Windows is collapsing should we start covering more topics (except for patents)? What about surveillance and Internet freedom? I should have more time for this in 2013. Suggestions are needed though. The site is shaped by trends of threat to freedom and justice, but it also depends on the readers’ preferences. We have almost 16,000 blog posts and their focus evolves over time. █
Summary: Our adherence to Free and Open Source software is not enough for triumph in the long fight for digital rights, fair competition, etc.
As a little bit of background, when I had turned 21 and started my Ph.D. I found myself surrounded by archaic digital systems which impeded access to valuable human knowledge. They were designed this way. I also found navigation therein cumbersome enough to reduce or eliminate reuse of knowledge. I am familiar with all the principal arguments for Open Access, so I do share everything that I create, be it software or text or graphics.
Paywalls and registration are barriers because they limit the audience based on financial status and eliminate anonymous reading, respectively. It is quite unjust and it is no coincidence. Profit and control (power over the reader) take priority over what scientists typically want, which is maximal dissemination of their work. This contributes to influence.
Ever since I began getting active, a lot of systems have gotten more malicious in the sense that they increase tracking, put people’s data outside their own control (Fog Computing), and even take software — including binaries — away from the users. This make such systems ripe for abuse and we constantly see reports of abuses, ranging from spying, selling of personal data, and addition of malicious features through software updates one cannot decline (programs are stored on servers). This affects everyone who uses the Web, e.g. to pay bills, so often enough no choice on the matter is even given. We are losing a fight for control over our computing.
Increasingly, paying or non-paying customers become the product, whereas real clients become those who want to control us (nosy oppressive governments, marketing companies that want to sell us stuff we neither need nor naturally want, and financial firms which assess risk based on our private lives, e.g. health condition).
Free software is not enough to fight away this trend, but it sure can help. These are the sorts of issues that fall under the umbrella of tech or digital rights. We, ‘mere mortals’, are losing power as corporations (superorganisms) gain power. They have architecture-wise instated a system and perfected instruments like patents (enforced by the system) to further limit people’s ability to compete. To give an example, Novell signed a patent deal by which it uses its patents to claim ‘safe’ ownership of software that many people created for free, rendering these people ‘infingers’. That was just seriously outrageous. It needed to be countered and Novell is no more.
Techrights uses various bits of Free software to serve web pages. Our IRC channls have become more than the typical type of thing. Free software improves the experience in the sense that it adds live updates.
identi.ca, once developed here in the UK (at a company with a few people I know), helps syndicate blogs in real time.
Tony Manco from Canada wrote a bot which helps manage our IRC channels and Toby, who lives near Tony, improved it to further suit our needs.
There is also offline software. For the past four and a half years, for example, we have used the same Python program to produce thousands of IRC logs. My wife and I plan to add some more features to it and then release that as Free software. It’s work in progress.
It is fun to write about Free software and especially fun releasing new software at the same time. Everything in the site is done using Free software. Most posts are written in Android, too (since a couple of months ago).
Some people still ask, what are the site’s goals? Well, in general, given enough time the scope would have included privacy, net neutrality, copyright etc. (part of our tech rights, which help preserve or advance human rights) but we just post timely links about those subjects (daily links) without further commentary, while primarily focusing on patents, competition barriers, and sometimes censorship if it relates to proprietary software rather than politics. Techrights was never entirely focused on Free software, not because it’s not important but because it’s part of a broader picture which includes open data, access, networks, etc. Competition (if fair) and collaboration drive innovation; protectionism like patents is a barrier. Actually, we increasingly find that — particularly in the smartphones market — companies collude, which is another form or typical phenomenon where competition is being subverted. It does not deal with the licences of software (FOSS or proprietary) although GPLv3 helps address some issues. Linux is not enough and Free software is not enough either. Companies that use both, e.g. IBM, are part of the problem and Google goes down a similar route because it hired patent lawyers who push in this direction. We have explained how the interests of lawyers often supersede those of developers whom they claim to ‘protect’.
Summary: Anniversary for this FOSS-preserving endeavour is marked again this Tuesday (13th of November)
This Web site is turning six years old this week. The number six may not be so special, but regardless, this is our anniversary and we are happy to have kept fully active all these years. For those who are willing to contribute material, please do get in touch or simply join the IRC channels. █
I’m back after a little break and will start out with a recap of a very important topic, the private assault on public education lead by Bill Gates and other ultra wealthy rent seekers.
Yes, schoolchildren in Chicago are victims, but not of their teachers. They are victims of a nationwide education “reform” movement geared to undermine teachers’ unions and shift public resources into private hands; they are victims of wave after wave of ill-conceived and failing policy “innovations” … The city’s current reform wave began in 2004 with Mayor Richard Daley’s Renaissance 2010—a massive program, funded in part by $90 million from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, to transform the city’s schools by 2010. The strategy included firing and replacing entire staffs in low-income neighborhood schools, shutting down dozens of schools, and setting up charter schools. … Renaissance 2010 has done little to improve the educational performance of the city’s school system…
Someone asked me today while we were waiting to be seated for a filming of a debate regarding I-1240 (more on that later), why everything Bill Gates, or for that matter the Walton’s, fund, I am opposed to. Well, I’m not. I appreciate the money that Bill Gates and his wife spent to create the sculpture park in Seattle that faces the sound. … Unfortunately, Bill Gates knows nothing about public education.
This person makes the “Uncle Joe” mistake, thinking that the person giving her trouble has their best interest at heart rather than private gain.
