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08.16.13

Links 16/8/2013: Tropico 5 for GNU/Linux, KDE 4.11 Released

Posted in News Roundup at 4:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Boxee: Streaming Media Goes Open Source

    As the rest of the world is catching on to the wonder that is streaming media we’re seeing more options for the serious HTPC die-hards. Boxee is the latest, an open source platform, endlessly customizable but only for experienced Mac or Linux users. If you’re interested, it begins Alpha testing next week.

  • Open source tools worth bookmarking

    One of my favorite workshops to give is the one that introduces librarians and their staff to open source software. After defining open source to them and debunking all the FUD (fear, uncertainty, and doubt) out there, I focus my talk on a list of open source tools that can be useful to libraries.

  • Survey Says: Use of Open-Source Will Increase in 2013

    The open-source movement continues to gain traction in 2013 among core groups, according to a survey released by electronics distributor Newark element14. The results conclude that more professional engineers, hobbyists, and students will all use open-source software and hardware for one or more design projects this year.

  • Open Source Web Design Utilities Listed and Live On SoftwareReviewBoffin.Com Now
  • Basho integrates open-source cloud storage with OpenStack

    Basho Technologies has integrated its cloud-storage software Riak CS with OpenStack, the popular open-source cloud architecture.

  • Google Unveils Open-Source Gumbo HTML Parser Tool

    Google is adding another open-source tool for developers with the release of its Gumbo HTML parser, which is a C implementation of the HTML5 parsing algorithm.

  • Adobe Starts Brackets From Scratch As A Web Tool For GNU/Linux

    Perhaps the ubiquity of GNU/Linux on web servers that convinced Adobe to go this way or perhaps it’s the rapid growth of GNU/Linux on the client side but it’s a better move late than never.

  • Open-Source Adobe Brackets Web Development Comes to Linux

    When it comes to Web development, Adobe’s Dreamweaver (originally from Macromedia) is a well-known and widely deployed tool. Like most of Adobe’s commercial tools, it doesn’t run on Linux. While historically Adobe’s tools haven’t been widely available for Linux users, a new era seems to be starting.

  • Our Latest Collection of Worthwhile and Offbeat Open Source Applications

    While there are lots of open source projects that are now household names, many truly good ones don’t get much attention. We’ve delved into little-known but very useful open source projects before here on OStatic. In this post, you’ll find an updated collection of interesting, free applications that you might not currently use.

  • Hobbyist coder 2.0 spreads open source in 2013

    There’s an old expression in marketing and public relations: when you’ve got no news at all and nothing product or customer related to say, try doing a survey.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • Developers: Give us sane and sensible default system and application settings

        You know, why stuff that’s supposed to work out of the box, don’t and why some of the better features of the desktop environments and applications are buried or not enabled by default.

        Sometimes I think it has to do with the adoption of a certain ideology by the developers. For example, the developers of Chakra Linux adopted the KISS (keep it simple, s..) principle, which roughly translates into, we give you a bare system, you customize it the way you want. Freedom, they

      • Firefox To Remain Default…. Very Nice!

        Jason Warner who leads the Ubuntu Desktop Team announced today that Firefox will continue to be the default browser for Ubuntu 13.10 although he suggested the proposal which was unpopular would be re-visited at the next vUDS when plans for Ubuntu 14.04 are discussed.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Where does OpenStack go from here?

      Businesses love OpenStack. After only three years, OpenStack corporate backers and users now include Cisco, Red Hat, Rackspace, IBM, Intel, HP, etc., etc. You get the idea. That’s all very nice and well, but where does OpenStack go from here?

    • Open Cloud Gains Big in Past Year, Still Gauged by AWS

      There are few better occasions than a recurring yearly event to reflect and take stock of where things stand. In the personal sphere, birthdays and anniversaries are good examples of such events, of course, offering as they do a clear opportunity to assess the changes time has wrought since the last one. Here in the world of technology, annual conferences can serve a similar purpose. Case in point: CloudOpen.

    • VMware: OpenStack an opportunity for us
    • VMware Continues Campaign Against OpenStack and the Open Cloud

      Sometimes when you hear questionable comments from corporate executives, it helps to take a historical look back and see if the comments are part of a structured and strategic PR campaign. The bread crumbs tell the story. As a case in point, first consider VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger’s cloud computing comments in a current Network World interview, where he says: “Where is OpenStack, we believe, going to be adopted? We don’t see it having great success coming into the enterprise because it’s a framework for constructing clouds.”

