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01.27.10

Links 27/1/2010: KDE 4.4 RC3, GNOME Foundation Adds Bradley Kuhn

Posted in News Roundup at 9:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Microsoft and Linux Will Never Be “Best Buddies”

    I just read an article called: Life after Windows: What happens to tech if Microsoft dies?” The article made me think of what it really would be like without Microsoft. I didn’t like it. We need Microsoft over there competing with us. No matter what happens to the economy, to the PC hardware format or to the demographic of the common computer user; Microsoft and Linux will never be “best buddies.” And I know that “Linux” includes the major commercial Linux players: Novell, Red Hat and Canonical. I know that Novell and Red Hat have both crossed enemy lines with agreements but to think that the two camps will ever kiss, makeup and live happily ever after is pure fantasy. Frankly, I like it that way.

  • LB – Episode 49 – Netbooks and Drupal Notes by Linux Basement
  • Dear Netflix

    Dear Netflix,
    I have learned that the Netflix Watch Instantly service is not available on Linux operating systems. So, I have canceled my Netflix account and will return as a paying customer when Netflix can offer its Watch Instantly service on Linux computers.

  • Desktop

    • Open source nettop designed from survey requests

      The Open-PC project, which developed an open source Linux PC based on community survey requests, says its KDE-flavored nettop will ship next month. The Open-PC is equipped with a 1.6GHz dual-core Atom N330 with 3GB RAM, but the nettop’s high $500 price has stirred some controversy.

    • Why Linux Remains to Be the Choice For Many Web Users Today

      Linux has definitely gained its popularity among the world-wide web-users recently mainly because of its high stability. Linux is probably one of the most stable operating systems in the world which had been highly sought. A huge numbers of web users have turned to Linux solution to take advantage of its great benefits which are worthy and crucial for the survival and expansion of their online business.

    • Virtualizing Your Desktop: Unavoidable.

      Along the way, a Unix mime was built called Linux, then added to a soup of utilities (GNU) and UIs (KDE, Gnome, among others).

      Now there are operating environments like Google’s ChromeOS and Android…. not to mention Symbian, Palm, and a half dozen others. Virtualization breaks the rule that existed from RT-11 to just a few years ago in the microcomputer world: one operating system per machine. That idea that became a rule was a boon for hardware makers and operating systems licensors alike. Now that rule is broken by the advancement of hypervisors and desktop hypervisors.

      There are few individuals in IT today that can escape knowing at least three major operating trees, starting with Unix, Windows, and to a lesser extent, MacOS. There are dozens of variants. More than a dozen sit on the machine I’m using to write this– like ducks in a row. Just click and in a few seconds, I’m in OpenSUSE or Windows Server 2008 R2, or in Android. It’s that easy.

  • Server

    • Enter the (Big) Dragon

      It won’t come as a surprise to readers of this blog that China’s new supercomputer will be running Linux – over 80% of the world’s big machines do. What’s fascinating is that this is being built out of that home-grown Loongson chip – the one that Windows doesn’t run on. As the same article explains:

  • Kernel Space

    • Why There is no Kernel Hacker Sell-Out

      One of the talks that I saw came from Jon Corbet, who gave a run-down on recent changes to the Linux kernel. A statistic that he mentioned along the way has garnered much comment: the fact that “75% of the code comes from people paid to do it.” In particular, some have leapt on this figure as proof that kernel coders have “sold out”, and that the famed altruistic impulse behind free software is dead. I think this is nonsense.

      In my view, this 75% figure indicates two things. First, that *most* of the top kernel hackers are being paid to code. That’s really great news, because it means that people can earn money doing what they love, and aren’t obliged to starve in garrets. Secondly, it means that very large computer companies regard the kernel as so important that they are prepared to pay these people good salaries to work on it.

    • Linux Market Needs More Talent

      The Linux Foundation today announced a free Linux training Webinar series and an expanded set of courses and course locations for its existing training program. There is no coincidence that this shortly follows the Foundation’s recent jobs board announcement.

      Linux is experiencing significant growth in every category of computing. The new products and systems based on Linux you see announced every day will be deployed for a very long time. A shortage of qualified people to support this ecosystem could potentially slow Linux growth.

      In order to keep Linux growing at its current record pace, the Linux Foundation and its members have made a strategic decision to address this increase in demand for Linux professionals with programs such as the jobs board, the new training offerings and, as always, its fellowship program.

    • Linux Foundation to World: Get a Job!

      Jobs have been the collective focus of much of the US population over the past two years. Whether it’s keeping the job they have, or finding a new position in a very tight job market, US workers are looking for all the help they can get with employment. It’s much the same in the rest of the world, too.

  • Applications

    • 10 old-school Linux tools I refuse to let go of

      1: Command line

      This one is a no brainer. Even though there is a GUI front end for nearly every command-line tool available, I often feel the command line is simply the best tool. And what better way to remotely administer a system than with good old secure shell? I won’t go into the specifics of what commands I can’t let go of (there are so many of them). Suffice it to say, the command line is one of my most-used tools.

    • Screenlets: Eye Candy for Linux Users

      A Linux desktop screen need not look drab. Whereas proprietary OSes like OS X and Windows have their widgets, Linux distro users can get just as much function-rich eye candy through Screenlets. Screenlets are miniature applications that reside on the desktop and provide constant information — everything from system performance readouts to news feeds to photo galleries.

      [...]

