IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: August 19th, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


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Links 19/08/2009: Linux Report is Out, Wikia Up Sharply

Posted in News Roundup at 6:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • FotoInsight’s New Photo Paper Book Makes Book Bulge Disappear

    Europe’s most popular photo book software is now also available for Linux and Mac OS.

  • There is Hope

    I got out the laptop, booted up, the normal startup drum-beat played… and their son, who is certainly not more than 10 years old, glanced over and casually said “Oh, you have Ubuntu?”.

    There is hope. Somewhere along the line, that wonderful boy has not been blindly indoctrinated to the Microsoft juggernaut. Hallelujah!

  • Desktop

    • Let Their Eyes Be Opened…

      A place powered by Linux.

      There’s not a lot to tell about the process…a lot of heavy labor, younger knees than mine crawling under tables to connect cat 5 to the adjoining sockets…testing, adjusting, testing, replacing, testing…and ultimately…


    • Beware the Experts

      The Linux kernel and GNU utilities make a fantastic base to several distributions which serve many different purposes, desktops, servers, appliances, netbooks, firewalls, and several specialized tools for dedicated roles such as recovery, backup and diagnostics to name only a very few. Choosing the right tool for the right job may seem intimidating, yet a little research, experimentation and experience (or the experience of others) will often lead to the correct choice. Using the wrong tool for the job and then boviating about it helps no one and in the end may just show ignorance.

    • Free At Last! Linux in the House!

      At $21.00 at the magazine rack, it is cheap insurance and quite frankly cheap in software terms. You can actually resurrect an older machine with Linux and really get your money’s worth out of it!

  • Server

    • Fujitsu and Asianux to Deliver Advanced Linux-based Server Products

      Fujitsu, a leading provider of IT-based business solutions for the global marketplace, and Asianux Corporation Ltd., a leading Linux vendor, announced they will jointly deliver advanced Linux server products.

    • Linux Software RAID – A Belt and a Pair of Suspenders

      There is an old phrase about wearing a belt and a pair of suspenders if you want to make sure your pants stay up (why haven’t plumbers figured that out?). The point of the phrase is that if you want to be sure that your plans will happen you should have a backup plan as well. In the case of file systems this is literally the truth. If you want to make sure you don’t lose any data, do backups as well as provide some other form of data protection. That something else for data protection is RAID (Redundant Array of Inexpensive Disks).

    • Making The Case For Free Software

      The company’s mission, according to its still operational web site, was to “build the world’s most energy-efficient computers.” According to press reports around the time of the company’s closure, SiCortex was unable to close on a new round of venture capital funding and simply ran out of money.

      For open source advocates, the most valuable aspect of SiCortex’s property is the “PathScale compiler suite,” which according to a blog post from Bergstrom at www.codestream.com, is “one of the highest performance compilers in the industry.” A compiler is software that translates source code, the computer language written by people, into language a computer understands. Specifically, the PathScale compiler helped software programmers develop and deploy software applications.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Foundation updates Kernel Development study
    • Who writes Linux: Big Business

      The Linux Foundation has just released a new report on who writes Linux (PDF), and guess what? Linux isn’t written by lonely nerds hiding out in their parents’ basements. It’s written by people working for major companies — many of them businesses that you probably don’t associate with Linux.

    • Linux: More contributors, more code

      The report reveals how it is coding the changes in the kernel and what companies are sponsoring the programmers who are making the changes – if any. And what is immediately clear is that Linux is much bigger than its namesake and creator, Linus Torvalds.

    • Report: Linux developer base up 10 percent since 2008

      With over 1,000 developers actively working on the Linux kernel, representing some 200 different corporations, Linux is an exceptional example of the power of open-source communities, and also speaks to the value of groups like the Linux Foundation that help to shepherd it.

    • KMS, GEM Comes To Linux Mobile Phone

      The Neo FreeRunner that was developed by the OpenMoko project and manufactured by FIC, now has kernel mode-setting support and GPU memory management via the Graphics Execution Manager. The Neo FreeRunner smart-phone has a S-Media Glamo 3362 graphics accelerator and an independent developer decided to write the necessary kernel DRM, libdrm, and xf86-video-glamo DDX driver to introduce this support.

    • Linux dev community growing, 5 patches accepted every hour

      A new report published by the Linux Foundation provides insight into the growth of the Linux kernel development community. It reveals that the entire code base has grown by 2.7 million lines over the past year while an average of 5.45 patches are accepted every hour.

  • Applications

    • Add Emerald for slick window decorations

      As stated earlier, Emerald is a theme-able window decorator. But Emerald takes window decorating one step further by also allowing for full-composite window decorations. By adding composite to the decoration Emerald can include such features as transparency and drop shadow. And Emerald does this without taking any more of a hit on your resources than a normal window manager. That is, assuming you have the hardware that supports compositing. The main issue is that your graphics chip must support 3D/Direct Rendering. If your hardware can support that, your hardware will work with Emerald. You will also need to have Compiz installed (this article will assume you have Compiz up and running).

    • Convenient Linux terminal access with Yakuake

      Yakuake is a boon to anyone who uses the terminal frequently. After using this handy tool for a while you will wonder what you ever did without it!

    • How to make Conky play nicely with KDE 4.3
    • Pidgin 2.6.0–It’s About Time

      Well, by now most people probably realize that we’ve released Pidgin 2.6.0. It feels like this has been in the works forever, particularly these last couple weeks.

    • OpenShot — Video Editing Made Simple

      Desktop Linux isn’t necessarily the first platform you’d think of going to for video editing. Despite that, there are several great projects that offer video editing functionality; things like PiTiVi, Cinelerra and Kino to name just a few.

