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Salesforce CEO About Microsoft: “They’re Basically the Alley Thugs”

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 9:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Credit: JD Lasica, socialmedia.biz.

Summary: Marc Benioff denounces Microsoft after Microsoft decided to sue Salesforce for alleged infringement of software patents

Salesforce is known for many things, none of which is Microsoft affinity (unlike, for instance, the extensive use of GNU/Linux at Salesforce). We wrote about this subject in posts such as:

Earlier this week we wrote about the Salesforce lawsuit (Microsoft sued Salesforce with software patents) and finally we see the response from Marc Benioff:

Let’s roll the transcript. Benioff was asked about Microsoft’s lawsuit and whether it had any impact on Salesforce.com’s business. Technically, Benioff was just asked about “the lawsuit,” but it was clear that the Microsoft patent move was the subject. Benioff said the lawsuit wouldn’t derail the company’s focus and added:

I should just say right off the bat, we can’t comment on pending litigation. The reality is that these patent trolls are unfortunately just part of doing business and technology these days. They’re basically the alley thugs. Every thriving economy has alley thugs and we do too. And that’s fine. You know?

Personally, I’m just disappointed to see this from a former leader of our industry, but it’s eminently resolvable and it’s not material to our day-to-day business. It’s basically a no-impact situation. It’s not something that I think anyone needs to make anything of.

I think it probably has more ramifications for other cloud vendors than it honestly does for us because we’re so — we’re strong. And a lot of other cloud CEO’s have been contacting me and my heart goes out to them. Because I feel like that’s the real impact is that if you go through it, you can see where this is going. And there’s obviously a next step here and it’s not about us, it’s about others.

So that’s my unfortunate commentary on the state of our industry. It’s just what’s going on in our industry.

Microsoft’s racketeering [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] is indicative of a poor state. Software patents should be ruled illegal, unless of course Microsoft is named illegal for its distasteful behaviour which continues to this date. The “new Microsoft” is a bully, or an “alley thug” as Benioff put it.

“Microsoft retaliated against industry participants that supported DR-DOS. For example, when Z-Nix Inc. bundled DR-DOS 6.0 and Microsoft Windows 3.1, proclaiming no incompatibilities, Microsoft’s Brad Silverberg wrote: “look what znix is doing! cut those fuckers off.” Within three weeks, Microsoft demanded an audit of Z-Nix’s entire business and then commenced a copyright and trademark infringement action. Z-Nix was forced to file for bankruptcy in or around 1995″

Comes Petition [PDF]

Who to Blame for Germany’s Dangerous Decision Regarding Software Patents

Posted in Europe, IBM, Law, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 9:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Keep clean

Summary: Microsoft, Nokia, IBM, GE, Siemens, SAP, Philips and several other massive companies are largely responsible for Europe’s trouble with monopolies on algorithms

THE FFII’s president recalls a situation from 2004 when the Bundestag (Germany) debated software patents and stated: “The German Bundestag shares the conviction that technical inventions, even if they contain software components, must be amenable to protection by patent law. Nevertheless, the German Bundestag has arrived at the conclusion that the present state of opinions concerning the draft directive at the European level does, thus far, not provide sufficient solutions to central questions. The definition of the “technical contribution” of a computer-implemented invention as a requirement for its patentability represents a central item of the proposed directive. For reasons of legal certainty, the definition of the technical contribution therefore has to be shaped as precisely as possible in order to achieve sufficient quality control in the patent granting practice and to prevent the patenting of so-called trivial patents.”

Jan Wildeboer, a Red Hat representative who lives in Europe and used to advocate strongly for blocking software patents in Europe before joining Red Hat, blames Microsoft for what culminated in Siemens’ offensive action [1, 2] shortly after Microsoft had done something similar. “So Microsoft lobbying seems to have been successful in Germany,” wrote Wildeboer. “Congrats on giving us software patents after Vista and other quality products,” he added. Microsoft did lobby for this.

“Let’s be honest,” wrote one of our regulars, “Software patents are nothing more than a way for Microsoft to avoid competing fairly…which is why they’ve spent like drunken sailors getting software patents implemented worldwide – now EU. Myhrvold cheering at Insidious Ventures?”

“So Microsoft lobbying seems to have been successful in Germany”
      –Jan Wildeboer
The overwhelming majority of Microsoft's patents are software patents and there are a lot of debates in German right now over this disastrous development in Europe’s largest economy.

