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02.05.10

Links 5/2/2010: Linux Foundation Contest for 2010

Posted in News Roundup at 6:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Sigh! A simple USB stick causes so many problems.

    This is going to be a rant against windows. If you don’t like hearing negative things about windows then don’t read this. Seriously, don’t read this. On the other hand, if you like hearing about windows problems then please continue :)

    So many times there are people who waffle on about how windows just works. How everything is all plug and play and automatic. Us Linux people like to call it plug and pray :) In this particular case it was trying to get windows to recognize a simple little Kingston USB memory stick.

    [...]

    Compared to windows, maintaining Linux is an absolute breeze. Want to delete a lot of drivers? Just select them all and delete them, simple. Want to reinstall drivers? Just reinstall the package, simple.

    People wonder why I don’t like windows. This is a prime example right there. A simple little memory stick problem caused hours of wasted time and effort. The necessary drivers were already installed. The configuration file was in the rightful place. It was just that the operating system itself couldn’t see what was right under it’s nose. Ok, lets be fair and say that the drivers were not on the system. An example of that happened that evening with a laptop and a web camera. A simple little web camera with no driver disk. Not a real problem I thought. Just go to the manufacturers web site and download the drivers. No drivers on the chipset (pixart) manufacturers site. Googling came up with the drivers, oops you have to either register or pay for the drivers. WTD!! (short for “What The Duck!!” :) Just another way of scamming people out of their money. Suffice it to say that this particular web camera didn’t work on that laptop. Under Linux it worked just fine, with no black magic needed to be performed.

  • Audiocasts

    • Podcast Season 2 Episode 1

      In this episode: Three quarters of the Linux kernel code is written by developers being paid to do so and Facebook transforms PHP performance. We promise to give up the command line for two weeks and ask whether Ubuntu is wrong to switch the default search engine in Firefox from Google to Yahoo. Plus, we introduce two new sections.

    • TLLTS Episode 339
  • Texas

    • Registration now open for Texas Linux Fest 2010

      Registration is open to the public for Texas Linux Fest 2010, to be held at the Monarch Event Center in Austin Texas. The conference sessions and expo hall will be open all day Saturday, April 10th. Evening social events will take place on Friday night (April 9th) and Saturday night (April 10th).

    • The Linux Community – Bringin’ it…

      In order to do that, we not only had to count on caring volunteers, we counted on a world-wide community to put together the distro that works best for us. That would be Linux Mint. We had to count on donations provided by The Linux Community to fuel the vehicles needed to transport the equipment…something we still count upon. We had to rely upon scripts written by people around the world to do the network installations.

  • Desktop

    • BIOS flashing for Linux users now in the wild

      Since the release of its previous version in May 2009, at least 30 additional flash chip families and half a dozen variants for each family are now being supported by Flashrom.

      [...]

      Aside from Linux (which flashrom already has binary packages for Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, Gentoo, Mandriva, and openSUSE) flashrom already supports FreeBSD, DragonFly, Nexenta, Solaris, and even Mac OS X.

    • Linux upgrades the easy way

      Ubuntu makes it even easier. There, all I had to do was to tell the operating system’s built-in Update Manger that, “Yes, I would like it to move me up to Ubuntu 9.10,” and I could get on with unpacking KVM (keyboard, video, mouse) units. In both cases, within an hour that didn’t require anything else from me, I had upgraded two operating systems.

      I don’t know about you, but when I half-a-dozen other things going on and my brain is working at half-speed, these are my kinds of upgrades.

  • Kernel Space

    • LinuxCon 2010

      • LinuxCon 2010 Call for Papers

        The Linux Foundation has announced that the Call for Papers deadline for LinuxCon 2010 will be the 31st of March. Registration for the non-profit organisation’s second annual conference, which will take place from the 10th to the 12th of August, 2010 in Boston Massachusetts, is now open. Jim Zemlin, executive director of The Linux Foundation said that, “LinuxCon has quickly become the destination for collaborating in person on all matters Linux”.

      • What to Expect at LinuxCon 2010 this August in Boston!

        The call for participation and registration opened for LinuxCon today signaling the beginning of planning for the 2nd Annual LinuxCon.

        To recap on some of the highlights of LinuxCon 2009, which took place in Portland last September, we brought you:

        * A fantastic line-up of speakers including Linus Torvalds, Mark Shuttleworth, Bob Sutor, and many more industry luminaries

    • Video Contest

    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA Publishes 195.xx Linux Driver Beta

        NVIDIA has been at work on the 195.xx driver series for some months already and has delivered beta releases to the public that offer VDPAU improvements and new features along with faster X Render performance. This evening they have published a new beta driver for the public, this time it’s 195.36.03.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Gnome-Shell, I changed my mind

        What is nice about the gnome-shell concept, is the use of virtual desktops, I know they have always been there, but it makes it a natural intuitive task. Switching applications from one desktop to the other is a pleasure, that makes it easy to configure your desktops the way you want it quickly…

      • A fresher Linux desktop

        Gnome 3.0 promises to give Linux the desktop polish it needs.

