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More OOXML Corruptions Appear to Have Arrived Chile

Posted in America, Fraud, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML at 11:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Chile was mentioned in this Web site the past. The context and the reason was gross manipulation of the government, at least on the face of it. This led to great anger and it is worth pointing out that Brasil followed suit in some sense. The lesson that was learned can be explained rather well by this old Bill Gates quote:

“There won’t be anything we won’t say to people to try and convince them that our way is the way to go.”

Bill Gates (Microsoft’s CEO at the time)

And here comes the news.

Despite the 217 comments tabled by Chile in September, the Microsoft puppets are well active in the Committee and will vote this Tuesday to turn the vote of the country from an abstention to a Yes. You can expect more of those things happening until the end of March.

Word on the street is that, as expected, Microsoft is corrupting countries that previously voted “No” on OOXML. Microsoft, as usual, calls it “lobbying”, not “corruption”, just as it renames bribery “marketing help” and astroturfing it calls “evangelism”. Mind the fact that there are Microsoft insiders at play. We have already seen this in Colombia, for examples, as well as several other nations in South America.

Here is an older item which describes in English what happened in Chile several months ago.

Just today, a secret agreement between MS and the Chilean Government came to light. In it, every citizen was sold as a potential user of a Windows Live Spaces model where every SSN is linked to, overbypassing any privacy term and cashing Bill some bucks. It wouldn’t be so awful to all if that agreement wasn’t approve and the reao yet (Spanish follows).

What’s curious about this deal, which also makes the country a prisoner of Redmond, are the events that predate it, namely:

Chilean Mapuches in language row with Microsoft

Mapuche Indians in Chile are trying to take global software giant Microsoft to court in a legal battle which raises the question of whether anyone can ever “own” the language they speak.

This came after other interesting developments such as this one (article now expired):

The Chilean government’s high school Internet access network Enlaces plans to install Linux Relevant Products/Services from Sybase ASE Linux Express Edition ? FREE operating systems in 600 schools, after a trial project with Edulinux in 25 establishments, local newspaper El Mercurio reported.

Also consider this one:

ElMostrador.cl: Chilean Public Pension System (INP) Switches to Linux

The institution will save more than 67,000 USD per year in license fees.

Two of every three Chileans either pay or get paid by this state-owned institution, which has 63 offices and ten corporate buildings all over the country, using more than 1500 computers.

Neighboring countries can tell some similar stories. Here, for example, is the story of Colombia:

The government and Microsoft also two signed agreements Monday stressing Uribe’s strong commitment to Microsoft products at a time other countries in the region are promoting the non-proprietary Linux operating system.

Mind the interesting use of the term “non-proprietary”. It adds to Linux a negative connotation and it’s not a conventional slant. It is also rather evident that the charity plays a role, just as we occasionally point out. The article is actually about Gates going on a ‘philanthropy’ trip and the contracts that were signed (committing the country to stay with Windows and not to defect to Linux) are only mentioned as a by-the-way.

The history of Microsoft misconduct in the area is probably quite long, but one needn’t look further than just a few months ago in Ecuador

Ecuador Tax Agency Closes Microsoft Branch Offices For 7 Days


“We have twice requested balances, payment reports and complete tax information, but the company hasn’t given it to us, so in accordance with our laws we have proceeded with the closure,” the SRI official in charge of the proceeding said.

Given what was found in recent months, including the eye-popping incident/occupation in Colombia (Microsoft merely voting for itself all across the table), it would just be natural to assume dirty tricks are at hand.

Related articles:

OOXML is fraud

Quick Mention: ISO Receives Warning About Microsoft’s OpenAmbush XML

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Open XML, Patents at 10:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

If it looks like a patent bomb, it probably is

An open letter that was sent to many in ISO contains a description along with pointers covering the patent time called OOXML. [via noooxml.org]

I have just send the following email to ISO members (you can find some of their email addresses on the INCTIS website) to warn them about the possible patent ambush…

This isn’t particularly new, but for those who study the issue, the letter will serve as a valuable resource and starting point.

Older articles of interest:

Patent licensing is probably the most important aspect for all third parties that want to implement or use the Open XML specification. Unfortunately the Ballot Resolution Meeting cannot discuss these aspects because only technical and editorial issues would get resolved.


When you have a patent which covers Open XML and you refuse to license it, the standard process gets stalled. Large companies in the standardization process are reluctant to use that nuke option. Given the ambush that the software patent practice means today it is quite possible that Open XML infringes a patent and all parties eventually have an obligation to license it.

“If OOXML goes through as an ISO standard, the IT industry, government and business will encumbered with a 6000-page specification peppered with potential patent liabilities” said NZOSS President Don Christie.

