01.01.10

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Of “Cranky Old Nutcases”…

Posted in Boycott Novell, Microsoft, Mono, Novell, Security, Windows at 4:14 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Boycott Novell cup of coffee

Summary: Syndromes of taboo (forbidden subjects) and the impact of talking about particular truths

OUR reader “The Mad Hatter” has written this post which highlights Microsoft’s role in ruining the Internet for everyone. One in two Windows PCs is said to be a zombie and the consequences are obvious.

Barry tweeted a Newsweek article titled The Evil (Cyber) Empire – Inside the world of Russian hackers. What the article doesn’t mention (possibly because Microsoft is a Newsweek advertiser) is that what holds the ‘Russian Business Network’ together is a vast botnet consisting of millions of compromised computers running the Microsoft Windows Operating System.

That’s right. Windows. Not OSX. Not Linux. Only Windows.

But it's never Microsoft's fault. Those who blame Microsoft should go see a doctor. [sarcasm to be noted here]

Jokingly, the above person calls his blog “Cranky Old Nutcase”. We previously explained how those who criticise tend to be portrayed as angry/grumpy and thus irrational [1, 2, 3, 4].

Some readers may already be familiar with TechDirt, which is a site that antagonises abuse in the areas of copyrights, patents, and journalism. It usually tackles Internet matters (mostly those relating to abundance versus scarcity in the digital age). TechDirt’s lead, Mike Masnick, has just written a special post for the new year. It is one that many critics can probably relate to. In it, Masnick explains that TechDirt (or himself) is being described as a site of hatred or anger rather than calm expression of opinion.

Last year, for our final post of the year, I wrote a message On Staying Happy. It seems, at time, that people think that I am filled with anger or rage, because of all the annoying or “bad” stories that show up here all the time. Of course, for folks who know me, this is pretty funny. I’m pretty laid back and quite happy and content for the most part — which was the point of last year’s post.

One strategy for dismissing a critic is to pretend — or sell the illusion — that the critic is very angry and driven by hormones rather than mind. In some cases, those who wish to daemonise the critic will therefore libel, harass and make very angry this critic, striving to make him/her say things out of temporary/spontaneous bursts of emotion (retaliatory, but then conveniently pulled out of context).

There are other daemonisation tactics, such as the ones we wrote about early in the week. We ask our readers not to pay attention where these tactics are being applied. Boycott Novell is under constant pressure for its relatively unusual views (no matter the supporting proof) and there are many sites like that*. To damage their reputation is a cheap task, especially when there is a PR team of hundreds or thousands of staff members (including TEs) at one’s disposal. And yes, we have already proven that Microsoft does smear this web site with its employees. Novell employees so this too (amongst others with vested interests).
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* Watch what happened to Groklaw when it ‘dared’ to criticise Microsoft’s precious Mono. Some publications that we know about consciously abstain from criticising Mono and even spike stories that do so. They are afraid of publishing something truthful that would harm their reputation simply because of Mono bullies and the likes of them. In order for truths to be voiced, the media must become less shy a lot bolder. Ownership issues aside (corporate shareholders), it is clear that there is a problem and it must be solved for trust to be regained; as CBS broadcaster Dan Rather put it a few years ago, American journalism “has in some ways lost its guts.”

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47 Comments

  1. David Gerard said,

    January 1, 2010 at 4:25 pm

    Gravatar

    This is why humour and satire is a useful approach. I’m just waiting for the next stupid thing Microsoft do ;-)

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    If I went as far as you do, there would be pictures here of Ballmer in a bra and Hovsepian mounted upon a donkey’s body. ;-)

    David Gerard Reply:

    Oh, I thought this picture and headline told the truth pretty nicely! You should use that pic ;-)

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    He looks so happy. No leaping, though.

    your_friend Reply:

    That is a good picture and a nice story.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Yes, he has a distinct style and a new dazzling domain.

  2. dyfet said,

    January 1, 2010 at 6:11 pm

    Gravatar

    The most effective tool we have remains asserting simple truth because the only means of persuasion they have is thuggery.

    David Gerard Reply:

    Well, yes. Proprietary software is alchemy, open source is science. If open source wasn’t a fundamentally better way to write software, then free software would have been dead at birth. As it happens, the first two examples of free software were gcc and Emacs, both pretty damn convincing proofs by example.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    One of the most successful today is Apache (and Linux of course).

    Robotron 2084 Reply:

    No. Alchemy is alchemy, science is science. Computer programming is its own field. One that involves the hard work of talented people. Some people choose to work for free and give that work away for free. So be it. Others want to profit from their hard work and ideas. Both methods have produced some great software, and lots of forgettable garbage.

