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05.07.13

Links 7/5/2013: Linux in Space

Posted in News Roundup at 3:06 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Mapping the ASF, Part II

    In my last post I showed you one view of the Apache Software Foundation, the relationship of projects as revealed by the overlapping membership of their Project Management Committees. After I did that post it struck me that I could, with a very small modifications to my script, look at the connections at the individual level instead of at the committee level. Initially I attempted this with all Committers in the ASF This resulted in a graph with over 3000 nodes and over 2.6 million edges. I’m still working on making sense of that graph. It was very dense and visualizing it as anything other than a giant blob has proven challenging. So I scaled back the problem slightly and decided to look at the relationship between individual members of the many PMCs, a smaller graph with only 1577 nodes and 22,399 edges.

  • Open source text analysis tool exposes repurposed news

    Churnalism US is a new web tool and browser extension that allows anyone to compare the news you read against existing content to uncover possible instances of plagiarism. It is a joint project with the Media Standards Trust.

  • Open or die: Innovation led by open source

    Businesses are moving from closed systems to open, collaborative innovation. Red Hat CEO, Jim Whitehurst, focused on the three major components influencing this shift in his keynote, Open or die?, at the Open Business Conference held in San Francisco this week (April 29-30, 2013).

    First, there are two major shifts happening in technology and innovation that are laying the foundation for the open innovation model. On the technology side, the way computing is being built and delivered has changed. During the industrial revolution, the auto lathe revolutionized the making of standard parts. We’re seeing that same paradigm shift happen today in how computing is becoming a commodity.

  • IBM open sources new approach to crypto

    A group of IBM researchers has released a Github project that implements a homomorphic encryption system – a way to work on encrypted data in a file without first decrypting the whole file.

  • Open source tool for test engineers
  • The next generation digital experience is built on open source

    Massive disruption is occurring as marketing goes digital. Business is moving steadily towards providing a fully personalized and truly integrated digital experience—building upon recent advances in user experience, analytics, cloud computing and storage, and an omni-channel experience across mobile platforms and social media.

  • Open source beginnings, from classroom to career

    During my second year at Shreemati Nathibai Damodar Thackersey (SNDT) Women’s University, the first of its kind in India as well as in South-East Asia, I attended a workshop on Python and Orca by Krishnakant Mane. My classmates and I were novices to free and open source software (FOSS) and astonished when we saw a visually impaired person using a computer with the same ease as we did.

  • Speaking the language of an Open Source Officer

    Here’s a job title you may not have considered: Open Source Officer. The CIA hires Open Source Officers (OSOs) to collect and analyze publicly available information in foreign affairs to provide unique insights into national security issues. OSOs may specialize in an area of the world (country or region) or a specific topic (like, emerging media technologies or cyber security).

  • Puppet Labs’ Kanies: ‘The Right Resources to the Right Relationships

    “The biggest danger is when an open source company gets confused about what it sells. If you think you are selling open source software, there aren’t a lot of buyers for that now,” said Puppet Labs Founder and CEO Luke Kanies. “But if you have promises about what you sell, those promises make a very lucrative business. “

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox OS Simulator 3.0 released, dev phones still sold out

        Mozilla released its first fully-baked simulation engine for Firefox OS, while the first Geeksphone “Keon” development phones for the open source Linux-based mobile operating system remain sold out. Firefox OS Simulator 3.0 adds rotation and geolocation API simulations, faster boot-times, and a push-to-device feature that lets users transfer apps to a developer phone.

      • 1,000 Firefox Phones In the Wild!
  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Oracle VM: Past, Present and Future of Oracle Virtualization

      Is Oracle VM, built on the open source Xen hypervisor, a true market alternative to VMware vSphere and Microsoft Hyper-V virtualization? And will Oracle leap beyond virtualization to support Software Defined Networking (SDN)? Perhaps it’s time to rethink those questions — especially as a new Oracle Desktop Virtualization offering (called Oracle Secure Global Desktop) reaches the market. Here’s the update, including an exclusive interview with Oracle Senior VP Wim Coekaerts.

