Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day
Jon Maddog Hall’s keynote presentation at FISL Con 5 in Porto Alegre, Brazil 02 (2004)
Digital Tipping Point is a Free software-like project where the raw videos are code. You can assist by participating.
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“At Microsoft I learned the truth about ActiveX and COM and I got very interested in it inmediately [sic].”
–Miguel de Icaza
For reasons and factors that make OOXML not secure, Mono is a security hazard as well. For those who are not yet convinced, there is this brand-new article which highlights the architectural failures of .NET and their impact on security. Read it.
Two security researchers have developed a new technique that essentially bypasses all of the memory protection safeguards in the Windows Vista operating system, an advance that many in the security community say will have far-reaching implications not only for Microsoft, but also on how the entire technology industry thinks about attacks.
Also in the news today is this alarming issue of 7 “critical” flaws (the highest level of severity) in Microsoft software.
Does anyone want GNU/Linux to inherit this nightmare? Is this something which belongs in the operating system which NASA, the NSA and the Department of Defense use? What about the cost implications? Beyond the issue of acquisition cost also exist the costs of maintenance, repair, and damage control. Losses incurred by leaks (espionage) and data loss are sometimes invaluable.
A few hours ago, one reader sent us the following message regarding the consequences of poor security.
Note that the bad engineering promoted by Bill Gates and his movement is probably costing Joe Sixpack upwards of 8 hours lost effort per week from malware, instability and poor interoperability. With the US in the economic situation it is in, that may be enough to knock the floor out of the recession. The failure that is Microsoft Vista may be the last straw and take down what’s left of the economy.
“The failure that is Microsoft Vista may be the last straw and take down what’s left of the economy.”Until recently, Microsoft people have been able to stifle security information. However, the EFF’s recent win paves the way forward for better technology to become more visible.
I look forward to the seeing Back-To-School Security Packets in Walmart, Best Buy, and others consisting of Xubuntu CDs.
The last 10 years have shown us nothing if not that FOSS helps make your business more recession-proof.
What we have here is an old and odd spin trotted out yet another time. The spin tries to be negative, but at the end of the day, use of FOSS has boosted the economy there by some $60 billion on unnecessary sunk costs.
Further, since were FOSS tends to lead, it leads due to better performance, quality, interoperability and maintenance, not just cost. So that leads to secondary and tertiary savings. After all, if the IT team is not having to spend all its time chasing fires, it can be far more than $60 billion in savings once the total cost of ownership is settled.
Sure a small wedge of the software sellers might have lost, but the large part of the pie consists of software users. We win here.
1) “EFF Wins Protection for Security Researchers” (2007)
2) “Vista’s Security Rendered Completely Useless by New Exploit” (2008)
“… a technique that can be used to bypass all memory
protection safeguards that Microsoft built into Windows
“… the work is a major breakthrough and there is very little
that Microsoft can do to fix the problems…”
3) “This Bug Man Is a Pest” (2008)
“…His syllabus is partly a veiled attack on McAfee,
Symantec and their ilk, whose $100 consumer products he
sees as mostly useless. If college students can beat
these antivirus programs, he argues, what good are they
for the people and businesses spending nearly $5 billion
a year on them? …”
4) “USENIX WOOT07, Exploiting Concurrency Vulnerabilities in System Call Wrappers, and the Evil Genius” (2007)
For those wondering about highly-restrained criticism of Microsoft/Windows security, a mandatory background would be the smear campaigns against security researchers. Smear campaigns are something that Microsoft is intimately familiar with [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. Remember the Geer saga, too [1, 2] (little more in [1, 2, 3]). He lost his job for saying the truth about Microsoft’s security shortcomings and the horrific state of the Web, caused largely by Microsoft and its back doors. █
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Living off one’s legacy
In the last roundup which discussed Microsoft’s approach towards debt, a sort of speculation was given with regard to Microsoft’s latest round of buybacks. It came from Bloomberg, based on analysis by UBS. We believe that Microsoft’s new buybacks (stock repurchase program) have just begun quietly. The stock surged, initiated by what Microsoft had to say, and then came these reports, which are only good news if you are an existing investor.
