Microsoft Thinks That Tax and Arrests Will Make Up for Security Flaws in Windows

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 8:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

No trespassing sign

Summary: Scott Charney from Microsoft wants some money because of security crises and others jail the exploiters rather than actually fix the issue they exploit

LET’S give some credit to Microsoft. It’s a very comical company. One of its satirists, Mr. Charney, has been making many good people laugh when he started preaching about help to Microsoft through taxpayers’ money. It began several months ago [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9] and earlier this month he took the stage again [1, 2], telling a sob story and then appealing for donations. His employer created a monster with a back door and it cannot seem to get this monster under control anymore (it only keeps getting worse).

Over the weekend we presented yet another rebuttal and assorted reactions. Here are some more that caught our eye:

i. The day that Microsoft wore a tinfoil hat and shouted la, la, la

Let me run that past you again: if your computer (or network) gets infected by some malware and ends up being part of a botnet, quite possibly courtesy of some zero-day exploit taking advantage of a Windows vulnerability, then that computer (or network) should be forcibly disconnected and put into some kind of cyber-quarantine using an adapted public health model.

Charney clearly hasn’t thought this through. In his speech at the International Security Solutions Europe (ISSE) Conference in Berlin, and also in the accompanying Microsoft white paper “Collective Defense: Applying Public Health Models to the Internet” he pushes the whole public health model approach as a solution to the online security threat. Charney likens an infected computer to an infected individual who puts others at risk by not getting vaccinated, and argues that a public health model which tracks and controls the spread of infection, quarantining folk to reduce the spread, is the answer in the IT world.

ii. Microsoft Proposes Government Licencing of Internet Access

iii. The Sheer Hypocrisy of Redmond’s Stab at Internet Health

One of the benefits of being an 800-pound gorilla in this world is that you can use your strength and influence to help others.

So, apparently, seems to be the altruistic thinking at Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) these days. Not content to rule the world — or at least try to — with its Windows desktop dominance, the software behemoth has now apparently paused to propose a way to tackle the Internet’s malware problems too.

The fundamental issue here is that Microsoft wants the public to cover up the costs of its own disaster. What does it think it is? BP?

Anyway, for Microsoft to think that an Internet tax can bring about a solution is to totally ignore the fact that this money will do nothing to actually fix the root of the issue, namely Windows. And why should the public ever take the burden? Microsoft hardly pays any tax and according to Associated Press, it wants to pay even less.

In a statement released Wednesday, executives for the Boeing Co. and Microsoft Corp. say I-1098 would harm businesses by raising costs for suppliers and making it harder to attract talent.

They already reject local talent and offer no benefits because it’s cheaper. That’s just more baseless lobbying and an increasing number of citizens of Seattle/Washington comprehend this over time.

Let’s go back to the original subject. Under similar posts from the weekend [1, 2] — ones about the Zeus plague [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] and the arrests it led to — that’s again an example where rather than addressing the security issues in Windows, the side-effects get handled. “Zeus Arrests Won’t End Fraud” is the headline of this new article which challenges the approach:

U.S. officials have charged 92 suspects believed to have been involved in cyber attacks that stole $70 million from bank accounts over the last four years. Meanwhile, authorities in London arrested 19 people who allegedly stole more than $9 million in just over three months using the same malware. Police in the Ukraine arrested five suspects on September 30.

But will 116 arrests make a dent into the international banking fraud being perpetrated via Zeus? Don’t get your hopes up, say industry experts.

Microsoft has been trying to get attention off Windows insecurity and it’s working quite well because the media no longer deals with Windows as an issue. The next post will be dedicated to Stuxnet, which is an excellent new example of the severe damages sometimes caused by Windows.

Microsoft is Breaking New Records Tomorrow, But By How Much Really?

Posted in Microsoft at 7:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Windows does not reveal the full extent of its vulnerabilities, but Microsoft acknowledges that the number of holes (some very severe) increases to an all-time high

A COUPLE of days ago we wrote about Microsoft planning to break the record of most patches in a single day, which just comes to show that security gets worse — not better — at Microsoft. The company has already admitted that its flaws and fixed are occasionally hidden, so the following British reports [1, 2] ought to be taken with the knowledge that these are merely lower bounds:

Microsoft plans to push out a bumper crop of 16 bulletins – four critical – as part of the October edition of Patch Tuesday next week. The updates represent Microsoft’s largest ever Patch Tuesday.

There are even more flaws that Microsoft is just not telling its customers about, whether they get patched this time or not. It’s not just deceitful (in a self-serving way), but it also irresponsible. Microsoft should be forced never to lie about the numbers, but as it stands, they do not violate any such law (none exists).

Apple Shuts Down Factory Production of Linux Phones

Posted in Apple, Asia, GNU/Linux, Google at 7:41 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Factory ruines

Summary: Apple’s Godly hand strikes another manufacturer where phones of the ‘wrong’ brand were manufactured

Apple has already resorted to lawsuits against Android (with Linux) and now we discover that a design issue — not an alleged patent violation — is being used by Apple to remove a Linux-based phone from the market. “In case you have no idea what we’re talking about,” says Engadget, “earlier this month said Chinese company’s been in heated talks with Apple due to the M8 smartphone bearing an “appearance roughly similar” to the iPhone.” Apple appears to have gotten its way:

So, it looks like the M8′s all set for an early retirement, either way — it doesn’t look like Apple’s going to let this one go easily, and Jack’s also expressed concern over the fact that the IPO has the power to shut his factory down without going to court. That said, things are still looking positive for the elusive M9 — from the sounds of it, Meizu’s upcoming Android phone isn’t affected by this takedown (yet); but the question is whether Jack and co. can keep the shops running until a December launch for their next flagship device. Oh well, hang in there, Meizu!

