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07.18.13

Links 18/7/2013: Jolla Smartphone, UberStudent

Posted in News Roundup at 4:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • The Day of GNU/Linux

      Some may argue that there will not be a “year of desktop GNU/Linux” etc. but there definitely is a day, in Italy at least.

    • Viva la desktop!

      To some, the desktop is an anachronism; a style of input that’s increasingly redundant in a world of tablets and smartphones. But I don’t agree, and I think there’s plenty of evidence to show the desktop is going to be around for some time yet. And more importantly, Linux may become the only viable option. I’m primarily a KDE user, and as such, I’ve been mostly shielded from the turbulence created by several desktops reinventing themselves. KDE went through a similar period and I’m glad it’s now firmly in the past. But like many Linux users, I have more than one installation and use more than one desktop environment.

    • Linux Format 174 On Sale Today – Upgrade your desktop

      We asked in the latest TuxRadar podcast for the reasons that you change distro. The most frequent one was the choice of desktop. But you don’t have to ditch your whole distro in order to get a new user interface: you can follow our Technical Editor Ben’s advice and find the desktop that’s right for you, so you end up bossing your Linux machine around rather than it controlling you

  • Audiocasts/Shows

    • Tom Friedman, Churchill and Immigrants

      And Churchill’s generally racist views of non-whites are pretty well-established. He spoke of his “jolly little wars against barbarous peoples” and declared of the Kurds, “I am strongly in favour of using poisoned gas against uncivilised tribes…[It] would spread a lively terror.”

    • Bradley Manning Is Not a Royal Baby

      So that is the state of network television coverage of a whistleblower, held without trial for 3 years, who revealed information that made headlines in the most powerful news outlets around the world for months. That is how U.S. television networks are covering a trial where the U.S. government is attempting to argue that publishing information that finds its way into the hands of U.S. enemies is in fact “aiding the enemy”– a stunning legal strategy that holds the potential to criminalize investigative journalism.

  • Kernel Space

    • Could Linux 3.11 for Workgroups win the Desktop for Linux? Okay, probably not, but it’s a good pun.
    • Linux Namesake Argues In Favor Of Being A Jerk

      Linus Torvalds views so-called “professional” behavior as a hindrance to progress, and his argument for more a freewheeling, less polite work environment is as convincing as it is brazen.

    • Intel Does Hardware Context Support For Ironlake

      Intel’s Ironlake hardware may be very old and not nearly as nice as the latest generation Haswell parts, but shipped today was a new patch-set for implementing hardware context support.

    • Graphics Stack

      • Radeon DRM Gets More Fixes For Linux 3.11 Kernel

        AMD’s Alex Deucher has submitted another Radeon DRM pull request for the Linux 3.11 kernel to provide more fixes. This time the bug-fixes are “all over the place” for this open-source graphics driver.

      • Intel Working On Layered Rendering For Mesa Driver

        A set of twelve patches were published on Monday by an Intel OTC developer for allowing support for OpenGL layered rendering as needed for OpenGL 3.2 / GLSL 1.50 support.

      • Previewing The Radeon DPM Performance On Linux 3.11

        As promised, now that Linux 3.11-rc1 has been released, it’s time for the new dynamic power management support of the Linux 3.11 kernel for AMD Radeon graphics. This first article previews the possible OpenGL performance gains for an AMD APU when enabling “DPM” for allowing the graphics core to properly re-clock based upon its workload.

      • Video Support Still Brewing For GLAMOR Acceleration

        Video acceleration support for the GLAMOR library, the open-source way of accelerating 2D X.Org operations via the 3D engine, is still coming and is being worked on by a student this summer.

        One of the 2013 X.Org GSoC projects is adding X-Video support to GLAMOR. GLAMOR is the 2D acceleration library required by the AMD Radeon HD 7000 series GPUs with the RadeonSI driver stack while it can optionally be used for older Radeon GPUs or Intel hardware too.

      • Mesa 9.2 Brings Some Performance Improvements For Intel IVB

        With Mesa 9.2 due to be released next month, here’s the very latest Git benchmarks of Mesa 9.2-devel on an Intel Core i5 Ultrabook with HD 4000 “Ivy Bridge” graphics compared to the stable Mesa release versions going back to Mesa 8.0.

      • Benchmark: X.org VS Mir

        This is an interesting article by Paolo Rotolo, it’s a comparison of MIR (in the Xmir version that will be present on Ubuntu 13.10) and the current Xorg.

    • Benchmarks

      • Intel Ivy Bridge Graphics On The Linux 3.11 Kernel

        With the Linux 3.11-rc1 release, it’s time now at Phoronix to start benchmarking the Linux 3.11 kernel. The first tests to run over the weekend were of Intel Ivy Bridge graphics, where a few regressions were spotted.

