Summary: Various strands of news about patents, focused on issues raised in the latter half of last week
WE habitually publish outlines of news about patent injustice. While we’re not inherently against patents, there are some domains that oughtn’t have patents in them because collective goals are being impeded rather than advanced by them.
Patents on Marijuana Plants
We start this roundup with the eye-catching article about patents on marijuana. To quote Vice: “On August 4, 2015, US officials quietly made history by approving the first-ever patent for a plant containing significant amounts of THC, the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana, according to the patent’s holders, their lawyers, and outside experts in intellectual property law.
“One has to wonder how this relates to already-controversial patents on plants, putting aside the controversy surrounding legalisation of cannabis.”“Patent No. 9095554, issued to a group of breeders in California, “relates to specialty cannabis plants, compositions and methods for making and using said cannabis plants and compositions derived thereof,” according to the 145-page document, which is filled with charts, graphs, and reams of scientific jargon describing a range of hybrid strains with distinctive ratios of cannabinoids.”
One has to wonder how this relates to already-controversial patents on plants, putting aside the controversy surrounding legalisation of cannabis.
An article by Terry Ludlow, CEO at Chipworks, recently referred to patents as something one “develops” (rather than applies for after actually developing something), which probably highlights a common misconception about what patents actually are (many conflate them with physical objects — things that have had patents applied to them).
“Johnson’s assertion that maintaining high patent quality is important should be commended.”
Hewlett Packard (HP), as showed here in past years, promoted software patents even outside the US and MIP has this new interview with HP’s IP litigation counsel. “The California-based counsel shares her views on the state of the IP environment in the US and how professionals can contribute to improvements, particularly in the patent field,” wrote MIP. One part of the interview said this: ‘Johnson adds that “creating and maintaining a balanced patent system that promotes innovation and good, valid patents, while also ensuring that bad, low quality patents are not used to abuse the system and ultimately undermine its effectiveness” is one of the biggest challenges in patent law. She says: “There are three main US venues that address patent disputes – the ITC, PTO, and federal courts. IP litigation counsel in my position have to stay vigilant about understanding trends and the discourse around all three of these venues.”’
We don’t generally regard HP to be so bad on the patent front, either because it doesn’t attack companies using patents all that often or because it doesn’t lobby for software patents as often as companies like GE, Intel, Microsoft, and IBM (comparable in terms of scale). Johnson’s assertion that maintaining high patent quality is important should be commended. Later today we are going to show that Microsoft and IBM push in the opposite direction.
Marathon Patent Group and Satellite Strategies
“It’s important to understand that what we have here is a patent company (or troll) acting as a satellite for another — an increasingly-common loophole to ensure no reactionary lawsuits.”Regarding a case which was mentioned here recently, MIP writes a decent article and so does IP Kat, which said late on Friday: “Dynamic Advances parent company, Marathon Patent Group (a patent licensing company) , stated in its SEC filing that under the terms of the settlement Apple will be granted a licence for the patent and a 3-year covenant not to sue. In exchange, Apple will pay $24.9 million under the agreement, with $5 million of that sum payable upon dismissal of the litigation.”
It’s important to understand that what we have here is a patent company (or troll) acting as a satellite for another — an increasingly-common loophole to ensure no reactionary lawsuits. It’s an anti-deterrence tactic. This discredits the theory of “defensive” patents; how can patents be used defensively against entities which have no products at all? As the headline of this article from a trolls expert put it, “Apple pays $25M to a university—and the patent troll it cut a deal with” (summarised accurately and succinctly).
“So one can see that Marathon Patent Group is nothing but a new (ish) kind of troll.”“Apple has agreed to pay $24.9 million to a “patent troll”,” it says, in order “to end a lawsuit over its Siri voice system, according to documents filed yesterday with the Securities and Exchange Commission. Publicly traded Marathon Patent Group, whose business is focused on patent licensing and lawsuits, will split the settlement cash with Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), the New York technical university that provided the patents.”
So one can see that Marathon Patent Group is nothing but a new (ish) kind of troll.
‘Killing’ Patent Trolls
The Week has published a new article titled “How to kill patent trolls once and for all”. Composed by Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry, who describes himself as “a writer and fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center,” the article starts with some useful background: “Why are patent trolls so deleterious? Well, these companies exist for no other reason than to gobble up patents and then file frivolous lawsuits over semantic patent violations against any target they can find, with the hope of cashing in with a big settlement. Needless to say, this can wreck the finances of startup companies. (If you want more details, listen to this brilliant This American Life investigation of patent trolls from 2011.)”
