Summary: New analysis of patents relating to software, assorted items from the news, and interpretation of those items
A new volume of the International Free and Open Source Software Law Review has just been released[PDF]. Towards the end, this latest issue contains an article from Pieter Hintjens, who speaks about Microsoft’s OOXML corruption and “For monopolists like Microsoft,” quotes the president of the FFII, “the answer is to prevent the software from being free, this requires software patents.”
While it has drawn some controversy for its IP deal with Microsoft, Tuxera says this allows it to benefit from the ability to offer support, integration and licensing for both NTFS and exFAT filesystems.
Tuxera receives money as long as it also allows Microsoft to make money from Android and from Linux. What’s not to like? Both Tuxera and Microsoft enjoy this, at the expense of software freedom. Microsoft uses Tuxera as a bridge with which to impose software patents on Linux (including branches/derivatives).
Here is a new press release which remarks on the difficulty of obtaining “business method software patents” (they are lumped together as though they are one).
The fundamental business methods and processes unique to N-Play(R) led the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office to recently issue U.S. Patent #7,664,682. Business method software patents are considered a rarity and are the most difficult patents to obtain through the USPTO with less than 17% being approved.
Well, it’s obviously not hard enough because none at all should be accepted, especially after the Bilski case (assuming the decision stands when it’s released [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]). If business method patents and software patents are seen as equatable, then both can probably be abolished post-Bilski. Neither refers to an actual product which is physical. Besides, as this new article puts it:
The US Patent Office has been flooded with software patents ever since.
Since anything (however stupid it might be) can be patented, I am gonna patent the following:
Title: SYSTEM and METHOD for TROLL CONTROL in open-source projects mailing lists, via Contribution-Points based eMail Limits
Speaking of trolls, Thomas Edisonhas some voice recordings of his salvaged. It’s more of an historical thing, not much of professional value. Edison was part of the problem we now know as the USPTO; his characterisation as an inventor is often challenged as it neglects to mention how he took people’s existing ideas, modified these mildly and then claimed/earned a monopoly on them. Edison is said to have been a businessman and a patent (monopoly) opportunist, just like Bill Gates in a sense. █
Migrating Linux is mostly about migrating services. To do this properly, there are two approaches. You can find out yourself what needs to be done, or you can use tools that analyze this for you. Apart from the services involved, migrating Linux is also about smoothly transitioning from one environment to another environment, without involving double work for your IT environment. If you have the appropriate system management tools in place, they can be very helpful. Finally, depending on the Linux distributions that you were using and that you are going to use, these might be a financial chapter as well. Check this with the new vendor of your choice. This vendor is going to earn your money and may be more than willing to help.
So what does it all mean? The transparency of free and open source software is increasingly recognized as an important benefit — even by experts studying software security, and even when they uncover occasional vulnerabilities.
The “security through obscurity” argument may still be frequently uttered by those on the pro-proprietary side, but — at least, based on this debate — it lacks substance. Indeed, given the financial stakes for those on the proprietary side, one could easily make the case that a certain amount of FUD is to be expected.
The growing ranks of FOSS proponents, then, should be heartened. When it comes to security, free and open source software has been held up, scrutinized, and declared superior.
The Captivate features Android 2.1 running on a 1GHz Samsung S5PC110 “Hummingbird” system-on-chip, a four-inch Super AMOLED display, 802.11b/g/n, Bluetooth 3.0, GPS, and a five-megapixel camera, says AT&T.
You’re walking down a dark alley, late at night, when suddenly someone jumps out at you and forces you to hand over your passport, your credit cards, and the keys to your car. This is a good analogy of what using the internet is like.
Around every corner lurks danger, and with today’s always-on connections, you may have the internet equivalent of burglars without realising. For ultimate computer security, a firewall is similar to having a big, burly bodyguard walking down the street with you, keeping you safe. Whether it be your home or office network, a firewall distribution should be able to help you.
