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02.02.10

Links 2/2/2010: Oracle/Sun Analysis

Posted in News Roundup at 11:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Free Software as Part of the Anarchist Toolkit

    The free software movement has unwittingly presented the peoples of the world with an important tool to avail of, on the frontlines of democracy. Many of those previously and currently engaged in the free software movement are unlikely to be fully aware of the consequences and benefits of their work and may still be living in the fantasy belief world of neo-liberalism, free markets, trickle down economics, endless growth, domination and mindless consumerism. This is simply because many of the participants just do it ( -i.e. write code) and are not in any formal way a member of anything in particular, or politically motivated. Undoubtedly global capitalism has also fed off the free software movement and gained its own benefits, but on balance it would seem it has been positive to ordinary people too.

  • Adam Gifford: Open source route frees the mind

    One thing holding back the greater adoption of free software in this country is free software.

    Schools could use Linux and other open source technologies, but the Education Ministry very kindly negotiates on their behalf with Microsoft for a licence covering all New Zealand state and integrated schools.

  • Crafting Digital Media: A Book Review

    Crafting Digital Media is not an attempt to enumerate and describe every relevant package for Linux. Some users may be disappointed to learn that their favorite program is not profiled or even mentioned, but that should not diminish the book’s value for those users. Above all, Crafting Digital Media is about maximizing the creative potential of Linux by organizing its productive software into a seamless workflow. The information and advice in this book is valuable to the creative user regardless whether he uses the recommended applications or his preferred suite of custom-built software.

  • Puppet

    • Puppet, Chef, Dependencies and Worldviews

      There was a flurry of Puppet Versus Chef in last week or so. I don’t want to go into sorting all the details at this time, but I hope I add perspective and clarity to one of the subtopics.

    • Puppet versus Chef: 10 reasons why Puppet wins

      If you’re looking for Linux automation solutions, or server configuration management tools, the two technologies you’re likely to come across are Puppet and Opscode Chef. They are broadly similar in architecture and solve the same kinds of problems. Puppet, from Reductive Labs, has been around longer, and has a large user base. Chef, from Opscode, has learned some of the lessons from Puppet’s development, and has a high-profile client: EngineYard.

  • Mozilla

  • Sun

    • Oracle Begins Picking Its Sun A-Team

      Michael Bemmer, the former head of Sun’s software business, is now the general manager of the Oracle Office Global Business Unit and is in many of the clips. He said there will be a name change for Star Office and Star Suite, which will become members of the Oracle Office family.

    • Top 8 MySQL Management Tools

      A large percentage of small to medium sized websites depend on Mysql server to support their db infrastructure. Working with it is as easy is saying it and for some reason there are numerous web and non-web administration software written specifically to manage a Mysql server and sites running on it. This article lists quite a few of them which you may find useful.

      1. NG-Admin – designed for the content management of MySQL databases. It allows the user to browse, add, edit, and delete data. It is somewhat similar to phpMyAdmin, but specializes in editing the content of Web sites, not the database structures. Its features are very easy to use and highly tunable.

    • The Great Oracle Experiment

      This, ultimately, is the most reassuring aspect of the Great Oracle Experiment: if things go wrong, there is always the possibility of taking the code elsewhere (if Oracle doesn’t mind) or just forking it (if it does). In this respect, takeovers of companies that control open source projects are rather less nerve-wracking for users than those involving purely proprietary software – a fact that we can all be grateful for after the worrying uncertainty that has surrounded the Sun-Oracle deal during the last few months.

    • MySQL Founder Monty Widenius On What to Expect Next

      OStatic: Some people say it doesn’t matter in the long run what Oracle does with MySQL. It’s open source, so it will just succeed in forked versions if Oracle does nothing with it or kills it? Are they right?

      No, a fork is not likely to save MySQL long term. I have outlined the reasons in detail in my blog.

      In short, the GPL only guarantees that the code will be available, not that it will be developed. If things are not developed fast enough (according to the needs if its users), it will very rapidly be uninteresting for the masses and slowly die.

  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 8.0 installation walk-through

      Unfortunately, FreeBSD is a great operating system with an unholy awful installer — compared to other operating system installers currently available. Some people are comfortable with text-mode installers, some aren’t.

      They are nothing to be afraid of if you have a moderate amount of knowledge, but for those who absolutely require a more up-to-date installer, PC-BSD may be of more interest than FreeBSD. Having said that, the installation is probably the hardest part of using FreeBSD, so if you’ve made it through this, FreeBSD is a lot of fun to play with.

