Links 31/10/2011: Particle Code; hypePhone 4S Battery Problems Spread

Posted in News Roundup at 11:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • My life with a Linux Desktop in the Corporate World…

      When I recently changed jobs I was given the opportunity to build my dream machine and put what ever OS “I thought would be best”. Several of my counterparts were running Linux or dual booting between Linux and Windows. In my new position, I will mainly be supporting the IBM Tivoli family of security products. Most of these applications run on Linux and the ones that don’t, run on Windows in a VM just fine. So I was all set and ready to begin. The first question was which distro?

    • I am soo Tired of the Endless Desktop Flame Wars – Can we Please all Stop This?

      The biggest asset of FLOSS is choices for the user. One of the essential aims of the FSF through the GPL is to grant the user rights that enable them to have choices. The right to modify software enables people to fork and to create different directions. The ensuing competition fosters an environment of innovation. This distinguishes us positively from Apple and Microsoft.

      I have been sitting on the sidelines about this topic for a long time. I remember the discussions about the original license of the Qt libraries (which were and are an iintegral part of the KDE desktop) that led to the commencement of the Gnome project – Interestingly, today some Gnome applications use Mono with its patent problems, while Qt is now licensed with FSF promoted GPL licenses.

    • Multiple OS a challenge

      On the other hand, there are other ways to get access to that program, without necessarily having to shut everything down and rebooting.

      Depending on which is your main operating software, there are software solutions that allow you to access programs from other operating systems from within your current setup.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • ASUS X101-EU17-BK 10.1-Inch Netbook (Black) Review

      The Asus X101-EU17-BK is 10inch netbook that belongs to the Eee PC family. It is powered by an Intel Atom N435 processor and comes with 1GB of DDR3 RAM. Even though it is similar to the other 10inch netbooks in the Eee PC family, its bundled operating system is what sets it apart. The X101-Eu17 runs on the MeeGo OS developed by Intel. It is a Linux based OS that was developed especially for netbooks. Thanks to this, this OS is designed to run fast on the limited resources that netbooks offer. Its user interface is also designed to be easy to work with on the small netbook screens.

    • GNOME Desktop

      • What People Are Saying About GNOME [Part 2]

        A few days ago I shared the first one thousand comments about the GNOME desktop from the 2011 GNOME User Survey. Here’s now the next set of one thousand comments concerning the state of GNOME in the eyes of end-users.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Softpedia Linux Weekly, Issue 171

        · Announced Distro: openSUSE 12.1 RC1
        · Announced Distro: m23 rock 11.4
        · Announced Distro: Chakra GNU/Linux 2011.10.26
        · Announced Distro: CAELinux 2011

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat and Telstra Partner to Bring Enterprise Solutions to the Cloud

        Red Hat, Inc. (NYSE: RHT), the world’s leading provider of open source solutions, today announced that Telstra, Australia’s leading telecommunications and information services company, has extended its partnership with Red Hat to enable expanded choice for enterprise customers in the cloud.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Review: Kubuntu 11.10

          This was supposed to be a review of the new Ubuntu release (Oneiric Ocelot), however the only thing the new Ubuntu did not do to me was jump out kick me in the head. From an incomplete upgrade because I was running Dropbox, a UI that fails miserably in being a useful User Interface (UI) and the going out of its way to trash the whole system while trying to get 2 screens working made me believe that after 2 releases, Unity is still not ready for prime time.

          Instead, I decided to look at Kubuntu, the Ubuntu varient using the KDE desktop. Previous attempts at Kubuntu left me slightly cold. I love KDE, and I liked the KDE3 version, however previous Kubuntu versions lacked the full power of Ubuntu and lacked that polish that I wanted for a operating system.

          Not anymore. If anything, Kubuntu has leaped ahead of the parent distro, with a full and vibrant desktop with all the graphic elements switched on, and having a user interface (UI) that does not actively work against the user.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Linux heads to smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs.

            Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux, will announce at the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Orlando, FL, that they will be taking Ubuntu Linux to smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs.

          • Ubuntu 11.10: Looks Kind of Cool But Who Is It For?

