Tag Archives: google

The Chewbacca defense rerun

The second act of The Pirate Bay trial – Spectrial pt. 2 – The Appealhas now been initiated.

For this event, I am hilighting the video I edited hastily for the first part of the trial. Håkan Roswall happens to be the prosecutor in this case, and the scene in South Park presents a defense attorney. But they’re saying just about the same thing, so I figured that it works anyhow:

[youtube uEydw5p3BBQ]

Unfortunately the second round consists mainly of repetitions of the first act. By this I mean actual reruns of recorded hearings etc. Incredibly boring. Though it is probably for the best considering how everything – exactly as it was said in the last act – should have freed the four accused of “assisting making available copyrighted material”.

Unless, that is, Google is responsible for its search results’ contents.

Ideological choices fuel the free software movement

Slashdot reported a long time ago from no-room-at-the-ecosystem dept. something which I’d usually just entitle “brainaids”.

“Mozilla has decided to stop development of a version of its Firefox mobile Web browser for phones running Windows Mobile. The reason is that Microsoft has closed the door to native applications on smartphones running its new Windows Phone 7 Series software. More reasoning can be found in a blog post by Stuart Parmenter, director of Mobile Engineering at Mozilla.”

Unfortunately most people seem to think that battery power, ease of use and stability are irrelevant. Or they don’t actually want something mobile but rather a cool gadget. This causes people to buy unstable, unusable and/or incredibly restricted phones from these three categories:

  • Apple iPhone
  • Random Google Android mobile
  • Random Windows 7 mobile

Despite high price-tags none of these choices are good, mostly due to their respective operating systems. All of these phones market themselves to be “powerful” and probably “versatile” and maybe even “usable”. Though none of them – of course – market the restrictions implied.

Apple iPhone

A cool, sleek interface. In these days a nice piece of hardware too. Probably easy to sell, because you have the backing of an “app store” and also the “cool factor” which means everyone has it and everyone is talking about it.

The downsides are: To legally distribute software for use on the iPhone, you need Apple’s approval. This approval implies that you accept Apple as a benevolent God who – when feeling the urge – can shut down software on your phone that you legally bought. The software approval thing also means that anything anyone does better than Apple will not be accepted into the App Store. Geez.

Android phones

None of these phones are other than slow and unstable when it comes to using then. Besides this the software distribution is messy and difficult to overview. There is no immediate logic in which Android version runs what software and on which phone.

My personal reason for disliking it is purely ideological. Marketing says it’s “open”, promotes “open source” and whatever. However, the platform doesn’t appeal to open source software and everything has to be written very specifically for the Android phone. Porting software is apparently not as simple as one could’ve hoped.

Lately Oraclesince the Sun acquiry, have been yelling that Google infringe patents and copyright. This because Google has their own Java virtual machine for the Android phones. The patent issue itself isn’t troublesome, I think it’s worse that Google didn’t just run Linux straight-up on their otherwise capable platforms.

Windows 7 phones

No one buys these for themselves… They’re probably just bought through companies who offer them to suffering employees. Same thing here applies as with Apple: Both companies are evil.

Latest news are that (as mentioned above) Windows 7 mobiles won’t allow native applications. This system of signed applications opens up for a system of Apple-like dictatorial “blessed apps”. It also obviously disables development by homebrew hackers.

The sum of it all

Besides this I recently saw an article on Australia planning to ban certain iPhone apps. Something which is only possible if there is a single, signed software repository (Apple) – or just an architecture which requires signed executables (Microsoft). This mere concept of centralistic control defies how the Internet happens.

Consider your everyday tasks which are either of private concern, some sort of communication or information access. These routines are all possible to do using libre (free) software. The Free software is in no way under usage control of neither private companies, your neighbor nor any governmental censorship bureau.

With libre licensing:
You control your device and software.
No one else can interfere.

The Nokia N900, runs the GNU/Linux operating system. This reflects the “ideological choice” of this post’s subject, the choice to run Free software. What is essential is the ability to share and – especially – modify the source code. Even if you won’t do it yourself.

Free software in practice disables an external dictatorship over the software your machine runs. This comes from the fact that any developer, through international copyright, is given the legal right to modify and distribute changes. This also means that even if all the world’s developers suddenly disappeared the current version would still be shared in a fine, working condition.

This causes the direct opposite evolution compared to proprietary (closed source) software companies who offer you only one choice – the latest version. They need you to update to increase the revenue while Free software is only interested in functionality and effectiveness. This is most noticable when an already fine, working proprietary software gets a new version: the update will most certainly include bloat and/or new restrictions.

This post not only encourages your informed choice for smartphones – a major business which fuels proprietary software. It is meant to persuade you to use Free software to the greatest extent possible. You’re probably already using OpenOffice or Mozilla Firefox – which is great because every single replaced software counts. If you like those, your next step may be Ubuntu – to replace the entire operating system.

