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01.30.15

Apple- and Microsoft-Friendly Media Continues Attacking Android/Linux

Posted in Apple, Deception, GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft at 6:47 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Je Suis Wintel

Owl speaks

Summary: Some of the latest examples where corporate media (funded and run by large corporations) distorts facts, selectively covers facts, and generally serves to protect the Apple-Microsoft duopolist world view

TECHRIGHTS is troubled to see a lot of anti-Android rhetoric in the press as of late. Putting aside the smearing of Lollipop (we have upgraded to it and it works well), there is a lot of rhetoric that comes from Android foes. Some of the rhetoric relies on Apple results which mostly embody business other than mobile devices (Apple operates in many areas) and other kinds of rhetoric rely on a gross distortion of statistics, along with misleading headlines.

HTC (Taiwan), Sony (Japan), Huawei, ZTE (China), LG, and Samsung (Korea) make Android phones that are popular among the people of the world, including big markets like China, but Apple, the sole US company in this market (Nokia is the sole big player — albeit shrinking — in Europe) only counts on the US market to give the illusion of might. Here is the latest example of the US-only FUD (counting only US sales). “In the U.S. market,” says one parts of the article, but the headline is misleading and does nothing to clarify the scope. There are many headlines just like that and after reading English-speaking media one might be left with the impression that Android is losing even though it’s gaining. It is always gaining; rapidly too.

Apple Insider, a pro-Apple propaganda site, published an article titled “Apple Inc’s thermonuclear assault on Samsung vaporizes Android…” (article later deleted on the face of it, or renamed)

Microsoft, in the mean time, is still trying to hijack Android and make a “Microsoft Android” as they have failed to do (despite trying) using Nokia as the hijacked proxy (Yahoo was also hijacked by Microsoft and Facebook was hijacked by investment). Ahonen, a Nokia guru, has just noted that “Microsoft-Nokia is such an irrelevant spec in the market now as they’ve fallen out of the Top 10 smartphone manufacturers, its not worth its own entry.”

Yes, look how much of a ‘success’ this has been. Nokia used to be hugely dominant in this market. Microsoft reduced it to a laughing stock and borderline patent troll. The News Corp.-owned Wall Street Journal suggests that Microsoft might be trying to use CyanogenMod as the next anti-Android proxy, following rumours of a buyout last year. The partly Microsoft-owned Facebook already tried that and failed. So has Nokia. They could not hijack Android from Google. Thom Holwerda has a good article that explains why CyanogenMod cannot be trusted and the Wall Street Journal says that “Microsoft is investing in a hot startup that’s trying to weaken Google ’s hold over Android.

“People familiar with the matter say Microsoft is putting money into Cyanogen, which is building a version of the Android mobile-operating system outside of Google’s auspices.

“Microsoft would be a minority investor in a roughly $70 million round of equity financing that values Cyanogen in the high hundreds of millions, one of the people said. The person said the financing round could grow with other strategic investors that have expressed interest in Cyanogen because they’re also eager to diminish Google’s control over Android. The identity of the other potential investors couldn’t be learned.”

So Microsoft is still playing a dirty game while reportedly pushing Outlook and Office (i.e. Microsoft lock-in) into the platform, helped by a mindless media propaganda blitz [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13] where OOXML lock-in is disguised as “open” even though it’s purely proprietary and preys on the platform which Microsoft is actively suing using software patents.

Wintel media outlets hardly covered it when Android was getting LibreOffice but enthusiastically market OOXML/Exchange traps for it. Journalists are shamelessly distracting from much more important news like the new LibreOffice release (4.4) and Free software LibreOffice coming to Android while Google is making its game-changing move to embrace ODF. Therein lies the ‘magic’ of Microsoft PR agencies, which basically drive the media and bamboozle the world. Will Hill told us yesterday that:

SVJN’s conversation on G+ is a hoot. Bruce Byfield adds insult to injury by saying,

You know, of course, that some people will never believe Microsoft can change, even if it releases the source code for Windows and MS Office. To them, such actions would be proof of a clever plot.

Simon Phips, shamefully, perpetuates the lie with a backhanded compliment,

The work these parts of their company is doing seem genuine. My objection remains that they are still sociopathic in the legacy parts of their business. When they stop shaking down embedded Linux companies they deserve the name; until then, they are just aspiring to good marketing karma that they don’t deserve.

SVJN is also promoting the latest FUD, Ghost, which is mostly nonsense, and Windows 10.

The thing about Microsoft’s criminal behaviour (such as racketeering), it goes well beyond patent abuse. It also goes well beyond faking “Open Source”. We spent many years coverage examples to show this. Don’t believe for a second that Microsoft has changed. The news about CyanogenMod merely serves to reinforce our suspicion that Microsoft is still attempting an “embrace, extend and extinguish” (destroy/fragment) strategy against Android. Look what Microsoft puppets like Facebook and Nokia tried beforehand (without success) against Android.

Qualys Admits That Its Scare Campaign (So-called ‘GHOST’) Somewhat Baseless

Posted in FUD, Security at 6:14 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Giving names to bugs to make them sound scary

Scare campaign

Summary: Even the company that bombarded the media with its “GHOST” nonsense admits that this bug, which was fixed two years ago, does not pose much of a threat

TWO days ago we wrote about the self-promotional FUD campaign from Qualys, noting that it had been blown out of proportion, as intended all along by Qualys (which even gave it the name “GHOST” and paid for expensive press releases in corporate news). A Red Hat employee reveals that even Qualys itself realised that its pet PR/marketing charade, “GHOST”, is not much of a risk.

He said that “the people at Qualys that worked hard to hype GHOST into a doomsday bug had to admit that most software calling the gethostbyname function couldn’t be forced to exploit the bug. As they say themselves (from “the Qualys Security Advisory team”):

“Here is a list of potential targets that we investigated (they all call gethostbyname, one way or another), but to the best of our knowledge, the buffer overflow cannot be triggered in any of them:

apache, cups, dovecot, gnupg, isc-dhcp, lighttpd, mariadb/mysql, nfs-utils, nginx, nodejs, openldap, openssh, postfix, proftpd, pure-ftpd, rsyslog, samba, sendmail, sysklogd, syslog-ng, tcp_wrappers, vsftpd, xinetd.”

