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11.22.09

Microsoft Swaps Data with (and Maybe Pays) Nielsen, Which Compares Microsoft to Rivals

Posted in Deception, Finance, FUD, GNU/Linux, Google, Marketing, Microsoft, Search at 11:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nielsen and Microsoft

Summary: Conflict of interests found inside Nielsen, which is yet another company that promises to deliver objective assessments

Microsoft loves contracting the very same firms that compare Microsoft to other companies. We previously named Netcraft as an example [1, 2, 3] and also comScore as a more relevant example, which we wrote about in:

We mentioned comScore and Nielsen in the following post, which continues to speak about how Microsoft uses partners or even its former employees to assist with lies (selective, incomplete analyses) about competitors like Google. This seems like a standard procedure as we will show in just a moment. Net Applications, for example, has former Microsoft staff and Microsoft is also their paying customer [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7], so their belittling of GNU/Linux is unsurprising. Conflict of interests? Of course. Money on the table? That’s a fact.

“As long as money flows towards an examiner’s pocket, the results are suspect and the methods for measuring some given unit are designed to bring about the desired conclusion.”There are other meters just like that, which can be biased and deceitful. As long as money flows towards an examiner’s pocket, the results are suspect and the methods for measuring some given unit/s are designed to bring about the desired conclusion. That’s their business model; those who pay will receive pleasing results. They can sell bias, just as others are selling fear. Let’s not forget NPD [1, 2, 3], which is doing exactly that.

With a bit of background out of the way, we now present the news about Nielsen, which turns out to have signed a “partnership” with Microsoft. It seems like the type of deal that will involve Microsoft paying Nielsen, not the other way around.

On Thursday, the company announced a partnership with Nielsen that brings TV ratings to Xbox Live’s “1 vs. 100″ online trivia game show.

[...]

Microsoft and Nielsen also plan to collect data across the entire Xbox Live network. While this is not the first time Nielsen has measured videogame metrics, it is the first time it will measure content across a game console network–Xbox Live–and be able to get very “granular” information, says Gerardo Guzman, director of Nielsen Games.

[...]

This latest partnership with Nielsen gives a boost to Microsoft’s aspirations to be more than just a platform for traditional videogames.

If Microsoft is hiring Nielsen, i.e. paying them, then Nielsen is not an impartial, independent party. Microsoft does not to bribe them but give them contracts instead. This is clearly part of Microsoft’s tactics as it put them down in paper [PDF]. We have seen examples before and here is another new example where a Web site delivers a message without exactly saying that corporations are behind this message. It relates to a recent Microsoft-sponsored IDC study which was produced for lobbying purposes [1, 2]. Now, how about this one?

Among workers, two out of five had trouble staying motivated at work in the last year and a quarter do not feel loyal to their employer, according to the survey of employers and workers for CareerBuilder.com, an online jobs site.

[...]

CareerBuilder is owned by Gannett Co. Inc, the Tribune Co., The McClatchy Co. and Microsoft Corp.

So these statistics can be warped to reflect and project Microsoft’s agenda, without appearing as though they came from Microsoft. With Microsoft's long track record of push-polling, everything is possible to show, along with supportive data. The task of conducting studies with questionnaires is just externalised to other agencies.

Microsoft Can Only Wish it Was as Popular as Linux (on Phones)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Kernel, Microsoft, Windows at 10:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Business phones

Summary: Mainstream press heralds the decline of Windows Mobile while Linux phones are selling exceptionally well

Microsoft’s Windows Mobile seems like a lost cause and while RIM is doing OK rumours persist that Microsoft may attempt to buy them one day, maybe next year. If smartphones (or mobile devices in general) are the future, then Microsoft has no choice. It tried to save itself by buying Danger, but this ended up as a total mess. It is an issue that we wrote about in:

CNN has just published an article blasting Windows Mobile, which is strange because CNN is run to serve the very same corporations that fund its operations.

Windows Mobile has lost nearly a third of its smartphone market share since 2008, research firm Gartner reports. Windows Mobile had 11 percent of the global smartphone market in the third quarter of 2008, according to Gartner, and last quarter Windows Mobile’s market share plummeted to 7.9 percent.

A Microsoft booster, Danny O’Brien from the Irish Times, has also published a negative piece about Windows Mobile and as a loser’s defense (“sour grapes”), Microsoft is now saying that mobile apps aren’t important. To quote:

This week at the Microsoft Professional Developer Conference, chief software architect Ray Ozzie stated that mobile apps aren’t an important factor in the success of a smartphone platform.

