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Links 21/5/2015: Fedora 22 RC2, CERN Chooses OpenStack

Posted in News Roundup at 3:42 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Open source is about more than cost savings
  • Open source as a path to innovation

    So as technology leaders — as the drivers of innovation — we must always be on the lookout for new ways to ready our organizations for agility. One means to that end is open source. Open source is the ultimate platform for flexibility, right? A platform that affords us the agility we need to quickly adapt as technology evolves, business demands expand and markets mature. A platform that allows us to innovate how we want, when we want — rather than innovating on the path and at the pace of our vendors.

  • Open Source Software to Catalogue Cultural Heritage Before a Crisis

    Cultural heritage management tends to suffer from limited funding and resources, which can make a crisis — whether natural disaster, pipeline construction, or war — that much more catastrophic for assessing what’s in need of protection. An open-source system called Arches is the first online tool designed specifically to inventory heritage sites. It was created through a partnership between the World Monuments Fund (WMF) and the Getty Conservation Institute (GCI), and its third version launched earlier this month.

  • Events

    • Protocols Plugfest Europe 2015

      Last week I had the pleasure of speaking at Protocols Plugfest Europe 2015. It was really good to get out of the bubble of free software desktops where the community love makes it tempting to think we’re the most important thing in the world and experience the wider industry where of course we are only a small player.

    • GNOME Asia 2015

      I was in Depok, Indonesia last week to speak at GNOME Asia 2015. It was a great experience — the organisers did a fantastic job and as a bonus, the venue was incredibly pretty!

    • [Event-Report] rootconf-2015
  • Web Browsers

    • Mozilla

      • Mozilla Integrates Propietary Pocket Plugin

        This is based on the proprietary former addon pocket, which is now no longer supported since it is being integrated.

        It’s only the beta channel, but this has all the hallmarks of a half-baked revenue stream for Mozilla that ultimately sells out user privacy – and what’s worse, is opt-out, rather than opt-in.

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • fresh breeze for LibreOffice

      LibreOffice is a great OpenSource project. They have a Design Group and help you a lot if you’d like to do something for LibreOffice. Now LibreOffice prepare the new release LibreOffice 5.0 and for this release I’d like to be finished the LibreOffice Breeze icon set. Uri and I work since last November on the icon set so you also have a package available in your repository. Now I’d like to post that we are nearly finished. 98 % (2.700 icons) of the icon set is done, so it is ready for your review. As the monochrome LibreOffice icon set Sifr is less finished than Breeze, I though the fallback icon set for Sifr is Breeze.

  • CMS

    • How open source disrupted the CMS market

      Open source is increasingly changing the software industry. We can see open source products gaining market share in almost every category today, and this development is continuing at a fast pace.

      Although a lot of business people still intuitively think of Linux when it comes to open source software, content management systems played a pivotal role in changing the mindset within corporations. Why? Because the CMS industry was one of the first to largely adopt open source products. Nowadays, the most corporations use open source content management systems for their web platforms. Some of them may not even realize it.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • France wants to accelerate its reforms through open government

      The action plan that France must submit as part of its membership of the Open government partnership (OGP) is mainly build on reforms already announced.

    • France will chair OGP in 2016

      France will chair the Open Government Partnership from October 2016 to October 2017, after the OGP Steering Committee accepted France’s application at a meeting in Mexico on April 24.

    • PDF Poland Central Eastern: Digital tools to promote openness and democracy

      Eastern Central Europe has to reinvent itself and digital tools are the way to succeed. This is one of the conclusions drawn during the Personal Democracy Forum Poland-Central Eastern. This conference, which took place in Warsaw in mid-April, was organised by the ePaństwo Foundation (Fundacja ePaństwo) – a Polish NGO aiming at developing democracy and transparency.

    • Open Hardware

      • VA’s ‘Grand Challenge’: Open-Source Prosthetic Limbs for Veterans

        Last week, VA’s Center for Innovation launched its three-month Innovation Creation Series for Prosthetics and Assistive Technologies. The aim of the series is to build a suite of special prosthetics and other state-of-the-art technologies to support wounded veterans in their day-to-day lives.

  • Programming

    • Java at 20: Its successes, failures, and future

      Although Java was developed at Sun Microsystems, Oracle has served as the platform’s steward since acquiring Sun in early 2010. During that time, Oracle has released Java 7 and Java 8, with version 9 due up next year. InfoWorld Editor at Large Paul Krill recently spoke to Oracle’s Georges Saab, vice president of software development for the Java Platform Group, about the occasion of Java’s 20th anniversary.

    • Happy birthday Java


  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • US Approves Saudi Use Of Banned Cluster Bombs (But Only If They’re Extra Careful)

      Following a report on Sunday, where Human Rights Watch said video and photographic evidence showed that Saudi Arabia used cluster bombs near villages in Yemen’s Saada Province at least two separate times, the US State Department said it is “looking into” the allegations but, as Foreign Policy reports, said the notoriously imprecise weapon — banned by much of the world — could still have an appropriate role to play in Riyadh’s U.S.-backed offensive (as long as it was used carefully).

    • Africa as Battlefield

      The US is trying to win “hearts and minds” in Africa. It’s not going well.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

  • Privacy

    • Snowden Sees Some Victories, From a Distance

      For an international fugitive hiding out in Russia from American espionage charges, Edward J. Snowden gets around.

      May has been another month of virtual globe-hopping for Mr. Snowden, the former National Security Agency contractor, with video appearances so far at Princeton and in a “distinguished speakers” series at Stanford and at conferences in Norway and Australia. Before the month is out, he is scheduled to speak by video to audiences in Italy, and also in Ecuador, where there will be a screening of “Citizenfour,” the Oscar-winning documentary about him.

    • Fighting that Terminator in our Pockets

      Communications massively collected for further behavioural analysis and profiling (PRISM) and sabotage of any commercial product dedicated to protect our data and communications (BULLRUN) are just examples of how everyday technology, now part of ourselves, has been systematically perverted and turned against us.

    • The new war on encryption is based on a lie

      Back in January, David Cameron made what sounded like a threat to ban, or at least undermine, encryption in the UK. “The question is,” Cameron said, “are we going to allow a means of communications which it simply isn’t possible to read. My answer to that question is: no, we must not.” On its own that might be dismissed as a politician talking tough to please his supporters, but it’s part of a much wider attack on strong encryption from the authorities on both sides of the Atlantic.

      In October last year, FBI Director James Comey spoke of his agency’s fears about things “going dark” because of encryption, while NYPD Commissioner Bill Bratton said encryption “does a terrible disservice to the public.” A month later, NSA General Counsel Stewart Baker offered the view that the reason Blackberry had failed was because it used “too much encryption.” More recently, Rob Wainwright, the director of Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said encryption is “the biggest problem for the police and the security service authorities in dealing with the threats from terrorism,” while the UK’s National Policing Lead for Counter-Terrorism, Assistant Commissioner Mark Rowley, called products that offer strong encryption “friendly to terrorists.”

  • Civil Rights

    • Border Patrol Agents Tase Woman For Refusing To Cooperate With Their Bogus Search

      Cooke knew the CBP agents needed something in the way of reasonable suspicion to continue to detain her. But they had nothing. The only thing offered in the way of explanation as they ordered her to return to her detained vehicle was that she appeared “nervous” during her prior interaction with the female CBP agent. This threadbare assertion of “reasonable suspicion” is law enforcement’s blank check — one it writes itself and cashes with impunity.

    • Tased Motorist to CBP Agent: ‘What the Fuck Is Wrong With You?’

      After presenting her driver’s license, Cooke, who surely learned in college that police (and even CBP agents!) need “reasonable suspicion” to detain someone, asks why she was pulled over. “You guys have no reason to be holding me,” she says. A male agent who identifies himself as a supervisor has no explanation for the detention, but he says Cooke will have to wait for a drug-sniffing dog to inspect her car. “Well, they’d better be here soon, because if not, I’m calling 911, and this can all be figured out,” Cooke says. “You guys are holding me here against my will.” Eventually the female agent who first interacted with Cooke says she seemed nervous—an all-purpose excuse for detaining someone, since people tend to be nervous when confronted by armed government officials.

    • Pilot who landed gyrocopter at US Capitol now faces six charges

      A Florida man who piloted a gyrocopter through miles of America’s most restricted airspace before landing at the U.S. Capitol is now facing charges that carry up to 9½ years in prison.

    • Gyrocopter pilot indicted on six charges

      The Florida postal worker who flew his gyrocopter under the radar into Washington and onto the West Lawn of the Capitol earlier this year faces nearly 10 years in prison after being indicted by a federal grand jury on Wednesday.

      Doug Hughes, 61, was indicted in U.S. District Court in D.C. on two felony counts of flying without a pilot’s certificate and lacking registration for his small aircraft, each carrying up to three years in prison.


Microsoft is Again Showing Its Hatred of Free/Open Source Software by Lobbying the Indian Government to Drop a Rational National Policy

Posted in Asia, Deception, Microsoft at 6:55 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Public display of hatred

Narendra Modi

Summary: Microsoft decides to attack Free/Open Source software (FOSS) in India, where the corporate media is very much complicit in misleading the public


ARLIER this year we repeatedly wrote that upon India's adoption of a Free/Open Source software-leaning policy Microsoft would attempt to paint itself "Open Source", or misleadingly associate Windows with "Open Source" (Microsoft is now openwashing Windows by throwing some Windows Communication Foundation code out there). We were only partly right because Microsoft is now making the decision to actually attack the judgment of India’s government.

