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Links 19/2/2010: Phoronix Test Suite 2.4.1, Amarok 2.3 Beta 1

GNOME bluefish



  • Linux needs its eyes wide open
    There’s no need to be snobbish about Linux. After all, it is for everyone; it’s just that not everyone has found it yet. The trick is, I’d argue, to hold the door open for all those who are even mildly tempted to try, and to recognise that it might not be 100% straightforward to jump from one operating system to the other. And, ultimately, let’s not pretend we live in a world where it’s one or the other. It’s not a crime to use both. At least until the person I had my unfortunate conversation with gets into any position of power…

  • Podcast Season 2 Episode 2
    In this episode: Nokia and Intel combine Maemo with Moblin to create MeeGo. 3.2 is here, and it's fast. We report back on our experiences of avoiding the command line and ask whether we'll ever use KDE 4.4.

  • Desktop

    • The 'year of the Linux desktop' has passed
      But in my new role at Canonical, I've switched to using Ubuntu on my Lenovo ThinkPad X200s and have found Linux comfortably routine. Like my Mac, it just works--no drama with day-to-day Internet activities like e-mail, Web browsing, IM, Twitter. It lets me do all the things I used to do, and still largely with the same applications I used on my Mac.

    • Can Alex bring Linux to the masses?
      Imagine this as a business plan.

      You're a small start-up, and you want to introduce millions of people to computing for the first time. You also aim to transform the way computers are sold, persuading people to subscribe to software as a service with regular monthly payments.

      Oh, and finally you want to take on a rather bigger rival - Microsoft - and persuade the world that there's a better, easier way of personal computing.

      That essentially is what a company called the Broadband Computer Company has in mind with its Alex computer - and if this outrageously ambitious plan succeeds, it could play an important role in bringing Linux-based operating systems to a much wider public.

      When you sign up to Alex you are buying a whole package rather than a computer. The idea is that a newcomer to computing gets a laptop, a broadband connection, access to software on the Alex servers, and technical support - for a monthly fee of €£39.95 for two years.

      And at the heart of the project is Linux, or at least the Ubuntu variant of the open source operating system coupled with a desktop designed by Alex's own developers.

  • Server

    • Make Your Personal Linux Cloud With Tonido
      Despite all the hype surrounding cloud computing, the idea of handing over control of your data and applications to third-party services may not appeal to everyone. If you don't want to compromise your privacy and you prefer to be in control of your applications, you can, of course, roll out your own personal cloud server. Setting up and configuring a dedicated server may sound like a daunting proposition, but with Tonido you can turn any machine running Ubuntu, Fedora, openSUSE, or Arch Linux into a nifty cloud server in a matter of minutes.

  • Kernel Space

    • Phoronix Test Suite 2.4.1 "Lenvik" Released
      For those out there using the Phoronix Test Suite, the first (and likely only) point release for the 2.4 Lenvik release is now available. The 2.4.1 release incorporates a variety of bug-fixes and other work that was back-ported to Lenvik over the past two weeks.

    • EXT3, EXT4, Btrfs Ubuntu Netbook Benchmarks
      Ubuntu Karmic and Lucid were tested with EXT3, EXT4, and Btrfs using the SQLite, Compile Bench, IOzone, Dbench, FS-Mark, Threaded I/O Tester, PostMark, and Unpack-Linux tests available through the Phoronix Test Suite. Each file-system was mounted with its default mount options and both releases of Ubuntu were left in their stock configurations.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Set Your Desktop Free, With Nouveau’s 3D
        The nouveau project has done it! Finally, an open source 3D driver for NVIDIA video cards has arrived and will ship with Fedora 13. Let’s take a look (including a few benchmarks).

      • Talking Radeon GLSL From X@FOSDEM 2010
        If you want to listen to Nicolai Hähnle's talk about the R300 GLSL (GL Shading Language) status and road-map, that 40 minute recording is now available.

      • Listen Now: Luc's Heated Talk From X@FOSDEM
        The most heated talk this year during FOSDEM in the X.Org development room was certainly the talk by Luc Verhaegen with his ambitions to clean up the Linux graphics driver stack. Building the entire X.Org stack can be a mess and there is certainly areas to improve upon in the development process and making it easier for end-users and others to test out this latest code. Luc's goal for this is to create unified trees for each driver that contain all of the driver-specific code rather than having various bits scattered all over the place.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

    • GNOME Desktop

    • LXDE

      • LXDE - the cure for what ails our older PCs
        It’s been a while since Ubuntu could be called a leaner alternative to Windows. While it’s safe to say that it runs a bit better on older machines than Windows Vista, its transformation into a truly full-featured operating system capable of replacing Windows in most situations has rendered it more bloated than other less mainstream alternatives.

