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03.26.15

The EPO’s Dutch Scandal Leaves Battistelli and His Cronies on the Run

Posted in Europe, Patents at 2:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The management is now afraid of the staff, not vice versa

Game over

Summary: EPO management is making concessions and issues statements which admit defeat, allowing the staff union to continue its activities

LEAKS ABOUT EPO misconduct have shaken the Office (patents establishment of Europe, seeking to substitute members states’ establishments) and put its management at peril. Managers now realise that there is serious risk to their career. It’s a permanent threat to mischievous and/or corrupt folks, so they are backtracking on assaults on the staff, or at least so they claim (publicly, to save face). “While nothing is promised other than a kick-off meeting,” writes IP Kat, “the intention would appear to be to formally recognise the staff union, SUEPO. It remains to be seen if such formal recognition will include the actions that the Hague Court of Appeal ordered the EPO to undertake, including unblocking SUEPO’s emails to staff members, abolishing the President’s power to dictate the terms of industrial action, and allowing for collective bargaining. We shall see what develops and as always expect that our readers will have strong views to express in the comments below (bearing in mind the rules at the bottom of this post).”

EPO management has also been attacking the Enlarged Board, which IP Kat writes about today [1, 2].

Let’s be clear again about the track record of EPO management. It has been spying on its staff like Microsoft spies on its so-called ‘customers’ and it has consistently been ignoring laws, even when these laws were upheld by a Court. Last month while I was away in Singapore IP Kat published “The EPO: privileged and immune says the President”; the so-called ‘president’ is the the arrogant Benoît Battistelli, who tried hard to derail the protests of staff, despite a Court’s ruling in favour of the staff.

IP Kat also published the article “Dutch Minister trumps Court of Appeal ruling, reasserts EPO immunity”. This Dutch minister is corrupt and in later parts of this series about the Dutch affair we shall show why. “The gist of the article in de Volkskrant,” according to a source, “is that the Dutch Minister of Justice Ivo Opstelten has made a decision on the basis of the EPO’s immunity from execution of court orders under international law, an immunity which the Court had previously lifted. Whether the minister is correct, either in terms of law or in terms of policy, appears to be open to question.”

Well, the minister is corrupt, as we found out just days after this source spoke about it. He is no longer even a minister. We’ll cover this in the future. Spoiler alert: He quit over payment to a drug-trafficker a few weeks ago. “The Dutch Minister of Justice,” said to us one source, “the guy who said that the court ruling is not to be executed, resigned.” There is a lot of corruption here (more of it is being leaked to us every week). Responding to what he or she called “Techrights publications over Balkan standards,” this source wrote: “After having succeeded to “convince” the Croatian journalist to withdraw his article in December, the next step would be to try to get it off your web site as well. I am sure they at least thought about it. Possibly legal steps? In any such case, would it be possible to share the data you have, in order to make them available somewhere else?”

As always, since all the stories here are licensed very liberally, we encourage everyone to copy and spread them (in forums, other news sites, and so on). The more copies of the information in existence, the harder it will become to censor. Attribution helps but is not a priority. By all means, publishing Techrights articles in more places, e.g. anonymous blogs, would discourage these censorship attempts (intended to purge evidence of crime) and make veiled threats obsolete. In a way, the more this information spreads, the better the collective protection becomes.

We are going to write more on what happened in the Netherlands in the coming days. We will also comment on other corruption which emanates from the EPO affairs (extending well beyond Croatia).

Microsoft Won’t Let People Wipe (Off) Windows But Happily Wipes Android, Wipes Android Apps Through Cyanogen and Blackmailed ‘Partners’

Posted in GNU/Linux, Google, Microsoft, Samsung at 2:25 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Microsoft’s obscene double-standards leave Android and Linux between a rock and a hard place

IS IT true that Microsoft loves Linux? What a silly question, but some people and even GNU/Linux vendors actually entertain the possibility that Microsoft loves GNU/Linux, even in the face of heavy and overwhelming contradictory evidence (we gave plenty of evidence to the contrary on Saturday, in a 6-part “Microsoft Hates Linux” series).

As Zacks put it earlier today, “Microsoft has come up with a way for Android users to install a Windows 10-based ROM on Android devices that would take them over and offer Windows-based software offerings (Cortana, Office and Skype).”

For Microsoft, wiping Android from inside Android is "OK", but wiping Windows is not allowed or even possible in some cases. Microsoft actively works to prevent it. As this new article reminds us, “Microsoft tightens Windows 10′s Secure Boot screws” to prevent GNU/Linux from booting (let alone being installed). There are borderline apologists of this — those who try to spin that as “good news” because people can now avoid such machines or buy GNU/Linux preinstalled instead. Either way, Microsoft has made life very hard for GNU/Linux users and one comment I received earlier today said: “I want to buy the hardware I like and I want to install the software I like onto it. Why is there a company (read: a devil) who decides what my options are? Why aren’t there any independent hardware builders? So the Linux community is depending on the mood of angry corporations?”

Well, Microsoft is now relying on vendors to help it reduce options and prevent people from exercising real choice. It’s like an assault by proxy — one to which antitrust laws apply. There is patent blackmail in the mix, as Microsoft coerces vendors into betraying their customers, at legal gunpoint.

Bridget Carey from CNET (part of CBS) said that “Microsoft is getting friendly with Android.”

Apparently then, patent extortion and bribes is “friendly”. We are very much annoyed to see Microsoft-friendly media (paid by Microsoft) characterising extortion and bribes as Microsoft “getting friendly” or “playing nicer” with Android. It’s a massive lie. There is also no mention of what Microsoft is really up to in the article “Microsoft’s Android and iOS assault”. It mentions nothing about coercion using patent extortion. Microsoft decided to sue over software patents (mere claims) with their lawyers (e.g. against Samsung), that’s how they strike so-called “deals” for “select Android devices”. Tools of blackmail are not about “deals” but about abuse. Three years ago Pegatron was extorted by Microsoft, so no wonder it too got ‘co-opted’. Pegatron, Samsung and so on (even the Microsoft-connected Dell) are not surprising members of this blackmail-driven ‘pact’; Microsoft likes to target large distributors of Android using lawsuits. It’s Microsoft’s new strategy, there is no newly-found love.

Then there is the Cyanogen case, which nicely shows how Microsoft works by proxy. The Murdoch-owned Wall Street Journal misleads on Google ‘antitrust’ while Murdoch himself now openly invests in this anti-Google and pro-Microsoft company called Cyanogen. We wrote about it earlier this week. There is a new article titled “Why people are wrong about the world needing an Android that Google can’t control” and what it fails to mention is that Cyanogen sells Android users to Microsoft. That’s the business model. Cyanogen is now a tool of Microsoft and this article says that “[a]ccording to sources familiar with the matter, future devices taking advantage of Cyanogen OS might actually ship out with Microsoft Bing and Office apps instead of Google Search Drive.”

eWeek has got a misleading series of articles right now. One is titled “Cyanogen Aspires to Become Open-Source Android Alternative to Google”. Well, preinstalling Microsoft’s proprietary software is not “Open-Source Android Alternative to Google” but a proprietary alternative to Android. Todd Weiss, writing another article for eWeek, is also wrong. The headline says “Android Open-Source Vendor Cyanogen Veers Off Google’s Android Path”. However, Cyanogen is not “Android Open-Source Vendor” but a Microsoft tool replacing FOSS (for the most part) with Microsoft proprietary software which sucks up data (documents, audio, etc.) to be relayed to the NSA.

In our IRC channels MinceR wrote that “Cyanogen shows its true colors as yet another front for Microsoft,” citing this article. The goal is to destroy Android and to make it another Windows. Microsoft will try to make it less visible by changing the terms of financing, keeping Cyanogen at a short distance to save face. Microsoft is now paying them handsomely but secretly, as an applications (via OEMs) partner rather than an investor. Here at Techrights we wrote about 4 articles about it in the past 1.5 weeks alone and prior to that we warned about Cyanogen for its proprietary software agenda, which is also apathetic towards privacy. Cyanogen has nothing to do with control, privacy, freedom etc.; it just tries to turn Android into Windows in exchange for cash. Bill Gates’ friend Rupert Murdoch now funds it personally and Microsoft was going to fund it too before Murdoch’s media published an exclusive article about it, drawing criticism rather than glee.

Mark said that Cyanogen is “a colorless, toxic gas,” according to Wikipedia. “Cyanogen is a highly toxic compound” “Lethal dose through inhalation typically ranges from 100 to 150 mg. [...] cyanogen is very toxic, as it readily undergoes reduction to cyanide, which poisons the cytochrome c oxidase complex, thus interrupting the mitochondrial electron transfer chain” (see Wikipedia for more).

“Why in the world,” remarked Mark, “would anyone name their software product after a deadly poison? Perhaps their subconscious mind is warning people.”

In part 6 of our "Microsoft Hates Linux" series we wrote about Microsoft’s manipulation of the press, which causes proprietary software from Microsoft to be characterised as “open”. Even Linux Magazine fell for it; it’s part of the effort to paint Visual Studio “open”, “free”, or whatever.

India’s Government, as we mentioned at the time, currently formulates policy on adoption of open source software (several more articles are appearing right now to cover this right now) and that’s why Microsoft pretends to be “Open Source”. It doesn’t want to be left excluded, so it needs to pretend to be part of the Open Source crowd. It’s achieved by means of hijack/capture/infiltration and unless the public antagonises this, Microsoft will get its way.

Links 26/3/2015: GNOME 3.16 Officially Released

Posted in News Roundup at 1:08 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

  • Poll: Linux Use by Software Developers & Researchers
  • Yes, Using That Other OS Can Hurt Your Business

    A game was delayed because the computer used to run the scoreboard insisted on updating that other OS instead of getting on with business. Something that would take mere seconds with GNU/Linux took minutes, delaying the game.

  • Desktop

    • Hands-On: Linux UEFI multi-boot, part two

      I’m going to start this post by saying something that a lot of people will find surprising.

      There are a lot of things that I like about UEFI firmware and the UEFI boot process.

      I think it is an improvement over the old MBR boot system in some very useful and practical ways. Unfortunately Microsoft has turned it into yet another way to make things significantly more difficult for those who want to boot any non-Microsoft operating system.

  • Server

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments/WMs

    • GNOME Desktop/GTK

      • GNOME 3.16 is out!

        What happened since 3.14? Quite a bit, and a number of unfinished projects will hopefully come to fruition in the coming months.

      • GNOME 3.16 Released

        The GNOME Project is proud to announce the release of GNOME 3.16 today, the result of six months work, which includes 33,525 changes by 1043 authors. GNOME 3.16 brings a brand new notification system in response to the feedback of enthusiastic GNOME users. GNOME 3’s visuals have also received a refresh, and its application suite has been updated, with improvements to Files, Music, Photos, Maps and more.

      • GNOME 3.16 released
      • GNOME 3.16 released
      • GNOME 3.16 Has Been Officially Released, Here’s What’s New

        The highly anticipated GNOME 3.16 update has just been announced today, March 25, on the official website of the acclaimed open-source desktop environment used in numerous GNU/Linux operating systems. This is a major release that includes countless new features, updated components, and dozens of bug fixes.

