“What we’re seeing though now can be loosely described as patent terrorism, where people are using their patent horde as a threat [...] It’s almost like a cold war stand over tactic; where I have these patents and if you breach these patents, I’m going to come after you and sue you.”
–James Eagleton, systems product manager for Sun Microsystems
Summary: The Open Invention Network (OIN) gets the Document Foundation as a licensee; other patent news of interest
THE Document Foundation (TDF) and LibreOffice were covered here a couple of times before and this whole initiative does pretty well so far. Oracle is already in the OIN and following advice from Groklaw — although probably not related to it — TDF is joining too and makes this announcement:
The Document Foundation has joined the Open Invention Network (OIN), to further extend the free software ecosystems. By becoming a licensee, The Document Foundation – developer of LibreOffice, a free office suite for personal and corporate productivity – has joined the growing list of organizations that recognize the importance of participating in the Open Invention Network, in order to protect the free software ecosystem from the risks associated to software patents.“The Document Foundation is a major free software project, and LibreOffice a key office suite for creating, managing and sharing documents. By becoming a licensee of the Open Invention Network, we fight software patents – which stifle innovation and encourage predatory business practices – and at the same time we improve the protection of our software projects,” said Charles Schulz, Member of TDF Steering Committee.
OnLive may not be offering a wide range of games at the moment, but the technology behind the service has proven impressive. The company now has another powerful weapon in its arsenal, as a patent on cloud-based gaming and the streaming of content has been granted to Steve Perlman, OnLive’s CEO.
Patents are a tax which is benefiting trolls and lawyers the most; can they be eliminated also for the sake of software Freedom? It’s Microsoft’s last resort now that it accepts more Office counterfeiting and sues companies using patents. █
“Search engines be da**ed, it’s the OS that generates money – if the world switches to linux, it will switch to OpenOffice too.”
Summary: The Foundation for a Free Information Infrastructure (FFII) and Openforum Europe (OFE) add their own interpretations of EIFv2
DURING the weekend we attempted to put together all the notable feedback to EIFv2 [1, 2] (also in Spanish), which was just debated by a lot of people in Identi.ca shortly after it had been released. A day or so later (after some reading and consultation) came formal statements and most of them are positive on the face of it.
#FSFE also positive about European Interoperability Framework
“So far only a single EIF “troll” + American stakeholders,” FFII wrote to Dana Blankenhorn, “apparently less relevant for European interoperability.” Here is the FFII’s own press release which starts as follows:
The European Commission adopted a communication “Towards interoperability for European public services”, introducing the second incarnation of the European Interoperability Framework (EIF) and the European Interoperability Strategy (EIS) . This week the Commission also published fresh Horizontal Guidelines  which bloc-exempt patent cartels from competition enforcement.
“The European Interoperability Framework is a legend. It’s hard, indeed, to make impact that compares with the first EIF. Unfortunately the lobby watered European interoperability enforcement down. It’s amazing that EU-Commissioner Šefčovič overcame indecision, and presents their ‘wet’ documents.”, says FFII Vice-President Rene Mages.
OFE Press Release – After over two years of controversial debate and under intense scrutiny from the information and communication technology (ICT) industry, the European Commission has shown courage by adopting a bold set of guidelines to help national, regional and local governments throughout the European Union make their computer systems all work properly together.
The European Interoperability Framework (EIF) adopted by the Commission on Thursday is a landmark policy document because it attempts to draw a line under the accepted practices of the past and the present, and it ushers in a new era where governments can be contacted by their citizens and by each other without having to buy the same brand of software.
On the 16th of December 2010, the European Commission has adopted the Communication “Towards interoperability for European public services”, to establish a common approach for Member States public administrations, to help citizens and businesses to profit fully from the EU’s Single Market.
