07.02.10

Microsoft and Apple Both Sued (Class Action) for Mobile Phone Disasters, Sidekick May Die Like KIN

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, Microsoft at 10:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft dirty tactics
Click image for full-sized version

Summary: T-Mobile is finally dumping Microsoft’s Sidekick and Apple’s problems receive scrutiny from Ghabuntu

THE LIST of dead products from Microsoft continues to grow at a rapid pace not just with the addition of KIN to it. Based on today’s news, Sidekick is being abandoned too, at least by T-Mobile.

T-Mobile USA has decided to discontinue sales of the Sidekick family of devices starting on July 2. A T-Mobile spokesperson said to Phone Scoop in an email, “As T-Mobile looks to further innovate and raise the bar for the next iteration of the T-Mobile Sidekick, as of July 2, the Sidekick LX and Sidekick 2008 will no longer be available through T-Mobile, including retail stores, care, telesales and online. While we work on the next chapter of our storied Sidekick franchise, T-Mobile will continue to provide our loyal Sidekick customers with product service and support. Stay tuned for exciting updates in the months ahead, which we expect will provide customers with a new and fresh experience.”

Without T-Mobile, Sidekick is almost dead.

Zune may be next (all models). Almost nobody buys any and its software is of no use for the “Zune phone” (KIN) anymore.

Separately, Ghabuntu pokes fun at Apple, which is now being sued massively for its defective hypePhones, just like Microsoft was sued for the Sidekick disaster at T-Mobile last year. “A cult called Apple” is what Ghabuntu labels the whole situation, as did we.

For some technical miscalculations, users are unable to get a good cellular reception when the phone is gripped in a certain way. When the complaints got to Steve Jobs, his reply was simply to “either hold it the way I’m showing you or get the case”. Only problem is, the case comes at a damage of $29. Phew.

I have been wondering a lot with all the massive publicity that Apple gets and the range of products it releases whether it is more of a cult than a company. Apple almost always releases completely locked down products with features that other competing products have had long before it and yet you have its users (I’m talking to you fanboys) applauding it incessantly.

The difference between Microsoft and Apple is, when Microsoft screws up there is almost nobody who voluntarily defends it, just hired agents (which Apple has too) and bribed individuals.

Rumour: Microsoft Executives-Run Company to Buy Novell (Updated)

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Red Hat, Virtualisation, VMware at 9:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EMC and Microsoft

Summary: Defensible rumours have begun floating about, saying that VMware’s deal with Novell will become more than just a collaboration deal

SEVERAL weeks ago we wrote that VMware, which is run by former Microsoft employees after EMC’s intervention, might buy Novell.

There are now concurring rumours about it:

This week I’ve had some questions from people on how this “Strategic Partnership” between Novell and VMware, could be the first step to VMware buying Novell or a number of products from Novell. This got me thinking on if that could really be an interesting move for VMware.

The VAR Guy cites the above and writes:

VMware and Novell: Merger Rumor or More?

The speculation won’t go away. Several companies apparently have bid to acquire Novell. Some pundits think VMware is among the bidders. Why’s that? The short answer involves a mutual enemy called, um, Red Hat (assuming you believe the rumor).

[...]

The VAR Guy wonders: Does VMware see the market similarly? If so, does that mean VMware is willing to pay $2 billion or more to acquire Novell? Plenty of open source pundits are speculating about a potential VMware-Novell merger or acquisition.

The Microsoft booster links to both of the above [1, 2]. As we explained twice last month, VMware is against Red Hat [1, 2]. A takeover of Novell would put former Microsoft executives like Maritz on top of Novell.

Novell coffee

Update: Sam Dean considers this takeover unlikely.

Is Miguel de Icaza Preparing for a Career at Microsoft?

Posted in Apple, Boycott Novell, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Vista 8, Windows at 9:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The Microsoft MVP who is also a vice president at Novell says what he would do if he was in charge of Vista 8

WE rarely use question marks in headlines, but this one almost begs for it. In fact, the news came to our attention by this good blog whose headline asks, “Miguel de Icaza: Secret Desire To Head Windows 8?” To quote the crux of the argument regarding this ego trip:

Miguel De Icaza is a known Microsoft supporter. He is often criticized for his endorsement of Microsoft product — he was heavily criticized for endorsing Microsoft’s controversial OOXML standarad.

Many call him a traitor as he leads the Mono project to implement Microsoft’s new .NET development platform on Linux and Unix-like platforms. Now, Icaza returns, suggesting what Microsoft should do to improve the next version of Windows, rumored as Windows 8.

He goes at length taking pains and suggesting what Microsoft should do to improve. Wow! No wonder its coming from Icaza, the long time supporter of Microsoft.

