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Links 28/5/2010: GNOME Shell 2.31.2, Ubuntu Redesigns

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop (GNU/Linux Versus Windows)

    • Washing the windows myths. Ease of use.
      With the latest releases of both windows and Linux there is really not much to separate them in terms of ease of use and eye kandy. They both look really pretty at first glance and even have similar features. I would go so far as to say that both Linux and windows have "borrowed" ideas from each other. Personally I am quite happy with that as it makes it easier for people to migrate from windows to Linux ;P

    • World's Funniest Windows Error Messages
      Since some people have learned to look at the bright or should I say funny side of life, they have decided to create something out of those error messages. They have Photoshopped or edited some Windows error messages and made them look so realistic to try to tickle our funny bone.

  • Server

    • Top 5 Free Linux Distributions for Servers in 2010
      1. Debian

      Surely a seasoned pro with more than a decade of development. The distribution is entirely based volunteers bound by Debian social contract. There are leaders elected annually from and by members of the Debian project.

      Those using the up-to-date and they age rapidly, especially since the new stable releases are only published. The users who prefer the latest packages and technologies are forced to use the potentially buggy Debian testing and unstable branches.

  • Ballnux

  • Kernel Space

    • LinuxCon Program Announced: This Year’s Themes
      It’s been a hectic few months narrowing down the content for this year’s LinuxCon. Craig Ross and I have been working on this schedule for what seems like years, but we are very proud to announce it today. You can find it here.

      I think the program has an amazing mix of business, operations and of course developer content that reflects the growing ecosystem that is Linux. I’m especially proud of the technical content that features many of the best minds behind the kernel and other upstream Linux projects. But LinuxCon is much more than just technical kernel topics: it also has content touching mobile computing, cloud and legal and business issues facing enterprise IT managers today. Linux is now becoming dominant in mobile and cloud computing so it’s no surprise LinuxCon’s content matches those themes.

    • LinuxCon 2010 Program and Schedule Announced

  • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • Which Low Resource Linux Distribution Should You Use For Your Old Computer?
      If you have an old machine that no longer has an operating system, you don’t have to throw that machine away. You can put it to good use with an operating system that doesn’t require a fast processor or big disk drive. Fortunately there are plenty of Linux distributions that will work on your old hardware and run at fairly moderate speeds even if your machine is really old. There are quite a few Linux distributions that don’t demand too much resources so that your computer will run relatively fast.

      First of all, you need to stay away from distributions that use Gnome and KDE. These tend to use too many resources for old hardware and will cause the machine to lag way too much for basic applications. Look for these distributions that don’t use these graphical interfaces.

    • Measuring the popularity of distros – Part 2 Google Trends
      Here you can see that Linux Mint and PCLinuxOS do actually exist in Google’s eyes, but not compared to Ubuntu’s search rankings. Still they only have a fraction of the googles of OpenSUSE, which only has a fraction of the googles of Ubuntu.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mandriva Linux 2010 Spring background contest winners
        Here are the results of the contest Mandriva launched one month ago. Thanks everybody for your interest and for contributing, we had almost 150 photos submitted (rules were more strict this time for submission, explaining why submission pool was smaller).

        We had to pick 10 photos, choice was really hard. You will find below the 10 winners. Note that we have a 11th photo we wanted to add as we found it really nice (and it is from one of the 10 winners). Again congrats for all contributers and especially to the winners.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Szulik to step down as Red Hat chairman
        Matthew Szulik, chairman of Red Hat’s board of directors, is stepping down in August after his term expires, according to a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

      • Fedora

        • Review: Fedora 13 "Goddard"
          As far as I am concerned, I consider Fedora a distro suited for experienced and advanced users, and Fedora13 is no exception.

        • Fedora 13
          Summary: Fedora 13 adds social media to the desktop, the GNOME Color Manager and numerous other updates and enhancements. It’s definitely worth an upgrade if you’re currently using Fedora 12.

          Rating: 3.5/5

        • Fedora 13: Boring yet Good
          Overall: 4/5 (Good)

        • Fedora Remix “Lucky13″ featuring mintMenu
          A few months ago, I talked about mintMenu being ported to Fedora. I was excited to see it happen. Using technologies such as Git and we can easily fork projects and keep track of the improvements and bug fixes done on each fork. Commits can be selectively applied and so the more our technologies are forked, the more momentum they get, the more communities provide feedback and ideas for them, and the faster they improve.

    • Ubuntu

      • Canonical, Ubuntu: We’re More Than Mark Shuttleworth
        Shuttleworth will need similar help to keep Canonical moving in the right direction, especially as new rivals potentially step in to acquire Novell and/or Mandriva.

      • Ubuntu Lucid Lynx 10.04 can read your iPhone's secrets

      • Design

        • The Challenge of Understanding Icons
          As these results suggest, our methodology should help us develop a systemic representation of icon attributes from which we can build a coherent design language and it promises to provide pointers to problem areas as it suggests alternative interpretations. Some of the learnings from this first effort...

        • The keyboard menu
          Quite often, designers work on a design for something they’re unlikely to use themselves. This is a situation I’ve found myself in the past few weeks, designing a new keyboard menu for Ubuntu.


          At UDS earlier this month we discussed the new menu. We’d also like your feedback on the full specification, especially if you use input methods or multiple keyboard layouts.

        • New Ubuntu website live
          The official website has finally gone live with its new re-branded design.