      If your system runs the Compiz video enhancement feature, you will have extra-special eye candy. These additional options make using Screenlets even better. For instance, you can toggle Screenlets on and off. To do this, though, you need the latest widget plug-in for Compiz-Fusion installed.

    • Personal Finances on Linux with KMyMoney

      Linux has several excellent personal finance applications. Today we’re going to look at KMyMoney. Though specifically developed with the KDE desktop in mind, KMyMoney works with any Linux desktop.

      How useful KMyMoney will be to you and how easy it will be to use depends on two factors: One, whether or not your bank uses a supported online banking protocol, like OFX or HBCI, which applies when using any type of money management program. Two, if you can get a set of plugins working, which includes check printing support.

    • Enna – A New and Exciting Linux Media Center

      These days, buying a decent plasma is often a lot more expensive than building your own media center. If you’ve been living under a rock for the past few years, a media center is basically a PC that’s focused solely on media playback. Check out our PDF guide on how to set up your own media center, written by Stefan Neagu.

    • SOUNDS

      We compare some popular Linux media players, including Banshee, Rhythmbox, Amarok, and Songbird.

    • Free Project Management Software KPlato for Linux from KOffice

      KPlato is a free tool for project management and it looks similar to the project management tool of Microsoft Office. You can allocate resources, define task and then let KPlato schedule the task according to the availability of resources. You can reschedule the project at any point of time. Here are the features of KPlato.

    • Want to chat on Linux? Better have Empathy

      Empathy is an outstanding chat client that can be used for multiple and various services. Give it a try and you’ll find yourself never going back to your old client.

    • Instructionals

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

      • KDE 4.4 Kreeps Kloser to Komplete

        This release also includes a whole slew of new widgets for KDE. This includes a “Webslice” plasmoid to display a part of a Webpage, a spellcheck widget, an on-screen keyboard, and a blackboard widget that allows users to paint with the mouse or even multitouch devices “on platforms that support them.” KDE inherited multitouch support from Qt4.6, and could make KDE a contender on mobile devices and tablets.

      • KDE Developers to Release RC3 for 4.4

        Toma Albers, one of the KDE Developers sent out a note today that there will be an RC3 release for KDE 4.4, prior to the final release scheduled February 9th.

      • What We Did Last Summer (And the Rest of 2009) – A Look Back Onto the Nepomuk Development Year With an Obscenely Long Title

        Querying data in Nepomuk pre-KDE-4.4 could be done in one of two ways: 1. Use the very limited capabilities of the ResourceManager to list resources with certain properties or of a certain type; or 2. Write your own SPARQL query using ugly QString::arg replacements.

        With the introduction of Virtuoso and its awesome power we can now do pretty much everything in one query. This allowed me to finally create a query API for KDE: Nepomuk::Query::Query and friends. I won’t go into much detail here since I did that before.

    • XFCE

      • Goodbye KDE, Hello XFCE

        About a year before the release of Vista I became so disgusted with Windows that I made the decision to switch completely to Linux and have never regretted the decision. My wife and son had no problem making the transition from Windows to Linux thanks in no small part to KDE. With KDE 3.5, I was in Desktop heaven. I had power and flexibility that Windows users cannot even imagine.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • What should the GNOME Foundation accomplish in 2010?
      • Checking in on the GNOME Foundation

        In that first run-up we basically had a couple of the usual chuckleheads waging war against a flimsly constructed straw man in hopes of discrediting RMS/FSF/Free Software with a secondary effect of promoting “Open Source” as the preferred term (and a tertiary effect of embarassing themselves). The usual tactics from the usual suspects.

        Today, I saw that Bradley M. Kuhn is now a member of the GNOME Foundation. GNOME is in desperate need of people who understand and respect the Free Software ethos, so this is welcome news indeed.

      • Gnome 3 Usability Hackfest

        As the GNOME 3.0 approaches, the GNOME Community is going to hold a Usability Hackfest in London from feb 22-26. Those who are not aware about the usability project, it aims to make GNOME appearance more efficient and pleasant to the users. In this hackfest, they are planning to work and improve the design and usability of some new GNOME 3.0 components.

  • Distributions

    • Linux Distro hunting

      Basically the bases I need covered are,

      * Low profile, able to run in small amount of RAM
      * Fast booting
      * Python
      * Firefox 3.x, Opera 10.x or Chromium browser
      * Mplayer or similar for video playback

    • Too Many Linux Distributions?

      NOT. No thanks. I want to live in a world where I have a choice. Where Jake can come along and tell me about a Linux distribution that I have never heard of before, but which is so right for his needs that he gets all excited in writing about it. A world where one of the major Linux distributions can stumble, and either make a major mistake, or just take a couple of years to get out the next version, and all the others just keep moving ahead, so I can use whichever one works best for me at the time.

    • Review: Arch Linux

      I’ve been wanting to try Arch Linux for quite some time now. They seem to have a similar aesthetic to Gentoo in that the main mission of Arch is to build your operating system from the ground up. You only add the things you need. So you don’t have any cruft on your system based on what some other people think you should have. So let’s pop this CD in and see what happens! (I’m also following the directions on http://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Official_Arch_Linux_Install_Guide) The disc is the 2009.08 snapshot. I booted into the LiveCD.

    • New Releases

      • 2010-01-18: CRUX PPC 2.6 released!

