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ODF on Linux-based Mobile Devices (KOffice and Androffice)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Office Suites, OpenDocument, Videos at 11:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Videos of Androffice running on Android, KOffice running on Maemo (both with OpenDocument support)

For those who argue that ODF is not widely deployed and supported, here are a couple of videos from this year.

Direct link

Direct link

Eye on Apple, Microsoft: More Flukes, PR Problems

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Vista 7, Windows at 11:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: A couple of new articles from the British press and one which is a parody

Apple voids warranties over cigarette smoke, users say

A Mac user claims that Apple voided her warranty and refused to repair her machine because it was “contaminated” with cigarette smoke.

iPhone worm hjacks ING customers

The second worm to infect jailbroken iPhone users reportedly targets customers of Dutch online bank ING Direct.

Surfers visiting the site with infected devices are redirected to a phishing site designed to harvest online banking login details, the BBC reports. ING Direct told the BBC it planned to warn users’ of the attack via its website, as well as briefing front line call centre staff on the threat.

Windows 7

The “Windows 7 Launch Party” ads are proof that the Homo Sapiens are dividing into new species. Whole teams of marketing executives, PR hacks and television “people” got together and produced this thing without once realizing it was a parody of human interaction. And they aren’t rogue mutants; those are modern jobs – entire tax brackets filled with things who can no longer communicate with real people without a team of fake-smiling market-focussed minorities. And it’s interesting to see that, on some survey somewhere, “old” is now a token demographic.

Do Patent Deals with Microsoft Knock GNU/Linux Vendors Out of GNU/Linux Business?

Posted in Corel, GNU/Linux, Mandriva, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents, Red Hat, Turbolinux, Ubuntu, Xandros at 11:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sure seems like it

Xandros patent protection sale

Summary: How four vendors of desktop GNU/Linux lost their direction after joining Microsoft’s software patents racket

LINSPIRE/LINDOWS is no more, as things went downhill after it had signed a patent deal with Microsoft. It sold out, so GNU/Linux users did not give it a second chance. As for Novell, it seems heavily focused these days on Silverlight and .NET. Moonlight and Mono are no longer even targeting GNU/Linux; Novell releases Mono products for platforms like the Apple iPhone, Mac OS X, even Windows [1, 2], with similar impact on the Nintendo Wii. Novell has essentially been transformed by the Microsoft deal just like Corel was.

“Perhaps there has not been high demand for their $50 Microsoft “patent protection” product for Debian derivatives.”Back in June, Xandros publicly revealed that is was not a GNU/Linux company anymore. “We are kind of getting away from being a Linux company” is the exact quote. Perhaps there has not been high demand for their $50 Microsoft "patent protection" product for Debian derivatives.

Well, based on this new press release (also here), Xandros walks further away from GNU/Linux, which is good news given what the company has done to GNU/Linux (and for Microsoft).

Xandros today announced the launch of Apps2Market, the first true cross-platform white label application store and m-commerce service. Apps2Market creates custom app store environments that are capable of reaching users with any digital content and applications in a growing, fragmented internet-connected device market.

Here is a short article about this.

Calling it the “first rue cross-platform white label applications store,” Apps2Market is aimed at creating an app store for any platform out there, so long as it’s Intel or ARM-based web-devices. The idea is that software vendors, automotive vendors, or any other manufacturers can create a marketplace custom-tailored for applications specific to the device they’re selling.

The last time we wrote about Turbolinux we showed that it too had lost its direction after the patent deal with Microsoft. Deals with Microsoft are a death knell. By contrast, companies like Mandriva, Red Hat and Canonical stayed focused. The conclusion is obvious.

With gThumb and Gnote in Ubuntu 10.04, Default Install Would be Leaner, Mono Free

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Ubuntu at 10:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Constructive suggestions for Canonical to save disk space and also remove a controversial dependency that slows Ubuntu down

SEVERAL days ago we wrote about the decision to put F-Spot in Fedora (GNOME) and also to remove GIMP from Ubuntu under the presumption that F-Spot can replace it for most uses. Putting Photoshop apologists aside, GIMP is a valuable program that should stay for the following reasons, as Ravi puts them:

  1. One of the ways of introducing people to alternative software is to include it in the default installation of Linux and have it readily accessible to the users from the menu. Removing GIMP would mean encouraging people to think that Linux is “not ready for serious users.”
  2. If saving space on the disk is the major issue, why not replace OpenOffice.org with equivalent software such as Abiword and Gnumeric ? After all, how many general users of Linux (or Windows for that matter) use a word processor or spread sheet program? And OpenOffice.org occupies far more space than GIMP.
  3. GIMP’s user interface may be out of the ordinary. But to those who have gotten used to this interface, Photoshop’s interface is out of the ordinary. (Believe me, I use GIMP for touching up and preparing all the images you see on this blog. And I find GIMP a lot more intutive than Photoshop). Bottom line is, it is a matter of getting used to.
  4. Agreed, you can always install GIMP using a simple apt-get install. But what about those users who do not have ready access to Internet (and there are lots of them out there who own a computer but rely on Cybercafes for reading their email and web browsing). There will be no easy recourse for these set of Ubuntu users who wish to install and use GIMP.

