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06.14.10

IRC Proceedings: June 14th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

Read the log

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Bill Gates Lobbies in Nigeria for Governments (Taxpayers) to Solve Polio Problem That Gates’ Investments in Oil Are Creating

Posted in Africa, America, Bill Gates, Finance at 6:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation- Truth Revealed

Part II

Summary: Bill Gates’ latest lobbying in the United States, Nigeria and new ventures in Argentina too; this post covers many strands of operation where PR hides very simple facts (see the videos above for background)

SOME OF the conflicting interests in the Gates Foundation are amusingly obvious, but it’s not exactly amusing when lives are at stake. To give one recent example, Gates invests in tobacco and in tobacco prevention at the same time [1, 2]. Perhaps both sides can be profitable, but that’s just speculation.

“Gates has been investing in BP for several years and he invests in other large oil companies, so it’s not exactly an accident.”To give another more concrete and new example (new in the sense that it makes headlines right now), Bill Gates invests in BP [1, 2] while also investing in “green” energy. Which is it then? Can one invest in both sides? Like financiers who fund both sides in a war? Just because one invests in two conflicting sides does not make it any less profitable. The two sides do not necessarily cancel each other from an outsider’s point of view. In fact, it can become twice as valuable.

United States

We found it rather comical that Bill Gates himself was warning about oil spills. That’s the same guy who is investing in BP. He relies on the fact that many people do not know this. Gates has been investing in BP for several years and he invests in other large oil companies, so it’s not exactly an accident. Now, watch the latest words that are coming out of the mouth of this BP investor:

Gates, venture capitalist Doerr issue warning about America’s future

The ever expanding BP oil spill, in a sense, provides Bill Gates the perfect backdrop for selling Congress and the White House on a proposal to increase annual U.S. spending on clean energy research and development from $5 billion to $16 billion.

The report above — a news report from IDG — forgets or neglects to mention he’s a BP investor (still). We have looked around some more, surveying some articles from the past week. All other articles about BP and Gates neglect to mention their relationship, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4].

Here is the article from AP, titled “US must invest in clean energy research: Bill Gates”

So what is he trying to say? That his government should invest in “clean energy research” (which he and his friend Nathan Myhrvold have a stake in because of patents they acquired) while he and his foundation continue to invest in “dirty energy” like BP?

If someone can find an article that points out the BP investment (and therefore Gates’ hypocrisy), please do let us know. We try to commend authors who properly investigate and have the guts to challenge the rich people’s foundations. It’s not just the modus operandi of Gates.

Here is Bill on TV, poised to talk about “clean energy”. Yes, Mr. BP Gates (also an Exxon Mobil investor) must be the perfect man to talk about “clean energy”, right? He’s rich, so he knows everything.

Microsoft’s founder and chairman talks oil and clean energy on “This Week.”

How can he talk about the subject with a straight face?

There are more TV appearances about this. The Gates Foundation is good at getting those spots. It is a well-greased PR machine, putting him on TV and instructing him on what to say and how to behave (as Microsoft admittedly did too) [1, 2].

“We find it rather ironic that Gates currently gives instructions to the government; his past experience in the government is being grilled in a chair for abuses he committed.”According to other reports, Gates is traveling around the world lobbying. We’ll start with the United States. Gates was lobbying the White House earlier this month. He is making many visits to the White House [1, 2, 3] as though he was actually elected in some way to run the country. What did he go to the White House for? Not to donate but to lobby the government to spend — i.e. pay on behalf of taxpayers — for something which Gates is trying to sell [1, 2]. We find it rather ironic that Gates currently gives instructions to the government; his past experience in the government is being grilled in a chair for abuses he committed. Years later they swap chairs as he rides a high horse.

According to Microsoft Nick, Microsoft’s Brad Smith is also lobbying for Microsoft this month in Washington. It wasn’t long ago that Smith worked to legalise and defend/justify Microsoft’s tax evasion.

This lobbying-fest is not over yet. According to another new report, “Mr Ballmer goes to Washington for China pirate gripe” (they mean counterfeiting, not “piracy”).

Big name bosses at 12 tech companies are meeting with US lawmakers and White House officials to complain about illegal software copying in China.

According to the Business Software Alliance lobby group, 79 per cent of China’s computers ran on counterfeit software in 2009.

But wait, there’s more.

Microsoft’s criminal lobbyist (Abramoff) is coming out of jail right about now. This disgraced man may not return to a life of politics, but either way, it’s worth keeping an eye on this crook who helped Bill Gates derail US law for Microsoft's financial benefit.

Convicted lobbyist Abramoff set to leave jail this week or next

And what timing: Documentary on scandal begins Friday

Three and a half years has passed since the incarceration of onetime Washington power-broker Jack Abramoff.

And as soon as this week, or next, Abramoff will he on his way out the doors of a federal prison and into a halfway house, where he will reside until he’s formally released.

So far today we have shown that the top people from Microsoft are all lobbying heavily this month. But not only the United States is the victim here. They take it overseas, too (colonisation).

Nigeria

Gates has gone lobbying in Nigeria where he invests in harmful oil operations that cause polio and kill/maim many Nigerian children (see 7:00 onward in part I of the videos above). This was shown quite graphically by an expedition of reporters from the Los Angeles Times.

“Gates has gone lobbying in Nigeria where he invests in harmful oil operations that cause polio and kill/maim many Nigerian children…”Here you can see Bill Gates lobbying the Nigerian president Goodluck Jonathan (who tells people to stop dropping his name). What have they got in common? Well, news reports say that it’s about polio [1, 2], but once again, rather than speak about how Gates’ investments cause polio (like his BP investments help destroy the environment), those two discuss the very opposite, pretending that Gates just cures polio. The “Nigerian leader lauds Bill Gates on polio,” according to local reports. Is that the same Bill Gates who helps cause polio with his investments in Nigerian oil that leaks into rivers and pollutes the air because it’s much cheaper to treat it this way and the Nigerian population is unable to properly sue companies like Shell? My Nigerian friends here in the UK have told me about this. It is an issue that a minority is aware of and those who campaign against this injustice are sometimes hired by the very same companies which they criticise (because it gags the critics, who receive money for their loyalty or silence). That’s just corruption.

Despite the issues raised here, Gates’ PR people seem to be pushing dishonest stuff (maybe ghostwritten because it’s in English) into local newspapers. They are sometimes advertising Microsoft in the process (as though polio and Microsoft are connected). Just watch what Microsoft does to Nigerian schools [1, 2].

According to additional reports, Gates lobbies other high members of the Nigerian government, makes bold claims that neglect his contribution to polio, and then asks taxpayers to pay for the projects he has in mind. See this article from Reuters. It’s the usual trick of getting taxpayers to pay the pharmaceutical companies which Gates invests it, with Gates acting as the key lobbyist for it:

Global polio fight to get needed funds -Bill Gate

[...]

The World Health Organization has suggested a budget of $2.6 billion for its polio eradication efforts in 2010-2012, but says it faces a shortfall of about half of funds for that period.

For those who do not know, the UN and WHO (people who hang out even in Gates’ private mansion) are publicly criticised for their ties with Gates’ foundation. UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moo is particularly close to Gates and this new article reminds us of that (we have many prior examples and stories).

Behind the scenes at Women Deliver, whose speaking list included UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, Melinda Gates of the Gates Foundation, Margaret Chan of the World Health Organization, politicians, policy makers, celebrities and others from around the world, people said they were perplexed by Canada’s policy on funding for maternal health.