  • Government

    • Should Government drop Windows and turn to open source?
    • For government open source is a make-or-buy decision

      This was carried into the IT sphere. I did several stories at ZDNet Healthcare about efforts by private contractors to destroy the VA’s open source VistA system — starving it of funds, driving away the best employees, centralizing contributions, and eventually replacing it through contracts.

      My sources were former government employees. The ex-VA employees stayed in touch with former colleagues and got the story out. This was not a big story, but it held a lesson, namely the risk inherent in having government employees building vital infrastructure.

  • Openness

    • Open Societies need open systems

      Openness, like democracy, must be constantly defended, says Bill Thompson.

    • Rethinking Open Data

      In the last year I’ve been involved in two open data projects, Open New Zealand and data.govt.nz. I believe in learning from experience and I’ve seen some signs recently that other projects might benefit from my experience, so this post is a recap of what I’ve learned. It’s the byproduct of a summer reflection on my last nine months working in open data.

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Stupidware

    So, dear developers, please stop assuming we’re all idiots. Let us make the same mistake again and again and sooner or later we will learn to not make the same mistakes. Training wheels are for Windows.. leave us *BSD/Linux users out of this particular loop.

  • Google mulls biz software store to punt Apps

    Mountain View is reportedly building an online store to punt business software from its partners in a move to grab more Google Apps customers.

  • Palm OS: Not Dead Yet
  • Science

    • Teenager invents low-frequency radio for underground communications

      You know what’s really annoying? Teenagers. Even more annoying? Teenagers inventing legitimately useful things and getting awards for it. Meet Alexander Kendrick, the 16-year old inventor of a new low-frequency radio that allows for cave-texting, which isn’t some fresh new euphemism, it just means people can finally text while deep underground.

  • Security

    • Victims lost $9.3 billion to 419 scammers in 2009

      Advance-fee fraud (AFF), also known as 419 scams and Nigerian scams, exploded in 2009, with victims losing more money than ever before. This is according to the latest analysis from Dutch investigation firm Ultrascan—a company that has been monitoring the activities of 419 scammers since 1996—which says that victims lost almost 50 percent more money in 2009 than 2008.

    • Researchers Uncover Security Vulnerabilities in Femtocell Technology

      Two Trustwave security consultants report they have uncovered hardware and software vulnerabilities in femtocell devices that can be used to take over the device. The duo will present their findings at the ShmooCon conference in Washington.

    • Femtocells wilt under attack

      Researchers working for TrustWave will present details of their successful attacks against femtocells at the ShmooCon security conference next week in Washington. They will explain that they were able to gain root access to the Linux-based devices, which could then be tampered with to track users and intercept calls.

    • Results of Study on Cellphone Use Surprise Researchers

      Laws banning cellphone use while driving apparently haven’t reduced crashes, according to a study released on Friday that compared the number of total crashes before the ban with the number after. The study found virtually no difference in the numbers, a finding that had the researchers scratching their heads.

    • Cyber-attacks breached 3 U.S. oil companies: CSM

      Two weeks after hackers launched a cyber-attack on Google that has appalled security researchers for its degree of sophistication, the Christian Science Monitor has revealed that online criminals breached the systems of three U.S. oil companies in 2008 through previously unreported attacks.

    • ‘No scan, no flight’ at Heathrow and Manchester

      Some passengers at Heathrow and Manchester airports will have to go through full body scanners before boarding their flights under new rules.

      It is now compulsory for people selected for a scan to take part, or they will not be allowed to fly.

    • ID minister promises virtual immortality for all Britons

      The government has guaranteed virtual immortality for every British citizen – as long as they join the National Identity Register.

    • Retailers fooled by fake and borrowed IDs

      Kids in the UK are experts in using fake IDs bought online or using someone else’s documents to get their hands on age-restricted products.

  • Finance

  • Censorship/Civil Rights

    • South Australian Government gags internet debate

      * Anonymous comments banned for SA election
      * Michael Atkinson says speech still free
      * Media says censorship is ‘draconian’

      SOUTH Australia has become one of the few states in the world to censor the internet.

      The new law, which came into force on January 6, requires anyone making an online comment about next month’s state election to publish their real name and postcode.

    • Rann Government curbs internet debate

      South Australia’s Attorney-General has defended tougher laws on political comment made on the internet.