Meizu M8 was going to have Android too.

Why does Apple fear commoditisation? If it can make phones that can justify their price, let competition do its thing.

“Those who can, innovate, those who can’t, litigate.” –Harish Pillay, Red Hat (and others)

Links 11/10/2010: Debian Links and OpenOffice.org 3.3 Beta Preview

Posted in News Roundup at 7:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • ATI Linux Users Get Excited For Catalyst 10.10

        In what has become an unfortunate tradition for the past few releases, prior to the release of Ubuntu 10.10, AMD provided Canonical with a pre-release of their latest proprietary Catalyst driver at the time. They have done this to fix some major bugs, but primarily to provide a working ATI/AMD proprietary graphics driver that will run against their latest Ubuntu Linux release as usually their latest public releases at the time do not support Ubuntu’s kernel and/or X.Org Server. With Maverick Meerkat, which was released yesterday, there is a pre-release of the Catalyst 10.10 Linux driver, which will not be released to the general public until later in October.

        The Catalyst 10.9 driver does not offer support for X.Org Server 1.9, which is used by Ubuntu 10.10, so in late September AMD had sent over an early Catalyst 10.10 driver to Canonical that offers “early look” support for this xorg-server that reached a stable status in August. Those running Ubuntu 10.10 and enabling the proprietary ATI/AMD support are using this driver.

      • New Ubuntu Support Site Debuts

        Just in time for the Ubuntu 10.10 (Maverick Meerkat) release, Stack Exchange has introduced a new website, called askubuntu.com, dedicated to Q&A for Ubuntu users, developers and partners.

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Zenwalk 6.4 review

        With all the hype surrounding mainstream Linux distributions like Ubuntu, openSUSE and Fedora, it’s easy to forget that there are quite a few other excellent distros out there. Case in point – Zenwalk. As Dmitri Popov discovers it’s a great way to give your old hardware a new lease of life…

    • New Releases

    • Debian Family

      • 5 reasons why I still contribute to Debian after 12 years

        If you’re using Debian, you know that this distribution is built entirely by volunteers that form a very diverse community. And you could be part of it. But why should you do that? I can’t tell for you but I can share my own experience. It’s been 12 years since I joined Debian and I’m going to tell you what keeps me on board.

      • Skolelinux- An educational subset of Debian for schools

        The Skolelinux / Debian Edu project is the result of an effort that started out as independent projects orcestrated by many different groups from different regions of Europe and these days, all over the world.

      • Debian’s developer dilemma: Why Debian should vote “yes”

        The Debian project is, in many ways, a model example of how an open source project should be run. Its Social Contract, Free Software Guidelines (DFSG), and Constitution have served the project well and influenced many other substantial FOSS projects when it comes to project governance.

        But voting rights are restricted to developers, or at least that’s the impression most people get when looking through the process to become a Debian Developer. It’s not that the project explicitly disallows non-developers membership, it’s that the path to becoming a voting member (Debian Developer) is practically hard-coded to require a contributor to maintain packages or do some kind of development. Debian Project Leader Stefano Zacchiroli put forward a General Resolution to welcome non-packaging contributors to Debian. A similar proposal came up in 2008, but was tabled for further discussion.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat Final Review

          As planned, Ubuntu 10.10 (codenamed “Maverick Meerkat”) was released yesterday, October 10th, 2010. Canonical usually releases closer to month end, but in this case it was a good opportunity to make it coincide with such a significant date. Ubuntu 10.10 was released on 10/10/10.

        • System 76 Starling netbooks won’t ship with ‘slow, confusing’ Ubuntu Unity
        • Ubuntu 10.10: date with destiny missed

          The first thing you’ll notice on a fresh install of 10.10 is the installer has once again been revamped, though the changes are for the most part cosmetic. The various slides that give new users information about Ubuntu have been tweaked and some menus appear to have changed. Unfortunately, the actual install process proceeds as usual – a fact that means dumping everything onto a single partition.

        • Ubuntu 10.10 Desktop i386 USB image

          Good old Ubuntu. Five years on, and still not offering an image that can be written to a USB stick and booted from.

          I really thought this time the Ubuntu overlords would have seen that tiny crack in the armor, and done something about it. But looking over the download page, it seems like it’s still something nobody has mentioned.

        • Nice themes for ubuntu 10.10 (maverick meerkat) users
        • Ubuntu 10.10: 12 reasons to try it now

          As Ubuntu 10.10, or “Maverick Meerkat,” hits the streets this Sunday, it’s a pretty safe bet that legions of existing Ubuntu users will be updating to the new release. After all, it looks to be Canonical’s most user-friendly Ubuntu Linux yet, and many of the new features promise to be must-haves.

        • Flavours and Variants

          • Mythbuntu 10.10 is here!

            Mythbuntu 10.10 has been released. With this release, we are providing mirroring on sponsored mirrors and torrents. It is very important to note that this release is only compatible with MythTV 0.23.1 systems. Previous Mythbuntu releases can be upgraded to a compatible version with the builds located athttp://www.mythbuntu.org/auto-builds. For a more detailed explanation, see here.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Energy-efficient NAS server shares USB drives

      Synology began shipping a diskless network-attached storage (NAS) server designed for use with USB storage devices. The USB Station 2 incorporates an 800MHz processor, supports up to 4TB of external storage via dual USB 2.0 ports, includes gigabit Ethernet port, and offers file sharing and multimedia streaming via Synology’s Linux-based, DLNA/UPnP-ready DiskStation Manager 3.0 software.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • First look at Acer Aspire One D255 with Android

          The Android implementation on Acer’s recently launched dual-boot netbooks feels more like a technology preview than a usable product. It is buggy and inextensible, with no possibility to install extra applications from the Android Market or any other repository. As such, it is limited to basic tasks, such as Internet browsing, web interaction, image viewing and media playback. It’s hard to say who the product is intended for – the Windows crowd will take one quick look and never boot into it again, while any Linux geek will surely prefer a proper Linux distribution or one of the netbook-oriented variants. Perhaps the only positive point is that by providing a Linux-based alternative on its netbooks, Acer was forced to build these computers from Linux-friendly hardware components, so there are no unwelcome surprises when it comes to hardware support.

