Archive for News

Blackberry a Defense for Google Against Rockstar?

If you haven’t been watching the news today, a big bomb was dropped on Google. The Rockstar consortium (Apple, BlackBerry, Microsoft, Ericsson, Sony, and EMC) has sued Google as well as Asustek, HTC, Huawei, LG Electronics, Pantech, Samsung, and ZTE. Is there an obvious and easy way around Rockstar?

Brief History

So what happened is this. Nortel was going bankrupt. Google bid for their patents, but lost out to a consortium of companies. That consortium includes Apple, BlackBerry(then known as RIM), Microsoft, Ericsson, Sony, and EMC. Even at the time, Google’s Senior Vice President and Chief Legal Officer, wrote that Microsoft, Apple and others were engaging in hostile patent warfare against Android.

Silver Bullet?

BlackberrySo, how can Google and company get around this particular issue? There may be a quick and easy was to do it. Maybe. I won’t pretend to be a an expert at patent law, but I do know that one member of that consortium is not doing particularly well these days. In fact, they’ve been shopping around for a buyer. Blackberry. As a member of the consortium, they would have full rights to the patents owned by the consortium. A purchase of Blackberry by Google would bring ownership of those patents (at least partial) to Google, making the suits against Google moot.

Second Option?

Department of JusticeEven if a Blackberry purchase isn’t a possibility, there’s another possible solution out there as well. During the initial purchase, the DOJ investigated the companies involved because they were concerned (as was I) that the patents being purchased would be used in an offensive against Android. As it turns out, they were right about that (and by extension so was I). The DOJ only approved the purchase with the hopes that Rockstar would only use the intellectual property it purchased strictly to defend itself from Android initiated lawsuits. It may be that the DOJ may not take kindly to this particular aggressive action by Rockstar.

Summary

There’s quite a bit of worry out there today regarding these new suits against Google and the Android ecosystem. I’m not going to say that worry isn’t warranted, but there are options available to Google that could very well make this a minor bump in the road. We’ll have to wait and see how things pan out, but this lawsuit may not be the huge problem so many people think it’s going to be.

Watched Apple’s Announcements Today

I watched Apple’s announcements today.

I was totally inspired.

Living In Interesting Times

Actually, this post isn’t going to be about Linux. I’m sure everybody has heard the proverb “may you live in interesting times”. Well, this last couple months, that’s how I’d describe what’s been going on with me. You won’t see much interesting showing up on the blog because while there has been a lot of interesting things going on in the Linux world, I haven’t had a lot of time to delve into it. Let’s start at the top.

Kaitlyn Elizabeth

Late last year, we found out that my wife and I were expecting our third child. We couldn’t have been more excited. Everything went great until 27 weeks, 6 days when my wife went into labor (for the first time).

For those of you that aren’t up on all the details of pregnancy, 40 weeks a pregnancy. A baby is considered “premature” up until they’re 37 weeks along. 28 weeks is very early.

We spent a couple nights in the hospital, and the doctors and nurses managed to stop the labor…. mostly. My wife was put on bed rest and given shower and bathroom privileges. She wasn’t to leave the bed for any other reason. She was started on medication to keep the labor at bay as well. Because she was on full bed rest, I got the job of taking care of our other two children (and Amy).

At 32 weeks, she couldn’t take the medication anymore because it could cause issues with the baby beyond that point. I think she made it a full day before going back into full swing labor.

This is a reoccurring pattern at this point. We were in the delivery room 6 or 7 different times over the next 5 weeks. We were sent home, and sometimes admitted. Amy spent a full week in the hospital at one point. It was really starting to take a toll on both Amy and I mentally and physically.

The real trick here was despite the fact that Amy was pretty much “in labor” this whole time, because the baby was premature the doctors were unwilling to “help things along”. Finally, 37 weeks arrived. Amy was in the hospital at the time, and the doctors finally agreed that the time had arrived. It didn’t take long before we had a healthy baby girl.

Cancer

We were actually in the hospital after Amy had gone into labor at the 28 week mark when I got a call from my brother. My Dad had gone into the hospital for a Urinary Tract Infection (UTI henceforth) and the doctors had detected Cancer cells in his bladder.

