A month ago we spotted Microsoft bribing people for positive reviews of Vista 7 [sic], which is just a horrible variant of Windows Vista. The reviews are a case of naked emperor, which aligns with our previous (fairly old by now) evidence and observations [1, 2].
Microsoft goes exceptionally far in order to police public perception. It’s not just about false and manipulated advertising, but it’s also about AstroTurfing and personal attacks against potential critics.
In certain cases, Microsoft would even try to push people out of their jobs. We’ve covered several such examples before and another recent one that we missed in 2008 involves a video game reviewer.
Not content with denying me my request to be able to, y’know, pay for my Xbox Live services, they’ve now taken to flat-out attacking me by trying to lose me a writing job.
There is more information about this incident here. An example of coordinated effects to manufacture news is documented with solid court evidence in [1, 2].
In response to this latest news about the army getting cracked for choosing Windows, interesting comments appeared in LinuxToday. Here are a couple, starting with some history.
But then I know that Microsoft is willing to go to extraordinary lengths to protect their image and to get _their_ story told. Remember, it was Microsoft who hounded a magazine chief editor to have a story told about one of their new projects. When the editor did assign the article to be written and a writer assigned, it was later found out that Microsoft assigned over a dozen Microsoft employees to this writer. They preplanned phone conversations, passed scripts around so everyone was on the same page, invited the writer to their site and took real good care that the _Microsoft_ version of the project was what was written. But in this case, they made one mistake and that was they accidentally included the writer in one of their planning emails.
They are The Puppe Masters. How else could you explain the great lengths many of these authors go to _not_ say that Microsoft has anything to do with these problems. As this current example shows.
The following is true too.
Microsoft spends $BILLIONS$ propping up it’s products – and with great success.
Astroturfing, opinion shaping, advertising, paid endorsements, even techniques like elevator marketing at any IT trade show – “Hey Bob, you should see what Microsoft is showing off at their booth!”, “Yeah I have – they own the market”.
Don’t even get me started about Microsoft’s ample bag of dirty tricks and influence purchasing.
We will continue to document examples, as we have already done over the years.
Don’t miss the ‘news’ about Microsoft pulling (reusing) a 1-year-old ‘study’ against Free software.
Microsoft disparages open-source TCO with year-old case study
The Speedy Hire case study is not new. It dates back to December 2007. So why is Microsoft touting it today? Perhaps due to the recession and desire by companies to find ways to cut costs by using more free software?
We’re seeing a lot of Microsoft 'studies' these days. Who peddles this stuff? As usual, all the paid Microsoft fans, who sing in harmony in hope of saving the convicted monopolist. █
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THE financial results from Novell (NOVL) are due tomorrow and the stock is down over 5% at the moment (in today’s trading alone). The main indexes are up, so it is not a trend that’s shared across the board.
Before Novell’s PR people come out to sprinkle some love and fairy tails on its shareholders, we ought to get the record straight by reminding readers of old facts:
- Novell recently shut down some offices across Europe
- Novell has a history of fraud
- Novell admits misconduct, in relation to its quarterly/annual reports
PR lies (see the ISV lie from last week) and come tomorrow, Novell will probably be lying again. Some might call it an embellishment or spin, but either way, press releases are designed to deceive.
Here are some reports that arrive ahead of the report.
1. The Fool’s Look Ahead
Novell (Nasdaq: NOVL) steps up. The networking specialist may not be the bellwether titan it used to be, but Novell has always managed to remain profitable. Analysts see the company posting a quarterly profit of $0.06 a share, in line with last year.
2. Reloading Another Rebound
Thursday: The pressure lightens up on Thursday, as only weekly initial jobless claims and October’s factory orders are on tap. In earnings news, Toll Brothers, Williams-Sonoma (nyse: WSM – news – people ), Guess (nyse: GES – news – people ), Novell (nasdaq: NOVL – news – people ) and Wind River (nasdaq: WIND – news – people ) are scheduled to release their quarterly reports.