Florian Müller, a prominent German who deals with this problem, has already published his analysis and there is more about it in LWN (only in the form of a discussion as Müller blocks comments in his blog). He has also published ‘”Fair Trolls” To Fight Patents With Patents’ over at Slashdot where the "The Defensive Patent License" for Free/open source software is discussed (last mentioned a few days ago). What they are trying to do is create a legal mechanism like copyleft (using copyright law to fight copyrights) to turn software patents against themselves. The OIN more or less fails to achieve this goal although it can be effective sometimes [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

Right now we know that In Re Bilski in the main tool for eliminating software patents in the United States. It is a shame that IBM (whose former employee runs the USPTO) is in favour of software patents in Europe and assuming that the problem cannot be compartmentalised in the US and Japan, it is important to work to revoke Germany’s poor judgment on software patents before this decision spreads itself like a disease in European nations (the ‘second plague’). Tell IBM to oppose this decision in Germany, assuming that IBM cares about software freedom. Otherwise, this would not be the first time that IBM puts its profits before ethics in Germany. Another troublesome company in that regard is Nokia, which was spreading software patents in Europe through the United Kingdom with a key decision on Symbian a couple of years ago.

“[The EPO] can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway”, —Marshall Phelps, IAM: Microsoft to have 50,000 patents within two years, Phelps reveals

Advocates of Free/Open Source Software and Standards Do Not Welcome EU ICT Plan (Digital Agenda)

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Interoperability, Law, Standard at 9:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: The Open Source Observatory and Repository (OSOR) mischaracterises the response of Free/Open Source groups to Neelie Kroes and the Digital Agenda; we attempt to set the record straight

OSOR has come up with a misleading article that mistakes politeness for cautious acceptance. Glyn Moody calls it a “misleading headline” too. Readers can just for themselves:

Advocates of open source and standards cautiously welcome ICT plan

Advocacy groups on open standards and open source software cautiously welcome the European Commission’s five year ICT plan.

This page leaves out or forgets the FFII, which is a leading advocate in the said area. As we showed yesterday, the FFII is not too happy about the Digital Agenda. By contrast, Openforum seems fairly pleased.

Openforum Europe (OFE) welcomes the European Commission’s Digital Agenda, and commends Vice President Neelie Kroes for her determined effort to build an open, competitive and innovative ICT market for the benefit of citizens and businesses in Europe.

OSOR mentioned the statement from the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) which was summarised with: “Lack of Open Standards “gaping hole” in EC’s Digital Agenda” (clearly negative)

The European Commission has officially published its long-awaited Digital Agenda, outlining its policy plans for the next five years. “While it includes some important building blocks for Free Software, the omission of Open Standards rips a gaping hole in this agenda,” says Karsten Gerloff, President of the Free Software Foundation Europe.

Here are some other ones [1, 2] and there is the ECIS statement, which we haven’t mentioned yet. It goes like this:

ECIS commends European Commission for its Digital Agenda

BRUSSELS, 19 May, 2010 – ECIS is gratified that the European Commission’s “Digital Agenda” released today sets a timetable for making sure that government-purchased software adheres to open standards, so it will work smoothly and easily together, thus ensuring citizens have open access to their governments.

The European Committee for Interoperable Systems (ECIS) is also pleased that the Commission frowns on software that is hemmed in by closed, proprietary standards.

“As our name suggests, interoperability is a central tenet of our group,” said Thomas Vinje, counsel and spokesman for ECIS. “We’re pleased the European Commission has given broad support to interoperability, and gratified it believes government acquisition of software should adhere to open standards.”

“That approach assures that governments will avoid granting a monopoly to a proprietary software company, which can then charge citizens for the software they need to access and interact with their governments.”
      –Thomas Vinje, ECIS
The broad-ranging Digital Agenda focuses in part on the importance of making software work together. Among its conclusions are that because all technology is inherently standards-based, “Interoperability between these standards is the only way to make our lives and doing business easier – smoothing the way to a truly digital society.”

The Digital Agenda says member states should by 2013 carry out goals enunciated in April by EU Telecommunication Ministers during their meeting in Spain, whose Granada Declaration calls for the “systematic promotion of open standards and interoperable systems” for governments across the European Union.

“That approach assures that governments will avoid granting a monopoly to a proprietary software company, which can then charge citizens for the software they need to access and interact with their governments,” said Vinje.

Open standards permit inter-operation without the necessity of paying special fees. For example, the common electric plug is designed to an open standard. Anyone may build an electric plug without paying a royalty to design prongs to the right size and shape for a power point. In software, two of the best-known open standards are those that created the Internet and those that created the World Wide Web. Anyone may write software that works on the Internet or the Web, without paying special fees.

“These open standards have transformed the way we do business,” said Vinje of the Web and the Internet. They are clear examples of the way that open standards promote creativity and competition.

