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Links 2/3/2010: Linux-2.6.33-libre is Released

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  • Differences Between Linux And Windows
    This article will discuss the differences between the Linux and Windows operating software’s; we discuss some of the pro’s and con’s of each system.

    Let us first start out with a general overview of the Linux operating system. Linux at its most basic form is a computer kernel. The Kernel is the underlying computer code, used to communicate with hardware, and other system software, it also runs all of the basic functions of the computer.

  • The Linux Desktop of the Future
    One of the things I love about Linux is the ambitious and creative people behind it. Anyone with a text editor and a compiler is free to make up whatever strange software experiment they want, without needing to get approval from a huge corporation. With all of these amazing ideas flying around, it made me think, “what would the Linux desktop look like in ten or twenty years?” Although my predictions may be insane, I believe that the Linux desktop will have a mind of its own and in most cases, make it’s own choices based on the person using it.


    Joe User doesn’t want to mess with settings, search for programs to install, run cleanup tasks, or basically do anything. He wants to use his computer as needed and that’s all. If his computer monitored his style of use and customized itself for him and his PC, he would get an experience that would be like any other. He would forget he is even using a computer in the first place.

    Although I may be far off, this is how I view the Linux desktop of the future, and it’s also where I see Linux taking a running start and blasting to the top.

  • Desktop

    • Dell’s “Linux Tax” is outrageous
      I knew you had to pay a little extra to get Windows, but $100,000 to get Linux on your Mini 10n netbook? Good lord! What are the manuals written on? The skin of unicorns?

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux-2.6.33-libre released
      Cyberspace, March 1st, 2010---Linux hasn't been Free Software since 1996, when Mr Torvalds accepted the first pieces of non-Free Software in the distributions of Linux he has published since 1991. Over these years, while this kernel grew by a factor of 14, the amount of non-Free firmware required by Linux drivers grew by an alarming factor of 83. We, Free Software users, need to join forces to reverse this trend, and part of the solution is Linux-libre, whose release 2.6.33-libre was recently published by FSFLA, bringing with it freedom, major improvements and plans for the future.

  • Applications

  • GNOME Desktop

    • The one where the designers ask for a pony
      One of the topics Garrett made sure to bring up at the GNOME London UX Hackfest was how us designers could continue to collaborate after the hackfest was over. This has been a recurring issue, as us designers meet every year or so, at GUADEC, at UX hackfests, or at GNOME Boston Summits (or even other FLOSS events like LinuxTag) and we get some great collaborate work done during the events – but it peters off after we get settled in back home after the events.

  • Distributions

    • The ultimate PC repair kit: SystemRescueCD 1.40
      Like everyone who makes his living from computers, I'm always getting called on by friends and family to help them fix their PC problems. Thanks to the Gentoo Linux-based SystemRescueCD, I'm usually able to fix most of their troubles without breaking a sweat.

      SystemRescueCD, like the name suggests, is a system rescue disk. You can use it as a bootable CD-ROM, USB stick, or even over a network connection. While you can use it as a desktop in own right, its real job is repairing crashed systems. In particular, with its disk and file system repair tools, it's great for bring dead hard drives back to life.

    • Noteworthy Mandriva Cooker changes 15 February – 28 February 2010

    • Linux Free Operating Systems – Ubuntu, Debian, Mandriva Installations on an Old PC
      For a long time I have always heard of Linux the free operating system, and have enjoyed many of the free applications that have been ported over to the Windows platform. I finally had a opportunity to take some antique computers and install Linux onto them, and found out how simple and sometimes complicated it can be to get up and running with it.

      Linux really took hold when web hosting SQL servers and HTTP hosting applications saved companies thousands of dollars from paying the Microsoft and Oracle corporations connection fees that could easily going into the thousands of dollars. So instead running a linux server to serve up their databases made much more economic sense and that is why there has been a insurgence of the free operating system over the last years.

    • Gentoo Family

      • Sabayon 5.2 To Ship With 2.6.33 Kernel… and BFS!
        With Sabayon fever reaching boiling point I have some cool news to break to you all, which, as you have guessed from the title is that Sabayon 5.2 will ship with 2.6.33 Kernel with Con Kolivas 1 (ck1) 2.6.33 desktop performance patches (including BFS).

      • Gentoo on a Dell Inspiron Mini 10
        For the rest, so far, it seems that the howto on the Gentoo wiki is good. I installed e17 very painlessly, and will tackle wireless next.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Why Red Hat Surfaced at SAP Partner Summit
        When the SAP Partner Summit started yesterday, Red Hat had a prime sponsorship position at the welcome reception. Read between the lines, and a quiet battle is brewing between Red Hat and Novell; the two leaning Linux service distribution providers are battling for the love and affection of SAP. Here’s why.

