Turning Vulnerable People Into Microsoft Drones, Under Guise of ‘Donation’

Posted in America, Deception, Microsoft, Red Hat at 2:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

PC at night

Summary: Microsoft’s latest PR offence which is intended to turn ex-soldiers into Microsoft soldiers and more about Microsoft’s intrusion into the back yard of Red Hat

SELF-SERVING programmes that are being described as “donations” are a troubling thing and American EDGI (its euphemism is “Elevate America”) is one such thing which we covered in posts such as [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. Microsoft claims to be ‘donating’ courses to people, but this so-called ‘donation’ is merely Microsoft indoctrination, which does more harm than good. It makes people dependent.

Microsoft targets soldiers with its American EDGI scam, based on this poor report which parrots a talking point from Denis Leary of Veterans Inc.: “As our soldiers come home from Iraq, this is the perfect time for Veterans Inc. to expand its services in collaboration with the Microsoft Elevate America veterans initiative.”

Bellevue is also targeted by this programme and the corporate press plays along with the lies/spin (PR), discarding any opinions from sceptics. It’s actually from AP, at least originally:

Bellevue College is one of six organizations nationally to receive grants from Microsoft Corp. to help pay for a program that helps veterans get jobs.

They are pretending it’s a donation. What ever happened to critical or lateral thinking? It’s not so hard to see what is going on here. Microsoft marketers issue some press release and IDG plays along, not to mention local news sites, which are generally most notorious for shallow and inaccurate reporting.

This is a point that we’ve made so many times before (repetition reduces overall signal/entropy), but just to state the obvious again, Microsoft needs the PR in order for lousy/sloppy reporters (or bloggers and Seattle minions) to deceive citizens, making them slaves of the software which Microsoft owns and controls while honestly believing that they improve their job prospects. I have seen victims of these programmes in my own eyes (some of whom were loved ones).

“Learning how to use menus of Microsoft programs is not education.”While the English coverage mostly explains the impact of American EDGI (lingual-geographic bias), this problem is global and here is a new example from elsewhere: “Kshamta, meaning capability, is a 110-hour training program consisting of 30 hours of the Microsoft Digital Literacy Skills Programme…”

“Microsoft Digital Literacy” means stuff like Windows, Internet Explorer (yes, they teach Microsoft-specific Web browsing), and Office. Learning how to use menus of Microsoft programs is not education. It’s not “literacy” or “skills”, either. These are just buzzwords and sound bites.

Here is more indoctrination for Microsoft, going under the heading “Free Computer Classes” towards the end of the year. Microsoft is not “computer”.

Some time ago we showed how Microsoft came to Red Hat's back yard in North Carolina to turn students from the area into Microsoft drones, too. Sadly, we did not provide many references at the time (this is important news), so here is some more:

Education officials announced an agreement Monday morning that makes North Carolina the first state to provide Microsoft IT Academy online courses and instruction management tools to every public high school.

There is additional disinformation in [1, 2, 3, 4]. As we asked at the time, why is Microsoft targeting Red Hat’s back yard so specifically? Maybe a coincidence, maybe not. In any case, Microsoft in education is like Happy Meal in a restaurant.

“The danger is that Microsoft is using strategic monopolistic pricing in the education market, with the government’s assistance, to turn our state university systems into private workforce training programs for Microsoft.”

Nathan Newman

Back Room Deals as Microsoft’s Secret Recipe

Posted in Asia, Microsoft at 2:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Man with cigarette

Summary: New examples of illegitimate Microsoft deals with African and Arab nations for the most part

WHEN YOU can’t play and win by the rules, what else can you do? Probably cheat. A few days ago we received some strongly-worded reply to this post about Microsoft lobbying (there is more). David wrote: “I simply know of the behaviour of Microsoft’s federal sales force in the past and hence consider anyone who was in charge of that to be criminally liable. But I think I will have to write an article on this topic.”

Today’s post is an aggregation of news from the past couple of months — news that we missed due to me having an extremely busy December.

We would like to begin with the news from a Bill Gates-funded ‘news’ site (more on that later), which says that “The African Capacity Building Foundation and Microsoft Partner to Build the ICT Capacity of Public Sector and Civil Society in Africa”

The African Capacity Building Foundation (ACBF) and Microsoft today met to formalize a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between their two organizations. The purpose of the MoU is for the two companies to join their formidable reputations and expertise to help co-ordinate various capacity building programmes across Africa.

Oh, yes. Another MOU, which stands for Memorandum of Understanding. For those who want to see leaked documents where Microsoft explains the predatory nature of MOUs, start here. Here is another press release titled “Skolkovo Fund and Microsoft Sign Memorandum of Understanding”.

Now, let’s recall Microsoft in Jordan as we approach this news from Jordan’s government. Was there a tender? Fair procurement? Or just back room deals, as usual?

Watch Microsoft lobbying the government in Qatar, using Qatar National Day as an excuse. This trick sounds so familiar. To quote: “Officials of the National Day Celebration Organising Committee, Microsoft Gulf and LINK Development, the leading IT solutions provider in the region, jointly announced this during the Middle East SharePoint conference at the Four Season’s Hotel on Sunday.” This is hopefully self explanatory. Staying in this same region, let us recall the Kuwait Linux stories and how this was blocked by Microsoft. Watch another step in the derailment of Kuwait’s digital autonomy:

As a demonstration of its continuing commitment to improving the quality of education and strengthening the learning capacity of Kuwait University’s students in order to help them be more creative and use the latest IT solutions, Microsoft Kuwait yesterday signed an agreement with the university, which will see KU students offered special rates for its group office software, ‘Microsoft Office Professional Plus 2010.’

Microsoft is lobbying using events again, this time in Pakistan. For shame. There is also national indoctrination in Pakistan (Microsoft indoctrination at the expense of the state itself):

ISLAMABAD: Higher Education Commission (HEC) and Microsoft entered into a strategic alliance in Pakistan to provide centralised IT services to universities across Pakistan, according to a press release issued by HEC.

Watch what Microsoft does in Dubai’s hospitals. For the uninitiated, Microsoft is blocking Free software adoption in Dubai using MOUs and in Delhi schools among other places such as SUNY (the State University of New York) Microsoft uses the Live@Edu scam. It turns students into Microsoft vassals early on in their lives. This unreliable software is advertised by Mary Jo Foley despite massive problems in Hotmail for example. For anyone to choose Microsoft for E-mail it probably requires the bribes offered to officials by the Live@Edu programme (we leaked it thanks to someone from India) or some back room deals*. Speaking of which, watch what Wipro and Microsoft are up to (Wipro services Microsoft to get an award). Oh, well. Just another day in the world of Microsoft cronyism.
* It ought to be emphasised that Google is no better when it comes to universities (it is posed as a “Microsoft vs Google” battle and a lot is missing from this simplified picture) because all universities should go with Free software instead, offering staff and students independence from the spying eye of some outside company.

Ukraine, Russia, China and Several More Countries Under Attack From Microsoft Pirates

Posted in Asia, Deception, Microsoft at 1:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ukraine flag

Summary: Microsoft goes aboard the governments of foreign sovereign nations and makes them pay Microsoft for software it seeded among the population

SHOULD UKRAINE move to GNU/Linux and Free software? It wants to, but Microsoft stands in its way [1, 2, 3] (people to whom this is new are strongly encouraged to read these articles from the past). Here is a new Business photo of Microsoft’s CEO Steve Ballmer in Ukraine. Here’s what it says:

During talks, Ukraine’s government pledged to legalize software it uses at government offices. (Courtesy)

Which Ukrainian sea does Microsoft allege there is ‘piracy’ in? Well, this is just an excuse for Microsoft to clench its fist and take yet more money out of Ukrainian taxpayers, whether they want to or not. As we explained before, Microsoft uses propaganda acquired from IDC to justify this plot and such propaganda is perpetually used to evoke guilt in the minds of anyone gullible enough in the country. “Microsoft Considers Beneficial For Ukraine To Reduce Pirated Software” says this other headline, which uses the lies from IDC, as usual (we have already explained why IDC lies here, on numerous occasions in fact).

He cited IDC survey data saying that 85% of software installed on personal computers in Ukraine in 2009 was pirated.

Watch how IDC’s parent company, IDG, amplifies this nonsense as a ‘news’ agency.

“It’s heartbreaking because of people who work hard to spread GNU/Linux in their homeland Russia, only to meet dirty tactics from the abusive monopolist.”The UK, not just Ukraine, has such bogus statistics used against it, in order to buy Microsoft some sympathy while it loots entire nations. Here is another new headline which is very amusing because it speaks of a corrupt company and corrupt government promising to help “fight corruption”. It doesn’t get more comical than that, but we digress.

We feel for Ukraine because of its history and because of its ties to/with Russia. And this leads us to the next issue from the news. Putin makes many headlines these days (in various languages) because he advocates software freedom for Russia, including of course GNU/Linux [1, 2, 3, 4]. Microsoft is trying to derail this in Russia, as it has been doing for many years now. We covered this many times. It’s heartbreaking because of people who work hard to spread GNU/Linux in their homeland Russia, only to meet dirty tactics from the abusive monopolist.

“Microsoft helped crack down on activists as means of colluding with the Russian government to stifle dissidence.”Microsoft is already dumping software (“Microsoft takes on Putin’s Russia”), as always with the intention of keeping Microsoft monoculture there, no matter the toll. Microsoft decided to withdraw its attack on activists because it is bad PR (this Russian spin was covered here before). Not so long ago a “Russian Teacher [Was] Fired For Complaining About Having To Use Microsoft Software” and around the same time “Microsoft pledge[d] support for Russian tech hub” in a type of move where Microsoft offers a ‘gift’ to Russia in exchange for some leverage over the government (Norway is a recent example of it [1, 2]). Reporters neglect to discuss the motives [1, 2, 3, 4], but that’s what ought to be expected from docile corporate media (that last one is from Pravda and there is also CBS). This one from the religious press is funny as well, not to mention the Huff & Puff where a writer asks: “Does Microsoft care more about international software piracy and sales than it does about the persecution of dissident groups in Russia and China?”

