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12.04.09

Scarcity vs Abundance: Microsoft and Copyright Cartel vs the World and the People

Posted in DRM, Europe, Finance, Free/Libre Software, Google, Microsoft, Vista 7 at 10:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Al Capone mugshot and Steve Ballmer

Summary: A view on the latest attack on rights and freedom, with well-deserved focus on Microsoft Corporation’s role

WHAT was rather unsettling but telling the other day is that Microsoft was conspicuously missing from a large-scale opposition to Mandelson’s bill [1, 2], which is a Christmas gift from England to Hollywood (and the MAFIAA™ in particular). It seems safe to conclude that Microsoft is yet again sidling with the Copyright Cartel. Windows Vista and Vista 7 already have DRM crippleware built in, baked into the very core of the operating system.

According to the following new article about ACTA, there is a connection to Microsoft, which can be formulated as follows:

The term “counterfeiting” is now being used to reference any type of minor infringement of the temporary government monopolies granted to holders of patents, copyrights, trademarks or any other related rights. Rather than being seen as an offense against consumers, it has been transformed into an offense allegedly committed by consumers.

[...]

As I included in my submission to the 2009 Copyright consultation, this minor form of infringement is sometimes beneficial to the copyright holder. In 2007 Jeff Raikes, then President of the Microsoft Business Division , said “If they’re going to pirate somebody, we want it to be us rather than somebody else”. This is a recognition that while being directly compensated for a use of a copyrighted work is ideal, that infringement is better for the copyright holder than people switching to alternatives.

A far more serious form of copyright infringement is when a corporation, many that include staff lawyers who should be expected to know better, infringe copyright and commercially redistribute someone elses work without permission. As one example, yesterday I read Microsoft pulls Windows 7 download tool where Microsoft was yet again accused of commercial copyright infringement.

We should simply refer to this as “strike one”, and be done with it.

While Microsoft is just one company, they are easily accused of copyright infringement more than 3 times in any given month. If it were not for that fact that nearly every so-called “3 strikes” law were bogus, companies such as Microsoft would not be allowed to have an Internet connection (No more Bing, no more Windows or Office update or even development/testing of any of their Internet products, no more Hotmail, etc).

It isn’t as if Microsoft is alone. Brad M. Kuhn, the tech director at the Software Freedom Law Center, blogged on Sunday that, “Since 21 August 2009, I’ve been finding one new GPL violating company per day (on average) and I am still on target to find one per day for 365 days straight.”

The terms of the GPL are clearly aimed at commercial companies, given the license already grants everything a private citizen would ever want which is to legally redistribute the unmodified software for free to anyone they want, and for any recipient to use the software for free. This means that all of these potential GPL violations are commercial violations that are far more serious than anything a private citizen would do. This type of infringement is far less forgivable given companies commercially redistributing copyrighted works should be expected to hire lawyers to understand the relevant legal contracts and license agreements, while citizens shouldn’t be expected to.

Glyn Moody shares this good new essay, titled “IP and Artificial Scarcity”

Someone recently told me “I just ran across a few of your interviews and writings. I was particularly impressed with the point that IP creates scarcity where none existed before. Despite its obviousness, it is characteristic of IP that had not occurred to me before.”

Moody also shares this new example of scarcity versus abundance.

Pixies fans on the hunt for holiday fixes are in luck: The deluxe edition of the legendary band’s high-art megabox The Minotaur is finally hitting mailboxes. That includes our own, which is where Wired.com’s Michael Calore found the collector-gasm for the video tour above.

Later on, Moody writes about the subject himself.

One of the (many) things that get my goat about ACTA is the sheer dishonesty of the project. It was originally put forward as aiming to curb large-scale counterfeiting – hence its name, Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.

It was sold as only going for the “big fish”, with promises that ordinary people wouldn’t be inconvenienced. In fact, it was purely for their benefit, its proponents explained, since one of the most heinous kinds of counterfeiting it attempts to tackle is counterfeit drugs – an undeniable health hazard.

But then something strange happened. Counterfeiting morphed into copyright infringement, and yet all the legal heavy guns aimed at massive, criminal counterfeiting remain, now ranged against little you and me.

Finally, Moody shares this piece of copyright propaganda, which echoes the talking points of the BSA when it comes to software [1, 2, 3]. Just because the big companies do not manage to squeeze money out of the population does not mean it is a loss to the country. There is too much focus on “earnings” while neglecting the notion of “savings”. It is spin doctoring, and as far as the press is concerned, it proves to be effective. The press is, after all, part of the media industry, owned by the very same corporations.

Moody has also found this new article from the New Scientist. It describes this as a battle of “The people vs the entertainment industry,” but sadly enough it uses misleading propaganda terms like “piracy”.

The Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), suggested by the US administration in 2007, aims to redefine global trade rules. The intention is to stem losses from counterfeiting and internet-mediated piracy of content like music and movies.

It will do that by penalising internet service providers and websites that carry, or help people to find, pirated content. ACTA has quickly proved a hit with G8 nations, the European Union, South Korea and Australia, who are all using it as a basis for future national laws.

ACTA is still being worked up in secret by trade delegations from the many nations involved. But a series of leaks to the Wikileaks website reveal that it will require ISPs to become technological sleuths who monitor their customers’ internet use to “deter unauthorised storage and transmission of infringing content”. Infringers will face a “graduated response”, with disconnection as the ultimate sanction.

The Obama administration’s plans to implement ACTA are still hidden in a thicket of non-disclosure agreements with movie studios and record labels. The UK’s Digital Economy Bill, unveiled in last month, is clearly inspired by ACTA.

Moving on to something a little different, Google has finally responded to the Microsoft|Murdoch insult.

Google tells Murdoch to shut up

[...]

But Schmidt said Google is a “great source of promotion” for newspapers through its aggregator website Google News and other services.

There is also this headsup from Moody, who took special interest in the subject recently. We’re at a crucial legal corssroad in the UK.

Putting up paywalls around online content will not on its own transform the finances of national newspapers, but a mixed strategy of subscriptions and micropayments could prove more successful, according to research published today.

We previously covered the Microsoft|Murdoch situation in:

Microsoft is very afraid of Google, with which it is fighting for the minds of future generations. Now they are both looking to exploit young individuals. Mercury has this new article on the subject.

Microsoft, Google in battle to win over students

[...]

Neither Microsoft nor Google will disclose how much it spends to furnish those educational services, nor will they say how many schools they have signed up. But with schools under budget pressure at both the university and K-12 level, administrators are weighing concerns about the security of their data on a cloud-based network against its powerful educational features, and against its price — in most cases, zero.

Now that Google enters the dictionary and DNS business (mentioned this morning), there is more speculation about Google’s stealth and impact on competitors.

Google has quietly rolled out its own online dictionary, complete with multilingual support and accompanying photos. The new site was first discovered by the LA Times Tech Blog, and you can access it at Google.com/Dictionary.

Some Free software people are rightly concerned, but worries are accentuated due to fear mongering from the Microsoft-faithful crowd.

If Android and later Chrome OS succeed, Google may become the portal to more than just the Web. Its services will have geo-location data as well.

There is no indication yet that such data will be misplaced and/or misused, but the above is from a Microsoft fan, so it is intended to cause uncertainty and doubt. Dana Blankenhorn responds to this endless daemonisation of Google, which in part comes from Redmond.

What I want to know is, where is the evidence? Where is the evidence that Google is evil, or has done evil? I try to read all the critics and mostly what I see are intimations of what they might do.

* They might use their digitizing of books to control the book market.
* They might use their collection of personal data against you.
* They might tie their Android phones and Chromium PCs to Google services and lock others out.
* They might create a search monopoly.
* They might kill the newspaper business.
* They might take over the DNS market, and while they would be better than competitors it’s still evil.

Blankenhorn names it the “Google derangement syndrome”. Microsoft calls it "screw Google". Unless and until Google commits crimes like Microsoft has, Google is a good tool for weakening a fierce enemy of Free(dom) software.

McCreevy’s Suicidal Patent Battle to Harm Europe Glorified in Irish Press

Posted in Boycott Novell, Europe, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 9:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Charlie McCreevy portrait

Summary: The eternal battle to win a unified/harmonised/communal patent system (lobbied for by Charlie McCreevy, amongst others under these euphemisms) makes dangerous strides that threaten Free software

EARLIER today we wrote about the Swedish presidency spearheading an attack on innovation by expanding (or lobbying to expand) the scope of patents. Patenting is of course detrimental to innovation, as many independent studies indicate [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8].

The unfortunate news is that home of Charlie McCreevy and a popular destination for Microsoft lobby tourism [1, 2, 3] has its press playing along with the plot and blindly praising a system that increases litigation and damages. The Examiner (Ireland) calls it a “breakthrough” and says:

Irish companies will benefit from an EU-wide single patent system to protect their ideas and innovations.

A deal that has eluded EU ministers for decades was finally done in Brussels, establishing a cheaper, more efficient one-stop shop for patent registration in 27 countries.

President of the FFII argues that the “European Commission says that UPLS will lower the cost of a single case to 200,000EUR !!! Cheap litigation hein !!!”

They’ll always find ways of daemonising those who speak truth, as opposed as those who speak for their big wallets.

