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03.24.16

Patent Maximalism (Overpatenting) Tackled in New Article by Professor Noah Smith

Posted in America, IBM, Patents at 10:41 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Excessive patenting, or the approach towards 10 million patents in the US alone, shows that patent quality and scope have been totally forgotten because of the industry which profits from them while producing nothing

IBM’s patent chief, who is still promoting software patents in the US and overseas (specifically India nowadays), feels upset by/about this new article which basically says the truth about IBM’s ‘safety net’ strategy, which is suing far smaller rivals using software patents — a rather shameful act. To quote the article, authored by Noah Smith (assistant professor of finance at Stony Brook University):

Secrecy is the bane of science, since all really great breakthroughs are actually a chain of small discoveries. Each scientist or team of scientists eagerly reads the latest results from other labs and adds some small but brilliant insights or critical pieces of data, then releases the new finding as quickly as possible for the rest of the scientific community to gobble up. But if billion-dollar patents are at stake, universities — which end up owning much of the intellectual property that comes out of professors’ discoveries — have a strong incentive to pressure their scholars to keep new findings and ideas under wraps.

In other words, the intellectual property system threatens to return science to the dark ages of Newton and Leibniz.

This is only the latest concern over the intellectual property system. Economists have been warning for some time that IP laws, intended to foster new discoveries, might end up doing the opposite. Many industry observers believe that patents are holding back innovation in the technology industry. There is even some evidence that the rise of IP might have exacerbated inequality. Worries over the extension of IP laws in the international arena constitute the most valid and important criticism of the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal.

Smith rightly says that there’s “even some evidence that the rise of IP might have exacerbated inequality.” Consider India.

Software Patents in India

Sharad Sharma wrote this article about software patents in India (eerily similar to what was found in the media last week). Titled “Hope for IT innovation, not litigation,” the article says:

One of the persistent threats to India’s software product ecosystem is from the constant push by MNCs for allowing software patents in India.

India’s nascent software product industry is growing rapidly and is on a trajectory where we can see global brands like Amazon, Google and Facebook emerge in the next 10 years.

One of the persistent threats to India’s software product ecosystem is from the constant push by MNCs for allowing software patents in India.

IBM’s shameless lobbying for software patents in India ought to be recalled. It’s all about domination and control (or a form of subjugation by limits on thinking), not innovation.

Patents do have a place in several domains, but software isn’t one of them. Software is already covered sufficiently well by copyright law (or copyleft).

Their Masters’ Voice (Who Block Techrights): FFPE-EPO Openly Discourages Members From Reading Techrights

Posted in Europe, Patents at 10:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

So much for free speech or free thinking (access to information)…

FFPE-EPO reply
“PS: Don’t read to [sic] much Techrights”

FFPE-EPOSummary: Staff of the European Patent Office (EPO) continues to speak about the horrible deal that FFPE-EPO signed with the management, serving to divide and further punish SUEPO, which represents nearly half of all staff

THE FFPE-EPO folks aren’t quite being ignored, partly due to their own recent actions. Their current leader only has a few weeks left in his role and sources tell us that quite a few FFPE-EPO members recently left in protest. The only allies they’ve made seem to be from upper management. To list some of this month’s articles about FFPE-EPO again:

  1. In the EPO’s Official Photo Op, “Only One of the Faces is Actually FFPE-EPO”
  2. Further Evidence Suggests and Shows Stronger Evidence That Team Battistelli Uses FFPE-EPO as ‘Yellow Union’ Against SUEPO
  3. “FFPE-EPO Was Set up About 9 Years Ago With Management Encouragement”
  4. Fallout of the FFPE EPO MoU With Battistelli’s Circle
  5. The EPO’s Media Strategy at Work: Union Feuds and Group Fracturing
  6. Caricature of the Day: Recognising FFPE EPO
  7. Union Syndicale Federale Slams FFPE-EPO for Helping Abusive EPO Management by Signing a Malicious, Divisive Document
  8. FFPE-EPO Says MoU With Battistelli Will “Defend Employment Conditions” (Updated)

“Here is another document from the famous Yellow tinted EPO Union FFPE-EPO,” a reader told us, having shown us the above text, adding: “those fools commented on Techrights” (it says “Don’t read to [sic] much Techrights,” which is blocked anyway, by the same upper management that FFPE-EPO has just signed a terrible deal with).

Techrights was never an enemy of the EPO but an enemy of software patents.”“Thanks for all the work and support to the EPO staff,” told us the reader. “The staff is glad to have you around.”

Techrights was never an enemy of the EPO but an enemy of software patents. Huge difference. I even sent some letters to the EPO back in the old days, regarding software patents in particular.

Don’t let FFPE-EPO paint Techrights as an enemy. It’s a false narrative and the above wrongly characterises Techrights as “hate Intellectual Property rights”. Well, we never use the term “Intellectual Property”; we adequately distinguish between copyrights, trademarks and patents, and we specifically tackle software patents. FFPE-EPO probably hasn’t studied the site well enough before making that reckless comment.

“…the reply of the FFPE is rather hilarious, stating that there is only one difference between the accord cadre of the EU-commission and the MoU of the EPO.”
      –Anonymous
For the record, Techrights was not an enemy of FFPE-EPO. In fact, we supported them before the MoU, as anyone can see from our past articles, e.g. this one. One might say that FFPE-EPO foolishly (if not intentionally or even maliciously) defected. Here is a new comment which says: “the reply of the FFPE is rather hilarious, stating that there is only one difference between the accord cadre of the EU-commission and the MoU of the EPO.

“They tend to forget Article 9 of the “accord cadre”, which is about “Representativeness of the organisations”. The EPO-management could not have insisted on such an element, as otherwise they would’ve lost anything they could have shown and bragged about.

“Pity the unions start to bicker against each other. We’re all in the same boat, and shooting at each other will not help in our desire to get the EPO back on track, and the recognition of human rights.”

A reply to this comment stated: “The last page (page 16) is very informative. So, according to the EU “accord cadre”, SUEPO would be a recgnised representative organisation which has not yet signed, but would’ve gotten full access to rooms, union leave, and emails? FFPE-EPO would’ve been a recognised organisation at best and not eligible to sign.

“They are not making it easy to recognise them as professionals…”
      –Anonymous
“And FFPE-EPO sells the MoU as being the same as the EU commission accord cadre? (the only difference they acknowledge are the strike elements in the “accord cadre”)

“Really?

“They are not making it easy to recognise them as professionals…

“Anyway, this bashing against each other must stop.”

SUEPO has hardly made any comments that bash FFPE-EPO; it just criticised the MoU, and rightly so. It serves as a covert attack on SUEPO, as EPO management now uses it as ammunition against SUEPO and the dismissed staff representatives.

Links 24/3/2016: GNOME 3.20, Tomb Raider Arriving On GNU/Linux

Posted in News Roundup at 9:04 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • 10 Facts About Open Source You Need to Know

    It seems open source solutions are everywhere you look these days, and the promise of easily accessible and public code has become an attractive prospect to both individual developers and big companies like Microsoft (MSFT). You may consider yourself a GNU/Linux expert, but here are some facts you probably didn’t know about the world of open source.

  • Polish think tank considers making DMS open source

    A document management system developed by COI, a government IT think tank, can be made available under an open source licence, the organisation says. “We are ready to implement this model”, a COI spokesperson said in an email.

  • 5 tips every open source project manager should consider

    In a 2013 survey, 11% of contributors to free and open source software identified as women. But perhaps the future looks brighter? We can answer this question by examining the participation of women in Google Summer of Code, a program that provides a stipend for post-secondary school students to contribute to open source software for a summer. From 2011 to 2015, the program consisted of about 7-10% female participants. This is an extremely low percentage and does not bode well for the future of diversity in open source.