Bloomberg published a story today which said that the company is about to unveil a plan to buy back as much as $20 billion of its stock. The notion was attributed to UBS analyst Heather Bellini, who actually floated the idea in a July 25 analyst report. And she is not the only one who thinks a huge buyback would be a good idea: in a July 22 post, I noted a report from Friedman Billings Ramsey analyst David Hilal, who theorized that the company could do a leverage buyback and repurchase as much as $50 billion of its shares.
Microsoft’s share price is down 26 per cent so far this year. It has about $3 billion remaining of a $36.2-billion, five-year repurchase program it started in 2006.
What’s happening here is simple. Microsoft elevates its stock artificially by emptying its bank account. It’s not business success that drives the stock; it’s the pumping of money. It’s an illusion and it’s provably not sustainable. Whether it’s related to a general economical slump or not, well… that may be irrelevant. Investments in FOSS are said to have reached an all-time high. Recent headlines of relevance include:
That is a tipping point, no doubt.
As some people predicted, radical change in business models, software-wise, comes from implosion that the current recession can deliver.
Novell too is having a hard time. It’s already in ‘buybacks mode’ [1, 2]. According to the following new article from USA Today, this does not look good.
Shares of Novell (NOVL), a computer networking software maker, continue to fall as the company attempts to migrate customers to newer products.
And that’s the big risk: A cheap stock can get even cheaper as the business deteriorates. A stock may “look statistically appealing, and investors (are) seduced by it,” says Matthew Kaufler of Clover Capital. And that’s the danger, he says, of buying a stock “because of a price decline and nothing beyond that.”
Microsoft and Novell are in a similar situation and on the same boat. Moreover, they are both faking it with optimism. █
Image from Wikimedia
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Result of the vote just in…
It should be clear to see that ‘puppet nation’, which only joined very briefly in order to serve Microsoft, did not vote this time around. They have already done their job. A few of those that voted seem keen enough to go on the record and propose that Microsoft takes over.
Here is the recommendation from Canada: John Weigelt, National Technology Officer for Microsoft Canada.
Germany put down Mario Wendt of Microsoft Deutschland. Mario also
stuffed attended the horrific BRM in Geneva [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12].
For OOXML abuse stories from Germany and Canada, start at the index. It’s clear that Microsoft still strives to control ODF.
Here is the document containing this new information
[PDF]. The accompanying page is laid out below as HTML, but much the formatting is lost. █
Read the rest of this entry »
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- Tiny, 6-chip ‘open’ computer runs Linux
Embedded designer Paul Thomas is showcasing a tiny, open-sourced computer at LinuxWorld in San Francisco this week. Would-be “Linuxstamp” enthusiasts can obtain pre-built boards for the hefty sum of $120 directly from Thomas, or they can download the design for free and build it themselves.
- Dell now ships XPS and Studio notebook with Ubuntu Linux 8.04 factory installed
Dell has launched an XPS and Studio notebook with Ubuntu Linux 8.04 factory installed.
- Linux Foundation launches killer development tool
- Gentoo 2008.0: Return to greatness?
Has Gentoo gotten its act together? Only time will tell, but it sure looks like Gentoo is back on the right path. I’m sticking with it.
- Rugged handheld offers SPI expansion
New Zealand company Aceeca International has announced a ruggedized handheld computer that runs Linux. The Meazura MEZ1500 has a Marvell PXA270 processor, and a proprietary “MZIO” expansion slot that carries SPI (serial peripheral interface) signals, allowing the attachment of custom A/D (analog/digital) converter modules.
