Links 18/1/2010: Puppy Arcade 5, Preview of KDE 4.4

Posted in News Roundup at 8:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Misa Digital Guitar replaces strings with touchscreen

    The software is Linux-based and open source.

  • Misa Digital Guitar removes the strings, inserts a touchscreen

    The open-source software is Linux-powered, and programmers have the ability to alter the interface for specific functionalities.

  • Dark Clouds – and a Silver Lining – on the Hiring Front

    The Linux job market is one of the few bright lights in an otherwise dreary IT job landscape.

  • X-Rite Announces New Linux and Mac SDK for Hubble Non-contact, Laser-Guided Colorimeter

    X-Rite, Incorporated (NASDAQ: XRIT), the world leader in color management, measurement and communication technologies, today announced that it has developed a new software development toolkit (SDK) for its Hubble non-contact laser-guided colorimeter.

  • Graphical

  • 2009

    There are reports coming in that 2009 was a turn-around year for the PC with 90 million shipping in the 4th quarter. Acer surpassed Dell globally in units shipped. Netbooks are still climbing with huge share in China, particularly. “7″ did not drive sales… That means a lot of GNU/Linux system were released upon the world. It was the Year of GNU/Linux on the desktop.

  • LCA 2010

    • LCA2010 gets off the starting blocks

      Wellington sported a grey visage this morning, a time of day when geeks are normally sleeping off the effects of late-night hacking sessions and the excessive intake of coffee.

    • LCA 2010: Wanna kill a FOSS community?

      Berkus’ talk, at the “Business in Open Source” mini-conference this morning, was titled “Ten ways to destroy your community” and described in detail how a proprietary company could go about killing an open source community which it had acquired.

    • Linux.conf.au – Day One

      January brings with it the southern-hemisphere’s summer and Linux.conf.au. This year, the conference is being held in Wellington, New Zealand thanks to the hard work and dedication of the Capital Cabal, a team of volunteer organisers lead by Susanne and Andrew Ruthven.

    • linux.conf.au 2010: Day 1 (morning)

      The theme for my morning, on the first day of the conference, was version control. The conference day was divided into mini-confs covering different topic areas, but this was a common theme of the sessions I attended in different mini-confs.

    • Rich and varied fare for open-source conference

      Also attending the conference with his latest “RepRap” open source 3D printer is Vik Olliver, one of two Kiwis on the eight-person international project.

      At the more familiar ICT core of open source, Linux, Jonathan Courbet will give an update on recent developments in the Linux kernel and Ted Tso will talk about the filing system associated with Linux in its current version, ext4.

    • Windows Media streams at LCA: Pfeiffer to the rescue

      Pfeiffer, who organised the Foundations of Open Media Software workshop in Wellington in the week before the conference, got the assistance of a few people from the group and arranged for transcoding of the video from a proprietary format to the open Ogg Theora/Vorbis format.

    • Hundreds flock to open source software conference

      Around 40% of delegates are from Wellington and other parts of New Zealand, 40% are from Australia with the remaining coming from various countries around the world.

      Open Source Society president Don Christie said a variety of topics would be discussed at the conference with a focus on technical development and raising the profile of open source software.

  • Desktop

    • Interview: Chrome OS Zero’s Hexxeh

      From Chrome OS Diet to Cherry and now the latest, Zero, Hexxeh has been the primary source for Chrome OS build releases ever since Google released the Chromium code to the masses in November. They’ve been popular mostly because they work with a lot of existing hardware, plus the builds are small enough to fit on any USB drive. We got a chance to ask some questions of Hexxeh, who just released Chrome OS Zero a few days ago and talks about how he got started, future job prospects and some technical features in his latest version.

    • Chrome OS Online Workflows: Photos

      Most photography related workflows have already gone digital, and for most people, the internet is already the best medium for sharing their work.

      If you take even a small number of photographs, you are sure to find sending them via email a rather unpleasant way of sharing. If you are into photography, odds are you already use a service such as Picasa Web Albums of Flickr for storing your images.

    • Things to know before Replacing Windows by Linux

      There is no registry in Linux

      In windows there is the registry, the registry is a database which keeps all your settings. If you want to change anything not in a menu (or in a menu) you need to use the regedit program Or a script.

      In Linux there is no such thing as a registry.
      In Linux everything is a file

      All configurations are in text files, and everything in Linux is treated as a file. This is a much simpler approach which makes it very easy to change things in Linux. In Linux even your filesystem itself can be viewed as a file.

  • Server

    • Amahi 5.1

      Only one month after the 5.0 release, Amahi 5.1 is already released. Amahi Linux Home Server is a server targeted for home and home office environments.

    • CSIRO seeking Linux cluster for SKA high performance computer

      CSIRO will spend up to $5 million on a Linux-based high performance computing system to help boost research efforts at the Pawsey Centre for SKA Science in Perth.

      The Pawsey High Performance Computer (HPC) will be used in the Square Kilometre Array (SKA) project, which will use a telescope 50 times more sensitive than current instruments and about 3600 antennae spread over thousands of kilometres to peer into deep space.

    • Management and usability: Extreme goes its own way

      On the plus side, the Linux-based NX OS is modular, so a problem with any particular process won’t bring down the entire system. That’s a big improvement over monolithic IOS, and should enhance stability.

      Arista’s EOS also runs on Linux, and does more than any other switch tested to make Linux features available to users. This isn’t just piping command output to any Linux program, handy as that is. The command set also allows network managers to drop into a Bash shell and run virtually any Linux command – including applying bug fixes without a reboot, a unique feature in this test.

    • Is IT getting too easy?

      Juxtapose that with what a 10-year-old encounters in 2010. Basically everything Just Works (even Windows most of the time). Want to install Linux on a random desktop or laptop? The vast majority of the time you won’t even have to download a single driver. Want to write some cool script? Chances are that someone already has, and you can find the code in Google. Copy, paste, and you’re done.

