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04.13.11

Patent Unrest is Growing, Alzheimer’s Disease Plays a Role

Posted in Apple, Bill Gates, Google, Patents at 5:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Alois Alzheimer

Summary: When patents cost people their lives more pundits are willing to publicly admit that the patent system is unethical

MORE PEOPLE are speaking out against patents. The Atlantic, an influential publication by all measures, is seemingly fed up with some patents:

In a closely-watched oral argument Monday at a federal courthouse in Washington, the core questions of the case read like scripts from a college philosophy exam: are isolated human genes and the subsequent comparisons of their sequences patentable? Can one company own a monopoly on such genes without violating the rights of others? They are multi-billion dollar questions, the judicially-sanctioned answers to which will have enormous ramifications for the worlds of medicine, science, law, business, politics and religion.

Tell this to Bill Gates, who happens to promote companies of these sorts by giving them investment money, by lobbying for them, and also by hiring their staff to join and administer the Gates Foundation. Maybe when Gates meets Alzheimer he will change his mind, but never mind, Gates can afford to license some absurd patent to save his life. Others can’t. Mike Masnick is the latest to complain about this patent:

We keep hearing stories of important healthcare research being disrupted by patents, and the latest, as pointed out by Slashdot, involves an organization called the Alzheimer’s Institute of America… which happened to buy some patents on a DNA sequence, and is now suing or threatening to sue a ton of researchers in the space. Amusingly, AIA presents itself as an organization committed to supporting Alzheimer’s research, when it appears the organization is more focused on shaking down researchers.

More patent rants by Mike Masnick can be found in [1, 2]. He speaks about the patent problem wrt Google’s dilemma and the Hubris-ridden Apple, which also happens to be hurt by them recently (although not sufficiently). Google too is named: “A lawsuit filed by H-W Technology earlier this week in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas Dallas Division claims Apple, Research In Motion, Google, and 29 other major technology companies are infringing on a patent it was granted in April 2009.”

We all know by now that the Northern District of Texas is a breeding ground for patent trolls. When will the USPTO get rebooted?

Elop-led Nokia and Bill Gates Lobby Europe Amid New Push Ushering in Software Patents

Posted in Bill Gates, Microsoft, Patents at 5:22 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Stephen Elop
Photo by Luca Sartoni

Summary: Microsoft’s co-founder and the Finnish giant now led by Microsoft’s former president are still lobbying against the interests of software freedom

As mentioned in the latest TechBytes episode, Microsoft’s Elop-led Nokia [1, 2, 3, 4] is lobbying for the back door to software patents in Europe along with the pharmaceutical cartel. Is Nokia doing this to prepare for Microsoft-serving patent attacks in Europe (Nokia’s more aggressive patent strategy is a subject it spoke about recently)? Or is it Nokia’s same old patent campaign which we wrote about in prior years? Anyway, here is the new report:

Nokia Oyj (NOK1V), the world’s biggest maker of mobile phones, and AstraZeneca Plc (AZN) said a plan to create a European Union-wide patent system won’t be successful unless a separate patent court is established.

A regional patent without a dedicated court would be “dangerous,” said Tim Frain, director of intellectual property rights regulatory affairs at Espoo-Finland-based Nokia.

Here is a new press release from the Commission, which keeps shaming itself nowadays. This PR is celebrated by the likes of Microsoft Florian, who currently celebrates patent attacks on Android and defends other anti-Linux attackers. Is it more of the same lobbying from Microsoft? And if so, what role did the recent lobbying from Gates in Strasbourg play? He spoke to politicians about some interests of the pharmaceutical cartel just days before the above reports and to quote an MEP, Nikki Sinclaire:

Typically fraught and tiring week in Strasbourg, – and its only Tuesday! But life in politics is often illuminated by a little ray of sunshine, and so this week I was delighted to meet and shake hands with Bill Gates, the founder of microsoft.
He joined us to discuss the changing priorities of development aid, and the need to find different approaches to our problems.
I was particularly interested in his `Living proof` initiative that seeks to show where all the money is spent. The EU could learn a thing or two from him!

To quote the sole comment there, “Unfortunately Microsoft & Bill Gates are actually part of the financial mess we are all in, support for the 3rd world is part of the intellectual property agenda and the UK’s self imposed reliance on Microsoft Software is costing the taxpayer millions if not more.” That same commenter came to our IRC channel and added: “I get the impression that the new Gates strategy is to say the world has a lot of problems I can help sort it out.” We addressed this subject many times before. This man is up to no good as he increases his power and instructs politicians to handle public money in ways that benefit his financial investments (which include Microsoft’s).

The Epsilon Example: When Microsoft Shops and SPAM Intersect

Posted in Mail, Microsoft, Windows at 4:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SPAM

Summary: Assorted security news about the “biggest name and email address heist in US history” and beyond

A few days ago we wrote about the Epsilon fiasco, which is said to have affected Marks and Spencer customers, probably owing to the Windows machines getting cracked (as they so often do). What we didn’t know at the time is that this was the “biggest name and email address heist in US history”. To quote The Inquirer:

BIG US BANKS JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup and US Bank are just three of the companies affected by a massive data breach at online marketing firm Epsilon.

These are just a few of the companies that do business with Epsilon, which said in a statement that its clients “were exposed by an unauthorised entry into Epsilon’s email system”.

Epsilon is a firm that sends billions of emails ads each year to people who register their interest at its customers’ websites or give their email addresses when shopping. At the moment it is unclear how many people have been affected, but Reuters claimed “it could be one of the biggest such data breaches in US history”.

