WikiLeaks Founder Julian Assange is Launching a TV Chat Show

We humans love controversy, and Julian Assange knows that. Just last year, he turned the world upside down unraveling one mystery after another through WikiLeaks. He unmasked governments, shady companies, heavy bank accounts and went on to become the most wanted man in the world. The man became the face of investigative journalism, and now, he wants to base a business around it. Julian Assange is planning to launch a TV show, which will give a new medium to the same old content, which he has mastered in delivery.

This statement from WikiLeaks simplifies what the show intends to do.

…draw together controversial voices from across the political spectrum – iconoclasts, visionaries and power insiders – each to offer a window on the world tomorrow.

Quick Roll Productions are producing the show with a commitment of over 600 million viewers across cable, terrestrial broadcast and satellite. The US Government has been investigating into WikiLeaks and Assange for over 500 days now, which has made him into a revolutionary figure, worldwide.

Julian Assange’s personal statement about the TV show stands as

Through this series, I will explore the possibilities for our future in conversations with those who are shaping it. Are we heading towards utopia, or dystopia and how we can set our paths? This is an exciting opportunity to discuss the vision of my guests in a new style of show that examines their philosophies and struggles in a deeper and clearer way than has been done before.

The series will start airing in March, and has ten episodes initially, planned for weekly release. This series will urge people to rethink the way the world is working currently, and what needs to be done to save it from a collapse. The way WikiLeaks shook the foundation of some governments and unraveled their diplomatic dirt, this show will be hugely popular. This show will only address our insatiable desire for conspiracies, but then, who does not like conspiracies?

Google Open Sources Sky Maps in Collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University

Back in 2009, when Android phones were not that powerful in hardware, there were very few apps as interesting as Google Sky Maps. Google Sky Maps was one of the best 20% projects at Google. However, the app always stayed a part of the 20% projects, and failed to gain popularity. It was launched in May 2009 for Android phones, and has been an astronomy-enthusiast’s favorite app. Our in-house science-geek Debjyoti speaks of Google Sky Maps as

The ancients have got to be jealous; you can now see the map of the entire Universe on your android phone, thanks to Google Sky Map.

Seeing stagnant growth for years, Google has decided to stop working on Google Sky Maps, and donate the app to the Carnegie Mellon University for further development. This is a welcome move in that they did not decide to kill it instead.

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At Carnegie Mellon University, Google Sky Maps will be developed as a series of student projects. This will give students something to boast of, as well as ensure development of this stagnant product. Google Research blog announced this news, saying,

Today, we are delighted to announce that we are going to share Sky Map in a different way: we are donating Sky Map to the community. We are collaborating with Carnegie Mellon University in an exciting partnership that will see further development of Sky Map as a series of student projects.

This has sparked an intriguing discussion on Slashdot, on whether we can rely on 3rd-party cloud services for creating our applications. With Google withdrawing many of its services like Picnik and Needlebase, there is no guarantee that other providers will find it necessary to make their services available continuously. Only if you are lucky enough, like in case of Google Sky Maps or App Inventor, Google makes them open source and available for further development. However, if the services fails to gain popularity, Google decides to kill it with a few months’ notice, and those few months is all you have to shift base, in case you have based your business around that service.

Reddit and Y Combinator Want to Take the Censorship Battle to the Entertainment Industry

For the last few years, the entertainment industry has been trying its level best to censor the Internet. It has been pushing the US government to pass arbitrary laws, which have less to do with piracy and more to do with controlling free speech. The matter is getting worse, with their bills getting more stringent and harder to oppose. A draconian bill like SOPA, which never should have been considered, required a massive protest to be rescheduled and dropped later! Censorship bills are created every few months, with backing from the media-industry lobbyists. If the anti-censorship opposition grows weak anytime, a censorship bill passes without doubt. This is a delicate balance, which we have come to accept. Finally, Reddit and Y Combinator have decided that it is time to stop fighting the small battles and address the root cause- the entertainment industry.

The first time I saw this idea springing up on a website was at “The best page in the universe” [mildly NSFW].

Instead of changing your Facebook icon to an anti-SOPA image for a day or two, here’s something you can do that might make a real difference: boycott the companies that supported this legislation. There are too many to boycott all of them effectively, so I propose we pick two or three, hit them, and hit them hard. Punish them for putting their interests above ours.

As suggested above, both Reddit and Y Combinator are gearing up against the entertainment industry in their own fashion.

Reddit is looking to boycott movies made by the top six recording studios, namely Walt Disney, Sony, Paramount, Fox, Universal and Warner Brothers. A huge discussion has started outlining the strategy and inventory for the battle.

Make [it] look professional instead of like a handful of angry nerds using rage faces and MS paint to call the MPAA [names]. It would be hard to blame piracy when a single studio starts to sink and a boycott announced weeks before said it was going to happen.

At the same time, popular startup-funding firm Y Combinator has decided to fund startups that will compete with movies and TV shows.

