Summary: Interview with Greedy Car Thieves (GCT) developers
Today’s show is primarily dedicated to a video/computer game called Greedy Car Thieves (GCT), which is similar to Grand Theft Auto (GTA) 2. We talked to two of the game’s developers. Tim has played the game and Roy tried to install it but faced a dependency barrier. We spoke with the developers about the technical aspects of the game, distribution of the game through various channels including the Humble Bundle, and we also spoke about licence in the context of compiling for Linux. Later in the show there was a long discussion about dirty tricks against Linux and its proponents. This discussion was focused on Microsoft. After the interview we play “It’s Because of People Like You” by Obi Best and at the end of the show we play “Washington Heights” by Glenn White’s Sacred Machines.
Summary: The 76th episode, the first of this season, kicks off with Tim and Roy
Today’s show deals with Amazon in Ubuntu, Vista 8, Apple vs. Samsung, search engines, games including Valve, and a variety of other topics. At the end we added the track “Misery Loves Company” by The Lovemakers.
Summary: The 75th episode of this nearly two year old show
This short episode speaks about the “Ogg only” policy we’ve adopted after suggestions from Richard Stallman (MP3 is a patent problem). I explain that Techrights came into existence/need because of the first software patents deal against GNU/Linux, namely the Microsoft-Novell deal of 2006 (5 years later Microsoft reaffirmed this relationship with SUSE) Ever since, Techrights has been collecting daily links and it regularly remarks on some. Any links needing extensive commentary on them (usually countering disinformation or responding to baseless attacks on Free software) turn into articles which are then researched on. As I explain in this recording, several blogs and even some domain names (with active sites) have been dedicated to just attacking Techrights, the messengers in particular. The reality is, behind the scenes there are transparent discussions with various well-regarded individuals, who, although they may not be publicly associating with the site and stand behind all of its messages, have been actively reading it and sharing links to it for years. Some translated articles and corresponding (manually produced) hard copies that were handed out to readers helped raise the issues and some made banners with the graphics for public protest, at times leaflets too, to raise awareness with.
When it comes to TechBytes, Tim is expected to be back soon. We were surprised by the quickly-gained popularity of thus audio show, which some people say they listen to in the car, at work, etc. We always recorded without scripting and always in one single take, essentially unedited. This one recording is no exception. At the end I added the track “You Do Run” by Cocktail Slippers.
Summary: Charles-H. Schulz from LibreOffice/TDF and Mandriva joins us for this fun episode which covers important but long-forgotten issues
TECHRIGHTS has been deeply involved in the ODF/OOXML controversy, peaking about 5 years ago. Back then, OpenOffice.org was powerful and LibreOffice did not exist just yet. In today’s show with Charles-H. Schulz (whom we interviewed before) we learn how and why LibreOffice was conceived. We also speak about the LibreOffice OOXML project which is supported by German and Swiss municipalities.
OOXML — “whatever pseudo format this really is,” as Charles puts it — is being compared to ODF in terms of progress. We don’t delve deeply into the corruption associated with OOXML so as to keep the show light, polite, and not fury-inspiring. We also speak about the role of IBM, the TDF with its stakeholders, Oracle, and Apache. With over 10 years of involvement in the field Charles helps shed light on many other matters surrounding LibreOffice. This episode should prove informative and wide-ranging, confined to just an hour although Charles and I can speak on those matters for many hours.
In the midst of this episode we play “My Patriotism” by Serengeti and we end with “My Sea” by CALLmeKAT.
Summary: The last part of our interviews series with Richard Stallman
TODAY we cover some more political issues including matters of law.
“If it doesn’t matter to [the public], then sure, let them keep it a secret.”Dr. Roy Schestowitz: What is your take on the notion of “trade secret”?
