Links 2/3/2010: Linux-2.6.33-libre is Released

Posted in News Roundup at 9:02 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Differences Between Linux And Windows

    This article will discuss the differences between the Linux and Windows operating software’s; we discuss some of the pro’s and con’s of each system.

    Let us first start out with a general overview of the Linux operating system. Linux at its most basic form is a computer kernel. The Kernel is the underlying computer code, used to communicate with hardware, and other system software, it also runs all of the basic functions of the computer.

  • The Linux Desktop of the Future

    One of the things I love about Linux is the ambitious and creative people behind it. Anyone with a text editor and a compiler is free to make up whatever strange software experiment they want, without needing to get approval from a huge corporation. With all of these amazing ideas flying around, it made me think, “what would the Linux desktop look like in ten or twenty years?” Although my predictions may be insane, I believe that the Linux desktop will have a mind of its own and in most cases, make it’s own choices based on the person using it.


    Joe User doesn’t want to mess with settings, search for programs to install, run cleanup tasks, or basically do anything. He wants to use his computer as needed and that’s all. If his computer monitored his style of use and customized itself for him and his PC, he would get an experience that would be like any other. He would forget he is even using a computer in the first place.

    Although I may be far off, this is how I view the Linux desktop of the future, and it’s also where I see Linux taking a running start and blasting to the top.

  • Desktop

    • Dell’s “Linux Tax” is outrageous

      I knew you had to pay a little extra to get Windows, but $100,000 to get Linux on your Mini 10n netbook? Good lord! What are the manuals written on? The skin of unicorns?

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux-2.6.33-libre released

      Cyberspace, March 1st, 2010—Linux hasn’t been Free Software since 1996, when Mr Torvalds accepted the first pieces of non-Free Software in the distributions of Linux he has published since 1991. Over these years, while this kernel grew by a factor of 14, the amount of non-Free firmware required by Linux drivers grew by an alarming factor of 83. We, Free Software users, need to join forces to reverse this trend, and part of the solution is Linux-libre, whose release 2.6.33-libre was recently published by FSFLA, bringing with it freedom, major improvements and plans for the future.

  • Applications

  • GNOME Desktop

    • The one where the designers ask for a pony

      One of the topics Garrett made sure to bring up at the GNOME London UX Hackfest was how us designers could continue to collaborate after the hackfest was over. This has been a recurring issue, as us designers meet every year or so, at GUADEC, at UX hackfests, or at GNOME Boston Summits (or even other FLOSS events like LinuxTag) and we get some great collaborate work done during the events – but it peters off after we get settled in back home after the events.

  • Distributions

    • The ultimate PC repair kit: SystemRescueCD 1.40

      Like everyone who makes his living from computers, I’m always getting called on by friends and family to help them fix their PC problems. Thanks to the Gentoo Linux-based SystemRescueCD, I’m usually able to fix most of their troubles without breaking a sweat.

      SystemRescueCD, like the name suggests, is a system rescue disk. You can use it as a bootable CD-ROM, USB stick, or even over a network connection. While you can use it as a desktop in own right, its real job is repairing crashed systems. In particular, with its disk and file system repair tools, it’s great for bring dead hard drives back to life.

    • Noteworthy Mandriva Cooker changes 15 February – 28 February 2010
    • Linux Free Operating Systems – Ubuntu, Debian, Mandriva Installations on an Old PC

      For a long time I have always heard of Linux the free operating system, and have enjoyed many of the free applications that have been ported over to the Windows platform. I finally had a opportunity to take some antique computers and install Linux onto them, and found out how simple and sometimes complicated it can be to get up and running with it.

      Linux really took hold when web hosting SQL servers and HTTP hosting applications saved companies thousands of dollars from paying the Microsoft and Oracle corporations connection fees that could easily going into the thousands of dollars. So instead running a linux server to serve up their databases made much more economic sense and that is why there has been a insurgence of the free operating system over the last years.

    • Gentoo Family

      • Sabayon 5.2 To Ship With 2.6.33 Kernel… and BFS!

        With Sabayon fever reaching boiling point I have some cool news to break to you all, which, as you have guessed from the title is that Sabayon 5.2 will ship with 2.6.33 Kernel with Con Kolivas 1 (ck1) 2.6.33 desktop performance patches (including BFS).

      • Gentoo on a Dell Inspiron Mini 10

        For the rest, so far, it seems that the howto on the Gentoo wiki is good. I installed e17 very painlessly, and will tackle wireless next.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Why Red Hat Surfaced at SAP Partner Summit

        When the SAP Partner Summit started yesterday, Red Hat had a prime sponsorship position at the welcome reception. Read between the lines, and a quiet battle is brewing between Red Hat and Novell; the two leaning Linux service distribution providers are battling for the love and affection of SAP. Here’s why.

      • Fedora

        • Vine Linux 5.1 review

          Vine Linux Vine Linux is a Japanese, RPM-based, multi-purpose distribution. It is developed and maintained by Vinecaves, and it’s based on an earlier version of Fedora. It is one of those distributions that excludes non-free (proprietary) applications from its default installation. Unlike similar distributions, however, it has developed a smart method to make installing non-free applications very easy. This is a review of version 5.1, which was released last week. This also marks the first listing of Vine Linux on this site.

    • Ubuntu

      • Matt Asay’s Top Priorities and Goals

        At the beginning of February Matt Asay moved from Alfresco to Canonical, and Matt’s blog activity already reflects his career change and I asked Matt about his top priorities in the new role.

        It has now been three weeks since I started with Canonical, and each day it becomes clearer to me just how massive is the opportunity before Canonical and the Ubuntu community, as well as the great care that must be taken to ensure that we realize this potential.

        It’s also becoming clear what I, in particular, can do to help, coming after the successful tenure of Jane Silber, who was Canonical’s COO and is now our CEO:

        1. Enterprise. When most people think of Canonical and Ubuntu, they think “desktop.” This isn’t surprising, given Ubuntu’s popularity on traditional desktops and industry-changing netbooks alike. I have been amazed by how deep and wide Ubuntu’s penetration is in this market. It’s much bigger than I’ve ever seen reported.

      • Hands-on: Ubuntu goes social, gains Me Menu in 10.04 alpha 3

        Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu Linux distribution, is planning to overhaul the desktop panel and integrate social networking features in Ubuntu 10.04, codenamed Lucid Lynx. One of the key components of this effort is the Me Menu, which shipped in the Lucid alpha 3 last week.

        The Me Menu, which Canonical unveiled in December, provides a unified interface for managing your presence on instant messaging and social networking services. A text box that is embedded in the menu allows users to publish status messages to all of their accounts. The menu also provides easy access to the standard account and identity configuration tools.


        Ubuntu 10.04 is a Long-Term Support (LTS) release, which means that Canonical intends to provide updates on the desktop for three years instead of the usual 18 months. During the development cycle for an LTS release, the Ubuntu developers focus on stabilization rather than introducing a lot of new features. Feature freeze is now in full effect, which means that the developers are going to be working primarily on bugfixes between now and the final release in April. The first beta release will come next month.

      • Interview With Melissa

        PS: How did you get involved with Ubuntu and free software in general?

        MD: Whilst doing a web development diploma, a teacher, a BSD fanatic and probably the most influential teacher I ever had, was in the habit of interpreting syllabi modules such as “install an operating system” fairly openly. He taught his students how to install Linux and BSD as well as Windows (amusing aside: he also taught my mother to do the same!) and so began my obsession with Linux. I played around with live distributions for a while then installed Ubuntu on an old computer. I soon found I did not need XP any more.

      • Launchpad Moving to Closed Source Auth

        Soon there will be a new release of launchpad and along with some new feature and bug fixes will be the move to only using an OpenID provider for the authentication. (This incidentally is why ground control 1.5 is broken currently)

  • Devices/Embedded

    • New Freescale Chip Could Herald Cheaper Kindle

      The i.MX508 applications processor, as Freescale has christened it, integrates an ARM Cortex-A8 processor core and E Ink’s hardware-based display controller into a system-on-a-chip that the company claims delivers twice the performance of its previous eReader chips (it runs at 800 megahertz). It also happens to be more energy-efficient and significantly cheaper.

    • Phones

      • Open Source Re-writes the Rules for Mobile

        This was simply not possible with older, proprietary mobile operating systems, because you couldn’t hack them to work on different hardware. With Android, that all changes, opening up a whole new world of mobile re-use. As the same post rightly points out:

        This story shows me once again how important Android is to the mobile OS space. The idea of taking older phones and using a free, powerful OS to breath new life into them is the promise of open source software like Android.

