IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: February 25th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


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

Microsoft Unleashes the Hounds on Google While Abusing the Law With Warrantless Spying

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Google, Law, Microsoft at 7:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“I’m going to f—ing bury that guy, I have done it before, and I will do it again. I’m going to f—ing kill Google.”

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO

Steve Ballmer
He loves wiretapping!

Summary: Microsoft is intruding people’s private communications, reveal new policy leaks; the antitrust investigation against Google is blamed on the Microsoft lobby

MICROSOFT’S hate campaigns against Google have been aided by particular publications [1, 2] and it’s proving to be effective. Microsoft is scared of Google because it’s a direct threat to Microsoft on pretty much all fronts (E-mail, search, browser, mobile, operating systems, office suites, collaboration and so on).

The latest examples presented in this post would not be the first of their kind, nor will it be the first time that Microsoft targets Google in malicious and probably illegal ways. That’s just Microsoft’s nature.

“Microsoft is scared of Google because it’s a direct threat to Microsoft on pretty much all fronts (E-mail, search, browser, mobile, operating systems, office suites, collaboration and so on).”To give some previous examples, an ex-Microsoft manager produced an anti-Google study, Microsoft has had whisper campaigns against Google, it has had AstroTurf campaigns against Google, and it recently sued Google too (not just urged other companies to sue Google [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]). Even the mainstream media covers this stuff.

In addition to all this, we know that Microsoft has been manufacturing abuse against competitors and critics, sometimes by spying on reporters. Microsoft is watching everything (with the help of peripheral agencies) even if it’s not obvious to see on the surface.

With the kind help of Bill Gates’ new friend lady Huffington [1, 2, 3, 4] (see the photos and remember that Murdoch is also a friend of Microsoft and their ally against Google [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]), Microsoft has pushed to make eavesdropping in datacentres a lot easier, but with or without the changes, Microsoft is intruding people’s private data to shut down an important Web site.

Microsoft Kills Watchdog Website Due to Leaked Documents


For example, in cases involving libel or trade secrets, said Cohn, “You go to court, you make a case and you get an injunction. You don’t just file a form. DMCA makes censorship easy.”

Cohn also noted she feels the reason Microsoft actually wants the document removed from the Web is because, for a large corporation with millions of users and an aggressive PR agenda, the document raises concerns and sparks conversations the company would rather not confront.

“It’s part of a very intense political debate about the role of intermediary companies like Microsoft aiding surveillance for law enforcement. It’s embarrassing for Microsoft for their users to see how much the people who carry their email have arrangements with law enforcement.

“All of the people who carry our communications are an easy conduit for our government to spy on us, and a lot of people are unhappy about that. It’s a legitimate public debate, and Microsoft doesn’t want to be part of that debate.”

We hope that Microsoft does, in fact, release their stranglehold on Young and his site and take part in a conversation with their users about how their data can be accessed by others, including law enforcement. We’ve reached out to them for comment and will update this post if and when we hear back.

Let us remember that Microsoft will always try to hide the evidence just as it tried burying Comes vs Microsoft exhibits. A former Microsoft lawyer decided to blow his whistle recently; he claims that Microsoft “routinely produces and/or condones deficient investigations, covers up alleged misconduct, mischaracterizes evidence, refuses to preserve or provide pertinent facts and data, protects the perpetrators and retaliates against victims.”

Well, a new document that can be seen here shows that despite Microsoft wanting to posses public data, including patient records [1, 2], Microsoft can only talk about “privacy” while at the same time violating privacy as a matter of policy. Here is Microsoft’s “spy guide” which got leaked just as Microsoft moved in to kill another leakers’ Web site.

We recently reported that a watchdog site, Cryptome, was removed from the Web for refusing to take down a copy of a Microsoft document.

This document, called the Microsoft Online Services Global Criminal Compliance Handbook, or “spy guide,” gives details on how law enforcement can grab user data from a wide range of Microsoft services, from Windows Live ID to Xbox Live to Hotmail. Microsoft holds and can reveal a huge amount of data on individuals through their social networking and file-sharing services, too. These data include IP addresses, credit cards, chat logs and much more.

How is that for a reminder that Microsoft — not Google — is a privacy/security offender? There is already “damage control” and a retreat by Microsoft (due to bad publicity).

Microsoft is said to be the cause for the antitrust challenge against Google in Europe. Here are some reports on the subject:

1. Is Microsoft behind Google legal challenge?

Internet search giant Google says complaints to the European Commission that it is using its dominanent position to reduce rivals’ visibility are funded indirectly by Microsoft.

Google claims the complaints against them in part derive from a lobbying body whose largest funder is Microsoft.


Foundem is a member of Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace (ICOMP), a Brussels-based lobbying group primarily funded by Microsoft, who have been historically critical of Google’s power.

2. EU Opens Antitrust Investigation Into Google. Microsoft’s Fingerprints Are Everywhere.

Ciao (which is now called Ciao Bing) is the Microsoft-owned German shopping site making one of the complaints. Microsoft purchased them in 2008 for nearly $500 million. The others are Foundem, a UK-based shopping site, and EJustice.fr, a French site that does legal search inquiries. All three are claiming that Google’s search dominance is hurting their businesses. And Foundem is claiming that Google has placed a “search penalty” on its site, which has crippled it.


Update: Here’s a post on Google’s Public Policy Blog. Not surprisingly, Google makes quick note of both Ciao and Foundem’s ties to Microsoft.

3. European Commission Turns Magnifying Glass On Google

Holtz also hinted that a certain rival of Google’s might be behind much of this. Ciao! from Bing is owned by Microsoft, after all, and Foundem belongs to an organization (the Initiative for a Competitive Online Marketplace) that’s sponsored by Microsoft.

Even Microsoft boosters link to Google’s explanation of this:

Regarding Ciao!, they were a long-time AdSense partner of Google’s, with whom we always had a good relationship. However, after Microsoft acquired Ciao! in 2008 (renaming it Ciao! from Bing) we started receiving complaints about our standard terms and conditions. They initially took their case to the German competition authority, but it now has been transferred to Brussels.

Now that Microsoft also attacks the Freedom of GNU/Linux through Amazon [1, 2, 3], Canonical’s COO Matt Asay says that Microsoft should try the same tricks against Google:

This week, Microsoft made its boldest move to date, signing yet another patent cross-licensing agreement with Amazon, calling out that this agreement allows Amazon to use Linux. Yes, Amazon sells its Linux-based Kindle device, but the agreement also covers Amazon’s use of Linux (presumably for the Amazon.com service, EC2, etc.), representing, as ZDNet’s Adrian Kingsley-Hughes writes, “the clearest indication so far from Microsoft that if you use Linux-based servers…you ow[e] them money.”

Oh, really?

If Microsoft has such an ironclad case in this matter, there’s just one thing to do:

Sue Google.

Google, after all, is the killer bee in Microsoft’s bonnet, one that Microsoft has been at pains to repel, and one that depends heavily on Linux. Google Search, Apps, Chrome OS, Android, etc. make heavy use of Linux, and threaten to topple the Redmond giant.

It would not work of course. But anyway, Microsoft is desperate as its business keeps declining [1, 2, 3, 4]. Windows is just trouble (cartoon) and even some of Microsoft’s former chiefs don’t believe in the company anymore:

The recent commentary by former Microsoft Executive Dick Brass regarding Microsoft’s loss of any innovative edge and the rebuttal by Frank Shaw, corporate vice president for corporate communications [“Microsoft’s creative destruction” and “Microsoft: A good idea isn’t enough,” Business, Feb. 8], was eerily reminiscent of Dilbert — a regular feature I read in the comics section of the paper.


On the one hand, we have a logical reconstruction of Microsoft’s miscues, articulated by a company insider with a credible perspective on the issues under discussion. On the other hand, we have a corporate executive striving to characterize the color black as actually only a misrepresentation of a slightly shaded color white.

