Things I said on 2011-07-31

  • The open internet and its enemies http://lnkd.in/TjvgNZ #
  • If you read one thing today, read this: Security Theater Lessons From Utøya http://bit.ly/nX6XzP #
  • povera terra mia http://is.gd/cZV5Lq #
  • News that make you wonder… Forget Anonymous: Evidence Suggests GOP Hacked, Stole 2004 Election http://t.co/O7W7HjC #
  • Try to guess Why Google cares if you use your real name http://is.gd/9gwWY6 #privacy #
  • I'm thinking of building a media center distro for my Atom-based tablet: what's modern out there? Must include PDF/ebook/comic reader too #
  • ♺ @istbrunoleoni #Belgio senza #governo cresce. Italia #debitopubblico al 120% del #PIL La #politica ci salverà? http://bit.ly/pKoyCx #
  • The story of a survivor to Utøya massacre and Debian member http://gunkies.org/blog/?p=91 #
  • Counterintuitive? Not really: "piracy" appears to increase the quality of the related goods that are being infringed upon http://j.mp/oXEngG #
  • Saudi Arabia blocks Amnesty International Web site after anti-terror law leak http://is.gd/OeqFWV #censorship #
  • Pakistan censors Rolling Stone website after it published an article highlighting Pakistan's "insane military spending" http://is.gd/TOqddG #
  • A conferma che siamo governati da buffoni: Il nuovo logo del Ministero dell'Interno, forse plagio? http://is.gd/7TAVF7 #
  • uh oh: Paris Hilton arrives on Google. But luckily nobody forces you to follow her 🙂 http://j.mp/nywDWg #
  • Nortel, Google and the value of patents http://j.mp/qt4Y4C #
  • Google lost Nortel's patents now says "A patent isn’t innovation. It’s the right to block someone else from innovating" http://j.mp/pmQJhr #
  • special effects at #OSCON thanks to Nebula http://is.gd/sD2ljr #
  • ♺ @OpenStack: RT @hpnews: HP Announces Support for @OpenStack: http://t.co/48YBe3O #hp #cloud #
  • Patent Troll Sues Amazon Over Electronic Checkout Service http://j.mp/ptY8eB #
  • screaming my frustration for OO.org Calc modifying the content of my cells instead of applying the format I choose. Had to use Gdocs #fail #
  • Unfortunately the connection Twitter -> Facebook pages is still very problematic… gotta test it again #
  • Selective Tweet is still spamming my pages with or without the # tag … even if I removed the app… annoying #
  • Removed the offending app from Facebook, it's not in the list of apps on Twitter… lets see if also this tweet goes to the wrong page #
  • What's your preferred way to post from Twitter to your Facebook pages? #
  • Why won't Intellectual Ventures answer questions about its relationship with Lodsys? http://j.mp/ojEFm9 #swpat #
  • new platform designed to help free software developers find money and resources for projects launched in Brazil http://j.mp/pntq2W #
  • What the 1930s fashion industry tells us about Big Content's "six strikes" plan http://j.mp/nSHL3W #
  • WOW leaked private details of 35 million people ♺ @kouroshk: Basically everyone in South Korea was hacked yesterday http://t.co/o6wcGQX #
  • ♺ @glynmoody: Google's WebM (VP8) allegedly infringes the rights of at least 12 patent holders – http://bit.ly/oMTk3O #
  • ♺ @FreedomBoxFndn: If nobody reminds Microsoft that Gmail-man does the same things as Hotmail-man, Live-man, Yahoo-man etc we will #
  • Serious Online Privacy Vulnerability Exposed for Forum Users (warning: source is conspiracy theory website) http://is.gd/IhpjZU #fb #
  • Open source isn't "just" the alternative anymore, it's becoming the mainstream technology in a lot of areas. http://j.mp/pX4tHZ #
  • News that make me angry: how can this arrogance be tolerated? http://is.gd/32IN9o #
  • Swiss proprietary software vendors are delaying the publication as open source of software developed by federal court http://j.mp/oVAblp #
  • Funambol launched the MediaHub Video Contest: cool prizes, check it out http://is.gd/o8ysJu #
  • Google Voice: My neat test… http://kinetik.com/!QrOBk #kinetik #CoolApp #

Gmail Man vs MS Office 365 vs You

Microsoft released a series of videos featuring Gmailman, a nosy mailman that reads your email in order to send you advertising. It would  be funny, if it was a video done by EFF or FreedomBox promoting privacy enhanced alternatives. Instead, it’s Microsoft promoting its ‘cloud’ based product, which is equally bad for its users although for different reasons.