3. The week ahead
Reports: October factory orders; weekly initial jobless claims
Earnings: Guess Inc.; Novell Inc.; Toll Brothers Inc.
4. Unusual (Buy-To-Open) Option Activity Ahead of This Week’s Earnings
The ratios on Sears Holding (SHLD: View sentiment for SHLDsentiment, chart, options) , Toll Brothers (TOL: View sentiment for TOLsentiment, chart, options) , Marvell Technology (MRVL: View sentiment for MRVLsentiment, chart, options) , and Novell (NOVL: View sentiment for NOVLsentiment, chart, options) are very high (ranging between 87% and 98%), which are signs of pessimism.
“Signs of pessimism,” eh? Well, whatever Novell says on Thursday must be taken with a big barrel of salt. Only a fortnight ago, Novell (along with Microsoft) pulled the numbers it liked best. And sadly enough, many reporter play it safe by being parrots. █
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Back doors no longer a great idea?
“It is no exaggeration to say that the national security is also implicated by the efforts of hackers to break into computing networks. Computers, including many running Windows operating systems, are used throughout the United States Department of Defense and by the armed forces of the United States in Afghanistan and elsewhere.”
–Jim Allchin, Microsoft
(In relation to the issue of sharing technical API and
protocol information used throughout Microsoft products)
In a society that is increasongly digital, even people’s physical security depends on software. So how about this breaking news?
Computer Virus Hits U.S. Military Base in Afghanistan?
The largest U.S. military base in Afghanistan was hit by a computer virus earlier this month that affected nearly three quarters of the computers on the base, U.S. News has learned.
It’s reported that 75% of the machines are infected, which is more than the usual 40%.
Carla Schroder nonchalantly wrote:
Ever notice how Microsoft plasters the Windows name on everything it can reach? Splash screens, stickers on computers, and advertising everywhere. There is no escaping it. Except when it’s yet another malware outbreak– then all the news organizations go inexplicably deaf, dumb, and blind, as this latest story demonstrates:
Virus hits nearly 75% of systems on Afghanistan military base.
Is it serious? Well….
“…the intrusion was severe enough to raise the INFOCON status, the information security equivalent of the DEFCON alert, and also necessitate the briefing of the president.”
And yet nobody is yelling “Why the heck are they using Windows?”
But it’s not just the military where it is a matter of life and death. London’s hospitals too are under siege by Windows viruses over two weeks after the plague had been initially reported and the system taken down. Here is the report from The Register.
Computer systems at three London hospitals are almost back to normal two weeks after a computer virus forced staff to shut down its network.
In an updated statement, posted on Friday, the Trust said 97 per cent of its 5,000 computers have now been scanned and confirmed to be free of malware. The remaining PCs should be back online soon.
IDG covered this too.
Around 5,000 PCs at St Bartholomew’s, the Royal London Hospital and The London Chest Hospital were hit in mid-November by an infection of Mytob, a worm that e-mails itself to other PCs and can be used to put other malicious software on a machine.
About 97 percent of those PCs are now clear of Mytob, according to a statement issued Friday. The remaining PCs, which are located in non-clinical areas, should soon come back online.
How much did it cost to repair these PCs? How many hours were needlessly spent by nervous staff? How much data was stolen? How many ill people received no treatment? How come nobody is reported to have been sacked for this fiasco, which is akin to the one in LSE? Next time you visit the hospital, bring a Live CD.
Also in the news so far this week:
1. Worm Spawns Huge New Botnet
The worm exploiting a critical Windows bug that Microsoft Corp. patched with an emergency fix in late October is being used to build a new botnet, a security researcher said Monday.
Ivan Macalintal, a senior research engineer with Trend Micro Inc. , said that the worm, which his company has dubbed “Downad.a” — it’s called “Conficker.a” by Microsoft and “Downadup” by Symantec Corp. — is a key component in a new botnet that criminals are creating.
