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07.02.14

Links 2/7/2014: GNU/Linux up in Steam, New GCHQ Lawuit

Posted in News Roundup at 5:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 6 things to consider when building an open source community

    At Kaltura, we took the open source road partly because of curiosity and passion, and partly because we entered a market where competition was already getting fierce and there was a clear lack of an open source and standards oriented solution.

  • Exclusive: Leaked ‘Inception’ Document Fleshes Out Open-Source NFV Plans

    Plans for an open-source NFV platform are moving forward, as leading carriers and vendors in the NFV movement were scheduled to hold an “inception meeting” Monday and Tuesday.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox and Gtk+ 3

        Folks from Collabora and Red Hat have been working on making Firefox on Gtk+ 3 a thing. See Emilio’s blog post for some recent update. But getting Firefox to build and run locally is unfortunately not the whole story.

        I’ve been working on getting Gtk+ 3 Firefox builds going on Mozilla build infrastructure, and I’m proud to announce today that those builds are now going through Mozilla continuous integration on a project branch: Elm, and receive the same automated testing as mozilla-central.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • 6 fresh guides for managing OpenStack

      Looking for a guide to walk you through the creation, care and upkeep of your open source cloud running OpenStack? We’ve collected some of our favorite tutorials and technical how-tos from the past month all here in one place. Be sure to visit the official documentation for OpenStack if you need further guidance.

    • BYO-LHC: Bring Your Own Large Hadron Collider

      Rackspace’s involvement with OpenStack and CERN at the Large Hadron Collider surfaced again late last month when the cloud hosting provider staged a London-based gathering to discuss what, when and where its cloud hosting intelligence is being deployed.

    • How a little open source project came to dominate big data
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • 3 open source tools to make your presentations pop

      Love them or hate them, presentations are a major part of life in both academia and business. Traditionally, creating a presentation meant using Microsoft’s PowerPoint, but Apple’s Keynote and LibreOffice/OpenOffice.org’s Impress are solid alternatives. The problem with all those applications (aside from the closed source nature of the first two) is that you need those applications installed in order to view the presentations you’ve created. You can try your luck opening the file in Google Drive or the like, but your success will vary.

  • Funding

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Hardware

      • ARM Jumps on Open-Source Sensors

        ARM Semiconductors announced last week it would jump into the open-source sensor hubs game by teaming with sensor algorithm company Sensor Platforms to produce an open-source software for sensor hub applications. Sensor Platform’s Open Sensor Platform (OSP) is designed to simplify the use of sensors in applications and hardware by providing a flexible framework for more sophisticated interpretation and analysis of sensor data.

      • Creating an Open-Source Multiband RC Transmitter
  • Programming

    • Big data influencer on how R is paving the way

      Revolution Analytics supports the R community and the ever-growing needs of commercial users. Recently named a top 10 influencer on the topic of Big Data, I asked David Smith, the Chief Community Officer at Revolution Analytics, to share with me what keeps this programming language ticking. Though R has been around since the 90s, released in 1995 as under GPLv2 by two statistics professors looking to develop a new language for statistical computing, a new breath of life has energized a rowdy team of innovators around R.

    • SparkR is an R package that enables the R programming language to run inside of the Spark framework in order to manipulate the data for analytics.

      SparkR is an R package that enables the R programming language to run inside of the Spark framework in order to manipulate the data for analytics.

    • Trying out Julia

      This is a fairly quick post, though I previously considered making it longer and more trollish. A handful of my friends have told me about Julia, the amazing programming language made for numerical computations and other scientific computing uses.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Serverless WebRTC, continued

      Around a year ago, in WebRTC without a signaling server, I presented an simple app that can start a chat session with another browser without involving a local file server (i.e. you just browse to file:///) and without involving a signaling server (instead of both going to the same web page to share “offers”, you share them manually, perhaps via IM).

Leftovers

  • Who Goes to an Azov Battalion Charity Concert? Here’s 10.

    The Azov Battalion was formed on May 5th, 4 days later they were involved in still one of the most shocking actions of this Ukraine crisis, the Mariupol massacre. They were the battalion sent out of the Mariupol police hq first, into the streets, shooting, killing unarmed civilians. Since then, involvement in further atrocities across the former east of Ukraine has had them labelled ‘men in black’ (their uniform is all black, unmarked), even a ‘death squad‘. Part of their funding reportedly comes from oligarch Igor Kolomoisky. How many of them are there? Some have reported 70, but the group itself are secretive about exact numbers, with speculation it could be in the hundreds. Their official Facebook page has over 8000 ‘likes’.

  • The Risk of a Ukraine Bloodbath

    Pressured by neocons and the mainstream U.S. media, the Obama administration is charting a dangerous course by seeking a military solution to Ukraine’s political crisis and possibly provoking Moscow to intervene to protect ethnic Russians, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern warns.

  • Asylum seekers in standoff with police at Berlin protest

    Kreuzberg, the heart of countercultural Berlin, is no stranger to protests. But a tense standoff between police and protesters over the past six days has set a new standard.

    Since last Wednesday, hundreds of police officers have been surrounding a former school building in which a group of mainly African asylum seekers are protesting against their treatment in Germany.

    On Monday morning, around 20 officers lined up behind barricades on the junction of Ohlauer and Reichenberger Strasse, some of them deep in conversation with locals who wanted to get trolleys full of food and medicine through to the protesters.

    The press are refused entry to the school building, allegedly because of a fire hazard.

    While some local politicians are trying to negotiate an agreement that would allow the asylum seekers to permanently remain in the building while their cases are being processed, Germany’s police union is advocating an evacuation of the building.

    In a call from the roof of the building, a 32-year-old Sudanese refugee who would only give his name as Adam said: “The police try to give the impression that we are criminals and crazy people, but we only want to fight for our rights.”