        CRUX PPC 2.6 is now available. It works on Apple 32bit “NewWorld” G3/G4 and Apple 64bit G5, Genesi PegasosII and Efika, Acube Sam440ep, IBM RS/6000 CHRP (604e), YDL Powerstation, IBM Intellistation POWER, and IBM pSeries RS64/POWERn.
        CRUX PPC 2.6 is, as usual, released via two different installation ISO: 32bit and 64bit. The 32bit version is based on a single lib toolchain instead the 64bit one comes with a multilib toolchain. These two versions share the same ports tree.
        See the download page!

    • Red Hat Family

      • Memo to Oracle: Don’t Mess Up Java

        Still, the bigger area of competitive interest may involve Sun’s Java. Just last week, Ingres CEO Roger Burkhardt said potential issues around Java — rather than MySQL — are more strategic to the industry.

        And today, Red Hat Middleware VP Craig Muzilla said Red Hat has…

        “…high hopes that Oracle will not only serve as a faithful steward of this important technology, but will also be a positive force in driving the future of Java in collaboration with the members of the JCP [the Java Community Process].”

      • Red Hat to Oracle – Open up the Java Community Process

        Red Hat has asked Oracle to help keep Java as one of the “most important technologies developed during the past twenty years” by creating an open and independent Java Community Process. The call from Craig Muzilla, Red Hat vice president for middleware, comes in a posting on the company’s web site. It points out that Red Hat have become much more involved in Java, with its acquisition and growth of it’s JBoss middleware and has been leading specifications such as JSR299 (Contexts and Dependency Injection) and JSR303 (Bean Validation) through the Java Community Process.

      • Red Hat thinks things are great in open source land

        THE PRESIDENT AND CEO of Red Hat, Jim Whitehurst used the occasion of the US President’s State of the Union address to tell Red Hat’s customers and partners how well everything is going for the company.

      • State of the Union at Red Hat

        I’m kicking off my third year at Red Hat this month and would like to take a step back as we move into 2010 to reflect on the past year. In keeping with the U.S. presidential tradition of delivering a “State of the Union” address each January, I’d like to maintain a similar tradition at Red Hat and highlight some of our milestones from 2009.

      • The vampires vs. Rimini Street

        This is all somewhat rich, coming from a company which not too many years ago claimed it could offer “unbreakable Linux” support that is better than what Red Hat Software can provide. It’s also an interesting follow-up lawsuit to the one launched against SAP subsidiary and support services firm TomorrowNow, which Rimini CEO Seth Ravin also co-founded. That case also claimed illegal downloads of support-related information.

    • Debian Family

      • Grow Your Own Cloud Servers With Ubuntu

        Have you been wanting to fly to the cloud, to experiment with cloud computing? Now is your chance. With this article, we will step through the process of setting up a private cloud system using Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC), which is powered by the Eucalyptus platform.

      • Does Ubuntu Need Server Hardware Partners?

        But where are the corporate UEC deployments? It’s still early in the UEC game. I’m hearing from more and more colleges and universities that are testing UEC. In particular, I’m trying to catch up with a few key sources at Auburn University.

      • Test Ubuntu for fun and profit

        Live in London? Looking for something to do this Friday? Canonical are looking for volunteers to perform usability testing of the Ubuntu Empathy instant messaging client. A paid incentive awaits!

      • Linux Mint 8 Helena – Superb execution

        Linux Mint 8 Helena is a wonderful creation. It works. It simply works. There can be no higher praise than that. You don’t need to tweak it. It’s a product. As simple as that. Someone is given a machine with Linux Mint Helena and they start using it, without going for the surgery knife. Just as you don’t hack your TV, you don’t need to hack Helena, because it delivers a complete, beautiful usage package.

        Linux Mint 8 Helena is a great distribution. This is the Linux you want to showcase to your skeptical Windows friends and soon would-be converts. This is the distribution that has the look and feel and behavior of something Windows users can easily relate to.

        It has the menu where Windows users want it, it has codecs and gadgets, it’s fast, stable, robust, beautiful. And best of all, if you’re a Linux user already, you can enjoy Helena as much as your fellow Windows friends!

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Gentoo on the Misa Digital Guitar

      Gentoo has turned up in lots of interesting places before, but Michael from Misa Digital has put Gentoo to work in something entirely different: a unique instrument he invented, a MIDI guitar that uses a touchpad and digital keys instead of strings!

    • Phones

      • Nokia N900 – Pros and Cons

        In one of my earlier posts I had mentioned some of the things I was enjoying doing with my Nokia N900. Now that I have had the device to play with for a solid month I would like to highlight what I feel are the pros and cons of the device.

      • Android

        • First beta of Firefox for Android coming in February 2010 ?

          The German Mozilla Community Website camp-firefox.de reported that a first beta version of Firefox for Android (Fennec) would be coming out in February 2010. Apparently most of the work has been done and the application was started sucessfully on an Android phone, even though surfing was not possible yet.

        • Best Smartphone for IT: Blackberry vs. iPhone vs. Android

          However, Symbian hasn’t made inroads into the U.S., and the iPhone and Android platforms are already eroding its market share abroad.

        • Rogers Canada forces Android update that takes away root access

          Rogers, Canada’s only carrier with Android handsets, has cut off data to customers until they run a mandatory firmware update. Nominally, this fixes a 911 bug: but it also prevents you from jailbreaking your phone and activating features and applications Rogers doesn’t like (even if you paid full price for your phone).