2. McDonalds survey scam is super-size fraud
Phishing fraudsters are attempting to scam the credulous into handing over their credit card details on the basis of a supposed offer from McDonalds.
3. Beware an Orkut Trojan
According to an alert from the security firm, the hoax message, which has been received by a number of Orkut users and is written in Portuguese, looks like it comes from a lonely Orkut member looking for love and features a number of links which appear to link back to the social-networking site.
4. Malware is Getting Smarter, CA Warns
Online attacks will be dominated by smarter malware and bots targeting Web users ranging from gamers and social network users to the elderly and unsuspecting parents.
This is according to IT management software company CA, maker of the CA Internet Security Suite, which was recently updated to the Plus 2009 version.
Computers used to be fun. They are still fun… for cybercriminals. █
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Well, Microsoft paid Novell a lot of money to have headlines like this pushed into ZDNet and for dead proprietary formats to float with Novell's endorsement.
Microsoft boosts OOXML compatibility
The enhancements came out of the Document Interoperability Initiative (DII), a working group set up in March between Microsoft and companies such as Novell, QuickOffice and Dataviz. The object of the DII was to boost the interoperability between Office Open XML (OOXML) and rival XML-based document formats such as the open-source OpenDocument Format (ODF), which was already a ratified ISO standard.
John McCreesh, an evangelist for OpenOffice.org, the main open-source competitor to the Microsoft Office productivity suite, told ZDNet UK on Wednesday that he was surprised to hear Microsoft was continuing to work on OOXML’s compatibility.
“The feeling had been that OOXML was dead in the water, so it’s interesting to see that Microsoft is still trying to revive it in the marketplace,” said McCreesh. “The response in the marketplace [to OOXML] hasn’t been that encouraging, but they’ve clearly decided it’s worth another push.”
The passage of OOXML through its International Organization for Standardization (ISO) ratification process attracted criticism from many observers and national standards body members. Some national standards bodies objected to Microsoft’s perceived tactics in getting OOXML ratified, while arguing that there was no need for a second XML standard after ODF.
The author, David Meyer, ought to have gone further and shared the stories of corruption behind OOXML. Being shy about crime makes one’s job safer, but it doesn’t make decent reporting. █
“Microsoft corrupted many members of ISO in order to win approval for its phony ‘open’ document format, OOXML. This was so governments that keep their documents in a Microsoft-only format can pretend that they are using ‘open standards.’ The government of South Africa has filed an appeal against the decision, citing the irregularities in the process.”
“The ISO process, brutal and corrupt as it was, has been covered to death by everyone.”
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Free software versus fee software is not ‘ideological’ debate
In-place upgrades are challenging not only under Windows (high failure rate in XP-to-Vista migrations), but also in other operating systems. The complexity and diversity of systems, especially with added software and hacks, makes upgrades a tricky task that’s prone to breakage. When deciding to upgrade any GNU/Linux distribution, it is a wise idea to make complete backups first.
Why are we mentioning all of this? Well, upgrade issues which Bill Beebe was experiencing (Adam from Mandriva already rebuts) left him bitter and willing to try OpenSUSE, which he used many times before.
I already had OpenSUSE 11.1 RC on CD, so I figured “why not?” I dropped the CD into the drive, booted into the live desktop, and started an install. It has been some time since I installed OpenSUSE, let alone worked with it. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but the experience turned out to be pretty straightforward and fast. In particular I found that the OpenSUSE installer wanted to view my drives and partitions in the same order that Mandriva 2008.1 (and everything else up to that point) had seen them. The only difference being that the hda/hdb labels were replaced with sda/sdb, and the older sda SATA drive was now sdc.
In a shining display of sour grapes, Bill then decided to justify or defend his new choice of a distribution, excusing Novell, Microsoft and SUSE all at the same time.