Since it’s a European thing there’s not much room for more responses from other not-for-profit organisations. █
Intel’s new Sandy Bridge processors have a new feature that the chip giant is calling Anti-Theft 3.0. The processor can be disabled even if the computer has no Internet connection or isn’t even turned on, over a 3G network. With Intel anti-theft technology built into Sandy Bridge, David Allen, director of distribution sales at Intel North America, told ITBusiness that users have the option to set up their processor so that if their computer is lost or stolen, it can be shut down remotely.
For those who want to protect their computers from thieves, the ability to remotely disable them sounds great. We’re not sure the CPU is the component that should be targeted though. While a given stolen netbook, laptop, or desktop can no longer be turned on if Intel’s new kill switch is flipped, there’s nothing stopping the thief from taking out the HDD and putting it in another computer. As a result, you’ve only slightly slowed the criminal down and haven’t really managed to ensure your sensitive data is protected.
Summary: Leaked diplomatic cables from Brazil show what Microsoft is up to around the school system which embraces GNU/Linux, affecting over 50 million children
ONE of the latest cables to be redacted and released is from Consulate of Sao Paulo and further down it states (“Microsoft” capitalised for emphasis):
¶21. Secretary Gutierrez next visited a branch of the National Commercial Apprenticeship Service (SENAC). SENAC is a University system begun in 1946 with the support of different Federations of Industry, including FIESP, which wanted to begin a system of schools that would increase the country’s stock of technically trained students. SENAC has 56 units in Sao Paulo State alone. The Secretary, Consul General, and Senior Commercial Officer were SIPDIS greeted by Joao Kulcsar, Director of the U.S. Study Center; Abram Szajman, President of SENAC and of the Federation of Commerce for Sco Paulo; and Emelio Umeoka, President of MICROSOFT. The group toured SENAC’s library, where they were given an overview of SENAC’s activities and resources, and then went across campus to MICROSOFT’s Center of Innovation learning center. Umeoka provided an overview of MICROSOFT’s investment in youth education and the goals of the Innovation Center, as well as a summary of other MICROSOFT corporate responsibility programs in Brazil. Following a photo with some of the Center’s students, the Secretary and others were escorted to a classroom, where they spent 30 minutes speaking to twelve students in a roundtable format about their different classes, incubator businesses, and hopes for future employment. A brief interview with SENAC’s internal television station followed, and Szajman and Umeoka and other SENAC representatives took their leave of the Secretary and his delegation.
This is very relevant to us because on many occasions before we have shown that Microsoft is trying to take schools in Brazil away from GNU/Linux and free/libre software. See for example:
Do not let Microsoft hijack the minds of Brazilian children, who are tomorrow’s generation of leaders. Regarding Microsoft’s destructive hijack of Yahoo!, for example, Groklaw wrote some days ago: “So what are you trying to say? That partnering with Microsoft doesn’t pay off or something?”
Pay attention to it to avoid repeating the mistakes of others, including OLPC. The expert when it comes to abducting national education systems is the Gates Foundation.
The Humble Indie Bundle #2 just came out three days ago with the Braid, Cortex Command, Mechanarium, Osmos, and Revenge of the Titans games for Linux, Windows, and Mac OS X operating systems. Like the original Humble Indie Bundle, you pay what you want. While this unique game offering has just been going on for three days, the developers have already raked in more than $900,000 USD. At the time of writing they have banked away $911,134.35 and it looks like over the weekend they should exceed $1 million USD.
Just like in last year’s Humble Bundle, GNU/Linux users are the most generous (or maybe richest). This also shows that money can be made by sharing. █
Summary: Apple’s cultural grip is expended with help from the Canadian government, which ought to reassess its commitment to Canadian sovereignty
Canadian politics have been a stormy turf recently. With the G20 fiasco pretty much revived, Hollywood trying to rewrite copyright law in Canada, and also a tough debate around the Internet, it becomes clear that Techrights will dedicate more time to covering degradation of rights in the largest American nation. “Canada spends tax dollars promoting Apple” claims this famous Canadian blog, stating:
George W. Harper’s weenies are spending God knows how many thousands of tax dollars contributed by hard-pressed Canadians, and blowing how many man-and-women hours on promoting a pure-and-simple Apple commercial product?