      • Ubuntu Control Center

        • Contributing Back to Gnome?
          I was reading about the Ubuntu Control Center-UCC fever from a lot of blogs and twitter from people linked to the Ubuntu Community.

          The author did a very good job. He made glowing lights come out from people’s eyes staring at the application layout looking very Ubuntuish.

        • Ubuntu Control Center (ucc) - Simple tool for ubuntu administration
          Ubuntu Control Center or UCC is an application inspired by Mandriva Control Center and aims to centralize and organize in a simple and intuitive form the main configuration tools for Ubuntu distribution. UCC uses all the native applications already bundled with Ubuntu, but it also utilize some third-party apps like “Hardinfo”, “Boot-up Manager”, “GuFW” and “Font-Manager”.

        • Ubuntu Control Centre project aims to make System config simple

      • Reviews

        • Review: Ubuntu Unleased 2010 Edition: Covering 9.10 and 10.4

        • Karmic To Lucid – A Few Bumps
          Ubuntu improves a bit with each release. This release is no exception. I recommend that all Ubuntu users do the upgrade as long as their equipment permits it.

        • Review: Ubuntu 10.04 Server Edition
          KMS would be especially nice in a server environment without X installed.

        • Ubuntu 10.04 review
          We are in the middle of another release cycle. Folks in the community are busing updating their systems, and demoing distributions that hold promise. Should Ubuntu 10.04, Lucid Lynx, be on your demo list? I can’t answer that for you. The best I can do to help you decide, is present to you a list of features that should make you smile and also ones I think will not be good for your blood pressure.

      • Variants

        • Linux Mint 9: A Fresh Spin on Ubuntu
          In addition to the use of SLAB, Mint has its own Software Manager as well as its own Software Updater that look different and are more streamlined than Ubuntu’s. Mint also includes its own software/file backup tool.

        • Qimo 2.0 is now available!
          After much hard work, and some delay, we are pleased to bring your the second version of our popular Linux Desktop for Kids!

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Nokia

      • MeeGo 1.0 (Moblin + Maemo) - Linux Based OS By Intel And Nokia - Has Been Released!
        ConnMan (which is sponsored by both Intel and Nokia) is used for connection management - application which Ubuntu will also use for its 10.10 Netbook Edition, as well as Telephony APIs (oFono) for telephony services.

      • MeeGo Netbook Performance: It's Beating Ubuntu & Co
        Finally, we have our Bootchart numbers for the four distributions. With Fedora 13, prior to collecting the boot metrics, we set the GDM to automatically login to the GNOME desktop, since the three other desktops all use auto-logins as well.

        Fedora 13 had a boot time of 23 seconds, Moblin 2.1 had a boot time of 18.45 seconds, Ubuntu Netbook Remix 10.04 came in at 17.31 seconds, and MeeGo had a boot time of just 8.151 seconds.

    • Android

      • Motorola Shadow glimpsed in the wild: 4.1-inch screen, 8MP camera, OMAP3630 processor?
        Leave it to the very same poster who teased the Motorola Shadow's Getting Started manual, wnrussell of Howard Forums, to provide a pretty clear shot of the device itself -- yep, that's a HDMI out port -- and reveal some purported specs. Here's the claimed technical details: 4.1-inch screen, TI OMAP 3630 processor (a 720MHz ARM Cortex A8), 8GB internal storage, 8 megapixel camera.

    • OLPC

      • $100 computing in 2010
        It’s time to take the old meme of $100 computing seriously.

      • OLPC's Negroponte Says XO-3 Prototype Tablet Coming in 2010
        One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project founder Nicholas Negroponte said that the organization is accelerating its development of the XO-3 tablet computer and will have a working prototype by December 2010, two years ahead of projections. Negroponte said the final product would cost US$75.

      • One Laptop per Child and Marvell Join Forces to Redefine Tablet Computing for Students Around the World
        One Laptop per Child (OLPC), a global organization whose mission is to help provide every child in the world access to a modern education, and Marvell, a worldwide leader in integrated silicon solutions, have agreed to jointly develop a family of next-generation OLPC XO tablet computers based on the Marvell€® Moby reference design. This new partnership will provide designs and technologies to enable a range of new educational tablets, delivered by OLPC and other education industry leaders, aimed at schools in both the U.S. and developing markets. Marvell is also announcing today it has launched Mobylize, a campaign aimed at improving technology adoption in America's classrooms.

      • The OLPC's real importance is as a conversation starter
        The One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) project is looking to launch a prototype of its XO-3 later this year. The real advantage of having the OLPC around is as a product conversation starter and design influence.

        IDG News Service reports that the OLPC is speeding up the development of the XO-3 tablet, which wasn’t supposed to land until 2012. The idea is that this tablet would cost $75. OLPC also provided details on its blog.

    • Tablets

      • Enterprise Mobility: Dell Streak Tablet, Unlike Apple iPad, Is Also a Phone, Supports Flash
        Dell introduced the Streak, a tablet with a 5-inch touch screen and the Android OS, May 25. Unlike the Apple iPad, the Streak is also a phone, offers multitasking and can support Adobe’s Flash for viewing video and animations. Its size, however, may give some consumers pause. Some analysts have called it an oversized Android smartphone targeted at high-end consumers wanting a tablet-style Web-browsing experience.

