- Commodore UMMD 8010/F netbook announced
Available in four colours; white, black, grey and sweet pink prices for the laptop start, considering its offering, at a staggering £325.
The UMMD 8010/F will be available later in the month a spokesperson told Pocket-lint.
- MiTAC launches MiSTATION netbook: Windows or Linux support
Owners of Mio and Navman, MiTAC are just the latest company to launch their own netbook computer. The MiSTATION netbook comes with an 8.9-inch screen and is powered by a 1.6 GHz Intel Atom processor.
The netbook has a choice of either a 20GB SSD or a 60GB Hard Drive. You will have the choice of either Windows XP or Linux, depending on which you prefer.
- A Quick Guide to Netbooks
Price is probably the most compelling, followed by the feature set. In my own experience, I’m finding that the Linux implementations are a third factor. While many netbook makers are offering custom Linux builds for simplicity, they have to balance that with the ability for the everyday consumer to add, extend and customize their own experience.
- MSI intros cut-price Linux mini-laptop
The low-cost Wind matches the spec of its pricier stablemates but comes in at £269 ($485/€332) instead of £329 ($593/€406) by coming pre-loaded with Linux and sporting an 8.9in, 1024 x 600 display instead of a 10in screen.
- The UMPC is dead; long live the netbook!
In fact, about the only true MIDs to reach market appear to be Nokia’s N Series Internet Tablets. These devices, which debuted, some two years before Intel’s “invention” of the MID, have only met with limited success.
What’s more, few device vendors have followed Nokia over the MID cliff.
Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day
Chris Moody, GNU-Linux network volunteer for a San Diego public school. 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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Starting a new chapter, without 7,000+ pages of OOXML
The previous post about software patents showed a company playing hardball and breaking the law — all in the name of junk patents. Microsoft too has played such games. The following article about OOXML (and its obligatory corruption brings back memories of blackmail for software patents in Denmark.
Last time we had a OOXML ballot, EFFI compared the votes against CPI. Back then we saw a big similarity. But this time the general CPI index seams to be more or less useless. Friday, Danish Standards Association (DS, representing Denmark in ISO) changed the Danish vote to yes even through the committee “voted” 8-4 against. If you look on the current CPI numbers you will see that Denmark is on a shared 1st place, with a rating of 9.4 on a scale from 1 (very corrupt) – 10 (less corrupt). According to informations presented by Leif Lodahl, the order not to vote, and let DS decide should come from the government. Has one of the least corrupt countries been bought by Microsoft? Apparently, yes. Is this the first time? Do you remember the blackmailing a few years ago?
OOXML may be the ideal back-door mechanism, which enables control to be passed to vendors and other authorities. Another deep look at OOXML seems to concur.
That is right, as Office 2007 files that contain macros use just another file extention: .docm (Word Microsoft Office Open XML Format Document with Macros Enabled), xlsm, pptm, etc.
Right or wrung theory?
What if the wringer is just a psychological tool to get users to adopt Open XML as a format? A kind of witch doctor trojan to infect your computer with the Open XML format conversion because you are afraid of viruses? Oh, they would never do that. I trust them. And trust is all about security. They know what’s best for me and work hard to make my computer more secure and benefit my user experience with Open XML.
Today’s biggest OOXML news comes from Brazil, where people from various development countries consider abolishing ISO after its affairs with Microsoft. They don’t want OOXML, no matter what ISO might put its stamp on. Here is the full text
CONSEGI 2008 DECLARATION
We, the undersigned representatives of state IT organisations from Brazil, South Africa, Venezuela, Ecuador, Cuba and Paraguay, note with disappointment the press release from ISO/IEC/JTC-1 of 20 August regarding the appeals registered by the national bodies of Brazil, South Africa, India and Venezuela. Our national bodies, together with India, had independently raised a number of serious concerns about the process surrounding the fast track approval of DIS29500. That those concerns were not properly addressed in the form of a conciliation panel reflects poorly on the integrity of these international standards development institutions.