    • 10 NoSQL, Big Data Partner Questions: 10gen Channel Chief Matt Asay

      As 10gen’s VP of business development and strategy, Matt Asay oversees the NoSQL and Big Data company’s partner initiatives. Translation: Asay, a veteran of Alfresco, Canonical, Novell and others — essentially is 10gen’s channel chief. So what are the partner opportunities for those that want to work with the MongoDB database provider? Here are 10 key questions for Asay.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Must-have software for college students

      For college students, the old “reading, writing, and ’rithmetic” morphs into writing papers, doing basic stats, and creating presentations (and yes, still lots of reading). No matter what you’re studying or where, you’re going to have to perform these tasks from time to time. Even with student discounts, Microsoft Office Suite can cost anywhere between $80 and $140. But if you think there’s no alternative, you have a little research to do.

  • Education

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GUPnP 0.20.4 Makes the User-Agent ASCII-Only

      The developers behind the GUPnP project, an object-oriented and elegant open source framework for creating UPnP devices and control points, released version 0.20.4 with various improvements and fixes.

    • Glibc 2.18 Supports New Optimizations, New Archs

      The official glibc 2.18 announcement has yet to surface, but the 2.18 release has been tagged in Git (and glibc 2.19 development now open), and packages of it can be downloaded. Fortunately, in looking at the Git tree we can already talk about the goodies of glibc 2.18 without the official release announcement.

  • Project Releases

  • Programming

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Overcoming HTML5′s Limitations

      HMTL5 is such a low-cost and portable alternative to native app development that it makes sense to explore solutions that address its limitations.

Leftovers

  • IBM wins largest federal cloud contract to date: U.S. Dept. of Interior

    IBM has won its largest federal cloud contract to date. Big Blue has signed on to be the primary cloud vendor for the U.S. Department of Interior (DOI).

    The 10-year contract is worth approximately $1 billion, consisting of IBM’s cloud computing technologies, services and hosting as the home of the National Park Service begins to deploy a new cloud infrastructure.

  • Rackspace survey suggests the hybrid cloud model has won the game
  • Why PRISM’s potential impact on cloud industry is under-valued and over-rated

    Forrester estimates the US cloud computing industry could lose up to $180 billion by 2016 thanks to the NSA’s PRISM project – but only if you believe that concerns about government spying trump the business benefits of going cloud.

  • Security

    • New York Times Website goes down

      Officially, according to the NYT twitter account, all the paper has to say is that “The New York Times Web site is experiencing technical difficulties. We expect to be back up shortly.” And, then a follow-up,a few minutes, later saying “There are technical difficulties at http://nyti.ms/w0c0wo that we hope to resolve soon. ”

      It’s not just the NYT Web site. According to sources at the paper, the nytimes.com e-mail servers are also down.

    • Remote File Inclusions Pose Threat to Web Server Security

      New research rings the alarm bell on the risks of Remote File Inclusions, which could be a more pervasive threat to Web server security than even SQL injection.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Transparency Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Icahn says bigger buybacks can drive Apple shares to $700
    • Investigation Of Banks’ Role In Price Rigging Escalates With New Subpoenas

      Last week’s CFTC subpoena targeted one unnamed warehousing firm, and specifically focused on documents related to the London Metal Exchange (LME), which is the primary global platform for trading based on metals. The LME sets rules for how the metal industry operates, including limits on how much of a given metal may be moved out of a given warehouse on a given day – the rule which warehouse owners like Goldman Sachs are allegedly abusing for profit. The LME also takes a one percent commission off of the rent that warehouses charge to store metals. With the total global value of metals traded through the exchange measured in the trillions of dollars, changing the system that’s allowed financial firms to inflate prices would cost the LME vast sums.

    • Fannie Mae Hires an Officer it Alleges Defrauded it – and Finance Cheers

      Three Bloomberg reporters have done the Nation a service by ferreting out a scandal of moderate magnitude but emblematic importance. Dakin Campbell, Jody Shenn and Phil Mattingly broke the story on August 14, 2013 that Adam Glassner, recently described, but not named, in the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) fraud suit against Bank of America (B of A), and named as a defendant by Fannie Mae’s in its fraud suit against B of A and several officers, was hired by two companies (Ally and Fannie) bailed out by Treasury.

    • The Rule of Law in the Financial System

      Felix Salmon has a depressing blog post about the Fab Tourre verdict and a criminal conviction in another Goldman Sachs-related case. Felix concludes, “I’m increasingly coming to the conclusion that America’s system of jurisprudence simply isn’t up to the task of holding banks and bankers accountable for their actions.”

    • Cisco Plans to Cut 4,000 Jobs, as It Posts Profit Gain
  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • What’s the Message of Clinton’s Noncampaign for the Office She Might Run for in Three Years?

      Hillary Clinton hasn’t announced that she’s running for president in 2016, and launched a campaign yet. But the Washington Post is already complaining that her nonexistent campaign for an office she may or may not seek lacks a clear message.

      [...]

      But thank you, Dan Balz and Richard Cohen, for this glimpse into the kind of campaign coverage we can look forward to for the next three years.