Gmail’s business is about learning who you are, who you correspond with, what you talk about, where you hang out and more in order to sell you to advertisers. Microsoft is in the business of selling you access to their precious golden bits and heavenly bandwidth, tighten your data to them so you will keep paying them because you’ll never be able to take them and leave. Two equally flawed business models.

Online Censorship Goes To UK

Motion Picture Association of America won a test case against British Telecom (BT) to restrict access to a site accused of providing links to download movies without authorization. The interesting fact is that the site causing the problem, Newzbin, is not distributing copyright infringing files but merely giving links. As Newzbin says, they are the Google of Usenet.

The victory for the big Hollywood studios is believed to be the first case in the UK in which an internet provider has been forced to block access to a website under the 1988 Copyright, Design and Patents Act.

Details of how the block will be done by BT are not clear. The judge ordered BT to block access to every IP address associated with newzbin.com and its subdomains but experience says that such blocks can be circumvented. Even the judge writes “I agree with counsel for the Studios that the order would be justified even if it only prevented access to Newzbin2 by a minority of users“.

What’s most interesting though is that more studies are proving that file sharing is good for artists. Former Google CIO  Douglas C Merrill revealed that his profiling research at the label found that LimeWire pirates were iTunes’ biggest customers. Merrill said similar things when he was President of Digital Business at EMI Records, that poached him from Google. He lasted less than one year: fired for stating the obvious?

Article first published as Online Censorship Goes To UK on Technorati.

How Intellectual Ventures Became Americas Biggest Patent Troll


NPR has a great story about software patents and how they’re abused especially by one firm that sues and demands payments from innovators. The story describes the business model of Intellectual Ventures, a firm whose only purpose is to accumulate patents and demand fees from anybody that is trying to bring a product to the market.

The company has received about 1,000 patents on stuff it’s come up with at the lab; it’s purchased roughly 30,000 patents from other people. In fact, nothing that’s come out of this lab — not the mosquito zapper, not the nuclear technology — has made it into commercial use.

Intellectual Ventures is the company behind Lodsys, the company suing independent iPhone app developers for a silly patent violation. Lodsys has no employees, it’s not making any product, it’s not producing any innovation. It sues people that create jobs and deliver products.

Did you think that patents were introduced to foster innovation? To give an incentive for inventors to bring new products to the society and solve problems? Think again. Companies like Intellectual Ventures are just a problem for startups and innovators. Venture investor Chris Sacca even said to NPR reporters that these trolls remind him of “a mafia-style shakedown, where someone comes in the front door of your building and says, ‘It would be a shame if this place burnt down. I know the neighborhood really well and I can make sure that doesn’t happen.'”. The FSFE raised this issue in Europe many years ago. The US patent system needs to be reformed, now.

via Intellectual Ventures And The War Over Software Patents : Planet Money : NPR.

Things I said on 2011-07-24

The Incredible Run of Google+

Since an image is worth 1000 words, here is a graph done by Leon Håland analyzing the growth of Google+. It took only 24 days for Google+ to reach 20 million users, while it took over three years to reach that number for Facebook and Twitter. Considering that the service is still open only by invitation and that brands or news organisations are not yet invited, this sounds like a huge achievement.

I think that this success is partially due to the fact that society is now used to the concept of a ‘social network’, we know what to do with the facebooks, the twitters and similar things. Another reason for this fast achievement maybe that Google already has lots of active profiles, via Gmail and Android. Or maybe, it’s because Google+ just works and proof of this may be that people are starting to receive breaking news from it, faster than Twitter.

To propel the next phase of growth, Google seems to be courting celebrities, the way Twitter does. I wonder how the pitch is because I can’t really imagine any non-techie using Google+ at the moment. Compared to the simplicity of the first Twitter interface Plus seems too intimidating. Can you imagine Hugo Chavez governing Venezuela via Google+ instead of Twitter?

