Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 25/12/2010: New Ubuntu-powered Tablet, Firefox 4 is Near, GnuCash 2.4.0 Released

GNOME bluefish



  • How best to sell a Windows 7 laptop this holiday? show it with an Ubuntu wallpaper of course! [sales fail]
    ‘The Source’ (formerly known as Radio Shack) appear to have hit upon a rather unique way of selling their Windows 7 running Toshiba laptops to the public judging by a recent flyer…

    Show them running what looks like an Ubuntu wallpaper.

  • Is a BSOD on a bus … a BuSOD?
    Like I said, something like that is so common that maybe I don’t need a picture after all. Personally I’ve seen BSODs and error messages in airports and restaurants, even in doctor’s offices or factories.

    The first of the two things that ran through my mind on the bus last night, as people openly wondered

  • 22 ways to convert your friend to Linux
    Are your friends convinced that they should be paying for their operating systems because Linux sounds too complicated or because they think it won't do what they want it to?

  • The Perfect Tree For GNU/Linux Released !
    Spruce up your Christmas season with The Perfect Tree, a cheerful holiday offering from Anawiki Games! Based on the classic Christmas tale of the same name, the game tells the story of a lonely little pine tree and the player’s efforts to help it become the perfect Christmas tree.

  • FOLLOW-UP: Linux and Breakfast Cereals
    So my question is, why have all these differences sprung up? For example, the Skype site shows different RPMs for Fedora and openSUSE. (Then again, it shows different DEBs for Debian and Ubuntu as well.) Why can't the maintainers of these distributions pare away the differences as much as possible to maintain inter-distribution compatibility? Wouldn't this just make everyone's life easier?

  • Holiday Party: Sailing into dangerous waters
    It was a dark and stormy night.

    The biting wind drove needles of ice into my face as I looked at my Android phone one more time to get a fix on my location. The residential streets of Framingham were winding and far different from the clean grids of my Midwestern home. In the icy wind I'm sure a squinted my way past a street sign somewhere, and though my GPS could tell me where I was, I couldn't make sense of which direction to go yet.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

    • Kernel Log: coming in 2.6.37 (Part 4) – Architecture and infrastructure code
      The kernel now includes some components for supporting operation as a Xen host (Dom0). Switching into and out of sleep mode should be accelerated by the use of LZO compression. Following years of work, almost all parts of the kernel are now able to run without using the big kernel lock (BKL).

    • Benchmarks Of The Btrfs Space Cache Option
      In early November we delivered benchmarks of EXT4 vs. Btrfs on an early Linux 2.6.37 kernel as our latest round of tests comparing these two leading Linux file-systems. There were some changes in the Linux disk performance with these file-systems using the latest Linux kernel code, but overall it was not too interesting. However, as the Linux 2.6.37 kernel does introduce a new mount option for Btrfs, the space_cache option, we decided to explore its performance in today's article.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Viewsonic GPL update
        Viewsonic provided a patch to Nvidia's reference Tegra code to support their gtablet today. Which is progress!

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Ten Top Linux Window Managers

      The window manager is the most important part of the Linux desktop environment. It defines how your windows look, how they behave, how applications are launched, and how they're closed. In many cases, window managers have evolved into complete desktop environments, helping with file management, configuration editing and computer management.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • KDE Commit-Digest for 21st November 2010
        In this week's KDE Commit-Digest:

        * Start of a Plasma-based "Welcome Screen" for applications * Support for searching events and todos by date/range in the Events Plasma Runner, and the start of a first Plasmoid ("BusyWidget") written in QML * More work on KMail Mobile, including a change to make it start twice as fast * Start of work to give Okteta a mobile interface

      • KMyMoney 4.5.2 stable released
        The KMyMoney Team is pleased to announce the immediate availability of KMyMoney version 4.5.2. This is a bugfix version from the 4.5 series and a Christmas present of the developers to the community.

      • 4.6 RC 1 Available, KDE PIM Delayed
        Right before Christmas, KDE has published the first candidate for the upcoming release of KDE Platform, Plasma and Applications 4.6. The focus at this stage is on fixing bugs and completing translations and artwork. As such, the rework of the Oxygen icon set is nearing completion, many bugs reported by testers in recent weeks have been fixed and stabilization is still in full swing.

