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Links 31/8/2010: KDE 4.5.1, Linux 2.6.36 RC3, ACTA Threat Looming

Posted in News Roundup at 6:28 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Corporate America’s Cruel Linux Hoax

    Corporate America is playing a cruel joke on Linux desktop. Businesses benefit from free Linux, improving their bottom line on the shoulders of Linux — all the while ignoring (and damaging I think) the Linux desktop.

    Linux servers toil in back rooms bringing big bucks to companies smart enough to use them. What do these companies install on their employees’ desktops? Windows, of course! It is no small irony that some (if not most) of Linux’s biggest beneficiaries are Linux desktop’s worst sponsors.

    This hardly seems fair, and worse, seems almost unethical. The ultimate irony is that Corporate America spurns a technology it loves — a technology poised to reap benefits much like the benefits of Linux servers.

  • Desktop

    • [HeliOS Project] Movin’ On…

      The first part of that procedure is to take care of our substantial amount of E-waste we have collected.

      We have a bunch of it.

  • Kernel Space

    • Linux 2.6.36-rc3 Kernel Released

      Linus Torvalds has just done a Sunday afternoon release of the Linux 2.6.36-rc3 kernel. With the merge window for the Linux 2.6.36 kernel having closed a few weeks ago, the third 2.6.36 release candidate isn’t too exciting unless you were affected by one of the kernel’s outstanding bugs.

    • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • KDE Releases 4.5.1

        Today, KDE updated the Applications, Platform and Plasma Workspaces to 4.5.1, new releases bringing a number of important bugfixes on top of 4.5.0. 4.5.0 was released only three weeks ago and receives monthly service updates. 4.5.1 is the first in this series of bugfix and translation updates. These releases improve stability and the user experience further, while not bringing major new features or bigger changes to the user interface. 4.5.1 is a safe upgrade for anybody running 4.5.0. 4.5.1 has been dubbed “Cronjob” as it is one of the regular releases published by KDE, just like a cronjob does.

      • KDE Software Compilation 4.5.1 Released: Codename “Cronjob”
  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • Red Hat Family

      • Vyatta Is The Best Open Source Networking Software

        Vyatta has announced that IDG’s InfoWorld has honored the company with a third consecutive Bossie Award.

        The 2010 Bossie Award for the Vyatta open routing and security software once again validates Vyatta’s long-standing technology leadership and provides further impetus for the industry to standardize on open source networking.

      • Fedora

        • Want to reinvent management? Start with the managers.

          Let me share one example from the open source world that has blown me away. Over the years, The Fedora Project, at least from where I sit, has been a model of a leadership culture.

          I’ve watched as one great leader after another, from Michael Johnson, to Cristian Gafton, to Greg Dekoenigsberg, to Max Spevack, to Paul Frields, has finished a successful stint as Fedora Project Leader and then willing passed the baton on to the next leader in line. In fact, Paul just finished his turn as leader a few months back.

          Paul’s note announcing the new Fedora Project Leader made me happy. It articulated all three of the points above, showing leadership, humility, and a willingness to do what it takes to serve the project purpose above personal aspirations. I remember Max and Greg expressing similar sentiments as they were ending their terms as project leader.

        • Darwin meets Dilbert: Applying the Law of Two Feet to your next meeting

          The concept was first introduced to me in the Fedora Project wiki. The Fedora marketing organization holds regular meetings, mostly by online chat, and they publish notes on the wiki. Their meeting guidelines mentions the Law of Two feet and asks contributors to use their best judgment in which meetings they choose whether or not to attend.

    • Debian Family

      • I post not to bury Debian but to praise it

        Can I see myself running Ubuntu again? Sure. But I can’t see a time when I won’t have a use for more than one instance of Debian.

      • Debian Project mourns the loss of Frans Pop

        Frans was involved in Debian as a maintainer of several packages, a supporter of the S/390 port, and one of the most involved members of the Debian Installer team. He was a Debian Listmaster, editor and release manager of the Installation Guide and the release notes, as well as a Dutch translator.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • VLC in Ubuntu Gets a New PPA And It’s Working Great!

          Think you all knew this already, the c-korn/vlc ppa has been removed by the author himself. You can’t live without PPAs in Ubuntu especially for most downloaded apps like VLC. Guys at LFFL have made a dedicated PPA for VLC. I just gave it a try and it worked awesome.

        • Thinking different at Canonical

          The old world depends upon case studies, press releases, and such. The new world feels more fluid to me: it’s Puppet Labs’ wiki that allows users to self-identify their Puppet adoption. It’s Twitter campaigns. It’s word of mouth, individual to individual.

        • OSS4 on Ubuntu (Lucid Lynx)

          After upgrading to Ubuntu 10.4 LTS, I was happy to notice that audio in all applications (including Skype) was finally working perfectly! However, I was less happy to notice that Pulseaudio was using quite a lot of CPU-time, and that the sound quality was absolutely awful… So I decided to give OSS4 a try. After some googling, installing a few packages and some minor configuration, OSS4 was up and running, and I must admit the improvement in sound quality is rather significant!

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Motorola Launches 3 Android Phones In China

          The phones combine a superior Android touchscreen experience with updated MING styling and features, and include the MT810 for China Mobile’s TD-SCDMA network, the XT806 for China Telecom’s CDMA-2000 network, and the A1680 for China Unicom’s WCDMA network.

        • Take a Closer Look at the Portrait Slider Motorola XT300 [VIDEO]

          Remember the mini Droid slider that emerged in late July? It’s back, but this time, it’s in much clearer form. Hit the jump for a few images and videos of the device in the wild, showing a very MOTOBLUR-ish UI. Thanks to Mobiflip.de, we know know that this little fella has a BACKTRACK pad (Backflip, Charm) and runs Android 2.1 under the hood.

    • Tablets

      • This Week Is a Coming-Out Party for Android Tablets

        You Want A Top Performer. In addition to Samsung, it’s likely that Toshiba will enter this market at the IFA show as well. Details about the Folio 100 with its 10-inch touchscreen leaked earlier this week and if correct, the specifications show a high-powered device thanks to Nvidia’s Tegra 2 processor. Carrypad has benchmarked the Toshiba AC 100, a smartbook that has similar guts to the Folio 100, and found that certain performance marks exceed that of the Google Nexus One running Android 2.2 by a factor of three. The device can also flawlessly play back a 1080p video file at 13 Mbps bit rate, showing performance prowess that could sway some from an iPad to an Android tablet.

      • ViewSonic ViewPad 7 Android Tablet announced

        ViewSonic have today announced the ViewPad 7, the world’s first 7″ Android tablet with phone capability. Click through to learn more…

Free Software/Open Source

  • Less Expensive Alternative to Microsoft Exchange

    Open-Xchange software integrates e-mail, calendar, contact and task management with advanced groupware features such as information management and document sharing. Users’ productivity is enhanced through unique teamwork features, like team view, single-password document sharing, and shared calendars, contacts, tasks and documents. With mobility support, users can have access to their data anywhere, anytime and with virtually any device.

  • Events

    • 23 LinuxCon talks available online

      Over 20 sessions from LinuxCon 2010, held Aug. 10-12 in Boston, are now available for free online viewing courtesy of the Linux Foundation. The sessions span a wide range of topics, including: open source licensing; technical considerations pertaining to the Linux kernel, applications, and tools; server, mobile, and cloud computing issues; business considerations; panel discussions; and more.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chromium gets GPU acceleration

      With the GPU process in place, the developers are now able to begin accelerating the handling of some of the content in the browser. Pages are divided into multiple layers, with some being rendered on the CPU such as those containing simple text and images and some being rendered on the GPU, such as CSS styled text, images and videos or WebGL or 2D Canvases. The layers are the composited into a single page for display. Currently, the browser does this composition on the CPU, eliminating most of the performance gained with the previous use of the GPU, but if the –enable-accelerated-compositing flag is used when starting Chromium, the composition will happen within the GPU allowing the performance gains to be realised. A design document explains the new GPU accelerated rendering architecture in more detail.

