Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Hunted The Demons Forge SKIDROW

Kororaa Linux 14

Chris Smart has announced the release of Kororaa Linux 14, a Fedora-based distribution with extra applications and user-friendly touches, available in KDE and GNOME variants: "Kororaa 14 ('Nemo') final been released for download, in 32-bit and 64-bit variants with KDE and GNOME. This version is recommended for all new installs; however, existing beta 6 users need not reinstall. Given that there were no major bugs in beta 6, this month's update brings the first final release. Work will now begin on a beta 15 Fedora remix. New features: update to KDE 4.6.3. Bug fixes: nothing noteworthy. We'd love to hear your feedback on the forums, so download it today! Here is the brief release announcement. Download (SHA256) the live DVD images for your preferred architecture from here: Kororaa-14-i686-Live-KDE.iso (1,721MB), Kororaa-14-i686-Live-GNOME.iso (1,517MB), Kororaa-14-x86_64-Live-KDE.iso (1,783MB), Kororaa-14-x86_64-Live-GNOME.iso (1,562MB).

CUPP wants to punk your x86 PC

CUPP Computing has debuted an unlocked module for x86 PCs that allows users to combine a high-performance PC processor (x86/IA) and a low-power chip (RISC/ARM) into a single platform. Oh, and yes, you can use PunkThis to run Android apps on your PC.

CUPP wants to punk your x86 PC

"PunkThis [facilitates] more practical computing with greater battery life and a more versatile set of use cases,” a company rep claimed.

"It [offers] low power applications and flexibility, with seamless access to PC processing power as needed. The PunkThis module provides over 20 hour computing in a standard netbook or 40 hours with a low power screen."

As expected, the PunkThis module fits in a standard 2.5" drive bay and features both a Mini PCIe SSD HD and a 1GHz TI OMAP ARM processor with 512MB. 

Additional specs include:

  • Two USB connections (host & USB OTG).
  • Wiring kits for solder-less installation.
  • Micro SD System Memory.
  • Mini PCIe SSD for PC C: drive.
  • Micro SD for shared drive.
  • Wifi.
  • Keyboard Controller.
  • Audio I/O.
  • Operating systems - Ubuntu, Android 2.3, Open Platform.
  • Power - 20 hour battery life in 10" Netbook; 40 hour battery life with low power screen (PixelQi).
  • PunkThis desktop enclosure - 5 USB Ports; audio I/O; DVI I/O; power SD Card; headphone jack.

My take on all this geeky goodness? 

Sure, PunkThis sounds like a really sweet concept - for devs and modders. However, I honestly doubt the module will catch on as a stand-alone device for mainstream users.

Then again, PunkThis does allow you to run Android apps on your PC, but how many people are really interested in that type of crossover - at least at this stage?

Of course, OEMs are likely to take notice and monitor implementation of PunkThis on netbook systems such as the 1015PN by Asus.

If successful, a hybrid approach to portable/mobile computing may be considered somewhat of a viable option in the future.

Frankly, I’m personally not a huge fan of all this mixing and matching - on a hardware level. I’d definitely feel more comfortable with an ARM-based system and an x86 emulator than using a system that boasted both architectures.

 Similarly, I’d also prefer a next-gen x86 mobile device with Bluestacks virtualization software to PunkThis.

Sure, maybe it would sip more power than an ARM-powered system, but eventually, x86 chips will (hopefully) be low-powered enough to justify doing away with hardware add-ons/patches/workarounds like the Punk.

SliTaz GNU/Linux Cooking 20110531

Christophe Lincoln has announced the availability of a new development build of SliTaz GNU/Linux 2011.1, a minimalist desktop Linux distribution in 30 megabytes: "The SliTaz team is proud to announce the release of a new Cooking version built with our new and fresh packages from cookutils. Cookutils is one of the new generation of tools to build SliTaz packages and provides a build bot with a nice web interface that works out-of-the-box on any SliTaz system. These new packages have been built with a new i486 optimized toolchain. The full boot process has been improved and the first boot configuration is now done through GTK+ boxes in a X session and the boot time is also faster. This version comes with a new GUI tool for system configuration as well as our new system configuration panel - TazPanel. Visit the project's news page to read the brief release announcement. Download: slitaz-cooking.iso (30.0MB, MD5).

Pardus Linux 2011.1 Beta

Gökçen Eraslan has announced the availability of the beta release of Pardus Linux 2011.1: "The Beta release of the upcoming Pardus 2011.1 is now available. Here are the basic components and their versions shipped within Pardus 2011.1 beta release: KDE Desktop Environment 4.6.3, Linux kernel, LibreOffice, Mozilla Firefox 4.0.1, X.Org Server 1.9.5, GIMP 2.6.11, GCC 4.5.3, glibc 2.12. In addition to those updates lots of bugs have been fixed, 64-bit Skype package is now in 2011 stable repository, 64-bit WINE package will be in 2011 repositories soon, YALI now has a System Rescue mode, work on 2009-2011 distribution upgrade interface is about to finish, upgrade-manager package will be provided in 2009 repositories to ease the transition.... Read the complete release announcement for further details. Download the installation or live (non-installable) DVD images from here: Pardus-2011.1-Beta-i686.iso (1,139MB, MD5), Pardus-2011.1-Beta-x86_64.iso (1,155MB, MD5), Pardus-2011.1-Beta-Live-i686.iso (1,307MB, MD5), Pardus-2011.1-Beta-Live-x86_64.iso (1,325MB, MD5).