      • "KDE 4.6 RC1

      • KDE Software Compilation 4.6 RC1 Released: Codename Chanukkah

    • GNOME Desktop

      • The Board 0.1.0
        Today I’m officially joining the GNOME Old Farts Club. I thought it would be a good time to make the first release of The Board. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you The Board 0.1.0! I wanted to do this a few weeks ago but with so many moving parts in our platform it was actually a bit hard to reach a point where all dependencies were actually working fine together. So, what is this release about?

  • Distributions

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Gimp in Mandriva, a glitch than can help you rescue files
        I was testing Mandriva ONE 2010.2 and, sure enough, my other partitions could not be accessed in Dolphin (it reported the same error message when trying to mount them). I believe this is done to prevent damage to the primary OS in the computer, be it Linux or Windows.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat Upward Momentum Looks to Continue (RHT)

      • Fool Exclusive: What Makes Red Hat Tick?
        Doff your chapeau for leading Linux vendor Red Hat (NYSE: RHT), which just uncorked another tremendous quarter. Its 21% sales growth, to $236 million, beat analyst estimates by 4%, but that wasn't good enough to light a fire under Red Hat's shares. Earnings only met the consensus target exactly, at $0.20 per share.

      • U.S. Stocks Remain Slightly Higher; Red Hat Slides

      • Red Hat Upward Momentum Looks To Continue (RHT)

      • Red Hat tantalizes with search for space
        Even in better times, the idea of landing the headquarters of a high-flying tech company with more than a billion in cash would be enough to tantalize even the most seasoned developer.

        Factor in current market conditions, and the fact that almost nothing new is getting built, and you can understand the intense interest in Red Hat's search for 300,000 square feet of office space.

      • Red Hat, Eucalyptus Partnership: Countering OpenStack Clouds?
        At first glance, Red Hat Inc. and Eucalyptus Systems are partnering up to jointly promote open source cloud solutions. But take a closer look and TalkinCloud wonders if Red Hat and Eucalyptus are partnering up to compete more effectively against the RackSpace OpenStack cloud effort.

        GigaOm does a great job describing a potentially intense showdown between OpenStack and Eucalyptus. Here’s why VARs, MSPs and cloud services providers should care: Traditional cloud platforms like Amazon Web Services and Microsoft Windows Azure are proprietary platforms, meaning that it’s difficult to move customer applications from one public cloud to the next.

      • Fedora

        • Presents for everyone!

          Even though I’m on vacation, I had some fun catching up with some geeky Fedora work, like handling bugs and package maintenance over the last few days.


          I’m still hung up on needing some additional and more complicated Python pieces, like querying the volume level of a source or sink so I can introduce a VU-meter like control as part of the interface changes. But in the meantime, I’ve started to get much better and faster at implementing ideas in PyGTK. I’m not sure my coding style is as good as it should be, but my understanding of concepts has gotten fairly good, so I can translate PyGTK API docs into the ability to do something. I gave a couple conference speeches over the past year on PyGTK that I hoped would give other people in similar shoes — people who can write scripts but aren’t familiar with GUI programming — a primer that allows them to “cross the bridge” into exciting new territory.

    • Debian Family

      • Linux Mint Debian (201012) released!
        What a better time than Christmas to bring all the best from 2010 into an updated release of Linux Mint Debian.

        * All Mint 10 features * 64-bit support * Performance boost (using cgroup, the notorious “4 lines of code better than 200″ in user-space) * Installer improvements (multiple HDDs, grub install on partitions, swap allocation, btrfs support) * Better fonts (Using Ubuntu’s libcairo, fontconfig and Ubuntu Font Family) and language support (ttf-wqy-microhei, ttf-sazanami-mincho, ttf-sazanami-gothic installed by default) * Better connectivity and hardware support (pppoe, pppoeconf, gnome-ppp, pppconfig, libgl1-mesa-dri, libgl1-mesa-glx, libgl1-mesa-dev, mesa-utils installed by default) * Better sound support (addressing conflicts between Pulse Audio and Flash) * Updated software and packages

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • OSS recommended picks for business users
    Amid an enterprise environment that is now more receptive to utility computing and focused on service-based contracts, open source software adoption has grown over the past two years and entered the IT mainstream.

