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10.31.12

Links 1/11/2012: Android Rises in Jobs Market, Ethiopian Kids Use Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 9:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Interface tricks could be a Linux treat

    I miss the days when I would get excited about the latest desktop interface to come from the GNOME or KDE projects, or downloading and installing the umpteenth Linux distribution on the continuing quest to find Linux nirvana.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Seeking Enlightenment

      Enlightenment is one of the oldest open source desktop projects in existence. With E17, the developers are gearing up to their latest release, an occasion that has been a long time in the making. The word is that the team will make some announcements at the EFL Developer Day taking place as part of Linuxcon Europe on 5 November. With a release likely being close at hand, The H spoke to project leader Carsten “Rasterman” Haitzler about how the desktop environment has been progressing and what the goals are for the project.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • one code base, multiple form factors

        Yesterday we pushed a small but significant clean-up to a feature set we’ve been working on for a couple of years now which is perhaps one of the more interesting things we’re doing in Plasma: the idea of “one code base, multiple form factors.”

        The idea is that whether your application is running as a widget on the desktop, docked in a panel, running full screen as part of a mediacenter, running in a touch based environment or as a regular ol’ app-in-a-window, much of the code can be shared. We often put the non-graphical bits into shared libraries, and traditional we’ve built multiple front ends that are optimized for different form factors and input methods which use these libraries.

  • Distributions

    • XStreamOS: An Illumos Kernel based Operating System

      Being a Technical Writer involves a lot of reading and research of new and emerging technologies. And one project that recently came to my attention through my email inbox was an Illumos kernel based Unix operating system called XStreamOS.

    • Luninux – The Quest For Freedom

      When I booted Luninux for the first time I noticed that this operating system is using the Gnome 3.4.1 shell which basically makes it look like Gnome 2 as well. At a first glance you could be confused into thinking that there isn’t much difference between Luninux and Fuduntu except that Luninux is based on Ubuntu and Fuduntu is based on Fedora.

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Will XP Users Shun Windows 8 in Favor of Ubuntu?

            Historically, Windows hasn’t been tremendously effective in the area of backwards compatibility. Anyone who has migrated to a new Windows release with older peripherals has likely felt the pain I’m talking about.

            On the flipside, the idea that Windows 8 will drive Windows users to Ubuntu in droves is unlikely. If a new PC buyer has been content with the Windows OS, switching suddenly to something else is highly improbably. Even if keeping their existing hardware and locating a good Linux distro might be a more economical solution, most people will stick with what they know. It’s simply a matter of familiarity for most Windows users looking to upgrade.

          • Mark Shuttleworth and the secrecy of Ubuntu

            Canonical and Ubuntu are both drifting away from the free software (or even from the open source) movement, and they are doing this by adopting some ugly tactics like the one mentioned above.

          • Ubuntu 14.04 Will Come to Phones, TVs and Tablets

            Another 6 months, another Ubuntu Developer Summit event for Canonical, where Mark Shuttleworth is always present and keeps his audience captivated.

          • Ubuntu moves to new release schedule

            Canonical QA coordinator Nicholas Skaggs announced that the company’s popular Linux-based operating system, Ubuntu, would be moving to a substantially different release schedule.

          • Ubuntu To Drop Alpha Releases, Promises More Stable Development

            At Ubuntu Development Summit held in Copenhagen this year, developers of Canonical have decided to drop alpha releases of Ubuntu, and publish just one beta release prior to final stable release. Thus, next Ubuntu releases beginning with Ubuntu 13.04 will have just one beta ISO.

            The decision was taken to ensure better quality of ISO and a more full proof development cycle. Also, Ubuntu derivatives like Kubuntu, Xubuntu etc have the freedom to follow their own release cycles. They can follow Ubuntu’s 6 month cycle or choose their own, something new.

