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11.23.12

Microsoft Jack Back From Retirement to Save Vista 8

Posted in Microsoft, Vista 8, Windows at 6:04 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

ZDNet front page (and menu for all pages)

Vista 8 section

Summary: Microsoft’s troubled operating system monopoly necessitates some biased ‘coverage’ and Microsoft also allows people to get Vista 8 free of charge

The disaster which is Vista 8 is going to cost Microsoft dearly. Microsoft staff talks about it anonymously in the mini-Microsoft blog. Microsoft is buying fake endorsements again and it gave Microsoft Jack [1, 2, 3] some hardware. He’s not as retired as one might think (or as he wants us to think) based on this new article. ZDNet has a seemingly paid-for section again, but we cannot confirm; ZDNet managers don’t want to talk about it. We mentioned Jack’s 'advert' for Vista 8 from the other day; this time he is calling it “great”.

Some said that Microsoft would give Vista 8 for free to save itself. Well, check this out:

Microsoft is letting Windows 8 Pro users upgrade to Media Center for free until January 31st. Neat. But in so doing, it’s handed out a code that will fully activate any copy of Windows 8. Oops. The Verge has even tested it out and is confirming that it works.

Who said it’s a mistake?

“It’s easier for our software to compete with Linux when there’s piracy than when there’s not.”

Bill Gates

European Free Software Activists Fight Against Software Patents Loopholes: Unitary Patent and FRAND

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Eiffel

Summary: Press coverage following worrisome action that jeopardises small software developers in the EU

“Unitary Patent,” say French Free software activists, is “a compromise that excludes the Parliament, the European law and its citizens” and their post says:

n Monday 12th of November, the Legal Affairs Committee (JURI) of the European Parliament held an extraordinary debate about the unitary patent, which was attended by Michel Barnier, the European Commissioner in charge of internal market. According to our sources, he has welcomed with the compromise found in the Council by the Cypriot Presidency. However, and as April highlighted it, this solution infringes the Union Law, and does not provide any democratic safeguard. These questions have been cleared out, even though the Commission is aware about the likely unlawfulness of this project.

Because of this, several MEPs demonstrated only a very limited support to this proposal. Some of the MEPs, such as Eva Lichtenberger (Greens/EFA) or Françoise Castex (Party of European Socialists), even opposed immediately the Council’s new version.

Still, it appears that the text will be submitted again during the next plenary session of the European Parliament on December 11th, 2012, following a vote from the Council of the European Union on December 10th.

The lack of public communication from the European Parliament shows furthermore its lack of haste on this matter: though the debates could not be broadcasted due to a technical difficulty – and on that point the content of the Council’s proposal was in fact not even released1, no official communication was issued by the European Parliament.

It seems like the unitary patent is moving forward, making ways for software patents in Europe. The Irish press wrote about it:

The European Union is readying a way to make the process of obtaining a patent simpler and less expensive, but it could also make it dangerously easy for litigants to block sales of their competitors’ products across the region, according to a French advocacy group.

There is concurrently a loophole called FRAND and it helps bring software patents from a back door. The founder of the FSFE spoke about it yesterday. His slides are online.

Presentation at Nov 22nd workshop at EC workshop on FRAND and Open Source by Kolab Systems AG.

FRAND is being promoted by Microsoft and proprietary software allies. We must fight back.

USPTO and SCOTUS Abducted by Corporations

Posted in Patents at 5:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Factory scene

Summary: Complaints about the US patent systems rise to stage or press level because of nanotechnology and software professionals, as well as the arrogant words of the IBMer who oversees the USPTO; SCOTUS too is shown to have lost its objectivity

The words of Kappos are doing him no favours, just as we expected. One radio site says:

The director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office offered a forceful defense of his agency and of the patentability of software amid an ongoing debate over whether software ought to be entitled to patent protection.

While USPTO chief David Kappos acknowledged software is a challenging topic, critics need to let the system work as various updates to the nations’ patent laws come into effect, he said Tuesday in a speech at the Center for American Progress

“Stallman’s got company,” says another article as “researcher wants nanotech patent moratorium” (we covered this days ago). To quote the article:

Software patents have long been contentious things, but patents in other areas of science are also becoming frequent subjects of editorials and court cases, with biotech and genomics making it to the Supreme Court. Now, if an editorial in Nature is to be believed, nanotechnology is set to become the latest patent battleground.

