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IRC Proceedings: November 8th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 8:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz




#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

Enter the IRC channels now

Commentary: StatCounter ‘Global’ Statistics

Posted in GNU/Linux at 8:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

StatCounter bias

Summary: How StatCounter turns 4-5% of the world’s population into 25% and reduces the world’s largest Internet population (China) to just 2.46%, then claims to be measuring global market share (other surveys do the same thing)

AL submits: “Thank you for all your hard work in bringing us news through Techrights. I am reading it daily and find lots of interesting information.

“I read one of the comments from Mad Hatter in which he was talking about Wikipedia article on OS market share. I went to check it out and found that they use 1% for Linux (globally) based on the research by StatCounter Global. I was interested to see how this group is gathering their statistical data. If you go to their FAQ section they talk about sample size per country/region and there is a link to the full list of all countries. As they stated themselves their pool is 16,3 bln hits. Quite large I would say. But there is something interesting – the biggest group (region) is United States with 3,965,972,279 hits. That is almost 25% of the total pool. Now, my days of statistical studies are long gone but I still remember that in order to have accurate result you cannot over-represent one group. The result will be obviously skewed. We have one country that contributes almost 25% to the result compared to the rest of the world. As StatCounter states that they choose randomly that makes it very likely that lots of data on hits would be taken from USA. You know, for example, how much is the share of hits from China? 2,46%! In fact, looking at the whole list you can see that starting from Korea and further down the share is less than 1%! That includes countries like Poland, Greece, Japan, Russia, Switzerland etc.

“The result will be obviously skewed. We have one country that contributes almost 25% to the result compared to the rest of the world.”
“I know some can say that there are many more computers sold in USA than in other countries (can’t be true). But market share is more complex. If we have 95% (example) Linux presence on desktops in China, they would hardly make any influence with representation of only 2,46% on the StatCounter data. Do you see what I mean? There are of course many more problems with that. What kind of websites StatCounter is using to get hits? If we put hit counter on the website with Silverlight I don’t think we will get many hits from Linux OS desktops, right? And even if the websites are getting hits from same amount of Linux OS and other OS desktops what will happen? StatCounter will randomly select hits from global pool and as data from USA will be more likely to get selected it will greatly skew the result and linux will always get under-represented. Lets say you have two crates: one with 10 pears and one with 250 tomatoes + 150 pears and you draw five times. However 3 times from first crate and 2 times from the second. You will have selected more pears than tomatoes. Even though there are 250 tomatoes and 150+10=160 pears. Is this reliable representation?”

Commentary: In Romania, the Government Serves Just Windows Users

Posted in Europe, Finance, Windows at 7:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Corvins castle in Transylvania

Summary: How the Romanian Tax Authority fails to serve people who are not already customers of Microsoft, a monopoly-abusing foreign proprietary software vendor

THE FSFE RECENTLY launched a wonderful new campaign regarding “PDFreaders”. The FSFE insists that publicly-run sites (i.e. public sector) should not advertise proprietary software from Adobe and instead emphasise open formats and maybe recommend a wide range of free/libre software that can handle the formats. This way — it is hoped at least — governments will eventually cease to require that people acquire or ‘hire’ (download for instance) proprietary software just for the purpose of interacting with the government — the one single government citizens pay for. One of our readers has reported what he called “other “bugs” from Romania”.

“Today,” he wrote, “in my company, I’ve received Romanian Tax Authority’s (ANAF’s) technical documentation about how to sign fiscal declarations using an electronic signature (digital certificate).

“There are only 3 private firms authorised by ANAF to issue digital certificates in Romania, so every Romanian accountant *must* use one of these.

“According to the provided documentation, the certificates work in Internet Explorer and in Netscape Navigator (????!), but the attached software, e-Token (from Alladin Software) is for *Windows* only.

“Please see some screenshots in following PDFs [PDF]. Also, we have an official procedure for how to verify the certificate’s validity using *Adobe* Reader 5.1 (???!) [PDF] and another for using the certificate in Mozilla Thunderbird 3.0.1 for *Windows* , *Microsoft* Outlook and *Microsoft* Office (files for Mozilla Thunderbird 3.0.1 [PDF], Microsoft Outlook 2007 [PDF], and Microsoft Office 2007 [PDF])

“This is clearly neutral, vendor-independent e-Government for free-as-in freedom taxpayers,” the reader concluded with sarcasm. More posts about Romania can be found below.