      • enTourage to Partner with The Douglas Stewart Company to Bring eDGe to Schools
        It houses two screens – one with an eInk display, and the other an LCD – for maximum functionality and flexibility. You can use one side exclusively to read, the other side exclusively as a tablet, or both sides to create a netbook-like experience. It would be perfect for students and teachers alike to use in a class-room (especially considering the cost of books and the probability that they’ll be beat up over a short period of time).

      • Via Says $100 Android Tablets Will Challenge the IPad This Year
        Via Technologies Inc., the Taiwanese computer-processor company, expects $100 tablet devices containing its chips to reach the U.S. in the second half of 2010, offering a cheaper alternative to the iPad.

        About five different models, ranging in price from $100 to $150, will be available, Richard Brown, vice president of marketing at Via, said in an interview. The new computers, made by the company’s Chinese customers, will run Google Inc.’s Android operating system.

    • Acer

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source Makes a Difference
    The obvious reason to use open source software is cost savings, says Mark Madsen, president of market research firm Third Nature. But, whether you actually save when it comes to license and support costs is the question among many.

    Using public sources and vendor information, Madsen created a Pentaho-sponsored cost comparison report (“Lowering the Cost of Business Intelligence With Open Source”), comparing BI software and support costs from Pentaho, IBM (Cognos), MicroStrategy, Oracle and SAP (Business Objects).

  • An Open Source Principle: One Good Thing Leads To Another
    In open source, the idea that the endgame for a project won't necessarily closely resemble the origin is a given, not a surprise. It's part of the point of open source. If you look at what's going on on the open source scene, now, you see this concept being played out all around.

  • The Contributor's Code: What Should be Expected of FLOSS Contributors?
    Free and open source projects provide an amazing example of what volunteer contributors can do. While many folks are paid to work on open source, there's still an enormous amount of work done by volunteers. Like any volunteer work, though, contributions can be disrupted by more pressing work and personal issues. What do, or should, contributors commit to when volunteering with a project?

  • Will an open source BitTorrent be good or bad?
    BitTorrent has decided to open source its new uTorrent protocol, which has now entered a public beta.

    The software is available at GitHub and the license can be viewed here. Reportedly this is the MIT License.

  • Mozilla

    • Mozilla hires open-standards guru Celik
      Firefox parent company Mozilla Corp. has hired Tantek Çelik, a well-known figure in the developer and open-Web community, for the role of Web standards lead.

      But as Mozilla deals with internal issues and a continued threat from Google's Chrome, where exactly does this hire fit in? CNET spoke with Çelik on Tuesday, on the eve of his first day at the new job, and rather than talking about keeping ahead of Chrome or dealing with Facebook's increasing dominance, he said that what's really in his crosshairs is the iPhone--and how pretty it makes everything.

  • Business


    • RMS: AMA
      Richard Stallman has agreed to answer your top ten questions. RMS will answer the top ten comments in this thread (using "best" comment sorting) as of 12pm ET on June 2nd. This will be a text only interview (no video). Ask him anything!

  • Government

    • TR: Ministry of Justice and law courts consider open source desktop
      Turkey's ministry of Justice, all of its institutions and all law courts are considering to move or partly move to a complete open source desktop, according to judge Cengiz Tanrikulu. That migration would complete the implementation of an information system built on open source software, the National Judiciary Informatics System (UYAP, Ulusal Yargi AÄŸi Projesi).

      Judge Tanrikulu, involved in the development of UYAP, said the government's law offices are considering a move to Pardus, a Linux distribution primarily developed by Turkey's Research Institute of Electronics and Cryptology. "We are already using OpenOffice on all of the desktops. We began using OpenOffice in 2007 and it has helped us to save billions."

      The judge presented UYAP in Amsterdam in a workshop organised by NOiV, the Dutch government project on open standards and open source, on Wednesday.

      Development of UYAP started in 2000 with a document management system, built using open source components. It offers access to legal documents to civil workers at the ministry, at law courts, police, prisons, prosecution, Home Office and to the Land Registry. The system can also be accessed by any mobile phone.

  • Licensing

    • Google demands more openness from the Open Source Initiative
      Google’s open source programs manager, Chris DiBona has asked the Open Source Initiative to delay consideration of Google’s WebM license, and in doing so has called on the OSI to be more open. Specifically, DiBona said Google “will want a couple of changes to how OSI does licenses” and that he thinks “that OSI needs to be more open about its workings to retain credibility in the space”.

      DiBona statement came in response to Bruce Perens’ request for the OSI’s License Discuss mailing list to consider the WebM license introduced by Google for its VP8 video codec, and follows the declaration by Open Source Initiative board member, Simon Phipps, that WebM is “not open source”.

  • Openness

    • Over Bogus Industry Studies On Co
      CC Korea prepares "The 1st Shared Film Festival" for showing and sharing global movies with CC License. The festival, lasting from June 3 to June 9, will be held at Cine-maru located in Seoul, South Korea.

    • Open Data

      • What We Can Learn From the Guardian’s New Open Platform
        The Guardian isn’t the kind of tech-savvy enterprise one would normally look to for guidance on digital issues or Internet-related topics. For one thing, it’s not a startup — it’s a 190-year-old newspaper. And it’s not based in Palo Alto, Calif., but in London Manchester, England. The newspaper company, however, is doing something fairly revolutionary by simply changing the way it thinks about value creation and where that comes from in an online world.