      • Fedora

        • Vine Linux 5.1 review
          Vine Linux Vine Linux is a Japanese, RPM-based, multi-purpose distribution. It is developed and maintained by Vinecaves, and it’s based on an earlier version of Fedora. It is one of those distributions that excludes non-free (proprietary) applications from its default installation. Unlike similar distributions, however, it has developed a smart method to make installing non-free applications very easy. This is a review of version 5.1, which was released last week. This also marks the first listing of Vine Linux on this site.

    • Ubuntu

      • Matt Asay’s Top Priorities and Goals
        At the beginning of February Matt Asay moved from Alfresco to Canonical, and Matt’s blog activity already reflects his career change and I asked Matt about his top priorities in the new role.
        It has now been three weeks since I started with Canonical, and each day it becomes clearer to me just how massive is the opportunity before Canonical and the Ubuntu community, as well as the great care that must be taken to ensure that we realize this potential.

        It’s also becoming clear what I, in particular, can do to help, coming after the successful tenure of Jane Silber, who was Canonical’s COO and is now our CEO:
        1. Enterprise. When most people think of Canonical and Ubuntu, they think “desktop.” This isn’t surprising, given Ubuntu’s popularity on traditional desktops and industry-changing netbooks alike. I have been amazed by how deep and wide Ubuntu’s penetration is in this market. It’s much bigger than I’ve ever seen reported.

      • Hands-on: Ubuntu goes social, gains Me Menu in 10.04 alpha 3
        Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux distribution, is planning to overhaul the desktop panel and integrate social networking features in Ubuntu 10.04, codenamed Lucid Lynx. One of the key components of this effort is the Me Menu, which shipped in the Lucid alpha 3 last week.

        The Me Menu, which Canonical unveiled in December, provides a unified interface for managing your presence on instant messaging and social networking services. A text box that is embedded in the menu allows users to publish status messages to all of their accounts. The menu also provides easy access to the standard account and identity configuration tools.


        Ubuntu 10.04 is a Long-Term Support (LTS) release, which means that Canonical intends to provide updates on the desktop for three years instead of the usual 18 months. During the development cycle for an LTS release, the Ubuntu developers focus on stabilization rather than introducing a lot of new features. Feature freeze is now in full effect, which means that the developers are going to be working primarily on bugfixes between now and the final release in April. The first beta release will come next month.

      • Interview With Melissa
        PS: How did you get involved with Ubuntu and free software in general?

        MD: Whilst doing a web development diploma, a teacher, a BSD fanatic and probably the most influential teacher I ever had, was in the habit of interpreting syllabi modules such as "install an operating system" fairly openly. He taught his students how to install Linux and BSD as well as Windows (amusing aside: he also taught my mother to do the same!) and so began my obsession with Linux. I played around with live distributions for a while then installed Ubuntu on an old computer. I soon found I did not need XP any more.

      • Launchpad Moving to Closed Source Auth
        Soon there will be a new release of launchpad and along with some new feature and bug fixes will be the move to only using an OpenID provider for the authentication. (This incidentally is why ground control 1.5 is broken currently)

  • Devices/Embedded

    • New Freescale Chip Could Herald Cheaper Kindle
      The i.MX508 applications processor, as Freescale has christened it, integrates an ARM Cortex-A8 processor core and E Ink’s hardware-based display controller into a system-on-a-chip that the company claims delivers twice the performance of its previous eReader chips (it runs at 800 megahertz). It also happens to be more energy-efficient and significantly cheaper.

    • Phones

      • Open Source Re-writes the Rules for Mobile
        This was simply not possible with older, proprietary mobile operating systems, because you couldn't hack them to work on different hardware. With Android, that all changes, opening up a whole new world of mobile re-use. As the same post rightly points out:
        This story shows me once again how important Android is to the mobile OS space. The idea of taking older phones and using a free, powerful OS to breath new life into them is the promise of open source software like Android.
        Indeed, and another instance of where free software really does give you new and useful freedoms.

      • How smartphones will disrupt PCs
        In a future post, I’ll explain why the same economic forces driving the convergence pretty much guarantee that the software on them will be open source.

      • Android

        • They're here: Cheap Android smartphones
          New low-cost smartphones running Google's Android software have been launched in Taiwan recently and the good news is they should start showing up just about everywhere soon.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Entourage Edge shapes up and is shipping out
        Built to handle internet, ebooks, games, music, videos and notes, the Edge could appeal to the general consumer, student, or business user; Entourage sees the Edge as being functional for all walks of life. The bad news however, is that compared to say, the Haleron Android tablet, it isn’t cheap at $499.00 to start.

    • Tablets

      • Need a tablet? Android based iLet Mini HAL shipping March 1 for $199
        With all of the tablet-fever recently, you may have sat back and thought to yourself, “do I need one of these things?” Even with Apple trying to convince us that the next form of computing is going to be tablet and gesture based, many people including myself are still questioning if a tablet is something we really need.