According to another article:

What’s being described as a “massive” security breach at email marketing firm Epsilon has compromised the customer names and emails of some of the largest companies in the US, including seven of Fortune’s top 10 institutions, reports SecurityWeek.

Epsilon reportedly sends out 40 billion emails each year for more than 2,500 clients. SecurityWeek reports that clients of Epsilon affected by the infiltration include: TiVo, US Bank, JPMorgan Chase, Verizon, Capital One, Marriott Rewards, Ritz-Carlton Rewards, Citi, Brookstone, McKinsey & Co., New York & Co, Kroger and Walgreens.

It says that “Epsilon reportedly sends out 40 billion emails each year for more than 2,500 clients.” Well, earlier today a marketing (spamming) agency called 2ndimpression sent on behalf of Thornley Groves a bunch of marketing junk to clients, myself included. It did this (sent unwanted mail) without permission from the recipients, requiring non-existent usernames to unsubscribe from this endless mess. These firms deserve no sympathy. Some of them are borderline criminal, but they probably know the law well enough to manoeuvre around prosecution. To them, it’s risk analysis and reward. Microsoft Florian uses similar tactics to shower journalists with quotes to embed in articles.

In other news, universities keep getting cracked and Windows users receive malware from cracked sites. “The fake software is called the Windows Stability Center,” says the MSBBC, but they do not say that it’s only a problem for Windows users, they just say “PC” or “computer”.

TechBytes Episode 39: Groklaw wins, Microsoft me too’s and trolls fail

Posted in TechBytes at 4:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

TechBytes

Direct download as Ogg (1:35:21, 18.1 MB) | Direct download as MP3 (10.5 MB)

Summary: A quickly-arranged show to test new encoding options which may resolve cache timeouts

This is the first episode that we encode at a lower level of quality in order to reduce download time/decrease file size. Please provide feedback on whether the degradation of signal is acceptable. We hope this show is interesting too (we never script anything or prepare notes).

RSS 64x64We hope you will join us for future shows and consider subscribing to the show via the RSS feed. You can also visit our archives for past shows. If you have an Identi.ca account, consider subscribing to TechBytes in order to keep up to date.

As embedded (HTML5):

Download:

Ogg Theora
(There is also an MP3 version)

Our past shows:

November 2010

Show overview Show title Date recorded
Episode 1: Brandon from Fedora TechBytes Episode 1: Apple, Microsoft, Bundling, and Fedora 14 (With Special Guest Brandon Lozza) 1/11/2010
Episode 2: No guests TechBytes Episode 2: Ubuntu’s One Way, Silverlight Goes Dark, and GNU Octave Discovered 7/11/2010
Episode 3: No guests TechBytes Episode 3: Games, Wayland, Xfce, Restrictive Application Stores, and Office Suites 8/11/2010
Episode 4: No guests TechBytes Episode 4: Fedora 14 Impressions, MPAA et al. Payday, and Emma Lee’s Magic 9/11/2010
Episode 5: No guests TechBytes Episode 5: Windows Loses to Linux in Phones, GNU/Linux Desktop Market Share Estimations, and Much More 12/11/2010
Episode 6: No guests TechBytes Episode 6: KINect a Cheapo Gadget, Sharing Perceptually Criminalised, Fedora and Fusion 14 in Review 13/11/2010
Episode 7: No guests TechBytes Episode 7: FUD From The Economist, New Releases, and Linux Eureka Moment at Netflix 14/11/2010
Episode 8: Gordon Sinclair on Linux Mint TechBytes Episode 8: Linux Mint Special With Gordon Sinclair (ThistleWeb) 15/11/2010
Episode 9: Gordon Sinclair returns TechBytes Episode 9: The Potentially Permanent Return of ThistleWeb 17/11/2010
Episode 10: Special show format TechBytes Episode 10: Microsoft FUD and Dirty Tactics Against GNU/Linux 19/11/2010
Episode 11: Part 2 of special show TechBytes Episode 11: Microsoft FUD and Dirty Tactics Against GNU/Linux – Part II 21/11/2010
Episode 12: Novell special TechBytes Episode 12: Novell Sold for Microsoft Gains 23/11/2010
Episode 13: No guests TechBytes Episode 13: Copyfight, Wikileaks, and Other Chat 28/11/2010
Episode 14: Patents special TechBytes Episode 14: Software Patents in Phones, Android, and in General 29/11/2010
Episode 15: No guests TechBytes Episode 15: Google Chrome OS, Windows Refund, and Side Topics Like Wikileaks 30/11/2010

December 2010

Show overview Show title Date recorded
Episode 16: No guests TechBytes Episode 16: Bribes for Reviews, GNU/Linux News, and Wikileaks Opinions 3/12/2010
Episode 17: No guests TechBytes Episode 17: Chrome OS Imminent, Wikileaks Spreads to Mirrors, ‘Open’ Microsoft 5/12/2010
Episode 18: No guests TechBytes Episode 18: Chrome OS, Sharing, Freedom, and Wikileaks 11/12/2010
Episode 19: No guests TechBytes Episode 19: GNU/Linux Market Share on Desktop at 4%, Microsoft Declining, and ChromeOS is Coming 16/12/2010
Episode 20: No guests TechBytes Episode 20: GNU/Linux Gamers Pay More for Games, Other Discussions 18/12/2010
Episode 21: No guests TechBytes Episode 21: Copyright Abuses, Agitators and Trolls, Starting a New Site 20/12/2010
Episode 22: No special guests TechBytes Episode 22: Freedom Debate and Picks of the Year 27/12/2010

