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04.07.14

Links: Privacy Erosion and Other Technological Erosions of Rights

Posted in News Roundup at 7:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

With technological transitions come the powers to emancipate or to oppress

Privacy

NSA/GCHQ

Germany

Europe

  • US Criticises European Anti-Spying Internet Proposals
  • A difficult breakup between US, internet

    It could be a difficult breakup between the US government and the internet.

    A plan unveiled last month would see the US relinquish its key oversight role for the internet, handing that over to “the global multistakeholder community”.

    US officials say the move is part of a longstanding effort to privatise the technical oversight of the internet.

  • US claims EU plans to build ring-fenced network may ‘break global trade rules’

    European Union plans to build a separate communications network to prevent data from passing over US networks is being opposed by the US, which claims that it would breach international trade laws.

    The opposition of the US to the plans comes at a delicate stage of negotiation between the US and EU over a trade treaty that would give more power to multinational organisations – including communications companies – to sue national governments over claimed breaches of trade rules.

Snowden

CIA

  • Former CIA Director Calls Female Senator Too ‘Emotional’ On Torture Report

    Senator Dianne Feinstein (D-CA) has chaired the Senate’s Intelligence Committee for five years. So when she suggested last month that investigators should make public a report on the U.S.’s interrogation techniques because it would “ensure that an un-American, brutal program of detention and interrogation will never again be considered or permitted,” one might have seen it as the strong words and fair assessment of a person who has deep experience on the issue.

  • Hayden Faults Administration, Not CIA, on Benghazi Talking Points

    Former deputy CIA director Michael Morell told the House Intelligence Committee this week that despite reports from the chief of station in Libya that no protests occurred outside the American diplomatic facility in Benghazi prior to the September 11, 2012, terrorist attack on it, he edited the administration’s talking points to include references to such protests. His CIA analysts in Washington believed they had occurred, and the station chief, after all, was 500 miles away in Tripoli.

  • When the barrels of guns are lifted, truth vanishes – Kristinn Hrafnsson

    For the public revelations that the CIA and NSA were spying on the committee that was supposed to have oversight of their activities should be of great concern as it is a major breakdown in the system of checks and balances that should be inherently present in a healthy democracy. Despite all of the Snowden revelations there is also no indication that the NSA has changed its practices or made changes to how they carry out operations. By not publishing information that the public has the right to know the media has also failed and according to WikiLeaks spokesman Kristinn Hrafnsson, it is: “… an absolutely disgusting break with all the basic principles of journalism that I know of. And they claim that this is done upon the request of the US authorities for the security concerns. That is not acceptable.” Unfortunately today, he says: “We have submissive and lame editorial boards that will simply do as they are told.”

Venezuela, Cuba

  • Low Intensity War Challenges National Independence of Venezuela

    Over the past six weeks the so called salida ya [exit now] strategy launched by the Venezuelan opposition has developed, in part, into a low intensity war against the democratically elected government of President Nicolas Maduro. This essay will examine two strategic objectives of the Bolivarian revolution that serve as pillars of resistance to the anti-democratic elements of the counter revolution: the struggle to preserve national independence and the campaign to develop and expand the communal structures that are the organized expressions of popular power.

  • Report: US Agency Created ‘Cuban Twitter’ To Foster Dissent

Syria

Torture

Drones

Racism

Censorship

Both Apple and Microsoft Compare Their Corporate Causes to Religion

Posted in Apple, FSF, Google, Microsoft at 6:08 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Binondo Church

Summary: Steve Jobs calls competition (litigation) with Android a “holy war” whereas Bill Gates calls undermining Linux a “Jihad”

TECHRIGHTS is the recipient of various smears that claim the site or its authors to be something that they are not (misrepresentation). We wrote many articles about it about 5 years ago, having seen smears as bad as “Taliban”. A very common pattern of smears is to call your rival/opponent in a debate “religious” about an opinion, as in dogmatic and detached from logic (there are other similar labels like “tinfoil hat” or “conspiracy theory”, as noted years ago). The FSF, despite being mostly atheistic, is a regular recipient of the “religion” smear (Stallman’s parodies of religion may contribute to this). Microsoft sometimes smears Free software by characterising it as a religion and we, as vocal Novell critics, received similar smears from Novell apologists/staff (Microsoft Linux is still alive by the way and it is spreading to Google). Calling/labeling “religious” those who are non-religious makes no sense. It’s a cheap shot and those who use such cheap shots are often the ones who are irrational and detached from an alternative (opposing) point of view. When logic doesn’t work in an argument, then cheap shots get used, or ad hominem attacks.