  • Databases

    • EnterpriseDB Gets VC Funding From TransLink Capital

      EnterpriseDB has received a strategic investment from KT (formerly Korea Telecom) and has accepted venture capital funding from new investment partner TransLink Capital.

      The new funding will enable EnterpriseDB to expand its product and marketing operations to capitalize on the upheaval in the database market caused by consolidation and an enterprise platform shift to virtualized and cloud infrastructure.

    • CouchDB – The Open Source NoSQL Database
  • Project Releases

    • Finally out the door: Dharma Beta1

      Today we announce the first beta in what we hope is a very short pre-release cycle. Dharma has been in development for over 9 months now, and we’re quite happy with the result.

      The improvements are too many to name, but head over to the milestone page to get an idea. By far the biggest new feature is the Add-ons system. Our community is full of talented script-writers, skinners, and designers; we wanted XBMC to display their full potential. The result is a powerful and flexible system that allows for complete customization of the XBMC experience. Gone are the days of digging for the latest version of buggy plugins, or incomplete skins in our forums. Most of our users probably never even made it that far.

    • Phoronix Test Suite 2.8 Enhances Automated Testing, Benchmarking
    • xzibit 0.01 – release

      xzibit 0.01 is now available for download. xzibit is a per-window VNC system; its development is supported by Collabora Ltd. This version is just a taster of what’s possible: there’s a fair amount more in existence that you won’t see unless you play around. More of it will be more easily visible in later releases.

  • Open Access/Content

    • Project Gutenberg: Timeline Events

      Google wouldn’t even announce its “invention” of eBooks for about 5 more years, Project Gutenberg wouldn’t have 10,000 titles for another 2 3/4 years, so just think of the changes we have in store by 2020, the next decade.

  • Open Hardware

    • Meet Apertus – A Project Aimed at Building an Open Source Cinema Camera

      As any typical Open Source project, more people got involved and the thread hit more than 1000 posts in 2009. Then they decided to build a dedicated website for the still unnamed project. Finally, after long discussions, the project was named Apertus.


      I think, Linux users are probably the best at understanding the importance of this project and its limitless possibilities. “Once you got used to working with a truly open system, you will suddenly realise how limiting your previous one really was”, thats exactly how I feel right now being a Linux user for the past 3 years.

  • Programming

    • Can programming language names be trademarks?

      It does matter. No one should be able to use trademark law to control truthful speech about a product. The Examining Attorney in the Lua application raised this point, but it wasn’t a good enough sell for the TTAB. Indeed there is a legal theory – nominative fair use – that says one can use others’ trademarks to refer truthfully to the others’ products, but this is a judge-made doctrine, not statutory, of varying parameters in different courts, and not even accepted by all of them.

    • 4 Tools for Teaching Kids to Code

      Developed by the MIT Media Lab, Scratch is a graphical programming language for children age 8 and up. Since its release in 2007, over one million projects have been shared on the site. That sharing aspect is important as projects posted are available to others to download and remix. Scratch is available free of charge, and runs on Mac, Windows, and Linux computers. For those working in Scratch, the new Scratch Wiki is a good resource.

    • Open Source R Language Could Revolutionize Business Intelligence

      The R programming language could be coming to a workplace near you — if it hasn’t arrived already. The big deal about R is that it can analyze Big Data, those exploding data sets that have traditionally defied analysis.

      R is the brainchild of Ross Ihaka and Robert Gentleman (known as “R” and “R”), academics at the Department of Statistics at the University of Auckland, New Zealand. Since Ihaka and Gentleman wrote the original R paper in 1993, R has become the lingua franca of analytic statistics among students, scientists, programmers and data managers.


  • 10 Best Hacker Movies (Films about Computer Hacking) of All Time

    1. WarGames
    WarGames is a film about a young hacker who unknowingly gains access to WOPR, a United States military supercomputer programmed to predict possible after-effects of nuclear war. He gets WOPR to run a nuclear war simulation, initially perceiving it to be a computer game, which caused a national nuclear missile scare and nearly initiates World War III.

  • Murdoch’s New iPaper: One Last Tragic Roll Of The Digital Dice

    But no – the story’s true, albeit with a technological twist that makes the move sound only 1% less suicidal: Murdoch’s new paper (launching ‘by the end of the year’) will be available only on tablets like the iPad. And readers will have to pay to view it. Oh, Rupert, you crazy old lunatic.

  • Skype might be bought by Cisco

    THE RUMOUR MILL has spun out a yarn claiming that Cisco is about to buy the Voice over IP outfit Skype.

    This is unexpected as Skype is getting set to go public. For Cisco to succeed in a bid it will have to write the cheque before that happens.

  • Silicon Valley’s Dark Secret: It’s All About Age

    My advice to managers is to consider the value of the experience that the techies bring. With age frequently come wisdom and abilities to follow direction, mentor, and lead. Older workers also tend to be more pragmatic and loyal, and to know the importance of being team players. And ego and arrogance usually fade with age. During my tech days, I hired several programmers who were over 50. They were the steadiest performers and stayed with me through the most difficult times.

    Finally, I don’t know of any university, including the ones I teach at, that tells its engineering students what to expect in the long term or how to manage their technical careers. Perhaps it is time to let students know what lies ahead.

  • Science

    • Modern Science Map

      Despite many of the scientific disciplines mapped having more ancient origins, I have restricted the map to modern science starting from the 16th century scientific revolution.

    • What It’s Like Going 307.7 MPH in an EV

      “Most of your sensation of speed is a visual sense, but at Bonneville it’s just a huge open plain of salt. It’s all white,” he says. “If you combine the relative lack of visibility with the lack of visual reference points and add in the control tests you have to do, you don’t quite get the sensation of speed I expected.”

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Hatching Bigger Government

      It’s true that the FDA is charged with assuring food safety. But really, the government can’t do that. The task is too big and too complex. Fortunately, it doesn’t have to do it, because the pressures of competition force producers to make sure their goods are clean and wholesome.

  • Security/Aggression

    • We Fail More—So Put Us in Charge

      The Post article says that Lynn “puts the Homeland Security Department on notice that although it has the ‘lead’ in protecting the dot.gov and dot.com domains, the Pentagon — which includes the ultra-secret National Security Agency — should support efforts to protect critical industry networks.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Not carbon offsets, but carbon upsets

      In theory, carbon offsets are a way to lower the cost of emissions reductions. Credits are awarded when a project is less greenhouse gas-intensive than it would have been in the usual course. These credits can then be sold to polluters and used to satisfy their emissions reduction obligations which would have been more expensive to undertake directly. In practice critics have pointed to numerous problems with offsets. Most fundamentally, they fail to incentivise the kind of structural transformation toward a low-carbon future that we desperately need.

    • EPA proposes grading system for car fuel economy

      The Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Transportation on Monday proposed a fuel economy label overhaul to reflect how electric and alternative fuel vehicles stack up against gasoline passenger vehicles.

      The federal agencies released two new labels that officials expect to be finalized early next year and used in 2012 model year cars. The published labels will be available for public comment for 60 days.

  • Finance

    • Why Cheaper Money Won’t Mean More Jobs

      The sad reality is that cheaper money won’t work. Individuals aren’t borrowing because they’re still under a huge debt load. And as their homes drop in value and their jobs and wages continue to disappear, they’re not in a position to borrow. Small businesses aren’t borrowing because they have no reason to expand. Retail business is down, construction is down, even manufacturing suppliers are losing ground.

    • Goldman swims downstream for PetroAlgae IPO

      Since the financial crisis, Wall Street banks have gone further down market as they look to collect fees and stay competitive in the league tables.

    • O’Brien: Grim numbers point to the end of the venture capital era

      Silicon Valley has passed an important milestone that may mark the end of one era and the beginning of another.