Whereas we do not intend to waste any more resources on lobbying our national bodies to pursue the appeals further, we feel it is important to make the following points clear:
1.The bending of the rules to facilitate the fast track processing of DIS29500 remains a significant concern to us. That the ISO TMB did not deem it necessary to properly explore the substance of the appeals must, of necessity, put confidence in those institutions ability to meet our national requirements into question.
2.The overlap of subject matter with the existing ISO/IEC26300 (Open Document Format) standard remains an area of concern. Many of our countries have made substantial commitments to the use of ISO/IEC26300, not least because it was published as an ISO standard in 2006.
3.The large scale adoption of a standard for office document formats is a long and expensive exercise, with multi-year projects being undertaken in each of our countries. Many of us have dedicated significant time and resources to this effort. For example, in Brazil, the process of translation of ISO/IEC26300 into Portuguese has taken over a year.
The issues which emerged over the past year have placed all of us at a difficult crossroads. Given the organisation’s inability to follow its own rules we are no longer confident that ISO/IEC will be capable of transforming itself into the open and vendor-neutral standards setting organisation which is such an urgent requirement. What is now clear is that we will have to, albeit reluctantly, re-evaluate our assessment of ISO/IEC, particularly in its relevance to our various national government interoperability frameworks. Whereas in the past it has been assumed that an ISO/IEC standard should automatically be considered for use within government, clearly this position no longer stands.
-Aslam Raffee (South Africa)
Chairman, Government IT Officer’s Council Working Group on Open Standards Open Source Software
- Marcos Vinicius Ferreira Mazoni (Brazil)
Presidente, Servico Federal de Processamento de Dados
- Carlos Eloy Figueira (Venezuela)
President, Centro Nacional de Tecnologías de Información
- Eduardo Alvear Simba (Ecuador)
Director de Software Libre, Presidencia de la República
- Tomas Ariel Duarte C. (Paraguay)
Director de Informática, Presidencia de la República
- Miriam Valdés Abreu (Cuba)
Directora de Análisis, Oficina para la Informatización.
This serious development has already been covered by some blogs, such as Open Malaysia.
Over the past month, the team at OpenMalaysiaBlog was really happy to showcase the good work Malaysians have done in government agencies and state governments in adopting OpenOffice.org in their offices. Some were driven from MAMPU’s direction, but most were self initiatives, some even starting way back in 2003.
I personally, have been deliberately avoiding OOXML news because basically, I was sick and tired of it; where the latest ridiculous situation is where the same people who voted for the standard, get to vote against the appeal of the decision. Surely it shouldn’t be an immediate voting procedure (ala BRM), but more of a consensus gathering effort? What happened to the process of working out the sustained objections as espoused by ISO procedures? As far as I know, since the Contradiction documents prepared by all the NBs back in Feb07, there has been no effort by ISO to work that out. Looking at the ISO process, its clear its broken and when there are forces determined to push it through, it will push it through.
Overall, this was somewhat predictable [1, 2]. It’s encouraging to see this actualising. ISO should be ashamed of it self, having ignored complaints from its very own senior staff. █
“This year WG1 have had another major development that has made it almost impossible to continue with our work within ISO. The influx of P members whose only interest is the fast-tracking of ECMA 376 as ISO 29500 has led to the failure of a number of key ballots. Though P members are required to vote, 50% of our current members, and some 66% of our new members, blatantly ignore this rule despite weekly email reminders and reminders on our website. As ISO require at least 50% of P members to vote before they start to count the votes we have had to reballot standards that should have been passed and completed their publication stages at Kyoto. This delay will mean that these standards will appear on the list of WG1 standards that have not been produced within the time limits set by ISO, despite our best efforts.
The disparity of rules for PAS, Fast-Track and ISO committee generated standards is fast making ISO a laughing stock in IT circles. The days of open standards development are fast disappearing. Instead we are getting “standardization by corporation”, something I have been fighting against for the 20 years I have served on ISO committees. I am glad to be retiring before the situation becomes impossible. I wish my colleagues every success for their future efforts, which I sincerely hope will not prove to be as wasted as I fear they could be.”
