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09.15.11

Links 15/9/2011: Linux 3.1 RC6, X Server Newsfest

Posted in News Roundup at 8:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • ‘Bossie’ Awards Crown FOSS’ Best of Breed
  • Events

    • Q/A: Contributing To Open-Source Projects
    • Software Freedom Day, Team Christchurch

      This Saturday is Software Freedom Day – a global celebration of free and open-source software and the international community that supports it.

      The Mozilla Firefox and Google Chrome internet browsers, the OpenOffice.org productivity suite, and GNU/Linux operating systems are all examples of free/open software that many people use efficiently every day. This combination of personal and business computer tools runs virus-free, saving time and raising both user productivity and technical experience. They thus form first-rate educational tools, and without licensing costs.

  • Web Browsers

  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Oracle v. Google – Oracle’s MSJ Opposition on Copyright – Some Interesting Nuggets

      When we did our earlier article on Oracle’s opposition to Google’s motion for summary judgment on the copyright issue, we didn’t provide the Roman Swopes declaration [343, PDF] in text or its associated exhibits because most of those exhibits had been heavily redacted. Now the exhibits have been made available unredacted, and they contain some very interesting nuggets of information taken from the depositions and documents of various individuals at Google.

      What is interesting about these nuggets is that they actually support Google’s theory and evidence the continuing lack of understanding of the relationship of copyright to software on the part of Oracle (or at least on the part of legal counsel representing Oracle) and the continued distortion of actions by Google.

  • CMS

    • Site builders: Drupal vs. Joomla vs. WordPress

      Building a website has never been easier. Gone — mostly — are the days of having to hand-code HTML and PHP scripts in order to get a slick, fully functional website, thanks to the capabilities of content management systems that do most or all of the heavy lifting for site creators.

      There are boatloads of content management systems (CMSs) for serious site creators, but the most common for websites today are three open-source tools: Joomla, Drupal and WordPress. Actually, to call them “tools” is an understatement — these are full-fledged platforms, with tens of thousands of add-on tools created by very active developer communities.

  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

    • French Prime Minister encourages greater use of open formats

      The government announcement makes the point that there are also economic gains to be made from a more transparent approach to government data, noting that the opening of public data helps to develop the digital economy and to support innovation, growth and employment. It adds that web entrepreneurs and researchers will be encouraged to develop new uses for public data.

  • Licensing

    • How NOT to Push a New Open Source License, Part 1

      Bruce Perens wrote several times that he had to check with the lawyers to see what the various terms of his open source covenant really mean. If this license is so complicated that he doesn’t understand it, shouldn’t it be fixed? And why would he be publicly advocating others use a license he doesn’t fully understand? This doesn’t inspire confidence.

    • Why make a new open source software license? MPL 2.0 (part 3)

      In my previous posts, I discussed the new features of the MPL and the new compatibility between MPL and other licenses. In this final post, I’ll summarize a few other small details about the new MPL that may be of interest to opensource.com readers.

  • Programming

    • Mesa Compiler Stacks, A Hard Dependency On LLVM

      Tom Stellard, the former Google Summer of Code student who worked on R300 GLSL improvements and a new register allocator, is now working for AMD and his work is focused on bringing up open-source OpenCL / GPGPU support in the Radeon Linux driver.

    • Gedit as a Django IDE for Linux
    • Covenant for contributors has real promise

      Open source developers continue to struggle with how they can work with commercial entities and still keep some measure of control over their code, and vice versa. But a recent plan crafted by an open source software pioneer may offer another option to solve this conundrum.

      The issue of contributing to open source projects maintained by commercial companies is not some sort of incongruity between open source software licenses and for-profit business interests, as many FUD-sters would have you believe. It’s not the licenses that are the problem, but rather the copyright: who owns the code?

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • Blackberry would close UK service in unrest if ordered

      BlackBerry said on Thursday it would close down its hugely popular messenger service in Britain if ordered to at times of civil unrest, after police singled out the system as a key tool used in last month’s riots.

    • Google’s IBM Patents Feast: Good or Bad?

      Nicholas George planned to brush up on his Arabic vocabulary during a flight in August from Philadelphia to California, where he was to start his senior year at Pomona College. So he carried some Arabic-English flashcards in his pocket to study on the plane.

    • Cameron, Sarkozy meet with Libyan rebels

      British Prime Minister David Cameron has sent a strong message to Moammar Gadhafi and his followers still waging war in Libya to “give up” the fight, warning that NATO’s mission will continue “as long as it is necessary” to protect Libyans.

