When Does it Become Appropriate to Take Windows off the Information Highway?

Posted in Microsoft, Security, Windows at 7:50 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Crash car

Summary: Today’s news about Conficker and its effects on those sharing the road and paying the toll

MY REGULARLY-ALLOCATED DNS server was hardly reachable for several hours this morning (again). Only later did I discovered a possible cause, which may agree with last week's multitude of reports about DNS and DDOS attacks:

Conficker begins stealthy update

The Conficker worm has started to update infected machines with a mystery package of data.

Computer security firms watching the malicious program noticed that it sprang into life late on 8 April.

Conficker wakes up, updates via P2P, drops payload

Mafiaboy: Conficker Was a Ruse

According to Calce, you need to look no further than the Conficker worm, and the worry generated by its expected activation last week, to see why things haven’t changed much since 2000.

Conficker botnet stirs to distribute update payload

More news on the effect of Windows malware:

New e-crime units nabs nine banking Trojan suspects

Investigators reckon the group of UK-based eastern European nationals used malware planted on compromised machines to steal login credentials and plunder online banking accounts.

Will this ever end? Or will it end the Internet as we know it?

Microsoft Kills Live Labs, General Manager Quits the Company

Posted in Microsoft at 7:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Summary: The very latest in a series of tumbles

SOME days ago we saw Microsoft selling parts of itself, having recently shut down numerous services/products/divisions. It carries on:

Microsoft Breaks Up Its Live Labs Group


Microsoft spokeswoman Stacy Drake McCredy said the economy had forced the company to rethink the group’s mission. The death of Live Labs as it has existed, combined with Google’s decision to cut some of its more experimental products, raises the question of whether these kind of futuristic initiatives are falling out of fashion among leading internet companies, or are just a victim of this recession.

Also in the news:

Data center GM leaves Microsoft

There are many Microsoft departures just like this and it has gone on for a couple of years. Microsoft is shrewdly hiding the severity of this.

Microsoft-NPD Connections

Posted in Deception, Microsoft, Vista, Windows at 7:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

“Analysts sell out – that’s their business model… But they are very concerned that they never look like they are selling out, so that makes them very prickly to work with.”

Microsoft, internal document [PDF]

A LOT of people are saying “NPD this” and “NPD that” right now, but not many people are aware of the firm’s business model. For each lie there is a party gaining and that’s just how money is made.

We have already explained that NPD is close to Microsoft, but here are some references from recent years for those who are not easily convinced.

Since we cover a lot of stories about the copyright cartel, here is something to give an idea of how NPD is viewed based on its actions:

But wait! The NPD Group? Isn’t it that market research firm which spotted the opportunities offered by the corporate movie and music companies from afar and almost overnight became an expert on p2p file sharing with, “highly questionable statistics blatantly slanted towards the entertainment cartels?”

Mind the headline of the article above. It says: “Vista: better than expected”

Yes, that was a few years back when Microsoft paid many analyst groups including IDC to praise Vista. Let us not forget Gartner, either. Microsoft negotiated with them regarding Vista.

But anyway, back to NPD, here is what a Microsoft fan and analyst said about NPD’s numbers that flatter Microsoft:

To be clear: The missing information is to be expected, and I don’t mean to reflect poorly on Swenson or NPD. Research firms aren’t in the business of giving away information to the news media, but selling it to clients. The information provided to the press should be incomplete.

Says an analyst from Jupiter, whose analysis is centred around Microsoft.

Remember Zune? The product that fails to stay alive?

Watch what NPD said about the Zune’s performance in the market:

”All in all, that’s a pretty good performance,” said Stephen Baker, an analyst with Reston, Va.-based NPD.

It’s worth learning about the man who wrote this article.

Here is more:

Despite getting a hammering in the tech press, Microsoft’s Zune has had respectable sales last month according to data from market research firm NPD Group.

You can’t make this stuff up, or can you? Channel stuffing in this case.

Here is a story that Reuters published based on NPD regarding Microsoft’s Xbox 360. And guess what? Reuters withdrew the story shortly after it had been published. How come? Here is the explanation: “The Los Angeles story headlined “Microsoft’s Xbox 360 US sales top first Xbox–NPD” is withdrawn because the data supporting the story may be inaccurate. Reuters is waiting for an update from the company. A new story may be issued.”

Here is how the story appeared in Reuters at the time (under a slightly different headline):

Microsoft’s Xbox 360 US sales-NPD story withdrawn

The Los Angeles story headlined “Microsoft’s Xbox 360 US sales top first Xbox–NPD” is withdrawn because the data supporting the story may be inaccurate. Reuters is waiting for an update from the company. A new story may be issued.

