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Links 8/7/2010: Linux 2.6.35 Preview, Open Source Research Consortium



GNOME bluefish

Contents





GNU/Linux

  • Dell cuddles Canonical for big Ubuntu fluffer love
    Dell is working with Canonical to help customers float Ubuntu-powered open-source clouds while also cozying up to developers.




  • Desktop

    • Why does Windows XP refuse to die?
      A new poll into Operating System popularity by a British computer magazine has revealed that an incredible 37 percent of respondents are still using Windows XP. That's more than Windows 7 which managed to woo 30 percent of the folk taking part, and Vista could only garner a pretty poor 16 percent of support. This being a PC magazine it should come as no great surprise to see Linux being used by 8 percent of respondents and Mac OS by 7 percent.


    • NHS Linux Club Donates Computers to Needham Housing Authority
      After a successful first year, the Needham High School Linux Club delivered its first batch of computers to residents of the Needham Housing Authority. Penny Kirk, Residents Service Coordinator, will distribute them to families who have requested them.


    • Updated: ATO yet to budge on Mac, Linux e-tax
      The Australian Tax Office (ATO) has remained defiant in forcing Australian taxpayers to electronically submit their tax returns through Windows-only software.

      A help topic posted on the ATO website attributes the lack of Mac or Linux-based e-tax software to priority focuses on compatibility with tax legislation.


    • ATO yet to give in on Linux, Mac e-tax
      A help topic put up on ATO's website attributes the absence of Linux and Mac-supported software for the e-tax to priorities on compatibility with tax law making.


    • Travels With Teo: Linux Netbook Hits the Road
      A couple of months ago the nice ZaReason people sent me their Teo Ubuntu netbook to review. I was favorably impressed and gave it a positive review. Then they let me take it on my vacation, so little Teo traveled 2500 miles with us. This was the ultimate portability, performance, and battery test. How did Teo do? Splendidly.


    • Desktop Virtualization Tools for Ubuntu
      All in all, it’s clear that the market for virtualization solutions targeted at desktop Linux users is rich and flourishing. While the traditional staples, VMware and VirtualBox, remain the most intuitive options, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ubuntu endorse an “official” desktop virtualization infrastructure based on KVM or Xen a year or two in the future.






  • IBM



  • Ballnux



  • Kernel Space





  • Applications





  • Desktop Environments



    • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

      • Looking at KDE, and looking at apps
        It looks like I’ll be at least making the migration from GNOME to KDE, even if I don’t leave the *buntu family of distros, so I needed to make a list of what apps I use regularly and see if they work under KDE (without needing to install libraries) and if not what apps may do the job. Apps I now use are listed in BOLD text if I absolutely need to use it regardless of what distro I use, although if I can keep the same features in a different program that will be acceptable.


      • Akademy 2010: Almost Like Being There
        Not everyone can make it to Akademy, although given the record number of people captured in the group photo, it probably seems like everyone did.


      • KDE Software Compilation 4.5 RC1 Release Announcement
        Today, KDE delivers the second release candidate of the upcoming KDE Software Compilation 4.5. The final version will be available in August 2010 and this RC is intended for testers and early adopters who can help by finding and reporting bugs. It will also interest those who want an early look at what is coming to their desktops and netbooks this summer.


      • KDE Desktop Tricks
        I started using KDE when version 4.0 was out. I had had a taste of KDE 3.5, which I didn't like, but release 4.0 looked like a big step forward, so I was tempted to give it a go. Just like so many others, I found KDE 4.0 disappointingly slow, unstable and unintuitive. However, I did see lots of potential in it and kept using it release after release.

        Up until recently, I was mostly a GNOME user. I considered it faster, leaner, more intuitive... and certainly not as ugly as some say! No matter how hard I tried to like KDE, it would always feel a bit alien and I would always end up going back to GNOME. The tide has shifted lately, though, and I have found myself leaning towards KDE desktops more and more. I believe that is mostly a result of the incredible work the developers are putting in place to improve and polish the product, but also down to the fact that I have been learning more about its "secrets".


      • The easy way to make a useful KDE Plasmoid






    • GNOME Desktop

      • Four Great Gnome Panel Applets
        Gnome is the most popular Linux desktop environment and one of it's key features that makes it so wonderful is the "gnome panel". For those unfamiliar the "gnome panel" is the bar that is typically located at the bottom (and top sometimes) of the screen where your menu, task-bar, and icon tray are located. If you have never done it, try right clicking on some blank space and click "add to panel". You will be presented with a list of applets you can add to the panel. While there are a good number to choose from by default, there are piles of other applets you can find online to install. The following is a list of my four favorites I use on my various Linux systems around my house.


