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07.02.15

Microsoft Gradually Embraces, Extends, Extinguishes Linux Foundation as a Foundation of GNU/Linux

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Novell, Vista 10, Windows at 3:05 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Linux Foundation now helps Windows, too

Linux Foundation

Summary: By liaising with (or hijacking) existing members of the Linux Foundation, as well as by paying the Linux Foundation, Microsoft turns the Linux Foundation into somewhat of a Windows advocacy group

After the public embarrassment at DockerCon 2015 (causing GNU/Linux software to be tilted in Windows' favour) and more Microsoft payments to the Linux Foundation we can’t help wondering if the Linux Foundation is no longer dedicated to the promotion of GNU/Linux, the operating system. Microsoft is increasingly using its presence and pawns in the Linux Foundation in order to advance Windows at the expense of GNU/Linux. Hyper-V was an early example of that. It’s a Window program and it is proprietary. Why would the Linux Foundation bother supporting that? It was the Microsoft-bribed Novell that did this at the time. Microsoft has moles. In fact, the Linux Foundation now employs some former managers from Microsoft. Can it get much worse than that? One of the worst sites on the Web, a site that mostly rips off other Web sites without any attribution whatsoever, went with the misleading headline “Microsoft joins the Linux Foundation” and some other sites which speak about the Linux Foundation’s R Consortium are emphasising Microsoft [1, 2] as if Microsoft is now the official steward of R. For Microsoft, and by extension for Windows, this is clearly an attempt at buying out a language along with developers. As Linux Veda put it: “The creation of this consortium comes on the heels of Microsoft’s acquisition of Revolution Analytics at the end of January this year. Revolution Analytics are the leading commercial provider of software and services for R. It has been suggested by commentators that Microsoft’s competitors had joined this consortium in an attempt to keep R open.”

“Last month we showed how the Linux Foundation actually promoted Vista 10 because of AllSeen.”Here is the press release from the Linux Foundation and some resultant coverage [1, 2, 3]. Mac Asay, who had tried to work for Microsoft, suggested this “embrace” by Microsoft. In his own words:

Given R’s non-corporate nature, I shouldn’t have been surprised by the community’s response to my recent suggestion that Microsoft owned the R code and should consider contributing it to a foundation.

To paraphrase the response: “There already is a foundation — and the foundation, not some corporation, owns the code!!”

I’ll admit that I was taken aback. After all, my primary contention was that re-implementing R to get around its underlying GPL license would sacrifice R’s great community. I hadn’t bothered to take the time to dig into the provenance of the R code, as it wasn’t material to the bulk of my article. Why wasn’t that community grateful for the compliment, and indifferent to my eensie weensie faux pas?

Because the essence of R is important to its community, and that essence can’t be purchased by any corporation.

A reader who linked to the above article told us that Microsoft is “infecting a GNU project” here. It’s easier to see now why Microsoft bought an R company. It’s all about “developers developers developers developers” (Ballmer’s words) and it’s about them using Windows. Why is the Linux Foundation going along with this? Probably the same reason it goes along with horrible UEFI, Intel being a key financeer of the Foundation, even going back to the OSDL days. It’s all about who is paying. The Linux Foundation, and prior to it OSDL, is supposed to exist so that companies cannot snatch Torvalds with a huge salary but instead they will pool together money to pay Torvalds et al. This pooling mechanism is now being exploited or even compromised by Microsoft, which cleverly knows it can bribe or infiltrate the foundation (Nokia, Novell, and so forth) while the Foundation itself is defenseless as it’s not built to decline funds or repel (even ostracise) members. We wrote about this many years ago because Microsoft destroyed some consortia in this way exactly — by paying off to discredit/dilute/distract/alienate collective efforts, e.g. OSA. Zemlin’s Foundation should learn from other foundations which were cleverly destroyed by Microsoft (Android too is 'work in progress').

Watch this new article promoting proprietary Windows and framing it as “contribution” to “open source”, the context being the eerily-named AllSeen Alliance of the Linux Foundation:

Microsoft has contributed open source code called the AllJoyn Device System Bridge to the AllSeen Alliance in order to help connect legacy and purpose-built devices to the Internet of Things.

Last month we showed how the Linux Foundation actually promoted Vista 10 because of AllSeen. This is the same operating system which, according to the news a couple of days ago [1], “will share your Wi-Fi key with your friends’ friends”. Yes, AllSeen indeed.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. UH OH: Windows 10 will share your Wi-Fi key with your friends’ friends

    Those contacts include their Outlook.com (nee Hotmail) contacts, Skype contacts and, with an opt-in, their Facebook friends. There is method in the Microsoft madness – it saves having to shout across the office or house “what’s the Wi-Fi password?” – but ease of use has to be teamed with security. If you wander close to a wireless network, and your friend knows the password, and you both have Wi-Fi Sense, you can now log into that network.

Microsoft India Still Lobbies and Lies About Free Software in Order to Knock Down Policy That Favours Free Software

Posted in Asia, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 2:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Indian CEO, but still bullying India, just like Steve Ballmer

Satya Ballmer
Superimposing Nadella and Ballmer

Summary: Microsoft continues to bully Indian politicians who merely ‘dare’ to prefer software that India can modify, maintain, extend, audit, etc.

Back in May we wrote about Microsoft's lobbying India (both directly and by proxy) because it ended up weakening a Free software policy. Microsoft is single-handedly attacking India’s independence, albeit it is sometimes assisted/accompanied by IBM, Oracle, Cisco, etc. Microsoft is by far most prominent in this line-up because it is even eager to go public in the press, trash-talking Free software in cheeky/sleazy ways (accusing/ridiculing messengers), whereas IBM is more careful not to be seen doing that. All of these companies are hoping to water down India’s Free software-favouring policy to just about nothing, but Microsoft now has the nerve to talk trash [1, 2, 3], including a quote that led to the headline “I am a firm believer of open source, says Microsoft’s Bhaskar Pramanik” (don’t laugh yet!).