      • DRM: Publishers don’t want it. So why?
        I should make it clear that although I campaign gently for Open Access publishing (as opposed to frenetically for Open Data) I accept that there are closed-access publishers. My concern there is that they make it clear what they are providing, what rights they have extracted from the author, what restrictions they have placed on the reader (sorry, enduser-customer) and whether they provide reasonable value for money. For example, a closed-access publisher usually has an Open Access option where authors can pay – in some cases this is very good value (e.g. Acta Crystallographica) and in others (ACS) it’s very poor (the freely visible material is not open and festooned with restrictions).

      • Open Government and open data
        In a classic example of the Broken Window Fallacy successive governments have regarded the data they, or government-supported monopolies such as the Post Office, collected as the government’s property to be monetised to the hilt. They have also kept many details of their own working practices secret. In this article I will deal with the case for as much openness as is possible in both these areas: government produced data and data about government.

        So, first on government produced data. The previous government had some good track record on the principles here, passing the Freedom of Information Act and setting up The principles were right here, but they failed to go the distance and truly change the attitudes embedded in government that data by default should be kept secret and only opened up when necessary. the incoming government need to work hard to change this attitude and free the data. Unless it is PII (see Lilian’s article on the challenges for the new government on privacy) government data should be free (as in speech). Very narrow lines requiring significant work to justify closure should be put in place otherwise.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Academia as a Commons
        The very mission and identity of academia is implicated in the future of digital technologies, the Internet and copyright law. At stake is the ability of colleges and universities to act as inter-generational stewards of knowledge… to assure that their own scholarly output is freely accessible and usable…. to curate knowledge in better ways and to disseminate it as broadly as possible….and to foster innovative research and learning.

    • Open Hardware

  • Programming

    • Django 1.2 Brings Security Improvements
      The Django Web framework got a major update this week with the release of Django 1.2 on Monday. This release brings some security improvements, better email handling, performance improvements, and better localization support.

    • [Eclipse:] Call for Participation
      We consider everyone who attends ESE to be a participant. When you come to the conference, you're learning and teaching about Eclipse by attending the sessions, talking with colleagues, and joining in the networking at the social events.


  • Vulnerability contest - Find the oldest bug!

  • Zer01 Loses $43 Million Judgement For Vaporware
    Last summer we skeptically directed your attention to a carrier by the name of Zer01, which was promising users unlimited voice and data on smart phones for $69.95/month, without a contract. The service claimed to use a VoIP application to route all calls. According to the founders, the service tunneled over GSM networks, though Zer01 claimed to have their own IP network -- and claimed to be using interconnect (roaming) agreements to make calls. In short, Zer01 was supposed to be a mobile virtual network enabler (MVNE).

  • The developer obsession with code names, 114 interesting examples
    So what kind of code names are developers out there coming up with? Here is a collection of code names for software products from companies like Google, Microsoft, Apple, Canonical, Red Hat, Adobe, Mozilla, Automattic and more. We’ve tried to give some background information where possible. You’ll notice that some code name schemes are definitely more out there than others.

  • Wyoming judge blocks news stories on college trip
    In a rare move, a Wyoming judge has blocked two newspapers from publishing stories on an internal report about a college president's trip to Costa Rica, saying the report was improperly taken and that releasing details could prompt the federal government to cut college grant money.

  • No Contempt, No Jail for Spamming a Judge
    The Chicago judge’s inbox was flooded with hundreds of messages, and his Blackberry froze. He promptly found Trudeau — who was being sued by the Federal Trade Commission — in contempt of court and sentenced him to jail. The term was stayed pending appeal.

  • Times Online Says Competitors Will Go Out Of Business Without A Paywall
    As Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. get ready to begin their latest paywall experiments with the Times of London and the Sunday Times, the company has revealed a few more details, and it looks like this particular paywall will be fairly complete. Unlike the WSJ, this won't be a "leaky" paywall. The content will be opted out of Google, and there will be no way to get to it, unless you subscribe at the rather hefty price of €£1 per day. What's amazing is that the folks behind this experiment still think it's going to be a huge success -- even as nearly all of the papers' competitors are remaining steadfastly free.

  • Revenue per Employee – Key Stats from Technology Companies

  • Science

    • X-51A races to hypersonic record
      The scramjet engine in the experimental aircraft burned for a little over three minutes at around 10 a.m. PDT Wednesday in a test range over the Pacific Ocean, pushing the X-51A to the hypersonic speed of Mach 5, or five times the speed of sound. That was the top speed reached by the aircraft in its brief flight, according to Boeing and press reports citing U.S. Air Force officials. (Editors' note: A separate Air Force News Service report had initially cited a higher speed, but was amended to give the Mach 5 figure.)

    • Sony shows off super-flexible OLED display

    • Tracking the Ancestry of Corn Back 9,000 Years
      It is now growing season across the Corn Belt of the United States. Seeds that have just been sown will, with the right mixture of sunshine and rain, be knee-high plants by the Fourth of July and tall stalks with ears ripe for picking by late August.


      But George W. Beadle, while a graduate student at Cornell University in the early 1930s, found that maize and teosinte had very similar chromosomes. Moreover, he made fertile hybrids between maize and teosinte that looked like intermediates between the two plants. He even reported that he could get teosinte kernels to pop. Dr. Beadle concluded that the two plants were members of the same species, with maize being the domesticated form of teosinte. Dr. Beadle went on to make other, more fundamental discoveries in genetics for which he shared the Nobel Prize in 1958. He later became chancellor and president of the University of Chicago.