      • Introducing GNOME 3.16, the Best GNOME Release Yet – Video

        http://linux.softpedia.com/blog/Introducing-GNOME-3-16-the-Best-GNOME-Release-Yet-Video-476775.shtml

      • GNOME 3.16 is here — the best Linux desktop environment gets better

        Linux-based operating systems are a staple in my computing life. With that said, as much as I love the kernel and associated distributions, my true love is the GNOME 3 desktop environment. While version 3 has historically been a rather polarizing desktop, its subsequent point releases have greatly improved its reputation.

      • GNOME 3.16 Released With New Notification System, Updated Visuals [Video, Screenshots]

        GNOME 3.16 was released today and it includes some important changes, like a new notification system, updated visuals, 3 new preview applications and much more. Read on to find out what’s new!

  • Distributions

    • Neptune 4.3.1 Linux Distro Released to Fix an Installation Issue with EXT4 Partitions

      Only four days after announcing the release of Neptune 4.3 Linux operating system for computers, its developer published a new ISO image for the distribution, which has been updated to version 4.3.1, as users reported that they were unable to install the distribution on EXT4 partitions.

    • Hands-on learning with “Linux From Scratch”

      Almost ten years ago, I used a computer for the first time. I mean I had heard a lot and seen computers in action in movies but I had never touched, let alone, used one before then. I will never forget that late summer morning when I switched on a computer for the first time. A deep hunger was ignited within me and ever since that day I have had an insatiable hunger to learn more about ICT gadgets.

      A year later when I was introduced to computers one of the first things I Googled, inspired by Angelina Jolie’s Hackers movie, was how to be a hacker.

    • Zorin OS: Can I keep it, please?

      As it happened, I had just been testing Zorin OS 8 on a USB stick, on my own laptop. I loved the way Zorin Look Changer can make your computer look like what you might be used to at work, or on your own machine – XP, 2000, 7 (and even OS X, if you use the Ultimate version). The range of software that is included is amazing, too – games, office stuff, apps that let you edit photographs and even video. There are heaps more, but the list would be too long to include here.

    • An introduction of library operating system for Linux
    • Reviews

      • Deepin 2014.2 review

        Deepin 2014 was a major release of Deepin (formerly Linux Deepin), a desktop distribution developed by some good folks in China. Though based on Ubuntu Desktop, the distribution features a custom desktop environment instead of the Unity Desktop of its parent distribution.

        That desktop environment, which is called Deepin Desktop Environment, is what gives the distribution a very unique look and feel.

        This is a cursory review of Deepin 2014.2, which is a point update to Deepin 2014. for a more detailed review of the 2014 releases, see Deepin 2014 review.

    • Screenshots

    • Red Hat Family

    • Debian Family

      • Hewlett-Packard Platinum Sponsor of DebConf15

        With this additional commitment as Platinum Sponsor, HP contributes to make possible our annual conference, and directly supports the progress of Debian and Free Software, helping to strengthen the community who continue to collaborate on their Debian projects throughout the rest of the year.

      • Working towards a child-friendly DebConf

        The Debian Project will celebrate its 22nd birthday during DebConf15 in Heidelberg in August 2015. At this age, it’s unsurprising that children of Debian contributors have attended our developer conference for several years.

      • Derivatives

        • New SteamOS Beta Arrives with Updated Nvidia Video Drivers, Uses Linux Kernel 3.10.5

          Valve has announced earlier today, March 25, the immediate availability for download and testing of a new Beta version for its awesome SteamOS Linux operating system for gamers. SteamOS Update 157 has been pushed to the Alchemist Beta channel a few hours ago and the ISO images are now available for download.

        • Canonical/Ubuntu

          • New Ubuntu Phone Flash Sale Confirmed for March 26

            Canonical confirmed a few minutes ago on their Twitter and Facebook accounts that a new flash sale of the BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition smartphone will take place tomorrow morning, on March 26, starting 9 AM CET (Central European Time). BQ already started shipping the Ubuntu phones to users from the European Union, so it should arrive quickly this time.

          • Ubuntu 15.04 (Vivid Vervet) Final Beta Freeze Is Now in Effect, Will Be Released on March 26

            Ubuntu 15.04 (Vivid Vervet) is getting closer and closer to a final release, which will be unveiled by Canonical next month, on April 23, 2015. The Final Beta will arrive tomorrow, March 26, for all editions, including Ubuntu itself, which did not had an Alpha or Beta release until now.

          • Win an Ubuntu Phone, Here Are the Details

            Canonical has announced earlier today, on their website and Twitter account, that they’re giving away an Ubuntu Phone device to the winner of an origami contest related to the Ubuntu 14.10 mascot, the Utopic Unicorn.

          • Ubuntu And Ericsson Partner To Helps Telcos Achieve Flexibility

            Ericsson is a monster in the telecommunications industry. The company, which provides products and services upon which telcos themselves build their businesses, has a network spread that sees 40 percent of the world’s mobile traffic, and some 2.5 billion mobile subscribers globally pass through its equipment. Quite simply, in the telco market, what Ericsson does matter greatly. So in this vein, and given Ericsson’s investments in the cloud space, it is interesting to hear of a partnership between Canonical, the open source company best known for the Ubuntu operating system, and Ericsson.

          • BQ Is Cleaning Up Their Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Kernel

            Last week we relayed the article by Carsten Munk of Jolla about the kernel of the BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Phone being a mess. Since then, it looks like BQ and Ubuntu developers have taken to cleaning up the kernel source tree.

          • BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition Unboxing – Video

            We are extremely happy to report that the BQ Aquaris E4.5 Ubuntu Edition smartphone, which will be known forever as the first Ubuntu Phone device made, has just arrived today at our headquarters in the European Union, so we’ve decided to make a short unboxing video to show you guys what’s in the box.

          • Flavours and Variants

            • Blueberry: LinuxMint’s Brand New Bluetooth Configuration Tool

              Clement Lefebvre, the Founder and lead developer of LinuxMint, has introduced the brand new bluetooth setup and configuration tool called “Blueberry”. It is a front-end for Gnome-bluetooth-3.14, and it shows a systray icon in your panel and doesn’t annoy you if you don’t have a Bluetooth adapter. It works on any Desktop environment, including MATE, Cinnamon, GNOME, XFCE, and Unity. And ofcourse, it should work on any distribution as long as gnome-bluetooth 3.14 is installed.

            • Bodacious Bodhi Broadens Linux Desktop

              Bodhi Linux is based on Ubuntu 12.04 and Enlightenment 17.04. It uses a modular structure that provides a high level of customization and selections of themes. Bodhi’s philosophy is built around minimalism and user choice, aiming to strike a balance between providing nothing but a command-line interface, and including everything plus the kitchen sink.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Building a SNES emulator with a Raspberry Pi and a PS3 gamepad

      It’s been a while since I did this, but I got some people asking me lately about how exactly I did it and I thought it could be nice to write a post answering that question. Actually, it would be a nice thing for me to have anyway at least as “documentation”, so here it is.

    • Phones

      • Tizen

      • Android

        • Samsung Galaxy Android 5.1 Update Rumors Emerge

          Samsung is still rolling out Android 5.0.1 and Android 5.0.2 Lollipop updates and rumors suggest that it hasn’t begun work on Galaxy Android 5.1 updates. That said, a new round of Samsung Galaxy Android 5.1 Lollipop update rumors reveals some potential Galaxy Android 5.1 update details for some of Samsung’s biggest names.

        • Nexus 4 Android 5.1 Release: 10 Things to Expect
        • Run this Installer Hijacking Scanner app to see if your older Android phone is at risk
        • How to enable one of the best security features in Android Lollipop
        • Android 5.0 Lollipop beginning to roll out for the AT&T Galaxy Note 3

          Following in the Galaxy Note 4’s footsteps from earlier today, Android 5.0 Lollipop is now beginning to roll out to the AT&T Samsung Galaxy Note 3. The update comes in at a hefty 1.2GB and carries build number N900AUCUEOC1.

        • This is probably the best collection of Material Design apps you’ll ever find

          There is plenty to like in Google’s latest major Android release, Lollipop. It’s faster, lighter and more battery efficient than ever before. The biggest in-your-face change found in Android 5.0 was the new look of the operating system, which Google calls “Material Design.”

        • The four best podcast apps for Android phones

          Podcasts remain a lively and popular forum for online broadcasting, even with a name that calls back to the era of the iPod.

          As an Android user you’ve probably long broken free of the Apple ecosystem, so there will be no searching through iTunes to sync up podcasts with an iPhone. No, you want your podcasts your way, quickly and conveniently on your Android phone.

        • Open source security tool indicates Android app vulnerability spike
        • Five essential must-have apps for Android Wear

          The whole smartwatch shebang is still a rather confusing mini-mess, where manufacturers are not very certain on how to position their gizmos, while users are not entirely sure that a glorified timepiece with the ability to vibrate when you get an email is worth shelling out $300 for. Well, at least that was the case until the recent few months, when smartdevice makers realised that people wouldn’t mind paying a premium price for a watch, as long as it doesn’t look like a fitness tracker with a glowing screen, but actually resembles a timepiece you wouldn’t mind being seen in public with. Nowadays, we have the Moto 360 (which still doesn’t appeal to many, due to simple looks and the infamous cut-off at the bottom of its circular screen), the Asus ZenWatch, and the upcoming LG Watch Urbane, which will surely attract more eyes to the wearable tech market (and we are not even mentioning the amount of traction the Apple Watch will bring along as well).

        • Pioneer’s NEX Series of Android Auto Head Units are Now Available, Range From $700 to $1400

          Pioneer’s line of in-dash multimedia receivers, which were previewed at this year’s CES in Las Vegas, are now available for all through select retailers and online at Pioneer’s website. These units run Android Auto, Google’s OS for vehicles, but also come with Apple CarPlay compatibility built-in, allowing for complete flexibility for a family that runs multiple platforms.

        • Google Maps for Android just got a great new feature iPhone users will be jealous of

          Google Maps for Android and Google Maps for the iPhone may never have true feature parity. This is due in part to the limitations Apple puts in place on third-party application developers, but Google also seems to reserve some features and design elements solely for users of its own mobile platform.

        • Android Wear smartwatches: The benefits for professionals

          With smartwatches and wearables in general, it can be hard see real usefulness through the current hype. Here’s how professionals can leverage Android Wear devices to make their lives easier.

        • A review of Android for Work: Dual-persona support comes to Android

          If you work in an office environment, you probably know a few people—maybe a lot of people—with two smartphones. One is a personal phone full of pictures of the family, games, social networking, and sports stuff, and the other is a company-issued smartphone full of e-mail, appointments, contacts, and documents. With two phones, your IT department has full control over your work data and can remotely wipe it, and they never get to see your personal pictures or other information. It’s a workable setup, but the downside is all the duplication—you have two phones, two chargers, and almost no free pocket space. The other alternative is BYOD—Bring Your Own Device—in which the IT department takes over and installs a bunch of company software to your personal phone.

Free Software/Open Source

  • Using Spark DataFrames for large scale data science

    When we first open sourced Spark, we aimed to provide a simple API for distributed data processing in general-purpose programming languages (Java, Python, Scala). Spark enabled distributed data processing through functional transformations on distributed collections of data (RDDs). This was an incredibly powerful API—tasks that used to take thousands of lines of code to express could be reduced to dozens.

