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09.28.14

CBS Continues to Get Heavily Occupied by Microsoft Staff to Spread Microsoft Propaganda

Posted in Deception, Microsoft at 11:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“The author of the email, posted on ZDNet in a Talkback forum on the Microsoft antitrust trial, claimed her name was Michelle Bradley and that she had “retired” from Microsoft last week.

“”A verbal memo [no email allowed] was passed around the MS campus encouraging MS employee’s to post to ZDNet articles like this one,” the email said.

“”The theme is ‘Microsoft is responsible for all good things in computerdom.’ The government has no right to prevent MS from doing anything. Period. The ‘memo’ suggests we use fictional names and state and to identify ourselves as students,” the author claimed.”

Wired Magazine

Summary: The CBS-owned ZDNet continues to hire people who have worked or are currently working for Microsoft and unsurprisingly enough they use their newly-acquired positions to praise Microsoft and bash Microsoft’s competition, usually with no disclosure of their conflict of interest

Microsoft’s infamous strategy (which it privately admits to) of conquering the technology media has evolved. A week and a half ago we showed how CBS had hired yet another Microsoft person to cover Microsoft matters (or Microsoft's competition). We have lost count of the number of people with such a conflict of interest, especially in CBS (far worse than any other large network). As a side note, CBS also hired senior people from the CIA, which helps explain its grooming of Microsoft’s super-special partner (the NSA) and the pro-war agenda, especially as of late.

Having taken control of ZDNet, the CBS network has become absolutely flooded with Microsoft staff past and present (some work for both at the same time) and days ago we noticed Eileen Brown writing for ZDNet. What’s not evident in the page (not in her intro, but in only in her disclosures, a page away) is that she too comes from Microsoft. The separate page (not even HTML) clearly states that “She worked at Microsoft from 2001 to 2009.” So CBS has essentially hired yet another Microsoft propagandist for articles that cover Microsoft, like this new example. Bing marketing. How much marketing and grooming should CBS be allowed to get away with? How long before it’s widely recognised that CBS is not a serious news network but corporate media working for selected corporations?

Here is another new example.

Longtime Microsoft booster Mary Branscombe ridicules people who self host and promotes “cloud” lunacy. Much of the time she just spends promoting Microsoft and it should be no surprise as she has done that for decades. To quote her own intro:

Mary has been a technology writer for nearly two decades, covering everything from early versions of Windows and Office to the first smartphones, the arrival of the web and most things inbetween.

In her blog there is not even a effort at providing information. She is making an effort to appear balanced and historically she has also smeared Microsoft’s rivals. There are many more examples like that and no site demonstrates that quite as clearly as ZDNet (with about a dozen Microsoft-connected writers); CBS is bad, CNET is worse, but ZDNet is by far the worst and all are operated by the same company. It’s like advertising and agenda disguised as “news”. It runs 24/7 in many countries. One might even call that “AstroTurfing“.

It’s one thing when Microsoft promotes Microsoft, but it’s another when a media company pretends to be a source of news but actually promotes Microsoft and employs people from Microsoft. Here is a new example of Microsoft staff bamboozling the media. It is Michel van der Bel, not to be confused with ECMA’s Microsoft mole, van der Beld. Here is what Ahonen has to say about him:

Microsoft Lies. Then there is the perennial Microsoft propaganda and lies machine. On May 23, 2011, the Microsoft mafia decided to spin a story about Nokia Lumia Windows success in China. They picked the wrong target when they compared the supposed success to the iPhone in China. Microsoft mouthpiece Michel van der Bel (Microsoft COO of China) got himself quoted in the press claiming that Windows Phone smartphones like Lumia 800c were outselling the iPhone in China. You don’t spread lies like that on my watch! So I debunked that sillyness with 18 separate items of proof. When the numbers came out two months later, I was of course correct and Mr van der Bel has not been seen in the press about this ever again. But for a brief moment there as this alternate reality created by the Microsoft Imaginarium. Who debunked them comprehensively and immediately for you to keep your Apple facts straight? Yeah.

It is very common for sites like those of CBS (which owns a lot of influential news sites) to parrot such technology disinformation and unsurprisingly, as CBS hires many people from Microsoft, it is inevitable that these lies from Microsoft will be relayed to the press, enter news feeds, and ultimately change perceptions based on lies.

