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Microsoft’s Twitter AstroTurf Continues

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Marketing, Microsoft, Vista 7 at 8:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Vulture wings
Microsoft vultures in Twitterland

Summary: Past and present Microsoft employees spread the Microsoft love (and Linux hate) at Twitter while Microsoft-hired agencies are watching from above

Microsoft’s well-known mouthpiece and former employee Michael Gartenberg is rearing his ugly head again. He is confronting/challenging people who promote GNU/Linux-powered sub-notebooks over at Twitter. Here is the new proof:

Last week we heard about the first Android-powered Netbook (which I wrote about in First Android Netbook Nothing to Write Home About). Then on Friday, analyst Michael Gartenberg, who is VP of Strategy at Interpret, and who writes frequently about consumer technology sent the following Tweet:

Is Android’s future in Netbooks? NO! of course not.

I tweeted back:

@Gartenberg Not exclusively, but I could see Android being a viable Netbook OS.

And Gartenberg replied:

@ron_miller hard to see it. not the right apps and no better than Linux. Linux Netbook return rate is huge.

Michael Gartenberg seems to be working under a new umbrella now, having worked for Microsoft (as an evil evangelist) and other places where he boosted Microsoft’s position. We have seen him shuffling several hats, but some editors seem not to know that he is one of Microsoft’s more familiar shills who publish anti-GNU/Linux articles and in his case even claimed Zune to be a success back in the days. The guy even worked directly for Microsoft (inside Microsoft) at one point, so it’s obvious how incestuous this relationship is.

We already know for a fact that Waggener Edstrom is eavesdropping on Twitter users on behalf of Microsoft and Microsoft also pays Federated Media to keep Twitter in check and get involved [1, 2]. Our reader Goblin may have caught some Microsoft AstroTurfing on Twitter, in addition to employees we know about. Here is another one:

As regulars here are aware, in between commenting on tech issues, I do like to challenge comments which I think need clarity at the very least. Heres Flanakin hes a senior development consultant for Microsoft and would like to tell you a few things about Windows 7:

“wow… the polish on Win7 RC is absolutely beautiful… some small things are astoundingly better than the beta”

“repaving my oldest machine with Win7 RC”

and whats the spec of this old PC? Two months old is it?


So I decided to give Flanakin Microwalker’s site a visit. http://michaelflanakin.com/ heres a snippet of what he has to say there:

“I’m an open source advocate, when it makes sense, and have a strong software engineering and architecture background.”

“Open source advocate,” eh? Anything like this type of creature? As a side note, if anyone is interested, I have an account on Identi.ca and also on Twitter.

In other news, Goblin also said goodbye to Joe Wilcox, who is leaving Microsoft Watch unmanned.

This is one of the posts Ive written on OpenBytes where Im genuinely saddened. Today (highlighted by Roy from Boycott Novell) marked the end of Joe Wilcox on Eweek.

This is part of a series of departing Microsoft watchers, including Todd Bishop who defected from the Seattle P-I to a startup called TechFlash. He gives a list of some other departures that we've kept track of.

Thursday, Joe Wilcox announced his departure from Microsoft Watch, which he took over in 2006 following Mary Jo Foley’s departure. He doesn’t go into detail but writes that he’s joining “the swelling ranks of journalists smitten by the economic crisis and by changes the Internet is forcing on my profession.” I’ll miss Joe’s reporting on the site, and it will be interesting to see what eWeek does with it.

Another recently departed Microsoft beat reporter is Ben Romano, who left the Seattle Times to become U.S. correspondent for Recharge, a trade journal covering renewable energy. He has been replaced by Sharon Chan, a veteran of the Seattle newspaper.

It remains to be seen if Microsoft announces more layoffs tomorrow. To enhance the spin factor, Microsoft will keep twitting away.

“Mind Control: To control mental output you have to control mental input. Take control of the channels by which developers receive information, then they can only think about the things you tell them. Thus, you control mindshare!”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Microsoft’s ODF ‘Support’ is a Scam

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 7:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Just a PR campaign

OOXML data vacuum

Summary: ODF support in Microsoft Office 2007 SP2 is a fail, fail, fail, and fail

Microsoft’s so-called ‘support’ for ODF is worse than no support at all. Why, who didn’t see that coming? The seminal analysis which is very comprehensive comes from an IBM employee, Rob Weir. Among the many things that he wrote:

We’ll probably also hear that 100% compatibility with legacy documents is critical to Microsoft users and that it is dangerous to try to save Excel formulas into interoperable ODF formulas because there is no guarantees that OpenOffice or any other ODF application will interpret them the same as Excel does. So one might try to claim that Microsoft is protecting their customers by preventing them from saving interoperable spreadsheet formulas. But we should note that fully-licensed Microsoft Office users have already been creating legacy documents in ODF format, using the Microsoft/CleverAge ODF Add-in. These paying Microsoft Office customers will now see their existing investment in ODF documents, created using Microsoft-sanctioned code, get corrupted when loaded in Excel 2007 SP2. Why are paying Microsoft customers who used ODF less important than Microsoft customers who used OOXML? That is the shocking thing here, the way in which users of the ODF Add-in are being sacrificed.

