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08.03.08

Links 03/08/2008: GNU/Linux in Schools, Yahoo! Likely Plagued by Insiders

Posted in News Roundup at 4:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

  • Ace in the hole

    The Aspire One sells for P18,800 for the Linux version, making it the most attractively-priced netbook in the market today. For that price, you get an Intel Atom N270 processor, an 8.9-inch LCD screen, 1 gigabyte (GB) of memory, an 8GB flash drive for storage, built in Wi-Fi and Ethernet and a built-in Web cam.

    The Aspire One comes with a good selection of free software, starting with the operating system, Linpus Lite, a version of Linux based on Fedora. Remarkably, the Aspire One boots up and is ready to use in less than 30 seconds.

  • Teaching tech to tots: The use of Linux and open source in pre-schools

    If you are a parent or educator, do look into what open source software has to offer you, and do so without fear that your child will have difficulties transitioning from Microsoft Windows to a Linux environment.

  • Plat’Home OpenBlockS: Made in Japan

    So what is this thing good for? Well, just about anything. If you want to build a specialized solid state mission critical appliance that runs a custom PHP/MySQL application, or want to develop VPN gateways and Asterisk VOIP routers, or just like to hack around with a low-power Linux machine under your desk at work, this is the geek’s equivalent of a Linux Heathkit. Plat’Home has also recently started a contest where you can win a Microserver if you can come up with some great application that beats the living hell out of it.

Clouds

F/OSS

  • Free Software leader slams NZ copyright

    “DRM is nearly always the result of a conspiracy of companies to restrict the technology available to the public. Such conspiracy should be a crime, and the executives responsible for it should be sentenced to prison.”

  • Is Free Software dependent on the Internet?

    Is Free Software dependent on the Internet? I have fantasized a (hopefully) comical situation that describes where I believe Free Software would be today if the Internet had never been invented.

  • Free software is better for web pages

    Despite the considerable advances that the free software has made in the last years in its «market share» in different fields in informatics, only in a few of this fields free software has the supremacy. One of these is the field of web servers.

  • Microsoft’s annual report: A study in open-source awareness…and ignorance

    In reading through Microsoft’s annual report, I am struck by how far the company has come in appreciating the threat that open source brings to Redmond.

Microsoft

Yahoo

Quick Mention: Microsoft. Anti-monopoly Lawsuit. China.

Posted in Antitrust, Asia, Finance, Microsoft at 4:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There was a large batch of lesser-confirmed reports several weeks back (later refuted by some), but this new one seems like it’s worth trusting:

As China’s first anti-monopoly law went into effect on August 1, 2008, Microsoft (MSFT) has been targeted by Chinese IT companies for suspected monopolistic activities and may become the first defendant in a Chinese anti-monopoly lawsuit.

Interesting times ahead. According to one man’s calculations, Microsoft has lost more than $110,000,000,000 in market cap over the past year. To quote in full: “Microsoft has now lost over 110 billion in market cap. This is based on current outstanding shares and price decline over the year. This doesn’t take into account Microsoft’s stock buy-back, including purchase of shares owned by Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer, which were purchased to keep the sales from flooding the market and crashing the stock price.”

Waggener Edstrom, Maureen O’Gara and Other Microsoft Shills

Posted in Antitrust, Deception, Fraud, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, SCO at 10:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

LinuxWorld, which will begin tomorrow, promises to deliver some major news for Linux. But people should remember the planting of articles to sabotage a Linux announcement on behalf of Microsoft (via a marketing proxy, as usual). King of the Microsoft Munchkins, Waggener Edstrom [1, 2, 3] , was directly involved. This seems like criminal stuff and it was covered here before. It’s a smoking gun, no doubt. Other names that are mentioned there include John Markoff of the New York Times. Be sure to read it. other bits of interest (not related to the smoking gun) include:

Speaking of plots thickening, back when Maureen O’Gara published her stalking article, I received an email from Jeff Merkey in May of 2005, claiming to have been involved: “If you are wondering who gave MOG your address and who tracked you down, well, guess who? Now that you have been exposed, my task is complete here.” I have no way to verify if the claim is true, of course. It may be like bombings in the Middle East. How do you know if those claiming responsibility are being truthful? I mention it because someone using the nym basicdistrust whom the locals on SCOX Yahoo! message board seem to think is Merkey just posted a rant about me, which ended, “Death to Linux! Hell to dishonest paralegals!!” I take that as a potential threat against my person, actually. Just in case anything happens to me, you’ll know where else to begin looking for clues in SCOworld and its environs.