Big mistake. It’s offensive and potentially offending.

Microsoft pretends to be “Open Source”-friendly but at the same time it lobbies India government’s against rational, pro-India policy — a policy that would create many jobs in India and improve national security. India, being a software-producing giant, needs Microsoft as much as Norway needs lumber imports from the Sahara. It is worth reminding readers that several months ago Prime Minister Narendra Modi travelled to the US and met Microsoft’s CEO in person. See our past articles about Microsoft’s influence in the Indian government, where officials are notoriously corruptible.

Corporate Media to Microsoft’s Rescue

Here is the Business Standard (corporate press of India) helping Microsoft to get its message (lobbying) out. To quote: “The technology-savvy Narendra Modi government may have upset large software firms, especially Microsoft, in its bid to be more efficient and transparent. In March, the government announced an open-source policy that makes it mandatory for all future applications and services to be designed using the open-source software (OSS). In case of an exception, where proprietary or closed-source software (CSS) is deployed, officials have to justify their decision.

“Microsoft pretends to be a victim merely because governments want Free/libre software code and open standards.”“Microsoft India chairman Bhaskar Pramanik told Business Standard the government’s preference for open source is not an issue. However, putting a clause where use of anything other than open source has to be justified is an area of concern.”

How so?

This is a reminder of Microsoft’s unique stance (no other company is named here) and feeling/sense of entitlement. When the British government chose to go with open standards for document formats (ODF) Microsoft attacked the government’s decision rather than comply by properly supporting the standard. Microsoft is upset not about the policy but about rivals of Microsoft getting more of an opportunity. Microsoft pretends to be a victim merely because governments want Free/libre software code and open standards. What’s good for taxpayers is very seldom good for Microsoft.

Calling Proprietary “Open Source”

Speaking of India and its submissive corporate media, the Indian press is wrong yet again (just earlier today). Cyanogen, a proxy of Microsoft (classic embrace extend and extinguish manoeuvre by Microsoft), is not “open source” as this headline from the Economic Times (corporate media) foolishly claims. “US-based Cyanogen,” says the article, “the developer of an open-source mobile operating system, will open an office in India within the next three months, and plans to acquire startups, according to a senior company executive.”

“Microsoft is unable to bring Android apps to Windows, so it is trying to steal Android itself.”It is not an “open-source mobile operating system” because the company, Cyanogen (not to be confused with CyanogenMod), plans to put Microsoft proprietary software in the operating system of another company (Google), exploiting Google’s FOSS-friendly nature. Here is a new reminder (from yesterday) regarding what Microsoft wants/hopes to turn Android into: “Today, they’ve added phone support for beta testers – those who’ve joined the Microsoft Office Preview community on Google+ and sign up for the apps you want to try. You’ll then be able to find them on the Google Play Store, where the apps have dropped “for tablet” from their name.”

So Microsoft is now using Google+ to screw Google and take away Android from Google, turning the platform into just a carrier of Microsoft’s proprietary software, with extra spying of course. Based on [1] (below), there is a grand plan. Microsoft is unable to bring Android apps to Windows, so it is trying to steal Android itself. It takes something which is Free software and turns it into proprietary software that spies on users (turning them into products to be sold to spies, advertisers, and so on).

Microsoft Wants Everyone’s Data

Based on this new article, StackStorm is now playing along with this kind of agenda, giving Microsoft data to spy on. To quote: “StackStorm CEO Evan Powell says StackStorm can be used to not only automate that management of application workloads on the Microsoft Azure cloud, but also other cloud platforms such as Amazon Web Services or an OpenStack-compatible cloud.”

“Indian officials would have to be out of their minds (or corrupt) to continue procurement of Microsoft software after the NSA leaks, among other revelations about Microsoft’s crude business practices.”How foolish. Microsoft is increasingly trying to exploit users for their data and based on this new article from PopSci, Microsoft is now trying to lure children into proprietary software that spies on children. As the article puts it: “This grim declaration is a part of [Microsoft's] De Cicco Remu’s push for pencil-less classrooms. She believes pencils, paper, and chalkboards are all outdated methods of teaching. If De Cicco Remu has her way, “inking”, or using a stylus and a tablet, will be the new handwriting. Also, kids need to have the appropriate products–all Microsoft, of course. (She plugs Office 365 and OneNote as being helpful for classroom settings.)”

These are surveillance products and it is worth recalling Microsoft’s special relationship with the NSA. Indian officials would have to be out of their minds (or corrupt) to continue procurement of Microsoft software after the NSA leaks, among other revelations about Microsoft’s crude business practices.

Modi is renowned as somewhat of a nationalist (as in, looking after his nation’s interests) and he holds a Master of Arts degree in political science. He should be wise enough to know that Microsoft is no friend of India.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Developers ‘uninterested’ in tweaking iOS and Android apps for Windows

    Developers are said to be reluctant to modify iPhone and Android apps for Windows Phone over doubts over app quality and how easy the process will be

Links 20/5/2015: Containers, OpenStack, and EXT4 Corruption

Posted in News Roundup at 3:44 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Lee Schlesinger: No one nowadays objects to FOSS

    I’m Lee Schlesinger, currently managing editor for the Spiceworks Community. Spiceworks provides a free downloadable help desk and network inventory application, and hosts a community for IT pros to discuss both work and off-topic issues. Though we have a pretty popular Linux group in the community, many of the community members, who we call SpiceHeads, work in Microsoft-centric shops.

  • Huawei launches 10KB LiteOS to power the internet of things

    Chinese telecoms giant Huawei is preparing to launch an operating system for the internet of things that’s just 10 kilobytes in size. The company says that its “LiteOS” is the “lightest” software of its kind and can be used to power a range of smart devices — from wearables to cars. Huawei predicts that by 2025 there will be roughly 100 billion internet-connected devices in the world, with 2 million new sensors deployed every hour. The company also said that the OS would be “opened to all developers” to allow them to quickly create their own smart products — although it’s unclear whether this means that LiteOS will be fully open-source. Huawei says LiteOS also supports “zero configuration, auto-discovery, and auto-networking.”

  • Electronic IDs need open source tools

    In Sweden there is a service called BankID, it’s an electronic identity service. Banks issue the electronic ID which can be used by companies, banks and government agencies to authenticate and conclude agreements with individuals over the internet. A few months ago however it was decided that BankID software on Linux would no longer be supported. Finding an alternative can be difficult for Linux users.

  • Events

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • OpenStack: Ready for more enterprise adoption?

      OpenStack is ready for enterprise deployment, but there are rough spots that is likely to relegate it to new workloads and self-service developer use, according to Forrester Research.

    • ​Red Hat brings Gluster to OpenStack shared file service

      At OpenStack Summit, Red Hat announced it was releasing a technology preview of Red Hat Gluster Storage with integration into OpenStack’s new Manila shared file system project.

    • The OpenStack Foundation Rolls Out a Community App Catalog

      A foundation can do a lot to unite a community–just look at the example set by The Linux Foundation. This week, the OpenStack Foundation has rolled out a community application catalog built to facilitate collaboration and sharing on the OpenStack scene, where many IT administrators are wrestling with deploying the open cloud platform. The concept is to encourage administrators and others to leverage the work that has already been produced in OpenStack deployments.

    • MapR Reacts to Gartner Findings on Hadoop Implementation

      Researchers at Gartner have been in the news for throwing some shade on Hadoop with the results of a new study that found that Hadoop is, well, hard. There are just not enough skilled professionals that can claim mastery of the platform, among other issues. Gartner, Inc.’s 2015 Hadoop Adoption Study, involving 284 Gartner Research Circle members, found that only 125 respondents who completed the whole survey had already invested in Hadoop or had plans to do so within the next two years.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • LibreOffice 5.0 Open-Source Office Suite Has Been Branched

      Branching LibreOffice 5.0 now puts it under a hard feature freeze while the beta one release is to follow quite soon followed by a second LO 5.0 beta in early June. Four release candidates for LibreOffice 5.0 will come during June and July while the official release of LibreOffice 5 is still slated for the end of July or early August.

  • CMS

    • Free, Open Source & Feature Rich: An Overview of DotCMS

      dotCMS has claimed a desirable chunk of the enterprise market by landing and working alongside large clients such as Standard & Poor’s, Wiley Publishing, Thomson Reuters Foundation and Hospital Corporation of America. As such, it’s reputation as an enterprise solution is growing fast.

  • Healthcare

    • The future of open source in health IT

      I’ve known Fred for about 15 years or so, first as a contributor to OpenEMR and later we accidentally met in person at the University of Texas. It’s pretty cool to come face-to-face with folks you’ve only know online and, mostly, from working with their contributed code! Over the years, Fred has hosted a couple of open source healthcare IT conferences and done some great work in the field for ClearHealth/MirrorMed with Dave Ulhman and now focusing on open data.

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • Node.js and io.js to merge under Node.js Foundation

      The merger was put to a vote on GitHub by io.js developer Mikeal Rogers, who initially proposed the merger in February, and the io.js technical committee voted to approve the merger yesterday. According to Rogers, the team will continue releasing io.js versions while the convergence takes place, but after the merger is complete, the io.js working groups and technical committee will join the Node.js Foundation under renamed titles.