This whole vapourware routine around Vista 8 is a subject we wrote about twice at the beginning of this week [1, 2]. It’s funny that after all those years, Microsoft MVP de Icaza is still fascinated with everything from Microsoft. “At Microsoft I learned the truth about ActiveX and COM and I got very interested in it inmediately [sic],” he wrote about a decade ago and nowadays he drools over Silverlight (de Icaza is also pushing some more Apple stuff this week). Several days ago IDG published this article:

Novell’s de Icaza: ‘People are scared of installing software on Windows’

[...]

While de Icaza may be right that developers and users harbor concerns about Windows, it’s unlikely the developer community would reject the App Store concept entirely. Microsoft’s .NET Framework is popular with developers, and Windows’ mammoth market share will likely lure in developers, even those concerned about making applications run properly on Windows.

Why is he so concerned about Microsoft’s monopoly prevailing (his work on Mono and Moonlight contributes to that)? Why is he still trying to help Microsoft? We don’t wish to end with a question, so instead we’ll suggest that de Icaza views Microsoft as an ally, not a competitor, despite all that we know.

“I once preached peaceful coexistence with Windows. You may laugh at my expense — I deserve it.”

Be’s CEO Jean-Louis Gassée

Freedom Defenders Look at the Glass Half Full in the Bilski Aftermath

Posted in Free/Libre Software, IBM, Law, Patents at 9:17 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

John Paul Stevens, SCOTUS photo - portrait
John Paul Stevens retires at the age of 90 as the Bilski decision comes out

Summary: A look at the (mostly) positive analyses resulting from the ruling where Stevens was unable to convince a majority of his peers to pull the plug on software patents

THIS is probably our last post that summarises responses to the decision from SCOTUS.

Our goal is to inform readers of interpretations that relevant groups have shared regarding the Bilski case, so it’s more of an overview that encourages to read further into the references. As I started before, IANAL (I am not a lawyer), so I will make no attempt to interpret the document myself and insinuate that my verdict is an informed one. Others who are not lawyers/paralegal researchers do attempt to do just that and they drown out the signal.

“The explanations and reasoning from the SCOTUS can be interpreted in all sorts of ways because there is a lot of ambiguity and not all judges subscribe to the same portions of the ruling.”Major publications like the New York Times and Washington Post have both covered this ruling [1, 2], which threw out the patent of Bernard Bilski (that is probably the only fact we know for sure).

The explanations and reasoning from the SCOTUS can be interpreted in all sorts of ways because there is a lot of ambiguity and not all judges subscribe to the same portions of the ruling. In fact, the decision was a very close one and there was a 4-to-5 vote at end.

Pogson offers some reflections on Bilski. He is a Free software proponent and not a lawyer but a teacher and engineer.

The only way this issue can be settled promptly now is by legislation. M$ and its buddies will be lobbying fiercely to have the patent laws explicitly accept software. Unfortunately for them, all software, except perhaps in a controller where the software cannot possibly have multiple uses, is abstract. That is to say, programmes written in a high-level language do not even deal with bits let alone reality. They deal in variables and data-structures, abstractions in themselves. If the legislators allow software patents, they will have to allow patents on abstractions, something they will not do or cannot. That would throw our thoughts and all freedom under the bus. Indeed, one brief they did not reference was about freedom of speech as software. Patents cannot be allowed to restrict freedom of speech.

Michael Barclay, a lawyer, wrote for the EFF that “The Supreme Court Declines to Prohibit Business Method Patents” (his chosen headline). APRIL, a French advocacy group for Free software wrote about this too and here is the summary from its statement which it titled “Bilski case: the United States starts to clean the software patents minefield”

The US Supreme Court has issued on Monday a ruling that many people had been waiting for in the so-called “Bilski” case1, regarding a patent on a business method. This decision, even though it does not exclude every software from patentability, invalidates a majority of them, including those patents on computer implemented intellectual methods. It is now time for European lawmakers to halt software patents’ proliferation in Europe.

The FSF’s Peter Brown looks at/accentuates the positives:

Bilski gave us a wonderful opportunity to increase awareness to the harm caused by software patents. More scholars, more developers, more journalists, more politicians, and more patent attorneys than ever before have heard from our community on this issue. What’s next?

So again we see an example of the FSF being positive, not negative. It is mostly constructive in its approach, contrary to claims from those who wish to daemonise the FSF. Yesterday we summarised some opinions from the SFLC's Professor Dan Ravicher. There is also a new summary at Groklaw, focusing on Stevens (whose role Ravicher did not particularly like because of cynicism). Pamela Jones argued about Stevens:

He’s actually read and absorbed James Bessen’s book Patent Failure and he comprehends the dangers and the costs that such patents present. Thank you, Jim Bessen (and co-authors Mike Meurer, Eric Maskin and Bob Hunt), for all your careful and helpful work, educating judges and lawyers to the dangers of software patents. Significantly, Stevens is joined by Justices Ginsburg, Breyer and Sotomayor. Even Justice Scalia, in a separate concurring opinion written by Justice Breyer, agreed that business methods should not be granted patents. That’s five Supreme Court judges. As Tom Goldstein of SCOTUSblog points out in his analysis of the Bilski opinion, that means that business methods patents survived by a single vote. And even at that, the opinion stated that few such methods should be granted a patent.

