Before Linux.com went dark late last year, it was one of the most visited open source news aggregation and discussion sites. As you may recall, word got this March that the Linux Foundation had taken Linux.com over, and was committed to making it bigger, better and richer than before. Further to that goal, it set up "Ideaforge," to tap the developer and user communities to learn what they in an on-line resource to make the Linux ecosystem more successful and satisfying for all involved.
After months of effort behind the scenes, and some pretty impressive Web design, the Linux Foundation delivered on that promise last night. What you'll find there is something that's different from anything that's ever existed before - an interactive, growing, feature and content rich resource that can help you hone your skills, find a job, assemble a Linux-based system, and, of course, access the most up to date news, blogs and ideas about open source software in general, and Linux in particular. What it's all about can be summed up in just six words: For the community, by the community. And if you read this blog, that includes you.
It was an interesting trip, in all, providing a cascade of often starkly diverse images. How varied a range? On the natural grandeur list, I would add spectacular sunsets, wildernesses of soaring, broken redrock, and broad vistas of pristine desert.
And at the opposite end of the spectrum, I might begin with the sights that greeted me when I crossed the Colorado early in the trip, and threaded my way through the 27th Annual Laughlin River Run, a meet that draws over 40,000 leather-clad, mostly aging bikers to what Motorcycle-usa.com calls, “one of the more popular events on the West Coast rally scene, packing bikini contests, custom bike shows, demo rides, poker runs, freak shows and tattoo contests into four-days of 24/7 fun.” I can attest to the fact that it also packs in what is presumably one of the largest assemblages of multi-story, inflatable Jim Beam bottle and Budweiser can replicas to be found anywhere in one place.
The southwestern landscape hosts a variety of signature geologic forms, some of which have become iconic as the backdrops for countless western movies. If you should find yourself channel surfing late tonight, a single frame of a mesa, butte, spire or hoodoo will instantly lock you on to the genre, even before the dusty characters ride into view.
The desert rock garden is a less well known type, but it will be familiar to anyone who has spent any time knocking about the southwest, and around Arizona in particular. Unlike the angular, striated spires and hoodoos that erode out of sedimentary formations, rock gardens are more often volcanic in origin than not, usually granitic, and rounded in form, characteristically resembling enormous blowups of the sand dribbles that a child makes at the beach by allowing a slurry of water and sand to slip through her fingers.
Long-time readers will know that whenever I can, I disappear into the desert for as long as I can. Often, the opportunity arises to cadge a lift out west on the back of a business trip, and so it is that I write this in northwestern Arizona a couple days after spending a day in a conference room buried deep within the bowels of the raucus, random, blaring, unworldly nonsense that is otherwise known as the Mandalay Bay Casino and Resort, Las Vegas, Nevada.
Some of the nonsense worked to my favor, or at least amusement, as my $143.95 room was somehow traded up into a penthouse suite on the 62nd floor of the hotel – a suite that was bigger than the first floor of my admittedly small house, with 18 foot ceilings, a wall of glass behind motorized drapes, bar, living room, two bathrooms (one palatial), four flat screen TV sets (more than I have owned of any type in my entire life), and no coffee maker.
The service the lawyer renders is his professional knowledge and skill, but the commodity he sells is time — Reginald Heber Smith, inventor of the billable hour
Both reviled and ubiquitous, the billable hour is the roach of the legal world — Douglas McCollam, writing in the American Lawyer
Let's imagine that you would like to have your dilapidated, wood-sided house painted. The southern exposure is peeling, the soffits sport dark Rorschach patterns of mildew, and more than a few window sills have that uncomfortably punky feel to the touch that whispers "we're rotting — you must help us." You know that you can't put off facing the music any longer, and hope that the impact on your wallet will be no more painful than absolutely necessary.
So you do what any rational homeowner would — you get some referrals from people you trust, call the folks they recommend, and tell each of them that you'll be soliciting several bids. While you're at it, you also call the painter who, as luck would have it, had dropped a flyer in your mailbox that very afternoon.
Over the next week each housepainter stops by after work, walks around your house, scribbles a few notes, and promises to get back to you with a quote. Within a week, most of them actually do. Like any homeowner would, you select the cheapest, failing to note that it came from the painter you found through the flyer. Soon, the job is done, and he drops by to collect the agreed upon amount. Pleased, you pay him on the spot.
What a nice, logical system, especially for the buyer. You know just what you'll have to pay before you commit to pay it, and gain the benefit of competitive bidding as well. You'd be crazy to take on such a large financial commitment any other way, wouldn't you?
