Even Microsoft Rejects or Neglects OOXML, ‘Opens’ What’s Already Reverse-Engineered Instead

Posted in Deception, Formats, Free/Libre Software, Microsoft, Open XML at 7:36 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Kipper or red herring

Summary: The latest publicity stunt around Microsoft Outlook and how Microsoft dodges its promises of OOXML compliance

MICROSOFT is a funny company. It’s not so good at hiding its intention and the result is quite embarrassing sometimes.

Last week Google announced that it had produced an Outlook migration tool (and more than that [1, 2]), which isn’t too surprising because Free software has been able to achieve this for a long, long time (Microsoft’s file formats were reverse-engineered).

“Adobe did the same thing with Flash after gnash had already reverse-engineered much of Flash with ActionScript.”Watch Microsoft as it emits spin in its press release about an Apache-licensed tool for Outlook data access (which was already possible anyway). Might this be Microsoft’s attempt to spin a defeat as generous gifting? Now that Microsoft’s lock-in is cracked Microsoft would love to pretend that it was all just planned and the result of Microsoft’s goodwill. That’s quite probable. The de facto PR agents of Microsoft sure make it seem that way. After it had already been reverse-engineered, Microsoft pretends to have given it away, eh?

Microsoft did exactly the same thing with .DOC and its relatives. After years of these formats being interpretable by other office suites (thanks to hard work on reverse engineering) Microsoft just dumped documentation which explained how to reproduce the results of hacking. Too late, no? Adobe did the same thing with Flash after gnash had already reverse-engineered much of Flash with ActionScript. Adobe gets the upper hand (PR) while offering nothing of value. They all pretend to be opening up for PR purposes and it’s fooling even Free-software friendly Web sites. Why not explain what Microsoft is really doing here and why? In response to some of this spin, Pamela Jones wrote in Groklaw: “Hey, I have a great idea. Why doesn’t Microsoft do this for OOXML, so ODF can be fully and seamlessly compatible, being standards and all, supposedly? Oh, and Google Docs, too? What? You say Microsoft only gives access to things that benefit their business? Oh. OK.”

If Microsoft’s weird variant of OOXML was ever replicated, Microsoft would then claim credit for it, right? But let’s not hold our breath. The goalposts have already moved; Microsoft is still not complying (in the compatibility sense) with its very own OOXML, and it’s already moving away from OOXML into a new lock-in: Fog Computing. “Microsoft prefers cloud over OpenXML,” says the headline of this new article which starts as follows:

Microsoft will base support for the final OpenXML standard on customer demand. The market leader at this point prefers to move its clients to cloud computing, said Stephen Elop, president of Microsoft’s Business Division. He considers cloud offerings a good extension of the desktop software that Microsoft currently sells.

“OpenXML can be implemented for a range of applications,” Elop told Webwereld in an interview. “Some are characterized as strict and some are more broad in scope. We do our best to expand the standard in collaboration with the standards bodies and implement it ourselves. We have taken major steps, but in some areas more work needs to be done.”

Microsoft recently faced criticism because the new Office 2010 productivity suite didn’t implement the strict ISO-approved version of OpenXML but a version that had been rejected.

Forget about implementing OOXML (which is not possible anyway). Microsoft’s implementations of it are mutually incompatible and Microsoft itself is ignoring OOXML. The plan remains to just make Microsoft Office compatible with Microsoft Office (which it isn’t, unless it’s the same version at all ends), which makes OOXML just a red herring.

Microsoft Goes Deeper Into the Surveillance Business

Posted in Microsoft at 6:52 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Three surveillance cameras

Summary: Microsoft’s “Tag” is about tagging people and profiling them

SEVERAL days ago we wrote about Microsoft’s surveillance work for the British nation, adding to similar schemes in India. The Inquirer writes about yet another surveillance technology which Microsoft is introducing.

Orwellian tracking system goes public

DEVELOPER OF CUTE SOFTWARE Microsoft has publically released a tagging system that will allow users to leave a breadcrumb trail for the firm, its advertisers and just about anyone else to follow.

The Vole claims that its Tag software allows businesses who use it as a form of barcode giving access to “advanced analytics” and “real-time location services” to track where users access products and services that are registered with Microsoft’s latest privacy concern.

Just what we need. More surveillance. It’s something to remember the next time hypocrites from Microsoft accuse Google of privacy violations.

Rumours of Additional (Stealth) Microsoft Layoffs

Posted in Microsoft, Novell, Rumour, SCO at 6:38 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

USS Wasp (CV-7)

Summary: Microsoft is said to be shrinking, still; at least it’s not as bad as Novell’s situation

ALONG with Microsoft’s many dead products and divisions came many layoffs and other cutbacks (for instance, Microsoft’s Windows Summit was cancelled earlier this month).

Several months ago we showed that Microsoft didn’t quite stop laying off people. Layoffs carried on more silently, with some quiet ones going on slowly (so that investors need not be informed). This new blog post from mini-Microsoft (an anonymous insider) suggests that “stealth layoffs” are still going on, proving that Microsoft is rather frail and unstable.

Stealth Layoffs: comments here for a while have been saying don’t expect anymore large layoffs but do expect ongoing stealth layoffs, the kind that don’t trigger the WARN act, let alone publicity. If you see your leadership meeting with HR far more frequently than usual, should you be nervous? Well, first step, ask what’s up. If the answer is unsatisfying and doesn’t ring true: yep, be nervous, especially as FY10 wraps up and new FY11 reduced budgets kick in.

That’s the story of Microsoft. Novell is not doing any better after its results. As the 451 Group put it:

But then Novell hasn’t traded on fundamentals for the past three months, ever since hedge fund Elliott Associates launched an unsolicited offer for the company. Novell, which is being advised by JP Morgan Securities, stiffed the bid, but did leave the door open to other ‘alternatives to enhance shareholder value.’ Since Elliott floated the offer, shares of Novell have basically changed hands at or above the $5.75-per-share bid.