    • Get Cooking With These Open Source Recipe Management Apps

      Gourmet Recipe Manager – Collect and organize recipes with this software, then use it to automatically generate shopping lists from the menus you select. Gourmet Recipe Manager also tracks nutritional information, import recipes from other apps, and exports in several different formats.

  • K Desktop Environment

  • Distributions

    • The Road to Beta 1 of 5.0

      I don’t know if everyone has seen this yet, but Shake0 has produced an awesome Sabayon 5.0 promo video. Be sure to check it out. I would love to see an artwork package that evolved around it.

    • Linux Got Game!

      Depending upon your preferences, Supergamer Supreme can be totally awesome. It can be run from the live DVD with almost as good performance as when installed. Perhaps you don’t mind booting back and forth between systems, and as such the Firefox, MPlayer, and GIMP versions may not matter all that much. Even if you prefer to avoid lots of booting, are the older versions even an issue for you? Despite the drawbacks, Supergamer Supreme is still the best gaming distro available.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Fedora 12 Alpha To Bring Many Linux Desktop Improvements

        The first development release for Fedora 12 (codenamed Constantine), Alpha 1, was supposed to be released this week. However, Red Hat has pushed back its release to next week Tuesday. While there is this seven-day delay, an Alpha 1 RC1 ISO spin is available and we decided to provide a very early and brief look at the Fedora 12 release.

      • Campaign to get more folks to use Fedora

        I’ll keep the blog updated with the other steps that we take. If there are any changes needed in the poster (as per guidelines etc that I could have missed), please comment or email me at “ankursinha AT fedoraproject DOT org” . I still have 4-5 days to put these up.

      • FUDCon Toronto 2009.

        Today we announced FUDCon Toronto 2009, our North American event for this year. FUDCon, as always, is free and open for everyone to attend. This year some excellent contributors in Toronto stepped up to deliver a great location and some logistical support that will help us put on an awesome event.

      • Red Hat Compares Itself To Facebook or Wikipedia

        It’s a “dot” version upgrade, but it’s an important one. Details will be forthcoming on Sept. 1, but what can be revealed here is that RHEL 5.4 will include new virtualization capabilities that will enable the operating system to become, in effect, its own hypervisor within a data center structure.

      • Hilti Standardizes Global Mission-Critical Systems On Red Hat Enterprise Linux and SAP Solutions

        Hilti Corporation has migrated its critical systems running SAP applications, including SAP Business Suite, SAP ERP, SAP Customer Relationship Management (SAP CRM) and the SAP NetWeaver technology platform, from Tru64 UNIX to Red Hat Enterprise Linux, Red Hat Cluster Suite and Red Hat Global File System (GFS).

      • CentOS users remain faithful despite developer shakeup

        Plankers concurred. “The good thing is that because CentOS is just a re-labeled Red Hat Enterprise Linux it’s pretty easy to move to Red Hat’s offerings if CentOS goes under. I don’t think there’s any need to worry now, though.”

    • Debian Family

      • New Ubuntu Installer Coming Soon

        Canonical is working hard these days to redesign the Ubuntu installer (also known as Ubiquity) into something a little more in tune with our times. We’ve already told you in our latest report on Ubuntu 9.10 (Karmic Koala) Alpha 4 that Ubiquity has now a “Quit” button during all the installation steps, so you can quit the installer at any time. Moreover, the time zone selection items have been changed a little to reflect the region/zone only, and not the city.

      • Karmic Boot/GDM/Login Screen – Updated Design

        The GDM/Login Screen for Karmic Koala has received a slight update since my last post.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Garmin’s new nuvi 1690 and 1860: specs and more

      The Garmin Nuvi 1860 has a 4.8 inch WVGA display, a Linux Operating System, built in WiFi and Bluetooth connectivity, along with this it has lane assist, a traffic receiver and text-to-speech.

    • Drone takes wing with Linux PCs onboard

      Parvus Corporation has announced a successful test flight for the Aurora Excalibur, an unmanned attack drone using two Linux-based DuraCOR 820 embedded PCs. Offering autonomous vehicle management and flight control, the Excalibur allows operators to focus on mission objectives, according to the company.

    • Fanless industrial PC has PCI slot

      Nexcom has introduced a fanless PC that runs Linux on Intel Celeron or Pentium CPUs. The NISE 3100e includes a PCI expansion slot, dual gigabit Ethernet ports, four serial ports, and CompactFlash or hard disk storage, the company says.

    • Linux and my search for the perfect MP3 player

      I’m a huge music fan. I pretty much have music playing all the time, in some form. As such, I like my MP3 player. Like many music lovers, I became enamored with the concept of having my entire music library at my fingertips at any time, so the MP3 player as a concept really appealed to me when they began to appear with larger capacities several years ago.

    • Phones

      • Spotify comes to Android

        A SPOTIFY CLIENT called Droidify has been released for the Android mobile phone operating system. But it’s not from the eponymous music streaming company.

      • ARM11 MID runs Android

        SMiT says the MID-560 includes the typical Android Linux/Java software stack, including a WebKit based browser and a Gmail client, stored on 2GB, 4GB, or 8GB of available flash storage. There’s also a microSD expansion slot, the company adds.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • First Look: Jolicloud Alpha 2c

        Bottom line, Jolicloud deserves all the attention that it’s getting right now. We don’t feel that the social component in its current state will be a very useful addition, but if the developers extend it so that it integrates with the desktop synchronization functions and other social networking websites it may just become a central feature. The all-around optimizations make this operating system a real alternative for netbook owners, as they work wonders even for those rather old first-generation devices that are already starting to appear as pieces of computer history to us.

      • Netbook runs Ubuntu

        Denver-based System76 is selling a netbook that includes preinstalled Ubuntu 9.04. The Starling includes a 10-inch display, the usual Intel Atom N270 CPU, a 160GB hard disk drive, and a six-cell battery, the company says.