“Open standards will help create such things as health records that will be readable anywhere in the European Union, using a variety of software from a number of providers,” said Vinje. “They set the stage for economic growth. We’re gratified that the Commission is backing this approach.”

Open standards are distinct from “open source.” Using the latter, a group or company makes public the underlying source code of its program. Open standards are aimed at allowing pieces of software to work seamlessly together. Proprietary software business models based on open standards and open source business models both allow a high degree of interoperability and consumer choice. ECIS strongly believes that in adopting measures to implement the Digital Agenda, the EU should take care in ensuring that one particular model is not favoured over another, as long as the aims of openness and interoperability are met.

In summary, Free software groups are unhappy with the loophole that facilitates software patents (Germany’s situation with software patents [1, 2] will be discussed shortly), so it would be unfair to say that they “cautiously welcome [the] ICT plan”; they actually criticise it.

The European Commission needs to expose the lobbyists who derailed the “Digital Agenda” and those companies they represented. Some of them pretend to represent small European businesses while actually serving Microsoft. It is a known AstroTurf tactic when one takes over the opposition to misrepresent that opposition. Perhaps the European Commission got bamboozled. It ought to be mended.

Links 21/5/2010: Mandriva Linux 2010 Spring RC, Google Activates 100,000 Android/Linux Devices Per Day

Posted in News Roundup at 8:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Server

    • SGI advances Linux on the HPC front

      WORKSTATION AND SERVER VENDOR Silicon Graphics International (SGI) represents how a once fiercely proprietary company has been able to leverage open source for High Performance Computing (HPC), much to its benefit.

      Following multiple bankruptcies, a change of its iconic logo and replacing ‘Incorporated’ with ‘International’, SGI has learned the hard way that the time for going it alone is long gone. It many ways it has realised long before some larger companies that, rather than fight a losing battle against the open source movement, it should embrace it.


      Pointing to the resource meter, Goh explained that the code essentially was a memory allocation exercise to show how the firm can use a maximum of 16TB of RAM as a single memory space. Why stop at 16TB? Goh answered his own question by stating it was the limitation of the 44-bit virtual memory addressing in Intel’s x86-64 Xeon chip. He claimed that the chipmaker will be increasing the virtual address length to 46-bits in 2012, which will allow for even larger physical memory configurations.

    • Reboot

      gentooexperimental ~ # uptime
      11:21:14 up 463 days, 17:07, 2 users, load average: 0.39, 0.84, 1.62

  • Kernel Space

    • Open source industrial group joins the Linux Foundation

      The Linux Foundation (LF) announced that it has accepted the Open Source Automation Development Lab (OSADL) as a new Silver member of the non-profit organization. OSADL, which oversees the development of “Latest Stable” industrial real-time Linux kernel versions, among other projects, will collaborate with LF members on embedded and industrial Linux efforts.

    • The Experimental Nature of Linux

      So lately it is off to the races with new releases. With Ubuntu, Fedora, Red Hat, just to name a few having recently put forth their latest offerings. This will always be followed by the derivative distributions like Mint and Centos. So what is so great about all this new stuff? Well everything of course. Don’t you want to be on the latest and greatest version of the Kernel? Don’t you want access to new file systems like BRTFS?

    • Graphics Stack

      • The State Of The X.Org Server 1.9 Release

        Version 1.8 of the X.Org Server was just released at the start of April, but Intel’s Keith Packard who’s been serving as the release manager called for an even tighter release schedule with X.Org Server 1.9. Keith pushed plans for an August release of X Server 1.9. With that said, to meet that deadline, the merge window for the 1.9 release is closing at the start of June.

  • Instructionals

  • Games

    • Danger from the Deep

      Considering this game is in the alpha stage, it’s an extraordinary effort with nice graphics, a brilliant installer and even a small soundtrack! Submarine buffs, do yourself a favor, and check out this game.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • SystemRescueCd updated

        SystemRescueCD Logo The SystemRescueCd developers have released the fourth update to the 1.5.x branch of their Linux distribution. Based on the Gentoo LiveCD, the SystemRescueCd is configured as a tool kit for administering or repairing an operating system and recovering data after a system crash. Supported file systems include Ext2, Ext3 and Ext4, ReiserFS, XFS, JFS, VFAT, NTFS, ISO9660 and Btrfs.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mandriva Linux 2010 Spring RC isos are available

        Here comes the last development release for Mandriva Linux 2010 Spring. A few days left now before final release planned for 3rd of June. These isos are available on all public mirrors:

        * 32 and 64 bits DVD isos and mini dual iso (both 32 and 64 bits) for Free release (100% Open Source software)
        * live CDs One isos for KDE and GNOME environments (One isos will be available on monday)

    • Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu 10.04 filesystems and boot times

        I haven’t really mentioned it much, but the few times in the past month that I’ve used Ubuntu 10.04 have been rather disappointing. I haven’t dared install it on anything except this machine, and in most cases that’s been only borderline acceptable.


