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09.23.10

Today’s SCO Bankruptcy Hearing is Called Off, Potential Suitors Named

Posted in Courtroom, Novell, SCO, UNIX at 9:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rejected

Summary: Not much is left of SCO, the bankruptcy hearing is reportedly cancelled, and a buyer for its assets has not been found yet

THE LATEST part of the seemingly-endless SCO case is the sale of the company’s software assets [1, 2], which are still used in few places:

The asset sale has remained in abeyance for months, but with the approval of the bankruptcy court, bids can be accepted and SCO’s few remaining customers will have a new provider to look after the SCO software. Some of SCO’s recent customers included Kmart, McDonald’s and Germany’s train system.

We wrote about the sale in some previous posts (e.g. [1, 2, 3]) and Groklaw says that today’s SCO bankruptcy hearing is cancelled. Groklaw has also just uploaded some old text and looked at possible buyers of SCO’s UNIX®-related assets (Novell too is looking for buyers).

There is a humungous filling in the SCO bankruptcy, 184 pages, showing all the recipients who were sent the order [PDF] by the court authorizing the auction of substantially all of SCO’s assets. Of course, they have to give notice to everyone who might be affected, all the creditors, 8,302 in all. Poor things. What will they ever get from SCO? A plugged nickel, maybe.

But that’s not the interesting part. Look at the last page of the PDF. It seems to be a list of former attempted buyers, and maybe it’s a list of the potential buyers once again. Of course, Steve Norris and the unXis gang is on the list. So are some others that have tried to buy assets from SCO before, like York. I’ll show you the entire list.

Over at Bloomberg, which used unreliable sources to cover SCO recently, Victoria Slind-Flor writes this about the case:

Bidding for SCO’s Unix Assets Starts After Court Approves Sale

The SCO Group Inc., which lost a court battle over the rights to the Unix operating system, is selling all its Unix assets, the company said in a statement yesterday.

The Lindon, Utah-based company had claimed it was owed royalties by International Business Machines Corp. for the unauthorized use of Unix code in the Linux operating system.

Novell Inc. of Waltham, Massachusetts, actually owned the rights, a Salt Lake City jury in federal court decided in March. In August the Delaware bankruptcy group gave the Utah company authorization to sell its software assets.

According to the SCO statement, bids must be submitted by October 5. The sale is being handled by Ocean Park Advisors LLC of Los Angeles.

The bankruptcy case is In re SCO Group Inc., 07-11337, U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Delaware (Wilmington). The case against Novell was SCO Group v. Novell Inc., 2:04-cv-00139-TS, U.S. District Court, District of Utah.

Here we have another item that Novell and SCO have in common. The next post will delve into Novell’s sale.

Linspire/Ballnux in Tablets; HP Possibly Experiments With Vista 7 in Slate After Abandoning It, Then Hiring From Microsoft

Posted in GNU/Linux, HP, Linspire, Microsoft, Patents, Vista 7, Xandros at 8:35 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hands

Summary: “Microsoft tax” in tablets is recalled now that Linspire meets MeeGo and Vista 7 allegedly meets the HP “Slate” again

SOME DAYS AGO we wrote about Linspire disputes following the sale of the company’s assets, including invisible ‘assets’ like the “Linspire” trademark.

Well, trademarks are a touchy subject in the Free software world and “Linspire” was never truly used as a trademark by Xandros which bought it. It has been MIA for 2 years.

Xandros is hardly mentioned anymore (with few exceptions like this one) and Linspire is rarely but still mentioned as a supported platform.

Earlier today we learned about this “Linspire on MeeGo” tablet thing, which is baffling as no other source seems to be covering it and it’s not clear what Linspire has to do with it.

The Linspire-MeeGo tablet will likely support touch-based input methods and gestures. Linpus will be creating touchscreen-specific apps to run on MeeGo, such as an eReader, maps, mail, a browser, and a media player. Linpus will also include a contact manager.

We were pretty sure Linspire (Ballnux) was in its grave by now; given that it was a Microsoft-taxed distribution, no love was lost. Is this “Linspire-MeeGo tablet” taxed by Microsoft for imaginary patent violations? What would Nokia say now that its CEO is a former Microsoft president (also see [1, 2, 3])?

