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10.23.19

Exploring Devuan as a GNU/Linux Server Platform

Posted in Site News at 3:17 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Serving about 20 million requests over the past month

Tux chair

Summary: Techrights will explore a migration to Devuan some time in the coming weeks or months

THE UPLOAD above is an image from figosdev, not exactly a fan of systemd. But he’s not alone. Other people, including associates of ours, have grown tired of systemd for purely technical reasons. It causes issues. Techrights still needs to run jobs in the background to ameliorate such issues. I myself have been more or less neutral or at least apathetic on the matter for many years. To be frank, init systems (systemd was initially introduced as such) aren’t something I’m sufficiently familiar with to comment on.

We recently noted that we had run the site on CentOS since 2006. This, however, might change soon. We might experiment with Devuan and see how well it works as a server. There should be plenty of time to entertain the idea and experiment around Christmas. This isn’t yet a promise that we will make the move, only an assurance that the possibility is being explored.

10.19.19

26,000 Posts

Posted in Site News at 2:35 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

AS readers are aware if they’ve been following for a while (some have followed us closely since 2006!), we’re soon turning 13 and this weekend we’ve finally hit that key milestone, which is 26,000 blog posts (some of these daily links, some articles, sometimes site announcements such as this one).

“We don’t intend to ever receive corporate money/patrons; that would defeat our purpose and credibility.”We want to thank those who help spread the word; it gives us moral support and morale. It keeps us going. It’s not just myself but a bunch of us who are involved and are working behind the scenes every day of the year. We’re 100% independent from corporate money, so any ‘biases’ we may have aren’t financially motivated but likely idealogical*. We don’t intend to ever receive corporate money/patrons; that would defeat our purpose and credibility.
____
* For those looking or pursuing full disclosure, my ‘daytime’ job (actually nighttime) is providing support for Free software. By far our biggest client is the National Health Service and some are activism/citizen journalism sites. There’s no conflict of interest.

10.14.19

This Week Techrights Crosses 26,000 Posts Milestone, 3 Weeks Before Turning 13 (2,000+ Posts/Year)

Posted in Site News at 4:44 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Time for another meme

Techrights; Exposing corruption; Oct 2019; Meme generator

Summary: A self-congratulatory post about another year that’s passed (without breaks from publishing) and another milestone associated with posting volume

THANKS to some help maintaining and running the site we believe it should be possible to increase productivity and take pace of publication up another notch. We expected to reach the 26,000 threshold (or milestone) some time next month, but we’re about to cross it before this week’s end. This certainly means that we’ve accelerated somewhat in recent weeks/months.

26,000 isn’t a particularly pretty number and 13 isn’t a special number/age except in one religion, so we probably won’t be preparing a cake or anything like that. Instead all effort/resources will go into more research, fact-checking and publication.

10.02.19

Increasing Transparency (Operational and Technical) at Techrights

Posted in Site News at 12:45 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Code and IRC logs

Enter the IRC channels now

Transparency

Summary: Publication of IRC logs to return to being a daily occurrence (that used to be done on a daily basis more than a decade ago, then weekly, monthly, 3 times per year); there’s more time-sensitive information which may or may not be useful for non-lurkers

TECHRIGHTS turns 13 next month. The IRC channels are almost as old as that. They’ve always been logged and transcripts published (sometimes sans IP addresses) because we choose a maximal — provided it’s safe — level of transparency. A lot is included in these logs and they can be searched.

“They’ve always been logged and transcripts published (sometimes sans IP addresses) because we choose a maximal — provided it’s safe — level of transparency.”In 2015 or thereabouts we published almost no logs for over a year. That was due to the intense atmosphere at the European Patent Office (EPO); Office spies were trying to identify sources of ours (whistle-blowers), but as far as we know they always failed. Over a year later we caught up with all the logs; on very rare occasions when something very sensitive gets published we redact. It’s extremely rare and it typically involves just rubbing out a name or address. It happens at most once or twice a year.