      • OpenGL Gets Faster With OS X 10.9 Mavericks

        Beyond Apple’s forthcoming OS X 10.9 “Mavericks” release finally bring OpenGL 4.0 support to Apple hardware, there’s also GL performance improvements to make OS X more competitive with other operating systems for gaming.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

  • Distributions

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Interview: Eben Upton

      A few months ago, armed with your responses from one of our podcast’s Open Ballot questions, we visited the Cambridge HQ of the Raspberry Pi Foundation to quiz its founder about hardware upgrades, education and what success has meant for the project. The result was an epic 7,000 word interview, the first half of which we published in Linux Format issue 173. But as we didn’t have enough space in the magazine, we thought we’d put the interview online in it’s entirety. And here it is!

    • The Raspberry Pi Needs a Roadmap

      The team behind Raspberry Pi should fix this promptly. Raspberry Pi has emerged as nothing less than the true solution that players like the One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) folks were looking for when they proposed creating sub-$100 computers. Raspberry Pis are making it into school systems in parts of the world where kids don’t have computers, and there is even now a supercomputer consisting of many Pi devices lashed together with Lego pieces.

    • Standardized Media Streaming on Linux Devices with Open Source Cloud-dLeyna

      Few would dispute the value of standards for fostering interoperability, and here in the open source community that tends to be viewed as a particularly important goal.

    • Phones

      • Jolla gets ready to launch its smartphone

        Finnish smartphone startup wants to take on the established giants, UI-changing backplate, fridge-friendly OS and all.

      • New smartphone users reach 583,000 per week, says analyst
      • Ballnux

        • An Android Flip Phone Is In The Works By Samsung

          Flip phones, if you didn’t know are the rage in Asian countries like Japan and Korea and they’ve always been that way. Even the advent of the Android, iOS and other touch sensitive devices hasn’t managed to shake the trend which clearly shows how much that design is admired. Apparently, Samsung is reportedly working on giving the best of both worlds with an Android flip phone called Samsung Galaxy Folder. It sounds like an awkward design choice but it would certainly interest a flip phone admirer.

      • Android

        • 4K UltraHD media player runs Android 4.2 on Tegra 4

          NanoTech Entertainment is accepting pre-orders on a $299 4K UltraHD media and game player device that runs Android 4.2 on an quad-core Nvidia Tegra 4 SoC. Designed for gaming, multimedia play, and web browsing, the Nuvola NP-1 may well be the world’s most advanced Android media player.

        • With 8PB synced already, BitTorrent launches Sync beta with versioning, one-way syncing, and an Android app

          BitTorrent today announced the open beta release of its file synchronization tool Sync, and the debut of an Android app. You can download the latest version now for Windows, Mac, and Linux over at labs.bittorrent.com as well as for Android from Google Play.

        • You Can Install the Improved Android 4.3 Camera App on Most Android Phones

          Here’s some good news for the smartphone photographers out there who are sick of all the iPhone-only news that seems to flow down the pipeline daily. It turns out that anybody with an Android 4.0 and later phone can install a copy of the superior Android 4.3 camera app without even having to root their phone.

        • New Android eyewear butts heads with Google Glass

          GlassUp, an Italian startup, has started taking pre-orders on Indiegogo for an Android eyewear display system billed as a simpler, lower-cost alternative to Google Glass. The GlassUp device is a receive-only Bluetooth accessory to a nearby mobile device, providing a monochrome, 320 x 240-pixel augmented reality display of incoming messages and notifications.

    • Sub-notebooks/Tablets

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • Internet trolls: a guide to the different flavours

    It’s relatively easy to deal with those who pour forth hatred online. But the greater threat comes from the more subtle spreaders of misery and doubt

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Genetically Engineered Burrito? Chipotle Labels GMO

      The fast food burrito chain Chipotle, which advertises “food with integrity,” became the first restaurant chain in the United States to label genetically modified ingredients in its food in March 2013.

      Genetically modified organisms (GMOs) have sparked concerns about potential human health effects and confirmed environmental effects. Chipotle has 1,450 restaurants as of June 2013 and $2.7 billion in annual revenue, so the labeling is no small potatoes.

    • Employer health mandate upheld (UPDATED)

      Lawyers for Liberty University have announced that they will seek to take the case back to the Supreme Court.

  • Security

    • How elite security ninjas choose and safeguard their passwords

      If you felt a twinge of angst after reading Ars’ May feature that showed how password crackers ransack even long passwords such as “qeadzcwrsfxv1331″, you weren’t alone. The upshot was clear: If long passwords containing numbers, symbols, and upper- and lower-case letters are this easy to break, what are users to do?