Hopefully you will download one of the distributions listed above, run it live and try out some of the applications I have listed here. Then we can continue investigating the FOSS multimedia world by looking closer at video and publishing multimedia works.
The UFO:AI development team is proud to announce the release of UFO: Alien Invasion Version 2.3. Two years in the making, this version features loads of new content, a dramatically improved rendering engine and extensive improvements to nearly every aspect of the game’s campaign and battle systems.
43 persons (including organizers, designer, bugsquashers, and others) from 17 different countries gathered in Randa from Thursday 20 May to Tuesday 25 May. Why Randa? It is a marvelous place in the mountains of Switzerland where Mario Fux knew a house that would be perfect for KDE developers. Several groups that work on different parts of KDE had a chance to meet and mix in one house. Present were KDE-Education, Amarok, various multimedia people (Phonon, KMix, vlc) and Gluon developers.
François Dupoux announced on June 18th the new SystemRescueCd 1.5.6 Linux-based operating system. Being powered by the alternative Linux kernel 2.6.34, and the standard 184.108.40.206 Linux kernel, SystemRescueCd 1.5.6 includes now the popular GParted 0.6.0 application for partitioning tasks with support for drives with sectors larger than 512 bytes. Moreover, the FSArchiver and Memtest86+ apps were also updated. Without further introduction, let’s take a closer look at the changes brought by SystemRescueCd 1.5.4…
Opengear announced three new UCLinux-based remote management device servers, focusing on industrial applications. In addition to the general-purpose, $475 ACM5004-2-I server, there’s a telecom-oriented ACM5004-2-I-SDC version with a 48V DC power supply, plus an extended-temperature ACM5004-2-T aimed at utility networks, the company says.
Lantronix is also known for its XPort Pro embedded networking module, which it touts as the “world’s smallest Linux networking server.” The XPort Pro (pictured at right) measures 1.33 x 0.64 x 0.53 inches, and offers 8MB of SDRAM, 16MB of flash, RJ45 Ethernet and serial ports, a web server, SSH and SSL security, and IPv6 support.
The good news for developers is that out of the six versions of Android only three, 1.5, 1.6 and 2.1 have widespread use. The figures also show that almost all Motorola Milestone and Droid users have now upgraded to Android 2.1.
Google’s Android team will focus on user interface issues in the upcoming “Gingerbread” release of Android in an attempt to dissuade handset vendors from adding their own UI layers, writes Michael Arrington in TechCrunch.
An astute reader stumbled upon an interesting bug with the HTC Incredible. The Incredible, with Sense UI, will periodically store screenshots of the contents of your web browser. The screen captures are a function of the HTC Sense UI bookmark widget
The super-phone war is about to start. The war was triggered back in 2007 when Apple announced its revolutionary iPhone. The market back then was scattered, primarily dragged by stagnated mobile operating systems. Times have changed with the arrival of Gnu/Linux ‘avatar’ in form of Android.
Verizon is elbowing its way into the Apple-dominated tech spotlight with the announcement that it’s going to make a big announcement next week, and it’s a very safe bet that it’s going to take the wraps off a new Droid smartphone. How will the newcomer compare to its popular brother? Bigger and faster, with a belt packed with fancier tools, no doubt.
The Nexus One may have taken a little while to reach South Korea, but it looks like KT is doing its best to make up for lost time — the carrier has just announced that it will not only be offering the Nexus One, but that it will come complete with Android 2.2 (a.k.a. Froyo).
Motorola is prepping two high-end Android phones for summer release on Verizon — the 4.3-inch Droid X and a keyboard-enabled Droid 2 — say reports. Meanwhile, LG will ship 20 Android phones this year, and Sony Ericsson is readying a mid-range Xperia X8 Android model, say other reports.
