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Links 10/2/2011: PC Pro Covers and Uses GNU/Linux, Linux-powered WebOS Advances

GNOME bluefish



  • Once Upon A Time, There Was A USB Vulnerability In Linux
    But can a cracker do it?

    Everything boils down to the level of security. From the 'level of security' point of view, GNU/Linux systems are secure by design so the vulnerability rate is million times lower than that of insecure by design systems like Windows. When it comes to core system, fixes don't wait for Tuesdays, they come immediately.

    After this background, I restate GNU/Linux systems are 'almost' immune to attacks. If Windows is like a bicycle, GNU/Linux is like an armored tank.

    A Demo Of USB Vulnerability IBM's expert Jon Larimer recently gave a demo about a *previous* vulnerability in Evince, the document viewer for GNU/Linux systems, which could be used to compromize a system.

    According to an Ubuntu vulnerability report published on January 5, 2011, "Jon Larimer discovered that Evince's font parsers incorrectly handled certain buffer lengths when rendering a DVI file. By tricking a user into opening or previewing a DVI file that uses a specially crafted font file, an attacker could crash evince or execute arbitrary code with the user's privileges. In the default installation of Ubuntu 9.10 and later, attackers would be isolated by the Evince AppArmor profile."

  • Desktop

    • PCPro to run on Ubuntu – for one day only
      PCPro – a website and magazine purposed primarily around Windows – are to switch operations to Ubuntu for one day.

    • Can we run PC Pro on Ubuntu?
      Tomorrow PC Pro is going to put its money where its mouth is. To coincide with the release of the new edition of PC Pro – which features our Ultimate Guide to Ubuntu on the front cover – we’re going to attempt to run the magazine and website exclusively on Ubuntu-based PCs*.

  • Server

    • Stock exchange Linux system at forefront of proposed merger
      The London Stock Exchange's Linux-based trading system is at the forefront of a proposed merger between the venue and Toronto Stock Exchange parent TMX, announced late last night.

      The LSE immediately put its money where its mouth is, proposing 40 million of technology investment to put the two companies onto a common technology setup, led from London. Exact details of technology plans are expected to be announced shortly.

    • Linux Servers Are the Smart Business Choice
      Linux servers are the smart business choice; Windows servers are not. In this series we'll look at how server and network admins can get started learning Linux, and in future installments learn about excellent Linux/FOSS servers and software for all business tasks.


      FOSS does not punish you for sharing ideas and implementations; quite the opposite.

  • HP

    • HP to Put Linux in Printers and PC’s: It’s the End of an Era for Windows
      I attended HP’s press conference this morning and Linux again took center stage as a major technology leader revealed the details of its mobile device strategy. HP announced two new WebOS phones and more importantly an impressive new tablet that is a clear contender against the iPad. While I don’t for one second underestimate Apple, that was not the most interesting part of the event for me.

      The most interesting part of the event came near the end when HP announced that it is going to ship WebOS not only in phones, tablets and printers, but in PC’s as well. In doing so, the worlds largest PC supplier is indicating that they are going to ship PC’s without Windows. For Microsoft - who was nowhere at this event - that has got to hurt. Perhaps this really IS the year of the Linux desktop.

    • WebOS could be a Contender
      What I found most interesting though was that HP is planning on taking webOS 3.0 to laptops and desktops as well. What’s this!? HP wants to get into the Linux-based desktop operating system business!? As my buddy from the Washington Post, Rob Pegoraro put it, “‘We’re going to bring webOS to PCs’” almost two hours into a keynote raises the bar on burying the lede.”

  • Kernel Space

    • Ralink in-kernel drivers
      Instead of the old boring "here's what drivers are being merged and deleted" and the like as I've posted in the past, I thought I'd just write about one specific project that has recently gone public that I think is a great indicator of how far the Linux Driver Project has come these days.

    • Ralink Adds RT5390 Support To Open WiFi Driver
      Back in September there was the major victory for the open-source and Linux hardware support communities when Broadcom open-sourced an 802.11n Linux driver after years of their WiFi chipsets being notorious under Linux. There's another wireless chipset vendor now getting more serious about open-source driver support too and that's Ralink. They've now contributed patches to the rt2x00 driver project that enables their new RT5390 chipset family to be used by this open-source Linux wireless driver.

    • Kernel Log: updated Radeon drivers, mdadm and ALSA
      A new version of the AMD driver from improves support for modern Radeon graphics chips. An updated mdadm, initially only designed for developers, allows the RAID functions of modern Intel motherboard chip-sets to be used. After nine months, the ALSA project has published a new version.

    • Samsung Laptops and Linux

    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA's Looking To Expand Its Linux Team
        NVIDIA's Andy Ritger updated the thread their forum seeking a new Linux software engineer. Candidates for this position must have three or more years developing software for Linux/UNIX, be very strong in programming C, have three or more years experience in writing low-level software, have experience with OpenGL and be familiar with 3D concepts, experience in working on large/complex software components, be experienced in debugging, knowledge of the x86 architecture, graphics driver experience, and carry a BS degree or equivalent.

      • Wayland Looks To Do Multi-Monitor The Right Way
        Two weeks ago the hot discussion item being talked about by those interested in the Wayland Display Server was how to handle input with Wayland (e.g. using X Input, create a separate "Inland" input project, or designing something entirely different). The new subject now brought up on the Wayland mailing list is how to handle multiple monitor support. Fortunately, it looks like Kristian plans to implement multiple monitor/display support in a different -- and better -- way than how it's dealt with by the X.Org Server.

        The multi-monitor topic was brought up by Marty Jack after he wrote a patch that allocates the CRTCs to avoid black screens on multiple monitors. Up to this point, Kristian Høgsberg, the creator of Wayland, hasn't really said how he would like support for multiple monitors to be implemented. That changed though this afternoon. In Marty's email, he mentions, "I don't know what Kristian's ultimate vision of this is. Do we allow windows to move like they do now on a virtual desktop where you can slide one to a RightOf monitor by dragging it and it appears part on one and part on the other? A lot of the data structure and processing change for multiple monitors would depend on whether it is possible to have one pair of big FBs added to both CRTCs at the same time, with different (x,y,w,h) if it is tiled and the same (x,y) if it is cloned or how he would want to handle this case [moving the rbo, fb_id, image up to drm_compositor]. With some philosophical guidance I could get the underpinnings in place."

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • KDE Has Many Web Services
        KDE has quite the array of web services, and the sysops team has done some pretty neat things in the last months. Recently Tom’s post on geoaware anongit DNS caught my eye. It made me wonder — what kinds of goodies in general is KDE hosting?

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Gnome Shell Gets Automatic Workspaces [Video]
        Remember the Gnome Shell automatic workspaces mockup we've talked about a while back? It has just been added to the main Gnome Shell branch today.

        However, the automatic workspace Gnome Shell implementation seems to have more in common with this Unity mockup than the initial Shell mockup: the Unity mockup proposed to always have an empty workspace so the user doesn't have to create it while the Gnome Shell mockup proposed to never have an empty workspace. Either way, the idea seems very good so it doesn't matter where it came from. Too bad this won't be in Unity too - unfortunately Mark Shuttleworth turned it down.

  • Distributions

    • AriOS 2.0 - Looking good, babe, looking good
      AriOS is a pleasant and unexpected surprise, showing a lot of careful attention to details and hard dedication. Well executed, on all levels, including a surprising touch for aesthetics, which typical geeks are not graced with. We can only hope the project will flourish.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Upgrade from lenny to squeeze - first impressions
        Otherwise I am quite satisfied with the result of the upgrade. A huge "thank you" to all people involved in the development of squeeze.

