Tuesday, October 30, 2012

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Ubuntu 12.10 can help you avoid the pain of Windows 8 !

Takeaway: Ubuntu’s powerful and new slogan, “Avoid the pain of Windows 8,” was retracted for a generic, watered-down tagline. Jack Wallen thinks it was a mistake to retract it. Here’s why.
We all know that Ubuntu 12.10 was released last week. Some of you might also know, the original slogan for Ubuntu 12.10 was:
Avoid the pain of Windows 8!
That slogan, from many a perspective (including yours truly) was dead on. With the release of Windows 8 already behind us, we’re already seeing the backlash and complaints of Windows 8 users. So for all intents and purposes — that slogan was one the Linux and open source community not only needed, but deserved.
And then… Ubuntu retracted and replaced the powerful sentence with:
Your wish is our command.

read the full article http://www.techrepublic.com/blog/opensource/ubuntu-1210-can-help-you-avoid-the-pain-of-windows-8-regardless-of-the-retraction/3945?tag=nl.e011&s_cid=e011 

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Your group membership has been activated

Welcome. You are now in the "Press Info" group. Unless you weren't expecting this message, you don't need to do anything. If you didn't expect this message, email us at info@fsf.org and we'll help you out.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Rare photos: gnu crashes Windows 8 launch

Happy (almost) Halloween, everybody,
You've probably been noticing Microsoft's ads for their new operating system -- after all, they've spent more money on them than any other software launch campaign in history. In fact, everything about the campaign has been meticulously planned and optimized, so you can imagine journalists' surprise when an unexpected guest showed up at an invite-only launch event on Thursday.

Our volunteer, Tristan Chambers, was there and caught the whole thing on camera! Pictures here: http://www.fsf.org/blogs/community/gnus-trick-or-treat-at-windows-8-launch.
Reporters and security guards at the event weren't sure how to react when they were greeted by a real, live gnu. The gnu -- which, on closer inspection, was an activist in a gnu suit -- had come for some early trick-or-treating. But instead of candy, she had free software for the eager journalists. The gnu and the FSF campaigns team handed out dozens of copies of Trisquel, a fully free GNU/Linux distribution, along with press releases and stickers. Once they got over their confusion, the reporters were happy to see us and hear our message -- that Windows 8 is a downgrade, not an upgrade, because it steals users' freedom, security and privacy.
Free software operating systems are the real upgrade, and they don't need a zillion-dollar launch event to prove it. To show Microsoft that their ads won't change our minds, we're starting an upgrade pledge: switch to a free OS, or if you're already using one, help a friend switch. We can pay Microsoft a chunk of change for their new, proprietary OS, or we can stand up for our freedom. The choice isn't as hard as Microsoft wants you to think.
Sign the pledge now! -- http://www.fsf.org/windows8/pledge

Friday, October 26, 2012

An open business process modeling (BOS)

OSLM testing this new BPM open sourced productfor it followers.

take a try .. and let us comment our experience:

Download BPM Software And Documentation

Bonita Open Solution (BOS) is a complete Open Source BPM Solution. See the full list of components and documentation packages available to download for the latest versions
IMPORTANT NOTE: You will need Java Runtime Environment (JRE) version 1.6. You can also use a Java Development Kit (JDK) version 1.6.
Bonita Open Solution is not compatible with version 1.7 of the JRE or JDK: you must have version 1.6 installed. If you have multiple versions of the JRE or JDK installed, you must configure Bonita Studio after installation to use version 1.6.  For more information about how to install and configure BOS with JRE 1.6, see the online documentation .
Licensed under GNU General Public License v2.

Activists trick-or-treat for free software at Windows 8 launch event

by Zak Rogoff — Published on Oct 25, 2012 12:29 PM
New York, New York, USA -- Thursday, October 25th, 2012 -- Today visitors to the primary Windows 8 launch event were greeted by an unexpected and uninvited visitor -- a gnu. Activists, one dressed as the free software movement's buffalo-like mascot, converged on Microsoft's event to distribute pamphlets about the hidden dangers of Microsoft's latest proprietary creation. The Halloween-themed action included plastic pumpkin buckets full of DVDs loaded with Trisquel, a free software distribution of the GNU/Linux operating system.
Standing with the gnu, Libby Reinish, FSF campaigns manager, explained why it was necessary to make Windows 8's restrictions on freedom a big part of the conversation around the operating system: "Microsoft has already spent almost two billion dollars on slick advertisements to convince people that Windows 8 will revolutionize the way they use computers. The fact is, it's basically Windows 7 with new surveillance 'features' and even more restrictions on users' freedom. Whether or not Microsoft wants you to know it, it's easy to switch to free software instead of choosing a downgrade to your rights as a computer user -- for example, your rights to know what the system is doing and to change behaviors you don't like. We're here because we want people to know that they don't have to buy Windows 8 -- this is a great time to upgrade to free 'as in freedom' software."
Today's action is the beginning of a new FSF campaign around Windows 8, which will track the proprietary operating system over the coming months and continue to cut through the marketing hype to explain the problems with the OS. The FSF plans to launch a Web site with a full-scale campaign, including grassroots participation, and future physical and online actions. The initial home of the campaign ishttp://www.fsf.org/windows8, where visitors are invited to sign an online pledge to skip Windows 8 and upgrade their computers to a free software operating system.
FSF executive director John Sullivan discussed his plans for the campaign: "There's been plenty of talk in the media about whether Windows 8 will be annoying because it has no 'Start' button or because its Internet desktop will make it slow and glitchy. The deeper problem is that it is restrictive and damaging to your freedom as a computer user. We will make sure that, no matter what Microsoft's advertising is focused on, computer users still have a chance to learn about the fundamental issues with proprietary operating systems, and about the path to something better."
The campaign comes at a time when SOPA/PIPA and CISPA have thrust Internet freedom issues into the spotlight. The FSF applauds this focus on computer users' rights, but believes it also requires a focus on free operating systems. Even when Web sites do not restrict and spy on their users, operating systems increasingly do. A truly free Internet, they say, cannot exist unless it is accessed with a free operating system.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