That’s the wrong question to ask. Microsoft helped crack down on activists as means of colluding with the Russian government to stifle dissidence. The licences were just a convenient pretext or excuse. To Microsoft, this was not about making another sale or two in Russia. But hey, as Toby repeatedly tells us, the role of the Huffingtons (rich oil family) is to amplify noise/signal from channels like Fox, it’s not truly a progressive site. Here is what looks like a Ubuntu site praising Microsoft for spreading proprietary software, pretending to do ‘charity’ and addressing ‘piracy’. What a misguiding disgrace. “Somali Pirates Capture Another German Merchant Ship” says the news about real pirates. Reporters who label people who won’t pay Microsoft for Windows “pirates” deserve to be humiliated, for they too should realise that in many nations Windows is priced out of reach and Microsoft loves it when poor people resort to counterfeiting. It makes Microsoft stronger.

“But hey, as Toby repeatedly tells us, the role of the Huffingtons (rich oil family) is to amplify noise signal from channels like Fox, it’s not truly a progressive site.”On we move to China, where the government has also been coerced into serving Microsoft’s interests at citizens’ own expense (this is a critique by the way; It’s just more business in China, as part of an “Alliance”). “China to inspect government computers for pirated software” says this headline. Whose responsibility is it anyway? “Govt continues battle to halt pirated software use” says the Chinese press in English: “China will intensify efforts to push use of legal software and combat software copyright infringement including pre-installing illegal software on computers so as to improve the legal environment in the country’s software industry, officials said at a news conference in Beijing Tuesday.”

Watch the Murdoch press and Chinese press playing along [1, 2, 3]. Repression seems like a common ground to them. It is something they can both agree on.

“Microsoft China Sues Ten Dealers For Pirated Software Installations” says another Chinese site (sometimes they extort to settle with money). To quote part of the article: “The ten dealers are Beijing Yuntong Shidai Technology Trade Company; Beijing Yuchen Shimei Technology Company; Beijing Sinetec Technology Company; Shanghai Summit Technology Company; Nanjing Bibang Network Technology Development Company; Nanjing Herun Technology Company; Guangzhou Yitai Information Technology Company; Shenzhen Prodigy Industry Company; Chengdu Bandung Haotian Technology Company; and Chengdu Xinshidai Network Company.” Another article says that “Microsoft wins piracy case against Chinese internet cafes”.

“How about suing people who spread Microsoft software to the point where they are too afraid to touch it?”Way to go, Microsoft. How about suing people who spread Microsoft software to the point where they are too afraid to touch it? Well, frankly, Microsoft can avoid such backlash because according to another new report (from IDG), Microsoft is using proxies again, notably the BSA. There is also a lot of new propaganda derived from that, even echoed by sites like Geek.com (further echoed here at Geeksmack.net), which in turn cite Ashlee Vance’s lip service to Microsoft propaganda. In Asia it’s the same story because the crackdown for Windows tax has just gone global while Windows profits decline. Here for example is a detailed report from India. Consider BSA raids for Microsoft in the gulf: “Microsoft Gulf is a member of the Business Software Alliance (BSA), the foremost advocate for the software industry.”

Advocate “for the software industry”? Really? It only represents about 20 companies all of which are selling proprietary software, quite exclusively too. It makes them only a small subset of the software industry, but the BSA only pretends to be something that it’s not, just as Microsoft’s front group ACT pretends to represent small businesses. These lobbyists only pressure to pass laws that are beneficial to Microsoft and recently there was a big court ruling regarding the transfer of sold software (second-hand). Watch Microsoft taking on eBay right now:

The Bexar County Sheriff’s Office began investigating Meng in September, after a private investigator with Microsoft was able to allegedly buy the counterfeit software on eBay.

When Microsoft needs to cheat in its reports regarding Windows numbers, no wonder it becomes so trigger-happy. Windows is no longer the lucrative cash cow it once was, due to decreasing cost margins. Microsoft knows what to do then…

“They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”

Bill Gates

Sociopaths at Apple

Posted in Apple, Patents at 12:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Shout and let it all out

Summary: Apple’s parallel universe of distasteful attitudes, as covered in the latest news

FURTHER to the post about changed perception, more and more people become aware of Apple’s dark side and more reporters write about it too. “Apple support company sues customer for complaining,” CNET alerts despite Apple’s payments to it:

Returning to my inbox after the New Year’s break, I found it full of Greeks bearing rifts.

The national press, the tech blogosphere, even normal, ordinary human beings on Twitter are railing against Systemgraph, a support company officially approved by Apple to be its reseller and authorized service provider.

Dimitris Papadimitriadis, a physician in Greece, was apparently having a little trouble with his iMac, so he took it to Systemgraph in order to enjoy its authorized servicing skills. According to the Greek newspaper Proto Thema, Papadimitriadis discovered dark patches on the screen of his machine.

Keep it classy. In other news, The Register says that “Apple patent endangers unbiased product reviews” and it explains why:

Apple has filed a patent application for an online-store product-review system that turns the ideal of unbiased product evaluation on its head.

“The present invention relates to electronic commerce,” the application reads, “and more specifically to using the collective wisdom of a community to predict rankings for items for sale in an electronic store.”

Many “collective wisdom” product-evaluation systems currently exist, of course, from Amazon to Epinions to Yelp and more. Many more.

What makes Apple’s filing unusual is that the system it describes “provides an incentive for individuals in the group of individuals whose associated predictive ranking coincides with the actual ranking of the item.”

For those who do not know, Apple allegedly collaborates/pays a company which produces fake reviews. Last year we also showed how Apple bribed famous people to review the hypePad ahead of everyone else. Apple’s patent attacks on competitors (notably Linux/Android) is a subject we’ll get around to later in the week.

An Apple a day keeps reason away.

TechBytes Promo

Posted in Site News at 11:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Marti Van Lin

Summary: Quick pre-announcement about the TechBytes show

LATER THIS month TechBytes will have a new Web site, in an address we have not announced yet. Gordon has done a fantastic job on it. There will also be more torrents of the show, which ought to help reduce server load and bandwidth. One of the listeners, Marti van Lin, has kindly produced a promo track for the show and one can listen to it in this Web page. Thanks Marti for the great work and to everybody else, please stay tuned for an announcement to come. A lot of output from Techrights now goes into TechBytes because delivery is faster by voice. This show is the result of collaboration involving 3 sites/people.

2010: When GNU/Linux Remained/Became Better Than Vista 7

Posted in GNU/Linux, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 11:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Optimism with regards to the success of GNU/Linux on the ‘desktop’ (or whatever form factor becomes most commonplace)

SOME people are afraid of Vista 7. Some people are said to be in love with it, but they usually go under anonymous handles and some time in the near future we’ll have an investigative report linking such people to AstroTurfing. Those who listen to episodes of TechBytes (which we enjoy producing by the way) probably got a bit of a teaser because the subject was covered in TechBytes around Christmas time. OpenBytes has managed to expose a Microsoft agent cursing Linux and praising Microsoft products under multiple handles. Once the person was linked to his/her Facebook account it turned out that s/he worked for Microsoft, whereupon the Facebook page got deleted (evidence, be gone!).

I was personally amused to see just a few days ago how anonymous commenters pressure writers who are critical of Vista Phony 7 [sic] under pseudonyms. Remember that Microsoft spends about half a billion dollars just promoting this already-failed product and this money goes to peripheral agencies that use all sorts of tactics to shape the perception of Vista Phony 7. Watch what those alleged sympathisers of Vista Phony 7 (it hardly has any users) caused a Forbes writer to publish even as a headline: “Commenters Say Don’t Knock Windows Phone 7 Prematurely”

“In many ways, these people can handle GNU/Linux better than they can use Windows without a support helpline and an OEM’s preinstallation.”Who are those commenters? Can they be named? The point of it all is that what we’re seeing here is exactly what we saw when Windows Vista and Vista 7 were released. There was retaliation against writers who criticised it. In the coming days we’ll do some dedicated posts about Vista Phony 7, whereas in this post we wish to address the myth of GNU/Linux being ‘hard’, ‘incompatible’, etc.

I’ve used Fedora 14 since its release and wrote about it almost a dozen times in my personal blog. It works for me. It works better than almost anything I’ve tried and I installed it for other people too. They stick with it. They even installed it themselves, having never installed a GNU/Linux distribution before. In many ways, these people can handle GNU/Linux better than they can use Windows without a support helpline and an OEM’s preinstallation. Last night I found the post titled “Windows 7 fails to power down idle disks, Fedora 14 works”. This it the typical sort of example where Linux “just works” where Windows does not. People need to take it for granted that in certain areas GNU/Linux is far ahead of Windows (package management for instance). To quote a fragment from this new post:

After a while Windows 7 will power down my idle (Fedora 14) disk but then it will randomly power the disk back up. This process would then repeat, an endless cycle of power down, power up, power down, power up….

Why does Windows 7 feel the need to poll my idle disk and wake it up?

Not only is this behaviour irritating but it undermines the idea of spinning down idle disks to save power.

Fedora 14 on the other hand spins down my idle (Windows 7) disk perfectly and does not randomly power the drive back up again unless I intentionally access the drive.

“My morning in Microsoft hell” is another new post that I found last night. It also speaks about Vista 7:

I didn’t want to give up, so I took the plunge and called Microsoft. After a glorious 10 minutes on hold, I was told that as I had bought my copy of Windows 7 more than 90 days prior, I could not get support for less than $59. What? I could not believe it. I have to pay for when I can’t get your product to actually work? This is literally the exact opposite of a Genius Bar. Microsoft told me to go to their website and search for answers to my problem. I was blinking, so she repeated: “go to Microsoft.com.”

All I needed to know was, ‘is it possible to revert to factory like settings without reinstalling Windows 7?’ Is that so hard to divulge?

Then it hit me: I can’t reinstall Windows at all, because I don’t have a disk to reinstall from. I downloaded the OS from Microsoft, and thus have no physical media to use to restart. In short, I can’t restore, and I can’t reinstall, despite having paid for the damn OS. In other words, my main computer is for all intents and purposes dead.