“To put things in perspective see this [discussion],” he added. It’s LWN refuting Dan Goodin, the anti-GNU/Linux ‘security’ rhetoric person from Condé Nast (we took note of his coverage the other day).

“But as always,” added the guy from Red Hat, “the truth isn’t that clickbaiting…

“It was a bug. It has been fixed. But it wasn’t that simple to exploit. Patches are available and as it seems no one got hurt.”

European Unitary Patent and Court System in Trouble

Posted in Europe, Free/Libre Software, Patents at 5:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EU flag

Summary: New resistance to the Unitary Patent amid allegations of misconduct in the European patent authorities

OUR recent coverage of EPO abuses plays a role in derailing the Unitary Patent and 'harminised' court system (bypassing national laws in many nations), which is basically an open door to a lot of software patents and patent trolls. Our sources occasionally remind us that they can feel the impact and see the effect of reporting on the subject. Over at IPCopy we learn about the Unitary Patent’s latest and also take note of Spain’s challenge, which we first covered several years ago, back in 2011 and in 2010. “The Advocate General,” explains IPCopy, “released his opinions on the two Spanish challenges to the unitary patent system in November last year and in December there was much discussion online about the independence of the Boards of Appeal at the EPO.

“Anyone curious about whether the developments at the EPO might be relevant to the Spanish challenges to the unitary patent are encouraged to head over to Dr Ingve Stjerna’s website (link below) and read his latest paper ” Unitary patent and court system – Advocate General’s Statements of Position: Superseded by reality”.”

We are glad to see nations standing up to the EPO, which has corruption at the top. It goes well beyond authorisation of software patenting, which includes FRAND in Europe. OSI President Simon Phipps, writing that “FRAND Is Always Discriminatory”, says that he “participated in a study asking about the fairness, reasonableness and non-discriminatory nature of FRAND licensing in the context of licensing of patents in standards. I was surprised to find people there asserting there was no conflict between FRAND licensing and open source software. Here’s a simple explanation why that’s wrong.”

“Why patent licensing as a precondition of implementation of a standard cannot be non-discriminatory, on any terms,” he wrote in Twitter about his article, which also made it into corporate media.

It sure looks like the insidious side of the EPO, mostly attributed to managers in suits at the top floors (not scientists such as patent examiners), is being exposed for all to see. There is still chance for European democracy to be saved and sovereign laws (intended to preserve some level of justice) to be taken into account, not foolishly (and arrogantly) overridden.

Text of Ruling/Decision Against Željko Topić (Regarding Audi as a Bribe)

Posted in Europe, Fraud, Patents at 5:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Judge Marijan Bertalanič
Judge Marijan Bertalanič, photo from vecernji.hr

Summary: The legal loss of Željko Topić laid bear for the public to see even outside Croatia

THE DAY BEFORE YESTERDAY we learned that Željko Topić had lost his case in his home country, Croatia (where he is facing many criminal charges). Surely he hopes that nobody outside Croatia will find out, let alone have access to the text in a language like French, German, or English. But thanks to our sources we now have precisely that. It’s a ruling from Judge Bertalanič (pictured above).

Here is the relevant (original) document [PDF], which is a summary judgement (in Croatian). As promised a couple of days ago we now have this recent judgment of the Municipal Criminal Court of Zagreb relating to the defamation complaint which Mr. Topić filed against Ms. Vesna Stilin (classic gag attempt in our humble assessment because that would be a classic manoeuvre where one sues the messenger to intimidate and create an illusion of equality).

“The full judgement,” says our source, “including a detailed statement of the grounds is expected to become available in February.

“The summary judgment basically states that the accused (i.e. Ms. Stilin) has been “acquitted of the charges” ["OSLOBADJA SE OPTUZBE" in Croatian]. It then goes on to list the charges under items 1. and 2.

“The charges were based on the contents of two letters sent in 2010 by Ms. Stilin to the then Croatian Prime Minister Jadranka Kosor (with copies to various Ministries).

“The paragraphs in italics are passages from the letters which were alleged to be defamatory.

“Of particular interest is the accusation that Mr. Topić literally “purchased” his second term of office in 2008 by providing an Audi to the Minister at an estimated cost of 500.000 HRK (ca. EUR 66.000).”

Here is the relevant part:

“Topić Željko kupio je svoj drugi mandat ravnatelja DZIV-a, plativši cca 500.000,00 kuna MZOŠ u razdoblju od preko 2 godine (od svibnja 2007., kada je potpisan navedeni Ugovor, do srpnja 2009., kada je Primorac otišao iz Ministarstva), što spominjem, uz ostalo i u Ustavnoj tužbi br.: U-III 5023/08 koja je još u rješavanju, gdje osporavam Topićevo imenovanje za ravnatelja… …..Naime, podnijela sam kandidaturu za ravnateljicu Zavoda nakon što je isti krajem 2007. potajno… ukinuo moj sector …”

“The court found that the assertions which Ms. Stilin made about Mr. Topić were not defamatory,” said our source for this. “The summary judgment concludes by stating that the plaintiff (i.e. Mr. Topić) is to bear all costs.

“It would be interesting to know whether EPO funds are going to be used for this purpose.”

This last remark alludes to the fact that when Topić travels to Croatia to face justice he labels it business trips or something along those lines. The last thing he wants is informed colleagues who know where he is coming from. Sooner or later we might see this man in prison, not just outside the top floors of the EPO. Battistelli has got quite a liability in his hands.

Media Coverage of Demonstration Against Jesper Kongstad of the Administrative Council (EPO)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 5:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

EPO demonstration
Photo credit: “Finans”

Summary: Last week’s EPO demonstration has been covered by Danish media, raising awareness of the “banana republic” state of the EPO

Yesterday we wrote about Jesper Kongstad’s protection of Benoît Battistelli, recalling one of the earliest type of abuses which we covered here last year. The Techrights article about EPO protest in front of the Danish Consulate in Munich has had an effect (widely cited on the Internet).

