IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: November 2nd, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 8:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


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Links 02/11/2009: New Distros Benchmark, Firefox 3.6 Beta

Posted in News Roundup at 8:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Linux Gazette: November 2009 (#168)

    # Mailbag
    # Talkback
    # 2-Cent Tips
    # News Bytes
    # A Short CGI Script for Passing 404s to Another Server
    # Away Mission – Upcoming in November ’09
    # Setting up a MySQL Cluster for your Linux desktop
    # A ‘revisited’ guide to GNU Screen
    # HelpDex
    # Ecol
    # XKCD

  • Linux in a Nutshell, 6th Edition

    I was going to swear that, with each successive edition of this book, the page count got larger and larger, but I checked, and it’s stayed almost the same over the last three editions. O’Reilly says that the 4th edition was 944 pages long, but the 5th and 6th editions (the 6th being the latest) are both 942 pages. When I got my review copy in the mail and opened the box, the book seemed larger than I expected for some reason.

  • How to set up dual boot
  • Revolutionary Technology for Highly Accurate Lightning Detection — Now Also Available on Linux®

    The central processing software for Vaisala’s lightning detection sensors is now available on a Linux® operating system. For the user, this means added flexibility, ease of use and lower ownership costs.

  • Thesaurus embraces the penguin

    VAR Thesaurus has donned its teachers cap to launch a range of Linux-based training courses.

    The courses are available in both public and unscheduled sessions to teach IT staff a range of Linux skills, ranging from the fundamentals to advanced administration and troubleshooting.

  • OnlineLinuxBackup.com adds Free Trial of Linux Backup Software

    Microlite BackupEDGE (available from OnlineLinuxBackup.com) has long been the industry leader in professional Linux Backup Software. Their extremely versatile, robust, and secure software has been protecting professional Linux installations for over 15 years. With functionality that rivals software costing 10 to 20 times as much, it’s no wonder more Linux servers are protected with BackupEDGE.

  • Skype To Provide Open-Source Linux Client

    There’s a new blog post on Skype.com entitled Skype open source. It’s officially confirmed that “an open source version of [the] Linux client [is] being developed.” This open-source client is part of some larger offering that supposedly will be coming down the pipe at Skype. These efforts will also help them get Skype adopted within Linux distributions and seeing Skype on other new platforms.

  • Server

    • 5 O’Clock Roundup: Sony still failing, Google jumps comparison ad train, Zuckerberg employee wears penguin outfit to work

      OK, who dressed as Mark Zuckerberg for Halloween? Click it for full size. That’s the real Zuckerberg at left in this photo being sent around the Internets, taking an important meeting at Facebook with an employee whose passion for Linux led him to dress as Tux the penguin on the day before Halloween.

    • Smart Cube Software Stacks for i, Linux Get Revved

      Remember the Smart Cube appliances for small business? Whatever happened to those? IBM launched these Power and X64 server appliances with some (but not a lot of fanfare) in the United States this past May running the i 6.1 and SUSE Linux 10 SP2, and then we never really heard much about these appliances again. As part of the Dynamic Infrastructure announcement blitz on October 20, IBM updated the software stacks at the heart of these appliances.

  • Kernel Space

    • Intel’s Special Driver For Poulsbo Uses Gallium3D

      Yesterday afternoon we ran a story on a new Linux driver for the Intel Poulsbo chipset, which right now is known for being notorious with its troubling Linux support. However, Intel apparently had been working on a new “special driver” that the Linux Foundation was showing off recently in Munich at a mobile development camp. Many details were not shared on this forthcoming driver, which reportedly will be released with Intel’s soon-to-be-out Moorestown platform, but this morning we have a surprising number of details on this “special driver” from Intel. Martin Mohring of the Linux Foundation, who was the one showing off the Poulsbo driver on the two Moblin netbooks from the videos shown yesterday, sent over some intriguing details to Phoronix this morning.

    • Intel Wants Servers to Have Open FCoE Inside

      Two years ago, Robert Love, a senior software engineer at Intel (NASDAQ: INTC), unveiled a new open source project called Open-FCoE to the Linux community (see Intel Opens Up FCoE).

  • Applications

    • XBMC Media Center

      Strangely, XBMC works less smoothly as a standalone product than an application on top of one of Linux distributions.

    • Scanning in Linux with iscan and XSane
    • Today, I say don’t bother

      No, what has me in a funk is really just the fact that most of the interview seemed to be spent asking what chance there is running Windows programs on Ubuntu, or Apple software on Ubuntu. The last question that I remember offhand was whether or not iTunes is available in Ubuntu.

    • Solang

      The feature list as written by Santanu several months ago. I am thinking this would be applicable for Solang on Karmic.

      * Paginated views for memory and speed efficiency (in git already)
      * Icon zooming in browser view (in git already)
      * Undoable delete feature for tags and photos (partially in git)
      * Undoable basic editing (flip/rotate/scale) (underway)
      * Batch editing of pictures (hopefully) (TBD)
      * An importer from flickr (Underway)
      * A basic exporter that exports selected photos to a directory (hopefully through a basic editing pipeline) (TBD)

    • Scribus for mathematical posters

      As you may already know, I presented a poster at a conference recently, and did the set up with Scribus, the texts with LaTeX with the Beamer and Beamerposter packages.

  • Games

    • Quake III, HD video demoed on netbooks with GMA 500 graphics, Moblin Linux

      Most netbooks released over the past year have shipped with Intel Atom N270/N280 processors and GMA 950 graphics. But a handful use a different chipset designed to provide longer battery life and enhanced graphics performance. While the Intel Atom Z520/Z530 processors are noticeably more sluggish than their N2xx counterparts, the GMA 500 graphics chipset shows some promise, and some netbooks with this chipset even include HDMI ports to output HD video to an external display.

  • KDE

    • KDE makes me feel so platt

      The teams have to translate at present 163711 strings. Lox Saxon (5) is at 92%, German (11) at 87%. There is a reason why Lower Saxony won’t make KDE4 in Low Saxon its National Desktop Environment for the public sector. Hardly anyone speaks it in the capital Hanover where according to certain legends the reference dialect of German (Standard German) is spoken, a city which ironically had been under English rule for quite some time.

    • K3B – Free CD/DVD burning tool for KDE Linux

      K3B is the official CD/DVD authoring tool for Linux KDE desktop. It allows you to create, burn, copy, CD’s and DVD’s. Create audio CD/DVD, Data discs perform disc-to-disc copies, it also includes a DVD ripping function.

    • Scripting Kate

      In my last blog I explained Kate’s scripting features in KDE 4.4. To better understand how scripting can be used let’s look at some use cases.

      * join lines: This feature request wants the action “join lines” to not join different paragraphs, i.e. not remove empty lines. We have not implemented this wish, as there are probably users who prefer the current behaviour. This request can be fixed by writing a small script that joins the lines according to the user’s wishes.

    • 5 System Administration Tools for KDE

      Keeping any computer system running can be some work. It would be nice if we never had to do any type of maintenance or troubleshooting, but no operating system has reached that point. Many desktop Linux users have server administration experience and are quite comfortable dropping to the command line and tinkering with their system. Not only do they know how to do this, it is the method that makes them comfortable.

  • Distributions

    • CentOS 5.4 vs. OpenSuSE 11.2 vs. Ubuntu 9.10 Benchmarks

      With the release of CentOS 5.4 last month to bring this community enterprise operating system on par with Red Hat Enterprise Linux 5.4, we decided it was a good time to see how the server / workstation performance between this new CentOS release compares to that of Ubuntu 9.10, which was released last week, and also how it performs up against the release candidate of OpenSuSE 11.2. In this article are these benchmarks.

    • Sabayon 5 GNOME review

      Sabayon is a Gentoo-based, multi-purpose, GNU/Linux distribution. The latest version is Sabayon 5, released October 2, 2009. Two iso images, Sabayon 5 GNOME and Sabayon 5 KDE, are available for download. This post is a review of the GNOME edition.

    • How to turn a Linux distribution LiveCD into a LiveUSB

      LiveCDs these days provide the simplest way to test a Linux distribution. Pop in the CD, reboot and then watch the distro’s default desktop unfold before you. With flash drives being relatively cheap these days, booting your favorite Linux distribution for a clean install from a USB seems to be an interesting option. And that is possible with one tool even if you’re distribution doesn’t already offer LiveUSB images for download – UNetbootin.

    • Mandriva Triage Team still needs your help

      If Triage Team is better and, then, faster triaging bugs, assigning them, handling them better… you will see that upcoming Mandriva releases will become even better, because assigning and handling reported bugs properly, will allow maintainers to get them faster and to be able to fix them sooner.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat, Inc. – SWOT Analysis – Aarkstore Enterprise

        Red Hat is a provider of open source solutions for Internet computing. The company provides custom engineering services to develop end-to-end software solutions primarily for use in the UNIX and Linux markets and also provides support and maintenance services for these software solutions.

      • The juice works.

        During the time before and following Beta release I actually took some of my limited spare time and found and filed some bugs. A couple ended up as duplicates, of course. Any time you have a Linux distribution with millions of users you’re bound to have a few people running into the same problem. Hopefully one of them takes the time to file a bug, knowing that will help developers track down the problem, and make life better for their fellow users. It’s easy to say, “Well, I don’t need to file this, because someone other than me will get around to it.” But of course, if everyone says that, then no one files the bug and nothing gets better.

    • Debian Family

      • Ubuntu Karmic Koala NBR on Asus EEE 901

        Very nice, very simple install with perfect results.

        Well done Ubuntu!

      • New Ubuntu version makes software installation easy

        One of new features of the latest version, Ubuntu 9.10, which might appeal to an average user, is the ease with which the software can be added and removed. Some users might have found this process difficult about Linux distributions generally. Ubuntu has been making improvements on this front over the years.

      • Ubuntu 9.10 Software Center: For better or worse

        The latest Ubuntu release is out, being used, and being praised and shot down at all points. So far, the vast majority of my experiences have been outstanding. The hardware recognition is tops, all of the interfaces are slick and stable, the boot time is getting faster and faster, many sound issues have been resolved, and software is just as easy to install as it has been in the past. Or is it?

      • Allmyapps application store now available for Ubuntu 9.10

        Ubuntu 9.10 users can now use allmyapps.com, the easiest PC setup solution which makes people lives easier when it comes to finding, installing and reinstalling their favorite desktop applications.

      • Installing Software from Ubuntu Software Center (Karmic Koala)
      • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 166

        Welcome to the Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter, Issue #166 for the week October 25th – October 31st, 2009. In this issue we cover: Ubuntu 9.10 released, Ubuntu Open Week, Ubuntu One Blog: File sync status update, Canonical Blog: Landscape 1.4 Adds UEC Support, Asia Oceania Membership Board – 27 Oct 09, New MOTU, Ubuntu LoCo News, Meet Francis Lacoste, Accessing Git, Subversion and Mercurial from Bazaar, Commenting on questions, The Planet, Full Circle Magazine #30, Ubuntu Rescue Remix, and much, much more!