        Take away from this what you will; for me, it told me that the filesystem wasn’t the source of my problems, and that I didn’t need to micromanage the installation to find the source of my disk woes. I will be sticking with ext2 in spite of all the fear and loathing that early filesystems attract. But I’ll probably be sticking with Arch Linux too.

      • Ubuntu 10.04 Test Drive

        After playing around with the appearance options a bit, I’m even more convinced that the folks at Ubuntu have finally taken their graphics overhaul idea seriously. There are loads of easy options for changing window appearances, and even a nice bunch of attractive wallpaper. This is a huge upgrade from previous versions, where you got to either choose a subtle variant of brown, or go on the hunt for your own high-quality wallpaper.

      • Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx Review

        There were a few things that I didn’t care for, such as the clashing of colors and the fact that there are games installed rather than GIMP or VLC instead of the utterly horrid Totem. Additionally, my biggest annoyance is that while Ubuntu went out of its way to revamp its entire look, they went to someone else’s look. As for the look itself, it’s okay. The new logo is very nice. I liked it quite a bit. As far as the distro is concerned I was pleased. HUGE improvement over the Koala. Overall, I would rate Lucid Lynx an A- for newbie friendliness and usage and a B+ for looks. That last would have been an A- but I’m not fond of copycats.

      • Ubuntu Software Center Gets A History Tab (Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat Development)

        Here we go again: just like we did with Ubuntu 10.04, we’ll be providing news regarding important changes in Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat as soon as they are released.

        An update in Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat today (which didn’t even hit the first Alpha yet) brings a new “History” tab in the Ubuntu Software Center where the users are able to see all installed and removed packages…

      • Variants

        • Review: Linux Mint 9 Isadora

          All in all, Linux Mint 9 has been a pleasant surprise, probably the best 2010 distro release so far along with PCLinuxOS 2010. I obviously recommend it for anybody trying Linux for the first time, but also for experienced users, who should equally enjoy its great features. If you are an Ubuntu user who wanted to upgrade/install 10.04 but were disappointed with the end result, make sure you give Linux Mint 9 a try.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Qbo, Based On Linux, To Join Growing Field Of Open Source Robots

      Slowly but surely, the field of open source robotics has expanded, and we’ve covered some of the most promising robot projects before. These include the iCub, which runs on an open source software platform found here, and open source robotics competition entries, with participants from all around the world. Now, one of the more interesting new open source robots is Qbo (shown), a Linux-based robot from the folks at thecorpora.com.

    • Android

      • Google Now Activating 100,000 Android Devices A Day — 50,000 Android Apps

        Today at Google I/O Vic Gundotra made a big revelation. Last year, Google was activating 30,000 Android phones a day. The past February, that number jumped to 60,000. Today, Google is now activating over 100,000 Android phones a day.

      • Open Android vs. Closed iPhone

        I’d basically decided to switch to the Droid. The keynote on Day 2 was split between Android 2.2 and Google TV. I was completely blown away by Android 2.2. It doesn’t merely address each of the issues I have with my iPhone, it demolishes them. Google wasn’t bashful during the keynote about taking shots at Apple, which was fun to see. And as I sat there, I kept thinking about how far Android has come taking an entirely open approach.

      • Introducing Google TV
      • Google Unwraps Its Long-Awaited TV Platform; Plans To Ship In Fall

        With the introduction of Google TV, Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is now the latest company to try to bridge the gap between the web and the TV. The key feature of the long-expected platform, which the company is unveiling right now at Google I/O: A “quick search box” that lets users quickly look up and access TV broadcasts and web content. Engineers demonstrated how users could seamlessly switch between watching a video from anywhere on the web and watching a live TV broadcast. Users can also visit a website at the same time that they watch a broadcast—a scenario that could be useful if, for instance, somebody wanted to look up sports stats related to an ongoing game.

      • Schmidt Makes The TV Rounds Talking Google TV

        So, the usual question for Google (NSDQ: GOOG) in the wake of its announcement of Google TV: How will it make money from a platform that it will be licensing to device makers for free?

      • Um, Did Google Just Quietly Launch A Web-Based iTunes Competitor? Yep.

