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03.12.09

Isn’t the MSBBC Breaking the Law by Hijacking 22,000 Taxpayers’ PCs, at Taxpayers’ Expense?

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 2:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft BBC

Summary: British computer crime law is broken by the BBC, which invades the Windows PCs of people without their permission

IT IS NO secret that Microsoft Windows is insecure by design and almost 1 in 2 Windows PCs is a zombie, but the BBC has just done something bizarre which is also a violation of the law.

As The Register puts it:

An investigation by the BBC into cybercrime may itself have broken UK computer crime law.

BBC Click got its hands on a botnet of 22,000 compromised PCs from an underground forum. It used these machines to send spam to two accounts it had established with Gmail and Hotmail. The programme also used these zombie machines to show how they might be used in a denial of service attack.

Slashdot says that the “BBC Hijacks 22,000 PCs In Botnet Demonstration” and The Inquirer’s headline is “The BBC hacked my computer.”

The result is loads of dire warnings about the perils of bot nets and shedloads of long ‘easy to follow’ explanations from the ‘zany’ BBC tech presenter.

What was the BBC thinking? Surely the unthinkable. It is actually being funded by the victims, thus adding insult to injury.

Those who prefer not to have the BBC (or a malicious cracker) take over their computer without any permission ought to take a look at GNU/Linux unless they already use it.

Here is the original report from Click:

Software used to control thousands of home computers has been acquired online by the BBC as part of an investigation into global cyber crime.

The technology programme Click has demonstrated just how at risk PCs are of being taken over by hackers.

Almost 22,000 computers made up Click’s network of hijacked machines, which has now been disabled.

The BBC has now warned users that their PCs are infected, and advised them on how to make their systems more secure.

We are no fans of the BBC because it is increasingly occupied by Microsoft employees, who obviously discriminate against GNU/Linux. Details below.

On BBC and Microsoft:

Can OLPC Commit Just to Free(dom) Software Again?

Posted in Boycott Novell, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OLPC, Windows at 1:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Black girl

Summary: OLPC is said to be moving away from x86 (and Windows XP)

AFTER atrocious manipulation — even sabotage — from convicted abusers Intel and Microsoft comes this report about OLPC moving away to better chipsets which Windows XP does not support.

OLPC Set to Dump X86 for Arm Chips in XO-2

[...]

[T]he Arm chip could lead to problems for XO-2 in trying to load a full version of Windows, Negroponte said. As with the XO-1, OLPC wants to offer a dual-boot option on XO-2 where users can choose to load either Linux or a full Windows OS. While Arm processors can run Windows Mobile operating systems, they can’t run a full Windows OS.

The comment from Charbax is worth reading, but what will this all mean?

Patent Trolls — Including Acacia — Attack Linux Users/Devices

Posted in Courtroom, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 12:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent troll (cat)

Summary: McKesson, Android and G1 hit by patent trolls

HAVING SHOWN possible relationships between Microsoft and Acacia [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11], more recently we showed Acacia’s moves of aggression in the world of technology, for example (sorted reverse chronologically):

McKesson Besieged

Acacia has just resorted to successful extortion against a large user of GNU/Linux.

Acacia Research Corporation (Nasdaq: ACTG) announced today that its Hospital Systems Corporation subsidiary has entered into a license agreement with McKesson Information Solutions LLC covering a portfolio of patents that apply to medical picture archiving and communication system (PACS) technology. This agreement resolves the parties’ dispute that was pending in the District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

Got that? Eastern District of Texas again.

This may be particularly interesting because McKesson uses GNU/Linux. To cite an old article:

LinuxWorld: Health care IT solutions

At the LinuxWorld conference in San Francisco, McKesson CIO Randal Spratt explains why his company deploys its health care applications on Linux. He says these applications are scalable, affordable on tight hospital budgets, and reliable–making better patient care possible.

Here is a press release from McKesson:

As a leading provider of technology solutions to the healthcare industry, McKesson has been at the forefront of innovative technologies, deploying many of its advanced Horizon Clinicals applications on Linux running on Intel-based hardware. Hospitals with these deployments have already realized cost savings of up to 60% compared with traditional system deployments.

Acacia’s targeting is unlikely to have been intentional, it is not related to the underlying platform, but it shows that Linux devices/appliances are not immune to patents trolls. There is another case of point further down at the bottom.

According to this new press release, EFI too is a victim of Acacia’s patents extortion. Sure, it must be all about ‘innovation’ when a company without any products is taking money away from those who have some. The industry is saturated if not occupied predominantly by patent trolls who have nothing to lose in terms of public perception.

