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05.14.10

IRC Proceedings: May 14th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

Internet Explorer a Sign of Things to Come for Windows

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Security, Standard, Windows at 3:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Explorer sinking

What do Internet Explorer and Windows have in common?

Both come from Microsoft.

Both rely on illegal bundling for their survival.

Both are hostile towards standards.

Both are extremely notorious for security problems.

10 years ago it was inconceivable that Free software would sink Internet Explorer, which far too many Web sites depended on for compatibility.

Now we know that nothing is impossible. Microsoft already suffers from layoffs, major departures, dying/dead products, and financial perils.

Let’s just sit back and watch Microsoft sink. It will try to grab other boats with it, sinking them along with itself. That’s why dissociation from Microsoft is a survival skill, not intolerance.

Explorer from window

Microsoft et al. “Embrace and Extend” That Whole “Open Thing”

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, Windows at 3:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Star wars Vader
Picture by SubSonica

Summary: The characterisation of patent bullies as friends of “Open Source”; more lip service to them from the Gartner Group

EVERY ONCE in a while we share with readers the latest examples of Microsoft and its allies faking and/or subverting “Open Source”. Today’s roundup begins with the Microsoft-backed Blackboard, which is once again playing games with “ambassadors” and other fluff that’s twisting the term “open-source” (open minus source). Blackboard is trying to paint itself either as a player in “open-source” or simply a friend. It just mirrors the behaviour of Microsoft (Blackboard’s financial backer), which is bullying competitors with software patents while pretending to be cuddly and tolerant. It’s all PR. Blackboard is a bunch of predators in a pedobear costumes.

This brings us to the next item, which actually involves Blackboard’s sugar daddy (the "biggest enemy" of “Open Source”). Microsoft boosters like Marius Oiaga still write about Microsoft’s ‘embrace’ of projects it can exploit to sell IIS and Windows (proprietary with patents and known abuses).

phpBB 3.0.7-PL1 Available via Windows Web App Gallery and Web Platform Installer

One such example is the “SQL Server Driver for PHP 1.1, which provides key interoperability for PHP applications to use SQL Server or SQL Azure for data storage, and is released under the OSI approved MS-PL license and available on CodePlex,” Galli states.

Microsoft’s press mole is at it again. They are trying to capture “Open Source” and swallow it by putting it in proprietary enclosures, Microsoft licences, and even so-called ‘clouds’ that give Microsoft control of the applications’ data. Joomla is selling out to Microsoft in a way, or at least making an innocent mistake. Based on this short new article, there is new Joomla leadership, which might explain the change in attitude.

Then we have Microsoft’s promiscuous girlfriend Novell, which is putting Microsoft code inside Linux even when it’s a GPL violation [1, 2, 3]. The press is still airing the Microsoft PR angle about this code [1, 2], perhaps not realising that Microsoft has a goal of making GNU/Linux obsolete with that code. It turns GNU/Linux into a mere application (windowed) for Microsoft Windows. These are Novell/Microsoft patches for proprietary software, not for Free software.

This brings us to the next subject, which is development tools. Novell builds MonoDevelop to help train GNU/Linux users for Microsoft development in C#, ASP.NET, Visual Studio, Windows, etc. SharpDevelop 3.2 is now out with IronRuby support. For those who don’t know what Microsoft is doing to Ruby with its own “IronRuby”, start around [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13]. This is a classic “embrace and extend” maneuver.

Saving the best for last, watch how the Gartner Group is doing it again. In recent days we showed Gartner endorsement offered to companies which advance Microsoft’s interests in F/OSS [1, 2]. A company which spreads more FUD against F/OSS turns out to also be a recipient of Gartner endorsement.

Protecode, creator of the world’s fastest and most reliable software Intellectual Property (IP) engine, today announced that it has been selected as a Cool Vendor in the “Cool Vendors in Intellectual Property, 2010″1 report by Gartner, Inc. The report identifies vendors that are taking an innovative approach to applying IP management capabilities in their product offerings.

