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Open Source

Submission + - More Fun with Anti-Open Source FUD (computerworlduk.com)

doperative writes: One of the oddest aspects of open source is that unlike any comparable computing field that I am aware of, it has been stalked for years by a strange, insubstantial beast going by the name of FUD. Back in 2006, I wrote a short history of the topic, but in the five years since then we've seen plenty more

Submission + - Feds settle case of woman fired over Facebook site (sltrib.com)

Mr.Intel writes: Employers should think twice before trying to restrict workers from talking about their jobs on Facebook or other social media.

That’s the message the government sent on Monday as it settled a closely watched lawsuit against a Connecticut ambulance company that fired an employee after she went on Facebook to criticize her boss in 2009.


Submission + - 10 Do's and Don'ts to Make Sysadmins' Lives Easier (acm.org)

CowboyRobot writes: Tom Limoncelli has a piece in 'Queue' summarizing the Computer-Human Interaction for Management of Information Technology's list of how to make software that is easy to install, maintain, and upgrade.
FTA: "#2. DON'T make the administrative interface a GUI. System administrators need a command-line tool for constructing repeatable processes. Procedures are best documented by providing commands that we can copy and paste from the procedure document to the command line."


Submission + - Wikileaks to retaliate aganist Scientology (wikinews.org) 5

DragonFire1024 writes: "Wikinews.org — Wikinews has learned that The Church of Scientology has warned the documents leaking site Wikileaks.org that they are in violation of United States copyright laws after they published several documents related to the Church. Wikileaks has no intentions of complying, and states that in response, they intend to publish thousands of Scientology documents next week.
In the letter to Wikileaks, lawyers for the Church's Religious Technology Center (RTC), which oversees the use of the their logos, writings and religious content, states that the site "placed RTC's Advanced Technology works on Wikileaks.org's website without the authorization" of the Church.
"I have a good faith belief, and in fact know for certain, that posting copies of these works through your system was not authorized by my client, any agent of my client, or the law. Please be advised that your customer's action in this regard violates United States copyright law. Accordingly, we ask for your help in removing these works immediately from your service," states the letter from Ava Paquette of Moxon & Kobrin which was published by Wikileaks.
"Wikileaks will not comply with legally abusive requests from Scientology any more than Wikileaks has complied with similar demands from Swiss banks, Russian off-shore stem cell centers, former African Kleptocrats, or the Pentagon. Wikileaks will remain a place where people of the world may safely expose injustice and corruption," stated Wikileaks in a statement on their website.
Wikileaks further states that "in response to the attempted suppression, Wikileaks will release several thousand pages of Scientology material next week.""


Submission + - Monsanto uses food patents against farmers 4

Lorien_the_first_one writes: Vanity Fair describes how Monsanto goes after farmers for collecting their own seeds after a harvest. According to the article, "This radical departure from age-old practice has created turmoil in farm country. Some farmers don't fully understand that they aren't supposed to save Monsanto's seeds for next year's planting. Others do, but ignore the stipulation rather than throw away a perfectly usable product. Still others say that they don't use Monsanto's genetically modified seeds, but seeds have been blown into their fields by wind or deposited by birds."

Submission + - Energy-efficient bulbs not so eco-friendly?

Patchw0rk F0g writes: Compact fluorescent light bulbs, long touted by environmentalists as a more efficient and longer-lasting alternative to the incandescent bulbs that have lighted homes for more than a century, are running into resistance from waste industry officials and some environmental scientists, who warn that the bulbs' poisonous innards pose a bigger threat to health and the environment than previously thought. There is no disputing that overall, fluorescent bulbs save energy and reduce pollution in general, [but] manufacturers and the EPA say broken CFLs should be handled carefully and recycled to limit dangerous vapors and the spread of mercury dust.

Submission + - Woman sues Best Buy $54M for missing Laptop 6

mikesd81 writes: "Endgadget has a blurb about a woman named Raelyn Campbell who's had enough with Best Buy. She's opening up a big can of America Sauce on the retailer in the form of a $54m lawsuit after it lost her laptop during warranty service. Campbell says she bought a laptop and $300 extended warranty from Best Buy in 2006, and took the machine in for service when the power switch broke last May. After getting a run around, she learned the laptop was missing. Best Buy offered for losing a $1,100 machine with all her data on it was a $900 gift card. After learning about potential identity theft, Campbell filed the multi-million dollar law suit. She admits, however, she doesn't expect that much money. She only sued for that much money to gain attention of the media."
GNU is Not Unix

Author of ATSC Capture and Edit Tool Tries to Revoke GPL 472

The author of ATSC capture and edit tool has announced that he is attempting to revoke the licensing of his product under the GPL General Public License. Unfortunately it appears that the GPL does not allow this particular action. Of course in this heyday of lawyers and trigger happy litigators who can tell. What successes have others had in trying to take something they once operated under the GPL and make it private? And the more pressing question, why?