“Militarisation of the world’s patent systems isn’t new; a lot of weapons manufacturers want a monopoly on ‘innovative’ new ways to kill people.”A commonly-cited (but controversial) study is then cited: “Patent trolls cost defendant firms $29 billion per year in out-of-pocket costs, according to one study. But the drag on innovation is much bigger than that. Think of all the fledgling companies that miss crucial time-to-market opportunities, and whose products don’t reach their full potential, because they have to fight patent trolls. Some would-be entrepreneurs are surely so frightened of patent trolls that they don’t even bother trying.”
The concluding words are these: “Always, always stand up to the bully. It’s the right thing to do, and it also happens to be the smart thing to do.”
That’s what NewEgg has been doing. It can at least afford to.
Militarisation of the world’s patent systems isn’t new; a lot of weapons manufacturers want a monopoly on ‘innovative’ new ways to kill people. A new article, “The Pentagon Turns to Intellectual Property to Protect U.S. Military Dominance”, wants us to believe that there’s something to be cheered for because ‘we’ (readers), supposedly as US citizens, are ‘protected’ by the patent system, which keeps ‘our’ military strong, as if rival armies (like China’s or Russia’s) will bow to some patent offices abroad and pay patent royalties to corporations that try to nuke their nation (if it wasn’t for mutually-assured destruction and other forms of deterrence).
“The excesses/abundance/saturations reduce productivity, waste resources, generally slow down development in various fields, and ultimately help nobody but patent lawyers and their largest clients (usually global monopolists).”
It’s not so unusual to find patent lawyers in the media. They keep spewing out their pro-war/feud (in the patent sense) propaganda and they try to ‘sell’ patents (applications, lawsuits and other such ‘products’), in the same way arms manufacturers do. An article which misses the point that not all patents are equal and similar, e.g. software patents, was published in the Canadian press a couple of days ago. “Patents are no barrier to innovation, despite the myths,” says the headline. Well, ask software engineers about it and see what they say. The author wrote that “Canadian entrepreneurs should be vigilant to protest against measures that would cripple our patent system to the disadvantage of innovators. This vigilance should extend to monitoring changes that may be proposed to our laws pursuant to international treaty negotiations.”
Well, actually, some patents may be good (we don’t deny this), but their breadth and number made them so shallow and impractical to keep track of. The excesses/abundance/saturations reduce productivity, waste resources, generally slow down development in various fields, and ultimately help nobody but patent lawyers and their largest clients (usually global monopolists). A Web site of lawyers in Indiana has just said “Indiana patent law delaying demand letters” and an Australian law firm celebrates “Growth, Growth & More Growth” in so-called ‘IP’ (growth for patent lawyers, not for the economy). The Australian, a paper owned by News Corp. (‘Conservative’), plays along with this type of agenda, having just published “Innovators miss the bus on filing home patents”. The Financial Express, in the mean time, calls “a market-oriented approach (corporate-leaning) to patent box regime. Because hey, who cares what the general public thinks, right?
“WIPO doesn’t care about development. It doesn’t care about people. It doesn’t even care about its own staff, which it sometimes drives to suicide.”In contrast to this, based on this report from Africa, there is some resistance from a minister. “A South African cabinet minister speaking at an international conference on intellectual property has challenged the view that protecting the rights of creators and inventors leads to innovation,” says this report. “Rob Davies, the country’s trade minister, raised eyebrows recently when he told the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) – the global HQ of patents – that the role of patent protection in promoting innovation has been controversial.”
WIPO doesn’t care about development. It doesn’t care about people. It doesn't even care about its own staff, which it sometimes drives to suicide. It’s Gurry’s way or the highway, just like at the EPO where Battistelli (previously competed with Gurry for the WIPO position) believes he is a king, so no opposition — however minute — can be tolerated. █
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Summary: The subversive forces that have secretly been attacking Munich over its migration to GNU/Linux (Microsoft press, Gartner, and even HP) are back to doing it while China and Russia follow Munich’s lead
IT has been quite a while since we last saw such an ugly propaganda effort by Microsoft. Looking carefully at where the propaganda started or came from, we can be pretty sure that Microsoft’s disgraceful and unethical PR agencies are not passive. They are exploiting non-news and something of little significance to make it sound as though something pretty big is happening. They want the public to believe, yet again, that Munich’s migration (which saved a lot of money and was defended by officials repeatedly) is a failure. Microsoft did this many times before and even tried using bribes, bogus ‘reports’, proxy attacks etc. We covered dozens of examples over the years. Munich is dangerous to Microsoft because it sets an example; it shows how a whole city can completely abandon Microsoft and do a lot better thereafter, not just for privacy/autonomy/security reasons but also for technical reasons, not to mention all the local jobs this creates (economic gain).
Microsoft Peter played a role in the propaganda, as one ought to expect. He did, however, reveal that Microsoft bribery against Munich (just like in Norway) seems likely. Microsoft likes to offer facilities in exchange for political favours. We showed how it was done before in numerous countries which were planning too abandon Microsoft. To quote Microsoft Peter: “Microsoft announced last year that it was moving its German headquarters to Munich. This move is planned to take place in 2016. While Reiter was involved in the deal that precipitated the move and describes himself as a “Microsoft fan,” he says the criticism of LiMux is unrelated.”