        It looks like the company Haleron thinks we need a tablet in our lives and decided to enter the game with their 7″ Android 1.6 based iLet Mini HAL. It isn’t the most powerful device; running a 600MHz VIA CPU with 128MB of RAM but for a low $199 price tag you can’t really ask for too much. The Haleron iLet Mini HAL will also have 2GB of onboard memory as well as 10GB of “cloud” storage for all of your stuff and will start shipping next week.

      • MeeGo: The Linux iPad?
        It's may be a twee name but MeeGo could be the next big thing.

        It sounds like something a child would say, or the name of a baby's toy, but MeeGo has much bigger aspirations in mind. For those that weren't completely sucked into the Mobile World Congress last week, and consequently missed the announcement, MeeGo is the name of a new - yes another - mobile phone operating system launched at the conference. In truth it's not really so much new as being a new collaboration. In this case between Intel and Nokia and their respective Moblin and Maemo operating systems.

Free Software/Open Source

  • 1 March 2010: Kolab Systems AG re-launches Free Software Groupware business
    CeBIT 2010 in Hanover sees the re-launch of the Kolab Free Software business into the Kolab Systems AG.

    Professional service, certified packaging, quality assurance, and a strong partnership model characterise the new business built on a proven solution with 5 years of productive use. Customers and partners have the opportunity to meet Georg Greve, CEO of Kolab Systems AG, and Dr. Paul Adams, COO of Kolab Systems AG during CeBIT 2010 to discuss business opportunities.

  • creator launches enterprise micro-blogging support
    StatusNet has launched StatusNet Enterprise Network (SEN), an enterprise support subscription programme for companies who want to run their own Twitter-style micro-blogging system using the open source StatusNet platform. StatusNet, previously known as Laconica, created the service as an open alternative to Twitter's closed source service. It now plans to offer its support for enterprises with packages which run from one day response support (during business hours) for $1,000 per annum, to one hour response at any time for $10,000 per annum. Initial customers for StatusNet's services include Canonical and Motorola.

  • Free your documents, save your information!
    Will you be able to read your documents 20 years from now? Every day, millions of computer users like you edit text and spreadsheets, take pictures and record audio and video. What if you couldn't read your private letters anymore, or even open that album with pictures from your honeymoon? What if you couldn't exchange those files with friends, because the software used by each one of you can't talk to each other? To help you make your documents future-proof, we celebrate Document Freedom Day on March 31.

  • March Project of the Month - Arianne
    March’s Project of the Month, Arianne, has the distinction of being one of SourceForge’s longest-running projects. It was established in 1999 as an umbrella project that spawned several subprojects. Today, the most notable are:

    * Marauroa - an open source framework and engine to develop turn-based and real time games

    * Stendhal - a fully fledged and completely free multiplayer online adventures game (MMORPG)

    * Marboard - an early prototype of an easy to use vector graphics program allowing live collaboration over the Internet.

  • Swimming Upstream: 'Salmon,' Google's Open Source Social Web Aggregator
    Google engineers and the open source community have begun laying the groundwork to support an open social Web. The group has been working on a protocol that would aggregate conversations at the source, bring them back to any Web site related to the stream, and avoid spam and duplicate posts as well.

    The Salmon protocol aims to connect social networks that today cannot share posts and information. The goal to syndicate and aggregate conversations related to the original post that live in silos across the Internet would create what Google calls a social graph.

  • Florida State U. Pulls Out of Kuali Open-Source Software Project
    That news drew reassurances of sustainability from officials with Kuali; with Sakai, a course-management system; and with Zotero, a program for managing research sources.

  • Mozilla

    • Elements of Firefox overhaul arrive for testing
      Mozilla, faced with new competitive pressures, has begun work on three separate, significant changes to Firefox.

      First is a new JavaScript engine that--with a transfusion from the project behind Apple's Safari--should run Web-based programs at least 30 percent faster. Second is a new graphics engine for Windows that will take advantage of hardware acceleration for graphics and text. And third is a programming tool to help bring to fruition a new system for Firefox add-ons.

      Mozilla made notable gains against the dominant Internet Explorer since Firefox's launch five years ago, but for much of that time, Microsoft's browser barely budged. Now Google's Chrome has burst onto the scene, Apple is marketing Safari for Windows as well as Mac OS X, Opera development is moving fast, and, potentially most significantly, Microsoft is showing signs of serious interest in rejuvenating IE.