      • Centrify: Ubuntu Server Edition 9.10 Meets Active Directory

        Frankly, I wish more software development firms raised their hands and pledged to support Ubuntu Server Edition 9.10 — but I suspect most Canonical software partners are waiting for Ubuntu Server Edition 10.04 (Lucid Lynx), a Long Term Support (LTS) release scheduled for April 2010.

      • Linux Theme Mockups for Firefox 4.0/3.7
      • I did the deed (yet again)

        Within an hour, the packages had been downloaded and I clicked the button to start the upgrade. Then, I went out with my daughter. When I got home, I found a dialog box asking me whether to keep or overwrite a configuration file related to the printing system (I kept it). After that, the upgrade finished in about 10 minutes and my laptop restarted.

      • Ubuntu 9.10 – First Impressions

        I really like it. It seems to boot much quicker and the new ATI driver really works better with my machine.

      • An overview of Ubuntu 9.10 variants

        The much-awaited Ubuntu 9.10 was released as scheduled last week. For the benefit of those readers who are new to the Linux world and who might be overwhelmed by the sheer number of available options, here is a brief recap of the official release line-up.

      • Kubuntu 9.10 – Karmic Koala

        I for this review I was running on an AMD 1.8ghz system with 512mb ram, NVIDIA Driver Version 173.14.20 (on a GeForce Fx 5200) so its a pretty old system. None the less it flew like an off the shelf modern PC.

      • Can the Karmic Koala Take on Win 7?

        The Karmic Koala is getting a warm reception among FOSS enthusiasts, but opinions are still strongly divided over whether this version of Ubuntu — or indeed, any Linux desktop OS — can win over mainstream computer users to any great extent. “You REALLY need to know what you are doing to make [Linux] ‘just work,’” says blogger hairyfeet. “Those people have already joined the team.”

      • New Ubuntu appliances from TurnKey

        TurnKey co-founder Liraz Siri has announced the availability of the 2009.10 release batch, which includes 40 new and updated appliances and support for Amazon EC2. TurnKey Linux is an open source project with the goal of developing a free virtual appliance library that, according to the developers, “features the very best server-oriented open source software”.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • JetCard 5400-w Embedded Linux PCI-104 Single Board Computer with -40-80℃ Operating Temperature for Efficient & Secure VPN Network Construction in Enhanced Industrial Control Applications!

      Korenix releases JetCard 5400-w Embedded Linux PCI-104 Single Board Computer with -40-80℃ Operating Temperature for Efficient & Secure VPN Network Construction in Enhanced Industrial Control Applications.

    • Touchscreen PC is designed for outdoor mounting

      Axiomtek has introduced a 12.1-inch touchscreen computer designed to be mounted outdoors, in kitchens, or onboard ships. The fanless GOT-812 includes a 1.6GHz Intel Atom processor, up to 2GB of RAM, two serial ports, gigabit Ethernet, and a PCI Express Mini Card slot, the company says.

    • CGL-ready ATCA system moves to 40Gbps

      RadiSys Corp. announced a fourth generation Carrier Grade Linux (CGL) platform for 4G wireless infrastructure that supports 40Gbps (40G) throughput. The RadiSys ATCA 4.0 initiative will offer an AdvancedTCA (ATCA) 40G chassis and 40G switch that are backward-compatible to its current 10G Promentum line of processing blades.

    • STB vendor spins $80 Netflix player

      Roku, Inc. announced two new models to join its $100 Linux-based Roku HD digital media player. The $80, DVD-quality Roku SD and the 802.11n-enabled $130 Roku HD-XR support streaming video playback from Netflix, Amazon Video On Demand, and MLB.TV, says the company.

    • Network appliance supports Core 2 Quad

      Win Enterprises announced a 1U network appliance that runs Linux and supports Intel’s Core 2 Quad processor.

    • Texas Instruments announces new low power IP camera reference design providing H.264 main profile 1080p at 30 frames per second and 30% performance boost

      Additionally, the IP camera reference design includes a complete Linux application software package to help customers differentiate their end camera.

    • Phones

      • ARM: multicore mobiles coming next year

        Speaking at a showcase of ARM-powered devices in central London – encompassing everything from the new Nokia N900 Linux smartphone to a remarkably thin prototype netbook – the company’s mobile segment manager, Laurence Bryant, told PC Pro that smartphone performance is set to take a considerable leap forward.

      • Palm Hires AMD/ATI Linux Core Engineer

        Another day, another high-profile outside hire for Palm Inc. Phoronix reports today that Australian native Matthew Tippett, engineering manager for Linux Core Engineering at AMD/ATI, will be joining Palm as their new head of Linux kernel development.

      • Nokia N900 Review

        Finally, the N900 runs Maemo, a Linux-based operating system that is backed by major players like Intel. Where does the Nokia N900 fit in the current smartphone landscape?

      • Android

        • The Less Than Free Business Model

          “That’s right; Google will pay you to use their mobile OS. I like to call this the “less than free” business model. This is a remarkable card to play. Because of its dominance in search, Google has ad rates that blow away the competition. To compete at an equally “less than free” price point, Symbian or Windows Mobile would need to subsidize. Double ouch!!

        • The Androids are coming … another Twitter?

          The Androids are coming, and you’ll need to watch out for them. I saw one on Wednesday, and it was lime green, with antennas and a kind of stocky build.

          Actually, it was the logo for the Android open-source operating systems for mobile phones.

          Android is going to become a household word in a very short period of time. It’ll join other newcomer phrases like Twitter and Facebook in our daily conversations.

        • Droid by Motorola mobile phone

          This is a fantastic phone, but would we personally choose it over the Hero? Not, if the Hero, as suggested by HTC, will be getting Android 2.0

        • Android Army Pumped for All-Out Attack on iPhone

          How could Google draft more customers into the Android army and diminish the iPhone’s market share? Focus on the iPhone’s weaknesses, of course. The iPhone’s lack of background-processing capability (i.e., the ability to run multiple third-party apps at once) could push multitasking professionals toward Android. And the notoriety of iPhone’s exclusive carrier in the United States, AT&T, could compel consumers to embrace Android phones carried by Verizon, which has a bigger network and a better reputation for service.

        • Freescale aims Android at embedded kit

          Freescale Semiconductor has begun taking orders for a Power Architecture development platform for Android-based products, opening a new category of embedded devices to Google’s open-source mobile operating system.

    • Sub-notebooks

Free Software/Open Source

  • FLOSS Weekly 93: Puppet

    Puppet, the framework and tool that allows you to manage large numbers of servers.

  • Eye and hair test

    At Blender conference I showed an animation of an eye. Because the textures are procedural we might be able to use this eye model to quickly bake high resolution textures for not so important characters. For our main characters I hope to actually model the iris for close ups, so that we get nice shadow casting. The eye movements are some 2.5 f-curve noise modifiers, only to get some life into the animation.

  • Fellowship interview with Leif-Jöran Olsson

    LJO: We had been working with sgml and later xml-technologies for a long time, annotating the corpus materials used in the research. We were using eXist-db in our work and wanted to contribute back. This resulted in an active involvement in the project. SQL databases are good for strictly regular or structured (the S in SQL) relational data. Xml on the contrary is all about hierarchy and sequence. This is the power of the information model. Making irregular relations and annotations of

  • Open Source Science? Or Distributed Science?

    I was asked in an interview recently about “open source science” and it got me thinking about the ways that, in the “open” communities of practice, we frequently over-simplify the realities of how software like GNU/Linux actually came to be. Open Source refers to a software worldview. It’s about software development, not a universal truth that can be easily exported. And it’s well worth unpacking the worldview to understand it, and then to look at the realities of open source software as they map – or more frequently do not map – to science.

  • Master of codes

    The Google Summer of Code (GSOC) is a popular programme that’s catching on among software techies and enthusiasts of Free Software.

    Sarath Lakshman, a fifth semester Computer Science student of the Model Engineering College, Kochi, has cleared the GSOC for a second time in 2009. “My project is named Pardusman. It is a custom GNU/Linux distro creator from the web. We have numerous variants of GNU/Linux for different purposes, these variants are called GNU/Linux distributions.

  • Application Development: 11 Apache Technologies that Have Changed Computing in the Last 10 Years

    The Apache Software Foundation turns 10 this year and will be celebrating this landmark milestone with the largest ApacheCon event in November. Although a completely volunteer organization, the ASF has helped create some of the most important technologies underpinning the modern Internet.

  • Open source software – its about opportunity

    There are partnerships to be had: vendors, consultants, and the community-at-large are ready to help you.

  • Relentless Advance Of Technology

    One major trend with the Internet is the open source environment. Open source software is where the original source code is made freely available and may be redistributed with or without modification. There are many examples such as Linux, SourceForge or WordPress. The speed and adaptability of the open source environment cannot be ignored.

  • NREL Releases Open-Source Live Solar Mapping Project

    The National Renewable Energy Laboratory has released The Open PV Mapping Project showing the progress of solar installations on private roofs from 2000 to (currently) now, beginning with a flurry of activity in California, then moving to Wyoming, of all places, and WIsconsin. Gradually the states turn yellow and then orange over time as they add more solar power.

  • Marketing materials from ILS vendor touches off a flurry of reaction

    Late last night, news of a document from SirsiDynix VP of Innovation Stephen Abram slamming open source library systems began circulating via Twitter. Within a day, it has drawn much commentary, both pointed and cautious, from those in the heated debate between open source and proprietary integrated library system (ILS) software.

  • AED Unveils Groundbreaking End-to-end Open-Source Solution For Mobile Data Collection

    GATHERdata™ can be applied anywhere in any sector—it is now being deployed in pilot implementations aimed at improving health and education programs in Liberia, Mexico, Nepal, Sri Lanka, and Uganda.

  • Project to encourage Free and Open Source Software use at school level

    There is a reason why the geek image has been stereotyped as a bespectacled IIT lad with a nervous smile on his face. Only the young have the time and the inclination to fiddle around with Operating System kernels and programme source codes just for the fun of it.

    To promote such curiosity-driven self-learning among the young and to encourage the use of Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) at the school level, the Centre for Development of Advanced Computing (C-DAC), Chennai, will be releasing an open source platform ‘EduBOSS’ soon.

  • BHU among top-10 in Google Summer of Code

    Two Indian institutions -the Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University (IT-BHU) and Birla Institute of Technology and Science (BITS) Pilani- are among the top-10 institutions worldwide in Google Summer of Code (GSoC)-2009.

