Links 14/9/2011: PostgreSQL 9.1, Qt In Cars

Posted in News Roundup at 7:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Defensive banking

    This being Computerworld, you’d expect a blog about defensive banking to be about online banking. Not this time.

    Online banking, at this point, is old news. For those that need it, I have long advocated Linux as the best defensive technique. Using a Windows computer is, without question, a mistake. Given Apple’s record on security (illustrated again with the DigiNotar mess), Linux is the safer choice for Mac users too.

    I have an account with a major financial firm and typically do my two transactions a year over the phone (with a wired phone line). The rare times that I do a financial transaction online, I reboot a Windows PC and run Linux Mint off a USB flash drive. That copy of Mint is not used for any other purpose.

  • Trine 2 ‘Vibes’ trailer details new environments

    Another version is being planned for Linux and “other platforms”, due out some time after.

  • Linux Australia airs code of conduct draft

    President of Linux Australia, John Ferlito, has this morning aired the first draft of the council’s new presenter code of conduct, which looks to curb inappropriate material being displayed as part of conference presentations.

  • Windows 8 distribution takes a page from Linux

    The other reason is that Microsoft may be slow, but they’re not stupid. They’ve noticed over the years that Linux developers gets enormous amount of valuable feedback from users with every release. While, Microsoft won’t be open-sourcing Windows anytime this decade; they can certainly see the advantage of having potentially millions of early testers giving them feedback.

  • 10 Hackers Who Made History

    Richard Stallman


    Linus Torvalds

  • Applications

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

    • NetGear Wi-Fi router offers six antennas for greater speed, range

      Netgear announced a dual-band 802.11n Wi-Fi router, aimed at home users but featuring a 3×3 antenna array and high-power amplifiers for greater bandwidth and range. The N900 Wireless Dual Band Gigabit Router runs Linux on a new Broadcom processor, offers dual USB 2.0 ports, provides four gigabit Ethernet ports, and supports up to 900Mbps combined throughput, claims the company.

    • Nokia Puts Qt In Cars, Announces Nokia Car Mode

      As Nokia goes in bed with Microsoft it will definitely be pushing Microsoft’s proprietary technologies leaving a question mark for its own open source technologies. There might me one or two exceptions. Nokia yesterday announced Nokia Car Mode at the IAA (Internationale Automobil Ausstellung).

      The Nokia Car Mode is a standalone application optimized for the in-car use of Nokia smartphones. Nokia Car Mode features an optimized user interface simplifying the access and use of Nokia Drive (voice-guided car navigation with Nokia Maps), traffic updates, music and voice calls while driving.

    • Phones

Free Software/Open Source

  • Developer License for open source GIS software Geomajas now available
  • Lexis-Nexis finally releases source code to HPCC

    HPCC Systems, part of LexisNexis Risk Solutions, has finally made the source code to the HPCC (High Performance Computing Cluster) available, after announcing it would be open-sourced in June. The C++ source code, hosted on Github, is licensed under the AGPLv3 rather than the GPLv3 as originally planned and announced.

  • Databases

    • PostgreSQL 9.1 released

      The PostgreSQL Global Development Group announces the release of PostgreSQL 9.1. This latest version of the leading open source database offers innovative technology, unmatched extensibility, and new features such as synchronous replication, K-Nearest Neighbor indexing, and foreign data wrappers.

    • PostgreSQL 9.1 Advances Open Source Database Innovation

      The PostgreSQL 9.1 open source database is now generally available, offering users a long list of new features. The new PostgreSQL release follows a six month beta process, following the initial beta release in May.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • CMS

  • Funding

  • Public Services/Government

    • UK transport ministry extends its use of open source

      The UK government’s Department for Transport (DfT) has signed a new contract with Kainos to support the department’s new open-source-based web systems and move them to a hybrid cloud environment. The Department for Transport has informed The H that the technologies involved are the WordPress open source content management system which will be running on RackSpace’s public cloud and the department’s own private clouds. The DfT have been assisted by Kainos’s Causeway division in a migration from their previous proprietary Morello CMS to WordPress.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • LexisNexis Releases Code for Big Data Analytics into Open Source

      HPCC Systems from LexisNexis Risk Solutions is pleased to announce today that it has released the source code for its HPCC Systems platform to the open source community. Developers can now leverage and further enhance the platform. Available immediately for download, the source code can be found here: http://hpccsystems.com. The HPCC Systems platform helps customers solve Big Data analytics problems.

    • Open Access/Content

      • ICFOSS launches first Open Access Journal

        The International Centre for Free and Open Source Software (ICFOSS) launched its Open Access Journal, “Journal of Free Software and Free Knowledge” (JFSFK), at a function here on Monday. JFSFK is the first journal in FOSS and related domains internationally.

    • Open Hardware


  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Karl Rove’s Crossroads Groups Double 2012 War Plan to $240 Million

      Lost in the build-up to President Obama’s big jobs speech Thursday night was a bomb of an announcement, first reported by Peter Stone of iWatch News, from American Crossroads and Crossroads GPS, the conservative independent expenditure groups that are two of the heaviest hitters in the political money game. Founded in 2010 with help from Bush guru Karl Rove, the Crossroads groups are now trumpeting a new fundraising target to double their planned haul of $120 million for the 2012 elections. Yes, you read that right: the Crossroads groups say they will raise a whopping $240 million to vanquish President Obama, help GOPers win the Senate majority, and strengthen their House majority.

    • Late Night: Stephen Colbert: Honor 9/11 with ‘useless crap’

      On his show Monday, Stephen Colbert devoted a segment to the 10th anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks. “Have we as a nation recovered?” he wondered. The answer, according to Colbert, is a definitive “yes.” The proof is in the product.

      “I wasn’t sure until I saw all this great 9/11 commemorative stuff you can buy,” he said, rattling off a list of inexpensive trinkets designed to memorialize and/or cash in on the country’s collective grief: 9/11 sneakers, a 9/11 cribbage board, 9/11 dog collars.

    • Some real Shock and Awe: Racially profiled and cuffed in Detroit

      Silly me. I thought flying on 9/11 would be easy. I figured most people would choose not to fly that day so lines would be short, planes would be lightly filled and though security might be ratcheted up, we’d all feel safer knowing we had come a long way since that dreadful Tuesday morning 10 years ago.

      But then armed officers stormed my plane, threw me in handcuffs and locked me up.

      My flight from Denver landed in Detroit on time. I sent a text message to my husband to let him know we had landed and I would be home by dinner. The plane stopped on the tarmac, seemingly waiting to have the gate cleared. We waited. I played on my phone, checking Facebook, scrolling through my Twitter feed. After a while of sitting there, I decided to call my husband to tell him the plane was being delayed and I would call him when I got off the plane.

  • Cablegate

    • Instead of attacking WikiLeaks, fix what it exposed

      Former Defense Secretary Robert Gates was right when he suggested that the WikiLeaks revelations were “embarrassing” and “awkward.” But his assessment — and that of so many other government officials — stems from the magnitude of what he left unsaid.

  • Finance

    • Liberal group files ethics complaint against Darrell Issa

      Issa pressured the Securities and Exchange Commission “into inaction” after the commission sued Goldman Sachs

    • Message to the Unemployed: Uncle Sam Does(n’t) Want You

      Not long ago, the city council of Ventura, California, passed an ordinance making it legal for the unemployed and homeless to sleep in their cars. At the height of the Great Recession of 2008, one third of the capital equipment of the American economy lay idle. Of the women and men idled along with that equipment, only 37% got a government unemployment check and that check, on average, represented only 35% of their weekly wages.

      Meanwhile, there are now two million ”99ers” — those who have maxed out their supplemental unemployment benefits because they have been out of work for more than 99 weeks. Think of them as a full division in “the reserve army of labor.” That “army,” in turn, accounts for 17% of the American labor force, if one includes part-time workers who need and want full-time work and the millions of unemployed Americans who have grown so discouraged that they’ve given up looking for jobs and so aren’t counted in the official unemployment figures. As is its historic duty, that force of idle workers is once again driving down wages, lengthening working hours, eroding on-the-job conditions, and adding an element of raw fear to the lives of anyone still lucky enough to have a job.

    • Limits to Keynesianism

      But the greatest flaw with Keynesianism now is that, like the economy itself, it has run squarely into the energy limit. As the most recently updated data shows, 2011 will be the 6th year that world production of crude oil was unable to increase beyond the ceiling established in 2005. Oil remains the primary energy input to OECD economies. OECD economies are of course where the Keynesian experiment has flourished longest, first in Japan, then the United States and now Europe. It is hardly, hardly the case that the current financial crisis in the OECD is “simply a matter of accounting.” Instead, the crisis is one of systemic, structural growth now permanently limited by energy costs as OECD economies try to service debt loads that have escaped their ability to manage. Change all the digits, and the energy limit remains.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Wisconsin Legislators Support Corporate Right to Secret Spending

      Wisconsin Republicans are pushing a bill to prohibit the state elections board from passing any rules regulating corporations, as part of an effort to thwart rules that would show how corporate interests are laundering election spending through front groups. Lawmakers only meet one day this month (Tuesday, September 13) and plan to take up the bill during that brief window.*

    • ALEC Corporations Spend Big in Washington

      On Monday, September 12, Brad Hooker of the Center for Responsive Politics’ Open Secrets blog posted an exposé of the money that the corporate members of ALEC’s “Private Enterprise” Board (including AT&T, Exxon Mobil, Kraft, Coca-Cola and Koch Industries) spent to lobby Washington and fill the campaign chests of ALEC alumni in Congress (as well as other Congressmembers). ALEC alumnus John Boehner received the most from ALEC Board corporations, a total of “$368,200 from the people and political action committees associated with the companies on ALEC’s private enterprise board during the 2010 election cycle.” Second place goes to another ALEC alumnus, House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.), who has been introducing ALEC’s agenda to the House. He collected “$328,100 from people and PACs associated with 17 companies on the ALEC private enterprise board.”

    • Shale Gas Industry Insider: We Are Losing the Messaging War on Fracking

      he shale gas industry has had its collective ass kicked, and kicked hard, by Gasland and others opposed to hydraulic fracturing and needs to redefine its core messages to defuse a burgeoning negative public perception of the controversial drilling technique, the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Colorado Oil & Gas Association (COGA) said today.