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • The diminishing glow of nuclear energy

      In France, Greenpeace activists got past security and climbed reactor structures at the Tricastin nuclear power plant. They unfurled a banner which read: TRICASTIN ACCIDENT NUCLÉAIRE: PRÉSIDENT DE LA CATASTROPHE? (Tricastin Nuclear Accident: President of the Disaster?). Earlier this morning, other activists projected a crack onto the superstructure of the plant illustrating that French President, Hollande, needs to shut down 20 nuclear reactors in the country by 2020 in keeping with his promise to cut nuclear power from three-quarters to half by 2025.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Americans for Prosperity Goes After ObamaCare (Again)

      Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a conservative advocacy group founded and funded by David Koch, is spearheading an ad campaign aimed at young women attacking the 2010 federal health reform law dubbed “ObamaCare.” It is spending more than $1 million to run the ad in Virginia and Ohio, with plans to expand it to a total of seven states.

  • Privacy

    • Broad coalition sues feds to halt electronic surveillance by National Security Agency
    • Mobile Privacy: Parliament debates data protection and the mobile industry

      We met with Helen Goodman MP last month to talk about mobile companies developing marketing and analytics products based on data about their customers without clear consent. After that meeting, she was able to secure the Commons debate on the issue.

    • Intelligence and Securtity Committee reports on PRISM

      The ISC has today made a statement on it’s investigation into PRISM, following the revelations made by whistleblower Edward Snowden.

      While it appears the investigation was limited to PRISM, as opposed to Tempora or any of the other programmes we now know to be operational, it reaffirms that the statutory basis for PRISM at least is the 1994 Intelligence Services Act.

    • Former Top NSA Lawyer Blames Civil Libertarians For 9/11, Says Hype About NSA May Lead To A Repeat

      Ah, Stewart Baker. We’ve mentioned him a few times in the past. He’s the former Assistant Secretary for Homeland Security and General Counsel for the NSA. He’s, as you may have guessed, strongly in the “pro-surveillance” camp, and has even attacked some of the journalists who revealed the NSA leaks, claiming that by revealing the truth they’re no longer journalists, but advocates. He’s taking part in a House Judiciary Committee hearing looking into oversight on the administration’s use of FISA and his testimony is quite incredible. It goes way beyond what we’ve seen from others. While it repeats his baseless and confused attack that some journalists who were key players in this story were evil “advocates” rather than journalists, that’s nothing compared to his lack of regard for the Constitution and basic civil liberties. In fact, he very clearly blames 9/11 on civil liberties advocates, and fears that all this talk about surveillance may lead to a repeat event.

    • Justice Department proposes curbing power to seize reporters’ records

      The Justice Department has proposed changing its policies on leak investigations so that it would be more difficult to secretly seize reporters’ records, in response to widespread criticism about the department’s practices.

    • What Aren’t They Collecting?

      Back in the Founder’s time, paper was state-of-the-art for containing information so “papers” contained a person’s information. Today, in addition to paper, we have digital media to contain our information. Without probable cause, the blanket seizure of data on every American is unconstitutional.

      Judge Richard A. Posner contends that this data collection is not a grave threat to civil liberties.

    • Duck Duck Go: Illusion of Privacy

      There have been several articles in the press recently about users flocking to DuckDuckGo in the wake of the recent NSA snooping revelations. If you are in this category this post is meant for you.

      If you use DuckDuckGo solely for the myriad of other benefits, such as reducing advertiser tracking, filter boxing, etc. move along nothing to see here. DuckDuckGo will provide you at least that level of “privacy”.

      [...]

      If Google’s servers can be compromised by a bunch of Chinese hackers, and if the computers controlling Iran’s uranium enrichment equipment can be compromised without even being connected to the internet, how long would a service like DuckDuckGo (or Verizon Internet Services) standup against a concerted effort by the NSA?

    • What Medical Tests Should Teach Us about the NSA Surveillance Program

      The National Security Agency (NSA) is collecting massive amounts of information about people in the United States and throughout the world. From details about every phone call to collections of people’s activities online–the US government is creating a monumental amount of data on each individual person in existence. The balance between privacy and security is always difficult, and the ethics of the NSA’s practices be will debated for the near future. However, as a physician I worry about something just as difficult. Excellent reasons exist why I as a physician do not order every test on every patient. I know that amassing too much data can be harmful.

    • About the Reuters article

      The latest effort to distract attention from the NSA revelations is more absurd than most

      [...]