    • Code.org and College Board Team Reach Out for Talented High School Coders

      The goals of the program are to provide high-quality computer science instruction at the high school level and to identify potentially talented computer students who are in demographics underserved by the IT industry, such as women and ethnic minorities.


  • IT Workers Report Significant Decrease in Stress Levels

    Good news for stressed out IT professionals—a TEKsystems survey of more than 1,000 IT workers indicates a vast positive change in the stability of IT staffing environments as compared to a year ago.

  • Hackathons 101: How to Hack Your Way to the Top
  • Security

    • Oracle Patches the Venom Security Issue in All Supported VirtualBox Branches
    • Is SELinux good anti-venom?

      Dan Berrange, creator of libvirt, sums it up nicely on the Fedora Devel list:

      “While you might be able to crash the QEMU process associated with your own guest, you should not be able to escalate from there to take over the host, nor be able to compromise other guests on the same host. The attacker would need to find a second independent security flaw to let them escape SELinux in some manner, or some way to trick libvirt via its QEMU monitor connection. Nothing is guaranteed 100% foolproof, but in absence of other known bugs, sVirt provides good anti-venom for this flaw IMHO.”

    • Tuesday’s security updates
    • DDoS reflection attacks are back – and this time, it’s personal

      At the start of 2014, attackers’ favorite distributed denial of service attack strategy was to send messages to misconfigured servers with a spoofed return address – the servers would keep trying to reply to those messages, allowing the attackers to magnify the impact of their traffic.

    • Another HTTPS Vulnerability Rattles The Internet

      Another HTTPS vulnerability has started to make its rounds earlier this morning. Dubbed Logjam by its researchers, the vulnerability stems from the US’s encryption export mandate back in the 1990s. This particular vulnerability, in the transport-layer security layer protocol, breaks the Diffie-Hellman perfect forward-secrecy. Susceptibility to the vulnerability is depended on servers and clients supporting the DHE_EXPORT encryption scheme, or using a key less-than-or-equal to 1024 bits.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

  • Finance

    • Europe faces second revolt as Portugal’s ascendant Socialists spurn austerity

      Europe faces the risk of a second revolt by Left-wing forces in the South after Portugal’s Socialist Party vowed to defy austerity demands from the country’s creditors and block any further sackings of public officials.

    • Fox News Omits Mention Of Dangerous Consequences Of Arizona GOP Welfare Restrictions

      But the measure will not only hurt those who need such programs most, it may also increase costs to the state in the long run. As Liz Schott, a welfare policy analyst, explained to the AP: “Long-term welfare recipients are often the most vulnerable, suffering from mental and physical disabilities, poor job histories and little education … But without welfare, they’ll likely show up in other ways that will cost taxpayers, from emergency rooms to shelters to the criminal justice system.”

    • Accountability? How Overseers Let Charters off the Hook; $3.3 Billion Spent (Part 4)

      Earlier in this special report series, CMD revealed how states that do not hold their charter schools and authorizers accountable have the upper hand when the U.S. Department of Education (ED) evaluates applications to the quarter-billion-dollar-a-year charter schools program. But if the review process is deeply flawed, the oversight of the $3.3 billion disbursed within the charter schools program is not much better.

    • Austerity and Neoliberalism in Greece

      Austerity is about shifting the burden of an economic crisis from one part of the population to another.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • President Obama Rolls Back Some Police Militarization… Police Flip Out

      We’ve had a bunch of stories lately about the increase in militarized police and what a ridiculous and dangerous idea it is. As we’ve discussed in the past, much of this came from the Defense Department and its 1033 program, which takes decommissioned military equipment and gives it to police. This results in bizarre situations like the LA School District police having a bunch of grenade launchers. The program is somewhat infamous for its lack of rules, transparency and oversight.

    • The 85-Year-Old Nun Who Went to Prison for Embarrassing the Feds Is Finally Free

      Sister Megan Rice, the 85-year-old activist nun who two years ago humiliated government officials by penetrating and vandalizing a supposedly ultra-high-security uranium storage facility, has finally been released from prison. A federal appeals court on Friday overturned the 2013 sabotage convictions of Rice and two fellow anti-nuclear activists, Michael Walli, 66, and Greg Boertje-Obed, 59, ruling that that their actions—breaking into Tennessee’s Y-12 National Security Complex and spreading blood on a uranium storage bunker—did not harm national security.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • EU’s ongoing attempt to kill Net Neutrality forever

      For more than two years hard negotiations have been conducted within European institutions regarding the regulation proposal on telecommunications, which now contains two main chapters, one on roaming and the other on Net Neutrality. In 2014, a lot of work was done by citizen organisations to ensure that the European Parliament would protect Net Neutrality and uphold the rights of citizens to access a non-discriminatory, guaranteed access to a neutral and transparent Internet networks.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • Popcorn Time Now Streams Movies To A Browser

        Popcorn Time has been called the Netflix for pirated movies, but it requires the installation of a desktop application. Not anymore. Now thanks to a site called Popcorn Time In Your Browser you’re just a couple of clicks away from watching a pirated movie stream.

        The in-browser app works much like the desktop version, remotely streaming torrent files from YTS through Coinado. Users do not need to install anything, and from what I can tell, the torrent files are never stored locally on the user’s machine. Just click on a title, wait a few seconds and bam, a pirated movie starts playing.

      • Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood Insists His Emails With The MPAA Are Super Secret

        Last we had checked in on the ongoing legal wrangling between Google and Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, a court had ruled pretty strongly against Hood, accusing him of acting in “bad faith,” for “the purpose of harassing” Google in violation of its First Amendment rights. Checking back in on the case to see what’s been going on, it appears that things have continued to get more and more heated. A little while after that ruling slamming Hood, Wingate ordered Hood to provide a bunch of information to Google as part of the discovery process for the case — including, bizarrely, responses to Techdirt’s FOIA request, which we had declined to continue after Hood’s office demanded over $2,000 and made it clear that they still likely wouldn’t give us anything.


The PATENT Act, Distraction of Trolls, and Lobbying for Software Patents by Protectionists

Posted in Patents at 6:56 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Scientists need not apply


Summary: Only large corporations and their lawyers are able to formally change the US patent system through public officials and politicians, despite recent rulings from very high courts

THE PATENT Act may be better than nothing, but it is nowhere near a solution to the patent mess that even Chinese actors complain about. In a very recent article at IDG Robert X. Cringely called it a “sick, sluggish U.S. patent system”. See the article “Even Uncle Sam admits: US patent law is whack”. It says that the “US Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is calling on the Patent and Trademark Office (PTO) to overhaul its rules on licensing intellectual property.” Well, it is Bloomberg (front of Wall Street) that celebrates monopolies, not developers or scientists. It’s all about big business now. It’s about occupation of the industry, not creation or expansion. The Economist has this interesting article which says “Patent records reveal that the way inventions are made has changed over the years” (growing in terms of number by making rules more lenient). Here is an interesting part about a notorious patentor: “Invention can come about in two ways. Thomas Edison’s light bulb, for example, was not so much the product of a metaphorical light-bulb moment of discovery as of the bringing together of pre-existing components—an electricity supply, a heated filament, a vacuum and a glass envelope. None of these things was novel in the 1870s, but in Edison’s hands the combination became a patentable invention. In contrast, William Shockley’s transistor, invented 70 years later, involved a lot of new physics that Shockley and his colleagues had to work out for themselves. Both devices changed the world, though (Shockley’s was the foundation on which IT was built). And together they exemplify the two sorts of novelty that exist, in differing proportions, in any successful invention: discovery and recombination.”

A lot of large corporations are battling small ones and they are artificially elevating prices using software patents. It’s an attack on any emergent entity and it slows down science and technology for the sake of profit (of few large entities alone). See this new article titled “Is Big Business a Bigger Problem Than Patent Trolls?” To quote one of the opening sentences: “It’s easy to point fingers at so-called patent trolls for problems with the U.S. patent system, but corporations might be posing the biggest threat to innovation.”

A large entities-funded Web site which serves to shift focus to trolls (under the misleading guise of “Patent Progress”) wrote this: “Mark Lemley and Robin Feldman have just put out a new paper that shows something many of us suspected: patent licenses tend to be for the freedom to operate, not for technology transfer. That is, in their survey, they found that the overwhelming majority of the time, companies took licenses in order to settle an infringement claim for technology they’d developed independently; they generally did not take licenses in order to be able to develop new products.”

This aligns very well with corporations’ lobbying because it serves to distract from much bigger issues. What this site calls “Real Patent Reform” is not the “Patent Reform” that would actually fix the problems in one fell swoop, it would just empower large corporations even more. Watch this three-part series [1, 2, 3] about a mirage of a ‘reform’. It is clear that the goal there is not to solve the big issues but instead to shift attention to bogus ‘reforms’. It’s about protecting the likes of Apple from lawsuits such as this new one [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10], not about tackling the patents themselves. The US is reportedly going as far as allowing patents on brain processes [1, 2, 3, 4], but no politicians speak about limiting patent scope as part of the overall solution. How come? Are they just couriers or spokes(wo)men for large corporations? Are too many blogs that cover these issue written by lawyers of large corporations or lobby groups that are funded by large corporations? It’s probably a bit of both. It is even complementary because if sites serve to inform (or misinform) politicians and decision-makers, then this whole situation is cyclic. It is an echo chamber.