“Patent threats have already been used to spread doubt amongst organisations keen to take advantage of the benefits of open source. No one knows whether such claims have any merit, but it is calculated to deter the development and use of open and alternative toolsets.”

However, this raises the issue – what assurance does a developer have that such a large specification is not the subject of third party patent claims? The pedigree of the specification is certainly no reason for hope, Microsoft has been the target of third party patent claims for some time now including some high profile losses in patent suits. The fact that the specification has been developed behind closed doors and on a fast track means that there has been no adequate opportunity to evaluate the likelihood of third party patent claims against the specifications. The sheer size of the document suggests there will be at least a couple hiding in there somewhere.

LinuxToday Responses to Novell’s Good News

Posted in Asia, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Novell, SLES/SLED at 10:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Check out some of the comments in LinuxToday. They are posted in response to the news that SLED preloads have begun in China’s Thinkpads. As you can see, the comments are largely hostile.

Example #1

Marcos – Subject: Suse, No Thanks ! ( Jan 12, 2008, 17:00:59 )

“The starting price for this system will be $949, $20 less than the same laptop with Vista Home Premium.”
Hahaha, is this a joke ? Oh, I forgot the M$ tax that Novell pays to M$ as partner.
Why not Lenovo doesn’t put Ubuntu, Mandriva or other non-M$-blessed linux distribution ?
I want the option of linux or even NO OEM operating system for ALL notebooks !

Example #2

cjm – Subject: SLED is a silly idea… ( Jan 12, 2008, 20:28:50 )
…and it won’t do anything except feed into the meme that “people don’t want Linux.”

Setting aside, for the moment, my distaste for a GNU/Linux distribution produced in collaboration with Microsoft, the market for “Enterprise” releases is generally to a class of user capable of installing the OS themselves (or by the IT department) if the hardware is truly compatible. And since SLED ain’t the only “Enterprise” game in town, the Enterprise isn’t all waiting with bated breath for SLED preloads…the majority of GNU/Linux laptops will run something else.

So the majority of prospective buyers will get a chance to pay for SLED in order to immediately replace it with RedHat or one of the freely available distributions.

A better approach (if a vendor is serious about serving the GNU/Linux market), would be to provide a laptop with full hardware compatibility with one or more freely available distributions. Load one of them on the machine as proof of GNU/linux compatibility and pass the entire savings in OS cost on to the buyer. If the buyer wants OS support, then they can buy it from Novell or RedHat with the OS after hardware delivery, and without guessing at how much they paid for it, or from Canonical for a set price for freely available Ubuntu, or whatever other combination of distribution and support they want.

And I think when a major vendor finally approaches GNU/Linux this way, without hiding their offerings behind “We recommend genuine Windows ____,” then we’ll know that we’ve found a vendor who is serious about GNU/Linux.

Example #3

blackhole – Subject: Re: Why the Hate? ( Jan 13, 2008, 11:45:34 )
> Why are people so hateful of Novell? Sure the deal with Microsoft seems rather unnecessary, but perhaps Novell viewed it as a way to differentiate their GNU/Linux distribution from that of RedHat.

Why the venom? Because Novell conspired with MS to find a loophole in the then current GPL. And then used the loophole to execute the sort of patent agreement that the GPL was designed to prohibit. The reason the GPL seeks to prohibit such things is because such agreements remove the freedom the GPL tries to guarantee. That is reason enough there. But the agreement also increases the risks of lawsuits for those that MS has not declared “protected.” And has given MS quite a bit of ammunition to fuel their FUD machine. I do not take kindly to people — or companies — kicking sand in my face.

Your post then goes on to talk about technical merit and the fact that you can replace the traitor’s software with another distro. I submit that is irrelevant to the discussion of how Novell and their software should be treated. I can also buy a computer with MS preinstalled. But I won’t.

You end with an admonition to “stop bitching.” I actually wouldn’t have posted anything had you not asked your question which has an obvious and well known answer. As far as the venom toward Novell, mine will not stop until either Novell cancels their patent agreement with MS or they die.

Example #4

CD Baric – Subject: Re: Re: Why the Hate? ( Jan 13, 2008, 12:12:04 )

I totally agree!

>As far as the venom toward Novell, mine will not stop until either Novell cancels their patent agreement with MS or they die.

The third and most likely conclusion will be when the agreement times out. This agreement is for a specific period of time and when it ends Novell will likely find itself in the belly of the beast – it will be THE PERFECT opportunity for Microsoft to sue Novell out of existance.

It is so obvious – by signing an IP license agreement with Microsoft they are actually agreeing that they are employing Microsoft IP, whether it is explicitly itemized or not.