This is the most misleading headline (click-bait) we have found, possible chosen by the editor for an interview that has nothing at all to do with “open source” and was already refuted by other sources in India anyway. Here is the key part:

Q. Your comment the government almost mandating open source technologies for projects? Any response from the government to your communications?

A. I am a firm believer of open source. I feel it creates innovation and leads to lots of opportunities for new startups. But it’s not the only solution and to believe that it is the only solution for India is, which the current policy seems to imply, I think is incorrect. My position is very clear – you go anywhere in the world the policy is all about technology neutrality. I think the challenge is to make it mandatory for somebody to used open source. While the government is saying we have not made it mandatory under the optional, they have said very clearly that if you don’t use open source, you have to justify. As far as the government is concerned, in this in this day and age, which government offices is going to say otherwise. There has been no formal response from the government so far.

Basically the quote in the headline is just a preparatory lie. The truth starts after the word “but”. He basically says that “the only solution” is to maintain the status quo of being prisoner of Microsoft (India as a client state, effectively colonised in the digital sense as if it lacks engineering talent). He would have us believe that allowing proprietary lock-in with no qualms would level the competition by continuing to assure Microsoft monopoly and Free software a few scraps (if anything). Microsoft keeps painting itself as the victim here, as if Microsoft has a God-given right to anti-competitively dominate the market and anything which challenges this is inherently anti-competitive.

“Microsoft keeps painting itself as the victim here, as if Microsoft has a God-given right to anti-competitively dominate the market and anything which challenges this is inherently anti-competitive.”Expect Microsoft to continue to bully the government of India, directly and by proxy (as it has already done so). Given how Microsoft was caught blackmailing British politicians only months ago (while Microsoft claims to have changed), expect much of the same to be at least attempted in India. Putting in virtual charge an Indian liar in chief without tact won’t be enough for Microsoft to win back India, perhaps the world’s biggest hub of software developers. Microsoft’s influence in the Indian government is quickly eroding because truly talented developers want code, not binary blobs with BRIC-hostile back doors.

Patent Lawyers and Corporate Media Nervous About New Patents Barrier/Reality (Less Patents on Software and Business Methods)

Posted in America, Patents at 2:00 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The rich and the powerful, as well as their lawyers (whose job is to protect their money and power by means of government-enforced monopoly), carry on whining after the Alice case, in which many abstract patents were essentially ruled — by extension — invalid

IT REALLY oughtn’t be so shocking that patent lawyers and other non-producing profiteers (or large businesses that employ these lawyers) do not like Alice — an historic high-level case that still serves to invalidate many patents on software, irrespective of all sorts of bogus ‘reforms’ like the Innovation Act [1, 2]. The Innovation Act is one among a couple of misleadingly-named brands which claim to be about a so-called patent ‘reform’. Media which covers the Innovation Act still cites patent lawyers, patent maximalists, and lobbyists regarding this so-called patent ‘reform’. Here is one new example that says: “A coalition of universities, inventors, venture capitalists and small businesses continue to oppose House-introduced patent reform legislation, which could be considered by the House floor in the coming weeks.” Another new one is equally shallow. Dean Chambers cites WatchTroll excessively (notorious for promotion of software patents), so these people are still tilting the debate in the media while activists against software patents remain passive, quiet, and generally inactive. Where have they all gone? Where is FFII? Where are the journalists who slam monopolies on software development? Tumbleweed. Antagonism to software patents mostly goes unheard these days, so lawyers exploit this and conquer the minds. It’s rather sad, but it is true.

“Whenever lawyers don’t get their way in a system which they perceive as theirs (to use against actual scientists who produce things) they like to whine about ‘non-conformist’ elements such as judges that ‘dare’ to question some abstract patents over triviality, prior art, lack of merit etc.”The plutocrats’ media, Fortune Magazine in this case, is meanwhile glamourising patents assigned to giants. The article from 4 days ago says: “Considering that Bessant has convinced BofA CEO Brian Moynihan to spend $3 billion for new software development annually—twice what the bank used to spend when she took on her job five years ago and roughly 17% of the bank’s annual information technology budget—it’s in BofA’s interest to safeguard that investment. Behind Bessant are more than 110,000 employees and contractors.”

This is a puff piece that uses the propaganda language of patent lawyers, e.g. treating patents like “assets”, even when these are business methods and software patents. It is gross propaganda against public soberness/sobriety and it is a damn shame that opposition to software patents isn’t there to set these writers straight.

Patent lawyers (i.e. parasites profiting from technology’s destruction) are very concerned about software patents’ demise and one of them, David Bohrer (Patent Trial Practice, Valorem Law Group), uses Patently-O to protest against courts which ‘dare’ to rule/declare patents invalid. He wrote these words yesterday:

While early resolution of patent litigation is laudable, motions directed to the pleadings generally may not consider matters outside what is pled in the complaint. Yet this is what courts are doing — they have been coloring outside the lines when deciding whether a patented software or business method is an ineligible abstraction. They are looking beyond the allegations in the complaint to discern “fundamental economic concepts.” Independent of anything pled in the complaint, they are making historical observations about alleged longstanding commercial practices and deciding whether the claimed invention is analogous to such practices.

Oh, cry us a river, Dave. Whenever lawyers don’t get their way in a system which they perceive as theirs (to use against actual scientists who produce things) they like to whine about ‘non-conformist’ elements such as judges that ‘dare’ to question some abstract patents over triviality, prior art, lack of merit etc. Remember Andrew Y. Schroeder, patent lawyer who wrote to a patent examiner who rejected his application "Are you drunk? No, seriously…are you drinking scotch and whiskey with a side of crack cocaine while you "examine" patent applications?" He was really bullying the examiner for not just acting as a passive rubber-stamping machine (remember that 92% of patent applications in the US end up enshrined as patents, making the examination process farcical).