–Martin Bryan, Former Convenor of ISO/IEC JTC1/SC34 [OOXML] WG1
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Patents Draft Amendment in China
While software patents are not mentioned (not explicitly anyway) in the following draft amendment, alternations to policies are outlined. [via Andy Updegrove]
Less than three months after the State Council put its stamp on the patent law reform blueprint, the government yesterday submitted the draft amendment to the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress (NPC), the top legislature, for first reading.
Another important change is the proposed removal of the statutory requirement for all Chinese individuals and entities to first file applications in China for inventions made in the country. The revision would allow Chinese individuals and entities to file their patents for the first time in other countries, not necessarily China.
Intellectual Pirates Attack with Arms, Break the Law
Intellectual monopolies fancy labelling their customers “pirates”, but they are often blind to their own behaviour which includes theft (confiscation).
German Customs officials have raided several stands at this years IFA trade show in Berlin, including Emtec’s, MSI’s, and Xoro’s. The officials are acting on behalf of Sisvel, which has a stand in Hall 2.2 at this year’s IFA.
We wrote about this a few days ago and it turns out to be a violation of the law. [via Digital Majority]
Berlin Court condemns Sisvel’s IFA seizures as ‘illegal’
Today Sisvel, Europe’s very own “patent troll”, was given a serious blow by a Berlin Court. Sisvel convinced German public prosecutors to provide some helping hands in pressing companies in the mp3 audio field to take licenses under patents, owned by Philips and other companies.
So, while they pretend to be enforcing the law by taking it into their own hands, what they actually do is break the law, unlike their innocent victims, whom they rob over software patents.
TiVoization, Software Patents, or Both?
TiVo’s affinity for patents is a problem which was brought up in the past. This unnecessary and confrontational habit carries on, which leads to more questions about the company’s commitment to the GPL’s philosophy (TiVo uses the Linux kernel).
Shares in TiVo dropped 23 cents, or 2.9 percent, to $7.73 in extended trading. Before the earnings report the stock had risen 5.7 percent to close at $7.96.
During a conference call, interim Chief Financial Officer Cal Hoagland said TiVo will face increased expenses in the current quarter, including holiday-related marketing and costs related to an ongoing patent battle with Dish Network Corp. A Sept. 4 court date has been set as TiVo seeks to collect on the $94 million it has been awarded in damages.
Akamai is another company that uses GNU/Linux and is not shy about patents.
A quick little search in Google reveals quite a few Microsoft patents that may contain the term “.NET”. Fortunately, for a few consecutive weeks now, KDE has not committed changes that contribute to Mono. It’s important to remember where Microsoft comes from.
The hypocrisy of Microsoft’s position in this issue is blatant – in 1983, Gates complained about theft of intellectual property:
“Imagine the disincentive to software development if after months of work another company could come along and copy your work and market it under its own name…without legal restraints to such copying, companies like Apple could not afford to advance the state of the art.” (Gates)
Meanwhile, Microsoft continued to build upon the PC-DOS / MS-DOS product with intellectual property stolen from others. An example of this can be found in Microsoft’s theft of intellectual property belonging to Stac Corporation:
“During that conversation, Mr. Chase admitted that, during Microsoft’s “normal due diligence process,” Microsoft had concluded that the DoubleSpace data compression utility of the MS-DOS 6.0 operating system software infringed Stac’s ’009 patent, one of the two patents in suit.” (Stac Electronics vs. Microsoft Corporation).
Microsoft was perfectly aware in advance that what they were doing violated a Stac patent, and yet they continued on their way. Ignoring the Stac patent afforded Microsoft the ability to add a useful feature to MS-DOS in a timely manner; the DoubleSpace technology in MS-DOS 6.0 was one of its major features (Huxford), especially for those with older or portable systems.
Despite its age, this article as a whole is recommended reading. It’s a story about a ‘pirate’ that grew and then started calling everybody else ‘pirates’. It’s the definition of hypocrisy at its finest. Microsoft also shouts out “monopoly” or "privacy offenses" at Google now. █
“Hey, Steve, just because you broke into Xerox’s store before I did and took the TV doesn’t mean I can’t go in later and steal the stereo.”
–Bill Gates, Microsoft
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Yahoo Finds Google After Escaping a Villain
For Yahoo and Google, things appear to be working out pretty well despite Microsoft's disruption via lobbying arms and hypocritical accusations.
