Summary: The latest attack by proxy on free platforms comes from the patents proxy of several proprietary software vendors and software patents proponents
The attack on Android is not always visible; some patent trolls are equipped with ammunition whose purpose it to tax everything. This helps raise the price of products, harming in particular everything which was free and thus permissive in the distribution sense. Microsoft, more than any other company, has been fighting hard against Linux and GNU.
NAS vendors are drawn to Linux for its stability, security, and low cost. Linux rarely requires patching, is relatively immune to virus attacks, and can usually run in flash memory for even greater security. Lack of licensing fees is also a draw of course, although at least one NAS vendor — Buffalo — pays Microsoft via a patent covenant for the privilege of using Linux.
Pamela Jones responded with: “Microsoft is doing with patents what SCO tried but failed to do with copyrights, to Microsoft’s shame. So if you buy from them, this is the behavior you are enabling. And when you read about Microsoft “donating” to Open Source blah blah, remember what they are doing with patents, please.”
In the Seattle litigation between Microsoft and Motorola over how much Microsoft should pay for Motorola’s FRAND patents, the presiding judge, Hon. James L. Robart, asked the parties to file short letter briefs by March 1st on how to interpret one section of the Google-MPEG LA license agreement, and they have now done so. As you will see, things have changed since Motorola revealed the terms of the Google-MPEG LA license. The judge now has questions about the language, after the January 28th hearing.
Does it cover Motorola as an affiliate of Google? Are all affiliates covered? Or only those specified by a licensee? And is the royalty cap provision in one section a stand-alone provision? Is there, in other words, a cap on how much Microsoft has to pay?
His request is related to his decision to reopen the trial that ended in November, now that Motorola has presented new evidence that didn’t present at that trial. It didn’t have to, by the way. The trial was to be held in parts, and November was part one. Now that the new arguments are on the table in connection with the next phase about exactly what the rate should be, however, the judge sees a need to go back and take another look, and I think you’ll agree with him that what Motorola has presented changes the picture, and not in a way that favors Microsoft as much as before, which was trying for a low-ball figure. And that is now in question.
Google enters into licensing agreement with MPEG LA to protect the WebM video format
When the WebM project was announced back in 2010, one its selling points was that it was open and free of the licensing needs imposed by competitors like H.264. That may have been slightly overstated, however, as Google and MPEG LA have just entered into a licensing agreement covering the video codec at the heart of the format. The codec is known as VP8, and while no financial figures are disclosed the agreement covers various patents from 11 different parties. Google also gains the ability to sublicense those technologies out to VP8 users, clearing the way for the company to push adoption of VP8 — and by extension, WebM — with impunity. “This is a significant milestone in Google’s efforts to establish VP8 as a widely-deployed web video format,” said Allen Lo, Google’s deputy general counsel for patents.
Google has agreed to pay a licence fee to MPEG LA, LLC for techniques which they say may be essential to VP8 and earlier-generation VPx video compression technologies under patents owned by 11 patent holders.
This is a shame, but we don’t know what happened behind the scenes, possibly threats of massive litigation. The solution is to abolish software patents.
There are more comments filed with the FTC in response to its request for input on the proposed agreement in In the Matter of Motorola Mobility LLC, a limited liability company, and Google Inc., a corporation; FTC File No. 121 0120. As I mentioned earlier, not everyone is jumping on the currently fashionable bandwagon holding that if you donate a patent to a standards body, you give up all rights to injunctions. In fact, it’s easier to find opposition than support.
Summary: A look at some of the more disturbing patent news of the week and their effect on civil liberties
THE filing of patents often indicates what companies are planning to do. Red Hat’s Jan Wildeboer says that
Haliburton tries to patent trolling…
It has been a while since we lost wrote about Haliburton patents. It seems like this notoriously unethical company, known for its killing of many innocent people, is planning to become a patent troll. Haliburton is of course working closely with the military and the secret services.
There is something rather spooky going on with Microsoft getting many streams of video and audio around the world, with reports such as this coming through former Microsoft staff:
One U.S. researcher has deconstructed a constantly updated file in the China-only version of Skype that contains a list of more than 1,100 words used to censor and monitor its users.
Microsoft’s new Kinect patent goes Big Brother, will spy on you for the MPAA
Microsoft has filed for a Kinect-related patent, and it’s a doozy of an application. The abstract describes a camera-based system that would monitor the number of viewers in a room and check to see if the number of occupants exceeded a certain threshold set by the content provider. If there are too many warm bodies present, the device owner would be prompted to purchase a license for a greater number of viewers.
In other disturbing patent news, a “military industrial patent troll” is said to be going after Cisco, which is known for aiding Chinese censorship and surveillance:
Emboldened by a win against Apple that was upheld last February, VirnetX – inventor of key VPN technologies or a patent troll, depending on your point of view and understanding of its patents – has now taken up cudgels against Cisco.
In a hearing in front of a Federal jury over a complaint first filed in 2010, VirnetX has said that Cisco owes it $US258 million for selling VPN capabilities in practically any Cisco product.
The battle against Cisco began as part of a sue-everybody suit filed in 2010. Apple, one of the many defendants in the original complaint, was ordered to pay $US368.2 million last year, a decision upheld in February. Apple was found to have infringed US Patents 6,502,135, 7,418,504, 7,921,211 and 7,490,151.
Virnetx got money from Microsoft VirnetX [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15] after a high-profile trial. █
Summary: UEFI is gaining support from FreeBSD, where Microsoft’s control over it makes this an error
MICROSOFT-controlled UEFI is a real problem. It’s about control; not control by the user but remote control by corporations. UEFI in general has been embraced by Apple, which also closed BSD to make its proprietary operating system that mistreats the users for ‘their convenience’.