My Dad had a bout with Cancer several years ago in his Prostate, and it was thought to have been at least pushed to remission. These new Cancer cells implied otherwise. Of course there were tests, but Dad only opted for the non-intrusive ones. This November he’ll be turning 90, and he’s of the mind that this round of Cancer will either kill him quickly, or something else will. Don’t agree with him, and I think that he should be looking into his treatment options after he finds out what the source of these cells is, but it’s his call to make and not mine.

Alzheimer’s

The news of my Dad’s Cancer had barely stopped echoing in my ears before I got another call. This time it was from my mother. Things had been… slipping for my mother for a while now. She was having a harder and harder time remembering things. She’d gone to several doctors and none of them found anything wrong with her.

Finally, she went to a neurologist who gave her the diagnosis. She has Alzheimer‘s.

It’s not terribly far along at this point, but it does create some serious issues, the largest of which is caring for my Dad.

See, while my Dad is going to be 90 this November, my Mom isn’t even 70 yet. Most days Mom doesn’t know what day it is, let alone if she’s completed basic tasks, like eating or taking medication. My brother and I have started calling her twice a day (morning and evening) to remind her to do both. We have to stay on the phone with her or else she’ll hang up the phone and get distracted by something and forget what she was doing. My Dad has never been one to complain, which is actually starting to be a problem. My Mom will forget that they haven’t eaten, and just not. Dad won’t say anything. This has been going on long enough that he’s lost over 60lbs.

Interesting Times

There’s not really an ending to this story. Not yet anyway. The proverb says ”may you live in interesting times”, but “interesting” could mean so many things, both good and bad. The last couple months have brought me both in bulk. Interesting times? To say the least.

 

Protect your Privacy in a Post Prism World

What Microsoft does to Protect your PrivacyWe’ve been hearing a lot about Prism lately. It’s a big topic and a big deal. I hear excuses for it all the time. “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.” “It’s for our security!” Blah blah blah. None of the many excuses I’ve heard have remotely justified Prism to me. That’s one of the many reasons that I rely on Linux to protect my privacy.

Microsoft and the NSA

If you’re using Windows, and you want to protect your privacy, you can spend a lot of money to do it. You can buy packages that will protect Windows. You can upgrade your firewalls. You can install virus and malware protection. You can encrypt your files.

Do you honestly think that will protect you from the NSA and having your data sucked down at will by Prism? Of course it won’t.

The trick here is that Microsoft allegedly is working with the NSA. They’re giving the NSA access and allowing them to bypass their encryption. Nothing you’re installing to protect your privacy is working.

Now, Microsoft has denied that this is the case. What we now have is a case of he said she said regarding your privacy. Who do you believe? And that’s the billion dollar question.

Any OS can be Secured, Sorta

Microsoft would have you believe that Windows can be just as secure as Linux, and they’re doing everything in their power to protect your privacy. The thing is, you have to take their word for it. And that’s not just the case with Windows and Microsoft. It’s the case with any proprietary OS where the code is locked away from the customer. We can’t look and see if what Microsoft is telling us is true. We can’t look and see what Apple is telling us is true.

It’s hidden.

This is where Linux by it’s very nature is better. The code is open, and anybody with an Internet connection can download that code and verify that no NSA snoop has a back door to their operating system. Just by being open, Linux does more to protect your privacy than Microsoft and Apple combined. Combine Linux with tor, and you’re virtually invisible. On top of that, you don’t have to spend hundreds if not thousands of dollars to achieve this. It’s all free.

Protect Your Privacy

Even before Prism, I had a hard time coming up with a good reason to use Windows. Now, post Prism, continuing to use Windows or OSX seems like you’re just wrapping your private affairs in a pretty bow as a gift for anybody that Microsoft or Apple makes a deal with. If you’re even slightly interested in keeping your private matters private, you should be using Linux.

Welcoming FOSS Advocates!

EDIT: THEY’RE LIVE!

Go check them out at http://fossadvocates.org

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FOSS Advocates

 

Today on Google+, a good friend of mine had a big announcement. Since he put it in better words than I can conjure, I’m just going to steal his post and paste it here.