Microsoft is neither black nor white. It’s neither “Good” nor “Evil”. It’s just truly criminal; it has always been like that. That’s just an objective statement.

“No other large companies as far as I know use their employees as attack dogs to silen[ce] dissent. It’s time for Microsoft to stop this nonsense.”

The Prickly Prince From Microsoft Strikes Again

George Walker Bush
Guess who else likes wiretapping?

Free Software Must Not Fight Fire With Fire

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Kernel, Novell, OIN at 6:33 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Further to the Linux Foundation’s implicit acceptance of software patents, we present another new dilemma (OpenGov/OSFA)

THE Linux Foundation funds development of one of the most important Free software projects out there. But it does not mean that we should blindly agree with everything that it is doing (the same goes for Red Hat). There was one example yesterday where we criticised the Linux Foundation for supporting or silently endorsing software patents like its masters at IBM. This is not helping, especially not when it comes to Free software outside the kernel (and yes, OIN covers more than just kernel space, but still, the Linux Foundation is feeding the USPTO by gestures of legitimacy).

“They are participating in a broken system rather than repair it or at least mend its modus operandi.”The fact that the Linux Foundation is also feeding IDC (sometimes with Novell) is not helping either. To expose IDC's financial relationship with Microsoft, for example, would no longer help the Linux Foundation as it would rightly be called a “hypocrite”.

We dislike this idea of the Linux Foundation et al lobbying the government, which means that they fight fire with fire rather than put out the fire and strive to reform inherently broken systems (such as the USPTO).

According to this couple of reports, the OSFA is lobbying the government now:

Check out OpenGov Tracker. The ideas are there, with good discussion, but I’m doubtful about the numbers. The “top ideas” all have under 100 votes. It’s a new site, sure, but I wonder if people can get enthusiastic about trying to influence the government.

They are participating in a broken system rather than repair it or at least mend its modus operandi. Later on we will write about Microsoft’s anti-Google lobby and explain why abolishment of lobbying — not a fight between lobby groups (or between patent arsenals, or analysts for sale) — is the only ethical way to go. Howard Zinn once said something along the lines of, just because you believe you fight against “Evil” does not make you “Good”; you can both be “Evil”. Free software should challenge morbid aspects of the system that is hostile towards it; the system ought to adapt to its original goals rather than participants adapting to this derailed system.

“Did you know that there are more than 34,750 registered lobbyists in Washington, D.C., for just 435 representatives and 100 senators? That’s 64 lobbyists for each congressperson.”


2X on “One of the Biggest Security Vulnerabilities in the Windows OS for Many Years”

Posted in Law, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 5:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Palacio legislativo en montevi

Summary: New security policies sought by politicians as a 10-year old Windows flaw surfaces

A FEW days ago we wrote about the enormous cost of Windows being as insecure as it is. A 10-year old flaw has been reported in Windows and this one firm considers it perhaps the worst in a decade. Not everyone agrees, but here is the claim anyway.

A new Windows-based denial of service attacks reportedly exploits a 10-year old OS flaw to crash vulnerable systems.


2X, which is not well known in the world of information security research, issued a press release over its discovery on Wednesday billing it “one of the biggest security vulnerabilities in the Windows OS for many years”.

The state of Windows botnets is alarming authorities:

The official British view casts ongoing talks between the US and Russia – aimed at fostering cooperation between states on internet security and agreeing ground rules – in a pessimistic light.


“The increasing sophistication of criminal cyber tools and the availability of cheap, fast broadband will mean that states are able to achieve their aims by hiring criminal botnets to carry out DDOS or other attacks on their enemies’ infrastructure.”

Governments may use this to pass new draconian laws and Microsoft can pass discriminatory measures to address a problem that its own negligence [1, 2, 3] has created. The US cybersecurity czar is former Microsoft employee Howard Schmidt [1, 2, 3], so this new US push for “government cybersecurity authority” might be trouble for Free desktops.

Microsoft Claimed to be Cheating in Web Browsers Ballot

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Free/Libre Software, Google, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument at 5:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No lock on the door

Summary: Microsoft’s EU ballot claimed not to be rearranged at random and besides, it totally disregards the issue of Microsoft perverting the Web to make it MSIE-only

BOOSTERS of Microsoft have defended the company's discriminatory treatment of ODF in its new ‘ballot’ dialogue. Well, according to this report, Microsoft might also be cheating in the ballot that displays Web browsers:

How Random Is Microsoft’s Random Browser Choice Screen In Europe?


More than once out of every four hits, the page would show Google Chrome on the far left, and Internet Explorer would only make it to the first spot in 13,8% of page loads (scoring well below all four other browsers). In fact, in over 50% of all page hits, Internet Explorer would come out to the far right spot of the five browser choices shown on the screen.

It’s rather interesting, isn’t it?

Browser options are made worse for the illusion that they will make IE go away from Windows. They won’t. In some places, and especially in Korea [1, 2], Microsoft has used ActiveX to make a Web browser and operating system monoculture. Mozilla talked about this yesterday.

As has been in the news this week and mentioned on many Mozilla blogs, the European Commission is working with Microsoft and other browser manufacturers, including Mozilla of course, to launch the web browser ballot in the EC.

To those critics of the browser ballot who would rather the free market be left completely to Adam Smith’s invisible hand, I would present to you the example of South Korea. In short, South Korea is a sad example of a Microsoft monoculture where the course of history and the lack of anti-monopoly oversight have created a nation where every computer user is a Windows user and banking or ecommerce or any secure transaction on the Internet with South Korean entities must be done with Internet Explorer on a Windows OS.


So when people ask you, “why is the choice of a web browser important?” tell them that in South Korea, people don’t get a choice of what operating system to use or what web browser to use. After you explain to them that a place without choice is South Korea, ask them again if they’d like to not have a choice and why the choice of a web browser is important.

Microsoft is currently using Silver Lie in addition to ActiveX in order to remove choice through the Web. This is why the ballot misses an important point and a lot of users will blame their “non-IE” browser when visiting MSIE-only Web sites. Microsoft uses the same strategy to make ODF look bad.

“In one piece of mail people were suggesting that Office had to work equally well with all browsers and that we shouldn’t force Office users to use our browser. This Is wrong and I wanted to correct this.

“Another suggestion In this mail was that we can’t make our own unilateral extensions to HTML I was going to say this was wrong and correct this also.”

Bill Gates [PDF]

Glyn Moody does not mind the ballot approach. He called it a “good design”, but he had something to say about Microsoft’s insulting treatment of ODF.

Who in their right mind would opt for that? Given that Microsoft has come up with a good design for the browser ballot, it should be pressed to do the same for ODF as well. Even if it does, ODF will be faced with the same recognition problem as Firefox does, but at least it will be doing so fighting on a level playing field.

Microsoft will never treat ODF fairly; it threatens its #1 cash cow whose existence it may depend on.

“They are not implementing all parts of the OOXML standard, so he [technical director of Microsoft Denmark] is lying.”

Mogens Kühn Pedersen, chair of the Danish Standards Committee

Video: ACTA Lies and Secrecy Exposed in the EU

Posted in Europe, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Videos at 9:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: ACTA discussed in the INTA committee yesterday

Part I

Part II

Part III

Part IV

Credit: zoobab

Links 25/2/2010: Linux 2.6.33 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 9:33 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Sell Linux on its merits

    I believe we should tell Linux as it is: not a clone of Windows, nor was it created to replace it. Sure it’s nice telling people they are not likely to suffer security breaches on Linux as they would on Windows, but that should not be the norm of promoting Linux.

  • Guide For Switching To Linux At Your Church

    My earlier post on how we migrated to using Linux raised some questions. Some wondered why other churches, schools and Christian ministries did not do this (though there are many that have). Others wondered how they could do it themselves.

  • DIY

    maddog troubleshoots a broken Windows system and saves his niece some money in the process.

    My niece was having problems with her system, which because of her work must run Microsoft, and she decided to take it to a repair depot to have the hardware checked to see if anything was wrong. Nothing wrong could be found by running hardware diagnostics.