Monday, May 30, 2011

Grml 2011.05

Michael Prokop has announced the release of Grml 2011.05, a Debian-based live system featuring a collection of GNU/Linux software especially for system administrators and users of text tools: "Grml 2011.05 with code name 'Just Mari', available in flavours grml, grml-medium and grml-small and all of them as 32-bit and 64-bit editions, has been released. New features: new Linux kernel version based on; initramfs is now XZ compressed (smaller); /run has been introduced. Important changes: iPXE has replaced gPXE; core scripts previously found in grml-scripts are now shipped as grml-scripts-core to facilitate reuse on plain Debian systems; due to popular demand, the Ratpoison window manager is included once again; grml-debootstrap adds the security repository for stable and testing installations; grml-quickconfig will be executed on grml-small...." More technical details can be found in the release notes. Download: grml_2011.05.iso (687MB, MD5, torrent), grml64_2011.05.iso (698MB, MD5, torrent).

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Parsix GNU/Linux 3.7 Test 1

Alan Baghumian has announced the availability of the first test release of Parsix GNU/Linux 3.7, a Debian-based desktop distribution featuring GNOME 2.32 and a Linux kernel patched for performance: "A new testing release of Parsix GNU/Linux is available now. This version is being released after a few months of internal and community testing and development. Parsix GNU/Linux 3.7 'Raul' is built on top of the rock-solid Debian testing branch as of Feb 7, 2011 and brings tons of updated packages. We decided to ship GNOME 2.32 with this version and GNOME 3.0 is planned for Parsix GNU/Linux 4.0. We will follow this testing release with our classic three-step development releases and are looking to release the final version in late June or early July." Visit the distribution's news page to read the brief release announcement; detailed release notes are available here. Download: parsix_3.7r0-TEST-1-i386.iso (947MB, MD5), parsix_3.7r0-TEST-1-amd64.iso (961MB, MD5).

AriOS 3.0 Beta

Mahdi Fattahi has announced the availability of a beta release of AriOS 3.0, an Ubuntu-based distribution featuring a customised GNOME 2 desktop with the Avant window navigator: "I am happy to announce that AriOS 3.0 beta is now available for download and testing. AriOS 3.0 beta is based on Ubuntu 11.04 'Natty Narwhal' and comes with a carefully designed and customized GNOME 2 session that uses the elegant Avant window navigator as the main panel (without Unity). Finding files and launching applications is handled by Synapse, the smart semantic launcher for GNU/Linux systems. A detailed and complete release announcement is in the making for the final release. These are a few of the programs you can find in AriOS (all at their latest versions as of May 27, 2011): Firefox, VLC, Nautilus Elementary, LibreOffice, GIMP, Oracle VirtualBox, Pidgin, Banshee...." Read the rest of the release announcement for additional details. Download: arios-3.0-beta-IRN.iso (1,237MB, MD5).

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Lord of the Rings: The Beatles Musical?!

I'm often fascinated hearing about movies that never got made, or earlier versions of films that didn't get the green light back in the day because we didn't have the technology to do it.

Of course Lord of the Rings took a long time to get made, the technology finally came along that it could be made convincingly, and New Line was willing to bet the entire company on making three movies, knowing it would be too hard to cram into one film.

Back in the '70's, one of my favorite directors, John Boorman (Point Blank, Deliverance, Excalibur) was going to make Lord of the Rings for United Artists, and he dedicated several pages of his autobiography, Adventures of a Suburban Boy, to when he was going to helm the project.

Yes, Boorman was working on a treatment about Merlin and the grail he showed to United Artists, who weren't interested, but they asked if he would consider Lord of the Rings. "To compress the three volumes into a three-hour movie was a hugely ambitious undertaking," Boorman recalled, "but I was grateful to have the chance to try."

Boorman worked on the script with Rospo Pallenberg, who also co-wrote Excalibur, for six months, even drawing up a map of Middle Earth. Yet as often happens in Hollywood, the executive who wanted Boorman to make the movie in the first place left the company, and no one else at the studio had read the book. "They had neither the money nor the conviction to make it." 

Lord of the Rings: The Musical?!

So Boorman took it to Disney and other studios, but no one was interested. He even tried to revive it at Tri-Star years later, but the deal fell apart when producer Saul Zaentz insisted on keeping the merchandising rights.

But here's one story Boorman doesn't have in his book, it's in Final Cut, which was written by former head of United Artists Steven Bach, who recalled that there were plans "for a multimedia musical extravaganza" that was going to star, and have a score by The Beatles! 

It fell apart when the band broke up in 1970, and Bach wrote, "The idea of Ringo Starr, say, as Frodo, has an irresistible appeal."

Bach also pointed out that The Beatles made all their movies, A Hard Day's Night, Help!, Yellow Submarine, and Let It Be, at United Artists, and the idea of making Lord of the Rings a musical with their music was former studio president David Picker's idea. 

Bach thought this was "ahead of its time and might have been inspired showmanship."

Then again, slapping thirty Beatles songs together performed by The Bee Gees and Peter Frampton in Sgt. Peppers the movie was considered a can't lose deal as well, so who knows?

Friday, May 27, 2011

Bodhi Linux 1.1.0

Jeff Hoogland has announced the release of Bodhi Linux 1.1.0, an updated version of the Ubuntu-based distribution with a customised Enlightenment desktop and now also the brand-new 2.6.39 kernel: "Two months after our 1.0.0 release the Bodhi team and I are proud to announce the availability of Bodhi Linux 1.1.0. This is the first of our quarterly scheduled update releases to keep the software on the Bodhi live CD current. The live CD includes a number of package updates including: Linux kernel 2.6.39, Enlightenment SVN build from 2011-05-23; Intel 2.15 drivers, Midori 0.3.6. The Bodhi repository also saw a number of recent package updates including Firefox 4.0.1, Chromium Browser 11 and NVIDIA driver 270.41. When booting the new live CD you will notice that the art has undergone some changes as well." Here is the full release announcement with screenshots. Download: bodhi_1.1.0.iso (382MB, MD5).

