...making Linux just a little more fun!

News Bytes

By Howard Dyckoff

News Bytes


Selected and Edited by Deividson Okopnik

Please submit your News Bytes items in plain text; other formats may be rejected without reading. [You have been warned!] A one- or two-paragraph summary plus a URL has a much higher chance of being published than an entire press release. Submit items to bytes@linuxgazette.net. Deividson can also be reached via twitter.

News in General

lightning boltGoogle's Honeycomb may influence Android 2.4

Honeycomb is the new variation of the Android Operating System for tablets, just announced in February and shipping currently on the Motorola Xoom tablet. But a new version of Android will probably be announced at or just before the Google IO conference in May and it is expected some of the new features in Honeycomb will migrate to the standard Android phone distro.

The newest version of the Android smart phone OS, nicknamed Gingerbread, Android 2.3, was announced just before Christmas It features UI improvements, better copy and paste selection, and improved power management. Android 2.3 better supports VOIP and Internet telephoney by including a full SIP protocol stack and integrated call management services so applications can set up outgoing and incoming voice calls. Android 2.3 also adds API support for several new sensor types, including gyroscope, rotation vector, linear acceleration, gravity, and barometer sensors.

Honeycomb was announced in February and is designed for bigger, multi-touch screen and longer user interactions. It features improved 2D and 3D graphics, redesigned widgets, improved applications such as Google Maps that can take advantage of improved hardware and screen size, Honeycomb was pre-announced in January when a marketing video for the tablet OS surfaced on YouTube and referenced Android 3.0: http://www.youtube.com/v/hPUGNCIozp0&hl=en_US

A transition version of Android is expect to bridge the feature gap for rest of 2011.

The developer site developer.android.com lists the Honeycomb features for tablets as being part of the an upcoming Android 3.0 without a release date target: http://developer.android.com/sdk/android-3.0-highlights.html

According to developer.android.com, Android 3.0 will allow users to "... connect full keyboards over either USB or Bluetooth, for a familiar text-input environment. For improved wi-fi connectivity, a new combo scan reduces scan times across bands and filters. New support for Bluetooth tethering means that more types of devices can share the network connection of an Android-powered device."

lightning boltIntel Goes MeeGo

At Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Intel made several announcements regarding the MeeGo open source platform and the industry momentum backing both MeeGo and Intel Atom processors.

According to Intel, since MeeGo was introduced one year ago, the open source operating system platform has had multiple code releases. MeeGo has also gained industry momentum with system integrators as well as OEMs and products are shipping today in multiple form factors including netbooks, tablet, set-top-boxes and in-vehicle infotainment systems in cars.

Intel demonstrated a compelling new MeeGo tablet user experience now available through the Intel AppUp Developer Program. Intel also released the MeeGo tablet user experience (UX). It features an intuitive object-oriented interface with panels displaying content and contacts This gives consumers fingertip access to social networks, people, videos and photos.

The Intel AppUpSM developer program is expanding to accept apps for MeeGo-based tablets and netbooks. The program now offers technical resources, tools and incentives for developers to create, distribute and sell MeeGo-based apps. MeeGo apps will also be included in the Intel App Store.

lightning boltThe Document Foundation launches LibreOffice 3.3

The Document Foundation recently released LibreOffice 3.3, the community version of OpenOffice 3.3, a short time after setting itself up as an alternative to the Oracle-controlled product. This first stable release is available for download.

The next release, version 3.3.1, is expected around Feb. 14, following the FOSDEM conference in Brussels on February 5 and 6, where LibreOffice developers will be presenting their work during a one-day workshop with speeches and hacking sessions coordinated by several members of the project.

In less than four months, the number of developers hacking LibreOffice has grown from less than twenty in late September 2010, to well over one hundred. This has allowed them to release on the aggressive schedule set by the project.