- Ubuntu Mobile Edition: Review
The mobile Internet device (MID) space is one of the fastest growing platforms with new concept designs appearing every month. Nokia was one of the earliest vendors with a product (Nokia 770) in this space to ship with a Linux operating system (OS) and continues to see solid sales with the current model 810. New concept designs come in a wide range of shapes and sizes, and many sport a Linux OS.
- Portrait: Michelle Murrain lives the open source lifestyle
Ten years ago Murrain was teaching biology and public health at Hampton College in Massachusetts, when she was recruited to help a small nonprofit get a server up on the Internet. It didn’t have enough money to afford host-provided email and a Web site, so Murrain helped the organization out with Linux.
- Being Debian leader can be ‘scary at times’
“We do have our occasional heated discussions, we have 1000+ developers and that sometimes means on any given topic, we may have 2000 opinions. There’s no telling people this is what we’re going to do, it’s more of the consensus approach. If i tried anything without a reasonable amount of backing from the developers, I’ll probably get shot,” he said with a chuckle when I met him at the British International Motor Show in London last month.
Security and Back Doors
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‘They are telling HP that they wil NOT be part of this launch and that BillG has said “fxxk HP (all divisions) if they won’t sign a Windows license.”‘
–Comes vs. Microsoft exhibit
[PDF] (more here)
Wise men have said before that, from Bill Gates himself, there are not so many ‘smoking guns’ (there’s no lack, either). He typically assigns the dirty jobs to some of his colleagues. This is shown more clearly in many of the exhibits from Comes vs. Microsoft.
At a corporate level, as a company, Microsoft uses the same technique to rid itself from guilt, liability, and legal risk. It can use one of its many partners (or a large combination thereof) to accomplish its business goals in return for something.
“Novell and Microsoft are undeniably a pair.”This type of discussion revolves around and transcends so many levels. Novell too is an example. At the sight of a particular Mono application, one reader told us yesterday (by E-mail): “Unfortunately there are many Mono apps out there now (the disease is spreading), but AFAICT this particular one is not in the core of Gnome, so it isn’t something to be uniquely concerned about.
“Anyway, I’ve completely lost interest in Gnome now. If they want to sleep with the enemy then let them … it’s their funeral. I’ll be using KDE from now on.”
This is discouraging not for the most obvious reasons because Novell wants to control the GNU/Linux desktop along with Microsoft. Novell and Microsoft are undeniably a pair.
Another reader sent us another reason for concern. It’s about ASUS and it’s something that was previously covered here and here. ASUS says that it has a new tie with Microsoft. The reader argues: “One thing I noticed this summer and going back to last year is that the pre-installed linux systems sell out fast, but take ages and ages to restock. That makes it look like the production is not following the law of supply and demand. Here’s an example with Asus:
Asus produces Linux and XP Eees in equal numbers, she
claimed, and will continue to do so: the Linux Eees are
the better selling models. “We think our version of
Linux is how we will stand out from our competitors,”
That may explain why there aren’t any now: they’ve been
sold, leaving only the less popular XP models still
available to buy.
“The article puts the blame on Intel, but Microsoft rarely works directly, see PX3096 for details. It’s the same way elsewhere.” says this reader.
“However, some hardware vendors are able to drop the leg shackles.”
This could be another example where Microsoft is pressuring OEMs. There are heaps of proven history to teach about this. It required severe legal action before discovery because Microsoft’s deal are typically focused on secrecy. Information disclosure is violation of the secret contracts.
Back to ASUS, they could be lying. Their excuses make a lot less sense than this report, which is based on this interview.
Hypothetically, says one reader, “I expect it’s more like this:
Q: Did you force Asus to make it hard to buy Linux?
Q: Did you get Intel to force Asus to make it hard to buy Linux?
Microsoft: No comment.
The reader then adds that it’s “[l]ike fronting Business Software Alliance or RIAA/MPAA to take the bad press.
“It’s just he’s doing more to apply his business tactics to his personal quest for more power. Microsoft has basically been a political beast since he started hiring up the beltway lobbyists at the end of the 1990′s. Now he’s building further, but more personally associated with himself.”
