EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

06.01.11

Pressure is Mounting for All Software Patents to be Tossed Out, Even in the United States

Posted in America, Europe, Patents at 7:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The trolls’ office belongs in the graveyard

Patent Office - Herbert C. Hoover Building

Summary: Thanks in part to patent trolls, the reputation of the USPTO is disintegrating, more calls are being made for annihilation of all software patents, and Europe is meanwhile trying to mimic or inherit the mess from the USPTO (the trolls’ office)

THE Lodsys troll has been useful in the sense that it encourages people to actively call for the end of software patents. As more lawsuits get filed by this patent troll (Lodsys carries on with yet more lawsuits in Texas, of course), one venture capitalist says that “Enough Is Enough” and to quote him from his blog:

I believe that software patents should not exist. They are a tax on innovation. And software is closer to media than it is to hardware. Patenting software is like patenting music.

The mess around the Lodsys patents should be a wake up call to everyone involved in the patent business (government bureaucrats, legislators, lawyers, investors, entrepreneurs, etc) that the system is totally broken and we can’t continue to go on like this.

First of all, the idea of a transaction in an application isn’t novel. That idea has been resident in software for many years. The fact that the PTO issued a patent on the idea of “in app transactions” is ridiculous and an embarassment.

It’s important because the patent propagandists keep saying that a business cannot receive capital unless it has some patent monopolies to exclude rivals with. Several venture capitalists have been trashing this lie over and over again; the above is just one among several who speak about the subject repeatedly. This was also published in Business Insider, which adds in a separate article that “Software Patents Are Driving Fred Wilson To The Brink” and Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry says:

He’s absolutely right.

We’ve all know the problems with the patent system. Anything and everything gets patented without regard to the merit of the idea or who actually came up with it first (as opposed to filed it first). Patent trolls go wild, racketteering startups and innovators (the opposite of what the patent system was supposed to do, reward the little guy). Big tech companies amass patents like so many nuclear warheads in an unending, resource-swallowing Cold War.

Some people claim it’s better to “reform” the system than abolish it.

But that’s not true. At least for software, patents make zero sense.

A great example of a creative industry without patents is fashion. People copy each other all the time. Do fashion houses go bust? No. Do innovators go poor? No, they keep innovating at an even faster pace.

Software companies also copy each other all the time, and straight copycats don’t generally do well. (And when they do, it’s usually not just copying the idea, it’s also great execution–ain’t nothing wrong with fast followers, who bring competition to markets.)

Gizmodo too has just published this article about why software patents should not exist. To quote the opening sentences: “Patents are supposed to encourage invention and protect inventors from being ripped off. At least, this was the reasoning when patents applied to things like steam engines and drillbits. But software? That might be a whole other question.

“Patents were always intended for physical things—mechanisms that did something better in a way that would have never been obvious to another inventors. A genuine leap forward. The advent of software complicated things—and Microsoft’s immense commercialization of software pushed software patents forward at a blistering pace.

“Things like a single-click online purchase dubiously fit that great leap criterion—and it’s yielded a giant bundle of money for Amazon, which owns the patent on that button. If you try to use it without their permission, out come the lawyers.”

How foolish does the USPTO want to look? It does not represent the will of the people, although it might represent the will of selfish patent lawyers (the patent system was not originally for them). At this current pace, the USPTO risks a collapse, no just the loss of public support. Sadly, in the mean time those American monopolies it granted to companies like Microsoft are being exploited and exported to harm Europe too. Yet again we’ve gotten hold of a new document [PDF] from the European Commission, which foolishly enough endorses RAND. It says that “intellectual property rights essential to the implementation of specifications are licensed to applicants on a (fair) reasonable and non-discriminatory basis ((F)RAND), which includes, at the discretion of the intellectual property rightholder, licensing essential intellectual property without compensation.” Something has gone slightly rotten in the Commission [1, 2].

IRC Proceedings: June 1st, 2011

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

#boycottnovell-social log

Enter the IRC channels now

Links 1/6/2011: GNU’s Proportion Measured in GNU/Linux, Mageia 1 is Released

Posted in News Roundup at 4:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • How much GNU is there in GNU/Linux?

    After building the infrastructure to analyse the code in an Ubuntu release I decided to satisfy a simple curiosity and figure out how much GNU software is actually part of a modern distribution. I picked Ubuntu natty (released in April) as a reference, am counting lines of code (LOC) as the rough metric for size of a given project, and am considering only the “main” repository, supposedly the core of the distribution, actually packaged by Ubuntu and not repackaged from Debian.

  • Raspberry Pi: Tiny Computer That Runs Linux

    700MHz processor, 256MB of RAM. It doesn’t seem that long ago since I was running a desktop PC like that. However, these are the specs of a new keyring-sized computer to be released by a UK not for profit company. They hope to be able to sell it for $25 dollars a pop, and best of all, it runs Linux.

    The idea is that this small unit can output 1080p video to a digital television. Permanent storage is provided via a memory card slot, and IO (keyboard and mouse) requires a USB hub. In other words, it’s a small but functionally complete computer.

    [...]

    As for simple MIPS/FLOPS performance, I doubt that this processor is competitive with say, a Pentium III running at 700MHz, as modern ARM processors in desktop applications tend to be power-saving rather than powerhouses.

  • Celebrating 20 Years of Linux
  • Linux Cabal

    Yesterday evening I went to a Linux user group meeting in Guadalajara, Mexico. The name of the group was “Linux Cabal”.