“The theme, or the background music, to both of these particular directives you could see as part of, anti-globalisation, anti-Americanism, anti-big business protests — in lots of senses, anti-the opening up of markets.”

Charlie McCreevy

A Ballot Screen is Not Justice, Internet Explorer Still Compromises Users’ PCs

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Law, Microsoft at 8:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Blue desktop

Summary: Putting ballot screens in perspective and new information about the zero-day flaw in Internet Explorer

THE purpose of Web browser ballot screens (only in Europe) is often misunderstood due to Microsoft spin doctoring.

Several Microsoft bloggers congratulate Microsoft for making changes to a ballot screen which was created almost a decade late, well after Microsoft had broken the law to obtain market share it did not deserve. This is a subject that we wrote about comprehensively in:

  1. Mozilla Unofficially Joins ECIS and Opera in Opposition to Microsoft’s Deal in Europe; Microsoft Poisoned Firefox
  2. Parties Behind Complaints Against Microsoft in EU Not Pleased
  3. Microsoft’s Older Crimes Against Web Browsers Return, Microsoft’s New Attacks on JavaScript Revisited
  4. Opera Complains About Vista 7
  5. Microsoft Bypasses the Law and Breaks the Web for Opera and GNU/Linux Users, Again
  6. Mozilla and Opera Still Object to Microsoft’s Deal with the Commission
  7. Microsoft Hopes a Tickbox Will Restore Fair Competition in Europe; Opera Disagrees
  8. Microsoft Crowd Incites People Against Rival Web Browsers

The rest is history, but the point most important to remember is that the European Commission punishes Microsoft because it deserves to be punished. Those ballot screens are well overdue and they will probably not have the desired effect anyway because Microsoft has been busy defacing the Web with more hostility towards web standards (XAML being the latest obvious example). This is nothing new. Microsoft deliberately put things in Internet Explorer which were inherently insecure (e.g. ActiveX), just so that the World Wide Web would be made incompatible with the competition.

The poor design and the negligence (nonchalance) from Microsoft recently led to a zero-day flaw in Internet Explorer [1, 2], which is only now being addressed along with other “critical” flaws.

Tuesday is due to bring six bulletins, three of which are critical. The critical fixes address flaws in Windows and Office as well as IE. The Office update covers flaws in Project, Word and Works 8.5.

Is there any major Microsoft product that does not suffer from “critical” flaws on a monthly basis?

“Our products just aren’t engineered for security.”

Brian Valentine, Microsoft executive

Vista 7 — Just Like Vista — Resorts to Corny Bus Promotion

Posted in GNU/Linux, Marketing, Microsoft, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 8:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Well the initial impression is how much it [Windows 7] looks like Vista. Which I think is…uh…the thing I’m not supposed to say.”

Microsoft Jack Schofield

Sugababes about Vista 7

Summary: More new parallels found which show the similarity between Vista marketing and Vista 7 marketing

THE reality behind Vista 7 continues to fascinate. It is like a proper duplication of the disaster known as “Vista”.

A lot of people may not remember this, but back in 2007 when Vista was “hot” (according to the mainstream press), Microsoft spread Vista buses to promote the operating system. Microsoft also resorted to using celebrities to promote Vista as we noted some days ago when covering the Sugababes move. Now it turns out that Microsoft will use both celebrities and buses to promote Vista 7. Oh, deja vu!

In addition to this, let it be remembered that Vista was hailed by Microsoft in 2007, with the conformist press acting as “yes men”. Our reader “Goblin” wrote earlier in the day: “It actually appears a little worse than that, a claimed Microsoft engineer explains how realistic reports about Microsoft products are dealt with at Redmond. Why let problems of Vista get in the way of your MS career…say its great, get promoted!?!”

As we showed before, Microsoft assaults critics of Vista 7 and bribes (“rewards”) those who praise it. To quote part of Goblin’s analysis:

Whilst the content of the letter is nothing that hasn’t been covered here before, what is interesting is a comment a little further down the page by a claimed former Microsoft engineer.

You are so right. As a former engineer at Microsoft since the early days, I witnessed a change in General Manager and Regional Vice President level management, where they punished converyors of realistic feedback and only escalated good feedback to show good results on their commitments so they can get promoted and get good performance reviews, then move on to higher paying jobs. It got worse around the Vista timeframe. From what I hear from my former friends, this has not gotten any better.

Their actions helped advance their careers, while customers suffered, and their actions effected the company’s bottom line and public pereption on Microsoft’s core competency product.

So lets look at these comments. ”Punished realistic comments” I expect most people who have a blog and have posted dissatisfaction in Microsoft products have been “punished”. There certainly a lot of that going on at comp.os.linux.advocacy when a post is made that upsets someone with a Microsoft opinion.

