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07.23.12

Links 23/7/2012: Linux 3.5, Rupert Murdoch Out

Posted in News Roundup at 11:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Smart meter hack framework goes open-source

    Security outfit SecureState’s smart meter hacking framework, Termineter, has gone live over at Google Code.

    The software is described as having a structure like Metasploit, with a similar interface and ability to be extended with external modules.

  • Open Source For Me But Not For Thee

    Open source is the best way to build and maintain big software projects. The more heads and hands you have on a project, over time, the more bullet-proof it can get.

    Trouble is, everyone wants the maximum benefits from open source but few people want to put in the work for someone else’s project. That’s why VMware (VMW) went through its recent reorganization, promising to separate its open source cloud projects from its proprietary virtualization.

    Open source is often the flag that’s flown after failure. When IBM (IBM) failed in operating systems two decades ago, it slowly began embracing Linux, eventually unifying its whole product line under the open source operating system. The results were spectacular.

  • Four insights to selling and marketing open source software

    In the last 15 years of my career I have worked at several open source software companies, each with its own unique approach to software delivery, packaging, branding, and sales. Two things have become clear to me:

    1. There is no single best way to build a successful business around an open source software solution
    2. Success depends on an organization’s commitment to building real-world solutions and its readiness to deliver genuinely valuable services that help customers to be successful with the solutions.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox 15 Beta Tackles Memory Leaks

        Mozilla has released a beta version of the next version of its Firefox browser with better memory management and significant speed improvements.

      • Mozilla Releases Test Version of Firefox OS

        Mozilla this week released an early desktop version of Firefox OS that will let developers experience the mobile OS before comes to phones.

        The builds are available for Mac, Windows, and Linux.

      • Firefox 15 reduces memory consumption

        In the beta version of Firefox 15, the Mozilla developers have implemented a “radical idea” to force add-ons to release memory allocated to them. According to the developers, many add-ons are causing memory leaks by not releasing their DOM structures when a tab is closed. This creates what the developers call zombie compartments – areas of memory that are never released.

  • SaaS

  • CMS

  • Education

    • Open source default choice for some Czech schools

      Schools in the Czech cities of Šumperk and Hradec Králové have been using open source for years, the Czech open source news magazine LinuxExpres reports.

    • BBC: A New ICT Curriculum

      I rejoiced when the Western Canadian Provinces got together and revised the maths curriculum to use computers and calculators in teaching. I had been using computers in that role for 25 years but most teachers had never done it. They took two years of “professional development” to indoctrinate the teachers. The UK has given the teachers just months for radical change. I predict “uneven” results…

      In ICT courses in Canada I have always been giving students the basics. I stretched “how to sit at a PC and turn it on” into disassembly/reassembly of ATX PCs with nomenclature and on-line shopping for parts… Instead of teaching them how to use M$’s office suite, I gave students a list of tasks to do with five different office suites and asked them to compare ease and performance. Instead of teaching students 300 features of Excel TM, I gave them real-world problems that could be solved several ways with spreadsheets and computer programming and had them learn the kinds of things that were better done with different methods. I exposed students to several spreadsheets and, yes, paper and pencil… Instead of limiting students to one PC with one hard drive, I showed them what they could do with thin clients, servers and clusters of servers, databases and web applications…

  • BSD

    • FreeNAS 8.2 is Released!

      The FreeNAS development team is pleased to announce the immediate availability of FreeNAS 8.2.0-RELEASE.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • ARMv8 AArch64 Support For GCC Keeps Coming

      Support for AArch64, the ARMv8 64-bit architecture, continues to move along within the GCC compiler world.

      Besides the recently published AArch64 support for the Linux kernel, developers with ARM Holdings have also been tackling the compiler support and other areas of the Linux toolchain.

  • Public Services/Government

  • Programming

    • Finding Bottlenecks In Your Linux Game, Application

      If you are curious how Valve and Intel improved the OpenGL performance of their Mesa driver and also at the same time finding areas for performance optimizations within the Source Engine, here’s some of the tools used.