The release Thursday of OpenSUSE 11.1 RC ‘incited’ me to download the KDE-based Open CD version and give it a spin. I’ve been tracking KDE 4.1 across three distributions (Mandriva 2009, Fedora 10, and OpenSUSE). I tried Kubuntu 8.10 and immediately rebooted my system and threw the CD in the trash. Kubuntu in any version is one of the worst ways to experience KDE (version 3 or version 4).
And then there are the conspiracy nuts led by Boycott Novell, who would have you believe that OpenSUSE’s prime sponsor, Novell, is the Little Satan to Microsoft’s Great Satan because of the business agreement Novell and Microsoft entered two years ago. Well, I have a few clues for Messieurs Coyle and Schestowitz; (1) Microsoft isn’t going anywhere, and neither is Novell for that matter, and (2) OpenSUSE should be evaluated on technical merit, not some twisted ideological crusade based on distorted and contrived facts.
So due to an error that could be prevented, Bill chose the American distro owned by Microsoft’s ally over the European one that proudly rejected racketeering and now there’s a search for reasoning. A day or two ago, Sam Varghese wrote about the role of Mandriva in Europe after SUSE had been grabbed by a proprietary software company from the United States.
Among the many distributions which have an European heritage, SUSE and Mandriva were the two best known. Once SUSE fell into American hands, with its purchase by Novell in 2003, there was a gap opened for Mandriva to fill on the European continent.
Anivar Aravind has already explained why Novell is a sinner, at least in India. GNU India has tried to gently distance itself from unnecessary friction using a FAQ, but it was reported to us that this text got watered down for ‘political’ reasons and it is accessible only to members now (it wasn’t the case on December 1st). For future reference, we reproduce a copy below, as permitted (fetched from Google cache). █
Board statement on recent issues
1. Who organised the First National Conference on Free Software held in Andra Pradesh in 2007?
As part of FSF India’s effort to strengthen the free software
movement in AP, FSF India has been working closely with free software
activists there. Initiatives like Swecha took place as part of
that. FSF India Director, Mr Kiranchandra provided the leadership for
the activities in Andhra Pradesh. Based on his suggestion and his
initiative, FSF India decided to organise a national convention of
free software activists. Under his leadership, FSF India worked
with other organisations like University of Hyderabad and Swecha to
conduct the first national convention. A committed group of Swecha activists, academicians from Universities like Jawaharlal Nehru Technological University (JNTU) and Osmania University ( OU) in-association with University of Hyderabad actively involved in the first national conference.
However due to the inexperience of the local organisers, the valedictory
session became a platform for anti-free software propaganda. Some of
the speakers invited for the valedictory session used the opportunity
to spread messages against Free Software. Though other speakers like
Dr. Nagarjuna did try to correct the misinformation, the damage could
not, obviously, be fully undone.
A free software event should support the free software cause, and that
also means not lending its platform to the opponents of free software.
Those opponents have lots of money, and hold far more events than we
do, in which they promote their ideas. They are not entitled to
neuter our events by becoming speakers there.
Website of the conference is available here:
2. Was the “National Free Software Conference” in Kochi a follow-up to
the conference held in Hydrabad in 2007?
No, it cannot be considered so. FSF India came to know about the
`Second National Conference in Kochi` only when the organisers started
sending mails to various fora about the conference. We were surprised
to see this because FSF India was one of the organisers of the first
conference in Hyderabad. We tried to communicate with the organisers
of the conference in Kochi and clarify the situation. The facts will
be clear from the communications we had with them in that regard that
we are publishing now.
After the communications from FSF India, the organisers removed the
reference to the first national convention organised by FSF India and
renamed the convention in Kochi as simply the ‘National Free Software
The Organisers of the event continued to refer to their event misleadingly
as the followup to the first convention organised in Hydrabad by FSF India,
jointly with Swecha and University of Hyderabad.
You can see our communications with the organisers of Kochi conference here.