The implications of LightWorks coming to Linux

By Jack WallenOctober 22, 2012, 8:03 AM PDT

Monday, October 22, 2012

New site for the free libre open source lebanese movement

A new domain and site for the oslm, soon the movement will become an lebanese association and will be named lelibre, visit http://www.lelibre.org. our slogan: Le Libre is Open and Free

Friday, October 19, 2012

Nominate your free software heroes by November 15th

The nomination window for the 15th annual Free Software Awards is now open. Now is your chance to show some love for your favorite free software hero or an inspiring project that uses free software or free software principles to benefit humanity.

Don't delay; nominations are due on November 15th. To nominate an individual for the Award for the Advancement of Free Software or a project for the Award for Projects of Social Benefit, send your nomination along with a description of the project or individual to award-nominations@gnu.org.

The free software movement is powered by dedicated individuals and has fostered many incredible projects that are making a difference in the world with the help of free software tools and principles. You can read more about the awards and past winners in our official announcement.

What are you waiting for? Take a few minutes to give props to people and projects that inspire you. Your nominations will be reviewed by our awards committee and the winners will be announced at LibrePlanet 2013.

So check out our submission guidelines and get those nominations in to award-nominations@gnu.org by November 15th. The FSF staff and awards committee look forward to reading your submissions.

Libby Reinish
Campaigns Manager, Free Software Foundation

PS. Help us spread the word about the 15th Annual Free Software Awards by sharing our official announcement on identi.ca and forwarding this note to your friends.

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INDUSTRY NEWS by thenews acm

Climate Change Research Gets Petascale Supercomputer
Computerworld (10/16/12) Patrick Thibodeau

The U.S. National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) recently began using Yellowstone, a 1.5 petaflop IBM system that is currently one of the top 20 supercomputers in the world.  The system also is the most powerful supercomputer dedicated to geosciences, according to NCAR-Wyoming Supercomputer Center researchers.  Yellowstone will be used on several geoscience research issues, including climate change, severe weather, oceanography, air quality, geomagnetic storms, earthquakes, tsunamis, wildfires, subsurface water, and energy resources.  Yellowstone enables researchers to run more experiments with increased complexity and at a higher resolution.  Marika Holland, whose research focuses on how climate change is affecting the polar region, says less-powerful systems are running models at "more of an approximation than we would like."  She says the higher resolutions afforded by the new system will let researchers explicitly examine the influence of storms on Arctic Sea ice, along with ice reductions along the coast and coastal erosion.  Yellowstone represents an approximately 30-fold improvement over NCAR's existing 77 teraflop supercomputer.

Paging Dr. Watson: Artificial Intelligence as a Prescription for Health Care
Wired (10/12) Brandon Keim

IBM wants to use its Watson supercomputer to revolutionize the medical research field.  IBM thinks Watson could analyze the world's medical knowledge in microseconds, and use the information to advise doctors.  Experts put misdiagnosis rates at about 10 percent, a number that varies depending on the condition, but in some cases goes much higher.  Watson could help prevent those mistakes, according to IBM researchers.  Watson's database could be constantly updated with the latest medical knowledge, bringing to every doctor insights that often take years to filter out of academia.  IBM has recently forged partnerships with WellPoint and the Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and is expected offer Watson commercially to hospitals within the next few years.  Children's Hospital Boston physician Susan Saleeb helped develop the Standardized Clinical Assessment and Management Plans, which analyze patient information and recommend treatments via a specialized algorithm, which could be utilized by Watson.  "The Watson system seems like it would be ideal for data analysis and hypothesis testing," Saleeb says.  Additionally, Watson could free doctors to focus on relationships, according to University of Pittsburgh Medical Center chief medical and scientific officer Steve Shapiro.