          • Wubi To Be Redesigned For Ubuntu 13.04

            Ubuntu 13.04, the next major release of Ubuntu will include Windows installer, popularly known as Wubi. This software allows one to install Ubuntu inside Windows operating system as a program and allows easy setup of disk partitioning, user setup etc. The installer was included by default in previous versions of Ubuntu but was dropped in Ubuntu 12.04 and Quantal.

          • LoCo Teams, Communication, and Community
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Linux Mint Makes Money with Minty Merchandise

              Linux Mint founder, Clement Lefebvre, has done an amazing job monitizing his Ubuntu offshoot. Not only does the project have sponsors in the business community who wish to assure Mint stays in production, but his monthly donations are impressive as well. Now Lefebvre has announced yet another partnership and the ribbon-cutting of his Minty fresh store.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Android jobs rocket as iOS jobs stagnate

          Using data from 230,614 positions posted in Q3, Freelancer.co.uk saw 16 percent growth in the number of Android jobs, at 4,795. Meanwhile, the number of iOS jobs rose a comparatively small eight percent to 5,509.

        • Ethiopian kids hack OLPCs in 5 months with zero instruction

          What happens if you give a thousand Motorola Zoom tablet PCs to Ethiopian kids who have never even seen a printed word? Within five months, they’ll start teaching themselves English while circumventing the security on your OS to customize settings and activate disabled hardware. Whoa.

          The One Laptop Per Child project started as a way of delivering technology and resources to schools in countries with little or no education infrastructure, using inexpensive computers to improve traditional curricula. What the OLPC Project has realized over the last five or six years, though, is that teaching kids stuff is really not that valuable. Yes, knowing all your state capitols how to spell “neighborhood” properly and whatnot isn’t a bad thing, but memorizing facts and procedures isn’t going to inspire kids to go out and learn by teaching themselves, which is the key to a good education. Instead, OLPC is trying to figure out a way to teach kids to learn, which is what this experiment is all about.

          Rather than give out laptops (they’re actually Motorola Zoom tablets plus solar chargers running custom software) to kids in schools with teachers, the OLPC Project decided to try something completely different: it delivered some boxes of tablets to two villages in Ethiopia, taped shut, with no instructions whatsoever. Just like, “hey kids, here’s this box, you can open it if you want, see ya!”

        • Public Alerts Now On Google Search and Maps for Android for Superstorm Sandy
        • Review: Ubuntu for Nexus 7

          We take a look at Ubuntu for Nexus 7, made possible with the new one-click installer promoted by Canonical. What we found certainly surprised us…

        • Ubuntu Gets Hacked On Google’s Nexus 7 By Canonical

Free Software/Open Source

  • When and Why Do I Update Open Source Policy Rules?
  • SaaS

    • Big data the NASA way

      Mattmann became involved in Nutch, an open source search engine program, when studying for his doctorate. Nutch was created by Doug Cutting, who went on to found the big data system Hadoop.

    • Hadoop Creator Outlines the Future of Big Data Platform
    • HP: Why an Open Cloud Matters

      Zorawar ‘Biri’ Singh, SVP Converged Cloud and HP Cloud Services, has some big responsibilities. Singh is responsible for HP’s cloud efforts, which increasingly involve the open source OpenStack platform.

      In an exclusive interview with InternetNews Singh detailed his views on the cloud and how HP can leverage the open approach and still provide competitive differentiation.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • The Document Foundation Looking For Infrastructure Sponsors

      The Document Foundation is looking for infrastructure sponsors: Internet service providers, webhosters, universities and corporations can contribute to LibreOffice by sponsoring the use of dedicated machines.

    • LibreOffice’s Dubious Claims: Part I, Download Counts

      If you do an apples-to-apples comparison, of Windows and Mac users, which together constitute 97% of the desktop market, Apache OpenOffice, although it took a while to make its first release, 3.4.0, has taken off like a rocket, and has eliminated any head-start advantage LibreOffice had, and is racing ahead with 4x the downloads that LibreOffice is reporting. And since the LibreOffice numbers are inflated by duplicate counting of upgrade downloads, OpenOffice is probably already ahead of LibreOffice in users on these platforms by a factor of 10 or more.

