EditorsAbout the SiteComes vs. MicrosoftUsing This Web SiteSite ArchivesCredibility IndexOOXMLOpenDocumentPatentsNovellNews DigestSite NewsRSS

08.22.13

Techrights Scope Expansion

Posted in Site News at 10:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sun sets on the old Techrights

Sunset

Summary: Experimenting with a new format that accommodates more posts and possibly making this new format permanent

The daily links have been expanding in terms of scope over the years and a lot of items did not get as much attention as they deserved. Starting next month (after our summer vacation) I will finally make the changes that I inquired about over the past year or two. Techrights will expand its scope of coverage to make up for the vacuum left by closure of some important sites. There will be focus on external references and the old topics will still take priority. I will experiment with the new format over the coming week and if it’s reasonably useful to readers, then this will be the way forward.

In order to understand this new format it is essential that I explain how I do my research. I am subscribed to hundreds of feeds, some of which are multi-site aggregators. I read through them and then organise them, later to decide what I have time to write about. What I cannot afford to cover given time limitations I will typically add to the next bunch of daily links. A lot of journalists work in the same way, give or take a step.

Daily links give no convenient opportunity to add a personal interpretation or tie together items other than by vicinity or chronology. It would be more valuable to split what is currently just a compilation of daily links and instead publish analysis which deals not only with FOSS but other subjects too. This will increase the amount of output and make it easier to navigate through news (by headlines, dates, and so on). In essence, there will be long articles for topics which are important and shorter ones with links appended where the topic merits lesser attention.

It is hard to say how this will scale w.r.t. time, hence I will give it a trial period of less one week and then decide if it’s sustainable.

On another final note, there is no denying that there is less FOSS news coverage than there used to be. It does not mean that FOSS has become irrelevant; it is just being taken for granted and increasingly — like IBM — it becomes a quiet giant (few cover the Linux and FOSS aspects of Android for example). What’s increasingly needed right now is advocacy that expands/ties software freedom to justice and rights like privacy. Not many sites connect those different strands; even fewer do so after Groklaw ceased publication. Later this year this site will turn seven, so now is a good time to readjust format, maybe the layout too (at a later stage).

NSA Back Doors Get Microsoft Windows Excluded From Procurement in Germany

Posted in Europe, Microsoft, Vista 8, Windows at 10:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Blowback time

Angela Merkel
Angela Merkel, by Αντώνης Σαμαράς Πρωθυπουργός της Ελλάδας

Summary: The NSA is getting US corporations (subsidised by US taxpayers to an extent) banned for security reasons, showing in the process how proprietary paradigm helps conceal back doors and reduce trust

Angela Merkel has been working with the NSA, Microsoft’s close ally, for quite some time. But right now this relationship is exploding right in her face and jeopardises her election campaign in Germany (voting is imminent). She needs to rethink her policies in light of the NSA abuses which everyone now knows about.

The NSA has been involved in Vista 8 development (as usual, the same was done with previous versions of Windows) and it gets notified of back doors in the operating system (while they are universally unaddressed). Add UEFI to the equation and the NSA can now remotely brick some motherboards as long as they run Windows. The British military does not seem to mind this. It gave the US control of all PCs. National Security in the UK assumes that by “national” we mean the US. We already have some NSA bases in the UK.

Nations are finally grasping the threat of the NSA. First China and Russia took action, with China launching a large probe and Russia abandoning some computers. Well, now Germany joins the pack. As David Sugar said it to me,‏ “Windows 8 banned by German govt for integrating forced hardware surveillance & backdoors”

They also warned against UEFI (for secure boot) less than a year ago. Here is the a summary of a report written in German:

According to leaked internal documents from the German Federal Office for Information Security (BSI) that Die Zeit obtained, IT experts figured out that Windows 8, the touch-screen enabled, super-duper, but sales-challenged Microsoft operating system is outright dangerous for data security. It allows Microsoft to control the computer remotely through a built-in backdoor. Keys to that backdoor are likely accessible to the NSA – and in an unintended ironic twist, perhaps even to the Chinese.

The backdoor is called “Trusted Computing,” developed and promoted by the Trusted Computing Group, founded a decade ago by the all-American tech companies AMD, Cisco, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Intel, Microsoft, and Wave Systems. Its core element is a chip, the Trusted Platform Module (TPM), and an operating system designed for it, such as Windows 8. Trusted Computing Group has developed the specifications of how the chip and operating systems work together.