According to Rice, “UEFI support is critical for FreeBSD’s future on the amd64 platform and I’m really pleased to be able to ensure that FreeBSD gains support for it”. The Foundation expects the work to be completed in March 2013. Details of the work already done by Rice and what is still to be done is on the FreeBSD wiki’s UEFI page. Rice is also working on Secure Boot support for FreeBSD, but that project is still in its planning stages.
This is bad news. Ideally, complaints would have been filed against what Microsoft is doing. █
Summary: Percoco chooses to chastise Linux over security issues, even though upon pressure he admits that he is not aware of any particular issues
Recently we saw some remarkable GNU/Linux FUD coming from Trustwave [1, 2, 3], which is a Microsoft pal. Watch this new article which says: “eSecurity Planet met up with Nicholas Percoco, senior VP at Trustwave SpiderlLabs, during the RSA conference last week to discuss the state of PaaS security. Percoco specifically took aim at the Red Hat OpenShift PaaS in his demo, though he cautioned that OpenShift is not necessarily vulnerable.”
Why did he pick Red hat as his target? Sounds like deliberate FUD. The author is the article is a Linux proponent, so with the above interview he helped show what we consider to be selective criticism. Trustwave works with Microsoft, so it would not be smart for it to say negative things about Windows. THis is not a sole example of such FUD patterns. █
Summary: Rebuttal to Microsoft spin which can be found embedded in many articles about the EU fine; reason for the fine is breaking the law and failing to obey penalties, not an attempt to increase competition in the Web browsers market
The European Commission has fined Microsoft €561 million (£484 million/$732 million) for dropping the Browser Choice Screen in a Windows 7 update. This is the first time ever that the Commission has had to fine a company for non-compliance with an anti-trust commitment.
Well, a former Microsoft employee who keeps covering this saga with some Microsoft talking points embedded inside, does it yet again. Others who are soft on Microsoft say:
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, you know that open source browsers–especially Firefox and Google Chrome–have been leading browser innovation for a long time. That’s why it may seem unbelievable to some that Microsoft has just been hit with a whopping $731 million fine by European officials for allegedly not playing fair in the browser races. Microsoft agreed to terms with Europe on making browser choices available in Windows years ago….
In December 2009, the Commission made Microsoft commit to address competition concerns in the browser market by ensuring that for the next five years it would offer users a choice screen of browsers so that they could make an “informed and unbiased” selection for their web browser. In March 2010, the Browser Choice Screen went live in Windows and users who had Internet Explorer set as their default, and users performing new installs, were presented with it. Between March and November 2010, 84 million browsers were downloaded.
The EU Competition Commission, which levied a fine on Microsoft, had indicated long before the announcement what was in store, so “EU fines Microsoft” was expected. What we did not know was how much the fine was going to be.
Knowing Microsoft, you know that there was no glitch or technical error. It was just business as usual. In late 2012, Microsoft was notified by the EU Commission about the possibility of a fine, which based on agreement, could be as high as 10% of a year’s revenue. Based on Microsoft’s revenue in 2012, that could have been about $7.4bn USD. Instead, the commission settled for $731m USD, or 561m euros.
By the way, over here in our America, it’s still business as usual.
The main reason for writing this article is to highlight what effect, if any, Microsoft’s “technical error” has had on its Web browser’s market share in Europe and elsewhere. Did the “glitch” enable Internet Explorer to remain the dominant Web browser? And was it necessary to make Microsoft pay?
No, but this is irrelevant. As we explained repeatedly in prior years, this is punishment for crimes, not an attempt at corrective market intervention. Microsoft has PR talking points, and it is important to resist portraying the criminal as a victim. The victims here are many people/families who lost their jobs so that criminals high up in Microsoft can amass more billions of dollars (personal wealth) and plenty of power over the Internet, the broadest communications hub. █
Summary: Now that Microsoft controls Nokia and its patents portfolio there is more direct hostility towards Android, this time with action rather than just words and directly rather than through Microsoft/Nokia-armed trolls like MOSAID
Apple recently suffered a bit of a blow in the anti-Android litigation war, which a US judge too is eager to put constraints on. Android is growing very rapidly even in China; a vast place like Africa, where Nokia has long enjoyed some low-end devices domination, is now being penetrated by Android. Samsung Rex series is poised to take on Nokia in low-end segments according to this recent report, so we are hardly surprised to see Nokia joining Apple in the war against Samsung. Here is one article about it and another about Nokia, now led by one of Gates’ cronies (Gates is disappointed by Microsoft’s “mistake” and lack of innovation in mobile) making not a rational decision but an idealogical one, made by a mole who surrounded himself with more moles after he had infiltrated the company. Having, together with Microsoft’s involvement, armed patent trolls like MOSAID (we should boycott Nokia for this), Nokia is now showing yet more malice. To quote: “Nokia and Apple are competitors when it comes to moving hardware off the shelves, and the two companies even opposed each other in a patent trial in 2009 (ending in Apple settling with Nokia for an undisclosed sum). But Nokia has been vocal about supporting its patent rights recently, even discussing its decision to sell some of its intellectual property to patent-holding company Mosaid at the Federal Trade Commission in December.”
Apple vs. Samsung initially ended with a billion-dollar verdict in favor of Apple, but there have been plenty of wrinkles since. This week brought about another, as Nokia filed an amicus brief on behalf of Apple, Inc. in the US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. In the brief filed Monday, Nokia asked the court to permit permanent injunctions on the sale of Samsung phones that were found to infringe Apple’s patents.
Post-trial proceedings haven’t been as kind to Apple after the company was awarded $1.05 billion in damages in August. US District Judge Lucy Koh nearly halved those damages in a ruling on Friday, and in December she denied Apple a permanent injunction against Samsung which would have barred the sale of Samsung phones found to be infringing.