      • SimplyMEPIS 11.0 Starting to Look Good
        So, all in all, SimplyMEPIS 11.0 is shaping up quite nicely. It appears it is going to be the familiar SimplyMEPIS we all know and love for its loyal users with nice appeal for new users.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Project Bossanova To Set A New Trend in Ubuntopia.
          Project Bossanova, launched by Ohso wants to deliver the first ever 3D game that runs exclusively on Ubuntu/Linux to Ubuntu fans all over the world.

          Ohso is no stranger to Ubuntu fans as they bring out trending news, opinions and tips for Ubuntu lovers through their websites like the all too famous OMG! Ubuntu, Ubuntu Gamer and OMG! SuSE! Ohso’s contributions to the Ubuntu world do not end here. Their new mobile applications for Ubuntu are in the production phase and the download links are expected to hit websites soon.

        • Documentation Updates Reflect Appeal to Developers by Ubuntu
          With these difficulties in mind, Ubuntu developers and community members long ago developed the Ubuntu Packaging Guide to help software developers navigate the various intricacies of Debian packaging, so they can distribute their work more easily to Ubuntu users.

        • Unity

          • Random small bling
            And lastly, Jason’s made it so that when you drag a certain file type into the launcher the application that launches it stays lit, but the rest “shut off”. So assuming you have say, GIMP and Shotwell in your launcher dragging a .png close to the launcher will keep those lit and the ones that don’t support .png will not be lit. Small, but slick.

          • Unity Bitesize Report for 8 Feb
            Cando’s been working on two fixes (which are under review). The first is being able to middle click on a maximized window title in the panel and have that be pushed to the background.

            In case you didn’t know, you can middle click on window titlebars and they get pushed behind other windows. This can be a very handy window management technique, but now that we’ve welded the title bar with the top panel when a window is maximized this was missing. So thanks to Cando for preserving this bit of “UNIX Law that this feature must exist” on our desktops.

          • Progress Meters, quicklists, and number count for the Unity Launcher
            We now have an API for applications to leave a progress meter and/or a number on their launcher. The wiki page is a bit sparse so expect more detail there over the coming week.

          • Unity Launcher API: ready when you are
            A while back we mentioned that the Unity Launcher in Natty was to add support for badges/counts, transfer/progress bars and ‘quick lists’ on launcher icons, similar to that seen in use on Docky.

          • Unity Launcher API

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Putting Android Apps on Non-Android Phones
        How could a non-Android device run software made specifically for Google's Android platform? It sounds like a stretch. In reality, all apps that run on Android phones or tablets run in a virtual machine (VM), which Google calls Dalvik. The solution is much like the Java Virtual Machine on a desktop: it's a constrained software implementation of a computer via software code. It brings greater security because apps in a VM are essentially walled off from other applications and from the device's operating system. When the app in a VM crashes, it has no effect on other applications or on the operating system, ensuring stability. This video demo of Myriad's solution on a Nokia N900 running MeeGo shows that it performs on a level equal to that of the same app running on a comparable Android device.

      • Smartphone Shipments Surpass PCs for First Time. What's Next?
        Vendors shipped 100.9 million smartphones during the fourth quarter, according to Monday data, while IDC logged 92.1 million PC shipments during the same time period, according to IDC numbers from January.

        The milestone was first noted by Fortune, which said that smartphones surpassed PC shipments much faster than expected. A Morgan Stanley analyst predicted it might happen in 2012.

      • Nokia/MeeGo/Maemo

        • Three Qt Web Runtime games for the N900
          Jusso Kosonen has written three puzzle games for the N900 using the Qt Web Runtime:

          * Block Drop is a Tetris clone * In RectBlock you should create rectangle shapes with four corner blocks * In Color Line you reate lines with three same colored blocks in horizontal or vertical direction.

        • MeeGo roadmap updated
          The MeeGo project has updated its roadmap. The project will now release Meego 1.2 in April 2011 and plans to release MeeGo 1.3 in October, moving to a biannual release schedule. The six-monthly release schedule has been a target for the MeeGo developers as they establish their open development and release process.

      • Android

        • Android Update Latest – Edition 456
          Teleca, maker of software solutions for the automotive and mobile industries is announcing today that they have created an Android platform for SiriusXM. This will allow manufacturers to embed SiriusXM on top of an Android build into say, vehicles, boomboxes and other things. (This is all assuming that people are going to want to still pay for satellite radio service).

        • Google’s Android: A Billion-Dollar Ad Business In 2012?
          Munster notes that former CEO Eric Schmidt last summer said he though Android could be a $10 billion business if there were 1 billion users each generating $10 a year – and the analyst contends the company is well on the way to hitting the $10 per user level. Pointing out that Google has said it is on a $1 billion annual run-rate in mobile advertising, he estimates that the company had $850 million total mobile revenue in 2010, with Android generating about 16% of the total, or around $130 million, which would translate to $5.90 per Android user. (That implies about 22 million Android users for 2010.)

        • 1.6 billion phones sold as Android grows 888.8%

        • Tech-savvy volunteers create Android application to help fight child trafficking
          As the movement becomes more structured and organised, people have stepped forward to volunteer their skills in various ways. One of the more exciting announcements yesterday was the launch of an Android app for the campaign called 乞讨儿童数据库, or the Beggar Children Database.

    • Tablets

      • Say Hello To The Palm Touchpad
        It’s official: HP/Palm is releasing a new tablet called the Touchpad. Precentral has some hot news about this new 10-inch Palm slate. It is a touchscreen device running WebOS. It weighs 1.5 pounds and 13mm thick and has a front webcam as well as up to 64GB of storage.

Free Software/Open Source

  • A Darwinian theory of open source development strategies
    In the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin explains his theory of natural selection, and compares with man’s selection – or artificial selection – in the breeding process to produce a desired characteristic. Compare this with the single vendor model in which the vendor drives the development of a project to meet its commercial needs.

    If we think about development models and processes then it is possible to the various potentially competing players in collaborative communities as having a similar impact on the development of a particular project as various potentially competing factors – climate, habitat, existence or dearth of predators etc – do in the evolutionary process.

  • 27 Inspiring Blender Animations That Will Make Your Jaw Drop
    Well, I’ve been hanging out in the Blender community for the last 8 years and so I’ve encountered quite a lot of blender animatons. You’d be surprised at the quality of blender animations out there.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox roadmap, Do-not-track update, New beta, Summer of Code and much more…
        In this issue…

        * Firefox in 2011 * Meet Mike Hommey * Help teach girls the power of the Web! * What’s up with Socorro? * Results of the Firefox 4 FIXED Bugday * Introducing Perf-O-Matic 2.0 * Mozilla and the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation partner * More on Do-not-track! * Mozilla in Summer of Code 2011 * An Overview of the AMO Review Process * Design Jam London #2 * It’s a wrap: FOSDEM * Software updates * Upcoming events * Developer calendar * About about:mozilla

      • Do Not Track arrives in Firefox beta, ad industry not on board yet
        Mozilla has rolled out an eleventh beta release of Firefox 4, the next major version of the browser. In addition to the usual assortment of bugfixes and performance improvements, the new beta also adds support for a "Do Not Track" setting.