The other day, unofficial Microsoft spokeswoman Mary Jo Foley (her criticisms of Microsoft are rare and weak) was pushing people to buy new software from Microsoft, citing security reasons. [via]

Microsoft’s latest tack in trying to wean users off Windows XP is to warn them of a possible ‘zero day forever’ scenario in the post-April 2014 support cut-off world.

This is nonsense because after the NSA leaks we know that this threat is perpetual. As Pogson put it:

Well, I don’t think those numbers are very accurate but it’s the trend that matters. There are still hundreds of millions of PCs out there using XP and after 234 days there will still be ~200 million clinging to what they know. According to M$, XP will be revealed as the garbage OS that it is after that because it will be a huge unprotected target for malware artists. They shipped it with ~50K bugs and added more over the years. Malware artists have been discovering hundreds of ways of penetrating the OS every day for more than a decade. XP inspired whole industies of “anti-malware” and malware, spending the resources of IT defending IT from the carelessness of M$ for security, integrity and performance. M$ has used hundreds of millions of users and owners of PCs as slaves all these years and many have accepted that slavery as a way of life.

Pogson’s point is valid. But he does not address the fact that flaws are being spread to partners (like Microsoft does with the NSA). An article from the British press says that “Microsoft warns it’ll hand out zero days for Windows XP” (like it has done for a dozen years with the NSA). To quote:

Microsoft has a Windows XP problem: people still like it and aren’t willing to upgrade just yet. So it’s warning users that if they don’t upgrade soon, each new Patch Tuesday will gift a new series of vulnerabilities to the hacking community.

Windows XP is already Swiss cheese. Microsoft is trying to exploit its rubbish security as a marketing tool right now. It wants to upsell.

Woody Leonhard, an author of IDG, wrote about 17 epic Microsoft Windows Auto Update meltdowns [via], preceding it with:

These legendary clunkers made Patch Tuesday a living hell for Windows users the world over

A lot of the press has been overlooking an important point. The Windows toggle button which tells Microsoft not to automatically update (modify) the system has no effect. We know this empirically, at least when it comes to XP; about 5 years ago it was shown to have no effect. Automatic update is a back door, so Microsoft would let the NSA take over PCs with this back door, too. Staying “up to date” with patches can thus have the opposite effect.

The bottom line is, any company that comes in contact with the Department of Espionage (the NSA) should be suspect and should be avoided where possible. Germany should do nationally what it already did in Munich and a few smaller places,

Microsoft is Still Cheating in Benchmarks, Gets Banned by Leading Benchmarks Authority

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Vista 8, Windows at 9:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Benchmark frauds

Lie: MS SQL Oracle fake compare

Summary: Vista 8 found to be rigging benchmark results and subsequently banned

Over the years we have covered numerous instances where Microsoft falsified data and methods to defame the competition [1, 2]. Microsoft lies with numbers the same way the NSA does. Now we find that Microsoft is apparently rigging benchmarks that involve Vista 8, the worst version of Windows ever (worse than Vista based on market performance). The world’s top benchmarking site caught and banned it:

In an odd turn of events, Windows 8 has been banned from HWBot, one of the world’s top benchmarking and overclocking communities. All existing benchmarks recorded by Windows 8 have been disqualified. This is due to a fault in Windows 8′s real-time clock (RTC), which all benchmarking tools use as a baseline.

[...]

Moving forward, HWBot simply says that it’s “impossible to verify the veracity of a system performance” under Windows 8, and thus benchmarks performed under Windows 8 will no longer be accepted. The blog post also says that all previous Windows 8-based records will be disqualified, though some comments from the moderator suggest that they’re still deciding if this is the best course of action. The moderator also says they don’t think that this flaw in the Windows 8 RTC is being actively exploited, but it’s obviously a case of better-safe-than-sorry.

For Microsoft’s part, this issue can probably be fixed with a patch, though it might be difficult given Windows 8′s cross-platform nature. It will be interesting to see how quickly Microsoft responds, because benchmarking tools really have no recourse without an accurate RTC. Having an entire operating system outlawed from one of the world’s biggest benchmarking sites is a big deal. For now, PC enthusiasts have yet another reason to stick with Windows 7.

Microsoft will probably say it’s just an accident and we’ll be expected to just give it the benefit of the doubt, despite Microsoft’s long history of fraudulent benchmarks. Did Microsoft have the same properties in previous versions of Windows but was never caught? It’s worth verifying.

Easy Litigation With Patents and Broad Patent Scope the Ammunition of Patent Trolls, Parasitical Firms

Posted in Patents at 9:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Gentle or covert parasitical behaviour

Eastern Phoebe next

Image by Galawebdesign

Summary: Discussion about patent news with focus on what’s required to end retardation of competition

Everyone in the public arena (e.g. politicians) speaks of patent reform as though it’s an enigma, a mystery. The public generally knows what’s required, but lawyers (which is what most politicians are) and business leaders have a different agenda in mind. Protectionism to them (protecting from the public) is a business.