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.7 Beta

Red Hat has announced the availability of the beta release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 5.7, a new update of the RHEL 5 series: "Today, we are pleased to announce the availability of the beta version of the seventh update for Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5. This beta of RHEL 5.7 contains a number of enhancements for enterprise management, virtualization performance and data center flexibility. Also included are updates to the drivers and kernel to support Intel, AMD, POWER and IBM Mainframe hardware updates. Technical cool stuff: OpenSCAP improves security operations by verifying security configurations and vulnerability status across the infrastructure; SSSD for RHEL 5 authentication integration into the enterprise directory services; Expanded LDAP options for auto-mounted file systems...." Read the release announcement and release notes for further information. The software is available to existing RHEL subscribers through Red Hat's customer portal.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Linux Mint 11

Clement Lefebvre has announced the release of Linux Mint 11, code name "Katya": "The team is proud to announce the release of Linux Mint 11 'Katya'." This release brings improvements to software manager's user interface, new artwork, various system changes, and usability improvements to the update manager: "One of the biggest improvement made to the Update Manager is how it now handles dependencies. It only shows updates, not their dependencies. If the upgrade of a package requires additional changes to your system a dialog pops up with a summary to show you which packages will be installed or removed. This brings a permanent fix to the notorious 'Broken packages' message that used to appear before." Read the release announcement, release notes and what's new page for further details. Download (SHA256): linuxmint-11-gnome-dvd-32bit.iso (867MB, torrent), linuxmint-11-gnome-dvd-64bit.iso (864MB, torrent).

Zenwalk Linux 7.0 "GNOME"

Frederic Boulet has announced the release of Zenwalk Linux 7.0 "GNOME" edition, a Slackware-based distribution featuring the GNOME 2.32 desktop: "We are proud to provide Zenwalk GNOME 7.0 based on GNOME 2.32.1. It is the last step before going to GNOME 3.0. Zenwalk GNOME keeps the same way as the standard Zenwalk edition, a clean and clear desktop. Hal support is removed, NetworkManager is preferred instead of wicd, Rhythmbox is also introduced as the default music player and CD grabber, Viewnior is used as a fast and quick viewer of pictures, and Simple Scan replaces XSane to scan documents. As usual, most packages have been updated to the latest stable version: NetworkManager 0.8.4, gedit 2.30.4, Nautilus, Rhythmbox 0.13.3, Viewnior 1.1, Simple Scan, gThumb 2.12.3, LibreOffice 3.3.1, Linux kernel with BFS scheduler and performance tweaks." Here is the brief release announcement. Download: zenwalk-gnome-7.0.iso (665MB, MD5).

HTC tries to be serious about its bootloader policy

HTC's popular Evo 3D smartphone may be locked, but the handset manufacturer insists a review of its fortress-like bootloader policy is ongoing.

"Thanks so much for providing feedback, we hear your concerns. Your satisfaction is a top priority for us and we're working hard to ensure you have great experiences with our phones," an HTC rep wrote in a recent Facebook post in response to complaints about the issue.

HTC tries to get serious about its bootloader policy

"We're [currently] reviewing the issue and our policy around bootloaders and will provide more information soon. Thank you for your interest, support and willingness to share your feedback."

As AndroidCentral's Phil Nickinson notes, HTC's confirmation of a policy rethink is quite significant, as it marks the first time the corporation has publicly said it was considering such a change.

"For you laymen out there, having open access to the bootloaders and NAND memory are the lifeblood of custom ROMs," explained Nickinson.

"And while the vast majority of Android users are running virgin devices - remember that more than 400,000 devices are being activated every day - the modding community is a vocal one."

Of course, it remains unclear if HTC's current position is simply marketing spin formulated to pacify the seething Android modder masses.

Then again, HTC probably does realize the genuine advantages associated with unlocking future smartphones. Working with the modding community rather than against it is generally a good idea (i.e., Microsoft Kinect), as it is likely to build some serious hype and increase device sales.

Just by how is the question, though, and that is probably what the HTC suits and ties are mulling over as you read this article.

GParted Live 0.8.1-3

Curtis Gedak has announced the release of GParted Live 0.8.1-3, a new stable version of the Debian-based live CD designed for disk management and data rescue tasks: "The GParted team is proud to announce a new stable release of GParted Live (0.8.1-3). This release fixes problems with safe graphics settings mode and fail-safe mode if KMS is on. The PartImage package has also been fixed. This release is based on the Debian 'Sid' repository as of May 24, 2011 (Linux kernel 2.6.38-5). The new GParted 0.8.1 further improves motherboard BIOS RAID support. To avoid partition entry duplicates, all usage of kpartx has been removed. Also partitions with volume labels containing an apostrophe can now be unmounted." Visit the project's news page to read the brief release announcement; the release notes for the new GParted 0.8.1 can be found here. Download (MD5): gparted-live-0.8.1-3.iso (127MB).

