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07.31.12

New FUD Against Android Comes From BT

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Patents at 4:19 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

English coins

Summary: Microsoft’s partner BT spreads FUD reminiscent of the type Microsoft has spread

THERE is some new type of FUD coming from developers who want DRM and monopolists like the loathed BT, which I personally have a lot against, its litigation against Android aside (see background). This new article actually shows how BT tops that all up with another pattern of FUD:

If she is referring to apps installed from unauthorized sources then it’s a misleading statement. Everyone is aware that when you download and install apps from random websites or stores there are all the chances that these apps may have compromised code. But if she is referring to Google Play Store then its a serious allegation and concern for users.

I have contacted BT to clarify the situation. As an Android user, it is heavily recommended not to use apps from unknown sources. Despite the regular attempts of spreading fear uncertainty and doubt (FUD) around Android, the fact remains that Android is an extremely secure platform as long as a user knows what apps he/she is installing. Android is like an armored tank but no one can protect you if you keep the doors open.

BT and Google are not on friendly terms. BT, just like Apple (stole from Sony, and patented) and Microsoft (which are all bogus), claims Android infringes upon its patents and sued Google in US.

As an Android user myself, I can attest to that. People who stick to trusted sources should be safe. BT has in fact recognised that it’s becoming a PR disaster and now retracts. Sounds familiar? Microsoft, the #1 spammer, went as far as suggesting that Android was a SPAM machine, only to retract the claim shortly afterwards (after a lot of reputation damage was done). Microsoft has a lot to worry about having just publicly declared losses [1 2, 3] and admitted that its tableet strategy — not just phone strategy — is poor. From the The New York Times comes a post whose author writes:

Microsoft Admits Risk in Tablet Plans

[...]

In an annual report that it submitted to the Securities and Exchange Commission on Thursday afternoon, Microsoft finally conceded something that has been rather obvious to anyone with a rudimentary understanding of the personal computer industry and Microsoft’s historical role in it. On page 14 of the document, Microsoft acknowledges that its Surface family of tablet computers could weaken support for Windows among Microsoft’s partners in the PC industry, known as original equipment manufacturers, or OEMs for short.

Ron Miller names a mistake:

Microsoft’s First Mistake: Leading with Consumer Tablets

CNet and others were reporting today that we finally have a release date for the first Microsoft Surface tablets.

Their reuse of a brand, “Surface”, heralds the quiet death of the predecessor too (a clumsy table-size tablet). Microsoft never succeeded with multi-touch, so it sure uses patents instead, for both tax and FUD. On top of that there is security-centric FUD.

‘We recommend that we *informally* plant the bug of FUD in their ears. “Have you heard about problems with DR DOS?”‘

Internal Microsoft communication [PDF]

Apple Increasingly Relevant to the War on Software Patents and Linux Domination

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Patents at 2:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Samsung Galaxy S2

Summary: The patent fights of Apple against Android become another centre stage for determining Linux growth

CONVICTED monopolist Microsoft has been hiding its extortion and has concealed pertinent details (unlike Apple), going as far as intruding legal cases that are not its own. To quote a new analysis of this:

There was always clouds of doubts around Microsoft’s claims that Android and Linux infringes upon their patents. While Microsoft continued to threaten companies into signing deals with them or face legal actions, it never disclosed what patents were at stake. The victims were forced to sign an NDA so that the world never gets to know which patents Microsoft is talking about — the chances are these are non-existent claims and Microsoft doesn’t want this bluff to be caught.

Barnes & Noble caught this FUD and counter sued Microsoft. Microsoft was sweating in its pants as the case headed towards the trial and Microsoft started to withdraw their bogus patents from the case. Just before the battle reach the trial Microsoft, typical to its character, paid B&N heavily, settled outside the court, and the world never got to see the bogus patents.

Microsoft is again at the verge of being exposed.

The court battle between Apple and Samsung has created the possibility of disclosing the cross patent agreement between Microsoft and Samsung, as reported by one of the most reputed source on legal matters, Groklaw.

Microsoft is suddenly scared and has filed a motion asking the court to seal the cross license agreement. I would like to remind that the Judge has asked both parties to makee all the filings in this dispute available to the public for free.

