01.28.21

The Electronic Frontier Foundation ‘Forgets’ Microsoft Monopoly, Focuses on ‘Oligopolies’ (or ‘Big Tech’)

Posted in Apple, EFF, Google, Microsoft at 11:03 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Video download link

Summary: The Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) is not advancing the goals it was renowned for a few years ago or a decade back; it’s worth discussing the reasons

THE decline of the EFF’s integrity was mentioned here a lot over the past couple of years (e.g. [1, 2, 3, 4, 5]). It eroded a great deal after the (co)founder and leader had died. The other EFF co-founders, John Gilmore and Mitch Kapor, are still alive. What are their thoughts on the status quo?

“It actively complements Microsoft lobbying and in the area of patents, as noted in the video, the EFF hardly does anything anymore.”The above video is a response to this new post/article from the EFF, perpetuating this ludicrous idea that Microsoft is no longer an issue and we should instead be concerned about “GAFA”. Given that Microsoft’s presence on the Web by far exceeds Apple’s, the inclusion of Apple and exclusion of Microsoft from the ‘shame list’ (“Big Tech”) is a tad suspicious, albeit not atypical. A lot of this “GAFA” stuff can be traced back to Microsoft lobbyists.

Mitch Kapor and John GilmoreIf the EFF is unable to criticise Microsoft and is instead granting awards to Microsoft employees, then the EFF is likely even worse than neutral. It actively complements Microsoft lobbying and in the area of patents, as noted in the video, the EFF hardly does anything anymore. Nothing substantial. That was vastly different a few years ago.

What happened to the EFF?

12.13.20

Why Coding Needs to Be More Accessible to Everyone

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 2:11 pm by Guest Editorial Team

By figosdev

Access Sign

Summary: “Nobody needs to go to Microsoft school to learn Microsoft-only tools that are only useful to Microsoft (and basically turn teachers into salespeople) but both Microsoft and Apple have had this conflict of interest with education since the 1980s at the latest — not all of which (only most of it) is terrible.”

Regulatory capture is a common hazard to rule-making, where rules that are designed for everyone become corrupted or changed in a way that puts the interests of some over the interests of the broader good.

ProhibitedA perfect example of a rule that benefits everyone is the example of pooping and drinking — you want to poop one place, but drink from a different place. Short of everyone having space-station grade recyclers, this rule allows people to drink water that is relatively safe rather than infected with all kinds of disease-causing organisms. While this rule still applies today, there are similar modern equivalents involving industrial and chemical waste that are not always followed as much as they should be.

Where groups of people are involved, such a simple rule quickly leads to working out which places are designated for pooping and which are for drinking. If a committee or other authority is assigned the task of deciding where these activities are to take place, there are many opportunities for the assignment to favour some people over others.

When making rules or designing pretty much anything, corruption is a factor in assigning better conditions to some people (or purposes) than others, but corruption is not a requirement. All it takes to favour one group (or one purpose) over another is specialisation, paired with forgetting or neglecting to serve another group or purpose.

It’s alright that not every thing or every design works for every purpose, but sometimes the result is that a purpose once well-served becomes increasingly neglected. When this isn’t just a matter of scale (buggy whip production has gone down over the years, but only as a function of the number of buggies still in operation) it can have negative effects. Some negative effects are unintended, but all negative effects are (by definition) negative.

“Obviously this varies and exaggerates a little, but students too often leave school demonstrating persistent, low-level trauma and a general fear (at least strong aversion) to entire subjects that school “ruined” for them.”Contemporary education at least, is of poor design with notoriously poor results. The easiest way to sugarcoat this is to find some statistical way to show that things have at least improved, but this says nothing about how far we have to go or why things work as poorly as they do.

Throughout the world in general, the most common approach to education is to have fierce competition where often very little is needed, and to insist on perfection where the ideal is arbitrary, inaccurate, out of date or on a whim:

“Why did I fail the quiz? It asked what the largest city in Turkey is and I said Istanbul!”

“Because that’s wrong, the book says Constantinople.”

“But it’s not even called that anymore — my family came here from Istanbul!”

“The quiz is on what the book says. Go sit down.”

While there’s nothing wrong with striving for perfection as a long-term goal, it’s a miserable and unrewarding place to begin the learning of any subject! Certainly you don’t want doctors or rocket scientists to go into surgery or engine design with the basic attitude of “Well, nothing’s perfect, is it?” but then engineers have a far more realistic concept of fault tolerance than schools do.

The broad educational approach is too often more like:

“School can suck the enjoyment out of any kind of learning. It doesn’t actually have to, it’s simply designed that way.”1. Attempt to teach student

2. Test student

3. In the event of failure, discard student and try teaching a different one

Obviously this varies and exaggerates a little, but students too often leave school demonstrating persistent, low-level trauma and a general fear (at least strong aversion) to entire subjects that school “ruined” for them.

To use myself as an example, I had no trouble reading as a child — I was able to read before I began school, I sometimes read far enough ahead of the class that I was sent to a higher-grade only for reading. Reading wasn’t a problem, and yet (not when I was in a higher-grade class, just to be clear) some of the exercises that were tangential to reading were so thoroughly unpleasant that I lost my ability to enjoy fiction for nearly the entire time I was in school.

After graduation, I slowly began enjoying fiction again. But I enjoyed it before it was required, and school nearly killed that for me. School can suck the enjoyment out of any kind of learning. It doesn’t actually have to, it’s simply designed that way.

The sad thing is that people are natural learners — learning is a basic function of the brain itself, and some of the approaches we can trace all the way back to Confucius (who was neither the worst teacher of all time, nor the best possible teacher for every subject) do more to get in the way of education than they do to assist.

Of course many people suspect education is broken, and offer various solutions.

Some start with the idea of refuting “one-size-fits-all” so literally that they believe everyone needs a completely individual “bespoke” approach. While one-size-fits-all does fit poorly, we don’t need to spend a great deal of time trying to fit nine extra sleeves or triangular footwear — we can probably come up with a very small number of approaches that can be tweaked in small ways to fit well.

“Nobody needs to go to Microsoft school to learn Microsoft-only tools that are only useful to Microsoft (and basically turn teachers into salespeople) but both Microsoft and Apple have had this conflict of interest with education since the 1980s at the latest — not all of which (only most of it) is terrible.”Most “education reform” is industry propaganda designed to co-opt education for state-subsidised training for the corporate workplace, which naturally enrages anyone who is serious about education. Sadly if you’re working with Microsoft, you’re probably helping to fund this corporate takeover and co-opting of public schools. The goal there is to replace general-purpose education, just as much as they want to replace general-purpose computing.

Nobody needs to go to Microsoft school to learn Microsoft-only tools that are only useful to Microsoft (and basically turn teachers into salespeople) but both Microsoft and Apple have had this conflict of interest with education since the 1980s at the latest — not all of which (only most of it) is terrible. Apple computers are after all, computers too, and you can still learn general-purpose computing on them IF that’s what people are really teaching. (And if the computer design itself still allows it…)

Sadly, we continue to erode the concept of general-purpose education and move towards training future customers, and replacing broader conceptual learning with increasingly vendor-specific education. In many ways the schools have already been taken over.

But even as the goals are corrupted, what hasn’t changed is the overall approach. It’s easier, more enjoyable, and less trauma-inducing to explore knowledge and build it up than to put constant emphasis on a ruler while bellowing “Not tall enough! Not tall enough!” as if doing so will cause people to grow that much faster. Learning is growth, and knowledge increases just as naturally as height. We can help people love education, or we can continue to make people hate and fear learning itself.

Computers had already gained a reputation for being unforgiving and requiring precision before most people were required to work with them. Tell someone with no first-hand experience that JUST ONE missing or out-of-place semicolon can prevent an entire program from working, and many will imagine a world where computing (at least coding) is a next-to-impossible task.

What they WON’T think (but we could have taught) is that “It’s cake to find the place where the semicolon is missing or misplaced, and then fix it — often with a single keypress.” Instead we let them develop the notion that the task is virtually impossible, before they even get started.

It’s incredibly sad to constantly watch education undermine itself and teach destructively, rather than instructively. While education is supposed to help learners build up knowledge, evaluation — and even teaching style — continues to kick over sand castles. Of course people learn that the real point of education is NOT learning — just career fodder or a means of finally escaping the classroom, because that’s what we actually teach. Then when they have escaped, learning so many things is just a painful feeling they never want to revisit. And this is a public service?

“Rules and facts are not useless, but if we stop challenging and questioning them then we stop progressing as a society.”The solution isn’t to pretend that every answer is right, or to toss away the idea that some answers are in fact better than others — it would be self-contradicting, for one (every answer is fine; except the way we teach, of course!)

Up isn’t down, right isn’t left, black isn’t white — it’s actually very useful to know things the way they are. However, the people who have greatly advanced not only society but science and technology are people who are not overly focused on what’s not possible, or what’s wrong — but people who are able to (as Einstein put it) turn the ruled paper sideways, so the lines don’t get in the way. Rules and facts are not useless, but if we stop challenging and questioning them then we stop progressing as a society. And still the way we teach rewards people for generally not questioning things.