Should High Schools Teach Big Data?
InformationWeek (10/16/12) Ellis Booker

TechAmerica Foundation's Big Data Commission aims to prepare the United States for future high-tech jobs, especially those focused around data.  Analytics and data science are central to making "business, the global economy, and our society work better," says Big Data Commission co-chair Steve Mills.  The commission's recent report, "Demystifying Big Data:  A Practical Guide to Transforming the Business of Government," emphasized strengthening and expanding public-private partnerships to invest in skills-building initiatives for the federal workforce in the area of big data.  Some experts want to expand these initiatives into the high school curriculum.  TerraEchos founder and CTO Alex Philp has been working with the high schools in Missoula, Mont., to create a scholarship program that introduces big data topics to computer science students.  "Ultimately, I hope these high school students feed into opportunities at the University of Montana and then ultimately into the most exciting businesses and markets involving big data," Philp says.  Other programs, such as IBM's Innovation summer camp, allow students to gain hands-on experience in a variety of high-tech fields.

Computer Viruses Are 'Rampant' on Medical Devices in Hospitals
Technology Review (10/17/12) David Talbot

The National Institute of Standards and Technology's Information Security & Privacy Advisory Board has found that computerized hospital equipment is increasingly vulnerable to malware infections.  Additionally, as software-controlled medical equipment has become more interconnected in recent years, often running on variants of Windows, it also has become a common target for hackers.  The problem is compounded by the fact that many manufacturers refuse to modify their equipment, even to add security features.  "Conventional malware is rampant in hospitals because of medical devices using unpatched operating systems," says University of Michigan researcher and panel member Kevin Fu.  Often the malware is associated with botnets, and once it lodges inside a computer, it tries to contact command-and-control servers for instructions, according to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center's Mark Olson.  However, malware problems on hospital devices are rarely reported to state or federal regulators because hospitals believe there is little recourse, according to Olson and Fu.  "Many CTOs are not aware of how to protect their own products with restrictive firewalls," says Beth Israel CIO John Halamka.

Image Analysis May Allow Pathologists to Expedite Diagnoses
Penn State Live (10/16/12) Curtis Chan

Pennsylvania State University researchers are using image recognition technology to develop an automated method of classifying histopathological images.  "The idea is if you have a collection of images, can you automatically put them in categories?" asks professor Vishal Monga.  He notes that of particular interest was that veterinarians with the university's Animal Diagnostic Laboratory (ADL) were capturing histopathological images of tissues.  ADL's five pathologists examine more than 10,000 slides over the course of a year, says ADL veterinary pathologist Art Hattel.  The time to adequately evaluate a slide can take between seven to 25 minutes, according to Hattel.  Graduate student Umamahesh Srinivas says Penn State electrical engineers designed tools to mimic how human pathologists classify tissue samples.  Once these tools were developed, researchers achieved 80 percent to 85 percent accuracy in automatically categorizing the tissue samples in three areas:  Healthy, inflammation, and necrosis, Monga says.  He says the software could undergo a training phase to learn what healthy and diseased tissues looks like, after which it would be capable of processing thousands of images in a second.  The researchers are now applying for larger grants to continue their effort to further develop the image recognition technology.

Robots That Perceive the World Like Humans
Basque Research (10/18/12)

UPV/EHU-University researchers are studying how to improve robot behavior by means of perception models that are closer to those of humans.  As part of the eSMCs project, the UPV/EHU researchers want to change the paradigm and generate more dynamic computer models in which action is not just a consequence of perception, but an integral part of the perception process.  "Our basic idea is that when we perceive, what is there is active exploration, a particular coordination with the surroundings, like a kind of invisible dance than makes vision possible," says UPV/EHU researcher Xabier Barandiaran.  The eSMCs project aims to apply this idea to the computer models used in robots, improve their behavior, and understand the nature of the human mind.  The eSMCs project researchers claim that actions play an important role in perception, as well as in the development of more complex cognitive capacities.  "Our main aim is to be able to define technical concepts like the sensorimotor habitat, or that of the pattern of sensorimotor coordination, as well as that of habit or of mental life as a whole," Barandiaran says.

Could Hackers Change Our Election Results?
Dark Reading (10/18/12) Ericka  Chickowski

Malicious hackers motivated by a desire to undermine the public's confidence in the nation's voting process could exploit both new and old vulnerabilities to carry out cyberattacks on electronic voting systems and databases containing voter information, security experts say.  States have generally failed to correct the vulnerabilities in their e-voting systems that security experts identified nearly a decade ago.  These vulnerabilities include weak encryption and poor authentication, as well as common security flaws such as buffer overflows and SQL injections.  Security researchers warn that hackers could break into e-voting databases such as those being used by Washington state and Maryland to change the addresses of certain voters in order to disenfranchise them.  If that happens and it is evident that the validity of an election has been compromised, it could undermine the public's confidence in the voting process, says RSA Conference program committee chairman Hugh Thompson.  However, Viewfinity CEO Leonid Shtilman says it would be difficult for hackers to change the results of elections by attacking voter databases and electronic voting systems, since information stored in databases is synced in several different locations and can be compared for missing or altered data.