Any old standards hand forced to choose the single most disputed issue in standard setting over the past decade would likely respond with a deceivingly simple question: "What does it mean to be an 'open standard?'" A similar debate rages in the open source community between those that believe that some licenses (e.g., the BSD, MIT and Apache licenses) are "open enough," while others would respond with an emphatic Hell No! (or less printable words to similar effect).
That's not too surprising, because the question of what "open" means subsumes almost every other categorical question that information and communications technology (ICT) standards and open source folk are likely to disagree over, whether they be economic (should a vendor be able to be implement a standard free of charge, or in free and open source software (FOSS) licensed under a version of the General Public License (GPL)); systemic (are standards adopted by ISO/IEC JTC 1 "better" than those that are not); or procedural (must the economic and other terms upon which a necessary patent claim can be licensed be disclosed early in the development process)?
The reason why this background level of disagreement is relevant today is because the Obama Administration has pledged to use technology to bring an "unprecedented" level of transparency and interaction in governmentto the people. If that's going to happen, though, it means that the platforms that the new administration adopts to provide open government will have to be open as well. Which brings us at last to the question of just what, exactly, "open" should mean, when it comes to "open government."
It's said that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, but I guess being the kind of organization that people love to leak news about might be the next. That seems to be the case with the Linux Foundation, which for the second time in a matter of weeks has seen an enterprising reporter scoop the opposition (and our own internal planning) by releasing a story ahead of our planned schedule. Who knew that an open source foundation could attract paparazzi?
Last time, it was Steven Vaughn-Nichols announcing our acquisition of the Linux.com site, and this time it's the New York Times (no less) announcing a day ahead of time the fact that the Linux Foundation has taken over stewardship of Intel's Linux-based Moblin mobile operating system. If you've been following the mobile space for awhile, this is news worth noting, on which more below.
It would be an understatement to observe that Microsoft's patent suit against Dutch GPS vendor company TomTom has been closely watched. Why? Because Microsoft alleges that several of the patents at issue are infringed by TomTom's implementation of the Linux kernel. In this first month of the dispute, the most urgent question has been this: will TomTom fight or fold? Now we have the answer: TomTom has decided to fight - and perhaps fight hard. Yesterday, it brought its own suit against Microsoft in a Virginia court, alleging that Microsoft is guilty of infringing several of TomTom's own patents.
The question that many Linux supporters are now asking is this: is this good news for Linux, or bad? Here are my thoughts on that important question.
This morning I got an email from a regular Standards Blog reader with some unwelcome news - he informed me that the RSS, Atom and other feeds at my blog were dead, and that he hadn't gotten a new posting notice in a month. Sigh. Not the type of email you like to get, so I'm hoping that this posting reaches everyone that it's supposed to.
The reason for the problem is that the developer that supports ConsortiumInfo.org has been upgrading the version of Geeklog upon which this site is based. Unfortunately, it hasn't been going well at all, in part because the developer isn't familiar with Geeklog, and in part, frankly, because they aren't checking the things that they should as they make changes (like syndication feeds). Complicating things is the fact that this is a "second generation" blog, which began as home-grown software. Later, it was migrated to Geeklog when I wanted to make it more sophisticated than the original setup could support (e.g., by adding the News Picks to the right). Along the way, a few weirdnesses were built in, all of which (naturally) are undocumented. So it's been a challenge to the guy who has tried to figure it all out.
I chose Geeklog in part because it's a really powerful tool, but also because it's the product of a FOSS project application. Given that I write a lot about FOSS, I thought I ought to b e using FOSS to support this blog (that "walk the talk" thing). That's had some downsides, though, because Geeklog is a developer's tool, and not a mass-market application. Consequently, so far as I'm aware, the type of "Geeklog for Idiots" user manual that would be very useful to someone like me just doesn't exist. On the other hand, the Geeklog community has been great about answering the questions my developer has posted at the Geeklog site.
As a result, if anyone out there is a Geeklog ace and would be willing to answer my questions from time to time, that would be great, and would save me a lot of grief, as it would help me become a more efficient and productive Geeklog user, without having to run up my developer tab. It would also save me a lot of heartache.
Economic downturns have a tendency to accelerate emerging technologies, boost the adoption of effective solutions, and punish solutions that are not cost competitive or that are out of synch with industry trends.
So begins a new white paper from research analyst IDC. History supports the logic of the statement, but applying the same logic to predict the future is a dangerous game. Having good starting data can help considerably in that regard, though, and that's what makes this report interesting. Its title is Linux Adoption in a Global Recession, and it marshals some impressive data to predict that Linux will be a significant gainer, while others are punished by the current global meltdown.
