“Mind Control: To control mental output you have to control mental input. Take control of the channels by which developers receive information, then they can only think about the things you tell them. Thus, you control mindshare!”
–Microsoft, internal document
Nick Kolakowski, Microsoft’s mole in Slashdot (photo from Brooklyn Arts Council)
Summary: An apparent scandal revolving around traffic management in Slashdot and the role played by Nick Kolakowski, a longtime Microsoft booster who recently joined Slashdot and is now trashing Linux in that site while promoting Microsoft
“Apparently the system is getting gamed heavily,” wrote iophk. “Here is one example [from Slashdot],” he adds, noting what seems like AstroTurfing in comments about Slashdot staff.
Microsoft Nick is in a scandal already, having joined the site as staff to deliver Microsoft talking points. To quote one comment:
On page 2 [slashdot.org] of Velcroman1′s slashdot profile Nerval’s Lobster (email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org) submissions start to show up. We’ve [slashdot.org] already [slashdot.org] established [slashdot.org] that Nerval’s Lobster is Nick Kolakowski, a slashdot employee submitting paid content as user-submitted stories…
It would be interesting to see what percentage of published slashdot stories are genuinely submitted by people who have no financial interest in the submission.
Nick Kolakowski, aka Microsoft Nick, is up to no good. That’s how Microsoft boosters roll.
One former editor of Slashdot told me quite privately that the site had been infiltrated by PR before he left. This still appears to be the case and it is eating away any credibility the site earned over a decade ago (back when the site had news, not noise).
A few hours ago I found a response to yet more anti-Linux rhetoric, this time titled “Forget Apple: Samsung Could Be Google’s Next Big Rival” (familiar talking point!).
Swapnil Bhartiya, who wrote the response, does not seem to know he is responding to Microsoft Nick, who has years of reputation of spouting out Microsoft talking points, essentially filling the Web with garbage Microsoft would love to pay for (we covered dozens of examples from him).
Bhartiya writes: “Slashdot posted a story “Forget Apple: Samsung Could Be Google’s Next Big Rival”. The story idea has floated for a while and pops up every now and then. Is there really any space for rivalry between Samsung and Google? I looked at each point raised by the author and analyzed it.”
The idea has “floated for a while” because it’s an anti-Android talking point regularly to be found in the pro-Microsoft papers or Microsoft lobbyists. They try to cause division in the leading Linux-based operating system by urging the leader of the pack to fracture and defect, just like Nokia (post-occupation). Bhartiya adds: “In my observation of the industry for a while I see many reasons why it makes no sense for Samsung to ‘compete’ with Google. There are actually more reasons for Samsung to stick to Android as a Google partner than spin its own fork.”
Bhartiya’s closing words are as follows: “I think Samsung will continue to strengthen its Android line of hardware. Let me break news to the author. Samsung recently launched Android powered digital cameras. If Sammy had any desire to drift away from Google the would have put their own OS/ecosystem instead of Google’s. So it clearly shows there is no seeds of rivalry between the two companies. The Microsoft/Apple camp will definitely want to spread the FUD as if there is.”
Slashdot, by allowing this embedding ‘journalism’ in its tech publication (with a known Microsoft booster), is throwing its reputation in the garbage can and letting its community leak down the drain. Will Hill, who used to frequently post in Slashdot, had this to say earlier today about Microsoft “injecting” its FUD into the press:
How to Manage Your Free Community
Microsoft spends billions of dollars every year on propaganda to confuse the public. They especially target the tech press, OEMs and developers. Their training manuals call for “infiltration” and “subversion” though false concern called “schmoozing”. Everyone is considered a “pawn” to be exploited to advance Microsoft. They particularly like name calling and the wasting people’s time by “injecting Microsoft” into forums and conferences. To really understand what you are up against read their training manual, Evangelism is War and associated lecture notes several times. It is so evil and so alien that you won’t be able to grasp it the first or second time you read it.
Fighting with these turkeys is a waste of time. Just be careful to curate your forums and software carefully. PJ of Groklaw has written about how to do that. Roy Schestowitz has another method for Techrights. He leaves all the troll comments up for everyone to see and has accumulated an amazing collection of abusive comments. The approaches are complementary. What matters is to keep doing what you do and not let the trolls waste your life.