January 2011

Show overview Show title Date recorded
Episode 23: Tim, Gordon, and Roy TechBytes Episode 23: Failuresfest and 2011 Predictions 2/1/2011
Episode 24: Tim, Gordon, and Roy TechBytes Episode 24: Android, Microsoft’s President Departure, and Privacy 10/1/2011
Episode 25: Tim and Roy TechBytes Episode 25: Mono, Ubuntu, Android, and More 14/1/2011
Episode 26: Tim and Roy TechBytes Episode 26: £98 GNU/Linux Computer, Stuxnet’s Government Roots, and More 18/1/2011
Episode 27: Tim, Gordon, and Roy TechBytes Episode 27: Linux Phones, Pardus, Trusting One’s Government-funded Distribution, and Much More 22/1/2011
Episode 28: Tim, Gordon, and Roy TechBytes Episode 28: The Weekend After Microsoft’s Results and LCA 30/1/2011
Episode 29: Tim, Gordon, and Roy TechBytes Episode 29: KDE, Other Desktop Environments, and Programming 31/1/2011

February 2011

Show overview Show title Date recorded
Episode 30: Tim, Gordon, and Roy TechBytes Episode 30: Microsoft at FOSDEM, Debian Release, and Anonymous 7/2/2011
Episode 31: Tim and Roy TechBytes Episode 31: Nokiasoft and Computer Games 13/2/2011
Episode 32: Tim and Roy TechBytes Episode 32: Desktop Environments, Computer Games, Android and Ubuntu as the ‘New Linux’, Copyright Mentality 22/2/2011

March 2011

Show overview Show title Date recorded
Episode 33: Tim, Gordon, and Roy TechBytes Episode 33: Patent ‘Thieves’ and News That Deceives 6/3/2011
Episode 34: Tim, Gordon, and Roy TechBytes Episode 34: Done on a Dongle 13/3/2011
Episode 35: Tim, Gordon, and Roy TechBytes Episode 35: You Can’t Please Some People 19/3/2011

April 2011

Show overview Show title Date recorded
Episode 36: Tim, Gordon, and Roy TechBytes Episode 36: “Come to Take Me Away” 3/4/2011
Episode 37: Tim, Gordon, and Roy TechBytes Episode 37: Escaping the Soaps 4/4/2011
Episode 38: Tim, Gordon, and Roy TechBytes Episode 38: Thanks for Reaching Out 11/4/2011

Links 13/4/2011: Nginx 1.0.0 is Out, Catchup With Some Older Non-Linux News

Posted in News Roundup at 9:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Ballnux

    • HTC Sensation smartphone runs on latest dual-core Snapdragon

      HTC announced a 4.3-inch, dual-core 1.2GHz Android phone — initially heading for T-Mobile and Vodafone before going global. The HTC Sensation features a unique, contoured display, 768MB RAM, a full range of wireless features, a new HTC Watch video service, and an updated version of the HTC Sense featuring a “active lockscreen.”

  • Applications

    • Viewnior Image Viewer
    • 10 of the Best Free Linux Earth Science Software

      Earth science (also known as geoscience) is the focus of understanding the sciences related to the planet Earth. It includes a wide range of fields such as geology, geography, geophysics, meteorology, oceanography, and glaciology. Some people are surprised to learn that astronomy is also regarded to be an earth science. Geology is generally considered to be the primary earth science.

      Earth scientists plays an important role in helping nations minimise risks that are posed by climate change and natural disasters (such as floods, tornados, hurricanes, and earthquakes).

    • Music Production in Linux 2
    • Proprietary

      • Professional Quality CAD on Linux with DraftSight

        DraftSight builds are available in both Debian and RPM packages on the product’s home page. The beta weighs in at a beefy 68.8 MB, with a prodigious list of dependencies, but it is a real, native Linux application and not a WINE port. The dependencies are standard GUI fare — Freetype, Cairo, GTK+, D-Bus, and so forth, so any up-to-date system should have no trouble installing it. Still, it might have been nice to have the dependencies listed on the web site, although that is par for the course — Dassault’s DraftSight site has an annoying habit of providing the majority of its content (including the FAQ and Getting Started Guide) as downloadable PDFs rather than simple HTML.

    • Instructionals/Technical

  • Desktop Environments

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Have Some Cheese with that Webcam

        Since the launch of Linux Magazine TV (LMTV) in February of this year, my interest in video has increased beyond any reasonable limits. I’m obsessed with video and our efforts in this new area for us. For weeks I’ve tried to find a way to use my new Panasonic HM-TA1 pocket video camera for new LMTV entries and my own projects. Last week I discovered Cheese Webcam Booth (Cheese), which is the topic of this week’s article. Using Cheese is intuitive and closely resembles the Apple iPad2 Photo Booth app. The difference in price between Cheese (free) and Photo Booth ($499+ for the iPad2) is significant, which definitely gives you something to smile about.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

    • A 300ms BeagleBoard boot?

      Make Linux Software posted a video showing the “fastest ever embedded Linux boot.” The video shows a BeagleBoard equipped with a 720MHz TI OMAP3530 processor booting Linux 2.6.32 in an impressive 300 milliseconds from boot loader to shell — although the jury is out on just how useful the stripped-down 1.5MB image might be.

