Microsoft Becoming an Embargo Company

Posted in Courtroom, Microsoft, Patents at 6:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Container ship

Summary: Lawsuits seeking to block competitors are becoming a business norm at Microsoft

Towards the later phase of its uncertain lifetime Microsoft may be remembered as a broken shell, which was suing with patents to embargo the competition. That’s what we saw it doing to TiVo this week and now this is done against Datel [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7] on the face of it:

GAMES CONSOLE SELLER Microsoft appears to be a bit miffed with an outfit called Datel Design & Development.

The Vole has complained in the strongest possible terms to the US International Trade Commission that Datel Design has be doing some terrible things and has called for an immediate investigation.

According to Microsoft, Datel has been violating its patents and stealing its ideas. It also seems that there is a history of bad blood between the two companies.

Wolfgang Gruener argues that in 2011 Microsoft may be “Drifting Into Insignificance”. The summary says:

Microsoft has developed a very special talent to shoot itself in the foot and I am wondering what happened to the company that has commoditized computers with passion and unusual ideas for the future of computing?

Microsoft never became successful in the hardware market. Rebadging some peripherals hardly counts (Apple-branded hardware too has its artificial limitations which upset a lot of people [1, 2]). So Microsoft is rapidly becoming a lawsuits company; in the recent past (about 2 years ago) it bragged about never suing with patents, but things have been going downhill since then; Microsoft sues with patents more than one can keep track of. It’s a sign of loss.

OOXML in Australia a Novell/GNOME Deja Vu

Posted in GNOME, Microsoft, Novell, Open XML at 6:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Implicit endorsement of OOXML by Novell (paid by Microsoft for this endorsement) and to some extent by the GNOME Foundation both recalled

YES, we are still writing about OOXML in Australia [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], having written over 1,000 posts about document formats/standards. The NoOOXML Web site states:

Australia is looking into OOXML adoption while other nations move forward with ODF. What’s special about the Australian move is that they want to support the ECMA format. It is hard to understand how the Whole-of-Government Common Operating Environment (WofG COE) Policy would strengthen procurement powers of the Australian public sector and help to overcome lock-in.

Sam Varghese, an Australian, argues that this latest “OOXML kerfuffle [is] similar to that of 2007″ and he does have a point because, as stated in ZDNet Australia (although the Linux Australia president speaks collectively for other people), there is not so much that’s new here other than a report which stresses yet again how the government is deep in Microsoft’s pocket and “[t]he OOXML standard selection has drawn the ire of many commenters on the AGIMO blog, with some accusing the government of moving towards a vendor lock-in with Microsoft.” Here is what Varghese claims:

At that time [2007], Microsoft was trying to get Office OOXML accepted as an ISO standard in opposition to the Open Document Format (ODF) which had been championed by OpenOffice.org and its variants.

Comments, reportedly made by members of Australia’s GNU/Linux community, reflect exactly the kind of ambivalence which was expressed by the GNOME Desktop project in 2007.

At that time, once it was discovered that people from the GNOME Foundation were participating in meetings to discuss adoption of this OOXML, then-foundation media spokesman Jeff Waugh had to try and douse the flames. He was not successful.

Things became worse when the KDE Desktop Project issued a statement, saying it would not offer support for the Microsoft standard, because in part, “The standardisation process of OfficeOpenXML has turned sour, not in the least because Microsoft couldn’t resist the temptation to cheat.”

Let’s not forget the role played by Novell back then, promoting OOXML.

Alleged Attack Site of Darl McBride Gets Suspended

Posted in Novell, SCO, UNIX at 5:47 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Flock of sheep

Summary: Darl McBride of SCO infamy is believed to be playing hide and seek, or perhaps just getting into a legal mess

A scandalous smear site which we wrote about a year and half ago is said to have been suspended:

This is for historians, in case any of them wonder who was behind the scurrilous smear campaign that showed up on SkylineCowboy.com: if you visit today, you get redirected to a WebHost4Life message that says the site has been “suspended”. I guess somebody didn’t pay his bills. The url of the redirection is http://www.webhost4life.com/templates/lightsOut.bml?lightsoutuser=cattleback

Cattleback. The name of the subsidiary that SCO created and transferred a patent to and then sold off in 2007 was, if you recall, Cattleback Holdings. And Darl McBride was alleged to be calling himself “Skyline Cowboy” on that site in litigation about the smear campaign and the “loan” McBride said he made to Mark Robbins, plus lots more, that ended up tossed out of court on a technicality. And here the web host says the user behind SkylineCowboy.com used the nym “cattleback”.

And in other news, SCO is looking to raise $600,000 by selling to unXis:

Yes, same old, same old. SCO proposes to sell to the winning bidder, surprise! unXis again. This time the purchase price is $600,000. A little water under that bridge. The last time unXis tried to buy SCO assets, even the bankruptcy judge wouldn’t let it happen, deciding to appoint a Chapter 11 trustee instead. And you know how well that worked out.

Very dodgy. From the people who call themselves after ranch items nothing can ever come that’s truly shocking.