  • Security/Aggression

  • Environment

    • Despite Moratorium, Drilling Projects Move Ahead
      In the days since President Obama announced a moratorium on permits for drilling new offshore oil wells and a halt to a controversial type of environmental waiver that was given to the Deepwater Horizon rig, at least seven new permits for various types of drilling and five environmental waivers have been granted, according to records.

    • Gov’t Subsidizes Deep-Water Drilling With Big Tax Breaks
      By now there’s little debate that the technology used to obtain oil in deeper waters was developed and rapidly put into use before safety technology could keep up. As we’ve noted, that’s a development that regulators allowed, despite their concerns.

    • Shifting BP's Clean Up Costs to Consumers? Say It Ain't So!
      Who is going to pay to clean up BP's disastrous oil spill, besides BP? After all, they made $14 billion in profit last year alone. BP has asserted it will pay all "legitimate claims" for damages -- talk about a lot of wiggle room there -- but beyond actual cleanup costs, BP's economic damage liability is legislatively, and outrageously, capped at $75 million, a pittance to a company that made 186 times that amount in profit in 2009. Senate Democrats attempted to increase the liability cap to $10 billion by proposing and passing a bill, but their efforts were thwarted by Senate Republicans. The current tally for the cleanup cost stands at $760 million, but that is surely understated.

    • More Reports of Illness Emerge Among Gulf Cleanup Workers
      Fishermen hired by BP to help with the oil spill cleanup in the Gulf of Mexico are coming down sick with “severe headaches, dizziness, nausea and difficulty breathing” after working long hours in oil- and dispersant-contaminated waters, according to the Los Angeles Times.

    • Crisis Commons releases open source oil spill reporting
      Crisis Commons has released a new open data initiative to enable response organizations to report from the oil spill. Oil Reporter allows response workers to capture and share data with the public as they respond to the Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.

    • Deepwater Horizon Blowout: This is What the End of the Oil Age Looks Like
      There will be plenty of blame to go around, as events leading up to the fatal rig explosion are sorted out. Even if efforts to plug the gushing leak succeed sooner rather than later, the damage to the Gulf environment and to the economy of the region will be incalculable and will linger for years if not decades.

    • Push to teach "other side" of global warming heats up in Colorado's Mesa County
      A national group that thinks global warming is "junk science" and that teaching it is unnecessarily scaring schoolchildren brought its first petition effort for "balanced education" to Mesa County Schools on Tuesday night.

      Rose Pugliese, an unsuccessful candidate for a District 51 school board seat in the last election, presented a petition with 700 signatures to the board asking that science teachers stop giving lessons on global warming.

    • Don't Even Mention Global Warming to Kids
      A new group called "Balanced Education for Everyone"(BEE) is rolling out a national effort to stop the teaching of global warming in schools, calling it "unnecessary."

    • Daily Dump: A Creative Commons Concept for Composting Worldwide
      Why throw away valuables as waste? That is the simple yet profound idea behind Daily Dump. As of May 2010 Daily Dump customers keep 4095.8 kgs of organic waste out of landfills every day. Simply because Daily Dump enables them to do so.

    • Protecting biodiversity reduces poverty in developing nations
      Among conservationists, policy-makers, and the public, there is great debate about whether the establishment of national parks and reserves in developing nations causes poverty or helps to alleviate it. While opponents claim that protected areas limit agricultural development and the harvesting of natural resources, supporters contend that protected areas generate tourism income and improve infrastructure in the surrounding areas. A new study in PNAS this week suggests that, in the long term, establishing protected areas in developing nations does reduce poverty in local communities.

  • Finance

    • E.U. Proposes Bank Levy to Pay for Future Crises
      A European Union official proposed Wednesday that member states tax banks to raise money for a fund that would be used specifically to manage future financial crises.

    • Geithner Sees Consensus on Finance Reform
      Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner said in Berlin on Thursday that the United States and Europe were in “broad agreement” on the need for stricter market regulation but stressed that they would take different paths when necessary.

    • Creepy Pennsylvania Tax Agency Ad Goes Big Brother
      A threatening TV commercial appearing in Pennsylvania has residents of the state spooked by its "Orwellian" overtones, and critics are calling it a government attempt to scare delinquent citizens into paying back taxes.

    • Proposed Overhaul of Accounting Standards Contains Mark-to-Market Rule
      The group that sets corporate accounting standards proposed an overhaul Wednesday of the way lenders record the value of their assets, hoping that more stringent and consistent reporting rules might help avert another financial crisis.

    • Not Enough Skin in the Game
      There is a fifth way to improve the financial reform bill that has received scant notice. Both the House and Senate versions are almost identical on this point, because the authors of the pertinent section were evidently not familiar with current industry practice. The bills require that the packagers of asset-backed securities that fail to meet certain underwriting standards (which have yet to be specified) retain ownership of 5 percent of those securities. The basic idea is that by requiring issuers of subprime securities to have some “skin in the game” (a phrase used in the Senate bill summary), they will have the incentive to be more careful underwriters.

    • Down Under Consumers Leading the Way?
      The fees in question are honour and dishonour fees on overdrawn bank accounts and over-limit and late payment fees on credit cards. Financial Redress refers to these as “exception fees” and alleges that the banks have been charging customers an “unfair” amount. Customers are both individuals and businesses.