    • TI launches open source project supporting its wireless chips

      Texas Instruments (TI) announced an “OpenLink” project, which has released a battery-optimized, open source Linux wireless driver stack for mobile devices. The initial release will support Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and FM communications on TI’s WiLink WL1271/3 and WL1281/3 chips, running on the ARM Cortex-based BeagleBoard and PandaBoard boards under Ubuntu, MeeGo, and Android, says the company.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Best Alternative Web Browsers for Android

          The web browser portion of the Android market is one of the most fiercely competitive markets since all users at one point or another need to browse the Internet on their devices. Although Android ships with a default web browser, the increasing demands users place on surfing the Internet has lead to the launch of more advanced browsers that offer added features and usability.

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Newspapers and Social Media: Still Not Really Getting It

    Many traditional media entities have embraced social-media services like Twitter and Facebook and blogs — at least to some extent — as tools for reporting and journalism, using them to publish and curate news reports. But newspapers in particular seem to have a hard time accepting the “social” part of these tools, at least when it comes to letting their journalists engage with readers as human beings. A case in point is the new social-media policy introduced at a major newspaper in Canada, which tells its staff not to express personal opinions — even on their personal accounts or pages — and not to engage with readers in the comments.

  • What is legitimate “newsgathering” and what is “piracy”?

    Zunguzungu’s got an excellent, nuanced piece on the creation and attribution of value in newsgathering and reporting. Zz reminds us that the current arrangement is perfect arbitrary and contingent: no underlying universal principle reifies certain news-related activities (writing the story), ascribes no ownership stake to other activities (sources quoted and unquoted, tipoffs, references); and damns yet another set of activities (curating, aggregating and commenting upon the news).

  • Why Paying Bribes Should Be Legal

    You head down to the local government office to pick up your check. But when you get there, the clerk says you can’t have the refund — unless you pay him a bribe. So you pay the bribe, and the clerk gives you your refund.

    Both you and the clerk have just committed a crime, according to Indian law.

    Kaushik Basu, chief economic adviser to India’s Ministry of Finance, wants to change that.

  • Trust Obama?

    Last week, Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) tried to get the Senate to adopt candidate Barack Obama’s core principle of presidential warmaking powers.

    Paul added an amendment to a bill that would adopt as the “sense of the Senate” the following quote from candidate Obama: “The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

  • AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile Hit With Dumbest Antitrust Lawsuit Ever

    We just wrote about how Max Davis, who’s trying to create a silly and totally pointless compulsory licensing system for MMS content was more or less laughed out of court in the lawsuit he filed against the mobile operators, claiming that they were running illegal P2P file sharing programs in the form of their MMS capabilities. It apparently took him all of a few days to come up with a new, perhaps even more ridiculous strategy: he’s suing AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile and TracFone for supposed antitrust violations over the same basic issues. Once again, it seems clear that this is an incredibly weak (and almost certainly unproductive) attempt at getting these companies to agree to his pointless licensing scheme.

  • Science

    • Space Junk Threat Will Grow for Astronauts and Satellites

      Fast-moving chunks of space debris zipped uncomfortably close to the International Space Station twice in the past week — cosmic close calls that will likely become more common over the next several years, experts predict.

      For one thing, after 50 years of spaceflight there is just more junk up there than there used to be, sharing space with vehicles and their human crews. And this debris can snowball — as when satellites collide, spawning thousands of new pieces of orbiting junk.

    • SpaceX Unveils Plan for World’s Most Powerful Private Rocket

      Private spaceship maker SpaceX announced plans Tuesday (April 5) for a new heavy-lift rocket, a vehicle that would be the most powerful commercial rocket ever built and haul much heavier loads than the company’s previous boosters.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • What’s Worse Than ‘Ruinous’?

      In 2003 Paul Ryan was one of 207 Republicans in the House of Representatives who voted for the Medicare prescription drug benefit championed by President George W. Bush—a reckless expansion of a huge program that was already heading for bankruptcy. Yesterday Ryan, who now chairs the House Budget Committee, did partial penance for that budget-busting blunder with a plan that includes ambitious Medicare reforms as well as $5.8 trillion in spending cuts during the next decade.

      At a time when Democrats and Republicans are squabbling over whether to cut $33 billion or $61 billion in spending this year—neither of which would make much of a dent in a deficit that is expected to hit $1.6 trillion—Ryan’s plan may seem breathtakingly bold. But while it is admirably forthright in some respects, it dodges several important questions. It’s too bad there is no opposing party to keep the Republicans fiscally honest.

    • CTIA cites First Amendment protection of radiation levels

      The CTIA is arguing that a San Francisco ordinance demanding radiation levels be displayed on phone packaging breaches the First Amendment of the US constitution, and is thus illegal.

      Speaking to CNET, the wireless telecommunications organisation claimed that forcing shops to reveal the specific absorption rate (SAR) of phone handsets infringes on the retailers right to free speech by compelling them to mention it. The ordinance requires all San Francisco retailers to provide the information at the point of sale, though it hasn’t yet come in to force.

    • CTIA argues SF cell phone law violates First Amendment

      San Francisco’s board of supervisors has agreed to put its Right-to-Know Ordinance under further review after the wireless industry’s lobbying arm claimed the legislation infringes on the First Amendment rights of cell phone retailers.

      In an interview with CNET, CTIA spokesman John Walls said the city cannot force retailers to distribute materials that warn consumers about the possible negative effects of cell phone radiation. “You can’t compel speech,” he said. “Telling retailers to give out that information violates the First Amendment.”