3. Is FSF India planning to start local chapters in every state?
FSF India does not have any plan to form local chapters. FSF India
is not a mass based organisation. We encourage Free Software Users Groups,
GNU/Linux Users Groups and similar other initiatives to come up in
every state and we would like to work with them and support them. We
are planning to announce a policy for this soon.
We have directly helped to initiate FSUG Banglore, FSF AP (we now
realise that this name can be misleading), Swecha, SPACE etc. We also
work with many other organisations.
4. What is the relation between FSF India and FSF TN that was inaugurated at a conference in Chennai recently?
In the website of the Freedom and Software conference held at
Chennai on September 21, 2008, it was originally announced that FSF TN
would be inaugurated. FSF India does not have any relation with this
FSF TN. Based on the information that was available on the website
announcing the conference and FSF TN, we wrote to them about our
objection to the use of FSF India’s logo (the image of a wheel)
without permission and the confusion that arose through the use of a
name similar to FSF India’s. We are yet to hear from them. But they
eventually changed their name to Free Software Team Tamil Nadu.
Website of Freedom and Software conference:
Letter from FSF India to TN organizers
5. What is FSF India’s position with CPI(M) or any political parties
for that matter?
As a parliamentary democracy, political parities play an important
role in the policy formation process in India. FSF India wants to
influence public policy on the ICT sector to promote software
freedom. In order to achieve this, we work with all the
political parties in India. CPI(M) was the first political party to
provide policy level support to the Free Software movement. We
continue to work with them to further the cause of software
freedom. CPI(M) has been positive in its support for Free Software,
for instance, in clearly promoting Free Software and its ideals in its
ICT policy in Kerala.
However this must not be seen as any political endorsement from FSF
India to any political party. We may criticise the party if it
promotes non-free software, and we have done so in the past too. It
may be noted that we have been vocal about both supporting and
objecting to the policies of CPI(M) led governments. For example, we
supported the Kerala Education department for promoting free software
while we protested when the IKM promoted proprietary software in
Kerala or the West Bengal government adopted proprietary software in
6. What is the position of FSF India on the campaign against Novell?
FSF India does not have a campaign against Novell. We share
the concerns raised by the boycott Novell campaign. While Novell
is making contribution to free software, many of Novell’s actions
put the free software community’s and the users’ freedom at risk.
7. What is FSF India’s position on the protest held in Kochi during
the free software conference?
FSF India condemns the attack on free software activists who were
criticizing Novell in a nonviolent and legitimate way.
Two of the FSF India board members, Dr V. Sasikumar and Mr M. Arun,
joined other free software activists to protest against man-handling
of peaceful free software campaigners. This protest was also
stopped by authorities in an authoritarian and undemocratic manner.
It is a shame that an event held in the name of software freedom acted
against the freedom of expression of the attendees. This is a lesson
to the community for the future. We should keep the words of Shri
Rabindranath Tagore in mind:
Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;
Where knowledge is free;
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by narrow
Where words come out from the depth of truth;
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the
dreary desert sand of dead habit;
Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening thought
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.
— Rabindranath Tagore
8. Who can speak on behalf of FSF India?
The Secretary is normally the official spokesperson of FSF India. But
any member of the Board may speak on behalf of the
Foundation. However, it may be noted that such statements by any
member of the Board, including the Secretary, may be considered as the
official statement of the Board only if it is specifically mentioned so.
FSF India board members and employees may have their own opinion on
various issues. These opinions are not the opinions of FSF India. Only
those decisions, discussed and approved by the Director Board of FSF
India, are the opinions of FSF India. We have always tried to clearly
distinguish between these when we make public statements. For
instance, this FAQ is a statement from the Board.
9. Are the members of the Director Board of FSF India elected?
The members of the Director Board of FSF India are nominated by the
existing Board based on the commitment of the person to the philosophy
of Free Software and his/her clarity about the same. As mentioned
in the answer to an earlier question, FSF India is not a mass movement
and is not a democratic organisation. The purpose of FSF India, as of
FSF, is to provide guidance to the Free Software movement. This purpose
could be easily defeated if it is made into an elected body.