        However, one of the nicer features of Linux (at least for the end user) is the ability to choose the windowing environment with which we interact with the underlying OS. Essentially, we can choose from any number of graphical user interfaces that suit a particular situation. By default, Ubuntu desktop editions come with the Gnome interface which works quite well, but is far more responsible for the apparent bloat than the actual Ubuntu operating system itself. KDE and Xfce are two other “desktop environments” and can be installed as the native Ubuntu GUIs that make up the so-called Kubuntu and Xubuntu official variants. Xubuntu is generally considered to be lighter in terms of memory and CPU utilization than either the Gnome- or KDE-based versions of Ubuntu, but they don’t hold a candle to LXDE.

  • Distributions

    • Will the Decade's Best Distros Please Stand Up?
      Is Ubuntu actually good or merely popular? "It is either so bleeding edge it is a miracle the CD doesn't have stigmata, or it is really old packages that are never updated," blogger hairyfeet asserted. "Ubuntu has done more for Linux acceptance than any other distribution," countered blogger Martin Espinoza. "I'm a bit disenchanted with distros in general," said Slashdot blogger David Masover.

    • 10 Best Linux Distributions / Distros in 2010
      Before telling you about the Best Linux Distributions or Distros available for 2010, you have to tell me what kind of user you are. There are several types of Distributions meant a particular working condition and there are also several types of Distros that are created for certain type of users. If you are choosing a Distro for family or friends, it should not be the same as that you would choose for a enterprise. And if you are a student, you have to be sure that the applications and resources that you require will be available from the distribution that you are choosing. Here I have tried to compile a list of the Best Distributions that are the bests for their capabilities on a particular domain. Have a look at the list.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Headlines Southern California Linux Expo
        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world's leading provider of open source solutions, and the Fedora Project, a Red Hat sponsored and community-supported open source collaboration project, today announced they will deliver a keynote address and additional presentations at the eighth annual Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE). SCALE is one of the largest Linux conferences in the region, attracting enterprise and industry professionals along with smaller businesses, non-profit industries and Linux enthusiasts.

      • Fedora

        • Please say Fedora
          Typically I am really good at understanding an Indian dialect because the area of Chicago I grew up in was largely an Indian population. The person on the phone was a bit harder to understand and I believe the reason was because they had a mix of the Indian dialect with a distinct southern US draw. Anyways, after talking to the AT&T tech support person for a few minutes, I started telling him what was going on and what I had done thus far. He asked what version of Windows I was using to test and I told him I wasn’t using Windows and instead was using Linux. I expected the “We don’t support Linux” comment, but was floored when he said, “Please say you are using Fedora.” I chimed in with a “Sorry, using Kubuntu.” He chuckled then said, “Some people will never learn.” We shot little jabs back and forth at each other having a bit of fun while he was doing a modem test. In the end they figured out it was their issue and some AT&T techie will be out there today to fix the issue.

    • Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu Linux is not suitable for you if...
        This write up is a response to the 14th comment on a post I made on Jan 28. I thought my reply should actually be shared with you in case you are also thinking along the same lines like him (or her??). I am actually going to assume that Mr. Anonymous is using Ubuntu but actually needs a check list to evaluate whether it is the right OS for him and if Open Source in general is good for him. So here goes

      • Ubuntu One Music Store Pushed In Rhythmbox
        One of the features that was talked about and proposed a few months back was a music store for Ubuntu where one could easily purchase music and somewhat fits in with Canonical's plans for the Ubuntu Software Store (or the "Ubuntu Software Center" as it's now called). Plans were laid out for an Ubuntu One Music Store and the first packages to support this in Ubuntu 10.04 LTS are now available.

      • Rhythmbox +
        I haven’t used Rhythmbox’s to scrobble lately because it doesn’t let me ‘love’ a song. Well, that is until I found this particular plugin for Rhythmbox called “New Style Scrobbler” thanks to Juergen Kreileder. In Amarok, it’s pretty much seamless. There’s a heart I could just click while the song is playing so I could mark it as a loved track.

      • Ubuntu One Music Store Pushed In Rhythmbox
        The first package that provides a plug-in to Rhythmbox for accessing the Ubuntu One Music Store has been pushed and can be found in the Lucid repository. This is the first package for the Ubuntu One Music Store that has been developed by Canonical.

