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12.09.09

Germany Takes Microsoft’s Bill

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Vista, Vista 7, Windows at 4:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Football fever in Germany

Summary: German citizens to pay the price of Windows malware, regardless of whether they are Windows users at all

FREE software and GNU/Linux are obviously growing rapidly in Germany [1, 2], but in some parts of the country Microsoft and its ecosystem are profiteering from Conficker and other worms that are the fault of Microsoft incompetence. As the news from Germany puts it, taxpayers will pay reparations for Microsoft malware rather than the other way around. This “sends exactly the wrong signal: gives permission to code badly,” argues Glyn Moody.

THE GERMAN GOVERNMENT has decided to spend a lot of its citizens’ tax money helping them recover from malware directed at Microsoft machines.

Spiegel Online reports that the government wants to prop up another industry giant. The German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) plans to team up with Internet service providers (ISPs) to establish a call centre helping Windows users who have malware problems.

It is not as though Microsoft ever seriously considered liability; the company’s developers are knowingly negligent and careless.

The above news is covered by some other Web sites and there is also a suggestion that Germany will adopt a kick-off-the-Internet policy which Australians spoke about earlier this year.

With the economic crisis still being in full effect, Germany wants to throw government money at another industry giant. However, this time it is not an ailing car manufacturer, but the software producer Microsoft. The German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) plans to team up with internet service providers (ISPs) to establish a call center helping malware-troubled Windows users.

The project was announced today at the German IT summit in Stuttgart. Starting in 2010, ISPs will track down customers with infected PCs, e.g., by looking for communication with botnet controllers. These customers will then be directed to a special website offering advice on removing the malware. If this is unsuccessful (or the site is blocked by the malware), people will get access to a call center, where a staff of about 40 will try to fix the problem.

Those botnets lead to many other damages that everyone on the Internet suffers from. Earlier today we wrote about Windows and SPAM, which is increasingly coming from more countries. The Internet’s botnets are a global issue, so a crackdown on Windows zombies in Germany and Australia would not suffice.

Either way, until Windows is removed, it is likely that GNU/Linux users too will pay the price, collectively.

The German government has allocated a secret budget to fund call-centers to help Windows users whose PCs are infected with malware. Microsoft’s support costs are thus being borne at taxpayer expense.

For what it’s worth, appended below are references which show that Vista 7 is as vulnerable as other versions of Windows (some say it is even more vulnerable). Windows Vista was never secure and experts argue that Vista 7 is even less secure than Vista.

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

Links 09/12/2009: Thundebird 3 is Out

Posted in News Roundup at 1:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • What Will Make Your Project Successful?

    For open source software, the most important thing is having good code. Every project needs more users and more developers, but without the proper technical foundation to absorb them, an open source project could easily hit a wall. (I actually wrote about this almost exactly two years ago under “The Limits of Open Source.”) A successful open source projects must be extensible, stable, and technically interesting — otherwise, who would want to work with your code base?

  • Ardour Manual Done!

    The wonderful wonderful manual about Ardour is done! It was produced in a Book Sprint / Workshop held at moddr_ in Rotterdam and lead by Derek Holzer. Its a super good manual and designed to help the newbies get to grips with Ardour.

  • Olswang Open Source Summit

    On 1st December Olswang held their third and final Open Source Summit in London. For one reason or another I’d been unable to attend the 2007 and 2008 events and was glad to last week be finally able to make it along. Olswang are a law firm and so as you would expect the summit focused on open source legal matters. We were treated to a keynote from Bruce Perens and the overall quality of the event was very high. Numerous topics were covered over the course of the morning and a few notes follow.

  • ES: Cenatic campaign: ten reasons for using open source in education

    Using open source software offers schools a unique opportunity to advance the information society that is fair and free, says Cenatic, Spain’s resource centre on open source and open standards.

    Cenatic on Friday published a brochure ‘Ten reasons for using open source in education’, meant to show the country’s autonomous regions the benefits of open source software, and to ensure they consider the use of this type of software when schools modernise their programs.

    The brochure will be sent to all of Spain’s secondary schools.

    In favour of free and open source software are objective arguments, technical, social and cultural, explains Miguel Jaque, Cenatic’s director in a statement. “Open source is a model in itself, free, democratic, sustainable and technologically competitive. It helps to educate people to be free, independent and critical and shows them that they are able make their own technological choices.”

  • Amazon gains professional-grade memcached distribution

    Open source caching startup Gear6 has entered the cloud fray by releasing an Amazon Machine Image (AMI) of its memcached distribution server, dubbed Gear6 Web Cache Server.