Take from that what you will about NPD and Microsoft whenever this pair shows up in the same article. NPD loves to momentarily count how many products are forcibly pushed into the warehouses of specific stores (sometimes geographic preference, a la IDC). It’s one of the oldest tricks in the books, so it’s a lie, although technically it may not be, not even marginally.

Links 09/04/2009: “We’re Linux” Winner Announced, Sub-notebooks FUD Debunked

Posted in News Roundup at 6:10 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • Oldfields desktops go to Linux, Mac, and don’t look back

    ASX-listed Oldfields has reduced its IT spending from just over three per cent of gross revenue to 1.2 per cent, mainly by reducing its reliance on Windows.

  • Sun Board Meets, Discuss Next Steps in IBM Acquisition Attempt

    If all this works out, then IBM will be one of the luckiest companies in the world. eWeek has learned a lot of details regarding the IBM-sun acquisition talks, as well as that today, the Sun board is holding another meeting to discuss the talks. The outcome could be that IBM would buy Sun after all – but at a much lower price since Sun’s shares fell 25% after it had broken off the negotiations with IBM.

  • Making the Future Happen In Linux

    A consequence of Linux’s amazing growth is a growing new user population that is not accustomed to having any power. Folks, you have the power– you don’t have to sit around all sad because Linux is missing an application or feature that you need. What you do is roll up your sleeves and help make it happen, because that is how Linux works, and that is what makes Linux–and all Free and Open Source software– so good.

  • Latinamerican Free Software Installation Festival’2K9

    I have registered myself as an installer at the Latinamerican Free Software Installation Festival, a.k.a FLISoL (first time to work on a FLISoL ever, by the way). This year this event is going to take place on April 25th on many locations all around latinamerica.

  • Three Reasons Linux Will Win in the Future

    1. The Economy. “The economic downturn is more than just marketing hype for open-source and Linux as a way to cut costs,” says Zemlin.

    Right now, corporations large and small are actively consolidating IT infrastructures, Zemlin says, and free and open-source software is becoming increasingly attractive. Also, he says, a recession usually causes companies to re-think their age-old assumptions about their computing environments. They will be more likely to consider all the options when they think about software, server and workstation costs.

    2. Redefinition of the Desktop. You’ve heard it so many times, it’s become a running joke: This is the year of the Linux desktop.

  • Cost Replacing Functionality as Linux’s Appeal

    With a shrinking server market, financial services firms are porting more applications to Linux at the expense of Unix and other legacy platforms. While that has been an ongoing trend for many years, the motive has shifted in the past year from adding new functionality to reducing cost. That was the consensus at Monday’s annual Linux on Wall Street conference in New York.

    “The global financial crisis has changed business priorities,” said Inna Kuznetsova, IBM’s director of Linux strategy, during a keynote panel discussion. “People are less focused on adding functionality and more focused on cost reduction.”

  • I Switched to Mac After a Lifetime of Windows, and It Doesn’t Matter

    I realized both of these things a couple of weeks ago after I bought a Dell Mini 9 with Ubuntu Linux. I was worried at first that I’d hate not using Windows, but after about an hour I realized that I was having almost the exact same experience I would be having if it had XP on it. It just didn’t matter.

  • Marketing

  • Kernel Space

    • Kernel Log: Linux 2.6.30 is taking shape

      Between Tuesday and Wednesday, Linus Torvalds released Linux 2.6.30-rc1, the first release candidate of version 2.6.30 of the Linux kernel. The final version is expected in eight to ten weeks. Fifteen days after the release of Linux 2.6.29, the first RC of 2.6.30 closes the merge window, the first phase of the development cycle in which the kernel hackers integrate all the major changes into the main development branch; the coming few weeks will be dedicated to eliminating any flaws the testers find in the release candidates.

    • Linux Foundation’s Annual Collaboration Summit Kicks Off Today in San Francisco
    • Grand ambitions for Linux

      Like a fervent preacher appearing before his flock, Linux Foundation Executive Director Jim Zemlin emphasized benefits and potential for the Linux platform Thursday during an industry conference that also featured an update on mobile Linux efforts.

    • Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit keynote notes

      These may be a little ad hoc but here are some quick notes from the Jim Zemlin’s welcoming talk on the state of Linux and the Linux Foundation at the third annual Linux Foundation Collaboration Summit.

    • Panel: The Linux Kernel – What’s Next (Liveblog)

      Ted T’so – CTO Linux Foundation
      Greg Kroah-Hartman – Novell
      Andrew Morton – Google
      Keith Packard – X.org

  • Hardware

    • Core i7 plays nice with Linux

      MICHAEL OVER at Phoronix is running some new Core i7 tests under Linux. Back in November, Core i7 Linux benchmarks were nowhere to be seen, but Michael seems to have taken care of that. Big thumbs up it seems.