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • TSA chief defends body scanners

      Transportation Security Administration administrator John Pistole defended controversial full-body scanning techniques that have endured withering criticism from Republican leaders in Congress.

      Speaking at a Department of Homeland Security conference in Washington Friday, Pistole said the body scanners that have attracted attention in recent months were TSA’s best option for preventing non-metallic explosive devices.

    • Appeals Court Strengthens Warrantless Searches at Border

      The authorities may seize laptops, cameras and other digital devices at the U.S. border without a warrant, and scour through them for days hundreds of miles away, a federal appeals court ruled.

      The 2-1 decision (.pdf) Wednesday by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals comes as the government is increasingly invoking its broad, warrantless search-and-seizure powers at the U.S. border to probe the digital lives of travelers.

      Under the “border search exception” of United States law, international travelers, including U.S. citizens, can be searched without a warrant as they enter the country. Under the Obama administration, law enforcement agents have aggressively used this power to search travelers’ laptops, sometimes copying the hard drive before returning the computer to its owner.

  • Cablegate

    • In The End, Secret Hold On Whistleblower Protection Narrowed Down To Two Senators

      Back in January, we noted the somewhat ironic fact that a US Senator had put a “secret hold” on a bill to protect government whistleblowers. We wondered if someone would blow the whistle and out that Senator. Thankfully, the folks from On the Media stepped up, and set up a project to find out who put that secret hold on the bill. Last we had checked in, they had narrowed it down to three possible Senators: Jon Kyl, Jeff Sessions and James Risch.

  • Finance

    • Man who made coins found guilty

      In September 2008, Bernard von NotHaus donned prison stripes at the Silver Summit at the Best Western Coeur d’Alene Inn.

      Von NotHaus, 67, was at the summit pitching his own “Liberty Dollar” coins, but dressed the part of a convict to stick a symbolic finger in the eye of the federal authorities. They had seized records, dies for casting coins, and Liberty Dollars from three Coeur d’Alene businesses linked to his currency. Sunshine Minting Inc. in Coeur d’Alene made coins for von NotHaus.

    • Oh What a Lovely Budget Item

      When Bill Kristol endorsed America’s intervention in Libya, the Weekly Standard editor was being completely consistent with everything else he has said about American foreign policy. He just wasn’t being consistent with his pose as a proponent of fiscal restraint. It’s bracing to watch Kristol twirl so easily from denouncing “the Democrats’ orgy of spending” and complaining about Republicans who “don’t have a credible plan to deal with the debt or the deficit” to jubilating that the president “didn’t shrink from defending the use of force.” But the pundit’s gyrations can’t obscure a basic reality: You can pay your bills or you can be a global policeman, but you can’t do both. Not in 2011.

      According to ABC, the cost of Obama’s kinetic spending reached $600 million in its first week. The Pentagon estimates that the total could reach $800 million by the end of September, and the Pentagon just might be lowballing. Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, has told The National Journal that the price tag could “easily pass the $1 billion mark on this operation, regardless of how well things go.” And if things don’t go well…

  • Censorship

    • Google Found Liable For Autocomplete Suggestions In Italy

      Here’s yet another ridiculously bad ruling for search engines in Italy. Glyn Moody points us to the news of a blog post by a lawyer involved in the case (against Google) who is happy that his side prevailed and that Google is liable for search autocomplete suggestions. The case involved someone who was upset that doing a Google search on his name popped up “con man” (“truffatore”) and “fraud” (“truffa”) as autocomplete Google search suggestions. We’ve seen similar cases elsewhere, and France has (most of the time) also ruled against Google.

      Of course, this is ridiculous for a variety of reasons. Google is not “creating” this content. It’s accurately suggesting results based on what users are searching. Clearly, people are searching on this particular individual along with the two terms. That’s not Google’s fault. Yet Google is liable for it?

  • Civil Rights

    • Is The FBI Lying To Congress About Its Abuses Of The Patriot Act?

      As we go through this brief extension in three of the more controversial provisions of the Patriot Act, which give law enforcement tremendous leeway in spying on people with very little oversight, there have been some hearings about those provisions. At a recent Senate Judiciary Hearing about this, FBI director Robert Mueller was asked if any of the three provisions had been found to be abused. Mueller responded, “I’m not aware of any.” However, as the EFF notes, it has clear evidence of the roving wiretap being abused, which it found via some FOIA documents. Tellingly, when it requested info about Patriot Act violations, it received heavily redacted info. However, via a different FOIA request, it received other information that, when combined with the first FOIA request, reveals a clear abuse by the FBI.

      [...]

      This raises some pretty serious questions.

  • DRM

    • The Terror of Customer Expectations

      That particular war has already been lost, pretty much. Conventional wisdom among the tech savvy is that DRM is bad, and few of the indies use it. Nontechnical ebook buyers will figure it out when they decide to move to another reader system and can’t take their purchases with them. (The ebook business is so new that most people are still on their first reader and their first forty or fifty ebooks.) The day will come in the next few years when Big Print will be a lot less big, and competing against a lot more ebook publishers who have long understood that DRM does no one any good.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • “Big Content” Is Strangling American Innovation

      Innovation has emerged as a key means by which the US can pull itself out of this lackluster economy. In the State of the Union, President Obama referred to China and India as new threats to America’s position as the world’s leading innovator. But the threats are not just external. One of the greatest threats to the US’s ability to innovate lies within: specifically, with the music and movie business. These Big Content businesses are attempting to protect themselves from change so aggressively that they risk damaging America’s position as a world leader in innovation.