    • 39,000-Core Ubuntu Server Cluster Renders Blockbuster Movies

      According to Paul, Ubuntu is at the core of all of this, running on all of the rendering nodes, and 90% of the desktops at Weta Digital. He notes that his cluster is in fact an Ubuntu Server cluster, and not RHEL as he has seen reported in the media.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux.conf.au: Latest Linux kernel release due early March

      The latest release of the Linux kernel, 2.6.33 is expected to be out by the beginning of March and among its new features is a reverse-engineered driver for Nvidia graphics chipsets.

      Jonathan Corbet, Linux kernel contributor, co-founder of LWN.net and the lead author of Linux Device Drivers, Third Edition, will give Linux.conf.au attendees a full update on the Linux kernel at the conference on Wednesday. He told Computerworld version 2.6.33 is “pretty well along in production”.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

      • A Preview of KDE 4.4

        I saved the best for last. I have long believed that applications like OpenOffice.org should have support for tabbed word processing. It just makes sense. Why should tabs be limited to web browsers or file managers? With KDE, you no longer have to wait on individual application developers. The KWin window manager itself supports tabbing.

        Simply right click on a window’s title bar and select “Move to window group”. Then, select the window you want to group with it. Almost like magic, the two windows will become one, and there will be two or more tabs in the title bar. But this feature is not only limited within applications. You can group any application with any other. You could group a Firefox window with a Konqueror one and compare website rendering, which is useful for web design. KDE’s window specific features also now give you the ability to set how you want new windows of an application to group. For example, my OpenOffice.org documents now automatically open in new tabs rather than new windows.

      • key quest: nepomuk

        Nepomuk, the “social-semantic desktop” framework named with a cute half-dragon namesake. It’s an amazing set of technologies, but there are two huge challenges for it in 2010. If we conquer those challenges together, we will be laughing.

      • key quest: mobilizing and enabling KDE users

        KDE has added new dimensions to our repertoire over the last few years. A move towards greater awareness that we are part of a larger free culture movement that has taken hold in various ways and form around the world is one such shift. It hasn’t changed what we do (create client-side software with all the trimmings) but it has changed some of how we do it and what we include in our software.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Gnome Shell – One desktop to bind them all

        Gnome Shell is the future window manager for UNIX-like operating systems running the Gnome desktop environment. It is slated to be part of the Gnome 3.0, which will probably be released sometime next year. However, this does not mean you cannot try Gnome Shell now and get the first impression of what it ought to be.


        Gnome Shell is a handsome beast, there’s no disputing that. In fact, I don’t think anyone will argue the good looks, the blend of colors, the smooth integrations. Even old times like me have to cede that.

  • Distributions

    • Noteworthy changes 1 January – 17 January 2010
    • Slackware Linux – Less is more

      Slackware is the oldest Linux distribution still with us and has a loyal following among those long term Linux users who pine for the old fashioned virtues of simplicity, straightforwardness and lack of bloat.


      Volkerding still largely runs Slack as a one man operation. This has its drawbacks and its virtues. Packages are only updated if they require little or no tweaking to raise their performance, and some, such as GNOME, have been dropped, because they require too much configuration.

    • “Jobbik” will make Hungary an open source powerhouse

      Jobbik is not a new Linux distribution, but a political party, hell bent on making Hungary an open source powerhouse, if wins the upcoming general election, in April.

      This is an awesome news, because the other parties always favored proprietary software use in governement, paying only lip service to open source solutions.

    • A first look at Jibbed 5.0.1 (a NetBSD live CD)

      I’ve always had a good deal of respect for the various flavours of BSD. Each of them holds down an interesting niche in the open source community and I generally enjoy using them when I have the opportunity. So it was with a good deal of excitement that I read about Jibbed, a live CD based off the latest version of NetBSD. I, admittedly, have had little experience with the operating system whose claim to fame is the ability to run on anything, even a toaster, and this seemed like a good chance to see what was new in NetBSD.

      The Jibbed web site displays a clean and easy-to-navigate layout. It’s very easy on the eyes and contains lots of useful information on the project. This includes some frequently asked questions (and answers), a Wiki and ways to contact the developer. By the time my download was done and checked for errors, I was already feeling hopeful about this project. The Jibbed image file is medium in size, weighing in at about 465 MB. For my safari into Jibbed I used two physical machines, a LG laptop with a 1.5 GHz processor, 2 GB of RAM and an ATI video card. I also used a generic desktop box with a 2.5 GHz processor, 2 GB of RAM and a NVIDIA video card. To round out the experiment, I set up Jibbed in a virtual machine too.

    • Debian Family

      • New Leader for the Ubuntu Women Project

        This morning I had the pleasure of announcing the appointment of the new leader of the Ubuntu Women project as selected by the Community Council.

        Congratulations to Amber Graner for being selected for this role!

      • Many Thanks! – Ubuntu Women Project – Leader Appointed

        Earlier today Lyz Krumbach sent an email to the Ubuntu Women Project mailing list announcing that the Ubuntu Community Council had appointed me as the interim leader of the Project. I was speechless! I appreciate those of you who gave testimonials for not only me but for Melissa Draper and Penelope Stowe as well. Melissa and Penelope both have some amazing goals and vision for the team and I can’t wait to see the team adopt and incorporate all these as we update and follow the roadmap to a successful growing Ubuntu Women Project.