      Like everything in the matter of these NSA leaks, this interview is being wildly distorted to attract attention away from the revelations themselves. It’s particularly being seized on to attack Edward Snowden and, secondarily, me, for supposedly “blackmailing” and “threatening” the US government. That is just absurd.

    • Nation Will Gain by Discussing Surveillance, Expert Tells Privacy Board

      A retired federal judge, who formerly served on the secret Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court, on Tuesday praised the growing public discussion about government surveillance fostered by the leaks of classified information by Edward J. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor whom the Obama administration has charged with espionage and who remains a fugitive.

    • Telstra found to be storing data for USA intelligence agencies

      Remember 1997? That’s when Carnivore was in use by the FBI. Soon after we heard rumours of an AT&T Room 641A, where the NSA would have a colocated interception facility that would tap into all communications being handled by that telco. Then all the rage about ECHELON, a SIGINT collection network operated by Australia, Canada, New Zealand, the UK and the United States of America).

    • A Proposal To Reform FISA Court Decisionmaking

      Yesterday’s New York Times story on the secret legal opinions of the FISA court prompts a natural question: How should the FISA court reach its decisions, and how do we know it is doing so correctly? That breaks down into two questions. First, what procedures should the FISA court use to reach legal conclusions? And second, when or how should those legal conclusions be made public? The latter has received much more attention than the former. Like a lot of people, I tend to think that it wouldn’t impact national security for the FISA court to release more information about its decisions, at least in those cases when the judges consider abstract legal issues.. Perhaps the court could issue opinions in redacted form; perhaps it could simply release a summary of its legal conclusions and reasoning. Either way, a lot of people have voiced opinions on that issue. In this post, I want to focus on the first question that hasn’t received as much attention: What procedures should the FISA court use to reach its legal conclusions?

    • Making FISC More Adversarial: A Brief Response to Orin Kerr

      Over at the Volokh Conspiracy, Professor Orin Kerr has a thought-provoking post on one route to reform of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court: have Congress give an adversarial role to the Oversight Section at DOJ’s National Security Division, such that security-cleared DOJ lawyers would “have a right to file a motion to oppose any application before the FISC,” and such a motion would then trigger litigation and a dispositive ruling with many–if not most–of the hallmarks of adversarial process. Such a reform, in Orin’s view, would thereby ameliorate, if not eliminate, at least some of the oft-repeated concerns with the ex parte FISC process. And as importantly from the government’s perspective, Orin would have such a motion follow the initial issuance of an order/certification by the FISA Court, so that the litigation isn’t slowing down the government’s ability to actually conduct the authorized surveillance. Such an approach, Orin writes, “offers a middle ground that may please no one.”

    • Facebook And Google ‘Degrade Our Humanity,’ Says 4chan Founder

      …do not allow users to be anonymous.

    • Sony agrees to pay £250K fine in UK for 2011 data breach, begrudgingly

      Remember the 2011 attack that crippled Sony’s PlayStation Network, leaked almost a quarter million users’ information and generally was a nuisance? It’s still cleaning up after that mess. Earlier this year, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) slapped the company’s European wing with a £250,000 fine ($377,575), saying it should have been better prepared for the attack — now Sony’s agreed to pay up. The electronics giant still maintains that the charge is without merit, but ceded to the penalty to avoid disclosing details about its security procedures. Apparently, the two months of free PS+ wasn’t enough to make everybody forget.

    • FISA court seeks release of declassified filings in secret Yahoo case

      The secret surveillance court that approved the U.S. government’s broad collection of millions of Americans’ e-mail and telephone records called Monday for the Obama administration to declassify and release as much as it can of one of the court’s early legal decisions sanctioning that collection.

      The chief of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ordered the Justice Department to begin a review to see how much it can reasonably declassify from a 2008 opinion — a ruling in which the court allegedly ordered Yahoo to turn over the records of its customers’ online communications.

    • Former CEO Says U.S. Punished Phone Firm

      A former Qwest Communications International executive, appealing a conviction for insider trading, has alleged that the government withdrew opportunities for contracts worth hundreds of millions of dollars after Qwest refused to participate in an unidentified National Security Agency program that the company thought might be illegal.

    • German spy agency: ‘No plan for NSA base in Wiesbaden’

      German intelligence authorities have denied a report that the US agency at the center of a major snooping scandal is building a new base in Germany. The US Army claims the facility will deal with military intelligence.

    • ‘America has no functioning democracy’ – Jimmy Carter on NSA

      Former US President Jimmy Carter lambasted US intelligence methods as undemocratic and described Edward Snowden’s NSA leak as “beneficial” for the country.