  • CMS

    • Plone CMS vulnerable to privilege escalation and code execution

      The Plone Foundation has warned users that there are multiple vulnerabilities in its open source Plone content management system (CMS) as well as the Zope toolkit. According to the security advisory, these security holes could be exploited by an attacker for privilege escalation, allowing them to bypass certain security restrictions, or to execute malicious arbitrary code on a system.

  • Education

    • Open source provides schools with low-cost, high quality software

      Open source can provide schools with high quality, well-functioning IT solutions at low cost, according to a case study done by VTT, a Finnish government research institute. The researchers looked at the use of Linux and other open source applications by the Kasavuoren Secondary School in Kauniainen, a municipality near Helsinki. The case study, available since May 2011, underpins a plea to schools to increase their use of free and open source software.

  • Project Releases

  • Licensing

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Markdown may be defined as a standard

      An effort is emerging to take the Markdown plain text formatting conventions originally developed by John Gruber in 2004 and create a standardisable specification. Markdown’s syntax allows a minimal set of plain text ‘markup’ characters to offer useful basic formatting, for example, underlining text with “=” or “-” makes the text a heading as does preceding text with one to six “#” symbols. The apparent simplicity of the format has seen it used on many blogs, Reddit, GitHub and other sites as a way for users to present formatted text through the system. With this wide take up, developer Jeff Atwood, co-founder of Stack Overflow, has called for a standardisation of Markdown.

Leftovers

  • The Ripple Effect of Windows 8

    Windows 8 has caused Microsoft’s worst fears to come true – users will no longer choose Windows because it is familiar and comfortable. Windows will no longer compete on a “devil we know” basis, but will need to compete on a usability basis. In our case, users said Linux Mint actually felt far more familiar and comfortable than Windows 8.

  • How Being Very Transparent May Have Saved A ‘Failed’ Kickstarter Project
  • A Congress Too Polarized to Protect Itself

    The U.S. Congress is on an extended election hiatus, yet there has been no noticeable decline in its productivity. As polarization and legislative gridlock have worsened in recent years, the nation’s great legislative body has withered, losing not only popular support but the ability to exercise its constitutional powers.

  • Defence/Police/Aggression

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Why Jill Stein went to the front line of the climate crisis today

      In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Green Party presidential candidate Jill Stein was handcuffed and arrested this morning after bringing food and supplies to a coalition of climate justice activists, known as the “Tar Sands Blockade,” who are attempting to stop the Keystone XL pipeline in Texas. She is currently at Wood County Jail awaiting processing.

    • Did Romney Shift Climate Change Stance to Appeal to Kochs?

      One clue might come from a Romney campaign memo dated October 4, 2011 — just weeks before the candidate flip-flopped on climate change — indicating that Romney had been actively seeking the endorsement of Koch Industries heir David Koch. David and his brother Charles are top funders of climate change denial front groups and have long played an important role in choosing GOP political candidates, both via direct donations and through organizations like the David Koch-founded-and-led Americans for Prosperity.

      Romney at the time was struggling for Tea Party support, and the memo, obtained by the conservative Washington Examiner noted that the Kochs were the “financial engine of the Tea Party.” According to the Washington Examiner, just a few days after Romney announced his new agnosticism on climate change he bypassed an important Iowa event in advance of that state’s crucial primary to speak at an AFP event. Romney also had scheduled a meeting at Koch’s home in Southampton, NY, but it was cancelled because of the last natural disaster to pummel the East Coast, Hurricane Irene.

    • After Helping to Resupply Tar Sands Blockade, Green Party Presidential Candidate Jill Stein is Arrested
    • US Media Covering Hurricane Sandy Mostly Ignore Whether Climate Change Fueled Storm’s Fury

      The reports of damage as the storm hit New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Connecticut and Delaware were stunning.

      The flooding in Lower Manhattan was unlike what even meteorologists at The Weather Channel had predicted. It was worse than they feared, one meteorologist said during coverage.

