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02.12.10

Alex Brown, Miguel de Icaza, and Full-time Microsoft Employee Smear ODF Again

Posted in Formats, Free/Libre Software, GNOME, GNU/Linux, ISO, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument at 11:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: More of the usual gameplay from people who have made a career out of helping Microsoft expand its circles of influence/dominance

MICROSOFT’S “Insider Friend, ‘the Fox’” Alex Brown [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21] is “Looking at the pubic review text of #ODF 1.2 pt 1″ and saying that “some bits still very ropey”

What an unsurprising statement coming from the man who essentially conspired to help Microsoft corrupt ISO’s integrity while he marketed OOXML around the UK.

“ISO is dead for software standards. Do you need an official funeral?”

Benjamin Henrion, FFII

Moreover, just very recently Alex Brown was seen defending Microsoft’s deviation from ODF [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] — a deviation which is only fragmenting and complicating everything.

Brown is joined by Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza. They are acting like Microsoft reps, to whom Simon Phipps (Oracle) replies with: “My view is that ODF should now just transclude the OOXML formula spec, but that’s probably controversial”

“To an outsider, it would probably seem clear that de Icaza is a Microsoft employee or partner who wishes that ODF just went away.”De Icaza seems very eager to keep smearing ODF, which is a threat to the top cash cow of the company whose board he serves (CodePlex Foundation board). A little conflict of interests there, no? Anyway, he is linking to his colleague Morten Welinder, who is dissing ODF and closing comments, possibly in order to prevent rebuttals from being posted. Rob Weir responded to de Icaza by saying: “The spec that vendors are implementing is linked to from the ODF TC’s homepage. Novell is on the TC. You know this.”

Maybe he’s playing dumb. After all, he also has loyalties to Microsoft, not just Novell. And guess who else is linking to de Icaza and his colleague (the ODF smear)? That’s right, it’s more noise which feeds those at Microsoft who participated in the corruption of ISO and various standards bodies around the world. They quote de Icaza as though he’s their special buddy (which he is, as he even helped bug resolution in OOXML). To an outsider, it would probably seem clear that de Icaza is a Microsoft employee or partner who wishes that ODF just went away. Why are other Microsoft agents like Microsoft MVP Miguel de Icaza linking to that same post, which is damaging to ODF and not even factual? It’s stuff like this, which makes the question rhetorical.

Miguel de Icaza writes in response to the call-out: “Another Rob Weir swing from Bombastic troll when discussing OOXML to nuanced and apologetic when it comes to ODF”

He’s starting to sound just like another one of those Microsoft employees who are smearing Weir (sometimes by creating smear blogs or calling for resignation).

Weir responds with: “ISO approval is not my success metric for ODF, but rather adopters, users and implementors. By those measure I’m pleased.”

“[I]t seems that Morten isn’t following the ODF development at all.”
      –Jomar Silva
Addressing the actual source of the FUD, Morten Welinder criticises formula handling in ODF even though a lot of office suites (excluding Microsoft Office) successfully implemented ODF support for formulas that are also interoperable. Weir showed this using a table and several sample files about a year ago.

It is worth adding that the ODF smear comes from the same group (Gnumeric) that was helping OOXML get past ISO. We wrote about this at the time [1, 2], specifically when there were complaints about GNOME engaging or in general terms helping Microsoft in that regard (Jody Goldberg from Novell got actively involved for example).

Jomar Silva, who is a key person in ODF, says that “it seems that Morten isn’t following the ODF development at all. Simply pathetic !”

Let’s remember what these people are pushing for at ODF’s expense. OOXML is utterly flawed and it annoys so many users of Microsoft Office, based on this new analysis at INC.com: [via Bob Sutor]

For those using older versions of Microsoft Word, or other non-Microsoft word processing software, the new .docx format can be a real pain. It has caused dissension in some workplaces. How to cope with conflicting Microsoft Office formats.

It’s a funny article to read. Microsoft’s own customers loathe OOXML.

ODF is also important because it offers “equal opportunities”, as advogato.org put it:

It is possible to get people to listen if you want to instil Free Software principles, but they have to have a “handle” against which they are forced to act, within the organisation that they work. Or, if they agree with you in principle, but are otherwise hog-tied, they need that “handle” with which to justify their actions to their superiors.