      Carter lashed out at the US political system when the issue of the previously top-secret NSA surveillance program was touched upon at the Atlantic Bridge meeting on Tuesday in Atlanta, Georgia.

    • Lawsuit accuses NSA of unconstitutional ‘dragnet electronic surveillance’
    • NSA Admits to Examining More Data and Other News You Need to Know
    • ‘Much bigger public outcry’ needed to stop NSA surveillance

      Much of the American public is in favor of the NSA conducting widespread surveillance. So much, in fact, that a lawsuit challenging the NSA’s power is unlikely to succeed, Steven Rambam, the founder and CEO of Pallorium investigative agency, told RT.

    • If you think the NSA is bad …

      Americans are apparently blasé about government eavesdropping.

      In the days after former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden revealed that Washington spies extensively on its own citizens, polls found that about half of Americans have no problem with such snooping, as long as it protects them from terrorism.

      But a scandal unfolding here in South Korea illustrates how such domestic snooping can easily harm a democracy.

      The imbroglio — which has sparked student protests and candlelight vigils around Seoul — actually consists of two episodes rolled into one.

    • Apple, Google, Facebook Join Civil Liberties Groups for NSA Transparency Push

      The largest Internet companies in the United States have joined forces with top civil liberties groups to call on the White House and Congress to increase the transparency surrounding the government’s controversial National Security Agency surveillance programs. Apple, Google, Facebook, Yahoo, Microsoft and Twitter are among the tech giants that have signed a letter to the feds, asking for the right to disclose more information about national security data requests. Notably absent are the nation’s largest phone companies, including AT&T and Verizon Wireless, which have remained silent about their participation in the government’s snooping program.

    • US lawmakers grill Obama officials on NSA surveillance
    • Rift on display between tech industry, White House over NSA requests

      Tech companies and privacy groups petition the White House and Congress, urging “greater transparency” over secret demands for accessing private user data.

    • US official: New anti-leak measures set at NSA

      A top defense official says the National Security Agency is implementing new security measures because of the disclosures by former NSA-systems-analyst-turned-fugitive Edward Snowden.

    • NSA Spying Leaves Washington Lonelier Than Ever

      So far, this attempt at justification has satisfied no one. Neither has U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry’s baffling claim of ignorance on the topic.

    • NSA official explains on how it spies on people who know people who know people who are terrorists

      A top official at the National Security Agency explained to members of Congress on Wednesday that it spies on people who know people who know people who might be terrorists.

    • Six degrees of separation, NSA-style

      Whether it’s ethically right or wrong to investigate deep into suspects’ networks of connections, the NSA certainly has the processing power to do it. “Three hops” away isn’t much when you can map potentially trillions of identities.

    • NSA Spying Draws Congressional Ire

      The lawmakers’ criticisms came at a hearing with administration officials who sought to defend the once-secret government telephone snooping made public last month by former government contractor Edward Snowden.

    • Skepticism grows among lawmakers over NSA surveillance

      Both Republicans and Democrats express reservations about NSA programs during hearing.

    • Snowden Asserts that NSA and Israel Collaborated to Launch Cyber Attacks on Iran’s Uranium Facilities

      The interview of Snowden describes that prior to his release of classified intelligence documents, NSA and other nation’s intelligence agencies conducted the broad surveillance. Snowden also asserted that NSA shares surveillance and cooperates with other nations including Israel.

    • The Latvians have invaded LinkedIn. Can the NSA be far behind?

      Unlike most sane people, I spend a lot of time fretting over LinkedIn. More specifically, I think about LinkedIn’s People You May Know feature. How does LinkedIn know I may know these people? What do my alleged connections say about me? And just where is LinkedIn getting its information? I have deep suspicions, but no proof.

      Lately, though, things have taken a turn for the absurd. Looking at my endlessly scrolling list of People You May Know, I discovered Latvians. Not just four or five Latvians – more like 40 or 50 Latvians, most of whom aren’t even distantly connected to me.

  • Civil Rights

    • The First Amendment Protects Satire And Rhetoric! lol j/k

      A nineteen-year-old has been jailed since March 27, 2013. He’s been beaten — by other inmates, allegedly. He’s been subjected to solitary confinement, sometimes stripped naked. The authorities have rejected calls for his release on a reasonable bail his family could possibly afford. All of this has happened because he wrote something online that concerned or offended or enraged the state.

      [...]

      The nineteen-year-old is Justin Carter. Carter, like many Americans his age (or mine, for that matter) plays online games and indulges in the exaggerated trash-talk common to that culture. In the course of an argument involving the game League of Legends, he got into a dispute with another player, who called him crazy or “messed up in the head.” That is a rather mild epithet coming from an online gamer; it’s nothing like Carter might have gotten if, for instance, he’d had the bad taste to Game While Female.