          Of course, this is Acer’s first attempt at delivering an Android-powered netbook, so one can understand the difficulties of creating a workable solution from something that is much more suited to running on smaller handheld devices with touchscreens. Still, the manufacturer is guilty for making very little effort at customising the product for a 10-inch screen or, indeed, for not choosing to dual-boot Windows with a proper Linux distribution that would be so much more suitable for running on the netbook. Perhaps Acer will realise its mistake and provide a better Android implementation for its next release or it might even deliver online updates that would address some of the bugs and inconveniences. Unfortunately, by that time my Acer netbook will be running a real, full-featured Linux operating system, instead of this bizarre Windows XP/Android combination.

        • Amazon.com leads pack of new Android app stores

          Amazon.com will soon offer an Android app store to compete with Google’s Android market, a second industry report has confirmed. The effort joins Verizon’s recent Android-ready V Cast Apps store, as well as an Android “app-pack” service announced last week by Sprint.

          Want to set up shop and sell mobile applications? There’s a platform for that: the Android operating system Google unleashed to the open source community. And companies are taking advantage of the search engine’s largesse.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Ubuntu 10.10 arrives with impressive new netbook environment

        Canonical has announced the availability of Ubuntu 10.10, a major update of the popular Linux distribution. The new version introduces the Unity netbook environment, which offers a custom desktop shell that is optimized for ease of use on small displays and has a global menubar to conserve vertical screen space.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Piracy and Free Software

    Over the last few years, many advocates of access to information have gathered and organized under the banner of piracy. Should FLOSS and free culture advocates embrace advocates of piracy as comrades in arms or condemn them? Must we choose between being either with the pirates or against them? I believe that, unintuitively, if we take a strong principled position in favor of information freedom and distinguish between principles and tactics, a more nuanced “middle ground” response to piracy is possible. On free culture and free software’s terms, we can suggest that piracy is not ethically wrong, but that it is an shortsighted and unwise way to try to promote sharing that we should not support.

  • Would you hire an open source developer?

    One very important skill that you learn or improve in an open source community is to express yourself clearly in written form. The mailing lists or forums that we use are very limited compared to in-person communications, and extra care is required to get your message through. Being concise and complete, disagreeing respectfully, avoiding personal attacks and coping with what you perceive as personal attacks are all extremely useful skills on the job. Useful skills for your whole life actually.

    Once you master asynchronous written discussions as a way to build group consensus, doing the same in a face to face meeting can be much easier. But the basic skills are the same, so what you learn in an open source community definitely helps.

  • Open source comes of age?

    Say “open source software” to most people and they’ll conjure up an image of an alpha geek hunched over a keyboard, doing complicated things with command line interfaces. ‘All very well for the geeks,’ they think, ‘but not for ordinary mortals, and certainly too risky for my business.’

    In fact, open source software (OSS) is already ubiquitous in all sorts of places. For one thing, it runs most of the world’s Web servers, probably including yours. Apache has around 55% of the total world market share for Web servers, rising to 66% for the million busiest sites, compared to just 17% for its nearest rival, Microsoft. And it’s held that leading position since 1996.

  • Events

    • Touring the Balkans to promote Free Software

      James Michael Dupont (Mike) is a software developer that is doing a lot to promote Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) in Kosovo and other Balkan countries. This year, Mike invited a first class team to spend a couple of weeks in the southern Balkans, to explain why and how FOSS can play a great role in the social and economic development of those countries. The team included (I’m only naming those I met personally) Gnash developer Rob Savoye, technology historian Peter Salus, former member of the X.org Board of Directors Leon Shiman and LibreDwg developer Rodrigo Rodrigues da Silva.

      I attended the first and final parts of the tour, that is the two conferences FreeSB (Free Software in Balkans) and SFK10 (Software Freedom Kosova 2010). All the guys mentioned above gave really great talks that you can find (both slideshows and video!) on the conference websites. A few , only apparently “minor” talks that I found very relevant for t

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Please Mozilla, Let Me Disable Firefox Panorama

        I may be a bit old fashioned when it comes to changes in new versions of my favorite web browser Firefox. This can be partly attributed to years of working with a particular feature, only to find it completely revamped in a new version. Don’t get me wrong, if a feature makes sense from a usability point of view I’m all for it. But the Firefox developers lately seem to have concentrated much of their energy on making changes to the graphical user interface and the user’s interaction with the browser.

  • Oracle

  • Business

    • Build, buy or open source?

      Carbone believes building with open source software often makes software development more costly, error prone and slower to market. “Buying software offers faster time to market, portability to other hardware platforms, integrated components and the availability of support from the supplier. A proven solution with a strong track record of adoption and successful use can reduce risk of failure, just as using modern mcus saves time and reduces hardware cost.”



  • Fund-raising and self-publishing (the open source way), Part two

    Two online publishing companies that provide no additional barriers to users of open source software stacks (aside from the possible use of Flash) are CreateSpace (owned by Amazon) and Lulu . Both will get your publication listed on Amazon (if that is your goal), both feature copious written instructions and peer discussion (especially helpful to first-time authors), and neither requires any up-front payment.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

  • Finance

    • Florida’s Kangaroo Foreclosure Courts: Judges Denying Due Process on Behalf of Banks

      Florida is ground zero of the foreclosure crisis. In addition to being one of the epicenters of the housing meltdown, it has also become the jurisdiction where local lawyers have been the most effective overall in unearthing how servicers and foreclosure mills have engaged in widespread document fabrications and use of improper affidavits to foreclose.

