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Links 24/9/2010: Red Hat Passes $40.00, GNU/Linux 'Laptop Assault' on Apple, Microsoft

GNOME bluefish



  • The real problem with Java in Linux distros
    Java is not a first-class citizen in Linux distributions. We generally have decent coverage for Java libraries, but lots of Java software is not packaged at all, or packaged in alternate repositories. Some consider that it’s because Linux distribution developers dislike Java and prefer other languages, like C or Python. The reality is slightly different.


    There are a few other issues I didn’t mention in this article, to concentrate on the “distributing distributions” aspect. The tarball distributions don’t play nice with the FHS, forcing you to play with symlinks to try to keep both worlds happy (and generally making both unhappy). Maven encourages projects to pick precise versions of libraries and stick to them, often resulting in multiple different versions of the same library being used in a given project. Java code tends to build-depend on hundreds of obscure libraries, transforming seemingly-simple packaging work into a man-year exponential effort. Finally, the same dependency inflation issue makes it a non-trivial engagement to contractually support all the dependencies (and build dependencies) of a given software (like Canonical does for software in the Ubuntu main repository).

  • A Failed Migration to GNU/Linux
    Munich had some of the same problems but they kept working and are arriving late but under-budget. Munich discovered they had more problems than the OS, a fragmented IT system barely able to interoperate with itself. They used their extra time to tune everything up. GNU/Linux is now icing on the cake, a solid cake filled with fuit and nuts, not an “air-cake”. Solothurn, it seems, had similar problems it did not address. The cause of the failure was a failure to plan portable/open-standards-based IT in the first place and not fixing the problems first.

    The one thing I have learned about IT is that a migration to GNU/Linux is always possible and worthwhile in the long run. Sometimes it is a long run because there are so many problems but fixing one problem at a time works. You can either fix the whole system in a provably-correct method developed in advance in detail or you can fix one problem at a time as fast as you can do it. If you always opt for open standards, the end-result will be the same but the latter will cost you a lot less time and energy and money. Trying to keep closed systems and lock-in is a recipe for disaster sooner or later.

    GNU/Linux sets you free. Just do it.

  • Desktop

    • Why is Dell UK Making it so Difficult?
      Remember IdeaStorm – “Where Your Ideas Reign” – Dell's brave venture into the scary world of crowdsourcing? Amazingly, it's still going, although it doesn't seem to be the hive of activity it once was. One of the reasons why IdeaStorm was so important was that it allowed people to voice one of their key requests to the company: to be able to buy GNU / Linux-based systems. To its credit, Dell listened, and started selling them.


      If you go to Dell UK's site, the front page has nary a mention of Ubuntu or Linux. If you use the search box, there are some hits for Ubuntu – mostly netbooks, but a few other systems too. Excitingly, some of these systems even mentioned Ubuntu 9.10 in the technical specifications. However, when I tried to buy these systems, the “Customise” feature did not include an Ubuntu option (sometimes I received the ominous message “The page you requested may no longer exist on”.)

    • 10 must-have Linux desktop enhancements
      Compiz is to the Linux desktop as HiDef is to the world of television. Is it necessary? Not at all. Will it enhance your experience? Absolutely. Compiz is a compositing window manager that adds tons of functionality to the desktop — from the stellar Desktop Cube to the various window switchers and everything in between, on top, on bottom, and around the corner. If you haven’t experienced Compiz, you have no idea what the PC desktop can really do.

  • Applications

    • Collection of 18 Popular APT & DPKG Tips for Debian and Ubuntu
      This is a guide containing the most popular and useful ways of using the APT and DPKG commands, and it applies to both Ubuntu and Debian (and their derivatives). I mentioned where super user privileges are required, the ones without a mention can be executed as normal user. If you're using Ubuntu, precede a command with sudo in order to gain root privileges (and enter your user password); on Debian, type su, enter the root password, and then type in the commands as shown below.