      • The GNOME Open Desktop Day
        With the upcoming release of GNOME 3.0, software development interests will focus increasingly on improved user experience, accessibility and application use. While the GUADEC 2010 conference aims to prmote all of these ideals through the work of the GNOME Foundation, the GNOME Open Desktop Day will place important attention on the desktop in government and education.








    • Xfce

      • The Xcfe “control panel”
        In this piece of the puzzle we are going to take a look at Xfce’s “control panel”, the Xfce 4 Settings Manager. From this tool you can configure nearly all of the preferences for the Xfce 4′s desktop. It’s a very handy tool to have installed and will keep you from having to poke around the menu system to find the various setting tools.








  • Distributions



    • Reviews

      • Spotlight on Linux: Sabayon Linux 5.3
        This release of Sabayon is proving to be easy, fast, and stable. It is available in x86 or 64-bit KDE or GNOME versions as well as a CoreCD consisting just of the basics. With the included XBMC, Sabayon can easily become a home theater center as well. It is also the only known live distribution to offer musical accompaniment during boot. All the technical aspects aside, the best thing about Sabayon is - it's just plain fun and easy to use.


      • Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.0 Beta 2 Benchmarks Against Ubuntu, CentOS, openSUSE
        Following the release of the first beta for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.0 back in April we delivered our first RHEL 6.0 benchmarks while putting it up against CentOS 5.4 and Fedora 12. Now that the second beta of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.0 was released last week, we took the workstation build and have benchmarked it against the latest releases of Ubuntu, CentOS, and openSUSE.






    • PCLinuxOS/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mandriva Linux 2010.1 Finally Released
        The Spring version of the popular Mandriva Linux distribution is now available for download on mirrors worldwide. With the release of Mandriva Linux 2010.1 “Spring,” we definitely know that Mandriva is alive and kicking. The final release comes in three editions: One Edition, Free Edition and Powerpack Edition. Mandriva Linux 2010.1 is available for both 32-bit and 64-bit architectures, with GNOME and KDE4 LiveCDs.






    • Red Hat Family

      • Shares of Red Hat (RHT) May Continue to Rise


      • Red Hat adds new premier SA partner
        Linux giant Red Hat has announced that Linux System Dynamics (LSD), an open source consulting firm, has been appointed a Red Hat Premier Business Partner for the Southern Africa region.

        Red Hat Premier Business Partners are top-tier Red Hat partners, who have demonstrated expertise in the Red Hat product portfolio and have met the stringent technical, sales and training requirements specified by Red Hat, in order to deliver the benefits of Red Hat services and products to customers.






    • Debian Family

      • Sidux 2010-01: Rolling Release KDE Goodness
        When it comes to Linux distributions, Sidux is an interesting character. While many distro’s “piggyback” on well known distributions (especially Ubuntu) and release their own “flavor” after the parent distribution is released, Sidux does things a bit differently. Sidux is still built on top of a parent distro (Debian) but is made to be a rolling release distribution by taking the packages that are in Debian Unstable, though adding customizations to make it stable.

        I tried out Sidux very briefly a few months back, and was turned off by the number of updates that were available initially and the fact that they broke my system. The problem was that so much time had passed since their last spin (the previous version was released in April of 2009), that there have been so many changes that the updates just completely broke my system. (Linux changes faster than any other operating system, bar none, so having updated spins is a very important thing).

        [...]

        Sidux is a really good distribution, though it’s not perfect. It’s clearly not for beginners, though there is a nice manual included so it may not be all that bad. As a power user, I had absolutely no problem using it and getting it up and running. I can see that excessive updates may be a problem to a beginning user, as package update overload can sometimes break things, but for me it’s been stable. As a matter of fact, if I wasn’t using Arch, Sidux would probably be my next best choice as I don’t think I could use anything but a rolling distro. Sidux is definitely well worth checking out, though I do recommend you try it in a Virtual Machine first to get the hang of it before installing it on a production machine.




      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Just what Will be for sale in the Ubuntu software centre Come October?
          The framework for supporting paid applications in the Ubuntu Software Centre will almost certainly be in place for Ubuntu 10.10 - but what could users expect to see on sale?