As a decidedly mixed bag of businesses, Novell isn’t the cleanest match for any other company that might want to take it home. For that reason, most speculation around a possible buyer for Novell has centered on private equity firms. (The buyout shops are undoubtedly licking their chops at the prospect of picking up Novell’s $600m of maintenance and subscription revenue, not to mention the $1bn that sits in the company’s treasury.) However, we understand from a person familiar with the process that there are a handful of strategic buyers still interested in Novell.

What would happen to the SCO case, which is still an ongoing issue? Novell-oriented Web sites act as though it’s business as usual [1, 2], but a sale of Novell seems imminent and Novell's arsenal of software patents may be a ticking time bomb (UNIX withstanding).

IRC Proceedings: May 31st, 2010

Posted in IRC Logs at 6:16 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz


Read the log

Enter the IRC channel now

Apple Spits on Software Freedom

Posted in Apple, Free/Libre Software, FSF, GPL, Law at 6:11 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: Apple’s action in the face of GPL violations speaks volumes about the company’s attitude

Apple has come under fire for GPL violations. The FSF accused Apple and provided specific details, at least in this followup post we have not yet mentioned.

Since our announcement yesterday that we were pursuing a compliance case involving GNU Go in Apple’s App Store, we’ve received a lot of questions about the details of the conflict between the GPL and Apple’s terms of service. For those of you who are interested, we’re providing those details here.

Let’s start by making sure everybody’s on the same page: in order to use the App Store, you have to agree to the iTunes Store Terms of Service and/or the App Store Terms of Service. You can confirm this yourself just by reading the documents: they say as much in their all-caps preambles. The two documents are pretty similar; this post will give section numbers from the App Store Terms of Service, but the same language appears in the iTunes Store Terms of Service and so our analysis applies identically to it. You can read both those documents on Apple’s site, and we have a copy of that page as it exists today to provide this commentary.

Apple’s response? Here is how the evidence was handled:

Apple these days has a base strategy.

Killing an app because it has a GPL license and your store policies conflict with the GPL is a base strategy. The Free Software Foundation made a political complaint. Apple acted in the way of a base politician — if the other side hates it then it must be good.

Joe Brockmeier concludes:

It is disappointing that Apple took this route. The company could accommodate copylefted software, but chooses not to. The question is whether Apple’s disdain for openness is going to cost it any significant business.

Apple is “leveraging open source” or to avoid euphemisms and put it more bluntly (as we did in our IRC channel this afternoon), Apple is just exploiting free (as in “free beer” in its own eyes) code.

“Why join the navy if you can be a pirate?”

Steve Jobs

Links 31/5/2010: Linux 2.6.35 RC1, KDE e.V. Board

Posted in News Roundup at 5:30 pm by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

GNOME bluefish



  • New president at Linux Australia
  • Linux Australia chief Turnbull steps down

    Turnbull told iTWire that he was moving to the United States to take up a role as director of operations at Puppet Labs, which provides services for the open source Puppet configuration management system.

  • Washing the windows myths. Service and support.

    That, if you use open source products then you will be left high and dry out on a limb without a leg to stand on. They build up on and play with the indecisive Fear, Uncertainty and Doubt (FUD) you might have regarding usage of open source, in particular, Linux.

    Lets have a look at what support there is for operating systems and programs out there. For windows and microsoft related programs there is, of course, microsoft. Only microsoft, no other company or entity can support microsoft programs. This leaves people using microsoft products at the mercy of microsofts whims and whether their problem will be fixed or not is all dependent on microsoft. Sure there are plenty of companies that advertise their support services. These companies can only deal with configuration problems. Real bugs in the programs can only be “fixed” by microsoft and no other. Most of the time this fix, unless you have a lot of money to throw around, will, at best, be released in the next months update cycle. Probably the fix will wait until the next version release or maybe even not at all.

    Open source is a completely different story. There are several companies which support open source. These companies provide the same sort of support which microsoft does and more. Generally the support the company provides is focused on their own released Linux distributions.

  • The application of Linux simplification

    Recently a new client called with a Quickbooks issue. I should probably mention that I do a LOT of quickbooks (POS and Financials) troubleshooting. Most generally this work is done in Windows. Sometimes, however, we get a call about a Quickbooks Linux server. That was the case this time. What was going on was the client’s machines were all losing connectivity to the server. So they called me in. I gained remote access to the server and started poking around.

  • Linux: It’s the Freedom You Big Dummy

    We have the freedom to choose the operating system we use on our computers. We have the freedom to choose the software that’s installed in that operating system. We also have the freedom to say “No” to non-free software.

  • An Auto Company Zips Along the Fast Lane with FOSS

    Started in March 2009, Carnation Auto—a multi-brand automobile sales and services network set up by the former MD of Maruti Suzuki, Jagdish Khattar—offers car owners a wide array of services covering servicing, mechanical repairs, body repairs, accessories, insurance, pre-owned cars, car customisation solutions, etc. From rectifying scratches and bumps, to transforming off-the-assembly-line cars into one-of-a-kind attention-grabbers with accessories, Carnation has grown to 15 hubs across 10 cities, with more than 700 employees —all in a matter of nine months.


    Looking ahead, Carnation hopes to deploy open source on its existing desktops. “We have about 20 desktops per hub. We are looking at an open source desktop platform in these hubs in about a year. We are looking at tremendous cost savings, and the easy management of front-end users’ systems, which are like points of sale,” quips Agarwal. It sure is life on the fast lane for Carnation!

  • Desktop

    • Semantics is Restricting Linux Desktop Adaptation

      I started getting emails from her, complaining that she couldn’t “download” anything. Remember that to the Windows user, “download” and “Install” have some pretty blurred lines. The “run” option once the download is completed usually keeps the user in the dark as to where the actual download landed. They most times don’t touch the EXE file…Windows does that for them.

      Bless their hearts.

      So I explained to her that Linux handled the installation of software differently. I took over an hour to “familiarize” her with her desktop and the functions therein.

    • More Moving Thoughts: Adding to Rikki Kite’s blog entry

      Last week my colleague Rikki Kite wrote a good blog entry on how to gracefully introduce a person to Linux. She pointed out that just telling a person to “move to Linux” is not enough, and that most people will “get lost in the move”. She used an analogy of moving a friend to a new house.