It is important to see why people favour GNU/Linux here. It’s not price, it’s not the viruses in Windows, and it is not the belonging to a “side”, either. It’s technical merit and the notion of ownership/control. If one expands the scope of factors, cost can be seen as a nice bonus and as Microsoft Emil reluctantly admits, there is yet another unpatched Explorer flaw right now (we wrote about a couple more yesterday).

Details on the IE vulnerability are probably more widely known than Microsoft would like, especially given that the researcher in question, Michal Zalewski released the fuzzing tool to the public on New Years Day. It’s worth noting that a Google employee has done this before, disclosing an IE flaw that could allow attackers to steal private information from online services. Then and now, Microsoft argued that details should not be disclosed publicly until a patch is available.

How many people still remember that Google banned Windows for all internal use? That was less than a year ago. Google claims to be doing this for security reasons, but there are so many more reasons than that. Google starts pushing Linux-based Chrome OS and Android into a very large market and GNU/Linux in general is very mature at this stage. I never use Windows (neither at home or work) and this avoidance becomes ever more painless over time. Soon enough proprietary codecs and Flash won't be required, either (I have neither installed in Fedora) owing to changes on the Web, partly owing to Google.

So, in conclusion, 2011 looks like a bright year already. Mark Shuttleworth is becoming extremely active in the mailing lists this week, possibly because he too feels invigorated with enthusiasm. Here is an underwhelming short screencast I’ve just grabbed of my main desktop (just 1.4 megabytes in total size). We ought to have something better in the future.

Change Happens (Consensus Regarding Mono)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 10:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Coins in hand

Summary: How the perception around Mono in GNU/Linux has changed despite bullying and because of persistence with the truth

REAL change is hard to bring about. When companies pour millions into marketing, it is usually them who get to determine public perception, which is a multi-trillion-dollar business. Here at “Boycott Novell” (we have broadened our scope under the Techrights umbrella) we have worked for over 4 years to persuade people to see through the fog and discard PR messages. To a large degree we succeeded and now more than ever people are fed up with Novell and the pet Microsoft projects it fosters, notably but not exclusively Mono and Moonlight.

This morning and afternoon I had some engaging talks with friends to whom less conformist views are easier to absorb (harder to do with adult generations above me as I’m in my twenties). After about 3 hours of talking it emerged that the greatest danger is that younger generations will fail to learn critical thinking. Schools teach them to obey conventional thought and sometimes learn how to learn; but they are state-funded precisely because they define a boundary within which one’s permissive views must stay. Indoctrination serves those in power. This is why questioning some of the pillars of modern society would seem dubious to discouraging peers and marginalisation of rights is assured to carry on this way. The relevance of this long discussion to Techrights (there were similar talks on our site recently, e.g. in IRC) is that Web sites like Groklaw, which are mostly aligned with our side, begin to admit that some of the aspects of Techrights they once criticised were actually on target all along. There needn’t be an explicit admission as it is there between the lines. Techrights got a lot of flak for daring to say the ‘unsayable’ at times, but 4 years later more and more sites normalise — so to speak — what we have been arguing ahead of the times. Some of history’s worst regimes were also resisted and had people warn about them long before they were rogue to the extent that their abuse of power became irreversible and any critic/dissident fled or was imprisoned, sometimes assassinated. Being progressive is not being angry. I am not angry. I rarely even raise my voice. Techrights is an educational resource, not a rant site.

“Being progressive is not being angry.”The point of the matter is, here at Techrights we always strive to politely express opinions which many people hold within themselves for fear of backlash or retaliation. We attract many readers but not as many comments (because a lot of people choose to read the site silently). This need not be the case and it never helps when people from the outside create a monster-like image of the messenger/platform, always neglecting to challenge the actual message or its accuracy.

A long time ago we got criticised for criticising Monodroid, which is an attempt to bring .NET mentality to Android. It seems like the dominant mobile platform to be, but Mono boosters hope to ‘reform’ it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15]. As we shall cover in posts later this week, Microsoft attacks Android with patents from several angles (at least 3 now). The last thing Android needs right now is an underlying framework (for applications to depend upon) which is clearly a patent problem, according to Microsoft.

One of our success stories — if we dare take just a little bit of credit for it — is that we helped popularise the understanding that Mono is trouble. It is trouble because over the past few years we got more and more evidence (even from Microsoft itself) that Mono promotes the Microsoft APIs, which also happen to be somewhat of a patent bait. Microsoft supports Mono, it doesn’t quite compete against it.

“As we shall cover in posts later this week, Microsoft attacks Android with patents from several angles (at least 3 now).”Mobile platforms are the future in an increasing number of areas. As the differences between mobiles and desktops continue to blur (e.g. tablets), there is increased likelihood that Vista 7 (or any hype du jour) will start dropping in terms of installed base. Linux is the most viable replacement, but do not expect it to be branded “Linux” anymore. The branding does not matter so much (it is also the private property of a person), is it the software freedom that usually accompanies it which matters. Threatening the freedom of the platforms, we always have software patents, which are means of using new laws/bureaucracy to crush a competitor.

Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza has just advertised “Mono for Android” and we are pleased to find among the news headlines a very reasonable response to it. One news site says that the “Mono Trojan Released To Attack Android” right there in the headline. The Mono boosters won’t like it. As the article puts it: “Mono on Android is a major threat. Android developers should stay away from using any tool which locks them into Microsoft’s technologies.”

We do expect AttachMSFT (or Microsoftmate or Attackmate) to continue promoting this. If not, Microsoft will find a ‘foster home’ for it. It’s in Microsoft’s interests.

The bottom line is, news sites too express skepticism if not outright disdain when it comes to Mono. So progress is being made.

Links 5/1/2011: Linux 2.6.37 is Released, Android Duplicity

Posted in News Roundup at 6:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • A New Year’s Eve Reflection…

    On Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, we delivered the last three. Joi and her son Jack were the last install of 2010. Jack is an honor roll student, looking forward to entering Middle School next year and with a Dell D610 laptop from The HeliOS Project, he can go forward with confidence.

    And his mom has one less thing to worry about.

    In the meantime, we had a backlog of requests for laptops. They were mostly students preparing to enter college or trade schools. Unfortunately, many of them had already moved or had begun college and had not provided us a forwarding address.

  • ‘Iran to unveil national OS soon’

    Taqipour also pointed out that an open source operating system would help pinpoint penetrable portholes in systems and said, “Many countries are turning to the open source [OS] as a solution to this problem.

  • Linux Security, one year later…

    This post (tries to) describe what happened in 2010 about GNU/Linux security. What this post is not is a long list of vulnerabilities, there are some people doing it way better that me.

    The first part of this post is dedicated to new vulnerability classes where the second one focuses on the defensive side, analyzing improvements made to the Linux kernel. Before closing this post, some selected quotes will be presented, pointing the finger at some of the Linux failures.

  • Desktop

    • Speed Up Your Computer In 2011!

      As many readers of this blog already know, I love radio! I listen to the radio in my studio when I’m at my drawing table or in front of my PCLinuxOS computer.

  • Server

    • Version Vexations: Keeping Big Linux Operations on the Same Page

      As data centers have grown in complexity, so has the task of keeping all or even most of the machines on the same page in terms of Linux version control and modeling. “Overall, the tension between ‘We have to have the latest patches installed’ and ‘Leave well enough alone’ means that a lot of different systems are at a lot of very different patch levels,” Illuminata’s Johnathan Eunice said.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Google

    • Run OS X, Linux or Windows on Chrome Notebook

      There aren’t many Chrome notebooks out there. Google has been sending a select few out to developers and those who signed up for its pilot program, but you can’t buy them at retail stores. Unless you count yourself among the lucky few that got a Cr-48, or work for a tech blog and were sent a review unit, it’s kind of hard to get your hands on one. Still, if you’ve read reviews or had a chance to play with one, you’ll know that Chrome OS is all web-based and completely different to the desktop experience we’re used to.

  • Kernel Space

    • The kernel column #96 with Jon Masters – 2010 in review

      2010 was another exciting year for the Linux kernel and its community. Over the course of four kernel releases and many tens of thousands of mailing list messages, over one thousand individual developers (some working alone, some working for corporations) contributed two new architectures, several new file systems, and drivers for key hardware in the form of the Nouveau Nvidia driver (produced independently of Nvidia) and an open source Broadcom driver for its recent Wi-Fi chips. Of course, many more features were added, too…

    • The 2.6.37 kernel is out

      Linus Torvalds has released the 2.6.37 kernel. Not much has changed since the 2.6.37-rc8 prepatch, just some VFS locking documentation updates, ASoC codex register cache changes, and “small and boring” fixes.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel’s Official Sandy Bridge DDX Nears

        Intel’s Carl Worth has just announced the xf86-video-intel 2.13.903 driver release. He hopes this DDX release candidate will be the last before the xf86-video-intel 2.14.0 driver is officially released carrying the proper X.Org driver support for their new Sandy Bridge CPUs.

      • Intel Will Work On Better Linux Timing For Ivy Bridge

        The Sandy Bridge Linux graphics support isn’t actually too bad besides lacking out-of-the-box support or any easy way to easily upgrade the driver stack for novice end-users of Linux. There’s open-source OpenGL acceleration (though it’s over classic Mesa and not Gallium3D), VA-API video decoding (and encoding support is evidently on the way this quarter), 2D/KMS, etc. This support though will be found in Ubuntu 11.04 when released in April and Fedora 15 in May, so it’s really just the very early adopters that will be impacted by having to roll their own driver stack or find any third-party package repositories.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • 10 of the best Linux window managers

      With Windows you’re stuck with, well, Windows. With Linux, you have a choice. And whether you have a preference for a ‘do everything’ approach, or a ‘do nothing at all’ one, there’s a window manager made for you.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Kolab Server 2.3 alpha Release

        New year, new alpha release; Kolab 2.3 alpha is now released for testing!

        For users, Kolab 2.3 introduces new mobile synchronisation features in the form of ActiveSync integration and, for packagers, provides improved code modularity for the web client. Detailed information on the release can be found here: Release Notes

      • Phonon Loves Codecs

        As the Phonon team is hard at work to prepare for the release of Phonon 4.4.4, the GStreamer backend has seen some awesome improvements these past few days.

