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Journal Journal: Nobody buying Windows OLPC.

Many Slashdotters will remember that almost exactly a year ago, Nicholas Negroponte's One Laptop Per Child announced a deal with Microsoft to test thousands of XO laptops running Windows XP. It was a tough time for OLPC, with multiple resignations of senior people and facing a rocky relationship with Intel. Arguably, the project has never really recovered, despite unveiling the promising-looking XO-2.

So after all the effort and cost, how well in the Windows XO selling?

It isn't. According to One Laptop Per Child News, countries that test both versions of the XO are choosing Sugar over Windows XP for their deployments.

Initially country representatives inquire if Windows XP runs on the XO laptop. That doesn't really come as a surprise - for many people Windows is the definition of a computer. However, upon further investigation every country decided to stick to Sugar.

Of course, even though the open source option is finally being revealed as the desktop of choice, it can't be called a win for OLPC. They have wasted a lot of effort making the XO BIOS XP-capable, and lost many very capable contributors as a result their departure from "the culture of learning that OLPC adheres to and promotes, a culture of open inquiry, diverse cooperative work".

The Internet

Journal Journal: Mozilla helps modernise IE 3

Ars Technica is reporting that Mozilla developers are trialling a new plugin that adapts Mozilla's implementation of the HTML5 Canvas element for Microsoft's Internet Explorer.

Canvas is used many popular web applications but it hasn't gained widespread use because it isn't available in Internet Explorer. Despite this shortcoming, web developers have begun to find workarounds to allow equivalent functionality for IE users. Google had to develop ExCanvas to make their Maps available to IE users, for example. ExCanvas works around the limitations of IE by re-implementing much of Canvas' features using VML, Microsoft's proprietary version of SVG. Mozilla's plugin will make it unnecessary for future web developers to create their own libraries.

Mozilla also has plans to develop a plugin called Screaming Monkey, which will allow IE to use Mozilla's JavaScript engine directly, meaning developers can code to web standards, not IE's proprietary "quirks".

It appears that even if Microsoft can't or won't make Internet Explorer a modern web browser, the computer industry is finding workarounds.


Journal Journal: Google sued for US$1 billion over Outlook migration tool.

A two-count lawsuit filed by Chicago company LimitNone alleges that Google misappropriated trade secrets and violated Illinois' consumer fraud laws when it developed "Google Email Uploader" which competes with LimitNone's "gMove" application.

Google claims its core philosophy is 'Don't be evil' but, simply put, they invited us to work with them, to trust them -- and then stole our technology,

said Ray Glassman, CEO of LimitNone, in a prepared statement.

The lawsuit was filed by Kelley Drye & Warren LLP, the same commercial litigation group who challenged Google over company's online advertising system.


Journal Journal: Safari flaw could allow remote code execution on Windows

Microsoft is warning that the flaw in Apple's Safari browser which we discussed here can be used to run malicious code on client computers.

Security researcher Aviv Raff used an existing flaw in Microsoft's internet explorer in the exploit, which was demonstrated to tech journalists.

IDG News Service tested Raff's demonstration attack code, which runs Windows Calculator on a victim's system. For the attack to work, a victim must first visit a maliciously crafted Web page with the Safari browser, which in turn will trigger the carpet bombing attack and exploit the IE flaw.

The flaw, which was originally reported the IE flaw to Microsoft more than a year ago, is rated as a moderate vulnerability, as is that of Safari. When combined however, they produce a critical flaw which allows remote code execution.


Journal Journal: SPB makes Windows Mobile work.

In news that will be a great relief to the many smart phone users who have struggled with the foibles of Windows Mobile, software house Spb has showcased its iPhone-like Mobile Shell at Australia's CeBIT tech conference this week.

The new shell, which overlays Microsoft's drab offering, is targeted at carriers, and Spb will happily customise the software to "strictly adhere to, and enhance, a carrier's unique identity and brand"

ITWire, who carried the story, asked the question "Why isn't Microsoft doing this?" What does Slashdot think?


Journal Journal: Vista DRM actually works.

The Electronic Frontier Foundation is investigating an incident when Microsoft Vista Media Center computers blocked the recording of some NBC television shows.

When Vista Media Center users tried to record American Gladiator or Medium, a prompt informed them that the copyright holder prohibited recording. It seems that Vista has honoured NBC Universal's broadcast flag, despite a court ruling that software and hardware makers are not required to do so.

It remains to be seen whether this is an example of Vista being defective by design, or implementation.


Journal Journal: Living leather jacket is killed.

Victimless Leather, a small jacket made from mouse stem cells was killed when it outgrew its life support system. It was made to be one of the central works in an exhibition "Design and the Elastic Mind" at the Museum of Modern Art in New York

The jacket, a creation of Australian artists Oron Catts and Ionat Zurr, was intended to raise questions about our exploitation of other living beings.

The exhibition includes a number of exhibits examining the ways people interact with technology.

Desktops (Apple)

Journal Journal: OpenMac: A high-end Mac for a quarter of the price?

The OpenMac is a whitebox computer built to run an unmodified OS X Leopard kernel. Made by the Psystar Corporation, it would be substantially cheaper than any upgrade-capable Apple Mac.

The base model OpenMac with Intel GMA graphics sells for $399. It remains to be seen how long Psystar survive under the onslaught of Apple's legal team.

Update: The Psystar site is already down. Google cache here


Journal Journal: The "Free Public WiFi" problem.

