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05.28.10

Today We Conquer Algorithms, Tomorrow… Earthly Life!

Posted in Intellectual Monopoly, Patents at 9:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Satellite of Extraterrestrial Civilization

Summary: Patent violation upon birth — the new “original sin”? The MPEG cartel also patents genes

THE scope of patenting keeps expanding and lawyers are unable to resist this temptation to enrich themselves with more unnecessary monopolies, this time on genes. Here is a new article titled “Monopolists of the Genetic Code?” (also in the Financial Times with some related news elsewhere)

Last week, Craig Venter created a media frenzy – and a frenzy of bioethical hand-wringing – when he announced the creation of the first “synthetic cell.” In reality, his team of researchers had created the first synthetic genome, the operating system of the cell. They had, in effect, switched the operating system of a particular cell to a new operating system that they had synthesized and edited.

Though many of the headlines talked of Venter being God and having created life in the lab, that is not an accurate way to describe it. Venter started with a particular naturally occurring cell and effectively, de-compiled, analysed and then painstaking edited and reassembled that cell’s genome to create a version of the cell never found in nature. Researchers had already synthesized the genome of the polio virus, creating a genome that would actually “produce” a live virus that infected mice in the lab, but the size of that initiative was several orders of magnitude smaller. The significance of what Venter’s team did lay in the scale of the enterprise and the mastery of the code that it demonstrated. It is as if I took your computer, copied the operating system, figured out what each part of that system did, pruned, cut and edited its functions, and then reloaded a substantially edited system back into the computer – a version which actually proved capable of running it.

The life of a computer, just like the life of a human, mustn’t become the property of one person or a group. That’s just abuse and it should be reported as such. For those who don’t know, the patent troll MPEG-LA also has a cartel going on around genes. Here is a press release from last month. Larry Horn is also a threat to people’s lives now.


MPEG LA Launches Initiative to Make Gene Patents Available for Diagnostic Testing

Licensing Facility Balances Open Access with Innovation to Deliver Diagnosis and Treatment

DENVER, Apr 08, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) — MPEG LA, LLC, world leader in alternative one-stop patent licenses, today announced a market-based initiative for a diagnostic genetics patent licensing facility that addresses the market’s need for nonexclusive access to patents for diagnostic genetics tests leading to personalized medical solutions that save lives and reduce healthcare costs.

“Diagnostic genetics testing holds great promise as a driver of precision therapy, but patent thickets and restrictive licensing arrangements threaten their delivery,” said MPEG LA President and CEO Larry Horn. “The recent case of Association for Molecular Pathology vs. USPTO, Myriad Genetics and University of Utah Research Foundation (US District Court for the Southern District of New York) suggests the need for a solution that balances social cost and open access with innovation incentive. Applying its leading mass market patent licensing expertise in service to the healthcare market, MPEG LA is prepared to deliver it. We welcome all owners of relevant patents to join those who have expressed their support for this effort.”

By aggregating patent rights for existing and emerging tests that may lead to personalized treatment (e.g., hereditary hearing loss in infants, breast cancer, ovarian cancer, cardiovascular disease, Lynch syndrome) and licensing them nonexclusively for diagnostic use, MPEG LA’s diagnostic genetics patent licensing facility, or “supermarket,” will assist laboratories, testing companies and researchers in obtaining rights they need to design comprehensive diagnostic genetics tests that the market wants, thereby making these tests widely available through multiple channels at affordable prices.

In the current marketplace, many patent owners restrict access to their intellectual property in order to protect and promote their own tests, and others do not make their patents available at all because the costs of licensing them in isolation from related patents are prohibitive. By providing the public with wide access to tests that rely on the availability of these patent rights, MPEG LA’s licensing supermarket will afford patent owners — including those who currently restrict access or refrain from licensing — a new and financially attractive, low risk opportunity to make diagnostic patent rights available to a wider market through broader, more inclusive tests. As such, the MPEG LA supermarket intersects cost effectiveness with effective treatment, alleviating the social costs of current gene patenting and licensing practices while preserving the investment incentives that enable developers to bring new genetic tests to market.