What’s going to kill movies and TV is what’s already killing them: better ways to entertain people. So the best way to approach this problem is to ask yourself: what are people going to do for fun in 20 years instead of what they do now?

The entire SOPA fiasco was an eye opener, both for the Internet (severe censorship bills) and for the entertainment industry (strong protests). Perhaps, it really should get worse before it gets better. Only time will tell how this ends.

Megaupload Shutdown by Feds, Proves Further That SOPA is a Dud Bill, Anonymous Retaliates

Soon after the Internet community pinned down SOPA, the feds went after Megaupload and brought it down. Megaupload is one of the world’s most popular file-sharing websites. It has been charged with over $500 million in losses over piracy of music, movies and TV shows. This is one of the largest criminal copyright cases, and the Justice Department along with the FBI has been prompt in bringing it to a closure. Surprisingly, they did not need to use anything like SOPA in this case. This proves that there is enough law for taking down apparently rogue websites. SOPA is absolutely unnecessary and hence, unwelcome.

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The founder of Megaupload Kim Dotcom, along with three others, was arrested at New Zealand, on request by US authorities. Megaupload was one of the 18 domains owned by Kim Dotcom and his company, and all of them were seized following raids on their three datacenters. However, this domain-seizure and arrest came as a surprise, because a few days ago, Kim made a bold statement in an interview with TorrentFreak.

Mega has nothing to fear. Our business is legitimate and protected by the DMCA and similar laws around the world. We work with the best lawyers and play by the rules. We take our legal obligations seriously. Mega’s war chest is full and we have strong supporters backing us.

The position on file-sharing websites has always been a controversial one in the anti-piracy debate. NY Times puts it into fine words saying,

Megaupload and similar sites, like Rapidshare and Mediafire, are often promoted as convenient ways to legitimately transfer large files; a recent promotional video had major stars like Will.i.am of the Black Eyed Peas singing Mega-upload’s praises. But they have become notorious inside media companies, which see the legitimate uses as a veil concealing extensive theft.

In the midst of all this ballyhoo, Anonymous rose in protest against the Megaupload shutdown, and brought down the Justice Department website for a brief period. They also attacked the MPAA, RIAA and Universal Music Group websites.

Do not forget to read some interesting traffic stats for Megaupload.

Linux Foundation Predicts a Rocking Year for Linux in the Enterprise Sector

Linux has tried gaining a respectable position (by market-share) in the desktop world, and has failed for years. Apparently, not many people want to use Linux until they have something specific to do with Linux. Linux is not the first choice for many and this second-class status is going to stay as long as OEMs keep choosing Windows to be shipped with their laptops and desktops.

open-source

However, nothing beats Linux when it comes to the enterprise sector. The enterprise sector is the playground of Linux, and its adoption has been on a constant rise in this sector. Recently, the Linux Foundation revealed some trends, gathered from a survey conducted among enterprise users. There has been a rapid growth for data handled by the enterprise sector, and Linux is their first choice for handling big data requirements.

In the survey, over 80% of the enterprise users have expected an increase in the number of Linux-based over the next five years. However, a welcome change is the survey on perceived technical-barriers in these deployments, which has dropped to 12.2% from 20.3% last year. As always, more than 2/3rd of the participants considered Linux safer than other operating systems. The top three reasons for adopting Linux were:

  • Lower cost
  • More features
  • Security
  • In-house talent pool
  • No vendor lock-in
  • Openness

The 428 participants in the survey were employees of companies with $500 million in sales, or an employee-strength of over 500. It would be wonderful if this survey result translates into market-penetration.

You can get a copy of the survey result, at Linux Foundation.

World IPv6 Day Will Be Back This June, and It Will Be Here to Stay

At a time when IPv4 reserves are running scarce, IPv6 is the only way out. IPv4 reserves dropped to 5% in October 2010 and it has been more than a year since then. Clearly, many companies are already using IPv6 and as it seems, they are ready for the transition to IPv6. A number of Internet-giants gave IPv6 a trial on June 8 last year too, which helped them test their networks with IPv6 and gain some valuable insight.

ipv6-launch

We will know soon when Akamai, Facebook, Google and Yahoo will participate in the first global trial of IPv6 on June 8. With their distributed servers spread all over the world, these companies will form the ideal testing ground and will churn up some useful real-time data.

Following last year’s experiment, this year they are planning a World IPv6 day on June 6. However, they will not return to using IPv4 as they did last time this experiment was performed. Clearly, this is not a test; it is a transition. World IPv6 launch is being promoted through a website- World IPv6 Launch, which lists out all the participants and a link to their IPv6 page.

There are over 250 participants in this transition, majority of them being large website operators. Big brands like Cisco, Google (has already deployed IPv6 internally), Microsoft, Yahoo, Comcast, AT&T, Free, Time Warner Cable and D-Link are among the participants of this mega event, and it will be a turning point in the history of Internet. However, the participants in which you should take special interest are the ISPs, namely Comcast, Free Telecom, Time Warner Cable, AT&T, Free Telecom and Internode. At the end of the day, they are the ones serving Internet connections to every household in the nation.