      • Which netbook OS is right for you?

        Under Linux you can easily find and install new products. You don’t need to go searching for them yourself. Similarly, you can update every application as well as Linux itself from the one software update menu. Linux has no need for the multitude of “program x is going to check for updates now” run-on-startup memory wasters that plagues Microsoft Windows.

        Another reason you ought to consider Linux is its greater security. There is absolutely no need to run anti-virus software on Linux. It’s far more resistant to Internet nasties. Some Windows advocates will defend Microsoft’s vulnerabilities as a result of mass popularity making it a bigger target.

      • New Dell-ARM combo poised to take on Wintel netbooks?

        Dell takes on Microsoft’s assertion that Linux suffers from higher return rates on netbooks. The hardware vendor is exploring the possibility of building ARM-based smartbooks with Linux preinstalled.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open Source Software: More Reasons It Is More Secure

    That is why I’m so happy to see a new series of videos on Youtube by IngresCorp. These are short clips that deliver easy to understand messages.

  • OpenSourceWorld Report

    Last week I took the 20-minute BART ride from the East Bay over to Moscone West in San Francisco to visit what was once known as LinuxWorld and is now OpenSourceWorld, Next Generation Data Center, and CloudWorld all rolled into one event. Like many others, having been to previous LinuxWorlds, I was curious to see how this re-branding and grouping of events would pan out. LinuxWorld had been getting quite the panning (no pun intended) over the last five years or so, so could the new event cut the mustard and reel back in its once committed group of sightseers?

  • MySQL

  • Wikia

  • Licensing

    • Does Copyright Matter? Or, is the End of Dual-Licensing Near?

      Linux, by contrast, is such a maze of copyrights that there have been threads on whether relicensing would be even theoretically possible given the fact that some of the original copyright holders were deceased. Unlike MySQL – or, as Anderson points out, EveryBlock – the copyrights to the code that makes up Linux is held in commons, such that no single entity – not even the majority holder, Linus – can make exclusive use of it. SuSE, for example, can’t introduce its own proprietary extensions to differentiate itself from Red Hat. Oracle can’t introduce a compatibility layer that only works with its distribution of the kernel. And so on. The rights enjoyed by one are the rights enjoyed by all, because the copyright doesn’t belong to any single party.

    • 7-Zip 9.06 Beta

      7-Zip is a file archiver with a high compression ratio and is open source software. Most of the source code is under the GNU LGPL license.

    • The Software Freedom Law Show: Episode 0×14: Considerations on GPL Business Models

      Bradley and Karen discuss a few different types of for-profit business models that are common around codebases licensed under the GPL.


  • Censorship/Web Abuse

    • Interception law reforms come under attack

      But Nic Suzor, an associate law lecturer at the Queensland University of Technology and board member of Electronic Frontiers Australia (EFA), said the proposed amendments are “far too broad” and “pretty scary” when it came to the privacy of internet users in Australia.

    • Is A Blogger Strike The Best Way To Fight Back Against Laws Designed To Quiet Bloggers?

      If anything it would seem to do the opposite. By silencing themselves, and not talking about the issues, it keeps those issues out of the discussion for whatever period of time. Instead of silencing, why not do what the bloggers do best and talk about the problems of the law so that many more people are aware of them?

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Sirius XM Passes RIAA Tax On To Consumers

      Not quite sure how I missed this earlier (update: oops, turns out we didn’t miss it — so consider this an encore presentation), but Bret alerts us to the news that with the ever increasing royalty rates pushed by the RIAA in the form of its “spin-off” Sound Exchange, and codified by the Copyright Royalty Board (for whom I still do not understand how anyone can justify its existence), that Sirius XM has simply added a $2 RIAA tax to everyone’s monthly bills to help pay for the new performance royalties. Yup, because the RIAA and its members haven’t been able to come up with a business model that works

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Richard Stallman_003 (2004)

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

Moonlight and Mono Lack Demand

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Virtualisation, Windows, Xen at 11:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Novell does not eat its own dog food and Mono is still negligible

Moonlight has made some headlines recently [1, 2] because of a new beta which is hardly worthy of news coverage. As ITWire points out, even Novell continues to show a lack of demand for it. It goes further than this:

If Moonlight is so hot, why isn’t Novell using it?


Novell’s lack of trust in its own products seems to extend to its Netware and Linux products to some extent as well.

According to Netcraft, the Novell websites run a mix of Windows Server 2003, CentOS, Debian GNU/Linux, Netware, SUSE and Solaris.

It is not exactly news that several of Novell’s Web sites did not use SUSE; some used the products of a direct competitor. We wrote about it years ago.

Speaking of scarcity in terms of demand for Moonlight, watch how little developer interest there is in C# or Mono, at least in the Free software world. Mono proponents love to pretend that Mono is vital owing to developers’ preferences, but the facts just don’t add up or stack up. Like its ally Microsoft, Novell exaggerates using perceived demand that they hope will be self-fulfilling.

C# Open Source popularity not what one might think.

How does one measure success?

The success – roughly defined as “popularity” – of C#/Mono/.NET is something we’ve kicked around in comments here. Now, there are numbers from Black Duck that have got some blogs picking up on some “harder” numbers.

C# squeaks into 10th place, with a 1.24% share – virtually equal to assembly language (1.23%)!

It ought to be emphasised that these numbers from Black Duck are skewed because it recently started funneling in heaps of Microsoft-oreinted projects, which then gave the impression of (relatively) less GPL acceptance and probably increased acceptance of C#. If only GPL-licensed projects are accounted for, it is likely that C# will have closer to 0%. This cannot be checked, however, because Black Duck insists on black-box surveys and proprietary scanning/cataloging software. As one reader often reminds us, Mono/C# programmers are only dozens of people, many of whom are Novell employees.