  • Open source vendor releases cluster file system

    Open source file system vendor Gluster released its Storage Platform, integrating a file system, an operating system and a management UI to create a cluster that can store petabytes of information and provide failover for virtual machines.

  • Open source is the new driving force

    Barack Obama has chosen it for the White House web site. The London Stock Exchange replaced its previous trading system with it. And Germany has just awarded its most prestigious decoration to Matthias Ettrich for producing it.

    So what makes people opt for open-source software?

    For many, it’s the price. For others, it’s the freedom that open-source licences offer: the freedom to inspect the code, modify it and distribute it, and the freedom from potential vendor intransigence, incompetence and deliberate lock-in.

  • Easier than ever

    Looking forward to what the next 10 to 20 years hold in store, it’s clear to me that open source will be the default mechanism for software development.

  • jQuery wins Net Awards Open Source Application of the year award. – Kingin-seo News

    Consider this, jQuery just beat out some serious competition. In the category for open source web applications the entrants, jQuery was competing with Firefox and WordPress.

  • Convincing the Boss to Accept FOSS

    Tell them the software is free. Many open source advocates are sure that the way to any boss’ heart is through her budget. While developers and other techies may love open source because of such things as its strong community or the philosophy of open source, they also acknowledge that the best way to appeal to the boss may be the bottom line. This attitude may be cynical — “They are always trying to save because they know that whatever is left in their account at the end of the period will go to their pockets,” wrote a guy named Al — but I dare say there’s plenty of justification in some firms. As a developer named Jason wrote, “I simply insisted that I will make and save them more money. And I did!… It didn’t take much to persuade my boss at all.”

  • The Wailing Wall of Open Source BI
  • Web Browsers

  • Business

    • Open Source and Mobile Financial Services

      I was researching the product suite offered by Talend at the request of a client. It seems to be a very rich and robust solution and is based on open source which makes it that much more interesting.

    • Open source management software gets enterprise-ready

      Separately, Zenoss recently announced Zenoss Enterprise 2.5, which the vendor says provides features to support scalability, reliability and security demands typical in enterprise IT environments. For instance, the software includes an agent-less distributed collector architecture and support for “distributed collector non-root installs” that the vendor says keeps customer environments compliant with corporate security policies while installing Zenoss Enterprise. This version also includes Amazon EC2 monitoring and VMware Ready support.

    • Unicon Announces Services for Liferay Portal Enterprise Edition
  • FSF/FSFE/GNU

    • Linux Freedom Under Attack

      I think we also need to send Richard Stallman to meet with new Federal CIO, Vivek Kundra, to discuss our government’s obligation to use free software. Stallman told me, himself, that he would like an opportunity to meet with Mr. Kundra. So, if any of you have any connections or contacts in that realm, let’s help RMS go to Washington.

      We deserve a voice in Washington because we know there are those in the opposing camps with lobbyists and representatives to promote their side of the story. We need ours.

    • Episode 0x1C: Sun, Oracle and the European Union

      Karen and Bradley discuss Eben Moglen’s letter to the European Commission regarding the Oracle acquisition of Sun.

    • Barnes & Noble’s GPL fun

      Barnes and Noble’s new nook ebook reader is now shipping to people. Mine[1] is due to turn up tomorrow, but the instruction manual is available for download already.

  • Releases

  • Government

    • Hungarian Government Banks on Open Source

      Ingres Corporation, the leading open source database management company and pioneer of the New Economics of IT, and FreeSoft PLC, Hungary’s leading service provider in the software development sector, have won the Hungarian government’s open source software tender that has a four-year, $22.3 million budget.

  • Licensing

    • The Anatomy of a Modern GPL Violation

      I’ve been thinking the last few weeks about the evolution of the GPL violation. After ten years of being involved with GPL enforcement, it seems like a good time to think about how things have changed.

      Roughly, the typical GPL violation tracks almost directly the adoption and spread of Free Software. When I started finding GPL violations, it was in a day when Big Iron Unix was still king (although it was only a few years away from collapse), and the GNU tools were just becoming state of the art. Indeed, as a sysadmin, I typically took a proprietary Unix system, and built a /usr/local/ filled with the GNU tools, because I hated POSIX tools that didn’t have all the GNU extensions.

  • Hardware

    • From Open Source to Open Hardware

      This column mainly talks about open source software, for the simple reason that code dominates the world of openness. But open source hardware does exist, albeit in a very early, rudimentary form. Last Friday, I went along to NESTA for what was billed as an “Open Hardware Camp”. Fortunately, I didn’t see any tents, since that’s not really my kind of thing; what I did see was a huge amount of enthusiasm, and some interesting hints of things to come.

