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09.01.11

Links 1/9/2011: Beta of GNOME 3.2, Ubuntu Core

Posted in News Roundup at 9:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Fragmentation within the NTFS filesystem

    Recently while troubleshooting an issue on a Windows 7 PC, I noticed a number of events in the Application Log labelled “Defrag”. Sparking my curiosity, I looked further and discovered that there was approximately one entry per day in the log. I looked around some more at other Windows 7 PCs and found that they too have “Defrag” entries scattered about. It turns out that Windows 7 now automatically runs a defrag on its NTFS filesystem, compared to Windows XP which never did this. This is a great idea on Microsoft’s part, rather than letting things stockpile up and forcing the user to defrag while waiting for minutes or even hours while it churns away.

    This got me thinking back to when I read more about other filesystems, most notably ext3 and ext4 filesystems on GNU/Linux (which are standardly used now), which never need defragmenting. Yes that’s correct, they do not need to be defragmented.

  • Desktop

    • Build a Better Sub-$200 Linux PC: For a Few Dollars More…

      As we’ve hopefully shown, building a $200 PC is a fun experiment—and, provided you really modulate your expectations, you can get a solidly usable computer out of the deal. But when it comes right down to it, we admit that the $200 figure is a bit arbitrary. Is anyone going to complain if the final total is $225.87, or even $250.94? Of course not. The goal is to find components that have the best balance between low prices and high (or, perhaps more appropriately, decent) performance. And if you’re willing and/or able to spend a bit more money, you can get a better system still. Here are a few of our recommended upgrades if you want to take your $200 to slightly more expensive—but still solidly affordable—places.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC)

      • Nepomuk Frameworks – kdelibs 5.0: What To Do

        Development of kdelibs 5.0 has begun in the framework branch of its git repository. The main goal for kdelibs 5.0 is that there will be no more kdelibs as it is now. kdelibs (and kde-runtime) will be split up into smaller pieces to lower the barrier for non-KDE developers to use part of the power we as a KDE development community provide. The rough idea is that there will be three groups of libraries/frameworks:

        1. Tier 1: components which only depend on Qt and no other lib/component from KDE.
        2. Tier 2: components which depend on Qt and other libraries from Tier 1.
        3. Tier 3: components which depend on anything.

      • tracking what happens in your DataEngine

        For lack of a better place, I plopped it into the kdeexamples repository so that others (and the future me ;) can easily include it into their project (DataEngine, Plasmoid, application, ..) and see what a given DataEngine is doing. It’s BSD licensed, so it can be used pretty much anywhere.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • Web application mode in GNOME 3.2
      • First beta version of GNOME 3.2

        The GNOME Project has released the first of two beta versions of GNOME 3.2. The pre-release version, designated GNOME 3.1.90, comes just a few days after the user interface freeze, which, along with the beta, was recently put back a week to allow time to incorporate further modifications.

      • GNOME 3.2 Beta 1 (3.1.90) Has Arrived

        The first beta for the upcoming GNOME 3.2 is here for eager users to enjoy. This is still unstable code, so most users will want to hold on until the final, stable version lands, but if you want an early peek, this is your chance.

  • Distributions

    • Tiny Core Linux

      Several projects exist that purport to be small, run-in-memory distributions. The most popular probably is Puppy Linux. Puppy has spawned several variations, and I have used it several times myself on older machines. But, I have discovered one that bowled me over completely—Tiny Core Linux. This distribution is a totally different beast and fills what I think is as of yet an unfilled category.

      To start, Tiny Core is tiny—really tiny. The full desktop version weighs in at approximately 10MB—this is for a full graphical desktop. Not many other options can deliver something like this. People of a certain age may remember projects like Tom’s root/boot, or muLinux. Tiny Core fits somewhere in between those older floppy-based projects and “heavier” small distributions like Puppy.