Now, similar arguments have been made by some Apple “fanboys” (a label in itself) when they were accused of following Apple like it’s a religion (or cult, i.e. small religion). Those jokes about Apple being followed like a religion and Jobs being treated like a Messiah are not so far fetched anymore. And why?

The proponent of "thermonuclear" action turns out to have referred to his war on Android/Linux as a “holy war”.

Holy?

Really?!

Holy crap.

To quote CNBC: “Steve Jobs warned Apple’s leadership a year before his death that the company he founded faced an “innovator’s dilemma” over the growing threat from Google and promised a “holy war” on smartphones running its Android software, according to evidence shown in court on Tuesday”

This is almost as bad as Bill Gates' allegory/wording when he asked “where are we on this Jihad?” (referring to Microsoft’s war against Linux inside Intel).

Next time you see Free software proponents being referred to as “religious” or something along those lines remember the words of Steve Jobs and Bill Gates. They themselves seem to define/characterise their companies as religious movements.

It is clear why Apple is so afraid of Android, as now revealed by documents from inside Apple [1], noting that people are moving to Android and never coming back to the “holy” Apple (not even if they work for a company that’s a partner of Apple [2]). The other Steve from Apple (Wozniak) is now an Android user and he likes to brag (publicly) about Android phones, which based on some new study [3] are technically better and more stable.

People need not have a religious-type faith to choose GNU/Linux or Android; they do, however, need to have a strong belief in Apple in order to choose an overpriced iPhone.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. iPhone becomes victim of Android’s success, makes Apple worry

    Internal Apple documents show that the company’s sales department is anxious about growing competition from Android-powered devices amidst declining iPhone sales, Re/code said in a report.

  2. Why I’m glad I never abandoned Android for an iPhone

    I’ve written about and reviewed mobile phones for almost a decade and a half. Everything from flip phones, to BlackBerrys, to today’s hottest Android models, and yes, Apple iPhones, have passed through my hands. That experience is why, more than anything, I’ve ultimately settled on Google Android as my smartphone platform of choice.

  3. Android more stable than iOS: Study

    For long we have been hearing strories that Android is unsafe, unstable, while iOS is reliable. But new data that has emerged will totally change the picture. A study conducted by Crittercism, a performance monitoring company has revealed that while iOS 7.1 is the most stable version of iOS to date, its Android counterpart is far more stable.

Microsoft’s Manipulation of the Media Demonstrated

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 5:26 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Amplifying the lies

A loudspeaker

“Mind Control: To control mental output you have to control mental input. Take control of the channels by which developers receive information, then they can only think about the things you tell them. Thus, you control mindshare!”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

Summary: Seeding a lie in the press, or confusing readers by means of semantics, still a top skill championed by Microsoft and its PR agencies

MICROSOFT places more emphasis on PR and AstroTurfing than it does on technical work. One former Microsoft marketer created a firm that manages Microsoft-friendly think tanks (Black Duck, his proprietary software firm, is speaking ‘for’ FOSS this month [1]). Microsoft has been very effective when it comes to perception distortion (they call it “perception management”), so we need to counter this.

Just as Microsoft was openwashing Azure and is still openwashing it in the Microsoft media (trying to make it synonymous with openness although it is proprietary with surveillance), the company is now openwashing .NET. We decided to research this and find out how and why the press played along with this charade of PR, so we ended up with a sort of ‘post mortem’ of how it all came about. Simon Phipps, the President of the OSI (and hence an authority when it comes to classifying real Open Source), has already chastised Microsoft numerous times in recent weeks. Not only did he rebut claims that Microsoft DOS and other abandoned Microsoft products were open-sourced (they were not) but he also wrote about Microsoft's serious abuses of privacy in Hotmail, connecting that to the latest deceiving charade from Microsoft. Phipps writes: “it emerged that Microsoft, in pursuit of a copyright misuse mediated by an employee, discovered some of the evidence was to be obtained in someone else’s Hotmail account. Since the terms of use allow the company to read whatever mail it wishes, it went in to the mailbox and took a look. But many people felt “legal” was not equivalent to “ethical,” especially from a company trying to frame a competitor for the same attitude with its “Scroogled” campaign.”

