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08.17.08

Links 17/08/2008: GNU/Linux in South Korea, Linux Powers the Olympics (Quietly)

Posted in Site News at 6:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

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Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Lindependence 2008 organizers Ken Starks and Stephen Rufle chat about the project 01 (2008)

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: ‘Pulling a Mammootty’, Exposing Windows PCs, Daemonising Opposition

Posted in Asia, Fraud, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, OpenDocument, Security, Windows at 12:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

There’s this bunch of new stories that could not escape without comment. Months after the Mammootty incident comes this.

Global multi-national technology company Microsoft Corp found an able brand fit in Yash Raj Films’ latest flick Bachna Ae Haseeno starring Ranbir Kapoor, Bipasha Basu, Minissha Lamba and Deepika Padukone.

The gist of it all is that Microsoft glorifies itself and its wounded brand using movies. In the case of Mammootty, if true, it was geographically targeted to stifle the world’s largest migration to GNU/Linux. How typical.

Security

Watch this from a CIO:

Relating to Microsoft, Homa said, “We used a lot of Linux. None of the breach was anything related to Linux. All of it was Microsoft. Homa went on to say, “Microsoft is so full of holes. That’s why it’s still a target. If you limit your exposure to Microsoft, you’re going to be in a more secure environment.”

Here is another new hole, which is already being exploited.

Microsoft is investigating new public reports of a zero-day Windows vulnerability that’s being exploited in the wild.

The cost of back doors?

Daemonised by a Monopoly Abuser

Unable to see its reflection and its own behaviour, Microsoft continues to mock the users that it needs. It still uses inapproriate words like “pirates” to describe prospective customers, whose counterfeiting it tends to welcome (provided they don’t go elsewhere).

Microsoft has been increasing its efforts to battle software piracy using lawsuits and educational programs to bring more illegal users into the light. But as Microsoft moves toward delivering more applications as services, its anti-piracy tactics will also have to change, according to solution providers.

[...]

“It is too early to speak to the possibility of [Software Plus Services] being abused, or speculate on whether or not it will have a positive impact on software piracy,” said Cori Hartje, senior director of Microsoft’s Genuine Software Initiative, in an e-mail interview with ChannelWeb.

Propaganda terms like “Piracy” do not belong here. Microsoft has already raved about so-called ‘piracy’ as part of its business model.

The following effective daemonisation is surely accidental. It has finally been resolved. Here are the details.

Microsoft Word Now Knows the Difference Between Osama and Obama

In my post yesterday, I quoted a frustrated reader who couldn’t believe that Microsoft Word still proposes “Osama” as a corrected version of “Obama.” He wanted to know why Microsoft didn’t update its dictionary.

Given the special relationship between Microsoft’s CEO and McCain [1, 2], a few people might take a wild guess and call it intentional or xenophobia (some people actually believed this). The Republican party has, in general, been good to Microsoft and he administration let them carry on unpunished and virtually borderless, in terms of the law. The government was indifferent towards an urgent need to regulate.

Obama’s support of Free software and ODF also comes to mind. Earlier today, Rex Ballard wrote: “Obama is using Linux servers on his web site, and appears to be a
friend of Open Source.”

“…Actually, Bush loved Microsoft. During the Jack Abramov investigation, Microsoft was directly tied to Abramov, Carl Rove, and several of their shell game “charities”. The Gates foundation was also found to be a major contributor to several “PAC disguised as charities”.

“Remember when the head of “Focus on the Family” came out and announced, repeatedly, on national radio and television, that he would never vote for McCain and his followers shouldn’t either? Another case of a Charity acting as a political action committee.

“McCain won the nomination anyway, and now they are “best buddies” again.”

“Windows 2000 already contains features such as the human discipline component, where the PC can send an electric shock through the keyboard if the human does something that does not please Windows.”

Bill Gates

ISO Won’t Throw OOXML Out. Time to Throw ISO Out?