      There was ample time to anticipate Hurricane Sandy after it killed at least 52 people in Haiti. New Jersey, New York and Washington, DC, all were very public about preparations that were being made. This gave media in the United States an opening to get in and cover before the storm did any damage.

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • The Anatomy of a Lie: Right-Wing “Media Trackers” Strikes Again with Libelous Smear

      The Wisconsin-based, right-wing website Media Trackers reached a new low on Monday when it printed a libelous story against the partner of State Rep. Mark Pocan, accusing him of sending bizarre text threats to a volunteer for Chad Lee, Pocan’s opponent in his race for Congress. Although Media Trackers took down the story late in the day, the damage had been done. It was picked up by right-wing sources in Wisconsin and across the nation. The organization’s “mea culpa” fails to apologize or take responsibility for its role in the smear and the outlet still has a picture of Pocan and his partner Phil Frank on the front page of its website with a note that it would “continue to follow developments in this story” — as if there were a story to follow.

    • Anti-Pornography Guy Politicizes 10 Year Old Girl’s Murder

      The adult film industry gets mentioned on Techdirt frequently because, as everyone knows, “the internet is for porn.” Typically, we get to write fun little stories about silly journalists believing horse-poop statistics on home pornography. Or else an ice cream company is suing an adult film studio over a porno-parody of their silly flavors. Those stories are good for a laugh because, let’s be honest, there’s something inherently funny about movies of people bumping uglies coupled with the far less fleshy world of news and IP law. What isn’t laugh-worthy is when a tragedy occurs, such as the senseless slaying of a 10 year old girl, and the result is a bunch of grand-standing jackwagons lining up to use her death to promote their own false agenda.

      Yet that’s what is happening with the case of Jessica Ridgeway’s murder, now that the accused killer is a young man who reportedly is addicted to pornography. Let’s highlight one of the aforementioned grand-standing jackwagons, just so we can identify who is saying what before I get to the elephant-in-the-room-sized problem with his nonsense.

    • David Cohen may be Comcast’s secret weapon, but in D.C. he’s a wonk rock star

      In fall 2009, Comcast planned to launch an Internet service for the poor that was sure to impress federal regulators. But David Cohen, the company’s chief of lobbying, told the staff to wait.

      At the time, Comcast was planning a controversial $30 billion bid to take over NBC Universal, and Cohen needed a bargaining chip for government negotiations.

    • Big Sugar’s Sweet Little Lies

      On a brisk spring Tuesday in 1976, a pair of executives from the Sugar Association stepped up to the podium of a Chicago ballroom to accept the Oscar of the public relations world, the Silver Anvil award for excellence in “the forging of public opinion.” The trade group had recently pulled off one of the greatest turnarounds in PR history. For nearly a decade, the sugar industry had been buffeted by crisis after crisis as the media and the public soured on sugar and scientists began to view it as a likely cause of obesity, diabetes, and heart disease. Industry ads claiming that eating sugar helped you lose weight had been called out by the Federal Trade Commission, and the Food and Drug Administration had launched a review of whether sugar was even safe to eat. Consumption had declined 12 percent in just two years, and producers could see where that trend might lead. As John “JW” Tatem Jr. and Jack O’Connell Jr., the Sugar Association’s president and director of public relations, posed that day with their trophies, their smiles only hinted at the coup they’d just pulled off.

  • Censorship

    • HuffPost Moderates Comments To Please Advertisers

      We’ve been somewhat excited that we’re rapidly approaching one million total comments on Techdirt. We thought it was quite a nice milestone. But we feel a bit small to learn that the Huffington Post already has over 70 million comments just this year alone. Over at Poynter, Jeff Sonderman has a fascinating interview with the site’s director of community, Justin Isaf, about how they manage all those comments. Apparently they have a staff of 30 full time comment moderators, helped along by some artificial intelligence (named Julia) from a company they bought just for this technology.