Wednesday, May 25, 2011


INSTALL . USE 11111-11111-11111-11111-11111


Puppy Linux 5.1.2 "Wary"

Barry Kauler has announced the release of Puppy Linux 5.1.2 "Wary" edition, a lightweight distribution specifically designed for running on old and low-resource hardware: "I was thinking of this release as a bug-fix release of 5.1.1, but when I started to tally the changes, I realised that there are a lot and probably I should have bumped the version to 5.2! Wary 5.1.2 is the latest of the Wary series of Puppy Linux that focuses on supporting older hardware. The emphasis is on incremental improvements and bug fixes rather than quantum changes, and 5.1.2 has many bug fixes, improvements and upgrades relative to 5.1.1, many more than you might expect from a sub-minor version increment. Built from the latest Woof, there are major improvements with hardware detection, some new helpful system-level GUIs, and 'fido' non-root user account is introduced (for experimenters only at this stage)." Read the release announcement and the release notes for further details. Download: wary-5.1.2.iso (120MB, MD5).

Trisquel GNU/Linux 4.5.1

Rubén Rodríguez has announced the release of Trisquel GNU/Linux 4.5.1, an updated version of the Ubuntu-based distribution built exclusively from free software components: "We now publish an incremental update, including all the security and bug-fix upgrades applied to date, while also expanding the edition set with 'Mini' and 'Netinstall' flavours. Some of the improvements include better support for software RAID and 3G modems, fixed clients for online video streaming, support for Atheros USB 802.11N cards, and many other updates and security patches. The 'Mini' edition is an incremental update on the original 4.0 version, with most of the changes being bug fixes and cosmetic improvements. The 'Netinstall' image, which from now on will be released with every Trisquel version, allows for customized installation." Here is the full release announcement. Download: trisquel_4.5.1_i686.iso (665MB, MD5, torrent), trisquel_4.5.1_amd64.iso (683MB, MD5, torrent).

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Fedora 15

Fedora 15, a new version of one of the leading and most widely used Linux distributions on the market, has been released. Some of the many new features include support for Btrfs file system, Indic typing booster, redesigned SELinux troubleshooter, better power management, LibreOffice productivity suite, and, of course, the brand-new GNOME 3 desktop: "GNOME 3 is the next generation of GNOME with a brand new user interface. It provides a completely new and modern desktop that has been designed for today's users and technologies. Fedora 15 is the first major distribution to include GNOME 3 by default. GNOME 3 is being developed with extensive upstream participation from Red Hat developers and Fedora volunteers, and GNOME 3 is tightly integrated in Fedora 15." Read the release announcement and the release notes for detailed information about the product. Download (mirrors, torrents): Fedora-15-i686-Live-Desktop.iso 565MB, SHA256, torrent), Fedora-15-i686-Live-KDE.iso (692MB, SHA256, torrent), Fedora-15-x86_64-Live-Desktop.iso (567MB, SHA256, torrent), Fedora-15-x86_64-Live-KDE.iso (692MB, SHA256, torrent).


System requirements:

• Intel Core 2 Duo or AMD Athlon 64 X2 processor with a clock frequency of 2.8 GHz;
• 2 GB of RAM;
• Video card Nvidia GeForce 8000 Series or ATI Radeon HD 2000 256 MB;
• 15 GB free hard disk space.

• Processor Intel Core i7;
• 3 GB of RAM;
• Video AMD Radeon HD 6000 series;
• Support for DirectX 11-second versions.

Publication Type: License
Language: English (ENG), Spanish (SPA), Italian (ITA), German (GER), French (FRE)
Language: English (ENG), Spanish (SPA), Italian (ITA), German (GER), French (FRE)
Tablet: None
Size: 7,4 GB

Next-gen iPhone could boast curved glass screen

Apple has reportedly purchased between 200-300 glass cutting machines. The move is likely connected to its next-gen iPhone, which is rumored to feature a curved cover for its touchscreen display.

According to DigiTimes, the glass slicing machines are currently being stored at various assembly plants and will be brought online once yield rates for the production of curved glass reaches a "satisfactory" level.

Next-gen iPhone could boast curved glass screen

Interestingly enough, the machines were purchased by Cupertino after glass cover manufacturers expressed reservations over the high cost of such equipment. 

Nevertheless, Apple is working with related suppliers - including those involved in cover glass, glass cutting, lamination and touch sensors - to improve yield rates.

As AppleInsider’s Sam Oliver notes, the concept of a curved glass smartphone screen was a major feature of Google’s Nexus S, which launched last December and features a 400-by-800-pixel "contoured" display.

Meanwhile, additional rumors about the next-gen device continue to swirl about the Internet ether, with some reports claiming the device will debut in September and feature a flat metal back, faster processor (A5), along with an 8-megapixel camera sensor designed by Sony.

Unsurprisingly, the jury is still out about NFC mobile payment capabilities, with some analysts estimating Apple will wait until the technology reaches critical mass before adopting it for the iPhone.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Black holes spinning faster and faster

Many giant black holes in the centre of galaxies are spinning faster than at any time in the history of the universe, and may have been set in motion comparatively recently, new research shows.

Dr Alejo Martinez-Sansigre of the University of Portsmouth and Professor Steve Rawlings of the University of Oxford used radio, optical and X-ray data to test their theoretical models of spinning black holes, and found the models stood up well for supermassive black holes with twin jets.

Using the radio observations, the two astronomers were able to sample the population of black holes, deducing the spread of the power of the twin jets. By estimating how the black holes acquire material, they could then work out how quickly they might be spinning.

The observations also give information on how the spins of supermassive black holes have evolved. In the distant past, say the researchers, practically all spun very slowly, whereas nowadays some have very high spins. So on average, they're spinning faster than ever before.

It's the first time that the evolution of the spin of the supermassive black holes has been closely described, and suggests that those that grow by swallowing matter will barely spin, while those that merge with other black holes will be left spinning rapidly.

