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07.15.11

Links 15/7/2011: Thunderbird In Ubuntu 11.10, Kubuntu With KDE SC 4.7

Posted in News Roundup at 7:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Redesign set to make Firefox more responsive

        Mozilla has begun turning the Firefox crank faster with a rapid-release development cycle. So what’s in store now that we can expect a new version every six weeks?

        A lot, including 64-bit support on Windows and a plan to reduce the open-source browser’s memory usage. But the most far-reaching change probably is a project called Electrolysis that splits Firefox into multiple somewhat-independent processes.

        Electrolysis holds the potential to improve responsiveness, smooth graphics performance, take better advantage of multicore processors, and tighten security. Mozilla already added one Electrolysis element to Firefox 3.6–the separation of plug-ins to their own patch of memory–but now programmers are spinning up the project again to tackle more.

      • Forget oAUTH?! Mozilla’s Browser ID

        Since the beginning of the Internet era, your email address and your ability to verify that it’s actually yours has been the lynchpin of Internet identity.

        You want to join a new site/service? Sure! Just verify your email address…

  • Funding

    • Jaspersoft Seals $11M

      Jaspersoft, a maker of business intelligence software, has inked $11 million in a round of venture capital led by Red Hat and SAP Ventures. New investor Quest Software joined in the round, which also included participation from existing shareholders Doll Capital Management, Morgenthaler Ventures, Partech International, Scale Venture Partners, and Adams Street Partners. The money will be used for expansion and potential acquisitions. Jaspersoft is based in San Francisco.

    • Will Red Hat Buy Jaspersoft?

      Amid its march toward $1 billion in annual revenues, Red Hat continues to invest more money in Jaspersoft — an open source business intelligence company. The VAR Guy has openly wondered — multiple times — if Red Hat will ever fully acquire Jaspersoft. Hmmm…

      No doubt, Jaspersoft is an attractive company. More than 14,000 commercial customers use Jaspersoft’s business intelligence software, which is available on premise and in the cloud. Backed by $11 million in new funding, Jaspersoft is considering “potential strategic acquisitions,” according to a prepared statement.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Stallman to give talks in Israel

      Free Software Foundation chairman Richard Stallman will give two talks in Israel next week, according to information supplied by him.

      Stallman will be giving a talk on Copyright vs Community in the Age of the Computer Networks at the Baladna Youth Club in Haifa on July 21 in Haifa

  • Licensing

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Interview: Thomas Thwaite, designer and technologist, peeks into the future

      Thomas Thwaite, designer and technologist, is perhaps best known through his Toaster Project. The Toaster Project was an attempt to build a toaster from raw, self-mined materials. The project exposed the complexity of seemingly simple and everyday technology. It leaves us to wonder how technology will change our lives in the future, and shows how we all need others to get even simple products.

  • Programming

Leftovers

  • FBI Probing News Corp Over 9/11 Victims Allegations

    The FBI has opened an investigation into whether reporters for Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp hacked into the phone records of 9/11 victims, according to the FBI’s New York office.

    A source with knowledge of the FBI investigation confirmed news of the probe to TPM, saying it’s been launched in part because of Rep. Peter King’s (R-NY) high-profile letter calling for an investigation.

  • Cablegate

    • How Wired Magazine Helped The US Government Try To Frame Julian Assange (And Failed)

      Firstly, and most importantly, it’s now clear that Julian Assange did NOT know if Bradley Manning was the source who leaked the US cables to WikiLeaks. Manning tells Lamo that Assange “knows little about me” and “he takes source-protections uber-seriously.” Furthermore, he says, Assange “won’t work with you if you reveal too much about yourself.” Assange even instructs Manning to lie about his identity!

      This blows apart the US government’s protracted efforts to suggest that Assange actively enticed Manning to hand over the cables, and thereby charge the Australian with criminal activity. In fact, it was only through his own protracted sleuth work that Manning even knew who HE was talking to: “it took me four months to confirm that the person i was communicating [with] was in fact assange”.