Students at Walter L. Cohen in New Orleans began a walk out/protest on October 4th, 2012 when their teachers and administrators were dismissed and the announcement was made that Future Is Now Charter (Steven Barr, formerly of Green Dot in California, and Gideon Stein) would be taking over the governance of the school. … I’d say that the people of New Orleans have had their fill of charter schools.
Many New Orleans public schools were privatized in the wake of Katrina and the effort is ongoing. Here we see what happens where people can not effectively organize resistance.
The Walton’s and Bill Gates have just added more money to the privatization till for a total of $3M from Gates and $1.8M from the Walton’s to the Yes on Initiative 1240 campaign. This has truly become a battle of the 1% versus the rest of us.
This is what effective, local resistance looks like. We need national resistance to protect those without the resources to help themselves.
Please write a letter to President Obama and send it to Anthony Cody’s e-mail address listed below by Oct. 17th. Please invite everyone you know to write to Pres. Obama. We need thousands upon thousands of letters to make a difference for Public Education!
Knowledge is Power Program (KIPP) is in a rush to now dumb down education in New Zealand even though New Zealand and Australia have higher international test scores than the US and the majority of other nations. KIPP is trying to worm their way into New Zealand using the same old phrasing such as “failing schools” and “ineffective teachers” and pushing the idea of hiring “unregistered” (cheap) staff to populate charter schools. … Fortunately in New Zealand they are having an open national debate on charter schools something that never happened in the United States where venture capitalists made up their minds about what was best for our students and in a stealth like fashion went about privatizing our public schools.
The attack is international, like other Microsoft operations.
The key take away [of the Chicago teacher's strike]: rich white people who send their kids to private schools were the only group to oppose the teachers’ strike. In other words, the very group whose children will likely grow up to become the next generation of achievement gap warriors.
There’s an interesting list of Washington state “reform” backers, Bill Gates – $1M
Alice Walton- Walmart heiress and daughter of founder Sam Walton- $600k Bezos family – Jeff Bezos is the founder and CEO of Amazon- $1.5M Nick Hanauer – described as a “venture capitalist” living in Seattle- $450k Paul Allen of Microsoft – $100k Katherine Binder – EMFCO Holdings Chairwoman -$200k The McCaw’s- a wealthy and prominent family in Seattle – $100k
One person got up and said that she was willing to pay a state income tax to begin to subsidize what was needed by the community. … What is ironic about this is that the second wealthiest individual in the world and number one in the United States, according to Forbes, lives among us in Seattle and yet is not willing to pay his fair share of taxes to support the infrastructure that he used to create and maintain Microsoft including public education. On the other hand, Gates is paying millions of dollars in our state to lobby for charter schools which is the privatization of a public good.
Summary: Starting next month we’ll be writing more posts under Android, the fastest-growing Linux-based OS
TECHRIGHTS has no disclosures to make, but as an Android developer myself, my opinions may be biased. I just happen to prefer open platforms; many developers do.
For over a year now I have been writing almost all articles on a Palm PDA, which uses proprietary software (I have used PalmOS for over a decade). It has a tactile-friendly keyboard. But today I lost an entire article about reasons why Vista 8 is inadequate for business use due to its privacy violations (and reasons beyond that). I lost all the text and then spent a considerable amount of time trying to resurrect it, all in vain. Perhaps now is a good time to just write all the posts on an Android tablet, which actually runs Free software editors and contains Linux at the core. PalmOS has become too long in the tooth.
Late at night I will be leaving home for about 3 weeks. It’s likely that Techrights will be quiet in the interim. Afterwards I will be composing most articles on my Android tablet. My Other Half, who will have been my wife by then, also uses Android, so I guess we’re increasingly dependent on Linux in our mobile life; we both have a B.Sc. in Computer Science as well. Wish us luck in our wedding.
Until next month, we wish everyone a lovely end of summer. Techrights is pretty much guaranteed to carry on as usual for a long time to come. The focus remains patents. It’s the big battle.
Summary: Open question about the future of MP3 format in TechBytes
THE next episode of TechBytes will revolve around office suites, LibreOffice in particular. After Richard Stallman’s advice that we should omit MP3 versions of the show altogether I wish to ask readers of this site (or listeners of TechBytes for that matter) what they think about the subject. It’s going to be a group decision. My main concern has been, having no MP3 versions would render the show unplayable on many portable devices, cars stereos, etc. Much of the target audience uses FOSS operating system, so Ogg is typically supported out of the box and the Ogg downloads by far exceed those of the MP3 anyway. So, today’a small poll (members-only vote) will help determine if future episodes of Techbytes will be encoded as MP3 as well as Ogg or just Ogg (encouraging people to download Ogg-playing software and buy Ogg-supporting gadgets, as Stallman would allege)
“If you are registered with this site, please consider voting right now, with or without listening to Stallman’s advice in advance.”If we drop the MP3 versions, the show will be Ogg only, as well as VP8/WebM-supporting (as fallback) for browsers that are less Ogg-tolerant. The vote will be considered and taken into account within the next 24 hours or so.
For those who wish to know Stallman’s views on this subject, I have just encoded his conversation with me (as ogg of course), allowing folks to hear his side in this. He does make a rather compelling argument.
To the right side of this post (scroll down a little) I have added a poll question. If you are registered with this site, please consider voting right now, with or without listening to Stallman’s advice in advance. Also consider leaving a comment. █
Richard Stallman on MP3 Options for Techbytes: Download:
Richard Stallman on MP3 Options for Techbytes: Embedded (HTML5):
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