  • Education

    • Teaching the open source creative tool, Blender, to high school students

      Blender is a powerful open source 3D drawing and animation program. This software was previously a commercial product, but is now available as a free download. Blender has been used to create stunningly beautiful 3D animated videos, including Big Buck Bunny. Check out some of the gorgeous animated movies made with Blender at the web site’s Features Gallery.

  • BSD

    • FuguIta-5.3 †

      Test Releases

      2013-04-19 – First ISO image as a test release.
      Based on OpenBSD 5.3 (not official release yet)
      No additional application softwares

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • Trisquel GNU/Linux flies the flag for software freedom

      Trisquel is a 100 per cent ‘free as in free speech’ GNU/Linux distribution started by Rubén Rodríguez Pérez nine years ago.

      “It started as a project at the university I was studying at. They just wanted a custom distro because… everybody was doing that at the time!” Pérez says.

  • Licensing

    • Red Hat CEO: We don’t need Microsoft to succeed

      Jim Whitehurst has been president and CEO of prominent Linux distributor Red Hat since December 2007. During that time, Red Hat has blazed a trail in becoming a profitable vendor in the open source software space, challenging Microsoft and Unix companies and adding such technologies as the JBoss application server. InfoWorld Editor at Large Paul Krill spoke with Whitehurst, asking him about the company’s dealings with Microsoft, how Linux sizes up against rivals, and where Red Hat’s technology is headed.

  • Programming

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Open Source, Open Standards 2013 conference report

      Last week Open Source, Open Standards 2013 took place in London, an event focused on the public sector. Naturally these being two topics we’re very keen on here at OSS Watch I went along too.

      Overall the key message to take away from the event was just how central to public sector IT strategy these two themes have become, and also how policy is being rapidly turned into practice, everywhere from the NHS to local government.

Leftovers

  • The world-changing libwww is 20 years old today

    On 30 April 1993, Tim Berners-Lee and Robert Cailliau were given official permission by CERN in Geneva to distribute the libwww library free of charge, “to create a server or a browser, to give it away or sell it, without any royalty or other constraint. Whew!” (Tim Berners-Lee in Weaving the Web).

    The architects of this particular World Wide Web (WWW) anniversary deserve recognition even today, though the commercialisation of the internet was certainly not their objective. Complex negotiations between the universities involved were required before the go-ahead for a general release could be given – there was no commercial involvement at that time.

  • ‘The Single Most Valuable Document In The History Of The World Wide Web’
  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

  • Security

    • How to fend off aggressive white-hat hackers

      Nice little business you have there, but it has vulnerabilities. It would be a shame if anything happened to it. Can I help?

    • D-Link update closes voyeur’s ASCII peephole

      Network equipment supplier D-Link has released firmware security updates for five routers and eight IP cameras. Whilst the router vulnerabilities are strongly reminiscent of vulnerabilities previously fixed in other models, the camera vulnerabilities conceal a nasty surprise – unauthorised viewers can intercept the camera stream as either a video stream or ASCII output.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Israeli bombing of Syria and moral relativism

      On Sunday, Israel dropped massive bombs near Damascus, ones which the New York Times, quoting residents, originally reported (then evidently deleted) resulted in explosions “more massive than anything the residents of the city. . . have witnessed during more than two years of war.” The Jerusalem Post this morning quoted “a senior Syrian military source” as claiming that “Israel used depleted uranium shells”, though that is not confirmed. The NYT cited a “high-ranking Syrian military official” who said the bombs “struck several critical military facilities in some of the country’s most tightly secured and strategic areas” and killed “dozens of elite troops stationed near the presidential palace”, while the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said that “at least 42 soldiers were killed in the strikes, and another 100 who would usually be at the targeted sites remain unaccounted for.”

    • ‘Israel used depleted uranium shells in air strike’ – Syrian source

      Israel used “a new type of weapon”, a senior official at the Syrian military facility that came under attack from the Israeli Air Force told RT.

      [...]