        The implications of behavioral advertising are a growing source of concern among privacy advocates. In an effort to appease regulators, the most prominent Internet advertising companies voluntarily offer a cookie-based opt-out service that allows users to indicate to advertisers that they don't want to be tracked. It's a good start, but Mozilla sees a lot of room for improvement.

      • Wiki Wednesday: February 9, 2011

      • Firefox Takes Unusual Approach In Unveiling ‘Do Not Track’ Option
        For all the talk among among policymakers and the press about online privacy, it still isn’t clear how much average consumers are even aware of online ad tracking. Firefox, the browser of choice for a third of all internet users, is apparently looking to change that. The beta of the latest version of Firefox trumpets the new “Do Not Track” feature prominently—listing it, in large font, as the very first item on the “What’s New in Firefox 4” page. The move could increase the pressure on other browser companies as well as advertisers to beef up their own privacy options.

      • Time to Stop Managing Tabs
        There have been many add-ons to Firefox that help users organize their tabs to hide unwanted tabs. One approach is to automatically place newly opened tabs as children of a parent tab, and another is to let the user manually group tabs by dragging them over each other. Now with a group of tabs, the user can collapse the group to appear as a single item to give more space to the remaining tabs.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Contracts for Java
      If you’ve ever spent hours debugging your Java code, today’s blog post is for you.

      Often bugs that are frustratingly elusive and hard to track down appear simple or even trivial once you have found their cause (the fault). Why are those bugs hard to track down? One possibility is that the fault is in a completely different part of the program than its symptom (the failure).

    • LibreOffice 3.3: First Impressions
      LibreOffice is a cross-platform (Windows, Macintosh, Linux) derivative productivity suite that includes the six original applications: Writer, Calc, Base, Impress, Calc, and Draw. The LibreOffice project has also merged code, patches, and other resources from the now discontinued Go-oo project.


      Sure, LibreOffice 3.3 is basically a recolored OO.o, at this point.

  • CMS

  • Project Releases

    • MuseScore 1.0 is released
      We are proud to present MuseScore 1.0, our best and most stable release to date. MuseScore 1.0 is free software available for Windows, Mac and Linux and translated in 35 languages. It is the ideal solution for creating beautiful sheet music.

    • Shutter 0.87
      New version of Shutter, a somewhat underestimated screenshooting tool for Linux, is out with both internal and user visible changes.

  • Government

    • IdealGov evidence to Public Admin Select Cttee enquiry into government IT
      4. It’s true that Government expenditure on IT has been excessive in the last decade. It’s the highest per capita spend of any major European economy, approaching the very high per capita spend of Nordic countries which offer higher and far more e-enabled levels of social care. Reasons include large, unmanageable centralised systems, excessive supplier margins, inflexible contracts which exact punitive charges for essential changes. But above all the problem is a deeper and wider failure to ensure government IT is based on the right intentions.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Designing assessment and credit pathways for open education learners
      Getting students formal credit for their free and open education is a challenge, but groups and institutions are working around the world to come up with alternative pathways to recognition. The Peer 2 Peer University (P2PU) is one such group that explored the topic in an assessment workshop last September and then co-designed virtual “badges” for recognition in real time at the Mozilla Drumbeat Festival in Barcelona. P2PU and Mozilla are piloting these badges via the P2PU School of Webcraft, and have solicited would-be developers for the skills and competencies that would best be reflected by a badge system. In collaboration with the MacArthur Foundation, they have drafted An Open Badge System Framework: A foundational piece on assessment and badges (Google doc).

    • Community

    • Open Access/Content

      • The Open Knowledge Foundation will soon help to run ePSIplatform
        We’re proud to announce that the Open Knowledge Foundation is part of a new team which will take on the maintenance of ePSIplatform project for the next two years. As many of you will know ePSIplatform is a key resource for people interested in laws, policies and practices related to the reuse of European Public Sector Information (PSI).

      • Thoughts on the HEFCE Review of JISC
        Finally the thing I felt most uncomfortable was the seeming dismissal of JISCs support of the ‘open’ agenda as being ‘controversial’. This smacked of publisher influence and made me a little sad.


        So many of my beliefs about the (open) web were founded during my time at JISC thanks to the opportunities I was given and the amount of doors that were opened up to me just by being a member of JISC that I’ll always be supportive of the organisation no matter what direction it goes in but I think my support would wane considerably if ‘open’ was off the table.

  • Programming

    • Gets a Shiny New Look
      Today we are proud to unveil a brand new look, which will lay a clean, simple foundation for the rebirth of the entire site.

    • Eclipse takes on content management
      The Eclipse Foundation is making a move into content management, with Nuxeo donating Java-based content management repository services to the open source tools organization.

      The Eclipse Enterprise Content Repository project is being unveiled Wednesday. It features such services as versioning, authentication, and document content management from the Nuxeo Enterprise Platform. The project, if it gains its expected approval, will build on the initial contribution to deliver a modular content repository leveraging the CMIS (OASIS Content Management Interoperability Services) standard, Nuxeo said. The company said it is spinning off the project in an effort to spur innovation in the content management space.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • W3C Priorities and Milestones in 2011
      Last year I published several posts about our efforts to establish a new vision for the W3C organization. I wanted to update you on how we have turned the results of the organizational vision task forces into specific plans and actions.


  • Obama Creates World’s First Superstate With US-Canada Merger

  • Harper scorns Commons call to reverse corporate tax cuts; opposition wins vote
    Opposition parties have joined forces to demand that the Harper government reverse tax cuts for the largest, most profitable corporations.

    A Liberal motion calling on the government to roll back the corporate tax rate to 18 per cent has passed by a vote of 149-134, with the support of the NDP and Bloc Quebecois.

  • Mayor of Detroit rejects RoboCop statue suggestion
    Paul Verhoeven's RoboCop was a classic of 80s action cinema. So why won't the mayor of Detroit erect a statue in the law enforcer's honour...?

  • The Boy Who Harnessed The Wind

  • High-ranking Scientologist's defection, in detail
    I've casually followed scandals regarding the C of S for decades, mostly out of curiousity about the "free personality tests" I'd see as a kid, and later, because of high-profile anti-anonymity/dirty tricks involving the Internet, starting with the outing of the users of the remailer. There wasn't an enormous amount of new material in here, though Wright does a good job of spinning out Haggis's remarkable life in Scientology and in the entertainment industry, and, towards the end, some damning material about physical abuse and financial malfeasance from the Church's highest leaders.

  • Are Federal Courts Biased in Favor of Big Business?
    A panel discussion today at the New York University School of Law explored the touchy subject of whether business interests hold too much sway over federal judges.

    Moderated by NYU’s Arthur Miller, a/k/a Mr. Federal Court and organized by the American Constitution Society, the discussion was a veritable who’s who of high-wattage thinkers from the worlds of academia (George Washington’s Jeffrey Rosen), public policy (Monica Youn of the Brennan Center for Justice) private practice (Latham & Watkins’s Maureen Mahoney and trial lawyer Stephen Susman), along with many, many more.

  • Cisco Linksys routers still don't support IPv6
    It's hard to fathom why Cisco hasn't added IPv6 to its Linksys consumer routers yet, but the company has promised support will come this spring.

  • The 10 types of crappy interview questions

  • Huffington Should Pay the Bloggers Something Now
    We already know that Arianna Huffington is smart. She and her small team have built a media company from nothing in just a few years, and now they’re flipping it to AOL, where she’ll be content editor in chief. The price sounds bizarrely high to me at $315 million, but so do lots of prices these days in what looks like a new Internet bubble.