Back in the early days we published logs every single day (or night); even if that meant bring groggy late at night just to get it ‘out there’. Over time these releases became less frequent because the process is time-consuming. Some of the discussions that we nowadays have in IRC are important and if they age they become less relevant. So Techrights will try to get back to 2009/2010 and post logs on a daily basis again (as it had done since the very beginning). We’ll try our best to publish IRC logs on a daily basis, not 3 times a year. This requires some coding and a daily routine. Somebody also volunteered to help.

“So Techrights will try to get back to 2009/2010 and post logs on a daily basis again (as it had done since the very beginning)”The coding isn’t particularly sophisticated; it’s mostly automation of processing and workflow. There may be some bugs (yet to be discovered) at first. At one point we’ll put together the code and post it online, perhaps weeks after we resume Techrights IRC logs’ publication on a daily basis; we want to iron out some bugs. There are other bits of code that we developed to help write and run Techrights; there may be a public repository for it some time soon.

There are many new regulars in the IRC channels. Some (but not all) of that is related to recent events, notably the witch hunt against Richard Stallman (RMS)

“We believe that increased transparency can reduce the chance of misunderstandings and suspicion.”“As someone else rather recently alluded to,” an associate of ours wrote, “and as mentioned in the other message, CoC == Malleus Hackerum [based upon Malleus Maleficarum by Heinrich Kramer and Jacob Sprenger]. The goal is not to help anyone but simply to shutdown any and all proponents of Software Freedom under the false mask of helping someone else because the CoCs always have been applied very selectively. This has been shown again and again where ever CoCs have been forced into projects. But as we see with both RMS and Guido Van Rossum, it is possible to kick out the leader without a CoC.”

We believe that increased transparency can reduce the chance of misunderstandings and suspicion. For those wishing to know what goes on behind the scenes these logs offer insight.

09.25.19

Techrights Turns Thirteen Soon, Traffic at All-Time Record Levels

Posted in Site News at 8:53 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Been running CentOS all along

CentOS logo

Summary: We’re about to reach another milestone with an average of 2,000 blog posts/articles per year

JUST over a month is left before our next anniversary — one that few sites manage to celebrate because Web sites (or blogs) don’t tend to last very long. Seeing that IBM intends to keep CentOS going, we might upgrade to CentOS 8 some time in the not-so-distant future. We assessed quite a few alternatives, including Devuan, but seeing that Debian finally entertains another debate on systemd (or init diversity) we might also consider Debian GNU/Linux and its derivatives.

“We’re only about a hundred posts shy of 26,000 posts, so we expect that we will have posted 26,000 posts before we turn 13, putting the average pace at 2,000 per year.”In terms of traffic, we’re still moving up. Over the past half a week we served 2,470,881 requests (checked a short while ago) and the numbers go up every year if not every month. Many things that we wrote a very long time ago turn out to be of interest to a lot of people. We’re only about a hundred posts shy of 26,000 posts, so we expect that we will have posted 26,000 posts before we turn 13, putting the average pace at 2,000 per year.

08.25.19

Thirteen Years of Techrights This Year

Posted in Site News at 8:16 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Mark Webbink
Photo credit: Mark Webbink’s image by Luca Lucarini, CC BY-SA 3.0

Summary: We’re the survivor of a dying breed of sites, which are largely dedicated to FOSS-centric news

EARLIER this year Debian celebrated 26 years. That’s pretty impressive considering the fact that the grandfather of GNU/Linux, Slackware, was having some issues in recent years and its founder sought to raise funds through Patreon some weeks ago. This distribution was created by Patrick Volkerding in 1993, whereas Debian was created about a month later by Ian Murdock. He founded the Debian Project on August 16, 1993.