  • Finance

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Classic Horror Films You Can Legally Watch for Free

        The Internet Archive is home to gigabytes of media that anyone can view or download for free. Finding what you’re looking for can often prove problematic however, mainly because there’s just so much to see. Those of you who are fond of suspense, thrills, blood and guts will be pleased to know we’ve hacked and slashed our way through the tripe to find some of the best scary films available in the public domain.

TechBytes Episode 55: Google’s Growth, Sabayon Linux 6, and Sony-Microsoft

Posted in TechBytes at 6:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

TechBytes

Direct download as Ogg (1:12:17, 16.0 MB) | High-quality MP3 (26.8 MB) | Low-quality MP3 (8.3 MB)

Summary: Tim and Roy do the first show where an outline of topics was prepared in advance by both sides

Tim and Roy speak about a variety of subjects ranging from Nortel’s patents, Google’s amazing Android growth, and Google Plus to Ubuntu decline in the news, Sabayon Linux 6, Mozilla versions, and KDE 4.7 (RC). Roy mentions his Argos/Archos revelations from yesterday while Tim brings up a Microsoft rumour and ACS:Law news. Update: the show notes are out.

The show features “Love Is A Dirty Word” by Jason Collett, “Luxury” by Tigersapien, and “Divide & Conquer” by Vandaveer. We 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):

Read the rest of this entry »

Kappos is Granting More Monopolies (or Rejecting a Lot More)

Posted in Patents at 1:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Probably not the latter

Summary: The head of the USPTO celebrates the news of backlogs receding and Peer to Patent is apparently equally jubilant

IN THE freaky world of patent lawyers, good patents are broad patents that can get everyone sued. In the world of OIN, a “good” patent is one that would be hard to invalidate. In the USPTO, all patents are “good” because they are a source of income. In principle, the USPTO under Kapos is a lost cause and according to this new post from Kappos, despite the recession/depression, they are speeding up the processing of monopoly applications. This is the last thing the United States needs right now, especially given how hard patent trolls and patent cartels are hitting. The reaction from Peer to Patent is a foolish remark to say the least. The person fielding their Twitter account says:

Looks like the signs of progress at the USPTO! Backlog receding!

Unless it’s sarcasm, this is bad because we generally see that the number of patents increases over time. So the news above may be indicative of matters getting worse, not better, except from the USPTO’s point-of-view because patents are just business to these people. The president of the FFII responded by writing “More patents!”

Yes, this is probably what the USPTO considers to be “success”. If the USDOJ wants to clean up the anti-competitive mess, a good place to start would be a rethink of the USPTO. As one person pointed out some hours ago:

the uspo just approves patents now days, they are a gigantic money hole. They let litigation test the validity of patents.

Claudio from Linux Basement replied with

Talk about a waste of money on paying those salaries if they aren’t going to do their job of properly approving patents.

What a waste of productivity and what a toll on everyone. Citizens of the United States would be up in arms if they understood the ramifications that are kept hidden from them (like artificially elevated cost on everything in the market). The backlogs used to be a symptom and an argument for overhaul of the USPTO; by throwing more people at the problem, the USPTO helps ensure it keeps doing its rancid things, granting yet more monopolies on yet more walks of life. People need to get up and protest.

Show

Rick Falkvinge: From Microsoft Employee to Patents Foe

Posted in Intellectual Monopoly, Microsoft, Patents at 1:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rick Falkvinge
Photo by Jon Åslund

Summary: An analogy is being used to exemplify the absurdity of patenting ideas for 20 years, coming from the same person who has urged for patents rethink for several years

Rick Falkvinge, a former Microsoft employee whom we mentioned here before on many occasions [1, 2], is a good activist. He moved away from his Microsoft roots and proceeded to making a Pirate Party. He is a reformist.

In interesting news, Masnick draws people’s attention to an interesting patents analogy:

Rick Falkvinge has posted a thought-provoking piece that analogizes the patent system to various forms of web caching and their impact on discussions. As he notes, in online discussion forums and blogs, if there’s a delay from when your comment is made to when it appears, the conversations tend to be slower and less involved. It gets really bad when all comments need to be moderated and that’s because you don’t get that immediate fulfillment. Honestly, one of the reasons why I think Twitter took off at the level it did was because it felt so realtime (and became more so over time).

