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10.09.11

Links – Brazil Defies ACTA, Creeping Biometrics Use

Posted in Site News at 4:38 pm by Guest Editorial Team

Reader’s Picks

  • Microsoft Appears to Have Blacklisted Oxford University email

    They once, in lock step with AOL and Yahoo, intentionally blocked Truthout email for political messages they did not like. Between incompetence and malice, no one should use Microsoft email services.

  • Microsoft partner, Lockheed Martin is replaced by IBM at the US National Archive Project, which was late and over budget

    Microsoft is not explicitly mentioned but they brag about customer facing services for the agency and the group Lockheed ran included Microsoft heavy partners like EDS and SAIC.

  • The Steve Jobs who founded Apple as an anarchic company promoting the message of freedom, whose first projects with Stephen Wozniak were pirate boxes and computers with open schematics, would be taken aback by the future that Apple is forging. Today there is no tech company that looks more like the Big Brother from Apple’s iconic 1984 commercial than Apple itself, a testament to how quickly power can corrupt.

    Freedom at Apple was never for users. The corruption visible is simply the logical conclusion of non free software.

    Steve Job’s passing and Bill Gate’s “retirement” mark the end of a damaging lie. Microsoft is run by a buffoon who would otherwise be selling insurance and Apple’s CEO is a businessman responsible for moving Apple’s manufacturing to sweatshops in China. Neither of these companies can parade a heroic founder as emotional justification for their oppressive practices.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Anti-Trust

    • EU Anti-Trust Failure.

      “The Commission considers that there are no competition concerns in this growing market where numerous players, including Google, are present,” the European Commission, the EU’s antitrust agency, said in a statement today, referring to competition concerns for consumers, who make up the bulk of Skype’s customers

      Expect gnu/linux Skype to break soon. This creates a great opportunity for free software like Ekiga. Google+ hangouts are reported to work well but that is only available in binary form so far.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

    • Blocking misfeature of G+

      If you are blocked by someone, you can’t see their posts on your public conversations but everyone else can. A spammer or troll can unblock just long enough to troll a conversation out. Google sends emails for each post but the problem remains. Google has been notified and may be working on a fix. I do not know if other comment exchange sites have the same problem but owners can do the same or worse at any time. Join Diaspora instead.

  • Privacy

    • US companies are using face recognition and fingerprints to control workers.

      Biometrics at Pizza Hut and KFC? How Face Recognition and Digital Fingerprinting Are Creeping Into the U.S. Workplace
      Biometric technology is being used to more closely track low-wage workers, already desperate in a bad economy.

    • German Government Backdoor Spotted

      Chaos Computer Club from Germany has tonight announced that they have located a backdoor trojan used by the German Goverment. The backdoor includes a keylogger that targets certain applications. These applications include Firefox, Skype, MSN Messenger, ICQ and others. The backdoor also contains code intended to take screenshots and record audio, including recording Skype calls.

      It’s not a but, it’s a feature of non free software.

  • Civil Rights

    • Alabama Law Makes It A Felony For Undocumented Immigrants To Have Water At Their Homes

      … if an undocumented immigrant pays their taxes, they will be guilty of a felony, but if they don’t they will also be guilty of a felony because Alabama punishes tax evaders with up to five years in prison. In other words, Alabama’s anti-immigrant law effectively makes it a crime to simply live as an undocumented immigrant in the state.

  • Education Watch

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • ISPs “exaggerate the cost of data”

      Traffic-related costs are a small percentage of the total connectivity revenue, and despite traffic growth, this percentage is expected to stay constant or decline … claims of ballooning costs as a “myth”

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Software Is Mathematics—The Need for Due Diligence

      there seems to be a category of readers who just can’t bring themselves to believe that software could possibly be mathematics. … People who think like this saw the explanation of why software is mathematics as rhetoric in support of a conclusion. They objected to the overall tenor of the article on the basis that in their opinion the very notion that software is mathematics can’t be true. They didn’t dispute the evidence I provide.

    • ACTA

      • Brazil to debate ‘anti-ACTA’ bill, defying US

        key provisions include protection of net neutrality and the privacy and personal data of individuals – directly contrary to the carte blanche given by ACTA for copyright holders to demand traffic logs from ISPs to identify alleged offenders. The legislation also directly addresses the so-called “three strikes” rule advocated by ACTA, which sees internet users’ connections terminated after three warnings for illegal downloading.