        It’s been a long time in the coming but this year Linux will get a makeover, thanks to the Gnome project. In September the Gnome team, makers of one of the most popular desktop interfaces for Linux, will release version 3.0 of their desktop environment and they are promising “big user-visible changes”.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • [release] ArchBang 1.04

        ArchBang 1.04 is out in the wild both 32bit & 64bit versions!
        Please check your ISO’s md5sum

    • Debian Family

      • Help The ‘Ubuntu Welcome Tour’ Project

        Ubuntu user Brian Vidal thinks so and set about creating a framework for just that; introducing new users to their new desktop via a slick informative ‘tour’.

      • Idiot goes Open Source

        It seems that even the cat is using Ubuntu… the kids have seemingly seamlessly adapted to Open Source Software. My computer has also taken sides and is so slow it’s definitely trying to tell me something.

        [...]

        This is an excerpt from my ramblings on going over to Open Source Software. My husband (The Open Sourcerer) has persuaded me to put it on here but I’ve really no idea why. He said “people will be interested, you’ll be surprised.”

        ….surely they have better things to do??? I’d be interested in the work/chore that is so bad you’d rather read this than do it.

    • Linux Mint

      • LinuxCertified Laptop – a review, and a side plug for Linux, and Mint!

        Why did I order this laptop? It is one of many companies, known and less-known, who offer their hardware with Linux installed, instead of a version of Microsoft’s Windows. You can read about the beginning of my research and these companies in my previous blog, “Buying a Linux Laptop …”

      • Linux Mint 8: Polished, Professional and Nearly Perfect

        I’m feeling right at home with Mint 8: It’s a highly professional, carefully thought-out distribution with the kind of polish that really makes it shine, and I highly recommend it to you, whether you’re a Linux newcomer or a seasoned veteran.

        It comes with a strong selection of default software and because of its Ubuntu links, there’s little you could ever possibly need that isn’t just a few clicks away.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Android

      • China Mobile’s OMS 2.0 Android OS supports Windows Mobile APIs. What’s that?

        Don’t ask me what this is all about, because even I can’t figure out what’s going on here. China Mobile just released the 2.0 version of their Android based OMS mobile OS today. Among the new feaures supported like SVG and voice regognition the comany also claims that “Windows Mobile API” are now part of this update (!?).

    • Sub-notebooks

      • ARM will fly without windows? Then bring it on!

        I was reading yesterday this article of an interview to Warren East, one of the top guys at ARM.

        He goes on about how ARM will succeed with or without Windows (not ME) supporting it once it starts being pumped into markets in the shape of a new architecture for netbooks.

    • Tablets

      • Android Tablets vs. Apple iPad: Comparison/Review

        With the launch of Apple’s new iPad this week, everyone seems to have their eyes tuned into the tablet market. Well jump on over to Gizmodo for the full review and comparison of the iPad, HP Slate, JooJoo, and a few Android tablets (Notion Ink Adam, Dell Mini 5, Archos 7 Android).

Free Software/Open Source

  • Free Technology Academy

    The Free Technology Academy is a “joint initiative from several educational institutes in various countries” that attempts to offer an online masters-level course in Free technologies.

  • Welcome to the Free Technology Academy

    So where does the Free Technology Academy fit in?

    [...]

    1. the Introduction to Free Software and Open Standards;
    2. the GNU/Linux Operating System;
    3. Network Technologies;
    4. Web Applications development;
    5. Economical models;
    6. Legal aspects of the Information Society;
    7. Software development and
    8. Case studies.

  • Mozilla

  • Symbian

    • Symbian using Drupal

      The Symbian Foundation is a non-profit organization that stewards the Symbian platform, an operating system for mobile phones and smartphones. The Symbian Foundation was founded by Nokia, Sony Ericsson, Motorola, Texas Instruments, Vodafone, LG Electronics, Samsung Electronics, STMicroelectronics and AT&T. Today, their website runs Drupal.

    • Symbian’s EPL versus the Linux GPL.

      The GNU General Public License (or GPL) seeks to codify the Four Software Freedoms coined by Richard Matthew Stallman — specifically:

      1. The freedom to run it.
      2. The freedom to study and adapt it.
      3. The freedom to redistribute it.
      4. The freedom to improve it.

      It’s important to note that under the GPL authors can still release software commercially — that is, charge for it. But unlike most commercial software the end user is free and clear to modify what they’ve paid for, and even charge for the result should they so desire.

    • Symbian won’t lead an open source revolution

      And although Symbian is already the most widely used mobile operating system in the world, its decision to open up its source code is more likely an attempt to push back a challenge from Android than to undercut the proprietary mobile operating systems such as iPhone and BlackBerry. Android is projected to become the second-most used mobile operating system behind Symbian by the end of 2012.

    • Symbian is Open Soruce – Really?

      In recent news, the Symbian Foundation announced that “All 108 packages containing the source code of the Symbian platform can now be downloaded from Symbian’s developer web site”. This is great news!

      [...]