TechBytes Episode 3: Games, Wayland, Xfce, Restrictive Application Stores, and Office Suites

Posted in TechBytes at 7:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Direct download as Ogg (1:14:09, 23.8 MB) | Direct download as MP3 (33.9 MB)

Summary: Tim and Roy discuss today’s news about games, graphics cards, and 3-D effects in GNU/Linux; towards the end of the show the discussion is focused on the competition

THIS is the third episode of our show, which now increases in terms of release pace and audience size. The show is neither scripted nor edited, but it strives to cover all the news that matters and delve into discussions which other Web sites seem to avoid. Show notes can usually be found at OpenBytes, which also posted links of relevance.

In a future show we may speak to “wallclimber”, who contributed a lot to Techrights and will hopefully be on TechBytes some time in January. She requires some preparation, which we too will be doing as the show matures. The interference of background noise has been reduced and the flow of the show will hopefully improve over time, even without any rehearsals.

RSS 64x64As always, if you enjoy this show, please consider recommending it to others and consider subscribing to the show via the RSS feed. If you have an Identi.ca account, consider subscribing to TechBytes in order to keep up to date.

As embedded (HTML5):


Ogg Theora
(There is also an MP3 version)

Links 8/11/2010: Compiz in Wayland, Telstra Claimed Violating GPL

Posted in News Roundup at 4:39 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Linux has the best eye-candy!

    No more 2D dekstop computing. Compiz has some very cool effects that you will enjoy and there are many more to come in the future. Check out our screen shots below on how great Linux looks. If you want a desktop operating system just like ours all you have to do is download one of the distributions of GNU/Linux and customize it anyway you want. The only limitation is your own imagination and creativity.

  • Linux, virtualized. The hard way. Twice.

    Every so often, I’ll consider finding some new and creative way to install Gentoo, my Linux distribution of choice. And sometimes, I’ll do it in such a way that it actually doesn’t blow up in my face. I’ve been trying to convince Shane to give it a try, but he hasn’t got an extra machine he can clean out and turn into a test platform. What he did have, though, was an instalation of VMWare and lots of free time on his hands. So it was high past time to shove an OS inside an OS.

  • Helios

    • It Doesn’t Take a Zealot…
    • Getting Linux Into The Right Hands…

      And as a brief aside…that raging argument about Linux not being a drop-in replacement for any other desktop OS?

      Let it die here.

      It’s worked for our kids, and it works for the majority of people who use it. You can nitpick the small details all you want. The fact remains that our kids have been able to successfully use Linux as their Desktop from elementary school up through graduate school.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Last Week in Amarok
      • How simon learned to talk

        Furthermore the best (open) German voices I could find where HTS voices developed with and for the OpenMARY framework. They should theoretically also work with festival so they could be used with Jovie as well if someone wrote a festival configuration set for it. OpenMARY is cross plattform and provides very high quality synthesis but is a very big and heavy Java dependency which needs a lot of resources and is quite slow – even on current hardware (synthesizing a paragraph of text takes around 10 seconds on a Nettop).

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Canonical and Codethink at Bostom GNOME Summit

        Yesterday Cody Russell and I held a session about getting a gesture API into GTK 3.x. There were a great many questions about the uTouch framework, how we’re handling multi-touch in the absence of MT support in X (coming in XInput 2.1), and what sort of dependencies would be needed (none! if GEIS is present on the system, gesture support will be added at build-time). At the end of the session, there was a consensus for Cody to present his plans to the GTK developers list and then to start getting branches reviewed for merge. We’re hoping to make it for GTK 3.2.

    • Xfce

      • Xfce 4.8pre1 Released

        The Xfce development team is proud to announce the first preview release for Xfce 4.8. Together with this preview release, the Xfce project announces the feature freeze for the final 4.8 release which is set to be pushed out to the world on January 16th, 2011.

  • Distributions

    • Linux Distros You Should Try

      Most Linux distros today, come with a trial CD that you can test drive on your system without ever installing Linux in your hard drive.

      Here’s a list of Linux distros that is worth a try.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Ubuntu no longer ships debian/changelog since Natty?

        Since a few days, I have started to notice that the “Debian” changelog that normally ships with packages no longer appears with a number of recent package updates. Is this intentional?

      • 25 Ubuntu tips for beginners
      • Making room on the Debian Edu/Sqeeze DVD

        Prioritising packages for the Debian Edu / Skolelinux DVD, which is supposed provide a school with all the services and user applications needed on the pupils computer network has always been hard. Even schools without Internet connections should be able to get Debian Edu working using this DVD.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Can Mark Shuttleworth Be The Steve Jobs Of Ubuntu?

          What Apple has done with BSD, Mark has done with Debian and GNU/Linux. He has packaged the amazing Debian as a much loved consumer operating system called Ubuntu.

          Under his leadership, Ubuntu has created a unique position among the three most popular operating systems in the world. If I put these three (Ubuntu, Windows and Mac) operating systems side by side, I find Ubuntu, as a standalone OS, to have a clear edge over the other two. No, it’s not a biased opinion if one looks deeper into the technical aspects verifying this fact (we will get into that later).