  • GNU Octave a Compatible Drop-in Replacement for MATLAB
    Are companies really willing to spend thousands of dollars per year just ‘renting’ a licence for one or two copies of MATLAB, which keeps nagging them for it assumes they are so-called ‘pirates’ (and the BSA comes knocking to ensure there are up-to-date licensing instances)? The answer is usually “no”, but users of MATLAB may not know that software already exists to offer them an alternative, just as Firefox helps replace Internet Explorer and also outperform it in many technical ways.

  • Open Source Destroys Microsoft’s Oppressive Power Over the Customer
    Closed source software means that Microsoft owns the software, and prevents any kind of unauthorized use of the software, which means that when you find a bug, performing a “workaround” for the bug is at Microsoft’s whimsey. Why would anyone want closed source software? By definition, the software writers have no interest in using their own software. Rather, they have every interest in being an roadblock to fixing bugs. Unless Bill Gates is watching them, they really have no reason to focus on the customer.

    I have a Windows horror story. Windows DRM won’t let me uninstall it. Because the software is in an opaque box, I might as well be a flint-weilding neanderthal for all my ability to correct the uninstall process. Now I have to reinstall windows, the walk of shame. The only workaround is to destroy every software on my PC.

  • Minutes for the Document Foundation Steering Committee Meeting from 2010-12-11 Are Available

  • The Gift That Keeps On Giving - Your Time
    Find a nice holiday picture on the Internet (make sure it is freely licensed, perhaps by Creative Commons) and use GIMP, Inkscape or some other freely available software to make a greeting card out of it. Put your own sentiments down on the card, telling the person why you like them, and how you would like to spend some more time with them this coming year. Make a little “coupon” as an offer to do a certain number of hours of “computer work” for them and put the “coupon” in the card.

    I do some of this “computer work” every year when I visit my family in Pennsylvania. Some of them would be considered “power users” and some would be considered “powerless users” (and some actually considered “Luddites”), but none of them have the training and experience that I have. So I help them fix small problems, upgrade their software, do a backup of their software and even help them evaluate new purchases (and even advise them when new purchases would not do much for them).

  • The 10 Coolest Open Source Applications Of 2010
    Why buy the cow when the milk is free? While commercial software is usually worth the cost, free is better. And of the open source applications that abound throughout the world, many are as good or better than their for-pay counterparts. The "free-as-in-beer" philosophy that gave rise to Linux often also applies to apps written for the platform, with programs like KOffice giving Microsoft Office a run for its money.

  • 2011: The year open source (really) goes capitalist
    If 2010 was the year that taught open source "how to disappear completely," 2011 will be the year we're reminded that "anyone can play guitar"…or open source. At present, open source is de rigueur with the underdog class, those vendors seeking to challenge incumbents like Apple and Oracle.

    But open source will take center stage with industry leaders in 2011, as it already has in the mobile battlefield with Google's Android, much to Apple's chagrin. It's not just about using open source to gain market share. It's also a matter of using open source to keep regulators at bay. As Funambol CEO Fabrizio Capobianco rightly points out, open source saved mobile telecom operators from net neutrality regulations. The FCC decided that "meaningful recent moves toward openness" largely obviated the need for more regulation. That's a message that even the stodgiest of proprietary players will want to mimic.

  • A World-Beating Report on Global Open Source
    But it turns out that this 150-page report from the Spanish CENATIC Foundation offers the best country-by-country analysis of the growth of open source around the world that's currently available. Whether intended as such or not (it's aimed principally at Spanish businesses), it forms an invaluable consolidated description of who's been doing what where - complete with online links to referenced material.

    As such, I strongly recommend that anyone interested in the larger and longer-term trends in the world of open source should download it [.pdf] - it's free - peruse it (although maybe not over the holidays) and keep it for future reference.

  • Can Creatives Tilt the Balance Towards Open Source in Mobile?
    The battle lines for the mobile marketplace have been drawn, and the battle of the titans - Google, Apple, Microsoft -- has begun. While the generals amass their troops, what have we here in the corner? A bunch of doodlers, cartoonists, storytellers, and other amateurs. Surely, this ragtag group won't have any effect on the outcome of the battle--or will they?

  • Google's WindowBuilder and CodePro Profiler are now Eclipse projects
    Google is to release as open source the developer tools WindowBuilder Pro and CodePro Profiler, both of which were acquired as part of its takeover of Instantiations. The code for the two tools is to be donated to the Eclipse Foundation. At the time of the takeover there was much speculation that the Eclipse-based tools could become Eclipse projects – this speculation has now proven to be correct. Other products which Google has made available free of charge since September, include GWT Designer, WindowTester Pro and CodePro AnalytiX, retain their proprietary status.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla denies Firefox 4 'do-not-track' privacy option
        Firefox 4 will not include a 'do not track' privacy option to block targeted advertising, according to the web browser's maker Mozilla.