Here is the original piece (from Sweden), stating: “Now, imagine a twenty-year web cache server. If you come up with a good idea, people won’t be able to improve on your ideas and take them to the next level for twenty years. Another twenty for a total of forty years before you could respond in turn. You suffer. They suffer. The exchange of ideas as a whole doesn’t just suffer, it crawls to a near-stop, its velocity measurable only by laser precision measurements.”

Is it reassuring to see people who depart from the sociopaths of Microsoft (currently extorting rivals with patents) and see the light.

Europe Patent Law Under Pressure, APRIL Gets Increasingly Involved

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

April logoSummary: Another attempt at EU-US patent fusion and a call from French advocates (Jérémie Zimmermann et al.) to put an end to that

THE EU software patents situation is not getting better but it has not been getting worse, either. The fact that we keep reporting on crooked politicians can keep them shying away from harmful policies. Those who pursue the EU Patent have not made any considerable progress and there is veto from at least two large countries (Spain and Italy). James Love states that:

At US/EU IPR Working Group meeting, Qualcomm suggested USTR back EU style software patents, to get more global acceptance of sftw patents.

A shame really. The response from the FFII’s president is that “EU style software patents means writing in the law the exclusion of software patents”

He also highlights this new page, noting that:

Veron starts website with patent case law in France

According to a new audio recording, claims the FFII’s president, “Software patents are back via the Unitary Patent, says leading Free Software organisation APRIL” (which is involved in other areas). They recently complained about Barnier as well. Let’s keep Europe — and by extension the world — free from software patents. The caselaws are not favourable to software patents in the EU.

“[The EPO] can’t distinguish between hardware and software so the patents get issued anyway.”

Marshall Phelps, Microsoft

ZDNet UK: Is the Affair With Microsoft Over?

Posted in Deception at 12:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: “Windows 7″ is no longer a top-level section in ZDNet UK and we raise questions about the role of advertisers in news sites

SOME months ago we took the screenshot above. It showed that ZDNet UK was almost certainly paid by Microsoft to alter its content and add a Microsoft product as a top-level section. Well… no more.

Not enough can ever be said about the way corporate media works. I saw it myself when I wrote for online publications. To suggest complete separation between advertising and stories is ludicrous at best because editors and publishers are always aware of what they must and mustn’t do in order to attract advertisers or secure existing contracts.

Some months ago we wrote about Linux Today letting Carla go after she probably said something about the advertising (we are not sure, but we can only speculate as she did drop some hints)]. Christine Hall puts it well in her new post which states (in reference to Linux Today): “Recently, when this same site “laid off” practically their whole staff and greatly reduced their content, the issue of Redmond’s ads came up again, with many expressing the opinion that Microsoft’s money was behind the move. I can certainly see how it might smell that way, but my experience working at radio stations and newspapers has taught me that odors can be deceiving.

“I have experienced first hand the undue influence a big spending advertiser can have, both in print and in broadcasting.”
      –Christine Hall
“Microsoft’s money very likely had nothing to do with the layoffs. Even so, this incident has caused me to change my thinking on the subject. The problem is one of perception. Although the actions taken by the site were probably relatively innocent, based on necessity brought about by a weak economy and lack of cash flow, the always-suspicious-of-Microsoft readership was immediately more than willing to jump on the bandwagon and proclaim “this is what happens when you crawl into bed with Microsoft!” This is a dangerous position for a news organization to find itself in, for when you lose the trust of your readers, you’ve lost it all.

“This loss of trust isn’t entirely unfounded. Even those of us who’re inclined to defend the site can’t be absolutely positive that Ballmer & Company isn’t calling at least a few of the shots from behind the curtain. I have experienced first hand the undue influence a big spending advertiser can have, both in print and in broadcasting.”