Avoid CBS. It’s not journalism.

09.27.14

Microsoft Fakes ‘Charity’ and Uses Religious Groups to Acquire Lock-in in the Public Sector

Posted in Microsoft at 11:37 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft’s motto unchanged

Love tag

Summary: Microsoft’s involvements with NGOs and with governments lead to more distrust, more surveillance, less freedom, and ultimately systemic corruption

THE CORRUPT TECHNOLOGY giant known as Microsoft won’t be too shy to distort the meaning of “charity”. Like Bill Gates, who spins business as 'charity' (for tax exemptions and PR), Microsoft presents ‘free’ back doors (and lock-in) as though it’s “goodwill” and some gullible ‘journalists’ do Microsoft’s heavy lifting, deceiving the Australia public whose children may be forced to have surveillance and ‘free’ Microsoft samples (like drug dealers and drug users). “Funny money, not dollars. Lock-in, not opportunity,” calls it the reader who sent us the link. Here is a quote:

Microsoft and World Vision Australia have teamed up against global poverty, announcing a $4 million software donation described as World Vision’s largest corporate partnership.

Pro-lock-in mixed together with “global poverty”. No wonder Microsoft and Bill Gates use some of the very same PR agencies (we named these before). They are lying through their teeth. They don’t care; all they care about is money.

Why is World Vision Australia foolish (or corrupt) enough to do this for Microsoft? It’s clear what Microsoft will gain from this and unless some money changes hands (incentive/bribe/favours), it is not clear what World Vision Australia has to gain here. As we showed in the previous post, atheist Gates exploits the Christian community right now in order for it to lobby for Gates and Microsoft profit (Common Core). Based on Wikipedia, World Vision Australia too is a Christian organisation, so Microsoft is exploiting religion for profit yet again. How clever.

Secrecy and corruption in government and NGOs, as in the above case, have long been a vector of Microsoft influence. Well, Microsoft is their friend only when they can help Microsoft gain more money. Those who are wilfully blind do a disservice to the public, especially if they produce puff pieces like the above.

Watch this new article from the British press, “Microsoft gets flack over ‘rubbish’ UK data” is the title and it speaks about how Microsoft helps secrecy among the corrupt. “It said people should contact their Microsoft supplier if they had any issues,” says the article, but as our reader put it, “They should contact Red Hat or Canonical or local FOSS users/consultants.”

Here are some relevant parts of the report:

UK spending data was “horrendous”, Jeni Tennison, technical director of Berners Lee’s Open Data Institute, told Computer Weekly.

“It’s ridiculous,” she said.

Even when computer experts tried to link this data they had to jump though such hoops that it was “shocking”, said Tennison, who got an OBE for her work last year and sits on the Cabinet Office Open Standards Board and Open Data Panel.

“It isn’t like we are in a state where the data is basically okay and it just takes a bit of effort to put it together. We are talking about a state where it’s basically rubbish,” she said.

Companies that set themselves up to do innovative things with UK spending data had to spend 80 per cent of their time simply tidying it up so they could even start to work with it.

UK spending data rubbish was rubbish because it had incompatible encoding. Staff were largely powerless to do anything about it. Because their software was at fault.

Microsoft’s Excel spreadsheet has got most of the blame for this.

The problem, according to Tennison and other experts, and just about any forum that addresses the subject online, was Microsoft’s atrocious handling of UTF-8, the character encoding widely favoured as the lingua franca of open data.

UTF-8 became encoding-of-choice for the UK government as well as the world wide web. But most of government was using Microsoft software. Microsoft’s UTF-8 incompatibilities have long been condemned by experts. The problem was inherent to both Microsoft Windows and its applications, most notably Excel. Users could circumvent them by following complicated instructions. But the workarounds were arduous. This was problematic for government, where most staff use Microsoft software but were apparently not shown how to get to work with UTF-8. More recent versions of Microsoft software employed codecs related to UTF-8 but not compatible with it.

In more positive news, which comes from the European Commission’s Web site: “The government of the United Kingdom is seeking comments on its plans to transpose the new EU Procurement Directive into the country’s laws and regulations. On 19 September, it opened a consultation on implementing the 2014 EU Procurement Directives in the UK.”