    • How the Huffington Post handles 70+ million comments a year
    • Being A Jackass On Twitter Shouldn’t Be Illegal; Public Shame Should Be Enough

      We’ve been talking about the unfortunate set of cases in the UK lately, in which people acting like jackasses online are being held criminally liable for being a jerk online. There are, of course, significant problems with this. And if you thought it was just limited to Europe, where they tend to have a slightly less absolute view of the right to free expression than the US, well, don’t be so sure. There’s a lot of talk about whether or not legal action should be taken against one jackass who used Twitter (using the account @comfortablysmug — which, perhaps, should have been a tipoff) to spread fake news about emergencies and damages, while most people were sharing legitimate news. The guy in question was eventually outed by Buzzfeed as hedge-fund analyst and political consultant Shashank Tripathi.

    • Superstorm Sandy, Google, France, and Saving the Freedom to Link

      Even before the massive storm named Sandy battered the northeast U.S. last night, I was already planning a posting about the “link war” now brewing around the world.

      A few days ago, newspapers in Brazil pulled out of Google News, claiming they wanted compensation for the indexing of their freely available public Web sites.

      And in France, the government is directly threatening Google with laws that would require news indexing payments to public, freely available media sites in that country.

    • Republican Congressman Sues TV Stations Over ‘Defamatory’ Political Ad (Video)
  • Privacy

    • Toy helicopters restricted as China tightens security

      Restrictions on the sale of radio-controlled helicopters and planes have been imposed in Beijing as China heightens security before a once-in-a-decade leadership change, state media said Wednesday.

      For some models of helicopters and planes — which can only be guided within a few metres — purchasers must prove their identity to the shopkeepers, Beijing’s Youth Daily reported.

  • Civil Rights

    • Supreme Court Puzzles: How There Can Be Oversight Concerning Warrantless Wiretapping If No One Can Sue?

      One of the more ridiculous things about the government’s ongoing campaign of secret surveillance on Americans is how hard it’s fought back against anyone who has sought to have the policy tested in the courts. If the feds were confident that what they were doing was legal, they wouldn’t be so aggressive in blocking each and every attempt. When the ACLU and others filed suit over the warrantless wiretapping under the FISA Amendments Bill (the Clapper v. Amnesty International case) the lower court rulings were especially troubling, because it was ruled that there was no standing to sue, because there was no direct proof of such spying. So that leaves the public in quite a bind. They can’t complain about the program unless they can prove they’ve been spied upon, but they can’t do that unless they know more about the program, which is secret. Someone page Joseph Heller.

    • Police allowed to install cameras on private property without warrant

      A federal judge has ruled that police officers in Wisconsin did not violate the Fourth Amendment when they secretly installed cameras on private property without judicial approval.

      The officers installed the cameras in an open field where they suspected the defendants, Manuel Mendoza and Marco Magana, were growing marijuana. The police eventually obtained a search warrant, but not until after some potentially incriminating images were captured by the cameras. The defendants have asked the judge to suppress all images collected prior to the issuance of the search warrant.

    • Court OKs warrantless use of hidden surveillance cameras
  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • We Don’t Know, Exactly, What the Trans-Pacific Partnership Is, But I’m Against It

      The Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) is probably the most important trade agreement you’ve never heard of. Sometimes described as our “21st Century trade agreement,” its terms are being negotiated in secret by 11 countries, big and small, arranged around the Pacific Ocean.

    • Copyrights

      • Supreme Court Justices Worry About ‘Parade Of Horribles’ If They Agree You Don’t Own What You Bought

        As we were discussing, on Monday, the Supreme Court heard the oral arguments in the Wiley v. Kirtsaeng case over whether or not you have the right to resell (or even display) a product you bought that was made outside of the country, which contains content covered by copyright. First off, a big caveat that needs to be mentioned every single time we write about oral arguments in a court case: it is not uncommon for what is discussed, and the questions asked, to really have almost nothing to do with the final decision. Everyone loves to read the tea leaves based on the questions the Justices ask, but, quite often, the questions (and answers) don’t necessarily have much bearing on the final decision. The written briefs usually have a much bigger impact. That said, it doesn’t mean the questions are meaningless, or that we can’t learn a little bit from them.

