Richard Stallman Explains Why We Need the Four Freedoms

Posted in Audio/Video, FSF at 5:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: New audio from Swapnil Bhartiya

Links 21/3/2013:Ubuntu to Halve Support Length, Valve Share for GNU/Linux Climbs

Posted in News Roundup at 12:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Desktop

    • You Can Now Avoid M$’s Tax At Best Buy

      For years all you could buy at Best Buy was Wintel for personal computing. Now, there’s Android/Linux and Chrome OS, both Linux operating systems and owing nothing to M$.

    • Google Chromebook rolling out in more countries
    • Google Expands Chromebooks’ Geographic Availability

      Google (NSDQ: GOOG) is opening up geographic availability of the Acer, Hewlett-Packard (NYSE: HPQ) and Samsung Chromebooks to Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands to consumers, businesses and schools, according to a company blog post.

      “Many of you around the world have told us you’re eager to get your hands on a Chromebook, so we’ve been working with our partners to make this possible,” wrote Caesar Sengupta, Google Product Management director. “Today we’re happy to say we’re one step closer to making Chromebooks truly “for everyone” — or rather, pour tout le monde, für alle, and voor iedereen.”

    • Chromebooks for EVERYONE

      It’s happening. Chromebooks officially go on sale today in several countries which opens the floodgates for sales to those who thus far haven’t been able have this popular, easy to use Internet Appliance.

    • Chromebooks now available globally, almost

      Linux will soon be ‘dominating’ the consumer PC space, thanks to Google’s Chromebook (and Android) which runs Gentoo-based Chrome OS. Google is taking its’ Chromebooks globally, and these devices are now available in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands.

      Caesar Sengupta, Product Management Director of Google says, “Starting Tuesday, the Acer, HP and Samsung Chromebooks will begin rolling out in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Ireland and the Netherlands. To help improve computing for organizations, we’re rolling out Chromebooks to businesses and schools in these same countries as well. Learn more on our Enterprise blog.”

    • Tiger Direct

      So far I’ve turned it on, activated Windows (yuck), verified the correct size of RAM and hard disk, and verified that the Ethernet and sound ports work. I had a moment’s dismay when Windows reported that it could not write a DVD, but I remembered something about having to install additional software — device drivers, perhaps? — for that, so I booted Linux from a “live” USB stick, and found that Linux will happily write a DVD. I need to run a RAM test, and hard drive diagnostics, but so far the hardware looks solid.

      This weekend I hope to have time to re-partition the hard drive and install Linux…and put an end to a nearly-three-month quest.

    • Chrome OS and the Cloak of Unhackability

      “Hackers have a hard enough time with a full version of Linux, let alone a pared down version with only a secured browser running as the interface,” said Linux Rants blogger Mike Stone. “All the potential options from Linux? They are gone. The hackers couldn’t get in when they were there — they have no hope of getting in now.”

  • Server

    • The Best Servers for Linux in 2013

      Linux may be reaching new heights every day in desktop and mobile computing, but if there’s any domain in which its might has long been undisputed, it’s servers.

      To wit: Linux is now used to run about a third of all websites, W3Techs reports. Linux servers in general now represent 20.4 percent of all server revenue, according to IDC. Then, of course, there’s supercomputing, in which it claims a full 94 percent of the world’s Top 500.

  • Audiocasts/Shows

  • Kernel Space

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • A Memory Comparison of Light Linux Desktops

      After I install a new version of Linux, I usually take a good look at the screen. Does it have a task bar? Can you find your window after it was minimized? Lately, some developers have been struck by some sort of amnesia brought on by the stress created by the mobile sector offerings.

      Fortunately, in Linux we do have plenty of other choices. I will describe some of them in this article, and I’ll attempt to measure the RAM memory requirements. I use free command in an xterm before and after the graphic environment is started on a separate X server (Xephyr). The computer is an older 64-bit machine, running Ubuntu 12.04 with LXDE as desktop environment.

    • K Desktop Environment/KDE SC/Qt

      • Plasma Media Center – Release One

        We are proud to announce the first release (1.0.0) of Plasma Media Center. Built on Plasma and KDE technologies. Designed to offer a rich experience to media enthusiasts.

      • Comparing Qt’s QML vs. Enlightenment’s EFL
      • Simple QML vs EFL comparison

        Recently I found this blog post about complete minesweeper clone – elemines – based on Enlightenment Foundation Libraries. As EFL are designed to efficiently work even on PDAs, I came up with an idea to implement similar clone in plain QML/Javascript (QmlMiner) and perform simple comparative analysis. I wondered how the QML version would compare with the EFL one.
        Following areas were analyzed:

        1. Developer experience
        2. Source code size and used languages
        3. Memory consumption
        4. Startup time

        The comparison was concluded with a limited performance check.
        You can look at it from many angles. Just note that I was comparing virtual-machine-based runtime (Qt4/QML – QtQuick 1.1, JavaScript) with EFL app that is coded in C and compiled into a native binary to see how much advantage the low-level C programming has over more modern technology such as QML.

      • Starting preparations for Qt 5.1
    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GTK+ 3.7.14 Fixes a Lot of File Chooser Button Issues
      • 3.8… clocks, gedit, more…

        gnome 3.8 is on track to be released on time as usual (the release candidate will be out later today): it’s a great incremental release with improvements all over the place, but I’ll let the release notes speak.

        For my own part, I put my fingers here and there either making patches or trying to help (annoy?) people doing the real hard work with reviews and suggestions.

      • GNOME 3.8 – Jon McCann talks of future in GNOME

        The GNOME Project is proud to announce the imminent release of GNOME 3.8 in less than two weeks. As with every release, there are many new features and technical improvements. We asked William Jon McCann, a GNOME designer, about the direction of the project and what he is anticipating for GNOME in the future.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

      • Zentyal 3.0-2
      • SparkyLinux 2.1 Has Been Officially Released

        Paweł Pijanowski has proudly announced a few hours ago, March 19, that his SparkyLinux operating system based on the testing branch of Debian GNU/Linux has now reached version 2.1.

        Dubbed Eris, SparkyLinux 2.1 is now powered by Linux kernel 3.2.39-2 and it is based on the Debian testing repos as of March 15, 2013.

        SparkyLinux 2.1 also comes with a new set of wallpapers, a working Live system, which is now compatible with USB flash drivers, support for installing the distro from a USB stick, as well as minor bug fixes.

      • GParted 0.15.0-1
      • AsteriskNOW 3.0
      • AUSTRUMI 2.6.8
      • GNOME Disk Utility 3.8.0 Has Been Officially Released

        GNOME Disk Utility, the utility that allows users to handle storage devices, is now ready for the highly anticipated GNOME 3.8 desktop environment, as announced on March 18 by the development team behind the GNOME Project.

    • PCLinuxOS/Mageia/Mandrake/Mandriva Family

      • Mageia 3 Beta 3 Shaping Up Nicely

        The third beta of upcoming Mageia 3 was released last week, running a few days late themselves. This release brings the final version of KDE 4.10, GNOME 3.6.3, and Steam. There are two more test releases before final, so there’s still time to get your bug reports in.

      • New Mageia Board Members Elected

        The third annual Mageia elections were held during FOSDEM in Brussels recently for new Community Council and Mageia Board members. The Mageia Community Council is made up of elected team representatives such as for packagers or translators who help keep development moving along smoothly. The Board members oversee development while managing and administering the project.

    • Slackware Family

      • Everyday Linux User Review of SLAX

        If you go to distrowatch.com and look down the rankings you will see at number 24 a distribution called SLAX.

        It is very hard for distro developers to make their particular distribution stand out. SLAX is not one of them.

        SLAX weighs in at 210mb and is built to run from a USB drive as opposed to being installed to the hard drive. What you end up with is a fully functional portable operating system.

      • Call for help: Slackware on an ARM Chromebook?

        Well folks, the ARM-powered Chromebook built by Samsung can finally be bought in the Netherlands, and this raises a hairy question. Should I buy one and have a real-life target for my ARM port of Slackware which has been on the backburner for a year?

    • Red Hat Family

      • Red Hat CIO Lee Congdon to speak at Open Source Think Tank
      • Red Hat, Inc. : Red Hat Announces Agenda for Red Hat Summit, the Industry’s Premier Open Source Technology Event
      • Fedora

        • Fedora 19 Kernel Testing

          I have a sekret. I know what kernel version is going to be used for the Fedora 19 release. Want to know? Well, I’ll be glad to tell you. Why would I tell you? Because we need your help! (Aside from the fact that Fedora doesn’t really have secrets and stuff.)