Proprietary Leadership Over Free/Libre and Open Source Projects

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Novell at 5:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A look at industry moves which involve Novell management and Black Duck management (located in the same city)

NOVELL failed badly with poor leadership from IBM and some other proprietary software companies. Over at Google, a more Free software-friendly leadership is being installed while Novell’s former CEO Eric Schmidt is said to have been nudged out (there is no consensus on what actually happened). Here is a new article on the subject and the part about Schmidt’s more recent background:

Schmidt is the former CEO of Novell and the former chief technology officer of Sun Microsystems.

Some people foolishly propagate the false claim that Schmidt had something to do with an open source strategy at Novell. Examples of this were given in the IRC channels earlier this week. The matter of fact is, it took Novell several years to turn into the toxic asset which now includes Mono and the company was never truly an “open source” player. Here in the news we see Novell’s CTO promoting Fog Computing rather than “open source” or even “mixed source” as Novell likes to call it. Another man with Novell history, Jeff Porcaro, is said to be moving into Central Logic to become a vice president. Good luck with that. But the more fascinating news we found just this afternoon — it’s about the CEO of Black Duck, who joins the board of a proprietary software company that ‘openwashes’ itself using BIRT (similar strategy to Black Duck’s although Black Duck appears to be purely proprietary). From the press release:

Actuate Corporation (NASDAQ: BIRT | PowerRating), The people behind BIRT(R) and the leading open source Business Intelligence (BI) vendor, today announced that Timothy Yeaton, an open source software and technology leader with over 30 years of management expertise has joined the Company’s Board of Directors.

Increasingly we see open source projects and companies falling into the hands of managers that advocate — by action — proprietary software and even software patents. This trend is worrying.

Should Techrights Watch Facebook?

Posted in Site News at 3:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Techrights turkey

Summary: Some quick news/notes about Facebook and a question to readers

Facebook is said to be covered by the press more than Microsoft these days (although these two companies are not separable). It is often covered negatively because of its controversial behaviour (for instance, Facebook is censoring dissent). It was recently revealed that Facebook starts spreading people’s telephone numbers around (and this sort of data is possibly being sold to other companies), so German regulators stepped in and one reader suggested that we share this new article which claims that “Facebook is being overrun by scam surveys, fake applications and bum links, according a new report by an Internet security firm. And it’s getting worse by the day as scammers figure out clever new ways to trick unsuspecting users.”

People who value their freedom and safety keep their computing under their control. We wish to ask readers if they think that Techrights should watch and cover Facebook more than it already does.

Links 26/1/2011: KDE 4.6.0 Arrives, Red Hat Upgraded

Posted in News Roundup at 3:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Technicolor Uses Blackmagic Design`s DaVinci Resolve for Color Grading on “The Fighter”

    Blackmagic Design today announced that colorist Tony Dustin of Hollywood-based Technicolor used the DaVinci Resolve Linux non-linear color correction system for color grading work done on Paramount Pictures/Relativity Media?s critically acclaimed feature film ?The Fighter,? directed by David O. Russell. The film stars actor/producer Mark Wahlberg, Amy Adams, and recent Golden Globe® winners Christian Bale and Melissa Leo, and is currently in theaters nationwide.

  • Server/Routing

    • Cisco Updates Small Business Networking Gear

      Cisco is expanding its push to attract more small business professionals to its networking gear. This week Cisco announced a new set of 200-series switches and a new router platform that adds several big-business features tailored for the needs of small business.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • kdeexamples moves to git!

        My KDE hero of the day is Nicolás ‘PovAddict’ Alvarez who dove into the KDE Examples module and turned it into a git module, complete with history even of the examples that existed prior to the creation of the KDE Examples module intact! When I queried Ian Monroe the other day about how much work it would be to migrate this module over, Nicolás simply jumped in and attacked the problem with the usual KDE gleam in the eye.

      • How a “Welded-to KDE3.5 User” Began a Move to KDE4.4 Part III “Konquering the Dolphin”

        In this extension of his two part guest editorial and tutorial Dr. Tony Young (an Australian Mycologist by trade) goes into detail comparing the functions of Konquerer and Dolphin and along the way discovers that he might actually keep Dolphin as his file manager.

      • KDE 4.6.0 Has Arrived
  • Distributions

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Project at several conferences and trade fairs

        The Debian Project is pleased to announce that it will be present at several events in the coming weeks, ranging from developer oriented conferences to user oriented trade fairs. As usual, upcoming events are also listed on our website.

      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • Natty Narwhal Ditches OpenOffice for LibreOffice

          Future versions of Ubuntu will ship with LibreOffice, the fork of OpenOffice created by developers disillusioned with Oracle’s lukewarm — at best — relationship with the open source community. “Oracle is probably the prototypical vendor of commercial software, and its vision of open doesn’t include a lot of open source,” said Jonathan Eunice, principal IT analyst at Illuminata.

        • Ubuntu Unity Plays a Frustrating Shell Game

          Ubuntu Natty Narwhal will usher in a major change to the distro’s desktop appearance. The new Unity shell design will present a new appearance, a version of which I’ve been using on netbooks and laptops. I realize that my displeasure with Unity is based on my personal preferences for how I compute. But I subscribe to the theory that if something isn’t broken, don’t try to fix it. I think the Unity design goes too far.