      This dividing line in history was revealed this summer in the latest report from the National Venture Capital Association, which showed that 10-year returns on venture capital investments had turned negative at the end of 2009, and nose-dived during the first quarter of 2010. Let me translate what might sound like some insider mumbo jumbo: Venture capital investing, the lifeblood of the valley’s innovation economy, has become a sucker’s bet.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • I know where you are…

      The ubiquity of smartphones with geolocation capabilities (i.e. the ability to pinpoint you on a map) means that we’re now starting to add our physical location to the mass of data we hand over.

    • Car Registration Snoops Planned

      An audit of 155 of the 432 local authorities allowed to use the ­database showed that the DVLA’s ­system was accessed 750 times a day in the 2009/10 financial year.

      However, it was discovered that ­councils were using the system to track down people for a variety of offences including horse fouling, littering and owning out-of-control dogs.

      The DVLA sent out letters to chief executives of 56 authorities where ­serious breaches of the system had been uncovered and the councils received a red coded warning.

    • Trust Me: You Can Trust Us

      In April I wrote a column about the secretive habits of three large police departments in Virginia’s Washington, D.C., suburbs: Fairfax County, Alexandria, and Arlington. As Connection Newspapers reporter Michael Pope showed in a series of reports that began in March, they are among the least transparent departments in the country, having interpreted Virginia’s Freedom of Information Act in a way that allows them to turn down nearly all requests for information.

      Recently there have been a couple of attempts to make Virginia’s law enforcement agencies more transparent. As I reported in June, Nicholas Beltrante, an 82-year-old former cop and Navy medic, started the Virginia Citizens Coalition for Police Accountability. And in January, state Sen. John Edwards (D-Roanoke) introduced a bill that would force police to turn over public records in cases where the investigation has been completed.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Who Writes Pro-Cable Internet Legislation? Cable Does
    • Wholesale access still mandated, but with an extra 10% mark-up; Bell to lobby cabinet again

      As the large telephone and cable companies continue to push fibre deeper into their old copper networks to offer increasing broadband speeds and new services to their customers, the CRTC affirmed Monday the incumbents must continue to rent space to third party ISPs under its mandated access policy and the Commission’s speed matching rules.

    • Which ebook sellers will allow publishers and writers to opt out of DRM?

      My August Publishers Weekly column reports in on my experiment to see which of the major ebook stores would carry my books without DRM, and with a text disclaimer at the beginning that released readers from the crazy, abusive license agreements that most of these stores demand as a condition of purchase. Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Kobo were all happy to carry my books without DRM, and on terms that gave you the same rights you got when buying paper editions. Sony and Apple refused to carry my books without DRM — even though my publisher and I both asked them to.

    • Canada is a telecom backwater, says bold backer of Wind Mobile

      In the eyes of Wind’s critics, the firm is just another pawn in Mr. Sawiris’s global chess game. He has made no secret of his belief that telecommunications around the globe will inevitably be dominated by just a handful of giant firms. With Mr. Sawiris already in merger talks with Russian carrier VimpelCom Ltd. to create a sprawling telecom titan worth about $25-billion, his vision of an age of huge global providers seems near indeed.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Commercialization of IP In Canadian Universities: Barely Better Than Break Even

      Last week, Statistics Canada released its latest report on the commercialization of intellectual property in Canadian universities. Canada spends billions of public dollars on research funding each year and the government has been increasingly focused on how best to commercialize the results. While there are several possible approaches to doing this, the government and some universities have been focused on building patent and IP portfolios as part of a conventional commercialization strategy. The alternative could be an open access approach – encourage (or require) much of the intellectual property to be made broadly available under open licences so that multiple organizations could add value and find ways to commercialize. The universities might generate less income but would better justify the public investment in research by providing the engine for larger economic benefits.

    • Fake goods are fine, says EU study

      A new European Union-funded report has declared that buying designer goods can benefit consumers and the companies whose brands are being ripped off.

    • Copyrights

      • Musopen Wants to Give Classical Music to the Public Domain

        Music lovers take note: the classical music archive Musopen needs your help to liberate some classic symphonies from copyright entanglement. Museopen is looking to solve a difficult problem: while symphonies written by Beethoven, Brahms, Sibelius, and Tchaikovsky are in the public domain, many modern arrangements and sound recordings of those works are copyrighted. That means that even after purchasing a CD or collection of MP3s of this music, you may not be able to freely exercise all the rights you’d associate with works in the public domain, like sharing the music using a peer-to-peer network or using the music in a film project.

      • Trade groups: policing our digital copyrights is just too hard

        Eagles drummer and singer Don Henley has a world of trouble on his mind, and he hopes that Congress will lighten his load… by gutting the best part of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA). Defending his copyrights in the digital age is just too hard for Henley and his labels, because it requires constant vigilance of both mainstream user-upload sites like YouTube and dodgier destinations like BitTorrent trackers.

      • Music tech guru says Web is not the enemy

        John Mellencamp, known for such ’80s hits as “Jack and Diane” and “Hurts So Good,” last week said the Web is the most dangerous creation since the atomic bomb. Stevie Nicks, the Fleetwood Mac songstress, concluded in an interview this week that the “Internet has destroyed rock.”

      • Jimmy Fallon Hits A Couple Of Emmy Home Runs That NBC.com Can’t Replay

        Another odd chapter in NBC’s mixed viral video history: it can’t post two of the clips that have the best chance of catching on from the 2010 Emmys. Host Jimmy Fallon knocked it out of the park with an energetic Glee-esque opener to Bruce Springsteen’s Born to Run, a mixed pre-taped and live-action number featuring Jane Lynch, Glee kids, Jon Hamm, Tina Fey, and a cameo by Tim Gunn that quickly got social media buzz. The clip should have been online before the next commercial break for NBC (NYSE: GE) to take advantage of that buzz—and to take ownership before others started passing it around.

      • Pirate Bay Movie Fully Funded In Three Days

        Just three days after filmmaker Simon Klose started a fundraiser to complete his upcoming Pirate Bay documentary, the seed funding goal of $25,000 has already been reached. The Pirate audience has been extremely generous, with a full 27 days left the counter currently sits at $28,099.

      • Serving the Public…?

        Dubbed “the Ipod Minister,” Moore was one of the ‘forces’ behind last year’s Copyright Consultation and this year’s Digital Economy Consultation. Still, Minister Moore’s technical savvy seems limited to purchasing and promoting Apple products; this letter incident highlights Moore’s woeful lack of technical expertise, which ought to make him a poor choice to occupy a position of power over Canada’s digital economy or copyright reform.

        Canadians deserve to have legislators who at least understand the issues.

      • Second Newspaper Chain Joins Copyright Trolling Operation

        A Las Vegas company established to sue bloggers who clip news content is expanding its operations to a second newspaper chain.

        Righthaven LLC has struck a deal with Arkansas-based WEHCO Media to expand its copyright litigation campaign, in which bloggers and aggregators across the country are being sued on allegations of infringement.

        Until now, Righthaven CEO Steve Gibson’s sole announced client had been Nevada-based Stephens Media. Righthaven has issued more than 100 lawsuits since its spring inception on behalf of the Las Vegas Review Journal — Stephens’ flagship.

      • ZeroPaid Interviews Russell McOrmond 2 – Canadian Bill C-32 (Part 1 of 3)

        Canadian Copyright is already strong enough to deal with nearly all legitimate interests of copyright holders. Bill C-32 doesn’t modernize copyright beyond the level it obtained in 1997, but largely pushes forward controversial ideas that originated prior to 1997. I believe that current Canadian copyright is better than it will be under C-32. While I think that modernizing Copyright is a good idea, I don’t believe C-32 moves towards that goal.

      • Obama administration: “Piracy is flat, unadulterated theft”

        “I think it’s important to lay down a marker about how the Obama administration views this issue,” he said of online copyright infringement. “As Vice President Biden has said on more than one occasion, ‘Piracy is flat, unadulterated theft,’ and it should be dealt with accordingly.”

      • ACTA

        • iTnews asks: Can a caretaker Government sign ACTA?