Steve Jobs’ Aggressive Legacy and Microsoft Boosters Continue to Haunt Linux Phones

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Oracle at 11:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Android is still under patent artillery and those who are responsible for this are named

MR. Jobs died last week, but the mess he left behind him remains for us to tackle.

Google is under a patent assault from Oracle, Apple, and Microsoft, and well as some of the patent trolls Microsoft uses as proxies. Google’s main product to target is the Linux-powered Android platform. One new article bears a negative but clever headline (“Google’s Troubled Search for Valuable Patents”) and it says that “IPVision, which makes patent-analyzing software, says that the 1,029 patents that Google bought from IBM in July contain little that the company could use to either attack its competitors or defend its own products.” IBM and Google are both in the OIN and they have a shared interest in Linux. The transmission of patents from one to another was quite secretive and little is known about it. It’s actually a two-stage transmission that got noticed twice this year.

According to the following new reports, Jobs’ good friend Larry Ellison carries on suing Android, harassing yet more Android backers. Google will stand up against Apple, so we shall see how it ends.

  • Oracle v. Google – No Reconsideration for Oracle

    Just as quickly as Oracle served up its précis letter [PDF; text] requesting permission to file a motion to reconsider, Judge Alsup has swatted it back across the net with a passing shot [486 (PDF; text)]. Too little (did not show good cause) and too late (not timely). So the limits are set on Oracle’s infringement contentions.

  • Oracle Expert Drags LG, HTC, Motorola Devices; Google Objects

    Oracle has filed another brief to rely on an expert report in ongoing litigation with Google over alleged infringement of copyrighted Java in the Android operating system, the Courthouse News Service reports.

    A report by Oracle expert John Mitchell referred to three devices that Oracle had not initially named: the LG Optimus, the HTC Droid Incredible 2 and the Motoral Atrix.

  • Google joins HTC against Apple

    A significant turn has taken place in the HTC – Apple lawsuit. A slight recap on the same would lead us to the time when Cupertino-based, Apple had filed a lawsuit against popular smartphone manufacturer, HTC. Apple had alleged that HTC, by the way of the Android software used on its smartphones and other devices, had infringed on the patents owned by them. Now, search giant Google, who’s also the name behind the popular Android OS has joined forces with HTC against Apple.

Apple has perhaps innovated “embargo as competition” (although there is plenty of prior art). What a shameful, despicable strategy. If this is what makes Apple “successful”, then we should hope that Apple fails.

In other ‘news’ (fake news), Microsoft booster Matt Rosoff parrots the Microsoft Florian propaganda which characterises Google as an “investor” in the Microsoft patent troll which is attacking itself. Slow ‘news’ day for them, eh? They need to recycle some old FUD because of the Motorola lawsuit. This is just more of the disgusting Microsoft propaganda from Matt Rosoff and Microsoft Florian, whom he quotes for more of those same old lies. We saw that routine before. These people are not even worthy of a tabloid. Well, they could do a lot worse than a tabloid. They could run a pro-Apple Web site (where facts are a fantasy).

With OEM Distortion, Microsoft Need Not Compete

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

Policing the stores to ban competition

Sale sign

Summary: New blog posts about Microsoft’s attempt to boot Linux out of existence by not letting it boot

SEVERAL times before we have written about the UEFI scam perpetrated by Microsoft, noting that Microsoft is trying yet again what it tried several times in the past. It wishes to make it illegal or impractical to run GNU/Linux, which is its #1 competitor. Earlier today we found some interesting blog posts on this subject, which is relevant to this Web site. Here are a couple:

  • Why I failed the Windows 8 Logo Program

    I discovered that one of the requirements to apply for the Windows 8 Logo Program, before I boot up, is to have secure boot enabled by default. I also must carry several sets of keys, all for the sake of prevention. According to MS, if I do not, some malicious thoughts could hijack the boot process and then I would be cast into a zombie state, controlled by some criminal or terrorist. Thus, I might end writing and sending millions of useless postcards…That’s scary, isn’t it?

    So, the basic idea of protection from criminals sounds appealing. Yet, I started asking some questions and found some problematic issues hidden below the surface of the venerable claim of security…

  • Microsoft: Make Linux-Proof Computers, or else

    All of this is to help Microsoft cope with two uncomfortable realities:

    1. After twenty years of trying, Microsoft still seems constitutionally incapable of writing secure software. Other operating systems run securely on standard PCs without any fuss, but Microsoft claims they need special hardware to do this. Perhaps this is because Microsoft has explicitly written many security flaws into their software. (Prediction: UEFI or no, Windows 8 will be compromised. Frequently.)