        • Deja Vu: IBM Pushes Virtual Desktops With Virtual Bridges (Again)

          IBM today launched a Virtual Desktop for Smart Business push — which allows Windows or Linux desktops to be hosted and managed centrally. The VAR Guy is intrigued. But the Big Blue effort sounds suspiciously like a previous initiative called the IBM Client for Smart Work package, launched in 2009 with Virtual Bridges and Canonical (the Ubuntu Linux advocate). So how does IBM’s latest virtual desktop push differ from earlier efforts? Here’s the update.

        • The Other Side of the Road: Ubuntu Linux

          I’ve been a Mac user since 2006, and for good reason – nothing compares to the build quality and attention to detail Apple puts into its products. Still, I’m beginning to get this half-sinking/half-exhilarating feeling that the next big thing is Ubuntu (pronounced oo-boon-too) Linux. And why not? After all, “Bunt” is free, yet it offers much more functionality than a stock install of Windows – and with none of the malware troubles. It’s not quite Mac OS X, but it’s slowly getting there.


          Ubuntu is great. Rakarrack is great. That old PC, with a few tweaks and a few upcoming upgrades, will be really great.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Wind River teams with BMW and Magneti Marelli on infotainment system

      Wind River and automotive component manufacturer Magneti Marelli announced they’re collaborating on the first in-vehicle infotainment (IVI) solution based on the open source Genivi Alliance spec. Based on Linux (and MeeGo, most likely), the system will first be brought to market by BMW, says Wind River.

    • Fanless 3-watt PC with Dual Core ARM CPU, HDMI and Linux

      Now, Intel’s Atom also has competition from ARM in the desktop PC arena. Israel’s CompuLab has presented the Trim-Slice, a tiny, fanless PC using NVIDIA’s Tegra 2 platform. The System-on-Chip (SoC) has two ARM Cortex-A9 CPU cores with clock rates up to 1 GHz, offering roughly the same computing power as an Intel Atom. But the multimedia equipment is even better. Two HDMI ports are provided, and Tegra 2 also includes an HD video accelerator.

    • Tablets

      • 2011: The Year of the Linux Tablet

        For what seems like forever, we’ve been hearing the Linux fanboys of the world proclaiming that the coming year will be the “Year of the Linux Desktop.” It’s has become somewhat of a joke amongst Linux naysayers and even with the Linux faithful. I don’t know if we’ll ever see the year of the Linux Desktop or not, but it looks like 2011 is going to be the year of the Linux Tablet. The future success of Linux as a tablet and phone platform might not look as open and utopian as many supporters of free software would like, but it seems that it’s inevitable none the less.


        Will it really be “The Year of the Linux Tablet”

        Linux based OSes have the clear advantage when it comes to competing for market share against the iPad. If Microsoft had its act together and if Apple was the type of company to license operating systems, I might not have much hope for Linux’s success. But looking at the current market demand for tablets and the lack of a solid OS from Microsoft, I think this will truly be the year of the Linux Tablet.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 4 stumbling along

        The Firefox 4 browser is edging closer to final release but still faces hurdles

        Once the darling of the Internet digerati, the Firefox browser is still battling problems to issue a new release. Version 4 of the browser has suffered multiple setbacks and although it now looks likely to be released in February, the delays have caused Firefox to lose some of its shine.

      • “Do not track” – Mozilla advocates new data protection standard

        Online advertising networks use cookies to recognise internet users and serve them tailored advertising. Users can defend against this practice by deleting cookies, not accepting cookies, or setting an opt-out cookie, which declares that they do not want their online activity to be tracked.

  • Project Releases

    • VideoLAN updates open source VLC 1.1.6 video for security, VP8

      VLC is among the most popular open source video players. According to the VideoLAN project, the 1.1.5 release has had 58 million downloads.

      Now it’s time for those 58 million downloaders to update to VLC 1.1.6, for some security, bug and stability fixes.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Filmaster unveils movie recommendation API

      It’s ready and it’s hot. First totally open and free (as in beer and as in freedom) film recommendations API is here for you as a gift from Filmaster. The API enables external programmers to create independent services or apps using our data and algorithms, it allows to easily integrate any website with Filmaster by presenting our content like reviews and film recommendations. Sounds interesting? Read on!

  • Standards/Consortia

    • HTML5 drops the 5 to become an evolving standard

      Oh, the ever evolving nature of the web. Just a few days after the W3C unveiled its shiny new branding for HTML5, WHATWG has announced that it will stop using numbered versions to better represent the evolving nature of the standard.

      According to WHATWG’s Ian Hickson, HTML5 was supposed to be finalised in 2012, but the rapidly changing nature of technology and the demands of the people who actually use it mean that new features would have to be added on a near continuous basis. For that reason, it makes a lot more sense to have the standard as a “living document” that can more easily be added to and updated.

    • Google documents VP8 at standards group IETF

      The VP8 encoding technology at the heart of Google’s effort to spread royalty-free video across the computing industry now has a home at the Internet Engineering Task Force–but not so Google can standardize it.