Outside of stereotypically “creative” tasks such as art and music (and often tragically even during those classes as well) we don’t teach people to have imagination or to utilise it as a learning tool — we teach people to put that away and think like a book, not like a mind.

But people aren’t book-machines, they aren’t pen and paper; they are creatures capable of thought and feeling, which most instruction does little to utilise. Still, most education is made for books, for pen and paper but not for people.

Computers, we are taught — are rigid, precise, mechanistic and mathematical metal and plastic beasts which we can tame only by donning a mantle of rigid, precise, mechanistic or deterministic thinking. There is no room for trial and error, and this is certainly no place for creativity! To operate the machine, one must CONFORM to the specification.

This is ultimately mythology, as it was when this monstrous rigidity was applied to all other subjects. But computers seem to offer the perfect vindication for the sort of rigid, unimaginative lesson-drilling that schools are the frequent purveyors of, even when a few teachers hope to transcend the relentless bore of the system that employs them.

What better proof of “sit up straight, eyes on the board, repeat after me” than a computer, after all? And yet poor Albert, bless him, he can’t even turn his paper the right way. What a shame!

Teaching would be far more effective and efficient if we actually assisted people in learning how to think — not the “one right way” of thinking, any more than the “one correct genre of music” or the “one correct style of painting”, but certainly how to think.

And while we are hopefully teaching people to make greater use of their minds, we are busy countering that with teaching them to accept information unquestioningly and that regurgitating bits of data is more valuable than thought. There is the true shame, and the results are all around us.

What’s more, those misaligned efforts ultimately produce more teachers who “teach” that way than those who don’t, and along comes a bunch of experts to “transform education” by slapping a veneer of flexibility onto a system optimised for producing intellectual cogs and levers — but not enriching minds unless it happens incidentally and appropriately, so as not to disrupt the other “learning” going on.

Similarly, we are meant to instruct students in coding so that they can control their devices (rather than be controlled by them) and all the while we are teaching them to simply accept rote and regurgitated data as if it were written in stone by the finger of God. Aren’t we saddling them all with mixed messages, at best?

“…we don’t teach people to have imagination or to utilise it as a learning tool — we teach people to put that away and think like a book, not like a mind.”After all that, really, what are students supposed to think?

We have these machines that most teachers don’t understand, and we have to drill into students the idea that if you conform perfectly to the machine’s design it will do some desired thing. The only thing you can’t do is break out of this conformity. It’s not optional — you must think and work just as rigidly as bits and octets, as that’s all it can understand.

This has been repeated without question for decades, and the real tragedy is we used to do so much better. Sure, we also taught that the computer is rigid and unforgiving — but moments later, we demonstrated the exact opposite. With coding, you can turn the ruled paper sideways.

But first you have to excel at maths.

Actually that isn’t true either, since the 1950s people (including professors of mathematics like Grace Hopper, who knew a few things about computers herself, having invented some programming languages that are still in use 60 years later) have worked very hard so that you do NOT have to be be good at maths to code. I’m not good at maths — I’m absolutely terrible. I did terribly with virtually all things numeric in school. I just barely got by, while my peers managed exceptionally well by comparison. Even today I remain abysmal in the subject.

The reason people (wrongly) assume that being good at computers requires an aptitude for maths (an aptitude I clearly and demonstrably lack) is that computers are mathematical. Everything they actually do is numeric.

But by that argument, you must also excel at maths to play the violin — music is incredibly rich with numeric information both in theory and practice. Do you want to write a sonata for the flute? You’re just going to have to learn inverse Fourier transforms! If you want me to explain them, I’ll need to go to the Wikipedia article and pretend that I get what it says. I confess that I don’t know the flute either, so it’s entirely possible that the cause is I never learned inverse Fourier transforms.

Computers still use principles of the Jacquard loom, so of course if you want to design ugly jumper patterns then you must first learn calculus and honours level physics. It isn’t true, but we can make the argument just the same.

When we are done arguing, someone can say that applications have made this possible — no, you don’t need to learn to code to create a jumper pattern, but you also don’t need to be good at advanced maths to learn to code — because programming languages themselves have that much in common with the applications that save us from the “need” to code.

“People didn’t need to attend years at university to learn coding then, it didn’t require a computer science degree or a special aptitude — only a bit of interest and a bit of time, as would learning any sort of new subject.”And how many schools are teaching that? No, you have so many schools regurgitating things that were really literally true in 1952 that they’ve forgotten to check or question the accuracy of their own teaching for the past seven decades of instruction. It’s what we’ve always said, so it must be Constantinople, NOT Istanbul! Why not just teach people that to code you’ll need a keypunch, or paper tape?

We ultimately teach both students and their teachers that coding requires skills it doesn’t require, that they must follow rules are not by any means unbreakable laws, and that there are no alternatives to this — all of which are false. But we teach these falsehoods if only by omission, and they are what most people (who would only know better through better education or hands-on learning) including many teachers believe.

To do far better than this, education would not even need to learn from its mistakes; it would only need to learn from its successes. The problem is that this is an area where education rarely learns at all.

If it simply learned from its successes it would have several options, both from the past and the present. It would be able to look at basic literacy in the present, and discover that when people suffer while learning to read (due to either a natural disability such as dyslexia, or due to an incredible lack of exposure to education previously) there are many different approaches that can be applied to save an individual from illiteracy.

Do we do that for computer education, including coding? Quite rarely.

Even if we chose to ignore the present and what lessons we could take from literacy reform, we could still look to the past for guidance — for things we did that worked quite well, but that we abandoned foolishly on a whim.

There was a period when personal computers were very new, when coding was a key feature of the system anyone purchased. People didn’t need to attend years at university to learn coding then, it didn’t require a computer science degree or a special aptitude — only a bit of interest and a bit of time, as would learning any sort of new subject.

Wouldn’t it be nice if more instructors were aware of that? They might even become more comfortable with the subject themselves, before projecting their fears and feelings of inadequacy and helplessness about technology onto their students.

In fact you can go on YouTube and watch old programmes such as TVOntario’s “Bits and Bytes” from 1983, or the BBC’s The Computer Programme from ’82, or “Making the Most of the Micro” also from 1983. The latter was part of the “BBC’s Computer Literacy Project” — please let that sink in: “Computer Literacy Project”. It was acceptable to say this was a matter of literacy in 1983. Try that now, and you risk insulting most users (as well as teachers).

“We are teaching more that is destructive and misleading than we are teaching what is helpful and correct.”What happened of course is that sometime around the 1990s, we gave up on the idea of teaching computing to make way for application training. Forget understanding your computer! Just purchase this word processor or video game and learn applications instead! Along with this new mythology of false implications like you need a PhD from Oxford to write a Hello World program (or at least, anything worth learning) there is the false dichotomy of being able to code versus purchasing or downloading applications.

We are teaching more that is destructive and misleading than we are teaching what is helpful and correct. We give them a very limiting mythology, which some would argue is bad enough — then we give them no tools or information to question, test or challenge that mythology. And a big part of the reason we do that is we don’t give anything better to the instructors themselves. If they don’t know any better than this, they won’t teach any better than this.

So even if we don’t have our students going back to when computing was actually taught before university, we could still take our educators back far enough to see where the rest of it went wrong — a history lesson for teachers and administrators, just so they know what is actually possible.

They won’t need to listen to the inexplicable ramblings of Steve Wozniak, who now tells people that before age 11 students are incapable of the logic needed to write code, when we can simply watch Episode 6 of Bits and Bytes where (ordinary, standard-issue) 7-year-olds are learning to write code — on a machine that Wozniak himself helped design!

We can go back as far as 1953, when Grace Hopper was proposing that English be used to write code instead of symbols. Not that you’d really want to code in something that follows this rule as rigidly as COBOL did, but in 1957, prior to (and contributing to) the completed design of COBOL itself, IBM’s FORTRAN had a brother called COMTRAN, which looked like this:

"01009 START. OPEN ALL FILES."

"01012 COMPARE.EMPLOYEE.NUMBERS. GO TO COMPUTE.PAY WHEN DETAIL EMPLOYNO
01013       IS EQUAL TO MASTER EMPLOYNO, LOW.DETAIL WHEN DETAIL
01014       EMPLOYNO IS LESS THAN MASTER EMPLOYNO." 

And that was in 1957! By this time, you could use ALGO (very similar to ALGOL) on a computer that was no more than 1.5 metres by 1 by 1 metre in size — granted it cost the equivalent of half a million dollars in today’s money — and ran a language that was hardly more complicated than the BASIC examples they were showing in Bits and Bytes or The Computer Programme a quarter of a century later. ALGO was inspired by ALGOL 58, which heavily inspired BASIC in 1964 and (to a certain debatable degree) Python in 1991.

**But soon there were even easier languages than this!** And this is what we ought to be teaching — that a programming language is itself so much like an “application” in the level of abstraction and convenience it is CAPABLE of offering, that we can essentially create languages that are as easy to use as applications themselves!

