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05.09.13

Links 9/5/2013: Facebook Exploitation of Android, Copyright and Privacy Legal Threats

Posted in News Roundup at 11:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source for software taxation

    Finance Act 2012 introduced several retrospective amendments, purportedly ‘clarificatory’, to the Income-tax Act, 1961, with respect to non-resident taxpayers. A key amendment was the extension of ‘royalty’ to include payment toward shrink-wrapped software, connectivity charges, transponder hire charges and so on. Another significant amendment related to “indirect transfer” of capital assets located in India, thereby overcoming the Supreme Court decision in the case of Vodafone.

  • Continuent Tungsten Replicator Is Now 100% Open Source
  • Using open source to build sustainable communities

    A forthcoming documentary from Filament Features will feature the work of the Open Source Ecology project, which aims to produce a set of open source tools capable of building environmentally sustainable communities.

  • Open-source goes RF

    Radio frequency (RF) signals run from about 3kHz to 300GHz. As a test and measurement designer, some of my data acquisition rates will get into the 100s of kHz, or perhaps up to 10s of MHz with a digital oscilloscope, but usually that’s all. I also typically try to use existing protocols for as much of the communication as I can, typically USB, Serial, GPIB, SPI, I2C or occasionally Ethernet, Wi-Fi or radio.

  • Advantages of open source for SMEs

    More and more SMEs are turning to open source IT and telephony solutions for a variety of reasons, among them cost savings and the flexibility to manage systems such as scaling up or down, according to business needs.

  • Open Source Homomorphic Cryptography

    How fast things move from theoretical, through experimental to implementation. It was only recently that a semi-practical scheme for homomorphic encryption was invented and we already have an open source implementation in C++.

  • Open Source Geospatial Laboratory established at the University of Southampton, UK

    We are pleased to announce the establishment of the Open Source Geospatial Laboratory at the University of Southampton, United Kingdom.

  • Gluu Provides Toshiba Open Source Authorization and Authentication Platform for New Cloud TV Services

    Gluu’s open source authorization and authentication platform, OX, will enable the next generation of Toshiba Cloud TV Services to authenticate consumers and integrate with popular Internet apps.

  • MapR releases M7, its commercial HBase distro
  • “Open Source Technology Will Bring In A Services-Based Model With A Reasonable Opex, Zero Capex”

    OSS facilitates the preservation of a wide range of information for future developments and it comes with considerable financial savings. Government institutes and PSUs are looking forward to more adoption and implementation of OSS in their IT infrastructure. The increasing awareness of open source in the public and government sector has been one of the significant developments in IT technology.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Packaged apps now available in Chrome Web Store

        Chrome users can have enhanced experience with what Google calls the packaged apps which are now available throuh the Chrome Web Store. Google had announced the developer preview of Chrome packaged apps and the Chrome App Launcher a few months ago. Google enabled developers to upload their packaged apps to the Chrome Web Store and test them, but there was no way for users to find those apps an install them.

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Databases

    • MySQL storage engine TokuDB goes open source

      Version 7 of TokuDB, Tokutek’s high performance MySQL Database storage engine, has been released as an open source community edition and as a new supported TokuDB Enterprise Edition. TokuDB has previously been a proprietary storage engine for MySQL which has specialised in handling write-intensive workloads. Developed orignally by researchers at MIT, Rutgers and the State University of New York, the storage engine uses Fractal Tree indexing, a technique based on cache-oblivious algorithms.

    • Another Open-Source Win with Tokutek’s MySQL Storage Engine
  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • New Project to Create the First Java Open Source Office Suite

      At the moment most of the office suite are developed in C++ or in JavaScript. Joeffice is the first open source office suite in Java. Japplis has chosen the Apache license 2.0 which makes it possible to change the code without the need to share the modified code.

  • CMS

    • The Four Worst Myths about Open Source CMS

      4. There is no training or support if you choose open source.

      Um, no. Any developer who has spent time honing his open source craft can tell you that this is untrue. Just because some well-funded proprietary CMS hosts an annual conference doesn’t mean that the open source users lacks support. Open source users can find online help, forums, paid classes, local meet ups, YouTube how-tos, expensive manuals, more expensive consultants, and whizz-bang contract developers. The support and training are there; they just don’t get packaged into some monthly fee along with the CMS itself.