    • Nvidia releases Linux Cuda 2.2

      The Nvidia spinfo says the refresh means “Linux developers can now use a debugger on Cuda-enabled GPUs that offers both the familiar interface of the popular open-source GDB debugger and the ability to debug kernels as they execute on the GPU”.

    • Nvidia intros hardware debugger for GeForce GPUs
    • Game on! Anniston’s Own Gaming System is Trying to Take on the Big Boys

      The designers are touting the EVO as the first open-source console based on Linux software. Linux is an open-source operating system, meaning users can modify and improve the software’s design. Other video game systems use their own proprietary operating systems, Envizions CEO Derrick Samuels said.

      They say they can take any game designed for Linux-based computers and make it run on the EVO.

  • Graphics

    • Entertainment Arts Research Using Blender Game Engine for Production

      April 6, 2009- Atlanta, Georgia–Entertainment Arts Research Inc. and it’s subsidiary Twilight 22 Studio both based in Atlanta, Georgia USA are in pre production on an original third person action thriller IP called Fire Wire District 22 driven by artistic creativity and advanced technology.

      Fire Wire District 22® is using the Blender Game Engine. EARI is using the Blender Game Engine by adding additional real time shaders, as well as for scène graph and culling. “Benoit Bolsee, one of our programmers, has been able to speed up the scenegraph and culling in the game engine 5 times in just the very first optimization that was done,” stated Nate Nesler. Nesler is the Artistic Technical Director for Fire Wire District 22®.

    • BGE – Taking it to the Next Level

      It was announced very recently (on the 6th of April) that the Blender Game Engine will be used to make a third person action thriller called Fire Wire District 22. The game is being produced by Entertainment Arts Research Inc and its subsidiary Twilight 22 Studio based in Atlanta, Georgia USA.

    • XreaL: The Most Advanced Open-Source Game Engine?

      The lead developer of XreaL is Robert Beckebans, who has been working to deliver stunning graphics capabilities to the id Tech 3 engine. As far he knows, XreaL is actually the only Quake-based engine with a pure GLSL (GL Shading Language) renderer. With his GLSL renderer for XreaL, he wrote it entirely against the OpenGL 2.0 ES specification, so that it is very minimalist in order to avoid driver problems. With OpenGL 3.x now available, he has been heavily targeting OpenGL 3.1 support. That is right, there are no commercial games on Linux yet with OpenGL 3.0/3.1 support, but XreaL has an open-source answer. XreaL also has a true 64-bit HDR rendering pipeline.

    • RadeonHD 1.2.5 Driver Released

      The RadeonHD 1.2.4 driver was released back in December and since then a lot of work has went into this open-source driver through the partnership between AMD and Novell. Over the past few months they have made significant process, but also faced some setbacks, like losing a key X developer. Yesterday the xf86-video-ati driver was updated, but now this morning we have an update finally for xf86-video-radeonhd.

    • Compiz INSIDE VirtualBox? YES.

      VirtualBox 2.2.0 has been released today.

      Looks to be a good release… then I see this in the changelog:

      “OpenGL 3D acceleration for Linux and Solaris guests”

      You know what that means? That means you can have full support for Compiz… inside a Linux guest running in VirtualBox.

  • Applications

    • Two Unusual and Good Twitter Clients For Linux

      Most Twitter and other micro-blogging clients use the same interface as Twitter.com, but two new free software clients make Twitter easy to use from the command-line or an IRC client.

      Twidge lets you send and receive Twitter or Identi.ca updates from the command-line. Although micro-blogging from the command-line may not appeal to you, the command-line makes it easy to fiddle with Twitter, and Twidge works well in shell scripts. For example, you can automate sending updates or filter out unwanted updates from your friends.

    • Zmanda Recovery Manager 3.0 for MySQL on Ubuntu Server

      ZRM 3.0 for MySQL on Ubuntu brings a polished, easy-to-use and full-featured, professional backup and recovery solution to Ubuntu, today’s most popular Linux distribution.

    • Review: Deluge 1.1.6 – Powerful BitTorrent Client for GNOME

      Written in GTK, Deluge is a powerful BitTorrent client which, in my opinion, is the GNOME counterpart to KTorrent, the most popular client in KDE. The version I will review in this article is the latest at the time of writing, 1.1.6, released on April 6, 2009.