    • Koch-Funded Franklin Center “Watchdogs” Infiltrate State Capitols

      As newsrooms across the country have cut staff reporters — due in part to slipping ad revenue and corporate media conglomeration — the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity has rushed to fill the gap, as the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) has documented. The Franklin Center has 40 state news websites, with reporters in 34 states so far. Its reporters have received state house press credentials and its stories appear as news in mainstream print newspapers in each state without alerting readers to the heavy right-wing bias of the Franklin-related publications.

    • More Corporations Drop Off ALEC’s Conference Brochure

      An examination of the promotional brochure for the Chicago meeting of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) reveals that the meeting — where corporate lobbyists secretly vote as equals with legislators on model bills at ALEC task force meetings — has fewer corporate sponsors willing to tell the public they bankroll ALEC’s operations. This news comes in the aftermath of 48 corporations and six non-profits leaving ALEC after the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) connected the dots between “Stand Your Ground” legislation and ALEC, and coalition of organizations pressed for corporations to stop funding ALEC.

    • ALECexposed: List of Corporations and Special Interests that Underwrote ALEC’s 40th Anniversary Meeting

      Based on the sponsorship rates ALEC promoted earlier this year, the organization took in approximately $910,000 from firms specifically designated as “President” to “Trustee” level sponsors for its 40th Anniversary meeting compared with estimated revenue of approximately $1.2 million for the same level of sponsorships at last year’s meeting in Salt Lake City.

      These totals reflect the highest profile sponsorship levels promoted at the meeting, but ALEC obtained an additional amount of revenue from other event sponsorship opportunities for corporations and special interest groups, in addition to registration fees, booth fees for its convention, and other income sources. So its total revenue from this year’s meeting is certainly greater than $1 million, and it is not known if some corporations funded ALEC’s meeting at various sponsorship levels but chose not to have their names listed as sponsors in ALEC’s brochure, or not.

  • Censorship

    • To be, or not to be, blocked, that is the question

      n the latest development of over-zealous internet filtering, the British Library has blocked access to Shakespeare’s Hamlet because of its “violent content”.

    • Virgin and Sky blindly blocking innocent sites

      As reported by PC Pro, the systems implemented by both Virgin and Sky to stop access to websites blocked by the courts appear to be blocking innocent third-party sites with apparently little or no human oversight. For example the website http://radiotimes.com was reported to have been blocked.

  • Privacy

    • Obama’s Intelligence Advisory Board Cleaned Out Ahead of NSA Scandal

      Except not so much. In the months leading up to the scandals, President Obama has slashed the panel’s membership to virtually nothing. Usually a panel of 14-16 people, and 14 even last year, the PIAB now stands at just four members.

    • NSA leaks trigger steep rise in ad/third-party-cookie blocking

      An Annalect study of the public’s attitudes towards surveillance found that Internet users are becoming more concerned about privacy in the wake of Edward Snowden’s NSA leaks. They conclude that this will impact on online advertising, as more and more users adjust their browser settings to block third-party cookies and ads, and make use of privacy technologies in general. In support of the thesis, they cite strong growth in the percentage of users who have adjusted their browsers’ privacy settings. These users are still a minority, though the percentage has increased from 22 to 38 in less than a year.

    • Washington Post Slaps Back White House Over NSA Privacy Quotes

      The Post went to the NSA and the White House for comment before the article’s publication, as it does with almost any sensitive national security story. “The government was made aware of The Post’s intention to publish the documents that accompany this article online,” the article stated.

      But, in a separate post, the paper revealed that, after the Post refused to let the White House edit quotes from an on-the-record conversation Gellman had conducted with John DeLong, the NSA’s director of compliance, the administration tried to substitute the quotes with a prepared statement.

    • NSA repeatedly violated surveillance rules: report
    • How the NSA Is Hurting the Tech Sector
    • NSA broke privacy rules ‘thousands of times each year,’ report says

      The NSA broke privacy rules “thousands of times each year” since 2008, The Washington Post reported Thursday, citing an internal audit and other documents.

      Material was provided to the newspaper this summer by National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

    • The NSA’s Data Haul Is Bigger Than You Can Possibly Imagine
    • Snowden handed NSA information in Dell’s employ: Reports

      Reports have surfaced claiming that Edward Snowden began his intelligence collection in 2012.

    • Edward Snowden documents show NSA broke privacy rules

      The US National Security Agency (NSA) broke privacy rules and overstepped its legal authority thousands of times in the past two years, according to documents leaked by Edward Snowden.

    • NSA broke privacy rules thousands of times per year – report

      The U.S. National Security Agency has broken privacy rules or overstepped its legal authority thousands of times each year since 2008, the Washington Post reported on Thursday, citing an internal audit and other top-secret documents.