  • Inside AT&T’s open source, software-defined transformation

    Open source technologies like OpenStack are playing a very important role in this transformation. AT&T is working with open source project like OPNFV, OpenDaylight, Open Contrail, ON.Lab, the Open Container Initiative, Cloud Native Computing Foundation, Open Compute Project and many others.

  • AT&T SDN and NFV moves progress with focus, support

    AT&T is often referenced as the gold standard among domestic carriers as well as one of the global leaders in terms of its dedication towards virtualization. AT&T in late 2014 announced plans to control 75% of its network resources using virtualization technologies by 2020, and that at the end of 2015 the carrier had reached 5.7% control, which was ahead of its 5% target.

  • R.I.P. Vendors: Can Open Source Fundamentally Change the Way Third Parties Operate?

    The rise of financial firms’ adoption of open source could force vendors to make an adjustment.

  • Events

    • Containers Microconference Accepted into 2016 Linux Plumbers Conference

      The level of Containers excitement has increased even further this year, with much interplay between Docker, Kubernetes, Rkt, CoreOS, Mesos, LXC, LXD, OpenVZ, systemd, and much else besides. This excitement has led to some interesting new use cases, including even the use of containers on Android.

      Some of these use cases in turn require some interesting new changes to the Linux plumbing, including mounts in unprivileged containers, improvements to cgroups resource management, ever-present security concerns, and interoperability between various sets of tools.

    • ONS and the Challenge of Open Networking

      At the Open Networking Summit (ONS) this week, vendors big and small are talking about the success and direction of the open networking movement, including Software Defined Networking (SDN), Network Functions Virtualization (NFV), and whitebox hardware. There’s much reason for optimism, but there are a number of key challenges, too.

    • Free as in … ? My LibrePlanet 2016 talk
    • 30% off O’Reilly’s Open Source Convention in Austin, May 16-19
  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

    • Mozilla

      • Exempi 2.3.0 and Rust…

        Also I have now released my first Rust crate, that provide a Rust API to Exempi: exempi-rs. Short of rewriting the whole parsing in Rust for safety — the core of Exempi is Adobe official XMP SDK written in C++ —, this will do.

      • Mozilla Looks to Internet of Things as New Frontier

        Mozilla has announced that the Internet of Things (IoT) will be the next big opportunity for its open source software platform. “The Internet of Things is changing the world around us, with new use cases, experiences and technologies emerging every day,” wrote officials in a post. “As we continue to experiment in this space, we wanted to take a moment to share more details around our approach, process and current projects we’re testing.”

        Mozilla’s Senior Vice President for Connected Devices, Ari Jaaski, announced that the open source firm wants to “develop, test and evaluate” four IoT software projects. They include Project Link, Project Sensor Web, Project Smart Home and Project Vaani.

  • SaaS/Big Data

  • Databases

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

    • Nantes Métropole completes switch to LibreOffice

      In April, Nantes Métropole, France’s 6th largest city, will complete its transition to LibreOffice, a free and open source suite of office productivity tools. The city has budgeted EUR 200,000 for bug fixes and new features, specifying that all improvements are to be submitted for inclusion in the LibreOffice project.

    • Document Freedom Day Phnom Penh

      As one of the points we had to revive the Phnom Penh Linux User Group again, was to really do activities on Software-, Hardware- and Document Freedom Day and coming to a regularly meeting, which we have now each first Tuesday in the month at the iCafe. As it is the time for Document Freedom Day (DFD) we will have at our next meeting of course, a topic that fits to it. I will be showing how easily it can be done to use Inkscape for presentation slides, to bring the people to use this instead of flash, pdf or more evil prezi.

    • Why I Wrote “Designing with LibreOffice”

      Usually, I write about the news, not make it. Today, though, I am making a small exception. Today, I am releasing my new book, “Designing with LibreOffice,” under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, with a free download and a for-sale trade paperback.

      Why bother, when LibreOffice already has some of the best documentation in free software?

  • CMS

    • How Georgia prioritizes enhancements for their Drupal 7 platform

      Nearly five years ago, my team at GeorgiaGov Interactive began a journey to migrate our enterprise web platform (hosting over 50 state agency websites at the time) away from a self-hosted model with a proprietary content management system to Drupal 7 and a cloud hosted environment. We were the first state to make such a bold shift, but we weren’t the last.

    • Acquia funds community development of Drupal modules

      Boston-based open source company Acquia has announced that it will provide US$500,000 to the community around the content management system Drupal, in order to help in the development of modules that add additional functionality.

      Drupal is free software developed originally by Belgian Dries Buytaert (seen above) and released under the GNU General Public Licence. The Acquia move has been prompted by the rapid take-up of version 8 of Drupal and the funding will go towards modules for this version.

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

    • ProjectCenter debugger changes (now even on windows!)

      GNUstep’s ProjectCenter debugger module – something which was initiated by Greg and has always been quite experimental and unfinished – was based on running GDB via a virtual terminal by using openpty(). Sadly openpty() is not very portable and also.

  • Public Services/Government

    • ‘Publicly funded software should be free’

      Europe’s two main free software advocacy groups, April and the FSFE, argue that software specifically developed for or by the public sector should be made available as free software. The two NGO’s will continue to push Europe’s public administrations to increase the use of free and open source software.

  • Openness/Sharing

    • UK waste standards pilot shares APIs and manuals

      A one year pilot project on standards for waste management services in the UK’s local authorities is making available its code and documentation under an open source software licence. The project has delivered its final business case report this month, estimating that waste data standards could drive millions of savings for local authorities.

    • Vox Media, ICFJ Knight event ‘Steal My Tool’ featured eight open source tools for you to loot

      Ryan Nagle, lead developer at the Institute for Nonprofit News (INN), presented on tools he and INN staffers build to help other nonprofit news organizations. During the session, he previewed tools INN uses during the development process. You can view the code for these tools here, including the Largo project – a framework for building WordPress sites for nonprofit news organizations – as well as tons of WordPress plugins for creating roundup newsletters, quizzes, deployment tools and more.

    • Genetic Testing Company Wants To End ‘Data Hoarding’, Spends $20 Million To Put 10,000 Genomes In The Public Domain

      As the New York Times article points out, 10,000 exomes — essentially, the 1% of the genome that contains the instructions for building the body’s proteins — is not a huge number, but Ambry Genetics hopes to add data from as many as 200,000 customers a year to the database. So far it has spent $20 million on the project. In part, it has been able to bear that cost because of the key Supreme Court decision which struck down Myriad Genetics’ patents on genetic testing. That cleared the way for other companies to make money by offering the tests — including Ambry Genetics.

    • Open Hardware

  • Programming

Leftovers

  • Hardware

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • Islamic State Bragged That Its Attacks Would Help Break Up the European Union

      A newsletter circulated after Islamic State’s November massacre in Paris sheds light on what the group believes yesterday’s deadly attack in Brussels will accomplish, including weakening unity on the continent and exhausting European states economically.

    • Brussels Bombings Destroy Fiction That All Terrorism Deaths Count as Equal

      When a series of bombs went off at the Brussels airport and in a subway station yesterday, killing 31 people and injuring more than 200, the reaction of the US press was immediate and overwhelming. Every major news outlet turned its website over to coverage of the suicide attacks, often accompanied by live tickers and infographics. “Brussels Attacks Shake European Security” reads the banner headline on today’s New York Times’ front page (3/23/16); the Washington Post (3/22/16) worried that the bombings “made clear that European capitals remain perilously vulnerable despite attempts to dismantle the militant network that perpetrated the worst terrorist attack in Paris in generations last November.”