      • Linux Mint 8 vs Ubuntu 9.10

        On the surface, trying to write a comparative review of Linux Mint 8 (Helena) and Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic koala) would seem like a pointless exercise. After all, Linux Mint is based on Ubuntu. So what’s the point? Well, as in cases such as this, where one product is based on another, there begins to emerge – at some point – a product differentiation. In the case of Mint and Ubuntu, that differentiation has been apparent almost from the first year of Mint’s existence.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • BAE Systems Selects MontaVista Software to Power New Artillery and Naval Gun Systems

      MontaVista® Software, LLC, the leader in embedded Linux® commercialization, announced BAE Systems Bofors in Sweden has selected MontaVista Linux to power their new naval and artillery gun systems. The use of a commercial quality embedded Linux provides for rapid development, combined with the long-term support required for military applications.

    • Pandora handheld gaming device first impressions incredibly favourable

      It seems like a lifetime since we first reported on the announcement of the open source Pandora handheld project: since then the machine’s release has been beset by all manner of issues and has missed several tentative ‘deadlines’ over the past year or so.

      Of course, the fact that the team behind the console isn’t a massive multinational corporation but rather a small group of enthusiasts who have full-time jobs in addition to this little undertaking doesn’t help matters, but the good news is that the Pandora’s troubled genesis is about to come to an end.

    • Phones

      • Nokia

        • ioquake3 Engine Running On Nokia N900

          The Nokia N900 mobile computer may just have a 3.5-inch display and a 600MHz ARM Cortex-A8 processor, but it does have a PowerVR SGX graphics processor that is capable of providing OpenGL ES 2.0 support, albeit through a binary-only driver. While this hardware is not much, it is enough for some gaming even with the ioquake3 engine. The ioquake3 engine, which is the free software project founded around the open-sourced id Tech 3 engine, is used by games like World of Padman, Tremulous, Urban Terror, and other free software games. Now thanks to the world of Oliver McFadden, an ioquake3 port is running — and running quite well — on Nokia’s N900.

        • Get Google Maps on your Nokia N900

          With Google currently concentrating on its own Android operating system, support for Google Maps on the Maemo 5 operating system isn’t official. However, because the Nokia N900’s operating system is Open Source, it’s easy for individuals from the Maemo Community to come up with their own software. The result in this case is a browser-based Google Maps application.

      • Android

    • Sub-notebooks

Free Software/Open Source

  • PAVONE won in the category ‘Best IBM Lotus Open Source Contribution by a Business Partner’.
  • PSQ Analytics predicts small caps to bring new world order to technology

    The report cited the examples of Linux, which it called the pioneer of open source software, and ARMS processors, which are rivalling Intel’s hegemony in the netbook space, also noting that the Bluetooth technology and Linux both emerged from Scandinavia and not from the Silicon Valley.

  • VoIP 2010: Simplification through Integration

    EL: How do you view the impact of the growth of the open source community on the overall communications industry?

    AP: Open Source has enabled many new a creative applications to come to market at very affordable price points; expect the trend to continue. SIP has been a tremendous enabler for the open source developers, allowing interoperability between open source and commercial products that would be otherwise very difficult. For AudioCodes, open source applications have created opportunities for our media gateways that are needed to connect these applications to the PSTN, user desktops or other existing equipment.

  • Koha Optimistic That Forked Tree — And Troubles — Are History

    Koha developers, contributors, and users might sum up the past year with a bastardized comic book tag line: “With great adoption comes great growing pains.” Many now, however, hope the worst of it is ready to be shelved away.

    Koha, incidentally, was my first introduction to how great the open source developer community is. I was installing it on my home machine — to see how it stacked up, and to file away for a later date when licenses were begging for renewal. While I wasn’t someone with much say in renewing proprietary licenses on the consortia level, I was very impressed with how Koha worked. I was more impressed, however, when I pondered aloud on my personal site why I was having such a problem with a Perl script, that then-release manager Chris Cormack left a suggestion in my comments as to where things were going wrong.

  • Minix on the iPod: where Linux started
  • Open Source House: Hundreds of Young Architects Worldwide Join Forces

    Open Source House, an an international design competition for young architects, aims provide sustainable and affordable housing in urban areas.

  • Symbian

    • Nokia previews future Symbian UI
    • Escarpod to be integrated into Symbian^3 and Symbian^4 ?

      Escarpod, the third party Open Source podcast gatherer and player, originally written for UIQ and available for S60 in beta form for a while, is now the source of a Contribution Proposal to the main Symbian Foundation code base. Effectively, this means that future Symbian devices should have a podcast client, in the wake of Nokia choosing not to contribute their own proprietary Podcasting application. Read on for links and more information.

  • Mozilla

    • Firefox 3.6 Release Candidate updated

      An update to the Firefox 3.6 Release Candidate is now available. This second release candidate is available for free download and has been issued as an automatic update to all Firefox 3.6 Beta and Release Candidate users.

  • Databases

    • Save MySQL?

      But here is the part that really bothers me: this is making OSS acquisitions look very dangerous and dicey. JBoss is finally making a ton of money for RedHat (>100MUSD/yr) but after 3 years, a few false starts and fumbles. It was a steep learning curve on both sides. But, so far the MySQL situation is a disgrace and just looks like a huge mistake. Hopefully the VMWare crew does a better and more discreet job of successfully integrating an OSS company.

    • Will Oracle Kill MySQL?

      MySQL founder Michael “Monty” Widenius is spearheading an energetic attempt to stall Oracle’s acquisition of Sun. His concern is that once Oracle buys Sun, it will decimate MySQL. Should we be worried?

  • CMS

    • Integrating WordPress and Twitter

      Sometimes you just can’t say it in 140 characters. And sometimes, a blog post is just plain overkill. Luckily you can manage your blog and microblog with one interface, at least as long as you’re using WordPress and Twitter Tools.

    • Video Tutorial: Configuring WPtouch with WP Super Cache
    • Drupal’s Dries Buytaert on Building the Next Drupal

      Buytaert’s attention primarily is on Drupal 7 right now; the community has been working on it for two years — with this week’s Alpha release a significant milestone — and he’s very proud of the results. “We made hundreds of changes,” he says, which impact end-users, site builders, and developers. His favorite new features for end users are “some massive usability improvements,” Buytaert says. Acquia hired well-known usability experts, with the result of look-and-feel improvements, additional navigation features, and better underlying information architecture.