Google says its web advertising deal with Yahoo is on schedule and will not be derailed by US anti-trust scrutiny.
It is a tad amusing that Microsoft empowered the very same competitors it sought to harm when it first approached Yahoo! It’s poetic justice. Just to reiterate, Microsoft may have used illegal proxies to weaken Yahoo and it also does, for a fact, use AstroTurfers, which it hires via the LawMedia Group (one proxy among others) to shoot down this Yahoo/Google collaboration.
Growing Pains on the Cloud and the Desktop
There are other reasons for Microsoft to fear Google. It’s not just search and advertising, which are key ingredients of profitable cloud computing. Google employs the necessary skill set and assets which enabled it — via an acquisition — to dominate Web video and secure a good position in software as a service (SaaS). It also collaborates with Salesforce now. Here is a new article about this challenge to Microsoft’s already-lost dominance.
Cloud computing about to rain on Microsoft parade
Work from home and get paid to log on to YouTube — that’s life in “the cloud”.
The cloud, or cloud computing, is the latest phrase on the lips of every IT geek, and they say it’s transforming our lives by quantum leaps and bounds.
Microsoft’s appointment of Jerry Seinfeld was mentioned in [1, 2, 3, 4]. John Dvorak does not believe that this is going work.
So the question becomes not whether the campaign will stink, but how bad.
I have come up with three possibilities. The kindest one would be “just stinks.” After that comes “stinks to high heaven,” followed by the frightful “What are they thinking!?”
So we’ll all await these new messages from Microsoft knowing that they will probably not stink to high heaven, but merely just stink.
Hammered by Non-Free Software
An interesting new case sheds some light on the legality of lock-in and its accompanying abuse of power. It could serve as precedence affecting Microsoft et al.
AN IT company is taking on Medicare, suing it for anti-competitive conduct and breaches of the Trade Practices Act.
Thelma Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of technology company ICS Global, has filed a statement of claim in the Federal Court, alleging Medicare has misused taxpayer funds by replicating its computer program and offering it free to those in the private health sector.
ICS Global is also suing Medicare for misusing its market power and for predatory pricing.
The War in Iraq
It’s not what you think. A tradition of back doors and poor engineering at Microsoft is causing Iraqi authorities to
lose control of their computer systems. This must be why armies across the world gradually migrate to GNU/Linux (e.g. Turkey, Germany, US DoD). It’s just common sense
It is his unit’s lone computer, highlighting the country’s vulnerability to a community of Iraqi hackers defacing websites and attempting to hack into sensitive internal networks.
Iraq’s government is engaged in a bloody struggle against al-Qaeda, and its computers make a prime target for global terror networks that have added hacking to their arsenal.
“We could have the most powerful anti-hacking force in the world, but we’d still have no computers, so we couldn’t do anything,” says Ali Hussein, one of 12 computer science graduates added to the cybercrime team last month. “The government thinks about guns, tanks and raiding houses. Hackers just aren’t a priority.”
Regarding this issue of poor security, the other day we wrote about editors who are messing with article headlines. A reader has just sent us this possible new example from the news (“Worm on NASA Space Station Underscores Spread of Online Gaming Threats”).
The reader explains: “Here’s another example of article titles getting fiddled, presumably by MSFTers. Online gaming gets the blame in the title, even though the body clearly points out that this is a Windows vulnerability.
“NASA has no business running Windows on any missions. It was on a notebook computer — for now — but even that’s unacceptable: Space missions are not the place to decide that bad engineering is acceptable. That’s fine for the corporate board rooms, where ideology trumps profit, but the Microsoft effect of apathy toward bad engineering needs to stay out of life-or-death environments. It’s already killing patients, let’s not start to kill healthy astronauts, too.”
Request for Information
This is a kind request of behalf of a reader/researcher.
If any of our readers can find an article from a few years ago (2-5) defining the Microsoft effect, that would be helpful. The author even named the type of cognitive dissonance going on. Basically it’s a form of sour grapes: the Windows people have sucks, so there for all other systems suck just as much.
