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03.28.10

Links 28/3/2010: Sabayon 5.2 and GIMP Fun

Posted in News Roundup at 6:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Old phones save lives

    IntraHealth and the Senegalese Ministry of Health are using a simple mobile information system based on FrontlineSMS:Medic, a free, open-source software platform that enables large-scale, two-way text messaging. The software was customized for the project in partnership with RAES, the African Network for Health Education. Providers send health data via cell phones to a centrally supported automated response server in Dakar, where it is analyzed by Ministry of Health staff.

  • Making Sense of Open Source Diversity

    Open source needs an app store.

    No, I am not crazy. Well, not about this, anyway. I know that apps for Linux, and open source apps in general, are free and easy to download and install. They are also numerous. Very. To the point where it has become increasingly difficult to keep track of which apps are available to do which tasks. And that’s me talking–someone who is supposed to know what’s what in the community.

  • Editor’s Note: What is There Besides Money?

    My county lives and dies by volunteer labor. If we didn’t have so many generous, far-sighted volunteers filling key positions we’d be in sorry shape. The fire departments are all volunteer, and they are required to have the same training and skills as big-city paid departments. Search and rescue, sheriff’s reserves, home health care and hospice, and on and on and on…all of these jobs that are ordinarily paid positions are capably filled by skilled, committed unpaid volunteers.

    Sound familiar? It is true that a lot of FOSS development is paid, but a sizable amount is still done by unpaid volunteers. The value of diverse, open development and distribution should speak for itself, given its long and successful history, and yet one of the biggest unanswered questions is how can a person make a living from FOSS? Those folks who are quickest with answers like “give away the code, sell service and support” are people who have jobs with paychecks, and have never tried it.

  • Culture in computing.

    This is my quick take on these three computing cultures in an already too long blog posting. In summary, I think that Apple culture is going the way of mobile gadgets, windows culture is as hard and mouldy as two week old stale bread and the open source culture is undergoing a renaissance and bringing computing back to an even keel. I also believe that a very important factor is that the younger generation are much more technologically savvy than my generation of fat balding greybearded eldergeeks :) They realise the intrinsic value and it is their thoughts and opinions which are influencing the change in the current cultures. What do you think? How are the current computing cultures evolving and how will they evolve in the future?

  • GIMP

    • Adobe’s “Magic” Is Gimp’s Old Plug-In

      Suddenly the graphics world is all atwitter about this miraculous new feature they’re previewing in Photoslop. A Photoslop team guy has a video up with a “sneak preview” of what they’re calling “Content-Aware Fill.” As soon as I saw it, I remembered some plug-in that I’d tried in Gimp long ago, but couldn’t remember what it was.

    • Episode 137: A Trip to Hamburg

      I mention two podcasts worth to follow. Jeff Curto’s “The History of Photography” and The World’s “Technology Podcast“. And then there is the Haus der Photographie in the Deichtorhallen, which has good exhibitions and a good bookstore. The map in the bbegin was provided by the Open Street Map Project.

    • Photoshop’s CAF (content-aware fill) – unbelievable? Not quite.

      They can rest assured – it is possible and it has been around for years, e.g. in the GIMP plugin by Paul Harrison called Resynthesizer.

    • Development GIMP Version 2.7 Review

      GIMP 2.7 seems to always start in multi-window mode, even if the user closes GIMP in single-window mode. Although this may have just been a misconfiguration with our GIMP, proper configuration won’t be completely implemented until GIMP 2.8′s release.

      There is another thing. If you maximize the window and then switch tabs it unmaximizes, bringing the window back to the size it was before maximizing.

      With minor GEGL improvements, the current development version of GIMP 2.7 doesn’t appear to have that many new features. We’ll review GIMP again in a while. Until next time…

  • Mozilla

    • 7 Cool Firefox Add-ons

      One of the coolest things about Firefox is its extensibility. Everyone has their collection of favorite Firefox add-ons and I thought I would share mine. Some provide improved organization, some have a certain “WOW!” factor, and others just look pretty.

    • Mozilla Developers Talk Up Firefox as a Key Development Tool

      For many users of Mozilla’s open source Firefox Web browser, Firefox is simply a tool for looking at Web content. For others, Firefox is an enabling tool to actually help develop content and code for the Web.