[...]

and I would agree. My opinion is that Steve Ballmer was well aware of the Vista shortcomings prior to it hitting the market, but by then far too much money had been spent on “the project” and they were committed for release, at the very least to recoup as much of their investment as they could. The good early reports are convenient since Mr Ballmer can put that as a justification for releasing Vista and in my opinion explains why the claimed Microsoft engineer was stating the good comments were made to further careers.

Actually, according to unsealed/leaked E-mails (deposition period) from Steve Ballmer and other people of executive ranks, they all knew very well that Vista was trouble, even ahead of its release. It did not prevent them from pretending for years that it was a fantastic operating system. We are seeing some of the same symptoms right now with Vista 7.

“Linux doesn’t have to worry much about competition,” writes an anonymous person in reply to the above. ”It appears that Microsoft will collapse from within due to mismanagement.  They can’t compete on an even playing ground, and can only win if they monopolise the market, which it appears they are doing with their .NET and Silverlight streaming video product.”

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: December 4th, 2009

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:59 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.

Links 04/12/2009: Bologna Moves to OpenOffice.org

Posted in News Roundup at 6:43 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • What About Linux?

    Finally, I find the hardware support in Linux is actually better than in Windows. Having said that, I really think hardware developers and marketers need to reevaluate the sometimes excessive costing when selling preinstalled Linux systems. And… Software developers, like Steam, Adobe, etc. quite frankly should be aware enough to realize the long term growth of Linux (including the migration to it), and develop Linux based versions of their products. Again, the thinking needs to be LONG TERM, not a quick buck in the short term.

  • Introducing L2Ork, World’s First Linux Laptop Orchestra

    “Take a netbook, Wiimotes, Nunchuks, and hemispherical speakers (which were once IKEA salad bowls), toss it up with some Ubuntu goodness and what you get is Virginia Tech’s L2Ork, the world’s first Linux-based laptop orchestra…”

  • Building a Virtual Bridge to Linux Migration

    What if your desktop could be available to you on any machine, anywhere in the world?

    That’s the promise of virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) technology, a promise that’s been heard for quite a while. But networking constraints and software compatibility have proven to be formidable obstacles to the goal of portable desktop interfaces.

    Recent announcements from Google and IBM have breathed new life into the potential of VDI, with mentions of “cloud desktops” and “persistent user interfaces” as the underlying technology for Google’s new Chrome OS and IBM’s Client for Smart Work. Chrome OS will deliver a portable desktop for users with web-based applications in a browser framework. But IBM’s Smart Work system will truly be VDI technology, thanks to Virtual Bridge’s VERDE platform.

  • Online Applications and what it means for the future of Linux.

    Linux is a great operating system. It’s open source, stable, fast, etc. But it isn’t really very much adopted. Besides FUD and advertising against Linux by companies that don’t want Linux to succeed, there’s a valid reason not to adopt Linux – application availability.

    [...]

    In conclusion, Linux has a bright future ahead of it. When it comes to browsers, the best are supported in Linux. And if web apps increase in availability and quality, we may see an exponential growth of Linux adoption, because of all it’s other qualities! The way I see it, the future is bright for Linux, as apps move from the Desktop to the cloud, and internet is becoming increasingly available.

  • Recycle Old Desktop PCs With Linux

    As more and more computers find their way to the garbage, we generate e-waste. Everyday the e-waste heap grows, and many of the computers within can be re-purposed and recycled. Re-purposing and recycling computers is extremely beneficial to our environment and light on the check book. After examining why computers typically fail, you will learn how you old desktop PC can become a “new” thin client, allowing you to work with documents, browse the web, and more.

  • Google

    • A close look at the Android OS

      Android OS is about to make the migration from mobile phone to netbook PC (most likely thanks to Asus). If you’ve not seen an Android-based phone, you most likely are not aware just what the possibilities are. Although Android won’t take the desktop or standard laptop landscape by storm, the netbook landscape COULD be totally retooled when Android becomes a viable solution for those small portable devices.

    • Chrome OS Sparks Vendor Enthusiasm, Innovation

      The fervor over Google’s new web-oriented operating system is surprising, even for ardent Linux supporters. After all, it’s only been a couple of weeks since Chrome OS was open sourced and after personally test-driving it on a virtual machine, I can tell you that while very interesting, this is still a very young system.

    • Chrome OS: Screenshots
    • What are Google’s real motivations behind Chrome OS?
  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Kernel 2.6.32 Improves the Btrfs Filesystem

      None other than the father of Linux, Linus Torvalds, announced last night, on December 2nd, the immediate availability for download of Linux kernel 2.6.32, a release that brings lots of improvements to the Btrfs filesystem, support for ACPI 4.0 and the S+core architecture, 3D and KMS support for the ATI Radeon R600/R700 graphics cards, support for Intel Moorestown, and many other goodies for all Linux users around the world.