      It was a curious statement, given that just nine days earlier, another European nation’s capital had been the site of a remarkably similar suicide bombing. On March 13, a car bomb went off in Ankara, Turkey, killing 34 people and injuring 125. As in Brussels, the Ankara bombing, carried out by a Kurdish group opposed to Turkey’s military actions in Kurdish regions of Syria, targeted a transit hub—there a heavily trafficked bus stop—and the victims were likewise unsuspecting civilians going about their lives, including the father of international soccer star Umut Bulut (Guardian, 3/14/16), who was on his way back from one of his son’s matches.

    • Terrorism

      Well, the most important thing is, don’t panic. Given how easy it is to kill people physically, the important thing is how extremely difficult it is to do it mentally. In fact terrorism is vanishingly rare. It is so rare there has only been one person killed by terrorists in the mainland United Kingdom in the last decade.

      An event like that in Brussels today horrifies and terrifies. But remember, that the same number of people murdered today are killed in Belgium less than every three weeks in traffic accidents, and have been killed at that rate or greater in traffic accidents for over four decades. Over 700 people a year die in traffic accidents in Belgium; twenty times more than have just been killed by terrorists. Of course, the terrorist incident is a big single death toll and more stark because it is a deliberate act of evil. But if you’ve just been mown down by a car, that also is not pretty and you are just as dead.

      So panic must be avoided. There is no sense in which the tiny threat of terrorism is a genuine threat to western civilisation – unless we grossly overreact. Old fashioned intelligence work is the best way to counter active intelligence cells. This would be much more effective if it were targeted. The pool of intelligence is far too contaminated with tens of millions of intercepts of harmless people from mass surveillance, and all kinds of dross intelligence fed to us from torture chambers around the world.

      [...]

      Any response that tries simply to increase physical security and surveillance will entirely miss the point.

    • A WORLD WAR HAS BEGUN. BREAK THE SILENCE.

      How many people are aware that a world war has begun? At present, it is a war of propaganda, of lies and distraction, but this can change instantaneously with the first mistaken order, the first missile.

      In 2009, President Obama stood before an adoring crowd in the centre of Prague, in the heart of Europe. He pledged himself to make “the world free from nuclear weapons”. People cheered and some cried. A torrent of platitudes flowed from the media. Obama was subsequently awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

      It was all fake. He was lying.

      The Obama administration has built more nuclear weapons, more nuclear warheads, more nuclear delivery systems, more nuclear factories. Nuclear warhead spending alone rose higher under Obama than under any American president. The cost over thirty years is more than $1 trillion.

    • Abe and Okinawa’s Governor Square Off on U.S. Base Plans

      Prime Minister Shinzo Abe of Japan and the governor of Okinawa Takeshi Onaga agreed in early March to take a dispute over the future of Marine Corps Air Station Futenma (seen above) out of the courts and back offline to the negotiating table.

      Abe “accepted” a freeze on construction work at a contentious new location planned for the base as part of the agreement, though work had already been put on hold while Tokyo and Okinawa fought a legal battle over the site.

    • An army of none: The U.S. military is more powerful, less accountable and more dangerous than ever before

      In the decades since the draft ended in 1973, a strange new military has emerged in the United States. Think of it, if you will, as a post-democratic force that prides itself on its warrior ethos rather than the old-fashioned citizen-soldier ideal. As such, it’s a military increasingly divorced from the people, with a way of life ever more foreign to most Americans (adulatory as they may feel toward its troops). Abroad, it’s now regularly put to purposes foreign to any traditional idea of national defense. In Washington, it has become a force unto itself, following its own priorities, pursuing its own agendas, increasingly unaccountable to either the president or Congress.

      Three areas highlight the post-democratic transformation of this military with striking clarity: the blending of military professionals with privatized mercenaries in prosecuting unending “limited” wars; the way senior military commanders are cashing in on retirement; and finally the emergence of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) as a quasi-missionary imperial force with a presence in at least 135 countries a year (and counting).

  • Transparency Reporting

    • Spanish Code on Electronic Administration now covering legislation on transparency and access to public information

      Last month, the Spanish government updated its Code on Electronic Administration. The Code now includes a chapter specifically on Transparency and Access to Public Information. The chapter addresses Law 19/2013 of 9 December about transparency, access to public information and good governance.

    • Romanian Open Government Week prelude to OGP National Action Plan

      “Around 450 people took part in the ten sessions that took place during this six-day event,” says Larisa Panait, member of the Romanian OGP Coordination Unit and Advisor to the Chancellery of the Prime-Minister. “They were representatives of public institutions and local authorities, civil society members, students, open data activists, journalists, participants from the government internship program, academia, Members of Parliament, and representatives of the private sector.”””

    • Greece ready to test public consultation process

      In a prepared statement, he added: “The expected beneficial effect is to enhance both transparency and participation, and to create new opportunities for actors of civil society and start-ups, to provide value-added services, using the open data available to public bodies.”

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Utilities Are Playing Dirty In Florida To Kill Solar Energy Disruption In The Cradle

      Facing a future where competition is rampant, customers pay less money, and solar users actually get paid for driving power back to the grid gives any entrenched utility executive heartburn. Fortunately for them, we live in an era where buying state law and tricking consumers into rooting against their own best self interests is easier than ever before. Florida (where air conditioning drives the second highest energy consumption nationally) is quickly becoming the poster child for how utilities are using ethically incontinent lawmakers and a gullible populace to prevent solar power technology from reaching critical mass.

    • Rockefeller fund dumping fossil fuels, hits Exxon on climate issues

      The Rockefeller Family Fund said on Wednesday it will divest from fossil fuels as quickly as possible and “eliminate holdings” of Exxon Mobil, chiding the oil company for allegedly misleading the public about the threat of climate change.

      The move by the U.S. based charity, which will also include coal and Canadian oil sands holdings, is especially notable because a century ago John D. Rockefeller Sr. made a fortune running Standard Oil, a precursor to Exxon Mobil.

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying/Politics

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

  • Civil Rights

    • Former DHS Secretary Says We Can Make Airports Safer From Terrorists By Rearranging Security Checkpoints

      Another terrorist attack somewhere in the world* has provoked another round of punditry from former government officials on how to protect America from future attacks. Over the coming weeks, there will be no shortage of stupid ideas, useless ideas and pointless discussions about “heightened security” at any place people gather.

      *”World” = Western Europe only

      None of it will matter. Security has never really been scaled back anywhere since the 9/11 attacks — certainly not to the levels seen prior to September 2001. There’s only so much security anyone can actually provide but endless off-Broadway productions of security theater to be explored.

    • With Obama in Cuba, Pro-Torture Pundits Suddenly Concerned With Human Rights

      US President Barack Obama landed in Havana Sunday to great fanfare, both in Cuba and stateside. His visit marks a significant shift of the United States’ approach towards the socialist state, and the possibility of cooperation after decades of hostility. US media generally struck a hopeful tone, with a surprisingly nuanced mix of positive and critical stories about Cuba.

      Some Cold War hold-outs in the media just weren’t having it, though, taking the occasion to feign outrage that Obama could visit a country with such a terrible human rights record. While American human-rights hypocrisy is nothing new, a string of Bush-era, pro-torture, pro-Guantánamo pundits expressing indignation at Cuba’s human rights failings was still remarkable.

    • Cybersecurity Firm With A History Of ‘Corporate Blackmail’ Raided By The FBI

      Cybersecurity is a crowded field. Not every competitor will make it. That’s inevitable. Tiversa is one of the also-rans.

      Tiversa is helmed by Robert Boback. Back in 2009, Boback was already well-versed in the cybersecurity hard sell. Here’s what he had to say about P2P software in front of a Congressional audience — an audience well-versed in the art of selling fear to fund additional government products.

    • Complaint Board Finds Police Officers Violated Policy By Arresting Public Defender Who Demanded They Stop Questioning Her Clients

      More than a year after San Francisco police officers arrested public defender Jami Tillotson for doing her job, the city’s Office of Citizen Complaints has issued its report. It clears Tillotson of any wrongdoing and lays the blame solely at the feet of the San Francisco PD.

