Summary: Tim and Roy return to an older format wherein they cover many different issues and close with a single track
Today’s show starts with a discussion about broadband speeds, based on some new statistics and interesting factoids. It then discusses some issues like patents, games, Windows, and GNU/Linux. We are currently transitioning into a new generation of episodes with video duality. Update: the show notes have just been published.
Summary: Pilot for a new show that will come in the form of video
THIS episode is a test which we hope will help us get sufficient feedback before the first episode of the video series/show. Please put comments at the bottom to help us improve delivery. We are already aware that audio and video are a tad out of sync (video lag) and will attempt to address that.
Update #2: After spending about 5 hours trying to push Ogg into YouTube in all sorts of ways it turned out that YouTube was the problem, not the videos (sometimes they show up, sometimes they don’t). I found a solution that involves a conversion and it ought to work now.
Posted in Patents at 10:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz
Summary: Perspective on the subject of software patents
AS PART of our special week’s coverage on software patents we now turn our attention to this recent TEDxAlbany talk from Mark Menard (November 2010). We may not agree with all of his points, but it is a relevant talk and it is quite recent.
As a secondary item, consider this guy’s show which is really quite good and deserves more exposure (he occasionally but not regularly covers GNU/Linux issues). Here he is addressing the subject of software patents. He will hopefully become a regular in TechBytes. He was on it in the latest epidsode and he expressed interest in being part of future episodes. █
Summary: Microsoft Windows is not selling well, so hardware companies ought to start looking for alternatives
Sales of Windows continue to decline as we noted earlier this week. The “operating revenue down 10%, Windows revenue 4%,” quotes a reader of ours from here, noting “that’s worse than the decline in PC market share” (an elusive market due to its general decline). He added that “tablets and smart phones are the main reasons” (many run Linux) and “Windows 7 is a failure” (which is also true as the numbers suggest, contradicting fake hype). So why aren’t more OEMs moving away from Windows just yet? Microsoft has just admitted yet again that Windows sales are declining, but we are still not seeing many OEMs that sell GNU/Linux on desktops and laptops. The FFII and AFUL try to address this issue while in the mean time, a UK-based journalist complains about Dell:
One of the first PCs that I bought was a Dell. It came with 8 Mbyte of memory, 230 Mbyte hard disc, and cost a mere £1479 (the HP Laserjet IV cost an extra £1030) – all excluding VAT. Sadly, it was running Windows 3.1, not least because at this time – 1993 – I had yet to discover free software (and GNU/Linux was, in any case, still pretty rudimentary at this point.)
Since then, I’ve bought more Dell PCs from time to time, but always with an eye on whether the machine would run GNU/Linux well. In particular, I’ve always checked whether Dell itself was offering such systems. My view was that if it did, I should buy from them in an attempt to (a) reward them for supporting open source and (b) encourage them to offer more machines.
I followed Moody’s tracks through the Ubuntu-focused link above, and sure enough, he’s right that at first glance it’s nearly impossible to find anything on Dell’s site that would seem to make it easy to order a Linux-based system. Moody’s further investigation led him to this more helpful page, but if you follow the “Shop Now” button on that page, you find a woefully incomplete landing page.
These findings are more significant than they may seem at first. It’s extremely important for the major PC manufacturers to offer Linux as an option, and make it easy for people interested in Linux to learn about its advantages. If this doesn’t seem important, just consider the success that Microsoft had in the late 1980s and early 1990s in getting PC manufacturers to adopt Windows. Its sway with them helped Microsoft put Windows on the vast majority of business desktops, and–at the time–helped squash Apple’s personal computing efforts.
There are more reasons to move away from Windows and they include security and the cost to the economy. This was talked about in IRC yesterday. Groklaw responded to this report about citizens paying for Microsoft's mistakes by writing: “Just a suggestion. If everyone used GNU/Linux, fixing a problem is so much more simple. You can delete everything except your home partition, keeping all your documents and data while reinstalling the system. Or vice versa, if it’s the home partition that is affected. You can save all your materials, then wipe out the home partition without having to reinstall everything. Of course, this kind of virus doesn’t affect GNU/Linux systems anyway, but I wonder why the government doesn’t help people to understand the security advantages they could benefit from. And users would benefit too, because they wouldn’t need to let the FBI access their computers to clean it up, a rather disturbing concept.”