          Representatives from the United States Trade Representatives’ office told Reuters that the U.S. wished to resolve all remaining issues at these September talks. The exact date and location for these talks has not been released to the public, nor was a draft of the agreement after the last round of talks in Switzerland.

          Political uncertainty in Australia may hamper its role in approving a final ACTA draft, as the nation awaits negotiations between the two major parties and independents to determine whether the ALP or the Coalition will form government.

        • ACTA Officials Firm on September Completion Time

          Earlier this month, we noted that officials working within ACTA are saying that September is when the negotiations will be finalized. Another report has surfaced that seems to confirm these intentions.

          ACTA (Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement) has had quite a roller-coaster of a ride over the years it was being negotiated. Negotiations started as far back as 2007, but we only heard about it part way through 2008 when one of the now earliest versions of the agreement leaked on to Wikileaks. By comparison to before, it must have been nice to work under the total veil of secrecy with no PR backlash working against the negotiators.

Clip of the Day

Barcelona- I have the password to your shell account

Credit: TinyOgg

IRC Proceedings: August 31st, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz




#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

Enter the IRC channels now

Links 31/8/2010: Linux Developer Community From Wind River, Multitouch Tablet

Posted in News Roundup at 8:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Burning Man’s open source cell phone system could help save the world

    Today I bring you a story that has it all: a solar-powered, low-cost, open source cellular network that’s revolutionizing coverage in underprivileged and off-grid spots. It uses VoIP yet works with existing cell phones. It has pedigreed founders. Best of all, it is part of the sex, drugs and art collectively known as Burning Man. Where do you want me to begin?

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Thousands of Firefox add-ons already work on Firefox 4
      • Firefox 4.0 Feature Freeze Delayed to September 10

        In the first half of September 2010 Mozilla will deliver a new Beta development milestone of Firefox 4.0 which will contain the same features as the final version of the next major iteration of the open source browser.

      • Firefox 4 Review: App Tab, Panorama and Sync

        Mozilla has recently released the fourth beta of the Firefox 4 browser. I have been testing it since the first beta and I am happy to see the progress and the addition of new features with each beta. I have held on the review of Firefox 4 because most of the features are still unstable or not in place. With the release of beta 4, things are becoming more stable and plenty of new (and revolutionary) features are added to it, so it would be a great time to do up a review. There will probably be another one or two more beta before we see the release candidate and the final version.

  • Healthcare

    • EU: International team developing open source hospital information system

      An international team of software developers specialising in medical systems is working on a hospital information system. Earlier this month on the OSOR Forge, the project began soliciting others to join the team. “If you are willing to participate of this great community, there are plenty of things to be done, from translation, quality control, adding new functionality to localization.”

      The developers, including specialists from Brazil, Germany, Greece and France, aim to build a system for managing electronic medical records, manage hospital information and health information. Services include prescriptions, billing, patient information, managing epidemiological and statistical data and management of medical stock. The entire project is published using the GNU GPL open source licence.

  • Solaris

    • StormOS Hail Beta – A very stormy experience

      On paper, StormOS is an excellent technological concept: it is based on Nexenta, which itself is based on Solaris, and packaged with Ubuntu user-land and package management system. In theory, you get Ubuntu-like behavior on top of a UNIX kernel. Sounds like a healthy marriage.


    • The Gnashing of teeth

      For better or worse, I can think of no other single tool whose development would do more to give GNU/Linux parity on the desktop. You can tell the priority that many groups in the community place on Gnash from the fact that Debian, Ubuntu, Fedora, and openSUSE

      Still, the Gnash project has announced this milestone before. In 2007, Gnash announced compatibility with Youtube videos — only to have the goal posts moved by the site’s decision to standardize on a more recent version of Flash. In 2008, Gnash could, in fact, handle Youtube videos, but not small bits of Flash on sites like WordPress, where it is used to give a graphical representation of page hits. So, I was prepared to be disappointed.

    • Software Freedom Day is Coming!

      On September 18, it is international Software Freedom Day. Software Freedom Day aims to celebrate Free Software and the people behind it. It wants to spread the word about Free Software and help people find each other.

  • Government

    • Learning from project success and failure

      When big UK government IT-related projects have failed, people have asked: how could such basic mistakes be made and repeated? In some cases it was because of what in the US is called – and I apologise for repeating such a grotesque phrase – the “normalization of deviancy”.

    • EU: Rise in use of EUPL for publishing open source software

      The European Union’s open source licence, (European Union Public Licence, EUPL) is being used more and more. A third of the projects available on the European Commission’s software development site, the OSOR Forge, 47 out of 147 projects, are published using the EUPL. On Sourceforge, a commercial venture for open source software development based in the US, the licence is now selected by 49 projects. One year ago there were non.

      The EUPL was written to be used for distributing open source software applications built for or by the European Commission. No wonder that on the OSOR Forge, many of the projects using the EUPL are published by European Commission and the EU’s member states.

      The EUPL was reviewed favourably last month in a document on copyright an licences French Ministry for the Budget, Public Accounts and the Civil Service. “The EUPL can be used and produced, in the framework of some litigation, in courts and administrations of numerous EU member states, without the obligation or the risk to call upon a sworn translator. The EUPL is also compliant with the European Member States laws.”

    • UK: ‘Government use of ODF would help break vendor lock-in’

      A UK government’s decicion to use ODF (Open Document Format) for its electronic documents, would help public administrations overcome vendor lock-in for office applications, says Liam Maxwell, councillor for Royal Borough of Windsor & Maidenhead. He says the move will start the process to the billions of savings that British government needs to find in unproductive areas of spending.

      According to Maxwell, the borough wants to start using OpenOffice, an open source suite of office productivity tools on many of its 1400 workstations. It also wants to increase the use of free Internet-based office tools. “We are slowly moving our councillors over to use Google-docs.”

    • EE: Tallin city and college fund poll and referenda application

      Diara, an open source application allowing public administrations to us the Internet to organise polls, referendums, petitions, public inquiries and allowing to record electronic votes using electronic ID cards, is developed with support from the city of Tallin and the College of Technology in Estonia.

      A first version of Diara was made available at the OSOR Forge, the OSOR’s software development website last week. Says Hillar Põldmaa, one of the developers, Diara: “We just finished the registration, and we are now starting to upload the code of the application, including the English documentation.” The Estonian version is already available on Google’s forge.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Lewis Hyde, author of Common as Air: Revolution, Art, and Ownership

      The point being: for a long time I’ve been aware of the commons narrative in regard to ideas and for a long time I’ve thought of something as old as patent law as being among the methods we’ve devised for moving potentially private knowledge into the public sphere.

    • Scholars Test Web Alternative to Peer Review

      Now some humanities scholars have begun to challenge the monopoly that peer review has on admission to career-making journals and, as a consequence, to the charmed circle of tenured academe. They argue that in an era of digital media there is a better way to assess the quality of work. Instead of relying on a few experts selected by leading publications, they advocate using the Internet to expose scholarly thinking to the swift collective judgment of a much broader interested audience.


  • AMD jettisons ATI brand name, makes Radeon its own
  • Breaking the Internet in one easy step

    For about an hour on Friday, about 1 to 2 percent of the Internet went higgly-piggly.

    The confusion was caused when a major Internet registry — known as Réseaux IP Européens Network Coordination Centre (RIPE NCC) — inserted additional information into the database entries used by routers to direct data packets to the correct destinations. The addition, which was part of its research into Internet infrastructure, complied with standards, but many routers — including those made by Cisco — could not handle the change, said a representative for the registry in a statement published Friday.

  • Science

    • Heaps of Fossils From Evolutionary ‘Big Bang’ Discovered

      One of paleontology’s most revered fossil sites now has a baby brother. Scientists have discovered a group of astonishing fossils high in the Canadian Rockies, just 40 kilometers from the famous Burgess Shale location.