        • Compiz in a strange new land

          Mark Shuttleworth recently proposed an idea that a lot of people have been pondering for a while. The idea is simple: the linux desktop needs a new windowing system. While I don’t have enough expertise to make a fair judgement as to whether it’s time to move away from X11 and to something like wayland , I certainly think the idea is interesting. Why not? We have nothing to lose by at least sticking our toes in the water so to speak, and I certainly wouldn’t mind a challenge. So yesterday I took the plunge and compiled wayland for myself, just to try it out.

        • Ubuntu 10.10 Review – 2×2, quad monitor

          Finally got 2×2 to work after installing NVidia unsupported (yes, unsupported, comments not needed) drivers. Here is the kicker. When I placed my mouse cursor in the near center, that is center of the 2×2 screens. The mouse would start bouncing around and I would loose all control. Best guess I could make was the different instances of the window manager were not handing off control of mouse correctly. Anyhow, this required a forced shutdown.

        • Flavours and Variants

          • Adventures in Kubuntu: Day one

            I intend to keep using Kubuntu for a while, to give it a fair shot and see if I can adapt to it. Last time I made a change like this, it was from Windows XP to Ubuntu, and it was for a similar reason – because I had heard what was coming with Vista and I wanted to be prepared in case I had to switch. That was a much tougher learning curve, and it yielded excellent benefits. I think I can benefit from this too, now that I have an incentive to stick with it and not go scurrying back to Gnome as soon as something unfamiliar breaks my customary ways of doing things. Maybe it’s time to shake it up a little. I might like it, if I give it a chance.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

    • Tablets

      • Fusion Garage’s JooJoo exclaims – We’re Still Alive

        JooJoo seems to be crawling back to its feet with its latest developments relating to app support and the incorporation of Android; however it must be noted that the company must do more to capture the market like providing complete Android flexibility to its users, run promotional campaigns, etc. There is the declaration from Rathakrishnan that the new JooJoos will be sold in retail and by mobile operators, maybe even subsidized. So good times could just be awaiting the first ever tablet maker.

      • Archos 70 Tablet with Android 2.2 Available Now

        Following the release of their Archos 43 internet tablet yesterday, Archos has just dropped the new 7-inch model in their store. The 8GB Archos 70 tablet runs Android 2.2 and retails for a reasonable $279.99. The tablet a has resolution of 800×480, features a 1GHz processor, TV output, WiFi (802.11 b/g/n), Bluetooth, and USB support.

Free Software/Open Source

  • IBM at Events

    • ApacheCon keynote presentation
    • The MIT Systems Thinking Conference

      I recently participated in MIT’s 2010 Systems Thinking Conference for Contemporary Challenges. This annual conference is sponsored by Systems Design and Management (SDM) – an interdisciplinary program between MIT’s School of Engineering and Sloan School of Management. The SDM program aims to provide mid-career professionals with a systems perspective that will help them address and solve large-scale, global, complex challenges. Most of the students in the classes I have taught at MIT are enrolled in SDM.

  • Web Browsers

  • SaaS

    • Being more explicit about “open cloud computing”

      I just had a chance to read David Linthicum’s article in InfoWorld called “What does ‘open’ really mean in cloud computing?”. In the piece, David argues that open needs to be more than a marketing term.

  • Licensing

    • Telstra violating open source licence, claims developer

      The telco launched the products this year and has already achieved a degree of success with the T-Hub integrated telephone and T-Box media centre products, selling a total of around 100,000 units combined by the end of September. The T-Touch Tab is one of a wave of tablets based on Google’s Android operating system to hit Australia over the past several months.

      However, in an extensive blog post published yesterday, Angus Gratton — who appears to be an open source software developer and a technician at the Australian National University’s Department of Nuclear Physics — pointed out that all three products were based on the Linux operating system, which has substantial portions licensed under the GNU General Public License.

      Gratton also posted a link to his claim to the GPL violations mailing list, which aims to track and rectify problems where companies are using the licence.

      The GPL violations site interprets the GPL as requiring that companies who distribute products based on GPL-licenced software must make source code to the software available to customers — for example, include a zip file of relevant files on a documentation CD. In addition, a copy of the GPL licence should be included with licence documentation.


  • Science

    • Nissan to surround its cars with safety shields

      In addition to pioneering the world’s first mass-marketed all-electric vehicle — the Leaf — Nissan has been busy developing advanced safety systems that reduce the risk of accidents by wrapping a virtual safety bubble around the car.

