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Links 24/10/2010: Fedora is Fast, Compiz 0.9.2

Posted in News Roundup at 9:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • The proliferation of open source software

    Infrastructure and Communications Minister Austin Gatt launched what he called a Vision document yesterday, addressing open source software in government. “We would like to receive feedback from the public and private sectors, as well as citizens on this document which is up for consultation,” he said.

    The government’s position with respect to open source software is different from the position adopted for open standards, where they required that government procures ICT solutions that comply with open standards.

  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle

    • A response to microsoft’s a few perspectives on openoffice.org

      Of course there will always be the spin doctors at Microsoft that are able to make people think that they emanate some sort of heavenly glow. But most techies actually know better then that. If you don’t believe me just notice that in the you tube video they had to turn comments off. Also notice that the video has 236 likes and 2,439 dislikes. Hmm that’s what we call backlash people because guess what opensource and Free Software people pay attention. We are not just going to stand by in idle while you just harass us and defame our community. Even if our only defense is to post nasty comments and to dislike your you tube video a million times.

    • Wind of Change

      this e-mail is to inform you that I hereby, effective immediately, fully step back from all my roles and duties within the OpenOffice.org project, including those as marketing project lead and German marketing contact.

    • Christoph Noack: Resignation from the Community Council
  • CMS

    • Drupal 7.0 Beta 2 released

      Our last Drupal 7 beta version was released about a month ago. Today, we’re proud to announce the release of the second (and possibly final!) beta version of Drupal 7.x for your further testing and feedback. The first alpha announcement provided a comprehensive list of improvements made since Drupal 6.x, so in this announcement we’ll concentrate on how you can help ensure that Drupal 7 is released as soon as possible and is as rock solid as the previous Drupal releases that you’ve grown to love!

    • Contributing to Open Source 101 with Diaspora

      The Ruby and Rails ecosystems are built on open source, and on contributions to projects from people like you. Contributing back to the projects you use is good for your resume, your network, and is ultimately what keeps us employed!

      But figuring out where to start can be daunting, so at this meetup we’ll take you through the complete process. We’ll start with finding a project you’re interested in, then walk you through the mechanics of making changes and contributing them back. By the end of the workshop you’ll be an official open source contributor.

      We’ll be using Diaspora, an open-source alternative to facebook, as our project. Several of the Diaspora core team will be around to assist, and to merge your changes back in to the main codebase…as you watch. It’ll definitely be better than Cats.


    • Google’s Go Has Been Called To Go Into GCC 4.6

      Last year one of the many projects introduced by Google was the Go programming language. Do you remember? It’s reached a state of being a production-ready language, at least within Google’s confines, but this project hasn’t received as much attention and interest by the Linux and open-source communities as some of their other work such as VP8 and their new container format. It’s possible that this could change once the Go programming language is accessible to more developers, which may very well come with GCC 4.6.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Data

      • If you care about public sector information in Europe – speak up now!

        The European Public Sector Information (PSI) Directive is intended to make it easier for everyone to find and reuse information produced by public bodies. The European Commission’s recognition of the value of PSI dates back to at least the late 1990s, well before the more recent wave of interest in open government data. The EC is currently asking for feedback on what could be done to improve the Directive, so if you care about PSI in Europe now is your chance to have your say!

      • Transparency must extend to Britain’s “public, private” state

        The spending review, announced this week, promises £81 billion worth of cuts over the next four years. Whilst services face the deepest cutbacks in generations, billions of pounds a year will still need to be found to finance our PFi commitments. Amidst all the talk from government ministers of “efficiency” savings, there has been almost no mention of PFI and its legacy on the public purse.

    • Open Hardware

      • Hackvision, an open-source video game system

        MAKE subscriber James wrote in to share the Hackvision, an open-source video game system based around the Arduino platform. The joypad-shaped circuit board plugs directly into your TV, and provides everything you need to get hacking on your own games. The whole project is open source, and all the source code/schematics/board designs are available at the project website.

  • Programming

    • Perl and Parrot Spread Open Source Love

      The Perl Foundation and the Parrot Foundation took part in Google Summer of Code this year, and as the organization administrator, I am very proud of and humbled by all the students and mentors that I worked with. I am constantly reminded that there are very intelligent developers who are very young, and the Perl and Parrot Foundations are very lucky to attract them and have them in our communities. I firmly believe that the passing Google Summer of Code 2010 projects have had a large positive impact on our codebases and many people will benefit from them for years to come.