        Not only will it be the second backend to support the experimental video capturing features introduced with Phonon 4.4.3 but has also seen tremendous improvements with regards to stability. But most importantly of all it got improved codec installation support.

      • fire up the synchrotron!

        Over the Christmas holidays, I spent some time coming up with a solution to a new challenge we have been running into in Plasma, and which I suspect other KDE teams may be as well: quick and easy deployment of application addons.

      • KDE Commit-Digest for 28th November 2010

        In this week’s KDE Commit-Digest:

        * Non-destructive editing (with an interface fully adapted to versioning) arrives in Digikam, along with work on demosaicing and interpolation options, and filters
        * Drag-and-drop support for launchers, and version 4 of the SlimGlow theme in Plasma
        * User interface improvements in KFileAudioPreview

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Wayland Back-End For GTK+ Pushed Forward

        While busy discussing Sandy Bridge Linux support, it’s been brought to my attention en route to Las Vegas that the Wayland back-end for GTK+3 has been merged!

        With this Git commit by Intel’s Kristian Høgsberg, the Wayland back-end has been pushed forward.

      • GTK Theme Updates: Atolm, Borderless Elementary

        Atolm, the new but already popular dark theme created by the Orta author has been updated yesterday. Here’s the changelog for Atolms 0.6.5:

        * Speed optimizations, the theme is now faster than Orta
        * Notebook spacing changed.
        * Notebook tabs changed.
        * Nautilus breadcrumbs and mode button improved.
        * Check, radio buttons and tabs now share the same coloring with buttons.
        * White arrows on spinbuttons fixed.
        * Ubuntu Software Center text colors fixed.
        * Emesene status button text color fixed.
        * Pidgin status toggle button text color fixed.
        * Various Evolution Fixes.
        * OpenOffice text visibility fixes.

      • Multiple Back-Ends With The GTK+ Wayland Back-End

        Yesterday there was quick, airborne coverage of the GTK+ Wayland back-end moving forward for GTK+ 3.0. Not only was the back-end merged, allowing the GTK+ tool-kit to begin working on this alternative display server that’s quickly garnering attention, but it also works with the new GTK+ multi-backend capabilities.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Parted Magic 5.8 can boot and fully operate from RAM

        After several months of development, the Parted Magic developers have issued version 5.8 of their open source, multi-platform partitioning tool. Parted Magic can be used to create, move, delete and resize drive partitions and will run on a machine with as little as 64MB of RAM. File systems supported include NTFS, FAT, ReiserFS, Reiser4 and HFS+. LVM and RAID are also supported.

        The latest maintenance update is based on the 2.6.36 Linux kernel and features the addition of the SciTE SCIntilla-based text editor. According to Parted Magic developer Patrick Verner, version 5.8 marks the first time that the ISO image can be booted completely from RAM. Verner says that this means, for example, “that the default syslinux menu can be used for a PXE boot”.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mandriva sudoers file has changed :-)

        Mandriva sudoers file has changed, I can’t speak for other distros, but after my post about setting up sudo with mandriva, and using zsh (z-shell) for cli shortcuts/aliasing.

        Now most of that aliasing can be configured in sudoers instead, so it wont matter what shell you use.

    • Red Hat Family

      • What’s your leadership multiplier?

        As we’ve described before, we have a unique organizational model here at Red Hat in that we’ve combined the more traditional Human Resources and Corporate Marketing functions into a single department that we call People & Brand. Thanks to this structure, we are able to explore the places where our brand intersects with many different elements of our culture and associate programming, such as recruiting, interviewing, orientation, on-boarding, and training & development (among other things).

    • Debian Family

      • Linux Mint Debian Edition, 32 bit Re-spin

        When the Linux Mint Debian Edition 201012 distribution was released recently, I installed it on all of my 64-bit systems without problem. But I couldn’t get it to install on my HP 2133 Mini-Note, the installer always hung. I assumed it was because of the very finicky Broadcom 4312 WiFi adapter, or perhaps something else out of the ordinary with that system. Now it turns out that it wasn’t my 2133 after all, there was a problem with the 32-bit distribution. The details of the problem, and what they are doing to ensure that it doesn’t happen it again, are in this Linux Mint Blog post.


        In my opinion, Mint passes easily on all points.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Search suggestions in software-center

          While the software-center team is currently focusing on ratings&reviews there are still some nice features landing in trunk.

        • Looking for a quick way to help Ubuntu Weekly News?

          The Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter has been in a state of flux since the Editor in Chief had to step down. I worked with Nathan Handler over the weekend to get Issue 218 out the door today covering much of December and it gave me a taste of how challenging and time-consuming the task was (and made me hugely thankful that the former Editor so thoroughly documented it all). It also made me realize that it could be more succinctly divided up into small sections that volunteers can take – we just need to do a better job of documenting that so we can give pieces out easily when volunteers come along.

        • Why Is Canonical Selling An Ubuntu Branded Keyboard With A Windows Key?

          Canonical has a new Ubuntu branded keyboard for sale on their website. The keyboard is made from silicon which makes it moisture resistant, easy to clean and it is flexible – you can just roll it up and take it with you. It even has a screaming huge Ubuntu logo on the left.

          This should make the perfect keyboard for all the Ubuntu supporters out there. Except that it is not. And it is the fault of that Windows logo that the keyboard sports.

        • Windicators ‘not critical’ to 11.04
        • Ubuntu Software Center Getting Search Suggestion

          Aside from Unity, the Software Center is one of the main areas of development in Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narhwal. It is getting a lot of new features like support for user ratings, reviews etc. Another feature – search suggestion – has quietly landed in trunks.

        • Flavours and Variants

          • Ubuntu Remixes: 4 Of The Best Alternatives to Ubuntu

            Our recent article entitled Ubuntu As Intended drew in a fair amount of discussion about the base software and configuration in the default Ubuntu install. Some readers pointed out a few alternatives that aim to take the standard Ubuntu desktop and give it more polish than the original. Some of these projects just include a few extra packages, some replace the standard software suite, and others are complete makeovers. Today we aim to sift through a few of the more popular Ubuntu variants to find the best ones of the bunch, and see what they can offer.

          • Linux Mint 10 – How Good Is It?

            This morning I read a blog article from Intel in which it was discussed how Linux was once again making inroads on the enterprise. The survey indicated that about 75% of those surveyed stated they were planing on adding Linux servers to their organizations in the next 12 months. Only 41% stated they were going to add Windows servers to their business. So who conducted the survey? The Linux Foundation.

            So let me tell you about my recent experience with Linux. Every year, usually towards the end of the year, I select a Linux version to try for several weeks. Inside of me there is a Linux freak trying to break out and a little voice in the back of my head saying how nice it would be to dump Windows. Before I proceed let me state that I really enjoy my Windows 7 boxes. They have been working flawlessly since I installed W7 and I have had no major, or for that matter, no minor issues with the OS.Basically Windows 7 has been problem free for except for the self-induced problems I have caused on my own.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Time Runs Out for Monopolies of IT

      ARM and Android are exploding and taking GNU/Linux along for the ride.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • iPhone still king; new smartphone buyers opting for Android

          Sometimes it seems like everyone on the subway or in the café is using an iPhone, but according to market research firm Nielsen, new smartphone buyers are going after Android phones in droves. Nielsen says that 40.8 percent of US consumers who bought a smartphone in the last six months bought Android devices, while 26.9 percent bought iPhones and 19.2 percent bought BlackBerrys.

        • Android is gaining on IOS

          According to beancounters at Nielsen, data from November 2010 shows the Iphone is still the most popular smartphone in terms of marketshare in the US but Apple must be looking in its rear view mirror as Google’s Android juggernaut starts tooting and telling it to get out of the way.

        • Two faces of Android

          The most remarkable thing about Android is that it is the first widely adopted Open Source client operating system. It’s long been clear that Open Source is the best way to preserve infrastructural code from the vicissitudes of corporate and governmental volatility, but using it for client applications has so far not taken off as well. There has often been a separation between an open source underlying layer and a proprietary user experience that is built atop it.

          Android does follow this pattern to some extent – the underlying OS code is fully Open Source under an Apache License, so anyone can bend it to their own uses, but in order to get the “with Google” logo on your device, you need to conform to Google’s Compatibility Definition Document. That has changed over time; for example the 2.1 version specifies that your device MUST have a camera and 1.6 requires telephony.


          You can buy iPad lookalikes, things that look like a huge iPod, TV-based video game systems and more that run Android, often for under $100.

        • Android sends texts to wrong recipients
        • Lenovo teams LePad Android 2.2 tablet with Windows 7 PC dock

          This is… unbelievable. PC and laptop specialist Lenovo has officially unveiled its IdeaPad U1 hybrid notebook – a combination device that blends a standalone Android 2.2 tablet with an Intel PC.

        • Two Android Operating Systems!?

          It seems that the forthcoming Android Honeycomb will require a dual-core ARM Cortex-A9 processor, such as the NVIDIA Tegra 2 chip, to work. I can buy that. It’s tough luck for anyone using a Samsung Galaxy Tab or a Dell Streak, but that’s life on the bleeding edge of technology.

          To users ready to blow a fuse because they no longer have the newest and best toy on the block, I suggest that they chill out. Does your device still do what you bought it for? After all, I’m still perfectly happy with my first generation iPod Touch, and it will never see a significant operating system upgrade again.

Free Software/Open Source

  • 2010 Year-End Letter to Stakeholders

    The Open Source Research (OSR) Group was founded in Sept 2009, so it has been 16 months since inception. We hope to be writing a year-end summary every year, available to anyone interested. FAU is the university, CS is the computer science department, “we” is the group, and “I” is Dirk Riehle.

    * Hiring: During 2010 I succeeded in hiring three top-notch Ph.D. students; this fills the initial positions available to us. The three are actively working on their dissertations now. A first funding proposal for another Ph.D. student was submitted to the DFG during 2010, more are to follow.

  • The Open Source Year Ahead

    Open source vendors playing in the cloud arena are growing in number, probably in 2011 others will come, but only who will be able to nurture its community has good chance to be a winner in 2012. Among interesting players I didn’t mention before I would definitely enlist Cfengine and OpenStack.