"The spin of black holes can tell you a lot about how they formed. Our results suggest that in recent times a large fraction of the most massive black holes have somehow spun up," says Dr Martinez-Sansigre.

"A likely explanation is that they have merged with other black holes of similar mass, which is a truly spectacular event, and the end product of this merger is a faster -spinning black hole."

Later this decade, the team hopes to test the theory that these supermassive black holes have been set spinning relatively recently.

"With so many collisions, we expect there to be a cosmic background of gravitational waves, something that will change the timing of the pulses of radio waves that we detect from the remnants of massive stars known as pulsars," says Professor Rawlings.

"If we are right, this timing change should be picked up by the Square Kilometre Array, the giant radio observatory due to start operating in 2019."

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mobile gaming market booming thanks to iPhone & Facebook

Online gaming is bigger than ever thanks to Facebook and mobile devices like Apple's iPhone.

To be sure, both have opened up gaming opportunities to a huge amount of new users, helping to expand the industry exponentially. Although the huge user base is quite positive for gaming companies, it’s important to remember the competition is fierce.

"It's [really] an ugly scene," Alexandre de Rochefort, chief financial officer of mobile video game specialist Gameloft told the Reuters Global Technology Summit in Paris.

"The smartphone market is not a goldmine for developers. It's a bit like playing the lottery."

After reminding hopeful game developers that the industry is no cakewalk, executives noted developing and distributing games has become easier thanks to companies like Amazon who rent out computing space to test games for the likes of Facebook and the App Store.

UK-based media firm Screen Digest states the mobile gaming market has grown from $2.2 billion in 2007 to $3.7 billion in 2010, with estimates putting growth at around a staggering $7.8 billion by 2014.

"Since Apple launched its App Store, the mobile gaming market has undergone a transformation," explained Screen Digest analyst Jack Kent.

"Before, less than 5 percent were paying to access mobile games, in Europe at least ... since then consumers are a lot more willing to pay for content and particularly games."

As expected, changes in the industry have sparked deals amongst big gaming corporations like Electronic Arts (EA) and privately held smaller companies such as Zynga of Farmville fame.

Screen Digest reported 26 mobile gaming-related acquisitions within the last year, up from 12 in 2009 and 11 from the first quarter of this year. With $200 million in venture capital funds floating around last quarter alone, mobile gaming certainly has a hot niche in the market.

"We used to stay away from games," Neil Rimer, Index co-founder and partner, told the summit. "It was really like the movie industry where you had to come up with this basic idea for a game and then spend 5 to 15 million euros ($7 to $21 million) and two years building the thing," he said.

"Sometimes it would work. Many times it would bomb and you were out 15 million bucks."

Although it all sounds like rainbows and unicorns for app developers, it’s important to keep in mind that there are certain barriers to entry that make success in the mobile gaming market difficult. Even Rovio Mobile, maker of the uber-popular Angry Birds game, developed 51 titles before hitting the jackpot with Angry Birds.

The swords and mermaids of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides

The fourth film in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise had high expectations set for it, and it met most of them.

This film was classic Jack Sparrow, as developed through the first three movies by the expert Dep, in a story which was not written for him, and it shows.

On Stranger Tides is a novel about pirates of the Caribbean searching for the Fountain of Youth, surely, but Jack Sparrow was not a character in that novel.

Disney wanted to do another supernatural pirates film, and so inserted their own supernatural pirate into the existing story.

Most of the time it works, but occasionally you can tell that this tale was not really meant for our Jack. I guess when you base a franchise of films on an amusement park ride, things like this are bound to happen.

Even ignoring the historical inaccuracies - which is easy, as we’ve been doing it since we met Jack years ago, the mythology of this entry is a bit strained and over-exposed.

Usually the advantage to sequels is that the characters don’t really need to explain anything. The audience already understands how the world and plot work through the developments of the story so far.

Here however, the characters have to take the time to explain because the tale is so far divergent from the preceding trilogy. It’s not all bad, however, as they often managed to artfully mix the exposition in with fight scenes and chases, so it’s almost like a Police Squad gag in which it’s entirely possible to completely ignore the dialog because it feels almost extraneous to the scene.

The only really deep characters, ironically, are a pair of secondary characters, a cleric and a mermaid, who fall for one another, and finish the tale somewhat mysteriously. I can only guess - since I didn’t read it - that their touching story played a larger role in the novel.

Of course, we don’t go to see a Pirates film for the deep back-story, we go for the swashbuckling. The action scenes are well crafted. We even get to see some exciting day-light swashbuckling, as Jack escapes from the king’s palace, and moves through the streets leaping onto the tops of coaches.

The sword-fighting is well choreographed and clearly understood, relying on humor as much as action to entertain. Especially good is the melee between Dep and Cruz’s characters. They match strike for strike, and without the fog of most of the rest of the film the action is pointed.

The visuals, scenery and CGI are matching in style with the previous three films. As I mentioned, there is lots of fog. Particularly impressive was the ruined lighthouse the characters found when they left the ships behind and headed inland to locate the fountain. The fantastic elements were a bit muted compared to the third film, which was nearly incomprehensible, actually reminding me more of the first Pirates film in that way.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides is just as fun as you’d expect it to be, and about as deep.

The film is in theaters starting this weekend.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Kaspersky wants Interpol for the web

The world needs an Internet Interpol, as well as enforceable online identities and an “Internet passport”, Eugene Kaspersky has told the AusCERT 2011 conference this week.

The founder of Kaspersky Labs said his “Interpol” needed to be a global, borderless cybercrime unit that would exist with the support cooperation of international law enforcement agencies.