  • Applications

  • KDE

    • digiKam approaches 1.0

      Digital photographs can be something of a pain. With the storage capacities available today, it is easy to take thousands of pictures, with no regard for the cost. With film cameras, there was an incremental cost for each shot taken and each print made, which tended to reduce—but not eliminate—the problem of organizing a photo collection. With digital photos, though, there are programs like digiKam that can assist in this task. As digiKam approaches its 1.0 release it seems like a good time to see what it can do.

    • Wow — what a great community!

      Our ace webmaster, Kubuntiac has been telling me he warned me this had happened to others, but I simply hadn’t expected so many people — 89 already — to care enough about Krita that they wanted to help us!

    • Graphics Application Krita Gets Photoshop Import

      Following the release of KOffice 2.1, developers of the free office suite met last weekend in Norway’s Oslo. Among them were the five strong team from Krita.

    • Krita Team Seeking Sponsorship to Take Krita to Next Level
  • Distributions

    • Top 7 Must See Linux Distributions

      There has always been an argument between distro users of linux ,which distro is the best.

    • Mandriva

      • Mandriva 2010 One Top Notch Version For Wireless Or Multimedia Use.

        Mandriva One Excellent Version for Wireless and Media Use For Linux Users.
        Whether multimedia, codecs assistance and wireless connection,
        it has become obvious to me that Mandriva 2010 is the best.
        Now I haven’t used the latest Fedora or Open Suse. Most other
        Debian or Red Hat versions and distros open or otherwise I
        have used.

      • Photo Sharing with Opera Unite

        Then I thought of Opera Unite. Now Opera v10.10 had just been released which was the new Opera Browser which included Opera Unite. I run PCLinuxOS2009 so I checked my repositories and there it was, newly included. A few minutes later and it was installed and running.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Election [Fedora] extensions.

        Although Mike McGrath and the Infrastructure team don’t expect the server relocation to affect our upcoming elections, we want to make sure the community’s ability to vote is not unnecessarily affected given the timing.

    • Debian Family

      • Knoppix founder Klaus Knopper speaks

        Klaus Knopper teaches at the Kaiserslautern University of Applied Sciences where he lectures in software engineering and software technology and occasionally gives seminars and talks about open source in various parts of the IT industry. Klaus received his diploma in electrical engineering from the Kaiserslautern University of Technology, which in German is die Technische Universität Kaiserslautern. He co-founded LinuxTag in 1996, a Linux exhibition which has not really seen any competition from anywhere. He has been a self-employed information technology consultant since 1998. As well as all of this he started the Knoppix GNU/Linux distribution. Knoppix is something of a legend as far as system administrators and computer repair technicians are concerned. Most people who know about it have a healthy respect for it. Linux User & Developer was able to catch up with Klaus in the middle of his busy schedule and ask him some questions about himself….

      • Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala. The best Ubuntu till now. Period.

        Next Ubuntu version 10.04 “Lucid Lynx” will be a Long Term Support(LTS) version and will receive 5 years of support for servers and 3 years for all other editions. Since it will be an LTS version, the primary goal will be maximum stability, which will make it a good choice for OEMs to include in their products. The artwork design will once again improve, as well as the usability with another launch of the “100 papercuts” project. Currently, no radical new features have been announced and there probably won’t be any, since ext4 is already the default file system and the next generation BTRFS is still under heavy development. Gnome 3.0 with the totally redisigned Gnome-shell won’t make it for the same reason(not mature enough for an LTS version) but it will be available in the repositories.
        In the netbook field, Ubuntu Moblin remix will be released as well as the awesome (I have used awesome too many times, haven’t I? But it’s worth it ) looking Kubuntu Netbook Remix, which will be the best looking netbook OS by a long shot.

      • Christmas Ubuntu Theme: for Christmas Times

        Christmas is arriving and now is the time to gear up your freshly installed Ubuntu 9.10 Karmic Koala system with a Christmas theme for Ubuntu. As always, I am providing a wallpaper, a login screen, an icon pack and a theme for the window manager.

      • Ubun-student – Learn Ubuntu enhancement tricks
      • ‘Ubuntu Needs a Longer Release Schedule!’
  • Devices/Embedded

    • CompuLab Announces Fit-PC2i Windows-7-or-Ubuntu Nettop

      Other features include 5.1-channel audio, Wi-Fi, four USB 2.0 ports, and choice between Windows 7 Professional, Windows XP Home with SP3, Ubuntu Linux 8.04, or “other operating systems” that you choose to install on your own.