      First, a quick refresher, since we’re discussing something that happened last January: Tillotson’s clients were approached by police officers in a courthouse hallway. The officers began asking her clients questions and photographing them for a photo array. She inserted herself between the officers and the men and demanded the officers stop questioning them/photographing them without running it through her. The officers responded in the only way they knew how: they arrested her for resisting arrest — an arrest in which she cooperated fully with no amount of resistance. (It seems like circular reasoning, but “resisting arrest” is a catch-all for other sorts of interference with police work, rather than simply resisting an arrest.)

    • NYPD’s Arrests of Citizen Journalists Should Spark Outrage

      Last week, New York City police officers arrested four well-known activists for filming them. Copwatchers—people who regularly film and document police activity—have often been targeted by cops who don’t want to be recorded, despite reminders that recording police interactions is legal in the city. While legal protections for filming police are still unclear in some parts of the country, the invaluable role that copwatchers play as journalists—acting as the eyes, ears and media of the streets—deserves to be recognized.

    • Imprisoned With Her Baby, Bahraini Activist Is Victim of U.S. Silence, Sister Says

      LAST MONDAY, Bahraini security forces arrested prominent human rights activist Zainab al-Khawaja and her 15-month-old son. The arrest came on the fifth anniversary of a Saudi military intervention that crushed an uprising by Bahrain’s Shiite majority and marked a grim milestone in the country’s crackdown on dissidents.

      Al-Khawaja was taken into custody to serve a prison term that could run between one and three years after being found guilty in 2014 of charges related to the uprising. The main charge against her relates to an incident in which she insulted the country’s monarch by tearing up one of his ubiquitous portraits, a criminal offense in Bahrain. Her arrest this week, along with her infant son, signaled the government’s intention to enforce the sentence. According to her family, her son will remain incarcerated with her until he reaches the age of 2.

    • U.S. Citizen Sent to ICE After Trump Protest Says Agent Called Her “Pain-in-the-Ass Illegal”

      As voters head to the polls in Arizona, we continue our conversation with Jacinta González, who was transferred to immigration custody, despite being a U.S. citizen, after her arrest for helping block a highway leading to a Donald Trump rally Saturday. González says an immigration agent called her a “pain-in-the-ass illegal” after she invoked her constitutional right to remain silent. “The racial profiling that I underwent is just indicative of larger systematic problems with how ICE is going into jails, how ICE is profiling people in the streets,” González says. González also talks about using the gender-neutral term “Latinx,” and the importance of building community power beyond the 2016 elections.

    • Launching the Electronic Frontier Alliance

      We’re excited to announce the formation of a new grassroots network, the Electronic Frontier Alliance. Bringing together community and campus organizations across the U.S., the Alliance will serve as an increasingly vital hub for activism and organizing addressing a spectrum of civil liberties and digital rights issues.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Final Reminder: Tell The EU Commission Not To Wreck The Internet With Poorly Thought Out Regulations

      Just a quick reminder of our project to remind EU regulators not to wreck the internet with short-sighted regulations, where you can sign on to a letter that will be sent out early next week. The issue is that EU regulators have taken what seems like a good idea (removing geographic restrictions on the internet in Europe) and turned it into an excuse to try to cram in a bunch of bad internet regulations, mostly focused on removing or weakening intermediary liability protections. It appears that some in the EU Commission think that by forcing Google and Facebook to monitor communications and be forced to more proactively delete content that it will somehow (1) stop bad stuff from happening online and (2) hold back those two companies from continuing to dominate the European market.

    • Tennessee Makes It Clear Protecting AT&T And Comcast From Broadband Competition Is Its Top Priority

      We’ve noted a few times that Tennessee is one of numerous states that have literally let incumbent ISPs like AT&T and Comcast write state telecom law. Most notably, around 20 states have now blocked towns and cities from building their own broadband networks — or striking public/private partnerships — even in cases where the market has clearly failed. It’s protectionism pure and simple, and when the FCC voted last year to try and gut these laws in Tennessee and North Carolina, ISP allies in Congress were quick to assail the FCC for “violating states rights” (to let incumbent ISPs dictate all telecom policy, apparently).

      Tennessee’s law prevents a popular Chattanooga-based utility-run ISP, EPB, from expanding its up to 10 Gbps offerings. Tennessee Rep. Kevin Brooks recently tried to pass a bill that would have dismantled the state’s restriction, but his effort ran face-first into a lobbying wall constructed by companies like AT&T and Comcast. He then recently tried to strip down the measure so it simply let EPB expand near its headquarters and to one neighboring county, but that provision was also shot down 5-3, with one of the nay votes being that of Rep. Patsy Hazlewood, a former AT&T executive.

  • DRM

    • Richard Stallman Braved a Winter Storm Last Night to March Against DRM

      As a winter storm bears down on Cambridge, a hundred or so protesters have congregated outside MIT’s Ray and Maria Stata Center with handlettered signs that read “Stop DRM” and “DRM is bad for education.” But a disagreement has broken out: A splinter group, wearing Guy Fawkes masks, want to march upstairs to confront the members of the World Wide Web Consortium, the organization that recommends standards for the software that runs the internet.

      Heated words are exchanged, but then someone appeals to a higher authority: Richard Stallman, the storied programmer, who’s attending tonight’s protest with an overstuffed laptop bag in hand.

    • Hollywood blockbusters to take control of your television

      Not satisfied with releasing a director’s cut, filmmakers want the next generation of High Dynamic Range movies to override your picture settings to preserve their artistic vision.

      Some people are perfectly happy to leave their television on the default factory settings, but if you’re fussy about picture quality and you’re spending top-dollar then you’ll want to dip into the picture settings and tweak them to taste.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

03.23.16

Focus on Patent Trolls Persists, With Increasing Use of Euphemisms Such as NPEs and PAEs

Posted in Patents at 9:50 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

From IAM’s Web site (NPE 2016 could be crudely called Patent Trolls 2016)

NPE 2016

Summary: The debate about patent trolls (not patent scope) carries on in the media and events that improve the image of trolls are being organised by some of the media (paid by these trolls)

PATENT trolls are a big problem, but they are also a symptom of a much broader problem, notably software patents which can target a whole lot of companies that don’t manufacture things, e.g. online retailers.

IAM, which receives money from patent trolls, says that “legislation [...] balanced between patent owners and users of IP” (what about the public? Externality?) when it writes about patent reform. IAM currently organises and runs an annual event for patent trolls, who paid IAM to set this up (they are partying like patent trolls and getting flak from critics). Watch what guests they attract. If one makes a living by just passing around patents and threatening companies, that’s no constructive career. It’s parasitic and it injures the reputation of legitimate companies and legitimate patents. IAM itself doesn’t seem to recognise software patents when it sees them, or hosts those who use an old line (“We don’t rely on any patents that are purely software patents” or “Patents are such emotional things, people have this emotional barrier that they’re paying for nothing”).

“If one makes a living by just passing around patents and threatening companies, that’s no constructive career.”“What licensees are not paying for is solutions,” wrote Florian Müller in response to the above, “normally don’t need to read patent docs to solve software problems.” He later took note of patent trolls as proxies, alluding to the latest from Unwired Planet, which trolls Europe (Microsoft also does it, e.g. Intellectual Ventures). This is not OK. An articles roundup from Jim Lynch put it like this: “Microsoft has long sought to build credibility with the open source community, but it continues to shoot itself in the foot by forcing companies to pay for its Android patents. This has led some in the open source community to remain sour on Microsoft and its business practices.”

Intellectual Ventures is attacking Android too, not just Microsoft (the headline “Microsoft still forces companies to pay for its Android patents” could be expanded to “Microsoft and its patent trolls still force companies to pay for alleged Android patents”).

