‘Kama Sutra’ worm set to strike

Friday, February 3, 2006

Computer security experts warn that a malicious computer worm, dubbed “Kama Sutra,” is set to wreak havoc this Friday, February 3rd on Microsoft Windows computers worldwide. Kama Sutra is designed to destroy files that end in .doc, .zip and .pdf.

The Kama Sutra worm has been spreading through cyberspace since January 16, packaged in emails with subject headings such as: “give me a kiss” and “crazy illegal sex.”

When users click an email attachment, their PCs become infected with destructive, self-replicating software. The worm affects Microsoft Windows operating systems and is programmed to go to work on the third of every month, overwriting or corrupting Microsoft files and others such as Portable Document Format (PDF) files.

“This one can damage your office files, your Microsoft Excel spreadsheets and your PowerPoint presentations,” Tino Klironomos, a computer retailer, said. “(The files will be) all gone, history.”

Computer security company LURHQ reports that there may be hundreds of thousands of machines already infected with the worm, which also goes by the monikers “BlackWorm,” “CME-24,” “Blackmal,” “Mywife.E” and “Nyxem.”

To prevent the worm, Windows users should arm themselves with anti-virus software. People can also protect their PC with up-to-date anti-virus gear and firewall protection. Free anti-virus tools are available from many anti-virus organisations. These tools can detect and remove the Kama Sutra worm from an infected machine.

Experts say: “Make sure your virus definitions are up to date. Besides being careful about opening email messages and attachments, users should back up their most valuable computer files on an external device such as a CD, zip drive or DVD.”

Steve Bass at PC World says: “Stop worrying. If you update your virus program signatures regularly, and do a weekly AV scan, I don’t think you have much to worry about…”

Other advice is not to open any messages with the subject headers “crazy, illegal sex”, “give me a kiss” and “hot movie.”

The worm will not affect machines running on non-Windows operating systems such as Mac OS X or GNU/Linux.

Many security systems reported a very small amount of vandalism, even though the threats were very high.

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8 February

Category:June 21, 2006

? June 20, 2006
June 22, 2006 ?
June 21

Pages in category “June 21, 2006”

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6 February

Peter Andren, Australian MP dies aged 61

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Peter Andren. Image: peterandren4senate.com.
Peter Andren and Tony Windsor vote to force a review of the AUSFTA. Image: Calare Independent.

Australian federal member of Calare, Peter Andren died on Saturday after a short battle with pancreatic cancer. He was aged 61.

Mr Andren who had held the seat since being elected in 1996 had previously announced his intention to run for the senate after his electorate was changed for the 2007 federal election. After Mr Andren was diagnosed with cancer in July, he announced that he would be retiring from politics at the election.

Mr Andren’s 1996 campaign platform was based upon retaining services in regional Australia, particularly banking, health and telecommunications. Over the next 11 years, Mr Andren’s primary vote grew and at the 2001 and 2004 elections was elected without preferences, achieving a majority primary vote.

In 2001, Mr Andren disagreed with his electorate on refugees. The electorate supported the government’s tough stance but Mr Andren could not support the government’s border protection measures. Following this, a vicious letter-box campaign rose up saying “you might like Peter Andren … but you won’t like what he’s got to say about keeping our borders safe”.

Fellow NSW independent member, Tony Windsor said Mr Andren’s stance on asylum seekers was just one sign of his compassion and strong belief in human rights.

Mr Windsor described Mr Andren as the “conscience” of parliament. “Peter Andren was a true representative of the people of the Calare electorate, a man of the highest integrity and the conscience of the Parliament,” he said.

“He was subjected to vitriol from time to time within the Parliament over issues, but if he believed in something he stuck to it. He didn’t compromise and I think that’s a lasting legacy that Peter will leave.”

Prime Minister John Howard said despite having a difference of opinion with Mr Andren on many issues, he had a lot of respect for him.

“I respected his skills as a local member,” he said.

“Mr Andren and I frequently disagreed on major issues and he made no bones about that and I made no bones about it either but that didn’t stop me respecting him and acknowledging the tremendous work he did for his electorate.”

Labor leader Kevin Rudd described Mr Andren as a true independent.

“Peter Andren will be a great loss to the Australian parliament,” he said.

“He was a man of principle, a man of commitment, a man who was an absolute independent.”

Leader of the Greens, Bob Brown said Mr Andren was an example of how a politician should be.