  • Nine Linux projects in 90 minutes
  • Southern California Linux Expo(SCaLE 8x) Recap

    If you are an open source fan or vendor and can make the trip, I highly recommend attending to SCale 9x next February.

  • The Five Stages of Benchmark Loss

    This weekend at the Southern California Linux Expo in Los Angeles, Matthew Tippett and I presented a talk entitled Five Stages of Benchmark Loss: PTS and You. In this hour-long talk, we covered Linux benchmarking, what has been learned over the years of benchmarking at Phoronix, the Phoronix Test Suite, and the five stages that users and developers generally go through when they lose out on benchmarking results. For those that were unable to attend this event, here are the slides and recordings.

  • Desktop

    • Corporate IT won’t run Linux desktops because of the ‘Skype attitude’

      76% of issues in the JIRA database are new. Compare this with the Windows client, where 21% of issues are new. It seems that Skype is truly uninterested in their Linux user base, expending minimal or no resources on it. Even if you take into account that the Linux client is several steps back from the Windows version and the development team is apparently working on a new version, the number of open issues is still worrying (they claim to be in a late Beta stage, but audio does not work with a large proportion of modern OS versions and there is no timeline to fix it). So, Lesson #1, DON’T INSTALL A BETA VERSION OF SKYPE IF YOU WANT TO CALL PEOPLE!


      It appears that in Skype’s mind, all Linux users are potential Beta testers of their software. We all want to suffer software failures and issues. We also apparently want no way to ever recover from them, unless we follow Skype’s unknown and unpublished roadmap. This is the attitude to the Linux desktop of a large commercial software provider. Maybe this helps us understand why corporate IT is so reluctant about installing Linux desktops – even if they don’t want Skype on their networks, they can’t trust a highly visible commercial company to write Linux software that works and manage it professionally, so what hope is there of trusting free, open source organizations from doing the right thing?

    • ASUS’ Xonar STX Gains Even More Functionality Under Linux

      Ever since ASUS first released its Xonar line-up of cards, I knew I had to have one. But, being that I use Linux as a primary OS, I knew that the chance of me finding good support was slim. Well, that support may have taken a couple of months in the beginning to come to fruition, but since then, the open-sourced ALSA drivers have come to support every Xonar model available, along with many of their specific features.

    • The best way to reduce software ‘piracy’

      Some years ago, while I was in a small computer shop in a suburb of Melbourne, trying to convince the owner to put a few machines running GNU/Linux on display, a lady arrived with a laptop in hand.


      The point of this tale? It just underlines the fact that the entire IT industry is built on overpriced products and services. People working in the business get away with it because IT is a complex business – and they are very good at making it seem even more complex than it is.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 2.6.33 released

      The shortlog below is (obviously) just the things since the last -rc8, for a fuller log you can either download the full ChangeLog, or preferably do the git thing and look at whatever area you are interested in. Or wait for the kernelnewbies report.

    • What’s new in Linux 2.6.33

      A promising open source driver for NVIDIA graphics hardware, a replication solution to prevent server down times, “ATA Trim” support and a host of new and improved drivers are some of the most prominent improvements in Linux 2.6.33.

    • Community Filtering and Disagreeableness

      In a practical regard I’m very impressed with the shear scale of development that the Linux kernel project manages to organise. It does have a very effective set of mechanisms for filtering contributions that intend to reduce noise and promote useful contribution over general chatter.

    • Built to last

      It has now been almost exactly five years since kernel development community tentatively started using the git source code management system with the 2.6.12-rc2 commit. That was an uncertain time; nobody really knew how long it would take the development process to get back up to speed after an abrupt core-tool change. As it turned out, git was almost immediately useful, and has only become more so since. Making the development process work is git’s main claim to fame, but, as a side benefit, git also makes it possible to learn a lot about how our kernel is developed. And that, as it turns out, includes taking a look at the code which is not changed.


      It turns out that, of the approximately 12 million lines of code and documentation that make up the 2.6.33 kernel, about 31% dates back to that 2.6.12-rc2 commit. A third of our current kernel has not been touched in the last five years.

    • Linux kernel R&D worth over 1bn euros

      The development costs would reach over a billion euros (or about £900m, or $1.4bn USD), according to researchers from the University of Oviendo, Spain. Jesús García-García and Mª Isabel Alonso de Magdaleno are set to present this open source thought experiment at the European Union’s Conference on Corporate R&D next month.

    • Kernel Log: Linux and hard disks with 4-KByte sectors

      In future, fdisk will arrange partitions in such a way that the new hard disks with 4-KByte sectors can achieve optimum performance – although, for now, users will still need to select fdisk’s appropriate mode of operation manually. The developers of Realtime Linux have released new kernel versions, and the completion of and 2.6.33 is also approaching.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

      • Test driving some new features of KDE 4.4

        Qt 4.6 passes a collection of new functionalities to KDE 4.4. We’ll show you the animation framework and KDE’s new multi-touch feature.

      • KDE Sub-Project for Real Time Communication

        Chat, instant messaging and video communication: the KDE Real Time Communication and Collaboration (RTCC) project wants to improve the integration of real time communication into the desktop environment.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • GNOME UX Hackfest Photos
      • GNOME 2.29.91 Beta Available
      • GNOME Shell 2.29.0 with new notification system

        Version 2.29.0 of the GNOME Shell is now available for testing. The developers have integrated a new notification system into this version. An information bar at the bottom edge of the screen informs users, for instance, about newly connected devices or about which track the audio player has just changed to. Previous notifications are saved and can be accessed via an info icon in the bottom right corner of the screen.

      • Gnome 3 Will Be Amazing

        I am excited. I am really, really excited. This should scare you. It scares me. But I hope you’ll bear with us; and by bear I mean “help us carry the load”. Help us make this real! Help us refine the bad parts! Help us eliminate the bad sub-designs! Help us shoot flames from our eyes and launch dragons from our missile tubes. Help us break granite with our faces. Descend with us, little lambs, into the labyrinth of chasomagic.

  • Distributions

    • Raster to be the default Qt4 graphics engine @ Gentoo Linux
    • The number of Linux distros – A strength or weakness?

      So to sum it up, I don’t agree per se that the number of Linux distros is either a good thing or a bad one. It is just a matter of available choices to satisfy different needs of different people from different parts of the globe.

    • too much choice can sometimes be a bad thing

      Well, to sum it up, some advice, if you’re thinking of switching to something other than Windows, and other than mac, and all you want is a decent desktop system, I would suggest you go with Ubuntu, it’s the distro I had the least problems with, and that you can get up and running even if you’re neither a programmer nor a system administrator.

    • Red Hat Family

      • RHT Poised To Benefit From Shift To Cloud Computing

        Analysts at JMP Securities believe that Red Hat (NASDAQ: RHT) appears well positioned to benefit from the shift to cloud computing, especially at the OS level with RHEL.

      • CloudLinux OS: Standing Out in the Linux Crowd?

        In the meantime, Seletskiy says CloudLinux OS can run applications designed for Red Hat Enterprise Linux and CentOS (the community version of Red Hat).

      • RHEL 5.5 – extra lube for your KVMs

        So what did I make of the RHEL 5.5 beta? I found it to be, well, quite nice. It was my first exposure to RHEL directly, though I’m familiar with CentOS, and indeed, aside from the prominent Red Hat branding, things looked and behaved much like CentOS.


        Ahead of that release, I’d say the beta provides a solid update for RHEL. The new KVM tools and additional device support will make RHEL 5.5 well worth the upgrade when the final release does arrive later this year.

    • Debian Family

      • SimplyMEPIS 8.5 Reaches RC1

        MEPIS has announced SimplyMEPIS 8.4.98, RC1 of MEPIS 8.5, now available from MEPIS and public mirrors. The ISO files for 32 and 64 bit processors are SimplyMEPIS-CD_8.4.98-rc1_32.iso and SimplyMEPIS-CD_8.4.98-rc1_64.iso respectively. Deltas are also available.