      During election periods, anyone posting comment or blogs must publish their real name and postcode.

      Michael Atkinson says it has long been a requirement that newspapers verify personal details for letters published during election periods.

    • Does Freedom Of The Press In The UK Include Just Making Things Up?

      Of course, it’s also noted that Reporters Without Borders ranks the UK higher than the US when it comes to freedom of the press, leading the professor to claim that perhaps the UK press is a little too free when it feels comfortable making such totally unsubstantiated claims.

    • Vision Media Requests Injunction Against Blogging That “Cast[s it] in a Negative Light”

      When it added Public Citizen’s defense of Julia Forte’s 800Notes.com to the Citizen Media Law Project database the Project took note of a bizarre motion filed by Vision Media, asking the court to prohibit any public discussion about its lawsuit, including blogging. The motion is an apparent response to my email to Vision Media’s counsel inviting them respond on this blog to my comments about their lawsuit.

  • Internet/Web Abuse/DRM

    • Ubisoft’s new DRM solution: you have be online to play

      Ubisoft does not have the best history when it comes to invasive—if not downright broken—DRM, but the company’s upcoming “solution” to game piracy is much worse than anything we’ve seen in the past. The gist is simple: every time you want to play your game, it has to phone back to Ubisoft before giving you permission to play. No Internet connection? You’re simply out of luck.

    • With Kindle, the Best Sellers Don’t Need to Sell

      That’s right. More than half of the “best-selling” e-books on the Kindle, Amazon.com’s e-reader, are available at no charge.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Who Dat Holds The Trademark To Who Dat? NFL Threatens While WhoDat Inc. Asks Why?

      It seems like every year there’s some sort of controversy over trademarks and the Superbowl. Of course, the NFL has been famous for aggressively defending trademarks.

      [...]

      The Monistere brothers seem particularly annoyed by the NFL bullying small t-shirt makers, saying that they’re more than happy to grant licenses to those folks to produce Who Dat merchandise, and merchants have said that the NFL communication has been tremendously threatening and aggressive, while the Monistere’s have been quite friendly and accommodating.

    • Naomi Klein: How Corporate Branding Took Over the White House

      Ten years after the publication of “No Logo”, Klein looks at how Obama created a brand that won him the Presidency. Will his failure to live up to his lofty brand cost him?

    • Dutch Judges Plagiarize, Potentially Infringe, Blog Post In Decision About Copyright

      What makes it even worse, of course, is that the quoted/plagiarized/infringing bit might not even be accurate. As we discussed in our own post on the subject, there appears to be significant disagreement over whether or not embedding authorized content could be seen as infringing — and apparently, there is a widespread debate about it in Dutch legal circles as well, saying that it is far from readily agreed upon in the legal literature.

    • Labels: Lower Music Prices And Increase Your Profits, Study Says

      Anyone who still remembers the basic principle of Economics 101 understands, on a gut level, one big problem with recorded music: It costs too much.

    • News.com Prevents Falsely Accused Grandmother Of Getting Kicked Off The Internet By The MPAA

      Greg Sandoval, over at News.com recently came across a grandmother who was falsely accused multiple times of file sharing, and her ISP, Qwest, was threatening to kick her off the internet. We had not heard that Qwest had signed on with a “three strikes” program, so it’s a bit of news that it’s one of the companies who will accept bogus accusations. Not only that, but Qwest even told her that no other provider would grant her service because Qwest would let those other service providers “know her name and what she did.” Thanks, Qwest!

    • Anti-Piracy Scheme “A Scam & Legal Blackmail” Say UK Lords

      Several UK Lords have criticized the practices of law firms that send out warning letters to alleged copyright infringers demanding big payments. These schemes have been labeled a scam, and the lawyers operating them accused of “harassment, bullying and intrusion” and “legal blackmail” in the House of Lords.

    • Geist: Three strikes and you’re out system draws cries of foul from governments

      Canadian officials travel to Guadalajara, Mexico this week to resume negotiations on the still-secret Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement. The discussion is likely to turn to the prospect of supporting three strikes and you’re out systems that could result in thousands of people losing access to the Internet based on three allegations of copyright infringement. Leaked ACTA documents indicate that encouraging the adoption of three-strikes – often euphemistically described as “graduated response” for the way Internet providers gradually send increasingly threatening warnings to subscribers – has been proposed for possible inclusion in the treaty.