Computer Science About to Get More Hip
Georgia Institute of Technology (10/13/12)

Georgia Tech's EarSketch is a project that teaches high school students how to write computer code to form musical remixes.  The project is now partnering with producer Gimel Keaton, who will work with faculty to create new audio content for the program.  "Atlanta high school students will have a chance to learn about computer science with help from one of the biggest producers in hip-hop," says Georgia Tech professor Brian Magerko.  EarSketch is funded by the National Science Foundation and seeks to spur interest in computer science careers among high school students.  The program is now in its second year and targets minorities and girls, but its approach is designed to appeal widely.  EarSketch uses the Python programming language and Cockos' Reaper, a digital audio workstation program similar to those used in recording studios.  "Young people don't always realize that computer science and programming can be fun," says Georgia Tech professor Jason Freeman, who oversees EarSketch with Magerko.  "Students are using EarSketch to remix samples and loops to express their own creative musical ideas as they learn computer science principles."

Women Use Emoticons More Than Men in Text Messaging :-)
Rice University (10/10/12) David Ruth

Rice University researchers have found that women are twice as likely as men to use emoticons in text messages.  The study used smartphone data taken from about 124,000 text messages from men and women over a six-month period.  The participants were given free iPhones to use for the test period, but were not told what the researchers were studying.  "We believe that our study represents the first naturalistic and longitudinal study that collects real emoticon use from text messages 'in the wild,'" says Rice professor Philip Kortum.  During the study, all of the participants used emoticons at least once, but just four percent of the total number of text messages examined contained an emoticon.  "Texting does not appear to require as much socio-emotional context as other means of nonverbal communications," Kortum notes.  The researchers also found that although women use emoticons more often than men, men use a wider variety of emoticons to express themselves.  During the experiment, 74 different emoticons were used but the top three emoticons, those used to symbolize happy, sad, and very happy, made up 70 percent of the total emoticons sent by the participants.

There's an App for That: College Students say Biden Won Debate
University of California, Davis (10/12/12) Karen Nikos

University of California (UC), Davis researchers have developed a smartphone application that can conduct real-time nationwide polls.  Recently, the application showed that 60 percent of college students thought that Joe Biden outperformed Paul Ryan in the vice presidential debate.  About 1,500 college students across the country participated in the poll, which allows users to click buttons that say "agree," "disagree," "dodge," or "spin" for every statement made during the debate.  The polling will continue for the remainder of the presidential debates.  "It's clear from their responses that they have strong opinions about the candidates in both directions and that they know when the candidates are spinning an issue or dodging a question," says UC Davis professor Amber Boydstun, who co-created the app.  Before the vice presidential debate, more than half of the app users said they were Democrats, and 31 percent said they were Republicans.  The poll participants included slightly more men than women, and over 60 percent of participants were white, 13 percent were Hispanic, 9 percent were African American, 9 percent were Asian, and 5 percent were "other."

Tackling the Tech Gender Gap by Teaching Girls to Code
WBEZ Chicago Public Radio (10/11/12) Tricia Bobeda

Across the country, only 12 percent of computer science majors are women, and while women make up more than half of the workforce, they only hold about 25 percent of technology jobs, according to the National Center for Women & Information Technology.  The barriers for women in technology start long before they reach the classroom or the workforce, according to Northside College Prep computer science teacher Don Yanek.  The drastic gender gap is a problem for both technology producers and consumers.  "I think if we want our technology to represent our society, then we need to have programmers, engineers, computer scientists in proportion to the number of men and women in our society," says American Association of University Women researcher Christianne Corbett.  Chicago Tech Academy co-founder and director Matt Hancock wants to help remove the stereotype that coding is just for nerdy white men.  The girls at the Academy are not fazed by the gender gap they will eventually face working in IT jobs.  The young women learning to code at the Academy have long-term goals, and see technology skills as a way to help achieve those goals.

The Internet of Things Will Transform Our Everyday
Technical Research Centre of Finland (10/17/12)

Technical Research Center of Finland (VTT) researchers have developed several ubiquitous computing technologies, such as situation awareness for portable devices, mixed and augmented reality, and interoperability solutions enabling devices made by different vendors to share information.  "VTT is developing [universal Identification] technology with our Japanese partner, the University of Tokyo," says VTT professor Heikki Ailisto.  He notes the technology helps makes possible the Internet of things (IoT) by enabling the identification and tracking of individual products, components, and food products.  IoT will connect 50 billion devices, machines, and objects.  Ailisto says universal identification and IoT will revolutionize technology and business, and VTT wants to create a technological operating environment to take advantage of this new paradigm.  VTT has been developing universal Identification applications and basic technology as part of the Open Smart Spaces (OPENS) program.  OPENS has helped develop the interoperability platform Smart M3, which enables different appliances and objects in a home to communicate with each other and share information.

Five Years of COMPETES
Computing Research Policy Blog (09/19/2012) Melissa Norr

The Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee recently held a hearing, entitled "Five Years of America COMPETES Act: Progress, Challenges, and Next Steps," that explored the successes of the past and necessary improvements required of the United States to remain the global leader in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) research and education in the future.  Former CRA Board chair Peter Lee talks about an innovation ecosystem that exists because of an intentional partnership between academia, private industry, and government.  Although the COMPETES Act has already been reauthorized once, there has still not been enough time to realize the full potential of the legislation, according to hearing chairman Jay Rockefeller.  The COMPETES Act is about jobs and the ability of Americans to compete for STEM jobs with the rest of the world, according to Rising Above the Gathering Storm report co-chair Norm Augustine.  Additionally, there is a need to change how students are educated in STEM.  Research shows that learning STEM fields is not a transfer of knowledge, but rather a development of the brain to think and learn in new ways, says University of Colorado Boulder professor Carl Weiman.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012