    • 7 of the Best Free Linux Photo Management Software
      One of the biggest culprits of a cluttered hard disk are images taken with a digital camera. This device enable users to take literally hundreds or even thousands of photos storing them on a single small memory device. The photos are then transferred to a computer hard disk for sharing with family and friends, editing, and to print to a photo printer or one of the many online digital photo printing services.

    • Instructionals/Technical

      • HOWTO: Adjust your monitor backlight from command line in Linux

      • 10 useful video Tutorials for Gimp users

      • Ubuntu on the HTC HD2
        The HTC Linux community now offers their second built of Ubuntu for the HD2. At the moment, there are drivers for the touchscreen, the Wi-Fi and the phone including 3G communication. There is, however, no audio driver and therefore no sound, even not in calls. It also includes USB host drivers, which support mass storage, audio and networking devices.

        On my phone, the boot process lasts 86 seconds until the desktop and its icons appear. The build uses its own Wi-Fi software (Wicd). You can switch between portait and landscape mode and access the Micro SD card. There is also an onscreen keyboard for text inputs.

  • Distributions

    • Open source for designing next-generation digital hearing aids
      At 64 Studio, we use the Linux kernel with real-time patches to ensure reliable, glitch-free I/O for our customers' demanding audio applications. Having source code and full control over the design of the system means that we can tweak the machine for the best possible performance on the target hardware. Typically, our end users are in the "pro audio" market--music production, recording, or broadcast. When an audio engineer switches on their new mixing desk, they probably don't realise that it's actually an embedded GNU/Linux device, albeit one that weighs a few hundred times as much as their Android phone.

      Recently, we've been working on a rather different product which makes use of the same real-time Linux features that pro audio users already enjoy. We'd presented our work on real-time audio for mobile devices at the Linux Audio Conference in Parma, Italy in 2009. Following that presentation, we had an enquiry from Giso Grimm, a researcher on hearing augmentation algorithms at the University of Oldenburg in Germany. The trouble with designing next-generation digital hearing aids is that optimization and hardware miniaturisation are very expensive. If you pick a sub-optimal algorithm and build it into a hearing aid, you've just wasted a lot of money on a product that won't deliver. So researchers at the Haus des Hörens R&D facility in Oldenburg field test new algorithms on standard PC hardware, using a specialized multi-channel USB audio interface with I/O cables that connect to ear pieces.

      Using a general-purpose operating system in place of highly optimized hardware presents a potential performance challenge. The PCs can run either GNU/Linux or Windows, but fortunately the real-time Linux kernel delivers better latency performance than Windows can. In a digital audio context, latency means the delay imposed by processing on the sound that the user hears. We can get away with a few milliseconds of delay, but if latency is too high, the brain begins to notice. The effect of excessive latency is not unlike watching a badly-dubbed movie, in which the lips of the actors are out of sync with the words; clearly, this would be unacceptable in a hearing aid field test.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat CEO Talks Turkey With The Motley Fool
        Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) just knocked the cover off another quarterly report, and the market is sitting up to take notice.

        In the second quarter of fiscal 2011, the inveterate Linux vendor reported 20% stronger sales year over year and roughly flat earnings; improving business conditions led management to raise guidance significantly. The stock reacted strongly to the news and is one of the biggest gainers on the market today. In fact, Red Hat is trading at 10-year highs now and looks set to run even higher.

        If you bought Red Hat when I told you to act on a temporary dip six months ago, you're sitting on a 40% gain today. Over the same time period, that beats even fellow high-tech highfliers like Informatica (Nasdaq: INFA), Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL), or nearly any other market darling. Not bad for a company that makes a living selling software you can get for free.

      • Options Update for Red Hat (RHT)
        Shares of Red Hat gained $3.32 (+9.03%) to $40.07. The stock closed at $36.75 in the last trading session and today the shares of RHT opened at $39.33. So far today, the stock has hit a low of $39.33 and high of $41.48.