Kaspersky told AusCERT conference in Queensland that the “embedded” nature of cybercrime in the online world could be compared to the omnipresence of sharks in Australia waters.

The "digital world is under attack," he said. Although the idea has been discussed by government authorities and the security industry have been discussed for more than a decade, nothing’s been done.

He said another reason cybercrime has risen is that “some cybercriminals from non English-speaking countries don’t release malware in their own country because they don’t want police to connect them to it," something that an international agency could help monitor.

"Sooner or later we will have [an Internet Interpol],” Kaspersky said. “I am also talking about Internet passports and having an online ID. Some countries are introducing this idea, so maybe in 15 years we will all have it,” he forecast.

The security software millionaire said an international online identification system could help in the fight against identity theft and the illicit theft of passport documents online.

He also believes the rise of cloud computing demands industry standards for cloud security.

Pirate Party raided two days before elections

German police have seized a number of servers belonging to the Pirate Party just two days before (Bremen) state elections.

The equipment was confiscated after French authorities demanded German law enforcement officials investigate the collaborative Piratepad platform.

Pirate Party raided two days before elections

The service was apparently exploited to publish an SSH key, which was then used to attack a server belonging to the French energy group EDF.

"[Although] the investigations are not directed against the Pirate Party, the scope and damage is enormous. Two days before state elections in Bremen, our homepage and much of our communication infrastructure [has been] paralyzed," German Pirate Party chairman Sebastian Nerz confirmed in an official statement.

"The [scope] of the action and [its timing] is an absolute scandal. [We] will examine [if the investigation and seizure] breached § 21 of the Basic Law."

Nerz also emphasized that the Pirate Party opposed ongoing retaliatory attacks against the Federal Criminal Police Office (bka.de) and the police (polizei.de). 

"We criticize and condemn the totally inappropriate action by the investigating authorities, but the events are not a reason to attack other websites - which we distance ourselves from."

It should be noted the Pirate Party is the sixth largest in Germany.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Calculate Linux 11.6 Beta 1

Alexander Tratsevskiy has announced that the first beta of Calculate 11.6, a Gentoo-based distribution for desktops and servers, is out and ready for testing: "On the occasion of the fourth anniversary of the project the first beta of Calculate Linux 11.6 is released. All editions of the distribution are available for download: Calculate Linux Desktop with desktop KDE (CLD), GNOME (CLDG) and XFCE (CLDX), Calculate Linux Scratch (CLS), Calculate Directory Server (CDS) and Calculate Scratch Server (CSS). Major changes: using hybrid ISO images with support for recording to CD and USB Flash drives; udev has been integrated into initramfs live CD in order to better support devices and boot speed; added screen splash auto-resolution; added video driver choice menu...." Here is the full release announcement. Download: cld-20110519-i686.iso (1,647MB, MD5, torrent), cldg-20110519-i686.iso (1,385MB, MD5, torrent), cld-20110519-x86_64.iso (1,824MB, MD5, torrent), cldg-20110519-x86_64.iso (1,560MB, MD5, torrent).

Kung Fu Panda 2 XBOX360 MARVEL

MeeGo 1.2

Imad Sousou has announced the release of MeeGo 1.2, a Linux distribution tailored to a variety of mobile devices using the Intel Atom and ARMv7 processors: "Today we are announcing the project release of MeeGo 1.2. The MeeGo 1.2 Core operating system provides a complete set of enabling technologies for mobile computing. Some highlights include: MeeGo reference kernels supporting a variety of Intel Atom and ARMv7 platforms; QML application framework and extended Qt-Mobility APIs, including additional location, system, connectivity, and sensor/haptic capabilities for; enhanced telephony and connectivity capabilities, including GSM, GPRS, and HSPA+ network support. This release also includes Netbook UX 1.2 complete set of core applications for netbooks; in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) UX; tablet developer preview." Read the release announcement for full details. Here is a quick link to download the netbook edition: meego-netbook-ia32-1.2.0.img (864MB, MD5).

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Android’s Dream: C-3PO

Throughout the long history of fiction, androids and gynoids - artificial men and women - have been a common element. When included as tertiary characters they are often symbols for "the other." When treated as protagonists, they fill the tale with themes of the roles and definitions of humanity. Thus, this series is taking a close look at these artificial people. Today we’re looking at C-3PO.

C-3PO is a mechanical man in the Star Wars story-world. As the character comes from such an immense franchise of stories, we could never analyze his entire character in a single article, but we can touch on his central themes and purposes.

C-3PO is a protocol droid, and is not unique in the galaxy. Several other protocol droids are seen throughout the Star Wars stories, but they are all apparently less autonomous than C-3PO. This seems to be explained by his incidental reconstruction with a variety of improvised parts - which may have been the cause of the dramatic change.

Before that, however, he was just a standard issue protocol droid, the purpose of which is to help with political discussions and negotiations of all kinds by serving as an advisor and translator.

The canon stories don’t describe why he was junked after 80 years of service, but it was then, on the streets of Tatooine, that the droid was found, rebuilt with spare parts from a junk-yard, and recommissioned as a servant for young Anakin Skywalker’s mother.

It was 12 years before he left Tatooine, but after he did, he was at the center of the political turmoil of the galaxy for many years, due to the activities of his various owners.

When his mother passed, Anakin took back ownership of C-3PO, though he mostly assigned the droid to accompany his future wife, Amidala in her own political adventures.

After the wedding, Anakin gave the droid to his wife, whom he served until her death, at which point his ownership fell to fellow senator Bail Organa.

During this time, the droid fell to many temporary ‘owners’, while lost on a series of space adventures. However, he eventually returned to the Organa household to become the property of Leah Organa, who was secretly the biological daughter of Anakin and Amidala, whom Bail had adopted as his own to raise.

