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02.16.08

Links 17/02/2008: New Linux Kernel RC, Sun After Linux, Microsoft’s (and Toshiba’s) HD DVD Defeated

Posted in News Roundup at 11:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Beware the OOXML AstroTurfer: “The Wraith”, “multivac1”, “hAl”, Among Other Nyms

Posted in FUD, IBM, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 11:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Analysts: Analysts sell out – that’s their business model But they are very concerned that they never look like they are selling out, so that makes them very prickly to work with.”

Microsoft

The previous post spoke about smears targeting individuals, not just competition in the technical sense. This post can be considered a separate followup.

We previously gave many examples of cases where Microsoft is caught paying bloggers, independent individual and even experts to promote Microsoft and attack its competition. This is far from new and Microsoft strategises on such dirty tactics, by its very own admission.

As far as OOXML goes, Microsoft does this too. It is no exception. For instance, we have already seen the company paying experts to edit Wikipedia in Microsoft’s (and OOXML’s) favour. This is more than an isolated incident. It’s very systematic and there are references that cohesively make a very compelling proof of this.

“On the Internet, these forces which he refers to are almost always anonymous (arbitrary name/pseudonym). It is a case of isomorphism (nymshifting) — and often enough they use Web proxies to cover their traces.”Smear campaigns are secretly run against individuals that make Microsoft a little bit nervous. Approximately a year ago, a journalist was accidentally sent a dossier which Microsoft had collected about him for a long time. Microsoft spies on people. It collects intelligence, by its own admission. Further, the journalist argued openly that whenever he writes about Microsoft, many forces are quietly aligned against him. On the Internet, these forces which he refers to are almost always anonymous (arbitrary name/pseudonym). It is a case of isomorphism (nymshifting) — and often enough they use Web proxies to cover their traces.

The title of this post contains a variation — in terms of names — of what seems to be one single individual who assaulted Groklaw with endless anti-ODF comments (before getting banned and then defended by Doug "OOXML is a Simple Matter of Commercial Interests!" Mahugh). That anonymous, pseudonymous character also started a blog called OoxmlHoaxes where IBM is attacked. Very mysterious. How does Doug know that person who has no public identity? Why is his/her blog being cited by anti-ODF and pro-OOXML posters in USENET? Using another new identity, “hAl”, the same person appears to be striking in other pro-ODF blogs as well, including ours. The messages are typically anti-ODF rather than defensive of OOXML, which is the issue at hand.

“How can we confirm that this is the same entity,” you ask? Based on the person’s postings, which are consistent. You can see the same message carried under different names from one site to another in a matter of minutes. All the messages appear to be the same person. Is this a “job application for OOXML evangelism”, to use a phrase that recently described the Burton Group's involvement? If so, why is it anonymous?

We have inquired to see what other ODF volunteers can make of it. Here is one response that was received promptly:


hAl has left several comments on my last post. He is a like Jeff Waugh, always wants to get the last comment in. My instinct tells me he definitely a paid shrill. When he cannot argue in favor of OOXML he attacks ODF. He also is always active on the OOXML Wiki page.

You referring to this site: http://ooxmlhoaxes.blogspot.com/ ?

I also trying to find out who is running this site: http://robweird.wordpress.com/ This one pisses me off…..


We should really put together a list of foes to standards, culture (copyrights) and programming (software patents). This is a broad and worrisome phenomenon. We already have a list of reporters with accompanying ranks of credibility.

Some people are motivated by good deeds. To some — money outdoes deeds. Speaking of which, the volunteers from Open Malaysia point out the latest work of the ODF Alliance on showing ODF’s facilitation for the disabled.

Does OOXML meet the accessibility needs of “persons with different abilities”? The ODF Alliance posted an Issue Brief, ODF’s Benchmark for Accessibility that discusses these questions.

Remember that Microsoft snubs the Muslim world with OOXML and also remember how it used accessibility lies to stifle adoption of ODF in Massachusetts and maybe elsewhere too.

Microsoft Launches “Get the Facts”-esque Smear Campaign Against ODF and OOXML’s Critics

Posted in Deception, ECMA, IBM, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 10:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“When you control the minds, you control the people”

Here we go again. This is both a sign of desperation and of censorship. Microsoft cannot handle the truth, so it shells out money to change it. It acquires a perceived truth.

“It is a case where Microsoft literally buys ad placements to ‘poison’ pages where information about a rival product/service appears.”Since Microsoft is approaching debt, it ought to be careful with those spendings, but then again, it’s the Cash Cow that we speak of. Mind the last reference at the bottom of this recent post about Microsoft’s willingness to do anything (even break the law) to protect Office.