        Indeed, and another instance of where free software really does give you new and useful freedoms.

      • How smartphones will disrupt PCs

        In a future post, I’ll explain why the same economic forces driving the convergence pretty much guarantee that the software on them will be open source.

      • Android

        • They’re here: Cheap Android smartphones

          New low-cost smartphones running Google’s Android software have been launched in Taiwan recently and the good news is they should start showing up just about everywhere soon.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Entourage Edge shapes up and is shipping out

        Built to handle internet, ebooks, games, music, videos and notes, the Edge could appeal to the general consumer, student, or business user; Entourage sees the Edge as being functional for all walks of life. The bad news however, is that compared to say, the Haleron Android tablet, it isn’t cheap at $499.00 to start.

    • Tablets

      • Need a tablet? Android based iLet Mini HAL shipping March 1 for $199

        With all of the tablet-fever recently, you may have sat back and thought to yourself, “do I need one of these things?” Even with Apple trying to convince us that the next form of computing is going to be tablet and gesture based, many people including myself are still questioning if a tablet is something we really need.

        It looks like the company Haleron thinks we need a tablet in our lives and decided to enter the game with their 7″ Android 1.6 based iLet Mini HAL. It isn’t the most powerful device; running a 600MHz VIA CPU with 128MB of RAM but for a low $199 price tag you can’t really ask for too much. The Haleron iLet Mini HAL will also have 2GB of onboard memory as well as 10GB of “cloud” storage for all of your stuff and will start shipping next week.

      • MeeGo: The Linux iPad?

        It’s may be a twee name but MeeGo could be the next big thing.

        It sounds like something a child would say, or the name of a baby’s toy, but MeeGo has much bigger aspirations in mind. For those that weren’t completely sucked into the Mobile World Congress last week, and consequently missed the announcement, MeeGo is the name of a new – yes another – mobile phone operating system launched at the conference. In truth it’s not really so much new as being a new collaboration. In this case between Intel and Nokia and their respective Moblin and Maemo operating systems.

Free Software/Open Source

  • 1 March 2010: Kolab Systems AG re-launches Free Software Groupware business

    CeBIT 2010 in Hanover sees the re-launch of the Kolab Free Software business into the Kolab Systems AG.

    Professional service, certified packaging, quality assurance, and a strong partnership model characterise the new business built on a proven solution with 5 years of productive use. Customers and partners have the opportunity to meet Georg Greve, CEO of Kolab Systems AG, and Dr. Paul Adams, COO of Kolab Systems AG during CeBIT 2010 to discuss business opportunities.

  • identi.ca creator launches enterprise micro-blogging support

    StatusNet has launched StatusNet Enterprise Network (SEN), an enterprise support subscription programme for companies who want to run their own Twitter-style micro-blogging system using the open source StatusNet platform. StatusNet, previously known as Laconica, created the identi.ca service as an open alternative to Twitter’s closed source service. It now plans to offer its support for enterprises with packages which run from one day response support (during business hours) for $1,000 per annum, to one hour response at any time for $10,000 per annum. Initial customers for StatusNet’s services include Canonical and Motorola.

  • Free your documents, save your information!

    Will you be able to read your documents 20 years from now? Every day, millions of computer users like you edit text and spreadsheets, take pictures and record audio and video. What if you couldn’t read your private letters anymore, or even open that album with pictures from your honeymoon? What if you couldn’t exchange those files with friends, because the software used by each one of you can’t talk to each other? To help you make your documents future-proof, we celebrate Document Freedom Day on March 31.

  • March Project of the Month – Arianne

    March’s Project of the Month, Arianne, has the distinction of being one of SourceForge’s longest-running projects. It was established in 1999 as an umbrella project that spawned several subprojects. Today, the most notable are:

    * Marauroa – an open source framework and engine to develop turn-based and real time games

    * Stendhal – a fully fledged and completely free multiplayer online adventures game (MMORPG)

    * Marboard – an early prototype of an easy to use vector graphics program allowing live collaboration over the Internet.

  • Swimming Upstream: ‘Salmon,’ Google’s Open Source Social Web Aggregator

    Google engineers and the open source community have begun laying the groundwork to support an open social Web. The group has been working on a protocol that would aggregate conversations at the source, bring them back to any Web site related to the stream, and avoid spam and duplicate posts as well.

    The Salmon protocol aims to connect social networks that today cannot share posts and information. The goal to syndicate and aggregate conversations related to the original post that live in silos across the Internet would create what Google calls a social graph.

  • Florida State U. Pulls Out of Kuali Open-Source Software Project

    That news drew reassurances of sustainability from officials with Kuali; with Sakai, a course-management system; and with Zotero, a program for managing research sources.

  • Mozilla

    • Elements of Firefox overhaul arrive for testing

      Mozilla, faced with new competitive pressures, has begun work on three separate, significant changes to Firefox.

      First is a new JavaScript engine that–with a transfusion from the project behind Apple’s Safari–should run Web-based programs at least 30 percent faster. Second is a new graphics engine for Windows that will take advantage of hardware acceleration for graphics and text. And third is a programming tool to help bring to fruition a new system for Firefox add-ons.

      Mozilla made notable gains against the dominant Internet Explorer since Firefox’s launch five years ago, but for much of that time, Microsoft’s browser barely budged. Now Google’s Chrome has burst onto the scene, Apple is marketing Safari for Windows as well as Mac OS X, Opera development is moving fast, and, potentially most significantly, Microsoft is showing signs of serious interest in rejuvenating IE.

    • Firefox afterburner for JavaScript

      JaegerMonkey (also called JägerMonkey in those parts of the community that do umlauts) is to combine the two concepts. Before a function is interpreted, the compiler converts it into generic assembler code. If it detects any loops it hands over to TraceMonkey, otherwise it directly executes the code and bypasses the slow interpreter. First test runs indicate a performance increase of 30 (32-bit code) to 45% (64-bit code) in the SunSpider JavaScript benchmark.

  • Databases

    • PostgreSQL Optimizer Bits: Semi and Anti Joins

      The series “PostgreSQL Optimiser Bits” will introduce the strategies and highlights of the PostgreSQL optimiser. We start today with a new feature of PostgreSQL 8.4: Semi and Anti Joins.

      Since version 8.4, PostgreSQL has been offering a new optimisation strategy for the optimisation of certain queries: Semi and Anti Joins.

  • Funding

    • Can open source reduce costs?

      In 2005 BECTA published “A study of the spectrum of use and related ICT infrastructure costs” which concluded that training and support costs accounted for 60% of total cost for any software solution. The report also found that open source software reduced these costs by 40-50%.

      Further to reducing training and support costs, open source can reduce the cost of customisation for specific environments.

  • Licensing

    • Which Licence for Open Source Digital Voting?

      Here’s a provocative thought:

      We’ve dared to suggest that the GPL as it stands today, or for that manner any other common open source license, will probably not work to adequately provide a license to the software sources for elections and voting systems technology under development by the Open Source Digital Voting Foundation.

      It’s an important issue, since applying open source software to digital voting is something that you really want to get right – for the sake of open source and democracy.

    • Open is the New Closed: How the Mobile Industry uses Open Source to Further Commercial Agendas, Andreas Constantinou

      Open source licensed software carries four basic freedoms that provide the right to access, modify, distribute and contribute to the software. These freedoms have been expanded into ten cardinal points that form the criteria that every open source license must adhere to, and which are defined by the Open Source Initiative.

      A handful of different licenses are used in the vast majority of open source projects; namely the GPL, LGPL, APL, EPL, MPL, BSD and MIT. Interestingly, the GPL which is known as a strong copyleft license, is most often used in personal computer and Internet projects, but is rarely used in the mobile industry. Instead, the licenses used most often in mobile software are weak copyleft, such as the EPL, or permissive licenses, such as the APL, due to handset manufacturer concerns for downstream liabilities.

      Licenses are Half the Story

      What’s often missed in open source discussions is how open source licenses tell only half the story. The governance model, the implicit rules defining transparency and influence into an open source project, is the small print that determines the power dynamics around that project.

    • When Nerd Lawyers Clash: WordPress and the GPL

      I recently ran across a couple of interesting posts from Mike Wasylik over at Perpetual Beta arguing that the GPL should not apply to themes.