    The meeting was held in a very large warehouse-like room with a shelf and seats placed around the wall, and convenient electric outlets and Ethernet hookups. On the walls were mounted T-shirts of many past events, as well as posters and banners from various past Linux events and diagrams of how code goes together.

    The organizer and host of this group was a man named Richard Couture. An expatriate from the United States, he wears colorful clothes and several earrings in each ear (who doesn’t?), is helping a hawk recuperate (he has a permit from the government) as well as a pet pig (who ran around the meeting visiting people) and various other animals.

    Richard also has some ancient computer equipment that are used as tables and seats for people who do not want to use the worn, but comfy, chairs.

  • The Linux Week In Review May 31
  • Desktop

    • System76 quietly updates Starling Linux netbook with Atom N570 chip

      The folks at System76 announced today that they’re launching a new high performance 15.6 inch laptop called the Pangolin. It’s a big heavy machine that I’m not particularly interested in, but when I saw the news I decided to take a peek at the company’s 10 inch Starling NetBook page and I noticed that System76 has updated the processor without changing the price.

    • Will Google’s Chromebooks Play Well with Linux?

      But wait, there’s more! Google has also worked hard to make sure that your printer will be completely useless when connected to your new Chromebook. That’s right, unless you happen to have an ePrint compatible HP printer, using the Chromebook to print is apparently not an option.

      The best part: if you wish to connect to a standard printer at all, you must jump through more hoops and run Windows or OS X on a separate computer. Comically, no Linux support is provided for this separate computer despite the Chrome OS itself being using the Linux kernel to operate.

  • Kernel Space

    • The Linux 3.0 Kernel Will… Reboot Better?

      Beyond file-system cleancache support, a Microsoft Kinect driver, Intel Ivy Bridge support, and various open-source graphics driver improvements, the Linux 3.0 kernel may also reboot your system better. Yes, really.

      Matthew Garrett of Red Hat today is blogging about the different ways to reset an x86 system and the limitations of these five different methods available on Linux. These methods include using kbd (rebooting via the keyboard controller), triple (generating a triple fault), PCI, EFI, and ACPI.

    • Rebooting

      3.0 will ship with this behaviour by default. It makes various machines work (some Apples, for instance), improves things on some others (some Thinkpads seem to sit around for extended periods of time otherwise) and hopefully avoids the need to add any more machine-specific quirks to the reboot code. There’s still some divergence between us and Windows (mostly in how often we write to the keyboard controller), which can be cleaned up if it turns out to make a difference anywhere.

    • New Name, Same Linux
  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • digiKam 2.0 beta review – the ultimate open source image editor

        digiKam has earned a reputation as the most powerful and comprehensive photo management solution on Linux. But does the upcoming version 2.0 offer enough to keep digiKam ahead of the pack? We put the latest release through its paces…

      • Configure the Main Toolbar in digiKam
      • krunner doing just one thing

        So here’s a feature of KRunner than probably very few of you know about: KRunner can be made to query a single specific plugin for one search. You can even quite easily create shortcuts, both launchers and global keyboard shortcuts, to trigger this behavior. This feature was added some time ago by Jacopo, but it’s rather well hidden unless you know it is there or stumble over it accidentally.

      • Key open source project about to fail

        Open sourcers are a little worried that an important project is about to be killed off thanks to Nokia’s involvement with Microsoft. Nokia’s jump to Windows Phone 7 has meant that the Qt toolkit, is living a promise of continued investment, bonuses for developers who stick with the platform and even a phone or two that might use it.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Gnome Shell

        So recently I’ve finally started to try an use gnome-shell as my primary UI. I primarily use computers for web browsing and writing code. In general, I don’t use keyboard short-cuts for window management, I prefer to use the mouse only. I’ve run into some issues with usability and perhaps those more familiar with gnome-shell can help me. At the moment, I end up running a lot of stuff from the terminal since I cannot seem to find the proper way to do it from the GUI.

  • Distributions

    • Zenix 2.0

      The general goals of Zenix are:
      Buddhism within the Linux community

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

    • Gentoo Family

      • Picking up the pieces

        Lately I’ve been doing some “undertaker” work. Many of you might not be aware of that so let me explain that to you. When a developer is slacking without apparent reason, someone has to poke him about his status. This is usually done by sending two e-mails before declaring him officially away and let the infrastructure people disable his account etc. When we retire a developer, all of his packages are going to the notorious maintainer-needed list. Unless a developer picks some of these packages, they will remain on tree as long as no outstanding bugs appear on bugzilla. In this case, treecleaners will remove them. However, since the very beginning as a developer, I tried to be as close to users as possible. This is why I act as a proxy to quite a lot of them. This actually makes me feel happy and more useful, than playing solo if I may say. So, when we retire a developer, someone has to take care of his packages, reassing bugs etc. What I usually do is to search through the open bugs for easy fixes like stabilization requests or bugs that have a patch attached. This is actually a 2′ fix that would make another user happy :) But that is not enough. In my opinion, portage is growing much faster that we can handle, leaving too much craft behind in case someone retires. Quite a lot of herds are almost empty, so packages are maintained by a single developer not by a group of them. So, when he retires, nobody is taking care of his packages anymore.

      • music made with gentoo: 20110530
    • Red Hat Family

      • Is Red Hat’s Stock Expensive by the Numbers?