    • Foreclosures Slow as Document Flaws Emerge

      Defense lawyers say the disclosures are symptomatic of the carelessness, if not outright fraud, that lenders have been exhibiting for years in their rush to file cases. Many necessary documents have disappeared, with defense lawyers saying the lenders often do not even have standing to foreclose.

    • Citigroup, Ally Sued for Racketeering Over Database

      The homeowners claim the defendants filed or caused to be filed mortgages with forged signatures, filed foreclosure actions months before they acquired any legal interest in the properties and falsely claimed to own notes executed with mortgages.

      The lawsuit is one of multiple cases against MERS and banks alleging that the process allows wrongful foreclosures. Several of these cases, combined in a multidistrict litigation in Phoenix, were dismissed Sept. 30, with the judge allowing the plaintiffs to re-file their complaints.

    • At Flagging Tribune, Tales of a Bankrupt Culture

      Behind the collapse of the Tribune deal and the bankruptcy is a classic example of financial hubris. Mr. Zell, a hard-charging real estate mogul with virtually no experience in the newspaper business, decided that a deal financed with heavy borrowing and followed with aggressive cost-cutting could succeed where the longtime Tribune executives he derided as bureaucrats had failed.

    • `Black Swan’ Author Says Investors Should Sue Nobel for Crisis

      Nassim Nicholas Taleb, author of “The Black Swan,” said investors who lost money in the financial crisis should sue the Swedish Central Bank for awarding the Nobel Prize to economists whose theories he said brought down the global economy.

    • How technology is contributing to economic chaos

      Earlier last September, Europe erupted in protest. (About time!) Tens of thousands of workers went on strike! From rail road workers to truckers. This resulted in serious disruption of everyday life in Spain, France, Germany, Sweden and more. The governments of the world think that cutting the average worker’s pay, pensions and raising taxes on them will correct the massive deficits.

      But, these deficits were not caused by the workers or average Joe! They were caused by Bankers and Policy Makers (Politicians). In October 2008, the world witnessed America’s stock market crash. The result of which took months and months to determine whom was to blame. First, it was blamed on real estate brokers. But, it was soon found that everyone in the financial industry from bankers, brokers, insurance agencies and even home owners tapping into equity they thought they could pay back, where all found to be part of the problem.

      You can blame any number of institutions. But, it is clear it was orchestrated by major Banks and Policy Makers. The Politicians ‘in bed’ with the bankers created polices over the years that ultimately supported the ultra rich and not anyone else.

    • Take Action! Demand a Freeze on Foreclosures!

      DON’T THINK THIS DOES NOT AFFECT YOU! Unemployment is now driving foreclosures. Flooding the housing market with illegal foreclosures hurts everyone’s property values and unfairly denies people an opportunity to save their homes from foreclosure. It’s time to finally stop this madness and hold the nation’s biggest banks accountable for their detestable actions.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Corporate Cash Floods US Congressional Elections

      Big business and the wealthy are pouring unprecedented sums of money into the US congressional elections, according to data reported in the media over the past several days. While the lion’s share of the money is going to candidates of the Republican Party, Democrats are also raking in millions, underscoring the status of both parties as political instruments of the financial aristocracy.

      Much of the spending is fueled by the Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case, handed down in January, which reversed 80 years of precedent and declared that corporations—as well as labor unions—had the right to spend unlimited amounts of money on behalf of their favored candidates.

      While individuals and organizations are limited in what they can give directly to a candidate, there is no limit on what they can spend on their own, as long as the advertising is not directly coordinated with the candidate.

    • Larry Kudlow Calls for Campaign Ad Funding Disclosure

      The push for disclosure follows exposure of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s possible use of funds from foreign companies and governments to finance political attack ads in the U.S., and Republicans’ success at blocking consideration of the DISCLOSE Act in September. The Act would prevent foreign influence in elections, enhance financial disclosures for advertising, and make CEOs and other leaders take responsibility for financing political ads.

    • How “Breast Cancer Awareness” Campaigns Hurt

      Because female breasts are sexy, and sex sells. Lungs and other organs — and their cancers — just don’t have the same zing. Lung cancer may be the country’s number one cancer killer, but people are unlikely to flock to buy weird and inappropriate “lung cancer awareness” products like a colored “lung cancer awareness” hand gun, a “colon-cancer awareness” floating beer pong table or a bile-colored “pancreatic awareness” toaster. Lungs, pancreases, colons, prostates and other hard-working internal organs are just plain unattractive marketing tools — they don’t sell stuff. They are asexual, and hidden, and we like them that way. Not so with breasts. Female breasts conjure up buying power like few other organs, and the “breast cancer awareness” theme gives corporate America a legitimate “in” to link female breasts to sales of just about anything — a winning combination for marketing purposes.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Argument preview: Protest vs. privacy
    • Local attorney jailed for not saying Pledge

      We talked to another attorney about this issue. He said if Lampley did not want to say the pledge he had that constitutional right.

      “You have a right to speak, and you have a right to remain silent. So I was shocked when I heard a lawyer had been put in jail. It doesn’t make any difference whether you agree with him or not it’s his constitutional right,” attorney Jim Waide said.

      Lampley said he hopes he and Judge Talmadge Littlejohn will be able to come to a resolution.