Perhaps rather than rely on a corrupt company like Microsoft (with its bribes to government officials), there will be opportunities given to local businesses that deploy, maintain and support Free software. It is bizarre — not just counter-intuitive — that some non-profits make use of proprietary software.

09.22.14

Home Depot Confirmed a Victim of Microsoft’s Bad Security, Microsoft Lays Off Security-Related Staff

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Security at 11:15 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: News reports circulate showing that Home Depot was knowingly careless with its Windows dependency while Microsoft lays off staff focused on security

Microsoft is not a company that cares about security. It seems to care about the security state (i.e. surveillance), which is why it makes its products so easy to infiltrate (by the “Good Guys”). As we showed before, Microsoft’s layoffs focus in part on security-related staff, or staff that’s associated with security state type of stuff (restricting operation of computers, back doors, etc.).

Microsoft uses secrecy as a weapon against fear-induced exodus because layoffs are company-wide and it's not about Nokia but about parts of the company which Microsoft would rather keep secret. To quote one source:

In a statement sent to Channelnomics sister-site CRN UK, Microsoft said the staff reductions in the latest round have been “spread across many business units and many different countries”, but did not go into specifics as to where it is swinging the ax.

“Trustworthy Computing group” is one of the affected units, based on Seattle-based press. Reportedly, according to this press (heavily biased in Microsoft’s favour), the group was “folding into other units”. It’s a clever and rather classic way to disguise layoffs (like the term “reorg”). “A spokesman confirmed that an unspecified number of jobs are being eliminated from the Trustworthy Computing group as part of the changes,” said the report that we cited last week. So by “folding into other units” he basically meant “layoffs”.

It is rather amazing that given all that is known, some businesses and even governments continue to procure and/or purchase more stuff from Microsoft. It’s worse than irresponsible, it’s suicidal. Ask Home Depot why it should not be using Windows anymore. According to reports such as [1], this retailer faces a massive security breach and it’s all the fault of Windows. Staff knew about it and also ignored the issues. It makes it both
irresponsible and suicidal. The company’s name is now tarnished.

Increasingly here in the UK I see businesses that move to Free software and GNU/Linux, usually for security reasons, not just cost savings (the migration itself can be pricey). Some months ago staff at Ryman (a large UK chain) told me that they had moved from Windows to Ubuntu GNU/Linux due to virus infections.

Now that Microsoft is eliminating security jobs people will hopefully realise that Windows security is not improving. It’s only going to get worse. Time to move to GNU/Linux…

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Home Depot ignored security warnings for years, employees say

    Former information technology employees at Home Depot claim that the retailer’s management had been warned for years that its retail systems were vulnerable to attack, according to a report by the New York Times. Resistance to advice on fixing systems reportedly led several members of Home Depot’s computer security team to quit, and one who remained warned friends to use cash when shopping at the retailer’s stores.

09.19.14

The Latest From Microsoft Patent Trolls and Patent Partners

Posted in Apple, Microsoft, Samsung at 3:09 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

A plot to shun Free software

Royal place

Summary: Microsoft-linked and Linux-hostile trolls continue their relentless attacks (albeit with little or no success) while patents as a weapon lose their teeth owing to a Supreme Court ruling

Microsoft’s cofounder is now a patent troll and his trolling activity resumes in the US. As Reuters very recently put it: “A U.S. appeals court on Wednesday revived part of a patent lawsuit brought by Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen against AOL, Apple, Google and Yahoo, saying a lower court incorrectly found that the tech companies didn’t infringe one of its patents.

“The patent, held by Allen’s Interval Licensing, relates to the ubiquitous pop-ups that computer users routinely see while surfing the Web or shopping online.

“The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit said that Chief Judge Marsha Pechman of the federal district court in Seattle had made an “erroneous” interpretation of the patent in 2013 and it sent the case back to her for further hearings.”

Allen has also targeted Android and Microsoft produces patent trolls other than Allen (IV, Interval, Gates et al.) who tend to target Free software and Microsoft rivals such as Google.

Recently we saw Microsoft and Apple collaborating in their patent attacks on Linux-using rivals. Microsoft sued Samsung some weeks ago, following Apple’s footsteps that led almost nowhere. “Apple denied retrial of Samsung patent case in California” based on IDG, which also says that “Apple’s slide-to-unlock patent not willfully infringed by Samsung, judge rules”.