        Today at Google I/O, Vic Gundotra introduced Froyo, aka Android 2.2. But he also went a bit beyond Froyo. Coming soon, is a way to download an app through the Android Market over the web — and have it automatically download on your Android devices too. But that’s not all. Gundotra also showed off a new section of the Market — Music. Yes, an iTunes competitor on the web from Google.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Asus’ Eee PC 1201T ultraportable

        Slapping on Linux solves the cost issue, and devotees of open-source operating systems may rejoice at the prospect of dodging the infamous “Microsoft tax.” But does Linux really work as well as Windows on a system like this? And most importantly, is the 1201T’s hardware compelling, regardless of the OS situation?

Free Software/Open Source

  • ‘Future Is Bright For Open Source Enthusiasts’

    Q: What opportunities exist for FOSS and Linux experts in the IT industry? What are the reasons for this sudden demand?

    A: Open source is becoming the heart of enterprise computing, as it is the core of business applications in enterprises, allowing cost savings and improving processes. There is an increasing demand for free software tools as they are generally available at no cost and with functionalities similar to those available in commercial tools. With open source software and advancements in virtualised architectures, organisations gain the freedom to choose what applications and infrastructure software they want to evaluate (at no cost), which of these solutions they want to deploy and how they want to pay for that deployment — on-site licenses, hosted solutions, or software as a service (SaaS). Open source applications are now available for all common types of enterprise software-from databases, application servers and Web servers, to Web browsers and office applications, to network monitoring software and security software. The code base is stable, increasing the reliability of the software.

  • Mozilla

  • CMS

    • 7 (More) Best Free and Open Source Content Management Systems (CMS)

      Due to popular demand, we will give you another round of some of the best free and open-source Content Management Systems (CMS). This new set of CMS is as good as the previous list that we have so this should be interesting. Without any more delay, check out this new collection of some of the best free and open-source Content Management Systems (CMS)…

  • Education

    • Open source software in UK schools…it missed the boat

      Buying an Open Source solution is becoming much the same as buying a proprietary one…which is a good thing.

      Well, we have a new Government, spending cuts have begun and speculation about how schools will be affected is well under way. Naturally the likes of me are looking for clues as to how ICT in schools will be changed.

      Last week the NAHT railed against the excessive costs of outsourced ICT, this week yet another public IT project went belly-up as a result of naïve outsourcing. This time it was to a giant French IT company who promised the Met Police ‘massive savings’ in their Payroll and HR systems..hah!

      So is it safe to assume that the gloss is going off outsourcing?..maybe… it all depends on just how savvy are our new masters and mistresses in parliament.

  • BSD

    • OpenBSD 4.7 Released

      An anonymous reader writes “The release of OpenBSD 4.7 was announced today. Included in this release are support for more wireless cards, the loongson platform, pf improvements, many midlayer filesystem improvements including a new dynamic buffer cache, dynamic VFS name cache rewrite and NFS client stability fixes, routing daemon improvements including the new MPLS label distribution protocol daemon (ldpd) and over 5,800 packages. Please help support the project by ordering your copy today!”

  • Government

    • DK: Finance ministry: ‘Open standards advance competition, lower cost’

      Denmark’s ministry of Finance says that using open standards can increase competition and may help to decrease costs for the public sector. However, the ministry advises against moving to open standards without determining these cost benefits.

      Lars Frelle-Petersen, manager of digitisation at the ministry of Finance, expects that open standards will be increasingly important in the Danish public sector.

    • [UK] Joint plans for government published

      We will create a level playing field for open-source software

  • Open Hardware

    • Make-offs: DIY indie innovations

      As Andrew and other young makers become more familiar with the equipment used in industry and science, they will see new opportunities to build “knock-offs” using cheaper, reusable components that are open and adaptable to customization. We shouldn’t consider them “knock-offs” as we talk about what’s produced in China. As “make-offs,” they stand-out as examples of creative DIY innovation and collaboration. Make-offs are open platforms for doing new things, enabling more people to participate and develop the expertise to solve new and more challenging problems together.


  • Try the new IANA WHOIS server
  • Taylor Momsen Did Not Write This Headline

    Keep in mind that all of the things that make headlines meaningful in print — photographs, placement and context — are nowhere in sight on the Web. Headlines have become, as Gabriel Snyder, the recently appointed executive editor of Newsweek.com, said, “naked little creatures that have to go out into the world to stand and fight on their own.”

  • Crime

    • Chipmakers fined by EU for price-fixing

      Nine chip makers have been fined 331m euros (£283.1m, $404.2m) by European Union regulators for illegally fixing prices.

    • Facebook CEO’s latest woe: accusations of securities fraud

      May has been a bad month for Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, who just turned 26 last Friday but spent his birthday wrestling with an uproar over Facebook’s privacy practices. The latest unwelcome gift: accusations of securities fraud from former Harvard schoolmates who say he and other Facebook executives tricked them into a supposed $65 million settlement that was actually worth far less.