Speaking of tablets, in our previous posts about the HP-Hurd scandal [1, 2, 3, 4] we explained that Microsoft entryism at HP seemed to have had the effect of making the company neglect Linux and bring back Vista 7 to the “Slate”, even after HP had officially abandoned it. According to this new video (“Supposed HP Slate prototype video”), Microsoft cronies at HP may have had their way.

It’s a Windows 7 version of the same old Microsoft Tablet PC form factor, but this time, with a finger instead of a stylus. They used to call these “slate”-type Tablet PCs. They were slaughtered in the market by the “convertible” type that had the flip-around laptop keyboards, because most Windows software simply works much better with a keyboard and trackpad.

This was brought to our attention by lnxwalt, who dented: “HP “Slate” video: http://cl.ly/2W0J via @mikegrace@twitter.com — should have killed it; #WebOS tablets should be *much* better. [...] Holy cow! That thing is awful! Is it Flash that makes it so slow?”

Well, Vista 7 is not suitable for portable devices. That’s why Linux/Android does so well on these form factors whose sales grow.

More Microsoft Debt. “This Could be a High-class Ponzi Scheme.”

Posted in Finance, Microsoft, Office Suites at 7:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Microsoft, the world’s most valuable company, declared a profit of $4.5 billion in 1998; when the cost of options awarded that year, plus the change in the value of outstanding options, is deducted, the firm made a loss of $18 billion, according to Smithers.”

The Economist, 1999

Summary: As Microsoft returns to buying its own stagnant stock, Microsoft boosters view it as an admission of failure and Pogson, a Microsoft critic, says it “could be a high-class Ponzi scheme.”

“Another Year Older, A Little Deeper In Debt,” says Pogson’s headline regarding Microsoft’s debt. He too suspects that Microsoft is not telling the whole truth about its financial situation (which it paid its former CFO not to talk about).

M$ is increasing it dividend to shareholders and paying for it with an issue of long-term notes. To pay some of them back they will have to be in business for another 30 years. Do you feel lucky, punk? I would not count on a company with decreasing share and being hated by many customers being in business that long, would you? This could be a high-class Ponzi scheme. Why is a company awash in cash and taking in $billions in sales borrowing money?

We wrote about Microsoft in relation to Ponzi schemes before [1, 2].

Microsoft has just hidden a lost division inside a very profitable one. Chips B. Malroy called it “the shell game of hiding loses, moving divisions around that are losing too much money” (here is Microsoft’s SEC filing).

Matt Rosoff from a Microsoft booster called "Directions On Microsoft" has just published a daring article in Business Insider:

FINALLY: Microsoft Just Stopped Pretending It’s A Growth Company

[...]

Microsoft’s after-market announcement of a 23 percent dividend increase, bringing its quarterly payout to $0.16 per share (a yield of about 2.5 percent), is the next step in a transition I first began to notice this July at the company’s annual meeting for financial analysts.

For most of its history, Microsoft has tried to present itself as a growth company. The market clearly disagrees—the company’s P/E ratio sits at less than 12 this morning, which is more typical of a value company than a booming tech company with huge future growth potential.

Microsoft finally appears to be coming around to this point of view itself.

With layoffs and dying/dead products, Microsoft has not been a growth company for a very long time. Microsoft cannot live on a diet of Windows and Office forever because they don’t sell so well anymore [1, 2] and Microsoft gets downgraded as a result [1, 2].

Key Microsoft Figure (Internet Explorer Platform Architect) Quits Microsoft, Joins Google

Posted in Google, Microsoft at 7:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Titanic iceberg
“The iceberg suspected of having sunk the RMS Titanic. Contains the infamous “red smear” and was found in the same vicinity as many bodies and debris from the ship. They do not know how big it was.” –Wikipedia

Summary: A 15-year Microsoft veteran who is a public face of Internet Explorer and Microsoft at the W3C is quitting Microsoft before IE9 is tactlessly released (only to Vista 7 SP1 users)

GOOD NEWS, bad news. It’s a famous phrase which seems to fit here because Chris Wilson, whom we criticised in many posts such as [1, 2], abandons the sinking ship; the problem is that he’s joining Google (which picks up a disturbing amount of Microsoft employees).