      You might also introduce them to their local “Linux users group” that may have meetings in their area, so after a while these people can also become “mentors” to the user user.

  • Server

    • Cray-1 resurfaces in pieces on eBay

      What are the odds that two different sellers on both sides of the Pond would find themselves peddling some of the processing modules of the original Cray-1 vector supercomputer?

    • Nearly every supercomputer runs Linux

      Announced earlier today, the 35th list of the top 500 supercomputers contains few surprises, just that Linux has almost total domination of the list.

  • Audiocasts

  • Ballnux

  • Kernel Space

    • Guest Blog: Rares Aioanei – Weekly Kernel Review

      Howdy y’all, and welcome to this weeks’s kernel news – OpenSUSE style!

      -We begin our week by noticing a patch proposed by Larry Finger on opensuse-kernel@ that fixes a typo and a reference to websites for instructions; after a correction by Jiri Benc, the patch was committed to the master branch.

      -On vger.kernel.org, the week(end) starts with a git pull request from Ryusuke Konishi working on the nilfs2 updates for 2.6.35, Steven Rostedt with perf, of course, OpenSUSE’s Greg with TTY patches for .35 and the same Greg with a series of 38 patches for the driver-core tree also targetting 2.6.35.

    • Linux 2.6.35-rc1

      It’s been two weeks, and so the merge window is closed. There may be a few trees I haven’t pulled yet, but the bulk should all be there. And please, let’s try to make the merge window mean something this time – don’t send me any new pull request unless they are for real regressions or for major bugs, ok?

      This time, there are no new filesystems (surprise surprise), but there’s certainly been filesystem work both on an individual FS layer (btrfs, cept, cifs, ext4, nfs, ocfs2 and xfs) and at the VFS layer (superblock and quota cleanups in particular).

    • Graphics Stack

      • NVIDIA Issues 256.29 Linux Beta Driver

        Last week NVIDIA had released their first 256.xx series Linux driver in the form of the 256.25 Beta release, but as we discovered, it boasted some major performance regressions for a NVIDIA GeForce GTS 250M and other mobile ASICs. This issue has now been resolved thanks to a new beta release.

  • Applications

  • Desktop Environments

    • Light Desktop Environment for Linux: LXDE (For Ubuntu and Fedora)

      While XFCE also seems to offer similar level of performance enhancement, I would prefer LXDE over XFCE for following reasons:

      * LXDE offers bolder colors and looks a tad bit brighter than XFCE.
      * XFCE asked me to unlock the keyring every time I logged in, to connect to the Wireless, LXDE had its own wireless manager interface and it didn’t bother me with saving/retrieval of keyring.

    • K Desktop Environment (KDE SC)

      • New In KDE Partition Manager 1.1 (II): SMART Status Reports

        KDE Partition Manager 1.1 gains support for reading, analyzing and reporting the SMART status of disks. SMART (sometimes also written as S.M.A.R.T.) is an acronym for “Self-Monitoring, Analysis, and Reporting Technology”. In plain English it is a monitoring system for hard drives and its intention is to give the computer user a chance to take action before an impending hard drive failure — the action being to copy his data to another disk, of course.

      • New In KDE Partition Manager 1.1 (III): Support For 4096-Byte Sectors

        Hard drives are getting bigger and bigger, a trend that leads to some technical challenges hard to overcome without user-noticable changes. The increase in hard disk size means that the areal density (the number of bits stored per square inch on the drive) also increases heavily, which is a good thing at first glance: The higher the areal density the faster the same amount of data can be read and written. Thus the drives not only get larger, they also get faster.

      • The KDE e.V. Board, May 2010

        As we’re having a board meeting in the KDE e.V. office in Berlin, we thought we’d take a photo for posterity.

      • KTorrent First BitTorrent Client To Adopt Open Source uTP

        In March the uTorrent team released the long-awaited version 2.0 of their popular BitTorrent client which introduced several significant changes.

        One of the novelties in the new uTorrent release was uTP, a new and improved implementation of the BitTorrent protocol which is designed to be network friendly. Critics, however, have labeled the new release as unfair, which has resulted in the client being banned from several private BitTorrent trackers.

  • Distributions

    • New Releases

    • Fedora

      • Making free pay

        In several ways, Red Hat already plays the free game well. Out of Fedora’s 21,676,499+ users, if only a 1/100 of a percent ever contribute any content that lands in Red Hat Enterprise Linux, it is a win for Red Hat. It also behooves Red Hat to pay attention to CentOS’s rpm repositories when rolling up the latest updates. As far as I know, Red Hat pays nothing to the CentOS project yet Red Hat can use CentOS as a product development source.

      • Becoming a Fedora contributor

        I became a Fedora contributor after experiencing what I felt was a highly polished distro and outstanding support from the Fedora user community – my Fedora profile can be viewed here. I had attempted to become a contributor for another distro, but the process required to do so ended up being so long and difficult that I just gave up and moved on. I felt that, if they really wanted help, their join process would have been much easier and their people would have been more helpful.

      • Public Service Announcement
      • Fedora 13 Xfce Spin…get it while it’s hot!

        There were not a lot of vast changes in this cycle, but there were some nice tweaks and of course all the goodness of F13 as a base.

      • Fedora 13 – interview and first look

        In general, I like the way the Fedora team approaches security. The installer insists on setting a root password and creating a regular user account. The distro enables SELinux out of the box and has convenient tools for managing SELinux policies. I like that encrypting partitions in the installer is very easy and intuitive. On the live CD edition, the firewall is enabled and OpenSSH turned off, though the firewall port for SSH is left open in case the user wishes to turn on the service later. The only quirk I found was non-root users had the ability to reboot or halt the machine. This probably isn’t an issue for people logged in locally; after all it would be annoying to have to switch to the root account just to shut down the computer you are sitting in front of. However, the regular user accounts can also halt the machine remotely if secure shell is enabled without suing to root, a potential problem for the unaware admin.