        • Fonts

          • First look: new Ubuntu font boosts Linux typography
            When Canonical unveiled Ubuntu's branding overhaul and new desktop theme earlier this year, the company also revealed that it had commissioned well-known type foundry Dalton Maag to design a new font specifically for Ubuntu. The font will likely be used by default in Ubuntu 10.10, which is scheduled for release in October.

            Today Canonical launched a closed beta for the new font, making it available to testers and Ubuntu contributors. I tested it on my desktop computer, running Ubuntu 10.04. After installing the package, I enabled it in the GNOME appearance preference dialog. It matches the new Ubuntu logo font, but it's designed for optimal screen readability. It looks very smooth on my LCD monitors and is very easy on the eyes. I think it's a big improvement over Bitstream Vera Sans, the font that currently ships by default in Ubuntu.


          • The Ubuntu Font


          • New Ubuntu Fonts – No You Cannot Use Them Yet!
            Canonical Design has introduced new Ubuntu fonts which will be used in the next release, Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat. The new fonts will not be available to everyone, though, as it has been released as a private beta. Only Ubuntu Members are allowed access to the new font through a private PPA. The fonts will be released as a public beta on 8th August. So if you are not an Ubuntu Member, you have to wait till then.


          • Dear Canonical
            This “closed fonts beta” thing was a big PR mistake.

            It’s not enough for you to push a proprietary font into Ubuntu in the default install. No, you can’t even release it publicly. You just had to release it as a closed-doors, “members-only” beta.


          • Ubuntu font: what the glyph!
            Having read some of the comments and bugs I thought it might be useful to add some clarification on a couple of terms.


          • Finding Free Fonts for Linux
            You should be able to find the Liberation fonts on most distributions, though they may not be installed by default. Search for Liberation in your favorite package tool, and you should find a package with all three or separate packages for each. On Ubuntu 10.04, for instance, you'll have the ttf-liberation package. Actually, if you do a search for ttf, you'll see a number of fonts you can grab from the Ubuntu archives.

            But the open font movement, if can be called such, has progressed beyond Red Hat's triple header of Freedom. Check out the Free Font Manifesto, for example. It links to a number of fonts that have licenses that allow redistribution and modification, as well as a manifesto about free fonts. Check out the blog as well if the free font issue is important to you.




        • Flavours and Variants

          • 10 reasons why Mint might not fail in India
            Last evening while reading the SA forums, I encountered a thread about Linux and what was required to bring it to the general public. One of the goons mentioned a post that indicated ten reasons why Ubuntu wasn’t ready for the desktop in India. I kid you not – the most ridiculous reason was because users couldn’t perform the important ritual of right click/Refreshing on the desktop five or more times before getting down to work.


















  • Devices/Embedded

    • eZ430-Chronos and Linux
      In an earlier blog I wrote about the TI eZ430-Chronos. This is a $50 development kit with a twist. Instead of a generic target board, you get a wristwatch. Its more of a "Casio-style sports watch" than a Rolex, but inside is a fairly powerful MSP430 CPU and I/O including a 3-axis accelerometer, a temperature sensor, a pressure sensor, and a wireless connection back to a PC. You also get a USB programmer, and the USB receiver for the watch. Use coupon code HALFMSPTOOL (don't know when that expires) and the price drops to under $25.


    • OK Labs promises secure mobile virtualization
      The platform is currently a prototype, based on Sirrix' Turaya Security Kernel, which handles encryption, VPN and a trusted user interface; and the OKL4 Microvisor, which can host the Sirrix trusted desktop alongside a variety of guest OS, including Android and other Linux variants, in OKL4 secure cells. The platform will initially run on Nokia's N900 product, which runs Linux-based Maemo.


    • FemtoLinux allows to run applications in kernel mode on ARM, MIPS and PPC
      FemtoLinux is a new Linux flavor optimized for real-time embedded systems. Our design goal is a low system call and interrupt-to-application latency and overhead. We achieve this by allowing to run critical Linux applications in kernel mode.


    • Tiny embedded PC offers 1080p video




    • Intel/Nokia/MeeGo

      • MeeGo: Zero to VT320 in Seventeen Seconds
        The video above shows the MeeGo VT320 video terminal start up. It takes 17 seconds from pressing the power button to a login prompt on the video terminal. That includes 11 seconds for the BIOS, 1 second for bootloader and a further 5 seconds for MeeGo to get its act together.


      • A niche player
        For one thing, it runs on the Linux-based Maemo 5 operating system. This is one very niche device aimed spe€­cifically at those passionate guys that reside within the wider Debian and Ubuntu communities - the ones who love to tinker with things.


