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Links 6/1/2013: Steam Extending Games Sale, CIA Whistleblower Blown

Posted in News Roundup at 12:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • The Linux Setup – Miriam Ruiz, Debian Developer/Engineer

    Another Debian developer! Miriam has a low-drama setup. She simply uses Debian to do what she needs to do. I find it interesting that she desktop hops a bit (she’s now working with GNOME), but at the same time, it’s very cool that she’s open to trying new desktop environments. In general, her setup seems to be evolving over time, which is inspiring to those of us who are a bit entrenched in our own workflows.

  • Desktop

    • How Windows 8 has opened up a Window for Linux World Domination

      Earlier this year, Windows 8 was launched with great expectations. Microsoft banked on it to be a game-changer both for the tablet world as well as the desktop computer world. According to Redmond, the latest iteration of the most popular operating system in the world is a bridge between the tablet and the desktop. With a sleek, redesigned, and touch-friendly interface, Windows 8 was all set to become yet another milestone for Microsoft.

      However, Steve Ballmer’s expectations were crushed when the early reviews didn’t turn out to be that good. Windows 8, along with its contentious Metro interface, was criticized for its lack of usability and confusing design. Many users posted videos of their friends and family having a hard time figuring out how to use the software. In fact, the dramatic departure from the familiar Start-button oriented user interface has irked many users.

    • The Dell XPS 13 Ubuntu Edition

      Over the last year or so I’ve managed to divest myself of most of my Apple products in a project I call #noapple. The last remaining piece of Apple equipment I used frequently was an 11-inch MacBook Air (MBA) that I would dual boot with OS X and Ubuntu.

      I was able to use it mainly booted to Ubuntu, but there were certain things that were a little bothersome. For example, the trackpad driver under Ubuntu wasn’t nearly as smooth as it was under OS X, and it was extremely sensitive, having little of what is called “palm detection”. Quite frequently, in the middle of typing something, the cursor would jump to some random part of the document when my palm barely brushed the trackpad.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

  • Distributions

    • Screenshots

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu Phone Spotted in a Bar, Supposedly

            Ubuntu on phones is a bold move from Canonical and they will need a lot of money for the marketing campaign. They can also start by forgetting or taking pictures of their phones in a bar, somewhere.

            This is a really old tactic and it’s not really effective anymore. Forgetting or spotting a phone in a bar might have been interesting a few years ago, but so many other companies did it that it’s no longer an effecting tool.

          • Android Central 121: CES preview, Ubuntu is back(ish)
          • Saturday’s Big Question: Is the Ubuntu phone for you?
          • Ubuntu Phone System Requirements

            Ubuntu Phone OS has been unveiled and it has received pretty stellar response so far. If you didn’t see it in action yet, check out the video below.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Netrunner 12.12 review – Starts low, ends high

              Netrunner 12.12 is not a perfect distro. But it is so much better than what its live session can give you. In fact, this is probably the most critical part, because people often judge distributions and decide whether to use them based on the few minutes of live CD testing. And considering what Netrunner can offer you, you might almost be tempted to give it a pass. But do not.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • The CuBox Pro Is An Open-Source Computer That Measures 2-inches Cubed

      If you’re a computer enthusiast and you’re not content with buying ready-to-use computers off the shelf and you don’t mind tinkering around the operating system, then open-source computer systems are probably the sort of device you’re after. Well if you are you might be interested to learn that SolidRun has taken the wraps off their latest offering, the CuBox Pro which is an upgrade over its predecessor and comes with 2GB of DDR3 RAM on board, which according to its creators makes it the world’s first ARM-based open source development platform to support 2GB of DDR3 RAM. The CuBox Pro will measure 2-inches cube and weighs 91grams and comes in either high polish or matte finish.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Android Appalooza: Take note

          Now that the new year is here, you might be feeling a little crazy trying to organize all of those resolutions in your head. I’ve always found that jotting down those thoughts helps with the process of putting goals into action. Fortunately, there are plenty of apps available in the Google Play Store that offer this sort of thing: a place for Android users to put down their streams of consciousness, store photos that haven’t been archived, or leave a mental note.


Public Radio International One of the Latest Media Outlets to be Bribed by Bill Gates for Whitewash, Lobbying, and Propaganda

Posted in Bill Gates, Deception, Marketing at 8:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Felons buy a “hero” status

Microsoft Jack

Summary: Bill Gates just got $7,000,000,000 richer (in 2012) while the press he had paid portrayed him as a generous giver

I generally still cover the Gates Foundation, but I do so mostly in Identi.ca due to lack of time (dents are short). This news report merits special attention because it helps keep track of future mouthpieces for Bill Gates:

The BILL AND MELINDA GATES FOUNDATION has given a two-year, $1.6 million grant to PUBLIC RADIO INTERNATIONAL. The funding is intended for a “major initiative to raise awareness, understanding and engagement around critical issues of health and development worldwide,” according to a press release from PRI, which is including the reporting from the project on its syndicated public radio show “PRI’S THE WORLD.” The GATES FOUNDATION has been supporting initiatives at PRI since 2004.