      • Movies Try to Escape Cultural Irrelevance

        But it’s starting to feel as if it might be “The Last Picture Show.”

        Next year’s Academy Awards ceremony — the 85th since 1929 — will be landing in a pool of angst about movies and what appears to be their fraying connection to the pop culture.

        After the shock of last year’s decline in the number of tickets sold for movies domestically, to 1.28 billion, the lowest since 1995 (and attendance is only a little better this year) film business insiders have been quietly scrambling to fix what few will publicly acknowledge to be broken.

        That is, Hollywood’s grip on the popular imagination, particularly when it comes to the more sophisticated films around which the awards season turns

      • UMG Reaches Settlement in Trendsetting Suit Over Digital Revenue from Eminem Songs

        A 2010 ruling in this case led dozens of big-name musicians to sue such corporations as Universal Music Group to collect more money from iTunes sales, ringtones and the like.

      • Marc Randazza Goes To War Against Revenge Porn Site Over Alleged ‘Takedown Lawyer’ Business Model

        Well, well. Last year, there was a lot of attention paid to a so-called “revenge porn” site called “Is Anyone Up”? The site reposted submitted nude photos, linked to the person in the photo’s social networking accounts. The “idea” (a horrific one) was that spurned people, who had naked photos of their ex’s, could publicize them. Not surprisingly, many people were completely horrified by the concept and the media coverage was not kind. The site eventually went down, but others popped up to take their place. Lawyer Marc Randazza has decided to go to war with one of them, which uses the very similar name “Is Anybody Down” (and, no, I’m not linking to it). Randazza points out that he has no problem with porn or porn sites, but when the participants are not consenting (and not necessarily adults) he has serious problems.

      • William Faulkner Estate Sues Washington Post Over Freedom Quote

        A day after Sony is sued over a quote in ‘Midnight in Paris,’ a second copyright infringement lawsuit is filed over a full-page Northrop Grumman ad in the Post.

      • India’s Recording Industry Wants The Power To Take Down Content Without Notification

        What the music industry is interested in is the powers granted by the IT Rules, which allow content to be taken down within 36 hours, without any notice to the content creator or uploader. There’s no doubt many in the content industry would like such a rule to be implemented worldwide, but considering how many bogus DMCA takedowns there are, it would definitely be a bad thing for anyone not protected by the legislation.

      • Megupload User to Court: Hold Government Accountable

        It’s been almost a year since Kyle Goodwin lost access to the lawful property that he stored on Megaupload. EFF, on his behalf, has asked the Court to order his data returned, and, more recently, has also asked the Court to unseal the confidential search warrants surrounding the third-party data at issue. And it appears Mr. Goodwin is making some headway: the Court is at least contemplating holding a hearing to get to the bottom of what really happened when the government shut down Megaupload, seized its assets, and deprived millions of customers of their property.

Linux Heavyweights Speak Out Against Patents

Posted in GNU/Linux, Patents at 1:23 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Rob TillerSummary: Tiller and Zemlin join the movement against patent monopolies that impede development

QUITE a few Linux figures — Torvalds included — speak out against software patents this month. This becomes an urgent matter because of what happens in the market.

Firms whose main or only business is arms trade of patents make their appearance and patent battles go further by targeting increasingly abstract ideas. Consider this from the news:

Patent disputes are nothing new in the technology market, but they have typically centered around consumer product usability and design. Now, IBM partner BrightStar Partners (BSP) is under fire for its work on IBM Cognos analytics software–and the suit comes just as BSP is set to be snapped up by electronic component distributor Avnet. In a world where solving problems seems to always involve lawyers and courtrooms, what does this latest patent problem mean for midsize IT?