    • NSA spying ‘broke privacy rules’
    • Meet The Man Behind Palantir, The CIA’s Shifty Data-Mining Contractor

      Over at Forbes, Andy Greenberg has penned a fascinating profile of Alex Karp, the CEO of the CIA-funded data mining company Palantir. Palantir applies Silicon Valley data-gathering expertise to the tremendous amount of secret data that intelligence agencies and the military generate. Palantir then takes all the data and makes it useful, tagging the information and analyzing patterns to, for example, predict attacks in Iraq or track down cartel members. The company is moving into the private sector, away from just defense contracting, and bringing lessons from the battlefield to banks looking to stop identity theft and cyberattacks.

    • How to Encrypt Your Email

      First download Mozilla “thunderbird.” It’s a free email service that you can use with your current email address. Next download a free program called “GNU privacy guard.”

    • Keeping Abreast of Privacy Issues

      In this post-PRISM world, we need to take indi­vidual respons­ib­il­ity to pro­tect our pri­vacy and ensure we have free media. At least then we can freely read, write, speak, and meet with our fel­low cit­izens. We need this pri­vacy to be the new res­ist­ance to the creep­ing total­it­ari­an­ism of the global elites.

    • The NSA and the cloud – dispatches from the front line

      The NSA PRISM scandal rumbles on with the prospect of damage to the US cloud industry still top of the agenda as the German government called this week for greater support to create favorable European alternatives to US providers.

    • NSA establishes $60 million data analytics lab at N.C. State

      N.C. State University will join with the National Security Agency to analyze massive amounts of data at a new lab to be created at Centennial Campus, the university announced Thursday.

      The Laboratory for Analytic Sciences, funded with $60.75 million by the federal NSA, is the largest research grant in NCSU’s history, but details about the facility are top secret. Those who work in the lab will be required to have security clearance from the U.S. government.

    • Q&A: Senator Ron Wyden on NSA Surveillance and Government Transparency

      ‘If we don’t recognize that this is a truly unique moment in America’s constitutional history, our generation’s going to regret it forever.’

    • Let’s Give Every NSA Employee an Anonymous Whistleblowing Opportunity

      A reform that would protect classified information even as it helped tip off Congress and the public to surveillance abuses

    • Oracle’s Larry Ellison enthusiastically applauds NSA spying

      Oracle CEO Larry Ellison has given his enthusiastic support for the National Security Agency’s global surveillance of the internet and everyone on it.

    • Decoding NSA doublespeak

      The Electronic Frontier Foundation’s Trevor Timm has a handy guide to decoding NSA doublespeak. The spookocracy has a pathetically transparent way of lying their way out of direct questions, but the press (and, more importantly, Congress) seems incapable of detecting the low-grade BS emanating from the smoke-filled rooms. For example, when you ask the NSA if they can read Americans’ email without a warrant, they reply “we cannot target Americans’ email without a warrant.” The amazing thing about this stuff isn’t that the NSA tries it on, but that its nominal supervision doesn’t notice it. My five year old is better at this than they are.

    • Ex-CIA whistleblower Snowden contacted by father against legal advice

      The Russian lawyer for Edward Snowden revealed on Thursday that the father of the US intelligence leaker had contacted his son for the first time via the Internet in defiance of legal advice. Meanwhile a new poll shows most Russians think he is a hero for outing the secret services.

    • Lavabit founder, under gag order, speaks out about shutdown decision

      Ladar Levison took 10 years to build his company—and he’s 32, making that most of his adult life. So when he shut down his encrypted e-mail service, Lavabit, without warning last week, it was like “putting a beloved pet to sleep.”

    • How To Encrypt Your Email And Keep Your Conversations Private

      Between constant password breaches and government agencies trying to look in on everything you do, your privacy has probably been on your mind lately. If you’re looking for a little personal privacy in your communications with friends and loved ones, or you just want to trust that the documents you email to your accountant aren’t being intercepted and read, you’ll need to encrypt those messages. Thankfully, it’s easy to do. Here’s how.

    • House Intelligence Committee chairman says growing criticism of NSA, CIA is ‘dangerous trend’

      The chairman of the House Intelligence Committee said Wednesday night that “there’s plenty of oversight” given American intelligence agencies like the NSA and CIA and that “we need them to be at the top of their game” in a dangerous world.

    • Political Scene: Can the N.S.A. Be Reformed?

      On this week’s Political Scene podcast, Hendrik Hertzberg and John Cassidy join host Amy Davidson to talk about President Obama’s proposals to make the National Security Administration’s surveillance programs more transparent and more sensitive to civil liberties. The President’s plan includes appointing an independent lawyer to argue against the government before the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act court and reforming the Patriot Act to strengthen safeguards against the government listening in to citizens’ phone calls. “The steps he outlined,” Hertzberg says, “were gestures in the right direction, but they were really kind of feeble.” What’s more, as Cassidy says, the politics of security and counterterrorism may stand in the way of any substantial policy changes. “The political incentive for Obama and everybody in the White House is to act as tough as possible on all this national-security stuff, including this N.S.A. thing,” he says. “Even though there’s going to be a big brouhaha over this, the policies are basically going to continue.” After all, as he notes, no President wants to risk opening the doors to another terrorist attack.