    • Making Congress All It Can Be

      In Justice Breyer’s view, democracy is best served when the court maintains “a strong workable relationship with Congress,” a partnership in which the court interprets statutes so as to help Congress achieve its legislative goals, unarticulated or even as coyly concealed as those goals may be. Why should that be? Here is Justice Breyer’s explanation:

      “The more the court seeks realistically to ascertain the purposes of a statute and interprets its provisions in ways that further those purposes, the harder it will be for the legislator to escape responsibility for the statute’s objectives, and the easier it will be for voters to hold their legislators responsible for their legislative decisions.” By contrast, when the court, deliberately oblivious to context and purpose, simply goes by the statute’s text, however inartful, “the easier it will be for legislators to avoid responsibility for a badly written statute simply by saying that the court reached results they did not favor.”

    • Kyrgyzstan election aims to bring democracy to central Asian nation

      Kyrgyzstan was today holding a landmark election that is likely to establish the country as the first parliamentary democracy in authoritarian central Asia. Thousands of Kyrgyz voters went to the polls to elect a new parliament following a violent year that saw a street revolution in April and savage ethnic riots in the south of the country in June.

    • The death knell for Morocco’s free press

      Leading Moroccan journalist Ahmed Benchemsi has difficulty speaking about Nichane, the vibrant Arabic-language news magazine he started four years ago, in the past tense. A passionate advocate for secularism, gender equity and individual rights and a vociferous critic of Islamist ideologies, Benchemsi was forced last Friday to close Nichane after major state-owned corporations subjected it to an advertising boycott that drove down revenues by almost 80%.

    • Liu Xiaobo Nobel win prompts Chinese fury

      China’s best-known dissident, Liu Xiaobo, today won the Nobel peace prize from the prison cell where he is serving 11 years for incitement to subvert state power.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Why Imitation Gets A Bad Rap… And Why Companies Need To Be More Serious About Copying

      Where the book really shines, in my opinion, is in Chapter 4, where it details the massive successes and failures of copycatting in two key industries: airlines and discount retail. In that chapter, Shenkar looks at the success of Southwest Air, which “imitated” the failed People Express, but figured out how to do discount air travel while avoiding a few key elements that resulted in People Express’ failure. He then goes through a variety of other airlines and how they tried to mimic Southwest Air, covering many examples of both success and failure, and explaining why some succeeded where others failed. Most notable, perhaps, was the dismal failure of pretty much every single attempt by the big airlines to copy Southwest. They all appeared to copy the superficial aspects of it — the key things that everyone knew about — without quite grasping the underlying structural reasons why Southwest succeeded, thereby setting up a business model in conflict with itself. It’s yet another fantastic reminder that the idea that big companies can just come in and copy what some innovator does is quite frequently not really true.

    • Copyrights

      • Record companies lose, artists gain

        In early September, two of my M.Sc. students handed in their thesis, which has created quite a stir in the Norwegian music industry. I think this has applicability outside Norway, so here is a translation (and light edit) of the Norwegian-language press release and a link to the full link to the full report (PDF, 3,4Mb)

      • Facebook Fails At The DMCA: Promises To Restore Counter-Noticed Content, But Doesn’t [Updated]

        This is part of how the DMCA works. If the user files a counternotice, and if the copyright holder does not file a lawsuit within 10 to 14 business days, the service provider can put the works back up. Now, some say that service providers are required to restore the material, while the text of the statute is a bit more ambiguous. In theory, a service provider could opt not to restore the materials for other reasons. However, in this case, none of that matters, as Facebook appears to have promised that it would “replace or cease disabling access” within 10 to 14 business days.

      • “Free Music Is Always Going To Win,” Says Lee Parsons, CEO of Ditto Music; Interview Part 1

        Lee Parsons: Record companies cannot look into problems from a fresh, artist based angle. Problems are often solved but not in the way they were intended. For instance, Facebook began decades ago as a printed manual of College students and faculty. Through the expansion of Web 2.0 itself, a consummate of available web technologies and techniques, this became the phenomenon it is today. It could well be the future of music, we don’t know.

        Shawn Fanning created Napster firstly for his own purpose. The new music models embrace as much technology and revolution as they can contain in a chaotic attempt to find a new and better path. Revolutionaries are prepared to make mistakes on the way; labels do not have this luxury. Many battles win a war, likewise through constant chaotic growth, development will come. Developing a new model for a major label is fuelled with risk so it is more likely they will continue to look for ways of containing technological advancement rather than embracing it as a new way of income.

      • Spotify crashes into Apple on way to U.S.

        These are some swinging Swedes, the guys at Spotify.

        Founded in Stockholm in 2006, Spotify is is an online streaming music service that has already conquered Europe with the help of a revolutionary desktop service and now desperately wants to make the jump to the United States.

        And it’s probably safe to say many American music fans want that to happen too. Yet, despite immense anticipation for the service here, the company has already failed to meet two promised launch dates. The new self-imposed deadline is for the end of the year. Spotify managers say that by then they’ll finally have licensing deals in place with the four largest record labels: Universal Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, Warner Music Group, and EMI Music.

Clip of the Day

Copiar no es robar – Copying Is Not Theft – Subtitulos en español

Credit: TinyOgg

Links 11/10/2010: New Ubuntu Reviews, MySQL Up-selling

Posted in News Roundup at 2:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Blind Inventors Develop Free Software to Enable the Blind to Use Computers

    For many blind people, computers are inaccessible. It can cost upwards of $1000 to purchase “screen reader” software, but two blind computer programmers have solved this problem.

  • Biggest Genome Ever

    Now THAT’s a genome. A rare Japanese flower named Paris japonica sports an astonishing 149 billion base pairs, making it 50 times the size of a human genome—and the largest genome ever found.

  • Queensland open source firm doubles staff

    The downturn in the US economy has benefitted Queensland open source company Jentla to the extent that it has had to double its staff numbers to meet demand.