Ban Ki-Moon is working alongside his friends from the Gates family and their agenda becomes one [1, 2]. This is widely criticised on occasions and the interests at play are seen as controversial.

The Guardian report which we mentioned last week is further supported by yet another report from the US press:

Reports accuse WHO of exaggerating H1N1 threat, possible ties to drug makers”

European criticism of the World Health Organization’s handling of the H1N1 pandemic intensified Friday with the release of two reports that accused the agency of exaggerating the threat posed by the virus and failing to disclose possible influence by the pharmaceutical industry on its recommendations for how countries should respond.

That’s why we named both the UN and the WHO.

Here is a new video which is only days old. From the description: “How do foundations like the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation distort the public health agenda? Is there a nexus between big pharmaceutical companies, health foundations and NGO’s? What is state’s responsibility?

“Newsclick talks to Prof. Shree Mulay to get answers for all these questions.”

This video deserves a watch from those who want to understand why they make allegations that the foundations “distort” the health agenda and that “they tend to focus on [too] few things”.

Going back to Nigeria, Gates did find time for some shameless PR like this:

Gates signs soccer ball in Nigeria

Bill Gates, cochair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, added his support to the Kick Polio Out of Africa campaign this week, signing a soccer ball that is making its way through the continent before the 2010 World Cup.

This type of gesture is just so reminiscent of old-age charlatans who traveled the world as imperialists and gave gifts to buy the locals’ consent/trust. There are other examples of PR in Nigeria, but we won’t descend into that because this post is already too long. The gist of this story and the message to take away is that despite reports like this one (AFP), Gates is also investing in companies that cause polio. The mainstream press does not mention this because it stays in line with the rest (which is influenced by heavy PR). Here is a criticism of Gates’ lobbying (visit) in Nigeria:

Bill gets it right here when he says it is both good work and good luck leading to continued control. In the following story the author appears to have mixed up Bill’s work and the work of the Gates Foundation. Does the Foundation encourage this confusion?

In order to keep false allegations and straw man arguments out, we will separately post some other ideas which are brought up in light of “family planning” (contraception) funding and Eugenics conspiracy theorists who will probably make a big deal out of the fact that the “Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is connected to the Council on Foreign Relations and Melinda Gates is herself a Bilderberger.” To quote in full from this new post:

A quick Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) search revealed that the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation is connected to the Council on Foreign Relations and Melinda Gates is herself a Bilderberger.

Earlier this year we showed the relationship between the World Bank and Bill Gates. Well, according to this new report from AFP, they produce another self-serving ‘study’ about Africa:

World Bank health efforts failing in Africa: study

[...]

The survey funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation said the international lender and its partners’ approach “is not achieving intended outcomes,” especially against diseases like tuberculosis.

We have already explained how Gates invests in the suppliers of those drugs which are priced out of reach.

Argentina

Bill Gates is taking this Africa-style programme to Argentina, which is abused a lot by Microsoft these days [1, 2, 3]. According to this last report, “Bill Gates [is going] to Finance Argentine Vaccine Development Program”

An Argentine scientist’s project to develop vaccines taken orally will receive funding from the foundation headed by Bill Gates, the Argentine government said Saturday.

Argentina learned the hard way (several decades ago) that rich people from the north are not exactly interested in the welfare of the Argentinian population. They ought to watch this with great caution.

Links 14/6/2010: OSI Wants Input

Posted in News Roundup at 3:54 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • Not using desktop Linux? You’re wasting your money

      And that’s not the only place where desktop Linux makes sense. If you get right down to it, there are many instances where the only requirements of the desktop are to act as a portal to a Web-based application and possibly run an email client. With the push toward Web-based internal apps, there’s little reason to require Windows at all. Heck, there’s almost no requirement for a desktop or the ability to run anything other than a compatible browser.

    • Microsoft sells software like its 1984

      The software store I describe is not science fiction. This is reality for Apple “App Store” for Ipad/Iphone, the “Ubuntu Software Center” for Canonical’s Linux-based desktop operating system, the Google “Android Market” for Android Linux-based phones, and Palm “PreWare” for WebOS Linux-based phones.

      Ladies and Gentelmen, the platform-delivered software store is how distributed in the 21st century. Unfortunately for Microsoft, no such thing exists for Windows.

    • NanoNote
  • Ballnux

  • Kernel Space

    • Volume Shadow Copy For Linux?

      “I was asked to manage a number of Linux servers at work. I would like to use volume snapshots to improve my backup scripts and keep recent copies of data around for quick restore. I normally manage Windows servers and on those I would just use Microsoft’s Volume Shadow Copy for this. I tried Linux LVM snapshots, but most of the servers I manage run regular partitions with ext3 file systems, so LVM snapshots will not work. I found some versioning file systems out there like ext3cow and Tux3. Those look interesting, but I need something I can use on my existing ext3 file systems. I also found the R1Soft Hot Copy command-line utility, but it does not yet support my older 2.4 Linux servers. What are you using to make snapshots on Linux?”

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

      • KDE SC 4.5.0 – Beta 2 – Another Quick Look

        Obviously, the move from beta 1 to beta 2 won’t bring any new features, however, as I continue to use the KDE SC 4.5 betas, I’m continuing to discover the small improvements that aren’t obvious at first blush. Whilst there aren’t a huge number of new features in this release, 4.5 is bringing a level of polish that will serve as a solid foundation for the next steps in the evolution of the KDE desktop.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Next Gedit release will have a plugin for Collaborative Editing

        We have already talked about a web-based collaborative editing tool today, Etherpad. So, after that I started looking for some native linux applications which do the same thing and came across Gobby and a new collaboration plugin for Gedit. We can talk about Gobby sometime later, I am more interested to tell you about this new plugin in Gedit .

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Comparison: Best 2010 Linux desktop for begginers

        There you have it, a close comparison between these three fabulous Linux distros, resulting in very evenly matched scores. I personally love all three, each having its own character, strengths, but also weaknesses. Having said so, looking strictly for which one offers the smoothest and most intuitive experience, I would probably have to say that Linux Mint 9 is the winner in my opinion.

        Hopefully this comparison will help you make your choice based on your own needs and taste. I am pretty sure any of the choices is a sure winner.

      • Pardus 2009.2 review

        Recommendations – Pardus 2009.2 is a light-weight desktop distribution. Light-weight because it does not support disk encryption, boot-loader password protection, and LVM and RAID. If those are features you can live without, then Pardus is worth at least a try. It is just like Linux Mint, but with fewer applications in its repository.

        What I’m looking forward to in the next release is for the network interface and the graphical firewall manager to be configured out of the box. I’ll also love to see 3D desktop configuration as a step in Kaptan.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • PCLinuxOS Gnome 2010 on ACER ASPIRE 4730ZG

        My friend ask to me to install linux to his notebook. And i install it with pclinuxos 2010 my custom remastered. The notebook is Acer Aspire 4730 ZG. This is the specification of Acer Aspire 4730 ZG (look at this pic).

    • Fedora

      • Can Fedora be the new Ubuntu?

        Fedora Linux has found its way back into my heart. It will work alongside Ubuntu as my top two Linux distributions. We’ll see just how they place (1 or 2) with the next iteration.

        Bravo Fedora Linux. I tip my hat to you.

