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09.01.15

Calling Proprietary Software, Software Patents, Lock-in (Like OOXML) and DRM ‘Open’

Posted in Deception, DRM, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Office Suites, Open XML at 6:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“DRM is the future.”

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO

“We’ve had DRM in Windows for years. The most common format of music on an iPod is “stolen”.”

Steve Ballmer, Microsoft CEO

“We’ve been very focused on producing a DRM system. [...] We think DRM is important”

Robbie Bach, Microsoft President

“DRM is nearly always the result of a conspiracy of companies to restrict the technology available to the public. Such conspiracy should be a crime, and the executives responsible for it should be sentenced to prison.”

Richard Stallman

Alliance for Open Media

Summary: What Microsoft et al. call ‘Next-Generation Open Media Formats’ are basically neither open nor acceptable (it’s DRM) and what Microsoft apologists dub ‘Open Source Tools’ are just another example of a Microsoft Office openwashing Trojan horse

“Alliance for Open Media” is the latest Orwellian name/title for that which casts DRM collusion as “open”. Typical DRM proponents are part of it (Microsoft included) and so is Mozilla, which joined the DRM cartel about a year ago, causing much anger among many of its strongest supporters. DRM is not “open”. It’s not even compatible with the notion of “open” as this strictly requires proprietary software. Mozilla gave up on “openness” when it entered the DRM conspiracy and now we have the press littered by lots of puff pieces that frame DRM as “open” (however they define open, maybe alluding to patents). These are manufactured false perceptions and spin, calling a DRM conspiracy “Next-Gen Video Format” [1, 2, 3]. Here is the press release. It’s hogwash.

It is sad to see the Open Web falling over like this, after the MPAA essentially bribed the World Wide Web Consortium, which had hired a fool from Novell (we wrote a lot about this in prior years). These people are trying to set up ‘standards’ with patents on them and DRM as part of the (secret) ‘standard’. When it comes to what they define to be “open”, it’s just about patents. When a bunch of companies agree not to sue each other (like OIN, which has just added WSO2, but proved rather fruitless when one member, Oracle, sued another, Google). “In joining OIN, an organization dedicated to defending the Linux ecosystem, WSO2 extends its commitment to fostering innovation through open source software,” says the summary from the new press release. That’s nothing to do with innovation. It’s nothing to do with FOSS, either. Many members are proprietary software companies just agreeing on patents being pooled together. Many of these patents pertain to sofwtare and are therefore inherently incompatible with FOSS. Therein lies the core of the latest spin, misleadingly named “Alliance for Open Media”. It’s not a standard but a collusion. That’s what it is. It is, at best, a patent pool.

In other news, we have just come across some truly bizarre openwashing of Microsoft Office. Sam Dean is once again doing a service to his apparent new hero, Satya Nadella. Under a rather misleading headline Dean describes something which facilitates proprietary software as “Open Source”. But it’s not open source, it’s bait for OOXML and proprietary software. Watch the article starting with nonsensical claims:

Has Microsoft finally, truly warmed up to open source? New CEO Satya Nadella (shown) is definitely pushing that notion. Several media outlets previously reported on his comments on how he “loves Linux” and he has claimed that approximately 30 percent of Microsoft’s Azure cloud is already Linux-based.

Any GNU/Linux instance running under Microsoft’s control is already compromised, with back doors included. It’s basically dependent on proprietary software from a company which notoriously colludes with the NSA.

Talk about distorting the notion of “openness”…

Those who can successfully ‘sell’ the corruptible media OOXML, Office and DRM as “open” can probably also ‘sell’ it genocidal carpet-bombing as “spreading freedom and democracy”, or disabled people as “special people”.

“[Vista DRM] seems a bit like breaking the legs of Olympic athletes and then rating them based on how fast they can hobble on crutches.“

Peter Gutmann

Recycled Old News About Vista 10, Stressing That Not Only ’10′ is Spyware But All of Windows is

Posted in Microsoft, Vista 10, Windows at 5:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The “no place to hide” (therefore, might as well give up!) propaganda

Keep calm
Credit/Source: The Register

Summary: How Microsoft propagandists are spinning Microsoft’s gross and potentially illegal privacy violations as a reason to ‘upgrade’ to Vista 10

WE ARE a little baffled to see a whole bunch of ‘news’ stories about Vista 10-esque surveillance being silently/covertly expanded to Vista 7 and Vista 8 through Windows Update. This is not news. It was noted in Techrights last week and also nearly a month ago. What took the corporate media so long to notice reports of these serious privacy violations which may actually be a violation of Microsoft’s EULA (hence susceptibility to legal action) and also render these operating systems inadequate (or illegal) for some firms to use, without any prior warning from Microsoft? China has banned Vista 8 or later (in government at least), but not Vista 7. Microsoft has essentially changed the behaviour of Vista 7 for more data harvesting, making the transition to GNU/Linux more urgent if not imperative. This could potentially lead to lawsuits, too.