When the agreement comes to and end and Microsoft elects not to renew, they will demand Novell STOP using their IP which they maintain is inherent in Linux and many FOSS applications and utilities. It’s not like Novell can all of a sudden deny the existance of Microsoft IP because that is what the MS IP license agreement was all about.

Goodbye Novell, Xandros and every other unfortunate Microsoft (Linux IP) licensee.

Microsoft cannot compete with Linux and FOSS on merit so it is going to rely on it’s tried and true anti-competitive tactics of FUD, Embrace, Extend & Extinguish and now the Patent Trap.

Microsoft Lies Cheats and Steals!

CD ‘Bar’ Baric

The purpose of repeating these comment here (Brian would hoefully forgive us) is to show that Novell is not popular, not even in long-standing Linux sites. Either that or we are a very, very vocal minority.

Food for Thought: How Proprietary Silverlight and OOXML Stifle or Eliminate Open Access

Posted in America, DRM, Europe, Finance, Formats, FUD, Microsoft, Open XML, Vista, Windows at 6:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Open access without open formats is no longer open access

Recently, several fiasco-level incidents were discussed which involve governments putting public assets and services in the hands of outsourced professionals, who then misuse their degree of power and seemingly-unrestricted budgets. Many possible dangers become more concrete if this route is actually taken. Data belonging to a nation can be warped to become partially controlled by private companies.

“While governments ought to ensure all documents are stored in the format that lasts, the same general principles should apply to delivery of information.”At risk of going further out of focus, consider the relationship between digital preservation, which shapes and serves (ODF's purposes (it is also ODF’s upper hand and among its raison d’être) and open access — an issue whose significance is better realised as the Internet continues to expand. While governments ought to ensure all documents are stored in the format that lasts, the same general principles should apply to delivery of information. In Greece, such things are already being demanded.

Greek citizens, but also citizens of other countries, we jointly sign this text on the occasion of ERT’s choice to distribute its audiovisual archive non-freely to the public. Our aim and ambition is to publicize our propositions so that they become the starting point of an open dialog among the Greek society, the European and global public audience and to signal the revision of backward policies and the creation of common political wealth.

Few days ago, the ERT administration presented the beginning of the availability, only via Internet streaming, of a part of its audiovisual archive. This move constitutes an important first step, which, however, in our opinion, is tarnished by the fact that the public availability of the archive is not made free, although the Greek and European citizens have paid their money to make the production and digitization of the archive feasible.

Here is another example of an invaluable national asset. It received some timely coverage in the New York Times last week [via Glyn Moody].

What is Magna Carta worth? Exactly $21,321,000. We know because that’s what it fetched in a fair public auction at Sotheby’s in New York just before Christmas. Twenty-one million is, by far, the most ever paid for a page of text, and therein lies a paradox: Information is now cheaper than ever and also more expensive.

OOXML is badThe price of information and the price of tools that enable access to this information are separate. The former is related to the open access debate and the latter — to open standards. By neglecting to consider one of the two, governments can essentially forbid rather than inhibit access to assets owned by people. This is — needless to say — rather absurd and even outrageous.

In the remainder of this item, many examples will be given with particular emphasis on English-speaking countries (the UK and the US actually), which will also be last to embrace Free software properly, due to solidarity perhaps.

I was once told by a reliable source about Gordon Brown allowing his nation to be locked down by SharePoint. This almost immediately led to loss of trust and brought back memories of the Prime Minister’s affiliations (he is one of those other Bilderbergers, along with Tony Blair). The British Library, BECTA, National Archives and the BBC, for instance, either have ‘Trojan horses’ (individuals from Microsoft) or they are quite close to that whole ecosystem. As actual examples, consider some of the following:

British Library

Looking at the past year, here is what one might find. Books are being digitised, but given the nature of this public library, why the branding?

Digitised publications will be accessible in two ways -initially through Microsoft’s Live Search Books and then via the Library’s website.

Now, watch this. [expired, from Associated Press]

Now the British Library is appealing to ordinary Britons for their e-mails, saying it wants to create a snapshot of British life in 2007.


The e-mails will be collated and indexed by Microsoft Corp., which has previously partnered with the library to digitize books from its archive, and they will be available to researchers before the year’s end.

Once again you have to wonder why the Library’s great financial resources are unable to facilitate independent thinking and implementation. Was Free software considered at all? Was there a tender? How was procurement — if any was needed at all — actually done?

What about the Library’s DRM concerns? Does it know about Microsoft’s DRM affinity?

In a manifesto released on Monday at the Labor Party Conference in Manchester, the United Kingdom’s national library warned that the country’s traditional copyright law needs to be extended to fully recognize digital content.