Feel free to contact a local computer nerd for guidance.

VP8, Matroska and Vorbis

Occasions like these make me want to celebrate. As a strong Ogg/Theora supporter, due to its irrevocable and patent unencumbered license, I’m happy to announce that it may soon be deprecated. Big brother VP8 has been open sourced!

Theora video codec, maintained by Xiph.org, was originally based on the proprietary VP3, which was released to the public by On2 Technologies in 2001. Alongside this, Xiph has been maintaining the Vorbis audio codec as well as the Ogg container format (and Speex and FLAC…). This, together with their Icecast streaming, a whole suite of totally Free software has been available for media streaming and storage.

Vorbis has long been (and still is!) a very important part of the Free media climate. Battling the technically inferior, patented and Fraunhofer owned MP3 format, it hasn’t reached the same industrial applications. Few hardware media players support Vorbis due to a previous lack of low-power integrated circuits, which is probably caused due to a fear of Free software. Consequently few applications bother marketing their “Vorbis support”, even though applications like Spotify uses this format for streaming.

The [street-smart] people at MPEG-LA have made sure that from the moment we use a camera or camcorder to shoot an mpeg2 (e.g. HDV cams) or h.264 video (e.g. digicams, HD dSLRs, AVCHD cams), we owe them royalties, even if the final video distributed was not encoded using their codecs! Let me show you how deep the rabbit hole goes.

The debate regarding software patents, licensing and such is very interesting and – as with most intellectual property laws – incriminates entire populations. Had Spotify not used Ogg/Vorbis, they’d probably end up with MP3. Which would cause them to have to pay licensing for every copy of Spotify.exe and most likely also the software used to encode all that 500TiB (I’ve overheard) of audio data lying on their servers. This means that you, the user, wouldn’t have your precious kakka.

Technically inferior, Theora would not be able to stand a chance in the long run against x264 (free software, but “illegally” implemented algorithm). “Quality” goes before principles, and FUD is always in the air. Now that Google swallowed On2 Technologies, however, and released the VP8 codec to the public, the quality specifications are on a par and a strong company is backing the patents. It’s an unfortunate requirement caused solely by patent laws (in certain countries).

VP8 video, Vorbis audio and the Matroska container – all Free software and none of them patent infringing – are being combined as we speak. This is the evolution – or rather cross breeding – of the best common media tools around. It far-off beats any proprietary solution and what we’re all waiting for is getting it into our software. But we’re not far off – VideoLAN VLC has already implemented it in 1.1.0-RC1.

Viva la revolución!

However, since I started writing this post I’ve found disturbing links regarding a plan to blow FUD all over VP8. The MPEG-LA (who’s holding the patent pools for MPEG-4/H.264 implementations etc.) are threatening Google. Locking down culture, mostly due to software patent laws in the US. Causing the global market to be unable to distribute legal copies of software and hardware, holding back development and financing legal departments. Fortunately, Google – at least in this case – does not do evil:

Second, Google has a lot more resources than Xiph.org — the group that controls Theora — does, and won’t be going down without a fight. It spent more than $120 million to purchase On2 and its technology, and wouldn’t have done so if it weren’t committed to making VP8 open source. Not only that, but the search giant said it’s done its due diligence and is confident that VP8 doesn’t infringe on others’ patents.

But what’s all this software patent jibberish?

Everything a computer does – from typing to gaming to playing audio and video and actually calculating – are mathematical operations. Exactly the same things that you learn in school, which the old Arabs and Greeks had hell-a fun with drawing circles in the sand etc. It is ancient theory – a knowledge which has slowly evolved collectively among mankind. No one can own mathematics.

Look at it this way: What if someone owned the mathematical operation modulo? Then for every sensible encryption scheme that has been implemented, royalties would have to be payed. And you wouldn’t be allowed to teach it in schools. And given you don’t know what modulo does, I probably wouldn’t be allowed to link it on Wikipedia. Even though it is simply a by-product of a simple calculation (division in this case). Which is exactly what a video codec is – the result of mathematical calculations. An algorithm.

Littfest, upphovsrätt och förlagförakt

Jag befinner mig på Littfest i Umeå. En intressant festival som har sitt ursprung inom litteraturen, men det finns mycket där i kringområdet som bakas in väl här!

Min dag började med att lyssna på en paneldebatt om noveller (eller kortprosa som det heter hos lurande förläggare). Allmänt trevligt slölyssnande på PO Enquist, I say, men mitt intresse peakade vid nästa debatt: “Bokens framtid”.

Här diskuterades ungefär kvaliteten mellan läsplatta (Kindle etc.) och bok. Även skillnaden mellan print-on-demand och “riktiga böcker” (trådbundna t.ex.) togs upp. Bonnier kritiserades friskt, eftersom de har horribla avtal med författare etc. Förlag i allmänhet dissades förövrigt i novelldebatten, så jag misstänker en slags trend. Författare har genom alla tider behövt leva på dåliga avtal, så det är klart att ett visst förakt växer.

