Bonum Certa Men Certa

Links 26/5/2010: Fedora 13 Celebrations



GNOME bluefish

Contents





GNU/Linux

  • Why GNU+Linux is > GNU/Linux and > just Linux
    Let's get the obvious out of the way, we advocate for computer software users' freedom. The Free Software Foundation and GNU Project are responsible for most of the software we use everyday. At InaTux Computers, we of course use the GNU Compiler Collection (GCC) to compile custom Linux kernels (when customers want them), as well as other custom software modifications customers may want (such as hardware optimization). Our compiling is of course done in GNOME Terminal running GNU BASH, and most software we compile require the GNU C Library, GTK+, gtkmm, etc.




  • Desktop

    • 6 things Microsoft needs to do before I’ll take Windows seriously
      While I’m going to address security later in this article, let me say one thing about Windows Updates: you need them. If you are not applying updates at least monthly, you will regret it, unless you’re one of those oddball system administrators who doesn’t MIND finding that your servers are part of a botnet, or have been turned into a porn server, or a spam server, or more on the stability side of things, are ridden with bugs that Microsoft has deemed worthy of fixing in a patch or a hotfix.

      As for my second truth there, in my experience Windows servers act “funny” when they’ve been up and running (and providing some service, not just sitting idle) for longer than a month or so. Odd things will happen… you might see some out of control paging file usage, bizarre error messages, services that are in some sort of “starting” or “shutting down” limbo (which only a reboot can fix), you know the drill.

      My point is, Windows servers need frequent reboots. If you’re a Windows IT person and you don’t think that only a month of uptime isn’t ridiculous, then you obviously haven’t done anything other than Windows in your data center, because I’m here to tell you: it’s nuts.

      Microsoft needs to address stability first and foremost, and while they’re at it, and while we’re on the subject of uptime, they need to engineer things in a way that won’t require a reboot for seemingly EVERY SINGLE UPDATE.

      My last maintenance evening I had to reboot one particular server four times in order for it to take all of its updates, and it had only been two weeks since its last round of them. That’s ridiculous. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve actually HAD to reboot a Linux machine after applying pushed-out updates for it.

      [...]

      I always find it funny when I read articles that are mostly FUD that say things like “Linux is not ready for the desktop” and “not ready for the enterprise”, because as I just discussed, the reality of the situation is that well, neither is Windows. Whether you’re running XP or Windows 7, Server 2003 or Server 2008, you’ll find that compared to the alternatives, you’re running something that requires constant attention, constant hand holding, constant reboots, constant patching, constant reloading, troubleshooting, more hardware requirements, and more security-mindedness in your administrative approach, just to do its job.


    • I've Installed Linux, Now What?
      How do you deliver the bad news to someone who is upset, technically unsavvy and has just overwritten their Windows system with Linux?

      He had installed a second hard disk in his system and wanted to put Linux there. The problem was that when he installed it, he did so to the primary (Windows) disk.

      I looked up a PC Recovery business in the phone book for him and politely told him, "Good luck." I unplugged my phone until the next morning.

      I'll never know what happened to that guy or if he ever recovered his files or his Windos system. But, it makes me wonder if that scenario could play out today with our newer, cooler, smarter installers. Could that happen on Ubuntu, for example


    • Teen builds computer lab for Traceway residents
      Next, he installed a Linux-based operating system that would be easy to use. The Ubuntu operating system had the added benefit of being free.






  • Audiocasts







  • Kernel Space

    • The kernel column #87
      The past month saw steady progress toward the final 2.6.34 kernel release, including the announcement of initial Release Candidate kernels 2.6.34-rc1 through 2.6.34-rc4. The latter had an interesting virtual memory bug that added a week of delay (I will cover that in a future issue), and of course there was already an incompatible release of the nouveau graphics driver that was covered in last month’s column. But such issues aside, the 2.6.34 kernel is otherwise shaping up to be a good release, including a number of new features of some note as well as fixes for various performance regressions that have affected some of the more recent comparative benchmarks against older releases.






  • Applications







  • Desktop Environments



    • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

      • The Trinity Project Picks Up Where KDE 3.5.10 Left Off
        Hey, pst! Yes, you! I know you've been crying yourself to sleep at night ever since those mean, mean people developing the K Desktop Environment decided to radically change the way your favorite DE worked and release the dreaded "4" version. Good news! There's no more need to get over it and move on with your life, as, apparently, the God of open source decided to bring you a fork of KDE 3. Ok, maybe not God, but a company/team that goes under the name of Pearson Computing.


      • Sneak preview for coming KDE SC 4.5
        KDE SC 4.5 is in feature freeze right now. Therefore, I decide to share some of early screenshots with you. In General there are no major changes. It is all about polishing and fixing bugs. There is a lot of under-hood changes in libs which as enduser we cannot see. KDE SC will be release in August 2010. Now I will let you enjoy the screenshots.


