Tuesday, December 21, 2010

NETWORK - Internet Access, NET Neutrality

"F.C.C. Is Set to Regulate Net Access" by BRIAN STELTER, New York Times 12/20/2010


The Federal Communications Commission appears poised to pass a controversial set of rules that broadly create two classes of Internet access, one for fixed-line providers and the other for the wireless Net.

The proposed rules of the online road would prevent fixed-line broadband providers like Comcast and Qwest from blocking access to sites and applications. The rules, however, would allow wireless companies more latitude in putting limits on access to services and applications.

Before a vote set for Tuesday, two Democratic commissioners said Monday that they would back the rules proposed by the F.C.C. chairman, Julius Genachowski, which try to satisfy both sides in the protracted debate over so-called network neutrality. But analysts said the debate would soon resume in the courts, as challenges to the rules are expected in the months to come.

Net neutrality, broadly speaking, is an effort to ensure equal access to Web sites and cutting-edge online services. Mr. Genachowski said these proposed rules aimed to both encourage Internet innovation and protect consumers from abuses.

“These rules fulfill a promise to the future — to companies that don’t yet exist, and the entrepreneurs that haven’t yet started work in their dorm rooms or garages,” Mr. Genachowski said in remarks prepared for the commission’s meeting on Tuesday in Washington. At present, there are no enforceable rules “to protect basic Internet values,” he added.

Many Internet providers, developers and venture capitalists have indicated that they would accept the proposal by Mr. Genachowski, which Rebecca Arbogast, a regulatory analyst for Stifel Nicolaus, a financial services firm, said “is by definition a compromise.”


"F.C.C. Approves Net Rules and Braces for Fight" by BRIAN STELTER, New York Times 12/21/2010


Want to watch hours of YouTube videos or sort through Facebook photos on the computer? Your Internet providers would be forbidden from blocking you under rules approved by the Federal Communications Commission on Tuesday. But if you want to do the same on your cellphone, you may not have the same protections.

The debate over the rules, intended to preserve open access to the Internet, seems to have resulted in a classic Washington solution — the kind that pleases no one on either side of the issue. Verizon and other service providers would prefer no government involvement. Public interest advocates think the rules stop far short of ensuring free speech.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

WINDOWS - Fix-It Solution Center

Due to a problem on my home system I was reminded of a site for fixing Windows problems.

Microsoft Fix it Solution Center

(click for better view)

For example, what I used to fix my problem was the top option (screenshot):
Diagnose and repair Windows File and Folder Problems automatically

The downloaded file installed PowerShell and ran the tool. I selected Other from the checkbox list and continued. The tool found that my Recycle Bin was corrupted (my problem) AND fixed it. Then I rebooted.

Have a Windows problem? Try it.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

COMPUTERS - Air Force Supercomputer

"Air Force Uses PS3 Game Consoles to Build Supercomputer" by Brian Kalish, NextGov 12/16/2010

Video game consoles are now more than just for fun. An Air Force supercomputer, built from off-the-shelf components, includes 1,716 PlayStation 3 game consoles.

The machine, known as the Condor Cluster, is estimated to be one of the greenest computers in the world. And if that wasn't enough, it also is the 35th or 36th fastest computer in the world, said Mark Barnell, director of high performance computing and the Condor Cluster project at the Air Force Research Laboratory, reported Government Computer News.

One of the main reasons to use PS3 processors was cost. Condor cost about $2 million to build, compared to $50 million to $80 million for a similar supercomputer, the Air Force said in a news release.

The computer also can read 20 pages of information per second, which makes it about 50,000 times faster than the average laptop, CNET reported.

Initial tasks for the machine, located in Rome, N.Y., include neuromorphic artificial intelligence research, in which programmers will teach the computer to read symbols, letters, words and sentences so it can fill in human gaps and correct human errors, CNET reported.

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

SECURITY - User's Bad Habits

"Gawker Hacking Exposes Some Web Users' Bad Password Habits"
PBS Newshour 12/13/2010

Excerpts from transcript

JEFFREY BROWN (Newshour): All right, we talk about this group called Gnosis. How much do we know about what -- who they are? And what did they do to Gawker?

