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07.15.08

ISO and Microsoft: Lesson in Teamwork?

Posted in Africa, America, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, Standard at 3:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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

–Microsoft’s Doug Mahugh about OOXML in Malaysia

Ever since ISO had collapsed and left room for Microsoft to do its mischiefs, ISO’s behaviour has been as suspicious as Microsoft’s. At the moment, Groklaw is putting up the texts of the appeals, which make an appalling sight at the ISO process. Here’s just one example.

NB/MB COmment VE-0002 – BRM Question Number 142 – Covered in BRM? No – Appropriately addressed? NO. The use of BLOBs (Binary Large Objects) is maintained, without specifying mechanisms for retrieving/displaying them and also leaving the implementation up to the developer without any specification.

That’s geek for “No one can use OOXML at the moment but Microsoft, because only it knows how to retrieve/display the proprietary parts.” Is it a standard if only one proprietary company can implement it fully, because only they have the key to all the doors, so to speak? Isn’t equal access and full specification kind of the point of a standard?

Speaking of keys to doors, nothing is said there about serious security implications. And wait, there’s more.

Among the articles about what ISO refuses to confirm, there’s this.

“We respect the expertise of ISO’s and IEC’s staff with regard to their procedures and processes, and we hope that the appeals will be resolved soon,” a company spokesperson told InternetNews.com in an e-mailed statement.

Is that the same ISO whose rules were changed by a Microsoft lobbyist? Whose “expertise” does Microsoft “respect”, as it puts it in this statement? Is it really ISO’s?

How much of this process has already been gamed? How many people has Microsoft reportedly ‘tinkered’ with by now? We already know that Microsoft had some American diplomats, the French president and the Mexican president involved. That’s nothing to sneeze at. ISO’s leadership is small potatoes compared to leaders of countries that size.

Another post about South Africa’s appeal raises some important points. It can be summarised thusly:

South Africa also believes that the process from beginning to end “has harmed the reputations of both ISO and the IEC” which in turn has also harmed the reputations of all member bodies. That is the saddest part, to me. ISO always had a fine reputation, and it has so many excellent people involved in standards work who have toiled for years tirelessly and competently. But it’s a new day.

Some people still have some faith in ISO, but ISO will never be the same. Microsoft touched it.

ISO for sale
Photo from the public domain

Novell Loses Business to Its ‘Partner’ Microsoft

Posted in IBM, Microsoft, NetWare, Patents, Ron Hovsepian at 3:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

That’s what partners are for

Novell’s business is in a sad situation. Its legacy component gets devoured more quickly than the minuscule new components grow. Like many other companies, Novell appears to be cutting down its workforce or moving overseas by announcing layoffs, to be followed by recruitment somewhere cheaper.

Almost the only person who benefits seems to be the CEO. Is it a reward for failing to reverse the trend? Darl McBride too received a pay rise after he had filed for bankruptcy (and possibly yet to face criminal charges).

One of the culprits in Novell’s demise is, ironically enough, also its exploitative partner. It’s a one-way relationship and here is the latest example.

National operations technology manager Ian Kirby says Novell’s GroupWise didn’t offer the necessary integration with the company’s document management software.

“When you’ve got an explosion in the volume of email, it’s a lot easier and quicker to drag and drop emails into a matter-centric folder, so each client is represented by a folder in the document management system and each matter is a sub-folder of that,” Kirby says.

So they move to Microsoft.

“IBM, like Microsoft, is a believer in intellectual monopolies and holder of even more.”To put things in perspective, whenever Novell is ‘permitted’ to deploy SUSE Linux for a customer, it must pay Microsoft for the privilege. When Microsoft grabs Novell territories, Novell receives not even a dime. It’s an abusive relationship that Ron Hovsepian entered willfully.

While on this subject of patent relationships, it’s worth bringing up another article from the news. Hovsepian’s ‘mother ship’, IBM, which may or may not have been a backer and pusher for the deal with Microsoft, continues to deploy the Microsoft-taxed SUSE in its mainframes.