    • Firefox afterburner for JavaScript
      JaegerMonkey (also called JägerMonkey in those parts of the community that do umlauts) is to combine the two concepts. Before a function is interpreted, the compiler converts it into generic assembler code. If it detects any loops it hands over to TraceMonkey, otherwise it directly executes the code and bypasses the slow interpreter. First test runs indicate a performance increase of 30 (32-bit code) to 45% (64-bit code) in the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark.

  • Databases

    • PostgreSQL Optimizer Bits: Semi and Anti Joins
      The series “PostgreSQL Optimiser Bits” will introduce the strategies and highlights of the PostgreSQL optimiser. We start today with a new feature of PostgreSQL 8.4: Semi and Anti Joins.

      Since version 8.4, PostgreSQL has been offering a new optimisation strategy for the optimisation of certain queries: Semi and Anti Joins.

  • Funding

    • Can open source reduce costs?
      In 2005 BECTA published “A study of the spectrum of use and related ICT infrastructure costs” which concluded that training and support costs accounted for 60% of total cost for any software solution. The report also found that open source software reduced these costs by 40-50%.

      Further to reducing training and support costs, open source can reduce the cost of customisation for specific environments.

  • Licensing

    • Which Licence for Open Source Digital Voting?
      Here's a provocative thought:
      We’ve dared to suggest that the GPL as it stands today, or for that manner any other common open source license, will probably not work to adequately provide a license to the software sources for elections and voting systems technology under development by the Open Source Digital Voting Foundation.
      It's an important issue, since applying open source software to digital voting is something that you really want to get right - for the sake of open source and democracy.

    • Open is the New Closed: How the Mobile Industry uses Open Source to Further Commercial Agendas, Andreas Constantinou
      Open source licensed software carries four basic freedoms that provide the right to access, modify, distribute and contribute to the software. These freedoms have been expanded into ten cardinal points that form the criteria that every open source license must adhere to, and which are defined by the Open Source Initiative.

      A handful of different licenses are used in the vast majority of open source projects; namely the GPL, LGPL, APL, EPL, MPL, BSD and MIT. Interestingly, the GPL which is known as a strong copyleft license, is most often used in personal computer and Internet projects, but is rarely used in the mobile industry. Instead, the licenses used most often in mobile software are weak copyleft, such as the EPL, or permissive licenses, such as the APL, due to handset manufacturer concerns for downstream liabilities.

      Licenses are Half the Story

      What’s often missed in open source discussions is how open source licenses tell only half the story. The governance model, the implicit rules defining transparency and influence into an open source project, is the small print that determines the power dynamics around that project.

    • When Nerd Lawyers Clash: WordPress and the GPL
      I recently ran across a couple of interesting posts from Mike Wasylik over at Perpetual Beta arguing that the GPL should not apply to themes.

      The first (and better, IMHO) is “Why the GPL does not apply to premium WordPress themes“. (The second, and lesser is “Why the GPL/Derivitive Works debate doesn’t matter for WordPress Themes“)

      Here’s a shocker: I actually like Mr. Wasylik’s criticism, not because I fully agree with it – I don’t – but because the author lays out a reasoned case. I do not exaggerate when I say this is the first rational criticism of anything related to the GPL I can recall seeing.

      Compared to the normal “GPL==communism” trash that passes as discussion in many circles, Mr. Wasylik’s writings are damn near scripture.

  • Openness

    • Campaign welcomes decision to drop proposed cabinet papers exemption
      The government’s announcement that it has dropped its proposal to exempt cabinet papers from the Freedom of Information Act, and that it will reduce the 30 year rule to 20 years, was welcomed by the Campaign for Freedom of Information today.

    • The open society
      America is in the lead on data access. On his first full day in office Barack Obama issued a presidential memorandum ordering the heads of federal agencies to make available as much information as possible, urging them to act “with a clear presumption: in the face of doubt, openness prevails”. This was all the more remarkable since the Bush administration had explicitly instructed agencies to do the opposite.

    • Open Access linked to Alabama shooting
      On 15th February, for instance, The Daily Kos pointed out that the International Journal of General Medicine charges authors to publish their papers. This fact alone, The Daily Kos seemed to imply, meant that the paper would have been inadequate. But there was more.

    • Free Our Data response to the DCLG consultation on OS Free
      The Free Our Data campaign was co-founded in March 2006 by Charles Arthur and Michael Cross with the aim of persuading government that non-personal datasets created by government-owned agencies and companies and organisations should be made available for free reuse without licence restrictions.

    • Democracy Club is up and running
      Democracy Club is up and running. Last week meetings were held up and down the country organised by volunteers involved with the new initiative to bring transparency to government. The project is an out-growth of TheyWorkForYou and other associated websites of MySociety founded by the ever inventive Tom Steinberg.

      Thanks to the formidable resources it began with, with the emails of all those who've signed up to those sites on its database, Democracy Club already has over 3000 volunteers spread across 641of 650 of the UK’s constituencies.