So far in 2019 at least 3 noteworthy GNU/Linux distributions ‘called it a day’. News sites covering GNU/Linux also suffered heavy casualties; these were some of the biggest sites, notably Linux Journal and Linux.com; few others became stagnant. It’s part of the decline of media in general, not a problem with GNU/Linux in particular.

“So far in 2019 at least 3 noteworthy GNU/Linux distributions ‘called it a day’. News sites covering GNU/Linux also suffered heavy casualties; these were some of the biggest sites, notably Linux Journal and Linux.com; few others became stagnant.”The journey of Techrights began back in the days of Digg. Remember Digg.com? I certainly do. I was a Ph.D. student at the time and “social media” had just begun to catch on (prior to it I spent a lot of time in USENET newsgroups). In 2006 I met Shane on Digg, where we shared our concerns about the Novell deal with Microsoft. That’s how a blog (back then dedicated to a Novell boycott) was born. Digg.com is still around, but it’s in no way related to the original Digg, which stagnated and died within a few years. By 2009 or 2010 it was already quite irrelevant, partly (depending on one’s interpretation) due to Facebook and Twitter, maybe even Reddit. Those three sites are still around. Back in 2006 we also shared concerns and views with Groklaw and Technocrat, the site of Bruce Perens (famous for Debian and OSI). Perens made a bit of a comeback, even in his own domain name, but that didn’t quite replace his original project, the “Slashdot for grown-ups” which suffered an epic demise just like Slashdot itself. As for Groklaw, it too made a sort of comeback attempt, first with Mark Webbink, a former Red Hat employee (he’s retired now; photo above), and then Pamela Jones (PJ) again. I spent years mailing her every day and her decision to ‘disappear’ from the Web was rather disappointing. Snowden’s leaks did not reveal much that wasn’t already known; they just provided hard proof for what many of us speculated about or cited other whistleblowers about (they didn’t have the documentary evidence at hand, so NSA denials was simpler). At the same time Andy Updegrove’s blog became less active (he’s with the Linux Foundation now) and the Web as we knew it was transforming into Social Control Media, which is a lot of hearsay.

The media as a whole is being battered; and no, tabloids aren’t media and channels like Fox News and CNN are mostly partisan feeding frenzy. They lack credibility and accuracy on a lot of topics — typically those that get them many viewers, drawing them in based largely on emotion, not substance.

In a sense, we view ourselves as survivors of much turbulence. We don’t rely on ads and we don’t pay salaries; I work full time in a technical job, so I can afford to keep the site going in my spare time. No rich sponsors, no sellouts, no “affiliate” posts.

“In a sense, we view ourselves as survivors of much turbulence.”It seems pretty certain we’ll reach 15 years. 20 years might be a challenge, but at the moment it seems doable because we're growing. Our European Patent Office (EPO) coverage helped make a positive impact and this year we’re gradually revisiting more and more aspects of GNU/Linux and Software Freedom. Some of the topics we covered nobody else dared cover. We have several important stories in the pipeline. Hopefully we won’t have to see any more publishers in the area of FOSS (what’s left of such publications) perishing and closing down. That creates an information vacuum that gives leeway to Microsoft's PR department and prevents introspection or self-assessment — something sorely needed in today’s tough terrain of GAFAM and Microsoft entryism.

08.21.19

Some Patent Attorneys Dislike Techrights Not Because It’s Wrong But Because Software Patents Are Wrong (and Sometimes Illegal)

Posted in Europe, Patents, Site News at 5:57 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Actually it is the case, as SUEPO made very clear (based on internal data)

EPC rantsSummary: Odd rants which misuse common law and ignore alleged Fair Use (and misinterpretation of copyright law, for censorship purposes) would have people believe that we’re wrong; but it’s more likely that the person in question is jealous, insecure, or offended by our stance on patent scope, which is very much rooted in the law itself (and the views widely held by software developers globally)

OUR in-depth coverage of European Patent Office (EPO) affairs is over 5 years old. We had covered the EPO prior to that, but not as frequently. We nowadays have pretty deep insights, valuable contacts and a good understanding of the issues. We’re fine with attorneys/lawyers not liking us. Some of them accept what we’re arguing, whereas others find it “offensive”. We can’t please everyone, but we can at least keep honest. We’re sincere, sometimes brutally (for some).