MPEG LA, LLC

MPEG LA is the world leader in alternative technology licenses, enabling users to acquire worldwide patent rights necessary for a technology standard or platform from multiple patent holders in a single transaction as an alternative to negotiating separate licenses. Wherever an independently administered one-stop patent license would provide a convenient marketplace alternative to assist users with implementation of their technology choices, the licensing model pioneered and employed by MPEG LA may provide a solution. Among MPEG LA’s licenses is one for MPEG-2 digital video compression that has helped produce the most widely employed standard in consumer electronics history. The MPEG-2 Patent Portfolio License, which includes more than 870 MPEG-2 essential patents in 57 countries, has more than 1500 licensees accounting for most MPEG-2 products including set-top boxes, DVD players, digital television sets, personal computers and DVD Video discs in the current world market. MPEG LA is an independent licensing administrator; it is not related to any standards agency and is not an affiliate of any patent holder. For more information, please refer to http://www.mpegla.com.

SOURCE: MPEG LA, LLC

MPEG LA, LLC
Tom O’Reilly, 303-200-1710
Fax: 301-986-8575
toreilly@mpegla.com

Corruption Around Microsoft Shares Settled

Posted in Finance, Fraud, Microsoft, Novell at 8:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Goldman Sachs
The company which made corruption a standard
practice, a ‘norm’ to merely be settled

Summary: Pequot to settle for $28 million after illegal behaviour (inside trading); new shuffles at Microsoft after an inside-trading president, Robbie Bach, left the company

THE Pequot case is one that we previously covered in [1, 2, 3]. This case of fraud — just like Microsoft's fraud and Novell's fraudends up being settled (which is often an implicit admission of guilt).

Pequot Capital Management and its chief executive, Arthur Samberg, agreed to pay $28 million to settle the SEC’s charges that the firm traded shares of Microsoft based on insider information.

As a side note, now that Microsoft struggles to reinvent itself [via] and key people are leaving [1, 2], we happen to find out that “MSFT switches E&D CFO Mindy Mount to online services,” according to Tartakoff who reads many Microsoft insiders’ comments. It’s truly a game of musical chairs after the inside trader Robbie Bach left this company.

“Behind every great fortune there is a crime.”

Honor de Balzac

“We’re in the Era of Digital Video, and It’s a Mess,” –Steve Jobs, MPEG-LA Proponent/Lobbyist

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Patents at 8:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Troll face
Jobs does not soften with age

Summary: A collaborator of the MPEG cartel shows his disregard for culture and sympathy for Hollywood as well as patent trolls

“We’re in the era of digital video, and it’s a mess,” Steve Jobs once said. Right now it is Steve Jobs who is causing or at least adding to this mess.

As we pointed out before, Steve Jobs is an enemy of anything that’s available to people in places like Africa, where people are unable to buy licences from patent trolls such as MPEG-LA (never mind buying overpriced merchandise from Foxconn the company with the apple-shaped logo). Steve Jobs is interested in selling shiny toys, not in enabling people to access those things he calls “era of digital video” and “mess”. What a lovely guy. Pogson writes:

Google’s VP8 FLOSS video code and WebM file format are brewing a bit of a turf war and the old guard is circling the wagons around H264. There is an idea to add VP8 and WebM to HTML5. That would ensure that everyone with any browser or OS could use HTML5 properly but the old guard wants to make money from HTML5 by holding patents and charging licence fees to use a video codec.

We have already covered the subject in:

To say a little more:

In a perfect world, we would have no software patents and everyone would be capable of using the best technology available. However, for now, we will have to put up with these types of laws and patents. The best that could happen in the present scenario is one where MPEG-LA announces that the situation currently existing (till 2016) would be extended in perpetuity.

Isn’t it funny that Steve Jobs is sidling with the patent trolls, whereas Google is distancing itself from them? Wayne puts it like this: “The Enemy Of My Enemy Is My Enemy Or Why VP8 Is Important Even If It Came From Google”

This does not make Google our friend. Google didn’t do this for the consumer. Google did this for Google. The largest user of Flash video is this small site called YouTube, which curiously enough is owned by Google. That Google’s actions will do the consumers good is a byproduct of Google trying to make money. Google doesn’t really care about the consumer, it only cares about Google.