LibreOffice 3.3 is also important for a number of other reasons:

  • - the developer community has been able to build an independent process, and get up and running in a very short time
  • - with a large number of new contributors attracted to the project, the source code is quickly undergoing a major clean-up to provide a better foundation for future development of LibreOffice;
  • - the Windows installer, which is going to impact the largest and most diverse user base, has been integrated into a single build containing all language versions, thus reducing the size for download sites from 75 GB to 11GB, making it easier to deploy new versions more rapidly and lowering the carbon footprint of the entire infrastructure.

Caolán McNamara from RedHat, one of the developer community leaders, commented, "This is our very first stable release, and therefore we are eager to get user feedback, which will be integrated as soon as possible into the code, with the first enhancements being released in February. Starting from March, we will be moving to a real time-based, predictable, transparent and public release schedule....". The LibreOffice development roadmap is available at http://wiki.documentfoundation.org/ReleasePlan

LibreOffice 3.3 provides all the new features of OpenOffice.org 3.3, such as new custom properties handling; embedding of standard PDF fonts in PDF documents; new Liberation Narrow font; increased document protection in Writer and Calc; auto decimal digits for "General" format in Calc; 1 million rows in a spreadsheet; new options for CSV import in Calc; insert drawing objects in Charts; hierarchical axis labels for Charts; improved slide layout handling in Impress; a new easier-to-use print interface; more options for changing case; and colored sheet tabs in Calc. Several of these new features were contributed by members of the LibreOffice team prior to the formation of The Document Foundation.

LibreOffice 3.3 also brings several new features, including in no particular order: the ability to import and work with SVG files; an easy way to format title pages and their numbering in Writer; a more-helpful Navigator Tool for Writer; improved ergonomics in Calc for sheet and cell management; and Microsoft Works and Lotus Word Pro document import filters. In addition, many great extensions are now bundled, providing PDF import, a slide-show presenter console, a much improved report builder, and more besides. A more-complete and detailed list of all the new features offered by LibreOffice 3.3 is viewable on the following web page: http://www.libreoffice.org/download/new-features-and-fixes/

The home of The Document Foundation is at http://www.documentfoundation.org. The home of LibreOffice is at http://www.libreoffice.org.

lightning boltIBM's Watson, DeepBlueQA, Wins on Jeopardy!

Reminiscent of the classic battle of John Henry and the Steam Shovel, the first-ever man vs. machine Jeopardy! competition was aired in February with two matches being held over three consecutive days. And like John Henry, the humans lost.

At a press conference in January, Jeopardy! and IBM revealed the non-profit beneficiaries of the upcoming contest between two of the most celebrated Jeopardy! Champions - Brad Rutter and Ken Jennings - and IBM's "Watson" computing system. Rutter and Jennings planned to donate 50 percent of their winnings to charity, and IBM will donate 100 percent of its winnings to charity.

The grand prize for this competition was be $1 million, with second place earning $300,000, and third place earning $200,000.

Watson, named after IBM founder Thomas J. Watson, was built by a team of IBM scientists who set out to accomplish a grand challenge - build a computing system that rivals a human's ability to answer questions posed in natural language with speed, accuracy and confidence. The Jeopardy! format provides the ultimate challenge because the game's clues involve analyzing subtle meaning, irony, riddles, and other language complexities in which humans excel and computers traditionally do not.

The Jeopardy! game show, winner of 28 Emmy Awards since its debut in 1984, was inducted into the Guinness Book of World Records for the most awards won by a TV Game Show. For more information, please visit http://www.ibmwatson.com.

