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03.19.12

Links 19/3/2012: Linux 3.3, Wine 1.5.0

Posted in News Roundup at 11:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Finance

    • NYC Activists Differ on Occupy’s Direction

      A day after police broke up a rally at Manhattan’s Zuccotti Park and arrested dozens, Occupy Wall Street protesters said Sunday that their movement for economic justice would pick up momentum with the spring.

      Activists listed issues including student debt, the environment and the November elections as priorities going forward. But some observers who watched workers hose down the now-barricaded park that was Occupy’s home wondered whether a movement so diffuse could accomplish anything.

    • Goldman Missive Shows Need for Volcker Rule, Democrats Say

      The Goldman Sachs Group Inc. employee who criticized the company’s culture in a newspaper column bolsters the case for Wall Street restrictions like the Volcker rule, congressional Democrats said.

      While the March 14 New York Times opinion piece by former executive director Greg Smith drew no requests for hearings or investigations, lawmakers including Senators Carl Levin of Michigan and Jeff Merkley said the article showed why the U.S. needs tighter restrictions on Wall Street practices. The two Democrats authored the Volcker rule’s ban on proprietary trading and conflicts of

    • Culture of Predation: That Goldman Sachs Exposé Barely Scratches the Surface

      This week people have been buzzing about Goldman Sachs executive Greg Smith’s high-profile resignation from Goldman and his description of the way that company’s ethics and morals have declined over the last decade and more, especially under current CEO Lloyd Blankfein.

      But Smith’s revelations aren’t really news at all, and the moral decline he describes at Goldman has been replicated throughout our corporate culture. Behavior at Wall Street firms like Goldman may have been more overtly criminal, but the shift from respect for the customer to the desire to rip customers off is pervasive and insidious.

      Wall Street has, of course, been the epicenter of this behavior. Years ago it was reported that traders at Morgan Stanley used to get off a phone call and gleefully shout “I ripped his face off!” — about their own clients — after successfully selling them what they knew were garbage investments. The surprise isn’t that Goldman Sachs encourages its employees to mislead clients and put its own interests above theirs — the surprise is that anybody is surprised.

    • Goldman Should Be Barred From Returning More Capital, Bair Says

      Goldman Sachs Group Inc. (GS) should be prohibited from boosting its dividend or repurchasing stock because Federal Reserve stress tests showed the investment bank is too leveraged, according to former regulator Sheila Bair.

      The leverage ratios of four financial firms dropped below 4 percent under the stressed scenario, according to test results the Fed released this week. Two of those firms, Citigroup Inc. (C) and MetLife Inc. (MET), were prohibited from raising dividends or repurchasing shares. The central bank approved the capital plans of two others, Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • US judge rules that you can’t copyright pi

        The mathematical constant pi continues to infinity, but an extraordinary lawsuit that centred on this most beloved string of digits has come to an end. Appropriately, the decision was made on Pi Day.

        On 14 March, which commemorates the constant that begins 3.14, US district court judge Michael H. Simon dismissed a claim of copyright infringement brought by one mathematical musician against another, who had also created music based on the digits of pi.

        “Pi is a non-copyrightable fact, and the transcription of pi to music is a non-copyrightable idea,” Simon wrote in his legal opinion dismissing the case. “The resulting pattern of notes is an expression that merges with the non-copyrightable idea of putting pi to music.”

The Pirate Party of Canada (PPCA): Software Patents Should Die

Posted in America, Patents at 10:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Pirate Party of Canada

Summary: A statement from the president of The Pirate Party of Canada

WE recently wrote about a bill from Canada — one that relates to patents as well. In light of this, we got in contact with the president of The Pirate Party of Canada. He is in our IRC channels at the moment, chatting with fellow Canadians. He told us that “software patents should die.”

Oracle vs. Google Becoming a Lost Cause

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Oracle at 10:27 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Thinkers

Summary: A look at some news about Android, in particular the Oracle vs. Google case

THE MORE time goes on, the more we see Android becoming a front runner for Linux, irrespective of whether it is good or not (e.g. for Linux adoption, software freedom, GNU adoption). Even Ubuntu (GNU/Linux) is trying to latch onto Android now. This is why we need to defend Android from patent lawsuits.

Professor Webbink continues tracking Oracle’s case against Google. To quote:

Google lead counsel, Robert Van Nest, has requested the court’s leave to file a motion for a continuance of the trial to avoid conflicts in his trial schedule. (792 [PDF; Text]) The court has agreed Google can file the motion but told Van Nest not to hold his breath. (794 [PDF; Text])

Van Nest has two conflicting trials. The first is scheduled to end no later than April 20 (four days after the commence of this trial) and the second is to commence on June 29, which is about 10 days after this trial should end. Van Nest has asked, in the alternative, either a delay in the start of this trial to April 30 (which would push the end date of this trial beyond the start of his June 29 trial) or a delay until the September-December time frame Judge Alsup asked the parties to reserve.