    Others have commented at length on the synergy of the deal. If AOL is going after a link-driven community, the blend could work in the long run. The Huffington Post has been evolving from its origins, as the left-wing op-ed page of the Internet, into a blend of aggregation, curation, pandering — all of which have been done with some genuinely intriguing if not innovative technology initiatives — and some home-grown content. The first three of those are likely to be, in the end, much more important for the business than the original content.

  • Huffington Post and AOL: the end of Web 2.0
    It's because we write for HuffPo for free, and – because it's Arianna – we do it without resentment. There's value being extracted from our labour, for sure, by advertisers or whoever, but the sense was always that we were writing for Arianna – contributing to an empire that spent its winnings bussing people to watch Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert do their thing in Washington.

  • Bloomsbury eyes worldwide rights
    As digital platforms grow and morph, it's getting harder to understand who owns what rights. In the Publisher's Weekly piece, Bloomsbury's Richard Charkin said "Bloomsbury won't do a deal that doesn't include digital rights." This concept of including digital rights will become even more important as publishers such as Harper Collins start packaging digital rights with audio rights.

  • Cameron’s approach to “British values” is outdated and divisive
    David Cameron’s speech in Munich on the failure of multiculturalism showed that the Prime Minister has not yet learnt to master nailing jelly to the wall either. There was little new in a speech, which emphasised the muddled thinking within the coalition on this sensitive issue.
  • My Life as an EIR
    While there are as many variations on the EIR position as there are venture firms, there are two flavors, generally speaking: Entrepreneur-in-Residence and Executive-in-Residence. Most firms have some experience with Entrepreneur-in-Residence programs. Essentially, they give office space, coffee and food to a proven entrepreneur so he or she can spend a few months researching or prototyping a new product or service.

  • Science

    • Our misunderstanding of evolution is distressing
      This Saturday, Feb. 12, would have been Charles Darwin’s 202nd birthday. While his place in history is assured, the theory he popularized is misunderstood or disbelieved by a great number of Americans.

      Recent polls have found that out of the world’s democracies, the United States ranks second to last (Turkey is last) in acceptance of evolution. This is disturbing, as it contributes to the decline of American power in the 21st century.

    • House Republicans push energy and science cuts
      But with Obama pushing for targeted increases in scientific research and other areas, consensus will not come easily.

    • Google's Eric Schmidt predicts the future of computing - and he plans to be involved
      In the days when Eric Schmidt first starting getting excited by computers, the only way he could find directions to the next town would be by looking at a map. Printed on paper. In a book.

      The only way he could find out what his friends thought of a restaurant in New York would be by ringing them, each individually, and asking them.

    • Without language, numbers make no sense
      People need language to fully understand numbers. This discovery – long suspected, and now backed by strong evidence – may shed light on the way children acquire their number sense.

      Previous studies of Amazon tribes who lack words for numbers greater than three – or, in the case of the Pirahã, for any numbers at all – had shown that they struggle to understand precise quantities, when numbers are relatively large.

    • NASA Invents New Technique For Finding Alien Life
      Researchers from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, Calif., have come up with an idea to improve on an old standby of space exploration instruments and improve the odds of finding life, if any, on Mars.

    • Kepler Data Visualized
      Last week the Kepler satellite released results indicating that the mission had discovered over 1200 planetary candidates (most of which are expected to be actual planets) orbiting stars in our neighborhood of the galaxy. In technical terms, that’s a “buttload.” A back-of-the-envelope calculation implies that there might be a million or so “Earth-like” planets in our Milky Way galaxy. A tiny fraction of the hundred billion stars we have, but still a healthy number.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Tories team with Liberals to kill genetically modified food legislation
      Liberal MPs teamed up with the Conservatives on Wednesday to kill legislation that would have required the government to take into account a Canadian farmer's access to overseas markets when considering approval of new genetically modified seeds.

      The private member's bill, authored by the NDP's agriculture critic, was voted down in the House of Commons 178 to 98, following an aggressive lobby campaign by the biotechnology industry's group, BIOTECanada.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Israel bombs medical aid warehouse in Gaza
      Israeli aircraft carried out a number of air raids on the Gaza Strip early on Wednesday 9 February, destroying a medical aid warehouse in Gaza City. The raids began shortly after midnight, hitting several places across the Strip, from Jabaliya in the north to the Rafah border with Egypt in the south.

    • Just How Rich Is Hosni Mubarak?
      While a fifth of Egyptians live on less than $2 a day, Mubarak is worth somewhere between $40 billion and $75 billion, CNN's Tom Foreman estimates. Egyptian law fixes the president's income, and forbids any outside sources of money. Foreman reports that Mubarak's wealth likely comes from his time in the military--he probably had a hand in military contracts and kept up his contacts over the years. That said, peruse at these photos, and you might also give credence to some of the other theories as to how Mubarak got quite so rich--contracts don't really seem to explain this kind of opulence.

    • 28 hours in the dark heart of Egypt's torture machine
      The sickening, rapid click-click-clicking of the electrocuting device sounded like an angry rattlesnake as it passed within inches of my face. Then came a scream of agony, followed by a pitiful whimpering from the handcuffed, blindfolded victim as the force of the shock propelled him across the floor.

      A hail of vicious punches and kicks rained down on the prone bodies next to me, creating loud thumps. The torturers screamed abuse all around me. Only later were their chilling words translated to me by an Arabic-speaking colleague: "In this hotel, there are only two items on the menu for those who don't behave – electrocution and rape."

    • Reagan Revisionism And Reagan Mythology
      Before I wade into this, I should summarize my view of Reagan. I don't think he was a great president. The main accomplishment which he's credited, winning the Cold War, is one in which his policies contributed a very small amount. The most important cause of the fall of the Soviet Union by far was its failed, unsustainable political and economic system, which would have eventually collapsed regardless of American policy. (It's interesting that conservatives' mania for crediting Reagan with the fall of the USSR has required them to downplay the inherent faults of communism, which you'd think they'd naturally emphasize.) The second factor, a distant second, is the postwar containment architecture, created by Harry Truman and maintained by every president through George H.W. Bush, which including a military commitment to defend Western Europe, a series of anti-Soviet alliances, military support for governments threatened with communist invasion and occasional diplomatic or military support for anti-communist guerillas. A third factor, far less significant than the second, was Reagan's incremental ratcheting up of the bipartisan containment policy, which may have slightly hastened the Soviet crackup.

    • Omar Suleiman, “Egypt’s Torturer-in-Chief,” Tied to False Iraq WMD Tortured “Intel”
      Mayer added to her piece: “Katherine Hawkins, a sharp-eyed human-rights lawyer who did legal research for my book, points out that, according to [author Ron] Suskind, Suleiman was the CIA’s liaison for the rendition of an Al Qaeda suspect known as Ibn Sheikh al-Libi. The Libi case is particularly controversial, in large part because it played a role in the building of the case for the American invasion of Iraq.”

    • Since D.C.'s handgun ban ended, well-heeled residents have become well armed
      Since the landmark court ruling in June 2008, records show, more than 1,400 firearms have been registered with D.C. police, most in the western half of the District. Among those guns, nearly 300 are in the high-income, low-crime Georgetown, Palisades and Chevy Chase areas of Northwest.