    • ACTA Talks in Mexico to Address Transparency Concerns

      Secretive international talks about how to curb counterfeiting and Internet piracy are under way in Mexico this week. But instead of focusing on the subject at hand, negotiators will spend much of their time discussing transparency, or rather the lack of it in the whole process.

    • For the Love of Culture

      Except of course for those with a devoted heir, such as Grace Guggenheim. She was not willing to accept defeat. Instead she set herself the extraordinary task of clearing all of the rights necessary to permit her father’s films to be shown. Eight years later, she is largely done. About ten major works remain. Just last year, her father’s most famous documentary–Robert Kennedy Remembered, made in 1968 in the two months between Kennedy’s assassination and the Democratic National Convention, and broadcast only once–was cleared for DVD release through the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Center.

    • David Fincher on copyright clearances
    • Authors: Don’t Make the Buddy Holly Mistake

      Listening to Holly pleading with the masters he has alienated his rights to is heartbreaking. Decca had dropped him, apparently, but had the rights to sit on his recordings for 5 years. Although they had no intention of releasing the songs, they also would not give Holly permission to do so–the cigar-chomping executive kept saying “well, we got a lot of money tied up in them, Buddy!” But Holly offered to reimburse those costs; no dice.

    • Copyright, companies, individuals and news: the rules of the road

      On 5 January, the Independent’s website ran a photo uploaded to the Flickr image-sharing site by user Peter Zabulis. Zabulis flagged his photo of a snowed-over field as “all rights reserved,” and he took exception to the Independent’s use of the image without permission, and he wrote to them to tell them so.

      Exception turned to outrage as a terse note from the Independent claimed that by posting the photo to Flickr, Zabulis had not asserted his copyright (whatever that means) and thus copyright had not been breached.

    • Canadian Broadcasting Corporation signs up with weird American copyright bounty-hunters

      The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation has signed up with iCopyright, the American copyright bounty hunters used by the Associated Press, to offer ridiculous licenses for the quotation of CBC articles on the web (these are the same jokers who sell you a “license” to quote 5 words from the AP).

    • Will your big-screen Super Bowl party violate copyright law?

      An offhand comment the other day by a friend caught my attention—”Did you know that you can’t watch the Super Bowl on a TV screen larger than 55 inches? Yeah, it’s right there in the law.”

    • AP renews licensing deal with Yahoo, not yet with Google

      Yahoo has renewed its licensing deal with the Associated Press to post articles from the global wire service on Yahoo Web sites, the companies said on Monday.

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: February 2nd, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:24 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

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

Microsoft and Its Drones Lobby for Even More Tax Breaks; Bill Gates Tries to Loot Italians

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception, Europe, Microsoft at 12:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft’s more or less transparent games of tax dodging carry on while Bill Gates is trying to squeeze more money out of governments (despite paying almost nothing in tax)

Microsoft, its puppet Yahoo, and the Microsoft-occupied VMware [1, 2, 3, 4] are lobbying as a group to receive even more tax breaks than they already receive.

Microsoft uses Reno to achieve something similar [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] and “Washington State Revisits Data Center Tax Break,” according to this new report which also relates to another from the Seattle Times that says: “A business and city coalition called Washington Needs Jobs supports the legislation. Members include the city of Quincy; technology companies including Microsoft, Yahoo and VMWare; and developer Sabey.”

MicrosoftTaxDodge.com has meanwhile more to say:

The post seems to focus on companies out of state doing business in Washington. It does not clearly address Microsoft which both has an extensive physical footprint in Washington and uses Nevada to record revenue in an attempt to evade Washington’s B&O Royalty Tax.

While we are in favor of clearer definition of Nexus in relationship to these taxes, it’s important to focus on the potential illegality of Microsoft’s existing accounting methods to dodge the royalty tax. We continue to believe Microsoft’s historical behavior and current actions represent tax evasion and can and should be cracked down upon by the Department of Revenue.

It is worth emphasising that the Gates Foundation is being used to escape taxation as well. It’s scandalous and we provided a lot of evidence before. The GatesKeepers Web site is very cynical about the Gates Foundation which it characterises as “philanthrocapitalism” (making money while pretending to be a charity).

Matthew displays just a glimpse of his opinion of Bill’s hubris in this article. And he can see that whatever Bill’s original jottings might have been, the Gates Foundation’s well-paid machine has twisted, spun, massaged, and otherwise fixed Bill’s text so that it resembles gospel rather than one man’s thoughts. Beatification indeed.