As a bit of background, “Get the Facts” is the phrase borrowed from particular set of libelous ads that are based on Microsoft-commissioned studies (c/f Microsoft’s "Evangelism is War"). It is a case where Microsoft literally buys ad placements to ‘poison’ pages where information about a rival product/service appears. In the case of GNU/Linux, anti-Linux material will show up and accompany the original content of the page, spoiling the overall impression one gets. It’s information control.

We previous covered Microsoft’s gaming of search engines and spamming of YouTube, but here comes a new observation:

Google searches for “ODF” and “OpenDocument” or even “noooxml” are now returning sponsored links with phrases like “Learn the truth about the standard for interoperability” that lead you to a pro-OOXML petition on Microsoft’s faux OOXML community site. For example, try this query. [link to search on "ODF"]

Let’s see if I understand how this pay-per-click system works. Every time I click these sponsored links, money gets transferred out of some pro-OOXML supporter’s bank account and is sent to Google? These seems the expensive route to go, but there is some logic to it. A look at Google Trends shows that Google queries for “ODF” far outnumber queries for “OOXML”.

On the other side, at the real <NO>OOXML petition, the count stands at 82,422 signatures. Apparently they did not need to trick people into visiting their web site.

But wait, wait, wait! That’s not the whole story. Attacking ODF through search engines is not enough for Microsoft in order to accomplish its goals which verge what we call “brainwash”. It goes further than this. It attacks people, too. Why? Because they ‘dare’ to say the truth, which Microsoft finds rather inconvenient. From the same new post about the already-corrupted BRM in Geneva [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]:

I’ll be attending the BRM as part of the US delegation, leaving for Geneva a week from today. I am awed by the security apparatus which is being rolled out to ensure the integrity of the open standards process. Photo ID requirements, badged access to the meeting room, prohibitions against cameras and recording devices, no observers, no press. Truly, this is what open standards are all about.

Our delegation has been warned that there will be a dangerous group of agitators at the event and we may need to walk past them to get to the meeting room, and we should not lend our support in any fashion to this event, which includes such known disruptive elements as Vint Cerf, Håkon Wium Lie, Bob Sutor, and Andy Updegrove. Eyes front, do not look to the left, do not look to the right.

I’m certainly impressed that JTC1 is taking the BRM process so seriously, and everyone is so concerned with the integrity of the process. But I must wonder where all this attention was when NB’s were reporting to JTC1 that OOXML was too large to review under Fast Track procedures? Where was the concern when NB’s were objecting that the proposal contradicted numerous international standards? Where were the precautions when committees were being stuffed, and new NB’s were joining JTC1 only days before the ballot ended? Who was watching out for the integrity of the process then? Why is an OFE panel discussion on “Standards and the Future of the Internet – the role of open standards, standards development and standards organisations for innovation and healthy marketplaces” by international experts on the subject a threat to the international standards system, but no one in JTC1 even blinks when Côte-d’Ivoire joins JTC1 as a P-member three days before the end of a 6-month standardization process and vote “Yes” without comments on a 6,000 page proposal?

Smear campaigns using shills will be alluded to in the next post. Their goal is to praise OOXML proponents and embarrass critics in public, often putting labels on them, such as “conspirator”, or “anti-Microsoft” or “zealot”, simply because they know too much. They saw (even documented) Microsoft’s corruption of the entire process.

The Adoption Rate of the GNU GPLv3 Leaps by a Third

Posted in FSF, FUD, GPL, Novell, Security at 10:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell may not like this, but the GPL version 3 is on a roll. Here is the very latest report from Palamida.

As of February 15th, our GPL v3 database contains 1740 GPL v3 projects, which is an increase of 66 GPL v3 projects, above our expected 50 new projects a week.

Palamida continues to show that GPLv3 is widely accepted, but let us pause and also consider Palamida’s motives. Earlier this week we criticised the company for liaising with a GPL critic and possibly a GPL violator too. Palamida sometimes uses a tinge of scare tactics in order to attract business, which is fair enough only as long as this is done responsibly. Apparently it is. The company’s leader has just published an article that shows the company’s goals. Here is one of the better parts:

The widespread acceptance of open source continues to grow as an important alternative to commercial software. It is safe to say that open source is everywhere and is being used within your organisation whether or not you are aware of it. In fact, it makes up at least 30 per cent of the total lines of code in all software applications – both internally developed, and commercial software applications installed on your network.

Overall, Palamida’s demonstration of GPLv3′s acceptance is commendable. It does not deserve too much flak for wanting something in return, as long as it does not cross that blurry line.

The GNU GPLv3 gains acceptance

Stephen Norris: Why SCO? And Why Now?

