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IRC Proceedings: December 12th, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz




#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

Enter the IRC channels now

Links 13/12/2010: 300,000 Activations of Android Per Day, Jolicloud 1.1

Posted in News Roundup at 1:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Being safe with Ubuntu on a USB flash drive

    One of the best things a Windows user can do for Defensive Computing is to have a bootable copy of Linux on hand. The classic reason being to rescue a broken copy of the operating sytem, but the much more important reason is for on-line banking.

    Anyone that does online banking on a Windows machine is taking a huge risk.

    Most likely they don’t understand how sophisticated the bad guys are at writing malware. Or, perhaps, they put way too much trust in their antivirus program. Or, they may fail to appreciate how hard it is to keep all the installed software up to date with the latest patches. Perhaps the worst type of infection, a man-in-the-browser, can even defeat two factor authentication schemes.

  • Update This!

    I went to GNU/Linux 100% of the time. The patch that broke the camel’s back, so to speak, was the fourth catastrophic patch failure I’d had on XP in three years. I just couldn’t take it anymore. I can’t say that Linux has behaved totally angelically either. But… But… with Linux, it’s usually mea culpa, not the damned update or patch.

  • Non-Profits Lead The Way With Linux

    On a regular basis we see studies claiming that the way forward in effective IT is with open source concepts. This means open source software, Linux desktops, Linux servers, Linux embedded devices, and the list just keeps on expanding.

    At the same time, the forces behind big label proprietary software applications rail back against open source by saying the open source approach to enterprise needs will end up costing more money in the long run. And in instances where FUD doesn’t work, these same companies ride along with the old “legacy software” argument, explaining how open source solutions simply cannot match up in quality to their proprietary counterparts.


    Closer to home, I’ve seen evidence that Canada is also embracing the Linux experience more each day.

  • Market Shares

    While fans of M$ claim market shares for M$ of 91% and more realistic webstats show 86%, Treflis has estimated the current market share is about 75% (Forbes) and has been trending down. The current web stats lag reality in the market place because current web stats are generated by PCs that have shipped years ago.

    We know Apple ships about 4% of PCs shipped per annum (still not in top 10), so the other 20% could be shipping to folks with portable licences likely for XP that they do not have to buy again, illegal installation (no licence), thin clients and GNU/Linux or other OS. That’s a huge slice of the pie in which GNU/Linux can obviously grow. Then there is the huge number of P4ish XP machines that can be installed of GNU/Linux. 50% of all on-line machines by most estimates run XP and likely most of them will not be scrapped. They can run for years more as thin clients or GNU/Linux machines.

  • GNU/Linux Roll-outs in Schools

    There is news of a “huge” roll-out in Brazil, 1.5 million notebooks running Mandriva GNU/Linux. That sounds like a huge number but in a population of 200 million people it is a drop in the bucket, about one machine per classroom. My impoverished-IT-budget school has 5 or 6 times as many GNU/Linux PCs. If the government of Brazil really wanted to make a difference they could spend a bit more and using GNU/Linux terminal servers and thin clients they could provide many more computers for students.

  • Kernel Space

    • Graphics Stack

      • AMD’s Hiring Another Open-Source Driver Developer

        Yesterday we reported that AMD’s Catalyst Linux driver team lost another key developer with Piranavan Selvanandan, a senior engineer at ATI since 2003 when Matthew Tippett built-up the original ATI Linux driver team, leaving the company. While it’s unfortunate to see AMD lose another long-time Linux engineer, it appears they are hiring for both their open and closed-source Linux driver teams.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Release Polishing

        New KDE versions are released every six months nowadays. Roughly three months are spent on developing new features, the other three are devoted to release preparations. “What’s needed to get things ready for the release?” the curious might ask. “Why does it take that long?” the impatient. I’ll tell you from my perspective as a Marble developer.

      • oh look, it’s the future

        While nepomuk has seen improvements, I thought it was still only being used by dolphin and kontact. But then I did some poking… it can record the source of files downloaded by konqueror. It’s going to be involved in some telepathy thingy. It stores the custom icons for activities. I think there was something about koffice too, although I can’t remember it. For 4.7 we’ll hopefully have apps using it to record what resources they’re using and link them to activities n’stuff – but there hasn’t been time to do that yet. So… the second part is certainly true – even *I* don’t really know where nepomuk is – but I’m not sure if I can count the first part as true or not.

      • What the forums search can do for you

        This time i would like to write about a very underestimated feature of the KDE Community Forums, because i am pretty sure most of you don’t even know what it can do for you.

      • This week in KWin-GLES

        Another week is gone and my KWin-GLES branch got further polishing. All developing on the OpenGL ES code is nowadays happening on my notebook using KWin-GLES. So it is already so useable that I can develop on it without real problems. Most of the effects are already ported and can be used. Today I added the first 3D effects, that is CoverSwitch and FlipSwitch and a (locally) half finished Cube Desktop Switch animation. Quite nice to see the new code working as expected ;-) Only eleven effects are not yet ported, but these include some effects which won’t be ported, such as FPS, Sharpen or Shadow effect.

      • Krita 2.3, New Feature #5: Canvas Rotation

        I have been dreaming of this feature for ages, and then I bought a tablet PC a few days before it get implemented in Krita when I do not need it anymore :) But it is still an extremelly cool feature, that was started by Lukáš Tvrdý and finished by Dmitry Kazakov.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Synapse and a bit about Gnome Dictionary

        According to its creator, Synapse is essentially a search tool, which goes through many sources of information to present contents right at the user’s fingertips. I know, it does sound vague, but a few examples really help in understanding how Synapse works.

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

      • Reviews: Slax – still alive in the Slax Community remix

        Finally, a quick link to an interesting interview with NetBSD’s Amitai Schlair, a member of a committee that oversees the development of pkgsrc and the maintainer of the official NetBSD Wiki: “Originally, the official Wiki wasn’t intended to replace the unofficial one. People who wanted to contribute to a NetBSD Wiki had been doing just fine without us. That’s no longer the case. We want these people to be able to keep contributing to NetBSD as they have, so we’re adapting our Wiki plans to make room for everyone. This entails some careful rethinking — every other official project resource is, by design, writeable only by developers — followed by a fresh batch of integration work. We’d hoped to have time to prepare for a smooth transition from wiki.netbsd.se; alas, it’s not in the cards. Instead, we’re working as quickly as we can to make it possible for everyone to participate in the official NetBSD Wiki. A smooth transition would also, at minimum, involve moving worthwhile content to the new Wiki and providing HTTP redirects at the old URLs for a while. Of course, these require a modicum of assistance from the administrators of wiki.netbsd.se. For users’ sake, I hope assistance will be forthcoming.”

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat acquisition opens way for new cloud services

        The government cloud services market just heated up a bit more. Red Hat’s recently announced acquisition of Makara, a platform-as-a-service firm, indicates that the open-source technology provider is ready to compete with the likes of Microsoft and Google. Analysts note that the bottom line of the acquisition is that federal, state and local agencies have more choices for cloud service providers.

      • Future of U.S. economy debated

        At a time when many Americans are expressing grave concerns about the country’s economic future, Red Hat CEO Jim Whitehurst sees the glass as half full.

        Whitehurst said Thursday that the U.S. is well situated to prosper in a global economy where success is increasingly tied to the ability to access, understand and share vast amounts of information.

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Android Code-Lines

          The source management strategy above includes a code-line that Google will keep private.


          We recognize that many contributors will disagree with this approach.

