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02.01.08

Links 1/02/2008: Microsoft+Yahoo, Linux, Ogg, Miro, and Open-source

Posted in News Roundup at 9:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell is Microsoft’s Supercomputers Trojan Horse

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Servers, Windows at 7:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microvell

As I stressed in a recent article of mine (which made Slashdot), Linux is a big winner in the area of supercomputing. It dominates over 90% of HPC. However, under everybody’s nose, just look what Microsoft is quietly cooking:

A new resource dropped in January 2008 offers a way to integrate Windows Compute Cluster Server into a Linux Environment through Platform LSF.

“The integration of WCCS into the Linux SUSE environment enables users to submit jobs to the Platform LSF scheduler for execution on WCCS. When a job is submitted to the Platform LSF scheduler’s WCCS queue on Linux, it is transferred to the Platform LSF installation on Windows Compute Cluster Server. The Platform LSF installation running on WCCS then authenticates the user and runs the job using that user’s credentials,” Microsoft stated.

The next time someone asks you how Novell harms Linux, tell his or her about Novell’s special invitation to Microsoft. Novell just wants to sell SUSE. It cares very little about anything else and it tries to keep its new partner happy so that more coupons can be sold. SUSE, just like Moonlight, has become a pet project of Microsoft. Microsoft uses it to its own advantage, as usual.

Microsoft, Yahoo and Control of Information

Posted in BSD, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Wikipedia at 5:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Yahoo and Microsoft: friends or rivals?

Yahoo’s relationship with Microsoft is similar to that of Novell and Microsoft. Reminder yourself of our long criticism of Yahoo for political censorship and also censorship against BSD, open source and Linux. The context in which this was mentioned might seem odd. We pretty much praised a Yahoo Vice President for his description of the patent troll epidemic. The fact remains that Yahoo inappropriately handles information.

Yahoo has remained quiet about this issue for several months. Nonetheless, since deafening silence can be more damaging than acknowledgment of an issue, Yahoo finally issued a response to rising criticism of its censorship (I am partly responsible for this by the way). Here is it from The Inquirer:

FOLLOWING OUR STORY, entitled Yahoo caught censoring Open Sauce, some time ago, Yahoo!’s spin machine got in touch to clarify the situation.

[...]

“The Answers incident whereby the user’s response was removed is un-related to our thoughts on open source. The removal was due to human error, and we have since reinstated the answer.”

This happens to have made the headlines several months after I had put it at the front page of Digg.com, most probably because I lifted it again from the grave, Matt Asay then blogged it (he reads my comments) and the Inquirer quickly picked it up the following day. Here is Matt Asay’s entry:

Slated is suggesting that Yahoo! is censoring out open source on its Answers service. Apparently some suggestions that people try Ubuntu, among other things, have been marked as a “violation of…Community Guidelines or Terms of Service.”

Slated is a friend of mine and apparently, Wikipedia’s article on “Yahoo” now contains the relevant reference too (according to an E-mail I received just hours ago).

Some might say that Yahoo is a scapegoat here. Could mischievous moderators be the reason for those erased posts that speak about Free software? The rumours about a Yahoo-Microsoft takeover returned to light recently. Examples from the news:

Yahoo’s woes also may create pressure on its board to mull a possible sale to a deep-pocketed suitor like Microsoft Corp., which hopes to make more money from the online advertising boom.

Microsoft and Yahoo reportedly held informal discussions about a partnership last year before Yang — one of Yahoo’s biggest shareholders — became CEO.

Also this: Yahoo’s troubles spur new talk of a buyout

Will the company sell its soul and assets to Microsoft, with which it is already quite the partner? It is a worrisome thought, but I have been steering clear off Yahoo for almost a year when rumours first emerged about concrete negotiations between the two companies. At the time, Terry Semel was at the head of the company. And lookie here! Just yesterday Terry Semel completely disengaged from the company. Complete coincidence or complete collapse?

Terry Semel stepped down as Yahoo Inc.’s chairman Thursday, severing his ties with the slumping Internet icon 7 1/2 months after he resigned as chief executive under shareholder pressure.

What news was soon to follow? Watch this very new blog post:

Microsoft Calls Out To Yahoo Employee(s)

[...]