        The more consistent a company’s performance has been and the more growth we can expect, the more we should be willing to pay. We’ve gone well beyond looking at an 82.3 P/E ratio and though we see consistent profitability, recent growth has been slow relative to Red Hat’s expensive price multiples. But these are just the initial numbers. If you find Red Hat’s numbers or story compelling, don’t stop. Continue your due diligence process until you’re confident one way or the other. As a start, add it to My Watchlist to find all of our Foolish analysis.

      • OVA: Virtualization’s Good Eggs
      • Fedora

        • Five really unique gnome shell themes for fedora 15

          When the current gnome shell theme mockups started to coming in, one of the first reactions was that the theme looked so dark and so boring. I am one of those who admire the beauty of gnome shell and its default theme. Thanks to it, for the first time I have a wonderful looking desktop (by default) that so nice to look at (even ubuntu was never this beautiful) and at the same time does not look like a cheap windows rip off. For the first time linux desktop has a character of its own and makes a unique feel to your computer.

        • GNOME Shell, panel applets, and eating your cake

          One of the complaints doing the rounds about GNOME Shell is that it has no panel applets. This is technically true. It’s also entirely the wrong way of looking at things: I hope this post will make it clear why this is, and make some people happier with the road GNOME is going down.

          So, to start with, let’s take a step back and ask ourselves what exactly panel applets are, and what we mean by GNOME Shell not having them.

        • Kororaa 14 – Linux Mint of Fedora?

          Kororaa is a pretty desktop system that provides welcome convenience for users. It is also a plus for those not anxious to make the leap to GNOME 3 just yet. But I think in order to become a similar force as Linux Mint, releases will need to keep up with Fedora. For example, today’s release probably should have been Kororaa 15. If it continues to run a version behind, it may fail to resonate with users. Development on Kororaa 15 has begun and perhaps Smart will catch up and get in sync with Fedora in the coming months.

        • Installing Fedora 15

          The following tutorial will teach all Linux users how to install the recently released Fedora 15 (Lovelock) operating system on their personal computers.

          Fedora 15, also known as Lovelock, was released on May 24th, 2011, and it brings the highly anticipated GNOME 3 desktop environment with the GNOME Shell interface, a new search tool, Deja Dup, GTK+ 3, RPM 4.9, Mozilla Firefox 4, LibreOffice 3, and much more.

          This guide will make things very simple for you, but if you get stuck somewhere in the middle of the installation and you need help, do not hesitate to use our commenting system at the end of the article.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • antiX derivative still “Looking Good!”

          Anyone who follows and reads my journal, blogs, for forum posts anywhere on the Internet, including this blog, knows that I have been a big Debian software enthusiast for many years, and that in recent years, I have developed a particular enthusiasm and attachment to two of the MEPIS projects, SimplyMEPIS (for an easy, stable desktop system) and antiX (for a light, extremely flexible, customizable, and modifiable desktop or server system).

          As proof of how flexible MEPIS has been, antiX has been in existence over five years now and it has three derivatives (or “flavors”) of its own, the original, “full” version, a cut down “base” version, which includes a graphical user environment and customization tools, but withholds the applications so that you can select the ones you prefer, and then there is an even more minimal approach called antiX “core”, which provides the installation and configuration tools, but no graphical user environment or applications, so you completely build what you want from scratch.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • 5 Stunning Plymouth Screen Themes for Ubuntu 11.04

            Plymouth is simply an application that provides a graphical boot animation while the boot process happens in the background. Ubuntu has a simple yet beautiful Plymouth screen by default. But that doesn’t mean that you should not experiment with some really cool alternative Plymouth screens in your Ubuntu. As we had promised while featuring Zorin Splash Screen Manager, here is our collection of beautiful Plymouth Screen themes for Ubuntu.

          • The Sins of Ubuntu

            Fair or not, Ubuntu reflects on the Linux community as a whole. How well Ubuntu meets criticisms matters even to Linux users who don’t use it.

          • Ubuntu 11.10 Features Defined

            UDS is over and any post UDS super bugs (stupid ubuflu/ubupneuomonia) should be out of people’s systems. Here is the feature list of items for Ubuntu this cycle.

          • Unity interface makes Ubuntu worse.

            I downloaded the latest Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal edition. The latest Ubuntu comes by default with the Unity interface. Previously, I already got to play with the unity interface on the netbook edition but was not impressed at all. Now the netbook edition has been merged with the destkop one. The Unity user interface makes Ubuntu worse and upsets some long time Ubuntu users such as myself. I think that Unity is too prominent on the screen and lacks customization. It is nice to have a simplistic user interface instead of something so pronounced on your desktop.

          • [launchpad] team owner no longer implies team member
          • GNOME Shell Is Finally Available In The Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot Repositories [Oneiric Updates]

            GNOME Shell is now available in the official Ubuntu 11.10 Oneiric Ocelot repositories, along with most of the GNOME 3 applications (Gedit 3, Nautilus 3 Evolution and so on; some of them are available for quite some time – like Nautilus, while some were uploaded recently – like Gedit or Evolution).

          • Elementary File Browser “Marlin”, Available To Install Via Ubuntu PPA
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint 11 will not dislodge me from 10… yet

              So this weekend, because I apparently have nothing better to do, I installed the new Linux Mint 11 (Katya) on one of my test machines.

              Readers will remember my recent post praising Mint 10. I’m using it on my laptop right now, and it’s super stable and very polished. I have a hard time remembering any distro I’ve liked better, actually, so Mint 11 has a tough act to follow.