Posted in Formats, Fraud, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, Standard at 11:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ooxml_demo_4.jpg

We previously mentioned several calls for ISO to be replaced or its role be surrogated. As we finally know for a fact that ISO is insensitive to abuse [1, 2] and that it tells huge developing countries which complain to just sod off, it’s becoming an urgent matter. Jomar Silva seems not only disappointed but also somewhat furious. And rightly so! Here again is what he wrote in response to ISO’s snobbery.

ISO IS NOT ANYMORE THE APPROPRIATE AND LEGITIM FORUM TO DEAL WITH THE STANDARDISATION NEEDS AND ASPIRATIONS OF DEVELOPING COUNTRIES.

[...]

As a Brazilian and as a person who lost a year of life working seriously on it, I can only feel offended and attacked with this decision.

I believe that the time has come for developing countries unite to build an International Standardization Institution that is appropriate to our reality, that understands our problems and aspirations and that treat us with the minimum amount of respect and dignity. Enough to be being used to legitimize the desires of someone else. While we’re in developement, we have the unique opportunity to develop (and change) the world and, we cannot let it go away.

MicrISOftThere are no listening ears at ISO. The European Commission has not yet completed its investigation, either. Many of those involved in the opposition to the corruption can offer nothing but blog posts, but it seems suitable to make every effort available to depose and expose the pairing of Microsoft and ISO.

ISO allowed itself to be abused. The reaction from Mark Ballard shows just how ISO chose money or power over the people that it’s intended to serve.

There are now two incompatible, international document standards on which the world can conduct its discourse, manage its business, and record its archives: Odf, which was produced by the people, for the people; and OOXML, which was produced by Microsoft, the convicted monopolist.

Andre took a shot at Mr. Bryden, who clearly cares more about his job and reputation than about integrity and ethics [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7. He chose denial as an escape route out of this huge scandal:

ISO’s Mr. Bryden said:

Some of the negative publicity is quite extreme and as ISO’s Secretary General it’s not exactly pleasant for me to see ISO vilified, particularly when much of the extreme criticism is based on false assumptions and a lack of understanding of what ISO is and how it works.

To my great surprise even NB were often not aware of how ISO works according to its procedures.

Procedural unclarity and the lack of raison d’etat in the ranks of ISO leadership contribute to the mess. It is not only that procedures are unclear. To a certain degree they always would be. Perfect rules are utopia.

What matters to me is how rules bias the members to go in a certain direction.

In a nutshell, ISO is dysfunctional. Rather than admit and acknowledge the known flaws, Mr. Bryden slams the opposition. If a person does not obey the rules — no matter how innocently — it does not make that person’s conduct acceptable and the procedure valid.

Given what was witnessed, a substitute is desperately needed if not a complete replacement. To quote the former convenor of OOXML, “ISO is becoming a laughing stock in the IT circles.” Who can ever rely on ISO for standards-setting anymore? To prevent the death or dishonouring of standards, ISO must go now.

More coverage of this came from IDG and from The Register.

The International Organization for Standardization and International Electrotechnical Commission have given the green light to publish the Microsoft-backed Office Open XML specification after organization leaders rejected appeals from four countries to protest the vote that approved OOXML as a standard.

The ISO’s decision comes as no surprise. A month ago, a leaked document, recommending that the appeals from national standard bodies from South Africa, Brazil, India and Venezuela “should not be processed further”, tipped up on Groklaw (PDF)

There’s a comment titled: “OOXML – a standard looking for an application.” Not even Microsoft will ever implement it. According to the following article, Microsoft lags behind also where its legacy formats are concerned, which gives a hint about Microsoft’s attitude towards preservation. It cannot be relied on.

The core WordPerfect Office applications support an impressive range of file formats, including Open Document Format (ODF), the very oldest WordPerfect versions, and a few ancient Microsoft Office formats (Word for DOS, anyone?) that even Microsoft doesn’t support anymore.

To Microsoft, preservation is a matter of business decisions. It’s about money on the face it. No profit, no retention [1, 2, 3]. Everyone suffers as a result.

OOXML data vacuum

Quick Mention: New Antitrust Actions Against Microsoft?