It is almost as though Gartner’s criteria for F/OSS acceptance is that it needs to serve its very major client and investor, Microsoft Corporation (and associated ecosystem). The above company too is a proprietary software company, which is more or less draping itself in an “Open Source” gown while only spreading fear about “Open Source”. Another example similar to Protecode would Black Duck (also Gartner-endorsed), whose latest press release goes something like “Black Duck spiders the Internet for open source code, collecting information about projects and code into the Black Duck KnowledgeBase, which contains information on more than 230,000 open source projects from more than 4,500 unique websites. Black Duck reported earlier this year that more than 19,000 new open source projects were started in 2009.”

What Black Duck does not say is that it adds a lot of addons to Microsoft’s proprietary software (with Microsoft’s own licences) to its database and calls these “Open Source”, even though all they achieve is complement or encourage the deployment of proprietary software, along with software patent altercations and licences that Microsoft controls. If you are new to Black Duck, see this new Wiki page.

Patents Roundup: HTC Daemonised for Defending Itself From Apple Bullies; US and EU Patent Systems Still Misguided

Posted in Apple, Europe, GNU/Linux, Google, Law, Microsoft, Patents at 2:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Steve Jobs with patent
Original photo by Matt Buchanan; edited by Techrights

Summary: A look at how the Western press covers HTC’s response to Apple’s attack on the Linux-based Android; new cracks in patent systems worldwide

THE patent system disappoints most parties which are affected by it (but not all parties are created equal). This post takes a look at new examples.

Taiwan

The US press sensationalises HTC’s response to Apple and makes it look like HTC is attacking rather than defending. Items that are liked in the West (notably hypePads, hypePhones, and hypePods) are being used to evoke emotion. We are talking about headlines like:

There are many more examples like that. In this particular case, HTC is not the bad guy; Apple attacked Linux/Android and even Microsoft seems to have extorted it very, very recently.

Some headlines put it in better perspective (there are hundreds of headlines). How about “HTC files lawsuit against Apple, calls for injunction” or even the clarification that it’s a counter-attack and thus really defensive?

Katonda.com, which is a very good Web site, says that “HTC Takes Revenge; Hits Apple” and adds:

Bruce Perens has written in detail about the problems of software patents, “Patents, originally created to stimulate innovation, may now be having the opposite effect, at least in the software industry. Plagued by an exponential growth in software patents, many of which are not valid, software vendors and developers must navigate a potential minefield to avoid patent infringement and future lawsuits. Coupled with strategies to exploit this confusion over patents, especially in standards setting organizations, it appears that software advancement will become stifled unless legal action is taken to resolve the situation…”

He further wrote … “Patent royalties tend to create discrimination against small-to-medium-sized businesses developing any form of software, and especially against Open Source developers.

The largest businesses in an industry generally have patent cross-licenses with their peers, and thus they may ignore each other’s patents while smaller businesses have no choice but to license those patents if they use them. As a result, there is a “tax” upon technology that small businesses must pay while the largest businesses are exempt.”

Software patents have become weapons for companies to fight with each other. This not only wastes valuable resources but also time of courts. Many activists and experts have been raising questions about the legality of software patents.

Many countries including India do no allow software patents.

The United States, Europe, and Japan are trying to change India's laws so as to retard progress in India. Indians should explain to their peers why they need to reject so-called ‘IP’ for their advantage and long-term prosperity. Indian officials are likely to be incentivised (nice word for “bribed”) to serve foreign interests rather than the local population. We saw that before and gave examples. Microsoft is among the culprits.

United States

With the exception of cases like I4i vs Microsoft, we dislike almost everything about the USPTO’s practices. It merely grants monopolies, mostly to large US-based companies, in order to exclude competitors from the market. How is that beneficial to progress, assuming competition drives innovation?

The following new article is perhaps a repetition of old news. Either way, it ought to show why it is also in Microsoft’s interest to lobby against software patents.

Toronto-based i4i said yesterday that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has confirmed the validity of its software patent after Microsoft had asked that it be reviewed.