      The first (and better, IMHO) is “Why the GPL does not apply to premium WordPress themes“. (The second, and lesser is “Why the GPL/Derivitive Works debate doesn’t matter for WordPress Themes“)

      Here’s a shocker: I actually like Mr. Wasylik’s criticism, not because I fully agree with it – I don’t – but because the author lays out a reasoned case. I do not exaggerate when I say this is the first rational criticism of anything related to the GPL I can recall seeing.

      Compared to the normal “GPL==communism” trash that passes as discussion in many circles, Mr. Wasylik’s writings are damn near scripture.

  • Openness

    • Campaign welcomes decision to drop proposed cabinet papers exemption

      The government’s announcement that it has dropped its proposal to exempt cabinet papers from the Freedom of Information Act, and that it will reduce the 30 year rule to 20 years, was welcomed by the Campaign for Freedom of Information today.

    • The open society

      America is in the lead on data access. On his first full day in office Barack Obama issued a presidential memorandum ordering the heads of federal agencies to make available as much information as possible, urging them to act “with a clear presumption: in the face of doubt, openness prevails”. This was all the more remarkable since the Bush administration had explicitly instructed agencies to do the opposite.

    • Open Access linked to Alabama shooting

      On 15th February, for instance, The Daily Kos pointed out that the International Journal of General Medicine charges authors to publish their papers. This fact alone, The Daily Kos seemed to imply, meant that the paper would have been inadequate. But there was more.

    • Free Our Data response to the DCLG consultation on OS Free

      The Free Our Data campaign was co-founded in March 2006 by Charles Arthur and Michael Cross with the aim of persuading government that non-personal datasets created by government-owned agencies and companies and organisations should be made available for free reuse without licence restrictions.

    • Democracy Club is up and running

      Democracy Club is up and running. Last week meetings were held up and down the country organised by volunteers involved with the new initiative to bring transparency to government. The project is an out-growth of TheyWorkForYou and other associated websites of MySociety founded by the ever inventive Tom Steinberg.

      Thanks to the formidable resources it began with, with the emails of all those who’ve signed up to those sites on its database, Democracy Club already has over 3000 volunteers spread across 641of 650 of the UK’s constituencies.

    • European research funders throw weight behind UK open access repository

      Four European research funders have today added their support to the open access repository UK PubMed Central (UKPMC) by agreeing that the life sciences research outputs made possible with their funding are made freely available through this repository.


  • Forgot your ThinkPad password? Get new hardware

    Users of Lenovo ThinkPad laptops may be in for a nasty surprise if they forget their main (supervisor) hard drive password.

    The Chinese hardware manufacturer refuses to reset hard drive (BIOS) security passwords for laptops even if they are covered by warranty. Lenovo, which bought IBM’s ThinkPad laptop business in 2005, cites security concerns for this established but little-publicised policy.

  • Health

    • Uzbekistan: The psychologist is sentenced to 7 years of jail for HIV/AIDS prevention

      Ozodlik (Uzbek Service of RFE/RL) reports that Maxim Popov, 28-year old psychologist and the author of “HIV and AIDS today” book, was sentenced to 7 years of jail in Uzbekistan.

      He was arrested in January, 2009 while the guilty verdict was announced in September, 2009. However, only today the general public was able to learn about his imprisonment.

    • The Curious Case of Wang Yahui

      Readers of ESWN may already be familiar with the name Wang Yahui, perhaps the first man ever to have been killed by a glass of water.

    • Chile’s farmed salmon disaster

      Who could have predicted that the mass forced farming of an exotic fish to please the Wal-Mart low-price palate would result in a horrific virus-borne plague of anemia?

    • NHS denies pre-election stitch-up

      The Department of Health has denied accusations from the Tory party that it is busy rewriting contracts with IT suppliers in a massive stitch-up ahead of the election.

      The Tories told the BBC that the NHS’s Connecting for Health was busy trying to get contracts signed within the next four weeks in order to force any incoming government to honour them. The £12.7bn scheme is several years behind schedule and has already been threatened with serious cuts by Chancellor Alistair Darling.

  • Security

    • Newborns’ blood used to build secret DNA database

      Texas health officials secretly transferred hundreds of newborn babies’ blood samples to the federal government to build a DNA database, a newspaper investigation has revealed.

      According to The Texas Tribune, the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) routinely collected blood samples from newborns to screen for a variety of health conditions, before throwing the samples out.

    • Giving innocent people back their DNA helps rapists, says Gordon Brown

      I recently blogged how a shameless Labour party is making Tory plans to remove innocent people’s DNA from police databases, in compliance with the European Court’s ruling, one of their central lines of attack.

    • UK Police Promise Not To Retain DNA Data, But Do Anyway
    • The Last Four Minutes of Air France Flight 447

      The crash of Air France flight 447 from Rio to Paris last year is one of the most mysterious accidents in the history of aviation. After months of investigation, a clear picture has emerged of what went wrong. The reconstruction of the horrific final four minutes reveal continuing safety problems in civil aviation.


      It’s not known whether he actually reached this altitude. Three hours after leaving Rio, Captain Dubois contacted Brazilian air traffic control for the last time. “Flight level 350,” he reported. It was to be his last communication with the outside world.

    • Some random terrorism-related numbers

      24 terrorism-related charges is a mere 0.01% of searches. Or 1 terrorism-related charge per 8,351 searches.

      But wait – just because you’re charged, doesn’t mean you’ll be prosecuted. The police lay charges, but the Crown Prosecution Service decide whether to prosecute them. Only 12 of those 24 people charged were actually tried, which is 0.006 of the original searches, or 1 prosecution per 16,703 S.44 searches.

    • Office of the Identity Commissioner – Annual Report 2009

      The Identity Commissioner should publish a PGP Public Encryption Key, to help establish a secure channel for whistleblower leaks and complaints, which the Home Office should not be tempted to try to snoop on. This would also demonstrate to the public that the Identity Commissioner understands some basic data security, privacy and personal anonymity issues, which are relevant to the National Identity Scheme.

    • RSA Conference to Spotlight Threats, Security Strategies

      From data protection to cloud computing to application development, this year’s RSA Conference is keeping an eye toward practical strategies for dealing with today’s cyber-threats.

    • Hackers expose security flaws with ‘Elvis Presley’ passport

      In the name of improved security a hacker showed how a biometric passport issued in the name of long-dead rock ‘n’ roll king Elvis Presley could be cleared through an automated passport scanning system being tested at an international airport.

    • Cyberwar hype was cooked up to sell Internet-breaking garbage to the military

      Have you been hearing a lot of gloom-and-doom talk about the need for American “cyberwar” preparedness lately? The coming cyberwar threat? Cybergeddon?

      Me too.

      Wired’s Ryan Singel makes a good case in this article that cyberwar hype — like terrorism hype — has been fuelled by government contractors who have a product to sell, and who don’t give a damn about the consequences to the net or to freedom. In this case, it’s Michael McConnell, the Bush adminstration’s director of national intelligence, now working as vice president at the “secretive defense contracting giant” Booz Allen Hamilton. He’s been going before Congress and in the op-ed pages of the WaPo to declare that cyberwar is coming, and that we need to break the Internet so that every online action can be traced to a person and a place by the NSA.

  • Environment

    • Climate Change Deniers Being Led by…Climate Change Believer?

      I think this is more compelling evidence for the proposition that many of the people who are most invested in discrediting climate science are intellectually dishonest, doing it for political or economic gain, rather than out of sincere conviction. We’ve seen similar admissions made by energy company execs who are funding climate denial at the same time they accept the science.

    • Arundhati Roy on Enclosure

      Via Iain Boal – whose forthcoming book, The Long Theft: Episodes in the History of Enclosure, is going to rock the world – comes this lengthy and studied analysis from Arundhati Roy on the process of enclosure in India, and the criminalisation and extermination of people whose only crime is to live above certain minerals.

    • The Attack on Climate-Change Science Why It’s the O.J. Moment of the Twenty-First Century

      Twenty-one years ago, in 1989, I wrote what many have called the first book for a general audience on global warming. One of the more interesting reviews came from the Wall Street Journal. It was a mixed and judicious appraisal. “The subject,” the reviewer said, “is important, the notion is arresting, and Mr. McKibben argues convincingly.” And that was not an outlier: around the same time, the first president Bush announced that he planned to “fight the greenhouse effect with the White House effect.”

      I doubt that’s what the Journal will say about my next book when it comes out in a few weeks, and I know that no GOP presidential contender would now dream of acknowledging that human beings are warming the planet. Sarah Palin is currently calling climate science “snake oil” and last week, the Utah legislature, in a move straight out of the King Canute playbook, passed a resolution condemning “a well organized and ongoing effort to manipulate global temperature data in order to produce a global warming outcome” on a nearly party-line vote.