“In case you are interested,” wrote a source to us, “a good photograph of the protest march to the Danish Consulate in Munich was published by the Danish newspaper “Finans”.

“The article is in Danish and is “subscription-only” but the photo is openly accessible.”

We are still hoping to receive a scan/full Danish text/English version/human translation of the article. It would be good to have it for our record too, so if any of our Danish-speaking readers can help us, that would be beyond helpful.

01.29.15

Links 29/1/2015: Android Shipments in 2014 Exceed 1,000,000,000, LibreOffice 4.4 is Out

Posted in News Roundup at 9:26 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Desktop

    • The 5 best open source email clients for Linux

      Windows users have Outlook; Mac users have Mail. What options are there for Linux users? As it turns out, Linux land is rich with email clients. I have chosen five of the best, fully open source email clients (with two exceptions) for Linux users.

  • Kernel Space

    • As simple As That

      The challenge of the Internet of Everything is that it needs to be just that – an Internet of everything, a global ecosystem of billions of interoperable products, applications and services all speaking the same language, all working together regardless of manufacturer, industry or platform. AllJoyn is the open source software project built by the AllSeen Alliance’s thriving technical community of over 110 companies that is delivering on this challenge, creating simple and open technology that connects everything and enables the Internet of Everything.

  • Applications

  • Distributions

    • Reviews

    • New Releases

      • GParted Live Now Supports Microsoft’s New Filesystem, ReFS

        GParted Live is a small bootable GNU/Linux distribution that has a lot of features and that can be used in operations like creating, reorganizing, and deleting disk partitions on a variety of filesystems. A new stable update has been made available and the operating system is now at version 0.21.0.

      • Papyros Is a Linux OS That Follows Google’s Material Design and It Looks Stunning

        Papyros is a new Linux distribution in the making that will use the Material Design style from Google. There is nothing to test so far, but the progress made by the developers is impressive and it’s very likely that this will become one of the most interesting distros available.

      • BackBox Linux 4.1 released!

        The BackBox Team is pleased to announce the updated release of BackBox Linux, the version 4.1!

        This release includes features such as Linux Kernel 3.13, EFI mode, Anonymous mode, LVM + Disk encryption installer, privacy additions and armhf Debian packages.

    • Red Hat Family

      • CoreOS Releases Building Block For Distributed Systems

        Hyperscale Linux operating system specialist CoreOS said it is releasing its latest open source component for sharing and managing configuration data and other functions used in distributed systems.

        San Francisco-based CoreOS announced its first stable release of etcd, or “etc distributed,” an open-source distributed key value store that provides the backbone of CoreOS clusters and the etcd clients that run on each machine in a cluster. “Our goal with etcd has been to make building and using distributed systems easier,” CoreOS CTO Brandon Philips said Wednesday (January 28) in announcing the release.

      • Fedora

        • DNF Plugins Extend The Functionality Of Fedora’s Yum Successor

          With the upcoming Fedora 22 release due out in May, DNF is positioned to replace Yum as the default package manager.

          While there’s been many DNF articles on Phoronix in past months, one of the aspects not covered much to this point is the dnf-plugins-extra package that’s in its very early stages. Version 0.0.3 of dnf-plugins-extras was released today as a collection of DNF plugins done by the community.

    • Debian Family

      • Derivatives

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • 7 reasons why I prefer elementary OS Freya over Ubuntu 14.10 “Utopic Unicorn”

            When we laid out our featured article on things you need to do after installing Ubuntu 14.10, we shared a few little issues we have had with the latest Ubuntu release. Well things got worse, and I decided to try something else for a change. I’ve been using elementary OS Freya as my daily driver since then. And I have to say, I’m mighty impressed so far. And the fact that Freya is still very much in beta makes the whole affair all the more interesting. A list of reasons why I prefer elementary OS Freya over Ubuntu 14.10 at the moment.

          • Don’t Use Ubuntu, Use Mint – or elementary

            Tech Drive-in today listed seven reasons he prefers elementary OS over Ubuntu. Despite all that, Michael Larabel today reported on the improved performance of Ubuntu 15.04 on newer machines.

          • OpenJDK 7 Vulnerabilities Closed in Ubuntu 14.04 and Ubuntu 14.10

            Canonical published details about a new OpenJDK 7 version has been pushed to the Ubuntu 14.04 LTS and Ubuntu 14.10 repositories. This update fixes a number of problems and various vulnerabilities.

          • Ubuntu Touch Apps Can Now Be Launched In A New Windowed Mode

            A new Ubuntu smartphone OS feature has been created by developer Michael Zanetti, who has created a way to run Ubuntu Touch apps in windows rather than full screen, allowing them to be dragged , shrunk, maximised, or minimised, just like they were desktop applications but on your smartphone.

          • Ubuntu Users See Private, Hybrid Cloud Expansion

            Canonical, the company behind the open source cross-platform operating system Ubuntu, released its annual cloud and server survey this week that seeks to cast more light on the makeup of cloud infrastructure, how it is managed, and what is driving cloud adoption.

          • Ubuntu 15.04 Now Based on Linux Kernel 3.18.4, Devs Are Tracking the 3.19 Branch
          • Flavours and Variants

            • Introducing BodhiBuilder

              If you follow me on GitHub then you likely noticed I have added a few projects in the last few days. One of these projects has been on my TODO list for awhile – cleaning up the old remastersys script I have always used to create the Bodhi Linux ISO images for the last few years. Today I am pleased to announce you can find my fork of remastersys dubbed “BodhiBuider” on GitHub here.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Tough multi-display controller runs Linux on i.MX6

      MEN Micro unveiled the “CC10S,” a Linux-ready i.MX6 based multi-display controller board for touchscreens deployed in harsh, -40 to 85° C environments.