There’s been a lot of articles about VP8, from a variety of publishers, which can be found here, here, here, etc. Some of the most important ones were written by Dr. Roy at Techrights, who has my utmost thanks for all the research time he saved me.

But everyone seems to be missing something. What if VP8 becomes the de facto standard? Remember that VP8 is an open standard. Totally open. This means that adding DRM to it will be difficult, if not impossible. So VP8 kills off Windows Media Video (WMV) and Quicktime as a video standards, just like MP3 killed off Windows Media Audio (WMA) and Quicktime as audio standards. Remember that one of the reasons that Microsoft and Apple fought MP3 was because MP3 wasn’t compatible with DRM, and the Frauhoffer Institute controlled the specification. Now we have the same situation with VP8, and we already know that Steve Jobs is panicking. You have to ask yourself why…

Simple – VP8 will destroy the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, ACTA, the new Canadian Copyright Act, the WIPO copyright treaties, and every other law which attempts to protect DRM. The ripping noise you hear is Hollywood tearing it’s hair out in clumps.

And now you know why the patent trolls at MPEG.LA are trying to sidetrack VP8 adoption. Which still doesn’t make Google our friend. Remember that.

The MPEG cartel and Apple are not the only antisocial participants here; Microsoft too turned its back and it goes further by suing Salesforce without provocation that could somehow justify it.

“Salesforce says Microsoft suit could hurt profit,” states the headline of this new article from Reuters.

Salesforce.com Inc (CRM.N) said a recent lawsuit by Microsoft Corp (MSFT.O) could hurt Salesforce’s profits for one quarter, though the litigation is unlikely to derail the company’s overall financial health.

Microsoft filed a complaint on May 18, charging that Salesforce’s web-based software for managing sales activities infringes nine of its patents.

The software giant alleged that Salesforce.com was using its technology in software menus, toolbars and graphical interface features, as well as in the way that it obtains data from remote computers.

We have already covered this case in the posts below. Software patents are economically injurious.

Links 28/5/2010: KOffice 2.2 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 7:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • [It's GNU/Linux]
  • Introductions

    • Linux jargon buster

      Linux is growing in popularity but unless you’re up to speed with its jargon the open source operating system could make no sense. We offer a short, plain-English guide to some of the key concepts used by Linux users.

    • Why are you Scared of Linux?

      Note: Before you read this Article I want to tell you that I am a big Linux fan and Linux being an open source Operating System is doing a Great Job.

      Most of the people I know think Linux is very difficult for a layman to understand. They fear that after installing Linux they will not be able to do the normal tasks they do with Windows and thus they prefer paying money to Microsoft instead of even trying Linux.

      There are lot of reasons behind this. Few reasons that I could figure out are:

      1. Lack of Advertising about Linux compared to Windows. I understand that Linux is an open source product while Windows is Commercial but still I feel that there is lot of scope for advertising.

      2. Lack of Awareness among the Retailers of Computers who advise the buyers to go for Windows instead of Linux. Some times its not just lack of awareness but also to gain more commission on the part of the retailer.

      [...]

    • 7 Tips to help your friends move to Linux

      One of my favorite geek shirts is my ZaReason ‘Friends help friends use Linux’ shirt, which I was in the mood to wear last night after I helped my friend move to Linux. My non-technical friend was suffering from a sickly Windows Vista PC. She’d caught herself a nasty virus (she blames an old Red Hot Chili Peppers video, but we’ll never know for sure). Other people had suggested that my budget-conscious friend move to Linux.