Here is another decent analysis from a legal blog. It’s outlined as follows: [via Digital Majority]

Sifting through the clues to patentability: Four take-home points from Bilski’s mixed bag

[...]

1) State Street Bank’s “useful, concrete, and tangible result” test is dead.

[...]

2) Abstract ideas likely include “basic concepts” and methods that can be reduced to a mathematical formula.

[...]

3) Parker v. Flook’s “field of use” and “postsolution activity” limitations are alive and well.

[...]

4) Expect more Section 101 challenges, especially at the early stages of patent litigation.

Rob Tiller from Red Hat (he too is a lawyer) wrote about this decision in a rush (Red Hat worked vigourously to eliminate software patents, unlike IBM).

Dana Blankenhorn correctly points out that Florian Müller is unfairly singling out IBM, as though IBM was the sole proponent of software patents.

Given the failure of the Bilski case to change the status quo regarding software and business method patents, the search is on for scapegoats, for weak sisters in the anti-patent fight who can be made open to criticism.

It is similar to what happens after a losing political campaign. Those most committed to the cause argue that it’s weak supporters, those willing to do business under the given circumstances, who are responsible for their political failure.

So it is that Florian Mueller of Fosspatents has seized upon IBM.

We have grown increasingly suspicious of Müller. He keeps trying to find ‘enemies’ other than Microsoft and then incite the “FOSS” crowd (as in “FOSSPatents” @ Blogspot) against that imaginary boogeyman. IBM is a favoured choice for a scapegoat due to its size, regardless of its many contributions to “FOSS”, which are very much appreciated. As one commenter puts it in Blankenhorn’s blog, “Now, I understand what Free Software is (as in Richard Stallman’s stance), and I understand what Open Source is (as in Eric Raymond’s stance). And isn’t the definition of FOSS is the union of Free Software and Open Source Software – i.e., F/OSS.

“Dana – what do you mean by FOSS? Are you confusing FOSS with Open Source?”

Florian defended proprietary software in Techrights comments; he is not a proponent of the “F” in FOSS, as even his lobby with MySQL helped to show. In many new posts about “interoperability” as the theme in the headlines (the word “interoperability” is used to dodge open standards), Müller continues to sing the same tune this week. About an hour ago he mailed me to incite against Apple at Microsoft’s expense. Typical. In his blog he currently promotes action and regulation against Microsoft adversaries.

As the old saying goes, Müller “has got some ‘splaining to do”. Only a mule would not change its stance when new information arrives and given what we have shown him about Microsoft, he continues to ignore Microsoft’s negative effects on “FOSS” (especially the “F”, which means freedom).

As the Bilski hype draws to a close, some go further and ask themselves about the impact as far as biotech patents are concerned (think Monsanto).

A Supreme Court ruling June 28 on idea patents disappointed those hoping for an overhaul of intellectual property claims for software, but it may inspire new patent tests aimed at the legally troublesome biotechnology field.

According to the court, the widely followed “machine-or-transformation” test — which limits patents to machines designed for a specific purpose, or processes that physically transform an object — is outdated. This test is also at the heart of at least two other legal cases currently being contested that could shape the future of the biotech business.

Patents on life? Why not? It’s good for lawyers. Apparently life counts as an “invention” now (if genes are perturbed in scarcely or totally misunderstood ways) to yield seemingly-desirable traits. Just ignore the side effects, much like in the patent system.

Glass filled

Links 2/7/2010: Opera 10.60 Out, Many Firefox 4.0 Previews

Posted in News Roundup at 8:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • A Million New GNU/Linux Users Each Week

    This is it, apparently. Last year was the year GNU/Linux opened the door. This year, people are walking through, into the light.

    160000 Android-y smartphones are being sold daily.

    They will like to use GNU/Linux on their desktop/notebook and netbook PCs as well. You can count on it. What OS is in their hands, at body temperature? What OS is with them between stops? What OS just works and does what they need doing instead of letting in malware and spam? What OS lowers their cost of ownership?

  • Linux Consulting Dilemma

    I live in mountainous Northwest Montana. I have always been intrigued by an attitude from my US Forrest Service friends who each summer tell me they are, “hoping there are lots of big forest fires this summer”. What…I thought Smokey the Bear wanted to prevent forest fires. But no, many of those who work for the US Forrest Service actually depend on fighting fires to provide the finances for their vacations and Holidays. Now let me be quick to say these people do not start fires nor encourage starting fires, it just works out that forest disasters are great paydays.

    [...]

    It must be a part of life, as when you look at Linux consulting you have the same dilemma. Consulting without education and documentation is just as empty and self serving as those in the US Forrest Service who hope for fires or those who repair your virus laden Windows machine hoping to strike it rich once again when you click on the tempting email. Linux consultants can live in that “outer zone” that makes them special and prevents them from communicating the changes they made for the client in a way that educates the client, thus rendering the consultant unnecessary. Or, neglecting documenting changes for the client, forcing the client to call for more help down the road when the system updates.