      The tools that seem to be predominantly used, based upon what Intel’s Ian Romanick wrote in a blog comment and from what I’ve learned in email communications and while at Valve, are Sysprof and APITrace.

  • Standards/Consortia

Leftovers

  • Cotton brings doom to tribal farmers

    Desperation seems to have caught up with the normally imperturbable tribal farmers of Adilabad which is evident from the abnormally large number of suicides by them since 2011. As many as 27 of them, all cotton farmers including a woman, from the aboriginal Gond, Naikpod, Mannepu and the Lambada plains tribe, figure in the list of 101 cotton farmers who have committed suicide since January 2011.

    Giving up life, for whatever reason, was hitherto an unknown phenomenon in the primitive tribal communities which, paradoxically, have deprivation for a way of life. The gamut of Bt cotton, however, has dislocated their way of dealing with failures and like the trend in other communities, tribals are increasingly preferring the ‘easy way’ out.

    In 2010, only one Gond cotton farmer had committed suicide owing to debts. There was a drastic increase in the extent of land under cotton cultivation and the incidence of suicides in the agency in the following year.

  • Hardware

    • AMD could unveil low power tablet chips in August

      AMD isn’t expected to bring its new low power processors aimed at tablets to market until 2013. But according to Hexus, AMD will show off the first chips with its new low power “Jaguar” cores at the Hot Chips Symposium on August 28th.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

    • U.S. Drug War Expands to Africa, a Newer Hub for Cartels

      In a significant expansion of the war on drugs, the United States has begun training an elite unit of counternarcotics police in Ghana and planning similar units in Nigeria and Kenya as part of an effort to combat the Latin American cartels that are increasingly using Africa to smuggle cocaine into Europe.

  • Finance

    • Cities: Be Like Oakland and Walk Away from Interest Swap Payments to Goldman and Bankers!

      The city of Oakland, California, is fighting back against Goldman Sachs by refusing to pay a penalty for getting out of an interest rate swap contract that is to Goldman’s advantage.

      Isn’t that a hoot? Anyway, turns out that Goldman and the city of Oakland entered into a deal to protect variable interest rate bonds issued by the city in 1997. Oakland was given a fixed rate of under 6 percent to protect against inflation on those bonds.

    • £13tn: hoard hidden from taxman by global elite

      A global super-rich elite has exploited gaps in cross-border tax rules to hide an extraordinary £13 trillion ($21tn) of wealth offshore – as much as the American and Japanese GDPs put together – according to research commissioned by the campaign group Tax Justice Network.

      James Henry, former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey and an expert on tax havens, has compiled the most detailed estimates yet of the size of the offshore economy in a new report, The Price of Offshore Revisited, released exclusively to the Observer.

    • Goldman CEO on Dodd-Frank: ‘The vast bulk of it is good.’

      At the heart of Obama’s reelection narrative is the story that he battled the Big Bad Banks, mostly by passing regulation, and now those banks are retaliating by lining up behind deregulator Mitt Romney.

    • California’s Employment Picture

      Total employment in California pulled back in June from a recovery high of 16.5 million, set in May. This data series has been volatile, with annual revisions each year that have shifted the trough in total employment between early 2009 and early 2010. For now, the low was set in November of 2009, at 15.93 million. While “recovery” seems the right word to use in describing California’s job market, it is still the case that unemployment is hanging at 10.7%, per the most recent data. That’s the third highest state rate, in the country. Worse, as of Q1, California’s “U-6″, the broad measure of unemployment, was still above 20%. | see: California Employment in Millions (seasonally adjusted) 2000-2012.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

The Skype Interception Campaign

Posted in Microsoft at 4:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The impact of surveillance state

Peeking

Summary: The “Skype is Spy” campaign is started following clearer evidence that this software is a worldwide surveillance tool

OUR WIKI has this new page about Skype. It is becoming an important subject as the network effect Skype has enjoyed can be intercepted with Google Talk, SIP, Viber, etc. Skype shows how proprietary programs directly affect people’s liberties, usually by just taking them away and leaving no way around these civil liberties declinations. Things got a lot worse when Microsoft, a US-based convicted monopolist, took over.