  • Mobile roaming charges halved as EU introduces new caps

    Call, text and data charges in more than 40 EU countries are slashed by European leaders

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • The Assault on Organics

      The New York Post loves a good villain, but you’d think it would be hard to cast a bad light on the group of people profiled in an April 19 story: moms who feed their kids organic food.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • US Intimidated by Its Own Mercenaries

      Even the mightiest have their come-uppance when their internal logic spews out destructiveness returning on the self—“blowback” in a way perhaps not seen before. I refer to James Risen’s extraordinary article in the New York Times, “Before Shooting in Iraq, a Warning on Blackwater,” (June 30), in which the customary meaning of “blowback” refers to policies, e.g., the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the confrontation with Russia over Ukraine, the “pivot” of military power to the Pacific intent on the encirclement, containment, isolation of China, produce unintended, or if intended, still unwelcome, consequences for the initiator of the policy or action.

    • Blackwater Iraqi chief threatened to kill US govt. inspector – newspaper
    • The Return of Ahmad Chalabi

      Back in 2004, US troops in Iraq raided Chalabi’s headquarters. The accusation: he had leaked classified US intelligence to the Iranians, letting them in on the secret that we had cracked Tehran’s interagency code. For years, Chalabi had been on the CIA payroll, but now it looked like he was in reality a double-agent acting on behalf of Iran. The real shocker, however, was that Chalabi had access to this kind of closely-guarded intelligence in the first place. The FBI wanted to know how the wily Iranian exile leader got his hands on the information.

    • Iraq invasion was a huge mistake: US Secretary of State

      US Secretary of State John Kerry has admitted that the US-led invasion of Iraq eleven years ago was a serious mistake.

    • U.S.-Jihadist Relations (Part 1): Creating the Mujahedin in Afghanistan

      To President Carter and Brzezinski, the end justified the means. The end goal was the collapse of the Soviet Union, and to achieve it, Islamist fundamentalists had to be used. Osama bin Laden and people like him were dispatched to Afghanistan to fight the “godless” communists. It was during this time that the Quran’s surah on jihad attracted attention.

    • So, You Think You Know Iraq? – OpEd

      Such is the absence of quality in the current debate on Iraq, that absent is the presence of British observers in the first elections, to nominate a Government for the Kurdish Autonomous Region, after the 1991 failed US/UK backed uprising to remove Saddam Hussain from power.

      The clear absence of such minor details, which any self respecting sociologist or politician would describe as vital, to the “cause and affect” of the current situation, has now resulted in a political narrative, which has excluded the internal and external Iraqi community.

    • Filing vague on Benghazi suspect’s role

      A legal filing prosecutors submitted in advance of a hearing set in federal court in Washington on Wednesday for Libyan militia leader Ahmed Abu Khatallah is vague about his role in the 2012 attack that killed four Americans at a U.S. diplomatic outpost in Benghazi.

      Abu Khatallah was captured in Benghazi last month by U.S. military special forces and FBI personnel. He was brought across the Atlantic in a Navy ship before being helicoptered into Washington on Saturday morning for an arraignment in federal court on an indictment charging him with conspiring to provide material support to terrorists in connection with the assault on the U.S. compound two years ago.

    • Abu Khattala, suspect in Benghazi attacks, held without bond

      A suspected ringleader of the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya, that killed a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans was ordered held without bond during a Wednesday hearing in D.C. federal court.

    • Repeal the Bill Kristol Permanent Punditry Act!

      The only other possibility is that ABC is being forced to comply with a law that requires Bill Kristol appear on national television. If that’s not the excuse, then what is?

    • Crazed Bombers Support Bombs Shock

      Why “Establishment figures endorse status quo” is news beats me. The only news is that the estrangement of ordinary people from the moribund political establishment means nobody cares what these old troughers and sycophants think. In Scotland the referendum has given an impetus to a popular will to take back the power kidnaped by an unrepresentative political class. These old fogeys may need to have the power (with American permission) to kill billions of their human beings, in order to feel potent and important. But if they want to keep these appalling devices, they are going to have to look for somewhere new to keep them. The Pool of London?

    • Court Tells DOJ To Cough Up The Other Secret Memos That Justify Killing People By Drone

      Last week, we wrote about how the DOJ finally released (a heavily redacted) copy of its memo authorizing drone use for killing Americans (though, some have pointed out that the memo was written well after the US started trying to kill Americans with drones). More importantly, we noted that the memo actually pointed to another secret memo as part of the justification. It’s secret memo on top of secret memo, all the way down. The ACLU went back to court to see about getting its hands on that other memo, and the court has now ordered the DOJ to cough up any such memos related to killing people with drones. Specifically, the judge has ordered the DOJ to provide…

    • A Band-Aid Approach to Fixing the V.A.

      Despite promises from the Bush-43 administration that the Iraq War would pay for itself, the price tag keeps soaring with the predictable impact on V.A. hospitals struggling to care for wounded warriors. But the political solution has been to make a change at the top, as ex-CIA analyst Paul R. Pillar notes.

    • Iraqi ‘Caliph’ on U.S. Kill List

      Currently, several hundred U.S. troops are providing security in Baghdad and assessing Iraq’s security needs, Dempsey said on NPR on June 28. The military is preparing “additional options” including the targeting of “high-value individuals,” he said.

    • McCain meets Syrian rebels, presses for military aid to fight ISIS

      Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) pressed for increasing aid to moderate rebel groups after meeting Syrian opposition leaders in Turkey Wednesday, warning that delays would “fuel the growing danger” to U.S. security.

      McCain said pro-Western Syrian forces were fighting a “two-front war” against both Syrian strongman Bashar Assad and the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), a Sunni militant group that has captured huge swaths of both countries.

    • US Court: Mexicans Can Sue Border Patrol Agent Who Killed Their Rock-Throwing Son

      The US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled on Monday that the parents of Sergio Hernandez, a 15-year-old Mexican teenager who was shot and killed by Border Patrol Agent Jesus Mesa on June 7, 2010, could sue Mesa in U.S. civil court for alleged excessive use of force. This was a reversal of the initial judgment made in Mesa’s favor in the lower Western District Court in El Paso, TX.