      The Fit-PC2i will start shipping in January for an as-yet undetermined price.

    • Sub-notebooks

Free Software/Open Source

  • 51 Open Source Tools to Protect Your Identity

    Usually these lists of open source software start with statistics or general observations on current trends in the open source community. This one starts with a personal story.

    I used to use a thumb drive to backup my budget software, and I also kept a copy of our tax returns on the same drive. While the files were password protected, I didn’t encrypt them because the drive never left the house, and we don’t exactly live in a high crime area.

  • In Which We Continue To Push The Sisyphean Rock Up The Hill

    Patents and copyrights don’t mix beautifully, either. If I own a copyright on a gel box design, I can release the design and “make the source code available” – but if my neighbor owns a patent on it, that neighbor can sue anyone who tries to actually build the gel box. This is something of a problem in software. But it’s a massive problem in science. Especially life sciences, which are built on patents as proxies for economic value and create enormous employment opportunities for attorneys as a result.

    Data and databases are another place where the underlying property regimes don’t work as well for open source as in software. But that’s difficult enough to merit its own post. Suffice to say if Open Data had a facebook page, its relationship status with the law would be “It’s Complicated.”

  • Mozilla Education: Looking back and ahead

    I’m currently working on putting together a draft plan for Mozilla Education activities in 2010. I’m a bit blocked on coming up with a coherent plan, so I thought I’d try to unblock myself by blogging my thoughts on the subject. These are informed by the recent feedback on Mozilla Education I solicited from several Mozilla folks, as well as the Mozilla Education 2009 report I wrote earlier. Note that I’m thinking out loud here, so this will be somewhat long and rambling.

  • Eben Moglen Sends Letter in Support of Oracle to EU Commission – GPL Works No Matter Who Owns the Copyrights

    Isn’t that disgusting? Blow his own horn much? Moglen “unimportant in a GPL context”?

    Moglen is the lawyer who has been enforcing the GPL since 1994. He served *without fee* as General Counsel for the FSF during that time, until he founded the Software Freedom Law Center. He led the revision process for GPLv3. Yes, that means he *wrote* it, with input from the world. There is literally no one who understands the GPL legally any better than he does. Guess who Richard Stallman contacts if he has a legal question about it? Yes. Exactly.

  • Forbes Russia using Drupal

    The website of the Russian Forbes magazine was recently redesigned using Drupal.

  • We Must Make Freedom Our Goal

    The free software movement is one the most successful social movements to emerge in the past 25 years, driven by a worldwide community of ethical programmers dedicated to the cause of freedom and sharing. But the ultimate success of the free software movement depends upon teaching our friends, neighbors and work colleagues about the danger of not having software freedom, about the danger of a society losing control over its computing.

  • Government

    • Open sourcers aim selves at US gov

      The idea is to dispel lingering misconceptions about open source and misinterpretations of the rules around procurement and community licenses that it feels have hampered government’s broader use of open source in public projects.

    • Bologna achieves vendor independence for its office applications

      The administration of the Italian city of Bologna has almost completed its move to OpenOffice. Most of the 3600 PCs now run this open source suite of office applications. The administration is planning to move more applications to open source, aiming to become less dependent on specific IT vendors.

      This municipality started its first open source pilot in 2004. It now plans to include free and open source software in all parts of its IT infrastructure, and says this will result in significant cost savings.

      “We spent 570,000 euro on proprietary office licences in 2006. Next year, however, we expect to save some 160,000 euro “, says Massimo Carnevali, IT manager of the municipality.

  • Openness

    • Welcome to the SPARC Open Access Newsletter, issue #140

      Open access and the Google book settlement

      Google and the groups suing it –the Authors Guild and the Association of American Publishers– released a revised version of their settlement agreement on November 13. Judge Denny Chin gave it preliminary approval six days later. (For the major documents, see the links at the end.)

    • Tryad: Making Music The Open Source Way

      Free and Open Source software has been attributed to many things, such as applications, operating systems, books, and even beer. How would music be if it was developed by following the open source methodology? To find the answer to that, we turn to Tryad, which is a group effort currently preparing for their third album. I was lucky enough to speak to the group’s lead vocalist, Vavrek, and ask him about Tryad’s music and what it means to be musically open.

  • Programming

    • Multi-architecture, theory versus practise

      Similarly, you can think of the strict aliasing problem: GCC 4.4 introduced further optimisations that can make use of strict aliasing assumption on x86 as well; before, this feature was mostly used by other architectures. Interestingly enough, the amount of strict-aliasing bug is definitely not trivial, and will cause some spurious bugs at runtime. Again, this is something that you can only fix by properly testing, and debugging, on different architectures. Even though some failures now happen on x86 too, this does not mean that the same problems happen, no more no less, on anything else. And you need to add your compiler’s bug to the mix, which is also not so simple.