        For the most part, Fedora 13 feels very similar to Fedora 12, a stable, modern and well put-together operating system. However, there are some things which stood out that I feel the need to complain about. Generally I don’t like to focus on hardware compatibility, but Fedora 13 was a big regression for me, especially on the laptop. It took more resources, performed slower than the last release and didn’t work with some of the hardware Fedora 11 and 12 handled previously. Forcing users to download the entire DVD to choose their root file system is also, in my opinion, a poor design choice, one other distros with live CDs have avoided. Those problems aside, I generally liked my time with the latest Fedora, the project provides a good balance of new software with tried and true configuration tools. Worth a look if you’re interested in trying new technology or would like to experience a polished SELinux implementation.

      • Fedora core linux 13 “goddard” mini review

        The Fedora Project has been running since 2003 after Red Hat Linux was discontinued. With Red Hat Enterprise Linux being Red Hat’s official distribution, the Fedora project has since 2003 catered to the needs of the average desktop user looking to run a stable and free operating system which did everything he wanted and more. Distrowatch rates Fedora as the second most popular Linux based operating system after Ubuntu.

    • Debian Family

      • Debian Project News – May 31st, 2010
      • Canonical/Ubuntu

        • A look at Ubuntu–and at how Linux can appear to beginners

          One other data point to that effect: After installing Linux on the Dell and Sony laptops noted in the column (in addition to testing an in-place upgrade from the copy of Ubuntu 9.10 I’d installed on another Dell last year), I took that first Dell on last week’s reporting trip to San Francisco–then didn’t boot into Windows until Thursday morning. Everything you read here from Monday through Wednesday of that week was done in Linux. I finally switched back to Windows to write my column, since that required running remote editing software that doesn’t work (or I don’t know how to work–anybody have advice on Citrix in Ubuntu?) in Linux.

        • Variants

          • Lubuntu 10.04 – Distro Review

            Lubuntu has come a long way from it’s first release with 9.10 just last year. This 10.04 release is a fantastic addition to the world of light weight Linux distros and just like the others in the *buntu family I have no doubt it will adopted by many for use on slower/older computers.

          • Linux Mint 9 LXDE RC released!
          • REVIEW: Peppermint – Cloud/Lightweight distro & considering the cloud?

            A strongly recommended distro which not only gives a solid desktop experience that is capable of handling any task you throw at it, but also introduces you to cloud computing in a very non-committal way.

            Just like many of the distro’s I feature here, I encourage you to support this project, the hard work and professionalism this distro displays for me means its one I will be following with great interest in the future and as far as Ubuntu derived distro’s go, this is up there with the best of them.

            I have been contacted by the devs behind Peppermint and have the pleasure of saying that a Q&A session will follow in a future article.

          • Ubuntu 10.04 Lucid Lynx (Netbook Edition)

            For the last couple of Ubuntu releases I’ve been running the full desktop edition on my netbook (Acer Aspire 1). These have run fairly well, and I’ve even had Compiz configured to run the cube and other eye-candy such as wobbly windows – although this may in part be due to its slightly upgraded spec (1.5gb ram). However despite swapping Firefox for Google Chrome there were some aspects that were disappointingly slow, this was regardless of the processor-hungry features that I had running. As a result I decided to give the Ubuntu Netbook Edition a try.


            The other advantage of upgrading to 10.04 is that this version has long term support (LTS). Which means that Ubuntu will provide security updates for 3 years, as opposed to 18 months for standard releases.

  • Devices/Embedded

    • Hardware/Chipsets

      • GPS-equipped ARM SoC gets more integrated

        CSR says it’s now shipping a Linux-compatible SoC (system on chip) incorporating an ARM11-based application processor and a 64-channel GPS engine. The SiRFatlasV offers 500 or 664MHz clock speeds, supports VGA-resolution video, supports DDR2-400 RAM, and includes an on-chip audio DAC and power management unit (PMU), the company says.

      • Ruggedized OpenVPX SBC runs Linux
      • Freescale Cortex-A8 SoC advances to 1080p video

        Freescale announced an heir to its i.MX51 family of ARM Cortex-A8 SoCs that boosts video decode performance to 1080p HD. The i.MX535 processor offers 720p video encode, up to 2GB of external memory, and improved peripheral support including new DDR3, SATA, and LVDS, and is compatible with Android, Linux, Windows Embedded CE, and Chromium.

    • eReader

      • Thinner Kindle — Coming Soon?

        For those of you who think that the Kindle’s 1/3 of an inch thick architecture is just too thick, you may be able to check out a new slimmer Kindle come August this year. According to a Bloomberg.com article, Amazon.com plans to introduce the next version of the Kindle electronic-book reader.

      • Sony To Release eReader In Asia/Pacific Markets

        In each country the company said it will work with local retailers, publishers and distributors to introduce the Reader along with local content.

      • $200 Android tablet offers Barnes and Noble access

        Digital photo frame (DPF) maker Pandigital announced an Android-based tablet that offers integrated access to Barnes & Noble’s eBookstore. The $200 Pandigital Novel 7-inch Color Multimedia eReader is equipped with an ARM11 processor, 1GB RAM, a 7-inch, 800 x 600 touchscreen, as well as 802.11n and SD expansion.

    • Phones

      • Motorola Android Tablet May Be Coming Soon

        Motorola is looking at developing a new tablet-style product that could run Google’s Android operating system, a company exec recently revealed. Motorola co-CEO Sanjay Jha was answering questions at a conference when the topic came up.

      • Psst: Dell’s Streak Isn’t an Android Tablet

        Dell is almost ready to release its first Android tablet, the 5-inch Dell Streak. There’s just one problem, though: The Streak isn’t really an Android tablet. It’s an Android phone.

    • Nokia

      • The 5-minute guide to the MeeGo mobile OS

        In the history of stupid names for Linux software, MeeGo tops them all. But what is it exactly?

        That’s not a very nice thing to say! But yes, MeeGo is an unusual name. OK, it’s stupid.

        It’s a new project that brings together Moblin, a name that you wouldn’t call great, but neither was it embarrassing, and Maemo, a name that kept making people disagree over whether it was pronounced Maymo, Maimo or Meemo. Cunningly, MeeGo tops them both in the silly name stakes.

      • MeeGo OS – A (Faster) Alternative to Windows on Your Netbook

        Steve Jobs may disagree but I think netbooks are fantastic. They’re more functional than a phone and more portable than a laptop, and feature a full keyboard to boot.