      • Qt Multimedia/Mobility vs. Phonon: FIGHT!!!
        Well it's not really like that, but I guess those involved can think about it a bit like that at times!. For some background, Phonon is a Multimedia framework that was included in Qt 4 as far as I understand it, it was developed outside Qt, but was adopted (please correct me if my history is incorrect here). It was designed to give application developers easy access to media playback systems, be it MP3 music or new fangled WebM video! Rather than implement any of the complex stuff itself, Phonon hands off the actual decoding and playback parts to existing media frameworks. Originally Qt wrote a GStreamer "backend" for Phonon and this was the only available backend on Linux in the early stages (others were available for other platforms too). I personally think that GStreamer was a good choice. I think it is a very powerful system, but it's not for the feint hearted. I wont begin to pretend that I understand it (although I have hacked my way through some GST code!), but the principle of it's operation seemed to fit the needs of the Phonon project very nicely.




    • GNOME Desktop

      • Mutter 2.31.2 Brings Performance, Theme Enhancements
        Over the past 48 hours or so there has been a horde of GNOME 3.0 development packages being checked in for the forthcoming development snapshot (GNOME 2.31.2). Yesterday we reported on the Clutter 1.3/1.4 enhancements and now there's a release of Mutter, which happens to use Clutter, and it too boasts some interesting changes from the previous development release.


      • GNOME Shell 2.31.2 Brings Exciting Changes Too
        The GNOME Shell 2.31.2 also boasts some interesting changes, including a magnifier option being added for accessibility reasons (though it may find uses for general purposes too), the GNOME Shell clock is now configurable, IM notifications within the message tray now use Telepathy and support in-line messaging, a performance event log that tracks events has been added to the GNOME Shell Performance Framework, an initial application menu has been added to the top panel, many interface enhancements, many Shell Toolkit enhancements, and quite a few bug/build fixes.


      • The Default Nautilus Will Soon Look A Lot Like Nautilus Elementary










  • Distributions

    • UCK your own Linux distro!
      That’s why you might want to construct your own distribution. Perhaps you know exactly how a good Linux distro should be, and every time you install Linux you set up specific applications and settings. Set your own distro up and bingo, every time you load it onto a new machine it is exactly how you like it.

      There are tutorials online how to roll your own Linux distro but here’s a new tool which makes it dead simple to base something on the ever-popular Ubuntu.


    • Paris Descartes University's UFR Biomédicale turns to Mandriva to improve its infrastructure management
      Paris Descartes University's UFR Biomédicale has installed the Mandriva Linux operating system on client desktops and servers to ensure a permanent stability and optimise the work of its 4,500 students.

      The 'UFR Biomédicale' of Saints-Pères embraces within the Paris Descartes University different medical and life science academic units and 14 laboratories attached to the CNRS and INSERM research institutions.




    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat: The one true open source company?
        Oracle boasts an extensive list of free and open source software, now more than ever with its recent acquisition of Sun. IBM is a key contributor to the Linux kernel and dozens of other high-profile open source projects. Google has released millions of lines of code of Android, Chrome, and GWT (Google Web Toolkit) for public use.




      • Fedora

        • Fedora 13 Propels Open Source Innovation
          The Fedora Project, a Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT) sponsored and community-supported open source collaboration, today announced the availability of Fedora 13, the latest version of its free open source operating system distribution. Fedora 13 combines some of the latest open source features with an open and transparent development process. Fedora 13 includes a variety of features and improvements to enhance desktop productivity, assist in software development, and improve virtualization.


        • Fedora 13 – Linux for Applephobes
          That focus on the more tech savvy, contributing users is reflected in Fedora 13, where you'll find open source, 3D-capable graphics drivers, excellent Python tools, some very nice color management tools, and other less flashy improvements.


        • Linux Outlaws 151 - Fedora 13 Release Special
          We celebrate the release of Fedora 13 and have a look at the new features and improvements.


        • Work underway to keep Xen support in Fedora 13
          As for KVM, Red Hat is, of course, a major contributor to Kernel-based Virtual Machine (KVM), a project the company committed to when it purchased KVM's pioneer Qumranet in 2008. Red Hat's commercial version, RHEL 6.0, was the first RHEL version to have dropped support for the Xen hypervisor.


        • Fedora 13 Lightscribe labels
          Nelson Marques and James Findley (siXy) have put together a set of LightScribe disc labels for Fedora 13. I don’t know if there is a way to use them using free software (I don’t have a LightScribe drive) – I know you can use LightScribe’s proprietary app in Fedora to make them. Anyway, these seem to be popular every release so here they are fresh for your F13 arch of choice, thanks to Nelson and James!


        • Fedora 13 Linux "Goddard" Takes Flight
          The Red Hat-sponsored Fedora Project today officially released the Fedora 13 Linux distribution, codenamed "Goddard," with improvements aimed at both new and experienced Linux users.