“Windows 10 is a deliciously good operating system…”
      –Microsoft propagandist
Microsoft Peter wrote about this (joining the spin), as did IDG‘s Microsoft apologist (after a lot of Vista 10 promotion). He wrote in an excessively promotional fashion about this. Here is his opening: “Windows 10 is a deliciously good operating system, all things considered, but its abundant user-tracking has prompted many privacy-minded individuals to stay pat with older versions of Windows. Now, Microsoft’s providing those concerned individuals a reason to upgrade.”

What?

So because Microsoft is infringing the privacy of all users now (not just Vista 10) they are urged to upgrade? Where does this spin even come from? Is this like the latest memo to come out from Redmond? It’s gross beyond belief. It’s similar to the previous spin from Microsoft boosters, who insisted that “privacy is dead” anyway (or something along those lines), hence Vista 10 is grand, inevitable, even a trailblazer.

The Microsoft propaganda regarding surveillance was covered here last night, laying much of the blame on Microsoft's Bot (Ed Bott). This is probably (at least partly) coordinated by Microsoft’s villainous PR agencies. They study what the public wants to hear and then make up some lies (or at best spin) to fulfill expectations. That’s their job. There is also a lot of AstroTurfing involved, not to mention the occasional bribery (they got caught).

Andrew Orlowski wrote about this Vista 10-esque antifeature ‘expansion’ to predecessors and he, for a change, was not spinning it like the Microsoft crowd does right now (in fact, he keeps mocking Microsoft for its hypocritical lobbying against Google).

This whole opportunistic spin (as described above) is utterly shameless and editors ought to be checking if the so-called journalists whom they hired are just Microsoft propagandists, serving more like moles for Microsoft, not reporters. Maybe they don’t even mind as long as Microsoft buys advertising space from them (the budget grew around the time of the release of Vista 10). Maybe such ‘writers’ are merely a reward or a bonus to Microsoft. It’s like advertising (sometimes with detailed marketing-like slideshows) in the “content” sections.

Earlier today Jamie Watson asked: “don’t write and ask me what I think about Windows 10. I don’t use it” (but installed on a multi-boot machine).

We are meanwhile seeing the corporate media quoting Microsoft’s claims about number of Vista 10 users as fact, despite Microsoft’s long history of making up numbers, lying, changing definitions to fit some propaganda, etc. A lot of so-called Vista 10 ‘users’ don’t even use it anymore. Some never boot into it. Some tested it as a virtual machine under another system. And so on…

Proprietary (i.e. secret) methods of measuring usage of proprietary software are about as accurate and honest as Microsoft’s characterisations of Free software and GNU/Linux.

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

Steve Ballmer

Wait, Steve, don’t you guys say Vista 10 too is “free”? Like in communism?

Links 1/9/2015: Manjaro Linux 0.8.13, Netrunner 14.2 LTS

Posted in News Roundup at 4:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • The new IT is all about the customer

    Open source code. GitHub and other cloud repositories enable developers to share and consume code for almost any purpose imaginable. This reflects today’s practical, non-ideological open source culture: Why code it yourself if someone else is offering it free under the most liberal license imaginable?

  • Events/Communities

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • OpenStack Was Key To Building Servers.Com

      When XBT Holding S.A. decided to simplify how its subsidiaries provided global hosting, network solutions, and web development they turned to the open source cloud infrastructure platform OpenStack. By consolidating the offerings under a single service provider, Servers.com, customers can more easily browse, mix, compare and choose the most suitable services.

    • ZeroStack Comes Out of Stealth, Focused on Private Clouds

      There is another OpenStack-focused startup on the scene, and you have to appreciate its creative name: ZeroStack. The cloud computing company has come out of stealth mode to introduce a private cloud solution that it claims is easier to configure, consume and manage than any other technology on the market.

    • Apache Ignite, a Big Data Tool, Graduates as a Top-Level Project

      Only a few days ago, Apache, which is the steward for and incubates more than 350 Open Source projects, announced that Apache Lens, an open source Big Data and analytics tool, has graduated from the Apache Incubator to become a Top-Level Project (TLP). Now, the ASF has announced that Apache Ignite is to become a top-level project. It’s an open source effort to build an in-memory data fabric that was driven by GridGain Systems and WANdisco.