  • Government

    • FLOSS in Government

      One thing that governments and large organizations seem to miss about FLOSS, though, is that, instead of paying for licences for software or not, they should consider actually participating in the generation of FLOSS by hiring some coders.

  • Openness

    • Open Street Map community responds to Haiti crisis

      There has recently been a flurry of activity in the Open Street Map community to improve maps of Haiti to assist humanitarian aid organisations responding to the recent earthquake.

      In particular mappers and developers are scouring satellite images to identify collapsed and damaged buildings/bridges, spontaneous refugee camps, landslides, blocked roads and other damaged infrastructure – to help NGOs and international organisations respond more effectively to the crisis.

    • When minds collaborate

      Former Wikimedia Indonesia executive director Ivan Lanin always keeps in mind an interesting quote on the nature of the collaborative movement of free online encyclopedia Wikipedia.

    • Willow Garage Gives Away 10 Free Robots to Jumpstart Open Source

      PR2 is fully compliant with ROS, and other open source robotics code supplied by a vast community robotics experts.

  • Programming


  • Judge throws out decade-old lawsuit against circus

    Sullivan didn’t believe him. He said in court documents: “Mr. Rider is essentially a paid plaintiff and fact witness who is not credible.”

  • Why Broward County is awash in corruption

    Last year, when an ambitious Fort Lauderdale lawyer named Scott Rothstein decided to hire someone to develop political strategies for businesses seeking government contracts, he turned to none other than Ken Jenne, the disgraced former sheriff who had just been released from jail.

    That kind of coziness between lobbyists, politicians and businesses seeking big-dollar deals while working at the edge of the law and beyond is at the core of the wave of scandals that have beset Broward County.

    In the past two years, five elected officials have been indicted, six cops have gone to prison and a town manager has been convicted of stealing $500,000 — plus the once-mighty Rothstein facing charges that he engineered a $1.2 billion Ponzi scheme, the largest fraud in South Florida history.

    What’s going on in Broward? Interviews with activists, politicians and academic observers offer several explanations: An uncommonly intense relationship between lobbyists and public officials, voter apathy, possible prosecutorial indifference, and a diminishing number of trained eyes watching what’s happening.

  • New York Times Ready to Charge Online Readers

    New York Times Chairman Arthur Sulzberger Jr. appears close to announcing that the paper will begin charging for access to its website, according to people familiar with internal deliberations. After a year of sometimes fraught debate inside the paper, the choice for some time has been between a Wall Street Journal-type pay wall and the metered system adopted by the Financial Times, in which readers can sample a certain number of free articles before being asked to subscribe. The Times seems to have settled on the metered system.

  • Hack to Hacker: Rise of the Journalist-Programmer

    As if the journalism job landscape weren’t terrifying enough, now you’ve got to think about learning to code. It’s yet another new media skill you’ll need to stay ahead of competitors.

  • Is Mandy right to cut science funding?

    Lord Mandelson has repeatedly said that spending on such subjects should be strongly tied to stuff which is likely to make money. We have pointed out the difficulty in knowing this in advance before, and John Naughton does similar in The Guardian using the example of lasers which moved from being esoteric tools for quantum physicists to an integral part of hundreds of different products from DVD players to barcode scanners.

  • Britain’s Business Secretary wants to turn the nation’s back on basic science

    Today in the Observer, business columnist John Naughton describes in exquisite detail the blinkered pig-ignorance of Business Secretary Peter Mandelson’s plan to de-fund basic research in favor of “prioritising research that would contribute to Britain’s future prosperity.” That is, he’s only going divert funding to those small, incremental technologies that have well-understood, overhyped revenue models, leaving out the visionary basic science that has historically accounted for the largest payouts for industry and government. If Mandelson’s criteria had controlled spending 50 years ago, no one would have wasted money on go-nowhere egghead flights of fancy — like the laser.

  • Security

    • Prioritising life

      Why are we in a War on Terror at all? Why not a War on Earthquakes, which kill hundreds of thousands more people each year than some goose with incendiary BVDs who was on a suspect-list anyway?

    • France asks UN to specify U.S. role in Haiti relief efforts

      The United Nations needs to specify the role of the United States whose military forces are controlling the main airport in Port-au-Prince, capital of quake-hit Haiti, a French official said Monday.

    • ACLU challenges US laptop border searches

      Privacy campaigners are continuing a legal challenge against random laptop border searches by US customs amid concerns there may be a racial bias in those delayed and inconvenienced by stop and search powers introduced as part of the war on terror.

    • Court asked to allow prosecution for “sexting”

      A teenage girl who appeared topless in a “sexting” cell phone picture that was distributed among her middle-school classmates should face child-pornography charges, a Pennsylvania prosecutor argued before a U.S. appellate court on Friday.

    • Tories plan review of communications database

      The paper also lays out plans for electronic defence of the UK. The opposition would establish a Cyber Threat and Assessment Centre (CTAC), building on the work to set up a Cyber Security Operations Centre in Cheltenham, although this is not yet operational.

    • What Google’s New China Policy Tells Us About Internet Voting

      Google recently announced in an important change of policy that it will stop censoring search results for queries coming from China. That is interesting in its own right, but is not why I am writing this article.

      According to their corporate blog post, what prompted this change of policy was the discovery of “a highly sophisticated and targeted attack on [Google's] corporate infrastructure originating from China”. They found similar attacks on “at least twenty other large companies from a wide range of businesses”.