        • 300K Installations of Android per Day

          Years ago, the “tipping point” for GNU/Linux was discussed as a possibility. We could see the tipping point in 2011 if Android keeps growing and ARM begins to eat into thin clients, desktops, tablets and notebooks. All the ducks are in a row. The final blow to Wintel will be the acceptance of GNU/Linux in all OEM and retail channels.

Free Software/Open Source

  • YafaRay [Blender 3D's Open Source Raytracing Engine] Commercial is a Treat to Watch!

    YafaRay is a free and open source raytracing engine. Raytracing is a rendering technique for generating realistic images by tracing the path of light through a 3D scene. I have no idea what a raytracing engine means or how critical a client it is to Blender. But this video showcasing different capabilities of YafaRay is an absolute delight to watch.

  • Netflix Opens up About Open Source

    What’s useful here is that Netflix is a very different company from either Google or Facebook, say; and so its message of support for open source confirms the latter’s ability to serve a wide spectrum of users. Moreover, the list of open source programs it uses and contributes to extends well beyond the classical LAMP stack that many associate might with free software, which confirms its breadth in a different, but equally important way.

  • Events

    • Live Web Event – The End Of The Free Internet

      Paul Jay, senior editor of The Real News Network, will moderate a virtual panel discussion promoting a dialogue for the technology community about the technological and legal ramifications of the WikiLeaks shutdown.

  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle

    • Oracle Tries to Pull Apache Back to Java Group

      Oracle has asked the Apache Software Foundation to reconsider its decision to quit the Java SE/EE Executive Committee, and is also acknowledging the ASF’s importance to Java’s future.

      The ASF announced its departure from the committee on Wednesday in a blog post, saying Oracle has too much control over Java. “The commercial concerns of a single entity, Oracle, will continue to seriously interfere with and bias the transparent governance of the ecosystem,” reads the ASF blog.

    • The JCP… Weep for the Experts

      Other resignations include Tim Peierls and of course Apache. Google will probably follow shortly. They have all realised that they were giving their work and IP to improve a proprietary Oracle product… for nothing.

    • The Future of Java

      ASF will obviously not let Harmony go to the waste-bin. Harmony will be an appropriate name for a replacement Free Software project for Java. A whole industry based on Harmony will emerge in the next year with all kinds of growth opportunities for ambitious people. Oracle will become a life-boat for the truly locked-in. Java being designed to be portable can almost instantly be ported to Harmony under a truly open organization. Expect ASF to announce a new direction in weeks. There is no rush and they will want to get it right.

  • CMS

    • Drupal 7.0 RC 2 Released

      We are proud to present to you the second release candidate of Drupal 7.0. Although there are still a few known issues that we are working on fixing, we are confident that our code is stable enough for wider testing by the community. Since the last release candidate two weeks ago, we have fixed upgrade path bugs, improved styling in the default “Bartik” theme, numerous bug fixes and improvements to strings, and fixed a critical bug preventing default Views from working. For the full list of changes, see the release notes.


    • European Commission IT chief tackles open source lobby over €189m contract

      Francisco Garcia-Moran, director-general of the European Commission’s directorate of informatics, refuted a claim made by the president of the Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) that the contract had discriminated in favour of proprietary software suppliers.

      In a letter sent last week, Garcia-Moran told FSFE president Karsten Gerloff he had been “totally misleading” when he accused the EC of operating in “direct contradiction” of its own rules on the promotion and use of open source software.

      The director-general disputed the lobbyist’s accusation that the contract had been a bad deal for European taxpayers.


      The commission already used 250 open source products, he said. It operated 350 Linux servers and 800 open source web servers. The EC’s open source social collaboration system, called the Flexible Platform, hosted 400 wikis and blogs for 400 commissioners.

      * Open source authentication protected more than 300 web applications used by more than 60,000 users.
      * It used an open source content management system, and did its invoicing and ordering on open source software as well.
      * The EC’s 2,000 software developers were working on more than 600 projects on an open source collaboration platform.

  • Licensing

    • Back from the GPL Compliance Engineering Workshop in Taipei

      I’ve been a bit over a week in Taipei, mainly to co-present (with Armijn Hemel) the GPL compliance engineering workshop at Academia Sinica. The workshop was attended by more than 100 representatives of the local IT industry in Taiwan, from both legal and engineering departments.

      I think even only the sheer number of attendees is a great sign to indicate how important the subject of Free Software license compliance has become in the IT industry, and specifically in the embedded consumer electronics market.

    • Where did you get that open source licensed code from?

      Open source software is (of course) distributed (for the most part) under the GNU Lesser General Public License, which grants the right to modify and redistribute the software code itself. There are rules and stipulations covering combined works, combined libraries and conventions covering every element of application structure from object code, to headers and libraries.


  • ‘Parenthetical Purge’ Movement Seeks Emoticon-Free December

    Emoticons first appeared — in rudimentary fashion — over a century ago, but the online infestation of signifiers has definitely reached epidemic status. Nauseated by that scourge of smileys and winks, two valiant enemies of the emoticon have launched a campaign that urges everyone to — at least temporarily — spurn the annoying and inappropriate use of emotionally indicative symbols.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Exclusive: ‘Gnosis’ Explains The Method And Reasoning Behind Gawker Media Hack

      Over the last 24 hours Gawker Media’s network of sites have been under attack from a group who have identified themselves “Gnosis,” a seemingly mysterious collective of hackers who has been falsely considered part of the 4chan-related group of renegade vigilantes knows as Anonymous. Via several private email exchanges with Mediaite, an individual claiming to represent “Gnosis” has explained both the reasoning and methodology of his actions, which has led to a compromised commenter database and a content management system.

    • Tirades Against Nobel Aim at Audience in China

      As much of the world on Friday focused their eyes on the empty seat in Oslo that starkly represented the absence of the Nobel laureate Liu Xiaobo, a lone Chinese blogger posted the image of a chair on the country’s most popular microblogging site.

    • All Guantánamo Prisoners Were Subjected to “Pharmacological Waterboarding”

      In one narrative of the “War on Terror,” President Bush scrapped the protections of the Geneva Conventions — including Common Article 3, which prohibits “cruel treatment and torture” and “outrages upon personal dignity, in particular humiliating and degrading treatment.” — for prisoners at Guantánamo, and established the prison as an offshore interrogation center to protect the United States from further terrorist attacks. This narrative is distressing enough, as it involves a deliberate attempt to discard domestic and international laws and treaties so that prisoners seized in wartime — mixed up with a handful of terrorist suspects — could be held indefinitely and subjected to torture, but it is not, in fact, the most compelling explanation of the purpose of the detention policies implemented in the “War on Terror.”

    • Malaysia criticised over canings
  • Cablegate

    • WikiLeaks: DDOS attacks reflect ‘public opinion’

      WikiLeaks neither supports nor condemns the cyber attacks that have targeted its critics, it said Friday, just as it appears the attackers are mounting a fresh operation against Moneybookers.com.

      The whistleblowing website wrote on its Twitter feed that it is not affiliated with Anonymous, a group of online activists that have attacked websites of companies that cut off services to WikiLeaks.

      On its website, WikiLeaks went further.

    • Media may face legal issues for publishing Wikileaks cables

      The controversy created after the release of hundreds of US secret diplomatic cables have raised many important legal issues about national security and freedom of the press under U.S. law, according to Neil Richards, JD, professor of law at Washington University in St. Louis.

      Journalists and government officials have suggested that either WikiLeaks or The New York Times (NYT) might face legal liability for publishing the contents of diplomatic cables and other leaked documents.In order to find either WikiLeaks/Julian Assange or the NYT liable, the government would need to prove two things – first that a law had been broken, and second that enforcement of the law was constitutional under the First Amendment,” Richards said.