Paneldebatt om "bokens framtid" på Littfest i Umeå Folkets Hus. Moderator: Andreas Ekström

Så det intressanta för dagen dyker upp här. Det började diskuteras upphovsrätt gällande bokens framtid. Fast vad är upphovsrätt för gemene man? Jo, de ekonomiska rättigheterna. Diskussionen, med bl.a. författaren Daniel Åberg som släppt en bok gratis, kretsade mycket kring detta. För mycket. Trots att den är deklarerat död sedan ett par år tillbaka. Ekonomiska rättigheter betyder ju ingenting ö.h.t. för vad upphovsrätten faktiskt är tänkt att skydda – de ideella rättigheterna. Vad jag moraliskt får göra med ett skapat verk.

Andreas Ekström, författare av Googlekoden, var moderator och verkade greppa skillnaden. Jag ställde en fråga till författaren om licensiering – vad får jag göra med boken? Okej, den är gratis, men får jag ö.h.t. skriva ut den på papper själv? Får jag binda en egen bok? Får jag därefter sälja den, eller ge bort i julklapp för den delen? Mjo, författaren hade tänkt på licensiering men inte “hunnit med” att sätta den officiella Creative Commons-stämpeln.

Det är mot detta vi måste vinkla debatter und so weiter för att faktiskt komma någon vart. Påpeka att fritt och gratis är olika. Gamla nyheter, jag vet, men det verkar alldeles för lätt för randoms och obekanta i diskussionen att falla in i pengatänket.

“Social media” does not mean “Facebook and Twitter”

There’s a constricted idea of what the internet is capable of. Social media is immediatly attributed to Facebook and Twitter because they’re the biggest players on the field. In Sweden, Spotify is getting great press even though Jamendo is the superior choice for music distribution. The internet is not trade or services – it’s communication.

Someone suggests teaching Facebook to schools to make them understand social media. But if we attribute it the label “social media”, do we not suggest much more than a lucky US-based company which merely offers a centralised, restrictive, surveilled and censored service? This post is not aimed at that specific article however. It’s much more general than that.

What we see today are only a proof of concept for a baseline of possibilites available by way of the internet. The current “globally used” (what about Brazil and China?) services are all centralised and restrictive. We are bound to see future development in even more awesome social networking technologies available to common internet users – similar to Google Wave. Today we have user-created services with user-generated content and the key of the future is decentralization. This implies even more social interaction, resulting in greater user-based filtering.

Personally, I’m seeing the world from a technical point of view. Unfortunately, for the end-user, the development process is often irrelevant. Free software is thought of as “free as in beer”, not free as in speech. Culture is copied and fileshared without regards to copyright laws, and thus Free culture is also viewed just as if it wasn’t priced. The steps to a common understanding of librethe right to use, modify and share – seem long and far away. Nevertheless they’re prerequisites for future development in online social networking.

Then how do we change this nihilistic, disrespective view on social media’s true nature? One might start with presenting Twitter’s main open source competitor identi.ca, using Creative Commons Attribution licensing. Also there’s the open source WordPress, which I use, that is superior in all aspects to any proprietary platform such as Google’s Blogger or Sweden’s popular “blogg.se”. Another service is the unfortunately closed source Flickr, but at least CC-licensing is a given choice there.

If the general public starts recognising what separates these services from the proprietary and restrictive ones, we are not far from a social media revolution. One might not immediatly think about it, but copyright issues today enforce a noticable restriction on social media development. Sites like YouTube are more successful than progressive open source alternatives simply because they have a legal department financed by Google. Free licenses, however, effectively reduce the amount of bureacracy needed to come up with new ideas.

A lighter copyright regulation would immediatly spawn several new internet top sites. To catch a glimpse of the future-to-be, compare the all-praised Spotify with its direct libre counterpart, Jamendo. The latter allows you to listen without registration, payment or advertisement. Jamendo also allows you to choose your music player of choice, embed it on other web services, download entire albums for offline-access. Heck, Jamendo even lets you support the artists and easily share your own works! From what I hear, Spotify can’t do any of those things.

The future is decentralization. With my above conclusions, users can soon also take part in the distribution, not just generation, of content. It’ll be harder to make mad profit, so there’ll be resistance – but this also introduces significantly lower costs. Given that the internet isn’t crippled along the way, we’ll be getting there site by site, API by API. Open standards, one by one. Shortly followed (or introduced?) by Free – libre – software implementations. Paving the path for true social networking.

Update 2009-12-31 14.23: I forgot to mention the most important part about Jamendo – they allow you to upload your own, independent work to benefit from the entire Creative Commons community.