          The new Fedora 13 release comes six months after Fedora 12's debut and continues to enhance the Linux operating system experience for its users. Fedora 13 includes improved virtualization, along with other developer, desktop and server improvements.


        • The Coding Studio OS Screenshots: Fedora 13 Screenshots










    • Debian Family

      • SimplyMEPIS 8.5
        The last time I looked at SimplyMEPIS was the 8.0 release. In this review I’ll be taking a look at the latest version, SimplyMEPIS Linux 8.5. SimplyMEPIS is based on Debian, and it uses KDE as its desktop environment.

        [...]

        Summary: SimplyMEPIS offers a viable, KDE-based alternative to some of the better known desktop distros. It’s worth considering if you want a workhorse desktop distro rather than a showhorse.

        Rating: 4


      • Ubuntu/Canonical

        • Ubuntu's Unity Desktop: Reality vs. Rationales
          Over the past year, Ubuntu has become one of the centers for usability design on the Linux desktop. You might criticize this effort because it takes place in the distribution, rather than as contributions to the GNOME desktop, but at least it is happening. Moreover, this effort is being discussed far beyond the outer reaches of the Ubuntu community.

          Part of the reason for this discussion is because Ubuntu's popularity automatically makes it influential.

          Yet an even more important reason for the interest is that Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth has made usability his personal obsession. Not only has he withdrawn from managing the business affairs of Canonical, Ubuntu's commercial arm, in order to devote his full attention to it, but -- what really matters -- he blogs about usability decisions as they are announced.


        • Five Usability Improvements in Ubuntu 10.04
          While no operating system is perfectly intuitive, Ubuntu gives its competitors a good run when it comes to usability. Other Linux distributions, and proprietary operating systems, certainly do some things better than Ubuntu. But all in all, I’m impressed with the attention to user-friendliness evident in Lucid.


        • Canonical Landscape 1.5 Extends Ubuntu Linux Management for Enterprises
          Landscape 1.5 is being officially announced this week, providing users of Ubuntu Linux with new management and deployment capabilities.

          The new Landscape follows the debut of Ubuntu's most recent Long-Term Support (LTS) release, the latest edition of the open source Linux distro aimed at providing enterprises with the ability to maintain and upgrade their deployed Ubuntu distributions. Now with the Landscape 1.5 release, Canonical, the lead commercial sponsor behind the Ubuntu Linux operating system, is extending its management platform as it looks to further grow its enterprise business.


        • Variants

          • Linux Mint 9 Review
            Chromium and Flock now in the repositories! Nice!! My biggest wow moment concerns the AWN dock but I think I may have to do a review of it on its own merits :D The Hardware Analysis tool is going to be very useful in terms of getting the information needed to do troubleshooting, especially with the copy to clipboard option which is very useful when trying to get help with an issue..just copy and paste the problem right into the forum!

            So my overall, unbiased opinion? I give Linux Mint 9 a solid A for performance and an A/A- for appearance. I’ve heard various sources saying this is up there for top distro release this year and I believe it. Linux newbies, this one’s for you!


          • Linux Mint 9: Solid, Simple, Shiny
            Overall, I find Linux Mint to be a fine desktop distro. Being based on Ubuntu, the package selection is huge and you can also get decent support for third-party apps like Dropbox. It's a good GNOME-based distribution, though it doesn't stay perfectly in step with upstream GNOME default applications. It's also a pretty solid distro. I haven't run into any major glitches or problems since starting with the Mint RC a few weeks ago.

            Linux Mint has quite a lot to offer. If you're new to Linux or want a distro to recommend to someone who's new to Linux, Mint is one of the best to start with. The inclusion of "restricted" codecs and such is likely to rankle some Free Software purists but can help get new users transitioned to Linux a bit more quickly. Since Mint 9 is based on an Ubuntu Long Term Support (LTS) release, users have support for the desktop through 2013, which makes it even more ideal for new users. If you haven't settled on a distro yet, or want one to recommend to friends and family, Mint is an excellent choice.


















  • Devices/Embedded



    • Android

      • Want Android On Your iPhone? It’s Ready For Download
        Last month we reported that an enterprising young hacker named David Wang had managed to successfully port Android on to the Apple iPhone. Wang noted the release wasn’t far away from making his work available, just that he needed time to clean his code before releasing the binaries for public consumption.


      • Android UFO/Chopper/Blimp2.0: Parrot AR.Drone [VIDEO]
        You probably wouldn’t be surprised to learn that one of the coolest products being demonstrated at Google IO was an Android device but you probably wouldn’t have guessed it is a vehicle… and not the Chevy Volt.


      • Why Google’s Android Could Rule Connected Cars
        The recent linking of General Motors and Google for a handful of services related to the plug-in Chevy Volt marks an intersection for automakers and Internet giants. The two industries — one little changed for centuries decades and marked by steel and manufacturing, the other constantly morphing over the past decade and ruled by chips and algorithms — will come together more and more as “connected” cars begin to offer a new platform for development, innovation and revenue.