Groklaw too has made some fine arguments throughout the day (article and comments), so we won’t be repeating them. Here is just a portion:

I tried the updated Microsoft Office 2007 SP2, which supports ODF, or says it does. I created a document in Office 2007 SP2 and saved it as ODF. I got an ominous Microsoft warning that if I persisted, I might lose some formatting — “Document [name] may contain features that are not compatible with this format. Do you want to continue to save in this format?” — but it saved the document when I clicked Yes. I reasoned that OpenOffice, which I intended to use to test the result, does have the features I wanted. I had included one footnote, a photo, and a text block, all of which OpenOffice can do, but when I opened the saved document in OpenOffice, none of it looked right. You couldn’t read the footnote at all, because it’s cut horizontally in the middle of the text. You can see it’s there, but you can’t make out the words.

I thought most of the problems, and there were others, might be my fault though, because I’ve never used Office 2007 before, since I don’t own it, and I found it very confusing. Because I don’t own Office 2007, and I had limited access time to test on someone else’s, I looked around to see if anyone else was reporting results in the new SP2. I asked Groklaw members if they had tried it out yet and how it worked for them. A Groklaw member, Dobbo, did a test working on a spreadsheet with a client, and his experience was also a failure.

Regarding this Microsoft ODF “interoperability”, says one reader of ours: “[it] shows well how Microsoft sees interoperability. I suppose, with this, they can, in a very narrow and technical sense, claim ODF support. They certainly violate the spirit of ODF by not interoperating with other prominent implementations like OpenOffice.

“…Microsoft will make a lot of noise to pretend that it supports ODF and only give it a very bad name and discourage its use…”As we’ve warned right from the beginning, Microsoft will make a lot of noise to pretend that it supports ODF and only give it a very bad name and discourage its use while giving CIOs reasons never to dump Microsoft Office for lack of ODF support (no matter the level of support). Microsoft is doing it all in a hurry to just drop an “ODF” label on the box and then use the likes of Waggener Edstrom to make loads of noise (like never seen before) and associate Microsoft’s Office with ODF ‘support’.

If this rush job sounds like a familiar trick, it ought to. Rather than support ODF right from the start Microsoft hurried up with its phony format and shoved it down ISO’s throat using plenty of corruption. Alan Lord has just explained this pretty wellin his Web site:

Microsoft implemented OOXML (their XML based file format which is essentially a binary dump of the memory footprint of your document wrapped in an amazingly obscure and illegible XML schema) in Office 2007. You may have even received the odd file with a .docx or .xlsx extension. Then some kind of panic happened in MS and they decided that because Governments and other public bodies were asking for ODF (ISO/IEC 26300 Open Document Format supported by many applications including OpenOffice.org) they’d better get OOXML standardised too. So in a rush job, Microsoft’s specification publicist ECMA took the format used on Office 2007, got the developer documentation and wrote a bit more stuff around it and published it as ECMA 376. It then got submitted to the ISO for “fast tracking”.

As Tony Manco stated earlier, Microsoft now “wants to try and shape ODF, the same thing they tried to do with the Internet.”

Another anonymous reader described (hypothetically) what Microsoft will say next:

“Hey! Look! We support ODF too (kind of), so you can keep buying MS Office!”


‘Of course. “See. ODF is broken, so use OOXML instead.”‘

Microsoft has already said that ODF files are "corrupt".

The anonymous reader adds: “The question is, are they doing this in a way that leaves them open for another EU investigation?

Truth be told, Microsoft’s pseudo ODF ‘support’ is placeholder to prevent defections away from Microsoft Office, so it is even worse than not supporting ODF at all. It creates an illusion and harms the reputation of ODF. It also stifles interoperability.

Microsoft’s stunt may be intended to drive people to OOXML and make ODF interoperability look poor. What is OOXML for anyway? Here is one good answer to this question:

If, they follow that statement through, it means OOXML will only work for compatibility with previous versions of office documents and this stops at MSOfiice 2007.