      This week, Mozilla released the results of a developer survey it conducted in November 2009. The survey received responses from 5,054 developers spread across 119 countries and provides some insights into how developers work with Firefox — and what about Firefox makes it so critical as a tool for developing.

    • Firefox 3.7 Alpha 4 Pre
  • Oracle

  • Business

    • Please break our open source business strategy model

      It included a partial explanation of my theory that those strategies do not exist in isolation, but are steps on an evolutionary process, and also introduced our model for visualizing the core elements of an open source-related business strategy.

    • Reductive Labs, Home of Puppet, Changes Name to Puppet Labs

      Reductive Labs, the home of Puppet, the open source leader in data center automation, has announced that it has changed its name to Puppet Labs. This name better represents the focus of the company on guiding development of Puppet, supporting the large and growing Puppet community and delivering premium tools and services to enable broader deployments of Puppet in large enterprises.

    • New Release of OrangeHRM’s Open Source HRM Software

      OrangeHRM, Inc. is pleased to announce that it released the latest version of OrangeHRM, its open-source HRM software today. Release 2.6 incorporates a Performance Module, a new feature designed to help small- and medium-sized enterprises conduct formal employee performance reviews.

    • Mickos: What’s bigger than open source?

      Mickos is a smart guy. He has deep institutional knowledge of the industry. For Eucalyptus to be wildly successful, it’s going to have to be bigger than just open source, as The VAR Guy points out, i.e., bigger than just an open license attached to otherwise ordinary software. Customers pay for value, and that value, as Mickos thinks, sits at the nexus of cloud, open-source, and collective computing.

    • Former MySQL CEO Mickos Says Open Source Needs More Money Flow

      Mickos also said that part of the reason MySQL kicked off so much open source code for community use was that revenues from it were constant.

    • How do I know if an open source software product is right for my organization?

      More and more organizations are relying on open source software to build, test, deploy, and run mission critical IT applications. From small start-ups to Fortune 500 companies, organizations worldwide are continuing to find open source as a cost effective means to deliver quality business applications. With a wealth of commercial and open source software options widely available, how does an organization know if an open source product is right for them?

    • Coming to America: Abiquo Cloud Management

      Open Source or Enterprise License

      The company provides its cloud management product as an open source Community Edition and as a commercial Enterprise Edition. The former is offered via the GNU Lesser General Public License Version 3. Abiquo 1.5 will be available within 45 days.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Let’s All Get Together

      But developing standards and open source software are not the only areas where people and companies would like to launch collaborative activities among nationally and internationally distributed participants. The question is, will they know how to go about doing so?

    • ODF Plugfest

      The third in a series of plugfests, aimed at lead developers of commercial and open source ODF implementations, experts from local and regional governments, members of the OASIS TC’s and other stakeholders.

Leftovers

  • 5 Websites With Strange & Unusual Facts
  • Finance

    • Big Banks to Try Putting on Lipstick

      The Financial Services Roundtable, which lobbies on behalf of around 100 of the country’s top banks, credit card companies and insurance firms, will undertake a professionally-organized public relations campaign to try to improve the tarnished image of the financial industry.

    • Big Banks Begin Effort to Improve Image, Set `Record Straight’

      One of Wall Street’s main lobbying groups is starting an image-improvement campaign aimed at showing the financial industry as trustworthy and a positive force after more than a year of being chastised in Washington.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • State Insurance Commissioners Take Baton from Congress

      The NAIC, which comprises the insurance commissioners from all 50 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. territories, is having its spring meeting today through Sunday in Denver. The fact that more than 1,700 insurance industry executives are also at the meeting should give you an idea of how important the NAIC is to insurers. Just as members of Congress are far out-numbered by lobbyists on any given day in Washington, the commissioners are far, far outnumbered by insurance company executives who come to NAIC’s conferences to try to influence everything the commissioners do.

    • History in the Making

      I have been transfixed by the long health care reform debates in the US, which finally culminated with the House of Representatives passage of the health care reform bill on March 21, and which President Obama signed into law two days later. The House also passed the reconciliation bill which the Senate subsequently approved on March 25. The health care reform bill is now the law of the land.