      Cameron spoke at a press conference alongside French President Nicolas Sarkozy on Thursday — the first world leaders to travel to Libya since revolutionary forces seized the capital and ousted Gadhafi. Both countries led international support for the rebellion.

  • Cablegate

    • Moyo loses sleep over Wikileaks

      Zanu PF politiburo member Jonathan Moyo has presented the party with a “golden opportunity” to discuss the emotive succession issue and those quoted in the WikiLeaks diplomatic cables should stick to their guns and tell President Robert Mugabe to go, analysts said yesterday.

    • Nigeria: The Rage and the Fever of Wikileaks

      The fever that is raging in Nigeria today is “wikileaks”. Yet as entertaining as these secret communications are, the truth is that if you believe everything that you read in Julian Assange’s “leaks” then you will believe anything. I say this based on my own personal experiences. So far I have been fingered twice by them and in both cases I can assure you that the stories were fabrications. They simply never happened.

    • WikiLeaks fever grips Harare

      The story exploded last week with many political and economic heavyweights were alleged to have leaked sensitive information to US Ambassador Charles Ray.

  • Finance

    • UBS Blames $2 Billion Loss on Rogue Trader
    • Rogue trader suspected in $2 billion loss at UBS

      One man armed with only a computer terminal humbled a venerable banking institution yet again. This time it was Swiss powerhouse UBS, which said Thursday that it had lost roughly $2 billion because of a renegade trader.

      The arrest of 31-year-old equities trader Kweku Adoboli in London is one more headache for troubled international banks, and fresh proof that they remain vulnerable to untracked trading that can produce mind-boggling losses.

    • John Mack Stepping Down as Chairman of Morgan Stanley
    • Questions and answers about the crisis in Greece

      Its economy is smaller than that of many U.S. states. It’s better known for olive oil and souvlaki than high finance. It last strode global affairs 2,400 years ago, when men wore togas.

      Yet everyone is suddenly worried about Greece.

    • Deficit panel senses ‘historic’ moment

      Ignoring calls for their talks to be out in the open, members of the new deficit-cutting supercommittee went behind closed doors Thursday to begin their first bargaining that could reshape federal spending and programs for years to come.

    • The Lehman Brother Anniversary Bailout!

      Although this could be looked at as awful news — more economies and banks in such dire straights as to need yet another central bank bailout, moral hazard notwithstanding — the kneejerk response was relief. Dax is up 4%, US futures flipped positive, Dow now up 100.

      The key question is the another QE2, or a failed European TARP?

    • Lagarde calls for unified action to fight Europe crisis and backs Obama job-growth plan

      The head of the International Monetary Fund called Thursday for bold and collective action to combat a slowing global economy and a worsening European debt crisis.

      IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde also said she welcomed President Barack Obama’s U.S. job-creation plan in light of the unemployment crisis in the United States.

    • Study: Privatizing government doesn’t actually save money

      The theory that the federal government should outsource its operations to private firms usually rests on a simple premise: It saves money. But why should we believe it saves money? Often the argument is made by pointing to salaries for public- and private-sector employees in comparable jobs and noting that the private-sector employees make less. So outsourcing the task to the private worker should be cheaper, right? That’s the theory, at least. But a new study from the Project on Government Oversight suggests that this theory is quite wrong. In many cases, privatizing government turns out to be far more costly.

    • Number of poor hit record 46 million in 2010

      The U.S. poverty rate hit its highest level since 1993 last year with a record 46 million Americans living below the poverty line, according to a government report on Tuesday that depicted the grim effects of stubbornly high unemployment.

  • Privacy

    • Exclusive: Ziff Davis Offering Money To Sites To Secretly Track Users

      Technology publisher Ziff Davis is offering money to tech sites to secretly track their users, Medacity has learned exclusively.

    • U.S. border deal could compromise Canadian privacy: report

      The anticipated trade and security agreement with the United States carries no guarantee of a reduction of red tape at the border for Canadian business and is more likely to violate national privacy laws, a new report suggests.

    • The Government Might Know You’re Reading This

      “If you’re not doing anything wrong, you have nothing to worry about.”

      Many Americans have said this, or heard it, when discussing the expanded surveillance capabilities the government has claimed since 9/11. But it turns out you should be concerned. Just ask peace activists in Pittsburgh, anti-death penalty activists in Maryland, Ron Paul supporters in Missouri, an anarchist in Texas, groups on both sides of the abortion debate in Wisconsin, Muslim-Americans and many others who pose no threat to their communities. Some of them were labeled as terrorists in state and federal databases or placed on terror watch-lists, impeding their travel, misleading investigators and putting these innocent Americans at risk.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Canadian Police Issue File-Sharing Scam Letters Fraud Warning

        Canadian authorities are warning Internet users to be vigilant following the emergence of a file-sharing settlement scam operation. West Vancouver police, who have now issued an official fraud warning, say that seniors have been receiving letters claiming they have been caught downloading a range of porn titles. Unsurprisingly, the letters come with an offer to settle for thousands of dollars.