The report bases that conclusion in part on its finding that: "Linux users are clearly satisfied about their choice to deploy Linux, and during trying economic times, the potential for those same customers to ramp up their deployment of Linux is strong." In other words, unlike the last recession, in which the free OS had to establish itself in environments where it had never been deployed before (its market share increased dramatically anyway), this time it need only increase its beachhead among existing users in order to post impressive gains. But IDC predicts that it will also do quite well with new, missionary sales as well, promising that this time around, its competitive position should strengthen as well as broaden - including on the desktop.
Quote of the Day
“It’s time to treat our digital ecosystem the way we do public health”
Introducing TODO: Working together to make open source easier Facebook Engineering Blog September 19, 2014 - Today at @Scale 2014 we joined a number of other companies in launching a new open source collaboration called TODO. The group — whose name is a backronym for “talk openly, develop openly” — was formed to address the challenges that companies like ours have encountered in consuming open source software and running open source programs.
We'll have more to share about our plans in the coming weeks, but our overall goal in this collaboration is to make open source easier for everyone. We want to run better, more impactful open source programs in our own companies; we want to make it easier for people to consume the technologies we open source; and we want to help create a roadmap for companies that want to create their own open source programs but aren't sure how to proceed.
Initial members of TODO include Box, Dropbox, GitHub, Google, Khan Academy, Stripe, Square, Twitter, and Walmart Labs.... ...Full Story
Cybersecurity and the electric grid Marvin T. Griff Intelligent Utility September 19, 2014 - A computer storing operating cost data for the Midcontinent Independent System Operator Inc., power network extending from the Midwest to the Gulf Coast was compromised this summer. Within the past two years, sophisticated cyber-attacks...gained access to U.S. and European power networks. These and other recent cyber intrusions highlight the persistent risk confronting the U.S. electricity grid....Elected officials and regulators have stepped up efforts to address cyber intrusionthreats. In February of this year, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) unveiled the Cybersecurity Framework for reducing cyber risks to critical infrastructure. The voluntary Framework, with its origins in President Obama’s February 2013 Executive Order, is intended to reduce cybersecurity vulnerabilities through a risk-based approach to improve cybersecurity practices....cybersecurity for the electric sector has historically been a concern that was the responsibility of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC), which assesses the Critical Infrastructure Protection (CIP) reliability standards developed by the North American Electric Reliability Corporation (NERC). Those standards focus on the bulk, or interstate transmission, portion of the electric system. Since 2007, FERC has shared responsibilities under the Energy Independence and Security Act with NIST to coordinate the development and adoption of smart grid guidelines and standards, including those directed at cybersecurity for the remainder of the grid.
The electric power industry is the only critical infrastructure industry in the U.S. with mandatory and enforceable cyber standards. The Energy Policy Act of 2005 gives FERC the authority to oversee the reliability of the bulk power system. FERC must approve all reliability standards or modifications proposed by NERC. But FERC cannot modify proposed standards; it can only direct NERC to submit a proposed standard or modification or to change one it find unacceptable.... ...Full Story
New DisplayPort 1.3 standard supports 5K monitors Agam Shah PCWorld September 19, 2014 - Monitors and TVs supporting 4K resolution are just arriving, but the new DisplayPort 1.3 is already looking forward to 5K resolution.
The new DisplayPort standard, announced by Video Electronics Standards Association, will replace the existing 1.2a standard. The new standard will connect computers to 5K monitors that display images at a resolution of 5120 x 2880 pixels.