Chris Wilson, the man who once was the IE Platform Architect at Microsoft and has been working for the company for the last 15 years, announced that he will be joining Google in November.

Wilson said he is taking a month off and then will be joining Google as a Developer Advocate, working out of Google’s Fremont, Washington, offices.

This is also covered in:

This must be a major blow to the Internet Explorer team, whose next release will only work with Vista 7 SP1 (huge mistake). As our reader ThistleWeb put it today, “Microsoft [is] forcing customers to spend more money yet again, what a surprise…”

Wilson’s departure may indicate that he too does not see a bright future for Internet Explorer. Without Internet Explorer, Microsoft will continue to lose control in an era of the World Wide Web. Microsoft loses many billions of dollars on the Web.

Another Microsoft Product is Dying: ‘Oslo’ Modeling Platform

Posted in Microsoft at 7:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Syringe in Oslo

Summary: Microsoft is shedding off failed parts of its portfolio as financial stress grows and layoffs/offshoring become an ordinary reality

Mary Jo Microsoft has reasons to worry about the company that made her career. “In August,” she explains, “I noted that Microsoft had discontinued Quadrant,one of its Oslo data-modeling tools. In a blog post on September 22, Microsoft officials confirmed Quadrant and the related Oslo Repository components have both been eliminated.”

We wrote about Quadrant before and added it to the list of dead products. All those cancelled products inevitably lead to more layoffs (another new round of which is rumoured to be coming).

Those dead products have their demise spun a little by the ‘Microsoft press’, which targets Microsoft staff and tries to elevate morale:

Microsoft is announcing today that key components of its “Oslo” modeling platform are no longer part of its model-driven development strategy. In the on-going battle of competing data platform technologies at Microsoft, the company is focusing its efforts on the Open Data Protocol (OData) and the Entity Data Model, which underlies the Entity Data Framework and other key technologies.

Announced in October 2007, the Oslo modeling platform consisted of the ‘M’ modeling language, a “Quadrant” visual designer and a common repository based on SQL Server. The technology was initially targeting developers, according to Microsoft, with an eye towards broadening tools like Quadrant to other roles such as business analysts and IT. Alpha bits of some of the components were first made available at the Professional Developers Conference in October 2008. Oslo was renamed SQL Server Modeling technologies in November 2009. The final community technical preview was released that same month and required Visual Studio 2010/.NET Framework 4 Beta 2.

To cut a long story short, “[t]he end of Oslo is not surprising based on the project’s lack of newsworthy developments as it was bounced around from the Connected Services division to the Developer division to the Data Platform team.”

Buying a Mac First ,Then Deciding to ‘Leave’ GNU/Linux (on the Mac)

Posted in Apple, FUD, GNU/Linux, KDE at 6:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Update: as pointed out in the discussion in the comments, there were some misunderstandings and corrections/clarifications have been made since the original post was published.

Macbook owner is ‘leaving’ GNU/Linux, but did he ever come to GNU/Linux?

Leaving

Summary: A protest against GNU/Linux comes from an unexpected place — someone who already bought an Apple Mac and then decided to try GNU/Linux on it

INCREASINGLY, Apple becomes a problem which directly harms software freedom. “[A]pple is attacking Linux AGAIN,” said to us someone this afternoon, “and, they’re using kdeplanet again… there’s only rhetoric and guy is deleting non apple friendly comments… there’s pure FUD…”

“To suggest that KDE is hard to use because of versatility is not correct based on these experiences. It’s more of a stigma.”Interestingly enough, the page appears to have just been deleted (it worked earlier and the front page still has the content). Could backlash have caused it? It starts by saying “I originally bought a Macbook to use as a nice Linux laptop and for some iPhone and Qt OSX development.” The funny thing is that this person bought an overpriced Mac and then said he was “Moving to OSX” (which is what’s already installed on the computer to begin with).