    • ArchLinux vs Slackware

      This posting is not meant to start another flame war between these two great Linux distribution. It’s just meant to be my personal opinion after trying ArchLinux for several days and compare it with the distribution i have been using for the last six years. I know it’s not completely fair to compare few days experience with six years, but i will try to be as fair as possible.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mandriva Desktop 2011 review

        Considering that this was a major and highly expected release of a major Linux distribution, did anybody in management bother to take it for a spin to see if basic features work? I have visions of Steve Jobs getting involved in every phase of his company’s products development. There does not seem to be a Steve Jobs in Mandriva’s management team.

        None of the shortcoming of Mandriva 2011 will stop me from upgrading one of my permanent test systems running Mandriva 2010.2, but my laptop, which I use for serious stuff, on which physical security is just as important as any other feature, will continue running the old system until I figure out how to configure disk encryption when installing my favorite Linux distribution.

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat’s move to downtown Raleigh could ripple widely

        Now that Red Hat has made public what had become the worst-kept secret in Triangle real estate circles, it’s worth delving into what the company’s move to downtown Raleigh will mean for interested parties.

        In the near term, the decision eliminates uncertainty about whether downtown would be left with an empty building once Progress Energy and Duke Energy complete their merger and consolidate operations.

      • Top 10 Reasons Why Red Hat is Moving to Downtown Raleigh

        It’s Thursday, and you know what that means? Even if we can’t get Christine to wake-up long enough to write one of her articles, you can always depend on us to be here like clockwork for the Top 10 List.

        A while back, Red Hat announced they might be leaving the big city of Raleigh to find a new location to continue tweaking their code. A little later, they announced they’d decided to remain in the North Carolina capital city after all – but they’d be looking for new digs since they were getting somewhat crowded at their old location. This week they announced they’d found their new home, a big ol’ office tower in Raleigh’s downtown.

    • Debian Family

  • Devices/Embedded

    • RaspberryPi £15 ARM Linux computer due for Christmas

      The RaspberryPi Foundation, which aims to put computers in front of children for £15, has taken delivery of 50 engineering prototypes, and intends to get the final version to customers by the end of the year, writes Steve Bush.

      Based in Cambridge and founded by six high-tech high-flyers, the foundation’s aim is to cure the programmer shortage by inspiring people to take up computing in childhood – as Sinclair Spectrums and BBC Micros once did.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Sony Ericsson Unveils Xperia Arc S

          Now, about the camera. The idea here is that the 8MP camera can take photos in 3D (SE used “panorama” quite a lot in the description of the photos). But since the Arc S’s screen isn’t a 3D display, the images are shown in 2D. When the device is plugged up to a 3D-capable TV via the MicroHDMI port, they’re shown as 3D photos. So you can (sort of) take 3D photos, but you won’t be able to view them without a 3D TV. The concept of a 3D camera on a non-3D device baffles us, but we’ll leave such judgments to you.

        • Samsung unveils small tablet, giant smartphone
    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Not Dead Yet? Top Three Possibilities for HP’s webOS

        Reuters is reporting that webOS may not be dead, yet. In an interview, the head of HP’s PSG group Todd Bradley hinted HP may not be done with the webOS or tablet. So what does HP have up its sleeve? Bradley was elusive, but here are my top three ideas for what the PSG spinoff could do, along with some channel implications …

      • Samsung Unveils Dual-Core Galaxy Tab 7.7 And 5.3-Inch Galaxy Note

        Samsung understands this, and has thus tried to build a tablet for just about any size pocket or backpack you may own. We all know about the GalTab 10.1 and 8.9, but today even smaller models join the pack. At the IFA conference in Berlin, Samsung today announced the Galaxy Tab 7.7 and the 5.3-inch Galaxy Note.

      • Toshiba Unveils The Thinnest Honeycomb Tablet Yet, The 7.7mm-thick AT200

        Just like the rumor stated, Toshiba used IFA 2011 to announce its latest Android tablet and it’s just as tiny as it looked. The AT200 packs a 1.2GHz TI OMAP 4430 CPU, up to 64GB of memory, and most of the ports that made the Toshiba Thrive popular: micro-USB, microSD, and micro-HDMI. Toshiba claims that the battery is good for “eight hours of video consumption.”