      Tip #1: Don’t tell your non-technical friends to move to Linux. Please, just don’t do this. If you do this, you set them up to hate it. Your friend might be like my friend, who just wants her email, music, and internet to work. My friend doesn’t want to install, configure, or troubleshoot. Yes, she’s certainly smart and capable enough, but she’s just not interested. She’s got two teenagers and some chickens to raise and a business to run, and she’d rather live without her computer than spend hours tweaking it. I told my friend I’d be right over to see whether I could help, and I brought along my laptop, a couple of Linux DVDs, and my external hard drive to rescue her music and photos. Friends help friends move.

  • Desktop

    • Linux = Windows anti-virus? Not!

      Recently, I’ve come across a few interesting, yet misleading articles debating the pros and cons, mostly pros, of using this or that Linux distribution as the ultimate solution to Windows security problems, including frequent malware infections and reinfections and other related issues. While the overall conclusion might be correct, the specific analogies used to prove the point and bring you to said conclusion are most erroneous.

    • What You Use

      So, it seems as if the only applications people miss when using Linux are games and Adobe CS. This will hopefully be less of a problem in the future with Steam coming to Linux. As for the Adobe Suite, I do not see Adobe taking an interest in Linux any time soon, but PlayOnLinux supports some of the Adobe applications. Otherwise, people are forced to look for alternatives to CS. Quite often, people choose Adobe Creative Suite for the layout of the applications, not for their functionality. GimpShop can replace Photoshop, but anything else would require a bit of a learning curve.

  • Ballnux

    • OpenSUSE 11.2 Review – GNOME Desktop Environment

      In conclusion, OpenSUSE is a very nice looking OS, and it has one of the easier installers out there on the market. But if I see it again in any way, shape, or form, at any point in my life, it would be too soon. I’m going to be extremely nice and give OpenSUSE a one and a half out of ten, and would recommend to everyone to stay as far away from it as you can. I didn’t bother looking at documentation, which I admit, might have been a good idea, but if I could break it as easily as I did, no amount of documentation would ever encourage me to use it ever again.

  • Applications

  • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

    • KOffice 2.2 released

      More than six months after the release of KOffice 2.1, the KOffice developers have announced the release of version 2.2 of their open source office suite. KOffice is composed of the KWord word processor, KSpread spreadsheet, KPresenter presentation manager, KPlato project management, Karbon vector graphics editor and Krita, a raster graphics editor.

    • KOffice 2.2 Released
  • Distributions

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • The Spring 2010 Linux Distro Scorecard

        Debian is one of the most successful free software projects that many new users have never heard of. Debian is an entirely community developed Linux distribution with no single commercial backer. While many companies contribute to Debian in one way or another, it’s a purely independent project, driven entirely by volunteers. Debian has a large developer community and is the basis for many other projects, including Ubuntu.

        Debian has a very developer-centric community. It’s driven by its Social Contract to remain free, give back to the larger community, be open with its problems, and be guided by the needs of its users and the free software community. There’s an intense focus on technical excellence and shipping free software. Debian does allow some non-free repositories, but they’re not “officially” part of Debian.

      • Parallelism in Debian GNU/Linux Booting

        That is a big improvment over the minutes we spend waiting/please waiting on XP on our old hardware.

      • Ubuntu

        • Spinning off from Ubuntu

          Ubuntu is probably the best known desktop GNU/Linux distribution at street level, picking up new users by word of mouth and astute viral marketing. So much so that for many users new to Linux, Ubuntu has become synonymous with Linux. Linux is Ubuntu; and Ubuntu is Linux. But Linux and free software come in many different flavours, and the adventurous user goes in search of wider options, other distributions and new desktops.

          Ubuntu is easy to install, easy to update, and easy to manage, which makes it attractive to first time users and long term Linux enthusiasts alike. It has a regular six-monthly upgrade cycle, which makes it easy to keep up with the latest and greatest with the minimum of fuss, but also has drawbacks in the form of occasional reliability issues.

        • Ubuntu 10.04 brings Linux closer to the mainstream

          No Windows viruses. Free. Any questions?

          Of course. Start with this one: How can an operating system with those virtues, the open-source Linux, remain confined to a tiny minority of desktop and laptop computers at home?

          Linux may run TiVo video recorders and live inside Android phones, in addition to running much of the Internet’s servers, but it still lags on home PCs.