      • Netbook Apps Reinvent the Wheel
        Meanwhile, Google’s Chrome OS netbooks will dispense with the operating system completely when they become available in late fall in favor of apps from the Chrome Web App store.

        Of course, Linux and Windows netbooks like the ones Intel is targeting with the AppUp Store can run whatever software you want them to run — just like laptops and desktops. Their rebranding as things that run apps is, if anything, a step backwards.


      • Prototype Smartphone Uses Intel Chip and OS
        Steve Paine, who edits the Carrypad and UMPC portal got his hands on a prototype smartphone running Intel’s chips and MeeGo, a Linux-based operating system developed by Intel and Nokia.








    • Android

      • Android 2.1 Ported To The HTC Touch Diamond2
        It used to be that folks would be busy trying to get Linux running on various electronic devices, such as an iPod, but the latest trend is to get Google's Android OS running on phones that don't officially support it.


      • Report: More than half of Android apps are free
        Google's Android Market offers the largest share of free apps at 57 percent, while the Windows Mobile Marketplace offers the smallest share at 22 percent, says a report on mobile app stores released last week by Distimo.


      • AT&T Says Apps Lock Down Is for Users' Benefit
        The Android operating system is a free Linux-based open-source platform for mobile devices. It managed to appeal a lot to users around the world, mainly due to the fact that it can take great advantage of the hardware resources packed inside mobile phones. Already adopted by a wide range of manufacturers and carriers around the world, Android has all chances to lead the smartphone market in the near future.


      • Nexus one gets Linux
        Considering how hackable the Nexus One is already, we can only imagine a whole new host of interesting things thanks to Ubuntu running on the device. [Max Lee] set his heart out on getting not just Ubuntu on the Nexus One, but also Debian, and he wrote a perfect install guide to help out those wanting to give it a shot.


      • Ars reviews Android 2.2 on the Nexus One
        Froyo was unveiled at at the Google I/O developer conference in May during a keynote presentation by Google VP of engineering Vic Gundotra. Stabilizing the platform for an official Nexus One release took Google a little bit longer than expected, but the software is now being made available to users through an over-the-air update. We took it for a test drive to see how it compares to the previous version.


      • Motorola









    • OLPC

      • Laptops distributed to four schools
        Manipur has been added to the global project One Laptop Per Child (OLPC), a mission to empower the children learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child with the commencement of distribution of the laptop to four schools today.












Free Software/Open Source

  • IBM, EU Create Research Consortium For Open Source
    IBM, in collaboration with the European Union, industry and academia, is launching a research consortium which aims to help businesses more easily take advantage of Internet-based services - or "e-services" - to create collaborative business operations and achieve shared business goals.

    The unique effort focuses on the development of a new computer science model that will enable organizations to greatly accelerate the typically time-intensive process around the coordination of e-services and increase the automation and efficiency around deploying new e-service blends. The research will enable even small to mid-sized businesses to create or join into flexible e-service blends, without investing in expensive IT expertise. The initiative will create open-source software to enable many organizations around the world take advantage of the technology.


  • OSS vs proprietary software quality and usage.
    In general I have found that, in terms of quality, number of bugs and ease of usage, there is no real difference between OSS and proprietary software. I know that many people will disagree. I also know that they disagree because they have a biased point of view. As these people are used to a particular piece of software, for example msoffice or photoshop, then the OSS equivalents, open office and gimp, seem to be inferior.




  • Events

    • ✈ Join Me At Open World Forum
      The conference landscape evolves constantly. Old events pass away, new ones arrive and it’s good to get pointers to know what’s worthwhile. I can recommend this year’s Open World Forum, happening in Paris on September 30 and October 1.It’s a volunteer-run conference for the open source and free software community and covers multiple tracks and events both for business and community interests.


    • [Announce] linux.conf.au 2012 - Formal bids request


    • Red Hat Summit and JBoss World 2010
      Slides and videos of the presentations at Red Hat's annual convention provide a host of information about the features and capabilities of current and forthcoming Red Hat products. The presenters offered a particularly wide range of details on Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, scheduled for release in the coming months, and on the various virtualisation products in the Red Hat Enterprise Virtualisation family.








  • Mozilla

    • Absolute 13.1.2 Makes the Switch to Google Chrome
      Absolute Linux 13.1.2 has been released bringing several updates and fixes as well as the switch to Google Chrome as the default browser, replacing Mozilla Firefox. Chrome was found to have several advantages over Firefox and the developers believed it to be the better choice for the light-weight distro. Firefox is still available on the second CD.