    • Canonical/Ubuntu

      • Meet Shotwell – The F-Spot Replacement For Ubuntu 10.10 “Maverick Meerkat”

        Finally! The much discussed about F-Spot vs Shotwell battle is over. The new default image organizer app for Ubuntu Maverick 10.10 is going to be Shotwell. This is a much needed change and F-Spot was simply not enough. Most of the times when I tried F-Spot, it just keeps crashing on me. Shotwell on a other hand feels a lot more solid and is better integrated with GNOME desktop. Shotwell is also completely devoid of Mono.

      • Ubuntu Replaces F-Spot With Shotwell

        “Finally! The much discussed about F-Spot vs. Shotwell battle is over. The new default image organizer app for Ubuntu Maverick 10.10 is going to be Shotwell. This is a much-needed change; F-Spot was simply not enough. Most of the times when I tried F-Spot, it just keeps crashing on me. Shotwell on the other hand feels a lot more solid and is better integrated with the GNOME desktop. Shotwell is also completely devoid of Mono.”

      • Shotwell – The Future of Linux Photo Management Software
      • Ubuntu Making Moves

        Word on the street is F-Spot is out and Shotwell is in for the next release of Ubuntu.

        It’s always been obvious to me that the so-called “best-of-breed” Mono apps were anything but, and it’s nice to see that Team Apologista spin isn’t getting the job done any longer.

        It’s always struck me as seventeen kinds of absurd that a simple note-taking application can justify bringing in a huge run-time framework – and the after-the-fact rationaliztion of adding more Mono apps “since we’ve already paid the price” was a PR dance worthy of Team Apologista’s Redmond Puppet Masters.

        Of course, Mono infestation is not purely an Ubuntu problem – GNOME has deep shame staining its hands in this matter as well – but because Team Apologista has targeted Ubuntu so hard, it’s significant -and encouraging – to see their efforts fail.

      • Improve Software Quality

        Today I and some hundred others on LinuxTag in Berlin attended a keynote by Mark Shuttleworth, the “head dreamer” of the ubuntu Linux distribution.

      • Proposed Ubuntu 10.10 installer changes will make installation faster, friendly, intelligent
      • Cardapio menu applet gets web search and preferences

        Our favourite alternative to the main Ubuntu menu applet has received an update today which makes it easier to configure settings and also includes a new plugin to perform Google searches right from your desktop!

      • Meritocracy vs. Democracy

        The definition for ‘Informed’ is: “To supply (oneself) with knowledge of a matter or subject.” How do you do this without coming to a consensus with the community? I don’t care who makes the decisions in the end, but to be informed you must listen to the community. And to “fix” a problem you must first understand the problem and know the best solution, the users must not still have a problem, otherwise it’s not a proper solution and the “decisionmaker” was not “informed.”

        Mark Shuttleworth doesn’t make good decisions. As for Jono, the community manager job is NOT to make excuses for bad decisions, it is to represent the community (just as we in the U.S. elect each person to represent us, this is democracy, and this is how good software is developed.)

      • Mark Shuttleworth’s business concept is flawed

        Last week an old discussion flared up once again when TildeHash published “Meritocracy vs. Democracy”, a long lament for.. the position of a few buttons!

      • Ubuntu a Work in Progress

        I didn’t get to see Jono Bacon’s post Ubuntu: meritocracy not democracy until today. Shame I missed it, I like reading this stuff.

        [...]

        Of course scale that up to 12 million users and you suddenly see why some people want to start having democracy or at least hierarchy. Users can’t reasonable expect to be listened to, even though their input is vital to drag Ubuntu out of the programmer paradise and into the mainstream.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Android

      • Motorola’s 2GHz Android Phone Means Business

        Motorola’s turning up the heat on the smartphone market — and this time, it’s not only casual consumers the company’s eyeing.

      • Motorola’s Milestone XT720: Is This The Next Droid?

        Motorola’s poppin’ out Android phones Kate Gosselin-style this month. Just days after announcing its new Motorola Flipout, Moto has taken the wraps off the Milestone XT720, dubbed as “one of the most powerful phones” in the company’s current Android lineup.

      • Battleship of an Android phone sets Sprint sales record

        According to a statement from Sprint, Friday sales of the HTC EVO 4G topped the single day sales of any other phone in the company’s history — though the company didn’t give exact numbers. The previous record was held by both the Samsung Instinct and the Palm Pre.

      • Touchless Gesture Control Coming to Android Devices

        Looking to put a little more “Minority Report” in your life? Or maybe you’re just tired of smudging the screen on your Android device? eyeSight Mobile Technologies may have the answer: Touchless gesture control.

      • It’s time to make gestures at your Android smartphone

        Eyesight develops natural user interfaces for mobile phones. Its gesture technology allows Android devices to use the device’s built-in camera, advanced real-time image processing and machine vision algorithms to track the user’s hand motions and convert them into commands.

      • China, Taiwan Agree on Android, Ophone, WiMax, TD-LTE, More

        It’s official. China and Taiwan have signed an agreement to promote a number of telecommunications technologies, including Google’s Android mobile software and networking technologies for wireless cities.

      • Google’s Android may win backing from China and Taiwan
      • Mobile Payments Startup Boku Launches In-App Billing Library For Android

        Fresh off an announcement of a strategic investment from VC firm Andreessen Horowitz, mobile payments platform Boku is taking its mobile strategy one step further by launching an in-app mobile billing library for Android.

      • The Apple-Google Mobile Battle Continues As Other Platforms Sit and Watch

        Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch may currently be the most popular mobile browsing devices in North America, but handsets using Google’s Android operating system are quickly eroding Apple’s lead. Over the past year, Android browser share on mobiles has increased 12.2 percent and is now used by one in five mobile web users in North America, according to Quantcast, a San Francisco-based web analytics firm. While browsing is down on nearly all other platforms, Apple’s drop is the steepest, down 8.1 percent in the last 12 months. But Android’s gain can really only take a bite out of Apple as everyone else is essentially sitting on the sidelines.

    • Sub-notebooks

Free Software/Open Source

  • OSI and FSF Ideals

    • Your Chance To Change OSI

      When I said recently that we still need the Open Source Initiative (OSI), it started a flood of comment. There’s no doubt that we need OSI – but we need a better OSI. The one we have now is just too small to be effective and too mired in past successes; a renaissance is needed. You can help.

      Yesterday and Today

      OSI was formed in 1998 to solve a pressing problem. The founders embraced the ideals of software freedom, but saw that businesses – being non-persons – lacked any way to embrace a philosophical principle. To advance software freedom, it needed to be pragmatically “projected” onto the surface of the computer industry of 1998, creating rules that could be followed without demanding ideological “purity”. The result was a focus on a certain kind of advocacy, plus an enormously valuable effort to analyse, categorise and selectively endorse copyright licenses. OSI was the pragmatic projection of software freedom onto the computer industry of 1998.

    • Open Source? Free Software? What we need is Open Projects

      Most of these questions are well understood within the free software community itself. But we generally communicate it poorly by focusing the discussion on license technicalities. I guess this is because we’re so used to working in this open manner that we take the it as a given. But users, especially in the public administration only see the licensing side of things because that is the only aspect we talk about and have definitions for.

      A good exception for this is the Apache Software Foundation that has a well-defined set of rules that projects must follow before they can be adopted under the ASF umbrella. Maybe FSF and OSI should also publish some understandable guidelines and definitions for project openness?