This is not entirely shocking, neither is it acceptable because Apple is a proprietary software company from a foreign country. More interestingly, however, should Canadian politicians start charging Apple royalties for free endorsement in phrases like “iPod tax”? How come Canadians use this phrase? Watch the images where Apple brands are being promoted in Canada, going under matching descriptions which name only the hypePod. From Professor Geist:
Earlier today I walked a few blocks from my office to Ottawa’s Rideau Centre to attend a press conference with Industry Minister Tony Clement and Canadian Heritage Minister James Moore, who promised an important announcement. The two ministers stood in front of an HMV and a group of students wearing t-shirts with No iPod tax logos on the back to declare that they were firmly set against a massive new tax on technology for all the holiday shoppers in the mall. The Ministers claimed that all three opposition parties supported a tax of up to $75, which (reminiscent of the Dion “tax on everything” campaign) would apply to all technology devices and even cars.
There is more to portable media players than hypePod. And by the way, it is amazing that James Moore is still in the government given the notoriety he earned. Cablegate is guaranteed to shed more light on the outrageous copyright lawmaking in Canada, just as it did in Spain. Only a fraction of the cables was redacted and released thus far. █
Summary: New Microsoft study indicates that Windows — not applications for Windows — contains what’s needed for malware to run
Fake disk defraggers are one new form of threat to Windows users, who are of course forced to use a deficient file system such a long time after its inception. But the more noteworthy news is this piece from Glyn Moody where Microsoft gets ‘owned’ using its own ‘studies’:
This makes it clear that we are talking about code that is downloaded and then executed. According to the report, all the tests were carried out on a Windows 7 system. So in other words, we are talking about Windows malware. The undoubtedly thorough tests in the present report simply underline the huge scale of the Windows malware problem, and hints at the considerable costs it imposes on users, businesses and the economy as a result. What emerges from this test, then, is that Internet Explorer is better at solving problems of Microsoft’s own making than third parties without direct access to the Windows code and its flaws.
Frankly, I would expect no less: it is Microsoft’s responsibility to sort out these weaknesses in its own software, and if it produced a browser that exacerbated the problem it would be doubly culpable. But for a really fair test, what we would need to see would be Firefox running on a GNU/Linux system, Safari running on a Mac box and Chrome on ChromeOS, and then to compare those systems with Microsoft’s own combo of Internet Explorer and Windows. I’m pretty sure that Internet Explorer would not emerge as such a star in these circumstances.
But failing that kind of comparison, what the report’s test shows is quite simple: that irrespective of which browser you use, you really shouldn’t be running Windows at all if you want to minimise your exposure to malware.
Why use Vista 7 then? No point to it if one wishes to use applications like Firefox. GNU/Linux on the desktop is really painless these days. For reasons of security (Windows slowed down due to malware) I’ve moved people to GNU/Linux and they never complain. Microsoft understands that and it’s probably why even operating systems like Chrome OS are a real threat to Windows. For the sake of security it also makes some design improvements or compromises (a double-edge sword). We’ll soon post a lot of news about Windows security. █
Development work towards the major Clutter 1.6 stable release has been progressing nicely within the Clutter 1.5 development branch. These recent development snapshots have brought performance improvements, a GLSL generation back-end, greater usage of OpenGL FBOs, new API functionality, and even a Clutter Wayland back-end. A new development release of Clutter (v1.5.10) is now here and it brings an evdev input back-end.
What good is an evdev input back-end for Clutter? Well, this provides support for input devices on Linux when using EGL-based back-ends rather than just a traditional X Server, etc.
“DBX big dock” pack is a DockBarX theme package especially created for those that use DockBarX with Avant Window Navigator and comes with updated “Unite” themes (Unite_v and Unite_h) with new blink attenton effects as well as versions for these themes without backgrounds and bigger icons for Faenza icon theme users (the themes are called Faenza_Unite_v and Faenza_Unite_h). The pack also includes a mod of the DockBarX “dock” theme with nice colors and attention effects.