    • So Damn Little Money
      Or look at the lifetime contributions by the financial sector to (some) senators who voted for and against the Brown-Kaufman amendment, which would have imposed a hard size cap and a hard leverage cap on the biggest banks – over $2 million per senator by this one partial count.

      But wait. This is actually very little money considering what is at stake. For an individual large firm actively engaged in derivatives trading, the stakes could easily be in the billions of dollars. For the big banks as a whole, the amount they will be allowed to earn (and pay themselves) as a result of the failure of these financial reforms is – conservatively speaking – in the tens of billions of dollars.

    • Bank Fight Continues -- Now It's Lincoln v. Obama
      Not long after the financial crisis, it was clear that the “solutions” that would emerge from the administration would be weak. With Tim Geithner and Larry Summers in the driver’s seat it was clear that there would be no bold transformative vision, no “New Deal” for the 21st century, but tweaks like a “systemic risk regulator” that would somehow endow failed regulatory bodies with the foresight needed to predict the next crisis and the back bone needed to take decisive action.

    • Exclusive: US Probes Goldman's Timberwolf Deal, Alleged Victim Says 'Whole Thing Was Fraudulent Concoction
      The federal prosecutors investigating Goldman Sachs are focusing on Timberwolf, the infamous "shitty deal" repeatedly cited in a tense Senate hearing last month, according to people who have been contacted by the Manhattan U.S. Attorney's office.

    • The Last Hold Out: Senator Blanche Lincoln Against 13 Bankers
      Legal authority against market manipulation would be greatly strengthened and there would be more protection for whistleblowers. And the kind of transaction that Goldman entered into with Greece – a swap transaction with the goal of reducing measured debt levels, effectively deceiving current and future investors, would become more clearly illegal. All of this is entirely reasonable and responsible – and completely opposed by the most powerful people on Wall Street.

      Of course, most of the anti-Lincoln fire has been directed against the idea that “swaps desks” would be “pushed out” to subsidiaries – i.e., the big broker-dealers could still engage in these transactions, but they would need to hold a great deal more capital against their exposures, thus making the activities significantly less profitable.

      It is striking that while Treasury argues that increasing capital is the way to go with regard to financial reform, they are adamantly opposed to what would amount to more reasonable capital levels at the heart of the derivatives business.

      This is beyond disappointing.

    • Goldman Sachs Girds for Battle With the SEC Over Fraud Case
      Goldman Sachs is preparing to file a full-blown, point-by-point defense against the fraud allegations filed by the Securities and Exchange Commission, according to people familiar with the matter.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • The smart paranoid's guide to using Google
      Google is nearly everyone's best friend. But have you ever stopped to think about just how much Google knows about you?

    • So, Why Do We Trust Google with Our Data?

    • Bordentown Mayor James Lynch Seeks to Shut Down
      There's so much wrong with Mayor Lynch's resolution that I can't quite get my head around it. Even if the gripe site has published false and defamatory statements about the mayor or his family, shutting down the entire site would not only be ham-handed, it would be blatantly unconstitutional.

    • Australia official: Google deliberately took Wi-Fi data
      It is hard to understand why some enterprising TV company hasn't already created a game show called "Breach of Privacy." This would entail people telling their stories of the most egregious ways in which their privacy was removed from them, with viewers voting for the winners.

    • Google Balks at Turning Over Private Internet Data to Regulators
      Google has balked at requests from regulators to surrender Internet data and fragments of e-mail messages that it collected from unsecured home wireless networks, saying it needed time to resolve legal issues.

    • European Commission seeks high privacy standards in EU-US data protection agreement
      The European Commission today adopted a draft mandate to negotiate a personal data protection agreement between the European Union and the United States when cooperating to fight terrorism or crime. The aim is to ensure a high level of protection of personal information like passenger data or financial information that is transferred as part of transatlantic cooperation in criminal matters. The agreement would enhance the right of citizens to access, rectify or delete data, where appropriate. EU citizens would receive a right to seek judicial redress in the US if their data is unlawfully processed. Independent public authorities would be given a stronger role in helping people exercise their privacy rights and in supervising transatlantic data transfers. The Council must approve the Commission's negotiating mandate before talks can begin. The European Parliament will be fully informed at all stages of the negotiations and will have to give its consent to the outcome of the negotiations.

    • Guy Who Encouraged People To Commit Suicide Online Banned From The Internet
      While there's no way to defend what this guy did, so far this whole case seems to go in dangerous directions, both from the standpoint of free speech questions, as well as overly aggressive internet bans, due to one particular activity done on the internet.

    • Experts say censorship not the way to stop terrorists from recruiting online
      Censoring websites used by terrorist groups to recruit supporters is counterproductive, according to expert testimony on the Hill Wednesday.

      Any laws or regulations aimed at blocking or removing extremist web content could hamper law enforcement's ability to collect information on the groups, according to civil liberties advocates at a hearing of the House Select Committee on Homeland Security.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Gameloft Keeps Getting it Wrong
      This time around we've learned that the DRM and app protection is unlike anything we've seen on the platform.

      Short version: Any games you purchase from them are good for only one install on one device. That's it.

    • Blizzard boss says DRM is a waste of time
      His company - which is responsible for the biggest videogame of all time, the worryingly-addictive online fantasy role player World of Warcraft - is to release Starcraft 2 on July 27th and Pearce has told Videogamer that the title won't be hobbled with the kind of crazy copy protection schemes which have made Ubisoft very unpopular in gaming circles of late.