The above post references an article from The Economist that says:

In June he [Bill Gates] met Silvio Berlusconi, the prime minister of Italy, to protest against his halving of the country’s aid budget, “making them uniquely stingy among European donors,” as he put it in his epistle. So far, this pressure has not changed Mr Berlusconi’s mind. Perhaps, if he wants his letters, blog posts and tweets to have more influence, Mr Gates should take the gloves off and start talking as tough as his old pal Mr Buffett.

This is outrageous. Don’t people understand that Bill Gates is trying to make governments send taxpayers' money towards the very same companies he is investing billions of dollars in? He even invests in governments in exchange for influence. How much more obvious need it be? This must be philanthrocapitalism at its finest. They loot populations which they also want to adore them.

“My background is finance and accounting. As a socially conscious venture capitalist and philanthropist, I have a very good understanding of wealth management and philanthropy. I started my career in 1967 with the IRS as a specialist in taxation covering many areas of the tax law including the so-called legal loopholes to charitable giving. […] However, the Gates Buffet foundation grant is nothing more than a shell game in which control of assets for both Gates and Buffet remain the same. […] The only difference is that the accumulation of wealth by these two will be much more massive because they will no longer have to pay any taxes.”

The Gates and Buffet Foundation Shell Game

Novell: We Love Our Software Patents, We Needed More!

Posted in Deception, IBM, Microsoft, Novell, OIN, Patents at 11:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Troll picks cows

Summary: Jeff Jaffe’s broken link (still available in the CTO blog) shows fanaticism for software patents at Novell; Microsoft’s cash infusion for Novell is running out

Jaffe is leaving Novell, as we noted almost 2 months ago. Jaffe’s announcement of departure appeared in Novell’s PR blogs, but the URL from PR blogs was dropped about a day ago*, so links to it broke and instead there is only this direct link. A closer look is worthwhile. Based on the post from Jaffe:

Inventive people who write more software patents per capita than anywhere else.

Software patents: A Novell metric for success.

Our reader Brandon has noticed that too:

Novell – Software Patents = Success

[...]

I find it hilarious and interesting that Novell considers a large number of software patents as a good thing. It seems to use this as a measure of their success. This is against the community belief that software patents are bad and immoral. This is a dangerous idea when you consider how much free and open source software is written by Novell. How much software could they force us not to use because of patents?

Jeff Jaffe — just like Novell’s CEO — came from IBM [1, 2], where software patents are seen as a good thing. Jaffe will be leaving while still partly accountable for Novell’s failure and Novell can only pretend to be a friend of Free software with its membership in the OIN (IBM too is the key member, but it does not mean it has an issue with software patents).

“More people need to understand what goes on behind the PR, which is simply posturing.”Novell is very problematic to GNU/Linux as a free (gratis and libre) platform. More people need to understand what goes on behind the PR, which is simply posturing. We are sure that Novell employees are nice people with families and feelings, but the interests they serve are not compatible with the philosophy required for freedom to triumph.

It is probably a good time to mention that following Worthington's visit to Microsoft/Novell he produces decent coverage that seems to be balanced, but he is quoting DiDio yet again (he did so before, along with Microsoft employees who maybe connected him with her [1, 2, 3]), perhaps not realising what she is to Microsoft. His article is titled “Microsoft exhausts coupons for SUSE Linux”

Microsoft has distributed nearly all of the US$240 million worth of SUSE Linux Enterprise Server subscription certificates that it purchased from Novell as part of a 2006 patent indemnification pact, the companies said.

[...]

Controversy surrounding the indemnification agreement inspired a provision in the GNU General Public License v3 that bars similar patent agreements going forward.

“Generally speaking, most software companies have attacked each other with patents; software patents are quite a drain on productivity of the software industry in this regard,” said Bradley Kuhn, a policy analyst and tech director at the Software Freedom Law Center, which provides legal services to Linux companies.

“But I am not readily aware of anything specific between Novell and Microsoft before their deal. If it was a large enough dispute that it made it to court, the court records would presumably show if there was.”

What happens in January 2012? The deal expires in 2 years (23 months to be precise) and then the patent intimidation can creep in, causing trouble for Novell (not just Mono and Moonlight).