      Imagine a humongous earth-moving rig prepping an oil shale site in North Dakota in the middle of January. You’re going to want a touchscreen with that, and it better be tough. The MEN Micro CC10S single board computer is designed for controlling 7- to 15-inch LCD touchscreens that must deal with the rough, tough stuff on a daily basis.

    • Phones

      • Android

        • Airdroid – Transfer files between Android Phones/Tablets and Linux (Any Distribution)

          We often need to transfer large amount data in the form of mp3 Songs, Video Songs, Movies and most importantly, large Games between android phones/tablets and Linux machine. Transferring via USB cable takes time, so let’s do it with ‘Airdroid’ easily and quickly.

        • Android shipments in 2014 exceed 1 billion for first time

          For the first time ever, worldwide shipments of smartphones packing Android exceeded 1 billion units in 2014, a significant gain from the 780.8 million units that shipped around the world in 2013, researcher Strategy Analytics announced Thursday. Android dwarfed its second-place competitor, Apple’s iOS, which mustered 192.7 million worldwide shipments in 2014.

        • 1B Android phones shipped in 2014, but they don’t all help Google

          When Android first arrived in 2007, it was (and still is) a key part of the OHA, or Open-Handset Alliance. OHA partners — which include Samsung, LG, Dell, HTC, Huawei and ZTE, to name a few — all loosely work together to help improve Android, while competing against one another by using Android on their respective hardware products. Android is the commonality between all of the OHA partners. And then there’s Google.

        • Android beats iOS for app downloads, but revenues are still a different story

          There are plenty of caveats to this line of reasoning, though. First, Google Play is not the only Android app store – Amazon and Samsung run their own stores, while in countries like China there are dozens of stores offering Android apps.

        • HTC One M8 Android 5.0 Lollipop Update: What U.S. Owners Can Expect

          When Google announced Android 5.0 Lollipop back in October many smartphone owners like those with the HTC One or HTC One M8 instantly started waiting for details regarding the Android 5.0 Lollipop update. It has arrived for a few devices already, including the HTC One and HTC One M8 Google Play Edition handsets, but below we’ll go over what regular HTC One owners need to know about the Android 5.0 update.

        • Samsung Galaxy S4 Updated To The Android Lollipop 5.0 OS

          The Android Lollipop 5.0 update is finally available for the Samsung S4. The operating system is also available for the Samsung Galaxy S5, Note 4, Note 3, and Note Edge. Samsung Galaxy and Note users will be happy to hear that the long waited update is coming in the near future. But should Galaxy S4 users take advantage of the Android Lollipop update?

        • Don’t wait for Android 5.0, this app makes your phone look like Lollipop for free

          Android 5.0 Lollipop is a huge upgrade for Google’s mobile operating system. The only problem with it, of course, is that it’s only available for a handful of devices. Most Android smartphone users still have plenty more waiting to do before Lollipop is finally available for their handset, but now there’s a terrific app that will make your older version of Android look just like Lollipop — and it’s free!

        • Is this Apple’s secret weapon that could force Android users to buy an iPhone?

          There are many reasons why Android users switch to iPhone, and vice-versa, but Apple may have a secret (or not-so-secret) weapon that could pressure some Android fans to considering a move to the other side. No, it’s not Apple Pay, an exclusive iPhone 6 feature that’s heavily marketed by various banks in the U.S., further helping Apple market its 2014 iPhones. It’s actually a stock iOS app that has been hiding in plain sight for years.

        • Android 5.0.2 Lollipop Problems Frustrating Nexus Users

          Google rolled out its Android 5.0.2 Lollipop update to fix Nexus Lollipop problems. And while it did fix some of the bigger issues, Android 5.0.2 Lollipop problems continue to frustrate Nexus users.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Web Browsers

    • From Opera to… Vivaldi!

      Yes, the name is familiar. Vivaldi was that KDE tablet that never saw the light of day, but now Vivaldi is the name of a beautiful browser that runs on Linux.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Hortonworks Spreads its Open Source Wings to Bring Governance to Hadoop

      We all know Hortonworks is committed to open source, insisting that it’s the way to innovate on Hadoop and deliver the best enterprise-grade technology to the marketplace. And though its main competitor, Cloudera (or at least a member of its management team) may have taunted that Hortonworks’ business model is “undependable,” Wall Street certainly didn’t agree — its shares soared 65 percent above the opening price on Dec. 12, 2014, its first day of trading as a public company.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 4.4 Released as the Most Beautiful LibreOffice Ever

      The Document Foundation has just announced that a new major update has been released for LibreOffice and it brings important UI improvements, enough for them to call this the most beautiful version ever.

    • The best open-source office suite, LibreOffice 4.4, gets new release

      Who says you can’t have fast, good and cheap? The Document Foundation’s latest release of the most popular open-source office suite, LibreOffice 4.4 is quite fast on Linux, Mac OS X, and Windows; it works well on all three desktop operating systems, and it won’t cost you a penny.

    • LibreOffice 4.4 Released With Major UI Revamp

      A new version of open-source office suite LibreOffice is now available for download and the hands behind it are calling it ‘the most beautiful’ release ever.

      Jan Holesovsky, leader of the LibreOffice design team, says “LibreOffice 4.4 has got a lot of UX and design love, and in my opinion is the most beautiful ever.”

      The productivity suite, which was spun out of the slow moving OpenOffice project back in 2010, has certainly upped its game in the design department over the past few years, with each release of the 4.x series adding finesse.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GNU Guix 0.8.1 released

      We are pleased to announce the next alpha release of GNU Guix, version 0.8.1.

      The release comes both with a source tarball, which allows you to install it on top of a running GNU/Linux system, and a USB installation image to install the standalone Guix System Distribution.

