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12.30.08

Revolution O/S

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Videos at 4:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Links 30/12/2008: New Fedora Board, AMD Docs, Debian Developer Dies in Accident

Posted in News Roundup at 1:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

GNU/Linux

F/OSS

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Digital Tipping Point: Marcelo Marques, visionary security networks entrepreneur 02 (2004)

Ogg Theora

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

SDTimes Explains Why Microsoft Wants Open Source

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Law, Microsoft, Samba at 10:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

I want you for money

A FEW DAYS AGO, Bradley Kuhn explained why Microsoft is unlikely to be really interested in open source. In fact, at the beginning of this month, Microsoft unleashed a press release that explicitly insulted open source for bearing higher TCO (it’s Gartner-speak by the way) than Microsoft’s proprietary technology. How can this two-faced approach stand?

Well, Microsoft appoints all sorts of people who pretend to live in an entirely different universe, from which they deceive the competition. One of these people is Sam Ramji, to whom SDTimes gave the soapbox a few days ago (SDTimes belongs to or is affiliated with IDG [1, 2], of which it is a member). In response to this deceptive article, which came across as though it was just parroting Microsoft on open source, the same publication released this rebuttal that echoes Bradley Kuhn.

The number of lines of code Microsoft has given back to the community is tiny compared to other software companies of the same size, he said. “Microsoft has made tiny contributions under BSD-style licenses and is making big noise about giving code back. They are making a mountain out of a molehill. Sam’s job is to put a clean face on Microsoft’s involvement with free and open-source software, and to make the community feel that they are giving back.”

Sam Ramji, whom we mentioned in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11], does not even have any real background in Free software. The closest he got to it was Software as a Service (SaaS). Lack of experience can be an excuse for imposed ignorance. Further, states the article:

Kuhn’s biggest point of contention is that Microsoft is still refusing to participate with the General Public License (GPL), the most widely used open-source license. “They basically have the opposite position of every other company involved with open-source software,” he noted.

Kuhn also dismissed Microsoft’s work with the Samba project as being nothing more than a consequence of court-ordered mandates.

This never prevented Microsoft from pretending that they love Samba and complied due to the goodness of their hearts. We must all remember the truth though.

“Open source is an intellectual-property destroyer [...] I can’t imagine something that could be worse than this for the software business and the intellectual-property business. I’m an American; I believe in the American way, I worry if the government encourages open source, and I don’t think we’ve done enough education of policymakers to understand the threat.”

Jim Allchin, President of Platforms & Services Division at Microsoft

Ray Niro, Microsoft, and Other Patent Failures

Posted in Apple, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 10:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent troll

AN IMPORTANT STORY that we mentioned on Boxing day is about a high-profile, yet outrageous, lawsuit that involves software patents and what some sources label “trolling”. As correctly pointed out here:

If necessary, Google, Microsoft, and Apple will surely fight all of this tooth and nail. Whether even a smallish effort is necessary remains to be seen, however, since examples of prior art are abundant.

Prior art has already been identified.

In five minutes of searching, I found this mention in a book that Windows 98 offered an option to use image thumbnails in Explorer. Cygnus originally filed their patent on June 12, 1998, but Windows 98 was already in beta at that point — I was testing it at that time — and by that time Microsoft probably had the feature implemented. And I wonder, where did Microsoft get the idea for the feature? Was it really a totally original idea, or did they have some earlier example they were following?

Now, watch this:

The Niro firm is representing the patent holder – Cygnus Systems. An additional continuation is pending. The complaint can be found through Stanford’s LexMachina Database.

Niro?

Over time, however, I have heard from many people in the industry that what they see coming at them by way of lawsuits is nothing more than harassing, and I would have to say if that is the definition of what a patent troll is then I can’t imagine how else Cygnus Systems could be properly characterized. The federal complaint filed by Raymond Niro in the United States District Court for the District of Arizona has absolutely no useful information in it and is hardly appropriate to put anyone on notice of what the plaintiff is claiming the defendants did wrong.

Is this Raymond Niro [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] by any chance?

Why yes it is. “Cygnus Systems has initiated a patent infringement law suit with Niro, Scavone, Haller & Niro Partners against Microsoft, Google, and Apple Inc.”

So, the father of a notorious methodology for abusing loopholes in the patent system could be a mastermind behind this mess. This lawsuit is also covered here and here.

Microsoft was among those who got sued, but it’s no victim; far from it. Microsoft is seeking a patent on addictionware/drugware that restricts people’s ability to own and control their computers, returning us all back to the age of mainframes when Gates and Allen unnecessary created problems.

Microsoft files pay-per-use PC patent

[...]

Microsoft’s patent application does acknowledge that a per-use model of computing would probably increase the cost of ownership over the PC’s lifetime. The company argues in its application, however, that “the payments can be deferred and the user can extend the useful life of the computer beyond that of the one-time purchase machine”.