Joshua Pearce is a professor at Michigan Technological University, and he very explicitly argues for taking an open-source and open-access approach to nanotechnology research. But he also goes well beyond that, calling for a patent moratorium and a gutting of the law that governs tech transfers from government-funded university research. At stake, he argues, is the growth of a field that could be generating trillions of dollars of economic activity within a few years.

There is systemic corruption at the USPTO, which comes to sight in terms of revolving doors (Kappos came from IBM). The SCOTUS too [1, 2] got corrupted by corporate interests, as this look at history reveals:

On November 20, 1972, the Supreme Court handed down its first ruling on the patentability of software. In Gottschalk v. Benson, the Supreme Court invalidated a patent on a method for converting numbers from one binary format to another, “The mathematical formula involved here has no substantial practical application except in connection with a digital computer,” wrote Justice Douglas for a unanimous court. That, in his view, meant that the patent would “wholly pre-empt the mathematical formula and in practical effect would be a patent on the algorithm itself.” Mathematical algorithms are not eligible for patent protection, so the Supreme Court invalidated the patent.

Of course, a similar argument could be made about any software patent. A computer program is nothing more than a sequence of mathematical operations—a complex mathematical formula. Therefore, any patent that claims a method of solving a problem by programming a general-purpose computer is, like the patent the high court struck down 40 years ago, effectively a patent on a mathematical algorithm.

TechDirt wrote about it too:

Over at Forbes, Tim Lee has reminded us that it’s the 40th anniversary of the case in which the Supreme Court really banned software patents, arguing that they were really just math, and you can’t patent math. That case, Gottschalk v. Benson, had been seen to suggest that software programs, by themselves, could not be covered by patents.

We are not alone in pointing out that SCOTUS serves corporate interests now, and not just when it comes to patents.

Microsoft Florian Deceives on Anti-Android Case Which is Being Derailed

Posted in Apple, FUD, GNU/Linux, Google at 5:21 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A handshake

Summary: The largest patent case against Android (bar Oracle) is facing a setback as the judge orders Apple to undo an NDA, contrary to FUD from mobbyists

After some wrong speculations (FUD) about the HTC settlement with Apple we learn about Samsung’s attempt to look at the settlement:

There’s a hearing suddenly called by the magistrate judge, Hon. Paul Grewal, in the Apple v Samsung post-verdict trial. It’s about unsealing the Apple/HTC license agreement mostly — here’s Apple’s response [PDF] to that motion — but there are other requests to seal various filings and some disputes about things already filed as well. Samsung wants to do more depositions and more briefing in regard to Apple’s motion for a judgment as a matter of law, for example. The hearing is set for noon today, and the lawyers can do it by phone. So it’s likely going on right now as we speak.

Part of the reason for the hearing, aside from a speedier resolution, is that there is some question about why there is a motion to unseal the HTC agreement.

The liar for hire, Microsoft Florian, is wrong about it, saying it would not be possible while deceiving journalists to have them quote him.

Here is a response to his FUD:

That appears to be incorrect information, judging from the actual stipulation language filed in this US litigation between the parties. What might the explanation be? Maybe what he found is an authentic copy and, not being a lawyer or trained in US law in any way, he just misunderstood it? What else might be inaccurate in the account, then? Maybe it’s an earlier draft? Maybe the stipulation is wrong? (I doubt that very much, but I’m listing all the possibilities I can think of.) Maybe I’m misreading something? We’ll have to wait and see. Perhaps FOSSPatents can tell the world the source of the version he obtained, so we can get to the bottom of it.

Just trying to keep up with all the misinformation out there. Sooooo much of it. This is why I rarely get a day off and never got to actually retire. The misinformation seems to never quit, and with legal coverage — as opposed to propaganda, headline seeking or covering the Kardashians — accuracy is vital.

My advice is simple: rely on what you find on PACER or on checkable information. If you can’t check it yourself, how do you know it’s so? That is why I always give you a way to check.