A member of Microsoft’s marketing staffing team has apparently sought out at least one Yahoo worker with a “we’d like to chat” message.

Wonderful! As we saw some days ago, those “chat” are a prelude to trouble [1, 2] (the same goes for Novell as we showed last week). Microsoft could truly use some staff in its Web-related division where it has been suffering a major financial blow and a major staff exodus.

But here comes the more worrying bit. A week ago we mentioned possible censorship at Google. If you are too lazy (or hurried) to read the whole overview of this issue, be aware that Google has been hiring many former Microsoft employees. These people can now game various algorithms (including search) and hand-pick information/results which are delivered via Google News. There is quite clearly some manual exclusion/selection of feeds. Filtering that is driven by humans is most likely involved to refine SEPRs that reach a large readership (e.g. “linux”, “novell”, “opendocument”, “2008 election”).

Last but not least, be aware that Yahoo seems to be breaking apart (1,000 jobs to be axed) and there is no clear strategic/recovery plan.

The hammer has fallen. Yahoo will finally make the job cuts Wall Street has craved for a long time, before a backdrop of lower profits caused by higher expenses.

Where will all these people end up? And if Microsoft inherited Yahoo’s position in search engines, what information would people receive (Microsoft is already said to be tweaking results to advance its business goal? Oh, Lordy.

Related posts

Kickbacks Watch: Plaintiffs in Suit Against Microsoft Caught (Plus Past Summary)

Posted in Antitrust, Dell, Europe, Finance, Fraud, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 4:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

For future referencing purposes, we wish to publicise the following batch of kickback stories. You never know if (and when) these will come handy as a cross-reference to have. Spotted in the news just a couple of days ago:

Kickback Case: Retired Lawyer Sentenced

The law firm, previously known as Milberg Weiss Bershad & Schulman, paid $11.3 million in kickbacks to people who became plaintiffs in class-action lawsuits against companies such as AT&T Inc., Lucent, WorldCom, Microsoft Corp. and Prudential Insurance, prosecutors said.

Here are some older stories on the subject of kickbacks (or closely-related misconduct):

1. Microsoft, Intel and Dell: The Tech Love Triangle

It is becoming well known that Microsoft have achieved their current market share status by making major computer manufacturers sign licensing deals, so as to distribute a copy of Windows with every computer sold. What many people don’t realise, is how difficult it is to get a computer from the manufacturers without Windows.

[...]

This is first-hand experience of the power of Microsoft’s monopolistic practices, and it really does annoy me. It seems not so long ago that I praised Dell for their support, but along with Microsoft, they have now lost a customer entirely.

Needless to say, we are now looking to buy a system from a local shop with no OS.

2. Investors sue Dell on payments from Intel: WSJ

An investor lawsuit seeking class-action status accuses Dell Inc. of improper accounting in its relationship with chip giant Intel, according to a media report published Thursday evening.

[...]

The suit alleges that Dell received at times as much as $1 billion a year in “secret and likely illegal” kickbacks in the form of “e-Cap” or “exception to corporate average pricing” payments” from Intel to ensure that Dell used no other chip supplier according to The Journal.

3. U.S. DOJ joins lawsuit against HP, Sun, Accenture

Suit alleges that the three companies formed an alliance with vendors and have been giving each other kickbacks on government contracts since the late 1990s.

4. Lenovo got financial help from Intel, claim

Journalists on the title said Lenovo is being paid a “pretty penny” from Intel to use its chips.

5. At Dell, Windows XP Home is $19 less than worthless

Latitude D520N Duo (with FreeDOS): $984

Latitude D520 Dual Core (with Windows XP Home Edition SP2): $965

6. Microsoft Shuts Down Linux 10 Years Ago Says Iowa Attorney

Going back now to as early as 1998, Microsoft starts to realize that Linux might pose a possible threat, and Vinod Valloppillil, who is a program manager at Microsoft, is asked by Mr. Allchin, Jim Allchin, to analyze potential strategies for combatting open-source software, and specifically Linux.
His memos are leaked to the press in April — I beg your pardon — in October of 1998 and become known as the Halloween documents. And the evidence will be that Microsoft uses its influence in the OEM channel, the computer manufacture channel, to make sure that end users have a difficult time buying PCs with Linux preinstalled.