  • Desktop

    • Rescuing Yet Another PC From That Other OS

      And so it goes on. That other OS keeps messing up and I show no mercy, installing Debian GNU/Linux left, right and centre, wherever I go. I used to struggle tuning up those systems to keep them going but it was way more work than migrating. I have lost count of the kills but it must be close to 100 PCs and I will be another school year in this community. Perhaps I will run out of machines to convert.

    • Booting

      I had a laugh when I read this note on booting operating systems. Every day, I see the lady across the hall boot her XP machine and go for coffee… She is a fine teacher but has too much patience for that other OS. Sadly, she is leaving us to teach in another community next year. I will put in one of the new PCs with GNU/Linux in place of her machine for next year.

    • 16 Gorgeous Linux Wallpapers From Pr09studio

      Pr09studio guys are also actively contributing for bisigi themes project and they really do have some stunning wallpapers to showcase. Here, I have deliberately tried to avoid wallpapers with branding for most part, but some wallpapers with branding are worth mentioning. So here it goes, 16 beautiful Linux wallpapers for desktop.

  • Graphics Stack

    • Graphics drivers

      There are only two tasks harder than writing Free Software graphics drivers. One is running a successful crocodile petting zoo, the other is wireless bungee jumping.

      In general writing graphics drivers is hard. The number of people who can actually do it is very small and the ones who can do it well are usually doing it full-time already. Unless the company, which those folks are working for, supports open drivers, the earliest someone can start working on open drivers is the day the hardware is officially available. That’s already about 2 years too late, maybe a year if the hardware is just an incremental update. Obviously not a lot of programmers have the motivation to do that. Small subset of the already very small subset of programmers who can write drivers. Each of them worth their weight in gold (double, since they’re usually pretty skinny).

    • Qualcomm Releases Open-Source 2D/3D Kernel Driver

      If you happen to have Google’s Nexus One or other phones based upon Qualcomm’s Snapdragon processor, there is great news today. Qualcomm has just released an open-source 2D/3D kernel driver for their OpenGL ES graphics processor. This Qualcomm kernel driver provides support for interrupts, command streams, context switching, memory management, etc. Qualcomm is looking to push this code into the mainline Linux kernel ASAP.

    • Qualcomm’s Open Kernel Driver Leads To A Dirty Mess

      Well, it sounded nice when Qualcomm announced an open-source 2D/3D kernel driver for their Snapdragon platform that’s used by phones like the Nexus One and Dell Streak, but it turns out that their user-space Linux driver that hooks into this kernel driver is currently a closed-source blob. This has led to the eternal debate about open-source kernel components but with only closed-source components.

    • xorg-server 1.8.2

      The second stable release for the X server 1.8 series is now available. As previously announced, no new commits over RC2 and no-one threatened me with extradition over the DRI2 backports – hence they’re staying in.

      This is the last regular 1.8 release unless someone else wants to take over as RM. Until that happens, the server-1.8-branch is open. If you have patches that you think are necessary for the 1.8 series, please push them there.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Applications to make your KDE more powerful and smarter
    • No GUADEC this time

      A small announcement to mention that I won’t be at GUADEC this year. So if you’re expecting to see me there to chat about something, harass or just hang out we’ll need to figure out a virtual method for all those. This isn’t because I’m avoiding anyone, I’ve fallen in love with Qt and C++ or that there’s a warrant for my arrest in The Hague for being too sexy (trying to cover all the rumors).

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Freer Trade Agreement Between Taiwan and China

      Mainland China is less so. It will be interesting to see how this plays out. I expect China will be a huge market for netbooks and the lower the price, the better so ARM and GNU/Linux should do well. If netbooks drop in price, perhaps smartphones will too. Demand will increase which has the opposite effect but the Chinese can rapidly increase the number of consumers at lower prices. That is, cutting prices can multiply the volume and yield larger profits if the cost is less.

    • Big-screen Kindle gains new screen technology

      Amazon.com announced an updated version of its large-screen. Linux-based Kindle DX e-reader, with the price dropped from $489 to $379. The Kindle DX maintains its 9.7-inch screen, but moves to a new E Ink technology claimed to offer 50 percent better contrast, says the company.

    • Nokia/MeeGo

      • Linux Foundation releases Meego for developers

        THE LINUX FOUNDATION has released a “Day 1″ version of the Meego handset distribution.

        Meego is the Linux based operating system being championed by Intel and Nokia for mobile devices including phones and tablets. It has recently been chosen by Nokia to replace its aging Symbian OS on the firm’s high end N-series mobile phones. This release is likely to pave the way for other handsets to run the operating system.

    • Android

    • Tablets

      • Will Android Cius Kill iPad?

        John Chambers, the CEO of Cisco today unveiled Cisco Cius, a first-of-its-kind mobile collaboration business tablet that delivers virtual desktop integration with anywhere, anytime access to the full range of Cisco collaboration and communication applications, including HD video.