  • DRM

    • EA’s Own Employees Annoyed At Pointless DRM Solutions

      However, now it appears that it’s even pissing off EA employees. Slashdot points out that the editor of EA.com got really frustrated over the game kicking him out because his DSL was flakey:

      “Booted twice — and progress lost — on my single-player C&C4 game because my DSL connection blinked. DRM fail. We need new solutions.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Hollywood Seeks To Kill Off 3D Golden Goose With Much Higher Prices

      So what’s Hollywood doing? They’re just making it more expensive. Yes, they’re jacking up the prices on 3D movies, in a typical short-term strategy. Rather than recognize how this might just drive more people to more seriously consider getting a 3D setup at home, Hollywood’s simplistic business modeling seems to be “let’s see how much we can squeeze out of people as quickly as possible.”

    • LEGO to Project Legos: Let go of our trademark

      Toymaking giant LEGO is suing a small Minneapolis nonprofit, saying it benefits from the high-profile name.

    • Want to Use My Suit? Then Throw Me Something

      Mardi Gras Indians have been around for more than a century — more than two, some say — and are generally thought to have originated as a way to pay homage to the American Indians who harbored runaway slaves and started families with them.

    • Universal Music Funds Yet Another ‘Educational’ Propaganda Campaign Against File Sharing

      Back in January, we noted that Chris Morrison, the manager of Damon Albarn’s bands, Blur and Gorillaz, stated at a conference that “piracy can be stopped,” while also suggesting he wanted to personally beat up anyone who shared Albarn’s music (oddly, this was right after he had admitted how much wonderful free publicity Albarn had gotten from a leak of the Gorillaz album). Now it looks like Morrison and a former partner of his are involved in a silly and amusing new propaganda campaign, funded by Universal Music, to try to equate file sharing to drunk driving in some cases and racism in other cases. Seriously.

    • Sony accuses Beyonce of piracy for putting her videos on YouTube

      Sony Entertainment has shut down Beyonce’s official YouTube site. Congrats to Sony Entertainment for wisely spending its legal dollars and working on behalf of its artists.

    • Sony Music Claiming Beyonce’s Official YouTube Channel Violates Copyright?
    • Times and Sunday Times websites to charge from June

      The Times and Sunday Times newspapers will start charging to access their websites in June, owner News International (NI) has announced.

    • Murdoch Puts Up Some More Paywalls

      Unfortunately, the details look like the rumor was wrong, or the plans changed entirely, because now it looks like both publications are going with your standard everyday super expensive paywall. Starting in June, both publications will begin charging a whopping £1 per day or £2 per week for access — which is actually pretty steep, especially in a market where there’s an awful lot of competition. On a yearly basis, it’s only a bit less than what Newsday is charging for its website — which has been a colossal failure.

    • First Amendment Based Copyright Misuse

      We are at a crossroads with respect to the under-developed equitable defense of copyright misuse. The defense may go the way of its sibling, antitrust-based patent misuse, which seems to be in a state of inevitable decline. Or – if judges accept the proposal of this Article – courts could reinvigorate the copyright misuse defense to better protect First Amendment speech that is guaranteed by statute, but that is often chilled by copyright holders misusing their copyrights to control other’s speech.

    • Fighting intensifies over how to enforce intellectual property laws [UPDATED]

      One fight stems from the secretive negotiations over the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement, which began under President George W. Bush. Copyright holders have pressed for provisions that could force Internet Service Providers to do more to combat online piracy, such as cutting off broadband accounts that are used repeatedly for infringement. Such three-strikes provisions are anathema to tech advocacy groups, which also fear that the agreement would make it harder for them to bring some fair-use balance to the anticircumvention provisions of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act.