Panetta Warns of Dire Threat of Cyberattack on U.S.
New York Times (10/12/12) Elisabeth Bumiller
                ; Thom  Shanker

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta yesterday warned of the potential for disastrous consequences if an enemy of the U.S. were to carry out a cyberattack on the nation's critical infrastructure.  Panetta says the U.S.'s adversaries are becoming increasingly aggressive and are improving their technology, so much so that they could launch cyberattacks on vulnerable computer systems used to operate the power grid, transportation system, financial networks, and the government.  He says these attacks could result in the derailment of passenger trains carrying dangerous chemicals, the contamination of water supplies in major U.S. cities, or the failure of the nation's power grid.  Panetta says the most worrisome scenario is a cyberattack on critical infrastructure carried out in tandem with a physical attack, which would amount to a cyber-Pearl Harbor that would cause physical destruction and the loss of life, and could terrorize the populace to such an extent that it would create "a profound new sense of vulnerability."  However, Panetta says improved cyberdefenses alone will not prevent a cyberattack against the nation's critical infrastructure, which is why the Defense Department has developed the ability to conduct "effective operations" to mitigate threats to U.S. interests in cyberspace.

What Are Grand Technology and Scientific Challenges for the 21st Century?
Network World (10/10/12) Michael Cooney

The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) recently put out a public call for ideas that could form Grand Challenges, which are ambitious but achievable goals that would lead to substantial breakthroughs in science and technology.  Grand Challenges would have a major impact on fields such as health, energy, sustainability, education, economic opportunity, national security, and human exploration.  They also would help drive and harness innovation and advances in science and technology.  Other organizations also have called for challenges to promote science and technology innovation.  For example, X Prize recently announced its top list of eight key challenges that could become public competitions in the near future, which include a personal health monitoring system, brain-computer interfaces, wireless power transmission, and ultra-fast point-to-point travel.  In addition, the National Research Council recently highlighted five challenges that focus on new optics and photonics technologies and improving the energy grid.  OSTP deputy director Thomas Kalil also has highlighted several challenges and ideas, such as encouraging research universities to launch the Grand Challenge Scholars Program, which enables engineering students to organize their coursework, research, service, international studies, and experiential learning.

First Evidence for Iran's Parallel Halal Internet
New Scientist (10/10/12) Sara Reardon

Iranian officials have long discussed developing a religiously acceptable internal network, known as the "halal" Internet, which is isolated from the World Wide Web, and security researcher Collin Anderson recently found evidence that elements of this parallel Internet have already been created.  Anderson found that telecommunications companies in Iran allocate two Internet Protocol (IP) addresses to every machine that connects to the Internet.  One of the IP addresses is a conventional Web address, while the other one is only accessible from within the country.  The internal network can handle up to about 17 million IP addresses, and already has about 10,000 connected devices, including those in private homes, government buildings, and e-commerce sites.  The network also contains academic Web sites and email services.  Anderson speculates that the internal network will contain Iran-specific content and own-brand versions of popular services.  The government would then hold back connections to outside networks, making them unusably slow and forcing Iranian users onto the national network, Anderson suggests.  However, he notes Iranians will still be able to access the Internet through the anonymizing network Tor and virtual private networks.

DHS Urged to Create Reserve Cadre of Cyber Experts
NextGov.com (10/11/12) Aliya Sternstein

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) should develop a reserve army of cyberspecialists from across government and industry to address emergencies, according to a cyber skills task force report.  The report says the National Guard-like group of cyberexperts, called the CyberReserve, will ensure that capable professionals are ready in times of national crisis.  The report notes that the CyberReserve will be successful if DHS maintains current information on relevant former personnel now at other agencies and companies, as well as unaffiliated experts from government and industry.  Congress also has pushed for a formal cyber national guard, according to DHS deputy secretary Jane Holl Lute.  A 2002 law allowed Homeland Security to create a NET Guard comprising volunteer experts from across the country for cyberresponse.  Lute expects the department would look to Defense Department components and veterans organizations, as well as outside groups, for people with the necessary skills.  "Surge rosters do require active management," Lute says.  "It's not something where you type up a page and throw it in the drawer.  People's skills have to be current."

MIT's CSAIL Launches New Center to Tackle the Future of Wireless and Mobile Technologies
MIT News (10/11/12)

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's (MIT's) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory recently launched Wireless@MIT, an interdisciplinary center focused on developing next-generation wireless networks and mobile devices.  The center, which will tackle some of the most pressing issues facing the wireless and mobile-computing fields, will involve more than 50 MIT faculty members, research staff, and graduate students across various labs and academic departments, and will work with seven founding industry affiliates.  "The goal of our center is to push the frontiers of wireless research to their full potential, and to ensure that the industry that grows up around these new devices is able to work in innovative and productive ways," says MIT professor Hari Balakrishnan.  The center will focus on the constantly decreasing radio spectrum caused by booming wireless systems, finding ways to reduce power consumption and extend battery life on mobile devices, and developing new applications that accommodate mobility and network variability.  "The center aims to unleash a wide range of mobile uses that will change the way we live, work, and entertain," says MIT professor Dina Katabi.  The researchers currently are working on projects involving transportation, health care, education, collaboration, and environmental sustainability.