      Either I’m too stupid, or I am unable to find any source code for those two components. I’m quite sure something essential like the API’s for making phone calls are considered part of the Symbian platform.

    • New, Open Symbian Looks Beyond Smartphones

      But carriers are already looking to connected devices to shore up slimming voice margins, and a variety of new tablets will come to market this year. It may seem odd to hear that the 10-year-old Symbian platform is targeting the new wave of devices, but it’s a smart move for an operating system that continues to lose market share — especially now that Nokia’s long-term hopes for high-end handsets hinge on Maemo.

    • Symbian tablets ‘very likely’, says Foundation chief

      On Thursday, the Symbian Foundation announced that it had completed the open-sourcing of its mobile operating system — the largest such migration in software history.

      ZDNet UK spoke to Lee Williams, chief executive of the Symbian Foundation, to learn more about the implications of the open-sourcing process for the venerable OS and find out what people can expect from upcoming versions.

  • WordPress

    • What would ODF support for WordPress look like?

      Export is easier to imagine. Given the range of things that can be done in WordPress posts and pages, I would think that only a relatively small subset of ODF would be needed beyond the packaging and some straightforward text markup. Here I would take as my model “what would this WordPress page look like if I printed it, and what ODF file would I have to create to generate equivalent output?”

    • WordPress Launches on Android

      At the very beginning of this year, we reported on rumors that a WordPress Android app was on its way. Today, that rumor became a reality: WordPress for Android 1.0 has been released to the Android Market.

    • WordPress For Blackberry 1.0 Launches, Puts The iPhone App To Shame

      Right after WordPress launched their Android app, the WP crew finished the final touches on their Blackberry app that rivals the one they built upon Google’s mobile OS.

    • WordPress for Android – A Blogger’s Dream App
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU

    • org-mode In Your Pocket Is a GNU-Shaped Devil

      It is not controversial to assert that Emacs is an environment all its own. You can find libraries and packages that allow Emacs to acknowledge and talk to outside environments, so it’s not a closed environment, but it’s different enough that there’s some fiddling involved to get it chatting with the outside world.

  • Releases

    • LLVM milestone reached – Clang compiler self-hosts

      The LLVM developers have announced that their open source Clang compiler is now capable of compiling itself and LLVM correctly.This process, called self-hosting, is a major landmark for any compiler technology as it means that the compiler has become self-sufficient in terms of support for its own functionality.

  • Government

    • What the Open Government Directive Means for Open Source

      On the heels of the Open Government Memo of January 21st, 2009, the Obama Administration has issued the Open Government Directive. The Directive tells agencies what they must do to meet the expectations set by the Memo. The directive names many deadlines for agency compliance, most of them around reducing FOIA backlogs and increasing the amount of agency data released to the public.

    • Linux of the Rings

      Last month saw the launch of http://www.data.gov.uk web site not only built on Open Source Technology but designed to give UK-data back to the UK-people. Number one amongst the endorsers was the most celebrated Knight and famous Wizard, Sir Tim Berners-Lee. In the same month both UK political parties restated their total commitment to Open Source software.

    • From Open Source to Open Government

      Yesterday I had an interesting chat with Paul Clarke, an advisor to government departments on digital strategy, and a man with fingers in many interesting pies, about open government. The central issue we were ruminating upon was how to help those within government who want to open up, given the huge inertial forces operating against them.

      [...]

      I think it comes down to realising that open government is really all of a piece with open source – that the ideas behind openness, collaboration and sharing are universally applicable, and not just limited to the realm of writing code. This means that once a company has begun the open source journey, and started to understand what that implies in terms of how software is created and used, they are then far better placed to work with governmental implementations of the same approach when they appear.

    • ES: Administrations sponsor extension of open source network monitoring tool

      Several public administrations in Spain are sponsoring the development of Zorb, an open source extension to Nagios, an open source network monitoring tool. Zorb allows users to fine-tune the processing of events generated from the monitored instances, hosts and services. Zorb has just been published on the OSOR Forge.

  • Openness

    • The Indispensable Man of Open Science: A Talk with Cameron Neylon

      Could you please tell us a bit of your background? What kind of scientist are you, for instance?

      I started off in what was at the time fairly conventional metabolic biochemistry doing an undergraduate project looking at what food molecules platelets selected from plasma when given the choice. Then I moved more towards biophysics and biotechnology during my PhD, looking at ways to manipulate DNA to make what were then large libraries of variants of the gene specific protein, trying to figure out how to make protein copies of all of those genes and then select the one or two out the billions that did what we want. The theme since then has really been about developing new ways of applying physical techniques from physics and chemistry to looking at protein structure and function.

      My current job at the Science and Technology Facilities Council in the UK is an interesting mix of developing new techniques, using these to tackle specific structural problems, and working with the scientists who come in to use our facilities to help them solve problems. I enjoy working with other people and this job gives me a good opportunity to do that and for that to be valued, something that is often missing in university settings.