      • Android Has Won — Time for Chrome OS to Move Along?
        Yes Google held a press conference where co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin talked up the Chrome Web Store, but that was pretty much it. That’s because while Chrome is still waiting for its day in the sun, Android has taken on a life of its own. By the time the Chrome OS becomes available via devices on store shelves, who knows where Android will be.








    • Tablets

      • Dell launches Streak tablet PC across Europe
        PC giant Dell has joined the increasing number of firms offering a tablet device.

        The world's number three computer manufacturer says that its Streak - also known as the Mini 5 - is the first of a number of planned products.

        The Streak is smaller than most tablets with a 5in (12.5cm) screen and runs Google's Android operating system.










Free Software/Open Source

  • AbiWord: The Underappreciated Word Processor
    Network effects being what they are, OpenOffice.org tends to suck all the oxygen out of the room when talking about open source productivity applications. But OpenOffice.org isn't the only game in town for open source word processing. One of the best, if underexposed, open word processors is AbiWord.


  • CloudCourse: An Enterprise Application in the Cloud
    At Google we have experts on everything from Python to penguins. However, connecting our expert teachers to eager students around the globe can be a complicated business. To that end, we are excited to release our new internal learning platform, CloudCourse under an open source license. Built entirely on App Engine, CloudCourse allows anyone to create and track learning activities. CloudCourse also offers calendaring, waitlist management and approval features.


  • EditShare Announces First Ever Lightworks Open Source platform
    Though its not Blender related news it is open source news for editing which I felt warranted mention here. I’ll let you in the community figure out if its worth it or not. From what I’ve read it on their site, it looks impressive. Have any of you ever used it?




  • Multimedia

    • The Very Best Open Source Tools For Video, Audio and Graphics
      If you cycle back 10 years, the sophistication of and available tools for working with video, audio, and graphics--including working with them online--lagged far behind what is available today. The improvement in the available tools has hardly been lost on the open source world, where some best-of-breed tools are available at absolutely no cost. In this post, you'll find a roundup of our most significant posts on open source tools for video, audio and graphics. There are many gem applications to be found here.


    • Is VP8 open source?
      The license that Google has chosen for VP8 isn't technically an approved license from the OSI (Open Source Initiative), the group that decides what is and what isn't a bona fide open source license. At least that's the view of former Sun Chief Open Source Officer Simon Phipps.


    • Google open codec 'not open,' says OSI man








  • Mozilla

    • The Firefox plugin checker needs to be checked


    • An Open Web App Store


    • Mozilla Weave Being Rebranded as Firefox Sync


    • quick update on Korea
      Kim Tong-hyung, staff reporter for the Korea Times, is the only reporter providing English-language coverage of the news on the Microsoft monopoly in S. Korea.

      I wanted to share two recent articles from Kim Tong-hyung, one covering the event that Mozilla’s Lucas Adamski attended at the end of April and another covering the “anti-virus” industry in Korea, which is one of the incumbent industries that would be significantly negatively affected if the Korean government moved away from the current PKI-based encryption architecture.








  • Databases

    • PostgreSQL 9.0 is now in Betaphase
      The PostgreSQL developers' community recently published the first Beta version of the new 9.0 release. Over 200 new functions and improvements feature in this new version.








  • CMS







  • Business

    • The behavioral economics of free software
      Behavioral economics explores the way in which our irrational behavior affects economies, and the results are curious and subtle. For example, the riddle of experience versus memory (TED video), or the several examples in “The Marketplace of Perception” (Harvard Magazine article). I think it would be illuminating to examine free software through this lens, and consider that the vagaries of human perception may have a very strong influence on our choices.

      Some questions for thought:

      * Does using free software make us happier? If so, why? If not, why do we use it anyway? * Do we believe in free software because we have a great experience using it, or because we feel good about having used it? (Daniel Kahneman explains the difference) * Why do we want other people to use free software? Is it only because we want them to share our preference, or because we will benefit ourselves, or do we believe they will appreciate it for their own reasons?


    • Status.net: Raising Social Capital and Paying Customers
      One of the startups that calls Montreal home is Status.net, "a platform that enables communities, brands and organizations to incorporate micro messaging into their own domain." I caught up with CEO Evan Prodromou by phone to talk about some of the marketing strategies they employ. While he darted around Montreal in his car (using a hands free unit, of course) he told me about how they strategically position their commercial products alongide the messaging for their open source offerings.








  • BSD/UNIX

    • UNIX still a hit for mission-critical systems
      The majority of companies using UNIX will be sticking with it for their mission-critical systems, even though use of the operating system has declined in recent times.

      Almost two-thirds running UNIX-based platforms will keep them, in comparison to the 38 per cent who will be dumping the platform in the next three years, according to a survey from Coleman Parkes Research on behalf of HP.