Leftovers

  • Overhyped and Undelivered: Top 10 Vaporware Letdowns of 2009
  • Crime

    • FTC has a word with Nvidia about Intel

      THE US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has been chatting with Nvidia as part of its probe into Intel’s business practices.

      The Green Goblin has been moaning like a banshee over Chipzilla’s business practices ever since the two companies fell out last year.

    • Georgia cops cuff terrorist elf

      No explosives were found, and Caldwell finally got his picture taken (right) by Clayton County Sheriff’s Office as they booked him on charges including “possessing hoax devices and making terrorist threats”.

    • Lord Carlile: Police are taking the proverbial on terror

      The government’s own anti-terror advisor, Lord Carlile of Berriew, believes that the police are over-using and misusing anti-terror laws to crack down on photographers.

    • Smart Grid, Dumb Government

      And, of course, those computers controlling the computers will be accessible – and vulnerable – from the Internet. Which means that at some point terrorists will have the perfect way to take down an entire city from the comfort of their own homes on the other side of the world.

      Smart thinking, lads. Not.

  • Environment

    • The Arctic Is Melting

      While the politicians fiddle, the world keeps warming. The Arctic may be down to its last few summers of being white. Johann Hari, in Greenland, asks hunters and scientists how climate change really feels …

    • Copenhagen climate change talks must fail, says top scientist

      for the compromises that rule the world of elected politics. “This is analogous to the issue of slavery faced by Abraham Lincoln or the issue of Nazism faced by Winston Churchill,” he said. “On those kind of issues you cannot compromise. You can’t say let’s reduce slavery, let’s find a compromise and reduce it 50% or reduce it 40%.”

    • EU, US citizens split over climate change

      The overwhelming majority of EU citizens consider climate change as a serious problem and call for more action against global warming. More than one third of Americans say instead that climate change is not an issue, and only a minor percentage think that it is the consequence of human activity, international polls reveal.

    • Blue Whale Song Mystery Baffles Scientists

      All around the world, blue whales aren’t singing like they used to, and scientists have no idea why.

      The largest animals on Earth are singing in ever-deeper voices every year. Among the suggested explanations are ocean noise pollution, changing population dynamics and new mating strategies. But none of them is entirely convincing.

  • Finance

    • Why Dubai Defaulted — And What America Should Learn From It

      It’s disaster in the desert. Late last week, Dubai World quasi-defaulted — and took the Emirate’s credibility with it. Will Dubai meet its obligations? It’s the question the beancounters of the universe are nervously asking. As usual, it’s the wrong question.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Hearst launching Skiff distribution system and Kindle competitor ‘by publishers, for publishers,’ thinks you’ll want it too

      Despite all the problems with the Kindle — poor PDF support, low-contrast screen, Orwellian fears — it makes for a mighty-fine reading experience for users. From a publisher’s perspective it stinks, with Amazon reportedly sucking down 70% of a sale’s proceeds.

    • How Hollywood plans to keep prices up as movies go online

      Digital downloads have broken apart the album and decimated major label music revenues. So movies will also get cheap and DRM-free as they increasingly migrate to the ‘Net, right? Think again.

    • Destabilizing the UK’s Digital Economy

      Much of the coverage of the UK’s proposed Digital Economy bill has centered, and rightly so, on the damaging consequences to civil liberties for Britons caused by its Internet termination provisions. Less documented is quite how damaging these regulations are for the bill’s own namesake: Britain’s present and future digital economy.

      The history of Net businesses shows that an integral feature of the digital economy is decentralized innovation and the creation of generative new markets by individuals or small, loosely-affiliated groups. These generators of wealth often begin as end-users of the Net, unconnected with established companies. When they start, they don’t have lobbyists, and their entrepreneurship is not yet recognized as part of the country’s vital digital infrastructure or core creative industries — or even a business interest at all.

    • Vinyl frontier: Why records sales are soaring again

      By reissuing classic albums on vinyl, the industry has convinced fans to purchase music that they’ve already bought on CD

    • Changes to licensing arrangements for Crown copyright information

      We are also in discussions with the Department of Communities and Local Government (DCLG) and Office for National Statistics (ONS) about the re-use of some of their charged publications. We will clarify the situation as soon as possible. In the meantime anyone wanting to re-use any DCLG or ONS priced publications should contact us directly.

    • Digital Economy Bill: Internet risk in ‘Henry VIII clause’

      The most draconian law on copyright since the time of Henry VIII. Mandates infrastructure for wide-scale censorship. Removes Parliamentary scrutiny.