More OEMs can offer dual-boot systems as standard. The GNU/Linux part (not merely fast-boot Linux) does not cost a thing and Microsoft will get the competition it deserves. It will give the OEMs a sound business model and an advantage over the competition, an added value of sorts. █
Some people might be surprised at the numbers of organisations that are now employing open source, says Jack Wallen. But which areas of activity could most benefit from its greater adoption?
Some industries with few outward signs of open source are already taking advantage of it, while in others it has no presence whatsoever. What is certain is that they could all benefit — in ways ranging from cost-effectiveness to reliability.
systemd is still a young project, but it is not a baby anymore. The initial announcement I posted precisely a year ago. Since then most of the big distributions have decided to adopt it in one way or another, many smaller distributions have already switched. The first big distribution with systemd by default will be Fedora 15, due end of May. It is expected that the others will follow the lead a bit later (with one exception). Many embedded developers have already adopted it too, and there’s even a company specializing on engineering and consulting services for systemd. In short: within one year systemd became a really successful project.
We know that there are numerous open source programs that find their home in both Windows and Linux. Many of these turn out to be among the apps that we use daily. However, did you know that you can get certain plugins only for Linux? Plus if a plugin exists for Windows, Linux lets you easily install them. Let’s find out what they are.
In 2005, the year it was published, I bought the first edition of A Practical Guide to Linux Commands, Editors, and Shell Programming by Mark Sobell. The title reads like a nutshell description one might find in the Product Description section of its Amazon page, rather than like a book title. If you think the title is a handful, you should pick up a copy of the book; it is huge, a hefty tome filled from cover to cover with explanations of a wide range of topics relevant to the operation of a Unix-like operating system via the command line interface.
The Kdenlive Team has announced the release of version 0.8. The latest version of the popular film-editing software has some cool features which include: Multi track editing; Realtime effects and transitions; Image, color, titles, video and audio clips; customizable layout and ability to export to various formats.
A couple of weeks ago, I’ve been attending 2011 user experience Sprint, in Berlin. That was interesting and nice and productive and everything, and above all it was my first live encounter with other KDE people, including Nuno.
There’s been (notably) quite some discussions about how information and functionality should be presented to users, organized and formulated, in order to be complete but not overwhelming, sexy, gratifying, and elegant.
Things one notices:
* more visible pressed tool buttons at the top
* new slider at the bottom
* and new folder icons (quite unrelated with this post actually), on which Nuno has been working lately (and I’m sure he would blog better than I about it).
Things one does not notice (but with which we are happy):
* improved holes for the scrollbars, progressbars, and main view (note notably how the main view bottom corners are better rounded)
* improved (well, bug fixed) rendering of the capacity bar at the bottom.
To give proper credit to whom it belongs, some of the improvements above have been primarily instigated by Peter Penz, Dolphin dev.
I got my “Linux start” with Slackware way back in 1995. I even bought my first home computer in order to do it. Before that time, I figured any computer use at home was probably going to be for work, so I figured that my employer should – and did – provide something, usually a terminal and a modem.
Today I installed the Beta 2 of Mageia interested in running one simple test: Japanese IME support with Libre Office.
Since I could not solve the issue myself with the approach I used in Mandriva 2010.1 (Open Office), I posted a cry for help in the Mageia forum. I got prompt, friendly, and helpful answers, for which I feel most thankful.
After the usual 6 months of development, Ubuntu 11.04 has finally been released. I usually start these posts with “there haven’t been any major or ground-breaking changes” but this time pretty much everything is new with the introduction of Unity as the default interface. Since we’ve been writing about the new features in Ubuntu 11.04 constantly, in this post we’ll only talk about the major new features. Read on!