“Unless there is a serious updating of copyright law to recognize the changing technological environment, the law becomes an ass,” Lynne Brindley, chief executive of the British Library, told ZDNet UK.

To make matters even worse, watch how the Library falls for a scam that is all about Windows Vista and XAML.

Microsoft and the British Library have digitised two of Leonardo da Vincis’ notebooks.


The British Library has created an updated version of its application called “Turning the Pages” which allows people to browse parts of its 150 million piece collection via a web browser. We heard how this works better using Vista.


This fiasco has actually been covered here on several occasions. The FSF focuses on just one aspect of the many problems in the BBC, which seems to have a dual commitment (to the public and to its close partners Siemens and Microsoft).

Today the BBC made it official — they have been corrupted by Microsoft. With today’s launch of the iPlayer, the BBC Trust has failed in its most basic of duties and handed over to Microsoft sole control of the on-line distribution of BBC programming. From today, you will need to own a Microsoft operating system to view BBC programming on the web. This is akin to saying you must own a Sony TV set to watch BBC TV. And you must accept the Digital Restrictions Management (DRM) that the iPlayer imposes. You simply cannot be allowed to be in control of your computer according to the BBC.

(Britain’s) National Archives

This is one of the most astonishing examples you will find. Adam Farquhar is the Head of eArchitecture at the British Library and he is also serving Microsoft's OOXML. Microsoft and National Archives even issue joint press releases. Are they really trying to hand people a smoking gun along with a pair of handcuffs? And check our their publicity stunt in the BBC. The whole charade seems to be circular.

She was speaking at the launch of a partnership with Microsoft to ensure the Archives could read old formats.

Here is what Mr. Newton (of Alfresco in the UK) has to say about some of this:

With OOXML and XPS, Microsoft has chosen to not work with existing standards, but to create new ones, as they have in their recent announcement on Web3S instead of working with the rest of the industry on the Atom Publishing Protocol. In the case of OOXML, this is a logical move on Microsoft’s part, since it is an evolution of Microsoft’s XML strategy started with the Microsoft Office 2003 version and ODF will be a technology diversion from that strategy. With Microsoft controlling 90% of the office productivity tools market and OOXML being the default file format for Microsoft Office 2007, OOXML is likely to be widely-used.

Britain’s National Health Service (NHS)

One interesting tale is the huge disaster that collaborations in the NHS have been. The contract (or lease) involving iSoft more or less makes the NHS dependent on Microsoft — by proxy.

To give you a rough idea of the scale of this disaster in a medium-sized nation, consider some financial figures:

NHS computer boss failed IT exams

Mary Granger is amazed that her son was put in charge of a £20bn project to transform the NHS’s computer system. She is less surprised that his ‘Connecting for Health’ project is over-budget, behind schedule and threatening to become the biggest IT disaster in history.

Another example:

After months of negotiations, Accenture handed contracts worth £2bn over to rival Computer Sciences Corporation after getting paid just £110m for spending a third of the allotted 10 years on the job. Its hand had been forced by losses of $450m it was set to make on the deal this year.

Now, watch who was partly behind this:

Microsoft is one of the key technology firms in the £6.2 billion NHS IT programme. It is working particularly closely with iSOFT…

Daringly enough, with Free software out there, some actually claim ‘savings’.

NHS National Services Scotland forecasts it will save up to £8m over three years from a new procurement deal with Microsoft

Needless to say, the whole project ended up as a total disaster of proportions even greater than that of the BBC’s media unit. They too started looking at alternatives (think about the BBC turning to Adobe Flash).

The government’s vision of an integrated computer system for the NHS is coming apart at the seams as NHS trusts are to start looking for alternative IT suppliers, The Guardian reports.

To make matters worse, with Microsoft software in healthcare, see what people ended up coping with (living with or dying with).

“Very often they are not major incidents as such, but could be caused when a patient administration system is running slow or there may be problems with the local network. The severity level is attributed by the user and this is subsequently very often down graded or amended.”

Many of the incidents that have been reported by CfH include failure of the systems used by surgeons to see X-ray pictures on a computer screen in wards and operating theatres. On some occasions the system is believed to have crashed during an operation, forcing surgeons to suspend the procedure while a hard copy of the X-ray is found.

Never bet your life on it.

Partners and AstroTurfing in Great Britain?

The OOXML game does not only come to government-funded establishments. It goes further and right into businesses. Watch the response to Microsoft’s attempt to use its partners as pro-OOXML pawns.

The petition is an attempt to make it appear that Open XML has “pseudo-grassroots” support, argues Mark Taylor, the founder of the Open Source Consortium.