          Will that change anytime soon? A new version of a consumer-oriented edition of Linux, Ubuntu (http://ubuntu.com), offers hope for Linux optimists but leaves room for doubters, too.

          Ubuntu 10.04, nicknamed “Lucid Lynx,” comes from London-based Canonical, but like other open-source releases it benefits from other programmers who have improved its source code.

        • Application Menu (Global Menu) For Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10 Is Available For Testing

          The Global Menu for Ubuntu Netbook Edition 10.10 has just been uploaded to a PPA (it’s still building, but should be ready in a few minutes). The new “global menu” is called “Application Menu” and it can be installed in Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx already (both in GNOME and KDE).

        • Proprietary

          • Ubuntu One

            Ubuntu One offers a couple of subscription options. Choose from the free subscription plan and receive 2 GB of storage or pay a monthly fee for more storage and additional features.

            Subscribers can upgrade, downgrade, change billing information or cancel a subscription at any time. Choose the Account tab on the Ubuntu One website to view details or make any of these changes to your account.

            Ubuntu One uses Ubuntu SSO (single sign-on) for user accounts. If you already have an Ubuntu SSO account or even a Launchpad account, you can use the same username and password.

          • Landscape 1.5: The Implications for Ubuntu Customers and Partners
  • Devices/Embedded

    • New KaOS KVM based hypervisor available for download – under 10MB with OS embedded in the kernel.

      Carbon Mountain has recently released a new version of its open source KaOS Hypervisor – Version 0.6.0.0. Based on the popular Linux kernel and utilizing KVM technology, KaOS is built from the ground up to contain many innovative features that make it ideal for today’s highly complex and agile virtualized environments.

    • Nokia

      • Hands-on: MeeGo for netbooks picks up where Moblin left off

        Moblin 2 had its own custom Web browser that brought together a unique Clutter-based user interface and Mozilla’s Gecko HTML rendering engine. It was a very compelling idea because it opened the door to a browsing experience with rich visual affects and more fluid platform integration. Although the concept is intriguing in theory, it was very difficult for Intel to execute on. The custom browser was incomplete and somewhat dysfunctional when we reviewed Moblin last year. Intel has ditched the custom browser and chose to adopt Google Chrome for MeeGo.

      • Nokia, Opera side with Adobe on Flash

        Nokia and Opera Software have taken sides in the Adobe-Apple battle over Flash multimedia support: They are in the Flash camp.

    • Android

      • Acer unveils Android smartphone and teases with a tablet

        Acer announced an Android 2.1 smartphone called the Stream, offering a 1GHz Snapdragon, a 3.7-inch AMOLED WVGA display, and a five-megapixel camera. At the device’s Chinese launch, the company also showed off a LumiRead e-reader with a 6-inch grayscale display, WiFi, 3G, and an ISBN scanner, and provided a brief glimpse of a seven-inch Android tablet.

      • I/O 2010 Words and Faces

        I worked like a madman right through I/O 2010 and went straight from there to an internal meeting and from there to my Mom’s 80th-birthday bash, so there hasn’t been much time for reflection. I can’t find a theme to organize my notes by, so what you get is a dozen poorly-sequenced take-aways interspersed with seven faces.

        The faces are here because I did a bunch of short interviews with strangers and got the idea of pointing my 40mm pancake prime at people straight-on and close-up, and found the results compelling enough to share. I don’t know all the names so I won’t mention any.

      • Pick of the best Android phones

        Motorola Milestone

        The Milestone, otherwise known as the Droid in other markets, is a neat package, coming in at just 13.7mm thick. Even more impressively the Milestone has a slide-out full QWERTY keyboard as part of the package.

        The 3.7-inch touchscreen is every bit as good as the HTC Hero’s screen, the most common of the Android phones.

        The Milestone runs Android 2.0 and supports Quad-band GSM and dual-band 3G support. The Milestone also supports multi-touch support, which the Droid in the US didn’t.