Even a site formerly owned by Microsoft is concerned about Skype:

New surveillance laws being proposed in countries from the United States to Australia would force makers of online chat software to build in backdoors for wiretapping. For years, the popular video chat service Skype has resisted taking part in online surveillance—but that may have changed. And if it has, Skype’s not telling.

Historically, Skype has been a major barrier to law enforcement agencies. Using strong encryption and complex peer-to-peer network connections, Skype was considered by most to be virtually impossible to intercept. Police forces in Germany complained in 2007 that they couldn’t spy on Skype calls and even hired a company to develop covert Trojans to record suspects’ chats. At around the same time, Skype happily went on record saying that it could not conduct wiretaps because of its “peer-to-peer architecture and encryption techniques.”

Now that Microsoft owns Skype and the NSA has nearly unlimited powers to access all this data one must assume that wiretapping is part of the package with Skype, or “Spype”.

Microsoft Uses Proprietary Formats to Impede and Derail Government Migrations to Free Software

Posted in Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Novell, Office Suites, Open XML, OpenDocument at 4:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Printing

Summary: Migration difficulties consistently point to problems with Microsoft’s format abuses

WE recently explained how SUSE, part of the now-defunct Novell, is promoting OOXML in government. Rather than embrace ODF, some governments find themselves reliant on Microsoft-funded SUSE programmers who were legally required to push OOXML. And here is the outcome:

Local, national and European governmental dependencies on proprietary software continue to hinder municipalities that try to get rid of vendor lock-in by switching to open source. Recent examples include the municipal governments of Freiburg in Germany, Miskolcs in Hungary and Schoten in Belgium.

ODF has no such issues; our guess is, Microsoft occupied the competition to the point where ODF advocacy got demoralised and rather scarce. The problem is not Free/open source office suites; the problem is proprietary Microsoft formats that corruption such as bribery has defended.

Analysing the FOSS World Based on Companies of Former Microsoft Staff

Posted in Free/Libre Software at 3:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The worth of data bias

Investments

Summary: Data for analysis about the FOSS world comes from ex-Microsoft staff, including marketing staff

BY CONTROLLING the data in a study, one can affect the outcome and the accompanying summary/conclusions.

The following couple of reports may wrongly be seen as a good move and “openness”:

  • Ohloh.net opens data for community use

    Ever since analysts and industry observers started using Ohloh.net data to perform deep-dive studies on various aspects of the free and open source software community, people have been wanting to get their hands on Ohloh’s data.

Here is the second report. It all seems innocent and benign until one realises that Ohloh [1, 2, 3] and Black Duck are both companies which former Microsoft employees created. They merged, too. They are disproportionately filled with Windows/Microsoft/C# projects and also have an alliance or partnership with Microsoft (since 3 years ago). Expect misguided and biased conclusions.

Those who control the data can control public perception.

“Mind Control: To control mental output you have to control mental input. Take control of the channels by which developers receive information, then they can only think about the things you tell them. Thus, you control mindshare!”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Microsoft Turns to Propaganda

Posted in Deception, Microsoft at 3:40 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Propaganda

Summary: Microsoft hires another spinner in an age of losses and criminal behaviour that necessitates good PR (to avert prosecution)

MICROSOFT is hardly a technology company. It just knows how to knock off technology companies, drive them out of business, and then distort the market and push into it products which it merely acquired. On top of that, Microsoft has become an extortion company which collects patents and starves competitors by means of racketeering and litigation. On top of these despicable activities Microsoft must run a marketing and PR arm, so it hires journalists to engage in mass deception and increasingly reminds us of Bill Gates’ propaganda machine, which operates on a budget of around a million dollars per day (just rigging the press, not allocating funds to anything of substance). It’s all about deceiving the public while continuing with a rogue agenda that would otherwise make everyone furious.