    • Bordeaux on PC-BSD Screenshot tour
      This is a Bordeaux on PC-BSD 8 Screenshot tour. This tour will show you how easy it is to install Bordeaux on PC-BSD and start installing Windows Applications and Games. Bordeaux has a single dependency on Zenity once Zenity is installed Bordeaux will install and run on your PC-BSD system.






  • Project Releases

    • Digital Networks Releases Openvirt 2.0
      Today Digital Networks released Openvirt 2.0. Openvirt provides a full virtualization platform for Linux, Windows, Solaris and FreeBSD virtual machines.

      Openvirt provides commercial quality virtualization that is completely free of license fees. A web based control panel makes for easy management.








  • Government

    • CeBIT 2010: AGIMO says open source needs to lift its game
      Despite a new level of openness through the recent adoption of eGovernment and web 2.0 tools, the Australian Government Information Management Office (AGIMO) is still cagey when it comes to procurement of open source software.

      Commenting at CeBIT Australia 2010, John Sheridan, division manager at AGIMO's Agency Services Division hinted that open source suppliers would need to lift their levels of support if they were to make further inroads into the public sector.

      "Our policy on open source remains one of informed neutrality," he said. "Our view is, rather than preferring one particular sort of open source software to another, to make sure our software can be properly supported.








  • Openness







  • Programming

    • Damian Conway on Perl and its future
      I'm just starting work on a new book...on Perl 6. I hope it will appear some time next year.

      As far as second editions go, I'd certainly like to revisit "Perl Best Practices". I've learnt so much more myself about good programming in the past five years. The community's notion of "best" - and its available tools - have also developed considerably in that time. But, if I were to look at a second edition, it would certainly be a few years further down the track. There are just so many other projects and so few available tuits.








  • Standards/Consortia

    • HTML5 Video on Ubuntu
      There’s not much to say about my actual experience playing HTML5 video in Chrome, other than that it worked great, and with little effort. After enabling HTML5 on Youtube, videos were decoded extremely smoothly and with only about half the CPU load of flash videos. Vimeo also worked seamlessly with HTML5 enabled. The only drawback on both sites is that fullscreen playback is not yet supported, due to browser limitations.

      Much to my dismay, Hulu has yet to announce plans to support HTML5 in desktop browsers. If that changes, I’ll have gotten everything I want out of life.






Leftovers

  • Newly open source BitTorrent protocol aims to unclog tubes
    The company behind the BitTorrent technology has opened the source code of its uTorrent Transport Protocol (uTP). A production-ready implementation of the protocol code in C++ is now available from GitHub under the MIT license.


  • Intel Puts Mobile CPUs on a Diet for Ultra-Thin Laptop PCs
    Intel today broadened its number of ultra-low voltage (ULV) processors to include a complete range, from Celeron to Core i7, for the super-thin laptop market. This announcement builds on Intel's January introduction of laptop processors, which included only a few low-end ULV processors.




  • Science







  • Security/Aggression

    • Enhance Desktop Security Using Virtualization
      You might have seen this scene during the climactic shoot-out in any number of movies and television shows—the hunted character lures his hunters into a room full of mirrors, who fire their weapons at the reflections, mistaking them for the real person. Like most of what we see on the screen, this probably isn’t a very plausible scenario in real life (who gets so confused by a reflection, besides my cat?). But it is an apt metaphor when we think about using PC virtualization to add a layer of defense against malware and other types of security compromises.


    • Act now to keep your medical records private
      The new coalition government has committed itself to rolling back state intrusion, with plans to scrap the ID card scheme, the National Identity Register, and the ContactPoint database.


    • No refunds for ID card pioneers
      The government is set to refuse refunds to people who have forked out good money for ID cards.

      There will be a bill to abolish the cards, along with electoral and parliamentary reform - a move to equally-populated constituencies and to the Alternative Vote system - in the Queen's Speech tomorrow.

      But thousands of people persuaded to buy an ID card should not expect a refund, the Sunday Telegraph reports.


    • Councils carry out over 8,500 covert surveillance operations
      More than 8,500 covert surveillance operations on members of the public have been carried out by 372 local authorities in Britain in the past two years – the equivalent of 11 a day, according to a study published today.

      The research by the pressure group Big Brother Watch names Newcastle upon Tyne as the worst local authority in the country for the use of its powers under the Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act, having spied on its residents 231 times over the past two years.

      West Berkshire and Walsall were close behind, however, with 228 and 215 Ripa authorisations respectively since April 2008.


    • [Bruce Schneier:] Scene from an Airport
      I've gotten to the front of the security line and handed the TSA officer my ID and ticket.

      TSA Officer: (Looks at my ticket. Looks at my ID. Looks at me. Smiles.)

      Me: (Smiles back.)

      TSA Officer: (Looks at my ID. Looks at me. Smiles.)