            • On Upgrading to Linux Mint 11

              The restoration of the extra software that I had added beyond what standardly gets installed was took its share of time but the use of a previously prepared list made things so much easier. That it didn’t work smoothly because some packages couldn’t be found the first time around so another one was needed. Nevertheless, that is nothing compared to the effort needed to do the same thing by issuing an installation command at a time. Once the usual distribution software updates were in place, all that was left was to update VirtualBox to the latest version, install a Citrix client and add a PHP plugin to NetBeans. Then, next to everything was in place for me.

            • Bodhi Linux Service Pack 1 Ready to Go
            • Super OS 11.04: Ubuntu 11.04 With Muscles

              Hacktolive.org announced today, May 30th, the stable and final version of Super OS 11.04, their Ubuntu 11.04 based Linux distribution with “super powers.”

              Super OS 11.04 includes extra apps, patches, utilities and other useful packages that are missing from a standard Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) default installation.

              Among the applications included in the new Super OS 11.04 distribution we can mention powerful web browsers such as Google Chrome and Opera, aMSN instant messenger, the VLC Media Player with support for DVD playback, a Live USB creator, and much more.

            • Mint 11 Screenshots
            • The Perfect Desktop – Linux Mint 11 (Katya)
  • Devices/Embedded

    • Linaro supports Linux and Android on new Cortex-A9 open platform board

      Linaro announced an open-platform $199 “Origen” development board made by InSignal that incorporates Samsung’s dual-core Cortex-A9 Exynos 4210 processor, a Mali400 GPU, and Linaro open source Linux and Android BSPs. At Computex this week, Linaro is demonstrating its first Linaro Evaluation Builds for Android and Ubuntu, and announced a Linaro Partner Program, with founding members including Canonical and Mentor Graphics.

    • Phones

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Lenovo’s MeeGo Netbook: Hands On

        It hasn’t been exactly smooth sailing for MeeGo, Intel’s Linux-based operating system that was developed to go up against offerings from Google and Apple. But there have been signs of life here at Computex 2011, beginning with Asus’s launch of the EeePC X101. And now there’s the Lenovo Ideapad S100, which was spotted in the wild running a version of MeeGo that’s actually usable. Let’s take a closer look.

      • Asus netbooks include MeeGo model

        Undeterred by slumping netbook sales, Asus announced three such devices, one of which — the Eee PC X101 — will be offered with the Linux-based MeeGo operating system for just $200. The EeePC X101 comes with a new 1.33GHz Atom N435 processor, while the Windows-only EeePC 1025C and 1025CE will include the “Cedar Trail” Atom N2600 and N2800, according to multiple reports.

      • Are Android Tablets Stumbling Out of the Gate?

        “Android will eclipse in the next two years. It is just a matter of getting the devices into the market,” Brian Reed, vice president of products and CMO for mobile management platform provider BoxTone, told LinuxInsider.

      • Asus shows Android-based phone/tablet combo and seven-inch 3D device

        At this week’s Computex conference in Taipei, Asus unveiled an Android-based hybrid tablet/smartphone device called the Padfone, embedding a removable smartphone in a 10.1-inch tablet. The company also announced a more conventional seven-inch tablet called the Eee Pad Memo 3D, with Android 3.x, a stylus, and glasses-free 3D video playback.

Free Software/Open Source

  • The Open Source Road Ahead: Open Source and Parmesan Cheese
  • Getting help with open source software

    One of the best things about open source, particularly those that adhere to the GNU General Public License (GPL) is that the code must be made available for the general public. This entire design has many benefits as described by the GPL’s creator, Richard Stallman. If you ever want some interesting reading, look into why he created the GPL and what it is designed to do. I’ve found it very interesting on his personal thoughts and what he experienced with the Xerox code and how it spawned his crusade for opening up source code for software. The book “Free as in Freedom” is a good read on this subject.

    Recently as I wrote about previously, I had the pleasure of replacing Windows XP and Windows 2000 with Fedora 14 for several people. With those deployments, I found a problem with each one that I was not able to fix right away. It was with Rhythmbox (a full featured media player that is installed with Fedora by default). Rhythmbox has been quirky in the past, partially because I think the developers have tried to make it support a wide variety of players, formats, and also give it a lot of features that are common with media players now. But, the issues I saw with every Fedora 14 installation was that when opening Rhythmbox the first time, it would pop up with an error saying “Unable to activate plugin Audio CD Player”. After clicking Close for the error, Rhythmbox would open up and work until a mp3 song was played. When playing any mp3 song, another error would pop up saying “The playback of this movie requires a GStreamer element audioconvert plugin which is not installed.”.

  • Why you should pay for “free” software

    Tell me, what’s the difference between open source and commercial software? If you’d have asked me not long ago, I’d say that there was a world of difference between the two, and that they both sat at opposite ends of the software spectrum. “Isn’t it bad,” I thought, “to pay for software?”

    No! The correct answer is that it’s perfectly OK to pay for free software. Free and open source software at its heart is a philosophy: it is software that enables and empowers through the provision of its own internal code. This offers the public auditable standards, and an end consumer has the final say in choice, customization, and community.

