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09.03.09

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: September 3rd, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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

Rob Tiller Explains Why Software Patents Are a Tax on Innovation (Video)

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Intellectual Monopoly, Patents, Red Hat, Videos at 7:34 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Direct link

Related recent post:

August’s Golden Flying Chairlet Award Goes to ‘Seller Liar’

Posted in Flying Chairlet at 7:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Golden Flying Chairlet Award

THIS MONTH’S Golden Flying Chairlet Award (for August) goes to member ‘Seller Liar’, who provided us with valuable information about Mono, Java, and .NET.

Microsoft Has the World’s Biggest Patent Troll, But What’s Up with Google?

Posted in Google, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 6:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nathan Myhrvold

Summary: Intellectual Ventures exposed for what it really is about; Google patents its homepage

EARLIER TODAY WE HIGHLIGHTED THE LATEST report about Microsoft's patent troll, Intellectual Ventures.

Blog reports about this are numerous and they may have been sort of derived from this article (published on Tuesday).

Patent-hoarding giant Intellectual Ventures has long beat the drum that it doesn’t file lawsuits.

But now Intellectual Ventures has started selling some of its 27,000 patents to people who aren’t afraid to sue — and in some cases IV will get a share of the prize. It’s a scary scenario for tech companies that may end up in the legal crosshairs, but industry observers say it was only a matter of time.

[...]

It’s a new phase for Intellectual Ventures, which was founded in 2001 by Microsoft Corp.’s top tech guys, Nathan Myhrvold and Edward Jung. At first, the company took investments (about $5 billion) and bought up patents (now up to 27,000). In more recent years, IV has been cutting licensing deals with big tech companies that are apparently infringing on some of IV’s intellectual property. Intuit Inc., the financial software firm, agreed to pay $120 million for a license in May. Detkin says that IV has brought in about $1 billion in revenue this way. And he and others at IV like to point out that they’ve never once used the cudgel of a patent infringement lawsuit to get a deal done.

With its new practice of selling off patents to third parties, litigation is much more likely. It’s similar to the “catch and release” model used for some time by other patent-holding companies. That’s a friendly sounding name for a threat that goes like this: Take a license because we’re going to sell the patent on the open market — and you never know what unscrupulous and lawsuit-prone troll is going to buy it.

This is the sort of business plan which was conceived by and came about after consultation with Bill Gates, who has his own share in this game. Bernard Swiss describes it as a situation of: “We’ll feed the problem — and profit from it… But we’ll foist the actual risk on to others”

Microsoft’s patent strategy must not be ignored, but the main news today is actually not about Microsoft’s patent hoarding and trolling; it’s about Google’s latest bizarre patent.

In early 2004, Google’s lawyers didn’t have nearly enough to do. A patent on the design of Google’s homepage (AKA its “[g]raphical user interface for a display screen of a communications terminal”) that they applied for at that time was granted this week.

FFII’s president opines that “There is a need for more patent trolls against Google. They have too much money, and they have too stupid patent agents.” He links to this article which makes is clear that it’s trouble for all in the search market.

As one person puts it, “these new guidelines of the USPTO are apparently still very generous, as the PTO has just granted what seems to be patent on Google’s homepage.”

Over at TechDirt, we find that “look and feel” can now be guarded too using intellectual monopolies. It’s just like that Google homepage patent, where the ‘novelty’ of centering a search box is seen as patent worthy.

There are already concerns over the fact that software can be covered by both copyright and patents, but why not add trade dress to the mix? Via Michael Scott we learn that Fidelity is suing a competing company because its software looks like Fidelity’s, and that the basic look and feel of Fidelity’s software is protected by trade dress.

Where does it ever stop? The double-click is a patent, one-click shopping is a patent, and the progress bar too is a patent. As these two videos show [1, 2], Google does not oppose patents; It is even a member of OIN, which is about countering patents with more patents.

Founding CEO of TurboLinux No Longer at TurboLinux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Linspire, Microsoft, Patents, Turbolinux, Windows, Xandros at 5:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

TurboLinux news

Summary: Cliff Miller from TurboLinux is now at DeviceVM; a snapshot of what TurboLinux is currently up to

THE last vendor of desktop/server-targeted GNU/Linux to have signed a patent deal with Microsoft was TurboLinux. That was in late 2007 when Microsoft’s Linux racket [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] had already run low on steam.

We are still looking mostly at the “main four”, where hardware is not involved (so software patents only — if any — may apply): Novell, Xandros, Linspire, and TurboLinux. Linspire was folded onto Xandros, which simplifies the picture. As for TurboLinux, it is rarely mentioned anywhere these days. Some publications that speak foreign languages (usually from Asia) may still occasionally mention TurboLinux by name, whereas in the English-speaking press it is rare for TurboLinux to make it into large lists of vendors and sometimes a keyword-stuffed press release.