    • Opinion: Binary firmware and your freedom

      I suggest that instead of these scapegoat tactics and acting as if they solve any real issue, efforts should be focused on encouraging manufacturers to publish open specifications for their chips and open the source code for their firmware, whether it lives inside the hardware or gets loaded by the kernel. And let’s commend those manufacturers that allow their binary firmware to be conveniently distributed with the Linux kernel instead of punishing them by blacklisting their devices. That could be a first step toward improved communication with hardware manufacturers, which in turn might make truly free firmware more likely in the future.

  • Business

    • Why there are no billion-dollar open source companies

      This is a suggestion that has come up before (Dave Neary’s post from 2008 springs to mind). As he stated: “Free software doesn’t get developed like proprietary software, why should the free software industry look like the proprietary software industry?”

  • Openness/Sharing

    • More than 6,500 comment on coalition policies online
    • Evening Standard almost in profit after going free

      It seemed barely credible that London’s evening paper would succeed as a giveaway. But the power of old-fashioned print advertising revenue has moved it to the brink of profitability

    • How does “public service” work for media and culture in the 21st century?

      With digital technology and internet distribution, we are all producers. The outputs of our diverse cultural institutions are converging in the digital domain. Public funding policy needs to be reformed and converged to match.

    • Should the U.S. support Internet freedom through technology?
    • How Open Web Developers Are Trying to Make Social Media Better for You, the User

      Last week, a new open protocol called OExchange was released with the aim of simplifying sharing. Right out of the door, it had names like Google, Microsoft, and LinkedIn signed on. WebProNews spoke with Google’s Open Web advocate, Chris Messina about how the protocol could benefit businesses and site owners.

    • Abundance Obsoletes Peer Review, so Drop It

      Recently, I had the pleasure of finally meeting Cameron Neylon, probably the leading – and certainly most articulate – exponent of open science. Talking with him about peer review helped crystallise something that I have been trying to articulate: why peer review should go.

      [...]

      For me what’s particularly interesting is the fact that peer review is unnecessary for the same reason that copyright and patents are unnecessary nowadays: because the Internet liberates creativity massively and provides a means for bringing that flood to a wider audience without the need for official gatekeepers to bless and control it.

    • Free Wi-Fi is Just a Small Part of Starbucks’ Plan: Free Access to Paid Content Coming Fall 2010

      Starting July 1st, Starbucks will finally begin to offer free and unrestricted Internet access over Wi-Fi in its stores. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz made this announced at Wired’s Disruptive by Design conference today. With this, Starbucks finally joins the ranks of neighborhood coffee stores all over the world that have long offered free and easy access to Wi-Fi. By Fall 2010, Starbucks also plans to give Internet users in its stores free access to paid sites, including the Wall Street Journal.

    • Open Data

      • Launch of it.ckan.net for open data in Italy!

        The following guest post is by Stefano Costa and Federico Morando. Stefano Costa is a researcher at the University of Siena and Coordinator of the OKF’s Working Group on Open Data in Archaeology. Federico Morando is Managing Director & Research Fellow at the NEXA Center for Internet & Society and a member of the Working Group on EU Open Data.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Peer review provides £209,976,000 public subsidy to commercial publishers

        The Open University’s Martin Weller looks at the Peer Review Survey 2009′s numbers on free participation by UK academics in the peer review process for commercial science journals and concludes that 10.4m hours spent on this amounts to a £209,976,000 subsidy from publicly funded universities to private, for-profit journals, who then charge small fortunes to the same institutions for access to the journals.

  • Programming

Leftovers

  • Unix in the UK: Mission critical!

    Hewlett-Packard has blades on the brain for both “industry standard” and “mission critical” servers, but IT managers in the United Kingdom seem to be more worried about the cost of their mission critical platforms, generally Unix boxes, according to a report released by Coleman Parkes Research.

  • Hey, Remember The Searchbag?
  • Mind Over Mass Media

    NEW forms of media have always caused moral panics: the printing press, newspapers, paperbacks and television were all once denounced as threats to their consumers’ brainpower and moral fiber.

  • Science

    • Arctic microbes ‘could survive on Mars’

      Canadian boffins say they have discovered a strange form of microbe living in remote Arctic springs which would, if taken to some parts of Mars, be able to survive there.

  • Security/Aggression

    • Face-to-face passport interviews catch only eight fraudsters

      A multi-million pound scheme to tackle passport fraud has been branded a failure after it was revealed that only eight people have been caught as a result of the project.

    • Gary McKinnon and Flat Earth News

      My interest in the Gary McKinnon extradition case was based on a sense of mismatch.

      The case as routinely portrayed in the media did not seem to relate to the case as set out in the relevant legal judgments.

      Moreover, the discussion of the case in the media rarely, if ever, referred to the case as it would appear to someone who had read the judgments.

    • U.S. Identifies Vast Riches of Minerals in Afghanistan

      The United States has discovered nearly $1 trillion in untapped mineral deposits in Afghanistan, far beyond any previously known reserves and enough to fundamentally alter the Afghan economy and perhaps the Afghan war itself, according to senior American government officials.

    • Geopolitics in the raw

      I have been wondering for a while just what we — the west in general — are doing in Afghanistan.

      Iraq was pretty obvious: oil. (Don’t listen to the mouth, watch the hands.) It wasn’t anything as crude as grabbing the oil — stealing around ten billion tons of anything is pretty much impossible — but about exerting control over the manner in which it is sold in order to maintain a competitive advantage (a choke-hold on energy supplies) over economic competitors such as Germany and China. That was the core vision of the Project for the New American Century think tank in the late 1990s, and those folks later formed the top tier of the previous administration.

    • Tequila botnet auto-destructs

      A botnet targeting Mexican surfers has been dismantled just weeks after it first appeared, apparently by the cybercrook who established it rather than by any action by the federales or ISPs.

    • ‘Shady’ porn site practices put visitors at risk
    • South African Bill to block all porn
    • Somali militants threaten World Cup TV viewers

      Somali militants have threatened football fans they will be publicly flogged – or worse – if they are caught watching the World Cup on TV.

    • Will the cloud have its own Deepwater Horizon disaster?

      A new Pew Internet survey of 900 Internet experts leads with a headline finding that will surprise few: the experts largely agree that, by 2020, we’ll all be computing in the cloud. But an even more interesting notion is buried in one corner of the report, and it’s an idea that came up in two of the three cloud interviews I did in the wake of Wired/Ars Smart Salon. This notion is that, at some point, there will be a massive data breach—a kind of cloud version of the Deepwater Horizon disaster, but pouring critical data out into the open instead of oil—and that this breach will cause everyone from private industry to government regulators to rethink what cloud computing can and cannot do.

  • Environment

  • Finance

    • Lighting Africa: Outstanding Products and Distribution Issues

      When the World Bank and International Finance Corporation started the Lighting Africa program in 2007, it was estimated that Africans spent $17 billion (€12.5 billion) a year on lighting sources such as kerosene lamps that are inefficient, polluting and hazardous, and that 250 million people in sub-Saharan Africa had no access to power.

    • A lobbying tempest engulfs financial overhaul

      Congress’ final tinkering with Wall Street overhaul this month offers lobbyists a last-ditch shot to reshape the package on behalf of clients with billions at stake.