How is this legal? Where are the interests of the public? And given that Microsoft has probably breached the RiCO Act, where are regulators?

Over at Groklaw, it is shown that IBM is hiding such information as well. It’s rare to see Pamela Jones criticising IBM, but there it is: “This is amazing. From Friday to today, there were 72 items entered in the Apple v. Samsung litigation docket. A lot of the flurry of activity has to do with whether or not certain materials should be sealed or not. Nobody seems to want them unsealed but the judge and Reuters. Everyone else, third parties included, are going beserk trying to avoid it. IBM has filed a motion [PDF] for a temporary restraining order, trying to prevent Reuters’ reporter Dan Levine from publishing an unredacted licensing agreement between IBM and Samsung.”

According to the British press, including the Bill Gates-funded BBC, Apple is getting more aggressive in its case against Android/Linux (with ill-informed jury) and Murdoch’s press calls it litigation by proxy against Google (which would have had more incentive than Samsung to fight back). Here is a portion:

A loss for Apple, conversely, could sustain the spread of competition that has made Android the No. 1 smartphone operating system.

“It really feels like Apple versus Google instead of Apple and the company whose name is on the suit,” said Brian Love, a professor at Santa Clara University School of Law who specializes in patents.

The Apple-Google brawl extends far beyond the courts, with both companies racing to develop new features, digital-content offerings—including books and music—and services like maps.

The dispute’s legal chapter began more than two years ago, when Apple sued Android partner HTC Corp. of Taiwan in March 2010 and Samsung in April 2011. In a 2011 authorized biography, Apple’s co-founder Steve Jobs called Android “a stolen product.”

Google executives have denied stealing designs from Apple.

Apple didn’t sue Google, however, opting instead to attack the companies that manufacture Android phones. It declines to say why.

Going back to Groklaw, there are updates there about this case and Mr. Pogson helps ridicule Apple’s pathetic position. Others chime in: “As expected Apple has tried to refute Samsung’s claims that it copied the design of the iPhone from an early Sony phone. In documents submitted to court Apple has disclosed proyotypes of iPhone dating back to 2005.”

Arrogant is what Apple really is. It should be considered an imitator with an exploitative system of under-age workforce, an expensive system of marketing (mass brainwash), and a litigation army that scares away competition (as far back as 2009 when it scared Palm). Here is a new article about Apple’s abuse of those who actually produce the products it sells for a high price:

HP’s Chinese Factory Puts Apple To Shame

Earlier this year when reports surfaced about the treacherous working conditions in Apple’s Chinese factories, it left a disgusting taste in everyone’s mouth.

Instead of criticizing Apple for such practices and sympathizing with the workers, a few Apple fans argued that’s the situation of every other assembly line. However, there were no evidence of such conditions in the manufacturing facilities of other companies.

Apple’s case is unique as Apple pushes the manufacturers to create iPads and iPhone within a short span at razor thin margins. Thus the workers are forced to work and live in slaughter house like conditions.

Aleaked video shows the working conditions in HP’s manufacturing facilities in China. This was an unstaged footage recorded by a webcam. One might expect that this webcam would have captured the horrendous working conditions inside HP factories, resembling what we saw inside Apple’s factories.

From the same site we learn about more of Apple’s imitation of the far East:

Apple has started to taste its own bitter pill. The lawsuit happy company has been sued by a Taiwanese alleging that Apple’s Siri infringes upon its patents. Taiwan’s National Cheng Kung University filed the lawsuit in a US district court claiming that Siri infringes upon two voice recognition US patents.

We covered this before and we continue to find more articles about it:

Taiwan’s National Cheng Kung University has filed a suit against U.S. tech giant Apple (IW 500/9), claiming the company’s Siri intelligent assistant has infringed on two of its patents.

Apple introduced the voice-activated assistant technology when launching the iPhone 4S in 2011.

But Cheng Kung University in south Taiwan’s Tainan city said the technology infringes two patents held by one of its research teams, both related to speech recognition.

The team is led by Wang Jhing-fa, a professor who specializes in chip designs and neural networks facilitating speech and pattern recognition.