      In all of the neighborhoods east of the Anacostia River - a broad swath of the city with more than 52,000 households, many of them in areas beset by poverty and drug-related violence - about 240 guns have been registered.

    • An expert view on the crime map
      Ultimately, any information-sharing initiative like this should have, at its core, a set of outcomes that the initiative hopes to achieve. What do we want people to do with this information? Then, with these outcomes in mind, we must ask whether the initiative provides enough information, or the right type of information, to achieve them.

      For instance, advocates of these measures usually say that they want the public to be able to see where the hot spots are and take steps to prevent their own victimization. So what information would a typical citizen need to prevent victimization?

    • Businesses still waiting for G20 compensation
      Business owners in Toronto have asked for more than $10-million in compensation in lost profits following last summer’s G20 Summit that shut down portions of the downtown core, the federal government has revealed.

      There have been 371 applications for ex-gratia payments to the Summit Management Office that total $10,656,869.

      As of Jan. 5, 44 claims had been rejected, according to documents tabled last week in response to written questions from NDP MP Olivia Chow.

    • Shooting the Messenger: Egyptian Journalist Shot Dead by Sniper While Covering Cairo Protests
      The only journalist known to have been killed during the Egyptian uprising was honored Monday in Cairo. Ahmed Mohamed Mahmoud was a reporter for the state-owned newspaper Al Ta’awun. He was shot on January 28 when he tried to use his phone to film riot police as they fired tear gas canisters at protesters.

    • Ghonim and Suleiman: The Two Sides of Egypt
      One man is an emotional 30-year-old protest leader and regional manager for the world's largest Internet company who has become the reluctant face of a revolutionary movement.

      The other man is a reserved 74-year-old former longtime head of the feared Egyptian General Intelligence Services who was appointed as a dictator's first vice president in the midst of a national crisis.

      Together, Wael Ghonim and Omar Suleiman have come to represent the two sides of the revolutionary unrest in Egypt. Each personify the struggle not just in their current statements and behavior, but also in their backgrounds and the manner in which were thrust from the shadows into the limelight as the protest movement took shape.

      Suleiman could be described as not just a member of the establishment in Egypt - it's also probably fair to give him a good bit of credit for having helped prop up Mubarak's regime for nearly two decades. Often described as suave and collected, Suleiman has used his fluency in English and powerful position in the intelligence services to become an important go-between for Washington and Cairo.

    • U.K. Police Will Use Twitter to React to Protestors
      While some countries aim to stop revolution by cutting off access to services like Twitter and Facebook, others try to turn social media use on its ear and use these services to monitor its population. Late last month, the Egypt erupted in revolution and the government quickly shut off all social media, before shutting down the Internet entirely. China has taken a similar stance, banning sites like Twitter and Facebook for long periods of time, as an attempt to prevent protests, among other things.

  • Cablegate

    • Lawyer: Julian Assange Was in Hiding — from Sarah Palin
      Julian Assange could not be reached by the Swedish authorities who are investigating sex-crimes allegations against him because the WikiLeaks founder had become spooked by "death threats" issued by American politicians, including Sarah Palin, Assange's Swedish lawyer told a British court on Tuesday.

    • Britain, France, and U.S. considered suspending war crimes investigation into Sudanese president
      During the summer of 2008, Britain, France, and the United States discussed the possibility of delaying the Internatoinal Criminal Court (ICC) investigation into Sudanese President Omar Hussein al-Bashir -- if Bashir's government played ball in Darfur and Southern Sudan. According to a series of cables released by WikiLeaks on Tuesday, the three powers considered enticing Sudan's president with an Article 16 deferral of his indictment -- a U.N. Security Council resolution that could suspend the investigation for up to 12 months. According to an August 2008 cable, "If 'played right,' the UK [United Kingdom] assessed the leverage of an Article 16 deferral could provide an opportunity to ameliorate conditions in Darfur and possibly the [implementation of the] Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA) [that ended conflict between northern and southern Sudan]."

    • Details on the strange death of a former Chilean president
      The death of former Chilean President Eduardo Frei Montalva is that country's equivalent of the John F. Kennedy assassaination: a national mystery around which so much speculation circulates that no truth will probably ever be known. On a January day in 1982, Frei checked into the hospital in the capital, Santiago, for what should have been a routine operation. Hours later, he was dead. His family and supporters believe he was poisoned. A December 2009 cable released by WikiLeaks on Tuesday offers odd details about what happened next -- including an in-hospital autopsy -- that will only further stoke the conspiracy theories.


      So in short, no resolution and lots more intrigue. As the December 2009 cable puts it: "the death of this emblematic president seems destined to be yet one more area [from the Pinochet years] in which the full truth may never be known."

    • Air Force Abandons WikiLeaks Threats Against Servicemembers’ Families
      The US Air Force has backed off of its puzzling threat to prosecute members of servicemembers’ families for “espionage” if they read WikiLeaks today, insisting that the “guidance” they released was actually not sanctions by headquarters and was not in keeping with official policy.

    • WikiLeaks hearing set in dispute over Twitter data
      Share 99

      A federal judge in Virginia has set a hearing for next week in a high-profile case that will decide whether the U.S. Justice Department can obtain records about the Twitter accounts used by WikiLeaks activists.

      The hearing, scheduled for February 15 in Alexandra, Va., is expected to focus on whether the Justice Department has the legal justification for its request for the account details, and whether the almost-entirely-secret court records in this case should be made available for public viewing.

    • Americans for Assange

    • Crowdsigliere: Plouffe Asks for a Little Public Guidance
      The Obama White House's latest effort to use this here Internet to connect members of the public with folks working inside the executive branch is a little project they're calling "Advise the Advisor," where-in an administration official frames what's happening on the presidential front and then asks for feedback from anyone who cares to give it. Think of it as "Your Direct Line to the White House," said the White House at the program's launch yesterday, and in the first installment, David Plouffe, the Obama campaign manager who joined the administration in a formal capacity last month, asks for takes from the masses on what they're seeing in the world of innovation, and in particular what seems to be stymieing it in the United States at the moment.

    • Please explain uranium move, Greens demand
      The Australian Greens are demanding the Gillard government explain whether it privately supports uranium sales to India.

      Leaked WikiLeaks cables reveal Resources Minister Martin Ferguson told US officials in 2009 a deal to supply India with nuclear fuel could be reached within years.

      The stance contradicts the government's public position of insisting that India sign up to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty before being allowed to import Australian uranium.

    • WikiLeaks exposes Oz double speak on uranium sale to India
      Ferguson also said that former prime minister and serving foreign affairs minister Kevin Rudd had been "careful to leave the door open" for uranium sales to India.

    • EXCLUSIVE EXCERPT: Wikileaks, Assange, And Why There's No Turning Back
      Half a year later, Assange was no longer a relatively obscure Australian transparency activist. ""--WikiLeaks' publication at of a decrypted American military video showing two U.S. Apache helicopter gunships firing on and killing about a dozen Iraqi civilians, including two Reuters journalists--had vaulted him onto the global stage. And with our annual New York PdF conference around the corner in June, Andrew and I thought we had pulled off a coup: the first-ever face-to-face appearance of Assange with his hero Ellsberg, on stage together to talk about how the Internet was changing the power of whistleblowers.

    • WikiLeaks: oil deal executive 'was paid €£46,000 a month'
      Mark Rollins, vice-president of BG Group in Kazakhstan, was overseeing negotiations about selling a stake in an oil field to Kazmunaigaz, the state-owned oil company.