Have you ever been at an airport or hotel and clicked on a "Free Public WiFi" SSID?

If so, you were likely disappointed to find the connection didn't give you free access to the internet. You might also be surprised to know you're now part of an increasing viral phenomenom caused by Microsoft's Wireless Zero Configuration tool.

In a very strange design decision, Microsoft structured the tool so when Windows connects to a wireless network, it retains the network's SSID, and if the original network is no longer available, broadcasts it as an ad hoc network. The result is the beguiling, but ultimately frustrating invitation so many computer users are now experiencing.


Journal Journal: Legal counsel: "Don't trust OOXML patent pledge"

A legal analysis of Microsoft's Open Specification Promise (OSP), which was purportedly written to give developers protection from patent risk, says the promise should not be trusted. According to the Software Freedom Law Center,

While technically an irrevocable promise, in practice the OSP is good only for today.

On the back of a chaotic ISO meeting to resolve outstanding specification problems which was described as "Complete, utter, unadulterated bullshit. This was horrible, egregious, process abuse and ISO should hang their heads in shame for allowing it to happen." by Tim Bray, this advice throws more doubt on OOXML's suitability as an international document standard.

Despite these considerable doubts, countries like Australia and New Zealand have not committed their votes, and it's still not clear how the race will run at the March 29 deadline.


Journal Journal: Microsoft's new generation

The finalists in Microsoft's Next-Gen PC Design Showcase have been announced.

As is usual with design competitions, practicality is not high on the list of requirements, though one of the key selection criteria is;

Windows Software: How does this design enhance or expand the users experience with Windows?

Entries of note include;

Sadly, there's no indication whether the Momenta "enhances the users experience with Windows" by detonating a charge of C4 if WGA decides their collar hasn't been activated recently.

Although the finalists have been chosen, Public's Choice Voting is open until March 15th 2008, so interested Slashdotters can vote for their favourite future PCs. Please try not to elect Skynet.


Journal Journal: Low cost Linux laptops leading the charge.

The world's third largest computer seller said today that it will offer a new, low-cost laptop similar to Asus' Eee PC. The American manufacturer Everex is already producing the Cloudbook Linux compact notebook for retail giant Walmart.

Acer had previously said it would not compete in this field, but changed its mind following Asus' success.

"I believe it's necessary for the company and they cannot let go of such an opportunity since it's where the industry trend is going," said Daiwa Institute of Research analyst Calvin Huang.

The combination of compact hardware matched to lightweight but functional Linux software seems to be hitting a sweet spot with customers. Asus says it intends to sell five million Eee PCs this year, while Acer has ordered an initial one million compact notebooks from a contract manufacturer.

While has a very different focus from these mini-notebooks, it looks like Nicholas Negroponte's development of the XO has opened up an entire new market, one which will make his dream of a sub $200 laptop even more ubiquitous than he intended.


Journal Journal: Sorry.

"Today we honour the Indigenous peoples of this land, the oldest continuing cultures in human history.

We reflect on their past mistreatment.

We reflect in particular on the mistreatment of those who were stolen generations - this blemished chapter in our nation's history.

The time has now come for the nation to turn a new page in Australia's history by righting the wrongs of the past and so moving forward with confidence to the future.

We apologise for the laws and policies of successive Parliaments and governments that have inflicted profound grief, suffering and loss on these our fellow Australians.

We apologise especially for the removal of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children from their families, their communities and their country. For the pain, suffering and hurt of these stolen generations, their descendants and for their families left behind, we say sorry.

To the mothers and the fathers, the brothers and the sisters, for the breaking up of families and communities, we say sorry.

And for the indignity and degradation thus inflicted on a proud people and a proud culture, we say sorry.

We the Parliament of Australia respectfully request that this apology be received in the spirit in which it is offered as part of the healing of the nation.

For the future we take heart; resolving that this new page in the history of our great continent can now be written.

We today take this first step by acknowledging the past and laying claim to a future that embraces all Australians.

A future where this Parliament resolves that the injustices of the past must never, never happen again.

A future where we harness the determination of all Australians, Indigenous and non-Indigenous, to close the gap that lies between us in life expectancy, educational achievement and economic opportunity.

A future where we embrace the possibility of new solutions to enduring problems where old approaches have failed.

A future based on mutual respect, mutual resolve and mutual responsibility.

A future where all Australians, whatever their origins, are truly equal partners, with equal opportunities and with an equal stake in shaping the next chapter in the history of this great country, Australia."

Prime Minister of Australia
Kevin Rudd


Journal Journal: Open source developers have more sex and earn more money.

Australian open source developers typically earn triple the national median salary and are likely to be in a relationship, according to an Australian Open Source Industry and Community census.

The self-selected online survey suggests 57 percent were hobbyists who don't get paid to work on open source, 24 percent were working on open source in their paid job part of the time, while 10 percent worked on open source full time. Interestingly, the highest paid group was those working full time on open source projects.


Journal Journal: Norway Mandates ODF

In another step towards universal free and open electronic documents, the Norwegian government has mandated the use of open document formats from January 1st, 2009.

Three formats have been chosen for all documentation between authorities and users/partners:

  • HTML for all public information on the Web.
  • PDF for all documents where layout needs to be preserved.
  • ODF for all documents that the recipient is supposed to be able to edit

While government offices may publish in other formats, they must always also publish in one of these formats, so information will be available to people who do not wish, or cannot afford to use expensive proprietary software.

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