      Overall, Deluge is definitely a very good choice, especially if you are a GNOME user. It is powerful, it has a simple and intuitive interface and comes with all the configuration options needed to customise and use it the way you want.

    • Review: Text and Programming Editors for Linux

      When it comes to something as seemingly simple as editing text (programming, configuration files, etc), there are a surprising number of options available to Linux users. This review focuses on some of the more commonly used tools found in the Ubuntu repositories; most, if not all, of these editors can be easily installed in other Linux distributions. Most of these applications have similar core features, but some integrate more advanced functionality.

    • Move over Rambo, this Penguin means business – Time Waster

      Clearly fed up with the penguin’s generally soft and cuddly image, the lead character in Penguinz is Hell-bent on changing that perception. Antarctica’s a dangerous place, after all, and he’s kicking ass and taking names.

  • KDE

    • Konqueror Del.icio.us Plugin

      Its been a while since I posted about my progress with Kobby, but the editor is definately making headway.

    • Qt Creator

      Reviewed: Linux isn’t short of a few integrated development environments, but if your chosen development arena happens to be Qt, and/or KDE, the only viable option for the last eleven years has been KDevelop. KDevelop is a powerful application that supports many more languages than just C++, but the bewildering array of icons, panels, tabs, menus and windows are likely to scare beginners back to Blitz Basic.

  • Distributions

    • Linux Mint 6 KDE CE released

      The Linux Mint developers have announced the release of Linux Mint 6 KDE Community Edition (aka Felicia). Linux Mint is an Ubuntu-based distribution that aims to be user friendly and provide a more complete out-of-the-box experience by including support for DVD playback, Java, plug-ins and media codecs. The release is based on Kubuntu 8.10 (aka Intrepid Ibex) and includes the 2.6.27 Linux kernel, X.org 7.4 and KDE 4.2. Linux Mint currently ranks as number three on the Distrowatch popularity rankings, just behind Ubuntu and openSUSE.

    • Red Hat

      • Red Hat Done Good: Open Sources Data Integration Code

        It’s very easy to treat Red Hat as something of a cold, corporate outsider in the cosy world of feel-good distros like Ubuntu – I’ve done it myself. Its recent comments dismissing GNU/Linux on the desktop have not really helped in this respect. But Red Hat’s steadfast focus on the enterprise market does mean that it’s doing some sterling work in filling in missing bits of the corporate open source puzzle.

    • Ubuntu

      • Ubuntu Manga!

        While Windows is still far and away the OS of choice here in Japan, Ubuntu Linux can now boast something that Micro$oft cannot: It has been made into a Japanese comic. Check out Ubunchu, by Hiroshi Seo. According to Hiroshi’s Web site, this manga follows three students in a system admin club who are “getting into Linux”.

      • Ubuntu License Plate on the Santa Monica Freeway

        I came across this car while driving eastbound on the Santa Monica Freeway this past Saturday. Do you think the license plate is referring to the Ubuntu Linux OS or just the Ubuntu philosophy?

      • Ubuntu 9.04 Jaunty Jackalope – Review

        When it comes to Ubuntu, usually, I skip spring releases and focus on autumn editions, as I’ve found them to be more cultivated and more responsive to my needs. This time, I decided to break tradition and give the latest Ubuntu release beta a whirl.

      • Ubuntu 9.04 To Feature Fingerprint Scanning

        A fingerprint sensor is something new for me as I’ve never had a laptop or anything for that matter that included such a cool feature. It’s THE nerdgasm-causing feature of this decade; you can just imagine Napoleon Dynamites brother using one of these and pretending he’s Agent 007 while doing it.

        I have to wait a few more days for this thing to be delivered in the mail, so in the meantime I wanted to see if Ubuntu Linux would support it. To my surprise, fingerprint recognition is a new feature that is slated to role out with the new version of GNOME 2.25 included with Ubuntu 9.04, which is in Beta right now and scheduled to be finalized and released on April 26. So right off the bat I’m going to be able to replace long complex administrative passwords with just a swipe of my finger. I can’t wait to try it out.

      • 5 feature of Ubuntu you would like

        1. When you boot the system, it will give you many options to start. One of them is starting the session in which you closed your system. Apart from that, you also have the option to choose your language in which you want to operate the system.

        2. Suppose you have a folder of music files. You don’t need to play every file to know which one you would like. You can just hover your mouse pointer over the file and it will start playing. When you move the pointer away, it will stop playing. It does not do it with video files.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • “Cost-effective” PICMG 1.0 SBC runs Linux

      Axiomtek is readying a full-sized PCI/ISA single-board computer (SBC) that adheres to the PICMG 1.0 spec. The SBC81206 (pictured) supports a range of Intel processors, has a 945GC Express chipset, and offers extensive I/O, including two gigabit Ethernet ports and six USB 2.0 ports.