    • Brazil rejects Kerry explanation on NSA surveillance

      But this tension may become more intense in coming weeks and months. According to Glenn Greenwald, the American journalist involved in the publication of leaks provided by Mr. Snowden, more revelations would be made public soon. Testifying before the Brazilian Senate foreign relations committee last Tuesday, Mr. Greenwald said, “The stories we have published are a small portion. There will certainly be more revelations on the espionage activities of the U.S. government and allied governments…on how they have penetrated the communications systems of Brazil and Latin America.”

    • The NSA Is, Like, Super Desperate: Using Twitter and Made Up Words to Hire People

      So, the NSA has had a hard time of things recently. Since everyone kind of hates them now, it has made hiring anyone a little more difficult than anticipated, because in addition to being reprimanded by college students, they’ve started tweeting job listings that may or may not use accepted English words.

    • German Backlash to NSA Spying Gets Stronger

      The German government said Wednesday that it plans to build up the European IT sector to provide stronger alternatives to American companies that are subject to surveillance by the U.S. National Security Agency.

    • US and Germany enter no-spying agreement in wake of NSA leaks

      The EU and the US should also accelerate data protection agreement talks, German Chancellor Merkel says

    • White House Knew That Mike Rogers Withheld Details Of NSA Surveillance From Others In Congress

      In the last week or so it’s come out that Rep. Mike Rogers, the head of the House Intelligence Committee has actively blocked requests from members of Congress to review details of the NSA’s surveillance program — showing that the claim that everyone in Congress was informed about these programs isn’t just a lie but a duplicitous one. And then it got worse. Rep. Justin Amash pointed out that Rogers’ committee actually withheld key information from all incoming Representatives in the class of 2010, who had to vote on the Patriot Act’s reauthorization, which renewed the program to collect data on all Americans in bulk.

    • There Is No Such Thing As NSA-Proof Email
    • Why can’t Face the Nation face dissent on NSA spying?

      The CBS Sunday morning show Face the Nation featured a discussion of NSA surveillance with the former head of the agency and two politicians who vigorously defend the agency’s mass surveillance programs.

  • Civil Rights

    • CIA Admits Spying on Noam Chomsky

      Though the file is from decades ago, the system of COINTELPRO and other intelligence activities were prologue to our current surveillance state. Only in those days they did not have the kinds of surveillance technologies that exist today.

    • CIA ‘admits’ to having file on Chomsky, might have destroyed it
    • CIA’s Chomsky file did exist

      But FBI memo reveals records were destroyed

    • CIA Cops To Spying On Noam Chomsky [Report]

      The Central Intelligence Agency denied that it had a secret file on the MIT professor for years, but finally copped to keeping tabs on the famous dissident since the 1970′s, at the height of his anti-war activities.

    • Renowned investigative journalist Michael Hastings was working on story about CIA Chief John Brennan at the time of his mysterious death
    • Journalist Michael Hastings reportedly working on story about CIA chief before death

      San Diego 6 News reports that Hastings had focused his latest project on Brennan, the former White House counterterrorism adviser and current CIA director.

    • Michael Hastings was working on a story about the CIA when he died

      Immediately after Michael Hastings died in a car crash in Los Angeles back in June, the conspiracy theories started flying. And this time it wasn’t all tin-foil hat nonsense—there was a lot to feel queasy about.

    • CIA Compiled Information on Noam Chomsky during Vietnam War
    • Barrett Brown Awaits Trial on Spurious Charges in Texas

      An astute critic of institutions, Barrett began his career criticizing the church, moved on to the corporate media and political pundits, focused on various companies in the private intelligence contracting industry, and finally took aim at the FBI and the Justice Department. Holding fast to his principles and instincts, his exemplary work always advanced the public interest and the interests of the common people. On a mission to expose corruption and abuse, he acted in the best traditions of the Constitution and muckraking journalism. His writing bleeds with his knowledge of the libertarian and anarchist schools of thought and a revolutionary sentiment. It’s no surprise that he now finds himself the target of a political prosecution which has already stolen his freedom for nearly a year and threatens to put him away for life.