The latest release of Ubuntu 11.04, the world’s most popular desktop Linux is out today. But, this is not just a one step forward update. No, it’s a giant leap to a new kind of Linux desktop thanks to its Unity desktop interface. Here’s what you need to know today about it.
First, as before, you can download Ubuntu 11.04 from the Web to your PC. In the next few weeks, you’ll also be able to run the Ubuntu 11.04 desktop from the cloud, but that’s not available yet. You can, however, give Ubuntu 11.04 server a try from the cloud today though.
With Ubuntu 11.04 nearly upon us, it’s time to take a look at the features which headline this latest and greatest version of the world’s most popular open source operating system. Here’s a look, broken down by Ubuntu flavor …
First, though, some quick notes for those in the dark: Set to be officially released April 28, Ubuntu 11.04 represents the midway point between the last longterm-support release of the operating system in April 2010 and the next one, a year from now. If you’re a normal person you’re probably content to stick with the LTS releases, but geeks — and those curious about the latest development trends in the open source channel — will want to upgrade their Ubuntu installation.
Canonical has released Ubuntu 11.04, née Natty Narwhal. But this release is not your ordinary update with a handful of new features in the same basic Ubuntu you know and love. No, this marine mammal is an entirely new beast, with the Unity shell replacing everything familiar about the Ubuntu desktop.
Barnes & Nobel announced that NOOK Color’s update to Android OS 2.2/Froyo offers system improvements, enhanced browser performance and a more complete Web experience giving customers access to enjoy even more video, interactive and animated content.
The Google Chrome developers at Google proudly announced last evening (April 27th) the stable release and immediate availability for download of the Google Chrome 11.0.696.57 web browser for Linux, Windows, Macintosh and Chrome Frame platforms.
The main change is that now it requires firebird2.5-dev instead of firebird3.0 headers and decided that is better to have a flamerobin 0.9.3 in the distros released for the next 1-2 years with a stable firebird 2.5.x and add firebird 3.0 requirement when is ready and stable ~1-2 years
Different teams and individuals are working on the Firefox web browser. Some are improving the web browser’s core, others are working on the interface or experimental extensions that may one day be added to the web browser’s core.
One of those experimental spin-offs is the AwesomeBar HD which is now available as a beta release for Firefox 4 and newer versions of the web browser. As the name suggests, it has something to do with Firefox’s address bar.
In a bid to further consolidate its server business in general and mission-critical server in particular, Oracle may in future cease support of popular Red Hat and SUSE Linux operating systems, according to an analyst. This currently seems to be a problem for a lot of customers using Intel Corp.’s Itanium-based systems from HP, who are unsure about the future of Itanium in general and HP-UX in particular.
A while ago back in January I came across this announcement on OSNews.com and made a mental note that this was something I had to try.
VirtualBSD 8.1 was released on or around 4/01/2011 and it basically gives you a pre-defined FreeBSD 8.1 installation with Xfce 4.6 and a range of applications in a virtual machine. It is a desktop ready FreeBSD 8.1-RELEASE in the form of a VMware appliance but can also in a few steps be made to run with VirtualBox. Read the instructions for that here.
As I already had VMware Player installed I went for using it as intended. Most of what I’m going to write you can also read on the VirtualBSD site so feel free to skip over.
The US Supreme Court has granted a whopping victory to AT&T, the US Chamber of Commerce, and supportive corporations, by reversing previous court decisions that had prevented corporations from requiring individual arbitration of customers’ complaint.
By issuing its 5-4 decision on Wednesday, the Court has essentially stripped away individuals’ rights to band together in class-action lawsuits should a corporation choose to include an arbitration requirement in its contracts or licensing agreements.
The Senate report calls for tighter regulations so that banks can’t play these games ever again. It calls for more effective regulatory agencies and rules, and it wants major reforms on the way the rating agencies work — much of this already contained in the Dodd-Frank financial reform bill. But in addition, the subcommittee obviously wants more federal prosecution of Goldman Sachs and others as it asks that “Federal regulators…. identify any violations of law…” (p 638).