We have long argued that Nokia, Apple, and Microsoft are very much aligned against Android. They engage in patent-stacking. According to this new report, Microsoft seems to have pretty much taken over the whole of Nokia already:
Nokia announced that it expects to receive more in support payments from Microsoft this year than it pays the software company for licensing its Windows Phone operating system. Nokia provided more details on the terms of the long-term cooperation in its SEC filing on 2012 results. The Finnish company said the support payments, which amounted to USD 250 million per quarter last year, will “slightly exceed” the minimum software royalties it pays Microsoft in 2013.
The matter of fact is, Microsoft pretty much abducted Nokia without ever paying for a takeover. And there has been massive regulatory failure to spot and counter that. What we have now is a patent cartel determined to destroy Android. Everyone should be concerned about it because everyone loses from it, except perhaps managers of the cartel. █
As someone who started using Red Hat Linux back in 1997, and then worked for Red Hat for six years, helping to deploy and support Red Hat Enterprise Linux on thousands of high-end servers for Wall Street investment banks, I often get questions when students find out that one of my laptops runs Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, Canonical’s enterprise Linux distribution. Likewise, the fact that I run OpenSUSE on my server seems to raise questions about where my preferences lie in the Linux ecosystem.
If I’ve always been associated with Red Hat, why wouldn’t I just stick with their products? The answer that I give is that being familiar with a variety of distributions allows for greater flexibility.
I’m not a Google fangirl. I have Gmail accounts for personal and work use, and I spend some time in Google Docs and Calendar, but that’s about it. And until a few weeks ago, I had never even more than glanced at the Chrome OS or browser, let alone touched a Chromebook.
I have, however, read the vitriol aimed at Chromebooks by my tech press colleagues. The low-cost laptops that make up the majority of the Chromebook market have been dismissed as disposable toys. The new Chromebook Pixel, meanwhile, has attracted much greater interest—and even greater disdain, because it’s seen as an outrageously expensive disposable toy.
But is the Chromebook platform really such a bad idea?
We last reported on Dell’s Ubuntu-powered XPS-13 Developer Edition at the tail end of November 2012, when the laptop was released. Comments from the Ars community on the device were generally positive, though one overwhelming sentiment seemed to dominate: the XPS-13′s 1366×768 resolution was totally insufficient for the laptop’s intended audience and use case.
Often we try and remain very focused on our goals and work hard to avoid distractions. Keeping a very narrow vision on our target can help shepherd a product to completion on schedule, a goal very important both to project managers and the engineers tasked with the work. However, it can also become tunnel vision and lead to unnecessary work, delays, and failed deadlines and ultimately a weak product.
The more you understand about the Linux kernel as a whole, the better you can work on its individual components, including device drivers. Normally device drivers do not (and should not) explicitly address (much less modify or control) global kernel issues such as scheduling and memory management. However, a badly written driver can certainly sabotage a lot of good work done in these kernel arenas, disrupting performance, wasting memory, etc, and at the same time deliver weak fulfillment of its mandated device service.
Last year ARM Holdings published ARM KVM virtualization support. This support was for ARMv7 hardware using the ARM Cortex-A15 since it’s the first 32-bit ARM processor to support hardware virtualization. Ahead of the debut of any 64-bit ARM (AArch64) hardware, KVM has now been ported to ARM64.
Keith Packard tagged X.Org Server 1.14 in Git on Wednesday morning and issued this brief release announcement. Some of the changes in the past few weeks that landed as fixes since the earlier release candidate were fixes to the touch device, GPU hot-plugging bits, software rendering speed-ups due to taking advantage of new Pixman APIs, elimination of a lot of warning messages, and pointer barrier improvements.
With my recent focus on minimalism and efficiency in my work environment, it seemed like a good time to take a look at the state of command line music players. I’m glad I did, because the C* Music Player, also known as “cmus”, is fantastic. It’s small, scriptable, and has a great feature set; perfect for the hacker looking for some background music.
I recently moved our clients off of dyn.com to ChangeIP.com for their “free” dynamic DNS needs. These are clients for whom my micro-business provides monthly remote service over TCP/IP with ssh and VNC connections. I have dozens of scripts on our support system here that had the old dyn.com domains in them for connection to the client sites when providing service each month. As I was loathe to hand edit each of these dozens of scripts I created yet another script to interactively change the string in each client’s files from the old “free” domain to the new “free” ChangeIP.com domain. There are hundreds of other scripts out on the Internet to perform a similar task. But none I looked at did exactly what I wanted, so I made my own.
Counter-Strike started as a user modification to Half-Life. Players are split up into two teams, counter-terrorist and terrorist, to compete in objective-based matches. Counter-terrorists must rescue hostages from the terrorists, or prevent terrorists from planting a bomb on a target. With each round, players earn money to purchase weapons, body armor and other equipment.
We’ve been looking for Valve to release their proper Linux-based Steam Box before the end of the year and the BBC is now reporting that they will “offer prototypes of its upcoming video games console for testing within four months time.”
Continuing its adventures into Linux, Valve has released a penguin-friendly edition of another of its games, bringing the total to five. Could it be Left 4 Dead? Portal 2? HL2: Episode Two? Gosh, even Episode 3? Er, no, it’s Counter-Strike: Condition Zero. Still, that’s nice, isn’t it?
Condition Zero added single-player to the CS world, facing off against snazzy bots. The development was a bit of a mess, started with Rogue Entertainment in 2000 then going to Gearbox, passed to Ritual Entertainment, and finally finished and released by Turtle Rock Studios in 2004. Yes, the gang who went on to create Left 4 Dead. The end result was a so-so mish-mash of scrapped, restarted, reworked and remade content, but shooting men is generally fun.
Torment: Tides of Numenera can be seen as the follow-up of the legendary Planescape: Torment (which I started a week ago in Wine again), it’s developed by inXile who are also working on their Wasteland 2 kickstarter.