      Until now, paleontologists had thought one reason the Burgess fossils were so well preserved was because they settled in thick deposits at the bottom of an ancient ocean protected by a submarine cliff. But the Stanley Glacier fossils weren’t formed in the presence of such a cliff, suggesting that creatures can be fossilized in amazing detail in other environments.

  • Security/Aggression

    • Innocent man spent three months in jail after CCTV blunder cops mistook rose for knife

      AN innocent man was thrown in jail for three months – because he was carrying a rose.

      Cops viewing CCTV thought the single rose Stephen McAleer had in his hand as he walked home was a knife.

      He was arrested and sent to Barlinnie Jail on remand. And 28-year-old Stephen’s prison ordeal only ended when he was cleared at a two-day trial this week.

      A CCTV expert enhanced the images and testified that the item he was carrying was a rose in a plastic sleeve, which tapers to a knife-like point at the end of the stem.

    • Israeli actors to boycott new West Bank theatre

      Dozens of Israeli actors, playwrights and directors have signed a letter refusing to take part in productions by leading theatre companies at a new cultural centre in a West Bank settlement, prompting renewed debate over the legitimacy of artistic boycott.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • The rare earth element big squeeze

      If a conservative is a liberal who just got mugged, then an advocate of government intervention in the economy is nothing more than a free market believer who just realized that China dominates an industry with major implications for national defense and renewable energy technology.

      That’s the primary conclusion to be gleaned from a review of three recent studies of Chinese dominance of rare earth element mining and processing, “Rare Earth Elements: The Global Supply Chain,” a report published by the Congressional Research Service in July, the Government Accountability Office’s “Rare Earth Materials in the Defense Supply Chain,” published in April, and China’s Rare Earth Elements Industry: What Can the West Learn?” published by the Institute for the Analysis of Global Security in March.

  • Finance

    • SATIRE: U.S. Economy Grinds To Halt As Nation Realizes Money Just A Symbolic, Mutually Shared Illusion

      For some Americans, the fog of disbelief surrounding the nation’s epiphany has begun to lift, with many building new lives free from the illusion of money.

      “It’s back to basics for me,” Bernard Polk of Waverly, OH said. “I’m going to till the soil for my own sustenance and get anything else I need by bartering. If I want milk, I’ll pay for it in tomatoes. If need a new hoe, I’ll pay for it in lettuce.”

      When asked, hypothetically, how he would pay for complicated life-saving surgery for a loved one, Polk seemed uncertain.

      “That’s a lot of vegetables, isn’t it?” he said.

    • SEC change makes Goldman top target

      Goldman Sachs is target No. 1 for activist investors looking to shake up corporate boards now that the Securities and Exchange Commission has made it easier for shareholders to nominate directors.

      Corporate governance activists are looking to replace Goldman directors at the firm’s annual meeting next spring unless the board strips Chief Executive Lloyd Blankfein of his position as chairman.

    • Axa cuts Goldman stake by half

      Goldman Sachs’ largest investor slashed its stake by more than half in the last quarter as the bank contended with civil fraud charges by US securities regulators and brutal market conditions that crimped its results.

    • Axa cuts stake in Goldman Sachs: documents

      Goldman Sachs last month disclosed that its profits had slumped 82 percent in the second quarter when the company was hit by a massive US fraud settlement and a new British tax on bonuses.

    • Get Briefed: George Walker

      Prior to working at Neuberger Berman, Walker was a partner at Goldman Sachs ( GS – news – people ) and part of the company’s partnership committee.

      Walker is on the Mayor’s Board for New York City as well as the board of directors of Local Initiatives Support Cooperation. He is also the vice chair of the board of trustees of The New School.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • How Involved Should The Government Be In Protecting Online Privacy?

      Rotenberg responds that individuals really can’t do much in response, and uses the example of Google Buzz’s privacy screwup as an example. But, the response to that sort of proves Harper’s point rather than Rotenberg’s. Right after Google screwed up with the Buzz launch, in a manner that caused serious privacy concerns, the public and the press responded within hours, calling out Google for what it had done, and forcing Google to backtrack almost immediately and admit that it had screwed up. What more could the government have done? If it was solely up to the government, there would have been a months (years?) long investigation, and finally some sort of wrist-slap and a fine. The public response to Google’s misstep and the concerns that raised among many people about their privacy in using Google seemed to function fine, and should (one hopes) cause Google to think a lot more carefully before making a similar mistake in the future.

    • Trying to exclude WikiLeaks from shield law stinks

      One of the odors emanating from Washington, D.C., these days is from journalists marking their territory.

      Whatever awkwardness previously existed as journalists desiring a federal shield law wooed the legislators they’re supposed to be watching, it’s now worse. In recent weeks, the two groups have publicly joined forces to exclude WikiLeaks from possible protection under the bill. In doing so, journalists have managed both to look territorial and to endanger the independence they’re striving to create.

      On Aug. 4, Sen. Charles Schumer, the New York Democrat and Senate sponsor of the Free Flow of Information Act, announced that he intended to include in the proposed law new language specifying that WikiLeaks and organizations like it would not be able to use the act to protect the identities of confidential sources.


      As comforting as it might be to “real” journalists to incorporate editorial oversight into a shield law and to use it to distinguish further between the “us” who are entitled to the law’s protections and the “them” who are not, at least two dangers exist in that approach.

      First, does anyone — including the most mainstream of traditional journalists — really think it a good idea that Congress and judges define, analyze and evaluate what is appropriate “editorial oversight”? For decades, news organizations have struggled to resist those efforts in libel cases and, so far, those struggles have succeeded. If those same organizations now invite legislators and judges into their newsrooms to see how worthy their reporters are of protection under a shield law, they shouldn’t be surprised if the legislators and judges decide to stay.

      Second, is the free flow of information really served if the act’s protections are denied to those who don’t have or practice editorial oversight? As Schumer acknowledged in his statement, the act already contains language that would limit or deny protection to those who provide or publish classified military secrets. Specifically exempting WikiLeaks and other organizations that might otherwise qualify for protection under the act in at least some cases seems designed not to enhance the free flow of information but to channel that information to mainstream sources.

    • Three digital myths

      The release of the Afghan War Diaries on Wikileaks, with stories published in The Guardian, the New York Times and Der Spiegel by agreement with Wikileaks, has made news around the world. Le Monde Diplomatique, in conjunction with Owni and Slate.fr, have also made the documents available online via a dedicated website. The security implications of the leaked material will be discussed for years to come. Meanwhile the release of over 90,000 documents has generated debate on the rising power of digital journalism and social media. Many of the discussions are rooted in what I call internet or digital myths — myths which are rooted in romantic, deterministic notions of technology.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Who Steals the Gene from Off the Common

      The anonymous poem above was written in protest at the enclosure of common land in England – the process of converting the commons to private property and handing it over to a single proprietor. In two rhyming couplets, the poet managed to sum up the massive resentment felt by the commoners, resentment that has found eloquent expression over the last 500 years at the hands of writers as diverse as St Thomas More and Karl Polanyi.

      Economists have told a very different story, however. With a few significant recent exceptions, they portrayed the process of enclosure as benign. Private property avoided the “tragedies of the commons” such as underinvestment and overuse. Thus it allowed an expansion of productive capacity that produced more social wealth – even if unevenly distributed – and helped feed more people. Enclosure, in this story, was a triumph; getting unproductive common resources back into the engine of the market.

    • Copyrights

      • Attacks On The Creative Commons Licenses

        Consider the lawsuit which forced Internet Service Providers to block The Pirate Bay in Italy. It’s the equivalent of blocking your neighbor’s lane by flooding it, so that he can’t deliver his harvest to market, leaving all of the sales to you, and allowing you to raise your prices to the maximum the market will bear.

      • Mark Waid is Right

        Mark’s speech reminded everyone that copyright was invented to limit the amount of time that a family or estate could lay claim to an idea after the death of that idea’s creator. That it was not created to protect the creator or ensure that their family line could forever control their intellectual property. He suggested that contributing to the greater culture is something artists should consider as important (maybe more important) than making a living as an artist. And then he made the boldest statement of the evening by suggesting that the file-sharing genie was out of the bottle and rather than spend fruitless hours trying to get it back in, we should all just stop being afraid of this new culture and instead embrace it and try to harness its power.