    • GeneWatch UK on the National DNA Database

      GeneWatch UK has published two excellent documents which should be on on the reading list of everyone with an interest in the government’s plans for the National DNA Database. Below are the recommendations concluding the 5-page GeneWatch UK Parliamentary Briefing on the Crime and Security Bill (doc). This document is timely as the second reading of the bill has been tabled for this coming Monday.

    • ContactPoint database suffers ‘serious’ security breaches during trial phase

      At least 51,100 people have also demanded to have their personal information hidden from users of ContactPoint amid persistent fears that it is unsafe.

      The investigation by The Daily Telegraph has led to renewed criticism of the delayed £224 million computer system, which is meant to protect young people by creating a single register of their contact details.

    • forth elsewhere: British police arrest man under terror legislation for internet joke

      When heavy snowfall threatened to scupper Paul Chambers’s travel plans, he decided to vent his frustrations on Twitter by tapping out a comment to amuse his friends. “Robin Hood airport is closed,” he wrote. “You’ve got a week and a bit to get your shit together, otherwise I’m blowing the airport sky high!!”

    • Watchdog Warns About Airport Body Scanners

      The UK’s equality watchdog has written to the Home Secretary over concerns about the proposed introduction of body scanners at airports.

    • Body scanners risk right to privacy, says UK watchdog

      The UK’s equality watchdog has written to the home secretary expressing concerns about plans to use body scanners at airports.

      The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) said the devices risked breaching an individual’s right to privacy under the Human Rights Act.

    • Guerrilla sticker picture of last week

      If you haven’t taken a look at the gallery recently, the number of photos is rising weekly. And if you haven’t got your stickers yet, just get in touch with an address and the number of stickers you want and we’ll send them straight out, free of charge!

    • Google probing possible inside help on attack

      Google is investigating whether one or more employees may have helped facilitate a cyber-attack that the U.S. search giant said it was a victim of in mid-December, two sources told Reuters on Monday.

    • Poisoned PDF pill used to attack US military contractors

      Unidentified hackers are running an ongoing cyber-espionage attack targeting US military contractors

      Booby-trapped PDF files, posing as messages from the US Department of Defense, were emailed to US defence contractors last week. The document refers to a real conference due to be held in Las Vegas in March.

  • Environment

    • New Hansen analysis and global temperature data counter disinformers who say the planet is cooling

      A new analysis by James Hansen et al. concludes: “The bottom line is this: there is no global cooling trend.” The authors show how regional short-term temperature fluctuations help explain the “gullibility” with which some people have been “so readily convinced of a false conclusion” that the planet has stopped warming. The NOAA National Climatic Data Center’s annual summary posted on January 15 says: “The 2000-2009 decade is the warmest on record, with an average global surface temperature of 0.54 deg C (0.96 deg F) above the 20th century average. The years 2001 through 2008 each rank among the ten warmest years of the 130-year (1880-2009) record and 2009 was no exception.”

    • Failing insect control pushes Bt cotton costs higher

      NOTE: At the end of last year Monsanto was declared Forbes’ company of the year, because its seeds “resist weeds and pests and make life much easier for farmers.”


      Gore said a side effect of relying on neonicitinoids for plant bug control “is that we are starting to see some tolerance in cotton aphids. We’re starting to hear lots of complaints from consultants across the Mid-South.”

  • Finance

    • What Karl Rove got wrong on the U.S. deficit

      For its Topic A feature last Sunday, The Post invited a panel of political operatives to offer their advice to the Democratic Party on strategy for 2010 [Sunday Opinion, Jan. 10]. Improbably, one of the operatives asked was Karl Rove, President George W. Bush’s longtime chief strategist.

  • PR/AstroTurf

    • PR First, Country Second: A McCain Campaign Retrospective

      The deeper concern here is the how McCain put the country at risk by believing himself and his judgment to be presidential material. Clearly, McCain did not put his “country first.” His number one priority was on pulling a desperate PR stunt to help him attain the presidency at virtually any cost. The overall interests of the country were maybe second, or somewhere further down the line.

    • Credit Card Companies Profit Off Tragedy in Haiti

      Many relief organizations are soliciting donations to help victims of the earthquake in Haiti using hotlines and Web sites that prompt people to use their credit cards. While most of the money people give will make it to the designated organizations, credit card companies are charging a two to three percent “transaction fee” or “charity processing fee” that gets subtracted from the donations. These hidden fees –which are estimated to amount to hundreds of millions of dollars — are helping credit card companies profit significantly from the Haitian tragedy.

    • As Wallets Open For Haiti, Credit Card Companies Take A Big Cut

      Thanks to this hidden fee, American banks and credit card companies are making huge profits — somewhere in the neighborhood of $250 million a year — off of people’s charitable donations, according to a Huffington Post analysis.

  • Censorship/Civil Rights

    • Italy proposes mandatory licenses for people who upload video

      Italy proposes mandatory licenses for people who upload video
      Italy’s Berlusconi regime, already known around the world as an enemy of free speech and popular access to the tools of communication, has now floated a proposal to require Italians to get an “uploader’s license” in order to put any “moving pictures” on the Internet. The government claims that this is required as part of the EU’s product placement disclosure rules, which is about as ridiculous assertion as I’ve heard this month.

    • 12 Trends to Watch in 2010

      It’s the dawn of a new year. From our perch on the frontier of electronic civil liberties, EFF has collected a list of a dozen important trends in law, technology and business that we think will play a significant role in shaping online rights in 2010.

    • Drawing the ‘online’ line on free speech

      When and where do we draw the line on free speech?

      That’s “we” as in you and I, and our fellow citizens — and the “where” increasingly involves the Internet.

    • Google Attacks Highlight the Importance of Surveillance Transparency

      Ed posted yesterday about Google’s bombshell announcement that it is considering pulling out of China in the wake of a sophisticated attack on its infrastructure. People more knowledgeable than me about China have weighed in on the announcement’s implications for the future of US-Sino relations and the evolution of the Chinese Internet. Rebecca MacKinnon, a China expert who will be a CITP visiting scholar beginning next month, says that “Google has taken a bold step onto the right side of history.” She has a roundup of Chinese reactions here.