With crises mounting daily—wars, deficits, debt limits, natural disasters—it’s tempting to forget the cataclysms of the past. In particular, America seems to have amnesia about the Wall Street-induced catastrophe that destroyed so much of our economy. We still haven’t learned its lessons, and if we don’t pay attention, we’re soon going to pay again for its perpetrators’ callous disregard for the public interest.
Lorin Reisner ’83 and Kenneth Lench ’84 were about to take on perhaps the most important lawsuit in the history of the Securities and Exchange Commission.
It was April 2010, and Reisner, the deputy director of the SEC’s enforcement division in Washington, D.C., and Lench, head of a key unit in the division, were preparing a civil fraud suit against Wall Street powerhouse Goldman Sachs.
The Brandeis graduates had helped successfully convince the SEC’s five commissioners to vote for the suit, arguing that Goldman misled investors about complex securities at the heart of the mortgage meltdown. But opposition within the agency was so fierce that it led to a nonunanimous vote to pursue the suit.
The American International Group, the giant insurer rescued by the federal government during the financial crisis, on Thursday will file the first of what could be a series of lawsuits against Wall Street firms, contending that it was the victim of fraud.
A new report by economists at the liberal Center for Economic and Policy Research looks at House Republicans’ plan for privatizing Medicare from a new angle, and finds that it could increase Health Care costs for beneficiaries by a staggering $34 Trillion over 75 years.
Total output grew at an annual pace of 1.8 percent from January through March, the Commerce Department said Thursday, after having expanded at an annual rate of 3.1 percent in the fourth quarter of 2010.
When the year first began, economists had been expecting a much more robust growth rate of about 4 percent, only to be barraged by bad report after bad report as the days wore on. Turmoil in the Middle East set off a jump in oil prices. Winter blizzards shuttered businesses and delayed construction, causing investments in nonresidential structures like office buildings to fall by 21.7 percent compared with an increase of 7.6 percent at the end of 2010. Imports, which are subtracted from output, surged, and military spending sank.
Berkshire Hathaway directors have accused David L. Sokol, once considered a possible successor to Warren E. Buffett, of misleading the company about his personal stake in a specialty chemicals manufacturer that Berkshire recently agreed to acquire.
Mr. Sokol, who resigned in March, never told Mr. Buffett that he had bought his stake in Lubrizol after Citigroup bankers had pitched the company as a potential takeover target, according to a report by the audit committee of the Berkshire board that was released on Wednesday.
Ben Bernanke’s first press conference wasn’t much for pomp and circumstance. Bernanke sat, he didn’t stand. The few cameras in the room didn’t hunt for the dramatic angles or work to heighten the tension between the chairman and his interrogators. Very few jokes were cracked, and Bernanke made no major missteps. It looked like what it was: an economist talking to econowonks about the economy. But tucked inside the talk of “anchoring inflation expectations” and “the economy’s central tendency” was perhaps the most important economic policy statement that Americans will hear this year: the Fed, Bernanke admitted, has chosen a side.
Under the Dodd-Frank financial reform legislation (Title II of that Act), the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) is granted expanded powers to intervene and manage the closure of any failing bank or other financial institution. There are two strongly-held views of this legal authority: it substantially solves the problem of how to handle failing megabanks and therefore serves as an effective constraint on their future behavior; or it is largely irrelevant.
Both views are expressed by well-informed people at the top of regulatory structures on both sides of the Atlantic (at least in private conversations). Which is right? In terms of legal process, the resolution authority could make a difference. But as a matter of practical politics and actual business practices, it means very little for our biggest financial institutions.
The economy slowed sharply in the first three months of the year. High gas prices cut into consumer spending, bad weather delayed construction projects and the federal government slashed defense spending by the most in six years.
The 1.8 percent annual growth rate in the January-March quarter was weaker than the 3.1 percent growth in the previous quarter, the Commerce Department reported. And it was the worst showing since last spring when the European debt crisis slowed growth to a 1.7 percent pace.