          So looking into the kernel release crystal ball and comparing it with the Fedora 19 schedule, we’re pretty much settled on using the 3.9 kernel as the release kernel. Fedora 19 (at the moment) is schedule to ship at the end of June, and we’ll still be in the middle of the -rc timeframe for 3.10 kernel at that point. While shipping with a non-released kernel sounds like fun for entirely inappropriate reasons, it’s not something we’re going to do. Even if F19 slips by a month, we’d be hard pressed to really get another kernel rebase in place in that timeframe. Just doesn’t make sense. So we’ll ship with whatever is the latest stable 3.9.y kernel at that point.

    • Debian Family

      • Backports Integrated Into The Main Archive

        The Backports Team is pleased to announce the next important step on getting backports more integrated. People who are reading debian-infrastructure-announce will have seen that there was an archive maintenance last weekend: starting with wheezy-backports the packages will be accessible from the regular pool instead of a separate one, and all backports uploads will be processed through the regular upload queue (including those for squeeze-backports and squeeze-backports-sloppy).

      • Debian Wheezy Linux Nearing the Finish Line as 100 Bugs Remain

        Watching Debian Linux releases come together has always been aDebian long and drawn out process. Few other Linux projects (if any) have the same breadth of platform support or packages and few (if any) have the same fiercely principled approach (hurray Debian Free Software Guidelines) to development either.

      • DebConf13 matching fund

        As part of the DebConf13 fundraising effort, a generous sponsor, Brandorr Group, has proposed to start a matching fund in USD for DebConf13; in place through the end of April 30th.

      • Eaton donates hardware to Debian
      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • Ubuntu to halve support length for non-LTS releases

            In a meeting of the Ubuntu Technical Board last night, the technical leadership of Canonical’s Linux distribution decided to halve the support time for non-LTS releases to nine months. At the same time, the developers want to make it easier for users of the distribution to get up-to-date packages on a regular basis without the need to perform explicit upgrades of the whole distribution. Attending the meeting, Matt Zimmerman, Colin Watson and Stéphane Graber unanimously agreed on these points and also clearly voted against moving Ubuntu into a rolling release model. The changes will be implemented in the maintenance schedule starting with the release of Ubuntu 13.04 (“Raring Ringtail”) on 25 April.

          • Ubuntu Cuts Down Non-LTS Support
          • Canonical cuts support for non-LTS versions of Ubuntu, users now get nine months of bug fixes
          • Ubuntu cuts non-LTS support from 18 months to 9 months
          • Ubuntu, openSUSE and the Definition of Easy

            To hear fans talk, without Ubuntu, Linux desktops would be still be basic window managers. Even Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu’s founder, recently implied that those who questioned him held the view that “Linux is supposed to be hard so it’s exclusive.”

            Such attitudes always remind me of how the Soviet Union once claimed to have invented every major scientific theory and new piece of technology in the twentieth century. True, Ubuntu did increase awareness of usability on the Linux desktop, but that does not mean that Ubuntu and its Unity desktop have a monopoly on usability.

            The truth is, long before Ubuntu, other distributions were stumbling towards usability. Although Ubuntu’s ability to grab headlines accelerated their progress, other modern distributions have arrived at very different usability philosophies than Unity.

          • Canonical to halve Ubuntu support lifetime

            Canonical, the company behind the popular Ubuntu Linux distribution, is planning a change to how it supports its operating system that will see each major release updated for just nine months after release.

            Founded as a fork of the Debian distribution following dissatisfaction with the length of time between releases, Ubuntu has stuck to a rigid six-month release cycle since it was founded. When released, each six-monthly version – given a release number of the year plus the month of release, along with an alliterative animal-themed codename – was guaranteed to receive software updates for eighteen months, or three full version releases. The exception was the Long Term Support (LTS) releases, designed for corporate and enterprise use, which enjoyed a full three years of guaranteed updates.

          • On the Ubuntu Community (reprise)
          • Wayland
          • Sweet Ubuntu Device QtCreator Integration

            I spent a bit of today using the Ubuntu Device integration features in Qt. It’s fresh software, but it’s really easy and fun. Here is the development version of the game I am running running on my desktop. Noticed that I set the size of the window and therefore the play area very intentionally. But, I had to think to myself “will the touch interactions work ok on my tablet?” “What about the sizes?”. Fortunately, getting it onto my tablet is pretty easy.

          • Ubuntu 13.04 Default Wallpapers Released [Download Link Included]
          • Ubuntu Technical Board Looks at Shuttleworth’s Proposal for Release Management Methodology
          • The Coolest Ubuntu Business Cards Ever
          • Changes in Ubuntu releases decided by the Ubuntu Technical Board
          • Can You Help Ferret Out Ubuntu’s Bugs?

            Everyone has their favorite Linux distro and mine happens to be Ubuntu. After years of using the OS, I appreciate the ease with which I can run lots of applications that I can’t run on other platforms, Ubuntu’s security, and more. I also have a long wish list of things that I wish Ubuntu could do better.

            If you have a similar wish list, you may want to keep track of Canonical’s UbuntuBugDays and Hug Days. The next Hug Day is Thursday of this week, and is a community event that anyone can participate in, but Canonical is also serious about inviting developers to find meaningful bugs in Ubuntu.

          • Ubuntu Technical Board Meeting Decisions Regarding The New Release Proposals

            It was also decided to implement the above changes “to the maintenance schedule effective in 13.04 and later”.

          • There is Ubuntu, There is Linux and Then There are Others

            The Microsoft Windows users of the world are beginning to experience the pain of the new release of the Microsoft’s flagship operating system, Windows 8.

            While there are some users that are happy with the new release, a lot of them are not satisfied and some even very bitter. Microsoft are pushing the marketing for Windows 8 pretty hard. There is advertising on Facebook, banners on all of the popular websites and also TV commercials. And it’s also in newspapers and magazines everywhere you read. Microsoft does always markets a new Windows operating system release pretty heavily, but more so with Windows 8. Why? Because Microsoft have accepted the fact that the strong and viable competition can actually effect their bottom-dollar. And there’s public evidence of this when you look at the share price for MST. It has flat-lined and has been this way for quite some time. They are facing stiff competition from both Apple and Linux operating systems alike.

          • Review: Sidebar Pro and Lite, multitasking the Ubuntu Touch way [VIDEO]

            The greatest part about Android is the sheer flexibility developers have with the platform. Sometimes we see a rival OS come out with some pretty interesting ideas and features and as Android users, we don’t have to mope around wondering when Google will introduce something similar to their mobile OS. No. A random developer from the Play Store can create an app with much of the same functionality.

          • Ubuntu unveils its next-generation shell and display server

            Ubuntu publicly announced its plan for the future of its Unity graphical shell on March 4, a plan that includes a new compositing window manager designed to run on the distribution’s device platforms as well as on desktop systems. The plan will reimplement the Unity shell in Qt and replace Compiz with a new display stack called Mir that will incorporate a compositor, input manager, and several other pieces. Mir is not designed to use the Wayland display protocol (although the Ubuntu specification suggests it could be added later), a decision that raised the ire of developers in several other projects.

          • Flavours and Variants

  • Devices/Embedded

    • SODIMM-like COMs snap ARM SoCs into embedded apps
    • RasPlex – Plex on Raspberry Pi, Beta out now

      Plex comes to Raspberry Pi, threatening to usurp XBMCs throne by adding a server functionality to a Pi HTPC

    • Android vs Linux in automotive apps: a role for each?

      The role of Android as an alternative to embedded Linux has been a subject of quite a bit of discussion recently. As the use of open source software in automotive gains momentum there are differing opinions on the subject of using Android, Linux or both. The Linux Foundation recently wrote a post summarizing a discussion during a panel at the Android Builders Summit as well as some interviews from a number of experts. The post attempts to define Android vs. Embedded Linux and brings up some interesting points on the subject.

    • More Raspberry Pi manufacturing moves back to the UK

      UK distributor Premier Farnell, which owns Raspberry Pi-maker element14, announced on Friday that 100 percent of element14′s manufacturing is now back in the UK, marking the completion of a transition away from Chinese manufacturing it began last September. To bring production to the UK, Premier Farnell signed a deal with Sony to build the device at a contract electronic manufacture facility in Pencoed, South Wales.