  • Open Source Tools and the End of Price Gouging

    Have you ever read Tolstoy’s famous short story “How Much Land Does a Man Need?” It’s a morality parable about a man whose greed for land leads to his death. On the technology scene these days, it’s worth asking an analagous question: How much technology does a man (or woman) really need? There are numerous signs that upcoming operating systems, chips and other key components represent overkill for many users, and lots of those users can take advantage of fully functional technology for free, or for very low prices. Open source has helped create this environment, and as the trend continues, it bodes especially well for open source platforms and applications.

  • Google open-sources WebRTC
  • Events

    • Ten days to SELF 2011.

      This weekend included a Monday holiday for people in the USA. Unfortunately, my enjoyment of said holiday was interrupted by coming down with some sort of sinus bug on Friday, which wiped about half of my weekend. On Monday, though, I finished some retouches on my presentation for the upcoming Southeast Linux Fest 2011, where I’ll be talking with people about “Graduating to GUI: PyGObject for Beginners.” This is an update to a talk I gave last year on PyGTK, incorporating information about what’s changed from a beginner’s perspective.

    • Submit a Talk for Ohio LinuxFest 2011
  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Oracle v. Google – Google decides to pack some heat

      In a sign that it is doubling down and getting serious in the case brought by Oracle, Google has now retained well known patent litigator Robert Van Nest of Keker & Van Nest, LLP. The Keker firm has represented Google in other cases in the past, but interestingly, they have also represented Oracle. At present Van Nest is representing HTC in its on-going battles with Apple. A tribute to Van Nest’s abilities is his being named the Bet-The-Company litigator of the year for the San Francisco region by Best Lawyer. With the addition of Van Nest and his team from Keker, the Google litigation team now includes the firms of King & Spaulding and Greenberg, Traurig (GB attorneys: Ian Ballon, an experienced IP litigator and well-regarded expert on IP, and Heather Meeker, an expert on open source).

    • VirtualBox 4 Builds a Clean and Easy Sandbox Inside Your Linux Desktop

      Constantly testing software and tinkering with a variety of Linux operating systems puts my multiple test-bench computers to constant use. Granted, Linux comes with a lot fewer security risks. But dealing with unknown factors and beta glitches can be time consuming to correct when they take down an entire box.

      A much safer and quicker way to deal with such potential harm is to spare the physical machines and run the new stuff in a virtual machine instead. Oracle’s (Nasdaq: ORCL) VM VirtualBox 4.0 is a handy app for doing just that. It runs nicely in a variety of Linux distros.

  • CMS

    • Avoid these Drupal hosting mistakes

      Reliable, high-performance hosting begins with good planning. Believe it or not, one of the most common mistakes is also one of the most obvious: Not anticipating a surge in demand. Whether you’re the site owner, developer or hosting provider, it’s critical to consider this factor. Commercial sites, for example, will experience upticks with every sales promotion, publicity event, or shift in user base. If your hosting environment isn’t capable of scaling quickly to accommodate these changes, you risk frustrating users and incurring potential losses in revenue.

  • Education

    • CH Parliamentarian: Schools should use open source to inspire students

      Changing their attitudes from mere consumers into participants, will make students more interested in IT, she believes. “Schools simply apply IT, ignoring the educational possibilities of new technologies.”

      Schools in Switzerland should increase their use of open source software, says National Councillor Kathy Riklin.

    • Anki – An alternative learning program

      There are two simple concepts behind Anki: active recall testing and spaced repetition. They are not known to most learners, despite having been written about in the scientific literature for many years. Understanding how they work will make you a more effective learner.

      Active recall testing means being asked a question and trying to remember the answer. This is in contrast to passive study, where we read, watch or listen to something without pausing to consider if we known the answer. Research has shown that active recall testing is far more effective at building strong memories than passive study.

    • A counter-response: Education in 2030

      Mel Chua’s recent post Education in 2030: Open source and community based is typical of the challenges to the educational establishment that are en vogue today. Because I know her well, trust her a great deal, and know that she works and thinks hard about FOSS participation and education, I feel mostly comfortable using her post as a starting point for my response. I say “mostly” because I’m going to challenge her writing, and that my reflections here are meant to be the start of a discussion/debate — this is all complex stuff we’re talking about.

  • Public Services/Government

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Simple Java API for ODF Release Notes

      We are pleased to announce the release of the Simple Java API for ODF version 0.6 today. A major improvement of this version is the chart API. Now you can add charts to text, spreadsheet and presentation documents with easy-to-use methods. An interesting demo is uploaded to the website to show how to create a presentation/text/spreadsheet document with charts only using Simple ODF API.

Leftovers

  • Security

  • Transparency/Cablegate

    • Alaska Prepares to Release Palin Emails

      But officials say they are withholding 2,415 pages that are privileged, personal or otherwise exempt from the state’s disclosure laws. As the Daily News notes, it also “remains to be seen how many of the released emails are going to be at least partially blacked out.”

      A host of media organizations requested the records during the 2008 presidential campaign, when Palin was named as a the Republican VP nominee. But at the time state officials said they weren’t prepared to handle the requests for a number of reasons, including an antiquated electronic database system and the fact that Palin commonly used a personal Yahoo account to conduct official state business.

    • WikiLeaks Haiti: Let Them Live on $3/Day

      The factory owners told the Haitian Parliament that they were willing to give workers a 7-cents-per-hour pay increase to 31 cents per hour to make T-shirts, bras and underwear for US clothing giants like Dockers and Nautica.