In its latest sales campaign, the HumbleBundle team has released four commercial games for Android, Linux, Mac OS X and Windows. As before, prospective buyers can choose their own price for the DRM-free game package. Buyers who pay more than the average price for the “Humble Bundle with Android 5″ will receive two extra games. The current average price is $6.64. All games are DRM free, but there are no plans for any of the titles to be open sourced in this round of Humble Bundle.
More and more developers and long-time Ubuntu members are getting disappointed with the Canonical leadership and breaking their association with what they call the Canonical community. Martin Owens, popularly known as DoctorMo, is one such developer.
There is special place for Ownes in my life as he directly affected me. He used to maintain the tablet pen drivers for Ubuntu. I have one such device and I was able to use it under Ubuntu because of the work he had done on it. I wrote about it extensively.
Redo and Undo are basic functions in almost every word processor. It is essential to be able to revisit your last actions, because human actions are error-prone. Simply using a function to go back and forth between actions is saving a lot of time and energy. The Tango and Oxygen icon sets use arrows pointing left or right. They are additionally colored yellow (Undo) and green (Redo). But these icons tend to get mixed up, as our Icon Test shows.
Over one hundred bug fixes and translation updates are in the first of the monthly stabilisation updates to KDE 4.10, KDE 4.10.1. The announcement notes bugs fixed in the Kontact PIM and KWin compositing window manager components of the KDE 4.10 desktop environment, which was released a month ago.
On the 23rd of February, a crowd of about 330 enthusiastic people gathered to be a part of the first major open source event in the State of Gujarat, India. Some people traveled hundreds of kilometers to attend, coming from places such as Delhi, Durgapur (more than 1800 km), Nainital, Bardoli and Mumbai. Students from Dhirubhai Ambani Institute of Information and Communication Technology (DA-IICT) in Gandhinagar organized the event—KDE Meetup 2013. It was an opportunity for passionate students to take their first steps towards becoming true software developers. The two day event was filled with talks on the latest KDE developments, sessions on how to start contributing, coding sessions, hands-on workshops, and a whole lot more, along with a big serving of the magic ingredient – fun!
I’ve been asked by a few people now to outline my plans for improving software installation in GNOME. I’ve started to prototype a new app called ‘GNOME Software’. It exists in gnome git and currently uses PackageKit to manage packages. It’s alpha quality, but basically matches the mockups done by the awesome guys in #gnome-design. It’s designed to be an application management application. GNOME PackageKit lives on for people that know what a package is and want a pointy-clicky GUI, so I’m not interested in showing low level details for power users.
Of course, packages are so 2012. It’s 2013, and people want to play with redistributable things like listaller and glick2 static blobs. People want to play with updating an OS image like ostree and that’s all awesome. Packages are pretty useful in some situations, but we don’t want to limit ourselves to being just another package installer. From a end-user point of view, packages are just an implementation detail.
Rob Clark shared yesterday that his reverse-engineered ARM Qualcomm graphics driver is successfully handling the GNOME Shell with the Mutter compositing window manager. In a time when the ARM Linux graphics space is rather closed-up and many of the ARM reverse-engineering graphics projects don’t actually have any code to show for it or any working end-user driver but just code demos, this is really great to see.
Launchpad asked me if I wanted to continue to be an Ubuntu member. I thought about it, and have decided that I don’t. The one thing I’ll miss is being able to post to Planet Ubuntu. But I have to be honest, there isn’t an Ubuntu community any more. There’s a Canonical community, an ubuntu-users gaggle and maybe an enthusiasts posse. But no community that makes decisions, builds a consensus, advocates or educates. It’s dead now, it’s been that way for a while.
After several months without posting, Mark Shuttleworth has returned to his official blog with some harsh words for those in the Ubuntu community who have been critical of Canonical’s recent efforts to transform the OS into a multi-faceted platform for mobile devices and the cloud.
There has been a lot of talk lately about people leaving the Ubuntu Community and people disappointed with the direction Canonical is taking with the Ubuntu Community. Mainly how announcements are being handed down with little or no comments from community contributors.
When you buy a Raspberry Pi, the $35 computer doesn’t come with an operating system. Loading your operating system of choice onto an SD card and then booting the Pi turns out to be pretty easy. But where do Pi-compatible operating systems come from?
With the Raspberry Pi having just turned one year old, we decided to find out how Raspbian—the officially recommended Pi operating system—came into being. The project required 60-hour work weeks, a home-built cluster of ARM computers, and the rebuilding of 19,000 Linux software packages. And it was all accomplished by two volunteers.
The Raspberry Pi Foundation has announced the launch of a blue, one year anniversary edition of the low-cost, credit-card-sized single-board computer. The Foundation is celebrating the first anniversary of the launch of Raspberry Pi with the unveiling of a special limited edition of the Linux-based pocket computer.
Is Android the new embedded Linux? Of course not, said Karim Yaghmour, OperSys founder, during the panel discussion on this topic at the Android Builders Summit last month in San Francisco. It was a question meant to spur discussion, he said, that’s all.
It worked. The idea ignited a lively debate among embedded Linux pros with three of the four panelists ultimately siding with Yaghmour. What seemed to be their litmus test? If Android can conceivably be used in “classic” embedded projects, it is embedded Linux.
Recantha, a known developer in the Raspberry Pi community, has managed to use the mini PC in an entirely unique way. He himself built a working tricorder, inspired by the devices in Start Trek.
He used some sensors, two for temperature and one each for magnetism and distance, a simple LCD display, switches, a light-resistant resistor, a thermistor and an Arduino Leonardo clone. All of these were enclosed in a Lego case. A camera might be added later.
Systech recently demonstrated the first model in a new series of Linux-powered M2M (machine-to-machine) intelligent gateways at the Distributech smart grid conference in San Diego. The highly modular SysLink M2M Gateway series enables access to a wide variety of sensors and devices for monitoring and control purposes.
Android and iOS have existed in tension for a few years now, and each is continually borrowing ideas, designs, and features from the other. Nothing wrong with a little friendly theft when trying to stay competitive.