      • Toshiba put its Android tablet on a crash diet
      • HTC’s first Honeycomb tablet supports 4G LTE network

        HTC announced its first 10.1-inch Honeycomb tablet, which is also AT&T’s first tablet to run on the carrier’s new LTE/HSPA+ 4G network. The HTC Jetstream runs Android 3.1 and HTC Sense on a 1.5GHz, dual-core Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, features eight-megapixel and 1.3-megapixel cameras, offers an optional HTC Stylus, and start selling Sept. 4 for a pricey $700 with 32GB of memory.

      • Amazon 10-inch tablet PC to start mass production in 1Q12

        Amazon’s 7-inch tablet PC, which is supplied by Quanta Computer, is expected to start shipping in October, the sources added.

      • Lenovo announces IdeaPad A1, the $199 Android tablet, we go hands-on (video)

        If you thought you couldn’t get a real Android tablet from a brand you’ve heard of for less than $200, think again. Lenovo’s just announced the IdeaPad Tablet A1, a 7-inch Android unit that we got a sneaky first glimpse of back in July. Now it’s real, and it’s cheap, it’s running Gingerbread, and while it doesn’t hold a candle to the Galaxy Tab 7.7, it honestly feels like something far above its price point. Read on for our impressions.

      • Why I bought a $99 HP TouchPad

        Aside from the default webOS software, there’s a good chance I’ll be able to install Android onto the TouchPad at some point in the foreseeable future. Teams of Android enthusiasts like the gang from RootzWiki are already hard at work creating Android ports for the product. For the moment, the phone-focused Gingerbread will be as good as it gets — the tablet-optimized Honeycomb release, remember, was never made open source — but with the all-purpose Ice Cream Sandwich release on the horizon, the future holds no shortage of interesting Googley possibilities.

        A 9.7-inch dual-core Ice Cream Sandwich tablet for $99? Yeah…exactly.

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Police Report on Wisconsin Supreme Court Quarrel Describes Hostile Work Environment
  • Desktop computers changing, not dying

    There’s been a lot of dying technology predicted lately. The death of the desktop. The death of the PC (or, in more market-friendly terms, the “post-PC Era”). The death of Windows. The death of the mouse… you name it, if it’s desktop-connected, its demise been predicted in the last couple of months.

    So much anger has been leveled at the desktop operating systems and the PC, it really makes me wonder what the PC did to tick so many people off. Seriously, it’s not like it ripped you off and then asked the government for a bailout, right?

  • The Dawn of the Post-PC Era. Not.
  • Health/Nutrition

    • Rick Perry’s Texas Health Care Hoax

      In his quest to win the Republican presidential nomination, Texas Gov. Rick Perry is perpetuating a convincing hoax: that implementing Texas-style tort reform would go a long way toward curing what ails the U.S. health care system.

      Like his fellow GOP contenders, Perry consistently denounces “Obamacare” as “a budget-busting, government takeover of healthcare” and “the greatest intrusion on individual freedom in a generation.” He promises to repeal the law if elected.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

  • Cablegate

    • Guardian Investigative Editor David Leigh publishes top secret Cablegate password revealing names of U.S. collaborators and informants… in his book

      The UK’s Guardian newspaper’s Investigative Editor, David Leigh, author of the “Get this Wikileaks book out the door quickly before other Wikileaks books are published” Wikileaks book has messed up.

    • WikiLeaks: Cables detail concerns of U.S. contractor held in Cuba
    • Why Does Jeanne Whalen Have a Hardon for Julian Assange?

      It seems like just days ago that Luddie asked me to begin looking into the curious case of Jeanne Whalen’s WSJ story, which claimed that five human rights organizations had written a letter complaining to WikiLeaks that it was not taking proper care to protect civilian informants. As we soon discovered, the article was riddled with errors. To wit: not all the signatories were with human rights organizations, most of the signatories were not speaking for their organizations, and the letter was a call to meet with Assange, not an upbraiding. That the letter (which Whalen won’t release) quickly made it into her hands made whole thing smell of Newscorp astroturfing.