      Even as the legislation gets tougher on banks by the week, agents of influence are hardly strangers on Capitol Hill. Many once worked for the lawmakers they’re lobbying.

    • Key FinReg Components Under Threat

      Mike Konczal (who I had the pleasure of meeting at the America’s Future Now conference) has written a report outlining his dream scenario for the Wall Street reform conference committee, coming up with the best of both the House and Senate bills. He has four topic headings:

      Making Resolution Authority Credible
      Getting Our Banks Capitalized
      Bringing Derivatives Into the Sunlight
      Audit the Fed

    • US banks set to lose swaps desks

      Banks are likely to lose a key lobbying battle in the US over whether they will be forced to spin off their lucrative swaps desks, according to people familiar with financial reform negotiations in Congress.

    • Don’t Forget The Kanjorski Amendment

      A great deal of discretion would remain with the regulators, and of course this is a potential danger. But the heightened public awareness of the idea that “bailouts are bad” at least increases the chances that management and directors would be replaced in a failing megabank. Whether creditors would face any losses remains a more open question – but at least the Kanjorski amendment, if applied properly, would put that possibility firmly on the table.

      Brown-Kaufman was turned back on the Senate floor, but the Kanjorski amendment is an integral part of the financial reform bill that passed the House. And Congressman Paul Kanjorski is a formidable member of the House conference delegation.

    • Dealmakers or dealbreakers face financial overhaul

      They are the sticking points that would gum up the Wall Street overhaul.

      From big banks’ exotic trades to the plastic in people’s wallets, it only take a few of the most contentious issues to upend a careful political equilibrium as lawmakers try to blend House and Senate bills into a single rewrite of banking regulations.

    • Recipes for Ruin, in the Gulf or on Wall Street

      For the financial crisis, it has become clear that many chief executives and corporate directors were not aware of the risks taken by their trading desks and partners. Recent accusations against Goldman Sachs suggest the potential for conflicts of interest among banks, investors, hedge funds and rating agencies. And it is clear that regulators like the Securities and Exchange Commission, an agency staffed primarily with lawyers, are not well positioned to monitor the arcane trading strategies that helped produce the crisis.

    • Goldman’s Stonewall Is Bad Business

      Goldman Sachs (GS) has always had a reputation for being above the fray, aloof from the concerns of mere mortals. This reputation has served the bank splendidly as it fends off the pleas, hearings, and subpoenas of federal regulators. To the experienced (or simply jaded), it appeared that the 141-year-old Wall Street stalwart is just, well, being Goldman.

    • BP’s Mess, and Wall Street’s

      Just because you can do something, does that mean you should? It’s a question that might have saved us a lot of pain in recent months if both Goldman Sachs and British Petroleum had asked it of themselves during the last decade.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Freeview Allowed To Use DRM To Curtail Online Piracy

      Ofcom is allowing the BBC to operate its Freeview HD multiplex in such a way that only TV receivers and set-top boxes with built-in digital rights management (DRM) can see programmes’ electronic programme guide (EPG) data.

    • Shame on Ofcom, Double Shame on the BBC

      Rather interestingly, this “consultation” closed almost as soon as it opened: it was hard to resist the impression that it was being railroaded through. Fortunately, due in part to the prompt actions of Computerworld UK readers in submitting critical responses, Ofcom was forced to extend the consultation period, and then carry out a completely new consultation.

      [..]

      If the decision is not overturned (which seems unlikely), it will give the content industry control over what people can do with the content they watch on the BBC. Shame on Oftel – and double shame on the BBC for betraying in this way the audience that has faithfully funded it for all these years.

    • Ofcom agrees to allow the BBC to hobble HD receivers

      Ofcom have today dealt a serious blow to UK consumers and licence-payers by allowing the BBC to impose DRM for HD broadcasts.

    • Finland mulls legalizing use of unsecured Wi-Fi

      When it comes to the unauthorized use of open Wi-Fi networks, the Finnish government may say: If you can’t beat them, join them.

  • Copyrights

    • The Economics of Copyright

      One of the problems with the debate around copyright is that it is often fuelled more by feelings than facts. What is sorely lacking is a hard-nosed look at key areas like the economics of copyright. Enter “The Economics of Copyright and Digitisation: A Report on the Literature and the Need for Further Research” [.pdf].

      As you can tell from the rather tentative title, this is just a first step, but it is an important one, and the UK’s Strategic Advisory Board for Intellectual Property Policy (SABIP) is to be congratulated on commissioning it. This is exactly the kind of thing that it should be doing – not simply taking political positions, but establishing the basis for rational debate before then moving on to the framing of appropriate legislation.

    • Music industry lobbyist calls for death penalty for piracy

      Here’s Fran Nevrkla, Chairman and CEO of Phonographic Performance Ltd, a UK music industry association, addressing the group’s AGM.

    • New District law group tackles movie file sharing

      The US Copyright Group, a District-based venture backed by attorneys from Dunlap, Grubb & Weaver, has sued in federal court at least 14,000 John Doe plaintiffs who allegedly downloaded independent movies from the peer-to-peer file-sharing site BitTorrent. The scope of the litigation, which if successful could generate upward of $20 million even if settled out of court, is expected to expand as action is taken on behalf of more film producers against additional groups of defendants.

    • The World’s 5 Largest Public BitTorrent Trackers

      In the fall of last year The Pirate Bay took its tracker offline. Luckily, for the stability of the BitTorrent ecosystem several new trackers emerged to take its place. Time for us to provide an overview of the largest public BitTorrent trackers currently around.

    • RIAA wants LimeWire shut down over ‘rampant illegal conduct’
    • Video explains Canada’s DMCA
    • What Happened to my Creative Commons License?

      I don’t blame Google so much as I blame the Neanderthal book publishers who are breathing down Google’s neck. Or perhaps it’s Google’s wallet. Google will probably get to this kind of fine tuning eventually, but at the moment they are dealing with folks insisting on locking books up for fear non-payers will read them. But if you have a paper copy of the book, or go to the copyright page online, you’ll see that the book’s copyrighted by the editors, but it says right on the same page that the individual essays are licensed under a Creative Commons license, Attribution, NonCommercial, NoDerivs 2.5. That means that everyone in the world is free to read my essay, for starters. It also means they are free in a noncommercial context to copy and redistribute it with attribution, as long as they reproduce it accurately and without changing anything or adding anything. That is my intent. But ironically, I can’t even reproduce it for you here unless I want to type it all out by hand, because it won’t let me even see all the pages, let alone copy them. I’m mentioning it because it’s my hope that Google Books, and other such services, will make a note and tell the computers to look for Creative Commons licenses, and loosen up.

      [...]

      I don’t think the process would work as well for a less, shall we say, inspiring case. Volunteers responded because they seriously cared about the outcome, not because they found learning to do legal research fascinating. I have gotten a lot of email about enjoying the learning, actually, but I also know that SCO was an inspiration. For some, watching an attack on Linux is like watching someone kick Dorothy’s dog, Toto: people get mad and want to do something about it. You don’t get the same response in all cases or by paying people. There isn’t enough money in the world to pay me for the amount of work I donated to Groklaw, the nights without sleep, the anxiety, or the jerks I had to deal with sometimes, if I may speak plainly.

    • Accused of file-sharing? The EFF can point you to help

      If you’re one of the 14,000+ US citizens targeted by the US Copyright Group for allegedly sharing movies with BitTorrent, a letter has already arrived or will do so shortly. That letter will contain a polite request: pay us around $1,500 within the next few weeks or run of the risk of a federal copyright lawsuit, where lawyers will demand the maximum $150,000 penalty.