Everything is related. People don’t compartmentalise their minds like this.
The above is not news; we saw that almost a month ago and reports (English) about it were numerous. “One single *opinion* is causing all the articles,” a reader told us. It was true back then and it is true this week. We must remember that this is not even a new thing, as the German press covered it almost a month ago and the only new thing is Microsoft’s amplification and distortion of the opinion. The Microsoft propaganda machine kicked off; that’s what’s “news”. As we continued to observe the news over the past 24 hours we found that the propaganda pieces came mostly from Microsoft fan sites, all cheering for Microsoft and inciting against Munich’s migration to GNU/Linux. Microsoft must be very afraid after China and Russia announced their plan to abandon Microsoft, so Microsoft ‘fan’ sites (or veiled marketing sites) do their thing, distort the facts, and then post “corrections” (after pressure from readers perhaps). Here is one Microsoft fan site that corrected its propaganda piece by stating: “While the deputy mayor of Munich seems to suggest in the article that the government will strongly consider a return to Windows, it appears a final decision to move from the Linux OS has not yet been officially determined.”
Exactly, there is no news. There’s just some old opinion of one person. But don’t let facts get in Microsoft’s way. Here is the Microsoft-bribed Ed Bott (one of the worst Microsoft boosters, but one who enjoys a platform of CBS and therefore enters “news” aggregation) disseminating the propaganda to a large audience. He has not even corrected his errors yet. The propaganda remains standing the editors let it be.
For now, we are done collecting examples of this Microsoft propaganda output. It’s not news and it’s not about Munich. A deputy mayor is not Munich and his opinion does not have so much weight. He is not a technical person.
It is rather clear that a lot the propaganda about Munich originally came to the English-speaking press from people like Ed Bott (backed by Microsoft) and brought to wider attention in the CBS propaganda network. Prior to that it was possible to find incorrect reports (probably not bad translations) which dared not say that Microsoft is bribing officials again (Microsoft already tried to pay Munich to abandon its Free software project).
The first article we saw about this (in English) came from Geek.com  and cited this article in German. An automated translation states: “End of 2013, the Munich City Council had to switch from Windows to Linux declared to be successfully completed and announced the regular operation of Linux systems to nearly 15,000 jobs.”
OK, so what’s the fuss? The migration is complete, people are generally happy (no nightmare stories in the press), and only shoddy marketing groups like Gartner (which recommends Windows on Microsoft's behalf) continue to badmouth the migration behind closed doors, as we covered numerous years ago. Also behind closed doors, HP attacked Munich’s migration with a report (this was uncovered a couple of years ago), reminding us that HP is only pretending to be competing with Microsoft. As this rebuttal to a piece from the chronically Linux-hostile Verge reminds us, HP too is among the factors antagonising GNU/Linux:
First of all dear, The Verge, it is *not* a Chromebook Killer, because you need to understand what a Chromebook is before calling a low-end laptop with an OS no one wants as a killer laptop.
Now coming back to the news: HP is supposedly working on a low-cost Windows 8.1 laptop which will be sold for $199. It seems like ‘netbook v2′ strategy of Microsoft to hurt Linux. This time it’s not going to happen as we have a heavyweight like Google and not smaller Canonical.
I already regret buying an HP mouse yesterday afternoon. Recalling how HP tried to derail Munich’s migration to GNU/Linux (secretly) should be another reminder of the many US-based forces aligned to destroy an escape from Microsoft, the NSA, the back doors, and PRISM. Munich would have to be insane to go back to Microsoft knowing everything it knows about Microsoft and the NSA, as well as the NSA’a attacks on Germany (espionage). █
Related/contextual items from the news:
A few years ago, Linux sites were buzzing that the city of Munich, Germany was going to kick Windows to the curb and roll out a Linux-based OS on all their government desktops. […]
Update: Munich has fired back at what it claims to be false reports:
Munich city council demonstrated to the world that an organisation employing thousands could ditch Windows and move to Linux and free software.
When the project finished late last year about 15,000 staff at the German authority had been migrated to using Limux, a custom-version of Ubuntu, and OpenOffice.
But is the council’s move to open source about to be scrapped in favour or returning to Microsoft?
No says the council, in spite of numerous reports to the contrary. Suggestions the council has decided to back away from Linux are wrong, according to council spokesman Stefan Hauf.
He said the council’s recently elected mayor Dieter Reiter has instead simply commissioned a report into the future IT system for the council.
“The new mayor has asked the administration to gather the facts so we can decide and make a proposal for the city council how to proceed in future,” he said.
