FSF highlights two projects that can replace Skype

GNU Free Call wants to help people easily connect with each other without relying on any one centralized network. To do that, they’re creating a peer-to-peer calling network, along with client software for traditional desktop computers and mobile devices. The project recently released stable call server software, GNU SIP Witch 1.0, and now the team is beginning to focus its efforts on building the client software.

WebRTC is coordinating an effort to let people call each other and hold videoconferences just by visiting a Web site.

via Two new projects can help free software replace Skype — Free Software Foundation — working together for free software.

Technology is changing politics

That’s the theme of the Personal Democracy Forum that started today in New York.

Too often, the discussion of technology and politics employs a kind of lazy shorthand. We say things like “The Internet is revolutionizing politics,” or “the Internet is helping dictators,” as if a set of network protocols and bits and wires could do anything on its own. Unfortunately, that shorthand often infects our discussion of current events, and we end up debating things like “TwitterRevolution” or “Facebook effect” rather than the real issues, which are what people do with these tools. The Internet, after all, doesn’t empower anyone. We empower ourselves.

Don’t miss the plenary keynote with Dan Sinker, Michael Wesch, Lisa Gansky, Lawrence Lessig, Andrew Rasiej and Eben Moglen that will probably tell the public more about the FreedomBox.

http://cdn.livestream.com/embed/pdf2011?layout=4&autoplay=false

Watch live streaming video from pdf2011 at livestream.com

Oracle ‘donates’ OpenOffice.org to Apache foundation

Oracle has done what Sun should have done a long time ago: put OO.org code into the hand of an independent foundation. The good news is that now a wider participation from corporations and individuals is possible. Hell, even Microsoft can now participate into OO.org development. I hope that soon the fork can be reconciled, too.

My first thoughts is that Apache Foundation is a good home for Open Document Format, ODF. If the license will also change to Apache there will be more opportunities to create an ecosystem on top of the standardized format.The free software movement needs a thriving ecosystem around ODF so that we can edit and exchange office documents between computers, mobile and other devices without sacrifices. So far this ecosystem has failed to materialize and OpenOffice.org as a tool has many flaws (bad/old GUI, heavy and in areas like presentation is just bad).

I personally welcome the change as I never believed that The Document Foundation had enough steam in its engine to radically improve the product. But I believe it can still maintain and improve LibreOffice until Apache’s community will start rolling the next generation of desktop productivity tools.

Oracle ‘donates’ OpenOffice.org to Apache foundation | ZDNet UK.

Comments from Rob Weir and Novell’s Michael Meeks.

Why it’s fair to put GNU in GNU/Linux

I keep meeting people that get this wrong and start very boring discussions about the name of operating systems based on Linux kernel. Latest storm started with Pedro Côrte-Real ‘How much GNU is there in GNU/Linux’ and the subsequent comments on LWN.net. GNU is the foundation of a very powerful idea: that one day  computers would run on a free (as in freedom) operating system. GNU is not an operating system, GNU cannot be measured in lines of code. The lines of code of GNU that are copyright by the FSF are what made everything else available, from Linux to Android to Apache. If it wasn’t for the early years of development of the GNU system by Stallman we would have probably never had what we have now.

Call it whatever you think is fair but remember that this is not about lines of code, it’s not a technical issue: calling the system GNU/Linux is paying a tribute to the idea that computer users need to have a free operating system. I wish the FSF would make this more prominent on gnu.org.

Google extends copyright with YouTube Store

Copyright is a set of exclusive rights granted to the author or creator of an original work, including the right to copy, distribute and adapt the work (Wikipedia). Google is adding a new right: the right to exclude you from configuring your device the way you want.

Google is excluding jailbroken (rooted) Android phones from accessing the pay-per-view YouTube channel, you won’t be able to play the streamed file on your own device.

Google – the vendor – and the studios – the rights holders – are using copyright to control something much more profound than mere copying. In this version of copyright, making a movie gives you the right to specify what kind of device can play the movie back, and how that device must be configured.

via Cory Doctorow Google’s YouTube policy for Android users is copyright extremism