Friday FOSS Week in Review
Looking at life through the prism of the NSA
We thought last week was the week for leaked government secrets on government spying. Nope. Last week was just the tip of the iceberg coming over the horizon, with the helmsman going into full reverse attempting to avoid a collision. This week the slow motion ship of state made contact with the iceberg. Damage assessment is being done now as we write these words.
We would be appalled. We would be frightened. Trouble is, this is an old movie, a midnight double feature picture show. We know how it ends. It doesn’t. It’s like the Eveready bunny. It just keeps going and going and going…
Actually, this is a lot of fun for us. We’re constantly aware of how close we are to loosing everything to the power brokers who could not care less about us or our rights. Although we’re not expecting this latest round of leaks to do any good, we like seeing the black suited men carrying attaché cases squirm, even if only for a little while.
However, we are appalled over a few things. Not surprised. Just appalled.
First there’s Obama who thinks it’s just fine that our every move is now being collected in bits and bytes and stored forever in case needed. If we can paraphrase, he said we can’t have both our constitutional rights and safety from “the terrorists.” We would comment on this, but the boss just reminded us this isn’t a political site. Besides, we’re up against deadline.
As freedom loving sorts, we’re also surprised that a whole slew of Capitol Hill types who’re supposed to be on our side are now siding with Franco…er, Duvalier…er, the spooks at the NSA.
It also appears that while our government is 100% against racial profiling when it’s Barney and Andy doing their job in Mayberry, those practices are perfectly okay when being practiced by the No Such Agency folks. At least, that’s how it seemed to us when we read this item Joseph Menn and Jonathan Weber penned for Reuters:
“One former high-ranking NSA official told Reuters that such broad assembly of records was essential to investigations.
“If ‘a known terrorist in Yemen calls someone in the U.S., why did he call them and what happened when the person in U.S. starts making calls elsewhere in the U.S.?’ he asked. ‘On the surface it looks like the emergence of a terrorism cell.’
“Data-mining programs map such connections and provide grounds for further inquiry, potentially including the contents of calls, according to former operatives and Justice Department officials.”
If this former high-ranking NSA official had said, “If a known terrorist calls someone in the U.S.,” we would have no trouble accepting his statement at face value. However, by using “Yemen” as a qualifier, we begin to suspect that anyone from Yemen who’s not known to our “intelligence” guys qualifies as a known terrorist. Of course, we could be wrong.
Windows 8 getting less respect than Vista
It appears as if the folks in Redmond are being given the opportunity to learn some valuable lessons these days. For one thing, they’re learning that while owning 90 plus percent of the PC market is well and good, indeed it’s made them the big bad wolf that we all know and loathe, it also means the PC is theirs to lose.
No surprise this week when there were more “dire” warnings on the future of both the PC and of Windows. This time the warnings were coming from Citi Research, the research arm of the giant Citigroup. According to CNET, Citi is rather bearish on the prospects of the PC:
“‘The Citi global technology team is revising down its 2013 PC growth estimate to -10% y/y (from -4%) based on further sub-seasonal demand’ in the first quarter and slowing notebook production.
“In a section titled ‘Y/Y Growth in 2H? Don’t Think So,’ Citi says that despite investor optimism on a resumption of year-to-year growth in the second half of 2013, ‘we do not expect [PC] units to grow’ due to a ‘softening in PC end-demand’ and ‘muted benefit from Haswell and Windows Blue [Windows 8.1].’
“In short, no uplift from Windows 8.1 or Haswell — Intel’s newest processor.”
Alarmism aside, here’s what’s really happening. If the PC biz was the Dow Jones, bankers would be telling you that what we’re seeing is only a correction being brought about by new players on the block. The PC isn’t dying, and it’s not going to go away anytime soon. However, those friends of yours who need a computer to stay connected but hate them? They’ve probably owned their last desktop or laptop. From here on out, it’s only a tablet or really cool smartphone for them. That would mean the PC market’s going to get a wee bit smaller, no?
This shrinkage of the PC market was going to be a problem for Microsoft anyway, but the Redmond folks haven’t helped themselves with Windows 8. It seems the latest version of Widows has managed to do the impossible–get less traction than Vista. What’s really bad for the Redmond people here is that while people vocally despised Vista, they don’t seem to even be inspired to go that far with Windows 8.
Now Citi seems to be getting in line with other prognosticators to say that the upcoming Windows 8 remix, 8.1, is going to inspire yet another case of consumer ho-hum.
Citi, along with most of the other mainstream researchers, seem to be missing a big indicator of where things are going, however. While it’s true that Microsoft isn’t coming up with anything to inspire consumers to pick-up a new computer or laptop, Google is. The Chromebook is selling, and seems to be selling well.
Symantec or The Inquirer one needs to get their facts straight
Yesterday we found a news item posted on The Inquirer about a Linux kernel exploit that’s been ported to Android:
“The Linux kernel CVE-2013-2094 vulnerability was first published on 14 May and affected a number of Linux distributions that used the Linux 2.6.x kernel, including Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6, Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, Debian 6 and Suse Enterprise Linux 11. While Red Hat, Canonical and other distributions have long since issued patches, Symantec claimed that the exploit has been ported to Android.”
As this is a newsworthy story of importance, we put-up a link in the news feed we publish on our Facebook page and Tweeter feed.
Not long after we posted it, one of our Facebook followers with a sharp eye placed a comment:
“Since when did Ubuntu 12.04 LTS use kernel 2.6? It had Kernel 3.2 if i’m not mistaken”
It turns out our reader is right. Either The Inquirer or Symantec needs to employ more fact checkers. Meanwhile, we’ve got the most on top of it readers on the Internet.
Well, that does it for this week. Until next Friday, may the FOSS be with you…