The good news is that software patents are now dying in the US. Along with them the trolls are dying (ignore highly deceiving press releases from VirnetX, which is collapsing at the moment). The killing of trolls is a trend that was noted also by Simon Phipps (OSI President) the other day when he wrote:

Alice is killing the trolls — but expect patent lawyers to strike back

Open source software developers rejoice: Alice Corp. v CLS Bank is fast becoming a landmark decision for patent cases in the United States.

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which handles all appeals for patent cases in the United States, has often been criticized for its handling of these cases — Techdirt describes it as “the rogue patent court, captured by the patent bar.” But following the Alice decision, the Court of Appeals seems to have changed.

The Court of Appeals will be the subject of our next post.

Microsoft Proves That Its Massive Layoffs Are Not About Nokia

Posted in Microsoft at 2:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Colours

Summary: Microsoft is laying off a lot of employees who have nothing at all to do with Nokia

After committing crimes to make companies go out of business Microsoft feels what it’s like to have big layoffs company-wide. “Microsoft lopped off a second set of jobs Thursday,” says IDG, “cutting 2,100 positions as part of a restructuring plan announced two months ago to eliminate 18,000 positions, or about 14 percent of the company’s workforce.”

This layoffs round (not the first) is not about Nokia at all. This is how Microsoft tried to portray it in the media, as we showed before.

After the NSA revelations Microsoft is really suffering as the documents released by Snowden made a mockery of this thing called “Trustworthy Computing group”, which was saving face and making it look as though Microsoft was interested in security. The very opposite was true. Microsoft was pursuing back doors and coordinating with the NSA how to get in.

Here are the effects on this pseudo-security division:

Microsoft will shutter its standalone Trustworthy Computing group, folding elements of the unit’s work on security, privacy and related issues into its Cloud & Enterprise Division, and its Legal & Corporate Affairs group.

It’s the latest change related to the company’s new round of layoffs, announced this morning. A spokesman confirmed that an unspecified number of jobs are being eliminated from the Trustworthy Computing group as part of the changes.

This has nothing to do with Nokia and it is no exception. Microsoft is now confirming that the Nokia-flavoured spin was just shameless spin. It was a convenient disguise for PR purposes.

09.18.14

More Microsoft Layoffs

Posted in Microsoft at 5:52 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mouse

Summary: More Microsoft layoffs go ahead as the company is unable to compete

Microsoft’s acquisition of Minecraft (probably using shares rather than real money) is baffling a lot of people and Wired calls it a sign of “desperation”. Something must be terribly wrong if Microsoft claims to be spending billions of dollars on some lousy game while laying off a lot of existing staff.

More Microsoft layoffs are now being confirmed, according to Microsoft’s unofficial spokesperson Mary Jo Foley, who wrote:

Microsoft will continue with its planned layoffs of 18,000 with job cuts across nearly all divisions of the company with its second wave of cuts later this week.

Earlier this year when we covered the latest Microsoft layoffs we showed that it was not about Nokia; the layoffs go well beyond Nokia and these recent layoffs may be part of a bigger wave to come because Microsoft struggles in many areas of its business.

Microsoft has destroyed many jobs when it engaged in criminal activities that sank rivals; a lot of ethical jobs would be created if Microsoft declared bankruptcy.

09.16.14

The United Kingdom Should Dump Microsoft For the Sake of National Security

Posted in Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 5:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: The UK has issues of Microsoft dependency and Windows viruses; its migration to Free software and GNU/Linux is not fast enough to guard its autonomy in the age of digital imperialism

TECHRIGHTS has published dozens of articles — including some “exclusives” — about the UK and its dangerous dependence on Microsoft. The UK is a lot more dependent on Microsoft than other nations and it’s a huge problem because such dependencies facilitate spying on lawyers and journalists, not to mention politicians. Being one’s “ally” does not mean exclusion from the “targets” list, as revelations about Germany and Turkey served to show. Microsoft is as bad as one can get when it comes to privacy and it habitually colludes with the state (the United States, not Britain).