Of course it is easy to rewrite the charter, as it is only words. However, a charter sets the guideline and scope for one’s work, in agreement with a third party. That is why people do not like to alter the charter. Think about a charter like the consitution for the group, it can be amended if there is consensus, but should not be attempted with great caution, i.e., much greater care than amending a rule.

Microsoft’s business model is based strongly on making other people’s software unable to interact with Microsoft’s. Why would Microsoft change its ways now that it faces a crisis and may announce more layoffs tomorrow?

“In one piece of mail people were suggesting that Office had to work equally well with all browsers and that we shouldn’t force Office users to use our browser. This Is wrong and I wanted to correct this.”

Bill Gates [PDF]

OOXML patent issue prompt

NSW (Australia) Didn’t Choose Free Software Because It Doesn’t Run Non-Free Software???

Posted in Australia, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Vista 7, Windows at 6:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Lame excuse for rejection of GNU/Linux for schools (it does not run Photoshop)

SOME WEEKS ago we sought answers for the NSW blunder down under. Why did they reject GNU/Linux after years of praising the platform? Well, the following new article provides one possible explanation from those in charge:

Another major issue was Linux’s ability to run Adobe software, which NSW secondary students will have access to thanks to a $20 million deal as part of the computers program.

“Adobe doesn’t run well on Linux,” Mr Wilson said.

Wine compatibility aside, that’s like saying teachers will not prevent children from purchasing tobacco because this may prevent them from realising the thrills of alcohol. The solution is to cut both products until those affected grow up and can make their own informed decisions rather than have things imposed on them. It is unethical to force students to become customers of whoever the authorities collude with. Adobe’s addiction/extortion racket makes it even more tasteless.

So what else can be said?

NSW chose an operating system from 2001, despite the many known deficiencies, some of which are critical.

For those who believe that Vista 7 will be all fine and dandy, here are a couple of brand-new essays which are worth reading:

i. Windows 7 on an entry level netbook: first look

I loaded PassMark’s PerformanceTest 7.0 benchmarking software which evaluated the Acer Aspire One, under Windows 7.0, at 204.2. As with the Windows rating, the hard drive was the star performer and the video card was the weak spot, rendering complex 3D graphics at an uninspiring 2.3 frames per second.

ii. New threat to Windows 7?

We’ve had the issue of the “starter” 3 app version of Windows 7. We’ve had allegations of Win 7 being a spruced up Vista (or lipstick on a pig) We’ve had the EU getting involved in the distribution of IE within the Windows platform, but more than that, we’ve had many users/Enterprise not wanting to move from XP. (We dont need to mention Vista again here that, IMO is best forgotten)

Vista was all lipstick, so its successor, Vista 7, may as well be a swine on a lipstick.

Swine on lipstick
Morbidly obese swine on a lipstick needs to go on a diet

“My initial evaluation of Windows 7 shows that it’s really just Vista with a fresh coat of paint.”

Randall Kennedy

Red Hat: We Should Probably Look at Switching out Tomboy with Gnote in the Fedora 12 Panel Configuration

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, Mono, Novell, Red Hat at 6:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Red hat

Summary: Fedora might get rid of Tomboy and have Gnote replace it

TONY MANCO has just found this interesting part of an ongoing thread in the Fedora Desktop mailing list, where a Red Hat employee says:

We should probably look at switching out tomboy with gnote in the f12 panel configuration. Not sure what to do about upgrades, though. Obsoleting tomboy wouldn’t be right…

Fedora has already removed Tomboy from the Cambridge Live CD, so Gnote would be a good fit. Gnote is already entering Fedora, but it will be more interesting to see if it totally displaces Tomboy (and dethrones Mono) in the process.

“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

Links 04/05/2009: Mandriva Rave, Eucalyptus Funded

Posted in News Roundup at 5:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Who’s Running Dell?

    Mark Van Kingsley is a successful Linux-based business owner in New York. Fact is, Mark started his business based on my Open Sourced business plan. I put months of research and work into it and it is the perfect example of how a business plan should be structured. Mark was even offered loans to start his business based on his revised business plan. Anyone can receive it simply by asking. But I digress…

    He decided it was time to get a new desktop. Knowing that Dell had Linux options, he navigated to their website and began his shopping. No one relates an experience better than the person experiencing it, so let me present it straight from the source. What follows is a verbatim account of his experience with Dell Sales on the telephone.

  • KELLNER: Competitors soften Microsoft’s roar

    The netbook phenomenon is interesting: The tiny portable computers, with screens as small as 8 inches, run either a low-cost version of Microsoft’s Windows XP operating system (lower in licensing price than any of the Windows Vista configurations) or some flavor of the open-source Linux operating system, which is either free or much, much cheaper than even Windows XP. Either way, a lower-cost or no-cost operating system on a netbook siphons money from Microsoft’s revenue stream.

