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04.06.13

Linux Advocates and Freedom Advocates

Posted in GNU/Linux at 7:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Free as in Freedom

Summary: How causes such as censorship/free speech relate to advocacy of GNU/Linux

Some Linux advocates have had the bitter experience of being labelled “faux” advocates and dismissed as being invalid advocates who must be ostracised. People who are Linux advocates arrive from a wide spectrum of backgrounds, either political, philosophical, or whatever. Some Linux advocates engage in parallel activism in the areas of feminism, government transparency, censorship/free speech, and science, to name just a few. Those do not interfere with the goal of advancing Linux, or GNU/Linux.

It is disheartening to see and I regret to say that some Linux advocates get muzzled because to them, GNU/Linux advocacy needs to accompany a broader agenda, which may or may not convey some of the same principles adhered to by GNU/Linux luminaries.

It is fair to say that Linux is apolitical because the project’s founder rarely mixes his technical work with political burden. But if by “Linux” one refers to a broader system, for instance GNU/Linux with some vast desktop environment like KDE, then it is fair to say that freedom advocacy deserves plenty of room. KDE and GNU both market themselves as being pro-freedom, more so than Linux.

When Linux advocates argue that freedom takes precedence over power (as in the power of a program), they should not be dismissed as “radical”, “extremist”, etc. It is most likely that these people actually represent the views of many Linux developers, where by “Linux” they refer to a system far bigger than a kernel. Whether immersion of politics in software contributes to infighting, division and alienation of corporate participation is a subject which merits debate. But open discussion is definitely compatible with the underlying strengths of Free and Open Source software.

Originally posted in Linux Advocates

Links 6/4/2013: Alienware Gaming PC With GNU/Linux, OpenStack ‘Grizzly’, Sailfish OS SDK

Posted in News Roundup at 5:29 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Star Wars Jedi Knight II: Jedi Outcast and Jedi Knight: Jedi Academy Source Code Released
  • Jedi Academy, Jedi Outcast Source Code Now Available To The Public
  • After LucasArts closure, Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy go open source

    We’re all still reeling from Disney’s shuttering of LucasArts yesterday, and tributes to the once-indomitable game studio are sprouting up all over the Web. One such tribute sure to bring a smile to programmer geeks everywhere comes from development house Raven, which has this morning released the source code for its two Star Wars titles: Jedi Outcast and Jedi Academy. The two FPS titles were released in 2002 and 2003 and continued the story of Kyle Katarn, the bounty hunter and Jedi first introduced in 1995′s Dark Forces.

  • Apache OpenMeetings hits first Open Source Top Level Project Release
  • Have spare time, dev skills? See what open-source projects need your help with this flowchart

    Hey devs! If you’ve got decent coding skills and a desire to give back to the community, we’ve found an interactive flowchart that’ll show you some of the ways you can contribute your time to Mozilla projects.

  • Web Browsers

    • Web browser war: The early 2013 report

      The latest NetMarketShare browser numbers are in for March 2013. They reveal a three-way battle for the hearts and minds of PC web browser users, but on tablets and smartphones, Safari is leading by a wide margin. StatCounter, however, has Chrome and the Android native browser leading respectively.

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Introduces Promising Payments API

        When it comes to making payments, lots of us still turn to credit cards, checks and other longstanding ways to get the job done, but the race is on to have most payments made via “digital wallets.” You can already make electronic payments via your smartphone using PayPal, Square, Google payments and other solutions, although the number of places you can do so is limited. Now, Mozilla is taking a big step forward in the digital wallet space by developing a mobile electronic payment platform that is likely to be standard in the company’s Firefox OS.

      • Open payment system for Firefox OS

        Mozilla has released an early draft version of a payment service API, enabling Firefox OS app developers to process purchases. The API design is in part based on Google Wallet, but the WebPayment API will remain open to being used for a wide range of payment service providers.

      • Firefox 20 Officially Lands in Ubuntu
  • SaaS/Big Data

    • OpenStack Grizzly Open Source Cloud Platform Debuts
    • There’s a new bear in the clouds: OpenStack releases Grizzly

      If you like open source in your cloud, you have to be happy that the OpenStack Foundation hIf you like open source in your cloud, you have to be happy that the OpenStack Foundation has just released the latest version of its popular open-source Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud, Grizzly.