Using the words “Discrimination” and “Equal Opportunities” in the same sentence seems to do the trick.

Jan Wildeboer says that “The ODF TC peeps should really read this gem,” which accurately dissects some of the deception from Microsoft and its promoters. Here is Miguel de Icaza hugging Jeff Atwood from Microsoft. The photo below (from Marcus Griep) is a very recent one and the description of de Icaza’s talk at this event (filled with Microsoft employees and content) goes as follows:

Miguel also showcased MonoTouch, building a simple program in MonoDevelop on Mac OSX, and demonstrating it in the iPhone simulator. Including lots of pro-Linux banter and some pokes at Richard Stallman, Miguel kept the audience interested and amused, which is exactly what the last presentation in an 8-hour day needs.

Yes, it’s the same guy we have come to know ever since he compared Stallman to George Bush. What does that make it his darling Microsoft? Either way, it’s nice of him to ridicule Stallman in front of an apparently Microsoft-dominated audience. It must be a new and entertaining pastime for them.



From Marcus Griep

LiMo (Linux) Player Sues Microsoft and Apple for Software Patent Violations

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Microsoft, Patents at 10:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Another pseudo-FOSS company is suing its rivals using software patents, this time targeting Apple and Microsoft

ON February 10th 2010, a company that exploits/relies on Linux and contributes nothing to Linux (it is affiliated with LiMo, but only in the ACCESS sense) filed this lawsuit:

Emblaze, whose companies include Magic Software and Matrix IT, said that the Vole’s IIS Smooth Streaming system and Apple’s HTTP Live Streaming application use its technology.

Here is the press release and some more news coverage [1, 2, 3]. Emblaze and ACCESS are part of the sick obsession with software patents and patent pools. They attack the rest of the Linux ecosystem with words and threats. It is just like TiVo [1, 2, 3] or Akamai and we addressed this subject before. These are the companies that endorse and pay for software patents rather than promote GNU/Linux as a free operating system. Works With U, a Web site which is focused on Ubuntu, has just published this short essay about the harms of software patents when it comes to GNU/Linux.

Patented codecs are also unlike other non-free software upon which many Linux users rely because they have completely GPL-compatible equivalents that work just as well. Proprietary graphics and wireless drivers are necessary because no equally functional open-source drivers exist; in contrast, the Ogg Vorbis audio codec and Ogg Theora video compressor function just as well by most measures as the proprietary codecs, such as mp3 and the mpegs, that they seek to replace.

Emblaze’s action might only provoke and justify retaliatory action from Microsoft and even Apple, which is also a problem when it comes to software patents. Microsoft loves to say that its actions against companies like TomTom, for example, can be rationalised by those 50+ patent lawsuits against it.

About a decade ago, Microsoft responded to this problem by grooming and funding what would become the world's largest patent troll, Intellectual Ventures (Apple funded this too). Based on this new job opening, this patent troll keeps growing. “Intellectual Ventures looking for a patent attorney in Bellevue (Washington) next to Redmond,” wrote the president of the FFII some hours ago. What Emblaze, ACCESS and that whole LiMo bunch are doing by playing with software patents against Microsoft and Apple is legitimising those patents and providing a pretext for attacks on Free software. You don’t make peace by starting a “defensive” or “precautionary” war.

Ubuntu GNU/Linux 10.04 Search Page Links to Microsoft Datacentres

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Search, Ubuntu at 9:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: As the new screenshots show, Ubuntu’s change of a search provider is now finalised

Google expands in search with yet another brand new acquisition, whereas Yahoo! “struggles to gain search respect,” according to CNET (also appearing in CNN). Yahoo! has only itself to blame after the hostile hijack that left the company’s search destiny in the hands of a convicted criminal with a long series of offences. Yahoo! is already giving up on parts of its portal and services while Bartz, Microsoft’s old friend from Autodesk, is letting Microsoft essentially buy out its search market (on the cheap). Bartz is not a failing CEO; she’s doing exactly what the invader must have wanted her to do. It’s a “zombie” company as SJVN called it and “Yahoo executives address ‘misconception’ about search,” says the news headline from Reuters.

Yahoo Inc executives defended the company’s commitment to Internet search on Wednesday, vowing to reverse the erosion of the company’s market share and to fix the “misconception” that the company has given up on the business it helped create.