The other day a reader sent us this link about Microsoft Office spying. “Delve pulls content from within your organization’s OneDrive, SharePoint, and Yammer accounts,” says the article. The scary thing is, CTOs and CIOs in the UK are sometimes using stuff like this on the government’s Windows-running PCs, which can cost $10,000 per year (per PC) merely to maintain. Have we learned nothing from Stuxnet? Is the UK begging to be a vassal of another nation?

Dependence on Microsoft Windows also leads to virus epidemic in the UK right now. It turns out that British businesses are now struggling with a so-called ‘undetectable’ Windows virus. So much for ‘competitive advantage’, eh? To quote the Torygraph: “A Peter Pan pantomime in Bournemouth is being used as part of a sophisticated hacking attack from Eastern Europe that is targetting thousands of British businesss.

“An email claiming to be a £145 invoice for nine tickets to a performance of Peter Pan at the Bournemouth Pavilion theatre contained an attachment that if opened installs a virus onto the receipent’s computer.

“The malware, which the email claims are the tickets for the pantomime performance, captures highly sensitive personal and commericial information including passwords and is almost “undetectable” by current anti-virus software.”

It is baffling to see the London-based Canonical still feels comfortable putting GNU/Linux under/alongside a surveillance platform. As one Microsoft-friendly article put it: “Ubuntu’s popularity with the OpenStack crowd can’t be lost on Microsoft, and Microsoft has learned that it must play nicely with Linux in its virtualization and cloud product lines. Now, Canonical has reported that it has completed work with Microsoft on tools for Windows Server to run on top of OpenStack and Ubuntu.”

This is unwise because putting Windows in the stack is the same as granting the NSA access to the stack. Microsoft should in principle be purged, along with its software. The company has already proven that it is the best friend of illegal surveillance, espionage, political sabotage and other shenanigans. How much evidence need one see before it becomes crystal clear that Microsoft has no place in the public sector, except perhaps in the United States?

CBS Hires Even More Microsoft Staff to Cover Microsoft Matters

Posted in Deception, Marketing, Microsoft at 5:13 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: CBS continues to be infested with Microsoft staff past and present (this time Dave Johnson) and the bias in output is quite revealing

PROPAGANDA giant CBS (notoriously selling to the public wars of conquest and mass surveillance) has been a target of our criticism also because it hires people who have worked or are still working for Microsoft to cover Microsoft positively and slam Microsoft’s competition. It’s not news, it’s advertising or agenda, if not propaganda.

Microsoft boosters are everywhere at CBS, with several in CNET and several in ZDNet; some are still Microsoft employees, not former employees. They are attacking Microsoft rivals and planting PR for Microsoft. Later on when they chat to me in Twitter they still pretend to be “objective”. They don’t say much; they just know they got caught in a conflict of interest.

Anyway, CBS has apparently just hired yet another (there are many more) “former” Softer to put Microsoft puff pieces disguised as articles. This guy, Dave Johnson, works neither in CNET nor ZDNet (CBS-owned) but more directly writes for CBS sites. There are quite a few articles like this one and it’s an epidemic that ought to raise concerns and draw criticism. Watch his stream of Microsoft propaganda (even vapourware at the moment).

Meanwhile it’s reported that Microsoft paid almost half a billion dollars for NFL to pretend to endorse Microsoft (advertisement disguised as recommendation), but even this has not worked like Microsoft hoped. As TechDirt (among other publications) put it, “Marketing Failure: Microsoft Pays NFL To Use Its Surface Tablets — And People Still Call Them ‘iPad-Like Tools’”:

Over at The Verge, Vlad Savov has an amusing post about how NFL announcers this weekend referred to the sideline tablets that players are using as “iPad-like tools.” Microsoft Surface tablets are being allowed on the sidelines as part of a $400 million deal between Microsoft and the NFL. And Microsoft is promoting the Surface as “the official tablet of the NFL.” And, in the end, all anyone remembers is that it’s an “iPad-like tool.” I wonder if the guy who signed that deal for Microsoft has lined up a new job yet…

There have been quite a few articles like this one.

Embedded advertisements or fake endorsements are only some of the tools in Microsoft’s arsenal of AstroTurfing tools, used by proxy much of the time. But again, what CBS is doing is much worse than most. It’s corrupt means of providing what CBS pretends to be “news”.

CBS is not news; neither in politics nor in technology. It needs to be shunned. It’s corporate press, not news.

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