    • Newly purchased Raspberry Pi is not booting? Defective unit? Sending it back….

      The Raspberry Pi team is noticing an increase in the returns of the unit where the customers claim that its not booting up. If you are one such customer who received a ‘defective’ Raspberry Pi and are planning to send it back, read this before you do that.

      The Raspberry Pi Foundation has made a public announcement clarifying what could be the cause of non-booting units.

    • Tiny $50 ARM-based COM runs Linux, Android

      BDD Group is readying a tiny, sub-$50, SODIMM-style computer module powered by an SOC (system-on-chip) containing a single ARM Cortex A8 core along with a Mali-400 GPU, among other functions. The business card-sized “A10 COM” will be supported with Android and Linux BSPs.

      BDD’s CEO, Rowdy VanCleave, says the A10 COM was created to enable rapid design and development of a wide range of “industrial embedded” products.

    • Software Company Anahata to Explore Development on ARM Linux
    • Phones

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

      • Ubuntu For Tablets: Hot or Not?

        This year, Ubuntu has been in the news more than it’s ever been. Week after week, a new announcement from Canonical inundates tech sites and blogs. And this time, it’s not just the Linux-based news sites that are covering them. 2013 is all about Ubuntu going mainstream. Coming from the Linux world, the word mainstream has many connotations, but when compared to what Apple, Microsoft, and Google are doing, Ubuntu is a relatively unknown player. Going head-to-head with these giants is probably what mainstream means at this moment.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Taking Control: Interview with FLIRC Creator Jason Kotzin

    We’ve covered a lot of hardware projects here on “The Powerbase”, from completely open source creations such as the OsciPrime, to 2012′s incredible influx of Kickstarter campaigns. But none of them have kept our attention as closely as Jason Kotzin’s FLIRC.

    Jason has managed to achieve a delicate balance between the obsessive attention to detail that comes from a one-man project and the high production quality you would expect from a commercial product. But what makes FLIRC really special is that Jason didn’t just create this project for his own personal gains, but instead did it as a way to raise money for Dr. Heinz Lenz at the USC Cancer Research Center, the oncologist who helped him through his 6 month battle with cancer.

  • Documenting Your Work With Liferay

    I’m generally adverse to large software bundles, especially ones that are aimed at businesses. All too often they are a cludgy mess of disjointed and barely related applications that have been thrown together. Not so with Liferay, Liferay is an open source portal that actually makes sense.

  • Open Source Ubuntu Speech Recognition App is Shaping up Nicely, Already Installable in Ubuntu!

    Ubuntu Speech Recognition app is shaping up nicely. During the first video preview of the Ubuntu Speech Recognition software, author did promise open sourcing of the app. He has kept his promise. Ubuntu Speech Recognition is now open source and is licensed under GNU General Public License Version 3 aka GPLV3. See github page for more information. Installation instructions for Ubuntu Speech Recognition app can be found below.

  • EdX Releases Open Source Tool For Building Interactive MOOC Courseware

    EdX has released source code to the general public that supports interactive learning built specifically for the Internet.

    The nonprofit online learning platform founded by Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has released XBlock SDK, the underlying architecture supporting EdX course content.

  • Netflix Invites Open Source Cloud App Development

    Netflix‘s lack of official support for Linux may not do much to help its popularity within the open source world. Yet in a sign that the company does remain eager to wield stronger influence in this space–especially where it intersects with the cloud–it has announced a contest for open source developers “to build something cool using or modifying our open source software.” And it has committed a fair amount of cash to seeing the initiative through.

  • Vagrant 1.1 adds first paid plugin for VMware Fusion
  • Open Source Project Mimics Yahoo Pipes on Your Own Machine

    When you move your life onto the web, you lose control of your data. And — who knows? — your web app of choice may even vanish from the face of the Earth while you’re still using it. Think Google Reader.

    The growing Indie Web Movement hopes to alleviate these problems, working to give web users more control over their online data and identity. The latest example is an open source software tool called Huginn.

  • The Fourth Dimension of Open Source

    In 2006, I wrote at ZDNet about what I called the open source incline, the idea being that the more even-handed the license, the more likely it was people would contribute code and other help to a project.

    The news peg here was a company called Appcelerator, which was then gaining significant developer support by licensing its mobile app code under the General Public License, or GPL. This requires that companies offer back their contributions to the code, while the Apache or Eclipse licenses let companies make enhancements proprietary.

  • Why your future PC may be disaggregated
  • The Math of FOSS Freeloaders

    oncerns are raised every once in a while in the broader free and open source software community about freeloaders. The attitude expressed is that if you’re getting the benefit of FOSS, you should contribute. Building a business on a FOSS project you don’t own, whether you’re providing a service or product around a FOSS project should in return garner some sort of quid pro quo. In reality, freeloaders are desirable.

  • Wikimedia adopts Lua for page generation

    Wikimedia has activated Lua-based templating on several of its sites including English Wikipedia. Driven by a new MediaWiki extension called Scribunto which allows scripting languages to be embedded in MediaWiki, it is hoped that the Lua templating will help improve performance where editors take advantage of its capabilities.

    Lua code is stored in module pages like Module:Bananas and is then referred to in pages with {{#invoke:modulename|functionname}} like this example page. Lua offers a more powerful, and much less obscure, way of performing complex tasks which are reused within pages. There is already a queue of requests to get existing templates converted to Lua.

  • Kenya: Open Source

    Does open source have a place in the enterprise outside experimenters? find out how Radio Africa group is running almost entirely on open source and how Madison insurance has blended in the open “sauce’ to derive the best benefits of both worlds.

    Radio Africa is a media company that invests in radio, television and print. The group operates 5 radio stations, a single TV station and a newspaper and employs just under 500 employees. The group has offices in Mombasa as well as sales and correspondence offices in Nakuru, Kisumu, Eldoret and Meru. Other operations include a printing press in Nairobi’s Industrial area.

  • Business Usage of FLOSS Increasing in Kenya
  • Open eCard releases open source eID middleware

    Open eCard has released the sources of the ISO/IEC 24727-based Open eCard app, as an alternative to proprietary eID middleware solutions.

    “In order to use national eID cards and electronic health cards on the internet, a corresponding software application running on the computer system of each citizen is required,” the company said in an announcement on its website. “Interoperability across borders is achieved by supporting the international standard ISO/IEC 24727.”

  • Open eCard releases open source eID middleware
  • Design in open source projects and my experiences
  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox DevTools Get an Overhaul

        Firefox has always been a popular browser with developers, and we’ve covered some of the extensions and tools available for development with Firefox, such as the Firebug extension. Recently, Mozilla’s Paul Rouget surveyed developers about what they would like to see in terms of Firefox DevTools. The developers provided feedback, and now Rouget has an update on what to expect in the future. Here are details.

      • Happy Birthday, Mozilla!
      • Is Firefox Too Customizable for its Own Good?

        Alex Limi, who heads up product design for Mozilla, asks an interesting question in a new blog post: “If I told you that a company is shipping a product to hundreds of millions of users right now, and included in the product are several prominent buttons that will break the product completely if you click them, and possibly lock you out from the Internet — can you guess which product it is?”

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Rackpace’s Open Cloud Academy Offers OpenStack Certification

      For months now, data from recruitment organizations has shown that skills with the OpenStack cloud computing platform commands power in the job market. Rackspace Hosting, which has been focused on OpenStack-based cloud computing, has announced a number of training initiatives. For example, the company has announced a strategic agreement with Hortonworks, which provides Apache Hadoop development, support and training, to empower customers with an enterprise-ready Hadoop platform targeted to be easy to use in the cloud.

    • OpenStack Certified Professionals: New Cloud Pros Coming
    • Amazon Cloud Storage Clone Goes Open Source

      Riak CS started life as a proprietary version of the open source NoSQL database Riak. But unlike many other “open core” systems, Riak CS wasn’t a souped up version of the open source version, but a purpose-built application with new features specifically designed for large scale storage. Riak CS added support for “objects” — i.e., files — of up to 5 GB each, and tools for billing individual users or departments for resource use. And of course, an S3-compatible API that let you plug applications into it in much the same way you’d plug them into Amazon’s online service.