      But the factory owners refused to pay 62 cents per hour, or $5 per day, as a measure unanimously passed by the Haitian Parliament in June 2009 would have mandated. And they had the vigorous backing of the US Agency for International Development and the US Embassy when they took that stand.

      To resolve the impasse between the factory owners and Parliament, the State Department urged quick intervention by then Haitian President René Préval.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Germany to scrap nuclear power by 2022

      Germany on Monday became the first major industrialised power to agree an end to nuclear power in the wake of the disaster in Japan, with a phase-out to be completed by 2022.

      Chancellor Angela Merkel said the decision, hammered out by her centre-right coalition overnight, marked the start of a “fundamental” rethink of energy policy in the world’s number four economy.

    • Cleaning Up Japan’s Radioactive Mess with Blue Goo

      A clever technology is helping hazmat crews in Japan contain and clean up the contamination caused by the ongoing nuclear disaster there: a blue liquid that hardens into a gel that peels off of surfaces, taking microscopic particles like radiation and other contaminants with it. Known as DeconGel, Japanese authorities are using it inside and outside the exclusion zone on everything from pavement to buildings.

  • Finance

    • Libya’s Goldman Dalliance Ends in Losses, Acrimony

      In early 2008, Libya’s sovereign-wealth fund controlled by Col. Moammar Gadhafi gave $1.3 billion to Goldman Sachs Group to sink into a currency bet and other complicated trades. The investments lost 98% of their value, internal Goldman documents show.

    • Lambregts Says EU Debt Woes `Banking Crisis in Disguise’
    • Are Taxes in the U.S. High or Low?

      Historically, the term “tax rate” has meant the average or effective tax rate — that is, taxes as a share of income. The broadest measure of the tax rate is total federal revenues divided by the gross domestic product.

      By this measure, federal taxes are at their lowest level in more than 60 years. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that federal taxes would consume just 14.8 percent of G.D.P. this year. The last year in which revenues were lower was 1950, according to the Office of Management and Budget.

      The postwar annual average is about 18.5 percent of G.D.P. Revenues averaged 18.2 percent of G.D.P. during Ronald Reagan’s administration; the lowest percentage during that administration was 17.3 percent of G.D.P. in 1984.

    • Galbraith on Goldman Sachs and the Fed

      Age of Uncertainty which came out of a BBC series of the same name. While there was much of interest a second time around, a couple of items jumped out at me. The first was the role that Goldman Sachs played in the run up to the 1930s Depression; not unlike it’s role in the current Great Recession.

    • Moody’s, S&P Caved In to Ratings Pressure From Goldman, UBS Over Mortgages

      Moody’s Investors Service and Standard & Poor’s adjusted the way they graded securities after Goldman Sachs Group Inc., UBS AG and at least six more banks pressured them, according to a U.S. Senate report.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Canada’s Intellectual Property Protection for Pharmaceuticals Stronger In Many Ways than EU and US

      Canada’s intellectual property system for pharmaceuticals is already stronger than that in any other industrial sector in Canada, and is in many ways stronger than pharmaceutical IP in the European Union (EU) and United States (US), according to a new report by Edward M. Iacobucci, the Osler Chair in Business Law at the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Law.

    • Copyrights

      • Massive Copyright Class Action Settlement Approved: Record Labels to Pay $50 Million
      • Access Copyright Responds: So Much For Getting the Facts Straight

        Access Copyright has posted a two-page response to my recent series of blog postings (transactional licensing, economics of the collective, future reforms, all three posts in single PDF) titled “Let’s Get the Facts Straight on Access Copyright.” Unfortunately, as has become typical for an organization that based its advocacy strategy on Bill C-32 on misleading claims about fair dealing in an effort to “break through” beyond talk of digital locks and levies, the document contains very few facts to address its transparency and financial concerns.

      • Big Content sued for not paying musicians

        While Big Content claims that it is taking action against file sharers to protect the poor struggling musicians, it seems that this is not the case.

        A judge has given the go-ahead to a $50-million settlement in a copyright infringement lawsuit brought against four Canadian record labels for unpaid royalties. Judge George Strathy of the Ontario Superior Court of Justice approved the settlement of the proposed class action in Toronto on Monday.

      • Senators Want To Put People In Jail For Embedding YouTube Videos

        So yeah. If you embed a YouTube video that turns out to be infringing, and more than 10 people view it because of your link… you could be facing five years in jail. This is, of course, ridiculous, and suggests (yet again) politicians who are regulating a technology they simply do not understand. Should it really be a criminal act to embed a YouTube video, even if you don’t know it was infringing…? This could create a massive chilling effect to the very useful service YouTube provides in letting people embed videos.

Reader’s Picks

Clip of the Day

Benny Goodman Orchestra Sing Sing Sing from Hollywood Hotel


Credit: TinyOgg

More Microsoft Bribery (‘Incentives’) to Keep Linux at Bay

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Hardware, Microsoft at 11:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Stop sign

Summary: Microsoft is blocking Linux/Android by giving “incentives [...] in exchange for accepting the restrictions”

From Dina Bass (Microsoft sympathiser) and her colleagues we now learn more about an issue we covered last night. From the new article: [thanks to Will for the link]

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) has asked chipmakers that want to use the next version of Windows for tablets to work with no more than one computer manufacturer, three people with knowledge of the plan said.

Chipmakers and computer makers that agree to the terms will get incentives from Microsoft in exchange for accepting the restrictions, which tie a single chipmaker to one tablet design, said the people, who declined to be identified because the new program hasn’t been made public.