If one looks carefully at the news this week, it turns out that DeviceVM hired the founding CEO of TurboLinux, which means he is no longer at TurboLinux.

Miller, the founding CEO of TurboLinux, brings extensive software platform experience to the DeviceVM executive team.

San Jose, CA (Advertiser Talk) 28-Aug-2009 — DeviceVM, maker of the award-winning Splashtop® instant-on platform, today announced the appointment of Cliff Miller to the newly created position of Chief Strategy Officer. Miller will be responsible for corporate development and strategic customer and partner relationships.

Cliff Miller is widely recognized for his role in commercializing Linux in Asia. As the founder and CEO of TurboLinux, Miller created a leading platform for enterprise computing in Japan and China.

The item above is from the 28th of August, but it seems to go back a few months, as far back as June. There are even prior observations. Here is the DeviceVM page.

“Microsoft has not signed any such patent deal in about 2 years. Leaving them behind would be very helpful indeed.”Is TurboLinux falling apart after its deal with Microsoft? Either way, this is one route to having Microsoft’s FUD squashed for good. Microsoft has not signed any such patent deal in about 2 years. Leaving them behind would be very helpful indeed.

TurboLinux is not very lively. There is hardly any news in their Web site at the moment. 5 news items span a period of 2 years and 40% of these is about the love affair with Microsoft. The flagship product at the moment — the one which appears at the front page — is about Windows. It says in the accompanying press release: “Because all users are unified under a single management scheme, business controls and compliance can be better adhered to, and because of the partnership between Turbolinux and Microsoft in jointly developing this new software with explicit patent permission, a safe and secure mixed Turbolinux and Microsoft Windows environment can be provided.

Thank goodness for the “explicit patent permission”. It must mean that horrible things would happen without it, so only Turbolinux is the “approved” vendor. Novell has harnessed the same type of spiel.

“Now [Novell is] little better than a branch of Microsoft”

LinuxToday Managing Editor

I'm Linux

Microsoft/Waggener Edstrom Vista 7 Laptop Giveaways Still Paying Off

Posted in Google, Microsoft, Vista 7, Windows at 4:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

House gift

Summary: The Register lets Microsoft evangelists write the news and reporters in general show their sheer bias

IT HAS been almost a year since Waggener Edstrom gave Vista 7 laptops to people who were fond of Microsoft. The intention was to generate positive coverage and set the tone for future debates about this incarnation of Windows Vista.

One of the recipients of these expensive laptops was Tim Anderson, whose writings about Windows are always positive. Putting it plainly, he’s a “Microsoft guy”. He also writes for The Register, which changed a lot since signing that deal with Microsoft. His colleague Gavin Clarke, for example, writes a lot about Microsoft products and even does an audiocast about it (with Mary Jo Foley). Many have argued that The Register changed dramatically after those engagements with Microsoft, but we all digress, eventually.

“The intention was to generate positive coverage and set the tone for future debates about this incarnation of Windows Vista.”The Register has just published this article from Tim Anderson, which is no faint praise of Microsoft’s next operating system that Anderson was granted access to ahead of everyone. One of our readers called it a “puff piece on Windows 7 Snow Leopard.”

“Is the delay with Windows 7 anything to do with it being a buggy first version,” asks this reader. “The whole tone of this advert er… article smacks of nothing but me-too-ism. The not-out-yet Windows 7 is as good-as Snow Leopard and if W7 doesn’t impress then blame the OEMs… there… didn’t take as long to say…”

To quote from this article/advert:

Windows works better when properly managed, which is why a skilled business user gets a better experience than the hapless crapware-laden consumer

“Yet more blame the OEMs/endusers waffle… shame on you El Reg,” remarks the reader, who is a long time follower of The Register.

Anderson continues:

Malware is also a factor, since Windows is by far the most popular target

The translation of this, argues our reader, is that “Malware isn’t caused by any intrinsic defects in the Operating System.”

“Could have been piped in directly from Redmond,” he adds. “Why not just label this whole thing ADVERTISING?”

The whole thing makes The Register somewhat self contradictory. Yesterday from The Register: “MS warns of forced Messenger update”

Microsoft has outlined plans to push a mandatory Windows Live Messenger upgrade in order to plug a security hole related to a vulnerable code library.