        • PLEN Robot Controlled by Android [VIDEO]

          Those of you with piles of cash might be interested in picking up a PLEN hobby robot for your desk. The roughly 9″ tall “droid” can be controlled via Bluetooth, either by your cell phone or PC keyboard. You know where I’m going with this… Check out the video below of a PLEN robot (android) controlled by an app on Android.

        • Archos 7-Inch Tablet Leaked, Features Webcam

          We didn’t anticipate running a tablet story on the site today being everyone we know will be watching the Apple event later today. Nonetheless, we have a new Android-based tablet to start following. Following on the heels of their 5-inch tablet, Archos has a 7-inch model with a front-facing webcam on the way.

          Rumored to go on sale in March for £149.99 ($242 US), it will offer the same 8GB onboard memory found in the previous model. The 7-inch LCD screen has a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, putting it (obviously) 2 inches larger than their first device. The software appears to be getting a slight tweak as well, with support for song yrics

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Thin clients and the cloud: how ARM beat x86 to the punch

        On the first day of CES, I dropped by the Qualcomm booth looking for ARM-based smartbooks to try out. As I poked and prodded the Lenovo Skylight, I pulled out my Nexus One and dropped it on top of the unit for a size reference so that we could snap picture of it.

      • Netbook OS

        Slackware is one of the longest-running versions of Linux. And Slax is a version of Slackware that is meant to be run as a live CD but can also be used comfortably on a netbook. The base download of Slax is just 200MB in size. Slax’ most unique feature, however, is that the system can be customised before downloading. On the Slax site you can pick and choose features you want to include in your system and then download an image with this included.

Free Software/Open Source

  • 65 Open Source Downloads That Could Change Your Life

    In fact, we found open source apps for most of the most popular resolutions: apps to help you eat better and exercise more, apps to help you stop smoking or break other bad habits, lots of apps to help you get organized and make better use of your time.

  • Bacula Surpasses One Million Downloads

    Bacula Systems SA today celebrated a year of impressive growth as its Open Source enterprise backup solution passed the one million download milestone, driven by a maturing portfolio of Bacula backup products and growing enterprise adoption of open source software. This event marks a highly successful year in which Bacula Systems has made significant gains in its customer base and built excellent partner momentum globally.

  • Farewell To Solaris Express Community Edition

    Back in August we shared that Sun would be discontinuing SXCE, or formally known as Solaris Express Community Edition. Solaris Express Community Edition for the past five years has served as Sun’s delivery mechanism for the latest and greatest Solaris code that will eventually make it into the next Solaris stable release, but earlier this month Sun Microsystems put out their last bi-weekly build of SXCE and as of the end of this week all downloads will cease.

  • Mr. Obama, Please Tear Down This Wall!

    Only three days after posting my blog regarding the plight of Google’s Chinese customers and how their data is now at the whims of a US-based company and its conflict with the Chinese government, I read about the issues of SourceForge.net and the U.S. State Department’s Export lists and how the data stored in a US-based company, sometimes created by non-U.S. based citizens, is now being controlled by U.S. State Department rules.

    [...]

    Is the argument being made that the populace of those countries will throw off their governments because it is hard for them to get access to Free Software? I suggest that it will simply be a matter of time before some entity will re-create a “SourceForge” in a more Free-Minded country, and yet another agency of Free Thought will be carried and championed outside of the United States.

  • Free PR2 Robots Offered to Open Source Robotics Researchers

    10 lucky research organizations will stand to benefit from Willow Garage’s PR2 Beta Program, under which they will each be granted free use of one PR2 robot and earn the privilege to participate in the advancement of open source robotics development.

  • Keep your journal in a RedNotebook

    Writing in a journal or diary, where you may pour your heart out for no one’s eyes but your own, can be an intensely personal experience. Writing longhand in a paper notebook used to be standard practice for journal writing, but most people nowadays type faster than they write, and digital text is easier to search. But finding a journal application that suits your sense of style is just as personal a decision as finding the right notebook in which to write. When Jendrik Seipp couldn’t find what he was looking for in a journal app, he began coding his own, and that became RedNotebook.

  • Mozilla

  • Databases

    • The Fight to Save MySQL: Interview with Monty Widenius

      Similarly, Widenius denies being motivated by an attempt to receive more money for his former interest in MySQL or to make Monty Program AB profitable by placing himself in the spotlight. He has invested much of the 16.6 million Euros he received from Sun’s purchase of MySQL in Monty Program AB, and frankly admits that the company has next to no chance of making a profit. Nor is he interested in selling Monty Program unless he can find a buyer with open source’s interests at heart.

      Instead, he claims to be opposing Oracle’s acquisition out of a sense of personal responsibility: to his employees, to his customers, and to the larger open source community.

  • CMS

    • NVidia using Drupal

      NVidia recently launched their new Tegra developer community on Drupal.

    • Drupal Goes Hosted With Private Beta Launch of “Gardens” (Invites)

      Open source content management system Drupal is increasingly being used by organizations, corporations and governments to power their websites and communities.

      To name but a few entities who rely on Drupal for their websites: The White House, AT&T, Intel, BBC Magazines, Forbes, Stanford University, Reuters and Procter & Gamble (and plenty more where that came from).

    • Drupal Gardens launches in private beta

      I have a pretty big update for you: we just launched Drupal Gardens into private beta. Since the first public Drupal Gardens demo at DrupalCon Paris, a lot of progress has been made. Today, we sent private beta invites to the first people that signed up to be beta testers, and if things go well, we’ll send out a couple thousand more invitations over the next few weeks.