Rude and aggressive lawyers are the norm perhaps, not the exception (despite the suit and the shallow façade). After getting the EFF sued for insulting a patent (the EFF eventually evaded this lawsuit, thanks in part to public shaming) Daniel Nazer picks on another bogus patent (instead of stupid he now says “bogus” and “terrible”). Here is what it’s about: “Like all of the patents we highlight in our Stupid Patent of the Month series, this month’s winner, U.S. Patent No. 6,795,918, is a terrible patent. But it earns a special place in the Pantheon of stupid patents because it is being wielded in one of most outrageous trolling campaigns we have ever seen.

“Patent No. 6,795,918 (the ’918 patent), issued from an application filed in March 2000, and is titled: “Service level computer security.” It claims a system of “filtering data packets” by “extracting the source, destination, and protocol information,” and “dropping the received data packet if the extracted information indicates a request for access to an unauthorized service.” You may think, wait a minute, that’s just a firewall. By the year 2000, firewalls had been around for a long time. So how on earth did this applicant get a patent? A good question.”

Another “patent dies,” says IP Kat because the ruler in the case “found the claim to be obvious.”

We are hearing about more and more of these patents that go to court and are ultimately ruled/deemed invalid. This devalues patents as a whole, discourages lawsuits, and most importantly reduced the incentive of one to apply for patents on software and other abstract things.

Translation of Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’ Speech Against EPO Management and New Parliamentarian Interventions

Posted in Europe, Patents at 1:20 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: More political fire targeting the EPO’s management, adding up to over 100 parliamentarians by now

DAYS ago we wrote about an intervention by Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’, who had already intervened before regarding EPO abuses. He has since then uploaded his short speech to YouTube and SUEPO has a translation. “Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’,” it said, “a French Member of Parliament, made an intervention at the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe on 25 June 2015.

“Mr Le Borgn’ explained the rollback of fundamental rights at the European Patent Office (EPO) and referred to the Report of the Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights from Mr José María Beneyto, Accountability of international organizations for human rights violations [...] The intervention is available on YouTube. A transcript is available here.”

We have made it available below as HTML in English, for future reference and permanent record.

Intervention by Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’ (PS)

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe at Strasbourg on 25 June 2015

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=69s1vXjEo5M

“Thank you Mr. President. My question relates to the suppression of fundamental rights at the European Patent Office.

International organizations are most often accorded immunity from judicial intervention by virtue of the agreements and conventions which brought them into existence, or by headquarters agreements. This immunity allows them not to be arraigned before the courts of the state or states in which they are established. This is understandable and is good policy in particular with regard to the independence of the organization.

But immunity from judicial intervention does not mean creating a place not subject to the rule of law, or of lesser law and lesser right. Accordingly, a person working for an international organization, and there are tens of thousands of them on our continent, starting here at the Council of Europe, cannot be deprived of the right of being heard before a court, in accordance with Paragraph 1 of Article 6 of the European Convention on Human Rights. Again, but this time by virtue of Article 11 of the Convention, the right to collective action must be guaranteed. This includes the right of a staff union organization representing the employees of the organization likewise to be heard by a court or tribunal, where defence can be provided both individually and collectively. Thus it is that the Court of Appeal at The Hague summoned the European Patent Office on 17 February this year, suspending its immunity, which rarely occurs, is almost unprecedented, and in any case a rare thing, in order to protect the collective rights of some 7000 staff members concerned.

There can in fact be no doubt that policies which are at odds with the fundamental rights consecrated in the European Convention on Human Rights and the European Social Charter are developing under the cover of immunity from court intervention. Restriction on the right of association, reduction of the right to strike, impeding the right of collective negotiation, depriving an organization of any recourse to the courts, and failing to implement a court decision, which unfortunately is the case with regard to the judgment of 17 February, are profoundly unacceptable developments. I would therefore like to take the opportunity of this free debate to set before our Assembly, naturally, but also before the Committee of Ministers on which our 47 Member States are represented, 38 of which are also members of the European Patent Office. Two years ago the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe approved the report by our colleague José Maria Beneyto on the obligations of international organizations to answer for their actions in the event of violations of Human Rights. In the extension of the Beneyto report, this matter of the respecting of social rights, both individual as well as collective, of the staff of international organizations was deemed worthy of being extended, investigated, and, above all, strengthened.

I know the European Patent Office. I esteem all the added value which it provides for the European economy, and I appreciate the excellent work of its staff. But I am also aware of the climate which prevails within it: Management by fear, the impeding of collective action, failure to recognize warning signs, and absence of any independent mechanism of supervision and internal monitoring. I make appeal to the Member States, from whom the European Patent holds its legitimacy, to act, because now is the time to act.”

According to Florian Müller, there is more to it; he has found more questions from politicians. The EPO’s management is under more fire from many more politicians, “17 Members of the European Parliament” by Müller’s count. Here is the one with more names on it. Bear in mind this one is just one of several:

Kostadinka Kuneva (GUE/NGL), Lynn Boylan (GUE/NGL), Martina Anderson (GUE/NGL), Pablo Iglesias (GUE/NGL), Lola Sánchez Caldentey (GUE/NGL), Stelios Kouloglou (GUE/NGL), Paloma López Bermejo (GUE/NGL), Barbara Spinelli (GUE/NGL), Fabio De Masi (GUE/NGL), Tania González Peñas (GUE/NGL), Helmut Scholz (GUE/NGL), Neoklis Sylikiotis (GUE/NGL), Kostas Chrysogonos (GUE/NGL), Matt Carthy (GUE/NGL) and Miloslav Ransdorf (GUE/NGL)

Subject: Violation of labour and trade union rights in the European Patent Organisation (EPO)

The Dutch appeal court recently ruled (case number 200.141.812 / 01 / 17-2-2015) that the European Patent Organisation (EPO) violated workers’ labour rights deriving from the EU Treaties and the EU Charter of Fundamental Rights. Consequently the Dutch court, exceptionally, has not accepted the immunity EPO enjoys as an international organisation, since this immunity cannot allow for human rights violations. Nevertheless EPO declared it would ignore the ruling pleading execution immunity.