    • An old scam still works
      Bank insider issues extra card, steals money, customer blamed – after all, chip and pin is infallible, isn’t it? Expecting banks to keep decent logs might be too much; and I supppose it’s way too much to expect bank fraud staff to read the research literature on their subject.








  • Environment

    • Not just oil: US hit peak water in 1970 and nobody noticed
      The concept of peak oil, where the inaccessibility of remaining deposits ensures that extraction rates start an irreversible decline, has been the subject of regular debate for decades. Although that argument still hasn't been settled—estimates range from the peak already having passed us to its arrival being 30 years in the future—having a better sense of when we're likely to hit it could prove invaluable when it comes to planning our energy economy. The general concept of peaking has also been valuable, as it applies to just about any finite resource. A new analysis suggests that it may be valuable to consider applying it to a renewable resource as well: the planet's water supply.


    • Hoaxers target Shell with bogus Nigeria news
      Hoaxers targeted oil and gas major Royal Dutch Shell Plc on Monday, sending a bogus statement to news organisations about the company's operations in Nigeria.


    • Shell halts Nigerian offshore drilling in visionary new remediation plan
      In advance of the 18 May Shell Annual General Meeting (AGM), Royal Dutch Shell and its joint-venture Shell Petroleum Development Company (SPDC) are announcing sweeping plans to clean up all areas of the Niger Delta where they operate, compensate local communities for past injuries, and institute a local stakeholders program that will contribute to lifting the region out of poverty.


    • Community’s Recovery Still Incomplete After Exxon Valdez Spill
      The tanker Valdez spilled 11 million gallons of crude oil, staining 1,500 miles of coastline, killing hundreds of thousands of seabirds, otters, seals and whales, and devastating local communities. The spill stopped after just a few days. Recovery may not have an end date


    • Chinese engineers propose world's biggest hydro-electric project in Tibet
      Mega-dam on Yarlung Tsangpo river would save 200m tonnes of CO2 but could spark conflict over downstream water supply


    • Third runway plan for Heathrow scrapped by BAA
      Protesters and local groups rejoice as expansions at Stansted and Gatwick also ruled out by coalition government


    • US nuclear talks risk collapse over Middle East plan
      A month-long conference in New York to shore up the nuclear non-proliferation treaty and prevent the global spread of atomic weapons is faced with possible collapse owing to wrangling over the goal of a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East.


    • Revealed: how Israel offered to sell South Africa nuclear weapons


    • Mass Lizard Extinctions Looming; Global Warming Blamed
      No matter what we do to fight global warming, at least 6 percent of lizard species will go extinct by then, due to the greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere, the study says.


    • UN says case for saving species 'more powerful than climate change'
      The economic case for global action to stop the destruction of the natural world is even more powerful than the argument for tackling climate change, a major report for the United Nations will declare this summer.








  • Finance

    • Reforms put Wall Street in its place
      The most important provision in the bill may be the Volcker Rule, which restricts the ability of banks to trade on their own account. Goldman Sachs became the poster child for this kind of trading when it was revealed that the firm was selling mortgage-backed securities designed by an investment partner who was shorting mortgages. These trades led to charges from the Securities and Exchange Commission and prompted a federal criminal investigation into the firm's dubious practices.








  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • More conservative textbook curriculum OK'd
      Texas standards often wind up being taught in other states because national publishers typically tailor their materials to Texas, one of the biggest textbook purchasers in the country.

      Approval came after the GOP-dominated board approved a new curriculum standard that would encourage high school students to question the legal doctrine of church-state separation – a sore point for social conservative groups who disagree with court decisions that have affirmed the doctrine, including the ban on school-sponsored prayer.








  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • In search of "Internet freedom"
      But it's hard to find consensus - even amongst liberal internationalists with different cultural and religious backgrounds - about how to find the right balance between our right to free expression and assembly and our right to privacy and security. Even trickier is the question of what is "hate speech" and what constitutes justified criticism or even satire of one religion by members of another. The Global Voices community has come together around a set of common values around freedom of expression and communication. Our Manifesto begins: "We believe in free speech: in protecting the right to speak — and the right to listen. We believe in universal access to the tools of speech." But all you need to do is to read this post about Pakistani reactions to the "Draw Mohammed Day" Facebook page, then read this post by another member of our community, to see how far we are from having a consensus about how civilized cross-cultural discourse should or shouldn't be managed on global Internet platforms.


    • Bad Stuff About Facebook, But Not What You Think
      Meanwhile, be very careful about saying bad things about Facebook or you could get banned from the site, as happened to a radio station that dared link to Leo Laporte's sayonara Facebook show. The way Facebook is treating negative comments and bad press, you'd think they were Apple.


    • Muhammad cartoon sparks threats to South African newspaper
      Staff at South African newspaper received threatening phone calls today after publishing a satirical cartoon depicting the prophet Muhammad.