From The Register (two days go): “Malware thrown on California bush fires”

From The Register (yesterday): “Microsoft confirms IIS bug gives complete server control”

From The Register (today): “Microsoft rejects call to fix SQL password-exposure risk”

Microsoft is butting heads with a company that provides software for database security over a weakness in SQL Server that can expose user passwords to anyone with administrative access to the program.

Yes, Microsoft really takes security seriously. Really.

Anderson would also love us to believe that the operating system is secure and it’s everyone else’s fault if it is not. Well, does it not matter that Vista 7 has already been shown to be critically flawed, e.g. in:

Vista 7 was also found to be vulnerable less than a month ago (“critical”). These are just a handful of examples, so there are more.

According to today’s report from Heise, the “cost to council of computers [is] crippled by viral infection.”

It seems local government in the UK still has not learned how to maintain effective IT security or to control the costs when things go wrong. A story published today (3rd of September) in the Evening Standard newspaper reveals that the true cost of a crippling infection of Tory run Ealing Council’s IT systems which occurred back in May, is only now starting to emerge.

The cost of Microsoft’s insecurities may all in all exceed trillions of dollars, far more than Microsoft has ever made in revenue (even combined).

From The Register today we also learn that the publication is concerned about writers who are influenced by schwag. “Beware evangelists,” alerts the headline.

In a way, the easiest ones to deal with are those that have ‘Evangelist’ printed on their business cards. They’re being paid by someone to persuade others of the folly of their ways. You’ll find these folk in many major IT companies. Others are not so obvious. Perhaps a company has plied them with gifts or other, more subtle, bribes. Recently I was talking with a Toyota (non-employee) iQ evangelist. Turns out she’d ‘won’ the car for a six month trial, in exchange for blogs and other social media outreach. Others are just total believers in ‘the cause’ simply because it makes sense to them within their own frame of reference.

The hypocrites. Right there we’ve shown how reviewers of Vista 7 at The Register are recipients of expensive computers (not just an operating system, which is the actual product to review). If that’s the standard maintained by The Register, then its status deserves to diminish.

“They are stupid enough just to mention that “GMail was down” without further investigation.”
      –Tony Manco
One of our contributors, Tony Manco, said today: “I’m tired of reading s**t from these “pseudo-journalists” repeating the same bulls**t over and over again about GMail. They are stupid enough just to mention that “GMail was down” without further investigation. Only the web interface was down, IMAP and POP where always online… why do these “pseudo-journalists” insist that GMail is only the Web interface?”

We wrote about this before [1, 2] because whenever there is a small Google glitch, enormous coverage in the press is to be expected. The same standards are not being applied to other companies and this is quite likely part of the FUD against SaaS in general.

“Two security researchers have developed a new technique that essentially bypasses all of the memory protection safeguards in the Windows Vista operating system…”

Dennis Fisher, August 7th, 2008

“Acer and Intel, for example, are already complaining that Windows 7 Starter Edition simply won’t sell.”

Source

Links 03/09/2009: A Lot from Red Hat Summit

Posted in News Roundup at 3:37 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Why Linux does not look like Windows

    A lot of people agree on the fact that Microsoft copied the MacOS interface when creating Windows. Does Windows look exactly like MacOS? Absolutely not, if it did you can bet that Apple’s lawyers would quickly have sent cease and desist letters to Redmond. The same is true for Linux: if a distribution copied the Windows interface to the point that users could be confused in believing that the Linux distribution actually was Windows, that distribution would quickly be taken to court. Remember the story of Lindows? In that case it was only a name!

  • Linutop upgrades Linux micro-PC line

    Simply dubbed the Linutop 3, the new machine incorporates a VIA C7 processor running at 1GHz. It has 1GB of DDR 2 memory, expandable to 2GB, and 2GB of solid-state storage. Not enough, you think? You can add more using any of the PC’s six USB ports, and there’s a pair of Sata connectors inside.

  • Linux Gazette September 2009 (#166)

    Linux Gazette September 2009 (#166) is out. Highlights include:

    * Away Mission: VMware World, Digital ID World and Intel Developer Forum, by Howard Dyckoff

    * Linux Layer 8 Security, by Lisa Kachold
    Taking off the Blinders, or Looking for Proof after Suspicion

    * Using Linux to Teach Kids How to Program, 10 Years Later (Part I), by Anderson Silva

    * Internet Radio Router, by Dr. Volker Ziemann

    * XKCD, by Randall Munroe

    * Doomed to Obscurity, by Pete Trbovich

  • Should the Gates Foundation support Mac, Linux PCs

    Let me tell you a little story about the imbalance of computer platforms in public libraries. The year was 2005. Fairfax County Public Libraries, in Fairfax, Virginia, started offering free audiobook downloads in Windows Media Audio (WMA) file format. These audiobooks could not be heard on any Linux computer, Macintosh computer, or iPod. Not only were the audiobooks in WMA format, they were under DRM (Digital Rights Management.) So if you happened to be blind and you owned an iPod, you could not listen to these audiobooks. Then again, blind people don’t need to listen to audiobooks, right?