    • Germany considers introducing armed drones
    • The era of American drone supremacy is fading – but the threat of drone multipolarity is real – and potentially endless

      However, though America has only deemed the UK fit to buy their UAVs, others, including Iran, whose drones patrol the same Iraqi skies as their US counterparts, have reverse engineered the unmanned aerial vehicle with relative ease.

    • Intel chairman: Drone strikes on Americans abroad ‘legitimate’

      Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Mich.) said al Qaeda affiliated fighters targeting the U.S. should not be handled by the court system, regardless of whether they are American citizens.

    • America needs a rulebook

      Americans are troubled by the lack of accountability surrounding US use of targeted strikes far from traditional battlefields

    • Peace talks failure led to drone strikes: Report

      The London-based Bureau of Investigating Journalism quoting a source close to peace talks between the government and TTP said Islamabad had asked the US to stop drone strikes during the peace deal.

    • Win Mott: Deja Vu all over again for U.S. in Iraq

      7. We are still lost. The gates of hell are still wide open. You now understand what is happening. You are ahead of our leaders, of both parties, who in attempting to protect economic interests have lost any sense of foreign policy direction, or of the costs to America in blood and dollars. It is hard to believe that future U.S. leaders could make it worse, but it is possible.

    • Rachel Marsden: Is US being duped into funding jihadist startup?

      Unless the end goal is to foment Islamic terrorism from the Middle East to Southeast Asia, what exactly is this administration hoping to achieve? It’s getting its backside handed to it by the jihadist version of a startup, and Obama risks becoming its venture capitalist in chief.

    • US plans to increase airport security after new threat

      The US is reportedly planning to overhaul security at its airports and to demand its overseas partners do the same, after receiving intelligence that militant groups in the Middle East are preparing a new generation of non-metallic explosives that could be carried undetected on to commercial flights.

    • Rights activists protest ‘Human Rights Watch’

      Human rights activists marched from the New York Times offices to the Empire State Building — which houses Human Rights Watch — to protest both institutions as tools of the CIA, specifically in their role attacking the Bolivarian government of Venezuela.

    • Cuba Cooperated with US in Search for Missing Americans

      Starting 1998, the Cuban government provided the United States with intelligence to help it track down US citizens who had disappeared in the field during the Cold War, a former CIA agent revealed.

      Chip Beck, a retired CIA agent and former Department of State official, revealed that, between 1998 and 2001, he traveled to Cuba officially on five separate occasions to look for information on US citizens who had disappeared during missions in Indochina, Africa and Central America during the years of confrontation between the West and the communist bloc headed by the Soviet Union.

    • Cuba – down but not out

      The US still does not have formal diplomatic relations with Cuba and maintains an embargo that makes it illegal for US corporations to do business with Cuba.

    • EDITORIAL: Close loopholes, open documents

      Earlier this year, the CIA blocked the release of a decades-old internal report on the Bay of Pigs. It is hard to imagine why such information on a 1960s operation would not be public information now.

    • The death by drone memo: a throwback to U.S. terrorism in Nicaragua

      While the Contras claimed responsibility, to the Sandinistas such actions bore all the hallmarks of the CIA. Immediately, they lodged a formal complaint before the International Court of Justice.

      For its part, the State Department assured it had “no further information on the incident,” adding: “We have received a protest from the Soviet Union charging U.S. responsibility, and we reject that charge.”

      On April 8, unauthorized leaks revealed that the CIA (specifically, its so-called Unilaterally Controlled Latino Assets or UCLAs) had in fact been directly involved in laying these mines. As shown by a March 2, 1984 secret memorandum written by Oliver North, the agency had made prior arrangements asking the Contras to “take credit for the operation” to cover up its involvement.

    • Mercury News: Drones need better justification

      Thirteen months ago, during a speech at the National Defense University, President Barack Obama promised greater transparency and new guidelines for drone use as part of his counterterrorism strategy.

    • Thailand deports ex-resistance leader to Laos

      Thailand deported a former ethnic Hmong resistance leader whose group fought for the US in Laos in the 1960s, Thai officials and rights groups said Wednesday, raising concerns that he will face persecution in his homeland.

      Moua Toua Ter and fellow Hmong led a desperate existence on the run in the jungles of Laos for more than two decades. He had been sheltering in Thailand for eight years while seeking resettlement in a third country.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • How Business Media Covered “Risky Business” Climate Report

      Refusing to act on climate change will be bad for business, according to a major recent report assessing the alarming risks of unchecked global warming on the U.S. economy. But while some top business media outlets recognize global warming as a serious issue for their audience, others are still stuck in denial.

  • Finance

    • The AP’s Newest Business Reporter Is an Algorithm

      Journalistic earnings stories can feel robotic, even when written by a news organization as prestigious as the Associated Press. Acknowledging this fact, the AP has decided that it will just have robots produce stories on companies’ earning reports.

    • New Haven boy, 12, takes mission to end homelessness to Detroit’s streets

      The young boy smiles and looks into the eyes of the homeless man with bent shoulders and worn shoes.

      He carefully places a scoop of potato salad next to the grilled hot dog and beans on the man’s plate.

    • Editorial: Mentally ill, chronically homeless

      Even the most sequestered suburbanite visiting downtown Detroit can see that cuts in mental health services have pushed mentally ill people onto the street. During the day, more and more of them share the sidewalks with nicely dressed people who walk by them, often without a glance, on their way to the offices, lofts, condos, restaurants and clubs that signal Detroit’s downtown revival.

    • Neoliberalism’s Slippery Slope

      Freidman, as one of the founders of neoliberal thought, and theory, in the late 1940s, became synonymous with “monetarism” and eventually with “neoliberalism,” and as follows, significantly, very significantly, his theory spread all across the earth from the shores of Melbourne to Sri Lanka to Cape Town to Cape Horn to Tokyo; it’s a neoliberal world.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • 238 Years Later, Would Americans Still Choose Freedom Over Slavery?
    • Land of the free? Not so much. Americans’ sense of freedom drops, poll finds.