  • Events

    • Checkpoint/Restart Microconference Accepted into 2015 Linux Plumbers Conference

      Checkpoint/restart technology is the basis for live migration as well as its traditional use to take a snapshot of a long-running job. This microconference will focus on the C/R project called CRIU and will bring together people from Canonical, CloudLinux, Georgia Institute of Technology, Google, Parallels, and Qualcomm to discuss CRIU integration with the various containers projects, its use on Android, performance and testing issues and, of course, to show some live demoes. See the Checkpoint/Restart wiki for more information.

    • Energy-Aware Scheduling and CPU Power Management Microconference Accepted into 2015 Linux Plumbers Conference

      Energy efficiency has received considerable attention, for example, the microconference at last year’s Plumbers. However, despite another year’s worth of vigorous efforts, there is still quite a bit left to be desired in Linux’s power management and in its energy-aware scheduling in particular, hence this year’s microconference.

    • Containers Microconference Accepted into 2015 Linux Plumbers Conference

      Over the past year, the advent of Docker has further increased the level of Containers excitement. Additional points of Containers interest include the LXC 1.1 release (which includes CRUI checkpoint/restore, in-container systemd support, and feature-set compatibility across systemd, sysvinit, and upstart), the recently announced merger of OpenVZ and Cloud server, and progress in the kernel namespace and cgroups infrastructure.

    • Chemnitzer Linux-Tage 2015

      Last weekend there was Chemnitzer Linux-Tage, after the dead of LinuxTag in Berlin, Germany’s largest event around Linux and Open Source. I got to this event since the begin and it was like always a lot of visitors, even it was a little bit lsser this year as the years before. I had this year als only one talk, together with Robert Scheck.

  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Firefox OS ported to MIPS on Ingenic tablet

        Imagination is hosting a raffle for a 9.7-inch, MIPS-based Ingenic tablet that runs a MIPS port of Firefox OS, which will also support its Creator C120 SBC.

        An “experimental” version of Firefox OS has been ported to the MIPS architecture in the form of an unnamed Ingenic reference tablet announced by Imagination Technologies. Imagination designs the IP for the MIPS32 cores and PowerVR SGX540 GPU incorporated in the tablet’s Ingenic XBurst SoC. There are five days left to sign up for an Imagination raffle of 15 of the tablets, which are loaded with Firefox OS, but also support Android 4.4

      • Mozilla cares for community with educational resources

        I love the opportunity and inspiration of open source participation—the chance to tinker with and influence new innovation and social change. Seeing my contributions become part of something bigger continues to be both an empowering and humbling experience.

  • Databases

    • A Cautionary Open Source Tale, Apple Buys And Shutters FoundationDB

      So far so good. Except that almost immediately FoundationDB seemingly excised its very existence from GitHub, the repository where the code for open source projects like this is stored. The FoundationDB repository was devoid of any content after the move. This is in contrast to the day before when the repository was a typical bustling ecosystem of contributors and code.

      [...]

      There was no warning for this move and while commercial Apple watchers would expect that from a company not well known for its altruism, it’s a very unusual move in the open source world. As Jack Clark from Bloomberg pointed out, this move looks set to incense many…

    • Apple May Have Just Killed An Open Source Project
    • InfluxDB has taken its open-source business to Silicon Valley

      Paul Dix is holding on to his Williamsburg apartment. The CEO and cofounder of InfluxDB has strong personal ties to Brooklyn and it’s unlikely that he’ll totally vacate the place any time soon. However, his investors wanted his time series database company on the West Coast, where they believed it could find the right talent to grow.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • CMS

    • The benefits of decoupling your CMS

      A common disease of software development is the “not-invented-here” syndrome, a tendency to write new implementations instead of leveraging existing solutions. We then just write it as part of the application we’re currently building, thinking it’s a small thing. Over time, such helper or utility classes grow as new things are added, but usually stay tightly coupled to the application.

      This disease also applies to content management applications. By choosing a CMS, you need to accept not only the language it’s written in, but also its editing and administration interface, templating system, databases it supports, and so on. The decoupled content management movement aims to improve this situation.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GCC 5 and AutoFDO

      This comes from Google, with some more information at this git repository and the GCC wiki, as far as I can tell. The basic idea is that you can do feedback-directed optimization by low-overhead sampling of your regular binaries instead of a specially instrumented one. It is somewhat less effective (you get approx. half the benefit of full FDO, it seems), but it means you don’t need to write automated, representative benchmarks—you can just sample real use and feed that into the next build.

  • Project Releases

    • glibmm 2.44.0 and gtkmm 3.16.0

      I’ve just done the stable glibmm 2.44.0 and gtkmm 3.16.0 releases with the usual bunch of API additions and deprecations to keep track of the glib and gtkmm API. Thanks to Kjell Ahlstedt in particular for his many well thought-out contributions.

    • Pulp 2.6.0 is available!

      The Pulp team is very happy to announce the release of Pulp 2.6.0!

    • SCAP Workbench 1.1.0

      The new SCAP Workbench is out! This is the biggest release to date. We focused on improving the typical use-case of tailoring and remote scanning. This is also the first release to have Windows and MacOS X support!

    • Keeping up with noisy blog aggregators using PlanetFilter

      I follow a few blog aggregators (or “planets”) and it’s always a struggle to keep up with the amount of posts that some of these get. The best strategy I have found so far to is to filter them so that I remove the blogs I am not interested in, which is why I wrote PlanetFilter.

  • Public Services/Government

    • EP IT department: ‘We should give openness example’

      The European Parliament should give the example for the openness of its software solutions, says Giancarlo Vilella, Director General for DG ITEC, the EP’s IT department, speaking at the Document Freedom Day workshop organised on 25 March by the EP’s Greens and the European Free Alliance. “ICT is a strong tool for democracy”, the Director General says. “We aim to be the avant garde of political institutions.”

    • Centre formulates policy on adoption of open source software

      The IT Ministry has unveiled a ‘Policy on Adoption of Open Source Software for Government of India’ that will encourage the formal adoption and use of Open Source Software (OSS) in government organisations.

      Formulated by the Department of Electronics and IT (DeitY), the policy will enable freedom of use and re-use of ICT assets along with availability of strong OSS community support.

    • European Parliament Leans Towards Free Software

      Of course, there are many more reasons to use FLOSS. “openness” certainly raises the level of confidence one can have in the software but it also increases the reliability and efficiency of the software, things that matter and affect the bottom line. With non-Free software, there are motives to include inefficient code, to do the work of others rather than the users of the software. It also costs less to produce FLOSS since authours can use the works of others to build FLOSS, a great efficiency. Instead of every product needing to re-invent the wheel or pay to use a copy, every product can largely consist of re-used code. This also allows authours to put their full energy into the innovative parts of a product instead of trying to comply with endless restrictive software licences.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • Creative Commons for Developer Docs

      Over the last few years, we’ve seen more and more open source projects transition to a Creative Commons license for their documentation. Specifically, most projects tend to use some version of CC-BY-SA. There are some projects that use a permissive code license like Apache or MIT for documentation, and certainly still some that use the GFDL. But for the most part, the trend has been toward CC-BY-SA.

    • It’s now possible to open source your body for medical science

      Medical advancements don’t just happen by themselves. Each new treatment and drug is the result of tireless work by researchers, often working with health data provided by volunteers. However, study participation rates have dropped in recent years, and what data is collected isn’t usually widely available. An initiative called the Open Humans Network hopes to change that by making health data more open and public. It basically offers you a way to donate your body to science without that unpleasant “death” aspect.

    • Open Hardware

      • Leap Motion Faceplate Lets OSVR Head Talk to the Hand

        Open Source Virtual Reality, a platform that aims to unify virtual reality input devices, games and output, and Leap Motion, a company that has established itself in the development of motion-tracking hardware, on Wednesday announced what may be a compelling way to control movements in a virtual reality environment.

      • Leap Motion’s Open Source Virtual Reality support gets real

        Right up front – attached at the faceplate – that’s where you’ll find the Leap Motion tracker on the OSVR Hacker Dev Kit later this year. An announcement has been made by the Open Source Virtual Reality group that suggests Leap Motion is fully onboard – supporting the initiative and preparing their motion tracking equipment to ship with the first developer-aimed hardware later this year. This would make the OSVR Hacker Dev Kit the first VR headset to ship with Leap Motion attached – supposing Oculus VR doesn’t get there first.

      • Razer’s handing open-source VR kits to more than 20 education labs
  • Programming

    • Saving code

      As you probably know by now, Gitorious is shutting down. A lot of history sits on that site, and much of the code is no longer maintained. Browsing around, I ran into the maemo-tools that has not been touched since 2013. There are still some useful stuff there, so I decided to save it. All tool repositories has been cloned to the maemo-tools-old organization on github.

    • PHP 7.0 as Software Collection

      RPM of upcoming major version of PHP 7.0, are available in remi repository for Fedora 20, 21, 22 and Enterprise Linux 6, 7 (RHEL, CentOS, …) in a fresh new Software Collection (php70) allowing its installation beside the system version.

  • Standards/Consortia

    • Dump JavaScript for faster Web loading? Let the debate begin

      Can Web pages load faster if they’re not bogged down by slow JavaScript response times? A Web developer in the online publishing space believes this could be the case and has offered a plan for this purpose, but a co-author of the popular Angular.js JavaScript framework has his doubts.

      A proposal entitled “HTML6 proposal for single-page Web apps without JavaScript” has been circulating on a World Wide Web Consortium mailing list and GitHub. “The overall purpose is to reduce response times when loading Web pages,” said Web developer Bobby Mozumder, editor in chief of FutureClaw magazine, who authored the proposal.

    • EC updates overview of standardisation activities

      The European Commission on 24 March published an update to its ‘EU Rolling Plan for ICT Standardisation’, the first update in two years. The document provides an overview of the needs for preliminary or complementary ICT standardisation activities in support of EU policy activities. The report covers policy making across different Directorates-General of the European Commission.

Leftovers

  • Germanwings Pilot Was Locked Out of Cockpit Before Crash in France

    As officials struggled Wednesday to explain why a jet with 150 people on board crashed in relatively clear skies, an investigator said evidence from a cockpit voice recorder indicated one pilot left the cockpit before the plane’s descent and was unable to get back in.

    A senior military official involved in the investigation described “very smooth, very cool” conversation between the pilots during the early part of the flight from Barcelona to Düsseldorf. Then the audio indicated that one of the pilots left the cockpit and could not re-enter.

    “The guy outside is knocking lightly on the door and there is no answer,” the investigator said. “And then he hits the door stronger and no answer. There is never an answer.”

  • French prosecutor says pilot deliberately crashed plane

    The co-pilot of a Germanwings flight that slammed into an Alpine mountainside “intentionally” sent the plane into its doomed descent, a French prosecutor has said.

    Marseille prosecutor Brice Robin said on Thursday that the commander left the cockpit, presumably to go to the lavatory, and then was unable to regain access.

  • Hardware

  • Health/Nutrition

    • We’re treating soil like dirt. It’s a fatal mistake, as our lives depend on it

      The issue hasn’t changed, but we have. Landowners around the world are now engaged in an orgy of soil destruction so intense that, according to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, the world on average has just 60 more years of growing crops. Even in Britain, which is spared the tropical downpours that so quickly strip exposed soil from the land, Farmers Weekly reports, we have “only 100 harvests left”.