    • Libreboot X200 laptop now FSF-certified to respect your freedom

      This is the second Libreboot laptop from Gluglug (a project of Minifree, Ltd.) to achieve RYF certification, the first being the Libreboot X60 in December 2013. The Libreboot X200 offers many improvements over the Libreboot X60, including a faster CPU, faster graphics, 64-bit GNU/Linux support (on all models), support for more RAM, higher screen resolution, and more. The Libreboot X200 can be purchased from Gluglug at http://shop.gluglug.org.uk/product/libreboot-x200/.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Open Hardware

      • Your Open Source 3D Printed Designs Could Save the 3D Printing Community Millions

        In an article published in Modern Economy by Dr. Joshua Pearce, of Michigan Technological University, titled “Quantifying the Value of Open Source Hardware Development” one of the challenges of Open Source Hardware has been addressed: Creating a real world value for community developed creations. Three methods for quantifying the value of free and open source hardware designs were used, including “1) downloaded substitution valuation; 2) avoided reproduction valuation and 3) market savings valuation along with additional benefits related to market expansion, scientific innovation acceleration, educational enhancement and medical care improvement.”

  • Programming

    • LLVM Adds Options To Do Fuzz Testing

      LLVM/Clang developers have begun work on adding fuzz testing capabilities, the providing semi-random test data in an automated manner to test functions for potentially unchecked scenarios using malformed data, etc. Fuzzing helps developers avoid potential crashes, security issues, and uncovering other possible pitfalls.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • YouTube flushes Flash for future flicks

      Adobe would need to have buried its head under many metres of sand, and strapped many layers of black tape about its head, not to see this coming. So there can’t be too much gnashing of teeth and wailing down San Jose way, not least because the masses who use YouTube probably don’t care how their video is delivered*.

    • YouTube ditches Adobe Flash for HTML5 on most browsers

      GOOGLE’S YOUTUBE video portal has made the switch to HTML5 as a default renderer, marking yet another milestone in the downfall of the Adobe Flash format.

      Historically, Adobe Flash has been the renderer of choice despite its buggy limitations because it offered a number of tangible benefits over early HTML5 implementations.

    • 10 capabilities we want to see in HTML6

      The buzzword “HTML5” came and went a few years ago, but the standard itself wasn’t made final until the end of 2014. In the five-plus years it took the “second coming of this Web stuff” to be fully realized and ratified, we got deep into the changes, examined how early adopters pushed HTML5 to its limits, and surfaced more than a few hard truths about the limitations of the spec.

Leftovers

  • Looks like those IBM layoffs have started

    Reports of big layoffs to come this week at IBM were correct, at least with regard to timing. Starting Wednesday, the message board at Alliance@IBM, a site manned by former IBM employees, was full of posts from people saying (anonymously) that they had been laid off. More accurately, most said they had been “RA’d,” which is IBM parlance for Resource Action, but which means — you got it — laid off.

  • Health/Nutrition

    • Have we reached ‘peak food’? Shortages loom as global production rates slow

      The world has entered an era of “peak food” production with an array of staples from corn and rice to wheat and chicken slowing in growth – with potentially disastrous consequences for feeding the planet.

    • NHS – Calling for a minor change in Policy..

      There are arguments made all the time as to why privatisation is beneficial. The more cynical, and those led entirely by a fundamental belief in free market solutions for everything, simply see the potential economic gains as being too great to pass up. After all, in the US, health care spending makes up a significant portion of GDP, one that has been rising providing profit and opportunity for companies and investors. The impact on patients? Well, that’s collateral damage – you should be working harder, or better insured.

  • Security

    • Security updates for Thursday
    • The FTC Calls for Lockdown Security on the Internet of Things

      The Internet of Things (IoT) was big news at January’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, and many large tech companies had related announcements. Apple wan’t demonstrating, but partners had the first set of devices that are HomeKit certified, which is Apple’s protocol for allowing smart home devices to work with the iOS platform. And, Google announced 15 new partners in “Work With Nest,” its developer program for adding third-party devices to Nest devices and networks. Meanwhile, The Linux Foundation oversees one of the biggest Internet of Things initiatives: The AllSeen Aliance, which is rapidly gaining members.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • US Drone Strike in Yemen Killed 12-Year-Old Student

      Officials Had Previously Identified Him as ‘Al-Qaeda Militant’

    • CIA operations to aid Syrian rebels go bad

      CIA operations to aid moderate fighters battling Syria’s Bashar Al Assad regime has gone badly as rebel forces keep shifting loyalties, says a Wall Street Journal reports.

    • Covert CIA Mission to Arm Syrian Rebels Goes Awry

      It didn’t take long for rebel commanders in Syria who lined up to join a Central Intelligence Agency weapons and training program to start scratching their heads.

    • Exclusive: Obama Cuts Off Syrian Rebels’ Cash

      In the past several months, many of the Syrian rebel groups previously favored by the CIA have had their money and supplies cut off or substantially reduced, even as President Obama touted the strategic importance of American support for the rebels in his State of the Union address.

      The once-favored fighters are operating under a pall of confusion. In some cases, they were not even informed that money would stop flowing. In others, aid was reduced due to poor battlefield performance, compounding already miserable morale on the ground.

    • Should The U.S. Military Be Educators?

      Military academies have always been funded by taxpayer dollars & revered for their traditional and all-American ways. But one Naval Academy professor says the money is wasted and the standards for entrance are low. Is the end of West Point in sight?

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Open Letter in Defence of WikiLeaks Journalists

      We, the undersigned journalists and human rights defenders cannot remain silent while our colleagues and profession are under attack.

      We deplore the actions taken the US Government against WikiLeaks journalists Sarah Harrison, Joseph Farrell and Kristin Hfaffnsson. We believe they represent political persecution of journalists and journalism.

      Free societies everywhere are best served by journalism and publishing that holds governments and corporations to account and guarantees citizens’ right to know. Such work is not espionage or terrorism; it is journalism.