            I decided to try out Ubuntu 11.10 on my Thinkpad T43. It was actually my first time using Unity, although I had used the Ubuntu Netbook Edition on a netbook, and I knew the two had similar UIs. This isn’t going to be a huge, in-depth thing because I don’t see how anyone is going to touch the Ars Technica review of 11.10 (DarkDuck’s Unity vs. GNOME3 review is also quite good).

          • Vodafone Webbook review: cheap and cheerful Ubuntu netbook

            Cellular network operator Vodacom recently launched a netbook, the Vodafone Webbook, that, at R1 499, it hopes will give South Africans an affordable entry into personal computing. TechCentral put the Webbook through its paces.

            The computer, which runs the Ubuntu Linux operating system — specifically Ubuntu 10.04, code-named Lucid Lynx — has a 10-inch LCD screen, 512MB RAM, and 4GB of flash storage.

            It sports an 800MHz Freescale iMX515 processor that is based on the ARM Cortex-A8. It also includes a low-end webcam — centred above the screen — and a built-in microphone for Skype calling.

  • Devices/Embedded

Free Software/Open Source

  • Particle Code Platform May Go Open-Source

    Particle Code, a software platform that allows game/application developers to easily target multiple operating systems and mobile devices, may not only be gaining Linux support but could also become an open-source development platform if there’s sufficient interest.

    Particle Code was acquired a few days back by its competitor, Appcelerator. The acquisition appears to mostly be about picking up the Particle Code engineering talent with their vast experience in making games/applications cross-platform in one pleasant sweep.

  • Juniper Embraces OpenFlow

    The emerging OpenFlow approach to building programmable, scalable networks is continuing to gain traction. The latest vendor to jump into the fray is Juniper Networks with a Software Development Kit (SDK) that enables Juniper users to try out OpenFlow.

  • SaaS

  • Education

    • EDUCAUSE takeaway #2: Open source is alive and well

      I, like about 4 million other people in the mid-Atlantic and Northeast, am sitting here without power. My 4G card just died, but should be able to charge enough off my laptop in the next few minutes to at least post this piece once I finish writing it. The power outage, though inconvenient, is at least forcing me to sit in one place long enough to reflect back on the mid-October EDUCAUSE conference, from which I’ve only had time to give you one takeaway (essentially that learning management systems are everywhere, but Pearson’s new Google Apps-integrated LMS isn’t nearly as big a deal as most of us initially thought).

  • Business

    • Semi-Open Source

      • Open core or dual licensing? The example of MySQL

        It has been suggested that Oracle might be planning to move MySQL away from dual licensing to an open core model. Richard Hillesley takes us through the arguments, and the pros and cons of these different models.

        Projects do not thrive when there are ambivalences and ambiguities around the ownership of the code that makes up the project, as can be seen from the fallout among the various projects that Oracle inherited through its purchase of Sun Microsystems.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Government of Portugal is Cutting Funding to M$

      Until this year, the central government of Portugal has paid for M$’s software licensing for schools. This year that will end and schools will either have to pay out of their own meager budget or choose FLOSS.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Cable Green, director of learning at Creative Commons, on the obviousness of open policies

      Cable Green, director of learning at Creative Commons, gave the final morning’s opening keynote at the 2011 Open Education Conference on the seeming obviousness of open policy as a necessity for education.

      “I’m interested in the policies that prevent us from providing an education to anyone in the world who might want one,” Green said. That worldwide demand for education outpaces our ability to meet it.

    • Open-Source Software Exhibit Models Human Motion

      OpenSim, open-source software that is designed to accurately model human motion, is on display at The Leonardo, a science and technology museum in Salt Lake City. Designed by Scott Delp, PhD, a professor of bioengineering, mechanical engineering, and orthopedic surgery at Stanford University, Palo Alto, Calif, OpenSim was created to help medical professionals and bioengineers study, diagnose, and correct abnormalities in how people move.


  • As iPhone 4S battery suckage spreads, fixes appear

    Ever since the iPhone 4S and iOS 5 were released earlier this month, early adopters have flooded the web with complaints about reduced battery life and overheating handsets. But now a few solutions have emerged from multiple sources – but not from Apple, unfortunately.

