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08.15.08

Links 15/08/2008: New Ubuntu Alpha, Early Look at Debian

Posted in News Roundup at 7:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Debian

Ubuntu

GNU/Linux

Kernel

Sun

Codecs

F/OSS

Leftover

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Kenneth Wyrick, Community Technology Activist 01 (2004)

Ogg Theora

Digital Tipping Point is a Free software-like project where the raw videos are code. You can assist by participating.

Eye on Microsoft: More Lawsuits and a Very Grim Vista

Posted in Bill Gates, Courtroom, Google, Law, Microsoft, Security, Vista, Windows at 6:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft Sued, But It’s Not Alone

Microsoft is accused of sneaking into someone else’s territories.

Microsoft Corp. moved to Cambridge last year looking to set the world afire with innovation. Instead it got sued.

[...]

InterSystems, a longtime tenant of One Memorial Drive, says it has the rights to the space where Microsoft plans to open a laboratory and is seeking to block the behemoth from expanding. Adding to the rub, Microsoft wants to put a sign on a building where InterSystems grew from a tiny start-up to an international company.

Microsoft is also one among three companies that have just been sued in India.

Google, Microsoft, and Yahoo have been showing search ads in India that promote pre-natal sex selection in violation of Indian law, a public interest lawsuit charges.

Watch this about Google’s attitude towards Microsoft.

Google CEO Tells Jim Cramer “I never worry about Microsoft

Just days after we suggested that Google should perhaps hire financial guru Jim Cramer, who should turn up on Cramer’s Mad Money show? None other than the Google CEO Eric Schmidt!

[...]

# “I never worry about Microsoft,” Schmidt said in wrapping up his thoughts.

Maybe it’s justified. Google keeps climbing and climbing.

Despite bribing users to give Live Search a try and seeing Ballmer proclaim that Redmond is now all about advertisers, advertisers, advertisers, Microsoft has seen its search market share fall over the past 18 months according to three of the four major metrics companies tracking search traffic. No surprise: Yahoo is seeing a similar decline.

“Bad, Bad ‘Pirates’! Keep Spreading Our Software.”

We wrote about this the other day. While Microsoft pretends to be wounded by illegal copies of software, it is apathetic at best and bullish at the least on this phenomenon. Here are a couple of examples from the news:

1. Nigeria: Microsoft’s fight to stop piracy – failed

According to THISDAY the effects of the anti-piracy battle launched by Microsoft and the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has made more room for people in the illegal trade.

The raid which led to the arrest of vendors, that was caught making use the Microsoft operating system illegally. Microsoft promised and the beginning of this battle, to organize a development programe as an attempt to keep merchants especially youth away from piracy activities.

2. Software Piracy Thrives amid Microsoft’s Capacity Devt Initiative

Microsoft’s attempt at discouraging Intellectual Property (IP) theft especially at the popular Computer Village in Ikeja may not have yielded any positive results, going by recent development in the area.

According to THISDAY investigation, the aftermath of the anti-piracy crusade launched by the software giant in collaboration with the Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) earlier in February has only accommodated more people in the illegal trade.

The clampdown, which had led to the arrest of some vendors, caught using the Microsoft operating system illegally was expected to serve as a deterrent to others.

Had Microsoft wanted to stop this, it easily would. But remember what they say:

“It’s easier for our software to compete with Linux when there’s piracy than when there’s not.”

Bill Gates, 2007

Not to be Extremely Critical, But…

Microsoft sent out quite a heap of “critical” patches some days ago. Among them:

Palo Alto Networks today announced that its Threat Research Team discovered two of the 11 vulnerabilities discovered in Microsoft’s Patch Tuesday security bulletin this week.

Not a day goes and bam! “Highly critical” flaw again.

Secunia Advisory: SA31498
Release Date: 2008-08-14
Critical: Highly critical

This is small potatoes compared to the recent and very major discovery. The Windows zombies nightmare carries on.

In a joint operation, the FBI and the Dutch High Tech Crime Unit have cracked the Shadow botnet–thought to contain 100,000 PCs.

With 100,000 PCs down, they’ll have ‘just’ another ~319,900,000 to go. A good start? Hardly. It’s the wrong strategy.

Deaths

A few weeks ago, Joe Wilcox called Windows Vista “dead on arrival” in the enterprise. He’s now publishing some of his findings in eWeek.

eWEEK research shows that negative perception of the Windows Vista operating system is growing.

If Windows Vista were a person, it would have an inferiority complex. Not since Windows ME has a Microsoft operating system seen such cool business reception. Indeed, research shows that many enterprises hope to leapfrog Vista altogether.

There is some sad news today about a construction worker who died while while working on Microsoft’s facilities in Fargo.