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Architect of CIA’s drone campaign to leave post in watershed moment

      As the architect of that campaign, the CTC chief came to be regarded as an Ahab-like figure known for dark suits and a darker demeanor. He could be merciless toward subordinates but was also revered for his knowledge of terrorist networks and his ability to run an organization that became almost an agency unto itself. He embodied a killing-centric approach to counter­terrorism that enraged many Muslims, even though he is a convert to Islam.

    • Yemen President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi Flees Home As Rebels Close In

      The departure of the close U.S. ally and the imminent fall of the southern port of Aden pushed Yemen further toward a violent collapse. It also threatened to turn the impoverished but strategic country into another proxy battle between the Middle East’s Sunni powers and Shiite-led Iran.

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Journalists Who Hate Whistleblowers

      A disturbing trend in mainstream U.S. media is how many “star” journalists side with the government in its persecution of whistleblowers – and even disdain fellow reporters who expose secret wrongdoing, an attitude that is destroying what’s left of American democracy, as John Hanrahan explains.

    • Supreme court clears way for release of secret Prince Charles letters

      The UK supreme court has cleared the way for the publication of secret letters written by Prince Charles to British government ministers, declaring that an attempt by the state to keep them concealed was unlawful.

    • Accidentally Revealed FTC Document Details Some Questionable Google Practices, But Not The Ones Most People Focused On

      Last week, the Wall Street Journal published an article detailing how one part of the FTC, the competition bureau, wanted to go after Google for antitrust violations, claiming it was eventually “overruled” by the FTC’s commissioners who sided with the economic bureau that felt there was no real antitrust violations in Google’s practices. The WSJ got its hands on part of the internal report by accident — saying that the FTC inadvertently handed it over as a response to a different FOIA request, but that it was only part of the internal report. Late yesterday, the WSJ released the document it received (which you can see here in PDF form). Somewhat bizarrely, it’s every other page of the report, suggesting some sort of weird screwup inside the FTC.

  • Finance

    • The Case Against Raising Interest Rates Is Simple, Despite WaPo’s Efforts to Confuse It

      We yelled as loudly as we possibly could that there was a huge housing bubble that would sink the economy when it burst. Of course, papers like the Washington Post did not pay attention to us, because it did not fit their story that the Fed was an economic superman. Such nonsense was the conventional wisdom at the time, and the paper did not want to give those who challenged the claim a voice. Now it wants to pretend that people who understood the basic economics of the housing bubble, and the stock bubble before it, did not exist.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Manipulating Wikipedia to Promote a Bogus Business School

      No idea what “ArbCom” is? You’re not the only one. It’s the Wikipedia Arbitration Committee, the highest court in Wikipedia land. And Wifione was a Wikipedia “administrator” account, run by persons unknown, that was accused of manipulating the Wikipedia site of an unaccredited business school in India by deleting links to numerous media reports alleging it scammed students into paying hefty sums for worthless degrees.

    • New York Times Turns Ads Off On ‘Sensitive’ Stories

      There are no Google results for the tag, so it looks like it hasn’t been documented, but it seems like a pretty low-tech way to keep possibly insensitive ads off a very sensitive story—an admirable effort. It’s interesting in part because it’s almost an acknowledgement that ads are invasive and uncomfortable. They cross over into the intolerable range when we’re emotionally vulnerable from a tragic story. Advertisers know this too, and the New York Times might stipulate in contracts they’ll try to keep ads off sensitive pages.

    • Fox Claims That FBI Report That Doesn’t Cover Mass Shootings Falsified Mass Shooting Data

      Fox News relied on claims from discredited gun researcher John Lott to falsely suggest that an FBI report inflated the occurrence of mass shootings, possibly for political reasons. In fact, the report in question covered only “active shooter situations” and explicitly noted in its introduction, “This is not a study of mass killings or mass shootings.”

  • Censorship

    • UK Blocking More Than 100 Pirate Sites After New Court Order

      Major UK Internet providers must now block more than 100 piracy related websites after a new High Court order. The latest blocking round was issued on behalf of the major record labels and targets several MP3 download sites such as stafaband.info, rnbxclusive.se and plixid.com, as well as a search engine for the cloud hosting service Mega.co.nz.

    • How The Copyright Industry Wants To Undermine Anonymity & Free Speech: ‘True Origin’ Bills

      The way they work is pretty simple: they outlaw anonymity on the internet if your website distributes any kind of audiovisual work. The point of this is twofold: one, for those who “register” and reveal their name and address, it makes it easier for the RIAAs and MPAAs of the world to sue a site for copyright infringement. And, for those who don’t reveal their names, the RIAA and MPAA can ask the states to prosecute the site owners for failing to reveal their names.

    • Palestinian Journalists Under Fire

      Bashar Nazzal, a 36-year-old Palestine TV cameraman from Qalqiliya, had covered the Kafr Qaddum village demonstrations for the past four years. The demonstrations, held every Friday, protest the closure of the main road between the village and its closest neighbor, Nablus, as a result of Israeli expansion of the Kedumim settlement. The shooting occurred only minutes into the demonstration when Nazzal, who noted that he was easily identified as a member of the press, was filming a group of five armed Israeli soldiers. Despite an operation on his shattered shin, the injury has interfered with his ability to work. “Palestinian journalists claim there has been an increase in direct military assaults against them in the last year,” and many journalists interpret these assaults as a message from the IDF to stop covering Palestinian demonstrations.

    • Colombian Report on US Military’s Child Rapes Not Newsworthy to US News Outlets

      An 800-page independent report commissioned by the US-friendly Colombian government and the radical left rebel group FARC found that US military soldiers and contractors had sexually abused at least 54 children in Colombia between 2003 and 2007 and, in all cases, the rapists were never punished–either in Colombia or stateside–due to American military personnel being immune from prosecution under diplomatic immunity agreements between the two countries.

  • Privacy

    • All Austrian Parties in Parliament Back Measures Against NSA, GCHQ Spying

      At least that’s the case in Austria, where every single political party in the Austrian parliament – and there are six – signed on to a motion against illegal surveillance, citing their concerns about the US and others using their spy agencies such as the super-secret National Security Agency to eavesdrop on people abroad.

      There in fact was an uproar not too long when documents leaked by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden showed that the US had been listening in to German chancellor Angela Merkel’s phone calls.

    • Netanyahu’s Spying Denials Contradicted by Secret NSA Documents

      Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu yesterday vehemently denied a Wall Street Journal report, leaked by the Obama White House, that Israel spied on U.S. negotiations with Iran and then fed the intelligence to Congressional Republicans. His office’s denial was categorical and absolute, extending beyond this specific story to U.S.-targeted spying generally, claiming: “The state of Israel does not conduct espionage against the United States or Israel’s other allies.”

    • Apple Patent Tips Real-Time Route Tracking

      We’ve all received text messages from friends that say they are “almost there” or “five minutes away.” Apple, however, is working on technology that might help you track your tardy friend’s journey.

    • Music Group Wants ISPs to Spy on Customers to Stop Piracy

      In a response to the draft code tabled to deal with the Australian online-piracy problem, some of the world’s largest music publishers have presented a set of draconian measures. ISPs should not only use technology to spy on their own customers, but also to proactively block access to infringing content and websites.

    • We know where you’ve been: Ars acquires 4.6M license plate scans from the cops

      If you have driven in Oakland any time in the last few years, chances are good that the cops know where you’ve been, thanks to their 33 automated license plate readers (LPRs).

      Now Ars knows too.

      In response to a public records request, we obtained the entire LPR dataset of the Oakland Police Department (OPD), including more than 4.6 million reads of over 1.1 million unique plates between December 23, 2010 and May 31, 2014. The dataset is likely one of the largest ever publicly released in the United States—perhaps in the world.

    • Despite privacy policy, RadioShack customer data up for sale in auction

      RadioShack is trying to auction off its customer data on some 117 million customers as part of its court-supervised bankruptcy.

      The data in question, according to a legal challenge (PDF) launched by Texas regulators on Friday and joined by the state of Tennessee on Monday, includes “consumer names, phone numbers, mailing addresses, e-mail addresses, and, where allowed, activity data.”

      The states say the sale breaches the 94-year-old chain’s promises to its in-store and online customers that it would not sell their personal identifying information (PII) data.

    • Google’s New CFO Underscores Deep Ties Between Silicon Valley and Wall Street

      Google’s recruitment of Ruth Porat from Morgan Stanley to be chief financial officer is the latest example of Wall Street executives being lured to Silicon Valley to join the technology boom.

    • Facebook May Host News Sites’ Content
    • EU: Don’t use Facebook if you want to keep the NSA away from your data

      In a key case before the European Union’s highest court, the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU), the European Commission admitted yesterday that the US-EU Safe Harbor framework for transatlantic data transfers does not adequately protect EU citizens’ data from US spying. The European Commission’s attorney Bernhard Schima told the CJEU’s attorney general: “You might consider closing your Facebook account if you have one,” euobserver reports.

    • French Intelligence Bill: Everyone Under Surveillance

      While presenting the Intelligence bill adopted during the 19 March 2015 Council of Ministers, the Prime Minister proudly asserted that it contained “legal means of action but neither exceptional means nor the generalised surveillance of citizens”!

  • Civil Rights

    • Secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) – Investment Chapter

      WikiLeaks releases today the “Investment Chapter” from the secret negotiations of the TPP (Trans-Pacific Partnership) agreement. The document adds to the previous WikiLeaks publications of the chapters for Intellectual Property Rights (November 2013) and the Environment (January 2014).

      The TPP Investment Chapter, published today, is dated 20 January 2015. The document is classified and supposed to be kept secret for four years after the entry into force of the TPP agreement or, if no agreement is reached, for four years from the close of the negotiations.

    • More MPs criticise TTIP on transparency and ISDS

      Many people are concerned that Governments could be discouraged from passing new legislation due to ISDS.

    • Whistleblowers and the Press Heavyweights

      Sterling, who has never admitted leaking any classified information, nevertheless with his conviction joined the ranks of those whistleblowers and conduits for whistleblowers who have come under fire from prominent journalists for disclosing classified information to the press – e.g., Wikileaks, Julian Assange, Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning, Edward Snowden, John Kiriakou, and others.

    • Council of Europe (COE) Committee Calls for U.S. to Allow Snowden to Return Without Fear of Criminal Prosecution Under Certain Conditions

      The Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe (PACE) Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights called for COE and European Union member states to enact whistleblower protection laws that also cover national security and intelligence community employees. In a particularly significant development, the Committee’s draft resolution urged member states to grant asylum to whistleblowers threatened by retaliation.

      The resolution is based on a detailed report by the Committee that draws significantly on the experience of GAP client and NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden. Indeed, the resolution calls for the U.S. to allow Snowden to return without fear of criminal prosecution under laws that prevent a public interest defense, like the Espionage Act. This marks the first time that any inter-governmental body has called on the U.S. not to prosecute Snowden unless he is afforded the opportunity to raise a public interest defense, according to Sandra Coliver of the Open Society Foundation.

    • Rebranding McCain and Romney as Moderates to Facilitate a Sharp Right Turn

      Republicans have a similar media trope, but theirs works a little differently: GOP candidates run as rightists and lose as centrists.