    • Six New Mobile Devices Running Open Source

      Last week the Wireless Association’s yearly technology extravaganza, CTIA, took place in Las Vegas where the top gadget manufacturers shared their latest and greatest in mobility wares.

      While the recently anointed poster child for open mobile devices, Google Android, was practically nowhere to be found on the show floor, the event did feature wall-to-wall exhibits from over 1200 companies. And, here and there, you could find pockets of either devices running open source apps or Linux environments or vendors courting open souce developers.

    • Sub-notebooks

      • Intel aims for 2-second boot time with Moblin Linux platform

        At the Linux Collaboration Summit, the director of Intel’s Open Source Technology Center has revealed some details about the company’s vision for Moblin, its Linux-based mobile platform. He says that Intel hopes to achieve two-second boot time and redefine mobile user interfaces.

      • Ubuntu accuses Microsoft of Linux netbook FUD

        LaBlanc opened by claiming that almost all netbooks sold today are sold with Windows. Well, no, not really. The numbers LaBlanc cites are from NPD’s sales survey. NPD focuses on brick-and-mortar U.S. sales, not overall sales. Notice how many Linux systems you see at Best Buy? NPD numbers say a lot more about retail channel sales than it does over-all sales. Besides, as Canonical’s director of business development Kenyon wrote, “However here is an interesting fact–when customers are offered choice on equally well-engineered computers around a third will select Ubuntu over XP.”

      • Canonical Strikes Back at Microsoft’s Linux ‘FUD’
      • Canonical: End-Users Are Satisfied with Ubuntu Linux on Well-Engineered Netbooks.
      • Nokia MID and Nautilus. New Linux based mobile computers from Nokia

        Well, today we have info about a couple of more high end touch devices coming up from Finnish vendor in late 2009-2010. And, most likely, they are not based on Symbian S60.

      • Foxconn to Manufacture Nokia’s Netbooks

        Finnish mobile phone maker Nokia was reported a while ago to plan on entering the netbook market, and the company already started to make steps in this regard. Nokia seems to have partnered with Foxconn for the manufacturing of its compact mobile computer that was announced back in February at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona.

      • Another Look At Linux Netbook Return Statistics

        Linux can deliver a great netbook user experience. And as more netbooks using ARM processors hit the market, Linux will increasingly be the only operating system choice. Bear in mind that the ability to customize Linux is both its greatest strength and chief weakness, and you’ll be well-positioned to make informed netbook buying decisions.

      • Mandriva 2009.1 (rc1) on the Acer Aspire One

        For a while now I have been considering buying a netbook, for the wife’s parents (who could do with a device to use to look at photos, read email, browse the internet, and one or two other activities).

Free Software/Open Source

  • Freedom & Piracy

    OK, I’ll get off my soapbox now. Where’s the FUD? “Everyone” knows that the Linux community was started by a “bunch of hackers” and the negative connotation that accompanies that statement is well-understood. “You Linux people want everything for free!” This perception unjustly deposits the Linux community in the same class as pirates. I occasionally come across the accusation that Linux egregiously promotes piracy, though this is most often made in the context of copyright violations in the entertainment industry.

    The truth is, (intellectually) Free Software is available to those who disagree with the concept and/or laws of intellectual property. Usually, Free Software is also (gratis) free or low-cost software, because intellectual protection is often what permits software price gouging. The authors are usually the first users of a Free software package, so overall quality is generally higher than one might expect. As expressed in the articles above, the availability of Free Software should reduce or eliminate the perceived “need” for piracy. Free Software is not limited to the Linux platform, but the Linux community supports and fosters this mentality explicitly.

  • Cloud Based and Open Source – Can Business Intelligence Get Any Cheaper Than This?

    So, yes, as I’ve lately discovered, there are open source, cloud based business intelligence solutions. With no more license fees to worry about, you can bring down capital expenditures. And with all the cost-saving benefits mentioned earlier, it would be very difficult to say no to such a solution. Not everyone needs this, but those who do should very well start studying their options. This is definitely one advantage you wouldn’t want your competition have a head start on.

  • Mozilla

  • SFLC/Legal

    • Neary on Copyright Assignment: Some Thoughts

      Dave Neary found me during breakfast at the Linux Collaboration Summit this morning and mentioned that he was being flamed for a blog post he made, Copyright assignment and other barriers to entry. Or, as some might title it in a Computer Science academic tradition: Copyright Assignment Considered Harmful. I took a look at Dave’s post, and I definitely think it’s worth reading and considering, regardless of whether you agree with it or flame it. For my part, I think I agree with most of his points.