“Not only for Limux but for all of IT. It’s about the organisation, the costs, performance and the useability and satisfaction of the users.”
The study, being conducted by internal IT staff at the council, will consider which operating systems and software packages – both proprietary and open source – would best satisfy this criteria. The study is not, as has been reported, solely focused around the question of whether to drop Limux and move back to Windows, he said.
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“On the same day that CA blasted SCO, Open Source evangelist Eric Raymond revealed a leaked email from SCO’s strategic consultant Mike Anderer to their management. The email details how, surprise surprise, Microsoft has arranged virtually all of SCO’s financing, hiding behind intermediaries like Baystar Capital.”
–Bruce Perens (years back)
Summary: Thoughts and analysis of HP, which despite pretending to have embraced Free/Open Source Software (FOSS) is very much a Microsoft ally, managed to a large degree by people from Microsoft
HP is a scam when it comes to “open source” support. While their hardware is quite Linux-friendly (my wife uses an HP laptop), their extreme/radical policy of self interest in the server room and on the desktop continues to show. Their recent openwashing campaign, which I have campaigned against (they are claiming to invest in FOSS only for marketing purposes, just like IBM), should not impress too easily. What comes to mind is HP’s negative lobbying against FOSS and stories we have heard from Perens (former HP manager for FOSS). It’s all just a charade, intended for the most part to increase sales but also to attract talented staff (recruitment).
HP’s history has been quite well documented in this site for nearly 8 years of its existence. HP is an ally of Microsoft and many of its managers these days are people who worked for Microsoft. In order to keep selling GNU/Linux servers (hardware with GNU/Linux sells better) HP is trying to maintain an image that would appeal to geeks. However, it’s all fake, it’s a façade. Perens proves it now in part by repeating what he wrote some years ago . The stuff Perens says about SCO and HP is dynamite, revealing a huge extent of collusion against GNU/Linux. HP was well aware of it.
Years ago in Slashdot Perens explained how HP offered him AstroTurfing help, i.e. it offered to spawn agents of propaganda if he needed it. To quote Will Hill (from last night): “Yes, I was just thinking about that the other day. He said this in 2008…”
…just about every PR firm offers to help “manage the perception of your company in online communities” these days. What do you think that means? Astroturfing Slashdot, Youtube, etc. In my various manangement positions it’s been offered to me. Indeed, some of the companies offer to create negative publicity for your competition that way – HP had a publicity firm for its Linux activities that told us it would do that when we wanted. I never asked them to do so and hope nobody else did either. This stuff is just standard these days. You’ve got to expect it.
As Hill adds: “There’s a grim similarity between that and government astroturf programs revealed by Snowden. Greenwald recaps well that in “No Place to Hide” by showing us that government hires teams of psychologists and has made a science of disrupting online discussions and deception. The point of it all is “strategic influence disruption.” The targets not terrorists but “hactivists” like Anonymous, environmental groups and people who might compete with the plutocracy. We should not be too surprised by the similarity because both programs are run by the same people – 75% of the spy complex money goes to private contractors and HP is probably one of them.”
There are some new examples of what seems like AstroTurfing by Microsoft. Some Microsoft lies (a placement) got posted in “CFO World”. It is an evidence-free denial of Microsoft collusion against public. This is how propaganda works.
Meanwhile, returning to the subject which is HP, watch Microsoft booster Julie Bort going into propaganda mode, claiming that HP has “Plans To Destroy Microsoft Windows” (we countered a similar bit of propaganda some months ago) and then calls HP CEO “gutsy” for inviting Microsoft’s CEO. This is utter deception, a sort of PR which seeks to portray Microsoft has burying the hatchet and smoking the pipe of peace with rivals. Here is a portion: “Moments after HP announced its grand new plans to compete with the Microsoft Windows operating system, Whitman was thanking Microsoft for being a major sponsor of the conference and inviting the company’s new CEO, Satya Nadella, on stage.”
This very much shows whose bed HP is in. The company, despite trying top appear as a backer of FOSS, is very much serving Microsoft’s agenda, still. HP is pretending. Yes, HP only pretends to be a friend of GNU/Linux in order to drive server sales to geeks. We know this also because not too long ago HP lobbied against GNU/Linux in Europe (amid national migrations), saying it would be more expensive than Windows. We covered this several times back then and also showed in over a dozen posts that around the same time HP was appointing Microsoft executives to executive positions at HP. The same happened in Amazon, but that’s another story.
There are other interesting bits in the new interview with Perens, including his take on dual-licensing, but most relevant to us was the following bit:
Perens: At some point I accumulated enough credit for achievements that it became unnecessary to fight over it . But I am hardly without flaws. Most visible might be that I want to get things done and don’t mind trampling others if that’s what it takes. I try to keep my ego down enough so that I get through those narrow doors.
