Are you a student? Like to program? Wanna make some money this summer? Then check out Fedora’s Summer Coding 2010!

poster explaining summer coding

The Fedora Summer Coding program connects students, mentors, sub-projects, and sponsors to provide coding opportunities as summer jobs.

Interested? All of the info can be found here

Students applications + proposals need to be in by the 20th of May

I’m *NOT* Feeling Lucky: My Grievances with the Potential Google of the Future.

I’m *NOT* Feeling Lucky: My Grievances with the Potential Google of the Future. v. 0.3

By: Justin “threethirty” O’Brien

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Comercial No-Derivitives 2.0 License to request more liberal terms please see

I have come to be known as a Google hater because of my strong stance against the data retention practices and uber integration of the “Googleverse” but I do not hate Google I actually like them. They are a vibrant company where the extremely intelligent and hard working employees are treated like they are real people. Googlers get healthcare, daycare, free meals, just about anything you can think of. If that wasn’t enough of a reason to love Google they also let every employee spend 20 percent of their work week working on a project of their own choosing. Google pays its employees for the 20 percent whether it is ultimately productive or not.

On top of being one of the greatest places to work EVER, they’ve created or purchased some of the most useful applications and web utilities ever made. Everything from the Chrome Web Browser, to the Picasa Digital Photo Suite, to Jaiku a Free Software micro-blogging service. They are reinventing the way we handle data in the new digital age with minor things like tagging emails instead of having to create folders. All the way to making us all communicate better with gtalk and wave. Every correspondence in the Googleverse is archived so that you can retrieve any little piece of information you need at anytime in the future, and that is where the trouble starts.

Because Google is the Midas of Web 2.0 everything they seem to touch is gold and has created a pseudo monopoly. We all have railed against other monopolies (like Microsoft) but seem to give Google a free ride because they are one of us, they are the digital elite. We are all good friends with Google and Google is our friend. They give us free cool services like YouTube and Gmail, they contribute to Free Software projects like the Linux kernel, Samba, Apache, etc. and they even bought the booze at the after party of a Linux Con. But like any friendship what happens if we drift apart and they start hanging out with another crowd? Will our data, all the secrets we have shared with our friend Google still be safe? How good of a friend are they? A buddy of mine says that a friend will help you move a couch, but a best friend will help you move a dead body. Which would Google do?

If you look at the Google Privacy Center ( you can see that Google is gathering data through every channel possible. There you can also see the current Privacy Policy as of March 11, 2009. Recently they also added a Privacy Dashboard that will allow you to manage your Privacy settings for a bunch of their products, but there is no reason to believe that they are getting rid of that data after the settings are changed. These are all fairly new things they have added because I’m not the first nor will I be the last person to worry/complain about this issue.

I’m not the only person who is worried about this and my brethren range from the concerned to the possibly crazy. I’m not willing to make judgment so I will give everyone their fair shake. Cory Doctorow, Science Fiction Author, Blogger, Free lance Journalist, and Internet Superhero, wrote a short story for Radar Magazine called “Scroogled” ( where Google is contracted by the Government to watch over us with the tools they have already built. Yes this is only fiction but there are other groups who believe it is already happening. Daniel Brandt and team over at are obsessed with “Google’s monopoly,algorithms, and privacy policies”. Under the heading “Big Brother is well-connected” they lay out 9 points in connection with their nomination of Google for the Big Brother award of 2003.

Their issues are:

1. Google’s immortal cookie: Google was the first search engine to use a cookie that expires in 2038. This was at a time when federal websites were prohibited from using persistent cookies altogether. Now it’s years later, and immortal cookies are commonplace among search engines; Google set the standard because no one bothered to challenge them. This cookie places a unique ID number on your hard disk. Anytime you land on a Google page, you get a Google cookie if you don’t already have one. If you have one, they read and record your unique ID number.