  • Databases

    • MongoDB refines load balancing

      The MongoDB data store can now randomize placement of data on different shards to smooth load balancing

    • NoSQL Database MongoDB Reaches Beyond Software Coders

      But the company that develops Mongo — 10gen — is hoping to reach beyond the developers and into big businesses. On Tuesday, with this in mind, the company unveiled a the “enterprise edition” of the database that’s specifically designed for use in the business world.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Open-Xchange to launch open-source, browser-based office suite

      Collaboration software vendor Open-Xchange plans to launch an open-source, browser-based productivity suite called OX Documents.

      The first application for the suite is OX Text, an in-browser word processing tool with editing capabilities for Microsoft Word .docx files and OpenOffice.org and LibreOffice .odt files, the Nuremberg, Germany, company announced on Wednesday.

  • Education

    • Open source eliminates lack of resources at inner city schools

      Fifty years ago, on January 17, 1963, Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, DC. And it is worthwhile to reflect on how much or little has changed in terms of education. His belief that “my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character” still resonates today. Five years later, in 1968, King was assassinated as he was working on his Poor People’s Campaign, a multiracial effort to gain economic justice and alleviate poverty regardless of race. His underlying concern had been social justice and altering the balance of power in society by reforming society, which remains controversial today.

  • Healthcare

    • AHRQ: Open source EHR improves care in developing nations

      Global nonprofit Partners in Health (PIH) helped develop an open source electronic health record system that is improving care in developing countries, as well as in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, according to an announcement from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality.

  • Business

  • Funding

  • BSD


  • Project Releases

    • MongoDB 2.4 Released
    • Etherpad 1.2.9 fixes “massive security issue”

      Etherpad Lite was recently security audited by Mozilla. The developers say the result of that audit was an urgent effort from them to fix “gaping loopholes” in the collaborative editor’s security and, in turn, release version 1.2.9 of Etherpad Lite. Issues addressed include a major security problem where an attacker could submit content as another user and a problem with unescaped user input.

    • OpenSMTPD 5.3 released

      It will also be shipping with OpenBSD 5.3.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Time to be open-minded about open source contact centres?

      Following news that the UK government has mandated open source software, James Passingham, Technical Services Director for independent managed communications provider, Foehn, explains why more organisations are opening their eyes to open source.

      This week, the UK government mandated a preference for using open source software for future digital developments. The new Government Service Design Manual, released as a beta version on the 14th of March and effective from April, lays out standards that must be used for all new digital public services. For the first time, the UK government has expressed a formal preference for open source over proprietary software.

    • Newark Mayor Cory Booker Says Government Must Embrace Tech, Be Open Source

      Monday afternoon Newark Mayor Cory Booker crossed the Hudson River to chat at the OnMedia NYC conference about changes he believes government can make through technology. His administration uses social media to get residents more active in improving their community. “I could crowdsource my entire city,” Booker said, “and involve them in empowering Newark.”

    • April publishes English translation of France’s free software policy

      The French government policy on free software is now available in English. The translation was published earlier today by April, a French advocacy organisation. It is not an official translation. However, experts involved in the creation of the original French text have not found misinterpretations, the advocacy group commented. The group hopes other public administrations will use the guideline to their benefit.

  • Licensing

    • One year on OSI’s board (aka one year in OSI’s licensing)

      Since it has been roughly one year since Mozilla nominated me to sit on the OSI board, I thought I’d recap what I’ve done over the course of the year. It hasn’t been a perfect year by any stretch, but I’m pretty happy with what we’ve done and I think we’re pointed in the right direction. Because my primary public responsibility on the board has been chairing the license committee, this can also sort of double as a review of the last year in license-discuss/license-review (though there is lots of stuff done by other members of the community that doesn’t show up here yet).

  • Openness/Sharing

    • STC Announces Open ImmuCast™, an Open Source Immunization Forecasting Web Service

      Scientific Technologies Corporation (STC) is excited to announce the release of Open ImmuCast™, a free and open source immunization forecasting web service now available to public health entities in the United States. Open Immucast™ is the open source version of STC’s commercial Stand Alone Forecasting algorithm that has been integrated with production immunization registries since 1999. Open ImmuCast™ is backed by STC’s more than twenty years of experience in developing immunization evaluation and forecasting solutions. STC’s Clinical Decision Support Specialist is a nationally recognized subject matter expert and an invited panelist for CDC’s Clinical Decision Support Logic Specification Panel. The significant implementation history of the forecasting algorithm and STC’s expertise combine to make Open ImmuCast™ a tried and proven product.

    • How do you start fixing the GOP? Open source the platform

      The Republican Party must engage its members in an open and collaborative process to discuss exactly what the party should stands for and believes in. In so doing, they will effectively create a new Party platform and update the concept of the platform for the 21st century. Such a platform is proposed, written, and ratified in an open process should be the foundation behind which the GOP rallies and will the beginning of a real effort to establish a modern social media presence.

    • Guardian of open source
    • Open Access/Content

      • Startups are about to blow up the textbook

        A raft of startups is using open-source materials in an attempt to transform learning – terrifying traditional publishers.

      • The American Library Association Has Given Aaron Swartz Its First Ever Posthumous Award

        Famed Internet activist Aaron Swartz was honored Friday by the American Library Association. He became the first person to posthumously receive the association’s James Madison Award.

      • Plans for releasing Swartz evidence

        In a letter this morning, MIT’s president announced plans to make requested Swartz-related evidence public, with names redacted to “protect the privacy and safety of those members of our community.” However, much of this information is already publicly known and has been published by The Tech and the New York Times, among others.

      • Neanderthal Genome Published As Open Source

        A high-quality full Neanderthal genome has been sequenced for the first time, and the open source data is now available to everyone. That’s the exciting announcement today from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany.

        The team, led by paleogeneticist Svante Pääbo, used material from a toe bone found in 2010 in a cave in southern Siberia. They had previously released information about the Neanderthal genome that same year including evidence of inbreeding between the Neanderthals and modern humans. The Neanderthal species (or subspecies, according to some scientists who place it in our own species) died out about 28,000 years ago.

  • Programming

  • Standards/Consortia


  • The CIA, Amazon, and the Fast Trajectory of Cloud Computing

    Although the CIA is certainly not going to confirm or deny on the topic, there has been a lot of buzz this week about a report in Federal Computer Weekly that says that the CIA has approached Amazon about building a private cloud infrastructure for it. While there is no confirmation, the idea makes sense. The CIA has contracted with numerous technology companies for private platforms before, and as all things move toward the cloud, the CIA is probably heading there as well. If the report is true, it’s more evidence of how much clout the cloud has taken on in a very short period of time.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • FDA Ready to Approve Frankenfish Despite Fishy Science

      Some day soon, you might tuck into a plate of salmon without knowing that the fish you are eating was genetically engineered. The so-called AquAdvantage salmon, a salmon genetically engineered to grow faster than normal salmon, just moved one step closer to legalization. If so, it will be the first genetically engineered (GE) animal allowed for consumption in the United States. Thus, every part of the regulatory process related to the GE salmon sets a precedent for all future GE animals in the United States – and so far, according to experts, that precedent is a sloppy, inadequate one.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Scarborough Remembers Some Iraq Words–But Not His Own
    • NYPD Spent 1 Million Hours Over Last Decade On Marijuana Arrests, Analysis Finds
    • Why We Won’t Learn From Iraq

      1) Avoidance. After Pearl Harbor, after Vietnam, after World War II, after the 9/11 attacks, even after civilian disasters like the Challenger explosion or Katrina, there were official efforts, of varying seriousness and success, to find out what had gone wrong, and why, and to yield “lessons learned.”

    • New report on CIA: Rendition and torture on a global scale

      A report released in early February by the Open Society Justice Initiative titled “Globalizing Torture: CIA Secret Detention and Extraordinary Rendition” establishes that the Central Intelligence Agency, acting under the direction of the highest levels of the US government, has utilized a global network of secret prisons, foreign intelligence agents, and interrogation and torture centers to send detainees to without any legal protections.
      This arrangement is worldwide and includes the involvement of at least 54 different countries touching almost every continent.

    • The FBI’s anticipatory prosecution of Muslims to criminalize speech

      A court ruling in one of the most abusive prosecutions yet highlights the dangers posed by this familiar tactic

    • Looking Back at Iraq With…Michael Gordon?