      OpenStack, the so-called Linux of cloud computing, was founded by NASA and Rackspace software developers. Today, it’s supported by numerous companies and organizations. With Grizzly, Rackspace no longer dominates code changes. Red Hat, IBM, Nebula, and HP are also now major contributors. as just released the latest version of its popular open-source Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) cloud, Grizzly.

      OpenStack, the so-called Linux of cloud computing, was founded by NASA and Rackspace software developers. Today, it’s supported by numerous companies and organizations. With Grizzly, Rackspace no longer dominates code changes. Red Hat, IBM, Nebula, and HP are also now major contributors.

    • OpenStack ‘Grizzly’ Debuts with More Than 200 New Features

      Roughly six months after the launch of its “Folsom” release last fall, OpenStack on Thursday unveiled version 2013.1 “Grizzly,” the seventh and latest release of the open source software for building public, private and hybrid clouds.

    • OpenStack ‘Grizzly’ Debuts with More Than 200 New Features
    • Gartner Analyst Surprised That Developers Love FLOSS Clouds

      I have news for him. Folks who have choices and know they have choices do open their eyes and look at what’s available. Further, they like FLOSS because is does allow the flexibility people want. Non-Free software is advantageous to some. Free Software works for everyone else.

      I guess it takes time. Only a few years ago Gartner gave FLOSS no chance at all. Some of Gartner’s staff are still in denial but they will surely evolve faced with such overwhelming popularity of FLOSS with Gartner’s customers.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Business

    • Mulesoft Raises $37 Million for App Integration

      Getting data out of one app and into another is big business. It’s a business that enterprise integration firm Mulesoft is now growing with new funding and products.

      Mulesoft announced this week $37 million in new funding, bringing total investment in the company to $81 million.

      Mulesoft is not a new company, having started out under the name Mulesource in 2003.The company originated as a commercial effort around the open source Mule Enterprise Service Bus (ESB) created by Mulesoft founder Ross Mason.

  • BSD

    • AMD Kernel Mode-Setting Progresses For FreeBSD

      More of the Radeon kernel mode-setting (KMS) driver stack being ported to FreeBSD from Linux is beginning to function.

      For the past few months, the open-source Linux Radeon KMS driver has been ported to Linux. It’s shown signs of life but still isn’t fully working or in a state where it will be merged to the mainline code-base in the near future.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Project Releases

    • MATE 1.6 Released

      The latest version of the GNOME 2 fork, MATE, is now out. MATE 1.6 includes updates to Caja, the panel and the control center

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • Academia and Programming Language Preferences

      For years now, RedMonk has argued that programming language usage and overall diversity is growing rapidly. With developers increasingly empowered to select the best tool for the job rather than having to content themselves with the one they are given, the fragmentation of runtimes in use has unsurprisingly been heavy. Where enterprises used to be at least superficially built on a small number of approved programming languages, today’s enterprise is far more heterogeneous than in years past, with traditional compiled languages (C/C++) coexisting along with managed alternatives (C#/Java) as well as a host of dynamic options (JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby).

  • Standards/Consortia

    • OASIS Breaks the Traditional Standards Accreditation Barrier

      On Tuesday, OASIS made an extremely rare announcement for an information technology consortium: that it has successfully completed the process of becoming accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). As a result, it is now able to submit its standards to ANSI for recognition as American National Standards (ANS). And also to directly submit its standards for adoption by ISO and IEC. This is a milestone that’s worthy of note, despite the fact that over 200 standards setting organizations (SSOs) have achieved a similar status in the past.

Leftovers

  • British Library to begin web harvest

    It aims to ”harvest” the entire UK web domain to document current events and record the country’s burgeoning collection of online cultural and intellectual works.
    Billions of web pages, blogs and e-books will now be amassed along with the books, magazines and newspapers which have been stored for several centuries.

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Occupy Medical: ‘If you need help – you get help’

      Every Sunday from noon to 4pm, volunteers gather at their “mobile clinic” to make a difference, and offer free healthcare in downtown Eugene, Ore. What started as a temporary first aid tent along the Occupy Eugene movement in October 2011 became the Occupy Medical clinic in February 2012.