A Red Hat-run site recently commented on the Supreme Court’s impact on need for reform, stating: “The thrust of the HJC hearing was pretty clear: Congress needs to act. And while the Supreme Court has taken some steps, it is not a substitute for legislative actions focused on the fundamental issues in the system that abusive patent litigants use to game the system.

“As Sen. John Cornyn—a key member of the Senate Judiciary Committee and one of the key advocate for reforms that failed to reach the Senate floor last May—put in a speech at the end of January, the Supreme Court’s actions around the standards for fee shifting and the modified pleading requirements introduced by the Judicial Conference are welcome, but essentially “marginal changes.””

“A lot of large corporations are battling small ones and artificially elevating prices using software patents.”This latter observation is important because it reminds us that there is already a way to restrict patents (scope of patenting), even without a bill in Congress. Therein lies the real solution and it is scaring a lot of patent lawyers whose biggest clients are very large corporations.

TechDirt recently aired a show titled “How The Patent System Can Be Fixed” and in it there was a “patent attorney [called] Hersh Reddy [who] helped us navigate the many ways in which the patent system is broken.”

They are not focusing on trolls. “Lawyers who know their way around a software patent,” wrote The Register in a recent article, “the blokes who supply those 1s and 0s in the bulk so vital for programming, coffee shops up to date with the latest weird milk for that latte (have they got to badger or vole yet?).”

Actually, these lawyers rarely even understand computers, they are just good with trickery, they are skilled enough at English, and they know how to sneak patents past a system that at least attempts — however loosely — to control their quality. “Drafting Software Patents In A Post-Alice World” is a recent headline from a patent lawyers’ Web site. It gives tips on dodging the rules. “It has been a challenging year for software patent owners,” it says, “following the Supreme Court’s decision in Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank International. Since that ruling was handed down, a large number of software patents have been invalidated in the Federal Circuit and in district courts. So what should IP owners do if they are seeking to file a patent in today’s legal environment? Attorneys Seth Northrop and Sam Walling discuss the current state of affairs and offer some useful advice.”

What they mean to say is that they want to dodge the rules. Here is the previous Commissioner for Patents at the USPTO (apropos, Patent Commissioner Peggy Focarino is retiring now) writing for a pro-patents site, providing an opinion in yet another patent lawyers’ site (echo chamber), trying to highlight ways to dodge the rules and successfully patent software in spite of Alice Corp. v. CLS Bank.

The EFF is clearly upset, but it hardly scolds/scoffs at all this. It merely asked a few weeks ago: =”Why Does The US Patent Office Keep Approving Clearly Ridiculous Patents?”

The original article is here (by Daniel Nazer) and it says: “Imagine you’re on your way to deliver a case of beer to a party. Before you get there, your boss sends you a text: They want 2 cases now. You read the text while driving (don’t do that), so you deliver an extra case when you arrive. Having successfully completed that task, you leave for your next delivery.”

Well, that’s a patent, sort of. Provided it’s encoded in software. That’s how bad things have become in the USPTO. The EFF has been somewhat of a mixed bag as of late. Julie Samuels (EFF) promotes the PATENT Act, despite its inherent flaws and suppositions (that trolls alone are the core issue). The PATENT Act is also promoted by Adi Kamdar (EFF) right here. To quote: “The PATENT Act fixes this by requiring patent owners to supply certain specific information when filing suit: which patents and claims are being infringed, what product is infringing, and how. If such information isn’t accessible, the patent owner must state why.”

Nothing is being done to actually limit patent granting or create new rules (not precedence) regarding patent scope. Then there is this return to the term “bad patents”, yet again, courtesy of Daniel Nazer (EFF). Writing about patents and especially software patents has become increasingly depressing because the corporate media is only willing to blame ‘trolls’ right now. Lobbyists of large corporations (like Microsoft or Apple) would rather name companies that feed patent trolls, omitting names of companies that these lobbyists represent or work for. The EFF plays along with this, so who is left to fight the good fight? The FFII is mostly defunct now.

“This week,” writes the EFF, “together with Public Knowledge and Engine, EFF submitted written comments to the Patent Office regarding its Patent Quality Initiative.” When they talk about quality they don’t quite talk about scope and the EFF is preoccupied with patent trolls these days, especially when it puts so much effort into the PATENT Act. Everyone talks about it, even in Canada and on television in the US (e.g. John Oliver at HBO, who still receives flak from patent lawyers and opportunists such as Mintz Levin Cohn, Ferris Glovsky, and Popeo PC [1, 2]).

The patent lawyers are still working hard to ensure they can patent everything under the sun [1, 2, 3, 4] and patent academics like Dennis Crouch provide some tips. One of these so-called ‘professionals’ goes as far as suggesting that people register copyrights even though they’re automatically in effect, without needing to be “registered”. Here is why: “CLS Bank International, which has created significant obstacles in patent protection for software. Numerous US patents covering software applications have been invalidated by the courts in recent months relying on the Alice decision.”

So this ‘genius’ now suggests “copyright registration” for software. USPTO is for trademarks and patents to be registered, copyrights do not need to be registered; that’s just the way they work, that’s their nature and that’s why they’re cheap to ‘acquire’ (no cost at all). These tips are just horribly misinformed then.

“Corporate Counsel”, another site for patent lawyers and the likes of them, published “Technology Patent Licensing Trends in 2015 and Beyond”, whereas another bunch of lawyers’ sites cited the Nautilus v. Biosig case [1, 2, 3] because it challenges a heart monitor patent [1, 2]. We generally found a lot of coverage about this in “legal” sites, but not in sites that are not run by lawyers, except in one case (corporate media coverage). Here is the gist about the same case: “The Federal Circuit considered the question of indefiniteness on remand from the Supreme Court’s reversal in Nautilus v. Biosig and, perhaps not surprisingly, found again that the Biosig’s claims were not indefinite.”

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (CAFC) is actually the most pro-software patents court in the US. One site asks, “Is Federal Circuit Really ‘Terrified’ of Reversals?”

As we demonstrated last year, there’s corruption in CAFC, which led to its head leaving. There are conflicts of interest. Corruption is in fact endemic in the US patents system and the court system, as this new report serves to show. To quote, the “US District Judge Leonard Davis said this week he’s going to leave the bench to join Fish & Richardson, a large law firm focused on intellectual property.

“Davis, who has presided in the Eastern District of Texas since 2002, has one of the most active patent dockets in the nation and has presided over some of the biggest technology lawsuits of the past decade. Corporate Counsel magazine reported this week that he has handled more than 1,700 individual IP cases as a judge. Before becoming a judge, he worked for 23 years in private practice.”

“Here again we see tips being given for getting around the rules.”We wrote about Fish & Richardson before and so did Patent Troll Tracker [1, 2, 3]. As a quick reminder, East Texas is like the capital of patent trolls and Texas media insists these days that “There’s no crisis in current patent law”. Texas Lawyer (capital not only of patent trolls but also stagnant in education amongst US states) wrote about the USPTO‘s new guidelines on software patentability, noting: “The recently revised USPTO guidelines for subject matter eligibility offer an effective summary of the case law post-Alice, and should be closely considered by any attorney representing patent owners.”

Here again we see tips being given for getting around the rules. It’s disregard or even mockery of the law. All the proponents of software patents are very much worried about fees and patent scope being restricted, due to changes in law. Some lawyers’ sites and law firms pursue change to law pertaining to design patents, hoping to latch onto the reform all sorts of expansions in terms of scope exceptions. To quote this one new article: “With all the patent reform legislation discussion going on, PARTS are not getting as much attention. Specifically, in February, members of the House and Senate each re-introduced the “Promoting Automotive Repair, Trade and Sales Act,” known as the “PARTS Act.” The House bill and the Senate bill are identical.” Here is what the PARTS Act is about: “The PARTS Act would amend 35 U.S.C. § 271 to provide an exception from design patent infringement for certain external component parts of automobiles, which include collision-related parts such as hoods, fenders, tail lights, and side mirrors.”

Here is the Washington Post, a front for large business interests, alluding to “design patents” as well. To quote part of the report: “Though design patents play a valuable role in the system that encourages innovation by inventors, they’ve also proven to be a rich source of meritless litigation.”

How does it promote innovation? That’s nonsense. “The patent system has been in focus all year,” says the article, “with the Senate last week announcing a bipartisan proposal to reform the system. Similar to legislation that passed the House last year, the Senate bill will be aimed at making life more difficult for abusive lawsuits by so-called patent trolls — companies that buy up dubious patents from inventors and use them to extract settlements from innovators and users rich and poor.”

The problem is not trolls, it’s broad patent scope that facilitates patent trolls. Bradley J. Hulbert, a lawyer, defended software patents the other day. In a pro-software patents site he wrote: “In following this mandate, the U.S. patent system should be implemented in a way to promote software innovation. In recent years, U.S. courts have developed a series of guidelines defining boundaries for patent eligibility. To the extent that such rules block patents from being issued too freely, they should be applauded as consistent with the Constitutional mandate. However, over the past decade, the U.S. Supreme Court’s decisions have presented a “moving target” of when software and other computer-implemented inventions are eligible for patent protection. This lack of clarity is reducing business incentives to develop software.”

This is complete nonsense. People don’t stop developing software just because they cannot patent algorithms. Since he wrote in the site of Gene Quinn, who works hard to undermine any reform that jeopardises broad patent scope, much of this should be expected.

One new article is titled “Does your mobile app need a patent?”