    • Lawmakers tell Google to do more on antipiracy

      WASHINGTON–The tone of a congressional hearing held today on antipiracy was set early when Rep. Bob Goodlatte suggested that Google was falling short in its antipiracy efforts.

    • Senator Leahy Ignores Serious First Amendment Concerns With COICA

      Seeing as he’s a Senator, it would help if he were familiar with the law. As such, he would know that (1) copyright infringement is not “theft,” and (2) yes, the First Amendment protects all kinds of speech, even speech made by criminals and (3) the Free Speech issues that many of us are concerned with are the takedowns of legitimate non-infringing content, which we’ve seen happen repeatedly by Homeland Security — which is the type of program Leahy is looking to expand with COICA.

    • Geist: Canadian-backed report says music, movie, and software piracy is a market failure, not a legal one

      Trademark and copyright holders frequently characterize piracy as a legal failure, arguing that tougher laws and increased enforcement are needed to stem infringing activity. But a new global study on piracy, backed by Canada’s International Development Research Centre, comes to a different conclusion. Following several years of independent investigation in six emerging economies, the report concludes that piracy is chiefly a product of a market failure, not a legal one.

      The Social Science Research Council launched the study in 2006, identifying partner institutions in South Africa, Russia, Brazil, Mexico, Bolivia, and India to better understand the market for media piracy such as music, movies, and software. The result is the most comprehensive analysis of piracy to date.

    • FDA, KV Pharma Bend A Bit To Public Pressure; Lower Makena Costs, Allow Competing Drugs To Remain… For Now

      We’ve been discussing how the FDA has been systematically banning drugs that have been on the market for years, and retroactively granting monopolies to particular pharmaceutical firms. The case that’s drawn the most attention is that of Makena, a drug to prevent early childbirth which is provided on the market by a bunch of different firms, and was competitively priced around $10/dose. Yet, after the FDA stepped in and gave a monopoly to KV Pharmaceutical under the economically-clueless belief that this would help make the drug “more available,” there was a massive public backlash when people discovered KV would increase the price of the drug from $10 to $1,500.

    • Copyrights

      • Why Chris Dodd Is Doing Everything Wrong With The MPAA

        We’ve certainly suggested that Chris Dodd was making a big mistake by focusing on the MPAA’s old talking points in his new role as chief of that lobbying organization. Rather than leading Hollywood to a future of new business models and smarter embrace of what consumers want, he’s kicked things off by being anti-consumer, anti-technology and a supporter of previous policies that have failed massively. It’s not exactly a recipe for success.

      • Parade Of Strawmen Dominate House Hearing About Online Infringement

        We’ve already mentioned how the House’s Hearing on: “Promoting Investment and Protecting Commerce Online: Legitimate Sites v. Parasites” turned into something of a bitchfest at Google for not waving a magic wand and stopping infringement. However, I also wanted to look at the prepared statements of the four participants, which seemed to overflow with ridiculous strawmen.

        First up, we have esteemed and respected First Amendment lawyer Floyd Abrams, who (it is always said) defended the NY Times in the Pentagon Papers case many years ago. While Abrams is widely respected, it feels like lately he’s been getting quite sloppy in his thinking. Late last year, he published a piece trying to differentiate Wikileaks from the NY Times/Pentagon Papers situation, and was widely criticized for getting many of his facts wrong — undermining his entire argument.

      • Tenenbaum Appeal Heard: Is It Okay To Make Someone Pay $675,000 For Downloading 30 Songs?

        The latest in the ongoing trial of Joel Tenenbaum, the student who was found guilty of sharing 30 songs online, and told to pay $675,000 for it, until the judge unilaterraly reduced the amount to $67,500. As we noted at the time, it really seemed like Tenenbaum had horrifically bad legal counsel, in the form of Harvard law professor Charlie Nesson, who still seems more focused on making the case a circus, rather than focusing in on the key issues. That does not, however, mean there aren’t key issues here, with the big one being the appropriate standards for determining how much one should have to pay if found guilty of file sharing.

        The appeal was just heard on Monday, and you can listen to the oral arguments (mp3) from the court’s website. It’s definitely an interesting hearing and worth listening to. As with most appeals court situations, the bulk of the work is done in the briefs that were filed prior to the hearing, and which everyone is familiar with. The oral hearings get right to the point and drill down on where the panel of judges has questions.

      • Rick James Estate Files Class Action Lawsuit Against Universal Music Over Digital Revenue

        The estate of Rick James, best known for his song “Super Freak,” filed a proposed class action lawsuit on Friday against Universal Music Group over money owed from digital downloads and ringtones.

        The new class action lawsuit comes in wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to review a case initiated by Eminem’s former Detroit-based producing partners, F.B.T. Productions, which won a lower 9th Circuit ruling last September deeming digital music to be more akin to a license than a physical sale of music. The distinction is important: Copyright owners get a 50% share on royalties from licenses but only about a 12-20% royalty rate from sales.

      • Groups slam online piracy efforts

        A coalition of progressive activists and conservative bloggers slammed the bipartisan push to crack down on online piracy backed by organized labor and the entertainment industry on Monday, calling it an encroachment on freedom of speech.

        Lawmakers from both parties are scheduled to hold a press conference at the Capitol Monday, where they are expected to renew their push for new online piracy laws that give feds greater authority to shut down sites that host or link to pirated content.

        The effort will likely resemble the Combating Online Infringement and Counterfeits Act (COICA), which was introduced by Senate Judiciary Chairman Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) and passed the committee last year. The White House has backed the effort and recommended stiffer penalties for online piracy convictions.