The Court has responded that Van Nest can go forward with his motion, but the Court has also made clear the motion is not likely to go anywhere. Apparently Judge Alsup contacted the Texas court, and they have advanced the date of that trial to avoid a conflict. Once that conflict has been avoided, there is not likely to be a conflict on the back end, although Judge Alsup indicates his colleague, Judge Koh, would likely accommodate any spillover by delaying the start of the June 29 trial.

You certainly have to wonder whether this motion was not prompted, at least in part, by a desire by Google to get the reexamination of the ’104 patent to a final action, but that’s just speculation. What is clear is that Mr. Van Nest is going to disappoint his family by having to cancel their scheduled May vacation overseas.

“This trial will be very interesting. Oracle has lost almost all its patent claims and almost all of its copyright claims as I see them. There may be little left to do once the trial starts,” Pogson wrote. Later Groklaw added this bad news for Oracle:

Specifically, the Court has rejected:

* Dr. Cox’ calculation of damages for coyright disgorgement and copyright lost profit set forth in the supplemental report;
* Dr. Leonard’s statement that”[i]t is the value that Google was expecting to receive that matters for the reasonable royalty analysis;” and
* Dr. Leonard’s forward-citation ranking of the ’104 patent.

The press coverage suggests a request from Google for delay:

SOFTWARE DEVELOPER Google has received permission to request a delay in its trial with Oracle over allegations of Java patent and copyright infringement.
Google will request the continuance because its lead counsel’s diary is rather full. In addition the Court has asked Oracle to explain why the Java language is free for anyone to use but using its Java APIs infringes its copyrights.

We are going to keep an eye on this case, but never to the same level of detail as Groklaw. There is a lot of disinformation arriving as well, usually from lobbyists who deceive for profit.

Funnier Than Microsoft’s RDP Catastrophe: Cable With Anti-virus Protection

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

Coaxial cable

Summary: The “virus” frenzy reaches new heights with “anti-virus protection to reduce virus noises”

WE HARDLY WRITE about XBox 360 anymore, primarily because it seems to be irrelevant these days. But this new report we just could not ignore because it gives a whole new meaning to “virus”:

Are noisy computer viruses interfering with your enjoyment of playing games on your Xbox 360?
If so then the Xbox 360 Elite HDMI 180o Swivel Cable from 3rd Earth it just what you need. The product’s marketing pitch claims that it’s a “100% Mylar double shield 1.3c grade cable with anti-virus protection to reduce virus noises and to obtain perfect image transmission”.

Hmm.

Computer viruses making a racket have appeared in the past, so perhaps 3rd Earth has uncovered an untapped market here. For example, an old AntiCad DOS virus played the Blue Danube through your PC speaker, not exactly the sort of soundtrack that should accompany zombie killing in Resident Evil.

As to more serious security news, Microsoft is dealing with a massive hole in RDP — a hole which is probably going to cost the economy dearly. It’s not to relevant to Linux though, except the role in plays in showing the importance of switching to Free (as in better) software.

Android/Linux is Taking Over Tablets

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 9:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pencil

Summary: A look at some of the latest news about Android in the tablets market

THE NEWS suggests that “Android Tablets Gain Market, Apple Loses” and we are not surprised. We usually put such news in our daily links. This is why Apple is suing. Its paid-for 'fans' are keeping the illusion of high demand while photos from the British press suggest that reality is vastly different these days:

Braying hordes of fanbois hungry for new iPads failed to turn up outside Blighty’s Apple stores today despite months of rumour, hype and speculation. Although slab shoppers were nonchalant in London, they were positively wet in Scotland.

A queue of hundreds swiftly ebbed away outside the fruity tech titan’s Regent Street outlet, allowing at least one punter who rocked up at 9am to grab the improved fondleslab five minutes later.

The line was much more muted than previous iPad launches during which unlucky fans were turned away empty-handed.

Well, the same thing that happened in phones* will happen in tablets in due course, provided the patent assaults fail. Tablets in general are gaining traction at the expense of other form factors, so this is an important battle. Linux is taking over tablets despite challenges from the desktop duopoly:

At this point, there’s no denying that Linux — despite high hopes early-on — is a late-entry to the world of tablets. But that doesn’t mean open-source enthusiasts have written off this segment of the hardware market. On the contrary, a number of initiatives to make Linux a viable choice for tablet users are in rapid development. Read on for a look.

In a lot of ways, Linux’s relationship with tablets is comparable to the open-source ecosystem’s experience with netbooks several years ago. When netbook hardware first began hitting the market in droves, Linux seemed like the perfect companion: It was inexpensive, highly customizable and well suited to new devices where users started out with fewer preconceptions than on traditional PCs.

A comparison is then made to sub-notebooks, where Microsoft used anti-competitive dumping to suppress competition (at loss at itself). This won’t work in tablets because Android is already very mature and well established in the market. Patents are a bigger issue right now as some Android tablets are being unfairly taxed by Microsoft. Some might say “illegally” and not “unfairly” because racketeering is not legal.
___
* In the past two days two friends approached me with Android phones which they had begun using. I assured them that it was better than “iPhone”, except the brand.