    Calling open source “fundamentally better” is definitely a matter of personal opinion, and not one supported by everyone. While Apache is top of it’s class, GIMP is not. I’ve played some awesome commercial games. Open source games put me to sleep. I’m willing to pay for software that does what I want, the way I want. Maybe you aren’t, but you can’t decide that for me.

    David Gerard Reply:

    Open source involves sharing code and techniques; proprietary software involves hoarding them and then marketing them with a mystique.

    There is the difference that computer programming is engineering, i.e. technology; so you can in fact get temporary advantage from hoarding techniques.

    OTOH: you note GIMP, I note Firefox.

    But the advantage is temporary. The history of open source over the last twenty years shows its relentlessness. Hoarded proprietary code and techniques can be bought or bankrupted; the open code and techniques pool only grows.

    Microsoft’s problem is this relentlessness. I can see why they view it as a cancer. They’re desperately throwing up roadblocks as fast as they can to hold on to the proprietary software business as long as they can. But they know the ending is written.

    David Gerard Reply:

    And all that’s without even considering the importance of freedom in software – I’m speaking only of open source as an engineering methodology.

    Robotron 2084 Reply:

    Hoarding? No, it’s simple capitalism. It’s working to build something, then selling it in order to make a profit. This drive for profit is why people are willing to make the financial and labor investments required to produce something that takes hard work, talent, and sacrifice.

    Open Source is simply one method for producing software, but it certainly isn’t the best in all cases. More to the point, commercial software will always exist and it’s not going away. There will always be a market for software to be created by someone and always be people willing to pay to use it. FOSS, as great as you think it is, is still playing on the same economic play-field as everyone else. We just have a vastly different view of the scoreboard.

    One might argue that views such as yours ultimately harm consumers. The demise of either of these methods means less choice for others.

    David Gerard Reply:

    Well, yes. There will always be people willing to pay for commercial software such as Red Hat, whose stock goes up as Microsoft’s goes down.

    The economic model for commercial software is clear: Red Hat is profitable at commercial software, Microsoft has turned a $40 billion cash mountain into debt.

    Commerciality, of course, is a completely different consideration to whether it’s free software or not. Take care not to conflate the two – there’s a bit of a correlation, but they’re *different things*.

    your_friend Reply:

    I’m tired of this stupid argument,

    I’m willing to pay for software that does what I want, the way I want.

    Only free software allows you to make software do exactly what you want. You can do this yourself of pay someone else to do it. Non free software may only be changed by its owners. Many owners, such as Microsoft, are openly hostile to their users wants and needs as they seek to meet the needs of other stakeholders such as investors and publishers. Free software exists only to meet the needs of users and generally does a better job.

    Robotron 2084 Reply:

    You are tired of that “stupid argument” because it’s a good one.

    Of course, anyone can hire a programmer to modify existing code or crate a new program from scratch. Assuming the average person even knows how to go about doing this, it’s still going to be more expensive to hire a private programmer than to simply go out and purchase existing software. Rest assured, this simple economic truth will likely remain valid for the rest of human civilization as we know it.

    Think of how it is for me in China. I want some ground beef, but it’s more expensive for me to hire my own private butcher to make some rather than buy a half kilo at my local Wu Mart (Wu, not Wal). Either way, I have choices, and I choose the option that costs me less. Sometimes it’s cheaper to have things done for you rather than do them yourself. Particularly if you don’t have the expertise to do them yourself.

    You can try this yourself. Just find your favorite programmer and hand them the source code for GIMP. Tell them you want it to have the same functionality and layout as Photoshop CS3 but you only want to pay less than $500. Not going to happen.

    Your “solution” doesn’t fit the needs and budget of everyone, that’s why commercial software exists now and always will.

    Robotron 2084 Reply:

    David, basing your economic model for commercial software on just 2 companies not only isn’t clear, it’s just plain foolish.

    For the record, I’ve been arguing for the entire spectrum of commercial software. Have you? Or are you too busy focusing your sights on the “evil” companies?

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Yep, it is about freedom, not price. You even have the freedom to choose whether you want to enforce or defeat DRM, as Okular shows.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Enabling DRM is Darwinian selection for ignorance. :-)

  3. Yuhong Bao said,

    January 2, 2010 at 3:46 am

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    “But it’s never Microsoft’s fault. Those who blame Microsoft should go see a doctor. [sarcasm to be noted here]“
    Indeed, in this case only part of it is MS’s fault (mostly in the case of security vulnerablities the botnet exploits, which is in general the code author’s fault), but I agree with the general point.

    David Gerard Reply:

    I do consider that Microsoft has been grossly negligent to the point of culpability. I’m waiting for someone in the US government to get pissed off enough to say so.