        Cisco Cius is an ultra-portable device weighing just 1.15lbs (0.52kg) that extends the productivity benefits of Cisco collaboration applications to a highly secure mobile platform. In addition to full telepresence interoperability, Cisco Cius offers HD video streaming and real-time video, multi-party conferencing, email, messaging, browsing, and the ability to produce, edit and share content stored locally or centrally in the cloud.

      • HP closes Palm deal, confirms WebOS tablet

        Hewlett-Packard today finalized its acquisition of Palm and confirmed it will use the company’s WebOS in future tablets and netbooks.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Proprietary or Open Source: The Eternal Dilemma

    While setting up the IT infrastructure for your business, one of the dilemmas you will run into is the classic one—open source versus licensed software. Windows or Linux, Microsoft Office or Open Office, proprietary accounting software or open source—the dilemma may manifest in any or all of these as well as other forms, but at the core it will be about proprietary versus free and/or open source software (FOSS).

  • Keynote Brings End-To-End Monitoring to Nagios Open Source

    Keynote Systems’ Enterprise Adapter 2.0 performance and availability alerts now work with Nagios open source monitoring software. The offering allows IT and operations team using Nagios to get a complete end-to-end view of runtime ops from backend infrastructure all the way to the desktop or mobile end user

  • Open source logic analyzer software
  • Open Source monitoring tools and visibility

    Presented in both English and German, this event is designed to centre on the Nagios IT infrastructure and network monitoring platform. The Nagios solution claims to be able to highlight and help resolve critical business problems associated with open source architectures before they arise.

  • Web Browsers

    • Epiphany: An efficient, but different, web browser

      There are a few things Epiphany handles differently than most browsers. One of those is bookmarks. With Epiphany you will not find a bookmark toolbar, but the way it does bookmarks is rather interesting. In this article I will show you how to work with bookmarks in Epiphany as well as keeping this little browser from crashing on you every few seconds.

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox Reaches 2 Billion Add-Ons Downloaded

        Firefox is the preferred browser of many a seasoned netizen, and it’s got the stats to prove it: As of today, Firefox users have collectively downloaded more than two billion add-ons.

      • Firefox Main Window Study: A Heatmap Visualization
      • Firefox Main Window Study: A Heatmap Visualization

        We usually display study results in charts and graphs on this blog, but for this study, we were inspired by the work of principal designer, Alex Faaborg, and came up with a slightly different kind of visualization. Back in March, Alex created a heatmap to visualize the menu study data (his post is also a great example of how the UX team is using Test Pilot data to inform design decisions).

      • Visualizing the Usage of Firefox’s Main Window

        This study was similar to an early one that we ran on the traditional menu bar interface.

      • Moving Firefox Fourwards

        Firefox finds itself at an interesting juncture: not only is Google’s Chrome managing to gain some serious market share, but even Microsoft Internet Explorer is starting to fight back – although it remains to be seen whether that trend is sustained or not. That puts a lot of responsibility on the shoulders of the forthcoming Firefox 4 and its team: Mozilla needs to show that it has not lost the initiative, and that it is still in the driving seat as far as the browser market is concerned.

      • Sync 1.4 and the status bar

        As we move closer to inclusion in Firefox 4, and the add-on continues to become more performant and stable, we feel it is the right time to move the UI into the background. An important factor in this decision is that we will be tuning Sync to update smaller chunks, more frequently, when you’re actually using a particular device. Currently we default to hourly syncs between multiple computers, which is something that will change very soon. At a greatly-increased frequency, the visual distraction (and the performance overhead of continuous UI updates) was not going to be acceptable, so we needed to make changes. That said, no first attempt is perfect, and we still have work to do on the concerns noted above.

      • Meet Test Pilot in Firefox 4 Beta
      • Mozilla Firefox 4 Pre Beta 2

        Firefox has won a legion of users and programmers due to security, speed and new features. From time to time Mozilla release beta versions of their browser. These versions are earning the name of Minefield, that doesn’t have perfect stability, factor that makes it true Minefield.

  • Search/MapReduce

    • Talend makes it easy to do big data crunching with Hadoop

      Yahoo is marking the fifth birthday, more or less, of its Hadoop technology. The open-source software allows Java programmers to process large amounts of data using distributed computing techniques. Inspired by Google’s MapReduce and Google File System, which make it possible to search the Internet in a fraction of a second, Hadoop is available free for anyone to use.

  • CMS

    • N-VA using Drupal

      The New Flemish Alliance (Dutch: Nieuw-Vlaamse Alliantie, abbreviated as N-VA) is using Drupal for their website: http://www.n-va.be. The N-VA is a Flemish political party. They became the largest party in both Flanders and Belgium in the 2010 federal elections a few weeks ago.

  • Healthcare

    • HP edging toward VistA support?