    • Rudd defends Assange’s rights

      Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd has defended the legal rights of WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, who’s preparing to face court in London.

      Mr Rudd said yesterday he’s prepared to intervene to have a laptop computer provided for Mr Assange in London’s Wandsworth prison to help the Australian prepare his defence and obtain bail at his appearance at Westminster Magistrates Court on Tuesday.

    • In defense of WikiLeaks

      But so far, WikiLeaks has shown a remarkable amount of responsibility and discretion.

      It has released only 1,000 of the more than 250,000 cables it possesses, and has worked with various other media outlets to redact names and decide which information not to release for reasons of national security.

    • Lieberman draws fire with Times remark on Wikileaks

      Attorney Daniel Klau, a First Amendment expert, particularly on press protections, takes issue with U.S. Sen. Joseph I. Lieberman’s suggestion the New York Times should be investigated for printing stories based on documents released by WikiLeaks.

      “I certainly believe that WikiLeaks has violated the Espionage Act, but then what about the news organizations — including The Times — that accepted it and distributed it? To me, The New York Times has committed at least an act of bad citizenship, and whether they have committed a crime, I think that bears a very intensive inquiry by the Justice Department,” Lieberman, I-Conn., said on Fox News.

      Klau, a partner with Pepe and Hazard in Hartford and president of the Connecticut Foundation for Open Government, said the Supreme Court has been clear in several cases where it defined the role newspapers play in this scenario.

    • U.S. Assange charges ‘not imminent’; first congressional hearing Thurs.
    • Lula backs Assange, queries press freedom

      Outgoing Brazilian President Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva threw his support behind WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange and questioned how the Australian’s arrest squared with international protestations about freedom of expression and of the press.

    • Ron Paul’s Passionate Defense Of Julian Assange And WikiLeaks On House Floor

      Number 1: Do the America People deserve know the truth regarding the ongoing wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen?

      Number 2: Could a larger question be how can an army private access so much secret information?

      Number 3: Why is the hostility directed at Assange, the publisher, and not at our governments failure to protect classified information?

      Number 4: Are we getting our moneys worth of the 80 Billion dollars per year spent on intelligence gathering?

      Number 5: Which has resulted in the greatest number of deaths: lying us into war or Wikileaks revelations or the release of the Pentagon Papers?

      Number 6: If Assange can be convicted of a crime for publishing information that he did not steal, what does this say about the future of the first amendment and the independence of the internet?

      Number 7: Could it be that the real reason for the near universal attacks on Wikileaks is more about secretly maintaining a seriously flawed foreign policy of empire than it is about national security?

      Number 8: Is there not a huge difference between releasing secret information to help the enemy in a time of declared war, which is treason, and the releasing of information to expose our government lies that promote secret wars, death and corruption?

      Number 9: Was it not once considered patriotic to stand up to our government when it is wrong?

    • ustice Department Considers Prosecuting Assange–But How?

      The Justice Department would kind of like to prosecute Julian Assange, who most recently leaked a list of “vital” U.S. facilities worldwide. All it has to do is figure out what crime the WikiLeaks founder has committed. Prosecuting Assange under the Espionage Act of 1917 might proving tricky: The government has never successfully prosecuted someone for receiving leaked information, and it’s never even tried to prosecute a journalist, which Assange claims to be. Thus, government lawyers are looking at approaching the affair from other angles, as well. Other potential crimes include “trafficking in stolen property” and conspiracy, The New York Times’ Charlie Savage reports.

    • The media’s authoritarianism and WikiLeaks

      After I highlighted the multiple factual inaccuracies in Time’s WikiLeaks article yesterday (see Update V) — and then had an email exchange with its author, Michael Lindenberger — the magazine has now appended to the article what it is calling a “correction.” In reality, the “correction” is nothing of the sort; it is instead a monument to the corrupted premise at the heart of American journalism.

    • House Committee Plans Hearing on WikiLeaks

      The House Judiciary Committee is planning a Dec. 16 hearing on the legal issues surrounding WikiLeaks, making it the first congressional committee to do so since the organization began releasing U.S. diplomatic cables last month.

    • WikiLeaks and Anonymous

      They have, but they have also published actual (in some cases redacted) cables. Thus far, WikiLeaks has really just posted the same cables the news organizations it worked with have, with the same redactions. There is not that much of a difference between what WikiLeaks has done and what the Times and the others have done. That doesn’t mean that the Times, in doing so, did anything wrong.

    • WikiLeaks, the Web, and the Need to Rethink the Espionage Act

      There are likely few people reading the State Department cables released by Wikileaks with greater interest than students of international relations, who have every personal, academic, and professional reason to explore the inner workings of U.S. diplomacy. So it must have surprised the would-be diplomats of Columbia University’s School of International and Public Affairs to receive an email last week from the Office of Career Services warning that — according to an unnamed Columbia alum in the State Department — any student who so much as tweeted about the cables could jeopardize his or her hopes of getting any job with the federal government that requires security clearance. “The documents released during the past few months through Wikileaks are still considered classified documents,” the email read. “He recommends that you DO NOT post links to these documents nor make comments on social media sites such as Facebook or through Twitter.”

    • WikiLeaks: Would First Amendment protect Julian Assange?

      But isn’t there such a thing as free speech in America?

    • Prosecution of WikiLeaks depends on definition

      But Assange has portrayed himself as a crusading journalist: He told ABC News by e-mail that his latest batch of State Department documents would expose “lying, corrupt and murderous leadership from Bahrain to Brazil.” He told Time magazine he targets only “organizations that use secrecy to conceal unjust behavior.”

    • WikiLeaks cables: Sinn Féin leaders ‘were aware of’ Northern Bank heist plans

      Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness held lengthy negotiations with the former Irish prime minister Bertie Ahern to save the Northern Ireland peace process in the full knowledge that the IRA was planning to carry out the biggest bank robbery in its history, according to leaked US cables passed to WikiLeaks.

    • Wikileaks: Brazil vulnerable to terrorism

      The 2009 crash of a stolen plane near the capital city of Brasilia exposed Brazil’s vulnerability to terrorist acts, said a U.S. diplomatic cable released Sunday by WikiLeaks.

      On March 12, 2009, a man kidnapped his 5-year-old daughter, hijacked a small plane, and flew around of the city of Goiania for two hours before crashing into the parking lot of a shopping mall, killing himself and the girl. The crash “highlighted a vulnerability to potential terrorist actions,” then-Ambassador Clifford Sobel wrote in a memo.

      Brazilian authorities considered shooting down the plane, which had no flight plan and was viewed as a threat, according to the March 28, 2009, report. Air defense authorities followed the country’s shootdown procedure, illustrating “the extreme caution with which a possible shootdown is approached, the broad understanding of the shootdown policy among air traffic controllers and the fact that the procedures are executed as written,” Sobel said.

    • WikiLeaks: Foreign Office accused of misleading public over Diego Garcia

      The Foreign Office stands accused of misleading the public over the plight of thousands of islanders who were expelled from their Indian Ocean homeland to make way for a large US military base.

      More than 2,000 islanders – described privately by the Foreign Office as “Man Fridays” – were evicted from the British colony of Diego Garcia in the 1960s and 70s. The Foreign Office, backed by the US, has fought a long legal battle to prevent them returning home.