  4. Robotron 2084 said,

    January 2, 2010 at 8:08 am

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    Yes, one in two Windows PCs is said to be a zombie, by Roy himself. Here he says it’s 1 in 2 or 50 percent. The article he links to calls it “almost one in two”, but then links to a more precise estimate of 40 percent. Who came up with that number? Rick Wesson, CEO of Support Intelligence, a San Francisco-based company that tracks and sells threat data. Gee, you think he makes more money or less money when people are worried about security?

    A person who wishes to be fair and objective (perhaps a journalist) will try to get as many different estimates from as many different sources as possible. Others will simply find the highest or lowest number they can find and run with it.

    All this reminds me very much of the recent climate change emails that were uncovered showing deceptive tactics used by some researchers. There are some who believe a certain “truth” and are actually willing to use lies to garner support for that belief. To me, this description fits Roy to a tee. His dislike for Microsoft and his work on this website have completely obliterated any credibility he has with anyone who doesn’t already believe in his on-line crusade.

    David Gerard Reply:

    “All this reminds me very much of the recent climate change emails were uncovered showing deceptive tactics used by some researchers.”

    Yes, me too – people who don’t understand the science and aggressively ignore the evidence seizing on something, anything, that they think shores up their position even when it doesn’t, and shouting “I WIN! SEE? SEE?” even as the emails don’t say anything like what they claim, and even as the Arctic continues to de-ice and polar bears drown.

    So too the relentless advance of open source, supplying solid engineering product for highly profitable commercial companies as IBM and Red Hat, while Microsoft turns a cash mountain into a debt hole – all the while claiming its invention of the botnet isn’t culpable gross negligence.

  5. satipera said,

    January 2, 2010 at 11:42 am

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    David, absolutely cracking 7.59am post. To be fair to your opponent I felt he did have a point about the zombie pc statistics.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Microsoft found that 1 in 3 computers that it scanned had already been infected. That was in October or November.

    David Gerard Reply:

    Roy, if you believe Microsoft’s numbers you’ll believe anything. It’s obvious that Microsoft is only attempting to slander Microsoft, and anyone who would believe Microsoft’s words on Microsoft’s operating system is just a Microsoft hater.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Microsoft is just trying to increase sales of security products for its own very insecure OS. :-)

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Yea, Woody once said this about OneCare:
    “If you’ve seen any of my Windows XP or Vista books, you know that I rake Microsoft over the coals about OneCare. It’s payola, pure and simple: how in the world can Microsoft charge you for protecting yourself from flaws in Microsoft’s software? The day Microsoft released OneCare in May 2006, I bellered, and I haven’t stopped bellyaching since”
    Now, most Windows malware is only partly MS’s fault, and MS and most other software vendors already tried to address that by patching the security holes, and adding other security features like the NX bit, /GS (buffer overflow security checks), and so on.

    your_friend Reply:

    Until Windows is free software, insecurity is Microsoft’s responsibility alone. Inability to fix bugs due to limited resources is a primary problem of all non free software, but Microsoft has done worse than any other company. Other platforms do not have the same problems. OSX, non free Unix and other software are less troublesome than Windows despite wide and critical deployment.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Well, yes, you are right about the security vulnerablities, but my point is that though they indeed help the botnets, they are only partly to blame. That is why I say it is only partly MS’s fault. The botnet writers are the main part of the problem IMO, but the users play a role too.

    Robotron 2084 Reply:

    I don’t need you to help make things “fair” for me. Nor do I expect to win an argument with any of Roy’s subordinates, but I enjoy it none the less. Besides, if David was right I’m sure he would edit the Wikipedia article for “commercial software” to reflect his views. I’ll at least admit he looks better in leather than I do.

  6. satipera said,

    January 2, 2010 at 2:16 pm

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    Roy, I agree there is a huge problem with zombie pc’s. I am not saying that the figures are wrong at all. It is just the difference between quoting one set of figures at the high end (1 in 2 originally), rather than saying the figure is between the low and high end. I am not being pedantic just trying to reduce wiggle room for those who would take every opportunity to dismiss the facts.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    Check out the hyperlink on this claim. There are numerous mutually-independent references.

    http://boycottnovell.com/2009/12/23/loss-of-control-of-windows-pcs/

  7. satipera said,

    January 2, 2010 at 6:40 pm

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    Roy,for the second and last time I am not doubting the figures you have given from Redmond quoting 1 in 3 computers are infected, or the 1 in 2 from the security company. My original comment while greatly praising much of David’s post also said/implied that Robotrons criticism of the 1 in 2 figure quoted by David on it’s own from a security company was a valid point as security companies have a vested interest in painting the picture as black as possible. Robotron actually said “A person who wishes to be fair and objective (perhaps a journalist) will try to get as many different estimates from as many different sources as possible. Others will simply find the highest or lowest number they can find and run with it.”