What is the most important reason for you to use Google+? What made you jump using it?

Article first published as The Incredible Run of Google+ on Technorati.

Upgrade In-Place was Availble Long Before Apple Lion

Lots of comments today WOWing before the majesty of Lion upgrade… Look, mah, no DVD! As long time Debian developer Bdale Garbeeput it “the idea that you should have to reinstall from scratch on a new OS revision is sort of an aberration in history, foisted on the world by shrink-wrapped software suppliers with motives other than technical…”

Most BSD systems had a fairly rudimentary way to upgrade themselves ‘over the air’ with the command “make world & make install” and old hackers could even remember Vax had similar capabilities, too.

It was Debian GNU/Linux that made the concept of distribution upgrade popular and very user friendly. All you have to do to upgrade any Debian system is type one command: apt-get dist-upgrade. Debian’s release notes mention an automatic upgrade tool dselect for the first time on Debian GNU/Linux 1.3 release notes, dated August 11, 1997

Manual instructions to upgrade Debian in place go way back to the second Debian release, version 1.1 codenamed ‘buzz‘ (from Toy Story character) released on June 17 1996.

More recently, upgrading any GNU/Linux distribution without a DVD and from a live system is the norm and I wouldn’t expect less. After all, isn’t Apple’s App Store an imitation of Debian’s APT repository or Fedora’s RPM package archives?

Article first published as Upgrade In-Place was Availble Long Before Apple Lion on Technorati.

Google+ can be a social backbone if federated

The most important sentence of @edd  Google+ is the social backbone is:

[Google is] a company for whom exclusive ownership of the social graph isn’t essential to their business

That’s the crucial point I made before that would enable Google+ to work in a federation, like email.

Imagine having the possibility to run your own Plus-like service and still be able to comment on your brother’s pictures, hosted on his own server. Google is the only company that can do this and still profit from it.

How Google Can Win the Social Network War

First there was Orkut, FriendFeed, MySpace. Then Facebook came and took 750 million people behind its wall as they eagerly connected with school friends, shared baby photos and played Farmville.

Now Google Plus, the coolest kid in the block, has arrived. Facebook and Google seem to be competing to build the best single website where billions of users go to keep in touch with their friends and family, get the news and more. But it doesn’t have to be this way: Google Plus can be part of a federation of social sites.

Google Plus is a good product that has already reached 10 million users with innovative features like Circles and Hangouts. Google plans to add API soon, so that outside developers can add even more features to it. Facebook, however, is not standing still: Mark Zuckerberg will keep adding features, improving the design and pushing the expansion of its great walled garden beyond 1 billion users. And the competition will continue, until the race is about who builds the biggest single garden.

There is one thing I believe Google can do to win this race now: change the rules of the competition. Google should make Google Plus the (biggest?) part of a federation of Plus-like sites. Imagine hosting providers like 1and1 or Rackspace offering Plus sites alongside their email and web hosting. I could run my own plus.maffulli.net and use that as a private space to communicate with my extended family around the world. The local church, the schools, all could run their own Plus and the participants in those group could still add people to circles across different domains, like you can send email regardless of where the recipient has her account. Google Plus is email on steroids and the Circles are the next generation of the addressbook.

Facebook is good at building walls: the site is designed to attract users inside, convince them with subtle tricks to leave their precious personal data on the site — then they sell that information to the highest bidder to serve ads.

Google, on the other hand, is good at crawling data across distributed sources and extracting information from it. By fostering the creation of thousands or millions of Plus-like sites, all linked together, Google can pull the rug out from under Facebook and end the competition.

Google has all the knowledge on how to make money out of such federated structure: email is a federation, the World Wide Web itself can be read as a federation. Google’s core competence is how to extract information from distributed data and use that to present valuable advertising to distributed services. Instead of billions of users on one site, think of tens of billions of Google Plus sites, most of them showing AdSense.

Do us a favor, Google: end the race, kill Facebook or Tulalip before it even starts and any other service that tries to build silos to contain users. Enable a federation on Google Plus and keep on innovating.

Article first published as How Google Can Win the Social Network War on Technorati.