    I engaged in a friendly dialogue with the folks in the Fairfax County Public Libraries, who insisted that these audio files could play on Macintosh computers. These audio files most decidedly could not play on Macs. I know. I’ve spent about 20 years of my life earning a living as a Mac trainer and consultant.

  • Hunt for the perfect Operating System

    I took all of 10minutes to get this bad boy installed on the laptop and another 5 to get the resolution right and codes installed. In 1 hour this OS was merrily running with perfection. With a rich creamy blend of brown and red, Ubuntu is my perfect Operating System.

  • 64-Bit Upgrade by Way of Open Source Isn’t Bump-Free

    All of the drivers I need for my machines either come bundled with the Ubuntu install disk or sit waiting to be fetched and installed from Ubuntu’s networked software repositories. Most of these drivers are maintained within the Linux kernel project—an organizational structure that’s helped to smooth the 64-bit migration path.

    What’s more, Linux has a rather long history with the x86-64 architecture. The first x86-64 OS that I reviewed was SUSE Linux Enterprise Server 8, which hit the streets in the first half of 2003, some two years before Microsoft took up the platform.

  • Guru Tips For The Linux Road Warrior

    As companies fish around for cost-saving ways to work, your prospect of a working in a virtual office, could become a possibility. You may be searching for a new job, need to get out of the house to stay sane and know that a cool Linux laptop will always draw attention. Or, you might be an extreme Linux laptop user that just can’t stand the thought of going on vacation, without taking a penguin machine along.

  • Kernel Space

    • Con Kolivas Introduces New BFS Scheduler

      After two years deep into Linux, the Australian Con Kolivas has emerged with a new scheduler that above all should provide significantly better performance on dual and quad processors.

    • Comparing windows and Linux hardware management.

      What this means is that with windows being manufacturer specific every different piece of hardware needs to have a new driver installed. With Linux being chipset specific only different chipsets need to use different drivers. This is why Linux advocates state that Linux supports more hardware out of the box than what windows does. It also makes for a more stable and easy to maintain system.

  • Applications

    • Make your own Wayback Machine or Time Machine in GNU/Linux with rsnapshot

      A good backup system can help you recover from a lot of different kinds of situations: a botched upgrade (requiring re-installation), a hard drive crash, or even thumb-fingered users deleting the wrong file. In practice, though I’ve experienced all of these, it’s the last sort of problem that causes me the most pain. Sometimes you just wish you could go back a few days in time and grab that file. What you want is something like the Internet Archive’s “Wayback Machine”, but for your own system. Here’s how to set one up using the rsnapshot package (included in the Debian and Ubuntu distributions).

    • The Best Image Viewers For Ubuntu

      For anyone looking for features > performance, Gthumb is the sane choice.

      For those wanting to just view pictures quickly, ViewNior’s speed makes it the best choice.

      For an all-rounder Eye of Gnome has it just about right.

    • A Video Editor that Just Works

      So, thanks to Pitivi I now have a new screencast up on the site called Ubuntu Dual Boot Install.

    • CrossOver Games 8.0, Now With Zombie-Plague Protection

      It’s been a while since CodeWeavers updated CrossOver Games and today’s release of version 8.0 is a doozy. If you’re not familiar with CrossOver Games 8.0, it’s a great option for anyone who want to run their Windows-based games on an Intel OS X Mac or Linux PC. It supports hot games like World of Warcraft, Call of Duty 2, Grand Theft Auto2, and a whole lot more.

    • 10 Linux file managers worth checking out

      Most users take their file managers for granted. It’s there, it does its job, and that’s all they care about. But to Linux users, the file manager is as close to their hearts as their text editor. There is a reason for this: With the Linux operating system, and the various desktops, there are quite a few file managers. Each has standard as well as unique features. In fact, there are so many file managers, and so many unique features, it’s time someone listed 10 of the best choices. See if one of these file managers meets (or surpasses) your needs.

    • Web Browsers

      • Opera 10 – A first look at this fabulous web browser

        Opera 10 has been released. This release of Opera sports a number of alluring, new features, many of them not seen in any of its contenders. The enhancements to look out for in Opera 10 are as follows.