  • Releases

    • The Apache Software Foundation Announces Apache SpamAssassin Version 3.3.0

      The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) today announced the release of Apache SpamAssassin 3.3.0, the first major code release from the Apache SpamAssassin Project since May 2007. Apache SpamAssassin v3.3.0 marks the Project’s 4th major (and 24th overall release) since the SpamAssassin Project joined the ASF in December 2003.

  • Hardware

    • In the Next Industrial Revolution, Atoms Are the New Bits

      The door of a dry-cleaner-size storefront in an industrial park in Wareham, Massachusetts, an hour south of Boston, might not look like a portal to the future of American manufacturing, but it is. This is the headquarters of Local Motors, the first open source car company to reach production. Step inside and the office reveals itself as a mind-blowing example of the power of micro-factories.

    • The Replicator, No Longer a Star Trek Dream

      Open-sourcing is also helping further the development of the RepRap project. Bowyer explained that he wanted a powerful technology like the RepRap to be available to everyone, so he made it free. A list of materials needed for a RepRap and the instructions on how to put it together are all available on the RepRap website.

  • Openness

    • Maybe Information Really Doesn’t Want to Be Free

      The long-anticipated Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL) tablet, expected to debut tomorrow, carries a similar promise. In media circles, the Apple tablet has been heralded by many as a ray of hope for an ailing newspaper industry, marrying the slick software and design for which Apple is famous with its iTunes payment platform.

    • Why I am disappointed with Nature Communications

      At the centre of my problem is the use of a Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial licence for the “Open Access” option. This doesn’t qualify under the BBB declarations on Open Access publication and it doesn’t qualify for the SPARC seal for Open Access. But does this really matter or is it just a side issue for a bunch of hard core zealots? After all if people can see it that’s a good start isn’t it? Well yes, it is a good start but non-commercial terms raise serious problems. Putting aside the fact that there is an argument that universities are commercial entities and therefore can’t legitimately use content with non-commercial licences the problem is that NC terms limit the ability of people to create new business models that re-use content and are capable of scaling.

    • How should councils cope with Freedom of Information requests

      An interesting piece on ConservativeHome’s Local Government Blog on ‘How should council’s cope with Freedom of Information requests?’

    • Science czar calls for openness on climate questions

      The government’s chief scientific adviser John Beddington has called for openness and honesty in the debate over man-made climate change.

    • Valkaama Released

      Finally done… We are proud to release the final version of Valkaama with Michael Georgi’s music score. You can download your copy here.

      It was a long and stony road to get this movie done and still we are giving it away for free: Valkaama becomes one of the few full-length movies which are licensed under one of the Creative Commons licenses.

  • Programming

    • Developers: Is Programming a Lucrative Profession?

      “A pamphlet distributed by blogger Cameron Laird’s local high school proclaimed that ‘Computer Science BS graduates can expect an annual salary from $54,000-$74,000. Starting salaries for MS and PhD graduates can be to up to $100,000′ and ‘employment of computer scientists is expected to grow by 24 percent from 2010 to 2018.’ The pamphlet lists The US Federal Bureau of Labor Statistics as a reference, so how wrong can it be? ‘This is so wrong, I don’t know where to start,’ says Laird…”

  • Applications

    • Midgard2 9.09.2 “Mjolnir” released

      The Midgard Project has released maintenance release of Midgard2 9.09 “Mjolnir” – second release of the new generation of the Midgard content repository.

Leftovers

  • Mobile Operators, Price Gouging, Innovation, and Txteagle — A Critique by Steve Song

    Steve Song has done it again. A fellow at the Shuttleworth Foundation, he critiques Nathan Eagle’s new txteagle venture to tap into the ‘cognitive resources’ of millions of mobile-phone users in developing countries. Nathan recently gave a talk at eTech, presenting texteagle. Here is the video of Nathan’s presentation.

  • Corporate developers abandon “underwater” property — why not individuals?

    Tishman Speyer Properties and its co-investors just walked away from the largest real-estate deal in US history, simply defaulting on the properties and the loans that bought them and leaving their creditors in the lurch. The properties, Manhattan’s 56-building, 11,232-unit Peter Cooper Village and Stuyvesant Town, were “under water” (worth less than the debt hanging over them), so the corporate developers elected to simply jettison them.

  • Science

    • Horizontal and vertical: The evolution of evolution

      JUST suppose that Darwin’s ideas were only a part of the story of evolution. Suppose that a process he never wrote about, and never even imagined, has been controlling the evolution of life throughout most of the Earth’s history. It may sound preposterous, but this is exactly what microbiologist Carl Woese and physicist Nigel Goldenfeld, both at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, believe. Darwin’s explanation of evolution, they argue, even in its sophisticated modern form, applies only to a recent phase of life on Earth.

  • Security

    • No food without fingerprints – in one London school

      Giving a new meaning to the concept of a “finger buffet”, St. John’s Secondary School, in Epping, is introducing a new “biometric cashless catering system” which involves taking fingerprints of all its pupils.

    • Lioness gives Chilcot inquiry teeth

      The Iraq inquiry burst into life yesterday, thanks to a quiet, thoughtful yet furious woman who ripped into the government like a genteel but very hungry lioness. Elizabeth Wilmshurst was the first witness to get a round of applause from the public.