      Nissan announced in 1995 that it planned to reduce the number of people killed or seriously injured in its cars by half within two decades, by introducing a variety of intelligent transportation systems (ITS) technologies into its vehicles. The advanced safety technology involves a combination of intelligent transportation systems, vehicle-to-vehicle (V2V) communications, and proactive feedback to both the driver and the vehicle.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • David Nutt: I am not a prohibitionist

      Since pointing out this week that alcohol is more harmful than any other drug, I have been painted as an alcohol prohibitionist or, conversely, as someone who wants to legalise all drugs. Neither is true, and this misrepresentation is testament to how sterile this debate has become. We must get beyond this.

      My interest has always been to develop a rational scale of drug harm to enable policymakers to get to grips with a significant social problem, irrespective of legal status. If alcohol was discovered today it would be controlled as an illegal drug alongside similar sedatives such as GHB and GBL. Certainly it is far more dangerous than any other legally available substance. Of course, many people are social drinkers, apparently unharmed by this pleasure. But if only 10% of the 40 million UK drinkers are significantly harmed, this total is still 10 times that of the next most harmful drug, heroin. Many social drinkers also imbibe at well above the safe levels, their health silently damaged.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Does Britain really need the military?

      Six months ago I proposed in the Guardian that if Britain was short of money it should cut defence. I did not mean reduce defence, or trim defence. I meant cut it altogether. We are desperately short of money and absolutely no one is threatening to attack us now or in the foreseeable, indeed conceivable, future. Besides, as we have seen this past week, other ways of ensuring security make more pressing claims on us. We just do not need an army, navy or air force. So why are we paying £45bn for them?

    • WikiLeaks founder urges US to investigate alleged abuse by its troops

      The founder of whistleblowing website WikiLeaks has called on the US to investigate alleged abuses by its troops in Afghanistan and Iraq, saying it has a “proud tradition” of self-scrutiny.

    • Iraq War Logs throw new light on the Nick Berg mystery

      When Berg was, following the federal court intervention, reluctantly released from US detention, he made his way back to the Al-Fanar hotel in Baghdad. When asked about his experience he unconvincingly laughed it off as a misunderstanding. He refused a free flight out of Baghdad pressed on him by the US Consulate and was last seen alive on 10 April 2004.

    • CIA lawyer: U.S. law does not forbid rendition

      Daniel Pines, an assistant general counsel at the CIA, has asserted in a law journal that the abduction of terrorism suspects abroad is legal under U.S. law, even when the suspect is turned over to countries notorious for torture.

      “There are virtually no legal restrictions on these types of operations,” Pines asserts in the current edition of the Loyola University Chicago Law Journal.

    • Limit jury trials says victims’ champion

      The right to trial by jury in many cases involving lesser offences should be stopped in England and Wales as it is slowing down the prosecution of more serious crimes, the Victims’ Commissioner said on Wednesday.

    • Check-in security and common sense

      Faced with demands to take off his shoes, the former Chancellor explained that as a result of surgery he has had to his legs, he is unable to bend down and therefore needs to sit on a chair to remove his footwear. After much grumbling, a chair was provided with what Lord Lawson’s son Dominic describes as “spectacular gracelessness”.

      Following, this a more senior security officer demanded Lawson hand over his passport. He refused. Following this, the officer ‘phoned ahead to the airline’s passenger gate and ordered EasyJet to deny the peer access to the fight for “not having passed through security”.

    • Body scanner “humiliation”

      She tells us that she was subjected to a humiliating experience at Stansted. She has had both her hips replaced and when going security she was taken off to a room and made to undress to show her operation scars to prove that she had had the surgery claimed.

    • Passenger: they made me strip. Stansted Airport: yeah, that’s what we do.

      I challenged the airport about it. Here’s the airport’s response. You’ll see that they try to have their cake and eat it – on the one hand saying that they don’t require pasengers to strip to show scars and, on the other, in saying you have to go to a private room for a further seach, they basically say, yes, we do that.

    • Airports making money from terror checks

      This week, this blog carried news of an unpleasant case of an elderly lady made to undress and expose scars from a recent hip replacement in order to pass through security at Stansted Airport. We also blogged about Lord Lawson’s treatment at the hands of the check-in gestapo.

    • Pilots boycott full-body scanners over health fears

      THE world’s largest pilot’s association has boycotted full-body scanners over health risks but passengers wishing to avoid the devices may instead be faced with “invasive” pat-down searches.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Channel 4′s convenient green fictions

      Environmentalism is not just about replacing one set of technologies with another. Technological change is important, but it will protect the biosphere only if we also tackle issues such as economic growth, consumerism and corporate power. These are the challenges the green movement asks us to address. These are the issues the film ignores.

    • UN report warns of threat to human progress from climate change

      In its annual flagship report on the state of the world, the UN said unsustainable patterns of consumption and production posed the biggest challenge to the anti-poverty drive.