Guess which phone is a hot item at the moment. Reuters reports:

Why is the Motorola Droid apparently gaining traction in the smartphone market, when Microsoft and Nokia are failing so miserably?

The Droid, built on Google’s Android mobile operating system, sold 250,000 in its first week on the market. That’s way behind the 1.6 million iPhone 3Gs sold in the first week after its launch, but it’s still enough for Motorola to see possible salvation after years of decline and for Google to feel self-congratulatory about its venture into mobile.

Those who believe that the general message about Linux is a negative one are perhaps paying too much attention to the desktop, easily forgetting that there is a lot more to computing than just stationary machines. The trend is clear; Linux is up sharply, Windows Mobile is down sharply. Let the morale soar and development carry on. GNU/Linux has already won.

Vista 7 Zero-Day Followed by Internet Explorer 7 Zero-Day

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Vista 7, Windows at 9:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nine O Nine

Summary: Vista 7 as exposed as the naked emperor; Internet Explorer received similar treatment as users are under attack and no remedy is available

OVER the past week and a half we wrote several posts about the illusion of security in Vista 7. Among those posts:

  1. Vista 7 Exploit is Out (Zero-Day Vulnerability)
  2. If Microsoft Cannot be Sued Over Liability, Can it be Sued for Negligence?
  3. Microsoft Won’t Secure Firefox/Chrome Users, Shows More Negligence

Reports about this subject continued to come and only an advisory (not a patch) came from Microsoft. Regarding another serious crack that led to security issues in vista 7, reports suggest that it “comes as no surprise,” proving yet again that Microsoft does not give a damn about security.

There is now the following serious incident which leads to invaluable harm. No report seems to say which platform is to blame, but the University of East Anglia is not necessarily a docile Windows shop, not based on its Web site anyway. It actually abandoned Solaris for GNU/Linux when Sun began roaming the streets looking for love. Does anyone know what mail systems are used at the University of East Anglia?

A 61MB ZIP file was posted on a Russian FTP server late last night, local time. It contains over a thousand emails, and around three thousand other items including source code and data files. Emails are peppered with disparaging remarks and a crude cartoon of sceptical scientists is also included in the archive – suggesting the hacker roamed wide across the University’s servers.

More at The Guardian.

A spokesperson for the University of East Anglia said: “We are aware that information from a server used for research information in one area of the university has been made available on public websites. Because of the volume of this information we cannot currently confirm that all this material is genuine. This information has been obtained and published without our permission and we took immediate action to remove the server in question from operation. We are undertaking a thorough internal investigation and have involved the police in this inquiry.”

Regardless of what this “server in question” actually runs, Microsoft is taking a weird approach to security, suggesting/recommending a different architecture (not platform) as a cure for executables that exploit Windows by design, not just by compilation.

Meanwhile we find that users of Internet Explorer 7 (version 6 also) are under attack due to a zero-day flaw. [hat tip: Tony Manco]

According to Symantec, which has quickly tested the exploit code that appeared on the Bugtraq list at insecure.org, the code as it stands is not 100% reliable but the security researchers expect that a “fully-functional reliable exploit will be available in the near future”. And that means exploit code that will enable websites to be infected, and any IE6 and 7 users with JavaScript enabled to be compromised.

More information at IDG:

The code was posted Friday to the Bugtraq mailing list by an unidentified hacker. According to security vendor Symantec, the code does not always work properly, but it could be used to install unauthorized software on a victim’s computer.

No fix is available yet, except a download that’s called Firefox or Fedora. But Microsoft does not want people to say the “F” word, so it will probably deliver a patch very soon.

To Free software’s credit, it rarely waits for attacks to occur before addressing security vulnerabilities.

More on Vista 7 insecurity:

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: November 22nd, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 9:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

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

Microsoft Windows Advertising Goes Too Far, Parents Television Council Complains

Posted in Marketing, Microsoft, Vista, Vista 7, Vista 8, Windows at 9:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Play time

Summary: On top of vapourware promotion, Microsoft Windows ads are upsetting families; group demands removal of Microsoft ads that offend children

MICROSOFT keeps invoking Vista 8 every now and then, especially when the reality behind Vista 7 proves too challenging to defend. Microsoft is already hyping up a successor of Vista 7 in order to “freeze the market” (Microsoft's words) while Microsoft’s PR puppet at CNET participates in this. The same PR puppet is hyping up Vista 7 sales despite them being flat for manufacturers. They measure only what they want to measure, where they want to measure it, for a period of time that’s desirable only based on one particular definition/criteria. We wrote about this early in the month [1, 2] (NPD’s fake numbers).