      In January the US ambassador in Kazakhstan had dinner with Maksat Idenov, former vice-president of Kazmunaigaz. As he arrived at the restaurant in Astana, the capital, Mr Idenov was apparently finishing a call to Mr Rollins.

      According to the ambassador, he was angry because Mr Rollins had failed to deliver a letter about arbitration of the oil field to the energy minister.

      The cable states: “When the Ambassador arrived, Idenov was barking into his cell phone, 'Mark, Mark, stop the excuses! Mark, listen to me! Mark, shut up right now and do as I say! Bring the letter to my office at 10pm’.”

    • Data intelligence firms proposed a systematic attack against WikiLeaks
      After a tip from, The Tech Herald has learned that HBGary Federal, as well as two other data intelligence firms, worked to develop a strategic plan of attack against WikiLeaks. The plan included pressing a journalist in order to disrupt his support of the organization, cyber attacks, disinformation, and other potential proactive tactics.

    • Did Security Firms Pitch Bank Of America On Sabotaging WikiLeaks?
      According to a report at the tech news site Tech Herald, data intelligence firms including Palantir, Berico and HBGary were all recruited by the law firm Hunton & Williams to propose ways of subverting or sabotaging WikiLeaks on behalf of Bank of America. Those plans were found in the hacked email account of HBGary executive Aaron Barr, after he was targeted by the loose hacker group Anonymous in retaliation for what the group believed was an attempt to infiltrate its ranks and identify members to the FBI. (Forbes reporter Parmy Olson interviewed Barr about the ongoing incident Tuesday.)

      Among the files pulled from those 50,000 stolen emails are what appear to be suggestions by the firm and its collaborators about how WikiLeaks could be weakened, sabotaged or shut down. The emails suggest the three security firms were pulled together at the request of the law firm Hunton & Williams. One month into the talks, Booz Allen Hamilton was also brought in as a consultant, as the New York Times reported in January.

    • Wikileaks: No 10 urged commander to play down Afghanistan failures
      A senior adviser to Gordon Brown put pressure on the commander of Nato forces in Afghanistan to play down the “bleak and deteriorating” situation to reduce criticism of his government, leaked documents disclose.

    • WikiLeaks: Mohamed ElBaradei was 'too soft on Tehran’
      The United States and Israel warned that Mohamed ElBaradei, a key leader of the Egyptian opposition, was soft on Iran and was becoming “part of the problem” in the Middle East, according to leaked diplomatic cables.

    • Why Kim Jong-il wished Egypt's Mubarak a Happy New Year
      In this Jan. 23 photo, North Korea's leader Kim Jong Il talks with Naguib Sawiris, executive chairman of Cairo-based Orascom Telecom, at an undisclosed place in North Korea. Kim held talks with the Egyptian telecoms magnate whose company set up and operates an advanced mobile phone network in the impoverished communist nation.

    • WikiLeaks: Hosni Mubarak told US not to topple Saddam Hussein
      By ignoring his advice and invading Iraq, Mr Mubarak warned that the Americans had managed to increase the threat posed by Iran.

      Mr Mubarak made the comments during a breakfast meeting with US congressmen at the presidential palace in Cairo in December, 2008.

      He told one of the delegation, Sen Byron Dorgan, that the US needed to ''listen to its friends” in the region.


      “'I told (Vice President) Cheney three or four times’ that Iraq needed a strong leader and that it would be unwise to remove Saddam Hussein; doing so would only 'open the gate to Iran.’ Unfortunately, he said, the vice-president did not listen to his advice.”

    • WikiLeaks fights to keep Twitter data from U.S. government
      An Icelandic lawmaker and two other people associated with the website WikiLeaks are asking a federal judge not to force the social networking site Twitter to turn over data about whom they communicate with online.

      The dispute cuts to the core of the question of whether WikiLeaks allies are part of a criminal conspiracy or a political discussion. It also challenges the Obama administration's argument that it can demand to see computer data and read months' worth of private messages, even if they have nothing to do with WikiLeaks.

    • Greg Mitchell: WikiLeaks vs. Donald Rumsfeld's Lies: An Eyewitness Account
      WikiLeaks' massive "war logs" release on Iraq last October exposed Rumsfeld in this regard over and over, but were quickly forgotten by mainstream journalists -- even though the material was not "political" or even from the media but rather from U.S. soldiers on the ground.

    • Air Force: Reading WikiLeaks is espionage
      This is something of an interesting twist in the larger WikiLeaks espionage debate, which is proceeding apace. Today in Alexandra, Virginia, WikiLeaks supporters are in court to try to prevent the U.S. government's request to Twitter to reveal their private information. Ostensibly, tweeters who helped disseminate the leaked cables could be implicated in any eventual espionage case against the whistle-blower organization.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • WikiLeaks May Have Just Confirmed That Peak Oil Is Imminent
      It's getting more and more difficult to deny that an oil supply crunch is just a few years down the road, especially now that WikiLeaks has released cables revealing that Saudi Arabia's oil reserves have been exaggerated by as much as 40%, or 300 billion barrels. Saudi Arabia is the world's largest oil exporter.

    • Attack Of The Anti-Green Mutant Right Wing Computer Geek
      So let’s get this straight. There’s some huge conspiracy that exists to claim Climate Change is real, and it exists because there’s some huge economic benefit to scientists and certain companies.

      And this benefit is so huge that it’s killing small businesses like Exxon, BP, etc. that are in the oil and coal businesses. It’s going to kill thousands of U.S. jobs, even though most of the jobs in the oil business are actually overseas, where the oil is actually pumped! Which doesn’t mention the thousands of workers required to build, install and maintain wind turbines, solar cells, etc.

      When things don’t add up, you have to look carefully at the numbers. First let’s look at those small businesses which are under threat by the powerful Climate Change Lobby:

      Exxon Mobil – Sales of $269 Billion for 3/4 year – from Jan. 2010 to Sept. 2010

      BP – Sales of $239 Billion for 2009 – 2010 report not finished yet

      OK, let’s take a step back. The rich Climate Change Bullies were pushing around a bunch of small businesses. At least that’s the impression we were given. But the numbers don’t make those look like small businesses. Not small at all. Hell, Microsoft often considered one of the most successful companies on the planet only managed sales of $62 Billion in fiscal year 2010.

      These companies are big enough to look out for themselves. Why is everyone concerned about the Climate Change Bullies hurting them? Could the Climate Change Bullies even have any effect on them? Rather it would seem like the classical mouse-elephant confrontation.

  • Finance

    • The Myth of Obama's Big Spending
      Does the president really suffer from what House Speaker John Boehner calls a “spending illness”? Not according to an exclusive Newsweek-Daily Beast estimate of his outlays on new legislation since taking office.

      Nothing unites Republicans quite like the unshakable belief that Barack Obama has become the Carrie Bradshaw of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, unable to stop himself from frittering away ridiculous sums of money on frivolous things. But what Republicans never mention when railing against Obama’s alleged fiscal recklessness is how much money he has spent, and what exactly he’s spent it on.

    • Organized Crime: The World's Largest Social Network

    • Banks agree Project Merlin lending and bonus deal
      A long-awaited agreement with the largest UK banks on lending, pay and bonuses has been announced.

      Under Project Merlin, banks will lend about €£190bn to businesses this year - including €£76bn to small firms - curb bonuses and reveal some salary details of their top earners.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Glenn Beck: Should Fox Toss Him Out of the Coop?
      Glenn Beck is walking toward a cliff -- or running, or skipping. The question is, will Fox News go flying over the edge with him, or give him a push?