  • Science

    • Discovery of taste receptors in the lungs could help people with asthma breathe easier

      This is a slide of lung taste receptors through a microscope. Red bands are receptors, blue dots are nuclei. Credit: University of Maryland School of Medicine

      Taste receptors in the lungs? Researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore have discovered that bitter taste receptors are not just located in the mouth but also in human lungs. What they learned about the role of the receptors could revolutionize the treatment of asthma and other obstructive lung diseases.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Georgia at a crossroads: after the post-war

      When Russian troops gradually withdrew from Georgia’s towns and villages in September 2008 following the short war between Georgia and Russia the previous month over the enclave of South Ossetia, attention turned to the potential consequences of the war for the career of Georgia’s unpredictable president Mikheil Saakashvili. Many analysts believed that after what proved to be a humiliating military conflict was over, the Georgia’s people would turn against Saakashvili and drive him from power.

    • China blocks UN report on the use of Chinese arms in Darfur

      The Chinese government has attempted to block a United Nations report which claims that Chinese bullets were used in attacks on UN peacekeepers in Darfur. A spokesman from the Chinese foreign ministry, Ma Zhaoxu, said the report was “based on unconfirmed information and made irresponsible accusations.” The report, researched and written by the UN’s panel of experts on Sudan was discussed in the UN committee that monitors sanctions on Sudan on Wednesday.

    • Accused G20 ringleader arrested again

      Alex Hundert, an accused G20 violence ringleader, has been arrested — again.

      This is the third time the 30-year-old activist has been arrested in the past five months. The Crown has been appealing to have his bail revoked.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Ministers plan huge sell-off of Britain’s forests

      Caroline Spelman, the Environment Secretary, is expected to announce plans within days to dispose of about half of the 748,000 hectares of woodland overseen by the Forestry Commission by 2020.

      The controversial decision will pave the way for a huge expansion in the number of Center Parcs-style holiday villages, golf courses, adventure sites and commercial logging operations throughout Britain as land is sold to private companies.

    • Forests sell-off plan by government is ‘asset-stripping our natural heritage’

      Many of England’s best-loved forests and woodlands may be sold to large landowners, housing developers and international power companies in what could be the UK’s greatest change of land ownership since the second world war.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright Infringement Is Not Theft

        Theft implies loss; and for loss to occur (whatever the circumstances) there has to be a change in stasis from “having” something to “not having” it. Copying something creates an identical duplicate of something, it does not change the stasis of the original. So let’s work through possible angles to explain “loss”.

        Lost stock? “Copyright infringement is stealing, it’s no different from leaving a store with a physical piece of stock that you haven’t paid for.” Wrong, if you have 10 items of stock and 2 are shoplifted, you’re left with 8 items of stock. This is theft. You’ve lost stock. Instead of being able to sell 10 items, you can now only sell 8. That stock cost you £X per item, you’ve lost £X x 2.

      • Memo: re P2P

        The dramatic appearance of the WikiLeaks Iraq war log documents is about far more than the catastrophic (for the US military) release online of classified material.

        It underscores the new reality that the Powers That Used To Be have lost their ability to tightly control the spread of news and information.

      • It’s All (Hopefully) Coming Back To Me Now

        Now comes news that the family of late country singer Keith Whitley is doing the same. The suit filed by Whitley’s widow and children against Sony Music Entertainment alleges that SME failed to pay certain bonus royalties when Whitley’s album reached various sales thresholds. The suit also claims that SME failed to pay the increased royalty rate for downloads that allegedly should have been considered licensed transactions.

      • The music industry’s new business model

        Something strange has happened to pop music since I began reviewing it in the late 1990s. In the past, how you listened to music played second fiddle to what it sounded like. Only finger-sniffing audiophiles cared whether you listened to Nirvana’s Nevermind in 1991 on vinyl, cassette or CD. To everyone else the point was the album itself.

        No longer. Nowadays the format of music, the way it’s sold or listened to, overshadows everything else. MP3 players, internet streaming services, MySpace, mobile phones: music is everywhere. Good news for listeners but perplexing for record companies, who are seeing revenues from recorded music dry up as the old ways of doing business crumble.

      • Business Spectator and Creative Commons

        We’re proud and pleased to let you know that from today, February 16th, 2010, we’re rolling out Creative Commons licenses on some of our proprietary content.

      • ACTA

Clip of the Day

Slackware 13.1 Installation

Credit: TinyOgg

IRC Proceedings: October 24th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 8:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz




#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

Enter the IRC channels now

TechBytes to Launch in November

Posted in Site News at 8:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: TechBytes is a new audiocast we’ll start running shortly

HAVING arranged a sort of partnership between OpenBytes and Techrights we are proud to announce TechBytes (yes, it’s a combination or fusion of names). What is it? It’s a podcast, but we call it audiocast because “pod” is falsely associated with Apple.

Start date: November 2010

Recurrence: Weekly (hopefully, depending on our daytime jobs)

Slogan: “No episode number, this isn’t a soap opera”

On the show we plan to bring many people, including regulars of OpenBytes and Techrights. We have already arranged and resolved some of the technical issues, addressed some needs, and we received permission for use of a theme song. The show will be available in free formats such as Ogg (maybe more later).