    • Stevie Wonder Boycotting Florida Following Zimmerman Verdict (Video)

      The singer refuses to perform in the state until its Stand Your Ground law is “abolished.”

    • Challenges to Policies on Terror Are Halted
  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Safeguarding the open internet for all

      The internet is a wonderful tool for openness, freedom and innovation. No wonder it is so important to so many citizens. And no wonder the debate over “net neutrality” can seem so charged.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • How Intellectual Property Reinforces Inequality

      In the war against inequality, we’ve become so used to bad news that we’re almost taken aback when something positive happens. And with the Supreme Court having affirmed that wealthy people and corporations have a constitutional right to buy American elections, who would have expected it to bring good news? But a decision in the term that just ended gave ordinary Americans something that is more precious than money alone — the right to live.

      At first glance, the case, Association for Molecular Pathology v. Myriad Genetics, might seem like scientific arcana: the court ruled, unanimously, that human genes cannot be patented, though synthetic DNA, created in the laboratory, can be. But the real stakes were much higher, and the issues much more fundamental, than is commonly understood. The case was a battle between those who would privatize good health, making it a privilege to be enjoyed in proportion to wealth, and those who see it as a right for all — and a central component of a fair society and well-functioning economy. Even more deeply, it was about the way inequality is shaping our politics, legal institutions and the health of our population.

    • Copyrights

      • Prenda fails to pay $455 appeal fee, leading to a $9,425 setback

        Copyright troll Prenda Law has become best known for the major setbacks it has faced in a Los Angeles case in the court of US District Judge Otis Wright. But the tough sanction order penned by Wright has been accompanied by setbacks in other jurisdictions as well.

Patent Scope Still the Topic to Focus on, and Not Just in the United States

Posted in Asia, Patents at 10:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Japanese

Summary: A look at the legitimacy of software patents around the world, especially where technology is being made

TECHRIGHTS has spent a considerable amount of time covering software patents in the EU and in NZ. But what about Asia, where almost all of the world’s electronics are being manufactured?

The battle between Apple and Android is mostly a one-sided/one-edged sword battle where Apple keeps throwing patent lawsuits at Android backers and the Android camp, collectively, defends itself from unmerited aggression. In the process, Android keeps gaining market share/strength and Apple’s relative share of the market is diminishing, not to mention the public image of Apple (yes, it is noticeably damaged). The big winners are from Taiwan and Korea right now.

“The big winners are from Taiwan and Korea right now.”As Apple's patent chief leaves it seems like things are improving somewhat. The world’s leader right now is not Apple but a giant company from Korea. There is no litigation going on until next month, but patents increasingly play a role in the battle over operating systems’ domination. What will patent policy in Asia shape up to become?

Patent policy in Korea, a former part of the Japanese empire (since a century ago), has always baffled a bit. There is hardly any patent coverage from there and Apple chooses to fight in Japan more than it does in Korea. The US, the current emperor in Korea, tried to spread software patents to Korea [1, 2, 3], but it wasn’t so obvious whether it succeeded (not like ActiveX succeeded there). The patents lawyers/boosters try to shed light on software patents in east Asia. A Taipei-based law firm shares the following about China, Taiwan, and Japan. “In China,” says the author, “rules and methods for mental activities are not patentable, so a claim that describes an algorithm, mathematical rules, or computer program “as such” may not be patented. However, software that (a) uses a technical solution to (b) solve a technical problem concerning (c) a law of nature may comprise patent
eligible subject matter. Of course, once subject matter passes that three-part test, it still must satisfy the basic requirements for patentability – novelty, non-obviousness and usefulness – the same as in the U.S.

“If a claim in China recites both rules for mental activities and technical features, the examination guidelines state that the claim may be patentable, but the guidelines fail to define technical solutions and problems and it is unclear whether the technical aspects, on their own, are required to satisfy the novel, non-obvious and useful requirements. For example, in the U.S., the prohibition against patenting abstract ideas cannot be circumvented by appending trivial technical activity. It is unclear whether the same is true in China with respect to technical aspects and, if so, how one determines whether the technical aspects are sufficient.”

About Taiwan, which is basically part of China, the Taipei-based author says: “In Taiwan, software is also patentable, provided the claims recite a technical solution that utilizes laws of nature. To qualify as technical, the solution must (a) use technical means to (b) resolve a technical problem, (c) achieving a technical effect. So long as the claimed software is tied to a machine or apparatus, there should be no difficulty satisfying the technical means, so challenges usually relate to the technical problem and technical effect.”