Throughout the case, Microsoft was accused and found guilty of trial misconduct. A Microsoft lawyer said some months ago 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.”

To clarify, Microsoft has many other patent cases where it is the defendant, but given that Microsoft has many software patents which it uses to bully rivals, this hardly makes Microsoft a victim of this system.

One area where the USPTO is trying to improve is the requirement of a written description as mentioned quite recently. Here is a patents-oriented Web site covering the subject:

USPTO Director David Kappos recently commented on the March 22, 2010 Federal Circuit en banc decision Ariad Pharmaceuticals v. Eli Lilly and concluded that the written description requirement remains alive and well and is an essential “backstop” against overclaiming. In the case, the Federal Circuit held that Section 112 of the Patent Act has a written description requirement that is separate and apart from the enablement requirement.

We will probably hear more about it in coming days.

Europe

Over in Europe, the major news at the moment is the EBoA decision which we covered and interpreted in [1, 2]. Here is what sites that Google classifies as “news” had to say (some are sites for/by patent lawyers, which makes them biased and unlikely to qualify as “objective”):

i. European Patent Office rules on software

The European Patent Office (EPO) has ended speculation about the extent to which software can be patented under the European Patent Convention with a decision handed down yesterday from its Enlarged Board of Appeal.

ii. Europe clarifies its position on intellectual property

Yesterday, the Enlarged Board of Appeal of the European Patent Office (EPO) handed down its long-awaited ‘opinion’ on the extent to which software can be patented under the European Patent Convention.

iii. European Patent Office silent on software patent question

No change: That’s the result of an 18-month long appeals process that the president of the European Patent Office hoped would clarify the rules on whether software may be patented.

In October 2008, EPO President Alison Brimelow referred four questions on the patentability of software to the EPO’s Enlarged Board of Appeal, its highest appeals court, on the grounds that a number of patent cases had reached “different decisions.”

From pro-patents Web sites (maximalists) we have:

i. Reactions to the EPO computer program patent decision roll in

ii. Patenting Computer-Implemented-Inventions (CIIs) in the EPO

All in all, the EBoA’s involvement was not at all satisfying, to put politely. The issues that existed ultimately remain. What will European SMBs (the majority) have to say?

“They [EPO examiners] claim that the organisation is decentralising and focusing on granting as many patents as possible to gain financially from fees generated.” —Expatica, European Patent Office staff on strike

Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10 Likely to Drop F-Spot (Mono), Firefox

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Ubuntu at 1:18 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx Netbook

Summary: The gradual cleansing of Ubuntu-based distributions reaches farther than initially imagined; Google also benefits at Mozilla’s expense

NEW applications are being decided upon not just for Ubuntu 10.10 but also for Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10.

According to this provisional list, not only will F-Spot be removed from Ubuntu 10.10; Shotwel is currently listed as a candidate for Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10 and as we noted earlier, Google’s Web browser is also replacing Firefox. Mozilla’s CEO announced his resignation some days ago and it would probably be a little misguided to help Google harvest more data, but that’s a topic for another day.

The Source comments on the removal of F-Spot by saying a thing or two about gbrainy, Tomboy, and Banshee:

I think there’s that new brain game, gbrainy, in by default as well?

I’m not as optimistic that if Tomboy were the only app it would lead to Mono removal – after all, Team Apologista used Tomboy as sole justification for Mono inclusion for a long time.

Furthermore, when you consider the personal vilification of GNote’s originial developer by many of the same people, I think it is quite clear that a certain segment (the majority?) of Mono supporters are not arguing from a rational position.

Instead, I predict they will both resist replacing Tomboy with GNote, as well as continue to attempt to replace existing FLOSS offerings with Mono-encumbered “alternatives” (a la replacing Rhythmbox with Banshee). I also expect the most trivial programs to slide in (like gbrainy) , so Team Apologista can pretend like Mono is a valuable framework.

ITWire goes with a headline which says that “Ubuntu throws out Mono-based photo-editing app” (strongly worded).