Another important possibility is to remove Mono and save a lot of space, as well as legal hassle [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. Gnote would fit nicely in Ubuntu 10.04, so there goes the problem of Mono altogether.

In the Ubuntu-devel mailing list, Dave Morley has just made this instructive suggestion advocating gThumb as a substitute for F-spot.

On the whole you could replace f-spot with gthumb and most users simply wouldn’t notice, f-spot does organising no better or worse now, it’s only 2 big advantages I see are uploading to online galleries and timeline view.

Worth paying attention to is the part which says that “Gthumb runs faster than fspot by about 10 second on one folder holding about 69 photos.” We previously remarked on the poor performance of Mono by producing comparable figures (as shown below).

Gnote vs Tomboy

Eye on Security: COFEE Still Leaked, New Windows Pandemic in the East

Posted in Security, Windows at 7:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Old cup

Summary: Assorted new links about security

Microsoft kills COFEE download (more here)

According to SFGate, thousands of copies have already been downloaded, so Microsoft’s COFEE software is pretty much public now.

China warns of a new virus

A PARTICULARLY NASTY computer virus has been discovered in China and the government there is warning that it could spread fast.

Although details of the Worm_Piloyd.B are fairly sketchy at the moment, it is unusual to get a virus warning from China before the rest of the world has caught it.

Symantec Japan website bamboozled by hacker

Romanian hacker Unu used off-the-shelf tools (Pangolin and sqlmap) to steal a glimpse at the database behind Symantec’s Japanese website. A peek at the Symantec store revealed by the hack appears to show clear-text passwords associated with customer records. Product keys held on a Symantec server in Japan were also exposed by the hack.

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: November 23rd, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

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

Links 23/11/2009: Sheela Adopts GNU/Linux, Pegatron Smartbook Debuts

Posted in News Roundup at 6:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Two-Wheel Linux, and Other Reasons to Be Thankful for FOSS

    Monoculture in software may have been an improvement over “the previous chaos,” but “monoculture has its problems for monopolistic pricing, epidemics of malware, rigid licensing and a constant struggle to get machines to work for us,” Pogson asserted.

    FOSS, on the other hand, “is the right mix of chaos and order,” he said. “We need both to have a healthy, innovative, flexible infrastructure in IT.”

    In other words, Pogson added, “way to go FLOSS!”

  • Will Windows 7 Promote Linux Adoption?

    Windows users will soon discover that their system contains some powerful utilities that run directly from the dreaded command prompt without engaging the installed versions of the Korn or C Shells.

  • ‘Linux Saves Costs, Provides Flexibility’

    Sheela Group is one of Asia’s largest manufacturers of P.U. (Polyurethane) foam products. Geographically we are present in three countries and are better known by our brand ‘Sleepwell’. We have 10 manufacturing locations in India and 6 in Australia. Our market share in the P.U. foam industry in India and Australia is around 40 and 45 percent respectively. In India we have a distribution network of over 70 distributors and 3000 dealers.

  • netfabb Studio for Linux launched on Facebook

    netfabb is proud to announce the release of a linux beta version of the netfabb Studio Basic software. The software can be downloaded from the netfabb Facebook page at

  • Softpedia Linux Weekly, Issue 72

    The following Linux-based operating systems were announced last week: Parted Magic 4.6, Fedora 12 and KNOPPIX 6.2. This week’s YouTube-powered video clip showcases the magical powers of the upcoming Chrome operating system from Google. At the end of the weekly you will find the latest Linux distributions released and updated last week, and, of course, the development releases.

  • Nov 22: #085 – Computer America #20

    Why Linux is better — inspired by an e-mail from listener TJ.

  • Server

    • Supercomputer uses a GPU cluster

      THE AUSSIE Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) has just knocked together a supercomputer that’s based around a cluster of graphics processing units (GPUs).