This ought to be a lot of fun and help put a friendly face on folks who are sometimes wrongly perceived as angry and rantsy because text-only communication (words alone) leaves out most of one’s message. If any of our regular contributors or readers wishes to join, let us know in IRC or in the comments section below. It is supposed to be an open forum and we want to have as many guests as possible.

Links 24/10/2010: Xorg-server 1.9.1 is Out, Will Canonical Sue Apple?

Posted in News Roundup at 1:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Power Users

    The presence or absence of “power users” should be no barrier to general adoption of GNU/Linux. The same advantages seen on the server can be obtained on fast and reliable desktops running GNU/Linux: security, efficiency, uptime, lower cost etc.

  • Three Acres and a Penguin: Why Distributists Should Try Linux

    Have you heard of Linux? Maybe you went to download Firefox (a free web browser), clicked around, and noticed that after “Windows” and “Mac” there was “Linux”, with a little penguin. (His name is Tux.) Maybe you’re periodically forced to interact with your IT department, and you’ve overheard “Linux” as they discuss their arcane secrets. Maybe you’re way ahead of me, and are irritated because I’m probably not going to mention OpenBSD.

    Or maybe you have no clue what I’m talking about. What is Linux? Basically, Linux is a pile of programs that lets you take your computer, strip it down to the bare hardware, and start fresh. Linux is an alternative operating system . If you just download Firefox, you’re still in Microsoft Windows or OS X. When you download Linux, you’re in Linux.


    This also should excite distributists. Free software is a unique ecosystem. (I’m going to stop saying “Linux” now; it sounds cooler than “free software,” but it actually has a definite technical meaning, and it isn’t the only free OS in town, either.) A program is not like an apple. If I share my apple with you, we each only get half.

  • Kernel Space

    • RFC: A Preview Of The Phoronix Graphs With Iveland

      Earlier this week I shared part of the vision that Matthew Tippett and I have for OpenBenchmarking.org (the next-generation version of Phoronix Global) and how it will change Linux benchmarking when launched with Phoronix Test Suite 3.0. One of the features of OpenBenchmarking.org / Phoronix Test Suite 3.0 “Iveland” is a major overhaul to the result graphs. Here’s a preview of what’s to come and we welcome your feedback.

    • Graphics Stack

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • Debian Family

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Canonical To Sue Apple?

          It will be interesting to see if Canonical will defend the Launchpad trademark and join the “everybody is suing everybody” club. And if so, will Apple sue back like they always do?

        • Using Karma As A Deterrent

          Wouldn’t it be fun if there was a karma element to court decisions? Based on the principle of “do unto others what you will have others do unto you”. Apple announced a new feature the other day called Launchpad. Launchpad is a registered trademark of Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux.

          As I understand it; being a trademark, they don’t have any choice but to defend it if they want to keep it. So how would the karma element come into play?

          Apple have a track record of just naming their products or services whatever they like, regardless if the name is already in use, or by whom. If it gets down to a court case, it’s always settled and Apple just buy off the complaints. Many of the iNames weren’t Apple’s before Apple decided to use them. They also viciously attack any names even remotely resembling one of their own. A portable scoop for campers to bury their shit while camping was sued for the name iPood, because the name was too similar.

        • Ubuntu-Rescue-Remix is one of ten essential Linux Admin Tools
        • Cloud on Cloud, UEC on EC2

          So you wanted to play with Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC), but didn’t have a couple of machines to play with ? Want to start a UEC instance right now, no problem. You can use an Amazon EC2 server instance as your base server to install and run UEC on! Of course the EC2 instance is itself a virtual machine, thus running a VM inside that would require nested virtualization which AFAIK wouldn’t work over EC2. The trick here is that we switch UEC’s hypervisor temporarily to be qemu. Of course this won’t win any performance competitions, in fact it’d be quite slow in production, but for playing, it fits the bill just fine.

        • UDS-N Call for participation

          The Ubuntu Developer Summit (UDS) is the event in which the Ubuntu community discusses and plans the upcoming Ubuntu release. UDS Natty begins Monday, October 25th (this monday) outside of Orlando, FL, USA. If you’re in the Orlando area, this event is free, and open to anyone.

        • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Gingerbread man signals pending announcement of Android 2.3

          It’s that time again. Another giant treat arrived at the Googleplex today, which means a new version of Android is just around the corner. A video was just uploaded to the Android Developers YouTube account which shows a giant Gingerbread man joining his friends FroYo, Eclair, Donut, and Cupcake.