Cablegate: Microsoft’s “Relationship With the Government” and Pressure for Countries to Adopt Intellectual Monopolies Using Shame Lists

Posted in America, Cablegate, Microsoft at 6:03 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cablegate

Street lamp

Summary: A collection of almost a dozen cables showing how sanctions and lists of shame are being used to help plant seeds for Microsoft et al. all around the world

TODAY we are going to go through a lot of material and summarise everything of relevance upfront. We will start with Turkey's sanction siege, which was intended to make it more West-esque so as to benefit multinationals (mostly US-based companies). Turkey is not alone and today we’ll deal with 4 countries as examples of interest from all around the world.

Turkey is being put on shame lists, where laws need to be changed n order to get the country off those lists. Think along the lines of sex offenders list, terrorists watchlist, “wanted” mug shots at the police station, server/IP blacklist, etc.

In the first cable, under ¶7, Turkey is mentioned in relation to the BSA. To quote:

As noted in ref A points, the GOT requires that all software
used on government computers be licensed. However, Turkey’s chapter
of BSA has heard anecdotally that the estimated piracy rate on
government computers is approximately 50 percent. They emphasized
to us, however, that they believe that the government is acting in
good faith and trying to eliminate pirated software use by
government officials. Comment: The head of the Turkey office of a
major U.S. software producer told us that he doubts the utility of
such proclamations in relatively more-developed countries like
Turkey and agreed that the Government is working to reduce internal
piracy. He also said that an agreement had more symbolic than
practical value, given that there is no centralized point for
government software procurement. In 2006, Microsoft CEO Bill Gates
visited Turkey and announced his plans to support a techno-park in
Istanbul and invest more in Turkey, which he characterized as a
regional technological base. Microsoft and other companies, like
Cisco, have close cooperative relationships with the government of
Turkey.

Later on we find examples from Serbia and Montenegro, staring with a cable in which ¶11 says:

On February 1, 2006, Montenegrin Prime Minister Milo
Djukanovic together with Bill Gates signed a three-year
contract, providing software licenses to Montenegrin
educational and scientific institutions. In September 2005,
the GoM and Microsoft concluded a USD 2.36 million contract,
creating a strategic partnership between the GoM and
Microsoft for legalization of all the Microsoft software
being used by state institutions. By mid-March, Microsoft
and local governments in Montenegro will have completed the
licensing of software used by the municipalities.

In the next cable, under ¶5 which has the heading “Microsoft Engages in Montenegro”, it says:

(U) Microsoft is working with the GoM and with private
business to increase the use of licensed software in
Montenegro. After meeting with PM Djukanovic, Bill Gates
announced Microsoft would provide software on favorable
terms to Montenegro’s educational and scientific sector. In
the private sector, Microsoft will team with NGO Montenegro
Business Alliance to educate business about intellectual
property rights.

The Business Alliance is Microsoft’s thug. Microsoft uses it to distance itself from enforcement (imprisonment, fining, etc.) and bad PR.

Moving on to a cable from Indonesia , in ¶7 we find that

On January 13, the Ministry of Information and
Communications Technology and Microsoft signed an MOU on
legalizing all GOI Microsoft software. President Yudhoyono,
on his own initiative, personally led the effort to sign the
MOU, following his 2005 meeting with Microsoft Chairman Bill
Gates. It is estimated that 90 percent of GOI computers use
pirated versions of Microsoft operating systems and
software.

Bill Gates sure gets around, does he not?

Another Cablegate cable, this one also about the “SPECIAL 301 INITIATIVE RESPONSE,” comes from Slovakia and in ¶9 it says:

According to industry experts, software piracy has
noticeably decreased in Slovakia. Microsoft’s Bill Gates
said during his visit to the country in January 2004, “We
have registered a decline in software piracy in Slovakia.”
Based on the Microsoft’s Enterprise Agreement with the GOS
signed in 2002, all copyrights of Microsoft software being
used in the state administration have been purchased by
Slovak authorities for a total of USD 13 million
(representing a 65 percent discount on the regular price).
In 2001, a similar agreement was signed between Microsoft
and the Slovak Chamber of Physicians and in 2004, Slovakia
joined Microsoft’s worldwide project “Partners in
education.”