In the past eight years or so, Gnome Desktop enjoyed more or less small yet steady improvements that have brought it to where it is now—IMHO one of the best desktop environments. However, along with the side push from the over-hyped release of KDE4, there has been a growing number of people who wished for a major change, instead of steady improvement. Their efforts are to be realized in GNOME 3 which will most likely be in Fedora 15. Let alone, for now, the tiny problem that this messes up my workflow in a way that it is much less efficient albeit much more eye-candy-ish. That’s not the point of today’s post. Today I want to focus on the problem of visual identity.
XBMC 10 “Dharma” is released, this new release comes with many new features and support to many new media formats, now XBMC play all of the current media formats available, including the new WebM/VP8 codec that is the latest buzz. Hardware acceleration has been added in windows (Vista or 7) via DXVA2, CrystalHD has been added for all platforms (best supported in OSX and Linux), VDPAU support has been improved in Linux, and VAAPI support has been added for the hardware that supports it in Linux. This new version comes also with 11 different skins , all with distinct looks and personalities. There are far too many improvements to list here, so check out the changelog for a full list.
Physicists have stored information for nearly two minutes inside the magnetic spins of atomic nuclei, producing the longest-lasting spintronic device yet and what could be the world’s tiniest computer memory.
Anonymous is not making zombie armies, they make their protests with their own computers. They are not very anonymous either, as evidenced by the kids who have been caught. As in Gandhi’s time, public awareness can be raised by arrested protesters. Peaceful protest succeeds by making the population aware of injustice. Isn’t it ironic that Anonymous is not engaged in illegal “cracking,” unlike the authoritarian DDoS attacks illegally targetting WikiLeaks.
The concept of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks finally entered the mainstream public consciousness this month after assaults on the websites of Visa, MasterCard and PayPal made front page news.
A 37-year-old former Transportation Security Administration officer has been sentenced to three years’ probation for stealing laptop computers from passengers’ luggage at Philadelphia International Airport.
Many intelligent women (including the European group Women Against Rape and one of my favorite bloggers, Furry Girl) recognize the pursuit of Julian Assange for what it is: A politically-motivated persecution of a man who embarrassed several of the most powerful governments on Earth, using rape as an excuse in order to win the support of silly, gullible women (including, apparently, a number of the staff at Jezebel). As Katrin Axelsson points out in the linked Women Against Rape article, this is no different from the old Southern practice of lynching uppity black men for looking at white women. It’s not a defense of women, but rather an exploitation.
Sites have been removed by their hosting companies, servers seized by police or other governmental authorities, take-down requests issued under the rule of law: none of these prevented information spreading.
But the issues run deeper than this. As former US president Thomas Jefferson once stated, “information is the currency of democracy”. Democracy – the rule of the people – as currently understood and practiced is, and has long been, severely restricted.
Power is abused in our name by governments and transnational corporations around the world: they fight illegal wars; abuse and kill people; pillage property and planet. The powerful accumulate wealth and force the majority – the rest of us – to pay for it: with our health, our freedom, our time, our money and with our lives. For a long time, we have been deceived about the reasons for this: it is our right for the truth to be known. Without that right, democracy cannot and does not exist. The current assault on WikiLeaks is yet another instance of democracy-hating by elites.
Back in more innocent times, in January of this year, Hillary Clinton gave a speech at the Newseum (a 250,000-square foot monument to media complacency) in which she introduced the concept of “21st Century Statecraft” – a term referring to the recent State Department push for the use of social and new media for diplomatic and geopolitical ends. In this speech she affirmed the US’s commitment to the “principles of internet freedom”, a new Human Right for the 21st Century. Clinton waxed lyrical about the ethical, financial, political and practical reasons why freedom of access and use of the internet should be considered an absolute right – noting that America “stand[s] for a single internet where all of humanity has equal access to knowledge and ideas”. The State Department, it seemed, was committed to a comprehensive and open approach to online freedom and engagement, a new stance for a government which had hitherto tended towards a more iterative approach to interaction with the modern world.