Android Besieged

Google’s Linux-powered (well, Android-powered) phone is a new victim of Judah Klausner, who is yet another patent troll that has already extracted money from other companies.

Google has agreed to settle an intellectual property claim brought by serial inventor Judah Klausner, who has won settlements in the past from Apple, Skype and LG Electronics, Klausner said on Monday.

The dispute concerned patents that Klausner holds covering so-called visual voicemail, which makes voicemail work more like email by sending visual alerts of voice messages to computers or phones, allowing users to selectively retrieve the messages.

Visual voicemail is a key feature of many of the latest touchscreen phones on the market, including Apple’s iPhone. New York-based Klausner holds several patents relating to the technology in the United States, Europe and Asia.

Klausner grabbed the attention of the mobile phone industry in late 2007 when his company, privately held Klausner Technologies Inc, sued Apple and six other companies for $360 million for violating patents on visual voicemail technology.

“Visual voicemail” is no invention, but who has the energy to fight? Google publicly complained last week, arguing that approximately 90% of the patent lawsuits against it come from patent trolls.

More coverage in:

  1. Google bites the bullet and pays up for visual voicemail
  2. Inventor says Google settles patent claim

G1 Besieged

Bernhard Frohwitter is another patent troll whose attack on an Android-based phone we mentioned briefly a couple of days ago. Here is another report on the same subject:

According to the dirctor of IPCom GmbH, Bernhard Frohwitter, if IPCom can’t attain an agreement with HTC then HTC may well be force to stop selling UNTS mobile phones in Germany, and that will include the Google Android T-Mobile G1, and the soon to be released HTC Magic.

Additional coverage in:

Shades of GIMP

A couple of times in the past we wrote about the GIMP losing a great plug-in due to patents and — specifically — intimidation from a patent holder who was prepared to take legal action. This is quite a rare event when it comes to Free software and it’s happening right now to this Blackberry program. Watch what it says at the top of the homepage:

If you have purchased this program, I will refund your money. It seems that there is a patent on a program that does this already made by Cequint. and they want me to stop selling this program.

Can the USPTO smell the scent on innovation in the air?

Might Be Getting Worse

Things will not improve based on this short report about judgments in East Texas.

Earlier this year, we noted that the judges in East Texas were actually transferring some patent lawsuits out of the court, following a ruling from a year ago at the appeals court level (CAFC) telling the district courts to move cases to where they were more “convenient.” For a few months, however, various patent attorneys have been saying to keep watching, and that the folks in East Texas, who know they have a good thing going, will come up with ways to keep more cases in their favorite courthouse. And… that appears to be happening. In a few recent rulings in Marshall, Texas, Judge Ward has denied attempts to move the cases to more convenient locations, sometimes challenging the question of whether or not they really were more convenient — but the reasoning doesn’t pass the sniff test.

This seems like a patent crisis. Sooner or later, however, this bubble — just like other analogous bubbles — might suddenly burst.

Patent Legislation News in Brief

Posted in Europe, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 10:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: If a patent reform resolves nothing, is it time to just scrap the whole patent system?

FACING the immortal question, ““should software be patented, or free to the public?” answers depend on one’s interests and means of leveraging the law. Microsoft, for example, used to dislike patents when it was small but loved them when it became a monopoliser. The company is still pushing for back door to software patents in Europe, as promoted by Microsoft-hired lobbyists.

Digital Majority has netted new evidence of the push for the Community patent, which is an 'harmonisation'-like back door to ills such as software patents. They are trying similar tricks right here in Pariliament and Heise discusses the ‘dispute’ over software patents in Europe and in the US.

Over the next few months, significant decisions will be made, both in the US and in Europe, concerning the patentability of software and of business practices, decisions which are already casting shadows. Concluding at the end of April, the Enlarged Board of Appeal at the European Patent Office (EPA) is conducting a consultation about the patentability of computer programs. The board hopes that the consultation will help with the processing of the referral by EPA President Alison Brimelow to clarify open questions concerning the controversial interpretations of the European Patent Convention (EPC). The questions refer to Article 52, which states that “programs for computers as such” are not to be regarded as inventions and are therefore excluded from patentability.

Hearings about the phony patent 'reform' bill (which is a farce) are being scheduled and Wired Magazine writes about the role of large companies, which seem to be gaining the most here (very much as expected in a corporocracy).

High tech and pharmaceutical companies have expressed unusual agreement on a patent reform bill, including on the most contentious issue: how to determine damages for infringement.

A patent revamp passed the U.S. House of Representatives last year but failed in the Senate largely because the tech and drug industries could not agree on whether damages for infringement should be reduced. Current law calls for damages to be the entire market value of the product, tripled in the case of willful infringement.