      • Google Chrome: one year on

        When Google unveiled the beta of its Chrome browser one year ago today, there were two explanations for its appearance. The official reason, as stated by Google in the official blog, was that “the web gets better with more options and innovation. Google Chrome is another option, and we hope it contributes to making the web even better.”

  • Distributions

    • Vixta Linux 2009.7

      Suitable For: Distro hoppers mainly. Windows users new to Linux would be better served by starting out with Linux Mint instead of Vixta.
      Summary: Vixta is an interesting curiosity that will amuse distro hoppers for a few minutes.

    • Slackware

      • Slackware 13.0

        Slackware has always been a distro that I’m not terribly fond of. I don’t like how difficult it is to set things up. This isn’t because I particularly mind editing config files, its because I want to be doing it on my terms and not because I have to.

      • Slackware 13.0

        Discounting the resolution problem, Slack 13 didn’t give me any trouble to speak of. The absence of any sort of automated software handler on the level of Apt or Yum keeps me from using it as a daily desktop, but that might not be a problem for some.

      • Interview with Eric Hameleers: Why You Should Try Slackware

        The popular distribution has just announced the availability of version 13.0, its latest release. There are many improvements in this release, including the major upgrade from KDE 3.x to 4.x, however perhaps the biggest is an official port to 64-bit. That’s right, Slackware, one of the very first Linux distributions, is one of the last to go 64-bit. What has taken so long to do so?

    • Red Hat Family

    • Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu certified on the latest HP ProLiant G6 Servers

        More good news for users of Ubuntu Server on HP ProLiant hardware – the ‘HP ProLiant Support Pack for Ubuntu’ is now available for 9.04, with lots of management agents and drivers to make life easier for you.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • 16TB mini-tower uses Linux-ready SAN protocol

      Coraid’s EtherDrive appliances run the Plan9 real-time operating system (OS), but Linux servers can access their storage-area network (SAN) data via drivers for the company’s open SAN protocol, AoE. According to a Coraid spokesperson, “Linux users enjoy native multi-pathing and all of the great tools and features available to take advantage of low-cost AoE based storage.”

    • Multimedia SoC gains Linux development stack

      The Xtensiv application development environment enables developers to “transform their products from standard simple video rendering devices to fully networked multimedia gateways,” says Vixs. Its first Xtensiv customer is said to be Hitachi, which used the software to develop its XCode 3290-based HD Flat Panel TV Recorder, says the Toronto-based fabless semiconductor company.

    • AMC board gains Linux development platform

      Embedded Planet has announced a Linux BSP and development environment, created by Timesys Corp., for its PowerPC-based EP8572A Advanced Mezzanine Card (AMC) networking board. The board offers dual-core Freescale MPC8572 processors, dual, AMC-compliant gigabit Ethernet ports, and ships in various Serial RapidIO and PCI Express configurations.

    • Embedded web server slims down, speeds up

      Sponsored by Embedthis Software, which also offers commercial support and licenses for Appweb, the lightweight web server is licensed under GPLv2. The embedded web server has long supported Linux, and has previously been referred to by lead developer Michael O’Brien (who also developed the GoAhead web server) as a “Mini-Apache”.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • The best netbook ever?

        Lenovo offers a few S10 netbooks; the S10e is simply targeted at educational deployments. Like every other netbook on the market, it’s no speed demon. With a 3-cell battery, it won’t win any battery-life awards either. I’m pushing 3 hours under moderate usage. However, that same 3-cell battery puts the sleek little netbook at 2.6 pounds with the lightweight power adapter.

  • Audio

    • Open Source Karaoke Game Hits the Right Notes

      Performous isn’t just an app that displays song lyrics, it’s actually a teaching tool that can help you improve your singing voice. It helps correct your pitch (even in very noisy environments), displays musical notes onscreen as you warble, and awards you performance points for hitting all the right notes (octaves don’t count).

    • Simple, Fast, and Geeky Console-based Audio Players for Linux

      To those of you who are new to Linux, you may not know that you can use the shell terminal to do some fun stuff like play games, watch Star Wars, and even browse the web. You can even blast your favorite music with it, which I will be showing you how.

    • Amarok 2.2 – Reloaded, revamped, rethinked, reeverything!

      Also, thanks to the new tagging/indexing system that the amarokers developed, each song has its own unique identifier inside the tag, so if you move your music around, amarok WILL recognize it and hunt it down.

    • Audiocast

      • Podcast Season 1 Episode 16

        In this episode: Nokia announces a new Linux handset, Sony drops Linux support from its new Playstation 3 console and Google creates a 64-bit version of its Chrome browser. Listen to the results of our two weeks with text-mode challenge and we ask whether we should be more zealous when promoting Linux and open source.