    • CNN Throws a Tea Party

      Network aligns with controversial far-right activists

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Newzbin2 Release Encrypted Client To Defeat Website Blocking

      The operators of Usenet indexing site Newzbin2 have introduced measures to circumvent court-ordered web-blocking measures designed to render the site inoperable in the UK. Site staff aren’t revealing how the stand-alone software client works but some basic network packet analysis shows that it defeats ISP BT’s Cleanfeed censorship system by using a handful of techniques including encryption.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Canada’s Tories set to reintroduce DRM-friendly copyright bill without consultation

        Canada’s majority Tory government is poised to reintroduce its disastrous DRM-friendly copyright law, formerly Bill C-32, without any further public consultation. This law repeats the major error made in the US 1998 DMCA, namely granting special status to “software locks” (AKA DRM), making it illegal to remove a lock, even if you’re doing so for a lawful purpose.

Cablegate: Apple Takes a Bite of Fake Viagra Experts

Posted in Apple, Asia at 6:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Apple and Pfizer have a lot more in common than people may realise

Apple is a Badgeware/Brandware company. It is a major competitor of Linux and common sense. It’s all about marketing and perception at Apple, arguably a big delusion and spin on products made in China but designed in California. Apple is largely based on PR (and brand value). Eliminate those and all they are left with are Foxconn-made imitations/knock-offs that merely integrate good technology from IBM (hardware), Xerox, etc. The English-speaking press likes to boost the “Mac vs PC” delusion because it’s good for the US duopoly. The matter of fact is, Asia is rising and it is using Linux. Likewise, Xbox was a loser; the Japanese consoles do exceptionally well, but they don’t control English-speaking press. Linux makes affordable products; Apple makes expensive marketing. Would one prefer paying for quality and value or just marketing/peer perception?

Regardless of this introduction which mostly reuses a message that was made public earlier, the following Cablegate cable shows how Apple guards its brand. It takes the same approach as that of drug companies and even uses the same people.

DE RUEHBJ #3732/01 2700120
P 260120Z SEP 08

State for EAP/CM - PPark and EB/IPE - DBubman 
State for EB/TPP - EMagdanz and INL - JVigil 
State for EB/CIP - WWitteman and RDaley 
USTR for China Office - AWinter; IPR Office - RBae; 
and OCG - SMcCoy; and JRagland 
Commerce for National Coordinator for IPR 
Commerce for WPaugh, NWinetke 
Commerce for MAC 3204/ESzymanski 
Commerce for MAC 3042/SWilson, JYoung 
LOC/Copyright Office - STepp 
USPTO for Int'l Affairs - LBoland, EWu, STong 
DOJ for CCIPS - MDubose and SChembtob 
FTC for Blumenthal 
FBI for LBryant 
DHS/ICE for IPR Center - DFaulconer, TRandazzo 
DHS/CBP for IPR Rights Branch - GMacray, PPizzeck 
ITC for LLevine, LSchlitt 
State for White House OTP Ambassador Richard Russell 
E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ETRD [Foreign Trade], EIND [Industry and Manufacturing], 
KIPR [Intellectual Property Rights], 
ECON [Economic Conditions], CH [China (Mainland)] 
This cable is sensitive but unclassified and is not 
for Internet distribution. 
¶1. (SBU) As amazing as it seems, computer maker 
Apple Inc. had no global security team - including 
inside China - until March 2008, when they hired 
away the team from Pfizer that formed and led a 
multi-year crackdown on counterfeit Viagra 
production in Asia.  Now with Apple, Don Shruhan, 
based in Hong Kong, has taken the first basic step 
of registering the company's trademarks in China and 
Hong Kong and is targeting retailers, manufacturers, 
distributors, and online vendors to take a bite out 
of China's counterfeit iPod and iPhone production. 
Early evidence suggests nearly 100 percent of Apple 
products in unauthorized mainland markets are knock- 
offs, while factories in Guangdong province are 
exporting enough counterfeits to single-handedly 
supply the world with fake Apple products.  End 
From Viagra to iPods 
¶2. (SBU) Apple Inc., the Cupertino, California-based 
designer of Mac desktop and laptop computers, was 
not especially well known in mainland China before 
the introduction in 2001 of its now-ubiquitous iPod 
music player and, more recently, the iPhone.  Now 
those products are so popular worldwide that China's 
notorious counterfeit markets are filled with knock- 
off versions.  After finally recognizing the threat, 
Apple hired Don Shruhan from Pfizer in March as 
Senior Director of Security for Asia Pacific to 
design and launch the company's security strategy, 
including anti-counterfeiting efforts, in the 
region.  His focus is on China, where he is "afraid" 
of the volume of fake Apple products being produced, 
though he is so far unable to quantify the scope. 
Shruhan's boss at Pfizer, John Theriault, was also 
hired by Apple, and is now VP of Global Security, 
based in California. 
¶3. (SBU) Shruhan, who over the past five years 
developed and implemented a security and anti- 
counterfeiting strategy for Pfizer aimed largely at 
tackling fake Viagra production in China, said that 
he is starting more or less from scratch at Apple - 
the company had not so much as registered its 
trademarks in China or Hong Kong until he joined the 
company early this year. 
China: Source of Fake (and Real) Apples 
¶4. (SBU) Effectively all of Apple's iPod and iPhone 
production is performed by sole-sourced third party 
vendors in China, largely in Guangdong province -- 
BEIJING 00003732  002 OF 005 
China's manufacturing heartland and counterfeit 
capital.  (Note: MacBook laptop computers are also 
produced in China, but are less popular than the 
company's other products and not subject to 
counterfeiting.  Shruhan has not yet spotted any 
fake Apple computers.  End Note.)  Media reports 
indicate that a single plant operated by electronics 
subcontractor Foxconn employs 200,000 workers making 
iPods in Longhua, Guangdong province.  While cities 
in that province, which also include Shenzhen and 
Guangzhou, are far and away the biggest source for 
fake Apple products, Shruhan says that internal 
controls at subcontracted facilities, combined with 
independent audits, are good enough that he does not 
believe authorized plants are producing unlicensed 
products in a so-called "third shift" scenario.  He 
explained that Apple's system for tracking each 
product's unique serial number appears very 
effective, and more sophisticated than Pfizer's. 
Instead, he attributes the usually poor-quality 
fakes to independent operators without links to the 
licensees, though he acknowledges the manufacturing 
molds for iPods or iPhones could be removed from 
licensed factories and used in illegal production. 
This can result in fakes that appear flawless on the 
surface, but whose internal hardware is substandard. 
Shruhan has discovered, for instance, what appear to 
be real iPods with 80GB of storage, but that in fact 
have only a very inexpensive 1GB hard drive inside. 
Exports Shipped through Hong Kong 
¶5. (SBU) Whatever means counterfeiters are able to 
exploit, the numbers are compelling: Shruhan notes 
that customs seizure data definitively show that 
there is enough counterfeit production of Apple 
products in Guangdong to effectively make China the 
single source for the world's fake iPods and 
iPhones, many of which are transshipped via Hong 
Kong to points onward.  Even with the introduction 
of genuine iPod and iPhone retail sales in China 
(through authorized dealers and, more recently, an 
actual Apple Store), Apple's marketing strategy here 
is still in its infancy.  The popularity of its 
products is stronger outside of China.  In three 
recent raids in India, all fake Apple products were 
found to have been transshipped through Hong Kong 
(from China).  Also, goods bound by air for 
Mauritius were recently seized in Hong Kong. 
Shruhan explained that Hong Kong's port has 
historically received less scrutiny than others for 
outgoing goods.  In his experience with Pfizer, he 
found Hong Kong customs authorities reluctant to 
launch investigations that they fear could slow port 
traffic - especially in comparison to more willing 
mainland customs officials - but could be convinced 
to cooperate if negative publicity can be minimized. 
¶6. (SBU) Hong Kong is not only the exit port for 
outbound fakes, Shruhan said, but is also the point 
BEIJING 00003732  003 OF 005 
of entry for legitimate Apple products entering 
China's gray market.  By buying iPods and iPhones in 
Hong Kong, outside of mainland China's customs zone, 
entrepreneurs willing to transport products across 
the border can resell them at an instant profit of 
approximately 25 percent to mainland Chinese 
accustomed to paying import duties and value-added 
Retail Outlets 
¶7. (SBU) Genuine Apple products in China until 
recently were sold only through authorized 
resellers.  In July, the company opened its first 
official Apple Store in Beijing and plans to open 
another - the world's largest - in the Chinese 
capital in early 2009.  Outside of these legitimate 
channels, vendors misrepresenting themselves as 
"authorized" may sell the occasional real iPod or 
iPhone, but predominantly offer fakes.  Shruhan 
recently completed an informal (and statistically 
insignificant) survey of markets in Beijing, 
including the notorious Silk Street Market, where 
his team found that, while many Apple products "look 
good," nearly 100 percent were fake. 
The Approach to Fighting Fakes 
¶8. (SBU) In many ways, Shruhan intends to model 
Apple's security plan in China on his successful 
experience at Pfizer, so he can quickly unroll a 
strategy.  In broad terms, the company will target 
retailers first to raise their costs and get 
counterfeit products off the street.  Next, Shruhan 
will work with the authorities to crack down on 
major manufacturers and distributors of fakes to 
undermine the supply of fake products.  Finally, he 
will seek out vendors who sell knock-offs online. 
To accomplish this will require not only a team of 
investigators, which Shruhan has subcontracted, but 
also tools like a laboratory to begin accurately 
tracing the source of counterfeit goods.  A lab that 
can perform forensic analysis on individual parts 
like batteries, for example, can help to locate 
high-volume manufacturers of such component parts. 
Cooperation with the Chinese Government 
¶9. (SBU) A key component in Shruhan's plan is close 
cooperation with the Public Security Bureau (PSB). 
Pfizer enjoyed very strong support from the PSB in 
pursuing counterfeit pharmaceuticals, in large part 
due to health and safety implications at a time when 
China was particularly sensitive to such image 
issues after the use of lead-based paint in toys and 
unsafe Heparin.  Shruhan is unsure how much the PSB 
will focus on Apple's issues, but believes a safety 
angle like shoddy devices causing fire hazards will 
BEIJING 00003732  004 OF 005 
strengthen his case.  Short of this, his most 
persuasive argument will be the economic impact of 
counterfeiting: lost tax revenue and jobs.  Apple is 
studying what this costs the Chinese Government per 
counterfeit device sold.  Whatever degree of support 
the PSB offers, Shruhan accepts that, as with 
Pfizer, the reality of successful cooperation will 
be that his team "does 95 percent of the 
investigative work," turns case files over to the 
PSB, and "gives the PSB 100 percent of the credit" 
for successful enforcement actions.  The payoff is 
worth it.  China has some of the strictest penalties 
around for counterfeiters, he claimed - if the PSB 
can successfully prosecute a case.  Shruhan recalled 
a pharmaceuticals case in which the counterfeiter 
was sentenced to ten years and received a USD 
250,000 fine. 
¶10. (SBU) Apple's first raids will be carried out in 
Shenzhen in Guangdong province, where Shruhan has 
identified at least one major underground factory. 
In such a raid, carried out by the PSB, the factory 
will be shut down by authorities only if its output 
exceeds the criminal threshold that under Chinese 
law represents production on a commercial scale: RMB 
150,000 (USD 22,000).  In addition to working with 
the PSB to shut down manufacturers, Shruhan is also 
encouraging China's local Administrations of 
Industry and Commerce (AICs) to raid retailers. 
Such raids may not put vendors out of business, but 
associated fines and penalties from civil suits will 
raise their costs.  Shruhan said that low profile 
retail raids are a good option for Apple, a company 
that wants to stay away from too much publicity 
surrounding this issue.  The evidence Apple gathers 
doing market surveys, including the names of 
infringing shops, the number of fakes found, and the 
trademarks being violated, will be provided to the 
AIC for support in upcoming raids in cities 
including Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, and 
¶11. (SBU) Shruhan describes his relationship with 
China Customs, developed over five years of joint 
efforts to fight fake drugs, as very cooperative, 
and he is already getting the support he needs, 
including five export seizures in August.  A key 
element of his relationship with customs officials 
in the past has been providing them with the 
training they need to identify counterfeit goods in 
the field.  In addition to building strong 
relationships with investigators and law enforcement 
agencies, Shruhan knows that currying favor with the 
Supreme People's Procuratorate and the courts are 
essential in ensuring effective prosecution and 
Selling the Plan in California 
¶12. (SBU) While Shruhan has the benefit of his 
BEIJING 00003732  005 OF 005 
Pfizer experience in China, he laments that Apple 
lawyers do not.  Based in California, the company's 
inexperience has slowed cooperative progress with 
Chinese Authorities.  Officials at Lowu Commercial 
City, one of China's notorious counterfeit markets 
near Hong Kong, asked Apple for training and 
evidence of counterfeit sales in their shops. 
However, reluctance by the company to accept 
standard Chinese legal documents and other problems 
in corporate communication have so far prevented 
such cooperation.  Shruhan has an ally at Apple's 
Cupertino headquarters who will help him win the 
support he needs to build an effective security 
operation in China.  John Theriault, former Vice 
President of Global Security for Pfizer, was 
Shruhan's boss for the last five years, and is the 
one responsible for bringing Shruhan to Apple, where 
Theriault is now Vice President of Global Security. 
Theriault, said Shruhan, has already pitched the 
China security strategy to Steve Jobs. 
¶13. (SBU) Shruhan and Theriault spent five years 
building an effective security plan for Pfizer, 
resulting in high-profile raids and seizures of 
large quantities of counterfeit drugs like Viagra. 
This was due in large part to the high priority the 
Chinese Government placed on health and safety 
issues.  Now at Apple, they have an excellent 
understanding of China's underground manufacturers 
and global distribution channels that will serve 
them well as they seek to stem fake iPod and iPhone 
production.  However, the key will be whether their 
personal relationships with customs, law 
enforcement, and judiciary officials will be enough 
to focus the Chinese Government on Apple's non- 
health-related problems as they seek to make life 
uncomfortable for counterfeiters.  End Comment.