Schools in Kerala Save $10,000,000 Per Year, Using Open Source Software

When it comes to adoption of open-source technologies in India, Kerala is way ahead of all other states. Kerala has some of the oldest FOSS groups of this country, and they have done a wonderful job migrating (or persuading to migrate) a large part of the state’s IT administration to FOSS technologies. In October last year, the state electricity board of Kerala saved a whopping $1.6 billion in IT bills, using Open Source technologies. This time though, Kerala has made a new record in IT savings with over $10 million saved using FOSS in educational institutes.

open-source

The state of Kerala has achieved this marvelous feat by using an Open Source school management system called Fedena. The project of migration to Fedena was named Sampoorna, and it is described as

Sampoorna is the implementation of Fedena by Government of Kerala, India. Details of around 7million students from Standard 1 to 12, in over 15,000 schools in the State, will now be easily accessible to school authorities.

Other states in India have a lot to learn from Kerala. If we extrapolate from this data, we can arrive at a rough estimate of $300 million in savings if all Indian states adopt Open Source technologies, and this is considering only education! Clearly, there is a vast scope for saving IT expenses, and the Indian government should take this matter seriously.

Linux Kernel Doubles in Threee Years, Troubles Linus Torvalds

When the Linux kernel came out for the first time in September 1991, it had only 10,000 lines of code. It was elegant and was a revolutionary idea. Slowly, as it grew in popularity, the lines of code increased to 176,250 by March 1994. From there, The Linux kernel has been growing alarmingly. It reached 2.4 million lines of code in 2001, 10 million lines of code in 2008, and it will have over 15 million lines of code by its next stable release. Is this normal? Should we be worried?

This is definitely not normal growth. A large part of the Linux kernel carries code for legacy hardware. Besides that, drivers, file-systems and architecture-specific functionalities use three-fourth of the code. Documentation comments and blank lines fill more spaces. Perhaps it is the monolithic-kernel architecture of Linux, which is the reason for this bloat. It is time to revisit the Tanenbaum-Torvalds debate again.

linux-kernel-rise

Linus has already called the Linux kernel bloated earlier. This time, the real problem as spotted by Torvalds himself in an interview, is that

There are some parts in the Linux Kernel that very few people understand really well.

The only relieving news right now is that the Linux kernel version 3.0 will be a long-term release, with at least 2 years of support. Currently, this status is enjoyed by the kernel version 2.6.32 because of its use across long-term support versions of major distros.

Watch this funny video where Microsoft wishes Linux on its birthday.

SOPA Sent to an Early Grave Under Sheer Pressure from Internet Users

If you were not living under a rock for the last few months, you probably have heard about SOPA. It was a bill that would have killed the free Internet and made it a regulated and sugarcoated media of all things good! The bill was ridiculous enough to penalize entire websites for a single sensitive content that any user posted. It is time to rejoice finally, as SOPA has been withdrawn and the voice of the people has won through.

The Examiner reports this refreshing news, saying

In a surprise move today, Representative Eric Cantor(R-VA) announced that he will stop all action on SOPA, effectively killing the bill. This move was most likely due to several things. One of those things is that SOPA and PIPA met huge online protest against the bills. Another reason would be that the White House threatened to veto the bill if it had passed.

Both tech-giants and First Amendment advocates went all out against SOPA, and brought it down. In the midst of this, GoDaddy lost thousands of domains, Comcast issued a network upgrade rendering DNS blocking ineffective and Kaspersky withdrew support for SOPA. However, the strongest blow came from the White House, which finally decided to oppose SOPA, leaving the bill helpless.

SOPA was a desperate attempt by the media industry to regulate and control the Internet. Now that it is gone, all those protests should be focused against PIPA, which is another bill of the same nature as SOPA. It should face the same opposition as SOPA and meet its demise.

Ireland Gives Up On Electronic Voting Machines, Plans to Dispose of Existing Ones

The use of electronic voting machines became extremely popular during the first few years of this millennium. India started using voting machines in 2002; Ireland started testing them in 2002 and Brazil in 2005. The use of electronic voting machines has always been the topic of controversies and vulnerabilities. However, it continues to be in use at many countries in spite of the possibilities of tampering.

The Irish government spent nearly 50 million euro, buying 7000 electronic voting machines over the last decade. However, soon after testing them in 2002, it withdrew them due to security concerns. Though, India continues to use Electronic Voting Machines (EVMs) in spite of multiple proof-of-concept hacks.

Now, the Irish government wants to get rid of those 7000 useless voting machines and will float tenders for recycling or purchase of the useless machines. Apparently, the EVMs were never used, the Irish government spent a huge amount of money storing them, and now, and it is willing to sell them off for disposal after failing to find another country, which would buy them. It seems like EVMs are losing the trust of people and the sooner governments like India and Brazil stop using it, the fairer and lesser controversial their elections will be.

Check out this YouTube video of Hari Prasad talking about his experiments with the EVM.