    • Jaguar outruns Roadrunner

      The bi-annual Top500 list of the world’s biggest and fastest supercomputers has just been released and shows that Linux-based systems now account for more than 90% of the Top500. Even more interesting is that IBM’s Roadrunner supercomputer, which has dominated the top spot of late, has been dethroned, and substantially so by the Cray XT5 Jaguar.

    • IBM: Back To The Future

      We’ve seen improvements in scale in our zSeries mainframes running Linux, along with networking connectivity and bandwidth and virtualization. It’s the hardware, the entire software stack and the services. In addition, we have a couple of green data centers in Raleigh and Boulder that dramatically improve their efficiency.

    • MXsense Announces Email Archiving Support for Linux and Unix Email Servers

      MXsense Solutions, Inc. today announced a new version of its MXsense Web-based email archiving solution which now supports Linux and Unix operating systems.

  • Google

    • Chrome OS Screenshots
    • A Chrome OS Video Tour

      Fresh off the Interwebs, here’s a Tech Broiler video tour of the latest build of Chrome OS.

    • Chrome’s mission: Making Windows obsolete

      Some people are already convinced that Google will fail with its Chrome operating system. Others think that Chrome can’t possibly be a threat to Windows. Both groups are so, so wrong.

      First, for those who think that Chrome is simply a failure from the word “go”, their reasoning is pathetically flawed. They argue that Chrome will fail because it’s based on Linux. What century are these people from?

    • Chromium OS, Moblin, Ubuntu Netbook Remix Benchmarks

      Next up is Google’s much talked about Chromium OS, which is the open-source version of Chrome OS. With build 999.999.32609.201950-a1 of Chromium OS we had a 2.6.30 kernel (2.6.30-chromeos-intel-menlow), X Server 1.6.3, xf86-video-intel 2.8.0, GCC 4.4.1, and an EXT3 file-system by default. Chromium OS is currently based upon Ubuntu 9.10, but as you can see from some of the version numbers, it’s only loosely based on Karmic — with an entirely different kernel, not opting to use the EXT4 file-system, and many other underlying changes. Chromium OS is also running with the Chrome OS window manager. From our initial Chromium OS testing it had ran surprisingly well on the Samsung NC10 in our hardware configuration with the only major bug we have to report being the system not rebooting properly unless holding down the power button.

    • Top 5 Chrome OS myths debunked

      Misconceptions and misinformation have surrounded the Chrome OS almost since the day it was announced. This week’s press conference at Google’s Mountain View, Calif., campus helped to clear the air, but uncertainty about what the search giant’s new OS has to offer still remains.

      The full picture of the Chrome OS will become clearer as time rolls on. For now, if you want to understand what the Chrome OS is, you first have to understand what it isn’t.

    • Google Chrome OS

      Another fact about Chrome OS, is that it is a minimal system, designed for specific use. It is NOT a fully-fledged operating system with an accompanying software-suite. Rather, it is a GUI-system based on the Chromium-browser project that lets users be “always-logged-in” via various web-services (facebook, MSN, twitter, myspace, etc.) all in one, single UI.

      A great concept for those who only use computers for surfing, mail and the like.

    • How Google’s Chrome OS is pushing us to the clouds

      Last week Google finally unveiled their much-talked-about Chrome OS, and subsequently worked the tech community into a frenzy. The operating system certainly lived up to Google’s initial promises of being browser-centric – it is basically just the Chrome web browser atop a custom Linux kernel.


      Ultimately, Chrome OS isn’t something that’s going to make people leave their Windows and Mac computers in droves. But it does have the potential to carve out a strong niche as the platform behind secondary computers (even more so than netbooks today), and it will lead to even more reliance on cloud-based services.

  • Kernel Space

    • The GStreamer, Cairo Video Hackfest Results

      Last month we talked about a hackfest to improve Linux video playback that came about after a GNOME developer began work on using Cairo/Pixman for raw video in GStreamer and looking at other ways to leverage hardware acceleration within this major open-source multimedia framework. This Linux video meeting started in Barcelona on Thursday and is ending today, with some accomplishments.

    • Does Linus Torvalds deserve a Nobel Peace Prize for Linux?

      Coincidentally, Torvalds was named after 1962 Nobel Peace Prize winner Linus Pauling, but the reason he has been put forth is because of Torvald’s work in developing the Linux kernel, which has subsequently formed the basis of many global projects that collectively make the world a better place.

    • Linux reboots are a thing of the past with Ksplice

      Even though the Linux operating system is very stable and rarely needs a reboot, there are times when an update (such as a kernel update) will make this a requirement. At least that used to be the case. That is correct. With the help of a newly developed technology (dubbed Ksplice) even a kernel update will not require a reboot. This is fantastic news to administrators who depend upon constant uptime for their servers and production desktops/machines.

