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Free Software

A blip in the mobile phone market?  I think not….seems that Android has just leapfrogged their competition.  This is just part of a trend:

Is Android Really outselling Apple?
by Peter Kafka

Here’s a curveball of a data point: Android is now outselling the iPhone. Really? Really, says NPD. The consumer research shop says U.S. sales of smartphones using Google’s mobile operating system climbed past Apple in the first three months of this year. Google (GOOG) nabbed 28 percent of the market, while Apple (AAPL) claimed 21 percent, NPD says. Less surprising is that BlackBerry maker Research in Motion (RIMM) still leads the market, with 36 percent. Here are the data in chart form: Android is the green line with the prominent spike:

Of course there needs to be the obligatory post about Amazon deleting the stuff from the kindle that they didn’t like.  The bigger questions, that Amazon has not answered, are:

Do you want to buy something that can be monitored & controlled by some central entity?

Why did Amazon build that feature into the Kindle in the first place?

Do you trust them when they say we won’t do it again?

Who else can use the features in the Kindle to monitor what you are reading?

Just don’t buy a Kindle. My strong recommendation:  Buy a netbook that has GNU/linux (for less than the $299 the Kindle sells for), and download what you want. When you tire of reading you can play some chess* or travel through the solar system (and this is all using free software…)

Oh, and by the way 1984 is in the public domain in Australia and Russia, so take a look at these sites:

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/o/orwell/george/

http://orwell.ru/library/novels/index_en

Here are some free fonts to use when reading your downloaded books:

http://exljbris.wordpress.com/

And here are some free software packages with which to read your .pdf’s:

http://sourceforge.net/projects/pdfcreator/

http://www.foolabs.com/xpdf/

And here are 100 of the top book downloads from Project Gutenberg:

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Here’s the summary of the Top 500 Supercomputers, broken down by Operating system. Linux only has 87.8% of the Top 500 supercomputers.  But it really isn’t fair to compare Windows and Linux, after all, Linux cost 10.8 billion dollars to develop, and Windows development team probably only had a budget of a couple of billion dollars or so. Poor Bill Gates…

Operating system Family Count Share % Rmax Sum (GF) Rpeak Sum (GF) Processor Sum
Linux 439 87.80 % 13341108 20822363 2104191
Windows 5 1.00 % 328114 429555 54144
Unix 23 4.60 % 881289 1198012 85376
BSD Based 1 0.20 % 35860 40960 5120
Mixed 31 6.20 % 2356048 2933610 869676
Mac OS 1 0.20 % 16180 24576 3072
Totals 500 100% 16958600.19 25449076.20 3121579

But what can it do for you?

Well, what do you want it to do?

From Flowing Data, an interesting use of Modest Maps:

Hat Tip: Chris Blattman’s wonderful, smart as hell blog about development which I had browsed before but am taking a second look at it since Dani Rodrik from Harvard made some interesting comments about Chris’s blog.

Watching the growth of Walmart across America – Interactive Edition
In the spirit of Toby’s Walmart growth video, using data from Freebase, I mapped the spread of Walmart using Modest Maps. It starts slow and then spreads like wildfire.

http://projects.flowingdata.com/walmart/

As a follow-up to my post “The tipping Point” from 07 December 2007, it seems that several other sources have come to the same conclusion I had: that the eeePC represents a tipping point.

First, there is LinuxFormat magazine, from the U.K., in its edition no. 106 for May 2008. (Still not available in all US newstands. It also has an article that I am very interested in, about sustainable aspects of free software, which I’ll just have to wait for. Also note that back issues of Linuxformat are available as .pdfs here):

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Chris Castle has a long rant about Comcast’s blocking the Bit Torrent protocol, or to be more precise he has a long rant about the many who are criticizing Comcast; it seems he is a little upset that many have objections to Comcast’s actions, and that a consensus exists that committing fraud in the name of some secret agenda might actually be *wrong.* Corporate misbehavior is doing much to further the cause of net neutrality; one prominent commentator has changed his mind and come out in favor of some form of net neutrality, as pointed out over at Freedom to Tinker.

Chris never mentions that Comcast lied to its own customers in its FAQS and thereby committed fraud. They also interfered with their subscriber’s freedom of association. Those are minor sins, or perhaps even virtues, in Chris’s book. First, he starts out with some generalizations, and is so mad he gets his words all mixed up, which was my clue that this was really some kind of hate speech, not rational argument:

My general thesis there is that at a high level of abstraction (a) there are two essentially classes of traffic on the Internet, one legal and one illegal, and (b) if an ISP is not going to have the spine to shut off illegal file bartering on its network, the least they could do is make it very, very unpleasant for the illegal file bartering and substantially illegal social networking systems to operate.

Here we have an insatiable demand for simplicity: there can apparently be only two categories of anything, and the idea of a nuance like ‘legal file sharing’ or ‘immoral disruption of networking protocols’ can’t even begin to enter into the debate.

The use of an adverb as a adjective is unique, though: “there are two essentially classes” beats even some of W’s hilarious mis-speaks.

Then, there is the sweeping accusation that social networking systems are “substantially illegal” which he never explains. But he doesn’t have to: this is anti-net neutrality hate speech, and he gets his thoughts as right as his grammar, and his logic as twisted as his emotions.

But this speech has plenty of antecedents, particularly over at IP Central, which seems to be about the only place that actually likes Chris Castle’s writing. He goes on:

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Here we have Comcast’s own statement regarding Bit Torrent:

comcast_lies.png

And here we have observation by Ernesto over at Torrentfreak:

Comcast Throttles BitTorrent Traffic, Seeding Impossible
Written by Ernesto on August 17, 2007
Over the past weeks more and more Comcast users started to notice that their BitTorrent transfers were cut off. Most users report a significant decrease in download speeds, and even worse, they are unable to seed their downloads. A nightmare for people who want to keep up a positive ratio at private trackers and for the speed of BitTorrent transfers in general.

Now there is much wailing and gnashing of teeth about this all over the place. Some think that what Comcast did was wrong, but don’t think that the solution is to legislate net neutrality. Others, and I would say this seems to be the majority opinion, seem to think net neutrality case has been strengthened here. (I am pretty much in that camp) Ed Felten seems to agree, to a point, but because he thinks actually enacting net neutrality into would be very difficult, he doesn’t advocate that.

There are even a few folks who think what Comcast is doing is perfectly OK, although those people don’t explain why Comcast lied about it, or try to justify their continued evasiveness on this issue. Market forces seem to me to be part of the answer, but due to the very limited choices, many can not vote with their pocket books. The market is not functioning, as there are just one or two suppliers almost everywhere. And Comcast is doing what it can to prevent markets from working: concealing information, information that it’s customers would use to make informed decisions about their purchase of internet services.

I am not a big fan of knee jerk government intervention, so I wonder if there isn’t a middle ground, between enacting net neutrality, as difficult as that is, and doing nothing, as distasteful as that is.

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The headline says it all, I think. Comcast did what they did in secret, denied it when confronted, and furthermore tried to cover it up when it was exposed. Why did they do it in secret, and deny it when they were confronted? Because they knew it was wrong. It really is that simple.

But we can’t ignore those, who, like Ed Felten uncovered the truth about what Comcast was doing, and further publicized it so quickly. Another data point in how wrong folks like Andrew Keen are, perhaps?

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