      Depleted uranium is a by-product of the uranium enrichment process that creates nuclear weapons, and was first used by the US in the Gulf conflict of 1991. Unlike the radioactive materials used in nuclear weapons, depleted uranium is not valued for its explosiveness, but for its toughness – it is 2.5 times as dense as steel – which allows it to penetrate heavy protection.

    • Killing Syrians – A Game Anyone Can Play

      Israel’s massive air strikes against Syria are, beyond argument, illegal. There is no provision in international law that enables you to bomb another country because that country is in internal chaos. Yet the reporting on the BBC, and indeed throughout the mainstream media, makes no mention of their illegality, and makes no mention of the people killed. Contrast this to the condemnatory tone of BBC reporting of North Korean ballistic missile tests, or of Iran’s civil uranium enrichment programme, both of which I view as neither wise nor desirable, but both of which are undoubtedly quite legal.

    • What’s the Standard on Reporting Israeli Airstrikes?

      These airstrikes bring to mind the previous round of Israeli airstrikes inside Syria in January of this year (FAIR Blog, 2/4/13). Then, like now, the story from anonymous officials was that Israel struck a convoy of weapons heading to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Those sources were telling U.S. reporters what had happened, and some of those reporters were reporting these anonymous claims as “confirmation” of the story.

      All of this could be true, of course. Or perhaps none of it is. What is certain is that the assessments of the airstrikes are being shared anonymously by governments involved in carrying them out, a scenario that cries out for more skepticism.

    • Peace march for nuclear-free world sets out from Tokyo for Hiroshima

      Around 1,000 people set out Monday on a three-month peace march from Tokyo to Hiroshima in western Japan, calling for the abolishment of nuclear weapons and nuclear power generation, according to organizers.

    • NRA Vendor Sells Ex-Girlfriend Target That Bleeds When You Shoot It
  • Finance

    • Goldman Sachs tax deal: minister backed plan to challenge whistleblower

      David Gauke reacted positively to plan to challenge Osita Mba’s account of ‘sweetheart’ deal, according to leaked emails

    • Lawson: The Banker’s Poison is Out

      It was of course Lawson who was Thatcher’s accomplice in destroying most of our real industries, the ones which actually made something visible. It was replaced by the crazed idea of elevating the financial services sector, from providers of middlemen services for a small percentage, into the greatest net recipients of income in the economy, through creation of price gambling instruments and South Sea Bubble schemes. The result has on average cost everybody in the UK and US the equivalent of their housing cost again in extra tax, plus plunged the entire world into recession.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • ALEC Assembles “Most Wanted” List, and Oklahomans Say “ALEC Is Not OK”

      In anticipation of protests at ALEC’s recent meeting in Oklahoma City, state legislators were handed a set of talking points that read “The American Legislative Exchange Council recognizes the first amendment rights of free speech and assembly, and asks that _____ do the same,” apparently to prepare legislators for press questions about citizen activism. But ALEC didn’t live up to those spoon-fed talking points: ALEC assembled a dossier of disfavored reporters and activists, kicked reporters out of its conference who might write unfavorable stories, and managed to boot a community forum critical of ALEC from its reserved room.

    • ALEC’s Latest “Transparency” Move: Asserting Immunity From Freedom of Information Laws

      Shortly after the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) told the press “we really believe in transparency,” new documents show the organization directing legislators to hide ALEC meeting agendas and model legislation from the public. This effort to circumvent state freedom of information laws is being called “shocking” and “disturbing” by transparency advocates.

  • Privacy

    • Privacy Alert: #0 Introduction

      For more than a year, the EU Parliament have been examining the Proposal for a Regulation of the EU Commission aimed at reforming the European data protection legal framework. Until now, the parliamentary committees examining the Proposal have so far proposed to restrict the protections of our fundamental right to privacy. As a crucial vote is approaching1 in the “Civil Liberties” (LIBE) Committee, La Quadrature du Net launches a series of analysis dealing with key points, stakes, development and threats of the reform.