  • More Tales of Terrible IT Managers
  • Lee Harvey Oswald’s Brother Sues Funeral Home and Auction House for Selling the Assassin’s Casket

    Lee Harvey Oswald’s brother has sued a funeral home and an auction house, claiming they sold the assassin’s original coffin, embalming table and records, and their mother’s funeral records, for more than $160,000, invading his privacy and breaching contract. Robert Edward Lee Oswald sued the Baumgardner Funeral Home, Allen Baumgardner Sr. and Nate D. Sanders Inc. – the Los Angeles auction house – in Tarrant County Court, Fort Worth.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Playing for health

      Binge eating, chronic pain, and addiction. Three very different medical conditions, all hard to treat. Could the virtual exploration of an island be part of the solution for these three patients?

      Some European scientists are convinced it is. So this is the story of how research has managed to develop a serious videogame, for a serious purpose.

    • The Overuse of Antibiotics

      Reading a recent issue of Public Citizen’s excellent Health Letter titled “Know When Antibiotics Work,” I recalled the recent tragic loss of a healthy history professor who was rushed to a fine urban hospital, with a leading infectious disease specialist by his side. No antibiotics could treat his mysterious “superbug.” He died in 36 hours.

      Wrongful or overuse of antibiotics has a perverse effect—causing the kinds of bacteria that these drugs can no longer destroy. The World Health Organization has cited antibiotic resistance as one of the three most serious public health threats of the 21st century.

      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes that just in hospitals, where between 5 and 10 percent of all patients develop an infection, about 90,000 of these patients die each year as a result of their infection. This toll is up from 13,300 patient deaths in 1992. Some percentage of these people have problems because of antibiotic resistance.

  • Security

    • Facebook defends security strategy
    • Top WordPress themes on Google riddled with spamlinks and obfuscated code
    • Tunisia plants country-wide keystroke logger on Facebook

      Malicious code injected into Tunisian versions of Facebook, Gmail, and Yahoo! stole login credentials of users critical of the North African nation’s authoritarian government, according to security experts and news reports.

      The rogue JavaScript, which was individually customized to steal passwords for each site, worked when users tried to login without availing themselves of the secure sockets layer protection designed to prevent man-in-the-middle attacks. It was found injected into Tunisian versions of Facebook, Gmail, and Yahoo! in late December, around the same time that protestors began demanding the ouster of Zine el-Abidine Ben Ali, the president who ruled the country from 1987 until his ouster 10 days ago.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • I Have Been Summoned to Appear Before a Grand Jury

      I have been summoned to appear before a federal grand jury in Chicago on January 25. But I will not testify, even at the risk of being put in jail for contempt of court, because I believe that our most fundamental rights as citizens are at stake.

      I am one of 23 anti-war, labor and solidarity activists in Chicago and throughout the Midwest who are facing a grand jury as part of an investigation into “material support for foreign terrorist organizations.” No crime has been identified. No arrests have been made. And when it raided several prominent organizers’ homes and offices on Sept. 24, the FBI acknowledged that there is no immediate threat to the American public. So what is this investigation really about?

      The activists who have been ensnared in this fishing net with different groups to end the US wars and occupations in Iraq and Afghanistan, to end US military aid for Israel’s occupation of Palestinian land and US military aid to Colombia, which has a shocking record of repression and human rights abuses. All of us have publicly and peacefully dedicated our lives to social justice and advocating for more just and less deadly US foreign policy.

    • Report Condemns Widespread Tolerance for Torturers

      The international community – from Western authorities to Southern powers – lacks courage and hides behind “soft diplomacy” in confronting human rights abusers, a leading rights group accuses in a 649-page world report released Monday.

    • Two Toronto Police Officers Guilty Of Assaulting A Disabled Man

      Two Toronto police officers were found guilty Tuesday of assaulting a mentally challenged man they thought was drunk.

      Richard Moore, 58, was headed home to his Gerrard St. East rooming house when he passed by two officers dealing with another situation on April 24, 2009.

    • Palestine papers: MI6 plan proposed internment – and hotline to Israelis

      Evidence in leaked documents highlights role British officials played in creating and bolstering PA administration

    • Palestinian Papers: What The Al Jazeera Blockbuster Means

      Al Jazeera`s stunning revelations about Israeli-Palestinian negotiations have different meanings for Israelis, Americans and for Palestinians.

      The bottom line is that, despite the assurances it gave to the Palestinian people that it was driving a hard bargain with the Israelis, the Palestinian Authority accepted Israel`s position on every key point: borders, Jerusalem, settlements, refugees.

      On no major issue did the PA hold the line. None.

      The Palestinians offered Israel everything Israel wants and Israel still said `no` with the backing of the United States.

      So what does it mean?

    • Cairo protesters in violent clashes with police

      Egyptian police used teargas and rubber bullets and beat protesters in a bid to clear thousands of demonstrators from a central Cairo square late last night after people had taken to the streets earlier today demanding the end of President Hosni Mubarak’s 30-year rule in mass demonstrations inspired by the toppling of the government in Tunisia.

    • Flier beats TSA video recording charge in court

      Phil Mocek knows he isn’t required to show ID to fly, and that it’s perfectly legal to record video in publicly accessible areas of an airport. A jury agreed with him earlier this week, acquitting him of trumped-up charges brought against him by TSA and police officers who demanded obedience. He didn’t need to call any witnesses or testify himself; he was acquitted based on the evidence entered against him.