    • Invasive DRM systems are dangerous from a security perspective
      In recent times, it seems to be an increasing trend for anti-copying software DRM systems to install invasive privileged software. For example, there’s the ever so infamous “Sony DRM Rootkit” that Mark Russinovich publicly exposed some time ago. Unfortunately, software like this is becoming commonplace nowadays.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • A Look At How The Fashion Industry Thrives Without Copyright
      The thing that disappointed me about the presentation, frankly, is that while it's titled: "Lessons from fashion's free culture" Blakely never really gets that deeply into the lessons. She does talk about a few other areas of creative endeavors where copyright is not allowed for the most part (recipes, cars, furniture, etc.) and has an amusing slide that compares the revenue generated in industries with copyright and those not protected by copyright (the "not protected by copyright" part vastly outweighs the "protected by copyright" side). I'd like to see that slide in a bit more detail, because, while amusing, it threatens to fall into the same trap as the recent Chamber of Commerce report that tries to claim the exact opposite. It says that copyright protected industries contribute a lot more to the economy than non-covered industries. In both cases, though, I fear that there's some cherry-picking of data and questionable classifications.

      I do think that there's a ton to learn from industries like the fashion industry -- including suggestions on ways those lessons can be applied to industries like music and movies. Hopefully we'll start seeing a deeper analysis on that soon.

    • Roderick Long Finally Realizes IP is Unjustified

    • Cory Doctorow: Publish books free online
      Politically engaged and disarmingly geeky, Cory Doctorow is one of the better-known faces of the digital revolution: co-editor of the celebrated blog Boing Boing ("a directory of wonderful things"), he is also author of half-a-dozen science fiction novels and a journalist. Born in Canada, the 38-year-old writer now lives in London, although when we speak, he's in the US, promoting his latest book, For the Win. This tells a story of teens rebelling against global corporations and is pitched at the "young adult" market. As with all his fiction, the book has been released simultaneously in bookshops and, for free, online.

    • Letter to MacBreak's Scott Bourne about Open Source and the Free Market
      That said, I agree with you that there is no "religious" reason for a given individual or firm to use open source over non-open -- whatever works better and is the better deal for you, of course. And in fact the "open source" model is not without problems: it also relies on copyright, and has insidious aspects -- that's one reason I, as an anti-copyright type, prefer public domain or creative commons attribution only instead of the share-alike/GNU type model (which I explain in Copyright is very sticky!, Eben Moglen and Leftist Opposition to Intellectual Property, and Leftist Attacks on the Google Book Settlement).

    • GM Sued Because Of Einstein Ad
      Albert Einstein is among the world's top-earning dead people, and an Israeli university that holds rights to his image is asking General Motors Co. to pay for putting the physics pioneer in a magazine ad.

    • Let's Make the Visually Impaired Full Digital Citizens
      As I wrote recently in my Open... blog, copyright is about making a fair deal: in return for a government-supported, time-limited monopoly, creators agree to place their works in the public domain after that period has expired. But that monopoly also allows exceptions, granted for various purposes like the ability to quote limited extracts, or the ability to make parodies (details depend on jurisdiction.)

      The industries based around copyright's intellectual monopoly don't like those exceptions, and fight tooth and nail against any extensions of them. Naturally enough, you might say – after all, they're businesses, and it's they're duty to shareholders to maximise their profits. But sometimes this reflexive refusal to compromise a jot because of concerns about the bottom line goes too far. As, I would suggest, in this case.

      A draft treaty has been prepared by the World Blind Union, and put forward by the WIPO Delegations of Brazil, Ecuador and Paraguay in May 2009. In essence, this treaty seeks to allow those with visual impairments to read books that are currently unavailable to them – a staggering 95% of the total market.

    • Industry minister admits to breaking copyright law to build iPod collection
      Industry Minister Tony Clement has an admission to make: He built his impressive music library on his iPod in part by breaking Canada's copyright law.

    • Copyrights

      • Should Customs decide what's a circumvention device?
        The Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) is a complex and highly controversial statute, and the anti-circumvention provisions in section 1201 are some of its most complex and controversial components. Despite more than a decade’s worth of judicial interpretation, there remain plenty of unsettled questions about just what constitutes circumvention and just what constitutes a protected technological measure. And what we do know for sure makes a strong case that the anti-circumvention provisions are overbroad and have significant and harmful unintended consequences.

      • David Byrne Sues Florida Gov. Charlie Crist For $1 Million
        David Byrne is suing the governor of Florida, alleging that he used the Talking Heads' 1985 single "Road to Nowhere" without permission or proper licenses.

      • GS valedictory Class Day speech plagiarized? (UPDATE: Yeah, it definitely was)

      • Anonymous accused Bittorrent user moves to quash subpoena using real name
        Some have already commented on their scruples arising from the large economies of scale approach to copyright litigation that’s being undertaken by lawyers with the U.S. Copyright Group to go after Bittorrent movie sharers. See, for example, what Mike Masnick and Eriq Gardner have had to say. And the ISPs aren’t all that happy about the work required to respond to a bunch of subpoenas.

      • Law Firm Asks Alleged File-Sharers To Incriminate Themselves
        Lawyers ACS:Law in the UK are now into their second year of threatening alleged pirates with legal action. Since they don’t have a good case when people deny their allegations, for some time now the firm has been sending out questionnaires which allow people to build a case against themselves. As a UK consumer magazine is pointing out, people don’t have to play this game.