Over at The Register, Timothy Prickett Morgan seemingly advises Novell to join forces with Microsoft’s Partner of the Year (2008), namely Citrix.

What is commercial Linux distributor Novell going to do about server and desktop virtualization?

It’s a good question, and one that the company’s top brass has not really addressed.

In July 2006, with the launch of SUSE Linux 10, Novell was the first commercial Linux vendor to ship a Xen hypervisor tuned for Linux. And it is arguable that Novell probably jumped the gun, given the state of Xen, its management tools, and Novell’s support of other operating systems beside SLES 10 at the time with its embedded Xen product.


Circling high above the server virtualization space here at El Reg, it sure looks like Novell and Citrix need each other. They need each other as much as Citrix needed to closely ally itself with Microsoft to put out its Essentials tools for managing both XenServer and Hyper-V hypervisors, and as much as Novell needed to make a pact with Microsoft to distribute $340m worth of SUSE Linux support contracts into Windows shops.

If Novell and Citrix grew even closer, it would most likely lead to even greater entanglements with Microsoft. Citrix is no friend of GNU/Linux, to say the very, very least.

Citrix logo

ODF Progress Made, OOXML Still Ruled Illegal in the United States

Posted in Deception, Europe, Formats, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard at 10:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“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]

Summary: Heaps of news and observations regarding document formats

Standards are the key to ensuring that different applications of the same class can communicate with one another. “Interoperability” is not a solution but a mere compromise that sometimes results from independent standards being developed separately, which then makes them mutually incompatible.

ODF is the only real international standard for document exchange. Microsoft’s borderline criminal behaviour has made OOXML somewhat of a laughing stock as far as standards are concerned because everyone knows that OOXML is as proprietary as it can get.

Microsoft’s stubbornness did not pay off because ODF is alive and all, and a new Web site has just been set up for the ODF Plugfest. We wrote about this annual event in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 9 10] and the next one gets a date:

Date: 2 Nov 2009 – 09:30 – 3 Nov 2009 – 18:00

Also newsworthy is this new artwork gallery for ODF. It comes as an add-on to OpenOffice.org and to quote from the page, “This extension add one theme to your gallery with more than 100 signs dealing with security, not as bitmap but as vector graphic in ODF format : you may modify them or retrieve some parts to build your own signs.”

Paul Thurrott, who is known for his affinity and relationship with Microsoft, already does some spinning on the issue of “interoperability”. But based on this post, Sam Dean went on to establish a good picture of how regulators must view Microsoft’s “interoperability” posturing.

Why is it that only The European Commission seems to be taking a really tough stance against these types of file format lock-in practices? As we reported here, last year European Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes took a very tough stance in calling for governments throughout Europe to use open source software and adopt open standards.

Bill Gates is against proper interoperability, whereas some of those beneath him apparently did want to open up. So it’s quite likely a leadership problem. Microsoft cannot even properly support ODF [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], but it keeps pretending that it can. Similar OOXML-sympathetic spin finally arrives from Fraunhofer, whose relationship with Microsoft we wrote about in here (and most recently mentioned here).

The spin has proven to be effective so far. “Nice to know that Microsoft Office now support ODF format natively starting from Office 2007 Service Pack 2,” wrote someone in Twitter a short while ago. But it’s MSODF, not ODF. Another person has just written :”The biggest barrier I feel towards MS is the constant putting profits over what is good for the user. Good example is Docx vs ODF.” There is now a whole new book on the subject of format wars.

After the ODF-OOXML was, here comes another potential Format War – this time for e-Books: “Format War Clouds E-Book Horizon“, titles the Wall Street Journal.

The vibrant discussion about the Microsoft Word ban [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11] carries on. One person writes: “Microsoft is tasting their own menace … if they had, but work with ODF, they will have a more peaceful sleep and be… http://bit.ly/TMDqE

Few people realise just what Microsoft did to i4i. As quoted by GCN:

“The suit is not about file formats, and the verdict has no implications for Open XML,” Kutz added. “It is about the way Microsoft Word handles certain kinds of code. In addition, the particular Custom XML functionality at issue is not used by most customers.”

To quote from another new article, “Microsoft knew of the patent held by i4i as early as 2001, but instead set out to make the Canadian developer’s software “obsolete” by adding a feature to Word, according to court documents.”


“We saw [i4i's products] some time ago, and met its creators,” said Sawicki in the Jan. 23, 2003, e-mail. “Word 11 will make it obsolete. It looks great for XP though.” Word 11 was the in-development code name for what was eventually dubbed Word 2003.


“My main concern with i4i is that if we do the work properly, there won’t be a need for their product,” stated another internal Microsoft e-mail submitted into evidence.

“Why did Microsoft meet with i4i,” asks one of our readers. “For what purpose? Is there a precedent for Microsoft getting a look-see at a company’s offering, under the guise of ‘partnering’ only to later on announce the self same functionality appearing in a new Microsoft innovative product?”

Eye on Microsoft: Windows Mobile Failure, Server 2008/Vista Failure, and Vista 7 Failure by Design

Posted in Microsoft, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 9:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Links of interest about failing crown jewels

Finger crossing won’t lure iPhone coders to Windows Mobile

Steve Ballmer famously derided the iPhone when it was first released, telling USA Today: “There’s no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share.”

He was wrong.

In an equally famous CNBC-TV interview that has garnered over 2.3 million views on YouTube, Ballmer laughingly dismissed the iPhone.

Wrong again.

Today, Windows Mobile continues to lose market share, with no real relief expected until Windows 7 Mobile appears next spring. But in that same CNBC-TV video, Balmer says about Windows Mobile: “I like our strategy, I like it a lot.”

Three strikes, Steve.

FYI: Not so funny Microsoft bug that hosed our company’s product because a “function randomly returns incorrect results”.