Law Professor Mark Lemley says that patent trials can be made shorter, which would basically make more entities eager to sue over patents and for parties not to settle out of court. Not a smart move. It is the wrong solution, but he does not advocate it, he just frames his paper like this. Right now we can observe this gross case where software patents are used to starve practising companies:

A Virginia federal judge on Friday found Lawson Software Inc. in contempt of an injunction in a suit over online sales patents, ordering the company to pay roughly $18 million because it didn’t make substantial changes to software infringing patents owned by ePlus Inc.

Here is another new story. Only lawyers win.

In October 2008, MPS filed a declaratory judgment (DJ) action against O2 Micro – asking the district court to issue declarations of noninfringement and invalidity with respect to four O2 Micro patents. U.S. Patent Nos. 6,856,519, 6,809,938, 6,900,993, and 7,120,035. O2 Micro’s attorneys had been monitoring case-filing information and, when the company learned that it had been sued, it quickly filed its own complaint regarding the same patents in the USITC (even before MPS was able to serve notice on O2 Micro).

The above shows that not only patent trolls are the problem, they are a symptom. Forget about blaming just trolls, who are distracting from bigger issues. This is not the route towards reform. Speaking of trolls, remember that they usually use software patents (like encryption). This new article shows the challenge of eliminating those patents in the US. “Like it or not, certain software is still eligible for patent protection,” writes a patent lawyer in a lawyers’ Web site. Another site reports on the “Lawsuit Industry in America”, noting that it is out of control. Troll Tracker reminds us why everyone with a scanner is under attack:

Maybe you have to have been a kid in the 70′s to know who Buford Pusser is, but suffice it to say that Lori Swanson, Minnesota’s Attorney General, took a page right smack out of his book when she went after the Scanner Dudes. You may know them as MPHJ, a company with as many shells as a South Padre Island beach, all of which were created to send shakedown notices to every Mom and Pop who owns a scanner and uses email. Like Vermont and Nebraska before, Minnesota has thrown down the gauntlet against these guys and others of their ilk.

There is at least some backlash against it, but it’s not enough. It is still a growing industry. The BBC has this new programme about it and an accompanying article with loaded language from Rory Cellan-Jones (he says “invention owners”).

Now that the White House ponders taking reactionary action to appease large corporations (not the public) we see some more lobbying from trolling giants. Intellectual Ventures, which is lobbying with Bill Gates as we reported some years ago (it came from a radio show about the policy pressure groups for trolls) is up to it again:

Intellectual Ventures Management, which its critics consider one of the largest U.S. “patent trolls,” has deployed its first in-house lobbyist in Washington, D.C.

The Bellevue, Wash.-based patent holding company has sent its chief policy counsel, Russell Merbeth, to the capital to advocate on “[i]ssues related to patent reform, intellectual property rights, taxation of patent royalties, [and] corporate tax reform,” according to lobbying registration paperwork filed with Congress Thursday. In March, Merbeth came to Intellectual Ventures from Cricket Communications Inc., where he served as vice president of government affairs.

What we need to recognise is, people like Bill Gates, who try to pass off patents as ‘charity’ through the Gates Foundation, are the plutocrats who benefit the most from patents and they control our politicians (not just in the US, the same is true here). Reform won’t come from politics, it will come from brave action from the population. The pyramid scheme of Bill and Nathan, for example, is unlikely to be shut down by the government and neither person will be sent to prison for racketeering.

Blackberry Patents Emerge as New Threat in Patent Stacking and FRAND Attacks on Free Software

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Patents at 9:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mike Lazaridis
Mike Lazaridis – Founder and Co-CEO of Research in Motion (Blackberry), photo by textlad

Summary: The growing worries about the damage RIM patents can cause when Blackberry lets them fly loose

The other week we warned about patents of Blackberry falling into the wrong hands or agenda. It is being claimed that “Encryption Patents Could Be Blackberry’s Biggest Asset” (via Glyn Moody) and it is indeed the case that it’s also the biggest threat because Android-hostile companies already pursued and signed some deals with Blackberry. The company or its patents can be used by proxy against Android in the same way Nokia’s patents were used to feed trolls and sue Android backers directly (famously HTC, which unlike Samsung does not have many patents of its own).