The next version of the Ubuntu GNU/Linux distribution will jettison the current default Mono-dependent image management and photo editing application, F-Spot, in favour of Shotwell.

The H clarifies that Shotwell is written in Vala.

F-Spot is a GTK+ application in C# and Mono and has been a controversial application predominantly due to that choice of development language and runtime. Shotwell is a less contentious choice, written in Vala (which in turn compiles to C). However, the change appears to have been made on other grounds, such as better memory management. Tomboy, another Mono based application, is remaining in Ubuntu 10.10.

Since The H claims that F-Spot appears to have been removed on grounds “such as better memory management,” why not replace Tomboy with Gnote? They have merely identical function and Gnote is far, far lighter and faster (the Mono problem aside).

Links 14/5/2010: Linagora Acquires Mandriva; Smart TVs With Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 7:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Softpedia Linux Weekly, Issue 96
  • LinuxCertified Announces its Next Linux Fundamentals course W/free Linux Laptop!
  • The Family Proxy

    At this point many are likely asking how much this costs. If you read my previous article, you would know the answer right away: “It’s free and it’s on Linux”. I suppose I need to preface that last comment with the qualification that you need some old “junky but functional” hardware lying around. There are many different Linux solutions we can deploy to achieve this goal. For this article I have chosen a solution of Arch Linux, Shorewall, and Squid.

    We selected Arch Linux because it is a rolling release and has the latest and greatest packages. If you are not familiar with the phrase “rolling release”, in Linux it indicated a distribution that keeps you up-to-date with the latest software updates via the package manager. You will never have to re-install or upgrade your server from one release version to the next with this style of distribution. The great part about a rolling release on a proxy/firewall setup is that once it’s set up and working correctly, you will not have to go back and completely overhaul the server when a newer distribution update comes out.

  • 10 tech firms that should get more damn respect

    8. Linux

    It’s a movement rather than a firm, of course, but we think Linux still deserves to be here: from making netbooks work to powering Android phones and generally making Microsoft get its act together, Linux has been enormously influential. It might be considered more cool if journalists could get through just one Linux-mentioning article without also mentioning beards and hippies.

  • Facebook Censorship; Won’t Allow Ubuntu Torrent

    Facebook started blocking The Pirate Bay when the site released a new Facebook feature, reported Wired. But it seems the rabbit hole goes deeper. I tried something interesting. I asked a colleague to open The Pirate Bay and searched for a legal copy of Ubuntu Linux. He found one (It’s completely legal to download Gnu/Linux).

  • Firefighters Save Money Switiching to Ubuntu

    One of the cost saving measures fire departments can look at is fairly simple. Switch from Microsoft Windows to Linux and use the Ubuntu Distribution. All of the modern conveniences of a Windows based PC without the headaches.

  • Desktop

  • Fast Boot

    • Online in seconds flat: Quick-starting operating systems

      Second, he notes, many of the quicker operating systems, which tend to run on Linux, are less exposed to attacks than Windows, and hence fundamentally somewhat more secure. That last statement has lost some of its punch with the advent of Windows 7, however, which is better than its predecessors in this regard.

    • Sony Intros Second-Generation VAIO P

      Sony’s refreshed VAIO P introduces a couple of new features worth-mentioning, such as the built-in accelerometer, touchpad, GPS with Digital Compass, 3G and Pre-boot Linux-based OS.

  • Security/Rescue CDs

    • Analyst’s View: Antivirus Rescue CDs

      Rescue CDs work by booting into a different operating system (commonly some form of Linux), which rootkits and other threats that actively resist detection or removal are powerless against, because they never get launched.

    • Antivirus Rescue CDs for Emergency Cleanup

      Most rescue CDs actually boot into Linux, making any infestation by Windows-based malware just plain impossible.