    • CA Free Digital Textbook Initiative Launches Phase 2

      Many of you have heard about California’s Free Digital Textbook Initiative that launched last spring, which called for submissions of free digital textbooks in math and science for use by the state’s schools. Of the 16 textbooks submitted last year, 15 are openly licensed under one of the Creative Commons licenses—and all 10 that passed 90% of CA’s state standards are CC licensed.

    • Is Citizen Science the future for researchers?

      When research findings are apparently called into question by leaked emails with opposing views, you can forgive those not involved in academic research for being a bit sceptical. After all how can people presented with the same data come up with findings that are diametrically opposed?

      So, can citizen science help, and what might it mean? The idea around open science and citizen science is to have a sensible, grown-up, debate in a public arena and engage everyone in the research process.

      It allows those who are not involved on a daily basis with research to hear opposing views and be engaged in the argument rather than being presented with only one view.

    • CERN opens up bibliographic metadata!

      As regular readers of the Open Knowledge Foundation blog will know, bibliographic metadata is a subject close to our heart (see e.g., here, here and here). Hence we were delighted to see today’s announcement that CERN Library are releasing their bibliographic metadata under an open license!

    • Interview With Stevan Harnad – A Prophet Whose Time Has Come

      In June 1994, Stevan Harnad, a cognitive scientist at the University of Southampton in the U.K., posted a message on a mailing list that called on fellow researchers to make their papers freely available on the internet. The message became known as the Subversive Proposal.

    • Four analogies to clean energy

      When I think about the political fortunes of open access, I find that I compare them privately to the political fortunes of clean energy. I know there are differences, but I keep returning to the similarities.

      I’m not ready to say that the similarities are more salient than the differences. But it’s time to get these analogies out in the open.

    • Vote now to stop government regulation of .uk

      Nominet is canvassing support for a crucial Net governance vote that it says will help prevent government regulation of Britain’s dot-uk registry.

    • Britain Loves Wikipedia – And About Time, Too

      One of the important roles of museums and galleries is education: helping the public to discover and explore the masterworks in their collections. So you would have thought that they would be only to happy to have images of those works exposed in the greatest online gallery of them all, Wikipedia. And yet there has been a certain resistance to this in some quarters, thanks – of course – to a crazy obsession with “copyright”.

    • Brazil 2.0: Journalists Go Online to Open Government Records

      Veridiana Sedeh and Jose Roberto de Toledo spoke with me from ABRAJI’s headquarters in Sao Paolo. During our conversations, Veridiana and Jose Roberto emphasized the importance of creating a public memory through smart journalism informed by access to government record-keeping. I met Veridiana through her work as a peer reviewer on the upcoming Global Integrity Report: 2009, and that led me to ABRAJI.

    • The Great to Good Manifesto

      Today, as the globe struggles with an historic economic decline, it’s time for a new revolution. I’d like to advance a hypothesis: Today’s great competitive challenge isn’t going from Good to Great. For people, companies, and countries, it’s going from great to good.

      [...]

      Call it the First Law of 21st Century Economics: today’s great challenge isn’t making the same old toxic junk, whether CDOs, Hummers, or soda, more efficiently — it’s making stuff that’s not toxic junk in the first place. That’s the challenge of going from great to good — and becoming what I’ve been calling a “Constructive Capitalist.”

  • Programming

    • Fire Outfoxed: Greasemonkey Creator Builds Native Support Into Chrome

      When Google launched Extensions for Chrome in December, they had around 300 of them ready to go in their gallery. A day later, that number was already up to 500. By now, there are a few thousand available, and that number just got multiple by several times as Google has announced that the latest official version of Chrome, version 4, now natively supports Greasemoneky user scripts.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Adobe CTO Kevin Lynch Defends Flash, Warns HTML5 Will Throw The Web “Back To The Dark Ages Of Video”

      Adobe’s Flash technology has been taking a beating lately. Apple still won’t support it on its upcoming iPad or its iPhone. Steve Jobs calls it buggy and crash-prone and dismisses Adobe as being lazy. Adobe is trying to fight the negative vibes emanating from Cupertino and elsewhere. It has already pointed out that it will be easy to convert Flash apps into iPad apps, and now CTO Kevin Lynch is weighing in to defend Flash.

Leftovers

  • Buying Guide: Anti-Virus Software

    If you’re reading this article, chances are you don’t need to be convinced about the importance of anti-virus software. But since the “Do I really need it?” question does frequently come up, let’s address it right off the bat.

  • MPs’ expenses: who claimed what? The full list

    Under the “if people really don’t understand a subject bombard them with as many documents as possible in as short a time as possible” theory, today has seen a blizzard of statistics and data released on MPs’ expenses.

  • BAE Systems handed £280m criminal fines in UK and US

    BAE Systems will pay fines of £280m in a deal with US and UK authorities to settle investigations into its actions in Saudi Arabia and Tanzania.

    The firm will pay £250m in the US after admitting misleading authorities about payments that had a “high probability” of being used to help win contracts.

    And it will hand over about £30m in the UK – a record criminal corporate fine.

  • Blame Internet Over The Fewest Homicides. What!?