  • Revisiting the 2010 Predictions

    Failure is part of predictions. Certainty demands comprehensive intelligence, which is by definition absent in the business of forecasting. But in prediction, the question isn’t whether you fail: that’s expected. The metric by which success is determined is rather how often. That is what separates the genius from the idiot.

    Let us score last year’s predictions, then, so that you may know whether to pay attention to the 2011 iteration.

  • NASA Open Source Architecture Wins Apache Support

    A NASA-led project has won the full support of the Apache Software Foundation, bolstering development efforts around Java-based middleware that uses metadata to foster cross-platform collaboration.

    Apache has deemed the Object Oriented Data Technology (OODT) architecture, originally developed at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, a Top Level Project, according to the space agency. This means it is one of a handful of the foundation’s open source projects to receive project management and resource support.

  • Apache web server hit a home run in 2010

    The World Wide Web would be nothing without web servers, and Apache has been king of that hill for a long time now. Although its market share has been slipping a bit in recent years, Apache came back with a vengeance in 2010.


    This article shows that Apache is pulling away from its “arch enemy, ” Microsoft’s IIS. In December 2009 there were 2.2 times as many Apache websites as there were IIS websites. In December 2010 Apache had 2.7 times as many websites as IIS.

    Apache is arguably one of the most emphatic open source successes, a product that has consistently since its birth been the preferred web server for millions upon millions of webmasters. Unless something drastic happens, it will remain dominant for a long time to come.

  • Web Browsers

    • 2011: The Year of Firefox – or of Chrome?

      The key event is immediately evident: as the graph shows, Firefox’s market share has overtaken that of Internet Explorer, with 38.11% against 37.52% (although I wouldn’t place much – any – faith in those last few significant figures).

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox overtakes Internet Explorer as Europe’s dominant browser

        The figures show that the gap between the two browsers started narrowing in March 2010. However, it appears that the real winner over the past year has been Chrome. Google’s browser ended 2010 with almost 10% extra marketshare than it started the year with. The main casualty of Chrome’s rise was Internet Explorer, which lost 7.32% during the year, according to StatCounter’s figures.

      • What’s up with SUMO – Jan. 3

        The big things this week:

        * No big issues since the release of Firefox Beta 8, Mobile Beta 3, Firefox Home 1.1 and Sync 1.6
        * Fancy-schmancy SUMOdev schedule (links below)
        * Improved search on SUMO

      • Qn: Which is the Most Popular Browser Version in India? Ans: Firefox 3.6

        IE’s market share in India is slipping (following the global trend), and while Google Chrome continues its offline promotions, a browser version that comes out winner is Firefox 3.6.

        IE is still the most popular browser (i.e. combined market share of IE 6, 7 and 8), but when it comes to a browser version, Firefox 3.6 takes the cake (23.25% market share as of today).

      • The best and the novelty of Firefox 4

        The newer version of Firefox from Mozilla is definitely better than Firefox 3.6 and is definitely worth trying out. Firefox 4 runs on the Gecko 2.0 web platform. Earlier today I downloaded Firefox 4 and put it through some drills, here is a review of Firefox 4 Beta 1 where you can find the new features and also the how Firefox 4 fares against other browsers in web browser benchmarks.

      • Next release of Firefox – beta 9, will have tabs on Title Bar

        Well, the time has come. For the first time probably, we can see firefox with tabs on the title bar. This is not available in the current beta 8 release but this feature will most probably be added and supported in the upcoming 9th beta.

  • Oracle

    • Rival Demands $110 Million from Oracle

      Oracle Corp. and its wholly owned subsidiary Passlogix stole confidential information to deprive a competitor of royalties, force it into bankruptcy, and use the stolen intellectual property for their own profit, 2FA Technology says in a $110 million claim in Federal Court.

    • Which Java EE 6 App Server ? – JBoss 6.0 or GlassFish 3.x

      It’s been over a year that Java EE 6 was released in Dec 2009 along with GlassFish as the Reference Implementation. JBoss contributed two new specifications to the Java EE 6 platform – JSR 299 (Contexts & Dependency Injection) and JSR 303 (Bean Validation) and contributed in multitude of other ways to make the platform successful, many thanks for that. RedHat released JBoss 6.0, their first Java EE 6-compliant app server (no production support and only Java EE 6 Web Profile) last month, a very hearty congratulations to them!

  • CMS

    • Energy.gov to move to Drupal

      For those who track such things, the U.S. Department of Energy has hundreds of websites, all of which are currently maintained through a variety of content management systems (CMS).

  • Education

    • Open Scholarship at #pmrsymp and #pmrhack

      It has now become clear to several of us that we need to identify an ethos of Open Scholarship. This means that – when and however disseminated – scholarship should be created in a semantic manner which allows us – and machines – to make better decisions and bout what we do, and to re-use the material that we create. By transferring the power of semantics to authors we give them greater voice; the costs can be very low and toolsets can be free and transparent. I shall pull this together in my presentation and several of us will have worked to create a first draft of Open Scholarship principles and practice, building on Panton and other initiatives.

  • BSD

    • NeoKylin. China’s new domestic FreeBSD based desktop O/S

      Two respected Chinese software companies of two operating systems used in China are said to be joining forces (20/12/2010) to create a domestic operating system called NeoKylin.

      China Standard Software and the National University of Defense Technology have signed a strategic partnership to launch an operating system brand known as “NeoKylin” that will be used for national defense and all sectors of the country’s economy.

    • Kylin, a Chinese FreeBSD based, secure O/S

      Kylin is based on FreeBSD 5.3 with some proprietary security extensions to add an extra level of security to that operating system. Kylin, named after qili, a mythical beast, has been organised in a hierarchy model, including the basic kernel layer which is responsible for initializing the hardware and providing basic memory management and task management, the system service layer which is based on FreeBSD providing UFS2 and BSD network protocols, and the desktop environment which is similar to Windows. It has been designed to comply with the UNIX standards and is compatible with Linux binaries.

  • Project Releases

    • GCC 4.6 Release Candidate Is Nearing

      A release candidate for version 4.6.0 of the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) is nearing. Novell’s Richard Guenther has provided a GCC 4.6 status update whereby this version of the leading free software compiler has now left “stage 3″ of its development and the code-base is now only receiving regression fixes and documentation work.

    • Conky Colors Gets A New “Board Mode”

      A new Conky Colors version has been released (5.0 beta 1) today which adds a beautiful new “board mode” which you can see in the screenshot in the beginning of the post.

    • Blender 2.56 beta released

      The Blender Foundation and associated online developer community have released Blender 2.56 Beta, the fourth official beta release of the Blender 2.5 series. On final release this development code will become Blender version 2.6.

      This beta is for the most part feature complete and over 440 bugs have been fixed since the 2.55 beta, although a very bad bug in “undo” for the Cloth / Fluid sim was discovered the day after the initial release. This bug has now been fixed and the developers say they will probably release a 2.56a update including the fix, soon.

    • LibreOffice Is Getting Ready For Ubuntu 11.04

      We’ve known that Canonical has been looking at LibreOffice replacing OpenOffice.org within Ubuntu and it looks like this packaging work is indeed materializing for the forthcoming Ubuntu 11.04 “Natty Narwhal” release.

    • New: OOo-DEV 3.x Developer Snapshot (build DEV300m96) available
  • Government

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Anti-openness gifts: An open advocate’s confessions

      For my birthday several months ago, I got a Kindle. No fewer than three people have since asked me, “What are you doing with a Kindle? It’s not very open source-y.”

      Confession: I love my Kindle. I only have one book to carry when I travel. I can play games. And it let me tweet from Paris over free 3G from Open World Forum, where cell data was expensive and, like many conferences, the wifi was shaky. Surely that counts for something?

      But the accusers are right. It’s not very “open source-y.” The DRM is painful and prevents sharing.

    • Internet Commerce Pioneer Seeks to Crack Secretive Culture With Cancer Commons

      “We see Cancer Commons as the harbinger of a new patient-centric paradigm for translational medicine, in which every patient receives personalized therapy based upon the best available science, and researchers continuously test and refine their models of cancer biology and therapeutics based on the resulting clinical responses,” Tenenbaum and colleagues wrote in their October white paper.

      That may be how you need to talk to entice a recalcitrant scientific audience, but when I spoke to Tenenbaum just before Christmas, he summed it up in a way that’s easier for patients to digest.

    • Open Data

      • Open Transit Data: NYC MTA’s Transformation

        For years, useful MTA data – including route schedules, service disruptions, and station details – were unavailable to software developers. While these data are technically public domain and available under the Freedom of Information Law, the MTA (like many transit agencies) faced many obstacles to providing it to developers. Internal regulations, licensing issues, and concerns about data quality hampered efforts to release the data, and the relationship between MTA and developers had become litigious.

  • Programming


  • Mellow Out or You Will Pay: Satire Now a Crime in California

    California is now destined to take its place among such stalwarts of free speech, such titans of comedy, as Morocco and India, both of whom arrested its citizens for making Facebook pages for others.

  • Founders of The Huffington Post sued for ‘stealing website blueprint’

    Peter Daou and James Boyce claim they came up with the site’s signature blend of blogs by prominent people, news aggregation, original reporting and online community-building, originally envisioned as a liberal counterpoint to such conservative-tilting sites as the Drudge Report.

  • Academic Library Autopsy Report, 2050

    In summary, it is entirely possible that the life of the academic library could have been spared if the last generation of librarians had spent more time plotting a realistic path to the future and less time chasing outdated trends while mindlessly spouting mantras like “There will always be books and libraries” and “People will always need librarians to show them how to use information.” We’ll never know now what kind of treatments might have worked. Librarians planted the seeds of their own destruction and are responsible for their own downfall.

  • Notability, deletionism, inclusionism, ∞³

    I’m not a fan of deletionism (more below), but given the current rules around notability, I am either somewhat questionable as an English Wikipedia article subject (using the general, easy to interpret charitably summary of notability: “A person is presumed to be notable if he or she has received significant coverage in reliable secondary sources that are independent of the subject.”) to unquestionably non-notable (any less charitable interpretation, which presumably any “deletionist” would use, thus my user page statement).