10. Can any one hijack FSF India ?
The structure described above makes that very difficult.
11) Are there organisations from which FSF India will not accept support?
FSF India is willing to accept monetary or other support from any source
so long as it comes without any strings attached. FSF India reserves the
right to criticise any organisation that, according to it, acts against
the interests of the Free Software movement, irrespective of whether
they have been supporting FSF India in any manner. Any organisation that
believes in the philosophy of Free Software and is willing to contribute
in terms of funds or other kind of support is invited to contribute
without in any way influencing the functioning of FSF India.
We take care, when accepting donations, not to become dependent on them
(Approved by the Director Board of FSF India)
Please send feedback to email@example.com
Copyright © 2002-2006 Free Software Foundation of India.
Verbatim copying and distribution of this entire article is permitted in any medium, provided this notice is preserved.
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Democratic societies under fire
THIS POST may not fit the theme of this Web site and it was probably worth including only in the daily links, but the sheer abuse which is the ACTA absolutely deserves more attention because it’s deliberately kept secret [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15]. It’s rare for governments to acknowledge its existence, but here is a new exception.
Currently, according to the Commission, Australia, Canada, South Korea, Mexico, Morocco, New Zealand Singapore, and Switzerland participate in the negotiations, along with the talks’ initiators the US, Japan, and the EU. A long term goal is to involve the large developing economic regions of Russia and China in the ACTA process. The paper succinctly states that enforcing intellectual property rights in these regions could stand some improvement.
Previously, observers had levelled sharp criticism at the ACTA process. Above all, the Commission faced criticism of its practice of closed door-negotiations without involving representatives of civil society and without releasing any information about the plan.
As this article shows, they parrot the propaganda so commonly generated and spread by the copyrights cartel, including disinformation about lost revenue and jobs (what revenues and whose jobs?). The Commission was either brainwashed or bamboozled. The reason the ACTA got leaked a few months ago is that someone possessing inside knowledge was concerned. A person was concerned enough to take the risk of informing the public.
Well, according to Glyn Moody, new laws are now being devised to treat those ‘nasty’ leakers as though they are terrorists. It’s censorship, it’s suppression, and it’s abominable.
Clearly, this law will have a chilling effect not just on people wanting to leak information that is embarrassing to the government – since it becomes even harder to resist exaggerated responses of the kind we have seen recently – but on any kind of journalism or blogging about civil liberties. The sickening slide towards the police state continues apace.
Over in France, where the president has ties with the copyrights cartel [1, 2], the effects of draconian legislation such as the ACTA can already be seen. From the news:
A French court has ruled that foreign retailers must warn consumers to pay the country’s so-called “iPod tax” copyright levy on MP3 players ordered online.
People are considered “thieves” by default. They never receive the chance to prove otherwise and they are forced to compensate (in advance) the copyrights cartel for something they never did.
Another noteworthy cause against suppression comes from the EFF, which helps battle the monitoring of the ‘crowds’ (to keep them ‘under control’ by an elite minority that serves its own interests behind closed doors).
On Tuesday, December 2, at 10 a.m., the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) will challenge the constitutionality of a federal law aimed at granting immunity to telecommunications companies participating in illegal domestic surveillance.
At Tuesday’s hearing, EFF will argue that the flawed FISA Amendments Act (FAA) improperly attempts to take away Americans’ claims arising out of the First and Fourth Amendments, violates the federal government’s separation of powers as established in the Constitution, and robs innocent telecom customers of their rights without due process of law. Signed by President Bush earlier this year, the FAA allows for the dismissal of the lawsuits over the telecoms’ participation in the warrantless surveillance program if the government secretly certifies to the court that the surveillance did not occur, was legal, or was authorized by the president. Attorney General Michael Mukasey filed that classified certification with the court in September and is demanding that the cases be dismissed.
This is not a democracy. It’s a modernised police state. █
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