Vanity Fair recently did an expose of how damaging this toxic culture was to Microsoft itself. We should not be surprised that the anti-social ethics of non free software and exploitation should destroy those who advocate it. Non free software only served it’s owners and that owner turns out to be one person, Bill Gates, who set everyone else on a Darwinian roller coaster for his own benefit.
If Slashdot does not put an end to its Microsoft AstorTurfing (the above is not the first from Microsoft Nick), then we’ll slam the site time after time, calling it out for being just a cogwheel of Microsoft, essentially a PR vehicle like Microsoft Watch after Microsoft Nick took over (it became strongly and consistently pro-Microsoft). █
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Summary: The kernel debate that’s really worth having, not some storm in a teacup over feminism
The other day we wrote about the latest Samsung scandal [1, 2, 3] which looks like another GPL violation (not the first). Just like LG and smaller players such as TomTom, Samsung pays Microsoft for FAT patents. We need to stop this.
“Honestly,” says one person who took action, “I don’t understand how it’s even possible to patent any filesystem. It’s not a concept, it’s a variation of having a structured array of bytes on a block device.”
Here is who’s behind the code leak, which seems to reveal GPL violation and is therefore whistleblowing (protected by law):
A student and programmer using the name “rxrz” has posted a large chunk of a proprietary Microsoft file-system software to GitHub, claiming that she’s liberating it for the open source world. She says that the software was leaked from Samsung, and that it also contains some code from the Linux kernel. That, she argues, makes it de facto open source under the terms of the Gnu General Public License.
“All I’ve done is given the community of open source developers and linux/android users a way to finally share data between all major OS’s without any excessive impact on the performance,” she wrote on GitHub.
In an email interview, rxrz wouldn’t give her name, but said that she was a nineteen year old female student from the European Union.
She posted the code last month, but only gained widespread notice on Linux discussion forums this week.
This debate needs to go mainstream. Instead of debating a gender war on the Linux development lists (no, we won’t entertain this flamebait here) we should speak about GPL violations. It involves a female leaker showing code from a female developer at Samsung and it is about justice, not some self-inflicted offence over ‘rude’ words. Yes, Torvalds needs to tone down his language, but this has already mushroomed to become some distracting storm involving militant feminists (including an employee of a criminal company) and opportunistic misogynists, which just helps discredit Linux in the same way some tried to discredit GNU several years ago. Let’s talk about patents and technical issues, not some distracting gossip. █
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From a patent with Joosun Hahn on it…
Summary: Samsung and its developers appear to be helping Microsoft’s patent war on Linux and also violating the GNU GPL at the same time
The mischievous role played by Samsung in advancing Microsoft’s Linux tax is nothing new. It turns out to be not only proprietary but quite likely a GPL violation. Companies like Tuxera are working for Microsoft by spreading exFAT to manufacture more victims like TomTom, a FAT scapegoat. Microsoft most routinely uses FAT-related patents to tax users and distributors of GNU/Linux (users are being silently taxed through secret deals). It is hard to work around these traps.
Samsung, a patent friend of Microsoft which we reported for GPL violations in the past, pays Microsoft for FAT and then spreads this patent trap further. We recently wrote about some mysterious code from Korea (more details are in IRC logs) and we studied the author of this code in order to better understand her interests and to find out why she may be promoting exFAT. Now there is clarification. Michael Larabel explains: “Last month there was news of a native Linux driver for Microsoft’s exFAT file-system. It turns out that the driver wasn’t developed through any clean-room reverse-engineering but was rather the apparent rebadging of a Samsung exFAT driver for Linux.
“After being informed via email by a user today with this open-source Linux exFAT driver appearing on GPL-Violations.org, the exFAT Linux driver comes with nefarious intentions.
“A lot of people have berated the alleged leaker, but if it proves GPL violations, then it may as well justify the leak and serve as a case of whistleblowing”“It appears (and evidently its “developer” is admitting it) that the exFAT Linux kernel module was based upon source-code found from a Samsung developer for their exFAT driver. The code likely leaked out of Samsung accidentally by a developer pushing their Linux kernel source tree externally to GitHub when it should have been made private.”
Now, the main question is, was the code modified before being uploaded? If so, whose GPL violation is it (assuming it has not been tampered with)?
The developer, Joosun Hahn, has almost nothing on the Web about her (at least not in English) but has various publications (connected Seongsoo Hong in some publications) in decent journals and also patents like this one. Assuming it’s the same person, a 2009 paper describes her as someone who “received her B.S. degree in Computer Science from Soongsil University, Seoul, Korea, in 1994. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Computer Engineering from Seoul National University, Seoul, Korea, in 1996 and 2004, respectively. She is currently a research professor in the Department of Computer Engineering at Hongik University, Seoul, Korea. Her research interests include computer architecture, real-time computing, embedded systems, and wireless sensor networks.”