    • America’s Descent Into Madness

      America is descending into madness. The stories it now tells are filled with cruelty, deceit, lies, and legitimate all manner of corruption and mayhem. The mainstream media spins stories that are largely racist, violent, and irresponsible —stories that celebrate power and demonize victims, all the while camouflaging its pedagogical influence under the cheap veneer of entertainment. Unethical grammars of violence now offer the only currency with any enduring value for mediating relationships, addressing problems, and offering instant pleasure. A predatory culture celebrates a narcissistic hyper-individualism that radiates a near sociopathic lack of interest in or compassion and responsibility for others. Anti-public intellectuals dominate the screen and aural cultures urging us to shop more, indulge more, and make a virtue out of the pursuit of personal gain, all the while promoting a depoliticizing culture of consumerism. Undermining life-affirming social solidarities and any viable notion of the public good, right-wing politicians trade in forms of idiocy and superstition that mesmerize the illiterate and render the thoughtful cynical and disengaged. Military forces armed with the latest weapons from Afghanistan play out their hyper-militarized fantasies on the home front by forming robo SWAT teams who willfully beat youthful protesters and raid neighborhood poker games. Congressional lobbyists for the big corporations and defense contractors create conditions in which war zones abroad can be recreated at home in order to provide endless consumer products, such as high tech weapons and surveillance tools for gated communities and for prisons alike.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyright Lawyers vs Patent Lawyers Smackdown: And The Winner Is…

      As we noted last year, in a surprising move, the USPTO had already thrown its weight behind the idea that copies of scientific articles submitted as part of the patent application were indeed fair use.

    • Copyrights

      • Court Forbids IsoHunt From Indexing Dead Torrent Sites

        A California District Court has updated and clarified the permanent injunction the MPAA won against the BitTorrent search engine isoHunt. The torrent site has to keep filtering movie and TV show-related titles and terms on its site. The new order further prohibits isoHunt from indexing or linking to The Pirate Bay and the late BTJunkie and TorrentSpy. This is the first time that a U.S. court has forbidden a site from linking to other sites that have been dead for years.

Using Blackberry Patents Against Android/Linux Not a Far-Fetched Strategy in the Nation of Software Patents

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Oracle, Patents at 1:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The demise of Blackberry is a growing patent-stacking threat to Linux and Free software

Blackberry

Summary: Identification of a looming threat to Android/Linux, especially from a company with history of Microsoft deals and a growing patent portfolio that’s being considered for sale

The United States, whose patent system is run by large corporations like IBM and Microsoft (the USPTO has long been operating outside the public interest), is a very threatening environment to Free/libre software. To distribute computer programs for free might not be legal there, but it only becomes a problem when distribution is of high volume and by a large company like Google. Microsoft even got large companies paying it for Linux, a widely used operating system kernel. This is unjust and the core cause is software patents.

“The first step to fighting patent trolls is to limit software patents to five years,” says this new article, which puts forth a sort of compromise which at least targets the real problem. To quote:

There’s a lot wrong with America’s patent system — it often serves to undercut innovation, limits competition, and rewards trolls. But there’s a relatively easy short-term fix: Cap software patents at five years from issuance, a position adapted from the Electronic Frontier Foundation’s (EFF) Defend Innovation Project. While comprehensive legislation is needed to fix patent law, this first step is critical to reviving and protecting entrepreneurship, R&D, and technological progress in the United States.

20 years if far too long a lifetime for patents that should have never been granted in the first place. Watch how software patents are preventing the spread of voice recognition, motivating this lawsuit over reasonably out-of-date ideas:

As Nuance Communications Inc. and ABBYY Software House — two competitors in optical character recognition — brought their long-running case to a jury in U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White’s courtroom on Monday, their lawyers traded classic barbs of patent warfare.

Representing plaintiff Nuance, partner James Bennett of Morrison & Foerster described ABBYY in his opening statement as “a follower, not a leader.”

Coming to the Russian company’s defense, partner Gerald Ivey of Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett & Dunner suggested that Nuance felt threatened by a more nimble competitor.

This is just protectionism. That’s what patents are about. When some companies cannot rely on technical advantage alone they then resort to patent monopolies.

Android, which is growing rapidly and taking over the world as a de facto platform (on which most Techrights posts are composed by the way), is actually the target of protectionism from the ‘old guard’ — companies it is making less relevant over time.

It is being alleged right now that patents from RIM might get sold. One reader wrote to say: “If BlackBerry sell company… Microsoft will… get QNX which is UNIX like operating system and… patents and QNX technology and Linux?”

“Remember SCO,” he added.

Well, Microsoft could pay BlackBerry to later see RIM/BlackBerry suing Android companies. The Nokia and SCO strategy more or less…

Blackberry is of virtually no practical use to Android backers; when Google bought part of Motorola and grossly overpaid it was intended to prevent Microsoft and Apple from getting the patents (which they had reportedly bid for, just like with Nortel).