      • Ubuntu Switches to Yahoo! Search … Kinda
        There’s been a lot of noise recently in the Ubuntu community about the announcement that Canonical is planning to switch the default search engine and home page in Firefox to Yahoo! Search. People are tweeting about it, podcasting about it, and generally getting worked up. Some think that it’s the end of the world (or an MS takeover of Canonical), some could care less.

      • Mint

        • Has Linux Mint Killed Distrohopping?
          Back in the old days, Linux used to be a tough cookie to get installed. It was way more challenging than Windows and certainly nothing like Mac OS X. You never really knew if it would work well with all of your hardware until you tried it. Sometimes things went great and other times—well, let's just say that things didn't go well at all.

          These days, it's more or less a snap to get Linux working on your computer. Oh sure, you may have an occasional snafu with a particular component, but nothing like what you used to run into. Linux is much better at supporting hardware now, and things have become much, much simpler.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Lantronix Launches Global XPort Proâ„¢ Design Contest
      World’s smallest Linux computer provides a powerful engine for deploying advanced applications at the network edge

    • Our Door Opener (A Science Project)
      This is a pretty simple project, but I'm no electrical engineer, so it took me a while to get it working. But eventually I was able to use my SSH client to open the door latch. That's not exactly an ideal interface, though: it's both hard to use and hard to administer. I turned the problem over to my coworkers in the labs, and they built the rest of the system with amazing speed (and, it should be noted, in the middle of a blizzard). They've come up with some pretty impressive solutions -- more on that in the next post!

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Jolicloud: The Operating System Download for Netbook You’ve Been Looking For
        If you’ve read about Jolicloud before, and though it was just a gimmick, you’re not alone: I thought so too. But after trying it out I have to say I’m impressed. Everything worked out of the box, and it featured the sleekest way to install and update software I’ve seen on any platform. This is a netbook operating system done right, so give it a spin.

        And when you do, be sure to let us know what you think in the comments below. Do you think this represents a good approach to a netbook operating system? Or do you think another operating system does a better job? Comment away!

      • Chrome OS vs Ubuntu Netbook Remix
        Although Chrome OS is based on Ubuntu, Google has no intention right now of targeting the mass market.

        Instead, Chrome OS will be certified to run on specific hardware, which at the very least will need either an x86 or ARM CPU and a solid-state drive (SSD) for storage.

      • Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.04 To Get A 2D EFL Based Launcher

      • OpenOffice back in Ubuntu
        A decision to remove from the next Ubuntu Netbook Remix release has been retracted

Free Software/Open Source

  • Is Open Source Too Open for its Own Good?
    So what should be done? Is it inevitable that trapdoors will be (or maybe even already are) hidden away in free software? Do we need formal systems for vetting people who contribute patches? Wouldn't such systems destroy a key strength of open source? Is open source doomed to be betrayed by its own openness?

  • Top 10 Open-Source Server Technologies You Need to Know
    If you think open-source server technologies are limited to Linux distributions, think again. Although these software projects pair well with Linux, it isn't an integral part of any of the 10 listed. Open-source software no longer refers to a Linux-only environment. In fact, open source now crosses all operating system boundaries, so much so, that Microsoft launched its own open-source laboratory called Port 25, and it is a platinum-level sponsor of the Open Source Business Conference in San Francisco. To introduce you to 10 hot server-oriented open-source technologies you need to know, I compiled a diverse list of projects and applications for you to discover and explore. Many of these products are free of cost or close to it.

  • When and how can Free Software really save public money?
    A few days ago, during an email conversation about efficient public services and waste of money in Public Administrations, I had to answer a couple of questions. Since those answers may interest many other people, here they are.

    (note for newcomers: the "Free Software" discussed here is software like Ubuntu (a distribution of Linux) or OpenOffice: software that can be legally copied and installed without license costs, supported by politicians of all parties, even in the European Union)
    First question: in my opinion, people saying that Free Software saves money overlooks the fact that those who use it on their job, for example a public employee, may need some training to use all its features. If you consider this, Free Software saves money only in the long run, doesn't it?
    Of course, in medium and big organizations, the costs of software licenses are only a small part of the total costs of using and maintaining that same software (even if, only in Italy, the total amount of software licensing costs in local and national PAs is hundreds millions of Euros every year), but let's look at the whole picture. If you only consider the cost of software licenses, it's easy: Free Software wins.

  • Metasploit Gains Further Commercial Adoption
    Metasploit is now owned by security firm Rapid7, the company that also integrates Metasploit into their testing tools. This week, security testing firm Core Security announced that they would be integrating support for Metasploit into their Core IMPACT Pro application. Evaluating the impact of the enterprise tool integration of Metasploit depends on a number of factors. It's also not clear whether or not the open source community aspect of Metasploit will enjoy any benefits as a result either.