“We don’t try to discourage dissent against us; we’re all for free speech. But free speech also means the right to defend oneself — something IP Kat urgently needs teaching itself about.”We don’t typically write this kind of post, but SUEPO currently links to a Kluwer article from Team UPC, where the majority of comments mention Techrights in one form or another. There’s one person there who always claims to sort of agree while at the same time, perpetually, always bashing us. We’ve noticed the same in IP Kat and another site. It’s usually the same person and it often boils down to our view/s on patent scope.

In short, arguing that the EPC is OK with software patents is intellectually dishonest; that’s simply untrue. And no, calling it "HEY HI" (AI) won’t change that; I’ve done “AI” since my early 20s, I know how that works. I wrote code to that effect.

The law is pretty clear about software patents. So are the courts. So is the European Parliament. But we suppose those who make a living from such patents are in denial about it (for the same reason Team UPC is in denial about the collapse of UPC/A).

We don’t try to discourage dissent against us; we’re all for free speech. But free speech also means the right to defend oneself — something IP Kat urgently needs teaching itself about. It’s also deleting comments critical of the EPO and its management. Not cool…

Earlier today we saw a post about PPH (akin to PACE and other programmes that speed things up; another such programme was mentioned here yesterday). Speed isn’t indicative of quality and it’s usually detrimental to accuracy, especially when multiple people need to assess a case/application. PPH generally works in favour of software patents in Europe — patents that are legal neither in Europe nor in Australia. They’re looking “to fast-track patent applications,” as Paul Whenman and Andrew Gregory have just put it. Their article is about sloppy patent examination designed to just help aggressive patent trolls and equip those looking for sanctions/embargoes (profit by harm and extortion), not innovation. Campinos and Battistelli don’t know what innovation is; they’re not scientists. In the words of Whenman and Gregory: [via Lexology]

IP Australia became an early participant in the PPH process. Following a successful pilot program with the USPTO, which commenced on 14 April 2008, Australia joined the Global PPH (GPPH). The GPPH initially covered Canada, US, Japan, South Korea, Denmark, Finland, Great Britain, Iceland, Norway, Portugal, Spain and Russia. Subsequently, the New Zealand jurisdiction was added, along with a raft of other particpants.

Although the European Patent Office (EPO) is notably absent from the list of GPPH participants, fortuitously, IP Australia entered into a bilateral agreement with the EPO on 1 July 2016 in order to fast-track patent applications. This agreement provided for a trial period of three years. Given the global significance of the EPO, this was a very welcome and positive development.

[...]

On 1 July 2019 it was announced that the PPH trial between IP Australia and the EPO would continue for a further three years. Additionally, the original GPPH program with the other participant IP offices continues with no indication of curtailment.

This is indeed very good news as applicants will continue to be able to access and gain the benefits of the generous PPH programs operated by IP Australia.

Techrights has long expressed concerns about the EPO putting litigation first; it seems to have forgotten its core values and goals. If it exists to promote science and knowledge, it will give the benefit of the doubt to defendants/alleged infringers. Instead, today’s EPO gives many bogus patents to serial plaintiffs/claimants, who may in turn leverage these bogus patents to make bogus (invalid) claims of infringement. Patent trolls absolutely love that.

“On 1 July 2019 it was announced that the PPH trial between IP Australia and the EPO would continue for a further three years.”
      –Paul Whenman and Andrew Gregory
PPH is obviously biased or tilted in favour of plaintiffs, not defendants. Judging by who (or whose groups) today’s EPO management likes to associate with and hang out with (in the media it has liaised with Watchtroll), it’s crystal clear whose side they’re on. How many of today’s EPO managers even have a background in science? One is alleged to have faked his diploma, but that’s another matter. If a few people have an issue with our EPO coverage not because they disagree about the EPO but about patent scope, maybe it’s because they don’t do actual coding and can’t quite see things with developers’ scopes/optics.