So it’s clear that the OSI (or at least its President) was not particularly impressed by any of Microsoft’s latest PR stunts. Microsoft’s software is not just proprietary software but also spyware by design (in collusion with the NSA). We can assume that .NET inherits those same issues.

Phipps, who used to work at Sun (and hence promoted Java) writes: “Open-sourcing Java gave it a new lease on life. Why, then, did Microsoft insist on keeping .Net closed? My guess is it was a matter of leadership philosophy. Plenty of staff in Microsoft understood the power of open source to harness developer passion. It had to be a senior hand holding them back.”

The more important question is, why did a lot of the press call this move open-sourcing? We did a thorough search, going back in time, attempting to pinpoint where it all started; we have reviewed dozens of reports and sorting the reports chronologically (e.g. [2-12]), it’s easier to see how it’s basically seeded by Microsoft-friendly sites with deceiving headlines. It was more like a PR campaign where gratis gets equated with libre, components and the whole get blurred (there is no clarification to that effect), and platform dependence (Windows only) is not even discussed. As Phipps put it in his personal blog: “The caution relates to the news that Windows for mobile will be free of charge. Whilst unarguably a big move, it’s not open source — the license terms still restrict how you can use the software. This is important, as whilst a “first hit is free” approach to getting people using mobile Windows might bring some results, the key to sustained innovation and therefore sustained increase in the user base comes from removing the need to ask for permission before you can innovate.”

Therein lies another source of confusion. Some exploited the simultaneous announcement of gratis and libre to bamboozle readers — a tactic championed by Microsoft boosters posing as reporters, .NET-oriented news sites (there is not even an illusion of objectivity in Gates-funded papers and sites edited/managed by longtime friends of Microsoft), and dubious people like Brian Fagioli (writing for an historically Microsoft-friendly site), who appears not to know that Android has Linux in it but has started covering FOSS some months ago (and not done so well). This is the same guy who, based on our analysis at the early stages of the controversy, started pushing the “Mozilla CEO is anti-gay” line (we had seen no such coverage before he did that, just positive coverage about Eich becoming the CEO). Later we saw Microsoft-friendly news sites amplifying the same message, discrediting the Mozilla Foundation and also rewriting history of Netscape, not just Mozilla (we omit all the links which relate to this as we don’t wish to feed them). Never mind if those who were most vocal against Eich were themselves notably (if not extremely) anti-gay rights [13]. Microsoft itself is notoriously homophobic (against lesbians and gay males, not just marriages of them) — to the point of being sued by its own staff.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Eighth Annual Future of Open Source Survey Finds OSS Powering New Technologies, Reaching New People, and Creating New Economics
  2. Build 2014: Microsoft makes .NET Compiler Platform Roslyn open source
  3. Microsoft open sources .NET compiler platform “Roslyn” and announces open source .NET Foundation initiative
  4. Microsoft Makes ‘Roslyn’ Compiler Open Source
  5. Microsoft releases Windows Library for JavaScript as open source
  6. C# Compiler Released As Open Source
  7. Windows Library for JavaScript (WinJS) now open source, released under Apache 2.0 license
  8. Microsoft releases new developer tools, makes open source .NET commitment during the second day at Build Conference
  9. Microsoft releases new developer tools, makes open source .NET commitment at Build Conference
  10. Microsoft Build 2014: Microsoft open sources a slew of software with .NET Foundation
  11. Microsoft announces open source compiler platform ‘Roslyn’ and .NET Foundation initiative
  12. Microsoft offers .NET libraries to open source
  13. The Hypocrisy Of Sam Yagan & OkCupid

    OkCupid received a clear benefit, media attention, for trashing Eich. But their co-founder and ultimate CEO has shown strong anti-gay tendencies in the past. That’s hypocrisy, and worse.

Newegg Beats Patent Troll, Sony Becomes DMCA Troll, NSA/PRISM Dropbox Blocks Accounts Based on Suspicion

Posted in Intellectual Monopoly at 4:48 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Buildings around Sony HQ in Tokyo
Buildings around Sony HQ in Tokyo

Summary: New examples of so-called ‘IP’ being used to oppress society, censor society, and perform extensive surveillance on it

THERE IS some real criticism of the so-called “IP” (intellectual monopolies) movement these days, even in some of the corporate press. TechDirt points out that Newegg has just crushed a patent troll [1]. The problem, however, is that the media mostly tackles the issue which is trolls (tackling one patent at a time) rather than cover the real issue, which large corporations don’t want fixed (right now they lobby against patent scope reform at SCOTUS).