To quote Phoronix Forums (last page), “This source code is not under GPLv2. This source code cannot be redistributed. This code contains Microsoft’s IP. It cannot even be made publicly available – that’s a direct violation of the law.”
In a later thread someone points out: “I’d rather see exFAT burn in hell with its patents, it’s sad that we see this attempt instead.”
As pointed out here, “I examined exfat_super.c and compared it to fs/fat/misc.c, fs/fat/dir.c, fs/fat/namei_vfat.c, and fs/fat/file.c. I will avoid sharing my conclusions here, but any one else is free to look.”
exFAT needs to be killed at all costs. This is poison and those who develop it, be it a person or a brand (Samsung) needs to find other things to do. Right now it’s helping patent terrorists. GPL violations aside (the guilt cannot be established based only on allegations*, but Samsung has poor history when it comes to GPL compliance), the main issue here should be patents.
A lot of people have berated the alleged leaker, but if it proves GPL violations, then it may as well justify the leak and serve as a case of whistleblowing. We shall wait and see how this story evolves. █
* This page shows:
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Settlements not a peace for our time
Chamberlain (GB) and Hitler
Summary: Now that there are rumours about the possibility of patent settlement with Apple, a reminder is needed addressing the futility of such a route
THE Microsoft-occupied Nokia is mentioned in a pro-Apple site which argues “Nokia’s failure to gain traction in the smartphone market with Microsoft’s Windows Phone platform is seen by one analyst as a sign that consumers are content with the two dominant options currently on the market: Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android.”
“The real solution would be putting an end to software patents.”Well, we already know that Android is gaining, usually at Apple’s expense (depending on the country) and Apple (AAPL) is declining rapidly, even as a financial instrument.
Reports suggest that the best-selling Android devices, which are under patent attack from Apple, may get the clearance they need after a ‘settlement’ between Samsung and Apple. In order to be not GPL-incompatible this would have to encompass Android as a whole, not just Samsung’s use of it. We hardly know anything about the Apple-HTC settlement and Samsung failed to find out as well. If there was a one-time flat fee to pay for Apple to walk away for good, it would be similar to what Google did with MPEG-LA. Here is a report about it all:
There is no indication that the two sides are close to a settlement, but talks between the companies are still going on, the people familiar with the discussions said.
In the negotiations, described sparingly in heavily redacted documents from the U.S. International Trade Commission made public earlier this month and by people familiar with them, Samsung has pushed for a broad patent cross-licensing deal that could settle all outstanding litigation between the companies. It is unclear whether Apple was interested in such a deal.
Even if that happened, it would not prevent other CPTN members like Oracle and Microsoft (and numerous patent trolls/proxies like MOSAID) from attacking Android in court. The real solution would be putting an end to software patents. █
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Apple asked for it
Summary: Quick response amid media spin which strives to portray Apple as the victim in the latest round of rulings from the United States
APPLE chose to sue Samsung rather than compete, seeking to embargo the leading products in vain. Samsung did not roll over like HTC had done and it sued back with full force, owing to its large patents portfolio. The result? Some iPhones and iPads are banned in the United states, urging Apple to pull back.
It was long due when Apple needed to taste it’s own bitter medicine. Desperate to get competitor’s products banned (without any success so far) Apple got its own iPhone (4, 3 and 3GS) and iPad (3G, 2 3G) banned from the US. The ban came from the ITC as these devices infringes upon Samsung’s patents related to cellular data. This ban effects only the AT&T models which use these patents.
Don’t let Apple-loving sites portray this as Samsung aggression. Apple is the one which started it all, striving to block anything that dares to compete with iDevices. Apple deserves this ban and it is irrevocable for now, or at least hard to revoke. AOL says “[t]he import ban could theoretically result in Apple being unable to sell the devices in question in the U.S., should all appeals fail and the decision be upheld, since Apple wouldn’t be able to bring the devices into the country from its overseas suppliers and manufacturing facilities. As this is an ITC ruling, it would have to be appealed to the White House or Federal Circuit to be overturned, notes Nilay Patel of The Verge on Twitter.”