    • Turkey Blocking More Than 3,000 Websites

      The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), a human rights watchdog, called on Turkey today to reform or abolish its restrictive Internet policy.

      “At present, 3,700 Internet sites are blocked in Turkey, including YouTube, GeoCities, and Google sites,” said Miklos Haraszti, an OSCE Representative on Freedom of the Media.

    • Facebook users booted for hitting message limit

      Some Facebook users sending messages about the Haitian earthquake may have been a bit dismayed at times this week to find that they’d been booted off the site for suspicion of spamming.

  • Internet/Web Abuse/DRM

    • DOJ Ends Inquiry Into Soaring SMS Prices

      The price of sending text messages via the nation’s largest wireless carriers has skyrocketed in the last few years, jumping from five to twenty cents, per message, both directions. If not on a bulk plan, that’s a forty cent fee every time someone sends or receives a 160 character, 140 byte communication. It’s a pretty dandy profit margin when you’re charging (by some estimates) around $1,310 per megabyte for a service that doesn’t actually cost anything to provide — given text messages travel over tower control channels for free.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Everything You Need To Refute a File-Sharing Legal Threat

      A new wave of cash demands connected with allegations of illicit file-sharing are being received this week. In response, consumer group BeingThreatened has produced the most informative handbook ever created, empowering those wrongfully accused to refute the claims against them and hold onto their hard-earned cash.

    • Europe’s Second Pirate MP Still Not in Office

      The Pirate Party may have won two seats in last June’s European Parliament elections, but it’s hard to see that in practice. Despite the Lisbon Treaty going into effect just over 6 weeks ago, there is still no news of when Piratpartiet may fill their second seat.

    • App Store Piracy – one developer’s take

      Josh Knowles, one of my fellow Austin-native friends from way back, told me recently that his firm’s iPhone game, Critter Defense, was pirated more than bought. I was naively shocked to hear that piracy even happened in the iPhone world. But of course it does: so long as you unlock your phone and surf the piracy sites. I was reminded of that conversation over beers by Jeff Bertolucci’s piece today on the same topic, quoted above.

    • SABIP Finally Enters 21st Century

      It looks like at least one government department, the Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property Policy (SABIP), is starting to get a clue about the digital economy, and the fact that constantly harping on about *online* file-sharing misses the bigger picture:

      Today sees the publication of the first comprehensive review of currently available national and international research into consumers’ attitudes and behaviours to obtaining and sharing digital content offline. Much of this activity infringes current copyright law in the UK.

    • Google guns for a superheroine

      It seems there’s an online comic book called “I Am Googol”. In the story, the leather-clad super heroine has an extraordinary brain that enables her to process more than one googol of data per second – which sounds a bit lame to us as super powers go, but she would be great at splitting the bill in a restaurant. The character’s creator, Sylvaine Francis, says she was born when she found the word and its definition “completely at random” one day.

      Sylvaine has some rather ambitious plans to turn “I Am Googol” into a movie but, without wishing to rain on her obvious enthusiasm for her creation, a ranking of 1,634th on the Webcomic list and 140 Facebook fans – including, for the purposes of research, your humble author – seem hardly likely to have James Cameron beating a path to her door.

      Unfortunately for “I Am Googol” and her creator, trying to file a trademark registration for the comic book character has attracted the attention of Google’s lawyers.

    • Declaring War on European Computer Users

      “Eradicate piracy”? This man either knows nothing about the technology or nothing about people. Seeking to eradicate “piracy” is about as sensible as seeking to eradicate “drugs” or “terrorism”: it shows yet another politician happy to mouth platitudes without any thought for their real consequences, which would be nothing less than declaring war on hundreds of millions of European computer users. The next few years are beginning to look grim.

    • Commons in a taxonomy of goods

      Collective property is collectively owned private property or private property for collective purposes. Among them, there are common property and public (state) property. All designations of private property are basically valid here. There are various forms of collective property, for instance stock corporation, house owner community, nationally-owned enterprise.

      Free goods (also: Res nullius, Terra nullius or no man’s land) are legally or socially unregulated goods under free access. The often cited „Tragedy of Commons“ is a tragedy of no man’s land, which is overly used or destroyed due to missing rules of usage. Such no man’s lands do exist yet today, e.g. in high-sea or deep-sea.”

    • EU’s IP Negotiating Strategy With Canada Leaks: Calls 2009 Copyright Consult a “Tactic to Confuse”

      Now a second document has leaked, though it is not currently available online. The Wire Report reports that an EU document dated November 16, 2009, features candid comments about Canada and the EU strategy. The document, called a “Barrier Hymn Sheet” leaves little doubt about the EU’s objective:

      Put pressure on Canada so that they take IPR issues seriously and remedy the many shortcomings of their IPR protection and enforcement regime.

      Having viewed the document, I can report that it goes downhill from there, promoting the key message that Canadian laws are inadequate, while liberally quoting a report from the Canadian IP Council and discredited counterfeiting data.

    • Oink.CD – Oink’s Pink Palace Part One

      The acquittal of OINK.CD admin Alan Ellis has caused a firestorm of confusion across the net, with comments flying fast and furious claiming just about anything you can imagine, and a lot you probably couldn’t imagine. The problem is that so far we don’t know a lot. After the initial raid the police and prosecutor in England went silent, and to the best of my knowledge some of the major pieces in the case (like the original search warrant) are still not available for analysis.

    • If Your Options Are To Change With The Times Or To Just Complain About Them, Which Is More Likely To Work?