    The GSoC is a global programme that offers student developers stipends to write code for various open source software projects. This annual programme awards stipends to hundreds of students who successfully complete a requested free software / open-source coding project during the summer.

  • ESR pressure made feminists host detractor’s code

    Pressure from open source luminary Eric S. Raymond led to geek feminists hosting code created by one of their detractors, which otherwise would have disappeared for good, a post on Raymond’s blog reveals.

  • CoPress Pushes Innovation, Shows Value of Open-Source Platforms

    Daniel Bachhuber used to look at his college newspaper’s Web site and think about how much better it could be. Frustrated by the limitations of DailyEmerald.com’s content management system, which was run by an outside company, Bachhuber started researching Drupal, Django and WordPress — platforms that would allow the site to have control over its content and source code.

  • Open Source is disruptive tech for developers

    We have a proven track record in contributing to the Open Source R&D, including significant contributions to projects such as Apache Web Services, OpenBRR, the Sahana Disaster Management project and OLPC. Our support to Sahana and OLPC projects has been part of our sustainability initiatives, which focus on making an impact in humanitarian and educational areas thereby helping to create a more digitally-inclusive society.

  • QuIC’s Rob Chandhok on why mobile open source matters to Qualcomm

    One potentially interesting announcement last week was the news that Qualcomm was setting up a subsidiary called Qualcomm Innovation Center (QuIC) to focus on open source mobile technology.

  • Aberdeen’s Suretec Telecom helps holiday dreams come true with open source call recording

    Aberdeen-based Suretec Telecom is in the business of supporting a company that makes holiday dreams come true. Specialising in tailor-made holidays, luxury hotels, unique tours and cruises, Dreamticket luxury holidays is a niche holiday provider to the UK travel market, and it prides itself on operating cost-effectively without ‘middle-men’ so it can keep its prices keen. And it’s based in Surrey.

  • 5 Free Linux Apps You Can’t Do Without

    Like a digital Swiss Army knife, these are the Linux utilities and tools that are so useful you won’t know how you ever did without them

  • My First Impressions of Google Wave

    A few weeks ago I received a Google Wave invitation from my friend David Knopf (after publicly begging for one in my post Hoping to Surf the Google Wave). Since then, I’ve had a chance to use it and I’ve seen the good, the bad and the ever-present potential of the tool. While it does have tremendous potential, I think some of my initial concerns as outlined in my post A Curmudgeonly Look at Google Wave, have proven true.

  • ApacheCon 2009 Free Live Stream

    The Apache Software Foundation (ASF) is holding ApacheCon US 2009 from November 2-6 in Oakland, California. The foundation for a free webserver is also celebrating its 10th birthday. In honor of this 10th birthday, the celebration includes three days of the conference program available as a FREE Live stream.

  • OpenOffice.org

  • Mozilla

    • Firefox 3.6 beta promises speed injection

      Mozilla pushed out a first beta version of Firefox 3.6 on Friday, ahead of a planned release by the end of the year.

      The delayed release promises improved JavaScript performance and faster load-up, addressing a sluggish start problem that has become an issue with recent builds of the open source browser. Firefox 3.6 will also be easier to customise as well as introducing the ability to natively display video in a full screen display.

    • Mozilla releases Firefox 3.6 Beta 1

      Following several delays, Mozilla has officially announced the availability of the first beta for version 3.6 of its open source Firefox web browser, code-named Namoroka. The development release is based on version 1.9.2 of the Gecko web rendering engine and includes a number of updates.

    • Mozilla unveils first Firefox 3.6 beta

      Mozilla late on Friday released the first beta of Firefox 3.6, a minor upgrade slated to wrap up later this year.

    • Opera Skin For Firefox

      Version 3.6 of the Firefox web browser introduces several new design options for theme creators that are not available in previous versions of the Internet browser including the latest official release version Firefox 3.5.4. One of the first themes to make use of this new features is the Operetta theme which is available as an experimental theme from the official Mozilla Firefox website.

    • What does your browser say about you? (2009 edition)

      Long, long time ago in a galaxy far, far away I posted the infamous article titled “What does your browser say about you?”. It got like 400 comments, got me on Digg, Reddit and crashed my server at least twice. Every once in a while I still get comments on it but these days they are mostly among the lines of:

      “Dude, Firefox 2.0 is ancient! What about Chrome and IE8?”

    • Web Open Font Format backed by Mozilla, type foundries

      Type designers and Web designers have reached a consensus on a format specification for embedding fonts on the Web. Mozilla is already including support for the font format in Firefox 3.6, and wide adoption could come sooner than many expected.

  • Business

    • Open-source CRM and ERP: New kids on the cloud

      When Nikon decided to merge and consolidate customer data from more than 25 disparate sources into one system, officials didn’t want the burden of maintaining it in-house, yet whatever they went with had to meet all their requirements and work picture-perfect.

  • Licensing

    • Send the GNU GPL to the Amazonia

      Amazon’s announcement that it is launching cloud-based MySQL services comes at a convenient time. It shows how money to Free Software development can come from unexpected sources, without a proprietary license appearing anywhere in the picture.

      This is not really good news for Free Software. However, Amazon gives us the best evidence that MySQL can be “monetized” by offering it in a Software As a Service setting. This can happen with GNU GPL licensed software and without receiving any special permission from the copyright holder, contradicting all claims that there is no viable way to fund development of a Free Software project without a dual license. The impatient reader can jump directly to the section where I deal with the cloud, but I invite you to follow all the argument.

    • Attacks on GPL suggest it is winning

      For the GPL and the FSF, the increasing vehemence of the attacks on it should signal that it’s doing something right. In fact, many “somethings” right.

  • Openness

    • Germany’s WAZ media – learning from bigger players and going open source

      Regional newspaper WAZ Media has learned to punch above its weight online by looking at what bigger publishers are doing digitally and seeking out free and open source software and platforms to use, explains the outgoing CEO of its new media Katharina Borchert.

    • What should open source do in a car?

      C|NET’s own Antuan Goodwin revealed yesterday Ford is looking to build an open source platform for its Sync services, its in-vehicle informatics interface. (Picture from C|NET.)

    • Paranormal Activity is User Generated Content!

      Crowd sourcing means the “delegation of a task to a large diffuse group usually without monetary compensation”. It has been used, for example, to create Wikipedia, the online encyclopedia and Linux, the operating system that is used on over 40% of the world’s servers.

  • Releases

    • So I heard you like data

      Released Mound Data Manager 0.4.0 final early this morning, just before the DST switch.

    • New tiny project: lddsafe

      Some days ago we could all read that “ldd”, a tool which prints shared library dependencies, should not be run on untrusted binaries. I read it first on Hacker News and later it hit Slashdot’s frontpage. In some operating systems, this is stated clearly in the man page for the program, while in others it’s not mentioned at all. I belonged to the camp that didn’t know about it and I was a bit surprised. I supposed ldd was doing its job by examining the binary file and not by running it setting some special environment variables.


  • Anti-vaccine fear versus science

    Amy Wallace’s Wired feature, “An Epidemic of Fear: How Panicked Parents Skipping Shots Endangers Us All” looks at the life and times of Paul Offit, vaccine inventor and advocate, and the anti-vaccine pseudo-science he battles as he attempts to convince parents not to give in to fear and disinformation, and to follow the science that will keep their kids safe.

  • District Judge Concludes E-mail Not Protected by Fourth Amendment (But See Correction)

    The issue in the case is whether the government must notify a person when the government obtains a search warrant to access the contents of the person’s e-mail account. Judge Mosman concludes that Rule 41 and 18 U.S.C. 2703(a) require the notice to be served on the ISP, not the account holder, as a statutory matter. He then rules that there is no constitutional requirement of notice to the account holder because the Fourth Amendment does not apply to the e-mails under the third-party doctrine.

  • FBI database error results in firing

    An error in a national criminal record database cost Eschol Amelia Studnitz her job.

  • 1,600 are suggested daily for FBI’s list

    An error in a national criminal record database cost Eschol Amelia Studnitz her job.

  • WWW

    • ICANN allows non-Latin domain names

      ICANN, the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, has approved the use of internationalised domain names (IDNs), web addresses made up of non-Latin characters, such as Chinese, Korean and Arabic and other languages.

    • Uganda: Why the Web Inventor is Visiting the Country

      Stern also says the Sir Tim Berners-Lee will meet stakeholders involved in the use of the Web in Uganda, grassroots developers, traditional participants in Linux User Group as an important category of people. The Linux User Group (LUG) of Uganda has set their next meeting in November in order to host Sir Tim Berners-Lee.

  • Finance

    • Default Are YOU Ready for the Next Crisis?

      Another conclusive hallmark is rising income inequality as the insiders manipulate economic policy for their enrichment at the expense of everyone else.

    • CIT: A Different Kind of Bankruptcy?

      Don’t hold your breath for the regulators to stop any of it, in fact, it appears as though bankruptcy is totally okay and somehow translates into being solvent, at least if that’s the criteria banks are using for lending these days.

    • Griffin Rebounding From 55 Percent Loss Builds Bank (Update1)

      Rohit D’Souza was on vacation with his family in India in May 2008 when he got a call from Ken Griffin, founder and chief executive officer of Citadel Investment Group LLC. Griffin wanted the banker, who had just quit his job as head of equity trading and sales at Merrill Lynch & Co., to help him do something no other hedge fund had ever tried.

    • Did Galleon Pay Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley for Front Running Info?

      The immediate question that comes to mind is: Were Morgan Stanley and Goldman Sachs providing “color” to Galleon on trades their other clients were making? Definitely sleazeball and unethical. OR are their computers somehow rigged with the exchanges so they see trades before other traders do? Definitely sleazeball and unethical.

    • Peterson: Huge Goldman Charitable Gift Needed to Calm Anger

      The billionaire philanthropist Peter G. Peterson contends that Goldman Sachs would have to donate “at least $1 billion” to charity to calm the public’s anger over the huge bonuses being paid to its employees.

    • Goldman Sachs’ PR effort paying off

      So how is Goldman Sachs’ (GS) media work progressing? Well, CEO Lloyd Blankfein is certainly doing its part. “Normally pretty reserved, Mr. Blankfein is on a charm blitz to set the record straight, including interviews, speeches and town halls,” reports the Globe and Mail.

    • Janet Tavakoli: Goldman’s Lies of Omission

      In my opinion, David Viniar’s (CFO of Goldman Sachs) comments in the fall of 2008 were a lie (see endnote), and for that matter, Lloyd Blankfein’s (CEO of Goldman Sachs) later comments to the Wall Street Journal were disingenuous. In the context of what was happening near the time of AIG’s implosion, the key question was “What is going on between Goldman and AIG?” Their rhetoric surrounding this issue is a deft dodge. They may claim they didn’t “technically” lie, but Goldman’s business exposure to AIG posed both credit risk and reputation risk. They seem to overlook elements of the former and put insufficient value on the latter.