    • Firefox 4 Beta Is Fast, But Not The Only Browser In Town
      Firefox has successfully grabbed a quarter of the browser market, but Google Chrome is growing very rapidly, and the fact remains that the world is moving to a new, need-driven browser model. For many people, it makes sense to run more than one browser. I'll definitely adopt Firefox 4, primarily because I use a lot of the best Firefox extensions, but I'll run Chrome as well.


    • Buzzbird - Awesome Firefox Based Twitter Client For Linux
      Buzzbird is a Firefox based twitter client for Linux. And like Firefox, Buzzbird too, just works. Buzzbird is fast, have all the basic functionalities and it almost never crashes.






  • Databases

    • CSQL - Command Line SQL Interpreter
      CSQL is a very powerful command line interpreter. You are recommended to read our online Wiki CSQL Interpreter Tutorial. You will learn about reading, saving, and appending SQL statement, Shell command execution/registration, transaction processing, outputting schema information/syntax rules and examples, parameter setting, etc, which are beyond those provided by CUBRID Manager or other simple query editor tools.






  • CMS

    • Plone Chosen as New Publishing Environment for MIT's OpenCourseWare (OWC)
      MIT OpenCourseWare ( http://ocw.mit.edu/ ) is a web-based publication of virtually all course content from the Massachusetts Insitute of Technology (MIT). It is a resource that is used by students, teachers and average people around the world via the web, giving average citizens access to a wealth of information previously only available to students who could attend one of the world's most recognized and respected universities.








  • Education

    • An 'open source manifesto' to counter the ICT cuts
      1. Don't buy any software. No, seriously, just stop buying software licences. If you'd like to carry on using your Windows machines, check out the Open Education Disc, with a comprehensive suite of absolutely free applications providing tools for (almost) every area of learning within and beyond the curriculum, including OpenOffice.org, Inkscape and the GIMP, to replace Office, Illustrator and Photoshop for starters.

      Furthermore, you're allowed, indeed encouraged, to duplicate this so your pupils have access to the same software, legally and for free, at home too. Better still, put the temptation to buy more software firmly out of your grasp by switching to Linux desktops, such as the undeniably excellent Ubuntu. This comes as standard with a great suite of applications, with at the last count 30,046 packages (such as Tablix, a genetic algorithm based timetabler), that you can install (for free) over the net as and when you need them: think app store for a desktop, but all free and (generally) of very good quality.

      If you're worried that your pupils won't cope with an unfamiliar interface, don't be, they'll quickly adjust and will be far more discerning users of computers as a result; if you're worried that this won't prepare them for the world of Windows, don't be, just have a glance at Ofsted's comments about alternative operating systems.








  • BSD







  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Inaugurating the first Free Software street
      The Free Software conferences held in Berga during the last weekend, where eyeOS participated with a conference and a workshop, ended with a very special moment: The official inauguration of the first “Free Software” street in the world.

      Richard Stallman, founder of GNU Project and Free Software Foundation, was invited and after speaking, officially inaugurated the street.








  • Project Releases

    • Midnight Commander 4.7.3
      Core

      * Mult-screen feature: support of many opened editors and viewers (#1490) * Reorganization of menu and configuration dialogs. More options are available in UI (#320) * Mark of text in input fields is available now, DEL removes selected/unchanged text (#2161, #2228) * Now copy/move dialog shows the full path with file name in the field "to:" (#1907) * Removed hardcoded shortcuts in dialog.c (#212) * Added new actions for panels: PanelMarkFileUp and PanelMarkFileDown (#2021) * Added new capability to create relative symlinks: menu item and "C-x v" default shortcut (#2042) * Now we can use external utility to copy/paste text to X clipboard (#30) * Cursor is hidden in menu and listboxes (#1771) * All hotkeys in MC (in menu, checkboxes, etc) in the middle of a word are in the lowercase now (#2168) * Use system realpath(3) function if available (#1911) * GLib deprecated functions are not used (#2085, #2249)


    • opentaps Open Source ERP + CRM Version 1.4.1 Released


    • New Maestro content management system rolls out
      CMS-Maestro is a new PHP-based content management system (CMS) released by South African Web development company Valente Online.

