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06.27.12

Links 27/6/2012: Google Tablet, CyanogenMod 7.2 & 9 RC1

Posted in News Roundup at 5:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Mule update is data friendly
  • Occupy Diaspora

    The first and last time I visited Diaspora was back in 2010, when the social destination was still in it’s Alpha release. Although it had a reputation, as alpha releases do, of being buggy, I was surprised at how well it worked. It was impressive, a lot like Facebook but also quite different in its design. The problem was, there was nobody there. It was like entering an eighteen story highrise apartment building in which all the tenents had been evicted, hollow and filled with virtual echoes. So I ran back to the noise of the crowd on the virtual party that is Facebook.

  • Scilab: An Interview with Sylvestre Ledru
  • Wikimedia presents new visual editor prototype

    The Wikimedia Foundation has announced the launch of a new prototype of its open source Visual editor. The non-profit organisation behind the Wikipedia online encyclopedia says that the new editing environment should make it easier for users to contribute to its projects.

  • Top Open Source Medical Billing and EMR Software

    As the open source community continues to grow and thrive through the popularity of such enterprise ready platforms as Red Hat, the number of open source medical applications also grows with it. The truth is, medical software is expensive. Most health care providers – doctors, hospitals, dentists, independent clinics – have been under a lot of pressure to maintain or reduce run costs while at the same time continuing to provide the quality patient care and customer service expected of the medical care industry. In an effort to control these costs, many health care organizations are looking toward open source software to help them manage their complex billing and electronic medical records. This is an especially hot topic with the United States government mandating that health care providers move from a paper based system to a primary electronic medical record system over the next two years, complete with short term financial incentives in the form of government refunds for early compliance and hefty fines for late adopters.

  • Web Browsers

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • CMS

    • Joomla Is Looking For Your Help

      Joomla! is one of the world’s most widely used content management software (CMS) that powers millions of websites. A new version of Joomla! 3 is scheduled to get released next September and they are looking for your help in the launch.

  • Project Releases

  • Public Services/Government

    • Four Big Battles for EU Openness Happening Now

      Something seems to be going on in the European Union. Over the next few weeks a range of really important debates and votes are taking place, all connected with openness in some way. Quite why everything is happening at once is not entirely clear – unless politicians are trying to get everything out of the way before their summer hols, perhaps….

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Beats rock Brazil

      Last week, #RioPlusSocial was one of the top trending global topics on Twitter. Part of the United Nations conference on sustainable development (called Rio+20), Rio+Social welcomed throngs of activists, politicians, moguls, and artists to Brazil, to discuss solutions for a growing list of global problems. Sponsored by the United Nations Foundation and several partners, the conference featured lectures and roundtable discussions with icons such as Nobel laureate Muhammad Yunus, the first woman President of Ireland Mary Robinson, billionaires Ted Turner and Richard Branson, and innovators such as Alnoor Ladha, a founding partner of Purpose, and Mashable founder Pete Cashmore.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Adobe launches an open source and web standards portal

      Adobe has decided that it should do more to promote the range of web standards and open source projects that it is involved in and to that end it has now opened “Adobe & HTML” at html.adobe.com. The web site covers web standards, open source projects and the tools and services that Adobe offers in relation to those standards and projects.

    • Adobe details its open source code editor for web developers
    • Game developer: HTML5 not yet ready for mainstream use

      Social games provider Wooga has released its HTML5 game Magic Land Island as an open source project called Pocket Island. The company started developing the game in 2011, when the emerging standard was gaining more and more momentum; the project was intended to highlight the capabilities of HTML5 as an alternative to Flash-based applications. The game was released in October 2011, and now Wooga has drawn its first conclusions about the viability of HTML5 for game development.

Leftovers

  • The Top-10 tech demo flops

    It was indeed a special moment. Surface, Microsoft’s attempt to transform itself into a major hardware tablet vendor, in front of a hand-picked group of journalists and, eventually, millions of people around the world thanks to YouTube, and then… “Whoops!”

  • Microsoft: We tried to use Azure ourselves last year, and couldn’t
  • Hardware

  • Security

    • Update for Windows Update has teething troubles

      Microsoft has released an unscheduled, non-patch day update for Windows to update the Windows Update function itself. However, according to reports from readers, the Windows Update Agent update does not always run smoothly; The H’s associates at heise Security also ran into problems on their test systems.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Former Federal Judge Calls US Prosecution Of Megaupload ‘Really Outrageous’

        To hear folks in Hollywood talk about it, the US’s indictment and prosecution of Megaupload are a done deal. Without any actual trial, people have decided that the company is clearly 100% evil and guilty. Yet, as we keep noting, the details of the indictment and prosecution keep turning up significant errors on the part of the US, as well as questions about the legality of what the US did. And plenty of people who really understand this stuff deeply are speaking out in agreement. The latest is a former federal judge, Abraham David Sofaer, who found the whole situation so troubling that he’s helping the EFF — for free — with its efforts to get Megaupload users’ data back.