    • Victoria Legal aid taps Drupal for website redesign

      Victoria Legal Aid has gone live with a new Web presence based on Drupal. Previously the organisation, which provides legal aid to disadvantaged Victorians, used the proprietary RedDot content management system.

    • Arlington Board OKs Sharing Website Code with Open-Source Community

      With a nod to the open government movement, the Arlington County Board this weekend unanimously approved making portions of the programming behind the county website publicly available.

    • Joomla! 3.1 Released; Open Source Content Management System (CMS) Adds Tags to Its Core

      Joomla, one of the world’s most popular open source content management systems (CMS) used for everything from websites to blogs to Intranets, today announced the immediate availability of Joomla 3.1. The biggest feature of Joomla 3.1 is Tags, a built-in tagging system that allows dynamic tagging across content-types. Tags hasn’t been created for articles only, but rather Joomla integrated tagging into other areas of its core that made sense (e.g. contacts, feeds, etc). For example, Tags allow end-users to create lists, blogs, or other layouts that combine articles with other content types any way they like. These tags can be dynamically created from the content, without having to navigate to the Tags component, thus bringing both power and simplicity.

    • Joomla finally gets built-in tagging

      Administrators of the Joomla blogging platform and content management system can now tag their content so it will be better indexed and automatically routed to the correct locations on their websites.

    • Alert: What’s Coming Up for Open Source CMS in May 2013
  • Education

  • Healthcare

  • Business

  • Funding

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Project Releases

    • Blender 2.67 renders cartoons

      For about 2 years, the Blender open source 3D modelling package has included Cycles, a render engine that uses path tracing. This engine can be used to produce photorealistic images with little effort. Until now, those who wanted to render a graphical or cartoon-like image for a 3D model had to use Blender’s internal render engine for such Non-Photorealistic Rendering (NPR). However, this engine is quite old and doesn’t always produce convincing results. The new version 2.67 of Blender closes the gap by offering the Freestyle cartoon render engine. Freestyle uses 3D geometry to calculate lines that can either be used on their own or combined with the surface rendering results from other engines.

  • Public Services/Government

    • Just how secure is open source software?

      The US government is also a vocal supporter of open source software. Examples of recent initiatives include whitehouse.gov, the Federal Register and data.gov. Much of the internet is run using open source tools such as Linux, Apache, PHP and MySQL, while a plethora of companies have found good business cases for using open source software. Don Smith, director of technology at Dell SecureWorks, says the main reason businesses would pick free and open source software (FOSS) over proprietary technology is to save money. He also suggests that open source software frequently offers greater innovation than proprietary systems.

      [...]

      So, good reasons to go for open source software, but what about security? Many people view open source software as something that can be changed or edited by anybody, much like a Wikipedia entry. That generally isn’t the case, however, as open source communities usually have mechanisms in place to prevent such random tinkering – for example, submitting new code to a peer review before it is entered into a particular project. Furthermore, Smith says one of the most common misconceptions about FOSS is the belief that it is written by amateur coders – again, typically untrue.

      “The vast majority of FOSS is written by software professionals, very often employed by a company that is making money from that same software, either through subscriptions, support or professional services. It is obviously in the interest of these businesses to ensure their software works well and their coding is of high quality,” he says.

    • Government can reap benefits of IT commoditisation by embracing open source

      Government departments can improve competitiveness in procurement by increasing use of open source software in an increasingly commoditised IT market, according to Tariq Rashid , head of IT reform at the Cabinet Office.

    • Second Open Gov Summit hosted by Zaizi challenges UK public sector to put users at the centre of the IT universe

      The second Open Gov Summit took place yesterday April 25th at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors, in the heart of Westminster. London-based open source consultancy Zaizi hosted the fully-booked Summit, which attracted IT professionals from central and local government and third sector organisations. The Summit revealed encouraging progress for open source in the public sector, helped by the government’s decision to adopt open standards last November. This year’s debate also emphasised the growing relevance of Cloud as organisations migrate to more open, flexible architectures and deliver applications through a wider range of devices.