The document suggests that “both users and suppliers benefit from this new business model” because “the user is able to migrate the performance level of the computer as needs change over time, while the supplier can develop a revenue stream business that may actually have higher value than the one-time purchase model currently practiced”.

This seems like a repetition of one of Microsoft’s oddest patent stories, which we covered here before. They want to apply the same principles to access to documents [1, 2].

Intel, Microsoft's collusions partner, is helping Microsoft with this initiative by the way, especially in countries that are determined to move to GNU/Linux. This pair also collaborated on destruction of OLPC's mission, which was to help underprivileged children. Microsoft’s vision is entirely different -- it's about artificial limitations and addiction as well.

Elsewhere in the news, which got published throughout the holidays, software patents strike again:

On Christmas Eve, South Korean game developer NCSoft received a lawsuit in its stocking from a Massachusetts firm that claims to hold an extremely broad patent for developing online virtual worlds.

We already know that the system is broken and, in order to make progress, companies with strong presence must push for a reform, but it’s not happening just yet.

The tech giants in the Coalition for Patent Fairness are joined by a strange assortment of others, most notably prominent banks such as Bank of America, Wells Fargo, Wachovia, HSBC North America, Capital One and others. The reason for what appears to be a strange assortment of collaborators is the fact that tech giants like Google, Microsoft, Cisco, Apple and others are facing what they characterize as a huge patent troll problem, and this so-called patent troll problem comes disproportionately from business method patents and software patents. So it is easy to see why the banks and tech giants have formed an alliance to go after these types of patents that impact technology, communication and software. The Coalition for Patent Fairness is waging an all out assault on those that invent in the high-tech areas that will define the future of the US economy.

[...]

The Coalition for Patent Fairness home page has a series of factoids in the bottom right corner. If you refresh the screen you will see several different factoids pop up, all with the objective of scaring those who read the information into believing that there is a patent troll problem and the technology and bank members of the Coalition are the victims and they are almost helpless to do anything. First, they are not helpless, they just choose to pursue bad strategies that are calculated to encourage patent troll lawsuits.

A solution may come nearer to an extent, ushered by the Bilski ruling [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14].

Experts believe that the Supreme Court is unlikely to accept review of the Bilski decision, leaving intact Bilski’s rule that to be patentable, computer software must meet a (nonstatutory, judicially-imposed) “machine or transformation” test.

It’s not just business methods and software that make bad patents. There are ethical questions too when life is at stake. Glyn Moody possibly paraphrases Slated when he points out that:

There is currently a huge bun-fight going on at the WHO over who has the “rights” to “own” key genomic information about pandemic influenza viruses.

[...]

You would have thought that against the background of a financial system brought to its knees by blind greed, at least here at the World *Health* Organisation there would be a more, er, healthy and mature attitude to saving the world from a potentially even greater disaster. Apparently not….

Patents need to be reassessed not in terms of their financial impact alone but their impact on life too. Many patents are inherently unethical as they lead to deaths, primarily in the name of endless greed profit and reluctance to share vital information innovation.

“Since the birth of the Republic, the U.S. government has been in the business of handing out “exclusive rights” (a.k.a., monopolies) in order to “promote progress” or enable new markets of communication. Patents and copyrights accomplish the first goal; giving away slices of the airwaves serves the second. No one doubts that these monopolies are sometimes necessary to stimulate innovation. Hollywood could not survive without a copyright system; privately funded drug development won’t happen without patents. But if history has taught us anything, it is that special interests—the Disneys and Pfizers of the world—have become very good at clambering for more and more monopoly rights. Copyrights last almost a century now, and patents regulate “anything under the sun that is made by man,” as the Supreme Court has put it. This is the story of endless bloat, with each round of new monopolies met with a gluttonous demand for more.”

Lawrence Lessig

View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: patent court)

Unmasking “hAl”, Pro-OOXML Fighter

Posted in Microsoft, Open XML at 8:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Anonymity is not fair in Microsoft's age of "technical evangelists"

ONE of the leading forces behind a pseudo-grassroots push for OOXML is a mysterious character known as “hAl”. This character was responsible also for smearing the names of those who spoke truth about OOXML, including myself. We wrote about this character before, but we have just obtained some information about hAl, which was sent to us anonymously. It was found on a special week, on which Google opened its archives, and there it was, in Google’s cache, a homepage from hAl, from the year 2000. This matches some of the information that we already have (the name “Albert” and city/country of residence). From the page:

Here is some more information about myself:

Albert Zonneveld

Born on 16-may-’69 in Heemskerk, The Netherlands
I live in Castricum at the Dutch coasts about 15 miles northwest from Amsterdam.