HARI SREENIVASAN, staff writer, Wired.com: Well, a lot of these sort of hacker groups are very shadowy in nature, in the sense that they -- there's no card-carrying membership that says, I'm part of this club. I'm the one who did this, and here is my address and phone number.

So, really, what they did to Gawker was come in behind the scenes in the past few weeks, past few months, figure out vulnerabilities, and essentially start to take the keys to the kingdom. Everything that Gawker held dear, most important, the user information, they took all of that out and splayed it out across the Internet.

They didn't hide the information for themselves for some sort of kind of nefarious means. They said, here, take it, because this is really -- they're the crown jewels for a website.
JEFFREY BROWN: Now, how are those people affected, in what ways?

HARI SREENIVASAN: Well, so, the thing -- it kind of gets back to a little bit of social engineering.

So a lot of times people don't make separate passwords and separate usernames for different websites. Sometimes, they use the same website or same e-mail address that I have for work on to a site like Gawker, and then maybe that's the same password that gets me into Facebook, and then it's also connected to Twitter.

So, as we see all of these different kind of communities that we participate in during the day, people aren't very good at keeping these walls separate. So, that's where the real influence is.

Bold-blue emphasis mine

Thursday, December 9, 2010

SOFTWARE - More on Open Office

"The Legacy of OpenOffice.org" from Open Source 11/7/2010

When I hear the word “fork”, I reach for my gun. OK. Maybe it is not that bad. But in the open source world, “fork” is a loaded term. It can, of course, be an expression of a basic open source freedom. But it can also represent “fighting words”. It is like the way we use the term “regime” for a government we don’t like, or “cult” for a religion we disapprove of. Calling something a “fork” is rarely intended as a compliment.

So I’ll avoid the term “fork” for the remainder of this post and instead talk about the legacy of one notable open source project, OpenOffice.org, which has over the last decade spawned numerous derivative products, some open source, some proprietary, some which fully coordinate with the main project, others which have diverged, some which have prospered and endured for many years, others which did not, some which tried to offer more than OpenOffice, and others which attempted, intentionally, to offer less, some which changed the core code and other which simply added extensions.

If one just read the headlines over the past month one would get the mistaken notion that LibreOffice was the first attempt to take the OpenOffice.org open source code and make a different product from it, or even a separate open source project. This is far from true. There have been many spin-off products/projects, including:
  • StarOffice (with a history that goes back even further, pre-Sun, to StarDivision)

  • Symphony

  • EuroOffice

  • RedOffice

  • NeoOffice

  • PlusOffice

  • OxygenOffice

  • PlusOffice

  • Go-OO

  • Portable OpenOffice

  • and, of course, LibreOffice
I’ve tracked down some dates of various releases of these projects and placed them on a time line above. (see full article)

So before we ring the death knell for OpenOffice, let’s recognized the potency of this code base, in terms of its ability to spawn new projects. LibreOffice is the latest, but likely not the last example we will see. This is a market where “one size fits all” does not ring true. I’d expect to see different variations on these editors, just as there are different kinds of users, and different markets which use these kinds of tools. Whether you call it a “distribution” or a “fork”, I really don’t care. But I do believe that the only kind of open source project that does not spawn off additional projects like this is a dead project.

Minor edit of list mine

Thursday, December 2, 2010

SECURITY - FTC Changes Stance on Internet Privacy

"F.T.C. Backs Plan to Honor Privacy of Online Users" by EDWARD WYATT and TANZINA VEGA, New York Times 12/1/2010


Signaling a sea change in the debate over Internet privacy, the government’s top consumer protection agency on Wednesday advocated a plan that would let consumers choose whether they want their Internet browsing and buying habits monitored.

Saying that online companies have failed to protect the privacy of Internet users, the Federal Trade Commission recommended a broad framework for commercial use of Web consumer data, including a simple and universal “do not track” mechanism that would essentially give consumers the type of control they gained over marketers with the national “do not call” registry.

Those measures, if widely used, could directly affect the billions of dollars in business done by online advertising companies and by technology giants like Google that collect highly focused information about consumers that can be used to deliver personalized advertising to them.

While the report is critical of many current industry practices, the commission will probably need the help of Congress to enact some of its recommendations. For now, the trade commission hopes to adopt an approach that it calls “privacy by design,” where companies are required to build protections into their everyday business practices.