    • Manufacturing, Reinvented

      European researchers have created the architecture, hardware and software that will enable super-agile distributed corporations capable of reconfiguring themselves on the fly. It promises to make ‘made-to-order’ a reality for consumers.

    • People Power Wins Smart Grid Grant for “Lean Green Energy-Saving Machine”

      People Power plans to distribute OSHAN (Open Source Home Area Network)—its free, open source wireless software —and SuRF (Sensor Ultra Radio Frequency)—its low-cost hardware and software development kit —to engineers early next year.

    • Boxee Swings for Spot in Set-Top Box Ring

      The open source software company debuted its new hardware device at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, N.Y., on Monday. The new device, essentially a TV set-top box, will augment the current beta software that’s available so far only to invited testers. Boxee officials expect to have the first consumer TV boxes on sale for around US$200 during the second quarter of 2010.

  • Openness (Data/Transparency)

    • Open Access, Intellectual Property, and How Biotechnology Becomes a New Software Science
    • Obama’s open-government director opens up

      On Tuesday morning, the Obama administration formally unveiled its Open Government directive, an effort aimed at weaving the philosophies of openness, transparency and participation into the DNA of the federal government and its agencies.

    • White House to release new gov’t data collections

      The White House on Tuesday instructed every federal agency to publish before the end of January at least three collections of “high value” government data on the Internet that never have been previously disclosed, an ambitious order to make the administration as transparent as President Barack Obama had promised it would be.

    • MapBox Open Source Toolkit Creates Custom Maps From the Ground Up

      Reading maps is pretty easy, creating them is not. MapBox is an online open source toolkit and database of custom tile sets that let you build great-looking maps in Amazon’s cloud.

      [...]

      Data is plugged into the maps via OpenStreetMap, a free and editable map of the world, or TIGER US Census Data. TIGER provides a tremendous amount of geographical data, including states, counties, subdivisions, districts, and more.

    • Postcode data to be free in 2010

      The government is planning to give anyone free access to postcode data.

    • Why the UK’s “Smarter Government” Plan is Not So Clever

      There have been various murmurings from the UK government about openness without much substance – except for the recent announcement that Ordnance Survey data would finally be released. Now we have the “Putting the Frontline First: Smarter Government” plan that includes further moves in this area as part of a larger government transformation.

    • A Sneak Peek at Cabinet Department Open Government Projects

      In the news coverage over the President’s Open Government Directive, two stories being overlooked are the release of an “Open Government Progress Report to the American People” and the announcement (in a press release) that every Cabinet department will launch new open-government projects, details of which will be made available tomorrow.

    • Declaration of Open Government by Australia

      The Australian government is emerging as one of the leaders in the sphere of open government. It has now published a draft report of the Government 2.0 Taskforce, entitled “Engage: Getting on with Government 2.0″ (hmm, not quite sure about that phraseology).

    • Zemanta opens up its recommendation engine for bloggers, hopes to drive more traffic to users
    • The 1994 “Subversive Proposal” at 15: A Response

      Will it be another 15 years before the remaining 10,000 universities and research institutions (or at least the top 1000) wield the mighty pen to unleash the even mightier keystrokes (as 68 Institutions and Departments, and 42 Funders have already done)? Or will we keep dithering about Gold OA, publishing reform, peer review reform, re-use rights, author addenda, preservation and the other 38 factors causing Zeno’s Paralysis) for another decade and a half?

    • Local Government Data

      The Prime Minister said that “there are many hundreds more datasets that can be opened up – not only from central government but also from local councils, the NHS, police and education authorities.”; and the Secretary of State for Communities said “we plan to give local people far better access to information held by local public organisations so they can challenge, compare or scrutinise their local services in order to drive up standards in their area.”

    • Brian Cox and Anna Maxwell Martin to star in MPs’ expenses drama

      Now the Dundee-born actor Brian Cox is to take on a role rather closer to home, playing fellow Scot Michael Martin, the former Speaker of the House of Commons, in a forthcoming BBC satirical drama about the MPs’ expenses affair.

    • The Future of Peer 2 Peer University

      The pilot phase of P2PU (Peer 2 Peer University) ended in October, after having run for six weeks with seven courses and approximately 90 participants. Last month, the pilot phase volunteers, including the course organizers, met in person for the first time at the first ever P2PU Workshop in Berlin.

Leftovers

  • Seagate Goes Super Thin and Solid State
  • Publisher, Know Thyself
  • Google’s new open

    Open access and open source are just the first step in the opening of the wireless industry.