      This Independence Day, Americans will celebrate the nation’s core values, especially freedom. But according to a new international poll, Americans have become significantly “less satisfied with the freedom to choose what they want to do with their lives.”

      Seventy-nine percent of US residents are satisfied with their level of freedom, down from 91 percent in 2006, according to the Gallup survey, released Tuesday.

      That 12 point drop pushes the US from among the highest in the world in terms of perceived freedom to 36th place, outside the top quartile of the 120 countries sampled, trailing Paraguay, Rwanda, and the autonomous region of Nagarno-Karabakh.

    • The One-Sided Culture War Against Children

      Have a look at the unsigned editorials in left-of-center newspapers, or essays by columnists whose politics are mostly progressive. Listen to speeches by liberal public officials. On any of the controversial issues of our day, from tax policy to civil rights, you’ll find approximately what you’d expect.

    • Colleges are slowly taking away your First Amendment rights

      September 17 last year was a pretty bad day for the Constitution on our campuses. Robert Van Tuinen of Modesto Junior College in California was prevented from passing out copies of the Constitution outside of his college’s tiny “free speech zone.” Near Los Angeles, Citrus College student Vinny Sinapi-Riddle was threatened with removal from campus for the “offense” of collecting signatures for a petition against NSA domestic surveillance outside his college’s tiny free speech area.

    • Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush Totaled 672 Executive Orders. Obama has 182. Boehner’s Lawsuit is Frivolous.

      In a Wall Street Journal op-ed, Ted Cruz accused the president of breaking the law by claiming, “Of all the troubling aspects of the Obama presidency, none is more dangerous than the president’s persistent pattern of lawlessness, his willingness to disregard the written law and instead enforce his own policies via executive fiat.” Unfortunately for Sen. Cruz and like-minded citizens, there’s nothing unprecedented about Obama’s recent activities. According to C-Span’s Congressional Glossary, an executive order is defined as, “a presidential directive with the force of law. It does not need congressional approval.” While many conservatives have labeled Obama’s unilateral decisions as imperial, or the actions of a “monarch,” the truth is that U.S. history is filled with Republican presidents who have been far more willing to take matters into their own hands.

    • Why Congress and the CIA Are Feuding
    • CIA and Congress Clash Over Classified Report on Interrogation Program

      Partly as a result, relations between the CIA and Congress are more fraught than at any point in the past decade. The source of the tension is the Senate intelligence committee’s classified report on the CIA’s controversial post-9/11 interrogation program—and the agency’s response to it.

      [...]

      Sen. Dianne Feinstein, a California Democrat and chairman of the committee, was angry. The document was part of the committee’s investigation of the CIA interrogation program. Mr. Brennan’s investigation, she felt, was an affront to the Constitution’s separation of powers. She wanted an apology.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Nobody cares about the future of the Internet

      John Oliver told us that “If you want to do something evil, put it inside something that sounds incredibly boring,” and there’s no domain in which that is more true than the world of Internet governance.

    • Will a more powerful FCC ensure net neutrality? EFF thinks so!

      EFF has taken a U-turn from its stand on giving FCC too much power to regulate the internet services. Now EFF is recommending that FCC reclassify internet services as Title II services which will give the commission more power to regulate the industry.

    • The FCC and Net Neutrality: A Way Forward

      EFF has long been critical of the Federal Communications Commission’s efforts to regulate digital technologies and services. We’ve warned against FCC rules and strategies that threatened to (or actually did) give the agency too much power over innovation and user choice. And with good reason: the FCC has a sad history of being captured by the very industries it’s supposed to regulate. It also has a history of ignoring grassroots public opinion. In the early 2000s, for example, the commission essentially ignored the comments of hundreds of thousands of Americans who opposed media consolidation.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Dotcom Encryption Keys Can’t Be Given to FBI, Court Rules

        In 2012, New Zealand police seized computer drives belonging to Kim Dotcom, copies of which were unlawfully given to the FBI. Dotcom wants access to the seized content but the drives are encrypted. A judge has now ruled that even if the Megaupload founder supplies the passwords, they cannot subsequently be forwarded to the FBI.

      • The Pirate Bay Now Blocked in Argentina

        Argentina has become the first country in Latin America to block The Pirate Bay on copyright grounds. A court order obtained by the country’s leading recording labels compels eleven ISPs to block 256 Pirate Bay IP addresses and 12 domains. According to early reports from the region, some ISPs have already implemented the ban.

      • The Troubling Truth of Why It’s Still So Hard to Share Files Directly

        It’s not always easy to spot the compromises in the technology we use, where we’ve allowed corporate interests to trump public ideals like privacy and press freedom. But sometimes new developments can cast those uneasy bargains into relief—and show that the public may not have even been at the table when they were made.

07.01.14

Links 1/7/2014: CoreOS and Blackphone in Headlines

Posted in News Roundup at 12:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source support gives older software a fighting chance

    It would be difficult to find someone who could provide more insight into what is happening in the world of the Eclipse IDE than Wayne Beaton, the director of open source projects at The Eclipse Foundation. So what is new with Eclipse, beyond the obvious excitement surrounding the latest Eclipse Kepler release and the recently announced support for Java 8?

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • ownCloud Client 1.6.1

      The recommendation is to update your installation to this version. The previous version 1.6.0 had great new features, first and foremost the parallel up- and download of files and a way more performant handling of the local sync journal. That required a lot of code changes. Unfortunately that also brought in some bugs which are now fixed with the 1.6.1 release.

    • A path to OpenStack contributions, bug reporting, and more

      Interested in keeping track of what’s happening in the open source cloud? Opensource.com is your source for what’s happening right now in OpenStack, the open source cloud infrastructure project.

  • Databases

    • MongoDB: A showcase for the power of open source in the enterprise

      Big trends in the No Design Database era and other takeaways from MongoDB’s first user conference.

    • The day I finally drank the open source Kool-Aid

      The combination of the Internet, Moores Law and hyper fast commoditization changed that, but not as quickly as you might imagine. At least not until the most recent times (perhaps the last five years) when vendors emerged who upended the old models and presented us with a fresh way to look at everything compute related. Infrastructure, Database, Software, Platform…Pretty Much Everything is rapidly being converted to a Service. Witness Citi recently talking MongoDB as a Service.