So what is this “misconception”? Does Yahoo! deny its plan to outsource all search to Microsoft, starting with the United States? This is very relevant to us because Canonical has just prepared the start page for Ubuntu 10.04, which will be released in April. Canonical will redirect search queries of many Ubuntu users to Microsoft [1, 2, 3], but the page deceives by displaying the more innocent logo of Yahoo!

Ubuntu start page

Microsoft Leads Privacy Debate by (Bad) Example

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Servers at 8:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Major fluke after a major case of unavailability affecting Microsoft’s volume licensing site

Microsoft’s volume licensing site suffered a technical downtime for over a month (it’s no wonder that the London Stock Exchange abandons Microsoft [1, 2], is it?). Now that it’s back, the site/service royally messes up privacy and security by serving people profiles that are not theirs:

Microsoft’s woes over at its revamped but pretty flaky Volume Licensing Service Center website continued today, after the firm inadvertently let slip the wrong subscription information to at least one of its customers.

It is remotely possible that Microsoft is just incapable of coding properly.

“The best way to prepare is to write programs, and to study great programs that other people have written. In my case, I went to the garbage cans at the Computer Science Center and I fished out listings of their operating systems.”

Bill Gates

Latest Deception for Internet Explorer 8 and Vista 8

Posted in Deception, Marketing, Microsoft, Security, Vista, Vista 7, Vista 8, Windows at 8:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Lots of hot steam but no substance at all

Summary: Microsoft exploits children so as to pretend Internet Explorer 8 makes them secure/safe from exploiters; Huffington Post advertises Microsoft products that do not exist (vapourware)

Microsoft’s publicity stunts that exploit children are nothing new and the latest such stunt is a promotion of Internet Explorer 8. We wrote about this stunt in [1, 2] and Sirius does that too:

At a click of a button on Microsoft Internet Explorer 8 (and only on Microsoft Internet Explorer 8) a secret code is launched which reports an individual to a Government organisation called CEOPS which in turn accesses the Police databases.

[...]

Guilty until proven innocent must be the default position. Prove me wrong Microsoft, give your code to your competitors, Open Source it and we can all help save children.

People ought to pay attention to this recurrence/theme. Microsoft uses children even in order to sell Vista 7. British television channels are full of evidence and a parents television council has already complained. But now, to make matters even worse, Vista 8 vapourware is being promoted in the UK (Ziff Davis [1, 2, 3]) and in Microsoft’s new platform for shameless self-promotion, namely the Huffington Post [1, 2, 3, 4].

“Microsoft uses children even in order to sell Vista 7.”“Note that MS-Huffingtonpost is talking about Windows 8,” told us a reader a few hours ago. It seems like any time Bill wants news printed, he can count on his good friend Arianna. Of course if they are talking about Windows 8, that means 7 is as big a disaster as we thought.

“Also note the BLING search box – but that if you use the search box at the top of the page Google is the search engine. Maybe Bling isn’t capable of doing what HuffPost wants.”

This coverage is just more vapourware with no details, not even vague ones. A few days ago we showed Windows Mobile 7 relying on similar tricks (fake “leaks” and “sneak previews” for hype). Vista 7 is just the same as Vista in many ways (almost no progress made in 3 years of development) and by all early indications, Vista 8 will be pretty much the same. Many of the Windows managers have quit the company, so this key product lacks vision, direction, and leadership.

“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

Vista 7′s 8th Sin: Another Antifeature Appended with Windows Update

Posted in Microsoft, Vista 7, Windows at 7:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bad Vista 7

Summary: Microsoft makes Vista 7 even worse by adding a user-hostile ‘feature’ to it (using the operating system’s mechanism that’s intended for security)

THE reality behind Vista 7 continues to depress users. It becomes increasingly user hostile as time goes by, even without a new release of the operating system. One of our readers said, “are you looking forward to your Internet driver's license? Next they force you to you the authorised Operating System face imprisonment. Isn’t the system grand?”

Microsoft is now informing users of Vista 7 that it is adding another antifeature:

In the coming days, we’ll be deploying a new update for Windows Activation Technologies, the set of built-in activation and validation components built into Windows 7. Called Windows Activation Technologies Update for Windows 7, this update will detect more than 70 known and potentially dangerous activation exploits. Activation exploits are sometimes called “hacks”, and attempt to bypass or compromise Windows’ activation technologies. This new update is further evidence of Microsoft’s commitment to keeping customers and partners secure. The update will determine whether Windows 7 installed on a PC is genuine and will better protect customers’ PCs by making sure that the integrity of key licensing components remains intact.