It is a loaded question and so is the part which says: “So you’ve got an app idea and want to protect it. Is a patent the right route to keeping it safe?” No, there are already copyrights. Besides, app developers need to worry about being sued over patent infringement, not about imitations. If one is entitled to a software patents, everyone else is too. It makes the environment unpleasant to work in. Besides patents there are already copyrights and failing that, there are trade secrets. Here is a major patent case being dropped, with the press release and press coverage saying that “CA had alleged that AppDynamics misappropriated trade secrets, among other things.”

Eventually they settled, so the only winners are the lawyers who make money from the two-year-old dispute. Sadly enough, it is those parasites that continue to dominate the debate (also in the media) over patents while many scientists remain apathetic or uninvolved. This ought to change.

Andy Updegrove recently related the subject of patents to Free/Open Source software development. He focused on patent pledges, noting: “For all its benefits, one aspect of open source software does cause headaches: understanding the legal terms that control its development and use. For starters, scores of licenses have been created that the Open Source Initiative recognizes as meeting the definition of an “open source license.” While the percentage of these licenses that are in wide use is small, there are significant and important differences between many of these popular licenses. Moreover, determining what rights are granted in some cases requires referring to what the community thinks they mean (rather than their actual text), and in others by the context in which the license is used.”

In a world where there are no software patents issues such as these would not emanate. For a lot of developers in many countries patents are not a factor in choosing a licence, but if they want to bring their software to the US, for example, then it starts to matter. The issue does not affect just Free/Open Source software but also proprietary software. It affects every software developer and to a lesser degree software users as well.

Where has the opposition to software patents gone?

Corporate Media and Friends of Microsoft Are Still Lying About the Cost of Vista 10

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Vista 10, Windows at 5:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

So Windows is “free”? People will believe it’s true if it’s repeated often enough.

“Just because something isn’t a lie does not mean that it isn’t deceptive. A liar knows that he is a liar, but one who speaks mere portions of truth in order to deceive is a craftsman of destruction.”
Criss Jami

“I’m not upset that you lied to me, I’m upset that from now on I can’t believe you.”
Friedrich Nietzsche

“If you tell the truth, you don’t have to remember anything.”
Mark Twain

“A truth that’s told with bad intent beats all the lies you can invent.”
William Blake

Summary: In a desperate effort to beat operating systems that are Free (libre) and free (gratis), such as GNU/Linux or Android, Microsoft shores up the illusion of ‘free’ (gratis) Windows

SINCE the very beginning of this year Microsoft has been lying about the cost of Vista 10, usually by proxy, by deceiving the press or working with the press to mislead the public.

The terms “free” and “Windows” (sometimes in conjunction) are still being floated in news headlines so as to mislead. Vista 10 is not free, it’s just “marketing”, as Microsoft itself says. Here is a new example which contradicts prior statements. The title says “Pirates will be able to upgrade to a pirated copy of Windows 10 for free,” despite prior refutations.

“Anything to keep them from upgrading to GNU/Linux,” wrote iophk, who alludes to old reports such as “If You’re Going To Steal Software, Steal From Us: Microsoft Exec” or even Bill Gates’ own statement which went like this: “And as long as they’re going to steal it, we want them to steal ours.”

Well, surely because GNU/Linux is more evil than “theft” [sic], at least to Microsoft.

Microsoft calling Vista 10 “10″ (there’s no number 9) makes as much sense as Canonical calling the next Ubuntu “17.10″ in order to make it seem or sound more futuristic (a year ahead of the rest). Vista 10 is not a new operating system, it is new branding with a new marketing strategy that includes false claims that it is “free” (because Vista 8 did so badly and people actively avoided it).

The Microsoft-occupied tabloid ZDNet pays lip service to Vista 10 in this new article about Vista 10. It quotes so-called ‘analysts’ from firms that Microsoft paid to advertise Vista (IDC for instance), including the Gartner Group, which said that Windows Vista would be great and is already lying about the cost Vista 10 (some Gartner staff comes from Microsoft.

Watch out and be careful of articles that claim Vista 10 to be “free”. It’s a misleading case of “marketing”, as Microsoft itself explained to its own shareholders/investors in its latest SEC filings. When Microsoft bribed authorities in Nigeria (to drop a GNU/Linux deal with Mandriva) its spokespeople called it “marketing help”, so we know what Microsoft means by “marketing”.

Links 19/5/2015: Linux 4.1 RC4, Thunderbird 31.7.0, OpenStack Event

Posted in News Roundup at 4:51 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source


  • Security

    • The Venom vulnerability: Little details bite back

      Frankly, the big objects are the easy part of security. But the tiny, insidious, and completely unforeseen vectors always seem to get us — like a tiny bit of code that was overlooked for years in OpenSSL or Bash, or to take the latest example, Venom (CVE-2015-3456), which is the hyped name given to the latest threat to virtualized infrastructures.

    • Security advisories for Monday
  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • US Officials Leak Info About ISIS Raid More Sensitive Than Anything Snowden Ever Leaked

      Over the weekend, the US government announced that special forces soldiers entered Syria to conduct a raid that killed an alleged leader of ISIS, Abu Sayyaf. In the process, anonymous US officials leaked classified information to the New York Times that’s much more sensitive than anything Edward Snowden ever revealed, and it serves as a prime example of the government’s hypocrisy when it comes to disclosures of secret information.

    • Saudi Arabia hiring eight new executioners as part of ‘unprecedented spike’ in killings

      Saudi Arabia is advertising for eight new executioners, in a recruitment drive which leading human rights charity Amnesty International has warned is symptomatic of an “unprecedented spike” of judicial killings in the country.

      An advert for the position, posted on the country’s civil service jobs website, states that no specific qualifications are required for the brutal role which involves “executing a judgement of death” and performing amputations on those convicted of less serious crimes.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

  • Finance

    • McConnell vows to pass trade bill

      Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Monday vowed to pass fast-track trade legislation before the Memorial Day recess, brushing aside calls for a prolonged floor debate on amendments.

      “I want to be very clear … the Senate will finish its work on trade this week, and we will remain in session as long as it takes to do so,” the Kentucky Republican said on the Senate floor.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • Establishment Journalists Pride Themselves on Staying on the Official Rails

      Why do establishment media watchers bristle at Hersh’s using anonymity for its intended purpose–protecting whistleblowers from retaliation–while expressing no problem with the routine use of unnamed sources to allow official spokespeople to make statements on behalf of their institutions with no accountability?

      When the nameless are speaking on behalf of power, they’re in line with the official narrative: They’re on the rails. When an anonymous source is challenging power, they call that narrative into question–and go off the rails.

      Despite all evidence to the contrary, the purveyors of Iraqi WMDs, the eternal predictors of imminent Iranian nukes, the drone apologists who insist every “military-aged male” is a militant are accorded a presumption of credibility. Whereas calling into question the official story provokes not just skepticism but hostility: It’s an affront, after all, to those journalists who have the restraint, decency and good taste to stay on the rails.

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • The European Commission Must Protect Fundamental Rights in the Digital Age

      The European Commission published on 6 May its strategy for 2020 and the setting up of the Digital Single Market. Several important digital issues are concerned by this agenda: from copyright to crime, from telecommunications to VAT harmonisation. While La Quadrature du Net welcomes the Commission’s engagement with these issues, it does this only with caution as previous attempts were harmful to the protection of fundamental rights.

    • Obama bans some military equipment sales to police

      President Obama has banned the sale of some kinds of military equipment to local law enforcement agencies, following widespread criticism of a paramilitary-like response to riots in a St. Louis suburb last August.

      In doing so, Obama put his stamp on the recommendations of a multi-agency federal working group that endorsed a ban on sales of some military equipment and providing more training, supervision and oversight of others.

    • Two hackers who committed suicide and no one still knows the real reason why

      Two of world’s most wanted hackers had committed suicide and no one still knows why. Aaron Swartz and Jonathan James, both hackers by profession and most wanted by the FBI have committed suicide in face of the federal investigation against their hacking crimes.

      Interested thing is both hackers were not connected to each other in any way but were being tried for hacking by the same department and the case was being overseen by the same Assistant United States Attorney Stephen Heymann. Could this have any hand in their suicides.

    • Farming unicorns

      As I write, the UK’s electioneering is in full swing and politicians of all shades are making opportunistic statements that may turn out to be signals of future policy. Notable among them was a statement by Culture Secretary Sajid Javid, who revealed that the Conservative Party would ensure under-18s were prevented from seeing adult content on the internet. He did not elaborate exactly how that would be done.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • “Making porn is fun”: The startling rise of DIY erotica

      Online pornography is a multibillion-dollar industry — 35 percent of all internet downloads are pornographic, and more than $3,000 is spent on internet porn every second. Every second! In the time it took you to read that sentence, $9,000 has been blown watching people get blown.

    • Baroness Shields to be made internet security minister

      Former Facebook Europe chief and Tech City guru to join the Government benches in the House of Lords

    • Internet.org Is Not Neutral, Not Secure, and Not the Internet

      Facebook’s Internet.org project, which offers people from developing countries free mobile access to selected websites, has been pitched as a philanthropic initiative to connect two thirds of the world who don’t yet have Internet access. We completely agree that the global digital divide should be closed. However, we question whether this is the right way to do it. As we and others have noted, there’s a real risk that the few websites that Facebook and its partners select for Internet.org (including, of course, Facebook itself) could end up becoming a ghetto for poor users instead of a stepping stone to the larger Internet.