    • Europe Plans a North Sea Grid

      Undersea cables will transport wind, hydro, and solar power

    • Whaling worsens carbon release, scientists warn

      A century of whaling may have released more than 100 million tonnes – or a large forest’s worth – of carbon into the atmosphere, scientists say.

      Whales store carbon within their huge bodies and when they are killed, much of this carbon can be released.

  • Finance

    • Bringing subprime sexy back

      Near the end of “The Big Short,” Michael Lewis’ much-anticipated stab at explaining what just happened to the global economy, the author unloads a dump truck worth of jargon while describing a dilemma facing one of his protagonists.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Chinese scientists worry about Google pullout

      Google’s threat to pull out of China may have been met with a shrug in some circles, but there’s a population of Chineses citizens who appear to be genuinely worried about the prospect: scientists. Nature conducted an informal survey of Chinese researchers, and got nearly 800 responses. Well over 90 percent of those who responded say they use Google for searches, and 48 percent felt that the loss of Google would create a significant problem for their research.

    • The End of Anonymity

      But of course, the “opt-in” part is just a fig-leaf. It could be done just as easily even if they don’t opt in, provided you have access to their photos, from a passport application, say, and a belief that you have a right – nay, duty – to keep watch over them, purely for their own protection, you understand.

    • Control Orders

      Control Orders remain a cruel act of degradation of people who have never been convicted of anything, utterly incompatible with human rights. Parliament will today vote to renew them again – expect the parties to compete in their gravitas as they underline the threat to our very existence and way of life (sic) from terrorism.

    • German High Court Limits Phone and E-Mail Data Storage

      Germany’s highest court has rejected a controversial law requiring data on telephone calls and e-mail traffic to be stored for six months for possible use by law enforcement. Data stored so far must be deleted immediately, and strict controls must be put in place before the law can come into force again.

    • Is it time to defend our rights?

      Thanks to a robust policy on the part of his current internet service provider, his site has remained online despite the best efforts of those who are embarrassed by its contents.

      Until last month, that is, when cryptome.org disappeared from the internet after Network Solutions disabled access to the site’s domain.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Universities protest against government wi-fi plans

      Libraries and universities are protesting about plans to make them police users of wireless networks.

      The government’s Digital Economy Bill includes plans to make them responsible for what is done over free wi-fi.

      The plans imply that libraries, universities and cafes offering free wireless will be responsible if people use it to pirate movies and music.

    • How do I hate thee, Digital Economy Bill? Let me count the ways…

      Last week’s official advice (Word doc) on the bill ‘would effectively “outlaw open Wi-Fi for small businesses”‘ said Lilian Edwards, professor of internet law at Sheffield University.

      “This is going to be a very unfortunate measure for small businesses, particularly in a recession, many of whom are using open free Wi-Fi very effectively as a way to get the punters in,” Edwards said.

    • The Death of Open Wifi in the UK

      This bill simply has “Fail” written all the way through it; the only good news is that once they realise the implications, the entire tourist and hospitality industries will be fighting against it…

    • The Digital Economy Bill’s Series of Unfortunate Events ….

      The Digital Economy Bill is meant to position the UK more strongly in the digital era. Unfortunately, it might better be called the Analogue Economy (Preservation) Bill.

      As the Open Rights Group have already made clear, the Government has admitted that cafes, hotels, conference centres, pubs, local councils and other open wi-fi providers will face disconnection. Of course, they can appeal, but the whole impetus of the Bill seems to be aimed at preventing the UK from taking advantage of the digital age.

    • UK Gov nationalises orphans and bans non-consensual photography in public

      The Digital Economy Bill : what’s yours is ours

      The end game is now in sight. The Digital Economy Bill is now expected to become law within the next 6 weeks. It introduces orphan works usage rights, which – unless amended, which HMG says it will not – will allow the commercial use of any photograph whose author cannot be identified through a suitably negligent search. That is potentially about 90% of the photos on the internet.

    • Censorship and the DIA filter

      Officials at DIA have assured me that they do not want to extend the filter, even to cover the other parts of s3(2), or I would not have agreed to be a part of the process at all. As the ZDNet article says, they have watched the train wreck that is the Great Wall of Conroy (my words, not theirs) and are determined to not make those sorts of errors.

    • Spanish Presidency leading Europe towards Digital Inquisition?

      A disturbing document on Internet policy written by the Spanish Presidency of the EU Council has been published. While asking Member States to detail their guidelines for the repression of illegal activities on the Internet, the Presidency amalgamates child pornography, xenophobic and racist speech and copyright infringement.

      Elaborating on this unacceptable confusion, the document goes as far as saying that “the Internet becomes an instrument of social regression”. Such a ruthless instrumentalisation of fear in order to impose regressive policies – like the filtering of content on the Internet – is not tolerable in the European Union.

  • Intellectual Monopolies/Copyrights

    • Bogus Copyright Claim Silences Yet Another Larry Lessig YouTube Presentation

      Nearly a year ago, we wrote about how a YouTube presentation done by well known law professor (and strong believer in fair use and fixing copyright law), Larry Lessig, had been taken down, because his video, in explaining copyright and fair use and other such things, used a snippet of a Warner Music song to demonstrate a point. There could be no clearer example of fair use — but the video was still taken down. There was some dispute at the time as to whether or not this was an actual DMCA takedown, or merely YouTube’s audio/video fingerprinting technology (which the entertainment industry insists can understand fair use and not block it). But, in the end, does it really make a difference? A takedown over copyright is a takedown over copyright.

    • Network Solutions Confused About The DMCA

      Last week we wrote about how Microsoft abused the DMCA to force Cryptome offline via Network Solutions. Since then, there’s been some interesting scrambling by all parties involved. Mircorosft claimed that it never meant to take Cryptome down entirely, just the one document (though, it no longer is asking for it to be taken down). But that doesn’t make much sense, because Network Solutions only had the ability to take down the whole site, not pieces of content. Either way, what really confused us was Network Solutions response to the DMCA takedown, which was that it waited until Cryptome filed a counternotice to take down the site. That’s not how the DMCA works.

    • Private copying levies take their toll on Italian families denounces Altroconsumo (15 January 2010)

      In the course of a year, an average family will spend up to €100 more thanks to a new government Decree fixing copyrighti levies. Unbeknown to them, consumers buying electronic goods such as blank CDs, USB keys, memory sticks or multimedia mobile phones will be forced to pay a levy for the right to make private copies.

    • Filesharing becomes the latest French hobby

      Cerise Club, a French Internet company, said that illegal file sharing is a “national sport” and this is despite the fact that French copyright legislation is among the most repressive in the world.

    • Anti-Piracy Lawyers “An Embarrassment To Creative Rights Industry”

      After mountains of controversy built up in the wake of the ‘pay up or else’ letters sent to thousands of alleged file-sharers, one would think other lawyers might be put off following the same track, but not so. Tilly Bailey & Irvine are the new kids on the block and have just been labeled by a Lord as an “embarrassment to the rest of the creative rights industry.”

    • Filtering, Piracy Surveillance, and Disobedience

      There has always been a cyclical relationship between the prevention of piracy and the protection of civil liberties. While civil liberties advocates previously warned about the aggressive nature of copyright protection initiatives, more recently, a number of major players in the music industry have eventually ceded to less direct forms of control over consumer behavior. As more aggressive forms of consumer control, like litigation, have receded, we have also seen a rise in more passive forms of consumer surveillance. Moreover, even as technology has developed more perfect means for filtering and surveillance over online piracy, a number of major players have opted in favor of “tolerated use,” a term coined by Professor Tim Wu to denote the allowance of uses that may be otherwise infringing, but that are allowed to exist for public use and enjoyment. Thus, while the eventual specter of copyright enforcement and monitoring remains a pervasive digital reality, the market may fuel a broad degree of consumer freedom through the toleration or taxation of certain kinds of activities.

    • Special interests have captured the copyright debate

      Progressive politics stands for justice and understanding, and facing up to corporate special interests to defend the public good. Yet somehow those corporate special interests have captured the debate on copyright enforcement and the future of the internet.

      A huge lobby – Labour’s Tom Watson MP reports at least 100 full time employees – is being employed to campaign for disconnection of internet accounts when copyright infringement may have taken place.

    • New music acts to labels: ‘We won’t tweet’

      The music industry is in a major state of crisis and some up and coming acts are reluctant to dirty their hands with social networking.