  • Doctors query ability of Tamiflu to stop severe illness

    Roche, the manufacturer of Tamiflu, has made it impossible for scientists to assess how well the anti-flu drug stockpiled around the globe works by withholding the evidence the company has gained from trials, doctors alleged today.

  • Police State (UK)

    • Police closing pubs for ‘inadequate CCTV coverage’

      From the Lancashire Evening Post we learn that police in Preston have been closing down popular pubs and clubs on account of them having ‘inadequate security camera coverage’.

    • Average speed cameras installed in neighbourhoods for the first time

      A new generation of average speed cameras that will police 20mph zones in residential areas are to come into force in the New Year after they were approved by the government.

    • Photographers and anti-terrorism: The holiday snaps that could get you arrested

      At a Downing Street news conference earlier this year, Gordon Brown found himself flummoxed by a question from a foreign journalist. He was asked what impression the rest of the world was getting of civil liberties in Britain now that tourists could be arrested for taking a photograph of a building. Mr Brown responded: “I don’t accept that is the true picture of Britain at all.” He then moved on, having dismissed the question as beneath contempt.

    • The pernicious rise of the CRB Stasi

      The Daily Mail are reporting that Manor Community College in Cambridge is to ban any visitor who has not been checked by the Criminal Records Bureau.

    • Was Kelly Killed? A question that may put Chilcott in the shade

      After I read Norman Baker’s book on The Strange Death of David Kelly I was convinced that he was probably killed – and not by his own hand. Baker’s own theory of who did it struck me as implausable and the book is uneven and frustrating and includes unworthy inuendoes. But the defining and scandalous fact is this: there was no coronor’s inquest into what was a highly significant death. We know that Blair took us to war and misled the country to justify his decision. We don’t know why and how Kelly, the UK’s foremost active weapons inspector in Iraq who hated Saddam and also hated the way the evidence to justify invasion was being tampered with, died.

    • Expect libel reform now that MPs are affected

      Therefore as a result of MPs now finding themselves liable under the libel law I conclude that libel reform is set to become a top priority on the legislative agenda. You read it here first!

    • Bruce Schneier on the Future of Privacy

      Schneier believes a step change is coming. We live in a unique time: cameras are everywhere AND we can see them; identity checks happen all the time AND we know they’re happening. However technology is a great distrupter of equilibriums and Moore’s law is a friend of intrusive tools. Soon face-recognition software will obviate the need to carry ID – when you walk into your workplace they’ll already know who you are and whether you’re supposed to be there.

    • New DNA rules may still breach human rights

      The government’s plans to limit DNA retention from those arrested but not charged or convicted may not go far enough, according to the body that ensures human rights rulings are obeyed.

    • If people are rude to the police it’s a bad sign…

      But have things now changed? Are people in general less happy now with identifying themselves and cooperating with the police? Is there any research on this?

    • How stranger danger changed the way children play

      This play was unsupervised by mum or dad and children were free to go on adventures far from home. Sadly this world of independent child’s play has today largely vanished. One of the important reasons for this decline is the inexorable rise of stranger danger and child abduction in modern Britain.

    • New Study Reveals Most Children Unrepentant Sociopaths

      A study published Monday in The Journal Of Child Psychology And Psychiatry has concluded that an estimated 98 percent of children under the age of 10 are remorseless sociopaths with little regard for anything other than their own egocentric interests and pleasures.

  • Environment

    • Dragging Anchor

      Since 1990, greenhouse gas emissions from global shipping have increased by 85 percent, or approximately 50 percent if the base year of 1997 is adopted. Either way, greenhouse gas emissions from the maritime sector are rising steeply and are likely to go far, far higher.

    • Murdoch Seeks “Conservation-Minded Conservatives”

      News Corporation media outlets have been at the forefront of championing the views of the climate change skeptics.

    • [Sarcasm] Climate Crisis over, nothing to see here
    • Copenhagen and Common Sense

      I have no expertise in environmental science, and have never made an intensive study. I realise that what I write here is so simple as to be taught to a six year old. But there is a reason I write it.

      I am however trained as a historian. That mankind has changed the levels of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is indubitable from a moment’s consideration of the evidence.

    • Elizabeth May: A Response to Comments on East Anglia Emails

      Other scientists point out that we are still not clear on how many sulfates are being emitted, particularly in the rapidly industrializing developing world. It is clear that sulfates (particulates) provide a cooling effect, even while carbon dioxide levels keep growing. In another post, the scientists discuss why NASA results show higher global temperature than the Hadley results from the UK. One conclusion is that the Hadley data does not have as many Arctic data points. Warming in the Arctic is 2-3 times faster than the global average.