      • Linux Outlaws 109 – Saturday Light Live

        Topics this week include: UK Two Strikes law, Nokia N900, Microsoft sucks at Photoshop, a KDE 4.3 review, a lot of pirate news and much more.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Free Software economics for Indigenous Nations

    Free software underpins not just the technological foundations of the global Internet, but also the financial success of even large public corporations. Examples of this include IBM, who claims to make over $1 billion in revenue annually through free software, and RedHat (rhat), which is a publicly traded company that develops and sells free software for enterprise uses. But while free software scales even to sustain very large businesses, it also enables individuals and much smaller and entirely autonomous entities to successfully economically participate, and often with very minimal startup costs.

  • Murphy’s Law: Open-Source Should Go Unrewarded

    Why do open-source programs win awards? Or, rather, what is it about open-source that makes us so prone to dishing out accolades–as if the very nature of a program being open-source somehow makes it indistinguishable from any other common application you can use.

    [...]

    It almost sounds like common sense. When throwing awards into the open-source community like bread to a flock of ducks, don’t just give a single duck all the bread. Stop throwing up generic awards like “Best Open-Source Instant Messenger,” because that means little compared to the ways a program has succeeded in the critical areas that make open-source unique. And, seriously, let’s save the accolades for groups or companies that embrace the “open” part of the phrase instead of those that find clever workarounds to sell more paid-for versions of the programs. Maybe that can be an award in itself: Best Licensing Workaround.

  • Redis: Lightweight key/value Store That Goes the Extra Mile

    MySQL lies at the other end of the spectrum. It has a rich query language and support for all sorts of server-side processing on the data. So when you combine the two, your app has to know it’s talking to both and deal with coordinating data changes between the cache and the back-end server.

Leftovers

  • The EU is worried about the Oracle Sun deal

    IT LOOKS LIKE ORACLE is not going to get an easy ride from european regulators over its purchase of Sun, which the EU Competition Commission thinks could be bad for open sauce.

  • DRM

    • Is The Kindle’s Antisocial Nature Holding It Back?

      This point made me realize why I have so little interest in a Kindle. You can’t do much with the content on it. It’s delivered to you in that old “we’re the content creators, you’re the content recipient” method. You can annotate it for yourself, but it’s not social at all.

    • Kindle Hacking: It’s a “lovely little Linux box”

      I took this photo of a Kindle 2 hacked by Jesse Vincent at Foo Camp this past weekend. Apparently, aside from being a popular e-book reader, the Kindle is like Lego for Linux geeks.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Jason Mraz Listens To His Fans In Picking ‘I’m Yours’ As A Hit Single

      We just wrote about the rather insane process by which major record labels go through to pick which songs will be the “single” they promote off of an album. We focused on all the “protections” the labels try to build in to keep the songs from leaking while the execs make this wise decision — but there’s a separate issue as well: why is it that these execs are really the best at picking the hit single? The folks behind the “New Rockstar Philosophy” book point us to an article talking about Jason Mraz’s hit song “I’m Yours,” which you’ve almost certainly heard unless you live on a deserted island (if not, it’s on YouTube of course). It’s pretty catchy — but the key point raised by the link above is that Mraz apparently didn’t keep the song hidden and locked up until some bright execs could figure out the hit single (though, yes, he’s been on a major label for years…)

    • For One Movie, Piracy Is a Positive

      “X’s and O’s,” a 93-minute feature directed by Kedar Korde on a budget of $850,000, was self-distributed on Amazon in June. The response: Almost none.

      Then someone pirated it onto the Internet via the file-sharing service BitTorrent. The film started to get noticed in an underground way, with an estimated 150,000 people watching downloads in one week, the filmmakers estimate. It also started climbing the rankings on the Internet Movie Database.

    • Constitutionality Of The Copyright Royalty Board To Finally Get Tested In Court

      Last year, we noted that, it seemed clear that the Copyright Royalty Board was unconstitutional. This was due to a technical legal process change a few years ago (which also impacted the patent appeals board). Still, I noted that this probably wasn’t a huge deal, because even if the CRB were found to be directed by improperly chosen judges, it would likely be “corrected” quickly by having the President (or a dept head) “reappoint” those same judges.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

William Li Wan, Manager of Sun Microsystems Sun China Engineering Institute 04 (2004)

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

Patents Roundup: Patent Propaganda from the BBC, IBM in the Shadows, and Early Mistakes from David Kappos

Posted in Apple, Deception, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Patents at 9:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Propaganda

Summary: The BBC serves a familiar agenda, Microsoft hype observed, USPTO heads the wrong way, and IBM lurks inside the Linux Foundation

THERE is a lot to go through today because Microsoft is stepping up efforts to spread software patents. We shall start by pointing out that Microsoft’s darling [1, 2, 3, 4], the BBC, is spreading patent propaganda with words like “inventor” and the classic example of a “poor” victim (not the monopolies which actually leverage patents to block small companies).