“The same PR puppet is hyping up Vista 7 sales despite them being flat for manufacturers.”It turns out that the latest Vista vapourware comes from Microsoft’s very own presentation, so this case of vapourware is clearly intended, not “leaked” (the sense of taboo in a leak adds to mystique and increases attention, so it is often a PR move that’s akin to viral marketing).

We recently analysed a Guardian podcast where Microsoft marketing people took credit for other people’s ideas that Microsoft is routinely copying. Despite such shameless and baseless marketing hype, The Guardian has published this article which calls Vista 7 “The Hard Sell”. From the gentle short rant:

But hang on, how is being in a cab suddenly some kind of a treat? Not only are Microsoft putting tedious features front and centre, the ideas behind them are apparently coming from people so dense they’re unaware they’ve been in a certain kind of vehicle before. “I’m a PC, and Windows 7 was my idea,” Crystal boasts.

Vista 7 has also just been criticised in The Daily India.

Honestly, does anyone understand Microsoft’s point in offering upgrade media for Windows 7? As well, what’s with the different versions?

Last time, we discussed the multiple versions of Windows 7 and why it’s largely silly. Now we’re going to discuss the even-sillier idea in all of this: upgrade versus full install.

Seriously, why is Microsoft even going down this road? Are we seriously believing that they’re rewarding prior customers? We’ve already seen that the really good customers (like me) who bought their most expensive version of Vista, are now getting screwed. We Vista Ultimate users aren’t getting a single penny off in upgrading to Windows 7. In the end, the extra money I spent on Vista Ultimate is gone with my move to Windows 7.

One shameless aspect of Microsoft’s advertising for Vista 7 continues a tradition of using AIDS to increase sales [1, 2]. These days, Microsoft is frequently using kids to sell Windows and according to The Register Microsoft has just resorted to “child labor” too. We will write about it later.

There is a little new rant floating out there about Microsoft using youngsters to pretend they are Windows fans (before they even understand anything). How long before newly-born babies are shown bearing a copy of Vista 7? Or maybe sonogram of Vista 7 inside the fetus? Seriously, Microsoft cannot just impose this type of false advertising like some parents impose a particular religion (supposedly a belief) upon their child when it is conceived.

A parents group has just formally complained about Microsoft. How timely a deed.

Here is the group demanding that Family Guy ads for Microsoft/Windows are pulled entirely. This has already happened to an extent.

The organization’s national grassroots director, Gavin McKiernan, delivered a speech to the board stating, “Mr. MacFarlane’s Family Guy has consistently presented excessively violent, graphically sexual and profane material. The lead in and lead out of the Seth MacFarlane special were both Family Guy episodes supported by Windows 7.”

The Seattle-based, Microsoft-friendly sites have covered this also:

Seattle P-I Microsoft blog: Parent group to Microsoft: Stop supporting ‘Family Guy’

The Parents Television Council, which aims to protect children from sex, violence and profanity on TV, is calling for Microsoft to stop advertising on the popular show “Family Guy.”

Seattle Weekly blogs: Parents Group Asks Microsoft to Drop All ‘Family Guy’ Ads

Microsoft found out that Seth MacFarlane’s one-hour “Family Guy” special was filled with jokes about the Holocaust, Mother Theresa and incest they canceled their sponsorship. Now, the same busybodies that got the FCC to fine ABC for daring to show a bare ass on “NYPD Blue” have asked them to go one step further.

Perhaps Microsoft has simply lost the plot. The viral videos of Microsoft Store staff dancing deliriously sure is a sign.

Links 22/11/2009: Mandriva Stuff, OOo4Kids Now as Sugar Activity

Posted in News Roundup at 4:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Linux is Best for PHP Development

    This is not really a RULE, but it is pretty cool to know that the server on your laptop or home pc is actually set up exactly like the server you are going to run your application on. The reasons? Quite simply, you will be developing on a local server (localhost) that is usually Windows-based, right? And when you deploy your application / website, it is going to run on a Linux server? The semantics might not mean anything to you, but what is important is that Windows-based servers are not really case sensitive. In other words, you could have a url like http://mysite.com/folderName/ when you set up your website on your Windows localhost. Mostly you might think this looks cool. So you set up all of your links like that, and everything is just perfect. Then off you go and upload your site to your webserver and…well, the link does not work, even though you have tested everything a million times. I promise you–because I have done it–that you will not think about the capitalization the first time it happens to you. Trust me. All you get is a “page not found” error even though you know the page exists. Frustrating and time killing if you have more than ten links on your website. Besides that, Linux is a very stable environment to develop on. Our company development server is an Ubuntu-based OS that runs 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and has never, ever been shut down or turned off in the last four years. In that same time it has never crashed or frozen. To me that is respectable.