    • How Goldman secretly bet on the U.S. housing crash

      In the 1980s and ’90s, Goldman Sachs Group ran a staid residential mortgage operation that simply bought and sold loans. But in 2001, the elite investment bank leaped aggressively into the burgeoning subprime securities market that was becoming a fountain of money for its rivals.

      That year, Goldman Sachs sold $8.7 billion in subprime bonds, a third of its business. In 2006 and 2007, it peddled more than $40 billion in securities backed by at least 200,000 risky home mortgages.

      Today, pension funds, insurance companies, labor unions and foreign financial institutions that bought those dicey mortgage securities are dealing with huge losses.

      A five-month investigation by McClatchy Washington Bureau correspondent Greg Gordon shows how Goldman Sachs sold these securities to unsuspecting buyers, used offshore tax havens to market them to financial institutions worldwide and benefited from key federal bailout decisions, at least two of which involved then-Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson, a former Goldman chief executive officer whose staff at Treasury included several other Goldman alumni.

    • “How Goldman secretly bet on the U.S. housing crash” (AIG as Bagholder Watch)

      McClatchy, the only major US news organization to question the Iraq war until is was obvious to all that it was a misguided exercise in neocon hubris, has started a series on Goldman’s famed “short subprime” exercise. While the timing and overall outline are not new (as to when and allegedly why the investment bank went short), it delves into some details that have heretofore not been examined, as to how much subprime paper it dumped onto investors during this period, whether this duplicity was permissible, and what sort of damage was visited on foolhardy borrowers.

    • Map of Goldman Sachs Employees Past and Present In

      This is the chart referred to in the post Goldman Sachs In Government – Government in Goldman Sachs. The link in the post allows the interactive drop downs and does expand on this one as shown.

    • Forget Galleon: What about Goldman’s ex-boss?

      It’s kind of amazing that with all the uproar over the Galleon business, nobody is making much hay over the recent revelations about the AIG bailouts, which make former Goldman chief and former New York Fed chairman Stephen Friedman look every bit as guilty of insider machinations as Raj Rajaratnam of the Galleon fund.

  • Internet/Censorship/Web Abuse/Rights

    • Brussels criticises UK on privacy

      The UK government has been accused of failing to protect citizens’ privacy by the European Commission.

      It said the government should have done more to guarantee online privacy when trials of a controversial ad-serving system were carried out in 2006.

    • Blackberry phones get eavesdropping spyware

      The application is called Phonesnoop and allows remote users to listen in on a Blackberry user’s surroundings. The spyware app uses standard Blackberry APIs to intercept incoming calls. Once the software is installed, a call from a trigger phone number will activate the listening feature through the phone’s built-in speakerphone feature to listen to everything that’s going on around the phone.

    • Petition to Obama government to disclose secret copyright treaty

      Obama’s administration has refused to disclose the drafts of ACTA on the grounds of “national security” (yes, really!), but we know from leaks and memos that it includes universal surveillance of the net; mandatory loss of Internet connections without trial for households where one member is accused of violating copyright; and a duty to search your laptop and personal devices at the border for infringing material.

    • FCC NOI Asks for Comments on Content Control

      The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) has released a Notice of Inquiry (NOI) seeking feedback and responses to the subject of the affect of electronic media on children and whether or not the Commission should have more power to wield authority.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • TalkTalk to fight net disconnection plan

      A major ISP has promised a court challenge to Government plans to allow the cutting off of internet connections used by people accused of illegal file sharing. TalkTalk said it will challenge the plans in the courts.

    • My Times editorial on British plan to cut relatives of accused infringers off from the net

      I have an op-ed in today’s Times about the British plan to disconnect people from the internet if someone in their home is accused — without proof — of infringing copyright, and how utterly unjust this is.

    • P2P software throttles itself

      P2P SOFTWARE OUTFIT Bit Torrent is about to be upgraded so that it can deal with attempts by ISPs to throttle traffic by throttling itself.

    • Swedish judge to Pirate Bay admins: shut down or face fines

      The founders of The Pirate Bay could face fines in Sweden if the popular torrent tracker remains online. A court has banned them from continuing to operate the site at the risk of hefty daily fines. The admins, however, are no longer in Sweden and claim that they are not involved with the website anymore.

    • Ignoring P2Pers costs music biz dear – survey

      A think tank survey into UK music fans suggests that timid major record companies, obsessed with “cannibalisation” and “substitution”, have spent a decade barking up the wrong tree.

      The Demos report, sponsored by Virgin Media, suggests file sharers aren’t the wreckers of civilization they’re painted to be – but failing to convert them into paying punters has cost the industry dear.

    • In Defense Of 1,000 True Fans – Part II – Matthew Ebel

      What I find most striking about this interview is the fact that Matthew makes 26.3% of his net income from just 40 hard- core fans.

      Imagine what it will be like for him when he gets to 1,000? The other thing that really stood out for me is the fact that an artist like Matthew (who is totally comfortable with Social Media and extremely Internet savvy) has very little idea what to do with analytics that he is gathering via Google Analytics, CrazyEgg.com, and Compete.com, as well as email stats via Blue Sky Factory.

LPC 2009: Wayland–A New Display Server for Linux

More Dubious Practices from the Gates Foundation

Posted in Bill Gates, Finance, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 11:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Little apple

Summary: Agricultural (GM), pharmaceutical and educational interests unspun, backed by some of the latest news

FOR those who are not familiar with the darker side of the Gates Foundation, background information is required. A lot of the press is owned by the same people who use it to glorify their deeds while omitting what deep down they know to be their real interests.

Recently there has been a lot of coverage about Bill Gates; it’s a lot to do with his patent games in Africa [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] (euphemism “green revolution”, as we found out a week ago), not just his tax-exempt Gates Foundation.

The Monsanto affair grows stronger as more and more money is getting pumped into its patent-based business. In the following new article we have found the term “green revolution” again (a revolution whereby impoverished populations become dependent on US patents) and Gates is said to be investing a billion dollar in this. It’s not a charity, it’s an investment, a business activity.

Worth more than $40 billion, Microsoft founder Bill Gates could buy the world a Big Mac. But he’s more interested in helping fund a new green revolution, and he’s telling the world it should be “greener than the first.”

It has nothing to do with green. Daringly enough, Gates denounces opposers of this “revolution”, calling them “environmentalists”. If this revolution is truly green, then how come “environmentalists” (as Bill Gates arrogantly calls them) oppose it so strongly? We gave some academic papers on this.

“Daringly enough, Gates denounces opposers of this “revolution”, calling them “environmentalists”.”Here is where it gets really infuriating. At the beginning of the year we showed that Bill and Melinda were using fabricated numbers and instructing governments to give taxpayers' money to companies Bill and Melinda were investing in. It is so obvious to see that it’s almost shocking that the press refuses to point this out. Associated Press (AP) even spins this in favour of Bill and Melinda using the headline “Bill Gates urges more spending on global health.”

What we’re not supposed to know is that by “global health” Gates refers to the very same pharmaceutical giants whose patents he invests billions of dollars in [1, 2, 3]. Mainstream sources like AP are using sob stories to make it look so benign and even benevolent. Reuters does no better; it sometimes seems as though the Gates Foundation — like Microsoft — relies a lot on marketing and PR. The “permissible” press unquestionably passes personal spin without delving into the real issues. That’s not investigative; it’s a disgrace. Only one major newspaper appears to have done its homework.

Here is another news article about how “Gates Foundation cash wields influence.”

The Gates Foundation is offering up to $250,000 apiece to states that want to apply for $5 billion in federal grants to help reform our nation’s school systems.


The Associated Press story noted that there is a joke going around that says the real secretary of education is Bill Gates. To us, that’s no joke.

Of course it’s not a joke. It’s an exaggeration, but in essence it is true that no-one perverts the education system more than Bill Gates. He even insults the intelligence of the US population in order to justify hiring people in other countries (or importing them), then paying them a lot less for a lot more. The Abramoff story is an eye-opening must-read because there are parallels.

Here is another new article which is rightly titled “School reform the Gates way”. Yes, that’s what they mean by “reform”. It’s a deform.

The Gates approach may be radical, but in Memphis and beyond the circumstances call for a non-traditional approach and as much innovation as the system can muster.

More intervention by Gates is being used to keep education captive. Education is what shapes tomorrow’s generation and Microsoft wants its share of the curriculum. Goldman Sachs, which we’ve mentioned a lot as of late [1, 2], does the same thing at the moment (while stealing money from the public). It is a PR move that also returns greater political influence and defense from criminalisation. For Goldman Sachs, to throw $200 million into education and receive several $billions in bailout money is basically to deceive the public, which essentially funds Goldman Sachs through debt. Is Goldman Sachs throwing 1% of the money it stole from the public back into the public? Of what benefit is Goldman Sachs to society then? Other robber barons have used precisely the same tricks for centuries in order to keep the masses whom they robbed off their backs.

On the face of it, the basic trick of the Gates Foundation (tax-exempt, money-generating business and public influence vehicle disguised as a “charity”) has an analogous new one in China, inspired directly by Gates. Check out this new article.

The assets to be transferred to the charity will mainly include stakes that Chen owns in publicly traded companies such as Tsingtao Beer, Yunnan Baiyao Group, and some stock from his own Newhuadu Industrial Group. These will altogether account for 45 percent of his total assets according to current market value, Chen said at a media briefing in Beijing yesterday.

Even beer is being invested in. Similarly, the Gates Foundation invests in alcohol, tobacco, and oil. That’s a fact.

In our previous post about the Gates Foundation and Microsoft in education we also mentioned the role of the United Nations (UN) staff, with whom Bill Gates tightens the relationship. UN staff is now literally hanging out in Bill Gates’ own mansion and the following new report reveals an important conflict of interests:

Microsoft’s Andrea Taylor Named University Trustee


Her parents attended BU. So did two uncles, her sister, and her former husband. Her mother’s papers are archived at the Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center. Now Andrea Taylor, director of North America Community Affairs for Microsoft Corporation and a delegate to four UN summits, is joining the University’s Board of Trustees.

Here we have another university that falls into Microsoft’s hands. Microsoft is among the decision makers, just like in the Open University [1, 2] which admitted Martin Bean. More interestingly in this case, Andrea Taylor is also a delegate (for Microsoft) at quite a lot of UN summits. Is Microsoft engaging in politics and diplomacy quite so openly?

Lastly, also regarding education, 'American EDGI' (or “Elevate America”, as Microsoft euphemistically calls it) has just come to Mississippi. We wrote about Mississippi yesterday because funny things happen there after the expensive settlement [1, 2]. Watch what Microsoft is doing there now:

Through Microsoft’s program, Elevate America, 19,200 vouchers for computer training will be given to Mississippians, regardless of their employment status, over the next 90 days.

