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FOSS Force

The Robo Cloud Is Coming

I was just getting used to yesterday and suddenly it’s tomorrow.

Am I the only one who worries that we’re going a little too fast in our move to bring robotics into everyday life? Shouldn’t we sit down as a group and ask first, “Is this really something we want to do?” Maybe I’ve read too much science fiction, or maybe it’s those images from The Matrix that I just can’t get out of my mind. Or maybe it’s the memory from 2001 of the mentally ill computer with self awareness, Hal, trying to convince Dave that it was all a misunderstanding and that he promises to be good if only he’s not disconnected from his power source.

Demand Progress Video On Implications Of Kirtsaeng Case

The internet activist group Demand Progress has released a short 2 1/2 minute video on YouTube that explains the implications of the legal wranglings between student Supap Kirtsaeng and textbook publisher John Wiley & Sons in a case that’s already gone before the U.S. Supreme Court and is now awaiting a ruling.

At issue is the reselling of new textbooks purchased cheaply abroad in the United States. Kirtsaeng, a Thai graduate student in the U.S., sold textbooks published by John Wiley & Sons on eBay that had been purchased by relatives in Thailand. The publisher is claiming copyright infringement, and so far has won all rulings in the Federal courts.

Oracle Patches 2 Java Holes–At Least 5 Remain

It would seem that Oracle is getting serious about addressing security issues in Java. Late Monday the company pushed Java 7 Update 17 that fixes two security holes that were already being exploited in the wild.

The vulnerabilities addressed in Monday’s patch had been known since at least February 1 and were originally scheduled to be fixed in a scheduled security update in April, according to a security blog on the Oracle website:

Five, Count ‘Em, Five New Security Holes In Java

Those who thought it was safe to re-up Java on their browsers will need to go back and turn it off again.

If you listen to us, after you do you’ll never turn it back on. Browser side Java has been made pretty much obsolete by newer technologies, which means you don’t need it, especially since it’s proving to be about as easy to keep secure as ActiveX, sandbox or no. Here at FOSS Force, we haven’t had it enabled on our browsers for years, with no noticeable problems when we surf the web.

You may remember that back on January 10th it was announced that Java had a security vulnerability that was already being exploited in the wild. This security hole was serious enough to prompt the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to suggest that browser side Java be turned-off on all computers.

Back to the Future With Apple’s Rumored Smart Watch

For the last couple of decades we’ve watched as our technology has caught up with the world of Star Trek much faster than Gene Roddenberry could ever have imagined back in the 1960s, when Kirk, Spock and the gang first rode into our living rooms, mostly in “non-living” or “dead” black and white, as not many of us had “living” color back then.

Well, here we are, nowhere even close to the 23rd century of the original Enterprise, and we already have our smart phones, which are an awfully lot like the gee-whiz communicators into which Kirk would bark “beam us outta here” whenever a bug-eyed monster got too close for comfort. Indeed, we even have satellite phones, which could presumably communicate with the crew of the Enterprise if they were in orbit around our third rock from the sun. Though we don’t yet have replicators, holodecks or transporters, we can only imagine its only a matter of time before we can pick them up at Best Buy too.

Avast AV Finds Malware On LA Times Website

This morning the Prague based antivirus company Avast! pushed notification to it’s subscribers of the presence of malware on the LA Times website. The notification came by way of a link to a blog on the antivirus company’s site delivered with the morning’s virus signature update. According to the blog’s writer, Brian Krebs, the Times site has been affected for about a month and a half. The problem is not site wide and only affects visitors to a small section of the site:

“…Fortunately for most of the users, only one of the low-profile websites was infected, so the assumed number of the infected people is not really high. But! I checked yesterday’s stats, then day-before-yesterday and the result was a bit of shocker! We have consecutive reports of malicious iframes on their sub-site from 23rd of December and it is still working there while I’m writing this blog.”

FOSS’s Response to Office Rumor

Depending on who you talk to, Microsoft may or may not port their Office productivity suite to Linux. Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols at ZDNet seems to be the biggest naysayer at the moment. You can count me in his camp. He’s right; at present we don’t represent a big enough potential market for the Redmond folks to entertain any thoughts of putting high dollar coders to work doing the porting work. I’m sure the Microsoft bean counters would estimate it would take decades for them to earn their investment back. For that reason alone, it ain’t going to happen.

But the big story here is that this isn’t the big story here.

The big story is in how we, the FOSS community, have reacted to this rumor in a way that shows how much we’ve grown and matured in the last four or five years. We’ve reacted to this rumor like responsible grown-ups and I, for one, feel like a proud parent.

A Nightmare on Linux Avenue

Let’s say it finally happens and the big OEMs get tired of dealing with Microsoft and decide to make Windows only one choice of several on new computers. Not a world like we have now, where the likes of Dell halfheartedly offer half baked and broken installs of Ubuntu, installs that need serious tweaking before they’ll work. Not that world, but a pretend world of Linux being offered across all models, with a choice between two or three distros. You know, OEMs giving Linux exactly the same treatment as they give Windows today.

Sounds like Tux heaven does it not? Don’t be in too big a hurry to celebrate.

Microsoft Cranks Up FUD Machine

If I were Yogi Berra, I might say something like, “When times get desperate, the desperate get desperater.”

We’re hearing reports that Microsoft is having trouble pushing copies of the whiz-bang don’t-call-it-metro Windows 8 even at reduced fire sale prices, with one tech writer suggesting a Vista-esque rollback to Windows 7. The new Microsoft Surface Pro tablet that was supposed to make Microsoft the new Apple and Steve Ballmer the new Steve Jobs has brought less than enthusiastic reviews. What’s a down on it’s luck technology company to do?

Linux Won the Desktop Wars a Long Time Ago

Linux has won the desktop wars and Tux now represents the dominant desktop operating system. We’ve been in this position for a while now. The reason many of us haven’t recognized it is because this win doesn’t look anything like we thought it would. When wishes come true, they’re rarely what we envisioned.

To make my point, I’ll take us back to 2006.

Just like now, in 2006 the FOSS press was busy at work asking, “Will this be the year for Linux on the desktop?” Let’s start by looking at what we meant by “desktop” in those days, because what we really meant was the personal computer.

Java: Where Oracle, Twitter and Black Hats Meet

Back on January 24th, Oracle was sitting on their hands after issuing incomplete patches to not handle security issues in Java, issues bad enough to evoke dire warnings from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. I opined on that day that Ellison’s hired help needed to get off their duffs and come up with a good fix quick, even if Java has turned-out to be a puppy Larry Ellison no longer wants to keep. Evidently, somebody in Deadwood City felt the same way, as Oracle pushed a patch this past Friday addressing 50 security holes in the beleaguered programming language.

Wait a minutes, did I just write that the patch addressed 50 security holes? I’ve got a five pound block of Swiss cheese in the fridge that has fewer holes than that. I think if I was Larry Ellison I would be ashamed to admit I’d allowed that many security vulnerabilities to accrue unfixed while any project was under my care. I think I’d fix ten a day or something in five separate patches and try to make it look like I had my security eagles working overtime finding new holes ahead of the bad guys.

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