Exxon Mobil and Royal Dutch Shell reported hefty increases in their first-quarter profit on Thursday, helped by higher oil prices and earnings from refining.
Exxon Mobil, the largest American oil company, said net income rose 69 percent to $10.7 billion, or $2.14 a share, in the first three months of this year, from $6.3 billion, or $1.33 a share, in the same period last year.
The earnings beat some analysts’ expectations, and marked the fifth quarter in a row that Exxon reported an earnings increase.
Hoping to put to rest a growing controversy over privacy, Steven P. Jobs, Apple’s chief executive, took the unusual step of personally explaining that while Apple had made mistakes in how it handled location data on its mobile devices, it had not used the iPhone and iPad to keep tabs on the whereabouts of its customers.
You see, another really annoying feature of the PS3 is Sony’s removal of the Other OS option, which made it possible for people who bought a PS3 to install Linux if they were so inclined. The removal of this option was something that happend basically as soon as I got my PS3. Shame on your Sony for telling people they could use your device for a specific purpose then taking that feature away from your paying customers. To make matters worse on this front, Sony thinks it’s okay to harras, sue, and otherwise make their customers’ lives a living hell for trying to return the functionality customers paid for. Ask George Hotz how reasonable Sony is when their legal thugs come knocking. In case you haven’t been following this, George Hotz, aka geohotz, figured out a way to jailbreak the PS3 and got sued for doing so.
Quick: When you hear the phrase “app store,” what’s the first thing that comes to mind?
That’s the question a couple of tech’s biggest players — Apple and Amazon — are fighting over right now. Apple says “app store” is synonymous with its iOS App Store alone; Amazon says the term is generic and can be used by anyone.
You’ve heard about this battle, right? Apple is suing Amazon for using the term “app store” (or, more specifically, “Appstore”) in the name of its new Android application store. Apple claims it owns the trademark and has exclusive rights to the term.
Apple had filed a lawsuit in March against Amazon’s use of “App Store” in their newly launched Amazon AppStore. Apple had informed Amazon that using the term “App Store” was unlawful because they owned the rights to the term itself. In the lawsuit Amazon indicates that the term “App Store” is too generic for Apple to lay claim to the name itself.
A new Wikileaks cable confirms that the Conservative government delayed introducing copyright legislation in early 2008 due to public opposition. The delay – which followed the decision in December 2007 to hold off introducing a bill after it was placed on the order paper (and the Fair Copyright for Canada Facebook group took off) – lasted until June 2008. The U.S. cable notes confirmation came directly from then-Industry Minister Jim Prentice, who told U.S. Ambassador David Wilkins that cabinet colleagues and Conservative MPs were worried about the electoral implications of copyright reform…
The museum is rushing to digitize the collection (much of which has deteriorated or was destroyed), but the only way to hear it is to make an appointment at the museum. They insist they’re going to try to tackle the copyright issues to release the music, but it’s clear that’s going to be an incredibly difficult task. What’s really unfortunate is how all of these works should be in the public domain, if we just went by what the law said when they were made. Yet, thanks to copyright maximalism, the world and our culture suffers completely unnecessarily.
On August 7, 2008, Stewart Baker, the Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Department of Homeland Security, sent a one page letter and a three page “Policy Position on Border Measures of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement.”
Stewart Baker was the General Counsel of the National Security Agency from 1992 to 1994, and was appointed the first Assistant Secretary for Policy at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) by George W Bush.
Summary: The last among four “Linux” companies which signed a treasonous patent deal with Microsoft is sold or dismantled
Like any company which becomes a Microsoft partner, Novell has just died. And the staff exodus begins. “After nearly 2,740 days at this great company, it’s time to say goodbye,” writes Dragoon, the company’s CMO, on which his friend says: “It’s a safe — though not confirmed — bet that additional Novell executives have left the company now that the sale to Attachmate is official.”
Summary: Antitrust action justified by Microsoft’s use of a new cartel to extort or remove Android from the market
CORRUPTION is not something that Microsoft shies away from. Just look no further than the OOXML blunders. "Takeover" of Nokia (turning it so cheaply into a Microsoft drone that gets rid of Linux and Symbian people) is what Microsoft did in nefarious and underhanded ways, and based on private communications that we have, this has a lot to do with patents. We shall publish the details in the near future.