This applies to Server 2008 and Vista. The bug is in any API call to compare unicode strings. Just so you understand an example of the hilarity that ensued: “because of this problem, Exchange Server 2007 may stop responding or may encounter index corruption.” Hunting down this bug required epic QA analysis, since the bug only happens “When the mapped section that has the incorrect DACL settings is accessed by lots of threads at the same time”. Lots of threads? Really, Microsoft? One of the work-arounds was to disable all but one processor. The bug caused one of our customers to get different business reports depending on whether anyone had started up MS Paint during the data analysis.

Is your netbook small enough for Windows 7?

We’ve known for some time that Windows 7 Starter Edition will only be made available to original equipment manufacturers, but the licensing detail covering what machines Microsoft will allow those OEMs to install the OS onto has been pretty scarce.

At a recent Wall Street analyst meeting, Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer would appear to have spilled the beans regarding Windows 7 Starter Edition licensing. Ballmer insisted that the license will determine exactly what is and is not a netbook: “it’s got to have a super-small screen” he said, adding “it has to have a certain processor…”

When Does ‘News’ Qualify as Shameless Microsoft PR?

Posted in Deception, Marketing, Microsoft at 8:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Exploration of Microsoft expansion in press holdings; Another Nick does de facto PR work for Microsoft, using the press

YESTERDAY we mentioned the fact that Microsoft/NBC acquired EveryBlock, which enables them to control even more of the media. There are examples of less direct control. For instance, TechFlash is receiving money from Microsoft and promoting Microsoft almost all the time (still promoting its main Microsoft sponsor, even yesterday). About the EveryBlock acquisition it wrote:

Msnbc.com, a joint venture of Microsoft and NBC Universal, has been experimenting more with local news coverage lately. The news site has been providing months of granular coverage of the town of Elkhart, Indiana, documenting how local residents and businesses there are coping with the economic recession.

To control perception about poverty can be valuable to Microsoft. Unlike with TechFlash, this is not only the Seattle press which Microsoft controls.

The Different Nicks

As we noted before, the Ziff Davis-owned eWeek (mind relationships with Microsoft [1, 2]) has turned Microsoft Watch into another venue/outlet for Microsoft PR, just like they did with the Seattle P-I after it had closed shop. They use another Nick over there.

It still seems like it’s all about marketing. Shortly after ODF FUD from Nick Kolakowski, there is promotion of Vista 7, Windows Mobile, and now there is veiled promotion of Internet Explorer, even using Microsoft-funded ‘studies’. As the only comment rightly states:

Its a brave new world it there for Microsoft and eWeek. The question is, can they adapt, or are they just dinosaurs, as some people say, just waiting to die?

Quoting from an “bought and paid for” report. quote: “The study was sponsored by Microsoft, which led to a number of reader emails declaring it biased from the start.” Yes, Nick it was more than biased from the start. I hope eWeek is not putting pressure on you to do this type of “fluff” for Microsoft, like they most likely were doing with Joe. The fact that you would then go on to use this bought and paid for “source” as a basis for your article, is repugnant, to say the least.

Nick, I think where eWeek is failing, is in understanding where the market is going now. Hint, its moving away from MS. Sure, it has a long way to go, but if you look at the factors to why its moving, you will see that the trend to alternatives will not stop. As such, eWeek needs to derisively, and seek out other advertising revenue besides the Vole. Because the day is coming, that MS will not have the advertising bucks to spend soon.

Why does Ziff Davis allocate sites for news about one company in the first place? This begs for attention, especially because it is so one sided, and quite likely by design. Is this media one can trust? One can identify the same symptoms over at CNET and ZDNet, but that’s another story.


Links 19/08/2009: Bordeaux 1.8.2 Released, Mozilla Service Week Coming

Posted in News Roundup at 8:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • The Curse of the Living Windows

    Fortunately, I had spent the last few months learning enough about Linux to begin my run for freedom from Windows already, so Ubuntu 9.04 was running smoothly on one of my two computers by the time DSL came to town. I knew that all I needed or wanted from an ISP was a connection to the internet — any other services were of no interest.

    Of course, since this was a Windows ISP, there was nothing in their literature that suggested how to carry out the actual connection process other than “install the program from the CD, we will assimilate your computer and do the rest.” I’ve learned to expect that, having endured the Driver Dramas of winmodem/linmodem on dialup, but since this is ADSL, I did need to find the magic numbers like IP address, subnet mask, gateway, and DNS server. That meant I had to call Technical Support.

  • Linux vendor revenue $1 billion by 2012? Or is it $49 billion+ ?

    Red Hat’s CEO Jim Whitehurst has said that it is his goal to advance Red Hat to be the first open source vendor to hit $1 billion in revenues. Red Hat is well on its way, but Red Hat is now making an increasing amount of its revenues from JBoss middleware running on Linux.

  • Storage Basics: Clustered File Systems

    Generally speaking, shared disk setups have a single point of failure: the storage system. This is not always true, however, as “shared disk” is a confusing term with today’s technology. SANs, NAS appliances and commodity hardware running Linux can all replicate the underlying disks in real time to another storage node, which provides a simulated shared disk environment. Since the underlying block devices are replicated, the nodes have access to the same data and both run a clustered file system, but this replication breaks the traditional shared disk definition.