    • One of Us

      These are stimulating times for anyone interested in questions of animal consciousness. On what seems like a monthly basis, scientific teams announce the results of new experiments, adding to a preponderance of evidence that we’ve been underestimating animal minds, even those of us who have rated them fairly highly. New animal behaviors and capacities are observed in the wild, often involving tool use—or at least object manipulation—the very kinds of activity that led the distinguished zoologist Donald R. Griffin to found the field of cognitive ethology (animal thinking) in 1978: octopuses piling stones in front of their hideyholes, to name one recent example; or dolphins fitting marine sponges to their beaks in order to dig for food on the seabed; or wasps using small stones to smooth the sand around their egg chambers, concealing them from predators. At the same time neurobiologists have been finding that the physical structures in our own brains most commonly held responsible for consciousness are not as rare in the animal kingdom as had been assumed. Indeed they are common. All of this work and discovery appeared to reach a kind of crescendo last summer, when an international group of prominent neuroscientists meeting at the University of Cambridge issued “The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness in Non-Human Animals,” a document stating that “humans are not unique in possessing the neurological substrates that generate consciousness.” It goes further to conclude that numerous documented animal behaviors must be considered “consistent with experienced feeling states.”

    • Garbage Patch, the newest country

      It is made of trash, is as large as maybe even Texas and is in the middle of the ocean. Oh, and it’s severely under-populated. Actually, no one lives in Garbage Patch, no man, no animal.

      Okay, Garbage Patch is not really a country but to focus on monumental examples of man-made pollution, the United Nations’ cultural and science agency UNESCO will designate the conglomerations of rubbish a veritable territory of its own.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Cablegate

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Engineering the Bitcoin Gold Rush: An Interview with Yifu Guo, Creator of the First ASIC-Based Miner

      A month after it reached a new all-time high, the rollercoaster ride that is bitcoin continues to thrill and confound after a series of events helped propel the virtual currency to stratospheric new heights, more than doubling its market value with the digital currency now trading at over $70.

      Over in Europe, the threat of financial Armageddon gave citizens new reason to consider the viability of cyberpunk alt-money. As Cypriot officials put 100 euro limits on withdrawals, the tiny Mediterranean island will soon welcome its first bitcoin ATM.

    • Why Bitcoin Is Poised To Change Society Much More Than The Internet Did
    • Company profits depend on the ‘welfare payments’ they get from society

      The free market is a myth. From drug patents to quantitative easing, businesses make money because of state help

    • Obama picks Goldman Sachs exec for ambassador to Canada

      U.S. President Barack Obama has selected a partner at the investment firm of Goldman Sachs in Chicago to be the new U.S. ambassador to Canada, CBC News has learned.

      Sources tell CBC News Network’s Power & Politics that Bruce Heyman has accepted the job but still has to pass a vetting process in order to be be formally nominated. His confirmation will be up to the U.S. Congress.

      If he is approved, Heyman would replace David Jacobson, who has held the position since 2009. Jacobson is also from Chicago.

    • Wall St Burdens the Public Debt

      As the effects of the sequester agreement ripple through the American economy–massive cuts, that is, to social programs, and the military to some extent–one thing is clear: both sides–President Obama and the leadership of the Republican Party–seem to think that public debt is the biggest challenge facing the American economy. Well, our next guest begs to differ.

      Now joining us in the studio is Michael Hudson. He was a Wall Street financial analyst, is now a distinguished research professor of economics at the University of Missouri-Kansas City. His recent books are The Bubble and Beyond and Finance Capitalism and Its Discontents.

    • Laiki Bank: The Cyprus bank staff hit worst of all
    • Exposed: A Global Offshore Money Matrix of Up to $32 Trillion

      The covert handling of huge amounts of money away from public accountability has fueled the global austerity crisis by shifting tax burdens onto average citizens…

    • Ex-Goldman trader charged in $7.6 billion rogue trade

      A former trader at Goldman Sachs pleaded guilty Wednesday to fraud linked to a scheme to hide an unauthorised $US8 billion ($7.6 billion) futures bet he made at the US banking giant.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • AP Ditches ‘Illegal’ Label

      The Associated Press announced a change in their style guide: The wire service will no longer refer to “illegal immigrants,” except in direct quotes. The term “illegal,” AP’s new rules state, refers only to actions, and not to people.