    • WikiLeaks: Iraqi children in U.S. raid shot in head, U.N. says
    • PJ Crowley: No US Policy Changed Because of the WikiLeaks Revelations

      Former State Department spokesperson PJ Crowley has written an op-ed on the recent release of more than 130,000 US State Embassy cables. Likening the cable publication to “pestilence,” Crowley provides his perspective on what he thinks will happen now that the cables have been published.
      Crowley was forced to resign in March after he made some comments that called attention to how accused whistleblower to WikiLeaks, Pfc. Bradley Manning, was being treated at Quantico Brig. When WikiLeaks published the war logs in July, he knew he had to do an assessment and figure out what might be put at risk if US State Embassy cables were released. What he says on WikiLeaks carries a lot of credibility. In fact, he has spoken about his work during the WikiLeaks release and why he made the comments he made about Manning on multiple panels.

    • Global – Guardian journalist negligently disclosed Cablegate passwords

      A Guardian journalist has negligently disclosed top secret WikiLeaks’ decryption passwords to hundreds of thousands of unredacted unpublished US diplomatic cables.

      Knowledge of the Guardian disclosure has spread privately over several months but reached critical mass last week. The unpublished WikiLeaks’ material includes over 100,000 classified unredacted cables that were being analyzed, in parts, by over 50 media and human rights organizations from around the world.

      For the past month WikiLeaks has been in the unenviable position of not being able to comment on what has happened, since to do so would be to draw attention to the decryption passwords in the Guardian book. Now that the connection has been made public by others we can explain what happened and what we intend to do.

    • WikiLeaks, media last bastions of trust for US

      The release of diplomatic documents by WikiLeaks last year has given people more insight into how the US government works according to Suelette Dreyfus.

      Dreyfus is the author of Underground: Tales of Hacking, Madness and Obsession on the Electronic Frontier, the 1997 that featured the exploits of Mendax — the hacker handle of WikiLeaks’ founder Julian Assange.

      Dreyfus told this week’s Q&A show that people in the US now understand how their government worked behind “closed mahogany doors.” She said that WikiLeaks has also shown that governments don’t always act in the interests their own people. “In that sense, it’s a true whistle blower,” Dreyfus said.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Federal agency: Texas Gov. Perry wrong in comments about new license rules for farmers

      U.S. Department of Transportation officials are disputing Texas Gov. Rick Perry’s statement at the Iowa State Fair today that federal administrators plan to require a farmer driving a tractor across a public road to obtain a commercial driver’s license.

      “We are absolutely not requiring farmers” to obtain commercial licenses, such as those required of semi-trailer operators, said U.S. DOT spokeswoman Candice Tolliver in Washington, D.C.

      She said U.S. DOT Secretary Ray LaHood had put out a statement last week making the DOT’s position clear.

      “We have no intention of instituting onerous regulations on the hardworking farmers who feed our country and fuel our economy,” LaHood’s statement said.

  • Censorship

  • Civil Rights

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Copyright term extension returns. Again.

        Back in April we asked ORG supporters to write to their MEPs to help campaign against a Directive that would extend the term of copyright protection in sound recordings (for the reasons why, see our previous posts and the campaign site ‘Sound Copyright’). We had a fantastic response, with thousands of letters sent to MEPs across Europe.

      • The Coalition Has No Digital Rights Policy

        A key moment was the BT/NewzBin2 case. A clutch of Hollywood studios took BT to court in order to force them to restrict access to the website “NewzBin2″. The site in question provides only links to film downloads – it does not even host copyrighted content. The studios were extremely pleased to have the court find in their favour, seeing it as a crucial precedent. They were beginning to lose patience with how slowly the Government was implementing the Digital Economy Act, and saw this as a convenient shortcut. Culture and communications minister Ed Vaizey enthusiastically welcomed the judgment – ironically enough, online, by tweeting: ”Interesting judgment in Newzbin case, should make it easier for rights holders to prevent piracy”. He went on to continue defending the result, and his statement, from a barrage of replies.