    As a result of the demand, Jentla has taken on 20 new staff in the last quarter. The company has offices in Brisbane, its headquarters, Chennai (India) and in Romania. Most of the staff have been recruited in Chennai, at the company’s Tamil Nadu research and development office.

  • Events

    • Diversity, Freedom and Education at the Open World Forum

      This year I have been invited to present the first results of my research about Open public data at the 2010 Open World Forum. Due to the subject of my talk, I was also invited by Glyn Moody to a panel on Open Democracy (see Glyn’s comments on that panel at CWUK).

      I have to confess that I went to the Open World Forum expecting to find some pompous, self-referential, corporate driven marketing show. Luckily, that wasn’t the case, and this is what I’ll try to show here. The pounding, rave-style music at the beginning of each session was really depressing. A few talks by some politicians were not among the highest moments of the Forum (Glyn already explained why and I agree with him). This said, the Forum agenda was quite balanced and diverse. Personally I found it an interesting, useful event, one I would have been glad to attend even if I had not had to present my work. The Forum explored many sides of openness, not just the commercial one of Open Source software. Here are just a couple of examples.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • 4 Ways to Supercharge Double-Click Action in Firefox

        Double-clicking (and double tapping) is one of the preferred mouse (or touch pad) actions for me. It’s quick and easy and helps to get things done faster. Sadly, double-clicking is really under-utilized in Firefox.

        The only thing you can do by double-clicking in Firefox is highlighting the word right next to the cursor. Besides that (which is a less-known behavior), if you double-click the 2-3 pixel wide bar just beneath tabs, it opens a new empty tab in the foreground.

      • Mozilla puts Firefox 4 Android beta on crash diet

        The Firefox 4 Android beta is morbidly obese. But Mozilla has a diet plan.

        Over the past twelve hours, after Mozilla released its first Firefox 4 beta for Android, multiple Reg readers have said the browser takes up far too much space on their Googly phones. “Fooking HUGE!!!” said one. “Not even going to waste my time with the beta.”

      • Mozilla upsets net world order with Bing on Firefox

        As Mozilla announced this morning with a blog post, the latest English-language version of Mozilla’s open source browser — due for release in November — will retain Google as the default search engine. But for the first time, Bing will be listed in the pull-down that lets you change the default. Google will be first on the menu. Yahoo! — now powered by Bing — will be second. And Bing will be third.

  • Oracle

    • Oracle Up-selling MySQL

      Oracle is pressuring customers to pay more for enterprise support for MySQL. Those who may make tons of money from servers may feel comfortable with this but this could be a (another) fork in the road for MySQL. To what extent will the features Oracle is plugging in be available in the Free Software versions available to distros? So far, most of the differences are in clustering, management and support which do not affect many users of MySQL as a simple server.

    • MySQL price hikes reveal depth of Oracle’s wallet love
  • BSD

    • Ten ways Linux and BSD differ

      People tend to talk about Linux and BSD in the same breath, but a number of telling differences set them apart, says Jack Wallen.

      I hear it all the time: people lumping together Linux and any of the BSDs. On occasion, I’ve even done it myself. Of course, there are plenty of similarities. Both are based on Unix and have mostly been developed by non-commercial organisations. They also share a common goal — to create the most useful, reliable operating system available. But there are also significant differences that shouldn’t be ignored, and I thought it would be worth highlighting them here.

  • Licensing

    • HTC Willfully Violates the GPL in T-Mobile’s New G2 Android Phone

      Last week, the hottest new Android-based phone arrived on the doorstep of thousands of expectant T-Mobile customers. What didn’t arrive with the G2 was the source code that runs the heart of the device — a customized Linux kernel. Android has been hailed as an open platform in the midst of other highly locked-down systems, but as it makes its way out of the Google source repository and into devices this vision has repeatedly hit speedbumps. Last year, I blogged about one such issue, and to their credit Google sorted out a solution. This has ultimately been to everyone’s benefit, because the modified versions of the OS have routinely enabled software applications that the stock versions haven’t supported (not to mention improved reliability and speed).

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Generate OpenDocument spreadsheets from DB2 (or any other) database

      DB2 pureXML is IBM software for management of XML data that eliminates much of the work typically involved in the management of XML data.The OpenDocument Format (ODF) is an open international standard for office texts, presentations and spreadsheets that is very simple to process or generate automatically. This page is a short synthesis of an article published in September 2010 by N. Subrahmanyam, Using DB2 pureXML and ODF Spreadsheets, to give an idea (see my comments at the end) of how flexible ODF scripting is. Please read the original full article to know how to actually generate ODF documents from DB2 pureXML files.


  • AMD says it is definitely, really not for sale

    Maybe Larry Ellison’s killing of Opteron-based servers from Oracle’s Sun Fire x64 server lineup earlier this year was a love touch instead of a bitchslap for Advanced Micro Devices?

  • Ex-General Electric boss unleashes bile on HP board

    Oracle’s Larry Ellison isn’t the only CEO mouthing off at Hewlett-Packard’s decision to hire Leo Apotheker as the company’s replacement for disgraced former boss Mark Hurd. Now Jack Welch, the ex-chief of General Electric, is sticking the boot in, too.

  • Flat pay turns IT workers into job seekers

    Companies have cut salaries and training, held back on bonuses and piled more work on employees in response to the economic downturn. These tactics may well be pushing many IT professionals to go job hunting, according to Computerworld’s latest salary poll.

  • Former FTC staffer files a complaint against Google

    The complaint was filed on 6 September by Christopher Soghoian, a former technologist at the FTC’s division of privacy and identity protection. Soghoian has decided to take on Google after leaving the agency that should have done it anyway by issuing a complaint alleging that the search engine and advertising outfit shares data with third parties.

