Liberating the cloud one block at the time

simpson-cloudThe issue is how to bring the values of free software community to the cloud. According to reports from Southern California Linux Expo (SCALE), Bradley Kuhn‘s speech has addressed the issue.’  I hope he will include it in the next episodes of the Software Freedom Law Show, the interesting podcasts he runs with SFLC counsel Karen Sandler.

The problems of the cloud range from data ownership and portability to service interoperability and ultimately to software freedom. There is no simple solution, but building blocks to build a liberated cloud are available. Bradley mentioned in his speech, for its federate microblogging service. I add Funambol to the pile because I believe it brings freedom to the other (often forgotten) cloud: the cell phone networks. With Funambol you own your data and you can take them with you, when you change operator or when you change device.’  I like the MobileWe marketing pitch for Funambol: freedom is a ‘we’ issue, not just a ‘me’. You can’t be free if you’re allowed to do what you want only in a limited space, like you are now if you buy the Pear meCell from DudeMobile. It’s like saying that a lion in a zoo is free, because he can move around as he wants … within the boundaries of the cage. A society made of non-free ‘me’ makes a non-free society. WE have to be free for the MEs to be free, too.

Pimp your addressbook with Avatargrabber

Who said that syncing is boring? Alfredo Morresi developed the ultimate time-wasting-syncing-social-tool to pimp your addressbook. Did you know that your phone and desktop addressbook can associate an icon to any of your entries? But, honestly, who has ever wanted to spend time associating a name with a picture? I didn’t, until Avatagrabber was released, that is. Now it’s become a perfect time wasting machine. All you need is a myFunambol account (or another SyncML compliant server). Here is how it works: Avatargrabber grabs the list of contacts from myFunambol; you can pick a name you want to ‘pimp’ with an icon and let Avatagrabber scout the web in search of images of your contact on various social networks or Google image. It’s only a matter of seconds before you become addicted :)’  Not bad for a Funambol Code Sniper application. Grab it here: isn’t it cool?

How long will it take for spammers to harvest this address?

Collabnet updated its discussion service on Funambol Forge so that now the archives hide the full email addresses of members using a simple obfuscation in the html code through a javascript function.’  Apparently there is no silver bullet to stop 100% of spammers, but as in many cases ‘good enough’ is enough.’  For curiosity and to test the method, I created an email account on gmail and posted a message to the Forge forums. After a month I still haven’t received any spam message on that account.

Today I setup another gmail address as control group. Lets see how long it takes for spammers to pick this Bets accepted 🙂 I think it will take 5/7 days for the first spam message to come. What do you think?

UPDATE: It took about 2 hours before I got the first spam message sent by a spammer (not by Mauro).

Received: by with SMTP id e6cs5143rvg;
        Thu, 12 Feb 2009 02:08:48 -0800 (PST)
Received: by with SMTP id z16mr383901qbp.25.1234433327837;
        Thu, 12 Feb 2009 02:08:47 -0800 (PST)
Return-Path: <>
Received: from ( [])
        by with ESMTP id s31si1516262qbs.34.2009.;
        Thu, 12 Feb 2009 02:08:47 -0800 (PST)
Received-SPF: pass ( domain of designates as permitted sender) client-ip=;
Authentication-Results:; spf=pass ( domain of designates as permitted sender)
Received: from ([])
          (InterMail vM. 201-253-122-130-113-20050324) with ESMTP
          id <>;
          Thu, 12 Feb 2009 05:05:52 -0500
X-IronPort-Anti-Spam-Filtered: true
X-IronPort-Anti-Spam-Result: AooIAIR9k0nOL8eg/2dsb2JhbACBboswiEPAbIFCBg
Received: from (HELO ([])
  by with SMTP; 12 Feb 2009 05:02:19 -0500
X-Mailer: Openwave WebEngine, version 2.8.10 (webedge20-101-191-20030113)
X-Originating-IP: []
From: Mrs Sarah Wood <>
To: <>
Subject: claims of =?iso-8859-1?B?ozEsMDAwLDAwMC4wMA==?= pounds
Date: Thu, 12 Feb 2009 5:05:34 -0500
MIME-Version: 1.0
Content-Type: text/plain; charset=iso-8859-1
Content-Transfer-Encoding: quoted-printable
Message-Id: <>

send the following: Name,Age,Sex,Country to Email: mrchristophermorgan@bt= for the claims of =A31,000,000.00 pounds which was won by YO=
UR ID in our Recent Compaq Bonanza for the use of internet service

Mrs Sarah Wood

smaffulli’s status on Thursday, 12-Feb-09 07:48:49 UTC –

Twitter / smaffulli: lets see how long it takes ….

Everybody loves forums… or do they really?

I often find web-based forums difficult to participate to. Most of the times the graphic interfaces are too rich, clogged with unnecessary information, visually tirening and distracting. Usually they have too many categories to chose from the start page, threads are difficult to follow, most of the time you can’t really tell who’s answering to what. And they force to stay online to interact with others, there is no ‘offline’ support.

Method of Ubuntu Community Support
Method of Ubuntu Community Support

Compared to a local email archive from mailing lists I think that web forums are suboptimal for collaboration. That’s one of the reasons why I like Collabnet’s discussion services (as in Funambol Forge), that integrate a mailing list with a simple web forum UI: you can have the best of the worlds.

Reading Canonical’s Survey Results I was surprised to notice that their community prefers to use web-based forums to mailing list for community support. Is that because Google indexes forum archives better than mailing list archives? The’  Ubunty forums entry page doesn’t look too inviting, so I imagine that the most common entry point is a search. From there on the user is engaged and starts posting. My feeling is that web forums have a lower barrier to entry and mailing lists have a higher retention rate of contributors. Does anybody have pointer to scientific studies about this topic?

Two days to comment on TLS-authz standard to IETF

Patent encumbered standards are the worst because they seem legit, but instead they can easily become incompatible with Free/Libre Open Source Software.’  Free Software Foundation campaign is alerting the community to act fast:

Last January, the Free Software Foundation issued an alert to efforts at the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) to sneak a patent-encumbered standard for “TLS authorization” through a back-door approval process that was referenced as “experimental” or “informational”. The many comments sent to IETF at that time alerted committee members to this attempt and successfully prevented the standard gaining approval.

Unfortunately, attempts to push through this standard have been renewed and become more of a threat. The proposal now at the IETF has a changed status from “experimental” to “proposed standard”. The FSF is again issuing an alert and request for comments to be sent urgently and prior to the February 11 deadline to Please include us in your message by a CC to

Read more: Send comments opposing TLS-authz standard by February 11 – Free Software Foundation.

links for 2009-02-05

links for 2009-02-03