    • Jafar Panahi 'may soon be freed'
      Tehran's prosecutor general has asked the Islamic revolutionary court to reconsider the continued detention of the celebrated Iranian film-maker, Jafar Panahi, raising hopes that he may quickly be freed.


    • U.N. body adopts resolution on religious defamation
      A United Nations forum on Thursday passed a resolution condemning "defamation of religion" as a human rights violation, despite wide concerns that it could be used to justify curbs on free speech in Muslim countries.


    • Wang Keqin and China's revolution in investigative journalism
      Death threats from criminals and official wrath fail to silence zealous watchdog journalists


    • Australia Can Search Laptops, Phones for Porn
      Make sure you dispose of anything baring flesh on your mobile phones and laptop drives before heading to Australia.

      A spokesperson for the Australian sex industry is warning visitors that local customs officers suddenly have an "unfettered right" search laptops and mobile phones for porn. Apparently Incoming Passenger Cards now ask visitors if they're carrying adult material. Visitors must answer truthfully or face criminal charges if the material is in possession and the answer was marked "No." This means home-made movies in the bedroom or footage of you taking a shower must be reported.


    • Why Should Customs Officers Be Determining What Counts As A Copyright Circumvention Device?
      Some of the earliest fears around ACTA concerned some of the earliest draft suggestions, that would increase the power of border patrol/customs officials to look for infringement at the border, including the possibility of searching your laptop or iPod for infringing content. While those provisions mostly seemed to drop out in the negotiations, it doesn't mean that there aren't still efforts to get closer to that sort of system. Mart Kuhn, at Public Knowledge, has an interesting post, looking at a bill in the Senate that would give customs the authority to determine if things crossing the border were "circumvention devices" as prohibited by the DMCA. Of course, as the article notes, determining what is and what is not a circumvention device is not particularly easy -- as various lawsuits have demonstrated. So it's quite questionable as to why anyone thinks border patrol agents should be involved in that process at all.


    • Silvio Berlusconi faces barrage of criticism over telephone bugging law
      Judges, prosecutors and journalists say law is simply to shield Silvio Berlusconi from further embarrassing revelations


    • Turin police raid Scientology chapter
      Police raided a local Scientology chapter here and discovered a hidden archive which contained not only information on the group's members but also on the sect's 'enemies', the Turin daily La Stampa reported on Thursday.

      Police were acting on a warrant issued by magistrates who have opened a probe into the religion which is suspected of violating laws governing the handling of personal information.


    • Facebook, Google and Twitter: custodians of our most intimate secrets
      The next time you hear the phrase "internet privacy", don't think of teenage infatuations heatedly committed to Facebook, of lads puking down their Ted Bakers and sticking the cameraphone footage on YouTube, or of some hack writer tweeting about the progress of his colonic cancer. No, consider instead AOL Subscriber 4417749.

      [...]

      Except that list, coupled with a little patience, was all anyone needed to yank down AOL's privacy screen. A couple of New York Times journalists showed how easily it could be done. Trawling though the hundreds of searches made by Subscriber 4417749 for local estate agents and gardeners, through to "numb fingers", "dog that urinates on everything" and "60 single men", they tracked down Thelma Arnold, a 62-year-old widow and pet-owner from Lilburn, Georgia. "My goodness, it's my whole personal life," she said as the reporter read AOL's search records to her. "I had no idea somebody was looking over my shoulder."


    • Cloud Computing Prompts Push for Privacy Law Rewrite
      Members of a broad coalition advocating an overhaul of a more than two-decades-old privacy law took to Capitol Hill Friday afternoon, convening a briefing for congressional staffers to champion the cause.

      They argued that the Electronic Communications Privacy Act, or ECPA, has fallen lamentably out of step with the way that people are using computers and the Internet, particularly with regard to cloud computing and location-based services.


    • German watchdog tells firms to do own US privacy checks
      German privacy watchdogs have told companies to conduct their own checks of US companies' conduct before passing personal data to them, even if they are signed up to the EU-US 'Safe Harbor' data protection scheme.








  • DRM

    • Open University Academics Object to BBC DRM Proposals
      Following up on our recent open letter to Ofcom on the BBC HD DRM proposal, a large group of Open University academics has written to the Michael Lyons, the Chairman of the BBC Trust, notifying him of our objections to the idea. The full text of the letter is below.
      We write in connection with the BBC’s current application to Ofcom to vary the terms of its licence for its HDTV service by encrypting signals using DRM. We have written separately to Ofcom to oppose this proposal but write to you now because we believe it raises several important issues for the BBC Trust.

      First, and procedurally, the BBC management’s application to Ofcom raises the question (interestingly identified by Diana Coyle and Chris Woolard in their book for the Trust, 'Public Value in Practice') whether a new application should be made to the Trust, analogous to that for the “bookmarking” function of the iPlayer. We believe that the encryption proposal is so fundamental a change from the original HDTV proposal, and one which raises such fundamental issues for the BBC, that it should be the subject of a new Public Value Test. You will be aware that DRM is a kind of encrypted digital lock used to control access to digital files and signals. In order to access the BBC HD signal a viewer will require equipment containing the relevant decryption key.