      Though they say it’s just the result of an ongoing in-house effort to rid the Stylebook of “labels,” the change is undoubtedly a victory for activists, who have called for years for journalists to stop using the term. Not only because it’s dehumanizing. As AP’s executive editor Kathleen Carroll points out, it’s also bad reporting, a “lazy device” that obscures meaningful distinctions.

    • New Report Exposes Extreme ALEC Agenda in Arizona

      Seventeen bills introduced in the Arizona legislature in 2013 can be tied to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), and every member of the Republican leadership in the state are current or recent ALEC members, according to a new report from the Center for Media and Democracy and its allies “ALEC in Arizona: The Voice Of Corporate Special Interests In The Halls Of Arizona’s Legislature.”

      “ALEC is a secretive but powerful force in Arizona politics,” said Lisa Graves, CMD’s Executive Director. “This report exposes how corporations and Arizona legislators, have worked together to keep citizens in the dark about ALEC’s extreme agenda.”

  • Censorship

    • New Evidence: Homeland Security Spied On Peaceful Protestors; Worried About Protests Getting News Coverage

      We just recently had a post on the head of one of Homeland Security’s “Fusion Centers” (the same Fusion Centers found by a Congressional investigation to be a near total waste of time and money, finding no terrorists, but violating the public’s civil liberties) who claimed that the DHS centers did not spy on Americans, and then immediately admitted that they spied on “anti-government” Americans.

      The definition of “anti-government” was mostly left as an exercise to the reader. However, in a bout of good timing, the Partnership for Civil Justice has released some new DHS documents it received via a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request, showing that DHS regularly spied on peaceful demonstrators and activists.

    • ‘Strong Lack of Instinct’: Turkish Paper Threatens to Sue over Trial Access
    • Turkish media to challenge exclusion from neo-Nazi trial

      Eight of the 10 victims of the neo-Nazi NSU underground organisation killed between 2000 and 2007 were Turkish citizens but no Turkish media organisation has been granted guaranteed seats for this month’s trial of suspected NSU member Beate Zschäpe.

      Yesterday Sabah said it was going to the German constitutional court in Karlsruhe to demand a seat reservation. The mass-market Hürriyet is considering joining the complaint.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • 6-y.o. Who Walked Alone to Post Office May be Removed from Her Home

      Dear Free-Range Kids: A few days ago CPS served my wife and me with a complaint alleging that we are neglectful. They want to take custody. Here is the chain of events that has led to this:

    • Azerbaijan Government Worried by Facebook Activism
    • Symbols of Bush-era Lawlessness Flourish Under Obama

      Guantanamo Bay prison plans expansion, while CIA official linked to torture cover-up gets promoted

    • Liberty Preservation: The states say ‘NO’ to NDAA

      Just days ago, an anniversary passed which should never be forgotten. On April 1, 1942, an order was issued by Lt. General J.L. DeWitt which began the forced evacuation and “internment” of people of Japanese descent.

    • Opponents Label Nullification “Nuts” and a “Bizarre Fad”

      Nullification is not the right of states to nullify any federal act. Rather, it is the right to choose to not enforce any federal act that fails to conform to the constitutionally established limits on its authority. Nullification presupposes that there are myriad (albeit limited) areas over which the Constitution has given purview to the federal government: defense, naturalization, foreign relations, interstate commerce, etc.

    • Bush Redux?

      Not only has the president ignored his promised platform planks, he’s actually reinforced and strengthened some of the most egregious portions of Bush-era abuses of power.

    • Abortion debate leads to comparisons with Nazi infanticide

      THE murder of infants with a disability in Nazi Germany was recalled during a highly charged debate on abortion, as doctors voted to reject radical calls for changes in the law.

    • Google Challenges U.S. National Security Letter in Court

      Google is fighting a National Security Letter (NSL) issued by the U.S. government, with the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) acknowledging it is one of the first firms to do so.

      Google took the unusual step last month of revealing, albeit in vague terms, the number of NSLs it received from the US government. At the time the company said it was working with the authorities to improve transparency around the subject, but according to court filings it is also fighting against handing over users’ data.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Opinion: £53 and the Problem With UK Politics

        No-one forced, or compelled, Duncan Smith to make that statement. The assertion that it’s possible is one that rankles many people, however. Of course not everyone is feeling the pinch of recession and csuts, and that includes the former Conservative Party leader. While he may have been on unemployment benefits in the ’80s, he’s had steady employment for the last twenty years, all on public funds. Now asking him to try living on the same solutions he’s proposing for others isn’t really that big a stretch. In fact, given his experiences being a ward of the welfare state, and his military service, it shouldn’t be that difficult for him to survive, adapt, and overcome.