          As it was pointed out today, Gingerbread will likely become Android 2.3 and Honeycomb is expected to become Android 3.0 when it hits tablets next year. If history repeats itself we could have an official announcement on Android 2.3 features sometime next week. The FroYo statue appeared just one week before Google I/O where Android 2.2 was unveiled.

        • What to Expect from Internet-Enabled Televisions

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Web Browser Supports Time Travel

        For those who use the Mozilla Firefox browser, you now have the option to time travel through the web. MementoFox is a free extension that users can add-on to their browsers.

  • Oracle

    • End of File

      In 1997, I decided to come join the kernel team at Sun Microsystems because I was eager to work on Solaris– the best operating system on the planet. I was very privileged to work on some incredible technology over many years with some of the most talented engineers in the industry. Our work culminated in Solaris 10, the most innovative release of Solaris ever to that point, and what I think will be remembered for all time as a huge leap in operating system technology and the idea of what an OS can do.


      I am resigning because my effort on behalf of my team to bring ZFS Storage to maturity and to success and a strong position at its new company in a real storage org is now done: we made it. From outside, as a fan, I will be waiting eagerly to see what the team will accomplish next.

    • Calif. Judge Certifies Class of Oracle Employees in Wage-and-Hour Suit

      An Alameda County, Calif., judge late last week certified a class of an estimated 3,000 Oracle Corp. employees who allege that they were misclassified as exempt and deprived of overtime pay.

    • Dear Oracle, Get a Clue
    • SAP asks for gag order in legal battle with Oracle

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Data

      • Windsor and Maidenhead publishes linked spending data online

        The Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead has staked a claim as the first local authority in the UK to publish open and linked data, in support of financial transparency.

        In April, local councils were asked by the Department of Communites and Local Government to reveal details of supplier spending over £500, and then have this same information published to the internet by January 2011. It is a requirement for all local councils to publish details of their spending in an open, CSV file format on a monthly basis from January next year.

  • ODF

    • KLISS: Author/edit sub-systems in legislative environments

      ODT was chosen as it presented the best trade off when all the competing requirements of an author/edit subsystem for legislatures were analyzed. A discussion of the issues on the table when this selection was made are listed here. To that list I would also add that ODT is, to my knowledge, without IP encumberments. Also, the interplay between content and presentation is so important in this domain that it is vital to have free and unfettered access to the rendering algorithms in order to feel fully in possession of the semantics of the documents. I’m not saying that a large corpus of C++ is readily understandable at a deep level but I take great comfort in knowing that I can, in principle, know everything there is to know about how my system has rendered the law by inspecting the rendering algorithms in OpenOffice.

      Next up, long term preservation and authentication of legal materials in KLISS.

    • Here there be Dragons

      Microsoft Write developed into Word and became the world’s most-used word processor. Those that chose a different one could always open and save documents in the almost universal doc format. Most now use ODF, a free-to-use, universal standard devised to guarantee long-term access to data without legal or technical barriers. The data storage is far more sophisticated than earlier formats and the resulting files automatically ZIP compressed. Of course, Microsoft bludgeoned a new ‘standard’ into existence, their semi-proprietary Open XML or docx format.

      My colleagues can be reasonably sure they can open any document made in just about any version of Word currently running, including ODF files. Except that is their new ’standard’ the dreaded docx. Installing their free converters (how many times have I had to do that?) doesn’t necessarily mean the converted docx will look remotely like the original Unlike documents saved as RTF or ODF.


  • Fallacy Debunking: Successful New Business Model Examples Are The ‘Exception’

    I’ve been meaning to start to put together a series of posts that debunk the common “criticisms” we get that are all too often based on logical fallacies. I end up spending way too much time in the comments responding to people posting those same logical fallacies over and over again, and it would be nice to be able to point to posts that “answer” the complaints quickly. I’m still not sure if I’ll ever really get around to it, but sometimes someone else does such a nice job of it, that I might as well highlight it with a post here.

  • Science

    • Scientists: Usable Water Found in Moon Crater

      There’s more water on the moon than on certain places on Earth.

      That’s the conclusion of many scientists who have spent the past year analyzing data from NASA’s LCROSS spacecraft, the Lunar Crater Observation and Sensing Satellite, which was intentionally crashed into the south polar region of the moon.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • The New York Times Torture Euphemism Generator!

      Reading the NYT’s stories about the Iraq War logs, I was struck by how it could get through such gruesome descriptions — fingers chopped off, chemicals splashed on prisoners — without using the word ‘torture.’ For some reason the word is unavailable when it is literally meaningful, yet is readily tossed around for laughs in contexts where it means nothing at all. It turns out the NYT has a reputation for studiously avoiding the word, to the point of using bizarre bureaucratic alternatives.

    • Why hasn’t the US government crushed Wikileaks? Why hasn’t the US crushed Wikileaks?