    2. After twenty years of market domination, Microsoft is starting to lose market share. Even with 95% of the desktop market, billions of dollars in the bank, and manufacturers salivating to do their bidding, users are turning away from Microsoft to safer, cheaper, more reliable alternatives, like Linux, Unix, or Mac. And Microsoft hasn’t been able to win them back with a better product…because they can’t make a better product.

We shall see if Microsoft backtracks and is forced to backtrack.

.NET Does Not Want to Die Just Yet

Posted in Microsoft, Mono at 11:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Man of death

Summary: Monsieur de Icaza and his followers help ensure that .NET does not go away just yet

IN SOME ways, Microsoft is abandoning .NET, which not only pisses off many developers but also causes many other problems.

It was only months ago that Attachmate threw Mono out to the street. There is not much going on at Attachmate (the former vice president at Attachmate Corporation is seen moving now) and after it had laid off Mono developers it hardly was willing to give some so-called 'IP' (eventually it did), which does not mean that it’s okay because Microsoft is the party to approach. The remnants of the Mono team were afloat in Xamarin, which hardly does anything based on the news, with the following exception:

The MonoDevelop team has released version 2.8 of its open source IDE (integrated development environment) for programming in C# and other .NET languages. Other than changes to the source code editor and new functions for project management, MonoDevelop 2.8 mainly provides changes for Mac developers.

Mac, eh? What about GNU/Linux? Well, Mono was never about free platforms, it was about Microsoft .NET.

Thomas Biege Leaves the SUSE Security Team

Posted in Novell, SLES/SLED at 11:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tow hook

Summary: Another notable departure and some context

OVER the past year we have covered several important departures of important people from SUSE, including managers. There is no denying that other than massive cash injections from Microsoft (in the form of Linux tax sharing), there is not much going on at SUSE. Its purpose is now to just be the taxman of Linux, at Microsoft's behest (with Microsoft front ends/sites).

So anyway, based on his blog, Biege is leaving the team:

After 12 years I am leaving the SUSE Security-Team… just to support them! :-)

He seems to be moving on to other things, which is fine. Another SUSE developer who recently left became a university professor.

OpenSUSE Wants Donations, Loses Volunteers Force

Posted in GNU/Linux, OpenSUSE at 11:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Axe in forest

Summary: The Microsoft-led SUSE is axing its community little by little

OpenSUSE is looking for hardware donations, having sought some before, e.g. when there was a server capacity issue. Not much love from the corporate masters at Novell/Attachmate, eh? The OpenSUSE project seems to lack a purpose now, except the attraction of volunteers who test SUSE free of charge, give it more code, and generally donate time and effort to it. Connect OpenSUSE is said to be coming to public awareness [1,2] and one blogger writes on the subject, donating his time to SUSE promotion. “It seems that not many people are aware of Connect openSUSE service, that was created by Boosters team while ago, and consequently they don’t know what they miss,” writes Rajko.

Repositories of OpenSUSE are also being promoted by some volunteers [1, 2, 3] who would be better off helping a distribution not so heavily controlled by Microsoft.

Some people participated in the recent OpenHackWeek [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], which is the seventh of its kind and is also mentioned in Weekly News again, as well as in many videos like the Blip.tv-hosted WebYaST promotion.

Then there is the OpenSUSE Conference of 2011 with all the hype about it (from staff for the most part) and FOSDEM preparations. It is baffling why some people still help this project. Truthfully, as we have shown on numerous occasions recently, more and more people are leaving. The staff stays, but it gets paid for it.

Blog posts about SUSE are rare but they do exist and OpenSUSE News is reduced to just excerpts now (like an accumulation). As the editor puts it along with his peers):

Copyrights of the referenced articles are owned by original authors or copyright owners. If you want to reuse those articles, ask each original copyright owner which
license should be applied. We don’t reprint any Article without a free license, we just introduce it then under the Agreement of the German Copyright Law.

There is this bit of news about m23:

m23 11.3 rocks, because m23 rock 11.3 again consists of a really large version leap. Among the highlights, you will find the added support for openSUSE 11.4, the very much extended client language support, the conversion of the server base to Debian Squeeze 6 and various corrections and bug fixes.