“It’s parasitic and it injures the reputation of legitimate companies and legitimate patents.”The EFF, in the mean time, speaks about the Venue Act these days (it tackles patent trolls, but not software patents), getting the attention of pro-patents sites like MIP and also patent sceptics like TechDirt. One side says that “US Senators Flake, Gardner and Lee have introduced the Venue Equity and Non-Uniformity Elimination (Venue) Act. The bill aims “to ensure that venue in patents cases is fair and proper”. The latter side says:

Patent reform is a constant legislative topic, even though what passes for reform generally tends to be heavily-watered down by the time it moves out of the House or Senate. One of the most abused areas of patent litigation is venue selection. Small towns in East Texas have become hosts to parasitic lifeforms known as “Non-Practicing Entities” — shell companies whose only product/service is litigation.

Jason Rantanen, guest posting at PatentlyO, suggests eliminating venue shopping might be a compromise parties involved in patent reform might be able to unite behind. Presumably, this means legislators, rather than patent trolls, who aren’t going to be willing to give up the “home field” advantage that easily. The problems with the current venue-shopping system are laid out by Rantanen in this sentence.

We don’t think this would ever be sufficient because patent trolls can endure all sorts of courts. With the UPC, for instance, some time soon they might be able to also troll companies all over Europe with just one legal case in a software patents-friendly German court.

“They used to speak about software patents, but corporate pressure seems to have changed that.”Professor Mark Lemley, an academic who often bemoans patent trolls, has just highlighted this new paper from John Allison, adding: “My latest study shows PAEs almost never win patent suits. Neither do software patentees, practicing or not.”

PAEs is a euphemism for particular types of trolls, such as Unwired Planet above (it’s effectively like a legal firm for Ericsson and it has gone on for years). The paper’s abstract says: “Much of the policy debate over the patent system has focused on the perceived problems with non-practicing entities (NPEs), also called patent trolls. Drawing on a comprehensive data set we built of every patent lawsuit filed in 2008 and 2009 that resulted in a ruling on the merits, we find that the situation is rather more complicated than simply operating companies vs. NPEs. While operating companies fare better in litigation than NPEs overall, breaking NPEs into different categories reveals more complexity. Patent Assertion Entities (PAEs) in particular win very few cases. Further, once we remove certain pharmaceutical cases from the mix, no patent plaintiff fares very well. That is particularly true of software, computer, and electronics patents.”

It is still rather worrying that not only the media but academia too (not to mention activism of EFF) focuses so much on patent trolls rather than patent scope. They used to speak about software patents, but corporate pressure seems to have changed that.

Microsoft is Pretending to be a FOSS Company in Order to Secure Government Contracts With Proprietary Software in ‘Open’ Clothing

Posted in Deception, Free/Libre Software, GNU/Linux, Microsoft at 9:07 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Microsoft is now pretending that proprietary SQL Server on GNU/Linux is “open” and reportedly sells it to governments as such

SQL Server loves PRISM

Summary: Microsoft is pulling off a chameleon’s strategy by pretending that its proprietary software stacks are “open” and therefore eligible for integration in public services

PUTTING aside EPO affairs and patents for a moment, we wish to point out some of the latest subversive moves from Microsoft. We cannot just ignore Microsoft when Microsoft isn’t ignoring us, and is constantly attacking us (FOSS) with patents.

“It’s a good way to distract the public and suppress criticism with some corny images of red hearts.”For those who missed it, Microsoft is trying to EEE GNU/Linux servers amid Microsoft layoffs; selfish interests of profit, as noted by some writers [1,2] this morning, nothing whatsoever to do with FOSS (there’s no FOSS aspect to it at all!) are driving these moves. It’s about proprietary software lock-in that won’t be available for another year anyway. It’s a good way to distract the public and suppress criticism with some corny images of red hearts.

Mary Branscombe, a longtime Microsoft booster who occasionally attacks FOSS (see her "free puppy" insults for instance), has just published an article with a loaded headline, “The reasons behind Microsoft’s drive for open source” [3] (there is no such drive, so why explore the “reasons”?). It’s a full load of nonsense, starting with the summary: “Striking the balance between open source and commercial business” (Branscombe again shows us a false dichotomy, where FOSS is antithetical to “commercial business” — whatever that is — probably just proprietary software)

“The problem with Wallen’s article is that it’s based on a false supposition that Microsoft cares about FOSS.”The latest Red Hat profits [4,5,6,7] help disprove the nonsense from Branscombe, but it’s not just Branscombe that’s doing that. Days ago we found literally dozens of puff pieces that openwash Microsoft. These all came from India, where Microsoft is lobbying government against FOSS (remember the EDGI dumping about a decade ago). Microsoft is now planning an Indian FOSS event (see two daily links roundups under “Openwashing” in [1, 2]) and it’s clear that Microsoft tries to fool/lull the Indian government into the notion that Microsoft is a FOSS company, hence eligible for any government contract (lucrative procurement). We need to battle this propaganda or simply be infiltrated by the enemy, which is hurting us the EEE way, not just with patents.

“This is protectionism by deception from Microsoft and those who play along with the PR campaign (or lobbying) are hurting genuine/legitimate FOSS.”A new article from Jack Wallen [8] notes that Microsoft’s “consumer licensing revenue has declined by 34 percent” and goes with the headline “It’s time for Microsoft to open source Windows” (some readers sent it to us after we had found it). The problem with Wallen’s article is that it’s based on a false supposition that Microsoft cares about FOSS. Besides, it wouldn’t work. They turned Windows into spyware (see what Vista 10 became). FOSS licensing would remove all that. If it’s FOSS, people would remove these undesirable features and redistribute without them (true FOSS means they can do exactly that). Microsoft cannot afford to let this happen.

In summary, reject the idea that Microsoft is somehow “open” now. The European Union, the Indian government and even the White House now warm up to FOSS, so Microsoft is pretending to be FOSS. This is protectionism by deception from Microsoft and those who play along with the PR campaign (or lobbying) are hurting genuine/legitimate FOSS.

Related/contextual items from the news:

  1. Does Microsoft Love Linux As Much As It Hates Oracle SQL Databases?

    Given the long wait, the SQL Server 2016 support for Linux servers seems to reflect a business tactic more than any actual love on Microsoft’s part for the open source community.

  2. Microsoft Corporation (MSFT) To Release SQL Server 2016 For Linux In 2017

    It is widely thought that SQL Server on Linux is CEO Satya Nadella’s brainchild, as the company focuses on providing top class service. Furthermore, some have even gone as far as to say that the company’s strategy regarding SQL on Linux exhibits the finest example of going where the money is, if it doesn’t come to you.

  3. The reasons behind Microsoft’s drive for open source

    In other words, SQL Server will come to Linux, but it’s not likely to be a free, open source version.

  4. Red Hat Is Now a $2 Billion Open-Source Baby

    Red Hat, which promised a few months ago to hit $2 billion in annual revenue, has done so and now claims to be the world’s first open-source company to reach that milestone. It crossed the $1 billion-a-year line four years ago.

  5. ​Red Hat becomes first $2b open-source company

    Just think: Some people still don’t believe that you can make money from Linux and open-source software. Fools! Red Hat just became the first open-source company to make a cool 2 billion bucks.

  6. Red Hat tops $2 billion in annual revenue
  7. Red Hat annual revenue crosses US$2b for the first time
  8. It’s time for Microsoft to open source Windows

    Imagine a world in which Windows was open source. Jack Wallen believes it is now time for such a reality.