“He was an exemplar of representative politics for his electorate and the people of Calare kept returning him with a bigger and bigger majority,” he said.

“[If] anybody ever asks me how a politician should be, I am going to say, ‘Look at the record of Peter Andren'”

“He was a great Australian representative and he is a great loss to this country.”

During his political career, Mr Andren fought the sale of Telstra, introduced a bill to allow MPs to opt-out of their generous superannuation schemes, opposed the Iraq war and campaigned on environmental issues.

Mr Andren was born at Gulargambone, near Dubbo in Western NSW in 1946. Before he entered politics Mr Andren worked as a teacher before moving into journalism. Mr Andren worked as a news producer in Sydney for the Seven and Nine networks, before moving back to regional NSW where he worked as the news editor for both Radio 2GZ and Prime Television.

Mr Andren is survived by his partner and two sons.

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6 February

2012 Report on Gender Equality and Development says US women have room for progress

Friday, September 27, 2013

Tuesday, World Bank released the 2012 World Development Report on Gender Equality and Development. The United States is referred to many times, often as a benchmark to foster understanding of recent gains for women in other parts of the globe. At the same time, United States women still lag behind US men in a number of areas.

In 2012, the authors note women in the United States still face challenges economically and socially. They are represented disproportionately in certain professions like teaching and nursing. They are paid less than their male counterparts. Jobs traditionally held by women also result in lower wages for men who hold these jobs. They are under-represented at the highest level of business, with only 28 of Fortune 1000 companies having a female chief executive officer. The bottom 20% of women economically have a slightly higher birth rate than their peers in the top 20%.

Immigrants to the United States from Southeast Asia and India have higher than expected male to female birth ratios, which the report authors suggest is partially deliberate sex selection based on cultural attitudes from home countries. In 2009, over half a million US women were victims of intimate partner violence. The report suggests US men have greater pension assets than US women. When compared to elderly US men, elderly women in the United States are more likely to live alone than with a spouse. US women are disproportionately under-represented in local police forces, accounting for less than 20% of all police officers. Women in the United States also bear a higher percentage of housework duties than men at 61%. When US women take part time work while raising children, they find it difficult to use that work experience to gain future full time employment. US women are disincentivized from re-entering the workforce after giving birth because of the high cost of childcare.

A suffrage parade in the United States in 1912 Image: National Archives and Records Administration .

Many of the gains for United States women took place a while ago and took a long time to get. It took 40 years, 1870–1910, to see major improvements in the percentage of girls aged 6 to 12 attending school. In 1921, after women got the right to vote in the United States, the United States Congress passed the Promotion of the Welfare and Hygiene of Maternity and Infancy Act. This assisted in lowering infant mortality from 23% to 15%.

Affirmative Action Demonstration in 2003 in the District of Colombia Image: Joseluis89.

The report says affirmative action in the United States resulted in jobs transferring from men to women, but the authors hedged and did not draw a conclusion about the economic impact of these legislative efforts other than to say the impact was not negative.

Many of the legislative victories for United States women came early compared to developing countries. Property rights for women, while later than some of their European counterparts like Norway and the United Kingdom, started to come by 1848. That year, the Married Women’s Property Act was passed in New York. It was the first legislation of its kind in the country. Other states soon followed. Women got suffrage on a state-by-state level in the country until they got federal suffrage in 1920. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 barred discrimination against women and allowed married women to make loans without their husband’s consent. In 1980, airlines were barred from discriminating against flight attendances for their marital status during the hiring and firing stage.

The number of United States respondents agreeing with the proposition “a university education is more important for a boy than for a girl” decreased from about 14% in the period between 1994 and 1999 to about about 9% in the period between 2005 and 2007. Similarly, the number of people who agreed with “when jobs are scarce, men should have more right to a job than women” decreased from 19% to about 8% over the same period.

The report cites current research from the United States and England showing the more education a mother has, the better the outcomes for her children will be.

Average national scores on the 2009 Programme for International Student Assessment maths test Image: StatSilk .

Currently in the United States, females academically outperform their male counterparts in all academic areas including [[mathematics|math] and science. On the Programme for International Student Assessment math test though, US boys tested better than US girls by a score of roughly 495 to 480. US girls outperform boys on the literacy test with mean scores of approximately 510 to 490. In this regard, the report suggests US girls’ performance patterns resemble global ones.