There appeared to be some agreement on Tuesday that the judge in a patent infringement trial should act as a gatekeeper, instructing juries on what factors to consider in determining damages.

Washington University researchers are meanwhile warning about this system as a whole. They pretty much call for the abolishment of the patent system based on economical grounds.

Patent and copyright law are stifling innovation and threatening the global economy according to two economists at Washington University in St. Louis in a new book, Against Intellectual Monopoly. Professors Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine call for abolishing the current patent and copyright system in order to unleash innovations necessary to reverse the current recession and rescue the economy. The professors discuss their stand against intellectual property protections in a video and news release linked here.

Two more Nobel Laureates have recently advised similarly [1, 2], based on the same rationale.

A renowned columnist, Thomas Friedman, has made interesting suggestions. See the new essay “Change or Die”:

If this perception is true and well-founded, then there should be no doubt that the patent system will have to follow somehow in due time.

The patent system to will need to change or face revolt that will weaken it considerably. Trust in it has already eroded and the same goes for ISO.

“Small Software companies cannot afford to go to court or pay damages. Who is this software patent system for?” —Marco Schulze, Nightlabs Gmbh

Kodak Groks Mono After Large Investment from Bill Gates, Novell Props up Silverlight

Posted in Bill Gates, Finance, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 9:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Monkey's skull
Mono business at Kodak?

Summary: Interesting little moves around ‘Microsoft as a standard’

ONE month ago we saw a bizarre investment in Kodak which came from Bill Gates’ bank account. Prior to the TomTom lawsuit over FAT, said one reader of ours: “this is almost certainly his [Gates’] move to start squeezing some proprietary substitute for JPEG and RAW formats into consumer devices.

“Wait too long on this and all your family photos will need Bill’s permission to be copied, viewed, printed or edited.”“You’ll notice that the solid state storage devices used in the cameras use Bill’s patented, designed to lose data filesystem rather than one that has wear leveling and other advances needed to work reliably on solid state.

“Wait too long on this and all your family photos will need Bill’s permission to be copied, viewed, printed or edited. Even then it will only be available in digital form on Bill’s cruftware.”

The Gates-perceived DRM or HD format come to mind here, but watch this new press release about Kodak and “LINUX”. At the bottom is states that:

LINUX distributions which are fully supported (user interface requires Mono Version 1.26 or higher):
SUSE 10.1+
FEDORA 8+
UBUNTU 6.06+

Why Mono? We’ve learned some more about this in the IRC channel, but here is an interesting message from Jose X, who is no friend of Mono because it's a Microsoft-imposed patent risk.

I went to sourceforge http://sourceforge.net/project/showfiles.php?group _id=254045&package_id=310902&release_id=663754 and downloaded the only version there (1.11). The sourceforge main project page and the inside of the tarball indicate that this is a *Qt* project with *no mono* [educated guess]. The copyrights seem to belong to Eastman Kodak Company. I also found what appeared like a changelog timestamp for Feb 23, 2009.

So this seems like the right project and seems fresh.

Yet the press release states at the bottom that the gui requires mono 1.26 [BTW, I went to see the file out of curiosity to see if it might be worthwhile to consider reimplementing it in something like Qt.]

Did I.. did someone make a mistake?

Is Kodak getting “paid” to advertize mono?

Has Microsoft stooped to this level? They have to pay organizations to pretend they use MSware or “clones”?

In other related news, Novell continues to be used as a promoter of Microsoft’s Silverlight, as seen in this new article.

Silverlight is currently in version 2.0, and Microsoft has recruited help from other companies, notably Novell, which developed a Linux version of the technology called Moonlight.

Novell gives the false illusion that Silverlight is cross platform. It is not. Fortunately, Silverlight is a failed technology after years in the market. Microsoft literally pays some companies just to adopt it and such strategies are hardly sustainable especially because Microsoft is near debt (or already in it [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]).

“There is a substantive effort in open source to bring such an implementation of .Net to market, known as Mono and being driven by Novell, and one of the attributes of the agreement we made with Novell is that the intellectual property associated with that is available to Novell customers.”

Bob Muglia, Microsoft President

Microsoft’s AstroTurfing, Twitter, Waggener Edstrom, and Jonathan Zuck

Posted in Europe, Marketing, Microsoft, Patents at 9:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Counting money
Shilling for Microsoft for mighty bucks

Summary: A quick look at the most recent evidence of Microsoft influencing through paid henchmen (and women)

IN OUR PAST WRITINGS ABOUT Waggener Edstrom we showed that it was nothing but a shameless spinner for Microsoft [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10]. In order to prevent being seen as “biased”, Microsoft passes its AstroTurfing, marketing, journalist-prodding efforts and reckless promotion to peripheral agencies. The company has done this for ages, even when it required some dead bodies to 'write' sympathetic letters to the government.