  • Science

    • Scientists create a living organism

      Scientists have turned inanimate chemicals into a living organism in an experiment that raises profound questions about the essence of life.

    • Craig Venter creates synthetic life form

      Craig Venter and his team have built the genome of a bacterium from scratch and incorporated it into a cell to make what they call the world’s first synthetic life form

  • Security/Aggression

    • New UK govt to curb CCTV, scrap ID cards, help open source

      The Britain of today is watched constantly by CCTV cameras, is preparing for a national ID card, slaps a “crown copyright” on most government data, and can now censor websites and eventually boot people off the Internet.

    • Sea lions, dolphins trained to foil terrorism

      A Navy seal – actually a sea lion – took less than a minute to find a fake mine under a pier near San Francisco’s AT&T Park.

      A dolphin quickly located a terrorist lurking in the black water before another sea lion, using a device carried in its mouth, cuffed the pretend saboteur’s ankle so authorities could reel him in.

    • UC Berkeley Asking Incoming Students For DNA

      UC Berkeley is adding something a little different this year in its welcome package — cotton swabs for a DNA sample.

  • Environment

    • Leaking Legitimacy

      Over the last month, it’s become increasingly clear that there is a coordinated information operations campaign in place to downplay the impact of the Gulf of Mexico oil spill. The US government and British Petroleum have imposed a scientific and media blackout to prevent the gathering of the information on the oil leak needed to generate precise estimates (specifically, updates to very low estimates made during the very early days of the crisis). Despite this blackout, credible outside estimates made possible by the little information that has trickled out show that the amount of oil leaking from the broken wellhead is upwards of twenty times the official British Petroleum and Government estimates — nearly 4,000,000 gallons a day vs. 210,000.

    • Answering an Age-Old Question: How Deep Is the Ocean?

      As long ago as 1888, John Murray dangled lead weights from a rope off a ship to calculate the ocean’s volume — the product of area and mean ocean depth. Using satellite data, researchers from the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI) set out to more accurately answer that question — and found out that it’s 320 million cubic miles.

      And despite miles-deep abysses like the Mariana Trench, the ocean’s mean depth is just 2.29 miles, thanks to the varied and bumpy ocean floor.

    • US top scientists urge coal, oil use penalties

      Ditching its past cautious tone, the nation’s top scientists urged the government Wednesday to take drastic action to raise the cost of using coal and oil to slow global warming.

  • Finance

    • Jobless claims rise by largest amount in 3 months

      The number of people filing new claims for unemployment benefits unexpectedly rose last week by the largest amount in three months. The surge is evidence of how volatile the job market remains, even as the economy grows.

    • Why Recoveries Can Be as Difficult as Recessions

      That’s why at SRC cash is now our No. 1 financial priority. We believe credit will remain tight, which means we need to work on the terms of our receivables and payables to give us maximum flexibility with our cash. We also know that cash is going to get more expensive over the next few years as interest rates continue to rise. So it makes sense for us to fix our borrowing rates for as long as we can right now.

    • Clients Worried About Goldman’s Dueling Goals

      Although Goldman had decided months earlier that the mortgage market was headed for a fall, it continued to sell the WaMu securities to investors. While Goldman put its imprimatur on that offering, traders in the same Goldman unit were not so sanguine about WaMu’s prospects: they were betting that the value of WaMu’s stock and other securities would decline.

      Goldman’s wager against its customer’s stock — a position known as a “short” — was large enough that it would have generated at least $10 million in profits if WaMu collapsed, according to documents recently released by Congress. And by mid-May, Goldman’s bet against other WaMu securities had made Goldman $2.5 million, the documents show.

    • SEC Report On May 6 Meltdown Discusses HFT, Has Not One Mention Of The NYSE’s “Supplementary Liquidity Providers”

      One thing that there is no mention of anywhere in the report, is the NYSE contraption known as Supplementary Liquidity Provider, a program created to give Goldman dominance over the DMM-parallel liquidity rebate system at the NYSE. One would think that the SEC would be aware of this program that was supposed to expire in early 2009, yet continues to be extended and provides Goldman and Getco with, arguably, unprecedented forward-looking information on order flow.

    • Dems Overcome GOP Filibuster With 60-40 Vote To Advance Financial Reform

      When at first you don’t succeed…

      After failing yesterday to get the 60 votes they needed to bring debate on a historic financial reform bill to a close, Senate Democrats succeeded in this afternoon’s cloture vote.

      The final vote today was 60-40 (yesterday it was 57-42). Next up is a final vote on passage, which is expected to take place within days.