The article may be from pseudonym “Paul Murphy”, but there’s no certainty that it is the same person or people that now use the pseudonym. █
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It seems to be running Microsoft Windows
A few years ago, FAA chose Microsoft Windows for its server systems.
The FAA is implementing the Stratus servers, which use Intel Xeon 2.8 MHz large cache MP processors and support the Microsoft Windows operating system, at control centers in Atlanta and Salt Lake City.
FAA is making a lot of headlines at the moment; it did last year, too. The latest suggests that there are serious holes.
Most of the problem is that the FAA has just two computing systems, one in Atlanta and one in Salt Lake City, to deal with the whole of the US. There was no redundancy, or enough different computers and communication channels to handle the same workload in an emergency.
If the FAA was a power company and it ran its operations in the same way it would be fined hundreds of thousand dollars a day.
Here is the latest incident, which led to some thinking and maybe an investigation.
According to an internal FAA document, the system, called the National Airspace Data Interchange Network, crashed on Thursday and caused in 134 departure delays. The Salt Lake City system also took over but had problems with the high queue level, the document said. The system also failed in June 2007.
Here is the older issue [expired].
AMR Corp.’s American Airlines spokesman Tim Wagner acknowledged the computer troubles and said the nation’s largest carrier experienced about 50 cancellations on the East Coast, with LaGuardia departures being hit the hardest.
On the brighter side of things, FAA seems to be rejecting the latest version of Windows.
The Federal Aviation Administration plans to bar contractors who administer the air traffic controllers exam from using Windows Vista-based PCs.
Those who are responsible for IT have actually considered GNU/Linux by now.
Bowen said he’s in talks with the aviation safety agency’s main hardware supplier, Dell Computer, to determine if it could deliver Linux-based computers capable of accessing Google Apps through a non-Microsoft browser once the FAA’s XP-based computers pass their shelf life.
Here is a personal account [expired].
The story had a certain flair. In early March, the chief information officer of the Federal Aviation Administration, David Bowen, was reportedly considering forsaking Microsoft Windows and Office in favor of the Linux operating system and the Web-based Google Apps Premium office suite.
There has been no word on this subject since then, so what will it be? █
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Fear and loathing of innocent gnus
Microsoft loves to claim that GNU/Linux does not exist. Where it exists, Microsoft pretends that it’s just ‘pirated’ Windows running and we recently covered such propaganda from Ina Fried and CNET [1, 2]. Kenya now seems quite likely a similar example.
Whenever Microsoft announces price drops, believe not the pitch about “poor students” and “to reduce piracy”. When and where Microsoft reduces its prices, it’s often because of Free software, which gains attraction that Microsoft is trying to stop.
There are at least two articles out there at the moment which claim Microsoft discounts in Kenya are intended to reduce copyright infringement. Microsoft compares this to the violent activity which is piracy. The original article pitches the news just like some obedient PR people from Microsoft rather than address the real market dynamics and share the details that Microsoft is not willing to talk about. The first post/article is a good example of this.
Microsoft’s plan to combat piracy in Kenya is pretty simple, really. Instead of trying to sue it away, they’re lowering prices to make Microsoft software more affordable, according to an IDG report.
Cherish the mercy of Microsoft. It prefers not to sue poor people.
This links to the IDG article, which resides in Network World.
But Ndung’u said that the corporation has developed a pricing structure for cyber cafés that requires them to pay US$10 per desktop annually.
It was widely publicised a while ago that cafés in Kenya were moving to GNU/Linux [1, 2, 3]. It’s not so much about so-called “piracy” then; it’s not about goodwill. It’s about being more competitive and reduce adoption of Free software. In other words, now they try dumping of Non-free software (or cheap giveaways) and they call it “fighting piracy”, not “fighting GNU/Linux”. They cast usage of GNU/Linux as something illegal that they kindly try to put an end to.
Why can’t Microsoft simply permit the Kenyan people to have freedom with Free(dom) software? It’s the same in South Africa where a new managing director has just been appointed. It has been a messy affair there [1, 2].