      New York Times reporter Michael Gordon was the lead author on that infamous tubes article, but his record goes deeper than that. A few days into the U.S. bombing (3/25/13), Gordon appeared on CNN to endorse the bombing of Iraqi TV’s offices, calling it “an appropriate target,” since “we’re trying to send the exact opposite message.”

  • Cablegate

    • Update 3/19/13: Correcting dangerous errors in the press about Bradley Manning

      Until recently, with Bradley Manning’s historic statement in court taking responsibility for releasing documents to WikiLeaks, mainstream media outlets had largely ignored or paid only passing attention to the biggest leak case in U.S. history. Thus, it’s hardly surprising that when they do report on it, in addition to typically taking government arguments as fact, they frequently get basic information about Manning and his legal proceedings wrong.

      These pernicious mistakes can malign Manning’s character and obscure the public’s understanding of his case. It’s left to lesser-known but far more attentive writers and legal experts who’ve been following this case more closely (some since its inception) to correct their mistakes to keep the record straight.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Animal Cruelty for Profits is More Pervasive Than Imagined

      “The Greatness of a nation, and its moral progress, can be judged by the manner in which its animals are treated.” Mahatma Gandhi.

    • EXCLUSIVE: State Dept. Hid Contractor’s Ties to Keystone XL Pipeline Company

      Late on a Friday afternoon in early March, the State Department released a 2,000-page draft report downplaying the environmental risks of the northern portion of the controversial Keystone XL pipeline, which would ferry oil from Canada’s tar sands to refineries in Texas, passing through Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Oklahoma. But when it released the report, State hid an important fact from the public: Experts who helped draft the report had previously worked for TransCanada, the company looking to build the Keystone pipeline, and other energy companies poised to benefit from Keystone’s construction. State released documents in conjunction with the Keystone report in which these experts’ work histories were redacted so that anyone reading the documents wouldn’t know who’d previously hired them. Yet unredacted versions of these documents obtained by Mother Jones confirm that three experts working for an outside contractor had done consulting work for TransCanada and other oil companies with a stake in the Keystone’s approval.

    • BP accused of rewriting environmental record on Wikipedia

      A British Petroleum representative allegedly rewrote 44 percent of the oil giant’s Wikipedia page, including the environmental sections. Some Wikipedia editors are crying foul.

  • Finance

    • GOLDMAN: The Bailout Could Be A Great Deal For Cyprus

      Goldman Sachs is out with a reaction to the Cyprus bailout deal negotiated over the weekend, the most controversial part of which entails a haircut on bank deposits, something that hasn’t yet been seen until now in the euro crisis saga.

      Goldman analyst Francisco Garzarelli says that while the deal could cause some short-term volatility, the fallout from Cyprus will likely be contained, assuming the controversial measures are able to survive a vote in the Cypriot parliament this week (which remains an open question).

    • Why yes, a global agricultural corporation acting like a monopoly *IS* evil, thanks for asking.

      Around here, we Linux geeks tend to focus on technology, its place in society, and why monopolizing it into the iron fists of a few global corporations is a Bad Thing. The reasoning is that technology is central to all of our lives, cradle to grave, school to office, and we dare not allow a tiny oligarchy of billionaires to control everything that technology does.

      What could be more dastardly than monopolizing the world’s computers? Monopolizing the world’s food.

      Monsanto, in the emerging science of biotechnology, has become the Microsoft of food. Here in Iowa (a state with no small interest in agriculture) I get to witness the struggle firsthand; Monsanto commercials aimed at farmers dominate much of local television. Very few non-Monsanto companies manage to get equal billing.

      The parallels between Microsoft and Monsanto are plain. Just the Wikipedia page on legal actions involving Monsanto reaps bold examples: Monsanto has filed patents on numerous genetically engineered specimens. They have filed suit against 145 individual U.S. farmers for violating those patents. The Public Patent Foundation has blown the whistle on some Monsanto patents. The U.S. Justice Department in 2009 has also opened investigations against Monsanto for anti-trust; that’s still pending. And the legal battles outside North America are even more telling; stories abound of farmers being driven out of business, markets controlled, and even child labor. Oh, and Monsanto is a political lobbyist – a really, really big one – in the US, UK, and continental Europe. And corporate food patents, litigation, and fallout damage has been the subject of at least one documentary name of Food, Inc.

    • The Best Of The Internet’s Reaction To George Osborne Joining Twitter

      1. This is Osborne’s first, and so far only, tweet

    • Capitalism efficient? We can do so much better

      For all its vaunted efficiency, capitalism has foisted wasteful inequality and environmental ruin on us. There is an alternative

    • On implications of Cyprus
    • Bill Maher Urges Vilification of Bill Maher

      On his last HBO show (3/15/13), Bill Maher complained about how much he and his wealthy cohort pay in taxes: “You know what? Rich people–I’m sure you’d agree with this–actually do pay the freight in this country.”

      Maher added that wealthy Californians pay nearly 40 percent to the federal government and nearly 15 percent to the state: “I just want to say liberals: You could actually lose me. It’s outrageous what we’re paying–over 50 percent. I’m willing to pay my share, but yeah, it’s ridiculous.”

    • When You Weren’t Looking, Democrat Bank Stooges Launch Bills to Permit Bailouts, Deregulate Derivatives
    • Strikes across UK as George Osborne delivers budget speech
    • In Spain, The Bitcoin Run Has Started

      Something extreme is happening in Europe. Since Sunday, Bloomberg Businessweek reports a trio of Bitcoin apps have soared up Spain’s download charts, coinciding with news that cash-strapped Cyprus was planning to raid domestic savings accounts to pay off a $13 billion bailout tab. “This is an entirely predictable and rational outcome for what’s happening in Cyprus,” says ConvergEx’s Nick Colas. “If you want to get a good sense of the stress European savers are feeling, just watch Bitcoin prices.”

      The value of the virtual currency has soared almost 30 percent in the last two days. “One hundred percent of that is due to Cyprus,” says Colas. “It means the Europeans are getting involved.” As German economist Peter Bofinger warned in an interview with Spiegel Online: “European citizens must now fear for their money.”

    • French authorities raid IMF chief Christine Lagarde’s home in ‘embezzlement’ probe

      French magistates and anti-fraud police have raided the Paris home of the International Monetary Foundation (IMF) chief, Christine Lagarde, as part of an investigation into alleged misuse of public office and “embezzlement” when she was French finance minister in 2008.

    • Manila, March 18-22: Week of ‘Black Protest’ after Student Suicide triggered by inability to pay for Tuition Fees

      A week of ‘Black Protest’ at public and private colleges and universities across the Philippines takes place between March 18 and 22. It commemorates the death of Kristel Tejada who committed suicide, because she couldn’t pay for tuition fees in time. The ‘Black Protest’ is marked by walk-outs and is also directed against another possible increase in tuition fees.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Sen. Sanders and Rep. Deutch Press for New Democracy Amendment

      Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Ted Deutch (D-FL) have introduced a new constitutional amendment to overturn the damage done by Citizens United, Buckley v. Valeo, and other judicial decisions that have diluted the role of ordinary people in American democracy.

      “The Democracy is for People Amendment will stop corporations and their front groups from using their profits and dark money donations to influence our elections while reaffirming the right of the American people to elections that are fair and representatives that are accountable,” Rep. Deutch said in a statement.

    • Two Peoples, Two Pictures
  • Privacy

    • Two clicks for more privacy

      More and more web pages incorporate “Like” buttons for Facebook, Google+ and Twitter and this was also on the to do list for both The H and our associates at heise online; however, implementing these buttons means that data will be transmitted to the operators of a networking platform when the page is loaded – without any user interaction. In addition to the URL of the current page, that information also includes an ID that is directly connected to a person, at least if the user has an account with these platforms. This allows companies such as Facebook to create full browsing profiles of their users. As this doesn’t harmonise with our idea of data protection and privacy, heise online developed a two-stage solution that will only transmit data with the user’s permission.

    • City Council stumbles upon warrantless surveillance by police unfit for public discussion and unqualified for private discussion
    • Demand A Proper Consultation

      The UK’s Home Office continues to push for maximum surveillance powers with minimum accountability in the latest adjustments to the Communications Data Bill. I decided to find out just how much consultation with non-corporates there had been before the Bill was introduced originally.

    • Is the tide turning in the fight for our privacy rights?