    Two of Japan’s most authoritative newspapers, Asahi Shimbun and Nikkei Shimbun both put a very similar notes on their front editorial on January 29th, which made net users upset.

    [...]

    In Japan, traditional media take more confrontational attitude against the Internet, if you compare it with west. One reason is that their readers demographics is on older side, whilst the Internet is welcoming younger people.

    The world-class (by number) gigantic newspapers are supported by those old generation who believe that those newspapers are the right information source. Any critics on the Internet is favoured to the majority of the readers who dislike the Internet.

  • Fellow travelers: The FOSS media and FOSS developers

    For her part, Schroder, functioning as a journalist, seems to have expected the editorial to be treated as a piece of journalism. The fact that is wasn’t shows just how little understood the dual roles of a FOSS journalist really are.

    Essentially, FOSS journalists are fellow-travelers, allies of FOSS developers but with concerns and constraints that often differ. Without exception, every one of them I have encountered has a lively interest and sympathy in their subject.

    But they are also journalists, which means that they are not always going to act like other FOSS supporters. Sometimes, in the name of journalistic integrity, they are going to mention inconvenient truths and voice unpopular sentiments.

  • David Tennant takes on role of rebel UK ambassador

    Playwright David Hare brings Craig Murray’s Murder in Samarkand to life in play for Radio 4

    He drank a lot of whisky and had a shamefully leery eye when it came to women but, as our man in Tashkent, Craig Murray also exposed the brutal tyranny and torture of a regime which had little regard for human rights.

    [...]

    Murray is portrayed as an intelligent but slightly naive diplomat given the ambassador’s job, aged 43, in Uzbekistan, a country ruled then and now by the human rights-ignoring Islam Karimov. The play is set in 2003 when the “war on terror” was at its height and information obtained by the regime’s torturing of Muslim terror suspects was proving useful to the west.

  • Ancient tribal language becomes extinct as last speaker dies

    Death of Boa Sr, last person fluent in the Bo language of the Andaman Islands, breaks link with 65,000-year-old culture

  • Ancient tribe becomes extinct as last member dies
  • Science

    • Spray-on liquid glass is about to revolutionize almost everything

      Other organizations, such as a train company and a hotel chain in the UK, and a hamburger chain in Germany, are also testing liquid glass for a wide range of uses. A year-long trial of the spray in a Lancashire hospital also produced “very promising” results for a range of applications including coatings for equipment, medical implants, catheters, sutures and bandages. The war graves association in the UK is investigating using the spray to treat stone monuments and grave stones, since trials have shown the coating protects against weathering and graffiti. Trials in Turkey are testing the product on monuments such as the Ataturk Mausoleum in Ankara.

  • Security

    • MEPs unconvinced on benefits of body scanners

      Technology should not become the “religion of counter-terrorism”, according to Civil Liberties Committee MEPs discussing the use of body scanners in the European Union (EU) yesterday.

      Several MEPs argued in a debate with the EU’s counter-terrorism co-ordinator Gilles de Kerkhove that better information sharing among governments and security agencies should be at the forefront of the fight on terrorism.

    • Highways Agency evaluating mobile phone-based driver monitoring

      The Highways Agency is assessing a system that will monitor the movement of traffic, by tracking drivers’ mobile phones, it has been confirmed.

      The agency already uses cameras for similar data, as well as detection systems under the road, but wants to supplement the information and “fill in any gaps”.

    • Home Affairs Committee collecting DNA… stories

      The Home Affairs Committee was having another evidence session about the National DNA Database (NDNAD). This time, it was short as the committee had only two witnesses and they talked about their personal experience, so there was none of that litany of errors and misunderstandings that riddled the previous session.

    • DNA pioneer lambasts government database policy

      The developer of DNA fingerprinting and profiling has said the government is wrong in retaining profiles of innocent people.

    • Does the government have your baby’s DNA?

      Here’s a rather disturbing article published by CNN today. Apparently, many “states mandate that newborns be tested for anywhere between 28 and 54 different conditions, and the DNA samples are stored in state labs for anywhere from three months to indefinitely, depending on the state.”

    • Innocent in the UK, unwelcomed in the USA

      If you are an innocent who happened to have been arrested in England or Wales, you’re unlikely to be able to go to the United States of America, ever again. Retention of DNA is not the only long term effect of an arrest. Having been arrested also disqualifies one from the Visa Waiver Program (VWP). The alternative is attempting to obtain a visa to enter the USA, a long and costly process with an uncertain outcome.

    • We don’t need secret surveillance cameras

      It’s not news that Britain has a lot of surveillance cameras, with around 60,000 run by local authorities alone. However, most cameras record only images, which are normally kept for a few weeks. Unless and until facial recognition technology improves significantly, these are not capable of creating a database of people’s movements.

    • Tony Blair accused of putting war with Iran on the electoral agenda

      Tony Blair has been accused of warmongering spin for claiming that western powers might be forced to invade Iran because it poses as serious a threat as Saddam Hussein.