  • New year mobile bug strikes French texters
  • 3D Printed Couture Shoes

    Designer Marloes ten Bhömer is well-known for her unorthodox shoe designs, and now she’s apply 3D printing technology to her craft. Pictured above is her latest creation, the Rapidprototypedshoe, showing at the Design Museum Holon in Israel until January 8th.

  • Murder victim takes photo of his killer, milliseconds before he is shot

    The gunman was identified as has since been detained, as was his “lookout”, the man behind the elderly woman in the photo.

  • RSS War! (As Fought On Twitter, Naturally)

    This evening I was just minding my own business and doing what I like to do from time to time, look over data. In particular, I was looking over the 2010 TechCrunch data, because we had earlier posted some data given to us by WordPress.com (which hosts TechCrunch) that seemed a bit odd. Namely, Facebook was nowhere to be found as a top referrer to TechCrunch. That’s weird because as we’re all well aware by now, Facebook was the most visited site in the U.S. in 2010.

  • William Zinsser’s 5 tips for becoming a better writer

    In a recent phone interview, Zinsser talked with me about the craft and shared these five tips for journalists who want to grow as writers.

  • If You Didn’t Blog It, It Didn’t Happen

    Clive Thompson’s newest Wired piece argues that the flow of short-form messages as we see on Twitter and Facebook is encouraging longer meditations in other media. I’ve been thinking about this phenomenon for a while in terms of the impact that it has on me and other bloggers, with the simple premise that I’d like to be writing the content that everyone links to in those media, instead of merely passing around links to other people’s work.

  • US government getting more interested in IPv6

    The US federal government seems to have IPv6 on the brain as of late: both the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) came out with IPv6-related documents recently. The FCC document is a collection of previously known information—it’s not about FCC policy—but they managed to include a few things we weren’t aware of.

  • Mining Peru

    A leading candidate for president in Peru’s April election “took his campaign” to Vancouver, reported the city’s leading daily. Earlier this month Alejandro Toledo — who served a previous term as president — met mining officials, investment bankers and journalists, telling them his government would improve the climate for mineral exploration and mine development.

  • Science

    • Outstanding, superlinear cities

      New York City seems pretty extraordinary: Its residents make more money, produce more stuff and commit more violent crimes than those of any other U.S. city. And New Yorkers are nearly the most creative, as judged by the total number of patents they produce. But according to mathematician Luís Bettencourt, New York is actually quite average, given its size. For a really exceptional place, swap coasts and look at San Francisco.

    • Periodic table gets some flex
    • INSANELY awesome solar eclipse picture

      Earlier today Europe, Asia, and Africa got to see a nice partial solar eclipse as the Moon passed in front of the Sun, blocking as much as 85% of the solar surface. The extraordinarily talented astrophotographer Thierry Legault traveled from his native France to the Sultanate of Oman to take pictures of the eclipse.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • How Republicans and Tea Party will use Congress to bash Barack Obama

      The Republican party is to use the new Congress, which begins on Wednesday, to mount a guerrilla campaign aimed at destroying Barack Obama’s healthcare reforms, slashing the federal budget and preparing the ground for his defeat in the 2012 White House race.

    • Online hypochondriacs make themselves crazy with self-diagnosis

      Of the 12,000 people questioned internationally, 81 percent searched for advice about health, medicines or medical conditions.

      Russians were found to be the most curious, searching for health advice the most on the internet, followed by China, India, Mexico and Brazil. The French search for online health information the least, according to the survey’s findings.

    • I Am Uninsured and Scared

      Many of the people I know are dealing with chronic health issues that require daily medications and ongoing treatments

    • Cuba to help build pharmaceutical plant within three years

      According to the Sefar Website, the state institution is planning to produce Atenolol, Vitamin C, Ethambutol, Ibuprofene, Loratadine and other drugs.

    • Interests in Conflict

      At the annual American Psychiatric Association meeting in New Orleans this summer, 200 protestors chanted “no conflicts of interest” and held up photos of individual doctors outside the convention center. Inside the hall, their charges were verified.

      The meeting’s Daily Bulletin disclosed that the APA president himself, Alan Schatzberg, has 15 links to drug companies including stock ownership and serving on a speakers bureau.

      Doctors on other speaker bureaus like Shire’s Ann Childress and Wyeth’s Claudio Soares gave presentations and workshops that — surprise! — extolled company drugs.

      And signing books, side by side, was the duo now accused of penning an entire book for the drug industry: Alan Schatzberg and Charles Nemeroff.

  • Security

    • Tuesday’s security updates
    • Gigabytes of government data stolen in fake e-card scam

      Several gigbaytes of sensitive government data has been stolen from government and online security staff in a fake White House e-card scam, according to KrebsonSecurity.

    • Hole in VLC Media Player

      Virtual Security Research (VSR) has identified a vulnerability in VLC Media Player. In versions up to and including 1.1.5 of the VLC Media Player, specially crafted files can be used to inject code that will trigger a buffer overflow in the demultiplexer used for Real Media format files.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Two girls race to top of US-Mexico fence in 15 seconds
    • Italy considers taking Brazil to Hague Criminal Court

      Italy is considering taking Brazil to the International Criminal Court in The Hague over its failure to extradite leftist ex-terrorist Cesare Battisti.

      The Brazilian government said it would refuse to hand over the convicted murderer on Friday, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva’s last day as the South American country’s president, sparking an angry response and a crisis in diplomatic relations, with Italy’s ambassador called back to Rome for consultations.

    • Editorial: Doubts about the death penalty emerging in Texas

      But new numbers tell a different story, suggesting that doubt is creeping into the state’s psyche. While Texas is still No. 1 with a bullet, carrying out more than twice as many executions as any other state, the number of new death sentences has plummeted.

      In 2010, only eight Texas juries sentenced someone to die – a record low since capital punishment was reinstated in 1976. Compare that with 1999, when 48 juries in our state handed down death sentences.

    • The Toppling

      How the media inflated a minor moment in a long war.

    • Please boycott us

      The current Israeli government (as well as past governments, whether led by Labour, Likud or the catch all Kadima party) has zero intention of moving forward with negotiations with the Palestinians.

    • Gazan youth issue manifesto to vent their anger with all sides in the conflict

      An anonymous group of students has created a document to express their frustration born of Hamas’s violent crackdowns on ‘western decadence’, the destruction wreaked by Israel’s attacks and the political games played by Fatah and the UN

    • In defense of dignity and freedom

      After 43 years of occupation, Israel has lost the right to be called a state of law

    • Afghanistan: Our mandate for action is finally exhausted

      This year will see the 10th anniversary of the war in Afghanistan and, according to current plans, the beginning of British troop withdrawal. A decade into the military campaign, there is no longer even discussion of winning. The initial objective to release the country from the despotic grip of the Taliban and prevent its use as a safe haven for al-Qaida was achieved within months. Since then, it has only ever become harder to discern what victory might look like.

      There is some clarity on what would count as defeat. If Nato withdrawal leads to the total collapse of Hamid Karzai’s government and a return to Taliban rule, there would be no disguising the humiliation to western powers, nor the increased security threat from jihadi terrorism. Not that President Karzai is an attractive ruler. His administration is corrupt and repressive.

    • Ivory Coast on the ‘brink of genocide’

      Ivory Coast is on the “brink of genocide” and the world must take urgent action, the country’s new ambassador to the UN has warned. Youssoufou Bamba also claimed that some houses were being marked according to the tribe of the occupier.

    • Why are ‘witches’ still being burned alive in Ghana?

      Ghanaians are waiting for their normally slow court system to deliver a verdict in a shocking case that illuminates resurgent beliefs in witchcraft.

    • Research links rise in Falluja birth defects and cancers to US assault
    • Belarus presidential candidates charged over election protests

      At least four former presidential candidates in Belarus are facing up to 15 years in prison after they were charged with “organising mass disorder” during protests over the disputed re-election of hardline leader Alexander Lukashenko this month.

    • Joy Gordon: U.S. responsible for human toll of Iraq sanctions

      Last week the U.N. Security Council voted to lift the sanctions that it imposed on Iraq 20 years ago. Vice President Joe Biden hailed the occasion as “an end to the burdensome remnants of the dark era of Saddam Hussein.”

      What he did not say was that the sanctions were more than burdensome. They triggered a humanitarian crisis that resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of children, and the collapse of every system necessary to sustain human life in a modern society. And he certainly did not mention that among all the nations on the Security Council, it was the U.S. — and the U.S. alone — that ensured that this human damage would be massive and indiscriminate.

    • Mali: whose land is it anyway?

      A new complex of government offices on the banks of the river Niger in Bamako, Mali, is like a wedding cake; pale pink, frosted with decorative detail, its plate glass winking in the sun. It’s called the Administrative City and it was financed by the Libyan-backed Malibya development company. It is a powerful symbol of North African oil money and what it has to offer one of the poorest countries in the world.

    • US military investigates ‘death squad’ accused of murdering Afghans

      The US military is investigating the leadership of an army brigade whose soldiers are accused of running a “kill team” that murdered Afghan civilians, as further evidence emerges of widespread complicity in the deaths.

      A brigadier general is conducting a “top to bottom” review of the 5th Stryker brigade after five of its soldiers were committed for trial early next year charged with involvement in the murders of three Afghans and other alleged crimes including mutilating their bodies, and collecting fingers and skulls from corpses as trophies.

    • Denmark and Sweden arrest five over suspected ‘Mumbai-style’ terror plot

      Police in Denmark and Sweden arrested five men today on suspicion of planning a “Mumbai-style” attack on the Danish newspaper that printed cartoons portraying the prophet Muhammad.

      In a series of raids, Danish police seized an automatic weapon, a silencer, ammunition and plastic strips that could be used as handcuffs, foiling what they described as the most serious terror operation ever uncovered in the country.

    • Indonesia’s ‘slow motion genocide’

      I have a hit list in my hand. Fifteen people are threatened with assassination because they speak out for freedom and democracy, against a massacre. One of them, in a list of civilians including church ministers, youth leaders, legislators and an anthropologist, is a friend of mine.