      • Knoppix 6.3 highlights

        Knoppix creator (and Q&A mastermind) Klaus Knopper shares some insights on the latest release.

      • Ubuntu

        • Why I Switched from Ubuntu One back to Dropbox

          As many of you surely know, Dropbox and Ubuntu One are applications to keep files on your desktop in sync across multiple computers, and backed up in the cloud. After using Dropbox for a year or so on Ubuntu, the Ubuntu One project came out and I thought I’d move over to it. I assumed it would be easier to set up, being pre-installed, and could integrate better with the file manager and other applications, being made specifically for Ubuntu.

        • A preview of Ubuntu 10.04

          These are just the first few things I discovered after installing Ubuntu 10.04 – Lucid Lynx. You can learn more about Lucid Lynx and download the latest test build from Ubuntu’s website. I would not recommend upgrading your system to this alpha release because it still contains a lot of bugs at this stage. If you have never used Ubuntu and would like to give it a try you can obtain a copy of Ubuntu 9.10 (the most current release) here. If you have limited bandwidth, slow internet, or you just don’t want to download it then you can also request a copy of it to be mailed to you for free.

        • Ubuntu To Make Big Announcement Tomorrow?

          Word has reached my ears that tomorrow, 25th February, at around 18:00 UTC, a big announcement concerning the branding of Ubuntu will be made.


          Whilst my source wishes to remain anonymous he did divulge that the announcement has “something to do with…” the branding of Ubuntu and/or Canonical, the colour scheme used for them and “possibly the logo”.

        • Full Circle Podcast #1: Stop Wine-ing and Go Native!

          That’s right, the Full Circle Podcast is back and better than ever!he podcast is in MP3 and OGG formats. You can either play the podcast in-browser if you have Flash and/or Java, or you can download the podcast with the link underneath the player.

        • Ubuntu founder stops by Round Rock

          My favorite cosmonaut-coder Mark Shuttleworth stopped by our offices this morning for a visit. Mark is the founder of both the Linux distribution Ubuntu and its commercial sponsor Canonical. Mark and I sat down in the lobby and caught up. Here is a short interview we recorded.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Pogoplug Linux-powered file server appliance

      In Short
      It makes a pleasant change when something does exactly what it’s supposed to, so well done to Pogoplug for taking the hard work out of sharing files. µ

      The Good
      Easy setup, loads of sharing options, decent web interface, no fees.

      The Bad
      Limited video formats supported for web preview.

      The Ugly
      Did we mention it’s shocking pink?

      Bartender’s Score

    • Phones

      • Better lucky than smart

        Last week in Barcelona at the Mobile World Congress, I felt exactly the same way. I felt I got even too lucky. This time, in my work life.


        At the Mobile World Congress, the talk of the show was Android. There were Android phones everywhere. It is mobile open source. The big announcement on Monday? Intel and Nokia, two of the largest players in mobile (who is bigger than Intel on chips or Nokia on devices?), announced MeeGo. A mobile open source initiative (and you can tell by the weird name, right amigo?). Then Symbian rushed out Symbian^3… Guess what? Mobile open source.

      • Android

        • Mobile Roadie Now Creates Apps For Android Ecosystem

          We’re big fans of Mobile Roadie, a startup that helps develop iPhone apps. But the one gripe we had was that Mobile Roadie was limited to the iPhone platform. Today, our wish came true as Mobile Roadie is launching functionality for Android phones.

        • Google snubs Chinese Android developers

          But in January Google did postpone the Chinese launch of two Android handsets – one Samsung and one Motorola – saying that it would be “irresponsible” to launch them when the search giant’s own future in China was so uncertain.

          With no Android handsets launched it would have been a strange developer conference in Beijing, and cancelling the appearance will put more pressure on the Chinese government while making Google look good at home.

        • Quake 3 Comes To Google’s Android Platform

          Almost exactly one month ago we reported that Roderick Colenbrander was working on a new open-source project after his once-popular NVClock program has since largely faded away. Details were scarce on the project originally, but we knew it was to do with Linux gaming. Today we now know that this project is called “Kwaak3″ and it’s a port of Quake 3 to Google’s Android platform.

        • HTC Hero Review

          In conclusion, this is a good phone for most people, since it provides everything that they need, however it has some lag, especially if there are many apps running, and it provides some limitations. Still, android+sense makes this phone really shine, and the lag has been reduced since the original phone with one update, and the new android 2 OS seems to bring some performance improvements which could further improve on this. However, this phone, to be great, deserved much better hardware (something like an AMOLED screen, snapdragon and 512MB ram), a decent camera, a sync app for Linux and only a few more pollishing made to the android OS (full bluetooth support and paid apps in market more specifically).

    • ARM

      • Mandriva Joins ARM Connected Community

        Mandriva, Europe’s leading Linux publisher, today announced it is a new member in the ARM® Connected Community, the industry’s largest ecosystem of ARM technology-based products and services. As part of the ARM Connected Community, Mandriva will gain access to a full range of resources to help it market and deploy innovative solutions that will enable developers to get their ARM Powered® products to market faster.

      • ARM Launches a Smarter Brain for The Internet of Things

        So ARM added some digital signal processing capabilities to the chip. Think of it as sending the silicon to school so it can learn algebra–after realizing that basic math doesn’t cut it anymore. Already NXP, Texas Instruments and ST Microelectronics have licensed the cores and expect products containing the chip to hit the market in 2011. Some areas we’ll see it are in smart appliances for “talking to” to the smart grid (GigaOM Pro sub. req’d), and as a way to add better audio quality to everything from headsets to Mp3 players without adding a lot of cost.

      • Saving the World, One Laptop at a Time

        Negroponte believes that, in addition to educating children, the computers enable both girls and boys to become agents for social change. “We find in Peru that as many as 50 percent of the kids, because they are in remote villages, are teaching their parents how to read and write.”

Free Software/Open Source

  • Please talk while gaming, with VoiceChatter

    Playing a game with friends over the Internet is great, but typing conversations lacks the immediacy of a real conversation. That’s the filled by VoiceChatter, a free voice communication application primarily designed to be used during games, though it can be used for all sorts of purposes. It allows you to vocally talk to groups of other people over the Internet.

  • Nginx, the little Russian web server taking on the giants

    According to Netcraft, 7% of all websites on the internet are now using nginx. This is all the more amazing when you consider that nginx was developed by just one person.

  • Introducing hands-on computing in secondary education

    Teachers work long hours and are underpaid for the work they do. Between 7AM and 3PM they’re responsible for their students, with (possibly) an hour of time during the day where they might be free to “prep”. The truth is that “preparation time” for many educators comes either early in the morning or after work. Many teachers spend one, two, or more hours after work (either at school or at home) preparing their lessons for the next day. Weekends, likewise, are often time spent catching up, grading, or doing other work that (in theory) should be doable during their “preparation time.” Put simply, educators work hard.

  • Graphics lesson
  • Open Source 101: Paying for Free Software

    Though most Linux binaries are indeed free, there are a few out there that do come at a cost. Like, for instance, Red Hat Enterprise Linux. But, if I wanted to, I am more than able to go out and download the source RPMs and compile the code myself to make a full-blown instance of RHEL.

    Even though I have the skill set to do this, the question then becomes, why would I? My time is worth way more then the fee Red Hat charges for putting this all together, so even if it hits my wallet right up front, it’s well worth it in the long run.

    This is the core advantage of open source software for most users like me: it’s not that we can get the source code ourselves, but rather that other people with more time on their hands (and ideally a paycheck to do it) can take the code and make it into a form we can use.

  • Thinking about open source: There are three types of software

    Let me break down software into three categories:

    1. Open source software, where every single byte of the programming source code is covered by some license sanctioned by the Open Source Initiative (OSI).
    2. Proprietary software, where none of the code making up the whole is covered by an OSI-sanctioned license or is otherwise made available for free reuse and distribution.
    3. Hybrid software, where some of the code is covered by an open source licence and some of it is not.