We wrote about Microsoft and the New York Times before.

Growlaw has various bits that suggest Victor Raisys may be another Microsoft/SCO mole. She draws no conclusions, but only shares evidence. Be sure to read and learn.

Do you, by any chance, remember the name Victor Raisys? He was a technology analyst at Soundview Technology Group, who predicted difficulties for Linux when the SCO litigation began in 2003.

[...]

I’m a simple soul, and while I realize that odd coincidences do happen in life, I still can’t help but notice a man, whose job at Microsoft was to figure out how to stop Linux, showing up at Soundview just when the SCO litigation began, where he mirrored the Microsoft position regarding the threat to Linux SCO represented and dissing Red Hat. In the end, what it all means I’ll have to leave to others. My role is research, which I present with links so you can verify and reach your own conclusions.

For those wondering what it’s all about:

This story is more than the apparent history lesson – a history that we’ve lived through together.

Microsoft has seeded employees throughout industry – and occasionally that placement has been blatant – as brought to light in the MA-OOXML and ISO down-your-throats debacle.

In propagandist positioning, this tendency has been particularly strong – recall MoG and her husband and their transparency concerning towing the Microsoft barge down its canal.

The “single source of negativity” articles that Victor Raisys has participated in certainly fits into that pattern.

They work like a movement (of Microsoft), backed by insiders. Don’t believe anything you read and trust nothing that happens. You only ever see the facet of a watch, but none of the many cogwheels behind the shiny casing.

Links 03/08/2008: GNU/Linux Multi-touch, Intellectual Monopoly Wrecks

Posted in News Roundup at 9:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

F/OSS

Intellectual Monopolies

  • End of the Blog

    Like Humpty-Dumpty, the copyright law we used to know can never be put back together again: multilateral and trade agreements have ensured that, and quite deliberately.

  • Trademark Insanity

    It’s bad enough that we have to deal with struggles over the use of trademarks that have become generic terms, like “Xerox” and “Coke”, and trademarks that were already generic terms among specialists, such as “Windows”, but a new low in trademarking has been reached by the joint efforts of Dell and the US Patent and Trademark Office.

    [...]

    In other words, this is a pure example of theft from the public domain. Speakers of English have a term, “cloud computing”, which the US government is on the verge of privatizing and assigning exclusively to Dell.

IRC Log for August 2nd, 2008

Posted in IRC Logs at 5:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Enter the IRC channel now

Read the rest of this entry »

The Software Patents Situation and How It Affects Free Software

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 2:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Free Open Source Software

In this latest summary of reports, we concentrate mainly on the effect of the current patent terrain on FOSS. One of the bigger developments last week was Mozilla’s decision to add native Ogg Vorbis and Theora support to the build of Firefox 3.1, which is still buggy at this early alpha stage. Watch what they heroically said on the issue of patents.

[T]here is a risk to bundling even an open source codec like Theora because of the possibility of submarine patents -patents nobody knows about until a product that unknowingly infringes it, succeeds, becoming a target for the patent owner who will seek monetary compensation and a good licensing agreement. This is why the HTML 5 spec doesn’t recommend any encoder so vendors don’t have to choose between taking this kind of risk or not complying with the standard.

During today’s announcement at the Products and Technology Roadmap Mozilla Summit session, Mitchell Baker commented that Mozilla would be a bad target as it is a project with a product a lot of people cares about.

Mike Shaver, interim Mozilla’s VP of Engineering, also commented “Somebody had to do it. It’s good it was us”.