      Second, and substantively, the proposal to encrypt the HDTV signal using DRM breaks the clear and, seemingly unequivocal, undertaking made in the BBC’s Building Public Value (published in 2004), and underwritten by the last Chairman of the BBC Governors, Mr Michael Grade, that the BBC would not encrypt its services. Building Public Value stated (p 10) that “the BBC will always be on the side of universal provision, open access and unencryption”.

      Third, and also substantively, the proposals to use DRM in the BBC’s HDTV signals breaks from the Trust’s policy, stated (at p 9) in the PVT authorisation of the HDTV proposal, that “Any move from the currently proposed HD standards on picture resolution should not disadvantage consumers who invest in HD equipment which meets the current standards”.








  • Publishing







  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Diplopedia a success at US Department of State
      Study looks at 5-year history of creating and implementing the State Department's use of Wikipedia-like knowledge and platform

      A new study released today by Rice University and the U.S. Department of State's (DOS) Office of eDiplomacy looks at the five-year history of creating and implementing Diplopedia, DOS' use of the Wikipedia-style diplomacy Web 2.0 tool.


    • What's Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption
      Shareable contributor Rachel Botsman and co-author Roo Rogers just released a video previewing What's Mine is Yours: The Rise of Collaborative Consumption, their new book being released in September about sharing.

      One thing I have in common with Rachel is that I've learned that sharing is much bigger than we had thought. In a recent example, I was quite surprised by the growth of bikesharing. According to the video, it's the fastest growing form of transportation. All the major cities in the US has a bikesharing program in development. Who knew?


    • Why we share: a sideways look at privacy
      And that’s what happening about digital privacy and sharing. We’re learning. And there are going to be mistakes. And there will be hurt. And out of all that new value will emerge. People like danah help us and safeguard us, because they’re looking at some of these issues deeply. People like the Web Science Trust are looking into this. People like the Berkman Center are looking into this. Even people like the World Economic Forum are looking into this. Because it matters.


    • FluidDB Aims To Become The Wikipedia Of Databases
      A few years ago, Terry Jones sold his Barcelona apartment so that he could single-mindedly pursue a rather radical idea. What if a database worked like Wikipedia—it was not only readable by everybody, but also writeable by everybody?


    • Seeds of doubt in Delhi
      Caught in the middle of a fierce domestic debate, the Indian government is wavering over the introduction of GM aubergines – and the rest of the world is watching closely. Joydeep Gupta reports.


    • Monsanto Ranked Least Ethical Company In The World
      Monsanto, the Missouri-based agriculture giant, ranked dead last in the Covalence ethical index. The company, which leads the world in the production of genetically-engineered seed, has been subject to myriad criticisms. Among them: the company is accused of frequently and unfairly suing small farmers for patent infringement.




    • Copyrights

      • itTorrent Open Sources ‘Improved’ BitTorrent Protocol
        BitTorrent Inc. has open sourced uTP, the BitTorrent protocol powering the latest release of uTorrent, in the hope that other BitTorrent clients will soon adopt it. UTP promises less congestion for ISPs and end users without degrading overall download speeds. Thus far, however, many BitTorrent developers outside the BitTorrent Inc. team are skeptical about the new protocol.


      • Gallo Report on the future of EU copyright: repression or reflexion ?
        The Gallo Report on the future of "intellectual property rights" (IPR) enforcement will be voted on June 1st, at 9 AM,1 in the Committee for Legal Affairs (JURI) of the European Parliament. Since no compromise was found between the members of the committee, two visions will frontally oppose. While the rapporteur -- French sarkozyst EPP member Marielle Gallo -- is pushing for more repression to tackle online file-sharing, some positive amendments from all the other political groups2 seek to end the dogmatic repression and call for the consideration of alternative schemes to fund creation. Every citizen concerned by the future of copyright in Europe and by the open nature of the Internet should express their views to the Members of the JURI committee3.








    • ACTA

      • UK regulator plans a taste of ACTA for small ISPs
        Ofcom's proposal to exclude small ISPs from the Digital Economy Act 3-strikes measures is not quite what it seems. One interpretation is very interesting in the context of the online service provider ‘policy' provision in ACTA.








    • Digital Economy Bill

      • ConDems Won’t Repeal UK’s Digital Economy Act
        All those angry digital liberties campaigners? They shouldn’t get their hopes up too much about the Digital Economy Act under a new government…

        “We’re not going to repeal it,” the new UK government’s Conservative culture secretary Jeremy Hunt told paidContent:UK.














Clip of the Day



NASA Connect - FoF - Computer Simulation (1/5/2003)

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