Many of his most important and vital roles to the New Republic were carried out during this time with Leah, and it is unknown in the canon if there was ever a time in her life when he did not serve her and her brother Luke Skywalker.

On many occasions through the turmoil of the galaxy, C-3PO was instrumental in translating for dignitaries, but also in diplomatically defusing dangerous situations, and being surprisingly supportive and crafty in support of his owners’ wishes. Unlike almost all other androids in the galaxy, C-3PO is able to show a level of independence of thought and action at sentient levels. He is capable of understanding friendship, loyalty, and diplomacy better than most of the human characters in the franchise.

He also serves, literarily, as a foil to the other central mechanical character in the franchise, R2-D2. R2-D2 is an "astromech droid" (in Star Wars canon, all robots are 'droids, even if they're not technically androids), though it’s not technically an android, since it doesn’t take on the form or behavior of a man).

The two machines become friends, and form an interesting interdependent relationship, and R2-D2 depends on C-3PO to translate for him to the rest of the characters (other than the Skywalkers), and C-3PO seems to rely on R2-D2’s unassuming and non-judgmental companionship, since the other character usually see him simply as a Protocol Droid, at one point even erasing huge swaths of his memories in the fear that he will be unable to keep important secrets.

Strangely, C-3PO is neither a Pinocchio nor a Galatea. Despite his apparent sentience, he seems perfectly happy to be thought of and treated as a machine, and he revels in his occasional mechanical upgrades.

Perhaps this is because he already seems so human, and thus has no need for more humanity. His own personal struggle instead comes from his cowardice, due to a strong fear of ‘death’ and disassembly. In the original film trilogy, he even plays the part of the comic-relief buffoon, who seems to lend assistance mostly by accident, when he is helpful at all. In the prequel trilogy, he is more serious and competent, perhaps because of his recent reassembly. The buffoon role in those films is taken over by Jar Jar Binks, a much derided character.

Check back tomorrow, when our featured artificial person will be Pinocchio. If you have an idea for an android or gynoid we could feature, let us know in the comments.

Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.1

Red Hat has announced the release of Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) 6.1, the first update of the RHEL 6 series: "Red Hat, Inc. today announced the general availability of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.1, the first update to the platform since the delivery of Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6 in November 2010. In addition to performance improvements, Red Hat Enterprise Linux 6.1 also provides numerous technology updates, including: additional configuration options for advanced storage configurations with improvements in FCoE, Datacenter Bridging and iSCSI offload; enhancements in virtualization, file systems, scheduler, resource management and high availability; new technologies that enable smoother enterprise deployments and tighter integration with heterogeneous systems...." Read the press release and the release notes for detailed information about the product. As always, existing RHEL customers can upgrade to 6.1 via the usual upgrade channels or download the new set of DVD images from Red Hat Networks. An evaluation edition is also available.

Download Mirrors http://www.redhat.com/download/mirror.html

Google preps offline access to Google Docs

You'll soon be able to access your Google Docs files even when you don't have an Internet connection.

This is apparently something Google has had on the back burner for years, but because we're all practically connected 24/7 - especially when wanting to access something like a word processing or spreadsheet file - there hasn't been a whole lot of interest from consumers.

Nevertheless, Google's senior VP Sunday Pichai told Cnet the launch of Google Docs offline access is "imminent."

"We've all been using it internally," said Pichai. "We want to make sure they're good."

It could certainly be useful for users who are on a non-Wi-Fi-accessible plane or train, or if you're on the road and need to show something to a client somewhere without online access, or even if your Internet goes out at home.

The fact that this new feature is coming out now, though, seems to make it much more likely that the focal point here is the impending launch of Google's computer operating system Chrome OS. It will use Google Docs as the default suite of office software, so the ability to access it anytime, anywhere is paramount.

The addition of offline access is also on the books for Google's other browser-based Google Apps programs.

The first slate of devices to use Chrome OS, a lineup of notebooks from Acer and Samsung, are slated to be released next month.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011


Mandatory Xbox 360 will not work on old units

Microsoft is set to push out an Xbox 360 software update, but now all Xbox 360s will work with it.

The biggest part of the update will be the ability to run new high-capacity DVD media that was designed specifically for the console. Because it is a slightly new disc format, it won't work with just a standard DVD drive, which is what the early Xbox 360 units in 2005 and 2006 used.

"Following a recent update to our system software, we have become aware of an issue that is preventing a very small number of Xbox 360 owners from playing retail game discs," said Microsoft in an e-mail to Eurogamer.com.

"This issue manifests itself a as a unique 'disc unreadable' or 'disc unsupported' error on the screen."

However, the company is trying to make things right by shipping out a brand new Xbox 360 to those affected. "We are also able to detect this issue over Xbox Live and are proactively reaching out to customers that may be impacted to replace their console," the e-mail continued.

This isn't the first time Microsoft has pushed out mandatory updates to the system that posed undue hardship on console owners. A couple years ago the company introduced a massive software update that ate up more space than the memory that was available on low-end 360 systems. To resolve that, Microsoft sent out Memory Units to customers with an affected unit.

In addition to having a higher capacity, the new DVD medium is believed to have stronger piracy restrictions built in.