      The latest vote on the EU Data Protection Regulation suggests MEPs are starting to realise why privacy protections are important. We need your help now to get the message across.

    • Visualizing Google’s Transparency Report, Part 3: What Countries Ask For The Biggest Share of Netizen Data?

      India is ranked at number two by total number of data requests but if you take into account its large Internet population, its ranking falls. Neighboring countries can vary a great deal. The U.K. and France demand a disproportionate amount of user information, compared to Ireland and the Netherlands.

  • Civil Rights

    • Pentagon Papers lawyer on Obama, secrecy and press freedoms: ‘worse than Nixon’

      …James Goodale sounds the alarm about the current president

    • James Goodale: It’s a bad time for press freedoms

      James Goodale has a message for journalists: Wake up. In his new book, Fighting for the Press (CUNY Journalism Press, 2013), Goodale, chief counsel to The New York Times when its editors published the Pentagon Papers in 1971, argues that President Obama is worse for press freedom than former President Richard Nixon was.

      The Obama administration has prosecuted more alleged leakers of national security information under the 1917 Espionage Act than all previous administrations combined, a course critics say is overly aggressive. Former New York Times executive editor Bill Keller wrote in a March op-ed that the administration “has a particular, chilling intolerance” for those who leak. If the Obama administration indicts WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for conspiracy to violate the Espionage Act, Goodale argues, the president will have succeeded where Nixon failed by using the act to “end-run” the First Amendment.

    • How Weev’s Long Prison Term Makes You More Vulnerable
    • EFF Joins Andrew Auernheimer Case on Appeal

      Andrew “Weev” Auernheimer today was sentenced to 41 months in federal prison for revealing to media outlets that AT&T had configured its servers to allow the harvesting of iPad owners’ unsecured email addresses. The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is joining Auernheimer’s legal team to litigate his appeal before the Third Circuit Court of Appeals, arguing that fundamental problems with computer crime law result in unfair prison sentences like the one in this case.

    • Angela Davis: making waves since 1961

      Once on the FBI’s ‘most wanted’ list, the civil rights activist has no intention of slowing down. She talks to Frank Barat about her inspiration.

    • Meeting Hacked Off

      The explosive revelations that websites will be included in the post-Leveson press regulation arrangements this weekend led to a flurry of analysis — and a meeting between Hacked Off, bloggers and free speech groups yesterday.

    • The 21st-Century Version of Slavery Is Widespread In America

      A 21st-century version of slavery—captive labor—is rampant at the bottom of the U.S. economy, and Washington politicians and business lobbies want to keep it that way, or even expand it as part of the immigration reform talks now in Congress.

    • The Steubenville Case: Social Media Plays Role in the Prosecution of a Rape Case

      From the outset of the now widely publicized Steubenville rape case, social media has played an integral role in the local grassroots action, growing media buzz, and prosecution. Local bloggers and Internet activists helped bring the case to national attention.

    • Less than 48 hours before we are part of the Leveson regulation

      3pm Friday is the deadline for amendments to be submitted to the Crime and Courts Bill, which is in the Lords on Monday. The clauses being considered include those for various parts of the Leveson “deal” (Of course, given this isn’t statutory regulation of the press we may well be imagining it.)

    • U.K. police hope to sniff out pot growers with marijuana-scented cards

      Thousand of houses in the United Kingdom are being sent marijuana-scented “scratch and sniff” cards in a new bid to track down marijuana growers.

      In a press release, the charity group Crimestoppers explained the cards were designed to educate residents about the smell of marijuana. They hope once people can recognize the smell of cannabis plants, they will be able to help law enforcement officials identify illegal growing operations.

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • France draws red lines for EU-US free trade negotiations

      ood safety, GMO cultivation and France’s cherished “cultural exception” for audiovisual services are non-negotiable areas in view of upcoming EU-US free trade talks, the French stressed. The message was apparently well received by the European Commission in Brussels.
      Speaking at the conclusion of a two-day European summit on 15 March, French President François Hollande said he was “in favour of opening a negotiation” with the US to lift trade barriers and “promote growth” in Europe.

    • Patents, Trademarks And Copyrights Have No Place In Trade Agreements

      As we’ve discussed before, one of the sneakier moves of the content industry (and, later, the pharmaceutical industry) was to jump into the international trade process, to circumvent national governments and to effectively force them into passing laws that they liked. We’ve been raising concerns about this whole process, and it appears that many public interest/civil service groups agree. With the US and Europe getting ready to start negotiations on a “trans-atlantic free trade agreement” (TAFTA), a large group of public interest/civil service groups have teamed up to issue a declaration that “intellectual property” has no place in free trade agreements. It also demands much more transparency in any negotiation.

    • First Sale Doctrine Upheld by US Supreme Court ~pj

      This is the one you have been waiting for: Kirtsaeng v. John Wiley & Sons, Inc. [PDF]. Mr. Kirtsaeng has prevailed. Hugely. I’ll work on a text version for you next, but I didn’t want you to have to wait one second longer to hear the news.

    • Supreme Court reaffirms resale of copyright works

      Justices say a prohibition on the resale of products made overseas would cause multiple problems

    • Supreme Court upholds first-sale doctrine in textbook resale case

      The importation of copyrighted goods made abroad has been an increasingly contentious issue in recent years. Easy access to Internet resale markets like eBay and Amazon have made it possible for a new breed of entrepreneurs to buy low and sell high in a wide array of areas. The Supreme Court handed these resellers a major victory today, issuing a decision [PDF] that makes it clear that the “first sale” doctrine protects resellers, even when they move goods across national boundaries.

    • Trademarks

      • Python Settles Trademark Dispute

        The Python Software Foundation (PSF) have announced they have reached a settlement with POBox Hosting Ltd of the UK over their trademark application for the term ‘Python’ in connection with cloud hosting and their application for a figurative trademark incorporating the word “Python”. While the PSF own the trademark for Python within the United States, it did not have an equivalent filing within the European Union.

      • Settlement reached in Python trademark dispute

        The Python Software Foundation (PSF) has announced that it has reached a settlement with PO Box Hosting, who also trade as Veber, over the latter’s use of the name Python and application to trademark Python. The Python Software Foundation called for help in fighting the application in February.

    • Copyrights


        The Institute for Prospective Technological Studies, part of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre, just published a new working paper entitled “Digital Music Consumption on the Internet: Evidence from Clickstream Data.” This report demonstrates that online ‘piracy’ does not have a negative effect on sales, and often, in fact, has a positive impact. As they put it, their research suggested “a stimulating effect of [online streaming] on the sales of digital music.”

        One key part of the paper was their finding that “much of what is consumed illegally would not have been purchased if piracy was not available.” In other words, each illegal download should not be perceived as being equivalent to a lost sale. For better or for worse, the music industry has (d)evolved into being singles-driven rather than being album-driven; now consumers can download just the songs they want, rather than having to download an album filled with bad songs.

      • Google Further Highlights Wrongful DMCA Takedowns
      • Head of US Copyright Office wants to shorten terms, just barely

        US Register of Copyrights Maria Pallante is about to give testimony (PDF) to part of the House Judiciary Committee, in which she proposes that the US government do something it hasn’t done, ever—shorten copyright terms.

        “You may want to consider alleviating some of the pressure and gridlock brought about by the long copyright term for example, by reverting works to the public domain after a period of life plus fifty years unless heirs or successors register their interests with the Copyright Office,” Pallante’s written testimony states.

How Richard Stallman Started GNU Project

Posted in FSF, Videos at 5:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: New audio from Swapnil Bhartiya

US House Hearing on Patents a Sham, Stacked With Lawyers/Corporations

Posted in America, Law, Patents at 5:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

When corporations are allegedly people and corporate lawyers — people whose professional agenda is to prop up ‘IP’ — are writing the laws


Summary: No signs of real change because hearings involve lawyers of large corporations rather than representatives of public interests

The USPTO remains a farce of a system which strives to assimilate patent offices all around the world to itself. It needs to be stopped or else we will all face the consequences, be those consequences visible or not. A lot of what we buy costs little to manufacture, but since we pay patent tolls prices can be inflated considerably.