2. Google records everything they can: For all searches they record the cookie ID, your Internet IP address, the time and date, your search terms, and your browser configuration. Increasingly, Google is customizing results based on your IP number. This is referred to in the industry as “IP delivery based on geolocation.”

3. Google retains all data indefinitely: Google has no data retention policies. There is evidence that they are able to easily access all the user information they collect and save.

4. Google won’t say why they need this data: Inquiries to Google about their privacy policies are ignored. When the New York Times (2002-11-28) asked Sergey Brin about whether Google ever gets subpoenaed for this information, he had no comment.

5. Google hires spooks: Keyhole, Inc. was supported with funds from the CIA. They developed a database of spy-in-the-sky images from all over the world. Google acquired Keyhole in 2004, and would like to hire more people with security clearances, so that they can peddle their corporate assets to the spooks in Washington.

6. Google’s toolbar is spyware: With the advanced features enabled, Google’s free toolbar for Explorer phones home with every page you surf, and yes, it reads your cookie too. Their privacy policy confesses this, but that’s only because Alexa lost a class-action lawsuit when their toolbar did the same thing, and their privacy policy failed to explain this. Worse yet, Google’s toolbar updates to new versions quietly, and without asking. This means that if you have the toolbar installed, Google essentially has complete access to your hard disk every time you connect to Google (which is many times a day). Most software vendors, and even Microsoft, ask if you’d like an updated version. But not Google. Any software that updates automatically presents a massive security risk.

7. Google’s cache copy is illegal: Judging from Ninth Circuit precedent on the application of U.S. copyright laws to the Internet, Google’s cache copy appears to be illegal. The only way a webmaster can avoid having his site cached on Google is to put a “noarchive” meta in the header of every page on his site. Surfers like the cache, but webmasters don’t. Many webmasters have deleted questionable material from their sites, only to discover later that the problem pages live merrily on in Google’s cache. The cache copy should be “opt-in” for webmasters, not “opt-out.” 8. Google is not your friend: By now Google enjoys a 75 percent monopoly for all external referrals to most websites. Webmasters cannot avoid seeking Google’s approval these days, assuming they want to increase traffic to their site. If they try to take advantage of some of the known weaknesses in Google’s semi-secret algorithms, they may find themselves penalized by Google, and their traffic disappears. There are no detailed, published standards issued by Google, and there is no appeal process for penalized sites. Google is completely unaccountable. Most of the time Google doesn’t even answer email from webmasters. 9. Google is a privacy time bomb: With 200 million searches per day, most from outside the U.S., Google amounts to a privacy disaster waiting to happen. Those newly-commissioned data-mining bureaucrats in Washington can only dream about the sort of slick efficiency that Google has already achieved.

I’m not willing to debate these points mainly because I have no way to verify or deny these claims, and many of them go well outside my knowledge base.

There are some practical issues with relying on Google for your… well everything. Tens of thousands of people, business and otherwise were without email and and calendaring during a Gmail outage that lasted almost an entire day. This included people that had service contracts with Google for Gmail for your domain. As many of us saw it as a free day the business people were losing productivity and therefore money.

With the rise of the Google Android smartphones we have a new level of Scroogletude. If you become locked out of your Google account (like if you forgot your password) you could be in a world of hurt. I know an Android user who in order to use their phone had to create a Google account. When the user created the Google account they used their .edu email as the “other” email address that Google can contact you at. The only problem was the .edu was a Gmail for your Domain account so when they requested the password reset instructions Google would not send it to another Gmail account. When the user chose the “I don’t have that email address anymore” link they were told the account would have to be idle for 24 hours before they would help (mainly to make sure it wasn’t a scripted attack) which would have been fine except their phone was trying to access the account every 15 minutes so that it could be useful. Which Google took to be an attack. The moral of this story is don’t put all of your eggs in one basket, even if it’s Google.