    • Passenger cleared after TSA checkpoint stare-down
    • Another Illinois Resident Charged for Recording Police

      The New York Times reports on the Illinois eavesdropping law, which allows for a felony charge and up to 15 years of prison for people who record police officers on the job. In addition to artist Christopher Drew—whom I’ve written about before and who goes to trial in April—the article finds another person currently being charged under the law. Tiawanda Moore, 20, goes to trial next month. She too could face 15 years in prison, in her case for using her Blackberry to record her conversation with internal affairs officers at Chicago PD about an alleged sexual assault by a police officer. Moore recorded her interview after feeling her initial attempt to report the incident wasn’t taken seriously.

    • Artist Could Face 15 Years In Prison For Recording His Own Arrest

      Chris Drew was finally ready to get arrested. An artist and activist, Drew had spent years protesting a Chicago ordinance that puts tight restrictions on where and how people can sell their art on the street. He was downtown, on State Street, selling silk-screened patches for $1 and defying the city to stop him.

      He’d tried his act of civil disobedience three times before — a First Amendment lawyer on hand to argue his case, a team of videographers ready to film the arrest — but the police simply let it slide. When, on December 2, 2009, he finally succeeded in getting booked, Drew was ready for a few hours in lock-up on a misdemeanor, and a lengthy court battle. He was in no way prepared for what he would actually face.

  • Cablegate

    • “The New York Times” May Start Its Own Version of WikiLeaks

      The New York Times is considering developing a system that will let anonymous leakers easily submit large and confidential files directly to the newspaper. Sound familiar?

      While nothing is concrete yet, NYT executive editor Bill Keller says that it could be similar to Al Jazeera‘s Transparency Unit, a system launched earlier this year that encrypts file submissions from anonymous leakers.

    • No proof WikiLeaks breaking law, inquiry finds

      A company asked by Visa to investigate WikiLeaks’ finances found no proof the group’s fundraising arm is breaking the law in its home base of Iceland, according to a document obtained by The Associated Press.

      But Visa Europe Ltd. said Wednesday it would continue blocking donations to the secret-spilling site until it completes its own investigation. Company spokeswoman Amanda Kamin said she couldn’t say when Visa’s inquiry, now stretching into its eighth week, would be finished.

    • Despite WikiLeaks drama, State Dept promotes documentary celebrating Pentagon Papers leaker

      Even as prosecutors build a case against the U.S. Army private suspected of passing hundreds of thousands of diplomatic cables to WikiLeaks, the State Department is promoting a documentary film that celebrates Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg.

      Amid its struggle to contain damage from the WikiLeaks revelations, the State Department announced Saturday that “The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers” has been selected as one of 18 films that will tour the world this year as part of its “American Documentary Showcase” program.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Climate sceptic ‘misled Congress over funding from oil industry’

      A leading climate sceptic patronised by the oil billionaire Koch brothers faced a potential investigation today on charges that he misled Congress on the extent of his funding from the oil industry.

      Patrick Michaels, a senior fellow in environmental studies at the Cato Institute, a thinktank founded by Charles and David Koch to promote their libertarian, anti-government views, appeared before the house energy and commerce committee in February 2009.

  • Censorship

    • Kroes gives Hungary an ultimatum on media law

      The EU commissioner in charge of media issues, Neelie Kroes, has raised “serious doubts” about Hungary’s new media law in a letter to Budapest and given the country a two-week ultimatum to the government to explain itself. Hungarian leader Viktor Orban however said the law was intended to combat racism.

    • Some pols say Twitter ban for the birds

      The social media phenom Twitter may be sweeping America, but it’s banned in the Massachusetts Legislature, which has blocked lawmakers and staffers from tweeting from their office computers.

      The Twitter ban is frustrating some Web-savvy legislators, who say they use the popular Web site to communicate with constituents.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • Why Is Civil Discourse So Important – Yet So Difficult

      In his remarks at the memorial service for the victims of the Tucson shooting, President Obama urged us to be more civil in our dealings with each other:

      “The loss of these wonderful people should make every one of us strive to be better. To be better in our private lives, to be better friends and neighbors and coworkers and parents. And if, as has been discussed in recent days, their death helps usher in more civility in our public discourse, let us remember it is not because a simple lack of civility caused this tragedy – it did not – but rather because only a more civil and honest public discourse can help us face up to the challenges of our nation in a way that would make them proud.”

    • US wants Internet, cell records held longer

      The US Justice Department wants Internet service providers and cell phone companies to be required to hold on to records for longer to help with criminal prosecutions.

      “Data retention is fundamental to the department’s work in investigating and prosecuting almost every type of crime,” US deputy assistant attorney general Jason Weinstein told a congressional subcommittee on Tuesday.

    • Civil liberty campaigners fear ‘control orders lite’ regime

      Leading civil liberty campaigners tonight voiced fears that the reform of counter-terror laws to be detailed tomorrowwill amount to little more than “control orders lite”.

    • The Voter ID Tap Dance

      The incidence of actual voter fraud at the polls in America is indistinguishable from zero.

    • Germany urges drug companies to boycott US executions

      Berlin has asked pharmaceutical companies not to supply the United States with a drug used in executions for prisoners on death row, after the sole US manufacturer announced it would pull out of the market.