    “So… is this going to be considered ‘Battery-gate’ or ‘Suck-gate’?” asked one commenter to Chris Breen’s Macworld article, “Troubleshooting a battery-sucking iPhone 4S”.

  • Canonical: Mobile OEMs are going to love our Linux

    Ubuntu, the free and user-friendly Mac-a-like flavour of Linux, will be targeted at mobile phones, tablets and smart TVs.
    The new OS could chew into Google’s Android market share, although it’s not expected to hit devices until April 2014, Mark Shuttleworth (founder of Ubuntu developer Canonical) said in an interview ahead of a speech at the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Florida.

    After completing the next version of Linux Ubuntu for desktop, Canonical will start to focus on making a mobile Ubuntu, ready to ship by version 14.04 due in April 2014.

  • 9 Incredible Tech-Themed Halloween Costumes
  • Finance

    • Alan Grayson Gets Standing Ovation While Bill Maher Panel Mocks Occupy Wall Street ‘Hippies’

      One would think that the anti-corporatist ideals of the Occupy Wall Street movement would receive some safe harbor on Real Time with Bill Maher, and one would be correct that their ideology gelled entirely with the audience. But before Alan Grayson passionately stood up as a spokesman for their cause, the panel spent a fair amount of time mocking the group ruthlessly, for their “bongo drums,” disorganization, and incoherence.

    • Occupy San Francisco: the teenager who was refused cancer treatment

      As Miran Istina puts it, she has been living on borrowed time since she was 14. Diagnosed with cancer, she was given just months to live after her health insurer refused to provide her with life-saving surgery.

      Now 18, Istina, from the city of Sisters in Oregon, has spent the past three weeks living in a tent at the Occupy San Francisco protest and says she will stay there indefinitely, despite her illness.

IRC Proceedings: October 30th, 2011

Posted in IRC Logs at 4:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz



#techrights log

#boycottnovell log



#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

Enter the IRC channels now

Shocker: Man With First Software Patent Defends Software Patents

Posted in Patents at 4:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Martin Goetz

Summary: Martin Goetz speaks in favour of software patents again, but his arguments are full of holes

PEOPLE who came from Microsoft tend to defend Microsoft (this includes the leadership of Xamarin, whose COO seems to be the only top manager without Microsoft background). Businesses with many software patents (like IBM and Microsoft) tend to promote software patents in Europe. Marty of software patents fame or infamy (depending on whose side one is on) is still a top promoter of software patents. But why does he get so much attention from the press? He is clearly biased because he was the first man to get a patent on software.

“I have been involved in this software controversy for many years,” he writes. “It began when I and my small software company, Applied Data Research, applied for a patent in 1965 for a Sorting System.”

Well, using other people’s knowledge and work. But let’s disregard for a moment the fact that anything he ever created built upon other code. He goes on to saying something which in no way contradicts the fact that software is mathematics and in fact reinforces this fact. For example: “Highly skilled personnel are employed in these companies and many have advanced computer science degrees, including PhDs. And because of their complexity, many programs are written using software engineering disciplines.”

“But let’s disregard for a moment the fact that anything he ever created built upon other code.”Or mathematics? And equations? Seriously, scientific programming is all about formulating rules and applying them in code. Do we want a monopoly on rules that are immutable? “When these programs are inventions,” he claims (whatever “invention” actually means), “patent protection is important to help protect these companies’ investments.”

Utter nonsense. Those companies rely a great deal on using code and knowledge provided by others. How would a company cope financially if it had to ‘license’ each and every pertinent idea it codifies? That article just fails on so many levels and it often demonstrates the author’s arrogance because he thinks that his own ‘invention’ (a sorting algorithm) is so much more sophisticated than the machine and coded framework he ran his program on. Well, the FFII’s president asked us in IRC, “have you seen the article software is hardware?” He quoted this article, adding a ludicrous quote: “It is a fact that software and mental processes are interchangeable, thus mental processes are patentabe” (this is Aptly tagged #wrong).