    • Study: Greek authorities need education on open source and its procurement

      Public administrations in Greece would benefit from a campaign to increase their knowledge on open source, including how to best procure such solutions, recommends a study published on Joinup yesterday. In procurement, public administrations should request experience in managing open source projects.

    • Open source software quality floated

      Pham Hong Quang, Chair of the Vietnam Free and Open Source Software Association (VFOSSA) has confirmed that the quality of products is the greatest concern of the agencies and enterprises planning to use open source software.

    • Spanish region saves a fortune by moving to open source

      In a victory for the free software movement, the Spanish autonomous region of Extremadura has started to switch more than 40,000 government PCs to open source.

    • Open Gov Summit: Bristol aspires to match New York’s smart use of data

      We caught up with Gavin Beckett, chief enterprise architect at Bristol city council, to discuss open data and designing smart cities

  • Openness/Sharing

Leftovers

  • Health/Nutrition

    • EU retailers pledge support for Brazilian non-GMO soy

      Today (8 May 2013) major European retailers from five countries, including Germany’s REWE Group, EDEKA and LIDL have released the Brussels Soy Declaration in which they have pledged support for the non-GMO soy production system of Brazil.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Jehovah’s Witnesses could face civil service duty

      Jehovah’s Witnesses’ current exemption from military service could extend to other groups with strong convictions, if one proposal in a new report on the matter is accepted. Alternatively, they could be required to perform civil, rather than military, service.

    • Deputy to NSA Donilon: a sweet stepping stone

      Others in the Donilon-Deputy Alumni Club include Denis McDonough, who’s now Obama’s chief of staff, and CIA Director John Brennan, who was Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. (And it’s worth noting that Donilon himself was the Deputy NSA before becoming the head honcho.)

    • Pakistan’s court declares US drone strikes as illegal

      A Pakistani court on Thursday declared that US drone strikes in the country’s lawless tribal belt were illegal and directed the Foreign Ministry to move a resolution against the attacks in the United Nations.

    • PHC orders govt to move resolution against drone attacks in UN

      PESHAWAR: Branding drone attacks on Pakistani territory as war crimes, the Peshawar High Court on Thursday ordered the foreign ministry to move a resolution in the United Nations against the strikes.

    • Dealing remote-control drone death, the US has lost its moral compass

      The armed drone is being heralded as the next generation of American military technology. It can fly overheard with its unblinking eye, almost invisible to its targets below. Without warning, its missiles will strike, bringing certain death and destruction on the ground. All the while, the military pilot, sitting in a cushioned recliner in an air-conditioned room halfway across the world, is immune from the violence wrought from his or her single keystroke.

    • Yemeni anti-Qaeda cleric killed in US drone strike

      Yemen has quickly become one of the most active theaters of operations for America’s drone fleet, though the killing of a local anti Al-Qaeda cleric underscores the rising collateral damage of the unmanned attacks.

      Sheik Salem Ahmed bin Ali Jaber, a prominent cleric within his small village in Yemen, was known for preaching of the evils of the al-Qaida network, warning villagers to stay out of the group and renounce their military ideology.

    • Drone Strikes Fuelling Fear in the Middle East

      Drone Strikes Fuelling Anti-U.S Hatred as Fear Spreads in Middle East

    • RAF’s role in US drone attacks that killed hundreds of Iraqis: MoD admits for first time that Britain helped pilot the aircraft from American bases
    • Armed drones in Afghanistan flown from UK for first time
    • UK Is Using Drones In Afghanistan, Ministry Of Defence Confirms

      After the Ministry of Defence confirmed the UK’s use of armed drones in Afghanistan, anti-war protestors are set to gather outside an RAF base in Lincolnshire.

      The RAF began remotely operating its Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles deployed to Afghanistan from the Lincolnshire airbase earlier this week.