If Apple “hired away the team from Pfizer that formed and led a multi-year crackdown on counterfeit Viagra production in Asia,” does that explain Apple’s fertile spirit of litigation and assaults?

Cablegate: Even Amid Departure From Microsoft, Bill Gates Lobbies Pakistani Government to Pay Microsoft

Posted in Asia, Bill Gates, Microsoft at 6:15 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Government of Pakistan (GOP) and the US government speak of weapons and Microsoft

The following Cablegate cable, dated 2008, has a special section about “MICROSOFT CORPORATION”. It says that the “GOP currently uses 90 percent of pirated Microsoft Software for its operations worth USD 10 million. In an April meeting with now former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz at the Economic Forum Summit in Boao, China, Microsoft’s Bill Gates proposed that the GOP pay USD 10 million over a five year period for legal licenses for government desktops, and asked that the PM respond within 45 days. The deadline passed on June 5 without a response from the GOP.

“Bill Gates sent a letter to former Prime Minister in June 2007 to follow up on their agreement and Microsoft has yet to receive a response.”

This was written around the same time Microsoft Gold Partners in Pakistan helped subvert an OOXML vote on the face of it. Here is the cable in full:

DE RUEHIL #0392/01 0260355
P 260355Z JAN 08

E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/24/2018 
TAGS: ECON [Economic Conditions], 
PREL [External Political Relations], 
ETRD [Foreign Trade], EAID [Foreign Economic Assistance], 
EINV [Foreign Investments], EFIN [Financial and Monetary Affairs], 
PGOV [Internal Governmental Affairs], PK [Pakistan] 
REFS: (A) Islamabad 191, (B) Islamabad 228, (C) Islamabad 288 
Classified By: DCM Peter W. Bodde, Reasons 1.4 (b), (d) 
¶1. (C) SUMMARY: Embassy Islamabad has received an increased number of 
complaints from American companies over the last several months 
regarding unfair practices on the part of GOP, many stemming from 
action of the caretaker government.  General Electric, Oracle, Bell 
Helicopters and AES have experienced problems in GOP tenders. 
Chevron and AES have yet to be paid millions of dollars for energy 
products and services rendered.  Netsol and Microsoft have 
experienced non-compliance or interference in intellectual property 
rights (IPR) violations.  These problems, totaling an estimated USD 
1.82 billion, present challenges for American businesses to fairly 
compete and survive in Pakistan.  The GOP's cash crunch is the cause 
of the slow payments to the energy companies and the cancellation of 
the Augusta helicopter contract, and may further complicate bidding 
on GOP contracts.  END SUMMARY. 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
--------------------------------------------- ------- 
¶2. (C) GENERAL ELECTRIC (GE):  GE won a tender for a Railways 
Re-signaling Project with the Ministry of Railways worth USD 46 
million in Phase One to re-signal the existing railway lines in 
Pakistan.  Phase one and two are worth USD 150 million.  Pakistan 
Railways made technical changes in the contract so that the full 
contract can be awarded to another supplier using cheaper Chinese 
¶3. (C) GE CURRENT STATUS:  On Dec 19, a letter was sent to the 
Chairman of the Pakistan Railways by the Ambassador requesting that 
the transparency of the tender process be respected and that GE's 
contract award for Phase One of the project be upheld. Neither GE nor 
the Embassy has received any reply to date.  Railway infrastructure 
was targeted and damaged in the post Bhutto assassination violence 
and the GOP is currently assessing the extent of the damage and how 
this will impact planned railway projects. 
¶4. (C) ORACLE:  Oracle is interested in projects with Pakistan 
International Airways (PIA) worth USD 23.5 million. PIA plans to 
implement ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and MRO (Maintenance 
Repair and Overhaul) solutions using prepackaged applications 
software in order to automate its key business functions such as 
revenue accounting, inventory, aircraft maintenance, repair and 
overhaul.  The two other competitors are representing German software 
package SAP. 
¶5. (C) ORACLE CURRENT STATUS:  Samina Rizwan, Regional Director, 
reported on December 19 that Oracle was structured out of the ERP 
project and could not fairly compete for the MRO project because the 
only competitor booked all costs under the ERP project to "give away 
the ERP project for free."  Oracle does not plan to submit a tender 
due to their perceived unfairness in the procurement process. 
¶6. (C) BELL HELICOPTERS:  Bell Helicopter bid on a tender with the 
Pakistan Military worth USD 35 million. The Cabinet Division plans to 
procure new twin engine and single engine helicopters totaling USD 35 
million for which the local distributor for Bell Helicopters has 
expressed keen interest.  Bell Helicopters have served the Cabinet 
Division and other GOP agencies for the past 15 years. 
¶7. (C) BELL CURRENT STATUS:  The GOP tender was structured for the 
specifications of Agusta helicopters.  All competitors were 
structured out of the bid because of the technical specifics related 
to Augusta's products.  Advocacy letters from the American Embassy 
and Canadian High Commission were unsuccessful in convincing the GOP 
to open its tender to competition.  January 25 press reports indicate 
that the GOP is cancelling the Augusta helicopter contract.  Comment: 
 The USG has given the GOP two VIP helicopters for the President's 
use.  End comment. 
¶8. (C) AES:  AES has the opportunity to build a 1000-1200 MW Coal 
Fired imported Power Plant near Karachi worth USD 1.6 billion.  The 
Private Power and Infrastructure Board of Pakistan has issued AES 
Pakistan a Letter of Interest to carry out a feasibility study by 
March 15. 
¶9. (C) CURRENT STATUS:  AES reported to ECON that they are getting 
signals from the GOP that the tender process for the power plant may 
not involve a level playing field.  AES is awaiting the installation 
ISLAMABAD 00000392  002 OF 003 
of a new government before moving forward with further expansion 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
¶10. (C) CHEVRON: The GOP owes Chevron nearly USD 3 billion rupees 
(USD 50.2 million) in back payments on differential price claims from 
August 2007- January 2008. The GOP heavily subsidizes consumer gas 
prices and has not increased local prices since gas was approximately 
USD 55 per barrel. 
¶11. (C) CHEVRON CURRENT STATUS:  The Ministry of Petroleum and 
Natural Resources is willing to pay, but they and Chevron report that 
the Ministry of Finance is the hold up.  Chevron's headquarters would 
like to see a reimbursement of at least USD 27.5 million made prior 
to January 31, 2008 or the company plans to reduce distribution to 
Pakistan from 40,000 metric tons to 20,000 metric tons. Chevron 
currently supplies approximately 25 percent of Pakistan's gas and 
¶12. (C) AES:  AES reports that the Pakistan Water and Power 
Development Authority (WAPDA) consistently does not pay the company 
in a timely manner for electricity.  The Country Manager said that 
his subsidiary routinely stops plant operations from time to time due 
to lack of funds available to purchase power plant fuel. 
¶13. (C) AES CURRENT STATUS:  AES has received some payment for 
electricity production and is currently operational but the company 
is still owed approximately USD 30 million for its operations and 
services rendered. 
¶14.  (C)  The GOP's cash crunch is due to increased fuel and food 
subsidy bills, lack of political will to pass through increased 
international fuel and food prices to consumers already faced by high 
essential good inflation in an election year, and increased 
government spending on infrastructure projects prior to elections. 
This increased spending means that there is less money available to 
pay outstanding bills or contemplate new projects (ref C), 
particularly since GOP revenues are not able to keep pace with the 
increased expenditures.  The GOP has deferred any decision to pass 
along increased commodity prices until after the February 18 
elections, which will cause further increases in the fiscal and 
current account deficits.  The GOP has also resorted to increased 
borrowing from the State Bank of Pakistan.  We believe the GOP cash 
crunch is behind the Augusta contract cancellation.  Finance Minister 
Shah (ref A) acknowledged that the GOP's fiscal difficulties (ref A) 
were holding up payments to the energy companies in a January 4 
meeting with the Ambassador. 
¶15. (C) NETSOL TECHNOLOGIES:  NetSol has a pending IPR investigation 
worth USD 20 million.  The company reported Dec 20 that two former 
employees stole secret information from the company and launched 
their own public company in Pakistan to sell the exact same products. 
 The company filed a complaint with the Federal Investigative Agency 
(FIA) Nov 22 and investigators then arrested one of the partners and 
scanned his laptop which contained over 100 secret corporate 
documents.  On December 18, 2007 FIA contacted NetSol to say the 
Supreme Court Justice Nawaz Abbasi, a family friend of one of the 
accused, called their investigators in for a meeting and asked them 
to drop the case, return the laptop, and dismiss evidence. 
¶16. (C) NETSOL CURRENT STATUS:  Embassy drafted letters requesting 
information from the FIA on the status of this on-going 
investigation.  Embassy pressure was successful.  FIA retained the 
laptop, the company dissolved, a non-disclosure agreement was signed, 
and the Supreme Court justice moved his pressure down to a civil 
¶17. (C) MICROSOFT CORPORATION:  GOP currently uses 90 percent of 
pirated Microsoft Software for its operations worth USD 10 million. 
In an April meeting with now former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz at 
the Economic Forum Summit in Boao, China, Microsoft's Bill Gates 
ISLAMABAD 00000392  003 OF 003 
proposed that the GOP pay USD 10 million over a five year period for 
legal licenses for government desktops, and asked that the PM respond 
within 45 days.  The deadline passed on June 5 without a response 
from the GOP. 
¶18. (C) MICROSOFT CURRENT STATUS:  Bill Gates sent a letter to former 
Prime Minister in June 2007 to follow up on their agreement and 
Microsoft has yet to receive a response. 
¶19. (C) COMMENT: With an estimated total of approximately USD 1.82 
billion at stake, Embassy Islamabad considers the increased activity 
a troubling trend. Increased economic and financial problems continue 
to compound the GOP's political difficulties. The newly elected 
government, regardless of party, will have to face mounting economic 
challenges.  Embassy will continue to closely monitor each situation 
involving these and other American companies and raise each issue 
with the appropriate GOP officials on a regular basis.  END COMMENT. 
- 1 -