      For years, Beck has pitched various conspiracy theories with a rather predictable thrust: The left is out to take over and/or destroy the United States. (The relationship between assuming control of the country and scheming its decimation has always been a bit fuzzy.) And his targets have been sinister lefty outfits that are not household names: the Tides Foundation, ACORN, and others. As long as Beck stuck to this classic tale -- secret commies undermining this great land of ours -- he wasn't much of a problem to most conservatives and his patrons at Fox. Sure, some conservative commentators (such as David Frum) derided Beck. But Beck was more like the crazy uncle in the attic who could be ignored. And Fox News could bank the revenue Beck generated without worry. Good ratings forgive much.

    • Olbermann Said to Be Going to Current TV
      Keith Olbermann, the former MSNBC anchor, will host a prime time program for Current TV, the low-rated cable channel co-founded by Al Gore. The one-hour program will begin sometime in the spring.

      Mr. Olbermann will also become the chief news officer for Current, the company said in a news release Tuesday.

      “We are delighted to provide Keith with the independent platform and freedom that Current can, and does uniquely offer,” Mr. Gore said in a statement.

    • Fox News Brings Video Game Violence Debate To a New Low

  • Censorship

    • French LOPPSI Bill Adopted: The Internet under Control?
      Yesterday afternoon, the French Parliament voted the LOPPSI bill whose 4th article enables administrative censorship of the Internet, using child protection as a Trojan horse. Over time, such an extra-judiciary set-up will enable a generalized censorship of all Internet content. Consistent with Nicolas Sarkozy projects for a “Civilized Internet”, administrative censorship of the Internet opens the door to dangerous abuse while leaving pedophiles and pedo-pornography to prosper.

    • Egypt's Internet Blackout Highlights Danger of Weak Links, Usefulness of Quick Links
      In response to ongoing protests, Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak ordered a shutdown of all Internet access for five whole days, from January 28 to February 2, but social media and news continued to flow in and out of the country thanks to a group of protagonists dedicated to supporting the flow of information.

      EFF board member and co-founder John Gilmore once described the technical robustness of the Internet against censorship by saying: "The Internet interprets censorship as damage and routes around it." Egypt's Internet blackout demonstrated an additional dimension to this adage: that the Internet's anti-censorship features are enhanced by, and to some extent may depend upon, the willingness of individuals and companies to stand up for free expression.

    • Stop the Switch!
      Inspired by Egypt’s ability to cut off internet access to almost all of its people, governments around the world are racing to develop the same kind of “internet kill switch.” As we saw in Egypt, information blackouts created by shutting off the internet, fundamentally deny people their freedom of speech, prevent them from doing business online, and stop them from communicating with their friends and family. The spectre of an internet kill switch is now facing people living in democracies and dictatorships alike -- there is even an "internet kill switch" bill before the U.S. Congress!

  • Civil Rights

    • Rank-and-file reject Patriot Act
      House Republicans Tuesday night got a harsh introduction to the majority, as more than two dozen rank-and-file GOP lawmakers voted against reauthorizing the Patriot Act.

      And just hours before the vote on the Bush-era homeland security measure, GOP leaders yanked a trade bill from consideration as the Ways and Means Committee is “working through issues.”

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/UBB

    • Shaw backs away from usage-based Internet billing
      Shaw Communications is suspending plans to charge customers for going over their Internet usage limits.

      Company president Peter Bissonnette said one option that could be considered is a no-cap, unlimited Internet service.

      Shaw made the move in response to consumer outrage that was fuelled by a crackdown on customers who exceed the bandwidth caps on their Internet plans — a crackdown that coincided with a CRTC decision that effectively put an end to unlimited Internet plans in Canada. "We're putting everything on hold," Bissonnette said.

    • French Government Wants to Sacrifice Net Neutrality
      By giving telecom operators the possibility to sell prioritized access to the network, the government would put an end to equality among Internet users. Time after time, Nicolas Sarkozy's vision of the “Civilized Internet” that he's promoting at the G8/G20 level is coming to light: an Internet controlled by the State and by telecommunications and entertainment industries, while fundamental liberties are shunted to the side.

    • Why the US should be very worried about Canada's debate on Usage based billing
      Canada and the US have many similarities with respect to the makeup of the Internet market. Both countries’ Internet markets are largely controlled by a duopoly of cable and telephone companies. This ersatz competition between telephone and cable companies has given regulators and policy makers on both sides of the border the excuse that this supposed competitive market will solve all problems. More importantly both countries are also allowing major concentration of ownership between pipe and content providers. In the US it is the marriage of Comcast and NBC. In Canada it is Bell and CTV as well as Shaw and Global TV.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Whiners, mercenaries and alternatives
      Large telecommunications companies, copyright stock owners and some content producers complain that large centralized content sites now concentrate a large share of Internet usage, creating unbalance in the traffic. These centralized sites are accused of free riding without contributing to financing infrastructures nor remunerating artists (read producers and distributors).

    • Copyrights

      • Spanish author mocks Latin pop star copyright troll to benefit hungry kids in Africa
        Via the BB Submitterator, reader GuidoDavid says, "Juan Gómez-Jurado, who wrote a great piece against criminalizing of downloads in Spain, was challenged by copyright troll, tax dodger and singer Alejandro Sanz to offer his novel for free. He did, and donated the resulting 4000 euros to the charity Save The Children."

      • Judge rules ACS:Law cases to continue
        ACS:Law and its client MediaCAT have failed to see 27 cases of alleged illegal filesharing discontinued, the London Patents Count Court heard today.

        Judge Birss QC confirmed the cases have been stayed, saying the notices of discontinuance were an abuse of the court’s processes.

        Earlier this month, it emerged both MediaCAT and ACS:Law had shut down and wanted the proceedings, which they initiated, to come to a close.

      • Your tweets aren’t private and can be quoted in the UK press
        The decision by the Press Complaints Commission follows a complaint from a government official whose tweets about being hungover at work were published in the Daily Mail and Independent on Sunday newspapers. The BBC reports that Sarah Baskerville claimed that she had a reasonable right to expect privacy on Twitter.

      • Is Downloading And Converting A YouTube Video To An MP3 Infringement?
        The reality is that this is yet another case of the law not being able to keep up with technology. There simply is no intellectually honest rationale that says recording songs off the radio is legal, but recording songs off your computer is illegal. It's a weak attempt by an industry that doesn't want to deal with changing technology to put in place laws that prevent what the technology allows. Those never work.

      • R.E.M. Stands For R.E.M.I.X. (The SoundCloud Singles)
        R.E.M.’s upcoming album Collapse Into Now is coming in March, but the band is already getting the buzz going with a little crowdsourcing experiment. A couple days ago, the album’s producer released some tracks from the song “It Happened Today” in files that can easily be imported into Garageband, the music mixing software that comes on new Macs. Fans are invited to remix the song and upload their new versions under Creative Commons license to SoundCloud.

      • Your chance to re-make the UK’s IP laws in the image of a startup
        Back in November last year the UK’s Prime Minister said he was announcing a number of initiatives aimed at technology companies. Since then there have been a few periphery announcements from the various large tech companies (Google, Facebook et al) about what they would do to help. But one thing that was on the agenda was a review of the Intellectual Property rules. PM David Cameron confirmed a six month review into IP law that he hopes will help attract technology companies to the UK.