In our more recent posts where we mention Waggener Edstrom (e.g. [1, 2, 3]) we also show that their activities are ethically corrupt, so in a decent society there would be a ban. Exhibits from Comes vs. Microsoft show that Waggener Edstrom has been there for Microsoft since the company’s early days when criminal activity was more transparent and quite routine.

Yesterday, in a post about Microsoft Portugal, we showed what seemed like 'TwitterTurfing' from Microsoft. It was also yesterday that Mary Jo Foley reported on the activities of Waggener Edstrom inside Twitter. Have a look.

A growing number of Softies are Twittering these days, as are members of Microsoft’s primary public-relations firm, Waggener Edstrom.

Like many tech PR firms, WaggEd also monitors religiously Twitter trends involving its biggest client. On March 11, WaggEd went beyond simply monitoring tweets: It introduced a beta version of a software tool for monitoring and analyzing them.

In related news, Matt Asay has just caught up with the news about another AstroTurf vector, Association for Competitive Technology [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], subverting a European panel about free/open source software.

One such editor is Jonathan Zuck, president of the Association for Competitive Technology, a lobbying organization with strong ties to Microsoft. There is nothing wrong with Microsoft making its voice heard in the software strategy development process, as it stands to gain or lose much in the process, but it does make for some interesting political gamesmanship in the document.

While the draft doesn’t make it obvious who is saying what, there are numerous instances where editors have tried to soften the appeal of open source or downplay its significance, repeatedly trying to insist that open source not be called out as more significant than proprietary software.

Association for Competitive Technology (ACT) has former or similar identities such as ATL. Another similar pressure group of Microsoft, namely CompTIA [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], is intervening with debates on patents right now, including software patents. Digital Majority has some transcripts.

It is obvious that the astronomical cost of litigation is disastrous for many small U.S. businesses, and it requires settlement by the accused infringer. The frequent litigation surround the “patent thicket” can chill economic investment (e.g., venture capital and other R&D spending) and destroy a start-up‟s attempt to enter the market and create jobs. We invite your attention to the patent litigation statistics published by many sources, including the Administrative Office of the United States Courts.

To a company like Microsoft and those whom it pays, eternal vigilance and eternal interference is the price of an abusive dictatorship.

This is something to think about whenever asked why Free software proponents are supposedly ‘obsessed’ with Microsoft.

Microsoft et al deserve such treatment because no other company (or ecosystem) is fighting against digital freedom quite so viciously. Their best achievement would be to convince people to stop watching every move, thus leaving villains more wiggling room.

Related:

Department of Homeland Security ‘Poisoned’ by Microsoft; Vista 7 is Open to Hijackers Again

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Red Hat, Security, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 8:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Radar

Summary: Microsoft employee put inside the Department of Homeland Security; more flaws in BetaVista 7 are found (another one last year)

AS WAS SHOWN before, agenda can change radically when an alternation in leadership comes into play, particularly when there is influence from prior employers like Microsoft.

Security insanity [1, 2] is not foreign to this company from Redmond, which had its software put in critical systems despite the fact that militaries too had become victims of Windows [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

One of the major clients of Red Hat1 — apart from Wall Street — is the US Department of Defence. It’s therefore rather disturbing to see that the company where “products just aren’t engineered for security” has one of its people — ironically enough — become a security chief at a national level.

The Department of Homeland Security today appointed a senior Microsoft Corp. executive to head a section charged with protecting the federal government’s computer networks from cyber attacks.

Phil Reitinger, currently “chief trustworthy infrastructure strategist” at Microsoft, will become deputy undersecretary of DHS’s National Protections Program division.

What will this mean for procurement? We already know how far Microsoft goes to defend or to warp the perception of Windows security.

In reality, as it turned out in yesterday’s news, not even a version of Windows with near-zero market share can be secured (thus farewell to the mythology of security due only to scarcity). BetaVista 7 has already critical flaws.

Microsoft Corp. patched the first critical vulnerability in Windows 7 Tuesday as it rolled out an update that fixes three flaws in the new operating system’s kernel.

The writer is probably not correct. Maybe it was prior to the beta and maybe it was not, but Vista 7 suffered from "critical" flaws before.

It’s just like Vista all over again.
____
1 Or GNU/Linux in general, although Red Hat is almost a de facto standard in this area.

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: March 11th, 2009 – Part 3

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Enter the IRC channel now

To use your own IRC client, join channel #boycottnovell in FreeNode.

Read the rest of this entry »

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