Yesterday alone, the BBC published not one but two articles that glamourise and encourage stronger patent enforcement and broader scope. The first such article states:

Intellectual property rights are both a good thing and a potential obstacle. Imagine you’ve got a great idea, but part of the idea conflicts with someone’s patent. You can propose a licence, but in a lot of cases it can be very difficult to secure the rights for a long period and at a reasonable rate.

The second article is almost worse because it refers to “stealing” of ideas, which obviously cannot be stolen, by definition. It states:

A major British inventor is calling for a change in the law to strengthen protection against those who try to steal ideas.

The Register (also UK-based) has already highlighted this propaganda from the BBC:

The inventor of the wind-up radio is calling on the UK government to toughen its stance on patent law, by making intellectual property theft a criminal offence.

A reader of ours from the UK states that “Patent law and criminal law are two (IMO) completely different things, as is copyright theft. In respect of the latter, the term theft IMO does not apply since [...] According to Sec(1) Theft Act – “To dishonestly appropriate property belonging to the other with the intention of permanently depriving the other of it.” Since there is no permanent deprivation of “property” (in this case data), there is no theft….IMO [...] the copyright theft act deals with the “sharing” of the work and the deprivation would be loss of income, that’s why the separate offence was created…. the point I was making was Copyright “Theft” is a bad choice of words since theft as outlined in Sec(1) does not IMO apply as per definition….in the case of copyright theft. It is worth noting, that file sharing is what makes the offence complete and the mere act of downloading would (IMO) have a civil remedy not a criminal one if no sharing was taking place although this is all open to argument and interpretation and is merely my interpretation of the criminal side of the copyright laws….”

There is actually a lot more Microsoft advertising in the BBC this week, as is the case most of the time. Maggie Shiels [1, 2] is at it again, advertising Vista 7 and citing other Microsoft shills for corroboration:

Ina Fried of CNET, who has covered Microsoft for over five years, said this issue has, in the past, been something of a hurdle for Microsoft and Intel.

Shiels and Fried make a good pair that seems like Microsoft PR masqueraded as reporters. This is based on a pattern observed long ago — a pattern that endlessly persists. Sarcastically, says one of our British readers, “maybe the clue is in her name, Maggie Shills…..yep, she does. Names aside, yeah it’s pretty blatant again — links to the windows 7 pre sales, like the other Windows 7 slog posts they do. The keywords are a thing too, in pro-Microsoft posts, there’s LOTS of Microsoft keywords, the post is littered with them, which makes them great consumption for the spiders, yet when it’s stories which are negative, Microsoft keywords are hardly mentioned, except at the end of the peice as the knight in silver armour coming in to offer customers advice on how to fix the issue under their terms. It’d be funny if it was a normal slog site. What it does do is make a mockery of the BBC’s claims of “independent high-quality journalism”.”

Speaking of Microsoft hype in the press, there is more sentimental blackmail [1, 2] from this company right now and Apple too is hyping things up (unrelated to this, it has connections with AstroTurf agencies). According to the following review from Ars Technica, Snow Leopard represents a development stagnation at Apple. Here’s the part which says:

Many of these same developers applauded the “150+ new features” in Tiger and the “300 new features” in Leopard at past WWDCs. Now they were applauding zero new features for Snow Leopard? What explains this?

There is even a photo.

Since we mentioned AstroTurfing, worth mentioning is also this update regarding Radian6, which we wrote about the other day.

After being angered by yet another Comcast f**kup that led to me being W.O.I. (With Out Internet) for over nine hours one day last week, I noticed that within the next day, a Comcast “representative” under the pseudonym of “Melissa Mendoza” had commented on the post with links to their “support” email address.

As I’ve written about before, Microsoft and other large companies often use the services of large astroturfing agencies. Microsoft uses one called Visible Technologies and apparently Comcast uses one called Radian6.

Moving on to important patent issues, this report suggests that China’s patent system is imploding, just as people predicted. It was a volcano of lawsuits waiting to erupt.

When France’s Schneider Electric faced a patent battle in a Chinese court recently it had reason to feel confident. It thought it had a solid prior art case for invalidating the patent being used against it by Chinese firm Chint, and foreign companies win 95% of patent cases in the Chinese courts.