        The 5MP camera, WiFi and A-GPS is fairly standard, as is the MicroSD slot and 256MB of RAM.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • OLPC rules out Windows for XO-3

        One Laptop Per Child won’t use Microsoft’s Windows OS on its upcoming XO-3 tablet, which will run Linux, OLPC’s CTO said Thursday.

        OLPC’s chairman Nicholas Negroponte last year said that the organization was “urging” Microsoft to make a full version of Windows available for the earlier XO-2, which was also based on the Arm processor. The XO-2 was later canceled.

        The XO-3 will also use an Arm processor, but OLPC is ruling out loading multiple versions of Windows on the tablet, said Ed McNierney, OLPC’s CTO, by e-mail Thursday.

        “We have no evidence that Microsoft will make full-featured Windows 7 available on Arm, and that’s their decision,” McNierney said.

    • Tablets

      • ARMed Armies Attack

        The onslaught of ARMed devices will continue indefinitely. Check out the smartphone/tablet Dell has announced. We still do not know the price of it but all they have to do to get some action is be in the neighborhood of the iPad which has fewer features: no Flash and no phone.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Mozilla

    • Mozilla prepares coders for Firefox 4 features

      It was with delight that I read these words on Thursday: “The proposed IndexedDB standard, which provides a local database store for Web applications, will be supported by Firefox 4.”

      The statement appears on Mozilla’s new Firefox 4 for developers site, boding well for those of us who use the Web a lot: the IndexedDB interface gives Web applications a way to work even without a network connection.

    • Chromium on Ubuntu 10.04 Slower than Firefox?

      I finally tried my ISP’s DNS servers and that seemed to take hold, though I don’t know why. It shouldn’t make a difference but I’ve been surfing from my Lucid Lynx VM for two days now without a hitch. That leads me to my second problem.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • FSF take on Apple’s App Store over GPL2 code

      The Free Software Foundation has said it has approached Apple because a GPL2 licensed application, a port of GNU Go, is available from Apple’s App Store. The FSF say that distribution through the App Store is not in compliance with the GPL’s conditions because they clash with Apple’s terms and conditions. The developers of the application, are also not in compliance with the GPL as they do not currently distribute the source for the application. Brett Smith, writing on the FSF blog, is at pains to say that the FSF have not sued Apple or made any legal demand and says the only reason they are announcing this is because Apple has removed applications from the store before without explanation and that they want to prevent wild speculation.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Hancom to lose government office monopoly

      This is important news. The crucial paragraph:

      “The National Assembly Research Service (NARS), a parliamentary unit that provides policy research and analysis for legislators, now claims that government organizations should be required to use software products that support open standards. The idea is to eventually allow government documents to be created, read and edited by a wider variety of office applications run on any type of computer operating system, NARS said.”

      But let’s continue:

      [...]

      Supposedly, according to an Hancom spokesperson, ““ODF is supported on Hancom Office 2010, which was released last year.” But I do wonder what “supported” means here; as well, as the article points out,

Leftovers

  • Finance

    • UniCredit Chief Sees Euro Regaining Trust

      The failure of investors to treat the euro area as a unified market could set a dangerous precedent for the bloc’s future, according to the chief of the giant European cross-border lender UniCredit.

      “If I say I am not funding a company because it’s a Spanish company or a Greek company, we have a problem,” Alessandro Profumo, the chief executive, said during a recent interview in Paris. “This is a way of thinking on the topic that could create serious problems.”

    • Nudity and the Financial Markets

      Last week Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany banned naked credit-default swaps on the bonds of European governments and naked short sales of the stock of the country’s 10 most important financial institutions.

    • United States and Germany remain divided over financial regulation issues

      Top U.S. and German officials on Thursday acknowledged differences over key financial regulation issues, and they said a “broad agreement” on basic concepts may not produce uniform rules in all the world’s capital markets.

    • Lehman Brothers estate sues J.P. Morgan Chase

      The estate of Lehman Brothers Holdings sued J.P. Morgan Chase, alleging that the firm helped drive Lehman into bankruptcy by forcing it to give up billions of dollars in cash reserves that it otherwise could have used to stay afloat.