“It’s all about deceiving the public while continuing with a rogue agenda that would otherwise make everyone furious.”Gates has been collaborating with Clinton and also sharing the speech writers [1, 2, 3], who help the propaganda campaign. It is a form of celebrity endorsement, for profit of course.

One of our contributors told us about a “[n]ew spinmeister to cover up bad engineers and pathetic managers.” He links to this article which says:

Political operative Mark Penn helped Bill and Hillary Clinton; Tony Blair; and Bill Gates. Can he do as much to help Microsoft?

It is all about spin and Microsoft needs more and more of that. MinceR said that “apparently he is indeed stupid enough to work for Microsoft,” to which another person replied: “Only the stupid and/or greedy don’t know any better.” He already provided services to two famous criminals (one is a war criminal).

Recently, Microsoft spinners deceived when Microsoft had announced losses (links to examples omitted intentionally), making it seem as though Microsoft just had record profits (it suffered a loss). Microsoft’s MSNBC called it “first quarterly loss ever” even though it is not true, as we explained before [1 2, 3] (Microsoft uses accounting tricks). An internal confession has just been released from a former insider, who reckons that Microsoft is quite doomed:

For me, watching Microsoft for the past 5 years has been a lot like getting on a train, immediately getting off at the next stop, only to watch it explode 5 minutes later. You see, I was a high school intern there back in the summer of 2008, right before my senior year of high school. What I witnessed there I will never forget for the rest of my life, and continue to consider it the gold standard of how to not run a software development company. I live 10 minutes from Microsoft HQ in Redmond, Washington, and ever since I learned how to program I thought I wanted to work there. Until I actually did.

]..]

After graduating high school and just barely being accepted into the UW by some cosmic stroke of luck, I once again applied to the internship program. I halfheartedly requested to be put in something having to do with DirectX or graphics or high-performance computing, but when I stepped into the interview, I was told I’d be working in the Office division. Despite managing to figure out their retarded brain-teaser question which had absolutely nothing to do with how well I coded, I couldn’t bring myself to care. Was this incredibly boring, well-paying job what I really wanted?

I lost the position to a close friend, and that was the end of my Microsoft career. I was secretly relieved, and used the opportunity to throw myself at my stupid little 2D graphics engine. By the time applications for college internships were due, I had realized that any sort of normal programming job just wasn’t for me. Years later, it become apparent that I had narrowly avoided a catastrophic trainwreck.

Microsoft has been incapable of acquiring talent. In fact, as we showed in recent years, a lot of the talent quit the company. The acquired company which led Microsoft to a major financial loss had its manager quit Microsoft very quickly; that company used a lot of FOSS and Linux before the takeover. We covered all of this before.

“He [Bill Gates] is divisive. He is manipulative. He is a user. He has taken much from me and the industry.”

Gary Kildall

Linux Foes Make Money From Linux

Posted in FUD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Oracle at 3:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Hyenas

Summary: Oracle and Microsoft, which are suing Linux-based platforms, are making money at the expense of community developers of Linux

THE recent FUD from Oracle got mentioned in many sites, so people will at least be aware of what Oracle is doing. Here at Techrights we strive to report on issues that the press hardly touches. One of those issues is Novell and in particular the disservice it does to FOSS since Microsoft is the major financial backer.

“What Oracle and Novell are trying to do is promote an expensive variant of Linux, where non-contributing entities that are moreover attacking Linux (and Android) actually make a profit from Linux.”SUSE brags about running on Europe’s fastest computer, for example, but little does it ever say about the fact that Microsoft receives a share of the profits. The great threat here — and the reason we have been so focused on Novell — is that Microsoft tax on GNU/Linux will become so prevalent that it is seen as the norm. To normalise extortion and racketeering is definitely possible as in the political arena, for example, many cases of economic warfare have already been trivalised, to the point where nobody is allowed to be critical of them, at least not in the mainstream.