Much of the above is too political for us to delve into.

Cablegate: Caterpillar Official Cites Bill Gates to Justify Colluding With Oppressors

Posted in Asia, Bill Gates at 5:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Gates has created a huge blood-buying operation that only cares about money, not about people.”

AIDS organisation manager in China


Summary: The Chinese government’s denial or misuse of human rights gets defended by Caterpillar (notorious for human rights and workers’ rights abuses), whose representative cites Bill Gates

IN THE FOLLOWING Cablegate cable, Caterpillar’s Xiao is said to think that ‘Google approached the problem [with the Chinese government] incorrectly, citing Bill Gates’ position that companies must “follow the laws of the country in which they operate.”‘

Some people still think of Gates, a convicted monopolist, as some kind of a moral symbol. See what Microsoft does in Hong Kong based on Cablegate.

DE RUEHBJ #0247/01 0291210
O 291210Z JAN 10

C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 03 BEIJING 000247 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 01/28/2030 
TAGS: ECON [Economic Conditions], EINV [Foreign Investments], PGOV [Internal Governmental Affairs], PREL [External Political Relations], CH [China (Mainland)] 
Classified By: Economic Minister Counselor Weinstein for reasons: 1.4(B 
), (D) 
¶1. (C) Summary.  Despite media reports quoting Google 
officials in the U.S. as saying Google is in talks with 
China, a Ministry of Commerce official told a visiting U.S. 
delegation on January 28 that "it would be better if Google 
stopped telling the media that it is in negotiations with 
China, since it is not."  However, a Foreign Ministry 
official told Poloff earlier this week there is going to be a 
"meeting in Davos" that China hopes "will resolve everything 
in an extremely low-key and quiet manner."  Separately, 
several U.S.-China dialogues related to IT issues were 
unexpectedly postponed by China this week due to the 
purported unavailability of key officials who had previously 
confirmed to attend.  It is unclear, however, whether the 
postponements are related.  Google remained the hot topic 
this week among our contacts in China,s information 
technology (IT) industry, with those in foreign firms 
generally supportive and appreciative of the Secretary,s 
speech on internet freedom.  Expat executives said that while 
they expect the USG's highlighting of internet freedom and 
requests for an investigation of Google's allegations will 
lead to frictions with China, they welcomed the intervention 
in what they see as an increasingly difficult operating 
environment.  End summary. 
¶2. (C) Google's decision to potentially walk away from 
China's market of nearly 400 million internet users continues 
to spark extensive discussion on a range of important related 
issues: censorship and information flow; principled versus 
bottom-line decision-making; protection of corporate 
proprietary information and intellectual property; and how 
companies can effect positive change from within a foreign 
economy.  Secretary Clinton's January 21 speech on Internet 
freedom touched a nerve in China's leadership (reftel), and 
rightly so according to our local business contacts who 
regularly cite the increasingly challenging business climate 
in China.  Locally-based western businessmen and consultants 
are viewing Google's confrontation with the Chinese 
authorities with a fascinated mix of admiration and caution, 
though few are willing to bet on the ultimate outcome. 
¶3. (C) Western companies, Chinese employees are, not 
surprisingly, sometimes more sympathetic to the PRC,s 
position.  Local Caterpillar Vice President S.C. Xiao 
commented that Google has played matters badly, suggesting it 
should have tried to help PRC authorities understand what 
Google provides "is good for China."  Xiao stated he thinks 
Google approached the problem incorrectly, citing Bill Gates' 
position that companies must "follow the laws of the country 
in which they operate."  Xiao also intimated that, as a 
Chinese citizen, he could empathize with the Chinese 
government,s fears that Google's services could be used by 
Dalai Lama supporters to publicize their views throughout 
China.  Liu Tao, Government Affairs Manager for Caterpillar, 
notes that the parties involved in the Google issue should 
discuss the issue without "being so emotional." Liu, a 
Chinese citizen, said that the Chinese government was "not 
acting emotionally" over this issue. 
¶4. (C) A visiting London-based APCO executive believes the 
Google matter was a "good shaking of the tree" for China 
issues needing greater visibility.  Although he predicted 
impact from Google would not necessarily change the game for 
European interests here, he noted that Google has established 
close relations with UK Conservatives, and predicted a 
potential future Conservative government would be very 
supportive of the tenets in Secretary Clinton's recent 
speech.  Another Beijing-based APCO consultant compared 
Google,s experience to Intel, which in 2003 threatened to 
withdraw from China after Chinese authorities sought to 
impose technological modifications to its encryption-enabled 
products.  The Chinese government ultimately backed down, but 
our local contact believes Chinese payback continues today 
and is one reason China insists that homegrown technology be 
BEIJING 00000247  002 OF 003 
co-installed in any WI-FI-enabled phones/communication 
devices.  The latter local contact further suggested Google 
could pursue resolution of its current impasse by lobbying 
technologically-enlightened senior statesmen, especially more 
pro-business ones, who might sway China's leadership to 
address Google's censorship issues more moderately. 
¶5. (C) Many contacts have opined that it appears Google will 
likely remain in China, albeit with a more limited presence, 
i.e., without a search engine service.  Although Google has 
firmly positioned itself on censorship matters and hence will 
likely have little choice but to take down its Google.cn 
search site, they believe Google executives' public 
statements and vested interests still coincide with 
maintaining at least some presence in China. 
--------------------------------------------- - 
¶6. (C) Another IT association representative told Econoff 
that interest in the Google case "highlights the growing 
number of Chinese measures and policy goals that diminish the 
investment environment in China... part of a troubling 
pattern that is making it increasingly difficult for foreign 
firms to do business."  Business contacts told ConGen 
Shanghai that they "welcome a more assertive voice on behalf 
of the U.S.  While it may not be good for U.S.-China 
relations in the short term, it will be better in the long 
term.  We need to stand for what we believe in."  Injecting a 
more cautionary note, however, another Shanghai businessmen 
warns that "America will not advance its objectives with 
regard to the bilateral relationship by telling the Chinese 
government that it is working to put new internet 
technologies into the hands of dissidents. In this particular 
face-off, at least, the Chinese are 'spinning' the issue far 
more effectively than the Americans." 
¶7. (C) Fallout beyond China's borders continues.  Two 
governmental dialogues (the U.S. China ICT Consultations, 
previously scheduled for February 9, 2010, and the 
DOC-Ministry of Industry and Information Technology on 
February 2, 2010 - both in Washington DC) were postponed this 
week due to purported unavailability of key officials who had 
previously confirmed to attend.  Congen Shanghai has found 
many IPR-related meetings cancelled this week. 
Interestingly, officials from the Swedish Embassy were 
summoned to the MFA to receive a protest of statements made 
by the Swedish FM supportive of Secretary Clinton's speech on 
Internet Freedom.  According to our Swedish contacts, the MFA 
charged the Swedes with damaging ties during the 60th 
anniversary of Chinese-Swedish diplomatic relationship. 
¶8. (C) According to another well-respected tech sector 
analyst here, a number of historical, cultural, and 
technological factors have coalesced to put China in a 
technologically-aggressive state-of-mind.  One contributing 
factor was Microsoft's flubbed 2004 "black screen" strategy 
to deter intellectual property theft by darkening computer 
monitors running unlicensed Windows operating software.  This 
consultant believes that example of U.S. technology 
effectively wielding power over China's personal computers 
helped spur China's aggressive campaign for source codes and 
its own technology.  This, combined with growing Chinese 
pride, economic clout and influence, and the "weakened" 
position of the U.S. and its allies after the global economic 
downturn, are emboldening the Chinese to take ever more 
aggressive positions in advancing its innovative industries 
at the expense of foreign ones. 
¶9. (C) A local Microsoft executive applauds the Secretary's 
speech and the Administration's commitment "to organize 
sustained, targeted, persistent engagement on the full range 
of Internet-related issues" with China.  This executive said 
the Secretary's remarks were "right on point," particularly 
for companies who "desperately need the help of the USG" in 
the face of "harassment, threats and actual shutdowns of 
service, threats of licenses being revoked, resistance to 
provide legal authority, mandates to place servers in China, 
etc."  Our local APCO contact described the Google issue as a 
"stirring of the beehive," but says the kind of harassment 
Microsoft describes is a fact of worsening life here which 
BEIJING 00000247  003 OF 003 
the Google incident only helps spotlight. 