Mageia 1 RC

Anne Nicolas has announced the availability of the release candidate for Mageia 1, the inaugural release of the new distribution created recently by former Mandriva developers and contributors: "Here it is! This is the last development release before the first stable version of Mageia. Again we are on time, thanks to the hard work of all the community. You can choose and download your favourite edition. This release is mainly about bug fixes and translation updates. Live CDs should be available in the coming days. Time is short now but still you should have enough time for some final tests. Important things to check in the few days left before the official release. How does the upgrade feel like, starting from Mandriva Linux 2010.1 and 2010.2 to Mageia 1 RC?" See the release announcement and release notes for more info and relevant links. Download (mirror list): mageia-dvd-1-rc-i586.iso (3,826MB, MD5), mageia-dvd-1-rc-x86_64.iso (3,775MB, MD5).

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Clonezilla Live 1.2.8-42

Steven Shiau has announced the release of Clonezilla Live 1.2.8-42, an updated version of the specialist Debian-based live CD designed for disk cloning tasks: "Stable Clonezilla Live 1.2.8-42 has been released. This release of Clonezilla Live includes major enhancements, changes and bug fixes: the underlying GNU/Linux operating system was upgraded, this release is based on the Debian 'sid' repository (as of 2011-05-13); Linux kernel was updated to 2.6.38; syslinux was updated to 4.04; initrd was compressed with XZ, and this makes Clonezilla Live ISO image smaller by 3 MB; the pre-run and post-run commands were moved to the login shell instead of init so now it can be interactive; the GRUB 2 boot loader for EFI was added, this is a testing function for booting an Apple machine from an USB device with GPT partition...." Read the full release announcement for a full changelog and a list of bug fixes. Download (MD5): clonezilla-live-1.2.8-42-i686.iso (133MB), clonezilla-live-1.2.8-42-amd64.iso (139MB)

Kongoni GNU/Linux 2011 RC

Robert Gabriel has announced the availability of the release candidate for Kongoni GNU/Linux 2011, a Slackware-based desktop distribution and live CD with KDE: "I'm very happy to announce the release candidate of Kongoni 2011 (Firefly). Since beta 2 a lot of bug fixes were done to this candidate, a lot of packages were migrated from Slackware and also brand new packages were added. There is a better accessibility support in KDE, Speech Dispatcher and eSpeak are installed by default in the live CD and also they were built against KDE Accessibility. KDE was updated to version 4.6.3 due to some bugs in the core of KDE and in some applications coming with KDE. Chromium was fully removed from the live CD and repository; apparently I didn't check if Chromium is FSF-compliant and it turns out that it is not. So now, the default web browser in Kongoni is IceCat which was upgraded to version 4.0.1." More details in the release announcement. Download: kongoni-2011-i486-rc-firefly.iso (673MB, MD5).

Monday, May 16, 2011

The Witcher 2 Assassins of Kings SKIDROW

Rumors point to an 'iPhone 4S'

We may see an incrementally upgraded iPhone 4 before Apple stamps the number '5' on a new phone.

In a similar move to what the company did after the iPhone 3G, a new report suggests Apple plans to upgrade the iPhone 4 with slightly improved hardware, but it won't be a brand new gadget built from the ground up.

Jeffries and Co analyst Peter Misek said he has insight into the firm's likely plans. "According to our industry checks, the device should be called iPhone 4S and include minor cosmetic changes, better cameras, A5 dual-core processor, and HSPA+ support," he said.

HSPA+ is the mobile network standard on which AT&T's 4G network runs. AT&T has one of the largest 4G coverage areas in the country, but it is not nearly as fast as the technology offered by Sprint or Verizon.

Up until now, speculation had been rampant that Apple would be launching the iPhone 5 in just a few months. Now it looks like that timeline may still be correct, but it's just not quite the iPhone 5 yet.

The move would make sense, especially since Apple just recently launched the white version of the iPhone 4, and Verizon customers are only now beginning to get into the market. It may be too soon to launch a completely new device to tell all those recent customers their purchase is already obsolete.

After all, it was about two years between the launch of the iPhone 3G and the iPhone 4, so as long as we get an iPhone 5 by the spring of 2012, Apple will still be on the same track.

Fusion Linux 14.1 RC

Valent Turkovic has announced the availability of the release candidate for Fusion Linux 14.1, a Fedora-based distribution with a variety of user-friendly enhancements, media codecs and updated software packages: "We have worked hard to produce the next release of Fusion Linux. We hope you will enjoy Fusion Linux 14.1. This is a release candidate but our test users have already invested much time into testing so for the most part this release is rock-stable and fully usable. Features for this release: latest Fedora 14 updates (saves time and hundreds of megabytes); LibreOffice 3.3.2 replaces OpenOffice.org; Firefox 4.0 bug fixed; Chrome 11 stable as the default browser; lots of other small bug fixes and enhancements." Here is the brief release announcement. Download (MD5) the installable live DVD image from here: Fusion-Linux-14.1-RC.iso (1,702MB).

Pinguy OS 11.04

Pinguy OS 11.04, an Ubuntu-based distribution with many user-friendly features, has been released: "Pinguy OS 11.04 released with classic GNOME 2.32.1 desktop. Pinguy OS is an Ubuntu-based Linux distribution that comes with a lot of applications installed by default, trying to cover everyone's needs. But it's not the default application selection what makes Pinguy OS so interesting, but Pinguy's attention to detail: every single aspect of the desktop is carefully customized to provide a great out-of-the-box experience. Pinguy OS 11.04 (based on Ubuntu 11.04) was released yesterday. The new Pinguy OS comes with GNOME 2.32.1 and uses the classic GNOME desktop while Unity has been completely removed from the CD." Read the full release announcement which includes screenshots. Download: Pinguy_OS_11.04_i686.iso (1,606MB, MD5, torrent), Pinguy_OS_11.04_x86-64.iso (1,726MB, MD5, torrent).

Sunday, May 15, 2011