      • Firefox 4 Nearly Fully Baked
        For Mozilla's next browser version, let's hope eight is enough. The independent software foundation has just released Beta 8 of the heavily overhauled new version of Firefox. Firefox 4 sports a trimmed-down user interface (as has been the trend started with Google Chrome and followed by Opera and IE9 beta). The browser also makes some significant internal changes, with a new add-in system, a faster JavaScript engine, and lots more HTML5 compatibility.

      • Mozilla takes on web data miners with privacy icon release
        Mozilla has pushed out a series of privacy icons that tell web surfers how their online data might be used depending on what site they've visited.

        The open source browser maker's user interface design guru, Aza Raskin, who announced just last week that he was leaving Mozilla in January, released an alpha version of the icons yesterday.

  • CMS

    • Drupal 7.0 RC 3 Released
      We are proud to present to you the third (and likely final) release candidate of Drupal 7.0. Big news since last time!

      1. We're back down to 0 critical issues again! 2. We've announced a January 5 release date for Drupal 7! 3. There are release parties being thrown worldwide on January 7. Please set one up in your town! (tips)

    • The Drupal Christmas song

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD Foundation Newsletter, December 16, 2010
      During this time of the year I expect to be bombarded with marketing messages aimed at getting me to open my wallet. Considering the FreeBSD Foundation's own financial needs, I understand and tolerate the pledge drives and postal mail pleas from charities.


  • Project Releases

    • GnuCash 2.4.0 accounting software released
      The GnuCash development team has announced the arrival of version 2.4.0 of its free accounting software for GNU/Linux, *BSD, Solaris, Microsoft Windows and Mac OS X. According to a mailing list post by developer Phil Longstaff, the latest stable release replaces the GtkHTML-based HTML engine used to display reports and graphs with WebKit, the engine used by Google's Chrome web browser and Safari – while the WebKit-based renderer is preferred, the current GtkHTML engine can still be used.

    • GnuCash 2.4.0 Accounting Software Released

  • Government

  • Programming

  • Standards/Consortia/Web

    • A Real World HTML 5 Benchmark
      The newest browsers boast huge performance improvements, but how much do you trust benchmarks trotted out to prove those claims? Do they reflect the real uses to which developers will put HTML 5 and JavaScript? We've extracted several benchmarks from our existing programs to measure actual versus theoretical performance.


  • Twitter owes me $62,000
    I’m not bragging when I note this, because who would? All I’m saying is, I’m a writer, I sit in front of my computer all day, I keep Twitter running in the Tweetie app, and I participate actively and avidly in the service. A person like me can pile up 4000 tweets in a matter of a couple of years as he goes about the business of earning a living. And the thing about those tweets is, you miss them when they go, like nieces and nephews. So when my tweetstream got mysteriously truncated to a measly 147 entries a week or so ago, I practiced due diligence. I tweeted Twitter’s Support account and posted a comment to its user forum, and sat back and waited for the absent posts to be restored. And waited. And waited. And waited. I’m still waiting.

  • Fox News Escalates 'War On Christmas'
    For the past several years at this time, Fox News has made certain that Christmas is the time of year for all good Americans to shun everyone who isn’t Christian. From Sarah Palin to Glenn Beck to Neil Cavuto, the call to reject such inclusive greetings as “Happy Holidays” is heard throughout the Fox News village.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Department of Justice Recovers $3 Billion in False Claims Cases in Fiscal Year 2010
      Fighting fraud committed against public health care programs is a top priority for the Obama Administration. On May 20, 2009, Attorney General Eric Holder and Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), announced the creation of a new interagency task force, the Health Care Fraud Prevention and Enforcement Action Team (HEAT), to increase coordination and optimize criminal and civil enforcement. These efforts not only protect the Medicare Trust Fund for seniors and the Medicaid program for the country’s neediest citizens, they also result in higher quality health care at a more reasonable price.

    • Slow Burn
      Except over a glass of ruby Tannat wine or a sizzling tenderloin, most people pay little mind to Uruguay. But just mention this demure South American nation to the tobacco industry and watch the smoke billow. A long-burning row between the government in Montevideo and cigarette maker Philip Morris is slowly turning into the mother of asymmetric battles.