        Netbooks are capable of running regular operating systems, but I’ve recommended time and time again that users find a netbook-centric operating system to get the most they can out of their systems.


        Well, MeeGo 1.0 is now available for download, and while the merger has slowed development a little, I must say I’m impressed with this operating system (although I’m still not sure it’s ready for prime time.)

      • MeeGo for Netbooks released — and it’s fast

        The Intel- and Nokia-backed MeeGo project released version 1.0 of an open source operating system optimized for Intel Atom-based netbooks. MeeGo v1.0 for Netbooks — which we found to be speedy — comprises Google’s Chrome browser, Nokia’s Qt 4.6, plus a variety of other tools, and will be followed next month by a handset version, says the project.


        Liliputing’s Brad Linder also tried MeeGo Netbook and found the operating system to be “really, really fast.” The OS will run even faster when it is installed on a hard drive rather than a USB stick, he added.

      • MeeGo Linux 1.0 released for netbooks – Video
    • Android

      • Why I Switched from iPhone to Android

        Ultimately, my reason for switching can be summed up thusly: I used to feel that, to get the best smartphone software and hardware experience, I had to live in Apple’s walled garden. Now, the walls are getting higher, and life outside the garden looks better and better. I can get a really great smartphone without some company telling me I can’t switch out the keyboard, or the dialer, or the voice mail program, or the browser. I can get a world-class smartphone without putting up with AT&T’s spotty network. I don’t have to put up with supporting a company that enforces its restrictive App Store policies in a seemingly arbitrary and draconian manner. I’m not sure I agree with those who say Google has “leapfrogged” Apple in phone development, but I certainly think they’re doing a comparably good job.

      • Android Fanboys Have Arrived. And That’s A Good Thing

        If you’ve ever said anything good about an Apple product, you’ve likely been called one. But a new class of fanboy has emerged — one that, amazingly, may be be equally as passionate. The Android Fanboy. And it’s actually a good thing.

        In case you missed my review of the new HTC EVO 4G phone yesterday, be sure to read some of the comments. As stated, I was coming at it from the perspective of a dedicated iPhone user. Long story short, I don’t really like the device. To the Android lovers, I might as well have killed Bambi.

    • Tablets

      • ARM9-based $100 Android tablets to light up Computex

        Next week at Computex, Via Technologies’ WonderMedia Technologies subsidiary will demonstrate low-cost Android-based tablets based on the ARM9-based, 600MHz WonderMedia Prizm processor and related “SmartTouch” reference designs. The tablets will be manufactured by a variety of Chinese manufacturers, and sold for as low as $100 in the U.S. later this year, says Bloomberg.

      • Shogo Linux Tablet, a Potential iPad Killer

        Shogo Linux Tablet, a Potential iPad Killer: There is a new tablet PC in town that runs Linux, and its name is Shogo. Made by realease, a Hong Kong-based platform provider, this device features a 10-inch capacitive touchscreen and will be available in two models: one has a Freescale i.MX37 (ARM 11) processor; the other model is loaded with a Freescale i.MX51 (ARM Cortex A8) processor.

      • French mini-tablet runs Android

        The French firm EviGroup says it is now shipping an Android-based tablet with a five-inch touchscreen. Running on a ARM11-based 667MHz Samsung S3C6410, the $250 “Evi Wallet” offers 256MB RAM, 1GB flash, a microSD slot, and 802.11n WiFi, says the company.

      • Five-inch tablet runs Android, Linux

        The Aoson M500 mini-tablet runs on a 624MHz Marvell PXA303 processor, and offers a five-inch resistive touchscreen, plus 3G, WiFi, and GPS wireless capabilities, says the story.

    • OLPC

      • Microsoft snubs the OLPC tablet

        THE ONE LAPTOP PER CHILD project has said that its upcoming XO-3 tablet will not use a Windows operating system.

        OLPC’s chairman Nicholas Negroponte has always wanted the Vole to join the party. Last year he said that the organization was urging Microsoft to make a full version of Windows available for the earlier XO-2, which was based on an ARM processor.

Free Software/Open Source

  • FOSS: Free and Open Source Software

    FOSS is an abbreviation for Free and Open Source Software. In other words, FOSS is software whose source code is openly available. People can install and even modify FOSS as they please, so long as they follow a few basic requirements listed in the license. This arrangement makes FOSS the opposite of proprietary software, and one of the most original developments in the history of IT.

    FOSS is a combination of two terms, free software and open source. Both free software and open source refer to software that is licensed in the same way, but the separate terms imply a difference in the reasons for the licensing.

    For most free software supporters, the licensing is a way to ensure software freedom, or the ability of users to control their computers and their contents. By contrast, for most open source supporters, the licensing is a way to improve the quality of software. The open source argument is that, because the source code is available, bugs will be more easily discovered — or, as Eric S. Raymond put it, “with enough eyes, all bugs are shallow.”

  • Top Open Source Tools For Writers

    In this day and age, with all things going digital, the world of writing is getting a little smaller–just ask many of the former newspaper writers and editors beating the bricks out there. Still, good writers will always be with us, and tools for writing continue to evolve. In the open source arena, there are many great writerly applications available. Here are some good resources for finding them.

  • Social

    • Will an open-source alternative to Facebook actually work?

      The anti-Facebook movement has created a level of interest in open-source solutions to the privacy issue where virtually none has existed before.

      After I wrote about the Diaspora project a few weeks ago, I was contacted by Michael Chisari of the Appleseed Project, which is basically the same thing and predates Diaspora by several years. Reason virtually no one had heard of it was because Chisari had spent months developing the entire project himself and had to put it on hold because he, well, reached the point where he couldn’t finish it alone with no one really interested in it.

    • Mark Zuckerberg: I Donated to Open Source, Facebook Competitor

      You might expect that Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg would dismiss the four NYU college students who want to take on Facebook’s dominance of social networking by building a distributed, open alternative that includes a way for people to run their own servers.

      But instead, Zuckerberg said he donated to the Diaspora project, adding to the $190,000 it has raised, in part because he appreciates their drive to change the world.