  • Cablegate

    • US embassy cables: Tsvangirai tells US Mugabe is increasingly ‘old, tired and poorly briefed’
    • WikiLeaks cables reveal differing views of ‘crazy’, ‘charming’ Robert Mugabe

      There are two Robert Mugabes, according to the US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks. One is a frail “crazy old man” who has a young helper kneel at his feet during high-level meetings so he can wash his hands on a silver tray. The other is a physically fit, mentally agile and “charming” leader in full control over all factions in his party.

    • James Richardson’s Collateral Damage in the Guardian: WikiLeaks & Tsvangirai

      Today, James Richardson had an opinion and analysis piece published in The Guardian about the fallout in Zimbabwe from the publication of the 09HARARE1004 cable. Information about Morgan Tzvangirai’s meetings with US embassy officials was disclosed in the Harare cable, and this will likely be the subject of a politically motivated high treason trial brought against Tzvangirai by Mugabe, the ultimate penalty for which is a death sentence.

      It shouldn’t be downplayed how serious it is that Tsvangirai might be facing the death penalty. But there are problems with the conclusions that Richardson draws, and they derive from a worrying looseness with the facts.

      It would surely be unreasonable to claim that merely expressing approval of the sanctions in private meetings with US officials warrants a treason trial. But these are the sorts of concerns that journalists must consider when conducting harm minimization, and the unreasonableness of a particular regime is always something that has to be considered a factor when assessing the consequences of publication.

    • US cable leaks’ collateral damage in Zimbabwe

      When WikiLeaks whistleblowers began circulating in April footage of a 2007 Iraq war incursion in which US military personnel unwittingly killed two war correspondents and several civilians, the international community was aghast at the apparent murder. With sobering questions on the material’s full context largely falling on deaf ears, the group was free to editorialise the scene as it pleased: “collateral murder”.

      But now, with the recent release of sensitive diplomatic cables, WikiLeaks may have committed its own collateral murder, upending the precarious balance of power in a fragile African state and signing the death warrant of its pro-western premier.

    • Transcript of OpenLeaks video
    • Decentralized Infrastructure for Wikileaks

      The idea is simple – each participant can download and run a small program acting as a web server and serves the files and the information from the site. Thus, anyone who wishes to participate and to help WikiLeaks may install on their computer this small software which does not take lots of resources. Resources are not a problem because sites of the WikiLeaks type to not take much space. There is no problem with Internet speed either as the many users together provide a huge capacity, while individually (one session, for a segment of the site) does not require high speed to access small web files; large data files will be transported through the peer to peer distribution technology such as bittorrent, recombining the speeds of the many participants.

    • 2010 Review of Books

      Secrets by Daniel Ellsberg

      A fantastic book. Ellsberg turns out to be an incredible writer and he tells not only his own incredible story of the fight to release the Pentagon Papers (did you know the New York Times actually stole them from his house?), but, even more interestingly, recounts a great deal of fascinating personal experience about what it was like working with McNamara and Kissinger and trying to maintain your sanity in the highest levels of government.

      With the WikiLeaks cables in the news, this book is more relevant than ever. And personally, I can’t wait until Ellsberg’s next book, The American Doomsday Machine, comes out. (Here’s an excerpt from back when he planned to publish it online; since then Bloomsbury snapped it up.)

    • (2010) Wikileaks vs. Pentagon: Excerpts from Aug. 3, 2010 Briefing From Spokesman Geoff Morrell
    • Why Journalists Aren’t Standing Up for WikiLeaks

      If you think prosecuting journalists is the province solely of the sort of authoritarian governments in the developing world and the former communist bloc, think again. In the wake of WikiLeaks’s late-November dump of thousands of diplomatic cables, American provocateurs are urging the prosecution of the site’s founder, Julian Assange, and others who were involved in bringing the cables to the public’s attention. Of course, the alleged leaker, U.S. Army intelligence analyst Pfc. Bradley Manning, will face prosecution for giving away state secrets. Reporters and publishers who receive material from a government leaker, however, are typically considered protected from prosecution under the First Amendment.

    • SPJ statement on ethical journalism in response to latest WikiLeaks release
    • Many Arab officials have close CIA links: Assange

      Top officials in several Arab countries have close links with the CIA, and many officials keep visiting US embassies in their respective countries voluntarily to establish links with this key US intelligence agency, says Julian Assange, founder of the whistle-blowing website, WikiLeaks.

      “These officials are spies for the US in their countries,” Assange told Al Jazeera Arabic channel in an interview yesterday.

      The interviewer, Ahmed Mansour, said at the start of the interview which was a continuation of last week’s interface, that Assange had even shown him the files that contained the names of some top Arab officials with alleged links with the CIA.

    • Anonymous hackers target Zimbabwe government over WikiLeaks

      Zimbabwe’s president, Robert Mugabe, has become the latest victim of online attacks by supporters of WikiLeaks, it was claimed today.

    • Wired journalists deny cover-up over WikiLeaks boss and accused US soldier

      Two journalists with access to a secret transcript of comments by Bradley Manning, the US soldier accused of leaking confidential material to whistleblowing website WikiLeaks, have denied speculation that the material could potentially help a prosecution against Julian Assange.

      The pair, from Wired magazine, said there was nothing “newsworthy” in unpublished internet chat logs between Manning and Adrian Lamo, a former hacker who claims to have discussed the leak with the young intelligence officer and later tipped off the FBI.

    • UK faces legal challenge from family of Bangladeshi allegedly tortured by ‘death squad’

      The British government faces a legal challenge over allegations it was complicit in the torture of Bangladeshi MP Salauddin Chowdhury, who was arrested by the country’s security forces earlier this month.

      Lawyers acting for the 63-year-old’s family claim the training provided by British forces to Bangladesh’s Rapid Action Battalion [RAB], which arrested Chowdury, places the UK in breach of its obligations under international law.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • A wilder future
    • So you want to find a peer-reviewed paper in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report

      This is a post about my website Zvon.org where I’ve created a resource for the IPCC 4th Assessment Report (AR4). I’ve created a searchable database of almost every peer-reviewed paper referenced in the AR4, with links to each paper’s abstract and lists of all the authors. This provides a powerful tool that lets you search the AR4 by author, subject, title and journal.

    • 71 months and counting …

      The doors of perception often hang heavy on rusty hinges. Regardless of motivation, though, good advertising can work like good art. It issues an irresistible invitation to see the world differently. Here we leap from the familiar grumble about congestion, to the unsettling realisation that we are the thing we grumble about.

  • Finance

    • Bank of America to pay Fannie, Freddie $2.8 billion

      Bank of America (BAC) said it agreed Monday to pay $2.8 billion to taxpayer-funded Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac to settle claims that it sold the mortgage giants bad home loans.

      The agreement is the biggest so far between Fannie and Freddie and lenders that sold them loans during the subprime lending boom and before standards were tightened.

    • The Coalition’s apparent disdain for learning

      The Coalition surely cannot wish to impair the education and lives of children, but in that case, why force such philistine cuts on local councils? Why plan to cut 100% of literacy charity Bookstart‘s funding?

    • Rumor: Google Working on Mobile Payments System

      Businessweek put together an article about opening up the NFC market to allow shoppers to just “swipe their phone” at a register to pay for goods. While at a restaurant, you’d be able send half the bill to your dining companion’s phone. Your store loyalty card info may also be stored on your device.

    • Serfing USA

      Along with the staggering theft in broad daylight of Americans’ assets that has occurred in the course of the ongoing financial crisis, as taxpayers funded multi-trillion bank bailouts and banks stole homes through foreclosures with the help of fraudulent paperwork, American companies have also been picking the pockets of workers more directly.

      This second round of paycheck theft has come in the form of stolen productivity gains.

    • Of Luxury Cars and Lowly Tractors

      At least 17,368 Indian farmers killed themselves in 2009, the worst figure for farm suicides in six years, according to data of the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB). This is an increase of 1,172 over the 2008 count of 16,196. It brings the total farm suicides since 1997 to 2,16,500. The share of the Big 5 States, or ‘suicide belt’ — Maharashtra, Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh and Chhattisgarh — in 2009 remained very high at 10,765, or around 62 per cent of the total, though falling nearly five percentage points from 2008. Maharashtra remained the worst State for farm suicides for the tenth successive year, reporting 2,872. Though that is a fall of 930, it is still 590 more than in Karnataka, second worst, which logged 2,282 farm suicides.

    • 2011: calling time on capitalism

      The end of 2010 brought renewed Washington rhetoric, media hype and academic me-too declarations about the US economy “recovering”. We’ve heard them before since the crisis hit in 2007. They always proved wrong.

      But recovery noises are useful for some. Republicans claim that government should do less since recovery is underway (of course, for them, government action is always counterproductive). Likewise, Republicans and many centrist Democrats claim that income redistribution policies are no longer needed because recovery means growth, which means everyone gets a bigger piece of an expanding economic pie. Recovery hype also helps the Obama administration to claim that its policies succeeded.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • China announces Skype ban to protect telco revenues

      China has banned Skype and other Western VoIP providers in a move designed to stop the services from eroding the profits of traditional telecoms operators in the country, China Telecom and China Unicom.

    • A Reality Check on Righteous Privacy Indignation

      When I first heard about The Wall Street Journal’s expose article last weekend, titled “Your Apps Are Watching You,” I was outraged: My iPhone apps where sending my iPhone 4′s Unique Device Identifier (UDID) to marketing companies? They were tracking my location and sharing it with advertising networks? They were sharing my age and gender and ZIP code? And when I spent a certain amount of time navigating some apps, they were tattling on me — communicating how much time I spent with them, how deep into the app I delved? And after they sent this off willy nilly to various marketing companies, the marketing companies built profiles and judged me, then slapped me into a category to sell to advertisers?!

    • Amazon realises it is selling anti-Amazon book

      Online book seller Amazon has taken down an ebook which dishes the dirt on its best seller ranking system.

    • Verdict in Binayak Sen’s a blot on judiciary

      Ilina Sen, wife of rights campaigner Dr Binayak Sen, who has been sentenced to life for sedition, on Sunday stressed the need for judicial accountability. She felt that though the judgment of December 24 has so far affected only her family, but its implications goes much beyond it.