On Monday morning, Fang Binxing, the President of Beijing University of Posts and Telecommunications who is known as the “father of the Great Firewall,” opened a Sina Microblog account. Within the first three hours, over 3818 netizens followed him, and despite rapid deleting of comments to his posts by Sina editors, many comments still appeared, the vast majority of which made fun of or cursed him. At 12:55 pm Beijing time, about three hours after it opened, his original tweets and all the comments disappeared.
THE UK Government is to combat the early sexualization of children by blocking internet pornography unless parents request it, it was revealed today.
The move is intended to ensure that children are not exposed to sex as a routine by-product of the internet. It follows warnings about the hidden damage being done to children by sex sites.
The biggest broadband providers, including BT, Virgin Media and TalkTalk, are being called to a meeting next month by Ed Vaizey, the communications minister, and will be asked to change how pornography gets into homes.
Internet service providers are to be asked by the government to tighten up on website pornography to try to combat the early sexualisation of children.
Ministers believe broadband providers should consider automatically blocking sex sites, with individuals being required to opt in to receive them, rather than opt out and use the available computer parental controls.
When I first heard about UN members wanting to regulate the internet, the first thing that popped in to my mind was, “will never work”. However, the second thing that came to my mind was that even if control was successful, one name – Galileo, the famous astronomer of the late 1500s to early 1600s.
Galileo put forth a theory that said that the Earth was not the center of the universe. The prevailing theory at that point in history was that the Earth, not the sun, was at the center of the universe. Unfortunately for Galileo, this drew controversy from the church and he came under significant pressure to denounce his theories.
This, of course, implies that ISPs are somehow unfairly carrying the burden of the services people access online. It may sound nice, but the problem is that it’s almost entirely false. Individuals pay for their own bandwidth, and companies pay for their bandwidth. What the ISPs are hoping to do is to effectively double and triple charge both sides in an effort to squeeze even more money out of the system than they already do. What’s ignored is that broadband services are already quite profitable, and they’re already getting paid for this stuff. What’s really happening is that — just as content providers “overvalue” their content, this story is about ISPs overvaluing their own contribution, and wanting a larger piece of the pie concerning money made online. What they ignore is that the reason there are so many useful services online, that make it worthwhile to buy internet access in the first place, is because of the lack of such tollbooths.
But some years ago I was in this position with what I consider one of the top television programmes of all time. Aaron Sorkin’s ‘ The West Wing’. Scheduling in the UK (on Channel 4 and its cable channels) meant one season was being broadcast at the same time as the succeeding one and, very clearly, not only would watching both spoiler me without any external interaction, but we were also somewhat behind my friends in the USA and elsewhere who, like myself, were deep in discussion about the series’ storylines and arc.
So I torrented it to catch up.
And, whilst I admit that fact let me also add that I bought the DVD box sets for every season as soon as they became available (as well as re-watching it on UK television once it arrived here). No studio or artist lost out, indeed they profited over and above what they would have received had I solely watched it on the local services. I could also keep up with discussion online about the story arc of the show at the time it was happening. Even now I have an annual ‘re-watch all seven seasons from the start’.
And The West Wing isn’t the only show this applies too. Buffy, Angel, Dark Angel, Firefly, and others too have seen me buy the DVDs once they are available.
So I’m left wondering what the answer is. Where a television programme is going to be available to me and everyone else in the country to watch for free, is there any actual financial loss incurred by anyone if I were to download it ahead of broadcast?
The recent action by US authorities against so-called rogue websites comes on the heels of significant lobbying efforts by two well known anti-piracy groups. In the last quarter the MPAA and RIAA together spent a total of $1.8 million on lobby efforts in Washington. Public records reveal that the industry groups focused heavily on legislation and authorities involved in domain name seizures.