        However, the speed with which he’s back-pedalled and tried to move away from his initial position shows how promises trip lightly off the tongue when you’re a politician defending your party base. It’s ‘a stunt’ he claimed, ignoring the simple fact that after 20+ years as an MP, one currently earning significantly more (£134,565/year) than the average wage (£28,700 for UK males, according to the BBC in November) he may be a bit out of touch, and a bit clueless about the realities of his policies. Sure it looks good on paper, but without experiencing it first-hand, he’s not going to understand why it doesn’t work. At the time of writing, over 400,000 people have already said they’d like him to re-acquaint himself with that area of his job, to help him perform better.

      • YouTube Won’t Put Your Video Back Up, Even If It’s Fair Use, If It Contains Content From Universal Music
      • Film studios request removal of takedown notices

        Two film studios have asked Google to take down links to messages sent by them requesting the removal of links connected to film piracy.

        Google receives 20 million “takedown” requests, officially known as DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) notices, a month. They are all published online.

      • Icelandic Píratar On Final Approach To Election Victory

        A new poll today places the Icelandic Pirate Party in parliament, with their election three weeks out. This follows a continuous and rapid ascent for the Icelandic Pirate Party. The poll will probably have the additional effect of putting the media spotlights on the party, further accelerating its growth.

Missing the Real Problem With Patents in the United States

Posted in Patents, Red Hat at 6:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Protectionism facilitated by lawyers

Lock

Summary: Response to some articles about the US patent system and those who strive to fix it, or conversely, keep it broken

The tiresome debate over the subject of patents is really massive these days. Many articles are written about it everywhere. A lawyers’ site continues to advance the view that software should be patentable by giving the platform to a notable lobbyist/booster for this ’cause’; Martin Goetz is said to be at the genesis of software patents in the US [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6] and he continues to be used by law-practicing software patents proponents such as Dennis Crouch. This is a problem because unless software developers make their views heard, the lawyers will simply get their way.

Other sites pay a lot of attention to patent trolls rather than software patents. Groomed by a Microsoft-friendly, Bill Gates-funded press like “GOOD” [1, 2], patent troll Spangenberg, for instance, is targeted by Rackspace, which calls him the most notorious patent troll in America after winning an important case against another troll, thanks to help from Red Hat. The British press says that “Rackspace sues ‘the most notorious patent troll in America’”:

Texan hosting firm Rackspace is going on the offensive with a legal challenge to non-producing entity (or patent troll, as they are more commonly known) Parallel Iron – a firm Rackspace describes as “the most notorious patent troll in America.”

Rackspace is still feeling cocky after its victory last week in the Eastern District of Texas, when a judge ruled that fellow NPE Uniloc couldn’t try to enforce a patent on a mathematical formula – a rare case of logic from the notoriously patent plaintiff-friendly court. Flushed with success, Rackspace is now taking the fight to a new target.

Intellectual Ventures is actually much bigger and more dangerous. One of our readers said he “thought Intellectual Ventures was the most notorious patent troll in America.” He was right. The USPTO continues to facilitate these trolls and Red Hat’s unofficial blog calls for an open, collaborative effort to improve US patents rather than call for change in the system itself:

Late last year, I wrote about the EFF’s project to leverage the Patent Office’s new Preissuance Submissions procedure to promote open 3D printing technology. Here we are, several months later, and the fight for open 3D printing continues. Now, the EFF has partnered with Ask Patents to facilitate crowdsourcing of prior art searches for various 3D printing-related patent applications.

At first, I didn’t see anything remarkable about this partnership. However, as I delved a little deeper, things got a little more interesting. First off, Ask Patents is part of a group of open-content websites called Stack Exchange which includes over 100 “question and answer sites on diverse topics from software programming to cooking to photography and gaming.” But, the more interesting tidbit—at least to me—came from the Stack Exchange blog, where they claim that former Patent Office Director, David Kappos, came to their office to encourage them to open a Stack Exchange site dedicated to generating prior art to help patent examiners do their jobs.

David Kappos is in favour of software patents. He and others like him want more people gardening the existing system rather than abolishing or reforming it.