  • KELLNER: Linux alternatives to Windows, Mac

    Shannon VanWagner, a computer systems administrator in Seattle, got the ball rolling because he believes the open-source Linux operating system is our computing salvation. It’s free for individuals, more or less; enterprises will want to license a given Linux distribution, or version, in order to get technical support. Because it is open, Linux can be enhanced and refined by any number of programmers, who, in turn, share their work with others.

    And there are plenty of applications for Linux, some of which I mentioned last week, such as OpenOffice.org’s productivity suite. There’s GIMP, or the GNU Image Manipulation Program, which is a free competitor to Adobe’s Photoshop. If you need Web browsing and e-mail, Mozilla.org offer versions of the Firefox browser and Thunderbird e-mail client; other browsers and e-mail programs abound.

    Indeed, Mr. VanWagner, whose Humans Enabled blog (www.humans-enabled.com) is high-octane evangelism for Linux, has links that’ll help you find dozens of alternatives to Windows and/or Mac applications, just about all of them free for the downloading.

  • IBM Pays Customers To Ditch Sun Servers

    IBM claims its Power System servers are two to four times more efficient than Sparc systems in terms of speed and energy use. Power servers use the AIX, Linux, and i operating systems.

  • Wrong way to go about solving the problem.

    Windows will never be secure.

    What’s particularly dumb about this is that the NSA has already bee involved in the development of SELinux, the kernel of which is now part of most Linux distributions. It’s already been rated at a higher level in their “Trusted Computer Systems Evaluation Criteria” (the “orange book”) than any version of Windows has.

    Frankly, I don’t get what the justification for trying to get a secure version of Windows is. They should just dump it and use one of the SELinux-based systems.

  • HP ProBook 4710s Video Hands On

    It’s clear that HP is attempting to target small and medium businesses that need to purchase new notebooks but can’t afford the $1,500+ expense of the HP EliteBooks. HP offers the ProBook 4710s with Windows Vista, Windows XP, SuSE Linux, FreeDOS, or Red Flag Linux so IT managers can pick the OS that makes life the easiest. Likewise, optional HP Care Pack Services offer extended service contracts which go beyond the standard one-year warranties for the notebook and battery.

  • Blackmagic announces Linux support for DeckLink

    Blackmagic Design Inc. has announced Linux support for DeckLink, Intensity and Multibridge products.

    Linux support now means any DeckLink, Intensity and Multibridge product from Blackmagic Design can be plugged into computers running Mac OS X, Windows and Linux, and moved between platforms as customers choose.

  • Deja Vu All Over Again

    In the spring of 2009, at a Linux gathering in Northwest USA, a man stood before a large group of Linux Developers and said the same things. I am no smarter than this man, he’s forgotten more about GNU/Linux than I will ever remember. I simply gave it some thought before he did.

  • Kernel Space

    • Kernel log: X.org 7.5 coming in summer, re-write for Intel’s graphics driver

      X.org 7.5 is scheduled to appear in summer, and could include a new Intel graphics driver. The developers have slashed its code to boost reliability and performance. The kernel developers have now presented versions 2.6.30-rc4 and of Linux, and are released and guest mascot Tuz bows out.

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • Etch for Old Hardware

      The pool of usable Linux distros for older hardware is shrinking. For at least the rest of this year, it appears you can still install Etch and make it work well. Everyone has their own ideals, and I’m quite sure you can find fault with mine. Still, I’m going to outline what I’ve done, and perhaps you’ll find something useful.

    • Mandriva

      • Mandriva 2009.1 “Spring” is Stunning

        So there you have it, Mandriva 2009.1 is an amazing release. It has everything that Kubuntu lacks in a KDE distro. Kubuntu has always been my favorite distribution, yet a release as good as this one may convince me to make the switch. To put it more simply, Mandriva 2009.1 is probably the best KDE-based distribution I have seen so far this year, and it’s everything that Kubuntu should have been. I definitely recommend anyone reading this to give Mandriva a shot. Hopefully you’ll find it as wonderful as I do.

      • Thoughts about Linux marketing #3 : Mandriva and its R D projects PR

        Nothing on Planet Mandriva, or in english linux news site like Linux Today, Linux.com, OSNews or LWN.net. If you want to see the different R&D Mandriva projects, have a look at Mandriva R&D page.

      • Mandriva Cooker (2010.0) opened

        Since Friday the cooker repositories, which will lead to Mandriva 2010.0 in 6 months, are open again. In only 3 days about 400 new package releases were made, mostly new upstream versions which came out during the last month while the cooker repository was frozen.