IBM Responds to Overtime Lawsuits With 15% Salary Cut 620

bcmbyte writes "IBM in recent months has been hit with lawsuits filed on behalf of thousands of U.S. employees who claim the company illegally classified them as exempt from federal and state overtime statutes in order to avoid paying them extra whenever they worked more than 40 hours per week. The good news for those workers is that IBM now plans to grant them so-called "non-exempt" status so they can collect overtime pay. The bad news: IBM will cut their base salaries by 15% to make up the difference."
It's funny.  Laugh.

Submission + - ACLU: Ohio voting switch may be illegal

phorest writes: Oh the irony! Lawmakers decide to go one way, then the new ones take over and the fun begins! With so many decidedly against electronics in our elections, who would've thought the ACLU is looking to potentially sue the state of Ohio for switching away from Diebold touch-screen voting terminals.

CLEVELAND — The American Civil Liberties Union urged the elections board in the state's most populous county on Thursday not to make a switch to a new voting system for the state's March presidential primary, warning that the move could violate state law.

It appears to me that we'll never again get in our beds after the sweet feeling of democratic voting as when we awake from our slumber, the elections will be tainted from any lame excuse available. Go ACLU!

Feed Techdirt: Hollywood's Worried About The Wrong Thing When It Comes To Digital Archives (techdirt.com)

Is it really any kind of surprise that Hollywood is worried about the wrong thing? The NY Times ran an interesting article this past weekend about how Hollywood is starting to freak out over the potential costs of digitally archiving movies. Currently, film archives are simply stored in cool places, like salt mines -- but Hollywood doesn't quite know what to do with digital archives, and a new reports has them freaking out about just how expensive it will be to store digital content. There are many reasons why this worry is misplaced -- starting with the simple fact that whatever it costs today is only getting cheaper, and that trend is only going to continue for the foreseeable future. However, we've talked about the risks of digital archiving and "digital extinction" before, and the threat is completely overblown and often misplaced.

The problem isn't with what it costs to store content. Storage is cheap and getting cheaper all the time. The real problem is that those doing the archiving keep wanting to put their content into proprietary formats which will rapidly go extinct. If, instead, Hollywood focused on storing (and making many, many copies) of the content in more open, easily accessible formats, this wouldn't be a problem at all. Hell, I'm sure the experts over at the Internet Archive, Google or Amazon would all be thrilled to help Hollywood preserve its digital films. However, since Hollywood is so freaked out by technology these days, the chances of them letting any of those organizations help out (even a not-for-profit one like the Internet Archive) seems slim to none.

In the meantime, why not get creative? How hard would it be to create a system that would build a p2p storage system for Hollywood archives, where lots of folks could store bits and pieces of movies for the studios in exchange for... say... a free sneak preview of an upcoming blockbuster? It's the sort of thing that the community would love to take part in... but, of course, in MPAA land anything P2P must be evil.

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Feed Techdirt: Student Films Principal Fighting Another Student... School Board Bans Mobile Pho (techdirt.com)

A few years ago, we wrote a story about some students filming a teacher's angry outburst in a classroom and putting that film up on the web. Rather than disciplining the teacher for the outburst, the school disciplined the students and banned mobile phones. The lesson? It's okay for teachers to act inappropriately. It's not okay for students to reveal that behavior. It seems other schools want to teach that same lesson. The Agitator points us to another school that has banned mobile phones in school after a student filmed the principal in a physical fight with another student. At least in this case, the principal was put on leave. No matter what you think concerning mobile phones in schools, it seems pretty clear that this change in policy was brought about because of the principal getting filmed. If anything, that should be a reason to encourage more students to have mobile phones -- so that they can expose inappropriate behavior. Apparently, the school board believes its better to just pretend inappropriate behavior doesn't exist rather than to document it.

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Feed Techdirt: The Real Cost Of Copyright Extension In Korea: $170 Million (techdirt.com)

Earlier this year, we pointed out how ridiculous it was that the US was forcing South Korea to extend the length of copyright in the name of free trade agreements. After all, copyright is the opposite of free trade -- it's about monopoly protectionism, and that's very costly. Now we actually have an idea of just how costly. William Patry writes about the history of copyright extension, highlighting how it's really just a game of leapfrog, where Big Copyright holders use the differences in copyright law to continually extend it out further and further -- completely going against the purpose of copyright law. However, the real key to Patry's writeup is to point to a report from South Korea talking about just how much damage copyright extension is doing to local publishers. That's quite a statement, since copyright extension supporters always talk about how it's designed to help publishers. Not so. Publishers are complaining that the new rules will limit how many books they can publish, and the government is being forced to hand over approximately $170 million to keep the publishers happy. So, for all the talk of how copyright extension is necessary to protect the publishing industry, in South Korea, it seems to be costing taxpayers at least $170 million -- while making sure that fewer books are published. How is that possibly aligned with the stated purpose of copyright to encourage more content creation?

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Thus mathematics may be defined as the subject in which we never know what we are talking about, nor whether what we are saying is true. -- Bertrand Russell