It is always justified by “defence” and “security”. That is how unpopular wars too are usually sold to the public. It is a lot more likely that Microsoft is just trying to squeeze more money out of users, especially now that financial results are poor [1, 2, 3, 4]. Here is the discussion at Slashdot and the spin from Mary Jo Foley, who is obediently repeating negative words like “piracy” (for copyright violation, which has nothing to do with crime on high seas). Thom Holwerda is doing the same thing, being the Vista 7 fan that he is [1, 2] (by admission). Here is the best coverage we could find on the subject:

Who Owns Your PC? New Anti-Piracy Windows 7 Update ‘Phones Home’ to Microsoft Every 90 Days

Greetings. Sometimes a seemingly small software update can usher in a whole new world. When Microsoft shortly pushes out a Windows 7 update with the reportedly innocuous title “Update for Microsoft Windows (KB971033)” — it will be taking your Windows 7 system where it has never been before.

The whole essay/discussion is worth reading. Our reader Oiaohm asks, “How long until this is not optional?”

Bad policies are usually phased in as voluntary before they become obligatory. That reduces if not eliminates a lot of the backlash. The ID card (population management scheme) in the UK is a recent example of this.

“At some point, I believe they will go so far as to sue users.”
      –Chips B. Malroy
Our reader Ryan had some more thoughts to share on the subject last night. “This update won’t even do anything,” he argued, as “it may remove the crack for now and put you back into grace mode, but 2-3 days later there will be new cracks and if you ever do get to the end of the 30 days, you can rearm 3 more times and get 90 more. Then there’s going to be a “fixed” service pack too, so they’re not gaining any ground by turning off what’s out there.”

Chips B. Malroy says that his “feeling [is that] it is important. Because it shows the measures that MS is going to, with the phone home stuff. At some point, I believe they will go so far as to sue users. But the WGA squeezing of non-legit users, will increase as the MS profits decrease, of that you can be sure.”

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: February 12th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:11 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.

More Victims Attest to Windows Bricking and Microsoft Halts Patches

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 7:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Patch Tuesday is met with a major glitch that leaves many people without access to their computer/s and Microsoft finally acknowledges this by suspending some patches

LAST NIGHT we showed that Windows security is a lost cause. Far too many machines that run Windows are infected; in fact, almost the majority are, even though they run so-called ‘anti-viral’ software. According to this new report, Windows Trojans hit people almost literally in the pocket:

A researcher at SecureWorks has uncovered a new Trojan swiping credentials of customers of roughly 15 large and medium-sized banks in the United States.

SecureWorks has dubbed the malware the Bugat Trojan. The malware has similar functionality to other banking Trojans such as Clampi and Zeus, and was seen being distributed by a Zeus botnet.

On Tuesday came a very large number of security patches for Windows [1, 2], some of which were bricking Windows XP boxes. Awareness of he problem is now being spread as more people become vocal victims who speak out:

Tuesday’s security updates from Microsoft have crippled Windows XP PCs with the notorious Blue Screen of Death (BSOD), users have reported on the company’s support forum.

Complaints began early yesterday, and gained momentum throughout the day.

The solutions are far from simple and this is so bad that Microsoft hits the “panic!” button and halts updates:

Microsoft has removed one group of patches it released as part of this week’s Patch Tuesday — MS10-015 (KB977165) – from its Windows Update service until it can investigate reports by some users that it is causing havoc with their PCs.

To make matters worse, those who did manage to install the patches and actually reboot their machine successfully would be saddened to know that their machine is still not secure. “Another Windows security flaw is discovered,” says the headline from The Inquirer.

ANOTHER DAY, another Windows security flaw, it seems.

This time Microsoft has posted Security Advisory 977377, which reports a vulnerability in the Transport Layer Security (TLS) and Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) protocols.

That was fast. It’s back to the usual cycle of endless vulnerability. No wonder one in two Windows PCs is a zombie PC.

“Gates may be gone, but the walls and bars of proprietary software he helped create remain, for now. Dismantling them is up to us.”

Richard Stallman

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