    All I am saying is that this is a fair point and a fuller range of estimates as to infection rates would have been less open to the obvious criticism that was made. It does not mean I have had a funny turn and have come out fighting for Redmond or that David’s general point about infected machines was not a strong one.

    I realise that the constant bombardment from the forces of darkness can engender a defensive posture, but we should be confident enough to acknowledge reasonable points and refute the others knowing that the general case against Redmond is built on firm foundations. Not to do so, especially on trivial matters such as this one could turn the floating voters away.

    David Gerard Reply:

    In this specific case, I would think being able to say “one in two Windows machines is in a botnet*” “* Trend Micro figures 52%, Microsoft’s own figures 40%” makes “one in two” a quite reasonable statement.

    But you are quite correct in general. Open source is science, not alchemy. Code talks, BS walks. The facts are enough and the march of science is relentless, because the technology it engenders is unstoppably self-improving.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    satipera,

    Indeed. Notice that among my links I include estimates from Vint Cerf.

    your_friend Reply:

    There is nothing valid or reasonable in this supposed “wiggle room.” What is the practical difference between 1 in 4 or 1 in 10 Windows machines being compromised and 100%? The result is the same, no one can trust Windows and the rest of us are bombarded with malice. At least one Windows machine at every business is under criminal control. Internet commerce is at a standstill because the relatively high chance of malware on any given machine outweighs the convenience. After 20 years of failure only a fool would use Windows for anything more important than games. Quibbling over the details is empty misdirection when the result is the same.

  8. satipera said,

    January 3, 2010 at 4:57 am

    Gravatar

    Your Friend

    You are completely misrepresenting what I said. I did not say that “wiggle room” was valid or reasonable. I said that the one set of stats quoted by David was open to easy attack and that others should have been used in addition. To rephrase what I said before… This would make it more difficult to dismiss the figures. It has proved difficult even though I agree with 99% of Davids post to discuss a minor part of it without people quoting the obvious points from the 99% that I accept anyway. Less friendly fire please.

    your_friend Reply:

    One set of Windows statistics is just as good as the next. A study by a Windows snake oil vendor is just as trustworthy as anything from Microsoft. The company that always calls the new version of Windows, “the most secure OS ever,” will always dismiss security concerns. We should not join them in this dismissal or smear of the authors. The reasonable conclusion is that Windows is unacceptably insecure and will never be fixed.

    your_friend Reply:

    Quoting any compromise number from the Microsoft ecosystem leaves a Windows proponent deep in defensive territory. They have to smear the reputation of a fellow Windows Partner, which implicitly degrades their own position and that of Microsoft. The more Windows failure is talked about, the worse the Windows proponent looks. The prudent course of commercial action is to assume 100% compromise. Only fools will quibble over the details of 10, 25 or 75% compromise rates.

    Don’t take this debunking personally, it is a reflection of the overall dishonest tone Microsoft sets. I’m not willing to dismiss any statistics from a company based on the opinion of Robotron or Windows TEs. They are liars who always promise “the most secure OS ever.”

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    I agree, laughable.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Except that I would not assume 100% compromise, of course, but I agree that I am probably not going to try to argue the numbers for many reasons.

    your_friend Reply:

    Would you play Russian Roulette with a four chambered pistol? No? Then you would should treat all Windows systems as part of a botnet. No financial transactions, passwords, customer information, sensitive business information or private correspondence should ever be entered or stored on Windows. If you care about your neighbors, you won’t put the nasty thing on a network either. It’s that easy, avoiding Microsoft is a matter of self preservation and politeness.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    Except that there are ways to secure Windows against being in a botnet. And even without botnets you have to still worry about targeted attacks.
    BTW, that bring me to the claim made before that NT is fundementally flawed. For one thing, your_friend claims that ACLs are fundementally flawed, even though Mac OS X I think uses them too, can anyone comment on this claim?

    your_friend Reply:

    Belief in something that contradicts 25 years of observation is about as unshakable a faith as I can imagine. Your windows machines are secure, because you are more clever than the FBI or Microsoft themselves. I can respect and encourage that kind of pride, but I’d point out to you that the free software way is better. Everything you can do to secure non free software you can do for free software if it makes you feel better, but with free software you can also actually fix the problems.

    Yuhong Bao Reply:

    “25 years of experience”
    I am talking about NT-based Windows, and NT has not been existed for that long.

    Roy Schestowitz Reply:

    “Robotron 2084″ has been posting here under numerous names (like names of Linux distros) and mocked people who are proponents of FOSS. At least he is keeping more polite this time around (the party line is the same).

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