    • Amazon’s Wikileaks Takedown

      So with this context, I’ve been watching the Wikileaks attack with great interest. It has been suffering a pretty big network attack (Wikileaks claims about 10Gbps, which is big enough to take down all but a couple dozen or less ISPs in the world; arbor claims about 2-4 Gbps, which is still big enough to cause the vast majority of ISPs in the world major disruption). The attack successfully took its site offline at its main hosting ISP. Wikileak’s textbook response was to move to Amazon’s web services, one of those core Internet services capable of defending against big network attacks.

    • WikiLeaks cables claim al-Jazeera changed coverage to suit Qatari foreign policy

      Qatar is using the Arabic news channel al-Jazeera as a bargaining chip in foreign policy negotiations by adapting its coverage to suit other foreign leaders and offering to cease critical transmissions in exchange for major concessions, US embassy cables released by WikiLeaks claim.

    • WikiLeaks: Google attacks ordered by Li Changchun
    • US diplomats broke laws by sending uranium on commercial flight, says leaked cable

      AMERICAN diplomats secretly sent uranium on a commercial airliner, in violation of US government rules about the abuse of the diplomatic bag system, and laws governing the air transportation of hazardous materials.

      The metallic powder was sent from the US Embassy in Burma, according to a cable published by WikiLeaks.

    • The state, the press and a hyperdemocracy

      For the past 300 years, the relationship between the press and the state has been straightforward: the press tries to publish, the state uses its various mechanisms to thwart those efforts. This has produced a cat-and-mouse steady-state, a balance where selection pressures kept the press tamed and the state – in many circumstances – somewhat accountable to the governed. There are, as always, exceptions.

      In the last few months, the press has become ‘hyperconnected’, using this extreme connectivity to pierce the veil of secrecy which surrounds the state. The press now uses that same connectivity to distribute those secrets to everyone, everywhere who wants them. The press has suddenly become incredibly powerful, unlike anything ever experienced before.

      WikiLeaks is the press, but not the press as we have known it. This is the press of the 21st century, the press that comes after we’re all connected. Suddenly, all of the friendliest computers have become the deadliest weapons, and we are fenced in, encircled by threats – which are also opportunities.

    • Julian Assange wined and dined at US Embassy

      To the United States, Julian Assange may now be Public Enemy Number One. Some American politicians have even called for his execution.

      But less than a year ago, the founder of WikiLeaks was officially entertained at a US Embassy cocktail party by one of the very diplomats whose secrets he would soon spill to the world.

    • Defenders of WikiLeaks Swarmed Wrong Target

      It is not clear if the mistake first appeared on a blog or flitted around in a Twitter message. But whatever its source, it swept Mark Jeftovic and his company, EasyDNS, into both sides of the storm over corporate support, or the lack thereof, for WikiLeaks.

    • Wikileaks.org domain comes back online, helped by new DNS providers

      Access to Wikileaks.org has returned after members of its consortium worked with Mark Jeftovic, founder of EasyDNS, to help them get their domains back online.

    • WikiLeaks ‘rape’ victims had hidden agendas … and I’ve seen the proof says Julian Assange’s lawyer

      WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange’s lawyer says he has seen secret police documents that prove the whistleblower is innocent of rape claims made against him by two women in Stockholm.

      Björn Hurtig, who is representing Mr Assange in Sweden, said the papers, which form part of the official Swedish investigation, reveal both women had ‘hidden agendas’ and lied about being coerced into having sex with Mr Assange, 39.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • UN: Greenhouse gases at highest level since pre-industrial times

      Concentrations of the main greenhouse gases in the atmosphere have reached their highest level since pre-industrial times, the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) said today.

    • Climate change threat to tropical forests ‘greater than suspected’

      The chances of northern Europe facing a new ice age, or of catastrophic sea-level rises of almost four metres that swamp the planet over the next century, have been ruled out by leading scientists.

      But the risk of tropical forests succumbing to drought brought on by climate change as well as the acceleration of methane emissions from melting permafrost, is greater, according to the Met Office Hadley Centre, in its latest climate change review.

  • Finance

    • 10 Epic Failures of the Bush Tax Cuts

      In a rare moment of candor last week, the third-ranking Republican in the House admitted the failure of the Bush tax cuts. “You know, I think it’s fair to say, if the current tax rates were enough to create jobs and generate economic growth we’d have a growing economy,” Mike Pence acknowledged, adding, “It’s not working now.”

    • Join us at Topshop and make Philip Green pay

      Tomorrow, on high streets across the country, there are likely to be sit-ins in Topshop, blockades of BHS, flash mobs in Dorothy Perkins, and occupations of Miss Selfridge. Why? Because Sir Philip Green, owner of the Arcadia Group of retailers, ninth richest man in Britain and a government adviser, is a tax avoider.

      While Green lives and works in the UK, the Arcadia Group is registered in the name of his wife, Tina, who is resident in Monaco and so enjoys a 0% income-tax rate. In 2005 this arrangement allowed the Greens to bank £1.2bn, the biggest paycheck in British corporate history, without paying a penny in tax. This completely legal dodge cost the British taxpayer £285m, enough to pay the salaries of 9,000 NHS nurses or the £9,000 fees of close to 32,000 students. In an age of austerity, the link between tax avoidance and public sector cuts becomes crystal clear.

    • Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac

      Janet Tavakoli talked about the federal government’s role in regulating Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. She also responded to telephone calls and electronic communications.

    • Subpoena Everything!

      Do not forget: Virtually all the major players who brought us into the crisis are still there: the government officials, the CEOs, the investment bankers. The permanent plutocracy has survived unscathed. At a minimum, American citizens are entitled to know what happened.

    • Madoff son’s suicide followed battle with trustee

      For two years, the two sons of jailed financier Bernard Madoff portrayed themselves as honest whistleblowers of their father’s historic fraud. A court-appointed trustee depicted them as bungling money managers who did nothing to protect investors.

      The suicide of Mark Madoff leaves unanswered questions for investors seeking payback for the billions of dollars his father siphoned – and for criminal investigators who continued to pursue charging Madoff’s family for knowing participation in the fraud.

    • Timeline: Events leading up to Mark Madoff’s death
    • Payroll tax cut worries Social Security advocates

      President Barack Obama’s plan to cut payroll taxes for a year would provide big savings for many workers, but makes Social Security advocates nervous that it could jeopardize the retirement program’s finances.

      The plan is part of a package of tax cuts and extended unemployment benefits that Obama negotiated with Senate Republican leaders. It would cut workers’ share of Social Security taxes by nearly one-third for 2011. Workers making $50,000 in wages would get a $1,000 tax cut; those making $100,000 would get a $2,000 tax cut.

    • Batting Cleanup at Bank of America

      BRIAN MOYNIHAN isn’t one to look back. And as the chief executive of Bank of America, he has plenty of reasons not to.

      His company is staggering under the weight of his predecessors’ decisions, and each day seems to bring more bad news. More than 1.3 million of the bank’s customers are behind on their home loans, all 50 state attorneys general are investigating the industry’s foreclosure practices and Bank of America has become a leading symbol of the mortgage mess.

    • Recovery and Recession at the same time

      Some people are doing fine. Others are barely getting by and still trapped in a deep recession. A 9.8% unemployment rate is unacceptable … something to remember this time of year. Best to all.

    • The Fed? Ron Paul’s Not a Fan.

      Ben S. Bernanke, the chairman of the Federal Reserve, has been attacked for failing to foresee the financial crisis, for bailing out Wall Street, and, most recently, for injecting an additional $600 billion into the banking system to give the slow recovery a boost.