  • Applications

    • Bordeaux 1.8.2 for Linux Released

      Supported Applications/Games:

      * Microsoft Office 2007
      * Microsoft Office 2003
      * Microsoft Office 2000
      * Microsoft Office 97
      * Microsoft Office Visio 2003
      * Microsoft Office Project 2003
      * Adobe Photoshop 6
      * Adobe Image Ready 3
      * Adobe Photoshop 7
      * Adobe Image Ready 7
      * Adobe Photoshop CS
      * Adobe Photoshop CS2
      * Microsoft Internet Explorer 6
      * Steam and Steam based Games
      * Apple QuickTime 6.5.2 Player
      * IrfaView 4.25 (Image files only)
      * Winetricks support

    • A Quick and Easy Guide to KDE KIO slaves

      Here are some other useful KIO slaves:

      * tar:/, zip:/, gzip:/, bzip:/, bzip2:/ all allow you to navigate into archives like they are folders.
      * fonts:/ shows installed fonts
      * cgi:/ runs cgi programs without a webserver
      * finger:/ provides information about a host name where “finger” is enabled.
      * settings:/ is similar to applications:/ providing an alternative method of accessing system settings.
      * smb:/ accesses and browses Samba shares. This is also available through remote:/
      * sftp:/ is a secure file transfer over SSH.
      * desktop:/ shows the files inside the desktop folder.
      * trash:/ shows the contents of the trash can.

    • Open source Dreamweaver alternatives

      We did show you before how to install dreamweaver on Linux using wine , and as we believe that there are good open source alternative for this product , we will try to show you bellow some of the open source Dreamweaver alternatives for Linux.

  • Distributions

    • Rpath to Foresight Linux: Change to Fedora!

      In order for Foresight Linux to follow development trends more quickly, Michael Johnson (the founder of rPath and former head of Fedora) has proposed switching from rPath Linux to Fedora.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Korona Brings KDE 4.3 To OpenSolaris

    While Sun Microsystems puts their weight behind the GNOME desktop environment for Solaris and OpenSolaris, there are developers that do work on providing a quality experience for KDE on OpenSolaris. However, getting KDE to run on a clean OpenSolaris installation can require building KDE from source and taking various other steps. Fortunately, for KDE fans, there is now the Korona distribution, which brings KDE 4.3 as the default desktop environment to an OpenSolaris stack.

  • Firefox

    • Mindcraft 2.0: Firefox Comes of Age

      When Firefox had only a few percent market share, it could be dismissed as a minority browser for a few enthusiasts. Now that it holds over 50% in some countries, particularly in Europe, it can’t be written off so easily. The fact that Microsoft has paid for these reports shows that Firefox has come of age as a serious rival to Internet Explorer that might even wrench the browser crown from the latter’s grasp in the not-too-distant future.

    • Calling All Volunteers – Mozilla Service Week needs YOU!

      Mozilla Service Week is coming up in just one month – September 14 to 21, 2009! The driving force behind service week is our strong belief that everyone should know how to use the Internet, have easy access to it, and have a great experience when they’re online. You can have a hand in helping organizations and people all over the world experience the joy of using the Web too!

  • Business

    • Open-Xchange Plans First Partner Summit

      Sounds promising. But for Open-Xchange to broaden its appeal, the company will need to effectively position itself against Microsoft’s emerging Business Productivity Online Suite (which includes Exchange Online) plus a range of successful Exchange SaaS specialists — including Azaleos, Intermedia, and mindSHIFT’s groupSPARK business.

  • Government

    • Digital Britain: Less a Policy, More a Typo

      While the digital revolution thunders along at a giddy rate in the real world, UK politicians prove to be all mouth and no trousers. Despite the rhetoric of making Britain a leader in digital content, the reality is the government just doesn’t understand that this isn’t business as usual, and that something has changed fundamentally, and requires a fundamentally different approach, not just some fine-tuning of old ideas.

    • HU: “Hungary should set up a open source competence centre”

      The Hungarian government should create an open source competence centre, writes the Hungarian Information Society (ITTK), a pressure group, in its annual report, published on 7 May.

      The group urges the government to increase its awareness of this type of software. “The government should is advised to make ODF an official standard in all branches of government.”


  • Censorship/Web Abuse

    • Venezuela adopts censorship

      Venezuela has adopted a law censoring all newsmedia, prohibiting publication of anything that could encourage hatred or aggression, or even “indiscipline”, among children. It also prohibits anything that “deforms the language” or attacks “healthy values, good customs or public health”.

    • Comcast Fights FCC Net Neutrality Order

      The case is important because other broadband ISPs have privately feared the FCC order could hold jurisdiction over them as well.

  • ID Cards

    • How 10 digits will end privacy as we know it

      A study of 1990 U.S. Census data revealed that 87 percent of the people in the United States were uniquely identifiable with just three pieces of information (PDF): five-digit ZIP code, gender, and date of birth. Internet surfers today spew considerably more information than that.

    • DNA Database Doomed: It Works Too Well

      This is something I’ve been saying (without proof, admittedly) for a while: the UK’s insane DNA database is doomed not because it doesn’t work well, but because it works *too* well in a sense – in that it lets you frame anybody with perfect efficiency…

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Since When Is Sharing So Bad?

      Jerry Leichter writes “We’re all taught to share as kids, and sharing is a fundamental aspect of human societies. But sharing is also “anti-market” – at least as many sellers see it. I have something – a piece of music, a lawnmower – that you need. If I share with you, we both come out ahead – but if instead you buy one for yourself, the seller and manufacturer comes out ahead…”

    • Myth Debunking: Fans Just Want Everything For Free

      This is a myth. It’s a popular myth, and I’m quite sure that Sheffner and lots of folks on both sides of the debate think its entirely accurate. But it’s a myth. The nature of a good economic transaction is one in which both parties are better off after the exchange. That means the people “paying” don’t mind paying. They’re happy to pay because they believe that what they have received is better than the cost it took to acquire it. But basic economics plays into the situation here: if the same thing can be made available by others in a better way, it’s only natural for people to ask why they should have to pay.

    • Police banned from listening to the radio

      POLICE officers in Hampshire have been banned from listening to the radio in their offices because they’re breaking the law.