    Whoa!, you might say, it is ethically and ideologically wrong to do anything but #1!

    Whoa!, you might say, capitalists abhor “free” when it comes to anything they are trying to sell, so #2 wins!

    Whoa!, you might say, you’re allowed to mix open source and non-open source code to create software, as in #3?

  • Open Source vs. the White Supremacists

    The open source connection is indirect, but essential—Facebook is built on open source technologies, and the Internet itself is one of the biggest open source success stories of all: open software, and open standards and protocols.


    Once again I give my heartfelt thanks to all the great Linux and FOSS people who made all this possible. It’s making a big difference to my little community.

  • Diffusion of Open Source Innovation

    The open source innovation backbone for startups mentions Google, FaceBook and Twitter sustaining innovations, reporting that are all heavily based on open source software. Beyond standing on giants’ shoulders, companies like Google are engaged at tactical and strategic level with open source communities, and they are not alone.

  • Many Happy Returns, Apache

    First, it ensured that the back-end of the Web was not locked into proprietary standards. Had Microsoft established its Internet Information Server (IIS) there, as might well have happened in the absence of Apache, it would have been able to control vast swathes of Web development through the tight linking between IIS and Internet Explorer on the client side.


    Apache has moved far beyond its roots to become a key player in the open source world in many areas. On the occasion of its 15th birthday, it’s good to remember just how much it has done in that time, and to look forward to all the things it will do in the future. Many happy returns, indeed….

  • Free Software, Private Property

    The main thrust of the article is that Open Source companies could exclude people from using Free Software. The specific hypothetical being Red Hat increasing the inconvenience of downloading an .iso – technically they are meeting the obligation of providing the source, but they are adding “hurdles” to make it not worth the effort.

    The basic point holds – a company could ostensibly pretend to be Open Source-friendly but take all sorts of “extra-license” measures to work around “the spirit of Open Source”.

    Why would a company do that?

    Consider a company like Red Hat, well-respected and considered genuine in its commitment to Open Source. Imagine, what would happen if Red Hat did try to fiddle with download access: not only would the community nerd-rage with the intensity of a million exploding blue LEDs, not only would Red Hat suffer a credibility hit of biblical proportions, but someone would just put up a torrent and work around the problem.

  • Will open source ever be completely free?

    So, will open source drive prices to $0.00? Yes, for some workloads and in some scenarios, like infrastructure that will be expected to be free. But expect the smart open-source companies to make plenty of money in this service-enabled, cloud-hungry world.

  • OpenOffice.org

    • OpenOffice4Kids – Educating kids the right way

      Office suites are mainly intended for adults. But sometimes, kids write too. And when they do, they work with tools intended for their parents, functionality and looks wise. This makes the chance of a child liking big, complex word processors and spreadsheet software less likely. But what if you helped them a bit?

    • Head to Head: Office 2010 vs Open Office 3.1

      It’s a battle of the office productivity suites as we look at how Office 2010 shapes up against its main open alternative. We find out which is best in this head to head review.

      In this head to head we are focusing on the two most popular suites of office software on the market today. While some people consider the comparison a little one sided, we thought it was time to give Open Office a chance to stand up to the heavyweight that is Microsoft’s 20-year old Office, in its latest beta incarnation.

      We have chosen these two big-hitters because of the wealth of support and features available but we’d like to offer a nod to Google Docs, a suite which we see as a potential contender for the future, when it makes up part of the upcoming Chrome OS.

  • Mozilla

    • Top 5 Mozilla Firefox YouTube Add-Ons

      If you are both a Firefox user and a YouTube fan (or fanatic), there are number of Firefox add-ons that can integrate YouTube directly into your Firefox browser in ways that make watching videos more enjoyable. Each one of these add-ons comes with certain features: some allow you to download the video, some are able to create complex playlists, some make it easier to search for a video and so on.

  • Databases

    • Recently in MariaDB #1

      The aims of this kind of blog post is simple – I want to help keep the masses informed as to what’s happening with MariaDB, as a whole. There is a community growing, and MariaDB is a community project, not necessarily a Monty Program Ab baby (and we’re clear on this distinction: think of it like Canonical/Ubuntu). So, think of it as such that I’m sharing the good news, and summarising what’s been happening, to save you time.

  • Drupal

    • Drupal 7.0 Alpha 2 released

      Our first Drupal 7 alpha version was released just over a month ago. Today, we’re proud to announce the release of the second alpha version of Drupal 7.x for your further testing and feedback. The first alpha announcement provided a comprehensive list of improvements made since Drupal 6.x, so in this announcement we’ll concentrate on how you can help ensure that Drupal 7 is released as soon as possible and is as rock solid as the previous Drupal releases that you’ve grown to love!

    • How To Learn Drupal
    • Need a job? Learn Drupal

      I recently learned that there are more jobs available working with Drupal than there are employees to fill them. According to John Faber, COO at AF83, a Drupal development shop, they’re so busy with projects that they’ve had to turn away business. And it’s the same for many other Drupal specialists in San Francisco. There’s a clear need for bodies skilled in Drupal and other open-source software, including Linux.

    • Archdiocese of Saint Louis Migrates to Drupal

      In early 2009, the Archdiocese of Saint Louis determined that it needed to upgrade its website, mostly for security concerns. After investigating a move from Joomla! 1.0.x to Joomla! 1.5.x, the Archdiocese determined it would be more cost effective and a more future-proof decision to migrate the over 49 individual Joomla! sites that comprised www.archstl.org into a single Drupal installation.

    • Drupal goes to Mars

      Drupal goes to Mars, or rather, Drupal helps us go to Mars … eventually. NASA’s Mars Space Flight Facility at Arizona State University is doing a lot of advanced work with Drupal. They have a number of Drupal sites, each with a different purpose, but all used to share information about Mars as discovered by ASU’s THEMIS camera on the Mars Odyssey orbiter. All of the sites have some interesting integrations with other software, including LDAP, legacy authentication systems, Java Servlet based web services, Flash, Java desktop clients, map servers or Google Earth.

    • London.gov.uk using Drupal

      The official website for the Mayor of London and the Greater London Authority is using Drupal.

  • BSD

    • PC-BSD 8 installation guide
    • PC-BSD 8.0 Released For A Polished, Friendlier FreeBSD Desktop

      FreeBSD 8.0 was released in November with a number of improvements and various performance enhancements as our FreeBSD benchmarks have shown, but if the text-based installation process has put you off from installing this popular BSD distribution or other usability challenges, there’s no reason to fear any longer. The PC-BSD project has finally come out with their stable PC-BSD 8.0 release that is derived from FreeBSD 8.0 but with much desktop-oriented love and its friendlier installer and package management system.


    • The Toyota Recall and the Case for Open, Auditable Source Code

      Finally, in response to the controversy, Sequoia Voting Systems announced last October that their new voting machines would be based on publicly available source code and open architectures, noting that “[s]ecurity through obfuscation and secrecy is not security” and that “[f]ully disclosed source code is the path to true transparency and confidence in the voting process for all involved.”

  • Government

    • Free Software and Italian Elections 2010

      Italian free software association asks again Italian candidates for Municipal and Regional elections to sign a pact where they agree to promote the use of free software.

  • Licensing

    • Second Life Tries To Backpedal On the GPL

      GigsVT writes “The Second Life viewer has been available under the GPL for three years. Linden Lab, the maker of Second Life, recently released a ‘third party viewer’ policy that all but erases the freedoms granted under the GPL. It includes such draconian measures as ‘You agree to update or delete at our request any data that you have received from Second Life or our servers and systems using a Third-Party Viewer,’ ‘You must not mask IP or MAC addresses’ (reported to the server), ‘you must have a published privacy policy explaining your practices regarding user data,’ and ‘You acknowledge and agree that we may require you to stop using or distributing a Third-Party Viewer for accessing Second Life if we determine that there is a violation.’”