      So, Wikileaks has done it again. The largest military data leak in history has revealed grisly truths about the Iraq war that the US and Iraqi governments would surely prefer had never been widely known.

      It was clear that some serious evidence against the US was coming when almost a week ago The Pentagon urged news organisations not to publish the data. As news organisations around the world that had been analysing the war records for weeks released their reports a few hours ago, the US government condemned Wikileaks, saying they “Threatened national security”.

    • US Court Bans Use of Encryption

      On the question of encryption for email, it goes back to the phrase: “shall not use a computer that contains”. It seems to me he can have his email encrypted unknowingly (e.g. as part of a service). More to the point the court should have been more clear with their term “use”. They could have qualified it with terms like “inappropriate”, “malicious”, “harmful”, etc. but instead their terms seem overly broad in leaving it open to ANY and ALL forms of use.

  • Finance

    • Vodafone given $2.5bn Indian tax bill deadline

      Indian tax authorities have given Vodafone 30 days to pay a 112bn rupee ($2.5bn, £1.6bn) tax bill, as part of an ongoing tax dispute.

      The formal demand relates to the mobile phone company’s 2007 purchase of the Indian telephone assets of Hong Kong conglomerate Hutchison Whampoa.

    • Health Insurance Scam Alleged in California

      The HealthMarkets group of insurance companies uses deceptive and illegal methods to sell “junk insurance,” hiding their policies’ many “exclusions and limitations” behind jargon and double-talk, leaving sick policyholders without coverage, the Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office says. Prosecutors say co-defendants the Blackstone Group and Goldman Sachs bought the companies knowing that they “sell junk insurance products by whatever means it took.”

    • In Clearing Bayou, Quagmire for Goldman

      “Did Sam Israel come to the dinner? Has Bayou ramped it up yet?” asked a top Goldman Sachs executive in a 2004 e-mail.

      The executive, Duncan L. Niederauer, now head of the New York Stock Exchange, was writing to make sure that Goldman would keep the business of Samuel Israel III, whose hedge fund, the Bayou Group, was paying the firm often millions of dollars in fees a year to clear its trades.

      The next year, Bayou collapsed amid fraud investigations. Mr. Israel would later be convicted of defrauding investors of hundreds of millions of dollars and was sentenced to 22 years in prison.

      Bayou’s unsecured creditors filed an arbitration contending that Goldman knew for several years that the Connecticut hedge fund was hemorrhaging money even when it was claiming impressive returns.

      Now, newly unsealed court documents — including Goldman e-mail and internal reports — portray a firm that at times seemed to turn a blind eye to its own internal concerns about Bayou as it raked in fees from the hedge fund.

      During the arbitration, Goldman denied allegations it had ignored signs of wrongdoing. “We have asked the court to review the arbitration panel’s decision and believe it is inappropriate to comment.”

      Through a spokesman, Mr. Niederauer declined to comment.

    • Open Letter To The SEC’s Worthless Enforcement Division

      I have a question. Why does the SEC allow high frequency traders/co-location traders/etc., to front run retail orders every day in almost every security? When I say front run, I mean the practice of utilizing sub-penny orders whereby these so called traders step in front of real bids and offers by 1/100th of a penny to get the trade done, knowing there’s a bid or offer right behind them. This has happened to me at least fifty times in the last year. It is particularly a problem on illiquid issues in which the sub-penny order that front runs my orders may be the only business done at that level. And so my order just sits there and never gets filled.

    • Regulators shut down 7 banks

      Bank regulators closed seven banks Friday, bringing the total of number of bank failures for the year to 139, the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation said.

      Friday marked the largest number of banks closed since July 23, when the FDIC also closed seven banks, according to the FDIC’s website.

      The closed banks are the First Arizona Savings in Scottsdale, Arizona; First Bank of Jacksonville, Jacksonville, Florida; The First National Bank of Barnesville, in Barnesville, Georgia; First Suburban National Bank in Maywood, Illinois; The Gordon Bank in Gordon, Georgia; Hillcrest Bank in Overland Park, Kansas; and Progress Bank of Florida in Tampa, Florida.

    • Proposed S.3898 Amendment to the Electronic Fund Transfer Act Would Shift Risk of Loss to Banks

      Just a step below widows and orphans on the sympathy scale, at least when it comes to ripoffs and theft, sit school districts, boards and local municipalities. And in a era of tight budgets, when school districts are robbed of tax monies from halfway around the world via ACH/wire fraud, state and federal politicians take notice. After the Duanesburg Central School District in upstate New York, a district with 1,000 students and an annual budget of approximately $15 million, suffered a brazen cybertheft of $3 million in December 2009, which eventually left the school district potentially on the hook for over $400K of un-recovered funds (details about the Duanesburg cybertheft here and here and here), the District approached State officials on the issue (here) and then federal representatives, including Senator Schumer.