Apple has relied on inexpensive and disposable labour in China where Apple products do not even sell well. [via]

When Apple officially launched its latest iPad in China last week, the big crowds and long lines seen at earlier such events were absent. A trademark dispute had delayed the iPad’s Chinese release but even in March, when the new tablet became available in the country through unauthorised resellers, retailers complained they had to slash prices 30 per cent in the first week because consumers were unenthusiastic.

Fears among some investors that Apple’s magic is wearing off in China, its second-largest market after the US, were compounded by last week’s third-quarter results. Announcing a rare miss of analysts’ overall revenues and earnings forecasts, Apple said revenue in Greater China slid 28 per cent to $5.7bn in the three months to June 30 compared with the preceding quarter. The June quarter in 2011 had seen revenues from Greater China – which consists of China, Hong Kong and Taiwan – jump sixfold.

These are the sorts of markets where Nokia used to enjoy high market share and right now Android is enjoying growth. In terms of usage — not profit — Android is clearly the leader. All that Apple can do it try to intimidate and sue. We must all fight back.

Microsoft Corporation — Not Just Microsoft Windows — a SPAM Leader; UEFI Not the Answer

Posted in BSD, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 1:40 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Chained door

Summary: Microsoft ‘security’ is a joke (with collateral damage) and this demonstrable insecurity is used as an excuse for blocking BSD and GNU/Linux

RECENTLY, Microsoft has been trying to distract from the main culprit behind SPAM. Microsoft is the #1 SPAM catalyst, but sometimes it gets the nerve to FUD Android over it and then retract the FUD, only under pressure. Our “call out Windows” Web page helps explain how Microsoft orchestrated a campaign to obfuscate articles to the point where people forget these simple facts.

Based on this new report, Microsoft is the leading US spammer. To quote the report: “Microsoft has topped a list of biggest U.S. spammers for five out of the past 15 months, and for some of those months it ranked No. 1 in the world, according to a University of Texas study to flag the worst offenders in an effort to get them to improve their security.

“Microsoft has been trying to distract from the main culprit behind SPAM.”“Based on results culled from spam block lists, researchers found that Microsoft IP addresses were responsible for a big enough volume of spam to top their SpamRankings.net list for the U.S. in April and May 2011, and in March, April and June of this year, which is the latest ranking, says John S. Quarterman, a senior researcher with the project at the McCombs School of Business at UT Austin. (See also When Viagra Comments on Your Blog and Other Spam Red Flags.””

This is not too shocking given the unbelievably high number of Windows zombies, as noted just the other day. Windows, by its own design failings, is not secure, but Microsoft misuses the word “secure” to market Vista 8 while excluding all rivals, including the now-angry BSD. With UEFI, Microsoft gives the illusion that it takes action for security, but this will do nothing for real security. At IDG’s sites, the Microsoft booster uses an inflammatory headline to daemonise GNU/Linux:

Red Hat declined to comment on de Raadt’s assertions, but said the company’s policy was outlined in a June 5 blog post by Linux engineering vice president Tim Burke. Canonical has also been contacted for comment. (Update below.)

Red Hat declines to comment on other points and the publicity is not good for Red Hat. It is not easy to install GNU/Linux on machines that Microsoft imposed UEFI on, explains Steven J. Vaughan-Nichols. He starts as follows: “Here’s Microsoft’s plan: Every new PC sold with Windows 8 will be locked up tight with Microsoft’s UEFI (Unified Extensible Firmware Interface) secure boot on. Microsoft says that this is to help secure your PCs from rootkits and malware. It also happens to stop you from easily installing Linux or any other operating system, such as Windows 7 or XP, on a Windows 8 system. Thanks Microsoft. We really needed that kind of protection!”

“That would surely add ‘security’ for the company’s illegal monopoly that it used criminal activity to gain.”He adds: “The problem is that Microsoft requires vendors to implement secure boot in such a way that it makes it very hard to install Linux. It’s possible that hardware companies will simply give us the option of turning off secure boot during the UEFI setup similar to the way you can now use your BIOS to choose if you want to boot from your hard drive or a DVD or USB Flash drive. We don’t know yet though. Even though Windows 8 PCs will start shipping this fall it’s still not clear how many vendors will implement secure boot The easy way will be for them to not give users the option of turning it off.”