  • Sun

    • Solaris Express Community Edition, build 111, released

      Solaris Express Community Edition (aka Nevada) build 111 has been released. Originally planned as a stabilisation build, build 111 will be a foundation for the OpenSolaris 2009.06 release. The build concentrates on bug fixes and relatively few new features are introduced.

  • Open (But No Source Code)

    • CKAN – an idea whose time has now come

      The exciting thing is that not only public data storage but even public triple storage is starting to become massively freely available. As soon as I knew that Talis was offering their platform to host Open Data (PDDL, to which Talis made critical and significant contribution) I started to think how we could get CKAN into it. Not everything will fit. But we can get enough overlap of concepts that we can start to unite the entries using SPARQL.

    • Of markets and black swans and opensource and software

      So what would happen if financial markets get run on opensource principles? Complete transparency. Open inspection. Visible track records. Compartmentalisation of losses, sharing of gains. Moderation not regulation. And yes, the capacity to “fork”.


  • How Open a Platform does “Open Government” Need?

    These documents, which were posted for public comment through September 22 of last year, represent but the latest deliverables of a carefully considered and practical process. The definition and requirements for open standards that the IDABC has developed are both sound in substance and founded on real and well articulated justifications.

    I believe that the EU is following a path that is leading towards the type of interoperability within governments, and between governments and citizens, that should serve as a model for governments everywhere. Hopefully governments around the world will so conclude as well. If they do decide to follow along on the carefully considered roadmap that the IDABC and the Member States of the EU have laid out, vendors as well as citizens will benefit, as achieving a global consensus on what constitutes an open standard for government procurement must inevitably serve to rationalize and expand the market for compliant products..


Digital Tipping Point: Clip of the Day

Nelson Pavlosky, Co-founder of Free Culture.org 01 (2005)

Ogg Theora

Digital Tipping Point is a Free software-like project where the raw videos are code. You can assist by participating.

Insecurity Through Obscurity

Posted in GNU/Linux, Microsoft, Security, Windows at 6:34 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Locked girl

Summary: Windows renders E-mail chaotic and the U.S. electrical grid gets cracked

Nothing beats a brand-new explanation from Microsoft itself about the impact of its poor security skills, which continue to this date.

More than 97% of all e-mails sent over the net are unwanted, according to a Microsoft security report.

This report from Microsoft probably neglects to mention that the vast majority of SPAM is spewed from Microsoft Windows botnets. And speaking of poor security (inherent in secret code), here is another new report, among many similar ones.

Chinese and Russian cyberspies have hacked into the U.S. electrical grid and have left behind software that could be used to interfere with the system, a report said Wednesday.

The original report comes from the Wall Street Journal (thus requiring subscription), but the message is clear. This facility runs a legacy proprietary system that experts have warned about for quite some time.

Here ends another daily lesson about security and obscurity. They have a reverse relationship. There is evidence that shows GNU/Linux to be more secure.

“Two security researchers have developed a new technique that essentially bypasses all of the memory protection safeguards in the Windows Vista operating system…”

Dennis Fisher

“It is no exaggeration to say that the national security is also implicated by the efforts of hackers to break into computing networks.”

Jim Allchin, Microsoft

Microsoft’s Latest Assaults on GNU/Linux, Free Software, and Open Standards

Posted in Fraud, Free/Libre Software, FUD, GNU/Linux, Interoperability, ISO, Microsoft, Open XML, Red Hat, Standard, Steve Ballmer, Ubuntu at 4:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

‘We recommend that we *informally* plant the bug of FUD in their ears. “Have you heard about problems with DR DOS?”‘

Microsoft (internal correspondence)

Summary: Facing sheer pressure, Microsoft goes out of its way to harm its competition

Slandering GNU/Linux

Microsoft is again using NPD, as well as its turncoat reporters, to spread disinformation about GNU/Linux in sub-notebooks. The level of FUD is so appalling that even Canonical has had to issue a response which it labeled “Microsoft, FUD and the netbook market.”

Brandon Le Blanc from Microsoft posted an interesting post about Netbooks and Linux last week. While we agreed with his comments about customers wanting choice and looking for outstanding hardware options, we disagree with much of his analysis and unsurprisingly the overall ’spin’ of the post.

Read on for the factual defence.

Hijacking “Open Source”

CMSWire has been repeatedly selling out to Microsoft quite recently by giving them a voice every now again — a platform on which to pose as an open source player. In the latest example of this, CMSWire at least appends a criticism section where it states:

More and more governments at all levels, such as the entire UK government and the French Gendarmerie, are committing to open source and open standards on a broad level. Many businesses and other organizations are moving more to free and open source solutions as they try to stretch shrinking budgets.