    • European research funders throw weight behind UK open access repository
      Four European research funders have today added their support to the open access repository UK PubMed Central (UKPMC) by agreeing that the life sciences research outputs made possible with their funding are made freely available through this repository.


  • Forgot your ThinkPad password? Get new hardware
    Users of Lenovo ThinkPad laptops may be in for a nasty surprise if they forget their main (supervisor) hard drive password.

    The Chinese hardware manufacturer refuses to reset hard drive (BIOS) security passwords for laptops even if they are covered by warranty. Lenovo, which bought IBM's ThinkPad laptop business in 2005, cites security concerns for this established but little-publicised policy.

  • Health

    • Uzbekistan: The psychologist is sentenced to 7 years of jail for HIV/AIDS prevention
      Ozodlik (Uzbek Service of RFE/RL) reports that Maxim Popov, 28-year old psychologist and the author of "HIV and AIDS today" book, was sentenced to 7 years of jail in Uzbekistan.

      He was arrested in January, 2009 while the guilty verdict was announced in September, 2009. However, only today the general public was able to learn about his imprisonment.

    • The Curious Case of Wang Yahui
      Readers of ESWN may already be familiar with the name Wang Yahui, perhaps the first man ever to have been killed by a glass of water.

    • Chile's farmed salmon disaster
      Who could have predicted that the mass forced farming of an exotic fish to please the Wal-Mart low-price palate would result in a horrific virus-borne plague of anemia?

    • NHS denies pre-election stitch-up
      The Department of Health has denied accusations from the Tory party that it is busy rewriting contracts with IT suppliers in a massive stitch-up ahead of the election.

      The Tories told the BBC that the NHS's Connecting for Health was busy trying to get contracts signed within the next four weeks in order to force any incoming government to honour them. The €£12.7bn scheme is several years behind schedule and has already been threatened with serious cuts by Chancellor Alistair Darling.

  • Security

    • Newborns' blood used to build secret DNA database
      Texas health officials secretly transferred hundreds of newborn babies' blood samples to the federal government to build a DNA database, a newspaper investigation has revealed.

      According to The Texas Tribune, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) routinely collected blood samples from newborns to screen for a variety of health conditions, before throwing the samples out.

    • Giving innocent people back their DNA helps rapists, says Gordon Brown
      I recently blogged how a shameless Labour party is making Tory plans to remove innocent people's DNA from police databases, in compliance with the European Court's ruling, one of their central lines of attack.

    • UK Police Promise Not To Retain DNA Data, But Do Anyway

    • The Last Four Minutes of Air France Flight 447
      The crash of Air France flight 447 from Rio to Paris last year is one of the most mysterious accidents in the history of aviation. After months of investigation, a clear picture has emerged of what went wrong. The reconstruction of the horrific final four minutes reveal continuing safety problems in civil aviation.


      It's not known whether he actually reached this altitude. Three hours after leaving Rio, Captain Dubois contacted Brazilian air traffic control for the last time. "Flight level 350," he reported. It was to be his last communication with the outside world.

    • Some random terrorism-related numbers
      24 terrorism-related charges is a mere 0.01% of searches. Or 1 terrorism-related charge per 8,351 searches.

      But wait – just because you’re charged, doesn’t mean you’ll be prosecuted. The police lay charges, but the Crown Prosecution Service decide whether to prosecute them. Only 12 of those 24 people charged were actually tried, which is 0.006 of the original searches, or 1 prosecution per 16,703 S.44 searches.

    • Office of the Identity Commissioner - Annual Report 2009
      The Identity Commissioner should publish a PGP Public Encryption Key, to help establish a secure channel for whistleblower leaks and complaints, which the Home Office should not be tempted to try to snoop on. This would also demonstrate to the public that the Identity Commissioner understands some basic data security, privacy and personal anonymity issues, which are relevant to the National Identity Scheme.

    • RSA Conference to Spotlight Threats, Security Strategies
      From data protection to cloud computing to application development, this year’s RSA Conference is keeping an eye toward practical strategies for dealing with today’s cyber-threats.

    • Hackers expose security flaws with 'Elvis Presley' passport
      In the name of improved security a hacker showed how a biometric passport issued in the name of long-dead rock 'n' roll king Elvis Presley could be cleared through an automated passport scanning system being tested at an international airport.

    • Cyberwar hype was cooked up to sell Internet-breaking garbage to the military
      Have you been hearing a lot of gloom-and-doom talk about the need for American "cyberwar" preparedness lately? The coming cyberwar threat? Cybergeddon?

      Me too.