    • No more rebooting. Period.

      There’s a new technology in town for the Linux operating system called Ksplice Uptrack. With this system in place you can now update your system – even the kernel – without a single reboot. Let me say that again – EVEN THE KERNEL! What exactly does that mean? You know all of those promises made by other OS vendors who claim a near 100% uptime with their machines? What happens to those machines when you install a service pack that does anything to the kernel? Time for a reboot (Actually it doesn’t even require a kernel-level update to require a reboot.)

  • Applications

  • KDE

    • digiKam and Kipi sprint

      The developers of digiKam and the Kipi project came together in Essen, Germany on November 13-15 for the second coding sprint for KDE photography applications. With digiKam preparing for the 1.0 release shortly before Christmas, plans were discussed and work began already in feature branches for the following release. A lot of work was put into polishing Windows support, with collaborative testing and bug fixing. The developers of Kamoso took the opportunity to bring Kipi support to their application. A lot of discussion was centered around a future architecture for Kipi plugins for syncing with web services and how Akonadi could help in this context.

    • Javascript plasmoids

      The other day I met with a couple of local entrepreneurs whom Chani had met at the recent Qt Dev Days in California. The four of us gathered around some tasty vegetarian vittles and discussed small devices, Qt and Plasma. It was a good time and we found a lot of common ground .. including agreeing that Javascript is a great language for writing little user interface elements quickly that will run reliably.

    • let’s do coffee ;)

      I remember the first KDE release announcement I ever wrote. It was just me and a text editor and Coolo reminding me it needed to be ready in a day or two, latest. My how things have changed (and for the better).

      I’ve also been hacking my brains out in a few different areas for 4.4, though I’ll blog about some of that later.

    • Subtle moving

      another quick micro thing that will be in Plasma for KDE 4.4: until now, the taskbar items appeared and disappeared “magically” and when a task disappeared between other two, every task immediately disappeared from where it was, appearing in the proper place. That is sooo computer behaviour, one of the little things that makes computer to look innatural and scary…

  • Distributions

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian looking at development freeze by March

        The Debian GNU/Linux project is looking at a development freeze in March next year for its next release, Squeeze, the project leader Steve McIntyre says.

      • MEPIS Birthday Surprise: SimplyMEPIS 8.5 alpha Release

        November 21 was the seventh anniversary of MEPIS Linux, so it seems fitting that Warren Woodford has uploaded SimplyMEPIS 8.4.80, the alpha release of MEPIS 8.5. Available from MEPIS and public mirrors, the ISO files for 32 and 64 bit processors are SimplyMEPIS-CD_8.4.80-a0_32.iso and SimplyMEPIS-CD_8.4.80-a0_64.iso.

      • Who’s afraid of Ubuntu Women?

        Clarify the purpose of the #ubuntu-women channel

        The group seemed to feel that there was confusion about what this IRC channel was for. A couple of men in the room said that they didn’t know whether they could or should join the channel, because it had the word “women” in the name.

      • Nouveau To Enter The Ubuntu 10.04 LTS Kernel

        With Ubuntu 9.04 it became easier to use the Nouveau driver with Ubuntu Linux as a snapshot of its DDX driver (xf86-video-nouveau) and its kernel DRM code were packaged up and made available through its package repositories, which continues to be the case in Ubuntu 9.10. Though after the Ubuntu Developer Summit last week for 10.04 “Lucid Lynx”, Canonical is now going to put Nouveau into the kernel by default. Not too many details beyond that or their intentions are known at this time, but Nouveau developers are currently being asked about the matter.

      • Smooth sailing with the Karmic Koala

        Well, I’m happy to report that in my case The Karmic Koala worked flawlessly. As far as I can tell, absolutely every single feature in my laptop works .. for the first time! You name it, it works!

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Free Linux CD eases development with LPC3131 development kit

      A Timesys Corp. LinuxLink Development Center CD is to be included with Embedded Artists AB’s LPC3131 developer’s kits, providing a free 30-day trial version of LinuxLink as well as full access to a set of Linux training and educational resources.

    • Movial Joins ARM Solution Center for Android

      Movial, the company that inspires rich and intuitive Internet experiences and a member of the ARM; Connected Community;, today announced it has joined the ARM Solution Center for Android (SCA), a collaborative resource for designers and developers of ARM technology-based products running on Android, the open source platform from the Open Handset Alliance. Movial supports ARM’s initiative by enabling ARM technology-based designers and developers to leverage Movial’s complete set of services for creating innovative and highly differentiated devices and applications withAndroid.