      In other words, it is more than 3-strikes.

      The Digital Economy Bill, which gets its second reading in the House of Lords today, is the most draconian law to regulate access to information and cultural works since the introduction of the printing press in the 15th century. It threatens to re-introduce a regime of censorship not seen since the time when England was ruled by Kings and Queens. The only difference is that then it was religious censorship, now it is commercial.

    • Spanish Manifesto in Defense of Fundamental Rights on the Internet

      People are beginning to recognize the growing conflict between individual rights and “intellectual property”–and, if forced to choose, are choosing real, individual rights over IP. Hopefully it won’t stop here.

    • Lily Allen: “I’ve stopped everything. I haven’t got a computer or blackberry. I don’t do emails or anything now.”

      Clearly Lily Allen’s embarrassing slip up in her campaign against illegal downloading has had rather severe personal consequences.

      The British singer songwriter, launched a public campaign again unauthorised file sharing, but then stabbed herself in the foot when she wrote a blog post detailing her arguments which then, ironically, turned out to be someone else’s blog post she’d copied herself.

    • Information Insecurity: how the web is fighting itself to death

      The proposed Digital Economy Bill has, perhaps unsurprisingly, garnered a lot of attention in the blogosphere and occasionally beyond.

      It had all started so differently; Lord Carter’s Digital Britain report was by no means perfect, but the discussion was broad – on universal broadband provision, opening up the wireless spectrum and looking at reforming traditional media, as well as the inevitable protections against copyright infringement.

    • Debating the Digital Economy Bill: Exercise in futility?

      The House of Lords debated yesterday the Digital Economy Bill, and I use the phrase “debate” in the loosest possible sense. What we got was a depressingly one-sided affair replete with misrepresentation, misunderstanding of the core issues, swallowing the industry’s figures without question, and corroboration that the House of Lords is an anachronistic, anti-democratic institution replete with sickening back-slapping, old-boy cronyism and undeserved deference.

    • Digital Economy Bill: Most Lords Support It, But Excessive Powers Draw Suspicion

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Tara Hunt is all about open source (2009)


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

GNOME Power in Video

Posted in GNOME, GNU/Linux, Videos at 1:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Fairly recent GNU/Linux demo with GNOME

EARLIER TODAY we shared a video to celebrate the power of KDE, so here is one for GNOME too.


Direct link

Mono Bullies

Posted in Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 11:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gorilla bottom

Summary: Mono and Moonlight are projects that one cannot ever criticise safely

A

few days ago we wrote about Mono getting its own separate room at FOSDEM 2010. Someone else has commented briefly about the subject, only to be discouraged and even told off in public. Here is his story:

Earlier today I was astonished to find out FOSDEM will have a MONO devroom. When I reacted to this on identica stating this was not a good idea. Reinout van Schouwen reacted saying “We should *strongly* support !freesoftware, no matter what platform it is written for or what language is used.”

I pointed out to him that “”free” software can never be written in a non-free language”. I could have expected to get the typical MONO-evangelist’s answer: “Stop spreading #FUD, please. http://www.mono-project.com/Languages”, so I replied with a quote from MS: “Every piece of code written to our standards is a small victory”.
Apparently Mr van Schouwen didn’t get my point and dragged dear old RMS into the discussion: “So you’d rather have no !freesoftware at all than FS written to MS standards? Even #RMS knows better than that.” and when I pointed out his mistake: “maybe you should read again and try to understand what I wrote…”, he quickly sent me a final message: “Maybe you should address facts and arguments instead of evading them with transparent rhetoric. #endofdiscussion”.

[...]

I hope to have given you a basic idea, Mr van Schouwen, about my personal opinion about MONO. Now, even if you disagree, would it be asked too much to respect my opinion?

Over at Mono-Nono, Jason has written extensively about Mono’s total disregard for people’s freedom of speech. It’s almost as though they rape anyone who dares to point out the obvious — that Mono is helping Microsoft, not Free software. Even the Free Software Foundation is against the use of C#.

Over at ComputerWorld UK (IDG), Glyn Moody has just written about SUSE, noting in part that SUSE’s affairs with Microsoft are not particularly helpful.

This tacitly recognises the validity of Microsoft’s software patents, and strengthens the latter’s hand when dealing with other players in the open source world. Those patent problems have been exacerbated by the Mono project, “an open source, cross-platform, implementation of C# and the CLR that is binary compatible with Microsoft.NET”, which is sponsored by Novell, and led by Miguel de Icaza, who is employed by Novell.

He is not only employed by Novell. He also serves the board of a Microsoft foundation whose goal in part is to promote the use of Mono. Microsoft admitted this and it's part of a pattern.

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