      • Fast Money Picks For September 24th (GLD, PBR, RHT, RAI, CREE)
        Guy Adami thinks that it is time to take the profits in Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT). Red Hat, Inc. (RHT) spiked 9.03% today.

      • Red Hat CEO Talks Turkey With The Motley Fool
        "We're not selling software, right? The software is free," Whitehurst said. "We have to add value around the software, beyond the software. The point is, are your applications certified? Is EMC (NYSE: EMC) certified to work with that? All of that work goes into taking the open-source development model and making that into an enterprise-class, stable ecosystem that's just gonna work."

        Whitehurst continued: "We recognize that we don't sell functionality because that's free. We're adding value around that. That's important, and I think that's missed by a lot of people."

    • Debian Family

      • debian-main

      • Loving Squeeze

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Taking a Step Back With Fresh Eyes
          this report structure (an example of which is here for the Translations method of contribution), and I have asked the following people to lead this assessment process in these different types of contribution:

          * Total Beginner (this is people who are entirely new to Ubuntu in the first place) – Jorge Castro * Translations – David Planella * Packaging – Daniel Holbach * Documentation – Matthew East * Advocacy – Laura Czajkowski * Support – TBC * Art – Martin Owens * Quality – Ara Pulido * Server – Ahmed Kamal

        • Popper – Feature-filled e-Mail notification applet for Ubuntu
          E-mail notification on the desktop has come a long way from the quaint era of ‘keeping an ear out for some faint sound effect’ to herald the arrival of new mail.

        • Track Your Apps Usage Patterns in Ubuntu Using Wakoopa
          Wakoopa is an online service which has a local tracker client specifically for Windows, Mac and Linux users. It tracks your usage of different applications and gives you a detailed picture of how you used it, your most used apps etc. And based on your usage patterns, Wakoopa even recommends new applications you might want to check out.

        • Ubuntu 9.04 reaches end-of-life on October 23, 2010
          Ubuntu announced its 9.04 release almost 18 months ago, on April 23, 2009. As with the earlier releases, Ubuntu committed to ongoing security and critical fixes for a period of 18 months. The support period is now nearing its end and Ubuntu 9.04 will reach end of life on Friday, October 23, 2010. At that time, Ubuntu Security Notices will no longer include information or updated packages for Ubuntu 9.04.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Nokia/MeeGo

        • Bugzilla 3.4 for

          I posted this to the maemo community mailing-list before, but I guess it’s worth blogging, too. The long awaited Bugzilla 3.4 for landed in trunk, including specific customizations (avoiding it where possible) and a skin for a (somewhat) consistent branding.

      • Android

        • Jorno Pocket Folding Keyboard for Android Unveiled
          Ever tried writing a full blog post via your mobile device? I have, and I quickly gave up. I am sure we can all agree that typing on mobile devices isn’t always the easiest task. If you find yourself typing a lot on your phone while on the move then check out this gadget.

        • TrackDropper for Android combines geocaching and music 'piracy'
          TrackDropper, or 'Piracy', is a tiny, open-source Android app that is a proof of concept more than anything else. In essence, it is simply geocaching but with digital music files.

          Like geocaching, TrackDropper lets you leave something in a place that you've visited -- but instead of a keepsake in a Tupperware box, you leave digital tracks in a virtual space. Other TrackDropper users can then visit the location of your musical 'booty' and listen to it -- and leave another song in its place! There's a cute video of it in action after the break.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Google prepares laptop assault on Apple, Microsoft
        Having shaken up the mobile phone market, Google is now preparing to compete head-on with Apple and Microsoft in laptop computers with a range of Google-based "netbooks" due out this year.

        Glen Murphy, the Australian lead designer on Google's Chrome operating system (OS) and web browser projects, said the first Chrome computers would go on sale this year. The big vendors have signed up including Samsung, Acer, Asus, Toshiba and HP.