      • A Taste of Spring: The Mandriva One 2009.1 Experience
    • Ubuntu

      • 20 Ubuntu Derivatives You Should Know About

        Whether you like Ubuntu or not, it is here to stay. Ubuntu has contributed a lot to the Linux community in sparking interest in new Linux users and opening the doors to “ease-of-use” Linux. Their Influence has spread throughout the Linux community sparking new distributions.

      • Minimal Xubuntu 9.04

        Last week we took a look at how two distributions can be so very different even though they are based on the same technology (and even the same distribution). What we found was that the Ubuntu variant, Xubuntu, which comes with the Xfce desktop, used more than twice the amount of memory over Debian’s implementation of the same desktop.

      • Installing Ubuntu Netbook Remix from a USB stick

        Most netbooks do not ship with an optical drive. Here is how you can make your own bootable USB memory stick with Ubuntu Netbook Remix – the special netbook-optimised version of Canonical’s Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope and try out the newest and hottest operating system available today.

      • Out and about with the Acer Aspire One and Ubuntu 9.04

        One of the funny things about the AA1 (and probably most netbooks right now) is how often when I am using it out and about at someplace like Starbucks or Taco Bell that people stop and ask me questions about it.

        * How well does it work?
        * Which one do you have?
        * Did you look at any others?
        * Are you glad you got it?
        * Was it worth the price
        * How well does Linux work on it?
        * Can you really use Linux to replace Windows?

      • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 140

        Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue #140 for the week April 26th – May 2nd, 2009. In this issue we cover: Karmic Open for Development, Notify OSD to be discussed at Ubuntu UDS Karmic, Ubuntu Open Week Summary, New Ubuntu Member, Ubuntu Hug Day: May 7th, LoCo News: Jaunty Release Parties, Launchpad 2.2.4, Launchpad’s web service code released as stand alone libraries, New prefixes in the help sub-forums, Hiding post (bean) counts, Announcing the Ubuntu High Availability Team, Ubuntu Brains, Ubuntu 9.04 does not use ext4 by default, Ubuntu-UK podcast: Partners in Crime, Canonical engaging Ubuntu Software Partners, Team Meeting Summaries for April 2009, and much, much more!

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Connecting Linux to a Bubba 2

      The Bubba 2 isn’t limited to only music streaming. You can share out printers and email as well. But when you’re having to connect from a Linux box, you might have to go through a few more steps than you would with either Windows or Mac. Even with these extra steps, it’s worth it. The Bubba 2 is an outstanding piece of hardware that makes sharing to small networks a snap.

    • Tutorial tackles ARM-based web kiosk

      Part Four of Simtec’s series on embedded Linux system development covers the construction of an ARM-based web kiosk system. Written by Vincent Sanders (pictured) and Daniel Silverstone, both from UK-based Simtec Electronics, the tutorial explores power management and other issues involved with deploying an ARM9-based kiosk.

    • Nano board targets home media servers

      Via Technologies has announced a Mini-ITX motherboard intended to find a place in home media servers. The VB8002 runs Linux on a 1.6GHz Nano processor, and offers DVI and S-Video connectors, S/PDIF output, and RCA jacks for connection to external A/V equipment, the company says.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • May Day (My First Day with Linux)

        It’s an odd coincidence that I chose to make free open-source software my primary notebook OS on International Worker’s Day, but that’s how it went down when I migrated my calendar, contracts and email to Easy Peasy 1.1 on my new Asus Eee PC yesterday..

Free Software/Open Source

  • SA IT agency and Fossfa join forces to spread OSS

    Mashao says the partnership with FOSSFA will assist SITA and the South African government in its drive to open source software.

  • Eucalyptus

    • Open source cloud platform is commercialized by its creators

      The creators of Eucalyptus, an open source platform for building private clouds, have launched a company to sell products based on the software and have landed $5.5 million in first-round funding.

      Eucalyptus Systems promises to sell enterprise-grade products based on Eucalyptus, which is designed to aggregate servers, storage and network infrastructure into a “cloud” that allows end-user customization and self-service provisioning. Eucalyptus supports the same APIs as public clouds, and is compatible with Amazon’s Web Services infrastructure, letting users deploy hybrid clouds consisting of internal and external resources.

    • Eucalyptus cloud targets enterprise users

      The makers of Eucalyptus, the Linux-based open source cloud computing platform that now ships with Ubuntu, are targeting enterprise cloud computing with the launch of Eucalyptus Systems Inc.