At this later stage, one ought to recall those incidents of Microsoft bribery in Sweden and elsewhere. There is some more information about it here, in case context is missing from the above.

Microsoft is calling on the Great British public to join its campaign to get the XML Office format adopted as an international standard.


It is not clear if the UK is an opponent. However, a representative of fellow member the Bureau of Indian Standards recently reportedly complained to the IndiaTime.com over Microsoft’s decision to dump 6,000 pages of documentation on them.

Let’s move over to the States and find the same type of abuse, as observed last just 4 days ago.

Library of Congress and the United States

What on earth is this? [via Andy Updegrove]

Microsoft to provide virtual access to Library of Congress


Interactive presentation software for kiosks will run on Windows Vista and its Web equivalent, built using Microsoft Silverlight. The project will also use Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 Web content management software.

“Web equivalent,” says this article. Does that sound like lock-in or what? It’s the ‘next-generation ActiveX’ for all it seems. It’s another attempt to exert power, but what makes this one rather obnoxious is the fact that public assets get misused in the process. They are being turned against the public.

For similar reasons, by the way, Microsoft is said to have given free facilities to store vital medical data. It is making people’s lives dependent on Microsoft’s success. This way, as Silicon Graphics and its bankruptcy protection have taught the industry, Microsoft might receive government support at times of trouble. Microsoft holds the key that enables access to data.

The World’s Publications

A few months ago, Elsevier said that the future is open.

Two senior publishers have departed Elsevier and joined rival Biomed Central, placing their bets on an open access future for scientific research.

One ought to worry, however, after last week’s large acquisition by Microsoft. Will there ever will open access at Elsevier? Will open standards be involved as well? A couple of days ago, Glyn Moody warned that Microsoft and Elsevier are now partners. He drew a prophetic comparison a year and a half beforehand. What will this all mean when it comes to formats?

Open Access and Free Software to the Rescue

The remainder of this long post ought to illustrate the importance of open access, which is worthless unless you have open standards like ODF and even PDF. Here is an article which explains the symbiotic relationship between Free software and Open Access.

Free and open source software (FOSS) has roots in the ideals of academic freedom and the unimpeded exchange of information. In the last five years, the concepts have come full circle, with FOSS serving as a model for Open Access (OA), a movement within academia to promote unrestricted access to scholarly material for both researchers and the general public.

It all comes to show and address some very serious issues. Consider the following two articles from the past two months. The first is about taxpayers being refused access to studies that they fund.

“Cancer patients seeking information on new treatments or parents searching for the latest on childhood development issues were often denied access to the research they indirectly fund through their taxes”

The second shows the very cheeky approach some publications have adopted.

The journal wishes to charge me 48 USD to:


The journal is therefore


I am lost for words…

This issue of permitting nothing to be free and attempting to charge money for anything conceivable is dissected in the following good writeup from Jeremy Alison (of Samba fame).

I was down there to give a talk on “Open Source Business Models” for a conference. Also represented were entertainment industry lawyers, “Big Telecom” management, and a smattering of software people. Microsoft was there of course. You can’t hold a church fete with “Open Source” on the banner these days without Microsoft turning up and requesting representation. At least we also had Bruce Perens on our side to help make up the balance. The venue eas an unbelievably expensive hotel. Even though I was on expenses I balked at asking the company to pay for a room there and found something cheaper (not by much) a few miles down the road.

Here Come the Dark Forces

Sharing of information is a wonderful thing, is it not? Who could possibly deny access to information that promotes increased productivity? Moreover, who would prevent those that wish to make their own information and art available for free? Some people would.

As I’ve noted before, I’m something of a connoisseur of FUD, and I really like coming across new examples. Here’s one, directed at the burgeoning open access movement, which wants to make publicly-paid for scientific papers freely available…

Let’s not forget the music industry, which fears the idea of (legally) free distribution of art.

The music industry has reacted with outrage to the government’s rejection of pleas to extend the period musicians get royalties from their tracks beyond the current 50 years.

Increasingly, the same goes for video and other forms of art.

Success Stories

Despite all these ills of society, the so-called ‘open access movement’ is gradually winning. It defeats those who try to bury it. Example wins from the last year:

1. Libraries Defend Open Access

In an open letter last month, Rockefeller University Press castigated the publishers’ sock-puppet outfit, PRISM, for using distorting rhetoric in a coordinated PR attack on open access. N

2. ‘The New York Times’ drops online subscription service

The New York Times has finally given up on the Web-subscription model, announcing Monday that the newspaper’s online site will no longer charge for any content.