    • UK Terror Threat Level raised again to “Severe” – just in time for “Climate of Fear” propaganda before the General Election

      Why is there no mention of the increased threat from “domestic” terrorism, in Northern Ireland, and from crazed racist or animal rights fanatics etc. ?

      Will there now be the usual Whitehall and Police “anonymous briefings”, as there were in the run up to the last General Election ?

    • 70-year gag on Kelly death evidence

      A highly unusual ruling by Lord Hutton, who chaired the inquiry into Dr Kelly’s death, means medical records including the post-mortem report will remain classified until after all those with a direct interest in the case are dead, the Mail on Sunday reported.

    • Hutton inquiry closed David Kelly medical reports for 70 years
    • We don’t live in a police state, but we are going to be watched by aerial drones

      Critics of Labour’s record on civil rights are sometimes accused of hysteria when they talk of Britain becoming a ‘police state’. This time last year, the day before the Convention on Modern Liberty, Jack Straw felt it necessary to write an op-ed for the Guardian entitled “Our record isn’t perfect. But talk of a police state is daft”.

    • Britain ‘complicit in mistreatment and possible torture’ says UN

      United Nations human rights investigators have concluded that the British government has been complicit in the mistreatment and possible torture of several of its own citizens during the “war on terror”.

    • Revealed: Retired CIA agent ‘made up’ waterboarding details

      The CIA has since destroyed all videotapes of Abu Zubaydah’s interrogations. He was allegedly subjected to waterboarding at least 83 times.

    • Compulsory perv scanners upset everyone

      The debate over use of scanners in UK airports is rapidly turning into knock-about farce, as the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) takes a firm stand on some people’s right to privacy – whilst government disrespects everyone’s rights and prepares to hand over loads more dosh when it eventually loses the argument at the European Court.

    • Hackers hit Chinese human rights websites

      Five websites run by Chinese human rights activists were attacked by hackers over the weekend, as a separate row continued between Google and China over political cyberattacks.

    • RFID Tag breaks one dollar price barrier

      RFID tags for under $1!! This has been made possible by International Coding Technologies which has released rugged identification tags for steel, concrete, pallets and other assets breaking all price barriers. Here RFID, bar code and tag in human readable format have been clubbed together onto a single RFID inlay. It has been sealed in a tough, watertight and dust proof plastic unit which can be affixed to products and perform in cruel environment.

    • Defects in e-passports allow real-time tracking

      Computer scientists in Britain have uncovered weaknesses in electronic passports issued by the US, UK, and some 50 other countries that allow attackers to trace the movements of individuals as they enter or exit buildings.

    • MoD staff leak military secrets on Facebook and Twitter

      The Ministry of Defence has admitted that staff leaked secret information 16 times on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter over an 18-month period.

  • Finance

    • Oregon Passes Tax Boost on Wealthy, Corporations

      Oregon voters approved two special tax measures Tuesday designed to close a $733 million state budget gap. With 91% of the vote counted, Measure 66 garnered 54% of ballots and Measure 67 received 53%, the Associated Press reported.

      Elections here are by mailed ballot only. Tuesday was the last day ballots could be cast.

      Measure 66 increases Oregon’s personal-income-tax rate by two percentage points for households earning over $250,000 a year. Measure 67 calls for an increase in the state’s minimum corporate income tax, currently $10 a year, and imposes a tax on gross revenues for corporations that don’t report a profit.

    • Growth is good … isn’t it?

      The banking crisis taught us that when things look good on paper, if the underlying accounting system is faulty, it can conceal high risk and imminent disaster – as Jared Diamond put it in Collapse, his book about societies throughout history that fell by wrongly estimating the resilience of their environmental life-support systems. What looks like wealth might just be a one-off fire sale of irreplaceable natural capital. Ecologically speaking, he writes, “an impressive-looking bank account may conceal a negative cashflow”.

    • Time is Running Out for Big Ben

      Opposition has been mounting to the reconfirmation of Ben Bernanke as Federal Reserve Chairman. In recent days, Senators Barbara Boxer (D-CA) and Russ Feingold (D-WI) and John McCain (R-AZ) announced that they would vote no. Today, Senator Tom Harkin told the DesMoines Register he would be a no vote. If Bernanke does not get a vote this week, before the formal end of his first term, it would send shock waves through Wall Street.

      [...]

      “Under the watch of Ben Bernanke, the Federal Reserve permitted grossly irresponsible financial activities that led to the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Under Chairman Bernanke’s watch predatory mortgage lending flourished, and ‘too big to fail’ financial giants were permitted to engage in activities that put our nation’s economy at risk. And as it responds to the crisis it helped to usher in, the Federal Reserve under Chairman Bernanke’s leadership continues to resist appropriate efforts to review that response, how taxpayers’ money was being used, and whether it acted appropriately,” said Feingold in a statement.

    • Millions to Lose Unemployment Insurance

      While President Obama is in Washington talking about putting a freeze on government spending, soon millions of American families will be out in the cold. In one month, one million Americans are slated to lose their unemployment insurance. Millions more will follow. According to Judy Conti, Federal Advocacy Coordinator at the National Employment Law Project, the expiration of this vital lifeline “would be a catastrophe for these families and their communities.”

      Why is unemployment insurance ending, and what can you do about it?

  • PR/AstroTurf

    • Outlook Rosy for Nuclear Industry, Despite Unsolved Problems of Waste and Safety

      The Obama administration is considering granting as much as $18.5 billion in loan guarantees to the nuclear industry to build new reactors, and Congress is considering adding billions more to expand nuclear power in the U.S., even though the problems of safety and what to do with nuclear waste remain unsolved.