      With $5.5 million in financing led by Benchmark Capital, the private company will develop enterprise-grade products and services built on the freeware platform, starting with consulting and support.

  • Business

    • Open-source companies log impressive growth

      Even as the global economy tanks, open-source companies continue to soar. A range of open-source companies reported sales and community growth this past week, including:

      * Funambol: As announced on its Web site, Funambol’s mobile open-source community has grown 2,000 percent, downloads are up 34 percent, and the number of active Funambol servers is up 42 percent in the past three months alone.
      * Actuate: While business intelligence vendor Actuate’s overall license revenues grew 15 percent last quarter, its BIRT (i.e., open source) revenue grew 32 percent.

  • Government

    • Govt regulations threaten innovation, free software, say opponents

      Keats and the African Commons project are not alone in their concerns over the IP regulations. Eve Gray, honorary research associate in the Centre for Educational Technology at the University of Cape Town writes on her blog that “the Regulations (that are) designed to enforce – and ‘force’ is an appropriate word here – are some 30 years out of date and completely out of tune with the way research is being conducted in the world’s leading universities in the 21st century, with high levels of collaboration.”

      Similarly, Andrew Rens, legal lead of Creative Commons, South Africa and Fellow at the Shuttleworth Foundation, says that the regulations are “unworkable” and “unconstitutional”.


  • Transparency means nothing without justice

    We cyber-liberties types are very big on government transparency – on the right to carry our cameras into every altercation with authority and to put it all online. We make the problems visible, hoping that this will solve them. Little brother watches back!

  • Looking to Big-Screen E-Readers to Help Save the Daily Press

    But it is Amazon, maker of the Kindle, that appears to be first in line to try throwing an electronic life preserver to old-media companies. As early as this week, according to people briefed on the online retailer’s plans, Amazon will introduce a larger version of its Kindle wireless device tailored for displaying newspapers, magazines and perhaps textbooks.

  • Censorship/Web Abuse

    • Surveillance fears for the UK

      Computer security veteran Phil Zimmerman warns about the seductive nature of technology.

      The UK is risking sliding unwittingly into a police state because of the growing use of surveillance technology, says security guru Phil Zimmerman.

    • Agency denies internet spy plans

      The UK’s electronic intelligence agency has taken the unusual step of issuing a statement to deny it will track all UK internet and online phone use.

  • Copyrights

    • The Fear of Knowledge

      Copyright infringement should not be based on fear. Fear is a very powerful tool that is all to often exploited by governments and those in power to get the information they want stuffed into people’s minds. Where do you think Mrs. Smith learned this information? Was it a credible source? Chances are it was, which brings up the question of who you can really trust. If people stopped blindly trusting the government, what would happen to fear as a propaganda technique? When discussing copyright, it is best to decide where your ethics are. “Should I share an ogg (or mp3) of this out of print CD with my friend?” “Should I consider a small violation of the DMCA a crime if I will only be using the content for what used to be called ‘fair use’?” “Should I cite this public domain resource?” “Should I tell my friends about this artist and give them this audio file to get them interested?” “Should I download this BBC documentary I found on BitTorrent so I can learn about Elephant migration patterns for my report on African mammals?” There are so many possibilities. The government has drawn an unreasonably inhibitory line in the dirt, and used fear to enforce it. As a result, the only way to figure out what is right or wrong is to make the ethical decision yourself.

    • The Absurdity of the USTR’s Blame Canada Approach

      The IIPA, the lead U.S. lobbyist on international IP matters, has issued a press release on the USTR Special 301 report, welcoming the inclusion of Canada on the Priority Watch List.

    • RIAA Site Features TorrentFreak’s Latest News

      Just a couple of days ago we reported that the MPAA’s website was vulnerable to an XSS attack, which left it displaying torrents from The Pirate Bay. This time a flaw has been discovered in the RIAA’s site, which now allows it to display TorrentFreak’s latest articles.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Steve Weber, creator of the phrase “anti-rival goods” 01 (2005)

Ogg Theora

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

Is Microsoft About to Announce More Layoffs?

Posted in Microsoft, Rumour at 11:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Boats - lean on me

Summary: Rumours from a reliable source suggest the analysts were right and additional layoffs come tomorrow

LAST MONTH we wrote about seemingly reliable claims that Microsoft was looking into further layoffs [1, 2]. The abysmal results which came soon afterwards (earnings down 32%) justified this and the Web is now abuzz over the Microsoft-bred message which says: “Rumors of more Microsoft layoffs being announced on May 5th. Lots of panic in the employee base.

That’s tomorrow. Todd Bishop has some more details.