“Elevate America” is an anti-GNU/Linux and anti-Free software push. Is Microsoft trying to prevent vouchers that it pays for from being redeemed as non-Microsoft products? Is it trying to buy the hearts of men, women, and children? Why Mississippi anyway? And more importantly, why now?

Response to The Guardian’s Boosting of Vista 7 (Including Transcript)

Posted in Apple, Deception, FUD, GNU/Linux, Google, Marketing, Microsoft, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 9:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Guardian logo (comical)

Summary: A detailed rebuttal to an audiocast from The Guardian which ought to have misguided many listeners

THE other day we accused The Guardian of spreading Microsoft propaganda (or allowing Microsoft to do so without challenge). We asked for someone amongst our readers to volunteer to produce a transcript and eventually we got one. “I tried to add the time stamps at intervals to make it easier to find things later,” she wrote.

Our volunteer is actually a regular contributor called wallclimber. “I was surprised to hear Ubuntu mentioned once by Charles (towards the end),” she wrote, “but not surprised that it was ignored thereafter by Jack, and absolutely no mention was made of GNU/Linux at all, ever.” We add commentary to the following transcript in order to make this use of content fair.

Tech Weekly: A history of Windows and Windows 7

We find out how Windows 7 came to life and look at the history of Windows, plus Charles Arthur and Jack Schofield on the prospects for the new OS.
The Guardian

Hello, and a very warm welcome to this week’s Guardian Tech Weekly

Like a hopelessly premature firework, we’ll be lighting the blue touchpaper and standing well back as we enjoy a stunning display of the latest news, views and reviews from the world of technology. My name is Susie Weaser and I’m joined this week by the Statesman of Cynicism, Charles Arthur, and the Nation’s favorite pipe-smoker, Jack Schofield.

Jack Schofield is actually known for his ‘fawning’ to Microsoft [1, 2, 3]. His pipe-smoking skills are a lot less relevant to a debate about technology.

Susie Weaser: Now Charles, your favorite Firework?

Charles: Any of the ones that don’t fly off and hit you in the face.

Susie Weaser: And Jack, your Firework of choice?

Jack: Roman Candles, I suppose.

Susie Weaser: I’ll be ensuring you stand far enough away from the bonfire of news in your flammable clothing, as well as ensuring you dispose of your sparkler of technological analysis in the proper fashion. Enough of “Facts-nology”? Yeah. Then on with the show…

1:03: Susie Weaser: “You can’t fail to have noticed that last week saw the launch of Windows 7, Microsoft’s latest operating system, it surpassed both Harry Potter, and ANY Dan Brown offering to become the biggest grossing pre-order put out in Amazon’s history. And demand was such that several High Street stores opened at midnight to satisfy their customer’s Need for New.

Susie forgot to mention that, as we pointed out earlier this morning, Microsoft had spent $300,000,000 on hyping up Vista 7. Did the publishers of Harry Potter spend $300,000,000 on marketing?

It’s not that people are so terribly excited about another service pack of Vista. Microsoft spent a lot of money creating this myth by bribing a lot people [1, 2, 3] and bullying dissenters.

1:25: However, to many, the biggest challenge Microsoft faced with this, was to undo the harm that previous version, Vista, had inflicted on its reputation. And to re-establish Microsoft as the dominating operating system in the ever-changing landscape, which now counts both Apple and Google as very serious competitors.”

Google? Where is GNU/Linux? Microsoft explicitly called GNU/Linux its #1 competitor. It has for years.

1:43: <—”I’m a PC” commercials are played here—>

1:58: One way they’ve found of addressing this has been to make it, if not future-proof, at least future compatible, making sure it will work seamlessly with the new generation of wholly touch-screen devices. Up until now they say that XP over Vista is now a very old operating system.

Touch-screens are not a new technology and they are a hardware feature going back to the eighties.

And, if you’ve seen the efforts, you’ll know they’ve also added several new features to make it easier to work with than Vista.

What would these be? Details, details. Please share. Be specific.

2:20: But, in order to understand where Microsoft are now, we need to take a look at where they’ve come from. Tech Weekly spoke to Laurence Painell, a Windows 7 UK product manager, Nick McGrath, Director of Commercial Market Strategy in the UK, and Julie Larson-Green, Vice President of Windows Experience.

“Windows Experience” is just a bunch of fluff going months back. We mentioned this here. Apple has a similar notion of “Mac experience”. It’s all PR and marketing.

2:37: My name is Nick McGrath and I’ve been with Microsoft now for 17 and 1/2 years. It’s always been called Windows, but if you put a copy of Windows version 1 next to a copy of Windows 7, you’d certainly see the evolution. I think the hardest thing you’d find is actually finding a computer that would run it.

The same can be said about any operating system. Today’s computers are several orders of magnitude faster; the same goes for storage capacity.

2:55: With Windows 1 you’re talking about a 16 bit computer. Either a black and white screen, or you may have even been fortunate to have a green and a slightly light green screen, some people had brown and orange. And that environment just did not meet consumer’s needs or business’ needs.

That’s not true. Maybe Windows did not suit them (it was behind the competition), but computers in general met many needs.

3:15: Most applications themselves were developed in isolation. You had a very specific application which was written in a very bespoke way, using a very bespoke development language. And this was a program which we brought out, which sat on top of MS-DOS, and in essence, it took people away from the command view interface and it introduced them to a graphical user interface.

3:41: And it was an environment that inherently had two problems. The first of those was flexibility; being able to deliver to the user what they expected, either in the business space, or the home space.

3:52: And the second one was very much around “Ease of Use” and it was really across those two different dynamics that we started off on the journey of Windows.

It ought to be added that many companies other than Microsoft were involved.

4:01: Hear Steve Ballmer launch Windows 1 in 1985.
4:05: <—Steve Ballmer Windows commercial is here—>

Steve Ballmer: “How much do YOU think this advanced operating environment is worth? WAIT just one minute before you answer! Now we can take this Ferrari and paste it right into Windows Write. NOW how much do you think Microsoft Windows is worth? DON’T ANSWER! Wait until you see Windows Write and Windows Paint all for just $99 dollars! That’s right! It’s 99 dollars! It’s an incredible value, but it’s true. It’s Windows from Microsoft! Order today!

4:32: (Nick McGrath speaks again): We introduced this amazing concept to the world, it was called the “GUI” – the Graphical User Interface.

Nope. Microsoft ‘stole’ the idea from other companies. Bill Gates is famously quoted as saying: “Hey, Steve, just because you broke into Xerox’s store before I did and took the TV doesn’t mean I can’t go in later and steal the stereo.”

4:39: Yes there were many organizations in the world that…who have built “windowing” style technologies. The GEM technology was one, certainly Apple with their first, the Macs that came out, the UNIX environment…uh…some of the graphical workstations that were built on technologies like Solaris, and so on and so forth…

5:00: Um, I think though, there is only one version…there is only one Windows.

5:06: We quickly evolved that, in 1987 we brought out Windows 2.0, and Windows 2.0 took the basis of Windows 1, and it built on top of it by introducing a thing called DDE, or Dynamic Data Exchange.

5:23: Now what that gave was the ability for one application to automatically talk to another application, which hitherto had not been simple or easy to actually do. The example here being the ability to have overlapping screens or windows.

5:35: We also introduced a software development kit. Which meant that, for third parties, people writing the software, and writing software for hardware for things like device drivers, there was a single developing kit that gave them the ability to be able to really get the most value out of Windows.

5:56: And it was really this basis that then we saw the entire independent software vendor community grow up around Windows…uh…um…which has exploded to where it is today.

6:06: [Ta-daaaa!] (narrator’s voice here): That was the sound that launched Windows 3 for millions more users as the next version of this system was launched in 1990. It brought with it icon groupings and important developments like the file and print managers. But as Windows became installed on many more computers, Microsoft then had to tackle the problem of how to get inexperienced users comfortable with using their machines.

6:30: (Nick McGrath speaks again) One of the biggest issues we had was teaching people how to use the mouse. Uh, and that’s where there was a product called Solitaire, it’s one of the world’s most exceptionally widely tested BETA programs in the entire planet. I can absolutely guarantee you that there are no bugs in their product, uh, it’s been extensively tested by millions of people over the years.

6:50: There is a serious side to why we built Solitaire. It actually uses every single mouse function that you can possibly do. Um…without, to the exclusion, obviously, of the right mouse click. But that’s about the only one that you can’t do.

7:02: So you click on a card to drag it and drop it, you double-click on it to move it from the bottom of the deck up onto the discard pile, you have pull-downs from menus. That was the reason why we built Solitaire.

7:14: (narrator’s voice here) The next milestone was a launch which departed from the architecture that had been present in previous versions and set out a pathway for the future; Windows NT.

7:24: (Nick McGrath speaks again) This was built by a gentleman called David Cutler, who we brought over from Digital. Windows NT stood for New Technology, and the reason why we built NT was very much with the business customer in mind.

7:38: But it was a ground-up operating system that was built without some of the encumbrances of MS-DOS, so it looked and felt the same, but the underlying heart of the…of the machine, the kernel of the operating system, if you will…

7:52: was significantly better, from a security point of view, a reliability point of view, and a stability perspective.

Many years later there is still neither reliability nor stability. Ask the London Stock Exchange.

8:00: (narrator’s voice here) The end of the ’90s and the turn of the Millenium saw a succession of updates to the OS, Windows 95 introduced the “Start” button to the interface, as well as “Plug and Play” compatibility when adding hardware. Windows 98, Windows 2000, and WindowsME all followed. Until in 2001, Windows XP was released.

8:21: (Nick McGrath speaks again) Windows XP stands for Experience, uh, and that is because…uh…this was when we effectively retired the Windows 9X or the MS-DOS versions of the Windows tree…uh…and now the future lay on top of the NT kernel. A primary benefits behind the Windows XP product was around reliability and security. I think that’s one of the main reasons why people who…who…who have looked at Windows XP and thought “Yes, this delivering what I need, and it’s providing me with the functionality I need.

Isn’t it funny that just after XP Microsoft decided to bring back and promote the command line (many references here), proving that UNIX/Linux mentality was right all along? Also, to claim that “Windows XP product was around reliability and security” is to ignore the sheer number of zombie PCs it has generated.

8:56: My name’s Laurence Painell, I’m a Windows 7 Product Manager here in the UK. We recognized that the…the XP product…uh…wasn’t gonna be the platform that we wanted to move forward with, from a security perspective…

In other words, false promises were made.

9:10: We understood the challenges that we had there, and we had to make some significant changes to the Windows platform, in order to make it more secure, and give us a foundation that we would be prepared to move forward with in the future.