3. News Corp undecided on making WSJ.com free

“It would be a very expensive thing to do in the short term,” Murdoch told analysts on a telephone conference call to discuss News Corp’s quarterly earnings. “In the long term, it may be a wonderful thing to do, but we’re looking at it very closely.”

4. A Quest to Get More Court Rulings Online, and Free

The domination of two legal research services over the publication of federal and state court decisions is being challenged by an Internet gadfly who has embarked on an ambitious project to make more than 10 million pages of case law available free online.

5. Announcing the Open Library

Early this year, when I left my job at Wired Digital, I thought I could look forward to months of lounging around San Francisco, reading books on the beach and drinking fine champagne and eating foie gras. Then I got a phone call. Brewster Kahle of the Internet Archive was thinking of pursuing a project that I’d been trying to do literally for years.


So today I’m extraordinarily proud to announce the Open Library project. Our goal is to build the world’s greatest library,

6. Berkman Center and CALI Partner to Create New Legal Education Resource

“We are looking forward to renewing a fruitful relationship with Harvard Law School through the Legal Education Commons project, which will provide innovative tools and access to open-licensed course materials to our more than 200 member law schools” said CALI Executive Director John Mayer.

7. Wikipedia Founder Joins EC Open Access Campaign

Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales said he signed a petition calling on the European Commission to give the public open access to taxpayer-funded scientific research because it was “simple and obvious” that the public should have access to research they had funded. “Public money should result in public benefit,” he added.

8. Google Custom Search

Guha was able to help me understand the significance of the recent announcement with the Hewlett Foundation of the Open Educational Resources search portal.


For example, a MIT implementation of the OE Search portal could choose to boost mit.edu sites, providing higher visibility for MIT’s OpenCourseWare offerings.

9. Public access to NIH research made law

President Bush has signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2007 (H.R. 2764), which includes a provision directing the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to provide the public with open online access to findings from its funded research. This is the first time the U.S. government has mandated public access to research funded by a major agency.

With open access seemingly inevitable, the things to combat are censorship, increased traffic shaping, closed formats, patent-encumbered formats, and platform-exclusive formats. DRM-laden information is another time bomb, especially lacking standards and interoperability, with which the principles of DRM are somewhat incompatible.

SimCity (Micropolis) Moves to the GNU GPLv3, Whose Adoption Keeps Rising

Posted in FSF, GPL, Kernel at 5:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNU Richard StallmanIn terms of adoption, the growth of the GNU GPLv3 has been so healthy that it was barely worth mentioning in the past few months. However, an interesting new addition is SimCity (called Micropolis due to trademarks), which is coming to OLPCs. The story behind such proprietary abandonware (arguably so) is what earned this transition wider exposure in the Internet. Here is where you’ll find pretty much everything you need.

This is the binary and source code for Micropolis (A.K.A. “S*mC*ty”: see the GPL License and additional terms, below), which is released under the GPL.

Looking at Palamida’s latest report again (published on Friday), all is well.

This is an increase of 62 new GPL v3 projects, which is a sign that the rates are picking up again from the holiday slump.

Widespread GPLv3 adoption is inevitable. An interview with Linus Torvalds was published last week and it was actually used by GPLv3 foes to kick a dead horse and spread some more FUD for a couple of days.

Quote of the Day: Stephane Rodriguez on The Four Separate OOXMLs

Posted in Deception, ECMA, Formats, Microsoft, Open XML, Quote at 1:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A Microsoft ‘standard’ is like icecream… it comes in many flavours

Spotted yesterday:

Another thing that should be reminded is that having to spend so much time on details because OOXML is poorly designed is just the tip of the iceberg. The reality is that we already have two OOXML variants, and two more are coming when Office 2009 ships.

  • OOXML 1.0 (i.e. ECMA 376 today)
  • Office 2007 (i.e. OOXML 1.0 + all undocumented bits + all fixes)
  • OOXML 1.1 (whatever is the outcome of Feb’s BRM)
  • Office 2009 (OOXML 1.1 + undocumented bits)

Implementors will have to implement all 4 or will be unable to open an arbitrary document based on this thing called “OOXML”.

Biased? Inaccurate? Microsoft apparently wishes to agree with Stephane.

“It’s hard for Microsoft to commit to what comes out of Ecma [the European standards group that has already OK’d OOXML] in the coming years, because we don’t know what direction they will take the formats. We’ll of course stay active and propose changes based on where we want to go with Office 14. At the end of the day, though, the other Ecma members could decide to take the spec in a completely different direction. … Since it’s not guaranteed, it would be hard for us to make any sort of official statement.”