    • Funding the Cloud: Top VCs Aim for the Silver Lining
    • How Apache Spark Is Transforming Big Data Processing, Development
  • Databases

    • Accelerating Scientific Analysis with the SciDB Open Source Database System

      Science is swimming in data. And, the already daunting task of managing and analyzing this information will only become more difficult as scientific instruments — especially those capable of delivering more than a petabyte (that’s a quadrillion bytes) of information per day — come online.

      Tackling these extreme data challenges will require a system that is easy enough for any scientist to use, that can effectively harness the power of ever-more-powerful supercomputers, and that is unified and extendable. This is where the Department of Energy’s (DOE) National Energy Research Scientific Computing Center’s (NERSC’s) implementation of SciDB comes in.

  • CMS

    • PiwigoPress release 2.31

      I just pushed a new release of PiwigoPress (main page, WordPress plugin dir) to the WordPress servers. This release incorporates new features for the sidebar widget, and better interoperability with some Piwigo galleries.

  • Education

    • How to teach student sys admins

      Students spend the 16-week long course learning practical skills using real tools. To support their systems, students learn about using support tickets and documentation by using RT and MediaWiki. To deploy and maintain their systems, they learn about configuration management using Puppet, system monitoring using Nagios, and backup and recovery using Bacula. But the broad concepts are more important than the specific software packages I just mentioned. The point is to learn, for example, configuration management, not to be trained to use Puppet. The software used by Clark is used because it works for him, but the software is flexible and changeable.

  • Openwashing (Fake FOSS)

  • Funding

  • BSD

    • OpenBSD Is Getting Its Own Native Hypervisor

      The OpenBSD Foundation has been funding work on a project to provide OpenBSD with its own, native hypervisor.

      The hypervisor’s VMM is so far able to launch a kernel and ask for a root file-system, but beyond that, it’s been laying most of the hypervisor foundation up to this point.

    • Coming Soon to OpenBSD/amd64: A Native Hypervisor

      Earlier today, Mike Larkin (mlarkin@) published a teaser for something he’s been working on for a while.

    • the peculiar libretunnel situation

      The author of stunnel has (once, twice) asserted that stunnel may not be used with LibreSSL, only with OpenSSL. This is perhaps a strange thing for free software to do, and it creates the potential for some very weird consequences.

      First, some background. The OpenSSL license and the GPL are both free software licenses, but they are different flavors of freedom, meaning you can’t mix them. It would be like mixing savory and sweet. Can’t do it. Alright, so maybe technically you can do it, but you’re not supposed to. The flavor, er, freedom police will come get you. One workaround is for the GPL software to say, oh, but maybe wait, here’s an exception. (Does this make the software more or less free?) Here’s a longer explanation with sample exception.

    • FreeBSD on Beagle Bone Black (with X11)

      X11 clients on the Beagle Bone Black .. that’s X11 over the network, with the X Server elsewhere. No display as yet. The FreeBSD wiki notes that there’s no (mini) HDMI driver yet. So I built some X11 programs, xauth(1) and xmessage(1), and installed them on the Bone. Since I bought a blue case for the Bone, and it is the smallest computer in the house (discounting phones .. let’s call it the smallest hackable computer in the house) the kids decided to call it smurf. Here’s a screenshot of poudriere’s text console as it builds packages.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Schiphol Airport working on open innovation

      …open data and an open programming interface…

    • How open film project Cosmos Laundromat made Blender better

      If you’re not familiar with the string of open projects that the Blender Institute has kicked out over the years, you might not be familiar with the term “open movie.” Simply put, not only is Cosmos Laundromat produced using free and open source tools like Blender, GIMP, Krita, and Inkscape, but the film itself, and all of its assets—models, textures, character rigs, animations, all of it—are available under a Creative Commons Attribution (CC-BY) license. Want to see what a production character rig looks like? Or know how that giant color tornado was created? How about actually using a character (or just a prop) in your own project? Maybe you even want to redo the entire film to your own tastes. It’s an open movie! You can!

    • Making strides in container integration, and more OpenStack news
  • Programming

    • The thin line between good and bad automation

      I don’t like automation — I love it. I whisper sweet nothings, come ’round with flowers, and buy milkshakes for automation. I’ve even stood outside the window with a boombox for automation. I will go out of my way to automate tasks that, while they are not terribly tedious, I don’t want to have to remember exactly how to do them somewhere down the road, when months have gone by since the last time I had to relearn them.

Leftovers

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Breaking the Depleted Uranium Ceiling

      It is an astonishing fact that, despite near universal recognition now that the war in Iraq was a disaster, no major British social institution is headed by a single one of the majority of the population wo were opposed to the war.