We urge people to remember that sites like CNET and ZDNet are paid heavily by companies like Apple and Microsoft and even if those advertising contracts are supposed not to affect so-called “content” (usually, the content is actually the ads and the stories just “fill” to attract people to these ads), they can easily affect the appointment of writers, which is a top-down process. It’s a selection process and those who can appease advertisers will thrive.

Jaron Lanier is a Microsoft Troll and Source of FUD Against Everything Free(dom) Software

Posted in FUD, Microsoft at 12:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Jaron Lanier

Summary: Caution needed when it comes to Jaron Lanier, who while being paid by Microsoft publishes books that trash everything that competes with Microsoft’s artificial scarcity

THE SELF-PROFESSED father of virtual reality could use some artificial intelligence. He is a booster of artificial scarcity and proponent of an artificial sense of reality where sharing is malicious and proprietary is good. His vain writings have come under a lot of fire as we noted here before [1, 2]. What we never knew before, however, was Lanier’s paymaster and Chris Ahlstrom JeffM wrote about a connection to Microsoft. “By looking at him (a white guy with dreadlocks) you’d think he was a complete iconoclast. He is, however, very much about the outdated pay-for-ones-and-zeros closed-source binaries-only meme,” he notes.

“Homer” adds: “He’s a Microsoft “Partner Architect”, after all. What is it with Microsoft and sinister-sounding job titles/departments? “Partner Architect”, “Perception Management”, “Hired Gun” (games dept.), “Technology Evangelist”, “Guerilla Marketer”, ad nauseam.

“What next? “Eugenics Technician” and “Bioweapons Researcher”.

“A spokesman for Microsoft today confirmed that Jaron Lanier is still at large, and should be approached with caution … and doughnuts.”
      –Homer
To quote: “He was Scholar at Large for Microsoft from 2006 to 2009, and Partner Architect at Microsoft Research from 2009 forward.”

Well, that ought to explain a lot of the trolling against Free software, always without a disclosure except perhaps here. “So there you have it”, concludes “Homer”, “[h]e was “at Large” with Microsoft. Yes, he really was. But not at the time he wrote that page, which apparently was generated by a WYSIWYG toy called “Mozilla/4.77C-CCK-MCD {C-UDP; EBM-APPLE} (Macintosh; U; PPC) [Netscape]“, which translates to a prehistoric version of Netscape Composer running on an equally prehistoric Mac.

“A spokesman for Microsoft today confirmed that Jaron Lanier is still at large, and should be approached with caution … and doughnuts.”

So Jaron is not a gadget but a tool. And this connection to Microsoft helps explain why he’s had a road rage against FOSS and everything free for the past 5 or so years. Next time Lanier attacks Free software and freedom (which he will), be sure to point out where his income comes from.

Google Should Invest Wealth in Reformists, Not Patent Lawyers

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Patents at 11:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

What Google needs is disruption, not compliance and conformity

Christabel Pankhurst

Summary: Google’s newly-found sources of cash should be used to remove software patents rather than make the whole system more toxic for everyone

GOOGLE has just announced that it activates over 550,000 Android devices per day. This pace keeps increasing at an amazing rate and Google’s stock has just jumped through the roof, so it’s easy to see why Microsoft and Apple are nervous. We’re now at a crucial crossroad where Google can either decide to abolish software patents (to the degree possible, and possibly by liaising with others) or start getting “evil” by jumping on the patents treadmill, aka the Patents Cartel (because that’s what it is — a cartel). Apple bounced on this bandwagon a very long time ago and Microsoft only did so years ago. While some prefer tackling this serious issue with satire, others give us less humouring reports that indicate Google is replacing programmers with lawyers, or at least substituting growth priorities. This one article sheds light on the impact of patent lawyers inside Google. As we pointed out before — even years ago — it’s an insidious transformation which put patents supporters at the heart of a company better known for its engineering. This is harming innovation and raising the cost of products everyone buys. We really ought to pressure Google to do the right thing as it will be increasingly tempted to shut the public out; that’s what the lawyers Google is hiring would want. To necessitate their job they need to ensure Google dives deep inside the patent pools.