DisplayPort is widely used in businesses to connect PCs to external monitors, and competes with HDMI (high-definition multimedia interface connector)....DisplayPort 1.3 is 50 percent faster than its predecessor, and has the speed to support higher-resolution displays beyond 4K. It will also support multiple 4K monitors at 60 frames per second, VESA said in a statement.... ...Full Story
Efficient XML Interchange (EXI) Profile for limiting usage of dynamic memory is a W3C Recommendation Press Release W#C.org September 18, 2014 - The EXI Working Group published the Efficient XML Interchange (EXI) Profile for limiting usage of dynamic memory as W3C Recommendation. EXI 1.0 is a very efficient format to represent an XML Information Set. It is highly customizable to fit the need of diverse use cases, ranging from B2B applications down to embedded-systems use. It satisfies compactness and processing efficiency requirements, while preserving all the information contained in the XML InfoSet. As a representation of XML, it is by design naturally extensible.... ...Full Story
MIG and IEEE SA produce new standard for IoT, e-health, connected vehicle, aug. reality Press Release IEEE.org September 22, 2014 - IEEE announced the availability of the IEEE 2700-2014 “Standard for Sensor Performance Parameter Definitions,” recently approved by the IEEE Standards Association (IEEE-SA) Standards Board. With sensors being one of the primary technologies to help improve the lives of every connected person in the world, IEEE 2700-2014 is intended to provide a common methodology for specifying sensor performance in the ever-expanding sensor technologies in the consumer electronics industry....The IEEE 2700-2014 fulfills the need for a common methodology to define sensor performance, and eases non-scalable integration challenges and burdens across manufacturers. Because sensor framework and technology span not only sensor vendors and ISVs, there are numerous types of sensors that require specification terminology, units, conditions and limits, including: accelerometers, magnetometers, gyrometers/gyroscopes, barometers/pressure sensors, hygrometers/humidity sensors, temperature sensors, ambient light sensors and proximity sensors.... ...Full Story
Global security association helps translate NIST framework Dan Verton FedScoop September 18, 2014 - The Information Security Forum, a U.K.-based association of leading companies from around the world, released a “mapping” document Monday that for the first time helps companies that currently use the ISF’s standard of good practice—known simply as the standard—to guide their information security programs to know if they are in compliance with the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology’s cybersecurity framework....ISF’s standard of good practice is one of the most comprehensive guides for information security in the world. More than half of ISF’s 300 member companies are included in the Fortune 500 and span more than a dozen countries.... ...Full Story
'Open and Libre Office projects should reunite' Gijs Hillenius EU Joinup September 18, 2014 - The software developers working on Apache OpenOffice and LibreOffice - two closely related suites of open source office productivity tools - should overcome their schism and unite to compete with the ubiquitous proprietary alternative, urges Daniel Brunner, head of the IT department of Switzerland's Federal Supreme Court. Merging the two projects will convince more public administrations to use the open source office suite, he believes.
The current division between the two groups risks creating more instead of less incompatibilities, Brunner warned last week, speaking at the LibreOffice conference, which took place in the Swiss city of Bern. "I had to test this presentation in both suites, to see if it would work."
The Swiss Federal Supreme Court uses OpenOffice, but according to Brunner would benefit from the improved document filters that are available in LibreOffice. However, the former suite is more stable and is available on mobile computing platforms, he says, while the latter benefits from a bigger community of developers, introducing more new features.... ...Full Story
TC260 Releases Two Critical Information Security Cloud Computing Standards USITO.org Weekly September 17, 2014 - According to an official statement on the Technical Committee 260 (TC260) website, two important national standards for cloud computing have officially been released and approved by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) and the Standardization Administration of China (SAC):
- "Information Security Technology - Security Capability Requirements of Cloud Computing Services" (GB/T 31168-2014)
- "Information Security Technology - Security Guide of Cloud Computing Services" (GB/T 31167-2014)... ...Full Story
Patents and Standards, or: How a Court Case Will Affect Our Everyday Lives Philipp Maume CircleID September 17, 2014 - ...Unnoticed by the wider public, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU) in the case Huawei v. ZTE will be hearing argument on 11 September on an issue important for the continued viability of open standards. The case will examine conditions under which an owner of a patent covering one aspect of the standard essential technology can seek an injunction which will most likely result in the entire standard becoming blocked. The CJEU's ruling may have far-reaching impact not just on the telecommunication standard at issue, but also on technology available to consumers....The pivotal question being presented to the CJEU is this: Can an SEP holder who made a FRAND commitment as part of a standardization process thereafter seek to block a user's access to his standard-essential technology, if that user has declared its willingness to negotiate and take a license on FRAND terms.... ...Full Story
NIST Helps Develop New Standard for Microsensor Technology NIST Techbeat September 17, 2014 - The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has contributed to the development of a new standard for defining the performance of micromechanical sensors—a field that is expected to expand rapidly in coming decades as these versatile sensors increasingly become part of electronic networks.
The IEEE 2700-2014 Standard for Sensor Performance Parameter Definitions, now available from the IEEE Standards Association, provides a common methodology for specifying the performance of microelectromechanical systems (MEMS) in the consumer electronics industry. The standard includes specifications for a wide range of devices, including accelerometers, gyroscopes, barometers and proximity sensors....MEMS are a class of tiny machines, typically far less than a millimeter in size, that combine moving parts or sensors with electronic components. MEMS already are used widely, for example, as motion detectors in tablet computers or as triggers for automobile collision airbags. Their use is expected to grow as sensing devices on buildings, vehicles and elsewhere are linked to computer networks to create the “Internet of Things.” The diversity of these sensing devices demands new industry standards to ensure their compatibility.... ...Full Story