Our reader Ryan says “no more Ballnux coupons” and “well, if Microsoft saw an advantage in keeping the vouchers around, they would have bought more before they ran out. They didn’t, that bodes poorly for Novell’s future. Watch Novell stock tank when word starts going around.”
____
* Maybe they thought it was bad for PR when they showed the CTO leaving (this is being syndicated there, perhaps automatically, then removed manually, but it’s just a guess). Some links from critics, as above, became “page not found” errors (WordPress’ “Sorry, no posts matched your criteria,” to be precise), which served Novell pretty well.

Zonker’s (Novell) Disdain for the FSF and IDG’s Conflict of Interests

Posted in Apple, Deception, DRM, FSF, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell at 10:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Open Microsoft with Zonker

Summary: As Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier leaves Novell, his positions regarding freedom (and the FSF in particular) are analysed a little further, sometimes by his colleagues

Zonker, the iPad/DRM apologist (his colleagues from Novell, Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza and Nat Friedman, are pretty much the same) is being shown for his bias against the Free Software Foundation (FSF) over at The Source:

I was mildly interested to see if Joe “Zonker” Brockmeier would continue to spread his special brand of so-close-to-a-lie-why-not-just-call-it-that distortions once he left Novell. Well, now we have an answer:

Yes.

And – brace yourself for a shock here – he is targeting the FSF. Again. This time around, though we are treated to simple poor reason instead of the previous gross misrepresentations of Monsieurs Stallman and Moglen.

Let’s not forget that Moglen incident. Anyway, Novell is looking for someone to replace Zonker and this is now being advertised at IDG, for which Zonker is also doing audiocasts (mostly with colleagues from Novell):

Brockmeier has done a pretty good job while at Novell, coordinating the community and marketing efforts around the popular openSUSE distro. It goes without saying that getting him on board lent a lot of legitimacy to Novell’s business deal with Microsoft in 2006. Brockmeier has a lot of respect in the community, so when he calmly explained why Novell hadn’t made a deal with the devil, people listened.

No, he told lies and he was told off for it. The bias above is telling and Zonker works for this publication, which creates a conflict of interests. He recently started writing for Ars Technica, which is a fan of Mono and Moonlight. On it goes:

I personally did not like Novell’s decision to partner with Microsoft–in particular the patent protection agreement that prompted a knee-jerk response from the free software community to change GPL v3 during its draft phase. At the time, I voiced the opinion that if Microsoft wanted to have integration so badly, it could do it without patent cooperation agreements.

[...]

It will be interesting to see who lands in the now-open Community Manager spot at Novell. Those are going to be some big shoes to fill.

This is actually true (the latter part).

Patents Roundup: Software Patents in the United States, Europe, and Rise of the Patent Trolls

Posted in America, Europe, Google, Law, Patents at 9:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Latest patent news (just as links, due to lack of time to expand)

General Debate

Do Patents Slow Down Innovation?

I’m still obsessed with my mission to “abolish software patents” especially after receiving yet another email from a new startup that claims to be a “Patent Insurance Company.” A number of these have popped up recently in the past few years, including several that are funded by VCs. Their pitch is that you pay them an annual fee, license any patents you have to them, and they will “protect you” against any patent litigation. Whenever I hear this pitch, all I can think about is Al Capone walking the streets of Chicago going door to door offering “protection” to all of the local businessmen if they will pay his vig every week.

United States

US Dir. of Citizen Participation Patents the News

theodp writes “Ex-Googler and now White House Director of Citizen Participation Katie Stanton is charged with promoting open public dialogues. Last Thursday, Stanton and Google snagged a patent on displaying financial news. Google explains that Stanton’s invention — Interactive Financial Charting and Related News Correlation — will ‘facilitate and encourage the user’s use and understanding of financial information,’ which does jibe nicely with Stanton’s appointment to Obama’s New Media Team. Too bad it’ll be encumbered by a Google patent until 2027.”

Global CIO: Software Patents And The CIO (FFII’s president says: “The majority of new patent applications are in software and business methods, and that volume continues to grow”)

Patent attorney Stephen Glazier weighs in on two recent developments, which dictate a more hands-on IT organization approach to intellectual property.

[...]

The second development is that, as of 2008, the majority of all new patent applications are in the area of software, computer systems, and business methods, and that volume continues to grow. These patents can enable the owner to stop competitors from copying the patented improvements (i.e., the patent owner can use the patent monopoly to obtain market share and competitive advantage) and to obtain cash for damages, triple damages, and attorney fees.