    • Israel Drone Strikes: There’s Another Drone War You’re Not Paying Attention To, and It’s Not Obama’s

      While the lethal drone strikes carried out by the U.S. in Afghanistan (where Britain is also operating armed drones), Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen, get the vast majority of media attention, and rightly so, when it comes to the issue of drones being used to carry out extrajudicial killings, other countries are also engaged in the practice. On Tuesday an Israeli drone attack on Gaza City killed 29-year-old Haitham al-Mishal and wounded another Palestinian man. The attack was the “the first targeted assassination carried out by the Israeli military in the Gaza Strip since an Egyptian-brokered truce went into effect on Nov. 22, 2012.”

    • Afghanistan: Karzai says CIA funding will continue

      Afghan president Hamid Karzai says the director of the CIA has assured him that regular funding his government receives from the agency will not be cut off.

    • Failing At Its Job Is The Best Thing the CIA Has Ever Done

      No organization in U.S. history has amassed a reputation quite like that of the Central Intelligence Agency. Often referred to by its acronym, CIA, or simply just “the Agency,” it is often regarded as the long and shadowy arm of the U.S. government’s foreign policy. It can be tempting to see the agency as force for good in the world, or at the very least a necessary evil, especially when publicly vaunted heroes like Mike Spann join because in doing so they believed they “would be able to make the world a better place to live in.” The problem is that the CIA really does not do that. In fact, most of the agency’s activities are underhanded and dishonest when they are not misguided or simply futile. Even with a poor reputation at home and abroad, the CIA has done some things that actually resulted in long-term benefits to the rest of the world, mainly by publicly failing to carry out an operation to its intended end and exposing its misdeeds to the rest of the world.

    • ’67 Interview With Famous Spook About US Coup In Syria Could Easily Apply Today

      Western diplomats, politicians and analysts have combined to float quite a few options to supposedly resolve the two-year civil war engulfing much of Syria right now.

      Talk of everything from a no-fly zone to an all-out intervention has flown around the digital media and political sphere, and yet, it seems a very few have stated the obvious option: do nothing.

    • The CIA, the FCPA and the double standard on policing corruption

      It’s been a busy couple of weeks for the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the Justice Department’s versatile and hard-working anti-bribery law. On April 22, Ralph Lauren paid an $882,000 penalty in a non-prosecution agreement that resolved FCPA allegations of bribing a customs official in Argentina to permit the import of Ralph Lauren products. On May 7, prosecutors in Manhattan unsealed a criminal complaint accusing two Florida brokers of paying kickbacks to a Venezuelan state bank official who directed the bank’s financial trading business to them. The FCPA has taken some recent lumps from judges, and last year prosecutions fell off slightly from their blistering pace in 2009, 2010 and 2011. But as Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher noted in its January report on FCPA enforcement, bribery prosecution has become routine. “This is a marathon, not a sprint,” the report said, warning businesses not to let down their guard.

    • FBI, CIA, and DOD Experts Share Information Security Secrets with San Diego Companies at a Two Day Conference in La Jolla
  • Cablegate

    • Listen: Chris Hedges Interviews Julian Assange

      In these audio excerpts from their extended conversation in the Ecuadorean Embassy in London, Chris Hedges asks Julian Assange about legal strategy and the WikiLeaks founder’s thoughts on Pfc. Bradley Manning.

    • An Interview With Julian Assange
    • Julian Assange: The Internet threatens civilization

      However disappointing, the Wikileaks founder’s new book offers a fascinating — and discomfiting — thesis

    • Julian Assange plans to develop new crypto system
    • Special: WikiLeaks’ Julian Assange Open’s Up … On George Bush’s Library and Bradley Manning’s Trial
    • WikiLeaks Threat: Eric Schmidt and Jared Cohen