  • CMS

    • 3 open source content management systems compared

      Whether you need to set up a blog, a portal for some specific usage, or any other website, which content management system is right for you? is a question you are going to ask yourself early on. The most well-known and widely used open source content management system (CMS) platforms are: Joomla, WordPress, and Drupal. They are all based on PHP and MySQL and offer a wide range of options to users and developers alike.

  • Healthcare

  • Business

  • Funding

    • Quality Software Costs Money – Heartbleed Was Free

      About the only thing GNU Project founder Richard Stallman and I can agree on when it comes to software freedom is that it’s “Free as in free speech, not free beer.”

      I really hope the Heartbleed vulnerability helps bring home the message to other communities that FOSS does not materialize out of empty space; it is written by people. We love what we do, which is why I’m sitting here, way past midnight on a Saturday evening, writing about it; but we are also real people with kids, cars, mortgages, leaky roofs, sick pets, infirm parents, and all kinds of other perfectly normal worries.

      The only way to improve the quality of FOSS is to make it possible for these perfectly normal people to spend time on it. They need time to review patch submissions carefully, to write and run test cases, to respond to and fix bug reports, to code, and most of all, time just to think about the code and what should happen to it.

    • base Raises $60 Million to Fuel NoSQL Database Effor

      It takes a lot of money to build a database company in an industry dominated by a giant like Oracle. It’s a lesson that open-source NoSQL database startup Couchbase know well as it continues to raise funding to build its business.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Introducing Alex Patel, our summer Campaigns intern

      My name is Alex Patel, and I’ll be working as an intern with the campaigns team at the Free Software Foundation this summer. This fall, I will be a sophomore at Harvard College in Cambridge, MA, at which I’m pursuing a joint degree in computer science and philosophy.

    • Learn How to Protect Your Email Communication in Less Than 30 Minutes

      Email Self-Defense, a beginner’s guide and infographic to email encryption by the Free Software Foundation (FSF), was released in six new languages [fr, de, jp, ru, pt, tr] on June 30, 2014. More languages are underway.

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • Governance for the GitHub generation

      In software, this is epitomized by the GitHub generation, but I believe it’s a characteristic of any aspect of culture touched by the Internet. For those still trapped in the worldview of the Industrial Age, a hierarchy of mediators collects dues in return for providing permission to pass. But the Internet connects everyone to everyone else, peer to peer without discrimination…

    • The D Language LLVM Compiler Updated With Numerous Changes

      LDC that’s the LLVM-based D language code compiler has been updated. LDC 0.13.0 was released last week with new features.

Leftovers

06.30.14

Links 30/6/2014: Linux 3.16 RC3, Many New Android Devices

Posted in News Roundup at 3:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • the struggle of open social networks

    identi.ca did not move the needle against Twitter at all. Diaspora still doesn’t show up as even a blip in the social networking audience. Why is this? I think that there are good reasons, and then there are the real reasons.

    The good reasons include network effects (particularly as a late-mover), good-but-not-excellent implementations, few if any “killer features” (for the common person), and a lack of marketing resources. These all contribute in one way or another to preventing open social network alternatives from flourishing.

    [...]

    Is it imaginable to have (truly) decentralized social networks that are not server-centric? Can we imagine ways of delivering some or all of the features of today’s social networks without having everyone talking through server software? Can we imagine a fully decentralized system that not only allows but encourages deep local app integration? Could a system be developed that does not imply the topic in the implementation (e.g. professional networking versus restaurant reviews)?

  • Paying With Your Time

    Nicole Engard takes that phrase that you Get what you paid for with open source head on at Opensource.com. The phrase is normally used in a derogative fashion, but Nichole accepts the phrase and makes it her own by explaining how everyone benefits when you pay with your time.

    In the world of standard economics, nothing is ever truly free of cost. If something is given to you for nothing, someone had to pay for it at some point along the line. In the modern, advertising based economy, If you are not paying with your money, than you are most likely paying with your personal information. Another example of would be public services, which are normally paid for with taxes. In the world of open source, the phrase is normally meant to imply that the program you are obtaining for free is of such low quality that it has little to no value. “Oh, you are having a problem with that open source app? Well, you get what you paid for!” Laughter ensues.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla at work: See the web evolve with VR

        He provided links for Windows and OS X builds in his blog, and he said Linux is coming soon. Although only the Oculus Rift is currently supported, other devices, he said, will come soon, including Google’s Cardboard.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Hacking LibreOffice in Paris

      Less technical particpants (such as yours truly) had the opportunity to work on the Bern Conference planning, the messaging of the upcoming LibreOffice releases, and explain how the LibreOffice project works to our guests. And of course, food and drinks were not forgotten during the Friday evening…

  • CMS

  • BSD

  • Public Services/Government

    • The government says, “we will break away from OS dependency with open source software by 2020”

      As the support for the Microsoft (MS) Windows XP service is terminated this year, the government will try and invigorate open source software in order to solve the problem of dependency on certain software. By 2020 when the support of the Windows 7 service is terminated, it is planning to switch to open OS and minimize damages. Industry insiders pointed out that the standard e-document format must be established and shared as an open source before open source software is invigorated.

    • What would you do with millions of pounds?

      There’s a lot that you can do with £5.5m. You could employ a couple of hundred people for a year for starters, or set up some small businesses. You could be sensible and invest in technologies, or you could pay for lots of operations. Alternatively, you could buy lots of sweets or several million copies of the Adam Sandler movie of your choice.

    • Why The Korean Government Could Go Open Source By 2020

      A similar suggestion that Korea might embrace more open source (but couched more cautiously, with more “should” and “may”) is reported on the news page of the EU’s program on Interoperability Solutions for European Public Administrations, based on a workshop presentation earlier this month by Korea’s Ministry of Science, ICT, and Future Planning. (And at a smaller but still huge scale, the capitol city of Seoul appears to be going in for open source software in a big way, too.)