Ongoing Investigations: EPO’s Attacks on the Media

Posted in Europe, Patents at 8:19 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Erdoğan and EPO
Original photo: Erdoğan by Randam

Summary: 3 parallel investigations underway regarding the muzzling of the media by the European Patent Office (EPO) and top EPO executives including Željko Topić

TECHRIGHTS currently has several strands of exploration into media suppression by the EPO, not only in Munich but also in Germany and abroad (not just us). A lot of people in the media don’t wish to talk about it (the wrath of their boss/es), but gradually we are starting to learn more about several different news channels, newspapers, and portals. Some of this is still work on progress, pending verification of facts.

“Even an editor got contacted, but fortunately these attempts to censor articles (yes, in bulk) about Topić were not successful on this occasion, unlike past occasions.”Having made some telephone calls (with people in Croatia), one should accept that we are not reliant on hearsay. We now know for sure is that Željko Topić is still trying to suppress Croatian media (this isn’t particularly new, as we showed before, but it’s still ongoing). This is exactly the kind of thing we have come to expect from the Battistellites, who are unable to accept any form of criticism (they totally lose their temper and even threaten the media).

While we’re still exploring/researching potential DDOS aspects of it (work in progress) what we can say, based on verification, is that Topić and/or his lawyers (we’re told at least one judge is close to Topić’s latest law firm) are asking Web sites to remove articles. Even an editor got contacted, but fortunately these attempts to censor articles (yes, in bulk) about Topić were not successful on this occasion, unlike past occasions. Can history be rewritten by omission and litigation (again and again)? Is it true that someone was paid to hack? Not sure yet, but this is the subject of an ongoing investigation, which can take weeks (we are not divulging any information which cannot be verified yet).

“People would be absolutely right (or justified) to assume that there is suppression going on in the media, and the EPO has a lot to do with it.”This is only the tip of the iceberg. We know of several other channels in which censorship (or self-censorship) is said to have become commonplace when it comes to EPO scandals. The EPO is still combating information about EPO abuses, by all means possible, as otherwise the Bavarian government will increasingly intervene (if properly informed).

People would be absolutely right (or justified) to assume that there is suppression going on in the media, and the EPO has a lot to do with it. We still don’t know why the BBC spiked a story about the EPO's attack on bloggers (self-censorship of censorship).

FFPE-EPO Says MoU With Battistelli Will “Defend Employment Conditions” (Updated)

Posted in Europe, Patents at 7:43 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

FFPE-EPO
Click for larger-sized image

Summary: FFPE-EPO spreads fliers that attempt to frame a submissive memorandum of understanding (MoU) with abusive management as an advantage

FFPE-EPO, a union so soft that even Battistelli can love it, was covered here earlier this month in the following set of articles, sorted chronologically:

  1. In the EPO’s Official Photo Op, “Only One of the Faces is Actually FFPE-EPO”
  2. Further Evidence Suggests and Shows Stronger Evidence That Team Battistelli Uses FFPE-EPO as ‘Yellow Union’ Against SUEPO
  3. “FFPE-EPO Was Set up About 9 Years Ago With Management Encouragement”
  4. Fallout of the FFPE EPO MoU With Battistelli’s Circle
  5. The EPO’s Media Strategy at Work: Union Feuds and Group Fracturing
  6. Caricature of the Day: Recognising FFPE EPO
  7. Union Syndicale Federale Slams FFPE-EPO for Helping Abusive EPO Management by Signing a Malicious, Divisive Document

The letter/flier above is self explanatory and the last link (above) helps explain why FFPE-EPO is misguided if it genuinely believes this kind of MoU will “defend [...] employment conditions.” Union Syndicale Federale almost joked about the ‘benefits’ of this MoU.

Update: Here is the text of the above image:

Why is a MoU good for the EPO, its staff and FFPE?

Submitted by S van der Bijl [illegible] on Mon. 01/02/2016 – 14:24

The FFPE committee members often get questions from colleagues why we are still negotiating or why we favour a memorandum of understanding between EPO and the unions. The question of a memorandum is then soon linked together with developments concerning disciplinary proceedings against certain staff representatives.

I think that that link is wrong and even if a link could be made it should be leading towards the opposite decision namely signing an agreement to avoid further deterioration of the conflict.

MOU’s ARE A VERY NORMAL AND COMMON IN INTERNATIONAL ORGANISATIONS

Agreements concerning recognition of unions are something very normal in international organisations. The EU commission, the EU council and the EU parliament have such agreements called ’Framework agreements ’ or with the French equivalent term “Accord cadre”. Some coordinated organisations such as Eurocontrol also have such an agreement in place. These agreements come on top of and do not replace the staff committees. It is even explicitly mentioned in these agreements that there shall be no prejudice to the role of the staff committees. The proposal on the table for the EPO also contains such a clause. Nobody can therefore claim in any possible way having been negatively affected by the signing of a framework agreement between a union and the management of the organisation. So it is a perfectly normal situation in a normal organisation to sign an agreement which makes it explicit what the nature is of the relation between a recognised union and the management of the organisation. An agreement also means that both parties arrange the elements necessary for discussing with each other and recognising that the other party is entitled to defend the interests of their members. It means concretely that the organisation provides some basic facilities and that the union agrees to function within a certain legal framework even when it does not agree with decisions that are taken.

INVESTIGATIONS HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH A MOU

If signing an agreement is something perfectly normal in any organisation but not at the EPO what is then so special about the EPO that many people have a problem with it here? Two years ago there were staff representation elections which resulted in the election of a certain number of independent non-affiliated staff reps. For reasons like “too much stress” or “too poisoned atmosphere” these representatives gave up their functions relatively quickly after their election. Soon after these events complaints were launched against representatives from SUEPO and when investigations were launched against these representatives SUEPO tried to use the negotiation process as a means of leverage to make the EPO stop these investigations and ignore the complaints.

The argument was: “you cannot negotiate with a gun to your head”. This argument is flawed. Not all SUEPO representatives were investigated, but only those against whom other colleagues who complained were investigated. There is no reasons to make a link between the two issues and since we do not know the exact nature of the complaints and cannot analyse whether there is enough evidence we cannot make an opinion about these investigations. We only noticed that the disciplinary committee which is a plenary body also containing staffrep nominees ruled unanimously that the accused were guilty. We will leave it therefore up to ATILO in Geneva to take the final decision. It would be incorrect to take a position in this except that we do believe that the investigation guidelines need to be reviewed. We had this opinion already at the moment they were Introduced and had published about that at the time.

WHY IT WOULD BE GOOD TO SIGN AN MOU REGARDLESS WHETHER YOU MAKE A LINK OR NOT

The MoU as it is proposed details the rights and obligations of management and unions in the EPO. It recognises the unions right to negotiate employment conditions and to defend the rights of the employees. It grants the union representatives time and means to negotiate and form an opinion, whether positive, negative or partly positive before any proposal goes to the GCC. It also allows a union to put issues on the agenda that the staff need or asked for. The MoU is a gentleman’s agreement, this means there is no court mentioned where the EPO can sue a union or vice versa. Both parties are responsible for making it work and if it doesn’t agreement can also be cancelled by one of the two parties. In principle a respected MoU should lead to a situation where the permanent conflict between unions and management that has been going on since the beginning of EPO in 1973 stops and the EPO enters the 21st century and develops normal relations as other organisations have them too. That does not mean there will never be any conflicts any more or that there won’t be any strikes but it does mean we do not continue destroying our employer’s reputation by a damaging proxy battle in the national media. Is it really such an ideal situation that changes to the Codex are only presented to the GCC very shortly before the meeting and adopted by the council very quickly thereafter? If you like the way things go please continue supporting the status quo. I believe the EPO deserves much better and the MoU opens the door for major improvements in our relations and a better future for the organisation.

DEFEND THEREFORE YOUR EMPLOYMENT CONDITIONS, SUPPORT THE MOU AND JOIN FFPE!