Conferences and Events

Linux Foundation End User Summit
March 1-2, 2011, Hyatt Jersey City/Jersey City, NJ
AnDevCon: Android Developer Conference
March 8-9, San Francisco, CA
[save $300 if you Reg by Jan 14th, $100 more for NPOs and Government organizations.]
CloudConnect 2011
March 7-10. Avatar Hotel. Santa Clara, CA
QCon London 2011
March 7-11, London, UK
SxSW Interactive
March 11-15, Austin, TX
Cisco Live, Melbourne
March 29 - April 1, 2011
EclipseCon 2011
March 21-24, Hyatt Regency, Santa Clara CA
NSDI '11 USENIX Symposium on Networked Systems Design and Implementation
Sponsored by USENIX with ACM SIGCOMM and SIGOPS
March 30-April 1, 2011, Boston, MA
Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit 2011
April 6-8, Hotel Kabuki, San Francisco, CA
Impact 2011 Conference
April 10-15, Las Vegas, NV
Embedded Linux Conference 2011
April 11-13, Hotel Kabuki, San Francisco, CA
MySQL Conference & Expo
April 11-14, Santa Clara, CA
Ethernet Europe 2011
April 12-13, London, UK
Cloud Slam - Virtual Conference
April 18-22, 2011 - On-line
O'Reilly Where 2.0 Conference
April 19-21, 2011, Santa Clara, CA
Lean Software and Systems Conference 2011
May 3-6, 2011, Long Beach CA
Red Hat Summit and JBoss World
May 3-6, 2011, Boston, MA
USENIX/IEEE HotOS XIII - Hot Topics in Operating Systems
May 8-10, Napa, CA
Google I/O 2011
May 10-11, Moscone West, San Francisco, CA
[Search for conference registration in March or April]
OSBC 2011 - Open Source Business Conference
May 16-17, Hilton Union Square, San Francisco, CA
Scrum Gathering Seattle 2011
May 16-18, Grand Hyatt, Seattle, WA
RailsConf 2011
May 16-19, Baltimore, MD
USENIX HotPar '11- Hot Topics in Parallelism
May 26-27, Berkeley, CA
LinuxCon Japan 2011
June 1-3, Pacifico Yokohama, Japan
Semantic Technology Conference
June 5-9, 2011, San Francisco, CA
Creative Storage Conference
June 28, 2011, Culver City, CA
Cisco Live US
July 10 - 14, 2011
Cloud Identity Summit
July 18-21, Keystone, CO
20th USENIX Security Symposium
August 10-12, 2011, San Francisco, CA
LinuxCon North America 2011
August 17 - 19, Hyatt Regency, Vancouver, Canada

Software and Product News

lightning boltGemalto Launches One Time Password Application for Mobile Users

At the RSA Conference in San Francisco and Mobile World Congress, in Barcelona, in February, Gemalto introduced Protiva Mobile OTP, a convenient, secure and cost-effective new way for businesses and their employees to deploy two-factor authentication, with their mobile phones. The new solution is part of Gemalto's Protiva Strong Authentication family, which encompasses the validation server and a range of Protiva authentication application software and authentication devices.

A One Time Password (OTP) replaces static passwords with strong authentication and provides a convenient additional level of security for transactions and access control.

Protiva Mobile OTP works with the popular handset platforms, including Blackberry, iPhone, and handsets running Java, Windows CE and Brew. Employees simply need to download Gemalto's secure app onto their mobile phone, which is setup to immediately generate and receive OTPs using the phone.

Combining the mobile credential with their username and one-time-password grants employees the appropriate access to company resources such as a VPN, intranet, mail directory, digital signature, mail and Web pages. Protiva Mobile OTP is simple for IT administrators to deploy and provision, and is compatible with the majority of industry-leading IT infrastructure elements.

For more information about Protiva SA Server and solutions, visit http://www.gemalto.com/products/strong_auth_server/.


Talkback: Discuss this article with The Answer Gang

Bio picture

Howard Dyckoff is a long term IT professional with primary experience at Fortune 100 and 200 firms. Before his IT career, he worked for Aviation Week and Space Technology magazine and before that used to edit SkyCom, a newsletter for astronomers and rocketeers. He hails from the Republic of Brooklyn [and Polytechnic Institute] and now, after several trips to Himalayan mountain tops, resides in the SF Bay Area with a large book collection and several pet rocks.

Howard maintains the Technology-Events blog at blogspot.com from which he contributes the Events listing for Linux Gazette. Visit the blog to preview some of the next month's NewsBytes Events.

Copyright © 2011, Howard Dyckoff. Released under the Open Publication License unless otherwise noted in the body of the article.

Published in Issue 184 of Linux Gazette, March 2011