As Masnick puts it, “Careful What You Ask For: China’s Patent System Causing Trouble.”

All those foreign nations who kept pushing China to build up its own patent system and learn to “respect intellectual property” may soon be regretting that, as they’re suddenly blocked out of the Chinese market by Chinese firms who fast-tracked cheap utility patents themselves with little to no review. Be careful what you wish for.

The USPTO is not better off, but the approach taken to resolving the issue is totally misguided. A reader from Germany gave us a pointer to this document [PDF} ("fresh from Heise," as he put it). It is "only [the] interim rules," he stressed, "but still a good sign. See p. 3, section I.1 Step 1."

The USPTO is being harshly criticised elsewhere. David Kappos [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] uses the wrong yardstick to measure the success (or lack thereof) of this system and major delays are indicators of too wide a scope for patenting.

The other day we wrote about medical barriers caused by patents and Masnick appears to agree, adding that Kappos is "Suggesting They Want More Patents, Approved Faster." More patents?

Two separate stories concerning statements from those in charge of the patent system suggest that the new administration isn't about to help fix the problems in the patent system, but is eagerly looking to make them worse. It starts with new USPTO Director David Kappos, who some thought would recognize problems with the patent system from his years dealing with those problems at IBM. While IBM is a massive patent stockpiler, over the past few years it's at least indicated some recognition that the system is broken.

[...]

The real problem, which becomes evident in reading the article is that since the USPTO is funded based on patent application fees, it has every incentive in the world, as an institution, to approve more patents. The more patents it approves, the more applications it gets, which means more money as well.

Indeed, this sounds too greed-motivated. The EPO was accused of similar behaviour. To quote Richard Stallman, “Staff at the European Patent Office went on strike accusing the organization of corruption: specifically, stretching the standards for patents in order to make more money."

Tim Lee's warning against software patents has gotten Masnick's attention as well (because they know each other). The important points are being stressed again.

In the original piece, Tim also points out how software patents (contrary to the claims of some defenders of the system) unfairly tilt the balance of power to big companies -- the ones who can stockpile tons of patents to use as a weapon against infringement suits. It's the small companies who are left exposed.

It is worth repeating over and over again that experience suggests small companies are mostly victimised by the patent system. IBM's considerable role in OIN and the Linux Foundation is proof of this because IBM wants software patents and it wants to use them to increase its dominance/control in the area. According to this new exchange of ideas, IBM is partly behind the Linux Foundation's patent policy.

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Manny W Schecter <schecter@us.ibm.com>
Date: Thu, Sep 3, 2009 at 12:12 AM
Subject: Re: [priorart-discuss] No more software-patents in the us?
To: OSS and USPTO prior art discussions
<priorart-discuss@lists.linux-foundation.org>

Not exactly. You are citing interim guidelines from the USPTO which
are not binding law by their own admission. The USPTO has invited
public comment on the guidelines, and there will be plenty I'm sure.
The Bilski decision pending before the Supreme Court is what you
should be watching. A decision is expected 1H10.

Manny Schecter

From:
Jan Kechel <jan@kechel.de>
To: OSS and USPTO prior art discussions <priorart-discuss@lists.osdl.org>
Date: 09/02/2009 06:09 PM
Subject: [priorart-discuss] No more software-patents in the us?
Sent by: priorart-discuss-bounces@lists.linux-foundation.org
________________________________

-----BEGIN PGP SIGNED MESSAGE-----
Hash: RIPEMD160

Hi everybody,

I just found a nice article about changes in the USPTO, seems that there
are no more software patents until some other court stuff will be finished:

http://www.uspto.gov/web/offices/pac/dapp/opla/2009-08-25_interim_101_instructions.pdf

(see page 15)

My source (german:)

http://www.heise.de/newsticker/US-Patentamt-vergibt-vorerst-keine-reinen-Softwarepatente-mehr--/meldung/144681

claims that this is based on the following decision:

http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/opinions/07-1130.pdf

What do you people think about that?

cu,

jan

- --
publictimestamp.org/ptb/PTB-7047 ripemd128 2009-09-02 21:00:05
5DBB1B771C93BD9D613377AD58266747

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=XrKR
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The above shows the involvement of IBM staff. As we have shown before, IBM is part of this problem because it lies when arguing that software patents have been beneficial to Free software [1, 2]. They take away basic rights and then "donate" or sell them back to us. A lot of people are being fooled, but they don't have to.

"According to Software Magazine, last year we were the 92nd largest software company in the US. My perspective on software patents is simple: stop issuing software patents. Software patents should not exist." —Jerry Fiddler, Wind River Systems

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