Need it be repeated that Microsoft allegedly blackmailed Kenya for OOXML support ? █
 Kenya: Copyright Board Takes Piracy War to Cyber Cafes
Cyber café operators within Nairobi are torn between legalising their Microsoft software operating system, shifting to Open Source Code or closing shop all together following the crack down on illegal software.
According to Mr Kasani, the software will manage all aspects of cyber café billing such as Internet time, printing, items, accounts, discounts, the programme will be across platform , it will be possible to run it on both Linux and Windows computers connected on the same cyber works.
 Linux cutting software costs in Kenya
Entrepreneurs in Kenya are putting Linux to work to cut costs and maximise profits as they look for new ways to bring computing to users.One of these entrepreneurs is Patrick Mathenge, CEO of Mullard Electronic Limited, a firm trading in hardware and software from its Mombasa Road offices. The company is distributing Linux software that can turn a single computer into up to 10 workstations.
 Open source opportunity on the road to Nairobi
Open source is facing a great opportunity in the cyber cafes of Nairobi, Kenya.
[4 ] Microsoft Denies Threatening to Withdraw Funding
[5 ] Kenya: How Software War Will Hurt Consumers
 Kenya Linux Group Challenges Procurement Policies
 Africa: ‘Microsoft is Imperialistic’ Says Open Source Advocates
 Swahili Blogosphere: State of education in Tanzania, M-Pesa and Open Source Movement in Kenya
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he Microsoft scandal in Hungary was last mentioned a few months ago. It’s part of a series of unacceptable events where the Hungarian people lose the most. Then came a formal complaint. McCreevy was soon assigned this job which came from Hungary, but that is a very bad appointment because McCreevy is a slave of the monopolists and maximalists. He won’t care about fair competition simply because he never does [1, 2].
“One must be left wondering what role Steve Ballmer and Charlie McCreevy played in this.”Now comes this article, which is written in Hungarian. Steve Ballmer is mentioned in it too, though not because of the egg-tossing incident.
Reader MinceR has provided us with a quick translation of the opening paragraph: “The court of Budapest decided it was legal to use the name of Microsoft in the public procurement procedure in which they wanted to buy software for 25 million HUF even though a few days earlier the Economic Competition Office decided it was a violation of neutrality of competition though this is apparently only a first instance decision.”
One must be left wondering what role Steve Ballmer and Charlie McCreevy played in this. It typically boils down to politics [1, 2].
We also mentioned the Quebec lawsuit the other day. The latest articles about it include:
Who said nobody gets fired for buying Microsoft?
There’s still regression in the sense that those infamous memoranda of understanding [1, 2] are occasionally signed. The latest victim appears to be Ajman University, which seems to favour procurement based on handshakes and secret contracts, as opposed to proper judgment.
UAE. Furthering its commitment to transform the UAE into a knowledge based society, Microsoft Gulf today signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Ajman University of Science and Technology (AUST).
This is not procurement. This is sleaze, based on investigations into similar MoUs. █
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Another airline bites the digital ashtray
Ryanair seems to have been getting a little chummy with Microsoft recently. It’s quite the rarity, but a concerning one nonetheless.
The recent [4432 door-shutting] at the Democratic National Convention left a lot of GNU/Linux users very bitter. The same goes for football and the Olympic games [1, 2, 3]. Microsoft is using Silverlight to put a “no entry” sign on several Web sites, just as it used to do with ActiveX, which Novell still supports.
Ryanair seems to have recently approached Microsoft with the aim of ‘un-opening’ its Web site, making it closed and obscure by design and by choice. An article was published about this today.
Travolution understands that Microsoft and technology provider Navitaire have been asked to “proactively eliminate” screen scraping of the Ryanair site, primarily by blocking block access from other sites.
A spokesperson confirmed that the airline would attempt to block as many sites as possible – mirroring a strategy by Directline Insurance in the UK which claims its products cannot be found on any price comparison website.
Perhaps it’s related to something we were alerted about over the weekend. Reader maxstirner told us yesterday that “Ryanair requires silverlight!!”
Was this part of the arrangement? This must not be the future of the Web or even tiny portions of it, which Microsoft wishes to also saturate with DRM (as part of the specifications even). █
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