Dr. Richard Stallman: Well, since I think people have a right in general to keep secrets, that means they’re also gonna keep some trade secrets. And I don’t see any harm in this necessarily, for instance if you have a business and you don’t want to say who your customers are, well, OK, in general there is no reason why you should have to say who your customers are. On the other hand, when there is a public interest reason for certain information to be made available, that completely outweighs the businesses’ desire for secrecy. For instance, if you consider fracking, which is injecting fluids underground to push out natural gas. Well, some of those fluids are toxic and they have poisoned wells; they poisoned aquifers; they made people sick. But the companies say, “we don’t have to tell people what we’re injecting”. Well, as far as I’m concerned, what those companies want is of no importance compared with public health.
When there is an important reason companies should be ordered to say what they’re doing, because their desire is only enough in a situation where there is no particular reason on the other side. If it doesn’t matter to [the public], then sure, let them keep it a secret. But when it matters in important way to others, then the companies’ desire is not important.
Right, so basically that’s why it is diminished as soon as there is an externality.
Right, you see, when you’re doing something that’s going to affect public health, you haven’t got a right to keep a secret–not when anything important is at stake.
Right, what I mean to say, there is this thing of privacy right which corporations are not supposed to have, it’s really for people. But I suppose when there is an externality such as the public and there is an issue of public health all the taxpayers — paying the government to deal with certain companies — they do have a sense of entitlement to get information and that’s really more of the transparency…
“[W]hen you’re doing something that’s going to affect public health, you haven’t got a right to keep a secret–not when anything important is at stake.”But an important reason outweighs and unimportant one. All else being equal, I see no harm if… sorry, if there’s no powerful reason why a company should have to reveal something, then let it keep a secret if it wishes. But whenever an important reason shows up for requiring this information to be disclosed, tough on the company.
The last question I wanted ask it’s like, which is the government or state leader — either in the past or the present — that inspires you the most?
I don’t understand.
I’m just saying, which is the government or state leader — either in the past or in the present — which inspires you the most?
“But whenever an important reason shows up for requiring this information to be disclosed, tough on the company.”I don’t know how to answer a question like that. I’d have to think about it for a while to remember… you know, because if I read about some leader, that doesn’t mean I’ll remember today who that person is. And I might have felt, “wow, this is really a great example of doing the right thing,” but I don’t remember them. So my brain doesn’t work right for a question like that, sorry.
Okay, so I’ll ask a different question instead. Which is the person you would endorse for the presidency in 2012?
Oh, Jill Stein.
I know that.
In fact, I already have. She is the Green Party candidate. Well, I’d like to say why I endorse Jill Stein.
Okay, carry on.
“[Obama] is, I’d say, a Republican although he calls himself a Democrat.”Obama is basically right wing. He mostly does what companies want. And I won’t support a right-wing candidate. And of course Romney is even more right wing, but I’m not going to support a ring-wing candidate merely because he is a little less right wing than somebody else.
Obama protects torturers. Obama personally orders assassinations away from battle fields. Obama basically supports the banksters. Obama was bending over backwards not to prosecute them for crimes–the banks had committed gross crimes connected with foreclosures, and he wanted to impose a settlement. Some state attorneys general refused to go along with the settlement, so he had to compromise a little; he said there would be an investigation, but he gave the investigation too little funds and it looks like it’s going to really go nowhere. And this is after the banks took thousands of people’s houses based on lying in court. So he’s protecting them after they’ve committed tremendous crimes that have harmed probably hundreds of thousands of Americans (if not millions, but I don’t actually know). Then, to go beyond that, last year he joined in advocating deficit reduction as a goal when of course, when there’s a recession what’s needed is deficit spending; that’s the only way to get out of it. Of course he couldn’t force the House of Representatives, which is controlled by the Republican Party, to vote for something, but he could have championed the right policy. That he could have done by himself, but he didn’t. So he is, I’d say, a Republican although he calls himself a Democrat. And not only that but he said nothing about the danger of global heating, and he’s pushing in every possible way to build the tar sands oil pipeline from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico. He really is on the side of the oil companies, which are trying to fry our planet.