Earlier this week I spent hours installing PCLinuxOS (with KDE 4.4) for some other people and they found it very simply to use, even as former XP users with no GNU/Linux experience at all. No guidance was needed. To suggest that KDE is hard to use because of versatility is not correct based on these experiences. It’s more of a stigma.

Like Teaching Children to ‘Smoke’ Safely to Reduce Risk of Cancer

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 6:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No smoking

Summary: “National Cyber Security Awareness Month” is being exploited by a programme that receives the support of Howard Schmidt from Microsoft (now Cyber Security Czar); In it, children aged 11-14 would be taught cyber ‘security’ rather than insecure parts of the systems simply removed

“The estimated cost of unsolicited emails to businesses in 2007 was $100 billion,” wrote lnxwalt earlier today, pointing to this page. The overall cost of Windows botnets that dispatch spam and cause other harm may be measurable on the scale of trillions.

Microsoft is currently alerting customers that ASP.NET is a security problem. We covered this in earlier stages of the problem [1, 2]. It affects a lot of Windows-powered Web sites and last night there was a discussion in IRC about the serious Twitter flaw and whether it affects just Internet Explorer, Windows, and Office users. One newly-published article says:

[T]he worms of yore were so devastating because they could exploit a global monoculture: Microsoft Internet Explorer or Microsoft Word running on Microsoft Windows just about everywhere. This made it far simpler to exploit weaknesses in distant PCs, because the actual architecture was known with a high degree of probability.

With the mouseover mess, we were saved by the wonderfully diverse ecosystem of Twitter clients operating through the Twitter API. This meant that assumptions that were correct for code running on the twitter.com site were not valid elsewhere.

This hammers home once more the importance of avoiding monocultures, and encouraging rich and diverse ecosystems (multicultures?) One of the easiest ways of doing that is to adopt free software alternatives to all the Microsoft warhorses. The open source world being what it is, it is far more varied, not least in terms of versions and applications (critics might even call it fragmented). That makes mass attacks hard, and therefore unlikely, since ne-er-do-wells don’t even bother trying when they can just code for Windows.

Open source is certainly not immune to attacks – for example, I fell victim to the mouseover exploit despite using a completely free software stack (thanks, Twitter.com) – but it reduces the risk overall. That means if you are not using it for business, you are increasing that risk – which would be a pretty irresponsible thing to do, no?

On the client side, having Windows cannot help.

Microsoft’s former employee Howard Schmidt of now the Cyber Security Czar in the United State (after a recent appointment which we mentioned in [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7]) and rather than calling out Windows and making platform recommendations, he does the usual thing by endorsing/giving people unnecessary ‘education’ about Windows et al. He can’t take Windows off schools’ agenda where Gates (his former boss) is increasingly taking control, can he? Some PR puppets sent us the following E-mails a short while ago, helping to show how Schmidt and his subordinates try to tackle this problem. Below we put the message, without appending an accompanying press release that we omit.

A free program that brings top cyber security experts into schools to teach kids how to avoid online dangers has received the support of White House Cyber Security Coordinator Howard Schmidt.

The (ISC)2 Safe and Secure Online Program, administered by the world’s largest body of information security professionals, brings experts into schools to teach children ages 11-14 how to protect themselves in a cyber-connected world. Issues addressed include cyber bullying, social networking, online predators, identity theft, online reputation, and more.

Launched in the U.S. in the fall of last year, the program has reached more than 30,000 kids. Just in time for National Cyber Security Awareness Month, the U.S. program now has more than 1,000 cyber expert volunteers signed on to conduct presentations this fall.

Please see full details below. If you would like to know if any schools presentations are taking place near you, or if you would like additional information on the program, please contact me. Thank you.

Juliette Mutzke
Maples Communications, Inc.

Schools should not be used to indoctrinate children with presentations on how to use Microsoft software and other products securely (it is often not possible). It is neither effective nor a decent use of school time/budget.

“[W]hen nobody is using Windows, there will be no botnets”

Professor Eben Moglen, 2010

IRC Proceedings: September 23th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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