7. Microsoft’s Dirty OEM-Secret

They are, in short the secret to Microsoft’s success. And the word secret is to be taken quite literally: No OEM may talk about the contents of his contract, or he will lose his license, and (assumption) likely be sued for breach of contract as well.

8. Did Microsoft want to ‘whack’ Dell over its Linux dealings?

9. Dell’s secret Linux fling [sabotaged by Microsoft]

10. Microsoft ‘killed Dell Linux’ – States

11. 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.

12. Microsoft Office raid in Hungary

“Such behavior could lead to the exclusion of competitive products from the market and violate European Union rules, according to the authority known as the GVH.”

13. [Larry Lessig:] Required Reading: the next 10 years

Yet governments continue to push ahead with this idiot idea — both Britain and Japan for example are considering extending existing terms. Why?

The answer is a kind of corruption of the political process. Or better, a “corruption” of the political process. I don’t mean corruption in the simple sense of bribery. I mean “corruption” in the sense that the system is so queered by the influence of money that it can’t even get an issue as simple and clear as term extension right.

14. BBC Corrupted

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.

Also of interest: watch this long post on OEM lock-in and another about BECTA. There is a lot of overlap there, but none of this is deliberate (we do try to cross-reference rather than repeat). Remember that Microsoft paid Novell a lot of money to serve Microsoft's interests.

Movell and Nicrosoft

More on (and of) Bill Gates’ Donations Against GNU/Linux

Posted in Bill Gates, Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 4:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The crusade carries on…

Consider this an update to the previous comprehensive post that contained heaps of relevant citations and cross-references. If you have not read it yet, perhaps you should. It’s self-contained in the sense that backing material is available for the claims to be seen as credible.

Glyn Moody was made aware of the issue at hand. It seems as though everyone is finally beginning to wake up. Here is the concluding paragraph from the good article from Glyn:

And so, paradoxically, the more the Bad Bill becomes the Good Bill, the more long-term harm he will do in the world of computing by spreading the Windows habit to those least able to afford it, with knock-on damage to countries’ balance of payments and the rest. Meanwhile, the increasingly-confused free software community will find that the more it tries to attack the Good Bill for doing harm in this way, it, rather than Bill, will be portrayed as bad by the growing global band of Good Bill admirers, for daring to question such manifest and munificent philanthropy.

It is a paradox indeed. It is an interesting situation because the Foundation serves as a moral shield. Just a refresher (in case you have not followed through):

“[Microsoft] are willing to lose money for years and years just to make sure that you don’t make any money, either.”

Bob Cringely

“They’ll get sort of addicted, and then we’ll somehow figure out how to collect sometime in the next decade.”

Bill Gates

“Bill Gates looks at everything as something that should be his. He acts in any way he can to make it his. It can be an idea, market share, or a contract. There is not an ounce of conscientiousness or compassion in him. The notion of fairness means nothing to him. The only thing he understands is leverage.”

Philippe Kahn

Meanwhile, in Holland, there are more signs of misconduct. Back in December we wrote quite a lot about the company’s new policies that favour open source software. Posts from December which touch on that include:

Now, mind the following update from Hans Kwint:

[ My personal opinions are between () parentheses. If you like to read a rather unbiased article, skip the bits between brackets and you should be fine - hkwint ]

[...]

Yesterday Webwereld.nl (a Dutch IT-site called “Webworld”) revealed it laid its hands on a ‘non-public’ document which describes a non-public tender for new software for 3k to 21k desktops for the financial department of the Dutch government. It seems the tender favours Microsoft and other closed software over other solutions leaving little chance for open source software. That’s because the tender asks for support for several closed / proprietary platforms like Active Directory to manage logins and firewalls, and (the patent encumbered) .NET. After protest from society and politicians, the Dutch Minister of Finance / Vice Prime Minister, Mr. W. Bos answered the Dutch government will switch to open standards and open source software in 2012, but at the moment this is not a viable option (not viable since they are locked in rather badly it seems).

[...]

BTW: To make things worse, the Dutch Competition Authority NMa is also one of the institutions which are part of the 3k to 21k desk/laptops mentioned, so this tender is also on behalf of them. That’s the very same NMa which refused several consecutive years to research the possible abuse of a dominant market position by Microsoft when it comes to the deks/laptop market although it asked for input from the community and several community groups together with the deputy minister of finance asked them to do research this issue!