When it comes to Japan, it’s all pretty obvious. They, like the US, are the biggest software patents boosters. The author says: “Japan’s Patent Act also defines a patentable invention as any highly-advanced creation of technical ideas utilizing laws of nature. Non-patentable subject matter includes laws of nature and natural phenomena, inventions that violate laws of nature or natural phenomena, that fail to utilize laws of nature, artistic works, and techniques that can be gained by personal skill.”

“The USPTO has hardly any limitations on software patenting, whereas almost any other place does limit or altogether bans them.”In summary he lumps in Korea and says that “while it appears that China, Taiwan, Korea and Japan all prohibit the patenting of software, as such, they allow it when the claims recite the use of software working in concert with specific hardware, particularly when the invention resolves a technical problem and achieves a technical result.”

Bear in mind that this comes from a patent lawyer in a blog which actively advocates software patents, so this might not be the full story. The USPTO has hardly any limitations on software patenting, whereas almost any other place does limit or altogether bans them. We need to fix this by banning software patents everywhere. And as noted the other day, it is scope which should be the subject of focus, and not just in software. In the US, patents are now being granted on forms of life, as Myriad still makes evident:

For years, Myriad Genetics has had a monopoly on testing two key genes related to breast and ovarian cancer, BRCA1 and BRCA2. But the Utah company’s dominance was supposed to end last month. Doctors’ groups, supported by the American Civil Liberties Union and the Public Patent Foundation, took their legal challenge against all patents on genomic DNA to the Supreme Court and won a unanimous decision.

The wrong course of action is to lose sight of patent scope and focus on plaintiff scale. Matt Levy at Patent Progress falls into the agenda of the White House [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8], which rather than limit scope is putting all the attention/focus/emphasis/weight on trolls. Here is a new example of litigation from a troll whose actions would have been stopped by banning the patents. To quote: “An Ottawa-based patent-licensing firm named Wi-Lan is one of several patent-licensing operations that claims to own patents relating to wireless Internet. Wi-Lan filed a lawsuit against 22 companies over Wi-Fi back in 2007. In 2010, the firm went to East Texas to sue others, claiming it owned patents critical to the data transmission standards in mobile phones. Later that year, it also sued anyone who makes cable modems.”

This is a real troll, but look at the patents, consider scope. Hate the game, not the player. This game is rigged. Unless or until the government of the US recognises this (hard when massive corporations control the government) nothing is going to improve.

Privacy Scandals Are Destroying Microsoft as the Company Fails to Deny Its Abuses

Posted in Microsoft at 10:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Shattered

Summary: A whole week after Microsoft got nailed by media/press all around the world for its serious privacy violations Microsoft is attempting to a shift blame and refute claims which were never even made

Microsoft, which was already caught lying and dancing around serious matters (several times before), is having a massive issue as customers no longer trust it, especially business customers. Microsoft is a pathological liar on the issue of spying, so there is no reason to assume they won’t lie again about surveillance. Creative wording can’t turn lies into truth.

There is a massive PR campaign (observed as damage control) after reports about large-scale NSA collusion, with Microsoft listed as the first PRISM partner and going much further than the rest, even permitting live eavesdropping on calls. Microsoft is frantically trying to get out of the reputation mess, using dozens of articles about this non-news, no-evidence denial (coming from a pathological liar). In short, Microsoft provides zero proof which can falsify allegations for which there is concrete proof.

“In short, Microsoft provides zero proof which can falsify allegations for which there is concrete proof.”Skype is spyware, but it is not alone in that category. Microsoft just has a tendency to turn software into spyware, as evidence suggests Microsoft has indeed derailed the proprietary program, which prior to the acquisition tried to openwash itself on numerous occasions. See the report “Skype: Reportedly Funneling Your Calls To PRISM Since 2011″ (when Microsoft bought it with financial assistance). This concurs with what we wrote at the time and now we have more proof.

Over at ZDNet, spin is solicited by the Microsoft henchmen. It is hardly different from Microsoft's Walli littering Open Source sites with Microsoft talking points (Red hat keeps letting Microsoft rewrite Free software perspective, even this week) and the MSBBC spinning it all in an insane fashion (painting Microsoft as a transparency advocate). The BBC — just like ZDNet — has former Microsoft staff at the forefront. Here is Microsoft’s ‘former’ staff Zack Whittaker (usually leading with antitrust talking points for Microsoft) delivering Microsoft talking points/PR to aid Microsoft in this latest scandal (don’t click this), missing the whole basis of the claims about NSA-Microsoft collision and then spreading the denial to other CBS sites (this is often mirrored in CNET). Also in ZDNet, a full-time Microsoft employee (one among few who act as ‘reporters’ in these sites) is making fun of PRISM/NSA critics. What a propaganda campaign. A lot of it quotes patent terrorist Brad Smith, who says nothing except “wait for an answer”, essentially saying nothing of use. Well, the Microsoft-faithful will take that at face value, even though The Guardian did contact Microsoft prior to the publication in order to verify the claims. Nothing is being shown as false and Microsoft’s choice of words helps verify the allegations. They are spinning by changing the subject and attempting to shift blame to the government. To quote: “A strongly worded letter from Microsoft’s general counsel to Attorney General Eric Holder says secrecy about National Security Agency surveillance is harming fundamental “constitutional principles.””