      Easy to install and use, CMS-Maestro offers the basics such as page and article management and adds to that the ability to add additional widgets, and manage menus and a range of media formats. In a release the company says that “CMS-Maestro is built with extensibility in mind and is designed in a modular fashion, therefore additional features and functionality can be added easily to the Maestro”.








  • Licensing

    • Open source compliance: know your obligations
      One key element of open source compliance is to know your obligations. There is a lot of confusion about what open source means exactly and some people believe that open source means you can do whatever you want. While open source grants users many freedoms, open source code comes under specific license terms which often include obligations that have to be followed by companies distributing open source software.








  • Open Data

    • Opening up European public sector information: two recommendations
      Last week I participated in the third (and sadly final!) conference of Communia project, a European thematic network on the digital public domain. The theme of this conference was University and Cyberspace and several of the talks articulated a vision in which universities, academics, and students play a key role in creating, curating and promoting the digital commons.






  • Programming

    • Eclipse releases Helios train of 12 project apps
      Mike Milinkovich, Executive Director of the Eclipse Foundation, said the Helios release introduces important innovations in areas such as Git support, Linux development and JavaScript support.








Leftovers



  • Science

    • Parliament calls for EU ban on cloning for food
      The European Parliament reiterated its opposition to meat and milk produced from cloned animals yesterday (7 July), piling pressure on the European Commission to ban food produced in this way.








  • Security/Aggression

    • How to Get Politicians to Admit in Public That the Drug War Has Been a Complete Failure
      Every politician understands what is in his or her short-term interest. They know what the party leadership wants, what their campaign contributors want, and what lobbyists want. At what point does the long-term interest of the nation as a whole come into play? Who represents the interests of future generations? Today, our future is determined by cowardly politicians who can only think as far as the next election. Our economy is guided by short-sighted corporations that only care about hitting their quarterly numbers, lest their stock nosedives and they get taken over by a rival corporation.


    • Is Breaking CAPTCHA a Crime?
      Prosecutors in a New Jersey ticket scalping case are pushing the envelope on the federal computer hacking law, setting a precedent that could make it a felony to violate a website’s terms of service and fool a CAPTCHA, according to electronic civil rights groups intervening in the case.


    • Does Surveillance Make Us Morally Better?
      Imagine that right after briefing Adam about which fruit was allowed and which forbidden, God had installed a closed-circuit television camera in the garden of Eden, trained on the tree of knowledge. Think how this might have changed things for the better. The serpent sidles up to Eve and urges her to try the forbidden fruit. Eve reaches her hand out – in paradise the fruit is always conveniently within reach – but at the last second she notices the CCTV and thinks better of it. Result: no sin, no Fall, no expulsion from paradise. We don’t have to toil among thorns and thistles for the rest of our lives, earning our bread by the sweat of our brows; childbirth is painless; and we feel no need to wear clothes.


    • Tourists get ready for simulated kidnapping
      Mr Shim said a French company was already offering simulated kidnapping packages, in which people can pay to be abducted without warning, bound, gagged and imprisoned for between four and ten hours.


    • Anti-terror stop and search powers to be scrapped
      The police's use of controversial counterterrorism stop and search powers against individuals is to be scrapped immediately, the home secretary announced today.


    • Another unmanned CCTV control room
      As we've seen so often before (indeed, we've got a whole category devoted to it) - law enforcement throws funds at this technology which then can't be spent elsewhere, policing becomes dependent on that technology, and it promptly fails.








  • Environment

    • Sea otters worth $700 million in carbon credits
      Want to slow global warming? Save a sea otter. So says Chris Wilmers at the University of California, Santa Cruz, whose team has calculated that the animals remove at least 0.18 kilograms of carbon from the atmosphere for every square metre of occupied coastal waters.

      That means that if sea otters were restored to healthy populations along the coasts of North America they could collectively lock up a mammoth 1010 kg of carbon – currently worth more than $700 million on the European carbon-trading market. Wilmers explained this at the annual meeting of the Society for Conservation Biology in Edmonton, Canada, this month.


    • Heat wave air conditioners of doom
      From China to New York, the more we cool ourselves, the hotter we're going to get


    • Parliament vote seals ban on illegal timber
      MEPs voted to approve a political inter-institutional agreement on a new regulation that sets obligations on operators that place timber or related products on the EU market.

      The new legislation issues a ban on illegally-harvested timber. Covering the whole timber supply chain from logging sites to European consumers, the law aims to guarantee legally-sourced products access to EU markets while halting deforestation in third countries.