      But context matters, too. How different would the reaction have been, from Western governments in particular, if WikiLeaks had published stolen classified documents from the regimes in Venezuela, North Korea and Iran? If Bradley Manning, the alleged source of WikiLeaks’ materials about the United States government and military, had been a North Korean border guard or a defector from Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, how differently would politicians and pundits in the United States have viewed him? Were a string of whistle-blowing websites dedicated to exposing abuses within those countries to appear, surely the tone of the Western political class would shift. Taking into account the precedent President Barack Obama set in his first term in office— a clear “zero tolerance” approach toward unauthorized leaks of classified information from U.S. officials— we would expect that future Western governments would ultimately adopt a dissonant posture toward digital disclosures, encouraging them abroad in adversarial countries, but prosecuting them ferociously at home.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Sonora, Mex. Bans Bullfighting, a First for the Country

      Sonora has become the first Mexican state to ban bullfighting, recently passing the long-awaited Animal Protection Law addressing cruelty to animals.

      In a statement on Formato 21 radio, Perez Rubio hailed the unanimous vote on May 2 by the legislature of Mexico’s northwestern border state.

      “It has caused quite a stir because we are the first state of the republic to pass this law. I really didn’t expect–I say this with all the honesty in the world–I didn’t expect the repercussion this would have, nationally and internationally,” said local lawmaker of the Ecologist Green Party of Mexico, or PVEM, Vernon Perez Rubio, the Global Post reports.

  • Finance

    • Between Two Economists Lies the American Center

      Where media define the “center” or the “middle” tells you a lot about the worldview they are promoting. The “center” doesn’t usually indicate where most of the public is, but rather where elites have determined an appropriate middle between opposing arguments. Confusing the two concepts is common (and not an accident).

    • Goldman Sachs must face fraud claims from insurer – New York court

      Goldman Sachs Group Inc must face fraud claims brought by CIFG Assurance North America over insurance it provided for $275 million (177 million pounds) in mortgage-backed securities, a New York state appeals court ruled on Tuesday.

    • Social Security’s Explosive Injustices

      People over 65, a growing share of the US population, are suffering a crisis-ridden capitalist system. High unemployment, reduced private pensions, fewer job benefits, less job security, high personal debt levels, and falling real wages make Social Security payments more important than ever. Yet President Obama and Congress recently agreed to bargain over how much to reduce Social Security payments from current levels. That would not only hurt seniors – but also the children who help them.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

  • DRM

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

New Zealand (NZ) Commerce Minister Craig Foss Flip-Flops on Software Patents After Public Backlash

Posted in Patents at 3:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Craig Foss
Image source: Foss forced to front over Novopay fiasco

Summary: New Zealand (NZ) is back to no-software patents policy following Craig’s admission that he was acting against the interests of NZ citizens

ON NUMEROUS occasions in the past Techrights chastised Craig Foss [1, 2, 3, 4] for advancing software patents in New Zealand. Based on this morning’s report from the New Zealand Herald, “The Government has announced a change to planned new patent rules today which has put an end to fears that computer software might be covered by new patent protection.”

To quote further: “Industry sources have welcomed the decision and the Labour Party has called it “a humiliating back down”.”

“A lot of the lobbying for software patents in NZ actually came from US companies (multinationals), some of which, like IBM, have immense influence over the USPTO.”“Commerce Minister Craig Foss has released a supplementary order paper to clarify issues around the patentability of computer programmes in the Patents Bill.”

“”These changes ensure the Bill is consistent with the intention of the Commerce Select Committee recommendation that computer programs should not be patentable,” Foss said.

“The Patents Bill is designed to replace the Patents Act 1953 and update the New Zealand patent regime.

“The Commerce Select Committee recommended in 2010 that software should not be patentable, which led to lobbying from patent lawyers and others.

“Foss then released a supplementary order paper (SOP) which changed some wording in the bill and caused industry concern that he might be reversing his decision.”

Good news for a change. “New Zealand’s largest IT representative body,” says the article, “the Institute of IT Professionals, expressed relief and said a major barrier to software-led innovation had been removed.”

Paul Matthews, the chief executive of this organisation, says that (to paraphrase) “it was in New Zealand’s best interests for software to continue to be covered through the provisions of copyright – “a far more appropriate mechanism” – in the same way movies and books were… A petition launched by the industry against software patents received over 1,000 signatures in under a week…”

Over in the United States, the debate has been warped from discussing software patentability to discussing patent trolls, or “software patent trolls” as they should be more properly called.