    • Film Director: File Sharing Only Hurts Bad Or Mediocre Films

      TorrentFreak asked independent film director Sam Bozzo to comment on his experiences having his two most recent films leaked to BitTorrent. The stories in both cases were different. The first film, Blue Gold: World Water Wars was released normally, and then leaked online. The second, his documentary Hackers Wanted was shelved after internal disputes — but has now leaked to BitTorrent. Originally it was an old cut that was leaked, but now Bozzo’s “directors’ cut” has been leaked, and Bozzo seems fine with it. In fact, he claims that if you make a good film, having it leaked to BitTorrent can only help. It’s only bad if your film isn’t very good:

      In a nutshell, I believe the only films that are hurt by torrent sharing are mediocre and bad films. In contrast, the good films of any genre only benefit from file-sharing. Due to this, I feel the current file-sharing trend is a catalyst for a true evolution in filmmaking…

    • ACTA/Digital Economy Bill

      • WD12 on ACTA: 150 signatures to go, time to call!

        Only two weeks of plenary in Strasbourg are left for Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to have a chance to sign Written Declaration 12 (WD12) on ACTA. 150 signatures are still missing, mostly from Germany, United Kingdom, Italy, and Poland. Every EU citizen is encouraged to call Strasbourg offices of non-signatories MEPs until thursday, 12:00, to urge them to sign WD12.

      • Eastern Europe – land of digital freedom?

        Now, the Baltic sea neighbors Finland and Estonia have declared Internet access to be a legal right. So I’ve been wondering… What are the chances of Southeast European countries, for once, not being late to the show but actually leading the race? What do I mean by that? First of all, Croatia and its neighbours would be wise to take advantage of the situation. While the UK, for example, is being mired down with a disastrous “Digital Economy Act”, perhaps our country and maybe even our neighbors could go the other way.

Clip of the Day

Adrian Bridgett – Troubleshooting Tools (2006)


Bill Gates et al Told Off by Haitian Farmers for Monsanto Lobbying/Investments

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception, Marketing, Microsoft, Patents at 11:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Monsanto - bones logo

Summary: Citizens of Haiti are not exactly grateful for Gates’ promotion of a long-term liability which he makes money from; other news coverage starts to unravel the Gates-GMO connection and we take a closer look at his latest Haitian giveaway

THE Gates Foundation, the world’s largest philanthrocapitalist player created by Bill Gates, faces criticism. Gates has been trying not to draw much attention to his relationship with GMO, based on a fairly recent report that we showed (after backlash he must have realised it’s bad for PR and his “brand name”). But victims of Monsanto are not as dumb as Monsanto needs them to be. Sooner or later they find out that Monsanto exploits the poor and the less educated — those who find it harder to refuse becoming Monsanto customers.

Monsanto is a “pusher”, much like Microsoft. First it gives something for “free” and later on, when it becomes hard to resist and to undo the dependencies, Monsanto charges a fortune and bullies those who do not or cannot pay. Monsanto criminalises many farmers in the same way that Microsoft criminalises computer users.

“Monsanto criminalises many farmers in the same way that Microsoft criminalises computer users.”To readers who wish to associate us with nutty conspiracy theorists, we are not arguing about the merits or harms of genetically-modified crops in terms of health. We only argue about the business model. It’s about patents (monopolies).

A few weeks ago it was made known that Monsanto intended to ‘inject’ (forceful connotation intended) its products into Haiti. It is a devastated nation whose catastrophe several greedy businesses are trying to exploit, even Microsoft. Fortunately for citizens of Haiti, there are some good people in the United States (to march in Seattle, no less!) who help Haitian farmers understand what Monsanto wants to do to them. There were even reports which said that Haitians would burn all seeds donated by Monsanto as a matter of principle and practicality (just laying seeds on the ground may help them grow and expand through dissemination). In short, they burn Monsanto’s so-called ‘IP’ rather than let it infect the nation. From the new article:

Groups around the U.S. Join Haitian Farmers in Protesting ‘Donation’ of Monsanto Seeds

[...]

AGRA Watch in Seattle plans a march today which will end outside the Gates Foundation office. AGRA stands for A Green Revolution in Africa, which is a multinational corporation-driven, GMO-driven program now being launched in Africa. The Gates Foundation has been a key promoter of AGRA. The group says, “The dumping of toxic seeds in Haiti is the latest in a series of unsustainable solutions that Monsanto has pushed on farmers around the world. If the Gates Foundation wants to support a truly sustainable agricultural system in Africa, they must divorce themselves from Monsanto. Haitian farmers and African farmers have said NO! to corporate control of their food systems. The Gates Foundation and AGRA must say no to Monsanto.”

This article does mention the role of the Gates Foundation, but it is not focused on this one particular aspect. Here is a new and very detailed African article which covers AGRA Watch and a lot more about the Gates Foundation’s role. It is a long article which is worth a read. To quote parts of it:

AGRA Watch formed in 2008 to challenge the Gates Foundation’s participation in the problematic Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa, and to support sustainable, agro-ecological alternatives already practiced in Africa.

[...]

The Gates Foundations, like other mega-philanthropies, use their financial power to push policies that they have decided are ‘needed.’ In this case, Gates has decided that GMOs are the solution for African agriculture. In 2009, the Gates Foundation gave US$5.4 million to the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center, as part of its Grand Challenges in Global Health initiative.[10] This funding went to the creation and management of the BioSafety Resource Network (BRN), and to research under the Gates’ Grand Challenges #9 Project, which seeks to develop nutritionally ‘enhanced’ crop varieties of cassava, banana, sorghum and rice for subsistence farmers in the Global South. The Danforth Center states that the ‘Results of this research will help to reduce the burden of malnutrition and … will support the creation and management of a resource network that will help African scientists incorporate biotech advances into subsistence farming.’[11]

Among the key funders of The Danforth Center is the Monsanto Fund, the ‘philanthropic’ arm of the Monsanto Company.[12] One of the Fund’s main goals is ‘Nutritional Improvement through Agriculture: Working to implement sustainable agricultural improvements through education and research. Focus areas include field techniques, education in the areas of nutrition and vitamin deficiency and reducing the impact of pest and virus on subsistence crops’, and to do this philanthropic work in areas where the company has important interests. This means that, like most philanthropic organisations set up by corporations, their business interests are barely distinguishable from their charitable ones. Monsanto – like other agri-corporations – has re-branded genetic engineering with a softer touch. Namely, they have painted themselves as concerned with the welfare of the world’s poor. In truth, these corporations are concerned with social responsibility only to the extent that it allows them to maintain good public relations and their bottom-line. At a deeper level, corporate agendas and philanthropic agendas are linked to US policy, and are thereby granted legitimacy and enormous influence over global political systems.

[...]

Given scientific data that discount the claims of genetic engineering, why would the ‘beneficent’ structures of food aid and philanthropy remain tied to claims of GE’s usefulness in the global South, particularly in Africa? According to numerous academics, policy observers, and activists, these structures are not about hunger. They are about capitalism and philanthro-capitalism: The opening of markets, the spending of wealth through tax-free foundations in order to surround wealthy principals with the aura of altruism, the expropriation of valuable resources at the lowest cost, the perpetuation of the myth that technology solves all problems, even social ones, and the intentional obfuscation of the exploitative roles of corporations.