9:20: [XP boot-up sound] Windows Vista pretty much provided that foundation. But we understood that the…the changes that we’d introduced in Windows Vista would cause bad challenges…

Windows Vista is not secure, either. Some argue that Vista 7 is even less secure than Vista.

9:31: Especially around application device compatibility, because we changed some of the models that were provided in XP, fundamentally to give a more secure platform. Because XP was around for so long, estimations were for anywhere between 70 and 80 percent of the user install base when we released Windows Vista right to users running Windows XP.

9:47: So that meant that anybody could look around, they could go to somebody and say…uh, you know, I don’t understand what’s happening here, and they had somebody there who understood what was happening and could provide them with support and give them guidance on how to use the product.

9:58: <—more “Hello, I’m a PC” commercials are played here—>

Wait. Is this an advert or actual information? They blur the gap.

10:17: With the advent of Service Pack 1, which came out just over a year after the release of Windows Vista, we’d really addressed a lot of the compatibility issues. We…we gathered a lot of feedback in market from customers. We listened to what was said and obviously we tried to address as much of that as possible.

10:33: And, on the business side of things, we understood that maybe we didn’t do as good a job as we could have done with Vista…uh…in that space. And we learned a lot and we made sure that with Windows 7, that we’ve really changed the way in which we approach our audience.

10:49: We made it available to everybody worldwide in the BETA in the beginning of this year, and we also released the release candidate to everybody. So we’ve had 8 million testers, worldwide, of Windows 7.

To put things in perspective, Microsoft made a novel version of Windows available for download by anyone free of charge, yet desktop GNU/Linux, which is usually free of charge and has virtually no marketing, outpaced that number. Few people actually buy Windows; they buy a computer and are forced to get Windows with it (that’s where 80% of Windows licences are sold — OEMs).

11:00: We really picked up on the feedback that we gathered from Windows Vista.

11:02: (narrator’s voice here) Julie Larson-Green was instrumental in creating the version of Windows that was going to follow Vista; Windows 7. She’s the Vice President of Windows Experience, and oversaw the program managers who wrote the specifications for Windows 7, as well as the designers and researchers.

11:19: Julie Larson-Green: I joined the team in July 2006, and right away we started thinking about what we wanted to do for the next release, although Windows Vista wasn’t out the door, yet.

11:28: So I had time to learn about the team, and learn about the challenges with the product, or also about the challenges in the marketplace and what customers were looking for out of Windows…and kind of developed some hypotheses about what we should do, and we started looking at deeply into customer research.

11:44: We have over a billion customers, with Windows, so you can imagine that there’s a lot of…uh…conflicting information about what you should do, and what you shouldn’t do…and so we worked hard to understand the full scenario that people were trying to get done, and then try to make those much easier…so one of those things was how long it takes to get back to a document you were working on the day before, and so that led to the invention of “Jump Lists” on the taskbar, so…

Did Microsoft really “invent” that? Like many things in Vista 7, KDE4 has had analogous ideas for years. They were already implemented and released. One ought to wonder if Windows developers looked at KDE4 for inspiration. Comes vs Microsoft exhibits show that Microsoft did that with Mac OS X. It systematically copies with the approval of managerial staff.

12:12: Now, instead of going to the Start menu, starting the program, going to the file menu, finding the document, you just right-click on the icon on the taskbar and the documents you were using are all right there.

12:23: And so it reduces quite a number of steps and makes people more efficient.

12:27: [another Windows commercial here]

What, again? Who are they kidding?

12:33: (Julie speaking again) There’s lots of brainstorming, there’s lots of data collection and we have statisticians that look for [...] significance on trends and things like that, but we also do a lot of creative, drawing on paper, putting it in front of customers very early, before we’ve even started it in code.

12:50: One of the things that we do is, kind of, how principles…to come up with a set of principles of how we want the product to feel.

12:57: And so one of the principles we had in Windows 7 was to have you feel like you’re in control. And that the computer was performing a service for you and was being a helpful friend or butler to get you to what you wanted to do. Rather than trying to tell you, being the annoying friend saying there’s a new Defender definitions download, or there’s this or there’s that coming out of the notification tray…

This became Microsoft’s Vista 7 slogan, “was my idea.”

13:18: so you have a series of those things, and then we take it back to customers and double check that we were on the right track.

13:23: [another "I'm a PC" Windows commercial here]

What is the purpose of all these adverts? Free marketing? It repeats itself just minutes apart.

13:30: (narrator’s voice here) The new “Snap” feature is something that appears to be a rather, at least, small and simple new feature in this version of Windows. But actually involved quite a bit of work.

13:38: (Julie speaking again) Being able to put two documents side-by-side, snap them to the edges of the screen, seems a very straight forward. We knew the number of documents that people, from our data, the number of documents people tend to have on the screen. But when you get into it, there’s all of the…How close does it get to the side of the screen before it “snaps”? – How can you reduce the amount of accidental snapping? – How…what are the different ways we’re going to help people snap? And shouldn’t there be keyboard access for snapping?…um, and we had a lot of trial and error around both the location of the mouse to the edge of the screen, then having an outline where it shows you a little bit before you actually do it, that it’s gonna happen.

14:18: Those were all things that we had to refine over time, like any feedback to people until it felt, to most folks, that it’s pretty natural and just does what you think it’s gonna do, and no surprises.

It would be useful to compare that to 3-D features (desktop effects) in KDE, GNOME, and Enlightenment. These do not receive the attention they deserve from the press.

14:28: (narrator’s voice here) Though it’s unlikely that Windows 7 will have a lifespan as long as XP’s six years, it’s likely to see significant developments in how we interact with machines. Notably the introduction of “Touchscreen” capabilities to the PC. Microsoft has built this capability into Windows 7, but how were they able to plan and prepare for this, when they were building the operating system years before the release date, which itself is years before the introduction of the technology?

Nope. Touch-screens are an old, old technology. Additionally, GNU/Linux supported this before Windows.

14:55: (Julie speaking again) One of the fun things about working on Windows is you have a vast ecosystem of hardware developers, and software developers that you can work with to come up with ideas and things that are happening, and kind of help start a trend, and so Touch Computing is something that we felt we started in Windows 7, and we worked closely with the Microsoft Surface Team, which had built the Surface Table with a lot of Touch interface…

Speaking of Surface, how is that coming along? Microsoft was going to kill the product, but Bill Gates insisted against it. Right now it exists just in the pages of history and Microsoft is hunting down critics of Surface.

15:19: …and we picked up a lot of ques from that. Then we worked with several different screen manufacturers, and several of the OEMs. To start the trend you have to be a good example of the trend. So, Windows itself has to be a…a good use of your finger, and that you can use, or multiple fingers to manipulate the user experience.

Anyone who has used such screens for more than a few minutes will know that they tire the arms. There are real practical limitations, but Microsoft uses this as a gimmick nonetheless; it’s good for demos. If nothing is new with the software, then some hardware bling is desperately required.

15:37: And so, we did a lot of work there – we worked very closely with the Windows Live Team to…to Touch-enable things like Photo Gallery and things like that. But we also get surprised by what people bring back to you.

15:49: So we worked with a company called AutoDesk, and they have had some very interesting CAD software that they’ve built…uh…where you can extrude the actual item by dragging your fingers out and it redraws everything.

16:06: Uh, Corel have done things in their applications as well, and so it’s really fun to see how it sparks the imagination of how you can interact with the computer and the new things that you can do.

16:16: (narrator’s voice here) So now that Windows 7 is out the door, the planning starts for the next version. But what does the future hold for Windows? Will operating systems be as important when an increasing number of tasks are moving into the Cloud? Julie Lawson-Greene has the last word on that, in a minute, but first, Nick McGraw again on the prospects for Windows.

16:35: (Nick McGrath) If I look at the future of Windows, as it’s about 3 screens in the cloud. We have Windows phones now, and the latest version of Windows on the phone has just released. A laptop screen, or a desktop screen, as well as on a television screen when it comes to a media center, and we will support all of that using cloud-based services.

17:00: (Julie speaking again) I never understand when people say “I want just a browser” because the data shows that that is not the case. In a six month period on the BETA we had over 800 thousand unique applications used by our customers that were on the BETA. So there’s still a reason, many reasons, to want to connect to, or to run our PC operating system. Of course you need a PC operating system to run a browser on and connect devices to it to print and things like that, so…

Julie conveniently forgot to mention that those users of the beta are not average users; they are computer experts for the most part and tossing in statistics like “800 thousand unique applications” is not only admission of spying on users and rival software vendors (Windows Update has done that for years); it is also a case of using the black art of selective statistics.

17:27: I don’t see a world where the operating system becomes less important any time soon.

“Don’t see” or “don’t hope”?

17:32: (Hostess, Susie Weaser, speaks) That was Laurence Painell, Nick McGrath, and Julie Lawson-Green, for Microsoft. Now Jack, you’ve had a chance to play with the product, just briefly, what are your initial thoughts on it?

17:40: (Jack Schofield) Well the initial impression is how much it looks like Vista. Which I think is…uh…the thing I’m not supposed to say.

Why not? Honesty counts in journalism.

17:48: It is rather smooth, rather powerful, rather nice.

These are not quantifiable measures. It’s a bunch of vague concepts and colourful adjectives.

I think Michael Dell said it will make you love your computer again.

Michael Dell wants to sell many new computers. What else is new?

And I couldn’t…I don’t love my computer, but I understand what he means.

Wait wait wait wait wait wait. Microsoft Jack uses Windows and now he admits not loving his computer? He ought to speak to Mac users, who mostly feel differently.

It’s a much more engaging operating system and I think it probably will be much more successful than Vista, although, of course, that depends on how many people buy it.

“Think it probably”? Wait a second. So he has used Vista 7 for a while, he says it’s like Vista and he only thinks that it will be more successful than Vista, probably Microsoft’s worst-ever release? Well, Steve Ballmer feels similarly.

18:06: (Hostess, Susie Weaser, speaks) Absolutely. Is it the kind of products that you’d recommend people go and purchase immediately, or should they be waiting until they upgrade their PC when it’s likely to come bundled?

18:15: (Jack Schofield) Well, I think most people only upgrade to a new version of Windows when they buy a new PC…um, that’s historically always been true. I don’t see any particular reason to change that now. I mean, there are people who are early adopters, who are enthusiasts, who have probably already run out and bought it, and that’s fine. I mean there’s nothing to stop people from buying it…

Feeling the excitement? Not really. Even fans of Microsoft lack enthusiasm.

18:37: But…um, Windows XP is going to be around for a very long time. There are, you know, more than a billion Windows users out there. So for the forseeable future most of those are still going to be on XP.

These numbers come from Microsoft. They should not be repeated without independent verification.

18:49: On the other hand, XP’s clearly going to go away, it’s clearly doomed, and so, you know, you might as well face the fact that you, you’re going to um…move at some point, and do it at the most convenient time. That might be now, it might be in two years time, but that’s entirely up to the person who’s using the computer.