    • Backlash Against Facebook’s Free Internet Service Grows

      On Monday, 65 advocacy organizations in 31 countries released an open letter to Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg protesting Internet.org—an effort to bring free internet service to the developing world—saying the project “violates the principles of net neutrality, threatening freedom of expression, equality of opportunity, security, privacy, and innovation.”

    • Zuckerberg’s Internet.org will control what billions do online

      The fake Internet will also restrict access to local service providers struggling to get a foothold online.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Google

      • European Mobile Networks Plan To Block Ads, Not For Your Safety, But To Mess With Google

        So things just keep getting stranger and stranger online. A bunch of mobile operators are apparently planning to start automatically blocking all mobile ads. Now, for those of you who hate ads online, this might seem like a good thing, but it is not. If you want to disable ads on your own, that should be your call. In fact, as we’ve noted before, we think people on the web have every right to install their own ad blockers, and we find it ridiculous when people argue that ad blocking is some form of “theft.”

      • KitKat rebranded as ‘YouTube Break’ as part of Nestlé and Google tie-up

        Nestlé is rebranding KitKats as “YouTube Break” for a limited run of 600,000 bars in the UK.

        The Google-branded chocolate bars are the first of a series of 100 million differently-branded biscuits that will be produced as part of a new Nestlé campaign.

    • Copyrights

      • Appellate judges side with Google over anti-Muslim film that sparked Mideast violence

        In a victory for free speech advocates, appellate judges have ruled that YouTube should not have forced to take down an anti-Muslim film that sparked violence in the Middle East and death threats to actors.

        The 11-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal sided with Google, which owns YouTube, in its ruling Monday saying the previous decision by a three-member panel of the same court gave “short shrift” to the First Amendment and constituted prior restraint — a prohibition on free speech before it takes place.

      • Pirate Bay Helps Puts Sweden on the Map, Govt. Agency Says

        According to a government agency responsible for promoting Sweden overseas, the country has several major brands to thank when it comes to being recognized on the world stage. In addition to car makers Volvo and furniture store IKEA, interest in Sweden has been boosted thanks to the notorious Pirate Bay. But the file-sharing fun doesn’t end there.


Links 18/5/2015: Russia Chooses Jolla, Many New Distro Releases, Meizu Devices

Posted in News Roundup at 1:01 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



Free Software/Open Source

  • Goodbye and Thanks

    After over seven years of publishing, this is the last column on the Open Enterprise blog. You can access all 1400 posts from the complete listing in reverse chronological order; if you want to start at the beginning you can use this page.) For my last post, I thought it might be interesting to pick out some of the key events that have taken place in open source and its related fields during that time. It’s pretty astonishing how much has happened, and how much has been achieved. As I said in one of my recent posts, free software has definitely won, but it’s certainly not finished. Thanks for sharing that amazing journey.

  • Events

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Google Expands Moat Around Extensions for the Chrome Browser

        A couple of years ago, Google declared war on extensions for the Chrome browser not hosted on the Chrome Web Store. As the Chromium blog made clear: “Many services bundle useful companion extensions, which causes Chrome to ask whether you want to install them (or not). However, bad actors have abused this mechanism, bypassing the prompt to silently install malicious extensions that override browser settings and alter the user experience in undesired ways, such as replacing the New Tab Page without approval.”

    • Mozilla

      • Developer Catchup: Rust 1.0 and Node reunification

        First up, Rust has reached version 1.0, though this is an announcement that was hardly unexpected. It has a lot to live up to given the Rust web site goes for such unloaded language as “blazingly fast, prevents nearly all segfaults, and guarantees thread safety”. The real test for Rust, at least for me, is how well Servo, Mozilla’s browser written in Rust and the application Rust was created with in mind. It seems this is the best possible test case, so…

      • Firefox 38.0.5 Beta 1 Brings Hello Improvements And Pocket Integration

        Recently, Firefox 38.0.5 Beta has been released, bringing a bunch of new features. While the first Beta version of Firefox 39 was expected, Mozilla has released a new Beta version for Firefox 38, which is unexpected and does not happen too often.

  • Funding

    • First Step

      On 27th April, 2015 with the announcement of selected students for GSoC 2015, my upcoming adventurous summer was set to begin.

  • BSD

    • DragonFlyBSD Now Supports Encrypted SWAP

      For DragonFlyBSD users out there, the swap device with the latest Git kernel can now be encrypted.

      It’s trivial with the newest DragonFlyBSD code as of this weekend to support an encrypted swap. The commit by DragonFlyBSD founder Matthew Dillon explains, “Implement crypting of the swap device. When enabled in this manner /dev/urandom is used to generate a 256-bit random key and the base device is automatically cryptsetup and mapped, making crypted swap trivial. Implement the ‘crypt’ fstab option, so swapon -a and swapoff -a work as expected for crypted swap. Again, the base device (e.g. /dev/da0s1b) should be specified. The option will automatically map it with cryptsetup and swap on the mapping.”

    • bsdtalk253 – George Neville-Neil

      An interview with George Neville-Neil about the recently published 2nd edition of The Design and Implementation of the FreeBSD Operating System.

    • PC-BSD 10.1.2 Brings New PersonaCrypt Utility

      PC-BSD 10.1.2 was released today as the latest quarterly update to the FreeBSD-derived operating system.


  • Public Services/Government

    • School: open source reduces PC troubleshooting

      Using open source in school greatly reduces the time needed to troubleshoot PCs, shows the case of the Colegio Agustinos de León (Augustinian College of León, Spain). In 2013, the school switched to using Ubuntu Linux for its desktop PCs in class rooms and offices. For teachers and staff, the amount of technical issues decreased by 63 per cent and in the school’s computer labs by 90 per cent, says Fernando Lanero, computer science teacher and head of the school’s IT department.

  • Openness/Sharing

  • Programming

    • Azul joins Eclipse Foundation and brings open source, multiplatform Java SE to developers and the IoT

      As a Solution-level member of the Eclipse Foundation, Azul will be actively participating in the Eclipse Foundation’s IoT working group. Azul’s latest open source offering, Zulu Embedded, provides developers and manufacturers in the embedded, mobile and Internet of Things (IoT) markets with a robust, flexible open source alternative to traditional embedded Java implementations. Zulu Embedded is particularly relevant to organisations that require customisable, multiplatform, reduced-footprint, and standards compliant Java SE runtimes and development solutions. Launched in March 2015, Zulu Embedded is already installed in over 2 million devices worldwide.


  • Dartmouth Park residents demand night-sky darkness be protected in the neighbourhood

    House-hunters scouting north London’s most rarefied streets once had a simple wish list for their perfect home: a south-facing garden, parking space for a 4×4, room to expand into the loft. Throw in a good school and a walk to Hampstead Heath.

    But residents in Dartmouth Park now have an extra demand: pitch blackness outside their bedroom walls when the sun goes down. In fact, conservation groups have become so worried about the “quality of darkness” in their area at night that they have asked for town planners to consider how it can be protected when new home improvement applications are sent to Camden Council.

    The Dartmouth Park Conservation Area Advisory Committee, a group of local residents and conservationists who examine all homeowner planning applications for work, insists that its neighbourhood is “semi-rural”, regardless of its inner London postcode, and that the night-sky darkness must be protected.

  • Science

    • Schools that ban mobile phones see better academic results

      It is a question that keeps some parents awake at night. Should children be allowed to take mobile phones to school? Now economists claim to have an answer. For parents who want to boost their children’s academic prospects, it is no.

      The effect of banning mobile phones from school premises adds up to the equivalent of an extra week’s schooling over a pupil’s academic year, according to research by Louis-Philippe Beland and Richard Murphy, published by the Centre for Economic Performance at the London School of Economics.

  • Security

    • Chris Roberts Denies He Hacked Planes, Made Them Climb From His Seat

      Did Chris Roberts hack a plane? Possibly. Did he hack a plane such that he could gain access to critical flight systems from the comfort of his seat, and possibly even alter the plane’s movement during the flight itself? Possibly.

      The entire affair came into the public eye when Roberts sent a now-famous tweet from a United Airlines flight on April 15: “Find myself on a 737/800, lets see Box-IFE-ICE-SATCOM, ? Shall we start playing with EICAS messages? “PASS OXYGEN ON” Anyone ? :)”

      The first response to that tweet—”…aaaaaand you’re in jail. :)”—didn’t quite happen, as Roberts has yet to be charged with a crime for his alleged security probing. According to Roberts, he never connected his laptop to any Seat Electronic Box (SEB) on that specific flight, the means by which he could probe the plane’s networks and, possibly, its control systems. FBI agents, noticing that the SEBs under the seats where Roberts had been sitting showed signs of tampering, didn’t seem to believe him.

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Navy whistleblower on the run after exposing alleged Trident safety failings

      The police and Royal Navy are hunting for a whistleblower who is on the run after publishing a dossier of alleged security failings on board Trident nuclear submarines.

      Able Seaman William McNeilly, 25, a newly qualified engineer, claimed that Britain’s nuclear deterrent was a “disaster waiting to happen” in a report detailing 30 alleged safety and security breaches.

      He wrote that a chronic manpower shortage meant that “it’s just a matter of time before we’re infiltrated by a psychopath or a terrorist; with this amount of people getting pushed through”.