    • A Secretive Banking Elite Rules Trading in Derivatives

      The men share a common goal: to protect the interests of big banks in the vast market for derivatives, one of the most profitable — and controversial — fields in finance. They also share a common secret: The details of their meetings, even their identities, have been strictly confidential.

      Drawn from giants like JPMorgan Chase, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley, the bankers form a powerful committee that helps oversee trading in derivatives, instruments which, like insurance, are used to hedge risk.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • South Korea says Facebook not complying with data privacy laws

      The Korean Communications Commission [official website] generally criticised [ITProPortal report] Facebook’s privacy policy, handling of personal information and the use of personal data of third parties. In particular, Facebook is said to be in breach of Article 22 [text, PDF] of the South Korean Act on Promotion of Information and Communication Network Utilization and Information Protection, which states “If an information and communications service provider intends to gather user personal information, they shall obtain user consent.”

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • Will Comcast Destroy Net Neutrality?

      You’re bored on a cold, rainy Sunday afternoon, so you settle onto your divan and call up a streaming movie on Netflix—Wallace and Gromit: A Matter of Loaf and Death, say. What happens then? You might imagine that the film gets shuttled to your house from a server in Netflix’s California headquarters. If every Netflix customer accessed the same data center, however, it would get overwhelmed with streaming requests and the network along the way would likely become clogged with Netflix traffic. Your movie, meanwhile, would look glitchy and terrible.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • ACS:Law Suffers Embarrassing Copyright Case Failure

        Back in September the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) confirmed that it was investigating a major data breach at ACS:Law, after the unencrypted details of thousands of broadband users, who reportedly signed up to BSkyB services and were thought to be illegally sharing pornography, was leaked on its website. This website is still not operational months later.

        That breach could see the ICO hitting ACS:Law with a maximum penalty of £500,000.

      • Jammie Thomas-Rasset files motion to reduce judgment
      • Thomas-Rasset: I owe nothing; labels seek injunction; court to Nesson: you’re no amicus of mine
      • Warner Bros.’ Newest Consumer Segment: Pirates

        Prosecuting the criminals that steal content is one way of fighting piracy. Over at Warner Bros. (NYSE: TWX), they’re adopting a more opportunistic attitude, closely tracking pirates in hopes of converting them into consumers.

      • ACTA

        • ACTA: Updated Analysis of the Final Version

          Following the release of the final, legally-verified version of ACTA (dated December 3rd), we have updated our analysis of the most worrying provisions of this dangerous anti-counterfeiting agreement.

          By putting legal and monetary pressure on Internet service providers (in a most subtler way than in previous versions of the text), ACTA will give the music and movie industries a weapon to force them to police their networks and users themselves. Such a private police and justice of the Net is incompatible with democratic imperatives and represent a real threat for fundamental freedoms.

Clip of the Day

Konqueror Rocks! on KDE 4.5.1

Credit: TinyOgg

Apple Repeats Old Mistake by Neglecting Execution, Emphasising Patents

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 8:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Steve Wozniak

Summary: Apple’s patent armament is increasing and Wozniak, who recently defended a patent troll from Microsoft, says “we’ve lost a lot of control”

Apple’s co-founder Steve Wozniak says “we’ve lost a lot of control” and he is right. “I didn’t design this computer to make a lot of money,” Wozniak claims despite being an apologist for Traul Allen. Many pundits have pointed out that Apple blew it some decades ago by demanding too much and firming up its grip. It is the sin of Hubris. Apple is doing it again.

Recently we learned that Apple was preparing to sue Motorola — not just HTC — for its hugely popular Linux-powered Android phones. Motorola sued first (allegedly only after a situation similar to Nokia's) and Apple is piling up the patents right now. Apple Insider says that Apple adds 12 more patents to lawsuit against Motorola and Slashgear says is it a “42 patent litigation action” (combining Motorola and HTC).

Holy crap look at all of that legal battle logistic mapping. This is a simplified view of the battles Apple has currently waged against Android phone manufacturers Motorola and HTC. Seems simple, doesn’t it? This is a collection of cases that, with any luck, will be completed in oh, a decade?

For those who do not remember, Apple also invested in Intellectual Ventures, which is suing right now [1, 2]. Previously, Intellectual Ventures gave patents for another firm (also a patent troll) to sue over mobile phones.

Mike Masnick offers background to some of it, having covered the topic quite a lot in the past.

For years, Intellectual Ventures has avoided suing companies directly, while building up a portfolio of tens of thousands of patents (mostly bought — though it likes to get PR from the wacky and usually useless patents it files directly). Its business model, to date, has been about shaking down giant tech companies for hundreds of millions of dollars in exchange for letting those companies use IV’s patent portfolio either defensively or offensively against others. However, as part of an attempt to avoid the dreaded “troll” label, the company had avoided suing others directly for quite some time — though, it’s always hinted that it would eventually. About a year ago, we started to see IV patents showing up in lawsuits, but they had been licensed to other companies first. The notoriously secretive company would never comment on whether or not it had any stake in the results of such lawsuits.

Microsoft helped create Intellectual Ventures because it knew there would be many patent trolls. Intellectual Ventures was supposed to be Microsoft’s solution, but it is not exactly helping because Microsoft has over 50 patent lawsuits against it (at least a year ago). Apple has a similar problem. Some hope that Microsoft and Apple will be sued to the point where they decide that it’s better to just withdraw software patents.

“RCT Expands Patentability for Software” says this new article about RCT vs. Microsoft.

Thankfully, the Federal Circuit is bringing normalcy back to recent statutory subject matter debates for software and business methods in view of Bilski. As we predicted, the case of RCT v. Microsoft is the first case in which the Federal Circuit has spoken substantively about the Supreme Court’s Bilski decision, and the bar of “abstract idea” invalidity has been raised back closer to where it was for the last 10 years after State Street.

The court noted that the Supreme Court, as was urged in AwakenIP’s Amicus Brief, “did not presume to provide a rigid formula or definition for abstractness,” thus “With that guidance, this court also will not presume to define ‘abstract’ beyond the recognition that this disqualifying characteristic should exhibit itself so manifestly as to override the broad statutory categories of eligible subject matter and the statutory context that directs primary attention on the patentability criteria of the rest of the Patent Act.”

Groklaw’s Pamela Jones remarks: “That’s one way to look at it. Another way is to view it that the Federal Circuit can’t seem to get with the Supreme Court’s direction, which is why it keeps knocking them on the head.” There is hope that the i4i case may change this. There is only one party that always — without any exceptions — wins here and that’s patent lawyers.

Eye on Patents: Life-Threatening Patents, EPO Retreats From Patent Monopolies on Biology

Posted in Site News at 7:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: News of interest about patents which refer not to software but to life

Academic Amici Refute ACLU Falsehoods in Gene Patenting Debate

Two academic amici — Robert Cook-Deegan (at right), Research Professor and Director, Center for Public Genomics at Duke University, and Christopher Holman, Ph.D. (Molecular Biology) (below left), Associate Professor of Law, University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law — filed a brief in the AMP v. USPTO (Myriad) appeal that rebuts many of the distorted (albeit emotionally effective) arguments made by plaintiffs and their supporters (specifically, the ACLU and PubPat) against patent-eligibility for human genes.