  • Finance

    • Germans Are in Shock As New Greek Leader Starts With A Bang

      One senior German official described Tsipras as part of a brash new generation of European leaders, including Italy’s Renzi, who weren’t afraid to stand up to Merkel and challenge the assumptions that have shaped policy in the eurozone and Ukraine crises in recent years. – See more at: http://portside.org/2015-01-29/germans-are-shock-new-greek-leader-starts-bang#sthash.U8rGKwEr.dpuf

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • The Tsarnaev trial and the rest of us
    • Seth Rogen and Michael Moore banned from steakhouse over American Sniper
    • Here’s what moviegoers in Baghdad think of ‘American Sniper’

      The film, set during the US-led occupation of Iraq and released on Christmas Day, hit nerves in the United States immediately. Some critics and commentators lauded it as patriotic and unflinching; others dismissed it as reductionist and racist.

      Many people also objected to the film’s portrayal of Kyle — a man who described Iraqis as “savages” in his memoir — as a hero.

    • 7 heinous lies “American Sniper” is telling America

      One way to get audiences to unambiguously support Kyle’s actions in the film is to believe he’s there to avenge the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The movie cuts from Kyle watching footage of the attacks to him serving in Iraq, implying there is some link between the two.

    • Killing Ragheads for Jesus

      “American Sniper” lionizes the most despicable aspects of U.S. society—the gun culture, the blind adoration of the military, the belief that we have an innate right as a “Christian” nation to exterminate the “lesser breeds” of the earth, a grotesque hypermasculinity that banishes compassion and pity, a denial of inconvenient facts and historical truth, and a belittling of critical thinking and artistic expression. Many Americans, especially white Americans trapped in a stagnant economy and a dysfunctional political system, yearn for the supposed moral renewal and rigid, militarized control the movie venerates. These passions, if realized, will extinguish what is left of our now-anemic open society.

    • S.F. public defender detained outside court; office outraged

      A San Francisco deputy public defender was handcuffed and arrested at the Hall of Justice after she objected to city police officers questioning her client outside a courtroom, an incident that her office called outrageous and police officials defended as appropriate.

      The Tuesday afternoon arrest of attorney Jami Tillotson as she denied police officers’ attempts to take photos of her client without explanation raised questions about police intimidation and harassment, Public Defender Jeff Adachi said at a Wednesday news conference.

      But police said the five officers, led by a plainclothes sergeant, were investigating a burglary case in which Tillotson’s client and his co-defendant were considered persons of interest. Tillotson was cited for misdemeanor resisting or delaying arrest because she obstructed a police investigation, officials said.

    • Sterling Conviction a Victory for Government’s Right to Hide
    • This is how a police state protects “secrets”: Jeffrey Sterling, the CIA and up to 80 years on circumstantial evidence

      The participants in the economy of shared tips and intelligence in Washington D.C., breathed a collective sigh of relief when, on January 12, the government announced it would not force James Risen to testify in the trial of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling. “Press freedom was safe! Our trade in leaks is safe!” observers seemed to conclude, and they returned to their squalid celebration of an oppressive Saudi monarch.

      That celebration about information sharing is likely premature. Because, along the way to the conviction of Sterling this week on all nine counts – including seven counts under the Espionage Act — something far more banal yet every bit as dear to D.C.’s economy of secrets may have been criminalized: unclassified tips.

    • Eric Holder plugs his legacy on leak cases

      A federal jury’s decision Monday to convict a former CIA officer for leaking top-secret information to a New York Times reporter was a big win for prosecutors — and for Attorney General Eric Holder’s new approach to handling sensitive cases involving journalists.

      [...]

      The attorney general’s action was consistent with a series of moves over the past year and a half in which he sought to demonstrate greater sensitivity to the concerns of journalists. The recalibration was prodded not by Risen’s predicament or a sudden bout of introspection, but by a political firestorm that broke out in 2013 over prosecutors’ aggressive investigations of leaks to the Associated Press and Fox News.

      [...]

      Holder’s decision to drop demands for Risen’s testimony about his sources could help dampen concern about the treatment of journalists, but it won’t extinguish complaints that the unprecedented flurry of nine leak-related prosecutions during the Obama administration has chilled whistleblowers from taking their concerns to the media. In fact, Sterling’s conviction on every count sent to the jury — and the prospect of a lengthy prison term for the ex-CIA officer — might embolden prosecutors intent on stamping out leaks.

    • VIDEO: CIA Whistle Blower Found Guilty Proves That Using “Proper Channels” Doesn’t Work

      Monday’s guilty verdict for former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling is another example of whistleblowers attempting to go through proper channels to expose wrongdoing, and then being “flagged as troublemakers” and facing severe retaliation from the government, according to transparency advocate Norman Solomon.

    • CIA Officer’s Conviction to Discourage More Intelligence Leaks

      The conviction of CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling for leaking classified information about a covert plan to derail Iran’s nuclear program to a journalist, sends a message that intelligence leaks will not go unpunished while reducing the risk of encouraging more leaks, former CIA official Paul Pillar told Sputnik on Tuesday.

    • CIA whistleblower Jeffrey Sterling found guilty on all counts

      Sterling was charged under the Espionage Act for disclosing classified information about a mission meant to slow Iran’s nuclear program to New York Times reporter James Risen, who then wrote about the CIA’s Iranian plot in his 2006 book, “State of War.” The plan’s goal was to learn more about the country’s controversial nuclear program and impair its progress, and the schematics were reportedly funneled to the Iranians via a Russian scientist with the codename “Merlin.”

    • The mass media have suddenly discovered Jeffrey Sterling

      The mass media have suddenly discovered Jeffrey Sterling — after his conviction Monday afternoon as a CIA whistleblower.

    • ACLU asks judge to block attempt to repossess copies of CIA torture report

      The American Civil Liberties Union is turning to federal court to stop the chairman of the Senate intelligence committee from repossessing the secret copies of a landmark inquiry into CIA torture.

    • ACLU: Don’t Let Senate Block Full CIA ‘Torture Report’ Release

      The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) filed a motion in federal court on Tuesday night in an effort to block the chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee from retrieving all the copies of the committee’s full, unredacted report on the CIA’s “enhanced interrogation program.”