      • TV Site Sued For Linking To Completely Legal Videos

        There are thousands of sites that link to video on the Internet and it’s becoming increasingly common for them to be threatened by rightsholders when they link to unauthorized content. However, things have gone a stage further as a site is now being sued by a copyright group for linking to completely legal content provided by official sources.

      • Forwarding a Sentence-Long Message from a Listserv = Copyright Infringement?

        So argued Kenneth M. Stern, a California lawyer; no dice, said the district court in Stern v. Does (C.D. Cal., decided Feb. 10, 2011 but just now made available on Westlaw). No dice, said the court, concluding that the message lacked the modicum of creativity required for copyright protection — because it was so short and dictated by functional considerations — and that the copying was a fair use. Both conclusions seem right to me, though the fair use conclusion is especially clear, given the utter lack of any likely effect on the value of plaintiff’s work.

      • CRIA Watches Massive Music Piracy Crisis Devastate Unknown Band

        During the last couple of weeks a heated debate has sprung up around the claimed massive music piracy of a relatively unknown band. One Soul Thrust currently have just 176 followers on Twitter yet according to their manager the group is being destroyed by the pirating masses who have, to date, downloaded their debut album 100,000 times. With the CRIA apparently supporting the band’s position, it’s time to investigate.

      • As Expected, MPAA Sues Movie Streaming Site That Uses Connected DVD Players

        When Zediva launched, we already knew it was going to face a legal fight from the MPAA and the movie studios. The company lets people stream movies they want to see, but tries to get around the legal licensing issues by only streaming directly from internet connected DVD players, playing legitimately acquired DVDs. Their argument is that it’s really no different than renting a movie and bringing it to your own DVD player. And, perhaps, the Cablevision ruling in the US on remote DVRs gives them some support for their position. But, there was no way the industry was going to just let this go by without any sort of fight. And, so, the MPAA has now sued the company claiming that it’s a “sham,” and that Zediva is running an illegal video-on-demand service without the proper licenses. In some ways, this case could also impact the attempts by cloud music players to stream legitimate content without a license as well.

      • Movie studios sue DVD streaming site Zediva

        The movie studios have seen the online movie rental service Zediva and filed their thumbs-down review of the site in federal court Monday, asking for monetary damages and an immediate shutdown.

        Zediva.com, which officially launched in mid-March, rents new release movies without permission from the studios by letting its customers rent a DVD player and disc from afar. Only one person can rent a given disc at a time. That, the company argues, puts it in the same legal bucket as a traditional video rental store.

      • Exploit Turns Anti-Piracy Agency Site Into The Pirate Bay

        Hadopi, the French agency charged with handling file-sharers’ copyright digressions, has once again been shamed by a copyright-related blunder. The agency which mandates that all citizens secure their networks to keep out freeloading pirates, has a surprisingly unsecure site itself. Ironically enough, the vulnerability allowed outsiders to change the search engine of the Hadopi site into that of The Pirate Bay.

      • The IP Maximalist’s Guide To Making It Big
      • Techdirt talks a lot about how to make money in the music biz without actually selling music. Consider this an improvement. With these instructions, you’ll hardly have to produce any music at all, and if you do, you won’t have to go through all that time-intensive and “extremely expensive” production/promotion stuff.

      • Google Books, Fair Uses, and “Copyright” as Misnomer
      • US Government’s ‘Pirate’ Domain Seizures Failed Miserably

        Over the past several months a series of domain name seizures by the Department of Justice (DOJ) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) made headlines across the Internet.

        Under the flag of “Operation In Our Sites” the authorities shut down a dozen file-sharing and streaming sites, as well as close to 80 sites selling counterfeit goods. After two months of silence on the domain seizure front, the MPAA has now applauded the US authorities for their “successful” enforcement efforts.

      • Music Industry Will Force Licenses on Amazon Cloud Player — or Else

        Amazon’s decision to launch its new Cloud Player without securing additional music licenses has been described as a “bold move” by many observers. It takes serious guts for Amazon to simply declare that it doesn’t need licenses — especially when even casual observers know the music industry thinks otherwise.

      • Porn Company Says You Owe $25k If Content In Your Account Ends Up Pirated… Even If You Prove You Were Hacked [Updated]

        Liberty Media/Corbin Fisher continues its somewhat aggressive attempts to blame everyone but itself for failing to put in place a better business model. Remember, we just noted the bizarre claim that it made in the mass infringement lawsuit it filed that anyone who did not secure their internet routers to block all infringing material was negligent. In the comments to that post, someone pointed out that the company also had recently changed its terms of service to say that if anyone with an account had content from that account end up pirated, the user owed $25,000 even if they could prove that the account was hacked…

      • Filmmakers’ unfair argument against ‘fair use’
      • ACTA

Clip of the Day

Code is Law: Does Anyone Get This Yet?