At some point in the early 2000s, I got my wife a Nokia phone with a keyboard, so we could text each other. It was a great little phone, not hard to use or understand, but she texted me only once with it, to send the word “no”. Then, in late 2007, not long after the iPhone came out, she told me she wanted one. Why? “Because I can work with it.” So we got her one, and she worked it like a chef with a collection of Wüsthofs. A few months later, I got an iPhone 3G. She immediately schooled me on how to use the thing, and she still knows more about texting and other essential iPhone apps than I do. After the iPhone 4 came out in mid-2010, we traded up to those, and that’s where we’ll stay until our AT&T contract runs out. The plan after that is to replace them with Androids.
Android was everywhere at Mobile World Congress last week – there seems to be no stopping Google’s mobile operating system that’s now almost as ubiquitous as a colour display. But the success hides the platform’s problems, insists one analyst.
Former Nomura analyst Richard Windsor paints a picture of increasing fragmentation creating a clear dividing line down the middle – with one half of the split populated by shoddy low-end devices that look good but “barely work”.
He also called on the British Government to make public the interim report of the Gibson Inquiry, which seeks to look into allegations that the UK intelligence services were complicit in the torture of detainees and rendition flights, and establish a timetable for the proposed judge-led inquiry, stating its mandate and powers.
In March 1933, Germans voted for a new parliament – their last free election before all but the Nazi party was banned. Such extraordinary measures of terror preceded the election that there was little “free” about it.
In February 1933, Germany found itself in the midst of a parliamentary election campaign. By the time voters went to the ballots one month later, on March 5, 1933, one single issue was on their minds.
The burning of the Reichstag, home to the parliament, was alleged to have been carried out by communists in an attempted coup. Chancellor Adolf Hitler and other National Socialist leaders latched on to the “coup attempt” in order to stoke fears of a communist revolution amongst the German populace. Thereafter, Hitler and his allies unleashed an unprecedented wave of terror throughout the country.
We’ve previously reported on the NASA project to base a new generation of small, cheap, spacecraft around Android phones, dubbed PhoneSat. While PhoneSat is still on track to launch in April, the British have beaten their American counterparts to the punch with the Surrey Training, Research, and Nanosatellite Demonstrator (STRaND-1) satellite, currently orbiting the Earth.
Devops represents a dramatic change from the old siloed developers and script-heavy system administrators of yesterday. Any tools that can provide some common ground for developers and IT operations professionals can help, and it seems Chef and Puppet often do.
Self-promotion in an open source world, it starts with a shameless plug—a simple way to make people aware of something you’re passionate about. Then, over time, you get more comfortable with using the shameless plug and that desire to make people aware transforms into purposeful marketing. At some time or another when working on an open source project, you’re bound to have to promote it. Self-promotion can be an uncomfortable topic for some people, but I’ve found word of mouth is the best way to promote open source.
The new design will likely arrive in the Nightly Channel in the next few days, but if you’d like to test it today, you can download the Firefox UX branch. Retina MacBook Pro users should note that, thus far, the new curvy tabs don’t support high-DPI screens.
Though Android and iOS are currently ruling the roost as far as mobile operating systems are concerned, new players are emerging and disappearing each month in a feeble attempt to overthrow the giants. Being a third wheel to these top contenders is Microsoft’s own Windows Phone OS with an elegantly designed Metro interface. Such is the strength of iOS and Android though some people say that Windows Phone OS is better than Android feature-wise and performance-wise. That said, the market share that this new OS garnered leaves a lot to be desired and serves as a testimony to the fact that both Google and Apple are behemoths of the mobile world.
Of the non-relational datastore technologies created in the past several years, none has been more successful or seen greater acceptance than Hadoop. Popular with startups, enterprise vendors and customers alike, Hadoop improved substantially the processing time associated with certain workloads. One early example, which came from a user of the technology as opposed to a vendor selling it, asserted that a customer profiling query which processed over a period of weeks in a traditional data warehouse executed in around thirteen minutes on a (sizable) Hadoop cluster. This type of performance guarantees relevance, even within the most conservative organizations.
IBM has disclosed plans to make all of its cloud services and software based on an open cloud architecture.
“This move will ensure that innovation in cloud computing is not hampered by locking businesses into proprietary islands of insecure and difficult-to-manage offerings. Without industry-wide open standards for cloud computing, businesses will not be able to fully take advantage of the opportunities associated with interconnected data, such as mobile computing and business analytics,” the company said.
The world of cloud based platform-as-a-service (PaaS) is about accelerating time to market for applications. With a PaaS, organizations can get up and running the cloud quickly, but one security researcher is warning that there may be an element of risk with that speed as well.
eSecurity Planet met up with Nicholas Percoco, senior VP at Trustwave SpiderlLabs, during the RSA conference last week to discuss the state of PaaS security. Percoco specifically took aim at the Red Hat OpenShift PaaS in his demo, though he cautioned that OpenShift is not necessarily vulnerable.
Today The Document Foundation announced an update to the milestone LibreOffice 4.0 released just one month ago. In that time, quite a large number of annoying bugs have been squashed. This update is recommended for all running 4.0.
Actually, the Navigator implemented in LibreOffice doesn’t provide some kind of help function as it might be understood by new users, but it shows or hides a side bar, where you can quickly jump to different parts of the document. The icon consists of an abstract star or, metaphorically, a compass rose.
Digium – which promotes Asterisk (the open source IP PBX) — has finally launched a cloud-based PBX service, aptly called Switchvox Cloud. No doubt, there’s demand for hosted voice services. And Digium partners can resell the new cloud service, which is based on Digium’s Switchvox brand. But how exactly will partner engagements work, and can partners earn recurring revenues? Bryan Johns (pictured), a product manager at Digium, offered some insights to The VAR Guy.