In the US, unlike in NZ, the corporations run the government, whereas people have little power unless they run corporations. That’s why the USPTO has almost no chance of reforming like IPONZ [1, 2]. A lot of the lobbying for software patents in NZ actually came from US companies (multinationals), some of which, like IBM, have immense influence over the USPTO. We have covered many examples of this lobbying over the years.

“It’s certainly a lot more likely that Microsoft violates patents than Linux does [...] Basic operating system theory was pretty much done by the end of the 1960s. IBM probably owned thousands of really ‘fundamental’ patents [...] The fundamental stuff was done about half a century ago and has long, long since lost any patent protection.”

Linus Torvalds, 2007

Microsoft Propaganda (Managed by Microsoft Moles) to Blame Hardware Companies for Vista 8′s Failures

Posted in Hardware, Marketing, Microsoft, Vista 7, Vista 8, Windows at 1:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Great example of Microsoft PR agencies distorting the news via moles

Walking

Summary: A timely look at how ‘former’ Microsoft writers — not just current ones — help manage perceptions at Microsoft’s behalf, infiltrating the media and even forums

AS WE last explained yesterday, there is some ugly pattern of deception emanating from Microsoft boosters. They try to shift liability for the failure of Vista 8 — a failure that not even they cannot deny any longer. There are ‘former’ Microsoft writers (as in, people who used to work for Microsoft) who continue to promote Vista 8 in various ways. This one, who works for CBS right now, does this trick by saying that low-cost gadgets are “to energize the PC market”. This may be true and Microsoft is totally out of this game, right? Well, not based on his framing. The article by this Microsoft booster mentions “touch-screen laptops” to give the illusion that Microsoft is still relevant in the future. This is how propaganda works. And by citing numbers from Microsoft’s partner Net Applications in the former article he also helps give the illusion that Vista 8 adoption is wonderful. Lies so big that they can make one vomit, eh? With Windows Blue (vapourware) being the focus of Microsoft right now, it is clear that Microsoft is already giving up on Vista 8 (retreat), but the boosters carry on with their deceptive ‘reports’. Well, there are more examples like that, involving many other writers, but we just focus on this one writer (formerly of Microsoft) with his two latest articles which are flawed in order to make the point. Vista 7 relied on similar tactics, including bribery of bloggers.

There is a fairly new article which covers this fascinating and troublesome phenomenon as a whole. Charlie Demerjian’s analysis is summarised as “Unleash the astroturfers to blacken the forums ASAP” (AstroTurfing is perpetually a strategy at Microsoft).

“Given the echo chamber effect of the internet where no one seems to think about the numbers they are reporting much less actually fact check them, it is really easy to manipulate the press and create “truth”. Microsoft is quite adept at this technique.”
      –Charlie Demerjian
To quote: “So when Microsoft has good news, they shout it from the rooftops loudly. It is usually picked up by anyone that will listen and printed in just about every news outlet out there. Given the echo chamber effect of the internet where no one seems to think about the numbers they are reporting much less actually fact check them, it is really easy to manipulate the press and create “truth”. Microsoft is quite adept at this technique.”

Microsoft moles in the media are managed by Microsoft PR agencies which pass them material to publish in respective publications. That’s how it works. Demerjian continues as follows: “If change in PCs was needed to spur sales, that didn’t happen during the launches of Vista and 7. Sales rose. It did happen during the launch of Windows 8 and sales plummeted. Before you point out that change may be the actual cause of this plunge, think about one other little thing. You can still get Vista/7 form factor PCs now, you just can’t get them with those OSes. See the logical problem?

“Sadly though the damage control team, agency more likely, did their market research right. The whole fairy tale about PC makers being at fault seem to be getting some legs if not showing early signs of going viral. This is a really well thought out campaign given what they have to work with, cynical, unethical and anti-consumer though it is. Make no mistake though, it isn’t organic and is very manufactured. Things like this don’t go from nowhere to everywhere overnight without lots of backing and low wage forum drones to astroturf on your behalf. That said, it seems to be money well spent on Microsoft’s behalf.”