  • Civil Rights

    • Those Who Send Innocents to Prison Are Not Like Innocents Who Are Sent to Prison

      Columnist Jim Dwyer, one of the brighter lights at the New York Times, had an exceptionally dim moment on Friday (5/3/13)–comparing sending innocent teenagers to prison with holding the prosecutor who did so accountable.

      Dwyer was writing about a petition that asked that Manhattan assistant district attorney Elizabeth Lederer–the lead prosecutor in the case of the Central Park Five, young African-Americans who were falsely convicted of rape–lose her part-time teaching position at Columbia Law School.

    • NSA plans new computing center for cyber threats

      A new computing facility at the National Security Agency will help the country better defend against cyber attacks , agency officials and members of Congress said Monday.

    • OLC responds to FOIA request about NDAA memos
    • Eric Posner: Why Obama is slow to shut Guantanamo
    • Boston Marathon bombing is no reason to shred the Constitution: As I See It

      During last year’s U.S. floor debate on the reauthorization of the notorious “indefinite detention” sections of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2012 (NDAA), Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) shouted at a hypothetical detainee, “And when they say, ‘I want my lawyer,’ you tell them, ‘Shut up.’ You don’t get a lawyer.”

    • Terror and ‘Terror!’

      The definitions of terror currently employed by Washington are far more ambiguous. The United States government has passed laws (e.g. The Patriot Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act [FISA], the National Defense Authorization Act [NDAA]) that are grounded on broad formulations of what constitutes terrorist acts. They include an encompassing category of aiding and abetting terrorism. These statutes are so loosely drawn that, as a practical matter, a terrorist is anyone the authorities want to declare a terrorist. It should be noted that the U.S. government’s charge against the Boston bomber includes “the use of weapons of mass destruction.” Anyone want to define WMD in this context? For scholarly and analytical purposes, therefore, the term “terrorism” as widely employed has no value — unless the subject of study is its several uses and abuses. For the purpose of making ethical judgments, these broad formulations are equally pointless since they do not frame the questions of standards, responsibility and accountability in any instructive way. In the vocabulary of American officials, and most commentators, “terrorism” is used for hortatory purposes alone.

    • Noam Chomsky: Obama’s Attack on Civil Liberties Has Gone Way Beyond Imagination

      Noam Chomsky: I don’t know what base he’s appealing to. If he thinks he’s appealing to the nationalist base, well, they’re not going to vote for him anyway. That’s why I don’t understand it. I don’t think he’s doing anything besides alienating his own natural base. So it’s something else.
      What it is is the same kind of commitment to expanding executive power that Cheney and Rumsfeld had. He kind of puts it in mellifluous terms and there’s a little difference in his tone. It’s not as crude and brutal as they were, but it’s pretty hard to see much of a difference.

    • Inside Guantánamo: An unprecedented rebellion leaves a notorious detention centre in crisis

      Special Report: Lawyers and human rights groups say it is just a matter of time before the detainees start to die

    • Greece’s people show the politicians how to fight Golden Dawn

      For many Greeks, Orthodox Easter is a chance to see friends and family, to eat good food or to worship. But for the neo-Nazis in Golden Dawn, who only recently made the switch from “Hellenic” paganism to a professed love for Christianity, it has been an opportunity for propaganda. Last Thursday, the party made headlines with its attempt to stage a “Greeks-only” food distribution in Athens’s Syntagma square. The next day, when Athenians were driving back to home towns and villages, Golden Dawn members held open motorway toll booths – which have become a symbolic point of resistance against the rising cost of living in the wake of austerity – so cars could pass for free.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • FFII letter to European Parliament Trade committee on agreement with US

      Today the FFII sent a letter to the European Parliament committee on International Trade. Thursday 25 April 2013 the committee will vote on 198 amendments to a draft resolution on the EU – US trade agreement (TTIP / TAFTA)

    • Copyrights

      • Federal Judge Fires Phasers, Photons at Prenda for $80k Damages

        The long-awaited order following last month’s Prenda Law sanctions hearing is now out, and it’s a doozy. After a hearing that lasted 12 minutes and consisted of lawyers pleading the fifth, there was little doubt that Federal Judge Otis Wright was not best pleased, and it was evident in the order he released late yesterday.