This cable is interesting for many political reasons, too.

Cablegate: US Sees Microsoft as Helping to Impose Intellectual Monopolies in Vietnam

Posted in Asia, Cablegate, Microsoft at 5:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: How politicians view Microsoft’s signing of software deals with foreign governments

“Ministry of Posts and Telematics (MPT) may sign an agreement with Microsoft,” says the following Cablegate cable. “Microsoft is pushing to sign the agreement during a planned visit to Vietnam by its CEO, Steve Ballmer, before President Triet’s visit, but is uncertain if that would happen.”

Why are politicians so involved in this? Here is why: “this agreement would be an important symbol of Vietnam,s commitment to protect intellectual property rights and something they hope to include in a possible Joint Statement.”

Oh, that’s right. Also see:

The cable itself is very long and diverse.

DE RUEHHI #0898/01 1361126
P 161126Z MAY 07
Hide header
C O N F I D E N T I A L SECTION 01 OF 05 HANOI 000898 
E.O. 12958: DECL: 05/16/2017 
TAGS: ECON [Economic Conditions], ETRD [Foreign Trade], 
KIRF [International Religious Freedom], 
OVIP [Visits and Travel of Prominent Individuals and Leaders], 
PGOV [Internal Governmental Affairs], PHUM [Human Rights], 
PREL [External Political Relations], VM [Vietnam] 
Classified By: Ambassador Michael W. Marine, Reasons 1.4 (b/d) 
 1. (C) Summary:  At a May 15 dinner with Vice Foreign 
Minister (VFM) Le Van Bang and other MFA officials, the 
Ambassador stressed that time is short for the two sides to 
reach agreements on potential deliverables to ensure a 
successful visit by President Nguyen Minh Triet.  The two 
sides discussed human rights at length, with the Ambassador 
urging the GVN to take steps responsive to calls from the USG 
and others.  VFM Bang reported that Vietnam is considering 
several measures to reduce tensions in this area, including 
amnesty for Nguyen Vu Binh, a cessation of arrests and 
unspecified "action" on the case of Le Quoc Quan. 
¶2. (C) The Ambassador raised the items the USG would like as 
deliverables, including a TIFA, commercial deals, increased 
cooperation in law enforcement and rule of law/good 
governance programs.  Although making no specific 
commitments, the MFA officials acknowledged the need to make 
progress quickly, and as a first step, offered to prepare the 
initial draft of a Joint Statement.   The Ambassador also 
raised other bilateral issues such as the new embassy 
compound, adoptions and a bilateral work agreement.  End 
¶3. (C) At a May 15 dinner meeting, the Ambassador met with 
Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) Vice Minister Le Van Bang 
and Americas Department Director General Pham Van Que to 
discuss ways to advance preparations for President Nguyen 
Minh Triet's June visit to Washington.  Stressing that only 
five weeks remain before the visit, the Ambassador pressed 
VFM Bang for a list of Vietnam's priorities.  In response to 
Bang's discussion of a Joint Statement, the Ambassador said 
that a statement will require positive and concrete contents. 
 It will be important to address human rights concerns and to 
have a list of specific deliverables to ensure that our 
Presidents' meeting will be a success, he added. 
¶4. (C) VFM Bang began by reflecting on the progress in our 
bilateral relations over the past three years of the 
Ambassador's tenure, concluding by stating that our relations 
are at a "high mark" politically and diplomatically, our 
economic ties are expanding rapidly and the relationship has 
even grown to include cooperation on military and security 
issues.  He said that the Government of Vietnam (GVN) shares 
the desire to ensure a highly successful visit by President 
Triet (even more successful than the 2005 visit of then-PM 
Phan Van Khai, he hoped), and is "working hard" to conclude 
agreements on a list of deliverables - commercial and 
otherwise.  Vietnam expects this visit will continue to 
expand, deepen and broaden our relationship in the interest 
of both countries. 
Triet Visit Logistics 
¶5. (C) Vietnam is considering sending an advance team to 
Washington by the end of May to prepare for President Triet's 
visit.  The advance team would likely be headed by VFM Bang's 
probable successor, AFM Pham Binh Minh.  The MFA officials 
said the Embassy in Washington would be reaching out to the 
Department in the next day or two to discuss the possibility 
of an advance team. 
¶6. (C) While travel plans are not final, President Triet and 
his delegation intend to leave Hanoi for New York City on 
June 18 or 19.  They will remain in New York for one or two 
days, arriving in Washington on June 21.  Following Triet's 
June 22 meetings at the White House and elsewhere in 
Washington, he will depart late that evening or early June 23 
for a day of meetings in Los Angeles (the timing depends upon 
the scheduling of a requested meeting with the mayor).  Triet 
and the delegation will return to Hanoi from Los Angeles. 
Despite earlier considerations, Triet will not visit Canada 
on this trip.  The MFA officials do not yet have a final list 
of the delegation members, but offered to provide the USG 
with that list and a final schedule as soon as it is 
Joint Statement and Vietnam's Protocol Request 
--------------------------------------------- - 
¶7. (C) The MFA officials expressed hope that President Triet 
and President Bush's meeting would yield a "forward-looking" 
Joint Statement that builds upon the November Joint Statement 
and outlines the landscape for closer cooperation in coming 
years.  Noting that this would be the White House's call, the 
Ambassador emphasized that any Joint Statement must be 
HANOI 00000898  002 OF 005 
"robust" and underscored the importance of concluding 
agreements on deliverables now for inclusion in that possible 
Statement.  DG Que offered to provide a first draft this week 
as a jumping off point, and VFM Bang proposed that the two 
sides sit down "in the next week" to go through each 
potential deliverable in detail.  Bang added that, in 
addition to a positive Joint Statement, the GVN hopes that 
the White House will agree to allow President Triet to stay 
at Blair House. 
U.S. Deliverables 
¶8. (SBU) Both sides agreed that the signing of a Trade and 
Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) during the visit would 
be an important step forward in the relationship.  VFM Bang 
and the Ambassador each expressed confidence that the TIFA 
would be ready by the visit, as the two sides are close to an 
agreement.  The TIFA could be used as a platform to help 
Vietnam pursue possible participation in the Generalized 
System of Preferences (GSP) program, which DG Que 
acknowledged would be a long process and not something that 
could be announced during the June visit. 
¶9. (SBU) Noting that we are in a position to seal a number of 
high-profile, high-value commercial deals, the Ambassador 
pressed the MFA officials for progress on agreements with 
Boeing, AES (power plant), Alcoa, SSA Marine (ports) and 
Gannon (power plants), among others.  If Secretary Gutierrez 
is to preside over a signing ceremony in Washington, as he 
has indicated an interest in doing, we will need to know what 
contracts will be included.  Que assured the Ambassador that, 
at the direct order of the Prime Minister, the GVN is 
"working hard" to make a final determination on these deals. 
VFM Bang reported that the Prime Minister personally 
mentioned to him that Boeing had improved its loan offer to 
now be in line with the Airbus offer, which he described as 
an encouraging sign.  The officials could make no additional 
commitments beyond the assurance that the GVN continues to 
work these issues. 
¶10. (SBU) Recent discussions between the Embassy and the MFA 
have yielded some progress on amending an existing Letter of 
Agreement (LOA) to include intellectual property protection 
technical assistance to Vietnam's Customs Department, the 
Ambassador said.  The U.S. side would be coming back with 
amended language shortly, and signing the LOA would be ideal 
to mention in a possible Joint Statement, he said. 
¶11. (SBU) Agreement to expand cooperative law enforcement 
efforts would contribute to the success of the President's 
visit, the Ambassador continued.  Although cooperation 
between law enforcement agencies has improved, more work can 
be done in information sharing.  Anti-money laundering (AML) 
is one example where we can work together.  Upon request, the 
United States is willing to provide comments on Vietnam's 
existing AML law and work with Vietnam to make it more 
effective.  The USG also strongly supports Vietnam's interest 
in joining the Asia Pacific Group's Financial Action Task 
Force for Asia and encourages Vietnam to formalize its 
membership as soon as possible, the Ambassador said. 
¶12. (SBU) Some progress has also occurred on discussions to 
begin a Peace Corps program in Vietnam, the Ambassador noted. 
 It is clear that Vietnam has considered the Peace Corps' 
requests, and we have conveyed the GVN's latest ideas to 
Washington, the Ambassador explained.  We are now awaiting 
the response.  The Ambassador will meet with Minister of 
Finance Ninh this week, and will raise the question of 
immunities, privileges and taxes for Peace Corps volunteers. 
Vietnam's Deliverables 
¶13. (SBU) For its part, Vietnam is requesting assistance from 
the United States to set up a world-class university, VFM 
Bang said.  DG Que claimed that the Ministry of Education and 
Training (MOET) submitted a concept paper to Washington 
during DPM/FM Khiem's March visit.  GVN officials will be 
meeting with Harvard University during their trip to the 
United States.  Pursuing contacts with the private sector, 
including universities like Harvard, is the right approach, 
explained the Ambassador.  He agreed to note Vietnam's 
interest in including language on this issue in a possible 
Joint Statement and requested from Que a copy of MOET's 
concept paper to share with relevant USG agencies. 
¶14. (SBU) DG Que also raised the possibility that the 