The worst problems I saw at HP had little to do with Open Source. What I remember most was the sadness. There were and are many smart people there, and so many of us were conscious that the company was in a sort of death spiral and that we couldn’t do anything about it. The “pretexting” scandal was to the discredit of the board, the general counsel actually took the 5th in front of Congress on national television! Carly (the CEO) asked all of the employees to take a voluntary pay cut in the same month that she and other Board officers sold tens of Millions of dollars of HP stock. I remember my boss (a Section Manager, now the CTO) announcing at a meeting that an employee had gotten a “Reinvention Memo”. That meant lay-off, a sarcastic re-framing of HP’s “Reinvent” motto that showed how even upper managers like him were in despair. There was a series of ill-advised acquisitions of second-best or declining companies that HP failed to turn around, and then sold for cents on the dollar two years after acquiring them. The Compaq merger put the company at the very top of a business with vanishingly-small margins.
There was one really bad day that I guess is safe to talk about now, more than 10 years later, because the information is already in the public and thus no longer subject to NDA: Microsoft showed HP their plans to sue the Open Source projects for the Linux Kernel, Samba, Sendmail, and a list of other projects. Someone immediately shot me an HP VP’s memo recounting that meeting and concluding that we should back off of Open Source before the lawsuits started. When I passed it to my boss, I was told to keep it quiet. But I was hired to be an Open Source community leader first, and an HP officer second, and keeping quiet about that meant betraying the Open Source developer community. I just hated that and it poisoned my involvement with HP.
Microsoft eventually used SCO as a proxy to achieve what it disclosed to HP that day. I’d been warned long before that happened, and could do nothing until SCO announced their damaging but ultimately unsuccessful jihad against Linux.
What I think is worth remembering about HP is that it was once the great tech company that people wanted to work for, as Apple or Google might be for many today. I think a lot of what made it great left with Agilent. The Test and Measurement business was a low-volume, high-margin business that required lots of too-highly-paid old smart people who worked in expensive labs in Palo Alto, California. That became the most costly place to do anything largely due to HP’s own success. But Test and Measurement was also the brain-trust of the company, and lent its creativity to all of HP’s other aspects. So we lost a lot, I think, when Agilent was spun off of HP.
HP’s problem regarding Open Source and Linux was that systems running Linux competed with other HP lines running HP-UX or Microsoft, and HP was structured as Organizational Silos. Each line had its own sales-people, and different lines competed with each other for the same customer. HP-9000 folks were always complaining because Linux undercut HP-UX and thus HP-9000, as were folks who sold Microsoft Windows systems based on x86. If I said anything in the press about Open Source or Linux, a customer would ask one of those single-line sales-people about it, and it would come back to my boss as a complaint rather than a sales opportunity.
HP was always to some extent in Microsoft’s pocket, although they were also aware that Microsoft had screwed them and would continue to do so. HP de-emphasized further development of the HP 9000 hardware because Microsoft had told them in the late 80′s that they were soon to have an enterprise-quality NT. HP believed it, but MS failed to deliver for a decade. That lost HP Billions while Sun Microsystems took the engineering workstation market from HP. The HP officer who made that decision of course went on to be a Microsoft executive.
What we did achieve at HP was a good process for deciding what to do with Open Source when individual opportunities came up. If you wanted to incorporate Open Source in a product, or you had a business reason to Open Source something, we resolved the legal issues, the community issues, we even handled some security aspects and achieved a reasonable level of reuse. That could all be achieved by middle managers. So, everybody in the company knew that it was OK to use Open Source, but there was a process you had to go through. It wasn’t particularly expensive, it did sometimes sink multiple days of some engineer in doing paperwork, but that’s just due diligence and we ended up on a better legal footing when we used Open Source than otherwise.
There were things we decided not to Open Source because there was no good business reason for doing so. We weren’t UNICEF, so there had to be a business reason for everything. There were times when legacy customers would have gained benefit if we brought one of HP’s nine legacy operating systems to Open Source, but untangling the proprietary software that originated with third parties from the rest was too difficult. There were a few times when it was decided not to Open Source a legacy product because we were afraid that IBM might use it to sell their hardware against ours. Once that happened with a system that had only 5000 existing customers, and it would have been better for the customers for HP to open it but the decision – not mine – was not to do so.
I’ve since helped other companies start their own internal Open Source Process, and still do so today.
What we never achieved within HP, what I never had the power to do, was: to get HP to completely stand behind any innovative product regardless of what that meant for old-line products, to make innovation the #1 job of the company, and to grow a brand-new company from the old one every year that they were in business. They needed to embrace disruptive technologies as a pioneer rather than have the disruption done to HP by competitors. I think they tried to kill the Silo organizational structure after I left, I don’t know how successful that was.