Digital Tabletop System With Views on Demand
Bristol University (10/09/12)

Scientists presented a tabletop system that supports mixed-focus collaborative tasks during the 25th ACM UIST 2012 symposium.  Personalized view-overlays for tabletops (PiVOT) uses two view zones to provide individual users with personalized views, while presenting an unaffected and unobstructed shared view to all users.  The system supports multiple personalized views, which can be in the same spatial location and yet be visible only to the users it belongs to. "For example, when looking at a city map, if I want to see traffic information I can lean forward and see the traffic-overlay while other people can, at the same time, lean forward and see the elevation information for a particular street," says Bristol professor Sriram Subramanian.  "Everyone else who is not leaning forward will continue to see the undistorted city map.  Their view will not interfere with mine, even if it is on the same spatial location."  Bristol researchers led the development of PiVOT, which also allows the creation of personal views that can be either two-dimensional or auto-stereoscopic three-dimensional images.  The team used an arrangement of liquid crystals to create the tabletop system.

Robots Using Tools: With New Grant, Researchers Aim to Create 'MacGyver' Robot
Georgia Tech News (10/09/12) John Toon

Georgia Tech researchers are studying ways to give robots the ability to use objects in their environments to accomplish high-level tasks.  "Our goal is to develop a robot that behaves like MacGyver ... who solved complex problems and escaped dangerous situations by using everyday objects and materials he found at hand," says Georgia Tech professor Mike Stilman.  The researchers are developing algorithms for robots that make tasks that are impossible for a robot alone be possible for a robot with tools.  The algorithms will enable a robot to identify an arbitrary object in a room, determine its potential function, and turn it into a simple machine that can be used to complete an action.  Stilman is collaborating with Institute for the Study of Learning and Expertise director Pat Langley and University of Kansas professor Dongkyu Choi.  Langley and Choi will expand the cognitive architecture they developed, which provides an infrastructure for modeling various human capabilities in robots.  "We believe a hybrid reasoning system that embeds our physics-based algorithms within a cognitive architecture will create a more general, efficient, and structured control system for our robot that will accrue more benefits than if we used one approach alone," Stilman says.

Free Program Makes Computer Graphics More Realistic
Cornell Chronicle (10/08/12) Bill Steele

Cornell University researchers have developed a new version of Mitsuba, a free, open source rendering program used by computer graphics researchers worldwide.  "The goal of my project is to create cutting-edge software that makes it considerably easier," say Cornell Ph.D. student Wenzel Jakob.  The new version offers an improved user interface, as well as mathematical advances that accelerate processing and enhance realism.  Jakob notes that in academia there is a drive for realism that has brought forth new developments, but these are only slowly making their way into commercial software.  "What really is new is that Mitsuba implements a group of rendering algorithms that traditionally have been horribly complicated," he says.  For example, the new version includes an algorithm called Metropolis Light Transport, which manages the complex behavior of light traveling through glossy materials such as brushed metal or glass.  "It's been very rewarding to watch this software grow from a small project a few years back into one of the most sophisticated renderers available," says Cornell professor Steve Marschner.

The Seeds That Federal Money Can Plant
New York Times (10/06/12) Steve Lohr

Government support is key to facilitating new ideas that are harvested by the private sector, creating companies and jobs, according to a recent U.S. National Research Council (NRC) report.  The report examined eight computing technologies and found that the portion of revenue at 30 well-known corporations that could be traced back to the seed research backed by government agencies totaled almost $500 billion a year.  "If you take any major information technology company today, from Google to Intel to Qualcomm to Apple to Microsoft and beyond, you can trace the core technologies to the rich synergy between federally funded universities and industry research and development," says Microsoft's Peter Lee, who led the NRC committee that produced the report.  However, government research funding is threatened by the Budget Control Act, which is scheduled to take effect in January, calls for across-the-board cuts in discretionary spending.  A recent American Association for the Advancement of Science study found that federal spending on research and development would be trimmed by more than $12 billion in 2013, and the National Science Foundation would have its budget cut by more than $450 million.

Australian National University to Switch on Largest Supercomputer Next Week
Computerworld Australia (10/05/12) Byron Connolly

The Australian National University (ANU) soon will begin testing the country's most powerful supercomputer, which uses Fujitsu's PRIMERGY x86 high performance computing clustered design and Intel Xeon E5 central processing units to provide up to 1.2 petaflops of processing power.  The system also has 176 terabytes of memory and 12 petabytes of disk storage.  About half of the supercomputer's power will be dedicated to modeling earth systems such as weather and long-term climate change, says ANU professor Lindsay Botten.  Researchers want to use the supercomputer to provide seasonal weather modeling over a few months rather than a few days, Botten notes.  The system's size and memory capacity will enable researchers to work at much higher resolution to gain more accurate results about the potential impact of severe thunderstorms.  In the future, other government agencies, universities, and private enterprises also will have access to the supercomputer.  The $100 million, four-year supercomputing project is a partnership between the ANU and several other Australian universities, the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization, the Bureau of Meteorology, Geoscience Australia, and the Australian government.