      • Megaupload Launches Frontal Attack on White House Corruption

        Megaupload’s legal team are not restricting their fight with the U.S. Government only to the courts. Today they published a detailed white paper accusing the White House of selling out to corporate interests, particularly Hollywood. “The message is clear. The White House is for sale. More and more of our rights are eroding away to protect the interests of large corporations and their billionaire shareholders,” Dotcom summarizes.

      • The Copyright Lobotomy: How Intellectual Property Makes Us Pretend To Be Stupid

        Here are two words that have no business hanging out together: “used MP3s.” If you know anything about how computers work, that concept is intellectually offensive. Same goes for “ebook lending”, “digital rental” and a host of other terms that have emerged from the content industries’ desperate scramble to do the impossible: adapt without changing.

      • U.S. Govt. Attack on Megaupload Bears Hallmarks of ‘Digital Gitmo’

        …powerful corporations are deemed to be of greater importance than the rights of individuals.

Gates, Ballmer, and Zuckerberg Lobby Together Against Public Interests, Relying on Corruptible Officials

Posted in Bill Gates, Microsoft, Steve Ballmer at 5:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg
Gates, Zuckerberg Meet for Wired Cover Shoot (fair use)

Summary: Mark Zuckerberg gets closer to Microsoft not just on the technical/corporate front but also on lobbying, including non-technical and non-corporate lobbying

Bill Gates has been trying to acquire cheaper labour with fewer workers’ protections. He recruited lobbyists such as the criminal Abramoff, who had also worked for Bill’s father.

Recently, the partly Microsoft-owned Facebook, which lobbies against Google with Microsoft-favoured AstroTurfers, has been doing the same type of visa lobbying and “it’s stocked with softers and thus only serves to forward their agenda using mark’s money,” reminds us a reader. Mark Zuckerberg is a Gates wannabe and he recently confessed he would have joined Microsoft if Facebook had not succeeded.

Facebook is showing yet more signs of aligning with Microsoft, as Gates and Ballmer both align with Zuckerberg:

Mark Zuckerberg adds Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer to his FWD.us lobbying group

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg launched an immigration reform group, FWD.us, earlier this month, designed to promote innovation and investment in the US jobs market. After teaming up with some high-profile technology executives and venture capitalists to form the group, Zuckerberg is adding some more household names today: Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer.

Zuckerberg has also been lobbying schools, just like his role model, bribing them for change while pretending to help children and marketing it as such.

The Gates Foundation is again being criticised for what it does to schools. Teachers are catching on, but can they teach the wider population about it in spite of media ownership or bribery by the likes of Gates? Here is what the veteran educator writes:

Bill Gates’s School Panopticon

The latest effort by Bill Gates to reform schools involves spending $5 billion on video cameras in every classroom (“Bill Gates Wants America to Spend $5B for Video Cameras in Every Classroom,” Education News, Apr. 24). Reformers like the idea because they say it will prevent teachers from offering excuses for the failure of their students to learn. Of course, the cameras will also provide evidence of student misbehavior, which reformers ignore in their criticism of teachers.

For people in education to confront Gates it takes some guts because some face retaliatory firings/suspensions for merely saying the truth.

In India, where corruption levels are notorious, education officials recently sold out to Microsoft. A blogger of Indian descent says they betrayed more than just software freedom, fair tendering, and national sovereignty:

AICTE is putting Indian students under US surveillance

The All India Council for Technical Education (AICTE) may be an education body, but it needs quite some education itself. It’s recent decision to ‘force’ it’s students to use Microsoft’s proprietary and vendor locked Online Productivity suite raises many serious questions.

[...]

Indian students under US surveillance

AICTE is also putting it’s students data under the eyes of Microsoft where the company will know everything that these students do using its online suite. The US government will also have access to this user-data. Unlike Google Microsoft doesn’t stand for user’s rights. The company very closely works with the US government to support bills like SOPA and CISPA. Since Microsoft is a US company, and by using its cloud service the US government will have direct access to the data of these students and AICTE is making a huge mistake by doing so.