Got to love Mr. Gates and his ‘charity’, changing laws around the world, for power and profit. Here are the cables in question. From Turkey:

Read the rest of this entry »

Cablegate: Brazil’s “Anti-American Ideology”

Posted in America, Cablegate, Microsoft, Open XML at 5:32 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cablegate

James Monroe

Summary: The largest population in America is characterised as having an anti-American government

Wikipedia describes the Monroe Doctrine as follows: “The Monroe Doctrine is a policy of the United States introduced on December 2, 1823. It stated that further efforts by European countries to colonize land or interfere with states in the Americas would be viewed as acts of aggression requiring U.S. intervention (however, the wording referred to the entire Western Hemisphere, which actually includes much of Europe and Africa). The doctrine was introduced by President Monroe when he was enraged at the actions being executed around him.[1] The Monroe Doctrine asserted that the Americas were not to be further colonized by European countries but that the United States would neither interfere with existing European colonies nor meddle in the internal concerns of European countries. The Doctrine was issued at a time when many Latin American countries were on the verge of becoming independent from the Spanish Empire. The United States, reflecting concerns raised by Great Britain, ultimately hoped to avoid having any European power take over Spain’s colonies.”

In due time, the American nation came to be almost synonymous with the United States, whose citizens were also referred to as “Americans”. This popularised the perception that to be American is to inherit rules exclusively from the US. This has not been an exceptionally popular idea in South America and we still see colonialist corporations like Microsoft labelling some South American countries as "anti-American" when it suits them (e.g. when they reject OOXML as in this case). Yes, Microsoft has been trying to characterise ODF, which is backed almost exclusively by large US-based businesses, as a matter of “anti-Americanism”. We covered cables about that. Today we expand on this by showing the ethanol push inside Brazil. American billionaires drive some of that controversial idea (turning food into fuel) and we loved the end of the first cable, which quotes economic columnist Alberto Tamer as saying that “the future for agribusiness and Brazil is near. We must know how to act and not make mistakes again, as we have always done – especially under this government obstinate in its anti-American ideology.”

What’s with this phrase? Is this a code word for “against imperialist multinational”? Banana Republic anyone? These slurs that Microsoft uses to daemonise Microsoft sceptics/critics are reminiscent of the “Free software” as “communism” insult, which we found in some other Cablegate cables. In any case, here is what we have today:

Read the rest of this entry »

Cablegate: Government Site in Egypt Launched by Bill Gates

Posted in Africa, Bill Gates, Cablegate, Microsoft at 4:58 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cablegate

Summary: A good demonstration of how Microsoft and Gates manage to manage governments by proxy

According to the following Cablegate cable, the Ministry of Investment (MOI) in Egypt is not quite working on its own. “On behalf of MOI,” says ¶6, “Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates launched a website, www.investment.gov.eg in January 2005, to serve as Egypt’s investment portal.”

Since when does Bill govern Egypt or run its economy? There is a lot of other interesting stuff in the cables below, but it is probably of most interest to Egyptians who wish to understand how Mubarak’s regime has harmed them by giving control to imperialists who export weapons (at taxpayers’ expense).

Read the rest of this entry »

Google’s IBM Patents Feast: Good or Bad?

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Patents at 11:31 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Brutal nature of patents

Brutal beauty

Summary: The upsides, downsides and the nature of Google’s defensive strategy which now includes more patent aggregation

WE seem to lack consensus on the subject of Google’s newly-acquired patents. We’ll therefore present a diversity of angles which are potentially contradictory.

Bloomberg‘s report on Google’s latest ‘purchase’ of IBM patents (just reassignment) states:

Google Inc. (GOOG) bought 1,023 patents from International Business Machines Corp. (IBM) as the Internet search and advertising company bolsters its strategy of defending against smartphone lawsuits.

Transfers recorded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s website yesterday show Google acquired the patents Aug. 17. Jim Prosser, a spokesman for the Mountain View, California- based company, confirmed the transaction today without providing details or financial terms. Chris Andrews, a spokesman for Armonk, New York-based IBM, declined to comment.

Secrecy. Got to love that, eh? So what does that whole thing mean. We discussed this in IRC throughout the morning and afternoon. Google will does not indemnify other Linux-based platforms and its move helps legitimise software patents. Those are probably the main drawbacks. Google also makes it harder to portray itself as a poor victim.