      Some new artists signing at both major and indie labels are telling execs there that they’ll make music, but don’t expect them to do Facebook or Twitter. The labels are saying back that the days when performers–even mega-superstar performers–can keep fans at arms length are over.

    • Church sues Hollywood for using Rio’s Christ statue in movie

      Brazil’s Catholic Church is suing Hollywood for using unauthorized images of Rio’s famous giant Christ statue in its disaster movie blockbuster “2012,” a lawyer involved in the case told AFP Wednesday.

      Rio de Janeiro’s archdiocese is demanding unspecified damages and interest from Columbia Pictures for showing the iconic landmark being destroyed in a worldwide apocalypse in a film that came out last year, the archdiocese’s attorney, Claudine Dutra, said.

    • ACTA

      • Act on ACTA: Write to Your MEPs

        One knock-on effect of that obsessive secrecy is that even ordinary parliamentarians are forbidden from seeing the drafts, which makes the negotiations not only a travesty of democracy, but also a more direct slap in the face of those politicians. Happily, the latter are beginning to wake up to the fact that they are being sidelined here, and starting to become more forceful in their demands for access to ACTA.

      • Important Leaked Document on ACTA

        So, whatever its undoubted faults in other respects, the UK government seems to be trying to do the right thing as far as transparency is concerned, and it deserves kudos for that. Interesting, too, to see that the main hold-out seems to be Hungary, which surprised me given its positive attitude to open source.

        Good to see that more and more countries are backing transparency – and that more and leaks are providing it by other routes.

      • Antipiracy provision in treaty riles EU

        The European Commission has pledged to make sure a global treaty known as the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement will not force countries to disconnect people for unlawfully downloading copyrighted music, movies, and other material.

      • Biggest-ever ACTA leak: secret copyright treaty dirty laundry motherlode
      • Major ACTA Leak: Internet and Civil Enforcement Chapters With Country Positions

        On the heels of the leak of various country positions on ACTA transparency, today an even bigger leak has hit the Internet. A new European Union document prepared several weeks ago canvasses the Internet and Civil Enforcement chapters, disclosing in complete detail the proposals from the U.S., the counter-proposals from the EU, Japan, and other ACTA participants. The 44-page document also highlights specific concerns of individual countries on a wide range of issues including ISP liability, anti-circumvention rules, and the scope of the treaty. This is probably the most significant leak to-date since it goes even beyond the transparency debate by including specific country positions and proposals.

      • More ACTA Leaks; Reveal Different Positions Taken By Different Countries

        Michael Geist has a list of some other interesting tidbits, and Jamie Love has worries about how the damages section 2.2 is much stricter than existing laws, and seems to conflict with existing US laws (but ACTA can’t change US law, right? Right?). Love also notes the oddity of the EU crossing out language (inserted by the US, mind you) that would protect “fair use, fair, dealing, or their equivalents.”

      • ACTA: haunted by the Telecoms Package

        The latst ACTA leak reveals provisions which are reminiscent of the Telecoms Package copyright amendments. But it also reveals that it presses much harder on the liability of the ISPs. Could ACTA make them use deep packet inspection?

        The latest document to leak from the Anti-counterfeiting trade agreement ( ACTA ) discussions reveals active negotation over ISP liability.

      • KEI notes on the EU leak of the ACTA text

        On 12 February 2010, the Council of the European Union distributed a table drawn up by the Commission Services, outlining the positions of various counties regarding civil enforcement and the special requirements relating to the Internet. A copy of this 44 page document was leaked on March 1, 2010, and is attached to this blog.

      • Danish activists demand to know why their governments block ACTA transparency

        Last week, a leaked Dutch memo on the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), a secret copyright treaty, identified the countries whose negotiators were opposed to bringing transparency to the negotiation process. The worst offenders were the US, South Korea, Singapore and Denmark.

        Now, activists in these countries are banging the drum, demanding to know why their governments are standing in the way of public participation in a treaty-making process that will have wide-ranging implications for all Internet users, and it’s working.

      • InternetNZ to take public message to ACTA negotiators

Answers to Linux Survey using Fancy Dell Studio Effects!

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

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

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

Novell May be Going Private, Hedge Fund Has Cash

Posted in Finance, Microsoft, Novell, SCO at 7:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Elliott Associates logo

Summary: Novell is having a ‘SCO moment’ as takeover seems likely, courtesy of a funding pool whose money could come from anywhere

BIG news came in via reader “dyfet”. Just over a year ago, Canonical’s current COO (who worked for Novell) said that Novell should go private. According to this new report, it might happen shortly.

Elliott offers to take Novell private for $2 bln


This offer price represents a 21 percent premium to Novell’s Tuesday close on Nasdaq.

There will surely be a lot of coverage like this later on. Where do these funds come from? That firm seems somewhat dodgy, just just like those firms that proposed saving SCO (financial rescue of a trial against Linux).

The vulture wars

A New York hedge fund is in a court battle with the Republic of Congo over who is robbing the oil-rich but dirtpoor African nation.


Although he didn’t mention any names, the President was clearly referring to Kensington International, a Cayman Islands company that owns more than $100 million of Congo’s sovereign debt and is controlled by Elliott Associates, a $6.5 billion New York City hedge fund.

Cayman Islands? Congo? Control by proxy? What is this firm? According to this press release, it describes itself as follows:

Elliott Associates, L.P. and its sister fund, Elliott International, L.P. have more than $5.2 billion of capital under management as of July 1, 2005. Founded in 1977, Elliott Associates is one of the oldest hedge funds under continuous management. The Elliott funds’ investors include large institutions, high-net-worth individuals and families, and employees of the firm.

So in principle, a company like Microsoft too can lend some money for Elliott Associates to use that money. That’s just a theory. We’ll soon post today’s IRC logs which contain more information.

Microsoft Wants to Capture Education, Healthcare, and Citizen IDs; Uses Goldman Sachs Event as Platform to Promote This

Posted in Africa, America, Asia, Database, Microsoft at 10:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Henry Paulson - official Treasury photo (2006)

Summary: Microsoft wants to control more aspects of people’s lives and those who enable this are identified and named


Microsoft is still exploiting the education systems for more control over the curriculum and the tools, just as it recently did with the IEEE (more on that here). Microsoft proceeds to Imperial College (London) and Washington University, based on the ‘Microsoft press’ which masquerades as academic media (1105 Media). They are advertising the Live@edu scam.

Health Vulture

Microsoft’s HealthVault uses Silverlight, so it punishes those who are not Microsoft customers, but there are worse things. For more control over people’s medical records [1, 2] Microsoft is now misusing the word "choice" and coercing HHS while unleashing press releases and attending/organising events. No medical system anywhere should allow a corporation to have private control of vital tools and patients’ data. Microsoft claims “choice and flexibility” in its press release, as long as you choose Microsoft (i.e. no choice and no flexibility). It even (mis)uses the word “open” in the title. Microsoft Nick and others have covered this [1, 2, 3], but they did not list the drawbacks or outline the deception. It’s more like ghost-writing or editing (of press releases), it’s not journalism.

India (Microsoft’s Future)

Over in India, Microsoft is to manage people's identities (it’s a scary thought) and Microsoft is still moving jobs over there. More recently it was the legal team and here is another new article about it:

Microsoft Outsources Legal Work to India Amid Budget Cuts

In a surprising move, Microsoft Inc. has inked a contract with a legal outsourcing provider to outsource to India. The provider CPA Global will employ lawyers in India to get the legal work done.

Law.com chose the headline “Tech Lawyers Say ‘Uh Oh’ as Microsoft Outsources Legal Work to India” and “India is critical to Microsoft’s strategy” says another news headline from last week. Expect more parts of Microsoft to move to India and reduce the company’s expenses.

Goldman Sachs Meets Microsoft Slime

We previously wrote about Microsoft and Goldman Sachs in [1, 2]. The ‘Microsoft press’ and the Seattle Times report from last week’s Goldman Sachs event where Microsoft promoted itself (including some of the above, namely ‘cloud’ services for government/public service to store data on Microsoft servers), with help from Microsoft booster Gavin Clarke, who is sliming Oracle by quoting Microsoft’s slurs.

Addressing Goldman Sachs Technology and Internet Conference in San Francisco, California, Microsoft’s server and tools chief Bob Muglia criticized Oracle for peddling a return to “1960s computing,” as the rival company goes against industry trends and backs obsolete technologies.

This is utter nonsense. Muglia has said other darn things about Free software, going back several years ago [1, 2].