    • Seoul, South Korea, plans new cloud platform to share data
    • Government Of Korea Is Into FLOSS For The Long Run
  • Openness/Sharing

Leftovers

06.29.14

The Internet’s Own Boy: The Story of Aaron Swartz

Posted in Interview at 1:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A film that has just been released and is a free (CC-licensed) download on Internet Archive


Arguments Persist Over Whether Software Patents Died in the US Whilst European Patent Law is Quietly Assimilated to US

Posted in Europe, Law, Patents at 5:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Keep clean

Summary: Continued discussion about the meaning of the US Supreme Court (SCOTUS) ruling and what it means to programmers all around the world, not just patent lawyers who seek to monopolise and tax software development

THE recent SCOTUS ruling on patents ended software patent scope where it reaches "abstract ideas" (whatever exactly it means, as no criteria were specified or even a test). The ruling left room for patent lawyers to exploit (pretending nothing has actually changed). We have demonstrated, based on dozens of analyses from patent lawyers, that lawyers’ responses are quite consistent, ensuring only that people still come to them to patent algorithms.

Here is another new analysis from Dykema Gossett PLLC, saying that “Litigants involved in current or future litigation over software patents will want to study the claims at issue to assess their vulnerability under the framework laid out in Alice Corp. While patent eligibility of any particular software claim will remain a case-by-case, fact specific inquiry, at least now there is some guidance by which to conduct that inquiry.”

“Basically, the corporate media is now a platform by which lawyers ‘report’ to the public on a decision in which they have vested interests.”Dr. Glyn Moody looks at the glass as half full, celebrating the fact that the SCOTUS is at least recognising that there are limits to software patents. He also, however, bemoans Europe moving in the opposite direction. To quote Moody: “I’ve written a number of times about the curse of the “as such” clause in Article 52 of the European Patent Convention, which has allowed software patents to creep in to Europe by the backdoor. In the US, which has a far more liberal attitude to patenting everything under the sun, there has been a cognate problem, whereby patent applications have been made on a abstract/trivial idea simply by appending “using a computer” to make it novel. At long last, the US Supreme Court has addressed this issue.”

“European Unitary Patent system will work means that there is no independent court to which appeals can be made – only an appeal court within the new patent system itself. That lack of an external check is an extremely dangerous feature – and one that the European Union may well come to regret.”

The European angle is interesting as the EU’s position on software patents has been gradually morphing/assimilating to the US position.

Here is America Online (AOL) giving a ‘report’ (not analysis) about the SCOTUS ruling. Guess who wrote it. That’s right, AOL treats ‘IP’ groups as journalists now, boosting their position, which is what we foresaw and worried about. The article begins with the following promotion: “Michael Gulliford is the Founder and Managing Principal of the Soryn IP Group,a new breed of patent management and advisory company that provides a host of patent-centric services to a select group of innovators.”

“The great majority of patent trolls use software patents, so rather than speak about stopping trolls we need to concentrate on patent scope.”Basically, the corporate media is now a platform by which lawyers ‘report’ to the public on a decision in which they have vested interests.

Here is an analysis from Davies Collison Cave, separate from the press (legal sites host these). It says: “To be eligible for a patent in the US, a computer implemented invention will probably now need to provide a technological improvement, solve a technical problem or effect some improvement in technology or a technical field. It will certainly need to involve more than simply implementing an abstract idea on a generic computer.

“Whether it was intentional or not, the US Supreme Court may have introduced into US law technical contribution requirements similar to those of European patent law.”

Yes, so the US is moving closer to EU patent law while EU patent law is moving closer to US patent law, which includes software patents. There seems to be some kind of dangerous convergence here. We need to fight hard to stop it.

Here is another new analysis from Stinson Leonard Street LLP (another patents firm):

Software patents vulnerable: use of a computer is “not enough”

[...]

This decision will likely be cheered by technology companies with patent portfolios directed to more sophisticated inventions that go beyond computer-implemented business methods. However, software patents directed to general business processes, such as those that involve the performance of well-known financial transactions on a computer, may be in jeopardy of being invalidated.

That basically sounds like the “as such” nonsense that we have in Europe and to some degree in New Zealand as well. This is not good. This might mean that spurious patent litigation (over software patents) can soon break out of places like the Eastern District of Texas, where stories like this one are being reported by the patent trolls-obsessed:

A controversial patent that has been used to wring millions of dollars in settlements from hundreds of companies is on the verge of getting shut down.

US Circuit Judge William Bryson, sitting “by designation” in the Eastern District of Texas, has found in a summary judgment ruling (PDF) that the patent, owned by TQP Development, is not infringed by the two defendants remaining in the case, Intuit Corp. and Hertz Corp. In a separate ruling (PDF), Bryson rejected Intuit’s arguments that the patent was invalid.

Notice the type of patents they are using. The great majority of patent trolls use software patents, so rather than speak about stopping trolls we need to concentrate on patent scope. Here is Steven W. Lundberg (highly vocal proponent of software patents [1, 2, 3]) boosting software patents again (as if nothing has changed) and several other patent boosters like Fenwick & West LLP and Stroock & Stroock & Lavan LLP. Perhaps they view all this as an opportunity (in the long run) to file their patents in yet more continents, making even more money by taking away from society and tying the hands of programmers.

Timothy B. Lee is a little more optimistic than us. He says that “the Supreme Court might kill software patents” and here is why:

Last week I argued that the Supreme Court’s widely anticipated ruling in the case of CLS v. Alice wasn’t the knockout blow software patent opponents had been hoping for. The Supreme Court struck down the specific patent at issue in the case, but it was vague about when, if ever, other software patents were allowed.

Reading commentary on the case has made me more convinced that software patent owners should be worried.

In a nutshell, the Supreme Court said two things: you can’t patent abstract ideas, and merely implementing an abstract idea on a generic computer isn’t enough to turn it into a patentable invention. The big question is: what’s an abstract idea?