    • Phones

      • Dell launches a smartphone in China

        DELL HAS ANNOUNCED that its first smartphone will be launched in the Chinese market this week.

        Unveiled today, the Dell Mini 3i has a 3.5-inch touchscreen, which is a little bit sleeker than the five inch screen that was rumoured.

      • Google to anoint Android, Chrome OS love (eventually)

        Google has confessed that its Chrome OS and Android projects are likely to come together at some stage down the line as the firm continues to tinker with its operating system vision of the future.

      • Palm Pre update inbound

        The Pre smartphone will be refreshed with an updated webOS “within the next few days”, manufacturer Palm has promised.

      • Ten things mobiles have made, or will make, obsolete

        Phone boxes – Before mobile phones existed these charming, although often smelly, communication booths were very popular.


        Wristwatches – Want to know what time it is? Most people have given up on wearing a watch and simply use their mobile phone’s clock.

      • Nokia N900 – is it worth waiting for?

        Finnish telecom equipment maker Nokia is betting a lot on its latest smartphone release – N900, which comes with Linux-based Maemo OS. Though its launch date has been delayed till later this year, Nokia claims that it is worth the wait as N900 is a “game changer,” an “internet tablet” with a built-in phone that will change the way we communicate.

    • Sub-notebooks

Free Software/Open Source

  • Mozilla

  • Fog Computing

    • Clearly there is a threat to open source vendors from cloud-based services.

      Had Sun launched MySQL-as-a-service on EC2 it could have grabbed the market share that AWS will now grab with RDS. I’m not sure why Sun failed to do this, incidentally. FathomDB did it, although it lacked the market presence to prevent AWS stealing the limelight. I would argue that Sun/MySQL could have done so.

    • The Affero GPL does not solve the open source/cloud revenue dilemma

      Some commenters have proposed that the Affero GPL is a potential solution to this problem since it applies the requirements of the GNU GPL to code distributed over a network, updating the GPL for a SaaS and cloud age. However, there are a number of reasons why this is not necessarily the case. Here are three of them.

  • Business

    • Growing open source ecosystems: the install story

      While I believe that an open source project like Mylyn should welcome all integrations, an indefinitely increasing support burden is not scalable and can reduce the time available for innovation. We need to avoid the Easter Island effect where everyone builds themselves self-serving heads without prioritizing the long-term health of the ecosystem within which they operate (see Easter Island/Collapse of the Ecosystem).

    • Software pricing: to hide or not to hide? That is the question – Or have the Bazaar’s Principles become obsolete?

      Software vendors don’t like so much publishing their prices on the web site. They will explain they have a very complex price list, or can be very creative justifying why they can’t. But to make a long story short: they just don’t want to. I don’t see the value for the client to hide the price. And that’s exactly why they don’t like to show it.

    • MuleSoft Releases Mule Data Integrator for Data Mapping and Transformation

      With Mule Data Integrator’s intuitive Eclipse-based graphical designer, non-technical personnel can easily create data maps, leveraging Mule Data Integrator’s extensive support for sample documents and complete capture of specification descriptions. The designer reduces the ongoing maintenance burden with automated version upgrades and regression testing.

    • Black Duck Software

      One reason I am curious about this (outside of the fact that I really dislike the fauxpen source business model that Zenoss uses and like to point out flaws whenever I can) is that if you look at the Zenoss Subscriber Agreement (pdf), there is a very odd clause required of all users who buy the enterprise version that forbids forking.

  • Openness

    • Final chapter looms for textbooks in Texas

      Textbooks could be going the way of slide rules and Big Chief tablets within a few years in Texas classrooms.

      State legislation passed in the spring could put up-to-the-minute instructional content at students fingertips — either online or in customized printed form — eliminating the mass-market hardback textbook.

      The sea change could happen sooner rather than later, beginning as early as the 2010-11 school year.


  • E-tailers snagged in marketing ‘scam’ blame customers

    First the good news for consumers: the U.S. government’s investigation into how dozens of well-known online stores worked with controversial marketers to “deceive” customers out of $1.4 billion has prompted some retailers, including Continental Airlines, to sever ties with the marketers.

  • Government Is Good, Don’cha Know

    Why this turnaround? I have seen the light. Government is good, yes, very, very good. How do I know this? Why Douglas J. Amy, a professor of politics at Mount Holyoke College in Massachusetts (an island of True Political Correctness in America’s Most Politically-Correct State) has opened a world of Truth and Beauty to me with his website, Government Is Good.

  • Activists repeatedly stopped and searched as police officers ‘mark’ cars

    The roads were empty when Linda Catt and her father drove their white Citroën Berlingo into London on a quiet Sunday morning. They could not have known they were being followed.