      • P2PU launches 3rd round of courses, with “Copyright for Educators”

        The Peer 2 Peer University, more commonly known now as P2PU by a growing community of self-learners, educators, journalists, and web developers, launches its third round of courses today, opening sign-ups for “courses dealing in subject areas ranging from Collaborative Lesson Planning to Manifestations of Human Trafficking.”

        P2PU is simultaneously launching its School of Webcraft, which is a collaboration with the Mozilla Foundation and “is a powerful new way to learn open, standards based web development in a collaborative environment. School of Webcraft courses include Beginning Python Webservices and HTML5.”

      • Wrongfully Accused Of File-Sharing? File For Harassment

        There are tens of thousands of people out there receiving letters from lawyers which demand payments to make potential copyright infringement lawsuits go away. Those wrongfully accused have been fighting back in a number of ways, and not without success. Now a team of lawyers is offering to coordinate a group action, with the aim of gathering compensation for victims through harassment claims.

      • US movie tickets get biggest price hike in history

        Don’t weep for the movie biz. While still concerned about camcording and P2P piracy, the industry has been hauling in the cash at the box office. 2007, 2008, and 2009 all set new historic highs for movie theater revenue in the US and Canada, and 2010 looks poised to do even bigger business.

        “Theater owners have gotten away with the biggest year-to-year increases in ticket prices ever,” says Hollywood-focused publication The Wrap, “with average admission costs spiraling upward more than 40 cents in 2010, or over 5 percent.”

      • ACTA

        • ACTA & the Telecoms Package: a mutually supportive relationship?

          The ghostly spectre of the Telecoms Package that has stood behind ACTA, is becoming more clearly discernible. And a devious PR move by the ACTA negotiators is bad news for Internet users.

          Following the Washington meeting of the ACTA (Anti-counterfeiting Trade Agreement) negotiators in August, it is now emerging that the requirement for secondary liability on ISPs could be dropped. Apparently, this is at the request of the US.

        • 1 Step Forward 500 Steps Back, ACTA Will Violate Your Rights

          It’s been said that “all good things must come to an end.” That phrase certainly holds true now. It seems like it’s only been a month since the changes to the Digital Millennium Copyright Act (DMCA) were passed by Congress, allowing us to jailbreak our phones as well as other things that should have always been part of our rights as consumers. No longer could we be told what we could or could not do with our own property. However that brief reprise has basically come to an end thanks to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA). Now on the surface ACTA actually doesn’t sound like a bad idea. At it’s core its an international institution similar to but seperate from organizations like the United Nations and the World Trade Organization. It’s purpose, “to establish international standards on intellectual property rights enforcements.” Which in itself isn’t such a bad thing, the U.S. alone loses around $200 billion each year as a result of the fake goods being traded on the global scale and plenty of artists have had their work stolen and used for profit without any hope for legal action. The problem however comes with semantics, and what’s being specified as intellectual theft in this agreement.


          It’s blatantly obvious that our privacy and freedom is at stake but what else is actually being threatened? Below we have compiled a very surprising list.

          1. Your Privacy – Think going through the airport is violating now? Wait until they search EVERYTHING you own for pirated data. And we haven’t even gotten to ISPs being required to monitor ALL of your online activities in order to enforce these laws, since they will be responsible for “allowing” you to download not-so-legal things.
          2. Your Money – You’re ISP watching you is more work for them. So they will charge you for it (and those nasty little legal fees they incur when you download illegal things or someone sues them for violating their no-longer existent rights.)
          3. Your Health – How can that happen? Well generic drugs are contraband under ACTA. So increase that insurance premium (assuming you have insurance, if you don’t just don’t get sick) and if you happen to be traveling with your medication… try not to die when they confiscate it.
          4. Your Video Quality – Under ACTA free and open source media software such as VLC, MPC & the CCCP project would be illegal since all purchased media must be DRMed (any non-purchased media must be piracy) and open source software can’t use DRM technology.
          5. Your Freedom – ACTA gives governments and ISPs the right to block websites deemed “unsuitable” (a word that isn’t defined in the agreement). That opens the doors to your government acting like China and banning anything they don’t want you to see. (Note: There is no YouTube, Facebook, Blogspot in China.)

Clip of the Day

Firefox 4 Beta 4 Panorama

Patents Roundup: OIN, Patent Attorney Ignorance, “Ultimate Patent Troll”, the Rambus Submarine Patent, Death Patents, MPEG-LA, and i4i/Microsoft

Posted in America, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, IBM, Law, Microsoft, OIN, Patents at 5:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Submarine (patents)

Summary: An overview of patent news from the past few days, ranging from issues that directly affect GNU/Linux to issues that simply show how amoral and dysfunctional the patent systems have become

IT HAS BEEN a long time since the last “Patents Roundup” per se. This post is intended to keep readers abreast of the developments in the spooky world of patents, so no single topic is covered here exclusively.

We wish to begin with Linux, which has OIN protecting it in somewhat controversial ways (fighting software patents with software patents), which is effective only in particular circumstances, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

“Our community—including all developers, distributors and users—owes Keith Bergelt of OIN, and the companies on his board of directors, a round of serious thanks…”
      –Eben Moglen
Groklaw's most recent take on OIN is a good source of information for OIN sceptics. OIN is not the “bad guy” here; not at all. Keith Bergelt of OIN is genuinely interested in protecting Linux from patent litigation by accumulating (hoarding) patents and killing weak ones rather than eliminating the foundations of this whole category which is known as computer-implemented inventions (CII, or software patents). Bergelt says he is in favour of “good” patents. It’s not ideal of course, but the FSF/SFLC accepts the OIN and appreciates its work. Professor Eben Moglen wrote last year that “[o]ur community—including all developers, distributors and users—owes Keith Bergelt of OIN, and the companies on his board of directors, a round of serious thanks for interrupting this arms trade, and calling attention to a bad business practice.”

With that in mind we can approach a new post which says that “OIN seeks to overturn weak patents”:

The tech news industry is buzzing with stories about companies suing each other over patent infringement. Most of the supposed patent infringements come closer to patents representing a concept then an actual invention. As I have said before the conduct of many patent holders is the equivalent of patenting the color blue and suing anyone who wears a blue t-shirt.

This is where the Open Invention Network comes in to play. They have invited the public to review patents, especially patents that are being used to attempt to block open source development. The Open Invention Network is asking for its readers to submit examples of prior art. This is where a company has patented a product or concept that had already been developed by previous companies or individuals. Once evidence is in place of prior art in connection with a patent, that patent can be invalidated.

The Open Invention Network and its sibling projects are not as good as abolishing software patents a la FFII, but an analogy to them would be “pragmatism” in the Free vs. proprietary software sense. The OIN is a temporary fix, a Band-Aid® of sorts.

On we move to an important observation from Patently-O, a popular Web site which mostly attracts American patent lawyers and even — allegedly — SCOTUS (Supreme Court of the United States) appointees. Patently-O points out that not enough computer scientists occupy the USPTO, which implies insufficient knowledge about software patents.

Professors Ralph Clifford, Tom Field, and Jon Cavicchi have published an interesting study on the technical backgrounds of patent attorneys and agents. After the trio submitted a FOIA request, the PTO handed-over 50,000 pages of patent bar registration applications. Using that information, the trio created a database of registered patent attorneys and their associated degrees/schools.

The paper makes the legitimate argument that the PTO should allow folks with a computer science degree to register — especially with the rise in the number of inventions related to computer science. “[A]n institutional bias exists within the PTO that prevents software-savvy individuals from registering with the Office.”

This is a serious problem. A lot of patent lawyers who are proponents of CII simply don’t understand how computational machines work; some ignorantly deny that computer programs (algorithms) can be encoded as mathematical formulae. That patent clerks at the USPTO fail to perceive it is a true travesty, not to mention similar problems among policy-makers, including Justices at SCOTUS.