Dr. Jill Stein of the Green Party is in the trenches fighting for the people (source: AP)
Here ends the series of interviews with Richard Stallman. We’ll have more guests shortly.
Summary: The fourth part of our interviews series with Richard Stallman covers software patents opposition for the most part
TODAY we turn our attention to software patents for the most part. Here is the transcript.
Dr. Roy Schestowitz: How do you judge the reliability of a news source and which one or ones do you favour?
Dr. Richard Stallman: Well, how do I judge the reliability? To a large extent I look at the story, and I try to judge based on the other things I know whether this looks like it’s bullshit or possible truth. Because there are news sources that I know often slant things, but that doesn’t mean that I think that their statements of facts would wrong, because I expect that they would be caught if were wrong. I don’t know of any news sources that I could say “that’s a good one”, because they all have their positions, they all want to say some things and not others. The question is, does it seem plausible that they would say falsehoods about facts? Because there is some embarrassment involved in getting caught in saying… in giving some news that wasn’t true.
Many places are not likely to say things that are just false, but they may draw conclusions that don’t really follow, or that reflect bias.
My next question is about the GPL. More recently there has been some exposure for what’s known as the GPL.next, which Richard Fontana…
“Richard Fontana was interested in exploring some ideas, so he started a project to get suggestions about what to put in a copyleft licence.”No, no, it isn’t [called that] anymore. Basically, Richard Fontana was interested in exploring some ideas, so he started a project to get suggestions about what to put in a copyleft licence.
That name was not very nice because it implied that it would be the replacement, and of course for anyone to say “my work is going to replace your work” is a somewhat unfriendly thing to say, but that’s not what he seems to really mean, so I hope that he finds some interesting ideas through this.
My next question is, what do you consider to be the most effective strategy for elimination of software patents in the United States and worldwide as well?
“If the US trade representative is visiting, or there are a thousand reasons to protest the visit of the US trade representative, what he wants is good for business and bad for people in every country including the US.”Well, it depends on the country, because this is a matter of political activity and how to do that effectively varies from country to country. So I can’t give authoritative advice to people in other countries; if I can even do so in the US, it wouldn’t apply to other places. I can suggest possible approaches to try, you know, meet with officials, organise and make a protest in the street, have protests at events if any officials from that part of international agencies that favour software patents are coming, protest them. If the US Trade Representative is visiting — there are a thousand reasons to protest the visit of the US Trade Representative; what he wants is good for business and bad for people in every country including the US. How you influence politics in your country, you’ll know probably a lot better than I do. That’s what it involves, very likely. But it may also involve legal action, if your country’s courts could rule that software patents are not valid; that’s very important. But what you need is to find a lawyer to argue that case.
Now, in the US, when an appeal is being heard, anyone can send a friend of the court brief, which is published presenting arguments to be considered. If you are in a country which has a practice like that, that can be helpful.
But there is one point about which direction is going to be useful.
If the country does not have software patents, then it will work simply to make it clear and firm that software patents are not allowed, and put this into legislation so that the patent office can’t betray it. And you have to work hard making it ironclad, so that the patent office can’t find an excuse to betray it. For instance, there are countries in which computer programs can’t be patented, But the patent offices say, “we’re not issuing patents on computer programs, we’re issuing patents on techniques that can be used in computer programs.” Now, we think that those treaties and laws were meant to prevent that, but the patent offices reinterpret them in a way that means that [law or treaty] becomes effectively void, and doesn’t prevent any kind of patent that anyone would actually want to apply for. So you’ve got to be careful, you’ve got to study from a point a view, how could the patent office try to twist this?
“Congress can’t legislate the existing patents into non-existence.”However, there are countries which already have software patents, and in those countries restricting the issuance of software patents would still leave you with maybe hundreds of thousands of existing software patents. Well, if the courts ruled that software patents were never valid, they would all disappear. So there is some hope that that may eventually happen. But what could Congress do?