Why NASA Thinks a Supercomputer on the Moon Might Not Be Pure Fiction
Government Computer News (10/05/12) John Breeden II

Southern California University graduate student Ouliang Chang recently proposed building a supercomputer on the moon.  And although the idea might seem like science fiction, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) may be interested in it.  Since at least 2009, NASA has considered upgrading its Deep Space Network to a true Internet in space.  The current network supports space missions exploring the solar system and some Earth-orbiting missions.  However, there could be a need for Chang's moon base because space is getting too crowded to process all of the data coming from the various probes, satellites, and robots that are exploring the solar system.  The missions compete for time and bandwidth, and the situation will only get worse.  Each time a new spaceship launches is like adding a new client to the network, and the moon base concept would be akin to adding a new router and server to that network, which would accept signals from space, store them, process them when necessary, and then transmit the data back to Earth as time and bandwidth permits.  Chang wants to put a supercomputer data center inside a moon crater, facing toward deep space, and notes some interesting problems, such as the need to detect incoming asteroids.

NASA Issues Big Data Challenge
InformationWeek (10/05/12) Patience Wait

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Department of Energy, and the National Science Foundation recently created the Big Data Challenge, a competition to develop new ways to capitalize on the data generated by the federal government.  The Big Data Challenge aims to identify ways to analyze and share large amounts of data across government, using information sets taken from the health, energy, and earth science fields.  The challenge involves four contests, the first of which is an ideation challenge that seeks ideas for tools and techniques that can smooth out the gaps in disparate data sources and subjects.  The top three finishers will each receive $500 in prize money.  "Big data is characterized not only by the enormous volume or the velocity of its generation, but also by the heterogeneity, diversity, and complexity of the data," says the Big Data Senior Steering Group's Suzi Iacono.  "There are enormous opportunities to extract knowledge from these large-scale diverse data sets, and to provide powerful new approaches to drive discovery and decision-making, and to make increasingly accurate predictions."  The contest will be hosted by the NASA Tournament Lab.

Creative Blocks
Aeon Magazine (10/03/12) David Deutsch

Despite the universality of computation dictating that artificial general intelligence (AGI) must be possible, progress in this field has been stalled for decades, writes University of Oxford physicist David Deutsch.  Underlying the stagnation is a failure to realize that what makes human brains distinctive from other physical systems is qualitatively divergent from all other functionalities and cannot be specified in the way that all other properties of computer programs can be.  A new philosophy whose central tenet is a theory that explains how brains generate explanations is required.  For now, scientists are locked in the conventional wisdom that theories are derived from induction, and this is constraining AGI progress by erroneously assuming that thinking is a process of anticipating that future patterns of sensory experience will resemble past ones.  In fact, thinking involves criticism and correction of partially true guesses with the goal of pinpointing and removing errors and misconceptions in those guesses, as opposed to producing and justifying extrapolations from sense data.  The induction approach to AGI greatly relies on Bayesianism, which assumes that minds function by assigning likelihoods to ideas and modifying them in the light of experience as a way of choosing how to act.  Deutsch says this only permits a behavioristic model of an AGI's values.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

Free media-sharing system picking up steam

Who hasn't gotten excited about a new Internet service, only to discover that it falls short on free software values?

The Web is full of services for posting, sharing and commenting on media, but most of them require you to run nonfree software or share your data with third parties on their terms. It seems like these problems are just getting worse, with more and more of our media and personal information hoarded in the hard drives of a few giant corporations, and previous uses of nonfree Flash being replaced with nonfree JavaScript. Determined to find a better way, FSF member Chris Webber started the GNU MediaGoblin project. He's leading a community team to write a next-generation social web system where users will share their experiences through photos, videos and audio, all without running proprietary software or centralizing personal data in the hands of a corporation.

Right now MediaGoblin is partially developed, but the team needs financial support so that they can quit their day jobs for a year and perfect MediaGoblin's features to a professional level. The FSF believes their project is important to the future of the Internet and free software, so we're partnering with them to launch a crowdfunding campaign, complete with creative prizes for donors (give $350, and Chris will make you a 3D-print of Gavroche the goblin, the project's cute mascot).

Can you help us out by spreading the word about MediaGoblin, and, ideally, pitching in some cash? You can donate here:

You can read our blog post and press release about MediaGoblin, why it's so awesome, and why it needs our help at:

Help get the word out:

---> Enough links! I want to donate! ($100 gets you a spiffy MediaGoblin tshirt, but even $5 helps) -- http://mediagoblin.org/pages/campaign.html

MediaGoblin's goal is to raise $60,000. With that modest amount, Chris thinks MediaGoblin can be ready to use in a year. We'll continue to follow its development after the fundraising effort, and we'll keep you all posted. If this works, then a year from now, we'll be posting pictures online and sharing them with our friends, all with free software!