(Route) <= http://free.lokatienet.nl/freemap.asp?postcode=1901ej&zoom=4

My hobbies are:

* Badminton
* Reading books (They do still exist), mainly SF and Adventure
* Playing board/card games, because I enjoy the company more than I do my computer
* Playing united games by mail, the kind that is still delivered door to door.
* A friendly game of snooker And last but not least… drinking BEER.

Favorites:

* URL: < still looking for a good one >
* Book: Ringworld by Larry Niven
* Writer: Robert A Heinlein
* Beer: Westmalle Triple
* Game: 1830
* Computer game: Nethack (Seen the spectacular graphics??!!)

a.zonneveld@tip.nl

At that time he was employed at PinkRoccade, a large Dutch ICT-service-company, working, mostly, for government.

Our source claims that he is writing a lot on the Dutch Web site webwereld.nl, which is owned by the Microsoft-paid analysts at IDC.

To merely give away the identity of someone who smears another would only be fair. One’s identity is not a smear; it’s information and it’s publicly accessible.

Here he is posting under his full name (also here) and discrediting a Red Hat employee along with “The Wraith” and Microsoft’s Doug Mahugh. He also commented on Miguel de Icaza’s blog when de Icaza’s said that “The EU Prosecutors are Wrong [about Microsoft].” It’s always fascinating to see a vice president from Novell defending Microsoft from those ‘zealots’ in the European Commission.

“The Norwegian [OOXML] affair was a scandal and we are still pursuing it. We haven’t given up hope of changing the vote back to No, and we hope people who experienced similar travesties in other countries will do the same.”

Steve Pepper

flickr:2400865918

Microsoft Executives Go Personal, Pay Obama Instead of Their Lobbyists

Posted in Finance, Microsoft at 7:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Change: why accept money from lobbyists? Just accept it directly from their funding source.

TWO MONTHS ago we showed that Steve Ballmer and Bill Gates personally make donations to politicians. They almost literally put money in their bank accounts. Why? What for?

Obama seems to be repeating the same mistakes as the Republicans — assuming financial gain is an ethical issue for a diplomat. For the Obama administration to accept such payments (up, close and personal even) is not a smart move. Obama is already receiving advice directly from Bill Gates, who is passing billions of dollars to many governments (not for 'charity', either). Bill Gates and his father also used Abramoff to subvert the United States government. That was before Abramoff got sentenced to jail.

Here is a breakdown of the latest collection of money:

Ballmers, Gateses give combined $200k to Obama inauguration

[...]

The committee’s website also lists “William Gates” for a $50,000 donation, although it’s not clear [i]f that’s the Microsoft co-founder or his father, who are often confused in elections filings. Melinda Gates is listed separately for another $50,000 donation, as is Ballmer’s wife, Connie. That’s $200,000 total from the Gates and Ballmer families, for anyone keeping track.

[...]

Rob Glaser, RealNetworks CEO, $50,000
Steven Van Roekel, Windows Server Solutions, $50,000
Nick Hanauer, Second Avenue Partners, $25,000
Craig Mundie, Microsoft chief research and strategy officer, $25,000
Brad Smith, Microsoft general counsel, $25,000
Mike Mathieu, former CEO of All Star Directories, $25,000

More here:

Microsoft’s Ballmer helps fund Obama’s inauguration

Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer may not have contributed to Barack Obama’s election campaign, but he is chipping in to help fund the president-elect’s inauguration.

They put money on the table. Kiss trust goodbye. Here are some more details:

He has said that he will not accept donations from corporations, lobbyists or political action committees.

A Microsoft spokeswoman said, “These donations are personal contributions from the named Microsoft executives, and not representative of Microsoft the corporation.”

If these payments do not come from Microsoft’s lobbyists (Microsoft tops the lobbying chart by the way) but from typical funders of these lobbyists, does that make it all right? It sure seems like a verbal loophole — saying you won't accept money from lobbyists [... but will accept it from their paymasters]. It’s not as if Microsoft does not align its legion of lobbyists to more effectively influence Democrats [1, 2].

“It’s not as if Microsoft does not align its legion of lobbyists to more effectively influence Democrats.”As the comments from the above say, “What happens to the 24MM dollars (publicly visible) donated so far?”

And also: “I don’t get this. How does one benefit by donating money to the inauguration? I assume you get a bunch of invitations to pass out to your friends, but that seems a bit on the expensive side.

“I don’t think anyone donates $50,000 out of the goodness of their heart.”

By keeping people out of the public arena, those who are involved in this affair hope to receive no flak for what they do.

Microsoft: it does politics… and some software too

Lincoln_address 1958

‘Excerpt from Lincoln’s famous speech, noted for the phrase “a house divided against itself cannot stand,” when accepting the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate from Illinois in June of 1858.’

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: December 29th, 2008 – Part 2

Posted in IRC Logs at 5:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

Read the rest of this entry »

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: December 29th, 2008 – Part 1

Posted in IRC Logs at 5:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

Read the rest of this entry »

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