    • Fading of inflation helps buyers and borrowers

      It’s a good time to buy a car or refinance a mortgage, thanks to super-low inflation and interest rates.

      Invest in a savings account? Forget it.

      Consumer inflation has all but disappeared, the government reported Wednesday. The Federal Reserve may now be emboldened to keep interest rates at record lows well into next year – and possibly into 2012.

    • Wall Street reform update: Uncertainty, anger and drama running high

      Last night, Chris Dodd (who is managing the Wall Street reform bill), introduced an amendment to gut the derivatives regulation that is at the heart of the bill. The original derivatives language had been written by Agriculture Chair Blanche Lincoln. It was pretty strong, as it required the biggest banks to sell off their derivatives departments. Dodd’s proposal would delay implementation of Lincoln’s language by two years, and probably forever, by requiring a series of studies led by people opposed to those portions of the bill (such as leading Obama administration figures).

    • Collins To Vote With Reid To End Financial Reform Debate
    • Reihan Salam Joins Club Wagner
    • Agencies consider new rules post-plunge

      Nearly 21,000 trades were canceled because exchanges deemed them erroneous after the “flash crash,” which sent the Dow Jones industrial average down nearly 1,000 points in less than 30 minutes. Many retail investors were affected, and senators pressed at the hearing for remedies.

    • The Betterness Manifesto

      We can feel it, I suspect, most of us, deep in our gut. Bailouts, global debt crisis, fourth estate destroyed, nature ravaged, future stolen. Welcome to the roaring teens.
      Unless we do something about it, there won’t be much of a tomorrow.

      Here’s the score. The global economy faces a series of tectonic structural shifts. The great gears of this vast machine must be reset over the next decade. Consumption must fall. Savings must rise. Investment must be more productive. Incomes and wealth must be shared more broadly. Borrowing from tomorrow must slow. The rate at which we value the future must grow. Growth itself must be revitalized.

      Think of it as a great reboot of prosperity itself. How will it happen? Who will reset these great gears? Institutions are the “dials” that tune the gears, that set the rates. Exurbs, corporations, arms-length exchanges, industries, resources, “profit”, and “GDP”. All that’s the stuff of the industrial era. Yet those are the institutions that still surround us today. A better kind of prosperity demands a new set of institutions. New kinds of cities, companies, communities, markets, capital, contracts, growth (to name just a few).


      Real change doesn’t begin with governments, presidents, or prime ministers. It begins with each of us. In the 20th century, never-ending mass-marketing, monopoly, and mega-politics came together to convince us, each and every one, that we’re not really free: just free enough to choose between different flavors of the same old toxic junk. It was a trick, a ploy, a television hallucination. We’re the freest people in history. It’s time to use it like we meant it.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Travellers to be searched for porn

      Australian customs officers have been given new powers to search incoming travellers’ laptops and mobile phones for pornography, a spokeswoman for the Australian sex industry says.

    • Germany Asks Google to Surrender Private Data

      Google came under increased pressure in Europe on Tuesday over its collection of private data from unsecured home wireless networks as a German regulator threatened legal action if the company did not surrender a hard drive for inspection.

    • Pakistan court orders Facebook ban

      A Pakistani court has issued a ban on the social networking site Facebook after a user-generated contest page encourged members to post caricatures of Prophet Mohammed.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Debate Erupts Over WHO Police Work Against “Counterfeit” Drugs Trade

      The only internationally agreed definition of “counterfeits” is at the World Trade Organization, where it is defined as a violation of trademarks, say those who oppose the term. It is “devoid of value” in the absence of a clear understanding said India yesterday and as such is a “nonstarter.” There is further concern that the vague definition could interfere with trade of low cost generic medicines. Brazil said falsification of medicines was a critical issue, but it had a problem when “private commercial interests wage a war” within the WHO against generic medicines. Spain on behalf of the European Union Wednesday acknowledged that the term counterfeit gives rise to certain confusion, but said the term could be clarified.

      The Brazilian ambassador told Intellectual Property Watch there are concerns about both fake generics and fake brand-name medicines. But, “if we want to fight medicines that have intellectual property problems, let’s go to the WTO, WIPO [World Intellectual Property Organization].” At WHO, the focus should remain on “quality, safety, and efficacy.”

      Michelle Childs and Tido von Schoen-Angerer from Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF, Doctors Without Borders) told Intellectual Property Watch that the experience of the organisation from its field work is that substandards are the primary threat, not counterfeit. The credibility of the WHO needs to be in addressing these concerns and helping to find a solution, they added, saying the drive for intergovernmental processes indicated a lack of certainty from some states that WHO would act in a way that protects their interests.