That would surely add ‘security’ for the company’s illegal monopoly that it used criminal activity to gain.

Links 31/7/2012: Richard Stallman Remarks on Valve for GNU/Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 8:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Black Hat Defcon: Can you hack a Linux Powered SOHO Router with DLNA?

    Security researcher Zachary Cutlip (my pic left) took the stage at both Black Hat and Defcon conferences this weekend.

    His talk was about doing SQL Injection on MIPS Powered SOHO routers – and in particular he aimed at the Linux powered Netgear WNDR3700.

    After sitting through an hour of this guy’s presentation at Black Hat (I didn’t bother to see it a second time at Defcon) the answer is:

  • Linux Desktops Dominate at Black Hat

    There are some people that don’t believe the Linux Desktop is relevant.

    I’m not one of them, and apparently neither are hordes of security professionals that were at the recent Black Hat security conference in Las Vegas (including me).

    The show itself doesn’t calculate who uses what..but Aruba Networks (they have a Linux powered set of wireless routers) does measure.

    For desktop OS users of the Wi-Fi network, the top desktop OS was…

  • Kernel Space

    • Ext4 vs. Btrfs: Why We’re Making The Switch [Linux]

      Quite honestly, one of the last things people look at is which file system is being used. Windows and Mac OS X users have even less reason to look, because they really have only one choice for their system – NTFS and HFS+, respectively. Linux, on the other hand, has plenty of different file system options, with the current default being ext4.

      However, there’s been another push to change the file system to something called btrfs. But what makes btrfs better, and when will we see distributions making the change?

    • Linux Foundation Adds Antelink, Calxeda and Reaktor as New Members

      The Linux Foundation announced that Antelink, Calxeda and Reaktor have joined the organization supporting the growth and adoption of Linux.

      The Linux Foundation, a nonprofit organization focused on promoting Linux, has announced that three new companies are joining the organization: Antelink, Calxeda and Reaktor.

    • Talk Of A “Massive Power Regression” In Linux 3.5

      For at least some hardware, it looks like the Linux 3.5 kernel has regressed and is burning through noticeably more power than its predecessor.

      Over the weekend a new mailing list thread began that was entitled “Massive power regression going 3.4->3.5″ pertaining to a power problem in this most recent Linux kernel release. This just wasn’t a random user complaining of a “massive power regression” but James Bottomley, a Linux kernel developer veteran.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Intel Ivy Bridge Performance Drops In Mesa 8.1

        In recent days there have been updated Mesa 8.1 development benchmarks put out looking at the R600 Gallium3D, R300 Gallium3D, and Nouveau Gallium3D open-source drivers. Those results for the different drivers show that Mesa 8.1 is generally faster than the current Mesa 8.0 stable series, but that does not appear to be the case for Intel at the moment. It looks like there are some active regressions that are lowering the Intel Ivy Bridge graphics performance with their Mesa 8.1-devel driver.

      • Freedreno Driver Gets Working Shader Assembler
  • Applications

    • TorqueBox 2.10 comes with new leadership and JDK workarounds

      The TorqueBox project’s leader, Bob McWhirter, has stepped down from leading the development of the platform designed to run Ruby on Rails applications on JBoss’s Application Server. McWhirter has led the project for the past four years, but has now become “Director of Polyglot for JBoss”, a role that gives him more responsibilities within Red Hat. His place will be taken by Ben Browning, an existing core contributor to the project; Browning is said to have been unofficially driving the project for the last few months and “now – it’s just official”.

    • Instructionals/Technical

    • Games

      • Richard M Stallman: Steam Is Good For GNU/Linux
      • Valve, Linux and the Windows 8 ‘Catastrophe’
      • Microsoft Windows 8 Games: Software Developer War or Empty Words?
      • Richard Stallman pours cold water on Steam

        While many open sourcers have welcomed the news that the games company Steam might be making thousands of games available for Linux, Free Software Guru Richard Stallman is not impressed.

        Writing from his bog, Stallman said that while the availability of popular nonfree programs on GNU/Linux can boost adoption of the system, it may not bring enough freedom.