      Anthony Biedenkapp was the first of a few of you to send in a blog post from DJ Shadow where he complains about the state of the music industry. While I disagree with an awful lot of what he writes, it is worth reading. It is thoughtful and obviously from the heart.

    • Introducing The Alexandria Project

Week of Monsanto: Video

The World According to Monsanto part 2 of 10

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: January 18th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

To use your own IRC client, join channel #boycottnovell in FreeNode.

Patents Roundup: Neelie Kroes and Microsoft Patents Revisited, Steve Ballmer Lobbies Obama on Patents, Apple Wants Linux Phones Embargoed (Using Patents)

Posted in Apple, Europe, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 11:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Another glimpse at the way proprietary software giants currently suppress the adoption of Free software, notably using patents

Europe’s situation when it comes to software patents was recently made worse because of something that Neelie Kroes said [1, 2]. People are still calling for action, but André has a different interpretation of it. He writes:

On software patents Kroes focussed on interoperability within her portfolio.

“We should discuss what about software patents…”

A view which satisfies stakeholders against and for software patenting alike.


Kroes is the perfect person for the position of a “Digital Agenda” Commissioner. Agenda policy is usually a slow and ineffective snowball process driven by technocratic sermon, an undisputed lie or truth in the center of it all. Having someone involved who is still able to talk plain language and check the premises is very much beneficial. Most digital policy matters require a strong focus on market order. Who would be better qualified than Kroes to get that right?

Meanwhile we find that Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer is lobbying Obama for increased “throughput” in the patent office, having already apparently blackmailed the president so that workforce gets betrayed. Steve Ballmer and his wife Connie Snyder personally paid money to Obama, so they get access to his ear. The same goes for Bill Gates and his wife (they separately paid Obama) and it shows [1, 2].

“Steve Ballmer and his wife Connie Snyder personally paid money to Obama, so they get access to his ear.”What chance is there that Obama* will support a withdrawal of software patents in the United States if executives who actively lobby for software patents are funding him?. Few other countries accept software patents; very few in fact, maybe a handful. One of those countries is Japan and the president of the FFII wrote this morning that according to this document from WIPO [PDF], “WIPO: Art 2.1 of Japan Patent Law defines “invention” as a creation of technical ideas by which a law of nature is utilized…”

Watch this new comment on an article about Apple patents, which are wrongly being described as “defensive”.

Like all software patents it’s a defensive one. Apple’s patents nearly all are. Software patents are usually for things that can be classified as insanely derivative and the majority of patents have some form of reference to prior art.

In this specific case it looks like Apple’s patent came before anything from Google. And even in the US, it’s not who had the idea first that matters. You have up to one year to file a patent after documenting the idea and publicly discussing or showing it in a product. IMO, not only that stipulation should be removed, but software patents themselves should be completely abolished. They serve only to harm competition and the marketplace. We already have copyright law to protect source code and design. That’s enough for software.

The above is being called “defensive”, but how might that explain Apple using its patents to terrify Linux device makers? These are just as defensive as a nuclear weapon is “defensive”. It’s better (safer and less wasteful) to just disarm.

In the latest round of a frivolous Nokia-Apple case [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], Apple wants to embargo some of Nokia’s Linux-based devices. Apple goes aggressive and retaliatory with patents, but to be fair, Nokia started this confrontation. Nokia used patent law in attempt to embargo Apple products.

As for another important item from the news, guess who is the second-largest patent awardee in the US? It’s the company which conspired with Microsoft against the freedom of GNU/Linux.

The Armonk, NY, based technology giant received 4,914 new patents in 2009, according to IFI Patent Intelligence in Wilmington, Delaware. Korea’s Samsung Electronics was second with 3,611 patents and Microsoft Corp. was third with 2,906.

IBM is also part of the problem. It’s not a friend of Free software when it comes to patents.
* It’s not an Obama/Democrats problem by the way, as both major parties are serving similar business interests. The problem is partly systemic.

Disaster Capitalism and Microsoft

Posted in GNU/Linux, HP, Microsoft, Windows at 9:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Direct link

Summary: How Microsoft makes money out of natural disasters; Microsoft takes Perl down with bot shakeups

KATRINA is well behind us, but several Microsoft Web sites used to speak about the dumping of Microsoft software (at zero cost, initially) that got many victimised businesses and local operations ‘stuck’ with Microsoft. They became victims twice. When disaster strikes, it is often seen as an opportunity for corporate takeover (there is a lot of budgeted money for reconstruction). In Naomi Klein’s “shock doctrine”, she explains how Katrina was exploited by corporations to transform their business success rather than transform the ruined land.

We have discussed this in the IRC channel for the past couple of days [1, 2] because of the Haiti earthquake. Separately, one of our readers mailed us the following last night:

Microsoft is puffing up some kind of disaster capitalism in Haiti. Eweek uncritically announced some $1.2 million of donations and a call to employees for aid. While it is nice of them to encourage others to help, $1.2 million is a piddling amount for such a large company and Eweek might have asked if the “donations” were more of the usual, $1,500 worth of CDs and temporary licensing keys with a MSRP of $1.2 million. It is a shame that details were not provided to reduce well earned cynicism.

Having seen Microsoft in action for Katrina and Rita, I can say that they are a hindrance rather than help. Red Cross offices suffered under Microsoft’s notoriously poor networking, which kept them from being able to act as efficiently as they should. Citizens were forced to use IE to sign up for relief because government websites were poorly designed, so free software was banished from evacuation centers and people fell back to pen and paper. To top it all off, Microsoft used the opportunity to expand their grip on public education and small business with state funded, strings attached deals. I can only imagine what they will do in Haiti, where there’s less to milk when all is done.

Speaking of making money out of chaos, Heise finally writes about Microsoft's denial of service attack on Perl, which gives Perl’s allegations legitimacy. The H says:

The Perl CPAN Testers have been suffering issues accessing their sites, databases and mirrors. According to a posting on the CPAN Testers’ blog, the CPAN Testers’ server has been being aggressively scanned by “20-30 bots every few seconds” in what they call “a dedicated denial of service attack”; these bots “completely ignore the rules specified in robots.txt”.