  • Openness

    • Flat World Knowledge: Open College Textbooks

      Aside from the invention of the alphabet, Gutenberg’s press and moveable type, and the Internet — all major disruptors of establishment enterprise in their time — Open Licensing is surely the most profound development yet to enable the transparent spread of intellectual capital. “Open” innovations include Linux and its various flavors; Apache servers; Moodle, a powerful open learning platform; the Open Library, providing unprecedented universal ccess to the world’s literature; open pharma offering the promise of widely shared and cheaply available pharmaceutical formulae to save lives; and Firefox, the world’s most popular web browser. Literally, billions of pieces of intellectual capital — writing, imagery, research, art, scientific formulae, designs, art, multimedia, and so on are licensed as Open — with open licensing growing at exponential rates, enabling a new world of creation and discovery — and now, Open licensing has entered the world of textbook publishing, to become a solution to the high textbook cost problems mentioned above.

    • What does information really want?

      “Information wants to be free” was, for better or worse, a powerful slogan, but 25 years later its work is done. The crowd has gathered, the rallying cry, however flawed, worked. But now we have to create some actual policies and change some real laws.

      If overly restrictive copyright, patent, and IP rules are to be replaced with something better, the free culture movement has to supply people with good, solid reasons why they should want to protect these very important and threatened freedoms.

    • Arduino – the hardware revolution

      Enter, the Arduino: a low-cost, open source, tiny hardware board for connecting the real world to your computer, and/or to the whole internet. What can be done with it? Everything. The limit is the imagination, and as you’ll see from a few of the example creations we review here, imaginative use is the norm.

  • Open Access

    • Adventures of an Amateur Cartographer

      While striding manfully across the streets of suburbia this week I’ve been listened to some back issues of FLOSS Weekly that I’d previously missed. This excellent podcast by Randal Schwartz covers all aspects of Free Libre Open Source Software, occasionally straying into open source hardware and, in the case of the podcast I was listening to, open source data.

    • Textbooks That Professors Can Rewrite Digitally

      In a kind of Wikipedia of textbooks, Macmillan, one of the five largest publishers of trade books and textbooks, is introducing software called DynamicBooks, which will allow college instructors to edit digital editions of textbooks and customize them for their individual classes.

      Professors will be able to reorganize or delete chapters; upload course syllabuses, notes, videos, pictures and graphs; and perhaps most notably, rewrite or delete individual paragraphs, equations or illustrations.

    • Meedan Releases the World’s First Open Access Arabic/English Translation Memory

      The MeedanMemory is released under the Open Database License, which permits the use, copy and distribution of the translation memory, produce work using it, and to modify, transform and build upon the translation memory.

    • Open Access to Research Is Inevitable, Libraries Are Told

      Public access to research is “inevitable,” but it will be a slog to get to it. That was the takeaway message of a panel on the role libraries can play in supporting current and future public-access moves. The panel was part of the program at the membership meeting of the Association of Research Libraries, held here yesterday and today.

    • Introducing Datapkg: A Tool for Distributing, Discovering and Installing Data “Packages”

      Datapkg 0.5 has been released! This is the first release deemed suitable for public consumption (though we are still in alpha)! This announce therefore serves as both introduction and release announcement.

    • Uncovering the truth

      Briefing papers for the meeting include a handsome discussion paper from the Audit Commission. Page 13 sports a revealing table of users and uses of public-sector data. It identifies as users: professional and frontline staff; service managers; corporate managers, directors and members; national government and regulators – and citizens. An impressive array of uses is tabulated for the users – except citizens. Apparently we use it for “choices about services” and “democracy”. Where are the innovators who pounced on data.gov.uk and mapped bicycle accident black spots?

    • Open Data in Archaeology

      In addition to opening up access to journal articles for print, new digital technologies allow archaeologists to go beyond traditional ways of disseminating scholarly research. This includes new ways of collaborating and publishing findings in ‘real time’ on the web using blogs, wikis and the like. Also researchers can go beyond PDF files of articles for print, towards machine readable texts and the raw data and other materials underlying research.

  • Programming

    • Glade 3 + GtkBuilder + Anjuta Example.

      Today I whipped up a simple GTK application using the Anjuta IDE, Glade 3, and the new GtkBuilder system. As some of you know, Glade 3 and GTK changed things up. First Glade stopped using generated code which required you to use libglade. Now the GTK developers created their own interface interpretor called GtkBuilder. Your whole entire Gtk+ application is now done using mainly signals, making it fairly easy to develop Gnome type applications.


  • Kevin Rose’s 10 Tips for Entrepreneurs

    Kevin Rose, Digg’s founder, spoke this week at Webstock in Wellington, New Zealand and covered 10 amazing tips for entrepreneurs. They were truly insightful

  • Health

    • Hospital left patients ‘sobbing and humiliated’

      Hospital patients were left “sobbing and humiliated” by uncaring staff, an investigation into one of the worst NHS scandals in history has found.

    • Americans die from hospital infections

      According to an antibiotic-resistance study from the Extending the Cure investigation, about 48,000 Americans die each year from hospital-acquired infections (“superbugs”). The medical costs to treat these infections are also staggering.

  • Security

    • Mall security guard accuses shopper of being a paedophile for photographing his own son

      Outside of the mall, Kevin was stopped by a police constable who had received a complaint from mall security that a suspicious potential paedophile had been taking pictures on its premises. The PC threatened to arrest Kevin “for creating a public disturbance” and ordered him to delete the photo of his son. The PC also averred that the Bridges Shopping Centre is a hotbed of paedophile assaults.

    • Latvian ‘Robin Hood’ hacker leaks bank details to TV

      An alleged hacker has been hailed as a latter-day Robin Hood for leaking data about the finances of banks and state-owned firms to Latvian TV.

      Using the alias “Neo” – a reference to The Matrix films – the hacker claims he wants to expose those cashing in on the recession in Latvia.

    • 3 Bulgarians charged in 44-day ATM hacking spree

      Three Bulgarian men were charged Wednesday with defrauding banks of more than $137,000 in a scheme that attached electronic skimming devices to numerous automatic teller machines in Massachusetts.

    • Call for CCTV volunteers

      Minehead CCTV partnership is looking for volunteers to operate the town’s CCTV cameras in a bid to reduce crime and disorder.

      The partnership, which includes Minehead Town Council, West Somerset Council and Avon and Somerset Police, is looking for local people to become police volunteers at the CCTV office, based in the town’s police station.

    • ICO concerned that DNA retention law neuters four data protection principles

      The Information Commissioner has criticised the Government’s proposals in relation to the retention of DNA personal data as removing the protection of the First, Third, Fifth and Sixth Data Protection Principles from data subjects. Although his measured memorandum to Parliament does not couch his concerns in this way, anyone how has knowledge of how data protection works will arrive at a very stark conclusion.

    • Citizens rail against government data sharing

      The poll found that 61% of those surveyed believe police should not be allowed to keep a person’s DNA profile if they have not been charged with an offence, compared to 45% in a similar survey by the trust in 2006.

    • Australia to require biometric visas

      Australia will spend $69 million building the technology infrastructure for biometric checks of visa applicants from countries considered a high risk of producing potential terrorists as part of Government’s long-awaited Counter-Terrorism White Paper.

    • Supreme Court sets aside strict ruling on Miranda ‘right to remain silent’

      Reporting from Washington — A crime suspect who invokes his “right to remain silent” under the famous Miranda decision can be questioned again after 14 days, the Supreme Court ruled Wednesday. And if he freely agrees to talk then, his incriminatory statements can be used against him.

  • Environment

    • Monkeys, butterflies, turtles… how the pet trade’s greed is emptying south-east Asia’s forests

      Countries across south-east Asia are being systematically drained of wildlife to meet a booming demand for exotic pets in Europe and Japan and traditional medicine in China – posing a greater threat to many species than habitat loss or global warming.