Rob Tiller, self-professed “Rock Star”, asks about abolishing software patents — an issue that he and Red Hat have been rather equivocal about (Red Hat follows IBM’s lead). Tiller writes:

The paper by two distinguished professors of economics, Michele Boldrin and David K. Levine, is titled The Case Against Patents. Boldrin and Levine review some of the lamentable realities of the U.S. patent system, including the dramatic increases in issuance of patents that block future innovation, and in the quantity and cost of patent litigation. They also point out that patents are often detrimental to consumer welfare, as once-but-no-longer innovative companies use patents to block competitors.

The corporate press is promoting patents again, only to meet reality check:

CNN Counts Patents, Mistakes Them For Inventiveness

For many years, we’ve pointed out that the research shows that patents are not a proxy for innovation. In fact, they’re not even clearly correlated. There is no link between the amount of innovation and the number of patents received. The only thing that patents seem to spur is… more patents. But… because patents are often falsely associated with innovation and because they’re easy to count, it’s a very easy way for the lazy press (and politicians) to assume that they’re showing how innovative a certain geographic region might be. We’ve actually called CNN out on this lazy trope before, but it hasn’t stopped them from coming right back and posting a silly article about the “most inventive states” based entirely on patent counts.

Patent maximalists infiltrate patent panels, only to be called on it:

We’ve been talking a fair bit about the UN’s International Telecommunications Union (ITU) — the legacy group that’s been around in one form or another for over a century and a half, trying to regulate how telco systems work across national borders. Much of the concern has been about its plans to expand its purview over the internet.

Wired is to start a whole series of articles about the patent problem:

We already know the patent system is broken. And it desperately needs to be fixed: Patents affect and will continue to affect nearly every technology business or product we use. So for the next few weeks, Wired is running a special series of expert opinions – representing perspectives from academia to corporations to other organizations — proposing specific solutions to the patent problem.

Patents are on their agenda as an alternative form of protectionism. Now that Free software is under attack from patents we must make it a priority to tackle this whole issue. Apple is trying to ban Android devices around the world while Google (Motorola) is battling Microsoft in court. Usefully enough, despite funding from IBM, Intel and other promoters of software patents, Mr. Zemlin speaks out against patents (he abstained from that several years ago):

The innovation and collaboration inherent in Linux and open source technologies can also fuel scientific breakthroughs and a burgeoning economy, but that innovation and collaboration is being threatened by a culture of paranoia and exploitation of the U.S. patent system. A recent New York Times story reported that Apple and Google are spending more on patent litigation than on research and development (R&D). The story also pointed to data from Stanford University: $20B has been wasted on patent litigation and patent purchases in just two years – in just the smartphone market.

This starts to illustrate why the U.S. has lost ground in the global science and technology space.

Most importantly and most disturbing, though, is how this culture of paranoia is discouraging our would-be entrepreneurs, the individuals who form the foundation of our economy, who are the most innovative among us, and who understand the power of collaboration. The same New York Times articles tells the story of Michael Phillips who, after spending three decades developing software that began to attract the attention of both Apple and Google, was targeted by a patent owner. At this point in any scenario like this, the options for the entrepreneur are limited: death by lawsuit (go bankrupt trying to pay fight the case) or succumb and turn over all your hard work. In Phillips’ case, he ended up selling his company to the patent holder.

How timely must this lawsuit be. Microsoft’s slaves at Nokia are said to be making Android devices more retarded. There are workarounds though, as “[t]he word “mobile telephone” is mentioned four times in the Nokia patent, but obviously it says nothing about tablets. The wording of the Nokia patent could very well be why Google left the feature off of smartphones. If Android-based phones would have supported multiple users it could have opened up the door to a lawsuit, or even required Google and its partners to pay licensing fees to Nokia. Keep in mind this is just speculation at this point.”

Microsoft’s co-founder is also suing Android with some software patents. Here is the latest on that:

Interval Licensing’s infringement suit against AOL, Apple, Google and Yahoo! moves forward, the stay pending the USPTO reexamination outcome having been lifted. Now it is on to claim construction, and not surprisingly the parties have highly divergent views of what the claims mean or if they mean anything whatsoever (i.e., they are ambiguous).