Brian Jones, Microsoft

Nice self-nuke there, coming from no mouth other than that of the manager. It joins several other of Microsoft’s greatest hits, including Doug Mahugh's frank explanation of OOXML:

“It’s a Simple Matter of [Microsoft’s] Commercial Interests!”

–Doug Mahugh on OOXML

Mozilla Firefox Meets Silverlight and Novell’s Impact on This Web Hijack

Posted in Europe, FSF, GNU/Linux, Interview, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, OpenSUSE at 1:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell supports OOXML at ODF’s expense, XAML at (X)HTML’s expense, .NET at the expense of all else

Bad Silverlight

As debates about Moonlight/Silverlight carry on, we thought it would be reasonable to bring up this new interview with the President of Mozilla Europe.

Marketing: Unfortunately the best product does not always win and unfortunately, getting open-source products in the hands of users is a hard task. Also, established, closed-source software vendors do their best to prevent open-source from spreading. They use a number of techniques to achieve this.

The first is about formats and interoperability. The game here is to prevent competing products accessing files data (files or documents) created by a proprietary application. For a long time, this issue was more important in the office applications realm. Now we are in a connected world, this issue has extended to new domains like network protocols (SMB/CIFS for printing and file sharing, for example), Internet applications (Microsoft Silverlight applications running in the browser, requiring a proprietary plug-in) and Digital Rights Management.

The second technique used by proprietary players is in the legal field, using software patents and royalty schemes and open source software is often unable to respond. For example, embedding a piece of software requiring a royalty-fee codec (such as a video) breaks the open source nature of the code, because it prevents redistribution.

Right now, such methods are being used by some vendors and are threatening the open source model. I think open source has a great future if it manages to ‘avoid’ these threats. As individual users, we need to make sure that the products we adopt are open source: In today’s world we are ever more dependent on technology and keeping it open is the best way to master it in the long term.

It is rather amazing to see how hard he tries not to name Microsoft, referring it as “some vendors”. Do you know why? Because if he points a finger specifically at Microsoft, people will call him a “zealot”, a “bigot” , a “fanboi”, a “Microsoft basher”, or even a “conspiracy theorist”. These are well-known methods for stealing attention from those who ‘dare’ to criticise abuse. Over the years, this was the technique used to paint people black because they told the truth. Just look at the personal attacks on Nicholas Negroponte and even Richard Stallman. But anyway, let us stick to the main subject again.

Mitchell recently left Mozilla (remaining on the board though) and she will be replaced by John, who gets promoted internaly. Mozilla seems to be too focused on a single product (the Web browser) although it can grow, even without Google’s money. Firefox is still at risk. It is integration and all sorts of similar tricks that can elevate Silverlight and pressure Mozilla in years to come. They need to look ahead. Just recall that recent JavaScript head-butting incident which involved Mozilla and what Tristan calls “some vendors”. Microsoft can’t sit idly while it’s losing market share and it will fight back. Memories of Netscape spring to mind.

“Anything Novell does is likely to be tied to Microsoft’s long-term ambitions.”So, what is this Silverlight/OOXML/XPS/HS/Sharepoint stack all about? Should it blindly be embraced by GNU/Linux? Will Novell sell us patent ‘protection’ for it? Do we get a discount if we exclude and subtract Mono protection (some of us don’t use it anyway)? Novell is not doing so well financially these days, and it was looking for ways to make more sales. We mustn’t forget that it willfully became a vassal to Microsoft (and it shows). Anything Novell does is likely to be tied to Microsoft’s long-term ambitions. Novell still hopes that Microsoft will save it from drowning. Remember a certain struggling company called SCO?

Unfortunately, Novell made the wrong decision, even from an egocentric point-of-view. Sales have not improved sufficiently and Novell resorted to book-cooking as means of drawing a deceiving and optimistic picture. That aside, the entire GNU/Ballux deal has been a case of Novell ‘distinguishing’ itself by FUDing competing Linux vendors along with Microsoft. And just look at the consequence. Microsoft now knows how to get paid by everyone, using Novell as ‘proof’ that GNU/Linux has what Steve Ballmer referred to as "obligations" (to Microsoft).

As a general note, OpenSUSE will be fine even without Novell, but only if volunteer developers keep up th good e work or defect to create a separate company that capitalises on SUSE’s codecase independenly. One thing to watch out for is this gotcha (watch bottom part about a pledge to OpenSUSE developers, which is atrocious). No wonder the (Open)SUSE folks are so afraid of the FSF. It’s probably reciprocal because the FSF is quietly angry at Novell.

Watch this cheap shot from SUSEForums. It’s part of a pattern of smears that sometimes involve the GPL, sometimes the FSF, and sometimes Groklaw. We covered some other examples here before [1, 2, 3, 4].