    But at 7.23am on 31 July 2005, the van had passed beneath an automatic number plate recognition (ANPR) camera in east London, triggering an alert: “Of interest to Public Order Unit, Sussex police”. Within seconds Catt, 50, and her 84-year-old father, John, were apprehended by police and searched under the Terrorism Act.

    After filing a complaint, the pair, neither of whom have criminal records, discovered that four months earlier, a Sussex police officer had noticed their van “at three protest demonstrations” and decided, apparently on that basis, it should be tracked.

  • Shooting Incident Sparks Anger at U.N. Troops

    Boutaud de la Combe, the U.N. spokesperson, told IPS there is an ongoing internal investigation into the incident. She said if troops fired into the ground, not in the air, that was a mistake.

  • Finance

    • Charitable Giving Goldman Style

      And the Wall Street Journal went a step further interviewing a variety of tax experts who noted that a big chunk of the money will go to charitable institutions creating sizeable tax deductions for Goldman. “All in all, tax experts say, the ultimate cost to Goldman could total roughly $136 million to $150 million—70% or more below the half-billion figure that helped generate so much publicity for the firm this week. Interest income from the loans could lower the final bill even more.” Thanks to these reporters for a little truth in lending.

    • NY Times to Goldman Sachs: Pay up to cut public debt

      A New York Times editorial slammed Goldman Sachs for its role in the financial crisis and said that instead of paying big bonuses to its employees it should make a multibillion-dollar gift to help reduce the U.S. national debt.

  • AstroTurf

    • West Va. Chamber of Commerce Plays Dirty With Health Care Reform

      The West Virginia Chamber of Commerce is playing dirty with health care reform. It’s pressuring its homestate Democratic senators, Robert Byrd and Jay Rockefeller, to block health care legislation unless the Obama administration ends what the Chamber calls a “war on coal.”

    • Five Questions, Five Doses of Spin

      Moore said that “we got a lot of things right in the early years: stop the bombs, save the whales, stop toxic waste, but we made a mistake (on) nuclear power.” Moore could have mentioned that he is now a consultant to the NEI, which was created by the PR firm Hill & Knowlton, but didn’t.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • MPAA Says Copyright-Treaty Critics Hate Hollywood

      Dan Glickman, the MPAA’s chairman, informs lawmakers that millions of film-related jobs are in peril because of internet piracy. Simply put, those who don’t back the proposed Anti-Counterfeiting and Trade Agreement don’t support intellectual property rights, he wrote.

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

      A second point they make is that if the end result is really bad, countries can simply decide not to sign it and not to participate. Yes, stop laughing. It’s as if they think that we’re all idiots who haven’t seen how lobbyists have historically relied on the line “but we must live up to our international obligations” to push through all sorts of laws the public does not support.

Renaming Groups of Files From the Command Line

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

Patents Roundup: Bilski, USPTO and Justice for the Rich Only; ‘Community’ Patent and ‘Harmonisation’ in Europe

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 1:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Wall in paris

Summary: A large number of reports on the subject which affects Free software at a legal level

THIS is just a quick rundown through some of the patent news impacting Free software.

Red Bend sued Free software some weeks ago and there is a long article about it in LWN.net. It is available to non-subscribers now.

Even for patentese, this language tends toward the impenetrable. But once one realizes that “reference entries that contain reference that refer to other entries” means “addresses,” it starts to become a little clearer. To your editor’s overtly non-lawyerly, not-legal-advice reading, this claim does appear to describe what Courgette is doing.

The article “The Supreme Court v. Patent Absurdity” has been published by the Wall Street Journal, which includes this factoid:

One direct consequence is that “patent trolls” buy up patents so they can sue innovators. Big technology companies pool their patents to reduce lawsuits. For information technology, the costs of litigating patents may be greater than the economic benefits of patents. Real money is involved: The largest patent-case judgment is for $1.67 billion, being appealed by Abbott Labs in a case brought in the plaintiff-happy federal court in eastern Texas.

Here is perspective on the pharmaceutical industry.

The book ends with the perennial question of “would we have got where we are today without patents?” Dutfield points out that it almost goes without saying both that the pharmaceutical industry is crucially important for human welfare since it produces cures (among other things), and that it is considered to be the most dependent of all industries on patents.

This should remind us of two things that a new institutionalist approach leads us to expect. First, changes in property rights structures can never make winners out of everybody. Second, the differences between the gains for some and the losses for others are bound to be great when the biggest right holders have, as they often do, such a firm grip on the regulatory system to the partial or total exclusion of other holders, users and those representing consumer interests.