There is definitely strong momentum being built. Regarding DDOS attacks against this site, we are going to visit attorneys tomorrow regarding legal action against Amazon (which refuses to say who used its AWS facilities to repeatedly attack this site).

Links 2/7/2015: KDE Plasma 5.3.2, antiX 15

Posted in News Roundup at 12:46 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

Leftovers

  • NHS IT failures mount as GP data system declared unfit for purpose

    The towering scrapheap of NHS IT failures may about to rise further, with the increasingly expensive GP Extraction Service IT system deemed not fit for purpose by the government’s spending watchdog.

    Costs for the GPES IT system, which is supposed to extract data from all GP practices in England, have ballooned from £14m to £40m, with at least £5.5m wasted on write-offs and delay costs, said the National Audit Office.

    The GPES has so far managed to provide data for just one customer – NHS England – who received four years later than originally planned.

    The NAO said the need for the service remains and further public expenditure is required to improve or replace it.

  • Alton Towers apologises for taking up to an hour to evacuate passengers from monorail in searing heat
  • Science

  • Security

    • Security advisories for Wednesday
    • What We Call Security Isn’t Really Security

      Well, it’s probably no shock to you that the security industry can’t agree on a definition of security. Imagine if the horse industry couldn’t agree on what is a horse. Yes, it’s like that.

    • UH OH: Windows 10 will share your Wi-Fi key with your friends’ friends

      Those contacts include their Outlook.com (nee Hotmail) contacts, Skype contacts and, with an opt-in, their Facebook friends. There is method in the Microsoft madness – it saves having to shout across the office or house “what’s the Wi-Fi password?” – but ease of use has to be teamed with security. If you wander close to a wireless network, and your friend knows the password, and you both have Wi-Fi Sense, you can now log into that network.

    • Former L0pht man ‘Mudge’ leaves Google for Washington

      L0pht co-founder and CTO of Veracode Chris Wysopal told Security Ledger software remains among “the last products that has no transparency to what the customer is getting, adding that the “pseudo-monopolies” in the industry can simply refuse to co-operate with third-party testers.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Finance

    • Economic Update: Pope Questions Capitalism

      We have fun with why US govt leaving Waldorf Astoria hotel in New York and we celebrate rising UK movement against austerity. Second half of show interviews veteran reporter Bob Hennelly on the Pope’s statement about ecology, environment, and a failing economic system.

    • Socialism Means Abolishing the Distinction Between Bosses and Employees

      Regulated private capitalism. State capitalism. Socialism. These three systems are entirely different from each other. We need to understand the differences between them to move beyond today’s dysfunctional economies. With confidence waning in whether modern private capitalism can truly be fixed, the debate shifts to a choice between two systemic alternatives that we must learn to keep straight: state capitalism and socialism.

  • Privacy

    • WikiLeaks: New intelligence briefs show US spied on German leader

      On Wednesday, WikiLeaks published two new top-secret National Security Agency briefs that detail American and British espionage conducted against German leaders as they were discussing responses to the Greek economic crisis in 2011.

      The organization also published a redacted list of 69 German government telephone numbers that were targeted for snooping. That list includes Oskar Lafontaine, who served as German finance minister from 1998 to 1999, when the German government was still based in Bonn—suggesting that this kind of spying has been going on for over 15 years at least.

    • VPNs are exposing sensitive user data due to IPv6 leakage vulnerability

      A STUDY has found that 11 out of 14 virtual private network (VPN) providers are exposing personal information through a vulnerability known as IPv6 leakage.

      This is damning for such privacy services, many of which have seen increased use since the Edward Snowden PRISM revelations of 2013.

    • Orfox Is The Guardian Project’s Latest App For Bringing The Tor Browser Experience To Android, First Alpha Release Is Available

      The Guardian Project, the group behind previous efforts to bring Tor and other privacy-preserving software to Android, is working on a Tor-friendly browser built on the desktop equivalent’s codebase. This app, named Orfox, will replace its WebView-based predecessor Orweb.

  • Civil Rights

    • TSA Asks America To LOL At Traveler Who Had $75,000 Taken From Him By Federal Agents

      The TSA runs a fairly entertaining Instagram account, if you’re the sort of person who is impressed by pictures of weapons seized from stupid passengers. That would be the extent of its social media prowess. Its blog is pretty much a 50/50 mix of Yet Another Thing You Can’t Take Onboard and Blogger Bob defending the TSA’s latest gaffe.

      One of the TSA’s official Twitter flacks tried to loft a lighthearted “hey, look at this thing we came across!” tweet. She couldn’t have picked a worse “thing” to highlight, considering the ongoing outrage over civil asset forfeiture.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Europe to end mobile roaming charges by June 2017

      Lawmakers agreed a final proposal to scrap roaming charges and introduce rules based on “net neutrality”. Roaming charges are a part of life when you travel abroad and customers are penalised that just have to use their mobile phone for data. The good news now is that nonsense will come to end in June 2017, there will however be the usual fair use policy.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • UK police seize thousands of Android streamers modded for piracy

        Set-top boxes help deliver streaming services like Netflix and Now TV into our homes, but they’re also giving rise to less-than legal methods of watching films, TV shows and sport. As manufacturers have embraced the open nature of Android, enterprising users have found ways to install apps that facilitate piracy, which has become a business in its own right. This week, a number of police forces conducted raids on sellers of “pirate” Android streamers, confiscating thousands of units in the process.

      • Supreme Court won’t weigh in on Oracle-Google API copyright battle

        The Supreme Court on Monday rejected Google’s appeal of the Google-Oracle API copyright dispute. The high court’s move lets stand an appellate court’s decision that application programming interfaces (APIs) are subject to copyright protections.

      • Supreme Court Won’t Hear Oracle v. Google Case, Leaving APIs Copyrightable And Innovation At Risk

        This is unfortunate, even if it was somewhat expected: the Supreme Court has now rejected Google’s request to hear its appeal over the appeals court decision that overturned a lower court ruling on the copyrightability of APIs. The lower court decision, by Judge William Alsup (who learned to code Java to understand the issues), noted that APIs were not copyrightable, as they were mere methods, which are not subject to copyright.