      • Is Time Warner Cable about to be sued for copyright infringement?
        The legal campaign that targets tens of thousands of alleged movie pirates on BitTorrent is getting more interesting. Now one of the nation's largest ISPs could be held responsible for facilitating copyright infringement.

        Yesterday, Thomas Dunlap at the U.S. Copyright Group filed his response to Time Warner Cable's motion to quash or modify thousands of subpoena requests. TWC had asked the court to require no more than 28 IP address lookup requests per month, citing the burden of having to comply with discovery requests that were "far out of line with other comparable copyright infringement cases."

      • Self-help guru Wayne Dyer sued for stealing from Tao book
        Popular self-help author Wayne Dyer has been accused of helping himself to someone else's book.

        In a copyright infringement lawsuit filed today in U.S. District Court in Los Angeles, author Stephen Mitchell says Dyer "copied verbatim a significant portion" of his interpretation of the ancient Taoist scripture Tao Te Ching in two separate books.

      • Time Warner Cable Resists Mass BitTorrent Lawsuit
        A consortium of independent film producers is hitting a stumbling block in its plan to simultaneously sue thousands of BitTorrent users for allegedly downloading pirated movies. Time Warner Cable is refusing to look up and turn over the identities of about a thousand of its customers targeted in the lawsuits, on the grounds that the effort would require three months of full-time work by its staff.

      • Viacom-Google Unsealed: Take Two: Viacom Exec: ‘YouTube Mostly Behaves’

      • Lady Gaga’s Manager: We Make Music Videos For YouTube

      • Amanda Palmer And OK Go Get Together To Celebrate Being Dropped From Their Record Labels
        Recently, we've noted some similarities between Amanda Palmer and the band OK Go, in that both had been signed to major record label deals, both had built up an amazing (and amazingly loyal) group of fans through various means (different for each) using methods totally outside of their major label marketing effort (which was somewhat lacking in both cases)... and last month, both were officially dropped from their label deals.

      • NetCoalition/CCIA Reinforces Recent Comments To IP Czar Over Bogus Industry Studies On Copyright
        The filing talks about those three reports -- all of which we've discussed here previously -- to reiterate some of the key points made in the original filing. The first, of course, is the GAO report that debunked the claims from industry studies about all of the "losses" caused by infringement. Amusingly, that GAO report was required by the same law that created the IP Czar position in the first place, the ProIP Act. The filing notes, by the way, that the GAO's mandate for the report didn't even say it had to investigate copyright infringement -- just counterfeiting. However, the GAO appears to have been so troubled by the bogus reports out there that it decided to publicly call those studies into question. As this new filing points out, many of the comments filed by groups in support of strong copyright enforcement, relied on those reports that the GAO has since debunked. This should call into question the legitimacy of those filings entirely.

    • ACTA

      • US Copyright Official Discounts ACTA Concerns
        U.S. copyright official Steven Tepp said Tuesday he doesn't understand many of the current objections to the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a 37-nation effort to enforce copyright and counterfeit laws across international borders.

        Tepp, senior counsel for policy and international affairs at the U.S. Copyright Office, dismissed objections to ACTA voiced by representatives of the Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) and Knowledge Ecology International (KEI), an intellectual-property research and advocacy group, during a debate on the trade agreement at the Future of Music Coalition's Washington, D.C., policy forum.

      • US Copyright Official Pretends That Concerns About ACTA Are Unfounded; Mocks Legitimate Concerns
        The session kicks off with U.S. Copyright Office official Steven Tepp defending ACTA, by saying right from the outset, "Quite candidly, we're in the midst of a worldwide epidemic of copyright piracy." What kind of epidemic? Well, he uses that old line about how organized crime groups and terrorists are being funded by copyright infringement -- a claim that the industry keeps making, but which makes little sense. Even if it were true that some crime operations are selling bootleg DVDs and such, aren't they under the same, if not more, pressure from unauthorized internet file sharing?

      • U.S. Copyright Official Challenges ACTA Criticism
        U.S. Copyright Office official Steven Tepp appeared at a Future of Music Coalition debate on ACTA yesterday, arguing that the release of the ACTA text proved the prior concerns wrong. The full debate is available online as Tepp offers gruff responses to fellow panel members, but refuses to answer many other questions on the grounds that the USTR leads on the file.

      • European Parliament Members Follow-Up With WTO on ACTA

    • Digital Economy Bill

      • The future of the Digital Economy Act is in your hands
        It is also wholly wrong that customers should be footing the Bill of this enforcement scheme. The vast majority, even by copyright holders’ estimates, do not infringe their copyrights, yet they will be paying for a quarter of this scheme. A small number will be priced off the Internet by even a small rise in broadband bills – Consumer Focus estimate perhaps 10,000 households.

        BT also drew attention to the lack of a Privacy Impact Assessment for the scheme. Privacy concerns could scupper the acceptability of letter writing. Yet the engagement from the government and ICO on this issue has so far been less than acceptable.

        ORG and other groups have been willing to accept the principle of letter writing, but this current consultation shows the weaknesses in the legislation that was rammed through in the dying hours of the last Parliament. Already the Act threatens to punish innocent people with additional, unwarranted costs and bars to clearing their name.

Clip of the Day

NASA Connect - VE - Mission Statements (10/16/2003)

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