        He said that nonfree games were unethical because they deny freedom to their users. So if users want freedom the only way they can do that is to only have free software on their computer.

      • GNU founder Stallman calls DRM’d Steam for Linux games “unethical”

        Valve recently announced plans to bring its Steam game distribution service to the Linux platform. The company has also ported its Source game engine and the popular title Left 4 Dead 2. In a recent interview, Valve’s Gabe Newell said that the move was partly influenced by concerns about the increasingly closed nature of the Windows platform.

        The Linux desktop has historically been ignored by major commercial software developers due to the relatively small audience and technical issues like fragmentation. Steam’s arrival on Linux has largely been welcomed by Linux enthusiasts who recognize it as a big step towards legitimizing the Linux desktop as a consumer platform.

  • Desktop Environments

    • GNOME Desktop

      • GNOME’s Future: Open Source Desktop Interface In Doubt?

        GNOME, the project responsible for what has been one of the open-source world’s most popular desktop interfaces for well over a decade, is teetering on the edge of crisis mode. At least, that’s what one developer suggests in a recent personal blog post ominously titled “starting into the abyss.” Does GNOME, despite its rich and influential past, really face such a dismal future? Here are some thoughts.

        Personally, I’d be pretty sad to see the GNOME project die. I haven’t used the desktop environment on a daily basis since development on GNOME 2.x ended in favor of GNOME Shell, but I grew up as a Linux user with GNOME. The open-source ecosystem just wouldn’t feel the same if I knew I no longer had the option of running GNOME software.

      • Gnome-Schedule – GNOME scheduler for automatic tasks

        Gnome-schedule is a graphical user interface that leverages the power of vixie-cron, dcron and at to manage your crontab file and provide an easy way to schedule tasks on your computer. It supports recurrent (periodical) tasks and tasks that happen only once in the future. It is written in Python using pygtk, and has been developed, tested and packaged for various Linux distributions.

      • Is GNOME “Staring into the abyss?”

        A leading GNOME developer thinks the once popular Linux/Unix desktop interface has lost its way.

      • GNOME in Trouble Again (or Still)?

        We knew that a certain segment of the Linux population was still unhappy with GNOME, but I thought most of issues were behind us; that most have adapted or moved on. But apparently, a wave of articles today suggests otherwise. Of course, an insider’s blog post set off this campfire.

      • Staring Into The Abyss: Some Thoughts

        Last week Benjamin Otte shared some thoughts about GNOME that were pretty stark. It gathered some steam and hit Slashdot and this all happened the week GUADEC was taking place in A Coruña. I wasn’t at GUADEC :-( but I can imagine there was some fervent discussion about the blog entry.

        The gist of Benjamin’s blog was that people are leaving GNOME, that the project is understaffed, and arguably the reason for this is that GNOME has lost its direction and Red Hat have overtaken the project as the primary contributor-base. Of course I am summarizing, but check out the original post if you feel I am not representing Benjamin’s views fairly.

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Android

        • HTC bites the bullet, closes South Korean office

          Fighting sluggish sales numbers and competing in a locally-dominated smartphone market, HTC has closed its South Korean office doors.

        • ZTE Flash headed to Sprint with 4.5-inch IPS 720p display and 12.6MP camera

          ZTE recently announced the Grand X for Europe and the Asia Pacific in the third quarter, but it looks like they have something else up their sleeve for the U.S. in the 4th quarter. The ZTE Flash will debut on Sprint this October and it sports some pretty decent specs such as a 4.5-inch IPS 720p (1280 x 720) display, a 1.5GHz dual-core processor, 1GB of RAM, 12.6MP rear camera, 1MP front facing camera, 8GB of internal storage, microSDXC slot, 1780mAh battery, Bluetooth 4.0, LTE, Gorilla Glass, and Android 4.0.

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Do I Still Like My Nexus 7 After A Week? Nexus 7 Review

        Google’s Nexus 7 is all the rage. The tablet is so popular that Google ran out of stock and the orders are on halt for a while. The tablet is getting praise even from staunch Apple fans like MG Seigler. The most notable praise came from none other than the creator of Linux, Linus Torvalds, who is a great critic and seems to have a hold of what a user wants.