More Sex Scandals at Microsoft

Posted in Site News at 12:13 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Long hair

Summary: A “£10 million High Court battle” and dismissal give visibility to yet another shameful pattern of behaviour inside Microsoft

SEX SCANDALS are not unusual at Microsoft. There are recent examples even of alleged orgies. According to a couple of different source from the UK, this is getting litigious: [via]

A culture of “excessive drunkeness” and lewd behaviour among senior staff at Microsoft in Britain has apparently been laid bare in a £10 million High Court battle between its UK chief and his former second in command.

And separately:

Negus denied allegedly planting a smacker on a workmate at WPC in Atlanta in 2009 in full view of attendees, but when additional information came to light he was dismissed, Microsoft said in its claim, quoted in a report by Bloomberg.

One needs to be somewhat of a sociopath to work for a convicted monopolist with a proven history of crime. It’s like seeking a job at Blackwater, it’s not “just a business”. That’s why many people do refuse to work for Microsoft. There is ethics mismatch. It’s not that Microsoft turns people into sociopaths, it just tends to attract sociopaths. It’s a cultural thing.

“By May of 1994, Gates’s patience was growing so thin that not even a public relations pro like Pam Edstrom could muzzle him.”

Jennifer Edstrom

Microsoft and Bill Gates Corrupt Public Systems to Consume Taxpayers’ Money

Posted in Bill Gates, Microsoft at 11:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Windows in 1984

Summary: The Movement of Microsoft works hard to ensure that public services — not just private businesses — remain prisoners of Microsoft; lobbyists and AstroTurfing are used for this purpose, too

WHILE many people assume that Microsoft Windows in education is a matter of choice, it is actually a matter of corruption and imposition. Yesterday, for example, we wrote about what happened in Tamil Nadu. Our source told us last night that some of the press in India is starting to catch up with that revelation, whereas a lot of it missed the fact that the tender had been distorted. Take this article for example. It says:

According to the official, companies including Samsung, ASUS and Dell seem to have placed bids. The state is said to have preferred brands that have service centres across all the districts. The minimum specifications required include Windows or Linux operating system, wireless 2 GB RAM and 320 GB hard disk.

Originally it was GNU/Linux-only, but someone subverted the tender. The article says nothing about it. This is what lobbying does and we previously saw the Gates Foundation intervening in Europe to cause the same type of change (e.g. in Portugal) when GNU/Linux laptops were prepared en masse. The same “dual-boot” trick got pulled. Remember “dual-boot” OLPC as well. It’s Microsoft’s classic excuse to tear down GNU/Linux (like “choice”, which is a term Microsoft spins/misuses a lot).

There is increasing pressure for governments and public schools to use GNU/Linux and Free software, which are well beyond just “capable” of serving publicly-funded organisations. But every once in a while some lobbyists stick their noses in and the press ignores the key issues. Consider the Gates-funded publications on education. Gates is buying them, which in turn gags some of the key ones and uses them to promote Gates’ own agenda instead; this includes Windows in schools, ensuring that all children grow up only with Microsoft software (and lock-in). Education Week, which receives grant money from the Gates Foundation, had this to say after it had sucked up to Gates (its paymaster). Are the sceptics finally waking up?

it is really quite scary to see how the education system has turned into taxpayers-funded Microsoft indoctrination factory. In a recent talk from Google’s CEO (given in the UK some days ago) he openly complained that children are not being taught how computers work. Instead, they are taught how to use programs (GUIs), mostly Microsoft ones. The Guardian covered this only days apart from another article that complained about British schools, saying they merely train children to become obedient clients of Microsoft. This is one of the reasons Gates wants to own education systems. It’s not about improving the education system (that’s what publications are being bribed to say), it is about the plutocrats controlling it, shaping the characters of the next generation to suit them, the super-rich people. And criticism about the making of mistakes as NewsWeek covered at the time is typically being labelled “jealousy”, but the matter of fact is that teachers too are extremely concerned. One lady calls it “Bill Gates’ Bad Bets” and she alleges that:

The first example was from Newsweek about the results of philanthropic “school reform” programs put in place by several billionaires (including Bill Gates) who decided they understood the problems with public education better than everyone else and so could dictate how to “fix” the broken education system. Seems that that their little experiments haven’t panned out as well as they would have liked.