We received a tip last week, from a usually reliable person, that Microsoft would be making more job cuts this week. The company so far isn’t commenting, and we haven’t been able to get confirmation elsewhere. But independent of our inquiries, the online buzz increased over the weekend to the point that Microsoft employees will no doubt be a little nervous when they check their email tomorrow morning.

We’ll keep readers updated as more information unfolds, if any.

Did Microsoft Hire Consumer Watchdog to Attack Google?

Posted in Google, Marketing, Microsoft at 8:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

French bulldog
Rent a bulldog

Summary: A look beneath the surface reveals that ConsumerWatchdog.org is “the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights”, which is affiliated with/derived from Grassroots Enterprise, a Washington/SF-based AstroTurfer for hire

FOR A verifiable fact, Microsoft is the biggest lobbying monster in its area. Someone has just informed us that ConsumerWatchdog.org is apparently a lobby used by Microsoft (mostly to attack Google), so we decided to investigate this. Having already found some Microsoft-backed anti-Google lobbies in the past [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], we took a look at this latest company’s background and dug a lot deeper. Let’s see what ConsumerWatchdog.org says about Microsoft and what ConsumerWatchdog.org has to say about Google. What a striking difference.

Looking at ConsumerWatchdog.org using enhanced tools (the likes of them sometimes use services like DomainsByProxy.com), we find the following record:

Domain ID:D863261-LROR
Created On:03-Jun-1997 04:00:00 UTC
Last Updated On:07-Jun-2008 00:26:36 UTC
Expiration Date:02-Jun-2010 04:00:00 UTC
Sponsoring Registrar:GoDaddy.com, Inc. (R91-LROR)
Registrant ID:GODA-044511122
Registrant Name:Doug Heller
Registrant Organization:Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rig
Registrant Street1:1750 Ocean Park Blvd.
Registrant Street2:Ste 200
Registrant Street3:
Registrant City:Santa Monica
Registrant State/Province:California
Registrant Postal Code:90405
Registrant Country:US
Registrant Phone:+1.3103920522
Registrant Phone Ext.:
Registrant FAX:
Registrant FAX Ext.:
Registrant Email:webmaster@consumerwatchdog.org
Admin ID:GODA-244511122
Admin Name:Doug Heller
Admin Organization:Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rig
Admin Street1:1750 Ocean Park Blvd.
Admin Street2:Ste 200
Admin Street3:
Admin City:Santa Monica
Admin State/Province:California
Admin Postal Code:90405
Admin Country:US
Admin Phone:+1.3103920522
Admin Phone Ext.:
Admin FAX:
Admin FAX Ext.:
Admin Email:doug@consumerwatchdog.org
Tech ID:GODA-144511122
Tech Name:Domain Direct
Tech Organization:TUCOWS.com Inc.
Tech Street1:96 Mowat Avenue
Tech Street2:
Tech Street3:
Tech City:Toronto
Tech State/Province:Ontario
Tech Postal Code:M6K3M1
Tech Country:CA
Tech Phone:+1.4165350123
Tech Phone Ext.:
Tech FAX:+1.4165315584
Tech FAX Ext.:
Tech Email:dnstech@domaindirect.com

See that last bit? It’s important. Consumerwatchdog.org is linked to Grassroots.com, which is Grassroots Enterprise.

Grassroots Enterprise is not about grassroots. It’s about AstroTurfing. Sourcewatch wrote:

According to the company’s web site, Grassroots Enterprise, Inc., led by its CEO, John Hlinko, “combines online technology and communications strategy to help our clients achieve their public affairs objectives. Our proprietary technology Grassroots Multiplier® uses the Internet to centralize and simplify the recruitment, management, and mobilization of our clients’ supporters – employees, members, customers, vendors and other stakeholders who can grow into a long-term asset to our clients’ business.”

It’s a business. It hires people to do jobs for companies (clients).

According to Wikipedia, “Consumer Watchdog (USA), [is] an organization which advocates for taxpayer and consumer interests in the United States,” but it also states that it is “formerly the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights.” So they change names; that’s what companies and lobbies typically do when they get exposed or absorb a bad reputation. It’s a well known and basic strategy in PR.

Oiaohm found out that the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (aka Consumerwatchdog.org) even has a subsite on Grassroots.com. Why is this not surprising? They probably just try to escape the obvious affiliation which would be damaging to their credibility. Lobbyists tend to have multiple umbrellas, which make them runaway targets. See for example Jonathan Zuck, who seems to have turned ATL into ACT after it had been exposed massively (think about fake letters from dead people).

Going back to Grassroots Enterprise, watch just what they boast about:

Are you ready to get your volunteers and members to mobilize the vote for you in 2008?