Red Hat sends out mixed messages, with the notion of “bad” patents rather than software patents being advanced and also a focus on trolls rather than their tools of litigation. Red Hat itself has some software patents, some of which offend fellow FOSS-centric companies [1, 2]. The patent lawyers’ spin sites say that “Red Hat opposes software patents, but still recognises the value of IP” (as in trademarks? Copyrights?). Here is the opening of this spin piece:

Last week a court in the Eastern District of Texas dismissed patent litigation brought by NPE Uniloc against internet hosting provider Rackspace. Uniloc sued the Texan company in June 2012, alleging that its use of Red Hat Enterprise Linux infringed one of the NPE’s software patents relating to “the processing of floating-point numbers”.

In response, Rackspace and Red Hat (which was providing assistance to its customer in accordance with its Open Source Assurance programme) jointly filed for an early motion to dismiss the case. The motion was granted, with the court finding the claim asserted by Uniloc invalid as it covered a mathematical algorithm.

According to a press release from Red Hat, this decision represents the first time that a court in ‘NPE’s paradise’ the Eastern District of Texas has granted an early motion to dismiss after finding that an asserted patent claimed unpatentable subject matter.

This is true so far. But watch the spin at the end:

Even for organisations that have a fundamental opposition to software patents, IP can be a major part of their business model. Red Hat and other companies have shown that patenting and open source development can coexist and can complement each other; while other intangibles such as brands – and the trademarks and other rights that protect them – can be vital to competitiveness in the highly commoditised software market. For those in the open source community that are sceptical about the IP system, that is surely something worth considering.

With phrases like “patenting and open source development can coexist” (similar to IBM's line) they are trying to paint Red Hat as pro-patenting, simply by calling patents “IP” and then saying that Red Hat care for trademarks and such stuff. This helps prove that Richard Stallman has been right for his persistent opposition to the term “IP”.

Windows (Software) is Dying, So Microsoft Runs to the Hardware Business, Where Its Failures Necessitate AstroTurfing

Posted in Marketing, Microsoft, Vista 8, Vista 9, Windows at 6:02 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Miscommunication and incoordination

Outcast

Summary: Microsoft partners such as Gartner are walking away from Microsoft promotion; Microsoft increasingly alienated and isolated

“PC market begins to slip and tablets will outsell desktops and laptops combined by 2015, as Android ascendancy means challenge to relevance of Microsoft,” says The Guardian about the latest Gartner output which is influenced by Gartner partners, including Bill Gates himself. Gartner previously predicted success for Windows Vista, in alignment with its funding sources.

The report comes at a time when Linux outsells Windows if one counts devices that have all the components of a modern computer, smartphones for example. There is laughter at Microsoft’s failure with Vista 8 (Vista 9 vapourware is already out the gate*). This laughter comes from pro-Microsoft sites, to make matters worse. Even the technology tabloid ZDNet is not impressed, despite its business relations with Microsoft. For the first time ever we see Microsoft trying to qualify as an OEM, which only annoys many OEMs/hardware allies. Even Microsoft’s best allies show signs of defection and Microsoft is trying to bribe new friends and developers, begging only for this type of caricature which says: “Apparently Microsoft has decided to expand it’s pay for apps program to cover just about anything. Up until now they were a bit more selective about providing support only to more popular apps.”

This is not going to work. It can upset developers who don’t receive the rewards from Microsoft. It’s not a sustainable strategy. Microsoft has been trying to reinvent itself as a hardware company, always in vain though. The hardware sales were always extremely poor and in the case of XBox billions of dollars were lost. A lot of Microsoft hardware projects are dead now, but Xbox persists despite losses and technical issues that CBS covers as follows:

Don’t want a gaming console that requires a persistent internet connection? “Deal with it,” says Microsoft Studio’s creative director.

There is backlash against what Microsoft is doing there. A lot of Xbox managers quit the company in recent years as the Luddites still don’t get it. Like Apple with its fake reviews, Microsoft continues to rely on censoring negative reviews of its hardware projects/products. Microsoft PR agencies are doing this behind the scenes and my cohost recently researched some of the tactics behind it. He shows why Microsoft and its AstroTurfing may prove counterproductive:

And I suggest that’s why positive reviews can often be viewed with suspicion and maybe getting any 3rd party involved in your online perception is a bad idea. Good products and services will always shine and are not shouted down by a minority. If many people are complaining about your product, then its you with the problem and doing anything but rectifying the product/service is not the direction you should be heading, lest you end up in the situation many Microsoft product posts are where good remarks are always labelled “shill”.