FARGO – A 37-year-old Fargo man died early today when he fell down an unfinished elevator shaft on a building under construction at the Microsoft campus in southwest Fargo, police said.

Condolences to the family.

Shame on ISO and Shame on Microsoft for Corrupting ISO

Posted in Asia, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 6:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ISO in moneyISO aftermath #5

Earlier today we mentioned ISO and its latest outrageous decision. It was no surprise. Reactions have arrived from Brazil, from Massachusetts and from Groklaw.

ISO essentially got corrupted from the inside, based on what we could gather. It should now be seen as credible as IDC and Gartner, i.e. it’s a trash can of numbers, [presented by chaps who are always smiling behind a till]. It’s susceptible to abuse and sensitive to corruption. It is therefore not to be taken seriously. For those who are unaware of the corruption, start here.

About a dozen times before, we have already discussed the departure of the Managing Director of Microsoft India. According to the following gem, it was an expulsion.

The expulsion of Neelam Dhawan over Open XML had consequences for the operations of Microsoft India:

The high-profile exit of Neelam Dhawan created a vacuum in the company for almost two months, who quit Microsoft India to join HP India in June this year.

Rajan Anandan is now the person who joins the company who fired an executive who didn’t perform in international standardisation and fill the vaccuum.

Remember just what happened in India [1, 2].

Meanwhile, down in South Africa, ODF gets another good boost from an independent software developer.

Customers are now able to save all “ODF” documents including those created in “Calc, Writer or Impress”. These documents are saved with all attributes, including security and retention, as if they were working within a Microsoft environment.

Says Malcolm van den Berg, IA Systems Product Director: “This is only the first step in meeting our clients’ needs; some future development will be looking at the browser support for Open Text eDOCS as well as the support for Linux.

It is good to have received some good news (ODF) rather than stories of dirty games and manipulation (OOXML).

LawMedia Group May be Another Confirmed Microsoft AstroTurfing Agency

Posted in Deception, FUD, Google, Law, Marketing, Microsoft at 5:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Law-bbying against rivals

For those who missed this previous detailed post, we wish to gradually identity and expose agencies that Microsoft hires to pollute the Web (sometimes even attack its critics or competition). There is nothing ethical about it and it’s illegal in Europe, so some of them should be shut down immediately . Here is another new example from the news.

Only if they’re planting in AstroTurf

[...]

How do you know the organization, and the op-ed, weren’t created by LawMedia Group at the behest of some well-funded clients? If they did their jobs right, you don’t know.

Some of them have left digital fingerprints here and there, though, says Declan McCullagh, in a blockbuster of a report exposing the intellectual whoredom offered for various important issues. Shortly after Microsoft hired LawMedia, for example, legislators, national agencies, and news outlets received pointed complaints from coalitions of farmers, rural voters, and geeky Latinos about how Google’s advertising deal with Yahoo would wreck everything.

[...]

Don’t call them a PR firm or a lobbying firm though, Law Media – which has a ton of lawyers working for them too—is a “public affairs firm” specializing in producing “remarkable coalitions” for anything one might need a coalition for.

More information is available here.

LMG’s clients include Comcast, which opposes net neutrality, and Microsoft, which hired LMG in an attempt to block a Google-Yahoo advertising deal. Another strange aspect of King’s anti-net neutrality column is that “portions are identical to a Rainbow Push coalition statement attributed to the Rev. Jesse Jackson and dated three months before.” A source told CNET News that “LMG has a relationship with Jackson that includes ghost-written articles on behalf of corporate clients.”

Astroturf coalitions

In May 2008, Microsoft retained LMG on what was reportedly a “six-figure monthly retainer,” to oppose a Google-Yahoo advertising deal. “Immediately afterward, anti-Google coalitions of dubious provenance–an LMG specialty–sprouted. The American Corn Growers Association, the League of Rural Voters, and a group called the Latinos in Information Sciences and Technology Association (LISTA) sent a letter to the Justice Department asking it to investigate Google’s ‘search monopoly.’ Prior to that time, those groups had no history of aggressive anti-Google advocacy,” reported CNET News.

Microsoft also used such tricks against the DoubleClick acquisition and against YouTube when it encouraged publishers to sue. Never ever forget about lawsuits by proxy [1, 2, 3] and bribery or blackmail for pressure [1, 2].

Also see this list of Microsoft Astroturfers. They are not as secretive as people are led to believe. They live amongst us and serve the agenda of an abusive company.

Update: some more details about LawMedia Group here.