    • AT&T says it’s a person under the law and should enjoy the right to personal privacy. What’s wrong with this picture?

      AT&T wants us to believe that corporations are people, just like you and me, and that just like us, they have a constitutional right to privacy. Their case, argued before the Supreme Court last week, hinges in part on the relationship between an adjective and the noun it derives from. To prove their point, AT&T wants us to look both at the law and at the dictionary.

    • Domestic use of aerial drones by law enforcement likely to prompt privacy debate

      The suspect’s house, just west of this city, sat on a hilltop at the end of a steep, exposed driveway. Agents with the Texas Department of Public Safety believed the man inside had a large stash of drugs and a cache of weapons, including high-caliber rifles.

      As dawn broke, a SWAT team waiting to execute a search warrant wanted a last-minute aerial sweep of the property, in part to check for unseen dangers. But there was a problem: The department’s aircraft section feared that if it put up a helicopter, the suspect might try to shoot it down.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Canada: Where Innovation Comes To Die

      Aside from how outraged I am about that news, I’m going to say something rather bold: Rogers, Bell, and Telus are killing innovation in Canada.

      Every single year, we are gouged to the bone by these three gigantic corporations by receiving less service for more money. They treat us poorly, and they know they can get away with it because we have no choice. They don’t need to improve a damn thing because we are stuck.

    • Canada regulator OKs metered Internet billing

      Smaller Canadian Internet service providers, who operate via networks owned by bigger telecom firms such as BCE Inc, will soon have to pass along the bulk of their host’s charges for extra bandwidth use, the federal telecom regulator said on Tuesday.

      The move limits the independent ISPs’ ability to offer unlimited data plans, just months after Netflix opened for business in Canada, and gives greater pricing power to large carriers such as BCE’s Bell unit and Telus.

    • Obama may get power to shut down Internet without court oversight

      A bill giving the president an Internet “kill switch” during times of emergency that failed to pass Congress last year will return this year, but with a revision that has many civil liberties advocates concerned: It will give the president the ability to shut down parts of the Internet without any court oversight.

      The Protecting Cyberspace as a National Asset Act was introduced last year by Sens. Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and Susan Collins (R-ME) in an effort to combat cyber-crime and the threat of online warfare and terrorism.

    • Internet ‘kill switch’ bill will return

      A controversial bill handing President Obama power over privately owned computer systems during a “national cyberemergency,” and prohibiting any review by the court system, will return this year.

  • DRM

    • Just What No One Needs Or Wants: Web Images With DRM And An Expiration Date

      The BBC is reporting on a new project to create web images that “expire” after a certain period of time. The thinking is that people who put photos up on social networking profiles may be embarrassed by them later, so, this way, the photo can only stay up for a set period of time and then no longer be viewable.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Twisted Pixel CEO: We won’t pursue legal action over Capcom’s MaXplosion

      Twisted Pixel CEO Michael Wilford says his comparatively tiny team won’t be suing mega-publisher Capcom for its blatant attempt to rip off the studio’s Splosion Man with iOS clone MaXplosion (pictured). “We’re definitely not going to pursue legal action,” Wilford told Joystiq. “While I think the similarities are pretty nauseating, we’re too small to take on a company like Capcom. That, and we owe them one for inventing Mega Man, so we’ll let them slide.”

    • How I Beat a Competitor Who Stole My Ideas

      Once I realized we were wasting valuable time, resources and money in court, I decided to focus all of that energy on outdoing our competitor instead. We vowed to differentiate ourselves by focusing closely on our clients’ needs. Innovation became very important. When we started out we only offered a single software option. Now we have six tailor-made modules to meet the varying needs of companies of different sizes and industries. We might not have worked so hard to build out new tools if we hadn’t had a competitor biting at our heels.

    • Trademarks

    • Copyrights

      • IFPI’s Annual Attack On Piracy Once Again Riddled With Errors And Bogus Claims

        IFPI boss Frances Moore apparently claimed that this is “a crisis affecting not just an industry – but artists, musicians, jobs, consumers, and the wider creative sector.” Except that’s not true. There are more people making music today than ever before. It’s cheaper than ever before to make, distribute and promote music. If you’re a musician, there are more ways than ever before to build a fanbase and to build a business model to make a living. It’s a great time to be a musician. It’s also a fantastic time to be a consumer. It’s hard to see how Moore can make such a claim that is obviously false, and no one calls her on the obviously false nature of her claims. When Moore took over last year for John Kennedy, I had hoped that maybe she’d bring some sense to the IFPI. Instead, she seems to be spreading the same propaganda as her predecessor.

      • USCG Refiles Several P2P Lawsuits – in Minnesota

        US Copyright Group makes good on its promise to target settlement holdouts in courts with proper jurisdiction, targeting two BitTorrent users, one for “Call of the Wild” and one for an unnamed movie.

        For almost a year now the US Copyright Group has been trying to hold tens of thousands of BitTorrent users responsible for illegally distributing either of the less than stellar independent movies “Steam Experiment,” “Far Cry,” “Uncross the Stars,” “Gray Man,” or “Call of the Wild 3D.”