        The US position on IP leans towards a ‘fair use’ environment, whereby IP can be used to a certain level without owner consent. This is very close the to Creative Commons licenses which aided the growth of startups like Flickr. In the UK copyrighted material is more highly restricted in use. Generally in Europe we rely too much on copyright and not enough on innovation. Witness Nokia’s suing of Apple for instance.

      • Anti-transparency
        IMPORTANT NOTICE: None of the information contained in this legal notice is to be transmitted and/or released to any third party, including but not limited to Chilling Effects (, without the express written permission of the the copyright owner and or his agent. As stated in Section 512 of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, and in the normal course of processing and notifying the infringing counter party, recipient must only include information specific to that counter party's infringement and must not include this entire notice. Any re-transmission in whole or in part of this legal notice by the intended recipient will be a direct violation of U.S. and International Copyright Law and will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law by the copyright owner.

      • MPAA sues Hotfile file sharing service
        On behalf of U.S. movie studios, the MPAA filed the civil lawsuit against Hotfile and its operator, Anton Titov, in U.S. District Court in the Southern District of Florida, for damages and injunctive relief for violations under the United States Copyright Act of 1976. Hotfile is based in Panama City, Panama.

      • Filesharing prosecutions will face serious problems, says judge
        A senior court judge has pointed to severe problems with the way the Digital Economy Act enables copyright owners to prosecute people accused of illegal filesharing.

        Judge Birss QC said on Tuesday that the process of connecting copyright infringement to a named individual based on their use of an internet address is fraught with difficulties because internet connections, or IP addresses, are often used by more than one person.

      • Is It Copyright Infringement To Pass A DMCA Notice On To ChillingEffects?
        Yes, that's right. The company is claiming that the DMCA takedown notice itself is copyrighted and that passing it along will constitute infringement. Of course, this raises some questions. Assuming that such a notice is copyrightable (and I'd argue that, depending on the text, it might not be), who owns the copyright. The paragraph above appears to imply that it's the copyright holder of the original content that the takedown notice is about, but that wouldn't be true. It seems that the copyright, if there is one, would be held by whoever wrote the letter, which is the third party firm hired by the original copyright holder. Also, did whoever write this letter actually register it with the Copyright Office?

      • Recording Industry Persecution Complex: Claiming EMI's Plight Is Due To File Sharing
        Can someone -- anyone -- explain how getting people to stop downloading creates a profit anywhere? Getting people to stop downloading doesn't magically make them start buying. And it's not like EMI hasn't been among the efforts by all the major record labels to get legislation changed for years, and all of that has done absolutely nothing to stop file sharing. It's pure folly to suggest that there's some sort of magical legislative move that will stop unauthorized file sharing and create "profits" at the same time.

      • Usenet Portal Loses Landmark Court Case Against BREIN
        FTD, one of the largest Usenet communities on the Internet, has lost the legal proceedings it started against Dutch anti-piracy outfit BREIN. The case, through which FTD hoped to have its operations declared legal, today resulted in a verdict which prohibits community members from talking about ‘locations’ where copyright infringing material can be downloaded.

        Founded in 2001, FTD is The Netherlands’ largest Usenet community with around 500,000 members. FTD and its associated software allows its members to ‘spot’ the location of material they find on Usenet, which could include the locations of copyrighted movies, music and TV shows.

      • Will the MPAA Target RapidShare, Megaupload or Dropbox?
        Hollywood opened up a new front in its war against piracy Tuesday by taking the Florida-based file host to court. Hotfile facilitates copyright infringement “on a staggering scale,” the Motion Picture Association of America alleged, and “profits handsomely” from distributing unlicensed copies of major motion pictures and TV shows.

        This is the first time the movie studios have taken a so-called one-click file host to court, and the legal arguments used in the lawsuit could spell trouble for sites like Megaupload and RapidShare, or even backup services like Dropbox.

      • ACTA

        • EU: ACTA Is A Binding Treaty; US: ACTA Is Neither Binding, Nor A Treaty
          We've noted in the past how the US government (mainly via the USTR) has worked hard to try to play down the importance of ACTA to its critics (while, simultaneously, playing up how important it is to various lobbyists). For example, after years of promising that ACTA wouldn't change any US laws, the fact that the US does not actually comply with everything in ACTA represents a problem. The USTR gets around this by saying that we can just ignore the parts that don't match up with US law. Also, there's the whole lie about how ACTA is not a treaty. Oh no no no. According to US officials, ACTA is merely an "executive agreement." Of course, if you talk to legal experts, they'll point out that the only real difference between a treaty and an executive agreement is whether or not the Senate has any say in approving it. Making it an executive agreement is just a ploy to avoid Senate hearings. It also raises serious constitutional questions, since the Executive branch of the US government has no mandate to approve such things.

        • 'War' On Fake Drugs Really An Excuse To Boost Big Pharma; Putting The Poor At Risk
          We've pointed out similar things before, but Oxfam has come out with a new report, claiming that the claims from developed nations about the need to fight "fake drugs," is quite frequently really just an excuse to protect big pharma firms from generic competition. No one is denying that actual fake drugs can potentially be harmful. But, the problem is that the various efforts, including ACTA, to deal with the issue often lump together actual dangerous fake pharmaceuticals with drugs that are simply cheaper but perfectly safe. Oxfam would like to see a legitimate strategy for getting the real fake drugs out of the market, but says the current strategies are all about boosting patent protections, increasing prices for the poor and developing nations and better protecting big pharma against upstart competitors.

Clip of the Day

Chernobyl The Lost Film

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Credit: TinyOgg

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Gemini Links 27/02/2024: Facebook as Containment Field and Depression Driven Development (DDD)
Links for the day
They're Adding Warnings Now: The Site "It's FOSS" is Not FOSS
It's better that they at least explicitly state this
Links 27/02/2024: Nevada Versus End-To-End Encryption, Birmingham Bankrupt
Links for the day
End of an Era
The Web isn't just filled with marketing spam but actual disinformation
[Meme] Onboarding New EPO Staff
You read the patent application and grant within hours
The Legacy Prolific Writers Leave Behind Them
"Free Software Credibility Index" after more than 15 years
The Ongoing Evolutionary Process of News-Reading (or News-Finding) on the World Wide Web
it gets worse
Phoronix in Google News
congratulating or welcoming Embrace, Extend, Extinguish (E.E.E.)
Google Fired Many Employees Working on Google News (Which Had Deteriorated and Became Gulag Noise, Littered and Gamed by Blogspam, Plagiarism, and Chatbot/Translator-Generated Spew), Now Comes the Likely 'Phase-out'
No wonder many yearn for the days of DMOZ and Web directories in general
IRC Proceedings: Monday, February 26, 2024
IRC logs for Monday, February 26, 2024
Over at Tux Machines...
GNU/Linux news for the past day
"It's Obvious There's No Future For Any of Us from Blizzard at Microsoft"
The rumours suggest that more Microsoft layoffs are on the way
[Meme] Who's the Boss?
"I thought EPC governed the Office"
Salary Adjustment Procedure (SAP) at the EPO and Why Workers' Salary is Actually Decreasing Each Year (Currency Loses Its Purchasing Power)
outline and update on a years-old blunder
Exposed: FSFE, Legal & Licensing Workshop (LLW), Legal Network & Modern Slavery
Reprinted with permission from Daniel Pocock