What if another CPTN member like Oracle bought this company? A new interview with Oracle’s CEO was rather revealing. He spoke of Microsoft as an enemy of an enemy (Google) and one author thinks that “Oracle (ORCL) [is] The Perfect BlackBerry (BBRY) Buyer” (for patents at least). To quote:

So BlackBerry (BBRY) has put itself up for sale while also considering a private equity move. Some pundits wonder if the Z10 smartphone maker will break itself up into a mobile service provider and mobile device company. But The VAR Guy wonders: Does a more surprising fate await BlackBerry — at the hands of Oracle (ORCL) CEO Larry Ellison? Before you dismiss Oracle potentially buying BlackBerry, consider this history lesson.

Microsoft has been publicly aiding Oracle’s litigation against Android, announcing collaborations other than CPTN (technical ones too) and filing together antitrust complaints. Here is more of what Oracle thinks of Google.

Speaking of Oracle, what about other CPTN members like Apple and Microsoft (to which Oracle is now very close)?

Apple has been fighting Samsung using patent-induced sanctions at the ITC, with support from Obama's government officials. The Against Monopoly Web site says:

ITC Allows Apple Imports That Violate Samsung Patents

The blog, Public Knowledge, argues that the International Trade Commission should consider the public interest in reaching regulatory decisions on patents. The Obama has so decreed when it overruled an ITC case and permitted imports of Apple phones that it had found to violate duly recognized patents of other companies, in this case foreign firms link here.

When I look at the mess in the whole patent system, I see a world of oligopolies and monopolies built on patents, supposedly designed to encourage innovation, but instead creating a self-perpetuating means to paralyze innovation.

Groklaw has been upset about this and the other day it covered Microsoft’s fight against Motorola, which now involves an injunction as well. To quote:

Judge James L. Robart has now ruled [PDF, 38 pages] on Microsoft and Motorola’s summary judgment motions, granting in part and denying in part.

The attacks on Android takes many different forms (also antitrust), but the main players behind this attack remain the same. Next week we will revisit the antitrust angle.

Microsoft Sued (Class Action) for “False and Misleading Statements” Regarding “Financial Performance”

Posted in Finance, Fraud, Microsoft at 12:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Financial fraud continues, without the ‘Bernard Madoff’ treatment

Bernard Madoff

Summary: The latest crimes of Microsoft lead to a class action lawsuit filed by its own shareholders

Microsoft is no stranger to financial fraud, which goes a long way back at the company. The software monopolist, Microsoft, habitually defrauds investors. I can say that with confidence given my decade or so of research into it. Traditionally, Microsoft has bribed the accusers, but what happens when class action is at stake? Microsoft paid, while entering debt/operating at a loss, millions of dollars to one employee who had blown the whistle on financial misconduct (also see [1, 2]), but can Microsoft afford to bribe millions of people?

The press release about this new class action lawsuit says:

The complaint charges Microsoft and certain of its officers with violations of the Securities Exchange Act of 1934. Microsoft is the world’s largest software company, primarily as a result of its near-monopoly on Windows personal computer (“PC”) operating system software and its Microsoft Office collection of productivity programs.

The complaint alleges that, during the Class Period, defendants issued materially false and misleading statements regarding the Company’s financial performance and its tablet computer, the Surface RT. Specifically, defendants misrepresented and failed to make public the following adverse facts: (i) that the Company’s Surface RT product was experiencing poor customer demand and lackluster sales; (ii) that the Company’s Surface RT inventory experienced a material decline in value during the quarter ended March 31, 2013; (iii) that the Company’s financial statements for the quarter ended March 31, 2013 were materially false and misleading and violated Generally Accepted Accounting Principles and Microsoft’s publicly disclosed policy of accounting for inventories; (iv) that the Company’s Form 10-Q for its third quarter of 2013 failed to disclose then presently known trends, events or uncertainties associated with the Surface RT product that were reasonably likely to have a material effect on Microsoft’s future
operating results; and (v) that based on the foregoing, defendants lacked a reasonable basis for their positive statements about the Company’s Surface RT product during the Class Period.

“It’s a pretty clear case about lying,” iophk says. “It’s there in black and white and registered with official sources. Not much chance for a normal company. However, there are people that help Microsoft avoid the regular rules of business.”

We have covered some examples of that before. iophk continues: “Will they still make a special exception for Microsoft even in the case of defrauding investors and the government?

“Wasn’t there a good quote from an authority that criticised Gates for equating being forced to follow the rules with an attempt to destroy Microsoft?”

‘A government official involved in the case said: “The government is not trying to destroy Microsoft, it’s simply seeking to compel Microsoft to obey the law. It’s quite revealing that Mr. Gates equates the two.”‘ (source)

Here is some further commentary on this news:

No, they’re not being cooked, just sued for misrepresenting their financial situation in public statements upon which some investors base their decisions.

Pro-Microsoft sites like Neowin covered this with apparent concern:

The exact sales of Microsoft’s Surface RT tablets are the subject of a newly filed class action lawsuit against the company. The lawsuit alleges that Microsoft has issued “false and misleading statements” concerning the sales of its first PC hardware product, which Microsoft launched in October 2012.