“Microsoft did not invent, research, develop, or make available to the public mobile devices employing the Android Operating System and other open source operating systems, but nevertheless seeks to dominate something it did not invent.” –Barnes & NobleTo those who think that Microsoft will just go away if it’s ignored, please pay close attention because Microsoft is a snake and its top managers, Elop included, are like some kind of disease in the industry, spreading tentacles to distort the market, even using peripheral players like Bill and Nathan who lobby for worse patents. The abduction of Nokia is probably worse than Yahoo! and Novell because it really harms Linux where Linux is winning. Following the release of documents from Barnes & Noble we find some press reports. Based on this report (“Barnes & Noble claims Microsoft Nokia patent pact is illegal”), it is apparent that Microsoft is creating a cartel, so it is already using the entryism in Nokia to attack Linux rivals, using patents. To quote: “In court documents filed by Barnes & Noble, the firm said, “Microsoft did not invent, research, develop, or make available to the public mobile devices employing the Android Operating System and other open source operating systems, but nevertheless seeks to dominate something it did not invent.” Barnes & Noble basically said that Microsoft is claiming rights over something that isn’t its property.
“If you thought that Barnes & Noble would end it there, you’re in for treat. It followed up by claiming that Microsoft is trying to make Android “unusable and unattractive”. Barnes & Noble said, “On information and belief, Microsoft intends to take and has taken definite steps towards making competing operating systems such as the Android Operating System unusable and unattractive to both consumers and device manufacturers through exorbitant license fees and absurd licensing restrictions that bear no relation to the scope and subject matter of its own patents.”
“That’s a very strong claim by Barnes & Noble and something that Microsoft will have to defend vigorously, if it can. Later on Barnes and Noble claimed that Microsoft and Nokia had agreed on “a strategy for coordinated offensive use of their patents”.”
Groklaw quotes Microsoft as saying: “In seeking to protect our intellectual property, we are doing what any other company in our situation would do.” Like who exactly? TiVo, whose loss had it “turn to suing companies that capitalized on its innovations,” based on this new analysis?
“That’s what SCO told the world,” says Groklaw about Microsoft’s response.
Also see the part which says: “Mary Jo Foley of ZDNet.com has details on the book giant’s response to Microsoft’s complaint, including Barnes & Noble’s allegations that Microsoft and Nokia are in cahoots on patents in a way that may violate antitrust laws.”
Now, IANAL, so I can’t say to what extent this is just standard lawyer bluff and bluster. But I don’t recall seeing similar wording in other cases, so I think it’s interesting that Barnes & Noble have explicitly accused Microsoft of attacking the Android world because it represents a threat to its own smartphone system. Moreover, the filing does include a lot of detailed information suggesting that there is prior art for those patents, so it’s not just saying “your patents are trivial”: it’s saying “here’s who did it before you”.
It’s great to see Barnes & Noble making such an aggressive response to Microsoft’s patent bullying. Too often, companies just roll over and cough up some dosh to make the problem go away, even if they know they are in the right. As I wrote the other day about Apple, litigation rather than innovation is seen as the best way of attacking competitors; it would be wonderful if Barnes & Noble’s approach represented the beginning of the end for this abuse of the patent system.
It’s also extremely interesting to see here the battle framed as Microsoft using its (intellectual) monopolies to attack competitors unfairly. That’s exactly what it was found guilty of during the anti-trust case ten years ago. Would it be too much to hope for version 2.0 of that fascinating exercise – maybe with a rather more effective outcome?
Software patents need to be eliminated urgently. It’s stuff like this from the news which shows there is a lot of work to be done educating people. In order for GNU/Linux to win there must be no patent monopolies. It is possible to make one’s voice heard, but policy is biased and woefully distorted at present. It assumes entitlement for middlemen like patent lawyers. It treats ideas like physical property. █