  • Server

  • Google

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux Foundation Announces LinuxCon Brazil

      The Linux Foundation, the nonprofit organization dedicated to accelerating the growth of Linux, today announced it is expanding its premier Linux conference, LinuxCon, to Brazil. LinuxCon Brazil will take place August 31 – September 1, 2010 in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

    • Linux Foundation announces LinuxCon Brazil 2010
    • Linux Foundation Announces LinuxCon Brazil
    • Petabyte storage in a Linux distributed file system

      They do a good job with providing a 3-D model of the design and diagrams that show the components and the power wiring setup. This photo shows Tim Nufire of BackBlaze deploying pods in a rack that “contains just under half a petabyte of storage.” Pretty cool.

    • Kernel Log: New stable kernels and drivers

      At the end of April, the maintainers of the Linux kernel’s Stable Series released 2.6.32.12 and 2.6.33.3. Both versions were released three-and-a-half weeks after their respective predecessors, one containing almost 200 and the other more than 130 patches – it seems that the intervals between new stable kernel releases are becoming slightly longer, and that the number of changes integrated into the new versions is getting somewhat larger.

    • Indian Government Wants Its Own Operating System

      A US-based security expert quoted by the Times of India thinks an open source OS for Indian government computers wouldn’t be such a bad idea, but here’s the thing: There are already several Indian-developed, Linux-based operating systems, including BOSS and the education-oriented E-Swecha, the installation of which Richard Stallman helped oversee at the end of 2008. The Indian government could in theory develop an OS from the ground up without using the Linux kernel at all, but that would be wildly expensive.

  • Applications

    • LiLi USB Creator 2.5

      LiLi USB Creator is a free software for Windows that allows you to create a bootable Live USB key with Linux on it.

    • Proprietary

      • Bricsys Releases Beta Version of Bricscad V10 for LINUX

        Bricsys NV, the developer of Bricscad, announced today that the beta version of Bricscad V10 for LINUX is now available.

        Bricscad V10 is recognized as the number 1 alternative CAD platform for the DWG file format.

      • A Few Comments on Skype

        The Skype CEO recently hinted that they are considering adding mid-call advertisements. See previous paragraph re “pricing packages”. Does this mean there will be adverts running in calls you are paying for?

    • Instructionals

    • Games

      • Adventures in Linux gaming

        It has been an interesting week in the world of Linux games—really in the intersection of Linux and commercial games. First was the announcement of the release of the source code that underlies the Ryzom massively multi-player online role playing game (MMORPG). In addition, though, is word that the Humble Indie Bundle, a collection of cross-platform games being sold using a novel method, generated over $1 million in a week’s time, with roughly a quarter of it coming from Linux users. It has long been said that there is no market for Linux commercial games, but these two events may shine a light on different business models that just might be successful.

      • The video game blog for Tucson, AZ gamers

        The Humble Bundle consists of six PC/Mac/Linux games that you can purchase at whatever price you are willing to pay for them/think they are worth.

        [...]

        And then there are the people who made it into the Top 10 purchasers with leet-speak (1337 and 31337 for “leet” and “elite/eleet”). Sigh. Predictable yet somehow funny.

      • Steam bound for Linux operating systems

        According to The Telegraph, the digital distribution platform will be available to Linux users “in the coming months”.

  • Distributions

    • Linux fragmentation: good or bad?

      The consumers aren’t going to care about Linux fragmentation because they’re not going to see much of it: they’ll see “Android”, which happens to be built atop a rich stack of Linux kernel and library components. As long as their calls don’t drop and their apps run, they’ll be blissfully ignorant of any Linux fragmentation.

    • Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Linagora Acquires Mandriva

        Mandriva is said to have decided on this a month ago and is looking for potential buyers ever since. A potential buyer includes Linagora, which is a French open-source company. Lingaroa has also confirmed that it is going to acquire Mandriva and they have already started moving Mandriva assets.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu Women Project Team is Being Restructured

        The Ubuntu Women Team is being restructured and a new election process will be put in place to elect the next leaders This time though, there is not one single leader but three leaders being elected.

      • Ubuntu open to greater touch

        Canonical is looking at Ubuntu for in-car systems, tablets, set-top-boxes, and what director of business development Chris Kenyon called “the digital home or something you carry around”.