    • Pollution particles can change the weather

      How cloudy is it today? Is it going to rain? The answer might depend on how much pollution is wafting around in the air above you. Two recent studies published in the journal Science show how particles pumped out of power stations and car exhausts alter weather. The first study, by Antony Clarke and Vladimir Kapustin from the University of Hawaii, analysed pollution levels over different areas of the Pacific ocean over the last 11 years. In the more polluted regions (such as parts of the north Pacific) there were more than 10 times as many particles on which cloud water could condense than there were in pristine regions (such as above Tasmania).

  • Finance

    • How to Restore the American Dream

      Fareed Zakaria recently published a very good cover story in Time Magazine – How to Restore the American Dream – which was also the basis for a special edition of his CNN program Fareed Zakaria GPS. Dr. Zakaria is a renowned journalist an author, and an astute observer of the vast economic and political changes taking place around the world. Last June I heard him give an excellent talk at an IBM conference in Shanghai.

      The basic premise of the Time article and CNN special is that while the forces of technology and globalization helped lead America to the forefront of the world stage, they are now hollowing out America’s middles class. The American Dream, – the possibility that anyone can get ahead and achieve success and prosperity through talent and hard work, – may well be disappearing.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Upcoming Report on Election 2010 & the Corporate Agenda

      With the flood of opinions about the meaning of the 2010 election results and the hundreds of millions spent by front groups and special interests, I’ll be taking a deeper look at the results, spending reports and other research in the coming days.

    • Tea Party Front Group Hits in State Ledge Elections. Again.

      Americans for Prosperity, the conservative group founded by billionaire David Koch (the subject of a recent New Yorker exposé on the corporate bankroll behind the Tea Party movement nationally) is working in the background against Democrats at the state level in Washington.

    • A Win in Spin for the Corporate-Backed Tea Party

      In the weeks before the 2010 mid-term elections, the Tea Party and its activities dominated the media, but there was a decided lack of discussion about exactly what the Tea Party is. Major media seemed sold on the idea that the Tea Party is one big homogenous, spontaneous grassroots uprising, but this was not the case. Apart from a single, exhaustive article in the August 30, 2010 edition of The New Yorker (aptly titled “Covert Operations,”) that linked the wealthy billionaire Koch Brothers’ and their corporate interests to the Tea Party, few media outlets discussed which factions of the movement were truly grassroots, which were corporate-backed, and to what extent corporations supported the “movement.”

    • http://www.prwatch.org/node/9583
    • The Worst PR Year for McDonalds

      First, a weird photo of thick, pink, gooey sludge appeared on the Internet that was purported to be the raw material that chicken nuggets are made of. Then, in April, New York photographer Sally Davies purchased a Happy Meal, set the burger and fries on a plate in her apartment and photographed them every day for six months as an art project, only to discover that the Happy Meal looked exactly the same six months later — no mold, no decomposition, nothing. Her “Happy Meal Project” started garnering attention from the media and time lapse video of it appeared on YouTube.

    • Happy Meal Project Rounds Out 2010 As The Worst Public Relations Year For McDonald’s Ever

      The newest installment in the recent obsession/revulsion with fast food is the “Happy Meal Project.” A New York photographer, Sally Davies, set an uncovered McDonald’s Happy Meal burger and fries on a shelf in her apartment for six months. Although you may be picturing maggots and mealworms, the reality is far worse. Did the burger ooze toxic mold? Sprout little meat mushrooms? Reanimate, zombie-style? Even more chilling than any of these gross-out scenarios is this: Nothing happened.

      The time-lapse tells the story: The food remains completely intact and unchanged, albeit getting a little hard, with no indication of any kind of decomposition, which is probably more or less exactly the same process it goes through in your stomach. This is just one of many reports of food from McDonald’s lasting far longer than it should: This nutritionist has kept a burger since 1996 that, when compared to a burger from 2008, looks more or less identical to its younger sibling.

    • Maverick Senator Russ Feingold Felled by Corporate Dollars

      Wisconsin Senator Russ Feingold, co-author of the McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation, was felled last night by corporate television ad dollars allowed to flood in by a Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs. FEC giving corporations the status of individuals

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Who are India’s real traitors?

      The writer Arundhati Roy, once a national heroine for being the first Indian to win the Booker prize, today finds herself a reviled figure. The demonisation of Roy has taken just over a decade, and many will tell you it’s her own fault. She just won’t stop opening her mouth and saying uncomfortable things.