What may be happening is that Microsoft is simply seeing the writing on the wall: play ball and make sure your software works with other solutions, or you will become irrelevant.

Then they’ll shout: “we’re open! … we’re interoperable.”

It would be wrong to buy this. They try to ram abuse and proprietary technology down people’s throats, relying on a company that routinely commits offences (example from yesterday) while assimilating itself to the competition and making it indistinguishable that way. Pure evil, but proving effective so far. Can they sue companies like TomTom for using open source and then pretend nothing is amiss?

Mocking ODF and Downplaying OOXML Crimes

Corruption surrounding OOXML is a well-documented fact. The person who eventually organised some of this process (his predecessor ran away at sight of abuse) is a Microsoft crony [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21] and it still shows, even months later. Here is Alex Brown flirting with Microsoft employees and blaming rules rather than Microsoft corruption. How convenient a revisionism.

Bluehost’s CEO… AGAIN…

In his latest blog post which he titled “Microsoft… AGAIN…” the CEO of Bluehost gives a piece of his mind regarding Microsoft, and not for the first time. This time there is less cursing [1, 2].

I guess I just don’t have much self control. It seems I can’t go six months without writing something negative about Microsoft. I don’t think its my fault. Microsoft just makes it so easy sometimes. Lets examine a couple of quotes by Microsoft management and then you tell me if I’m wrong or not (Have I ever been wrong :) )

Here is the man himself – Steve Ballmer

Yes, “the man himself.” The man who said “people that use Red Hat, at least with respect to our intellectual property, in a sense have an obligation to compensate us” and “we believe every Linux customer basically has an undisclosed balance-sheet liability.”

Microsoft is too desperate to make revenue from taxation of its competitors because Free software and GNU/Linux forced its pricing tariffs down (Windows is now as cheap as $5).

Microsoft tax warning

Patents Roundup: OIN to Strike Back, Apple Clarifies, Lawsuits Continue, and Turnaround Foreseen

Posted in Apple, Courtroom, GNU/Linux, HP, IBM, Kernel, Microsoft, OIN, Patents, SUN at 3:53 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


THIS is the latest part in an endless series which explores our software patents landscape. As Jose X put it in last night’s post, “software patents [are] poised to cripple the industry and shut out real innovation.” This affects not only Free software, but as usual, we choose to focus on GNU/Linux.

Microsoft and GNU/Linux

In what came as somewhat of a surprise to many, Microsoft may be forced to pay $388 million for patent infringement. It’s a surprise because this decision was not widely anticipated.

News Analysis. Some court rulings are just rich with irony. Today, April 8, a jury found that Microsoft infringed on Uniloc patents for product activation. Microsoft uses the technology to protect its software from theft. Who’s stealing from whom?

I expect to read lots of comments on this blog praising today’s jury verdict, which ordered Microsoft to pay Uniloc $388 million. Gauging from comments on past posts about product activation, many of you don’t much like it.

This sum of money and the nature of this case is somewhat reminiscent of the Alcatel-Lucent case (involving MP3 support in Windows). It has been a long, fierce battle [1, 2, 3, 4, 5].

In other important news, there are more confirmations of the claim that OIN may strike back at Microsoft pretty soon (within weeks).

Indeed, Rooney quotes OIN CEO Keith Bergelt, who was interviewed by our sister site, LinuxDevices, shortly after the Microsoft lawsuit was filed, as saying that there could be a “response” to Microsoft from the open source community in the coming weeks. “It’s Newton’s law. For every action, there’s an equal and opposite reaction,” Bergelt was quoted as saying. The story goes on to quote Bergelt’s assertions that the settlement “says nothing about the validity of the patent.”

Another report (or opinion) suggests that the TomTom case may indeed be used against Microsoft:

So in the short term, Microsoft didn’t gain very much by picking on TomTom. And in the long term, the company’s decision to sue could explode in its face.

TomTom may have stepped aside, but some much bigger and better-funded open-source players are now stepping up to the plate. The Open Invention Network, for example, is already pondering a counterattack that could include legal action designed to invalidate Microsoft’s FAT patent.

The next few weeks will be interesting. Microsoft opened a Pandora’s box.


Slashdot has just brought back what is old news (but still new to some) about Apple polluting the Web with its patents. The company has a formal response to that and it doesn’t sound too good: “While the current draft patent policy does state a “preference” for royalty-free standards, the ready availability of a RAND option presents too easy an alternative for owners of intellectual property who may seek to use the standardization process to control access to fundamental Web standards. A mandatory royalty-free requirement for all adopted standards will avoid this result.