Watch what Apple has just patented:

Referred to as “Touch screen device, method, and graphical user interface for providing maps, directions, and location-based information,” the patent, which was awarded by the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, describes — as one might expect from the title — the way in which maps, directions, and location-based information are displayed on a touch-screen-equipped device.

Apple has already used such patents offensively. These can be assumed to be a weapon. Techrights will focus on the issue of patents until it’s properly addressed by governments; the goal now is to educate people (voters). Many were smart enough to understand what Novell’s deal with Microsoft was all about.

Microsoft Can’t Understand Security (Lesson for UEFI Apologists)

Posted in Microsoft, Security at 1:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Torvalds on security
Source: MemeGenerator

Summary: Another security blunder leaves Microsoft red-faced, but Red Hat carries on following Microsoft’s UEFI

To Microsoft, “security” does not mean what it means to most of us. It means control. According to this, Microsoft has again proven its inability to reuse simple FOSS packages to secure passwords. The result:

Software used by Microsoft’s New Zealand outpost to register attendees for next week’s TechEd conference has exposed delegates’ passwords to unwelcome scrutiny.

Cross Kiwis have contacted The Reg to point out that emails from a third-party events management company offered a URL which they can click to print a barcode that will offer swift entry to the event.

But the URLs being distributed include passwords that delegates used to create accounts to register for the event. The emails also include a value called “ID” that a sharp-eyed Reg reader messed with and discovered, as said reader told us, “The id=673 appears to be the event (TechED NZ) a quick change of the &key= part of the URL to ‘password’, ‘passw0rd’, etc gave access to other people’s registration details!”

Torvalds said that UEFI would not really aid security, so given that its main function is interfering with Linux, why should Red Hat staff give it a hand? This is not new.

“Security” as pretext for control (domination over a user, not the user’s over a machine) is a subject that fits much of what we cover here, including the portrayal of copying as “piracy” and patents as “defence”. Too much disinformation can make lies a truth (in people’s mind/perception), so we prioritise particular topics. Next up: patents.

Microsoft Financial and Accounting Tricks Investigated by US Senate

Posted in Finance, Microsoft at 12:49 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Capitol place

Summary: Microsoft may be forced to stop cheating shareholders, taxpayers, and the public in general

US politicians recently capitaised on public will to end corporate welfare (tax cuts for the rich) and Microsoft came under fire, as it very much deserves for dodging tax. The matter of fact is, Microsoft had debt and recently it also found itself unable to hide losses.

According to this, the Senate starts taking action:

Microsoft and HP in the hot seat as Senate investigates offshore profit shifting

A hearing on offshore profit shifting last week exposed aggressive tax planning strategies employed by Microsoft and Hewlett-Packard (HP) and illus­trated the critical need for more disclosure.

On September 20, the Senate Permanent Subcom­mittee on Inves­ti­ga­tions held a hearing on “Offshore Profit Shifting and the U.S. Tax Code.” Witnesses from academia, the Internal Revenue Service, U.S. multi­na­tional corpo­ra­tions, inter­na­tional tax and accounting firms and the nonprofit Financial Accounting Stan­dards Board (FASB) answered ques­tions from the Senators about how tax and accounting rules allow U.S. multi­na­tionals to shift profits offshore using dubious trans­ac­tions and compli­cated corporate structures.

The committee looked at two case studies inves­ti­gated by the committee staff. In the Microsoft case, the committee inves­ti­gation found that 55 percent of the company’s profits were “booked” (claimed for accounting purposes) in three offshore tax haven subsidiaries whose employees account for only two percent of its global work­force. Microsoft did that by selling intel­lectual property rights in products developed in the U.S. (and subsi­dized by the research tax credit) to offshore tax haven subsidiaries, then creating trans­ac­tions to shift related profits there.

Where are lawmakers when you need them? Well, some are former Microsoft executives (we named them in the past), so the system was evidently corrupted. Can some form of justice be restored?

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