Links 23/3/2016: Red Hat’s Record Results

Posted in News Roundup at 7:20 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish

Contents

GNU/Linux

Free Software/Open Source

  • Why community managers must wade (not dive) into communities

    If you are part of an organization looking to get into the community-support game, you would do well to tread carefully and deliberately. Communities, particularly at the start of your involvement in them, can be delicate and fragile things. Stomping in there with big words and big plans and big brand engagement will cause a lot of damage to the community and its ecosystem, often of the irreparable sort.

  • How our high school replaced IRC with Mattermost

    The Mattermost project was named because the developers wanted to emphasize the importance of communication. And the design provokes a conceptual shift in classroom communications. Unlike email, Mattermost is a convenient virtual meeting room and a central dashboard for our district technology operations. When everyone connects in a transparent conversation stream, collaboration naturally happens in the open. I was incredibly fond of our internal IRC system, but I really love the Mattermost platform. It costs nothing more than a little server space and occasional software update attention. But even better, it serves as the communication hub for our Student Technology Help Desk, and helps our students collaborate during times when they are not together in the same physical space during a given class block.

  • A channel guide to Open Source success

    Much has changed within the storage channel over the past few years. New technologies, especially cloud-computing, have created innovative business models that have transformed not only what channel businesses sell, but the way they sell them too. As a result, many resellers have evolved into service providers in a process that is now fairly well understood.

    However, there is another, lesser-known evolution that is equally important: not only is the channel changing, but so too are customers. This new type of customer is comfortable with cloud technologies and with the increasingly related area of open source operating systems, which they are looking to use in new ways. If channel organisations are to capitalise on these customers then they need to understand how they can add value through open source.

  • Open source software altering telecom operator, vendor space

    The increased focus and adoption of open source software is bolstering telecom operator plans, forcing vendors to rethink strategy

  • Events

    • Event planning tips from the Django Girls Budapest team

      Szilvi Kádár, Daniella Kőrössy, and I are the organizers of Django Girls Budapest, a free workshop that teaches women how to code. We held our first Django Girls workshop in December 2014, and we’re currently planning our fourth event. We’d like to share some bits and pieces of event organizing advice, and we hope you’ll find some useful ideas for your next event.

    • LibrePlanet day two in a nutshell

      We are just forty-eight hours after LibrePlanet 2016 successfully concluded. The second day carried the energy and excitement from Saturday, and attendance remained strong in all sessions.

    • Uganda to host the 7th African Conference on Free and Open Source Software and Digital Commons

      The Government of Uganda through National Information Technology Authority (NITA-U) will host the 7th African Conference on Free and Open Source Software (FOSS) and Digital Commons (IDLELO 7) in August 2016. The conference aims to support uptake of Open Source in Uganda and the region.

      The Ministry of ICT has recently developed a Free Open Source Software (FOSS) Policy to provide guidance on deployment of Open Source Software and the use of Open Standards as a means of accelerating Innovation and local content development.

  • Web Browsers

    • Chrome

      • Google will kill its Chrome app launcher for Windows, Mac, and Linux in July

        Google today announced plans to kill off the Chrome app launcher for Windows, Mac, and Linux in July. The tool, which lets users launch Chrome apps even if the browser is not running, will continue to live on in Chrome OS.

        As you might suspect, the Chrome app launcher was originally ported from Chrome OS. Google first started experimenting with bringing the app launcher to its desktop browser in May 2013. The Chrome app launcher debuted on Windows in July 2013, followed by OS X in December 2013, and finally Linux in July 2014.

  • SaaS/Big Data

    • GoDaddy Offers Amazon-like Cloud Services, Based on OpenStack

      Small business domain host GoDaddy is famous for its racy commercials and its long history of servicing domains, but now it is entering the cloud business and placing its bets on OpenStack. The company has expanded its hosting services to offer Cloud Servers and Bitnami-powered Cloud Applications. The new offerings are designed to help the individual developers, tech entrepreneurs and IT professionals to quickly build, test and scale cloud solutions.

  • Oracle/Java/LibreOffice

  • CMS

  • Pseudo-/Semi-Open Source (Openwashing)

  • BSD

    • FreeNAS 9.10 Open-Source Storage Operating System Adds USB 3.0 & Skylake Support

      Jordan Hubbard from the FreeNAS project, an open-source initiative to create a powerful, free, secure, and reliable NAS (Network-attached storage) operating system based on BSD technologies, announced the release of FreeNAS 9.10.

      FreeNAS 9.10 is the tenth maintenance release in the current stable 9.x series of the project, thus bringing the latest security patches from upstream, support for new devices, as well as several under-the-hood updates. As expected, FreeNAS 9.10 has been rebased on the latest FreeBSD 10.3 RC3 (Release Candidate) release.

  • FSF/FSFE/GNU/SFLC

  • Public Services/Government

    • Polish eGovernment strategy advocates open source

      Poland’s new eGovernment strategy recommends that publicly financed software should use an open architecture, and consider publication under an open source licence. The eGovernment strategy twice emphasises the use of open source, for a new system of public registers and for a eInvoicing system that interoperates with a national document management system.

    • EC and EP use open source for software development

      The European Commission and the European Parliament generally use open source tools and methods for software development, concludes the EU-FOSSA project, following a review of 15 ongoing projects. The institutions’ project management tools make room for agile, collaborative development cycles.

  • Programming

    • Swift programming language update introduces Linux support

      Almost two years after its launch and four months since it was open sourced, Swift 2.2 has been released by Apple. The update is a major one because it now runs on Linux. Officially, Swift runs on Ubuntu 14.04 and Ubuntu 15.10 but it won’t be long until it unofficially arrives on other distros such as Arch and Manjaro via the Arch User Repository (or AUR).

Leftovers

  • Science

    • UK Government Forbids Publicly-Funded Scientists And Academics From Giving Advice It Disagrees With

      That might sound reasonable, especially the last part about not being able to lobby for more funding. It is aimed mainly at organizations that receive government grants, but many academics believe that it is so loosely worded that it will also apply to them, and will prevent them from pushing for new regulations in any circumstances. Even if that is not the UK government’s intention, the mere existence of the policy is bound to have a chilling effect on the academics, since few will want to run the risk of having their grants taken away by inadvertently breaking the new rules.

  • Apple

  • Security

  • Defence/Police/Secrecy/Aggression

    • WATCH: President Obama in Cuba: “I Have Come to Bury the Last Remnant of the Cold War”

      On the final day of his historic trip to Cuba, President Obama addressed the Cuban people. “The United States and Cuba are like two brothers that’ve been estranged for many years,” Obama said. “We both live in a new world, colonized by Europeans. Cuba was in part built by slaves who were brought from Africa … Like the United States, Cuba can trace her heritage to both slaves and slave owners.”

  • Transparency Reporting

  • Environment/Energy/Wildlife

    • Donald Trump bewilderingly denies that climate change poses a serious risk

      Republican presidential candidates haven’t exactly set a high bar for their understanding of climate science during the 2016 race so far. However, front-runner Donald Trump wins the prize for the most confounding denial of global warming expressed by a major party’s presidential candidate to date.

  • Finance

  • Censorship

  • Privacy

    • Silk Road 2.0 Right-Hand Man Pleads Guilty

      The second iteration of the Silk Road drug marketplace was shuttered in November 2014, almost exactly a year after it opened. Now, 17 months later, the right hand man of that website has accepted a plea agreement in a district court in the Western District of Washington.

      Brian Farrell has formally admitted to being “DoctorClu,” a staff member of Silk Road 2.0 who provided customer and technical support, approved vendors, and promoted other employees, according to a court document filed earlier this month.

    • Tor Project says it can quickly catch spying code

      The Tor Project is fortifying its software so that it can quickly detect if its network is tampered with for surveillance purposes, a top developer for the volunteer project wrote on Monday.

      There are worries that Tor could either be technically subverted or subject to court orders, which could force the project to turn over critical information that would undermine its security, similar to the standoff between Apple and the U.S. Department of Justice.