Posted in Courtroom, DRM, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, SCO at 9:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Further to our previous short coverage [1, 2] of the SCO-Stephen Norris affairs, consider the following new article.

But aside from that, I analyze it like this: Who benefits from this move? Aside from the privacy elements, whereby the SCO ship sinks in a private pond with no worry about piercing the corporate veil, since there is money in this plan to pay Novell and others, there is the avoidance of any antitrust worries Microsoft might conceivably face from airing of linen. But I think it’s more about holding on to business. The military is switching to Linux. That’s a huge loss to Microsoft, of course, but it’s also a huge loss to companies that supply services and proprietary software applications to the military. Some folks might not like that the switch to Linux is happening. It will be worse for them if other government agencies and entities decide to follow the DOD’s lead.

What to do? What to do? Maybe at least slow down the process by putting Linux under a legal cloud of uncertainty, at a minimum, at least for several more years, and/or under a financial burden, at best, should they prevail?

[...]

If Microsoft is behind the deal, though, I do think it raises legitimate antitrust concerns. Whether anyone will care, since it’s all cloaked in IP claims, is another story. If I were Novell or IBM or any creditor, I’d very much want some proof that Stephen Norris Capital Partners really has $100 Milllion. I’d want the court to make them escrow it.

“Why would Stephen Norris invest (it later turned out to be a takeover)? Is it the infamy of Darl McBride that he wishes to inherit?”It may be too early to find compelling connections between Stephen Norris’s investment and Microsoft. There is no court evidence as strong as was obtained to establish the connection between Microsoft and BayStar, which invested heavily in SCO.

Going by another train of thought and practicing simple logic, we must ask ourselves, why? And why now? When investigating the BBC’s (and Microsoft’s) motives with the Windows XP-only iPlayer we found ourselves asking similar questions. Who would benefit? Who is whose employer and what about employment history, affiliations, and obligations? The more we explored, the move evidence we found. There are too many questions the BBC is unable to answer.

Going back on topic, there is little or no reason for Stephen Norris to chuck so much money at a company which is worth so little, has too little to show in court, and owns money to quite a few parties which it had attacked. Why would Stephen Norris invest (it later turned out to be a takeover)? Is it the infamy of Darl McBride that he wishes to inherit? Even the Microsoft-affiliated Motley Fool asks some similar questions.

Assuming that the legal system hasn’t gone entirely bonkers yet, the investment also sets Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) up to follow its lawsuit against SCO to its logical conclusion, after the IBM suit fizzles out. If I were Red Hat, I’d send Stephen Norris a thank-you note. Seriously, guys — what were you thinking?

I will probably publish an article about this on Monday, but we lack concrete evidence that can even insinuate that Stephen Norris spoke to Microsoft (indirectly or indirectly). This seems like a BayStar 2.0 no matter how you look at it. We have counted at least 3 generations of legal attacks (by proxy) on Linux. Might this be another ingredient of this attack vector?

Microsoft Seeks to Own Page-flipping, Using the Broken USPTO

Posted in America, Finance, Microsoft, Patents at 9:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

This you may not believe, but given some of the examples that we will get to in a moment, it’s hardly shocking. Have a look at this new patent application from Microsoft.

A newly published and quite intriguing Patent application from Microsoft describes technology for hand-activating page turning of Microsoft documents.

Here’s how this would work. You’re on a touchscreen PC, or Windows Mobile-powered device, reading through a Word doc or Power Point file. Rather than use a mouse or a trackball to prompt the document ti advance from one page or screen to the next, you’d simply flick your finger (now,now, let’s be polite) in the corner of the document. That would prompt the page to be turned.

If you think it’s a step too far, then watch previous articles such as:

A reform is desperately needed in order for sanity to be restored and then maintained, but there remain unnecessary obstacles. [via Groklaw]

Universities and colleges have also watched the debate closely and last week complained that their position was being misinterpreted by a rival coalition. In a letter Feb. 5 to Leahy and Sen. Arlen Specter (R-Pa.), the Judiciary Committee’s ranking member, the American Association of Universities (AAU) said a document distributed by the Coalition for Patent Fairness (CPF) “seriously misrepresents university views.” The CPF, an alliance of several tech giants, indicated that academics were fully behind the bill as now written. However, AAU Executive Vice President John Vaughn wrote, “That is not so.”

The main issue with (software) patents is that once they are granted, if you need to revoke them all, compensation might be necessary. But the United States is a victim of self-inflicted recession, so what are the chances of the Congress endorsing such a 180?

Links 16/02/2008: GNU/Linux Progress, Reviews; Many New Troubles for Microsoft

Posted in News Roundup at 9:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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