      Roy’s latest sin was to express her doubts about India’s right to rule Kashmir. It’s a rule enforced by 700,000 soldiers and, by all accounts, most ordinary Kashmiris want them gone. They are calling for azaadi, the freedom to determine their own future via the plebiscite called for in UN resolution 47, which since 1948 India has ignored.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • New Zealand P2P proposal: guilty until proven innocent

        Say you have a DSL connection at home. Should you be liable for big fines over infringements committed using your connection… even if you had nothing to do with them? And should rightsholder complaints carry the assumption of accuracy? New Zealand politicians say yes.

        New Zealand is taking its second attempt at clamping down on illicit peer-to-peer file-swapping. The first time around, in 2009, the country’s legislators had to scrap their Internet disconnection plans after a public outcry over its “Guilt upon accusation” approach. But their second attempt is already stirring up the same complaints.

      • How Annie got shot

        Yet Petty does not intend to acquire a Leibovitz. Not one of the 10 “master sets” of 157 of her prints that have been offered privately at an asking price of more than $3m per set; not even a single photo. “No,” he says firmly. “I nearly bought her portrait of the Queen but then I decided against it. She is obviously well-regarded but it is a distinctively American taste, her style of photography.”

        It is only one collector’s view but it is a straw in a wind that has been blowing fiercely against Leibovitz, who is struggling to repair her finances, having built up multi-million-dollar debts amid a tangle of personal, professional and property troubles. The woes of one of the world’s highest-paid photographers have mesmerised the media and the art world.

      • Ministry of Sound abandon file sharing dragnet

        In the fallout following the accidental leaking of sensitive data concerning thousands of UK internet users by ACS:Law, ISPs including BT woke up to the problems with simply acceding to rightsholders’ demands that they hand over alleged infringer details in bulk.

      • What does Cameron’s copyright announcement mean?

        David Cameron has admitted that UK copyright law is out of date, and needs to be fit for the Internet age. Specifically, he noted that companies like Google in the United States benefit from “fair use” copyright provisions. Roughly speaking, this which allow people do what they like with copyright works, so long as this doesn’t doesn’t stop the copyright owner from making sales. This is open ended. So scanning a book you have bought, indexing content, or changing a CD to an MP3 at home, can be “fair use”.

        People who like the US system say that this allows greater flexibility as the law evolves to fit new, legitimate uses of copyright works.

      • Copyright reform is on the EU Commission’s agenda

        Commissioner Neelie Kroes today announced that the EU Commission wants to reform EU copyright.

      • [Neelie Kroes] Fixing Copyright Offers A World Of Digital Opportunities

Clip of the Day

Lubuntu 10.10 short Demo

Credit: TinyOgg

OpenSUSE Has New Trademark Problem and Delay

Posted in GNU/Linux, Intellectual Monopoly, OpenSUSE at 1:12 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Effect pedal

Summary: Smeegol has problems with the name and Milestone 3 of OpenSUSE 11.4 gets delayed as the project as a whole slows down

REMEMBER OpenSUSE? It’s that Novell product which people no longer hear so much about anymore. It used to be covered regularly, but now there just isn’t enough news with which to do so. Looking at the past fortnight, however, there is this one scandal around Smeegol 1.0, which was reviewed here:

Smeegol 1.0 distribution quite similar to Meego distribution which built by combining between Moblin and Maemo. OpenSUSE goblin team announced Smeegol 1.0 release, OpenSUSE based distribution, using Meego user interface. Comes with a really big software collection and most of them up to date including internet application, multimedia application, social media application, and many applications will mention it on the review.

We wrote about Smeegol in [1, 2, 3] and there is a feud about the name as the “Linux Foundation rules against use of the Smeegol name”:

After its October 6th release, the Smeegol project (an openSUSE interpretation of MeeGo, which we reported on), has been told by the Linux Foundation that it must find a new name. In a reply to the project, the Linux Foundation said the project’s use of the Smeegol name would not beneficial to MeeGo. Read on for more details.

Unsurprisingly, there has been some consternation among the Smeegol community about this. There is thus resistence to change the Smeegol name, which has partly been fueld by the timing of communications.

Andrew Waffa initially contacted the Linux Foundation (via the gmane.comp.handhelds.meego.devel newsgroup) on behalf of the Smeegol project on the 20th of September, 16 days ahead of Smeegol’s official release.

What will Mr. Waffa do? He was presenting Smeegol at the OSC, which is the annual OpenSUSE Conference:

Wednesday at the conference, Smeegol master Andrew “Funkypenguin” Wafaa was given the stage by Michael Meeks who was supposed to talk about MeeGo. Meeks claimed that he’d rather have someone on the stage who actually knew what he was talking about, hence Andrew had to explain himself to the audience.

Will Smeegol be renamed/rebranded?