Posted in Antitrust, Asia, Microsoft, Vista, Windows at 11:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hard times. Microsoft gets no break. Not in China:

Evermore Chief Executive Gus Tsao said he’s prepared to pursue Microsoft under a new anti-monopoly law that took effect in China on Friday. The law is widely expected to be used to curtail the dominance of foreign companies doing business there, such as Microsoft.

Not in Taiwan, either.

The Consumers’ Foundation (CF), a private consumer watchdog, filed a complaint yesterday with the Fair Trade Commission (FTC) against Microsoft over the software giant’s pulling Windows XP from the Taiwan market in line with its migration to the new operating system Vista.

The CF urged the government body to impose sanctions on Microsoft for the termination of Windows XP sales in Taiwan.

“We suggest that the FTC slap Microsoft with a heavy fine for impairing market fairness,” said CF Acting Chairman Hsieh Tien-jen while delivering the complaint to the commission.

[...]

“Sixty-seven percent of local users want a return of XP to the market,” he said, citing the results of another poll.

He described Microsoft’s marketing strategy as an abuse of consumer rights.

Taiwan should not rely too much on the FTC. It’s too corrupt.

Protest in India Against Software Patents

Posted in Asia, Microsoft, OpenOffice, Patents at 10:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

We saw this coming a few days ago. Later there was a protest being organised in Bangalore to resist the work of Microsoft and its cronies, who wish to sneak in software patents by the back door [1, 2, 3, 4].

Here is the main page of relevance. The protest planning meeting took place yesterday morning. The protest will take place next week and photos will probably arrive later. Here is the Facebook page for the event. [Ed: we made some corrections here]

In other software patent news, there’s some strong opposition coming from FII, which has just unleashed this long article that compared patents to subprime mortgages.

Many patents work in the same way that subprime mortgages and all its derivatives. They create false assets and so false economies that finally develop in important economical crisis. But in the case of patents it is worse indeed, because every patent is potentially a monopoly and a block to the free market.

An article from the Indian press proves that innovation requires no patents (intellectual monopolies). The author uses Linux as an example of this.

Another example of innovation is the Linux operating system, which runs on almost everything, from the Mars Rover, to giant supercomputers to the tiniest embedded computers. This innovation has been powered by the open source model, based on collaboration, community and the shared ownership of knowledge. Thousands of volunteers and private enterprises like Red Hat, IBM and others have contributed source code to Linux under the general public license (GPL) that gives users the freedom to modify the source code and share the resulting improvements with others.

It is estimated that the Linux kernel now has around 10 million lines of source code (the instructions that make a software program work). The commercial value of the source code in an average Linux distribution is estimated at around $8 billion. This represents an enormous wealth of knowledge that is freely available to everyone. The success of open source is clear proof that patents are not necessary for innovation in the software industry and that profit motives are not the only spur for innovation.

Also on the subject of patents and Linux, mind this thread in Groklaw. One person claims that he has found a dependency in OpenOffice upon Mono. This may be accidental, but nonetheless, it is worth keeping track of. We wrote about this recently.

Last but not least, Microsoft was caught violating copyright law quite a few times recently. Examples include:

Now, now… Watch Microsoft enforcing its rights, which may or may not seem a little hypocritical considering the incidents above. From the news:

A federal court in Connecticut has ordered a certification test help-site to stop publishing Microsoft-related materials after the software maker sued the company, claiming that it was selling actual certification exam questions.

[...]

The company did not return messages seeking comment for this story. Microsoft declined to comment on this story.

Hypocrisy is one the richest characteristics of Microsoft. We will return to this subject one day because it has a lot to do with patents.

Microsoft sang a very different tune in 1991. In a memo to his senior executives, Bill Gates wrote, “If people had understood how patents would be granted when most of today’s ideas were invented, and had taken out patents, the industry would be at a complete standstill today.” Mr. Gates worried that “some large company will patent some obvious thing” and use the patent to “take as much of our profits as they want.”

More here.

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: August 16th, 2008

Posted in IRC Logs at 9:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Enter the IRC channel now

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