The Justice Department (and by inference/extension the USPTO) will not make many fans if it permits access only by the affluent. Groklaw complains that this new PACER survey removes/neglects privacy and the following update shows that anonymous access is not really allowed as long as RECAP is treated as too “naughty”.

NOTICE (8/22/09):The court would like to make CM/ECF filers aware of certian security conce rns relating to a software application called RECAP, which was designed by a group from Princeton University to enable th e sharing of court documents on the Internet. Once a user loads RECAP, documents that he/she subsequently accesses via PA CER are automatically sent to a public Internet repository. Other RECAP/PACER users are then able to see whether document s are available from the Internet repository. RECAP captures District and Bankruptcy Court doucments, but has not yet inc orporated Appellate Court functionality. At this time, RECAP does not appear to provide users with access to restricted o r sealed documents. Please be aware that RECAP is “open-source” software, which can be freely obtained by anyone with Int ernet access and modified for benign or malicious purposes, such as facilitating unauthorized access to restricted or sea led documents. Accordingly, CM/ECF filers are reminded to be diligent about their computer security practices to ensure t hat documents are not inadvertently shared or compromised. The court and the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts wil l continue to analyze the implications of RECAP or related-software and advise you of any ongoing or further concerns.

Groklaw remarks that the “US District Court for the District of NJ Notices RECAP” and adds: “I think whoever wrote this notice may not be aware that the federal judiciary switched to Linux for its infrastructure back in 2003, so evidently there is no cause for alarm about the flexibility of open source software. I don’t know how RECAP works, but just speaking in general. Because their system works on Linux, they have many, many options to address security successfully, even if there were valid concerns, and likely that’s one reason the courts chose Linux.

Here is an attempt to make money out of the Bilski proceedings.

A webcast of the panel discussion will be available for a registration fee of $15 (government/academic/retired FCBA member), $35 (government/academic/retired nonmember), $65 (private practitioner FCBA member), or $105 (private practitioner nonmember). Instructions for accessing the webcast can be found here. Those interested in obtaining group pricing and university law schools interested in free internet participation should contact Elisabeth Reed at reed@fedcirbar.org.

Bilski was also covered here at Patently-O, which looks at “The Value of Patents in a Major Crisis Such as an Influenza Pandemic.” People like Donald Trump are said to be making a fortune out of Swine Flu.

E.D. Texas Magistrate Judge Love has recommended that H&R Block’s advance-tax-refund patents be held invalid for failing to claim patentable subject matter under Bilski. The claims in question are all directed toward either a “computerized system” or “computer-implemented method.” Quoting Nuijten, the court first held that Bilski controls both system and method claims – since a “court should not be ‘overly concerned with pigeonholing subject matter once the court assures itself that some category has been satisfied.’”

The claimed invention involves issuing a cash-advance to income tax filers and then retaining a right to receive payment from the government.

Stupidity at the USPTO is being put to the test:

Journalists who cover Washington know the drill: top bureaucrats can be very hard to get through to, especially when you need to reach them the most.

So when ABA Journal senior writer Terry Carter got nowhere in his recent effort to reach Patent and Trademark Office director David Kappos through spokesman Peter Pappas for a story he was writing, he decided on a characteristically novel approach: on Tuesday he drafted and posted a humorous patent application for a “method to get an interview with USPTO Director David Kappos.” Edward Adams, editor and publisher of the ABA Journal, wrote in this story at the Journal Web site, “We figured the problem was that Carter was not speaking the agency’s language.”

Glyn Moody passes the message that “[Microsoft] filed a patent for sparklines in Excel, ignoring Tufte and demonstrating that the patent system is a deranged circus” and Amazon scores gift-delivery patent, according to Slashdot.

In May, the USPTO rejected Amazon.com’s patent claims (PDF) for its Method and System for Placing a Purchase Order Via a Communications Network (a 1-Click spin-off). At the time, a USPTO Examiner cited Bilski, explaining that elements of CEO Jeff Bezos’ gift-delivery invention ‘may be performed largely within the human mind,’ coming to essentially the same conclusion a NY Post reporter arrived at in 2002. But Amazon’s attorneys have worked their legal wordsmithing magic (PDF), convincing the USPTO that ‘obtaining delivery information for a gift from one or more information sources other than the gift giver and recipient’ is indeed novel and patentable. A Notice of Allowance for the patent was mailed to Amazon on November 17th, just in time for Holiday Season injunction-giving!”

The EFF has found another ugly patent to swat and it is looking for brains.