      • ACTA

        • Winning BIG on ACTA and Beyond!

          This Wednesday July 4th, the European Parliament will have an opportunity to reject ACTA as a whole, in plenary, and destroy it forever. After four years of citizens’ hard work, such a rejection would create a tremendous political symbol of global scale. La Quadrature du Net calls on all citizens to contact Members of the EU Parliament to urge them to reject ACTA, and beyond, to start a process to positively reform copyright law. A strong victory would set the ground for future reforms.

New Evidence Arrives to Support Patent System Overhaul While EFF Pressures Congress

Posted in EFF, Patents at 10:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Boston University seal

Summary: A new study from Boston helps show that the patent system is flawed, just as the EFF argues

THE EFF managed to get a discussion about the patent system going. Red Hat’s Open Source site summarises some of the key points that the EFF has been passing around the Web:

A new website—defendinnovation.org—neatly summarizes the EFF’s position on software patents as well as the organization’s proposed changes to the current patent system:

1. A patent covering software should be shorter: no more than five years from the application date.
2. If the patent is invalid or there’s no infringement, the trolls should have to pay the legal fees.
3. Patent applications should be required to provide an example of running software code for each claim in the patent.
4. Infringers should avoid liability if they independently arrive at the patented invention.
5. Patents and licenses should be public right away. Patent owners should be required to keep their public records up-to-date.
6. The law should limit damanges so that a patent owner can’t collect millions if the patent represented only a tiny fraction of a defendent’s product.
7. Congress should commission a study and hold hearings to examine whether software patents actually benefit our economy at all.

Boston University has meanwhile released another one of its studies [1, 2, 3] about the patent system in the US. The BBC covered it:

The direct cost of actions taken by so-called “patent trolls” totalled $29bn (£18.5bn) in the US in 2011, according to a study by Boston University.

It analysed the effect of intellectual rights claims made by organisations that own and license patents without producing related goods of their own.

Such bodies say they help spur on innovation by ensuring inventors are compensated for their creations.

With more scholarly work in the area we’ll be better equipped to change the system for the better, led by influential groups like the EFF. Quoting The H:

Further information about the EFF’s new patent reform project and details of each of the proposals can be found on the official Defend Innovation web site. On the site, users can also add their signatures and comments to a white paper that will be taken to the US Congress.

They actually take this up with politicians. This is a productive route. This needs to be done before software patents spread to the EU, like a lot of the policies that the US exports over time to the whole world (e.g. DMCA). Glyn Moody warns:

Once the Unitary Patent comes in, EPO patents will automatically be valid in all countries that have joined the scheme (Italy and Spain haven’t.) The question then becomes: so where can the EPO’s patents be challenged? In an excellent article on the Unitary Patent, Richard Stallman provides us with the answer:

“A small but crucial detail in the [Unitary Patent] plan is that appeals against the EPO’s decisions would be decided based on the EPO’s own rules. The EPO could thus tie European business and computer users in knots to its heart’s content.”

As we’ve seen, the EPO has already been granting software patents (tens of thousands of them according to Stallman) despite the European Parliament decision not to accept them; currently, those patents can be contested in national courts. But come the Unitary Patent, it won’t be possible to do that; instead, the validity of the EPO patents will be decided according to the EPO’s rules. It’s easy to see that this will lead to a flood of software patents being validated across Europe, bringing with them the insane, destructive lawsuits that are currently tearing the US computer world to pieces. Needless to say, the knock-on effects for open source would be terrible if that happened.

We’ll catch up with this next month.

Microsoft Dies in Hardware

Posted in Finance, Hardware, Microsoft at 10:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hardware circuits

Summary: Just like on the Web, Microsoft bleeds in the hardware sector and the business is not sustainable

MICROSOFT’S debt cannot be too encouraging to the management. The company’s endless hardware failures are consistent at Microsoft, so the cash cows (Office and Windows) are all that’s left to support the rest. The company has lost billions on Xbox and it still bleeds money there:

Microsoft’s entertainment and devices division, which includes its Xbox business, lost $229 million (£143m) in the three months ending March 31 after sales of Xbox 360 fell by almost half.

The division’s revenue was down 16.5 per cent, to $1.6 billion (£1bn). Xbox 360 sales during the quarter totalled 1.4 million – a drop of more than 48 per cent from this time last year, when 2.7 million consoles were sold and the division’s revenue rose 60 per cent.

As a Nokia expert puts it,”Windows combined market share globally of Windows Mobile and Windows Phone was down to .. 1.3%” (no surprise there).

That cannot be possibly be sustainable and Microsoft cannot catch up with the leaders:

Was Microsoft’s Surface tablet an act of desperation? Yes, says a report in the New York Times.

Microsoft and the PC hardware industry were failing miserably at taking on Apple’s iPad, forcing Redmond’s hand, according to the report.

The company’s gangster CEO is running out of time.