If you wish to check the case, it’s docket number 1:11-cv-00785-GMS, the GMS standing for the judge’s initials.

Swapnil Bhartiya shows that Samsung succeeded:

Once you reach the peak of a mountain the only way to go is down. And bad news keeps coming for Apple. Samsung has now won a very important motion against the iPad maker which allows Android giant to see the patent agreement Apple recently signed with HTC.

It doesn’t mean you me or Samsung executives will get to see these documents. It’s highly confidential and its for the eyes of Samsung lawyers only.

Just to refresh your memory, Apple and HTC recently settled all their legal disputes and signed a “broad ten-year licensing agreement”. The details of the agreement were confidential.

Here is the original which everyone is citing:

The magistrate judge, the Hon. Paul Grewal, in Apple v. Samsung has ruled after today’s emergency hearing, and Samsung’s motion to compel Apple to turn over the agreement it just entered into with HTC was granted.

So the media articles that referenced FOSSPatents and wrote that the Samsung motion was mooted because Samsung had agreed to accept a redacted version were flat out wrong on the facts. The motion was not only not mooted, it went to oral argument today, and Samsung won. And that’s not all it won.

Samsung also strikes back hard:

What do you do when fate (and the legal system) deals you a cruel hand, and you’re seemingly proven an intellectual thief? Do you retreat, accept your defeat and move on, or do you try to strike back with the enemy’s own weapons?

That was Samsung’s dilemma back in August, after it was found guilty of infringing a number of Apple patents; the decision was easy – strong defense and then deadly counterattack.

We haven’t heard much lately about the status of Samsung’s defense (i.e. the appeal) in the California trial, but we’re getting more info about the counterattack. After last week we’ve seen the iPhone 5 included in the list of allegedly infringing Apple products, we’re now hearing about other devices added to the list.

It sure looks like Apple’s patent war on Android is not paying off.

Kaspersky Complains About the Patent System

Posted in Patents, Security at 4:59 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Eugene Kaspersky

Summary: The CEO of an insecurity company says that patent trolls are hurting all of us

WE previously wrote about patent monopolies on medical treatments and ways to secure people’s systems. With patents, the priority is not the public, it’s private benefit for those who often just game the system.”I would much rather spend my time and money and energy finding ways to make the Internet safer and better than bickering over patents,” said Dean Drako, Barracuda’s CEO and Eugene Kaspersky, CEO of Kaspersky Lab has this to say today:

Patent trolls and their effect on security

[...]

The rise of the non-practicing entity (NPE) has been an especially troubling development. NPEs are firms that usually acquire patents from a range of different fields for the sole purpose of generating profit through either litigation or licensing through the threat of lawsuit.

The wide range of patents, the vague wording present in their descriptions, and the ease with which they may be applied makes it difficult for a company to defend its innovations. As a result, many companies have become more reticent toward development out of fear that they could become a target for costly lawsuits.

This anxiety has translated into a decreased desire to take the kind of risks necessary to facilitate technological breakthroughs. Technology, by its very definition, requires innovation. And without funding, the march toward new and improved products will be hindered.

Therein lays the problem: If companies and even governments can’t evolve their protective capabilities in line with the intensifying advances of cyber criminals, then the security of some of our most precious information will become increasingly vulnerable.

It is inevitable that companies that are forced to allocate more money to defending against often-spurious claims will have a decreased ability to invest in innovation. This is the opening that potential cyber terrorists need to pursue their reprehensible goals.

Cyber terrorists often don’t pursue material gains, and therefore are largely unaffected by the hindrances of cost and convention. The vastness of the internet also means that, like the mythical Hydra, the removal of one head will more than likely spawn two replacements. It then becomes a moral argument for those who wish to exploit patents without contributing to the very market from which they are benefiting.

This is not just a trolls problem, it is a patent problem. We wrote about Kaspersky before.

Links 23/11/2012: Linux Mint 14 Released & Reviewed, Replicant 4.0

Posted in News Roundup at 10:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • The history of Linux: how time has shaped the penguin
  • The Linux’s perception of my neighbours

    I’ve always presented myself as a Linux geek to my neighbours and it has been nice seeing how the Linux word evolved (with funny and surprising quotes) during the past ten years in their minds. A friend of mine (Aretha Battistutta) made a little comic strip out of the topic and the result is simply amazing.