[...]

Under the plan being proposed by Microsoft, a given chipmaker would have to ally itself with a single PC manufacturer in order to qualify for certain incentives. Those may include features that ensure the device runs better or lower prices for the software, one of the people said.

Acer Inc. (2353) Chief Executive Officer and Chairman J.T. Wang, in an interview yesterday at the Computex trade show in Taipei, said Microsoft was trying to set limits on other companies. He didn’t specify the restrictions.

“They’re really controlling the whole thing, the whole process,” Wang said of Microsoft. “They try to set the game rules,” he said, and chip suppliers and PC makers “all feel it’s very troublesome,” he said.

Are the regulators paying attention? Microsoft seems to be breaking the law again, not just with blackmail. Microsoft used the same anti-competitive and consumer-hostile strategy when GNU/Linux was thriving on sub-notebooks. If this is not a violation of the law, it should be. It corrupts the free market, it is a form of collusion. Intel got brutally nailed for such crimes (before it paid AMD to keep silent on this matter).

The above restrictions are not intended to prevent tablets from cannibalising Windows sales on the desktop because almost no tablets run Windows (and Acer does not preinstall Mac OS X). That’s just spin on Microsoft trying to assassinate competitors, notably Linux.

IBM Takes ODF to Another Level

Posted in IBM, OpenDocument, OpenOffice, Standard at 11:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sam Palmisano
Photo by Dan Farber

Summary: OpenOffice.org is moving to Apache, which helps IBM after a short moment of uncertainty and doubt

PR blunders aside (IBM PR telling me, “if you blog about the end of this case, none of this information came from IBM, okay? Cheers…”), it has just been announced that, as SJVN told us all last night, OpenOffice.org is going to Apache and the IBM folks are quick to issue remarks about it, led by Brill, Weir, and Sutor. Weir says that:

Oracle has followed through with their earlier promise to “move OpenOffice.org to a purely community-based open source project.” OpenOffice is moving to Apache.

Prior to that Weir also said: “Disappointing to see so-called open source proponents desperately trying to squash an open source project. It must be Tuesday.” It is not clear if he was referring to the petition to Oracle. Perhaps he should clarify his statements, e.g. with a link.

Remember how IBM reacted after Oracle had sued Google. The issues of patents will be discussed here later. IBM almost bought Sun.

Sutor writes:

It’s been an interesting road to get to this point over the decades, with well and not-so-well publicized twists and turns, but I’m glad we got here.

We’ll have more about this shortly, hopefully something unique (although the Internet will be flooded by pundits). Let us remember that OpenOffice.org is Free software and so is LibreOffice. There is a lot to be said now which probably will be said by every FOSS/Linux site.

In defence of IBM, the company is bigger than Microsoft, but it is not fundamentally against Free software. Scale is not the problem (SCO, for example, was always quite small). Prepare for a lot of FUD from the Microsoft camp, which harbours the #1 cash cow.

IBM PR is ‘Shaping’ the News (and Asks to Remain Secret)

Posted in IBM, Marketing at 6:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IBM logo on media

Summary: PR staff from IBM tries to affect coverage in Techrights, then asks not to be mentioned as a source

IBM has been keeping a somewhat low profile since all the antitrust trouble it was having. But the company is vast and behind the scenes it has mysterious ways of working (whilst also silently working to preserve software patents). Last night I spent about an hour on the phone confronting IBM. Without getting into all the details, the gist is that we have a policy of rejecting PR manipulation of stories as they develop. IBM seems to think otherwise and we do not appreciate it. This is insulting and degrading. Any journalist who works at the behest of PR people should feel violated and used. People are not pawns of other people on the payroll of large multinationals and they mustn’t be, either. Hitherto we have covered the mischief of Microsoft PR agencies and the only credit we can give to IBM is that it does not do all of its PR via proxies.

We can probably be described as “pro-IBM” because the company has been good to Linux. In the interest of fairness, however, we would like to explain IBM’s weird policy of handling the press, which possibly includes sites like Groklaw. This only delegitimises IBM, which tries to give foresight regarding legal cases. This oughtn’t be done.

“All our readers need to know is that IBM is mass-mailing (“spamming” as some would call it) many people with blogs/papers to affect coverage of the Neon case.”It was not easy to really gather all of this information and it needed to be verified in person. The PR agent who contacted us tried to avoid admission of error. And it turned out that he does not actually read the site (not regularly), even though it took a long time to get such admissions, which needed the right questions to be asked. When asked the right questions, which had the person avoid answering or first not answering and only later realising that it is better to answer (and verify the suspicions) than to deny, truth came out. All our readers need to know is that IBM is mass-mailing (“spamming” as some would call it) many people with blogs/papers to affect coverage of the Neon case. We would have probably written in sympathy with IBM, but after this experience with IBM we’ll skip this opportunity.

It is sad to see IBM stooping so low. It’s not as though it’s a small business struggling for its survival. It is even worse when the PR agent resorts to asking to “stop the conversation” whenever a hard question is raised yet not letting me off the line for fear of what I would write (trying to almost prevent me from writing about my experiences being contacted by IBM PR). We did have a long argument about the role of PR and how it distorts the news and confuses people (the Gates Foundation, for example, is all about PR). This was discussed scarcely in IRC and Identi.ca, so not much more needs to be said. In general, however, we continue to stress that we are not interested in hearing from PR people. Techrights never received funding and it does not intend to. It is editorially independent and it takes research very seriously.