      The Ministry of Defence has launched an investigation into the claims, published in a 19-page report titled The Secret Nuclear Threat, which it said contained a “number of subjective and unsubstantiated personal views … with which the Naval Service completely disagrees”.

    • US drone strike kills six ‘militants’ in Pakistan

      A security official said that the drone fired two missiles at a ‘hideout’.

      “Six militants were killed and two injured in the attack,” he said.

      The death toll is feared to rise as those injured in drone attacks seldom survive.

    • US Drone Strike Kills Five in North Waziristan

      Three of the five were reported to be ethnic Uzbeks, and Pakistani officials dubbed the house destroyed in the strike a “suspected Taliban compound.”


      The US claims to have a secret “understanding” with Pakistan on such drone strikes, something that was reached back during the Musharraf junta, but the Sharif government has denied any such deals.

    • Family of Hostage Killed in Drone Strike Want Hostage Czar
    • Family of U.S. captive killed by drone backs hostage czar idea
    • Family of US Captive Killed by Drone Backs Hostage Czar

      The family of an American captive killed in a drone strike said Wednesday it would welcome the creation of a hostage czar to coordinate government efforts to free those held.

      Rep. John Delaney, D-Md., introduced legislation last week to set up a “czar,” soon after President Barack Obama apologized for a drone strike in January that accidentally killed Warren Weinstein of Maryland and Giovanni Lo Porto, an Italian citizen. The strike targeted an al-Qaida compound along the Afghanistan-Pakistan border.

    • Lawmaker introduces hostage legislation after Maryland man is killed in drone strike

      Rep John Delaney has introduced legislation that he hopes would enable the government to better coordinate its efforts to rescue Americans captured overseas.

    • ACLU calls on Obama for probes, disclosure of drone strikes which kill civilians

      The American Civil Liberties Union, Amnesty International and several other human rights groups are asking President Obama to begin investigating all civilian deaths and injuries resulting from U.S. counterterrorism drone strikes and to make the results of those investigations public.

    • Human rights groups urge Obama to acknowledge civilian drone strike deaths

      Following President Obama’s acknowledgement that a US drone strike killed an Italian and US citizen held in Pakistan, and his announcement of an independent investigation into the strike, a group of human rights organisations have urged the President to do the same for other US drone strikes in which civilians were killed.

    • Human Rights Groups to Obama: Investigate All Civilian Victims of Drone Strikes

      In January, a barrage of American missiles struck a suspected Al Qaeda hideout in Pakistan. Unbeknownst to intelligence officials, however, American Warren Weinstein and Italian Giovanni Lo Porto, both kidnapped aid workers, were held hostage inside and died in the attack. Then three weeks ago, after a preliminary investigation, President Obama did something wholly unprecedented in his global war of “targeted killings”: he stepped up to a podium in the White House and apologized to Weinstein and Lo Porto’s families.

    • Yemen officials say some ground fighting after cease-fire

      There were reports of continued ground fighting in some areas, with security officials and witnesses saying fierce combat broke out about a half hour after the cease-fire began when rebels tried to storm the southern city of Dhale, firing tank shells, rockets and mortars. But no airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition battling the rebels were reported.

    • 17 Afghan Taliban militants killed in US drone strike

      At least 17 suspected Taliban members died in a US drone strike in eastern Afghanistan, sources from the police and NATO told Efe news agency on Tuesday.

    • Unknown Surveillance Drone crashes in Somalia, militants take wreckage

      Unknown drone has crashed in a remote area in South-Western Somalia as cause of the crash is still unclear, Horseed Media reports.

    • Suspected US drone crashes in Shabaab-held Somali town

      Locals in Somalia’s Burhakaba city told Anadolu Agency that the drone crashed in the nearby Bashir town earlier on Sunday.

    • Al-Shabaab claims control of US drone in Somalia

      The Al-Qaeda affiliate Al-Shabaab on Sunday said it has captured a drone which fell down in the Bay region of Somalia.

      The militants said they were in possession of the drone which they claimed belonged to the United States after it came down near El Bashir village.

    • Drone warfare

      But does his death put an end to terrorism? No. In fact, ever since America’s drone campaign reached Yemen, al-Qaeda’s presence in the Arabian Peninsula has intensified, which has sparked debate concerning the counter productivity of drone warfare. The Washington Post reported a doubling of AQAP core insurgents in Yemen since the first strike in 2009. Theorists argue the reason for the amplification of terrorism in drone-affected regions stems from exacerbated anti-Americanism, which each drone strike ultimately spurs on.

    • Don’t let armed drones ease the path to conflict, US bishops warn

      In a May 11 letter to U.S. National Security Advisor Susan Rice, the bishops said leaders should consider the “full cost” of drone warfare.

      “Drones provoke anxiety among populations where there are targets, inflicting psychological damage on innocent civilians who live in constant fear they may be hurt or killed and listed as ‘collateral damage.’ This fear and civilian casualties feed into increasing hostility towards the United States so that many say the use of armed drones in these targeted killings is counterproductive to establishing and sustaining longer-term security relationships with countries where drones are used,” they said.

      Armed drone technology has the potential for “much harm,” the bishops continued. More countries are acquiring drones and government spending on the technology is rapidly increasing.

      Armed drones may be used excessively due to their low initial costs, the bishops warned. This risks expanding conflict zones and increasing the likelihood for war. The use of surveillance drones by China, Japan and the Philippines have worsened tensions over disputed territories.

    • India is the world’s top importer of drones

      The decision by India’s National Disaster Response Force to use drones to help Nepal map the scale of devastation caused by last month’s earthquake indicates how India has enthusiastically taken to these pilot-less aircraft — the so-called eyes in the sky.

      With 22.5 per cent the world’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) imports, between 1985 and 2014, India ranks first among drone-importing nations, followed by United Kingdom and France. UAVs, or drones as they are commonly known, are pilotless aerial vehicles used for reconnaissance, surveillance, intelligence gathering and aerial combat missions.

    • India tops list of drone-importing nations

      With 22.5 percent the world’s unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) imports, between 1985 and 2014, India ranks first among drone-importing nations, followed by United Kingdom and France. UAVs, or drones as they are commonly known, are pilotless aerial vehicles used for reconnaissance, surveillance, intelligence gathering and aerial combat missions.

    • The Drone Apologists

      Rather than make vague and contradictory statements about the success of drone strikes in eliminating the jihadi threat, journalists should concentrate on the concrete damage drones are doing to both US security and rule of law. It is necessary and natural that a nation that opposes tyranny and advocates for the rule of law would examine the danger inherent in giving the president the power to determine life and death based on questionable intelligence. But the Post confirms without a hint of indignation that signature strikes “do not require a finding that the targets pose an imminent threat to the United States, though they must still involve a judgment of ‘near certainty’ that no civilians will be killed.” In the least US citizens should demand what “near certainty” means and to whom the term “civilian” applies. The slope becomes very slippery when the president labels those targeted and all military age males collaterally killed as terrorists. A 2014 analysis conducted by The Guardian found that 41 targeted drone assassinations had led to 1,147 deaths. Contrary to limiting the terrorist problem, these numbers would indicate that terrorist ranks might be filled with those seeking revenge against arbitrary US assault.

    • Your Call: What’s driving the Obama administration’s drone policy?
    • Warren Weinstein and the law are casualties of U.S. drone war (Commentary)

      Though U.S. media didn’t make much of it, Malala made a point of emphasizing that drone strikes fuel terrorism.

    • McCain: SASC Discussing Drone-Shift Language

      Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain says the panel will include language that would shift America’s armed drone program to the Pentagon, rather than leave the matter to the full chamber.


      “I think it should be conducted [with] oversight and administered by the Depart­ment of Defense. I don’t believe the drone program ought to be run out by the CIA,” McCain said, adding it “should be operated exclusively out of the Pentagon.”

    • Push on to transfer drone lead to Pentagon
    • Revealed: Britain has flown 301 Reaper drone missions against ISIS in Iraq, firing at least 102 missiles

      Britain’s Royal Air Force carried out 301 Reaper drone missions over Iraq between the start of UK operations against Isis last September and the end of March, firing a total of 102 Hellfire missiles on 87 separate occasions, according to new Ministry of Defence figures.

      The numbers were obtained by the Drone Wars UK organisation, which also reveals today that RAF Tornados carried out 115 strikes in Iraq during the same period.

    • Andrew Cockburn: How our drone policy backfires

      How could this be? How could the loss of capable and charismatic leaders not degrade their group? The answer may lie in a little-known study carried out in Iraq in 2007 by a small semisecret unit, the Combat Operations Intelligence Center. Targeting “high value individuals” was the principal U.S. strategy in Iraq, and the COIC analysts were interested to see whether it worked. They took the list of 200 “IED cell leaders” eliminated between June and October 2007 and looked at the results.

    • Fighting rages on in Yemen, killing 10, as humanitarian ceasefire draws to an end

      At least 10 people were killed in overnight battles between Houthis and militiamen in the Yemeni city of Taiz, residents and medical sources said on Sunday.

    • UN envoy urges extension of Yemen humanitarian truce
    • UN Yemen envoy calls for truce to be extended for 5 days

      The United Nations envoy to Yemen, Ismail Ould Cheikh Ahmed, called on a Saudi-led military coalition and the country’s warring parties to extend by five more days a ceasefire set to expire on Sunday evening.