Prior to this, Opera was probably the main pusher towards it. In the case of Firefox, there’s good reach (penetration) into many PCs, so it’s truly a turning point. Other Web browsers might follow suit.

GNU/Linux

Proprietary media codecs are one ugly beast because each company tries to spread its own codecs to gain control. Standards that are patents-free are insufficient in this area, and regardless, with the attempt to pass files through the Web or among peers, there’s a need to get quite a pile of non-free codecs. There are ways of addressing this problem. Digital Majority diverts attention to the explanation from Medibuntu:

Medibuntu is a packaging project dedicated to distributing software that cannot be included in Ubuntu for various reasons, related to geographical variations in legislation regarding intellectual property, security and other issues:

* patentability of software, algorithms, formats and other abstract creation
* legal restrictions on freedom of speech or communication
* restrictions on the use of certain types of technical solution, such as cryptography
* legal restrictions on imports of software technology, requiring for example specific permissions
* etc.

The sad reality is that codecs are one of the main issues and barriers to FOSS (this goes back to an older discussion). In order to limit their damage, software patents must be abolished and not spread to more countries.

Patent Trolls

Those with nothing to lose and those who haven’t assets to defend are some of the more dangerous creatures out there. Ray Niro was mentioned here before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] and he wants the world to know, just like Nathan Myhrvold, that he wishes to abuse the industry peacefully, without being denounced or criticised.

Ray Niro doesn’t like the term “patent troll,” and has taken umbrage when that pejorative is used against his clients. It’s not unusual for patent enforcers to ask judges to ban that term from court (as Rambus did recently.) Indeed, it’s increasingly common for courts to police the use of “hot button” words generally.

Now we learn Niro doesn’t care for the term “shell entities” either; court documents filed last month lay out his novel attempt to re-align the patent patois.

If policing “JPEG on a Website” [1, 2] seems acceptable, why not wish lists?

Europe’s Back Door

The ‘wish list’ plague has already reached Europe, demonstrating the fact that software patents can be described in a way that makes them patentable in Europe. It’s a loophole which ‘artistic’ patent solicitors can get away with it. [via Digital Majority]

During the impassioned debate over a proposed European directive on software patents, opponents of software patents mounted a graphic demonstration of the problem, entitled the Patented European Webshop. The website showed that despite official proscription of patents on “computer programs as such” in Europe, patents were nonetheless granted for common website functions. This propaganda coup elicited anxiety among small businesses and played an important in defeating the directive, which would have legitimized those patents.

These poor software patents need to be destroyed before they are put up for auction and then abused by the likes of Sheldon Goldberg. It seems like another patent troll.

In the late 1990s, few would have predicted the internet would become the giant artery we use today for our commerce, entertainment and daily activities. However, back in the late 1990s, there were patents floating around for many of the tools we use on the internet…and someone bought them.

Over the last 10 months the patent buyer, Sheldon Goldberg, has filed suit against some of the largest websites out there: Careerbuilder, Blockdot, CNet, Jabez Networks, The Washington Post, The Weather Channel, The New York Times and Rochester-based eBaum’s World. Goldberg himself is based on the west coast and is known for buying patents on a variety of inventions.

Microsoft

We now know that Microsoft uses its patents offensively and it’s not reluctant to get aggressive.

Some months ago, Mark Shuttleworth told us that he was not worried about Microsoft going litigious. He was more worried about patent trolls. What Pamela Jones said in response to this was: “What Shuttleworth may not understand is that a patent troll can be a proxy for someone else who does have something to lose.

Microsoft may already be using some patent trolls against GNU/Linux [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10], but nobody knows for sure because there is no solid evidence. At the same time, based on the news, Microsoft is likely to continue to suffer from them.

Tucson-based Research Corporation Technologies said today it has won a reversal of a federal court decision that denied the local company’s charges of patent infringement against computer giant Microsoft Corp.

In what RCT called a “stunning decision” Friday, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals reversed a decision of the U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona which had held that six patents held by RCT for digital imaging technology were unenforceable due to inequitable conduct.

Even if the patent trolls had vanished overnight, this would not prevent Microsoft from funding the likes of SCO.

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