If you are now sufficiently freaked out by the Gooogleverse there are some alternatives to some of the gtools. If you love Google Search but don’t like being tracked there is Scroogle ( Scroogle is a Google search proxy that prevents your data being stored by Google. Scroogle also gives you the option of having all communication between your computer and Scroogle’s search page be SSL encrypted.

If you have a Web Server or am willing to pay for a hosted service and are looking for a GoogleApps and/or Gmail replacement you should have a look at Feng Office which was formerly called OpenGoo ( They have a full suite that handles email, contacts, calendar, time tracking, and documents.

If you are interested in Wave but don’t want to tie yourself to Google try Pygowave ( Someday all of the different waves are supposed to be interoperable anyway (it’s part of the specification) so by not being on Google Wave won’t be missing out by the time it starts catching on.

All of the above mentioned Google replacements I am currently using with great success. The only issue with Fengo (running on your own server) is that you must already have email with a pop3 or imap support. Any will do but make sure that you trust the provider or you will be in the same boat again.

MPAA wants to control your TV

Posted On: Mon, 2009-11-16 16:22 by holmesworcester to

The MPAA is pressuring the FCC for the authority to cripple recording devices using so-called “Selectable Output Control” (SOC).

Basically, SOC would enable Hollywood to actually shut off the video outputs on your cable box, DVR, or other recording device when particular movies or shows come on. When the movie’s over, the outputs might turn back on. Your devices would dance to Hollywood’s tune.

Most cable boxes and DVRs already include Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) and operate using proprietary software — both of which we need to work to eliminate. But just because many of these devices already use DRM, that doesn’t mean we should let Hollywood and the FCC keep adding more. This new form of control would take even more freedom away from people using those devices, would restrict people using free software like MythTV to watch broadcasts and record them, and would set a dangerous precedent elevating Hollywood’s desires over the public’s freedom.

We’re not talking about an imaginary threat here. Hollywood has already tried this sort of nonsense with the Broadcast Flag — which the FCC rejected.

Who gets to decide which outputs you can use on your home entertainment gear — the movie studios or you? File a comment with the FCC and tell them to keep Hollywood’s restrictions out of your living room.

Please file a comment with the FCC. Before you follow the link, you may want to select and copy this sample text:

Dear Chairman Genachowski,

I urge you to deny the MPAA’s request seeking waiver of Section 76.1903 of the Commission’s rules. This waiver would allow studios to engage in “selectable output control,” or “SOC.” SOC would let Hollywood decide remotely which outputs I could use on the cable box and recording devices in my home. The waiver would take freedom away from people using these devices, would restrict people using free (as in freedom) software like MythTV to make and watch recordings, and would set a dangerous precedent against the public’s interest.

People have a basic right to not be controlled by the technology they use. Hollywood and set-top box manufacturers already violate this right by imposing Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) and proprietary software on the public. If you granted the waiver, you would be giving them even more power to trample on our rights.

Now that audio and video are a natural part of how people communicate, the ability to record, archive, share, and remix audio and video is essential to free speech, political debate and cultural participation. Hollywood and the MPAA are pushing these restrictions because they want a world where they are free to communicate with us, but where we cannot freely communicate with each other. The FCC represents the public, not Hollywood. Don’t give them more power to restrict our freedom to use media or to participate in politics and culture.

As I understand it, the FCC also considers things like convenience, affordability, and economic impact in making its decisions. Other people have presented you with persuasive evidence that SOC will needlessly inconvenience viewers, will unfairly require the purchase of new equipment in order to watch certain movies, and will raise the price of basic equipment. But these questions should not even be considered when the cost is the public’s freedom. Even if Hollywood does find a cost-effective and convenient way to enforce these restrictions, they should still be rejected.

I urge you to deny Hollywood’s waiver request.