Groklaw writes about the House hearing we were referring to the other day. It is a debate for lawyers only, based on this summary which states:

Thursday was the hearing on abusive patent litigation by the House Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on Courts, Intellectual Property and the Internet. By abusive patent litigation, they mean trolls — or as one calls them when one holds one’s pinky genteelly in the air, NPEs, nonpracticing entities. I put out a call for one of Groklaw’s own to attend and let us know what happened. Webster was able to attend, and he has provided an eyewitness account for us in his own inimitable style.

The chairman of the hearing, US Representative Bob Goodlatte, opened with a statement, as did several members of the subcommittee with a little speechifying of their own, and then the invited witnesses of the day each told about their company’s experiences with abusive litigation, except for one, a lawyer whose firm represents trolls and who opined that the patent system is working well overall. If you click each of the following names of the witnesses, you can download as a PDF the written testimony each provided in advance:

* Mr. Mark Chandler, Senior VP, General Counsel and Secretary, Cisco Systems, Inc.
* Ms. Janet L. Dhillon, Exec. VP, General Counsel and Secretary, J.C. Penney Company, Inc.
* Mr. John G. Boswell, Sr. VP, Chief Legal Officer and Corporate Secretary, SAS Institute, Inc.
* Mr. C. Graham Gerst, Partner, Global IP Law Group, LLC
* Mr. Philip S. Johnson, Sr. VP and Chief IP Counsel, Johnson & Johnson
* Mr. Dana Rao, VP and Assoc. General Counsel for Intellectual Property Litigation, Adobe Systems, Inc.

Mark Bohannon, Red hat’s Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Global Public Policy, wrote about this hearing as follows:

As President Obama pointed out in February, the patent reform legislation Congress passed several years ago hasn’t “captured all the problems” and the bill “only went about halfway to where we need to go.”

“[Patent trolls] are a classic example. They don’t actually produce anything themselves,” the President said. “They’re just trying to essentially leverage and hijack somebody else’s idea and see if they can extort some money out of them.”

It is important to keep contacting policy makers on this important issue. If you haven’t done so, let the members of the Judiciary Committee in both the House and Senate hear from you. Your voice is important and can make a difference.

Your voice is important and but unfortunately you cannot make a difference. Why? Because unless you have the name of some giant corporation next to your name and you claim to have a degree in law, these people will treat you like dirt and will never give you a platform, let alone any influence.

The FSF is about to have a more suitable public event about patents — one where actual scientists participate. Here are the details which the FSF published this week:

Chicago, IL – Room 1040, 10th floor, Power Rogers & Smith Ceremonial Courtroom, Philip H. Corboy Law Center, 25 E. Pearson St., Water Tower Campus, Loyola University Chicago

Going back to Groklaw, Posner, a critic of the patent system and of software patents in particular [1, 2, 3, 4, 5], is mentioned in this article which alludes to the patent fight against Android:

Motorola has now filed its response to Apple’s appeal of Judge Richard Posner’s decision to toss out Apple’s claims against Motorola (and vice versa), and it adds its own cross appeal [PDF] on the vice versa part — especially challenging the implication of Judge Posner’s ruling that there can be no injunctive relief for FRAND patent owners ever, as a categorical rule.

A blanket denial of the right to seek injunctive relief, Motorola argues, violates patent law, contradicts eBay v. MercExchange [PDF], where the US Supreme Court held that it was error to come up with a categorical rule that “injunctive relief could not issue in a broad swath of cases”, and violates the original expectations of donors of technology to standards bodies. In fact, it says any such rule would violate the US Constitution, which provides that Congress shall have power to secure exclusive rights for inventors, and in the Patent Act Congress came up with, it says every grant to a patentee includes the right to exclude others. Motorola asserts that it has never waived its rights to injunctive relief and states that there is no language in its ETSI agreements requiring it to do so. Motorola argues that there should continue to be a case-by-case analysis under eBay, with judges having discretion to make such decisions based on the particular facts of each case.

Fair warning, though: the PDF is 737 pages. The actual brief is one-tenth that, 73 pages, so I’ve done that part of it for you as text. The rest is a collection of patents at issue, judge’s orders in this case, and one from a related Apple v. Motorola litigation in Wisconsin, which is where this case began, before being transferred to Illinois and Judge Posner.

Posner, a US judge, has so far been the exception when it comes too his views on these patent battles and software patents, which he opposes. The house hearing had nobody like Posner in it; it was just a bunch of lawyers bickering and gloating over patents.

Here is LG using patent FUD against its biggest national rival. It’s about software patents:

The Samsung Galaxy S4 possibly uses a new type of eye-tracking software that LG believes violates one of its own patents.

LG on Tuesday claimed that its South Korean competitor may have violated the company’s patent which pauses video clips when a user turns their head away from the video they are watching.

During the Samsung Galaxy S4 event last week the company announced the new feature as one of the smartphones best new options.

Samsung however was very clear in stating that it does not actually use eye-tracking technology but rather facial recognition software.

Apple too is reportedly being hit by patents relating to software:

The Wall Street Journal reports that patent holding company Intertrust Technologies Corp. has filed suit against Apple, accusing the Cupertino-based company of infringing on 15 of Intertrust’s patents related to “security and distributed trusted computing.”

Publications like the Wall Street Journal view the patent problem as trolls hurting large corporations such as Apple. But it’s not the real issue. It’s just a symptom of the real issue. The multinational corporations try to change the law to benefit corporations, not trolls and not anyone else. People should be outraged by this.

E-mails of Australians Compromised by Microsoft, a US-based Company With Very Bad Record on Privacy

Posted in Australia, Microsoft at 5:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Telstra, the largest ISP in Australia, gives away customers’ communications for US surveillance through Microsoft


Summary: Another worrying step from a Microsoft-occupied telecom in Australia and a reminder of the implications

Telstra got filled with Microsoft moles and now we witness yet more of the outcomes, some of which we covered here before:

“It looks like Australia’s largest ISP is working closely with Microsoft and will soon be letting them handle customers emails using Outlook.com. The setup guide is available here. An interesting move, considering the National Broadband Network rollout is coming. What’s in the future for other ISPs and how they handle email in Australia? Are the days of ISPs providing in-house email servers coming to an end?”

This is not acceptable, but more and more companies seem to be outsourcing their E-mail to so-called ‘clouds’. Those who outsource to ISPs too are going to come under the same dangerous umbrella, albeit indirectly.

BT, the ISP I unfortunately rely on the most, uses Yahoo which Microsoft abducted as well. I use it neither for incoming nor outgoing mail traffic, except as an ISP which uses DPI to infiltrate packets content (I use encryption too). The unfortunate thing is, when sending mail to people who are in those so-called ‘clouds’, GMail included, privacy on neither side (sender and receiver) can be assured. Telstra’s move ensures that yet more mail will inevitably be piped through the US surveillance system, almost definitely to be retained indefinitely by the NSA.

So even Australians are now tracked by their E-mails more conveniently. This also applies to Skype after the Microsoft takeover.

It should not be hard for large Australian companies to operate a bunch of servers with Asterisk and FOSS-based E-mail services. To ask some other companies to run and host those services is worse than lazy; it is irresponsible and dangerous.

Those who live in Australia can hopefully speak to Telstra about this issue; if it is too late to revoke the decision, then it is time to speak with one’s wallet.

Microsoft’s Vista 8 Deletes Competition

Posted in Antitrust, Microsoft, Vista 8, Windows at 4:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: Anticompetitive elements of Microsoft’s latest OS version and why it’s worth minding

The fiasco around UEFI as an instrument of control through Restricted Boot is not benefiting from companies like SUSE or Canonical. Their complicity is noted to give the illusion that UEFI is openly accepted in the Linux world. It’s a lie. GNU/Linux users hate it. Here is a new press release from UEFI stakeholders:

The Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) Forum, a world-class, non-profit industry standards body of leading technology companies that promotes firmware innovation by creating specifications that enable the continual evolution of platform technologies, is gaining momentum as use of UEFI specifications increases in Linux-based operating systems, such as Ubuntu 12.10, Fedora 18 and OpenSUSE 12.3.

UEFI specifications enable cross-functionality between devices, software and systems. By design, UEFI technology lends itself to utility and applicability across a range of platforms. Including UEFI Secure Boot in Linux-based distributions allows users to boot alternate operating systems without disabling UEFI Secure Boot. It also allows users to run the software they choose in the most secure and efficient way possible, promoting interoperability and technical innovation.