08.20.19

EPO Cannot Handle Patent Justice With a Backlog of About 10,000 Cases at the Boards of Appeal

Posted in Site News at 12:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Recent: Index: G 2/19 (Enlarged Board of Appeal, EPO)

EPO toons

Summary: The EPO’s long war on judges and on the law has proven to be costly; it’s difficult to pretend that the EPO functions like a first-world legal framework

ABOUT one year ago the European Patent Office (EPO) had about 9,000 impending cases after Battistelli had attacked and understaffed the appeal boards for a number of years. António Campinos obviously did nothing to tackle this issue. Some of these cases, including an imminent one regarding computer simulation, concern software patents in Europe. Several months ago a blogger from Kluwer Patent Blog took note of that staggering number. The EPO management’s attack on its judges has resulted in an unbelievable backlog in the ‘justice’ faculties/departments. What good is justice that can take like a decade to arrive? It may be irrelevant by the time it’s ‘reached’. Similar issues exist at ILO-AT.

“What good is justice that can take like a decade to arrive? It may be irrelevant by the time it’s ‘reached’.”Just promoted via Lexology was last week’s article from a law firm, revealing that ‘acceleration’ is possible in particular cases (like PPH or PACE). To quote:

Appeal proceedings at the European Patent Office (EPO) typically last in excess of three years, but can last significantly longer (according to the 2017 Annual Report of the Boards of Appeal, technical appeal proceedings lasted 38 months on average, but some cases had been pending for eight years). With this long duration of proceedings, it is no surprise that there is a substantial backlog of pending cases (over 9,000 at the end of 2018, according to the 2018 Annual Report of the Boards of Appeal).

[...]

Requests for accelerated processing of an appeal should be filed with the competent Board of Appeal, and may be filed at the beginning of or during appeal proceedings. Such requests should specify the reasons for urgency, and be submitted with documents that support this reasoning. There is no official form for requesting accelerated processing of an appeal.

Preparing for such a request takes time and money. Given what we saw in the past (EPO leaks), this may discriminate based on size, connections, and money.

“Thankfully, the UPC is failing.”This is the kind of thing Germany’s FCC must look into; justice in today’s EPO is mostly an illusion. It’s infeasible. It used to more or less work, the Office used to more or less function. But now? Total chaos. Does one want to extend this system to courts all across Europe?

Thankfully, the UPC is failing. SUEPO linked to an article to that effect earlier today. People in the comments in that article (composed by Team UPC) mostly focus on Techrights, still upset because of our opposition to software patents (we assume these comments come from one single patent attorney).

“Ironically in some sense, the person who pushed the hardest for the UPC is also the person who doomed it. Battistelli’s attacks on the judges aren’t forgotten and aren’t forgiven. Brexit isn’t even the prime barrier; the extreme lack of justice at the EPO is.”In summer of 2019 the famous complaint against the UPC turns two. Each year that passes is another nail on the UPC’s coffin. Almost exactly a year ago this site called Down to Earth boiled down to misinformation, slanting everything in favour of the litigation ‘industry’ (as if it’s the sole thing that matters). The writer ended up putting a copyright sign/symbol as the head image in the article about patents, showing that these people have no clue what they’re writing about (or intentionally lying). They referred to patents as “IP” (not Invalid Patent but something meaningless and misleading).

Ironically in some sense, the person who pushed the hardest for the UPC is also the person who doomed it. Battistelli’s attacks on the judges aren’t forgotten and aren’t forgiven. Brexit isn’t even the prime barrier; the extreme lack of justice at the EPO is.

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