    • Norway could kill hundreds more minke whales next year

      Conservationists have condemned Norway’s decision to increase the number of minke whales it can kill by 45 per cent, describing the move as unjustified and “political posturing”.

    • Copenhagen climate summit in disarray after ‘Danish text’ leak

      Developing countries react furiously to leaked draft agreement that would hand more power to rich nations, sideline the UN’s negotiating role and abandon the Kyoto protocol

  • Finance

  • AstroTurf

    • Blue Cross pushing plan to declare health reform unconstitutional

      As the battle for health care reform rages on in the Senate, the powerful insurance consortium Blue Cross Blue Shield appears to have embraced some rather unorthodox methods for achieving its goals.

      After months of fierce insurance industry opposition to the bill, Blue Cross is working secretively with conservative front group American Legislative Exchange Council to use the issue of states’ rights as a pretext to declaring health reform unconstitutional.

      [...]

      Former insurance executive Wendell Porter, who now favors reform, declared that private insurers have become “consumed by rising profits, grotesque executive salaries, huge administrative expenses, the cost of weeding out people with pre-existing conditions and claims review designed to wear out patients with denials and disapprovals of the care they need the most.”

  • Internet/Censorship/Web Abuse/Rights

    • New EU digital strategy to focus on users’ rights

      Consumers will be at the core of the European Union’s ‘i2015′ action plan for the future of the digital economy, which the EU institutions are beginning to shape and plan to deliver by spring 2010.

    • FTC Targets RoboCalls

      The FTC said Tuesday that it has filed suit against three firms for allegedly making “hundreds of thousands or even millions” of robocalls to consumers in violation of the Do Not Call rule and other laws. The three groups targeted allegedly called consumers in a bid to sell “worthless credit-card interest-rate reduction programs for hefty up-front fees of as much as $1,495,” the agency said in a statement. The groups have been ordered to stop making the calls pending trial.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • SOCAN Tries To Keep Its Copyright Consultation Submission Offline And Secret, But Fails

      We were just talking about how SOCAN, the Canadian copyright collection society, was going after gymnastics clubs for kids using music in their practice routines. Now they’re getting some well-deserved attention for other antics. Michael Geist explains how SOCAN tried to keep its submission to the government copyright consultation secret. The organization apparently requested that its submission not be posted online, even though that was part of the consultation process. The government made it available anyways, but only by email upon request. Of course, it’s now available online elsewhere [PDF].

    • Disney CEO: I Can’t Figure Out Ways To Adapt My Business, So I Need Government Protection

      If you want to use Iger’s logic, you could just as easily claim that copyright laws allow them to charge monopoly rents on products, thus depriving many other industries of money and jobs. Thus — again, using Iger’s own logic — copyright contributes to unemployment and the harming of our economy. Not sure he really wants to go there.

    • Threatening Internet freedom in the UK

      All too often, the public policy world focuses on subtle legislative distinctions and on regulatory details. But once in a while, an issue comes along that strikes to the heart of the big principles. Such an issue erupted last week in the UK – an issue that incorporates two of the most important subjects on these pages: privacy and innovation.

    • Study: people who buy counterfeit bags likely to buy real ones later

      MIT business professor Renee Richardson Gosline has conducted research suggesting that people who buy counterfeit bags are highly likely to purchase non-counterfeit versions of their treasures at a later date (even though the two bags can’t be distinguished from one another by casual observers). Gresham’s Law repealed for status goods?

    • Dec. 7, 1999: RIAA Sues Napster

      1999: The Recording Industry Association of America sues Napster, the online, peer-to-peer file sharing service that’s allowing millions of computer users to score free, copyright music. The rules are about to change.

    • Has the world gone crazy?

      Peter Mandelson, in his infinite stupidity, goes for lunch on a yacht in Corfu with the entertainment industry lobby and the next thing we know he has declared war on every single person in the UK who uses the Internet – whether they be guilty of undesirable behaviour or not.

    • Lib Dems to oppose Mandelson copyright powers

      The Liberal Democrats are to oppose a clause in the Digital Economy Bill that would let the business secretary amend copyright law without parliamentary debate.

    • Debate on Mandelson’s job

      The Conservatives have accused Business Secretary Lord Mandelson of “empire building”, calling for his department to have a cabinet minister in the Commons.

    • What does Detica detect?

      I met with Detica last Friday, at their suggestion, to discuss what their system actually did (they’ve read some of my work on Phorm’s system, so meeting me was probably not entirely random).