07.01.15

Links 1/7/2015: OpenDaylight Lithium, OpenMandriva Lx 2014.2

Posted in News Roundup at 2:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 6 things technical leaders should consider around open-source software

    Many organisations have a wide array of open-source applications and code in use today – whether it be at the infrastructure and application layers, or in development frameworks and GitHub repositories.

    However, the applications developer and infrastructure teams come under increasing pressure as organisations rush to develop new services for customers, comply with growing amounts of industry regulation, or simply strive to meet the needs of the information generation.

  • Navigating through an open-source world
  • Open Source to power financial services innovations
  • AWS security looks to avoid cloud reboots with s2n
  • ​Amazon introduces new open-source TLS implementation ‘s2n’
  • Amazon Web Services Delivers Open Source Cryptographic Tool
  • Amazon Releases S2N TLS Crypto Implementation to Open Source
  • Amazon releases open source cryptographic module

    The software, s2n, is a new implementation of Transport Layer Security (TLS), a protocol for encrypting data. TLS is the successor of SSL (Secure Sockets Layer), both of which AWS uses to secure most of its services.

  • Engineers at Etsy play by their own rules

    Etsy, the leading marketplace for handmade goods, has grown by leaps and bounds over the past five years. During that time they’ve iterated on their model, their strategy, and their mission. One thing that’s driven the success of those changes is their open workplace culture.

    I talked to senior engineering manager John Goulah about what it means to fail faster at Etsy, and he shared with me some interesting insights into the communication techniques Etsy uses to empower their associates and improve the experience of buyers and sellers on the site.

  • Altera, Brain4Net and CertusNet Join the OPNFV Project to Accelerate Open Source NFV
  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Databases

    • NoSQL and the next generation of big data

      Ingo is a senior solutions architect at MongoDB. He is active in many open source projects, and is the author of Open Life: The Philosophy of Open Source, a book on open source community ethics and business models.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 4.4.4 Released

      The Document Foundation today announced LibreOffice 4.4.4, the latest update to the 4.4 branch. Today’s release brings 74 bug fixes including several crashes and import/export bugs. The announcement today also brought news of version 5.0 as well as reminders for the LibreOffice Conference in September.

  • BSD

    • PC-BSD 10.2 Gets Ready For Release, 11.0-CURRENT For Testing

      The PC-BSD development team today announced their 10.2 pre-release, which continues to be derived from FreeBSD. Additionally they’ve also announced new 11.0-CURRENT images for those wishing to get a look ahead at FreeBSD/PC-BSD 11.0.

      The PC-BSD 10.2 pre-release / 11.0 current announcement didn’t offer many details about all of the changes in store, but once PC-BSD 10.2 and PC-BSD/FreeBSD 11.0 are officially out, you can expect lengthy write-ups on Phoronix.

      More details via the PCBSD.org blog.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

    • It’s 2015 And Congress Is Now, Finally, Allowed To Use Open Source Technologies

      First, the good news: members of the House of Representatives in the US Congress are now allowed to use open source technology in their offices, rather than the very limited list of proprietary offerings they were given in the past. Second, the bad news: how the hell is it 2015 and this is only becoming an option now? I guess we can’t change the past, and so let’s celebrate the House of Reps finally getting to this point — which just happens to coincide with the upcoming launch of the House Open Source Caucus (led by Reps. Blake Farenthold and Jared Polis).

    • The House opens up to open source

      Traditionally, members of the House of Representatives have been presented with a limited plate of options when choosing technology to run their offices and manage their web presences. Members that wanted to take advantage of open source solutions — which are restriction-free, reusable and frequently more cost-effective — faced significant uncertainty and were pushed towards a small selection of proprietary options.

    • Extremadura schoolboard’s software deal protested

      Advocates of free software are protesting a tender by the school board of the Spanish region of Extremadura requesting proprietary software licences. The advocacy group, Extremadura Focus Initiative, is supported by the new, incoming government of the region and by several of Extremadura’s school teachers.

  • Licensing

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • The Problem With Putting All the World’s Code in GitHub

      The ancient Library of Alexandria may have been the largest collection of human knowledge in its time, and scholars still mourn its destruction. The risk of so devastating a loss diminished somewhat with the advent of the printing press and further still with the rise of the Internet. Yet centralized repositories of specialized information remain, as does the threat of a catastrophic loss.

    • R, Matey: Hoisting the Sails for a Programming Language

      So what is R? The R programming language is a free and open source programming language for statistical computing and provides an interactive environment for data analysis, modeling and visualization. The language is used by statisticians, analysts and data scientists to unlock value from data.

    • A Code Boot Camp for Underprivileged Kids

      A science center in Johannesburg, South Africa, has opened the doors to a five-month course in Linux-based Web apps and entrepreneurial skills. The training is available free of charge to underprivileged students from nearby townships; if it’s successful, it will be rolled out nationwide.

    • MIT develops donor ‘transplants’ for buggy code without access to the source

      A team from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have come up with a way to use ‘donor’ programs to improve the functionality and reduce system errors and flaws in open-source programs.

      Outlined in a paper dubbed “Automatic error elimination by horizontal code transfer across multiple applications,” MIT researchers describe the Code Phage system, which automatically transfers code from donor programs to other applications which have buggy code and errors.

    • PHP for Non-Developers
    • PHP SIG – Autoloader

      The Fedora PHP SIG (Special Interest Group) is back / working.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Op-ed: Safari is the new Internet Explorer

      Last weekend I attended EdgeConf, a conference populated by many of the leading lights in the Web industry. It featured panel talks and breakout sessions with a focus on technologies that are just now starting to emerge in browsers, so there was a lot of lively discussion around Service Worker, Web Components, Shadow DOM, Web Manifests, and more.