Koudaras Konstantinos mentioned pizza parties and Jos speaks about the Hackweek, stating that “Dirk Müller send [sic] an email to openSUSE-Factory about the status of the openSUSE ARM port. SUSE employees Adrian, Alexander, Dirk and Reinhard had spend their Hackweek revitalizing the initial work by Jan-Simon and Martin by getting openSUSE Factory on ARM to build and work. The current build status on OBS shows that almost 2500 packages are working successfully and the team invites anyone interested to come and help increase that number!”

About a Second Life party for 12.1 (still in beta) we learn that:

Françoise (aka Morgane Marquis) and myself (tigerfoot) organize 3 new parties on SecondLife [4] to welcome and fest our next release openSUSE 12.1, coming around the 11.11.11.

In a few days we’ll take another closer look at Novell. Putting fluff like wallpapers [1, 2] and conferences aside, the bigger issues involve Novell’s patents, legal cases, etc. This does not mean that we can just ignore OpenSUSE, at least not yet.

SUSE is Led by Microsoft

Posted in Microsoft, SLES/SLED at 10:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Click to zoom

SUSE led by Microsoft

Summary: Microsoft is behind the site which sells SUSE support, showing more clearly who is running SUSE’s business

A COUPLE of days ago Ryan noticed the details shown at the top. It helps show the dominant party in the SUSE-Microsoft collaboration, which is an attack on Red Hat, Debian, and other GNU/Linux distributions that turn their back to Microsoft.

This whole sham comes from expandedsupport.com, which seems to be more like a taxing station (toll booth) for enterprise GNU/Linux users. MinceR noted: “I wonder who will fall for this one…”whom to buy support for my GNU/Linux installations? let’s see… the company that’s trying to destroy GNU/Linux, that’s the one!””

Cubezzz replied: “don’t think they are trying to destroy it any more,.. they’re trying to subsume it” (as we warned all along).

Microsoft Software ‘Donations’ Are a Clever Scam

Posted in Deception, GNU/Linux, Marketing, Microsoft at 10:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gifts

Summary: A detailed explanation of what Microsoft is doing at the moment to indoctrinate the young and make this seem commendable

IN OUR page about counterfeiting we help show that Microsoft spreads lock-in while whining about “privacy” or calling it “charity”. This is purely propaganda. Over at the Philippines it seems like Microsoft may have bribed against GNU/Linux again, painting it with the ‘donation’ brush, as usual. The whole approach is known internally (at Microsoft) as “EDGI” and we have a wiki page about that too.

TechDirt takes apart some of the latest Microsoft PR and explains why Microsoft’s so-called ‘giveaways’ are just cheap marketing. To quote parts of it:

This means that of the $949 million dollars “contributed” to nonprofits, $844 million — 88% – was actually software, presumably Microsoft’s, since it’s unlikely it went out and bought it from competitors.

[...]

Now, I’m not suggesting that the people who put up the web page about Microsoft’s contributions to nonprofits were following that definition exactly. But equally, it seems likely that the gist is the same: it’s a kind of rough price that you’d usually find in normal markets selling the products in question. And those prices are almost certainly well above the cost of manufacturing, especially if the software was delivered online, or if multiple installations were permitted.

So the actual cost to Microsoft of that donated software is likely to be only a small fraction of the $844 million “fair market value” cited. This inevitably tempers our admiration for Microsoft’s ten-figure generosity somewhat.

But there’s something else. Microsoft wasn’t just handing out a bunch of any old products: it was giving away mostly Windows and Office, judging by a table showing a breakdown by region. Both of these are well-known for the lock-in effects they produce: once you start installing applications and creating documents with them, it’s quite hard to move to a completely different platform like Apple or GNU/Linux. Most people don’t even try.

So these free copies not only cost Microsoft considerably less than the $844 million figure it used to calculate that near-billion dollar total for its corporate brochure, but it wasn’t really altruistic at all. With hundreds of thousands of copies of Windows being distributed (417,030 were supplied for refurbished computers alone), there is a very high probability that Microsoft will be benefiting financially – and not just in terms of goodwill — from upgrades and follow-on sales for many years to come.

We no longer cover this subject as much as we used to because it has been covered to death. The challenge is explaining to the broad public (which primarily relies on television for information) that a lot of “charity” is in fact the very opposite of it.

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