    • Meet the CIA’s secret protector: Why Sen. Richard Burr is its favorite “overseer”

      One of the newest pieces of conventional wisdom among the political commentariat is the idea that under the influence of the Tea Party and the libertarians, the Republicans are no longer the national security hawks they once were. They are going back to their old isolationist ways, the thinking goes, because Rand Paul is running for president and he doesn’t support military adventurism overseas (except when he does) and the right wing of the GOP is uninterested in national security.

    • Editor of major newspaper says he planted stories for CIA

      Becoming the first credentialed, well-known media insider to step forward and state publicly that he was secretly a “propagandist,” an editor of a major German daily has said that he personally planted stories for the CIA.

    • CIA: A spy agency gone rogue?

      American author and journalist Charles Glass joined Shainin with anecdotal references where he first talked about the origins of the CIA and the failures from its very conception. He said that from its very formation in 1947, the agency had agents in the field “torturing people or bribing foreign officials”. He talked about CIA’s role in overthrowing an elected parliamentary government in Syria in 1949, on behalf of an Arabian oil company “to have a dictator who would then allow an oil line to go through Syria.” The country never really had a democracy again, the effects of which can be seen today.

    • US Incarceration System Facilitates Breakdown of Society

      What we’re doing isn’t working, justice-wise, order-wise, sanity-wise. The state of Illinois is bankrupt and yet its jails are full to bursting, at a cost, per occupant, equal to or greater than the cost of luxury suites at its ritziest hotels. And 90 percent of the teenagers who enter the system come back within three years of their release. This is no surprise: The system is a spiral of entrapment, especially for young men of color.

    • US Spy Agency CIA Heading For A Shake Up: Top Spy To Step Down

      The Central Intelligence Agency–the spy agency of United States of America, is reportedly heading for a shake up. In the run up to that, the chief of secret intelligence operations will shortly step down. The office of the secret intelligence wing has announced that “the director soon plans to retire after a long and distinguished career at CIA.”

    • Spy panel shakeup will add focus on cyber, CIA

      The House Intelligence Committee is shaking up its structure to put a new focus on cybersecurity and the CIA, among other areas.

    • LoBiondo named chairman of House CIA subcommittee
    • LoBiondo named chairman of the House Subcommittee on Central Intelligence Agency

      LoBiondo takes the chairmanship at a time when the CIA has come under scrutiny. A report released in December by the Senate Intelligence Committee found the agency’s interrogation techniques to be more brutal and used more extensively than the agency had portrayed.

    • Former CIA spies come in from the cold as Hollywood players

      The place in Brooklyn looks like a CIA safehouse. Red brick office building with peeling metal awning. No sign. Inside, writers are plotting out popular cold war espionage show The Americans – one of an assortment of Hollywood spy or national security dramas being driven by ex-spies.

      The show’s creator and co-head writer Joe Weisberg is a former CIA officer who never fathomed he would one day sit in an office with Soviet propaganda posters and a cut-out figure of President Ronald Reagan, concocting television fiction.

    • Feinstein Slams CIA Report as Error-Riddled

      In the waning months of her tenure as head of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence, California Democrat Dianne Feinstein transformed into a tireless critic of the CIA’s torture program and the measures the agency is accused of taking to avoid scrutiny.

    • Feinstein Disputes CIA Report on Spying on Senate

      Her office provided a list of 15 items where Feinstein takes issue with the Accountability Board review. Some of them relate to an apparent dispute over the scope of the investigation. Among them, Feinstein says the claim that the CIA and investigators did not have a “common understanding” about access is simply false.

      “This is a serious matter and has been acknowledged by the CIA inspector general and the CIA Accountability Board. Regardless of the extent of the violation or intent of those involved, someone should be held accountable,” Feinstein said.

    • Feinstein offers 15 point rebuttal to report on CIA
    • Egypt’s War on Atheism
  • Internet/Net Neutrality

  • DRM

    • Drone maker DJI will disable its units over Washington, DC, after White House crash

      Following the crash of one of its Phantom drones at the White House on Monday and a response from President Obama that more regulation of drones was needed, Chinese drone maker DJI will reportedly be disabling its units from flying over the DC area. According to the FAA, it was already against federal regulations to fly in that region, not to mention the fact that the pilot told the Secret Service he was drinking.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Canadian Government Spies on Millions of File-Sharers

        New revelations from whistleblower Edward Snowden have revealed that Canada’s main electronic surveillance agency spied on millions of file-sharing downloads from some of the world’s most popular sites. More than 100 sites including Dotcom’s Megaupload were routinely monitored in a search for extremists.

Corporate Media, Led Astray by Patent Lawyers, Continues to Distort the Reality of Software Patents Post-Alice

Posted in America, Patents at 5:36 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Alice

Summary: The press of the rich and the powerful continues its attempt to preserve software patents, despite the US Supreme Court’s decision to abolish a lot of them on the basis of abstraction

LAST WEEK we wrote about corporate media lionising IBM for a hoard of patents. IBM is now preparing to lay off over 100,000 workers, demonstrating that its patent strategy does very little for staff; it’s about protectionism and potentially bullying of rivals (something that IBM isn’t foreign to). Forbes relays Cringely’s remarks that over 100,000 people are to be laid off (Cringely warned about this in his blog and foresaw it for years, based on unnamed sources), but watch this new propaganda piece from the plutocrats’ media, USA Today (owned and run by very rich people). It conflates patents with innovation. It is rather telling as it shows gross distortion of the truth. We have become accustomed to this. Whether the authors are willingly or unwillingly dumb (i.e. pushing agenda and misleading readers) is the only unknown. It is well known that patents are not a measure of innovation but mostly a function of paperwork.