  • The times they are a-changin’

    As some of you might already know, my next step, which has had me bouncing off the walls for the last month, is to join the great folks at Collabora Multimedia working on the PulseAudio sound server. I’ll be working from home here, in Bangalore (in your face, 1.5-hour commute!). It is incredibly exciting for me to be working with a talented bunch of folks and actively contributing to open source software as part of my work!

  • Desktop

    • VMWare Workstation 7 and Ubuntu 9.10 Easy Install – Too easy?

      Took about 15 minutes when it was all said and done, including the reboot and mostly automated VMWare Tools install. Very nice. Very similar to how the last time I used VMWare Fusion to run Windows XP it asked for username, password, CD-Key, etc and automated the entire thing.

      Now, all I’ve gotta do is install 107 updates for Karmic Koala… perhaps the installer team could have integrated a quick update during the install.

      Overall, very impressed. Could have used more bacon.

  • Google

    • Who do you trust with your data ?!

      The operating system will essentially be your Google Chrome browser and little else. Any data you need to save will be held on Google’s servers somewhere in the world. Would you be happy with this arrangement ?. I expect that when you first load up the new OS or very soon thereafter, you will be asked to tick a box agreeing to their terms before you can proceed further in setting up your account. This is the bit where you will sign your digital life away to an organisation you will have to place your total trust in.

    • Building ChromeOS on Gentoo
  • Kernel Space

    • Toward a smarter OOM killer

      The Linux memory management code does its best to ensure that memory will always be available when some part of the system needs it. That effort notwithstanding, it is still possible for a system to reach a point where no memory is available. At that point, things can grind to a painful halt, with the only possible solution (other than rebooting the system) being to kill off processes until a sufficient amount of memory is freed up. That grim task falls to the out-of-memory (OOM) killer. Anybody who has ever had the OOM killer unleashed on a system knows that it does not always pick the best processes to kill, so it is not surprising that making the OOM killer smarter is a recurring theme in Linux virtual memory development.

    • Linus Torvalds – Time for a Nobel Peace Prize?

      That list of Linux-related or -inspired developments is only partial. Here in the Northwest, for example, we could add the Free Geek operations in Portland, which do a lot of good for not only the low-income people and non-profit groups they are specifically aimed to help, but also almost everyone who comes into contact with them. The effects though have been world-wide, and are accelerating. And could grow faster with a little more attention.

  • Applications

  • K Desktop Environment

    • Who is KDE?

      Clearly, whiteboard is more my medium than Kolourpaint with a trackpad. However, all of the stores in this area of Berlin close at 2pm, which means we haven’t been able (or rather: forgot to, this morning, and then tried and failed after lunch) to purchase some pens for use in the KDE office.

  • Distributions

    • Back to relative stability with Funtoo

      In my last post, I’d mentioned that I planned on reinstalling Gentoo to fix several dependency issues that had made upgrading packages an impossibility. I chose to use the Funtoo variant and have since become an expert with the install process.

    • Mandriva

      • Happy first time Linux users, with Mandriva 2010

        …anyway, a happy user, and looks like another couple of Mandriva converts.

      • Replacing Windows Apps

        One of the reason I run Linux on the desktop is to be able to have a local web server available for testing purposes and Mandriva makes that a simple process. to do so easily, however, you first have to install the drakwizard package from the repositories. Once you have done so and reloaded the control center, the Sharing categorywill show up which allows the setup of a web server. Follow up by installing Webmin and you have a great environment ready in which to play.

    • Debian Family

    • Comparisons

      • Difference Between Ubuntu and Fedora

        Something that is a little bit less important but might impact some users is the installer. Fedora installers often have a lot of packages that you can choose from during installation, meaning bigger file sizes for the installer itself. Ubuntu, on the other hand, has a very small installer as it does not come with a lot of packages. After installation, it prompts the user to check online for additional packages that might be needed for the OS to run at optimum or just any package that the user might want or need.