It appears that Sony Ericsson may deliver its Xperia X8 smartphone with Android version 1.6 in some parts of Europe and version 2.1 in others. The older version lacks some speed and performance enhancements, live wallpaper, built-in pinch-to-zoom capability and 3-D photo galleries. Still, many consumers are likely to find it adequate for their needs, according to Gartner analyst Carolina Milanesi.
Uruguay has already ordered 90,000 of the new XO-HS notebooks, having previously taken receipt of almost 400,000 XO laptops for primary school children. The Uruguayan government is clearly eager to distribute computers among the young generation, and has also ordered 10,000 of the Intel Classmate PC laptops. With 230,000 high school students in total in Uruguay, there is scope for further orders, with delivery of the new PCs scheduled to begin in September this year.
Want a touchscreen tablet computer, but don’t feel like purchasing any of the pre-configured options already on the market? No problem, you can pick up a $400 kit that will let you build your own tablet.
NEC is preparing an Android 2.1 tablet for the Japanese market based on an ARM Cortex-A8 processor. The LifeTouch offers a seven-inch, WVGA touchscreen, a SDHC slot, WiFi, Bluetooth, GPS, sensors, and a three-megapixel camera, says NEC.
On the second day of its 2010 Summercamp in Brussels, messaging and collaboration specialist Zarafa has announced the launch of a new integration framework. The new groupware integration framework is based on SWIG and allows open source and commercial solutions to integrate with Zarafa’s Collaboration Platform, connecting calendars, mail, contacts and tasks to virtually any developer language. The new Python language Messaging API (MAPI) binding provides full MAPI access from Python – documentation is provided.
From July 3rd through July 10th the KDE community will gather in Tampere, Finland for our yearly Akademy conference. We are pleased to announce that, once again, a number of sponsors will be helping to make this event possible.
As fans gear up for the upcoming release of Thunderbird 3.1, Mozilla has made available an updated version of the current line, Thunderbird 3.0.5. It’s a bug-fixing release with no new features, though users should see an improvement in message-indexing speed. More than 60 bugs have been fixed in Thunderbird 3.0.5.
The first Release Candidate for the FreeBSD 8.1 release cycle is now available for amd64, i386, ia64, powerpc, and sparc64 architectures. Files suitable for creating installation media or doing FTP based installs through the network should be available on most of the FreeBSD mirror sites. Checksums for the images are at the bottom of this message.
I met Matt Ridley once, when he was at The Economist, and I wrote a piece for him (I didn’t repeat the experience because their fees at the time were extraordinarily ungenerous). He was certainly a pleasant chap in person, but I have rather mixed feelings about his work.
His early book “Genome” is brilliant – a clever promenade through our chromosomes, using the DNA and its features as a framework on which to hang various fascinating facts and figures. His latest work, alas, seems to have gone completely off the rails, as this take-down by George Monbiot indicates.
Today I have participated to an international meeting in Madrid on the reuse of Public Sector Information. I came to gather as much information and food for thought as possible for my new research on Open Data for an Open Society and wasn’t deluded.
This is where the ethical and practical implications take place. I am not really too concerned about the Getty collection, I really thing that this is a good development. However, I am concerned about the potential negative impact on the take-up of CC licences in Flickr. By stating clearly that any CC licensed picture will be only eligible for the cheaper royalty-free licensing option, Getty has created a disincentive to licence under Creative Commons. While I give the Flickr community enough credit not to answer the siren’s call en masse, this could be a concern on the long run. We could have a two-tier Flickerverse of low-quality CC-licensed images, and high-quality content available only by paying fees to Getty.
CollabNet, an Application Lifecycle Management (ALM) specialist and provider of distributed software development solutions, has introduced Subversion Edge, a distribution of the Subversion SCM (Software Configuration Management) tool. In addition to Subversion, which was initially developed by CollabNet and has since been donated to the Apache Software Foundation (ASF), the distribution includes the Apache web server and the ViewVC repository viewer, a browser-based directory management system.