Just like The Guardian, BBC [1, 2, 3], PBS and many others, the bribe or sellout is described euphemistically. Smart people can see through it. It is estimated that Gates spends a million dollars a day just buying the press, i.e. assuring favourable coverage of his agenda. In other news, Gates got seven billion dollars richer last year. So much for “giving away” his wealth. He has a tax-exempt investment company because he paints it “charity”. Buying the press to manufacture consent? That’s just slush funds to him. It’s part of the business model of the Rockefellers, too.

USPTO Denies the Option of Eliminating Software Patents and Other Controversial Patents

Posted in America, Patents at 8:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Java logo

Summary: Fake choice offered by the USPTO in another meaningless public consultation

The farcical USPTO deals with “swpat [shorthand for software patents] and functional claims,” says one FFII person about this USPTO hearing. Henrion, the FFII’s president, says in response that the “USPTO already set the agenda here, substantive patent law is off topic.” He is right.

As we noted the other day, quantity over quality is the implicit motto at the Office. They get more money for lowering the bar. So many comments were posted regarding reports like this one, probably in vain (the USPTO is an echo chamber, with strong resistance to facts and public will):

In an announcement yesterday in the Federal Register the US Patent and Trademark Office invited the public to participate in a “software partnership” next month to “enhance the quality of software-related patents.”

Their very existence is a problem, not their “quality”. Neil McAllister, who now writes for the British press, says that “US Patent Office seeks public input on software patents’ future”. To quote the body of his article: “The agency says it would like input from software developers and the public as to what level of detail and specificity should be required in a software patent application to meet the definition of a “quality” patent – that is, one that clearly states what is covered.”

“This is a good example of rigged debates, where the option of banning software patents does not even exist (akin to Republicans vs. Democrats debates where the important issues are totally off the table).”This is a good example of rigged debates, where the option of banning software patents does not even exist (akin to Republicans vs. Democrats debates where the important issues are totally off the table). Pamela Jones wrote about this too. Yes, legal folks too realise this and regarding a piece from Julie Samuels (at a pro-patents site), Pamela Jones writes: “This is very sensible except for one thing, and it’s like a pimple on the nose. Algorithms are mathematics. Period. Mathematics are not supposed to be patentable subject matter. Thus, this suggestion works against helping the courts to understand that simple and unchangeable truth, dividing the question instead into “good” patentable mathematics versus “bad” and unpatentable mathematics. And over time, you will regret endorsing patentable math.”

Here is a US company arguing against the notion that abstract ideas and principles should be patentable:

San Francisco online real estate company Trulia has filed its initial response to Zillow’s patent lawsuit, arguing that the case should be dismissed because the business method in question — Zillow’s online home valuation tool known as the Zestimate — is not patentable.

How about design and shape patents as they are described in here:

Stockton says design patents also pack more of a damages punch than regular patents because, if they are infringed, a court must award damages based on the value of the whole invention — not just a patented feature.

It looks like sooner or later companies and people will rebel against the USPTO, whose main function became to serve trolls, lawyers, and monopolists (multinationals). Remember the rounded rectangles which Apple claims to ‘own’? How does monopolising it improve anything? Appearance should not be patentable. Sometimes even the multinationals suffer (turf wars), as seen here in the news:

While lots of folks have been declaring the 3D movie obsession dead for a while now, the studios still love 3D movies. In this age where they’re looking for ways to create formulaic premium experiences that get people to go out to the theaters, they seem to have jumped on the 3D bandwagon full force. Of course, as with all things Hollywood embraces too strongly, that’s now leading to backlash, mainly because rather than do it well and where it makes sense, the big studios are basically just looking to add 3D to whatever they can and hope people will pay the premium. It’s a short term strategy, but Hollywood execs aren’t exactly known for their long term outlooks.

…Or even the benefit to the public. The bottom line is, patents make society far worse off.

Linus Torvalds once said: “People disagree with me. I just ignore them.” Patent lawyers, including the USPTO, are pretty much the same. So it’s time to get more assertive in fighting them. They’re not listening anyway. They deflect criticism using various means and PR instruments; the latest hearing is one such instrument.

Apple Has Always Been Shameless About Lying on Innovation

Posted in Apple, Patents at 7:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Not producing, not innovating

Summary: How Apple uses the plutocratic and bureaucratic US system to discriminate against and block Asian brands that it actually imitated

Branding giant Apple is not innovative where it claims innovation. It’s all just marketing. It takes determination to show this technically and patent re-examination is where the victim of a bad decision of USPTO along with aggression from the applicant puts the burden of proper examination on the victim, who then needs to spend money accumulating proof of prior art or pay lawyers to explain triviality etc. In simpler terms, it’s only when bogus patents get weaponised that we find out how bogus they really are. This makes USPTO a corruptible, SLAPP-like tool (damaging too) where all the burden of proof is put on victims, including smaller players such as the Taiwan-based HTC. One prominent lawyer says:

Apple should be forced to release its settlement with HTC now, in uncensored, unredacted form. Full disclosure should be the norm in patent lawsuits between competitors. If transparency means that tech companies, fearful of having to disclose their financial secrets, refrain from initiating new patent litigation, well, so much the better.