“We really ought to pressure Google to do the right thing as it will be increasingly tempted to shut the public out; that’s what the lawyers Google is hiring would want.”Microsoft and its patent trolls are suing and extorting for a living now (offence mode, with patents also going to Lodsys to innovatively attack apps with ‘More Apps’ links, owing to support from Microsoft’s former CTO), whereas Google claims to be after patents for “defensive” purposes. That’s what all companies that are winning call their patents. Well, the only defensive patent is one that self-destructs safely. Even Red Hat’s patents are a threat because Red Hat might be sold one day, so the “defensive patent” excuse is rather lame. We have repeatedly asked Red Hat to provide legal assurance for such circumstances, but our suggestions fell on deaf ears around Mr. Fontana (whose loyalty to clients comes before ideology).

By means of deterrence, any patent — whether offensive or not — is an impediment to innovation and a recent study helped show this. Even patent lawyers paid attention rather than ignore it. From Patently-O:

James Bessen, A Generation of Software Patents
Do patents benefit software firms? James Bessen examines this issue through both a survey of existing literature and a new empirical study. Bessen finds that although the number of software-related patents has grown rapidly over the past decade, the share of those patents obtained by software firms has remained relatively small, and is largely accounted for by the activity of a small number of large software firms. In other words, most software patents go to firms outside the software industry. Bessen also provides data that brings into question the value of patents to startup software firms and examines changes in the probability that a software patent will be involved in litigation during the first four years of its patent life.

Richard Waters, a longtime Microsoft apologist from the Financial Times, tries to dare Google into entering the patent wars (rather than abolishing those patents). For Google, any attempt to enter these wars would be foolish as it starts almost from 0. To provide some new numbers from this week’s news:

During the earnings call after Google announced their Q2 2011 earnings today, a question was asked about the patent issues surrounding Google right now. Specifically, Android is under assault from Oracle as well as Microsoft and Apple. This is happening because Google only has roughly 700 patents, and they recently lost a bid to gain Nortel’s 6,000+ patents — with those going to, who else, Microsoft and Apple, among others. So what is Google going to do?

We have urged Google many times before to just put back the money it makes from everyone into defending everyone. Google can help everyone by putting an end to software patents, or at least trying to. The public would participate.

“We have urged Google many times before to just put back the money it makes from everyone into defending everyone.”It is not too late for Google to reform the system and if it fails to do so things might get worse because Microsoft is likely going to send its mole in Nokia to attack Android phone makers (although not only Android is affected) after Nokia did this to Apple. Nokia and Apple are both part of the cartel, and both have been helping MPEG-LA. Watch what Apple is doing thanks to the incompetence of the USPTO: “Apple’s policy of trying to claim the patents for as many Android features as possible has continued with the blessing of the US Patent Office.

“Jobs’ Mob is unhappy that it is losing market share to Android and appears to be applying for as many patents as possible to patent troll the operating system out of the market.

“What is alarming is thanks to the vagaries of the US Patent system it appears to be getting away with it.

“Yesterday the US Patent and Trademark office gave Apple a patent which covers that nifty way that smartphones can turn from a portrait to a landscape by turning.”

“Losing Apple Wants To Ban Competitors,” says Muktware, which furthermore states that the “Court Questions Oracle’s Damage Reports” (Oracle is close to Apple, via the CEOs):

Software patent troll Microsoft’s PR machine is pumping as much mis-information as it can, oracling Oracle’s victory in Android court case. The reality is, Oracle is facing one after other set-backs in the case. After USPTO’s rejection of a majority of Oracle’s patents, the court refused to buy Iain Cockburn’s report and asked both parties (Google and Oracle) to name two experts to verify damages.

The reason Techrights can no longer concentrate on Novell and Microsoft in isolation is that there is a big problem behind all of these embodiments and to personify the problem made sense until some time last year when Oracle and Apple both attacked Android, showing their willingness to derail competition in truly nefarious ways. Google ought to know what the permanent solution will be; it’s not about winning a case here and there or even invalidating a patent here and there. Google needs to end all software patents in one fell swoop. The USPTO has lost the plot, as we shall show in a later post.

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