Europe

Germany following the EPO approach to patentability of CII? (FFII’s president says: “BGH found that processing, storing and transmitting data by a computer makes it technical and patentable”)

The German Federal Court of Justice (Bundesgerichtshof, BGH) analysed in his decision X ZB 22/07 („Steuerung für Untersuchungsmodalitäten“, in German) of January 20, 2009 under which circumstances a software that is embedded in a larger technical system may represent statutory subject-matter. Some commentators assume that this decision may represent a turnaround of the BGH’s approach to assess technical character of an invention towards that of the Boards of Appeal of the European Patent Office.

[...]

Conclusion: The decision clarifies that a software program that is embedded in a larger technical system and that involves steps of processing, storing and transmitting data by a technical apparatus represents statutory subject-matter according to § 1 PatG, which corresponds to the EPO’s approach as presented in “auction method/Hitachi” according to which executability of a computer program by a computer is sufficient to render the claim technical.

Siemens cuts staff (Siemens is a big lobbyist for software patents in Europe/Germany)

Patent Trolls

From the Patent Litigation Weekly: PwC Study Shows Patent Trolls Are Thriving

This week, our colleague Joe Mullin, who writes the Patent Litigation Weekly for IP Law and Business, guides readers through a new PricewaterhouseCoopers study on patent litigation. What grabbed Mullins’s attention was the significant role played by “non-practicing entities,” the polite term for patent trolls. (Patent trolls are entities that bring or threaten litigation to enforce patent rights, without any intention of making or marketing the product at issue.) “Patent trolls aren’t just surviving, they’re thriving,” Mullin observes. “Patent-holders are starting to delve into previously untouched economic sectors, suing small retailers and even photographers.”

2009 patent litigation study

The debate over patent reform has become more strident in the past few years as many of the world’s largest companies face increasing threats of litigation from competitors and from organizations known as nonpracticing entities (NPEs) that do not design, manufacture, or distribute products.

Report Shows Patent Trolls Are Thriving

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer Faces More Bans or Backlash

Posted in Boycott Novell, Deception, Europe, Google, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 9:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The “Blue E” is losing whatever mojo it had left as its hostility towards security and web standards has version 6 abandoned by the NHS and the Internet’s giant, Google

THROUGHOUT the month of January, Internet Explorer made many headlines [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12] for all the wrong reasons (from Microsoft’s perspective).

Here is a new cartoon about IE, as well as the announcement from Google that it is abandoning Internet Explorer 6 support.

Google will phase out support for Microsoft’s Internet Explorer 6 Web browser starting in March, the company said Friday.

This is covered in a variety of other news sites and discussed in Slashdot. It can lead to greater Microsoft-Google tensions just as everything heats up between those two.

Microsoft has accused Google of behaving like Microsoft.

Not only Google but The H too has just ranted about Internet Explorer, calling it “a problem child” in the headline and adding:

Users should consider using an alternative, such as Firefox, Chrome or Opera. Although these browsers also contain critical security vulnerabilities – with developers frequently fixing critical bugs in Firefox in particular – there have so far been almost no zero day exploits for these vulnerabilities. Criminals continue to concentrate their attacks on Internet Explorer. Firefox’s growing market share may mean, however, that it too could soon find itself under increasing fire.

Australia, New Zealand, France, and Germany have already warned against the use of Internet Explorer. The UK, however, is in Microsoft’s bed, as usual. Its government seems to be listening to Microsoft's lies about Internet Explorer security.

While the UK government contends that “there is no evidence that moving from the latest fully patched versions of Internet Explorer to other browsers will make users more secure”, there are many others who would disagree.

More details at The Register:

Google and the NHS may soon be ditching support for Internet Explorer 6, but that hasn’t stopped UK government officials from declaring the browser doesn’t give them cause for concern, unlike their French and German counterparts.

But also at The Register yesterday:

DoH tells NHS to dump IE6

The Department of Health has told trusts using Windows 2000 or XP to move to version 7 of Microsoft’s browser.

We wrote about problems that the NHS was having with Internet Explorer just over a week ago and “Manchester Police [is] cut off from database for three days with virus,” says one person who points out this report from the BBC. It says: “Greater Manchester Police (GMP) has been cut off from a national  criminal database for more than three days because of a computer virus.

“IT experts disconnected GMP from the Police National Computer (PNC) after finding the conficker virus on Friday.”