  • Events

    • Small and Fast Wins

      Ghana is one of those “emerging economies” that I sometimes discuss, with people trying desperately to get ahead and utilizing Free Software to get there.

      Ghana has more problems than just trying to decide whether they should use Free Software. The Internet backbone to their country (and surrounding countries) is inadequate for the number of people it serves, and the prices for the Internet is pretty daunting, so downloading a copy of any of the distributions is both expensive and slow.

      Fortunately I was able to get my friends at Red Hat to sponsor about 500 Fedora CDs for the conference and some university training that I did after the conference. That was the good news.

    • Libre Graphics Meeting 2010

      Already the fifth edition, Libre Graphics Meeting continues to grow and to become more relevant. The meeting was held in Brussels this year, in a great venue: De Pianofabriek. Exactly the right size, cosy, comfortable, engaging and located in a lively neighbourhood. While LGM was going on, parts of this cultural centre were used by kung-fu, folk dancing and classical music classes. There was some good eco beer to be had in the canteen as well.

    • Software Freedom Day Melbourne 2010

      Software Freedom Day is an event held all over the world to celebrate and raise awareness of free software and open source software. Software Freedom Day Melbourne is on Saturday 18 September 2010, 10am–4pm at the State Library of Victoria.

    • Webinar on VC funding for OSS-related vendors
  • Mozilla

    • Mozilla straps on Jetpack 0.4

      Jetpack 0.4 includes four new high-level APIs for coders to play with. The open source organisation said it had held back some APIs that it had planned for this release of the add-on software development kit.

  • Databases

  • Oracle

    • What is an office suite?

      When one executes a Google search on the term “office suite” the first non-ad post which appears is OpenOffice.Org. Now sponsored by Oracle, the OpenOffice.Org suite provides free software for word processing, spreadsheets, presentations, and other desktop productivity tools. It’s commercial version is now called Oracle Open Office.

      Market share for such a product has been traditionally tricky considering that it is free to download and redistribute. Moreover big vendors like IBM and smaller folk since Open Office Suite have re-banded OpenOffice.Org with other free and non-free components. By all means, I applaud everyone who gets in the business of marketing and selling OpenOffice.Org.

    • Oracle adds support for open-source R

      R was initially created by Ross Ihaka and Robert Gentleman at the University of Auckland in New Zealand. It now has a sizable community of users, as well as a large number of add-on packages.

      The new interface will join existing community-developed R packages for Oracle, including a database driver and a user interface.

    • Oracle kills AMD Opteron on Sun iron

      Oracle is abandoning AMD’s Opteron processors, according to a person familiar with the company’s server plans.

      The new owner of Sun Microsystems will not use the new Opteron 6100 and impending Opteron 4100 processors in future Sun Fire x64 servers, and all existing Opteron servers will be discontinued.

    • New: OOo-DEV 3.x Developer Snapshot (build DEV300m79) available
  • BSD

    • FreeBSD 8.1 Enters Beta; Final Coming In July

      FreeBSD 8.0 was released in November, but now the first update in the 8.x series is approaching. FreeBSD 8.1 has entered beta and is expected for final release around July.

      The FreeBSD 8.1 schedule can be found at FreeBSD.org. Before making the July release, two release candidates are expected in June. There is also a Wiki page that’s tracking what needs to be done to this point release.

    • DesktopBSD – a new start

      This is good news for the FreeBSD world, FreeBSD advocacy and the FreeBSD project in general, and current DesktopBSD users in particular:

      According to the DesktopBSD website development of this KDE-based and FreeBSD based, user-friendly system will be restarted / continued by a group of developers


  • Open Data

    • Tim Berners-Lee and Nigel Shadbolt speak out on web institute axing

      In a statement issued today, the pair — who were key in driving through changes in government that led to the creation of the data.gov.uk website and the freeing of Ordnance Survey maps and Royal Mail postcode information — say that “the future remains bright” for the web science project, and that they are convinced that open data will become increasingly important to government.

  • Open Hardware

    • Willow Garage shows how open source is supposed to work

      So Willow Garage is not the only open source robotics effort. Gostai in France offers Urbi, an AGPL system that can be used to build small robots. USC has The Player Project, used mainly for education.

      What all this really represents is hope. It’s at the bottom of any cycle where America really shines. Apollo began at a time when the Soviet Union seemed to have beaten us to space with Sputnik. Open source rose to prominence from the dot-bomb.

    • Willow Garage’s Latest Robot Packs Up For Stanford
    • BeagleBoard to gain 1GHz SoC, Ethernet

      Earlier this year, the BeagleBoard project released a faster BeagleBoard with the newer 720MHz version of the OMAP3530 (Rev. E). As with the earlier BeagleBoard, it ships with a Linux board support package (BSP).


  • Security/Aggression

  • Environment

    • Halliburton & BP – Is it time for the Corporate Death Penalty?

      President Barack Obama pretty much stated the obvious when he called the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico “a massive and potentially unprecedented environmental disaster.”

    • BP Blocking Media Access to Oil Disaster Sites
    • Managed News From the Gulf of Mexico

      It sounds like the crisis managers have learned the lessons of Gulf War and Iraq War media control only too well:

      The problem, as many members of the press see it, is that even when access is granted, it’s done so under the strict oversight of BP and Coast Guard personnel. Reporters and photographers are escorted by BP officials on BP-contracted boats and aircraft. So the company is able to determine what reporters see and when they see it….

    • What BP does not want you to see

      ABC News went underwater in the Gulf with Philippe Cousteau Jr., grandson of famous explorer Jacques Cousteau, and he described what he saw as “one of the most horrible things I’ve ever seen underwater.”

    • Energy expert: Nuking oil leak ‘only thing we can do’

      BP ‘totally in charge of the news’ about oil leak, energy expert says

      As the latest effort to plug the oil leak in the Gulf of Mexico meets with failure, the idea of nuking the immediate area to seal the oil underground is gaining steam among some energy experts and researchers.