A former FBI official has just publicly admitted that the US collects call recordings and digital communications from all over the world. It’s not only illegal but also expensive, counter-productive, and bound to lead more people to face-to-face conversations, especially those who plot to commit acts of violence (so those under surveillance will be law-abiding citizens or dissidents).

Facebook too is US surveillance. Tying all of this together, what we have here is a bunch of globalists seeking to control and brainwash young people while also devaluing workers and leaving college graduates out of a job. It’s all about power. All that lobbying has got nothing to do with education, opportunity, or public good; it is about the private profit of very few billionaires like Gates and Zuckerberg. Sociopaths should never be given so much power.

Mark Zuckerberg

“i’m going to fuck them, probably in the ear.. . I have over 4000 emails, pictures, addresses, sns, people just submitted it, i don’t know why, they “trust me”, dumb fucks”Mark Zuckerberg

When GNU/Linux Backers Can’t Tell the USPTO That It’s Broken, Software Patents Illegitimate

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, GNU/Linux, Google, Patents, Red Hat, Samsung, SCO at 5:01 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Accepting the status quo, like sheep led to slaughter

Electric fence

Summary: Red Hat is too soft on the issue of software patents, based on its comments to the USPTO; Linux/Android continue to suffer from software patents in court cases which may last years

Red Hat has hardly been a flag bearer in the fight against software patents. It is not as bad as IBM, but it is not always helpful, either. Red Hat itself is filing to receive software patents of its own, making a distinction between what it calls “bad” software patents and “good” software patents. It tends to focus on trolls and in its Web site OpenSource.com (Red Hat-run) it has almost a monopoly on views regarding software patents.

Nevertheless, in the wake of USPTO opening up to feedback Red Hat is making its policy known:

The USPTO has been asking the public to respond to a series of questions with suggestions on improving patents. It is aware that the technical community isn’t happy with the way patents are being issued, particularly software patents. You are familiar with some of the USPTO’s questions, because we at Groklaw responded to two of them, topic 1 on how to improve software patents, regarding functional language, and topic 2, suggestions for future topics for discussion.

Red Hat’s suggestions play along the lines of software patents as a given, which is problematic. Groklaw‘s ‘cref 66895 suggestions], on the other hand, were very good and they are essential for a meaningful discussion of the real issues. Elsewhere in Groklaw there is a discussion about a legal case involving the best-selling Linux devices, the ones from Samsung. Here are the latest two updates on that:

1. Joint Case Management Statement Filed in Apple v. Samsung

The judge in the first Apple v. Samsung patent case in California, the Hon. Lucy Koh, asked the parties to file a joint case management statement, just in case she decides to go forward with an immediate second jury on the issue of damages on the 14 products where the first jury got the math wrong. And they have now done so [PDF]. There will be a hearing on all this on April 29. Of course, they disagree. Because they don’t agree on how to go forward, they each set out their positions, once again. The short version is that Apple wants to hurry up and have the trial immediately and Samsung wants to hear from the appeals court before the new damages trial goes forward, so as to ensure the same mistakes aren’t repeated.

2. Judge Koh’s Order in Apple v Samsung: No Stay on Damages Retrial, Unless…

Judge Lucy Koh has reached a decision [PDF] on going forward on the retrial on damages in Apple v. Samsung. Trial is set now for November 12th, on damages only, same Daubert rulings, motions in limine, discovery disputes, and evidentiary objections ruled on the same as the first trial, meaning if she made mistakes in the first trial, they’ll be repeated in the retrial. “The parties may not relitigate these issues,” she writes. So it’s all for the appeal court to figure out. She isn’t interested in reviewing all that. So if the appeals court orders a third trial, that’s the way it will have to be. She wants to keep the damages retrial short and sweet and limited to just one issue, and then send it on its way to appeal, so no new theories and no new fact discovery. There is a schedule for expert discovery. The jury will be 8 people, with the parties’ given three peremptory challenges each. Apple asked for the very same jury instructions, but she says they will get together on October 17th to discuss “how to
present infringement and validity findings” to the new jury. Other than that, she is silent on that point.