  • Desktop

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Podcast Season 4 Episode 22

      In this episode: Linux Mint 14 has been released. Planet KDE does awesome work. There’s an OpenStreetMap map-a-thon. Australia’s government is TLD-shy. Red Hat invests in MongoDB, there may be life on Mars, Apple will have to reveal how much HTC is paying it, and the UEFI saga is turning nasty. Hear our non-audio related discoveries, and your own brains and opinions in the Open Ballot.

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • KDE 4.10 Beta 1 Released

        The KDE project has announced the release of first beta for its renewed Workspaces, Applications, and Development Platform 4.10.

        Post this release the team will now focus on bug fixing and further polishing new and old functionality as the API, dependency and feature freezes is already in place.

        So, what’s new in KDE SC 4.10?
        With this release KDE is introducing a brand new Screen Locker, a new screen locking mechanism, which is based on QtQuick brings and offers more flexibility and security to Plasma Desktop. It also introduces a new print manager which makes improves setting up of printers and monitoring jobs.

      • Archiving on Kmail
      • Let’s hear it for Konqueror

        My browser of choice on the desktop has been Firefox for many years. Firefox uses the Gecko rendering engine. As a backup Web browser I use Konqueror but configured to use WebKit, rather than KHTML, as the rendering engine. I’ve tried Chromium, Opera, Midori, rekonq, SeaMonkey and a bunch of others, but always found them lacking in some way in comparison to Firefox (I find Opera Mobile better than Firefox for Android on my mobile phone, though).

    • GNOME Desktop

      • GNOME 3 Fallback Makes a Comeback, of Sorts

        It was recently announced that GNOME 3.8 would not be including the GNOME 2 fallback mode. This had a lot of folks a bit concerned. Apparently it was used more than GNOME developers figured. Not wanting to go backwards, Matthias Clasen has thought of a way that may pacify users of the departing fallback mode.

        Clasen posted to a GNOME mailing list today that he thinks using some community extensions to bring back GNOME 2-like features is the answer. He said exactly, “we have a pretty awesome extension mechanism in gnome-shell (extensions.gnome.org), and there are a ton of extensions out there which allow users to bring back many of the ‘classic’ UX elements.”

      • GNOME Shell to support a “classic” mode
      • GNOME Proves It Can Listen

        I’m referring, of course, to Matthias Clasen’s announcement that, having dropped fallback mode, GNOME will support a core of extensions that will recreate the GNOME 2 interface.

        This announcement marks a major reversal of GNOME’s policy. For the past two years, the project has officially defended the radical redesign introduced by GNOME 3, making few — if any — acknowledgments of users’ complaints.

        In fact, eighteen months ago, influential members of GNOME were arguing against encouraging extensions for GNOME Shell at all. For instance, Allan Day, one of the leading designers of the GNOME 3, wrote in a discussion on the gnome-shell list:

      • GNOME Forums are coming!

        I can’t say much more than whats in the title just yet, but I thought I’d give everyone a heads up – forums for GNOME users, developers, etc are in the works! Hopefully soon we’ll be building a community of users, contributors and other interested folks to make GNOME better than ever! Stay tuned!

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Phones

      • Jolla’s Sailfish Rises From MeeGo’s Ashes As Company Signs First Carrier Deal With DNA

        Jolla – the startup built by the team behind the smartphone OS that Nokia abandoned in favor of Windows Phone — revealed its first big smartphone customer deal today, the mobile operator DNA of Finland. Jolla also gave a first look at the UI of Sailfish, the mobile operating system they’ve created from the remnants of Nokia’s MeeGo project, and released an SDK.

      • Android

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Best 7-inch tablets for Black Friday buyers

        I prefer the smaller tablets because I find them to simply fit me better. For me, tablets are primarily for consuming data. I watch videos on them, I read books on them, I use them for Web-browsing, and I use them for e-mail. If you want to use a tablet for a work, you really want a full-sized tablet such as the iPad 4, Nexus 10, or a Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1. Me? I’ll use a laptop. For sheer enjoyment though give me a mini-tablet any day of the week.