The patents the Supreme Court struck down last week and in a 2010 case called Bilski v. Kappos were extremely abstract. In essence, both patents took an abstract business strategy — like holding money in escrow to prevent either party to a deal from backing out — and claimed the concept of implementing it on a computer. In both 2010 and 2014, the Supreme Court said that wasn’t enough for a patent.

Some software patent supporters, like former Patent Office director David Kappos, have concluded that the decision leaves most software patents unscathed. But the respected patent scholar Robert Merges, a software patent supporter himself, is not so sure.

David Kappos is not credible because he worked both for the patents-greedy USPTO and for IBM, one of the most aggressive patent-rattling companies and leading lobbyist for software patents, even in Europe. The argument we made some days ago is that all software patents are — by definition almost — abstract. Unless there is a working implementation to be patented, all that the application allude to are ideas, barely any function at all.

What it boils down to is this; if a judge was competent enough to tell the difference between pseudo code, programming, UML etc. (which is unlikely, especially in clueless, biased and corrupt courts like CAFC), then every software patent would be deemed “abstract”, hence invalid. To construct a legally-cohesive argument along those lines might require a lawyer. Are there any “good” patent lawyers out there?

Good Nokia (Jolla) and Bad Nokia (Microsoft); or Good Derivatives and Bad Derivatives of Android Hardware

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 4:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Jolla is what Nokia should have been

Jolla phone

Summary: A reminder of what Nokia has really become (a part of Microsoft) and where people should go if they pursue what Nokia would have been without the mole (Elop)

SEVERAL months ago we wrote about Microsoft’s disturbing attempt to use Nokia’s brand and reputation to ‘steal’ Android. Microsoft will never succeed, but it can do some damage. There are still some fools out there who buy phones solely based on brand loyalty and moreover they are loyal to Nokia. They don’t know what happened to Nokia; They won’t realise that they are giving all their data to the NSA through Microsoft, the #1 PRISM partner (the NSA easily sucks in everything Microsoft has).

Much of the corporate press fails to critically assess what Microsoft is doing to Android, which it is attacking while pretending to embrace it. Here is an example of it and also a technical response that says:

I wish I could say I was impressed with the Nokia X2, but I’m not for the simple reason that it seems to be the worst of both worlds. You have Android of course, but it has been modified to try to make the phone into a hybrid that resembles Windows Phone and promotes Microsoft’s online services.

How many people would really want to buy this thing? If you want Microsoft’s services then the logical thing to do is to simply buy a Windows phone. And if you prefer Android then wouldn’t you go for an Android phone that hasn’t been tweaked to look like Windows Phone?

Sorry, I just don’t see who the market is for this kind of device. I doubt very many Android users are going to bother with it, and I can’t see it having enough appeal for Windows Phone users either. It seems to be a franken-phone with one foot in both camps and I doubt it’ll do much in the way of sales.

Looking at this from a purely technical point of view misses the point. We have already explains what Microsoft is hoping to accomplish here [1, 2, 3]. It’s pretty serious.

Many people are rightly concerned that Android (Google’s and others’) is not privacy-respecting either. For that reason we are still advocating the phoned from Nokia’s Linux proponents, who left the company and started Jolla, basing the work on MeeGo. The latest report [1] says that “Jolla has announced the availability of an Android launcher based on Sailfish operating system for Android devices.”

This is good news. My wife and I are excited about it because buying a Jolla phone has been her plan for a long time, provided it’s sold in the UK and is privacy-enhancing. Last week there were some teasers about this [2-7] and it seems like many Android devices (including ours) will be easily convertible to Sailfish OS devices. Replicant is another interesting option, but device compatibility is still too limited for it.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Jolla unveils Sailfish Launcher for Android

    Jolla has announced the availability of an Android launcher based on Sailfish operating system for Android devices. The product will be officially called the “Jolla Launcher,” and the company’s invitation based Alpha phase testing will begin next week.

  2. Jolla Launcher Looking For Beta Testers Before Hitting Google Play Store
  3. Nexus 4 gets Saapunki update for its Jolla Sailfish OS port
  4. Jolla Delivers ‘Saapunki’ Update For Nexus 4; Bugs Included
  5. Android Apps Free Download: Try Out Jolla Launcher When It Gets Released In The Play Store Next Week
  6. Jolla Launcher for Android starts alpha tests next week
  7. Jolla Launcher alpha testing program launching, promises Sailfish OS experience on Android

Microsoft and the BSA Play Hardball, Accelerating a Much-Motivated Move to Free/Libre Software

Posted in Microsoft at 4:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The alliance of proprietary software giants and software patents proponents (BSA) is seen bolstering Microsoft’s war of aggression against its own ‘clients’

AOL got the patents of Netscape and Microsoft later took those patents (quite a disaster in its own right). According to this new article (published in a site financed by the man behind Netscape), Microsoft makes billions of dollars from “patented technology” (the figure probably referring to the Web browser or something related to it). To quote: “From a suburb of Philadelphia, a man named Rob Morris watches Microsoft collect $3 billion in licensing fees from a patented technology he feels is ultimately his.

“The BSA’s position has been merely identical to that of Microsoft over the years.”“At the peak of Microsoft’s browser war with Netscape in 1996, a small two-man team by the name of V_Graph approached Microsoft with a novel browser component that could integrate web content into custom applications. They called their product “web widgets.”

“Though appreciated, their offer was rejected and eventually returned to them. However, months later Microsoft launched Internet Explorer 3.0, and officially reigned supreme with the world’s first fully componentized browser — a technology conspicuously similar to V_Graph’s.”

There is something truly disturbing here because Microsoft, based on some leaks (dodging NDA trickery), uses browser patents to extort Android, various other Linux-based operating systems, browsers etc. It is possible that Microsoft is not at all entitled to these patents. Never mind eligibility of software patents in general, there’s likely prior art; we just need to identify it and cite it.

The other day we found this article about the recent SCOTUS ruling (more on that in a later post) and the article stated: “The U.S. Supreme Court decision in Alice v. CLS Bank could make many of the ridiculous business-method and software patents invalid … eventually.”