  • Open World Forum 2010: Call for Proposals

  • Mozilla

  • Oracle

    • OpenSolaris: Oracle, where art thou?
      After a prolonged wait, Oracle have now completed their takeover of Sun. Late January, they presented their plans for taking Sun's products forward.

      OpenSolaris wasn't even mentioned.If you look carefully, it's on a slide, but that's about it.

    • OPEN LETTER TO ORACLE: (Open)Solaris Roadmap
      I look forward to these details which will hopefully put an end to the Solaris FUD and put us back on a path of profitable and productive growth, for the sake of the community, customers, and Oracle itself.

  • CMS

    • 7 Important Features That Should Be Part Of WordPress Core
      I love WordPress. I love its user-friendliness and how easy you can get it installed and running within 5 mins. I love its extensibility and the plugin system that enable us to increase its functionality without any coding needed. However, despite all the love, WordPress is not perfect. There are plenty of times where you will wonder why a simple and basic feature is not included in the WordPress core and you have to go hunting for plugins/hacks/solutions just to solve a simple problem.

  • BSD

    • PC-BSD’s graphical firewall manager
      PC-BSD is a desktop-oriented, FreeBSD-based distribution with KDE as the default desktop environment. The version due to be released shortly is PC-BSD 8. Because it the only BSD-based desktop distribution that’s in a position to compete with the best Linux desktop distributions, I’ll be publishing a number of articles over the next few weeks to introduce those not yet familiar with it to some of its management tools. This post takes a look at the graphical firewall manager.

    • Bordeaux 2.0.0 for FreeBSD and PC-BSD Released

  • Licensing

    • Open Source Licensing Nirvana
      Alfresco went LGPL, Sonatype - a company with a strong Apache background - for the very first time decided to release some code under GPL, while WaveMaker dumping the AGPL in favor of Apache.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • HTML5
      It’s all over the news these days, because it’s A Good Thing: the Web will be smarter and faster and better. And for other reasons involving politics and vituperation. I love parts of HTML5, but it’s clear that other parts are a science project. And as a sometime standards wonk, I’m puzzled by aspects of the way the spec (not the language, the spec for the language) is put together.


  • New York Times reporter accused of plagiarism resigns
    A Wall Street and finance reporter for The New York Times accused of plagiarism has resigned, the newspaper reported.

  • Philly targets Facebook, Twitter after snowball fight turns ugly
    Two members of the Philadelphia City Council are considering legal action against Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace in the wake of a "flash mob" earlier this week that turned violent, according to a letter sent to the city's mayor and obtained by CNET. They claim that social-media sites don't do enough to keep tabs on violence that could be organized through their communication channels.

  • VIP prison treatment for rich Indonesians convicted of bribery
    Indonesian prison cells for wealthy people convicted of bribery and other corruption crimes are a palatial resorts (and you have to bribe the guards to get in to see the prisoners!). The Indonesian government is trying to fix things, but corrupt officials stand in the way.

  • Science

    • Which Smartphones Emit The Most Radiation?
      Motorola Droid, BlackBerry Bold 9700, LG Chocolate Touch and HTC Nexus One are pushing the limits of radiofrequency radiation safety limits set by the Federal Communications Commission, according to a new report from the Environmental Working Group (EWG).

  • Google

    • Typos may earn Google $500m a year
      Google may be earning an alleged $500 million a year via companies and individuals who register deceptive website addresses.

      The claim centres on a controversial scheme known as "typosquatting", the practice of registering a misspelled variant of a popular web domain. For example, a typosquatter might register "" in the hope of getting visits from people who meant to type "".

    • Google buys Remail
      GMAIL PROPRIETOR Google has bought the mobile email outfit Remail and many have been left wondering what it was smoking.

    • Local class action complaint filed over Google Buzz
      A class action complaint filed in San Jose federal court alleges that Google Inc. broke the law when its controversial Google Buzz service shared personal data without the consent of users.

  • Security

    • School used student laptop webcams to spy on them at school and home
      According to the filings in Blake J Robbins v Lower Merion School District (PA) et al, the laptops issued to high-school students in the well-heeled Philly suburb have webcams that can be covertly activated by the schools' administrators, who have used this facility to spy on students and even their families. The issue came to light when the Robbins's child was disciplined for "improper behavior in his home" and the Vice Principal used a photo taken by the webcam as evidence. The suit is a class action, brought on behalf of all students issued with these machines.

    • US defence industry calls for more spending on cyber-warfare
      Former president George W Bush's Homeland Security chief Michael Chertoff played the role of National Security Advisor as the "cabinet" sought to respond to a "nightmare scenario" drawn up by former CIA director Michael Hayden.