      EdgeConf’s hundred-odd attendees were truly the heavy hitters of the Web community. The average Twitter follower count in any given room was probably in the thousands, and all the major browser vendors were represented—Google, Mozilla, Microsoft, Opera. We had lots of fun peppering them with questions about when they might release such-and-such API.

Leftovers

  • Walmart Apologizes for Making ISIS Cake for Man Denied Confederate Flag Design

    A man in Louisiana is asking for an explanation from Walmart after his request for a Confederate flag cake at one of its bakeries was rejected, but a design with the ISIS flag was accepted.

    Chuck Netzhammer said he ordered the image of the Confederate flag on a cake with the words, “Heritage Not Hate,” on Thursday at a Walmart in Slidell, Louisiana. But the bakery denied his request, he said. At some point later, he ordered the image of the ISIS flag that represents the terrorist group.

  • Science

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Everyone Gets Cosmetic Procedures, Says Time–and by ‘Everyone,’ They Mean Almost No One

      Even by the standards of newsweekly hyperbole, this is ridiculous. In the piece, Stein writes that “in the US, doctors performed over 15 million cosmetic procedures in 2014, a 13 percent increase from 2011 and more than twice as many as in 2000.”

      The population of the United States is now 319 million, so 15 million is about 5 percent per capita.

      Even that overstates how big “everyone” is, since most of those procedures are injections like Botox–a muscle relaxant that has to be readministered as often as four times a year. Coupled with the fact that Botox can be used on multiple parts of the body—each of which may be considered a different “procedure”—the “everyone” who “gets work done” turns out to be a tiny fraction of the population.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Kirsty’s Story

      I knew with certainty that the BBC and official line of a lone gunman being responsible for the Tunisian attacks was a lie, because one of the victims of one of the “other” gunmen was my dear niece Kirsty.

  • Transparency Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • Greeks are rushing to Bitcoin

      With bank doors slammed shut, frantic Greeks are turning to online trading platforms to see if the digital money Bitcoin is a better bet than the euro.

    • Confusing Lending and Spending at the New York Times

      In fact, central banks have not spent this money, they have lent this money, mostly by buying government bonds. This matters hugely, because lending is a much more indirect way to boost the economy than spending.

      Lending by central banks is supposed to boost growth by lowering interest rates. This encourages borrowing in the public and private sectors. This helps to explain the growth in debt in recent years: Rather than indicating a troubling situation, this was actually the point of the policy.

      Rather than focus on the amount of debt countries, companies and individuals have incurred, it would be more reasonable to examine their interest burdens. These are mostly quite low.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Feds Awarded Colorado Charter Schools $46 Million because of “Hiring and Firing” Rules

      Between 2010 and 2015, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) awarded Colorado $46 million under the Charter Schools Program. Part of the reason the state landed the competitive grant was that charters are free to hire unlicensed teachers and then fire them at will, documents reviewed by CMD show.

      Designed to create and expand “high-quality” charter schools, the quarter-billion-dollar-a-year program has been repeatedly criticized by the watchdogs at the department’s Office of the Inspector General watchdog for suspected waste and poor financial controls.

    • Jeb Bush dogged by decades of questions about business deals

      In early 1989, seven weeks after his father moved into the White House, Jeb Bush took a trip to Nigeria.

      Nearly 100,000 Nigerians turned out to see him over four days as he accompanied the executives of a Florida company called Moving Water Industries, which had just retained Bush to market the firm’s pumps. Escorted by the U.S. ambassador to Nigeria, Bush met with the nation’s political and religious leaders as part of an MWI effort to land a deal that would be worth $80 million.

    • STUDY: How The Media Is Covering Presidential Candidates’ Climate Science Denial

      43 Percent Of Newspaper Coverage Failed To Note That Candidates’ Climate Statements Conflict With Scientific Consensus. From March 23 — when Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) became the first candidate to announce his presidential bid — to June 22 of this year, newspapers and wire services surveyed by Media Matters published 54 news stories (in print and online) that included a presidential candidate denying either that climate change is occurring or that human activity is largely responsible for it. But the newspapers and wires failed to indicate that the candidate’s position conflicts with the scientific consensus in 23 of those stories, or 43 percent of the coverage.

  • Censorship

    • Banned Books Week Celebrates Young Adult Books in 2015

      Banned Books Week celebrates the freedom to read by encouraging read-outs, displays, and community activities that raise awareness of the ongoing threat of censorship. Last year, tens of thousands of people participated in Banned Books Week online. More than 500 videos were posted in a virtual read-out, and thousands participated in hundreds of events in bookstores, libraries, and schools and universities across the country.

  • Privacy

    • If You Can’t Beat ’Em: France, Up In Arms Over NSA Spying, Passes New Surveillance Law

      Yet also today, the lower house of France’s legislature, the National Assembly, passed a sweeping surveillance law. The law provides a new framework for the country’s intelligence agencies to expand their surveillance activities. Opponents of the law were quick to mock the government for vigorously protesting being surveilled by one of the country’s closest allies while passing a law that gives its own intelligence services vast powers with what its opponents regard as little oversight. But for those who support the new law, the new revelations of NSA spying showed the urgent need to update the tools available to France’s spies.

    • Surveillance Court Rules That N.S.A. Can Resume Bulk Data Collection

      The Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court ruled late Monday that the National Security Agency may temporarily resume its once-secret program that systematically collects records of Americans’ domestic phone calls in bulk.

    • Secret US court allows resumption of bulk phone metadata spying

      A secret US tribunal ruled late Monday that the National Security Agency is free to continue its bulk telephone metadata surveillance program—the same spying that Congress voted to terminate weeks ago.

      Congress disavowed the program NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden exposed when passing the USA Freedom Act, which President Barack Obama signed June 2. The act, however, allowed for the program to be extended for six months to allow “for an orderly transition” to a less-invasive telephone metadata spying program.

    • Cloudflare Reveals Pirate Site Locations in an Instant

      According to an announcement from the site, Rights Alliance lawyer Henrik Pontén recently approached Cloudflare in an effort to uncover Sparvar’s email address and the true location of its servers. The discussions between Rights Alliance and Cloudflare were seen by Sparvar, which set alarm bells ringing.