    • Foreclosure Fraud For Dummies, 2: What is a Note, and Why is it So Important?

      The SEIU has a campaign: Where’s the Note? Demand to see your mortgage note. It’s worth checking out. But first, what is this note? And why would its existence be important to struggling homeowners, homeowners in foreclosure, and investors in mortgage backed securities?

    • Washington Firms Prepare for Boom in Foreclosure Work

      Washington law firms are seeing an uptick in work thanks to the recent furor over mortgage companies’ foreclosure practices. And they’re not expecting it to drop off anytime soon.

      To keep up with demand, K&L Gates has launched a U.S. foreclosure task force designed to aid clients in addressing questions related to potential lawsuits, hearings and foreclosure moratoriums.

    • Niche Lawyers Spawned Housing Fracas

      The paperwork mess muddying home foreclosures erupted last month. But the legal strategy behind it traces to a lawyer’s gambit in 2006 that has helped keep one couple in their home six years beyond their last mortgage payment.

    • Big Problem for Banks: Due Process

      Earlier this week, Bank of America, the nation’s largest consumer bank, reported its third-quarter earnings. It was a very good quarter; putting aside an accounting charge — a very large, $10.4 billion accounting charge, admittedly — the bank reported $3.1 billion in profits. It was the third consecutive quarter that Bank of America had earned more than $3 billion.


      The prospect of a second legal assault is more recent. Shortly before the earnings call, Bank of America received a letter from a lawyer representing eight powerful institutional investors, including BlackRock, Pimco and — most amazing of all — the New York Federal Reserve. The letter was a not-so-veiled threat to sue the bank unless it agrees to buy back billions of dollars worth of loans that are in securitized mortgage bonds the investors own.

      Mainly, they are saying that Bank of America was servicing loans in these bonds that the bank knew violated the underwriting standards that the investors had been led to believe the bank was conforming to. What’s more, they said, the bank had never come clean about all the bad loans, as it was required to do. Therefore, say the investors, the bank has a contractual obligation to buy back the bad loans.

    • Homeowners Win Fights Over Mistaken Foreclosures

      Magaly Cervantes and Julio Bermudez started this week in tears. But they ended the week in celebration.

      I met the couple on Tuesday when I visited the Dade County Courthouse to observe the foreclosure court proceedings. The court heard dozens of of cases that day, but Ms. Cervantes stood out immediately: Her eyes were red and puffy from several days of crying.

    • In Goldman, Sachs We Trust \

      One method of increasing the number of stocks, relatively new in the U.S., was the creation of the investment trust. Such companies did not really produce anything or foster new enterprises; instead, they “merely arranged that people could own stock in old companies through the medium of new ones”; that is, the trust’s sole purpose was to invest its funds in the stocks of other companies. The problem, however, was that there was often no relation to the amount of money invested in the trust to the amount of money the trust invested, in turn, in stocks. “The difference,” Galbraith writes, “went into the call market, real estate, or the pockets of the promoters.”

      The investment trusts succeeded largely because the “product” they sold to the average trader was expertise: “One might make money investing directly in Radio, J. I. Case, or Montgomery Ward, but how much safer and wiser to let it be accomplished by the men of peculiar knowledge, and wisdom.” And the trusts were not really new companies; instead, most of them were sponsored by existing companies—for example, J.P. Morgan was behind the investment trust United Corporation. Furthermore, it almost goes without saying, investment trusts would sponsor investment trusts that would, in turn sponsor investment trusts; each of these companies issuing stocks that they would often sell to each other or to other investment trusts. Many of these companies learned quickly that through the “the miracle of leverage” (the degree to which borrowed money is used), they could “swing a second and larger [trust] which enhanced the gains and made possible a third and still bigger trust.”

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Top state court drops mall’s free speech challenge

      The state Supreme Court rejected a shopping mall’s challenge Wednesday to a ruling that allows people at the mall – a pastor, in this case – to approach strangers and talk about subjects other than shopping.

      The court denied review of an appellate decision written by its chief-justice nominee, Tani Cantil-Sakauye, who found the mall’s restrictions violated free-speech rights. Justices Marvin Baxter and Ming Chin voted to hear the case, two short of the majority needed for review.

    • Virginia Thomas’ group backs off on calling healthcare law unconstitutional

      A conservative group founded by Virginia Thomas, the wife of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, removed references to the “unconstitutional” healthcare law from its website on Thursday and blamed staff errors for statements indicating the group believed the law should be struck down.

      “Liberty Central assiduously avoids taking a position on the constitutionality of this, and other issues, and will continue to do so in the future,” said Sarah Field, the group’s chief operating officer.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Debt collectors may join antipiracy fight

        First it was the lawyers. Then it was the politicians. Now debt collectors may be coming after people accused of film piracy, even before they have their day in court.