    • “No Infringement Intended”

      I have noticed recently while playing around on YouTube and Google Video seeking exam question fodder that many fans of popular movies and TV shows who make mash-up videos of material from the shows post a notice at the beginning or end of their video saying “no copyright infringement intended”. It strikes me that this is actually a really good example of the disjoin between what the law says and what people think the law says. If copyright is basically a strict liability statute, then the intention to infringe is irrelevant. However, the everyday potential infringer doesn’t know this.

    • Getting The Music Business Over The ‘But We Must Sell Music’ Hump

      This isn’t to downplay the importance of music, or say that the quality of music doesn’t matter. It absolutely does. But the music is not the scarcity, and you don’t make money off of selling something that’s abundant. You use the abundance to figure out what other scarce goods it makes more valuable and you sell those. So, people can complain and shout all they want, but it doesn’t change the basic fact that until you recognize that selling music directly just isn’t a very good business model, you’re limiting your market tremendously.

    • Streaming will never stop downloading

      Far from being a cure for the industry’s woes, substituting streams for downloads wastes bandwidth, reduces privacy and slows innovation

    • Record Company Piracy = $6bn Losses

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Stormy Peters, HP open source strategist 03 (2004)


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

Patents Roundup: Copyrighted SQL Queries, Microsoft Alliance with Company That Attacks F/OSS with Software Patents, Peer-to-Patent in Australia

Posted in America, Apple, Australia, Bill Gates, Database, Europe, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, OpenDocument, Patents, Standard, SUN at 6:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Books

Summary: Vigilant eye on laws that restrict or ban Free software, with new examples ranging from Microsoft to similar companies

THIS latest roundup actually begins with a weird new example where copyrights — not patents — are used by someone to ‘own’ SQL queries.

Can someone copyright a SQL query?

[...]

So back to the subject’s question: Can he really copyright this query? And if so, is modifying it ourselves a copyright violation? In my mind, a single query isn’t program code. It’s more a command line command. But I don’t know what it’s considered legally.

Need programmers now check every SQL query of theirs and ensure it does not infringe on copyrights? This is insane. What’s even more insane is a subject that was brought up before — that some companies are creating intellectual monopolies on methods vital to saving the planet. These are now being fast-tracked.

The US Patent and Trademark Office said Monday that it’s launching a test program that will greatly speed the review of “green” technology patents.

The new fast-track pilot program is expected to shave a full year off the patent review process, which takes an average of 40 months to reach a final decision, according to the USPTO.

It is suicidal to use patents to limit the use of such methods. It shows that the patent system prioritises profit — not betterment — of the industry.

Looking at some proprietary software giants, Apple is looking to reverse a decision regarding a patent (in Eastern Texas of course).

Apple has been told to pay OPTi $21.7m in damages after an Eastern Texas Court issued a final judgment in the firm’s long-running patent infringement case.

But reports this morning suggest the Mac maker’s next move will be sending an appeal to the ruling, rather than a cheque.

Microsoft is meanwhile getting together with a company that attacked Free software using software patents. That would be NetApp. It may have put ZFS in a life-threatening position.

Microsoft and NetApp have struck a 3-year strategic alliance centred on virtualised server environments and technology integration.

President of the FFII is unhappy about Peer-to-Patent’s extension into Australia because it only helps legitimise software patents as a whole. Pointing to this new report about threats to the European patent system [1, 2, 3, 4], he argues that “Bifurcation of infringement and validity will be a disaster, as it is completely one-sided in favour of patentees.” He also adds that “Mono Hackers [are] coming to HSB for FOSDEM, should bring some Microsoft software patents covering Mono?” We wrote about this before.

Those who are not paying attention to what Microsoft is doing in Europe do so at their own peril. We have already shown how Microsoft pressure groups CompTIA, BSA, and ACT were lobbying for software patents in Europe’s interoperability framework [1, 2, 3]. The FSFE is now highlighting their role in the successful perversion of EIFv2 (European Interoperability Framework version 2) and concludes as follows:

Based on the above analysis, we can only conclude that the European Commission is giving strong preference to the viewpoint of a single lobby group. Regarding interoperability and open standards, key places of the consultation document were modified to comply with the demands of the BSA. Input given by other groups was not considered on this issue. Beyond ignoring this input, the Commission has apparently decided to ignore the success of the first version of the EIF, and to abandon its efforts towards actually achieving interoperability in eGovernment services.