      • Looking closer at Fedora, Ubuntu live CDs
  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Nokia to Consolidate Handset Lineup…Finally

        The Finnish company’s success selling low- to mid-range smartphones in developing markets is well documented, but Nokia continues to lose ground in the U.S. and Europe as superphones from Apple and Research In Motion chip away at its market share. And Nokia is increasingly threatened by Android, which has gained sudden momentum in the wake of its Verizon Wireless Droid initiative.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • JOLICLOUD Linux OS review

        We have seen plethora of Linux variants based on Ubuntu, Fedora, Arch and so on. The people behind JOLICLOUD, a Linux OS say that we, the netbook owners will soon be ‘Jolicloud-ed’. But, is being Joliclouded beneficial at all? Let’s see how is the new Jolicloud OS from a viewpoint of a die-hard Linux user.

Free Software/Open Source

  • OOo4Kids.activity.xo is available !

    On XO machines, when using Sugar, an application must respect some criterias, to appear listed as activity. We had in the scope to provide OOo4Kids as activity on Sugar.

  • Could Mozillians help reinvent local news?

    While I’ve only just glanced at all the Knight and Sunlight stuff quickly, it does feel like there could be some useful connections here. Maybe simply by developers or others from the Mozilla community proposing ideas to Knight? Or maybe, at some point, through a more joint initiative through Drumbeat? I’m going to think on it a little and possibly post again. In the mean time, I’d welcome comments / brainstorms / proposals from any Mozilla people reading this post.

  • Free Software, Free Society: Of Democracy and Hacking

    When explaining why Free Software is important, one question that often comes up is: “do I really need the software freedom?”

    The utility of software freedom is indeed not obvious for all. Not everyone can understand the source code of a program, and less modify it. It appears that the capacity to enjoy the four freedoms is only valuable to hackers and programmers. It’s hard to convince people to give up on proprietary software only for freedom’s sake, as long as they don’t understand the utility of that freedom.

  • 21 Grams and a Billion Dollars

    How is it we can know the weight of a person’s soul* but not be able to measure the success of a piece of individual FOSS software with the truly compelling metrics needed to satisfy and influence enterprise adopters and governments.

  • FLOSS Weekly 96: BioPerl
  • Openness

    • Open Government Data Poster

      It gives me great pleasure to finally complete a design project i’ve been tinkering with for months, the “how to open government data(and how not to)” poster. It forms the last part of Ton Zijlstra and my research project on open government data for for the Ministry of Interior Affairs (Ministerie van Binnenlandse Zaken en Koninkrijksrelaties).

    • Opening up the Black Box of Scientific Research

      Not quite sure how this will scale, but anything whose “fundamental goal” is “to render transparent the black-box of scientific research” sounds good to me.

Leftovers

  • Companies typically tell us what technology we can—and can’t—use. It’s time to end those policies.

    For years, the big breakthroughs in computing technology came in corporate IT departments and university computer labs. But that started to change as the cost of PCs plunged and they became fixtures in people’s homes. Now consumers buy more PCs than businesses do—and the consumer market spurs the most interesting innovations.

  • YouTube to Help Sites Gather News Clips

    YouTube has signed up NPR, Politico, The Huffington Post and The San Francisco Chronicle for YouTube Direct, a new method for managing video submissions from readers.

  • YouTube’s Auto Caps Not Only Help The Deaf, But Searchers Too

    In a move that will make hundreds of thousands more videos accessible to the deaf and hearing impaired, Google Thursday announced that videos on its YouTube site would sport machine-generated automatic captions.

  • Tibet thrown under the bus

    The magic words are “we recognize that Tibet is part of the People’s Republic of China.” Although the State Department has stated these words or similar ones for decades, so far as anyone can discover, this is the first time an American president has ever made such a statement in public, before the television cameras of the world’s press. Beijing is trumpeting the Obama declaration with lead articles in People’s Daily, the Chinese Communist Party newspaper.

  • Environment

    • How 16 ships create as much pollution as all the cars in the world

      Last week it was revealed that 54 oil tankers are anchored off the coast of Britain, refusing to unload their fuel until prices have risen.

      But that is not the only scandal in the shipping world. Today award-winning science writer Fred Pearce – environmental consultant to New Scientist and author of Confessions Of An Eco Sinner – reveals that the super-ships that keep the West in everything from Christmas gifts to computers pump out killer chemicals linked to thousands of deaths because of the filthy fuel they use.