    • It’s OK to leak government secrets – as long as it benefits politicians

      When it comes to classified information, some leaks are more equal than others. If you are a whistleblower like Edward Snowden, who tells the press about illegal, immoral or embarrassing government actions, you will face jail time. But it’s often another story for US government officials leaking information for their own political benefit.

    • After years in Guantanamo, ex-detainees find little solace in Uruguay

      Dhiab is a Syrian, and he spent 12 years in Guantanamo. Now he lives in Montevideo with three other Syrians, a Palestinian and a Tunisian, all former prisoners at the U.S. detention facility in Cuba. In a week’s worth of long and candid conversations, he acknowledged that the transition to life in a Latin American capital has not been easy.

    • “Help! My boys were stopped three times by police for being outside unsupervised”

      Another mom grows incensed by a parenting culture gone mad, but we have to turn frustration into connection

    • Federal court rejects Third Amendment claim against police officers

      Back in 2013, a lot of attention focused on a Third Amendment claim against Henderson, Nevada police officers. I wrote about the case here. The Third Amendment, which forbids the “quartering” of “soldiers” in private homes without the owner’s consent, is often the butt of jokes because it is so rarely litigated. But in this case, a Nevada family claimed that local police had violated the Amendment by forcibly occupying their home in order to gain a “tactical advantage” against suspected criminals in the neighboring house.

    • Senator Wants To Know Why The US Marshals Asset Forfeiture Division Is Blowing Money On $10,000 Tables

      Asset forfeiture — both at state and national levels — is receiving some intense scrutiny, thanks to unflattering coverage in major news outlets like the New York Times and Washington Post. Attorney General Eric Holder made some minor cuts to the DOJ’s participation in states’ forfeiture programs. Meanwhile, at the state level, legislators have introduced bills targeting these programs’ perverted incentives — namely, that the agency performing the asset seizure usually benefits directly from the “forfeited” wealth.

    • Speaker election: Tearful Charles Walker clapped by MPs

      An MP has claimed he has been “played like a fool” by government ministers over a bid to change the way the Speaker is elected to the House of Commons after the general election.

    • Suicide Rates Among US Adults Rise Dramatically

      A study published in the American Journal of Preventative Medicine has found that the rate of suicide for adults between 40 and 64 years of age has risen by close to 40% since 1999. Since 2007 the increase has been especially striking. Analysis factoring in potential motivation for the act suggests a linkage to the 2007-2009 economic crisis and its impact on the financial wherewithal of millions around the world.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Latest Assault on Net Neutrality Launched at Telecom Industry-Funded Think Tank

      Rep. Greg Walden, R-Ore., last week addressed the Free State Foundation to announce his new plan to undermine recently enacted net neutrality rules by going after the funding of the Federal Communications Commission, the agency behind the decision.

      The FCC’s approach to net neutrality represents “potential untenable rules and regulatory overreach that will hurt consumers,” said Walden, the chair of the House Subcommittee on Communications and Technology, speaking at the foundation’s annual Telecom Policy Conference. Walden outlined a plan to limit FCC appropriations, cap its other revenue sources, and change the hiring process for the FCC’s inspector general.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • IOC Forces School To Remove Rings From Crest For Some Reason

        Have you thought about the Olympics lately? No? Then I guess you didn’t drive past any of the tiny little schools in this itty bitty school district in the Poconos in Pennsylvania that serves a population of almost twenty-five thousand whole people, because, if you had, the International Olympic Committee is quite certain you would have been all, “Oh, look, that must be a school run by the Olympics for some reason.” Otherwise, the IOC’s pressuring the district to re-draw this district crest would make no sense.

    • Copyrights

      • Netflix Wants to Make VPN Piracy Obsolete

        In recent months Hollywood has pushed Netflix to ensure that VPN users can’t access their services. Netflix honors these requests, but according to CEO Reed Hastings there’s a better way to deal with the issue. The company would like to get rid of Hollywood’s geographical restrictions entirely and render ‘VPN piracy’ obsolete.

      • Open Letter To Key EU Copyright Working Group Calls For ‘Balanced Representation Of Views’

        Back in January, we wrote about the report from the Pirate Party MEP Julia Reda, which made a number of bold but sensible proposals for reforming the EU’s 2001 copyright directive. Not surprisingly, the lobbyists have been hard at work, and no less than 556 amendments to the report have been proposed (pdf), many of them clearly aiming to undermine some of Reda’s ideas completely — for example, those seeking to rein in DRM.

      • U.S. Government Wins Dozens of Millions From Kim Dotcom

        The U.S. Government has won its civil forfeiture case against Megaupload and Kim Dotcom. As a result, the U.S. now owns Kim Dotcom’s bank accounts, cars, art and other property worth dozens of millions of dollars. Megaupload’s founder describes the ruling as unjust and says his team will file an appeal at a higher court.

03.25.15

Links 25/3/2015: India Moving to Free Software

Posted in News Roundup at 12:27 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source and DevOps aren’t mandatory, but neither is survival

    I can’t recall the exact time I learned about open source software, but I can certainly narrow down the place. I quickly realized how transformative it could be. In 1996, I was sitting in the tech support department of a large ISP that provided hosting and connectivity to the Fortune 1000. Most of our servers ran Solaris, floppy disks arrived via snail mail, and we applied security updates manually adhering to a regime of updates and invoices prescribed by Sun Microsystems. It was a huge change from my university career of dumb terminals and mainframes.

  • How open source can improve your software’s security

    Let’s be blunt: your code is full of security holes. Just as bad, your employees are careless with passwords and other ways of cracking into your data.

    Hence, while we may wring our hands over security breaches at Target, Morgan Stanley, or dozens of other breaches, the reality is that the only reason your company has yet to be cracked is that hackers haven’t bothered to try. Yet.

  • Govt formulates policy on adoption of open source software

    The Government on Wednesday formulated a ‘Policy on Adoption of Open Source Software for Government of India’ that would encourage the formal adoption and use of Open Source Software (OSS) in Government organisations.

    Currently most eGovernance solutions are developed using Closed Source Software (CSS), which is licensed under the exclusive legal right of the copyright holder. In that the users’ right to make modifications, sharing, studying, redistribution or reverse engineering is limited.

  • What the New York Times CIO asks when evaluating open source software

    In this interview, New York Times CIO Marc Frons explains how his teams evaluate whether to use open source or proprietary software and the simple question that helps guide the conversation.

  • Why Amnesty International uses Booktype 2.0 for report publishing

    Human rights NGO Amnesty International, a movement of more than seven million people, released its Annual Report for 2014-15 at the end of February. This 500+ page print book is published simultaneously in English, French, Spanish, and Arabic, and translated into 12 other languages by local teams. It is composed of 160 detailed chapters written by regional experts on the human rights situation in most of the countries of the world.

  • Action Launcher 3.3 released with new open-source Live Wallpaper API
  • Events

    • Two microconferences accepted for the Linux Plumbers Conference

      The Checkpoint/Restart and Energy-aware scheduling and CPU power management microconferences will be held at LPC.

    • Shevirah Set to Break Into Mobile Penetration Testing Market

      Weidman, no stranger to the world of mobile security, was the recipient of a Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA) Cyber Fast Track grant in 2012 for her open-source Smartphone Pentest Framework project. In 2015, Weidman has been accepted into the Mach37 Cybersecurity accelerator program, which invests in security startups and provides tools and training to launch companies.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • Scaling

      ownCloud runs on small Raspberry Pi’s for your friends and family at home but also on huge clusters of web servers where it can serve over hundreds of thousands of users and petabytes of data. The current Raspberry Pi doesn’t deliver blazing fast performance but it works and the new raspberry pi 2 announced last month should be great hardware for small ownCloud deployments. Big deployments like the one in Germany or at CERN are usually ‘spread out’ over multiple servers, which brings us to the secret sauce that makes scalable software possible.

    • MapR Notes Big Demand for Free Hadoop Training Offerings

      Recently, MapR Technologies, focused on Hadoop, has been out with some interesting announcements that we covered. We also interviewed the company’s Tomer Shiran (shown), who noted that there is a serious lack of job candidates with advanced Hadoop and data analytics skills. He added that MapR is providing free online training for Hadoop. Now, there is some evidence of how popular the free training has been, with the training program enrolling more than 10,000 registrants worldwide in its first 30 days.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • Healthcare

    • Why open source is key to mHealth data standards

      Open source software that allows for sharing and integration of mHealth data poses tremendous benefit for diagnosing, treating and preventing disease as well as the development of a more tailored patient healthcare strategy, according to Ida Sim, Ph.D, professor of medicine at University of California, San Francisco.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • GCC 5 Compiler will be released soon

      And the developers expect to have the final version ready probably at the end of April, this year.

    • LibrePlanet 2015 brings free software luminaries to MIT

      The 2015 LibrePlanet free software conference drew nearly 350 activists from around the world to discuss issues of freedom, privacy, and security in computing. Free Software Foundation founder and president Richard Stallman delivered the opening keynote, “Free software, free hardware, and other things” before a packed room at MIT’s Stata Center, with hundreds of remote participants tuning in online.

    • GNU Manifesto Published Thirty Years Ago

      It was in March 1985 that Richard Stallman first set out his belief in the ideal of Free Software with the publication of the GNU Manifesto.

      [...]

      If you have always referred to Linux as just “Linux” then you might be surprised to know that the FSF claims that it really should always be called “GNU/Linux”. There is also now a modified GNU/Linux system that has all proprietary and non-free code removed – Linux-libre.

  • Project Releases

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • Intro to Grace: an open source educational programming language

      When it comes to picking a programming language to use when teaching people how to program, there are many, many options. Scratch is a good choice when teaching the basics because of its drag and drop building block method of programming. Python or Ruby are also good choices—both languages have a straight-forward syntax, are used in major real-world projects, and have excellent communities and supplemental projects built around them. Or there is Java, Objective-C, and C#, which are solid programming languages and marketable job skills. Honestly, they are all good choices, but when it comes to teaching programming in an academic setting, are they really the best way to go about doing it?

Leftovers

  • Germanwings to Cancel More Flights as Crew Members Refuse to Fly

    Germanwings will have to cancel more flights today as some crew members refuse to fly, a day after an Airbus A320 operated by the budget arm of Lufthansa crashed in the French Alps.

    “There will be irregularities… There are crew members who do not want to fly in the current situation, which we understand,” a spokeswoman for Germanwings said.

  • Germanwings Is An Example Of European Carriers Trying To Compete In The Budget Airline Game

    Germanwings, the airline operating Flight 9525 that crashed in the French Alps Tuesday, may not be well known outside Europe. But the low-cost carrier owned by Lufthansa Group is emblematic of a trend many flag carriers in Europe are embracing: launching their own budget airlines for short-haul flights to compete with wildly successful low-cost carriers that have snatched 26 percent of market share in Europe.