Mali’s percentage of girls in primary school is equivalent to the United States in 1810 at around 34%. Burkino Faso is worse, matching the United States in 1780 with a percentage of roughly 25%. Niger’s current enrollment for girls is around 50%, around the same percentage as the United States in 1900.

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6 February

Wikinews interviews organiser of New Zealand’s Rock2Wgtn festival Phil Sprey

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Across Easter weekend Wellington, New Zealand was host to Rock2Wgtn, an international two-day hard rock festival. Large crowds showed up at Westpac Stadium to see the various acts. The world has never seen an event of this kind before.

Day one featured three theatrical acts. Finnish band Lordi, known for their monster costumes, opened the night. They were followed by the US shock rocker Alice Cooper, whose themed set included the horror theatrics regularly associated with him and a hanging stunt he recently restarted after a gallows collapse nearly killed him two decades ago. The night was headlined by the distinctively costumed band KISS, complete with their famed black-and-white makeup.

The first major act on the stage on day two was the American hard rock/glam metal band Poison. After Poison, British act Whitesnake took to the stage and performed their set to the crowd. British-born American rocker Ozzy Osbourne, who, as well as a solo career, fronts the world-famous Black Sabbath, was the second night’s headline act.

The festival’s entertainment did not stop at the six main acts. There was also support performances from three New Zealand bands – The Symphony of Screams, The Valves and Sonic Altar. Their sets were accompanied by a special effects package from award-winning studio Weta Workshops, who are known for their work on movies such as The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. This came in the form of ‘Drusila the Dragon’, which rose up to a height of six foot and wigspan and moved for the audience, shining lasers from its eyes and breathing red smoke. Flame Fire Productions were hired to put on a fire show featuring several dancers alongside the performers. Also performing were six local guitarists and a group of ‘zombie‘ cheerleaders.

Despite the crowds that flocked to the event, however, it has recently become apparent that financial trouble has hit the festival. Although figures remain to be confirmed, an estimated NZ$750,000 has been lost.

Wikinews secured an exclusive interview with Phil Sprey of Capital C Concerts, who organised the festival. The entire interview is now available below.

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4 February

Ontario Votes 2007: Interview with independent candidate Charles de Kerckhove, St. Paul’s

Monday, October 1, 2007

Charles de Kerckhove is running as an independent in the Ontario provincial election, in the riding of St. Paul’s. Wikinews’ Nick Moreau interviewed him regarding his values, his experience, and his campaign.

Stay tuned for further interviews; every candidate from every party is eligible, and will be contacted. Expect interviews from Liberals, Progressive Conservatives, New Democratic Party members, Ontario Greens, as well as members from the Family Coalition, Freedom, Communist, Libertarian, and Confederation of Regions parties, as well as independents.

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4 February

Andrew Marr angers bloggers, describing them as ‘inadequate, pimpled and single’

Monday, October 11, 2010

British journalist Andrew Marr has angered bloggers by suggesting they are “inadequate, pimpled and single.” Marr, who was formerly the BBC’s political editor, also said that citizen journalism is “spewings and rantings of very drunk people late at night”. He made the comments at the Cheltenham Literary Festival, saying: “A lot of bloggers seem to be socially inadequate, pimpled, single, slightly seedy, bald, cauliflower-nosed young men sitting in their mother’s basements and ranting. They are very angry people.”

Marr, who now hosts a flagship Sunday morning show, The Andrew Marr Show, on which he has recently interviewed British Prime Minister David Cameron and ousted BP executive Tony Hayward, added: “OK – the country is full of very angry people. Many of us are angry people at times. Some of us are angry and drunk”. His comments sparked outrage from bloggers, one of whom dismissed them as “stupid generalisations.” Another said that they were “sure that Andrew Marr did not mean all bloggers, but it is unfortunate that he did not seem to make much of a distinction in his statement.” Another blogger, writing on Twitter, said they supported Marr’s arguments. “Just read Andrew Marr’s comments on blogging,” they said. “I blog and I agree with most of what he says. I don’t read blogs for news, doubt I ever will.”