      Tor developers are now designing the system in such a way that many people can verify if code has been changed and “eliminate single points of failure,” wrote Mike Perry, lead developer of the Tor Browser, on Monday.

    • Apple v. FBI: What Just Happened?
    • Icloak Stik

      Anyone who values anonymity can benefit.

    • Tor Project Hardens Privacy Features, Points to Apple vs. the FBI

      There continue to be many people around the globe who want to be able to use the web and messaging systems anonymously, despite the fact that some people want to end Internet anonymity altogether. Typically, the anonymous crowd turns to common tools that can keep their tracks private, and one of the most common tools of all is Tor, an open source tool used all around the world.

      Even as Apple continues to make headlines as it squares off with the FBI over privacy issues, Mike Perry, lead developer of the Tor Browser, wrote in a blog post that Tor developers are hardening the Tor system in such a way that people can verify if code has been changed and “eliminate single points of failure.” “Even if a government or a criminal obtains our cryptographic keys, our distributed network and its users would be able to detect this fact and report it to us as a security issue,” Perry wrote.

    • Idaho mom who sued Obama over illegal surveillance loses at appellate court

      The Idaho mother who sued President Barack Obama over alleged unconstitutional telephone metadata collection has lost again in court. Anna Smith had her initial case dismissed in 2014, and this week her appeal met a similar fate.

      On Tuesday, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against Smith, finding that her case was now moot in light of the new changes to the now-expired Section 215 of the Patriot Act.

    • Ninth Circuit Tosses Challenge to NSA Spying

      Anna Smith, a nurse and mother of two, sued President Barack Obama and other high-ranking government officials in June 2013, upon the exposure of a program that collected metadata from every American’s phone records.

    • NSA is not ‘intentionally looking’ for Americans, says agency’s privacy officer [Ed: Rebecca Richards is a liar. NSA hired her to lie to media. Job title: “privacy and civil liberties and privacy”]
    • Before We Even Know The Details, Politicians Rush To Blame Encryption For Brussels Attacks

      You may remember that, right after the Paris attacks late last year, politicians rushed in to demonize encryption as the culprit, and to demand backdooring encryption before the blood was even dry. Of course, it later turned out that there was no evidence that they used encryption at all, but rather it appears that they communicated by unencrypted means. Just yesterday, we noted that the press was still insisting encryption was used, and using the lack of any evidence as evidence for the fact they must have used encryption (hint: that’s not how encryption works…).

    • Appeals court: NSA surveillance case partly moot
    • Appeals court partly dismisses NSA surveillance case as moot

      A three-judge federal appeals panel has partly dismissed an Idaho woman’s lawsuit over the National Security Agency’s bulk collection of phone records as moot.

      Nurse Anna J. Smith sued the government in 2013, arguing that the agency’s collection of call records violates the Fourth Amendment’s prohibition on unreasonable searches and seizures.

    • British Spy Agency GCHQ Moves Fast to Prevent Mass Energy Hack Attack

      The UK intelligence agency GCHQ has stepped in to prevent a massive hack attack on Britain’s energy networks after discovering so-called “smart meters” – designed to replace 53 million gas and electricity meters can be easily hacked.

    • GCHQ steps into protect smart meters against hackers [Ed: still distracting from GCHQ offense]
  • Civil Rights

    • Bernie Sanders Spoke Up for Suffering Palestinians, but Few in Broadcast Media Covered It

      As leading presidential candidates spoke at the Washington gathering of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC), promising support and a crackdown on boycotts of Israel, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders made a dissenting speech in Salt Lake City, where he spoke up for suffering Palestinians. It received little broadcast media attention.

      As Sanders trails Clinton in delegate count, his campaign has effectively been discounted by major media.

    • Clinton Attacks Israeli Boycott Movement in AIPAC Speech
    • My too intimate relations with the TSA: James Bovard

      The Transportation Security Administration finally obeyed a 2011 federal court order March 3 and issued a 157 page Federal Register notice justifying its controversial full-body scanners and other checkpoint procedures. TSA’s notice ignored the fact that the “nudie” scanners are utterly unreliable; TSA failed to detect 95% of weapons and mock bombs that Inspector General testers smuggled past them last year while the agency continues to mislead the public about its heavy-handed treatment of travelers.

      The Federal Register notice is full of soothing pablum about how travelers have no reason to fear the TSA, declaring that “passengers can obtain information before they leave for the airport on what items are prohibited.” But it neglects to mention that TSA can invoke ludicrous pretexts to treat innocent travelers as suspicious terrorist suspects.

      Flying home from Portland, Ore., on Thanksgiving morning, I had a too-close encounter with TSA agents that spurred me to file a Freedom of Information Act request. On March 5, I finally received a bevy of TSA documents and video footage with a grope-by-grope timeline.

  • Internet/Net Neutrality

    • Silicon Valley Rides Obama’s Coattails Into Cuba

      President Barack Obama is in Cuba, and Silicon Valley is tagging along for the ride.

      Executives from several technology companies are traveling with the U.S. president on his goodwill tour or introducing new business initiatives focused on the island—or both. Among the companies joining the Cuba parade this week are Google parent Alphabet Inc., Airbnb Inc., PayPal Holdings Inc., Priceline Group Inc., Stripe Inc., and Xerox Corp.

  • DRM

    • Anti-DRM activists go to W3C meeting to protest Digital Restrictions Management in Web standards

      The protest began outside the W3C office and continued with a march past Google’s Cambridge office, to Microsoft’s office nearby. The companies are both supporters of Encrypted Media Extensions (EME), the proposal to enshrine DRM in Web standards. The protest included free software users and developers, including Richard Stallman and Chris Webber, the maintainer of the GNU MediaGoblin decentralized publishing platform. A small number of protesters split from the group to enter the W3C meeting, then were ejected by police.

      DRM in Web standards would make it cheaper and more politically acceptable to impose restrictions on users, opening the floodgates to a new wave of DRM throughout the Web, with all the vulnerabilities, surveillance and curtailed freedom that DRM entails.

  • Intellectual Monopolies

    • Trademarks

      • Court Dismisses Dumb Trademark Suit Between Dairy And Fishing Tackle Companies

        Part of the fun of covering the sort of silly trademark disputes that we do here at Techdirt is seeing just how far companies, most often large companies, will go in trying to apply protectionist habits where they don’t belong. This typically manifests itself in the key marketplace aspect of trademark law, where the brands in question are to be competing for customers who might become confused for an infringement to have occurred. Too often this aspect of the law appears to go ignored in claims of infringement, or else the concept of competitive marketplaces is stretched to the point of absurdity. As I said, this is often times amusing to us, because we’re strange.

    • Copyrights

      • Man Faces Prison Sentence For Circumventing UK Pirate Site Blockade

        A UK’s Police Intellectual Property Crime Unit has charged a man for operating several proxy sites and services that allowed UK Internet users to bypass local pirate site blockades. In a first of its kind prosecution, the Bakersfield resident is charged with several fraud offenses and one count of converting and/or transferring criminal property.

      • Prenda’s Paul Hansmeier Continues To Win Enemies, Influence Legislators With His ADA Trolling, Hiding Of Assets

        Everyone behind the failed clown school that was Prenda Law deserves what’s happening to Paul Hansmeier. Unfortunately, it appears Hansmeier is taking the most damage from the fallout of Prenda’s disastrous copyright trolling… or at least he’s the one doing most of his suffering in public.

        Of course, it’s his own fault. Rather than get out of the trolling business, Hansmeier doubled down. He swapped porn stars for wheelchairs, pursuing small businesses for Americans with Disabilities Acts violations. Fronting as a public interest, Hansmeier’s “Disabilities Support Alliance” is every bit the serial litigant Prenda was.

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