      Sir Richard Dalton, a former British ambassador to Iran, accused Blair of trying to make confrontation with Iran an electoral issue after the former prime minister repeatedly singled out its Islamic regime as a global threat in his evidence to the Iraq war inquiry yesterday.

    • Checking Blair’s ‘calculus of risk’ – WMDs and regime change

      At the Chilcott inquiry Tony Blair claimed the risk of terrorists being supplied WMDs by “rogue’ states justified a policy of invasion rather than containment and deterrence. Unlike Blair’s more reasoned cases for humanitarian intervention in countries like Kosovo and Sierra Leone, the former Prime Minister’s recent argument for the invasion of Iraq was less robust.

    • Can you trust Chinese computer equipment?

      China may not only be breaking into Google’s network, but giving people deliberately bugged technology gear. Can we trust any technology that comes from China?

      [...]

      According to the Sunday Times, “A leaked MI5 document says that undercover intelligence officers from the People’s Liberation Army and the Ministry of Public Security have also approached UK businessmen at trade fairs and exhibitions with the offer of ‘gifts’ and ‘lavish hospitality.’ The gifts — cameras and memory sticks — have been found to contain electronic Trojan bugs which provide the Chinese with remote access to users’ computers.”

  • Environment

    • New energy rules may end ‘on-all-night’ shop displays

      The era of the ‘on-all-night’ illuminated high street could end, the Environment Agency is predicting.

      The agency says new rules will force businesses to switch off lights and displays at night to meet new limits.

    • Bulgarian activists praise EU for ‘saving’ nature

      The country’s EU membership has put pressure on the authorities to contain the greed of firms building on protected sites, Bulgarian environmentalists said. Dnevnik, EurActiv’s partner publication in Bulgaria, reports.

  • Finance

    • Populism popular at the World Economic Forum in Davos

      DAVOS, SWITZERLAND The World Economic Forum is the last place I would have expected to encounter the new populism. But when a venerable European central banker, a man whose very bearing connotes the old capitalist values, told me privately that he is now convinced that the financial system is too important to be left to the free market, I knew we were wandering into new territory.

    • Davos – the Call of Ctulhu for Zombienomics

      I don’t know why, but for some reason perfectly sane people go to Davos and then write a curious type of article – not quite sure how to describe it but words like smug, supine, surface level and subservient all come to mind. Its like biting the hand that feeds, but without teeth, and giving the fingers a grateful little lick at the same time. These two articles are typical of the genre – I had them on the spike for shafting, as it were – as to my mind they show this particular issue off quite well.

      First, Alan Rusbridger on “Google is another country”:

      Google is not unlike many other countries (Britain, say) which turn up at Davos with half the cabinet. Schimdt was flanked by his senior team – including David Drummond, Nikesh Arora, Marissa Mayer, and Chad Hurley. All presidents or vice-presidents, and worth a few billion between them. They are sitting on mountains of cash and no debt. So, not very much like most countries.

    • Desperate Times, Desperate Measures: Luntz Backs the Big Lie

      Luntz, who has been reprimanded by American Association for Public Opinion Research for his misleading polling work, advises Republicans to keep it simple: 1) Never minimize the pain of those suffering from the crisis; 2) Acknowledge the need for reform that ensures it never happens again; 3) Then lie, lie, lie. The killer lie? Characterize any meaningful Wall Street reform legislation as “the big bank bailout bill.”

    • Frank Luntz Pens Memo To Kill Financial Regulatory Reform

      Nine months after he penned a memo laying out the arguments for health care legislation’s destruction, Republican message guru Frank Luntz has put together a playbook to help derail financial regulatory reform.

    • Golden Throne Award Goes to Tim Ryan, Spinmeister for U.S. Securities Industry

      The Center for Media and Democracy and BanksterUSA are pleased to present our Golden Throne Award to T. Timothy Ryan Jr., President and Chief Executive Officer of the Securities Industries and Financial Markets Association (SIFMA). SIFMA is the leading behind-the-scenes lobby group representing big banks and investment firms, as well as broker-dealers and other peddlers of financial instruments, which Warren Buffett labeled “weapons of mass destruction.” SIFMA lobbies Congress and financial regulators, and handles securities-related press for some of the biggest players in the financial crisis–Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, AIG, Merrill Lynch, Citigroup, and Fidelity Investments.

    • Groundhogs Day on Wall Street

      With 27 million Americans unemployed or underemployed, we are in a big hole and it is going to take big ideas and, unfortunately, big money to climb out of it. I would prefer that these funds come out of AIG’s pocket, and not mine.

    • Too Busy For Obama, Bank CEOs Make Time To ‘Educate’ Hill Staffers

      Megabank CEOs didn’t have time for President Barack Obama when he gave a major speech on Wall Street in September, but they had no trouble making it to Capitol Hill this morning to plead their case to the 20-something staffers who can help them stop reform in its tracks.

      Kicking off a two-day event designed to “help” legislative aides who will be writing the rules designed to rein in and reform Wall Street, the CEOs made it clear that they would be there “anytime” a young, confused congressional aide needed help understanding a complex topic.