Don’t Listen Alone the LUGRadio Story

Last year LugRadio wrapped up after five seasons, over 2million downloads and six live events. For over a year Tony Whitmore from the ubuntu-uk Podcast has been working on a documentary chronicling the history of the show, and packed with interviews, behind-the-scenes footage of how the show was planned, the studio, LugRadio Live USA and more. He premiered the hour-long documentary at LugRadio Live 2009 to resounding applause and acclaim, and it is now available online, and freely available under a Creative Commons License.

“Don’t Listen Alone: author: Tony Whitmore License: CC-BY-SA

How to Free the High School kids of New South Wales

Author: threethirty Member 0 NumberedHumanIndustries
More info:

License: Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License (CC-BY)
More Info:

G’day kids, I recently found out that no one trusts you, not your teachers, not your principals, not your parents…
but hey I do. Before you start wondering “So who is this bloke?” I’m one of those pain in the butt hippie types your parents don’t want you talking to, and why am I doing this? Because I’m 24 years old, in one year no one should trust me (never trust anyone over the age of 25) so I had better get this in now.

Ok so Lenovo and the Department of Education and Training provided laptop “personal” computers to you guys and your teachers. I put personal in quotes because that’s crap. They are not personal computers they are personnel computers, as in someone else has control over them. They have installed some of the same type of software on there that if it was put there under any other circumstance it would be called “Spyware”. This is not good no matter what they tell

Two examples of the “innovative technologies” introduced by Lenovo with the IdeaPad S10e (which you all received) include “advanced network security and remote manageability tools”. Advanced network security tools prevent users (that’s you kids) from accessing unauthorized internet content and control access to NSW DET networks. This means not only can they keep you off of Myspace and Facebook, but they can watch what sites you are allowed to go to.

Remote manageability tools allow NSW DET to remotely monitor and manage the devices on demand, wherever they are located, maximizing their efficiency and effectiveness. This means that even when you are at home the DET can spy on you, fun huh?

The Lenovo IdeaPad S10e features ground breaking theft protection features such as hardware level reporting, retrieval and remote disabling functions and RFID tagging. The Lenovo IdeaPad S10e presents a zero value theft proposition thereby removing any incentive for them to be stolen and protecting the students and teachers that use them. This is all marketing speak, what it really means is that they can break your new cool laptop and RFID is a tracking system created by the manufacturing industry to track pallets. Guess what kids you are not people, you are property. And these are not features that will keep you safe. Anyone can track you with $100USD (yeah I’m an American) worth the hardware that you can buy online. The only way I know of to kill a RFID is to microwave it… and that’s a bad idea, it will kill the laptop and get you in heaps of trouble. But I do know what you can do. If you are worried about someone tracking you on your way to and from school and stuff like that, wrap the whole laptop in Aluminium Foil it will block all of the signals going in or out.

There is this thing called Linux. It runs on cellphones, servers, computers, all kinds of stuff. It also doesn’t have to be installed on your laptop to be able to use it. You can install it on a USB “thumb” drive, which is pretty cool.

If you go to it will tell you how to install it on your thumbdrive. Yeah it
looks a little hard but I promise it isn’t, just follow the instructions and it will work. Just make sure you
download the Windows version of unetbootin. In unetbootin there are several different kinds (also known as distributions) of Linux listed. I have had great success with Ubuntu and Fedora, but any of the ones listed should be good also.

What this will do is let you use the computer without letting the DET spy on you, and wont mess up the computer so while you are at school you can do all the stuff they want you too with out getting in trouble. This works because it uses the thumbdrive as a harddrive so the bigger the space on the thumbdrive the more stuff you can install and store on there!

If you want some more tips and ideas on how to be a pain in the butt with technology have a look at Cory Doctorow’s book Little Brother which you can get for free here

Update on FreeGeek-Richmond and Software Freedom Day

Well, I had my shindig pretty well planned out,and then I found out that the room we are moving FG-R into has a minor mold problem.  So we won’t have the room ready to go before September 19.  Which sucks but does not ruin my spirit.  So instead of getting the people to come to me I’m going to the people.  I will be up at the crack of dawn or so; on my feet or, on a bike riding throughout town with my SFD balloons attached to mysellf and my bike.  I’m gonna try to focus my efforts on WalMart and downtown.  So if you see me give me a friendly hong and hang out for a bit and get yourself an ubuntu cd.  I hope to be uploading media all day (wimax woot!) See you then!