Free Software/Open Source

  • “Open Source” is not a Verb; thoughts on Diaspora
    Diaspora isn’t screwed because the open source community is unreliable or unknowledgable. Diaspora is screwed because there isn’t just one open source community: communities develop around individual projects. And Diaspora blew the best chance they had to have an engaged, active community, today.

  • Are We Entering the Golden Age of Forks?
    There are two reasons why this is a wise course of action. First, it sends the right signal to the open source community - including those who might be engaged on other projects that are currently supported by the company in question. Oracle's high-handed approach to open source is fast making it Public Enemy Number 1 as far as free software is concerned (yes, even relegating Microsoft to second place). This means that people working on the MySQL or projects are going to be far warier, and more distrustful of the company's moves in future.

  • Events

    • Brussels - 14 and 15 October 2010
      This international plugfest is jointly organized by the Federal State, the Regions and Communities of Belgium. The event will be held in Brussels on the 14th and 15th of October 2010. The conference room in the "Boudewijn"-building - kindly provided by the Flemish Government - is conveniently located near the Brussels-North railway station.

  • Web Browsers

    • New features for the Chrome Web Store developer preview: Google Checkout integration & previewing for your apps
      Starting today, you can sign up for a Google Checkout merchant account via your developer dashboard. If you’re planning to use Chrome Web Store Payments to charge for apps, you’ll need to complete this setup before you can accept payments. If you already have a merchant account with Google Checkout, you’ll be able to associate it with your items in the store. Signing up for Chrome Web Store Payments is currently available to developers based in the US who have a US bank account. We’re working hard to also enable payments for international developers and will update you with a blog post once we have more details. If you have more questions about setting up your merchant account, see this help article we created.

    • Mozilla

      • Concept Series: Seabird – A Community-driven Mobile Phone Concept
        Since Mozilla Labs launched the Concept Series with an open call for participation we’ve had thousands of people join in, share ideas and develop concepts around Firefox, the Mozilla projects and the Open Web as a whole.

        In response to our open call Billy May, in early 2009, produced a throw-away concept for an “Open Web Concept Phone”. Working directly off of that community feedback, Billy has since finished the exploration with his concept “Seabird”.

      • 8 essential privacy extensions for Firefox
        hey say privacy doesn't exist on the Web -- but that doesn't mean you can't try to safeguard your personal information. Our computers are loaded with details about our personal and business lives, and it's definitely not acceptable to reveal them haphazardly. With hackers becoming ever more sophisticated, you have to take precautions.

  • Oracle

    • What Oracle has not learned about open source
      Oracle’s ambitions were on display all week in San Francisco, along with its proprietary attitude, best summed up by the adage “what’s yours is mine and what’s mine is none of your business.”

  • Education

    • Open Services: Sustainable ICT for UK Schools
      Today sees the publication a report from NWLG CEO Gary Clawson on the savings that would follow from a move to open source, open services and open content in schools and across local authorities. Gary argues that a switch to open source and open content would offer 25% savings on IT spend with relative ease, with a further 30-35% if LAs looked seriously at re-modelling how ICT is implemented and supported. Across a local authority with some 20 secondaries and 120 primaries, this would amount to over €£1.4M pa.

  • Project Releases

  • Government

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Barriers to open science: From big business to Watson and Crick
      Open science must be partnered with a strong accountability system, perhaps more formal than the “Internet-as-public-record” variety used to establish reputation in open source software development communities.

    • A collaborative proposal on research metrics
      The obvious answer is to make these things matter. Research funders have the most power here in that they have the power to influence behaviour through how they distribute resources. If the funder says something is important then the research community will jump to it. The problem of course it that in practice funders have to take their community with them. Radical and rapid change is not usually possible. A step in the right direction would be to provide funders and researchers with effective means of measuring and comparing themselves and their outputs. In particular means of measuring performance in previously funded activities.

