Music Joins the 21st Century, Adobe Cozies Up to Linux, and IBM Lives to Sell Another Day

This week has been a busy one here at Linux Journal, what with Tuesday's short-lived change of focus and the ISO approval of OOXML announced on Wednesday. More than that has gone on, though, and we wouldn't want you to miss any of it, so here we go.

First up, the music industry was atwitter this week with new developments on both sides of the pond. Starting in the U.S., social-networking powerhouse Myspace announced a new music service, complete with agreements from three of the Big Four labels. The service, which many are describing as a rival to Apple's iTunes, will allow users not only the option to buy tracks, but also to stream and share them, though shared tracks will only be available for listening, not downloading, by friends. Observers have suggested the music industry's swiftness to embrace the project stems from concerns about Apple's dominance of the music marketplace.

On the other side of the pond, the UK's music industry, in the form of the British Phonographic Industry, got a strong slap in the face from Britain's third-largest ISP over efforts to force internet providers to police illegal downloading. Charles Dunstone, chief of Carphone Warehouse, the parent company of broadband-provider TalkTalk, flatly refused to accede to the BPI's demand that ISPs disconnect file-sharers under a three-strikes policy. According to Dunstone, TalkTalk is merely a conduit, not a censor, for internet activity, and have no business, desire, or intent to become the web's PC Plod. BPI, for its part, seemed unfazed, clinging unrelentingly to the position that ISPs have an obligation to censor their networks in whatever way the BPI directs, and threatening government action if its demands aren't met. It must be nice to have Parliament in one's pocket.

Moving on, Adobe made headlines last week with the introduction of an alpha version of its AIR runtime environment for Linux, sparking increased discussion of the cross-platform potential for AIR-based applications. While the software still has some kinks to work out — what alpha doesn't? — it has garnered a number of positive reviews, though others were skeptical in light of Adobe's historically-resistant position towards supporting Linux systems. We reject most strongly, however, the contention that Linux needs Adobe AIR due to a lack of innovation in design and user experience while being confined to difficult-to-use applications — the phrases "Compiz Fusion" and "KDE 4" are only two of the things that come to mind in refutation. As a demonstration of their new-found love for Linux, Adobe also announced that it is joining the Linux Foundation.

Moving on, IBM had a short-lived showdown with the federal government last week after the EPA banned the company from bidding for contracts with any federal government agency. The ban stemmed from a complaint IBM filed with the Government Accounting Office regarding a $84 million EPA contract it lost last year. The EPA is investigating possible ethics violations on IBM's part, and apparently took exception to the complaint, as the ban was immediately lifted after IBM agreed to dismiss it. The investigation of IBM's activities aside, it certainly seems like an awfully heavy-handed tactic from the EPA — while federal government contracts comprise $1.3 billion annually for IBM, it's a meager 1% of the company's revenue — especially given IBM's perennial status as one of the government's top contractors.

On the security side of things, there's a new JavaScript vulnerability going around, using Google as its attack point. Apparently, hackers have discovered a way to poison Google search results for sites that haven't carefully controlled their JavaScript, leading searchers to infect their systems with malware. WhiteHat security estimates that 7 in 10 websites are at risk — among those hit already are CNet, Wired, USATODAY,, and a number of universities. Google reports that it is working with affected websites to resolve the issue, as well as developing tools to discover and eliminate attacker's sites.

Finally, a somewhat strange — not to mention macabre — new development out of the UK: funerals on the web. Funeral parlors are apparently offering a new service where they broadcast funerals over the internet for family and friends who can't attend in person. Lest the service become a hotbed for online funeral-crashers, the mortuaries have password-protected their broadcasts, ensuring the privacy a family wants for their online funeral. If the trend catches on, we predict an end to bereavement leave — who needs a day off when they can watch their loved ones ascend to the beyond in the comfort of their own cubicle.

Now we have to run — we have an online bris and two teleconference baptisms to attend.

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