Nilay Patel said “This is final, appealable only to WH (won’t touch it) and Fed Circuit.” The US system is biased against the Koreans, so maybe Apple can use its connections in the white house to whine about how it got beaten up after it had started a fight, totally unprovoked. This is an important post to send out with little additional research because a lot of the English-speaking media is already trying to smear the Korean company for defending itself in the face of Apple’s artillery. █
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Summary: Another attack on GNU/Linux results in payment to trolls and silence from Red Hat, which keeps the FOSS community in the dark
ACCORDING TO this concise and cryptic press release of Acacia, “Acacia Research Corporation (Nasdaq: ACTG) announced today that its subsidiary, Business Process Modeling Solutions LLC, has entered into a settlement and license agreement with Red Hat, Inc. This agreement resolves patent litigation that was pending in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas.”
No word from Red Hat. Late on Friday it was just dropped onto the wires, as before. Red Hat’s situation with Acacia was covered here before [1, 2, 3] and the problem here is the same. Red Hat offers no transparency and continues to feed a troll. The main problem is not the latter, but Red Hat chooses its self interest over the interests of FOSS by not challenging the troll.
Hopefully, with the looming arrival of new legislation, trolls will become easier to beat. A new report explains what the ‘Patent Abuse Reduction Act’ is about by stating: “The legislation, if passed, will make it hard for patent trolls to persist with their tactics of using corporate chimeras to launch multiple instances of litigation against the same target. It will also force trolls to pay all parties’ costs if they lose a patent case.
“Response to the bill has been positive. Rackspace, also based in Texas, has declared the Bill a fine idea and naming it “a very powerful weapon” in the fight against trolls.
“The Internet Association also likes the Bill, calling it “a valuable contribution to the ongoing discussion about how best to put an end to abusive patent litigation practices and to promote, rather than burden, real innovation in today’s Internet economy.””
Trolls, however, are not the only problem. Consider what Microsoft’s deal with Novell accomplished in order to keep spreading SUSE patent tax to more and more places at the expense of Red Hat. Consider the patent attacks of Microsoft and Apple on Android, too. Apple started suing Linux-based device makers about three years ago, starting with HTC. Since then Apple has been trying to ban or tax sales of such devices and now that a Samsung device is breaking all records Apple steps in with some patents again. To quote Pamela Jones’ coverage of this: “The judge in Apple v. Samsung II asked the parties to narrow their claims, so they did but now Apple would like to add more claims [PDF], specifically to include the Galaxy S4. Samsung just sold 10 million S4s in less than a month, and Apple’s hair must be on fire.
“Would you like to know what it thinks of all you 10 million users of the new Samsung Galaxy S4 phone? It thinks you are infringing their stupid patents too, meaning, I would imagine, that if it is successful in this case, it will ask for an injunction against the phones you want and bought.
“I’ll show you what this stupid case is all about and what Apple thinks about you for buying the phone you want to buy and use, which Apple would like to make illegal to buy and use in the US by means of some infuriating software method patents. If you don’t see why software shouldn’t be patentable subject matter after watching Apple go for Samsung’s throat with these patents, I give up.”
The problem is, inherently, patents. It’s not patent trolls in isolation. Apple and Microsoft are in these fights together and their combined effort is a proprietary mess. Once Free software leapfrogged them, as expected, they decided to use patents, their backup/insurance plan. Acacia is one of Microsoft’s patent proxies of choice by some people’s assessment. There is former Microsoft staff there. █
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Accepting the status quo, like sheep led to slaughter
Summary: Red Hat is too soft on the issue of software patents, based on its comments to the USPTO; Linux/Android continue to suffer from software patents in court cases which may last years
Red Hat has hardly been a flag bearer in the fight against software patents. It is not as bad as IBM, but it is not always helpful, either. Red Hat itself is filing to receive software patents of its own, making a distinction between what it calls “bad” software patents and “good” software patents. It tends to focus on trolls and in its Web site OpenSource.com (Red Hat-run) it has almost a monopoly on views regarding software patents.
Nevertheless, in the wake of USPTO opening up to feedback Red Hat is making its policy known:
The USPTO has been asking the public to respond to a series of questions with suggestions on improving patents. It is aware that the technical community isn’t happy with the way patents are being issued, particularly software patents. You are familiar with some of the USPTO’s questions, because we at Groklaw responded to two of them, topic 1 on how to improve software patents, regarding functional language, and topic 2, suggestions for future topics for discussion.