If a lot of people are labelled “Microsoft shill”, then it is Microsoft’s fault. Had the company not engaged in the practice of hiring AstroTurfing agencies so routinely, people would not be quite so suspicious.
____
* Interesting fact (from memory): Vista 8 vapourware began in April 2010, about 6 months after Vista 7 was released. Vista 9 vapourware began in April 2013, about 6 months after Vista 8 was released.

Red Hat Should Learn From Companies That Got Abducted in a Friend-Brings-a-Friend Fashion by Microsoft

Posted in Microsoft, Red Hat at 5:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Trojan bears

Teddy bear

Summary: More on Red Hat’s unprecedented move of hiring executives from Microsoft Corp.

Microsoft has already infiltrated — in the staff sense — several large companies such as Novell, VMware, Nokia, Amazon and Yahoo, to name just a few notable examples. It’s always the same story. One Microsoft mole enters a top position, then fires many who are unfriendly to Microsoft’s agenda, only to hire more former colleagues from Microsoft (or cancel projects that threaten Microsoft, replacing those with Microsoft collaborations). Red Hat should watch out because UEFI Restricted Boot shows signs of Red Hat softening too much*. Red Hat recently hired from Microsoft — news that continues to fascinate many, e.g.:

He was at Microsoft for 15 years, so it’s not some rushed escape from Microsoft. It was several years ago when someone who had worked for Microsoft lobbied against Ogg on behalf of Nokia, which is now attacking VP8 and Android. Simon Phipps is trying to explain why Nokia is doing this:

Last month, I wrote about the battle between open source video tools and the entrenched industry around video. Google announced it had reached an accommodation with MPEG-LA to no longer imply that VP8 was threatened by MPEG-LA patents and it hoped to have VP8 standardized by MPEG.

At the IETF meeting where Google’s staff explained the proposal, it was clear that the standards arbiters working for the companies with deep investments in MPEG H.264 were not going to make life easy. In contrast with the treatment received by other speakers, the Google speakers were constantly challenged by meeting attendees associated with H.264 — almost to the point of harassment. It also became apparent that Nokia — a company that, prior to its change of direction to become part of Microsoft’s hegemony, had supported open source approaches — was poised to mount a challenge to VP8.

And therein lies the problem. Microsoft moles can change a lot from the inside. Red Hat is no longer void of Microsoft veterans. Never before did we see Red Hat hiring for its management team from Microsoft.
___
* Other distro makers feel differently, but Canonical, itself already semi-infiltrated by Microsoft, did the same as Red Hat. “Explaining the concept of evil to a Canonical employee,” wrote Will Hill, is not simple. Quoting JoinDiaspora: “He said, “Bill Gates isn’t evil, he just likes getting a lot of money,” as if money turns any harm into good. It’s not often that you see such a naked expression of “It’s OK because he does it for money.”” The “yuppie nuremberg” defense won’t work in justifying the hiring from Microsoft.

Microsoft Helps Oppress Populations for Profit (and Why Skype Should be Abandoned)

Posted in Microsoft at 4:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Building for politics

Summary: In exchange for government protection and contracts Microsoft is cracking down on dissent

A new report from unofficial US government press (New York Times) speaks of spying as a business and Microsoft is named early in the article:

Police Surveillance May Earn Money for City

[...]

In the six months since the Domain Awareness System was unveiled, officials of Microsoft, which designed the system with the New York Police Department, said they have been surprised by the response and are actively negotiating with a number of prospective buyers, whom Microsoft declined to identify.

Already, as many people may know, Microsoft profits from spying on US citizens (but this includes other countries’ citizens) with impunity. We casually learn about Microsoft letting governments spy on Skype users. This includes chat in voice, text, maybe even file transfers. One new report is titled “Malware spread on Skype taps victim PCs to mint bitcoins”. Another new report says: “The soaring virtual currency Bitcoin suffered a cyber-blow after its leading exchange, Tokyo–based Mt.Gox, was hit with a DDoS attack. The government-free tender also faced a hacker attack on its Instawallet database, forcing the site to be shut down.”