The Latvian Open Technology Association is calling on the Ministry of Economy to make open standards and open technologies one of the core themes of the ministry’s business education efforts. The group published a statement on Wednesday, pleading for a continuation of funding of ICT training for Latvian companies. The ministry earlier this week announced a four-fold reduction in the budget for such trainings.
The Justice Department never intended for Internet activist Aaron Swartz to go to jail “for longer than a three, four, potentially five-month range,” Attorney General Eric Holder told the Senate Judiciary Committee during an oversight hearing on Wednesday.
Calling Swartz’s January suicide “a tragedy,” Holder defended the Justice Department’s handling of the case, stating that looking at Swartz’s conduct and fashioning a potential sentence based on that conduct was “a good use of prosecutorial discretion.”
SourceForge is pleased to announce our new Enterprise Directory – a sub-section of our site focused specifically on Enterprise projects. These are the projects that are geared specifically for use within a company. This might include areas such as project management, office suites, or customer relationship management (CRM) software. Often, software in this category is backed by a company, but this isn’t always the case, nor is it a requirement for inclusion in the directory.
Earlier this year, following an investigation into 38 Chadian children harmed by a meningitis vaccination campaign done wrong, questions were raised about the Gates Foundation and Chad’s Ministry of Health that were, at that time, not answered.
A trove of recently declassified documents leads to several inescapable conclusions about the FBI’s role in protecting both proven and alleged Nazi war criminals in America. First, there can be no doubt that J. Edgar Hoover collected Nazis and Nazi collaborators like pennies from heaven. Unlike the military and its highly structured Operation Paperclip — with its specific targets, systematic falsification of visa applications, and creation of bogus biographies — Hoover had no organized program to find, vet, and recruit alleged Nazis and Nazi collaborators as confidential sources, informants, and unofficial spies in émigré communities around the country. America’s No. 1 crime buster was guided only by opportunism and moral indifference.
AS MALIK Daud Khan rose with the glaring sun on a Pakistani spring morning two years ago, he was blissfully ignorant that this would be the last day his son had a father.
As well as being a British citizen, Khan was a pillar of his North Waziristan community. On March 17 2011, he was living up to this role, presiding over a community meeting trying to settle a mining dispute. Both the young and the old from the village had come to meet, with a child as well as police officials among the scores assembled.
Senators voted by 12 votes to three to approve Brennan, putting him on track to be President Barack Obama’s third confirmed national security nominee, after Secretary of State John Kerry and Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel.
A full Senate vote on Brennan’s confirmation is expected this week.
“No one is better prepared to be CIA director than Mr Brennan,” committee chair Senator Dianne Feinstein said in a statement announcing the vote.
In February, he was arrested by Turkish authorities in Ankara. However, Turkey was unable to extradite him to the United States because no international warrant for his arrest had been issued, the newspaper said.
The big story buried in all the commentary about the US government’s drone policy is that the old algorithm of the liberal state no longer works. Focusing on drones is almost a distraction, if it weren’t for the number of men, women and children they have killed in only a few years. What we should focus on is the deeper condition that enables the drone policy, and so much more, and that is the sharp increase in unaccountable executive power, no matter what party is in power.
Yesterday, I spent some time defending Holder from what I believed to be false claims as to what he was asserting in his letter to Rand Paul. Today, there is no defense—Holder is wrong in what he said today. Egregiously wrong. And his testimony “can only breed fear and suspicion.”
The federal government is pushing back against reports that it has drones specifically designed to track firearms and cellphone signals, the latest clash of an increasingly paranoid public and an administration trying to keep its unmanned aerial systems program under wraps.
Citing U.S. Customs and Border Protection documents obtained via a Freedom of Information Act request, numerous media outlets have reported over the past 48 hours that the federal government was in possession of unmanned aerial vehicles capable of detecting guns and of tracking citizens via their cellphone signals.
While the federal government had yesterday off, Congress came to life after its long slumber through all things terrorism. In a Senate Judiciary Committee oversight hearing for the Justice Department and an historical filibuster over the nomination of John Brennan to head the CIA, a lot of the controversy discussed dealt with drones–a conversation that desperately needed to be had, and must continue with equal vigor. However, the real elephant in the room is the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), which has been used to justify all manner of civil liberty-infringing, extralegal and often unconstitutional conduct and programs since 9/11.
The proposal was a non-binding resolution opposing the President’s ability to kill Americans in drone strikes on US soil. Simple enough, you might think. Who could oppose that?
The Democrats, that’s who.
Senator Dick Durbin, speaking for the majority, rose to say he objects to Paul’s non-binding resolution. He objects to a unanimous statement from the Senate that the President cannot drop bombs on Americans on US soil. Durbin said he doesn’t want to make such a vote until we’ve had proper and thorough congressional hearings on all the issues Senator Paul has brought up today.
Much of the motivation for standing on the Senate floor for the past hours has to do with the fact that Attorney General Eric Holder has declined to say outright that targeting and killing a US citizen suspected of plotting a terrorist attack on US soil, who did not pose an imminent threat, would be illegal. Paul submitted three letters and finally on March 5 Holder gave him an answer. However, it did not rule out the use of drone strikes and say this would be unconstitutional.
Dick Cheney has spent his career not revealing himself, and in his new memoir and the ensuing PR blitz, he appears to be staying largely in character.
But as the former vice president uses media interviews to sell books, reporters have an unprecedented opportunity to confront him about his highly controversial legacy and push him to divulge more about how he pursued his agenda.
In the last few weeks, the Administration has been pushing hard to show how sequestration has produced dire consequences even though it involved only $85 billion (including the implausible claim that thousands of illegal aliens had to be released due to the cuts). For some of us who have complained about the Administration giving billions to Israel and other countries, it was a hard sell even if you do not agree with sequestration. Now a report has come out showing, as has been discussed for years on this blog and other sites, most of the $60 billion given to Iraq in the last ten years was wasted or lost to open corruption. The long documented waste of billions did not cause either the Bush or Obama Administration (or Congress) to take meaningful steps to stop the funding or, better yet, pull out of the country.