The law firm of Robbins Geller Rudman & Dowd filed the suit on behalf of the plaintiff, Gail Fialkov, and Microsoft is named as a defendant in the case. In addition, the lawsuit names CEO Steve Ballmer as a defendant along with former CFO Peter Klein; Corporate Vice President Frank Brod; and Tami Reller, who served as the head of business and marketing for the Windows division until the company’s recent restructuring, when she was then named as head of all marketing.

The lawsuit claims that Microsoft failed to state how bad sales of the Surface RT have been and that the company’s inventory of the tablet “experienced a material decline in value during the quarter ended March 31, 2013.” The lawsuit also alleges that Microsoft’s financial statements for that same quarter were “materially false and misleading” and violated both general accounting practices along with Microsoft’s own “policy of accounting for inventories.” The law firm is seeking an unspecified amount of damages from Microsoft.

“Pogson covered it yesterday,” wrote iopkh, “Microsoft got caught lying to the SEC. PCWorld [part of IDG] is trying to cover for them now.” Here comes IDG with Microsoft-leaning promotional language that belittles the case:

Microsoft couldn’t be reached for comment at press time.

The promotional language is not hard to see. Apparently crime is not taken seriously anymore, especially when rich people commit the crime (unless they’re lone wolves like Bernard Madoff and not Goldman Sachs, hence easier to prosecute and use as a whipping boy to appease the public).

The World’s Biggest Patent Troll (and Racketeering/Pyramid Scheme Operation) Grows Closer to the Gates Foundation

Posted in Bill Gates, Patents at 12:42 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bill and Nathan

Summary: The controversial connection between Bill and Nathan is getting more media attention

Trolls who sue legitimate businesses and Bill Gates can relate to one another, as they’re in the same type of business (Intellectual Ventures and the Gates Foundation work together for profit). Ignoring PR and puff pieces like Slashdot‘s latest boosting of Nathan and Bill (not the first time, albeit this time it is boosted by the site of Todd Bishop again, with history of Microsoft funding), there seems to be growing awareness of Gates’ relationship with trolls. The Microsoft booster writes:

Gates and Myhrvold are two of 10 inventors listed on the patent filing — a telltale sign that this was a product of one of Intellectual Ventures’ brainstorming sessions. Intellectual Ventures leader Myhrvold, the former Microsoft technology chief, is involved in a variety of ventures with Gates, and has regularly included him in these sessions.

Even Microsoft’s former booster (reformed a bit in recent years) Jon Brodkin was among those who criticised Gates. He says that Bill Gates [is] still helping known patent trolls obtain more patents, writing:

Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is one of 10 inventors named on a newly public patent application for a technology that uses mobile phones to turn text into video. Filed in January 2012, the application was made public on July 25 this year after the customary 18-month confidentiality period.

Gates has been prolific in filing patent applications over the past few years, mostly through a partnership with friends at Intellectual Ventures (IV). That’s one of the world’s largest patent holding companies, typically described as a patent troll because of its practice of acquiring patents and using them to file lawsuits (notably against Motorola), despite not using the patents to make technology of its own.

It seems like some people are catching on, but agents/moles of Gates (paid pseudo-journalists even inside Slashdot) try to push back against this tide of public awareness.

The NSA Can Now Ping to Death Windows-running PCs

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 12:28 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Cyberwar cannot be won with Windows

National Security Agency

Summary: The latest hole in Windows puts another type of weapon in the NSA’s arsenal

The NSA can brick some motherboards remotely (Windows-only and depending on the hardware [1, 2, 3]), hijack computers remotely (Windows-only), and even take them down remotely (Windows-only), thanks to help from Microsoft (NSA collusion with Microsoft). Many fools don’t mind this. They think it’s normal and they trust the CIA/NSA, even when people like Prof. Chomsky have illegal files kept on them by the CIA, then destroyed, then lied about. Dissent is 'terrorism' now and so is activism for transparency.

Joab Jackson shows this latest Windows hole, which the NSA already knows about and is permitted to exploit with impunity (NSA is above the law). To quote:

Microsoft Patch Tuesday: The Ping of Death returns, IPv6-style

This bulletins serve as a reminder for Microsoft and other software vendors that rely on third-party libraries or programs that “vulnerabilities can bubble up through the supply chain,” Kandek said.

These patches would apply to all supported versions of Microsoft Exchange Server 2007, Microsoft Exchange Server 2010, and Microsoft Exchange Server 2013.

The third critical bulletin only applies to Windows XP and Windows Server 2013, and involves exploiting a hole in Microsoft’s OpenType fonts. It may be one of the last vulnerabilities Microsoft will fix for the aging OS.

With Windows you simply have no control over your computer. The NSA leaks help reinforce this fact.

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