“ALGO was inspired by ALGOL 58, which heavily inspired BASIC in 1964 and (to a certain debatable degree) Python in 1991.”So why don’t we do that? For one, we already have. There are many ways we could continue to improve on existing designs (and I regularly advocate doing so) but as with all designs, there have been many dead ends along the way. The biggest problem with code like “COMPARE.EMPLOYEE.NUMBERS. GO TO COMPUTE.PAY WHEN DETAIL EMPLOYNO” (apart from the all caps — note that this code dates from an era where telegrams were still sent in ALL CAPS and decades later, early Apples did not all feature lowercase characters) is that all-English coding can be more tedious to learn or use than coding with some (minor) amount of abbreviation or symbols.

Most languages go too far the other way and are too cryptic to be completely ideal for beginners, but since the 1960s it has PROVEN trivial (not a magnificent feat of engineering or design, but closer to common sense) to strike a balance between “code” and “English” that the above-mentioned 7-year-old coders will not struggle with.

We just don’t teach that often enough.

At the core of my frustration is the fact that this was a solved problem a few decades ago, which nearly everyone teaches is a practically unsolvable problem today. We could teach coding, a few decades ago, to anybody who could read and write English. Yet somehow today it’s impossible. Well, no it isn’t. But it has to be grueling and awful — no, that’s just how schools are for some stupid reason.

But only children are capable of learning these new things — no, there is ample footage of people in their 60s learning what we used to call basic computing skills, which today we would call coding. So nearly everything we teach about this is ultimately a series of erroneous and even disproven assumptions. But we continue to teach them, we keep cementing computer illiteracy and computerphobia into place because we can — we tell people that applications are okay, but you can channel what’s left of your computerphobia into the demon pits lurking beneath the GUI. Once again, this isn’t really education — it’s marketing.

And at the core of this mythology is the half-truth that computers are inflexible. Well, they’re inflexible until some genius comes along and (through years of study, meditation and of course, a computer science degree or two) manages the absolutely Herculean task of taming the impossible machine into an application that even a poor user can handle.

But there are rules, there are rules! Just as a genie cannot abide that one of your three wishes is for more wishes, the genius of the computer who can make you an application has one absolute and strict limitation — the one thing they CANNOT do is make a programming language that anybody can learn. That sort of “application” is simply beyond the realm of all possibility, so we no longer try to do it. But we at least save people the trouble of wondering if it’s possible — No, it isn’t! Go sit down.

When Hopper wanted English to replace mathematical symbols for writing programs, the application (for her programming language) was business, not computer literacy. Programming languages designed specifically to be broadly accessible as their primary feature did not really enter the picture until the early 1960s.

“So “ease of use” or ease of learning will always strike a pleasant balance between an absurdly flexible and frustratingly rigid design.”Before Pascal was designed for programming education in 1970, the most notable efforts towards a language specifically for learning were BASIC and Logo. You absolutely can learn BASIC, possibly even by just watching British or Canadian television from 30 to 40 years ago, but Logo would be even easier. The main drawback with Logo is telling someone that that drawing what looks like Spirograph designs or animating a cat is the same thing as coding — yet it is. It would of course, take further instruction to prove it.

You can even learn coding skills without a computer, simply by applying slightly different rules to “Simon Says” (a game more universal than many people might realise) and replacing the computer with one or more participants who respond to a specific rule in a specific way.

Yes, computers are very inflexible. What’s the first thing that people do with a computer after switching it on?

They load software that is more flexible than the computer was to begin with.

THAT’S the lesson we need to be teaching and demonstrating, not this cargo cult teaching that basic computing is “nearly impossible” to learn. This is what ultimately would better empower users. Of course there’s nothing wrong with expert-level coders or expert-level instruction; just that neither are prerequisites to coding (most of them would not exist if it were, Linus Torvalds included — he was not an expert to begin with).

You can make the computer INCREDIBLY flexible in what it can do and respond to, but the way that’s done is through coding. You can even make the task of coding itself incredibly flexible! The only thing is, if you make it TOO flexible it will become unpredictable, and it’s actually easier to learn if the computer remains somewhat predictable. So “ease of use” or ease of learning will always strike a pleasant balance between an absurdly flexible and frustratingly rigid design.

We don’t need anybody to be afraid of this.

We could just tell people (they wouldn’t believe us) that if they find existing programming languages unpleasant, they could simply design their own. The instructions they would need to design such a language are not necessarily more complicated than our new “Simon Says” game, but actually implementing such a language would be SLIGHTLY more complicated. They would probably need assistance.

Slightly, because the way of demonstrating programming language design is demonstrated in an episode of The Computer Programme from 1982, although I first watched it years after I started teaching this sort of thing. In Episode 3, they have the BBC Micro connected to a robot arm; the arm is controlled by a sequence of relatively cryptic (probably numeric) commands that someone has stuffed into BASIC subroutines.

“What passes for instruction is as horrible as this — and as a result, most people think the subject is even impossible for them.”By simple use of single-line IF/THEN commands and an INPUT statement, the “user” (or coder) can now control the robot with simple commands like UP, DOWN, etc. or even quickly add their own commands, as the host of the show does.

He does this without knowing how to write a programming language per se, in all of a few seconds, but it’s so important to always remember that computers are very inflexible and require rigid and unforgiving precision!

It might suffice to simply take all the computer teachers in the world and lock them up in a huge warehouse with food and toilets, and not let them out until they’ve learned how to code. But that would only reinforce the horrible way they already teach.

Instead, we need to show them that far from being an inflexible, rigid and unforgiving interface as far as the user is concerned, that any ORDINARY (standard-issue) human can create their own programming commands, which they can then use to code — in a language of their own design, if it so pleases them. There is certainly ample opportunity for creativity and imagination there!

But to do that, we need to give educators access to better information, a better story than the tired mythology of things that never work unless you have entered and conformed to a veritable priesthood of ideas and concepts. It isn’t so, nor was it since the last 1950s. It isn’t Constantinople anymore.

If you don’t like the rules of programming languages, we need to impart (better yet demonstrate, hands-on) a certain amount of information that a child can easily manage to learn — and let these poor souls who were taught lies and half-truths that said certain amount of information will let them do virtually anything they want or imagine.

That’s the simple truth, and we have denied it to anyone who hasn’t excelled at the very (misleadingly) narrow group of things we insist are “coding” (You MUST do X, you will NEED Y, you cannot avoid Z — all of which came later on and never were required in the first place) can prove to themselves that most of these “rules” are in fact, options.

It is so pervasive that even those who CAN prove the myth to be a myth do not question it, and carry on in light of all the evidence against it as though it were true.

“To be certain, part of the reason it is like this is because education and industry have different needs — we have ceased to tend to the needs of education itself, and settled for the needs of industry, which can abide and even thrive on far more ignorance (and misleading information) than a quality education can abide.”What passes for instruction is as horrible as this — and as a result, most people think the subject is even impossible for them. Why wouldn’t they? Their instructors never learned any better.

To be certain, part of the reason it is like this is because education and industry have different needs — we have ceased to tend to the needs of education itself, and settled for the needs of industry, which can abide and even thrive on far more ignorance (and misleading information) than a quality education can abide. This conflict of interest has lead to tweaking education to neglect itself in certain areas. As with regulatory capture, not all of this neglect actually requires corruption — but corruption is a feature nonetheless.

Coding is not just a skill for a career in computers, anymore than writing is just a skill for people who intend to write books for a living. It is much closer to a realistic understanding of what a computer (or better yet, what the average user) can do. Average, because we are only talking about the skills that roughly anybody can learn, if we bother to teach.

But I mark any quality of education damnable, which would do less harm if we did NOT send someone to school for it, but that we would far better serve them just by sitting them in front of 80s television instead. A school that cannot out-teach a BBC Programme or even approach its accuracy and helpfulness perhaps should not exist. Rather than have you take this to its most literal conclusion, I insist that better education could easily be possible. We simply. Don’t. Bother.

“A school that cannot out-teach a BBC Programme or even approach its accuracy and helpfulness perhaps should not exist.”We ought to teach computer literacy to students, so that computers work for them, and not the other way around. But we will continue to fail, until we can first help their teachers. As we fail, we ultimately teach most people to let computers control them — this bodes extremely poorly for society and the future. Please, let’s stop conditioning people to feel and then act helpless. Let’s stop making this more difficult or “impossible” than it really is. It does help Microsoft, that’s true — though it does great harm to everyone else.

We also need to better understand this general trauma that education creates, because although the efforts to combat it will ultimately need to be run through some sort of quality control (at least peer review) by some sort of experts, the only people who can ultimately prevent the trauma caused by the educational system are the people who run the educational system.

Excellent tutoring (created by giving to tutors what we cannot give to other educators, perhaps) can take the edge off (but not prevent) some of the trauma caused by the generally abysmal quality of education — at least softening the blow. It would be very nice if we could actually teach people, rather than conditioning them to believe that entire subjects are impossible for them to learn. The latter is nothing but a great disservice, and should never be funded with public money.

Long Live rms, and Happy Coding.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

10.20.20

Bill Gates Explains How Microsoft and Apple Leverage Software Patents in Their Cross-Licensing Deals (to Perpetuate Duopoly/Shared Monopoly)

Posted in Antitrust, Apple, Bill Gates, Microsoft, Patents at 12:18 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The princess and the frog so very much in love?

Frog

Summary: A look back at Apple’s and Microsoft’s use or misuse of bogus software patents in bargaining (in effect excluding those who have not amassed tens of thousands of patents)

THE Bill Gates deposition reveals how Netscape was excluded or pushed out, elbowed from the market in spite of technical advantages, including its cross-platform nature. As it turns out, patents too were leveraged to achieve this monopolisation. But patents are “innovation” (they keep insisting), right?

“As it turns out, patents too were leveraged to achieve this monopolisation.”We’ve isolated (below) the part about Apple and patents (we’ve also highlighted “patent” aspects for hurried readers; note that Mr. Maritz went on to lead a company which blatantly violated the GPL):



4 Q. My question to you now, sir, is whether
5 you believed that cancelling Mac Office 97 would do a
6 great deal of harm to Apple?
7 A. Well, I know that Apple would prefer
8 that we have a more updated version of Mac Office,
9 that that would be a positive thing for them, and so
10 that's why it was part of the negotiation relative to
11 the patent cross license.
12 Q. And did you believe that cancelling Mac
13 Office 97 would do a great deal of harm to Apple?
14 A. I told you I think it would be better
15 for Apple to have everybody doing major upgrades like
16 this. I doubt -- I can't characterize the level of
17 benefit of the upgrade to Apple, but certainly it's
18 something they wanted us to complete.
19 Q. The next sentence in Mr. Waldman's
20 June 27, 1997 e-mail to you begins, "I also believe
21 that Apple is taking this threat pretty seriously."
22 Did someone tell you in or about June
23 of 1997 that Apple was taking Microsoft's threat to
24 cancel Mac Office 97 seriously or pretty seriously?
25 A. Well, Maritz had taken the position
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1 that it didn't make business sense to finish this
2 upgrade. And it's very possible Apple might have
3 heard about Maritz's opinion there and therefore been
4 worried that we, businesswise, didn't see a reason to
5 complete the upgrade and that they would have the
6 older Mac Office as opposed to this new work that we
7 were part way along on.
8 Q. Mr. Gates, my question is not what
9 position Mr. Maritz did or did not take. My question
10 is whether anyone told you in or about June of 1997
11 that Apple was taking pretty seriously Microsoft's
12 threat to cancel Mac Office 97?
13 A. Apple may have known that senior
14 executives at Microsoft, Maritz in particular,
15 thought that it didn't make business sense to
16 complete that upgrade.
17 Q. Mr. Gates, I'm not asking you what
18 Apple may have known or may not have known. What I'm
19 asking you is whether anybody told you in or about
20 June of 1997 that Apple was taking pretty seriously
21 Microsoft's threat to cancel Mac Office 97?
22 A. Those particular words?
23 Q. Told you that in words or in substance.
24 A. I think I remember hearing that Apple
25 had heard about Maritz's view that it didn't make
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1 sense to continue the upgrade, but -- and that, you
2 know, they wanted us to continue the upgrade. But
3 I -- I don't remember any of the -- it being phrased
4 at all the way you're phrasing it.
5 Q. Well, the way I'm phrasing it is the
6 way that Mr. Waldman phrased it to you in his e-mail
7 of June 27, 1997; correct, sir?
8 A. Well, in reading it, I see those words,
9 yes.
10 Q. And you don't have any doubt that you
11 received this e-mail, do you, sir?
12 A. I have no reason to doubt it. I don't
13 remember receiving it. I do remember in general
14 sending an e-mail like the one that's at the top
15 there.
16 Q. Do you recall anyone telling you in
17 words or in substance in or about June of 1997 what
18 Mr. Waldman is writing here in this e-mail?
19 MR. HEINER: Objection.
20 THE WITNESS: This is a very long piece
21 of e-mail. Have you read the whole e-mail yourself?
22 MR. BOIES: I think my question was
23 imprecise. I was trying to avoid quoting something
24 for yet another time, but I accept your counsel's
25 view that the question was probably defective. I
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1 thought it was clear what portion of the e-mail we
2 were talking about, but I will make it clear.
3 Q. Mr. Gates, Mr. Waldman on June 27,
4 1997, sends you an e-mail that says, "The threat to
5 cancel Mac Office 97 is certainly the strongest
6 bargaining point we have, as doing so will do a great
7 deal of harm to Apple immediately. I also believe
8 that Apple is taking this threat pretty seriously."
9 Do you recall anyone --
10 A. Do you want to finish the sentence or
11 not?
12 Q. You can if you think it is necessary to
13 answer the question.
14 Do you recall anyone telling you what I
15 have just quoted in words or in substance in or about
16 June, 1997?
17 A. No.
18 MR. HEINER: It's just about 10:00 now.
19 Can we take a break?
20 MR. BOIES: If you wish.
21 MR. HEINER: Yes, thanks.
22 VIDEOTAPE OPERATOR: The time is 9:57.
23 We're going off the record.
24 (Recess.)
25 VIDEOTAPE OPERATOR: The time is 10:21.
325





1 We are going back on the record.
2 Q. BY MR. BOIES: What were the primary
3 goals that you personally had, Mr. Gates, in terms of
4 getting Apple to agree to things?
5 MR. HEINER: Objection. Can you be
6 just a bit more specific on that?
7 MR. BOIES: Sure.
8 Q. In the period of 1996 forward, after
9 you concluded that Java, or as you put it, Java
10 runtime threat and Netscape were competitive threats
11 to Microsoft, what were your goals in terms of
12 dealing with Apple? What were you trying to get
13 Apple to agree to do for Microsoft?
14 A. Well, the main reasons we were having
15 discussions with Apple in this '97 period was that
16 they had asserted that various patents that they had
17 applied to various Microsoft products, and so our
18 primary focus in discussing an agreement with them
19 was to conclude a patent cross license of some kind.
20 Q. I want to be sure that the question and
21 answer are meeting. I asked for a period of 1996 to
22 the present and you answered about 1997. Were your
23 goals in 1996 or after 1997 any different than the
24 goals that you've just described in dealing with
25 Apple?
326





1 A. There's only one agreement with Apple,
2 so I don't know what you're talking about.
3 Q. Okay. Do you understand the word goals
4 or objectives?
5 A. You talked about agreeing with Apple --
6 there's only one agreement with Apple that I know
7 about that we're discussing and that was one that was
8 concluded in I think late July or early August, 1997
9 and there's no other agreement that I know was even
10 discussed or considered.
11 Q. Okay. Let me ask you to look at a
12 document previously marked as Government Exhibit 369.
13 The second item on the first page of this exhibit
14 purports to be an e-mail from you dated June 23, 1996
15 to Paul Maritz and Brad Silverberg with copies to
16 Messrs. Higgins, Bradford, Waldman and Ludwig on the
17 subject of "Apple meeting."
18 (The document referred to was marked by
19 the court reporter as Government Exhibit 369 for
20 identification and is attached hereto.)
21 Q. BY MR. BOIES: Did you send this
22 e-mail, Mr. Gates, on or about June 23, 1996?
23 A. I don't remember it specifically, but I
24 don't have any reason to doubt that I did.
25 Q. In the second paragraph you say, "I
327





1 have 2 key goals in investing in the Apple
2 relationship - 1) Maintain our applications share on
3 the platform and 2) See if we can get them to embrace
4 Internet Explorer in some way."
5 Do you see that?
6 A. Yeah.
7 Q. Does that refresh your recollection as
8 to what your two key goals were in connection with
9 Apple in June of 1996?
10 A. First of all, June of 1996 is not in
11 the time frame that your previous question related
12 to. And certainly in the e-mail to this group I'm
13 not talking about the patent thing, but believe me,
14 it was our top goal in thinking about Apple for many,
15 many years because of their assertions.
16 Q. My time frame in my question, sir, was
17 a time frame beginning in 1996 when you began to view
18 Netscape or the Java runtime threat as a competitive
19 threat to Microsoft.
20 A. And that was after June of 1996.
21 Q. Is it your testimony that in June of
22 1996 you did not consider Netscape to be a
23 competitive threat to Microsoft?
24 A. Netscape was a competitor, but in terms
25 of Java and all the runtime related issues, we didn't
328





1 have a clear view of that at all.
2 Q. So that -- I want to be sure I've got
3 your testimony accurately. It is your testimony that
4 in June of 1996 you considered Netscape to be a
5 competitive threat but you did not consider Java or
6 Java runtime to be a competitive threat; is that your
7 testimony?
8 A. We considered Netscape to be a
9 competitor and I told you earlier that until late '96
10 we were unclear about our position on various Java
11 runtime things and what other companies were doing
12 and what that meant for us competitively.
13 Q. Do you agree that in June of 1996 the
14 two key goals that you had in terms of the Apple
15 relationship were, one, maintain your applications
16 share on the platform, and two, see if you could get
17 Apple to embrace Internet Explorer in some way?
18 A. No.
19 Q. Do you have any explanation for why you
20 would have written to Mr. Maritz and Mr. Silverberg
21 on June 23, 1996 that those were your two key goals
22 in the Apple relationship?
23 A. They weren't involved in the patent
24 issue at all. So when I write to them, I'm focused
25 on the issues that relate to them. I do mention
329





1 patents in here, but that certainly was the primary
2 goal at this time and in subsequent times.
3 Q. Let me be clear. When you write to
4 Mr. Maritz and Mr. Silverberg, you talk about
5 patents, do you not, sir?
6 A. Where do you see that?
7 Q. Well, did you talk about patents?
8 A. Do you want me to read the entire mail?
9 Q. Have you read it enough to know whether
10 you talk about patents?
11 A. I saw the word "patent" in one place.
12 If I read the whole thing, I can find out if it's in
13 other places as well.
14 Q. You do talk about patent cross license,
15 do you not, in this memo? And if you want to look at
16 the last page, five lines from the bottom.
17 A. Yeah. They weren't involved in the
18 patent issues at all, so it looks like in this mail I
19 just mention that in a summary part, but it was our
20 top goal in our discussions with Apple.
21 Q. When you write to Mr. Maritz and
22 Mr. Silverberg, you don't describe that as your top
23 goal, in fact, you don't even describe it as one of
24 your two or three key goals; correct, sir?
25 A. This piece of e-mail doesn't talk about
330





1 the patent goal as the top goal. It's most likely
2 that's because the people copied on the mail don't
3 have a thing to do with it and I wouldn't distract
4 them with it.
5 Q. I want to be sure I have your testimony
6 correct. In June of 1996, what was Paul Maritz's
7 title?
8 A. He was involved in product development
9 activities.
10 Q. He was involved in product development
11 activities. What was his title?
12 A. I don't know. Systems.
13 Q. Systems?
14 A. Uh-huh.
15 Q. Did he have a title that went with
16 that?
17 A. Senior vice-president systems. I don't
18 know.
19 Q. Senior vice-president systems, I see.
20 Did Mr. Silverberg have a position in
21 June of 1996?
22 A. He worked for Mr. Maritz.
23 Q. Did he have a title?
24 A. I don't know what his title was at the
25 time. He would have been an officer of some kind.
331





1 Q. An officer of some kind.
2 So you're writing a memo to Paul
3 Maritz, a senior vice-president, and Brad Silverberg,
4 an officer of some kind, and you're sending copies to
5 four other people on the subject of the Apple
6 meeting, and you say, "I have 2 key goals in
7 investing in the Apple relationship."
8 A. That's quite distinct than any goals I
9 might have for a deal with Apple. It says, "I have 2
10 key goals in investing in the Apple relationship,"
11 not "I have 2 key goals for a deal with Apple."
12 Q. Well, sir, at the bottom you say what
13 you propose in terms of a deal and you talk about
14 what Apple will get out of the deal and what
15 Microsoft will get out of the deal; correct, sir?
16 A. Do you want me to read you the e-mail?
17 I mean I don't know anything more than just what it
18 says in the e-mail. I'm glad to read it to you.
19 Q. Well, sir, does it say at the bottom of
20 the e-mail that you are proposing something with
21 Apple and you are identifying what Apple would get
22 under your proposed deal and what Microsoft would get
23 under your proposed deal?
24 A. Yeah, that's at the bottom of the
25 e-mail.
332





1 Q. In fact, the bottom of the e-mail
2 talking about a proposed Apple-Microsoft deal, you
3 say, "The deal would look like this," and then you've
4 got a column "Apple gets" and a column "Microsoft
5 gets" and a column "Both get"; right, sir?
6 A. I'm reading that.
7 Q. Now, in this e-mail of a page or a page
8 and a half in which you are proposing this deal, you
9 describe your two key goals as maintaining
10 Microsoft's applications share on the platform and
11 getting Apple to embrace Internet Explorer.
12 A. No, that's wrong.
13 Q. That's wrong, okay.
14 A. The word "deal" and the word
15 "relationship" are not the same word. This says, "I
16 have 2 key goals in investing in the Apple
17 relationship." This down here is an agreement which
18 I thought we could reach with Apple.
19 Q. Is it your testimony here today under
20 oath that your two key goals in investing in the
21 Apple relationship, which you mention in the second
22 paragraph of this e-mail, is different than your two
23 key goals in the proposed deal that you describe five
24 paragraphs later?
25 A. I don't see anything in here about the
333





1 key goals -- two key goals in the deal. I've told
2 you that I'm certain that my primary goal in any deal
3 was the patent cross license.
4 Q. Mr. Gates, my question is whether it is
5 your testimony today here under oath that when you
6 talk about your two key goals in investing in the
7 Apple relationship in the second paragraph of this
8 e-mail, that that is different than what your key
9 goals were in the deal that you proposed five
10 paragraphs later?
11 A. That's right. Investing in a
12 relationship is different than the deal.
13 Q. Now, you don't tell Mr. Maritz or
14 Mr. Silverberg that your goals for investing in the
15 Apple relationship are different than your goals in
16 the proposed deal, do you, sir?
17 A. But the goals and the deal are quite
18 different, so obviously they would have known they
19 were quite different.
20 Q. Well, sir, you say the goals and the
21 deal are quite different. One of your two key goals
22 that you talk about in your second paragraph is to
23 get Apple to embrace Internet Explorer in some way.
24 And the very first thing under what Microsoft gets in
25 your proposed deal is, "Apple endorses Microsoft
334





1 Internet Explorer technology." Do you see that, sir?
2 A. Uh-huh.
3 Q. Now, does that refresh your
4 recollection that the deal that you were proposing
5 had some relationship to the two key goals that you
6 were identifying?
7 A. Some relationship, yes, but they aren't
8 the same thing at all.
9 Q. All right, sir.
10 Did you ever prepare any e-mail to
11 anyone, Mr. Maritz or Mr. Silverberg or anyone, in
12 which you said that your primary goal in an Apple
13 deal was obtaining a cross license?
14 A. I don't remember a specific piece of
15 e-mail, but I'm sure I did with at least Mr. Maffei
16 and Mr. Maritz.
17 Q. You're sure you sent them e-mail saying
18 that?
19 A. I'm sure I communicated it to them in
20 some way.
21 Q. Do you believe you sent them anything
22 in writing or an e-mail?
23 A. I think it's likely, but I don't
24 remember a specific document.
25 Q. You certainly haven't seen any such
335





1 document in being prepared for your deposition; is
2 that fair?
3 MR. HEINER: Objection. You're not
4 seeking to intrude on the attorney-client privilege?
5 MR. BOIES: No. I want to know if he
6 has seen any such document, this document he says he
7 thinks exists that wasn't produced in document
8 production. I want to see if he has ever seen it, if
9 he recalls ever seeing it now or any other time.
10 THE WITNESS: I didn't say anything
11 about what may or may not exist at this point. I
12 said I'm sure I communicated to Mr. Maritz and
13 Mr. Maffei that our primary goal in doing the deal
14 with Apple was the patent cross license.
15 Q. BY MR. BOIES: And I had thought, and
16 perhaps I misunderstood, I thought that you had said
17 that you believed that you actually communicated that
18 not merely orally but by e-mail or in writing.
19 A. I think it's likely that I communicated
20 it in e-mail.
21 Q. And if you had communicated it in
22 e-mail, would that e-mail have been preserved?
23 A. Not necessarily.
24 Q. A lot of these e-mails were preserved
25 because we now have copies of them; right?
336





1 A. That's right.
2 Q. How did Microsoft decide what e-mails
3 would be preserved and what e-mails would not be
4 preserved?
5 A. Individuals get e-mail into their
6 mailbox and they decide.
7 Q. Do you have any explanation as to why
8 people would have decided to keep the e-mail that
9 described your two key goals in the Apple
10 relationship as being what they are stated to be here
11 and not have preserved your e-mail that you say you
12 sent saying you had a primary goal of a cross
13 license?
14 MR. HEINER: Objection. Lack of
15 foundation.
16 THE WITNESS: You're missing --
17 MR. HEINER: Hold it. Objection.
18 Those facts are not established. There could be 100
19 e-mails that talk about a patent cross license and
20 you may have them or you may not have them or they
21 may not have been called for. There is a range of
22 possibilities. That question is unfair and I object.
23 MR. BOIES: Okay, you've made your
24 objection. The witness will now answer the question.
25 MR. HEINER: Let's have it read back.
337





1 MR. BOIES: And if you come up with
2 those hundred e-mails, we will read them with
3 interest. I don't think you're going to and you
4 don't think you're going to either.
5 MR. HEINER: I disagree with that.
6 MR. BOIES: Okay.
7 Q. I'll restate the question to just be
8 absolutely certain that it's a fair question,
9 Mr. Gates.
10 If it were the case that neither your
11 counsel nor myself, after diligent search, can find
12 an e-mail that says your primary goal in dealing with
13 Apple was a patent cross license, do you have any
14 explanation as to why that e-mail that you say you
15 think exists would not have been saved, whereas the
16 e-mail that describes one of your two key goals as
17 getting Apple to embrace Internet Explorer was
18 preserved?
19 MR. HEINER: Objection. It's not a
20 sensible question. You asked a hypothetical. How
21 can the witness explain what the facts might be in
22 your hypothetical?
23 MR. BOIES: He is not being asked to
24 explain what the facts are in a hypothetical, I think
25 that's clear. If the witness tells me he cannot
338





1 answer the question, he can do so and we will go on
2 and take that up with everything else we'll take up
3 at a subsequent time.
4 THE WITNESS: When you say "dealing
5 with Apple," there were a lot of things we were
6 dealing with Apple on. I've told you in terms of the
7 deal, the deal I was involved in discussing in '96
8 and under another management at Apple in '97, there's
9 no doubt the primary goal was the patent cross
10 license.
11 Q. BY MR. BOIES: And by "the primary
12 goal," what you mean is the primary goal that you,
13 Mr. Gates, had; is that correct?
14 A. I don't think I'm the only one who had
15 it, but certainly yes, that was the primary goal of
16 myself and for the company.
17 Q. And when you said in your June 23, 1996
18 e-mail, "I have 2 key goals in investing in the Apple
19 relationship," you were talking about yourself
20 personally; is that correct?
21 A. Yeah. When I say "investing in the
22 Apple relationship," that means spending time with
23 Apple and growing the relationship.
24 Q. And when in describing the deal five
25 paragraphs later the very first thing that Microsoft
339





1 gets is, "Apple endorses Microsoft Internet Explorer
2 technology," did that indicate to you that that was
3 an important part of what you were getting in terms
4 of the deal?
5 A. No such deal was ever struck, so I'm
6 not sure what you're saying.
7 Q. Was that an important part of the deal
8 that you were trying to get, sir?
9 A. We never got as far as trying to get
10 that deal, unfortunately.
11 Q. You never got as far as trying to get
12 that deal; is that what you're saying?
13 A. No. Well, in this time frame Gil
14 Amelio's total focus was on his new OS strategy, so
15 what I outlined here we never got them to consider.
16 Q. Well, sir, your e-mail begins, "Last
17 Tuesday night I went down to address the top Apple
18 executives;" correct, sir?
19 A. That's right.
20 Q. And down at the bottom when you're
21 introducing the deal, you say, "I proposed." Now,
22 you're referring to what you proposed to the Apple
23 top executives, are you not, sir?
24 A. Yes.
25 Q. Okay. And what you proposed was
340





1 "the deal" that you then describe at the bottom of
2 the first page and the top of the second page;
3 correct, sir?
4 A. That's right.
5 Q. And that was a deal that you proposed
6 the Tuesday night before June 23, 1996 to what you
7 describe as the top Apple executives; correct, sir?
8 A. I put forward some of those points.
9 Q. Well, you put them forward and you
10 describe them as proposing a deal, correct, sir?
11 A. That's how I describe it here, yes.
12 Q. All right, sir. Now, you'd said that
13 the deal that you were talking about never got done.
14 Did you ever get Apple to endorse Microsoft Internet
15 Explorer technology?
16 A. You're trying to just read part of
17 that?
18 Q. I'm actually -- what I'm doing is
19 asking a question right now, sir. I'm asking whether
20 in 1996 or otherwise, at any time did you get Apple
21 to endorse Microsoft Internet Explorer technology?
22 A. Well, you can get a copy of the
23 agreement we reached with Apple and decide if in
24 reading that you think it meets that criteria or not.
25 Q. Sir, I'm asking you, as the chief
341





1 executive officer of Microsoft, I'm asking you
2 whether you believe that you achieved that objective?
3 A. We did not get some exclusive
4 endorsement. We did get some -- there's some part of
5 the deal that has to do with Internet Explorer
6 technology.
7 Q. Do you know what that part of the deal
8 is?
9 A. Not really. It has something to do
10 with they will at least ship it along with other
11 browsers.
12 Q. Does the deal prohibit them from
13 shipping Netscape's browser without also shipping
14 Internet Explorer?
15 A. I'd have to look at the deal to
16 understand.
17 Q. It is your testimony sitting here today
18 under oath that you simply don't know one way or the
19 other whether Apple is today free to ship Netscape's
20 browser without also shipping Internet Explorer?
21 A. That's right.
22 Q. When you identify things as key goals,
23 do you typically tend to follow up and see to what
24 extent those goals have been achieved?
25 A. In a very general sense, yes.
342





1 Q. Did you ever follow up to see whether
2 one of the two key goals that you identify in your
3 1996 e-mail to Mr. Maritz and Mr. Silverberg and
4 others of getting Apple to embrace Internet Explorer
5 technology in some way had been achieved?
6 A. Well, certainly what I said here,
7 "I have 2 key goals in investing in the Apple
8 relationship," that -- those weren't achieved because
9 the investments I made were with Gil Amelio, who was
10 fired from Apple very soon thereafter.
11 Q. Was there something about Mr. Amelio
12 getting fired that changed what your goals were for
13 the Apple relationship?
14 A. I said, "I have 2 key goals in
15 investing in the Apple relationship." The form that
16 investment took was spending time with Gil Amelio.
17 That turned out to be wasted time because he was
18 fired from Apple rather abruptly within about, oh,
19 eight months of this.
20 Q. When he was fired, did that change what
21 goals you had for the Apple relationship, Mr. Gates?
22 A. It was basically a complete restart
23 because we had to understand what the new management,
24 what they were going to do with Apple and where they
25 were going.
343





1 Q. Did your goals change?
2 A. Goals for what? For investing in the
3 relationship?
4 Q. You say in this e-mail you have two key
5 goals for investing in the Apple relationship. One
6 of --
7 A. In investing in the Apple relationship.
8 Q. One of them is to get Apple to embrace
9 Internet Explorer technology in some way. What I'm
10 asking you is whether that changed after this person
11 got fired?
12 A. We re-evaluated all of our thoughts
13 about working with Apple based on what the new
14 management was going to do, whether they were going
15 to target the machines, what they were going to do
16 with their machines. Since they continued to say we
17 were in violation of their patents, it continued to
18 be our top goal to get some type of patent cross
19 license.

They used this sort of patent collusion also with IBM, not just with Apple, to reinforce control over fonts, codecs and GUIs, among other things, as we noted in past years. If this is the net effect of patents, what good are they to the rest of us?

Billionaires don’t even have to compete when they call their rivals “pirates” (Gates uses this word a lot), then blackmail them in courtrooms, or just threaten them out of the market with threats (‘legalised’ extortion) alone, as we noted earlier today. No wonder the rich keep getting so much richer. They make up rules that perpetuate and accentuate this gross injustice/inequality.

10.12.20

Microsoft 2020 Spin: We’re a Tiny Little Startup Challenging Giant and Evil Monopolies

Posted in Antitrust, Apple, Deception, Google, Microsoft at 5:07 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Florian Müller  on Microsoft hypocrisy

Florian Müller  on Microsoft hypocrisy

Summary: Florian Müller, who studied this case in great depth and was even paid by Microsoft at one point, calls out Microsoft’s bluff, as does the judge

08.06.20

Miseducation

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft at 9:30 am by Guest Editorial Team

2020 figosdev

Index

Who's programming who?
Who’s programming who? Chapter 3: Miseducation

Summary: “…the real crime (OLPC founder Nicholas Negropontes word for it) is that schools aren’t teaching computers at all — they’re doing application training.”

Given that attendance is mandated, you would hope that the school curriculum was harder to turn into a subsidised marketing opportunity for large corporations. The snack machines in the halls when I was in high school tell another story. Don’t get me wrong, kids love junk food and so did I, and I was a customer of those machines. Whether they are closer to a public good or subsidised marketing is another matter entirely.

“Although the library is a great place to promote freedom and so an ideal place to use Free software, training everyone in the use of Microsoft products at school helps Microsoft to maintain a monopoly — to the point where Microsoft is willing to lower prices to encourage school purchases.”Where else can you find schools marketing products of questionable public value? The computer labs and libraries are two examples. Although the library is a great place to promote freedom and so an ideal place to use Free software, training everyone in the use of Microsoft products at school helps Microsoft to maintain a monopoly — to the point where Microsoft is willing to lower prices to encourage school purchases.

There was another well-known situation where Microsoft was willing to lower prices — anti-competitively, to keep OEMs (brand computer companies) from offering a choice of operating systems. If OEMs sold only computers with Microsoft products, Microsoft would keep the OEM licenses at a rate that ensured OEMs wouldn’t consider the threat to their bottom line by giving choices to the customer. Tapping into schools is just another way for customers to gain the impression that Windows and computing are the same thing — unless you have a Mac.

“The iPad is a primarily a device for “consuming” data as a product.”Apple is no saint in this regard either, sweetening deals for iPads when Steve Jobs wouldn’t let his own children have one. He wasn’t being stingy — Jobs simply didn’t want his own children raised with the computing equivalent of crack cocaine; something habit-forming and lower value than a real computer. The iPad is a primarily a device for “consuming” data as a product.

It’s a shame that Apple went in this direction, because in their earlier days, Apple products were better for education. With BASIC on startup, not unlike the C64, and countless other products from Logo to “edutainment” games for school, to HyperTalk, Apple was once a platform almost ideal for schools.

I say this not as a fan — I hated the company for their condescending advertising campaigns — for acting like there was no such thing as a good car with a manual transmission, or the computer equivalent of that. For all their offerings related to education, their branding was based on celebrating and encouraging the cluelessness of the user. Apple was (and still is) an odd company.

“By the time they’re out of school, these companies will have changed the tools nearly as much as if they were different products from different companies, so what schools are really doing is conditioning future customers — doing free marketing for Microsoft and Apple, at a cost to the schools.”The argument for doing all this is that schools are simply training students in the tools they will use outside school. By the time they’re out of school, these companies will have changed the tools nearly as much as if they were different products from different companies, so what schools are really doing is conditioning future customers — doing free marketing for Microsoft and Apple, at a cost to the schools.

Schools would ideally be an opportunity to enhance education, not merely train corporate workers. Many of the applications used in corporate settings will differ from Word and Excel, and the “training workers” argument has the same problems as Pascal’s wager — how are you preparing workers with Microsoft products, if they end up in an Apple workplace?

But the real crime (OLPC founder Nicholas Negropontes word for it) is that schools aren’t teaching computers at all — they’re doing application training. And it’s one thing to teach people how to use tools from the workplace, but quite another to teach people how to be helpless.

“For years, starting with the 1990s, education shifted from teaching about computers to focusing on applications; and this shift is the real way in which schools have sold out their students.”When computer education in schools began, they weren’t merely learning to use applications — they were learning more universal computer skills. For years, starting with the 1990s, education shifted from teaching about computers to focusing on applications; and this shift is the real way in which schools have sold out their students.

Progress is being made, with schools that teach all students about coding instead of merely offering it as an elective. But Microsoft has a history of corralling skills into Windows-only silos, even when it takes years to do so. If you let Microsoft teach coding, they will shift this universal skill into coding for Microsoft. It’s what they do.

People who can code are qualified to work with Free software. Whether their skills are basic or advanced, The biggest problem with using Free software is the fear of breaking something. Computers did not always come with operating systems pre-installed; there were plenty of customers who could install an OS who couldn’t even write code.

“We owe the entire world better than this, but at least let’s not condition children to depend on unethical corporations for their computing. We could be teaching them how to create their own future, instead of preparing them for the one some corporation wants.”While coding won’t necessarily directly help with operating system installation, the skills you learn while coding (including debugging) are skills that can be applied to managing a less familiar software platform — the OS included.

Denying students this opportunity makes them more dependent on proprietary software, and schools that only offer Microsoft or Apple products (while more people have Android on their phones) are shortchanging both the students and the future. This is not an endorsement of Android or Google, both of which are nearly as terrible as the iPad itself. Another way in which it is terrible to subject students to these products is the limitless corporate surveillance it puts in schools.

We owe the entire world better than this, but at least let’s not condition children to depend on unethical corporations for their computing. We could be teaching them how to create their own future, instead of preparing them for the one some corporation wants.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)

07.27.20

Contrary to Common Myths, Free Software and GNU/Linux Are Typically Way Ahead of Proprietary Software (Which Copies and Then Patents)

Posted in Apple, Deception, Europe, GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Patents at 11:23 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

But there’s no time to properly assess prior art and GNU/Linux sites like Techrights are blocked by the European Patent Office (EPO)

Office Poznan

Summary: Examiners are urged/pressured to assess so-called ‘inventions’ in the domain of software; not only are these not patentable (patent-ineligible) but most of the time they’re not novel either (the real inventors never patented these and would not bother, either)

THE TRUTH of the matter is, software patents should not be granted in Europe. But corrupt management nowadays compels examiners to do so anyway; both António Campinos and Benoît Battistelli block Techrights and, as Florian Müller pointed out half a decade ago, this means that they limit examiners’ access to prior art. What kind of patent office is this? Great Firewall of China? Eponia’s copy of it?

Free software enthusiasts will likely be able to explain the history of GNU, which predates Linux by nearly a decade. Well before Windows 95 or even Windows 3.11 (when the monopoly started to gather momentum) there were already decent systems, both from the GNU and BSD camps (the UNIX/POSIX realm). There was also Apple, but it was very expensive. Nowadays it seems increasingly evident that Apple and Microsoft mostly imitate and rarely innovate; but guess who gets the patents at the end? The first to apply, not the first to implement or ‘invent’…

A meme with examples:

Star Trek Vs MCU superheroes: I now have a 'dark mode'; GNU/Linux did that in the 1991-95 era; You can now install anything from one place; Ever heard of apt-get? We only have $100,000,000,000 in debt and 100,000 patents; We borrow and patent nothing

“We borrow and patent nothing…”

That sums it up.

Free software isn’t crafted based on proprietary code, whereas the opposite is sometimes true. Companies like Apple and Microsoft habitually ‘borrow’ code that’s Free/libre to craft proprietary ripoffs. The opposite isn’t possible, at least not legally, and it’s easy to get caught; it’s almost unavoidable because a Free software developer’s code lays bare for all to see (and for companies to compare to their own). Remember the SCO lawsuit? How did that work out for SCO?

Software patents are in general a very dumb idea because software changes very fast and things are copied a lot, typically without it infringing any law. It’s time to put an end to such patents, completely.

06.27.20

Shopping and Materialism on the Demise, Just like Proprietary Software

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, IBM, Microsoft at 3:56 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Star Trek Black Friday: Proprietary Software 'consumers' fighting over everything while Free software enthusiasts download stuff for free and don't get what the whole fuss is about

Summary: The old way of doing business may be coming to an end; but the monopolists of the past are now increasingly eager to hijack whatever renders them obsolete

APPLE is closing stores again. Too much of COVID-19. Apple is also blasting its own foot, or pulling the rug from under developers’ and users’ feet by changing hardware interfaces.

Microsoft is shutting down whole units. It’s laying off staff. It’s faking its financial results to appease gullible investors who find buzzwords like “cloud” alluring. A reader sent us this article from yesterday (screenshot below):

Microsoft Is Permanently Shutting Down All 83 of Its Retail Stores

Yes, that means many more layoffs (but unannounced perhaps, due to the temping/contracting loophole).

We already know, based on numerous independent data points, that GNU/Linux is gaining. OEMs have witnessed the same thing and the biggest OEMs increasingly offer GNU/Linux as a default option. That’s good. It’s definitely better than those OEMs offering no choice other than Windows.

“We already know, based on numerous independent data points, that GNU/Linux is gaining.”Almost a fortnight ago shops reopened here in the UK. The ‘non-essential’ type. I went to Town within one hour of them reopening and found the whole experience depressing at best. Not because it was overcrowded (after nearly 3 months’ shut-down) but the exact opposite. I went to those stores twice more since then. The shopping malls, the stores around Town (outdoors), the kiosks… all of them mostly empty (and strict rules for those that actually reopened; many did not). My wife saw the same thing yesterday and was disappointed if not frustrated, not because she enjoys shopping (we’re not into consumerism) but because it looked like businesses would not survive. Not enough shoppers, barely any demand. Perhaps people learned to just pursue the basics while reusing and recycling what they already had. That’s very good for the environment, but with no job prospects we may need something like the “New Deal” (lots of people are unoccupied or grossly under-occupied; some occupants, as in tenants, cannot even pay rent).

“With the abduction of the Linux Foundation, the OSI and so on their vision is almost fulfilled.”Critical thinkers and sceptics alike would likely say that the writings are on the wall; people can barely buy stuff, let alone rent anything (the short-term contingency when ownership isn’t feasible). In these arduous, difficult conditions Free software, of which GNU/Linux is a subset, is set to thrive. People have a lot of time, but not a lot of money. They’re willing to learn new things, but not to spent/waste a lot of money. The corporate coup against GNU/Linux will most certainly carry on. Microsoft will tell us that it “loves” what replaces Windows (more so if you use that thing under Windows and pay for alleged patent infringements). IBM will put systemd in everything and outsource to Microsoft, as it did 3 decades ago.

There should be no question about it in anybody’s mind; the old world of software is dying, so right now those companies are preoccupied with hijacking what replaces them. We, as a community, need to react and respond to that. Otherwise we’ll have another prison or 4 more walls around us, disguised as “Open Source”, promising us not Freedom but a free GitHub account so we can become some volunteer workforce for Microsoft, for Facebook, for IBM…

With the abduction of the Linux Foundation, the OSI and so on their vision is almost fulfilled. We need to take back control. This recession if not depression may kill some of them; let’s not drown together with them.

05.22.20

Fiduciary Technology: Why It’s Often Impermissible to Use Microsoft (But It’s Done Anyway)

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 11:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Original by Mitchel Lewis at Medium (reproduced with permission)

Drake Microsoft

Summary: “As such and if your CTO isn’t actively moving tooling out of the Microsoft ecosystem like bailing water out of a sinking ship, then you should probably be looking for a new CTO.”

Leadership of public companies have one job: maximize shareholder value. Although the roles and governance of executives can vary wildly, CEOs, CFOs, CIOs, CSOs, and CTOs all operate in capacities that serve as a means to maximize value in their own way. Try as they might to muddy the waters and minimize this objective with discussions of ethically grounded missions and humanitarian causes, this is all done for PR purposes and executives of major corporations could be fired, fined, and possibly even thrown in jail for placing anything above shareholder value. It is their fiduciary duty; their modus operandi; their north star; their prime directive; their alpha and omega; their mecca; their great white buffalo; their holiest of holies; etc etc.

Since competitive trade is a form of war that is won with efficiency, CTOs, in particular, are tasked primarily with outfitting their company with the most efficient, secure, and reliable (dare I say best?) tools available in an effort to give their company a competitive advantage against their market competition. Quality isn’t cheap nor is it very objective in a world dominated by pervasive marketing where everyone markets themselves as the best, so a bevy of experience, tact, and research is required to navigate these waters successfully. In their world, minor insights can save millions while minor mistakes can cost millions just the same. Put simply, it’s the CTOs job to maximize shareholder value by constantly optimizing their tooling in favor of efficiency and revenue per employee metrics.

Ironically, the IT solutions that are the most complex, least secure, most unreliable, and most expensive over their lifespan, the worst solutions if you will, tend to be inexpensive upfront while the best solutions tend to be their inverse in that they are the simplest, most secure, most reliable, and least expensive over time tend to have higher financial burdens for entry. In comparison to the worst solutions, the best solutions also tend to be more agreeable for end users which maximizes revenue per employee while also minimizing downtime, the #1 IT expense for most organizations, along with reducing the labor required to maintain said technology to prevent downtime which is the #2 IT expense for most organizations; the initial cost of hardware and software licensing is a distant 3rd.

Based on this alone, one might expect that executive decision-makers in IT to be keeping companies on the simplest, most secure, and most reliable solutions available but this is hardly the case. Despite sparing no expense on IT and having grizzled veterans at the helm, anyone working in corporate America can confirm that the opposite often appears to be true. Almost as if they have pedestrians at the helm, most corporations can be found locked into a complicated hellscape of poorly implemented and virtually unsupportable IT solutions with a hodgepodge of cloud solutions that barely work while paying 3–5x more than they should be for their IT infrastructure as a consequence of all of this. In turn, this artificially limits user productivity and requires them to employ more people than they would otherwise have to if they were standardized on more efficient tooling; better tooling, less labor.

For example and even though both Apple and Linux solutions have been humbling Microsoft solutions for decades by generating anywhere from 1/2 to 1/3 of their ownership costs over their lifespan, you can still find that most major corporations and small-medium businesses are standardized on Microsoft solutions as if the opposite were true. In most scenarios, Microsoft solutions create more downtime, require more labor to implement and maintain, and are generally more complicated and more expensive than their market competition. In fact and when remembering that the majority of IT expenses occur after purchase, there is so much of a quality disparity between Microsoft solutions and their market competition that they often still wouldn’t financially competitive even if their licensing costs were free.

“Put simply, the implementation of Microsoft solutions puts any company at a significant competitive disadvantage from the perspectives of productivity and reliability while leaving them vulnerable to security breaches in comparison to competitors in the same market that are standardized on more efficient and secure Linux and/or Apple solutions.”Oddly enough, even when comparing Microsoft and Apple, both of which are standardized on their products, you’ll find that Apple generates 2–3x more revenue per employee on an enterprise scale. Although purely a coincidence, when IBM made the move over to the Apple ecosystem in 2016, they noticed their total ownership costs reduce to 1/3 that of their PC infrastructure. In doing this, support cases along with the requisite labor, downtime, and degraded productivity associated with them dropped dramatically as well when compared to their PC infrastructure. As far as CTOs are concerned, this is

On top of the added costs from downtime and labor inherent to standardizing on Windows, 99% of all ransomware attacks occur on Windows while half of all of their users in their vulnerable cloud services are actively being poked and prodded by various exploits and attacks at any given time. Microsoft solutions are also the most exploited in the industry and require more ancillary services and layers of defense to fortify their integrity which introduces even more complexity into the environment while reducing convenience and driving costs even higher. Put simply, the implementation of Microsoft solutions puts any company at a significant competitive disadvantage from the perspectives of productivity and reliability while leaving them vulnerable to security breaches in comparison to competitors in the same market that are standardized on more efficient and secure Linux and/or Apple solutions.

Drake not Microsoft

When considering the fiduciary duty of CTOs along with the the financial and operational shortcomings of Microsoft solutions in today’s market, one might think that a large component of a CTOs role is to avoid Microsoft solutions altogether as if they were sitting in a box labeled “COVID-19 Mucus Samples” or at the very least keeping their implementation to a minimum, and they would be right to some degree. But Microsoft’s market position indicates that this is clearly not happening and Microsoft PCs along with their sketchy suites of productivity and server software persist as the industry standard when no objective measure can merit such a reception.

From another angle, it seems as if the vast supermajority of CTOs are failing miserably at fulfilling their fiduciary duty by continuing to militantly implement Microsoft solutions to the point of them being the status quo throughout industry. There could be several potential reasons for this, sheer ignorance possibly being one of them.

At the level of CTO, one might think that an aptitude with the philosophy of technology, IT architecture, and IT finance is skills is must, but as is the case elsewhere in life, it’s often more of a question of who you know, how loyal you are, and how well they tow the company line in these positions. As such, many of those being paid to be experts in IT architecture and finance as a CTO is may not be as polished as they’d like you to believe. Although it may be news to people who don’t live and breathe IT finance and architecture that the majority of IT expenses occur after purchase and that focusing on initial price alone is a fool’s game, such understanding is fundamental in the realms of accounting and architecting information technology.

Alternatively, it could also be a simple case of bygones in leadership positions and old habits dying hard. To their credit, there was a time when the above was not true about Microsoft solutions and their dominant market position was earned but those days are gone. Despite working in technology, a word that is almost synonymous with change, anyone in the industry can recall instances with people with a devout preference for the status quo and an overt fear of change; especially among leadership; regardless of how sound the math is. CTO or not, like it or not, we tend to become bygones as we age and the continued prominence of Microsoft products could be a consequence of the tendency of CTOs to be of an older demographic *cough* boomers *cough*.

Another possibility is that they could also be conflicted. Rather than having to learn new technology and architecture, decision-makers can also ensure both their relevance and necessity by continuing to deploy solutions that require their expertise. Those with decades of experience in the Microsoft ecosystem can ensure both their continued relevance and necessity by continuing to implement these products while embracing newer technologies that they’re unfamiliar with can put them at a competitive disadvantage. Just as consultants recommend solutions that generate further necessity for their services, CTOs could be doing the same.

To be fair, CTOs are humans prone to error and technical change is also hard. In the world of enterprise change, it can often feel as if users are so change-averse that they will hate you regardless of whether you deliver them a better solution or a worse one just the same and this is often true. Over time, the pushback one can get from employees and execs by simply trying to improve employee and company efficiency can be astounding. In turn, this pushback can wear on the best of us and suffocate the ambition of entire IT departments.

“…it’s foolish to expect an unambitious CTO to radically change both their mindset and philosophy towards technology at the pinnacle of their career, let alone at their average senior age.”After all, why try to make things better when people resent you for it and potentially jeopardize your job when you can instead safely maintain the status quo and have people praise you for fixing the same problem on a daily basis like some nerdy version of Groundhogs Day? However, mitigating this kind of change apathy is part of the job and those that fail to do so consequently fail to do their job effectively. Although enterprise change is difficult and not for the faint of heart, no one said it was easy, this is why they make the big bucks, and they can always quit if they don’t like it.

Regardless of their reasoning, it isn’t difficult to determine which category your CTO falls into though; it’s just a career limiting move. For example and if your CTO can’t even tell you the proper order of IT expenses, then they’re most likely ignorant; chances are they won’t even be able to tell you what technology is. If they’re spouting off old debunked rhetoric about Apple or Linux solutions not having a place in the enterprise in response to the mere notion of implementing Apple or Linux solutions, then they’re most likely a bygone. And if they’re compromised, then they’ll likely avoid this conversation altogether or become incredibly petulant when cornered on the subject.

But whether they’re some combination of an ignorant, jaded, and compromised bygone is of little consequence as the result is still the same regardless of the road they travel on. That said, CTOs are seemingly failing to fulfill their fiduciary duties throughout industry by continuing to implement Microsoft and other antiquated solutions as if they were everything that they clearly are not. Few seem to have the chutzpah to adhere to their fiduciary duty to the point of obsoleting themselves and jeopardizing their relevance by implementing better solutions beyond their expertise.

In summary, it’s the primary role of a CTO to give their company a competitive advantage by ensuring that it has the most efficient tooling which many in these roles are failing at presently. Given Microsoft’s market stance and prominence throughout industry and since the name Microsoft is effectively anti-correlated with word quality while their products lack a competitive advantage or value proposition, a large component of a modern CTOs job is naturally to reduce Microsoft’s footprint within their infrastructure as much as possible and replace their tools with better alternatives from Apple, Linux, and the like; which again, many are failing at. Reasons such as this are why Microsoft has had to resort to the lock-in and anti-competitive tactics that they became notorious for

As such and if your CTO isn’t actively moving tooling out of the Microsoft ecosystem like bailing water out of a sinking ship, then you should probably be looking for a new CTO. Just as it’s a fool’s game to emphasize on initial price instead of the total cost of ownership or to expect the tired solutions produced by a tired monopoly propped up by the same tired lawyers to magically get better by several orders of magnitude any time soon, it’s foolish to expect an unambitious CTO to radically change both their mindset and philosophy towards technology at the pinnacle of their career, let alone at their average senior age. Many have generous exit packages while countless people under their employment have been let go under similar performance-related circumstances, so they shouldn’t take it personally.

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