Nonsense and hogwash. This was published elsewhere too. What UEFI promotion basically does is it ensures that PCs come with Vista 8 lock-in and Microsoft control. This is clearly abusive, but not as abusive as Vista 8 itself. Will Hill shares a claim that “Vista 8 wipes chromium browser, scribus, AV and a host of other user installed software with the “optimize tool”. Vista H8 is optimized for Microsoft. Please boycott Microsoft and dump Windows.” (source)

Here is the full rant, which says:

The optimize your PC tool, which comes with Windows 8 is very dangerous.
I ran the tool earlier today, and without asking for confirmation it optimized my system by removing Google Chrome Browser, Avast! Antivirus, PDF Creator, LibreOffice 4, OCR Software by IRIS, HP Photosmart driver and applications, Scribus, Skype and Posterazor.

At the same time all icons except the desktop was removed from the Metro page. This optimizer tool is VERY dangerous!

The other day we saw this review of Vista 8 from a GNU/Linux user. He says:

It has been a few months since Windows 8 came out, so a lot of enthusiasts have messed around with it and found out what it’s all about. Many people have feared that Windows 8 would be an entirely new experience, and that our traditional workflow would be disrupted. Some people have even claimed that Windows 8 may cause them to abandon the operating system family and switch to Linux so that they can run up to date code without upgrading Windows. However, is any of this really the case?

See the comments. A lot of people are rightly pissed off these days because there is more pressure on people to pay for and use something they reject. Windows is losing market share, but not as quickly as it deserves.

Take a look at what happened in the Falkland Islands, a country with a farming/fishing population and few NATed PCs. There are only a few thousand people.

They seem to be leaving Windows, but that’s not the most important data point. As a whole, Windows is losing its grip, but Microsoft continues to use an illegal grip on this market. Just because Microsoft is going away doesn’t mean it should be allowed to get away with criminal behaviour as last noted in the previous post.

For Microsoft to say that OEMs actually want to embrace Vista 8 with UEFI lock-down would be a lie. OEMs already try to escape Vista 8 and this affects Intel’s x86 monopoly too. As Pogson put it last ight:

There goes the Wintel monopoly. It’s foundation is crumbling. Wintel has only one leg upon which to stand now, that restrictive EULA. Fortunately, that’s easy to get around. JUST DON’T BUY THEIR DAMNED OS!

Microsoft has made that difficult though. And it is becoming ever more aggressive in its hardware tying and applications bundling. Where is the antitrust action?

Microsoft Bribery Amid the UK Government’s New Software Policy

Posted in Deception, Europe, Microsoft, Open XML, OpenDocument at 4:45 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

UK flag

Summary: Microsoft is under fire for bribery allegations in governments; now that the UK government says it will adopt Free and open source software while the Swiss government refuses to do so there is more food for thought about the motives and backdoor dealings

Governments are not only being robbed by Microsoft through tax evasion. Taxpayer are constantly being hit by Microsoft tax when they buy PCs and when the government buys PCs. Now we know, based on Murdoch’s press that “U.S. Probes Microsoft, Partners Over Bribery Claims”. Microsoft is Obama’s second among companies that bribed him in 2012, so we doubt anyone will go to jail over it. Bribery is a crime when the small person does it; for a corporation like Microsoft it is just a standard way of doing business. We saw a lot of it amid OOXML scandals.

Here is what the Wall Street Journal says:

Lawyers from the U.S. Justice Department and the Securities and Exchange Commission are examining kickback allegations made by a former Microsoft representative in China, as well as the company’s relationship with certain resellers and consultants in Romania and Italy, these people said.

The investigation is in a preliminary phase, according to people familiar with the probe, and the government hasn’t accused Microsoft or any of its business associates of wrongdoing. Such investigations can end with no charges being filed.

The Slashdot summary includes more news links. There are reports in other languages as well. It’s an international fiasco and the thing about the invetigation is that it’s well overdue. Microsoft is a criminal firm with criminal past, so there’s not much of a reputation to keep and not much reason for hesitation in investigating the practices.

Today in the mail I received two letters. One tells me that City Council tax is up almost ten percent and the other says that the bank is slashing an already low interest rate by around 12.5 percent. Inflation is a popular form of hidden tax, more hidden than the notorious bank levy in Cyprus.

So, how does my government save money other than by taxing ordinary citizens who have no access to offshore tax havens like the multi-millionaires and billionaires? Well , it recently seemed like Microsoft was on its way out. As one report puts it:

Open source use in UK government has been establishing itself, in both the Government’s G-Cloud and in procurement standards. Now, the publication of a beta of the UK’s “Government Service Design Manual”, part of the Digital by Default Standard for government services, is writing in a preference towards using open source into the guidance for service managers, developers and web operations.

Robert Pogson, responding to this move from the government, says:

If you read the comments on that blog post you find that previously the IT department were afraid of the security of WordPress, used on tens of millions of web-facing sites…
Sometimes top-down leadership is needed to break log-jams and catch the wave.

Here is another report. We are waiting to see what Microsoft will do other than bribe, openwash, or intimidate rivals or politicians (like in Massachusetts). It affects me personally in my daytime job. Here is some widely-cited post about the news:

Since I’m writing this on St. Patrick’s Day, covering news involving the British government–those perfidious Hanoverians who dispossessed my Irish ancestors several centuries ago–feels just a little off-base. Still, the United Kingdom’s official endorsement of open source software, which became public just a few days ago, seems too important to miss, particularly for the implications it could have for businesses, governments and other organizations throughout the channel.


In other words, this is bad news for companies such as Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL), whose products the guide discourages.

Microsoft will definitely lobby behind the scenes, as it always does to derail such policies. Bribes are possible too. We saw it before.

Switzerland is a country where Microsoft corruption in government contracts led to a lawsuit which we covered before in:

Here is a nice analogy for what’s happening in Switzerland:

The reason behind the motion was an application called Agate which is used by farmers to report on transport of their animals. The application is available only for Microsoft Windows so if someone is running GNU/Linux system they can’t file the report. So in other words the government is ‘forcing’ people to pay Microsoft tax, buy Windows operating system and then file the reports.

Government related activities should be vendor neutral and citizens must be able to file report using any operating system they deem fit instead of being forced to buy proprietary and extremely insecure Microsoft products.

Corruption in the Swiss government was covered in the following posts around 2009:

  1. Switzerland and the UK Under Fire for Perpetual Microsoft Engagements
  2. Microsoft Sued Over Its Corruption in Switzerland, Microsoft Debt Revisited
  3. Can the United Kingdom and Hungary Still be Sued for Excluding Free Software?
  4. 3 New Counts of Antitrust Violation by Microsoft?
  5. Is Microsoft Breaking the Law in Switzerland Too?
  6. Microsoft Uses Lobbyists to Attack Holland’s Migration to Free Software and Sort of Bribes South African Teachers Who Use Windows
  7. ZDNet/eWeek Ruins Peter Judge’s Good Article by Attacking Red Hat When Microsoft Does the Crime
  8. Week of Microsoft Government Affairs: a Look Back, a Look Ahead
  9. Lawsuit Against Microsoft/Switzerland Succeeds So Far, More Countries/Companies Should Follow Suit
  10. Latest Reports on Microsoft Bulk Deals Being Blocked in Switzerland, New Zealand
  11. Swiss Government and Federal Computer Weekly: Why the Hostility Towards Free Software?

Corruption in the Swiss banks makes it not far-fetched to assume corruption in the government as well. Here’s where things stand:

The Swiss Parliament on Wednesday rejected a motion calling on the government to create vendor independent e-government services, Swiss newspapers report. With 14 votes against and 12 vote in favour, the Swiss Council of States (Ständerat) threw out a motion, submitted in 2011, requesting the government to create ‘Non-discriminatory eGovernment solutions for Swiss farmers’.

Pogson responds by saying:

I hope the voters wake up their representatives. Apparently a bunch of them are asleep. It is the 21st century and many governments recognize that there is more than one supplier of software for personal computing.

Remember what happened in Switzerland amid OOXML abuses. Someone should investigate to see if here too there are bribes. The outcome of the anti-ODF campaign was clear and today we found this article which says:

…both [ODF and OOMXL] are ISO standard document formats

They neglect to say how Microsoft corrupted ISO to make this happen. Bribes too were involved. Whether Microsoft is found guilty in this latest investigation won’t change Microsoft’s record on bribes. Microsoft is corrupt.

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