      • Nexus 7 (16GB) Now Available At Google Play
      • Samsung Working On Bigger Tablet With Retina Display

        Many Samsung fans always wondered that despite being the world’s #1 display manufacturer and lead supplier of Apple’s retina display why is Samsung now offering the same high resolution display for its phones or tablets. Well, Samsung Galaxy Nexus and S3 do have an extremely high resolution display but tablets are still a different animal. It seems Samsung is working on a high resolution tablet with a bit bigger screen size.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Six misconceptions about open source software

    In information technology (IT) and software development fields, there are a few fairly common misconceptions about the use of open source software. These misconceptions were debunked in a discussion at POSSE RIT 2012, and we’d like to share (and spread) that conversation.

  • Open source won

    I heard the comments a few times at the 14th OSCON: The conference has lost its edge. The comments resonated with my own experience — a shift in demeanor, a more purposeful, optimistic attitude, less itching for a fight. Yes, the conference has lost its edge, it doesn’t need one anymore.

    Open source won. It’s not that an enemy has been vanquished or that proprietary software is dead, there’s not much regarding adopting open source to argue about anymore. After more than a decade of the low-cost, lean startup culture successfully developing on open source tools, it’s clearly a legitimate, mainstream option for technology tools and innovation.

  • Free open-source software: My take on its inexorable rise

    As we all know, Android has Linux at the heart of it, with a litigious Java platform, which means that it is the powerhouse driving the adoption of free software — although many would argue that it’s not really free.

    From my own very small web design corner of the universe I can see the inexorable rise of free software. Of my last eight contract roles, four of them were working on either the WordPress or Drupal content management systems.

  • ZoneAlarm: Defining the Difference Between Freeware and Free Software

    The other day, when my friend’s laptop spit-up a warning from ZoneAlarm that she was no longer protected, I stood over her shoulder and instructed her to update the firewall. The warning was basically a scare tactic, of course. Without the update she would still be protected, just as protected as she had been the day before. She just wouldn’t have any new whiz-bang features included in the update, nor would she be able to take advantage of any new security enhancements.

    We ran the default install. This was Windows, so there had to be a reboot. After that, we opened the browser to find that the homepage had been reset to a ZoneAlarm themed Google search page. We had not opted-in to any such change; the ZoneAlarm folks had just taken it on themselves to hijack Firefox’s revenue, which I didn’t think cricket.

  • Events

    • Texas Linux Fest is This Week – Win a Free Pass

      Texas Linux Fest begins this Friday, August 3rd, and there’s still plenty of time to register. Or, you can enter to win one of five free passes. You have until 3pm tomorrow, July 31 to enter, so hurry! We’ll post the winners tomorrow afternoon, so you’ll still have time to register if you don’t win.

    • Google I/O Keynote and Session Videos Are Available Now

      Throughout its existence, Google has been very dedicated to enlisting developers all around the world to embrace its projects and become contributors. And, the company’s Google I/O conference remains its biggest annual event focused on outreach to developers. Google recently held the I/O 2012 conference, and ever since then has been steadily posting videos of keynote addresses and complete videos of the sessions. Some of these are very much worth watching–even if you’re not a developer.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • On Software obsolescence

        Recently the Mozilla Foundation announced a new orientation for their email client, Thunderbird. It caused quite a bit of discussion, and we, at the Document Foundation, received quite a lot of public and private feedback on this mostly in the form of: “Now that Mozilla is getting rid of Thunderbird, The Document Foundation should take on its maintenance and development”. Much of this crazy rumor has ended being disproved by Mozilla itself and what seems to be going on is that Mozilla will in fact enable a real community-led development style on Thunderbird (contrary to the development model of Firefox) but has to intention of dumping it anywhere. That didn’t stop the rumor to spread anyway and this article by Brian Profitt caught my eye: “Will Open Source Office Suites go the way of Thunderbird?”.

  • SaaS

    • OpenStack: Allegation of ‘abusive’ conversation under investigation

      Days after opening its nomination process for Individual Member elections, the OpenStack Foundation is investigating allegations that an executive within one of the Foundation’s corporate member companies may have pressured an Individual Member candidate to withdraw her nomination for a board position.