    • McDonald's sued for tempting Californian mum's daughter with Happy Meals toys
      Maya Parham loves McDonald's. But not because of the food. According to a lawsuit filed in California last week the fast food giant is using Barbie, Shrek, Strawberry Shortcake and a galaxy of other toy and cartoon characters to lure in the six-year-old. Now Maya's mother, Monet, wants it to stop.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

  • Cablegate

    • Why WikiLeaks must be protected
      The case of the Afghanistan war logs and the hounding of Julian Assange prove that there’s never been greater need to speak truth to power than today.

    • The Julian Assange case: a mockery of extradition?
      This legal instrument has been controversial since it was introduced in 2003, creating everyday injustices; but rarely has anyone outside the small group of lawyers that handles cases really cared. Now followers of the WikiLeaks story wonder how Assange could be extradited with so few questions asked. Why, for example, can our prisons detain someone (Assange is currently on remand in Wandsworth prison) for an offence under Swedish law that does not exist in British law? And how can a judge agree to an extradition without having seen enough evidence to make out a prima facie case?

    • WikiLeaks to release Israel documents in six months
      WikiLeaks will release top secret American files concerning Israel in the next six months, its founder Julian Assange disclosed yesterday.

      In an excusive interview with Al Jazeera, Assange said only a meagre number of files related to Israel had been published so far, because the newspapers in the West that were given exclusive rights to publish the secret documents were reluctant to publish many sensitive information about Israel.

    • My husband, the conscientious objector, has his fate decided on Friday
      On Friday a 24-year-old navy medic faces a decision that could lead him to military prison after becoming one of the few conscientious objectors in the Royal Navy since the second world war. That man is my husband, Michael Lyons. He joined the navy in 2005 at 18, as a medical assistant submariner. He chose the medic path because he wanted to help people. In 2008 Michael was promoted to the role of leading medical assistant, and has been very proud of his service to his country for the past five years.


      However, in July this year Michael learned 76,000 military documents had been leaked on the internet and published in analysed form in various newspapers. These documents detailed the military's under-reporting of civilian casualties caused by Nato troops, both in the air and on the ground. Examples included the convoy of US marines apparently driving down a six-mile stretch of highway firing at everyone they saw: 19 unarmed civilians were killed and a further 50 wounded. Closer to home there were the allegations that Royal Marines had shot innocent drivers and motorcyclists on eight separate occasions over a six-month period, and that Ghurkhas had called in an air strike on a family compound, leaving seven innocents dead. These were just some of the reports.

      I remember the day I asked Michael how he felt going to Afghanistan, considering the publication of these reports. Upset by what he had read, he said he didn't believe we were over there for the greater good. He went on to tell me he wouldn't be able to live with himself knowing he had been a part of that. He said: "I can't have that on my conscience."

    • Bradley Manning Support Network accepts responsibility for all expenses to defend accused Wikileaks whistle-blower

    • WikiLeaks cables: India accused of systematic use of torture in Kashmir

    • WikiLeaks cables: US officials voiced fears India could be target of biological terrorism

    • US offers Bradley Manning a plea bargain in return for testimony against Assange
      In their latest attempt to find legitimate grounds for charging Julian Assange with a crime, US federal prosecutors have landed on the idea of charging him as a conspirator through a plea bargain that has been offered to Pfc. Bradley Manning. The plea bargain would have Manning name Julian Assange as a fellow conspirator to the leaks, which include the now infamous Collateral Murder video of April 2007.

    • WikiLeaks cables: Dalai Lama called for focus on climate, not politics, in Tibet

      The Dalai Lama told US diplomats last year that the international community should focus on climate change rather than politics in Tibet because environmental problems were more urgent, secret American cables reveal.

      The exiled Tibetan Buddhist spiritual leader told Timothy Roemer, the US ambassador to India, that the "political agenda should be sidelined for five to 10 years and the international community should shift its focus to climate change on the Tibetan plateau" during a meeting in Delhi last August.

    • Will Julian Assange regret WikiLeaks? Past whistleblowers say no

      "Was it worth it?" That was what Julian Assange was asked, through his mother, by an Australian TV channel last week as he sat in Wandsworth jail. It was, perhaps, a not unexpected question for someone who had found himself in solitary confinement, facing extradition to Sweden and the United States and death threats from conservative American politicians.