  • Finance

    • Obama Creates Task Force to Fight Financial Fraud

      The Obama administration announced a government-wide task force to combat financial fraud after the U.S. recession led to an increase in economic crimes.

      President Barack Obama today signed an executive order creating the task force that seeks more cooperation among federal government agencies, and state and local officials, to investigate and prosecute cases.

    • Cotchett Sues Wall Street over Alleged Bid-Rigging in Municipal Derivative Market

      Cotchett’s suit isn’t the only civil suit that the bank defendants–which include Bank of America, JPMorgan, and Citigroup–have to be worried about. They are defendants in New York federal court in a class action filed by states, cities, and counties. The lead counsel there are the law firm Hausfeld; Boies, Schiller and Flexner; and Susman Godfrey.

  • Internet/Censorship/Web Abuse/Rights

    • Manchester area post codes where the foolish can apply for an ID Card

      They have also broadened the potential catchment area, by including not just permanent residents, but anyone who works at premises within the designated Post Codes as well.

      However you will already have to have a Passport in order to apply for an ID Card, so what exactly is the incentive for doing so ?

      Remember also, that once you have been registered on the National Identity Register , your biometrics and other personal data will never be removed, for the rest of your life (and beyond), even if you decide not to renew your ID Card.

    • Reformer of the Year

      Heather Brooke, the Freedom of Information campaigner, has won a poll to find the Reformer of the Year for 2009. Ms Brooke, who was a pivotal figure in unveiling the MPs’ expenses scandal, won the title in a landslide, securing over a thousand of the 1,157 votes.

    • Jack Straw pledges action to end libel tourism

      JACK STRAW is preparing to draw up proposals for wholesale reform of England’s libel laws, after a long-running Sunday Times campaign.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Will secret copyright treaty restrict your digital rights?

      Most Americans expect that their laws are only passed after some period of public debate between Republicans and Democrats or their news-channel proxies. However, the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) may be an exception to this rule, and if it is signed, many United States laws concerning the Internet and ownership of data may become substantively different.

    • ACTA

      RT @jamie_love US government says ACTA would implement DMCA section 512(i) , which requires ISPs terminate accounts of repeat infringers

    • No, ACTA Secrecy Is Not ‘Normal’ — Nor Is It A ‘Distraction’

      Over the last few weeks people who are actually concerned about individual rights have done a decent job sounding the alarm about the problems with what little we’ve seen of the ACTA negotiations. In the last week or so, those who work for the entertainment industry have suddenly started scrambling to respond, after realizing that more and more people are starting to pay attention and to worry about ACTA. However, it’s been pretty funny to watch the desperate attempts by industry lawyers to try to paint this all as much ado about nothing (with gratuitous swipes at those of us who have called attention to what’s going on).

    • Cronyism

      RT @jimkillock Record industry publishes #digitaleconomy bill *before* government http://bit.ly/digitaleconom… >>blatant or what?

    • Stopping the ACTA Juggernaut

      The ACTA juggernaut continues to roll ahead, despite public indignation about an agreement supposedly about counterfeiting that has turned into a regime for global Internet regulation. The Office of the United States Trade Representative (USTR) has already announced that the next round of Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) negotiations will take place in January — with the aim of concluding the deal “as soon as possible in 2010.”

      For the rest of us, with access to only leaks and whispers of what ACTA is about, there are many troubling questions. How can such a radical proposal legally be kept so secret from the millions of Net users and companies whose rights and freedoms stand to be affected? Who decides what becomes the law of the land and by what influence? Where is the public oversight for an agreement that would set the legal rules for the knowledge economy? And what can be done to fix this runaway process?

    • USA Treaty Priorities?

      Maybe the only explanation for the US being the last holdout from this worthy sounding treaty that even Somalia will ratify is that it is just too busy protecting the obsolete business models of the RIAA and MPAA through the secret ACTA treaty process and doesn’t have enough time or resources to worry about lesser priorities, such as protecting children.

    • BREAKING: Leaked UK government plan to create “Pirate Finder General” with power to appoint militias, create laws

      A source close to the British Labour Government has just given me reliable information about the most radical copyright proposal I’ve ever seen.

      Secretary of State Peter Mandelson is planning to introduce changes to the Digital Economy Bill now under debate in Parliament. These changes will give the Secretary of State (Mandelson — or his successor in the next government) the power to make “secondary legislation” (legislation that is passed without debate) to amend the provisions of Copyright, Designs and Patents Act (1988).