-Zak Rogoff
Campaigns Manager

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Friday, October 12, 2012

The Patent, Used as a Sword

New York Times (10/08/12) Charles Duhigg
; Steve Lohr

Federal judges, economists, corporate executives, and others say flaws in the U.S. software patent system are hampering innovation. They also note that software patents are being used as litigation weapons. An assessment by Stanford University found that as much as $20 billion was spent on patent litigation and patent purchases in the last two years in the smartphone industry alone. Public filings reveal that for the first time, spending by Apple and Google on patent lawsuits and large patent purchases exceeded spending on research and development in 2011. Critics say the patent office frequently grants patents that describe obscure algorithms or business methods without patent examiners demanding specific details on calculations occur or how the software operates. This enables some patents to be so broad that patent holders can claim extensive ownership of apparently unrelated products built by others. Companies are frequently sued for violating patents they never knew existed or never thought might apply to their creations. "The standards for granting patents are too loose," argues federal appellate judge Richard A. Posner. Large technology companies generally want to curb the financial damages juries can award for minor patent violations, whereas drug manufacturers want to ensure they can sue for billions of dollars if a single patent is infringed.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

[FSF] LulzBot A0-100 3D printer now FSF-certified to respect your freedom

BOSTON, Massachusetts, USA — Tuesday, October 9th, 2012 — The Free Software Foundation (FSF) today awarded its first Respects Your Freedom (RYF) certification to the LulzBot AO-100 3D Printer sold by Aleph Objects, Inc. The RYF certification mark means that the product meets the FSF's standards in regard to users' freedom, control over the product, and privacy. The LulzBot model AO-100 3D printer can be purchased from www.lulzbot.com.

Aleph Objects, Inc. is honored to have the first hardware product with the FSF's Respects Your Freedom certification mark, and we're proud to sell a 3D printer that delivers freedom to each and every user. Aleph Objects, Inc. was founded with the idea that people should be free to use, learn from, and improve the machines they use, and to share their improvements and innovations with collaborative communities. The spirit and philosophy of the free software movement is embodied in our LulzBot 3D printer. All of our printers ship with hardware designs, software, and documentation all under free licenses. You get it all — source code, design documents, and specifications — everything needed to control, tinker, fix, and improve upon every aspect of the printer.

— Jeff Moe, Founder of Aleph Objects, Inc.

The FSF began work on a hardware certification program in October 2010 by publishing an initial set of criteria for certification, and subsequently inviting community members to help refine them. To be certified, a hardware product must meet several standards that ensure it runs free software, allows users to modify that software, supports free data formats, and is usable with free tools.

The desire to own a computer or device and have full control over it, to know that you are not being spied on or tracked, to run any software you wish without asking permission, and to share with friends without worrying about Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) —these are the desires of millions of people who care about the future of technology and our society. Unfortunately, hardware manufacturers have until now relied on close cooperation with proprietary software companies that demanded control over their users. As citizens and their customers, we need to promote our desires for a new class of hardware — hardware that anyone can support because it respects your freedom.

Hardware we all want: FSF announces criteria for hardware endorsement program

Conversations between the FSF and Aleph Objects, Inc., solidified the certification process and Respects Your Freedom mark design. Future certified products will display the same mark on their packaging and in associated marketing materials; the FSF will also promote certified products on its Web site at http://www.fsf.org/ryf.

"Over the past 27 years the FSF has earned a reputation of being a strong advocate for computer user freedom, and we continually work to earn and keep the public's trust," states Joshua Gay, FSF licensing & compliance manager. "Because so many people have placed their trust in the FSF, a product displaying the Respects Your Freedom certification mark will be immediately recognized as a product that a user can trust when it comes to software freedom."

Subscribers to the FSF's Free Software Supporter newsletter will receive announcements about future Respects Your Freedom products.

To learn more about the Respects Your Freedom hardware certification program visit http://www.fsf.org/ryf.

Hardware sellers interested in applying for certification can consult http://www.fsf.org/resources/hw/endorsement/criteria.

Respects Your Freedom Certification Mark LulzBot(tm)
LulzBot(tm) AO-100 3D Printer 3D printer + printed FSF logo

About the Free Software Foundation

The Free Software Foundation, founded in 1985, is dedicated to promoting computer users' right to use, study, copy, modify, and redistribute computer programs. The FSF promotes the development and use of free (as in freedom) software — particularly the GNU operating system and its GNU/Linux variants — and free documentation for free software. The FSF also helps to spread awareness of the ethical and political issues of freedom in the use of software, and its Web sites, located at fsf.org and gnu.org, are an important source of information about GNU/Linux. Donations to support the FSF's work can be made at http://donate.fsf.org. Its headquarters are in Boston, MA, USA.

Aleph Objects, Inc.

Aleph Objects, Inc. is a Loveland, Colorado, USA based company committed to free software and libre hardware. They are the makers of the LulzBot(tm) line of 3D printers and components available at their online store www.lulzbot.com.

Media Contacts

Joshua Gay
Licensing & Compliance Manager
Free Software Foundation
PHONE: +1 (617) 542 5942 x20
EMAIL: licensing@fsf.org

Jeff Moe
Aleph Objects, Inc.
EMAIL: moe@alephobjects.com
PHONE: +1 (970) 377 1111 x622


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