NIH Won’t Let Others Supply Life Saving Drug Even Though Genzyme Can’t Make Enough (death patents)

Earlier this year, we wrote about the situation with a petition to the National Institute of Health (NIH) to let other companies produce Fabrazyme, a drug that treats Fabry disease. Fabry disease is an enzyme deficiency that can create very serious problems in those who have it — including kidney failure and heart attacks. Genzyme holds the patent on Fabrazyme, but has a problem: it can’t produce enough of the drug. That means people die. A group of Fabry patients petitioned the NIH to see if other companies could be allowed to produce just a little more Fabrazyme. They didn’t ask to break the patent. All they wanted was to let others make the drug, and pay Genzyme a royalty. On top of this, it’s worth noting that the key research for the development for Fabrazyme wasn’t actually done by Genzyme, but was done by the Mount Sinai School of Medicine and was financed with taxpayer money from the NIH.

EU and India resolve dispute over generic drugs (De Gucht strikes again)

The European Union and India said on Friday they had resolved a dispute over generic drugs in which was referred to the World Trade Organisation last year. Indian Trade and Industry Minister Anand Sharma told Reuters the EU’s trade chief, Karel De Gucht, had told Indian negotiators during an EU-India summit that the issue had been resolved, and De Gucht confirmed the agreement.

“This is a great breakthrough which will of course lead to a suspension of WTO procedings. So the dispute is over,” said Sharma.

India and Brazil brought a case to the WTO in 2009 saying that the EU was wrongly stopping and inspecting shipments of generic drugs in transit. While the EU and India have settled, the EU must still negotiate with Brazil.

Some Processes For Plant Production Banned From Patentability In Europe (IP Watch on the EPO press release which can be found here)

The European Patent Office Enlarged Board of Appeal yesterday gave its decision on the so-called “broccoli” and “tomato” cases, and excluded “essentially biological processes for the production of plans (or animals)” from patentability.

The Board concluded that “while technical devices or means, such as genetic markers, may themselves be patentable inventions, their use does not make an essentially biological process patentable.”

Chronology of Techrights Focus and Plans for 2011

Posted in Boycott Novell, Site News at 7:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Phone and woman

Summary: Quick roundup of where Techrights has been and where it is going

IN 2006 we were focused almost solely on Novell.

In 2007 Microsoft started using the Novell deal to issue patent threats against GNu/Linux, so we focused a great deal on the subject.

2008 was year so full of Microsoft scandals (notably OOXML), so we put great emphasis on it, in addition to the above.

In 2009 we began digging up Comes vs Microsoft exhibits again, putting out there leaks of confidential items of interest. In addition, we began looking a lot more closely at Microsoft news (since around October 2008).

“2008 was year so full of Microsoft scandals (notably OOXML), so we put great emphasis on it, in addition to the above.”2010 no longer dealt with Comes vs Microsoft exhibits but instead it focused on Novell’s sale, Microsoft’s misconduct, Microsoft’s ongoing demise, and a variety of Free software matters with the usual emphasis on software patents, which are considered by some to be the #1 issue. Microsoft is gradually losing news presence; instead, it has court presence. Rather than new products it has new patents (or patent trolls).

Towards the beginning of 2011 it becomes clear that Apple got bigger (in some sense) than Microsoft, Android inherits the mobile market (but impedes freedom in various ways), and there are patent lawsuits from the likes of Apple and Oracle, both targeting Free software. The plan is therefore to concentrate more on the patent issue (including AttachMSFT, a post-Novell incarnation). In addition, as real digital rights (privacy, neutrality, free speech, etc.) are being taken away and computer users are therefore increasingly repressed, Techrights will spend more time debating the issues. The threats to freedom never ever went away (it’s a perpetual struggle against centralisation and abuse of power), but one can adjust to them for a response to be better targeted. Our focus on Wikileaks as of late is not a distraction. It has so much to do with people’s (tech) rights on the Web and in general, even offline. “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it,” said George Santayana and “[v]alue your freedom or you will lose it, teaches history,” stressed Richard Stallman. A few months ago he said, “I often get tired, but I don’t stop.” Neither should any of us; the loss of one’s freedom is a lot more agonising.

Red Hat Pushes for Patent Reform While Microsoft Patent Trolls Are Suing, Sometimes Losing

Posted in Microsoft, Patents, Red Hat at 6:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: As expected, Microsoft offsprings (sometimes offshoots funded by Microsoft) go after Microsoft’s competitors using software patents while Linux leader Red Hat asks SCOTUS for help

FREE software faces some obstacles due to patent trolls, who statistically thrive in software patents. Microsoft recently got a deal with Acacia and ACCESS [1, 2, 3, 4], just around the same time that Red Hat signed an NDA with Acacia, as last mentioned in here (Spanish version also available).

In order to harm Free software Microsoft needs only to elevate its cost, which harms redistribution rights. The NDA with Red Hat is quite likely to have been such a case and given Microsoft’s connections with Acacia, this oughtn’t be ignored.

“Red Hat Joins Brief Filed with U.S. Supreme Court Opposing Expansion of Standard for Inducing Patent Infringement” says this new page adjacent to a press release which was followed by some press coverage:

Tuesday, Red Hat, Inc. (RHT), the world’s largest seller of linux software, said it has joined a writ filed with the U.S. Supreme Court seeking correction of the standard for abetting patent infringements.


Rob Tiller, Red Hat’s assistant general counsel for IP, said the problems of bad software patents is aggravated by the Federal Court’s decision.

More press coverage can be found in the press near Red Hat’s headquarters/centre of operation (which is reportedly going to move, maybe even outside the United States where software patents are out of control). “Red Hat joins battle against patent case at Supreme Court” says this headline.

Red Hat (NYSE: RHT) and several other technology firms have weighed into a Supreme Court battle over a lower court ruling that they believe “threatens to expand patent litigation.”

The “friend of the court” brief argues that parties with direct knowledge of a “specific patent at issue and covers the alleged infringing activity” are liable.

It is possible that after the i4i case escalating to a decision in SCOTUS there will no longer be a great threat to Red Hat’s business. There is also the Research Corp. v. Microsoft case which Patenly-O reports on:

There are three articulated exceptions to the scope of patentable subject matter under 35 U.S.C. § 101: laws of nature, physical phenomena, and abstract ideas. Research Corp. v. Microsoft places a high hurdle in front of challengers who seek to invalidate process patents on the third ground.

As we stressed last week, Microsoft is running out of viable products and it is increasingly becoming a patent troll in some areas of operation. Extensive use of patents is a symptom of dying companies and Nortel is the latest example of this. Previous examples were Sun and Novell. Even “Kodak becomes a patent troll” according to the FFII’s president’s interpretation of this article. We wrote about Kodak in the context of patents several times before [1, 2, 3, 4]. Companies turn to patents only when they lose. Watch Rambus getting called a “troll” for example:

PATENT TROLL Rambus has leveled a fresh complaint against its competitors.

For background also see [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9].

It is important to remember that Microsoft need not sue its rivals for alleged patent violations directly. Microsoft is breeding major patent trolls, including Traul Allen with Interval, which allegedly got its lawsuit against the entire industry (except Microsoft) dismissed. [via]

Paul Allen’s patent infringement complaint against the world and its dog has been dismissed.

The court agreed with Google et al that it “lacks adequate factual detail to satisfy the dictates of Twombly and Iqbal” and also “fails to provide sufficient factual detail as suggested by Form 18″. The court doesn’t agree with Allen’s Interval Licensing that the two cases do not apply to patent complaints, but it doesn’t even need to go there: “The Court does not find it necessary to determine whether Form 18 is no longer adequate under Twombly and Iqbal because Plaintiff’s complaint fails to satisfy either the Supreme Court’s interpretation of Rule 8 or Form 18.”