      • Obama Nominates RIAA Lawyer for Solicitor General

        Verrilli is best known for leading the recording industry’s legal charge against music- and movie-sharing site Grokster. That 2003 case ultimately led to Grokster’s demise, when the U.S. Supreme Court sided with a lower court’s pro-RIAA verdict.

      • Piracy Doubled My App Sales

        What were the stat changes?

        - Period 2 had 38.6X more Pirates than Period 1

        - Period 2 had 2.3X more Sales than Period 1

        - (For every 15 or so Pirates, I received an extra Sale)

      • MPAA urges action against campus piracy

        The Motion Picture Association of America published an open letter in December discussing the contents of the Higher Education Opportunity Act of 2008, which require universities’ participation in preventing illegal downloading.

        The act requires schools to implement a plan to stop the unauthorized distribution of copyrighted material by users of the institution’s network, MPAA chief content protection officer Daniel Mandil said in the letter.

      • This unwanted interruption is brought to you by the RIAA.

        By RADIOGIRL [from Comments to Stephen Hough's blog post on Liszt, Daily Telegraph] – Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) has now in place guidelines with the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB), that any qualified public broadcasting station that wishes to broadcast sound recordings over the Internet must not only register for agreement for those rights but must comply with the new rules. (BTW, this does not apply to commercial webcasters such as WQXR nor does it apply to recordings of live performances made for broadcast purposes.)


        The influences that shape new musical trends are diffuse, complex, and impossible to codify, but if one person can be credited as being the fountainhead of modern music it is Franz Liszt … in three, totally different stylistic directions. Whether we like his own compositions or not, we cannot avoid contact with Liszt if we have contact with music from the late-19th or 20th centuries. Firstly, the heady combination of bel canto with chromaticism, a Lisztian fingerprint formed early in his life, was a major influence on Wagner and on to the latter’s progeny. It has been claimed that Liszt invented the ‘Tristan chord’. Even if such a ‘patent’ is open to discussion, the febrile harmonic instability of Tristan und Isolde is heard in Liszt before it is heard in his son-in-law. On rare occasions of collegial generosity Wagner even admitted this debt.

      • German Mass Copyright Letter Sender Using Debt Collectors To Pressure People To Pay Up

        We’ve seen the various mass copyright infringement factories popping up all over the world, often using similar strategies: suing or threatening to sue thousands of individuals based solely on an IP address. The whole “business model” is based not on traditional copyright infringement statutory awards, but on convincing people to pay up beforehand to avoid being sued. The model feels quite similar to what’s normally considered extortion (“pay up or we harm you”). Someone recently sent us a copy of what’s alleged to be a contract being used by a German law firm, Schutt, Waetke Rechtsanwalte, which has been involved in such mass threats for many years. You can find references online going back to at least 2005 of this law firm sending out such pre-settlement letters to thousands of Germans. I contacted the firm to see if they would confirm or deny the legitimacy of the contract, and they would not respond. So, perhaps take the details with a grain of salt, even though the firm has been connected to these sorts of pre-settlement jobs for a while.

Clip of the Day

GNOME Shell + Zeitgeist

Credit: TinyOgg

From UNIX Battles to .NET Battles

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Patents, Red Hat, Ubuntu, UNIX at 11:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Looking for reasons to sue Linux…

Garden gnome

Summary: Wayne Gray’s case against Novell proceeds and opinions about Mono continue to come

Novell’s disputes over the UNIX trademark/copyrights withstanding (Gray vs Novell*, not just SCO), there are many questions arising because of Novell’s passage of nearly 1,000 patents to CPTN, which Microsoft is heading [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7].

The key question is no longer just who gets UNIX copyrights. There is another question about patents now, as Novell helps feed the direct competition of GNU/Linux. It even puts this competition right inside the body of GNU/Linux (e.g. Mono) and the leader in this area, Red Hat, repels it continually. “Mono Vs Fedora: More Facts, less opinions” is a new post worth reading. To quote some bits:

I, and looks like many of Fedora’s contributors too, think like Free Software Foundation. Make a system Mono dependent is a gratuitous risk, because it’s based in Microsoft tecnology, who have patents over this tecnology. Must I say any thing else?

If you said yes, very well, I’ll say more. Why will you use your enemies’ pencil if you have yours? Why will you eat the apple of your neighbor, if in your yard there’s a lot of them? You’ll assume the risk of being without the pencil some day or hungry, this is a fact. You have no control about your enemies’ pencil or about the apples of your neighbors. If you begin to write better than your enemie, you’re using theirs pencil, and he’s able to stop you from writing. If you eat much of the yours neighbor’s apple, he’ll not give it to you anymore.

I’m trying to say that we lose many applications like Banshee, Tomboy and many others if Microsoft simply use the power of the patents it acquires. And can you imagine the size of the problem if in this day your system is stuck with that language.

We recently mentioned how Fedora drove away Mono boosters. Canonical ought to do the same because the next release comes with at least 3 Mono-based applications.
* This was covered by Groklaw before (e.g. here), but it is still going on.