      Every Cabinet Minister actively supported the war. Of the fifteen Tory MPs who rebelled and voted against the war, not one is a minister. Civil servants officially have no politics but privately their opinions are known. There is not one single Permanent Under Secretary of a UK government department who was known to be against the war and most were enthusiasts. Simon Fraser, PUS at the FCO, was an active Blairite enthusiast for the war. Though no Blairite, the Head of MI6 Alex Younger was also an enthusiast.

    • Missing From Reports of Yemeni Carnage: Washington’s Responsibility

      But that “huge role” often disappears when the the leading papers are discussing the carnage that results from the air attacks that the US is supporting and supplying. Thus when the Times‘ Rick Gladstone (8/22/15) reported that “Saudi-led airstrikes on a residential district in Yemen’s southwestern city of Taiz had killed more than 65 civilians, including 17 people from one family,” according to Doctors Without Borders, and that the death toll in the war included “hundreds of civilians killed in airstrikes,” Washington’s role in facilitating those deaths went unmentioned.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Obama can rename Mount McKinley Denali — but he can’t stop its loss of ice

      This Monday through Wednesday, President Obama will be in Alaska, visiting melting glaciers and remote towns and meeting with other Arctic leaders. On Sunday, the president made a major statement by officially renaming Mt. McKinley — the U.S.’s highest peak — Denali, its traditional native name.

      The trip’s purpose is to highlight climate change — and for Alaska in particular, the change has been dramatic.

  • Finance

    • Blythe Masters Tells Banks the Blockchain Changes Everything

      These Wall Street veterans all know who Blythe Masters is. She’s the wunderkind who made managing director at JPMorgan Chase at age 28, the financial engineer who helped develop the credit-default swap and bring to life a market that peaked at $58 trillion, in notional terms, in 2007. She’s the banker later vilified by pundits, unfairly some say, after those instruments compounded the damage wrought by the subprime mortgage crash in 2008. Now, one year after quitting JPMorgan amid another controversy, Blythe Masters is back. She isn’t pitching a newly minted derivative or trading stratagem to this room. She’s promoting something wilder: It’s called the blockchain, and it’s the digital ledger software code that powers bitcoin.

    • eBay Pledges Loyalty To PayPal — Bans Rivals

      eBay will soon be banning PayPal rivals, ProPay and Skrill, from offering payment services to sellers on its platform.

    • Police force could lose 22,000 jobs under new spending cuts

      Major reduction in funding could see number of police officers in England and Wales fall to 40-year low

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Censorship

    • Muhammad cartoon editor gets Norway prize

      Jyllands-Posten editor Flemming Rose, who was behind the controversial 2005 publication of Prophet Muhammad cartoons, is being honoured by a Norwegian free speech group.

  • Privacy

    • Don’t let Roanoke murderer’s arrest justify a license plate reader rise

      As someone who has been reporting on license plate readers (LPR) for some time now, it actually surprised me when I heard that Roanoke, Virginia, shooter Vester Lee Flanagan had been first located through the use of the scanning device. While the devices have been in use in Virginia for years, their effectiveness and efficiency there—and nationwide—is questionable.

      According to local media accounts, when Virginia State Police Trooper Pamela Neff received the suspect’s plate number over her radio last week, she punched it into her LPR system and got an alert that the car had passed by not three minutes earlier. Within 10 minutes, Neff and other officers converged on Flanagan’s location, finding that he had shot himself, ending the manhunt.

    • Fake EFF site serving espionage malware was likely active for 3+ weeks
  • Civil Rights

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • FCC Introduces Rules Banning WiFi Router Firmware Modification

      For years we have been graced by cheap consumer electronics that are able to be upgraded through unofficial means. Your Nintendo DS is able to run unsigned code, your old XBox was a capable server for its time, your Android smartphone can be made better with CyanogenMod, and your wireless router could be expanded far beyond what it was originally designed to do thanks to the efforts of open source firmware creators. Now, this may change. In a proposed rule from the US Federal Communications Commission, devices with radios may be required to prevent modifications to firmware.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Yandex Demands Takedown of ‘Illegal’ Music Downloader

        Russian search giant Yandex has ordered U.S-based Github to take down a tool that allows downloading of MP3s from its music streaming service. Yandex, which has 60% of the local search market and has deals with Universal, Sony and Warner to offer a Spotify-like platform, says that the music downloader is illegal.

Patents Roundup: IAM’s Claims About India, Lawyers’ Patent Bias, ITC for Microsoft, and PTAB Against Kyle Bass

Posted in Patents at 4:49 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Urbis

Summary: Another weekly summary, focusing on issues that pertain to or affect Free software in particular

THIS post looks at the past week’s news and groups the news by topic.