It is quite likely that most GNU/Linux users are former XP users. Great stuff.

19:07: (Hostess, Susie Weaser, speaks) Okay, so aside from what’s available in terms of Microsoft in the market at the moment, how does it stack up what else is available. Apple have recently launched Snow Leopard, There’s an Ubuntu update coming this week. Charles, can Windows 7 compete?

19:20: (Charles Arthur speaks) First of all, I just want to go back to the, uh, the point that might have had a lot of people sort of jumping out of their seats, where the guy said “We introduced people to the Graphical Interface. Not true, I’m sorry here, Apple did that! Uh…GEM was doing that, Digital…Digital Research, I think was the name…(Jack interrupts Charles)…there’s another one which was DizzyOn (Busy on?)…(Charles) Yeah, there were TONS of GUIs.

Well done, Charles Arthur.

19:42: I think for, uh, for Microsoft to be claiming that they invented the GUI or introduced people to the GUI is hardly…

19:49: (Jack interrupts Charles) Hold on, Charles, people who work [...] in the industry obviously knew graphical user interfaces, and no way did Microsoft invent, or get into market first. But if you go on to 1990, Windows 3.1 was the first mass-market graphical user interface, in terms of volume shipping, and so it’s kind of reasonable to say that they did introduce, you know, the man in the streets to…

There he goes again. Microsoft Jack spinning.

20:18: (Charles) It’s just one of those…it’s one of those little things of sort of ignoring, ignoring everything else that’s around, which…which is, which is easily done, but which I think sort of contains the seeds of…of a sort of downfall, Microsoft is so…is so big now that it’s at risk of simply becoming really [...] and the whole, the whole that Windows 7 is being thought about and presented is indicative of how big it’s got…

20:46: I’ve just been looking at the [...] the results that they announced on Friday after, of course, the Vista launch…sorry, the Windows 7 launch, it’s really interesting because looking at the sector there’s a fall in revenues and in profits for pretty much all of the sectors – as a fall in revenue for the Windows and Windows Live, of nearly 2 billion dollars. Uh, and there’s a fall in profits of nearly the same, sort of…well, 1.5 billion dollars. These are big numbers that they are losing here…

Indeed. Well done, Charles Arthur. We wrote about those numbers last week.

21:14: And I think that, that Microsoft is gonna have to face, well I’m not sure if they can face the fact, actually, but other people perhaps that are gonna realise that it’s become so big that, as you say, even if Windows 7 is the most incredibly successful product, it’s not gonna displace XP, and actually I think there’s a question of where are people gonna go? Are they really going to go up to Windows 7, or are they gonna start looking around and just get a little netbook?

21:38: And actually, will they find that the problems of intrusion and viruses and Trojans mean that Ubuntu could actually get some sort of hold?

We are already seeing those who look at Vista 7 and turn away to GNU/Linux.

21:47: (Jack) Well I think they are going to go to Windows 7, or Windows 8, because XP is not going to survive the next five years. And, um…you know, the fact is that Microsoft does do a better job of producing a mass-market operating system than anybody else. More polish, more depth, more applications, easier to use…

“More polish”? Come on, Jack. Did you try Vista RTM? And why on Earth does he introduce vapourware (Vista Eight) again? The Microsoft crowd does a lot of that these days, especially when the present becomes hard to defend. A leap from reality to fantasy.

22:10: Um…and it has roughly 96% of the market. Now 96% of the market isn’t going to go away.

More lies from Microsoft Jack. Even Microsoft has abandoned these lies. Here is Steve Ballmer’s presentation slide (from 2009). It shows GNU/Linux as bigger than Apple on the desktop, internationally.

Ballmer's slide on Macs and GNU/Linux

Dell has already slammed Microsoft for FUD. It says that one third of its sub-notebooks are shipped with GNU/Linux and the return rates are the same for all operating systems.

And anybody who’s bothered about viruses can upgrade to Windows 7 and will find themselves more secure. And, because it’s still Windows underneath, the amount of relearning they have to do, and the ease of upgrade…including getting, you know, getting the applications to work, is much lower than for any other system. And on the grounds of the line of least resistance, um, I see, you know, Windows continuing for the foreseeable future.

More lies, this time about security. Have a look at:

  1. Cybercrime Rises and Vista 7 is Already Open to Hijackers
  2. Vista 7: Broken Apart Before Arrival
  3. Department of Homeland Security ‘Poisoned’ by Microsoft; Vista 7 is Open to Hijackers Again
  4. Vista 7 Security “Cannot be Fixed. It’s a Design Problem.”
  5. Why Vista 7 Could be the Least Secure Operating System Ever
  6. Journalists Suggest Banning Windows, Maybe Suing Microsoft Over DDoS Attacks
  7. Vista 7 Vulnerable to Latest “Critical” Flaws
  8. Vista 7 Seemingly Affected by Several More “Critical” Flaws This Month
  9. Reason #1 to Avoid Vista 7: Insecurity
  10. Vista 7 Left Hijackable Again (Almost a Monthly Recurrence)

22:43: (Hostess, Susie Weaser, speaks) Since Microsoft’s last launch, we’ve seen a massive rise in cloud computing, and specifically Google are now beginning to talk about their Chrome OS, which makes way from…uh, basically puts the user’s workspace onto the Internet. Now, Charles, given that Google are pioneers in this area, can Microsoft sufficiently catch up to make Windows a true player in cloud computing?

Actually, Chrome OS uses Linux. It remains to be seen if Google are really “pioneers in this area”. And besides, this whole thing they call “cloud computing” is nothing new; it’s just the notion of connecting to a server to do work with data that’s on it.

23:03: (Charles) That’s difficult, because its entire DNA is built around people having computers which are storing things locally. It’s not built into the DNA that when you log-in, that everything’s about having stuff elsewhere. I mean you can say much the same, actually, about the way that Apple’s OS is designed. I think it’s interesting that, for example, in the last few weeks we’ve heard of big contract wins for Google.

23:35: Um, there’s Rent-a-Kill, for example, which is taking 35,000 seats, as they’re called. And it’s gotta be going with Google Apps for those. I mean, The Guardian, in fact, is gone away from using Microsoft Office, now it uses Open Office and Google Apps as well. CAP Gemini’s also going Google Apps and [...] I think there’s gonna be more of these cases and I think there’s quite a challenge coming from Google here, and it’s quite hard for Microsoft to react to it, because…if you look at the numbers again for it’s recent financials, its online division actually made a loss of 480 million dollars on revenues of 490 million dollars. So basically, for every dollar it was getting in, it was paying out two.

24:18: So, it doesn’t seem to quite have the hang of it yet.

One has to wonder how Microsoft Jack felt about his employer abandoning Microsoft Office and moving to Google+Free software (OpenOffice.org).

24:20: (Hostess, Susie Weaser, speaks) Hmmm, Jack, what’s your opinion on this? Can Microsoft catch up with Google?

24:24: (Jack) It’s…I think it is a very complicated situation. On the financial results there…one of the reasons the Windows revenue is down is that there’s 1.5 billion of deferred revenues, from uh…you know, giving people free copies of Windows 7 when they buy Vista.

That’s the talking point used consistently by all the Microsoft apologists. Can Jack explain why Microsoft saw very large drops in the past two quarters? The “deferred revenues” excuse does really not apply to those.

You’re certainly going to see these figures rebound. When it comes to the cloud, Microsoft is heavily investing in the cloud, so I think it’s much too soon to…to decide which way…which way that’s going to go. Especially since Microsoft’s Azure cloud-based system will, ultimately enable people to move Windows applications to the cloud.

If Microsoft has a viable response to Google, then how come the huge marketing blitz generated nothing of substance?

25:06: But I’m not…I’m not actually terribly sold on cloud computing, personally. Giving somebody else your data is not my idea of a wise move from the point of view of protecting yourself.

Well, he must have seen what happens when Microsoft meets “cloud”. See our posts about the Sidekick danger, e.g.:

25:17: (Hostess, Susie Weaser, speaks) Yeah, well a controversial subject we’re gonna have to…have to have a whole new show on, I think, by the sounds of it. Believe it or not there’s been more going on than just the launch of Windows 7.

25:25: Here’s the roundup of the tech news headlines.

…………..(The Windows History segment ends here)…………..

Any more thoughts?

Microsoft Patent Traps and the Possible Looming End of Software Patents

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Law, Microsoft, Patents, Protocol at 6:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ActiveSync logo joke

Summary: How Microsoft uses ActiveSync to shut out Free software with software patents; OOXML patents and other issues revisited; Bilski to be revisited by the Supremes, who can axe software patents in the United States

Microsoft’s plan for fighting Free software involves software patents that essentially impose a tax on use. One example of a software patents vector is ActiveSync, which we last wrote about right here, with other examples in [1, 2]. Now there is another Microsoft patent deal (ActiveSync), which serves the same agenda of imposing a tax on access to protocols. What will the European Commission say about that? Is it familiar with this issue already?

It happens to be a similar case with OOXML, which Microsoft knew all along had patent issues but kept them secret and lied to the public about them. Microsoft Nick is now showing that OOXML has other issues too; even users of Microsoft Office are unnecessarily facing barriers because Microsoft changed its proprietary formats.

Microsoft is optimizing its upcoming Office Web Apps for .docx, .pptx, and .xslx, which will boost the online accessibility of documents uploaded from users’ desktops—but in the process, perhaps making life more difficult for those using older versions of Office. During testing of the Web Apps technical preview, eWEEK found that documents with .xls and .ppt file extensions could not be edited through the browser, although they could still be viewed and downloaded.

Meet the OOXML upgrade treadmill. Many say that OOXML is about forced upgrades along with other tricks like breaking compatibility with rival office suites, all while pretending to have gone “open”. And again, what about the patents? OOXML remains a patent trap. Groklaw has just published an article that challenges Microsoft’s Bilski amicus brief, which is in favour of software patents of course.

I have noticed something about PDF the amicus brief from Microsoft, Philips and Symantec submitted to the US Supreme Court in the In re Bilski case. This amicus brief relies on a particular interpretation of the history of computing and on its own description of the inner workings of a computer to argue that software should be patentable subject matter. I argue that both the history and the description of the actual working of a computer is inaccurate.

The Supreme Court’s decision could put an end to software patenting in the United States and the hearing is very near. It’s only a week away.

The United States Supreme Court will hear a patent case on Nov. 9 that has implications for both method and software patents, and it has gained widespread attention from industry groups, professors and businesses looking to influence the high court’s thinking.

But at least one lawyer expects that the decision made in this case will not fix anything at the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO).

Interestingly enough, the previous ruling on the Bilski case already kills software patents.