  • Former FTC Employee Files Complaint Over Google Privacy
  • Google Patent Proposes $2 Fee To Skip Commercials

    A day after Google debuted its new Google TV website, the USPTO issued U.S. Patent No. 7,806,329 to the search giant for its Targeted Video Advertising invention. Among other things, the patent proposes having viewers take 5-10 minutes to ‘fill out a consumer survey and perhaps to provide additional information such as a mailing address survey before starting the program’ to avoid having to watch 10 minutes of commercials. ‘As another alternative,’ the patent continues, ‘the broadcaster may offer the users an option to pay $2 (such as through a micro-payment system, such as GBuy) to exchange for skipping all commercials.’

  • Las Vegas Review-Journal Endorses The Same Candidate It’s Suing For ‘Stealing’ From Them?
  • Science

    • Boy of 15 fitted with robotic heart

      What do you do when a 15-year-old boy is close to death and ineligible for a heart transplant? If you’re Dr Antonio Amodeo you turn to an artificial solution and transplant a robotic heart giving the boy another 20-25 years of life.

      The Italian boy in question suffers from Duchenne muscular dystrophy which rapidly degenerates the muscles and eventually leads to death. Having such a disease renders the boy ineligible for a heart transplant meaning almost certain death without an alternative solution.

    • Mission Complete! WMAP Fires its Thrusters for the Last Time

      The Wilkinson Microwave Anisotropy Probe (WMAP) has, quite literally, changed our view of the Universe. And after nine years of mapping the slight temperature variations in the cosmic microwave background (CMB) radiation, its job is done and NASA has commanded the probe to fire itself into a “graveyard orbit” around the sun.

      Launched in 2001, this ground-breaking spacecraft set out to unravel some of the most fundamental questions in modern cosmology. How old is the Universe? What happened when the Universe was born?

    • How nitroglycerine explodes – in slow motion
    • Three scientists receive 2010 Chemistry Nobel

      Wednesday, October 6, 2010, saw the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences announce the 2010 Nobel Prize in Chemistry: It went to three scientists for their work in synthesizing complex carbon molecules; specifically, “for palladium-catalyzed cross couplings in organic synthesis”.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • The Government That Cried Wolf

      Speaking as an American who lives in Europe, I feel it is incumbent upon me to describe what people like me do when we hear warnings like the one issued on Sunday by the U.S. State Department and cited above: We do nothing.

    • iPhone app tagged as terror tool
    • US ex-spook wants ‘rogue states’ banned from Internet

      A FORMER US SPOOK wants all countries in the world to agree to do what America says or be banned from the Internet.

      It is not clear how much the views of the former chief technology officer at the US National Security Agency Dr Prescott Winter reflect those of his mates who still work there.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Solar Panels to Appear on White House in Spring 2011

      Solar panels will be installed on the White House roof a quarter of a century after they were removed by Ronald Reagan, the Obama administration said today.

      A mix of solar thermal and photovoltaic panels will be fitted in spring 2011 to generate hot water and renewable electricity, said Nancy Sutley, chair of the Council on Environmental Quality, and energy secretary Steven Chu at a conference on how federal government can green up.

    • Tuna Industry “Sustainability” Group Should Act to Save the Tuna!

      ISSF member companies account over 70% of the world’s tuna. The power to shift fishing practices on the water is well and truly in their hands, so Greenpeace
      challenges them to flex their considerable muscle to create positive change. If ISSF is genuinely concerned about transshipment and its role in overfishing and illegal fishing, then it should adopt conservation measures to oblige every one of its members to simply stop buying tuna from fishing companies that engage in tuna transshipment.

    • ‘Emission free’ nuclear power is more greenwash

      We’ve discussed before on Nuclear Reaction the nuclear industry’s attempts to greenwash nuclear power by rebranding it ‘clean’. It’s a description of this most contaminating of energy sources that nuclear boosters are pushing more and more in the debate about the future of nuclear power.

      Another term we’re starting to see more and more of is ‘emission free’, as in ‘nuclear power is an emission free energy source’. Take a look at this infographic where the Nuclear Energy Institute (‘the policy organization for the nuclear technologies industry’) portrays nuclear power as such. Even institutions like the BBC have bought the industry spin.

    • UPDATE: Climate negotiations from an American girl in China

      Tcktcktck’s Paul Horsman delivers a traditional Chinese stamp to UNFCCC Executive Secretary Christiana Figueres to mark the wall in support of collective action against climate change.

  • Finance

    • China’s recent activities in eurozone to devaluate US dollar

      The market structure of the rates of foreign currencies has been thrown into question. China has become more active in the eurozone as a result of the economic conflict with the USA. The Chinese dragon starts to determine quotations on world’s basic currencies, such as the euro and the US dollar.
      Premier Wen Jiabao of China stated during the meeting with the head of the Greek government George Papandreou that China had purchased long-term bonds, issued by Greece to cover its sovereign debt. Beijing, the Chinese official said, was determined to continue purchasing the bonds if Athens needed new loans to settle its huge budget deficit. Several days before that, the lower house of the US Congress approved the bill targeted against the lowered rate of the Chinese currency vs. the US dollar.

    • Fannie Mae logic-bomb saboteur convicted

      A computer contractor has been convicted of planting a logic bomb on the servers of Fannie Mae, the financially troubled US housing and mortgage giant.

      Rajendrasinh Babubhai Makwana, 36, responded to the termination of his two-year-long spell as a software development contractor at Fannie Mae in October 2008 by planting a malicious script designed to wipe all the data from its network on 31 January 2009. Anyone attempting to access data on the system after the logic bomb went off would have received the message “Server Graveyard”.

    • Unemployed find old jobs now require more skills

      The jobs crisis has brought an unwelcome discovery for many unemployed Americans: Job openings in their old fields exist. Yet they no longer qualify for them.