    • 1 dead, 21 hurt as plane carrying Marines crashes in Hawaii

      HONOLULU (AP) – Smoke and fire rushed from a crash site in Hawaii after a U.S. Marine Osprey went down in a “hard landing,” killing one Marine and injuring 21 other people, some critically.

    • Deadly gun battle deepens Macedonian crisis; 22 killed

      Macedonia said on Sunday its police had wiped out a group of ethnic Albanian veterans of insurgencies in ex-Yugoslavia in a day-long gun battle that left at least 22 dead and deepened fears of instability following months of political crisis.

    • ISIS buys arms, ammo from US-supported rebels – investigative journalist

      The Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) is an enigma: most of what we know about it comes from the brutal media apparatus of the IS itself. It lets everyone see executions and war the terrorists are waging – but still, how does life go under jihadist rule? One man decided to find out for himself, spending 10 days in the ‘capital city’ of the IS and coming back alive. Today, investigative journalist Jürgen Todenhöfer tells his story to Sophie Shevardnadze.

    • Sudan unsure where downed drone came from

      Army says it shot down a reconnaissance aircraft after residents report hearing explosions near military site

    • Israel has ‘no knowledge’ of drone shot down in Sudan

      Arab media has cited the Sudanese army as saying it shot down an Israeli drone in the Valley of the Prophet whilst Israel claimed it had no knowledge of such an incident.

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Recharge pools could help quench future California droughts

      THE worst recorded drought in California’s history has forced state regulators to restrict people’s water use by a quarter. In the long-run, though, climate change and limited supply mean the state must radically change the way it manages water, particularly below ground.

  • Finance

    • McConnell: Senate to pass fast-track soon

      Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said Sunday that the Senate would pass legislation aimed at facilitating pending trade agreements being sought by the Obama administration.

    • Paul Ryan: Fast-track ‘gaining steam’

      Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) said Sunday that an effort to give President Obama the ability to fast-track trade deals his administration is currently negotiating is moving along.

      “We will have the votes. We’re doing very well. We’re gaining a lot of steam and momentum,” Ryan said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

    • Senate Reverses Course and Advances TPP Fast Track Bill

      The U.S. Senate advanced the Fast Track bill today in a rushed vote following a slew of concessions made to swing Democrats who had voted to block it earlier this week. The setback on Tuesday could have forced proponents of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), and other secretive, anti-user trade agreements to go back to the drawing board to come up with a new bill. Unfortunately, Senate leaders were able to get around this impasse within 48 hours by agreeing to let Democrats vote on some other trade-enforcement measures first before holding the vote on Fast Track.


      CEO Obama rules Plutocracy through fear, intimidation and secrecy.

  • Privacy

    • The Democratization of Cyberattack

      When I was working with the Guardian on the Snowden documents, the one top-secret program the NSA desperately did not want us to expose was QUANTUM. This is the NSA’s program for what is called packet injection–basically, a technology that allows the agency to hack into computers.

    • How we sold our souls – and more – to the internet giants

      From TVs that listen in on us to a doll that records your child’s questions, data collection has become both dangerously intrusive and highly profitable. Is it time for governments to act to curb online surveillance?

    • Use privacy software if you want to be safe from Facebook, warns watchdog

      A Belgian watchdog has urged all Internet users to download privacy software specifically to shield themselves from Facebook’s grasp.

      The social network has been under fire for the ways in which it tracks user and non-user behaviour online, without consent, most recently becoming the target of a Europe-wide lawsuit headed up by activist Max Schrems.

    • UK government quietly rewrites hacking laws to give GCHQ immunity

      The UK government has quietly passed new legislation that exempts GCHQ, police, and other intelligence officers from prosecution for hacking into computers and mobile phones.

      While major or controversial legislative changes usually go through normal parliamentary process (i.e. democratic debate) before being passed into law, in this case an amendment to the Computer Misuse Act was snuck in under the radar as secondary legislation. According to Privacy International, “It appears no regulators, commissioners responsible for overseeing the intelligence agencies, the Information Commissioner’s Office, industry, NGOs or the public were notified or consulted about the proposed legislative changes… There was no public debate.”

      Privacy International also suggests that the change to the law was in direct response to a complaint that it filed last year. In May 2014, Privacy International and seven communications providers filed a complaint with the UK Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT), asserting that GCHQ’s hacking activities were unlawful under the Computer Misuse Act.

  • Civil Rights

    • Pop-Tart gun bill set for Nevada Senate vote next week

      Students could bring a small toy gun to school, point their finger like a gun or — yes — even brandish “a partially consumed pastry or other food item to simulate a firearm” under a bill that has two steps to go before becoming law in Nevada.

    • Former Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi sentenced to death

      An Egyptian court on Saturday sentenced former President Mohammed Morsi and 120 others to death for a mass prison break in 2011 that saw Hosni Mubarak, who was president at that time, being ousted from power. Most of the others accused in the case were tried in absentia. The next hearing of the case was set for June 2, with Judge Shaaban el-Shami’s decision being referred to the country’s Grand Mufti for a non-binding opinion. Morsi, the first democratically elected President of the country, was removed from power by General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi in July 2013.

    • Jerusalem Day March to Pass Through Muslim Quarter

      The Israeli Supreme Court ruled that an annual march to celebrate the reunification of Jerusalem, scheduled for May 17, can proceed as planned despite fears of anti-Arab violence. At the same time, the justices said the police must arrest and indict anyone who shouts racist slogans. Two dovish Israeli organizations had petitioned the court, asking them to change the route of the march, which celebrates Israel’s “reunification” and annexation of east Jerusalem in 1967. In past years there has been nationalistic violence and most Palestinians are forced to close their shops and stay inside their homes. Last year, clashes broke out when masked Palestinian youths attacked police officers with stones and then barricaded themselves inside the al-Aqsa mosque. Israel says that east Jerusalem is part of its united capital, while Palestinians say that east Jerusalem must be the future capital of a Palestinian state.

    • Will Israel Charge Soldiers In Gaza Civilian Deaths?

      By the end of July during last summer’s war in the Gaza Strip, more than 3,000 Palestinians crowded into a United Nations-run elementary school in Jabaliya, a northern Gaza town. They had moved there for temporary shelter after the Israeli military warned them to leave their homes.

      An hour before dawn on July 30, explosions shook the classrooms and the courtyard, all packed with people.

      Mahmoud Jaser was camped outside with his sons.

      “We were sleeping when the attack started. As we woke up, it got worse,” he said.

      Shrapnel hit Jaser in the back. Three of his sons were also hurt. About 100 people were injured overall. Almost 20 were killed.

    • US admits must ‘do better’ on police practices

      The United States acknowledged before the UN Monday that it has not done enough to uphold civil rights laws, following a string of recent killings of unarmed black men by police.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • China, Russia Seek New Internet World Order

      China and Russia have made little attempt to hide their geopolitical ambitions. Militarily, each has asserted a right to terrain not recognized as theirs. Economically, the two have designs on gaining a greater foothold in the world marketplace, Western roadblocks be damned.

      And while an unprecedented pact not to deploy network hackers against each other may prove largely symbolic, it’s yet another glaring sign of the two countries’ shared desire to shake up a world order largely dominated by the U.S. since the end of World War II.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Copyrights

      • MPAA Complained So We Seized Your Funds, PayPal Says

        Developers considering adding a torrent search engine to their portfolio should proceed with caution, especially if they value their income streams. Following a complaint from the MPAA one developer is now facing a six month wait for PayPal to unfreeze thousands in funds, the vast majority related to other projects.

      • RIAA Cuts More Jobs, Awards Bonuses to Execs

        The RIAA continues to reduce its workforce, which has been slashed in half in just five years. According to the organization’s latest tax return the RIAA now employs 55 people. The group’s top three executives account for a quarter of all salaries paid, including several sizable bonuses.

Even Converting an Image to Greyscale is Now a Patent

Posted in Patents at 8:25 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Simple mathematics becoming patented as Fujifilm claims ‘ownership’ of photographic conversion to greyscale

IN my field of expertise (research profession), which is computer graphics/vision (fundamentally a lot of matrix maths), there has been a big growth in the number of patents. These are all software patents and they are typically filed in the US because the USPTO is far too permissive. This makes it virtually impossible or at least very risky to bring software to the US; almost everything in a computer program these days can be considered patent infringement and if not, then you may be forced to prove this at a court of law, at your own expense. It harms the ability to distribute software (at zero cost), not just develop software. It is a huge impediment to research and development. This only protects monopolies and giant multinationals. It makes them untouchable.

An article published the other day by a Microsoft-friendly programming-oriented site showed that even converting an image to greyscale is now a patent trap. “There are so many instances where software patents are clearly stupid,” said the author, “but this one has to be seen to be believed. As long as you see it in color there should be no patent problems.”

The author correctly pointed out that: “Those skilled in the art almost certainly knew how to convert an RGB image into greyscale long before the patent.”

This means that such a patent should never have been granted in the first place. This system is just corrupt, defunct, or striving to maximise profit rather than serve the public.

It is worth also seeing the new article titled “The strange things you need to do to file patents in the US”. The sad thing is that the EPO seems to be assimilating (attaching itself) to the USPTO over time, so computer scientists everywhere must fight back. If everything can be deemed illegal, everyone is a criminal. If every creation is “infringing”, then those in power have the ability to remove anything on a whim. Patents have become a gross extension of protectionism instrumentation.

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