Trial expected at the end of this year, eh? Justice is taking too long, so it’s SCO all over again in that respect. What needs to occur some time in the next year or two is elimination of software parents in the United States (or radical cut-down). Red Hat just doesn’t go far enough to achieve that. We need other fronts in the fight against software patents; Google ain’t it, either.

US Entities Microsoft and Apple Stop Paying US Tax, Borrow Money Instead

Posted in Apple, Finance, Microsoft at 4:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Stopping contribution to their home country

Stop signs

Summary: The financial games of Microsoft and Apple culminate in more loan-taking manoeuvres, which give legs to speculations and rumours

ARE Microsoft and Apple good for the US economy? It depends on whose economy. Microsoft made some few Americans very affluent, but those people and the company they work(ed) for, Microsoft, do not pay tax, or only pay negligible amounts in tax. Apple, to a certain degree, is the same.

The other day we showed 'legalised' tax avoidance using corporate tricks that lobbyists make "legal". We showed how Microsoft moles in government let Microsoft avoid billions in tax, leaving others to fill the fiscal gap. This is robbery, technically speaking, but nobody will be sent to jail for it because the legal system is controlled by those with a lot of money,

According to this report as well as others, Apple keeps much of its money abroad, despite being US-based. With an estimated 22-30 trillion dollars (global aggregate) in offshore tax havens, this too deserves criticism. No wonder the richest families continue to gain trillions in value every year while others struggle to earn enough money for food and shelter. Microsoft has been doing this for years as well and it still does it.

Microsoft Corp. (MSFT), one of four U.S. companies with a top credit rating from Standard & Poor’s and Moody’s Investors Service, sold $2.67 billion of bonds with a portion of euro-denominated debt paying a record-low coupon.

The world’s largest software maker issued bonds in euros for the first time, raising 550 million euros ($715 million) with 20-year, 2.625 percent notes, the lowest coupon among similar-maturity, non-financial corporate bonds sold in that currency, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. The debt pays 55 basis points more than swaps.

Microsoft has debt to repay. We wrote about this in many posts for over half a decade. Contrary to common myths, Microsoft is not always profitable, but it is always corrupt, at times with its finances, too.

“One strategy that Microsoft has employed in the past is paying for the silence of people and companies. Charles Pancerzewski, formerly Microsoft’s chief auditor, became aware of Microsoft’s practice of carrying earnings from one accounting period into another, known as “managing earnings”. This practice smoothes reported revenue streams, increases share value, and misleads employees and shareholders. In addition to being unethical, it’s also illegal under U.S. Securities Law and violates Generally Accepted Accounting Practices (Fink).

2002 story about Charles Pancerzewski, Microsoft

Seattle Courts in the Business of Serving Microsoft, Attacking Android/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Patents, RAND at 3:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Pioneer square

Summary: Yet another display of bias from the state in which former Microsoft executives run the government and write the policy

A few days ago we wrote about 'former' Microsoft people inside Washington state authorities enabling Microsoft to avoid billions of dollars in taxes. This is corruption through infiltration.

There is a major battle going on over the future of Android. A lot of money is at stake. Apple and Microsoft are suing Motorola (Google) and the MSBBC serves their party line, still (the BBC has been Android-hostile for years).

The Seattle courts, as biased (in favour of Microsoft) as one should expect them to be, continue to harm Android. After Microsoft had sued Motorola there was an attempt at deterrence by Motorola, but the courts don’t let it be. As CBS put it: “Judge determines Motorola is entitled to $1.8 million in royalty rates for patents used in Xbox — not the $4 billion it had sought.”

Notice the following remarks:

The Verge asks if anyone can work out why Google bought Motorola. Their argument being that they’re not having much luck in enforcing the patent portfolio against anyone so therefore that’s $12.5 billion just wasted.

Google sought to prevent the Apple/Microsoft cartel from getting Motorola’s ammunition like the cartel got Nortel’s and Novell’s. Google can also use Motorola’s portfolio for deterrence, but silly corruptible Seattle courts are one-sided. How many people in this system are former Microsoft staff?