      “The immediate impact of the judgment is on me and my family. But the implications goes beyond and can affect the entire country. We need to take our steps carefully so that our future is secure. It is more on how we select the judges and how monitoring of the judiciary is done. Judicial accountability is more serious subject than corruption,” she said.

    • Never saw such a disastrous beginning of presidency!

      Sorry for being so blunt, but reality looks worse than the apprehensions some of us had. The Hungarian EU presidency also has a remarkably bad press.

    • Blackout for Hungary

      On the 21st of December the party holding the majority of the Hungarian parliament voted in favor of a new media law that is a collection of some of the most oppressive and undemocratic laws from all over Europe and with some worrying changes.

      To show our concern for fundamental rights and free speech we black out its online presence on the 5th January 2011 for 24 hours.

    • Tunisia: Anonymous vs Ammar – Who Wins the Battle of Censorship?

      According to Gawker, Anonymous, the loosely-organised band of hacker activists and vigilantes, attacked the government sites, including that of the president, prime minister, the stock exchange and several ministries, in protest against Tunisia’s censorship of access to whistle-blower site Wikileaks, following the Cablegate affair, and for the country’s repressive censorship.

    • “E-Personation” Bill Could Be Used to Punish Online Critics, Undermine First Amendment Protections for Parody

      A bill that could undermine a new and important form of online activism has quietly worked its way through the California legislature. If signed by the governor, the new law would make it a crime to impersonate someone online in order to “harm” that person. In other words, it could be illegal to create a Facebook or Twitter account with someone else’s name, and then use that account to embarrass that person (including a corporate person like British Petroleum or the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, or a public official).

      Here’s the problem: temporarily “impersonating” corporations and public officials has become an important and powerful form of political activism, especially online. For example, the Yes Men, a group of artists and activists, pioneered “identity correction,” posing as business and government representatives and making statements on their behalf to raise popular awareness of the real effects of those entities’ activities, like the failure to Dow to adequately compensate victims of the Bhopal disaster and the U.S. government’s destruction of public housing units in New Orleans. These sorts of actions regularly receive widespread media coverage, sparking further public debate. Last year, the activists staged a thinly veiled hoax, presenting themselves at a press conference and on a website as the Chamber of Commerce and, in direct opposition to the Chamber’s actual position, promising to stop lobbying against strong climate change legislation. (Not amused, the Chamber promptly sued the Yes Men based on a trumped-up trademark complaint; EFF is defending the activists.)

    • A Clear Danger to Free Speech

      THE so-called Shield bill, which was recently introduced in both houses of Congress in response to the WikiLeaks disclosures, would amend the Espionage Act of 1917 to make it a crime for any person knowingly and willfully to disseminate, “in any manner prejudicial to the safety or interest of the United States,” any classified information “concerning the human intelligence activities of the United States.”

      Although this proposed law may be constitutional as applied to government employees who unlawfully leak such material to people who are unauthorized to receive it, it would plainly violate the First Amendment to punish anyone who might publish or otherwise circulate the information after it has been leaked. At the very least, the act must be expressly limited to situations in which the spread of the classified information poses a clear and imminent danger of grave harm to the nation.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • AT&T Raises U-Verse TV Rates

      You’ll recall that before AT&T entered the TV business they sent their lobbyists around the country to gut the traditional video franchise system, instead replacing it with a system of state-level laws that in many instances were little more that legislative wishlists directly written by AT&T. The laws were sold to states as a way to lower TV prices by speeding competition to the TV space, though in reality they wound up legalizing deployment cherry picking, killing off useful consumer protections, and eroding local community rights (including eminent domain).

    • BT is readying a two tier Internet in the UK

      NET NEUTRALITY OPPONENTS have had an encouraging start to the new year with British Telecom (BT) introducing a service that could create a two tier Internet.

    • BT broadband ‘could create two-tier internet’

      providers the opportunity to charge content owners for high quality distribution of their videos to consumers, say it will create a two-tier internet, the Financial Times said.

    • BT Content Connect service faces ‘two-tier net’ claims

      BT has introduced a controversial service that some say could allow broadband providers to create a “two-tier internet”.


      In addition, net neutrality advocates says that allowing large content providers, such as YouTube, to pay for premium delivery could put smaller companies at a competitive disadvantage, reinforcing the gap.

    • BT announces fibre optic winners

      BT’s attempt to take the nation’s broadband pulse with a nationwide survey and competition called “Race to Infinity” has resulted in six winners. The company initially had said it would hook up five winning areas to superfast broadband in 2012 but it has added another winning entry.

    • US wants SOIs on ‘internet freedom programs’

      The Obama administration says it wants to hear from organisations interested in fostering “internet freedom programs”.

      The US department of state’s Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights, and Labor (DRL) and Bureau of Near Eastern Affairs (NEA) have issued a Joint Request for ‘Statements of Interest’ (SOI) from organisations “interested in submitting proposals for projects that support Internet freedom under the ‘Governing Justly and Democratically’ Foreign Assistance program objective.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Exposing The False Sanctity Of ‘Intellectual Property’

      Even those of us who know better refer to copyrights, patents, trademarks, trade secrets, and other monopolies as “IP.” Some of us excuse this by saying “IP” stands for “Imaginary Property” (the word imaginary is weaker than intellectual) or “Intellectual Privilege” (privilege is much weaker than property), but neither of those phrases have the power of intellectual property. On the other hand, they keep the initials IP, which is good – they can be used wherever “IP” is. But we need to use bigger guns. What this problem calls for is a word of the same potency as property – one that sticks in the head so that once the association is made, it can never be lost.

    • The History Of Intellectual Property Based On Its Use In Books

      As you can see, copyright initially got much less coverage than patents, but that changed somewhere around 1950. Trademark first popped up around 1900, but didn’t really get much attention at all until about 1970 or so. That’s not all that surprising if you’re familiar with the history of trademark law. What struck me as most interesting — by far — is the fact that there’s basically nothing doing on “intellectual property” until you get to 1980. I always find it amusing when people insist that “intellectual property” has been a common term for patents and copyright going back ages, when the reality is that, as a popular term, it’s really quite recent.

    • EFF Calls for Court to Affirm Downsized Copyright Damages

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) urged a federal court Monday to affirm downsized damages in Sony v. Tenenbaum, a file-sharing case in which a jury originally ordered a college student to pay $675,000 for infringing copyright in 30 songs. EFF was represented by the Stanford Fair Use Project and the Samuelson Law, Technology & Public Policy Clinic in filing the amicus brief.

      A federal judge reduced the jury award to $67,500 last July, citing constitutional concerns and basic fairness. The record companies appealed the judge’s decision to the 1st U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. In Monday’s brief, EFF argues that the judge was right to try to ensure that damages in infringement cases bear a reasonable relationship to actual harm.

    • Copyrights

      • As Expected, Court Tells AFP That Posting An Image On TwitPic Does Not Grant Anyone A License To Use It

        One of the more ridiculous lawsuits of 2010 involved AFP — the big news organization that once sued Google claiming that merely linking to AFP news articles was copyright infringement. However, when it came to others’ copyrighted works, AFP took a rather different position. After the Haitian earthquake a year ago, AFP got into a legal tussle with photographer Daniel Morel, who is based in Haiti.

      • Did Scotland Accidentally Create A ‘Use It Or Lose It’ Copyright Law?

        This seems to be upsetting to some, but I find it rather amusing that the only reason why copyright is even considered “property” is because those who wanted to pretend copyright was something more than a limited government granted monopoly started calling it property.

      • The relentless absurdity of piracy

        If you’re an artist, let’s rule out the middleman. In fact, if your music is any good, you don’t need any protection of your music. Your real fans will buy your CD. Others will have a listen by hearing it on the radio, getting it over the Internet, by getting a CD of a friend… But don’t say these people are pirates for being curious! In fact, these people are the most important link in the chain of mouth-to-mouth advertising. Since no middleman need to be paid, the percent of the money paid by a consumer for a CD going to you, will increase enormously. Also songs bought online will have a much higher return. This will make up for the money not gained by songs played on parties or levies pulled on empty carriers or Internet connections.

        If this incentive for a new business model appeals to you, you might want to take a look at what creative commons is all about. In 2012 I hope to start an organisation in Belgium which helps artists to take their music to consumers in a brand new way.

      • Arguing Over The Copyright In Schindler’s List — The Actual List, Not The Movie

        Stern hired Zimet to sell the list, which seems straightforward enough… except that Rosenberg claimed that she has full ownership of the list, via her copy, including a copyright on the list. The court, in its decision basically punted on the question of copyright, because Zimet isn’t looking to publish the list, but merely sell the physical copy of the list — which has nothing to do with copyright. However, the court still does suggest that there may be a (state) common law copyright claim here. However, I have to agree with Eugene Volokh, who suggests the court got this wrong.

      • Anti-Piracy Outfit Threatens Pan-Indian Torrent Site Ban

        AiPlex Software, the Indian anti-piracy outfit that made a name for itself when it allegedly DDoSed several major BitTorrent sites including The Pirate Bay, has returned to the scene. The outfit is once again sending out many DMCA takedown requests to torrent sites. In addition, they threaten to impose a pan-Indian ban by the local Government on sites that dare to contest their requests, even when they have the right to do so.

      • Court Rules That It’s Legal To Sell Promotional CDs

        Last year, we had noted that the 9th Circuit appeals court was set to hear three separate cases, all revolving around the first sale doctrine, which allows you to resell copyrighted works that you possess. The first ruling of the three, back in September, was bad news: overruling a good district court ruling, in Vernor v. Autodesk, saying that anyone could effectively wipe out your first sale rights by simply putting a “license” on it. The second ruling, in MDY vs. Blizzard, was more of a mixed bag. It accepted the basics of Vernor but said that just because you violate a “license,” it doesn’t automatically mean you violate the copyright.

      • ACTA

        • Free Trade: does CETA have it right?

          Interestingly, while Canada stood mute on ACTA, the European Union very firmly put the breaks on ACTA by calling for transparency.

          Who’s zooming who?

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