    • WikiLeaks cables: Michael Moore film Sicko was 'not banned' in Cuba

      American diplomats made up a story that Cuba banned Michael Moore's 2007 documentary, Sicko, in an attempt to discredit the film which painted an unflattering picture of the US healthcare system, the film-maker said today.

    • Holiday Statement from Bradley Manning

    • WikiLeaks cables: 'Taliban treats heroin stocks like savings accounts'

    • Assange Speaks, Well
      Assange makes the point forcefully that he is a journalist speaking out to examine and check the power of government and his speach should be protected. He also comments on Manning’s detention without trial in conditions that could be considered torture.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • On Not Letting BP Investigators Do Their Job
      In a perfectly enlightened, technologically advanced world, computer software could be used to analyze existing data and determine what happened on the Deepwater Horizon just before it exploded in the Gulf of Mexico. In that world, all relevant parties with access to such data would be ready and willing to offer it up.

    • Cancún climate summit: Yet another opportunity lost
      Meteorologists have already warned Europeans that in decades to come, the record temperatures of 2003 will seem mild. Cities – urban heat islands on average 5C and sometimes 10C hotter than the surrounding countryside – will become increasingly dangerous: no place for the elderly, the poor, the sick, the very young, or anybody without access to cool fresh water and air-conditioned buildings.

    • US set for wave of coal plant closures, report says

    • Ratcliffe activists found guilty of coal station plot

    • Soil erosion threatens to leave Earth hungry

    • House committee chairs: You get what you pay for
      But perhaps my surprise at this intimate connection between campaign cash and events just shows me up as a naive limey, and is not surprising at all to those of you in the US.

    • Cancun builds momentum; much more work to be done to save the climate – Greenpeace
      Governments in Cancun have chosen hope over fear and put the world on a difficult but now possible-to-navigate path to a global deal to stop dangerous climate change.

      “Cancun may have saved the process but it did not yet save the climate,” said Greenpeace International Climate Policy Director Wendel Trio. “Some called the process dead but governments have shown that they can cooperate and can move forward to achieve a global deal.”

    • Climate change: evidence from the geological record

    • Conservationists lose fight to protect Moscow forest from road

    • Climate change calculations put millions at risk, says new report

      Governments are gambling recklessly with human lives by wilfully underestimating the depth of the emission cuts they must makein the next 40 years, a new study has found.

      Governments have so far based their calculations for cutting emissions on only a 50:50 chance of holding temperature rises to 2C, the point that many scientists consider to be the threshold for catastrophic climate change which, once passed, will leave millions exposed to drought, hunger and flooding. This constitutes an unacceptable risk, says the report from Friends of the Earth.

    • California approves first US cap and trade scheme
      California regulators yesterday approved the first system in the United States to give polluting companies such as utilities and refineries financial incentives to emit fewer greenhouse gases.

      The Air Resources Board voted 9-1 to pass the key piece of California's 2006 climate law – called AB32 – with the hope that other states will follow the lead of the world's eighth largest economy. State officials are also discussing plans to link the new system with similar schemes that are underway or being planned in Canada, Europe and Asia.

      California is launching into a "historic adventure," said Mary Nichols, chairwoman of the state's air quality board.

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Reclaim the Cyber-Commons
      They are the online equivalent of enclosure riots: the rick-burning, fence-toppling protests by English peasants losing their rights to the land. When MasterCard, Visa, Paypal and Amazon tried to shut WikiLeaks out of the cyber-commons, an army of hackers responded by trying to smash their way into these great estates and pull down their fences.

      In the Wikileaks punch-up the commoners appear to have the upper hand. But it’s just one battle. There’s a wider cyberwar being fought, of which you hear much less. And in most cases the landlords, with the help of a mercenary army, are winning.

    • Shaping State Laws With Little Scrutiny

      Only 28 people work in ALEC's dark, quiet headquarters in Washington, D.C. And Michael Bowman, senior director of policy, explains that the little-known organization's staff is not the ones writing the bills. The real authors are the group's members — a mix of state legislators and some of the biggest corporations in the country.