Cognos, which IBM bought for $4.9 billion last November, bypassed three IBM operating systems (z/OS, z/VM and z/VSE) and instead chose IBM System z for Linux and Novell’s SUSE for its entrée into the mainframe market. An IBM mainframe version for Red Hat Enterprise Linux (RHEL) is also in the works.

We previously wrote about the situation with Red Hat [1, 2]. It seems possible that the Novell/IBM relationship runs deeper. IBM, like Microsoft, is a believer in intellectual monopolies and holder of even more.

Had IBM rejected Microsoft’s ludicrous claims against GNU/Linux, then it would also steer away from Novell, which feeds its predatory rival (giving it both money and legal ammunition).

Microsoft Novell

Links 15/07/2008: NEC Embraces GNU/Linux, FCC Rejects Vista

Posted in News Roundup at 1:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

Ubuntu

KDE

F/OSS

Applications

Devices

  • NEC launches embedded Linux

    Similar to the Splashtop embedded Linux OS developed by Asus but with a security-oriented thrust, the hypervisor – known as HyperCore – will be able to take advantage of virtualisation extensions built in to the latest generation of Intel chips in order to run at full speed without impacting the performance of the main operating system.

  • Linux Edges One Step Closer to Total World Domination

    Microsoft told the world which desktop OS to use, and the business world listened. The innocent little Linux-based smartphone may change all that. As consumers become comfortable with Linux on handheld devices, they will likely influence decisions at their places of employment. This could be the beginning of the end of the Windows world as we know it, suggests LinuxInsider columnist Jeremiah T. Gray.

  • MontaVista Linux Carrier Grade Edition First to Comply with Three Key Specifications for Telecom Industry

Rights

Microsoft

Windows Botnets

Links 15/07/2008: No More Solaris for Salesforce.com, New Migrations to GNU/Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 5:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

Qt/KDE

  • Chinese educational handhelds get Qt
  • KDE Commit Digest: Issue 114

    Global keyboard shortcuts for applets, and an Amarok and “python expression” runner in Plasma. A Java test applet and various interaction improvements in Plasma. Simple network and CPU monitors in the system-monitor Plasmoid. Initial import of PeachyDock, a Plasma-based alternative panel.

F/OSS

OpenOffice.org

SaaS

Abuse of Rights

Attacking the Messenger and Rewriting/Forgetting History

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 5:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The ‘history rewrite’ phenomenon is all too common

Two like-minded crooks, Carl Icahn and Microsoft, continue to bully Yahoo. In the process, they are trying to rewrite an embarrassing history.

Rewriting of stories about atrocious behaviour is dangerous. It permits criminals to persist with old practices without getting reprimanded or a disturbing patterns be identified to justify severe punishment. It means that many will be harmed in an unstoppable path of destruction.

“It means that many will be harmed in an unstoppable path of destruction.”Joe Barr published a variety of very interesting (albeit old) articles that are worth exploring. He brought up a lot of truth during the course of his career. Amid the overrhyped departure of Gates, others do the same. Some who even cite Barr call it a case of rewriting history.

We criticised Slashdot before, taking into account a variety of reasons, notably the promotion of Microsoft technologies that try to sway open source developers away from GNU/Linux and the GPL. If anything, Slashdot has become less biased over the years, but the Microsoft-sympathetic crowd continues to dislike it.

Remember Microsoft Jack? He is once again attacking the messenger, in this case Slashdot, USENET and other sources of information that are not funded or sheltered by Microsoft.

Slashdot: ‘The downside of nerdy sites is that they attract lots of nerds’

[...]

Unfortunately, one of the downsides of nerdy sites is that they attract loads of nerds. These are the people who don’t have girlfriends or proper jobs; who live on pizza in their parents’ basement, and rarely see the sun; who have an encyclopedic knowledge of Star Wars but no common sense.

[...]