OSOR has written about this too. We previously wrote about EIFv2 in:

  1. European Interoperability Framework (EIF) Corrupted by Microsoft et al, Its Lobbyists
  2. Orwellian EIF, Fake Open Source, and Security Implications
  3. No Sense of Shame Left at Microsoft
  4. Lobbying Leads to Protest — the FFII and the FSFE Rise in Opposition to Subverted EIF
  5. IBM and Open Forum Europe Address European Interoperability Framework (EIF) Fiasco
  6. EIF Scrutinised, ODF Evolves, and Microsoft’s OOXML “Lies” Lead to Backlash from Danish Standards Committee
  7. Complaints About Perverted EIF Continue to Pile Up
  8. More Complaints About EIFv2 Abuse and Free Software FUD from General Electric (GE)

The ODF Alliance has just published a post which shows that the US administration wants “Open Formats”, but it is only a matter of time before Microsoft lobbyists redefine “open” in the United States too and then pressure the government to use proprietary formats instead. Microsoft’s top lobbyist [1, 2, 3], Bill Gates, is even making phonecalls to politicians to achieve such goals.

The Obama Administration’s Open Government Directive was unveiled today. Concerning open formats the key provisions are:

“each agency shall take prompt steps to expand access to information by making it available online in open formats……..To the extent practicable and subject to valid restrictions, agencies should publish information online in an open format that can be retrieved, downloaded, indexed, and searched by commonly used web search applications. An open format is one that is platform independent, machine readable, and made available to the public without restrictions that would impede the re-use of that information……..”

Just give us the data! That’s been the mantra of open-government enthusiasts, developers among them, who have created mashups – web-based tools that make the reams of government data more accessible and, importantly, put this data to effective public use. For example, Stumble Safely, highlighted in a recent New York Times article, links data regarding incidents of crime with popular locations, such as bars, restaurants and transportation hubs to help guide people home safely after a night out.

It seems safe to assume (based on experience) that Microsoft is already leaning on the right people.

How Microsoft Breaks the Internet – Latest Examples

Posted in Bill Gates, Google, Microsoft, Search at 5:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The Internet? We are not interested in it.”

Bill Gates, 1993

Summary: 3 new examples of ways in which Microsoft ruins the Internet for everyone

SPAM

LAST YEAR we wrote about Microsoft's role in destroying E-mail for everyone (never mind the fight against web standards). Almost half of all Windows PCs are said to be zombies and the large botnets are estimated to still be sending about 1011 SPAM per day. The following new report agrees with figures that we have seen before.

Compromised (zombie) machines accounted for more than four in five (83.4 per cent) of an estimated global volume of 107 billion junk mail messages sent out every day during 2009.

[...]

MessageLabs, a web and email filtering service owned by Symantec since last year, reports that 10 heavyweight botnets (including Cutwail, Rustock and Mega-D) control a combined zombie hoard of at least five million compromised computers. Cutwail was the worst of he bunch and blamed by MessageLabs for 29 percent of all spam or 8,500 billion junk mail messages between April and November 2009.

[...]

Cutwail was also used to send out spam email contaminated with infected attachments carrying the Bredolab Trojan dropper, disguised as an innocuous ZIP file. Machines infected with Bredolab were used to run botnet agents or spyware on compromised machines. Spam runs punting Bredolab-infected messages rose steadily throughout 2009 to reach an October peak of 3.6 billion Bredolab contaminated emails.

[...]
The infamous Conficker worm haunted the threat landscape during 2009. An estimated six million machines are infected by the malware. However this vast cybercrime resource has remained dormant throughout the year, possibly because the hackers who created it were far more successful than they originally intended and know anything they do with the uber-botnet now is likely to bring a great deal of unwelcome attention.

The worms above are Windows worms.

Scam

Jose X has sent us this pointer, quoting the parts which say: “With a little sleight of hand, con artists can dupe them into giving top billing to fraudulent Web sites that prey on consumers, making unwitting accomplices of companies such as Google, Yahoo and Microsoft. [..] He then used his knowledge of how search engines rank Web sites to achieve something that shocked him: His phony site got a No. 2 ranking on Yahoo Inc.’s search engine and landed in the top slot on Microsoft Corp.’s Bing, ahead of even the credit union’s real site. [...] Google Inc., which handles two-thirds of U.S. search requests, didn’t fall into Stickley’s trap.”

Jose argues: “If Microsoft weren’t so sloppy, they would be extremely dangerous… or maybe that is part of the act.”

We previously gave examples to show that Microsoft is gaming and censoring its own search results. That’s why Microsoft must never gain any control over search. Microsoft is far too unethical to handle such a task.

“Another One Bites the Dust”

That’s the description offered by one of our readers, who has contributed the following bit of analysis about what Microsoft did to Yahoo!