  • Databases

    • Oracle releases MySQL migration tools for SQL Server, Windows users

      As it prepares to release its Windows-enhanced MySQL 5.6 database, Oracle announced late last week a number of downloadable migration tools to ease the process of converting from Microsoft SQL Server to MySQL, including data conversion, Excel and Windows installer tools.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Business

    • Open source model disrupts the commercial drone business

      The do-it-yourself (DIY), open-source drone movement is turning into a real business that could disrupt the commercial and military drone industry. It’s another case of how exploiting the curiosity of hackers can turn into a commercial opportunity.

      That’s the view of Chris Anderson (pictured), editor of Wired magazine and a drone hobbyist and businessman on the side. He spoke about this DIY trend and his own efforts to lead it in a talk at the Defcon hacker conference in Las Vegas today.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • FSF Bulletins are on the way
    • FSFE working on better legal protection for free software

      The Free Software Foundation Europe (FSFE) has voiced concerns about what could happen to source code distributed under free software licences if the company providing the software goes bankrupt and enters insolvency proceedings. Especially in Germany, the current rules in this area of law are not well explored. Speaking to The H’s associates at heise open, Matthias Kirschner, who coordinates German matters for the foundation, explained that a bankruptcy court in Germany could currently rescind the free software licence and all rights granted by it after the fact.

Leftovers

  • NBC: We Have No Clue Who Tim Berners-Lee Is, But Without Our Commentary, You Wouldn’t Understand The Olympics

    First of all, seriously? Tape delay to the West Coast? You lock down coverage in order to take advantage of prime time and try to pass it off as some sort of “value added” service. Pay no mind to all the twittering and live blogging willing to fill in the gaps, while you do some sort of production magic behind the scenes. Live events don’t need windows and real life shouldn’t need **spoiler** warnings.

    Even worse is the fact that the opening ceremonies weren’t even streamed live on the internet, where time and distance aren’t factors. And you know it, too, because your official Twitter accounts were posting updates live, giving Americans the dusty old feeling that they’re listening to a local broadcaster read off the ticker feed from a title match. So close, but so far.

  • Hardware

  • Security

  • Finance

    • Goldman Sachs’s Devastating Interest Rate Swaps

      The banks brought us the financial crisis which resulted in zero interest rates. Now the banks are improperly benefiting from those rates through contracts they made with cities BEFORE they blew up the financial system.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Proposals for the reform of copyright and related culture and media policy

        Now that the ACTA treaty has been rejected by the European Parliament, a period opens during which it will be possible to push for a new regulatory and policy framework adapted to the digital era. Many citizens and MEPs support the idea of reforming copyright in order to make possible for all to draw the benefits of the digital environment, engage into creative and expressive activities and share in their results. In the coming months and years, the key questions will be: What are the real challenges that this reform should address? How can we address them?

      • Leaked RIAA Report: SOPA/PIPA “Ineffective Tool” Against Music Piracy

        Contrary to the endless lobbying and subsequent defending of the now-dead SOPA and PIPA frameworks, a leaked report shows that earlier this year the RIAA’s Deputy General Counsel admitted that the legislation was “not likely to have been effective tool” for dealing with music piracy. All efforts are now being put behind the “six strikes” plan – but could disconnections for repeat infringers still be on the agenda?

        “These illicit sites are among the culprits behind the music industry’s more than 50 percent decline in revenues during the last decade, resulting in 15,000 layoffs and fewer resources to invest in new bands,” wrote RIAA CEO Cary Sherman in a New York Times piece last year.

TechBytes Episode 72: Richard Stallman on News Sources Bias, GPL.next Misinformation, and Software Patents

Posted in TechBytes at 1:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Techbytes 2012

Direct download as Ogg (12:12, 4.8 MB)

Summary: The fourth part of our interviews series with Richard Stallman covers software patents opposition for the most part

TODAY we turn our attention to software patents for the most part. Here is the transcript.


Dr. Roy Schestowitz: How do you judge the reliability of a news source and which one or ones do you favour?