  • Security

    • Google Hit Again by Unauthorized SSL/TLS Certificates

      The purpose of an SSL/TLS digital certificate is to provide a degree of authenticity and integrity to an encrypted connection. The SSL/TLS certificate helps users positively identify sites, but what happens when a certificate is wrongly issued? Just ask Google, which has more experience than most in dealing with this issue.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • New York Times: Nuclear Establishment Tool

      The New York Times’ longtime nuclear power reporter, Matthew Wald, has announced that he’s been hired as the senior director of policy analysis and strategic planning for the Nuclear Energy Institute, the chief lobbying arm of the nuclear industry. Investigative reporter Karl Grossman wrote a piece a few years ago on the ties between the Times and the nuclear power establishment that go back to the dawn of the Atomic Age.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Jeb Bush Returns to the Washington Fund-Raising Well

      Mr. Bush, the former Florida governor, has sounded that theme regularly in his fledgling presidential campaign. But even as he positions himself as a Washington outsider, he seems to have mastered a skill that is crucial in this city: tapping into the money-raising clout of the K Street lobbyists, political operatives, superlawyers and business leaders in Washington’s permanent class.

    • Information Warfare: Automated Propaganda and Social Media Bots

      NATO has announced that it is launching an “information war” against Russia.

      The UK publicly announced a battalion of keyboard warriors to spread disinformation.

      It’s well-documented that the West has long used false propaganda to sway public opinion.

      Western military and intelligence services manipulate social media to counter criticism of Western policies.

  • Privacy

    • Britain’s Surveillance State

      Edward Snowden exposed the extent of mass surveillance conducted not just by the United States but also by allies like Britain. Now, a committee of the British Parliament has proposed legal reforms to Britain’s intelligence agencies that are mostly cosmetic and would do little to protect individual privacy.

    • On CISA the Surveillance Bill

      After the Senate Intelligence Committee passed CISA, its sole opponent, Ron Wyden, said, “If information-sharing legislation does not include adequate privacy protections then that’s not a cybersecurity bill – it’s a surveillance bill by another name.” Robert Graham, an expert on intrusion-prevention, argues, “This is a bad police-state thing. It will do little to prevent attacks, but do a lot to increase mass surveillance.”

  • Civil Rights

    • White House chief of staff: 50 years of Israeli occupation must end

      White House Chief of Staff Denis McDonough made it clear Monday that the crisis in U.S.-Israeli relations over the issue of a Palestinian state has not dissipated, despite efforts by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to clarify remarks he made late in the election campaign that no such state would be established on his watch.

    • The $450 an Hour Terror Industry Echo Chamber

      Matthew Levitt, a prominent figure in the Terror Industry, has been testifying in the Dzhokhar Tsarnaev trial. He’s one of a number of noted figures who gets presented as experts at trials who doesn’t speak Arabic, who hasn’t bothered to learn Arabic over the course of years of this work.

      Yesterday, Levitt spent several hours explaining how the explanation Dzhokhar wrote on a boat in Watertown had to have come from Anwar al-Awlaki’s propaganda.

      Just before Levitt testified yesterday, he RTed an article describing him as the expert that would testify at Dzhokhar’s trial. As soon as he got done, he RTed several more articles about his own testimony, describing himself as an “expert” “decoding” the boat. And then, for good measure, he RTed a livetweet from his own testimony.

      Today, on cross, it became clear the Awlaki propaganda on Dzhokhar’s computer was all Levitt got from prosectors. He didn’t know how long it had been on Dzhokhar’s computer. Nor did he know what else Dzhokhar has read. He also doesn’t know much about Chechnya, except in the context of Jihad. And though Levitt testified yesterday that there always must be a “radicalizer,” he did not know, nor was he asked, to identify the “radicalizer” in Dzhokhar’s life.

    • In Defense of Doing Wrong

      I want to say that it’s the wrong answer to the wrong question. It’s the wrong answer because we all have a lot to hide. We all talk and behave scandalously, and if all that [information] were available to everybody, it would cause no end of grief. It’s the wrong question because, as you’ve heard from all three of my fellow panelists tonight, privacy isn’t fundamentally about secrecy. It’s about things like autonomy—we’ve heard dignity, liberty, power, control, and maybe we’ll talk about that later. – See more at: http://thepointmag.com/2015/politics/in-defense-of-doing-wrong#sthash.fQbKXkkE.dpuf

    • The Barrett Brown Review of Arts and Letters and Jail: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Prison
    • A Prosecutor Seeks Redemption. Can We Allow Prisoners the Same?

      BY NOW MANY have read and been moved by the extraordinary mea culpa published in the Shreveport Times by a man named Marty Stroud III, who more than thirty years ago sent Glenn Ford to die for a crime he did not commit.

    • NYT Reported Japanese Internment as ‘Pioneering Chapter in US History’

      Reporter Lawrence E. Davies described the first internees as “weary but gripped with the spirit of adventure over a new pioneering chapter in American history.” This rah-rah treatment continued throughout the article: The internees were said to have begun “assembling long before daylight near the Pasadena Rose Bowl, scene of many a great football game.” Their destination was “a new reception center rising as if by magic at the foot of snow-capped peaks.”

      Only two internees are quoted in the article. One, Arthur Hirano, a former New York City chef, says: “This is a wonderful place. We didn’t expect such fine treatment.” Another, Mike Nishida, who is scheduled to join the US military, says, “I’m going up there to do any job they put me on in the meantime.”

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

Another Reason to Boycott UEFI: Back Doors or Crackers

Posted in Hardware, Microsoft at 3:39 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: UEFI makes computers more prone to infections, according to some security experts

THE abusive Intel spreads UEFI to help the abusive Microsoft by means of lockout (there have been many articles about that as of late). It serves to protect the Windows monopoly and protect Intel’s monopoly (with UEFI patents that we highlighted previously). Our posts about UEFI contain a lot of examples of that. UEFI ‘secure’ boot is not really about security and in some ways it makes security even worse, as we showed on numerous occasions before. UEFI can enable espionage agencies (such as GCHQ, NSA and so on) to remotely brick PCs, rendering them unbootable (no matter the operating system). Remember Stuxnet.

There are several new reports which say that UEFI has got additional ways in which it makes computers less secure. To quote the British media: “The high amount of code reuse across UEFI BIOSes means that BIOS infection can be automatic and reliable.”

To quote some US media: “Though such “voodoo” hacking will likely remain a tool in the arsenal of intelligence and military agencies, it’s getting easier, Kallenberg and Kovah believe. This is in part due to the widespread adoption of UEFI, a framework that makes it easier for the vendors along the manufacturing chain to add modules and tinker with the code.”

Next time Intel or Microsoft insist that UEFI is needed for ‘security’ we should have stronger arguments with which to debunk such myths. It’s marketing of monopolies disguised as “advancement”.

The EPO’s Administrative Council is Under Increased Pressure to Rein in and to Finally Stop Benoît Battistelli

Posted in Europe, Patents at 3:24 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The EPO’s Administrative Council (AC) is about to have a meeting, so the Member States’ delegations are urged to call for action

AS UNLIKELY as it is to ever happen, since the Administrative Council is pretty much in Battistelli’s pocket (loyal to Battistelli), Merpel wrote an open letter to the Administrative Council asking for actions to be taken only days ahead of a big meeting.

“The below email,” says a new source of ours, “was sent to the Delegations of the EPO’s Administrative Council”. It was sent in “preparation of the Administrative Council meeting on 25 and 26 March 2015″ (tomorrow and Friday).

This was sent to “heads and members of the Member States’ delegations to the Administrative Council of the European Patent Organisation [and] Mr Grandjean” (the Chairman).

Here is the letter [PDF]:

By email to Heads of Delegation

17 March 2015

Open letter

Questions to the Heads of Delegation of the Administrative Council of the EPO

Dear Heads of Delegation,

There has been some criticism of the Administrative Council on the internet recently, but one of the more constructive contributions we noticed were two questions posted on the IPKat blog, and directed to the UK delegation1. In quoting them here, we have generalised them:

1. What, for your country, are the big issues at the EPO that you see, especially in terms of the staff’s working conditions, as being a risk for the long-term future of the Office?

2. What aspects of the issues in your answer to the first question made it worth taking the risk of breaching international law (such as the European Convention on Human Rights) when you voted in the Council?

The commentator on IPKat stresses that he does not wish to be controversial. Rather, it would be his hope to have some openness on the Council delegations’ thinking, so people could understand better the steps they have taken. We agree that it would be helpful if you could take a public position on the above questions. You could, for example, contact IPKat, or simply have a meeting with your nationals among the staff at the EPO, and give your answers there.

Attached to this mail, you will find a document expressing some thoughts and ideas which you will perhaps find useful in your deliberations.

With our thanks in advance for the time you give to this letter and its attachment.

Yours sincerely

The EPO-Flier Team
a group of concerned staff of the EPO who wish to remain anonymous
due to the prevailing harsh social climate and absence of rule of law at the European Patent Office

____________________________________
1 http://ipkitten.blogspot.co.uk/2015/02/breaking-news-uk-government-issues.html
The original questions were posted on 26 February at 17:09 hrs

Along with the letter the following text [PDF] was sent, highlighting “[f]ive reasons why the EPO’s president is bad for the EPO”:

17 March 2015

EPO FLIER No. 16

The EPO-FLIER wants to provide staff with uncensored, independent information at times of social conflict.

Five reasons why the EPO’s president is bad for the EPO, and for Europe

Benoît Battistelli took office as President of the EPO on 1 July 2010 and is scheduled to leave on 30 June 2018. Based on his record to date, it seems likely that whenever he goes, his successor will have a mess to clean up. This article suggests five reasons for this.

Reason 1: A legacy of alleged human rights abuse that damages the reputation of all international organisations

The EPO and most other international organisations benefit from immunity from local jurisdiction in the performance of their work. This is not in order to give them a blank cheque to behave
whatever way they like. Rather, “Independence is … an embodiment of the equality of Member States. Member States may be considered shareholders that maintain separate identities from that of the organization. They own equal shares with equal distribution of power both in terms of management and decision-making.”1
In order to avoid human rights violations, the Council of Europe proposed a number of options to increase the accountability of international organisations and to limit their immunity where it is not essential for their functioning2.

The accusations against Battistelli of human rights abuse within the EPO are, amongst others, in respect to new internal rules to curb the powers of the union and the staff representatives3. He has restricted the right to strike, prohibited any other form of industrial action, and throttled the right of union and staff representatives to address their constituencies freely3, 4. He has introduced an election procedure for staff representatives that has no parallel in the western world4.

His investigation guidelines do not include the right of an accused to remain silent or to have legal counsel. The rule of law is absent4.
_____________
1 http://chinesejil.oxfordjournals.org/content/10/1/97.full
2 http://www.assembly.coe.int/nw/xml/XRef/X2H-Xref-ViewPDF.asp?FileID=20310&lang=en
3 http://ipkitten.blogspot.co.at/2015/02/can-suepo-sue-epo-it-now-seems-so.html
4 http://ipkitten.blogspot.co.uk/2014/05/more-news-of-epounrest-reaches-ipkat.html


His medical guidelines give him the power to force staff to undergo medical examinations by a doctor of his choosing, whenever he decides, even in the staff member’s own home.

Most of these measures are subject to legal challenges and we will one day know which of them the courts consider to be breaches of human rights. For the purpose of this article, we do not
need to know the outcome of all those cases. It is enough to note the pattern – the EPO’s president is walking a very thin line, probably outside the law, at least in the view of the Dutch appeal court judges in their recent judgment, which received considerable attention across the IP community3,5.

For what used to call itself a “model European organisation”, this goes way too far. It is not just damaging to the EPO to see the comments on the internet about these alleged breaches, but it exposes all international organisations to unwanted public scrutiny. After all, the member states of the European Patent Organisation are democratic countries based on the rule of law.
The EPO should be “whiter than white” when it comes to respecting fundamental rights.