    • Must Read: CCIA Sets US IP Czar Straight On Intellectual Property

      The RIAA, MPAA and the Screen Actors Guild teamed up to submit their own filing, and as the LA Times noted “it’s a doozy.” Consider it a wishlist of protectionist, anti-consumer, anti-innovation policies, basically demanding that the White House prop up their own businesses, because of their unwillingness to adapt:

      Among other things, the “creative community organizations” urged that:

      * The federal government encourage ISPs to use, and companies to develop, monitoring, filtering, blocking, scanning and throttling technologies to combat the flow of unauthorized material online;
      * Copyright holders be able to combat infringement by making a database of their works available to service providers, rather than submitting individual takedown notices. And once a work is taken down, service providers should be expected to employ “reasonable efforts” to prohibit users from uploading or even linking to them again;
      * Copyright owners be able to block unauthorized streams of live broadcasts without going through the formal notice-and-takedown process;
      * The federal government press search engines, social networks, hosting companies, domain name registrars and online advertising and payment networks to cooperate with copyright holders on efforts to combat piracy (“Encouraging these intermediaries to work with content owners on a voluntary basis to reduce infringements, and assuring these intermediaries that such cooperation will not be second-guessed, should be top priories that call for the personal intervention of senior government officials if necessary.”);
      * A federal interagency task force work with industry to interdict prerelease bootlegs of Hollywood blockbusters and crack down on U.S. services that assist foreign piracy hotbeds;
      * States adopt “labeling laws” that “defined unauthorized online file sharing and streaming as a felony,” giving state and local law enforcement jurisdiction to go after unauthorized copying online;
      * States use consumer protection laws to go after file-sharing sites that “expose consumers to intrusion, viruses and revelation of personal data.”

    • Textbooks are too expensive, so Italian high school tries to produce them in house

      Every year italian families must spend hundreds of Euros in textbooks for every child, while the cost limits set by the government are regularly violated in spite of denounces and warnings from consumer associations. In order to solve this problem, Education Minister Mariastella Gelmini proposed to deduce cost (and weight!) of textbooks by encouraging schools to adopt digital textbooks starting from 2011.

    • ACTA

      • Outrageous Treaty Nonsense, or The Copyright Tail Wagging the Internet Dog

        I’ve been remiss, as the VC’s (sort-of) copyright/Internet law guy, in not commenting previously about a truly outrageous bit of executive branch over-reaching on Hollywood’s behalf. I am referring to the ongoing negotiations about ACTA, the multilateral “Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.” [See Jonathan Adler’s posting earlier today about ACTA here] The US Trade Representative’s office has been conducting these negotiations entirely in secret (on some ridiculous trumped-up ‘national security’ rationale) for several years now on this Agreement; a current draft was recently leaked to the press, and it confirms many peoples’ worst fears. Here’s my attempt at a summary of what’s going on — if you’re interested in more details (and I hope you are), I’ve listed at the end of this posting some excellent sources of further information.

      • The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement

        In short, ACTA is geared up to do almost exactly what I predicted in a “Recent Development” in YJIL last year (The Origins and Potential Impact of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), 34 Yale J. Int’l L. 261 (2009)). It amps up IP protection and criminal sanctions, without respecting existing international institutional process and involving the interests of developing countries.

      • Some More Lowlights From The Leaked ACTA Draft: Whole Thing Can Be Rammed Through With 5 Votes

        Michael Geist points us to a rather thorough review, by Margot Kaminski, of some of the more troubling aspects of the leaked ACTA draft. Kaminski highlights 24 different points, but we’ll just pick out a few key ones. For example, she notes that ACTA would create an express lane for intellectual property cases in the courts, and questions: “Why should copyright take precedent over other cases and have such a fast turnaround?” There are a few concerning things about border searches. While ACTA negotiators and defenders keep insisting that ACTA won’t mean border searches for individuals, the draft highlights a few things that are troubling. For example, the US, Canada and New Zealand want to change the exemption criteria for border searches from the current “small quantities of goods of a non-commercial nature” to the much lower standard of “reasonably attributable to personal use of the traveler.” In other words, this does, in fact, grant more powers to customs and border patrol to search laptops and iPods and the like, if there’s any indication of more information that is “reasonably attributable to personal use,” — though, that standard seems quite vague and subjective.

      • ACTA’s beginning of the end

        Secondly, Devigne denied the second item in the answer to Hammerstein, who asked about the Commission’s name and shame list. It seems riddiculous to deny such an approach and plan given the “Global Europe” strategy contents, also given earlier statements from the directorate. They would no do that, indicated Devigne. How pathetic!

        Oh, and let’s not mention the desasterous performance of Devigne regarding admitting that they won’t respect the parliament’s resolution on limit to counterfeiting. There he stressed being in line with the acquis again.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Sean Shah, software developer at Eye.fi (2009)


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