  • PR/AstroTurf

  • Censorship/Civil Rights

    • Hospital trust branded the worst in Britain ‘tried to gag whistleblowers’

      A hospital trust branded the worst in Britain by the NHS regulator actively discouraged staff from expressing fears about the safety of patients, an independent inquiry is expected to conclude.

    • Italy Plans to Hold YouTube Accountable for its Users’ Uploads (Updated)

      The Italian government is moving ahead with its plans to hold YouTube accountable for its users’ copyright infringements. According to new regulations that have recently been proposed by the Italian government, YouTube would have to get a TV license to operate in Italy. Should Italy move ahead with this regulation, YouTube would have to follow the same rules and regulations as traditional broadcast channels. These new rules would eliminate the “safe harbor” rules that currently shield services like YouTube.

    • Blogger describes Xinjiang as an ‘internet prison’

      Following the ethnic unrest in Xinjiang in July 2009, internet access in the region has been severely restricted – far more than in other parts of China.

      The situation is gradually improving, but an American blogger living in the area says many sites are still strictly censored.

    • Why You Should Be Afraid Of Internet Censorship in Australia, Even If You Don’t Live There

      The spectre of broadscale Internet censorship in Australia has been covered previously here on The Next Web before, but many outside Australia may wonder: why should you care if you don’t live in Australia.

      If you’re not aware of what’s proposed, the short version is that Australia is proposing to introduce a compulsory firewall that filters content based on a blacklist of banned sites.

      What’s going to be on that list is even now still somewhat confused. The Censorship Minister Stephen Conroy has stated that all Refused Classification content will be banned, which in Australia would extend to computer games unsuitable for children (Australia has no adult (R18+) rating for computer games,) small breasts, information about euthanasia, discussion forums on anorexia, as well as the usual nasties of child porn. To complicate matters, a site may be refused classification in Australia if it links to a site that is refused classification, which could literally result in half the internet being blocked.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Imprisoned Terrorist, Carlos The Jackal, Claims Intellectual Property Over Documentary About His Life

      In the past, we’ve seen various attempts by people to claim they had some sort of intellectual property right over a TV show or movie about them, but those claims rarely get very far. We’ve also seen people in prison with too much time on their hands suddenly claim IP rights over their name or likeness.

    • Classical artists such as Hilary Hahn chart big on Billboard with little sales

      On Jan. 14, the violinist Hilary Hahn scored a rare gig for a classical music performer: She appeared on “The Tonight Show.” And not just any “Tonight Show,” but the “Tonight Show” during the final days of Conan O’Brien’s brief tenure as host. Everybody was watching. So it came as no surprise that Hahn’s new album, “Bach: Violin and Voice,” debuted that week at No. 1 on the Billboard classical charts.

    • Has The Recording Industry Reached The Bargaining Stage Of Grief?

      This is the second year that I was privileged to attend (and speak) at Midem, the big music industry conference that takes place each January.

      [...]

      Instead, the word that I kept hearing was “quiet.” Almost everyone you spoke to mentioned how “quiet” Midem was this year. Attendance was down (apparently about 10% from last year, when I remember them saying that attendance had also been down about 10%), but that’s not too surprising given the state of the economy and the general turmoil of the industry.

    • Telecoms package to end uncontested

      The EU is reportedly on the cusp of undermining Internet users’ fundamental freedoms for good as the European Council is putting pressure on MEPs to agree to a watered-down version of the telecoms package tomorrow (4 November), making it possible to cut off the Web connections of suspected illegal downloaders without a fair trial.

    • p2pnet – last post

      I’m closing down. And so is Wikileaks.

      “To concentrate on raising the funds necessary to keep us alive into 2010, we have reluctantly suspended all other operations, but will be back soon,” it says. “We protect the world — but will you protect us?”

      I can’t claim p2pnet has been protecting the world, but I’ve done my best to unspin some of the vested interest corporate spin, and expose a few of the lies and corruption.

      I launched p2pnet close to 10 years ago and in that time I’ve published thousands of pages on topics ranging from Big Music’s black-hearted persecution of its own customers, through the CBC’s amazing new US licensing plan to Is Michael Bublé a pot head? and The Wonder that is iPad!, to quote from some of today’s posts.

    • Update — FT article full text

      Unfortunately, in the copyright realm, the Obama administration had devoted itself, like its predecessors, largely to a content industry agenda which has given us mind-numbingly long copyright terms, intrusive legally backed digital rights management, and even a new proposal to cut individuals off from the internet simply for being accused, three times, of illicit downloading.

    • Abundance Creates Utility But Destroys Exchange Value

      The cognitive capitalism and New Growth Theory models are an updated version of Daniel Bell’s “post-industrial” thesis. The problem is, post-industrialism is self-liquidating. Technological progress destroys the technical prerequisites for capturing value from technological progress.

    • Craigslist Et Al Take $13.6 Billion Out Of Classified Ads Sector

      Rick Edmonds, over on Poynter Online, notes that the classified ads sector dropped to $6 billion in 2009. This compares with $10 billion in 2008, and $19.6 billion in 2000.