Over the last few months, user engagement on Scribd has surged, according to CEO Trip Adler, thanks to its transition to HTML5, the introduction of the iPad, and Scribd’s Facebook integration. Of these three factors, Adler says the conversion from Flash to HTML5 was by far the greatest driver for his document sharing company. According to Scribd’s numbers, time on the site has tripled in the last three months.
The U.S. Justice Department has joined a whistleblower suit against Oracle that accuses it of defrauding the U.S. government.
Filed back in May 2007 under the False Claims Act, the suit claims Oracle overcharged the federal government tens of millions of dollars by failing to offer it the same deep discounts the company offers commercial customers. That’s a real problem, because Oracle was obligated to do just that under the terms of the General Services Administration contract by which it was bound.
HP then went on for a few hundred words talking about how it would be happy to port ProLiant/Solaris customers to Windows or Linux – not just Red Hat and SUSE Linux, but Debian too – and reminding everyone that its Integrity HP-UX boxes exist. (Pity HP-UX doesn’t run on x64 iron, though.)
A woman with kidney disease has died after receiving an experimental stem cell treatment at a private clinic in Thailand, and a postmortem examination of her kidneys revealed that the treatment was almost certainly responsible for her death. Last week we reported that Costa Rica’s health ministry had closed a stem cell clinic that catered to foreigners, which sparked lively debates around the Internet about whether patients should be able to willingly take on risks associated with experimental treatments. This new case offers a sobering reminder of what can happen when patients travel abroad looking for a miracle cure.
Legacy Interactive has announced plans to create a web-based game designed to teach kids how to prepare for hazards and emergencies.
FEMA claimed to have research which showed that “despite imminent threats and increased media attention, Americans today are no better prepared for a natural disaster or terrorist attack than they were in 2003.”
On June 6, Kevin Poulsen and Kim Zetter of Wired reported that a 22-year-old U.S. Army Private in Iraq, Bradley Manning, had been detained after he “boasted” in an Internet chat — with convicted computer hacker Adrian Lamo — of leaking to WikiLeaks the now famous Apache Helicopter attack video, a yet-to-be-published video of a civilian-killing air attack in Afghanistan, and “hundreds of thousands of classified State Department records.” Lamo, who holds himself out as a “journalist” and told Manning he was one, acted instead as government informant, notifying federal authorities of what Manning allegedly told him, and then proceeded to question Manning for days as he met with federal agents, leading to Manning’s detention.
Defenders of the dirty energy status quo, particularly the lobbyists and politicians associated with the oil and coal industry, have repeatedly trotted out a group of evangelical leaders known as the Cornwall Alliance to counter the growing sentiment in the evangelical community that anthropogenic climate change is a threat to God’s creation. Cornwall declares that true Christians believe “there is no convincing scientific evidence that human contribution to greenhouse gases is causing dangerous global warming.” In this repost, Wonk Room exposes the Big Oil funding behind the Cornwall Alliance
BP chief executive Tony Hayward, often criticized for being tone-deaf to U.S. concerns about the worst oil spill in American history, took time off Saturday to attend a glitzy yacht race off England’s Isle of Wight.
On 27 May the Danish Supreme Court upheld a lower court decision which obliges internet service providers (ISPs) to block access to websites that may contain – or link to other sites which contain – material which infringes copyrights (the Pirate Bay in this instance).
The decision has rightly been criticized as a setback for internet freedom in Denmark. The decision attaches undue weight to the interests of copyright holders while ignoring obvious dangers of abuse, restrictions on internet freedom and access to information and the lack of any due process. The decision may lead to the blocking of websites that mainly includes content that does not infringe copyright and thus restrict the free flow of information. Moreover, by forcing ISP’s to police the Internet without due process the decision marks a dangerous precedent that is likely to include other ‘illegal’ or ‘offensive’ material in the future.
Are there really still problems being caused for scientists and science writers caused by the English law of libel?