Law Pundit has published this new post about a patent troll called George Selden. He is a patent lawyer who claimed a monopoly on the automobile. This sounds like some story out of science fiction, but it’s not.

The fix in which modern technology finds itself today as the result of our ill-conceived and smothering patent laws is unfortunately nothing new, but was a battle fought more than a century ago over patent rights to the invention of the automobile.

Thankfully for the future development of the automobile industry, legal common sense only prevailed due to the tenacity of Henry Ford, who prevailed over “virtual” inventor George B. Selden upon appeal, in a story in which the otherwise unknown Selden is the main character.

Rambus, which is a shameful aggressor (greatly loathed by many of its peers in industry), keeps ramming the bus [pun] into just about every technology company in the area, using submarine patents [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9]. How destructive. It is now targeting Big Blue again:

Chip designer Rambus Inc (RMBS.O) has sued International Business Machines Corp (IBM.N), seeking to reverse a federal agency finding that its patent for a memory system was not infringed.

Pubpat.org (Public Patent Foundation or PUBPAT for short) offers a glimpse at the fact that, once we depart from the field of technology, patents may also deal with life and death very directly. We call these death patents and HIV/AIDS drugs are invaluable examples of that:

The Public Patent Foundation (PUBPAT) announced today that it has formally asked the United States Patent and Trademark Office to reexamine eight patents held by Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT) relating to the critical HIV/AIDS drug ritonavir, which is marketed by the Chicago, Illinois pharmaceutical giant under the name brand Norvir.

In its requests, PUBPAT submitted previously unforeseen prior art proving that the patents should not have been granted. PUBPAT also cited recent Federal Circuit case law that supports its detailed arguments for nullification of the eight patents.

MPEG-LA, which is spearheaded by a patent troll, has not only a codec monopoly; it has begun forming an equally-despicable strategy in areas such as the above (which makes it a huge threat to life, not just to culture).

Simon Phipps, who recently said that “MPEG-LA is a parasite using standards bodies as its host, whether they want it or not,” addresses the latest stunt from this parasite [1, 2] and heralds that “H.264 Is Not The Sort Of Free That Matters” (same as the argument we made last week). Simon says:

The statement actually takes a lot of unpacking, probably intentionally so. H.264 is the widely-used “MP4″ video format created many years ago by the Motion Picture Experts Group, MPEG. Those “experts” were mostly associated with various corporations and research labs, and the international standard they created was heavily encumbered with patents.

Realising that no-one much would use the standard if each user had to go negotiate patent licensing terms with a large number of separate parties, the patent-holders wisely decided to get together outside the scope of MPEG and create the “MPEG Licensing Authority”, MPEG-LA.

Despite the name, MPEG-LA is nothing to do with the standards group itself. It’s a for-profit company devoted to making the patent problem worse in the name of making it “easier to handle” by creating patent pools for all sorts of other technology areas, beyond the media formats they already police. Go looking for the exact terms under which they are offering “free use” in this case and you’ll find they are not keen for you to know. The best available are summaries that are sketchy about the exact definitions of terms.

Last but not least, yesterday we wrote about the i4i case, noting that Microsoft decided to appeal (again). As Masnick correctly points out in his long and informative headline, “Microsoft, Who Supports Software Patents, Now Asks Supreme Court To Help It Against Patent Holder” (great news if this is indeed going to SCOTUS).

Microsoft, who has become a strongly pro-software patent company (despite Bill Gates’ old claim that patents would have harmed the software industry in the early days), is finding out (yet again) that such a stance can come back to bite you. We’ve already covered the somewhat ridiculous lawsuit that Microsoft faced from a small Canadian company, i4i, who claimed a patent (5,787,449) on an XML editing feature. Microsoft lost the lawsuit, and the court issued an injunction against Microsoft and claimed that the feature was worth an astounding $98 per copy where the feature was used.

Well, it’s even more interesting than that because Microsoft’s infringement was deliberate and it involved stabbing a ‘partner’ in the back. Can Microsoft help abolish software patents right now? Highly doubtful, but this case against Microsoft might contribute towards this goal.

Why Paul Allen (Interval Patent Troll) Targets Companies That Do Not Cross-license With (or Pay) Microsoft

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 4:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Longbow targets

Summary: A patchy pattern is spotted by Techrights — a pattern wherein companies that are trolled for big cash by Microsoft’s co-founder are actually not paying Microsoft for patents

PAUL ALLEN’S case against (almost) the whole industry is an important subject which we will watch closely. Allen is not alone among Microsoft executives who become well-funded patent trolls. Other examples include Nathan Myhrvold and Bill Gates.

Allen’s professional transformation into a patent troll has already produced at least one cartoon. “Paul Allen will not be able to attack Microsoft or anyone else with agreements due to his prior contracts with Microsoft so it’s basically off limits,” explained to us Oiaohm last night (morning time in Australia where he lives).

“[W]hile this is perhaps true,” argued FurnaceBoy from Canada, “it should not head off some examination of the incestuous intertwined strategies here.”

FurnaceBoy then spells out three letters: “S. C. O.”

This is a discussion that came about since one of our readers posted the following comment yesterday, pointing out that (almost) none of the companies which Allen sued cross-licenses with Microsoft and they are all US-based, i.e. susceptible to software patents. The commenter says:

“Paul Allen will not be able to attack Microsoft or anyone else with agreements due to his prior contracts with Microsoft so it’s basically off limits”
“IBM have a deal, and it is not sued by Allen. Oracle has a deal because Sun had. Samsung has Microsoft deal…. HP too (they are even managed by Microsofties). VMware is managed by Microsofties, but I don’t think it has a patent deal, Red Hat is protected by the OIN and probably Allen don’t have a patent that might hit them. Canonical too, and it is too small fish… and Canonical helps Microsoft with Mono.

“HTC has Microsoft deal….

“I think there is some other common denominator we are missing. He didn’t sue exactly every Microsoft competitor that is not paying privilege to Microsoft. What else those companies have in common? Maybe the fact they are all into Cloud Computing. Maybe they all use FOSS in some part of their infrastructure, or they depend on Microsoft and still use some competing technology.”

Based on another new post from a pro-Linux site (“Apple and open source forced to team up”):

Microsoft is in violation of these patents just the same as the companies that Paul Allen is suing. Interestingly he has not chosen to sue the company that he helped to build. Most of his targets are companies that use open source technology with Apple being one of the few exceptions.

Speaking of Apple, it carries on suing Linux and patenting more and more things (this time stack circuits [1, 2]).

Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols (SJVN) asks, “What does Paul Allen think he’s doing!? Besides keeping patent lawyers employed & trying to make a few more billions?”

David Postman, a spokesman for Allen, said that Interval Research was a “groundbreaking contributor” to the development of the commercial Internet and that the patents are fundamental to the ways leading e-commerce and search companies continue to operate.” I say this is nonsense.

I am not a lawyer, but I have used the Web almost since day one and I was using the Internet for more than a decade before the Web ever showed up. I’ve read these patents and they all scream prior art to me.

I think the patents that Oracle is using against Google are weak, but with our fouled up patent legal system in the U.S. they may hold up. I can’t imagine Allen’s patents holding up.

That aside, I don’t understand why Allen is launching these patent attacks.


But, as to what Allen is doing … I don’t have a clue. Again, he has more riches than many countries. Microsoft surely didn’t want him to do it.

I think Microsoft will be the ones closest to him to suffer. If I were a multi-billion-dollar company, I’d be tempted to use my own patent arsenal on the source of Allen’s wealth: Microsoft. Surely he doesn’t want that. No one in big business, except patent trolls, would.