WE’RE READY TO LAUNCH!

Hey guys,

Myself and the rest of the FOSS Advocates team are very proud to announce that the site is pretty much ready to launch. So we have decided to officially launch the site tomorrow at 1500 UTC.

What we currently have
So currently the site isn’t much more than a blog. We have aggregated open source content from around the web, as well as some vanilla content from myself and the rest of the team.

However, we’re not going to remain this way for long, and we took this deliberate decision to launch as we are now so that our readers have something tangible they can visit whilst we’re still working away in the background.

Think of this first release as a kind of open beta. We’re happy with what we have currently, be we’re still working very hard to actively develop the site to make it the awesome place we fully expect it to be.

What’s next?
Once we’ve launched we’re going to immediately start work on phase 2 of the project, which is the community. We’re going to be adding a “social network” to the site (I hate that term, but it’s basically what it is). Were members can engage with on another, share information, and generally “hang out”.

We’re also going to add community forums so that you guys have everything you need to mozy on down and have a good chat to one another. The forums will be a place were you can publicly talk about anything you like that’s related to FOSS (and even some stuff that isn’t). New projects, support, emerging technologies, and general chit chat. It’s a community forum, so you guys set the subjects!

Once this is done we’re going to have a little break and enjoy the fruits of our labour. Me and the rest of the team will be regulars in the forums, and in the community, so you will no doubt get to know us better there.

Once the community is established and it’s nicely ticking along, we will start development on phase three of our project. At this point in time though guys, it’s top secret, but let me assure you that it’s going to be epic! We don’t want anyone else stealing our idea.

Let’s just say that if you’re a project leader, you gonna want to see this. We’ll leave it there for now I think. ;-)

How can I help out?
Once the sites launched we’re going to need your help. In true community spirit, if you have any
feedback, then please contact us on hello@fossadvocates.org- this goes straight to our inboxes so
you will receive a response.

As well as this, you can volunteer to help us out, either by assisting with moderation here on the G+ Community, or by being a guest author on the blog.

If you have any recommendations to interesting FOSS RSS feeds, then by all means run them by us. We’ll take a look, and add them to the site is we think they’re a good fit.

Thank you
Me and the rest of the team still have a lot of work ahead of us. But we’re excited about FOSS Advocates, and we hope you are too. Please feel free to re-share this announcement here on G+, and on other social networks.

If you have a blog yourself, and want to feature FOSS Advocates then please feel free to do so. If you want a direct quote then email us using the address above.

Thanks guys, spread the word, and we look forward to your feedback on the site tomorrow!

–Kev and the rest of the FOSS Adv team

So, you heard it here second. Go and check out http://www.fossadvocates.org tomorrow at 1500 UTC. Check out what the guys over there are offering. It only gets better from here.

Stagnant Pools are Unhealthy For You

Stagnant PoolStagnant pools are unhealthy for you. This is true in nature just as it is for your mind.

Once in a distant era known only by a few as “The 90s” I joined an archaic communications medium called a “BBS“. At the time, the Internet wasn’t available to me. Yes, I’m really that old. I mainly dug around through software download areas because software was hard to find at the time without buying it.

Let’s stop there just to say that I’m not talking about pirating software. I’m talking about Freeware/Shareware. Without the Internet, it was next to impossible to get.

One day, I happened upon a forum that was set aside purely for operating system wars. Brilliant idea on the part of the Admins to give people a place to yell at each other about OSs so they didn’t do it elsewhere. At the time, it was pretty much Mac vs. Windows/DOS.

I really enjoyed myself in there. I fought with people day in and day out, sometimes making 20 to 30 posts a day. I was there for years. Finally, around 2001 or 2002 I moved on. My full time job was making a a forty hour work week look like a luxury, and I also started dating my future wife during that time. We’ll just say that I had more interesting things on my plate.

More than a decade passes.

I realize this is a long introduction to my point, but bear with me.

I was digging through some old files on my computer when I ran across the settings file for the BBS I used to visit. Intrigued, I grabbed the software and fired it up. Amazingly enough, my account still worked! I navigated the old familiar menus and found myself back in the forum that had used up so much of my time.