      • ACS:Law Still Sending Out Letters, Recipients Not Giving In

        On September 24, 2010, at approximately 10 AM EST, the root directory of the ACS:Law website was exposed. Among the files publicly available was a backup of the site, which was subsequently downloaded by hundreds of curious visitors. Within this backup file was an email database of ACS:Law, containing months worth of all kinds of correspondence between ACS:Law and suspected file-sharers, ISPs, interoffice memos, and personal emails. It has proven to be a treasure-trove of information, providing valuable intelligence on just how weak the copyright trolling business is.

      • ACTA

        • Is the US going to get a free pass in ACTA?

          In the Plenary debate on ACTA on October 20, 2010, the Commission repeated “ACTA will not change the EU acquis”. One day later, the Swedish minister of Justice said ACTA will require changes in Swedish law, increasing the powers of the police to act on its own initiative to enforce intellectual property rights.

          So how can this be true? First you say no changes in EU law, then law in Europe changes??? Well, the EU acquis is not the same as Swedish law, EU directives must be passed by the Swedish Parliament. So the Commission gets away with the “don’t worry”-promises over here in Europe.

Clip of the Day

Linux tutorial. Installing a .deb application on a Slackware based system example Yuuguu.

Credit: TinyOgg

Research Focus

Posted in Site News at 7:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Heart image

AS I stated earlier this month, less time will be available for me to blog in Techrights because of my research (the daytime job, studying the heart). With trips to acquire MR datasets at the hospital and some programming without distraction I hope to still maintain a pace of about 10 posts per day. The good news is that a Techrights audiocast appears to be coming. Thanks to advice from readers of this site we have found a technical solution for arranging multi-channel recording. We hope to have guests on and to also collaborate with OpenBytes, which got us a theme song with permission from the artist himself.

Zynga Deserves to Lose Its Funding for Attempting to Exclude Competition Using Software Patents

Posted in Patents at 3:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Troll in lair

Summary: News about Zynga’s new patent application raises questions because the company’s funding sources oppose and sometimes actively work against this type of counter-productive monopolies

THIS new piece by Mike Masnick does an excellent job showing the ridiculous software patent monopoly which Zynga is trying to obtain and then connecting it to the funding sources of Zynga, who may be disturbed to learn this:

Back in September, SF Weekly put out an article pointing out that super popular Facebook gamemaker Zynga’s strategy has been to copy anyone else’s popular game, change the name, market the hell out of it and take over the market. The company has been famous for its somewhat underhanded tactics over the years. That said, I don’t think there’s anything wrong with copying what’s been successful (within the law, obviously) and trying to improve the overall experience. Where things get questionable is when it seeks to stop others from doing the same thing. We’ve noted in the past that Zynga has tried using copyright and trademark law to block others from the market, which is pretty sleazy given its own style of creating games.


Now, this is only a patent application, so one can hope that the USPTO comes to its senses and rejects it (though, it’s been approving a lot more lately). However, it’s still a pretty questionable move — especially given that two of Zynga’s investors, Brad Feld and Fred Wilson, are some of the most vocal anti-software patent advocates out there. It would be a shame if their money is being used to create more bad patents.

The FFII’s president writes:

Zynga is trying to patent electronic currency, investors are Brad Feld and Fred Wilson, anti-swpat advocates

Are they aware of it? How about Feld, who recently fought to remove software patenting from the USPTO [1, 2]?

There is other news right now about gambling software patents (Ladbrokes should not be allowed software patents in the UK) and another patent on software which may be crucial for saving lives:

India is riding high on the clinical market side while Optra exists in the pre-clinical space and majority of its deliverables account for overseas locations. Optra currently has seven patents filed and pending mostly in the cancer diagnostics area. “One of the important patents we have is content based image retrieval. Our motive is to create a niche in terms of individual value by creating more IPs,” Abhijeet added.

Sharing saves lives, it’s not “IP” which does this. “Content based image retrieval” sure sounds like a software patent. Does India allow these at all? It does not in principle.

ACCESS Co. (Source of Mobbyism and Attacks on the Free Software Foundation) Linked to Acacia

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 3:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Forest troll

Summary: Acacia turns out to have been the party behind ACCESS patents which had Microsoft pay Acacia just shortly after its patent lawsuits against Linux

THE UNIQUE patent troll known as Acacia (Microsoft passes Acacia some money and staff on occasions) has just published this press release with details about its revenue. Acacia has sued Linux for about 3 years now and there was recently a Red Hat settlement [1, 2] to be celebrated by the mobbyists who openly attack Red Hat and promote software patents. Not so long ago we also saw Microsoft paying Acacia more money [1, 2]. What we did not know at the time is that Acacia took the Palmsource/ACCESS patents from ACCESS, so maybe The Register was not entirely wrong after all (we thought it was way off target, based on the press release).