TechDirt believes (or thinks out loud) that “Paul Allen’s Patent Madness [May Be] Really An Attempt To Show The Madness Of Patents” and “[o]ne of the Allen patent has 129 claims,” points out Jan Wildeboer (Red Hat), who shows this software patent. The abstract starts as follows:

The invention facilitates and enhances review of a body of information (that can be represented by a set of audio data, video data, text data or some combination of the three), enabling the body of information to be quickly reviewed to obtain an overview of the content of the body of information and allowing flexibility in the manner in which the body of information is reviewed.

Microsoft Florian, a .NET developer and defender of Microsoft’s patent aggression, has been confronting Wildeboer over at Twitter. “He [Florian] supports patent Microsoft patent troll on his blog, that is smoking gun,” writes gnufreex. Anyway, here is the exchange from Twitter:

[16:33] [Notice] -TRT to #techrights- [jwildeboer] Once we fought side by side against #swpat, but now it seems Florian has moved to the dark side. http://is.gd/eLFzN

[16:33] [Notice] -TRT to #techrights- [fosspatents [Microsoft Florian]] @jwildeboer No dark side. Those defendants want same patent system as plaintiff, and it’s important to interpret eBay vs. MercExchange.

[16:33] [Notice] -TRT to #techrights- [jwildeboer] @FOSSpatents Allen has enough money already, your arument he is looking for “recognition” iis #fail. Why didn’t he sue MSFT?

[16:33] [Notice] -TRT to #techrights- [fosspatents] @jwildeboer I connected recognition to not wanting to be called a troll. Re. Microsoft, I don’t know. Maybe they did a license deal?

Separately, Wildeboer shows that Patent WatchTroll, a patent lawyer and thus an aggressive proponent of software patents, validates Paul Allen’s status as a patent troll. Patent WatchTroll says that “it seems to me that Mr. Allen is attempting to enter the deep, dark world of patent trolls” and “[i]f I were one of the defendants I would file a motion to dismiss for failure to state a claim” (the full post can be found here). It also says: [via Wildeboer]

[C]olor me cynical about Interval Research’s decision to sue all major tech players other than Microsoft, the company that Allen co-founded with Gates.

When even a patent lawyer who is strongly for software patents calls Allen a “patent troll” (or refers to him as such), then who could possibly dispute this other than peripheral Microsoft PR bots such as Ed Bought [sic]?


USPTO is Imperialistic

Posted in America, Asia, Europe, GNU/Linux, LG, Microsoft, Patents at 7:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Napoleon in His Study

Summary: Another new set of examples where the USPTO hijacks other countries’ policies and threatens businesses overseas using the ITC

EARLIER THIS YEAR we showed how lobbyists from 'NZ'ICT et al. were taking over the patent system in New Zealand. Similar tricks are being used in Europe (“device” as means of legalising software patents) and there is also UPLS [1, 2, 3], which has the potential to export the USPTO guidelines (permitting software patents) to the European Union. It’s a sort of US imperialism, in the sense that laws which empower the United States are forced upon other countries. The UPLS recently faced some “legal setback”, confirms IDG. They will probably just dress that up as something else, maybe just rename it once again.

The European Court of Justice looks set to derail plans for a common patent system across the European Union. The court’s Advocate General believes that a centralized patent is “incompatible with the treaties” that created the E.U., according to a leaked document.

USPTO imperialism through back room deals is not out of the ordinary and in Russia there seems to be advancement for this plot at the moment:

The U.S. Patent & Trademark Office and its equivalent in Russia are launching a one-year pilot program on Sept. 1 to fast-track each other’s approved patent applications.

Such “Patent Prosecution Highway Programs” allow patent offices to use each other’s work to help process applications more quickly.

That would potentially facilitate some mergers in the future. Might the EPO implement something similar? East Asia, notably Japan and Korea, has already been hit by the disease which is software patents, with victims or accomplices such as LG, which pays Microsoft for Linux. LG has just been hit by a patent infringement investigation and possible embargo by the US:

NOT EVEN A HAIR’S BREADTH away from being embroiled in a price fixing investigation, LG is being investigated for alleged patent infringement.

It’s the US International Trade Commission (ITC) [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], imposing US rules on Asian companies (the ITC is like the USPTO’s ‘enforcement agency’, imposing sanctions such as embargoes). Don’t nations get tired of being bossed around by a nation overseas, whose patent office has gone out of control and now nurtures patent trolls in industrial quantities?

IRC Proceedings: August 30th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 7:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz




#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

Enter the IRC channels now

Oracle Promotes hypePod/hypeTunes Just Weeks After Suing Android, Java’s Founder Has Message for Ellison

Posted in Google, Java, Oracle, Patents at 6:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Leisure Suit Larry Ellison

Summary: Oracle is promoting Apple’s products and Mister Java himself creates t-shirt designs to protest against Ellison’s decision to sue Google with his own patents

WHEN Oracle announced that it was suing Google over Android we immediately (on the first day) pointed out that Ellison and Jobs are close friends [1, 2], which may give motivation for Oracle to sue and thus help hypePhone. Other people pointed this out later on and now there’s evidence showing that Oracle is actively promoting Apple products:

Create an Oracle online account today and we’ll give you a Free $10 iTunes Gift Card or Iron Man 2 Poster

Dear Brandon,

A lot of great things will be coming from the combination of Oracle and Sun and you’ll want to stay informed! Keep up to date by creating an Oracle online account today and receive a free iTunes gift card or Iron Man 2 poster if you’re one of the first 12,000 to respond.

Simply follow the link below and tell us a little more about yourself. You can opt-in to receive news and information about products and events from Oracle, and if you’re one of the first 12,000 to reply you’ll receive a free gift card or Iron Man 2 poster.

Real classy, Larry. For those who don’t know, Larry Ellison appears in the film Iron Man 2. He is a real charlatan. Meanwhile we get to realise that Google gets proactively expelled (it withdrew for obvious reasons) from Oracle’s Java events. We put citations in daily links. There are alternatives planned though and Java’s founder has a stunt coming:

  • JavaOne conference may get a rival

    Media company Software & Support Media (S&S) plans to offer a U.S.-based version of its JAX (Java Apache XML) conference, which the company has been conducting in Germany for several years.

    “A lot of the Java community has been a little upset about how the JavaOne conference is being [run] by Oracle,” said a source familiar with S&S plans.

  • Let Larry know you care

    I whipped up a couple of t-shirt designs on the topic of Oracle’s commitment to releasing Java. If you’re attending JavaOne or OpenWorld, I’d appreciate it if you’d wear one, just to let Larry know that you care. Or if you just happen to be wandering the neighborhood (I know that there are lots of Java hackers who work within just a few blocks of Moscone).

  • Oracle, Sun, Java: lawsuits mark the exit road

    James clearly points out the fact that JavaME fragmentation was a substantial hurdle for developers, and believes that in a lesser way this may be true for Android as well. While it is true that fragmentation was a problem for Java on mobile, this was a common aspect of mobile development at the time (go ask a Windows Mobile developer about fragmentation. And see a grown man cry, as the song says). The problem of JavaME was not fragmentation, but lack of movement – the basic toolkits, the UI components, most of the libraries for one reason or the other remained largely unchanged apart a few bug fixes. JavaFX should have been promoted much, much earlier, and would have had a great impact on software development, like (I believe) the more recent Qt releases from Nokia and their idea of declarative user interfaces.

    If we compare with the rest of Java, we see a much stronger push towards adding libraries, components, functionalities: all things that made Java one of the best choices for software developers in the enterprise space, because the developers can trust Sun to update and extend their platform, making their job easier and faster. It was the same approach that made Microsoft the king of software: create lots of tools and libraries for developers, sometimes even trying to push more than one approach at a time to see what sticks (like Fahrenheit) , or trying very experimental and skunkworks approach, that later are turned into more mature projects (like WinG). JavaEE and JavaSE followed the same model, with a consistent stream of additions and updates that created a confidence in developers – and, despite all the naysayers, for enterprise software Java was portable with very little effort, even for very large applications.

Steve Lohr over at the New York Times continues to watch this case, which is only a few weeks old [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6].

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