What Oracle and Novell are trying to do is promote an expensive variant of Linux, where non-contributing entities that are moreover attacking Linux (and Android) actually make a profit from Linux. This is an outrageous situation, a case of adding insult to injury.

World Wide Web at Risk Due to Software Patents

Posted in Patents at 3:09 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Tim Berners-Lee

Image from Wikimedia

Summary: How patents that are granted to cover mere concepts impede the biggest hub of innovation

THE founder or inventor of the World Wide Web is strongly against software patents. I once exchanged a few words with him, noting that foes such as Apple and Microsoft had been appointed to key positions at the W3C. Apple is particular has been criticised for patenting an essential part of the Web, never promising not to be aggressive with this ammunition. Microsoft too acquired many WWW/Netscape patents (from AOL), which puts it at great odds.

There is a patent troll which notoriously holds WWW-hostile patents and this new report from a patents news expert sheds some light on where this is standing:

A patent-trolling firm called Eolas, working together with the University of California, took a notorious patent to trial in East Texas earlier this year, trying to win close to $1 billion from Internet companies including Google, Yahoo, Amazon, and others. The inventor of the World Wide Web, Tim Berners-Lee, actually flew down to East Texas to testify for the defense, which ultimately beat Eolas.

Tim B-L’s involvement, which we called for, shows just how serious this is. Linus Torvalds also played a role in a case against Linux, where FAT patents had been used aggressively to extort Linux users.

“The whole point of a programmable computer is precisely that there is no need to make a new machine for every individual program.”
      –PolR
Just how bad can software patents get and still be tolerated by patent examiners? Over at Groklaw. PolR publishes another article which discredits the USPTO. It starts as follows:”If you ask this question you may receive a different answer depending on who you ask. If you ask a patent attorney he will answer that there is well established case law that says programming a computer in effect makes a new machine for purposes of patent law. But if you ask a computer programmer he will say that obviously, programing a computer doesn’t make a new machine. The whole point of a programmable computer is precisely that there is no need to make a new machine for every individual program.”

A computer program, unlike physical parts (hardware) should not be patentable merely because it emulates the function of hardware. This is a fundamental problem that the USPTO is failing to see. Computer programs can simulate just about anything a single-purpose machine can do or achieve except a physical by-product or outcome. To permit monopolies on algorithms is to ban simulation, even in one’s own mind. It stifles free expression.

“The only patent that is valid is one which this Court has not been able to get its hands on.”

Supreme Court Justice Jackson

Microsoft is Ripping Off Xbox 360 Partners

Posted in Deception, Microsoft at 2:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Not so cuddly snuggly

Old bears

Summary: Microsoft is slammed for charging or penalising very severely for an update; its PR people fail to correct the injustice

AS we pointed out quite recently, Xbox is still a lousy business for Microsoft. Using some creative accounting tricks Microsoft has successfully hidden losses for quite some time. We shall say more about that in a separate post.

There are some reports that reveal a pathetic strategy for Microsoft to earn some money in the Xbox business. There is some damage control issued very quickly in response to a “fix-figure Xbox360 ‘patch fee’”. Notice how Microsoft failing to actually address the criticism, using misdirection and secrecy:

Microsoft provided the following statement to Ars Technica after this story was originally published: “Polytron and their investor, Trapdoor, made the decision not to work on an additional title update for Fez. Microsoft Studios chose to support this decision based on the belief that Polytron/Trapdoor were in the best position to determine what the acceptable quality level is for their game. While we do not disclose the cost of Title Updates, we did offer to work with Trapdoor to make sure that wasn’t a blocking issue. We remain huge fans of Fez.” We have yet to hear back from Fish for further comment on the story.

They do not disclose the cost. It means they are embarrassed to do so. Notice that they do nothing to contradict damaging reports; they just dance around the hard facts/allegations. Later today we’ll show Microsoft’s descent to extreme spin, not better service/products.

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