    • Oil spotting blimp arrives in the Gulf
      The slow-moving airship will be arriving at the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport in Mississippi after more than a month of travel from Yuma, Arizona where it's based. The blimp will ultimately operate from a mooring three miles southeast of the Mobile Bay shoreline in Alabama.

      The primary purpose of 178-feet long MZ-3A airship will be to spot and monitor for oil contamination along the Gulf Coast.


    • Can it really rain oil?
      But, does that mean oil in ocean water can't possibly become involved in the hydrologic cycle? Nope. There is some evidence, according to the Christian Science Monitor, that floating oil can evaporate under the right conditions. In that case, though, you wouldn't get oil droplets falling from on high. The more likely result would be normal-looking rain tainted with chemical compounds from the oil. According to Popular Mechanics, the only way you'd really get black "rain" is if a hurricane picked up polluted water and dumped it—sans evaporation—onto a coastal area.








  • Finance

    • Auto Dealers, Community Banks Dodge Consumer Oversight
      The financial overhaul bill awaiting final action in the Senate includes a new regulator whose aim is to make sure mortgages, credit cards and other products from big banks don't abuse or confuse you.


    • INSIDE WASHINGTON: First study, then crack down
      What to do about the size of too-big-to-fail banks? Order a study. How to hold stockbrokers accountable for their dealings with clients? Another study. How to ensure the reliability of credit rating agencies? Study that, too.


    • E.U. Bank Stress Tests to Cover 65 Percent of Financial Sector
      In what could be a first step toward restoring confidence in the health of European banks, a panel coordinating stress tests of major institutions has confirmed that they will be much broader than initially planned, covering most of the market. It also set a date of July 23 for releasing the results.

      The Committee of European Banking Supervisors, made up of national regulators from across the European Union, said it will release results of the anxiously awaited tests for 91 banks. Those banks account for 65 percent of the E.U. banking market and at least 50 percent of the market in the respective countries, it said in a statement late Wednesday.


    • State Banking, Globally
      A standard refrain from U.S. banking industry lobbyists is “you cannot put us at a disadvantage relative to our overseas competitors.” The Obama administration has largely bought into this line and cites it in public and private as one reason for opposing size caps on our largest banks and preventing Congress from raising capital requirements.

      The US Treasury puts its faith instead in the Basel Committee on Banking Supervision process, a somewhat murky convocation of bank regulators from various countries that has a weak track record in terms of setting sufficient prudential standards (also the assessment of Dan Tarullo, now an influential Federal Reserve governor; disclosure, I have a part-time position at the Peterson Institute, which published his book). But, the official US reasoning goes, the crisis of 2007-08 was so traumatic, our European counterparts will now want to be more careful.


    • Wells Fargo Plans Layoffs at a Consumer Finance Unit
      Wells Fargo said Wednesday that it would no longer make subprime mortgages and as a result would close a 100-year-old finance division that specialized in those loans.

      The bank has a reputation as a conservative lender, but it has been battling heavy losses amid the financial crisis on its own subprime mortgages as well as on the loan portfolios it acquired when it bought the Wachovia Corporation.


    • SEC proposes new rules to make target-date mutual funds more transparent
      Target-date mutual funds -- investment vehicles that automatically change your mix of assets as you near retirement -- are thought by many investors to be a safer investment choice that's relatively insulated from market gyrations as the funds get closer to the target date.

      But lately, people on the verge of retirement have been surprised to see how much these funds have been affected by recent turbulence on Wall Street. In some cases, the funds have performed far less well than had been anticipated.


    • Federal Reserve weighs steps to offset slowdown in economic recovery
      Federal Reserve officials, increasingly concerned over signs the economic recovery is faltering, are considering new steps to bolster growth.

      With Congress tied in political knots over whether to take further action to boost the economy, Fed leaders are weighing modest steps that could offer more support for economic activity at a time when their target for short-term interest rates is already near zero. They are still resistant to calls to pull out their big guns -- massive infusions of cash, such as those undertaken during the depths of the financial crisis -- but would reconsider if conditions worsen.


    • How Goldman Sachs gambled on starving the world's poor - and won
      It starts with an apparent mystery. At the end of 2006, food prices across the world started to rise, suddenly and stratospherically. Within a year, the price of wheat had shot up by 80 percent, maize by 90 percent, and rice by 320 percent. In a global jolt of hunger, 200 million people - mostly children - couldn't afford to get food any more, and sank into malnutrition or starvation. There were riots in over 30 countries, and at least one government was violently overthrown. Then, in spring 2008, prices just as mysteriously fell back to their previous level. Jean Ziegler, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, called it "a silent mass murder", entirely due to "man-made actions."