“Microsoft essentially made money from Conficker.”A fortnight ago we learned that other parts of Manchester's public sector suffered from Windows viruses and it’s not the first time this happens here. Microsoft was called in and was paid millions of pounds of taxpayers' money to repair the damage its software had caused. Microsoft essentially made money from Conficker.

Microsoft will probably blame users who do not patch their installations, but as long as Microsoft spreads its software for free under constant threats, Conficker will always be a problem. It’s the cost of Microsoft’s dishonesty.

“It’s easier for our software to compete with Linux when there’s piracy than when there’s not.”

Bill Gates

Microsoft Exposé Taken Up a Notch

Posted in America, Bill Gates, GNU/Linux, HP, Microsoft, Mono, OLPC, SCO, Windows at 8:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: More Microsoft dirty secrets (anti-GNU/Linux evidence), courtesy of Comes; book about Gates Watcher retrieved, for its scoops to be shared more widely

A YEAR and a half ago we wrote about an HP smoking gun or at least a deja vu that can help connect Microsoft and SCO. Groklaw has just found an interesting Comes vs Microsoft exhibit which shows how Microsoft responded to HP’s embrace of Linux. From the introduction:

I have another Comes v. Microsoft exhibit to share with you, Exhibit 9542 [PDF], a November 22, 2002 email to Jim Allchin and Orlando Ayala from Mike Oldham. It has to do with a planned meeting on the 25th between the two companies, on their “Better Together” theme. I think it will explain some things we’ve sometimes wondered about. One thing is clear. Microsoft was seriously concerned about Linux. And HP? Somewhat flexible, I’d say. Note the part about “the HP plan of record” to “bring a new Linux powered device into the mid-range marketplace” regarding NAS devices (network attached storage devices) and how Microsoft was able to convince them not to do that.

Microsoft and HP recently renewed their vows.

From the exhibit we have : “Based on HP’s server shipments, HP reports Windows share is up one point to 73%, Linux is also up one to two points to 12-13%. This represents approx. 200K Linux servers in the next year. HP believes that a substantial part of the Linux growth is due to the declining share for Novell. However they believe there is a growing Linux threat in the enterprise space – especially financial accounts….”

“Microsoft recently used similar tactics against i4i and against OLPC.”That was in 2002. Interesting. We have more Comes material queued for posting, but not enough time to work on it. One exhibit [PDF] (full text here) that was shown to us by a reader is what Groklaw describes as: “Letter from Bill Gates to Robert Carr, GO Corporation, December 4, 1987 (“It is too bad that you never got a chance to make Framework into the mainstream product it deserved to be. In the objects we are building for the object oriented versions of our languages we will have a concept very similar to your frame.”)”

It “looks like useful work,” said our reader, who helped us see a similarity to Mono, .NET, and Java (former Java developers sometimes join Microsoft). “My point is to update the blank files on GR with brief relevant quotes,” said our reader, “And, for instance in relation to GO, to create a narrative from the texts. In this case, billg [Bill Gates] gets a looksee at GO technology, then after sabotaging GO, incorporates it [into] Microsoft product and later on offers the GO CEO a job at Microsoft.”

We have already gathered “GO” + Microsoft references, extracted the relevant quotes, and put them in chronological order, then inserted links to relevant original Comes exhibits. It’s quite blatant. Microsoft recently used similar tactics against i4i and against OLPC.

Our reader also mentioned the movie “Inside Man”.

He wrote: “Near the end there is a voiceover quote referring to the villain (Arthur Case), something like “he sold his integrity for money and spend the rest of his life trying to get it back”. Just then the scene switches to a picture of a billboard, of Microsoft. Get the movie [trailer] and check it out.

“No shot in a movie is by accident, is this an accident or not?”

Another reader has sent us some articles on Microsoft — old articles taken from different Web sites. “I’m sure you already probably know all this information,” he said, but actually, no, there is a lot of material there which we will organise quite soon. “If Boycott Novell website could offer a download it all as archive version that is html based, it can be translated very eas[ily],” this reader added.

This reader also sent us parts of a book from a revealing account of the daughter of Pam Edstrom (of Waggener Edstrom). Steve Ballmer’s wife comes from there and a lot of dirty secrets about the inner culture at Microsoft are being told there. Expect some interesting posts soon. This book is titled “Barbarians Led by Bill Gates”.

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