Slashdot’s standard nerd hypocrisy is another running gag. Everyone knows that anything related to Apple/Linux/open source is innovative and cool, whereas if Microsoft had done exactly the same thing, it would be evil and monopolistic. Double standards rule.

How is it a double standard?

He sees nothing wrong with a company which does all these things.

Free Software and Patent Settlements: It’s All Wrong

Posted in Courtroom, KDE, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Red Hat, SUN at 4:57 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Thou shalt not know

Y

esterday it was shown that Red Hat had paid in vain for software patents that would not be valid anyway. At the time, Red Hat was seen as a courageous patent swatter, but not everyone is happy. Here is quite a legitimate new criticism. (strong language warning)

It’s not that Sun has better lawyers than Red Hat. It’s that Sun has better top management than Red Hat! The #1 Linux company gave the wrong message to the community, going for petty deals and thinking “wow, we’re great because we did better than Novell!”. Red Hat is a shame, period. They were simply feeding the trolls — it’s the same as when you simply pay the protection tax to the Mafia instead of calling the police and trying to fight with the evildoers.

Here is another software patent that potentially goes on death row, which only comes to prove that such patents are pointless and spineless once properly challenged.

The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office agreed to re-examine online-gaming patent 6,264,560 after the Electronic Frontier Foundation challenged it on the grounds that the technology covered by the patent had been used extensively before it was issued.

Looking back, Stallman’s claim that “fighting patents one by one will never eliminate the danger of software patents, any more than swatting mosquitoes will eliminate malaria” still makes perfect sense.

An important thing to keep in mind is not where patents exist, but also who holds them and is willing to litigate without success only to create fear (think along the lines of SCO). That’s why we constantly warn about Mono (last done so yesterday).

We mentioned Mono bindings in KDE about a year ago and now comes this about Plasma (KDE4) applets in C# and Ruby (thanks to Al Roberts for the tip).

The Ruby and C# ScriptEngines application apis are pretty much identical to the C++ one, and both bindings have that wrapped too in case you need to use it. For instance, you can’t write Plasma containments in ScriptEngine based applets, but for 95% of use cases it should be just fine. In the C++ based apis the main class is Plasma.Applet for C# or Plasma::Applet for Ruby, whereas the main classes in the ScriptEngine bindings are PlasmaScripting.Applet and PlasmaScripting::Applet respectively. So you just make your applet a subclass of one of those, add some slightly different entries in it .desktop file and use the standard directory structure for Plasmoids for where you put the source code, C# .dll and other resources. Everything else is the same.

It’s hugely important to keep Microsoft’s intellectual monopolies away from the Free Desktop. An ‘intellectual’ dependency is just what Novell and Microsoft want to achieve in order to increase their power and ownership of it.

Other New Items of Interest

Digital Majority has collected a bunch of new stories.

The first one is a complaint about the patent system as a whole. It comes from none other than the Wall Street Journal and it concludes with:

Our patent system for most innovations has become patently absurd. It’s a disincentive at a time when we expect software and other technology companies to be the growth engine of the economy. Imagine how much more productive our information-driven economy would be if the patent system lived up to the intention of the Founders, by encouraging progress instead of suppressing it.

The issue of software patents is soon to be discussed because it is so controversial.

Over the last several years, the Supreme Court and the Federal Circuit have taken a number of steps suggesting that the law governing software patents is still very much in flux.

Somewhat of an odd sibling of software patents, BM patents, are still hinged on the question about patentability of non-physical (amorous or perceptual) things. Can thought alone be a violation? Can you force someone to ‘unknow’ a part of science or demand payment for it? Can patents be violated using pen and paper? It’s an interesting debate that can help defeat software patents.

This claim is interesting because like Wasynczuk, it involves a system claim that is not patentable subject matter.

Only in a world with Gates and Windows can people be forbidden from peering outside, looking for simple ideas. It’s a world where research and exploration — let alone thought — can be a crime.

At the end of the day, the only criminals are those pushing for such laws.

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