Doubts in OpenSUSE

Posted in GNU/Linux, Novell, OpenSUSE at 10:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Question everything

Summary: Things are getting somewhat messy and anarchic inside OpenSUSE, which loses members and momentum

NOBODY denies that OpenSUSE is going through a tough time. It has a lot to do with Novell, maybe even everything to do with Novell (which is steered by Microsoft to an extent). As Tom Jowitt put it the other week:

Concerns are being raised over the future of the openSUSE.org project, with reports that Novell is pushing for some sort of spin out of the project.

Earlier this month, Groklaw reported that Novell has decided to fund a new foundation to oversee OpenSUSE, and act as a major stakeholder. Elsewhere Novell’s newly appointed openSUSE board chair, Alan Clark, has been said to be actively helping with the spin out.

“This news has caused concern,” wrote Andy Updegrove, a founding partner at the law-firm, Gesmer Updegrove. “Over the last few months, I’ve frequently pointed out the vulnerability of important open source projects that are supported and controlled by corporate sponsors, rather than hosted by independent foundations funded by corporate sponsors.”

J.A. Watson has just asked, “What’s Up with openSuSE?” It’s the title of his blog post that questions the project’s development and adds:

There has been quite a bit of commentary and speculation about the Novell takeover and the possible impact on the SuSE/openSuSE products and development. (Note that I am avoiding the patent controversy here, intentionally.) The official statements from Novell and SuSE have been basically that there should be little or no impact, product development and releases should continue as normal. However, I have been following the openSuSE 11.4 (factory) pre-release development pretty closely because some of the newest things being developed are important to my Lenovo S10-3s netbook (Broadcom brcm, and Synaptics ClickPad). What I have seen and experienced since the sale/takeover was announced has been troubling – or else I am doing something wrong.

Edmundo Carmona, a Venezuelan Computer Engineer living in Colombia, says that “Novell crumbled” and he is right. There is less than a year left before the Microsoft patent deal expires and then what? Will Microsoft resort to legal action and extortion? Novell is a foolish, foolish company, run by foolish people who give themselves massive bonuses they do not deserve.

Do you remember when you opened your browser to get the latest news on Nov 3rd 2006? I do. I just couldn’t believed my eyes when I learned that Novell had signed this deal with Microsoft….. and if that’s not enough, how about bad mouth developers of FLOSS everywhere (the same guys who largely develop the product Novell was trying to get money from) saying that if you (we… I still do a little FLOSS development as personal side projects) didn’t want to get into trouble you better do your work for free? Ain’t that lovely? As a summary, it was a very deceptive turn of events.

Regarding the OpenSUSE unrest which we recently mentioned in relation to Pascal, Fab from Linux Outlaws writes:

The OpenSuse board has announced that it has evicted a person from the community for violating the Guiding Principles of the project. They don’t, however, name the person or explain what the cause for the decision was which makes the whole announcement rather pointless. While one has to respect the board’s decision to keep the person anonymous, one can not help thinking that this way of handling the situation is neither very open nor transparent.

In other OpenSUSE news (there is not so much, although “Weekly News” remains alive and there are few new HOWTOs [1, 2]), OpenSUSE 11.1 is being killed: “Announced by the openSUSE developers a little over two years ago, the openSUSE 11.1 operating system has reached end of life (EOL) on January 13th, 2011.” LWN shares some security problems and says that “openSUSE 11.1 has reached end of Novell support – 11.1 Evergreen goes on”. Wolfgang Rosenauer, speaking for the Evergreen Project, can be found in this new interview:

Having a distribution that gives you a two year support for ALL editions is another fascinating aspect of the openSUSE distribution. Being in a community that allows you to say that you think that this is not enough and that you want to do something with it is another one. Wolfgang Rosenauer believed that something like that would be useful to users and gave birth to Project Evergreen.

Perhaps the only recent news as of late was around OBS and Qt. “As part of my Openismus training, I was recently tasked with packaging a Qt application using the OpenSUSE Build Service (OBS),” wrote this one person. Talented dancer Knut Yrvin from Nokia wrote about their Qt Creator build service plug-in:

Based on feedback from several community groups we agreed to sponsor the creation of a plugin that connected Qt Creator with the OBS, and we are pleased to announce that we are releasing this into beta today.

Novell’s Untz has some more thoughts about installers and LibreOffice 3.3 gets packaged for OpenSUSE. To quote Untz:

The App Installer meeting is over since Friday, and I must say I’ve been very pleased with the results of this meeting. During three days (rather two days and a half), we managed to explore the topic, investigate some pre-existing technologies, define an architecture to handle the creation and the communication of the metadata, write a plan to move forward, etc. And we managed to all agree on this!

There is some more information that may be of interest in this magazine’s column with Jos Poortvliet, who is now the community manager:

Since the openSUSE Conference in Nuremberg in October, the openSUSE community has been extremely active. New projects announced there have progressed, and others have emerged. One example of the latter would be the announcement of Project Tumbleweed by kernel hacker and openSUSE contributor Greg Kroah-Hartman. The goal of this project is to create a ‘rolling-release’ version of openSUSE. A rolling-release distribution (like Arch Linux or Gentoo) always offers the latest stable versions of a package in updates so that when a new release surfaces, users actually don’t have to do an upgrade!

So that’s about all from OpenSUSE. Not much so far this year, except gloomy speculations about the project. That latter part added some balance to show we never ignore positive news, either.

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