Samsung, unlike HTC, has a lot of patents and a pro-Apple site says it retaliates to deter Apple (which started this patent war):

According to a South Korean news site, Samsung has launched a patent-infringement lawsuit in Korea against Apple over the iOS version of Notification Center, saying it violates their patent. The feature, which debuted almost two years ago, is also similar (but not identical) to an Android feature called Status Bar for which Google recently received a US patent. Apple most recently brought the Notification Center over to the Mac in OS X Mountain Lion.

Due to court discrimination (nationalism in the press and in government agencies like the US ITC), Samsung is going out of the US for deterrence. Apple, the original aggressor in the turf wars, keeps blackmailing with lawsuits in the US:

iPhone maker withdraws infringement allegations in exchange for assurances that Samsung will not market the smartphone in the U.S.

Remember that Apple originally ripped off east Asian companies. As this news reminder goes:

Above you’ll see a rather drab (by today’s standards) looking machine tagged with the name “Apple Snow White 1 Sony Style” from 1982. Of this design Esslinger writes, “Concept 1 was defined by ‘what sony would do if it built computers’. I didn’t like this idea, as it could create conflicts with Sony, but Steve insisted. He felt that sony’s simple cool design language should be a good benchmark, and Sony was the current pacesetter in making high-tech consumer products smarter, smaller and more portable.”

“And now Apple sues Samsung,” writes Pamela Jones, noting the obvious.

“We’ve always been shameless about stealing great ideas.”

Steve Jobs

FRAND is Fraud, Anticompetitive

Posted in Microsoft, Patents, RAND at 7:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Taxing through so-called ‘standards’ that are thorny


Summary: Why all FRAND — in practical Microsoft’s and Apple’s — is not acceptable and must be rethought, abolished

Microsoft found a friendly setting in its back yard, Seattle, never mind the reality of the situation. Microsoft abuses FRAND terms, but it’s only Motorola that gets punished in Seattle. Double standards much? As Pamela Jones put it:

Motorola has now filed with the US District Court in Seattle its Post-Trial Brief, on the topic of what it feels Microsoft should pay for its use of Motorola’s RAND patents. Microsoft has filed its brief [PDF] as well. Both sides have also filed their proposed Findings of Fact and Conclusions of Law. Here’s Motorola’s (168 pages) and here is Microsoft’s (139 pages), both PDFs.

“This talk reveals how silly the FRAND disputes are,” writes Jones about Rob Reid’s TED talk. “Even if you could reduce the price of all FRAND patents, you still couldn’t afford to build a phone if every patent owner got a cut. The complainers about FRAND patent royalties want an edge, so their utility patents cost more and Android vendors with FRAND patents are left at a distinct disadvantage.”

As noted in our daily links, the FTC decided to back away from Google, despite Microsoft lobbying. It’s not just about search; it is also about patents:

US v. Google is not going to be the tech trial of the decade. Today the government has wrapped up a wide-ranging investigation of the search giant’s practices in both its core search business, and its use of standards-based patents. No major charges will be brought.

They mean standard-essential patents and refer vaguely to FRAND. Apple and Microsoft hypocritically complain about FRAND and try using this talking point against Google, even though it’s Apple and Microsoft that abuse FRAND the most, not Motorola. An article composed by Andy Updegrove says more about it.

FRAND as a whole should be banned. The problem is when retaliatory legal action is selective applied, as in Seattle. There is a lot of nationalism/xenophobia and nepotism at play. We’ll deal with that in the next post again.

Vista 8 Worse Than Vista, So Microsoft Must Block Competition to Save Windows

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Vista, Vista 8, Windows at 7:22 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Dead-end company

Summary: More UEFI stories and some numbers which show even Vista outpacing Vista 8 in terms of adoption

WE are looking for more UEFI stories as part of an attempt to show how anticompetitive it really is.

Jamie Watson, a Brit, experienced yet more problems when he tested distributions on new hardware which is improperly marked:

I’ve been trying to set up multi-booting with Windows 8 and Linux – with limited success.


I have a difficult time even finding out from the pre-sales technical information if a system has EFI boot or not, much less whether it is configurable or not.

Here is another new story about UEFI issues. It sure looks like Microsoft is eager to prevent Linux and GNU from gaining ground by persuading hardware makers to restrict what can be booted. There is no denying the fact that Vista 8 is a failure, worse even than Vista based on some new numbers that are charted here:

Windows 8 usage uptake has slipped behind Vista’s in the same point in its release. Windows 8 online usage share is around 1.6% of all Windows PC’s which is less than the 2.2% share that Windows Vista commanded at the same two month mark after release.

The source of this data is moreover close to Microsoft (and partly funded by it). We wrote about it in:

When even a Microsoft booster is saying negative things about Vista 8 adoption, then you know if might even be worse than claimed and reported. But what seems to be under-reported is the degree to which Microsoft is screwing with GNU/Linux installations. That needs to change.

“We all know Linux is great… it does infinite loops in 5 seconds.” -Linus Torvalds about the superiority of Linux on the Amterdam Linux Symposium

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