    • Petition

      We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to abolish the proposed law that will see alleged illegal filesharers disconnected from their broadband connections, without a fair trial.

    • Dictatorial, disastrous, dire: Mandelson must not pass

      The powers that he wants to create – by means of a statutory instrument, which bypasses Parliamentary debate and decision – will criminalise downloading of content without permission. They will give him or anyone he chooses the power to enforce by law any action he or his successor thinks fit, in the service of protecting copyright.

    • Questions for Lord Mandelson

      The bill includes a provision for unappointed, unelected, monopoly collecting societies to “assume a mandate to collect fees on behalf of rights holders who have not specifically signed up to that society.” Why should doing this be considered anything less than criminally defrauding the people these fees will be collected from and stealing copyright (in the true sense of claiming ownership, not the way it is misused as a synonym for infringement)?

      Why does the government see file sharing as both so trivial that it can be dealt with by just sending a letter and simultaneously so serious that it warrants the imposition of a new £50,000 fine?

    • Mandelson’s Madness

      This is penalising every other industry, and every online user, for the sake of one, congenitally lazy sector that has fought every new technology for the last century on the basis that it will “destroy” its business model, and “ruin” it. Of course, just as every new technology turned out to be a new *opportunity* for those self-same companies once they were forced to work with it rather than against, so file-sharing will enable a host of new business models. Until that point, though, if the current proposals go through, we will all be paying the price for this unjustifiable preferential treatment.

    • British Government Goes Batshit Insane Over Internet
    • Common Misconceptions about Plagiarism and Patents: A Call for an Independent Inventor Defense

      Now that we know who are the people opposed to an international treaty to facilitate access and sharing of accessible formats of works for blind people and people with reading disabilities, let’s read what their arguments against the treaty are.

    • p2pnet: for sale

      A patron who believed p2pnet was worth keeping online stepped forward at the last minute and has been paying most of the bills ever since. Unfortunately for us both, however, he’s now struggling to keep his own businesss going and has had to stop.

IRC Chats with Pidgin!


White-Collar Crime Pays Off, Shows Microsoft OOXML

Posted in Europe, Fraud, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, Standard at 7:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

OOXML is fraud

Summary: OOXML scandals in France revisited; Microsoft blasted in Denmark over OOXML lies, reveals the Danish press

AS a reminder of what Microsoft did for OOXML in France, see the following older posts:

Reports are arriving now from France (mostly in French [1, 2, 3]) which suggest that major scandals — notably AFNOR — have paid off. There are protests over it, but Glyn Moody says about them: “in vain, of course”

FR: Advocacy group protests government’s approving of OOXML

[...]

France on 11 November published its Référentiel Général d’Interopératibilité (General interoperability framework for public administrations and local governments, RGI). To allow public administrators to exchange documents without trouble, the RGI recommends they use an ISO-approved document format based on XML. “Two such office formats coexist today, ODF (Open Document Format) and OOXML (Office Open XML).”

This is outrageous, but then again, Microsoft is above the law. European governments want ODF, but with Microsoft cronies among them (the new European Croniession for example), it’s not up for the people to decide.

As IBM’s Rob Weir and others like Mary McRae (OASIS) state, ODF 1.2 is just around the corner.

To OASIS members, Public Announce Lists:

The OASIS Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) TC has recently approved the following specification as a Committee Draft and approved the package for public review:

Open Document Format for Office Applications (OpenDocument) Version 1.2

As we noted last week, Microsoft was accused of lying in Denmark and the Danish press is all over it, leading also to this response/clarification from Weir:

There is more OOXML controversy in the news, this time in Denmark. I don’t claim to understand all the nuances of the accusations, since I don’t read Danish, and Google Translates makes it sound at times like a discussion about loaves of rye bread or something, but the gist of it, as I can surmise from this account, is whether Office 2010 will “support the complete ISO-approved version of OOXML”. Microsoft’s spokesperson says it will. Mogens Kühn Pedersen, chair of the Danish Standards Committee, says it will not.

[...]

The problem you run into here is that there are really two different OOXML standards: the new and improved OOXML Strict conformance class, the one that was “sold” to ISO NBs, the one that garnered the approval votes, and then the old ugly one, the “haunted” specification, the Transitional conformance class, supported only by Microsoft Office. Anyone considering adopting OOXML should have perfect clarity as to which one they are adopting, especially since these are two very different standards, both formally and logically. Just as it is problematic to speak about OOXML support in a product without stating which conformance classes and targets are supported, it is equally a defect of any adoption policy to be loose in what version of OOXML is being proposed for adoption.