Congress can’t legislate the existing patents into non-existence. What it could however do is legislate that patents are not infringed by developing, distributing or running software on general-purpose computer hardware if the hardware itself doesn’t infringe. That way these patents would remain valid, and they could be applicable to hardware devices but not to software.
You see, patent systems don’t generally divide patents into software patents and hardware patents; it’s rather the patent would cover a certain idea, and maybe that idea is typically implemented in software, but the patent would also cover implementing it in hardware. My definition of a software patent is a patent that can prohibit programs. Because patents are not intrinsically labelled as software patents or hardware patents, you can’t just say “we are going to prohibit software patents”, you’ve got to define clearly what it is that’s not going to be issued, or else legislate about where patents apply and where they don’t apply.
The next and last part will be published in a few days.
Summary: The third part of our interviews series with Richard Stallman covers privacy in communication
In this third part we turn our attention to more political issues. I spoke to Richard Stallman about matters of privacy as he has in-depth knowledge of the facts. Here is the transcript.
Dr. Roy Schestowitz: My next question is more about surveillance because I don’t want it to be strictly about software because I know you do have the digital freedom in general and I want you to ask you about advice for trying to avert surveillance in this age where, based on the whistleblowers, we know the NSA is in fact recording vast amounts of information and data about people and also recording all the E-mails. What is your suggestion to people who try to avoid all of that?
Dr. Richard Stallman: Well, I think it’s our duty to avoid that. It’s every citizen’s duty to stick a finger in Big Brother’s eye. Now, the NSA would like us to believe that it’s doing the surveillance to protect us Americans from the terrorism, but the US regularly accuses dissidents of being terrorists. So whenever a government says it’s fighting “terrorists” read “dissidents”. And when you look at where the danger around the world comes from, to a large extent it comes from the US. The US was behind — or carried out — a war of aggression in Iraq, a war of conquest and then an occupation; as a result hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were killed. The usual figure is definitely an underestimate.
“…you gotta ask, who does the world need protecting from?”And so, really you gotta ask, who does the world need protecting from? And this is not — not to count — countries which are dictatorships that are propped up by the US, which carry out the worst kinds of atrocities but they are useful allies to the US, so the US protects them, such as Ethiopia and now Honduras. Honduras had a military coup which might have been organised by the US, but in any case it has certainly been given full support by the US since.
“…I think that it’s perfectly appropriate to do things like using Tor — and using encryption — to interfere with the NSA’a ability find out what you’re doing.”So, I just don’t think of that argument as valid at all. I don’t think that the NSA is on the side of the good people in the world. And so I think that it’s perfectly appropriate to do things like using Tor — and using encryption — to interfere with the NSA’a ability find out what you’re doing.
And I want to also ask you, what’s your advice about the use of mobile phones especially now that we know, at least based on Sprint, that the carriers, at least in the United States and we know here in the UK as well, are in fact collecting data on location of people, the people they phone, perhaps the address books as well. What would you say to people?
I don’t have mobile phone.
“This has been used to remotely convert phones into listening devices, and when that is done the phone picks up and transmits all the conversations in the vicinity whether you’re making a call or not and transmits it to someone and just pushing the button to switch it off does not necessarily really do that.”And why… it’s because mobile phones are Stalin’s dream. They are surveillance and tracking devices. They are always sending the location frequently (I think even if you don’t make a call), so your whole life is being tracked and of course if you do make a call, the system knows who you call. And not only that, most mobile phones have a universal back door, meaning that the phone company — or someone else — can forcibly install software changes without asking your permission. This has been used to remotely convert phones into listening devices, and when that is done the phone picks up and transmits all the conversations in the vicinity whether you’re making a call or not and transmits it to someone and just pushing the button to switch it off does not necessarily really do that. So I consider this outrageous and I won’t have one. If I’m travelling around somewhere and I need to make a call I ask somebody nearby to let me make a call. That way, Big Brother doesn’t get information about me.
More insights from Stallman are to be published in the coming days.