Software Patents in India

The patent maximalists from IAM wrote at the very beginning of this week that “India is becoming more receptive to software patents”, despite the fact that software patents are not allowed in India. IAM is framing India’s policy as a bad thing: “Two subject areas have long dominated critiques of the Indian patent system by foreign (and especially US) companies and government bodies: pharmaceuticals and software. But, the recent release of new guidelines for the examination of computer related inventions (CRIs) by the Indian Patent office (IPO) provides the latest sign that the country may be headed in a more software-friendly direction. That has the potential to affect not just filing activity in the country, but also efforts to sign up licensees there.”

We have not seen this anywhere else in the media, only in IAM, which is strongly biased on favour of software patents. India is hopefully not falling into the software patents trap at the same time that the US is cracking down on software patents (court rulings post-Alice and consequently new examination guidelines).

ITC Defends Microsoft

“For years, despite lack of fairness, the ITC has helped Apple (US-based company) ban rival imports.”The ‘International’ Trade Commission is not international at all; it’s a US apparatus for US megacorporations, as we have shown before. Now that Microsoft hypocritically complains the ITC defends one patent troll (Microsoft) from another (smaller) patent troll, based on several news reports [1, 2, 3, 4].

This whole episode mostly serves to show how biased the ITC really is. For years, despite lack of fairness, the ITC systematically helped Apple (a US-based company) ban rival imports. This affected only rivals from east Asia. The ITC bureaucracy ought to be challenged. Who does it really serve?

Patent Bias

Watch patent lawyers and propagandists at IP Watchdog pretending everything is great and that even patents on business methods are possible, post-Alice. They’re asking questions like, “Are Patents Getting Their Mojo Back?” Well, the very opposite is true.

Prof. Mark Lemley of Stanford Law School recently came up with an eye-catching headline, “Faith-Based Intellectual Property”. It’s the title of a paper whose abstract bemoans policies that are based on dogma rather than reality. The abstract states: “The traditional justification for intellectual property (IP) rights has been utilitarian. We grant exclusive rights because we think the world will be a better place as a result. But what evidence we have doesn’t fully justify IP rights in their current strong form. Rather than following the evidence and questioning strong IP rights, more and more scholars have begun to retreat from evidence toward what I call faith-based IP, justifying IP as a moral end in itself rather than on the basis of how it affects the world. I argue that these moral claims are ultimately unpersuasive and a step backward in a rational society.”

The term “faith-based IP” (ignoring facts, embracing dogma) resembles the terms often used in the copyright debate, where the wishes and the interests of the very few (moguls and middlemen) outweigh public interests. It’s class war. Controversial new laws are being used to authorise passage of wealth and power to few plutocrats’ hands — plutocrats who also happen to bribe politicians for these laws to be passed.

Meanwhile, a plutocrats’ oppressive tyranny uses a famous casino’s hotel (I was there earlier this year just to look around) in order to harbour more ‘IP’ nonsense, as covered by IP Kat (with its new policy for comments) in a four-part series [1, 2, 3, 4], concluded by this final (belated) part. Watch how lawyers collude or conspire in super-expensive places to just monopolise things; public input has zero impact on their decisions or findings.

PTAB Versus Kyle Bass

Kyle Bass was mentioned before, but rarely regarding the patent pressure he was using to crash companies (we covered this once before, but not in great depth). According to this, “Kyle Bass, the hedge fund manager who filed a number of inter partes review petitions against pharmaceutical companies, has struck terror into the shriveled hearts of the pharmaceutical industry. The first petitions he filed were against Acorda Therapeutics, and its stock dropped on the news.

“The pharmaceutical industry immediately started lobbying to change IPR procedures to make themselves invulnerable. Senator Coons even offered an amendment to the PATENT Act to block IPR petitions from anyone who hasn’t been sued for patent infringement. (The amendment failed.)”

PTAB’s involvement is noteworthy here. There’s more about PTAB in IP Kat and bigger sites for lawyers [via]. To quote the most prominent article: “Kamholz was on the front lines as the America Invents Act (AIA) remade the PTAB and created new proceedings that revolutionized patent litigation. About 60 new administrative judges, many with prestigious resumes in private practice and government service, have joined about 25 veterans of the PTAB’s predecessor, the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, to take on most of the inter partes reviews (IPRs) and covered business method reviews to date.”

Here too we have patents being used by billionaires (or at least millionaires) to rig the market. When will more people out there realise who the patent regime really serves?

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