    • Markey: BP to Kill Top Kill Video Feed
    • Obama: ‘I take responsibility’

      “I take responsibility. It is my job to make sure that everything is done to shut this down,” Obama said. Saying he was angry and frustrated over the inability of BP and the federal government to contain the man-made disaster, Obama said daughter Malia, 11, on Thursday knocked “on my bathroom door and she peeks in her head and she says, “Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?”

    • The Death Of The Fossil Fuel Companies – Sell Your Stock Now While It’s Still Worth Something

      I spent a lot of time working with engine companies, in getting their engines certified by the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the California Air Resources Board. I designed a range of 3-Way Catalytic Converters, worked to get a retrofit kit verified (you can read a copy of the interim verification here). I’ve worked with emission control systems for Diesel, Gasoline (Also called Petrol), Natural Gas, and Propane fueled internal combustion engines, used on a wide variety of machines. I’ve even done some work on automobiles. During this time I also worked with staff at both major U.S. agencies, and several of the minor ones (each state has it’s own environmental regulator) as well as Environment Canada.

    • Pockets of Architectural Freedom: A Resource Map for Finding Green Building Friendly Jurisdictions

      Those of you who watched Garbage Warrior will know a little about Michael Reynolds’ bid to create a legally safe space for architectural experiments. Here’s a fascinating map (plus an update) from the earthship website showing places “where permitting for environmentally friendly housing is quick and easy.”

    • Keep Lake Baikal alive

      Lake Baikal is a place of superlatives: the deepest, the oldest, the clearest, the cleanest, with the highest level of biodiversity, the largest volume (20%) of the total stock of freshwater in the world, and it is home to an endemic freshwater seal. For this reason Lake Baikal has been on the World Heritage List of UNESCO since 1996.

    • Govs show Indonesian forests the money: 4 billion fund for forest protection

      Indonesian forests got some love and some money this week.

      The money came in the form of a 4 billion USD fund contributed to by seven wealthy countries – US, UK, Norway, Germany, Australia, Japan and France – to be used for forest protection globally as part of REDD (reducing carbon emissions from deforestation and degradation). A program where developed countries provide funds to help developing ones protect their forests. (Deforestation contributes up to a fifth of global carbon emissions – so this money doesn’t just protect trees it protects our climate too!) In addition to the global fund, Indonesia will also receive 1 billion directly from Norway.

  • Finance

  • PR/AstroTurf/Lobbying

    • The Hard Sell on Salt

      With salt under attack for its ill effects on the nation’s health, the food giant Cargill kicked off a campaign last November to spread its own message.

      “Salt is a pretty amazing compound,” Alton Brown, a Food Network star, gushes in a Cargill video called Salt 101. “So make sure you have plenty of salt in your kitchen at all times.”

      The campaign by Cargill, which both produces and uses salt, promotes salt as “life enhancing” and suggests sprinkling it on foods as varied as chocolate cookies, fresh fruit, ice cream and even coffee. “You might be surprised,” Mr. Brown says, “by what foods are enhanced by its briny kiss.”

    • Sex and the City 2: More Marketing, Less Appeal

      A New-Jersey-based skin care company, Repechage, offers a helpful guide explaining which of their products would be favored by each of the four female stars, and HBO’s “Shop Now” link to Sex and the City merchandise on their Web page leads visitors to page after page of movie-related merchandise, including “Sex and the City” foldable after-party ballet shoes, mugs, mousepads, charm necklaces, leopard print scarves, martini shakers, champagne flutes, cosmetic cases, and on and on.

  • Censorship/Privacy/Civil Rights

    • Filter goes ahead regardless

      MINISTER for Communications Stephen Conroy has vowed to push on with his controversial internet filtering scheme, despite a barrage of criticism.

      Senator Conroy told The Sun-Herald that internet advocacy groups such as GetUp! were ”deliberately misleading” the Australian public about the scheme, which will refuse classification to illegal and socially unacceptable web pages. The legislation, which was expected to be passed before Parliament rises in June, has been delayed until the second half of the year while the government fine-tunes it.

      The government’s $128.8 million Cyber Safety policy includes forcing internet service providers to block access to a secret blacklist of website pages identified as ”refused classification” by the Australian police.

    • Peter Watts discusses his arrest at US border

      Tony from the StarShipSofa podcast sez, “Dr Peter Watts, Canadian science fiction writer talks openly to Sofanauts host Tony C. Smith about his arrest by US border guards, being maced, imprisoned, punched in the face and his feelings towards the people that did this. This is a very candid and open testament of what happened on that day and the days proceeding it.”

    • Europe exposes new data share deal with US

      The European Commission has issued its draft mandate – setting the ground rules to negotiate with the US to create a data sharing agreement.

      This must now be approved by the European Council before negotiations can begin.

    • IBM axes union workers – UPDATED

      The Australian Services Union has issued a statement claiming that IBM has told 19 of the workers at its Baulkham Hills Flight Deck centre that they are to be terminated. IBM issued its own statement late this afternoon claiming that its ability to meet client needs would be unaffected.

    • Pakistan may relax bans on YouTube, Facebook

      In a post on his recently opened Twitter account, Rehman Malik, the country’s interior minister, said that the Pakistan cabinet, which met on Wednesday, had accepted his proposal to block only the objectionable sections of the two Web sites.

    • Porn ban on net and mobiles mulled by South Africa

      A South African government official is proposing a complete ban on digitally distributed pornography.

  • Foxconn

    • Foxconn Makes Employees Promise Not to Kill Themselves

      A thirteenth employee jumped/fell from a high roof or ledge at Foxconn’s Shenzhen factory in rural China. The young woman reportedly survived and Foxconn is disputing reports that she meant to take her life.

      The factory in Shenzhen assembles Apple’s the majority of Apple’s iPads, iPhones, and iPods – it also produces products for HP and Dell among other manufacturers. After a string of suicides, Apple has become alarmed and has pressured Foxconn to seek solutions to stop the deaths.

    • Foxconn Plans Safety Nets, May Raise Pay After 12th Suicide
    • Foxconn website defaced after iPhone assembly plant suicides

      Nine of the workers at a Shenzen plant where iPhones and other hi-tech kit is assembled have killed themselves this year, with a further two unsuccessful suicide attempts. In a satirical response, Foxconn’s human resources site was hacked with a spoof ‘We’re Hiring’ notice. A translation of the Chinese-language defacement by Shanghaiist reads:

      Foxconn — We’re Hiring

      Are you feeling down today? Do you feel like not living anymore? Do you want to know what it feels like to jump down from China’s model suicide jumping facility? Foxconn provides you the perfect environment to jump.