Time had not been kind to this BBS. The Internet had stripped away most of the casual users and left it with only the hard core people. Those people were actually the same people that had been in there a decade earlier.

They were still there!

Well, some of them were.

The few people that remained were all Mac users. Every single one. They’d been sitting there for over 10 years not being challenged by anybody. Always getting a pat on the back for saying what ever they were saying because everybody always agreed with them.

Finally: The Stagnant Pool

In talking briefly to them in a couple of posts it became apparent that some ideas that were debatable had been accepted into the realm of fact simply because no one stated that it wasn’t. I’ve seen this kind of behavior elsewhere too, and not just in technology. I’ve seen it all over, from small towns to politics.

Maybe people do this because it’s more comfortable? I honestly don’t know. They surround themselves with people who agree with them and force out the people who don’t. They never have their ideas challenged, and I think they’re the worse for it. They live in their enclosed little pool where no new ideas get in, ever. It doesn’t take long before it becomes foul and rank.

It’s not wrong to hang out with people who agree with you, as long as that’s not all you do. People need to talk to people who disagree with them. Find out why. You may not ever come to an agreement, but you may on occasion decide your initial position was wrong. You may convince them that their’s was. The discussion may only solidify your position. I’m the first one to admit that I’m far from perfect. I’m wrong, and when I’m wrong people point it out. I’m glad that they do because I become better because of it. It’s something that should be worked for, and it’s absolutely not something to be afraid of.

More Apple Demands

More Apple DemandsWith it’s most recent step in the ongoing Apple vs. Samsung debacle, Apple has made a surprising demand. From Google. Charlie Osborne over at ZDNet had a pretty good run down of Apple’s demands. My thoughts, both the court and Google should tell Apple to go to hell.

Know what Open Source Is?

First of all, Android is Open Source. The code that Samsung and countless others have downloaded to create their phone is available for free on the Internet. Anybody can grab it. What would a demand from the court get you that a few minutes with a web browser wouldn’t?

Who Is On Trial Here?

I’m sorry, but if the information you need is not part of the source code that is open and available to the Internet, then it’s part of Google’s private business. Why the hell should Google be required to hand over any of their private matters to a competing company that’s doing their best to wipe Google out when Google isn’t the one on trial? If Apple’s beef is with Google, then sack up Apple and sue Google. Going “thermonuclear on Android” by attacking anybody and everybody that uses it is the cowards way.

Makes No Sense

Seriously, how does this make sense? If Google is in violation, sue Google. If Samsung is in violation, then the materials that Google has (other than the already publicly available source code) are none of Apple’s business. Google shouldn’t even waste the paper for a response. The judge should kick their dumb asses out of court for making stupid demands. Of course, this “trial” is taking place in San Jose, which is right in Apple’s back yard, and Samsung is not even an American company, so the odds that the judge will cave to every stupid demand Apple makes is greatly increased. This whole thing is seriously pissing me off, and reducing the already minuscule chances that I’d ever buy an Apple product. If anyone who works at Apple is reading this, I want to make this absolutely clear: I will go back to one of these before I ever buy an iPhone. Get me?

Old Phone

The State of Gaming on Linux

Gaming on LinuxI’ve never been much of a gamer honestly, so how games were doing in Linux really never mattered much to me. When World of Warcraft came out, my entire department bought it and started a guild, so of course I did too. Fade to black… time passes.

I wrote this article last year about how I’d kept a Windows partition around strictly for gaming purposes and how with a little help from Wine, I’d moved past it. More than a year later, I’ve more than passed the need for Windows to play games.

Steam

Gaming on LinuxMan, Steam for Linux. Just today I installed Left 4 Dead 2. I haven’t had the time for an in depth look at every single bit of the game, but from what I’ve seen It’s perfect (despite the fact it’s still in Beta). Portal just hit Linux too. In looking at my Steam library, there’s only three games that aren’t available for Linux yet. Portal 2, which is rumored to be on it’s way as well, Half Life 2, and Half Life 2 Lost Coast*. I’m expecting both of those to come to Linux too since most of the Half Life family of games already has. Steam has opened up a whole ton of games for Linux that hadn’t previously existed.