Richard StallmanDr. Richard Stallman: Well, how do I judge the reliability? To a large extent I look at the story, and I try to judge based on the other things I know whether this looks like it’s bullshit or possible truth. Because there are news sources that I know often slant things, but that doesn’t mean that I think that their statements of facts would wrong, because I expect that they would be caught if were wrong. I don’t know of any news sources that I could say “that’s a good one”, because they all have their positions, they all want to say some things and not others. The question is, does it seem plausible that they would say falsehoods about facts? Because there is some embarrassment involved in getting caught in saying… in giving some news that wasn’t true.

Many places are not likely to say things that are just false, but they may draw conclusions that don’t really follow, or that reflect bias.

My next question is about the GPL. More recently there has been some exposure for what’s known as the GPL.next, which Richard Fontana…

“Richard Fontana was interested in exploring some ideas, so he started a project to get suggestions about what to put in a copyleft licence.”No, no, it isn’t [called that] anymore. Basically, Richard Fontana was interested in exploring some ideas, so he started a project to get suggestions about what to put in a copyleft licence.

That name was not very nice because it implied that it would be the replacement, and of course for anyone to say “my work is going to replace your work” is a somewhat unfriendly thing to say, but that’s not what he seems to really mean, so I hope that he finds some interesting ideas through this.

My next question is, what do you consider to be the most effective strategy for elimination of software patents in the United States and worldwide as well?

“If the US trade representative is visiting, or there are a thousand reasons to protest the visit of the US trade representative, what he wants is good for business and bad for people in every country including the US.”Well, it depends on the country, because this is a matter of political activity and how to do that effectively varies from country to country. So I can’t give authoritative advice to people in other countries; if I can even do so in the US, it wouldn’t apply to other places. I can suggest possible approaches to try, you know, meet with officials, organise and make a protest in the street, have protests at events if any officials from that part of international agencies that favour software patents are coming, protest them. If the US Trade Representative is visiting — there are a thousand reasons to protest the visit of the US Trade Representative; what he wants is good for business and bad for people in every country including the US. How you influence politics in your country, you’ll know probably a lot better than I do. That’s what it involves, very likely. But it may also involve legal action, if your country’s courts could rule that software patents are not valid; that’s very important. But what you need is to find a lawyer to argue that case.

Now, in the US, when an appeal is being heard, anyone can send a friend of the court brief, which is published presenting arguments to be considered. If you are in a country which has a practice like that, that can be helpful.

But there is one point about which direction is going to be useful.

If the country does not have software patents, then it will work simply to make it clear and firm that software patents are not allowed, and put this into legislation so that the patent office can’t betray it. And you have to work hard making it ironclad, so that the patent office can’t find an excuse to betray it. For instance, there are countries in which computer programs can’t be patented, But the patent offices say, “we’re not issuing patents on computer programs, we’re issuing patents on techniques that can be used in computer programs.” Now, we think that those treaties and laws were meant to prevent that, but the patent offices reinterpret them in a way that means that [law or treaty] becomes effectively void, and doesn’t prevent any kind of patent that anyone would actually want to apply for. So you’ve got to be careful, you’ve got to study from a point a view, how could the patent office try to twist this?

“Congress can’t legislate the existing patents into non-existence.”However, there are countries which already have software patents, and in those countries restricting the issuance of software patents would still leave you with maybe hundreds of thousands of existing software patents. Well, if the courts ruled that software patents were never valid, they would all disappear. So there is some hope that that may eventually happen. But what could Congress do?

Congress can’t legislate the existing patents into non-existence. What it could however do is legislate that patents are not infringed by developing, distributing or running software on general-purpose computer hardware if the hardware itself doesn’t infringe. That way these patents would remain valid, and they could be applicable to hardware devices but not to software.

You see, patent systems don’t generally divide patents into software patents and hardware patents; it’s rather the patent would cover a certain idea, and maybe that idea is typically implemented in software, but the patent would also cover implementing it in hardware. My definition of a software patent is a patent that can prohibit programs. Because patents are not intrinsically labelled as software patents or hardware patents, you can’t just say “we are going to prohibit software patents”, you’ve got to define clearly what it is that’s not going to be issued, or else legislate about where patents apply and where they don’t apply.


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