On the face of it, that seems an odd question to be asked on this of all blogs.
But it is an entirely serious question, and it is not one which is intended to be unduly provocative.
Indeed, unless those of us who contend there is such a problem can answer this question in a calm, informed, reasoned, and ultimately persuasive manner, then our influence may be minimal in the upcoming debate on the legislative reform of libel.
The latest privacy controversy with Google is that while scanning for WiFi access-points in their Street View cars, they may have inadvertently captured data payloads containing private information (URLs, fragments of e-mails, and so on).
Although some people are suspicious of their explanation, Google is almost certainly telling the truth when it claims it was an accident. The technology for WiFi scanning means it’s easy to inadvertently capture too much information, and be unaware of it.
The BPI, the RIAA’s UK counterpart, has gone up against the Holiest of Holies, American online advertising conglomerate Google, says Chilling Effects.
Short for British Phonographic Industry, the BPI contributed to the British government’s Digital Ecomy bill, complete with its ACTA Three Strikes and you’re Off The Net element, with hardly a murmur from the UK lamescream media.
Summary: SCO’s bankruptcy hearing won’t take place until next month; SCO deals with pocket money, so Novell is unlikely to be properly compensated
According to Groklaw [1, 2] (whose editor takes a break), SCO is back to bankruptcy proceedings. Well, not quite back; not yet anyway.
SCO’s bankruptcy hearing scheduled for Monday in Delaware has been cancelled. The next one will be on July 12 at 1:30, or so they say, so if you were planning to attend on Monday, please rearrange your plans.
Here is one show that covered Novell’s victory over SCO.
Here is another new video involving Novell and IDG Spain (somewhat related to this new video). As we explained before, Novell is all about short-term profit and it focuses on Fog Computing, based on the pitch of its marketing people [1, 2] who also spread “case studies”.
In summary, Novell spreads Microsoft software, Microsoft-taxed versions of GNU/Linux, and additional lock-in. It’s not quite the image of this company which Novell wants the public to think about. █
“In the face of strong competition, Evangelism’s focus may shift immediately to the next version of the same technology, however. Indeed, Phase 1 (Evangelism Starts) for version x+1 may start as soon as this Final Release of version X.”
The long delay in releasing mobile phones running Windows Phone 7 is damaging Microsoft’s mobile opportunity.
It’s been six months since Microsoft chief Steve Ballmer officially announced Windows Mobile 7, now called Windows Phone 7. And now, well and truly into the second-half of the year, Microsoft’s answer to the iPhone and Google’s Android OS is still nowhere to be seen.
The HTC Photon, Trophy and Tera are expected to ship in the third or fourth quarter of this year.
That’s an awful lot of noise over something that’s not even in the market yet. Shades of Vista 7, right?
Microsoft mobile strategy is as “clear as mud,” argues Tim of OpenBytes.
So we’ve moved on from Windows Mobile and today we are consuming Apple and Android based phones with a veracious demand, equalled only by the amount of applications developed for the platforms. I think that the key to a successful mobile product it todays market is a diverse catalogue of 3rd party apps and (at least) perceived complete customization and personalization of the phone for the consumer. Todays world seems to have (in many cases) the mobile phone being a creative expression of its owner, be it ringtones, wallpapers or anything else. The article on the Kin posed the question that firstly a phone allegedly designed for a social generation seemed to lack some key features, but also to me the personalization of what was touted as being a “social phone” was not part of its feature. The Kin also brought up the issue that it was another OS that Microsoft had developed for the market and it doesn’t appear to offer support for either the upcoming new Windows mobile platform nor the older version either.