The article mentions philanthrocapitalism, which is a notion we explained last month. It’s a form of self-advertising for someone who may make a lot of money in this process of glorification through investments with fairy tales and sob stories. The sad thing is that the Gates Foundation is investing a lot in PR-oriented employees, whose job is to counter truth-tellers (those who need to appeal to publications for dissenting points of view). The latest big PR from the Gates Foundation uses the image of “Women and Children” (even babies) for sentimental value. They are seemingly ‘injecting’ it into other articles which cover the same topic. In addition, the Gates Foundation approaches the poor people of Haiti with some telephones, as noted in MSBBC and other fan press of Microsoft and Gates. Yes, it’s the Seattle Times again. For those who don’t know why the Seattle Times is “fan press” of these adjacent entities, one need only spend some time watching other fanfare in this publication (and refusal to publish big stories that are negative to Microsoft and Gates, tax evasion for example). People who worked for Microsoft complain about this publication too. They live in an echo chamber and Brier Dudley from the Seattle Times finally shows that he having dinners with Microsoft. They are like a Seattle family.

“One very interesting thing is the involvement of USAID, whose administrator Rajiv Shah is from the Gates Foundation.”Anyway, going back to the Haiti gig, Gates’ people brag about it and control the message with a fabulous press release, leading to obedient coverage that lacks any additional research [1, 2, 3, 4]. Some of Gates’ own boosters are all over this news [1, 2, 3], but they merely repeat Gates’ message. They don’t explore beyond it. “Who are the companies that are going to implement the service,” asked us a reader who sent us an alert about the news. “Is there any connection to a Microsoft-affiliated company?” We were unable to find which companies receive this money. Either they are unnamed or we simply look at the wrong articles (which say too little, as we’ve already alleged). One very interesting thing is the involvement of USAID, whose administrator Rajiv Shah is from the Gates Foundation. We wrote about him in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8]. They are closing a loop.

There are several important points to be made here: 1) the amount of this ‘donation’ is relatively small; 2) it’s not really a donation because the poor & hungry people don’t need banks and phones right now, they have more urgent needs. “Let them eat phones” is the headline chosen by one critic of this scheme:

Unless the situation is extremely well researched this is a very risky investment. ‘Leapfrogging’ may only be possible when there are already lots of cell phones being used.

Bill Gates’ investments in Haiti may seem more self-serving than charitable, especially the Monsanto part. It would be useful to find out who receives the money in Haiti and what companies (or hedge funds) benefit.

More on Monsanto:

  1. With Microsoft Monopoly in Check, Bill Gates Proceeds to Creating More Monopolies
  2. Gates-Backed Company Accused of Monopoly Abuse and Investigated
  3. How the Gates Foundation Privatises Africa
  4. Reader’s Article: The Gates Foundation and Genetically-Modified Foods
  5. Monsanto: The Microsoft of Food
  6. Seeds of Doubt in Bill Gates Investments
  7. Gates Foundation Accused of Faking/Fabricating Data to Advance Political Goals
  8. More Dubious Practices from the Gates Foundation
  9. Video Transcript of Vandana Shiva on Insane Patents
  10. Explanation of What Bill Gates’ Patent Investments Do to Developing World
  11. Black Friday Film: What the Bill Gates-Backed Monsanto Does to Animals, Farmers, Food, and Patent Systems
  12. Gates Foundation Looking to Destroy Kenya with Intellectual Monopolies
  13. Young Napoleon Comes to Africa and Told Off
  14. Bill Gates Takes His GMO Patent Investments/Experiments to India
  15. Gates/Microsoft Tax Dodge and Agriculture Monopoly Revisited
  16. Beyond the ‘Public Relations’
  17. UK Intellectual Monopoly Office (UK-IPO) May be Breaking the Law
  18. “Boycott Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation in China”
  19. The Gates Foundation Extends Control Over Communication with Oxfam Relationship
  20. Week of Monsanto

Windows Has Reputation and Security Problems

Posted in Mail, Microsoft, Security, Vista 7, Windows at 10:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: As Service Pack 1 (SP1) of Vista 7 comes nearer there is “a big yawn” and new security problems devastate hope of a secure Windows; Microsoft kills Hotmail taglines

THE Windows ‘Marketing Machine’ blew a gasket based on the fact that the reality behind Vista 7 remains unchanged. There are many problems under the rug and a Service Pack will hardly address any of them.

Let’s begin with a quick word about Windows in the press. Most articles seem to have something to do with “OS wars” or Windows security problems. There is not much of them, either (Apple is increasingly covered at Microsoft’s expense). Having looked at the past week’s news, we found nothing at all matching “Vista” (in the headlines) and few headlines about SP1 of “Windows 7″ (the rest is dross and just a handful or more). There is nothing about “Silverlight” either, but that’s another story about a largely-defunct Slog [PDF].

“There is nothing about “Silverlight” either, but that’s another story about a largely-defunct Slog.”Coverage about SP1 of Vista 7 came from three or four Microsoft spinners (we were unable to find any coverage from writers who are not de facto PR folks of Microsoft*). There are these typical three [1, 2, 3] with another Microsoft booster whose headline is: “Windows 7 Service Pack 1 a big yawn, and that’s good … sorta”

That’s amusing because even proponents of Microsoft (biased sources) are not particularly positive. Microsoft may be resting on its laurels while Windows declines. The Motley Fool asks, “Is It Time for You to Quit Windows?” (it’s a pro-Microsoft publication, so the headline is just provocative)

A batch of security issues that we covered here before makes its appearance again. SharePoint is impacted and so is Internet Explorer [1, 2].

Windows in general is a risk as Web sites get hijacked and malware then delivered to Windows users. From the news:

All of the infected sites appear to be using the Microsoft Internet Information Services Web-server software running with Active Server Pages, according to researchers at Sucuri Security.

The Windows flaw reported by a Google engineer was mentioned here before, but here is more coverage [1, 2] and spin from Microsoft Nick. He possibly suggests there’s a vendetta here, despite the fact that Windows flaws are a dime a dozen. The problem is confirmed by Microsoft [1, 2], but “Microsoft leaves some Office XP users patchless,” says the title from IDG (also in [1, 2]).

From the persistently pro-Microsoft IDG blog (see for example [1, 2] to get an idea) we learn that “HP takes on Microsoft on application security” (also see [1, 2]). To be fair, there are other proprietary software vendors with security problems this month, e.g. Adobe and Apple. Microsoft is probably different because it lies about the number of flaws that it’s patching.

We could not help but notice some press hype around Hotmail. It came about for no apparent reason other than the fact that Microsoft kills Hotmail taglines [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6]. That’s funny coming from Microsoft/Hotmail, which is responsible for a lot of the world's spam.

Spam leads to/is the cause of insecurity (phishing, malware in mail, links to malicious downloads, or compromised sites) and it is also caused by greater insecurity (botnets, zombies).
_______
* Microsoft boosters emit a lot of promotion and spin disguised as “news” (maybe systematically pushed to those writers by the PR agencies of Microsoft).
[addendum: we later found exceptions to the claim that only Microsoft boosters covered it , after more extensive search outside of Google News [1, 2, 3, 4]. Google News did not make them visible.]