    • List Price
      The war on terrorism becomes a war on free speech.

    • TSA to swab airline passengers' hands in search for explosives
      To the list of instructions you hear at airport checkpoints, add this: "Put your palms forward, please."

      The Transportation Security Administration soon will begin randomly swabbing passengers' hands at checkpoints and airport gates to test them for traces of explosives.

    • CIA-linked startup touts all-seeing eye for net spooks
      A security startup with close links to the CIA is touting a system to the UK government that monitors every IP address on the internet for malware, as part of its declared aim of improving cyber war capabilities.

    • Airport scanners face double exposure
      Legal opinion is on their side: a barrister has told El Reg that the current scanning regime may not only be unlawful – but criminal to boot.

      In a letter to the Secretary of State for Transport, Lord Adonis, the EHRC has expressed concerns about the apparent absence of safeguards to ensure the body scanners, already in place at Heathrow and Manchester airports, are operated in a lawful, fair and non-discriminatory manner. It also has serious doubts that the decision to roll this out in all UK airports complies with the law.

    • Twitter 'airport bomb hoax twit' charged
      A man who allegedly made a joke threat to bomb a UK airport on Twitter has been charged with sending a menacing message.

  • Environment

    • Think-tanks take oil money and use it to fund climate deniers
      An orchestrated campaign is being waged against climate change science to undermine public acceptance of man-made global warming, environment experts claimed last night.

      The attack against scientists supportive of the idea of man-made climate change has grown in ferocity since the leak of thousands of documents on the subject from the University of East Anglia (UEA) on the eve of the Copenhagen climate summit last December.

      Free-market, anti-climate change think-tanks such as the Atlas Economic Research Foundation in the US and the International Policy Network in the UK have received grants totalling hundreds of thousands of pounds from the multinational energy company ExxonMobil. Both organisations have funded international seminars pulling together climate change deniers from across the globe.

    • Oil Money Funds Climate Deniers and Attacks on Climate Scientists
      The multinational energy company ExxonMobil has given hundreds of thousands of British pounds in grants to free-market, anti-climate change think-tanks to wage a coordinated, orchestrated campaign against climate change science, and undermine public acceptance of the idea that global warming has a man-made component.

    • Oil-Funded Gov Joins with Oil-Funded Front Group to Appeal Greenhouse Gas Regs
      Although it seems a bit like a dog-bites-man story, the New York Times reported that Texas Governor and 2012 presidential aspirant Rick Perry (R-TX) has joined with the Competitive Enterprise Institute (CEI) in challenging the Environmental Protection Agency's decision to regulate carbon dioxide as a greenhouse gas. As the Center for Media and Democracy has documented on our SourceWatch site, CEI has been well-funded by Exxon and other oil companies, and is one of the main U.S. corporate front groups fighting efforts to address global warming and regulate the industry that feeds it funding. But, the courts are now stacked in Perry's favor, as noted below.

    • The "AB 32 Implementation Group": A Wolf in Green Clothing
      Since then, a coalition with the helpful-sounding name the "AB 32 Implementation Group" has appeared, claiming to represent green businesses and a broad section of California interests focused on global warming regulations. The Implementation Group's Web site features photos of white clouds and flowers, and the organization is being managed by a big public relations firm, Woodward & McDowell. In truth, the Group actually represents 22 of California's biggest carbon polluters (as ranked by the California Air Resources Board), and, according to environmentalists and lawmakers, is engaged in a steady campaign to undermine the Global Warming Solutions Act of 2006.

    • Business group loses ‘green’ members in global-warming fight
      An organization representing some of California’s biggest carbon polluters is working to alter the state’s global warming law, while claiming to represent several “green” environmental companies that have since left the coalition after learning of its recent actions.

      The coalition, calling itself the AB 32 Implementation Group, says it represents a broad section of California interests focused on global warming regulations. The group, which is being managed by a large public relations firm, Woodward & McDowell, features photographs of white clouds and a field of flowers on its Web site.

    • U.N. climate chief to stand down
      The head of the United Nations climate change convention is leaving his post, a move that comes a few months after the Copenhagen summit.

    • Half of world's primate species endangered, report says
      Nearly half the world's primate species are in danger of extinction, according to a report released Wednesday by a major conservation group.

    • TOXIC: Garbage Island
      Anyhoo, the idea that one of the biggest environmental disasters of our age had been going on outside nearly everyone's awareness piqued our curiosity, so we decided to head out there (the middle of the ocean) and see it for ourselves.