It’s not just about patents, either. Copyright monopolies are getting more draconian over time and according to [2,3], the company which attacks Android using patents (Sony) is now attacking Open Source films using bogus DMCA requests. Over the years we have covered many other reasons to avoid anything from Sony. Now there is yet another reason. This abuse is systematic, not an “oops”. Simon Phipps (OSI) said he had tried to upload the original video (“Sintel”) and was blocked, whereupon he appealed and asked others to do the same. British law and British politics mostly overlook these serious abuses [4] which are monopolies on ideas and works. British politicians are generally quite horrible; they serve corporations, not people. Just look how many British politicians lobbied against net neutrality in the European Parliament last week.

“What we have right now is the criminalisation of more and more digital activities which were perfectly legitimate activities before digitisation.”Not too long ago, a business of a German living in New Zealand was shut down using an illegal raid along with abuses of surveillance and police powers (and literal stealing of people’s personal and business data [5]). Dropbox, which was on the leaked PRISM slides as “coming soon” (Microsoft was first in PRISM’s slides/timeline), plays ball with those who are abusing powers [6], using suspicion alone as justification for suspension and/or censorship. This also means that Dropbox is accessing all files that people are uploading. Copyright provides/equips Dropbox with a convenient excuse for doing so, showing again that copyright, surveillance and censorship typically go hand in hand. Dropbox is definitely something to boycott (better now than later).

The world needs to learn how to share. Corporations need to learn how to cooperate. What we have right now is the criminalisation of more and more digital activities which were perfectly legitimate activities before digitisation.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Newegg and friends crush a patent troll

    MacroSolve is a company that got a lot of (generally negative) attention when it turned full-blown “patent troll” in 2011, suing dozens of companies (including small app development shops) over patent No. 7,822,816, which it claims covers using questionnaires on a mobile app.

    Now, a coalition of defendants led by Newegg and Geico Insurance has stopped MacroSolve in its tracks. MacroSolve has dismissed all remaining cases, and it has admitted that it can’t proceed to go forward with a trial that was scheduled to take place this June in East Texas.

  2. Sony issues fraudulent takedown for Blender’s open source movie
  3. Sony Demands Removal of Open-Source Indie Short ‘Sintel’ From YouTube

    Sony Pictures has demanded the removal of the CGI short film Sintel from YouTube due to a claim of copyright infringement. One small problem: they don’t actually own anything in the film.

    Sintel, a film by Colin Levy which has been featured before on Cartoon Brew, was created by the Blender Foundation, the non-profit organization which promotes the free, open source 3D software Blender. The crowdfunded short was made using entirely original materials, and was licensed as Creative Commons Attribution 3.0, which means that anyone can freely share the movie.

  4. Defend your digital rights in the European elections this May

    While Nigel Farage and Nick Clegg kicked around old political footballs like immigration on Wednesday night, there was a glaring omission from the debate: digital rights.

  5. 1,103 Megaupload Servers Gather Dust at Virginia Warehouse

    Millions of users lost access to their personal files when Megaupload was raided, and there’s little chance that they will have them returned in the near future. Despite efforts from both Megaupload and its former hosting company to negotiate a solution, the servers are still gathering dust in a Virginia warehouse.

  6. Dropbox will block if you shared ‘pirated’ files

    A tweet that appeared late last night took everyone by surprise. The tweet talked about a DMCA notice that blocked a file from being shared on a Dropbox user’s account.

Chromebooks News: Chromebooks Gain at Microsoft’s Expense, Chromebooks for $99 Today at Best Buy (When Trading in Windows XP System)

Posted in News Roundup at 4:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Android News: CyanogenMod Rebranding, Source Code Releases, Games, Devices, and Tablets

Posted in News Roundup at 4:11 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

CyanogenMod

Source Code

Ballnux/Samsung

Google

  • Google’s alleged Silver program would showcase the best of Android at carrier stores

    Google could have big plans in store for the way that it and other smartphone makers sell and advertise their best Android phones. According to a series of slides allegedly shown inside of Google and leaked to Android Police, Google is developing a program called Android Silver, which would find carriers dedicating a section of their store to some of the top Android phones, each of which would come with some significant advantages over phones that weren’t offered as part of the Silver program.