        Let’s get the bad news out of the way first. No one is really offering “deals” on any of the top 7″ tablets except for the Amazon Kindle Fire HD. For all the rest, expect to pay full price. That said, you should look for bargains on such accessories as the microSD cards for more storage and cases.

      • Nook HD and HD+ Now on Sale in the UK

        The Nook HD and the HD+ can now be brought in the UK with prices starting at 159 English pounds. People who have pre-ordered can expect theirs any day now through the post.

      • Kobo Joins In With Black Friday

Free Software/Open Source

  • Saying thanks to the open source community
  • Open source developers Catalyst and Egressive combine forces

    Catalyst IT has taken over fellow open source developer, Christchurch-based Egressive.

    Egressive will formally become Catalyst’s South Island branch from the end of this month (November).

    The takeover is friendly, says Egressive director Dave Lane. “In fact it would be fair to say we initiated the process.” The company had grown its business to the point where its small staff had as much work as they could handle, he says, and it was limited by its location.

  • DreamWorks makes ‘Rise of the Guardians’ special effects tool open source

    Yesterday DreamWorks released its latest animated feature with the holiday-themed Rise of the Guardians. But for animators who watch the film and wish they could do something similar, there’s good news — one of the tools used on the project is free and open source. Called OpenVDB, the tool is used to create volumetric 3D effects like smoke, and DreamWorks previously used it on both Puss in Boots and Madagascar 3: Europe’s Most Wanted. The studio’s hope is that by making OpenVDB free, it will eventually become an industry standard. “That ends up benefiting us,” DreamWorks’ David Prescott told the Wall Street Journal.

  • Dreamworks open sources animation software
  • Open Source Virtualization
  • Events

  • SaaS

  • Databases

    • Teaching students to work on state of the art NoSQL databases

      In a recent post, I introduced an initiative, along with Dima Kassab, for teaching open source NoSQL databases. We collaborated to prepare course materials for three NoSQL databases to 22 students at the Informatics Department of SUNY Albany, and we made all those material available under a Creative Commons by Attribution License.

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • Upstream vendors can harm small projects: OpenBSD dev

      A senior OpenBSD developer has complained on a mailing list that upstream vendors of free and open source software are adding in changes without any thought of whether downstream users could adapt to the change.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Linux brings over €10 million savings for Munich

      Over €10 million (approximately £8 million or $12.8 million) has been saved by the city of Munich, thanks to its development and use of the city’s own Linux platform. The calculation of savings follows a question by the city council’s independent Free Voters (Freie Wähler) group, which led to Munich’s municipal LiMux project presenting a comparative budget calculation at the meeting of the city council’s IT committee on Wednesday. The calculation compares the current overall cost of the LiMux migration with that of two technologically equivalent Windows scenarios: Windows with Microsoft Office and Windows with OpenOffice. Reportedly, savings amount to over €10 million.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Make Magazine editors demonstrate 21st century collaboration

      Collaboration is changing. Gone are the days of excuses for not collaborating, like “we work better in person,” or “we’re in different time zones.” Technology makes it easy to work together. It’s simple and it’s free (assuming you have a computer, webcam, and internet connection).

      The editors of Make Magazine are a good example of 21st century collaboration. They recently held their first public “editor hangout” using Google Hangout. The Make editors are scattered across the country, yet this Google Hangout brings all of them together. Google Hangouts are really cool because you can see all of the members at the bottom, and the person speaking is automatically highlighted in a larger video screen.

    • Open Access/Content

      • Dr. Fields At The Huffington Post Is Wrong On Open Access

        Dr. Douglas Fields penned an article at Huffington Post on open access. There are so many factual errors, false analogies and misleading statements in this article, that I need to highlight just few of the ‘wrongest’ statements

    • Open Hardware

  • Programming

    • Google announces open source contest for students

      Did you know how many times you use some open source software in a day? No clue? Each time you access a Web site, use an app (application) or play a game, you use one or more open source software.

      How about creating one? Google, the digital media and search engine company, has announced Google Code-in contest for students in the age group of 13 and 17 years.

      Beginning November 26, contests can work on 10 different open source organisations, taking part in certain online tasks to win prizes.

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