  • Programming

    • Coders must reprogram how they write for Wall Street
      As high-performance computing (HPC) becomes more important in helping financial services companies deal with a rising tsunami of data, there's growing angst on Wall Street about a dearth of skilled programmers who can write for multicore chip architectures and parallel computing systems.

  • Standards/Consortia


  • John Cleese on the Origin of Creativity
    Curiously, Cleese’s formula for creativity somewhat contradicts another recent theory put forth by historian Steven Johnson who, while discussing where good ideas come from, makes a case for the connected mind rather than the fenced off creative oasis as the true source of creativity.

  • Uzbekistan: In "The year of healthy generation" the mothers with little kids are sent for cotton works in Kokand
    On September 22, 2010 the staff members of the Kokand teachers college were informed that all of them will join the cotton picking campaign, including the women with little kids, the residents of Kokand informed Ferghana.Ru.

    "We face the lawlessness again – says one indignant woman in Kokand. – We already got used to the fact that we join the cotton picking campaign and get no money for our labor. This became a norm. Now we see new form of abuse: from now on the mothers with little children are required to pick the cotton! Who is going to take care of kids while we are working? What is the government motivated by? In the Soviet Union there never was such barbarism against the motherhood. All actions of local authorities here directly contradict the decisions of Uzbek President Islam Karimov. The Kokand authorities commit the sabotage. How can we talk about the health of future generations when the mothers are sent to the cotton fields with little kids?"

  • Alleged 'domain slammers' lose dot-ca licence, sue CIRA $10 million
    The Canadian Internet Registration Authority (CIRA) is defending against a $10 million lawsuit after denying recertification to a registrar linked to a company that many Canadian domain name holders will be familiar with.

  • New crime bills on government agenda
    Justice Minister Rob Nicholson is maintaining his seemingly inexhaustible attacks against what the Conservatives perceive as weaknesses in Canada’s justice system with new crime bills this fall on top of nine pieces of legislation that remained when Parliament adjourned for the summer.

  • Å efčovič: 'Debate on net recipients and contributors is unhealthy'

  • Facebook Is The New Microsoft - Rebooting Fixes The Outage
    Jokes abound regarding yesterday’s Facebook outage, but apparently like Microsoft’s Windows, rebooting is almost always the solution to the problem.

    Facebook was down yesterday for around two and a half hours. Ironically, the error was caused by an automatic error-correcting system.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Food Commodities Report released by the UN
      The briefing note, which can be downloaded from the site of the UN's Special Rapporteur's on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, shows that a significant portion of the increases in price and volatility of essential food commodities can only be explained by the emergence of a speculative bubble.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Tenants slapped with trespassing tickets by NYPD, but they were just going inside their own home
      A Brooklyn man standing in front of his apartment was hit with a trespassing ticket, even after cops watched him use his key to get inside.

      Lindsey Riddick, still fuming over the bizarre Aug. 18 incident, said he showed police his identification. And when he opened the door to the Flatbush home, his girlfriend and two daughters greeted him and then ran outside the apartment.

    • I want to support Bradley, but there’s no event in my area. What do I do?
      Supporters who aren’t near one of the 16 19 cities hosting events for our International Days of Action have been contacting us asking: what can we do? Should I book a flight to, say, Quantico?

      Don’t worry, supporters – you can still be part of the International Days of Action in support of alleged whistleblower and ethical human being Bradley Manning. You can do it from your own hometowns!

    • How to Record the Cops
      In the remaining 47 states, the law is clearer: It is generally legal to record the police, as long as you don't physically interfere with them. You may be unfairly harassed, questioned, or even arrested, but it's unlikely you will be charged, much less convicted. (These are general observations and should not be treated as legal advice.)

    • Operation Crackdown
      On Saturday the Daily Mail ran details of a bizarre operation being run by Sussex Police called 'Operation Crackdown'.