    • Snoopers’ Charter: Lobby your MP in Parliament

      The Government’s planning to publish a draft of a new law that’s likely to extend the surveillance powers of the police and GCHQ in early autumn.

  • Civil Rights

    • Fox News vs. Fox News Latino: NBC Dumps Trump Edition

      Fox News Latino’s coverage of NBC’s decision to sever ties with Donald Trump differed dramatically from Fox News’ rush to defend the presidential candidate’s incendiary remarks about Mexican immigrants. While Fox hosts praised Trump’s stance and reticence to apologize, Fox News Latino characterized NBC’s move as a victory for Latino media advocacy leaders.

      NBCUniversal announced Monday that it would sever ties with Trump after he characterized Mexican immigrants as criminals and “rapists,” explaining in a statement: “At NBC, respect and dignity for all people are cornerstones of our values. Due to the recent derogatory statements by Donald Trump regarding immigrants, NBCUniversal is ending its business relationship with Mr. Trump.”

    • O’Reilly Gives Donald Trump A Platform To Continue Calling Latin American Immigrants Rapists And Criminals
    • Judge Orders Lying, Cheating Government To Return $167,000 To The Man They Stole It From

      A federal judge has just ordered the government to return $167,000 it took from a man passing through Nevada on his way to visit his girlfriend in California. The officers really wanted that money, too. They used two consecutive stops to jerry-rig some probable cause… even though at that point they thought they were only dealing with $2000. From the original stop forward, the entire situation was deplorable, indisputably showing that everyone involved was more interested in taking (and keeping) a bunch of cash than enforcing laws or pursuing justice.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Cisco to buy cybersecurity firm OpenDNS in $635m deal

      Announced on Tuesday, the tech giant said the move will accelerate the development of the Cisco Cloud Delivered Security Portfolio, and OpenDNS will prove a boost to advanced threat protection services for Cisco clients.

    • EU plans to destroy net neutrality by allowing Internet fast lanes

      A two-tier Internet will be created in Europe as the result of a late-night “compromise” between the European Commission, European Parliament and the EU Council. The so-called “trilogue” meeting to reconcile the different positions of the three main EU institutions saw telecom companies gaining the right to offer “specialised services” on the Internet. These premium services will create a fast lane on the Internet and thus destroy net neutrality, which requires that equivalent traffic is treated in the same way.

    • Net Neutrality: Trialogue betrayed European Parliament’s vote

      After months of negotiations behind closed doors between the Council of the European Union, the European Commission and the European Parliament (trialogue), the very positive text on Net Neutrality adopted by the European Parliament in April 2014 has become more ambiguous and weaker. Net Neutrality deserves more guarantees and La Quadrature du Net is regretting a third-rate agreement.

    • Court sets schedule for net neutrality case

      A federal court has set a schedule for the legal case over the Federal Communications Commission’s controversial net neutrality rules.

      The telecom companies, trade groups and individuals suing the FCC must submit briefs to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia by July 30. Their supporters have until August 6 to submit their own filings.

    • Net Neutrality: Europe Slips Into Reverse

      Following a mammoth negotiating session that ended in the early hours of this morning, the European Union (EU) has released their long awaited rules on Net Neutrality.

      The EU Commissioner’s tweet and an accompanying press release proclaimed the rules as strong protection for net neutrality, but we’re not so sure. In fact, our initial response is one of disappointment. As others have pointed out, the proposals are unclear. At best they will lead to disputes and confusion, and at worst they could see the creation of a two-tier Internet. If enacted, these rules would place European companies and citizens at a disadvantage when compared to countries such as Chile and the USA.

    • The EU Could Kill Net Neutrality With a Loophole

      It seems the European Union has learned little from the hard-won fight in the United States to preserve net neutrality. Today, the European Commission announced an agreement between the European Parliament and EU Council that—on the surface—claims to promise to protect net neutrality, while simultaneously allowing for exceptions that would threaten its very existence.

    • Data roaming charges to be phased out within EU by 2017

      Data roaming charges associated with using your mobile phone while travelling abroad within the 28 member countries of the European Union will be a thing of the past as soon as June 2017. After that, consumers will pay the same price for calls, text messages and internet surfing throughout the EU.

      [...]

      The commission said it would also reserve the right to control traffic if it was in the public interest, for example, to combat child pornography or a terrorist attack.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

Munich Press, Münchner Merkur, Slams the Munich-based EPO

Posted in Europe, Patents at 6:06 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Münchner Merkur

Summary: Pressure on Benoît Battistelli to leave (or be fired) grows as the cronies whom he filled his office with have become a huge public embarrassment to the decades-old European Patent Office

According to the SUEPO Web site, political pressure grows following pressure from the media. Pierre Yves Le Borgn’ takes his action against the EPO‘s management further. “In his blog [in French],” writes SUEPO, “Pierre Yves Le Borgn’ announces his intention to subject the deficient governance of the EPO to a review by the Venice Commission (The European Commission for Democracy through Law) which could make suitable recommendations to find a solution.”

Things are heating up right now and there are more press articles about it [PDF], complete with an opportunity for rebuttal from the EPO’s management. The Münchner Merkur published the following piece on the 26th of June, 2015. Here is the English translation of it:

Münchner Merkur, Nr. 144, Friday 26 June 2015

European Patent Office

“His Domination has got to Stop”

The fight goes into the next round: The staff at the European Patent Office are demanding that Office President Benoît Battistelli be forced to quit. He can’t see how badly he’s performing.

BY THOMAS MAGENHEIM-HÖRMANN

Munich – They’re demonstrating again. For one and a half years, it’s been the same, every month. The regularity of the protests by the staff at the European Patent Office brings back memories of the Leipzig Monday demonstrations in the days of East Germany, and, like them, this is a matter of basic rights. Large sections of the 7000 employees accuse their most senior executive, Office President Benoît Battistelli, of continuing abuse of power and of using East German methods – accusations he strenuously denies.