Aside from the paradox of him indulging in a rant to complain about other ranters, it is the one-sidedness of his argument that is so striking

Other journalists also criticised the comments. Krishnan Guru-Murthy, a newscaster for Channel 4 News, said that it is “true that flicking through the comment section of some political blogs can easily make you think the blogosphere is populated by obnoxious trolls. But there are plenty of thoughtful, insightful people writing online too: you just need to find them. They might not be household names, or worthy of a slot on Radio 4, but to dismiss them out of hand seems wrong. As for bloggers being ‘inadequate, pimpled and single,’ that’s no way to talk about Jon Snow. He isn’t single.”

“We know our viewers want commentary and analysis alongside their news and our blogs help us give more of that,” Murthy said. “Obviously we can’t give opinion in the way bloggers who aren’t also public service broadcasters can, but we enjoy reading other people’s opinions and the best blogs are much more than rants, often breaking stories, too. And anyway, I like reading the occasional rant. But as a blogger if you offer up something to the wider world you should expect people to say what they think of it.”

Roy Greenslade, a professor of journalism at City University London, and former editor of the Daily Mirror, said: “Aside from the paradox of him indulging in a rant to complain about other ranters, it is the one-sidedness of his argument that is so striking. None of us who write blogs are unaware of vituperative contributions from people who like to remain anonymous … It’s the price we [bloggers] pay –a small price, in my view– for a communications system that allows for public participation.” Greenslade added that he thought Marr “seems to be damning the whole blogosphere when, as we all know, there are thousand upon thousand of bloggers who are making valuable public interest contributions on the net day by day, even hour by hour. Marr, to use an archaic but apposite idiom, simply can’t see the wood for the trees.”

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4 February

Cleveland, Ohio clinic performs US’s first face transplant

Thursday, December 18, 2008

A team of eight transplant surgeons in Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, USA, led by reconstructive surgeon Dr. Maria Siemionow, age 58, have successfully performed the first almost total face transplant in the US, and the fourth globally, on a woman so horribly disfigured due to trauma, that cost her an eye. Two weeks ago Dr. Siemionow, in a 23-hour marathon surgery, replaced 80 percent of her face, by transplanting or grafting bone, nerve, blood vessels, muscles and skin harvested from a female donor’s cadaver.

The Clinic surgeons, in Wednesday’s news conference, described the details of the transplant but upon request, the team did not publish her name, age and cause of injury nor the donor’s identity. The patient’s family desired the reason for her transplant to remain confidential. The Los Angeles Times reported that the patient “had no upper jaw, nose, cheeks or lower eyelids and was unable to eat, talk, smile, smell or breathe on her own.” The clinic’s dermatology and plastic surgery chair, Francis Papay, described the nine hours phase of the procedure: “We transferred the skin, all the facial muscles in the upper face and mid-face, the upper lip, all of the nose, most of the sinuses around the nose, the upper jaw including the teeth, the facial nerve.” Thereafter, another team spent three hours sewing the woman’s blood vessels to that of the donor’s face to restore blood circulation, making the graft a success.

The New York Times reported that “three partial face transplants have been performed since 2005, two in France and one in China, all using facial tissue from a dead donor with permission from their families.” “Only the forehead, upper eyelids, lower lip, lower teeth and jaw are hers, the rest of her face comes from a cadaver; she could not eat on her own or breathe without a hole in her windpipe. About 77 square inches of tissue were transplanted from the donor,” it further described the details of the medical marvel. The patient, however, must take lifetime immunosuppressive drugs, also called antirejection drugs, which do not guarantee success. The transplant team said that in case of failure, it would replace the part with a skin graft taken from her own body.

Dr. Bohdan Pomahac, a Brigham and Women’s Hospital surgeon praised the recent medical development. “There are patients who can benefit tremendously from this. It’s great that it happened,” he said.

Leading bioethicist Arthur Caplan of the University of Pennsylvania withheld judgment on the Cleveland transplant amid grave concerns on the post-operation results. “The biggest ethical problem is dealing with failure — if your face rejects. It would be a living hell. If your face is falling off and you can’t eat and you can’t breathe and you’re suffering in a terrible manner that can’t be reversed, you need to put on the table assistance in dying. There are patients who can benefit tremendously from this. It’s great that it happened,” he said.

Dr Alex Clarke, of the Royal Free Hospital had praised the Clinic for its contribution to medicine. “It is a real step forward for people who have severe disfigurement and this operation has been done by a team who have really prepared and worked towards this for a number of years. These transplants have proven that the technical difficulties can be overcome and psychologically the patients are doing well. They have all have reacted positively and have begun to do things they were not able to before. All the things people thought were barriers to this kind of operations have been overcome,” she said.