    • Global warming could hurt some poor populations and lift others from poverty, Stanford study finds

      The impact of global warming on food prices and hunger could be large over the next 20 years, according to a new Stanford University study. Researchers say that higher temperatures could significantly reduce yields of wheat, rice and maize – dietary staples for tens of millions of poor people who subsist on less than $1 a day. The resulting crop shortages would likely cause food prices to rise and drive many into poverty.

    • Have you no shame, Sen. Inhofe?

      Finally, if you’re wondering how to keep up with the non-stop barrage of pseudo science and abysmal ignorance — latest example: widespread misinterpretation of the significance of a retraction of a paper about rising sea levels — well, there’s an app for that.

      At this point, you just to have to choose your reality. I will choose Steven Chu and endlessly self-checking , self-correcting science over James Inhofe every single day.

    • A tour of climate data at CKAN

      The following guest post is by David Jones who is, among other things, a curator of the climate data group on CKAN (the OKF’s open source registry of open data) and co-founder of Clear Climate Code

  • Finance

    • Wall Street shifting political contributions to Republicans

      Commercial banks and high-flying investment firms have shifted their political contributions toward Republicans in recent months amid harsh rhetoric from Democrats about fat bank profits, generous bonuses and stingy lending policies on Wall Street.

    • The Future of Money: It’s Flexible, Frictionless and (Almost) Free

      A simple typo gave Michael Ivey the idea for his company. One day in the fall of 2008, Ivey’s wife, using her pink RAZR phone, sent him a note via Twitter. But instead of typing the letter d at the beginning of the tweet — which would have sent the note as a direct message, a private note just for Ivey — she hit p. It could have been an embarrassing snafu, but instead it sparked a brainstorm. That’s how you should pay people, Ivey publicly replied. Ivey’s friends quickly jumped into the conversation, enthusiastically endorsing the idea. Ivey, a computer programmer based in Alabama, began wondering if he and his wife hadn’t hit on something: What if people could transfer money over Twitter for next to nothing, simply by typing a username and a dollar amount?

    • IndyMac Sale To One West and The Mod/Short Sale Scam

      We linked this video once before but think it important enough to repost. This is actually a follow up to the original. Hear how the FDIC encourages One West NOT TO modify or work out lonas. They need to lose a set amount of money and when they do the FDIC will subsidize losses.

    • Wall Street’s Bailout Hustle

      On January 21st, Lloyd Blankfein left a peculiar voicemail message on the work phones of his employees at Goldman Sachs. Fast becoming America’s pre-eminent Marvel Comics supervillain, the CEO used the call to deploy his secret weapon: a pair of giant, nuclear-powered testicles. In his message, Blankfein addressed his plan to pay out gigantic year-end bonuses amid widespread controversy over Goldman’s role in precipitating the global financial crisis.

      The bank had already set aside a tidy $16.2 billion for salaries and bonuses — meaning that Goldman employees were each set to take home an average of $498,246, a number roughly commensurate with what they received during the bubble years. Still, the troops were worried: There were rumors that Dr. Ballsachs, bowing to political pressure, might be forced to scale the number back. After all, the country was broke, 14.8 million Americans were stranded on the unemployment line, and Barack Obama and the Democrats were trying to recover the populist high ground after their bitch-whipping in Massachusetts by calling for a “bailout tax” on banks. Maybe this wasn’t the right time for Goldman to be throwing its annual Roman bonus orgy.

      Not to worry, Blankfein reassured employees. “In a year that proved to have no shortage of story lines,” he said, “I believe very strongly that performance is the ultimate narrative.”

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Why I Will Not Sign the Public Domain Manifesto Why I Will Not Sign the Public Domain Manifesto

      It would be difficult to stand aside from a campaign for the right goals merely because it was written with unclear words. However, the manifesto falls far short in its specific goals too. It is not that I oppose them. Any one of its demands, individually, would be a step forward, even though the wording of some of them discourages me from signing my name to them.

      Rather the problem is that it fails to ask for the most important points. I cannot say, “This manifesto is what I stand for.” I cannot say, “I support what’s in this manifesto,” unless I can add, equally visibly, “But it fails to mention the most important points of all.”


      I ask the authors of the Public Domain Manifesto, and the public, to please join me in demanding the freedom to noncommercially share copies of all published works.

    • Administration Asks For Public Input On Intellectual Property Enforcement

      As part of the mis-named ProIP act, the newly created IP Enforcement Coordinator (generally called the IP Czar) is supposed to help figure out what an effective “intellectual property enforcement strategy” would be. While we have questions about why this position or this plan is really needed in the first place, here’s a bit of good news: rather than just doing the typical consult with industry lobbyists, the administration is, again, asking for public comment…

    • Watch Lawrence Lessig on copyright, fair use etc: live on video

      Video streaming software company Flumotion and the Open Video Alliance will stream live on the net a speech on copyright, fair use, politics and online video being delivered on Friday morning (Australian Eastern time) by Lawrence Lessig at the Harvard Law School.

    • Criminalise Exotic Pets, not File Sharing

      But of course, since we’re talking about mere ecosystems here, not something sacred like intellectual monopolies, it’s pretty low on governments’s priorities….

    • Make 3 strikes bill law, says Simon Cowell

      The Three strikes law is a corporate music industry scheme and an element of the ACTA project.

      It’s being introduced as locally proposed legislation by governments in countries such as the UK and France. Under it, governments would act as entertainment industry copyright agents, and ISPs would become industry enforcers against their own customers.

    • ACTA: why will the EU Commission not answer?

      Questions on ACTA in the European Parliament today revealed a distinctly shady Commission, which is giving out conflicting information publicly and privately. The key issue for MEPs is why the Commission is being so economical with the truth?

    • Help the European Parliament oppose ACTA

      Four Members of the European Parliament – Zuzana Roithova (CZ, EPP), Stavros Lambrinidis (GR, S&D), Alexander Alvaro (DE, ALDE) and Françoise Castex (FR, S&D)- have submitted a written declaration opposing ACTA.

    • Consumers ‘confused by copyright’

      The current state of the law means that it is illegal for somebody to copy a CD or DVD onto a computer or an Ipod for their own use. This copying to a different device is known as format shifting.

      In a poll of 2,026 people, some 73% said that they did not know what they could copy or record.

    • New Zealand Introduces File-Sharing Amendment Bill

      Following widespread objections, New Zealand’s Section92A ‘guilty upon accusation’ anti-piracy law was scrapped last year. Today, The Copyright (Infringing File Sharing) Amendment Bill will be introduced, which repeals Section 92A and replaces it with a “three-notice” regime, backed up by $15,000 fines and 6 month Internet suspensions.

    • New Zealand tries again with anti-piracy copyright laws

      The New Zealand Government has tabled in Parliament its second attempt at amending its copyright laws to counter illegal downloading.

Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Digital Tipping Point: Dr. Hoang Le Minh, Deputy General Director, Department of Science and Technology, Ho Chi Minh City 02 (2004)

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

Microsoft Uses Vapourware and ‘Piracy’ (Empty Slurs) to Block Competition

Posted in Africa, Asia, Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 4:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The purpose of announcing early like this is to freeze the market at the OEM and ISV level..

Nathan Myhrvold, Microsoft

Summary: It’s propaganda time for Microsoft as the world starts exploring better software that the user actually controls

THIS post accumulates news reports that show how Microsoft deceives the market and blocks competition in this way.

Return of the Vapourware

In order to contribute to further damnation of the market, Microsoft saturates the press with vapourware about Vista 8. Microsoft booster Gavin Clarke is doing exactly that while belittling Free software, as usual, using British humour and spin. Yes, he is spouting out a lot of spin and Pogson replies/rebuts. Microsoft Nick and others play along with this shameless routine too. They haven’t actually seen anything (it’s a closed process), but they sure write about it.