We don’t get it. We really don’t. We may not, in military terms, know how to win any more, but as a society we don’t get losing either. We don’t recognize it, even when it’s staring us in the face, when nothing — and I mean nothing — works out as planned. Take the upcoming 10th anniversary of George W. Bush’s invasion of Iraq as Exhibit A. You could describe what happened in that country as an unmitigated disaster — from the moment, in April 2003, U.S. troops first entered a Baghdad in flames and being looted (“stuff happens”) and were assigned to guard only the Interior Ministry (i.e. the secret police) and the Oil Ministry (well, you know what that is) to the moment in December 2011 when the last American combat unit slipped out of that land in the dead of the night (after lying to Iraqi colleagues about what they were doing).
Leading Nazi Hermann Göring was instrumental to Hitler’s reign of terror, but research suggests his brother Albert saved the lives of dozens of Jews. Israel must now decide whether he deserves to be honored as one of the “Righteous Among the Nations.”
WikiLeaks is set to receive major new financial support this week from a new group that funds independent journalism organizations dedicated to transparency and accountability in government. This comes as MasterCard, Visa and PayPal continue to refuse to process payments for WikiLeaks, making it difficult to send donations. “We don’t need just one WikiLeaks; we need 10 WikiLeaks or a hundred. We have a situation in this country where government secrecy is at an all-time high,” says Freedom of the Press Foundation co-founder and executive director Trevor Timm. We are also joined by Guardian columnist Glenn Greenwald, who is a member of the foundation’s board. [includes rush transcript]
Chávez grew up a campesino, a peasant, raised in poverty. His parents were teachers, his grandmother an Indian whom he credits with teaching him solidarity with the people. During his military service, he learned about Simon Bolivar, who freed Latin America from Spanish Empire. This gradually led to the modern Bolivarian Revolution he led with the people. The Chávez transformation was built on many years of a mass political movement that continued after his election, indeed saved him when a 2002 coup briefly removed him from office. The reality is Venezuela’s 21st Century democracy is bigger than Chávez. This will become more evident now that he is gone.
In January 2011, the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission (FCIC) created by Congress put out its final report. But it only released a portion of all the source documents it scoured, so last year the government accountability group Cause of Action filed a lawsuit seeking the release of those documents, including emails, memoranda, and draft reports. Last week, the DC district court announced it was dismissing the case. But it’s not over yet: COA vowed on Tuesday that it will appeal the decision. In a statement, the group said the judge’s ruling that the documents were not subject to the Freedom of Information Act was “a misapplication of the law,” and said that “COA will continue to fight to shed light on the workings of our government.”
While it is widely assumed that the too-big-to-fail banks in the US (and elsewhere) are beyond the criminal justice system – based on simple empirical fact – when the Attorney General of the United States openly admits to the fact that he is “concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them,” since, “it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy,” one has to stare open-mouthed at the state of our union. It appears, just as the proletariat assumed, that too-big-to-fail banks are indeed too-big-to-jail.
That’s right: Chavez squandered his nation’s oil money on healthcare, education and nutrition when he could have been building the world’s tallest building or his own branch of the Louvre. What kind of monster has priorities like that?
A particularly sickening trick from the BBC a few weeks back raised my blood pressure whilst in hospital and almost finished me off. A French Euro MP was asked for “the French view” on Scottish independence. She said that France would oppose it and the French government takes the view that an independent Scotland would be outside the European Union. I was absolutely astonished that the BBC had managed to find the only French person in the entire world who is against Scottish independence, and that she was telling an outright lie about the position of the French government.
Then I realised who she was – the former research assistant (and rather more) of New Labour minister and criminal invoice forger Denis Macshane. She worked for years in the UK parliament for New Labour, in a Monica Lewinsky kind of way. All of which the BBC hid, presenting her simply as a French Euro MP. There are seventy million French people. How remarkable that the one the BBC chose to give the French view of Scottish independence was a New Labour hack!
New Delhi: The Government plans to take possession of the server and other infrastructure placed by BlackBerry in Mumbai to test the solution offered by the smartphone maker for legal interception of Internet communication.
The FBI used National Security Letters — a form of surveillance that privacy watchdogs call “frightening and invasive” — to surreptitiously seek information on Google users, the web giant has just revealed.
Open Rights Group is asking organisations and individuals to ask the Home Office for a consultation on communications data and the Communications Data Bill. This briefing lays out some background to the Communications Data Bill and why a new consultation is needed.
On February 21, 2013, I conducted a brief, impromptu, interview with Monty E. Moss #5598 of the Seattle Police Department about security technology, policies, and procedures for the set of surveillance cameras the department recently began installing on Alki Beach in Seattle. Of particular interest are Moss’ belief that it is important to keep secret the details about this system, such as the make and model of the equipment used, and that the SPD have been given direct access to various privately-owned and privately-operated surveillance cameras throughout the city.
Citing week-old Supreme Court precedent, the President Barack Obama administration told a federal judge Wednesday that it should quash a federal lawsuit accusing the government of secretly siphoning Americans’ electronic communications to the National Security Agency without warrants.
The San Francisco federal court legal filing was in response to U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White’s written question (.pdf) to the government asking what to make of the high court’s Feb. 26 decision halting a legal challenge to a once-secret warrantless surveillance project that gobbles up Americans’ electronic communications — a program that Congress eventually legalized in 2008 and again in 2012.
Last summer, we took a look at how Google plans to see through your eyes (literally). This has a lot to do with Google Glass, but that’s not the only piece of the puzzle.