OpenSUSE has been having a hard time attracting new people and Novell tries to use money in desperate attempts to attract more people to Novell appliances. It’s attracting them using prizes which Linux Foundation marketing staff then advertises :

Bowen: The chance to win $10,000 has attracted many entrants. Of the 900 appliances that have been published to SUSE Gallery, a couple of interesting ones involve social media…

OpenSUSE Invis Server is said to be one new flavour of OpenSUSE:

As a result we decided to found the openSUSE Invis Project. The idea is to create an openSUSE Distribution flavor with solid packages coming from openSUSE Factory together with some specifically packaged sources ready to power the Invis Server. The openSUSE Buildservice will be used to build the needed packages and create the product images. The first tasks will be to clean up the package list and do some packaging to be able to create a convenient openSUSE-Invis CD.

Going back to the OpenSUSE Conference (OSC), Jos Poortvliet keeps a positive attitude about it (here is his OpenSUSE talk), calling it a “big success” (as a Novell employee he is biased) and Novell’s PR staff writes about that too. Novell has an overly optimistic outlook given that SUSE is up for sale. “We’re already excited for next year! So, stay tuned for updates on dates and locations for 2011,” they say.

Other than technical posts and some more coverage of OpenSUSE Build Service 2.1 (e.g. [1, 2]), there are new Mozilla vulnerabilities in OpenSUSE being reported [[1, 2]. There are also new releases of OpenSUSE Weekly News (issue number 145, 146, 147, and 148) and saddening news about release delays in the project.

While it is unlikely that this will cause any disruption to the current release schedule for openSUSE 11.4, it’s certainly something to keep an eye on if you’re a big fan of fancy graphics and effects with KDE.

“Election season in the openSUSE Project is just around the corner,” says the project’s (product) Web site. Novell will keep control of this product, as usual. The elections just make it look more independent.

Novell’s Chief Marketing Officer John Dragoon Does Not Understand Novell Critics, Rewrites the Past Instead

Posted in Deception, Marketing, Microsoft, Novell, SLES/SLED at 12:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Straw man

Summary: Novell’s PR machine (notably the Chief Marketing Officer for Novell) uses a straw man to dismiss its opposition which includes many former users of SUSE

Novell’s marketing chief has been kissing bottoms and suppressing criticism of Novell in blogs [1, 2]. Novell’s idea of doing business includes silencing sources of bad publicity, apparently. In John Dragoon’s blog he has just written about things needing to be private, pretty much like Novell’s deal with Microsoft, which remains an unknown in many ways (it was a private deal). Nobody except some people at the very top of Novell (many of whom have quit the company since then) knows exactly what Microsoft and Novell agreed on, but even “[o]ver three years” after this deal* Dragoon is mischaracterising critics of Novell’s deal, thus rewriting the past in some ways. Here is the relevant portion of his text in Forbes:

Over three years ago my employer, Novell, made the bold move of announcing a strategic partnership with one of our long time competitors, Microsoft. We did it because it was in the best interests of our mutual customers. Days, weeks and months later a very vocal minority criticized Novell for “selling out” to the competition. It turned out that very few if any of these critics were our customers. Had we capitulated on our partnership, the valuable customer benefits we delivered would have never occurred.

Recall the bogus survey which was an exercise in push polling (and whose outcome is therefore simply not true). If that’s what Novell managers still use for dismissing their critics, then they rely on people being gullible. Novell managers can see that they no longer attract much business (SUSE is up for sale now, but as an asset, not a product). Truth be told, they lost many existing customers and prospective ones too. Those who were no longer with Novell were naturally removed from the sample set, so Novell can claim that existing customers accept the deal. One cannot measure the success of a product by only asking people who already used it for a while. I used SUSE exclusively at home and work, but after the deal with Microsoft I no longer did. So surely I would not be included in any such survey. Well, many of those who complained about the deal with Microsoft were SUSE users (and customers) too. It can be verified through mailing lists for example. Novell should not be allowed to rewrite the past.

“It is in Novell’s interest – selfish interest, I will admit – to advance-remove whatever those inhibitors be to the advancement of Linux and open source.”

John Dragoon, Novell

Say No to Novell

* It is actually over 4 years ago as the "Boycott Novell" movement is 4 years old now and Dragoon’s article was published on “06/11/2010″, 4 days after the 4-year anniversary.

Microsoft is Stockpiling and Also Buying More Patents While Microsoft’s ‘Buddy’ Finjan Extorts McAfee With Software Patents

Posted in Microsoft, Patents, Security at 11:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Victoria and Disraeli cartoon

Summary: Microsoft’s new direction continues to include “enforcement” (as in aggression) with software patents and Finjan, which Microsoft partly owns, is just attacking companies with software patents because it’s failing as a real business

MICROSOFT is having real problems which we wrote about this morning [1, 2, 3]. The company needs to find new sources of revenue and patent racketeering [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] is just one possible source that would render Microsoft a “patent troll” if or when it gives up on Vista Phony 7 [sic] for example.