As a little bit of new background consider this news article:

In July, a consortium led by Microsoft, Apple and wireless industry players such as Research in Motion paid $4.5 billion for 6,000 patents from the now liquidated networking company Nortel. Last month, Google purchased Motorola Mobility for $12.5 billion, in part to gain access to the company’s 17,000 patents. And Eastman Kodak, a company struggling to navigate the digital era, has multiple parties bidding to buy its patent portfolio.

Oh, no. Not another one. The costs are being passed to customers.

“These two seem to have a little coverage of what the specific patents were,” writes to us a reader. He provides links to this article:

The patents cover a wide range of topics from server architecture to wireless devices. Bill Slawski of SEO by the Sea has taken a look at the patents involved and picked out a few that stood out to him. The ones that will probably be of most interest to Google are the ones related to cellular and mobile devices:

* Coordination Of Cellular Telephones In A Residential Area To Obviate Need For Wired Residential Service
* Method And System For Efficient And Reliable Mac-Layer Multicast Wireless Transmissions
* System And Method Of Making Location Updating Management On A Mobile Station, Mobile Station And Mobile Network
* Telephone Information Service System

Here is another article our reader recommends (there are many articles out there, some more useful and informative than others).

Just before 8 AM (GMT) Chips B. Malroy noted that “they bought another 1000+ patents from IBM…”

After I had expressed scepticism he said: “you [are] correct that software patents should be abolished [...] but maybe even Google does not have the pull with the US gov to do that [...] so in the meantime they buy patents [...]I lost the link, but in another story Apple asked to delay their lawsuit against Motorola [...] since they claim that since Google bought Motorola, that Motorola has no standing legally…”

“Perhaps Google exspensive plan to buy all these patents is starting to pay off in court for them and others using Androiders [...] The question is when MS will lose its gravy train of taxing (extorting) android OEM’s in court. [...] Maybe Google does not have to indemmify others, as long as they help them and show up in court, give a few patents like they have in the HTC case with Apple…”

“I am thinking that the days of MS and Apple trolling Android OEM’s is coming to an end.”
      –Chips B. Malroy
Another person in IRC noted: “That’s what MS doest — tax OEMs.”

“I am thinking that the days of MS and Apple trolling Android OEM’s is coming to an end,” noted Malroy,

“It would take large action on the part of Google for the harassment of Android sellers to end,” remarked another anonymous person.

Malroy shared the link to the report about Apple stepping away. Is this working? Is Google’s strategy effective after all?

“It’s not the best solution for Google Android or FOSS,” stressed Malroy. “But with the way the US gov is these days, maybe its the best thing short term, as there is just too much money for our politicians to be made here from the lobbyists to keep the patent system” (a point with which i personally agree).

“Patents are out of control and hinder innovation,” writes Air VPN. This is probably something that everyone can agree with.

Xbox 360 Cloud Edition: Microsoft Probed Over Office 360 Failures

Posted in Marketing, Microsoft at 11:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Advertising violations

Strip poster

Summary: Repeated periods of downtime lead to concerns of false advertising and subsequent complaints

XBOX 360 became well known for the many class action lawsuits. It was a very defective product.

Now we see that that ASA, which we mentioned many times before [1, 2], is getting involved in the Office 365 (minus downtime) false advertising, right after another major downtime.

From The Register:

The Advertising Standards Agency (ASA) is checking out a complaint about claims from Microsoft that it can guarantee 99.9 per cent uptime on its cloud services.

The Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS) has been prone to outages. And even its successor, Office 365, has gone down twice since its launch in late June, leading some customers to dub it “Office 364″.

On its promotional material, Redmond says of Office 365: “You can count on Microsoft, an industry leader in productivity, for reliability. Microsoft provides a financially-backed 99.9 per cent uptime guarantee.”

The ASA confirmed to The Reg it was “investigating” a complaint over “marketing communication on Microsoft’s website”.

One reader has told us that some journalists may have been bribed to blame DNS and potentially save Microsoft billions. Their articles can be used by Microsoft lawyers as a cover-up. How despicable if true.

IRC Proceedings: September 14th, 2011

Posted in IRC Logs at 11:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

Enter the IRC channels now

Xamarin and Microsoft

Posted in Microsoft, Mono at 10:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Remnant of the Microsoft/Novell marriage

Summary: Another clueful reminder of who Xamarin associates itself with

WE are always amused to see how Miguel and his Xamarin minions no longer see the need to hide their ties with Microsoft. Miguel’s Microsoft MVP award aside, just watch where they present. “Continuing our tradition of getting together with Mono users at Microsoft conferences,” Miguel reassures us. Well, we appreciate the reminder.

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