Let this remind us that neither HP nor Microsoft has changed. In fact, many people from Microsoft moved to HP and there is now Microsoft agenda at HP. Microsoft’s FOSS moles too are now working for HP, in very senior positions in fact. Both companies deserve to be treated as a pair and the same goes for Dell; these are historically (in recent history) Microsoft hardware companies. █
Related/contextual items from the news:
Microsoft eventually used SCO as a proxy to achieve what it disclosed to HP that day. I’d been warned long before that happened, and could do nothing until SCO announced their damaging but ultimately unsuccessful jihad against Linux.
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Meg Whitman talks nonsense
Author: Max Morse
Summary: HP says Microsoft is a rival, but evidence suggests that HP is being occupied by Microsoft managers and that it attacks GNU/Linux, not Windows
People should not be taking HP’s claims at face value. Realising what the cash cows are, HP is trying to sell as many servers as possible (many will use GNU/Linux), so it tries to appeal to system administrators while quietly spreading Microsoft’s anti-GNU/Linux FUD [1, 2] to derail government migrations to GNU/Linux. Perhaps the inefficiently of Windows helps sell more such servers (for the same task).
Either way, HP sure is suffering from the decline of Microsoft’s desktop empire, but publicly HP wants us to think that “Microsoft Is At War With Its OEM Partners” (such as HP). More “sock puppetry,” calls it iophk, saying that “Microsoft Hilf is still inside HP, Ray Ozzie is still on the board, so this is just noise.” There are more such examples, including Vice Presidents. HP is gradually becoming somewhat of a proxy to Microsoft — a bit like Nokia.
Microsoft is hardly a competitor of HP; those two are partners and actions at the management level show this. Here is another article which blindly repeats HP’s claims:
APPARENTLY NOT CONTENT with making her employees draw lots or arm-wrestle for desks by banning telecommuting, HP CEO Meg Whitman has decided to let loose the hounds on Microsoft, declaring that it and Intel have changed from being “partners to outright competitors”.
HP is still using x86 and Windows, so how are Intel and Microsoft competitors really? Sheer nonsense.
Speaking of Microsoft and pretense, the company pretended to be “nice” to FOSS while essentially banning particular FOSS licence — an action which it quietly steps away from:
With little fanfare, Microsoft — or at least one part of it — has gone from considering the GNU General Public License v.3 (GPLv3) “evil” to “acceptable.”
That’s because this licence is popular, unlike Microsoft. “A company spokesperson didn’t provide a direct answer,” says Microsoft Mary, whose inquiry helps show just how Microsoft really feels about the GPLv3. Public statements are the area controlled by marketing people and professional spinners. In order to find out what’s true we need to investigate actions — not words — for ourselves. █
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Working for the b0rg more effectively through another company
Summary: Bill Hilf is joining several other Microsoft executives who now occupy key positions inside HP; the ugly details behind Elop’s entryism begin to lay bear
HP, a massive company in the desktops and servers sectors (and back doors facilitator [1, 2]), has already had some Microsoft executives occupy key positions in recent years (Ozzie is a recent example). Remember this when HP is rationalising FOSS-hostile decisions inside the company. HP recently collaborated in Microsoft’s anti-GNU/Linux FUD [1, 2] and based on this reported it hired Microsoft’s anti-Linux and pro-patents, fear-mongering bully Bill Hilf [1, 2]. The conflict of interest is clear because this man pushed hard for Windows on servers and patent tax on GNU/Linux servers. Several years ago he was probably the most hated guy (alongside Ballmer) to have come from Microsoft, as viewed by the GNU/Linux community.
We really ought to learn from experience the threat of Microsoft moles and entryism.
“San Francisco investment firm takes more active role as CEO Steve Ballmer plans retirement,” says this report. But as one of our readers put it, “who is behind ValueAct Capital?” Gates-funded sites (with Microsoft spyware on page) say “Microsoft averts proxy battle” and Microsoft friends like Dina Bass call ValueAct an “activist”. The timing was interesting: “Redmond announced the “cooperation agreement” in the late hours of Friday afternoon in San Francisco before the Labor Day three day weekend, which is an ideal time to bury news.”
Let’s also recall the case of Nokia, where Elop’s involvement now starts to smell like fraud.
Nokia Admits Giving Misleading Information About Elop’s Compensation
Nokia’s board of directors seems caught in a tragicomedy of epic proportions. The latest twist is Finland’s largest newspaper claiming that Nokia made a false statement about CEO’s bonus package last Friday. Pressed by Finnish and international media last week, chairman Siilasmaa had claimed then that the bonus structure of Stephen Elop’s contract in 2010 was “essentially the same” as the one the previous CEO had received. But the largest daily of the country, “Helsingin Sanomat”, decided to dig into SEC filings to investigate the matter. By early Tuesday morning, the newspaper had uncovered evidence that Nokia’s board had made fundamental changes in Elop’s contract compared to his predecessors.