      The basic premise of OC is that local people are encouraged to submit reports of 'anti-social driving' online.

    • Patients' details lost on train by Hertfordshire doctor
      East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust has been found in breach of data protection after a doctor lost a memory stick on a train.

      The junior doctor had recorded details of patients' conditions and medication on the device and was meant to hand it over to the next doctor on shift.

      But the doctor forgot and lost the unencrypted device on the way home.

      The Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) said NHS trusts should not risk data breaches.

      The doctor informed the trust immediately after discovering the loss and an investigation was conducted.

    • NHS IT manager guilty of snooping on patient records
      Dale Trever, 22, allegedly looked at records on 431 occasions. All the records were of female patients.

    • Parents banned from children's sports sessions in Coventry
      MUMS and dads are being stopped from watching their children play sport in Coventry.

      The ban affects dozens of after-school clubs and sports centre sessions for under-eights.

      Bosses at Coventry Sports Foundation, which runs the coaching lessons, say children need a more relaxing environment “without pressure from the sidelines”.

      They also say the ban is needed for ‘‘child protection’’ reasons.

    • 'They asked me where Bin Laden was, then they took my DNA'
      Hundreds of British Muslims leaving and returning from holidays abroad face harassment and intimidation by security forces when they pass through UK airports and seaports, an investigation by The Independent has found.

      One man interrogated by police over his British credentials was asked whether he watched Dad's Army, while another was questioned over the whereabouts of Osama bin Laden.

    • Italy to abandon airport body scanner project: report

      After a six-month test, Italy's government will drop the use of full-body scanners for security checks in airports, judging them slow and ineffective, Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported Thursday.

      The scanners in the airports of Rome, Venice and the southern city of Palermo are no longer in use and Milan's airport is likely to stop using the machines in the near future.

    • Paul Chambers appeal
      I can also recommend this post on the New Statesman blog from David Allen Green, whose legal firm are providing pro bono assistance to Paul during his appeal.

      David rather sweetly equates Paul's tweet with the words of one of England's finest poets, John Betjeman.
      "Come, friendly bombs, and fall on Slough!"
      Which, if nothing else, is the perfect way of demonstrating the complete and utter stupidity of Paul's treatment and conviction.

      We hope Doncaster Crown Court see sense today.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • The Oil and the Turtles
      Every year, Rancho Nuevo, 900 miles southwest of the Deepwater Horizon blowout, sees a spectacular phenomenon: the arribada—mass nesting—of the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle, which has already neared extinction. This year, thousands of baby ridleys swam off toward a deadly new enemy.

    • The world's lungs
      THE summer dry-season, now drawing to an end, is when the Amazon rainforest gets cut and burned. The smoke this causes can often be seen from space. But not this year. Brazil’s deforestation rate has dropped astoundingly fast. In 2004 some 2.8m hectares (10,700 square miles) of the Amazon were razed; last year only around 750,000 hectares were.

    • Have the climate wars begun?
      Inhabitants protest next to the coffin of Leoncio Fernandez, a demonstrator who died during clashes in Espinar, province of Cusco, in southern Peru. Peruvians are protesting against an irrigation project that would leave them with no water.

    • Building sand castles on Florida’s beaches is illegal, feds tell oil-hunting reporter
      Ever go to the beach and not think of slapping together a sand castle? And who doesn't enjoy the feeling of wet, warm sand between her toes?

      According to federal authorities who recently intercepted an oil-hunting reporter on a Florida beach, those activities have been deemed "illegal."

      The officers' legal revelation (which is not actually true) came as something of a surprise to Dan Thomas, reporter for WEAR ABC 3 in Pensacola, Florida, who was visiting the Gulf Islands National Seashore for a special report.