Pamela Jones seems like the only person to have reached this conclusion, which Glyn Moody doubts due to insufficient evidence. Groklaw also said that SCO was over on many occasions since 2007, but when Jones said so she did not mean it in the technical sense. “Merry Troll Christmas, legal eagles,” she exclaims regarding the Traul Allen case. We shall wait and see if the corporate news can confirm this.

In other news, Slashdot’s summary says that Microsoft’s “World’s Largest Patent Troll Fires First Salvo”:

“Yesterday the biggest software patent troll of all finally woke from its slumbers: Intellectual Ventures filed patent infringement complaints in the US District Court of Delaware against companies in the software security, DRAM and Flash memory, and field-programmable gate array industries. Intellectual Ventures was co-founded by Microsoft’s former CTO Nathan Myhrvold, with others from Intel and a Seattle-based law firm.”

We wrote about it some days ago and so did Jones, who added: “What a surprise. Microsoft competitors getting knee capped.” It is now covered in very many sites, e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11]. Well, ‘companies’ like that should not be allowed to exist in a sane system so “to Übertroll Intellectual Ventures,” writes Glyn Moody, “I say: bring it on”. He hopes they’ll show how broken the system really is:

This harping on “invention” and “innovation” is rather misleading. As far as I can tell, it doesn’t really invent anything for the purpose of commercialisation, manufacture or sale: it just comes up with ideas and applies for patents on them (or buys patents from others). Its business model is founded on amassing a huge collection of patents, and then getting companies to licence them – whether they want to or not – because their inventions are or may be “infringing” according to Intellectual Ventures.

It’s clear from this that the real invention is done by other companies who devise things they want to sell; IV, by contrast, thrives by exacting a tax on innovation done elsewhere. It can do that because of the flawed US patent system, which does not allow independent invention as a defence against allegations of infringement. That is, even though you provably didn’t “steal” another company’s idea, but came up with it on your own, if someone else patented it – or something similar enough – first you still have to pay for the “right” to use your own invention.

Of course, this is absurd: the whole premise of the patent system is that it should encourage as many people as possible to innovate, but this aspect actually punishes it, because it makes independent research vulnerable to this kind of penalty. That means companies will be less inclined to invest in research if they think there’s a chance they may get scooped in filing for the result – something that’s hard to tell in advance. Moreover, with the growth of ever-vaster patent thickets, it is increasingly difficult to come up with any new product that does not touch on one or more existing patents, especially when they are framed as vaguely as possible precisely for that purpose.

What makes Intellectual Ventures different from all the other patent trolls that live off others’ work is the scale of its operations. Nobody really knows the extent of its holdings, but the consensus is that we are talking about over 30,000 patents – an extraordinary number of government-granted intellectual monopolies.


I do so, because it could well be the coup de grace for the dysfunctional US patent edifice, already tottering. It would cause so many companies to turn against Intellectual Ventures, and rightly to blame the patent system that allows IV to exist, that real reform might at last be possible.

Facebook’s founder was reportedly hanging out with Intellectual Ventures’ founder whilst also buying extra patents from dead/dying companies and using software patents aggressively. Now that Facebook is being sued for patent infringement (again) it deserves no sympathy.

A little-known San Antonio software developer has filed a patent-infringement suit against social networking giant Facebook Inc.

Will Facebook turn to its buddy Nathan Myhrvold? Facebook is very close to Microsoft.

Cablegate Reveals Government Requesting Access to Microsoft Data, Kill Switches

Posted in Microsoft, Security at 5:32 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

White House

Summary: Despite the fact that only a fraction of Cablegate has yet been released, new evidence already surfaces about the US government’s concern (and role) in the seemingly-private computer industry

“Cablegate” is one of the reasons we have not posted so much this month. Personally I have posted over a thousand links/dents about it in the past week alone. The threat to Wikileaks is a threat to all of us who leak documents that serve as evidence of misconduct. Techrights did this many times before, so it’s important to defend the practice.

One of the most major (and first) revelations coming out of Cablegate is to do with fear of Iran’s nuclear programme. Given what can be found in Cablegate (not to mention brutal retaliation against Wikileaks), it is clear that the US government goes very far to get its way. Earlier this year we covered Stuxnet on many occasions as people raised suspicions that Stuxnet had something to do with governments and secret services. Experts who suggested this were not obscure people; some were well regarded in their field. As a roundup of Stuxnet posts consider:

  1. Ralph Langner Says Windows Malware Possibly Designed to Derail Iran’s Nuclear Programme
  2. Windows Viruses Can be Politically Motivated Sometimes
  3. Who Needs Windows Back Doors When It’s So Insecure?
  4. Windows Insecurity Becomes a Political Issue
  5. Windows, Stuxnet, and Public Stoning
  6. Stuxnet Grows Beyond Siemens-Windows Infections
  7. Has BP Already Abandoned Windows?
  8. Reports: Apple to Charge for (Security) Updates
  9. Windows Viruses Can be Politically Motivated Sometimes
  10. New Flaw in Windows Facilitates More DDOS Attacks
  11. Siemens is Bad for Industry, Partly Due to Microsoft
  12. Microsoft Security Issues in The British Press, Vista and Vista 7 No Panacea
  13. Microsoft’s Negligence in Patching (Worst Amongst All Companies) to Blame for Stuxnet
  14. Microsoft Software: a Darwin Test for Incompetence
  15. Bad September for Microsoft Security, Symantec Buyout Rumours
  16. Microsoft Claims Credit for Failing in Security
  17. Many Windows Servers Being Abandoned; Minnesota Goes the Opposite Direction by Giving Microsoft Its Data
  18. Windows Users Still Under Attack From Stuxnet, Halo, and Zeus
  19. Security Propaganda From Microsoft: Villains Become Heroes
  20. Security Problems in iOS and Windows
  21. Eye on Security: BBC Propaganda, Rootkits, and Stuxnet in Iran’s Nuclear Facilities
  22. Eye on Security: ClamAV Says Windows is a Virus, Microsoft Compromises Mac OS X, and Stuxnet Runs Wild
  23. Windows Kernel Vulnerability for Thanksgiving, Insecurity Used for Surveillance Again

“Stuxnet Still Out of Control At Iran Nuclear Sites” summarises Slashdot which says:

“Iran’s nuclear program is still in chaos despite its leaders’ adamant claim that they have contained the computer worm that attacked their facilities, cybersecurity experts in the US and Europe say. Last week President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, after months of denials, admitted that the worm had penetrated Iran’s nuclear sites, but he said it was detected and controlled. The second part of that claim, experts say, doesn’t ring true. Owners of several security sites have discovered huge bumps in traffic from Iran, as the country tries to deal with Stuxnet. ‘Our traffic from Iran has really spiked,’ said a corporate officer who asked that neither he nor his company be named. ‘Iran now represents 14.9 percent of total traffic, surpassing the United States with a total of 12.1 percent.’”

The original article comes from The Atlantic and says that “Stuxnet Disrupted Iranian Centrifuges”:

Malicious software apparently designed to disrupt the Iranian nuclear program was able to do just that, Iran’s president acknowledged today. Security researchers found that the Stuxnet worm could insinuate itself into industrial control systems — and if it found a particular brand and arrangement of motor controllers would begin a long-term sabotage program. Now, in the wake of the apparent assassination of an Iranian nuclear scientist, Mahmoud Ahmadinejad acknowledged that Stuxnet did hit his country’s centrifuge facility, though he downplayed its impact.

Techrights does not deal directly with politics, so staying more focused on technical aspects of this, what are the chances of targeted attacks? This needn’t imply that Stuxnet was created by governments as some people allege. Either way, in the wake of Cablegate, it is unreasonable to rule out anything for which there is evidence.