Software Patents Slammed; Microsoft Brought Up in Lodsys Case

Posted in Microsoft, Patents at 9:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Lecture

Summary: Some patent news and a special surprise from Microsoft

THE SIMPLE fact is that “Most Innovations in Most Fields Are Not Patented,” says this new post from the Against Monopoly Web site, linking to this page which says “AEI held a session on patents and patent reform building off Launching the Innovation Renaissance. I opened and Judge Paul Michel, Chief Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (retired), James DeLong of the Convergence Law Institute and Michael Abramowicz of George Washington University School of Law all offered comments.”

Simon Phipps, writing in an article from InfoWorld, explains why software patents are evil:

No programmer I’ve ever met refers to software patents, for two reasons. First, they aren’t written for programmers to learn from — they’re written for patent lawyers to sue against. You’ll find software patent filings contain no sample code and few technical descriptions. When I worked at IBM, I asked a patent lawyer at the company what was needed to file a patent. I was told “a rough idea — we can fill in the details for you — and then all the ways you can think of by which we could tell if someone else is using that idea.”

Over at Groklaw, more Microsoft-Lodsys connections are shown, in addition to the Intellectual Ventures connections that we know about. Pamela Jones writes about this software patents case:

Well, well, what have we here? Yet another Lodsys case, a new one. Same stupid patents, same M.O., though. But here’s a new element, the latest target, Ryonet, filed its complaint for declaratory judgment [PDF] in Washington State, on March 8, and here’s why Ryonet thinks that’s the right place:

18. Plaintiff is informed and believes and on that basis alleges that, Lodsys agents and/or employees executives have made numerous trips to the State of Washington related to the Asserted Patents, and for licensing negotiations with Washington based companies including Microsoft Corporation, Smilebox, Inc. and Photobucket Corporation (formally Photobucket, Inc.) among others, and potentially Intellectual Ventures.

19. Plaintiff is informed and believes and on that basis alleges that Lodsys has engaged in, and continues to engage in, substantial licensing and other relationship, contracts, and financing in the State of Washington and with residents of the State of Washington.

20. Plaintiff is informed and believes and on that basis alleges that Lodsys conducts business and engages in contracts and other substantive contact in the State of Washington, and by such extensive conduct, resides in the State of Washington.

Are there any hideous patent lawsuits any more where Microsoft isn’t in the shadows somewhere? Ever since the SCO saga began, that’s where I look first, personally. It was Microsoft which entered into a licensing arrangement with SCO if you recall, for copyrights and patents, paying millions which enabled SCO to sue the world and its dog, despite SCO having no UNIX patents or any copyrights either, as it turned out. Talk about your easy money, or your lack of due diligence, or maybe a nonchalance because it was never about copyrights or patents in the first place. So, if Microsoft turns out to be a licensee, when did it license from Lodsys, I can’t help but wonder?

Microsoft works in mysterious ways. Often enough it also works by proxy.

Vista 8: Slammed Already

Posted in Vista 8, Windows at 8:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Outlet centre

Summary: Signs that Windows is losing its monopoly

  • Is “8″ Another Vista?
  • If Windows 7 “Simplifies” the PC, What Does Windows 8 Do to It?

    On the day that Windows 7 was generally released in October 2009, Microsoft announced that it was “simplifying” the PC. It was a long awaited, much appreciated response to nearly three years of wrestling with the sea of sloth that was Windows Vista.

    My review of Windows 7 was both notorious and, even in hindsight, correct. I called it “Vista without the crap.” For that review, I ran a scientific test which produced this real-world calculation: Windows 7 expedited the Web browsing process for folks who use Web apps and browsers for their full-time work (like myself) by three-and-one-half minutes per hour. That’s 385 hours of productivity regained per year, which is enough time for my company Ingenus to produce one book and rake in a nice heap of cash. I suggested to Microsoft that it use the following slogan: “Use Windows 7, Get Six Weeks of Your Life Back.”

  • Windows 8 Survey: Half Who Have Tried the OS Wouldn’t Recommend It
  • TOS – That Other OS
  • Windows Update – Endless Buffoonery

    I booted Windows 7 Stupor Edition on my Samsung NF310 this morning, and I am sure that I have not done that since sometime before the latest “Patch Tuesday”, so I figured that I would install the patches while I had the chance. I went to Windows Update, Check for Updates, and after a huge amount of thrashing about, it came back and informed me that my system was up to date. That is obviously incorrect, which didn’t surprise me much coming from Microsoft, so I just told it to go check again. Even more thrashing about this time, for a much longer time, and while it was struggling with that I happened to notice the icon for Windows update in the system tray. I moved the mouse to that, and it informed me that Windows was downloading updates, 81% complete… Well, at least it found them this time. I thought. But then even Windows Update managed to surprise me, which is quite a feat considering how low my opinion of it is… After quite a bit more time, the “Check for Updates” that I had started for the second time finally came back and informed me that my system was up to date!

Vista 8 won’t be a success.

IRC Proceedings: March 18th, 2012

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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