Microsoft’s own servers also act as drivers of DDoS attacks (when hijacked) and as sources of referrer SPAM (as a matter of design) [1, 2]. It’s probably worst when DNS goes down due to Microsoft.

As PC Pro (UK) puts it, Microsoft is now liaising with HP in hope of fighting GNU/Linux.

Microsoft and HP tie $250m knot


From Microsoft’s point of view, the deal will help ward off the threat of Linux-based solutions in businesses, while HP can count a near-guaranteed revenue stream from Microsoft-centric customers.

Secret/exclusionary deals are related to the exploitation of natural disaster, but they are not quite the same. Both are means of imposing the use of inferior software through loopholes, euphemistic bribes, and back doors.

BBC: Bill Gates a “Famous Thief”?

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception, Microsoft at 9:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The network behind the constant grooming of Bill Gates discovers that some of the public still knows the truth about Microsoft’s co-founder

BILL GATES’ well-documented crimes are no better than Steve Ballmer's. In a just system, they would both be sentenced to prison, but the existing legal system offers nepotism to the affluent class, which it often glorifies and romanticises instead. Attempts to portray villains as heroes using heavy-duty PR operations is not the subject of this post though. One of our British readers pointed out that, according to the BBC, few people in the UK still think correctly of Bill Gates. To quote the BBC:

Microsoft boss Bill Gates was the most well-known but 5% of the group thought he was a comedian or a famous thief.

He actually is a famous thief. He is famous (or infamous) and he has stolen many things. Gates himself once said, “just because you broke into Xerox’s store before I did and took the TV doesn’t mean I can’t go in later and steal the stereo.” Gary Kildall said about Gates: “He has taken much from me and the industry.” A lot of people may not know about the dawn of Microsoft which involved dumpster-diving (literally) and taking other people’s code. Microsoft would not even deny it. There are many other examples in Microsoft's darker past, but again, this is not the purpose of this post. Entire books could be written on the subject almost exhaustively.

When Bill Gates moved to lobbying in 2008 [1, 2, 3, 4] the BBC did some shameful things to rewrite history and ‘correct’ the image of Bill Gates. Here are some links on the subject:

Last month, the BBC was slammed for excluding Free software users, which once again brings to mind the iPlayer fiasco. We wrote about this in:

OpenBytes has this new post which shows that the iPlayer fiasco carries on:

It is reported that talks between the BBC and Microsoft have hit a stalemate with sources close to the BBC reporting that:

Microsoft only wants to offer its users access to platforms it can charge for as this is the model it is pursuing. It wants to ensure that only those paying for Xbox Live Gold accounts can access its additional content services and even then there is usually a charge on top to get access to those. For example, to access the Sky Player on Xbox, you have to pay for a Gold subscription as well as a Sky subscription

Do it our way or not at all? It certainly seems that way to me and whilst Nintendo and Sony users are apparently enjoying the benefits of the service, Microsoft customers are not so lucky as it appears Microsoft want to make a buck. We had covered this before, but when looking at the Xbox 360 its hardware failures, the reports on build quality many have submitted on the net and add into that Microsoft putting its eggs into the HDDVD format (instead of Bluray) one has to wonder what its users make of it now?

Xbox is a disaster. There is no reason why the BBC should ever prioritise it, but it does. There is too much Microsoft staff inside the BBC [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] and therefore conflicts of interests.

With Mono Clearly on Microsoft’s Side, Another Call for Ubuntu to Move Mono to ‘Restricted’

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Ubuntu at 8:55 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Now that Microsoft formally recognises the contribution of Miguel de Icaza to Microsoft, there is no longer any reason to think of Mono as beneficial to GNU/Linux

Microsoft MVP Novell’s de Icaza [1, 2] has put GNU/Linux at risk and this risk is infectious. Here are the responses in Linux Today to the news about the MVP award. It’s overwhelmingly negative and it was probably intentionally posted by the editor right next to an item about Microsoft’s attacks on GNU/Linux, as shown by Comes vs Microsoft exhibits.

Any attempt to promote Microsoft APIs and frameworks (SharpDevelop for example) is a disservice to GNU/Linux, based on Microsoft’s own documents [PDF]. A reader of ours is concerned about the effects Mono has on Ubuntu for example. Yesterday he wrote to us:

Bradley Kuhn had an interesting discussion of desktops.

I like the effort that Canonical has made with raising the popularity of Debian-based distros. I abhor the fact that it and related services, like Ubuntu One, are starting to be used as a vehicle to spread Microsoft products. With the strong integtration of services, like Ubuntu One mentioned there, into the desktop for Lucid Lynx, there are some real conflicts.

No one and no company can be promoting Microsoft products without knowing the one single possible outcome. Ubuntu has spent a lot of time creating a good brand. It is a shame for a bait-and-switch type scam just as things are getting good. Quality suffers as much from Microsoft products as other areas do.

Obviously the Mono problem is at the middle of all that, even though it itself is only the symptom of some staffing problems. If the staffing problems are not cleared up, it has bad repercussions for all of Free Software operating systems, especially upstream in Debian.

Another one of the lower-profile things that Ubuntu hurts with is that it is constantly steering those who don’t know better into proprietary formats, drivers and codecs. There used to be proper warnings about what users were losing if they installed proprietary extras. There used to be a clear distinction between ‘main’ and ‘restricted’ I have to point out that the things Bradley wrote about and the things mentioned above were in place and made Ubuntu as popular as it is today.

As Jeremy Allison suggested some months ago, Mono and Mono-based applications should be put in Ubuntu’s ‘restricted’ repositories [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

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