According to this new article from Law.com, Acacia had a relationship with ACCESS (which employed bullies who harmed GNU/Linux) and Microsoft just handed them money.

Only three years ago it looked as if Acacia Research, the largest publicly traded patent-holding company, was no hot prospect for investors, even as its litigation-heavy style of patent enforcement—sometimes derided as “patent trolling”—was being embraced by legions of newcomers to the patent business.

At that point, the company had just tried its first infringement case in front of a jury, suffering a rare defense win as a panel of East Texas citizens invalidated the Acadia patent being asserted. (In 2007, defense wins in East Texas were still a rare occurence.)

This week, though, Acacia is flying high, releasing new financial-performance figures that suggest the company isn’t headed for the dustbin of history anytime soon. After not having been profitable since it went public in 2002, Acacia crossed that barrier earlier this year. Now, its just-published results for the third quarter of 2010 prove two things—first, pure patent enforcement can be a moneymaking business for investors as well as for lawyers—and second, that business can scale up into something big.


One key to Acacia’s newfound success, which far surpassed Wall Street analysts’ expectations: licensing large corporate patent portfolios. Most recently, Acacia took charge of a large portfolio owned by Japanese software company Access Co. Ltd. The portfolio includes patents that originated at Bell Labs, as well as patents acquired by Access when it purchased Palmsource, a Palm Inc. spinoff, in 2005.

The biggest driver behind Acacia’s third quarter windfall was when it licensed that Access portfolio to Microsoft—a huge licensing deal that didn’t even require the filing of a lawsuit. (The sum is confidential, but an analyst with Craig Hallum Capital Group estimates that the deal involved Microsoft paying around $37 million.)

$37 million is a lot of money, no doubt. It sure covers the expenses of the lawsuits against Red Hat, for example, easily in fact.

To summarise, it was Acacia which used the ACCESS patent portfolio to get paid by Microsoft, which also has some former employees in Acacia. This patent troll is legally/litigiously attacking Linux. Not a nice company to be in. Follow the money.

Evidence That Apple May be Behind GNU/Linux in the Desktop Market (Internationally)

Posted in Apple, Deception, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Vista 7, Windows at 2:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ballmer's slide on Macs and GNU/Linux
Steve Ballmer’s presentation slide
from 2009 shows GNU/Linux as bigger than Apple on the desktop

Summary: The company of gadgets and supposedly shiny things does not perform as well as US market surveys (which Apple helps fund) would have one believe

ONCE in a few months we remind people that Apple is too small a player on the desktop and hardly a threat to GNU/Linux. Apple's minuscule market share outside the United States and other Western nations (where Apple is also a niche but at least an existing one) ensures that GNU/Linux remains a very relevant platform on the desktop.

Those who pay attention only to Western surveys will certainly get a distorted picture. Net Applications is partly funded by Apple, as we noted in our previous posts about market share. It is therefore unsurprising that Net Applications makes Apple look good. Money can change everything.

Based on technical criteria, Apple is still catching up with GNU/Linux in some areas including package management. To quote a new post titled “The Lion has Lost the Magic”:

While this is a good idea, it is far from being a new idea. Even if you ignore the fact that our mobile computers have had application stores for years, Linux was the first to create a centralized, graphical application for easily installing software on your computer with a single click. Beyond simple applications such as gnome-app-install, the Ubuntu Software Center was released over a year ago

There are other areas where GNU/Linux is technically ahead of Apple; marketing is no such area.

Interestingly enough, Robert Pogson shares additional details (with numbers) that may indicate good share for GNU/Linux relative to Mac OS X and maybe to Windows too:

  • 3.89 million Macs

    That’s all Apple managed to sell in a recent quarter while the world sold 88 million PCs. That’s 4%, folks, Rather modest compared to the 7% of W3Schools hits and the 5% of NetApplications. This makes me think GNU/Linux has a much larger share than NetApplications shows or that other OS is a lot less than they show.


    So, Apple can crow about its wonderful recent quarter but GNU/Linux has overtaken them in PCs and smartphones. It’s time GNU/Linux crowed a bit.

  • 110 Million non-”7″ PCs

    M$ is boasting of selling 240 million licences for “7″ in the last year. 350 million PCs have been produced in the last year.

Needless to say, Microsoft’s numbers are pure PR lies for reasons we explained before. Technically it may be right that Microsoft issues this number of keys, but this does not correspond to the number of PCs actually running Vista 7. Sometimes Microsoft just allocates unused keys to businesses and sometimes there are loads of new XP machines that get classified as “Windows 7″ for reasons of convenience. Microsoft may have mastered the art of deception and any publication that prints those claims without scrutiny is simply not doing its job.

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