If Microsoft is so future-proof as Microsoft wants people to believe, then why did Bill Gates carry on dumping Microsoft (MSFT) shares last week? He seems to be dumping these as fast as he is allowed, being an insider. This has gone on for years.

Director of Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) William H Gates Iii sold 7,000,000 shares during the past week at an average price of $28.77.

He is investing in other monopolies.

Elsewhere in the World

Over in Jordan, Microsoft continues targeting the government and the business sector. Elsewhere in the Middle East Microsoft is trying to control Information and Communication Technology (ICT).

Microsoft Jordan hosted a training workshop for 150 of its customers and partners on the increasing importance of effective and integrated business intelligence (BI) solutions that will help drive better decision making across organisations and government institutions, resulting in improved IT skills, reduced costs and enhanced business performance.

Here is Microsoft exploiting UNESCO again. It makes a partnership while publishing this press release to start a whole lot of media fluff.

Microsoft Corp., in collaboration with UNESCO, has launched an initiative of its own kind to save several rare languages from being lost after they have been falling victim to the ever-changing cultural landscape.

The news is missing the point by repeating sound bites from UNESCO.

“Linguistic diversity is under threat,” UNESCO director-general director Irina Bokova said in a release. “This loss not only erodes individual communities and cultures, but more broadly, the very makeup of our societies.”

It is Free software — not Microsoft — that keeps languages alive. There are many examples to that effect, but it’s not what this post is about. In general, it’s sad to see that UNESCO sometimes plays along with a convicted monopoly abuser. UNESCO was previously promoting ODF [1, 2, 3], which is about communication across platforms (multilingualism being similar). As for the language issue, last month we explained the language game Microsoft is playing [1, 2]. It’s doing this a lot in Africa and South America, but the new examples which we gave last month were all from Africa.

“It’s possible, you can never know, that the universe exists only for me. If so, it’s going quite well I must admit.”

Bill Gates

Patents Roundup: H.264, ‘Innovation Alliance’, and Microsoft’s Patent Racketeer

Posted in Bill Gates, Hardware, Intellectual Monopoly, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 9:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Nathan Myhrvold

Summary: This is a set/variety of news with no single point of focus

THERE is more patent news (of relevance to Free software) than we can cover exhaustively, but here is a quick list of important articles.

Multimedia Patents

Here is an article warning about the “legal minefield” which is H.264.

If you’re a digital-video professional–the sort of person who records weddings, sells stock footage, or edits B-roll–chances are good you deal with the H.264 video encoding technology. But after reading software license agreements, you might well wonder if you have rights to do so.

A recent blog post by Harvard Ph.D. student Ben Schwartz, including the provocative phrase “Final Cut Pro Hobbyist,” put the spotlight on license terms in Apple’s video-editing software by questioning when professionals may use H.264 video. A similar “personal and non-commercial activity” license requirement appears in Adobe Systems’ competing Premiere package, too.

The patent pool behind H.264 must have its members lick their lips just thinking of how the world gets saturated with their software patents. It gives financial leverage that they have not fully exploited yet. This is why the debate about free codecs should not be dismissed as irrelevant.


The other day we wrote about Facebook's latest software patent, which is a problem to many. It’s somewhat similar to Amazon’s one-click nonsense. Why did Facebook need such a patent? “Because Without Patents, No One Would Ever Come Up With News Feeds,” says TechDirt sarcastically.

The purpose of the patent system should be to create incentives to come up with something that is both new and non-obvious, which would not be created without that incentive. And, then, of course, the idea is to share that information with the world, via the patent.

“Facebook’s news-feed patent could mean lawsuits,” says this article which appeared in CNN.

Facebook this week was awarded a patent pertaining to streaming “feed” technology — more specifically, “dynamically providing a news feed about a user of a social network,” complementing another patent filing that has been published but not yet approved.

Patent Markings

This item which was mentioned in Slashdot and covered by TechDirt is a fine example of lawyers interfering with the industry and nitpicking in order to make jobs for themselves.

A few years back, we wrote about some lawsuits that were filed against companies who were still listing expired patents on their products, implying that those products were still protected by the patents. The practice of claiming patent coverage over something that isn’t patented is known as “patent marking,” and it’s become very popular lately. AdamR alerted us to the news that Activision was recently sued for patent marking, in listing out patents on certain games that don’t cover what’s in those games. But that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

Joe Mullin points us to the news that, in just the past few months, it looks like a bunch of lawyers have started going around filing patent marking lawsuits. In at least some of these cases, totally different groups of lawyers have sued the exact same companies over the same patents.

If anyone needed more proof that the patent system hampers society, this is it.

Patent Lobby

“Patent Deal Is Close,” argues the Senate Judiciary Chairman.

Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., announced Thursday that he has reached a tentative agreement on patent overhaul legislation with the panel’s ranking member Jeff Sessions, R-Ala. “We have reached a tentative agreement in principle that preserves the core of the compromise struck in committee last year,” Leahy said in a statement. Leahy said he hoped to release details of the agreement “in the coming days” after consulting with other senators and House lawmakers.


The Innovation Alliance, which has been critical of the bill, said the changes “appear to be a positive step in the right direction.”

With Innovation Alliance lobbyists involved, it’s unlikely to be too useful. Microsoft's patent troll, for example, spends millions per year on bogus ‘studies’ and lobbying, so the system can be made worse. The word “reform” disguises this possibility because of its connotation. There is some more information in TechDirt.

“Patents and software need to get a divorce before they destroy innovation, particularly the FOSS development process.”
      –Pamela Jones, Groklaw
Virginia Espinel, the “IP” Czar which was mentioned here for her future role serving the Copyright Cartel (after Biden and the lawyers decided to privately make a police state around "IP"), writes in the White House Blog about “Intellectual Property and Risks to the Public”

She wants feedback [1, 2] and Groklaw’s Pamela Jones gives her some by writing: “Can someone show me which IP law protects ideas, as opposed to their implementation or recording in a fixed medium? Even Gene Quinn says there is no such protection. So that would be my best suggestion. PS: Patents and software need to get a divorce before they destroy innovation, particularly the FOSS development process.”


Here is another new embargo attempt which shows what the patent system is really achieving:

German Chipmaker Infineon Technologies and its subsidiary Infineon Technologies North America have filed a complaint with the US International Trade Commission (ITC) against Elpida Memory seeking to prevent Elpida from importing and selling certain DRAM semiconductors and products in the US.

Embargo is not innovation.

According to some other reports, Sony patents a “universal games controller” [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]. It has something to do with an LCD touch screen.

According to a patent recently filed with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) Sony is working on a universal game controller that could be used with competitor consoles from Microsoft and Nintendo.

A new Microsoft booster, Peter Bright, writes for Ars Technica about another new Microsoft patent, among others that receive coverage in other Web sites, e.g. [1, 2, 3].

Microsoft’s Beijing office filed a patent yesterday for an unusual little device with two distinct functions: one side is an inductive charging pad, for, say, a mouse. The other features a tiny built-in display for displaying headlines or sports scores.

It’s made in China, which is sometimes playing along with the company that commits many crimes. This greed for patents comes at a price though.

Microsoft and Its Patent Trolls

Microsoft claims that it faces over 50 lawsuits that involve patents. One of them seems likely to have Microsoft defeated shortly (next week).

Larry Oakley, editor/publisher of the WallStreetCorner.com investment site (www.WallStreetCorner.com) today reported as an Alert in his “Comment” editorial column that news surrounding VirnetX Holding Corporation’s (AMEX:VHC; www.virnetx.com) patent infringement jury trial against Microsoft Corp. (NASDAQ:MSFT) scheduled for March 8th in Tyler, Texas has caused VHC’s stock price to surge over 40% from Oakley’s “Stock Pick” original news report published on January 16, 2010. Oakley’s latest Alert on VHC was published today, February 22, 2010 on WallStreetCorner.com’s website.

Tyler, Texas. Many patent trolls reside and/or litigate there. But the world’s biggest patent troll is actually a neighbour and friend of Bill Gates, who enjoys the presence of over 1,000 attack dogs that are small legal firms. The Business Times glorifies this troll and so does a Microsoft booster at the Seattle Times (which contains more Microsoft propaganda at the bottom of this article for example). It’s time to shut down this racketeering operation, not to hail it.