      The suit, filed Wednesday, says J.P. Morgan forced the now-failed bank to put up collateral in the days before it collapsed that sapped Lehman of cash that, at the least, would have enabled it to wind down operations in an orderly process.

    • Mortgage rates are back near record low

      Turmoil in the stock market and the European debt crisis are making life easier for American homebuyers and families looking to refinance: Mortgage rates are inching closer to a record low.

      The window of opportunity may close soon. Home loan rates will rise if investors grow more confident and shift money out of the safety of government bonds, which influence mortgage rates.

    • House Approves Pared-Down Spending Bill

      The House of Representatives approved pared-down legislation that would extend long-term employment benefits and revive several popular business tax breaks.

      Friday’s vote came after Democrats patched divisions within their ranks over the bill’s impact on the nation’s budget deficit. The wide-ranging bill comes with a 10-year, $115 billion price tag, about half the cost of a more ambitious package unveiled just days ago.

      The legislation represented a modest but hard-fought accomplishment for Democratic leaders, who struggled for several days to build consensus on the measure, amid demands from fiscally conservative Democrats for greater financial restraint.

    • Republican senators want ‘fair’ process for Wall St. bill

      Senate Republicans sent a letter Thursday to the top Democratic Wall Street reform negotiators, Sen. Chris Dodd of Connecticut and Rep. Barney Frank of Massachusetts, laying out the key principles they believe will lead to a successful merger of the House and Senate bills.

    • The Cult of Subprime Central Bankers

      The world is suffering from the worst downturn since the Great Depression. The crisis has left tens of millions unemployed in the U.S., Europe, and elsewhere. The huge baby boomer generation in the United States, now on the edge of retirement, has seen much of its wealth destroyed with the collapse of the housing bubble.

      It would be difficult to imagine a worse economic disaster. Prior periods of bad performance, like the inflation ridden seventies, look like mild flurries compared to the blizzard of bad economic news in which we are now enmeshed.

    • Wall Street’s War

      The real shocker is a thing known among Senate insiders as “716.” This section of an amendment would force America’s banking giants to either forgo their access to the public teat they receive through the Federal Reserve’s discount window, or give up the insanely risky, casino-style bets they’ve been making on derivatives. That means no more pawning off predatory interest-rate swaps on suckers in Greece, no more gathering balls of subprime shit into incomprehensible debt deals, no more getting idiot bookies like AIG to wrap the crappy mortgages in phony insurance. In short, 716 would take a chain saw to one of Wall Street’s most lucrative profit centers: Five of America’s biggest banks (Goldman, JP Morgan, Bank of America, Morgan Stanley and Citigroup) raked in some $30 billion in over-the-counter derivatives last year. By some estimates, more than half of JP Morgan’s trading revenue between 2006 and 2008 came from such derivatives. If 716 goes through, it would be a veritable Hiroshima to the era of greed.

    • Are Goldman Sachs and the Megabanks Able to Wipe out an Entire Economy with a Keystroke?

      “We have found no evidence that these events were triggered by ‘fat finger’ errors, computer hacking, or terrorist activity, although we cannot completely rule out these possibilities,” a recent Securities Exchange Commission (SEC) report on the so-called May 6 “Flash Crash” that wiped out a cool trillion in a mere half-hour weakly admitted. “Much work is needed to determine all of the causes of the market disruption.”

    • Goldman Sachs’ Morality Play

      After SEC civil charges were lodged against the firm on April 16, Goldman executives mounted a vigorous public defense. Two weeks later, when reports surfaced of Main Justice’s emerging criminal probe directed at both the company and an individual executive, Goldman’s tone suddenly changed from recalcitrance to conciliation. No surprise–settlement of the civil case is now in negotiation. The mere threat of corporate criminal indictment appears to have changed Goldman’s, and the government’s, game plan entirely.