It does work as planned as long as it gives more power to those who fund the reform. it’s about control, it’s not about education. They try to discipline everyone’s children with the government’s support and funding. They also use fake grassroots (AstroTurf) which includes the Gates-funded TFA lobby. As Seattle teachers put it some months ago in a story we have not yet covered:

Now, they are here in Seattle trying to justify their existence with the financial aid of Bill Gates to the tune of $2.5M to support TFA, Inc. in opening an office in the Puget Sound area.

[...]

So far “anonymous donors” have offered to pick up the tab for Seattle by way of the Seattle Foundation which receives funding from Bill Gates. Our schools would be so much better off if we could use those funds instead to rehire teachers and counselors who are qualified, have more to offer than “art on a cart” to many of our students, have the funding so that all schools can again have full-time librarians, enrichment programs for all schools and enough money to pay for the millions of dollars in maintenance backlog that has accrued over the years to make our schools safe.

[...]

Will Bill Gates ultimately be responsible for dumbing down our educational system with TFA, Inc. as his tool? The irony is that his vision for education in this country is far from the reality of what he is creating and he doesn’t even know it.

Kristin wrote a series of posts titled “The Big Picture: Privatizing Education”. From part I:

Billionaires (such as the Walton family, the Koch brothers, Bill and Melinda Gates, and Eli and Blythe Broad) and corporations are pushing heavily for the privatization of education and other services, both for financial reasons and ideological ones.
From the point of view of billionaires, the free market is ideal. It made them rich, after all. To the extent that they want to improve education, they want to remake the system in the image of a corporation, with top-down management, competition, decreased spending, and a focus on results. Of course, the view from the top is nothing like the view from the bottom. How can billionaires who have never gone through the public education system have any idea of the challenges that teachers and students actually face?
As for corporations, they don’t “want” anything in particular. They can’t; they’re not human beings. They are essentially machines whose primary goal is to maximize profits. To further that goal, corporations have an interest in lowering taxes. They also have an interest in directly controlling exactly what is taught to tomorrow’s workforce. They do not have a need for equal opportunity in education, because not all workers in tomorrow’s economy need to think for themselves or to read beyond basic literacy.
Finally, there are companies that simply profit off education, taking taxpayer and grant dollars to produce a product. This includes charter schools, teacher preparation programs, online learning systems, standardized tests, and test prep curriculum. Privatization helps them because it creates new markets. Opening a charter school, for instance, means that brand new teachers can be hired and brand new curriculum can be sold. (Of course, this also means that existing teachers must be fired and curriculum thrown away.)

In part II, Kristin mentioned the Gates Foundation too, but not in the final part. Quoting the article: “Billionaires and corporations direct the activities of nonprofits and grassroots groups through philanthropic foundations. For example, the family that owns WalMart has the Walton Family Foundation, Bill Gates has the Gates Foundation, and the owner of the Gap has the Fisher Foundation. These foundations can then create or fund a nonprofit and then influence that nonprofit by making grants with strings attached or buying a seat on the board of directors. Then they use that nonprofit to push, tax-free, for policy changes. Foundations and nonprofits can also create astroturf (fake grassroots) groups that urge their constituency to lobby for policy changes.”

Further reading:

Even Pro-Microsoft News Sites Complain About Patents Now

Posted in Patents at 8:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Board of chess

Summary: In today’s news we find two more stories (as usual) — this time from Microsoft-friendly sources — which are hostile towards patents and call for a reform

SEVERAL days ago we gave some examples of pro-Microsoft sites and Microsoft developers who are upset about software patents and/or the patent system in general. A year ago we showed prominent Microsoft developers talking about this too, probably embarrassing Microsoft quite a lot. Some former Microsoft employees even declared war on patents. Well, here is another pro-Microsoft news site complaining that high-tech is being harmed:

Patents are as American as mom and apple pie. Maybe more so. Mom and apple pie aren’t mentioned in the Constitution.