    • ‘Ink’ – The Movie That Blew Up On BitTorrent

      In November 2009, an indie movie received unprecedented worldwide attention after becoming a massive hit on BitTorrent networks. ‘Ink’, which was downloaded well in excess of 400,000 times, shot into the top 20 movies on iMDb. In a new interview, the creators talk about their experience and the future of movie distribution.

    • Landmark ISP liability case decided in Australia

      This is a lengthy and complex ruling, but it is remarkable that it has fallen upon a judge that seems to get the importance of the ruling in the wider context, and also who got the technical complexities involved. Cowdroy J has managed to wade through the technical issues with exceptional clarity, and has produced a ruling that should become an instant classic. The judge accurately identifies that the case hinges on two simple questions. Have the iiNet customers infringed copyright directly? The answer is yes.

    • UCLA professors banned from posting videos online

      As of winter quarter 2010, teachers are no longer permitted to post videos on their course Web sites.

      The Association for Information Media and Equipment, a trade organization, has accused UCLA of infringing on copyright laws.

    • ACTA

      • What Really Happened At the ACTA Talks in Mexico?

        With the conclusion of the 7th round of ACTA negotiations in Guadalajara, Mexico last week, participating countries issued the now-standard boilerplate statement that merely repeats the agenda items and provides no real insight into the progress of the talks. While the statement is does little to advance the desire for greater transparency, reports from New Zealand and Sweden shed far more light on where things stand.

      • ACTA Negotiators Report No Breakthroughs On Transparency

        [Updated:] The Chamber issued a statement last week supporting transparency within limits and describing the talks as trade negotiations. “Given the importance of this agreement to our economy and to consumers, we must not allow ACTA to be derailed by a minority opposed to protecting the rights of artists, inventors, and entrepreneurs,” it said. “The US Chamber has also been supportive of greater transparency in these talks. We recognise the constraints of international trade negotiations; however we urge the administration to ensure the congressional committees of jurisdiction – as representatives of the American people – are fully briefed on the scope of the ACTA negotiations and why concluding this agreement expeditiously is in the country’s best interests.”

      • But, Wait, Didn’t The Entertainment Industry Insist ACTA Wouldn’t Change US Law?

        It’s been amusing watching the entertainment industry lobbyists try to come up with talking points in support of their most favored trade agreement du jour, ACTA. A popular one is that nothing in it can or will change US law. But, of course, if you talk to the folks who know how these things work in DC, you quickly learn that’s hogwash. There wouldn’t be any ACTA at all if it wasn’t out to change the laws, and it wouldn’t be so secretive if it was just designed to keep the status quo.

      • USTR: A Lot Of Misperception Over ACTA, But We Won’t Clear It Up Or Anything

        Via Michael Geist, we’re pointed to a short interview with a representative from the US Trade Reps office, where the issue over ACTA concerns is raised, and the response is almost comically ridiculous. Stan McCoy, the assistant US Trade Representative for intellectual property and innovation, responds to complaints by saying that there has been a lot of misrepresentation about ACTA and that it really has a lot about counterfeiting and isn’t just about copyright. And….? Well, that’s it.

      • ACTA absurdity continues, may only get worse

        The saga of the misleadingly named “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement” has only gotten more ridiculous since I decried it in November.

        For those of you whose eyes (understandably) glaze over at any mention of multilateral trade agreements, ACTA is an attempt by the United States and dozens of other countries to write new rules to combat counterfeiting of trademarked goods, as its name suggests, and to stop copyright violations as well, a goal left out of its moniker. (If you’ve got a spare 90 minutes, you can watch a video of a panel discussion I led about ACTA at Google’s Washington offices last month.)

        [...]

        That level of secrecy has begun to draw criticism from groups that were early proponents of ACTA. For example, in November the Motion Picture Association of America wrote a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk requesting greater transparency and public participation. And at the end of January, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce voiced similar thoughts in a press release — sentiments that went unsaid in a June 2009 endorsement of ACTA.

      • ACTA Goes on the Charm Offensive sans Charm

        Sorry to rattle on about ACTA, but it seems there’s something of a concerted campaign to “counter” all the noise we little people are making. Here’s a line that might sound familiar, this time from Stanford McCoy, “Assistant United States Trade Representative for Intellectual Property and Innovation”:

        Intellectual property protection is critical to jobs and exports that depend on innovation and creativity. Trade in counterfeit and pirated products undermines those jobs and exports, exposes consumers to dangerous knock-offs from toothpaste to car parts, and helps fund organised crime.

      • EU Official Caught in the ACTA

        Ah-ha: what this reveals is that the reason ACTA won’t “rewrite” the rules is because the rules are *already there*, according to this interpretation: ACTA will simply foreground them. It’s tacitly admitting that there are latent ACTA-like provisions in the eCommerce laws; the big difference is that ACTA will activate them, so to speak.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Clyde Vaughn, retired minister 02 (2007)


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