Calacanis, whom I once worked for in Netscape.com, says he never filed any patents. There are many like him who take pride in it too. Quoting the report:

Jason ‘Mr. Startups’ Calacanis may not do patents, but he has just done an episode of his weekly TV show where he brought in a seasoned patent attorney and a prolific inventor to take us through the latest developments on the US patent scene

Google too was never happy about software patents. It-reluctantly had to buy some for “defensive” purposes and now it also indexes patent applications. To quote the Against Monopoly Web site:

Google has had its own issues with patents. Like much of the rest of the software industry, it avoided filing for them for some years, but competitive patenting has taken over the industry in the drive to gain a monopolistic advantage or prevent others from doing so by establishing a patent pool to force cross licensing. By making it easier to challenge applications and even granted patents, putting them on line should make bad patents rarer. The problem of identifying and proving prior art remains.

A lot of work from 20+ years ago prelates the Web, so proving prior art is not always simple. We need to fill some gaps by online preservation and Google is trying to help. We already lost track of Cablegate, Gates’ history of crimes (he was allegedly arrested at least twice), and ‘old’ Novell (some Comes vs. Microsoft material that we had reproduced before Microsoft buried it is proving to be very helpful). Some of it predates the World Wide Web.

Patents Roundup: Twitter and Amazon, Microsoft and Apple, USPTO and SCOTUS

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Patents at 4:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: A collection of news about software patents and patents in general

THERE is troubling news from the embargo agency known as ITC, which helps one company attack another by means of a sanction. There are some more reports on this which highlight the relevance to software patents, including this one which says:

The ITC affirmed the Chief Administrative Law Judge’s ruling earlier this year that Suprema, Inc. of South Korea and Mentalix, Inc. of Plano, Texas infringe Cross Match’s hardware and software patents, further determining that Suprema actively induced others to infringe one of Cross Match’s patents.

The ITC loves blocking Asian products at the behest of US companies such as Microsoft and Apple. Pressure is applied to them in the same way that US pressure is applied to Cuba. The ‘sin’? Allegedly having similar ideas. How can anybody justify this?

In other news, Twitter, which opposes software patents, is being hit by another patent troll/parasite, just amid complaints from Amazon that it too has become a victim of the patent system:

BOOKSELLER AMAZON has had 11 patent lawsuits filed against it this year, according to a filing with US financial regulators.

The MSBBC covered this too:

Amazon has revealed that 11 companies have filed patent lawsuits against it since the start of the year – more than three times as many as in all of 2010.

From Amazon’s original SEC filing:

Risks have been amplified by the increase in third parties whose sole or primary business is to assert such claims [...] our website technology, including our 1-Click ordering system, infringes a patent obtained by Cordance

Amazon has meanwhile been pushing for software patents in the EU and it is in no real position to complain. It also pays Microsoft for GNU/Linux servers and the Linux-based Kindle. The next Kindle too (based on Android) will allegedly be taxed by Microsoft. Amazon did not even put up a fight. Why is it that the press neglects to mention such stories for background? Amazon is not in a position to whine. Stallman is meanwhile quoted widely as saying that Jobs also made it a personal crusade to attack Android with software patents. It is not far fetched to assume that Larry Ellison did a favour to his “best friend” (by his own words) Steve Jobs by suing Android through Google.

The Wall Street Journal mentions the latest twist and IDG comments on the Oracle vs. Google case, which was delayed, by heckling Google, as one ought to expect. IDG has never been a Google-friendly platform.

Meanwhile, patent lawyers get a platform in the Washington Post and they sort of admit being the parasites coming at the expense of actual work. By one’s own words:

But when patents cannot be understood, are difficult to obtain, or become nearly impossible to enforce, much of the money that would go toward research and development is spent on lawyers. These legal fees drastically increase the barriers to investment for a promising new idea, dulling America’s technological edge. The modern trend of bundling patents into large portfolios for sale on the open market further demonstrates how the patent market currently favors large corporations over the individual entrepreneur.

As a patent attorney, I am constantly meeting hopeful inventors who dream of securing a patent to protect their ideas. They have been told by potential investors that they need a patent before they are willing to invest in their technology. When I explain that a patent will cost upwards of $30,000 and take around five years to obtain, their hopes are dashed. The news only gets worse when I inform them that enforcing a patent is a multi-million dollar proposition. At that point, most simply give up.