  • Android makes changes to Google Play Developer Program policy
  • Google to Launch Improved Android Camera App, Report Says

    Citing “sources aware of Google’s plans,” Engadget said Google is currently testing the new app, which will be pushed to Android users as a separate update, and won’t be part of the forthcoming Android 4.4.3 update.

  • Google gives a sneak peak at Project Ara development

    Project Ara (Phonebloks) and modular pieces of tech in general are gaining steam. So far, we’ve known that we will be able to swap specified parts of our smartphones, which will result in longer lives for our phones and less waste as a result of our tech lusts. Today, Google revealed some of the work that was going on behind the scenes with their ATAP (Advanced Technology and Projects) group. The Ara team members (read ‘nerds’) took the time out to demonstrate the sliding ‘blocks’ of their prototype or very early build of the devices, and they have not deviated a whole lot from the initial drafts, but there were significant bits of information included.

KitKat

  • Android 4.4 KitKat gobbles 5% of all Android devices

    The latest flavor of Android is slowly eating up more Android devices, according to the latest stats from Google.

  • KitKat developer tablet previews 2.7GHz Snapdragon 805

    The Intrinsyc Mobile Development Platform Tablet (“MDP/T”) uses an updated Qualcomm Snapdragon 805 SoC running Android 4.4 (KitKat). According to a TrustedReviews overview of the Snapdragon 800 family, the 805 is set to ship this summer, but Intrinsyc says it’s shipping the MDP/T now for $799. So consider this a sneak preview, or as Intrinsyc calls it “early access” to the Snapdragon 805.

Humble Indie Bundle/Equiso/Games

Embedded/Devices

Tablets

  • ‘Akash tablets’ to hit market soon

    Under the ministry of human resource development, government of India’s one laptop per child (OLPC) project ‘Akash tablet’ will be available in market in 3-4 months at a cost of around Rs 2,500. The tablet which will be the first of its kind to have a dual book and dual board as it will use both Android as well as Linux operating systems will perform the job of both, a tablet and a computer. It will be the cheapest tablet in the world.

  • Tablets A Bulk Commodity
  • Intel: Small Cheap Computers The New Normal

    Small cheap computers naturally fit with GNU/Linux because they are easier to sell without M$’s “tax”.

Windows XP Will Die Today, New Articles Advise Users to Move to GNU/Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 3:59 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

  • What can you do after Windows XP loses support?

    Before installing a Linux system even in a dual boot install, make sure you back up all your files in case something goes wrong! There are many different versions of Linux. I have one computer with a recent version of Ubuntu, which is one of the more popular versions of Linux.

  • The Unexpected Present from Microsoft

    Microsoft will stop supporting Windows XP in a week’s time, on the 8th of April 2014. The number of users who still use Windows XP is astonishing. Let’s be honest – XP was the best and the most stable of all the releases of that Redmond corporation.

  • R.I.P. Windows XP 2001-2014. What can you do now?

    There is an alternative to tossing your computer or paying for expensive upgrades. The solution I’ve been talking about for at least a decade is to make the switch to a GNU/Linux operating system. Now, you’ve got a reason to make that switch and it’s never been easier.

  • Win XP usage down but not out as support cutoff deadline looms

    Windows XP usage on the web is decreasing as the venerable operating system edges ever closer towards its “end of life” from Microsoft support next week.

  • More INQUIRER readers will switch from Windows XP to Linux than to Windows 8

    MORE INQUIRER READERS that have Windows XP will switch to Linux than Windows 8 when support for Windows XP ends next week.

    In The INQUIRER’s recent poll we asked, “Which operating system will you use after Windows XP support ends on 8 April?”

    One third will move to Windows 7, which according to latest Net Applications figures still has nearly half of the PC market.

  • Windows XP Is Almost Dead, Here Are 3 Linux Alternatives

    The support for Windows XP is ending on April 8 and the operating system from Microsoft will be slowly killed and suffocated by viruses and malware. It’s conceivable that some of those users will chose a Linux OS and everybody know that they are hundreds of options.

Links 7/4/2014: Games

Posted in News Roundup at 3:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

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