      [...]

      A Decade of Astroturfing Pays Off

      The nuclear lobby’s activities are a case study on how industries influence Washington: In addition to the usual spending of vast sums on lobbying and campaign contributions, they have created a network of allies who give speeches, quote one another approvingly and showcase each other on Web sites, effectively creating a media echo chamber that creates the impression of widespread support for nuclear power. Compared to the big oil and big coal lobbies, though, the nuclear lobby has stayed in the background and used increasingly common astroturfing techniques, like making their case through surrogates, and paying a public relations firm to create a pro-nuclear “grassroots” group — the Clean and Safe Energy Coalition — which employs high-profile spokespersons like Patrick Moore and Christine Todd Whitman. The industry has also been busy lobbying all possible constituencies, as well as both sides of the political spectrum. The Nuclear Energy Institute has given presentations to the Congressional Black Caucus, and has taken a pro-union stance for the construction of new nuclear reactors, helping win it support from labor unions. In turn, unions have lobbied and obtained the support for nukes from House Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Henry Waxman, who is now championing efforts to fund the industry. The nuke industry has managed to do all this while also keeping its traditional base among Senate Republicans. The industry magnified its appeal to politicians by selling the construction of nuclear power plants as a sort of jobs-creation program, at a time when jobs are sorely needed in the U.S. Combine this with steadily increasing energy prices and concern for global warming, and all the stars are lining up for the nuclear energy industry right now.

    • Breaking News–New Media “Visionary” Arrested in Plot to Bug U.S. Senator

      History repeats itself today as the FBI arrests four people attempting to bug the district office of Senator Mary Landrieu (D-LA). David Hammer of The Times-Picayune is reporting that the the right-wing “gotcha” man, James O’Keefe, who orchestrated the effort to discredit ACORN via spliced video footage last year, is one of those who were arrested in the plot against a sitting U.S. Senator who is up for election later this year.

    • GOP sends letter appearing to be census form

      The Republican Party is seeking input and money from GOP voters – seemingly under the guise of the U.S. Census Bureau.

      “Strengthening our Party for the 2010 elections is going to take a massive grass-roots effort all across America. That is why I have authorized a Census to be conducted of every Congressional District in the country,” GOP Chairman Michael Steele says in a letter mailed nationwide.

  • Censorship/Civil Rights

    • SourceForge no longer serving open source to US sanctioned countries

      The company says it deeply regrets “that these sanctions may impact individuals who have no malicious intent, along with those whom the rules are designed to exclude” but says that until either the countries are removed from the sanctions list, or the US administration changes policy, the blocking must remain in place.

    • John Gaunt’s case is an important test for freedom of speech

      I regret the chilling effect that will be felt in publishing and broadcasting even if Gaunt wins his case – and the prospect of him losing is an appalling prospect for those who cherish free speech in this country. So we here at Big Brother Watch are rooting for John today.

  • Internet/Web Abuse/DRM

    • Buying You: The Government’s Use of Fourth-Parties to Launder Data about ‘The People’

      Your information is for sale, and the government is buying it at alarming rates. The CIA, FBI, Justice Department, Defense Department, and other government agencies are at this very moment turning to a group of companies to provide them information that these companies can gather without the restrictions that bind government intelligence agencies. The information is gathered from sources that few would believe the government could gain unfettered access to, but which, under current Fourth Amendment doctrine and statutory protections, are completely accessible.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • IFPI Loses “Deep-Linking” Case Against Baidu

      In 2008, Baidu was sued for around $9 million by Sony BMG, Universal Music and Warner Music for providing so-called “deep-links” to copyright music tracks. A court has now ruled that providing search results does not breach copyright law, clearing China’s biggest search engine of wrong-doing.

    • Piracy letter campaign ‘nets innocents’

      More than 150 people have approached consumer publication Which? Computing claiming to have been wrongly targeted in crackdowns on illegal file-sharing.

    • Copyright, companies, individuals and news: the rules of the road

      This is just a partial list, and it may strike you as radical. But before you dismiss it, consider this: most copyright systems are supposed to work this way in theory. But between corporate bullies who like to assert that “all rights reserved” means that no one is allowed to do anything without permission, and personal theories of what copyright means based on half-remembered lectures from the company lawyer, we treat copyright as absolute. And when we do, we turn a system with a real purpose (providing a framework for participants in creative businesses) into a caricature of itself, one that no one can respect.

    • United Against the Digital Economy Bill

      As readers of this blog will be well aware, the UK’s Digital Economy Bill is currently grinding its way through Parliament.

      At the moment, it’s the Lords that are trying to knock some sense into its senseless provisions; later it will go to the Commons, where there’s probably less chance of things being improved, given the current distribution of the parties there.

      Meanwhile, various groups are coming together in an attempt to rouse the British public from its slumbers on this hugely-important issue.

    • Digital Economy Bill: will users have to divulge logs?

      Is the House of Lords serious? Could users be asked to divulge their computer logs in order to prove themselves innocent of copyright infringement?

    • Mandelson in new move to protect music industry secrets

      UK Digital Economy Bill: The infamous Henry VIII clause which will permit the Secretary of State to re-write UK copyright law without oversight from Parliament, will also permit the copyright industries to keep their trade secrets, under a proposed new amendment from Lord Mandelson.