      Wired's Ryan Singel makes a good case in this article that cyberwar hype -- like terrorism hype -- has been fuelled by government contractors who have a product to sell, and who don't give a damn about the consequences to the net or to freedom. In this case, it's Michael McConnell, the Bush adminstration's director of national intelligence, now working as vice president at the "secretive defense contracting giant" Booz Allen Hamilton. He's been going before Congress and in the op-ed pages of the WaPo to declare that cyberwar is coming, and that we need to break the Internet so that every online action can be traced to a person and a place by the NSA.

  • Environment

    • Climate Change Deniers Being Led by...Climate Change Believer?
      I think this is more compelling evidence for the proposition that many of the people who are most invested in discrediting climate science are intellectually dishonest, doing it for political or economic gain, rather than out of sincere conviction. We've seen similar admissions made by energy company execs who are funding climate denial at the same time they accept the science.

    • Arundhati Roy on Enclosure
      Via Iain Boal – whose forthcoming book, The Long Theft: Episodes in the History of Enclosure, is going to rock the world – comes this lengthy and studied analysis from Arundhati Roy on the process of enclosure in India, and the criminalisation and extermination of people whose only crime is to live above certain minerals.

    • The Attack on Climate-Change Science Why It's the O.J. Moment of the Twenty-First Century
      Twenty-one years ago, in 1989, I wrote what many have called the first book for a general audience on global warming. One of the more interesting reviews came from the Wall Street Journal. It was a mixed and judicious appraisal. “The subject,” the reviewer said, “is important, the notion is arresting, and Mr. McKibben argues convincingly.” And that was not an outlier: around the same time, the first president Bush announced that he planned to “fight the greenhouse effect with the White House effect.”

      I doubt that’s what the Journal will say about my next book when it comes out in a few weeks, and I know that no GOP presidential contender would now dream of acknowledging that human beings are warming the planet. Sarah Palin is currently calling climate science “snake oil” and last week, the Utah legislature, in a move straight out of the King Canute playbook, passed a resolution condemning "a well organized and ongoing effort to manipulate global temperature data in order to produce a global warming outcome" on a nearly party-line vote.

    • Europe Plans a North Sea Grid
      Undersea cables will transport wind, hydro, and solar power

    • Whaling worsens carbon release, scientists warn
      A century of whaling may have released more than 100 million tonnes - or a large forest's worth - of carbon into the atmosphere, scientists say.

      Whales store carbon within their huge bodies and when they are killed, much of this carbon can be released.

  • Finance

    • Bringing subprime sexy back
      Near the end of "The Big Short," Michael Lewis' much-anticipated stab at explaining what just happened to the global economy, the author unloads a dump truck worth of jargon while describing a dilemma facing one of his protagonists.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Chinese scientists worry about Google pullout
      Google's threat to pull out of China may have been met with a shrug in some circles, but there's a population of Chineses citizens who appear to be genuinely worried about the prospect: scientists. Nature conducted an informal survey of Chinese researchers, and got nearly 800 responses. Well over 90 percent of those who responded say they use Google for searches, and 48 percent felt that the loss of Google would create a significant problem for their research.

    • The End of Anonymity
      But of course, the "opt-in" part is just a fig-leaf. It could be done just as easily even if they don't opt in, provided you have access to their photos, from a passport application, say, and a belief that you have a right - nay, duty - to keep watch over them, purely for their own protection, you understand.

    • Control Orders
      Control Orders remain a cruel act of degradation of people who have never been convicted of anything, utterly incompatible with human rights. Parliament will today vote to renew them again - expect the parties to compete in their gravitas as they underline the threat to our very existence and way of life (sic) from terrorism.

    • German High Court Limits Phone and E-Mail Data Storage
      Germany's highest court has rejected a controversial law requiring data on telephone calls and e-mail traffic to be stored for six months for possible use by law enforcement. Data stored so far must be deleted immediately, and strict controls must be put in place before the law can come into force again.

    • Is it time to defend our rights?
      Thanks to a robust policy on the part of his current internet service provider, his site has remained online despite the best efforts of those who are embarrassed by its contents.

      Until last month, that is, when disappeared from the internet after Network Solutions disabled access to the site's domain.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Universities protest against government wi-fi plans
      Libraries and universities are protesting about plans to make them police users of wireless networks.

      The government's Digital Economy Bill includes plans to make them responsible for what is done over free wi-fi.

      The plans imply that libraries, universities and cafes offering free wireless will be responsible if people use it to pirate movies and music.

    • How do I hate thee, Digital Economy Bill? Let me count the ways…
      Last week’s official advice (Word doc) on the bill ‘would effectively “outlaw open Wi-Fi for small businesses”‘ said Lilian Edwards, professor of internet law at Sheffield University.
      “This is going to be a very unfortunate measure for small businesses, particularly in a recession, many of whom are using open free Wi-Fi very effectively as a way to get the punters in,” Edwards said.