Be wary of the well-coordinated disinformation campaign, the deception centred around the idea that hardware companies — not Microsoft — are to blame for Vista 8′s poor adoption. Microsoft is trying to play with people’s minds, as always.

“The first wave will attack the perception that Linux is free.”

Brian Valentine, Microsoft

   

Microsoft Moles Assimilate FOSS (Microsoft’s Philosophical Opposition) to Microsoft

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Mono, SLES/SLED at 1:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Shotgun wedding

Shotgun bullet

Summary: ‘Former’ Microsoft staff is shaping opinions, controlling messages, and disseminating its own version of the data about FOSS

Microsoft has been indirectly funding the development of Mono for a number of years. Mono is about promoting .NET, not promoting FOSS (just targeting FOSS developers). Mono is a thing of the past as far as GNU/Linux desktops are concerned. Xamarin will try to spread it to Android, but so far there has been little progress on this. Developers who appreciate FOSS learned to antagonise this Microsoft technology.

Richard Hillesley explains in his new column that in the FOSS world people have ostracised this bit of Trojan horse/infiltration tactic. To quote the ending paragraph which cites Richard Stallman:

According to Stallman, the problem was “not in the C# implementations, but rather in Tomboy and other applications written in C#. If we lose the use of C#, we will lose them too. That doesn’t make them unethical, but it means that writing them and using them is taking a gratuitous risk.”

Juniper, in the mean time, having also become full of Microsoft people (we lost count of how many, but here are some examples [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]), has no made Executive VP out of Microsoft’s Bob Muglia, who in turn can infiltrate Microsoft threats. It’s a familiar pattern of conduct. Just see other companies that got hijacked by Microsoft veterans.

In other news, notice how FOSS events which groom Black Duck actually have Microsoft as a top sponsor (these are partners which promote one another), based on the official Web site. It’s not a coincidence. The funding controls these events. They are controlling messages, controlling data, and basically doing what Microsoft wants them to do.

“Resistance to this ongoing assimilation attempt is vital for the survival of FOSS as a meaningful distinguisher.”OpenLogic, which is run by a Microsoft veteran, promotes Azure and openwashes it, giving us yet another example of Microsoft’s infiltrations in FOSS.

Over at the ‘Microsoft press’, the booster Kurt Mackie uses promotional language to characterise the Microsoft-sponsored SUSE and Microsoft proxy "Microsoft Open Technologies Inc."

These are only some of the many examples where Microsoft-affiliated folks try to distort the views of FOSS. Resistance to this ongoing assimilation attempt is vital for the survival of FOSS as a meaningful distinguisher. It’s not about intolerance, it’s about defending ourselves from what Microsoft knows too well to be a charm offence. It’s offensive.

“There’s no company called Linux, there’s barely a Linux road map. Yet Linux sort of springs organically from the earth. And it had, you know, the characteristics of communism that people love so very, very much about it. That is, it’s free.”

Steve Ballmer

Japan Shows How the Imminent Death of Windows XP Can Render Windows — and by Extension Microsoft — Obsolete in Government

Posted in Microsoft, Windows at 12:51 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Japan

Summary: Some data points which show how Windows, Microsoft’s common carrier, is declining on the desktop side and the server side

A lot has been written and said about the consequences of Windows XP coming to an end in the sense that it’s no longer fit for use in a regulated environment that demands patching of all software. Some computers store or process sensitive information not about the user, which makes the user or his/her employer ripe for lawsuits upon security compromises, where the plaintiff can allege neglect. This is why businesses and governments are slower to upgrade and need compelling technical reasons to upgrade, only after thorough testing. This is why many of them still use Windows XP. Vista 8 is not an upgrade, it’s a failed experiment.