The first partial face transplant surgery on a living human was performed on Isabelle Dinoire on November 27 2005, when she was 38, by Professor Bernard Devauchelle, assisted by Professor Jean-Michel Dubernard in Amiens, France. Her Labrador dog mauled her in May 2005. A triangle of face tissue including the nose and mouth was taken from a brain-dead female donor and grafted onto the patient. Scientists elsewhere have performed scalp and ear transplants. However, the claim is the first for a mouth and nose transplant. Experts say the mouth and nose are the most difficult parts of the face to transplant.

In 2004, the same Cleveland Clinic, became the first institution to approve this surgery and test it on cadavers. In October 2006, surgeon Peter Butler at London‘s Royal Free Hospital in the UK was given permission by the NHS ethics board to carry out a full face transplant. His team will select four adult patients (children cannot be selected due to concerns over consent), with operations being carried out at six month intervals. In March 2008, the treatment of 30-year-old neurofibromatosis victim Pascal Coler of France ended after having received what his doctors call the worlds first successful full face transplant.

Ethical concerns, psychological impact, problems relating to immunosuppression and consequences of technical failure have prevented teams from performing face transplant operations in the past, even though it has been technically possible to carry out such procedures for years.

Mr Iain Hutchison, of Barts and the London Hospital, warned of several problems with face transplants, such as blood vessels in the donated tissue clotting and immunosuppressants failing or increasing the patient’s risk of cancer. He also pointed out ethical issues with the fact that the procedure requires a “beating heart donor”. The transplant is carried out while the donor is brain dead, but still alive by use of a ventilator.

According to Stephen Wigmore, chair of British Transplantation Society’s ethics committee, it is unknown to what extent facial expressions will function in the long term. He said that it is not certain whether a patient could be left worse off in the case of a face transplant failing.

Mr Michael Earley, a member of the Royal College of Surgeon‘s facial transplantation working party, commented that if successful, the transplant would be “a major breakthrough in facial reconstruction” and “a major step forward for the facially disfigured.”

In Wednesday’s conference, Siemionow said “we know that there are so many patients there in their homes where they are hiding from society because they are afraid to walk to the grocery stores, they are afraid to go the the street.” “Our patient was called names and was humiliated. We very much hope that for this very special group of patients there is a hope that someday they will be able to go comfortably from their houses and enjoy the things we take for granted,” she added.

In response to the medical breakthrough, a British medical group led by Royal Free Hospital’s lead surgeon Dr Peter Butler, said they will finish the world’s first full face transplant within a year. “We hope to make an announcement about a full-face operation in the next 12 months. This latest operation shows how facial transplantation can help a particular group of the most severely facially injured people. These are people who would otherwise live a terrible twilight life, shut away from public gaze,” he said.

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30 January

OpenSync Interview – syncing on the free desktop

Friday, May 19, 2006

This interview intends to provide some insight into OpenSync, an upcoming free unified data synchronization solution for free software desktops such as KDE, commonly used as part of the GNU/Linux operating system.

Hi Cornelius, Armin and Tobias. As you are now getting close to version 1.0 of OpenSync, which is expected to become the new synchronisation framework for KDE and other free desktops, we are quite interested in the merits it can provide for KDE users and for developers, as well as for the Open Source Community as a whole. So there’s one key-question before I move deeper into the details of OpenSync:

What does OpenSync accomplish, that no one did before?

Cornelius:

First of all it does its job of synchronizing data like addressbooks and calendars between desktop applications and mobile devices like PDAs and cell phones.
But the new thing about OpenSync is that it isn’t tied to a particular device or a specific platform. It provides an extensible and modular framework that is easy to adopt for application developers and people implementing support for syncing with mobile devices.
OpenSync is also independent of the desktop platform. It will be the common syncing backend for at least KDE and GNOME and other projects are likely to join. That means that the free desktop will have one common syncing solution. This is something really new.

How do the end-users profit from using synching solutions that interface with OpenSync as framework?

Cornelius:

First, the users will be able to actually synchronize all their data. By using one common framework there won’t be any “missing links”, where one application can sync one set of devices and another application a different one. With OpenSync all applications can sync all devices.
Second, the users will get a consistent and common user interface for syncing across all applications and devices. This will be much simpler to use than the current incoherent collection of syncing programs you need if you have more than the very basic needs.