The bottom line is, Skype is part of the control grid of the controversial banking cartels, which are closely guarded by government. In order to break free from injustice we must leave behind proprietary software. The FSFE finds an opportunity right now to advance Free/libre alternatives:

  • Avoid being locked in as Microsoft turns off Windows Messenger

    On April 8, Microsoft will discontinue its Windows Messenger service. All current users will be switched to Skype. The Free Software Foundation Europe advises former users of Windows Messenger to take this as an opportunity to embrace Open Standards such as Jabber (XMPP) instead of switching to Skype.

Microsoft is keeping track of numbers now that they took more control over the network, which is no longer as peer-to-peer-ish as it used to be. This is a massive surveillance network with two billion minutes per day to spy on or record indefinitely. As it is nothing new for Microsoft to collude with authorities to police the population and crack down on dissenters, as seen in Russia and its neighbouring countries for example, we must accept the fact that Microsoft stands out as a culprit here.

Apple/Microsoft/Nokia Cabal is Still Running a Patent Racket Against Linux Adoption

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents at 4:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Patent stooges

Summary: A roundup of posts about patent aggression and patent aggregation against mobile market players, Android in particular

Apple enjoys a marriage of convenience with governments and with other concentrations of power. Apple has been engaging in idealogical and political censorship for quite some time now. It is part of the company’s policy and philosophy. It’s about control. Apple is now censoring books, based on reports that won’t help Apple’s reputation at all.

Meanwhile, says the press amid a collapse in Apple's secret case against Android (there was an attempt to keep journalists out), Apple struggles to keep litigation going. “Unfortunately,” tells us one reader, the press is “quoting paid shill Mueller again.” He shows this allegation from anti-FOSS lobbyist Florian Müller. This lobbyist, or mass mailers for hire (Mr. Müller acts like a PR agent), is often being used as merely a mouthpiece of corporations that pay him for it, e.g. Oracle and Microsoft.

“Judge Lucy Koh has ruled on the Apple and Samsung motions, and the only thing finally decided so far is that Apple loses on its desire for an early case management conference on April 3,” says Pamela Jones, who adds: “Not so much these days for Apple, huh? The trouble with declaring that you intend thermonuclear destruction of a competitor is, they get to hit you back. And the fact that Apple now has to try to undo the USPTO’s devastating decision means that Apple indeed is not currently holding the winning hand with any certainty, despite any brave assertions that it will bounce back on the bounce back patent. On the other hand, the same is true for Apple’s “win” at the jury trial. It’s getting whittled back and whittled back, and it’s surely true that it ain’t over ’til it’s over in patent litigation, and that means after the final appeal is over. That’s why investing in litigation is for fools, in my view.”

Ask Nokia how it’s working out. After it had been abducted by Microsoft it started attacking Android with patents. Two years later Nokia is almost a dead company, a brand with only patents (some passed to trolls with Microsoft’s assistance) and a glorified past legacy. In a new essay by Joel Spolsky, who used to be a manager at Microsoft, the strategy mastered here is described as a protection racket. This is an apt description:

The Patent Protection Racket

The fastest growing industry in the US right now, even during this time of slow economic growth, is probably the patent troll protection racket industry. Lawsuits surrounding software patents have more than tripled since 1999.

It’s a great business model.

Step one: buy a software patent. There are millions of them, and they’re all quite vague and impossible to understand.

Step two: FedEx a carefully crafted letter to a few thousand small software companies, iPhone app developers, and Internet startups. This is where it gets a tiny bit tricky, because the recipients of the letter need to think that it’s a threat to sue if they don’t pay up, but in court, the letter has to look like an invitation to license some exciting new technology. In other words it has to be just on this side of extortion.

Step three: wait patiently while a few thousand small software companies call their lawyers, and learn that it’s probably better just to pay off the troll, because even beginning to fight the thing using the legal system is going to cost a million dollars.

Step four: Profit!

What does this sound like? Yes, it’s a textbook case of a protection racket. It is organized crime, plain and simple. It is an abuse of the legal system, an abuse of the patent system, and a moral affront.

Companies like Microsoft, Apple and Nokia increasingly rely on proxies which are patent trolls to do the damage in the mobile market. In a later post we’ll show how Nokia does the dirty laundry.

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