    • Google fights the Hollywood tech veto

      Ever since the Web was spun there has been tension between Silicon Valley and Hollywood.

      Generally, Hollywood has won.

      The passage of laws like the Digital Millenium Copyright Act (DMCA), and their strict enforcement not just by American cops but by foreign trade representatives, is well-known.

    • Claws out over ‘geekgirl’ trademark

      Two prominent women in the Australian IT industry are in a bitter dispute over the ownership of the trademark “geekgirl”.

      The two women concerned are Sydney-based IT consultant Kate Carruthers and Melbourne-based creator of the world’s first online cyber-feminist magazine Rosie Cross.

    • Copyrights

      • Entertainment Industry Gets Politicians To Advertise File Sharing Sites

        But, apparently one ridiculous list isn’t enough. The RIAA and MPAA have convinced a group of US elected officials, who have dubbed themselves the “International Anti-Piracy Caucus” to put out a list of file sharing websites that it hates… and with it, an attempt to shame the companies where those websites are hosted. The timing on this is amusing, because, of course, just last week, you would have needed to put the US on the list, as LimeWire would have likely been seen as just as widely used for unauthorized file sharing as some of those sites.

      • Nice Work ASCAP: Convinces Yet Another Coffee Shop To Stop Promoting Local Bands

        We see nearly identical stories every six months or so, but Chris Curvey has sent in the latest involving the various US collection societies — ASCAP, BMI and SESAC threatening a little coffee shop into canceling all live music, after demanding a performance license, despite the fact that the coffee shop only has local, unsigned bands playing, with a promise that they won’t play any cover songs. It’s the same old story that we hear over and over again. The venue insists that only unsigned bands are playing, and they’re not playing ASCAP music, and ASCAP says that it doesn’t matter.

      • Giganews Lawyer Says Steal This Film Is An Illegal Download

        As the once minority activity of downloading from newsgroups enters the mainstream, ever-more aggressive copyright-related lawsuits are doing likewise. In this environment Usenet-related companies are becoming increasingly careful to keep their behaviors entirely legal. Leading Usenet provider Giganews has taken the concept to a whole new level.

    • ACTA

      • Help sign the Written Declaration 12/2010 about ACTA
      • Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement: Impact on Individuals and Intermediaries

        The Australian Digital Alliance has released Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement: Impact on Individuals and Intermediaries.

        Here’s an excerpt:

        ACTA might have a negative impact on individuals as Internet citizens and as consumers of digital technologies because some of its requirements go beyond Australian law. ACTA will facilitate excessive damages payouts by mandating the controversial ‘lost sale analysis’ for the assessment of damages and encouraging punitive style statutory damages that set arbitrary amounts for infringement. ACTA will also broaden the scope of commercial scale infringement to criminalise purely private acts that occur in the homes of some Australians, and will create a new criminal offence for ‘camcording’. ACTA may strengthen existing procedures to lock up copyright material and prevent Australians from accessing or using it in certain legitimate ways.

      • A Chance to Act on ACTA – Now

        Despite all the excitement over the Digital Economy Act and minor things like general elections, the great ACTA machine is still grinding away in the background, slouching towards Bethlehem to be born.

        But there’s hope: the European Parliament has shown itself unhappy with the way the process is being conducted, in secret, and without any kind of democratic oversight.

    • Usenet Death Watch

      • A Piece of Internet History

        This week marks the end of an era for one of the earliest pieces of Internet history, which got its start at Duke more than 30 years ago.

      • Usenet’s home shuts down today

        Duke University in North Carolina is where Usenet began, and today the institution is shutting down its Usenet server. The college cites “low usage and rising costs” for the decision.

      • Duke To Shut Down Usenet Server

        Rantastic and other readers wrote about the shutdown of the British Usenet indexer Newzbin today; the site sank under the weight of a lawsuit and outstanding debt. Combine these stories with the recent news of Microsoft shuttering its newsgroups, along with other recent stories, and the picture does not look bright for Usenet.

      • Usenet gets attention and Giganews tries to avoid it?

        When the poorly thought out strategies for dealing with online copyright infringement started to take effect, I said at the time that we would see a migration towards Usenet. I am aware of whats called the “first rule of Usenet” which is not to talk about Usenet, but since I have no interests in infringing copyright by downloading such material and my Usenet interest is mainly comp.os.linux.advocacy, I really don’t have a problem breaking that “rule”. I expect what passes today as “the scene” will have words about that.


        I would suggest that people put the IPkat out for the night and realize this problem is far too deep routed for any one (or collection) of court victories to change.

Clip of the Day

NASA Connect – World Space Congress (1/2/2003)

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