      • With Ubuntu 10.10 It May Be Easier To Run Wayland

        Beyond working towards the X Server not running as the root user and the X.Org/Mesa/Kernel upgrades planned for Ubuntu 10.10, it may also be easier to test the Wayland Display Server in this Ubuntu “Maverick Meerkat” update due out in October.

        We first talked about Wayland in late 2008 when the project was still in its infancy by Kristian Høgsberg. Wayland is still very much a side-project of Kristian’s that just receives commits every once in a while and has yet to gain any widespread adoption, but it still possesses a lot of progress. Wayland can run dual nested X.Org Servers within it, now runs off Mesa rather than Eagle EGL, supports the KMS page-flipping ioctl, a DRI2 driver is being worked on, and much more. However, it doesn’t do too much yet for the end-user, but that should change once the GTK, Qt, or Clutter tool-kits is properly supported within Wayland. Right now there’s just a basic terminal and a few demo applications that can run within this display server that leverages kernel mode-setting.

      • Variants

        • Linux Mint 9 is Expected to Release Very Soon
        • Ubuntu derivatives flourish

          Custom versions of Ubuntu can offer anything from ease-of-use to a multimedia studio

          Ubuntu 10.04, aka Lucid Lynx, has now been released and work has already started on version 10.10, its successor. But, if Ubuntu 10.04 isn’t your ideal operating system then it’s worth taking a look at some of Ubuntu’s derivative versions. Chances are that one those will suit your needs.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Leading by example: Women in open source

    “It’s counter-intuitive to me,” Sanders said in a recent interview. “I would expect open source to be very open to everybody — It’s collaborative … flexible. There’s so many things I can name about open source that are beneficial.”

  • Servoy Announces Open Source ‘Servoy 5.2′ to Simplify SaaS

    Open source lessens vendor lock-in and boosts the capabilities of both the developer and the platform. Servoy is expected to release the open source version in June. After the release, the source code can be downloaded from the Servoy website.

  • Apache’s Lesson In Radical Transparency

    Transparency on the other hand promotes confidence and community, educates and ultimately empowers. As the web gets richer, the financial and social cost of maintaining secrecy gets higher and higher.

  • Businesses Need Clear Policies For FOSS Contributions

    Businesses give to open source because open source increasingly gives back to businesses.

  • Events

  • SaaS

    • The Cloud Has No Boundaries, It’s Elasticity That Makes It Cloud

      “It isn’t the cloud if it has very firm boundaries”, says Marten Mickos, CEO of Eucalyptus Systems. I had a chance to chat with Marten and Dr. Rich Wolski, CTO and co-founder of Eucalyptus recently about their vision of the future of cloud computing and what role open source will play in it.

  • Oracle

  • Education

    • Kineo collaborates with Tesco to develop new learning academy online using Moodle Open Source LMS

      This landmark project makes pioneering use of open source technologies including Moodle and Joomla to allow Tesco staff to access all their learning needs online for the first time. The eventual scale of the project will make it one of the largest ever implementations of the Moodle platform in the corporate learning space. Kineo has designed and developed over 100 Moodle solutions for its clients, and on this project combined Joomla to add further functionality and enhance the user experience.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • What’s new in GCC 4.5?

      Version 4.5 of the GNU Compiler Collection was released in mid-April with many changes under-the-hood, as well as a few important user-visible features. GCC 4.5 promises faster programs using the new link-time optimization (LTO) option, easier implementation of compiler extensions thanks to the controversial plugin infrastructure, stricter standards-conformance for floating-point computations, and better debugging information when compiling with optimizations.

  • Releases

  • Government

  • Openness

    • Open data movement: triumphs and tribulations

      The open data movement strives to make all data freely available to the public. Like its open source software counterpart, open data can be freely downloaded/shared without any restrictions and it can be mixed with other similar data sources.

Leftovers

  • Finance

    • May 12 2010: How to profit from volatility, chaos and misery
    • Goldman Sachs and Helicopter Ben

      Don’t expect a thank you note from Goldman Sachs or any of the other banks that had perfect trading days in Q1. “Perfect” means that they had no days of trading losses for 63 trading days.