IMHO, if you must state a requirement for OOXML (along with ODF), at least specify it clearly, and state a requirement for “strict conformance” (meaning no extensions) of the Strict conformance classes of ISO/IEC 29500:2008. To do otherwise is to essentially specify a requirement for the use of Microsoft Office and Microsoft Office alone.

Also from IBM there is this new article:

Summary: Writing a Web service that produces data in text format is quite simple, but users often prefer getting something they can work in, like spreadsheets. Producing ODF spreadsheets isn’t particularly complicated, and this article introduces some ways of doing so working with PHP and Python.

Sun and Nokia folks now write about the recent events that covered OpenOffice.org and ODF.

In the week of November 2nd I travelled to a little village in Italy called Orvieto. The reason for going to this lovely town is two conferences in a row.
The first one is the OpenDocument plugfest. The second is the openOffice.org conference, both of which were new experiences for me.

The ODF plugfest is a meeting where different implementors of a standard come together and come up with user scenarios and test how well they port between the implementations.
So you’ll see a document created in KWord being opened in OpenOffice.org and Microsoft Office and investigations started when the resuls are not as expected.

It is abundantly clear that many countries, companies and products are involved in ODF. The same cannot be said about the proprietary Microsoft OOXML, which made an abomination out of ISO.

“The Norwegian [OOXML] affair was a scandal and we are still pursuing it. We haven’t given up hope of changing the vote back to No, and we hope people who experienced similar travesties in other countries will do the same.”

Steve Pepper

Novell coffee

Novell and Microsoft Have Big XAML News in Store

Posted in GNOME, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Red Hat, Ubuntu at 6:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Express

Summary: Novell and Microsoft grow closer when it comes to an attack on Web standards; removal of Mono still proving tricky

AS time goes by, the agenda of Microsoft apologists at Novell becomes a lot clearer. Novell had presence at Microsoft’s development event and Microsoft finally admits that Mono and Moonlight are just Microsoft supplants that serve Microsoft investors.

Microsoft: Open source protects Silverlight investments

[...]

[Microsoft's] Goldfarb and Mono project lead Miguel de Icaza had a lively discussion about some of the legal technicalities concerning the work at a Tuesday evening cocktail party. Goldfarb told SD Times that he and de Icaza were commited to driving the work forward, and that an announcement will be made in the coming weeks (or months).

This is all rather appalling, but it should not be surprising as it comes from member of the CodePlex Foundation board, which presents a conflict of interests (serving Microsoft’s interests). This might also explain why Novell has done so much promotion of Microsoft XAML recently, wanting to warp the GNU/Linux desktop to proprietary Microsoft APIs.

Last week we saw Novell's work taking its toll on the GIMP. More people seem to think that Paint.NET is a possibility now that the GIMP gets snubbed to give way to a whole stack of Microsoft/Novell software.

Even if I can agree about Gimp being complex and targeted to professionals, I can’t see f-spot as a good enough replacement.

Couldn’t we just port Paint.NET to Mono and use that instead? Ops.. :)

In Ubuntu, there is no reason to pull an entire Mono stack for F-Spot; gThumb is already available and Fedora 12 can use that too [1, 2]. Why would Fedora add F-Spot while removing Tomboy? It beats the purpose.

Straight from the release notes of the recently released Fedora 12:

Gnote is installed by default in GNOME for this release replacing Tomboy. Gnote is a port of Tomboyfrom Mono to C++ and consumes fewer resources. Gnote is both an applet that can sit in your GNOME panel as well as an individual application you can run within other desktop environments. Fedora Desktop Live CD since the Fedora 10 release has excluded Mono and hence Mono-based applications like Tomboydue to lack of space.

As constantly stressed these days, Mono and Mono-dependent applications should ideally be removed and treated in the same way as proprietary [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

“The patent danger to Mono comes from patents we know Microsoft has, on libraries which are outside the C# spec and thus not covered by any promise not to sue. In effect, Microsoft has designed in boobytraps for us.

“Indeed, every large program implements lots of ideas that are patented. Indeed, there’s no way to avoid this danger. But that’s no reason to put our head inside Microsoft’s jaws.”

Richard Stallman

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