The close relationship between Intel and Microsoft was described and illustrated here, as well as in some other posts (remember the OLPC fiasco).
Further adds our reader: “IBM really has to start standing up to Microsoft.
“Which leads be back to the question I posed some months ago, what place in society is there for these people who have chosen to deceive every one else in regards to “IT” issues and have chosen to goad people and businesses into products that not only work poorly, compared to the competition, but actually cause harm.”
Examples of work by proxy also include ACT and CompTIA [1, 2], which Var Guy has just written about.
CompTIA Breakaway: Open Source Misses Big Opportunity
CompTIA Breakaway, held in Orlando, Florida, this week, was a successful conference for hundreds of VARs and managed service providers. Foolishly, open source companies that need channel strategies skipped the show. Here’s why The VAR Guy was alarmed.
The comments may be more informative than the ‘news’. Some recent examples of CompTIA’s (leg)work for Microsoft:
Also see the notes on CompTIA’s new OOXML lobbyist from EMCA [1, 2, 3]. It is an orgy of money and influence. █
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There’s lots to catch up with and here is just a summary.
Is LiMo the OIN of Mobile Linux?
This interesting new article from The Register is little cynical (that’s just the publication’s style). It seems to suggest that LiMo members may benefit from somewhat of a patent pool, a patent shield, some would say an “umbrella”. There is also some legitimate criticism:
For all its talk of openness, just a quarter of the code in the LiMo Foundation’s mobile platform is open source, making it a minefield to navigate in terms of protected patents – 300,000 patents to be precise.
“300,000 patents,” eh? Can people finally understand why OpenMoko feels cornered? Such an industrial environment fosters no development whatsoever, unless you have already established yourself as a giant, a monopoly. And then there’s the patent-trolling…
Is Microsoft Breaking the Indian Law?
This week’s main story probably comes from India. Previously we looked at how software patents can harm Free software. Microsoft understands this and it’s prepared to exploit. Watch this update from India and read this comment:
Infosys was there and pushing for software patents. They are totally against the open source and free software.
Symantec was there and also pushed for software patents.
Microsoft was there.
The Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) was also pushing for software patents.
The situation in India was last alluded to here. It could be getting worse as the county gets looted by Microsoft and its ecosystem.
Software patents are not legal in India, but Microsoft may be ‘leading the way’ by breaking law there, just as it does in South Africa. Professor Derek Keats has already accused Microsoft of breaking the law in hope of setting precedence .
Here is what came up thorough a pointer from a reader:
[ILUG-BOM] Software Patents in India
and while we were asleep three patents have been granted to Microsoft
by the indian patent office.
Just reading the initial brief tells me it this a journalled fs
coupled with some seek n sort.
This one looks like DRM but could be SSH
And this one hashes of loaded modules in mem to check that there is no
trojan module. DRM? AV?
Here is another news article about software patents and India. [via Digital Majority]
According to Richard Stallman, the co-developer of the GNU-Linux operating system and proponent of Free Software says, “Software patents are patents which cover software ideas, ideas which you would use in developing software. [...]”
With respect to computer software, in Patents (Amendment) Act, 2002, the scope of non-patentable subject matter in the Act was amended to include the following: “a mathematical method or a business method or a computer programme per se or algorithms”.
India for its part seems to have adopted the more conservative approach of the European patenting norms for software. But the Ordinance definitely has its use and relevance in today’s India, particularly for our growing domestic semi- conductor industry. This, along with judicial tempering might definitely ensure a judicious use of patent protection while allowing the industry to grow through innovations and inventions, thereby, mitigating the risks of trivial patents chocking the life out of real innovations and inventions. This is the reason a patent should always be treated as a “double edged sword”, to be wielded with caution and sensitivity.