Credit: TinyOgg

TechBytes Encoding

Posted in Site News at 4:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

SIP Communicator

Summary: File sizes to shrink considerably in future shows

TIM and I had a quick chat yesterday after it turned out that we had oversampled 38 shows/episodes, basically saving at a sample rate far greater than what we had recorded. This becomes especially problematic because audio files are serves by a cache server that drops the connection after 10 minutes, which means that timeouts will affect downloaders on a low-bandwidth connection. Some listeners reported this to us last year, but it wasn’t until yesterday that we thought about shrinking file sizes. The idea came from a listener. On an important and technical note, this listener asked whether feasible to “make the files much smaller (monophonic with a slower sample rate and lower resolution).” I then spent over an hour experimenting with Audacity and ffmpeg. I ran a series of tests where parameters in the encoders are changed and I then listened to the results. The VoIP recording we do is at 16KHz, compared to the far greater frequency which we used to encode this in (huge waste of space for no gain in quality). Eventually I found that even without using the command line, e.g. ffmpeg -ab 16k -ar 11025, I could still rely on Audacity to handle both .mp3 and .ogg extensions to produce files about a quarter of the size they used to be. The only drawback of that is that when we have music tracks (of higher sampling/resolution) they obviously degrade in quality. Since the vast majority of the recorded tracks will always be talk, that ought to be worth the compromise and smaller files would also make storage and bandwidth less of an issue (caching resolves only the latter, to a degree).

Would anybody be interested in video versions of the show? SIP Communicator and Ekiga are compatible with my webcam and gtk-recordmydesktop can be used to show Web sites and other things while the show is running.

Novell is on Microsoft’s Side

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Mono, Novell at 3:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Despite projects like OpenSUSE, Novell promote proprietary software, spreads Microsoft APIs, and gives Microsoft anti-Linux ammunition

THE video above shows Novell and Microsoft as a pair, as usual. Those two companies are not rivals. In other recent videos about Novell [1, 2] we just see a lot of proprietary software advertising from Novell, which is more like Microsoft than Red Hat. Except for Novell’s proprietary agenda and SLE* releases as described in the British technology press [1, 2], there’s negligible OpenSUSE news (very little of it these days) and news about Novell’s spreading of Mono. Some bits of news are a little more enlightening:

Gnote is a great choice because it’s lightweight and doesn’t have Mono as a dependency.

It is amazing that some people refuse to believe that Novell’s .NET/C# advocacy is any different from its Silver Lie advocacy. It’s about APIs, not just patents. The Hovsepian-led Novell is a parasite feeding on the GNU/Linux community in order to make itself richer by serving Microsoft agenda inside this community. Novell is most likely to give its patents to Microsoft pretty soon (another massive cash infusion for Novell and FUD infusion for Microsoft), so let’s not pretend that Novell is a defender of the community.

Jay Walker is a Patent Troll, Imitates the Paul Allen Model

Posted in Google, Microsoft, Patents at 3:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Jay Walker
Photo by Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA

Summary: USPTO encourages litigation — not innovation — from people who were once productive and lost the plot, then used the patent system to fulfill their sense of entitlement

Suing over 100 companies is the type of action taken by Traul Allen, the patent troll who is also the co-founder of Microsoft; and that’s just what Jay Walker is doing [1, 2, 3, 4] after serving as an actual participating member of society. From Priceline.com he moved on to this:

A group of lawsuits filed yesterday by Priceline founder Walker Digital take aim at Apple, Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and more than 100 other companies for infringing on key parts of its patent portfolio.

The 15 lawsuits, filed in U.S. District Court of Delaware, say these companies are infringing Walker Digital-owned patents covering things like e-commerce, private social-networking communications, online auctions, and a driving directions tool with visual cues.

Under the guise of “research”, Walker does the same thing as Interval, which also attacks Android (Linux-powered) right now:

In a broad move, technology research and development lab Walker Digital—which most famously gave birth to Priceline.com—has filed some 15 lawsuits against more than 100 leading technology companies, alleging they infringe on a broad array of it patents. The company chairman, Jay Walker, is the founder of Priceline.com and the lead inventor on the majority of Walker Digital’s patent and patent applications, and claims a broad number of patents that apply to ecommerce, retailing, online publishing, gaming, education and other industries—and now he wants to be compensated for other companies allegedly using his work.

The reason we’ve brought up Walker’s descent to patent-trolling is that it helps show what practices the USPTO empowers. This makes lawyers — not scientists — stronger.

Many implementations/execution are either inspired by others or are simultaneous realisations, which clearly lead to overlap. Should Google sue Microsoft for all its knockoffs of Google’s products. How about this new example?

“Me too” Microsoft now Streetside – Have they heard of Google’s Streetview?

[...]

So its not Google Streetview then is it? Just like I saw with WP7, I believe it’s a watered down version of an already successful product – I’ll let you decide though. Watch out for a Bingmobile in a town near you!

Patents are a game waged by the losers (those who cannot compete), suggests the track record. Google does not sue Microsoft for copying many of Google’s ideas (or Google-acquired ideas/companies), whereas Microsoft keeps tying to extort Android with patent lawsuits and get Google in trouble by lobbying regulators/politicians. Read this new article:

U.S. General Services Administration Associate Administrator David McClure told a Senate subcommittee Tuesday that his office hadn’t pulled FISMA accreditation from Google’s touted Apps for Government applications, but was in the process of recertifying a more advanced version of the software.

Sen. Tom Carper, D-Del., asked McClure to respond to a company blog post from Microsoft Corporate Vice President David Howard Monday charging that recently unsealed U.S. Department of Justice documents reveal that the Google Apps for Government application had not been certified under the Federal Information Security Management Act.

The DOJ documents are from a federal court case in which Google has charged that Microsoft was unfairly awarded a contract to move the U.S. Department of the Interior email systems to the cloud. FISMA certification would allow the Google apps, which were a part of its pitch for the DOI contract, to be used by a greater number of federal employees.

Groklaw remarks: “You thought 2011 was a good year to start believing every word Microsoft says about competitors? What? Are you nuts?”

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