When it comes to legal matters, the European Patent Office paints a complex picture. The Office is supported by 38 European states, not all of which belong to the EU. This means that the Office is not an EU authority. And as an inter-state organization, it is also not subject to the law of its host country, Germany, even though German citizens count for a quarter of the personnel.

The placards being waived by the several hundred demonstrators in front of the Office headquarters in Munich speak for themselves. Security cameras zoom in on them. “We’re being watched”, is how the first speaker accounts for the demonstration. It needs to be made clear to the management that spying on social partners is not the way to restoring social peace and tranquility, says the Patent Office staff union, SUEPO. That requires some explanation.

For weeks, a publicly accessible computer in the Office has been hacked, and monitored with a camera. The Office itself makes no comment, but several sources, among them the Federal Ministry of Justice, have confirmed this. The aim is said to be to spy on the staff, whom the managers at the Patent Office accuse of defamation. The possibility is that patent attorneys and Administrative Council members may also have got caught in the net of the Office’s internal sweep, prompting Bavaria’s Data Protection Executive Thomas Petri to call for an external data protection officer to be assigned to the Office.

All this is now high on the agenda of the Administrative Council, who are convening at the time of the demonstration. The Council is the controlling body of the Office, made up of representatives from 38 contracting states. The Federal Ministry of Justice is there on behalf of Germany, and they have made it very clear that the issue of internal data protection at the Patent Office is high on the political agenda too.

The snooping is not an isolated incident. Among other things, Battistelli has banned a demonstration and claimed the right to determine the nature and length of labour disputes. A Dutch court has ruled that the Office is in breach of employment legislation as well as basic rights. The President is not bothering to contest the issue. He is in the process of reforming the institution, and all he is doing in the process is carrying out the instructions of the management.

But some of his reforms, and particularly the methods used, are causing unease. According to SUEPO, the Office has engaged the outside investigation company Control Risks to spy on members of the staff representation body. A dozen or so union members are said to be the focus of attention for the outside investigators. The Dutch newspaper “Volkskrant” has just recently disclosed that the Office has also arranged for staff to be scrutinised by a detective agency. This has left its mark on the workforce. Even the personnel who are demonstrating dare not talk to journalists. “There are people from the Office here, and I don’t want to be seen with you”, said one, and turned away. Another simply tapped a button he was wearing: “BB is watching you”. The Office itself is stonewalling. Disciplinary matters are strictly confidential, and that means strictly no comment as to whether and how monitoring is currently being carried out. Insiders have reason to believe that a new guideline regarding video surveillance is in the making.

Staff representatives maintain that Battistelli’s talk of open dialogue with the staff is pure window dressing. Word has it that he is no longer able to control the chaos he has created, let alone restore some kind of order. “His domination has got to stop”, demands one SUEPO speaker on the demonstration, and wins loud applause.

Battistelli has been at the top of the Office since 2010, and has been elected to remain until 2018. Up to now, the Administrative Council has shown no inclination to see him go. SUEPO has announced that it will be calling demonstrations until the Patent Office is “back on track”. Something has gone off the rails.

Staff of the European Patent Office demonstrate regularly in front of the headquarters in Munich

Things are getting worse for Benoît Battistelli, not better. The longer this goes on for, the bigger and broader the scandals become. Battistelli is in a downward spiral; the question is, will he take the EPO down with him or can the EPO repel and expel him and his cronies (whom he added to protect himself)? The latter would of course be preferable. Britain has had similar issues; tackling them is imperative.

The Shameless Campaign to Paint/Portray Free Software as Inherently Insecure, Using Brands, Logos, and Excessive, Selective Press Coverage

Posted in Free/Libre Software, FUD, Security at 5:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Bugs
Image courtesy of Red Hat, demonstrating lack of correlation between severity and logos/brands

Summary: Some more FUD from firms such as Sonatype, which hope to make money by making people scared of Free/libre software

The corporate media is in the business of selling (for corporations), not informing. Advertising is the business model, as well as media ‘partnerships’ (euphemism for PR). Security firms too are in the business of selling, not informing. Misinformation often helps improve sales. We have already ranted quite a lot about media misdirection, designed to sell products or malign the competitors of those who try to sell unnecessary products. We must assume that this is happening because it has always been happening; it’s just that it got a lot more frequent now that Free/libre is more widely used.

The other day IDG published some promotion of Veracode. To quote one paragraph: “The scale of the problem is significant. Cryptographic issues are the second most common type of flaws affecting applications across all industries, according to a report this week by application security firm Veracode.”

This is not an independent security researcher; it is the Black Duck-connected Veracode (Black Duck came from Microsoft and VeraCode’s co-founder recently joined Black Duck), which overlooks security issues with proprietary software. Veracode is not an objective observer; it is trying to sell something. Sonatype too, a nasty company which we wrote about before [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6], rears its ugly head in the media, in an article provocatively titled “Open-Source Code Can Be More Dangerous Than Useful”.

So Sonatype has launched yet another FUD attack on Free software, using myths and rhetoric, capitalising on gullible ‘journalists’ who would print just about anything, along with clueless pasting of bugs with logos (for extra fear), no discussion about severe bugs in proprietary software, and many other issues. This article is relaying marketing from Sonatype and dramatises it even further. “It gets worse,” says the writer, “according to Sonatype: Many of the software companies that have built insecurities right into their products wouldn’t be able to tell which of their applications are affected by a known component flaw because of poor inventory practices.”

Well, proprietary software deliberately adds flaws to act as secret back doors. How about that in the discussion? The article totally omits that. The article then adds some talking points from the FOSS-hostile Symantec, another company which tries to sell its proprietary software based on perceptions of insecurity.

Thankfully, there are a couple of comments there (below the article) that highlight the issues with the article; both are titled “Not only open source…”

As Free/libre software becomes more mainstream we should expect more parasites like Sonatype to look out for fools who are willing to do their marketing, monetising trash-talk.

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