      Goldman Sachs, which makes more money from sales and trading than any Wall Street firm, reported yesterday that it made at least $25 million trading every single day of the first quarter, the first perfect quarter in the company’s history. The company’s fixed-income, currencies and commodities business, known as FICC, and equities unit generate those returns by making markets for clients rather than betting the firm’s own money, Cohn said.

    • Morning Update/ Market Thread 5/13

      The government paying down your loan if you are underwater or unemployed? Wow. Anything to keep the game going for the banks – including bankrupting our nation. Moral hazard? The real moral hazard isn’t just how unfair it is to homeowners and people who have done the right thing, the fact that it is squarely to the benefit of the banks makes it a nation ending type of hazard – all to protect those people who have the power to crash the planet at the flick of an HFT switch.

Clip of the Day

NASA Connect – FOFE – Commercial Flight (1/11/2001)


Patents Roundup: EmDebian Considers OIN Membership, EBoA Makes the Legal ‘Industry’ Happy, Phones Industry Harmed by Patents

Posted in Antitrust, Apple, Debian, Europe, GNU/Linux, Google, OIN, Patents at 3:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hercules

Summary: Teams of embedded Debian users/developers may want a shield from software patents; Europe does nothing to stop software patenting; patent lawyers and the patents they crave prove harmful to development of “best” mobile phones

Benjamin Henrion (FFII) says that “EmDebian [is] considering joining the Open Invention Network,” based on this new message:

OIN is the open innovation network, a patent defence group set up in 2005 by IBM, phillips, Red Hat, Novell, NEC and Sony to create a patent pool for defending Linux.

They are now keen to have proper free-software people and projects join up, especially in the Embedded space which is shaping up for a big fight over the next few years as the incumbents realise Linux has eaten their businesses. This could easily get dirty (i.e. have incumbent vendors resort to their patent portfolios to hang on past their natural time – (in the way that SCO did, although they tried to use copyright rather than patents).

Henrion is trying to tell them that “collective patent pools and shields do not work against trolls” (with special exceptions [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]).

Enlarged Board of Appeal (EBoA) Decision Loved by Patent Lawyers

Wednesday’s disappointment from the EBoA is already being covered all around Europe, especially by the legal 'industry'.

Patent attorneys seem pleased with the outcome, which lets them carry on doing what they did before, including the patenting of software using known loopholes.

To be honest, the decision was pretty much expected: the European Patent Office (EPO) has been taking a fairly consistent approach to computer-implemented inventions and has a growing body of learning materials on the subject.

Another ‘IP’ attorney says that “Enlarged Board of Appeal confirms approach to controversial software patents.” More from patent lawyers:

As many in the ‘FOSS’/anti-patent world would undoubtedly say, perhaps it is now time for the legislator to take over. However, I would have very serious doubts about whether it will be possible to come to any sort of agreement among the member states of either the EU or the EPC that would stand any chance of resolving the issue once and for all.

[...]

6. T 424/03, Microsoft does deviate from a view expressed in T 1173/97, IBM, concerning whether a claim to a program on a computer-readable medium necessarily avoids exclusion from patentability under Article 52(2) EPC. However this is a legitimate development of the case law and there is no divergence which would make the referral of this point to the Enlarged Board of Appeal by the President admissible.

Henrion has just uploaded this English version of the video depicting the European Parliament as it rejects the Software Patent Directive (also available in French/original). Here is an Ogg Theora version of this historical video.


It would be nice to have another such high-profile decision annulling all patents on software. In the United States, In Re Bilski will resume very shortly.

Phones a Patent Mess

“Complex Smartphones Are the Latest Patent Battleground,” exclaims Business Week. It seems like nothing but lawsuits is what patents brought to this lucrative section of the industry (where Linux grows fastest and Microsoft diminishes).

The patent wars are raging in the mobile device market, and they could result in rising costs for handset makers and higher gadget prices for wireless carriers and consumers. So far this year, Apple and HTC—two of the most innovative smartphone makers—have become embroiled in more patent-related litigation than in all of 2007, and they are on track to beat their own 2008 and 2009 records, according to Bloomberg data.