    • The Death of Open Wifi in the UK
      This bill simply has "Fail" written all the way through it; the only good news is that once they realise the implications, the entire tourist and hospitality industries will be fighting against it...

    • The Digital Economy Bill's Series of Unfortunate Events ....
      The Digital Economy Bill is meant to position the UK more strongly in the digital era. Unfortunately, it might better be called the Analogue Economy (Preservation) Bill.

      As the Open Rights Group have already made clear, the Government has admitted that cafes, hotels, conference centres, pubs, local councils and other open wi-fi providers will face disconnection. Of course, they can appeal, but the whole impetus of the Bill seems to be aimed at preventing the UK from taking advantage of the digital age.

    • UK Gov nationalises orphans and bans non-consensual photography in public
      The Digital Economy Bill : what's yours is ours

      The end game is now in sight. The Digital Economy Bill is now expected to become law within the next 6 weeks. It introduces orphan works usage rights, which - unless amended, which HMG says it will not - will allow the commercial use of any photograph whose author cannot be identified through a suitably negligent search. That is potentially about 90% of the photos on the internet.

    • Censorship and the DIA filter
      Officials at DIA have assured me that they do not want to extend the filter, even to cover the other parts of s3(2), or I would not have agreed to be a part of the process at all. As the ZDNet article says, they have watched the train wreck that is the Great Wall of Conroy (my words, not theirs) and are determined to not make those sorts of errors.

    • Spanish Presidency leading Europe towards Digital Inquisition?
      A disturbing document on Internet policy written by the Spanish Presidency of the EU Council has been published. While asking Member States to detail their guidelines for the repression of illegal activities on the Internet, the Presidency amalgamates child pornography, xenophobic and racist speech and copyright infringement.

      Elaborating on this unacceptable confusion, the document goes as far as saying that "the Internet becomes an instrument of social regression". Such a ruthless instrumentalisation of fear in order to impose regressive policies - like the filtering of content on the Internet - is not tolerable in the European Union.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Bogus Copyright Claim Silences Yet Another Larry Lessig YouTube Presentation
      Nearly a year ago, we wrote about how a YouTube presentation done by well known law professor (and strong believer in fair use and fixing copyright law), Larry Lessig, had been taken down, because his video, in explaining copyright and fair use and other such things, used a snippet of a Warner Music song to demonstrate a point. There could be no clearer example of fair use -- but the video was still taken down. There was some dispute at the time as to whether or not this was an actual DMCA takedown, or merely YouTube's audio/video fingerprinting technology (which the entertainment industry insists can understand fair use and not block it). But, in the end, does it really make a difference? A takedown over copyright is a takedown over copyright.

    • Network Solutions Confused About The DMCA
      Last week we wrote about how Microsoft abused the DMCA to force Cryptome offline via Network Solutions. Since then, there's been some interesting scrambling by all parties involved. Mircorosft claimed that it never meant to take Cryptome down entirely, just the one document (though, it no longer is asking for it to be taken down). But that doesn't make much sense, because Network Solutions only had the ability to take down the whole site, not pieces of content. Either way, what really confused us was Network Solutions response to the DMCA takedown, which was that it waited until Cryptome filed a counternotice to take down the site. That's not how the DMCA works.

    • Private copying levies take their toll on Italian families denounces Altroconsumo (15 January 2010)
      In the course of a year, an average family will spend up to €100 more thanks to a new government Decree fixing copyrighti levies. Unbeknown to them, consumers buying electronic goods such as blank CDs, USB keys, memory sticks or multimedia mobile phones will be forced to pay a levy for the right to make private copies.

    • Filesharing becomes the latest French hobby
      Cerise Club, a French Internet company, said that illegal file sharing is a "national sport" and this is despite the fact that French copyright legislation is among the most repressive in the world.

    • Anti-Piracy Lawyers “An Embarrassment To Creative Rights Industry”
      After mountains of controversy built up in the wake of the ‘pay up or else’ letters sent to thousands of alleged file-sharers, one would think other lawyers might be put off following the same track, but not so. Tilly Bailey & Irvine are the new kids on the block and have just been labeled by a Lord as an “embarrassment to the rest of the creative rights industry.”

    • Filtering, Piracy Surveillance, and Disobedience
      Abstract: There has always been a cyclical relationship between the prevention of piracy and the protection of civil liberties. While civil liberties advocates previously warned about the aggressive nature of copyright protection initiatives, more recently, a number of major players in the music industry have eventually ceded to less direct forms of control over consumer behavior. As more aggressive forms of consumer control, like litigation, have receded, we have also seen a rise in more passive forms of consumer surveillance. Moreover, even as technology has developed more perfect means for filtering and surveillance over online piracy, a number of major players have opted in favor of “tolerated use,” a term coined by Professor Tim Wu to denote the allowance of uses that may be otherwise infringing, but that are allowed to exist for public use and enjoyment. Thus, while the eventual specter of copyright enforcement and monitoring remains a pervasive digital reality, the market may fuel a broad degree of consumer freedom through the toleration or taxation of certain kinds of activities.