Microsoft has at least 6 operating systems (most of which descending from a common root) for mobile devices. It’s a mess. 6 different attempts don’t add up to one good effort. █
Summary: The problems associated with Windows are explained by another longtime professional in this area; Dell’s reversal regarding GNU/Linux security agitates GNU/Linux users who suspect that Microsoft is at least partly responsible for the change
As Clarke reports, prior to the 1990s, the Pentagon made extensive use of specialized software designed by in-house programmers and a few defense contractors. But under pressure from libertarian ideologues and business lobbyists, the Pentagon began to use commercial software instead — in particular, Microsoft software. However, it turned out that Microsoft had built a low cost brand based on a principle of “one format for all” — rather than software that was tailored to special security needs. Problems soon arose, including, as Clarke recounts, a 1997 incident when the USS Yorktown, a Ticonderoga-class cruiser whose ship operations were administered on computers running Windows NT, was rendered inoperable after Windows crashed. “When the Windows system crashed, as Windows often does,” Clarke writes, “the cruiser became a floating i-brick, dead in the water.” After this and a “legion of other failures of Windows-based systems,” the Pentagon considered a shift to free, open-source operating systems like Linux. The code of open-source software can be altered by the user, and so the government would be free to change the software without interference from companies jealously guarding their design. It is also free.
Such a switch, though, would have been disastrous for Microsoft’s lucrative dealings with the government. The company was already fiercely opposed to regulation of its products’ security; it did not want the added delay and cost of improving its software in order to decrease its vulnerability. If the government switched to open-source software, it could make the improvements itself — but doing so would deal a major blow to Microsoft’s profits. So Microsoft moved to prevent the government from exploring any alternatives. It “went on the warpath,” writes Clarke, threatening to “stop cooperating” with the government if it adopted an open-source platform. It made major campaign contributions and hired a small army of lobbyists. Clarke outlines their purpose as: “don’t regulate security in the software industry, don’t let the Pentagon stop using our software no matter how many security flaws it has, and don’t say anything about software production overseas or deals with China.” (China, security experts feared, could plant logic bombs and malware into the software.)
Clarke reports that Microsoft insiders admitted that the company “really did not take security seriously,” because “there was no real alternative to its software, and they were swimming in money from their profits.”
For those who have not noticed, we updated twice each post about the Dell incident (it says “Updatedx2″) in order to show the response to what Dell had done [1, 2]. People alleged that Microsoft was responsible for changes in security advice and here is another new example of a rant:
Gosh, I wonder how many lawyers, and how many threats, it took to get that changed, and whose payroll the lawyers were on, and who was making the threats?
I think I’ll go over in the corner and hurl now. The whole situation, and the disgusting company behind it all, makes me ill.
Summary: Former journalist explains why Microsoft’s gifts qualify as a bribe
SEVERAL days ago we showed separate arguments that accused Microsoft of bribery [1, 2]. Microsoft bribes in many situations and journalists know very well the meaning of it. Here is one person who openly speaks out about the intention.
“Yes, Microsoft basically bribed the press,” said the author (also here). “When I was a newspaper journalist working for a business publication, PR houses would send us free stuff all day, every day. The ethical line was a frequent consideration and lots (I mean LOTS) of gifts were returned to sender.
“…the way Microsoft went about their gifting today smacks of bribery and toe-sucking.” –Former newspaper journalist“I do not expect anyone in the gaming press will be refusing their free consoles … Even though virtually everyone already has an older 360 model.
“While there is a valid ethical response to accepting the thing — hardware reviews are a vital keystone in the gaming press — the way Microsoft went about their gifting today smacks of bribery and toe-sucking.”
This bribe won’t just affect coverage of the Xbox 360. Those journalists will think of Microsoft every time they play some game on this Xbox 360 Microsoft bought them. They’re indebted. It’s a bribe. █
“I’ve been thinking long and hard about this, and the only conclusion I can come to is that this is ethically indistinguishable from bribery. Even if no quid-pro-quo is formally required, the gift creates a social obligation of reciprocity. This is best explained in Cialdini’s book Influence (a summary is here). The blogger will feel some obligation to return the favor to Microsoft.”