A Microsoft-sponsored site from Seattle says that Microsoft has just acquired 44 patents that could be applied in the mobile phones market (where Microsoft is said to have just around 5% market share):

Microsoft’s agreement to acquire Canesta Inc., confirmed late last week, will give the Redmond company 44 patents and about two dozen patent applications covering various ways of enhancing a computer’s senses — including gesture recognition, depth perception, and real-time camera and sensor calibration. Taken as a whole, they show how Microsoft could give users new ways of interacting with future versions of its PC and mobile operating systems.

This would enable aggression against rivals even if Microsoft quits this market (or never explores it at all). Microsoft need no longer feel ashamed of being viewed as a parasite. The company is already perceived that way among those who know better and having funded SCO, it is clear that Microsoft also feeds some other parasites. Speaking of parasites, the other day Groklaw wrote about one of Brian Proffitt’s articles: “If Oracle yearns for the title of Community Parasite, formerly held by Caldera, now SCO, they can follow this course. But how well is Oracle’s Linux doing? It’s really hard if you are used to thinking in proprietary ways to see the value in sharing, but there is value.”

“Microsoft need no longer feel ashamed of being viewed as a parasite.”Oracle is also said to be agitating HP at the moment, after Oracle hired Hurd who had been ousted by HP [1, 2, 3, 4], only to be replaced by a possible Microsoft mole, Apotheker [1, 2].

Techrights will be writing more about Oracle in the future. As long as Oracle still maintains and distributes some valuable Free software projects like OpenOffice.org and VirtualBox, however, Techrights prefers not to slam Oracle more than reasonably (what’s absolutely necessary). When it comes to patents, Oracle is a problem only when it comes to Android. The case is quite unique though and no claims are made about Linux in Android. Compare that to Apple’s and Microsoft’s patent lawsuits against Android distributors. A few days ago we wrote about the ITC taking Nokia's side over Apple's and argued that it can be good news for Android (ensuring it’s safe from embargo).

Microsoft’s own patent attack on Linux/Android/Motorola is now reaching review stages at the ITC, say several publications [1, 2, 3, 4] and an older article titled “Redmond’s Anti-Android Patent Trap” gets reposted by ECT. IDG’s Paul McNamara meanwhile blogs about “Microsoft patents ‘record button on a computer system’” (we covered it in [1, 2]) and he argues that “at least one patent expert says such muttering may be unwarranted in this case. (Unlike with Microsoft’s patent on a “butt hinge with integrally formed butt straps,” which proved to be not only funny but erroneous.)”

“The matter of fact is that some years ago Microsoft recruited the likes of Marshall Phelps to help the company mooch other companies just like IBM does.”These apologetics are expected from IDG. The matter of fact is that some years ago Microsoft recruited the likes of Marshall Phelps to help the company mooch other companies just like IBM does. Microsoft wants to make money without producing quite so many products and it even promoted Horacio Gutierrez, a leading person in Microsoft’s extortion crusades (including those against GNU/Linux). Microsoft is now employing the meta-industry not of engineers but of lawyers like this group which built a business model around patent litigation. How appalling. To Microsoft, it’s about quantity, not quality.

It is not too shocking that even Microsoft buddies like Finjan [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] (Microsoft connection to Finjan was last covered here a long time ago and it’s still a major shareholder) are resorting to just patent lawsuits, the latest of which was won by Finjan and forces McAfee to pay Finjan $13 million (for code that Finjan has absolutely nothing to do with). As Fahmida Y. Rashid put it last week, “Federal judges deny McAfee’s appeal to overturn the verdict in the patent infringement lawsuit with Finjan which would require it to pay more than $13 million in damages.”

Why is the company just suing? Well, according to Wikipedia (maybe not be accurate in this case due to lack of citations), “In 2001, the company ran into financial difficulties and Touboul [founder] was asked by the board of directors to rejoin the company as CEO. Touboul realigned the company’s strategy, moving away from developing only software solutions to combined hardware and software security appliances; additionally, the company moved to a channel sales model. But in 2005, following disagreements with the board, Touboul left again and started a new company Yoggie Security Systems.” The company was just sold last year. It probably helps show how patents are a loser’s game and everyone in this game loses, except lawyers perhaps.

There is more in Bloomberg and the official court documents.

Welcome to a world of software patents — a world where money can be made without writing a single line of code or shipping a single product. This is apparently the type of world that Microsoft and its ilk hope to thrive in. They can’t play fairly. Microsoft never could.

“That’s extortion and we should call it what it is. To say, as Ballmer did, that there is undisclosed balance sheet liability, that’s just extortion and we should refuse to get drawn into that game.”

Mark Shuttleworth

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