Red Hat’s suggestions play along the lines of software patents as a given, which is problematic. Groklaw‘s ‘cref 66895 suggestions], on the other hand, were very good and they are essential for a meaningful discussion of the real issues. Elsewhere in Groklaw there is a discussion about a legal case involving the best-selling Linux devices, the ones from Samsung. Here are the latest two updates on that:
1. Joint Case Management Statement Filed in Apple v. Samsung
The judge in the first Apple v. Samsung patent case in California, the Hon. Lucy Koh, asked the parties to file a joint case management statement, just in case she decides to go forward with an immediate second jury on the issue of damages on the 14 products where the first jury got the math wrong. And they have now done so [PDF]. There will be a hearing on all this on April 29. Of course, they disagree. Because they don’t agree on how to go forward, they each set out their positions, once again. The short version is that Apple wants to hurry up and have the trial immediately and Samsung wants to hear from the appeals court before the new damages trial goes forward, so as to ensure the same mistakes aren’t repeated.
2. Judge Koh’s Order in Apple v Samsung: No Stay on Damages Retrial, Unless…
Judge Lucy Koh has reached a decision [PDF] on going forward on the retrial on damages in Apple v. Samsung. Trial is set now for November 12th, on damages only, same Daubert rulings, motions in limine, discovery disputes, and evidentiary objections ruled on the same as the first trial, meaning if she made mistakes in the first trial, they’ll be repeated in the retrial. “The parties may not relitigate these issues,” she writes. So it’s all for the appeal court to figure out. She isn’t interested in reviewing all that. So if the appeals court orders a third trial, that’s the way it will have to be. She wants to keep the damages retrial short and sweet and limited to just one issue, and then send it on its way to appeal, so no new theories and no new fact discovery. There is a schedule for expert discovery. The jury will be 8 people, with the parties’ given three peremptory challenges each. Apple asked for the very same jury instructions, but she says they will get together on October 17th to discuss “how to
present infringement and validity findings” to the new jury. Other than that, she is silent on that point.
Trial expected at the end of this year, eh? Justice is taking too long, so it’s SCO all over again in that respect. What needs to occur some time in the next year or two is elimination of software parents in the United States (or radical cut-down). Red Hat just doesn’t go far enough to achieve that. We need other fronts in the fight against software patents; Google ain’t it, either. █
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Apple pushed over the cliff
Summary: Apple’s crucial ammunition against Linux/Android gets thrown by the USPTO right into the garbage can
The news from the second-largest patent case against Android gets covered by Pamela Jones, whose articles about Samsung and Apple include in-depth legal analysis. Companies like Microsoft, Oracle and Sony [1, 2] also sue Android, but none has earned a ruling as favbourable as Apple’s (just over a billion dollars in damages). The USPTO has been forced to acknowledge failure to examine patent applications. The USPTO reaffirms invalidation of Apple patent in Samsung suit, says CBS. Apple’s patent should not have been granted in the first place, so the USPTO should be held responsible for a lot of damage to the industry, again. Here is Jones’ coverage of the news and some more from CBS tabloid ZDNet.
“Apple deserves go go out of business for its shameless business strategy.”Mr. Pogson calls it a case of rotten Apple, noting: “So Apple’s case is shrinking like a rotten apple. There’s just nothing left, at least nothing Samsung has to apologize or pay for. In fact, I would not be surprised to find Apple had to pay some of Samsung’s costs for frivolous action.”
Apple deserves go go out of business for its shameless business strategy. We can help that happen by boycotting Apple and urging others to do the same. I have already convinced many friends and even some small companies to do this.
Speaking of Apple, watch this lousy propaganda piece from the New York Times, to which Mike Masnick responds as follows:
Author Claims That If Apple And Microsoft Started Today They’d Fail Without Stronger Patent Protection
First of all, the number of patents filed is meaningless. You can file a ton of patents and it means absolutely nothing concerning innovation. First off, applications are different from granted patents. Second, and more importantly, patents show no relation to innovation. Third, when it comes to Chinese patents, the Chinese realized long ago that patents are merely a tool for protectionist tariff-like policies that can be enacted with less scrutiny or trade war issues and have acted accordingly. Basically, nothing in the paragraph above actually supports Fingleton’s argument.
Apple is not an innovative company, it is a marketing company and it managed to market or brand itself as “innovative”; in practice, it’s just a ripoffs company. It hardly manufactures anything. █
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