Techrights has spent over 8 years and wrote thousands of posts debunking patent myths, but nonetheless, the myths live on and propagate. Earlier this week we saw the ‘patent industry’ shoving press releases into various sites to rewrite Alice history (watch as others are shamelessly exploiting a dead black man for patent PR) and we continue to see lawyers’ Web sites teaching patent lawyers tricks for bypassing patent law, essentially ignoring even Court rulings (from the highest court) to continue doing whatever it wants, all in the name of profit. It is not a sole example. Over the past week we found many other examples that dominate news about software patents [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] and do little more than discredit the Court’s decision, acting as though all software patents are still fine and dandy. The patent lawyers who engage in this propaganda/marketing campaign are basically misleading potential clients. The truth of the matter is, courts in the US invalidate and throw out patent lawsuits where the patents are shallow and merely relate to abstract ideas. Patent lawyers prefer to only cover cases where software patents somehow survive a court’s scrutiny, as we have demonstrated in recent months. Lies by omission? You bet.

Days ago we found this article titled “Software, the Supreme Court, and 3D Printing: Why You Should Care About Alice v. CLS Bank”. Here is a key part: “Software—some mundane, some truly ingenious—runs the printers, scanners, and files that power 3D printing. In the past, inventors and technology owners could comfortably look to patent law to protect the proprietary advantage software inventions gave. But with its June 2014 decision in Alice v. CLS Bank, some say that the U.S. Supreme Court fundamentally changed the rules for software patentability. Since Alice, some believe that courts around the country have been on a software patent killing spree. Because of the large role software plays in 3D printing, those with a stake in the technology need to understand Alice—and the strategies that exist to get around it.”

While it is acknowledged that things have changed, it serves to legitimise those who want to “get around” the rules (i.e. cheat). Watch vocal boosters of software patents providing tips on how to cheat (or fool) the system. They also try to give a false impression that software patents are thriving. One statement being made therein: “Software and method patents may appear to have fallen out of favor because of recent court decisions and legislation. However, recent trends indicate that they comprise surprisingly high portions of four US companies’ recent grants.” Well, that’s not the point. The point is, the USPTO has become more strict and more importantly the courts (where real tests of validity are put forth) do not honour software patents much of the time. The author is of course being selective (two companies only, Microsoft and Google) to support a bogus hypothesis, putting aside the fact that he chose two companies that increasingly turn to patents as their business strategy. One uses them offensively (Microsoft), whereas the other turns to them mostly for defensively purposes (because Microsoft is attacking it with patents).

Companies like Microsoft, which resort to patent abuse and aggression because the monopoly is quickly crumbling, are bound to lose a lot because of the Alice ruling. Patent lawyers too are bound to lose from a sobering society that knows the limits of patenting.

An Estimated 1,000 EPO Employees-Strong Legion Engulfs Danish Consulate to Protest Jesper Kongstad’s (of Administrative Council) Protection of Benoît Battistelli

Posted in Europe, Patents at 4:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The Danish Consulate in Munich
The Danish Consulate in Munich; Photo by Stauning

Summary: A large protest waged by staff of the EPO targets one of the key facilitators of Battistelli’s terrifying tyranny

THERE IS no denying that the EPO has gone rogue, especially at the top. Despite an expected commitment to serve the public, the EPO is lowering the quality of patents to reach business goals rather than provide public service, then bragging about it. 92% of patent applications in US end up enshrined as patents, so it’s a plague that spreads to Europe right now, especially with allowance of software patents. Our sources tell us that staff of the EPO is not happy about it; this erodes the image of the EPO and alienates some of the principal stakeholders. It’s a short-term ‘gain’ that may only lead to a long-term collapse of this system, due in part to perceived illegitimacy (the correct perception that EPO increasingly serves large corporations, not inventors).

“These protests are aimed at the Dane Kongstad, who helps protect Benoît Battistelli rather than oversee or work independently like he is supposed to.”A couple of weeks ago, months after we had explained the Administrative Council's apparent collusion with the EPO's management in a series of articles, protests were planned and they did materialise. While we covered this at a preparatory level we have not yet properly provided second-hand coverage from those who attended to protests at the Danish Consulate. These protests are aimed at the Dane Kongstad, who helps protect Benoît Battistelli rather than oversee or work independently like he is supposed to.

The protests were covered by Florian Müller in his blog where his latest post on it says:

It’s time for a follow-up on what’s going on at the European Patent Office. The day before yesterday, the EPO staff union, SUEPO, took to the streets of Munich again–this time around, approximately 1,000 EPO employees went to the Danish consulate

“One of the links points to a TechRights article,” he wrote, “and there are a couple of other recent TechRights article I find interesting (which does not mean a wholesale endorsement): this one on the rumor that the EPO’s recently-hired Director of Internal Communications has “resigned” and this one on (so far unproven) allegations against a vice president of the EPO.

“The de facto suspension of a member of a board of appeal (i.e., an EPO-internal judge) that has drawn much criticism from judges and lawyers was, according to French financial daily Les Echos, due to whatever the suspended judge said about that vice president, Mr. Željko Topić.”

We don’t know what he said or wrote, but it reflects rather badly on the atmosphere at the EPO.

“On the one hand,” Müller explains, “I can understand that the EPO leadership is increasingly nervous.”

“The Administrative Council has been part of the problem, not part of the solution,” he added.

That’s for sure.

Müller’s post adds this link that we missed. Merpel refers to herself (as usual) as a third person:

Merpel posted a copy of Sir Robin Jacob’s letter to the Administrative Council of the European Patent Office earlier in January, on his request. The letter protested the treatment of a member of the Boards of Appeal of the EPO, and reiterated the importance of the judicial independence of the Boards of Appeal.

The text of the response letter has little substance:

Dear all,

In relation to the letter sent by Professor Sir Robin Jacob to Mr. Kongstad, VP1 asked to share with you the following remarks:

Sir Jacob 1) is not aware of all facts
2) is not aware of what the decision of the president was (office ban)
3) does not understand that the AC took the decision based on facts!
4) does not understand that this case has nothing to do with the independence of the Boards!
5) and nevertheless writes this letter!

Best regards,

How vague. Basically they just mock the intelligence of Professor Sir Robin Jacob and tell him something along the lines of “keep out!” (notice all the exclamation marks). These are the hallmarks of a secretive and unprofessional management. One would not expect this type of arrogance from a corporation, let alone from so-called ‘public servants’.

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