“Windows team manager Scott McGregor would later recall, Gates was always complaining, “Why isn’t this like the Mac?” and “Be more like the Mac,” long before the Mac even shipped. This was a mantra that would become numbingly familiar in the months ahead.”

Barbarians Led by Bill Gates, a book composed
by the daughter of Microsoft’s PR mogul

Microsoft already neglects to deliver security patches for Windows XP [1, 2], not just Windows 2000 which receives almost no patches despite the obligation that Microsoft has. “When XP is Discontinued” is the title of this new article from the Washington Post and according to this new report, Microsoft is suing a business that still sells Windows XP.

Microsoft Corp. is suing a Southern Nevada company it claims has been selling refurbished computer systems loaded with unauthorized copies of Windows XP Pro software.

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft filed suit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas against PacificGeek.com of Boulder City, its owner Kirk Frantz and PacificGeek officials Dylan Frantz (son of Kirk) and Mark Frantz (brother of Kirk).

This is part of a new push to suppress software that Microsoft does not want to be sold. Experience suggests that Microsoft does not mind if the ‘right’ version of Windows is sold illegally.


Several weeks ago we showed how the United Nations and the World Bank practically helped Bill Gates and Microsoft colonise Africa. We also showed how Ethiopia was affected and earlier this month we saw that Windows Vista (not Vista 7) is finally being made available in the Ethiopian market, about 3 years after its original release in English and other languages. This is how much of a priority Africa is to Microsoft. If there is not much money to be earned from a translation, then it probably won’t be done. Africa is left years behind the rest of the world simply because Africa is not allowed to control the software it uses; this would not happen with GNU/Linux, where discriminatory treatment can only exist if the local population is uninterested in development.

So why does Microsoft translate its software to more languages? As we saw in south America, Microsoft makes such translations available only when it must block Free software adoption (GNU/Linux). Microsoft has also just launched Office 2007 for Africa. We’re in 2010, right? What took Microsoft so long? Here is what seems like another plug/advert in Africa’s press.

In summary his message was simple: How Microsoft as a business has benefited from utilising the concept of interoperability and why member states should consider such a model.

Interoperability is the ability of diverse systems, organisations and products to work together without special effort on the part of the consumer.

Microsoft is not interested in interoperability; it just wants to use software patents, so it ignores open standards. The above is a single article which seems like part of a marketing blitz (see more new examples from Kenya and from Nigeria). Those articles are ignoring the existence of decent Free software whose latest versions have been available for quite some time. Africa deserves better than that, but Microsoft keeps blocking the competition, often using the propaganda that it calls "piracy". Here are some lies and spin saturated with euphemisms like “protect consumers” and “Clean Dealer Program”:

As part of efforts to curb the challenges of non availability and lack of access to genuine software and information on how to identify and get the best from their IT investments, Microsoft has introduced the Microsoft Clean Dealers Programme.

According to the company, the programme was designed to increase customers‘ access to genuine software solutions.

This article from Nigeria has an Orwellian headline. There is also this one:

THE Economic and Financial Crimes Commission, (EFCC) in partnership with Microsoft has identified music as a veritable tool to tackle the menace of cybercrime in Nigeria.


Microsoft has been using this whole “piracy” nonsense in order to suppress adoption of GNU/Linux in Russian schools [1, 2, 3]. Microsoft booster Marius Oiaga contributes to similar Microsoft spin about Russia, where Microsoft uses this insulting word in order to portray itself as a victim while it’s blocking competition. Associated Press has an article with propaganda and insulting language (this article can also be found in Microsoft’s ‘news’ site) and they are issuing a whole paper about it. Now is the time of the year for Microsoft to pretend that it’s a victim and Nick Farrell, for example, plays along rather than expose what Microsoft is really doing here.

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

Bill Gates

Middle East

This news report says that “software piracy [sic] rate dips in Jordan” and nevertheless, Microsoft whines about what actually brings Windows to more clients.

‘Jordan should do more to combat piracy’

Jordan should do more to combat piracy in order to make the Kingdom a regional hub for information and communications technology (ICT), according to Microsoft Jordan.


In November 2009, Microsoft Jordan renewed its strategic partnership agreement (SPA) with the government, which includes supporting various projects for the Ministry of Information and Communications Technology.

Yes, Microsoft Jordan is also part of this new campaign that portrays Microsoft as a poor victim that everyone ‘steals’ from. Over in Qatar, Microsoft just ensures that people remain stuck with Windows and there is this new deal with Qtel:

Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Qatar Telecom (NASDAQ: QTEL) have signed a strategic alliance to bring together integrated cloud-based services, software applications, mobile services and devices over QTEL’s converged network for work and entertainment purposes. MSFT and QTEL plan to launch their first products by mid-2010.

Over in the UAE [1, 2, 3], Microsoft is up to no good either and in Oman Microsoft is imposing the Live@edu scam (maybe some bribed officials):

Furthering its commitment to the development of a knowledge based society in Oman, Microsoft today announced that the Oman Ministry of Education has deployed its Live@edu online offering across schools in the Sultanate.

This is terrible. Students will be turned not only into Microsoft customers but also into people whose data is stored on Microsoft servers. Later on we will show how Microsoft abuses this data, in violation of the law.


The whole “piracy” propaganda has also come to Singapore:

Microsoft’s local office has formed a new collaboration with local IT mall, Sim Lim Square, to build upon the mall’s ongoing efforts to lower software piracy by promoting genuine software and offering incentives to adhering retailers.

Microsoft is being a sheer hypocrite for reasons that we explained in posts such as:

Here are some more of the imaginary numbers that supposedly refer to “damages”:

Pirates in Armenia cause 50 mln damage to Microsoft annually


Armenia, along with countries such as Georgia, Bangladesh and Zimbabwe joined the list of the largest consumers of pirated products.

Microsoft is just insulting nations where it prices its products out of reach and then allows people to obtain the software without licensing. The Copyright Cartel is doing the same thing. They want to enjoy sympathy while they abuse the market.


Microsoft’s scandals in Romania withstanding [1, 2], we now learn that the government keeps leaking money to Microsoft. The background posts put this in perspective. Microsoft is using Romanians as a diplomatic tool in Europe.

Romanian Ministry of Communications is to pay, until 2012, in nine equal instalments, the amount of 90.18 million euros (VAT included) for the right to use a total of 163,427 Microsoft licenses in about 30 public institutions.

Over in Norway, where Microsoft abuses are abundant [1, 2], only Microsoft is the named option in procurement:

The Vanylven municipality in Norway has issued a request for proposal for the purchase and delivery of Microsoft licenses. The contract has a period of performance of three years with an option to further extend by one year.

Why does this municipality only consider Microsoft licences? This is the type of discriminatory request that got a government sued (in Switzerland). See the following posts:

  1. Microsoft Sued Over Its Corruption in Switzerland, Microsoft Debt Revisited
  2. Can the United Kingdom and Hungary Still be Sued for Excluding Free Software?
  3. 3 New Counts of Antitrust Violation by Microsoft?
  4. Is Microsoft Breaking the Law in Switzerland Too?
  5. Microsoft Uses Lobbyists to Attack Holland’s Migration to Free Software and Sort of Bribes South African Teachers Who Use Windows
  6. ZDNet/eWeek Ruins Peter Judge’s Good Article by Attacking Red Hat When Microsoft Does the Crime
  7. Week of Microsoft Government Affairs: a Look Back, a Look Ahead
  8. Lawsuit Against Microsoft/Switzerland Succeeds So Far, More Countries/Companies Should Follow Suit
  9. Latest Reports on Microsoft Bulk Deals Being Blocked in Switzerland, New Zealand
  10. Swiss Government and Federal Computer Weekly: Why the Hostility Towards Free Software?
  11. Switzerland and the UK Under Fire for Perpetual Microsoft Engagements
  12. Lawsuit Over Alleged Microsoft Corruption in Switzerland Escalates to Federal Court

BETCA is also guilty of using vendor names (Microsoft) rather than adhere to open bidding based on capability and functionality.

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