      Dep Chief Con Cole broke the news to staff in an email after other forces, in particular Wiltshire, were approached by the Performing Right Society who demand a ‘substantial’ licence fee for public broadcasts.

    • P2P Banned In Antarctica?

      We know that there’s been an ongoing effort by entertainment industry lobbyists to convince politicians (and others) that file sharing and P2P apps are somehow to blame for stupid government staffers accidentally leaking files via those programs. Apparently the propaganda campaign has worked in at least one area: employees of the United States Antarctic Program (USAP) were sent an alert that they need to stop using all P2P programs.

    • The Pain in Spain Falls Mainly in the Plan

      in January 2010, Spain will take over the Presidency of the European Community. Spanish Government has already announced that one of their flagships will be reinforcing the control of the Internet and criminalizing the sharing culture in the digital environment. The consequences of those decisions will be noticed in the rest of the world.

      This is the first I’ve heard of this: bad news if true. Anyone have any more details?

    • Radiohead Leak Their New Track To BitTorrent

      During the last few days a new Radiohead song was mysteriously released onto the Internet. The track is called “These Are My Twisted Words” and until today it was unclear where it had come from. Now, thanks to a post on the band’s blog, it seems the boys could’ve had it planned all along, as they are now linking to the song on Mininova.

    • Of Mephistopheles and Poodles

      I was always under the impression that Lord Mandelson was dark, Machiavellian and very sharp; apparently not:

      Lord Mandelson launched a crackdown on internet piracy just days after meeting a leading Hollywood critic of illegal file sharing.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Thomas Bartol, computational neuroscientist for the Salk Institute 10 (2005)

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

Visible Technologies Funded by Former Microsoft People

Posted in Marketing, Microsoft at 4:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

May Also be Breaking British Laws That Forbid Buzz Marketing

Tin man
Bot-guided pseudo-opinions

Summary: Unethical marketing firm funded and run by Microsoft veterans, who are managing some of Microsoft’s brands by intervening in social networks

YESTERDAY we wrote about Visible Technologies, which manages perceptions [1, 2] for Microsoft. We showed that there were many incidental connections between Microsoft and Visible Technologies at the business and staff level, but a financial relationship was not shown at the time. After some searching we managed to find who funded Visible Technologies when it was younger. It turns out that they are funded by ex-Microsoft staff via the Ignition shell that we wrote about before. It is filled with former Microsoft executives who give money strategically.

From the Seattle P-I:

Visible Technologies, which is announcing $12 million in venture funding Monday from Ignition Partners and WPP Group, is trying to solve that problem. The 4-year-old Seattle company’s products not only allow clients to track conversations on blogs and news sites, but also actively participate in them.


As a result of the investment, Michelle Goldberg of Ignition Partners has joined the board.

Goldberg said that Visible has a compelling technology that helps companies manage their online reputations.

Michelle Goldberg used to be at Microsoft. The large majority of Ignition Partners is just Microsoft veterans. To the naked eye, however, the investment above would probably trigger no suspicion.

It did not take long for more Microsoft veterans to join this company which does the AstroTurf campaigns for Microsoft (where such practices, when used in a more political arena, are also causing trouble like war, global warming, and other travesties that promote or justify harm in exchange of money). Here is Visible Technologies and Microsoft exhibiting together like a couple:

Webcast with Visible Technologies and Microsoft

On Thursday May 22nd I’ll be participating in a webcast with Blake Cahill from Visible Technologies and Marty Collins from Microsoft.

Visible Technologies has another site, called “VisInsights”. It’s like another identity, just like TruCast and TruPulse. “Another visible technologies site [is] trureputation.com,” says Ryan. The “About” page of VisInsights says:

Visible Technologies LogoVisible Technologies is a leading provider of online brand management solutions for companies and individuals in today’s rapidly changing new media environment

The site contains big tags like “Brand Management” and “Reputation Management”. They are also concerned about some of their practices seemingly becoming illegal here in the UK. Those British laws must be such a nuisance to them!

Buzz Marketing techniques to become illegal in UK?


I am not sure how this one slipped by me late last week but thought I would share the update from the IPA in the UK. Effective on the 26 of May 2008 certain activities will become a criminal offense when the Consumer Protection from Unfair Trading Regulations becomes effective.

Seeding positive messages about a brand in a blog without making it clear that the message has been created by, or on behalf of, the brand will be an offense. Using “buzz marketing” specialists to communicate with potential customers in social situations without disclosing that they are acting as brand ambassadors will be an offense.

From the comment found here:

Last night I read an article in the Post Intelligencer about this company called (ironically) Visible Technologies that’s in Seattle. Their whole job is to monitor comments about their corporate clients that show up on blogs, forums, etc., and report back so that the company can respond. I think ‘anonymous’ is a faceless man in a suit.

Based on the Seattle Times, Visible Technologies may leave no disclosures. Microsoft certainly does not [1, 2, 3]. Yesterday we quoted from the The Seattle Times the following: “Clients pick an “author” or opt for anonymity. Visible [Technologies] also has a virtual army — thousands of personas registered with online forums.”

“So many to choose from,” remarks Ryan, “I wonder how many postings on forums are the same person from Visible Technologies replying to themselves. As of August 2006, they only had 28 employees, so either they did some hiring or those 28 employees are each 10 different people on every forum they “monitor”.”

Professor Walter Carl had something to say about such marketing techniques:

One of the age old debates by many who don’t know much about Word of Mouth Marketing is the argument that it’s okay to pay people to be a shill for a company. The problem is that many of them never reveal who they are working for. There’s a good interview with Professor Walter Carl of Northeastern University on NPR. I recommend you give it a listen!

Here is an example of AstroTurfing gone bad. Visible Technologies is quoted in the article.