      Some hints of change may be found at HP’s former Avaya unit. Avaya, now an independent company, participated in the recent review of the VA’s VistA software, an open source project since before the term existed.

      Avaya has also renewed its own commitments to HP, in a new three-year channel agreement.HP views its role as that of a system integrator, often working with its EDS unit.

      It’s a balancing act. The question is how long it can continue, whether HP will be forced to make a choice between proprietary and open source solutions, and if so which it will choose.

  • Business

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • [FSF] Free Software Supporter — Issue 27, June 2010

      TABLE OF CONTENTS

      * “Working together for free software” starts
      * Bilski is out
      * FSF says: Take a stand with us for freedom, against ACTA
      * Introducing campaigns summer interns
      * GNU social: Next steps
      * Google’s updated WebM license
      * Defective by Design sticker contest winners announced!
      * More about the App Store GPL Enforcement
      * Patent Absurdity film DVDs sent to over 200 key people
      * Job Opening: FSF Campaigns Manager
      * GNU spotlight with Karl Berry
      * Richard Stallman’s speaking schedule and other FSF events
      * Take action with the FSF!

  • Project Releases

    • GIMP 2.7.1 with new user interface

      With the release of developer version 2.7.1, GIMP users and early adopters have been given the opportunity to preview the new features of the free image editing software’s forthcoming stable 2.8 release. The most important improvement is the graphical user interface (GUI), which has undergone a thorough overhaul. For instance, it now includes a single-window mode which doesn’t display elements such as the tools or layers menus in separate windows next to the image window, instead lining these elements up alongside the image in the same window.

    • The Apache Software Foundation Announces Apache Tomcat Version 7.0
    • Apache updates Tomcat web server

      The open source web server gets a refresh with the latest release from them Apache Software Foundation.

    • World’s first open source MHEG and CI Plus Authoring Tool released

      Digital TV software specialist, Ocean Blue Software, has released its Triton™ MHEG-5 and CI Plus Authoring Tool as an open source and royalty-free product for application authors and developers.

  • Government

    • Open Source: Advocate to Government

      Two years ago a group was founded with the charter of lobbying for the expanded use of Open Source software within the government. The group is called Open Source for America (OSFA), and it has more than 70 members that include companies like Acquia, Alfresco Software, Advanced Micro Devices, Black Duck Software, CollabNet, Debian, Electronic Frontier Foundation, EnterpriseDB, Google, Ingres, Jaspersoft, Mitch Kapor, KnowledgeTree, The Linux Foundation, Lucid Imagination, Mozilla, Novell, Oracle, O’Reilly Publishing, Pentaho, Red Hat, SpikeSource, SugarCRM, and Zimbra.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Would you share with your neighbors?

      We should have all learned that sharing is a good thing at a very early age. I teach my 4-year old son to share. But what about sharing with your friends and neighbors? That’s part of being a community, right?

    • Open Source Sensing Initiatives March Forward

      The Open Source Sensing project has been launched by the Foresight Institute to apply open source principles to the development and governance of sensor-centric initiatives. We wrote about it here. The Open Source Sensing initiative is seeking individuals and organizations to work with it on new applications for sensors.

    • Open Data

      • The open spending data that isn’t… this is not good

        When the coalition announced that councils would have to publish all spending over £500 by January next year, there’s been a palpable excitement in the open data and transparency community at the thought of what could be done with it (not least understanding and improving the balance of councils’ relationships with suppliers).

        Secretary of State for Communities & Local Government Eric Pickles followed this up with a letter to councils saying, “I don’t expect everyone to do it right first time, but I do expect everyone to do it.” Great. Raw Data Now, in the words of Tim-Berners Lee.

  • Programming

    • GitHub introduces Organizations group-owned repositories

      The GitHub developers have introduced a new way to simplify management of group-owned repositories called “Organizations”. With Organizations, users of the open source code hosting service will be able to better manage both distributed and internal teams.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • YouTube Keeps The Web Locked To Adobe Flash

      YouTube has endorsed Adobe Flash and raised questions about the ability of <video> tag to deliver the rich experience YouTube offers via Adobe Flash. The dependence on proprietary Flash means a non-free, non-open Web, contrary to what YouTube’s parent company Google preaches.

      John Harding, Software Engineer, YouTube wrote on his blog, “It’s important to understand what a site like YouTube needs from the browser in order to provide a good experience for viewers as well as content creators. We need to do more than just point the browser at a video file like the image tag does – there’s a lot more to it than just retrieving and displaying a video. The <video> tag certainly addresses the basic requirements and is making good progress on meeting others, but the <video> tag does not currently meet all the needs of a site like YouTube.”

Leftovers

  • Another Journalist Seduced By App Madness Predicts The End Of The Web

    We’ve talked a few times about the media’s obsession with “apps” as the solution to what ails them. They get one glance at the control that an app appears to provide, and they go wobbly in the knees and fail to consider basic trends and basic economics. As a few folks have noted, locked down apps are like the CD-ROM craze among media types just as the web first became popular. Who won that battle?