      The Garbage Patch is located at a natural collecting point at the center of a set of revolving currents called the North Pacific Gyre. The middle of the Gyre is more of a meteorological phenomenon than an actual place: a consistent high-pressure zone north of the Hawaiian Islands that, combined with the extremely weak currents, helps keep the ocean surface as placid as lake water.

  • Finance

    • Bank of America Forecloses on Home with No Mortgage

    • Bank of America Forecloses on Home with No Mortgage
      Nothing really new, just the most searing and comprehensive evisceration of the vampire squid's "profitability tactics" to date, packaged in a box of exquisite semantic brilliance that only Matt Taibbi can provide, and comprehensible enough for anyone to understand. Taibbi points out: "the fact that we haven't done much of anything to change the rules and behavior of Wall Street shows that we still don't get it. Instituting a bailout policy that stressed recapitalizing bad banks was like the addict coming back to the con man to get his lost money back. Ask yourself how well that ever works out. And then get ready for the reload." It is time to break up the market monopolizing force known as Goldman Sachs.

    • Squeeze plays
      Hollingsworth Hound on how free-market capitalism works in banking and baseball

    • Citibank Sticks It to Customers -- and Congress
      The new law prohibits credit card companies from raising interest rates whenever they like, on short notice or no notice, and for no particular reason.

    • Citi to Keep Bilking Customers Despite New Regulations
      When Congress passed rules to reign in the most usurious of credit card practices, many Americans cheered. When Congress moved up the deadline for companies to comply with the rules because credit card issuers began raising rates in an effort to squeeze as much cash out of strapped Americans before the government started regulating their greed, Americans breathed a collective sigh of relief.

    • Citigroup Offers New "Pick Pocket" Derivative
      Citi is kindly offering to pick the pocket of the American taxpayer in the eventuality of a new financial crisis.

    • Citi plans crisis derivatives
      Credit specialists at Citi are considering launching the first derivatives intended to pay out in the event of a financial crisis. The firm has drawn up plans for a tradable liquidity index, known as the CLX, on which products could be structured that allow buyers to hedge a spike in funding costs.

    • Goldman Accused of Rigging "Robin Hood Tax" Vote
      It's really unbelievable. The way that Goldman Sachs keeps sticking its foot in it is simply unbelievable. Let's not review their gross profits and bonuses, or their many failed public relations schemes to gloss over unseemly profits, a practice we have dubbed "greedwashing". Let's simply recap this week's news.

      On Sunday, the New York Times detailed in a front-page expose' how Goldman may have hastened the demise of AIG, and perhaps the global economy, by betting that the housing market would collapse and jacking up its insurance for mortgage securities with AIG to extract more and more money from the firm as the housing market went south.

      On Tuesday, we reported that the respected German magazine Der Spiegel revealed that Goldman did a billion dollar deal with Greece in 2002, which helped that nation hide its staggering debt for years. Now Greece is teetering on the brink of default, a scenario that could lead to another global meltdown, and Goldman's role is coming under scrutiny. (Unlike the rest of the world, Goldman is probably hedged against a Greek collapse.)

    • Congress Needs to Clip Goldman's Wings
      The New York Times' front page exposé on the role that Goldman Sachs has played in the Greek tragedy unfolding in Europe right now raises a huge number of concerns both for the U.S. economy and the financial reform measures now in Congress.

      To recap, Greece and a number of other European Union (EU) countries are dangerously in debt. EU rules say member countries cannot have budget deficits that exceed three percent of GDP. Greece's debt is closer to 12 percent. Other countries including Spain, Ireland, Italy and Portugal are also in trouble. These countries are "too big to fail." A default by any one of them would rock the global markets, putting an end to the hopeful signs of an EU recovery and potentially leading to a "double dip" recession here in the United States.

      Greece and perhaps the other EU nations have been hiding the extent of the debt for years. This week, it was revealed that they have been able to do this with the aid of major U.S. players like Goldman Sachs. The German magazine Der Spiegel broke the story that Greece did a billion-dollar currency swap with Goldman Sachs in 2002 that did not show up on the nation's books as debt.

    • Goldman Sachs, Greece didn’t disclose swap, investors ‘fooled’
      Goldman Sachs Group Inc. managed US$15-billion of bond sales for Greece after arranging a currency swap that allowed the government to hide the extent of its deficit.

    • Greece facing Goldman Sachs debt deal scrutiny
      The deals, known as swaps, let some governments shrink the apparent size of their debts, unsettling news at a time when markets are taking stock of Europe's struggle with rising budget deficits.