The Future of Microsoft’s Xbox is Uncertain

Posted in Hardware, Marketing, Microsoft at 9:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

DKM Admiral Graf Spee

Summary: Many new problems for Xbox 360 — problems which lead to visual and nymical changes

THE reality behind Xbox is a truly dark reality. One needs to look beyond the mainstream press, which is largely ghostwritten (PR). This product has a bad name and reputation, partly because of extremely high failure rates (other key reasons being the corrupt company that it is associated with, not to mention price). According to reports, Microsoft will be dressing it up a little differently, as if changing the appearance of something will somehow fix the product itself. Well, as Bill Gates once put it, “if you can’t make it good, at least make it look good.”

Someone who is not opposed to Microsoft has just explained “Why a 360 Slim is a bad idea” (this is the headline) and “Microsoft Rumored to Be Planning the End of the Xbox Brand Name,” heralds another interesting report.

Microsoft wasn’t kidding when they said they planned on launching Natal like an entirely new console. It appears that the company intends to finish off the Xbox name after the Xbox 360. This is obviously a surprise considering the time and money that goes into building an identifiable brand name in the video game industry.

There is more renaming going on (now confirmed for “Natal” [1, 2, 3), which brings to mind Sevenwashing of many failed products. Should “Xbox 360″ be renamed “Xbox7″?

Our reader Tim wrote about potential renames and what they typically mean.

So now I will move on to why Kinect? Firstly I hope that nobody draws reference to the Kin phone, which received a less than enthusiastic response from the mainstream press outlets I follow, but more importantly we need to ask the question is Kinect released to prevent 360 users leaving for the arguably better spec’d PS3 with Blueray or for the more socially aware WII? Maybe Microsoft wants to get a few more years out of the 360 in order to recoup losses it incurred through having to replace so many? or maybe something else?

“Investors concerned with Microsoft over Xbox 360 and other consumer devices,” says the headline of another new report. Microsoft has been losing many billions (and losing the managers too [1, 2, 3, 4]).

The Xbox 360 has turned into a hot console after Microsoft took a huge loss with the original Xbox to break into the console gaming market. It currently sits in second place in console sales between the Nintendo Wii and Sony PS3 and has helped drive innovation in online gaming for the consoles. However, investors look at the bottom line and after disappointing sales with the Zune, shrinking Windows Mobile market share, and the high costs of consoles some would like to see Microsoft get out of the consumer electronics market.

Xbox 360 is a money-burning machine. It’s the same with Sony, which probably sells at a loss. The only companies to have hit a jackpot from this generation’s consoles appear to be Nintendo and IBM (which supplies/monetises chips from all three major consoles).

“No leadership, big losses, products renamed, several lawsuits for faulty hardware, and even lawsuits for patent violations.”In recent years we learned about Microsoft Xbox employees who left or got laid off. Here are some former Microsoft employees who attempt to have a go at the video games business. They are still neighbours of Microsoft.

Last night we found “Wall Street Criticizes Microsoft For Natal [Looking Forward to the Project Natal Release Date? Mircosoft Investors Aren't As Motion Control Add-On Comes Under Fire]“

The Wall Street Journal goes further in articles titled “Microsoft’s Reign Isn’t Set in Stone” and “Still on Top?” Something is clearly wrong when even Murdoch’s press does not support Microsoft’s side.

So what’s next for Xbox 360 then? No leadership, big losses, products renamed, several lawsuits for faulty hardware, and even lawsuits for patent violations. Maybe Microsoft’s future in this area would have something to do with patents because that’s the only thing they are still good at in Microsoft (even if it's predominantly software patents that are not deserved). According to the Seattle Times, “Microsoft files for gesture patents: Project Natal + Minority Report”

Just ahead of next week’s public unveiling of its Project Natal motion control system for the Xbox 360, Microsoft has filed for several patents covering technology for controlling PCs and game systems with gestures and motion tracking.

What does Microsoft intend to do with those patents? Extort? Exclude? Block? Defend? Patents are not a winning strategy, it’s a protectionist measure for losers.

Microsoft Spreads Lies in a New For-Profit Scare Campaign

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, FUD, Microsoft, Security at 5:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Direct link

Summary: Scare campaigns from Microsoft have another new example added to them, this one involving Web browsers

MICROSOFT IS DOING it again. It uses fear as a business model:

Microsoft Launches Misleading Scare Campaign

The new TV campaign was launched last week but appears to have come to our screens in full force this weekend when Microsoft flooded virtually all major cable channels ranging from locals sports broadcasts to the Food channel with what the company euphemistically calls a “confidence” campaign. To us, it looks like a scare drive to convince people to download IE8.

Microsoft proponents too are writing about this and Microsoft’s sheer hypocrisy can be seen in another article from one week ago:

Scaring computer owners is big business

[...]

Microsoft’s program wipes out what is known as “scareware” — pop-up ads that scare users into purchasing fake anti-virus software, USA Today reported Monday.

How about companies that scare users into installing software after “fake” allegations? Well, sort of like Microsoft is doing right now.

Suffice to say, Microsoft still “sabotages” Firefox, as we noted a few days ago. There are many more articles about it but not enough scrutiny (maybe because Microsoft did this several times before, so there is complacence). That too is a form of scare, possible an illegal one (but Mozilla is more diplomatic than litigious).

AOL Denies Being Open to Microsoft Takeover, Ruby on Rails Founder Calls Microsoft a “Buffoon” (and Formerly “Gorilla”) Due to Its CEO

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Rumour, Steve Ballmer at 4:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

David Heinemeier Hansson
Credit: James Duncan Davidson/O’Reilly Media, Inc.

Summary: Claims are being made that Steve Ballmer is still trying to buy AOL and David Heinemeier Hansson says that Ballmer made a “buffoon” out of Microsoft

THERE is a lot of chatter in pro-Microsoft sites about the rumour that Steve Ballmer is interested in buying AOL. Those whose personal interests are aligned with Microsoft’s are rather excited* [1, 2, 3], but their bubble is bursting now that AOL denies the claims. It was just a rumour as we explained last week and it all came from one single unnamed source. AOL’s words have just ended the rumour and made the original gossip/source look foolish and act in self defence, instead moving the goalposts:

Steve Ballmer Wants Tim Armstrong

[...]

AOL CEO Tim Armstrong is telling people there’s no truth to our report that he’d like to sell the company to Microsoft. Don’t buy it.

No evidence yet?

The Wall Street Journal has this new blog/article titled “Why Microsoft’s Ballmer Just Doesn’t Get It” and there is other coverage about this eccentric man, who has been in Microsoft for three decades [1, 2], bullying, cursing, throwing chairs, and intimidating competitors. In a less corrupted system he would possibly be in prison. According to two separate news reports, the founder of Ruby on Rails, an outspoken and arrogant person by some people’s judgment (here is a good example to go by), has just said that Ballmer turned Microsoft from “gorilla” to “buffoon”.

Steve Ballmer’s “ineptitude” has led to Microsoft’s transformation from a “gorilla” into a “buffoon,” according to Ruby on Rails developer David Heinemeier Hansson.

For those who don’t know what Microsoft does to Ruby, start in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15]. It’s good to have someone at the level of authority of Hansson speak out his mind. He’ll get flak for it, maybe even the label “Microsoft hater” [1, 2, 3] (which is like being labeled “racist” these days).

Teddybear

____
* There is also coverage from objective sources that are more independent as well also some other sites [1, 2].

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