    The latest reporter to fall under the sway of the app-run future is The Atlantic’s Michael Hirschorn — a writer who’s work I usually like quite a bit. He writes eloquently about the “closing of the digital frontier,” and predicts that the days of the browser are dying, as the days of the app are rising. In the process, he misleadingly attacks the basic economics of free, the history of Silicon Valley, and some rather important trends.

    [...]

    Wait. Which “old” entertainment industry is he talking about here that put its most expensively produced products onto the internet for free? Last I checked, we seem to have a new story pretty much every single day about just how hard the old entertainment industry is fighting to stop its content from being online for free. Furthermore, in the few cases where they have put stuff online for free, it’s not because they were “striving to prove they were fit for the digital era’s freewheeling information/entertainment bazaar,” but because they were dragged kicking and screaming after someone pointed out to them that others had already put all their content online for free, and that if you put your content online, you actually had some ability to monetize it — whereas, if you left it to everyone else, you made that more difficult. Somehow Hirschorn doesn’t know this. It makes me wonder if he even uses the same internet the rest of us use.

  • Science

  • Environment

    • Cheap is Nice, But it’s Not Everything: Natural Gas

      A barrel of oil contains 5.8 million BTU and can be purchased today for $77.00. But in natural gas, using today’s price of $4.80 per million BTU, you can obtain the same quantity of energy for $27.85. This price discount started developing as far back as 2005, but did not reach its current levels until after the deflationary crash of 2008. Natural gas, it should be mentioned, had always carried a small discount to oil owing to the latter’s versatility as a liquid and its greater penetration into industrial society. The present day discount is historic however. Especially with respect to its duration.

  • Finance

    • ‘A Gigantic Ponzi Scheme, Lies and Fraud’: Howard Davidowitz on Wall Street

      Day one of the Financial Crisis Inquiry Commission’s two-day hearing on AIG derivatives contracts featured testimony from Joseph Cassano, the former head of AIG’s financial products unit. Goldman Sachs president Gary Cohn was also on the Hill.

      Meanwhile, the Democrats are still trying to salvage the regulatory reform bill, with critical support from Senator Scott Brown (R-Mass.) reportedly still uncertain.

      According to Howard Davidowitz of Davidowitz & Associates, what connects the hearings and the Reg reform debate is the lack of focus on the real underlying cause of the financial crisis: Fraud.

      “It was a massive fraud… a gigantic Ponzi Scheme, a lie and a fraud,” Davidowitz says of Wall Street circa 2007. “The whole thing was a fraud and it gets back to the accountants valuing the assets incorrectly.”

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Larry Lessig takes on Washington

      He describes the problem in Washington and other institutions as an “economy of influence,” and he is shining the light on the funding link between interests, lobbyists, and politicians. Lessig started Change Congress and urged people to withhold donations from politicians who don’t support citizen-funded elections. He called for an Article V constitutional convention to get Congress’ attention. He’s on the speaking circuit advocating for the Fair Elections Now Act. In a short period of time, this copyright reform advocate has become one of the leading voices in the campaign finance reform movement.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • High price of medicines becomes political issue in EU

      Both Greece and Spain have taken unilateral measures to try to bring down the price of patented medicines purchased by public health systems that are now under special stress due to the public debt crisis of these countries. A conservative Greek member of the European Parliament has requested the establishment of a European Observatory on the price of medicines.

    • Copyrights

      • Woman Jailed 2 Days for Filming Movie Screen Sues Theater

        A 22-year-old woman jailed two days in November after being arrested for filming two brief snippets of a motion picture is lashing back at the theater, claiming its manager demanded her arrest despite the police department’s reluctance.

        In a civil suit lodged in federal court in Illinois, Samantha Tumpach claims local police and the Motion Picture Association of American recommended against arresting her. A felony theater-filming charge that risked up to three years in prison was subsequently dropped.

      • RIAA Outraged by YouTube-Viacom Decision

        The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) on Monday voiced its opposition to the recent decision in the YouTube-Viacom copyright infringement case.

        “We believe that the district court’s dangerously expansive reading of the liability immunity provisions of the [Digital Millennium Copyright Act] DMCA upsets the careful balance struck within the law and is bad public policy,” Cary Sherman, RIAA president, wrote in a blog post. “It will actually discourage service providers from taking steps to minimize the illegal exchange of copyrighted works on their sites.”

      • TV Show Released On BitTorrent Raises $20,000 Pretty Damn Fast

        You may have seen the recent stories about the “TV show” Pioneer One that was made with the plan all along to release the show on BitTorrent, and to set up a tiered system to fund future episodes. While some people insist that BitTorrent users never download authorized content, after the show was released, it quickly became a top download beating out lots of more “famous” competitors. On top of that, it appears that people are donating. Zubin Madon alerts us to the news that in just about a week, the producers of the show have hit their goal of raising $20,000 to produce the next batch of episodes.