Patents are such a fundamental part of American economic culture that the Founding Fathers saw fit to address them in the Constitution. But in the software industry, patents may be doing more harm than good — stifling innovation, hijacking the bottom line, and siphoning shareholder value.

We the people establish the patent system
“The Congress shall have power … To promote the progress of science and useful arts, by securing for limited times to authors and inventors the exclusive right to their respective writings and discoveries.”
–Article I, Section 8, U.S. Constitution

In another new article, this time from the Washington Post, there is this proposal:

Y Combinator is about to wield its rapidly-growing influence in the tech community to help startups everywhere. And it’s taking on one of the hottest (and most fear-inspiring) issues around: patents.

Today YC cofounder Paul Graham has written a note called The Patent Pledge in which he proposes that tech companies should commit to a straightforward promise: “No first use of software patents against companies with less than 25 people.”

Really? And does that become acceptable when the company exceeds that size? How so? The problem is not one of scale; it’s a problem of a poorly-thought out and badly-implemented system which just needs to be abolished altogether. In this age of the Internet we have sharing of knowledge and open source repositories which document inventions. We don’t need arcane paper-based systems.

FFII Approached for Opinion on Ill Approach Towards Patents in Europe

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: While the patent wars in the United States go out of control, the Swedish Justice Department asks patenting sceptics for some input

THE PATENT bubble is building up in China and in the States. It’s an endless race to amass patents, no matter their quality and thus their validity. Once those patents are brought into the courtroom they receive a pricey reexamination, but only if the defendant can afford it (see the reexamination of Oracle’s patents and the patents of the patent troll who co-founded Microsoft). It is a very silly system where prior art can help invalidate patents that should never have existed in the first place; failing that, triviality tests have proven to be effective at eliminating a lot of patents, including software patents. Why are rubbish patents allowed in the first place? Because the USPTO profits from that. It’s a vanity thing, too.

While all sorts of ‘meta-firms’ (not producers) try to establish a business around the laughing stock called the USPTO, others go further and turn into patent trolls, looking to mooch those who have more money.

Bosson from the FFIIThere is no denying that the US patent system is broken and every day last month we saw at least a couple of articles on the subject. The status quo cannot stand. Nobody supports this system except the monopolists (a tiny minority) and the patent lawyers whom they use like mercenaries.

The founder of the FSF recently warned about a similarly broken system trying to find its way into Europe. Well, the Swedish Justice Department (where the presidency has been instrumental in pushing for the “unitary patent” for years, also based on leaked diplomatic cables) contacted the FFII, which is a good sign. Their consultation with software patents opponents resulted in the public communication shared this morning by Bosson. To quote:

The Swedish Association for a Free Information Infrastructure, FFII, has interest in innovation and growth in software. We are therefore pleased to be consulted on a new patent court.

We are enthusiastic that the European patent system gets more efficient and integrated, but critical to the possibility of the patent court as final instance. For software, it is about the right balance between patent, copyright, access to and ability to manage information. The U.S. Supreme Court has repeatedly held back the U.S. Federal Patent Court in matters of what may be patented. We believe that a general appeals instance would make a more balanced assessment. Today, there are great risks for developers as abstract and theoretical methods are patented despite the boundaries of the European Patent Convention.

Economic research shows that many patents, especially in software, stifle innovation and
growth (1). A more balanced and independent assessment than the union’s own patents are needed to clarify limits (2), reduce costs and provide the individual patents more value.

1 A Generation of Software Patents, Bessen, Boston University

http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=1868979

2. Yttrande i betänkandet ”Patent och innovationer för tillväxt och välfärd” SOU 2006:80

http://www.ffii.se/jonas/sou2006-80/FFII-yttrande.html

We wrote about the Bessen study right after it had been published. Bosson chose Bessen as a primary reference.

Links 1/9/2011: Mandriva 2011.0 Reviews, MeeGo-based Phones in Australia, Sony Tablet With Android

Posted in News Roundup at 7:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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