    • ACTA Attacks Internet! Let’s Attack ACTA!

      Negotiations on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA)1 will take place from January 26th to January 29th in Mexico. ACTA aims at controlling the Internet, while conveniently circumventing democratic processes. Unelected negotiators – carrying out the orders of the entertainment industries – are attacking the very essence of the Internet. Let’s attack ACTA! Let’s expose its negotiators to make them face their responsibilities!

    • ACTA and three strikes

      Luc Devigne for instance advocates for the French “three strikes” rule concerning ISPs. Such measures are not yet part of the acquis communautaire, in fact in the course of the Telecom package such measures were generally rejected, though the European Parliament could not overrule the French national decision to implement such measures (“Hadopi”). Sarkozy’s Hadopi rules are in troublesome constitutional waters, we will see.

    • Early Day Motion Calling for ACTA Transparency

      Yesterday I was asking you to write to your MPs about the Digital Economy Bill. If you haven’t already done that, perhaps you could tack on a request for them to support this Early Day Motion…

    • ACTA Guide, Part Three: Transparency and ACTA Secrecy

      Part Three of the ACTA Guide (Part One on the agreement itself, Part Two on the official and leaked documents) focuses on the issue that has dogged the proposed agreement since it was first announced – the lack of transparency associated with the text and the talks. As yesterday’s public letter from NDP MP Charlie Angus and the UK cross-party motion highlight, elected officials around the world have latched onto the transparency issue and demanded that their governments open ACTA to public scrutiny. Reviewing the ACTA transparency issue involves several elements: the public concern with ACTA secrecy, the source of the secrecy, and the analysis of whether ACTA secrecy is common when compared to other intellectual property agreements.

    • PROPOSED INTERNATIONAL ANTI-COUNTERFEITING TRADE AGREEMENT

      That this House is deeply concerned by the secrecy surrounding international negotiations on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA); notes that any agreement reached could affect the measures to protect copyright online currently being debated in the Digital Economy Bill; believes that if the companies affected by the agreement are party to the discussions and able to influence decisions, parliamentarians who represent the public and are responsible for legislation in these areas should also be kept up-to-date with developments and be able to contribute to the debate; seeks assurances from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills that the provisions of the Digital Economy Bill will not be superseded by ACTA; and urges the Government to work to achieve release of details of the negotiations to hon. Members as soon as possible.

    • Economics and social research strategy 2009-10 published

      By ensuring that our policies are clear, transparent, targeted and evidence-based we can create the right conditions for business success; promote innovation, enterprise and science; and give everyone the skills and opportunities they need to succeed.

    • South Butt David versus North Face Goliath

      The North Face filed the lawsuit, claiming that The South Butt is confusingly similar to The North Face, in violation of North Face’s trademark rights.

    • Vancouver Olympics ‘Brand Protection Guidelines’ Almost Entirely Arbitrary
    • EU to assess piracy detection software

      Virgin Media countered that the software posed no risk to privacy.

      Privacy International has concerns about the software, designed by monitoring firm Detica.

    • Does Virgin Media police itself first?

      Hanff quotes the interview verbatim, and we reproduce it here: “Ex-Employee: ‘Telewest Broadband had an Intranet system called oneline – accessible at http://oneline.telewest.co.uk – the default homepage. Under this site employees could visit Broadtalk – Broadtalk Forum, where they could engage in discussion about the company across departments, across sites. Under this forum various topics of discussion revolved around downloading of copyrighted material – for example, employees would talk about downloading movies, music etc, along with how to transfer files to DVD media. Employees were posting links to BitTorrent sites with infringing material’.”

    • The Legacy of Baker Street

      The law gives an author and the author’s descendants more than adequate control over creative work — a minimum of the author’s life plus 70 years. The public is better served if copyrights have a reasonable limit. Sherlock Holmes should belong to us all right now.

    • Brian Eno Explains How The Recording Industry Is Like Whale Blubber

      Then I go back to my computer, and see an anonymous submission of a wonderfully brilliant interview with music legend Brian Eno… and right there at the end, he has a beautiful description of what’s happening to the recording industry — comparing it to whale blubber:

      “I think records were just a little bubble through time and those who made a living from them for a while were lucky. There is no reason why anyone should have made so much money from selling records except that everything was right for this period of time. I always knew it would run out sooner or later. It couldn’t last, and now it’s running out. I don’t particularly care that it is and like the way things are going. The record age was just a blip. It was a bit like if you had a source of whale blubber in the 1840s and it could be used as fuel. Before gas came along, if you traded in whale blubber, you were the richest man on Earth. Then gas came along and you’d be stuck with your whale blubber. Sorry mate — history’s moving along. Recorded music equals whale blubber. Eventually, something else will replace it.”

    • BitTorrent Spammers Chosen to Spy On French Pirates

      The French anti-piracy outfit Trident Media Guard has been chosen by the entertainment industry to track and report illegal downloaders in France. The company, known globally for its pollution of BitTorrent and other file-sharing networks with fake data, will assist in the recently passed Hadopi three-strikes law.

    • Spanish hairdressers say No! to SGAE

      Hundreds of hairdressers and beauty centres in Barcelona, Sabadell and Lleida, Spain, are displaying a poster featuring a girl with a vinyl record and the words ‘Catalan hairdressers are ordered to pay royalties for playing the radio in their shops”.

Clip of the Day

How to Monopolize Food – Monsanto Style part 2 of 2

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