Cedric Ryngaert, senior lecturer in international law in Utrecht said in an interview with the Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant: “International organisations are putting themselves even more above the law, although it’s already a problem.”6

Siegfried Broß, a former judge of the German Constitutional Court, recently commented that the European states, including Germany, should never have ratified the EPC since “it places the fundamental and human rights of EPO employees at the disposition of the Office Administration7.
_____________
5 http://ipkitten.blogspot.co.at/2015/02/the-epo-privilegedand-immune-says_24.html
6 http://www.volkskrant.nl/binnenland/opstelten-uitspraakrechter-geldt-niet-voor-europese-instelling~a3873491/
7 Recht haben und Recht bekommen, Süddeutsche Zeitung, 27.02.2015; http://www.suepo.org/archive/ex15092cp.pdf


Reason 2: Changing staff’s working conditions without regard to the consequences for the patent system

What does this attitude toward the most fundamental of rights tell us about the Office’s attitude to other forms of legal process, such as patent granting and appeals procedures?

Normally, outsiders would say that it is an internal matter for the EPO if the management and the staff are at odds about working conditions. And normally, this would be correct. At the EPO,
however, there are wider implications than for a regular employer.

Let us just consider the financial side of things. First of all, the EPO is not supposed to make a profit, so it needs to balance income and expenditure. If the staff costs drop by, say, 20%, due to a reformed career system, then it will need to drop its income by a corresponding amount. Will it decrease its fees? Then the EPO will return to balanced books. However, it is already in that situation today, so why will balanced books in the future be better than the balanced books it has today? Are lower fees so important that it is worth damaging the motivation of highly competent and professional staff?

Then there is the question of pensions and medical insurance. If staff salaries drop by 20% then contributions to the pension and medical insurance schemes will also drop accordingly. The
office will be forced to react. It will either increase contributions, which may be difficult considering they are already high, or reduce the benefits, thus once more making it a less attractive employer.

Beyond the financial considerations, there is the wider question of how to treat a body of staff with the talent and qualifications that EPO staff have. EPO workers are highly educated people, but they are not treated as such. New rules are imposed upon them without reasonable consultation with their representatives and an explanation of why the new rules are necessary. Battistelli’s effect on morale is evident to anyone who makes the effort to speak to staff members. They are demoralised, and very sad at seeing what is happening to the proud organisation they work for. This sadness is likely to lead to demotivation or resignation, and will have an impact on the functioning of the EPO. The fact that the outside world has not noticed a significant change in the quality of the EPO’s work is testimony to the professionalism and dedication of its staff. Up to now, staff have worked despite their president, not thanks to his inspirational leadership. But morale is suffering and cracks are starting to appear. The drop in morale is already so widespread that the impact will be significant. Exactly what that impact is, will become clear with time. It is unlikely to be positive.


We predict that staff will give up trying to maintain quality under the pressure of production8,9.

Those setting the priorities may like to reflect on something that Forbes10 published: “’Efficiency’ in the private sector means profit. Hence, to ask that the government be run like a business is tantamount to asking that the government turn a profit. The problem in a nutshell, is that not everything that is profitable is of social value and not everything of social value is profitable”.

Reason 3: Alleged cronyism brings his home country, France, and much of Europe into disrepute

France has had its share of scandals when it comes to cronyism at the top. Edith Cresson was forced out of office as European Commissioner when it came to light that she had engaged a
personal friend as a “visiting scientist”. Jacques Chirac was convicted of corruption for paying members of his party for jobs that did not exist. And now, even IMF President Christine Lagarde is under investigation for negligence in a corruption case.

France can have no interest in another of its high-ranking nationals being accused of creating jobs for his friends and relatives. Yet Battistelli stands accused of exactly that. Since joining the EPO, he has put French citizens in many of the key positions: Head of International Co-operation, Head of Human Resources, Member of External Audit, Head of IT and Head of Internal Communication. No matter how qualified and deserving these people are, this just looks bad. A balanced and Europe-minded president would have avoided any risk whatever of favouritism. Instead, all dealings with the member states, every HR decision, and other aspects of the EPO’s work are susceptible to criticism that they are tainted by a conflict of interest.

Europe is on the whole very sensitive to conflicts of interest in high office, and the EPO is no different, as revealed in the recent decision of the Enlarged Board of Appeal R19/12, which
addressed the dual role of the Vice-President of DG 3 as part of the EPO management and simultaneously as a chairman of the Enlarged Board of Appeal. It said, “Es reicht aus, das eine Besorgnis, d. h. ein Anschein, der Befangenheit vorliegt” (see Entscheidungsgründe, paragraph 7) (“It is enough that there is concern, i.e. an impression of impartiality”).
_____________
8 http://www.fosspatents.com/2014/12/european-patentoffice-examiners-fear.html
9 http://www.ip-watch.org/2014/12/10/epo-supervisory-bodyto-face-patent-quality-judicial-independence-fears/
10 http://www.forbes.com/sites/johntharvey/2012/10/05/government-vs-business/


Reason 4: Behaviour that has led to the complete discrediting of the Administrative Council as a supervisory body

Almost one year ago, French MP Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’ spoke about “l’incompréhensible placidité” (the unfathomable placidness) of the Administrative Council.11 With these two simple words, he encapsulated an issue that is likely to reverberate for many years12,13,14,15.

Why has the Administrative Council simply rubber-stamped all of Battistelli’s submissions to them?

Basically Mr Battistelli has set sail on a collision course and his overseers are doing nothing about it. He, and thanks to him, the EPO, and the entire European Patent Organisation, are in the processing of colliding:

· with Human Rights (and Dutch courts)
· with EPO staff
· with the European Patent Convention (e.g. the house ban of a member of the Boards of Appeal9, and the likely effects of the reformed career on patent quality8)
· with IP interested circles and the public
· with the stakeholders of the European patent system

With the endorsement of the house ban by the Administrative Council, it has become clear that the Council itself is prepared to cruise on the absolute limit of the law, possibly cross that limit.

An explanation for part, if not all, of this must surely lie in the bizarre but true fact that the Administrative Council approves the budget for the office’s international co-operation. In other words, they, as Council delegates, are the approving body for the money used to subsidise them in their role as national patent offices. They approve the overall budget, based on a proposal from the president; then the president decides how to distribute it. Theoretically, Battistelli simply has to award and withdraw subsidies as a reward or punishment for votes in Council decisions, and Council delegates will soon learn what they have to do to get a reward. What happens in reality, no one is saying.

And it gets worse. The countries for which patents play a vital economic role are in the minority in the
_____________
11 http://www.pyleborgn.eu/2014/04/interrogations-sur-lagouvernance-de-loffice-europeen-des-brevets/
12 http://www.fosspatents.com/2015/01/pressure-mounts-onepo-president-and.html
13 http://ipkitten.blogspot.de/2014/12/what-is-eatingeuropean-patent-office.html
14 http://ipkitten.blogspot.de/2015/01/developments-ateuropean-patent-office.html
15 http://ipkitten.blogspot.de/2014/12/battistelli-andkongstad-respond-to-epo.html


Administrative Council. So for most delegates, they vote on topics that don’t have any relevance for them. They’ve nothing personally to lose or gain, except for Battistelli’s favour.

The behaviour of the Administrative Council has now become the topic of discussion forums on the internet12, especially IPKat13,14,15. The pressure is already mounting for a fundamental review of who governs the European Patent Organisation, and how. Maybe this will ultimately be one good thing that comes out of Battistelli’s tenure as president, but it is probably not something that he intends or wants. And it is certainly something that will introduce more uncertainty into European patenting until things settle down again, which may take years.

Reason 5: A complete lack of vision and strategy for a patent system fit for Europe

You could forgive an impassioned leader who brought in a few friends to help him achieve a truly worthy goal. Or one who ignored a few rules. Or even one that damaged an organisation’s short-term reputation in the long-term interest.

Battistelli is, however, not an impassioned leader. He has not described his vision for the European patent system of tomorrow. He has not explained why his actions will be good for the European economy or for innovation. He hasn’t even said why what he is doing will be good for the EPO.

This apparent lack of strategy might of course be a veil for a strategy that exists but would never be accepted by stakeholders if he were to go public. Or it could simply be that his behaviour is based on jealousy and greed, and on a thirst for power. He does it because he can.

Commentators are beginning to realise that there is no strategy statement, no justification for what is going on. Various IP blogs show a growing sense of unease about the future of the EPO. The catalyst for this was the house-ban imposed on a member of the Boards of Appeal, but the commentators clearly understand that the issue is wider than that15. When the European patent system was created, its founders were united in the belief that it had to exist on the principle of a “high presumption of validity”. Through his acts, Battistelli is showing that he questions this most fundamental of concepts. He has not said it, but the measures he has taken indicate that his values and his goals lie elsewhere. Commentators are picking up on this and are increasingly asking what the long-term consequences of the current developments at the EPO will be12-16,17.
_____________
16 http://www.fosspatents.com/2015_02_01_archive.html
17 http://www.fosspatents.com/2015/03/epo-human-rightsissues-and-eu-patent.html


We can but hope that, echoing the March 2015 information letter of French MP Pierre-Yves Le Borgn’18, the commentators’ voices will grow, and that they will be heard by the people who have the authority to do something about the situation at the EPO before it is too late.
_____________
18 http://www.pyleborgn.eu/2015/03/office-europeen-des-brevets-a-quand-la-sortie-de-crise/

This “EPO-FLIER” was mentioned by WIPR, which wrote: “A group of staff at the European Patent Office (EPO) has written to the office’s supervisory body, the Administrative Council, explaining why it thinks the office’s president Benoît Battistelli is “bad for Europe”.

“In a letter sent yesterday (March 17), the workers outlined five reasons to back up their claims. They cited allegations of human rights abuses, changes to staff’s working conditions, cronyism, a failure of the AC to hold Battistelli to account, and a lack of strategy.”

“After the EPO’s reaction to the WIPR publication,” told us a source, “the EPO-FLIER team spontaneously decided to go for another publication: EPO-FLIER No. 17 [which] also reflects some statements Mr Battistelli made in the interview with NRC Handelsblad.”

“It is public,” we were told, “and you can make use of it and its content, in case you want to.” Here is EPO-FLIER numbeer 17[PDF]. It is titled “Lies – damned lies” and it mentions Dutch newspapers:

22 March 2015

EPO FLIER No. 17

The EPO-FLIER wants to provide staff with uncensored, independent information at times of social conflict.

Lies, damned lies and EPO management statements

There is incredulity everywhere when you ask people’s opinions on the “Statement from the Management” that appeared on the EPO website last week. For those who missed it, just google ‘No, the EPO is not violating fundamental human rights’ or go to IPKat1 and enjoy the read. But be warned, it may make you cry, either with laughter at the ridiculousness of the text, or with pity at the patheticness of it.

In terms of its tone, this has to be the lowest the Office has ever sunk in its communiqués to the outside world. Written in a language that is both arrogant and childish at the same time, it implicitly accuses Dutch judges of incompetence. It then claims that a German court ruled that the EPO was respecting human rights, which – as far as we know – no German court has ever done: Battistelli’s highest ranked legal expert, VP5 Raimund Lutz2 recently said that the German court had neither entered into the substance NOR taken a decision on this matter3. But that did not hinder him from signing the communiqué stating just the opposite.