“LMG is one of several firms we work with in D.C.,” Microsoft spokesman Jack Evans said. “It’s no secret that we oppose the Google-Yahoo deal and that there’s been a great deal of opposition to it by advertisers, publishers, consumers, and legal experts.” Evans points out that Google has hired a constellation of D.C. lobbyists and public relations groups to tell its side of the story.

Microsoft hired LMG in early May for what a source with knowledge of the situation described as a six-figure monthly retainer.

No Mono in Fedora 10 (“Cambridge”) Live CD

Posted in GNOME, Mono, Novell, Red Hat at 4:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mono was spotted in Fedora 8, but we noticed it was absent from the Fedora 9 Live CD. It happened around the time that Fedora said no to Moonlight, which itself depends on Mono. We can now confirm that the same goes for the current build of Fedora 10. A reader of ours, ‘neighborlee’, has sent us the following screenshots as proof.

Here you can see that Tomboy is not installed. Its icon is nowhere in sight.

GNOME Fedora Desktop

Another example of abstinence:

GNOME Fedora Menu

Validation of the claim that Mono is excluded:

GNOME Fedora Install

Good news overall.

Fedora seems to have mitigated its dependency on Novell's (and Microsoft's) potential trap.

ISO Tells ISO: “You Did a Great Job!”

Posted in Deception, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML at 11:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

I sold out

Despite heaps of evidence of manipulation, bribery, extortion, vote-stuffting and so forth, ISO decided to shoot itself in the foot and endorse such unaccpetable behaviour by denying valid complaints. Noooxml.org has the first report.

It is evident to me that the appeal voting is highly vulnerable to manipulation when you have to get a 2/3 majority. The voting was not even on the substance of the appeals but on “further processing” them and I am not aware of any “further processing” formality decision requirement. A 2/3 majority rule always means that one option is favoured in advance. In ISO and national bodies it is common for processing of specifications where the bias is usually towards adoption. Do you need a 2/3 majority for “processing further” the appeal or “rejecting it before consideration”? You get the point. At times you vote until you get the wanted results. A friend of mine was furious about the ISO/IEC decision and asked himself similar questions:

Where is it written that it is needed a support of 2/3 to process an appeal? This could be considered a humiliation for the countries that have summitted the appeals.

Looks like the ISO/IEC procedural rules and their interpretation offer great surprises again. Or as a more devilish commentator suggested

It is an elegant abuse of newly invented rules to justify the abuse of previous rules. You have to admire the way it even sounds democratic…

[...]

This is not the end

The NB concerned may appeal this decision to the Councils.

I am curious if that would happen. The effects are described by the ISO press release

According to the ISO/IEC rules, DIS 29500 can now proceed to publication as an ISO/IEC International Standard. This is expected to take place within the next few weeks on completion of final processing of the document, and subject to no further appeals against the decision.

Effectively it would make a lot of sense for National Bodies to do it.

So, its not over yet, but ISO is left standing on a toe, being an implicit accomplice in Microsoft’s systematic criminal behaviour (no less) to make OOXML a standard.

“37 letters with exactly the same words. Some of the senders didn’t even care to remove the ‘Type company name here’ text.


Simular letters has been circulating in Denmark as an e-mail from the Danish MD Jørgen Bardenfleth to customers and business partners.


I call it fraud, cheating and disgusting. If I wasn’t anti-Microsoft before, I am now. Disgusting !”

Leif Lodahl

Assorted Updates: Patents, OSI, Mono, KDE and Novell

Posted in Asia, Free/Libre Software, KDE, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, OSI, Patents, SLES/SLED at 8:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OOXML protests in India
From the Campaign for Document Freedom

Gentle Protest Against Software Patents in India

The situation in India has been covered quite a few times recently because it’s getting grim [1, 2, 3, 4]. Fortunately, now comes the organised opposition.

Bengaluru Meetup

When: 10am, Saturday 16th August 2008

Where: BMS College of Engineering, Basavanagudi

Agenda: Indian Patents office has called for a meeting of stakeholders in Bengaluru on 27th August (date still to be confirmed). We should submit a written appeal to stop introducing software patents in India. We will prepare this document here.

Software patents are, as stressed here before, merely a mechanism to have multi-nationals (and their local business partners) inherits the country’s assets. These patents are being marketed differently, however, in order for them to pass as a new amendment to the law.

Groklaw: “Enemies of FOSS Are Attacking”

Pamela Jones pointed this out yesterday. We are well past the “then they laugh at you” phase, so it’s only reasonable to prepare for more of the “then they attack you” outbursts. The OSI is explicitly mentioned by Pamela and Bruce Perens warns that Microsoft can have it ruined. The context is slightly different though.