    • Climate change enlightenment was fun while it lasted. But now it's dead

      The closer it comes, the worse it looks. The best outcome anyone now expects from December's climate summit in Mexico is that some delegates might stay awake during the meetings. When talks fail once, as they did in Copenhagen, governments lose interest. They don't want to be associated with failure, they don't want to pour time and energy into a broken process. Nine years after the world trade negotiations moved to Mexico after failing in Qatar, they remain in diplomatic limbo. Nothing in the preparations for the climate talks suggests any other outcome.

      A meeting in China at the beginning of October is supposed to clear the way for Cancún. The hosts have already made it clear that it's going nowhere: there are, a top Chinese climate change official explains, still "huge differences between developed and developing countries". Everyone blames everyone else for the failure at Copenhagen. Everyone insists that everyone else should move.

    • Ecuador looks to its own people in the battle against climate change
      The environment minister is the redoubtable Maria Fernanda Espinoza, who is grappling with the contradictions of having a revolutionary new constitution that guarantees the rights of nature and all living entities, yet depends on vast oil reserves. She is adamant that Ecuador wants to find ways to get out of the petrol economy and invest in renewables to avoid climate change.

      One plan is to guarantee to leave nearly one billion barrels of oil – nearly 20% of the country's reserves – in the ground if rich countries and individuals give them $3.6bn, half the oil's value. The money from the Yasuni project would go to a UN-run fund to pay for national park conservation, as well as health and education. It would save nearly 400m tonnes of emissions and is being hailed as an innovative climate change solution.

    • Sinar Mas gets ultimatum from RSPO over palm oil and deforestation
      At last, the Roundtable of Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) is threatening action following the release last month of the independent audit commissioned by Sinar Mas, which showed that the company had been breaking Indonesian law and RSPO rules.

      Yesterday, the RSPO uploaded to its website a statement confirming that they were taking Sinar Mas to task. However, before that happened they accidentally uploaded the letters they'd sent to Sinar Mas. These were strongly worded and pointed out that significant breaches of the RSPO's principles and criteria had been made by several Sinar Mas companies holding RSPO membership.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Zombie cookie wars: evil tracking API meant to "raise awareness"
      Kamkar's API comes just days after a lawsuit was filed against a company for making use of the HTML5 Web SQL database storage capabilities that come with Safari, Chrome, and Opera. First exposed by Ars Technica, this particular company (Ringleader Digital) made an effort to keep a persistent user ID even when the user deleted cookies and their HTML5 databases, telling Ars that the only way to opt out of the tracking was to use the company's opt-out link (which gives the user no confirmation that they are, in fact, opted out.)

      Then there are a number of previous lawsuits over zombie Flash cookies, which have the same goal when it comes to user tracking. They don't want you to delete their info, so they work around it by storing the data in multiple places and restoring it once you delete.

      While Internet users wait for software to protect against such extensive tracking, Kamkar did point out that the safe browsing mode in many browsers will probably help for now. "I found that using 'Private Browsing' in Safari stops all evercookie methods," he said.

    • FBI misled Justice about spying on peace group

      There was a time in the 1960s when the FBI’s illegal surveillance of left-wing groups seemed, and maybe even was, sinister if not broadly menacing. Parts of today’s Justice Department report on its more recent activities, however, evoke that old saw about history repeating itself as farce.

      The Inspector General’s report covered a number of FBI targets following the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks: an antiwar rally in Pittsburgh; a Catholic peace magazine; a Quaker activist; and members of the environmental group Greenpeace as well as of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, or PETA.

    • Strict curfew silences media in Kashmir
      Very strict curfew enforcement in several cities in Kashmir since 12 September has had a dramatic effect on the free flow of news and information and the ability of journalists to work. Several local publications and regional TV stations are paralysed because their personnel cannot leave their homes and several reporters have been beaten by police.

      A total of 94 people have been killed since the violence and unrest erupted in Kashmir last June.

      “Trying to maintain order should not be confused with preventing the media from working,” Reporters Without Borders said. “The Jammu and Kashmir state authorities and the security forces that are enforcing the curfew are failing to consider the importance of the local media’s work, or else there is an undeclared intention to prevent Kashmir’s media from operating during the protests.”