How does OpenSync help developers with coding?

Cornelius:

It’s a very flexible and well-designed framework that makes it quite easy for developers to add support for new devices and new types of data. It’s also very easy to add support for OpenSync to applications.
The big achievement of OpenSync is that it hides all the gory details of syncing from the developers who work on applications and device support. That makes it possible for the developers to concentrate on their area of expertise without having to care what’s going on behind the scenes.
I have written quite a lot of synchronization code in the past. Trust me, it’s much better, if someone just takes care of it for you, and that’s what OpenSync does.

Tobias:

Another point to mention is the python wrapper for opensync, so you are not bound to C or C++, but can develop plugins in a high level scripting language.

Why should producers of portable devices get involved with your team?

Cornelius:

OpenSync will be the one common syncing solution for the free desktop. That means there is a single point of contact for device manufacturers who want to add support for their devices. That’s much more feasible than addressing all the different applications and solutions we had before. With OpenSync it hopefully will become interesting for manufacturers to officially support Linux for their devices.

Do you also plan to support applications of OpenSync in proprietary systems like OSX and Windows?

Cornelius:

OpenSync is designed to be cross-platform, so it is able to run on other systems like Windows. How well this works is always a question of people actually using and developing for this system. As far as I know there isn’t a real Windows community around OpenSync yet. But the technical foundation is there, so if there is somebody interested in working on a unified syncing solution on Windows, everybody is welcome to join the project.

What does your synchronisation framework do for KDE and for KitchenSync in particular?

Cornelius:

OpenSync replaces the KDE-specific synchronization frameworks we had before. Even in KDE we had several separate syncing implementations and with OpenSync we can get replace them with a common framework. We had a more generic syncing solution in KDE under development. This was quite similar from a design point of view to OpenSync, but it never got to the level of maturity we would have needed, because of lack of resources. As OpenSync fills this gap we are happy to be able to remove our old code and now concentrate on our core business.

What was your personal reason for getting involved with OpenSync?

Cornelius:

I wrote a lot of synchronization code in the past, which mainly came from the time where I was maintaining KOrganizer and working on KAddressBook. But this always was driven by necessity and not passion. I wanted to have all my calendar and contact data in one place, but my main objective was to work on the applications and user interfaces handling the data and not on the underlying code synchronizing the data.
So when the OpenSync project was created I was very interested. At GUADEC in Stuttgart I met with Armin, the maintainer of OpenSync, and we talked about integrating OpenSync with KDE. Everything seemed to fit together quite well, so at Linuxtag the same year we had another meeting with some more KDE people. In the end we agreed to go with OpenSync and a couple of weeks later we met again in Nuernberg for three days of hacking and created the KDE frontend for OpenSync. In retrospect it was a very pleasant and straightforward process to get where we are now.

Armin:

My reason to get involved (or better to start) OpenSync was my involvement with its predecessor Multisync. I am working as a system administrator for a small consulting company and so I saw some problems when trying to find a synchronization solution for Linux.
At that point I joined the Multisync project to implement some plugins that I thought would be nice to have. After some time I became the maintainer of the project. But I was unhappy with some technical aspects of the project, especially the tight coupling between the syncing logic and the GUI, its dependencies on GNOME libraries and its lack of flexibility.

Tobias:

Well, I have been a KDE PIM developer for several years now, so there was no way around getting in touch with synchronization and KitchenSync. Although I liked the idea of KitchenSync, I hated the code and the user interface […]. So when we discussed to switch to OpenSync and reimplementing the user interface, I volunteered immediately.

Can you tell us a bit about your further plans and ideas?

Cornelius:

The next thing will be the 1.0 release of OpenSync. We will release KitchenSync as frontend in parallel.

Armin:

There are of course a lot of things on my todo and my wishlist for opensync. For the near future the most important step is the 1.0 release, of course, where we still have some missing features in OpenSync as well as in the plugins.
One thing I would really like to see is a thunderbird plugin for OpenSync. I use thunderbird personally and would really like to keep my contacts up to date with my cellular, but I was not yet able to find the time to implement it.

Tobias:

One thing that would really rock in future versions of OpenSync is an automatic hardware detection mechanism, so when you plugin your Palm or switch on your bluetooth device, OpenSync will create a synchronization group automatically and ask the user to start syncing. To bring OpenSync to the level of _The Syncing Solution [tm]_ we must reduce the necessary configuration to a minimum.