Now whether, in reality this will be implemented on a rigid basis or will become broad in scope through application (as in the U.S.), and, more importantly, whether the Ordinance would, in fact, result in increased innovation and inventions in the software industry, remains to be seen.
What will it be in India? Please send in some feedback shall you come across information of value.
Rick Frenkel, Trolls Buster
Remember the man who exposed Patent Trolls like Ray Niro [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]?
Niro’s harassment of an innocent blogger seems to have backfired. He turned the man’s hobby into a full-time job.
Former Patent Troll Tracker blogger Rick Frenkel has left Cisco Systems and moved to Wilson Sonsini Goodrich & Rosati, a top Silicon Valley law firm, where he is of counsel. Today is his first day at the firm.
“We were impressed with his breadth and depth of experience,” said Michael Barclay, an IP litigation partner at Wilson Sonsini and a PTT reader, natch. “Rick has developed a lot of knowledge and insights about patent trolls that will be helpful to our clients who have to deal with them.”
This turn of events was also covered in an article from Law.com. Congrats to Rick. Now he can expose and depose the other Niros of the world and even get paid for it.
From patent trolls tracker to patent trolls buster.
The world need more ‘regulators’ like him.
Software Patents from Hell
Ugly, ugly, ugly.
It’s appalling to see just what’s perceived as patentable these days. The company that invented GPL circumvention (video, more about it in [1, 2]) continues to be part of the problem. It adopts intellectual monopolies as a business model. Here is the latest from this case:
Dish plans to sustain legal fight with TiVo
“You know, I know this case inside and out,” Ergen said in a conference call with analysts Monday. “We have changed that intellectual property in a way we don’t violate (TiVo’s patent) anymore. I’m just stubborn enough to say, ‘Why am I going to pay for something that we don’t violate?’ ”
Watch this one too.
The original complaint alleges defendants Cisco Systems, Juniper Networks and Aruba Networks infringe the ’118 Patent by making, using or selling wireless Internet access systems which utilize captive portal techniques to block or redirect HTTP requests.
Virtually all networking/routing equipment rendered “guilty” in one fell swoop?
Google too has just been sued for one of those infamous advertising patents. Watch the simplicity of the patent and recall how this class of patents put the entire patentability of software in jeopardy, even in the United States.
It still seems rather amusing (if not twisted) that some patent system supporters are trying to convince the world Google would be harmed by an absence of software patents. Instead, it seems increasingly obvious that it would only serve to help Google, who is a regular target of questionable patent infringement lawsuits. Take the latest such case as an example. A company by the name of Web Tracking Solutions, which ironically enough, doesn’t appear to have much of a web presence (if any), has sued Google for patent infringement, claiming that its patent on third-party on-line accounting systems is being violated by Google’s AdSense offering.
Need for Reform
There is is truly a need for change. Academics continue to endorse this message.
Arti K. Rai (Duke University School of Law) has posted Building a Better Patent System: Facially Neutral Standards with Disparate Impact (Houston Law Review, Vol. 45, 2008) on SSRN. Here is the abstract:
Prompted by persistent complaints, particularly from the information and communication technology (ICT) industries, about the dangers allegedly posed by strong patents of poor quality, both the legislative and judicial branches have recently made attempts at patent reform.
Here is another new paper on the subject.
To increase the digital economy in different countries myriad firms engage in costly R & D activities to forth innovative software effort due to the fact that achievement of competitive help. This paper covers eight countries the most developed software industry in the in every respect US and than after Europe, UK, Japan, Australia, South Africa, Malaysia, India, and Israel. These countries are having its own standard to grant software Patents, the laws followed not later than these countries are distinctly outlined one by one.
Trademark (In)Sanity in the USPTO
The problems of the USPTO run deeper than just patents. It’s more industry-oriented than logic-oriented or economy-oriented. It too easily obeys the requirements of individual companies and thus loses sight of its original goals. The Dell “Cloud Computing” debacle, which was mentioned here just very briefly, remains inconclusive — for now.