Cory Doctorow, I found through the EFF, mentions that anyone against DRM-free e-books by consequence wishes to abolish the printed book, since printed books have an ancient history of being shared regardless of copyright. That’s exactly why social media can’t be social as long as we’ve got specific laws which are different from afk social behaviour.

4 miljoner barnporrsidor

Jag hör på Ekot på morgonen

Bilder av sexuellt utnyttjade barn blir inte bara fler, det finns i dag omkring fyra miljoner webbsidor som exponerar sexuellt utnyttjade barn. De senaste åren har bilderna på övergreppen också blivit grövre.

FYRA JÄVLA MILJONER? Var in i hela jävla helvetet har hon fått den siffran från? Eller är det jag som (trots mitt engagemang) underskattar Internets storlek (vilket bara stärker rule 34)? Eller är det definitionen av “sidor” som är trasig här? Dvs inte unika websiter.

När jag googlar på “child pornography” hittar jag about 4,666,000 träffar… Har Najat Maala på FN lyckats att pull a Liza Marklund?

Google polisanmälda à la The Pirate Bay

Ungdomar polisanmäler Google. Oh hells yeah!

Hur kom ni på att anmäla denna gigant?

– På grund av Pirate Bay-domen så har Googles verksamhet diskuterats, om de också begår brott mot upphovsrättslagen. Genom att anmälan Google så får deras verksamhet utredas.

Jag hoppas de även tar upp den nytillkomna fildelningssiten The Pirate Google.com

This site is created in support of an open, neutral internet accessible and equitable to all regardless of political or financial standing

Däremot verkar Google hindra referrals från The Pirate Google. Men det är bara att klicka i adressraden följt av vagnretur när du får ett “felmeddelande”. Då är Google lika olagliga som TPB igen.

The Pirate Bay is like Google?

Monique Wadsted, a famous figure in the Swedish filesharing debate, has said the following:

Some say that Pirate Bay is like Google, but that’s incorrect.

//Monique Wadsted

I of course agree with her. Google is a commercial entity, continuously actively downloads and publishes copyrighted material from websites, aids in finding open security vulnerabilities and they know what you’re thinking. Nothing of which applies to The Pirate Bay.

Update 2009-02-08 19:05 (translated from Swedish)

<zoot> meh
<zoot> you have to turn it around
<zoot> “Pirate Bay doesn’t help China kill its own citizens, while Google does.”

Google demands higher temperature specs from Intel

Apparently 20 degrees Celsius is too cool for Google. They want to run their data centers in 25 degrees. Quoting the article, this basically means that chips themselves might get as warm as 55 degrees Celsius.

According to Mark Monroe, Sun Microsystems’ director of sustainable computing, data center managers can save 4 per cent in energy costs for every degree (Fahrenheit) they raise the thermostat. If you run your data center at a higher temp, you use less power and spend less money on the equipment needed to cool it down.

Of course this also means environmental goodies. Less cooling, means less energy required. Considering how none of Google’s data centers are in Sweden (or any other environmentally sane country) this probably means that the energy used is produced in Bad™ ways. Burning oil, coal, babies or whatever.

But then again, 25 degrees celsius? Heck, that’s cooler than my office where I run mission critical IRC clients! The cooling I use is a pair of 80mm fans connected to a power supply hanging from the ceiling and an outlet.

Kompetenskonkursförklara Ballmer och Microsoft

Steve Ballmer borde kompetenskonkursförklaras. (Mitt nya favoritord. Jag har fortfarande problem när jag försöker uttala det.)

VK har en lustig artikel som direkt kritiserar Steve Ballmer och Microsoft. VK kör trots allt Apple-grejer så långt det går, så det är väl någonstans därifrån det kommer skulle jag tro.

Följande uttalanden från Steve Ballmer bör kompetenskonkursförklara (YEAH, USE THAT WORD!) honom. Citaten är från artikeln, inte direkt från Ballmer himself.

han sa också att Windows Vista är det mest populära operativsystemet Microsoft lanserat hittills.

Mmm, yeah… About that…

Han markerade också att open source inte är det mest attraktiva sättet att bedriva mobilverksamhet sett ur operatörernas och mobiltillverkarnas ögon.

Vad han dock verkar ha glömt bort är användarna som drar oerhört mycket nytta av att en plattform är öppen och fri källkod. Nu är visserligen inte Google’s Android-plattform ens i närheten av lika öppen och fin och bra som Linux-baserade operativsystem och dylikt… Men faktum kvarstår: Open source är för användarnas skull, inte marknadens.

Sedan går det att bygga bra affärsmodeller på open source, men det är inget som man verkar särskilt van med i den kommersiella världen än så länge. Canonical verkar klara sig rätt fint med Ubuntu dock. Fast de kanske egentligen bara lever på Mark Shuttleworth’s IT-miljoner egentligen :)