    • Special interests have captured the copyright debate
      Progressive politics stands for justice and understanding, and facing up to corporate special interests to defend the public good. Yet somehow those corporate special interests have captured the debate on copyright enforcement and the future of the internet.

      A huge lobby – Labour’s Tom Watson MP reports at least 100 full time employees – is being employed to campaign for disconnection of internet accounts when copyright infringement may have taken place.

    • New music acts to labels: 'We won't tweet'
      The music industry is in a major state of crisis and some up and coming acts are reluctant to dirty their hands with social networking.

      Some new artists signing at both major and indie labels are telling execs there that they'll make music, but don't expect them to do Facebook or Twitter. The labels are saying back that the days when performers--even mega-superstar performers--can keep fans at arms length are over.

    • Church sues Hollywood for using Rio's Christ statue in movie
      Brazil's Catholic Church is suing Hollywood for using unauthorized images of Rio's famous giant Christ statue in its disaster movie blockbuster "2012," a lawyer involved in the case told AFP Wednesday.

      Rio de Janeiro's archdiocese is demanding unspecified damages and interest from Columbia Pictures for showing the iconic landmark being destroyed in a worldwide apocalypse in a film that came out last year, the archdiocese's attorney, Claudine Dutra, said.

    • ACTA

      • Act on ACTA: Write to Your MEPs
        One knock-on effect of that obsessive secrecy is that even ordinary parliamentarians are forbidden from seeing the drafts, which makes the negotiations not only a travesty of democracy, but also a more direct slap in the face of those politicians. Happily, the latter are beginning to wake up to the fact that they are being sidelined here, and starting to become more forceful in their demands for access to ACTA.

      • Important Leaked Document on ACTA
        So, whatever its undoubted faults in other respects, the UK government seems to be trying to do the right thing as far as transparency is concerned, and it deserves kudos for that. Interesting, too, to see that the main hold-out seems to be Hungary, which surprised me given its positive attitude to open source.

        Good to see that more and more countries are backing transparency - and that more and leaks are providing it by other routes.

      • Antipiracy provision in treaty riles EU
        The European Commission has pledged to make sure a global treaty known as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement will not force countries to disconnect people for unlawfully downloading copyrighted music, movies, and other material.

      • Biggest-ever ACTA leak: secret copyright treaty dirty laundry motherlode

      • Major ACTA Leak: Internet and Civil Enforcement Chapters With Country Positions
        On the heels of the leak of various country positions on ACTA transparency, today an even bigger leak has hit the Internet. A new European Union document prepared several weeks ago canvasses the Internet and Civil Enforcement chapters, disclosing in complete detail the proposals from the U.S., the counter-proposals from the EU, Japan, and other ACTA participants. The 44-page document also highlights specific concerns of individual countries on a wide range of issues including ISP liability, anti-circumvention rules, and the scope of the treaty. This is probably the most significant leak to-date since it goes even beyond the transparency debate by including specific country positions and proposals.

      • More ACTA Leaks; Reveal Different Positions Taken By Different Countries
        Michael Geist has a list of some other interesting tidbits, and Jamie Love has worries about how the damages section 2.2 is much stricter than existing laws, and seems to conflict with existing US laws (but ACTA can't change US law, right? Right?). Love also notes the oddity of the EU crossing out language (inserted by the US, mind you) that would protect "fair use, fair, dealing, or their equivalents."

      • ACTA: haunted by the Telecoms Package
        The latst ACTA leak reveals provisions which are reminiscent of the Telecoms Package copyright amendments. But it also reveals that it presses much harder on the liability of the ISPs. Could ACTA make them use deep packet inspection?

        The latest document to leak from the Anti-counterfeiting trade agreement ( ACTA ) discussions reveals active negotation over ISP liability.

      • KEI notes on the EU leak of the ACTA text
        On 12 February 2010, the Council of the European Union distributed a table drawn up by the Commission Services, outlining the positions of various counties regarding civil enforcement and the special requirements relating to the Internet. A copy of this 44 page document was leaked on March 1, 2010, and is attached to this blog.

      • Danish activists demand to know why their governments block ACTA transparency
        Last week, a leaked Dutch memo on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a secret copyright treaty, identified the countries whose negotiators were opposed to bringing transparency to the negotiation process. The worst offenders were the US, South Korea, Singapore and Denmark.

        Now, activists in these countries are banging the drum, demanding to know why their governments are standing in the way of public participation in a treaty-making process that will have wide-ranging implications for all Internet users, and it's working.

      • InternetNZ to take public message to ACTA negotiators

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