What was the most dire problem you had to face when creating OpenSync and how did you face it?

Cornelius:

Fortunately the problems which I personally would consider to be dire are solved by the implementation of OpenSync which is well hidden from the outside world and [they are] an area I didn’t work on 😉

Armin:

I guess that I am the right person to answer this question then 🙂
The most complicated part of OpenSync is definitely the format conversion, which is responsible for converting the format of one device to the format that another device understands.
There are a lot of subsystems in this format conversion that make it so complex, like conversion path searching, comparing items, detection of mime types and last but not least the conversion itself. So this was a hard piece of work.

What was the greatest moment for you?

Cornelius:

I think the greatest moment was when, after three days of concentrated hacking, we had a first working version of the KDE frontend for OpenSync. This was at meeting at the SUSE offices in Nuernberg and we were able to successfully do a small presentation and demo to a group of interested SUSE people.

Armin:

I don’t remember a distinct “greatest moment”. But what is a really great feeling is to see that a project catches on, that other people get involved, use the code you have written and improve it in ways that you haven’t thought of initially.

Tobias:

Hmm, also hacking on OpenSync/KitcheSync is much fun in general, the greatest moment was when the new KitchenSync frontend synced two directories via OpenSync the first time. But it was also cool when we managed to get the IrMC plugin working again after porting it to OpenSync.

As we now know the worst problem you faced and your greatest moment, the only one missing is: What was your weirdest experience while working on OpenSync?

Cornelius:

Not directly related to OpenSync, but pretty weird was meeting a co-worker at the Amsterdam airport when returning from the last OpenSync meeting. I don’t know how high the chance is to meet somebody you know on a big random airport not related at all to the places where you or the other person live, but it was quite surprising.

Tobias:

Since my favorite language is C++, I was always confused how people can use plain C for such a project, half the time your are busy with writing code for allocating/freeing memory areas. Nevertheless Armin did a great job and he is always a help for solving strange C problems 🙂

Now I’d like to move on to some more specific questions about current and planned abilities of OpenSync. As first, I’ve got a personal one:

I have an old iPod sitting around here. Can I or will I be able to use a program utilizing OpenSync to synchronize my calendars, contacts and music to it?

Cornelius:

I’m not aware of any iPod support for OpenSync up to now, but if it doesn’t exist yet, why not write it? OpenSync makes this easy. This is a chance for everybody with the personal desire to sync one device or another to get involved.

Armin:

I dont think that there is iPod support yet for OpenSync. But it would definitely be possible to use OpenSync for this task. So if someone would like to implement an iPod plugin, I would be glad to help 🙂

Which other devices do you already support?

Cornelius:

At this time, OpenSync supports Palms, SyncML and IrMC capable devices.

Which programs already implement OpenSync and where can we check back to find new additions?

Cornelius:

On the application side there is support for Evolution [GNOME] and Kontact with KitchenSync [KDE] on the frontend side and the backend side and some more. I expect that further applications will adopt OpenSync once the 1.0 version is released.

Armin:

Besides kitchensync there already are a command line tool and a port of the multisync GUI. Aside from the GUIs, I would really like to see OpenSync being used in other applications as well. One possibility for example would to be integrate OpenSync into Evolution to give users the possibility to synchronize their devices directly from this application. News can generally be found on the OpenSync web site www.opensync.org.

It is time to give the developers something to devour, too. I’ll keep this as a short twice-fold technical dive before coming to the takeoff question, even though I’m sure there’s information for a double-volume book on technical subleties.

As first dive: How did you integrate OpenSync in KitchenSync, viewed from the coding side?

Cornelius:

OpenSync provides a C interface. We wrapped this with a small C++ library and put KitchenSync on top. Due to the object oriented nature of the OpenSync interfaces this was quite easy.
Recently I also started to write a D-Bus frontend for OpenSync. This also is a nice way to integrate OpenSync which provides a wide variety of options regarding programming languages and system configurations.

And for the second, deeper dive:

Can you give us a quick outline of those inner workings of OpenSync, from the developers view, which make OpenSync especially viable for application in several different desktop environments?

Cornelius:

That’s really a question for Armin. For those who are interested I would recommend to have a look at the OpenSync website. There is a nice white paper about the internal structure and functionality of OpenSync.