In a new cable which goes back to 2004 it emerges that Microsoft produced code which would put a “black screen” on any computer running Windows upon some trigger invocation (e.g. war, not just counterfeiting). Some would call it a “kill switch”. What’s interesting here is that it took years for people to actually discover what black screens of death truly are. That’s how secretive it was. This enabled control from the outside. To quote a relevant part of this newly-released cable:

¶8. (C) According to another well-respected tech sector
analyst here, a number of historical, cultural, and
technological factors have coalesced to put China in a
technologically-aggressive state-of-mind. One contributing
factor was Microsoft’s flubbed 2004 strategy
to deter intellectual property theft by darkening computer
monitors running unlicensed Windows operating software. This
consultant believes that example of U.S. technology
effectively wielding power over China’s personal computers
helped spur China’s aggressive campaign for source codes and
its own technology. This, combined with growing Chinese
pride, economic clout and influence, and the “weakened”
position of the U.S. and its allies after the global economic
downturn, are emboldening the Chinese to take ever more
aggressive positions in advancing its innovative industries
at the expense of foreign ones.

¶9. (C) A local Microsoft executive applauds the Secretary’s
speech and the Administration’s commitment “to organize
sustained, targeted, persistent engagement on the full range
of Internet-related issues” with China. This executive said
the Secretary’s remarks were “right on point,” particularly
for companies who “desperately need the help of the USG” in
the face of “harassment, threats and actual shutdowns of
service, threats of licenses being revoked, resistance to
provide legal authority, mandates to place servers in China,
etc.” Our local APCO contact described the Google issue as a
“stirring of the beehive,” but says the kind of harassment
Microsoft describes is a fact of worsening life here which

But wait. It gets worse. Not only remote control of people’s machines (in another country) is a feature to the US government and other governments. They also gather people’s data as this other new cable reveals:

¶12. (U) Assisting Brazil in creating legislation to counter
cybercrimes, including online child pornography and tracking
of sex offenders, represents another potential area of
cooperation on law enforcement matters. Brazil lacks
cybercrime laws and the Congress has opened a Parliamentary
Committee of Inquiry (CPI) to look at the issue and come up
with draft legislation. As part of the CPI’s work, the CPI
was able to obtain over 3,000 Google records of identified
child pornography that had been distributed on the Internet
from Brazil. The chairman of the CPI has voiced his concern
about, in his view, inadequate cooperation from Google and
its subsidiary Orkut, a relationship site. Google, Orkut,
Microsoft, and all other Internet service providers are
required to report the discovery of child pornography on the
Internet and DHS/ICE has established a mechanism to have
access to this information which has been reported. DHS/ICE
has already initiated the practice of sharing this
information with Brazilian Federal Police. Related to the
CPI, its Chairman has made inquiries to the Mission on the
case of DHS/ICE Deportation officer accused of child
exploitation at a hotel in Brazil. The U.S. is seeking the
toughest penalty possible, whether in Brazil or the U.S., and
is fully cooperating with Brazilian authorities.

Only about 0.5% of the cables have been released so far, so there is a lot more coming, also about companies like Microsoft. Microsoft's eGovernment lobbyist Anke Domscheit-Berg has praised Wikileaks, but that was before Cablegate, i.e. when mostly information about crimes and wars was released.

The cables above ought to teach why Free software is essential to people’s independence and countries’ autonomy. By controlling information and software one controls almost everything and the latest developments around ACTA, TSA, and COICA law show that the government wants more control over people. It will change the law if necessary, in order to ensure continued domination over an increasingly upset population.

Access to personal data and ‘jailing’ of people inside devices is a threat to the hacker culture (which Wikileaks thrives in) and even just to control over one’s life. In separate news, “Apple quietly drops iOS jailbreak detection API” and Google’s Chrome OS seems like somewhat of a jail rather than a GNU/Linux distribution. About Apple we learn that:

Apple has disabled, without explanation, a jailbreak detection API in iOS less than six months after introducing it. Device management vendors say the reasons for the decision are a mystery, but insist they can use alternatives to discover if an iPhone, iPod touch or iPad has been modified so they can load and modify applications outside of Apple’s iTunes-based App Store.

Nobody should need to ‘jailbreak’ a device in the first place.

Software freedom is not just about power (to the user). It’s about control of one’s own destiny and if society is indeed closing down and repressing the population, then now more than ever people and their governments should migrate away from proprietary software.

Mono Lie of the Week: AttachMSFT’s Banshee is Safe

Posted in Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 4:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cooling tower world map

Summary: Banshee, which is copyrighted by Novell (now AttachMSFT [sic]), is still a threat to GNU/Linux distributions, despite misdirection attempts from Mono boosters

Bullying of Mono critics in sites like Reddit is the modus operandi of some Novell employees, who got it under control as far as disinformation and misdirection are concerned (they have big numbers and a paycheque). Novell is now AttachMSFT, with even many of its own patents sold to Microsoft.

One of the latest patterns of disinformation from Mono boosters is that the FSF's warning does not apply to AttachMSFT’s very own Banshee, which Ubuntu is adding to its next release as we covered in:

Jason from The Source has just done some good work explaining why Banshee is not safe for use, despite the noise generated by Novell employees in Reddit.

That’s right 281 files use non-standardized .NET namespaces not covered by ECMA or the Microsoft Community Promise. Out of 1240 C# source files. 22%, just short of a quarter, of all the C# source files in Banshee require non-standardized .NET namespaces.

When Team Apologista tries to talk down the importance of the non-ECMA namespaces, or when they try to suggest that while the Mono project proper might not split into safe and un-safe portions, but packagers for most major distributions do, keep Banshee in mind as an example.

A final note

The rest of Mr. Peko’s response and his many other responses in that Reddit thread are filled with a veritable cornucopia of factual and logical errors, I won’t bother with tediously dissecting them here (mainly because I think they are transparent to any honest reader), but I did want to mention it lest someone think this gross factual inaccuracy be the only failing.

A final final note

I guess I need to specifically point out that I am using the latest public release of code at the time of writing (1.8.0) as available from the Banshee “download” page. Apparently, the git version of Banshee has removed System.Data dependencies.

If Banshee is able to remove all non-standardized namespaces, then that does remove one point of criticism against it. We will see how it looks whenever a new public release is made.

“Unsafe At Any Speed” Jason calls Mono in this followup post and he explains why:

Just a follow up expanding on the recent Banshee/ECMA stuff. Warning: long stretches of file lists within!

You’ll often hear Team Apologista (when cornered) say something like: “Maybe not all of Mono is covered by the ECMA standard, but all the bits used in Linux programs are.” (Here’s just one example from the recent Reddit thread, but like all Team Apologista arguments, you’ll see a similar talking point repeatedly.)

Now of course, we know that is simply not true – System.Data was used in Banshee at least until very recently, but let’s dive deeper.



* Banshee: 165 refs (and 1 Microsoft refs for giggles)
* Tomboy: 36 refs
* F-Spot: 131 refs
* Do: 56 refs
* Gbrainy: 31 refs

So, that’s the 5 most popular (give-or-take) Mono applications for Linux. Not a single one of which doesn’t have a significant amount of references to non-ECMA namespaces. As the Microsoft Community Promise covering any implementation is limited to the “extent it conforms to one of the Covered Specifications”, we can reject the claim that “All of the pieces of Mono that are used in Linux apps are covered by the MCP.”

It still saddens us that OMG!Ubuntu is boosting Banshee, despite known problems. Without scepticism everyone is left vulnerable to Microsoft’s attacks.

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