HANOI 00000898  003 OF 005 
Ministry of Posts and Telematics (MPT) may sign an agreement 
with Microsoft in Washington to purchase licensed versions of 
Microsoft Office.  He noted that Microsoft is pushing to sign 
the agreement during a planned visit to Vietnam by its CEO, 
Steve Ballmer, before President Triet's visit, but is 
uncertain if that would happen.  In either case, this 
agreement would be an important symbol of Vietnam,s 
commitment to protect intellectual property rights and 
something they hope to include in a possible Joint Statement. 
¶15. (SBU) Vietnam's Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) 
has also made progress in its work with the U.S. Department 
of Energy on the use of nuclear technology for peaceful 
purposes.  Que underscored that MOST and DOE are happy with 
their cooperation, and this could also be an item for 
inclusion in the Joint Statement. 
¶16. (SBU) Vietnam would also like to build upon the dioxin 
language in the November joint statement by offering 
something new in June, VFM Bang said.  Language on new 
cooperation on de-mining and the clearance of unexploded 
ordinance would also be welcome, DG Que added. 
Human Rights 
¶17. (SBU) Introducing the main topic for discussion during 
the two-hour meeting, Ambassador Marine told VFM Bang that 
the economic progress and potential commercial deals 
notwithstanding, human rights issues are now attracting more 
attention in the United States than at any other point in his 
tenure in Vietnam.  The GVN should find a constructive way to 
address USG concerns over its recent crackdown, which will 
certainly be a significant topic of discussion during the 
Triet visit.  He pointed to the recent release of Phan Van 
Ban as evidence that the two sides can cooperate together. 
¶18. (SBU) VFM Bang recognized that the two sides view the 
issue from different perspectives, explaining that the recent 
arrests arose from concerns over Vietnam's security.  He 
raised the war legacy and the fear that former South Vietnam 
soldiers and others are working to organize groups or parties 
not only to change the way the GVN operates, but also to 
overthrow the government entirely.  This would "threaten the 
stability and security of Vietnam."  Vietnam looks to 
separatist movements and terrorist elements in other 
Southeast Asian nations and draws the strong lesson that its 
first priority must be safety and stability, and that any 
changes in its system of governance will have to come slowly 
and systematically to avoid political instability. 
¶19. (SBU) While the United States may view human rights as an 
important issue, Vietnam accords the matter less weight, 
viewing it as "only one of many" issues between our 
countries, Bang said.  He also requested that the United 
States consider religious freedom and human rights as two 
separate issues.  Vietnam would like to prevent human rights 
critics in the United States from using recent arrests to 
place Vietnam back on the List of Countries of Particular 
Concern (CPC), which would be unwarranted in its eyes given 
continuing progress on religious freedom issues.  The 
Ambassador agreed that Vietnam has made progress on the issue 
of religious freedom, and stated that he is unaware of any 
official consideration of putting Vietnam back on the CPC 
¶20. (SBU) The Ambassador said he understands ) but does not 
agree with - Vietnam's views of its security concerns, but 
emphasized that the USG has seen no evidence that any of the 
recently arrested dissidents have advocated violence.  We do 
not support those who promote the use of violence, he 
explained, and in fact want to work with Vietnam to counter 
those actions.  Rather, the United States views recent cases 
such as the convictions of lawyers Nguyen Van Dai and Le Thi 
Cong Nhan and others as freedom of speech issues, a 
fundamental value for the United States.  Not only do we 
disagree with the recent arrests of individuals who were 
peacefully expressing their political views, but believe that 
the sentences are harsh in proportion to the so-called 
"crime" of which they are accused, the Ambassador said. 
Given that the Party is firmly in power and under no threat, 
the USG views recent actions, and the reliance on Article 88 
(under which recent dissidents have been convicted), as 
attempts to stamp out freedom of speech and forestall any 
attempts to peacefully advocate for political change. 
¶21. The Ambassador noted that the two sides need to come to 
HANOI 00000898  004 OF 005 
some agreement about interactions with family members of 
jailed dissidents.  He expressed his surprise at a recent 
statement by MFA official Duong Chi Dzung (at the Human 
Rights Dialogue) that, "the Ambassador is able to meet 
whomever he likes."  This statement came one day after the 
Ambassador's second attempt to host the wives and mothers of 
several jailed dissidents (who themselves have not been 
accused of any crime) for tea.  He asked that the MFA 
officials share the view with others in the GVN that recent 
GVN steps against dissidents and actions to prevent the 
Ambassador and other Mission staff from meeting with family 
members and others only strengthen the groups overseas who 
are rallying support in opposition to the GVN and the 
bilateral relationship. 
¶22. (SBU) In the context of increased concerns over human 
rights, VFM Bang promised that Vietnam would "give 
ammunition" to counter criticism in the United States ) from 
Capitol Hill and elsewhere ) in the run-up to President 
Triet's visit.  For one thing, Bang said that the pace of 
arrests would likely slow down from now on (to which the 
Ambassador countered that many will believe that this is 
because there is no one left to arrest).  In addition to the 
recent release of Phan Van Ban, Vietnam is considering an 
amnesty "in the next several weeks" for Nguyen Vu Binh as a 
gesture by Vietnam tofulfill DPM/FM Khiem's promise to 
Secretary Ricelast November.  When pressed by the 
Ambassador, V Bang expressed confidence that this would 
happe before President Triet's visit and that the DPM/FM 
plans to write to the Secretary on this matter. 
¶23. (SBU) Vietnam is also considering how to deal with 
(former NED fellow) Le Quoc Quan; the GVN understands well 
the sensitivities surrounding this particular case and 
acknowledged receiving a letter from Senator McCain urging 
Quan's release.  Director General Que interjected that the 
GVN did not take action against Quan because of his 
connections to NED; rather, they are concerned about his 
alleged connections to the Viet Tan "terrorist group."  VM 
Bang could not commit to anything during the dinner, but 
informed the Ambassador that they are considering how to deal 
with the case in a way that will help the atmosphere between 
our two countries.  The Ambassador said that given concerns 
by U.S. political leaders over Mr. Quan's case, positive 
actions by the GVN would attract considerable attention. 
¶24. (SBU) For its part, the GVN is asking that the United 
States "tone down the rhetoric" surrounding human rights, 
explaining that this request has come from "the highest 
levels," VFM Bang said.  The Ambassador noted that recent 
arrests hurt Vietnam's image as it takes on a greater role 
internationally.  That being said, he stressed his 
determination to seek a way to work together to prevent this 
issue from overshadowing the visit, noting that amnesty for 
Mr. Binh and positive action on Mr. Quan's case could improve 
the atmosphere and inject additional momentum in preparations 
for the President's visit.  He also suggested that another 
way to demonstrate human rights progress would be through 
cooperative efforts in the area of strengthening rule of law, 
civil society and good governance, as Senator Leahy recently 
proposed to President Triet.  Should the sides reach an 
agreement on this issue, it could be highlighted during the 
President's June visit. 
Other Bilateral Issues 
¶25. (U) The Ambassador lamented that the two sides have still 
not reached an agreement on land for a New Embassy Compound 
in Hanoi.  He continues to hope that the two sides can reach 
agreement before he leaves Vietnam.  Progress on an agreement 
to open new consulates/American Presence Posts could also be 
included, in general terms, in a possible joint statement if 
Vietnam and the United States can reach some agreement on 
this, including an equitable arrangement on consular 
districts.  U.S. parents adopted more than 100 children in 
Vietnam last month, the Ambassador noted, but as this program 
expands, so too are the signs of fraud.  The Ambassador urged 
Vietnam to set a schedule of fees to avoid baby-buying and 
other problems, and added that he intends to raise this with 
Finance Minister Ninh this week.  Noting that our 
relationship is now mature enough, Ambassador Marine 
encouraged the MFA officials to respond to the draft 
Bilateral Work Agreement that the USG presented several 
months ago.  This agreement would clearly benefit both sides, 
he said. 
A/S Hill's Visit 
HANOI 00000898  005 OF 005 
¶26. (SBU) VFM Bang reported that the MFA has been making 
active preparations and is prepared to receive Assistant 
Secretary Hill during his May 23-24 visit to Hanoi.  VFM Bang 
himself will unfortunately be in Seoul during the Assistant 
Secretary's visit; at the same time, VFM Le Cong Phung has to 
travel to Europe and VFM Nguyen Phu Binh will be in Tokyo. 
VFM Vu Dzung is therefore planning to host and meet with A/S 
Hill.  Bang agreed that the Office of Government (OOG) 
Chairman Doan Manh Giao would also be a good interlocutor to 
discuss broad, cross-cutting issues. 

We need more help with Cablegate. Volunteers can help us at the IRC channels.

Cablegate: When Steve Ballmer Met President Bouteflika in Algeria

Posted in Africa, Microsoft at 5:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Abdelaziz Buteflika

Summary: A cable explaining Microsoft’s affairs with the Algerian government

THE FOLLOWING Cablegate cable is from almost 4 years ago and it helps complete this other insulting cable from in Algeria.