Going back a couple of weeks, Communiqué No. 694 (announcing that the Office would not execute the Dutch judgment) was more shocking than previous missives because it showed just how far from reality Battistelli has slipped – and it revealed his true face, full of disrespect, disdain even, for his fellow humans, for the principles upon which post-War Europe was built, and for the law. Despite this, he did not actually say the judgment was wrong, focusing more on his refusal to execute it. The new announcement, on the other hand, was public denial, this time by the entire Management Committee (MAC), of any breach of fundamental human rights at the EPO. It is noteworthy that the statement (the first from the entire MAC, we believe, since Battistelli took power) came exactly a week before the next Council meeting. What will Battistelli tell the delegations this time, and how long will the closed (nonpublic) session last?

Growing signs of panic

The pressure is clearly growing on Battistelli and his followers. They are making mistakes more often, and those mistakes are more damaging than before. Is it a coincidence that Flier No. 16 (“Five reasons …”) came out just hours before this absurd act from the EPO’s management? We have received a lot of compliments for it, so maybe it was one element amid all the criticism they face that drove them to take such panic measures.

In an interview in a Dutch newspaper5, published on 21 March, Battistelli struggles to give credible answers to the journalist’s well-worded questions. He clumsily blames

_____
1 http://ipkitten.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/the-epo-breaks-silence-to-say-no-epo-is.html
2 https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Raimund_Lutz
3 http://ipkitten.blogspot.co.uk/2015/03/the-epo-breaks-silence-to-say-no-epo-is.html (18.03.2015 18:56:00 GMT)
4 http://ipkitten.blogspot.co.at/2015/02/the-epo-privileged-and immune-says_24.html
5 ‘Ik ben geen zonnekoning’, NRC Handelsblad, 21.03.2015


the staff union: “… the staff union SUEPO runs a systematic counter campaign, with unjust information, via media, politicians and now even judges.” (“Maar de vakbond SUEPO voert een systematische tegencampagne, met onjuiste informatie, via media, politici en nu ook rechters”). His position on the Dutch judgment is as follows: “The Court in The Hague committed a legal mistake by not recognising our immunity. Then the court interpreted the facts wrongly.” (“Het Hof in Den Haag heeft een juridische vergissing begaan door onze immuniteit niet te erkennen. Daarnaast heeft het Hof de feiten die er zijn onjuist geïnterpreteerd.”). We leave it to our readers to draw their own conclusions on this.

Time for a change

It must now be clear to everyone, including the delegations to the Administrative Council, that the current situation cannot continue. The EPO is becoming a laughing stock. We know who is to blame for this, but the damage affects the entire European patent system and the values upon which it was built.

Patent attorney Wouter Pors6 makes it clear that Battistelli has failed as a manager: “Whoever is right in the many social conflicts at the EPO, as president of that organization you have to find a way to tackle these issues, instead of turning your back to the unions, ignoring court decisions, prohibiting strikes and threatening with disciplinary measures against people who complain. You have to be able to go into a dialogue.” We say it is too late for dialogue with Battistelli – he has irretrievably lost the trust of the staff, and everyone else. He must go, and so must those who have helped him, so that we can start the hard work of restoring the European Patent Organisation to the great institution it used to be.


Here are a few examples of what others are saying, taken from the IPKat blog1:

“EPO management is making a big gamble. If the reforms of the working conditions are declared invalid in 5-10 years, the mess will be rather substantial. But before that time national constitutional courts might already have blown the European patent system to pieces by ruling that the boards of appeal, or what’s left of them, are not a court. Is the AC at all aware of these risks?” (18.03.2015, 22:39:00 GMT)

“There is still time to avert the implosion of the EPC based system – but it would require that the AC accepts its responsibilities and takes the necessary steps to exercise supervision of the Office as required by Art. 4 EPC.
More specifically, it must:
- stop now to rubberstamp the president’s proposals
- demand full transparency for all financial matters, such as, for example:
>> the president’s remuneration
>> the financing of the new building in The Hague
>> all “projects” with the member states financed by the EPO
>> all the president’s travel and hospitality expenses
It seems late in the day, but with swift and decisive action the AC could halt the destruction and even restore some semblance of integrity to the Office. …
(19.03.2015, 00:23:00 GMT)

“And so the damaging war of words continues. The user community is also being damaged by this “fracas” and loss of reputation. Applicants look on in dismay (and even disgust) at these goings-on. The EPO is expensive and our business leaders rightly ask “why bother with this system?”. I hope that the likes of CIPA and the equivalent bodies across Europe respond to this statement from the EPO management. They should also be lobbying their national representatives on the AC to educate them about the truth behind the statement, if they’re not doing so already. Everyone in IP is being damaged by this issue, not just the staff at the Office…” (19.03.2015, 11:30:00 GMT)

______
6 http://kluwerpatentblog.com/2015/03/20/behavior-benoit-battistelli-is-bad-for-the-epos-reputation/

Our sources tell us that “Mr Battistelli is even more under pressure, and he apparently has difficulties in explaining his policy: A number of articles in Dutch newspapers were published on Saturday 21 March, one of them contains an interview with Mr. Battistelli: NRC Handelsblad ‘Ik ben geen zonnekoning’ (‘I am not a sunking’).” We intend to cover and post articles about the Hague, along with translations of Dutch newspapers, some time in the coming days.

IRC Proceedings: February 22nd – March 21st, 2015

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

IRC Proceedings: February 22nd – February 28th, 2015

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

GNOME Gedit

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#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

IRC Proceedings: March 1st – March 7th, 2015

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

IRC Proceedings: March 8th – March 14th, 2015

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

GNOME Gedit

GNOME Gedit

#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

IRC Proceedings: March 15th – March 21st, 2015

GNOME Gedit

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#techrights log

#boycottnovell log

GNOME Gedit

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#boycottnovell-social log

#techbytes log

Backups due to connection issues:

#techrights: February-March logs (crude)
#boycottnovell: February-March logs (crude)
#boycottnovell-social: February-March logs (crude)
#techbytes: February-March logs (crude)

Enter the IRC channels now

03.24.15

The Latest Microsoft Attacks on GNU/Linux and Free/Libre Software

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 12:31 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

BreakingSummary: Microsoft is still hiding behind the façade of ‘love’ whilst actively attacking GNU/Linux and Free software from many directions

THE Times of India has this borrowed article which says “Windows and Office are about to get much, much more complex, confusing, and expensive” (anyone with enough experience ought to have foreseen or known this).

Windows becoming ‘free’ is a lie (we have covered lies about the cost of Vista 10 in [1, 2, 3]) and it’s easy to see why people were led to believe this. Microsoft is trying to slow down or halt migrations to GNU/Linux, which are already happening even in large numbers (in my daytime job, for example, we’ve migrated entire companies to GNU/Linux). Confusing people about cost would be quite effective a method, even if an extremely dirty method (it’s all vapourware/promises because Vista 10 has not been released yet, hence no risk of lawsuits for false advertising).

Maria Deutscher, a relatively new Microsoft propagandist (recall the time she published "Microsoft continues open source love affair") is openwashing Microsoft again with lots of nonsense and PR wrapped up in the form of an ‘article’ (more of an advertisement), adding to the nonsense from Microsoft marketing sites masquerading as “news”. They are trying to paint purely proprietary software as “open”. This is another kind of lie. It helps stall migrations to Free software such as Apache, Java, Drupal, GNU/Linux, etc.

Speaking of Drupal, which I deploy and support in my daytime job, watch Microsoft's partner Trustwave openly badmouthing it (yesterday’s ‘news’ resurrecting news from several months ago). The ‘newsflash’ from this Microsoft mouthpiece is that some people don’t patch Drupal, hence Drupal is supposedly at risk from a flaw patched nearly six months ago (the simple patch was made available as soon as the flaw was announced!). This is beyond FUD; it’s a lie and it is very shameless. Then again, Trustwave is a FUD firm, so why not target some gullible people who don’t comprehend security issues at a technical level? Why not borrow news from half a year ago, posting it afresh?

We recently covered a series of Microsoft lies in the “Microsoft hates GNU/Linux” marathon (on Saturday), wherein, in part 6 to be specific, we spoke about the media propaganda (Microsoft pretending to embrace FOSS and love Linux) and in part 1 we spoke about Microsoft’s blocking of FOSS operating systems, including GNU/Linux (a complete contradiction of Microsoft’s claims).

Well, the word is spreading regarding the lock-out of GNU/Linux as IDG says that “PC vendors may not have to include a Secure Boot toggle with Windows 10, making it harder for users to install alternative operating systems.”

Harder? How about impossible?

Here is another take on it which says: “The Secure Boot feature in Microsoft Windows 10 could make life difficult for users of Linux and other open source operating systems.”

No, it can make it impossible on particular machines. This is an antitrust matter and it should be raised as such as soon as possible.

This subject was already floated in Techrights’ IRC channel several times, with additional links on the subject. Addressing an optimistic response from Phoronix (quoted here the other day), Mark said that “this is a “boil the frog” thing… Microsoft is turning up the heat… they don’t have to make it impossible to boot Linux, that would attract attention from the DOJ… they’ll just keep making it more and more difficult.”

Balrog responded by saying, “expect low end stuff to be locked out, like the 7″ Zcer tablets…it’s stuff for which they don’t even bother to make a stable UEFI firmware.”

Mark then responded by quoting Michael Larabel as saying that “it’s not a nightmare scenario quite yet”, then adding, “that’s not very reassuring” (it’s actually a very bad scenario).

Responding to Larabel’s assumption that Microsoft might not revoke the Linux key he wrote: “Wow, that’s not something I can really count on” (not based on history anyway).

XFaCE told me some hours ago: “your recent Microsoft articles are excellent. I didn’t know Win 10 had no off secure boot requirement for OEMs, but we knew that would eventually happen. Even Nathan Lineback knew. Doesn’t take a genius.”

Jamie Watson, who recently complained about UEFI and Microsoft’s sabotage of multi/dual-boot setups (we covered it earlier this week), is right now complaining about it yet again and he provides details of what Microsoft is doing to his computer. To quote his summary: “As if wiping one of my disks weren’t enough, Windows Update has decided to go into a ‘reboot loop’ on my desktop Windows 7 system.” To quote him from the body of the article: “I know that I just posted a fairly long rant about Windows Update last week, and I don’t want this to turn into a blog called “Jamie’s Mostly ‘I Hate Windows’ Stuff”, so I am going to make this quite short and to the point. But I think it is important to post it, because it looks like I have experienced a problem that might specifically target people who are likely to read a blog such as mine.

“First, this problem affects my Lenovo T400 laptop, which I use with a docking station on my desk at home, and which is loaded with Windows 7 Professional 64-bit and a variety of Linux distributions. It is not Windows 8, it is not UEFI boot, and it is not a GPT partitioned disk – it is a ‘plain vanilla’ (bog standard? could be appropriate for Windows…) Windows 7 MBR system.”

So Microsoft continues not only to hate GNU/Linux but also to sabotage it, leaving Mr. Watson having to do very complicated things merely to run GNU/Linux on hardware he bought. The vast majority of people can never do this, not even with detailed instructions.

If Microsoft really loves Linux, then it must be next Tuesday already (April 1st).

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