Microsoft Found Guilty of Abuses Against Competition, Thanks in Part to FSFE Involvement

Posted in Antitrust, Courtroom, Europe, Microsoft at 10:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Georg Greve

Original: Georg C.F. Greve, FSFE Founder

Summary: Microsoft is ruled guilty and is forced to pay around a billion dollars in fines for anti-competitive behaviour

THOSE who say that Microsoft is a reformed company and mostly a scapegoat may wish to read the latest reports on Microsoft antitrust. From the MSBBC for example (with known pro-Microsoft bias and ex-Microsoft executives):

Europe’s second highest court has upheld a competition ruling against Microsoft saying it “essentially upholds the Commission’s decision”.

Reuters spins it as “EU court cuts Microsoft antitrust fine slightly” (that’s not the major angle of the news) and after Novell sold out we are happy to see the FSFE making the following remarks:

Second, FSFE was a public interest organisation who couldn’t be bought off. The case began with many companies giving testimony of Microsoft’s breaches of antitrust regulation, but one-by-one these companies made deals with Microsoft and withdrew from the case. FSFE and SIIA were the only two organisations that pursued this case from start to finish. We were later joined by ECIS, who did extraordinary work, but there were moments when it got lonely for the Commission.

Microsoft cannot starve the FSFE like it apparently tried to starve the FSF. A news report is finally published about this:

The Free Software Foundation’s executive director John Sullivan has publicly complained that Microsoft’s reputation database is listing the Foundation’s donate.fsf.org as a gambling site. The Foundation was alerted by a Reddit posting where a user was unable to access the site from his place of work.

The FSF is probably the body we can rely on the most. It is targeted by Microsoft indirectly most of the time, e.g. attacks on the General Public License (GPL).

The aforementioned articles help show that companies like Canonical ought to complain rather than collaborate with crooks. “So pursuing anti-trust may be necessary,” writes iophk, “but in the short term it is no help in solving any of the problems. The solutions will have to come from other means. Only 8 years…”

Answers to Microsoft’s UEFI Plot Summarised, More Pretence That Microsoft is ‘Open’

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, OpenSUSE, Red Hat, Ubuntu at 9:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Ed Bott
Context

Summary: Microsoft’s attack on booting freedom/openness has drawn different workarounds from different players; Microsoft continues bombarding the press with propaganda

THE UEFI debate has quieted down somewhat since the news from GNU/Linux distributors. The resultant controversy was enough for Microsoft to gain from, putting aside the effect on antitrust and GPLv3 (with software patents provisions), as we outlined quite recently. As The H put it, Canonical and Red Hat [1, 2, 3, 4] announced their plans and The Inquirer wrote:

Following Red Hat’s Fedora project announcing its plans to ensure that its Linux distribution will not fall afoul of Microsoft’s UEFI Secure Boot mechanism, Canonical has detailed how it plans on working with Microsoft’s ‘security feature’. The company will dispense with Grub 2, a Linux bootloader that it put significant work into, and modify Intel’s efilinux bootloader to add a menu interface.

Microsoft has managed to marginalise the GPLv3 using this devious scheme that helps security in no apparent way. As IDG noted, OpenSUSE, which is struggling internally, has not done anything yet:

Now that the Fedora Project and Canonical have proposed their own plans for their respective Fedora and Ubuntu distributions to work with the upcoming Secure Boot provisions in Windows 8-certified machines, it’s natural to wonder what openSUSE will be doing about the issue.

The answer for now seems to be unclear, and the reason may be one of openSUSE’s greatest strengths may be working against it.

Debian sidles with the FSF on UEFI protest and other distributions have said almost nothing on the subject. It was just the Linux Foundation, Canonical and Red Hat which said they would respond to it a few months ago.

Speaking of OpenSUSE, there are more delays as attendance or submissions might be slow to arrive:

New Deadline for openSUSE Summit papers to coincide with SUSECon’s Call for Papers, and more information about the Summit has been released

OpenSUSE is no longer a leading distribution, so we expect not so many people to get involved. SUSE and Microsoft are competing against free Linux and Red Hat, using Microsoft Linux (aka SUSE) as bait, taxing the competition as a whole and standardising this outrageous practice. Watch what Microsoft says about SUSE in the following new piece:

When we speak about partnering with the open source ecosystem, we mean to work a way forward. When we come to competing, we continue to compete with our open source competitors, says Mandar Naik, director, platform strategy, Microsoft India.

The piece if titled “Here Is Why Microsoft Is Warming Up To Open Source!” but it’s really about the Microsoft-funded SUSE and Microsoft Ganging Up Against (Gratis) Open Source. This fluff/puff piece is hard to read with a straight face, but the target audience is probably gullible people who could not care less about FOSS. It’s just a propaganda placement, portraying an abuser as a friend just like Bill Gates has been doing with a lot of puff pieces. As we shall show in the next post, Microsoft’s abuses are clear for some regulators to see.

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