Salesforce CEO: Microsoft is “Somewhat Disgusting”; Microsoft Smears of Free Software Carry on

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Office Suites, OpenOffice, Oracle, Servers, Windows at 8:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Microsoft allowed us to [remove Internet Explorer from Windows] but we don’t think we should have to ask permission every time we want to make some minor software modification. Windows is an operating system, not a religion.”

Gateway Computer Chairman Ted Waitt

Summary: Tough words about Microsoft’s fight against anything other than its own software that it controls entirely

THE previous post was evidence of the fact that Microsoft not only sues rivals for competing; it also uses extortion to prevent Amazon.com from offering GNU/Linux servers at a reasonable price. In a meeting that took place last week, the CEO of Salesforce.com called Microsoft names for its removal of all platforms other than Windows.

Marc Benioff, chief executive of cloud-computing company Salesforce.com, called Microsoft “somewhat disgusting” for its fixation with the Windows operating system, and went on to spread around disdain for SAP and IBM.

A hopeful pacifist might suggest that Microsoft is fine with Free software — or any software for that matter — as long as it runs on Windows, but that’s not true (ask Netscape or Mozilla, for example). Jason from The Source has just done an excellent job finding and dissecting Microsoft’s OpenOffice.org FUD material that everyone can view:

Back in the dark ages of the early 2000s, Microsoft ran a misleading FUD campaign against Linux under the “Get the Facts” banner.

It looks like “Why Microsoft” is the not-much-anticipated sequel, where – in concert with a blog running cutting edge 3.5-year old software – Microsoft will again FUD, mislead and distort as it attacks alternatives to its proprietary lock-in-rich offerings – including some Open Source contenders like Open Office.org.

The Present

As the Gentle and Return Reader knows, one of my favorite past times is pointing out fallicies, distortions or downright lies. The entire “Why Microsoft” site is chock-full, but let’s just look at a few from the “So, You’re Considering OpenOffice.org” PDF Microsoft offers.


More of the same, of course. Present tactics are the same as the past tactics, save that Microsoft has gotten a little bit more clever in concealing its intentions.

This is just another example of Microsoft FUDing an Open Source competitor. I guess that’s alright if you are involved in a bit of FUD against OpenOffice.org yourself, but personally I don’t approve.

Microsoft has also been scheming to use software patents against OpenOffice.org. So for those who think that Microsoft is tolerant of competition, it’s time to wake up.

Microsoft’s Extortion Battle Against GNU/Linux and Lawsuits by Proxy Against Google

Posted in Antitrust, Europe, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft, Patents, Servers, Ubuntu, VMware at 7:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lloyd Fester

Summary: More details about the Amazon patent deal; Microsoft confirms role in legal actions against Google and Murdoch joins the cause

MICROSOFT is distrusted for a reason. No other company is arrogant enough to view it as a privilege to destroy other companies in nefarious ways rather than by improving one’s own offerings. Today we will share many new examples which show that Microsoft never changed.

Last week we wrote about Microsoft's patent deal with Panasonic. It is covered by some more sites right now [1, 2] and it is intended to require people to buy licences for software patents from Microsoft, even if they wish only to access their digital camera. TechRepublic asks, “New Linux kernel release and brewing legal battles vs. Microsoft?

“No other company is arrogant enough to view it as a privilege to destroy other companies in nefarious ways rather than by improving one’s own offerings.”Microsoft has clearly decided that software patents are its weapon of choice against the inevitability of software freedom. Microsoft imposes these patents in places where they are not legal (Europe for example) while employing lobbying groups that attempt to legalise these patents everywhere.

This brings us back to Amazon’s patent deal with Microsoft [1, 2, 3]. The deal was signed almost on the very same day (same week) that Amazon announced that it will be advancing Windows on servers. See the article “Amazon gives EC2 a boost and broadens Windows support”:

Second, Amazon now offers its cheaper Reserved Instance pricing to Windows nodes. Reserved Instances reduce the per-hour pricing in return for a commitment to pay for a reserved instance for one or three years.

Amazon is doing all this while making GNU/Linux more expensive because it lets Microsoft ‘tax’ the Red Hat servers. Ken Hess goes further (too far) with the headline “Amazon Abandons Linux for Windows”

Amazon uses Linux for its Kindle now. Amazon uses a lot of Linux for its EC2 service. Just one day after their patent agreement deal, Amazon announced that they now offer Windows reserved instances just like their Linux ones.

Are you getting the picture yet? If not, let me help some more.

Microsoft employees have been entering Amazon for quite some time (latest instance). Very many examples were listed here before, so we leave them for readers to find (site search).

Pogson calls the patent deal with Amazon “Extortion”:

If you want to spread FUD, this will do. We also have no word on how many businesses have told M$ where to go. So far they have only sued TomTom. United we stand. Divided we fall. That’s the game. If the world does not stand up to bullies they become more aggressive and dangerous. Seeking to diversify their cash cow, the patent portfolio will be milked repeatedly. I notice this does not rate an SEC filing so it is not huge but its FUD value may be much higher.

The worst possible outcome is the extension of the M$ tax to GNU/Linux. That will not happen. Software patents are on their way out. Copyright FUD did not work for SCOG, M$’s stooge. Patent FUD will not work for M$. Even if they somehow play the game out for years as SCOG has done, patents expire in much shorter time than copyrights. The best M$ can hope to do it use this FUD to retain control of the US market where software patents are tolerated. Most of the rest of the world gives them no play.

Now everyone agrees that this is extortion though. At Groklaw, for instance, Pamela Jones wrote: “Uh huh. Microsoft says [that the deal involved Linux]. And you know *they* never lie. Here’s their press release, that says the terms are confidential, so how would we ever really know? But if I might point out, Amazon isn’t a Linux company, and it sells a hardware device. And I gather Microsoft’s MO is to make any company signing up with them in a patent cross licensing deal sign an NDA, so only Microsoft speaks in public, then they put out a press release which makes claims no one can check or verify, wave their arms about Linux, then go on to the next victim. Unless they show some details, it means absolutely nothing to me, except that Microsoft is very good at marketing FUD.”

Later she wrote: “Personally, what is lacking as far as proof is concerned is also what the deal is really about. It’s just Microsoft talking, I notice, isn’t it? Let’s hear from Amazon, by all means, and if Microsoft won’t let that happen, why take it seriously? If the deal was really what Microsoft says it is, why would they require Amazon to stay silent, and if they are not requiring it, why isn’t Amazon telling us all about it?”

Jay Lyman from The 451 Group had an interesting take on it:

But now, I’m beginning to question why Linux and open source get such prominent mention in the press release on this latest deal with Amazon. Others have questioned why Amazon would agree to such a deal, and while I believe it’s often a reality of best interest/better than court, I also question how far any attempt at FUD can really travel in an industry that has largely already made its decision on Linux. For the most part and in most every case, the benefits outweigh the risks, whether they be real or perceived.

Over at Linux Planet, someone has compared Microsoft’s strategy to IBM’s (when it was collapsing). The headline says, “Is Microsoft the New Old IBM: a Ponderous Innot-vator?”

Twenty years ago IBM was a bloated, ponderous corporate giant, dominating the computing world not by advancing technology but by intimidating not only its few competitors, but even its customers. Did a long-term user of IBM’s support services buy so much as a single product from Amdahl? Too bad — the service contract was de facto terminated. It seemed there was no way to break the stranglehold IBM had on the very concept of computing. (If you want the full story on all of this, I recommend “Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?” by Louis Gerstner, the CEO who turned IBM around)


As to Microsoft, that article shows how perfectly they are imitating the flawed history of IBM by attempting to intimidate anyone they regard as a rival.

In the past week we have found news headlines promoting special prices for Microsoft Office at Amazon.com. We continue to stress that a lot of the people who run Amazon are former Microsoft executives. They just found a new ‘host’ right next door. We suspect that VMware has the same type of problem [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] and so did Yahoo!

Here is new evidence that Microsoft will pay Yahoo! [1, 2, 3], which in turn will pay Ubuntu developers to send GNU/Linux users to Microsoft’s datacentres and highly biased search results, with requests and behaviours that get stored for Microsoft to analyse. This weakens Ubuntu’s Chrome OS partner (see details about the Yahoo-Canonical deal in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]).

Here is another new article, titled “Microsoft Against Google Books Plan”

The tide has definitely turned against Google as it seems almost every company is gunning for the search giant. At a fairness hearing held last week in relation to Google’s plan to digitise published works, lawyers from both Microsoft and Amazon spoke out against the company. Lawyers from Microsoft and Amazon have said that allowing Google to publish millions of books online would give it an unfair domination of unclaimed books, violating current copyright laws.