Wired Magazine has the following new article:

Investigation: Apple vs Nokia vs Google vs HTC vs RIM

[...]

The struggle that’s broken out between the tech giants has a certain irony; after all, the prizes they’re disputing — patents — were invented to accelerate and encourage invention, not hinder it. The concept is fairly straightforward: a patent is granted if an invention meets a number of requirements, the most essential being “novelty” and “usefulness”. Once granted, a patent typically gives the inventor a limited monopoly of a minimum of 20 years in which he alone can market the invention or license others to take up his protected work.

[...]

In their 2008 book Patent Failure, Bessen and fellow Boston University law professor Michael Meurer show that, since the late-90s, litigation costs for publicly traded companies (except in the case of pharmaceuticals) have consistently outweighed the profits that companies derived from patents. They show that in 1999 alone, $9.3 billion (£6bn) were made in profits from patents globally. Litigation costs alone, however, reached $16 billion (£10.5bn) for the US. In the last decade, this situation has deteriorated considerably: in 1999, there were 2,318 patent litigation lawsuits filed in the US. By 2008, that number had risen to 2,896.

Yesterday we mentioned the HTC vs Apple case. The New York Times has attempted to get a response from Apple but failed.

An Apple spokeswoman declined to comment.

Why didn’t HTC join the OIN and retaliate against Microsoft and Apple this way? Instead, it sold out to Microsoft and harmed the whole of Android in the process.

HTC is using just 5 patents. Had it joined the OIN, it would possibly have hundreds of infringing examples for a more effective artillery in this M.A.D. situation (TechDirt says that a “Patent Nuclear Response [Was] Launched” because it’s the best analogy).

According to the press release, HTC believes Apple infringes upon five of their patents. As to what they are, we don’t quite know. More on this as it develops.

“HTC files patent complaint against Apple, asks for ban on iPhone, iPad, and iPod,” says Engadget. That’s the ITC loophole which often gets abused.

Apple has other problems because of Adobe and invocation of “antitrust”.

Adobe has launched its latest salvo in an ongoing dispute with Apple.

The co-founders of Adobe have published an open letter in which they say that Apple threatens to “undermine the next chapter of the web”.

Actually, it is Adobe which undermines the next chapter of the Web. The Web is about web standards, not proprietary plugins. More companies also need to support Theora, which both Apple and Adobe are a threat to (see the posts below).

Kuwait Move From SUSE to Red Hat Shows That Novell and Microsoft Deceive on ‘Interoperability’

Posted in Interoperability, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Red Hat at 2:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Kuwait tower

Summary: A migration away from SUSE shows that bindings between Windows and SUSE are not so crucial after all; Microsoft publicly explains reluctance to be interoperable

Novell and Microsoft market themselves based on “interoperability” as a key selling point, but as we pointed out yesterday, Kuwait had no problem moving from SUSE to Red Hat. Here is the press release about it.

Yesterday we also showed that Microsoft excludes GNU/Linux when it comes to a Web-based Office (there are more reports about it, mostly derived from the one we referenced earlier). Is this interoperability? Of course not.

Here is Microsoft’s ‘Office man’ explaining the motives:

From ChannelWeb

Stephen Elop, president of the Microsoft Business Division and one of the company’s foremost cloud proponents, also dismissed Google’s claims of Office-Docs interoperability.

“It clearly shows their lack of maturity and lack of understanding for the business market,” Elop told The New York Times Wednesday. “Companies don’t want to mix their technology.”

I am shocked, shocked, to hear Microsoft come out against interoperability.

We wrote about Elop a few days ago and shown above is an explanation of why Microsoft persisted with bribes and other corruption to pass OOXML as ‘open’ rather than embrace real standards.

But the more important point is that despite Microsoft’s attempt to make the Microsoft-taxed distribution work better with Windows, large deployments can easily have SUSE substituted with Red Hat. Nobody needs SUSE.

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