      [...]

      For over a century, farmers in wealthy countries have been able to engage in a process where they protect themselves against risk. Farmer Giles can agree in January to sell his crop to a trader in August at a fixed price. If he has a great summer and the global price is high, he'll lose some cash, but if there's a lousy summer or the price collapses, he'll do well from the deal. When this process was tightly regulated and only companies with a direct interest in the field could get involved, it worked well.

      Then, through the 1990s, Goldman Sachs and others lobbied hard and the regulations were abolished. Suddenly, these contracts were turned into 'derivatives' that could be bought and sold among traders who had nothing to do with agriculture. A market in "food speculation" was born.


    • Should Taxpayers Continue to Subsidize Goldman Sachs's Alleged Obscenity?
      The U.S.'s Financial Reform bill is over 2,000 pages. It includes exemptions and lots of opportunities to create loopholes. Behavior that caused our ongoing global financial crisis is guaranteed to continue, if we don't have swift and effective deterrents.


    • Don't Let Goldman Sachs Off the Hook
      When the nation's most prestigious investment banks found themselves on the verge of total annihilation in the fall of 2008, the most radical and effective government response was not the infamous $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program. The wildest salvation scheme for Goldman Sachs, Morgan Stanley and the securities system at large was a plan from the Federal Reserve to give these speculative institutions access to cheap loans from the central bank. It worked. With access to unlimited cheap funding from the Fed, the Wall Street titans survived. Hurrah.


    • Goldman Sachs: We’re With Krugie!
      A well-coifed, dulcet-toned Harvard Scot named Niall Ferguson says that’s a bad idea and bond market vigilantes will show up in the dark of night and pummel U.S. bonds to applesauce, twist Uncle Sam’s arm around his back, and force him pay through his bleeding nose to borrow.


    • Cohan: Let Goldman Be Goldman
      Poised as we are for the most comprehensive financial reform in this country since the Great Depression, it is time to fess up to the fact that it likely would not have occurred without a concerted effort by the Obama administration and the Democratic-controlled Congress to demonize Goldman Sachs.








  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • War of the Nerds: The Battle Over Wikileaks
      Army intelligence specialist Bradley Manning was charged yesterday for allegedly leaking video and documents to secret-sharing website Wikileaks. He faces up to 52 years in prison. Now, nerds are waging fierce campaigns to discredit both Manning's informant and Wikileaks itself.

      Bradley Manning was arrested last month after his confidant, ex-hacker Adrian Lamo, turned him in. Lamo won Manning's trust by portraying himself as a minister and a journalist, and likely traded on a shared queer identity to convince the 22 year-old, deeply troubled soldier to confess his illegal activities over instant message. Lamo immediately notified Army investigators and spilled the story to his long-time unofficial mouthpiece, Wired's Kevin Poulsen.


    • Germany & Facebook aren't friends
      A German data protection official said Wednesday he launched legal proceedings against Facebook, which he accused of illegally accessing and saving personal data of people who don't use the social networking site.

      Johannes Caspar said his Hamburg data protection office had initiated legal steps that could result in Facebook being fined tens of thousands of euros for saving private information of individuals who don't use the site and haven't granted it access to their details.








  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • European Top Court Tells Monsanto It Can't Abuse Patent Law To Stop Import Of Argentinian Soymeal
      Separately, some governments are now kicking off investigations into Monsanto's advertising statements about the very same Roundup Ready soybeans. Combine all of that and Monsanto also reported dreadful earnings, with a 45% profit drop.

      Once again, we're seeing what happens when you live off of artificial monopolies. They can make you rich in the short term, but they're no trick to building sustainable businesses. What the government gives in the form of monopoly rights, it can also take away.


    • Washington Post Notes Summit Entertainment's Twisted View Of IP Laws On Twilight
      The piece was written by Christina Mulligan, who recently got plenty of attention for her thoughtful piece on the mixed messages on copyright found in the TV show Glee. It's great that a paper like the Washington Post is giving her a platform to write about these concerns. Hopefully it will finally reach some of our more stubborn and misguided DC-based politicians that intellectual property is being widely abused in troubling ways.




    • Copyrights











Clip of the Day



CLUG Talk 25 November 2008 - AGM: New Features in Ubuntu Intrepid Ibex (2008)

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