But meanwhile, looking at the article “No Unanimity in Reactions to SC’s Unanimous Software Patent Decision” (from ECT), we sure found something curious. Watch the response from Microsoft’s lobbying arm, the BSA, which appears as involved in the following way (also mind the revolving doors Victoria Espinel just went through): “When the U.S. Supreme Court issues a unanimous decision, it’s easy to conclude that it must be right on the facts, right on the law, and right in applying the law to the facts. So what’s not to like about its recent 9-0 ruling in a software patent case?

“The decision was spot-on — or at least nearly spot-on, according to Victoria Espinel, president and CEO of the Business Software Alliance.

“”This decision is a victory for innovation,” she said.

“The Court confirmed existing law that views abstract ideas as ineligible for patent protection, noted Microsoft.”

The BSA’s position has been merely identical to that of Microsoft over the years. Both the BSA and Microsoft choose to portray this judgment as limited, celebrating what they perceive as strengthening Microsoft when it fact it can invalidate Microsoft patents, including many which allude to Web browsers.

Speaking of the BSA, watch what it does right now to further fracture society for profit. “The paid informants program of the Business Software Alliance,” says Torrent Freak, “is a great success. The group recruits informants through Facebook and other venues, offering them hard cash in return for a successful tip. According to a BSA executive, this approach has put a dent in software piracy rates.”

At whose expense? And how is that a “great success”? “Microsoft is playing hardball with the NHS,” says this other new article, noting that Microsoft is “threatening trusts and authorities with drastically increased software payments over claimed licence violations.”

“For many years the BSA lobbied for Microsoft in Europe, trying to spread software patents into everything including standards (recall FRAND).”This is the kind of aggression we recently wrote about. Thankfully, based on inside knowledge that I have (in my job), the NHS is gradually moving to FOSS in some areas, with expansion in terms of scope over time. The “great success” that the BSA brags about is more likely a success for FOSS, at least in the long run. People just don’t want to pay for proprietary software anymore. A lost client pays $0 and is not locked in anymore.

The British press says: “The tough talking comes more than a year after an organisational shift began across the NHS (April ’13) saw some Primary Care Trusts and strategic health authorities abolished and clinical commissioning groups taking their place.”

Well, the NHS should tell Microsoft (and the BSA) to go where the Sun doesn’t shine. All we have here are a pair of patent and EULA bullies, who wish to make money out of fines rather than licences, locking in people and forcing them to pay for stuff that they never produced (extortion through patents). For many years the BSA lobbied for Microsoft in Europe, trying to spread software patents into everything including standards (recall FRAND). It’s truly time to make a statement and take a tough stance, abandoning Microsoft and other proprietary software as soon as possible.

06.28.14

Microsoft E-mail Infrastructure a Sure Way to Lose Access to E-mail, Lose Messages, and Get Abused

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Mail, Microsoft at 5:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bush daughters

Summary: How the increased reliance of proprietary software for E-mails breeds abuse at the higher levels while hurting those who are vulnerable

COMPANIES and individuals who rely on Free software for their E-mail needs rarely lose any mail. The protocols, the software and the failovers are generally robust. They are well tested and widely used. There is usually redundancy built in and the costs of this redundancy is low.

When one relies on Microsoft for E-mails one can end up in prison and deported, as this recent case taught us. Microsoft’s E-mail infrastructure is ripe for surveillance abuses even by Microsoft itself. Blunders relating to lost mail often trace back to Microsoft and it’s too easy to see why. Any business that uses Microsoft for storing and relaying E-mail is settling for an office is almost as bad as Microsoft Office. It boggles the mind; why do people put such trash in offices? It’s a Trojan horse to communications. Most mail filtering and antivirus products are used specifically to tackle Microsoft issues (zombie PCs and Windows malware). Free software overcomes many of these complications and it is more efficient, economic, and robust.

“Free software overcomes many of these complications and it is more efficient, economic, and robust.”The other day offices that rely on Microsoft for mail came to a standstill. Any office that “relies heavily on Microsoft Outlook,” as the article put it, was unable to get anything done. “LOL,” wrote a reader of ours, “rely and Microsoft in the same sentence”.

This reader previously drew our attention to the way Microsoft’s broken mail software saved the Bush family from embarrassment (deleting evidence). Spot the pattern here. Here is another new report about Microsoft mail going down pretty badly and staying down for a whole business day. “In outages this week,” says the Microsoft-friendly site, “Microsoft’s online Exchange service was down for nine hours, crippling Office 365 and hosted Outlook accounts across North America and Mexico, just after its unified communications service also crashed.”

Microsoft’s hosted services can only be as reliable as the underlying software, which is simply not reliable. Why would anyone at all want to use hosted Microsoft services? Downtimes are just too frequent and we used to cover them regularly. Watch a Microsoft-affiliated site (Fool.com) thinking that Ubuntu users will give Microsoft their files for hosting. Only a fool would do that, or one whose goal is to have the files spied if not altogether lost.

Then subject of lost E-mail is very hot at the moment because of stories relating to the IRS and NSA, Microsoft’s special ally for well over a decade. Here is some of the latest:

During a hearing held yesterday by the House Oversight Committee, Committee Chairman Darrel Issa said that it was “unbelievable” that the IRS had lost the e-mails of former IRS official Lois Lerner. While Congressman Issa is not generally ignorant on tech issues, he’s clearly not familiar with just how believable such a screw-up is.

“A retention policy designed to ensure that mail is lost” is what our reader called it. Maybe they too used Microsoft, but it is hard to tell for sure. IRS recently signed a big Microsoft deal, so it is a Windows shop (we covered this at the time, only months ago).

The bottom line is, Microsoft’s E-mail infrastructure breeds abuse. It is easy to claim that some “computer crash” (read: Windows issues) made evidence of crime disappear and when one who is vulnerable uses Microsoft for mail it is clear that those in power will be able to retrieve a lot to be used against the individual. Proprietary software tends to work against its users and in favour of the software ‘masters’. E-mail is a great example of this.

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