      With that money, the 28 people in the ALEC offices throw three annual conferences. The companies get to sit around a table and write "model bills" with the state legislators, who then take them home to their states.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • The Fourth Amendment doesn’t protect Email as much as You might think

    • Why the FISA Amendments Act Is Unconstitutional
      The FISA Amendments Act allows the government to engage in mass acquisition of U.S. citizens’ and residents’ international communications with virtually no restrictions.

    • Smithsonian facing US funding boycott after video on sexuality 'censored'

      Leading US art foundations are threatening to withdraw support from the National Portrait Gallery in Washington in protest at what they see as blatant censorship in the decision to remove a video from an exhibition on sexuality in portraiture.

    • Fears grow for health of detained Iranian lawyer Nasrin Sotoudeh
      Sotoudeh, 45, has been kept in solitary confinement since her arrest in September. She is charged with "propaganda against the regime" and "acting against national security". Her supporters describe the charges as bogus and unsubstantial.

    • Iran jails director Jafar Panahi and stops him making films for 20 years

    • Hospital saves woman’s life; is told by Catholic leadership not to do it again.
      A Catholic hospital saved the life of a young mother of four. The woman was pregnant and suffered from life-threatening pulmonary hypertension, which caused her heart to begin to fail. Doctors determined that she would almost definitely die if she did not end the pregnancy immediately, and the woman agreed to terminate. Surgeons and physicians acted quickly and saved her life.

    • Sorry, Hamas, I'm Wearing Blue Jeans
      Palestinian feminist Asma Al-Ghoul arrived to our meeting at a Gaza coffee shop sporting blue jeans and a T-shirt—in stark contrast to the Islamic headscarves and tent-like dresses worn by the vast majority of Gazan women.

    • Is "free" Iraq becoming a more Islamic state?

    • Rights, not righteousness
      Many worry about the decline of liberalism. But liberalism is strongest when it feels pressured from the left, while no left can be robust without its own ideas and analysis, distinct from those of liberals. As long as leftwing intellectuals put most of their energy into figuring out what the Democrats should do, rather than figuring out what a 21st-century left should stand for, none of us will get very far.

    • Los Angeles museum commissions mural – then obliterates it
      The mural, depicting serried ranks of coffins draped not with the Stars and Stripes but with the dollar bill, was duly created in early December. At first, all was well. Blu even stayed at the home of MOCA director Jeffrey Deitch. When Deitch went off to attend to the arduous business of the Miami Art Fair, Blu got down to the messy process of painting. Luckily, pictures were taken as he picked away at the detail of the coffins, and they soon surfaced on a variety of street art blogs.

    • What is Traitorware?
      Your digital camera may embed metadata into photographs with the camera's serial number or your location. Your printer may be incorporating a secret code on every page it prints which could be used to identify the printer and potentially the person who used it. If Apple puts a particularly creepy patent it has recently applied for into use, you can look forward to a day when your iPhone may record your voice, take a picture of your location, record your heartbeat, and send that information back to the mothership.

      This is traitorware: devices that act behind your back to betray your privacy.

      Perhaps the most notable example of traitorware was the Sony rootkit. In 2005 Sony BMG produced CD's which clandestinely installed a rootkit onto PC's that provided administrative-level access to the users' computer. The copy-protected music CD’s would surreptitiously install its DRM technology onto PC’s. Ostensibly, Sony was trying prevent consumers from making multiple copies of their CD’s, but the software also rendered the CD incompatible with many CD-ROM players in PC’s, CD players in cars, and DVD players. Additionally, the software left a back door open on all infected PC’s which would give Sony, or any hacker familiar with the rootkit, control over the PC. And if a consumer should have the temerity to find the rootkit and try to remove the offending drivers, the software would execute code designed to disable the CD drive and trash the PC.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Cyberwarfare Tactics
        One of the tactics of cyberwarfare has become persuading credit-card/payment businesses to block transfers to organizations being attacked. Recently we saw that tactic applied to WikiLeaks. Now it is a file-sharing site, MegaUpload. The RIAA has branded MegaUploads a “rogue website” even though 70% of Fortune 500 companies use MegaUpload as a file distribution service.

      • ACTA

        • Wikileaks ACTA Cables Reveal Concern With U.S. Secrecy Demands
          The Guardian has posted two Wikileaks cables that focus on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. The first is from Italy in November 2008. It provides a useful reminder that the U.S. at one time hoped to conclude the ACTA negotiations by the end of 2008 (and the George Bush term).

Clip of the Day

Google Maps 5.0 for Android

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