      All the many reasons to jump here have ensured at least one jump per week.

      Comprehensive press coverage guaranteed. to ensure your name travels ten thousand miles.

      What are you waiting for? Pick up your phone now and join Foxconn.

      Be the kickass twelfth jumper.

      You can do it.

      Hiring hotline: 514514514

  • Internet/Net Neutrality/DRM

    • December issue of the Open Source Business Resource

      The Two Locks of DRM

      When I am explaining DRM to politicians, I feel like I am Ralph Nader back in 1965. He explained that with an automobile accident there are two collisions: the car hits something, and the passenger hits the car. While automobile safety up to that point concentrated only on the first collision, it was quickly understood that safety features should concentrate on the second collision. This gave us dashboards that weren’t made out of metal, seatbelts, air bags, and other such second-collision safety features. We have the same problem with DRM where policy makers think there is only one “digital lock” being discussed, when in fact there are two and it is the lock they are less aware of that is the source of most of the controversy.

  • Copyrights

    • Entertainment Industry Needs New Business Model, IP Attorney Says

      The concept of the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement is a good one, considering the Internet has made piracy much more of a global problem. The Congressional International Anti-Piracy Caucus emphasized that when it released its international piracy watch list this month. And, of course, it’s helpful if the countries most affected by the problem approach it in a similar manner.

    • The Fight for Fair Copyright
    • QuestionCopyright
    • Internet Archive launches new service for the print-disabled: free access to over 1 million books, including current titles.

      The Internet Archive launched a new service yesterday, bringing free access to more than 1 million books in the specially designed format to support those who are blind, dyslexic or are otherwise print-impaired.

    • ACTA

      • Gallo report on future EU copyright: No compromise on our Freedoms!

        A few hours before the vote on the Gallo report regarding the future of EU copyright, the rapporteur, French sarkozyst Marielle Gallo, has tried to lead her colleagues into voting fake compromise amendments. Mrs Gallo tries to hide the clash between two very conflicting positions: on one hand, the rapporteur’s ultra-repressive logic against online filesharing – including the encouragement of the ACTA agreement and of private copyright police – and on the other hand, the understanding that a successful creative economy will be built with Internet users and not against them. It’s up to us, citizens, to help the members of the JURI committee to make the right decision by protecting fundamental freedoms and the public interest.

    • Digital Economy Bill

      • Digital Economy Act will not be repealed
      • Digital Economy Act will fail

        A survey from law firm Wiggin and Entertainment Media Research asked 1,592 UK consumers aged 15-54 if they thought the law change would mean anything to them. A third of those who admitted to downloading the odd file said that they would not change their behaviour even if the most direct action of Internet account “suspension” is implemented under the DEA. However they might change their minds when they have their Internet access cut off.

Clip of the Day

NASA Connect – PSA – Robots (1/22/2004)

Microsoft and Apple Bad for the Environment and for Labour

Posted in Apple, Asia, IBM, Microsoft at 8:46 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Joan of Arc

Summary: Neo-feudalism and excessive consumption still encouraged by proprietary software giants

JUST ABOUT once a year, Greenpeace activists speak about Microsoft’s poor record when it comes to the environment [1, 2, 3]. Microsoft is typically up there in the hall of shame (along with Nintendo) and this year is no different [1, 2, 3].

Greenpeace slams Nintendo and Microsoft

Environmental campaigning charity Greenpeace has taken a swipe at Nintendo, Microsoft and Toshiba, as it named the best – and worst – in green IT.

Nokia and Sony Ericsson received the highest praise in the Guide to Greener Electronics, published today.

Apple used to be ranked very badly, but perhaps it improved somewhat.

It is worth bringing this up because Microsoft and IBM probably make the most noise about this subject (“greenwashing” as it’s called).

Then there is the issue of Microsoft sweatshops — a problem that’s shared with Apple, Nintendo, and Sony.

The recent rash of suicides at Foxconn’s Shenzhen factory has shined a light on the fact that large companies like Apple, Nintendo, Sony and Microsoft have contracted out the manufacturing for devices like the iPad, the Wii, the PS3 and the Xbox 360 to Chinese factories. In what now seems like a daily occurrence, jumpers at the Foxconn Shenzhen factory continue and now have reached 15.

Microsoft is specifically named in many of those articles and Apple too is a target. Those companies encourage and thrive in planned obsolescence and waste. They do not encourage reuse and cheap labour is a priority to them. This is related to the issue of environment, hopefully for obvious reasons (e.g. poor regulation in China).

“So if one country’s government considers measures to protect the environment or public health, or improve the general standard of living, businesses threaten to move operations out. In effect, they checkmate democracy.”

Richard Stallman

Eye on Apple: Department of Justice Inquiry Expands

Posted in America, Antitrust, Apple at 8:30 am by Dr. Roy Schestowitz

Summary: News about Apple’s alleged market abuses

Report: DOJ inquiry of Apple goes beyond music

Investigators with the Department of Justice have begun asking questions of executives in the film industry and other media sectors, according to a story that appeared Friday in The New York Post.

“The [Justice Dept.] is doing outreach,” an anonymous Hollywood source told the Post. “You can’t dictate terms to the industry. The Adobe thing is just inviting the wrath of everybody.”

End of Microsoft Windows Era

Apple’s online music practices are under investigation.

Apple probe grows

The Justice Dept.’s probe into Apple is expanding to include how the iPhone and iPad maker does business with media outfits in areas beyond music, The Post has learned.

According to several sources, the Justice Dept. has contacted a handful of the country’s biggest media and technology companies to get their views on Apple, which, after years of casting itself as the tiny outsider, has become an 800-pound gorilla calling the shots in several arenas.

“The [Justice Dept.] is doing outreach,” said one Hollywood industry source. “You can’t dictate terms to the industry. The Adobe thing is just inviting the wrath of everybody.”

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