Do you see what is happening here?

Nokia’s Poor History of Being Sued over Patents

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 4:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

In patent news, Nokia’s big blow has made quite a few headlines since we wrote about it. Remember that Nokia is now a patron of the KDE and owner or Qt.

A quick search reveals that Nokia lost a major battle back in November (for the second time to the same company). It was actually Qualcomm, which is often known or seen as a victim [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20], that started this whole cross-fire.

Qualcomm Wednesday won one of its many battles with Nokia over patents and related licensing fees…

A cross-licensing agreement expired in April, and Nokia has halted payments to cover its use of Qualcomm’s technology for high-speed mobile data…

What a wonderful world. Mutual attacks instead of just peace or truce?

Some months ago we asked ourselves whether or not Microsoft was attacking Linux (using mythical patents claim) as means of retialiation for the money it had lost in patent battles against it. Alcatel-Lucent comes to mind [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

Patent Troll (Ray Niro) Resorts to Attacking People, Not Just Companies

Posted in Fraud, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 4:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Web Anonymity is Officially Dead!

Shane and I were never editing anonymously anyway…

Fool us once, Ray Niro, shame on you. Fool us seven times [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], shame on us. Here is the latest update on the Ray Niro/TrollTracker situation:

Ray Niro emailed me yesterday, complaining about the personal attacks being made on him in Slashdot.

[...]

He also tells me he now definitely knows who I am. I’m waiting for confirmation, since he didn’t tell me my name. Then we’ll see. According to him, one of my “friends” turned me in for the cash. Thanks, whoever you are, if true.

Meanwhile, I might as well get rid of a couple of posts I have saved, and was planning to post next week, when I’m not going to be able to post for various reasons. You know, go out with a bang, so to speak!

In case you are new to this saga, the father of patent trolling (perhaps also the patent holder of patent trolling as a business method) offered a bounty. He became somewhat of a head-hunter seeking to find the identity of a blogger in pursuit of a sane patent system.

Anonymity was killed by the money. For similar reasons, a Microsoft blogger called mini-microsoft no longer blogs much and he rarely criticises Microsoft as much as he used to. The platform he uses, Blogger, has already leaked out details upon demand. It spilled the beans on its own customers.

“Intimidation is becoming a new method for media control, censorship and attacks against criticism.”Intimidation is becoming a new method for media control, censorship and attacks against criticism. This ought to worry you because many anonymous people out there on the Web are proven Microsoft shills. It’s not a legend, it's a fact (see examples galore). In other words, wealthy companies can deceive using anonymous figures whereas their critics get threatened.

Speaking for myself, be aware that in USENET and Digg the personal attacks against me pretty much doubled in the past week. It would be about 20 attacks per day, many of which are obscene and slanderous. This is annoying, very annoying. It’s distracting. I have asked others whether they have noticed anything similar, especially amid times when we see dumping techniques. I know for a fact that somebody else needed to stop checking E-mail because of abuse that was becoming a handful.

Anyway, getting back on subject, Ray Niro can’t just take criticism for his abuse of the patent system. When there is bribery involved, anonymity becomes an impossibility. I have seen friends whose strong desire for anonymity was of no use when they criticised Microsoft. Anonymous people with remailer thrashers and/or proxies went out of their way to publicly post full addresses of the people in question and sometimes made implicit threats. I still get a fair share of death wishes myself.

Didn’t some ‘special’ lady called Maureen O’Gaga spy to Pamela Jones a couple of years ago? Was she just a curious journalist? It is hard to tell, but the situation is appalling. If you think you can exist on the Web anonymously (and I too lived anonymously on cyberspace some years ago), then you ought to think again. If someone wants to know your identity, then you haven’t a chance in the world! Even Dan Lyons, who attacked Linux and other rivals of Microsoft under that “Fake Steve Jobs” persona, got exposed.

We covered the Dan Lyons Astroturf phenomenon several times in the past [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. This is ugly business. Very ugly.

Links 01/02/2008: Mobiles, GNOME, KDE, and Vista’s Do-Over

Posted in News Roundup at 3:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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