    • Could Goldman Sachs be the Next “Major Threat to Homeland Security?”
      Have Goldman Sachs focused on their operational risks to the exclusion of all else, to the extent that their destruction is now politically convenient in the current US climate, and what tools could be used to achieve that end?

    • About This Whole Goldman Sachs–Greece Thing
      So how did Goldman get involved? In 2001, the bank helped Greece structure some complicated deals to help the country manage its debt. Goldman didn't invent the swaps; they were pretty common, and Italy as well as other countries used them, too. In fact, the deals were indirectly blessed by Eurostat, the statistics watchdog of the European Union, which included similar deals in its official handbook, according to Risk Magazine. Essentially, Greece called Goldman to create a way to delay and reduce the heavy interest payments on Greece's debt. Goldman's solution was to create currency swaps, which are deals in which a country or company will pay its debt in cheaper currency for a while.

    • Greece and Goldman Sachs
      The activities of Goldman Sachs in Greece are neither surprising nor novel. Indeed, Der Spiegel notes that Italy has engaged in similar activities with another bank for some time. The controversy highlights how difficult fiscal reform is in modern democracies. Today was Greece's day of reckoning, tomorrow could be America's. Anne Applebaum at Slate writes, "I have seen America's future and it is Greece."

    • Rumors Heat Up in Europe that Goldman Sachs and John Paulson Are Waging Attacks on Greece
      The rumors of a possible partnership by John Paulson and Goldman Sachs in the speculative attacks on Greece, which I first reported on last week, are now heating up in Europe to the point where one French journalist has multiple sources corroborating them. No one can point to hard evidence, just yet, because these are opaque, unregulated markets. But the news is quickly rising above the status of rumor.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • France Moves Closer to Unprecedented Internet Regulation
      The lower house of the French parliament has approved a draft bill that will allow the state unprecedented control over the Internet. Although the government says it will improve security for ordinary citizens, civil rights activists are warning of a "new level" of censorship and surveillance.

      For members of the French administration, it is a law against digital crime. For civil rights activists and politicians from opposition parties, it is a plan for censorship that excites fear and loathing -- and even conjures up the specter of Big Brother and the surveillance state.

    • Move over, Australia: France taking 'Net censorship lead
      Critics of government-mandated filtering schemes contend that such programs first focus on "child pornography" because it's such an unobjectionable target for censorship—but once the program is in place, it's much easier to extend it to more controversial areas, such as copyright protection. At least the French have the decency to admit that this is what's happening.

    • Student’s Facebook Tirade Against Teacher Is Protected Speech
      The score is 2-1 in favor of the First Amendment when it comes to three federal rulings this month on the limits of students’ online, off-campus speech.

      The latest ruling, which supports the student, concerned a former Florida high senior who was reprimanded for “cyberbullying” a teacher on Facebook. Katherine Evans, now 20, was suspended two years ago after creating a Facebook group devoted to her English teacher.

    • Facebook gripes protected by free speech, ruling says

  • Restriction/DRM

    • Nintendo wins lawsuit over R4 mod chip piracy
      An Australian distributor has been ordered to pay Nintendo over half a million dollars for selling video game piracy tool, the R4 mod chip.

      The Federal Court ordered that RSJ IT Solutions cease to sell the chip through its site and any other sites it controlled, as well as paying Nintendo $520,000 in damages.

    • Ubisoft DRM Gets Worse And Worse: Kicks You Out Of Game If You Have A Flakey WiFi Connection
      Last month, we wrote a bit about Ubisoft's bizarre anti-consumer policy of using DRM on games that requires an internet connection to check in (even if you're just playing locally).

    • Proof Network Investment and Innovation Matter to the Future of the Internet
      While it remains to be seen how widespread Google’s test will be, the FCC should take note that it is the extraordinary success that Google has enjoyed as a search and applications platform as well as one of America’s premiere advertising media that has generated the cash necessary to engage in this kind of high-capital cost experiment.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Disney's Takedown Of Roger Ebert's Tribute To Gene Siskel
      Notice that they think it's Disney again. How nice of them to repeatedly take down the videos of Ebert's tribute to his close friend. Just like copyright law intended.

    • Copyright Kremlinology: understanding the secret copyright treaty
      My latest Internet Evolution column, "Copyright Undercover: ACTA & the Web," talks about the absurd tea-leaf-reading exercise that we have to engage in to figure out what's actually happening with negotiations for a far-reaching, secret copyright treaty that could change the face of the web, privacy, creativity, competition, and commerce.

    • ACTA Needs to Be Public, Even if It's Just About 'Enforcement
      Supporters of the Anti Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) are careful to say it’s all about “enforcement.”