Microsoft’s and Apple’s strategy has been a patent stacking strategy for a number of years now. Here is one form of this strategy, the FRAND attack. The FRAND lawyers say that “in Motorola’s letter, there are three particular issues: (1) the applicability of patent exhaustion; (2) the ability of Motorola to require a “defensive suspension” clause in a license with Marvell; and (3) Microsoft’s standing to allege a RAND breach based on Motorola’s course of dealing with Marvell.”

Here is another post from them, showing that Motorola is still stuck in Microsoft’s back yard [1, 2]:

A month ago, we discussed how Microsoft and Motorola filed dueling summary judgment motions in an attempt to eliminate some of the issues from the upcoming RAND breach of contract jury trial in Seattle (currently set to begin August 26). Judge James L. Robart held an oral argument on July 31, and this morning, his order hit the docket (the order is actually dated yesterday — Judge Robart is apparently not taking Sundays off).

The Motorola case is important because Google is directly involved after the acquisition and it needs to fight the patent stacking (also by Oracle) in order to defend liberal distribution of Android.

The Season of Microsoft Boosters Demonising Google, Promoting Windows and Seeding Antitrust ‘Evidence’ Against Google

Posted in FUD, Google, Microsoft, Windows at 8:54 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Anti-Google AstroTurfing masked as “journalism”

Mask

Summary: A glance at how Microsoft boosters distort the facts or apply selective coverage to make Google look evil and Microsoft look like a victim or the solution

A lot of systematic FUD against Google has come from Microsoft this month, especially over the past fortnight or so. Some say that it is intended to bolster complaints against Google — formally filed by proxies of Microsoft. Given the original source of most of this FUD, it is likely to be seeded by proxy by Microsoft PR agencies.

There’s lots of Microsoft boosters trying to bring back a controversy which we first wrote about in May. Microsoft booster Gralla gets rebutted here for example:

So, Gralla thinks that this one app has the power to kill the entire platform? Wow! So, Amazon’s Kindle have no future as there is no official YouTube app.

It’s like reading the Lords of the Rings, one app to rule them all.

So going by Gralla’s logic Google should have stopped releasing apps like Chrome, Maps, Earth, Gtalk, Google Music, Google Drive for Windows and killed Windows to protect Chrome OS!

If Google really feared something it should be iOS. Going by Preston Gralla’s own ‘assumption’, if Google wanted to damage iOS it would have never released YouTube app when Apple discontinued their in-house app. Apple had a license with Google for the app. Does Microsoft have any such licensing deal with Google? If Google was really frightened, it would have iOS users keep getting lost with Apple Maps and should have never released Google Maps for iOS. Google did.

Tom Warren, over at The Verge, says in his headline that “Google blocks Microsoft’s new YouTube Windows Phone app” (misses the full story).

Pamela Jones asked: “What is Microsoft up to? Let’s guess. Maybe trying for some helpful headlines to buttress its FairSearch complaint about bundling? Or is a tech company not able to figure out the tech so as to get it right?”

Microsoft’s lobbying blog joins in. As Jones put it: “If you read the most recent FairSearch complaint filed with the EU Commission, which Microsoft and other FairSearch members hope will become an official investigation, I think you’ll see that Microsoft is here trying to buttress its case, rather than trying to “work with Google” to solve the issues raised. As you watch this play out, I think you’ll find that is what this is really all about. When it’s a lawyer writing a blog post, they’re not just whistling Dixie.”

The author at the lobbying blog is “David Howard, Corp. V. P. & Deputy General Counsel, Litigation & Antitrust, Microsoft” (antitrust which paints Microsoft as the victim).

Meanwhile, in a smear attributed to Consumer Watchdog (based on false information) we find sheer hypocrisy (ZDNet likes to pick on Google these days) and as part of this AstroTurfing against Google we also find that Microsoft Jack recommends Microsoft, the ally of the NSA, for privacy in E-mail (Microsoft is far worse than Google).

There is clearly some orchestration of propaganda in the media, so it is hard to tell apart legitimate Google scepticism from AstroTurfing. Not every criticism of Google is invalid, but a lot of it is manufactured by exploitative spin doctors.

RSS 64x64RSS Feed: subscribe to the RSS feed for regular updates

Home iconSite Wiki: You can improve this site by helping the extension of the site's content

Home iconSite Home: Background about the site and some key features in the front page

Chat iconIRC Channels: Come and chat with us in real time

New to This Site? Here Are Some Introductory Resources

No

Mono

ODF

Samba logo






We support

End software patents

GPLv3

GNU project

BLAG

EFF bloggers

Comcast is Blocktastic? SavetheInternet.com



Recent Posts