Do you like the direction Google is going in? Is it getting too up close and personal, or is it taking the necessary steps to make users’ lives easier? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Citing week-old Supreme Court precedent, the President Barack Obama administration told a federal judge Wednesday that it should quash a federal lawsuit accusing the government of secretly siphoning Americans’ electronic communications to the National Security Agency without warrants.
The justices ruled the plaintiffs submitted no evidence they were being targeted by that law.
A couple weeks ago you may recall that I wrote about my efforts to draft legislation relating to the City use of surveillance cameras.
Passed today by the Public Safety, Civil Rights, and Technology Committee, Council Bill 117730 will require all City departments to obtain Council approval prior to acquiring surveillance equipment of any type. The respective department must also proactively conduct outreach in each community in which the department intends to use the equipment. In addition, the legislation requires that operational protocols will be developed and passed by ordinance. Separately, data management and retention protocols are required to be developed and presented to the City Council, but approval of that set of separate protocols by ordinance will be optional.
In 1989, when the internet was predominantly ASCII-based and HyperCard had yet to give birth (or at least act as a midwife) to the world wide web, R.U. Sirius launched Mondo 2000. “I’d say it was arguably the representative underground magazine of its pre-web day,” William Gibson said in a recent interview. “Posterity, looking at this, should also consider Mondo 2000 as a focus of something that was happening.”
The Joint Committee on the Communications Data Bill instructed the Home Office to run a consultation on communications data. They’ve failed to do so. We need your help to tell the Home Office why we need a consultation.
Good article on “Stingrays,” which the FBI uses to monitor cell phone data. Basically, they trick the phone into joining a fake network. And, since cell phones inherently trust the network — as opposed to computers which inherently do not trust the Internet — it’s easy to track people and collect data. There are lots of questions about whether or not it is illegal for the FBI to do this without a warrant. We know that the FBI has been doing this for almost twenty years, and that they know that they’re on shaky legal ground.
The anti-NDAA bill: Senate Bill 400, one prong of efforts nationwide geared against the federal National Defense Authorization Act, passed the Indiana Senate 31-17 last month and now goes to the Indiana House for consideration.
There were some 42,500 camps set up during the Nazi era – seven times more than had been thought, according to a recent study. Such numbers, researchers say, make it absurd to claim that ‘nobody knew what was going on.’
The scale of the Nazis’ attempt to eradicate Europe’s Jewish population could far exceed what historians have long believed to be the case, according to a group of academics from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC. As part of a 13-year project to catalogue the sites of Nazi atrocities and build a comprehensive map of the Holocaust, researchers have found evidence of 42,500 Nazi “killing centers”, ghettos, forced labor camps and other sites of persecution and murder.
Members of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) in the Georgia Legislature are pushing a bill to thwart locally-owned internet in underserved communities, an industry-sponsored effort that effectively reinforces the digital divide. A vote in the Georgia Assembly is scheduled for Thursday, March 7; if Georgia passes the bill it would be the twentieth state to eliminate community control over internet access.
As we wait patiently for the Supreme Court to decide the Kirtsaeng case, concerning whether or not you can resell goods that were made outside the US but that can be covered by copyright inside the US, the folks at Demand Progress have put together a nice two and a half minute video highlighting the possible consequences of a ruling that goes against first sale rights and limits your ability to freely sell items you legally purchased.
It is a blessing upon this nation that Woody Guthrie’s voice, the relentless voice of the poor and the powerless, is heard anew this winter in the form of a powerful book, a newly-discovered novel titled House of Earth. Edited and with an extensive introduction by Douglas Brinkley and Johnny Depp, Guthrie’s book, written in 1947, searingly portrays the joy and sorrow of a poor farming couple living through the Dust Bowl during the Depression. And when I read it last week it naturally made me think immediately of the United States Supreme Court.
The 52 page bill requires careful scrutiny, but the NDP is right for drawing attention to the elephant in the room. ACTA has been rejected in Europe and stands as a discredited agreement. Despite that, Bill C-56 is fundamentally a bill designed to allow Canada to implement ACTA.
The Dutch antipiracy group BREIN seeks to increase its daily amount of notice and takedown-requests (NTD-requests) in order to remove copyright-infringing search results. In practice, most notices are directed to Google. At this moment, BREIN submits some 5.000 NTD-requests per day, mostly containing search results that refer to infringing content on filesharing-websites such as isohunt.com and torrentz.eu.
Currently, Google maintains a limit of 10.000 NTD-requests that can be processed per day. However, copyright advocates at BREIN expect Google to increase this limit to 40.000 NTD-requests per day. Ultimately, BREIN is planning to submit an unlimited stream of take down notices daily.
I’m writing the week’s Editor’s Corner from Berlin in Germany, and one thing I noticed when I got here is that I can’t access any shows on Neflix, Hulu Plus or Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN) Streaming Video here in Germany–and frankly I’m a bit miffed about it because I believe I should be able to get the content I pay for anytime, anywhere, on any device.
A group of technology heavyweights including YCombinator, Reddit, the Electronic Frontier Foundation, Internet advocacy group Fight For the Future and others have launched a new campaign called Fight for the Future. The roots of the campaign go back to a January petition on Whitehouse.gov calling for the U.S. government to make it legal to unlock cell phones. The petition arrived after The Librarian of Congress decided in October 2012 that unlocking of cell phones would be removed from the list of exceptions to the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA). At FixtheDMCA.org, you can find out much more about the new campaign.
Failing to see how patents themselves actually distort the market for everyone (not just some large corporations), Obama wants to wash his hands with legislation that will resolve nothing and legitimise the notoriously unsupervised patent regime
How a "successful" (as in profitable) criminal bought the press, rebuilt his public image, and is now on a crusade to make a lot more money while the press misinforms the public, saying he distributes (gives away) his ill-gotten money
How Bill Gates' monopolistic business model is expanding to the public sector, i.e. the sector which taxpayers are funding in the interest of taxpayers (Gates does not pay tax because the money gets laundered as "charity")