Thoughts on RMS’ “How the Swedish Pirate Party Platform Backfires on Free Software”

I have just read RMS’ “How the Swedish Pirate Party Platform Backfires on Free Software” and I’m still formulating my opinion on this but in general I am ABSOLUTELY  against the way copyright is done currently.  When Copyright was introduced to America it was a “Creators Monopoly” and only lasted 14 years.  The originators thought that was more than ample time for you to create something,  make back the money that it cost you in creation, and fund you next idea.  I also think that is more than enough time.

No matter what DRM is evil and douchbaggary

More thoughts to come [as soon as I have them :)]

I really want to see @doctorow and @lessig weigh in on this 🙂

HTML5 video tags have a power level over 9000

My brother showed me this post at on how to do the much bitched about html5 video tags. So I totally had to do it, and I did.

Here is my page

The cool thing is that you can have it degrade codecs and and even all the way to flash. The first (intro) video is this way, but the rest are theora/vorbis file (yeay freedom!) So here is a little howto.

First You need a place to store the vids that you can link to. If you have dropbox you could put the vids in your public folder and link there.

To have a just theora/vorbis vid (because you love freedom) the code looks like this:


To have a theora/vorbis vid that degrades to mpeg4 the code looks like this:

Now if you need it to degrade all the way to flash (puke) then it would look like this:

ok that is the long and short of it. Not bad at all but you need to have Firefox 3.5 and some versions of Opera/Chrome/and possibly Safari with some extra codecs that screws the whole idea.

**EDIT: ok so I’m not smart enough to get the code to show up so just check out the mozilla hack page I was just copying from them anyway 🙂

FLHL looking for Freesoftware Adverts

The guys at the Free Linux Help Line ( are looking for Ads to run between segments of their soon to be podcast. So do you know of a Distro, App, Event, or Podcast that is or is about Free Software? Well if you can condense you enthusiasm into 30 seconds or so then send them to Ep 0 is scheduled for January 10th.

How much do YOU love Freedom?

My brother and I were discussing Software Freedom, well I was being a zealot and he was being somewhat intelligent in his discussion. After this discussion I got a message on facebook telling me to install a thing called vrms. So I did. For those of you who don’t know,

vrms (Virtual Richard M. Stallman) is a program that will analyze the set of currently-installed packages on a Debian-based system, and report all of the packages from the non-free tree which are currently installed.

Note that vrms is not limited to Debian systems only (which means that it also works with Debian-derived distributions such as Ubuntu). It is also not limited to Linux-based systems.

Future versions of vrms will include an option to also display text from the public writings of RMS and others that explain why use of each of the installed non-free packages might cause moral issues for some in the Free Software community. This functionality is not yet included.
(via wikipedia)

so here is the output on my Gutsy Beta box:

three@CondorV2:~$ vrms
Non-free packages installed on CondorV2

human-icon-theme Human Icon theme
linux-generic Complete Generic Linux kernel
linux-restricted-modules- Non-free Linux 2.6.22 modules on x86/x86_64
linux-restricted-modules- Non-free Linux 2.6.22 modules on x86/x86_64
linux-restricted-modules- Non-free Linux 2.6.22 modules helper script
linux-restricted-modules- Restricted Linux modules for generic kernels
nvidia-glx-new NVIDIA binary XFree86 4.x/X.Org ‘new’ driver
tangerine-icon-theme Tangerine Icon theme

8 non-free packages, 0.7% of 1170 installed packages.

so that means that I am 99.2% free, how much do you love freedom?