Motorola will get 3.5¢ per Xbox; not the $4-$6 per machine it wanted.

Here is good coverage and a post about “FRAND, Uncertainty & Doubt”:

It’s been interesting to watch the latest patent litigation between Microsoft and Motorola. The judge’s opinion have been well documented (see Groklaw’s copy here and an annotated one there over at the Essential Patent blog). Now I’m not going to offer an informed legal perspective in this post and by the way, “IANAL”. What I’m expressing here are the views of someone who’s been in the I.T. industry, the field of digital standards and Free Software for over a decade.

FRAND has had until the end of the month of April 2013 no definition. What “Fair” terms, let along “Reasonable And Non Discriminatory” mean had no agreed definition. Worse, it had no definition at all. It is the first time that a U.S. judge is struggling with this matter and while it is applied to a specific case only (the use of patents in the H.264 codec claimed by Motorola to be used by Microsoft in its products), it is nonetheless interesting to see someone actually tried to evaluate them.

Here is an earlier report and some further analysis:

I’ve found some materials that I think will help us to put the order [PDF] from Judge James Robart in context, the order setting a RAND rate for Microsoft to pay Motorola. From the materials, particularly this report [PDF] from a conference on patent pools and standards bodies held in Brussels in April, 2012, I think you will see that the judge has used the wrong ruler, namely patent pools, to set a rate that is not fair to Motorola for its standards patents. And as you will see, that is the very danger that the conference highlighted, that patent pools can impede innovation, by lowering the price for newcomers to a field who wish to merely implement the standard, like Microsoft, by letting them unfairly underpay those who did the research to develop the standard, as in Motorola.

At the same time, Seattle court are pounding Motorola. Is this justice or “just us” (Seattle)?

New FOSS FUD Linked to Microsoft Staff

Posted in FUD, Microsoft at 3:38 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Scaring home and business users who explore Free/Open Source Software (FOSS)

Warning sign

Summary: A Zeitgeist of FOSS hostility, with strong links to proprietary software and sometimes to Microsoft too

WHEN SOMEONE invests time and effort collecting data with which to demonise FOSS, one should expect a lot of output (publication) effort to follow. Attention whore Florian Müller would know the feeling as it’s about driving business (lobbying), not pushing a point of view. It did not take Xuxian Jiang (and some colleagues) too long to rear that ugly heads again, pretending that Android has a big malware (or even “virus”) issue, mischaracterising the system under the flawed assumption that anti-virus is needed at all (this myth is being spread to salespeople too). Watch this article and notice that the authors are never named. Some worked for Microsoft. Isn’t that relevant? They are overlooking the real problem, Microsoft Windows, instead picking on Android. It is noteworthy that ISPs start disconnecting customers for using Microsoft Windows, based on this new story which says:

A few days ago I talked with a young woman whose ISP had notified her of disconnection if she did not take care of her malware spamming the network. Over the phone we discovered that she had managed to install an anti-virus application but had not even her firewall running… She did not need this stress during the last couple of weeks of her school year.

This is not FUD but a real issue associated with Windows, and only Windows. Speaking of the FUD business, recently we compared Univa to Black Duck, which came from Microsoft and liaised with Microsoft. We see a similar pattern in this proprietary software sympathiser (Sonatype) which spreads security-themed FUD about FOSS. A FOSS-hostile site [1, 2] covered it as follows:

Sonatype’s annual survey of 3,500 software developers and shows struggle in setting corporate policy on open source and enforcing it

Last but not least, see this proprietary software player contributing to FOSS FUD:

CAST Software is a software analysis and measurement firm that uses an automated approach to capture and quantify the reliability, security, complexity and size of business applications. A main company objective is increasing software assurance around reliability and security of applications delivered to the U.S. government.

CAST is proprietary, like all the above. How come they get a near-monopoly on information regarding FOSS? We must work hard to prevent the proprietary software business taking over the voice of FOSS [1, 2].

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