    • FT: GS Seeks to Pay “$100s of Millions” to Resolve SEC Charge

      Forget the settlement, I want to know this: Who was the dipshit lawyer that advised Goldman Sachs to fight this tooth and nail? Was it some executive who simply charged ahead, Dick Fuld style? I’d like to know who totally failed to anticipate the political climate, the public reaction, the prosecutors attitude, and myriad factors that has turned this into a giant disaster. Even if GS were to prevail in court, they have already lost. The reputational damage is already measured in $ billions, and will last years if not decades.

Clip of the Day

NASA CONNECT: Atmospheric Detectives (11/19/2003)


IRC Proceedings: May 28th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

How Apple Grabbed KHTML, Overrode It, Then Trademarked the Work

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software, FSF, GPL, KDE at 12:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Why join the navy if you can be a pirate?”

Steve Jobs

Apple headquarters

Summary: Apple’s hoarding of control continues now that WebKit™ (originally KDE codebase) becomes a project it can control even by name

EVERYONE’S MOST POPULAR sect technology company is all about sharing love and distributing code — so much so that the code it took from KDE some years ago (leading to a controversy because it had not committed to giving back) is not only maintained in state where it’s centralised under Apple (with Google increasingly participating too) but it’s also becoming a real ownership of Apple in the naming sense. Need companies start asking Apple for permission in order to use the word WebKit™, which roughly translates to “KHTML the Apple way”?

Apple files for WebKit browser trademark

WebKit, the open-source project behind Apple’s Safari browser, is a pretty obscure name to ordinary folks. And perhaps Apple wants to keep it that way, judging by Apple’s May 18 WebKit trademark application.

Now that Apple is under fire for GPL violations (as stated by the FSF, which wishes to prevent Apple from illegally using GNU code against GNU itself), one ought to (re)think about Apple’s role in Free/Open Source software — code which worked pretty well for Apple, as long it ‘consumed’ and gave little or nothing in return.

“Theres always a group of people that wants to undo the forces of industry that have given us so much in terms of wealth, and theres always people who want things to be free. The open-source movement starts with those sort of people. But it still has such good points that have nothing to do with whether its free or not. The idea of developing something and then making your solution known. Spread the information so the world can grow from it.”

Steve Wozniak, Apple co-founder, 2007

Microsoft Brings George Orwell’s 1984 to Great Britain in 2010

Posted in Database, Europe, Microsoft at 12:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

George Orwell

Summary: Inhumane practices are being implemented in the United Kingdom (UK) for Microsoft to become richer and the British population tracked through finger-based surveillance

MICROSOFT Corporation, the company which US congress accused of “enabling tyranny”, is now bringing its tyrannical practices to the UK. Having already helped implement an ID card scheme in India (the UK is canning its own plan for ID cards and thank goodness for that), Microsoft will now participate in the fingerprinting of toddlers, who shall be catalogued like books and numbered based on their small gentle fingers (which the “bad guys” would love to have). From The Telegraph:

Children, 4, ‘to be fingerprinted to borrow school books from library’

Students in Manchester are having their thumbprints digitally transformed into electronic codes, which can then be recognised by a computer program.

[...]

But critics said they were “appalled” at the system, developed by Microsoft which is also being trialled in other parts of the country.

Thank you again Microsoft for protecting those children from paedophiles, terrorists, and those evil evil evil people who borrow a textbook from the library without permission (we all know what a menace to human kind they can be, having gained knowledge!!). Sadly, you failed to protect the children’s fingers, which will now become a hotter commodity.

“Sadly, you failed to protect the children’s fingers, which will now become a hotter commodity.”Having already hijacked the irreplaceable British Library, Microsoft keeps looking for new national assets and institutions with which to make entire states totally dependent on Microsoft, even for curation and long-term access to historical records that are invaluable items.

With just a bunch of developers, Microsoft seems to be doing more damage than many years with Labour have wrought upon human rights (and I am not against Labour at all, just their policies that neglect people’s liberties and freedoms, which were long fought for).

How to Kill a Software Company (Picture)

Posted in Microsoft, Novell, Quote, Ron Hovsepian, Steve Ballmer at 11:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ron Hovsepian and Steve Ballmer

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.”

George Santayana

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