In less than a year Microsoft will pull the plug on Windows XP, leaving many businesses and governments not in a dilemmas but under legal imperative to move to a newer operating system. It need not be Windows. Speaking very generally, Microsoft’s security failures gave it utterly bad reputation that, putting business abuses and crime aside, led few managers to putting Windows on Web-facing boxes. Web servers are one area where Microsoft is well behind and UNIX/Linux reign. Based on market share estimates from Netcraft, Microsoft continues its slide to the bottom. As Pogson put it: “In Netcraft’s latest survey, M$ is down to 11% of active sites surveyed and 12.3% of the million busiest sites. Interestingly, the former number is off 1% and the latter, off 1.3% in the last month.”

Moreover, notes Pogson, the government of Japan will retire many computers that run Windows XP, which is a malware magnet with or without patches. As this one report [via] puts it: “On April 8, 2014, Microsoft will end support for its XP operating system which is still installed on one-third of PCs in Japan. After that date, the company will no longer provide corrective updates should any security flaws be discovered, meaning users will be more susceptible to risks such as information theft and leakage. Though local governments are moving ahead with replacement plans, “cost concerns” and “worries about human error” are weighing heavily on some municipalities as talk of strategies including simply unplugging vulnerable machines and duct taping their ethernet ports becomes worryingly common.”

Windows-running desktops as well as desktops in general suffer a decline in relative importance. Legacy hardware that ran Windows XP sooner or later will rot. We are living through the age when Windows became unwanted not just on devices and the Web but also on workstations.

Novartis Pursued by Government Prosecutors, But Not for Its Patent Abuses

Posted in Patents at 12:21 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Challenging the state-sanctioned drugs business

Beer

Summary: The officials who habitually serve multinational corporations finally take some action against Novartis, but they miss the real problem, the patent system harbouring and harboured by the likes of Novartis

TechDirt has this good article which starts by saying: “You may have seen the news recently that the US government has kicked off a lawsuit against Novartis, the pharmaceutical giant, for paying kickbacks to doctors to get them to prescribe certain drugs.” This reaction from the government is well overdue, but it also overlooks much worse crimes/offences from Novartis, especially ones that relate to patents.

Novartis is a troublemakers which we wrote about many times before, even in the early days of the site, 2007 included. It is worth noting that the company has strong ties with Bill Gates, an expert monopolist, “The stories of “favors” and benefits for doctors from mis-named pharmaceutical “sales reps” (often very young, just out of school, incredibly attractive, but with little knowledge of the actual field), whose jobs often seemed more akin to cruise director and entertainer rather than knowledgeable, helpful sales person, are everywhere,” says the article. “That it’s finally taken this long for the government to think that maybe, just maybe, this might distort the nature of our healthcare system, and lead to wasteful prescriptions, including prescriptions that cost significant taxpayer money is somewhat incredible.”

Indeed, and therein lie the bigger issues. Novartis, like many multinationals, is simply above the law and it contributed a lot to the suffering from a rogue patent regime. Novartis should have been broken to pieces a long time ago, or at least have its patents revoked.

Similarly, all software patents should be revoked. Some of them were illegally granted in Europe, so these are in fact an easy element to eliminate. Glyn Moody, a European TechDirt contributor covered this recently, having also noted why the idea of software patents does not fly. Responding to software patents booster Goetz [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8] he now writes this followup that says:

What Mr Goetz calls a bug, I call a feature. One of the key problems with software patents is that they give people a monopoly on a programming idea: that’s as absurd as giving someone the monopoly on the idea of a mousetrap. What patents should do is stimulate the creation of better, different mousetraps. That’s precisely what copyright does in the context of software: it protects the details of that nifty subroutine that you wrote to implement a general idea, but does not stop anyone else coming up with a different approach. If somebody is able to patent the underlying idea of the subroutine, that clearly locks out all the better implementations of it, which means that patents actually block innovation.

Not just in software, either. There are several types of patents that should be fought with equal determination, if not greater determination. The veracity of Glyn Moody is commendable. The pains caused by patents in areas other than software are definitely relevant because they help show systemic corruption, myths debunked, and common misconceptions about patents as they relate to innovation and common good.

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