“Basically, Microsoft is now using a strawman argument to avoid denying what it cannot deny.”What utter nonsense. So Microsoft, which does all the surveillance, wants us to view it as the one fighting for us? Or pass blame to Holder? This oughtn’t work, but it might work for the Microsoft-faithful, who are already predisposed to favour Microsoft (or receive a paycheck from Microsoft). Microsoft is trying to have people accuse the government and describe/perceive Microsoft as law-abiding, but anyone with a clue can see an empty refusal to disclose information, boosted by pro-Microsoft ‘news’ sites (which are feeling weak right now, especially after the ‘reorg’ [1, 2, 3, 4] because it is mixes divisions again so as to hide losses in the other divisions, as Joe Wilcox once explained). Putting aside fluff that distracts, if one looks closely at Microsoft’s words, they phrase the denial in such a way that they can claim that it’s true, but they actually dodge debunking the accusations made. Everyone knows that they don’t hand out the encryption keys, they give back doors, which is not the same. What a red herring.

Basically, Microsoft is now using a strawman argument to avoid denying what it cannot deny. It helps the NSA crack — not directly access — its data. It just took them a week to come up with the official spin and wording, chanelled through media partners like IDG “falling for the weasel words,” as iophk put it (watch this headline which helps Microsoft deny a claim which was never made). Microsoft shows it’s good at responding to strawman arguments, addressing claim that was never even made, at least not semantically as such. How to lie professionally is a Microsoft expertise. Nobody said Microsoft gave “direct access” or “encryption keys” to the NSA, but Microsoft pretends this was the claim. It refutes the stuff which it made up on its own. The Guardian said that Microsoft teaches the NSA how to crack its systems (Windows, Skype, etc.). But count on poor journalism to help disguise all that. Microsoft can no longer smar Google over privacy with a straight face, so no wonder it is losing business. From the news this week we have:

Since Google Inc’s coup with Woolworth’s, the tech giant has added thousands of enterprise users in Australia.

Microsoft typically uses “privacy” to derail such deals, but now we know that even Microsoft’s desktop software is mostly spyware. As one person put it in the comments:

That’s a straight up lie if the NSA_Key fiasco is true, but it’s also a lie because they give NSA keylogging and direct control of user’s computers. Non free software always has this power over users.

Here is another comment: “Oh yeah, I’ve seen people defending Google that way. These are probably NSA talking points. Perhaps people at Microsoft came up with them but it’s a stinking pack of lies.”

As one blogger put it, Microsoft is the biggest vulnerability in IT, based on this analysis:

This is probably true. It’s also true that Microsoft had a way out. They could have taken the fight public. They could have gone to the Guardian, the New York Times or to 60 Minutes and spilled the beans. United States security agencies are attempting, through legal means, to get us to compromise the security of the data of our clients that include sovereign nations.

This would’ve pissed the Obama administration off, as well as his Republican opponents, but it would have been the right thing to do.

Without a doubt, this path would’ve been risky. The folks at agencies like the NSA don’t play softball and in their league performance enhancing drugs have not been banned. There would be possible criminal repercussions. If that failed, bloated bodies might be found floating in Puget Sound as a warning to firms down in Silicon Valley. I’m not entirely kidding. As I say, these guys play hardball with rules only they know and which change from day to day, inning to inning, pitch to pitch.

Next on Microsoft’s agenda: watching your home in real time through Xbox One and watching the utility bill:

Talk about ironic timing. Microsoft Corp. (MSFT) was just slammed with accusations that it is collaborating with the U.S. government to promote massive spying efforts, and today the company announced the availability of its “Lab of Things”, a “near real-time” effort to track your home utility usage.

Microsoft cares about privacy like fish care about dairy products. Microsoft would die if it actually cared about privacy; its monkey business and its government’s defence of these business abuses are hinged upon control of the population, not servitude (a lot of people are actually grateful for services like Google search). People will stop to accept the Microsoft monopoly when they realise just how truly harmful it is. Russia is currently running away from its Windows-running PCs.

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