      Ambassador Ron Kirk, the United States Trade Representative, describes ACTA as aimed at “strengthening the framework of practices that contribute to effective enforcement, and strengthening relevant [intellectual propety] enforcement measures themselves.” The MPAA supports “a sound and comprehensive ACTA that codifies best practices for copyright enforcement.”

    • Debunking Reasons For ACTA Secrecy: Just Enforcement Doesn't Tell The Whole Story
      The fear here is that while ACTA might not technically change US law, it could easily change US procedures and policies on "enforcement" allowing the effective change in the law, without people even realizing it. He quotes Professor Thomas Main, saying:
      "procedural reforms can have the effect of denying substantive rights without the transparency, safeguards and accountability that attend public and legislative decision-making."
      And, indeed, this is what we've see in the leaked drafts of ACTA. While most (though, certainly not all) of the proposals that have been leaked don't necessarily include a direct change to US law, they often do subtly word things so that existing rights, safeguards and accountability are left out, just as Prof. Main warns. To make sure those subtle changes do not have serious impacts that let certain special interests (in the words of Rep. Dingell) "screw" the public, doesn't it make sense to reveal the contents of what's being negotiated?

    • Copyright staff get more than they give to authors and artists
      THE body established to pay authors for the use of their copyright last year spent more on its own staff -- including more than $350,000 for a chief executive -- than it paid authors and artists directly.

    • Australian copyright society blows more than it gives to artists: lavish salaries and junkets to Barbados

    • Camper Van Beethoven Funds Their SXSW Trip By Letting Fans Sponsor Songs At Their Performance
      Sounds like an excellent leveraging of a few of the scarcities that we've mentioned here before, in this case, attention, exclusivity and patronage. With the "Santa Cruz Roller Derby Girl," CVB's personality definitely shines through in this unique offer that should resonate nicely with their fans (in fact, I learned of this promotion via a friend sharing it through Google Buzz).

    • Interview with David Byrne
      I enjoyed David Byrne's presentation at TED2010. He spoke about the way artists create their music and other works to look and sound their best in the venue they appear in.

    • YouTube Joins Hulu In Letting Content Holders Block Access For TV-Connected Devices
      After all, if it's just a browser, why should the content creators care -- and why is Google helping them out in this regard? The line is blurring between various devices anyway and setting a special toggle that lets users block access to videos seen in a perfectly legal fashion on different types of devices seems pretty backwards. It's too bad Google even makes this an option -- and that anyone actually pays attention to it.

    • NBC's Delayed Telecasts Show A Company Living In The Last Century
      This is just bizarre. As NBC continues its screwed up process of broadcasting the Olympics by delaying the actual telecast of important events until prime time, apparently a bunch of folks are pissed off that real news sources are reporting on what's actually happened. They're targeting the wrong thing, of course. If they're upset that the news is being reported before it's being shown on TV, the real problem is NBC's decision not to show stuff live on TV or to webcast it for those who would prefer to see it live.

    • Music Journalism is the New Piracy
      Imagine you're a music journalist who maintains a blog. You've just found a great, new, virtually-unknown artist that you want to tell the world about. How can you do so, in a way that is simple and convenient for your readers, but does not place you or your blog's host at risk of being sued?

      Thanks to the increasingly aggressive copyright-enforcement tactics of the music industry, this has become a startlingly complicated question with no good answer.

      In the latest signal of this conundrum, at least six music blogs were deleted last week by Blogger due to copyright complaints. It's uncertain who made the accusations that lead to the deletions, but the most likely culprit is the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), a copyright-enforcement organization which had previously filed copright takedown notices against some of the targeted blogs.

    • Blocked Pirate Bay Users Flock to Other Torrent Sites
      Last week an Italian court ruled that ISPs should block access to The Pirate Bay. A few days later this block was enforced, but it is doubtful that the blockade will affect the piracy rate at all since other torrent sites are experiencing a massive increase in Italian visitors.

    • Music industry to musicbloggers: there's no point in obeying the law
      Last week, several high-profile, much-loved music blogs disappeared from Google's Blogspot service, after they were targetted by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI -- the international version of the RIAA). IFPI defended its action by saying "Our top priority is to prevent the continued availability of the IFPI Represented Companies' content on the internet."

    • Dolly, Rejection and Radiohead Journalism
      What does an award-winning journalist do when she has a great story, and no one will publish it? If she’s Paige Williams, she sets her work free and crowdsources the fee in an experiment she calls “Radiohead journalism.” Did she succeed?

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Christian Einfeldt's DTP presentation in Berlin 2004 07 (2004)

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