Another paper is giving a platform to Microsoft’s FUD against Android and promotion of software patents (there are some parts there about both). To quote the puff piece (Microsoft guest post essentially):

Microsoft attorney outlines Android patent tactics


Those patents (cover) individual features that have been created in a particularly inventive way by Microsoft and that have been recognized by the patent office. It’s now being tested in court. It remains to be seen what courts say; they will be the ultimate arbiter. But we believe they’re solid patents.

Guess who is is playing along? MSN, Microsoft’s fake ‘news’ site. The Microsoft press on Apple’s ridiculous patents that threaten Android is as shallow as one should expect. Compare it to this good piece which complains about a “broken” system:

Apple’s Newly Awarded Patent and a Broken System


The result, in my humble opinion, is that the system is broken for the modern age and in need of an overhaul. Over the last few years I’ve seen patents, which were originally developed as a form of protection for an inventor, become a corrupted version of its original intent. Instead of protection they’re now used primarily as strategy and legal weaponry against competition. And the reason is the pure power behind it – a patent grants exclusive rights on the technology in question for 20 years.

Outside of basic patent trolling, there are a number of examples that can be cited here that illustrate the shambles that our patent system is now plagued with, but it was the most recent one that set me off this week. Just recently Apple, which is a perennial member of the patent lawsuit club, was just awarded patent 8,046,721 (7,657,849 is the same thing just older) by the good ol’ USPTO, entitled “Unlocking a device by performing gestures on an unlock image.” I’m going to let that one sink in for a second and let you read some of that patent I linked before the tirade that’s about to follow, divided cleanly into three (3) parts for your convenience. And before I get to it, let me put a disclaimer out there that I’m not a lawyer, nor do I have any formal legal education or professional experience.

You good? OK.

E.D. Kain asks, “Do Patents Kill Innovation?”

Of course they are killing innovation. Their goal was never innovation. It was documentation. “Patent office strained by time, staffing” reads a new headline from the Nashua Telegraph and one lawyers’ site helps remind us that this problem is systemic because even SCOTUS won’t do what needs to be done:

The Supreme Court’s decision did not invalidate the multitude of business method patents already issued or threaten patent applications still pending. Rather, the court invited the Federal Circuit to consider the appropriate way to evaluate business method patents. Due to the lack of guidance from the courts, the time was perhaps ripe for intervention by Congress.

The patent system is harmful and it helps harm small players in particular. Something must be done about it.

Harming Society One Patent at a Time

Posted in Patents at 3:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Jay Walker
Photo by Steve Jurvetson from Menlo Park, USA

Summary: News about patent trolls and unquestioned glorification of patents

Jay Walker [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] became a patent troll after he had given up on doing real business. The Wall Street Journal once approached us for a comment about Walker, having researched the subject more thoroughly than most other publications. TechDirt too denounces Walker by stating that:

Jay Walker created Priceline. That was a good idea, and he showed that he could execute on that. But since then, apparently the only thing he’s wanted to execute on is destroying his legacy by becoming a full on patent troll, and suing as many big companies as possible. Last year, we noted that Walker claimed he had effectively invented “friending” (Patent: 5,884,27 for “establishing and maintaining user-controlled anonymous communications.”) and sued Facebook. That same article talked about him suing the Powerball lottery (Patent: 7,740,537 on “applying lottery multipliers”).

Sadly enough, this is something which seems to be encouraged by the press. When Microsoft partners get involved and when patent aggressors claim vanity rights (another example is “iRise Awarded Canadian Patent for Its Interactive Software Modeling Technology”) there is hardly an attempt to put it in perspective and explain that the granting of monopolies is bad news for everyone. Do you want to help improve the world? Don’t try, it’s patented, according to this new piece of news. When planet Earth and the strategies for helping it get patented, then it becomes a lot clearer how patents hurt everyone.

The question about patents — especially these days — is a very simple one. Academics have answered it repeatedly. The corporate press still does not seem to get it though. Maybe that’s because ownership of the media has a conflict of interest and reality is a threat to it. The problem is not software patents alone, but software is an area where the usefulness of patents can be easily disproven. The next few posts will tackle the same subject.

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