*UPDATE: Since the original writing of this bit, Half Life 2 and Half Life 2 Lost Coast have become available on Steam. At this point, the only game in my Steam library that isn’t available for Linux is Portal 2, and I’m expecting to see it show up as available soon as well.

Humble Indie Bundle

Gaming on Linux

The Humble Indie Bundle is another great resource for Linux games. In the past it’s bundled games for low prices that you can get for an extremely low price that you can download or add to your Steam library. I’ve picked up a number of really cool games this way, and the proceeds to to charity. You can’t really beat the opportunity to get some cool games and help people out at the same time. Every time Linux users have risen to the challenge and donated more to the cause than any other platform (proportionally speaking of course). I always keep a close eye on their site just so that I’m ready for the next opportunity to get games from them.

Play On Linux

Gaming on LinuxWhen all else fails, there’s always Wine. The best option I’ve found is Play On Linux. It’s got a whole lot of pre-configured options available, so if you’re wanting to play a popular game, chances are there’s a pre-made configuration available for it in Play On Linux. This is what I use to play World of Warcraft and Unreal Tournament. I did use it for Star Trek Online for a while, but that game never really stuck with me. I’ve honestly never tried to run a game in Play On Linux that didn’t work. If you’re a Linux user and you have an old favorite laying around because it’s Windows only, give it a shot.

Games Everywhere

So, I guess the old argument about Linux not having games is fading fast into history. There are literally Linux games coming out every day. But there is one problem with Gaming on Linux that I’ve only recently run into. I’m quickly running out of hard drive space. I’m going to have to do something about that soon.

Backing It Up

CrashPlanI was in a Google+ Hangout tonight where some people that know quite a lot more about photography than I do were discussion various photography type topics. One of those people was Cali Lewis, who pretty much everybody who’s ever used a keyboard would recognize from GeekBeat.tv.

Of course, where you find Cali Lewis you will find Drobo. The subject of backing up your stuff came up, and with it the ever present Drobo.

I want to state this up front. The Drobos are cool devices. Very cool. I’d consider buying one if I had gobs of cash. That being said, a device like a Drobo is hardly a requirement for a secure backup. Here’s my basic setup.

So how do I use this? Well, it’s pretty straight forward actually. I store all my files on the internal drive. That’s it. I don’t even think about anything else. I have a simple shell script running in a cron job every 5 minutes. All that script does is run an rsync on two local locations, keeping my Internal drive in sync with my external. Every single change that’s done on my internal storage gets mirrored on my external. CrashPlan is configured to backup the internal storage.

What does this amount to? Basically, all my data is backed up locally and remotely in a secured location. This whole setup will cost me $360 the first year, and $60 every year after that. Considering the Drobo Mini is the cheapest Drobo available at $649 (not even including the drives), you can get 5 years of service before you even come close to the cost of least expensive Drobo.

For the every day guy/gal working on their computer and storing family photos and personal music collection, there’s no reason to go to the extreme and purchase a Drobo. If it helps you sleep better at night and you’ve got disposable income laying around, go for it, but if you’re like the majority of people everywhere, you can spend your money more frugally and get protection that’s just as good.

Disagree with me? Let me know all about it.

Ice Cream Sandwich for the HTC Thunderbolt

htc-thunderbolt-officialFor those of you that aren’t paying attention to ancient history, news broke today that Verizon has finally given the go to ICS for the HTC Thunderbolt.

All I’ve got to say about that right now is this: It takes a whole lotta gall to start your press release out with the line “When you rely on Verizon Wireless, you know you are getting the cutting-edge devices and technology needed to keep your business running at full speed” when you’re announcing the upgrade of a phone that shipped in March of 2011 to an OS that came out in October of 2011, and it’s currently 2013. I don’t know if HTC is to blame for this debacle, or if it’s Verizon’s fault, or if it’s somewhere in the middle, but claiming that Verizon is giving you “cutting-edge devices and technology” is almost a slap in the face.