Stallman on the Javascript Trap

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This week Richard Stallman has added to his earlier comments about web-based (so-called cloud) applications, which are mostly written in JavaScript, but sometimes in Flash. Stallman wants people to run free software so that they can read and change the source code and share the results. As Stallman explains these cloud apps don’t provide for that. They just download huge chunks of code to your PC without even telling you;

For instance, Google Docs downloads into your machine a Javascript program which measures half a megabyte, in a compacted form that we could call Obfuscript because it has no comments and hardly any whitespace, and the method names are one letter long. The source code of a program is the preferred form for modifying it; the compacted code is not source code and the real source code of this program is not available to the user.
Browsers don’t normally tell you when they load Javascript programs. Most browsers have a way to turn off Javascript entirely, but none of them can check for Javascript programs that are nontrivial and non-free. Even if you’re aware of this issue, it would take you considerable trouble to identify and then block those programs. However, even in the free software community most users are not aware of this issue; the browsers’ silence tends to conceal it.

Stallman sends a clear message to anyone who believes in free and open source software that online web based applications are not free.

Wikileaks taken offline

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The Guardian reports that whistleblowing website Wikileaks has gone offline just hours after publishing what appeared to be a complete list of the websites banned by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA).

The list appeared to show all the websites that those living in Australia are prohibited from accessing by the domestic authorities, but the communications minister, Stephen Conroy, moved to say the list was not authentic earlier today.Conroy said the list contained some common URLs, but that it also contained a number of links his organisation had not investigated or received a complaint about. He also went on to say whoever leaked the information could face criminal prosecution.

According to Forbes, the scope of Australia’s internet censorship has already developed far beyond its initial aim to block child pornography and web pages associated with terrorism.

iPhone…idon’t think so

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Japanese retailer SoftBank are giving away the 8GB iPhone in a bid to increase take up after terrible sales. According to a report today in the Guardian the low spec of the iPhone in comparison to other Japanese handsets is the problem:

there’s no video function or multimedia messaging, the camera is poor and – with the exception of any about-to-be-launched brand, specific apps – there’s no TV tuner, which is standard on many Japanese handsets. Just one competitor is the Panasonic P905i with its 3″ TV, 3G, GPS, 5.1 megapixel camera and Wii-style motion sensors for games. 

Japan presents a problem market for the firm because of hostility to non-domestic brands.

I am not really a fan of the iPhone as it endorses and supports Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) technology, and completely blocks free software.