There is so much more to be said, but it’s impossible to summarise one hour of verbal chat in just one post and I wish not to cause harm to any person and/or a family. The bottom line is, IBM should drop the secrecy, it should stop trying to meddle with bloggers/journalists, and it should also start giving a damn about those ‘little people’ who do not want software monopolies and patent monopolies. Nobody deserves this kind of treatment. And let’s not get started with IBM’s many bogus PR accounts in Twitter — those who ‘follow’ real people with the intention of influencing them. We need to save the press and even social networks from mega-corporations which pretend to be peers and fight for people’s mind at the expense of these people. One quarter of everything people buy — on average — is marketing, said some recent statistics (sources unknown). When trillions of dollars are spent changing perception it is us who sponsor this and us who are subjected to disinformation. Truth is not relative. PR is the business of changing “truth”.

There is No Windows 8, It is Vista With New Tweaks

Posted in Microsoft, Vista, Vista 8, Windows at 5:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Like ribbons on a pig

“In the face of strong competition, Evangelism’s focus may shift immediately to the next version of the same technology, however. Indeed, Phase 1 (Evangelism Starts) for version x+1 may start as soon as this Final Release of version X.”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Summary: Stating the obvious about an operating system that has not a single selling point of substantial value

“If Win 8 only includes the superficial features that are predicted, then it’s a tweak of Win 7, not a new OS, and we shouldn’t have to pay for it,” wrote John Dvorak last week. Microsoft is too busy trying to block Linux at OEM levels (Windows is dying in x86 land) and amid “Windows 8″ hype our reader Ryan, who is a former Microsoft MVP, says that the “same could be said of Windows 7″ as “it’s just superficial tweaks of Vista” (see our pages about 7 and 8, the better marketed versions of Vista). The promise of a ‘new’ operating system merely shows that Microsoft is nervous.

European Court of Justice and Baroness Wilcox Could Learn From Spain, Italy

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Baroness Wilcox
Credit: Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS)

Summary: Where Spain and Italy are correct (EU Patent opposition) it remains for the United Kingdom and Brussels’ politicians to catch up

THERE IS increased pressure to legalise software patents in Europe (through the back door) and standing in the way of such a travesty we have had Spain and Italy. Spain is absolutely right and it needs to withstand financial blackmail. Some European countries have their corrupt politicians try retaliation/retribution against Spain and Italy, for merely doing what is right for the whole of Europe, not just for those nations alone. Their foes would continue to use words like “unify” and “harmonise” to deceive the masses. This daemonises those who belong to the opposition. It sounds like they are against union rather than against insidious litigation from the outside.

Techrights is grateful to the FFII for keeping track of news like this bit and this other bit, which help confirm that Spain and Italy stick to their guns.

Italy and Spain on Monday said they would appeal to the European Court of Justice against the single European Union patent approved by the other 25 EU members.

Rome and Madrid say the patent introduces “unacceptable discrimination” because it is only written in French, English and German. The announcement came at an EU competitiveness council in Brussels, where Italy’s representative, Vincenzo Grassi, called the patent “one of the most divisive pages in European Union history”. Spain’s secretary of state for EU affairs, Diego Lopez Garrido, said the patent was “a discriminatory measure that goes against the principles of the European Union”.

This brings us to the UK, which personally affects me a lot more. Baroness Wilcox has agreed to participate in a pilot program with Peer To Patent, but she does not appear to have joined the opposition above — an opposition to something which is unconstitutional and be even be described as a hack.

Our criticism of the ‘peer to patent’ approach (now in the UK [1, 2]) is not intended to stir up or cause infighting. In fact, we support Peer To Patent, but we advocate other solutions. In some sense, Peer To Patent can be a distraction and “Microsoft wants to invalidate software patents, but only when they are used against the company,” writes a reader of ours in mail that we have just received. He refers to this type of reports where Microsoft is said to be joining a “patent review group to avoid costly litigation”. The whole idea of crowd-sourcing patents only helps legitimise the system. On this specific issue even Microsoft Florian agrees.

The matter of fact is, Europe is already harmed by Microsoft and the Commission lets it be. Rather than address the patent extortion and stop letting Microsoft tax protocols, the Commission is now allowing Microsoft to get away with some of its abuses. Maybe all the lobbying has softened the regulators. In any case, for the uninitiated Groklaw has put together this summary on “European Commission vs. Microsoft”. It opens as follows:

Last week the Competition Directorate of the European Commission and Microsoft again did battle in the European courts. This time it was a hearing in the European Court of Justice to argue the propriety of the fine levied on Microsoft by the Commission stemming from the 2004 determination that Microsoft was violating EU competition laws. Microsoft was appealing the $1.3 billion fine on the grounds that it was excessive and had not been arrived at through proper due process.

We wrote about this case in recent posts about the hearing. What is really necessary now is (1) penalty for Microsoft if not embargo; (2) removal of every Microsoft APIs tax (software patents); (3) elimination of software patents in the patent office, as a matter of strong principle; (4) scraping of the EU patent, which is just a pig with lipstick on. In the UK, how about scraping anything which resembles a monopoly on software? Baroness Wilcox says that she wants to promote innovation; eliminating software patents altogether would be an important first step. Let is be said again: for GNU/Linux to ‘win’ software patents must die.

« Previous entries Next Page » Next Page »

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts