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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.

05.14.20

The World Class Sins of GIAFAM

Posted in Antitrust, Apple, Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Google, IBM, Microsoft at 12:54 am by Guest Editorial Team

Article by figosdev

Sins

Summary: “They corrupted Torvalds and the Linux Foundation, they slander free software activists — and while comparing real activism to “religion” they themselves have an unholy army of shills called “Evangelists” who produce and follow script-like screeds on how to lie to, manipulate and exploit customers and competing developers and CEOs alike.”

Techrights is not a political blog, and this article is not about partisan politics. Yet the moment you put the word “free” in front of “software”, you unavoidably become political because freedom is a political matter.

This article is really not (at all) about Donald Trump, and I have the option of knowing that here is a perfect illustration — one where the entire world is watching, pitying and commenting, and not bringing up the name of a corrupt CEO just because he happens to (post impeachment) occupy the White House.

“Yet the moment you put the word “free” in front of “software”, you unavoidably become political because freedom is a political matter.”Yet the world is well aware of his crimes, just as they are aware of the crimes of GIAFAM and the DOJ that used go through the motions of preventing them from taking over the world, or at least the country. These are not small things, and some may pose an existential threat to the Constitution of the United States. At the risk of sounding Americentric, it’s a known fact that the world cares about some aspects of this. The regime does not represent the feelings of most Americans, the majority of which do not wish the world to suffer for any corrupt government, world power or otherwise.

Of oft and substantial relevance to the tech world is that government in question does not represent The People. It foremost represents multinational corporations, cartels and weapons manufacturers. It represents war for profit, death for profit and the impoverishment and exploitation of everyday people for profit. It represents crushing citizen journalism and the freedom of the internet — it tortures people like Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange, simply for making the world more aware of the truth. But try to remind people that the tech companies play a significant role in this corruption and injustice, and just watch what happens!

Matters like these are where the “politics” we don’t talk about here carry over into the world of “politics” that we do talk about — because Free software is indeed about freedom, including the freedom of speech, the press, and by extension the Internet and computing in general. You really can’t have user rights or digital rights without Human rights.

“You really can’t have user rights or digital rights without Human rights.”Some people will imply that you have no right to disagree, on a number of topics which are increasingly considered sacred. I think it’s very important to point out that in a democracy people have not only a right to disagree, but without that right democracy cannot have any meaning.

Science cannot (does not) happen if we are forced to agree on the outcome. Politics are not of The People, if the people are not allowed to represent their own points of view. Since not everyone agrees in the first place, disagreements are a hallmark of a free society. So if there is any doubt as to whether we should have the right to disagree, just read that part again.

I am also aware of the fact (it is one of the complaints of this article) that many people who reserve the right to voice their opinion are manipulated and misled. This manipulation has many levels, from a very natural baseline (simply caring what your closest family and friends think, even if you don’t always agree) to the most egregious and sinister. None of this negates the right to speak, but that is not the point of this article either — it is merely a preface.

It’s John Stuart Mill who is quoted as saying “Bad men need nothing more to compass their ends, than that good men should look on and do nothing.” If worded today, it would probably be (more explicitly) gender-neutral and remain just as valid, but the point is the real moral issue of apathy, and misplaced neutrality.

“We should do everything we reasonably can to base things on evidence and proof, that’s a hallmark of due process.”There is a certainly a place for neutrality, and situations where it is absolutely necessary. Neutrality is where all real justice begins — setting aside your prejudices to the greatest of your ability, and looking at issues themselves over names and accumulated personal baggage. This is how we judge fairly — by wiping the slate before looking at the evidence.

Some people have turned this into an insane, fatalistic kind of neutrality where the slate remains clean no matter what — at least for certain wealthy and well-connected parties. Such people expect us and tell us as much to examine every fact as if no other context exists at all, as though everything they’ve ever done (which is already public knowledge) is off the record.

It’s as if someone accused of beating 15 people to death with a hammer is defended by saying “we don’t know anything about this person, really — it’s not as if we live out every day with them, is it?” when we have not only a signed confession from the accused, but the fact that they served 28 years previously for an identical crime.

Let’s be as fair as we possibly can be about this. The prior history indeed does not prove guilt. But it’s not irrelevant, either. When we have mountains of proof and very little evidence to the contrary — the least we can do is admit to ourselves that it’s not a silly question to ask if the party might be guilty!

“Linus Torvalds calls it extremism, and “hate”.”We should do everything we reasonably can to base things on evidence and proof, that’s a hallmark of due process. But when people defend the worst of these corporations in their efforts to sell out the users that pay for the privilege of being under constant surveillance and manipulation — the response is often akin to “You have NO RIGHT to accuse my client of such things!”

No right — really, now? With all we know, I would say we have more than a right, we have an obligation. Yet we are constantly being “informed” that to be a “decent person”, to “be nice”, to avoid being labeled a “zealot” we must assume good intentions from the worst offenders. In other words, the slate must always remain immaculate. That’s a circular argument they’re foisting on the world: “My client MUST be found innocent!” It’s wrong to even suggest otherwise. “How dare you, Sir!” Jim Zemlin, without a hint of irony, compares it to “kicking a puppy”. Linus Torvalds calls it extremism, and “hate”. What the F$$$, Linus?

“You know it’s a corporate cult when they leave no aspect of your life alone.”This is indeed a cult tactic, and we should be troubled by how far it has encroached on our lives and even our personal relationships (Facebook) hobbies (Software development), Art (extreme copyright laws and RELATED technical measures; damn you, lxo) and activism (bribery and gradual takeover of non-profit organisations).

You know it’s a corporate cult when they leave no aspect of your life alone. Yet if they had kooky beliefs about God or aliens, we would treat it as a cancer on society, but if the kooky beliefs are about letting CEOs overhaul every single aspect of our own lives solely so their companies can profit and control people, we don’t treat this as far something more threatening. We have allowed this cult to enter — and own — the mainstream.

I am not (as of yet) anti-capitalist, anarchist or communist. I lean libertarian, but without question more towards the left of libertarianism’s centre. I think we need the anti-capitalists, we may well need the anarchists, if only for their point of view, and I may even get along with a self-proclaimed communist on occasion — but we come from different worlds and they can certainly tell. Above all, there is a fierce humanitarianism in my politics, with strong devotion to the diversity of ideas and freedom of expression — of control over your own life. If you can’t say you have control over your own life, then what is freedom?

“If you can’t say you have control over your own life, then what is freedom?”With regards to speech, some people now say “people just want to have speech without consequences” — and exactly what “consequences” do you promote just for having and stating an opinion? That says a great deal about a person’s real attitude towards freedom.

Not that this freedom negates our responsibility to use it wisely and ethically. In my opinion, you have every single right to say something foolish. But you have a responsibility to use your head (whatever the outcome of that) and to use your voice, when you know that something is wrong. The right to free speech also implies a need to listen — but that’s not something that our culture excels at. To be fair, our culture is constantly bombarded with nonsense.

I believe there are exceptions to a responsibility to express ourselves, of course — there is a time for diplomacy, and a time to stay strategically quiet. But these are still exceptions, and we all suffer greatly when they instead become the rule. Everything we care about suffers, when we decide to become overly quiet and self-censor as a way of life.

“So the danger of letting career criminals determine every facet of our culture is truly existential — they will not only literally pollute and poison our planetary ecosystem to death, but they will ultimately (and gradually) demand that we all cease to advocate for anything good at all.”We become a lesser humanity, a weaker, more pliable (more naive) culture when we let institutions take over our own jobs of determining our identities, and outsource our moral decision-making to them. When these institutions take over the job of speaking for us, no one speaks for us at all. We must participate, in an active, self-determined role at least sometimes, or our will itself is something dead — to say the least of our freedom.

So the danger of letting career criminals determine every facet of our culture is truly existential — they will not only literally pollute and poison our planetary ecosystem to death, but they will ultimately (and gradually) demand that we all cease to advocate for anything good at all.

When you ask yourself how anybody could defend the unfettered madness of the Trump regime, ask yourself how by contrast you can remain quiet, complacent and even overly and openly sceptical about the following:

Google bribes non-profits — thousands (sometimes 10,000 or more, from what I’ve read lately) of dollars at at time. Like the other tech giants, it participates in a cynical brand of “Open source” (the only kind of Open source that ever existed, in my opinion — not that it hasn’t gotten notably worse of late, on which the FSF says practically nothing) where some components are thrown on a heap of freely-licensed projects that often have little purpose outside their own ecosystem — most developers in practice will not adapt them to anything else.

These projects are used predominantly as social currency (openwashing) and bait for non-free offerings. But because of the social currency aspect, they develop large scale (widely perceived) immunity to criticism. Don’t bite the hand that feeds you! Not even if it feeds you poison.

Not content to merely track everything you do online via their ad system, they want to track your phone, your fitness tracker whether you have a Google phone or not, and they listen in on your conversations with so-called “smart” speakers. (Amazon does the same, and Microsoft is getting into this as well). Google is creating an absolutely textbook dystopian sci-fi future in the present — but who cares?

“IBM taught Microsoft everything it knows about how to play the Monopoly game — how to take out all competition with tactics that antitrust law should prevent, but doesn’t.”Former Google social network fanboys who demonstrate no qualms with their surveillance in practice like to regularly talk down to free speech advocates on what freedom of speech really means, as though such freedom could ever exist even hypothetically in Google’s corporate fascist surveillance state — all while Google and the Chinese government alike continue to hone and promote their content analysis and censorship systems.

IBM taught Microsoft everything it knows about how to play the Monopoly game — how to take out all competition with tactics that antitrust law should prevent, but doesn’t. How to stay on top when competitors are doing things that are better, using lawyers and market saturation and by simply being bigger to start with.

It has a deal to pay Holocaust survivor organisations that depends on not being forced to admit to or apologise for its role in the Holocaust, and today (through its purchase of Red Hat) it preaches “tolerance and diversity” while developing algorithms to flag people on surveillance camera by race — to activists that have no real problem with diversity in the first place (who are regularly defended by members of disenfranchised groups as being helpful and inspiring, but continue to be accused of wrong-doing by corporate P.R. people to destabilise political movements in tech).

The result of this slander by corporations is people leaving behind more grassroots organisations for ones that have greater sympathy to and cooperate more with monopoly tech giants. They continue to support lawsuits over bogus software patents, though Techrights (really) is the best place I know to follow where they stand on that matter. I’m aware of my bias there, but I can’t find a competing outlet (unless it’s one that Techrights already quotes, cooperates with and speaks well enough of).

“The result of this slander by corporations is people leaving behind more grassroots organisations for ones that have greater sympathy to and cooperate more with monopoly tech giants.”Apple is Apple. Like other corporations (HP, Red Hat) that started literally in a garage or flat, Apple exists to get you to pay for perceived luxury items that thumb their nose at standards and compatibility. They somehow managed to turn BSD into a convoluted, relatively insecure platform that focuses on the GUI design over any other sane implementations, informally joined Microsoft’s war against the GPL and successfully imposed the idea of an “App Store” where being able to rely on your phone or tablet largely depends on letting one company decide whose software you can run, whether you like it or not.

The details always change, but what doesn’t is the way that this hurts the user’s ability to run the software they want. Only Apple could have gotten away with imposing such restriction on users initially. Once successful, this concept has spread to Microsoft, Google (who still doesn’t abuse it to the level that Apple has) and even Ubuntu with Snap packages and (less restrictively, but still problematically) Red Hat with Flatpak. All of the solutions are more restrictive than traditional packages, most are justified with a cynical take on what “security” really means.

Apple also deliberately sabotages existing operating system installations to make them more obsolete (a bit like those damned speakers that brick themselves) though Apple users (like some Microsoft fanboys) tend to internalise and ultimately sympathise with so much corporate abuse that they rarely even complain about it.

Facebook has not only a penchant for, but is built on a foundation of sheer dishonesty, manipulation and exploitation. Like the Gates Foundation and many notably corrupt and unethical billionaires, it tries to buy goodwill by throwing funding at initiatives that appear charitable on the surface — which just happen to lend themselves to further control, influence and indirectly (but not too indirectly) profit for the people “investing” in such “charity”.

Meanwhile, its founder (who has such a good idea about how much privacy you really have, he tapes his own laptop camera) got away with so much from Facebook’s inception that he was astonished how gullible his own users were. He also expressed a shameless intent to exploit them further. People know the quotes in question, but they still don’t treat Facebook like the digital plantation and surveillance platform (complete with deliberate psychological manipulation of users, for research and profit) that it is.

“If you can make use of something you know is deliberately destroying your privacy and manipulating you — and that’s the bulk of what it does — you’ll rubber-stamp this if it also has video chat and a way to post cat pictures to more people?”THIS horrible thing is treated as some kind convenience — which says as much about the modern world as anything does. If you can make use of something you know is deliberately destroying your privacy and manipulating you — and that’s the bulk of what it does — you’ll rubber-stamp this if it also has video chat and a way to post cat pictures to more people? And this is in real life, not some weird, dark sci-fi romantic comedy?

Amazon is easily worse than Apple, not only destroying (through brilliant business acumen, though not without staggering violations of what would be antitrust if such a concept still existed in real life) commerce in general, but posing a serious threat to all libraries by creating a world where publishers (or booksellers) retain the control and surveillance of your personal library after “purchase”. Librarians are some of the fiercest defenders of privacy and free speech and “readers’ rights” on the planet Earth, but they are powerless if the books they offer are encrypted and the keys are controlled by the companies that sell the titles. Richard Stallman wrote about a culture not entirely unlike the one we inhabit now, in “The Right to Read”, but the Kindle did not yet exist. Ever since they unleashed it on the world, I have striven to avoid all business with the company.

If that weren’t enough, they fit their workers with low-level torture devices, the modern equivalent of the old slave-worker cliche of beating a drum to force a certain speed of production. Amazon is not shy about their ambition to fill our skies with the noisy, flying equivalent of the Ring video doorbell, and they turn their workers into desperate android-like machines. We should treat all goods from Amazon as the product of slave labour. Quite a lot of it would be anyway, of course — this approach “merely doubles” the amount of slave-like labour (or slave labour) involved.

Which brings us to Microsoft, a company so terrifying and powerful (or so “convenient”, whatever you like) that all the other companies mentioned have a “Verified” Microsoft Github account with them. Google, IBM, Apple, Facebook, Amazon — all develop software on GitHub. Microsoft paid to help George W. Bush in the 2000 election that ultimately changed American democracy and global war for the next 20 years, they hold the “JEDI” defense contract coveted by Amazon, they have spent literally decades fighting against the very notion of Free-as-in-freedom software, and whenever we let them, they take possession of our computers, deleting and installing whatever software it pleases them to, changing whatever settings they like, even deleting our personal files at times.

“They corrupted Torvalds and the Linux Foundation, they slander free software activists — and while comparing real activism to “religion” they themselves have an unholy army of shills called “Evangelists” who produce and follow script-like screeds on how to lie to, manipulate and exploit customers and competing developers and CEOs alike.”There are still many websites dedicated to criticising Microsoft alone, and while they never got more ethical than before, they have gotten more powerful and better at destroying competitors. They promised to fight Open Source in the late 90s, and easily everything they ever hoped to do to counter software freedom, they have accomplished, with perhaps the sole exception of completely wiping out our software. They don’t need to do that, if they can gain control of it instead.

They continue to prop up bogus patents so that some fraud can “own” software that is already leased in NEAR de facto perpetuity (by the GPL — which is only “in perpetuity” per certain conditions, to be certain) to the public, and they have engaged in the most successful campaigns to water down protections and protests against non-free software of anyone. They corrupted Torvalds and the Linux Foundation, they slander free software activists — and while comparing real activism to “religion” they themselves have an unholy army of shills called “Evangelists” who produce and follow script-like screeds on how to lie to, manipulate and exploit customers and competing developers and CEOs alike. I’ve dealt with such evangelists personally, and many fanboys emulate their tactics.

Microsoft doesn’t just hate user freedom, it openly hates all competitors and all competition that it can’t exploit and bring under its own control. “Control” is synonymous with what Microsoft calls “Love”, a twisted concept consistent with the psychology of the sort of powerful narcissist that Microsoft is merely a world-spanning, techno-financial encounter-suit-like extension of. How utterly poetic then, that the logo for Microsoft GitHub has actual tentacles.

Through “charitable” manipulation and sheer market power, Gates has interfered with and gained influence of countless institutions that society relies on, from hospitals to libraries and schools — much to the chagrin and protest of teachers and administrators alike. To top it off, there is a most disturbing trend of the FLAGSHIP of free software — the GNU project, migrating further and further towards the event horizon of Microsoft GitHub.

“Through “charitable” manipulation and sheer market power, Gates has interfered with and gained influence of countless institutions that society relies on, from hospitals to libraries and schools — much to the chagrin and protest of teachers and administrators alike.”I have a good idea (it’s something I’ve looked unto but haven’t said much about — and YOU can look into this too) just how many current GNU developers continue to trust Microsoft with their own personal software development projects, more than a year after Microsoft took control of GitHub and more than half a year after Stallman was encouraged to step down from leadership of the FSF — while people (likely current or past employees or interns) tried to hack his own blog as a prelude to trying to get him to step down as head of the GNU Project itself.

We have facts on this — with occasional errors but an overall good quality data set, and unless they start covering up the traces, you can check on some of this data yourself. It’s hard to imagine how they would make it impossible to check, but perhaps they could start by making it harder to get information that is now publicly available, perhaps by (as companies sometimes do) moving it to an area that only logged-in subscribers can access. But that’s not enough to stop most journalists, only the general public.

The keystone defense of all this madness is — as with the current American regime, lying constantly. Bribing and even harassing journalists — which Techrights covers, has been subjected to, and which isn’t any real stretch of the imagination in a world where Assange is slowly dying for showing you a video of civilians being murdered against all international law. It shouldn’t surprise people anymore when this very corporate regime does not treat journalists as heroes — it treats them like terrorists.

The principle defense of such a regime is to lie, lie, and lie again. We accept regimes that lie for running our lives, so we should of course accept that anyone who critiques them is a liar, so say we all. This has to be said twice and perhaps a third time, because the first time left someone still questioning it. They will never stop lying, and the critics will always be wrong.

Of course “wrong” is such a strong word, my favourite variety is “unhelpful”. I have no desire to “help” corporations that have done everything possible to earn the label of evil. We should be helping users, not monstercorps, and turning these crimes around on the user being “unhelpful” is really helping what, exactly?

So let’s all divide our shill tactics into two parts — one part that comes right out and tells the most outrageous lies to your face, and other that preaches “moderation” in the face of valid critique. “Be nice”, he says, while robbing everyone to give that much more to his fans. Don’t be unhelpful — that’s not nice.

“A conspiracy theorist begins with facts, discovers “secrets” and quickly spirals out of control.”On the matter of journalists vs. conspiracy theorists, I think there is certainly a line to be drawn. A conspiracy theorist begins with facts, discovers “secrets” and quickly spirals out of control. Some are misinformed or sloppy, others have actual, literal mental problems, and many are doing their best to make sense of a world that they have learned not to trust.

I maintain a distance from conspiracy theorists myself at most times, as most (not all) of them are impossible to sustain a rational conversation with (not all of their conclusions are rational, but some of them are rational in contexts outside their pet theories). But I don’t wish to tar them all with the same brush, and I think the line between conspiracy theory and journalism is relevant to this article.

What makes journalism differ really is that it is more passionate about facts and maintaining context than the mere connections between ideas. Any random two things can be connected in some shape or form — and like a scientist, the most responsible, highest-quality journalist will put more effort towards sorting the real connections from the nonsensical ones, than they put into the discovery of such connections in the first place.

Of course whether you are a scientist, journalist, historian or conspiracy theorist (or just a raving nut) it all begins with drawing connections between ideas and events. Einstein believed there was a direct, mathematical connection between matter and energy, and many peers thought he was insane or at least stupid. It took a lot of work to eventually prove he was right, though he managed. We too can only manage if we have a society that continues to asks honest questions and demand honest answers.

The only difference between reason and raving is what you do with those connections. Many of us try to have (and are capable of) rational, reasonable conversations about them — some of us can really only gibber about random facts and random things they’ve read, but their ability to arrange it into a coherent, consistent pattern or argument is lower than average.

I’m really not making fun of those people, the only time I feel the need is when one has spent the afternoon (or late night) harassing me about something. I don’t think my opinion of them is as low as what many people have, simply because I think they only differ from the rest of us in a single regard.

“When the things being talked about aren’t theories, but things we all know these corporations were taking part in, the people bringing those facts up aren’t conspiracy theorists, they’re journalists.”None of that changes the fact that corporate shills will try to conflate all investigation of corporations with nutty conspiracy “theory”. When the things being talked about aren’t theories, but things we all know these corporations were taking part in, the people bringing those facts up aren’t conspiracy theorists, they’re journalists.

The fact that 5 corporations own 90% of the media companies helps to explain why only a fraction of journalists ever bring these facts up for more than a few days, before speaking dismissively as though such things never happened. Sure, we know about what happened “in the 90s” but that was different! Things have changed.

The people doing the very most to conflate the comparison of commonly known history and current events with “conspiracy theory” tend to be (or tend to favour) marketers, P.R. sleazeballs and anti-journalists. They aren’t standing up for freedom, or for truth — they’re defending freedom’s destruction and trying to make simple facts into things we don’t talk about. They aren’t helping journalism — instead, like the current government regime, they’re attacking it for actually doing its job.

These corporate shills are not people we should emulate, for their purported monopoly on all that is considered “reasonable”. They are people that society must defeat on moral and ethical grounds, or we will not be a society.

“The fact that 5 corporations own 90% of the media companies helps to explain why only a fraction of journalists ever bring these facts up for more than a few days, before speaking dismissively as though such things never happened.”To provide commentary on the subject and also to remind people how pervasive copyright has gotten, the following two or three lines (quoted in a manuscript) would prevent nearly any large publisher from taking it on for printing. Techrights may eventually be forced to remove these few simple lines from a Rod Stewart single, which took me years and years to fully appreciate. They tell the story of a controlling person’s effect on a now disillusioned lover or family member, who knows they’ve been exploited all along — for the sole benefit of the person using them:

If I gave you time to change my mind
I'd find a way just to leave the past behind

I really do love Stewart for recording it, but it was actually written by Tim Hardin as a folk song in 1965 and performed at the Woodstock music festival, so it’s sort of ill-fitting that a giant media corporation will control these 19 (to 28) words in de facto perpetuity — under a flag that Lawrence Lessig once noted before the Supreme Court, constitutionally forbids perpetual copyright.

“These corporate shills are not people we should emulate, for their purported monopoly on all that is considered “reasonable”.”We will be told these companies can change, will change, even have changed — but nothing ever changes except their image, and the bat-$$$$ insane amount of reach they have into all of our lives. On that, Stallman was not just a little bit, but incredibly, unbelievably right. Still we look to find a reason to believe.

Long live rms, and happy hacking.

Licence: Creative Commons CC0 1.0 (public domain)… minus/sans the wonderful and immortal three lines by Tim Hardin.

12.31.19

Like Zemlin, Like Linux.com

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux at 8:58 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

The editor of Linux.com posted this tweet some hours ago. It explains or helps clarify what the Linux Foundation is (and stands for).

Mac and Linux.com
Notice who liked it; SJVN, who as recently as yesterday wrote praises about Microsoft over at ZDNet (with shameless openwashing of the proprietary software giant)

Summary: We’ve long thought of the sole editor of Linux.com as a marketer lying about being a "journalist" and "filmmaker" (no films made). But he’s no marketer; he’s a MAC-eter, just like Jim Zemlin. Linux Foundation people are using Windows and Macs, not Linux. And they’re repeatedly bragging about this in public. That’s how grim things have become.

12.30.19

Very Fine Advocacy From the Sole Person Whom the Linux Foundation Left in Charge of Linux.com After Firing All Staff That Actually Used GNU/Linux

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 3:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Sometimes is feels like the Linux Foundation really hates GNU/Linux (especially on desktops/laptops)

Swapnil on Microsoft

Swapnil on Apple

Swapnil on Macs

Swapnil on Macs

Swapnil on Macs

Summary: The above tweets ought to explain the tone and selection bias of today’s Linux.com, which is hardly about Linux

THESE are the people who nowadays greet visitors to a longstanding site called Linux.com. They’re not even people but one person (all others were laid off this year, without as much as a prior notice or gratitude). Watch who’s running the site; the above are 5 out of 6 of his most recent tweets (the other one is about Donald Trump, not technology).

Some fine Linux advocacy right there! Linux.com saw many dozens if not hundreds of contributors pouring in tens if not hundreds of thousands of hours into Linux.com, only for the site to become a garbage dump with Microsoft advocacy [1, 2, 3]. This is how much the Linux Foundation really values “Linux” (except the trademark which it merely monetises) these days…

10.15.19

…So This GNU/Linux User Goes to a Pub With Swapnil and Jim

Posted in Apple, GNU/Linux, Humour at 11:12 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Linux.com Editor and Linux Foundation Chief

So... I run this thing called Linux Foundation and my friend runs Linux.com. So you use Linux Fuck no!! We're Mac users!

Summary: It’s hard to promote GNU/Linux when you don’t even use it

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