With the Grassroots Multiplier℠ PhoneTheVote application, they can actually be mobile as they mobilize. This innovative alternative to traditional phonebanks gives your activists and volunteers the ability to carry a powerful political application right in their pocket!

Grassroots Multiplier℠ PhoneTheVote takes the traditional phone bank into the web 2.0 generation by empowering your stakeholders to log on and make phone calls on your behalf — for get out the vote efforts, fundraising, grassroots mobilization, or just for rapid dissemination of information.

With Grassroots Multiplier℠ PhoneTheVote your volunteer callers can be directed to make calls wherever they are need — by geographic location, demographic, political affiliation, or any number of categories. Your volunteers can also be given dynamically generated “just-in-time” customized phone scripts to maximize their impact. And best of all, the information that the volunteers collect is feed into a central database in real time.

They brag about AstroTurfing patents/trademarks, just like the ones from Waggener Edstrom. How deep can this really go?

Microsoft AstroTurf stories:

Microsoft Fights to Make GNU/Linux a Fringe Phenomenon

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Windows at 4:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Soviet Microsoft

Summary: How Microsoft is trying to marginalise GNU/Linux and the extent to which demoralising lies are used as a tool

AN EFFECTIVE TOTALITARIAN regime operates by identifying sources of existing dissent (or brewing dissent) and then eliminating them. Microsoft works very similarly and its so-called "Linux Heat Map" is indication of this. The company maintains a sort of “battle map” which tells the company where attacks against GNU/Linux ought to be coordinated and which large-scale migrations predatory targeted. We saw a lot of this recently and a notable old example is South Africa.

This is not affecting only GNU/Linux and Free software. Microsoft has been trying to suppress its competition at childhood phases for as long as it has held a dominant market position. We already have a partial list of projects/companies that Microsoft strangled at birth, but the strategy strategy can work against commercial entities with finite resources, not against Free software. It’s proving frustrating to Microsoft.

Undeterred, however, Microsoft is currently using another familiar strategy in Spain (as we last noted yesterday) and Glyn Moody got around to commenting on it:

It’s clearly born of ignorance about what is really being offered – lock-in to Microsoft’s systems – in the naive belief that touch-screens are somehow the future, probably just because the iPhone has one.

It is born of arrogance that the government knows better, and therefore needn’t consult with others that might have a view or – heaven forfend – knowledge on the subject.

And it’s born of sheer stupidity, throwing away the huge lead that Spain had in this area, forcing local governments that had saved money by opting for GNU/Linux to waste money on an unnecessary and doubtless insecure solution from Microsoft, and as a result making the country dependent on a foreign supplier when it could have nurtured its own domestic software industry.

Microsoft is doing the same thing in Russia right now, so Slashdot has this update which says: “No [Fedora-based] Russian Operating System, At Least For Now”

“The project by 27 Russian parties to develop a National Operating System for Russia has not taken off, yet (Russian). Ilya Ponomarev, the responsible technology committee chair in the Duma, received a negative response from the government. The government argues that the project and Open Standards would not impact the society and economy. Parliament members regret the setback for Russia’s digital independence. Ponomarev wants to find other interested partners in the Government now.”

This says nothing about what Microsoft has just done, despite the fact that the cited article has a photo of Steve Ballmer. According to Microsoft’s “Linux Heat Map”, Russia is one of the leading countries in terms of GNU/Linux uptake. Needless to say, so-called Web statistics from Microsoft-sponsored entities are hiding all this by measuring adoption of GNU/Linux using hostile methods or biased populations (data sets). We wrote about the "1% market share" lie just a couple of days ago and we urge people never to propagate this lie or else it would become complacently true in the minds of many people, ISVs included. Here is an interesting new press release (also found here):

The percentage of Linux users among the MEDUSA4 Personal audience varies significantly from country to country, and totals approximately 35%. While in Germany, the top download location, about 13% of users work with Linux, in Italy, the second largest download group, Linux users outnumber Windows users by nearly three to one.

This shows that populations play a huge role.

In the first three days of May we received over 96,000 pageviews (excluding bots, by AWStats’ definition). This includes a Friday, a Saturday, and a Sunday, which means it’s mostly weekend traffic.

Among those requests, 50.4% came from “Linux”, 38.7% came from “Windows”, 5% came from “Macintosh” and some of the rest could not be parsed properly although search engines or other familiar bots are not being counted by AWStats.

“There’s a lot of Linux out there — much more than Microsoft generally signals publicly — and their customers are using it…”

Paul DeGroot, a Directions On Microsoft analyst

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