Yahoo Search is Bunged

Microsoft friendly sources report that Yahoo is losing search share:

UPDATE: Yahoo CEO Says Search Share Hit By Lost Toolbar Deals
Bartz: Yahoo’s Search Decline Due To Dead Toolbar Deals

The loss is blamed on failure to maintain “toolbar” deals with computer vendors but this begs the question with a flimsy excuse. Because toolbar deals are just another form of market share, saying that Yahoo has lost market share because they have lost toolbar deals is not a convincing explanation. Why is it that vendors like HP and Acer have dumped Yahoo toolbars? Have so many computers been turned over in the last six months as the share decline indicates?

Not mentioned in the above stories is the recent replacement of Yahoo’s search engine. This was the end result of Microsoft’s long, ugly proxy fight and slog against Yahoo. Soon after replacing founder Yang with an interloper from Autodesk, Microsoft replaced Yahoo’s popular search with the “decision engine” Bing, an advertisement that pretends to be a search engine.

Microsoft’s Proxy Fight Against Yahoo! Turns it to Puppet State
No Yahoo! for Microsoft, Carl Icahn Sued by Goldman Sachs

It did not take long for the market to correct itself and prove Microsoft critics correct. Microsoft advocates bragged that their coup over Yahoo search instantly gave Bing 20% of the market. Sensible people predicted that Microsoft would wreck Yahoo the same way they ruined Hotmail. The fall is reportedly to from 18.8% in September to 18% in October. That is a stunning 5% drop in a month. Looking back at other earlier months, we see an accelerating loss from 0.0, 0.3 and 0.5% declines to the whopping 0.8% that Bing delivered. Net statistics from the usual suspects should be treated with caution but it is not surprising to see Bing take Yahoo’s search share
down. Others statistic sites show similar trends with different but proportional levels of Google dominance and gains. What is surprising is how quickly Microsoft’s deal has damaged their former competitor.

comScore Releases October 2009 U.S. Search Engine Rankings
Search Engine Market Share

When will stock holders and regulators wake up? Is this the kind of performance stock holders expected from Bartz, the AutoDesk interloper? Getting tied up with Microsoft was supposed to be good for Yahoo. Will regulators sit on their hands as another innovative and economically important American company is destroyed?

That too was a recent lesson in how vicious Microsoft still is. The company is a curse and a threat to the Internet.

“Spam will be a thing of the past in two years’ time.”

Bill Gates, 2004

As SCO Shrinks by Half, Is Darl McBride Setting up Defamation Sites?

Posted in Microsoft, SCO, UNIX at 4:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SCO

Summary: Bad news from SCO and a related scandal (Pelican); EU increases scope of action against AstroTurfing

THE SCO case did not end when Darl McBride got fired [1, 2]. In fact, it will resume and be decided around March of next year, but SCO is meanwhile shrinking to a shadow of its former self (and Microsoft is moving in a similar direction). Here are some new numbers that Groklaw has found:

SCO is downsizing. Ch. 11 Trustee Edward Cahn has filed a motion for the sale, transfer or abandonment of certain de minimis assets. They have also signed a new lease with Canopy, and they hope the court will approve it. The new lease with Canopy is for space more than 50 percent smaller than where they’ve been. So, no more feet on that huge desk in Darl’s office.

Based on the Pelican [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], Darl McBride may also be up to other crazy things.

The Pelican claims sounded, frankly, weird to me when I first read them, including claims of Darl McBride and Robert Brazell setting up a website to defame Robbins. What legitimate businessman would do something that stupid, I wondered?

Given the anti-Groklaw Web sites*, those defamation sites against Groklaw suddenly become suspect, as well as the personal harassment of Pamela Jones. Those people at SCO are no ordinary bunch.

Speaking of defamation Web sites, the EU is extending its operation against astroturf blogs (the US FTC is also catching up). From The Register:

Social networking sites and blogs can be governed by the European Union’s Unfair Commercial Practices Directive, according to new guidance published by the European Commission.

Microsoft should be concerned because its business has been based on AstroTurfing. Like SCO, Microsoft is no ordinary company; it’s a mindset, it’s like a movement.

“On the same day that CA blasted SCO, Open Source evangelist Eric Raymond revealed a leaked email from SCO’s strategic consultant Mike Anderer to their management. The email details how, surprise surprise, Microsoft has arranged virtually all of SCO’s financing, hiding behind intermediaries like Baystar Capital.”

Bruce Perens

___
* IPWars seems to be one, but like most others which were created to counter another Web site/messenger it eventually sort of faded.

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