DE RUEHAS #1581/01 3030607
R 300607Z OCT 07

E.O. 12958: N/A 
TAGS: ECON [Economic Conditions], EINV [Foreign Investments], ETRD [Foreign Trade], KIPR [Intellectual Property Rights], AG [Algeria] 
¶1. (U) SUMMARY:  Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer paid a brief visit to 
Algeria in a trip touted as an opportunity for Microsoft to help the 
GOA expand Algeria's information and communications technology (ICT) 
sector and enhance its education system.  Ballmer said he was 
inspired by the GOA's commitment to technology development and by 
the potential for market growth in Algeria.  ICT insiders suggested 
that the CEO visited Algeria in an effort to enhance Microsoft's 
government relations, and to signal that its recently reorganized 
business unit is serious about this market.  Meanwhile, firms are 
optimistic about the ICT sector in Algeria, but are skeptical about 
whether Microsoft can effectively expand its software marketing 
here, or expect to make any progress combating piracy.  END 
¶2. (U) In a whirlwind visit on October 3, Ballmer met with President 
Bouteflika and several ministers to discuss the development of the 
technology sector in Algeria, the use of IT start-up companies as a 
means to energize the Algerian economy, and access to computers in 
Algeria's schools.  Ballmer later told a group of Microsoft partner 
firms that the greatest growth potential for the ICT industry lies 
in emerging markets like Algeria, where ICT structures can be 
expanded to tap into significant populations hungry for access to 
Web-based entertainment and educational services.  (Note: 7.3 
percent of the Algerian population has access to the Internet, 
compared to a 0.2 percent penetration rate in 2000, according to 
recent data compiled by the International Telecommunication Union. 
End note.)  Ballmer said that he came to Algeria to evaluate his 
local team's recommendations for expansion, which he will consider 
in early 2008.  He told the industry group that he was "inspired by 
the president's thoughtfulness toward the future," and that he saw 
potential growth across all economic sectors. 
¶3. (SBU) Microsoft recently split its regional marketing division 
and created the Microsoft Algeria business unit.  Because of the 
terrorist activity in Algeria in the 1990s, Microsoft established 
its North African headquarters in Morocco, which local IT 
representatives and former Microsoft employees say the GOA never 
forgave.  Ballmer's visit to Algeria appeared timed to show 
corporate support for the new Algerian unit's government relations 
efforts, and an attempt to relieve past tensions between the GOA and 
--------------------------------------------- ----- 
¶4. (SBU) Industry representatives told Econoff that they were 
optimistic about the near-term future of the ICT sector in Algeria. 
Abdelaziz Ben Aissa, the general manager of a certified Microsoft 
business solutions firm, said that the GOA seems focused on ICT 
issues and opportunities are expanding.  Ben Aissa's firm provides 
support services for Northrop Grumman information systems.  He works 
extensively with the Algerian federal police, with whom he expects 
more contracts to support expanding communications and information 
systems.  Djamal Hadjout, the information services director of an 
Algerian wholesaler representing a number of leading American 
computer periphery brands, said business is generally growing and 
that retailers are finding new customers among both Algerian 
corporate and individual consumers.  He noted that American products 
continue to be associated with quality and prestige but are 
considered expensive. 
¶5. (U) IT representatives were at the same time skeptical that 
Microsoft will be able to raise significantly its stake in the 
Algerian consumer software market or to combat piracy effectively 
because of the relatively high price of its products and the 
continued weakening of Algerians' buying power.  They said that most 
personal computers sold to households are clones assembled in 
Algeria, and that most people buy pirated copies of operating 
systems like Windows and other software applications for as little 
as two dollars.  Further, according to recent news reports, 
electronics represents the second-largest category of goods smuggled 
into Algeria (after cigarettes), and overall customs seizures of 
contraband rose significantly throughout 2007.  Given Algeria's 
rising cost of living and high unemployment rate, the ICT 
representatives saw little hope that Microsoft will be able to 
counter these IPR challenges anytime soon.  Ballmer was asked about 
this dilemma, but gave only a general response about his company's 
ALGIERS 00001581  002 OF 002 
commitment to finding innovative solutions to specific markets and 
his confidence that the GOA will move in a positive direction 
regarding ICT use and development in Algeria. 
¶6. (SBU) COMMENT: Ballmer's visit, along with the recent creation of 
Microsoft Algeria, likely went a long way to meeting Microsoft's 
government relations goals.  Some in the business world interpreted 
President Bouteflika's overt hospitality to a corporate leader as a 
sign that the GOA is serious about its stated intent to build out 
Algeria's ICT sector, improve the country's education system through 
access to technology, and see that every Algerian family has a 
computer at home.  Nonetheless, the challenges of contraband 
hardware and pirated software remain significant as the high cost of 
living continues to influence not only consumer decisions regarding 
brand preference and when to buy, but also the choice between 
licensed, cloned or pirated goods. 

This is the perspective of US diplomats. They ignore all the critics of these affairs, as one might expect (sometimes, as we have shown before using other cables, critics are comped to “conspiracy theorists”).

Links 14/9/2011: CentOS 5.7, Fedora 17 Name

Posted in News Roundup at 2:48 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • 5 Reasons why Microsoft Windows users should definitely avoid Linux

    Last Saturday I got myself an Acer Aspire One netbook (bought it on impulse, really) from a friend who had it gifted to him but said he had no use for it. It came preloaded as usual with Windows 7 and as a nay sayer to that OS, I opted to install the beta release of Ubuntu 11.10 on it.

  • Desktop

    • The “Gleaners” of Paris

      Here I digress. With my found computer I added a bunch more memory, uninstalled Windows, and installed a free Linux system, Ubuntu. The computer is old but works fine and is faster than Windows. It uses fewer resources.

      Ubuntu (http://www.ubuntu.com/) is project started by a South African millionaire to make computing systems more available to everyone and one they can understand. You can download it for free or order CD’s for a symbolic price. Regular updates of programs and the system itself are always free. Once installed, I thought, «OK, now I’m going to have to configure it to connect to internet and make stuff work in general.» But no, it connected to the net automatically and everything in the package worked without changing a thing. The first thing to do is to use its update system because things are always changing.

  • Kernel Space

    • Kernel Log: x32 ABI gets around 64-bit drawbacks

      “x32 ABI” promises to take advantage of the benefits of 64-bit x86 processors without suffering from the overhead in 64-bit operation. At present, maintenance at Kernel.org has slowed down kernel development. Some kernel hackers are demonstrating their sense of humour with a Linux logo reminiscent of Windows 3.1 and a rickrolling kernel module.

    • Let’s not be too hasty.

      In a recent post tech writer Sean Michael Kerner advocated moving the kernel to Github. Here’s why I think the evidence isn’t so clear cut. Note this is my personal opinion, since I’m not a member of the kernel developer community and thus have no real say in the matter.

    • The Evolution of Stupidity: File Systems
  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

  • Distributions

    • Taking a look a Salix

      There seems to be a mad dash lately of bloggers tripping over themselves to write reviews of Bodhi Linux. Jeff Hoogland and his merry band of developers have come out recently with version 1.2.0 and I’ve put it through some paces. Overall, I like it, but rather than yet another Bodhi review getting lost in the shuffle, I thought I’d put that one off for another time.

    • New Releases

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • A bug’s life

        In an ideal world, software bugs get fixed shortly after they are discovered. (Actually, in a really ideal world, there would be no bugs to begin with, but let’s be a bit realistic). You might be led to believe that once a bug has been reported the Mageia packagers will fix the bug, issue a new package, and everyone will live happily ever after.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Introducing Lubuntu Software Center

          The upcoming Lubuntu 11.10 (Oneiric Ocelot) operating system, due for release on October 13th, will introduce a new software center application.

        • Elementary OS Luna To Be Based On Ubuntu 12.04

          Good things come to those who wait – particularly elementary fans willing to wait until April 2012…

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • The Purrrfect Ubuntu 11.10 Login Sound?

            Opinion is split over whether or not the default Ubuntu login sound needs a refresh. Just what could it be replaced with?

          • Ubuntu Weekly Newsletter Issue 232
          • 5 years with Canonical

            This month, I will have been with Canonical for 5 years. It’s been fantastic, but I’ve decided to move on. Next week, I’m going to start working for Google,

          • Ubuntu Certification – What do we test?

            We frequently get asked what do we test on the certification program. While we do have a simple page covering this topic, some times we are asked for further details. We have now updated the certification program guide with a more comprehensive description of the test cases. We review and update if necessary the list of test cases for each release:

          • Ubuntu Team to Cast a Wider Net for Indie Developers

            For some time now, there have been calls for Canonical and the Ubuntu team to find ways to reach out to more useful applications that Ubuntu users can take advantage of. For example, many users lament the fact that applications such as Photoshop are easy for Windows and Mac users to use, while Ubuntu users are boxed out. At the core of this debate is how the Ubuntu team approaches developers, and there are some strong signs that a larger and more diverse community of developers will start to contribute to Ubuntu.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Raspberry Pi warms up

      The volunteers of the Raspberry Pi project have, with the arrival and demonstration of the first alpha “Model B” boards, moved another step closer to their vision of creating an ARM-based, low-cost computer for education. The Raspberry Pi computer now has two models, and the “Model B” board being shown has changed somewhat from its previous appearance, losing the “USB stick” styling in favour of a more traditional rectangular board – the size of a credit card but with lots of space for mounting I/O ports. The board is based around the Broadcom BCM2835, a 700 Mhz “application processor”, and over the last month the developers have been putting it through its paces. First they showed a demo of Quake 3 running on the Pi:

    • Why Be a Pirate? Use Open Source Software Instead

      It’s no secret that I think software patents are a scourge that needs to be gotten rid of, and I’m by no means alone in that opinion. In this era of lawsuits and revenue models based heavily on patent licensing fees (I’m looking at you, Apple, Microsoft and Oracle), the harm they’re doing to innovation is right before our very eyes all the time.

    • Phones

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Best Buy: Android tablet sales ‘better than we expected’

        Best Buy CEO Brian Dunn said that tablet demand was one of the company’s few bright spots in its second quarter and Android devices delivered sales ‘better than we expected.”

      • Acer Honeycomb tablet to ship with 4G, modest price

        AT&T will begin selling the 4G version of its 10.1-inch Iconia Tab Android 3.0 (“Honeycomb”) tablet Sept. 18 for $480 outright, or $330 on contract. The Acer Iconia Tab A501 4G closely follows the typical Honeycomb script, from the Nvidia Tegra 2 processor to the five- and two-megapixel cameras, but it’s significantly cheaper than most of its rivals.

Free Software/Open Source

  • File Servers – The Business Case for High Availability
  • 60 Open Source Replacements for Audio/Video Tools

    Most computer users are spending much more time these days viewing and creating multimedia content. According to comScore, 85.6 percent of online Americans (178 million people) watched video online in June 2011, and they spent an average of 16.8 hours each watching those videos during the month. In addition, Nielsen reports that the number of people watching video on their smartphones and tablets has increased 41 percent since last year.

  • Another reason why I choose free and Open Source software

    A couple of weeks ago, a friend of mine bought a new laptop for his work. He called me and asked me to come over, mainly so he could show that device off. And partly (as it turned out) to once again try to convince me of the wonders and superiority of Windows.