It means that while OSI’s handling of a list of approved licenses worked very well for a community made up of FOSS programmers, who are decent folks all on the same page overall, now that enemies of FOSS are attacking, we need a new organization to vet licenses going forward a lot more carefully, one made up of experienced FOSS lawyers, none of them with a history of hostility to, or ignorance of, the GPL, with the community as advisors.

KDE

We are still watching KDE and Mono closely, hoping not to find irreversible intersection between these two. Some people have already noticed the growing trend inside GNOME.

As I briefly mentioned in another post, I am seriously concerned with GNOME’s infatuation with Microsoft technologies.

As a newcomer to the Linux scene, I was not aware that GNOME was tied up with Novell and all in a 3-way with Redmond. However, the more I find out about, the more discomforted I become…

And then there’s this comment.

Keep KDE Kleen

KDE needs to poll their own users before allowing proprietary sewage like C# and Mono to infect our relatively clean desktop.

I think most will be strongly opposed.

I will certainly be looking for a new desktop, for the first time since becoming involved with Free Software.

Just as a quick recap, consider Novell’s role.

SUSE is a good tool for Microsoft. It enables Microsoft to clog up some gaps where Windows would never fit. SUSE enables the monopolist to replace GNU/Linuxes with something that it ‘owns’ (in the mythical/’intellectual’ sense) and it’s therefore paid for (‘compensated’). Using hypervisor/format/’protection’ caveats, Microsoft hopes to elevate its own asset (SUSE) at the expense of Ubuntus and Red Hats that roam freely, without per-copy restriction and Microsoft’s wrath.

Novell needs to be stopped. SLED/S/RT needs to be stopped. At the moment, if a company insists on using GNU/Linux, Microsoft can give them GNU/Linux, but not the GNU/Linux they want and need. Mono could part of the plan to transform ownership, passing more of it to Microsoft.

Sabotaging Big and Wonderful Announcements

Posted in FUD, Microsoft, Standard at 8:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Several readers have independently pointed out that Slashdot took the good news about the release of OpenGL 3.0 and put a spin on it so as to attack OpenGL and promote Microsoft DirectX. Regular readers probably know that trust in Slashdot is gradually being lost as the site gets gamed and trustworthy long-time posters reportedly get cornered and attacked by groups of disruptors. There’s a new type of ‘mob’, a corporate subculture perhaps. So, the old Slashdot is replaced with glorification of an ‘open source’ Microsoft. They ‘sell’ Microsoft to geeks.

There have been numerous coverages of OpenGL 3.0′s release (not too many to keep track of). They were all moderate, positive, and they delivered the news. They did not attempt to stir things up or to present a controversy, even a confrontation.

Fortunately, not only have professionals noticed what Slashdot had done, but there are detailed rebuttals to it too.

So, it was with some interest to read on TheRegister and Slashdot that the release of OpenGL 3.0 was met with heavy resistance by existing developers. Strangely, Wikipedia user Paeator Alpha’s post seemed to be the most balanced immediate report on OpenGL 3.0, and lets face it, Wikipedia isn’t known for being accurate.

It was even stranger to read then from one of the developers actually attending SIGGRAPH that the backlash reported by Slashdot and TheReg, just wasn’t happening.

The OpenGL BoF went really well, I think. Nobody showed up with torches or pitchforks. Of course, the free beer may have helped. The most useful part of it for me was the mingling period after all the presentations. I talked with quite a few people and, contrary to the /. reports, nobody was furious. Whew!

[...]

So, Khronos has run into the exact same problem KDE ran into. A lot of people are simply armchair analysts with no actual graphics experience. That’s why the actual developers at SIGGRAPH responded so differently than the reports from TheReg and SlashDot would have people believe.

Why would Slashdot support the skewing of public perception against open standards and open source? Remember that Slashdot is now indirectly being paid by Microsoft. With money on the table, trust is simply lost.

If Slashdot chooses to depress readers and draw them in on an emotional basis, then it’s simply begging to undo itself.

Here is the press release and here are balanced and objective coverages of the latest OpenGL 3.0 news:

The few sources which highlight friction directly link to Slashdot for ‘support’ of the claim that developers were “furious”. The picking on Slashdot is a response to a pattern, not an isolated incident.

Some time ago it emerged (and was also noticed) the people who never write for The Register suddenly appear out of nowhere and ‘plant’ an article that’s favourable to Microsoft (this was pointed out in the IRC channel the other day). Remember how Maureen O’Gara and Microsoft agents were scheming to sabotage a big OSDL announcement [1, 2]. There are ‘smoking guns’ (court-verifiable E-mails) to show very clearly.

To Microsoft, OpenGL is a big threat. Rivals like Sony (with PlayStation) and even Macs and GNU/Linux rely on it for adoption. How far would people go?

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