Check out this other article about Elop, who wants to be compensated having totally destroyed Nokia. To quote an English version: “According to the early Wednesday morning edition of Finland’s biggest newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, Nokia has pleaded with former CEO Stephen Elop to accept a smaller bonus in order to silence the roar of disapproval and protest now roiling Finland. Drama in Nokia’s home country escalated on Tuesday as it was revealed that Risto Siilasmaa, Nokiia’s chairman of the board, had misrepresented facts last weeks when he claimed that Elop’s bonus arrangements were similar to those of previous chief executives. Nokia was forced to admit on Tuesday morning that Elop had in fact received a contract that seemed to have been designed to guarantee a quick $25 million pay-off if Elop was able to sell the handset unit. According to Helsingin Sanomat, Nokia is now scrambling to contain the public relations damage the ongoing drama is causing. Asking Elop to accept a smaller bonus might silence some of the critics — on Tuesday, the head of Finland’s Equity Investor Association called Siilasmaa’s mistaken claims about Elop’s bonus package “unforgivable.””
Elop should be sued for more than $25 million. He pretended to serve Nokia, but in reality he was a Microsoft investor, whose house remains near Microsoft and whose only goal is to feed Nokia to Microsoft and feed patent trolls who pose a threat to Android/Linux. There should be prosecution here, not compensation. If anyone deserves compensation here, it’s Nokia’s shareholders. Elop should personally compensate them. He was Ballmer’s henchman. █
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Binary-only printer drivers can also be trusted no longer
Summary: More revelations about back doors which go beyond ‘the cloud’ and into people’s desks or offices
HP has betrayed people’s trust, not just because it helps Microsoft suppress Free software adoption in the German government [1, 2] but also because its hardware has remotely-accessible back doors. Never again should you trust hardware from HP.
Not only Microsoft Skype is a horrific piece of spyware on people’s desk (with microphone and webcam). As it turns out, HP backup servers too have back doors. As one article put it, “StoreOnce backup systems are not low-end products: the version with twelve 1TB disks (with a usable capacity of 6TB) costs more than €12,000. The price premium compared to a normal server of this size is explained by the StoreOnce Catalyst software included with the server. According to HP, the product’s deduplication functionality reduces the size of data backups by up to 95 per cent.”
“These primarily US-based or Anglo-Saxon companies seem to have total disregard for privacy, as their spy agencies reveal”Towards the end it says: “The disclosure is given added spice by Technion’s decision to publish the SHA1 hash for the password for accessing the hidden administrator account. Hashes can be brute forced to obtain the actual password. It will not be long before the decrypted string is circulating on the usual forums. The password is just seven characters long and draws on a ten-year old meme.”
These primarily US-based or Anglo-Saxon companies seem to have total disregard for privacy, as their spy agencies reveal. It seems like Germany is finally taking note of this. A major German newspaper says: “Overzealous data collectors in the US and Great Britain have no right to investigate German citizens. The German government must protect people from unauthorized access by foreign intelligence agencies, and it must act now. This is a matter of national security.”
They should be dumping Windows in Germany, following Munich's lead. Christine Hall talks about back door access by the NSA into Windows when she writes:
Time to Take Advantage of Microsoft’s Vulnerabilities
It wasn’t news to most of us in the FOSS world that Microsoft was one of the companies shoveling information over to the NSA’s project PRISM. As much as we’d like, we can’t fault them any more than anyone else in that sordid affair. Only Yahoo comes out with any degree of redemption, since they at least bothered to go to court to try to stop the No-Such-Agency guys.
Nor were many of us surprised to discover Microsoft was making it easy for U.S. spooks to monitor traffic on Skype. That news probably damaged the folks in Redmond a little more than the plain vanilla NSA/PRISM story, but there was still some wiggle room for Ballmer. It started before Microsoft’s ownership. My people hardly knew what was going on. We’ll fix it. Yadda. Yadda. Yadda.
The latest news though, which so far seems to have little to do with the NSA scandal but plenty to do with espionage, might be a Windows breaker. Ballmer & Friends might not be able to squirm their way out of this, especially if the commercial GNU/Linux players get in gear and get moving.
This is definitely going to change how people view Windows. The latest TechBytes episode covers that as well. It’s reassuring to see what we covered for years becoming common knowledge, affecting people’s judgment. Free software is going to capitalise on all this. █
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Summary: The largest freedom-in-software advocacy group offers advice regarding UEFI while large computer makers like HP move towards snubbing the Microsoft plot
AT THE END of the week the Free Software Foundation took an important step forward in its fight against UEFI.
Quoting the FSF Web site:
In the paper, the FSF outlines the difficulties Secure Boot poses for the free software movement and free software adoption, warns against the threat of Restricted Boot, and gives recommendations for how free software developers and users can best address the issues.