Armin:

OpenSync consists of several parts:
First there is the plugin API which defines what functions a plugin has to implement so that OpenSync can dlopen() it. There are 2 types of plugins:
A sync plugin which can synchronize a certain device or application and which provides functions for the initialization, handling the connection to a device and reading and writing items. Then there is a format plugin which defines a format and how to convert, compare and detect it.
The next part is a set of helper functions which are provided to ease to programming of synchronization plugins. These helper functions include things like handling plugin config files, HashTables which can be used to detect changes in sets of items, functions to detect when a resync of devices is necessary etc.
The syncing logic itself resides in the sync engine, which is a separate part. The sync engine is responsible for deciding when to call the connect function of a plugin, when to read or write from it. The engine also takes care of invoking the format conversion functions so that each plugin gets the items in its required format.
If you want more information and details about the inner workings of OpenSync, you should really visit the opensync.org website or ask its developers.

To add some more spice for those of our readers, whose interest you just managed to spawn (or to skyrocket), please tell us where they can get more information on the OpenSync Framework, how they can best meet and help you and how they can help improving sync-support for KDE by helping OpenSync.

Cornelius:

Again, the OpenSync web site is the right source for information. Regarding the KDE side, the kde-pim@kde.org mailing list is probably the right address. At the moment the most important help would be everything which gets the OpenSync 1.0 release done.
[And even though] I already said it, it can’t be repeated too often: OpenSync will be the one unified syncing solution for the free desktop. Cross-device, cross-platform, cross-desktop.
It’s the first time I feel well when thinking about syncing 😉.

Armin:

Regarding OpenSync, the best places to ask would be the opensync mailing lists at sourceforge or the #opensync irc channel on the freenode.net servers.
There are always a lot of things where we could need a helping hand and where we would be really glad to get some help. So everyone who is interested in OpenSync is welcome to join.

Many thanks for your time!

Cornelius:

Thanks for doing the interview. It’s always fun to talk about OpenSync, because it’s really the right thing.

Armin:

Thank you for taking your time and doing this interview. I really appreciate your help!

Tobias:

Thanks for your work. Publication and marketing is something that is really missing in the open source community. We have nice software but nobody knows 😉

Further Information on OpenSync can be found on the OpenSync Website: www.opensync.org


This Interview was done by Arne Babenhauserheide in April 2006 via e-mail and KOffice on behalf of himself, the OpenSource Community, SpreadKDE.org and the Dot (dot.kde.org).It was first published on the Dot and is licensed under the cc-attribution-sharealike-license.A pdf-version with pictures can be found at opensync-interview.pdf (OpenDocument version: opensync-interview.odt)

This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.
This article features first-hand journalism by Wikinews members. See the collaboration page for more details.

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30 January

Lebanon fighting escalates as UN debates ceasefire

Sunday, August 6, 2006

Fifteen Israelis were killed and more than 115 injured in an attack that saw more than 180 missiles hit towns in northern Israel Sunday. At least seven rockets hit Haifa, Israel‘s third largest city, killing three and injuring more than 100. Other missiles have hit the Ma’alot, Carmiel and Kiryat Shmona.

Twelve reserve soldiers died when a Hezbollah missile hit Kfar Giladi in Israel. “The scene is very difficult, it can be described as a battlefield,” Shimon Abutbul, a rescue worker at the scene said. “There was a lot of blood.”

In Lebanon, 17 people were killed as Israeli warplanes and artillery struck southern Lebanon. Three Chinese UN peacekeepers were injured when a rocket landed near their post.

Israeli jets also struck the southern suburbs of Beirut.

Israel has announced the detention of a Hezbollah combatant suspected of being involved in the kidnapping of two Israeli soldiers that prompted the Israeli incursion into Lebanon last month.

The mounting casualties occur as the UN Security Council continues discussions on a draft resolution to halt the fighting. France and the United States have agreed to the wording of a decree which is expected to come to a vote on Monday or Tuesday.

The draft calls for the “full cessation of hostilities based upon, in particular, the immediate cessation by Hezbollah of all attacks and the immediate cessation by Israel of all offensive military operations”.

The pending resolution has been welcomed by Israel but condemned by the Syrian foreign minister, Wallid Muallem, who called it a “recipe for the continuation of the war”. A senior Lebanese official has said his country would reject the resolution because it does not ask that Israeli forces withdraw from Lebanese soil.

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29 January