      They’re running into a trend that took root during the recession. Companies became more productive by doing more with fewer workers. Some asked staffers to take on a broader array of duties – duties that used to be spread among multiple jobs. Now, someone who hopes to get those jobs must meet the new requirements.

    • White House doubts need to halt all foreclosures

      A top White House adviser questioned the need Sunday for a blanket stoppage of all home foreclosures, even as pressure grows on the Obama administration to do something about mounting evidence that banks have used inaccurate documents to evict homeowners.

    • Financial regulators planning worldwide rules for large firms

      International bank regulators are planning a fresh wave of rules for the world’s most important financial companies in an effort to ensure that firms considered “too big to fail” are better protected from collapse – and that taxpayers are insulated from the fallout if they do.

    • Govt: No call for Social Security increase in 2011

      As if voters don’t have enough to be angry about this election year, the government is expected to announce this week that more than 58 million Social Security recipients will go through another year without an increase in their monthly benefits.

      It would mark only the second year without an increase since automatic adjustments for inflation were adopted in 1975. The first year was this year.

    • White House Aide Doubts Need to Halt Foreclosures

      A top White House adviser questioned the need on Sunday for a blanket halt to home foreclosures, even as pressure grows on the Obama administration to do something about growing evidence that banks have used inaccurate documents to evict homeowners.

    • Foreclosure freeze could undermine housing market

      Karl Case, the co-creator of a widely watched housing market index, was upbeat three weeks ago. Mulling the economy while at a meeting at a resort near the Berkshires, Case thought the makings of a recovery were finally falling into place.

      “I’m a 60-40 optimist,” he said at the time.

    • Why are so many Goldman/Sachs guys working for Obama?

      Goldman Sachs partner Gary Gensler is Obama’s Commodity Futures Trading Commission head. He was confirmed despite heated congressional grilling over his role, as Reuters described it, “as a high-level Treasury official in a 2000 law that exempted the $58 trillion credit default swap market from oversight. The financial instruments have been blamed for amplifying global financial turmoil.” Gensler said he was sorry — hey, it worked for tax cheat Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner — and was quickly installed to guard the henhouse.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Corrupt Akamai worker charged after secrets sting

      An Akamai accounts worker has been arrested for alleged wire fraud. This follows a sting operation during which the man was led to believe he was handing over confidential information to an agent of a unnamed foreign power.

    • Hacking the D.C. Internet Voting Pilot

      We found a vulnerability in the way the system processes uploaded ballots. We confirmed the problem using our own test installation of the web application, and found that we could gain the same access privileges as the server application program itself, including read and write access to the encrypted ballots and database.

      The problem, which geeks classify as a “shell-injection vulnerability,” has to do with the ballot upload procedure. When a voter follows the instructions and uploads a completed ballot as a PDF file, the server saves it as a temporary file and encrypts it using a command-line tool called GnuPG. Internally, the server executes the command gpg with the name of this temporary file as a parameter: gpg […] /tmp/stream,28957,0.pdf.

      We realized that although the server replaces the filename with an automatically generated name (“stream,28957,0” in this example), it keeps whatever file extension the voter provided. Instead of a file ending in “.pdf,” we could upload a file with a name that ended in almost any string we wanted, and this string would become part of the command the server executed. By formatting the string in a particular way, we could cause the server to execute commands on our behalf. For example, the filename “ballot.$(sleep 10)pdf” would cause the server to pause for ten seconds (executing the “sleep 10” command) before responding. In effect, this vulnerability allowed us to remotely log in to the server as a privileged user.

    • Hackers hijack internet voting system in Washington DC

      An internet voting system designed to allow District of Columbia residents to cast absentee ballots has been put on hold after computer scientists exploited vulnerabilities that would have allowed them to rig elections and view secret data.

      The system, which was paid for in part by a $300,000 federal grant, was hijacked just 36 hours after Washington DC elections officials began testing it ahead of live elections scheduled for next month. Scientists from the University of Michigan pulled off the hack to demonstrate the inherent insecurity of net-based voting.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • A Library Without Walls

        Can we create a National Digital Library? That is, a comprehensive library of digitized books that will be easily accessible to the general public. Simple as it sounds, the question is extraordinarily complex. It involves issues that concern the nature of the library to be built, the technological difficulties of designing it, the legal obstacles to getting it off the ground, the financial costs of constructing and maintaining it, and the political problems of mobilizing support for it.

      • On CBC podcasts and CC-licensed music available for commercial use

        On Friday, Michael Geist broke the story that the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation had apparently banned use of CC-licensed music in its podcasts. This seemed odd, given that the CBC’s Spark podcast has long used, promoted, and done interesting projects with CC-licensed music.

      • Record labels fail to get ‘three strikes’ rule enforced in Ireland

        Four of the world’s largest record companies have failed in an attempt to get the “three strikes” rule enforced against illegal filesharers in Ireland.

        Warner Music, Universal Music Group, Sony BMG and EMI brought the case against UPC, one of Ireland’s largest broadband providers, in order to establish a legal precedent that would force internet service providers to cut off illegal filesharers’ internet connections.

      • ACTA

        • ACTA is worthless without Chinese involvement

          But apparently those behind ACTA thought that they might have been able to get China on board. The fact that they have not has stymied ACTA negotiations, according to people familiar with the situation.

          “Critics say the omission of China from the list – the main source of the world’s counterfeit goods – makes the deal almost worthless, an argument strong refuted by the EU”, reports the EU Observer website.

Clip of the Day

Andrew Tanenbaum @ FOSDEM 2010: MINIX 3: a Modular, Self-Healing POSIX-compatible Operating System

Credit: TinyOgg

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