Vista 7 Roundup: Microsoft Admits Upgrade Errors, People Wait for SP1, Compatibility Issues Identified

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 5:10 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hangover time


Summary: Vista 7 — like its predecessor Windows Vista — turns out to have all the predictable headaches and weight problems

According to the Wall Street Journal, no less than $300,000,000 are spent on the shameless marketing blitz which may be violating the law in some areas. We speak of actions like bribery [1, 2, 3], but marketing is — almost by definition — about lying.

Microsoft Corp. is in the midst of a $300 million dollar ad blitz as it releases its Windows 7 operating system.

We have written quite a lot in recent weeks about errors in Vista 7. The “upgrade” process in particular has proven to be broken to many. There is a whole article about this now:

Windows 7 Upgrade Struggle Continues


There are also conflicting reports about enteprise plans for Windows 7, with some chomping at the bit to get off XP and others content to wait for Windows 7 to mature.

In other words, getting to Windows 7 is more complicated than it seems.

CRN publishes: “Microsoft Exec Taking Heat On Windows 7 Upgrades”

A Microsoft executive who earlier this week scolded unnamed bloggers for publicizing a Windows 7 upgrade hack is becoming a lightning rod for criticism from angry customers.

Eric Ligman, global partner experience lead in Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Group, says the workarounds, when applied to a PC without an existing copy of Windows, violate Microsoft’s software licensing terms and put users in danger of running illegal software. On Friday, visitors to Ligman’s SMB Community blog expressed their displeasure with the way Microsoft is handling the situation.

Over at Mercury News, Wolverton writes: “Be cautious upgrading to Windows 7″

As we pointed out some days ago, Student Edition of Vista 7 has serious problems and Microsoft is now acknowledging this. There are also blame games (Microsoft blames the users) and a case of being naïve.

Anthony Doesburg, who routinely writes for the New Zealand Herald, sort of slams Microsoft for lying about Vista 7 performance. Vista is sometimes faster than Vista 7, he argues, based on the assessments of many people (some of whom were bullied and silenced earlier this year when they said so, even producing benchmark results).

The good news about Windows 7 is that it’s faster than its predecessor, Vista. The bad news about Microsoft’s new operating system, which went on sale yesterday, is that it is slower than Vista.

The contradictory statements only serve to show the confusion of numbers coming from technical analysts and publications about Windows 7 performance.

As we showed a few days ago, some people are waiting for a service pack before even considering Vista 7. We find more of this pattern in the news. IDG publishes:

Windows 7 And You: Wait For The Service Pack?


For many, the official release of a new Microsoft operating system–such as Windows 7–is just the starting of a clock. They will not buy the new OS until Service Pack 1 is released.

CIO Today says (in the headline) that Vista 7 “Still Faces Hurdles To Enterprise Deployment”

More rants arrive even from CNN:

I’m also peeved that I had to pay for this for this upgrade. Wasn’t running Vista for two years payment enough? That OS was patched and upgraded numerous times while I was running it, at no cost to me. Windows 7, while a better experience, is still clearly Vista with problems fixed and an improved interface. I don’t feel I should have to pay for again.

The Seattle Weekly, despite being Microsoft’s next-door neighbour, ridicules the Vista 7 launch parties, calling them “predictably pathetic”.

You may remember that prior to its release, Microsoft tried to hype their new operating system Windows 7 with a series of exclusive “launch parties.”The promotions folks in Redmond have been known for some screwy logic. But this one was truly baffling.

Lies and gimmicks about energy savings are being shattered to pieces:

Energy-Savings Claims Don’t Add Up for Microsoft’s Windows 7


Microsoft is touting its energy-saving features with the new Windows 7 operating system, but is not making any specific claims about how much power Windows 7 can save, reports Fred Pearce, author of the Guardian’s Greenwash column.

Actual users of Vista 7 publicly speak out and it is not particularly heartwarming. No longer are users of Vista 7 mostly computer enthusiasts and MSDN subscribers. Compatibility problems arise. Who didn’t see that coming?

Wintel 7 machines freeze out iPhone


If you’re having trouble syncing your iPhone with a PC based on the Intel P55 chipset and running Windows 7, you’re not alone.

The Belfast Telegraph asks: “Has Windows of opportunity shut for Microsoft?”

From a competitive point of view, Google has delayed the release of its operating system, while Apple has not had the impact it hoped for on its Snow Leopard system. This means Microsoft can potentially steal a march with Windows 7. This alone will not overcome the long term threats to Microsoft’s business model. People will start using more and more browser-based cloud applications and not have to use an operating system at all.

What about the crashing profits extracted from Windows? Microsoft, unlike GNU/Linux developers, is in the business of maximising cash flow, not in the business of putting the software in as many hands as possible. No wonder GNU/Linux is hurting Microsoft where it hurts the most: the pocket. Vista 7 won’t change that.

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

Randall Kennedy, 2008

Microsoft Breaks the Law by Not Patching Windows as Per the Agreement

Posted in Law, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 4:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Microsoft’s legal obligations are hanging in the balance while Windows 2000 does not receive security patches

ABOUT a month ago we showed that Microsoft broke its contract with the customers by refusing to patch Windows XP. As it turns out, Microsoft is doing this with Windows 2000 as well.

Our reader Ryan, who is a former Microsoft MVP and an expert in this area, wrote in IRC: “You should drive home a point that you aren’t when talking about Conficker and its brethren. Windows 2000 will be TEN YEARS OLD on February 17, 2010, and still manages to get at least a dozen security patches a month, even now. It’s a good way to point out that no matter how many patches you install, there’s always more vulnerabilities. Several thousand of them have been patched in Windows 2000 and it’s still regularly patched. You would think that the patch rate would have slowed down and the OS would have more or less settled by now, but it’s going to be patched from birth to abortion. You should also mention that companies won’t necessarily throw out Windows 2000 on their systems just because it’s out of support. From Wikipedia: ‘On 8 September 2009, Microsoft skipped patching two of the five security flaws that were addressed in the monthly security update, saying that patching one of the critical security flaws was “infeasible”.[93] According to the Microsoft Security Bulletin MS09-048, “The architecture to properly support TCP/IP protection does not exist on Microsoft Windows 2000 systems, making it infeasible to build the fix for Microsoft Windows 2000 Service Pack 4 to eliminate the vulnerability. To do so would require rearchitecting a very significant amount of the Microsoft Windows 2000 Service Pack 4 operating system, [...] there would be no assurance that applications designed to run on Microsoft Windows 2000 Service Pack 4 would continue to operate on the updated system.”‘ Windows 2000 not only shares all the vulnerabilities in XP, Microsoft has started refusing to patch some while the damned thing is still supported (to try and force an upgrade). It’s not the first time that Microsoft has refused a security patch for operating systems still in support, they left some critical Windows 98 and Windows NT 4 vulnerabilities unpatched, with a year left on the support lifecycle.

“In other words, Microsoft can flagrantly violate the hell out of their side of the agreement, but don’t you dare to step out of line or install Windows on two systems with one license.”
“Windows 2000 is supported until July of 2010, meaning that per their support agreement, every security patch should be delivered on until then, so they’re violating their own support agreement, but insisting that you obey your obligations under their EULA. This is kind of like the times Microsoft was found violating their side of the privacy agreement in Windows Media Player 7 (they probably still do). In other words, Microsoft can flagrantly violate the hell out of their side of the agreement, but don’t you dare to step out of line or install Windows on two systems with one license.”

Fewa responds with: “Microsoft has always been an outlaw corporation. They only obey the laws that benefit them and disregard those that would dare limit their greed of monopoly. They even wish to impose on other those laws. It’s not just that; of course having the government totally hijacked for 6 years did not help. The democrats got a majority in 2006 (in the house).”

“8 years,” insists Ryan, “and I’d argue that they still do. Obama has packed the DOJ with more RIAA mafia types.” Here is a collection of references.

Ryan is not optimistic. “They’re one of the richest companies and have hundreds of lawyers,” he says. “You could sue them, in theory, but they could just stall forever.”

To summarise, writes Ryan: “What kind of confuses me is that according to Microsoft, breaking their EULA is “illegal”, but when they break their side of the agreement it’s OK as long as they can say “It would have been too much work to close that critical patch on Windows 2000.” It would be like me saying “Well, I installed the same copy of Windows on ten computers cause it would have been too much of a strain on my finances to buy 9 more licenses”; Same defense they’re trying, too much of a strain on limited resources, so it’s OK to break the agreement.”

In other news, Microsoft’s cryptology is broken again.

Microsoft releases fix for crypto patch


The ocsasnfix.exe (direct download) program is to fix the glitch both in the client and in the server. In a knowledgebase article, Microsoft describes how to run the program and what other actions may need to be taken.

Perhaps Microsoft could not just disable the features this time around [1, 2].

Novell Told Off by Former Employee, the Public

Posted in Mail, Novell at 3:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Novell error message

Summary: Novell’s attempt to defend itself from negative publicity does not go down well

SOME days ago we wrote about Novell's response to the Los Angeles loss. It is also a loss to Novell's partner, Microsoft. Matt Asay, who is a former employee of Novell, took another angle and told Novell off for the way it treats its customers. He explains why insulting the customer is the worst one can do.

Novell, however, attacks Los Angeles’ decision, arguing “The City of Los Angeles should have opted for this proven product [GroupWise] to ensure the security of its data and to save taxpayer money. They have taken a risk with no reward.”

Translation? “We think Los Angeles is run by a bunch of fools who aren’t smart enough to know what’s good for them.”

This is no way to treat customers.

It’s not made any better with this throwaway line: “However, as a valued customer, Novell will continue to offer our world-class support to the City of Los Angeles during the transition.”

As we pointed out the other day, Novell is promoting its proprietary software here (nothing to do with “open source”). OStatic has written an article about it, which apparently misses this point about Groupwise. The third comment brings it up and the first comment says:

Novell got two faces and no spine. They are the jellyfish of OpenSource and Linux. One face picks on Google and propietary solutions.

The more important face to notice is that they barely semipromote their own products (their SLES/SLED 11 roadshow appeared as a Microsoft-entourage). Even more interesting is the well organised astroturfing and FUD campaign against GPL.

On the face of it Stallman is the target, but the real objective is undermining GPL. Just read the Novell blogs in the Monosphere for starters.

They also systematicly attacks Ubuntu rather than competing with Windows on the desktop. Frequently I spot Opensuse users at work undermining Ubuntu. They probably be better off promoting their own product rather than bashing their fellows.

Why go for the crumbles when there is a basket full of bread just in front of you?

By end of 2012 Novell is owned by Microsoft formally and not just de-facto. We have shifted everything from Novell to RedHat. Novell is a dead end.

From the comments we gather some other interesting information. Over in IRC, we have had anonymous people ask us if we heard about more Novell layoffs. Is something going on that Novell did not announce?

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