Marketing campaign sinks Cruise Critic


“People are looking to people online to validate a purchase,” says Blake Cahill, senior vice president of marketing at Visible Technologies, whose clients include Microsoft and Panasonic.

More insight comes from here where Visible Technologies gets mentioned:

Most social data aggregators (like TNS, who is great, along with many of their stellar competitors like Visible Technologies, Radian6 et al) usually apply sentiment scores using a mix of people and programs. Unless a live analyst (fluent btw in both the local language and vernacular) is making the decision about whether a post to a blog or a tweet or blip is positive, negative or neither/neutral, you should be very suspicious of the accuracy – and more importantly, actionability – of any “score”.

And it gets expensive quickly asking a live analyst to manually read, assess and score hundreds of thousands of such posts or tweets. So we all rely on technology to help, and it’s a great but not perfect science.

You can do like we do and create language cartridges specific to the product domain or category and that helps. Or have our social media analysts scan samplings of the machine scored outputs of our data aggregator partners and fine-tune the “sentiment scores” from this.

Some time ago, Visible Technologies hooked up with the Aberdeen Group to justify its practices, just like Microsoft's patent troll, Nathan Myhrvold, funded a so-called ‘study’ to justify his hoarding/trolling which harms everyone.

Companies are learning how to leverage social media and tap into the rising tide of consumers participating in social network sites, blogs, wikis and Twitter.

According to the “The ROI on Social Media Marketing” report from the Aberdeen Group, sponsored by Visible Technologies, marketers have developed the tools and methodologies to drive marketing ROI by listening to and learning from customers and prospects.

Visible Technologies’ TruCast is also abused in other areas of society:

“some of them are fakes” … but that doesn’t stop MSNBC, CNN, and FOX from reporting the fake information as news… that should tell you something right there.

The way that is happening is they didn’t come out of Iran in the first place. A firm like Burson-Marsteller has been behind them from the beginning, using technology they readily advertise on their website called TRU-CAST (which basically means, in the new Orwellian Speak, “lying on the webcasts”). They’re “shaping” the story to help force a regime change in Iran through the use of social media site like FaceBook and TWITTER.

“The understanding of “sentiment” allows us to FOCUS THE MESSAGE in a way that traditional media would not allow us to do.” Visible Technologies talking about the tool Tru-Cast


TruCast (Visible Technologies): Burson-Marsteller partners with Visible Technologies to helps clients interact, manage and grow their brands in the blogosphere and social media communities. With TruCast, Burson-Marsteller clients gain the following benefits:

o Social Media and Blog Monitoring to track viral conversations about the client’s brand and products and to react quickly to online dialogues affecting the brand
o Social Media Learning and Measurement to brand Influencers and activists, assess the conversation volume about your products and brand
o Social Media Marketing and Customer Engagement to drive influential peer-to-peer, word-of-mouth promotion and measure marketing programs and media campaign success


“The Visible Technolgies “Tool-kit”, the Tru-Cast Platform, the “Engagement Console” enables us to actually ACTION that analysis, to LEVERAGE that insight. It enables us to participate in the conversations, to FOCUS OUR MESSAGING… to help us better target how we place our messaging

Some other names of companies that engage in similar practices can be found here: (we saw some before [1, 2])

Radian6 has many competitors like BuzzLogic, Nielsen BuzzMetrics, and Visible Technologies. Brogan argues that these services are too expensive, charging upwards of $50,000. Radian6 has some solutions that are as low as $500/month. The big difference, said Brogan, is with Radian6 you get the toolset, not just a report at the end of the month that tells you what’s happening. Other services may charge you for every requested change. Radian6 lets you change the terms and tweak until you see what you need to see.

Marketing firms go further than this and may even create fake blogs (or “flogs”).

Whether it’s creating a “flog,” or posting a shill review on Amazon.com, many people have taken to using the Web to help shape opinion, while also obscuring their own identities.

There’s this recent article from Business Week.

If “pay per post” lets online writers shill for cash, why not go all the way and sell real-life opinions, too?

Well, Microsoft has done that too. Microsoft bribed professors who mentioned its software. Here is Microsoft’s Jon Udell speaking about Visible Technologies.

You could of course monitor those conversations using the existing suite of awareness tools: search, link aggregation, tag aggregation. But a new breed of power tools is emerging, and she’ll be using the ones provided by Visible Technologies.

It must be exciting for Microsoft to ponder these prospects. “Those kinds of people are the reason I turned on comment moderation for all comments,” argues Ryan. “[The] default for WordPress is that after you approve one comment, anything else they post automatically gets added, so I had people make one innocent comment then spew a bunch of crap while I wasn’t looking.”

“Can’t you funnel this PR money into making your products not suck instead?”
Chris Pirillo is associated with them,” he added. “Pirillo has been a Microsoft shill for a while. They send him Windows shirts and baseball hats and free copies of all their stuff. Pirillo blogs about them [there is a video there, too]. Good video, seems to explain what they do.”

In his own blog, Ryan concludes as follows: “It’s getting to the point where the web is so deluged with astroturfing agencies like Visible Technologies that you can’t trust anything you read, which is their entire goal to begin with.”


“If this page gets a hit from Visible Technologies or Microsoft, I’d like to say that instead of trying to yell over your critics, might I suggest actually fixing the very real defects in your products they’re complaining about?

“How much are you guys paying these people to do damage control for you after you turn our PCs into black boxes for the MPAA and decide to save $1 per unit on the XBOX 360 console by skimping on the cooling system leading to five times the failure rate of the PS3, and nearly ten times the failure rate of the Wii?

“Can’t you funnel this PR money into making your products not suck instead?”

“No other large companies as far as I know use their employees as attack dogs to silen[ce] dissent. It’s time for Microsoft to stop this nonsense.”

The Prickly Prince From Microsoft Strikes Again

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