      • “Twilight” 8-Bit Viral Hit Comes Back to Life After DMCA Takedown

        Remember that rather rad 8-Bit Twilight game we covered the other day? Well, earlier today we were contacted by the creators, The Fine Brothers, who informed us that Summit Entertainment LLC — the studio behind Twilight – asked for the video to be taken down due to copyright infringement. Then, a few hours later, the game was reinstated.

    • Digital Economy Bill

      • Time for some Digital Economy Act Economy

        For readers of this blog, one of the obvious applications of this site is to seek the repeal of the Digital Economy Act, which was pushed through with such indecent haste just before the General Election, with practically no scrutiny, and a fistful of unworkable proposals.

Clip of the Day

CLUG AGM 24 Nov 2009 – Interfacing with the real world (2009)


Should We Increase Use of Multimedia Objects in Techrights?

Posted in Site News at 3:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Registered users’ opinion on whether we should include and promote greater use of <video> and <audio>

I

n recent days we’ve experimented with and added loads of multimedia, both audio and video. We use Ogg Vorbis/Theora for this, knowing that most visitors are using Web browsers that support these file types. But what do you think? We’ve started a quick poll (open to subscribed/registered users only, for technical reasons related to page cache) which asks, “should we increase use of multimedia objects in Techrights?” One can find the poll on the right hand side (probably needs scrolling down a bit). Here is an old demo of Metisse on GNU/Linux.


Apple Sued (Class Action) for Producing a Defective hypePhone 4

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 2:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Apple ‘pulled a Toyota’ and this is costing it dearly in the battle against Linux

SOME OF THE LATEST charts suggest that hypePhone is losing to Android, which is based on Linux but is not exactly as free as MeeGo. In any event, contributing to Apple’s future demise in the phones market will be the fact that it rushed its latest hypePhone and brought it into the market with serious flaws that may not be fixable with a software patch. In other words, Apple has ‘pulled a Toyota’ [1, 2]. It’s no surprise that Apple resorted to suing with software patents. That’s what losers do.

Apple Insider speaks about the lawsuits that Apple is facing. “At least three class-action complaints were filed in California, Maryland, and Texas,” says the report.

Numerous lawsuits were filed this week against Apple, as a number of consumers hope to take the company to task over reception issues that arise with the new iPhone 4 when the left side of the device is covered with a hand.

At least three class-action complaints were filed in California, Maryland, and Texas. The largest was filed in a U.S. District Court in Oakland, Calif., and has a list of 11 plaintiffs included in the complaint, residing in California and New Jersey. The other two each include one plaintiff.

MobileCrunch says that “Apple’s callous response to iPhone 4 defect matched only by its fanboys’ blind dedication”:

What’s more sad: the very fact that the iPhone 4 is completely unusable if you’re left-handed—President Obama is left-handed!— or that Apple fanboys are doing everything in their power to divert attention away from the issue? Check MacRumors. It’s a fine site, yes, and one I read every day, but to call it an “Apple fan site” would be like calling the Sun hot. “Upset that your brand new iPhone 4 doesn’t work? Don’t be: other phones do this, too!” Because that’s what you want to hear: your phone may be a piece of junk, but so is the other guy’s phone, so it all works out. Um, no. It doesn’t work like that.

CrunchGear says that “All-in-one computer sales up 63 percent (but Apple losing out)”:

Apple’s all-in-one market share is expected to drop from 50 percent (in 2009) to 38 percent (in 2010). HP, MSI, and Lenovo are expected to gain where Apple has lost.

Now on to some humour, there are many jokes about hypePhone 4 around the Web [1, 1]. There is already a Downfall video titled “Hitler Reacts to the iPhone 4 Antenna Issues”. Here it is as Ogg Theora.


The end recommends a Linux-based phone.

Here is the message titled “What can the Apple iPad be used as?”

*iPad cannot be used as a phone because …..*

….. It cannot make calls. Period

*iPad cannot be used as a replacement for your laptop or netbook because …..
*

….. It does not have a multi-tasking OS
….. It does not have a Drag & Drop file management
….. It does not have a USB port
….. Its storage maxes out at a paltry 64 GB & has no expandable memory slot
….. It does not have a HDMI port

GNU/Linux is making good tablets.

As for Microsoft in the mobile market, this new post from OpenBytes is agreeing with our prediction that Zune may be axed after the "KIN" died.

Not one person involved in the Kin project turned around and said “hang on folks, isn’t this Kin a bit of a pig?” apparently not since it was thrown into the market which was hungry for other products.

It is also rumoured that Zune (the ipod beater that never was) may go the same route, which leads onto another important point.

The important point worth making is that proprietary platforms increasingly fail in the market. Attempts to reinvent the wheel result in inferior products that cost too much to produce.

Pre-Alpha of MeeGo (GNU/Linux) on Tablets

Posted in GNU/Linux, Videos at 1:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A glimpse at the Nokia- and Intel-developed platform for phones, sub-notebooks, and tablets


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