Well, RAND and Free software don't work together. Apple ought to know this.

Victims of Communication

One recent patent victim which was mentioned a few days ago is Hewlett-Packard. According to this report, it bailed.

Hewlett-Packard has cashed out of a four-year-old Wi-Fi patent lawsuit from Australia’s national science agency that’s targeted a who’s-who list of big tech vendors with wireless products.

Communication is an area where the patent thicket has always been notorious and now there is another massive lawsuit:

Dallas-based 7-Eleven Inc. and Circle K Stores Inc. were two of nine companies named in a lawsuit filed by Emsat Advanced Geo-Location Technology LLC and patent licensee Location Based Services LLC, alleging the defendants of infringing patents covering enhanced 911 services in cell phones, Law360.com reported.


The suit claims the telecommunications companies infringe patents titled “Cellular telephone system that uses position of a mobile unit to make call management decisions,” issued between 1999 and 2007, and covering location services for 911 calls, allowing for increased accuracy in determining the location of a cell phone user who has placed a call to an emergency operator, the report stated, citing the complaint. It also alleged the companies infringe a patent application filed January 2008, titled “Cellular telephone system that uses position of a mobile unit to make call management decisions.”

Why are such patents granted in the first place? It’s truly an embarrassment to the practice of patenting.


As an update on the situation in India [1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12], someone who is trying to legalise them wrote this article which explains where the system stands. [via Digital Majority]

In India, for administrative convenience, four patent offices are located in metropolitan cities. However, the offices are inconsistent in their practice with regard to software inventions, mainly due to the lack of clear guidelines. While the Indian Patent Office largely relies on the practice of the European and UK patent offices, there have been instances where inventions claiming software methods with a technical effect that have been allowed by the European or UK patent office have nonetheless been rejected by Indian Patent Office officials on the following grounds:

• The term “technical effect” is not defined in the Indian Patents Act.
• The Draft Manual is not binding on the examiners, as it is only in draft form.
• There are no Indian precedents in respect of software inventions.

As a side note, here is another call for a “global patent”, which is somewhat of a euphemism (think globalisation, like Community patent, harmonisation or centralised court for increased damages, software patents, and so on).

Here is another new editorial about the proposed patent deform[sic] bill in the United States. It addresses the wrong questions and dodges common criticisms like those relating to software patents.

It isn’t often that you see heavyweights in the tech world duking it out in a high-stakes match, with Congress as the referee. It’s happening today over proposed reforms in patent law, which pits the software and information technology giants against their counterparts in biotech. The issues are as fascinating as they are thorny — and while each side paints the choices as black and white, there’s enough gray here to cover a fleet of battleships.


One reform everyone agrees on is the need to expedite patent applications. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has just over 5,000 underpaid and overworked examiners to review more than 400,000 new applications each year. It would take them two years just to catch up on the current backlog if no new applications arrived. This, too, is stifling innovation. The office needs the money for more staff.

One person opines that software patents, just like network neutrality, suffers from serious misconceptions.

Software patents may be going the way of network neutrality: an arcane policy problem once the preserve of a small circle of wonks is becoming a politicized slanging match. In both cases an esoteric but important research question has become a point of leverage for certain interest groups. In both cases the subject (“network neutrality”, “software patents”) is at best poorly defined, typically has multiple possible meanings, and at worst is so vague as to be useless. And in both cases, the poster child is the small-time innovator, while the sugar daddy is a big money player minimizing costs (e.g. content providers who love net neutrality, and VCs who hate software patents).

Assuming that it’s true and software patents are standing on their last leg, why can’t the Bilski test be invoked? Sun Microsystems has just heroically attempted this but failed due to some federal judge.

A federal judge has shot down an attempt by Sun Microsystems Inc. to use the Bilski test to invalidate two patents for product configuration software held by Versata Software Inc. that Sun is accused of infringing.

Here is an interesting new essay titled “Ten Reasons the Supreme Court Should Take In re Bilski.”

Erika Arner is the co-author of the Bilski petition for certiorari challenging the Federal Circuit’s limits on the patentability of method claims. She handles patent prosecution and litigation at Finnegan Henderson in DC. I asked Ms Arner to write this post.

The thing to look forward to at this stage is OIN’s response to Microsoft, but all in all, this only legitimises software patents rather than challenge them. IBM would not mind.

IRC: #boycottnovell @ FreeNode: April 8th, 2009 – Part 4

Posted in IRC Logs at 2:05 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Enter the IRC channel now

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