    • Statement on Tibet at the Human Rights Council
      Human Rights Watch is concerned about the situation of the Tibetan minority nationality in the People’s Republic of China as they continue to be the target of systematic governmental repression. The Chinese government continues to drastically restrict access to the Tibetan areas of China aside from a handful of closely-supervised government-organized tours for selected international media or foreign diplomats.

      In a new report issued on July 2010, Human Rights Watch documented the widespread abuses committed by Chinese security forces in suppressing the Spring 2008 wave of Tibetan protests. Human Rights Watch does not dispute that the Chinese government has the duty to maintain public order and prosecute violent protesters, and that a number of incidents in 2008 involved violence or had the potential to devolve into violence. Yet the report also found that Chinese security forces had used disproportionate force and acted with deliberate brutality during and after the protests.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • FCC approves Super WiFi
      When spectrum is sold, by contrast, only one company and its suppliers can innovate use of the spectrum. Manufacturers who want to improve service have to go through the spectrum owner, as a gatekeeper, and must deliver the same stuff across the network before service improves. A large investment is also required of the spectrum owner to improve service.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Mobile music service rejects Canada, blames fees
        But in Canada, the idea is barely getting off the ground, and one of the biggest players in the industry is blaming royalties sought by major record labels.

        "These rates … are astronomical," Tim Westergren, founder of California-based Pandora wrote in an email to The Canadian Press.

        "As long as rights societies take this approach, they will prevent Pandora from launching to Canadian users."

      • Opinion: Bill C-32 heads to committee in a volatile political climate
        The resulting change was highly prejudicial to recording musicians and to the great benefit of the record companies that control the RIAA. The amendment was later repealed under intense pressure from performing musicians such as Don Henley, Sheryl Crow and Courtney Love. The staffer in question was subsequently hired by the RIAA.

      • MPAA: ACTA's censoring firewalls will help governments avoid Wikileaks embarrassments

        The MPAA has updated one of its more ridiculous pro-censorship arguments; five years ago, they were telling lawmakers that blocking P2P would help block child pornography. Now they've presented at an information meeting in Mexico on ACTA, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, a secret, far-reaching copyright treaty that contains provisions for China-style censoring firewalls for every country. The MPAA wants these national firewalls to block sites like The Pirate Bay, but the case they've made to lawmakers for it is: "Bring in a censoring firewall to block piracy and you can use it to shut off sites that embarrass your government, like Wikileaks."

        You can almost imagine the MPAA rep dry-washing his hands and licking his lips like a grand vizier manipulating a gullible sultan as he utters these words. During the Bush years, the MPAA recruited a bunch of Republican stalwart, ultra-conservative foot-soldiers (one of them told me that he believed in the Young Earth and Creationism). I can imagine that if you're one of these square-jawed rock-ribbed types, you could believe that the government had the right to cover up murder and torture by blocking Wikileaks.

      • ACTA

        • ACTA: A new obstacle for human rights?
          This paper shows how the negotiations of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, or ACTA, have become the emblem of the maximum protection approach of intellectual property rights (IPR), reversing the public interest approach that underpinned IPR originally. It argues that if such a vision is realized, through ambiguous rhetoric and aggressive negotiating strategies, it could lead to a new international institutional framework that will hinder the realization of human rights.

        • ACTA Negotiations - Start September 23rd, No Firm End Date
          Open Rights Group met with UK officials on ACTA this week and reports that negotiations on the next round will begin next week in Tokyo.

        • ACTA: Game Over?
          The Tokyo round of negotiations on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement has just begun. It could be the last one before the signature of the final agreement. The text, which is now close to completion, remains an alarming threat on fundamental freedoms online, and could lead to the generalization of anti-democratic legislation and governance.

Clip of the Day

Mozilla Seabird 2D

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