Dell had received near-final approval for its trademark application of the term “cloud computing,” but the US Patent and Trademark Office canceled its “Notice of Allowance” on Tuesday and changed the status to “returned to examination.”
This means that there are still some Clouds [pun] of uncertainty over the use of the term “cloud computing”. Watch this:
Dell’s filing described the term as “Custom manufacture of computer hardware for use in data centers and mega-scale computing environments for others.” Dell also owns the URL cloudcomputing.com.
We’ve done a quick Whois.Net lookup and here’s what it coughed out:
One Dell Way MS 8033
Round Rock TX 78682
email@example.com +1.5127283500 Fax: +1.5122833369
Domain Name: cloudcomputing.com
Registrar Name: Markmonitor.com
Registrar Whois: whois.markmonitor.com
Registrar Homepage: http://www.markmonitor.com
Dell Domain Administrative Contact
One Dell Way MS 8033
Round Rock TX 78682
firstname.lastname@example.org +1.5127283500 Fax: +1.5122833369
Technical Contact, Zone Contact:
One Dell Way
Round Rock TX 78682
email@example.com +1.5127288565 Fax: +1.5127286024
Created on..............: 2007-02-28.
Expires on..............: 2010-02-28.
Record last updated on..: 2008-02-21.
Domain servers in listed order:
It’s hopefully clear to see that this domain was registered long after the term “cloud computing” had been in common use. Dana Blankenhorn asks: Has Dell lost its mind?
Dell did not succeed in the 1990s as an intellectual property company. It succeeded by delivering precisely what buyers wanted, with bulletproof quality, at the lowest possible price.
In an open source world these are still the keys to success. Not intellectual property. Precision, value, quality.
Dell seems to be following Microsoft’s footsteps. In difficult time, it strives to capitalise on imaginary property. █
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Something that we had been looking for yesterday was finally found. It makes a pretty good description of a problem that will be discussed here briefly because it’s the nasty technique Microsoft used against Borland. It tries the same against Adobe. Possibly Novell, too.
Here is the article, which is just over a decade old.
Fierce competitors Microsoft Corp. and Borland International, Inc. have moved their battle from the networked desktop to the courtroom.
Borland last week filed suit against Microsoft, alleging that the Redmond, Wash., giant has been systematically recruiting Borland developers in an attempt to eliminate the company as a competitor. Microsoft and Borland are rivals in the budding Java and Internet tools markets.
The suit alleges that Microsoft’s Bill Gates himself sweetened the pot. Gross eventually accepted the offer, which included an additional half-million dollar bonus, last September.
A noticeably angry Borland CEO Del Yocam complained about the nerve of Microsoft. “How flagrant, driving limos up to the front of the company. That is what riles you,” Yocam complained. Yocam said his No. 1 goal is to get Microsoft to stop recruiting.
They seem to be trying the same thing with Adobe at the moment. India’s mainstream press reported on this issue a few weeks ago (previously covered here) and some months ago there were senior-level defections of this kind.
There are good reasons to suspect that the same thing happens at Novell [1, 2]. Martin Buckley and Dr. Crispin Cowan are better-known examples of this.
We recently wrote about staff intersections and warned about Ximian's influence on Novell. Novell is now recruiting .NET developers, so there’s increased convergence. IBM does not seem too happy about it and Bob Sutor is has become more vocal about it.
My one caveat with it is that it either requires .Net or Mono. I’ve removed the usual Mono applications from my Ubuntu Linux installation and am somewhat loathe to put anything requiring it on the machine. (This is a personal choice, as I’ve mentioned before.) Anyone doing a Java version or alternative implementation that is open source?
Having watched what happened to Corel and to Borland, it’s worth keeping an eye on the way Novell resembles Microsoft. It will probably become more noticeable over time. █
“Our partnership with Microsoft continues to expand.”
–Ron Hovsepian, Novell CEO
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