Warning: This interview contains Richard’s view of reality, which may or may not match the reality you’ve observed.

Is that really tactful?

Novell has been hoping to find and buy forgiveness using good deeds. Novell continues to contribute but also to detract. We mustn’t accept this risk which involves Microsoft milking money from all Linux vendors and threatening large companies until they shell out money secretly (oh yes, they do!).

“Microsoft currently collects royalties from some companies that use Linux in their computing environments, Gutierrez said. However, he declined to indicate the number, the dollar amount Microsoft receives from those payments, or identify any of the companies by name.”


As the above illustrates, the reality you hear about in the press isn’t the reality on the ground where there are back-door and boiler room deals. Al Capone would be jealous at this sight.

Intel’s Corruptions Against Linux-run OLPC Reach New Heights

Posted in Deception, Fraud, GNU/Linux, Hardware, Microsoft, OLPC at 12:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Convicted monopolist resorts to astroturfing

This is scandalous, yet hardly surprising. It confirms all those remarks that I made about OLPCNews in the past.

Last week we posted a quick update on Microsoft's and Intel's corruptions that are used against OLPC. The OLPC project is a charity. Intel is astroturfing to fight this charity as we have just revealed.

Here is another new one for New York antitrust investigators to look at:

The OLPC News website in the past months has build up a reputation for sharply criticizing the $100 laptop project headed up by Nicholas Negroponte.


So it doesn’t take too much of a conspiracy theorist to believe that Intel is secretly bankrolling the OLPC-News website.

Adding insult to injury, OLPC-News is buying advertising on Google to attract visitors to its website.

In the text quoted above, mind the use of the term “conspiracy theorist”, which sparked a large series of arguments recently. So, all those conspiracy theorists who said that OLPCNews must be some campaign against OLPC are not so ‘crazy’ anymore, are they? They were right on point, all along. It remains to be seen who — if anyone — is behind LANCOR’s lawsuit against OLPC.

“It hurts everyone who is an honest blogger.”As Joel Sposkly once argued, astroturfing such as the above from Intel gives a bad name to blogs. It shatters credibility, lacking clear disclosures. It hurts everyone who is an honest blogger. Interestingly enough, Spolsky was referring to Microsoft’s acts. which he then also described as “bribery”.

Just like Microsoft, Intel resorted to using fake voices on the Web (yes, Microsoft does this all the time). It even used its own employees. This is criminal behaviour, assuming one is not above the law.

Here is a lot more to this, but it escapes the scope of this Web site. How about some example incidents from Peru?

Oscar Becerra Tresierra, general director for educational technology at Peru’s Ministry of Education, says that after the country recently agreed to buy 272,500 OLPC laptops for primary-school students, an Intel sales representative tried “to scare us” by claiming the machines and their power adapters didn’t work. “I don’t feel very happy about it,” he said. “We wouldn’t like the project to fail because somebody is spreading gossip about the machines that doesn’t turn out to be true.”

Nick Negroponte says more on this:

Negroponte said Intel even tried to undo a deal One Laptop had already sealed in Peru by citing flaws in the One Laptop “XO” machine and telling government ministers “we ought to know, because we are on the board.” Such hostile comments were prohibited, Negroponte claimed, under the July peace treaty that brought Intel into the One Laptop Per Child camp.

“I want to say we tried, but it was never a partnership,” Negroponte said. “There’s not one single thing in their contract or agreement that they lived up to.”

I would personally not support chip makers that fight charities. Intel is now astroturfing and using scare tactics. Its products probably ought to be avoided, at least for the long-term public good (price, ethics, competition and development).

Microsoft’s role in this smear campaign and the sabotage of OLPC was hardly mentioned in this post, but the most outrageous thing here is that Microsoft now wants to virtually eat the lunch of that whom it shot. We recently cited this guy who welcomes Microsoft’s hijack of a project that people have donated to. Always remember this admission:

“Although about 3 million computers get sold every year in China, but people don’t pay for the software [...] Someday they will, though. As long as they are going to steal it, we want them to steal ours. They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”

Bill Gates

When poor people and children are seen as customers, then you know the world has gone awry. When a company as wealthy as Intel attacks a charity, then you barely have hope for decent human behaviour.

This following has been said before, but it is worth repeating, expanding on, or rephrasing. When people look back at this as a history lesson, they will not ‘get’ the real story. The literature and press is so strictly controlled by corporations such as Microsoft, so all one will see are the smear campaigns against Nick Negroponte. This includes attacks on him which were launched by secret Intel blogs and Microsoft mouthpieces like Rob Enderle (he too has attacked the OLPC many times before). How appalling.

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