    Shortly after arriving at my friend’s place, he unveiled his new Acer laptop. It’s a nice piece of hardware. They keyboard even has a numeric key pad — something I haven’t seen or used in a while.

    Of course, my friend started his new machine for me. It booted up into Windows 7 Home Premium Edition (whatever the heck that means). I’ve used Windows 7 before and wasn’t really impressed.

  • Events

    • Early bird registrations now open for linux.conf.au 2012
    • Ohio Linux Fest 2011 report.

      Following a truncated workday on Thursday, I quickly packed, threw my stuff in the car, and raced up the road as quickly as torrential rain would safely allow to Reagan National Airport. I took a short flight to Columbus, Ohio, where this weekend the Ohio Linux Fest 2011 was set to go. I got into the hotel around diner time and fortunately I was able to hook up with a variety of folks including Ruth Suehle from opensource.com, Jared Smith, Red Hat mega-architect and superstar Thomas Cameron, and Fedora Docs hackers John McDonough and Zach Oglesby for dinner at Bucca di Beppo. Yum!

    • Software Freedom Day 2011
  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox for Tablets on Nightly

        We, Firefox Mobile front-enders, have been working hard for the last few weeks to get the new Firefox UI for tablets in place for general testing. It has now reached a functional state that is good enough for getting some early feedback. So, how can you help us?

      • Mozilla Takes its Fennec Technology Toward Firefox for Tablets

        All the way back in 2008, we were covering Mozilla’s effort to deliver an innovative mobile browser, dubbed Fennec (Fennec is a small Fox…smaller than a Firefox). The Fennec project has not taken the world by storm since then, but the underlying technology powers a new version of Firefox for tablet devices that could make some waves. This week, a blog post announced that Firefox for Tablets has arrived in Nightly Builds.

      • Community spotlight: Paul Booker, Mozilla contributor

        On opensource.com, community is very important. We want to continue to recognize our community members who contribute in ways other than writing articles–things like rating and commenting, voting in polls, and sharing our collective work on social media. This is the second of our community spotlight posts.

  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • CMS


    • The State Of GCC 4.7.0: Still Months Away

      From Jakub’s message, the trunk code for GCC 4.7 should be done with state one by the end of October, if the same 4.6 schedule roughly follows. He’s called out on various branch maintainers to see if their respective feature work will be ready in time for merging to GCC 4.7 trunk within the next month and a half.

  • Public Services/Government

  • Programming

    • Gedit as a Django IDE for Linux
    • OpenTeacher – learn a new language with Linux
    • Lets face it, windows programmers are smart.

      So what has this to do with windows programmers being smart? Well they have to be and also patient. The current visual studio (yes, small letters again Gary) seems to be a real monstrosity. Not only does it take for ever and a day to start up, it also wants to connect to the internet. Then to open up a “solution” (more like a problem to me :P) it wants to connect to the internet again and takes several more minutes to open. Long enough to make a cup of coffee. The disk space it consumes is massive. In the gigabytes compared to hundreds of megabytes for what I use. But lets put all that aside. The program is started up, the code is loaded and I am about ready to peruse the mind of a fellow programmer.

    • Parallel Programming Crash Course
    • Modularizing Core Features

      Perl 5 project leader Jesse Vincent has made a textual version of his Perl 5.16 and Beyond speech available in prose form: Perl 5.16 and Beyond thread on p5p.

    • Vincent: Perl 5.16 and Beyond


Mobile Patent Wars Merely a Symptom of a Broken Patent System

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 11:29 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Broken home

Summary: An accumulation of the latest articles about the USPTO, its so-called ‘reform’, and the reality of patent aggression and trolls

JUST when the SCO case was coming to its very end, we were seeing a rise in patent attacks on Linux, not just copyright attacks. It was also when Linux became a leader in mobile platforms that the attacks truly soared, just as the attack from SCO started when GNU/Linux had gained rapidly on servers. The timing made sense because if someone claims ‘damages’ and demands royalties, it is reasonable to make sure the return is greater than litigation expenses.

Currently, Apple becomes a bit like SCO, as did Microsoft a few years ago. Apple is not invincible at all as it recently lost its main brand, Steve Jobs. Jay from the 451 Group speaks of lessons of SCO in his latest fine article which the editor summarised as follows:

SCO showed that convoluted contract, IP and other courtroom claims make for long, convoluted courtroom processes. Considering the SCO case in its totality, it seems the more the company relied on legal means to compete or limit other competitors, the further it strayed from users, consumers and its core business.

Yes, that sounds just like Apple and Microsoft. Apple is too busy trying to block the competition, so people can lose sight of Apple’s future products; as for Microsoft, just watch what happened in the mobile arena. Microsoft was too busy filing patents; not much real work got done. Linux leapt ahead in the mean time and it is reported that Android does to Apple in tablets what it already did to it in phones. Fantastic! But we must not lose sight of the constant attacks on mobile Linux.

“But we must not lose sight of the constant attacks on mobile Linux.”Red Hat’s Open Source site features an article by Keith Bergelt and it focuses on the mobile patent wars that affect Linux. There are several platforms affected by this and they include MeeGo and WebOS, both of which were weakened recently. Patents had a little to do with it, based on numerous reports. “RIM Patents Rotating Keyboard Keys” we learn from a new article, so there is clearly quite a maze of patents being created not just by Microsoft’s and Apple’s cartel. It affects not only the United States because some of the patents are design related, not purely software (which is controversial too). The FSFE writes about software patents in Europe this week, deciphering the situation in Germany where Apple has most prominently been attacking Android.

There is an analysis from patent maximalists regarding the ruling that may weaken or eliminate a lot of software patents rather than one at a time (reexamination). To quote the part freely accessible to the public:

August 16, 2011, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) issued its decision in CyberSource Corp. v. Retail Decisions, Inc., affirming patent-ineligibility of a reexamined software patent. The patent-in-dispute, U.S. Patent 6,029,154, is directed to detecting credit card fraud on the Internet and claims 2 and 3 were at issue. The court’s reasoning recognized that software is still patent-eligible after Bilski, but held that the bar has been raised – which has important implications for the software industry.

Well, based on further analysis in the Oracle vs. Google case, even Google has started working towards the weakening of software patents. It’s very important. Quoting Pogson:

Google has moved for summary judgment that using Java APIs is not copyright violation. Oracle has replied. Oracle is trying to persuade the court that APIs are protectable despite much legal precedent as far back as 1879:” the Supreme Court made clear that publication of a book that explains a particular accounting system gives the author no rights under the copyright laws to prevent others from using the system, as long as no protectable expression from the book is copied. Baker v. Selden, 101 U.S. 99 (1879); see also 17 U.S.C. § 102(b) (“In no case does copyright protection . . . extend to any idea, procedure, process, system, method of operation, concept, principle, or discovery, regardless of the form in which it is described, explained, illustrated, or embodied in such work.”). Oracle’s Java language books and API specifications give Oracle no greater rights to prevent implementation by others of the APIs using original code.”

Google is now in a position where the low cost advantage of its main operating system (RHEL, Chrome OS and Goobuntu aside) is in jeopardy. Even CNN has a new article on the subject, stating initially that:

If you feel like you’ve been seeing more news about patents than ever before, you have. In July, a consortium that included Apple, RIM and Microsoft made a move on Nortel’s patent portfolio, outflanking Google. In August, Google hit back by proposing to acquire Motorola Mobility in a $12.5 billion deal, largely for its massive cache of patents. HTC and Apple continue to spar in court over patent infringements. And now, Kodak and InterDigital are being eyed for their intellectual assets. Patent lawsuits in the U.S. rose to 2,833 in 2010, up nearly 25% from a decade earlier, according to IP litigation research firm Lex Machina. The 2011 total will almost certainly be higher.

What exactly is going on? How did a seemingly sleepy subject like patents suddenly become an active fault line in American business?

Adding to this the presence of patent trolls like Acacia, it sure seems like the system has become a mess. According to this new article, this massive troll has just extorted yet another company. To quote:

Newport Beach-based Acacia Research Corp., which licenses patents for companies, reached a settlement and licensing agreement with Salt Lake City-based Internet retailer Overstock.com, the company announced Tuesday.

The agreement resolves litigation that was pending in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Texas.

Jerry Brito, a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, spoke to Tim Lee on the subject of today’s patent ‘reform’. No real reform has yet been implemented, just a bogus one. The article “How Congress Just Failed to Fix America’s Broken Patent System” has just been published in a reputable site which put forth the following idea:

The second thing you need to know is that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has been so neglected for so many years — literally robbed of funds by Congress, which re-appropriated portions of the agency’s budget for other purposes — that the organization tasked with protecting America’s technological and scientific assets labors with too few staff and a “20-year old technology infrastructure that does not even remotely enable it to take advantage of modern information technology.”

Maybe this is why it has granted a monopoly to almost any patent applicant, which aided the patent trolls, helped patent lawyers make more money, and gave the mere illusion that innovation was on the rise. The latest reform does almost nothing to change this, so the mobile patent wars are probably here to stay for a while longer. We predict a growing level of backlash against the USPTO in years to come. It might suffer the same PR problem as the Federal Reserve.

Looking at Law.com, Ben Henrion finds this article titled “Patent Law’s Passage Spurs Flood of New Complaints”. It quotes Chaikovsky as saying: “At least in the short term, there’s going to be a lot more patent litigation. That means litigators will be busy.”

This new Patently-O Blog about “the International Harmonization of Patent Laws” led Henrion to warning about the “Combination of an English respect for precedent with a Germanic desire for consistency and uniformity” as “EPO ‘caselaw”.’ To quote:

International harmonization has always been seen as a major purpose of the Leahy-Smith America Invents Act. Every country has its own patent structure as does the European Patent Office. Ongoing differences between the various countries add substantial transaction costs to the process of obtaining and enforcing patents. Many US companies would like European patents, but the prospect is often cost prohibitive.

Although disputed, most would agree that the Leahy-Smith’s new filing-date focus moves the US closer an international patentability norm. Still, a number of important differences remain between US law and the laws in other major patent centers. As a result, the US law has not been internationally harmonized, but it has been shifted in that direction.

See our post about the ambitions to establish the interpol of patent systems. Microsoft craves it.

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