Red Hat is meanwhile finding new ways to embrace UEFI:
Gummiboot, which is German for rubber dinghy, was released on the same day as version 2 of the GRUB boot loader. Unlike GRUB, however, it only works with EFI systems. Poettering has proposed the project as the boot loader that Linux distributions should use where UEFI Secure Booting support requires a signed boot loader; this support being planned by both Red Hat and Canonical but neither are currently planning to use gummiboot.
There is more coverage in, e.g.:
Red Hat developers Kay Sievers and Harald Hoyer have create a new EFI bootloader called, Gummiboot, which ‘just works.’
Lennart Poettering, best known for PulseAudio cross-platform sound server and systemd, posted on Google +, “It’s tiny (< 64K), can show a menu, discovers all kernel configurations automatically (no wacky autogeneration of boot loader scripts), and can chain-load another boot loader if necessary.”
Related to this we have the release of the boot loader Microsoft has shrewdly marginalised:
The mistake Red Hat and Canonical have made is assume that hardware makers will just swallow UEFI because Microsoft tells them to. Based on new articles such as this one, Microsoft’s devilish plot is not taking off:
Microsoft Offends OEMs With Surface, HP Refusing To Build Windows ARM Devices
If this rumor is true – and it certainly sounds true – then HP and other OEMs are about to pull the plug on their own Windows on ARM RT (WART) devices thanks to Microsoft essentially beating them to market with potentially superior hardware.
Here is the source and some damage control from Microsoft, delivered by the longtime Microsoft booster, who gets “Reporter” status at CNET, not just ZDNet. She writes about the half (or less) that’s full, ignoring the rest (i.e. biased ‘journalism’):
Reports circulating on June 29 about Hewlett-Packard’s plans regarding Windows on ARM — or lack of such plans — got me thinking about which PC makers have committed to producing ARM-based Windows hardware.
Bloomberg helps confirm that Vista 8 is being shunned by HP and the OEMs bigwig at Microsoft steps down. How timely. █
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Nosediving after the software chief from Microsoft lets Linux die
Summary: Not so long after Microsoft had called HP a competitive threat (in its SEC filings) for exploring Linux on the desktop, Hurd mysteriously got fired and his purchase of WebOS thrown down the ashtray, sending HP’s stock into a downward spiral
SEVERAL months ago we continued to comment about the departure of Hurd from HP. It happened under mysterious circumstances [1, 2, 3, 4]. A former Microsoft ally took his place after HP’s new software chief had been appointed from Microsoft.
There is something iffy about HP giving up on its Linux-based operating system which Hurd spent billions on. This was not taken too lightly by prominent bloggers, who wrote:
I liked webOS, HP’s Linux-based take on a tablet operating system. I thought it had a shot to be a tablet player. But, then, Leo Apotheker, HP’s new CEO, along with spinning off HP’s PC business, killed webOS. Was it because, as Apotheker said, the tablet effect is real and sales of the TouchPad are not meeting our expectations,” and that the TouchPad was quickly becoming a money pit? No, no it wasn’t.
Yes, webOS and the TouchPad were doing badly on the market. But, so what? A company the size of HP doesn’t get out of the consumer PC market and new tablets and spin around on a dime because it can’t be as “as cool as Apple.” No, it does so because Apotheker and his cronies had planned for months to try to transform HP into their old company, SAP, and go head to head not so much with IBM, but his old sparring partner, Oracle.
In the same year that Microsoft added cut and paste to its mobile feature set, HP added cut and run, announcing last week that it would no longer produce webOS hardware, then dumping its failed HP TouchPad tablet in a $99 fire sale. At the same time, the number-one PC maker signaled its intent to spin off, sell, and otherwise dump its Personal Systems Group—the division that makes all of its computers for business and consumer markets—within 12 to 18 months. Unless a buyer like Samsung is waiting in the wings already, that’s a long time to go without a mobile strategy.
Well, investors agree. They “flee HP” (see the chart):
Hewlett-Packard shares have slumped as investors respond to last week’s announcement of a radical shift in strategy.
From a high of US$32.59 on Thursday, shares fell to US$22.89 on Friday before closing at US$23.60.
Wow. And this made sense why exactly? Microsoft is already trying to sort of bribe WebOS developers away from Linux. The remaining units of TouchPad are getting a new life because the hardware is great and the price is very low. Both Ubuntu [1, 2, 3, 4, 5] and TouchDroid [1, 2] are being made available for these devices that HP bought just to kill (after Hurd had been fired and Microsoft-friendly people put in charge). Guess who is happy about this whole deal? Microsoft booster Ed Bott is now comparing TouchPad to KIN, which is said to have sold only 503 units. Just before Hurd got canned Microsoft listed HP as a competitive threat on the desktop because HP was exploring GNU/Linux, even its own distributions of it. █
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