Patenting podcasting? You’ve got to be kidding. Yet a company called Volomedia just got the Patent Office to grant them such exclusive rights.

EFF and the law firm of Howrey, LLP aren’t willing to just sit by and watch. This patent could threaten the vibrant community of podcasters and millions of podcast listeners. We want to put a stop to it, but we need your help.

Thought-provoking new article at Against Monopoly: “Common Misconceptions about Plagiarism and Patents: A Call for an Independent Inventor Defense”

Defenders of patents commonly say they are against innovators’ ideas being “stolen” or “plagiarized.” This implies that patents simply permit an innovator to sue those who copy his idea. This position betrays either disingenuity or ignorance about patent law. Let me explain.

Under copyright law, someone who independently creates an original work similar to another author’s original work is not liable for copyright infringement, since the independent creation is not a reproduction of the other author’s work. Thus, for example, a copyright defendant can try to show he never had access to the other’s work, as a defense. The reason for this is that the fundamental copyright is, well, a right to copy one’s original creative work. By the nature of creative works that are subject to copyright, it is very unlikely someone would independently create the same novel, say, or painting, as another author. (And if copyright only protected literal copying, it would be much less a problem; but unfortunately it protects a bundle of rights including also the right to make “derivative works”.) But, in the rare case where author 2 independently creates a work very similar to that of author 1, it is not an infringement of author 1′s copyright, since author 2 did not copy anything.

Patent law is different. Very different. Most defenders of IP do not seem to be aware of this difference–one reason they should not be opining in favor of legal regimes they know little about. When patent defenders say that patent abolitionists are in favor of plagiarism and idea theft, they imply that patent law is like copyright law–that it simply prevents people from copying others’ ideas.

Glyn Moody adds:

“How to Fix Capitalism” is an insanely ambitious post that ranges over, well, just about everything concerned with business and all it touches. The following proposals give some hint of its deep wisdom:

# Abolish patents. They have not been proven to speed progress: the evidence seems to be to the contrary. They definitely increase costs, are an inefficient way of funding R & D and allow oligopolists to block competition.

Over in Europe, the following articles are worth a glance:

i. Internet-hosted prior art and proof of publication: UK not bound by EPO level of proof

In a recent hearing concerning a UK patent application, Ranger Services Ltd’s application, BL O/362/09, 17 November 2009, Hearing Officer Lawrence Cullen was faced with a question relating to the status of cited prior art which had been obtained from an internet archive. Rejecting the application before him, which was for a system of using an automatic number plate recognition system to detect cloned vehicle number plates, he considered that the current European Patent Office guidelines [see earlier IPKat post here] would suggest that the cited prior art should be taken into account.

ii. QinetiQ mail virus patent attracts barbs

An anti-virus expert has poured cold water on a patent from British technology firm QinetiQ that supposedly offers a new technique for tackling malicious email attachments.

No company should not be able to patent software in the UK, but Nokia is a problem in that regard (because of Symbian [1, 2]).

The ugly “Community patent” is still trying to rear its ugly head and potentially bring software patents to the whole of Europe. Here is the latest update: “EU Community Patent And UPLS: Will There Be A Political Breakthrough Soon?”

The Intellectual Property Expert Group (ipeg) are feeding hopes in their Blog that the Swedish EU Presidency might be lucky enough to successfully forge some sort of political compromise on the EU Community Patent as well as on the Unified Patent Litigation System (UPLS) later this year.

The “Community patent” is an attempt previously characterised as “harmonisation” by Charlie McCreevy and other cronies, including Microsoft lobbyists.

In relation to copyright, Glyn Moody has just explained what “harmonisation” really is about:

I and many others have noted how changes in copyright law only ever work in one direction: to *increase* copyright’s term and to give greater powers to copyright holders. In effect, it’s a ratchet. But until now, I’ve not seen a good explanation of what’s driving all this (although I had a pretty good idea). The motor behind the ratchet (assuming such mixed metaphors are permitted) is harmonisation:

Simply put, “harmonization” is a concept whereby the intellectual property laws of different countries are made consistent, mostly to facilitate international trade and business. The concept of harmonization is not unusual; almost all the states and territories in this country are signatories to the Uniform Commercial Code (UCC), a model law in the U.S. that makes consistent (or “harmonizes”) the law of contracts, sales, banking, and secured transactions. This allows firms in one state to reasonably, predictably, and consistently do business with firms in another state.

As Roger Lancefield points out in the comments,”effectively this is legal imperialism.

“It’s hard not to draw parallels with another manifestation of US legal imperialism, the extradition treaty which has destroyed Gary McKinnon’s life.” Remember what Microsoft did to McKinnon.

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