We mentioned this before, just about a week ago. Watch how Amazon is helping Microsoft fight Google. Interesting timing too. Microsoft may have used Yahoo! is the very same way. It is the typical strategy of just eliminating rivals rather than improving one’s own products. Microsoft builds “anti-Google” coalitions. As IDG put it several days ago (in the headline): “Microsoft Chief’s Battle Plan: Vaporize Google’s Cloud”

Microsoft’s Internet Explorer was used in attacks against Google [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12] and now that Google considers leaving China (as a direct result of these attacks) “Microsoft, Others Poach Google China Staff,” says one report.

Some Chinese tech companies have begun to actively recruit Google China employees in light of Google’s possible withdrawal from the China market. Both headhunters and Google’s competitors say Google engineers and other employees have become more receptive to job offers since Google’s prospects in China are unclear. Google’s workforce had been very loyal and difficult to poach in the past.

Now comes the anti-trust assault from Microsoft. Here is some coverage confirming that Microsoft is behind those assaults on Google:

Reuters: “Microsoft says Google acts raise antitrust issues”

Microsoft Corp made its most vehement and public attack on Google Inc on Friday, calling its internet rival’s actions potentially anti-competitive, and urging victims to file complaints to regulators.

More on that later.

There are many articles about it and over at Groklaw, Pamela Jones says that she “had to fix the headline” of Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal (WSJ), “as the WSJ seemed to me to be making it seem a lot more serious than it is, in that they have to do a preliminary investigation of any complaint, I would think, so they know whether or not there is any substance. Reuters has it more accurately phrased: “The European Commission is considering complaints from three online companies regarding Google Inc’s practices including its search rankings, the company said on Tuesday.” And the headline is “Google notified of EC complaints”.”

That’s some interesting disinformation from Murdoch’s Wall Street Journal. Well, guess what? After Microsoft’s many flirts with Murdoch [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13] about destroying Google, it turns out that he is “‘Ready To Sue’ Google”

Although a few months have passed since the last big flareup, News Corp. may still be willing to go to war with Google. A fresh report indicates that Rupert Murdoch is indeed prepared to take the search giant to court, and has been talking to Microsoft about an exclusive deal, too.

Sue Google over what exactly? They can just delist his sites if that’s what he wants (which he doesn’t). It has been said many times before that he is just trying to smear Google in order to please his friends, the thugs from Microsoft. Based on new reports like this one, people who leave Microsoft no longer have a problem with Google.

Mike Koss had a hand in developing some of Microsoft’s most important products during his 19-year career, from Excel to Outlook to Sharepoint. But the 49-year-old software developer — who left Microsoft in 2002 to pursue his own entrepreneurial ventures — now proudly proclaims that he’s turned into a “Google fanboy.”

How about Don Dodge [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], who turned from Microsoft’s AstroTurfer into a Google booster when the payments suddenly came from Google? By the way, we are not defending Google.

Microsoft is still just a bunch of aggressive hypocrites. Microsoft is behind many other complaints against Google and against IBM. Microsoft’s strategy here is very simple: buy a rival of the company and then use that rival for antitrust complaints by proxy against the said company (in IBM's case, Microsoft used T3).

In Google’s case, Microsoft first denied its involvement but then it gave up. Microsoft now confirms this; it uses lobbying against a competitor and The Register helps this cause.

Microsoft launched an ardent attack against Google late last week, accusing the web giant of anti-competitive behaviour.

The software vendor’s deputy general counsel Dave Heiner wrote a missive on Microsoft’s corporate blog on Friday, in which he highlighted complaints levelled at what he sees as Google’s questionable business practices.

Glyn Moody writes the witty response that he titles “Microsoft Hoist by its Own Anti-Anti-Competitive Petard”

One of the decisive moments in computing history was when Microsoft was investigated for and found guilty of breaching US rules on anti-competitive behaviour.
Microsoft’s line in defending itself was that it was not anti-competitive, that this investigation was all down to desperate, failed competitors trying to take their petty revenge by setting the government on the company, and that it should be allowed to “innovate”, untrammelled by those silly governmental authorities that just don’t understand all this groovy technology stuff.

More coverage on this includes:

Microsoft Tells Google To Face The Antitrust Music

Microsoft Publicly Takes Google to Task Over Antitrust Investigations

Microsoft’s Latest Attempt To Derail Google: Sic The Antitrust Cops On Them

Microsoft says Google acts raise antitrust issues

Microsoft breaks silence on EU investigation into Google

Microsoft has broken its silence on the European Commission inquiry into Google after criticisms that the US giant was orchestrating a campaign against the company founded by Sergey Brin and Larry Page.

Here is one of the complainers distancing itself from Microsoft and an explanation of why it’s all just a waste of time. The Seattle Times is just promoting Microsoft as usual (and keeping silent about the company's offences), with more new examples to be found here and a complaint about the Seattle Times here:

That BoingBoing headline–”Broke-ass Washington state set to give MSFT $100M annual tax cut and amnesty for $1B in evasion”–should make the people (well, Jeff Reifman) at Microsoft Tax Dodge happy–they’ve been wondering where the Seattle Times has been on this issue. Who needs old media? BoingBoing is here.

Here is the Seattle Times promoting what seems like another Visible Technologies wannabe (former Microsoft employees proceed to spying).

A former Microsoft engineer’s longtime vision for a user-centered Web service is launching today at Strings.com.


“The whole premise was the Web is so noisy,” he said. “The best way to filter all the noise is for some automated system to understand ‘me’ intimately.”

Another Seattle site writes about Microsoft’s Poole entering more than just NComputing [1, 2, 3, 4].

MOD Systems continues to add firepower to its growing team, naming former Coinstar executive Dan Gerrity and former Microsoft Windows executive Will Poole to the board. The news follows a series of appointments at the company which were announced last week, most notably former Clearwire exec Robert DeLucia who joined as chief financial officer. They also come amid ongoing legal troubles with MOD’s founder and former CEO: Mark Phillips.

NComputing got closer to Microsoft after it had taken Microsoft’s Poole on board. They never seem to learn what happens when former Sotfies are hired. Amazon didn’t learn, VMware had EMC impose this upon it, and Yahoo! was just too weak to resist the proxy battle from Microsoft and bullies like Icahn (“corporate raider”).

Free Software More Secure, Say Experts

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 6:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The continuous and broad peer-review enabled by publicly available source code supports software reliability and security efforts through the identification and elimination of defects that might otherwise go unrecognized by a more limited core development team.”

CIO David Wennergren, Department of Defense (October 2009)

Summary: VeraCode argues that Free software is superior from the point of view of security

THE Register says that “Open source software has comparable security, faster bug fixing, and fewer potential backdoors than commercial software, according to a study on software application vulnerabilities by security firm VeraCode.”

Here is another source speaking about the subject:

Around 58 percent of the applications tested by application security testing service provider Veracode in the past year-and-a-half failed to achieve a successful rating in their first round of testing. “The degree of failure to meet acceptable standards on first submission is astounding — and this is coming from folks who care enough to submit their software to our [application security testing] services,” says Roger Oberg, senior vice president of marketing for Veracode. “The implication here is that more than half of all applications are susceptible to the kinds of vulnerabilities we saw at Heartland, Google, DoD, and others — these were all application-layer attacks.”


Despite the relatively gloomy picture of developers still missing the mark initially on security, there were some bright spots in the report: Open-source software isn’t as risky as you’d think, and financial services organizations and government agencies tend to have more secure applications from the get-go; more than half of their apps passed as acceptable in the first submission to testing, according to Veracode’s report.

Someone mailed us a pointer to this article last night.

Start-up Israeli security company Trusteer claims to have hit on a different tactic when it comes to combating financial malware and making activities such as online banking more secure.

Rather than trying to eliminate every nasty from a user’s desktop, the four year-old company claims its Rapport software establishes a secure link between a customer’s desktop and the bank’s systems, excluding any malware in the process. The approach has been greeted with enthusiasm by analysts with a recent report from Frost and Sullivan neatly distilling the problem and Trusteer’s response to it.

“This is old news,” says one of our readers who comments on “how to combat malware”.

“Some time ago I suggested putting the VPN and IP stack on an embedded device. If they can’t write to it, then they can’t hack it. And seeing as Rapport is just another Windows process it’s just as vulnerable as any other prog.”

“Thanks to Mr. Gates, we now know that an open Internet with protocols anyone can implement is communism; it was set up by that famous communist agent, the US Department of Defense.”

Richard Stallman

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